Synopsis: When Samus encounters the distress call of a crashed G.S.F. ship, she learns the universe always has one more nasty surprise lying in wait.
The G.F.S. Gamayun stuck out from its jungle surroundings like a piece of shrapnel embedded into a person's leg. For nearly half a mile, the Griffin-class frigate cut a trail of cut down trees and crushed ground behind it before finally ending its crash landing. It didn't take a close-range scan to see why it fell: two of the four engines situated at the back were blown to pieces. What made them do that was the real question and Samus wouldn't find the answer by standing around.
Leaving her own gunship parked some two to three minutes of walking distance, Samus proceeded towards the Gamayun through the jungle on foot. Most people would simply fly over the wreckage directly and land there but they wouldn't think of the situation from a bounty hunter's perspective. In one of her earlier missions, a similar G.F.S. vessel requested aid and Samus just happened to fly past close enough to pick up the distress beacon. When her gunship flew too close, the "wreckage" suddenly sprang back to life, fired on her and damaged one of her engines. She was nearly stranded in the middle of a desert, managing to only escape by killing off the Space Pirates orchestrating the trap and salvaging parts for repairs afterward.
Samus made it a point never to repeat that particular mistake again.
Keeping her senses sharp and her Power Beam ready to shoot down anyone stupid enough to attack, the short walk to the wreckage passed without incident. On closer inspection, faint traces of a fire burning were apparent from giant burn marks on the hull. Given the lack of mud or clouds in the air, the fire burned itself out, meaning the Gamayun had been there for a while.
From the crash, dozens of holes littered the vessel's belly-side. Smaller pieces of debris littered the outside, cut off pieces of metal, smashed crates, pieces of armor. From what she could see, there was no encampment made or any visible sign of human activity following the crash. The suspicion of a total loss of the crew was in the back of Samus' head ever since she tried contacting the vessel during her flyby of the jungle moon and received only silence.
However, she couldn't shake the feeling something was unusually wrong. Unless something catastrophic already happened inside the vessel itself, there should be survivors. The vessel was relatively speaking intact. Mortality rates for crashing landings grew proportionate to the damage received by the ship in-question: so where was everyone?
The question kept prickling the back of Samus' head on the final approach to the wreckage. Like a gun pressed to the back of your head, ready to go off at any moment. Among the spilled crates were syringes, scanning tools and all other assorted equipment valuable to a research vessel. Or perhaps a cargo ship carrying useful tools to deep space or outer orbit science station. The answer lied inside the ship. With a minor adjustment to her visor, letting it switch between regular and night vision modes automatically, Samus entered the vessel.
Inside she found the first crewmate, a middle-aged man in an engineering uniform slumped against a wall with a metal pipe through the stomach. From a bio-scan, he'd been dead for days, showing more advanced signs of decomposition, no doubt from the humid conditions spilling inside. For the rest of the engine room trek, she encountered similar sights along with caved through walls, powerless cables dangling from the ceiling. The poor people inside must've been thrown like rag dolls on the final crashing, suffering the brunt of the damage.
The prickling feeling from before got worse the more bodies she found, inch by inch confirming her fears something else was going on there. While most of the engineers showed signs of intense bodily trauma appropriate with the scenario of sudden, lethal force push-back, a few others didn't. On four men and three women were slashing injuries from either a sword or very large, curved knife. They weren't randomly placed either, from their positions, the victims would've suffered extensive pain and arterial bleeding before death. Someone wanted these people to suffer a lot before they died.
Unfortunately, all the control consoles possibly linking into the ships data-banks or security footage were ruined in the crash. There was no way to find answers, yet. Keeping her wits sharp, Samus drudged through the rest of the ship quietly, listening for any signs of movement while minimizing the clanking of her own boots as much as possible.
Eventually, she came across more crewmates, these ones dressed as either scientists or soldiers along with more signs pointing to an attacker on-board. The walls were lined with Power Beam after burns, chest pieces, helmets and limbs were clearly slashed through in the same deliberately painful manner as the engineers.
On some of the guard's armor footprints stuck out. They definitely belonged to something lizard-like, judging from the shape of the feet. Possibly a Space Pirate, their feet were similar in size and shape but her computer banks disagreed, stating an unknown origin status. A new version? The thought of meeting and killing a new and exciting Space Pirate breed was the sole bright spot in an increasingly and all too familiar looking situation for her...
