Posted by: lonelyonzebes | September 7, 2010

Of Saviors and Mercenaries

When this is all over, when it’s all said and done, you will hear the news clips blasting over the holos about how the Galactic Federation moved “quickly and decisively,” how the decision was unanimous, how the lone hero Samus Aran was selected to infiltrate the cavernous underworld of SR388 with the sole directive to exterminate the Metroids and bring peace and security to the galaxy once and for all…

You will naively believe it.

Yet in reality, decisions are never unanimous, nor actions decisive. And mercenaries are never altruists. Congressmen, saints, and heroes…all great luminaries are voracious opportunists, their motives guided by incentives, their hearts entangled with vanity. Hidden deep within the seemingly well-intentioned actions of our civil servants, our philanthropists, our martyrs, and our saviors is an unabashed quest for balance between chivalry and greed. Within the pit of righteousness, benevolence and want are allies.

My fee was 1B credits. That’s one billion. Up front. With a collection fee of 10mil per Metroid, twice what I had asked for the Zero Mission. The senators howled. They complained. They wrung their hands and ground their teeth. They begged and pleaded. They had no choice but to accept without negotiation. I could see the fear on their sleepless faces. Even over the holos, it oozed from their souls, taking up residence in their unblinking crow’s feet-fringed eyes, announcing itself through nervous ticks, pen chewing, finger tapping, manic note-taking, and chronic throat clearing. It sucked the life right out of them, just as the Metroids will do if they inevitably make it to Daiban in the looming galactic bio-apocalypse.

I was the only one who had ever successfully stopped them. It was I who eradicated them from Zebes, infiltrating the Space Pirate breeding hives and turning them all to fragments of shattered ice. The Congressmen knew that I, and only I, could do it again.

Senator Snootsi was my champion. He was a good man with a soft demeanor and kind body language. He was an Earth human and was much more tender with me than the last time we talked. I suspect that he still harbored some of the nearly extinct customs of male-female status and interaction unique to that planet. The rest could care less, as many of them lacked analogues to human gender on their homeworlds, and fewer still could comprehend the idea of status based on sex alone. Yet his respect for me seemed to have been augmented by my recent revelation. Most had assumed I was a cyborg and the true source of shock and controversy stemmed from the fact that I was (primarily) human. I imagine his surprise must have been twofold.

“Aran will not let us down!” I remember Snootsi saying with an imperceptible loss of control to Senator Rosso, a Lumis who had questioned my ability to effectively battle the Metroids in their own environment. Maybe part of Rosso’s doubt stemmed from his inability to believe a lone human woman could accomplish something a team of the Federation’s finest could not, but regardless, I wasn’t sure he was wrong, and his criticism had revived an uncertainty within my ego that I thought I had long eradicated… Just like the Metroids. It was the years of hard training, the soul-numbing pain, the insurmountable losses, and mostly the overwhelming successes which had put it to bed, and it was the condemning words of a fear-stricken Senator from Luma who had reawoken it.

During the meeting, a technical briefing was given in which the Special Squadron footage was shown under oath of secrecy. It was gruesome and disturbing. I cannot reveal certain details here now, for if this manuscript should ever be compromised, I would be required to surrender my credits and be brought to trial before a military tribunal for crimes of treason under the Galactic Charter. What I can tell you is that it was unlike any carnage I have ever witnessed.

The Marines fired wildly from behind barricades as the Metroids descended upon them, powerful claws piercing through armor and lacerating flesh, great swaths of it hanging and being raked open as the victims struggled to free themselves from the clammy grip of the faceless parasites. They were lifted into the air or slammed into the ground by the savage beasts, no audible screams, though their chests heaved, and then within seconds they were gone… Dust… Wisps of carbon ash blowing in the drafty caverns. I had never seen a man killed so brutally or definitively.

Metroids are decisive.

And so, apparently, was the colonel who presented the briefing. What wasn’t obvious was the footage had been edited – if not outright doctored. The deaths of these men were real enough – war porn of the worst sort – but there were too many holes in the story; these were not the well-trained men of Rick Stein’s platoon, they were men at the brink of mental collapse. Something terrible had happened on SR388, and this was merely the final moments of a horrible ordeal. What had now become painfully obvious was that the military was using the deaths of Rick and his men to sway the senate through fear, and by now nearly the entire chamber was quaking. To see human beings – protectors of the Federation – abused in this way was sickening.

I stole a glance at Chairman Keaton; his green face flickered momentarily in recognition and sympathy, as if to suggest there wasn’t a thing he could do.
What I saw next is classified… But there was something else there… I am not even sure what it was. The resolution was too poor to make it out clearly, but it fills me with dread even as I write this.

