Greetings. My name is Dr. B.

Samus told me that it is the custom for hominids to tell a short story about themselves when they first meet. It took me a while to put together the appropriate story, but here it is: I am a sentient member of the race known to hominids as 'Space Pirates'. Prior to my awakening, I was known as 8411-B, a member of the Science Team on planet Tallon IV. I was a technician working on Metroid breeding, and in my work I came into frequent contact with the substance known as Phazon.

After this exposure, I began to question the Others' methods and presence. I could find no one else who had this sentience, which I called my I, until I met Samus. Since Samus had an I, and she was the most powerful being I knew, I decided to follow her and study this phenomenon more closely. I eventually severed all ties to the Others and allied myself with her, even though she was the Others' greatest foe. For this betrayal I was targeted, and lost my weapon arm helping Samus fight Ridley.

But we escaped. And I was free.

Free to do what, I was not entirely sure. I put this problem to Samus, who said she might be able to find someone to help me.

"There's a Federation space station not all that far from here," she said as she piloted her ship away from Tallon IV. "When I go collect my bounty for this last mission, I'll introduce you to a few people."

I felt apprehensive. "I do not think I would be welcome aboard a Federation station. The Federation has a shoot-on-sight policy for Space Pirates. Even though I am no longer a Space Pirate, there is no way they would be able to know that at first glance."

"I'm aware of that, Dr. B. Don't worry, I think I can arrange something for you."

I was not sure what to think of this, but Samus had put her trust in me when I rescued her from dissection and assisted her in retrieving her Power Suit. So I decided to put my trust in her. Certainly she must know more about the Federation than I did, particularly all the loopholes that went with her particular line of work. I still didn't fully understand how bounty hunters worked, since they seemed to have such loose objectives,; but if bounty hunters could coexist with the Federation, then perhaps I could too.

Not long after, the space station appeared in the ship's trajectory vision. As we docked at the station, Samus pointed to the impromptu missile launcher I had attached to my back. Science Team drones don't carry weapons other than their blade arms, and I had used the missile launcher as well as an Elite exoskeleton to protect myself. "No weapons, Dr. B. You want to look as nonthreatening as possible, so take off the shield too. It makes you look bigger than you really are."

I pointed to the fragment of visor that I had hung over one eye, something I also had taken from a dead Elite. "What about my infrared sensor?"

She smiled slightly. "Leave that on. It makes you look…distinguished."

I had no idea what she meant, but decided to take her advice.

"Here, put this on, too. It's a temporary translator. Most of the translation equipment here isn't built to translate Space Pirate." She handed me a small metal box with a cord that wrapped around my neck, and a tiny speaker that she indicated went into my hearing apparatus.

"Walk behind me," she instructed as she exited the ship. She took off her helmet, but left the rest of her body armor on. This puzzled me; would there really be any threat aboard a Federation vessel that would require her armor? And if so, why did she make the most vital part of her body vulnerable?

I posed this question to her. "I have a certain…image I have to keep," she said in a low voice, as if she didn't want anyone else to hear. "But if I walk around in full suit, it freaks some people out. So I wear the suit, but keep the human face. See?"

"Yes," I said, though I wasn't sure I did.

The first person we met was a hominid, dressed in a brown uniform that had gotten dirty at some point. He dropped his set of tools when he saw us. I assumed he must have been some kind of maintenance worker, hired to fix the ships that docked at the station. He didn't say anything, just stared at us as we walked by.

"Greetings," I said. His mouth opened, but nothing came out.

"Dr. B, no chatting right now," Samus said firmly.

"Why?"

"I want to get you registered with the Federation as quickly as possible. Once you're registered, we don't have to worry about Federation guards shooting you down. Most of this area is bounty hunter territory, but there are things even they aren't prepared to deal with. Nobody should harm you while you're here with me - they'll assume I'm bringing you in on some kind of mission - but I can't anticipate the reaction of every person we come across. So keep the interaction to a minimum, ok?"

"Understood."

We left the hangar and entered a main corridor. There were not many people there. In terms of clothing, they all looked different, even the hominids; so I assumed that most of them were indeed bounty hunters. Nearly all of them stopped and stared. A few actually turned and ran the other way.

"Aran!" Up ahead, two hominids dressed in body armor approached us, both probably male. One had an extensive amount of dark facial hair around his cheeks and chin. The other had light hair like Samus and scar tissue running down one side of his nose. The furry-faced one laughed and pointed at me. "Hey, Aran, are you keeping them as pets now?"

Samus had told me not to talk, so I said nothing. "Hello, Damon, Alger." She spoke in the short, tense voice she had used when we first met.

"What'd this one do that warrants bringing him back alive?" The blonde one ran his eyes over me, as if searching for weapons.

"He has valuable scientific information. I'm taking him with me to close my assignment."

The furry-faced one, Damon, jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "Why didn't you take him to the brig first? Can't have one of those things running loose."

