Tourian

The Final Fight

A Super Metroid Story

The Original Plot for this Story is to be Credited to JJ Ukil

This Heavily Re-Edited Version of the Story was Created by Gustauve Drakenhime

with the Expressed Permission of JJ Ukil


Samus blazed through a long corridor, using her new Speed Booster to its fullest warp speed. She had learned quickly how useful this item would be to her and just how vital it was to her success. She spared a moment to reminisce on using it in Norfair on her way to another new item-the Grappling Beam. There had been a real kick!

She didn't pause long, though; she knew there was still work to be done. There was a golden statue beyond that door-a reflection of each of the hardest of her enemies to defeat. She had already been there and seen how the entire statue almost seemed alive, how the gemstones that made up each creature's eyes almost seemed to pulse, not glint...she put the thoughts from her mind and went through to see the statue again. There was literally nowhere else to look on Zebes for the Metroid hatchling. She had hoped destroying Ridley would reveal it to her. So she did-only to find the capsule that contained it broken apart, the fluid spilled with it across the floor. Now she went to the statue, hoping that it was like the last statues she had seen in Crateria or that she could at least blow it open.

Samus was searching the likeness of Kraid, seeing if it would reveal any answers, when she got a nasty shock. The green gems forming Kraid's eyes suddenly shattered, splintering into the air and coming down into the pool near the surprised Samus. This wasn't what had happened to the last statue - that was certain! Then Kraid's likeness changed from its golden hue to a dismal, lifeless gray. She expected something similar out of each of them now, and the eyes of Phantoon, Draygon, and Ridley did all explode. She couldn't help jumping each time. Then the cavern began to shake. This was more like it, Samus thought. Figuring that the statue would sink and show her the way, but still preparing for falling ceiling, she waited. About a half minute later, the floor dropped from under her. Unable to regain her footing, she dropped into an underwater cave. It housed the statues, a midair platform...and an elevator.

Remembering the similar setup from her last visit, Samus shuddered, but stepped onto the elevator and entered what she knew was Tourian.

Samus didn't know what to expect out of Tourian. The last time she had been there, the Metroids were still alive; now, she had eradicated all of them but one-hopefully. All she knew was it would be a tough battle. Dropping down to a girder above some lava, she opened the door to the west and stepped through.

The first thing she saw through the door was a stretch of hallway. She quickly looked over it. She was on a ledge that led to a drop-off, the rest of the hallway; this led to some more lava, which she was certain was the acidic lava that could eat right through the Gravity Suit she had found after defeating Phantoon.

She noticed a flicker of movement from near the ceiling of that hallway. She pointed her beam at it, only to find nothing. Don't start getting delusional now, Samus, she thought to herself. But when she hurried forward, she saw that she was not mistaken after all. The flicker revealed itself to be a Metroid.

What!? came rushing to her mind. But I utterly destroyed all of these! There can't be any more Metroids! It must be...something else. She remembered, at that point, the small, Metroid-like creatures with a red sphere in the center that she had dubbed Mochtroids. They could suck fair amounts of energy out all at a time, but they could never latch on, never stop you from firing. They were useless, in her opinion. But Metroids were unmistakable. You simply don't forget a form like theirs-a green, bulbous gel surrounding THREE red spheres, the Metroids' more acceptable excuse for brains-and worst of all...the pincers on the bottom. As soon as she saw those, she knew this was a METROID she was dealing with. They looked exactly like all the other Metroids of this type. Probably do the same thing, too, Samus, so MOVE! she screamed at herself.

The Metroid had, luckily for Samus, paused at her appearance. It had been programmed during its creation to know Samus as its worst enemy-but also know of her prowess at defeating the Metroids in the past, and that this would not be a simple meal like any normal human. This one had a power suit to contend with.

Samus dodged just in time-the Metroid had quickly dived after her helmet, going after the head like they always did. It made a chirping noise and started after her again. That noise almost hit her like a physical blow. She had too many memories attached to Metroids. She swore they were gone! What she didn't know was that this particular chirp was an alert call.

Eventually, Samus decided to fire at the Metroid, particularly glad that she had the Ice Beam again-it was the only thing that would stop these Metroids. She quickly fired at it and hit with her first shot. As expected, it froze solid, all the way to the red spheres. Samus knew now that five of her missiles would finish it off, but she also had figured out that one of her Super Missiles, extra-strong missiles she had found but a few times on her trip through Zebes, was roughly equal to five missiles. So she switched her gun to the Super Missile launcher and blasted it; the recoil jarred her, as usual, but she was glad to see that it did more than jar the Metroid. It was, in fact, exploding violently. She was also pleased to see that the Metroid had left a replacement Super Missile in its wake-the odd result of her weapons' energy colliding with the energy of the dying creatures, forming extra ammo. She had never figured out why it worked, but was she ever glad it did!

Suddenly, her instincts took over, and she rolled to the side and into a ball.

Two Metroids zoomed over her then, nearly slamming back into the door she had entered the hallway from; she could see a third coming as well from farther along the hallway. In a flash, she came out of her Morphed form and iced the two with one shot-she loved how the plasma beam did that!-and turned to get the other one. She missed the first time, but not the second. Soon she had destroyed all of the Metroids. For a time, she just stood there, letting the implications of even FINDING the things here sink in: there were more Metroids...again...and before she could leave this planet, she had to destroy them all and their new leader. She had a good idea of who their new leader was, though: their old one...Mother Brain.

She shook off the frightening revelations and made her way through the next door.

Again, something hit her almost like a blow-this was the first Tourian all over again! This reminded her greatly of the first shaft she had come down in at the old Tourian. They had rebuilt it here, then, like before. She paused, but then started moving again, dropping down to a platform, with a smile on her lips that came from a good thought. If they've rebuilt it, then there isn't any new territory, is there?

She looked down at the floor of the girder that held her up. If it WAS the old Tourian, she'd know in a second. She fired almost straight down, seeing the beam pass straight through the floor. She had expected the shriek of the frozen Metroid, and wasn't even surprised by the second one. No, there obviously isn't, she answered herself.

As she dropped another level to take care of the first Metroid, she noticed something she had seen but not really thought about in the first room-a Rinka. She scowled at the tiny plasma ring, knowing just how little damage it could do if it hit, and simply froze it, taking care of the Metroid above her. She caught the falling Super Missile. Then a pain, a shock, came to her back. She whirled to see the fading traces of one of the Rinkas and knew what had hit her then. Pay attention! she snapped at herself. She had learned, though, that these Rinkas did even LESS damage than the others, probably because of her new armor additions, that and her having more than three times as much energy as she had in the old Tourian. With new caution, she destroyed the second Metroid and searched for the others...only to find there WERE no others. There wasn't even any shaft left to descend. So, they may have Metroids again, she thought, but not MANY of them. She smiled grimly and continued on through the door.

She knew exactly what to expect out of the new hallway-many Metroids, drawn out over a remarkably short stretch of metallic "land." She iced and blasted the first one up ahead; it left her a large sphere of energy, another thing that shouldn't have appeared but didn't give her any real reason to complain, and replacement Super Missiles. Caution ruled her thoughts in this corridor. She kept remembering that one Metroid that came right out of the ceiling, right over her head, right onto her head...

