Standard disclaimer: I don't own the Metroid or Star Wars franchises, obviously. I'm also not making money off of this. I also won't repeat this in later chapters, because that would be redundant.


It had been some time since Samus Aran had seen an abandoned pirate base. Hardly surprising, given their fondness for self-destruct devices. But back on Aether with no interesting leads on pirate activity from her own research, or her few remaining contacts in Galactic Federation space after the BSL incident, she decided to accept the Luminoth invitation to study it before it was demolished. The Pirates had tried to set up a covert base there to pick up hints about Dark Aether, in their persistent quest of an edge. But even in the midst of rebuilding after a half century of war, the Luminoth found and destroyed them.

Samus found it a little surreal, walking the deserted corridors and laboratories of the base, as she headed for the command center. Her skirmishes with the pirates rarely left much time to studying their bases for anything but exploitable weaknesses. The detailed scans she took lasted longer than her battle through the Pirate's main base on Aether; and the realization brought about a wry grin behind her helmet.

Arriving in the command center, Samus took a moment to examine the portal device installed there. It was an obvious attempt to copy the Luminoth portal device, despite the technology being worthless after the collapse of Dark Aether. Not something she minded, as Dark Aether had been one of the more unpleasant places she'd visited; despite Zebes and SR388 being largely considered death worlds.

Putting it out of her mind, Samus began accessing what files were left unprotected, skimming a few but downloading most for later perusal. Most were as repugnant as ever, though they brought a grim satisfaction at her destruction of their base.

Once the easy pickings were gleaned from the computers, she began downloading the Pirate's encrypted data, which was of considerably greater volume. Samus prepared herself for a long and boring wait when the screens turned red, and the now familiar sound of a self-destruct klaxon began to blare.

"Typical," grunted Samus as she turned to dash for the exit. She would like to get back at the author of that policy, but given how many pirate leaders she'd killed, she'd have to be content assuming them dead.

However, she had barely turned when blast shields slammed down over the exits, cutting off her escape, scanning showed her arsenal wouldn't touch it. So she turned back to the monitor, which was now flashing a message:

SELF DESTRUCT INITIATED

ENTER KEY TO HALT REACTOR OVERLOAD

17…16…

Samus switched to her X-Ray visor to search for an alternate exit, but found nothing after several precious seconds searching. A groaning whine rose in the background, and she switched off the x-ray visor as it climaxed and a power surge from the overloaded reactor blew out the room's lights. But the magenta emergency lighting was almost immediately overridden by a flash from the portal device somehow activating. Even in the darkened room, the space where the portal should be was notable for its absolute blackness. Crescendo

Samus took a few precious seconds to deliberate, but the unknown was always better than certain death. She took off at a run for the portal and dove through as an overloaded power conduit detonated behind her.

Afterwards, Samus was never quite sure of when the momentary blackout from the blast ended, and the darkness of the portal began. In fact, she could not see, hear, or feel anything on the other side, not even the tug of gravity.

See and hear nothing except the alarms and warnings of her powersuit's heads up display, as energy for her shields began draining away in a torrent. Apparently she was somehow back on Dark Aether, but the drain was far faster, and not even that world of darkness had been completely devoid of light.

Samus checked her HUD, and saw that the suit's exterior lights were active, but she couldn't see anything around her, and the suit's exterior sensors registered hard vacuum. Concerned, Samus experimentally fired several shots into the darkness with her cannon, but they faded to nothing within meters. Samus followed up with a charged blast, which performed only slightly better. Alarmingly, her suit energy was already down by a quarter.

Not expecting better results, but at a loss for other options, Samus tried her missiles; these flew into the void somewhat weakly to her eye, until their propellant was expended. Bombs and power bombs functioned in a muted fashion, in addition to producing no shockwave in the empty vacuum. This suggested something was draining the energy of her suit, but not the chemical energy in her missiles, although it did absorb energy from the missile once the propellant started burning.

"Space Jump" couldn't get her anywhere when there was nowhere to go, but the screw attack ability did something. While sheathed in its energy, the rate of drain on her reserves diminished substantially, and with her reserves now at 50%, Samus began using it repeatedly, trying to buy time. But soon the effect began to diminish, and Samus realized that the rate of drain between uses was now greater.

