Chapter 1: Back in BusinessEdit
Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate my options, Samus thought.
Three years had passed since she had run away from the Galactic Federation. In that time, the bounty hunter had taken several jobs from more clients than she ever had while on retainer for the GF. Needless to say, she had completed each and every job successfully, earning millions in payment. Most of her fellow hunters would agree that she had done amazingly well for herself.
Of course, most of them hadn’t signed on to bounty hunting solely for revenge; she had.
Having recently wiped her nemesis, Ridley and his lackeys from the face of the galaxy, however, the bounty hunter faced a new dilemma: now what? She had achieved her lifelong goal of avenging her parents, but that had been the only thing that had kept her going for all these years. In fact, Samus had been known for deliberately seeking out jobs that involved kicking Space Pirate bum. Any cash received was a bonus. Either way, without the cold energy of revenge running through her veins, bounty hunting had lost its pleasure. Perhaps she could quit, and get a normal job, like a video game designer. God knows she had plenty of material.
The sound of Adam’s voice jolted her out of her reverie.
“Samus, there’s a long-range communication coming in on a secure frequency. Should I tell them they have the wrong number, or what?”
She frowned. If it was transmitting on a secure frequency, then it was probably a client. Or a marriage proposal. She had gotten plenty of both, but she typically tended to respond violently in the latter case, ensuring they’d never call again. Still, might as well take a chance.
“Fine,” she replied irritably. “Establish the link.”
She heard a beeping as Adam activated the communicator, and then her client’s visage filled the screen.
She had never seen stranger beings than the one before her, which is saying something, coming from a girl who spent most of her adult life chasing a big, sentient alien dragon.
The bronze creature facing her resembled the unholy offspring of a tank, a saltshaker and R2-D2. It appeared to be the same size as a human, but instead of legs, it had a cylindrical, skirt-like structure, elongated in the front, with fist-sized hemispheres adorning its every inch. Its midsection was covered with slats, save for the wide metal bar on the front, which housed, in place of arms, what resembled a sink plunger and a whisk. Above this was a stretch of black, mesh-like material, with two metal rings. To cap all of this off, a metal dome stood in for the creature’s head, which featured two small lights on either side and a long metal eyestalk extending from the front. Inset at the stalk’s end was a glowing blue eye, which was currently focused on Samus.
“You are boun-ty hun-ter Sam-us Ar-an?” the being demanded in a harsh, staccato voice.
She showed no emotion. “Correct.”
“We re-quire your as-sis-tance in the app-re-hen-sion of a dan-ger-ous in-div-id-u-al,” it stated.
She sighed through her nose. Another petty criminal. Great. Being a fugitive from the GF meant that she had at times been forced to accept jobs from less-than-admirable clients. Nothing too illegal, though. After all, she had ethics.
Unfortunately, those ethics were the reason why she was in this predicament.
“He goes by the ti-tle of 'the Doc-tor',” it elaborated.
She had heard the “dangerous individual” spiel more than 100 times.
“Yeah? What did he do wrong?”
It was quick in its response: “He is res-pon-si-ble for the an-ni-hil-a-tion of mul-ti-ple -ci-vil-i-za-tions, in-clu-ding his own."
This was a bit more interesting. It appeared that her mission, then, was to save the universe from a mighty being capable of destroying it. Again.
“So, where do I find this ‘Doctor’?” Samus asked.
Her employer paused for a moment. “His next des-tin-a-tion is the pla-net des-ig-nated E-ly-si-a. We will up-load the co-or-din-ates to you now". Her navi-computer flashed once in response to the received data.
“ONCE-YOU-HAVE-CAPTURED-HIM, YOU-ARE-TO-BRING-HIM-BEFORE-US,” the metallic being ordered. “YOU-ARE-NOT-TO-EXTERMINATE-HIM.”
“And what will you do with him?” Aran asked wearily.
“WE-WILL-EXTERMINATE-HIM!” it ranted. “WE-WILL-MAKE-HIM-SUFFER-FOR- EVERY-CRIME-HE-HAS-COMMITTED-AND-EVERY-CRIME-HE-WILL-COMMIT!”
“Right. Got it. Whatever.” She cut the transmission.
Locking in the coordinates, she looked into the dashboard mirror she had recently installed. Pushing back the blond tresses that so often got in the way, she noticed that there were dark circles under her eyes that hadn't been there before. She made a mental note: once she had brought this "Doctor" to justice, get lots of sleep.
And a haircut.
Chapter 2: Head in the CloudsEdit
After a couple of hours, Samus’ ship finally entered the golden, sun-drenched clouds of Elysia. Of course, being a gas giant, Elysia was nothing but clouds, save for a hard center and a small, mechanical colony known as Skytown. Originally built by the bird-like beings who raised her, the Chozo , it had long since been abandoned. In fact, the only current residents were the steam-powered robots tasked with the maintenance and protection of the facility. While there were still enough in service to keep Skytown off the ground, most of these units had long since either fallen into disrepair or gone insane, attacking anything and anyone.