Encountering a mere THREE Metroids, an amazed and unscathed Samus went on through the door. She saw it remained the old Tourian still, with a ledge hanging over another ledge hanging over a Metroid, if her memory served her. So she fired straight down and raced over the ledge, just in time to let a faint chirping shriek go to her ears. She turned and found it had already come up to her ledge when the beam had hit it. This one was sure fast, she thought. At least none of them were the slow ones...the slow,

HUNGRY ones... She shook it from her mind and blasted the Metroid. It left nothing but a little relief. She went forward and dropped down off of the ledge, remembering from the old Tourian that she wouldn't see another Metroid for a time and figuring there would be even less now.

She found her feet landing on green gel. A quick scream passed her lips. Where the hell did this come from!? Her memory cried to her. She tried to jump off of it, since it seemed to be substantial enough to jump from, but she slipped and fell hard back on the ledge. Before she knew what was happening, the Metroid was on her, draining energy from her power suit.

A stream of curses and an energy drain clouded her thoughts, but she remembered what had happened last time when a Metroid had latched onto her. The Metroid was happily absorbing her shots, as easily as her energy. Not knowing what to do, she had morphed into a ball and started rapidly setting off bombs. It worked-when one finally hit the Metroid, it was stunned and she quickly escaped, freezing it. She remembered this and rolled up. The Metroid still remained, of course, holding her headgear in place but not stopping her spin. She almost set a bomb, but then a thought came to her. The Super Missiles...they worked better, she reasoned, so...what about...Power Bombs?

She quickly switched from normal bombs to Power Bombs, the ultra-explosive bombs only available in bomb form to her when morphed, but able to power her in other ways as well. She set one and prepared for the blast-she always set her mind to letting her suit not be harmed by the suit, but the sound startled her unless she concentrated. The bomb went off. The Metroid took the blast full force. It stopped the energy drain-but didn't let go!

It didn't work, she thought. The Metroid started back on her Suit's energy reserves. Then her brain registered that the Metroid had made a sound when it was hit. It...Hurt it? she foggily reasoned. So she quickly set another one; the same thing happened. She was determined to see this through to the end, curious as to how badly the bombs hurt it. Then the third one killed it. Pretty badly! she realized, smiling.

It hadn't exploded as violently, though, and left only one Power Bomb instead of the two or three she was hoping for. Collecting her thoughts, she cursed her cockiness and vowed to never stop being careful in treacherous Tourian. Not everything was the same about this Tourian. These Metroids must have been positioned differently. Instead of being two ledges down, the first was most likely directly below the door and the ledge.

Instead of being about seven ledges down, the second must have been below the second overhang and been alerted by the beam. She pondered for a while, and finally proceeded. She went down again, this time cautiously darting her eyes to see first everywhere she was going. She went to the next overhang, peered at it, and backed up off of it. She found another Metroid. They startled each other, but Samus recovered first and fired; it was quickly over, and she regained some needed energy.

She used the same procedure to go down another overhang and, shocked, found the door; from the south, not the west.

I guess this is where the similarity ends, she reasoned, and opened the door. She dropped down, ready for the Metroids wherever they lay.

She wasn't ready for the change in terrain. The metallic girders and landscape were gone, replaced by dirty caves and brown pipes. Nor was she ready for Sidehoppers.

Shocked at seeing something besides Metroids, she raced away from the quick things before she realized she had the Screw Attack. One of the best but hardest items to use correctly from her first visit, she was pleased to see that it was much more powerful when paired with the new add-ons of her suit. She didn't know which-it could have been the Space Jump or the Gravity Suit, two items she hadn't gotten at Zebes before, or perhaps the item itself had improved-but the Screw Attack now made her invincible.

She jumped through the Sidehoppers, never appreciating the side effect of vertigo that seemed to accompany the Space Jump, and landed just beside the new door. She jumped up and shot it, and before she could react, one of the Sidehoppers had tagged her with its legs. She was used to having the attack destroy anything it came in contact with, and was annoyed to find it didn't do this to them, as well as how these were more powerful than the normal, yellowish Sidehoppers, but it had hardly hurt her anyway, so she just hurried through the door.

A Torizo greeted her when she regained her sight after coming through the door.

"DAMN!" Quickly, Samus's beam rose to the Torizo's chest level. She almost, almost fired. But she suddenly got a nagging feeling that something was wrong. The Torizo hadn't moved.

Curiously, Samus walked up to the Torizo, charging up her beam in case it was a clever ruse. Still, it didn't move. When she was within two meters, it remained still. Now she noticed something else: the Torizo was a dull maize color. Samus couldn't help muttering, "Dear God..." She knew this condition. This Torizo was completely drained of energy - By a Metroid.

Samus shook her head and edged around the Torizo, trying to get through it and the narrow hallway to the next door. She couldn't make it past its arm without brushing its side, though. This part of it crumbled from its main body like so much dust. Samus shuddered. Torizo or not, these were Chozo statues; violent Chozo statues, yes, but Chozo statues all the same. A monument which gave testimony of the splendor and glory of the race that had raised her as one of their own. And to see this one reduced to such a state nearly brought her to her knees. Then, suddenly, she was being covered in dust. The entire Torizo was collapsing, from that one weakened part.

Samus choked and scrambled from the rising dust pile. A tear rolled from her eye down her cheek, irritating her because she couldn't wipe it away herself. Soon it was gone anyway, though, cleaned by the suit.

She walked to the door, opened it, and jumped through to find a whole hall filled with dusty, withered creatures. Geemers, Zeros, Cacatacs, Skrees, Rios, Sidehoppers, Rippers, Wavers and Metarees filled the hall, all of them no more than lifeless, withered husks. Further down the hallway, she saw another blue Sidehopper like the ones she had dodged before. Angered by the lifeless scene before her, she decided ironically to take it out on the Sidehopper, firing a shot from her beam. It passed straight through the Sidehopper, but didn't do any damage to it. "Tough bug," she muttered, pulling out her Super Missiles. She fired two. Not only did they not do anything, but they didn't even explode-they simply dropped to the floor, completely halted and disarmed. It vanished quickly afterwards. She shook her head and prepared to jump through it, as she had the others, when she heard a loud noise.

She stumbled, backing up. What on Zebes was that? she wondered, both curious and frightened at the unseen threat. Her head darted about, but she noticed nothing but the Sidehopper, which had apparently missed the noise and had decided at that moment to leap; the leap would take it right over her, at any rate, so she wasn't worried.

Then she saw it.

As soon as the Sidehopper had reached the peak of its jump, directly over her, a monstrous green bubble had swarmed from the ceiling...directly over her...and latched onto the huge Sidehopper. It centered on its head, but completely engulfed the Sidehopper's top half! Samus stared in horror as the gigantic Metroid reduced the presumably invincible Sidehopper to dust faster than any Metroid she had ever seen. It was lifeless in less than five seconds. Then, with more horror than she had ever known, she realized the Metroid was now after the only other living thing in the room. Her.

Stumbling again, she pulled up her beam, hoping to God she could freeze the Metroid like all the others, but knowing the truth-it wasn't going to happen. It didn't - it merely stopped it from advancing for an instant. Desperately, she morphed in a flash and set a Power Bomb, not even trying the Super Missiles, knowing they had no chance to work without it being frozen. The bomb exploded, throwing her back. In her fear, she hadn't concentrated on keeping the bomb from affecting her. She quickly looked up at it and saw the blast had done just what the beam had-slowed, but not hurt, the thing.

