Justin Ortlip's Metroid Fusion: Chapter 1
Written by Justin Ortlip
Published on the 25th March, 2009.
Author's intro: "<Locate file "inmetalclad">
/Level 5 clearance required. Input passcode/
/accessing ONI database/
<BSL Mission Log: Hunter Samus Aran
SR-388...once again, I found myself assigned to that rock to oversee research being carried out by Biologic Space Labs (BSL). After the whole Metroid fiasco, I vowed to never get anywhere close to that godforsaken world, but Galactic Federation HQ said differently. They decided I was needed to watch over Biologic's team of scientists as they collected specimens for study at BSL.
While on the surface of SR-388, I was attacked and infested by a life form that I had never encountered before-the parasitic organism we now know as "X". Returning to BSL, unaware of my condition, I lapsed into unconsciousness as the X invaded my central nervous system, and my ship drifted into an asteroid belt, completely annihilating it.
I survived, of course. My ship automatically ejected the escape pod, and Biologic sent a vessel to pick me up and take me to Galactic Federation HQ. Once at HQ, they tried to remove my Power Suit to operate, but its organic components had become integrated into my central nervous system, and could not be removed while I was unconscious. Large portions of the suit had to be surgically removed, dramatically altering my physical appearance. Unfortunately, the X in my nervous system were too deeply embedded to be safely removed, and I was given a minimal chance of survival.
Then, someone came up with the cure. Apparently, Biologic had preserved a cell culture from the last Metroid, and one of the scientists proposed using it as a vaccine to destroy the X inside me. The serum was prepared and immediately injected. The X were immediately and completely destroyed, and I was reborn as something new. Now, I realize I owe the Metroid hatchling my life twice over.
When I woke up, I was informed that Biologic had sent the infected portions of my suit to BSL for quarantine and study. One day, as I sat in the hospital bed, HQ received a call from BSL. Someone was screaming on the other line, and was suddenly cut off, the line going dead. At the time I didn't know why, but it woke a nameless dread in my heart. Something had happened at BSL. Something horrible.
Something...or some thing.
Three weeks later, I got my orders. Federation HQ had sent a team of soldiers and scientists to investigate what had happened at BSL. Their last report had been sent from Docking Bay Aurora, and had been suddenly terminated midsentence. This final report mentioned escaped creatures, demented scientists, and unknown hostiles. The second team, sent to reinforce them, never left their ships. They landed in the docking Bay, and the teams looked out, expecting to see a scene of carnage-but they saw nothing. The only things out of the ordinary were the shuttles of the first team; doors open, as if the ships are just landed.
They attempted to contact the first team, but got nothing. The receiver sent with the first team was still in working order, but there was no one around to operate it. They turned around and left. I couldn't blame them. My orders were very simple: investigate and render any assistance possible. As my ship had been destroyed in the crash, HQ gave me a new one-one with a blunt, imperious AI that I immediately named Adam, after my first CO. So, once again I set off into the unknown, not knowing, but guessing the horrors that awaited me.
As Adam steered the ship in to the final approach, I looked around at the interior of the docking bay. As the second squad had reported, it was eerily quiet. Nothing moved. However, when Adam set the ship down, all of the docking bay doors that led to the outside of the station slammed shut. "Adam," I asked, slightly rattled, "did you do that?"
"No, I did not," replied the AI.
"All right," I asked, even more rattled, "Then who did?"
"I would assume it was one of the crewmembers, sealing off the vacuum so you could breathe," Adam said patiently.
"I'll take your word for it, Adam," I growled, "but for both of our sakes, I hope you're not wrong."
Adam was silent. He had no doubt realized, as I had, that the entire reason that I was here was that the crew, and a squad of soldiers and scientists, was missing. It was safe to assume that they were dead. So, if they were dead, who had shut the door, locking me in?
"Samus, yank me. I'll be able to access the station's mainframe, so I can keep tabs on you at all times."
I reached down to the console and dumped him into a chip, then yanked the chip and slotted it into the back of my helmet. Immediately, Adam's voice buzzed into my helmet speakers, and told me to leave the ship. I was understandably reluctant to do so, considering the fate of the last people that did, but orders were orders. I walked to the hatch and dropped to the floor. I took a few tentative steps toward the bay's hatch, when an explosion rocked the station. "Adam, what the hell was that," I yelled.
"Just a second... analyzing," my AI intoned, "there's been an explosion in the Quarantine Bay. Samus, be careful. The Quarantine Bay was where the infected parts of your suit were kept, along with all the bioforms the scientists captured. Samus, the damage is staggering. Go to the Quarantine Bay. And be careful. We don't know what you are up against, and you're only at 10% battle capacity. We need you alive."