Her ship angled down through the clouds toward the Main Docking Bay, a beautiful landing platform and one of her favorite places in this floating ghost town. Stepping out of her ship, she mentally activated the bulky, orange-red body armor she was famous for and scanned the skies for signs of this “Doctor” her employers hated so much.
There! A blue-black flash against the gold, streaking toward the Docking Bay at breakneck speed. Was this, then, the infamous Doctor?
But, no, it streaked past her, making a beeline for the planet’s core. Elysia’s core was a shadowy place where, years ago, a seed sent by a sinister, sentient planet, had landed, corrupting and twisting everything all within its grasp.
…until she had destroyed it, that is.
Peering over the edge of the platform, Samus could still see the remains left over from the seed’s explosion. Even from up here, it looked dark and twisted. She wasn’t going down there anytime soon, that was for certain. She couldn’t figure out why anything or anyone would want to travel down into its depths.
Just then she heard a noise from behind her. Sort of a whooshing, groaning, pulsating sort of noise. It was a noise she had only heard once before, during Ridley’s attack on K-2L when she was three. Turning around, the bounty hunter watched as the most bizarre craft took form right before her eyes.
Samus couldn’t decide whether to laugh or scoff at the design of this ridiculous craft. So she did what she usually did: kept her mouth shut and her gun locked onto the materializing ship. If it was a ship. It resembled nothing more than a blue-painted wooden police box, identical to the one she had once seen in the Ancient Civilizations Museum back on Earth.
Fully materialized, the blue box’s door opened, and an even stranger man stepped out.
He appeared to be an ordinary human. Appeared to be. However, Samus had learned years ago not to trust appearances. He was tall and lanky man, with tousled brown hair and a thin face that was prone to caricature. As if to declare that he was different, however, the man wore a bizarre ensemble consisting of a long brown trenchcoat over a bright blue suit and a pair of trainers. He would have been indistinguishable from an ordinary human, were it not for a manic, intense gleam in his eyes. This, then, must be the Doctor, the alleged destroyer of worlds.
His back to her, he looked up at the statue over the facility’s ruined entrance. Then, unexpectedly, he grinned happily, raised both of his arms and jubilantly announced in a British accent to nobody in particular: “Ah, Elysia! The closest anyone can get to heaven!”
Almost as an afterthought, he ruefully added, “and a bit of fresh air is definitely what I need after destroying that Racnoss.”
So. He had annihilated another race. If there was one thing she hated most, it was an unrepentant killer. Deciding it was time to make her presence known to her quarry, Samus activated the cannon-like gun covering her right arm, aiming it at the Doctor.
For the first time, the man seemed to notice the bounty hunter. Far from showing any sign of fear, however, the strange man's grin grew even wider, his eyes bugging out slightly.
"Oh, hallo there!" he greeted her warmly, as if there wasn't a sizable weapon aimed at his face. "I'm the Doctor, and you are…?"
Samus, however, did not much care for introductions. Instead, she switched her gun to the missile configuration.
"Get in," she snapped, while jerking her helmet toward her Gunship.He winced at the sight of the large weapon. "Aww, do you really need that?" he complained, as if Samus were an eccentric uncle who insisted on wearing a Mario T-shirt to a wedding.
Aran decided it was time to show this talkative weasel that she meant business. She did so by charging up her Ice Beam, firing a ball of sub-zero coolant centimeters away from his head.
"Now," she growled, "you get to choose how I bring you to justice: wearing handcuffs, or encased in a 4-by-8 block of ice."
"Careful, that's copyrighted," the Doctor warned, not quite as cheery as he had been. "I might hate violence, but I will subdue you if I must."
"Oh, isn't that convenient," Samus remarked sarcastically. "A killer with a conscience. Well, “Doctor”, you might have the ability to take me down with your bare hands…"
She charged up her weapon for another shot.
"…but I doubt it."
Her quarry finally seemed to get serious. “I didn’t say anything about doing it with bare hands,” he replied solemnly. With an air of reluctance, he whipped out what vaguely resembled a silver pen and pointed it at the bounty hunter's armor like a magic wand. A blue light issued from its tip, accompanied by a buzzing noise that filled her head like a swarm of hornets, severing her connection with the suit.
No longer controlled, the Power suit automatically deactivated. Suddenly her trigger finger was pumping air, and she felt exposed, vulnerable. For some reason, Samus also felt herself losing consciousness.
The last thing she saw was the shock on the Doctor’s face.
Chapter 3: Doctor Whaat?Edit
When Samus awoke, she was in an enormous room with gold, multifaceted walls covered with dozens of little portholes. Several elegant, coral pillars ringed the perimeter. At the center of the chamber was a large, circular console covered with bizarre-looking instruments. Extending from its center into the ceiling was a large, glass tube, which glowed with a pulsating, blue-green light. It was a round this console that her quarry was zipping energetically, flipping switches, pulling levers, and twisting dials, all with a sense of ease.
It was then that Samus noticed she was handcuffed to a pillar.
She ran a quick self-diagnostic: her Power Suit was still deactivated, and her Paralyzer pistol wasn't in its holster, but she retained the form-fitting, blue bodysuit she wore underneath. A couple of bruises, but no open wounds, at least.