Stammering, Samus backed up further. She had no options. She was mortified. Oh God! This can't be happening! She mentally screamed. The Metroid overtook her, and she screamed. The incredible amount of pain she was experiencing made her vomit, and the massive energy drain nearly made her faint, but she managed to hold on. Trying hard to face her death with some amount of dignity - she lowered to a kneeling position, watching as her last energy tank drained in less than a second. She closed her eyes. Another tear rolled down her cheek.

And suddenly, just as quickly as it began, the drain came to a crashing halt.

Samus couldn't look up, for she and her suit were too weak. What...happened...who's there...? she thought, trying to look around to see if maybe someone had come to save her, only seeing the four huge pincers, which made her wince. Then the Metroid slowly dislodged itself from her. She managed to look up, staring directly into intense network of nuclei - Good God! There were at least seven in this one!-pulsating rapidly. She then figured it was her energy that was causing it to pulse so violently, and managed a slight shudder, feeling nauseated. But then she also noticed it was making some kind of chirping noise. No...It's thinking, she realized. It was an odd sort of chirping. She had never heard the likes of it before.

No, she thought. I Did once...

Samus had gone through Zebes once on her journeys, tackling these same Space Pirates for the Galactic Federation. Afterwards, she had gone looking for more bounties to hunt. She was later contacted by the Federation again, this time because they had found the Metroids' home world-SR388. They had sent an expeditionary force to set up communications and establish a ground-base weeks before, but the Metroids quickly killed that group; soon afterwards, they sent a special task force to try to destroy the Metroids. They too, were killed quickly. Therefore, Samus was called again, because of her experience with the Metroids. She wasn't comfortable going alone, but then found that some of the Metroids weren't the same as the ones she had fought on Zebes. They didn't all absorb energy - some would just attack her. She was actually able to kill most of them rather easily – save for the originals, and the Metroid Queen, a dragon-like monstrosity, larger than any creature she had seen prior to that time. Soon after killing the Queen, Samus found the last Metroid egg on the planet. She was about to destroy the Metroid that quickly hatched out of the egg, but it was actually somewhat friendly. It didn't make the same angry chirps that all the other Metroids made; instead it had a rather cute, friendly one. It swirled around her, but didn't try to latch onto her. It even helped her escape to the surface of the planet. She had decided that she wouldn't kill it and instead took it back with her, to hand over to the Federation.

This Metroid, though 20 times larger than the hatchling she had taken with her, was making the same sounds; albeit at a lower pitch.

Samus had taken too much. She was both overloaded and underpowered. She fainted, knowing within her heart she would most likely never wake up.

Not long after passing out, she amazingly did wake back up. It surprised her very much, after taking a minute to remember where she was exactly.

She then took notice to the scene of devastation around her.

More Geemers, Wavers, Sidehoppers-and even METROIDS-were in dusted piles about her. Suddenly, she heard more of the chirping above her. She looked up and saw the giant Metroid again...but it no longer frightened her.

She stared up at it in awe. "This...this is the hatchling." It took a while for the revelation of what she had said to sink in. In a strange urge she could only have explained afterwards as motherly instinct, she reached up for the Metroid. "What have they done to you?" she said, suddenly concerned for that which had just caused her more physical pain than she had ever felt before. While reaching up towards it, she touched one of the pincers involuntarily.

The Metroid made the same noise and suddenly hurried away.

Samus stared after it for a short time, and then suddenly fell to her knees. The fact that that Metroid had protected her...coupled with the energy drain, it was too much.

Samus attempted to pull herself together, but found she could not. The suit was too weak to go on, and though she wouldn't admit it, she was as well. There was only one thing to do. She had to use the Crystal Flash.

Years ago, back when Samus was growing accustomed to the Power Suit, she was told by the Chozo that it was possible for her suit to absorb the energy from a great explosion and restore itself to its maximum capacity; much like the collision of energy from exploding enemies produced the ammunition and energy-restoring globes that sustained her. It was not something to be toyed with by any means, though, because of what she had to do to get the Crystal Flash, as it was dubbed by the Chozo, to work correctly. Instead of steeling herself against the explosion, not letting her own weaponry damage her, she had to let go...had to let the explosion completely destroy her suit. Then and only then would she be restored-the suit would actually recreate itself and reform its particles by using up some of her other ammunition, originally from her beam but also by using other resources if she found them. If she did not let it do enough damage, it wouldn't destroy the suit to the amount needed to initiate the process-but it could still destroy the suit; leaving her totally exposed to the hostile environment.

Samus was not in ANY sort of mood to relax. But she would have to in order for the Crystal Flash to work right.

Sighing, Samus settled into a position she had long ago learned. At least she was capable of it. She had often meditated with the Chozo long ago. The problem was getting totally relaxed quickly enough for no enemies to take advantage of her in her weakened state and destroy her. She had a fleeting thought of what a Metroid could do to her like this if she wasn't protecting herself... She sighed. Now I'll have to start relaxing all over again.

Samus remained undisturbed for the thirty seconds it took her to let go. While concentrating on a meadow she had known as a place of peace as a child, she subconsciously morphed and set a Power Bomb.

Her suit was totally and unequivocally obliterated. Samus felt the slightest bit of apprehension. But that soon dissolved as she felt the familiar energy swirling around her, and knew she had executed it correctly.

About ten seconds later, she was completely restored, as well as her suit. Refreshed, she moved forward, noticing a wall of debris for the first time. She simply shot at it, disgusted at how easily it fell away. She continued, finding more of the debris cluttering a shaft. She blasted it away as well, finding two doors, to the east and west. She faced a bit of indecision, but the eastern door required missiles, so she used the western door.

Inside, she found an unfamiliar setup. These were recharging units, which could charge up either her energy reserves or her missile battery. This room, however, had two units. She had seen this once before-somewhere near Kraid, she thought. That one held both a missile and energy recharge bay. If that was the case with this one, she could have restored herself without the ordeal she went through if she could have only gone a few more meters!

The one facing her was a missile recharger. She leaped over and on top of it, thinking, Please don't let the other one be an energy recharger...

But, of course, it was.

With a heavy sigh, Samus left the room the way she had exited, determined not to think about it, and used a Super Missile on the red door.

More of the same terrain she had been facing lately stretched before her, and in the distance, she could barely make out a 'Demon Door'. These doors had to be opened with a Super Missile or missiles as well, but they could not be opened until she went close to them and their lone eye opened. Then she could fire at the eye; if it survived, the eye would close for a few seconds. Once killed, the Demon Door would melt away quickly, replaced by a normal door. She did this with a Super Missile, not wanting to waste time. The hatchling is out there somewhere...

She found herself back in Tourian terrain, falling past a girder and onto a ledge. She dropped off the ledge to lower ground, but was tagged by a Rinka on the way; the slight sting didn't deter her from using another Super Missile on the red door and entering.

Samus stood frozen at the sight that laid itself before her when she left the door.

The exact same setup had awaited her at the end of the last Tourian.

Rinka batteries and Energy Turrets inhabited the room. They had proved deadly for her last time, but with the energy and armor she had now, she knew they would be little more than an annoyance. Rising acid lava took its place at the bottom of the room; it was rising very slowly, so she wasn't too worried. The rest of the room consisted of more girders, blocking her off from going forward, except for one panel in the wall in front of her: A Zebetite. These tubes of red goo that looked uncomfortably like Metroid organs gave the Mother Brain energy. So it IS her! she thought. Last time she had found the Zebetites could be destroyed with missiles. It would let her through the small rooms that resembled cages. And here it was again.

