Rain could be heard falling outside.
"Yes..." Keaton sighed, "I was made aware of that incident. Hardy actually did not have any clearance to even touch down on the planet. As for what Max did, I don't really care. That's your guys's business... and I think We all know what happened after that, so... that brings us up to speed, Samus."
Samus sighed, and looked off to the side. "So... now what?"
"Well..." Keaton spoke, hands rested in his lap, "I think a further psychological evalutation may be in order, but it sounds like the prime factor in your story so far is pretty obvious. Anyone could see it, even without knowing all these events.."
"Yeah..", Samus sighed. "If there's one thing people could tell about us, it was that."
Keaton thought for a moment, like there was something he was forgetting. Then, he looked at Samus once more. "Now... there's an official Federation report on what happened next, but I have not heard it from you, and frankly, as we all know, that ended with some interesting effects." Keaton nervously eyed a small ice pistol in his drawer, as he spoke.
"What are you saying?" Samus responded, slightly defensive. "What happened to me after all that had something to do with BSL?"
Keaton pretended not to be paying the drawer any attention. "W-well, hear me out here. I'm just *saying* that maybe after the erm... operation.. maybe it effected your judgement."
Samus stood up. "I beg your pardon?? THIS organization was attempting to breed their own SA-X!! It's not a system of order and stability any more, it's an army!! They've turned it into a bureaucratic army under YOUR nose, Keaton!!"
At this point, Keaton quickly produced the ice pistol and pointed it at Samus. "Samus Aran, I strongly suggest you calm yourself! Believe me, I don't want to be the one to incapacitate you, but one way or another we need to discuss what happened on BSL and get it over with.
Samus gasped, horrified to see her old friend pointing a weapon at her.. "Keaton... I'm.. ...I'm sorry.. It's just.. I didn't want them to use the suit for evil purposes... ...producing an SA-X, even if everything was successful, and it could be tamed... it's just the Federation turning into a conquering, war-mongering force..."
"Or.." Keaton finished, "It would have been the greatest help you ever had."
Samus stared surprised, again. "What!?"
Keaton shook his head. "Fighting Space Pirates is not an easy task when you're not Samus. Our hope was that by emulating you and your armored suit, maybe we wouldn't have to rely on you so much... ...now, we can't rely on you at all..."
Samus sat down, arms crossed. "Is that what she told you?"
Keaton threw his hands up. "What?? I don't understand whatever happened between you and Damara. She used to be this sweet little girl I remember you saving from pirates, and now you're at each other's throats..."
Samus did not reserve her language. "She turned into a war-mongering bitch. plain and simple."
Keaton stared at Samus for several moments, before continuing. "Let's not go down that same road then, you and I. Just give me your account of these last few events, and I'll drop all charges, power suit yours."
Samus nodded submissively and began the hardest part of the tale...
The New Captain N
Book VI: Ridley's Last Stand
Ceres Station sat in space, silently blinking, as Hunter-II hurtled toward it.
"Hunter-II to Ceres Labs, respond please", Samus calmly spoke. No response.
"Ceres Labs, is anyone there??" Again, nothing but static. The situation was beginning to look pretty grim, as Samus's worst fears were beginning to surface. If that Metroid broke loose, it'd bring hell with it.
Moments later, Samus was already descending the elevator into Ceres laboratory, expecting the worst. Surprisingly, all was quiet. As she walked down the stairs, she found a few claw marks, but no blood. Opening the door, she walked into a dark room full of generators and continued to the far end.
...Then, she saw them. Bodies. everywhere. Some were slumped over in chairs, throats slit open. One poor woman had her stomach slashed, and her intestines spilled out. Also, a broken pair of glasses was on the floor, no telling who it belonged to. Most importantly, however, the Metroid hatchling was missing from its stasis tube.
"That's weird... It looks like the Metroid got loose, but these don't look like casualties of one..." Samus thought to herself... then she heard a scared Metroid cry coming from the far room.
Samus opened the door to find the hatchling, still in its tank, sitting on the ground. "Hey..." Samus whispered to the frightened Metroid, holding the tank in her arms. "Momma's here... it's okay... let's get out of here, huh?", she spoke, clutching the tank and heading for the exit... when she suddenly felt a terrible feeling that they were not alone.
"Hello, Samus." Ridley coldly whispered. "Come for your "baby"?"