"When," I growled, "have I ever not been careful?"
"Well," the AI laughed, "there was that time back on Zebes when you charged right into battle with Ridley, even though I was..." He cut himself off.
"Wait," I interrupted, "how do you know about that? You weren't there."
The AI was silent for a moment and started to speak, but stopped very quickly. I forged ahead, wondering.
As I passed through a Nav Room, Adam told me to yank him and jack him into the station's system. Then, he sent me onwards towards the Quarantine Bay with another caveat. I stepped out into darkness. Not the kind of darkness you get when you turn the lights off- the kind of darkness you get when you're buried alive. I blundered around for a moment, long enough for me to ram into a circuit board, shields flaring and draining as they compensated for the sparks. My suit's light generator automatically kicked in, and I stalked through yet another set of passageways. Adam's voice echoed through the corridor, "This is it, Samus. Be careful, sensors show life signs in the Quarantine Bay. They don't match any known species."
I raised my Arm Cannon, and palmed the hatch open. Something flew out of the darkness, and I ducked and rolled, bringing the Power Beam to bear. It was the most basic of creatures, sickly yellow and amorphous. It obviously had some sort of antigravity properties, as it floated about seven feet off the floor. I fired at it, only to watch as my beam dissipated against its gel-like hide. Then, as I stood there gaping, it flew at me again. This time I was too slow. It slammed into me, and I immediately braced myself for pain that never came. Instead, the being vanished. At the same time, my suit's shields partially recharged. Interesting.
"Adam," I asked, regaining my feet, "what just happened?"
"It appears that you were just attacked by an X parasite."
"That thing was an X?" I demanded, still in a state of shock.
"Yes. A security sensor scanned one directly from the explosion. It appears that the X infests its host, absorbs the host's DNA, and devours it. Then, using the DNA, it mimics its former host, taking on every attribute of it; however, if that form is destroyed, it reverts back to its gelatinous state."
"Wait," I said, "then shouldn't I be going slightly unconscious right now?"
"No," Adam said, as if speaking to a small, particularly stupid child, "the vaccine used to rid you of the infection changed your genetic makeup. You are now part Metroid, and can never be infected by X again. In fact, judging from what just happened, you should be able to absorb the parasites to recharge your suit. Also, many of your latent abilities were lost during surgery. You might be able to gain them back by absorbing certain kinds of X."
"Cool," I said, "any other ways I can get them back? I'd rather not have to go traipsing all over the station unarmed."
As a matter fact, there was. Adam informed me that, somehow, I could download weapons data from Federation HQ through the station's Data Rooms. He also mentioned that one download was already ready, here on the main deck: missiles. At the same time, Adam told me that there was a huge gathering of biosigns in a section of the station that did not exist on the map. He said that the X were gathering; that this was our chance to wipe them out. Yeah, right.
The missiles were a blast, pardon the pun. I test-fired one at a nearby wall, and was answered with a gratifying explosion. Maybe I would have a chance. Adam even promised he'd forgive me for the hole. Eventually.
Because the area where the X were concentrated technically did not exist, there was obviously no hatch leading to it; so I had to get creative. I saw a likely looking air duct and fired a missile at it. When the smoke cleared, just as I had suspected, there was an air vent behind it large enough for me to walk through. Also as I had suspected, it was infested with X.
"All right, Adam," I crowed over the screech of falling metal, "I think I found the door."
"Yeah, I know: be careful."
I was careful. Really, I swear I was. I walked into the duct slowly and carefully, cannon ready to blast anything that moved. But nothing moved. At least, nothing moved until I jumped down into a storage pit. Then something big moved. Really, really big. The thing was at least twice my height, and with a comparable girth. It looked vaguely dragon-like, except the shell like armor plating on its back. I fired a missile, expecting to see it go down with a big hole in it. Instead, it shrugged the explosion off and kept coming. "As if this couldn't get any worse," I snarled through clenched teeth. That's when it started spitting fire.
"What," Adam sounded genuinely worried for once, "is going on? Samus, are you all right?"
"For the moment," I shot back to Adam, as I shot back at the critter, "what is this thing?"
"My scanners are only showing you, Samus. I don't know what you're talking about."
"Dammit, Adam," I yelled, "Use my helmet cam! How do I take this thing down?"
"Oh. That's not good."
"Good one, Sherlock. Does Captain Obvious have anything else to say? Now seriously, how do I deal with this thing?"