Samus smiled for the first time in a while. The one difference here is now I have Super Missiles. She got up close to the Zebetite, as she had last time, and let it have it with one Super Missile. She was amazed at the results. The room shook even more than she had expected, and the Zebetite had already gone down in size! This usually took at least 3 missiles to accomplish. She took care of the Zebetite in 4 shots. The Super Missiles, though impressive at first, weren't as good of a deal here, since it took only 11 or 12 normal missiles, and she switched to regular missiles, saving the Supers for the Mother.

The second Zebetite was positioned differently than any she had ever seen before. They were somehow exactly her height the first time, and always in one piece; the one she had just seen was a bit taller than her, but otherwise the same. This one was much taller than her, but had a girder in the middle of it! She would have to roll into a ball to fit through the gap the Zebetite would make, either on the top or bottom. This was of little concern to her, though; she simply blasted through the Zebetites, rolled into a ball, and jumped through the gap, using the highly convenient Spring Ball-an item she had also found on SR388. She wished she could find the Spider Ball. THAT would be handy! she had mused upon getting the Spring Ball.

The next Zebetite was like the first, though at that point the lava decided to stop rising after rising to an uncomfortable level-just under the platforms Samus needed to stand on. The one afterwards was like the second. But she wasn't quite as quick to destroy this final one, because she knew what would come next, and though she knew she could decimate the Mother this time, she still wasn't looking forward to seeing her again. Then she thought about what the Mother's pirates had done to the hatchling. She quickly decimated the Zebetite and rolled through, landing on solid ground, as she had expected, and coming out of the ball to face the Mother Brain in all her glory.

Samus winced in spite of herself. The Mother Brain looked like a living, thinking creature shaped like a brain last time; this time, though, she looked exactly like a brain. Well, she rethought, a brain as tall as I am...but a brain, nonetheless. She was again encased in glass, again flanked by Rinka batteries and Energy Turrets. The memory might have overcome her, had she allowed herself to think about it. She didn't, though. Aside from blasting the Mother with Super Missiles, she thought only about the hatchling, and how it had protected her, and what they had done to it...

Mother Brain had known it would be Samus Aran as soon as her first Zebetite went down. She had hoped Samus wouldn't make it that far-that the hatchling would finish her off. What she hadn't counted on was the hatchling's insane thought that Samus was its mother. Even the Mother Brain's advanced brainwashing hadn't quite penetrated the hatchling-just when Samus was about to go down in final defeat, the hatchling recognized her-even to the point of protecting her from the Mother Brain's other minions! And so, Mother Brain had known it would only be a matter of time until Samus would come charging through to her, blasting away her casing again. She had always known it, really; that's why she had prepared the surprise she was waiting to bring down on Samus.

…That and a need to reconcile some homicidal tendencies that had been building up in her for a long, long time.

Samus was out of Super Missiles before the Mother was finished. She resorted to missiles, but she was confident she had enough; she had more now than she had had back then, and the Super Missiles had already done plenty of damage. So she kept firing, and after only 15 missiles had been pumped into the brain, the room seemed to power down. Samus wasn't surprised; it had happened before.

What did surprise her, though, was the room's destruction.

Pieces of the room came apart all around her; she had to do some uncomfortably nimble dodging to get away from the lava, which was sinking quickly, and the shaking room. Finally, the only things left in any sort of order were Samus...and the Mother.

Then the room started shaking again. Samus prepared herself for more battering. What she didn't prepare for, though, was the Mother.

Is it...RISING? Samus thought, nervously.

A long series of spiked balls began picking up the Mother. They came straight from the ground and hefted her into the air very easily, considering the Mother's size and the chain's lack of size. Samus suddenly realized something in sheer horror. That's... "THAT'S A NECK!" she finished out loud.

Indeed it was. Soon after the four-length 'chain' rose from the ground, so did a body. It looked like an artichoke, but Samus wasn't laughing. The shoulders of metallic arms were soon visible, then their ends, then metallic legs. When the Mother's new form had finally finished rising from the ground, Samus was left awed.

The Mother Brain then did something she never wanted to do, but needed to during this fight. She knew that brains alone would not win her the battle; that's why she had made this body in the first place. What she needed to do was overpower her opponent. She built the strength to do it into this body, but she would never be able to guide herself well enough to defeat Samus. So she did one of the hardest things she had ever done. She let herself fall into a berserk rage. She could not think about anything else. She must only concentrate on the fight...

As soon as her entire body was visible, the berserk Mother Brain opened her eye and emitted a piercing howl. She saw she had surprised Samus with her little trick. Now she wouldn't just surprise her-she would annihilate her!

As soon as the Mother screamed, so did Samus. She wasn't prepared for this. She wasn't prepared for this at all! When in the hell did SHE get a body!? She screamed to herself. This has to be wrong! This HAS to be a dream!

Suddenly, a jarring, brutal hit took Samus out of her stupor. Four blue energy rings had come flowing from the Mother's mouth, and Samus, paralyzed, had let them all hit her.

Maybe I should've gotten hit, she realized. It certainly convinced her that this was indeed reality, and that she would really have to fight this monstrosity. Then she did a quick check on her energy reserves. It had taken off nearly a full energy tank. Gasping, she realized the cost was more than the gain. Or at least it will be if I don't get moving!

Samus dodged the next set of rings by Morphing into a ball, then fired her missiles into the body. No good. The arms certainly wouldn't be the target, she thought, so the last large place to try to hit would be the head. She fired three missiles almost simultaneously, and each hit the Mother, stunning her for the tiniest bit. Samus smiled. Maybe I have a chance after all.

Then she checked her remaining missile count. She had a total of 20 left. Then again, maybe not, she thought grimly.

PAIN!

How could Samus STILL cause her damage, still make her feel PAIN, while she was in this magnificent body? Why had she been stupid enough to not include a covering for her head with it?

Of course, Mother Brain didn't really think these words. She was too far gone at that point. But she knew the feelings. She would have to be more careful about such matters if any opponents like Samus managed to show up in the future.

No matter.

The Mother Brain was still confident she would win the fight. Samus couldn't have had enough power to stand against her for very long.

Samus managed to pump a couple more missiles into Mother Brain before it, in turn, dropped a ball of...something. What IS that? she wondered. She did know, though, that she didn't want to touch it. She backed up a bit and fired another missile into the brain. Then the ball exploded.

The explosion covered a large part of the floor, even extending close to the Mother's legs. Samus was almost knocked off of her feet, and knew those explosions were almost as unhealthy as four rings in the face. I'll have to jump that if she does it again, Samus set that thought aside in her memory for later if the need should arise.

Ten missiles later, she did - So Samus jumped...too early. She barely managed to clear it, jumping up again quickly. She hadn't been looking up, either-a ring hit her. This was difficult! Samus emptied her last seven missiles into the Mother over two sets of rings and couldn't help muttering, "What now?" She hoped charged shots would work as well against the Mother as they had against Ridley. She began charging one, jumping a bomb. Then the Mother pulled another trick out of her bag. Samus saw her firing a beam of her own through her eye. It startled Samus, and she barely even let off the shot; it was wide to the right. Even worse, the Mother's beam was not off the mark-it hit Samus squarely in the chest. She breathed in sharply and fell to the ground. She found it wasn't really very damaging, but it did throw her around a bit.