Samus instinctively moved in to attack Ridley, while trying to protect her child. "Dammit, dammit, dammit..." she thought to herself. She should have known that Ridley would be revived and attempt something like this, but what was she to have done with the Metroid? She couldn't just destroy the creature, especially after it imprinted on her...
"Ridley, wait..." Samus shouted, cannon pointed nervously at the dragon. "Please, just leave us alone. Don't take this one..."
Ridley grinned. "What's this? Samus has a soft spot for this itty-bitty Metroid. Hey, that's alright! I happen to like people with soft spots."
Samus lowered her guard a bit in confusion.
"I like the squishy sound they make when I bore my tail through them!!" He roared as he aimed straight at Samus's stomach, knocking her to the wall, and dislodging the infant from her arms.
"Don't worry, "Mama"", Ridley smiled. "I'll take good care of this Metroid... just like I took good care of "Your" Mama!! Hahahahaha!!!" And he began to fly away.
Then, something unusual happened. Samus's eyes turned completely red, and her vision began to flash different colors, as her hands went into minor spasms. "D-d.. d... don't... Ri.. Rid... Ridley... Don't... youdare... don't..."
Ridley turned around, to see Samus having some sort of fit. "Huh?"
Samus's left hand clenched into a metal fist, and her now crimson retinas produced some bloodshot, black veins, as an unhealthy look of primal terror swept across her face, and green veins began to creep across her suit.
"d..d.d don't.. DON'T.. DON'T TOUCH MY CHILD!!!"
Samus screamed as loud as she could, her entire suit grotesquely mutating and fusing with her to form a hideous creature, larger than Ridley.
Ridley stared at Samus, and accidentally dropped the hatchling. "...I should go."
"RRHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHHLLLL!!!!" Samus grabbed Ridley by the talon and slammed him into the floor. Then, with her massive fist, she began pounding on his back, sending shockwaves across the floor, and shaking the entire room. A small part of Samus was still rationally aware of what was going on, but currently being drowned out by this primal instinct, a great fear of what she had just become, and how it happened.
When Samus finally calmed down, she realized that both Ridley and the hatchling were now literally as flat as pancakes. A certain sense of pity and horror swept over her, as she wept for both of them.
"I'm sorry..." she cried out... "I don't know what's happening to me... I'm a horrible mother, and a terrifying person..."
Samus sat in the cold dark room, mourning the flat shapes of a dragon and a metroid...
"Hey... Samus.... wake up..."
Samus opened her eyes, to find the front gate of Altim tower staring at her. Max was shaking her and pulling on her arm. "We're here!! It's time to go!!"
"Oh..." Samus spoke, shaking the sleepy out of her head. "Right... let's go in..."
Ridley's Last Stand
Ch. 5: Oh here he is
A giant bird flapped its way toward Max, Radd, and Link, screeching and bearing its talons. It bore a colorful crest on its head, red surrounding its eyes, and its hooked beak opened widely to snap at them. Link was almost blown off the platform by the massive gusts the wings created.
"GYYAYAYAYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHH!!!!" Link's eyes went wide as he saw the sky below him, and a gorgeous but terrifying view of the ground below. Max grabbed his wrist and pulled him back up to safety in the nest. The three of them shuffled around the circular nest, trying to avoid the huge bird, hiding behind her eggs and splitting up. Sometimes Max and Link would be on one side, Radd the other. Radd would occasionally call attention away from Max while Max tried to summon Hunter-II immediately.
"Hey Max!!" Link shouted, "Dontcha think we could take this bird? I mean sure its bigger than us but since when's that ever stopped me? :D"
Max dragged Link out of the way of the bird as it dive-bombed them. "Normally...", Max shouted, "I'd take you up on that!!" Max hit the floor of the nest just as the bird swooped over. Radd was climbing on the bird's back. "But this bird's just pissed. Besides, who's gonna take care of the babies? You?"
Link shrugged with a grin. "I could teach em to fly!!"
Max looked over a ways and his jaw dropped in horror: Radd had fallen off the bird's back. "Dammit!! Where is that ship!? No time to wait around... Link, we need to jump!!"
Link looked at Max with concern "But Max, we don't even have Paraachhuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuttteeeeesss!!!!"
It was too late: Max had dragged Link off the nest and they were now in freefall!