With Adam riding shotgun, we finally figured out how to kill it: pour gunfire into it until it stops moving. Then, something interesting happened. It lost its shape, becoming an X parasite encased in a spiny membrane. No problem. I had missiles.
A few hours later, I finished exploring the Main Deck. Apparently, there was not much of an infestation here. Yet. Adam was busy analyzing the damage to the Quarantine Bay and monitoring bioforms in the seven Breeding Sectors: SRX, a copy of SR-388, TRO, the tropical area, PYR, home to extreme heat, AQA, the water environment, ARC, sub-zero, and NOC, the night habitat. All showed anomalies. Hoo, boy. Things were about to get messy, because the X had infested at least SRX, and species in TRO were showing mutations they shouldn't be. I cleared out SRX, although I ran into a few Level 4 Security Hatches. Adam assured me they were nothing, only storage, but as far as I knew, anything that would require security that high was a potential cause of the crew's demise. Adam, nevertheless, refused to open the hatches, so I never knew until the last moment the true horror of BSL.
As soon as I stepped into SRX, I was assaulted by a wave of vaguely humanoid hostiles dressed in lab coats. I cut them down, and relayed my findings to Adam.
"Well," he mused, "we now know what happened to at least some of the crew."
I was preparing to make a smart remark about stating the obvious when an explosion blew me off my feet, draining my shields to critical levels. I ducked behind cover, and stuck my head out. Half a second later, I pulled my head back. Really fast.
"Adam," I gasped, "Are you seeing this?"
"Seeing what," Adam asked, "There is nothing on my sensors."
"Me," I said, only half believing it, "I'm standing right in front of me."
"How do you mean?" Adam asked, worried.
"Something is standing in front of me," I replied, "that looks a lot like I did before that little accident with the X. And it's coming this way."
"Surprise, surprise," I muttered, "Use one of the security cameras."
Adam was silent for a full 30 seconds, then, "Samus, it is you."
The AI took a deep breath. "X. The infected pieces of your suit were missing from the Quarantine Bay. The X must have escaped and taken the form of Samus Aran, bounty hunter. A Power Bomb would explain the damage. Samus, get out of there. If the X is mimicking you at full power, it would be suicide to confront it. See if you can get out unnoticed."
"Too late," I said, preparing to run, my eyes on the parasite, "It's activated the X-ray visor. It can see me, cover or no."
"You only have one option then, Samus."
"Run like hell and hope it doesn't catch you."
"Oh, that's reassuring," I muttered, then turned around and sprinted as fast as my legs would carry me away from myself. Is my job fun or what?
So, I ran away. Unfortunately, a locked hatch truncated my flight, and I turned around to see myself running toward me. So, I jumped over it, watching it skidding to a halt several feet behind me. I spun, and got a few shots off, missiles streaking through the air. A cloud of smoke and flame billowed from my doppelgänger, but it stepped out unharmed. So, I did what any sensible bounty hunter would do in this situation-I got the hell out of Dodge. Finally, I found the hatch - it was not locked, and sprinted through. Six passageways and a long fall later, I lay in a storage bay, surrounded by caged creatures, breathing heavily and hoping that I had lost myself. "Adam," I wheezed, "Where am I?"
"It would appear," the AI said, "that you are somewhere in the derelict area of BSL. Samus, even before the disappearance of the crew, this sector was sealed off from all entry and exit. According to reports, there was a series of unexplained disappearances and fatalities in this area, so the crew took everything useful out of the sector, and sealed it off to prevent whatever was in it from getting out. Judging from the autopsies, there is only one explanation: X infestation. It would appear that the station was infected even before the last batch of creatures was brought in from SR-388. Samus, you have got to get out of there. Before its abandonment, this area was a high-security confinement facility for creatures with extreme destructive potential, including an Omega Metroid. We don't know the current location of the Metroid, but it is presumed to be alive, as several of the specimens you have encountered appear to have been fed upon by a Metroid.
"Great," I breathed, "how do I get out of here?"
"For the moment, you don't. The SA-X is directly outside the hatch, waiting for you to come out."
"Wait, wait," I took a deep, steadying breath, "Two questions. What is the SA-X, then why doesn't it just come in here to get me?"
"The SA-X is the designation I have given the parasite mimicking you, and it's not coming in because it senses the Metroid."
"So," I replied, "I'm stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place."
"That just about sums it up."
"Great. Just great. Adam, remind me why it is that I listen to you."
"Because if you didn't, you'd be dead."
"You're so humble, Adam. Anyway, what do I do now?"
"I'll figure something out. Give me some time."