She just does too much! Samus decided. Not that it mattered-she had to win, or...she didn't want to think about it. So she quickly charged her beam and let one off at an angle. Her aim was true, and it hit the Mother squarely in HER weakest spot-the eye. The Mother screamed loudly, covering it up by mixing it up with throwing two rings and roaring. She laughed. Take that . She started charging again.

Samus almost became bored after a while. She was learning quickly how to dodge "everything" the Mother could do. These were quite basic attacks, once she thought about it. At one point she landed seven charged shots without taking any damage herself.

It was a good thing for her, too, because the Mother didn't really seem to be caring anymore.

"This thing won't DIE!" Samus screamed after her twentieth landed charged shot.

Contrary to Samus's ideas, the Mother Brain was suffering much damage. Samus was quite formidable. Still, she could win...if she just pulled another trick. Luckily, now that her rage had died down quite a bit because of the pain-and finally causing Samus some pain HERSELF, for once!-she could use her strong attack. It took concentration.

Samus was about ready to give up at that point. Then she noticed that the Mother was retreating to the back of the room, even to the point of moving her brain back against the wall. "You ARE weak, aren't you?" she asked with a happy smile. She expected no answer. She got none, per se.

The quickest attack the Mother had made thus far came hurtling Samus's way.

Caught up for an instant, reveling in a sign of her enemy's weakness, she simply stood still, gaping, while the incredibly fast attack came her way.

The stream of energy balls fired from her hands all hit her at once, it seemed. She crashed upwards against the back wall and fell to the floor.

She quickly shook herself off. Something MUST be broken... Not bothering to check her energy reserves-she knew well enough that it had hurt!-she instead concentrated on learning when to dodge the attack. She didn't even charge up her beam, instead trying to find the pattern the Mother used for this weapon. Prepared, she saw the quick stream of energy balls coming again and jumped over all of them, just BARELY clearing them all.

Samus figured out that it had taken the Mother about five seconds to rest after firing that stream. So, will she only do that? Or will she mix in other attacks? she pondered. Oh well, I don't suppose it matters. Then, though, it mattered. The Mother fired off two rings, and Samus jumped up-right into the tail end of a cleverly placed stream of fireballs. She took it right in the head, and it took all her strength not to black out.

Samus took a moment to try to rub her head. In the suit, it didn't work very well, but it helped a little. "That Mother..." she grumbled. "You think you're smart now, don't you?" She knew she wouldn't get an answer. So she created her own, charging up and firing during the rest period. Then she took a second to check the suit's energy reserves. The good news was the attacks felt much more damaging than they actually were-Samus's mind must have been wandering. The bad news was she had SEVEN full energy tanks remaining. SEVEN, she frantically thought. What happened to fourteen?! I thought I DRAINED my reserves! She quickly checked and discovered she had. Oh… Well… Damn… she mused.

She almost missed the jump, but she still saw the energy attack and managed to pull it off. That rest period was really starting to hurt the Mother-she pulled off two charged shots that time. Then the brain tried what she did before, but with a bomb;

Samus managed to guess that the brain would force her to take some damage one way or the other, so she dove forward, away from the energy stream, straight into the bomb.

She was surprised to find the bomb wasn't toxic, as it looked; landing on the bomb as she had, not only hurt less than the explosion, but got her away from it. She grinned and used another charged shot.

The Mother started to blink her lone eye. Have I done it? Samus wondered. She looked on with a charged shot ready, just in case.

The Mother Brain was outraged and calm all at the same time, an odd feeling that comes only on rare occasions; it came to Mother Brain because her rage wore off, but the battle was not yet won.

Now she knew that if she wanted to get out of this alive, she would have to use her fatal weapon...the one that drained just as much energy from her as from her opponents.

Not that it mattered to her, of course; she was inflicting enough damage on her opponent, and besides, the Mother Brain was far from dead – she could afford to take the damage.

Samus looked on curiously. The brain sure looked like it might be dead, but the body still looked normal. Well, that would make sense; the body was the part that couldn't get hit by anything.

Suddenly, Samus caught the Mother closing her eye. She wondered what it meant. Then, the brain started to radiate energy. Samus looked at her own charged beam. It was doing the same thing. Samus gawked at the similarity, and a revelation hit her: I'm in for it now...

After two loud pulses, the brain's eye opened back up. It was glowing. The next thing Samus knew, she was being pushed up against the back wall-she wouldn't have been surprised if she was driven right through it!-and being drained steadily of energy by a wide, glowing ray. But it wasn't just her suit's energy. Samus was losing her LIFE energy, as well.

When the laser finally stopped, she had lost the energy to move.

MOVE, IDIOT! MOVE! Samus screamed to herself. But her body refused to comply. Finally, after a few terrifying seconds, she discovered she was not permanently paralyzed. She struggled to her feet and checked her beam, to see if it had shorted out. The laser had detonated all but one of her power bombs. Her missile mode systems were also gone. But the beam systems were still working. Then she checked her energy reserves. The laser had lasted long enough to drain three energy tanks. She realized it felt about right-it took away about a fifth of her own personal energy, too.

Moving considerably more slowly, Samus cursed loudly at the Mother and charged up her beam, firing it right at her eye. It was a direct hit, but this time it didn't prompt a scream, even in a roar. She started to charge again, hoping to stun the Mother this time.

Then the Mother began to charge as well.

"No. NO. She can't..." Samus couldn't even collect her thoughts, much less her words. This one was going to leave her without any energy tanks! She'd be living on her original energy stores, the ones she had carried down to Zebes!

Desperately, Samus rolled into a ball, jumped up directly in front of the Mother's eye, and set off the power bomb. She waited for it to detonate. It did happen before Mother Brain could fire, and it even stopped her from firing; the problem was, it didn't HURT her. It didn't even get rid of the charge.

A stunned Samus refused to believe that the Mother was firing...until she did.

The laser caused the gun on Samus's right arm to explode about halfway through. This exposed Samus's right hand to the laser. It was all but melted off by the end; Samus's scream echoed through the small chamber long and hard.

After the same length of time as it had lasted before, the laser ceased, dropping Samus to the floor.

She tried to think. She couldn't. She didn't even have enough energy to keep breathing, much less to actually form coherent thought. Samus couldn't move this time. This time the laser had paralyzed her, broken her for life, mutilated her arm halfway to the elbow. She couldn't even look up at the Mother to see what, if anything, she would do next. For a few seconds, all she concentrated on was breathing. After that, a thought came to her and wouldn't go away: I'm going to die. Right now.

The Mother Brain knew that Samus Aran would be much more valuable as a prisoner. She could be held as ransom for both the few remaining Chozos and the Federation. The Power Suit could sustain her as well, possibly better than the Zebetites did. Perhaps she could warp Samus's mind-maybe convince Samus to fight for the Mother Brain. She had never tried it before, and it sounded very appealing. At the very least, Samus would be a fun prisoner to have around, especially in her present form.

But she would be an even more fun thing to kill.

She tried to push this thought, left over from her berserk rage, out of her immediate acting centers, but it would not leave. She knew how selfish, how idiotic it was, but the hate the Mother Brain held for Samus would not let her live a moment longer.

Samus Aran must die NOW!

Samus tried hard to calm herself, but it just wasn't happening. She had plenty of reasons to be anything BUT calm, and absolutely NO reasons to BE calm, other than her own peace of mind-and that wasn't exactly a convincing argument to the practical Samus.

Still, when Samus heard the piercing howl, followed by the charge of the laser once more, she had managed to accept death. She wouldn't like it. But there are some things you just don't avoid.

