"Very clever. You know who I am. Everyone knows who I am. What the fuck is a Grade Four Permanent?" I demand.

"A degree of interplanetary exile." replies the figure. He's male, human, wears some kind of black uniform and has thick brown hair in several braids. He has a slight build but has a confident look about him. He certainly doesn't seem to be afraid of the laser cannon in his face. He just sits there on top of a stack of metal crates and stares at me.

"Permit me to introduce myself." he says, bowing elegantly, "I am Agent Doragor, Grade Eight, Global Shun, Self-Registered. But people around here call me Saturn. Saturn as in not the planet."

"Do you always introduce people like that?" I ask.

"That's how I see people." he says, "I can see your immigration status before I can see your face. Even when you're not in stealth mode. I try to turn it off, God knows how many times I've tried to turn it off..."

You're annoying, I think to myself, and crazy, but I'll let you live because what you're saying is of interest to me.

"So, what you're trying to say is that I've been kicked out of the Galaxy?"

"That's the short version, yes." he says, "Your Card won't work. Not that it will matter soon, because soon no trader in the Galaxy will trade with you. Major planets won't even give you docking permission. Every Federation ship in the Galaxy has your description on their database and will fire to kill."

"Oh, shit." I reply, "Nice of them to bother telling me."

"If your ship's computer was a registered model, not customised beyond all recognition, you would have picked up the message left for you to tell you all this."

"They KNOW my computer isn't..." I begin, then sighed, "Never mind. Thanks for telling me."

"We aim to please." he bows again, "I can help you a lot more than that, you know. I have more experience of interplanetary exile than anyone else you could hire."

"And why would I want to hire anyone?" I ask, "I've been in worse situations than this and survived without help." I paused for a second, "Okay, situations equally as bad as this. Besides, if you really are the expert you say you are, I'm guessing your help doesn't come cheap."

"I imagine it costs roughly the same as help from an expert bounty hunter would." he says, "Which is why I'm asking for services in kind."

"What kind of services?"

"You see, if I was a galactic-class exile, the self-reliant type who knew they could handle it, and I had my own ship, I'd completely remove my ship's registration with the Federation, then go to a planet where nobody's going to give a damn whether I'm registered or not."

"I can think of a few good candidates." I say, thinking of Brinstar. Nice this time of year. Lots of plants. Lots of food for the Metroid. Nobody else stupid enough to go near it.

"And that's exactly the sort of ship I desperately need to be on right now."

"I get you."

"Of course, its entirely your choice. You're going to be on very limited supplies from now on, because nobody in the galaxy will sell you any."

Or I could just go and give the damn Metroid back, I muse. Then a thought occurred to me.

"Just tell me one thing." I say, "This warrant... especially the whole 'shoot to kill' thing..."

"Ye... eeeessss?" he takes a small black ballpoint pen from somewhere and starts fiddling with it nervously. I realised I've involuntarily made my visor do scary things again.

"Does it apply to my... immediate family?"

"Generally speaking, ma'am, all exile does."

"We're getting out of here right now." I say, turning my back now.


"I wasn't talking to you."