“Senators,” I told them, “I’ll take 100mil for THAT.”

The credits were transferred before the meeting was officially adjourned, and just like that, I was a billionaire. The footage had filled me with such disgust, such anger that I probably would have taken 750M… No, 1B is a nice round number and I like round numbers! But my disdain for these heartless creatures rages all the more. I will meet them with equal heartlessness, and I will not stop until every last one of them is dead. None, not even one, will be spared.

I now depart for a military briefing in Galactic Federation HQ, just 15 minutes from here by gravrail. My usual briefings happen over secured com lines while I am in transit to my targets, so the required briefing and the visions of the doctored footage bothers me all the more. I do not look forward to it, and would just as soon get on with my mission.

Posted by: lonelyonzebes | August 17, 2010

Our Fears are Confirmed

You may have seen the holos by now, but the Federation has lost contact with the Special Squadron dispatched to SR388. Direct footage has not been released to the public, but the report revealed what everyone had most feared: Metroids still live on Planet SR388.

The Squadron, in its first and only transmission, reported they had established a base near the two science ships. Using freeze guns and missiles, they secured the landing zone and confirmed the death of both the science expedition and the rescue team. They were also sending a reconnaissance droid along with a scouting detail to investigate the nearby caves for possible entry into the depths. Though the report was clearly incomplete and obviously censored, it did confirm the presence of dozens of Metroids living deep beneath the surface.

If even one of those Metroids was to escape the planet, it would threaten entire Galactic Civilization.

The presence of more Metroids is troubling, but not unreasonable. I had expected as much from the report of the Marina, which picked up the first Metroid so long ago. However, I am surprised Old Bird did not tell me about them. He expected me to protect the galaxy, and yet told me so little of what I need to know. A master is supposed to guide his pupil, but the Chozo have left so much in haze and darkness.

What bothers me more was what was embedded at the end of the news report. It was more unsettling in its suddenness. For there, among the casualties, was a name I had almost forgotten:

Rick Stein.

My comrade from cadet school.

We’d covered each others’ backs so many times back then… Rick, Anthony, and…

Well, that was a long time ago. A different time. A time before the Metroids, before Phazon, before…all of it. We were so young back then, and we never gave a doubt to whether we would ever see each other again, ideally holding the firm belief that we would all meet up together somewhere after it was all over and it would be like old times again. But now a twenty-year-old kid returns to my life dead, never to get older than memories.

The Galactic Federation Congress is holding an emergency meeting to discuss further actions. All senators are required to attend, with holo-projectors available for those too infirm or too distant to make it in person. Such a provision has only been used once before in the more than seventy years of the Congress’s history, and that was when Pirates began massacring the outer colonies.

I, too, have been summoned to attend. If I am called to fight the Metroids, I am ready. I will eradicate those monsters from the galaxy once and for all.

I have already set course for Daiban and will be there within the hour…

Posted by: lonelyonzebes | August 16, 2010

Don’t Panic. Just Watch Nature.

Business has been picking up with the recent Metroid scare, though most of it has been false alarms. No word yet on the Special Squadron, but the people are becoming visibly frightened. Though late-night comedy shows try to make light of the situation (I’ve heard they make jokes about me, too, which makes me smile), fear of Metroids is making everyone behave irrationally. The bounty postings are literally flooded with requests to track down a missing person, pet, and – get this – a car. I kid you not, some guy was convinced a Metroid had stolen his car, driven right off into the sunset with it. I have had to change my settings for bounty reports yet again. This whole thing is starting to become a barely-controlled panic.

All this, and very few people have ever seen a live Metroid. And I hope they never have to.

If you want my advice, just take a look at the sky outside your window. And if you’re on a planet where it’s safe to crack a window and listen to the wind, do so. If the world is going to end and there’s nothing you can do about it, stop worrying and love life to the fullest. You can learn all that just by looking at nature.

Posted by: lonelyonzebes | August 14, 2010

Something Big is Brewing in Deep Space

For the past two weeks, I have been monitoring military and police channels, and lately, they have been abuzz with encrypted data. It seems a Federation research vessel has gone missing on a quarantined planet in unexplored space. The expedition was well equipped, its mission highly classified. After landing on the surface, the research base lost contact with the crew.

