I worked my way through the ship's crew quarters walking past the bunks. The area was relatively intact with only slight damage, but that initial impression was marred by a row of bodies under a series of blankets stacked against the far wall. The crash had not been without its casualties
I passed two soldiers even as they carried another body out of an opposing corridor. They stopped for a moment as I walked past them, but none questioned me or tried to stop me. I could only imagine their faces beneath the visor, the fear and sorrow no doubt going through them.
As I entered the corridor they had come from I immediately spotted a female marine tampering with some power cords, this one sporting the stripes of an engineer. However her power suit did not match as it was augmented with a Phazon Enhancement Device clearly visible from the container on her back.
I stopped for a moment wondering about this as PED´s had been rendered useless following the Phazon crisis end which had also destroyed all Phazon. A quick scan of her suit gave me the answer though as it revealed extensive modifications to the PED bringing the entire suit more in line with standard Federation power suits. However the scan also revealed that the container instead was filled with fuel gel, a highly volatile fuel used in most starships and that it was still linked in with the marines weaponry.
I continued past the marine who seemed not to have noticed me at all even as I wondered about the fuel gel and PED. I theorized that perhaps the Federation were still conducting experiments on how to repurpose them without Phazon, though fuel gel seemed like an expensive way to power them.
I opened a still operable hatch and found myself in what had once been the ships command room. It seemed mostly intact except for a lack of power to most systems and the hatch leading to the cockpit was bulging inward slightly, probably from impact with the ice that had stopped the ship. I could only imagine what had happened to the cockpit and the pilot.
Three people were in the room all standing behind a large table serving as tactical board. I immediately recognized the stripes of a commander upon the chest of the power suit worn by the one turned towards me and his opened visor revealed a middle aged man with chestnut hair and an tense look.
The two in front of him standing with their backs to me were both marines, though none of them were the standard troopers.
The left one stood tallest and wore the dark brown armor of the demolition troopers complete with a pack of heavy explosives on his back.
The one on the right on the other hand had a standard power suit except that his right arm was covered from the elbow and down in a cannon similar in many ways to my own arm cannon. But I knew it purpose was entirely different as his cannon was solely a missile launcher allowing him to provide heavy support at the sacrifice of the standard rapid fire rifle of the federation.
"Simon head down to the reactor, if you find any major damage or leaks call Kayla immediately. We can't afford to lose what little power we have left in this ship "I heard the commander say to the demolition trooper before he turned to the missile trooper. "Kravis I want a complete list of weapons, food and other supplies by the end of the hour. Both of you dismissed!"
Both troopers made a quick salute and headed by through the hatch I had come in from nodding silently in greeting as they went by. Immediately the commander then came over to me.
"You know I did not believe Anthony when he said it was your ship we saw in orbit, but here you are. Commander Trenor J. Richard, 2. platoon or what is left of it" he said as he extended his hand and I shook it. "You have no idea how glad I am to see someone like you here, Samus Aran."
I nodded quickly. "How is the situation Commander," I then asked.
"Bad" he answered. "Most of my platoon is dead, some from a hull breach we incurred from an ice piece when the shields went down, the others from the crash itself. Right now we are only twelve marines, two of them wounded and recovering and the rest are spread around the ship trying to salvage what can be salvaged."
He leaned against the table "Communications are also down, Engineer Kayla is trying to repair it, but until then we can't get a distress signal out and we still don't know what hit us in the first place."
"I can answer that" I said as I walked over to the table. "Space Pirates, they have a research base on this planet and they used an experimental weapon to down the three Griffin Class Frigates that went missing. Same weapon they used against you."
The Commander looked at me a bit surprised, but then only smiled a tired smile. "Space Pirates, I thought that might be case but an experimental weapon like that I had not expected," he said slowly and then looked at me questionably. "But where do you know about the missing Griffin Class Frigates from? Why are you out here?"
"I am hunting" I answered calmly. "I intercepted a message between a Space Pirate communication post and this base and headed out here to investigate. I was ambushed by the same ship that took you down and I boarded it, destroying it only minutes after it brought you down, but not before I checked its databases learning of the Griffin-class frigates and that they had been dragged to the planet's surface after being disabled."
"I then headed down here to assist you and I suggest we come up with a plan soon, before the Space Pirates strike against you" I said.
"I see, that is one less headache I guess, but as for a plan I was going to repair communications, get a signal out and then wait for extraction" said the commander as looked at me. "Can your ship transmit a signal to the Federation from here?"
"It should be possible if the Space Pirates don't have any jamming devices in place" I answered and a part of me silently hoped that was the case. I would prefer not contact the rest of the Federation before I knew what the Space Pirates exact plan was.
"Then we stick to the original plan and bunker down. With you here it should not be hard to hold out until reinforcements arrive" said commander Tenor in firm voice looking relieved, obviously regaining some hope seeing that I was there. "Report to Sergeant Anthony, If the Pirates attack we are going to need you on point."