The Metroid raced through passageways, phasing through walls as quickly as it could-it wasn't as easy for them to do that as its mother believed-trying to get to the fight it knew had taken place. Mother had recognized it, once it had recognized her. Since this had happened, why hadn't it stayed with her, tried to help her in her cause? Now it was sure its mother was in danger, and it was entirely all its fault...

Then it saw the scene.

The Mother, standing over a small, battered figure that was all but dead; The Mother was charging up what she liked to call "the Laser Brain-" her last resort weapon.

The battered figure — Samus, the human - Its rescuer; its mother.

Quickly, it saw what it had to do.

Perhaps if Samus could have looked up a half-second, she would have seen it coming. But she couldn't move anything and could only attempt to look up with her eyes. It didn't work very well, but she could plainly see that something was amiss-and that sound, that hideous noise...that revealed it much easier.

Was part of that noise a Metroid?

Again, Mother Brain was outraged. She was about to have her final moment of triumph over her most hated enemy, Samus Aran, when the blasted, overly-loyal Metroid hatchling had raced through the ceiling above her and latched onto her head!

If the Mother Brain had felt pain while dealing with Samus in the past, she couldn't classify it as pain anymore-not after this. She'd never had her energy drained personally, and even though she had studied it immensely, she hadn't known what it felt like.

However, she did know most of how the Metroid accomplished its little task. It was something like reprogramming the electrical impulses of the brain-that's why they always went for the head. The new impulses then traveled down the spine, where they made the body divert all energy, both storage energy and newly produced energy, to the spine; this energy was then devoured by the Metroid. While it wasn't QUITE as deadly as what the humans thought they could do, it did the job. But the Mother Brain had been a brain all her life; she could play these little mind games with Metroids, and win.

So it wanted all her energy, did it? Well, it wasn't going to get it-but she was going to let it think it would.

Struggling for a time, she almost tried to fight it when she felt the energy that powered the Laser Brain leaving her. But she knew that was futile. Instead, she worked on diverting and destroying the corrupted energy impulses. Being a brain, she knew how to do this quite well. While she did this, another part of her told her body to play dead-ACT as if all energy had left the body. It was a stretch, she knew, but she could manage to pull it off with a little help from the corrupted brain waves. She re-reprogrammed them, had them intermingle with the Metroid's own brain waves, to make the Metroid think it was draining energy. It wasn't really draining anything, though-except, in a technical sense, brain waves, which were quite replaceable to the Mother Brain.

The "drained" body of the Mother Brain settled against the back wall, seemingly never to move again. The Metroid detached itself.

Watching curiously from her deceptive shell, she wondered just what the Metroid would do, now that it had "incapacitated" her.

Samus also watched curiously. The haze of pain had left her while the Metroid was draining the Mother Brain, and she was able to view the last part of the quick battle. The hatchling had killed the Mother Brain! And now it was moving towards HER...

Please let it recognize me, she prayed quickly. If it latches onto me, I'm through...

She was then faced with a confusing pull of emotions. Part of her was afraid-the Metroid was indeed coming down onto her head!-but another part felt it wouldn't attack her, that it did recognize her. It was making more odd-sounding chirps, after all-another type she had heard only when in its presence. She didn't have much of a choice about it, anyway-she was still too weak to get away, or do anything at all. She let the Metroid settle onto her, part of her filled with fear, another part stoically accepting death, still another not considering it an option.

The third part won out, it turned out. As soon as the Metroid was on Samus, she felt like she was being healed, not hurt. She flexed her right arm noticing an encompassing warmth came over it; she looked at it to find her arm was back, whole and good as new.

Then Samus felt an odd, telepathic message come into her mind. 'Please don't be afraid. I'm here to help you, mother.'

'So you ARE the hatchling...'

'Yes, mother. But I'm no longer as you knew me.'

'Yes,' she responded, 'what is it they've done to you?'

'I do not know, mother, the dragon placed me in a room that burned and cooled at the same time; it made me grow.'

'You poor thing...'

'Don't worry, mother. I'm all right now.'

'Thank you.' The Metroid responded to her thanks with a warm chirp.

Samus pondered a bit. 'Did you really just destroy the Mother Brain?'

'Yes. I drained all of her energy. She won't hurt you or anything else ever again.' Samus smiled.

The Mother Brain was intrigued. She had been able to interpret the feeble telepathy-such types were nearly visible brain waves to her-and heard everything. The Metroid was actually giving back Samus's energy! Suddenly, she realized what this meant. With full energy accompanying Samus's knowledge about battling her, she had more than a chance to defeat her. She was determined that wouldn't happen, not after the work she had done on the human.

She started to let her body turn the stored energy she had been willing it to produce into working energy. Soon she would be revived-back from the dead, to Samus and the Metroid. That Metroid would never know what hit it.

Another thought crossed Samus's mind. 'How...how will we escape here?'

'Do you remember how I helped you escape the caverns when I first hatched?'

'Yes, but...'

'It will be no different than it was back then.'

Samus was surprised. 'So we'll just escape from here the same way we did escaped the Queens chamber?' Another thought, one she hid from the Metroid, crossed her mind: Then I really am going to live! She couldn't believe the turn of events.

'That's right, mother.'

Samus grew a bit concerned. 'You know, Metroid, that-well, I'm not your mother. I can't be.'

A telepathic laugh came to her. It made her feel very weird, very warm. 'I know, mother. I know.'

Samus smiled. She also recognized her energy tanks were half full, and the gun was starting to mend. It must be giving me back my own energy, she realized.

Suddenly, she heard something. A muffled...roar?

'What was that?' she asked quickly.

'What was what...Oh, no!?'

The Metroid's form shuddered visibly, its internal nuclei suddenly pulsating faster. Now it was transferring energy to her much more quickly. She couldn't see very well through the Metroid's green shell, but she knew something was attacking it.

'What is it? What's happening out there?'

'It's...It's The Mother!'

'WHAT,' Samus strained to see through the green, pulpy mass that made up most of the Metroid. And it was-it was the Mother Brain, back from the dead. 'But that's impossible!' she screamed to him. 'You drained her of her energy, didn't you?'

'Yes! I know I...oh, no...' The Metroid retreated to its own thoughts for a time. 'No...She tricked me...I had started to, but she figured it out and tricked me into thinking that I had killed her.' It shook violently. 'Obviously, she managed to survive.'

Again, it shuddered. Samus realized two things now: for one thing, the Metroid was finished restoring her; the other thing was the Metroid was shuddering not from its thoughts, but from the Mother. It was attacking the Metroid all too often. She looked up and noticed the nuclei darkening. The Metroid was growing weak.

'Mother...I won't last long.'

'NO!' Samus screamed at it. 'Don't say that! The Mother isn't that powerful-right?'

'Mother...I'm going to give you her power.'

'What?'

It paused, shuddering again. 'I didn't steal all of The Mother's energy-but I DID manage to get the energy powering the weapon I saw her use on you.'

Samus sighed. 'Thank God for that.' Even if she was back up to full strength now, just moments ago, that laser was being used on her...on her arm...

'But you don't understand. I can give you that energy...' another shudder... 'And it WILL give you the power to kill her once and for all.'

'What?'

Before the Metroid would explain further, it started to transfer energy to Samus again-this time, an odd, alien energy. It felt unfamiliar to her, but she did know it was going straight into her gun.

Suddenly, a final violent shudder almost dislodged the Metroid from Samus. It knew it wasn't going to live much longer.