Max said nothing, holding onto Link as the two of the tilted toward Radd. "Radd!!" Max finally shouted. "Get over here!!"
Radd nodded and soared toward Max. "What do we do next?? Try and land inside of Hunter-II while its going at just the right speed so we don't splat inside it?"
Max nodded. "Yeah... " ...then, he looked at Radd confused. "Wait what do you mean just the right speed?" Radd looked at Max in horror. Then Max looked at Radd in horror. Then both of them looked at Link in horror. Then, all three of them started screaming while holding each other in the long drop.
"Maaaxxx!!! I thought you knew what you were doooiiinnnggg!!!!"
"Yeah!!!", Max shouted. "Meee toooooooo!!!"
As they began to near a passing cloud, a golden craft pierced it in ascent.
===Terminal Velocity has been clocked at levels unfit for boarding. Deploying G diffusion blast now. 3... 2... 1... Fire==
From the open door of the Hunter-II, a massive gust of energy burst forward, engulfing the three of them. As it hit, they quickly slowed down and their kinetic energy dissipated outward, parting the clouds around them. Then, they fell into the hatch, on top of each other. Immediately, the hatch closed and the craft took off.
All was quiet inside the ship for several seconds, until Rad gently hummed the silence theme from the original Metroid. "Beeep... beeeep... beeeep... beeeep...."
Link joined in with the background noise. "rutabaga rutabaga... rutabaga rutabaga... rutabaga rutabaga..."
Max was between both of them, getting stereo sound. "... ... I... ...you guys are weird. Really."
Link grinned. "Aw come on Max!! It's fun!!"
Max shook his head. "First I got some questions for you. Like what you were doing up in that nest? You know there's been a kidnapping alert put out for you!!??"
Link's eyes widened. "There was?"
"WHY DID YOU CALL US OR SOMETHING!?"
Link slinked back a little. "Gee, I... I didn't think it'd be that big a deal... I used to go off on quests like that all the time, nobody got upset..."
"Link its not totally your fault", Radd mentioned. "We got a transmission where you told us you'd been kidnapped by Ridley, so we wanted to check, and.. here you are safe and sound... well, almost bird food, but relatively safe and sound..."
Max nodded. "...which means we gotta go back up to that black meteor and find Samus...", he said, eyeing the ship's console. "...eh?"
Something was on the console that he'd never seen before. It was an icon shaped like an envelope. "Huh, guess we've got a message... ...uh, Open message?"
A screen lit up on the dashboard with Kevin's face on it. He looked oddly stern.
"Max!! If you're piloting this ship, get back to Altim Tower immediately!!! This is an order!"
Link looked at Max with worry. "Ooooohh... they sound pissed."
Max stared awkwardly. "What for? What did we do?"
Link shrugged. "Better get back there anyway and find out, you know?" Max nodded, and the craft took off into the horizon.
...Samus woke up.
She was still in her ball form, but her consciousness had come back about. She studied her immediate senses. Still in the duct, all was quiet, aside from a gentle hum. Assumedly, Ridley had no idea where she was, and perhaps it would stay that way, for as long as she could remain in them.
Unfortunately, she could not call for help while she was a ball, as her suit had essentially fused itself into a completely different shape. It was programmed to restore completely, back and forth between two forms, and the distress call was a component of the suit form's circuitry.
What to do? Find a nice room to roll into, turn to normal, and try letting out a call? Or play it safe until Max arrived on the scene, and they'd figure out what to do with the clones together? Samus knew she couldn't take another fight with Ridley, and her suit needed more time to recharge... She could run from Ridley, but she couldn't fight. She'd exhausted her missile and super missile supply, power bombs had proven in the past to be not much help against the dragon, and the beam might just bounce off. Could she muster a screw attack? Possibly?
Samus, against her better judgement, started rolling down the ventilation, into the darkness. She didn't care where she was going, as long as it was...somewhere. Somewhere confined. A part of her felt like it would be much safer in some confined space where Ridley either couldn't reach her or would be too far away to notice. Following the vents, which rumbled gently as she rolled through them, she finally located a good spot, and with the blast of a bomb, opened the hatch and rolled out, transforming back to normal.
Sighing heavily, Samus observed the room. It was not confined at all. In fact, it looked like another cargo hold. Crate blocks the size of buildings stretched across the room, as rafters and lights hung overhead. She almost opened the panel on her cannon to call for help, when she heard voices...