She scowled at him. "Do I tell you how to do your job?"

The scarred one, Alger, poked her in the chest. "You're getting uppity, Aran. Think you're better than us?"

"Yeah, who saved your ass over in the Naron district?" Damon snapped. "Walking around all high and mighty, pretending you don't know us…"

"Excuse me." Both hominids jumped at the sound of my voice. "I sense hostility from these bio-forms. Do you require assistance?"

"Just talking with some old friends," Samus said evenly. "Thanks for the offer, Dr.B."

"Doctor Bee?" The two men exchanged glances. Then Damon pointed. "Hey, this Space Pirate has a fucking smiley face on the back of his head! Did you prank him or something?"

Alger craned his neck. "So he does! You have a weird sense of humor, Aran."

I pointed to my identifying mark. "I used this as a way to prevent accidental targeting on Samus' part. There was not much to distinguish me from the Others."

"He put it on himself?" Both hominids continued to speak about me as if I were not there. Suddenly Damon smiled. "You're just screwing with us, aren't you, Aran?" He jerked his head down a side hallway. "Hey, we'll buy you a few drinks if you tell us the story, okay?"

She nodded. "Sure. Later."

I turned to her as they left, laughing and waving. "I don't understand. Were they allies or enemies?"

She shrugged as we started walking again. "If we were on a mission, I'd trust them with my life. Other than that, they're jerks."

"What are jerks?"

"People that are unpleasant to be around."

"Oh." It had never occurred to me to classify people by the quality of their company. "But I thought you worked alone."

"I do. I met them when I was first starting out…they've been following me around ever since." She seemed inclined to say no more on the subject, so I let the matter drop.

We approached a large set of double doors, with a Federation Marine on either side. They jumped to attention when they saw me, but merely waited until Samus approached. "I've come to see Harlan," she said.

One of them motioned toward me with his weapon. "And what about that?"

"He is part of the mission. He's clean…you can check him if you like."

They both stared at me. "Standard Research drone, no special abilities, missing weapon arm," said one of them. I assumed they must be able to 'scan' much as Samus did. "All right - go in."

Samus entered and I followed. The tone of our surroundings changed immediately. Before it had been simple brushed steel and various other utilitarian metals; the interior of this place had a soft, artificial floor and walls with hewn woody plants used as decoration. A man sat behind a piece of furniture made out of the same material as the walls, its surface covered with a large terminal. This man had dark skin and a furry face, though his fur was much better trimmed than the other man's. He glanced up from his terminal and said to Samus, "Aran. I told you to investigate a Space Pirate frigate, not bring one to base."

Samus handed him a small memory card she had taken from the ship. "It's all in the report, Harlan."

He took it, frowning, and inserted it into his terminal. Samus stood patiently as he slowly read her notes on her mission to Tallon IV. "What's this? An entire Space Pirate colony?"

"Yes."

"What happened to it?"

"I blew it up."

He raised his head with an expression of severe doubt, then quirked an eyebrow and went back to reading the report. "Those damned Metroids…they were breeding them again?"

"Yes."

"This 'Phazon'…did you happen to get a sample of it?"

"Yes."

"And this 'Metroid Prime'…is there only one?"

"I don't know the extent of Phazon's mutative qualities. But I have contacts that would."

The hominid named Harlan scratched his head. "Well…the Federation will find all of this very valuable…I can't offer you more than the original bounty, though…" Something in his voice told me that this probably wasn't true, and I expected Samus to contradict him, but she didn't.

"Actually, I was hoping to ask a favor of the Federation instead," she told him.

He made a short laugh. "Oh, really? Well, you don't ask for favors very often, so I'll at least listen to your request. Can't give you any promises though."

"I need Federation registration for a scientist seeking asylum from the Space Pirates. He has valuable information about Phazon and Metroids."

Harlan looked puzzled. "Seeking asylum from the Space Pirates? You mention a 'Dr. B' in here, but…who outside their species would they employ?"

"No, I mean one of them defected." Samus gestured toward me.

"Greetings," I said to Harlan. "I am Dr. B."

This man who had calmly, almost dispassionately read through all of Samus' exploits suddenly sat up ramrod straight in his chair. "What? Are you telling me he is the defector? This Space Pirate is the Dr. B in the report?" He pointed at me and addressed Samus as if he did not expect me to answer, even though I had already spoken.

"I cannot return to the Others, and have no desire to do so," I said to Harlan. "I worked extensively with Metroids, studying the effects of their exposure to Phazon. During this time I discovered the power of the I, of self-aware bio-forms." Samus stayed silent, letting me speak for myself. "I joined Samus in her mission when I realized that her I was the source of her power over the Others. So I assisted her in escaping Tallon IV."

Harlan's expression chanced from incredulous to calculating. "You are a self-aware Space Pirate?"

"I am the same species as the ones you call 'Space Pirates'. But I am no longer part of their hive mind, so I do not consider myself a member of the 'Others', as I call them."