'Mother...Samus...goodbye.'

Samus watched in horror as the Metroid disconnected itself from her and tried to get away. It had no speed left, though.

The Mother fired two rings.

With a piercing shriek, the Metroid started exploding violently. Samus watched in horror as even the tiniest remains of the Metroid quickly evaporated.

"NOOOOOOO!"

Then she started to glow brightly. Wha..what? Her arm cannon started glowing as well. Somehow, she knew it was linked to the Mother's energy. So she checked her gun—to see what mode it had gone into.

Instead of listing the beams-Charge, Ice, Wave, Spazer, and the Plasma beam—which automatically disengaged the Spazer beam's functionality-the indicator simply flashed one word repeatedly:

Hyper.

Mother Brain had heard all that had transpired between the Metroid and Samus and came as close to cursing as she ever had. Now Samus had part of HER energy! And, worse, the part she had stored for the sole purpose of the Laser Brain!

Desperately, she started a fierce attack, trying to divert Samus's thoughts from firing at all. She released two bombs and several rings simultaneously. But Samus looked determined-from the death of the Metroid, Mother Brain noticed-and dodged them all, then returned fire.

Both were shocked at the result.

A glowing beam of pure energy blasted from Samus's beam and rocketed to Mother Brain's head. It hit her on the lower base-but that was enough. That beam carried as much and more of the destructive power the Laser Brain had; it rocked the Mother Brain around on her neck.

Echoing thoughts she had felt Samus feel earlier in the fight, she knew she was in for it now.

Samus stared down at her beam. She was fast falling into a berserk rage of her own, but her new weapon had surprised her out of it for the time. What the hell was that!? echoed through her mind. She fired it again, with the same result-the Mother reared back on what passed for her neck and screamed. She liked this weapon. She liked it a lot.

The death of the hatchling again fueling her rage, she blasted the Mother again and again. It never even got another chance to attack.

Samus didn't know, didn't care how many shots later, but the outcome, of course, was the Mother Brain's death. In its final death scream, it charged up to her, but stopped short. Its body started exploding, and in seconds it had turned to hot slag. The brain fell to the floor, and, quite appropriately, turned to dust.

Before Samus could think about celebrating, or the more practical matter of escaping Tourian and leaving Zebes, an alarm sounded around her. The sound rebounded along all the walls around her-even through the walls she could hear it, in the other rooms. A voice suddenly sounded: "Emergency. Time bomb activated. Escape immediately." Samus realized she was trapped in the room, but a piece of the wall conveniently fell out in front of her. Well, scratch that, she thought, hurrying through the new gap.

Some metallic beams were in front of her, closing rapidly. Again trapped, Samus shot the Hyper beam at the blocking girders in disgust. To her surprise, they disintegrated. Again, she stared at her beam. This stuff hit ME? she thought. And I'm still alive!? She raced forward through the wreckage. She encountered a door below her; she shot it with her beam, with a distinct feeling of overkill, and dropped into it.

When she emerged, she found another shaft; this one was very short, with only two Space Pirates hanging on the walls. She saw that these were like the very first she had encountered-very weak, both attacking and defending. She plastered the one to the east, sending it exploding across the room and into the one to the west, and proceeded to drop down; the door this time was to the east, and she went through it.

When she emerged through this door, she found a type of digital counter near her. She looked at it and found there was another one of those alarms by it; the counter read 2:48:98. She was faced with a few choices here: two hallways leading east, branching off up and down.

Looking far enough, she knew going up would get her nowhere, but she couldn't see the end of either hall; she decided she would chance the lower route.

A short race with the Speed Booster brought her crashing into the wall. She looked around her and realized this was a dead end. Sighing, she ran back the way she started; she saw the clock had gone down to 2:35. She jumped up and ran into the hall, shooting one of the Pirates; she simply blew through the hall and some other Pirates. She found another ledge, this one thicker than the one she was standing on; gladly, she jumped up onto it.

She came to another intersection-up and farther to the west. She thought for a little bit, knowing this was the same setup she had done wrong last time. Finally, she decided to go upwards. More Pirates "confronted" her, but she found a door past them.

She fell through the door into a long shaft. She tried to steer herself onto one of the hanging platforms to regain footing, but ended up falling several meters to another platform-far enough down for her to see that going downward was useless-another dead end. "This place is like a maze," she muttered in frustration. She made her way back up the girders, mutilating the first few Pirates that dared to shoot at her. Soon, the ones near these stopped fighting back, their rarely-used self-preservation logic kicking in. Finally, Samus got to a large ledge. She hopped up onto it. There was a long run, then a drop-off; she also, just before falling, found another counter. It had changed to 1:54:77.

Quickly, she ran across the newest ledge and found another drop point, this one leading to a long drop. She couldn't see the end, so she spun down the drop, in case she had to jump straight off of the wall to avoid some creature's gaping maw.

She landed on more metal. Looking around, she saw a literal maze of platforms. She looked around up at the top but found no end in sight to them; sighing, she started jumping up and over the platforms. When she got closer to the top, she had traveled east, and found the exit—west of her position. Great, she thought, and started jumping across.

Another ledge accompanied by another counter. Now it said 1:43:88.

She raced through another door and found herself finally out of the metallic rooms. She sighed, thinking she could leisurely make her way to her ship now. Last time, Tourian had exploded just before she had left the planet; she expected no less from this Tourian.

Then she noticed something was wrong.

The ground beneath her was quickly giving way to more of the acidic lava she had seen in Tourian. That had never happened before. What's wrong? she wondered. She looked up, searching for any other bad signs. She gasped. There's no one there! All the other times she had gone through this place, the old exit to Tourian, on her newest visit to Zebes, she had seen more Space Pirates hanging on the walls. Now they were all gone. She figured out something was very, very wrong.

Quickly, she started jumping up the ledges, watching more of the ground below her giving way to lava. She had a terrible feeling that she had to leave, leave now!

After a long climb, she got to the exit; going through the door, she confirmed her worst fears-it wasn't just Tourian exploding this time. Steam was actually coming out of the ground, out of the walls around her-everywhere. This entire PLANET is rigged to explode! she realized.

Again, she dashed up the territory, knowing it well now. She didn't know for certain now how much time she had left, but she did know it was running low.

She reached the top, jumping up and over the small cliff. She dashed straight for where her ship lay, passing over the chamber where she first acquired her bombs...

...Until she heard a chirp.

She stopped. Where have I heard this before? she wondered. She pondered her entire journey here, trying to figure out what had made that sound. She reviewed what she had seen that was new here...until she finally remembered.

That was an Etecoon!

Earlier in Samus's second adventure, she had explored some out-of-the-way regions in Brinstar. Not many got to the places she went. One of those places was almost hidden-it wasn't easy to see that those blocks could be broken, and Samus had indeed fallen right through while running down a corridor.

There wasn't anything to see-or, more likely, that she COULD see-down the hall, so she bravely charged ahead and through the hallway...

...and almost smack into a bird.

She stopped short. What kind of bird is THIS? she thought. She had never seen anything like it, but it was obviously a bird. Its beak and legs gave it away. The bird was squawking at her wildly. Samus looked around, in case an escape was needed, and found the source of the bird's problem: she had knocked over the bird's egg and was trapping it with her legs. She quickly moved aside; the bird adjusted its egg, putting it back upright, and the bird called at her, still wildly but no longer violently. She shook her head, hoping the bird could know she didn't understand it. It did seem to get the message. But still, it wanted her to follow it. It was indicating that with its head recognizably enough. It ran down the corridor then, and for a bit, Samus had trouble keeping up with the fast bird, but her Speed Booster won out and she flew down beside it, stopping just short of the wall.