"Alright, warriors, I've got some good news for you!"
Samus silently slipped behind a stack of crates and listened closer to what was being said, to a group of pirate troopers.
"I know a lot of you have been wanted to shoot at stuff for awhile now, and you've been afraid of getting your heads blasted off, right?"
The Pirate commander nodded. "Well, you're a bunch of pussies if you ask me. All of you. But that's beside the point. Ridley's been getting tired of dealing with Max, AND Samus, AND all those other folks that keep us real leaders away..."
The Pirate commander seemed to hate his job. "...so, once this meteor finally approaches Gaian orbit, he will be deploying all 399 of his clones down upon the planet at once.
Samus could only gasp. This is what Ridley meant. "No!!"
Everyone turned around to look at her.
"Oh.. crap... uh... uuuuhhh... ....BOO!!!" She shouted, pointing her gun at them. The Pirates let out a high shriek, and went running as fast as possible from the hunter. "hehehehe", Samus giggled to herself "That went better than I thought it would..."
...she did not notice the shadow of a dragon looming down upon her.
Ridley's Last Stand
Ch 6: Fall from grace
Bright green exhaust pumped out the back of Hunter-II as it hurtled toward altim tower, a red outline image of the tower blinking on the display map.
"Hey Max..." Link spoke, "Kevin looked pretty mad... maybe we oughta go in with you? You know, make sure he doesn't try anything?"
Max stared at Link. "Like what?? Guys, its Kevin, not Giygas. He's probably just got some new intel or something, and its probably just bad news... ...I hope... "
Max sighed, as the craft landed on a familiar concrete platform. "...I really hope..."
As Max exited the craft, guards opened the doors, looking at him with pity. "Hey man... good luck in there", one told him as he entered. This did nothing to bolster Max's self esteem as he made the longest trip to the throne room, and entered, to find Kevin and Lana.
"Ah, there you are! Good, good..."
Max sighed. Guess he didn't do anything wrong. "You sounded upset in the message. What's up?"
Kevin shifted his weight to one side of his seat. "Oh, that... well, that's kind of why you're here, tiger... uh... hmm... what did you do with Samus?"
Max was confused for a moment, then realized what he was talking about. "Oh, well, numbnuts here got sick in outer space, so Samus had to go it alone. Plus, the landing pad for that meteor was outside, and we only had two spacesuits..."
Kevin continued. "Okay, but... ...where's Samus, Max?"
Max answered. "Samus told me and Radd to go and see if maybe it was a hoax, maybe Link was still on Gaia... which he was. We actually just found him..." Link poked his head up and waved, nervously.
Kevin sighed, "But *where* is Samus!?"
Max threw his hands up. "She's still there at the meteor! She's the only one equipped for it, and while we were looking down here, she was looking up there! We were about to go get her when we got your message..."
Kevin nodded, uncomfortably. "...I see... CORPORAL!"
A soldier dressed entirely in white, with gold pins and badges approached. "Sir!"
"Samus Aran is still at the coordinates we received. Take your best men, biggest guns, and find her. Bring her back. Take care not to encounter Ridley, but IF YOU DO, you are *not* to engage unless absolutely necessary. That is an order!"
The soldier nodded with urgency, and quickly left the room. Kevin watched, and sighed with worry. "Alright... so you guys found Link at the least... that's good.", then Kevin looked right at the elf. "Don't go anywhere."
Link shrugged. "We're not in trouble are we?" Max brought his palm to his face, wishing Link hadn't asked.
Kevin brought his hands together, locking the fingers. "You left Samus up there with over 300 clones of Ridley. At what point, Max, did this seem like a good idea?"
Max stuttered. "M-me!? I didn't have a choice! Like I said, the entrance was outside, only one extra suit, and Radd was throwin up!"
"I was not!! Why can't you take responsibility for your own neglect?"
"Shut it, Radd, this is not the time!!"
Kevin had heard enough. "QUIET!! Now... Radd, since Max has told me his side..."
Radd nodded. "It was Max who insisted Samus go on alone. Then he took me and we went looking for Link, but we didn't ask about him at Beanbean airport, noooOOOOOOoooo. We went to Hyrule Castle, which of course we wasn't at, then we went looking in the Mushroom Kingdom, where Max took us up in the clouds without so much as a trampoline, or a parachute, or a small glass of water to land in..."