Inside the pockets of the scientists, Samus discovered personal logs belonging to them. Some detailing everyday gossip or correspondence with family members they'd never see again. Others revealing information based on the cargo they were carrying. Mentions were made of a head scientist, a Bartholomew Wolper researching then aggravating something called Subject Red.
Could this be the perpetrator for attacking the crew? What was it? Did it leave somewhere or was it still on-board? These and many other questions kept Samus on high alert through the winding, twisted corridors of the Gamayun until at last, she reached the brain of the ship: the command HQ, locked down but easily hacked into opening.
Unlike through most of the vessel where bodies littered the floor, the command HQ looked almost spotless save for the one man with a balding head of hair and scraggly face sprawled on the captain's chair. An abject look of horror on his eyes before what was very likely this Subject Red cut him down. A Paralyzer pistol was still dangling from his fingers. The door didn't show any signs of forced entry though, or any of the other doors for that matter given the lack of slashing marks matching the victims on them...
Putting this confusing bit of recurring evidence aside for the moment, Samus scanned the computer systems still showing off enough power. From them, captain's logs, navigators instructions, charts, and other assorted navigational information appeared before her visor as a scrambled puzzle box before gradually being sifted through and collected by her suits personal computer system.
Scanning the ships various computer systems first, Samus tried to piece together where they were coming from or going. From the logs, it seemed as though the Gamayun left from a region she didn't recognize, BM39 into a star system outside Federation borders. Not exactly out of the ordinary but non-Federation space was wild, unpredictable and not usually subject to science vessel investigation. Exploratory vessels were, as per regulation, sent first yet the Gamayun flew blind with seemingly no prior frames of reference.
The planets they visited were also unknown to her, nine in total. The one they stayed in the longest was not unlike this jungle world. Some personal captain logs referenced difficulties capturing a subject killed personnel and clashes with Wolper. These KIA reports spoke of a fierce, effective jungle predator, impossibly fast and cunning, deliberately leaving men alive so their comrades would fall into its traps. Worse still, Wolper told them lethal force was absolutely out of the question for capturing this Subject Red. Two squads of men were dead by the time they caught the creature.
Luckily, the head scientist himself was there, carrying something with him beside the Paralyzer gun: his personal computer, updated just days ago.
Another scan pushed aside the nav information, switching over into a series of written reports, recorded personal logs and videos pertaining to this Subject Red. What Samus found was the log of a self-aggrandizing control freak, verbally attacking people, keeping a personal list of those who "wronged" him and more.
The videos pertaining to Subject Red proved worse. The creature in question, nine feet tall, broad shoulders with yellow, pupil-less eyes, scaly red skin and retractable, curved sword was constantly kept under medication, tied down to a table and experimented on. Bits of its scales were removed, pain was forcibly applied to pull its blades down for examination and sometimes chipping off pieces from them. Sometimes while the animal was still fully awake.
The scales in-particular were a frequent subject of examination from him, referencing an incredible ability to render itself invisible. Not only as a form of camouflage to the naked eye but also to mask it from infrared or night vision. But there was more, something else Subject Red was capable of Wolper tried and failed to do, begrudgingly saying they would have to do more tests in a research facility.
Watching Wolper go on and on about this made her lip curl in disgust.
His last remaining information came from personal recordings, starting fairly soon after the crash. A mad sounding Wolper, with people shouting and banging against the door of the room for him to let them in. Wolper refused, saying over and over again how his research was too important to risk dying with the rest of the crew.
By the second day, there weren't anymore shouts from outside, just Wolper's mad ramblings to himself. By the fourth day, he started complaining about running out food and water, along with the sense something was looking at him. He wasn't wrong, that same night when his computer was left on as he drifted off into sleep, Subject Red materialized like a phantom out of thin air, slobbered over Wolper's sleeping head then vanished again just as the doctor started screaming and wildly firing around.
Samus couldn't find any sympathy for him, even when the proceeding recordings showed Wolper rapidly deteriorate into a nonsensical, paranoid mess. Two days later, when the hunger and thirst started getting to him, Wolper sat down and mentally prepared himself to leave, rationalizing that Subject Red would've surely left already. To hunt down prey in its new environment. That was when Red cut him down finally.
The creatures sense for the dramatic didn't end there either. Samus barely finished the last of the recordings when all her instincts kicked in, forcing her into a dive out of the way of a slash aimed for her head. Landing in the space between tables, she caught sight of Red and opened fire on it. The creature's tail twice the length of her arm snapped through the air, smashing into the captain's table and flinging it right at her.
