Disclaimer: I do not own Metroid, and I do not own any concepts of any of the Metroid games' stories.
Life on Aether was not ferocious by nature. Life on Aether was not primitive by nature. The thought that the life of the planet was naturally hostile with a limited capacity for intelligence was a very common one; it was also a false one. Everything from a harmless, hidden kralee, to a vicious, tense-muscled adult blogg had as much capacity for thought, love, sorrow, and fury as the Luminoth.
Aether's native life was hardly its greatest threat.
Rather, it was the impossible shadow the planet cast as the stars shone full upon it -- a dark, venomous, and envious shadow. Its skies knew no respite from their mess of churning storms, the black clouds gripping it tight and pouring their acidic content into the air above the cracked, dry, deserted ground; nor the lightning that charred its surface permanently. Its entire being was a mirror, one that twisted the image of Aether -- an image it very badly wanted to be, but could only reflect bitterly.
If it couldn't be the image, then it would destroy it.
However, the enmity between the two worlds is not quite the focus of this text. Instead, it will focus on the strain enforced on Aether by the furious bid to survive. That deadly grip taxed everything, and the planet's life, in its desperate, wounded confusion, finally cried out with a fury not known since long before the last of the Luminoth retired in a fearful loss of their war.
Though the creatures had not the resources to rush right into Dark Aether's death-promising embrace, and lacked the strength to fight breathing its atmosphere, standing on its soil, nor swimming in its corroded waters, they didn't have to have those things.
All they needed was a will to survive.
"We cannot survive a Great Migration," the flockleader stated flatly. "Without the Light of Aether to sustain us, we will die."
"Rekaire, you know full well that Agon holds a greater promise of hospitality than this place," another sandbat spoke, hopping forward as he did so. "Look at us," he said grimly, gesturing with a pale brown, crimson-edged wing to the others in the flock. "We grow weak because we draw our strength from the Light of Aether, and its power in turn shrinks for all the energy we take from it."
"I know that," the first voice sighed. "But need I remind you -- Agon's Light was taken long ago. It's a barren wasteland, and whatever plantlife remains would be too little for us to feed on. Remember that many a flock already have residence there, feeding off of what resources remain. And," he added, voice dropping to a darker tone, "keep in mind that since its Light was taken, Agon has become a permanent home to the Dry Storm."
Everyone in the flock quieted at the mention of the Storm -- soon the entire little cave became silent and hardly a rustle of a wing could be heard, nor a single shivering breath. After the greatest energy source of their already ruined world had been taken, this flock had fled here in hopes of finding a safe haven, a place closer to the Light of Aether they sought. It had been difficult to reach such a height in the air -- sandbats were not easily accustomed to drastic changes in their environment. But they had survived.
The devastation of the land was not the only reason they fled Agon; as dark and brooding clouds shrouded much of the desert world, the first peals of thunder had sent their flock among a few others fleeing as fast as their wings would carry them.
No sooner than they had grabbed their young ones, spread the alarm to the elderly and taken wing to Light like moths drawn to a flickering flame, pale forks of lightning licked at the very ground upon which the sandgrasses grew. With these white-hot, fanged tongues of death came an unsettling, near continuous rumble somewhere in the sky. Though the storm continued with no end in sight or in hearing, no skyfall dribbled from the great heights and splashed to the ground below. Or maybe there was -- but either way, not a single droplet of water made it to the parched, cracked, rocky sands far below the storm system.
Such was the Dry Storm: a relentless flashing of lightning in the sky and on the ground. There was no rainfall; the only torrent was that of fierce sandsweeping winds that brought the tiny rock particles flying through the air, stinging into the skin of those who had no exoskeleton to protect them and temporarily, but painfully, blinding any foolish enough to open their eyes to it. The creatures of Agon were forced to adapt quickly, flee, or die trying either of the two. Sandbats were not necessarily designed for such sudden changes: the majority of them flocked to safety and the few that braved the storm hoped to tough it out and possibly adapt to the harsher conditions.
At present the second and the smaller of the two sandbats recovered. The subject was certainly not to be taken lightly, and even a vague mention of it could put one off of the idea of venturing to Agon for weeks to come. "Dry Storm or no Storm, Light of Aether or no Light, still we must go," he argued calmly. "We have no reason to remain here; keep that in mind." He spoke his last sentence as he looked over the flock clustered in the small cavern.