Max was clenching a fist.
"...The problem with Max is, he's impulsive and not totally ambitious. Typical college student..."
"Hey!! None of this would have happened if you hadn't insisted on getting in my way!!"
Lana shut them up. "As I recall, it was me who ordered your evaluation by Radd..."
Max stopped, and all fell silent as he turned to Lana. "You... ...what!?"
Lana continued. "Radd had taken such an interest in your practice, I decided to have him tag along and evaluate you. Of course I couldn't have Samus doing this, since she's technically not your supervisor anymore, but after Mario told us about an engaging conversation he had with Radd..."
"Radd would like to unite Gaia and Earth and stop the feuding, particularly with the Nintendo company. Naturally, we'd be thrilled to stop *any* war with such ease, so we decided to employ him as a sort of "Junior game master", until we determined he was ready to represent us..."
"That's not right!!!" Max shouted.
"Maxwell Patrick Walker, you are protesting against an end to a war!!"
"No I am not!! Robert Phillips Walker here *QUIT* Nintendo! He told me himself!!"
Radd grinned and shrugged. "I have no idea what he's talking about, your majesty. While I'm sure Max has done a great job in the past, as soon as the possibility of a rival enters the scene, he is completely unfit to operate, and, well... don't worry Max..."
Max gritted his teeth, his heart was racing, and blood crawled through every square inch of his body.
"...I'm sure Samus will be perfectly safe with me."
...And then, Max snapped. He jerked forward, and slammed his fist into Radd's face as hard as he could, breaking Radd's sunglasses and nose. "MOTHER FUCKER!!! GET OUT OF THIS TOWER!!! YOU LIE TO ME, PRETENDING TO BE MY FRIEND, MY BROTHER... YOU'RE JUST A CONNIVING ASSHOLE TRYING TO WORM YOUR WAY UP!!!"
Lana stood up immediately. "Maxwell Walker, stand down now!!"
Max looked right at Lana, while holding Radd in a headlock. "Lana, listen to me!! You can't let Radd take over!! He doesn't care about peace, he just-"
"SHE SAID STAND DOWN!!!" , and with that, Kevin pointed his zapper at Max. The room fell silent. Shaking, Max slowly let go of Radd, his hands in the air, backing off. After several awkward seconds...
"...uhh, can I be excused to go to the bathroom?"
Kevin looked over at Link. "Yeah. Get out of here Link."
Link nodded and ran off. Max and Radd remained.
Worriedly, Max mumbled something. "What are you going to do to me?"
Kevin's lips parted momentarily at this response. It wasn't a taunt, so much as honest concern. Max was aware of just how much trouble he was in now, and when the words reached Kevin's ears, he didn't really know how to react.
Lana sat back down, and ordered Radd out of the room. Before leaving, Radd made a snide gesture toward Max.
"Max..." Lana began, "...I don't know what you have turned into. You used to be... you used to be like this... knight, that the whole court admired. Then... your trip to Earth... it's not just Radd... something about it changed you..."
Max looked up. "L-lana... I'm sorry, I didn't mean to lose it like that... I just... it wasn't... my home... and now... ...I don't know where home is anymore..."
Kevin nodded. "We'll discuss the full conditions of your punishment when Samus returns, Max. For now, just... let's get out of this room, huh? It smells like blood..."
"We're gonna try and avoid running into Radd..."
Max, Lana, and Kevin joined up with Link again in an adjacent ballroom, where the four of them turned on a movie and had a snack. Max appreciated the patience of the queen, but felt like shit. Plus, Samus was still up there...
"Hey, Kevin... I still have the Hunter-II... shouldn't I... you know... go after her myself?"
Kevin looked to Max, and thought long and hard about how to answer. "N-no... you just stay here, Max. We'll take care of it."
"Well, okay...", Max shrugged, "It's just... As Captain N, I don't right ignoring her..."
"It's okay, Max..." Kevin shrugged, "...you're not Captain N anymore. Don't worry about it."
...Max dropped his spoon. "J-just like that!?"
Kevin nodded. "It's the evaluation, primarily... to be honest, we didn't expect you to fail at all. We *liked* the way you did things! You were one of them, not some cop in a badge... besides that, you were creative, really creative..."