So I waited. And waited. Finally, I got tired of inaction, and set out to explore this sealed-off tomb. Maybe I would find something that would reveal the crew's fate. I didn't think I would find anything, but it couldn't hurt to look. Right?
10 minutes into my search, I found the first corpse. She showed no marks, no sign of violence. Not at first. On a hunch, I checked her temples. On either one, a small, subtle puncture wound. Only one known being could cause those two tiny marks to be fatal, could use them to suck the life out of them-a Metroid. Layers within layers.
Then, I saw the other bodies-at least 10, all of tiny abrasions on their temples, all dead. The station had a crew of over 500 men and women, and I had just found 11 of them.
Adam's voice crackled into my helmet, "Samus, the exit door is ahead, but it's a Level 4 security hatch. We can't activate it-if we breach Level 4, all areas of the station will be open to the X. I'll work on it-continue as you were." So, with an intense feeling of foreboding, I opened the hatch that led to the last room.
The room was a huge dome, at least as wide as a football field and 50 feet high. In the center was the ruin of a gigantic holding tank, glass shattered where the creature it was holding had escaped. The floor was covered with bodies dressed in the charcoal gray fatigues and heavy ballistic armor of Federation Marines. I found the first one, but it had been wiped out, and by one hostile. And, said hostile stood in the center of the gigantic room. The Marines had come in heavy, with machine guns and rocket launchers. But, there wasn't a scratch on the Omega Metroid-that's what it was. That's the only thing it could be, to take the kind of punishment it had and still be able to move. It was at least the size of a bus, and twice as thick, with talons that would've come up to my waist and a cylindrical maw filled with teeth as big as my head. It was facing the exit hatch, chitinous tail sweeping the ground in anticipation. I backed up slowly, hoping you would notice me. An explosion split the air, and the reinforced, blast shield-strength Level 4 Security Hatch buckled inward. The Metroid tensed, preparing her charge. Another blast rocked the door, and warning alarms went off and started hooting a belated alert. An instant later, they were silenced as the Omega ripped them from the wall with a casual swipe of its clawed arm. In the silence that followed, the click-hiss of a missile being fired was clearly audible from the other side of the hatch.
As the missile detonated on the hatch, metal shrieked in protest and the two-ton blast shield was blown off its hinges, flipping through the air. Toward me. On reflex I loosed a pair of missiles at it. The SA-X stepped through the door, just in time to take the hatch, slingshotted toward the door by the twin missile blasts, directly in the stomach. The hatch impacted and kept going, shredded metal ripping through the SA-X, slicing her... it completely in half. My doppelgänger fell in two pieces, keening in agony, the Power Suit it wore fracturing, flying apart. Its head swiveled, searching for an enemy. Its eyes lit on the Omega, then settled on me. The keening abruptly stopped. Then, the two halves of the SA-X began to join, traumatize flesh knitting back together, flawless skin covering the horrible wound, seamlessly fusing the halves back together. I watched myself get slowly to my feet, naked and bloody, even as the power suit it had worn reassembled itself, once again encasing the false me in alloyed armor. As the helmet seal lock, the SA-X turned toward me, raising its copy cannon. There was nowhere to run, so I did the only thing I could-I raised my cannon and cut loose. A ball of plasma gathered at the muzzle of my raised weapon shot across the room, slamming into the SA-X, who recoiled a pace. Then, the Omega Metroid steamrolled it, then crashed through the wall. The SA-X shakily stood up, then whipped its cannon up, pointing at my face.
"Wait," I yelled. The parasite kept a bead on me, but didn't fire. It looked at me, as if waiting. "That thing could take either of us down," I continued, "but not at the same time. The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
"Until my enemy is dead," the SA-X rasped. It sounded like me; or at least what I would sound like if I'd washed down my Wheaties about a gallon of drain cleaner.
"Let's talk about that later," I soothed, "I didn't come here to fight you. Or me. Whichever you are. I'm here to find the crew and the Marines. I don't see why we have to be at odds." The SA-X inclined its head in assent, and, as uneasy and possibly very temporary allies, we set off in pursuit of the Omega Metroid.
On the way out, the SA-X bent down to a Marine's assault rifle. It placed it on its leg, where the suit's magnetic field held it. Damn. I never thought of that. Not to be outdone, I grabbed a heavy .50 machine gun, and repeated the motion. The ballistic weapons would, I reasoned, supplement our combined energy-based arsenal. As we stepped through the hole into the darkened room behind it, a piercing whine, almost ultrasonic, emanated from the blasted hatch in the holding cell. I whirled, missiles primed, to see a second SA-X step through the now-permanently open hatch. Both of our weapons snapped up, but the first SA-X let out another keen, and slowly lowered his weapon. I kept mine raised, charging a killing blast at the muzzle. Never taking my eyes off the second, I turned slightly towards my ally. "What's going on? And what am I supposed to call you?"
