"Captain, everyone's set! Come on!" the first mate shouted.
The captain stared out at the rolling waves. So far from port or another ship, and he could not be sure anyone had heard his message. "Go on, hold the last boat for me, I'm coming!" he yelled in response, and switched on his radio again. "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday - Mayday - Mayday…"
Samus awoke with a start, reaching for the controls and switching off the screen with the outline of Earth maritime history. A set of coordinates came up, along with an irritating wail that sounded more like a siren than a distress call. Grumpily Samus reset her ship's trajectory for the coordinates, wondering what had possessed the Federation to use a crying baby as a distress signal. Obviously the person who had chosen it had never so much as held a baby. Samus had tended to a few children during her days at the Federation Academy, her employment coordinator determining that being female must make her good with kids. Regardless of some obvious blunders, she did manage to learn the difference between cries of fear, hunger, pain, or mere discomfort. The sound chosen for the "Baby's Cry" was that of an infant that had soiled itself.
Typical, Samus thought with a wry smile. Shit happens, and I get called in to clean up the mess.
The signal led her to a small station orbiting a lesser moon in one of the Andromeda systems. By space station standards, it was ancient. The dock was designed for ships much larger than hers, back when even small fighter vessels were designed to be three times the size of her own, due to the outdated fuel they needed to use. It surprised her that a place like this would still be in operation; she thought it would have had a few holes knocked in it by now.
As she approached the dock, she noticed a Federation vessel already there, idling. Samus switched on her comm. "Federation cruiser, this is Samus Aran, responding to distress signal. Didn't hear an all-clear, are you handling the situation, over?"
Samus frowned. She made a quick weapons check and prepared to exit her craft, when a cacophony of chattering burst from her sleeping chamber. Samus sighed; etecoons were such a handful. They had helped her several times in her various missions, but like their Earth monkey counterparts, they seemed to enjoy causing trouble as much as helping out. She double-checked the locks so that the rescued creatures could not get out, then opened the door in the ship's roof. She examined the cruiser first. After giving it a quick once-over, she concluded that it was empty and awaiting its crew, which must have gone into the station. She headed over to the station doors and found them unlocked.
Proceeding carefully down the hallways, she noticed that the station had been stripped several times over of any useable materials, by both the station's original owners as well as Space Pirates. She could not even be sure that this station was still registered with the Federation. And yet she had only seen the one other ship outside. She had run across a few space transients, making a living in abandoned bases, but this one seemed devoid of even the most basic needs for more than an overnight stay.
Suddenly her comm picked up human voices. "…haven't met up with Frederickson's group yet, we circled the place and didn't find them."
"Keep looking. We know those Pirates are here. They may have modified this place, put in secret rooms, not to mention traps."
Samus's heart leaped. She recognized the second voice - her old commanding officer, Adam Malkovich. Loner that she was, she still enjoyed hearing a familiar voice now and then.
She walked forward until she saw the two men in Federation gear in front of her, and waited for them to acknowledge her presence.
Adam turned and smiled warmly from under his helmet. "Ah, Ms. Aran! This is a pleasant surprise! You couldn't have come at a better time. We responded to a distress signal, only to find no one here. We split up into two search teams, and one of them has gone missing."
"I heard you say something about Space Pirates. Did they attack someone here?" Samus asked.
The other officer shook his head. "No, we think it's just the Pirates."
Samus frowned. "Pirates sent out a Federation distress signal?"
The other officer did not reply, but turned to Adam, who said after a pause, "We believe the Space Pirates sent out our signal in an attempt to ambush Federation-allied vessels. They've done it before…the ship attempting to help ends up getting hijacked and looted." He grinned wide. "I don't think they were expecting soldiers, or you for that matter. I was thinking maybe you could come with us and make sure that second group is okay. In the meantime we'll make a sweep for any Space Pirates. Any objections, Lady?"
"Not at all," Samus replied, adjusting her arm cannon slightly. "Lead the way."
The two of them followed the other officer, who introduced himself to Samus as Alworth. They walked without a word through the corridors, lighting every dark corner and following each light beam with the promise of a blaster or cannon. But after going through half the station, they found nothing, and not a sign of the other group.
Samus tapped at the walls of a small alcove where a comm deck had once stood. "There really aren't a lot of places to hide, and I'm not picking up any infrared signals or signs of altered walls."
"We're coming close to where we last saw the others," Alworth said. Unlike Adam, he seemed nervous despite the extra firepower on his side. Samus wondered if he was a rookie. It had been a long time since her last visit to the Federation and there had probably been a number of promotions since then.