That sentence made me flinch and a quick burst of anger shot up in me. Though Anthony was my friend I was not about to be placed under his command and even worse I was not about to follow Commander Trenor´s commands. Placing a hand on the table I looked him straight in the eyes through my visor. "Listen Commander Trenor only one person gives me orders and he is not here. I am here on my own business and though I am going to get you and your men to safety, I am not one of your marines, I do not take orders from you."
Commander Trenor seemed surprised, but then smiled a bit, much to my surprise. "Bounty Hunter first, Galactic Federation second eh?" he said with this smile, but his expression quickly got more serious as he watched me. "Fine, I won't try to order you around Samus we need your help after all. But know this, I want to get all the men I have left out of this alive, that is all I care about right now and "
Suddenly we were interrupted as Anthony's voice came over the communicators. "Commander, incoming Pirate Skiffs! Six of them and and "
Both my own and Commander Trenor´s hand went to the helmet as we activated our communicators. "Anthony! What is going on?!" I asked not even hearing what Trenor said.
Before we even got an answer an explosion rocked the entire ship and Commander Tremor grabbed the table to not fall.
"Commander Samus we need support now!" shouted Anthony´s voice and then cut out, but not so fast that we did not hear the sound of gunfire in the communicator.
I turned around and ran for the entry hatch. "Samus" I heard Commander Trenor say behind me, but I was already through the hatch. The last I heard before the hatch closed was Trenor talking in his communicator "Everyone to the cargo hold!"
I ran through the ship passing the marines in the crew quarters even as they started moving towards the cargo hold. The ship rocked again, but I stayed on my feet and leapt through the last hallway and into the cargo bay.
Immediately I came under fire from above and looking upwards I saw a few Space Pirates shooting down through a hole in the ceiling. They quickly stopped though and disappeared as a six insectoid limbs grabbed the inside edges of the hole and a insect like head trusted down through the hole, trying to squeeze its entire body through even as its black eyes focused on me and its two large pincers clicked in anticipation.
Immediately Anthony and Donnery popped out from behind two crates they had been hiding and opened fire upon the creature with their assault rifles, but it had no effect upon the thick black chitinous plates covering its body. The sound of bending metal filled the room as the creature, the Ice Burrower as I remembered from the log on the planet, tried to squeeze its way down into the cargo hold.
"Seize fire! Its skin is to thick for conventional weapons!" I shouted to Anthony and Donnery before I took aim at the creature.
"Then what do you suggest we do, throw sticks at it?!" I head Donnery shout back even as energy build in my arm cannon.
"Watch" I heard Anthony say just as the energy finished building. The energy was immediately fused with a missile in the cannon and launched at the creature. The resulting explosion ripped of one of its pincers and caused it retreat out of the hull with a shriek.
Almost immediately the Space Pirates reappeared at the edge of the hole opening fire upon me and I leapt behind a crate even as the ship rocked again from a new explosion, this time coming from the wall on our right.
"They must be trying to make a bigger hole in the hull so that thing can get us" shouted Anthony to me and I could only agree. Quickly popping out I fired upon the Space Pirates forcing them to take cover for a moment. I then quickly looked for a way to get up to the hole. I knew I needed to get outside if I were to properly fight Ice Burrower and the exit hatch had been blocked by a crate.
I quickly noticed a crane near the top of the room next to the hole and seeing green light in the controls I knew it was still active. Running over to it I quickly interfaced with the controls using my scanning visor even as the Space Pirates opened fire again.
"Donnery, let's get those bastards of her!" I heard Anthony shout and immediately the sound of the Federation rifle fire filled the room taking the heat of me.
The crane quickly lowered towards me and I grabbed on to the cable with my left hand even as I put it in reverse.
But even as I was pulled towards the hole the wall on the right side of the room gave in to an explosion and four Space Pirates jumped in and opened fire upon Anthony and Donnery. Shifting myself I opened fire upon the Space Pirates even as I hang from the cable, but I knew the Space Pirates above me would not stay down for long.
"2. Platoon, open fire!" sounded a clear voice through the room and I watched as Commander Trenor and the rest of his men poured into the room opening fire upon the Space Pirates near the breach in wall quickly pushing them out and killing two in the process.
I immediately shifted attention to the Pirates above me keeping them down with constant fire from my arm cannon, killing one who got a bit to brave even as I got closer.
"Don't get to close to the breach!" I suddenly heard Anthony shout and I looked down to see the Ice Burrower once again try to claw its way inside. It was met with measure of success as well as it got a the front pair of its several insectoid legs inside.
It immediately lashed out against the nearby marines grasping for them with the six limps around its head and even as I watched it managed to get hold of the leg of one marine ignoring the fire from the other marines and only flinching slightly from missiles launched by Kravis.