Now out of options, Samus felt almost at peace with the inevitable, with a trace of anger that she wouldn't go down fighting. But as the last of her suit's energy guttered out a tear ripped through the blackness surrounding her, and her vision briefly dimmed as the suit cracked open. Unprepared, she fell heavily on a dark stone floor, the pieces of her suit clattering around and atop her.

Samus rose painfully from the floor wearing what she had on under the suit; little more than a two piece swimsuit. As such it offered little protection against the chill she felt in the air. She had no real answers as to why she was alive, but she could speculate, even with no scan visor to confirm the hypothesis. It seemed to her that the most likely explanation was that the portal, only opened by a massive surge of power, needed energy to continue, and was then sustained by the energy of her suit. Once it ran out of power, the portal collapsed and deposited her here, wherever that was. She was still in darkness, but it felt somehow less impenetrable.

She activated her light and drew her emergency pistol, and settled into a ready stance. She was in a cavernous room, too large for the light to more than hint at the edges. Reddish brown stone slabs covered the floor, with mysterious glyphs burned into them. As Samus began moving to explore the edges of the room, she began to feel eyes on her. But as she scanned her surroundings on the way toward the wall, she saw nothing, feeling the lack of her suit's sensory visors acutely. Continuing cautiously, she began to feel an oppressive dread, more than seemed justified, and her thoughts uneasily went to the Chozo ghosts she'd encountered on Tallon IV. She would have no recourse but to flee such an encounter, unequipped as she was.

Reaching the wall at last, Samus began to follow it, examining it as she went. It had images carved into it. Initially she was again reminded of Chozo ruins and temples with their hieroglyphs, but these scenes all depicted a humanoid's life and accomplishments, many of which could be called atrocities, their scope and scale increasing as she followed the wall.

Finally, after traveling some distance along the wall and continuing after a corner, she encountered a massive stone door, and she felt it must be the tomb of the humanoid warrior depicted in the pictograms and glyphs. As she had approached it, the oppressive feeling grew, until, standing before the door, she could feel an almost physically despair. Only her own warrior training and long experience gave her the will to stand before that door. It was clearly unnatural, and she decided against attempted entry in her current state. The ghosts of the Chozo had taught her that the dead didn't always lie peacefully. So Samus used the door as a guide, and began walking across the center of the vast chamber, hopefully towards a way out.

Her insight proved correct some minutes later, well past sight of the tomb door, and with the "watched" feeling having receded to a vague disquiet. A vast archway was before her, and behind it lay a flight of stairs built to human standards. Looking up, a dim light above suggested that the stair progressed for at least a dozen expansive flights, and she felt some irritation at the hubris of whoever had built this tomb. Although in a moment of candor, she realized the Chozo likely wouldn't have deigned to put in stairs of any sort. She decided to tarry a bit longer, and after spending several minutes collecting the pieces of her suit to hide in blessedly empty urns set near the stairs, she began her climb. She hated to leave her suit behind, but could not carry it without a bag or pack.

Samus was beginning to feel fatigued despite her Chozo gifts when she reached the top of the stairs; having passed several darkened exits she judged not prudent to explore at the time. Now, she found herself in an entryway built on smaller scale than the tomb. It grew colder as she approached the entrance to the tomb complex, passing skeletons, hideous statuary, and other such culturally universal do-not-enter signs. As she walked down a handful of steps to the heavy stone doors blocking the entrance, she could feel them cold as ice to the touch. So it was with an air of resignation, but no real surprise, that she opened them onto a view of a snow covered landscape.

The chill almost took her breath away, poorly equipped as she was to deal with it. Still, the alien, snow covered forest and distant hills that greeted her were undeniably beautiful. Unfortunately, the tomb was too old for her to find useful clothing, much less food, so she would have to cross that landscape to find any sort of help. In addition to her lack of warm clothing, she also had a Metroid's vulnerability to cold, and could already feel it seeping into her bones. Fortunately, she spotted smoke nearby.