Suddenly they heard a crash and a bang, and six bulky shapes came flying into the room from the other corridor. "Here they are!" Adam shouted in triumph as the three of them fired on the Space Pirates. Five of them went down in a matter of seconds, but one of them dodged past and fled into the opposite corridor. Samus caught it in the back with a blast and it fell.
Another Federation officer appeared, holding his plasma rifle tightly. "Commander Malkovich! It's good to see you! The Space Pirates have Enson trapped in the far wing. I managed to get these away from him, but he can only hold his position for so long!"
"Understood. Let's go!" He turned to Samus, who stood examining the corpses. "Something wrong, Lady?"
She frowned in puzzlement. "They're unarmed, and one of them just ran without attempting to fight."
Adam made a dismissive sound. "Likely cowards, exiled here, or maybe ambushing freighters is the only job these few are any good at. Come on, let's clean them out!"
She followed, but wondered where Adam would get the idea that Space Pirates would suffer cowards of any kind in their ranks.
The officer they had just met pointed to a blocked hallway full of debris. "Enson's in there. The Pirates blocked this entrance when I tried to follow. Then those other six attacked me."
Adam nodded toward Samus. "You're the only one who can fit in there. Go in and see if there's another path for us."
She hesitated, then shifted into Morph Ball form and rolled through the gaps. Since the beginning, she had sensed something odd about the situation. As soon as she had enough room to stand, she unrolled and charged her cannon, taking a quick look around.
A small room, with another door on one side. No one in the room, Space Pirate or human. Unlike the rest of the station, this room had shiny new equipment. Samus recognized medical machinery from times she had recovered in the Federation medic wards, as well as the portable gurney, though this one had been bolted to the floor and was larger than those used for humans. Her skin crawled. Something about this seemed terribly out of place…
The first sensation was not painful, but rather that she had been turned to stone. Her feet seemed glued to the floor, her body frozen. A split second later she felt the ripping, tearing pain as an electrical current seared through her body, unhindered by her suit. Samus could not even cry out; her tongue cleaved to her palate and her teeth ground shut.
Sparks danced before her eyes, then turned to dark circles, and then the world went black.
She awoke staring at the ceiling, briefly wondering where she was. When she blinked, she realized that there was nothing between her eyes and the metal above her; her helmet was gone. With a start she attempted to rise, but her body came up hard against something hard and unmoving. She turned her head and saw her clenched hand held down on the gurney by steel restraints - her bare hand, clothed only in her blue undersuit. Out of instinct she lunged against her fetters, but of course nothing happened.
"Ah, you're awake." Startled, Samus turned to see Adam calmly standing there, with a friendly smile.
"Adam, what's going on?" she demanded. "I was…there was a current in the floor, I passed out…"
He nodded solemnly. "Yes, you were injured. Your suit started behaving strangely, so we had to remove it. We weren't sure if it was you or the suit, so we kept you tied down while you slept, just in case."
"Well, I'm fine now," Samus told him with a sigh of both relief and exasperation. "Let me out, please."
"I'm sorry, but we need to keep you under observation," Adam said kindly. "The current gave your heart quite a shock. We just want to make sure you're ok."
"What about the Space Pirates?" Samus demanded.
"They have been eliminated, and we found Enson. He was injured too, but I sent him and Alworth and the others back to the ship. It's just you and me." He had a slight glint in his eye that passed so quickly, Samus wondered if she had imagined it. "Apparently, the Pirates had found this equipment but had little use for it, and held it as a kind of bait for any other scavengers that came sniffing around their little hidey-hole. The electrified floor they added later, I assume, ready to snap on their unsuspecting prey. We're lucky it was medical equipment, aren't we?" He gave her a genial smile.
"Yes, wonderful. Look, Adam, I'm fine." Samus shifted restlessly. "I'll lie down if you insist, but I don't really need the restraints."
He made a light little laugh. "Sorry, Lady, but I know you too well. When have you ever obeyed when I asked you to rest? It's just for a few hours. Take a nap, and I'll get us something to eat." He gave her a little salute as he disappeared through the door.
Samus stared up at the ceiling. Something about this wasn't right. Maybe Adam did have her best interests at heart, but as she lay on the gurney, sleep was the last thing on her mind.
