The cosmos. A vast, endless frontier. Billions upon billions upon billions of stars, and even more worlds, just waiting to be discovered and explored. Who knows what sort strange, exotic, and sometimes even dangerous creatures inhabited those worlds? What kind of advanced civilizations lie in wait for the one who is destined to find them? Will anyone ever be able to learn about all these new planets before the universe inevitably falls fades from existence?
All of those thoughts and questions meant nothing to Samus Aran, the renowned and even feared bounty hunter who has destroyed entire planets. Sure, it could be fun to explore the vast reaches of space, but after so many years, it grows tiresome and dull. She only explored new planets because the Federation often paid her to do so. Hell, she only met new people because she was paid to do it. And she didn't often like those new people.
"Gear," she said to her ship's onboard AI, "how long until we reach Earth? I'm looking forward to sleeping in an actual bed."
"Maybe a real shower wouldn't be a bad idea either," Gear replied. Samus rolled her eyes at the computer's joke. Gear is an AI that she programmed into her ship herself. She didn't like the idea of having an emotionless drone to talk to though, so she got an expert to help her with that. The result was a bored, sarcastic, and ridiculously intelligent computer system that sometimes argued with Samus over who should pilot the ship. Still, his dry humor, even in the darkest of times, could really lighten the tension, and she appreciated that much at least. "We'll reach Earth in about six standard hours."
Samus nodded. "Okay." She reclined the pilot's seat so that she was lying back. "I'm going to try to get some sleep. Wake me up when we get there."
"All right," Gear said as he took over control of the gunship. "Sweet dreams, Blondie." Samus chuckled and closed her eyes. As usual, sleep came almost immediately.
If he had lungs, Gear would've sighed out of boredom. It was nice being able to control the ship for a while, but after two hours of nothing but space, it became a cheap thrill. He envied Samus to some degree; she could just sleep through the dullness and wake up back at home. Being an AI, sleeping meant shutting himself down; waking up from that was rarely a pleasant experience.
He kept checking everything the ship had onboard besides himself: the med bay, the mini-factory for Samus's missiles, the built-in recharge station, the radar, everything. Anything to keep himself busy. Nothing was wrong at all. Of course nothing was wrong. And the odds of them getting attacked in Federation space were slim to none. What sentient creature besides the Space Pirates would be dumb enough to attack Samus Aran head-on?
"Looks like we'll get to find out," Gear muttered as Samus scrambled awake.
"Gear, what the hell is going on!?" Samus asked the AI.
"Oh, the usual," the computer replied. "We're just being attacked by some dumbass with a death wish. Nothing too out of the ordinary."
Samus ignored Gear's tone and immediately materialized her Power Suit and took over control of the ship. She steered it so that she could face their attacker. Her eyes widened in shock at what she saw: a full-blown Space Pirate warship. Not good at all.
"Figures," Samus muttered. "These guys just don't know when or where to quit."
Gear chuckled. "Shall I blow them to bits with the ship's missiles?"
"I'll do it." Samus then pressed a button, readying the missiles for launch. "You know, I'd give them a warning shot, but that option is apparently out the window."
Just as Samus was just about to launch an explosive barrage, she saw something out of the ordinary rise out from the side of the warship. It looked like a large turret of some sort. The machine began charging a dark green light ever so gradually.
"Hey, look!" Gear said in an upbeat tone. "It's glowing!"
"Wonderful," Samus muttered. "I doubt it'll shoot kittens and rainbows. We're getting out of here." Samus readied the ship's thrusters, but all she got was a low whine from the engines. "What's happening?"
"We're caught in a tractor beam!" Gear suddenly alert to the situation. "We're trapped!"
Samus stared at the large cannon that was aimed directly at her ship, suddenly feeling like a deer in headlights. Tractor beams were nearly impossible to escape from. "This simply cannot end well," she said with some finality.
The cannon fired. Samus closed her eyes and waited for the blast to envelop her ship. But it didn't. After several seconds she cracked one eye open, only to see the strangest thing: the blast from the pirate warship's turret was just floating there, doing nothing. "Um… Gear?"
"I've already started a scan," the AI replied. The large green orb floated ominously. "It looks it's… oh, boy."
"What is it?" Samus asked, not liking how Gear suddenly sounded distressed. Her question was answered when the green orb suddenly exploded, blinding her with the nauseous shade.
The birds sang cheerfully as the sun rose for yet another day. The bright air warmed Amaterasu's fur comfortably as she gazed at the vast Shinshu Field. It was beautiful, as always, thought the wolf goddess. She could just sit and stare for hours if it wasn't for her constant to need to move around. She leapt from ledge that she was standing on and headed immediately for Kamiki Village.
The villagers were preparing for this year's big festival, which would be in about a week. She helped with the decorations and other preparations, such as fireworks, food, sake, etc. As she entered the village, she saw Issun hopping toward her excitedly.
"Hey, Ammy!" the little Poncle called happily. "Did you hear about that shooting star from last night?" The she-wolf cocked her head in response. "I've been hearing that it landed somewhere out near the Moon Cave at around midnight. You weren't here, so I guess it makes sense that you haven't heard yet. You wanna go check it out?" Amaterasu barked and wagged her tail. Curiosity was one of her flaws, and she was proud of it. If there was something new, she wanted to see it. "Then let's go, furball!"
Ammy turned as Issun bounced up onto her head and sat in her fur. She headed off toward the lake where the Moon Cave lay hidden, wondering what kind of mysteries awaited.