Fortunately for her at least, she amended. While smoke could simply be a sign of a settlement or colony, the smoke she saw was the thick, black variety most modern beings had little tolerance for, suggesting a primitive settlement or a scene of tragedy. The latter scenario could be due to either disaster or attack, and brought painful memories of the space pirate attack on Samus's community when she was a child, in which her true parents were murdered. But staying at the tomb was no option. It was difficult to judge the distance, but it couldn't be more than a few miles, probably less.

Deciding to set out immediately rather than wait longer in the cold, Samus started down the steps to ground level, careful to avoid a fall from the snow and ice. At the end of the steps was a stone courtyard filled with snow drifts, and in order to minimize the time spent slogging through it, Samus took advantage of her athletic abilities to leap over the drifts whenever possible. Not only would this speed up her travel, it would reduce heat loss to the snow, and the added exertion would help her stay warm.

She made good progress setting out, but soon realized the cold was affecting her beyond mere pain. First, while she was crossing a frozen river with some care, she began shivering despite her activity. But she truly began to worry when she became aware she had stopped shivering as she was climbing out of a ravine, which she recognized as the onset of hypothermia.

By the time she reached the vicinity of the smoke, she was suffering from poor coordination and mental impairment. Normally, she would have attempted to scout around to ascertain the situation, but she couldn't take the time when she was already suffering the effects of exposure. Therefore Samus could make only minimum attempts at stealth, and literally stumbled out of the tree line.

Silently cursing her body's betrayal, she fell on her hands and knees, and got a first look at her destination. It was a small community which had obviously been attacked recently, with wreckage still smoldering and bodies lying where they fell. Near a destroyed communications array at the other end of the settlement sat a large and well-armed ship; obviously responsible for the attack. Several humanoids milled about the ramp, loading the last of their plunder aboard.

As Samus got off her hands and knees and into a crouch while trying to think enough for a plan, she heard a shout to her left. Turning, she saw two surprisingly humanoid pirates running toward her, weapons in hand. Angry at herself for being caught off guard like a novice, she got up to run, knowing she was in no shape to fight. It was immediately apparent she was in no shape to run, either. Stumbling again, she managed to turn as she fell, and landed on her back, pistol in hand. As the raiders split up to flank her, she tracked the one to her right with her emergency pistol, but her coordination was too far gone and the shot went wide. She didn't have time to line up a second, because the pirate to her left fired a blue bolt that hit her in the stomach, and Samus lost consciousness.

Samus slowly came to lying flat on her back, a hard surface beneath her and something warm against her. She heard voices as well, and as she blinked open her eyes she tried to say something, but it came out as a croak. The warmth vanished, and she guessed that it was a person trying to warm her after her ordeal.

"She's awake!" exclaimed a voice Samus identified as female.

She rose to a sitting position and looked around. The cell she was in wassmall and would have been adequate for herself, but was uncomfortably crowded on account of three other prisoners of two species that were new to her. Two members of one species appeared male and female, with green and blue skin, respectively. They had two large tentacle-like appendages attached to their heads instead of hair, but looked otherwise human. The third individual also appeared female, and could have passed for human except for two antennae sticking from the top of her head. They looked less than clean, though not so worse for wear as she undoubtedly did.

All three were looking at her intently. "Where am I?" she croaked, coughing before she got it out.

The blue one looked uncomfortable. "I think it might be better-"

"A slaver's hold," the woman with antennae broke in, gently.

Samus took a moment to process that. It made a certain sense, although she'd never heard of the Space Pirates taking captives. But then, these were two or three unknown races before her. "Do you know where I just was?" she asked. "It's complicated," she said to forestall obvious questions.

"No," replied the green skinned man. "We were taken from a colony in the outer rim almost a week ago, by my reckoning. You were dumped in here about an hour ago by the slavers, who didn't want to 'waste' bacta on you. Firith and Vaya here-" he gestured at the green and antennae woman in turn. "-are doctors, while I'm a mechanic. I think you were taken in a raid we could hear starting a few hours ago, but you're the only person that was put with our group."

"Probably because you were suffering from hypothermia," said Firith. "With a stunblast on top of it, I'm surprised you made it, but you started improving as soon as you were in out of the cold. I'm still surprised you woke up so fast, to be honest."

Samus wondered at this as well. Usually her constitution made her quite resistant to stun weapons. Did the stun keep her down for that long, or was that from the cold? She decided to save the bacta question for later.