I immediately switched my arm cannon from the hole above launching a quick volley of missiles at the limb holding the marine and they quickly homed in on it impacting the limp near its base and forcing it to let go of him. I kept up the fire forcing the Ice Burrower to covers its face with its six limbs and slowly pushed it out of the ship.
Suddenly a blast to my shoulder made me flinch and looking up I saw that the Space Pirates above had gotten new courage after I turned my attention away from them. Before I could turn my attention back to them however a hail of bullets hit them, killing two and forcing the remaining two away again.
Quickly glancing down I simply saw Anthony giving me a thumbs up and I smiled within the visor even as I activated the thrusters on my suit flying out of the hole.
Immediately I looked around for the ice Burrower and I did not have to wait long as It crawled on to the hull rearing up before me. But I was not ill prepared either as I quickly locked in targeting coordinates for my ship.
Immediately my ship blasted off from its place beside the Federation ship throwing of a Space pirate who had been trying to get in. Hovering in the air it then opened fire upon the Ice Burrower using twin power beam cannons based on my own arm cannon, but much more powerful.
The effect was immediate as the Ice Burrower sustained several wounds and hastily fled down the hull quickly burrowing into the earth before my ship could finish it off.
However I was certain it was not far away and leapt down on to the ground and started walking away from the Federation ship. I would not leave the creature alive to attack again and I reasoned a tempting target would quickly make it attack despite the danger.
"Samus " started Commander Trenor and I saw him coming towards me out of the breach, but I quickly motioned for him to stay back and be quiet using the hand signs I still remembered from my time in the Federation.
Indeed I had not walked far before the earth began to quake beneath me and suddenly it burst open as the ice Burrower came upon from beneath trying to swallow me in one bite and I was only happy to oblige. Switching into morph ball mode I disappeared into the creatures mouth and then engaged the most potent weapon in my arsenal, the power bomb.
Waves of heat ripped outwards with incredible force and I felt the entire creature move in pain for a moment and then collapse. I then rolled out of it and retook my normal form.
The Ice Burrower had been ripped open some way down the throat ripping of its head and spreading its blackened entrails across a large area and I was covered in my share of it as well.
The sound of a thruster made me turn and I saw three space pirates retreating on two of the skiffs they had come on. I immediately tried to send my ship after them, but the snowfall hid them before I could gain a lock.
Instead I turned to the Ice Burrower. It seemed like in the log, but something had guided it towards us and prevented it from attacking the Space Pirates, I wanted to find out what if possible.
Scanning the body turned up nothing unusual so instead I turned towards the separated head which was surprisingly intact despite what had happened. The scan this time turned up something interesting.
The area around the creatures forehead shows signs of a drill like object piercing its skull all the way to the brain. The brain also shows several signs of a parasitic presence, but no details of what kind of parasite can be acquired due to severe damage and burns to the brain area.
I turned off the scanner thinking about this new information. A parasite which could control a creatures mind and make it serve the Space Pirates. Valuable and I could certainly see the possible benefits for them if this parasite also worked on Metroids. I had a feeling that I was a lot closer to figuring out what Project Dread was now even if a lot of question still remained.
"Good work, Samus" Anthony said I approached the ship and I could imagine his smile through the visor and I responded with a nod even as Commander Trenor came forward.
"That was only a small squad, now they know I am here they will be more cautious, but it won't keep them away for long" I said quickly before he had a chance to speak.
He nodded slowly and then looked at me. "How long until they come back?"
"A few hours at best, less than an hour at worst is my guess" I answered simply.
He was silent for a moment, probably thinking behind his visor. he then turned to his men. "Kravis, get me that report on our supplies, double time. Kayla, Simon get the communications working. Anthony come with me. Rest of you set up barricades inside the cargo bay and two people at watch outside at all times!" he quickly commanded before turning back to me. "Samus I would like you to check if your ships communicators can reach the Federation."
I nodded and quickly called my ship over to me heading inside even as the 2. platoon went about their assigned tasks. A quick look at my instruments told me communications were indeed being scrambled though it had only recently been activated, probably to avoid alerting every ship passing through the system to that something was wrong.
Instead I sat back in thoughts. I had every intention of protecting the remainder of 2. platoon and especially Anthony, but my ship could not carry them all to safety and leaving the system to get signal would leave them open to attack. I needed a new plan and fast.
As I sat back I wondered for just a moment what Adam would have done in this situation and for a moment I wished he was still there
However I quickly pushed it aside. "I may not be the leader he was, but I have handled myself fine on my own for a long time, I can figure this out" I thought to myself and looked across the instruments in my space ship going over all I knew.
I quickly noticed that some of my scanners were also picking up the signal disrupting long range communications and with just a few commands to the computer I was able to narrow down the direction the signal was coming from as well the distance.
I smiled to myself. "There we have the base now what" I thought as I looked out the cockpit and suddenly my eyes fell upon two Space Pirate skiffs which had been left behind when they fled. At that moment a plan started taking form in my head.