Max was surprised to learn this. "You all don't think of me as some irresponsible kid?"
Kevin shook his head. "We don't. But... When you're being evaluated and you end up committing violence in the throne room... ...there's really no other way to respond to that. I'm sorry, Max... ...you can still live on the planet... we can give you that much, at least."
Max sighed, burying his head in his arms. It was over. Bowser was right. One way or another... Max was out.
"Listen...", Kevin told him, "If you want, you can take Hunter-II back to your house... we'll take Samus to be with you, ourselves..."
"Oh god... what am I gonna tell her?"
Kevin had no answer for him. "I don't know, Max... you're on your own, there... anyways... I'm going to be needing your equipment."
Max felt his heart drop as he undid his belt, and handed it, Zapper and all, to Kevin. "Are you sure there isn't some other way?"
"Max...", Kevin pleaded, "I really wish there was... because I have no damn idea who is going to replace you..."
"Can't you do it? You've done it before..."
Kevin shook his head. "No... not anymore."
"Fine... let Radd."
Kevin tilted his head. "Are you sure?"
Max shrugged. "Of course not!! But isn't he the next most qualified person?"
Kevin nodded. "I suppose so... ...listen... you should get out of here... no reason you need to have him gloating in your face, right?"
Max agreed. "right. Well...", he said, standing up, "It's been a pleasure, Kevin. I'm sorry it ended like this... Lana... you know I think you're a great person and all... so... I hope you can forgive me for all this..."
Lana held Max in her arms, holding back a tear. "Believe me... ...I have. I'm sorry Max..."
Link shook Max's hand. "Does this mean we can't hang out anymore??"
Lana butted in. "Oh, nooo, nooo... You two can hang out as much as you want!! We wouldn't take that from you."
"Oh...", Link said, scratching the back of his head. "Okay... I guess I'll be by as soon as Samus gets back, then... see you later, Max..."
Max nodded, and briskly left the tower. Coldly, he directed the craft to his house, fired up the engines... ...and sat on the floor, breaking down.
"One of these days", Max could recall Bowser saying. "One of these days..."
The sun was bright in Applejack when Mega Man was taking his walk around town. In front of some woods was Tabby's house, where he and Tank could be seen discussing something or the other. "Hopefully not another argument over a shirt", Mega Man hoped... "People in this town sure are shallow... ...course, they're animals, but still..."
As the robot crossed the bridge back toward his house, he could see Hunter-II descending, slowly. "Ah", he thought, "That would be Max and Samus Aran! Good to see them home..." Cheerfully, the robot approached the house, and the craft, waiting for the door to open, and its occupants to emerge...
...but nobody did.
"Hmm, that's odd...", Mega Man spoke. "Samus? Are you in there? Maaaxx??" No response. Nodding, Megaman attempted an override of the lock on the hatch, only to find that the hatch was actually unlocked the entire time. "That's very odd", he said to himself, "Samus wouldn't normally do that..."
Mega Man jumped into the craft, his boots making a d-dink! sound. Max's head was turned away, but he instantly knew who entered. "Oh...", he said, looking like he just woke up. "Hey, Rock..."
"Hey, Max!!" Rock chirped. "Where's Samus at?"
Max sighed and shook his head, burying it in his arms. "Doing hero stuff..."
Rock's expression faded. "...and you appear not to be... I think we should go inside the house..."
"Oh, Max...", Mega Man spoke, holding Max's head like a child. "Max, I'm so sorry to hear that..." Max would have said something about this awkward situation if he even cared.
"Well," Max sighed, "They're sending a party up to go and find her... I still have to explain what happened to her, though... she'll never forgive me... will she, Rock?"
Megaman shook his head. "I don't know about that. She's not exactly been... straight... herself. Take into consideration that the Galactic Federation considers her a criminal. What does the house of Altim Tower consider you?"
"Me?", Max blinked. "I dunno... an old friend?"
"Yeah... that sounds a lot worse. Listen, Max... tell you what... I'm gonna bake you something, just cause it looks like you need it. When Samus finds out... ...I'll do whatever I can to help, okay?"
Max silently nodded and sat at the table, looking lost...
Meanwhile, things on Altim Tower had gone from bad to worse.
"Radd," Lana stated, "Though these weapons may look like familiar controllers..."