Having noticed the bounty hunter had come to, the man who called himself the “Doctor” strode over to her, all smiles.
“Good, you’re awake! For a second I was afraid I’d killed you, and I hate killing...”
“Nice suit, by the way, he added conversationally, changing the subject. He pulled out a pair of glasses with rectangular lenses and analyzed her Zero suit. “Telepathic energy-matter converter, right?” he asked, pointing to the red device on her left hand. “Converts matter into energy and stores or releases it via mental command?”
Samus just stared.
“What, did I get it wrong?” he asked. “That is how your suit works, right?”
She continued to stare, dumbfounded. Fifty different weapons at her disposal, and she had been knocked out by a madman with a magic pen.
Finally, she decided it was time to let the aforementioned madman know just who he was dealing with. "You want to know how my Power Suit works?" she growled. "Here, I'll show you how!"
She stood up and, giving a mental command, prepared for her armor to activate in response.
Without batting an eye, her captor went back to running around the console.
"Sonic interference from my Screwdriver disrupted the telepathic link with your suit," he stated matter-of-factly. "The link should be rebuilding itself automatically right now, allowing you to access your armor and weaponry within, oh, I dunno… three, maybe four hours."
Deflated and frustrated, Samus slumped back against her pillar. She was having a very bad day.
"Okay," she grumbled, "Don't tell me: you're holding me hostage in your evil lair."
He grinned. "Nah, don't be daft. It's my time machine."
Aran remembered the little blue box the Doctor had arrived in, then looked around at the palatial chamber she was now trapped inside.
"Let me guess," the hunter theorized. "Your ship is bigger on the inside, therefore this must be pocket universe. So the door on the blue box is more or less a portal to the inside, right?"
He raised an eyebrow, impressed. "That about sums it up. How did you know that?"
"I didn't. I just spouted a bit of technobabble and hoped I was correct."
An awkward silence passed. The Doctor glanced at Samus quizzically.
"Aren't you… going to go outside and do a double take?" he asked slowly.
The bounty hunter shrugged. "I've encountered giant mutant houseplants and fought sentient rock piles," she stated matter-of-factly. "I've pretty much seen it all. Plus, you've handcuffed me to a pillar, making it kind of hard to reach the door."
Both eyebrows went up at that. "Was that an attempt at humour?"
The question confused Samus. "Why do you ask?"
"Well, it's just that you don't seem to be the type to make jokes. Who are you, anyway? You look familiar..."
"I'm the best bounty hunter in the galaxy," she replied tersely. "Look me up."
"Gee, that really narrows it down," the Doctor remarked irritably, even as he searched on what she presumed was the TARDIS' database.
A few seconds later, he slapped the console triumphantly, exclaiming, "HA! You're Samus Aran!"
"Last time I checked."
"You're famous, by the way," he added. "according to this, you've saved entire planets singlehandedly. Sort of like me, come to think of it.. Can't say I like your style, though: too many guns."
"At least I don't destroy them planets," Aran retorted.
An expression of deep sadness crossed the Doctor's face, one that belied his young appearance.
Then it was gone, and he said: "Well, I'm sorry about the handcuffs, but before I let you go, I need to know just who you work for. So, I'm going to ask you one redundant question: who do you work for?""
Samus was hesitant to reply. "Well, I used to work for the Galactic Federation, but…"
The Doctor interrupted her answer. "the Federation, the Federation…" he mulled it over for a few minutes. Finally, he asked her: "are they the guys who wear primary-colored pajamas?"
"Umm…no.." What was he talking about?
"Well, whoever they are, you said you used to work with them, meaning you don't anymore."
"That's what I said."
"Well, who hired you to capture me, then?!" he demanded irritably. "See, THIS is the problem with being a time traveler: you make 100 times more enemies! Cybermen, Sontarans, Sea Devils, Pyroviles, they all want your head!!" he paced as he ranted, literally flapping his arms.
Samus waited until he was done rambling, then asked sarcastically, "May I talk now?"
He stared at her as if she had just teleported into the room. "What? Oh, sure, go ahead."
Samus had to think about it. "Well, they never mentioned their name or affiliations, but they looked like big metal saltshakers."
The Doctor froze as she said this. Slowly, an expression of shock and horror spread across his face. A glint of pure, ancient hatred gleamed in his eye, and for the first time, Samus could see how this eccentric man could be capable of destroying civilizations.
She knew it would only anger him further, but Samus could not resist making a comment.
"They said you've destroyed thousands of worlds!" she accused. "You take innocent lives into your hands and do what you want with them! You deserve to be locked up!"
In a fraction of a second, the Doctor's expression shifted from shock to unfathomable rage, borne of a conflict almost as old as the universe itself..
"So," he growled, actually baring his teeth, "That's what they told you, is it?"
Abruptly, the man charged toward her, kneeling and and roughly clasping her head with both hands. Expecting an attack, Samus fought back, lashing out with everything that wasn't restrained. Her blows, however, had minimal effect on the man who still had his hands clamped on her temples.
"NOW," he roared in a terrible voice, "Let me show you the TRUTH about your employers!!"