She looked at it. When it stopped, though, it crouched down-causing it to glow. Then, suddenly, it took off like a rocket, straight up the shaft and into the blocks she had just fallen through, which had strangely, but predictably, reformed by now.

Hmm. That looked like it just might work...

She went back to the corridor, right alongside the bird. Then she took off again, the same thing happening exactly-she overtook the bird. This time, though, she crouched when stopping as well. It turned out her suit's joints didn't approve of such abuse, and Samus had to pay, starting to ache in all of them. Nevertheless, she tried jumping up at that moment, at the same time as the bird.

It had been the greatest thrill on this trip.

She went up even faster than the bird did, straight up at a speed that she never should have reached going vertically. All at once, the blocks that trapped her rushed up before her, then rushed behind her-then the ceiling of the hall above it rushed up before her. That stopped her quite nicely, causing no damage to her suit but giving the real Samus a headache.

Thinking about this, she checked her energy reserves.

Amazing. The jump had run itself off of the suit's own energy! Still, she knew this would be a small price to pay for this wonderful new use for her Speed Booster.

Another of the places she had gone in Brinstar included one she had actually meant to. She had seen how breakable the blocks at the bottom of the first shaft were, and she figured a Power Bomb would destroy the ledge and let her see what was making those noises below. She had guessed right. It turned out that it was simply one of Brinstar's local monsters-she couldn't even remember which one anymore. But still, there was a whole new shaft here, and she intended to explore it.

Some time later, she had collected another Energy Tank, more Super Missiles, and a lot of pain. There was a long hallway after those items, and it was filled with those annoying Beetoms and Carnivorous Flesh-Flowers that had a nasty habit of chewing on her whenever she fell into one. The platforms did not look safe for her to walk on. She had to make a lot of jumping, and she was almost up to it, too.

Finally, she had made it to the far door; she opened it and went through.

What she saw through the door took her by surprise. There were three little creatures there, small mammals with horns on their head. They chirped out an odd-sounding greeting to her. She turned her beam in their direction on an involuntary movement; they took it as a threat, and one bolted, jumping past her to the shaft that ended with their small cave. The others just halted, looking scared.

"I won't hurt you," she promised, hoping that these could understand her but figuring they wouldn't be any more intelligent than the bird. They seemed to understand a little, but she was no longer paying attention. She had turned to the shaft, trying to coax the other one as well, but it was long gone-straight up.

She strained to see that the creature was actually jumping off of the wall! It was bouncing up one wall, then the other, then the first; it kept going in rapid succession and was making quick progress up the shaft.

Hmm. That looked like it just might work...

Samus started for the shaft. She jumped up in a somersault position, her more versatile style of jumping and what looked more like the creature. She pressed up against the wall and tried to push off of it. It worked better than she could have hoped-she was able to get a full jump from the wall! Amazing, she thought.

Now Samus knew how she would get out of there. She had fallen back to the ground, but was determined to try again. She also noted that the two creatures still with her on the ground were smiling. "Thank you," she said, crouching down to one; it chirped happily. Soon she was out of the shaft.

Later on-just before she had gone into Tourian, in fact-Samus had looked up the creatures on the data computer in her ship. She found that the bird was called a Dachola, noted as one of the fastest bird species known. She also found the mammals. They were called Etecoons. They had no special notes. None of these animals were supposed to be on Zebes. There weren't many of these animals at all.

And now Samus heard one, chirping anxiously, down below her and in the part of the hallway that had housed the Bombs.

Nevertheless, Samus wanted to save her new creature friends, and she rolled into a ball and went back and down, into the bomb's lair. She entered the first door, to the purple hallway, and saw it was now flashing. The bricks were starting to fall off. She went through the final door and entered the room that had housed her bombs. She did find the Etecoon; all three of them, in fact, and even the Dachola. They all greeted her.

She saw what was wrong. They were trapped in the room, with no way to open the door. Samus always shot these doors, but they had no weapons. It closed, and she turned to fire it again-to find it was metal now! No...I'm trapped, too!

Desperately, she looked around at the room. It was much as she had remembered it. It hadn't even started falling apart yet. She looked for some way to shoot, something that would get them all out, but found nothing herself. The Dachola, however, was pointing toward the back wall, pecking it and squawking.

Samus went over to the wall and inspected it quickly. She saw that it, too, was a bit unstable. She fired at it with the Hyper beam, which she knew was the strongest weapon she had with her now. Indeed, the wall opened up to reveal a long hallway. Strangely enough, the door opened up as well.

The creatures went for the hallway as Samus went to the door. She went through it...and found the hallway had crumbled. She was blocked off. Wide-eyed, Samus looked for any weakness in the rubble; not finding any, she fired at it with her Hyper beam anyway, but it was in vain. Trapped again-and this time with no way out! she thought in alarm.

The Etecoons' escape route, she wondered. Perhaps I can get out with that. She hurried through the door again and fell back into the bomb room. One of the Etecoons was even still with her. Samus kneeled down, scooped up the little creature in her arms and dashed down the hallway. What she saw in there dismayed her greatly. It was a wrecked ship-small enough to hold three small passengers and a single larger one.

Frantic, the Etecoons were darting back and forth along the hallway; even worse was the Dachola, who was going along the entire thing in under three seconds. Samus was annoyed with the chaos and yelled out. Everyone stopped.

I wonder...

Samus looked down at the hallway. It looked long enough. She started from the west end of the room and ran down the whole thing...then crouched. The Dachola raised its eyebrow-like flaps of skin. It knew, of course, that it could repeat the maneuver. The

Etecoons quickly managed to grab onto the two-one on Samus, two on the Dachola-and they both took off.

Samus looked down past her. She saw the ground zooming away from them. Then she looked up and saw the ceiling zooming toward them - Then past them. Then, with a start, all she saw was open sky.

She desperately looked down, but all she saw was more of the exploding planet. It looked about ready to blow now. Worse yet, this was nowhere near her ship, as she had hoped when she first made the frantic plan. There was just the giant crater they had just burst out of. Worst, she was losing energy fast.

A long way up, she noticed with a start that a wide crack opened in the ground far, far below them. It's begun, she noted. Then she took a look at her energy reserves.

She had two tanks of energy left. That would last her another few seconds. And I'm just as finished, she thought in dismay.

She stopped her jump then, her suit out of energy.

An Etecoon grabbed onto her from the Dachola.

She was still being propelled upward-by the Dachola!

She clung to its neck quickly for a better grip and saddled it as best she could. This was basically clinging to its neck. Somehow, everyone managed to hold on...and the Dachola wasn't even slowing down. It must not have to worry about tiring out, she guessed. She realized then that the oxygen was gone. The atmosphere of the exploding planet was not only unstable, but just behind them. She knew she was going to be unconscious before the Dachola finished its jump. Her suit was able to provide her with limitless, filtered oxygen-if there was any. The Dachola might even lose it, she pondered.

Soon after, the Etecoons dropped away, deprived of air.

Then, so did Samus.

About a minute later, the Dachola finally saw a planet in sight. Trying to find a soft spot to land, it steered for it. Once it was sure it would hit that part of the planet, it gratefully let itself black out as well...

The End