Chapter IX

Once Samus and Djunn had arrived back at the village, and shortly after the soldiers and their Sleg prisoner, they found Genn outside Djunn's tent, clearly impatient as a result of her anticipation. "Well then, seems like you got some mighty fine weapons there, Samus," she said, clearly impressed. "I could see some of the blasts from all the way over here. It illuminated the jungle. I-"

"What you saw," replied Samus, "Was the power bomb. It is indeed a very powerful weapon capable of destroying most materials."

"Well, as I was saying, it doesn't seem to me the best idea to be illuminating this land around us considering how close the Slegs were to our camp," replied Genn with a slightly skeptical and annoyed look on her face.

"Hate to interrupt, ladies," Djunn blurted, "But I need Samus here to get to Tarkeen; I'd like to see what he has to say. Now, I need to stay here and interrogate a prisoner we captured after the battle. I'd like you to lead the way, Genn."

"No problem," Genn said, happy to be of assistance. "I'll meet you over at your ship, Samus."

Samus nodded and began to proceed to her ship. Once she arrived, she saw Genn waiting next to some winged creature. Genn then began to speak.

"Now I typically don't fly on this bird here, but I can't exactly land properly like you in such a tight space with my usual ride. This here is a Pterasaur; it's a flying dinosaur. I was thinking we should hide your ship in the village, as this mode of transportation is far more inconspicuous."

Samus wasn't too keen on the idea, but considering the events that had occurred that day, she reluctantly agreed. Better to not risk more attention by flying around in her gunship. She entered her ship and lifted off, following Genn back to the village. After she 'touched' down and got out, they covered her ship and walked over to the other 'bird'.

"Now," exclaimed Genn. "I want you to take real good care of her. Tal'Set cleared the path on his last trip to Tarkeen, so it shouldn't be much of a hassle. You've got piloting skills, I'm sure, so it shouldn't be too difficult."

Samus smirked at that last remark. True, she could fly, but operating on the back of a living being needing fully manual control becomes more difficult when you have the point that Genn did not make; the Arm Cannon is part of the power suit. She decided to make it clear. "Genn," she said. "You do realize that my arm cannon is part of my suit, right?"

"Well, then why don't you just take it off?" Genn retorted. She hadn't wanted to, but, again, Genn was more in the right. "Alright, stand back," said Samus. She spread her arms out to her sides, and closed her eyes. Genn watched as Samus' suit slowly dematerialized. What was underneath was a skin-tight blue suit unlike anything Genn had yet seen. "This," said Samus, "is the Zero Suit."

"Good lord, girl, you are beautiful!" exclaimed Genn. Samus' expression remained the usual lack of amusement, though on the inside she smiled a little, and actually tried to keep herself from blushing. "Once I get my jaw back up, we can get going. Wait, you've ridden animals or something before, right?"

Samus reminisced for a moment. "Not really, but I have learned many things from them in the past," she said, remembering how she learned to speed boost on Zebes. "I can connect with them fairly easily."

"Well then," replied Genn. "It should be easy. Hop on, take this rein, and it should come fairly naturally to a pilot and nature lover like you." Samus smirked a little at the 'nature lover' moniker. While she valued life, her past didn't exactly scream 'nature lover'. Though, she had saved the Chozo Ruins on Tallon IV from the poison seeping through the water, and saved a baby Metroid, she never thought a whole lot of what label could come of that.

She walked over to the beast, and stroked its neck as it looked back into her eyes, examining her. It seemed to trust her, as it lowered itself to be mounted. She hopped up into the saddle and took the rein. Should be pretty simple, she thought out loud in a low mumble. She pulled back on the rein, and sure enough, the animal began flapping and was in the air. "Follow my lead!" yelled Genn. "We've got a bit of a way to go, so I'll try to make sure you don't get lost!"

"So how goes the interrogation so far?" asked Djunn, who had finally finished checking on all his soldiers and collecting a logistics report on supplies. He had approached the tent where the surviving Sleg foot soldier was being held captive. "Anything yet?"

"Nothing sir," the soldier replied. "He isn't answering our questions, or at least isn't giving anything straight. We didn't get rough, considering how weak the little one's of those bastards are, so we are leaving it up to you."

"Very well," replied Djunn with a look of bittersweet pleasure on his face. If he hadn't gotten information yet, he was going to now. "Step aside, and stand guard here with the other two men inside. I'll send them out."

"Yes sir."

Djunn stepped inside the tent and motioned for his men to clear out. The Sleg had his hands tied and behind him, and he had been sat and tied to a chair in the center of the tent, with a torch hanging overhead. He pulled a chair "Alright, you son-of-a-whatever-the-hell-you-shits-call-yourselves, what kind of info you got? I know that, even with your chain of command, word gets out among the soldiers of the latest juicy intel, however faulty it can be sometimes."