"Pardon me, I'm Teeubo Sivron," said the man. "Firith is my wife." They looked at her expectantly.

While Samus normally would have answered immediately, she thought better of it. If these slavers had any association with the pirates, or any contact with Federation space, really, they might recognize her name. That would catastrophically ruin her chances at an escape. So after a long pause, she simply said "Sandra."

Vaya raised an eyebrow at this. "Just remember Sandra that we're all in this together, and that means we need to trust each other going forward."

Samus shrugged. There wasn't really a good explanation that wouldn't give too much away, and she was too off balance to be a good liar. She had something for the next obvious question, though. "I was inside, swimming, when the attack came. It was nearby, and I didn't take time to change before I ran outdoors and realized my mistake. When I tried to sneak back to stop from freezing to death, I fell right into the lap of two of them."

This at least seemed to satisfy them.

Over the next several days, mostly spent in "hyperspace," Samus learned more about her situation. It was clear that she was not in Galactic Federation space, and that the main governing body, supposedly spanning the galaxy (except the parts the slavers operated in, naturally), was the "Galactic Republic." Samus was afraid her ignorance might be questioned, but everyone assumed she was from some "outer rim backwater."

At no time were the captives allowed to leave their cells, and were instead given food and water by slaves the pirates trusted to do so, who were apparently too beaten down to resist. While she regained some strength from the food, it wasn't enough for her metabolism, and she felt a bit weak, though she was still stronger than any ordinary human. The pirates themselves had apparently forgotten about her for the time being, which was good given what else Samus learned.

Apparently, the slavers had dumped her in with some doctors because the only medical procedure they performed on their slaves was to implant them with tracking devices at the base of their skull. These devices were also paired with a small explosive to further discourage escape. Needless to say, avoiding such a procedure became Samus's number one priority, and she came to question her decision to bide her time.

Eventually, they dropped out of hyperspace for some time, and Samus learned from questioning one of the slaves who brought food that the pirates had reached their base, and were putting the slaves on transports to be sold. The other group, from where Samus had been captured, was being moved first, now that they had been all been implanted, and the group she was with would be next As the pirates entered the holding cells again they remembered Samus's presence.

"Didn't this one belong with the others?" said one pirate, a Nikto, according to her compatriots descriptions.

"You're right," said a human pirate, pulling out a datapad. "No implant, either. We should fix that before the next transport arrives."

"Get up and turn around, human," said the Nikto, leveling his weapon at her as his fellow unlocked the door.

Seeing the cuffs his human compatriot was holding, Samus elected to take a gamble. She made as if to rush him, trying to provoke a response. Sure enough, the pirate fired another blue bolt from his weapon, hitting her square in the chest.

When Samus came to she was being dragged through the corridors, and she was careful not to make any sudden movement. Her plan had been partially successful, it seemed. She had indeed woken up on the way over, showing it was the hypothermia that had kept her under before. But she was also still wearing cuffs, she realized to her dismay. She'd hoped they wouldn't bother with the inconvenience. Still, to make her easier to drag they'd cuffed her hands in front; she could work with that. She struggled to shake off the last effects of the stun blast as they reached the ship's infirmary without letting on she was awake, as she heard doors opening and closing.

"Doc, we got one another one for ya here," said one of the pirates carrying her, after yet another door.

"I thought we were finished," said the "doctor," irritably.

"Some idiot put her in the wrong cell block," the Nikto replied.

"Well, put her on the table so I can get this over with."

"We've already had to carry her all the way from the cells after she got stupid and tried to jump us. Do it yourself." With that, they dropped her feet onto the floor, and she heard the hatch slide closed behind them. Samus could hardly believe her luck.

"Lazy kriffing… Anders, get your hide in here and help me!" yelled the doctor. Samus heard a second set of footsteps, then a voice to match. "What?"

"We have one more. Get her on the table and stand guard."

Samus took that as her cue for action, and as she heard the pirate move closer, she opened her eyes a crack and tensed. As the pirate bent down to grab her, Samus moved, delivering a paired kick to his jaw with legs that could propel her twelve feet straight up. There was an audible crack, and the pirate known as Anders was launched up several feet, with too much damage to determine an exact cause of death without an autopsy.