She shut her eyes when the door opened again, and pretended to flutter awake when she heard Adam's steps on the floor coming toward her. "Sleep well?" he asked when she focused on him. "All I've got are energy bars, I'm sorry to say. Not very appetizing, but you'll feel better after eating one." He sat down on the nurse's chair next to her and unwrapped one, holding it in front of her face. "Go on."
Samus gave him an odd look, as if concerned for his mental health. "Uh, Adam? I can feed myself. Take off the restraints."
The energy bar stayed hovering over her mouth. "You need to rest. Come on, take a bite."
"Just take off one of them, then!"
"No. Open up, Samus."
Finally she snapped. "Knock it off, Adam! What the hell is wrong with you? Take these damn restraints off and I'll eat the damn bar myself!"
His genial face hardened. "The restraints aren't coming off, Samus."
"Why the hell not?"
"I'm under orders."
Her blood froze. "Under orders for what?"
He set the energy bars down on a small table and stood, pacing as he talked. "It's not something I want to do, you understand? And if you work with me, maybe we can stop it from happening."
"Stop what from happening?"
He turned to look at her. "The Federation is after your blood, Samus. Literally. The Chozo DNA - they want to extract it, they want to inject Federation Marines with it, and give them suits that mirror your own. They want an army of Samus Arans, all under their orders."
"It doesn't work that way," Samus snapped. "Chozo blood isn't some kind of magic serum, Adam. You know that. How about we skip to the 'stop it from happening' part?"
"Well, that depends on you, Samus," he replied. "If you follow my instructions exactly, I can get you out of this."
"For how long?" Samus demanded.
"Not sure. Depends on the situation. Could be days…or months."
Samus cursed. "Look, just give me back my suit. Here's what we'll do. You let me go, and tell the Federation I overpowered you. Not that hard, and pretty damn believable. They can't blame you for that, and hopefully they won't ask you to do something like this again."
He sighed. "It's not that easy, Samus." He picked up the energy bar again. "Here, you'll need your strength."
"To hell with the damn bar!" Samus shrieked, surprised at how her own voice rose in pitch. "Take off these fucking restraints, dammit! Snap out of it, Adam!" She lunged against the cold metal.
"Samus, Samus…calm down," he said in a soothing voice that seemed oddly out of place. "You don't have to shout. There's no need for that here." He bent his head down over her and she flinched as he touched her cheek. "No more bravado between us. We both know you're just a scared little girl."
Her face registered confusion and disbelief, then flashed into full-blown rage. "What the FUCK?" she sprayed into his face, unable to form a coherent thought.
He wiped his face with the back of his hand. "All right, I know you're not an idiot. You can see the position you're in, and there's only two ways out of it. The first is to donate your body to science. Neither of us wants that. The second…"
Samus froze as he touched the lower part of her neck, tracing her collarbone and slowly moving his hand lower. After a brief moment of stupefied horror, her instincts rushed back and she thrashed around on the gurney. "Get off! You-" Here she unleashed a blast of rage in both Chozo and Federation Standard, with a few choice Space Pirate phrases for good measure.
He lifted his hand and in a flash had both pressed against her neck. Samus felt the vessels in her neck pounding, her lungs burning as she fought for air. He leaned down and whispered in her ear, "I don't think you understand the situation you're in. I hold your life in my hands."
Her face turned blue as she choked, arms and legs jerking and mouth open in her desperate struggle for oxygen. Dimly she could register his face moving closer to her own. As she realized what was about to happen she clamped her teeth down hard. She was rewarded with a cry of pain, her throat released, tasting blood in her mouth that was not her own.
He struck her hard across the face, but she did not care, too focused on filling her lungs with air. As she gasped for breath Adam stood with hands clenched in front of her, a little thread of blood running down the side of his mouth. "I suppose I should have expected this," he said more to himself than to her. "You always were a fighter. Stubborn, too. Of course, that was always part of the appeal…"
She coughed, taking in shuddering gasps of air. "You…were you always…all this time…!"
"I'll leave you alone to think it over," he said, wiping the side of his mouth. "You have one hour. I had better have an answer from you by then. Remember, even if you don't care for my idea, the Federation's is much worse." He left.
Samus shivered. To think she had trusted this man, seen him as a friend! She felt a flash of horror and disgust as phantom hands touched her again, unwanted and unclean. She had never felt this exposed, not even when fighting Space Pirates without her Power Suit. At least then she could move. And had a weapon.
She had to get out of here. And soon.
A/N: Before anybody accuses me of Adam-bashing, take note that I have a Good Adam story in the works in addition to this Bad Adam one.