"Isn't it obvious, Samus," Adam's voice cut in, "X reproduce by splitting in half; binary fission. There are now no fewer than 10 SA-X in the station, and two in your immediate vicinity. Anyway, what the hell are you doing?! Run! They will ki-"
"Silence," the first SA-X grated, "you know nothing of us, machine-man. If we had wanted her dead we could have overwhelmed her as soon as she stepped off of her ship. Instead, we want to ally with her. The beings that take souls, these 'Metroids', they cannot be stopped by any one species. But the X and a part-human would stand a chance. Do not interfere."
It turned to me, "as for your other question, Hunter, I am Origin to all but my brethren, the SA-X, as you call us. To them I am Jalahael. That is Sahalael, my sister, who will accompany us."
"Your name sounds awesome, but what do I call you; Origin or Jalahael?"
"You are not SA-X, so I would say to call me Origin," the SA-X tilted its head, "but we are your daughters, of Chozo, human, and X; as you are Chozo, human, and Metroid. So, Jalahael."
Wow. That was a disturbing thought. My daughters. 25 years old, mother of 10. Son of a gun. Who was the father, I wonder?
"But," Jalahael continued, "We do not know what to call you. We refer to you as the other X as Hunter, to our brethren as Mother, but we do not know your name. What is it, Mother?"
'Mother' again. Sheesh. "My name," I declared, "is Samus Aran . My COs call me Aran, my friends call me, Samus. My enemies call me the Hunter Clad in Metal. So, call me Samus. Anyway, we should find the Omega before it can get too far. Sahalael, grab a machine gun, come on."
Sahalael left to collect a weapon, leaving me alone with Jalahael and Adam's tinny voice.
"Samus," Adam's voice rang in my helmet, "you forgot one name."
"Adam Malkovich called you 'Lady' on missions."
Malkovich... that brought back memories. My first CO, Adam Malkovich had died so I could live. But how did the AI know he called me Lady? Was it possible he was... no.
"Adam," I said irritably, "shut up. Jalahael, Sahalael, let's go."
We split up, Jalahael with me, Sahalael with two X hosts she called 'Serris' and 'Nightmare', a hypersonic leviathan and a biomech weapon gone wrong. These teams, the pair of SA-X explained, were equal; I was worth both of Sahalael's teammates together.
"Anyway," Sahalael said, her voice far more musical than the grating Jalahael, "we know the station better than you do. We know how to get out of almost anywhere. Even if you did know all that we do, we're both far stronger than you. That's why Jala's with you-she's even better than me."
"So, does this mean that when the Omega is dead you won't try to kill me?"
My "daughters" traded a look. "We," Sahalael lilted, "have not decided yet, Mother. It depends on you."
"That's reassuring," I sighed, "Okay, let's go."
So we went. Sahalael and her pair took Sectors 1, 4, and 5, while Jalahael and I took 2, 3, and 6. If either team had a problem, the other will be relatively near at hand. Even Adam grudgingly agreed to help, in between muttering about orders and rampancy, by continuing to give us eyes around corners and weapons upgrades. By this time, I was almost back to full capacity, except for an Ice Beam, something both SA-X had.
As we stepped off the elevator into TRO, I was assaulted by a horrible smell, coating my mouth and nose. I turned on the air filter and looked around. More dead crew. "Jalahael, are you seeing this?"
"Yes, Mother, although I cannot tell you what it is."
I turned to Jalahael, "Look, if I'm calling you Jalahael, you call me Samus. First name basis. I'm your ally, not your CO." Jalahael opened her mouth to reply, then looked at a body and snapped it shut.
"Samus," she rasped, voice quiet and tight with fear, "we should go back to the main deck and get Sahalael. Now."
"Plasma burns," Jalahael whispered, eyes flicking around the room, "no X or Metroid did that. That was a Plasma Beam hit. Only one explan-"
An explosion split the eerie silence, and Jalahael hurled me bodily onto the lift, then jumped on and activated it. I had time to catch a glimpse of something black and humanoid appear through a blasted hatch, and then the lift activated, blasting upwards. Seconds later, we were at the top, with a quarter-mile fall and several broken bones between us and whatever was down there. Jalahael unclasped her helmet and took it off, her beautiful, seraphic face pale and drawn.