"Sithspawn!" said the pirate, as Samus used her remaining momentum to jump to her feet, and turned to the doctor. A blue skinned being with four horns, he was reaching for something on his belt. Samus dove at him across the operating table, she tackled him to the ground and sent the device flying. He pulled out a knife with his other hand, a small, scalpel like blade that hummed ominously. He slashed at her face, but she caught his wrist with both hands and turned the blade against him. He had enough wits left to drop it before she could stab him, and the blade cut his cheek as it fell. With nothing left to stop her, Samus grabbed his head in her hands and slammed it into the floor, leaving him insensate. After a moment's deliberation, she plunged the knife into his chest. This was enemy territory; she couldn't let him sound an alarm after coming to. She also admitted to feeling uncharitable toward someone who wanted to put a bomb in her head.

Knowing she had to move quickly, Samus moved toward the first of the pair, who had been properly armed. The manacles she was wearing had a slot that might correspond to an electronic key; searching his pockets, she found a likely candidate. Sliding it in, the restraints opened and fell off her wrists. Samus stripped Anders of his gunbelt first, withdrawing a pistol she tentatively identified as an energy weapon, before strapping on the gunbelt and holstering the pistol. Next she took a short rifle he had been carrying with a shoulder strap, which seemed similar to the pistol. Samus was annoyed at a selector switch labeled in an unfamiliar script. She wasn't comfortable using untried weapons, but decided to switch the toggle, which she assumed had been set for stun, before slinging it over her shoulder. She found several other items in his pockets, but most weren't conclusively identifiable. Some she thought could be drugs, and some might be ammunition, but that wouldn't be too useful given her unfamiliarity with the weapons. Still, she stuffed them in a belt pouch as a precaution and got up, dragging the two pirates out of sight of the door, before taking some knives from near the operating table and moving to the door. The door controls appeared to be a simple switch, so she took a knife in one hand and the pistol in the other, and opened the hatch with her fist.

Both the pirates who'd brought her there were standing beside the door, oblivious to the violence inside. Samus plunged the knife into the Nikto on her left. While she was unfamiliar with his abilities, he surely wasn't as hardy as a Zebesian, and most other sentient species were more than inconvenienced by a knife to the throat. Simultaneously, she backhanded the human guard with the butt of her pistol, before crushing his windpipe with a kick as he went down. She listened for a moment as they died, but heard no sign of alarm. The coast clear for the moment, she pulled their bodies into the infirmary. She considered trying to clean the blood off the floor, but decided it wouldn't be worth the time. The floor was so filthy, cleaning it might draw more attention, she thought while moving into the corridors.

Samus had no idea of her location on the ship, but previous missions had more than prepared her for navigating unfamiliar corridors. Besides, the dark grey walls and widespread corrosion was far more inviting than, say, the volcanic depths of Norfair. Holstering the pistol and sticking the knives in a pouch on her belt, she took up the rifle, since she could hardly expect as favorable a situation as the guards outside the infirmary. The ship was too small for her to pretend to be a pirate, so that left quickly eliminating anyone who spotted her. She decided to head for the bridge first, to ensure the pirates couldn't lock down the ship, and reduce the chance they could execute the slaves. If she was lucky they might even have internal security devices she could make use of.

Listening for a moment, she detected a mechanical hum that had faded into the background soon after her capture, and decided that it was likely the ship's engines. It most likely came from the rear, so she headed in the opposite direction in hopes of getting nearer the bridge, weapon at the ready and senses on alert. Every junction was a possible ambush that had to be scouted, every hatch a potential source of enemies. Samus found herself accustomed, almost comfortable with, the feelings it brought. Alone in enemy territory, not knowing the odds against her. Every time she had been victorious. Although in almost every case, she had her Power Suit, not just some scavenged weapons. That, and the fact that other lives were riding on this particular mission, were the only things that added any real tension. However, she didn't run into anyone on the way, and decided that most of the pirates must be preparing to move the slaves. Seeing a lift, she decided to take it, as a maintenance ladder could take critical time to find.