"Lukrein, I understand where you are coming from," the flockleader said patiently. "But to brave such a harsh climate? A large, extended family such as our own cannot risk it. The elders and young ones -- surely they cannot make it. Most all the adolescents and adults will, I am sure. But the others in our family may not be so fortunate."
"This is true. But think of what we will suffer if we do not go... The longer we wait, the worse our situation will become. Don't you see?" Lukrein asked, lifting his eyes to the other sandbat's. "The journey will be hard, but later, it will only be harder. If ever we choose to move, it must be now. I will go -- regardless of who chooses to follow, be it all of you or none of you. The Dry Storm poses no threat to us as long as the Bearerpods of Agon are there to draw water from deep beneath the earth. We will find a place that shelters us from the storm, else we will fly it and ride its currents like the others of our kind that must be out there."
A third sandbat hopped forward, bowing in a gesture of respect with brown, crimson-stained wings halfway outspread. "I will go," she said swiftly and clearly. "We are not like most of our kind -- we cannot turn on each other simply because we find nothing to sustain ourselves."
Rekaire snorted, a thin expulsion of air from his slitted nostrils. "You always were one for peace..."
"Yes, and I won't allow our family to fall into turmoil," Nydia growled. "I refuse to let that happen. If a brizgee can be sociable when it has yet to find something beneath the sand to eat in many an hour, then why can't we care about ourselves?"
Lukrein smiled slightly and returned the bow. "You have my thanks, Nydia...and you are correct. If we can hold together a suitable formation, and with a slow enough descent, I think that we will be fine."
"We'll be perfect," she said simply. "There's no reason for us to be whipped right out of the sky. We will make it, regardless of any bad weather not wanting us to."
The male sandbat nodded. "Let us go, then. No point in remaining, as I said."
"Hm...you're right. My apologies...it seems we have a neighbor. A sinister one, at that. Or ones...you can never tell with the blasted shadows." The little bat snarled the last sentence to herself, aware of the irritating sense of anger and fear mixing as her thoughts turned to the images of malicious shadow-creatures, or the eerily augmented body of whatever hapless host they may take. It was all the same: blackened body, cruelly glittering eyes, teeth or claws sometimes the full length of her own wing...
"Then let us leave the dimming light and shadows behind," Lukrein offered. "We would be hard pressed if we stay until the night falls onto everything."
"Sounds like a very appealing proposition," Nydia decided. "All of you who wish to seek refuge in Agon, you may follow us." At that, she jumped into the air and flew a full circle before diving through the low entrance to their small cavern. She was followed by a majority of the flockmembers, and the last remaining few trailed off as they reluctantly followed behind. Most paid no mind to anything but the shifting spaces amongst softly clanking gears and wheels, waiting for a chance to slip through the sudden and temporary spaces they were provided.
For those that drifted lazily behind, a menacing light for an instant met their eyes -- but just as quickly as it had reared out of the silence of the Great Temple with a hiss, it died and shrank to nothing. The smooth, dark green piece of metal cut with lines of glowing yellow now pointed at them was unfamiliar. Not a second ago, it had been split apart, cracking open in several different places to reveal the dangerous heat within it. Now it dropped just as quickly as it had risen; the slowly growing splits in its surface snapped shut quietly. Its inner core disappeared from view, the angry, glowering brightness of it shielded by the thick coating of metal alloy.
Evidently this creature wielding it decided the sandbats were not important. It was armored, but beyond the cover of that little bright green window...there was no malevolent, twinkling glow in its eyes nor a dark color to any part of its being.
A stranger to Aether...and one to be trusted...?
Lingering behind the others, Nydia returned its gaze of a quiet, calm curiosity, before dipping her head and then her forequarters, bowing in midair as best she could. She flew in a half-circle, pointing one wing toward the door and calling out a note of caution prior to sweeping out of the stone and metal enclave.
To anything with ears to hear it, the sandbat's call sounded but a thin and trembling whistle, wavering through the air like an unsteady and fickle breeze. In that whistle was buried a sound of warning, an illumination of what lay ahead. Perhaps it was understood, and perhaps it was not...
Author's Note: Reviews welcome. As long as it isn't given rudely, constructive criticism is much appreciated. You see, fanfiction is a new toy I've discovered...and I want to learn everything I can about it. I hope you enjoyed this piece; if there's any questions or clarifications you would like to be answered, don't hesitate to ask.