"Jala," I began, putting my hand on her shoulder, "what was that?"
"A darkling," Jalahael swallowed, her throat dry, "a darkling SA-X."
"Wait," I held my hands up, "what's the difference? I thought all of you were the same."
Sahalael walked up, alone. No sign of Serris or Nightmare. "Hey," I called by way of greeting, "where's the snake and the scrapheap?"
"Guarding Sector 1," Sahalael lilted, "I didn't want anything nasty getting through while I was gone. Jala, what's wrong?"
She took her helmet off, and pressed her head to Jalahael's. A moment later, she recoiled, horror crossing her face. "A darkling? Who?"
"Wait," I cut in, "what do you mean by darkling? How many are there? How do we kill them?"
"They were as we are," Sahalael began, "Daughters of our Mother. Then, they discovered a sealed canister in a sealed room, a Restricted Laboratory that held a terrible secret. In that canister was a Metroid Hatcher, and a blue, glowing substance. The Hatcher escaped immediately, but the blue substance didn't react to anything until one of our sisters stuck her hand in it. It flowed over her, turning her armor black. Six of us were inside that room; one came out of her mind intact-Jalahael that's why her voice sounds like a broken trash compactor. At first, the only change was the armor color. Then, they became stronger, their weapons more destructive. Finally, they lost their intellect, their sympathy, and their identity. They are mindless killing machines, corrupted by-"
"Phazon!" I blurted. Both turned to me, questioning looks on their faces, "that blue stuff. It's a mutagen," I continued, "that does exactly what you just described."
"Yes, this Phazon corrupted them, and they turned. They fight us, they fight the Metroids, and they fight each other. We cannot stand against them. But you, and all of our sentient brethren, could finish them."
"Okay," I mused, "Who's on our side, who's on their side?"
"Well," Jalahael grated, "we have me, Sahalael, Value, Kirael, Yrael, the X, and you. They are Mmemnon, Rakka, Undine, Narath, and Ganth. That is all."
"We have no more allies?" I demanded.
"Yes, well, sort of," Sahalael hesitated.
I sighed, exasperated, "Spill it already!"
"You, in the armor," Sahalael called, "come on out."
I turned to watch, and my mouth dropped open as a pair of armed, armored, and tough-looking Federation Marines stepped up and saluted me.
"Ma'am," one shouted, "PFCs Buckner and Wakely reporting! We'll be happy to help!"
I rounded on Sahalael, "What the hell is going on here?!"
Sahalael grinned, "I found these two staked out in SRX. That's why came back. It appears they survived the assault."
"Adam," I muttered, audible only to the AI, "Scan them, please. They look human, but then, so do the SA-X."
"Sure thing, Lady," Adam said. At least he sounded happy. A second later, "Nothing in there but grade-a, kick-ass Marine!"
"Glad to have you aboard, Marines," I said with a grin, "But Ma'am isn't my first, middle, or last name. I'm Samus Aran, and that's all I am. I'm not your CO; I'm actually a civilian, technically."
Sahalael stepped up next to me. "I also found these. I think there's some sort of prototype armor suits. The shields have an automatic recharge, if you take more punishment than any of us could dish. Put the Marines in them; they'll be needed."
I turned again, and saw the armor. I sucked in my breath. In front of me were three suits of top-secret AURORA armor, modeled after my Power Suit. Each one of those suits would turn an infantryman into a walking tank, weighing in at 1000 pounds apiece. They were more angular than my suit, boxier. Their helmets had a visor and polarized orange faceplate, and the entire suit had abandoned the traditional charcoal color for a muted olive drab. Even better- one wasn't a suit. He was a series of separate sections, made to clamp onto, these two, and interface with a different armorsuit-my Power Suit. I motioned for the Marines to put on the two suits, then began to snap into the upgrade set. When I finished, I looked up. The Marines were genuinely imposing, huge and threatening in their bulky armor. The SA-X had helped them into the armor, and stood back admiring their handiwork. All four looked at me, and Buckner grinned ear to ear.
"Samus," he said, "you look scary as hell."
"So do you," I shot back, "what the heck happened, did your face run into a blender?"
As the laughter died down, Jalahael said, "We should test the combat capabilities of these suits. Follow me."
Jalahael led us to the docking bay, and we begin movement and combat testing. The suits worked with the nervous system, moving exactly when we did. The improved speed, jump height, and strength. I watched as the Marines sprinted football fields in seconds, leapt over dropships, and tossed tables across the docking bay. Then, we tested the shields. The Marines stood, legs slightly bent, braced for impact. I fired, once each.