Inside, she saw standard looking lift controls, although they were labeled in the same unfamiliar script. Samus almost snarled in frustration when she saw a small button clearly labeled in English: "High Galactic." Pressing it, all the buttons flashed into English characters and Arabic numerals. She filed the oddity away for later as she pressed the button labeled "Bridge." She fell into a crouch as the lift lurched upward, and leveled her weapon at the doors.

Moments later, the lift lurched to a stop, and the doors opened onto the bridge. It's walls and ceiling were transparent and afforded a grand view of space, only interrupted by a number of bracing struts encircling it like a cage. Several control consoles were on the floor facing forward, and a command chair stood in the middle. Four beings were on the bridge. One had blue skin and horns like the "doctor," and stood near the command chair in what Samus interpreted as an arrogant pose. Another sat at a console and had bluish green skin, with an enlarged forehead and no hair. The third was another Nikto, standing near the door and beginning to turn. The last was operating another console to the side, and had green skin, spine-like hair, pointy ears, antennae, and a face like a gas mask.

Samus took it all in within a moment, before firing on the guard, who had begun to turn toward the lift with a look of surprise. A short, glowing red lance of energy leapt forth from her weapon, accompanied by a whining bark, and hit the guard in the chest, knocking him back even as it burned him. Samus next targeted the being in the center, assuming him to be the captain, and fired a second shot as the Nikto fell upon the deck, piercing the "captain" where a human had a heart. Seeing the others turning toward the lift as they reached for weapons, Samus leapt out of the lift at as high an angle as she could manage, as there was no room to maneuver within. Sure enough, she sailed over an incoming shot before landing and rolling into cover behind the console she had aimed for. Keeping most of its bulk between her and the uglier of the remaining pair, Samus took a shot at the hairless being who'd fired into the lift; it missed, but her next shot didn't. That left the ugly one, but Samus wanted one of them alive.

She took one of the knives from the infirmary out, and held her gun in her left hand. Popping her head up, she threw the knife toward the pirate before jumping out from behind cover. Given her total lack of training at knife throwing, it was less dangerous than shooting at him, but he had no way of knowing that, and instinctively ducked when he saw the metallic glint heading toward him. As he looked up again, she landed in front of him, and kicked the pistol out of his hand.

"I surrender!" he cried.

"Good," said Samus calmly, while keeping her weapon leveled at his head. "Has the next transport arrived at your base here, and are we on the ground?"

"No and no. The base is on an asteroid circling a gas giant," he said.

"Also good," she said, giving him a dangerous smile. "And before you think of trying anything, I should warn you I just escaped without undergoing your not-so-elective surgery. Furthermore, assuming your compatriots even try to rescue you, I will most assuredly be able to kill you before they succeed. Now disable internal communications."

He slowly lowered his suction tipped fingers to the control console, and rapidly input a series of commands. "Done," he said nervously.

After that, Samus gave a series of commands to the thoroughly cowed pirate. She ordered him first to jam communications to block any attempt to detonate the slave implants. Then she had him vent the pirate's compartments to space, before undocking and leaving the asteroid base at maximum thrust. Once she was satisfied the venting had done its work she ordered the ship pressurized, the lockdown relaxed, and the slaves released. All in all it was successful, although she admitted it could be seen as somewhat ruthless. Still, considering how naked she felt without her suit, she wasn't willing to risk a fight with an unknown number of pirates while wielding unfamiliar weapons. And she doubted any board of inquiry would raise an eyebrow at her actions, considering.

It was five days after Samus's escape that the ship came out of hyperspace in the Alderaan system. Several of the now-former slaves had been pilots and navigators, and it had been decided that Alderaan would be the best destination for everyone as a whole. Being a core world, there would be little chance of running into more pirates, and Alderaan was staunchly anti-slavery. All the core worlds were to one extent or another, but Alderaan was known to actually stand by its platitudes on the matter. Most aboard agreed that Alderaan would likely pay to remove their implants and get them passage home, or let them immigrate if they so desired. All in all it was the best place they could think of for a ship of escaped slaves to go to return to their lives. Or build new ones.

Coming out of hyperspace was tense, given that they were flying what was obviously a pirate vessel. However, after things were explained, Alderaan's (admittedly light) system security refrained from blowing them out of the sky, and escorted them in to land.