He watched me with interest. "Do you have a moral compass? A sense of right and wrong?"

I considered this. "I do not fully understand the hominid terms. But, I can say that Samus' I was strengthened by her endurance of crimes against her people, so those who committed those crimes would eventually pay for them with her wrath."

Harlan gave a short laugh. "A sense of karma, then. Close enough. All right, Dr. B, just what do you plan to do now that you're not longer a Space Pirate?"

"I am unsure. But I would like to continue being a scientist."

"I was hoping I could find a place for him on one of the outlying space stations," Samus interjected. "He has a lot of valuable knowledge, not only about Metroids and Phazon but also the Space Pirates themselves. And the people working with him would be in no danger."

Harlan sighed. "And how do you suppose that his fellow scientists, most of whom are human and would wet themselves if they came within a hundred-parsec radius of a Space Pirate, would feel about taking him on?"

"I will vouch for him."

"Your word carries a lot of weight, Aran, especially in the Federation. But you can't expect people to not trust their instincts."

"Give him a chance. He's friendly enough, don't you think?"

Harlan looked at me. I tried to return his stare in as 'friendly' a manner possible, but I don't think the Others can twist their features into expressions non-threatening to hominids. With a sigh, he said, "Well, a friend of mine has an open lab tech position open on Ceres Space Colony. I'll have Andrea register Dr. B here and I guess you two can take it from there."

Samus clapped her hand on my shoulder. "Sounds good, Harlan. Dr. B, I'm going to get us something to eat. Stay here until I get back, okay?"

I nodded. "Dr. B, if you go into the room to your left, Andrea will take your information," Harlan told me. I followed his instructions as Samus left through the main door. At another desk sat a young female hominid, her hair an even lighter color than Samus', dressed in simple black garments with white trim. She glanced up from her terminal with a startled look, then reverted back to the same professional manner that Harlan had. I wondered if she was used to seeing odd-looking bounty hunters, though she had probably never seen a 'Space Pirate' this close before.

"Name please," she said.

"Dr. B."

"Dr. B what?"

"Just Dr. B."

"Is 'Doctor' part of your name, or your title?"

"It is part of my name."

"Are you known by any other names?"

"8411-B."

She tapped away at her terminal for a bit, then asked, "Planet of origin?"

"Zebes."

"Age?"

"Er…I'm not sure…that is not something the Others recorded…high mortality and high replacement, you see…"

"Approximate age, then."

I thought back as far as I could remember. I had only been in existence for a decacycle before the raid on K-2L (Space Pirates have short immature phases), so I was probably not much older than Samus. "Three decacycles."

"Any immediate family? That is, are there any individuals who share genealogical DNA?"

"Many, probably. But I don't consider myself part of their species anymore." I really had no idea which Space Pirates had shared Pod 64 with me, or which individuals had contributed DNA samples to create it. They did not form social bonds based on genetic similarity.

"All right…I just need to get a DNA sample…" She opened a drawer behind her desk and took out a syringe, then gave me a look of disapproval. "Hmm…I'm not sure how this is going to work…"

"You have never taken a sample from someone with an exoskeleton?"

"Believe it or not…no."

In the end I loosened one of the protective patches I had installed to cover the damaged holes in my exoskeleton, and took the sample myself. Just after I gave it to her, Samus appeared with a small cardboard box. The moment she stepped in the room, the most fragrant scents tickled my smell receptors. "Oh…I haven't had any sustenance since those Elite rations! Not counting the chocolate, of course." The smell was not chocolate, but just as good.

Samus opened the box. "Here, I figured you'd like this. Consider it your introduction to human cuisine." She offered me a round piece of meat, with green and red vegetation on top, both top and bottom covered with a spongy material that looked like it could have been cooked, pounded grain. There was also a yellow sticky material I could not identify.

It was too big for me to put all of it in my mouth at once, so I bit into it. Oh, the flavors! Both contrasting and complimenting each other! The textures! The crunching sounds it made! Just as good as chocolate, maybe even better. It was far beyond any sensation I could ever have imagined. "What is this…amazing sustenance?" I asked, barely getting the words out before I had to cram more of it into my mouth.

Samus laughed. "It's called a cheeseburger, Dr. B. I'm glad you like it."

Andrea finished tapping her terminal. "You're all set, Dr. B. You're now a registered citizen of the Galactic Federation."

I finished my 'cheeseburger' with relish. Oh, what brave new world I had discovered, that had such things in it!

--

Author's Note: Although this fic will make mention of some of the events in the rest of the 'Prime' series, most of it will take place in the 'Super Metroid' and 'Fusion' timelines. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that I don't fully understand how Phazon works (I'm not sure the game's creators do, either), and it was much harder for me to figure out how to include it in the story's plot. Plus, Samus does not intend on taking Dr. B with her wherever she goes, so he wouldn't follow her to Aether or any of the other locations in the 'Prime' series.