"Well?" I asked as their shields flared, "What's going on in there?"
"Shields read no damage," the confused Wakely reported.
"Okay," I said with a grin, "Catch!"
I loosed a missile. It shot through the air, impacting the wall and a thunderous explosion. Wakely, as surprised as I was, had dodged it. Damn, he was fast now. "All right, don't move this time."
I fired again, and the Marine's shields sparked and flared, and he was blown off his feet. A second later he was back on them, flipping into the air and landing upright. That was when the darkling showed up.
"Narath!" I heard Sahalael cry, and I spun to see another SA-X appear-clad in jet-black armor. It raised a misshapen cannon and cut loose at the Marines. Both dodged and returned fire, and moving too quickly to track, much less hit. They poured fire into the corrupted SA-X. It leapt into the air and fired a crimson blast. Crap. Phazon Cannon. I ducked, static crackling from my visor as the energy passed. I failed to the floor. When I looked up, Narath stood over me, warped cannon pointing is black muzzle at my face.
"I win," it howled, voice crackling metallic.
"You sound worse than Jalahael," I coughed as it put its foot on my chest plate, "What do you put in your orange juice, drain cleaner?"
"Mock me all you want, Hunter," Narath rasped, "I will still your breath forever!"
"I don't think so."
"I do!" It shrieked, "This ends now!"
"Damn right," I growled, "Look down."
Narath looked down, just in time to catch a missile from my upraised cannon directly in the face. She flew across the bay, and slammed through an air duct. Except her head, which smacked in the solid metal, and her neck broke with a sickening crack. We cautiously advanced, the SA-X and Marines strung out beside me.
"Did I kill it?" I asked to Jalahael.
"I do not know. If you didn't, it's likely to be crippled or very angry."
We walked out, and it became evident that the darkling was neither crippled nor dead. In fact, it was running down the passage, trying to skate. It turned, still running, to fire a parting shot, but didn't get the chance. It never saw the third true SA-X drop behind it. I watched with satisfaction as the SA-X braced against the wall and fired. A shaft of light rocketed from the muzzle, and hit the changeling with a deafening blast. For an instant it was silhouetted against the light, then it screamed and disintegrated, leaving a fine red mist in the air.
"Kill-stealing bastard!" I called cheerfully, "That one was mine!"
"Sorry!" The newcomer yelled, "You can have the next one!"
"Kirael," Sahalael shouldered past me, "You're late!"
"Sorry, I had to grab something," Kirael lilted.
"Well, I was down near NOC," Kirael began, "When I found what looked like a new weapon. So, I slotted it into my cannon, and that's what you saw. It's some kind of missile. That was my last one, though. But, Mother should be able to use it."
She threw a data chip. I caught and slotted it in my helmet, and data readouts flashed across my vision as this 'Super Missile' installed itself. I experimentally fired in the far wall, and was rewarded with an explosion-an energy tank fell from the hole.
"Score!" I crowed, shoving tank in place. I turned to the Marines. "All right," I said with a wicked grin, "who wants to be the duck?" I saw movement. I fired.
<BSL Mission Log: ONI Sect. 3 Lt. Malkovich
I tackled Wakely as Aran fired, and saw a missile streak overhead. It would have been about two inches high, and would have missed. Wakely, that is. It didn't miss the Phazon Metroid sneaking up on us. It was like a magic trick when the missile hit: now you see it, now you don't.
<End of entry>
<BSL Mission Log: Hunter Samus Aran
ET- 21: 54:26>
Once again I was surprised at how fast AURORAs could move. In the blink of an eye Wakely had been tackled, and lay on the ground beside Buckner. He jumped up and leveled his weapon at me. Buckner slapped away, pointing behind him at the Metroid's remains. Wakely turned pale, and watched me checking to see if the smoke coming for my cannon was just backblast; or if the next time I fired I was going to find myself sitting down, missing an arm, and bleeding profusely. I turned to the three SA-X, and saw them dead white and sweating.
"What?" I asked, "The explosion wasn't that big."
"Another Metroid," Kirael whispered, "We thought only the Omega was left."
"You forgot the Hatcher," I replied, a horrible thought dawning on me, "the Metroid Hatcher. It can produce hundreds of Metroids per hour," I rounded on Sahalael, "How long has it been since the Restricted Lab was breached?"
"Over a week," Sahalael said. She gasped, "That means that there are-"
"Several thousand Metroids currently on this station," I finished. I was tired just thinking about how much work we had to do. "All right," I said, suddenly exhausted, "I don't know how much sleep you people need, but I could use some right now. My gunship has ten berths. It's the only safe place on the station."