Things went as expected, and Alderaan's government was quick to provide humanitarian aid to the former slaves. Brief as most of their time in captivity had been, the experience had been quite traumatic, with some having lost or been separated from loved ones.

Samus had given some thought to her own situation when it came time for her debriefing, as part of the Alderannian resettlement program. Alderaan was, as it turned out, a fairly popular destination for escaped slaves, given their reputation for benevolence throughout the galaxy. This turned out to be entirely deserved; The Alderaan resettlement program was intended to help escaped slaves find their old lives. When this wasn't possible or was simply undesired, they would instead help to start building new ones.

"Your name is Sandra, correct?" said the official, who Samus had to admit seemed more sincere than most government paper pushers she'd met. His name was Cato, and Samus could easily imagine a pair of spectacles over his earnest, bearded face.

"Actually, my name is Samus Aran," she replied, and stayed silent as Cato looked at her curiously. She had no desire to explain, since the real reason she'd made up a name would be met with skepticism at best. Hopefully he'd think she was hiding from her past by making up a name now, a much more likely scenario.

Whatever he thought, he let the matter drop. "Well to start with you'll no doubt be pleased to know there were standing bounties on several of the pirates you, ahh, dealt with. After taxes and other fees, it comes out to 53,000 credits, more than enough to begin a new life. Unfortunately, we've had no further success analyzing the ship's computers," he said kindly. "I'm sorry, but we couldn't find any information on the planet you were taken from. It looks like you'll have to start your life anew."

Samus's heart sank at that. Either the pirates didn't record or didn't properly back up their navigational data, most likely to help avoid prosecution. She'd apparently shot the navigator when taking the bridge, and he and the captain were the only ones who might have known the planet she was found on, since she didn't manage to escape until after the other victims from that world were taken away. Her explanations of why she didn't know herself seemed flimsy to her, but fortunately they seemed to take the obvious lie with good grace, and give her the benefit of the doubt.

In the final analysis; however, it meant she'd lost her suit, unless she could track down the planet herself. It was probably not in most databases, given how far it was on the "outer rim," and she had nothing to go on but the climate and tomb. Finding the planet would certainly require more resources than she currently possessed, even with the reward money. So she'd have to make some sort of life in this galaxy for now, especially as the tomb was the most obvious place to try to find a way home.

Samus made a show of thinking before replying. "Since I don't know where I want to go, I should probably start with what I want to do. Given my success at it so far," she said, hiding a smirk, "I thought I might try my hand at bounty hunting," she said. Cato twitched a bit, obviously uncomfortable with this. "What?"

"Well it's just that, well bounty hunting isn't usually the most respected of professions," he stammered. "It has a reputation for attracting unsavory, mercenary types."

"Ah," she said, wondering about that. In the Galactic Federation, bounty hunters were mostly respected, as the majority worked above board, with successful ones like her taking contracts from the Federation. They were often looked at as heroes. Sure, a few worked for the highest bidder, but they were the exception rather than the rule, and the Federation's positive relationship with most hunters meant they usually were the highest bidder, anyway. Even at the rates a hunter like Samus charged, they were cheaper than the conventional military forces that would otherwise be called in, and Samus herself had further built a reputation for accomplishing "impossible" missions.

"What about law enforcement, then? The tougher, the better," she replied. She had no intention of sticking around, but attending a police academy of some sort could be useful. She needed a bit of time to get to know this world. It seemed unlikely anyone could notice her, but it wouldn't do to take chances. "Preferably cosmopolitan as well, if that isn't too tall an order."

He paused as well, before he got an excited look and replied as well. "Yes, actually. Coruscant. As the center of galactic government and trade, it's the most cosmopolitan place in the galaxy. And as the most densely populated planet in the galaxy, they always need more police."

"Tell me more, then," she said.


A/N:

This story came about when I realized the almost complete lack of good, or even non-evil bounty hunters in Star Wars, and thought of who would be the obvious candidate to fix that!

As you can find out by looking at my profile, this is my first story. As such, I'm still experimenting a bit. Not in the "experimental literature" way, but in that I'll be trying new things and improving my writing techniques. As such, it's likely that my writing style may evolve a bit as the story progresses.

My friend, Kupo (he doesn't have an account on the site), helped me edit this, and to look out for major Metroid continuity errors. Thank you!