"Nothing for the likes of you," said the Sleg in the gravelly, throaty voice they were notorious for. "Lord Tyrannus will have your head. He is not defeated, unlike our previous plans."

"Tough talk for one of the lowest shits in your entire shit army, you little shit," scoffed Djunn. "Best start giving me answers, or I start getting a little rough. If you're as frail as you look, I would think that answers would be the better choice." Djunn stared right into the lizard's beady eyes, and he could see fear. He began to raise his fist, when the Sleg spoke.

"Alright, alright!" he pleaded. "We have been plotting something… something you cannot possibly hope to defeat so easily."

"Thanks for the cliché," scoffed Djunn, continuing to raise his fist, now with more anger.

"We have been constructing a new Juggernaut. This one you cannot hope to destroy. This one will spell the end of you… humans!"

Djunn proceeded to bring his fist down directly to the Sleg's face, and upon impact he broke his jaw. The Sleg screamed in agony. He turned to walk away toward the exit, with his back to the Sleg scum squirming as much as he could in pain. Once he was out, he turned toward the first man he met outside the tent. "Beat him to death; start with his feet and work your way up. We'll hang his corpse by the entrance for any Slegs to see. We know what they're doing; what we are up against. They are constructing another Juggernaut. He claims we have no chance, but we have a history of overcoming the odds." The three soldiers outside nodded and walked in, and as Djunn walked away, the lizard's screams put a sadistic smile on his face. So long as we have Tal'Set, and now Samus, we should have a strong chance, he thought as he walked to his abode.

"There it is!" exclaimed Genn. Samus observed her lowering to the dock that extended from the entrance of the structure. Using her new-found knowledge of riding a "pteranadon", she was able to softly have it land on the wooden protrusion. "He can be a bit of a hardass, and quite the enigma," explained Genn. "Just thought I should warn you."

"I know just how that is," replied Samus. She was reminded of Adam by those rather descriptive words. She wondered where he was, and if this 'Tarkeen' was anything like him. She proceeded to enter the building in front of her, and inside it appeared almost like a temple. A man with pale white skin and a sunken face clothed in a dark red robe sat on the opposite side of the room, with a staff in his right hand, and yellow and black creatures with glowing eyes on either side of his throne-like chair.

"Genn!" he exclaimed in an eerily monotone voice. "It has been some time. I had sensed a new arrival in the Lost Lands; is this the new one?"

"Yes, it is," replied Genn. "Her name is Samus. She arrived from the same rift that Tal'Set, your 'Son of Stone', did."

"Such outlandish attire," he said. "Tell me, where are you from?"

"I am Samus," Samus, replied, realizing the rhetoric in her statement. "And I was born on the human colony K-2L. I am an intergalactic bounty hunter, formerly aligned with the Galactic Federation."

"A bounty hunter, you say?" Tarkeen seemed a little surprised. "You do not look like much of a fighter to me. Agile, maybe, but not quite a warrior." Samus smirked at this statement. She once again extended her arms to either side, closed her eyes, and a concentrated look fell over her face. The air around her began to glow, and in a few moments, her power suit was donned once again. A slight look of surprise appeared on Tarkeen's demeanor.

"Impressive, Samus," he said, slightly less monotonous than before, but still in a slightly robotic voice. "That looks like some powerful armor you have there. I have sensed a great force at work underneath our knowing, and I believe we may need more than just the Son of Stone to help us. You may need to put that to more use than you may think you need, or want, too. You will have much to think about on your way back to Djunn's village. I sense we will need you; it is not my choice whether men live, or die."

That last statement made the situation far graver in Samus' eyes. She nodded, and she and Genn proceeded to leave.

"Sends kind of a shiver down your spine, doesn't he?" Genn asked once they had stepped outside. Samus stood and removed her suit, and nodded in agreement. His last statement made it truer that she had some things to think about, even if she was less inclined to trust in the extrasensory. She hopped up on her Pterasaur, and proceeded with Genn back to the village.

Once they arrived back, they noticed Djunn and Tal'Set near the landing site; both of their faces looked very serious. After landing, Djunn was the first to speak. "We have a serious problem on our hands. After you guys left, I took to interrogating a Sleg we took prisoner. As it turns out, shit is about to hit the fan. They have apparently been working on a new –and-improved Juggernaut." He noticed the look of confusion on Samus' face.

"The Juggernaut was a great beast, with bionic enhancements," said Tal'Set. "It was a moving fortress, and I had to take it down from the inside. That was no easy feat, and if this one is even stronger than the last, I will surely be unable to beat it myself."

Tarkeen's senses were right after all, thought Samus.