The Marines and SA-X looked at each other, then, in unison, "Good idea!"
<BSL Mission Log: Hunter Samus Aran
After eight hours of blessed, sanity restoring rest, we gathered around my new ship's only table. Everyone wore full battle armor, and I had spent two hours constantly upgrading my suit. Now, in addition to AURORA capabilities, my Power Suit had some of the heaviest weapons available: the Gamma ray-based Wave Beam, two kinds of missiles (the Super Missile and a prototype Cryomissile, or Ice Missile), and the room-clearing Power Bomb. The SA-X, all three, had also availed themselves of my weapons there, and all four of us our energy reserves. The Marines raided the station's nearby armory, and, making several trips with a hovercart, stocked my ship with enough munitions to supply a battalion for a month. They didn't know, they said, how much longer it would be before they had the opportunity to hit the armory again; because Adam had informed us that an enormous concentration of organisms bearing Metroid DNA was flooding the station, and it would soon be unsafe to travel without everyone coming along. So, they brought cart after cart of machine guns and grenades, armor piercing rounds and sniper rifles, trip mines and rocket launchers. Eventually they said they had enough, but only after Wakely tripped over a rocket launcher and nearly broke his ankle.
As we came together, I couldn't help being reminded of my last such meeting; six elite soldiers and their commander, preparing to take on suicidal odds. I'd survived then. It was my responsibility to see that my brothers-and sisters-in arms survived this now, even if I had to die to accomplish it. I looked at the waiting faces of Buckner and Wakely, the Marines sent into the unknown to help the dead, who survived when their platoon was wiped out. I looked at the beings who called me Mother, my unlikely allies in my unlikely mission, who survived in this deathtrap for who knew how long. I looked at my CO, the irascible AI named after the only person I had ever really trusted. I looked at the sensors, at the shapes of thousands of Metroids; Metroids whose very name was the Chozo word for "weapon," created by my foster race to destroy an unstoppable plague-the X. I looked at myself, and orphaned human, taken in by the Chozo and trained as a warrior, trained to combat the Space Pirate menace. I took a deep, calming breath. Alea iacta est. The die is cast.
"The Metroids are spreading throughout the station," I began without preamble, "and they have to be stopped. If they aren't entire Federation is doomed."
"All right, then," Buckner grinned, "Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?"
I rolled my eyes, "No, Gimli, we are getting out of here alive. All of us. Adam, what's our situation?"
"Dire," the AI gestured at the screen, bringing up a schematic of the station, "All of the yellow dots represent Metroids."
We looked. Most of the station was yellow. Especially around...
I looked out of the viewport. There were hundreds of Metroids out there. The docking bay was full of them.
"Umm... guys," Wakely gulped, "I got a bad feeling about this."
The board is set, the pieces are in motion. Sir Ian, eat your heart out.
<BSL Mission Log: Hunter Samus Aran
Buckner hit the hatch release, and the ship's lower ramp crashed to the docking bay floor. Metroids took notice, gathering around the open hatch, waiting for prey to emerge. Instead, they got a wedge of grim-faced soldiers in full armor who ran down the ramp, firing all the way. Super Missiles and Ice Beams lanced out, machine guns spat streams of tracers, and rockets belched flame and streaked from their tubes. Hundreds of Metroids died in the first few seconds, falling with holes ripped through them or flying to pieces from grenade and missile blasts. The Marines knelt down, lifting SAWs, and cut loose with a withering storm of bullets. Firing in short, controlled bursts; they pushed the Metroids back until a circle twenty feet across was clear. I tucked into the Morph Ball, rolled into the densest mass of Metroids, and left a little present on the way out. Standing again, I pitched my voice to carry over the gunfire.
"Everybody down," I screamed as I hit the deck, followed closely by the SA-X and Marines. My present was about to open itself. There was a muted flash, and all hell broke loose as the Power Bomb exploded. My ears popped from the pressure, and a dome of fire lashed out, engulfing the entire room. At the epicenter of the blast was the largest mass of Metroids. The luckless parasites were vaporized, the ones farther away were cauterized to unrecognizable, carbonized lumps, crashing to the floor and shattering. A few were left, sluggishly floating away, but the Marines quickly and efficiently cut them down. In five minutes, we cleared Docking Bay Aurora. Now we just had to clear the station, kill the Hatcher and the Omega, and leave. Oh, and the darklings had to be dealt with, too. Impossible odds. But then again, I was alive, healthy, and loaded up with allies. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad, after all. Yeah, right.