Before contacting the Federation, the base sent a rescue party. The party discovered the landing site of the first ship, which upon investigation, was completely deserted, the vessel transmitting only basic landing data and diagnostics in an endless loop. The ship’s log stated a survey team had been sent into the caves, but after recording complaints of transmission interference from the area’s mineral composition, the records abruptly ended. The team also reported finding an odd layer of carbon dust in different parts of the ship, particularly the bridge and mess hall. Shortly after this transmission, the base lost all contact.

Both the research crew and the rescue team did not appear to have been victims of a Space Pirate attack, but rather something far worse… As such, the Federation dispatched a heavily-armed Federation Police Special Squadron to the planet, but reports of the expedition’s outcome have yet to come in…

Already there are rumors spreading about the nature of the expedition, but I have little doubt that its purpose was to investigate Planet SR388. Though the Metroid has become the bogeyman of the modern era for the general public and initially blamed for any disaster or disappearance, no matter how minor (you would be surprised how many reports of lost pets have been initially blamed on Metroids), the similarities of this expedition with recorded Metroid attacks are uncanny.

Planet SR388’s location is classified to prevent Pirate raids, but you can bet they are listening in to these broadcasts all the same. If the destination of the expedition really was SR388, we are all in deep trouble…

Posted by: lonelyonzebes | August 13, 2010

Fuel Prices

Fuel gel prices have gone up, thanks to the new war tax. This despite the outrage over the Phaaze leak, but Chairman Keaton insists the bill was in motion prior to the mission. You would think after securing Bryyo the supply would have exceeded demand, or at least helped offset the cost of the war, but even with afloraltite mining operations in the sector at an all-time high, it’s never enough to feed a whole galaxy. They’re not going to drop any time soon, I can tell you that much.

Thankfully, Space Pirate activity has been low – but abnormally so – and that has me a little worried. Even given their devastating defeat at Phaaze, the number of Pirate raids is less than it has ever been. The number of attacks is lower still than in the months following Zebes, and they were spending most of their time building their base on Tallon IV. Whenever Pirate activity drops, it always means they are planning something…

At least business is still good. Even with a shortage of Pirates, I still have a constant stream of clients – there is never an end to kidnappings, fugitives, and high-profile smuggling operations.  True, they don’t pay as much as when Pirates are involved, but it keeps me full of food and fuel, which is never a bad thing. Although everyone’s hurting, people’s displeasure with their neighbors is something that is never going to end. And that’s what keeps this business steady.

In the meantime, I keep sweeping the com channels for the next big mission.

Posted by: lonelyonzebes | August 11, 2010

The Battle of Phaaze

The public is horrified by losses incurred in the Battle of Phaaze. They are starting to realize how much the war with the Space Pirates is actually costing them. I can understand why those two Marines leaked the report. The Federation didn’t even mention the sacrifices of their comrades. I still can’t get over that number… 37% of the fleet…51% of all crews… Most of them are still floating around what’s left of Phaaze. May their souls rest in peace.

I saw the battle coming in. Things were worse than Fleet operations at Zebes. At least back then we didn’t have to fight organic ships. Or deal with phazon corruption. It is not something I wish to see again, nor can I describe it lightly.

Those people did their job; I did mine. I just wish I had been able to do it quicker. They deserve more than what we’ve given them. Even Chief Hardy said as much, though not verbally… I could see it in his eyes.

There are rumblings about bringing Admiral Dane before a tribunal to investigate his actions at Phaaze. Dane is a good commander, ready to visit the front lines, but when you lose over a third of your fleet, and half your crews, there have got to be answers. I don’t think the public will fully realize the nature of the enemy and the danger the galaxy would have been in had the operation failed. Most of them have never even heard of Phazon. But most know the Pirates, and I will keep hunting them until the last one is dead.

Given that, more than likely, the tribunal will “promote” him to a desk job.

Posted by: lonelyonzebes | August 8, 2010

Lonely on Zebes

Sometimes, it gets lonely out here in space. Eternal night in the abyss, and not a soul for parsecs; just me and my ship. In times like these, I think about the gulfs between worlds, and the intangible rifts between people. And the dreamlessness of cryo-sleep. When you spend most of your time in the place between worlds, you quickly become younger than your friends.

After awhile, I get used to it, but they tell me it’s not good to keep these things to myself, that bottled up, they will eventually explode under pressure. Sometimes they sound like Old Bird, but they may be right, just as he was right. He was always right.

I am Samus Aran. A free bounty hunter.

My friends tell me I should write a journal, that I should release my pent-up emotions. The thing is, I don’t know what to write, or even where to start. They said, “Don’t worry about it; the words will come to you in their proper time.” So this is what I will try to do.

Anyway, here I am.

Lonely on Zebes.