The Greater Sun rose, the Lesser sun eclipsed as it sank down below the horizon. The light filtered through tinted glass, made of a mineral indigenous to Zebes. The light illuminated a once-regal building that had clearly seen better days, its facades crumbling and plants growing in between the cracks. Yet it still held strong and stable, giving vital shelter from the planet's harsh solar storms.
As the light touched the folds of a thin blanket, laid over a mattress made of woven plant fibers, a small girl squinted against the sun. She rolled over, once, twice, then slowly sat up and rubbed her eyes.
The room was quite bare, save for the girl and the bed. There were no toys, no personal items. She had collected a few pretty shells and other odds and ends to decorate her room, but ever since a poisonous spiny-shell snail had pricked her finger, she'd stopped. She'd had to spend so much time in the room recovering from the poison, all she could do was stare at the bits of shell until she hated the sight of them. She learned quickly that the most beautiful things were often the most deadly.
Carefully she lowered herself down out of the bed, designed for someone much bigger than she. Trotting quickly to the other room, she used the toilet and turned the faucet that ran water into her makeshift bath. The pleasant splash of cold water competed with the cries of the morning birds and other fliers that hunted in in the morning outside.
After a brief wash, she carefully dressed in clothing that bore the same style she had worn for years, for no one in her home knew how to make anything different. They did not wear her kind of clothing. They also had no hair to brush, but had given her a little comb that she pulled through a shock of short blonde hair. None of them shared this morning ritual, which she had been instructed to follow out of habit, for the time when she was to return to her own people.
Her living quarters had been designed for one person, but for an adult, not a child. She did not dwell on this disparity. Dragging a small stool to one of the cabinets, she took out the food that her guardians kept for her. There were two melon-like fruits, a small cup of grain, and a tiny roasted lizard-like creature. She smiled upon finding that last item; Bamy must have left it for her. Although she got all the food a young girl needed, the fact that her guardians rarely ate meat meant that she hardly ever got any, either.
In a drawer she found a knife as long as one arm. Holding the melon carefully with one hand, she brought down the knife with the other in a startling show of strength for someone her size. The melon split clean in half. She sliced both melons and then brought the food to the worn stone table. She ate alone, her legs swinging from the high chairs. Once she finished her meal, she cleaned up and opened the door to the outside.
For Zebes, it was a pleasant day. There were no storms, the wasp swarms had abated, and while the sun was hot it did not burn has fiercely as it usually did. The small girl trotted down a worn stone pathway that led past other crumbling buildings. Already their inhabitants were awake, giant shapes moving slowly about, some of them greeting her as she ran by.
It never occurred to her to do anything else but go to Minah's study. There were no other little girls to play with. There was no place to go that was not dangerous. Every morning she went to Minah's, and Minah would ensure that nothing bad had happened as a result of the Long Sleep, now over a year ago.
As she entered, Minah smiled as well as someone with a beak can. "Good morning, Samus."
"Good morning, Minah." The little girl climbed up onto the chair that Minah always provided for her.
Minah's hands were gnarled and old - all the Chozo were old - but she still had a delicate and exact touch. She picked up a small metal scope. "How are you feeling today?"
"No nightmares last night?"
Samus shook her head.
"Well, that's good to hear. Any trouble sleeping?"
The little girl fidgeted in the chair as Minah checked her ears, her nose, her eyes, her mouth. "The scissor flies were singing last night."
"Yes, I heard them. A frightfully loud noise they make. But you got to sleep, didn't you?"
"All right. Here, Samus, take this and see if you can bend it for me." Minah handed her a small metal bar with markings on one side. The little girl grabbed it eagerly; she liked this part of the tests. Seizing it in both hands, with several grunts and puffs she bent it into a U shape until her face turned beet red. She held it up in triumph. "Look, Minah! Look how far I got this time!"
"Very good," Minah said with a smile. Taking the bar back she said, "That's all for today. You can go see Old Bird now."
Samus left Minah's study and made her way through the city, an ancient structure battered by time. Machinery from an age ago sat rusting; the Chozo had long since abandoned most of it for simpler means of living. Several of the dwellings were empty and shuttered, vegetation claiming some of them. Here and there the Chozo stood in twos and threes, passing the time with each other's company. They did not have much time left, but they saw no need to rush.
Besides, they were still needed, if only for a short time.
Old Bird stood waiting for her at the training grounds. His real name was Armenius; but ever since Samus had called him "the old bird" in an attempt to distinguish him from the rest of the old birds, the nickname had stuck. "Hello, Samus. Ready to start?"
"Uh huh." She kicked absently at a small rock as he fastened something to one arm. A laser blaster, weighing at least thirty pounds, but she lifted it easily.
"All right. We'll start with stationary targets first. Fire when ready."
She aimed with one arm at the series of targets several hundred meters off and just a few inches wide. The laser hit its mark with frightening accuracy. The little girl turned and smiled at her instructor, taking pride in having become so good at the game.
He nodded in acknowledgement. "Very good, Samus. We'll go right on to moving targets then." He turned a switch and the targets moved slowly back and forth across the field.
Samus scrambled back and forth, a few misses interspersed with the hits. Regardless, Old Bird noticed that her movements had become much more deliberate, much more graceful, much more powerful. In no time at all she had taken down the rest of the targets as well. Before he could speak, she demanded, "Old Bird, when are we going to use the targets that shoot back?"
He smiled gently. "I don't think you're quite ready for that."
"Please?" She showed just the smallest trace of an ordinary child's impatience. "We've been doing these for weeks!"
"Oh…" He pondered for a while. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to try…"
"Watch, Old Bird," she ordered, as if he wouldn't. "Watch me." She weaved back and forth, firing at the targets as they hurled hollow, ceramic balls at her. Samus fired at both with a determined, excited expression on her face. Old Bird watched with considerable surprise. At this rate, there was no telling how far she could…
"Ow, ow!" Samus's head jerked back as one of the ceramic balls hit her square in the eye. Old Bird hurriedly turned off the machine and ran over to pick her up from the ground. "I'm all right," she grumbled, trying to push him away.
"You don't look all right," he said as he gently examined her face. A black eye bloomed darkly. "I think we'll end training for today and focus on history instead."
"But Old Bird…" Samus did not much care for Chozo history, though she tried to hide it. She gave no indication of knowing that the ball would have crushed her skull before she had gone through the Long Sleep.
"No more training, Samus. You can push your body to its limits, but no further," he said sternly. "Part of being a warrior is knowing when to rest."
"Fine," she grumbled.
"All right. We can continue this tomorrow. I'm sure you'll have healed up by then."
A/N: Old Bird's name is the only thing that will follow the canon set in the manga.