Samus smacked it aside with her left hand, training her right for Red who jumped right over her, deftly avoiding every shot and went for another slash. She ducked under it only for one of the creature's legs to uppercut her across the helmet. With practiced ease, Samus recovered in mid-air and landed on one of the tables. When she looked around, however, Red was gone.
With slow, steady breaths, she calmed herself, keeping fear and uncertainty somewhere in the background but just present enough to not lose the edge they gave. Red suddenly appeared right in front of her, arm raised for a slash. Samus jumped back, watching the table get cut-in-half before Red spun around and smacked her with its tail.
The force of the blow sent her right into the view-port glass, cracking it almost enough to break. Red leaping after and smashing into her is what finished it off. On the shortfall down, they fought still, Samus hearing her Power Suit get torn through while a monster snapped, red damage signs warning of armor breaches flashing in her visor.
Somehow, Samus managed to land a solid punch to Red's face making it the one to take the brunt of the fall instead of her. Not that it seemed to matter, it was back on its feet in moments, vanishing before Samus could kill it. Staying sharp, she looked for any signs for Red and quickly spotted a giveaway. Every so often, a footprint would appear on the ground, then a bit of grass would become crushed, then a tree would strain under the weight of something heavy.
The problem was it didn't make any sense. If Red was just invisible, it didn't matter how deft it was with its footing, there should be a consistent series of trails left behind for her to follow. Briefly, stupidly, Samus thought it was jumping around to keep the tells to a minimum but that couldn't be. She would be able to hear something so big move so quickly through the air...
Red suddenly came again, this time retracting both of his arm blades in an x position for a frontal attack charge. Samus decided to up the ante, preparing a missile hit on it. Before the projectile even left, Red vanished again... Then re-appeared a second later, swinging one of his swords and slicing right into her shoulder.
Samus' momentary shock was replaced by horrible, slicing back. She bit back a shout, grinding her teeth and giving the monster a scowl. Its other blade went for her Power Beam hand, likely to cut off her main method of attack. It barely missed by an inch and only because of Samus kicking it in the jaw. Red stepped back, shook its head then snapped its mandibles at her before camouflaging itself again.
The red damage sign flashed with an additional warning, this time to her person. It was no wonder the Federation men were slaughtered so effortlessly. Not only could the damn thing move fast, hit hard and camouflage but if Samus' hunch was right... Red could also teleport for a short rage. It was the only possible explanation for how it could completely vanish from her front to the back. It was also how the thing must've gotten to Wolper despite the HQ doors being completely sealed shut...
Once again, the creature started leaping around, looking for an angle to attack her with. Samus had no intention of letting that happen. Trying to make herself look as desperate as possible, she began firing all around the area with missiles, sometimes hitting the trees but primarily focusing on the ground. It was a risky gambit, one that could backfire on her if Red attacked in the middle of her spree.
Luckily, it didn't. No doubt it thought her angrily snapping at whatever to still look strong, a prey trying to defy the hunter one last time before death. The creature proved itself vicious enough for that kind of thought process. Which is why it no doubt looked very confused when it came hacking and slashing through the dust clouds only to see nothing there at all.
Samus could only assume that she was too busy converted into her Power Ball form, laying down mines under Red's feet in the holes she'd just dug up with her missiles. With a resounding boom, all ten of them went off, blowing slabs of the ground the size of people into the air.
A loud, horrible shrieking noise filled the air, along with something strong thumping against the ground, pushing pebbles around and swiping at the air. Cautiously, Samus returned to her normal self and approached the source of the noise. Red was lying, bleeding green from stumps where its legs and most of its tail used to be. Even in this condition, though, it tried to attack her, swinging its bladed hands through the air. She put it down with a final missile hit to the head.
Samus sighed, already knowing she would feel the pain from this in the morning. But she was alive and that was all that mattered. With a handful of commands, her gunship flew over the wreckage where she stood for pick-up. Once that was done, she made sure to present every single thing that happened to her to the Federation. Someone in their ranks sent their official personal into uncharted space to illegally subdue alien species and cost an entire ship full of people their lives.
They wouldn't get away with it.
A/N: Thus ends my first, probably only, Metroid fic. I'll admit, I did this as more of a writing exercise for myself to see how a chapter with absolutely 0 dialogue would work. Something I think fits the style of Metroid quite well. This is around a few years into Samus' career, an early sign that the Federation isn't on the up and up that gets paid off in Fusion later on.