Planet Krawna. A mining world similar to my birthplace, K-2L. Here, they mine the large supply of Fuel Gel, which fuels the powerful Galactic Federation Starships. And again like K-2L, it had recently been assaulted by Space Pirates.

That was why I was here. The Federation had hired me to help in the search for any survivors. A fairly simple task, though it was made difficult by the near-endless supply of rubble and debris scattered around the devastated facility. I hefted up a large piece of wreckage with the enhanced strength granted to me by my Chozo Varia Suit. After finding nothing, I let the scrap drop with a heavy thud.

"Gear, remind again me why I agreed to this mission." I asked the automated computer installed in my gunship via comm-link.

"You said, quote, 'I really need the cash.'" Gear responded in a bored tone. Unlike most other ship AI programs, Gear had an entire personality that made it hard to call him an "it." He got on my nerves occasionally, with his constant sarcasm and the usual bored persona that came with his being a computer (staying in one place for too long tends to get dull), but he makes up for it by supplying me with info when necessary.

"Right," I replied when he answered. "Run another scan of the area. I want to be absolutely sure that there's nobody here before I leave someone behind."

"Just a moment," Gear said as he ran his scan. I looked around the area, scanning the field of debris with my eyes as I waited for Gear to finish his own scan. This place brought back a lot of bad memories of K-2L. My father dying in an explosion. My mother being incinerated right in front of me. I clenched my fist angrily. This was why the Pirates had to be eradicated. They kill and steal without a second thought, and even sacrifice each other for personal gain. "Found something." Gear's voice brought me back from memory lane.

"Where?"

"Off to your right, about fifteen meters away from your current position. But there's too much interference for me to determine what it is, so keep your guard up."

"Thank you." I headed in the specified direction, keeping an eye out for any signs of life. I stopped when I heard what sounded like a little girl crying. I turned in the direction of the sound and saw a relatively small, metal shed, probably for spare tools or weapons. As I approached the door, I suddenly heard a gunshot, and a bullet shell bounced of my armor, making me jump back in surprise.

I looked into the darkness of the shed, Arm Cannon at the ready, but was once again caught off guard by what I found. Inside the shed was little girl, who couldn't have been any older than six years. In her tiny hands was a handgun, whose barrel was smoking slightly. The young girl held a look of fear in her eyes. She probably thought that I was going to hurt her.

"That little girl is the life form I detected," Gear confirmed. "Be careful. She doesn't seem completely stable right now." I sighed at that. I had pretty much figured that out when she shot at me.

Without stepping any closer, I knelt down outside the shed and said, "Don't worry. I won't hurt you. You can trust me."

"You're lying," the girl said in a serious tone that didn't sound natural to her. "You're one of those monsters that came and killed Mommy and Daddy, aren't you? Admit it!"

My eyes widened at this revelation. This girl was just like me: orphaned by the Space Pirates and rendered permanently suspicious of newcomers. I sighed sadly to myself and sent a mental command to my suit, ordering it to deactivate. Wearing nothing but the Zero Suit, my blue, skintight uniform, I held out my hand once again.

"See?" I said in a tone that I hoped was warm enough for her to trust. "I'm not a monster. I'm human, like you. I promise I won't hurt you." The girl seemed hesitant to trust me, which was understandable, considering her situation. She slowly lowered the gun and stepped out of the shed's darkness and took my hand. She looked Japanese, a rare sight nowadays. She had dark hair that reached down to the middle of her back and hazel eyes, which looked bloodshot. Her cheeks were puffy and red, possibly from crying a lot.

"I'm Samus Aran," I said carefully. "What's your name?"

"Ayame," she said quietly, while looking as though she were ready to cry again. "My name is Ayame Miyamoto."

"Ayame," I parroted with a smile. "That's a pretty name." After a about a minute of no response, I stood up and put my hand on her shoulder. She looked at me worriedly. "Come on. There are soldiers here now. We'll protect you. There's nothing to be afraid of." She simply nodded and followed me closely.

-o-

"Hello, Samus." The Federation Trooper greeted me in the same way any other trooper would. He looked down at Ayame, who was hiding behind my leg. "Was this girl the only survivor that you could find?"

"Yes," I replied in the calm tone that I always used with Federation personnel. "I found her hiding in a storage shed. She seems pretty shaken up by what happened here. From what I understand, she lost her parents when the Pirates attacked."

"Understood. Get her to the evac station. She'll be in good hands."

"Understood." As the Trooper had recommended, I led Ayame to the evac station, where survivors would receive medical attention and then be led to a ship that would take them somewhere safe. Ayame was the only living Krawna inhabitant there. Everyone else was covered with a shroud.

"They're all gone," Ayame said, tears welling up in her eyes as she bore witness to the scene of death. "I'm the only one left, aren't I?" I couldn't bring myself to answer that question. When I had learned that all my friends and family had been killed off, I just sat in a corner crying until I had no tears left. But my sad silence only served to answer her question for her, and tears started running down her cheeks.

"I know how you feel," I said sorrowfully. Ayame looked up at me, eyes wide. "The monsters that attacked your home… they attacked mine, too. My father died protecting me. My mother was burned to ashes right in front of me. I was younger than you are now when that happened. I still have nightmares to this day."

Ayame was silent. She was most likely processing what I had just told her. I looked down at her hurting expression. An idea formed in my mind and, after some self-deliberation, I knelt in front of her, a small smile upon my face.

"Ayame," I said gently. "How would you like to come home with me?"

"What?" she asked in surprise.

"We're two of a kind, you and I. I'm not asking to be a replacement for your parents. I don't think I would be able to. I only ask you to let me help you grow and become strong. It's got to be better than going to an orphanage where no one really understands you."

She was quiet again. She looked down at her feet with a thoughtful look in her eyes. Slowly, she turned her head back up and looked me in the eye… and hugged me. "Thank you, Samus." Her voice sounded slightly choked, an obvious sign that she was crying. I hugged the little girl back. She needed all the comforting she could get.