"I know, I know, they're deadly weapons. I won't shoot anyone that's not bad, ok?"
Lana sighed... she didn't like his tone, but they were desperate. "Just try not to get killed."
Then, out of breath, Kevin came up to the arms room. "Lana!! Radd!!! Meeting room, ASAP!!"
"What's going on, Kevin?," Lana asked inquisitively.
"It's Ridley", Kevin spoke. "He has Samus."
Samus was on the ground, pained, suitless, and amidst several dead soldiers in bloodstained white clothes. Ridley dominantly gloated in front of the camera.
"Lookie who I got!! And lookie what she's not wearing!!"
"I don't understand...", Lana spoke. "How did you get her out of her suit?"
Ridley rolled his eyes and smiled like Link. "Oh, well... you know... I had a few friends help me." On cue, an exact duplicate of Ridley walked in front of the camera and waved.
...followed by a few more. some were purple, some were black... others were brown.
"Hey is this thing on?"
"Looks like we're on TV!!"
"You all look so much smaller on a screen!"
...Needless to say, even Radd was a bit concerned when several Ridleys began swarming around Samus Aran.
"My god...", Kevin hammed.
"Oh, you like this?", Ridley sneered. "There won't be many spares left after my plan is carried out... ...actually, there won't be any spares left at all... but that's okay, because as soon as we take back Gaia, we'll get back to cooking up our own extra lives..."
"You're an idiot..." Radd remarked. "What if all of you get killed?"
Ridley stopped, and looked in the screen. "...who's that?"
Radd piped up. "Name's Radd Walker, and I'm gonna kick your ass, bitch!"
Ridley grinned, and started laughing. "Oh my god!! Are you related to Max!? hahahahahaha... Man, where is he?? He still owes me for blowing me open waaay back..."
Radd stopped laughing. "Hey, shut up!! I could do that too, you know..."
Ridley sighed and waved him off. "Sure you could, kid. Now listen up, all of you. This meteor will be floating into the orbit of your little blue planet in the next few hours... If you ever want to see your bounty hunter alive, you must surrender unto me the house of Altim Tower, and all the power that you possess... ...also... one other thing..."
Kevin humored Ridley for an answer. "Go on..."
Ridley pointed directly at Kevin.. particularly his waist. "I want your gun."
Kevin blinked. "My... my gun?" Looking down, Kevin saw the familiar orange zapper sitting in a holster. loaded into this one's core was a "D" beam, capable of completely disintegrating targets from existence, turning them into white light, which vanished just as quickly.
"Yes, that one!!", Ridley growled. "We wanna do some... experiments with it..."
Kevin could see it now... turquoise-colored pirates, shooting blasts off and erasing everything in their path. There was no way they could let it happen.
"I'm still waiting, here!!"
Kevin looked to Lana. Lana smiled, and nodded. With that said, Kevin looked back at Ridley. "can't we discuss this when you get here?"
"Fine, fine..." Ridley groaned. "We'll just move faster to get there. Ta-ta, Captain N..." and with that, the image faded out.
All was silent in the room, while Kevin fiddled with his zapper, mumbling obscenities.
"Kevin?" Lana asked. "What are you doing?"
Kevin grumbled. "Fucking cocksuck kills all my men, and wants the D beam? He can have it..." he spoke, removing said core from his zapper. "I've got an idea here that might just get rid of him forever...
"Alright", Kevin began, gesturing toward an image of Samus Aran and her power suit. "As we all know, Samus's suit has lost all power. Ridley has removed it from her. However, she should be able to use it again with an adequate charge of energy, such as an E-tank, or one of the federation class tanks she's been known to carry..."
"So?" Radd spoke up, "What about the other Ridley clones? How's one energy tank going to help her take them all out?"
"Glad you asked, Radd," Kevin responded. "As a Game Master, I'm sure you are well aware that when she activates the power bombs, the charge beam, and one other beam, the bombs get infused with a heavily amplified version of that beam..."
"Oh yeah", Radd remarked. "The old Power Bomb combos from Super Metroid..."
Kevin continued. "It's never been tested before, but if she were to use my D beam in this attack..."
Lana nodded. "It would likely destroy the entire meteor, without any risk of fallout on this planet."
"Precisely", Kevin noted. "The biggest problem is that we really need Samus to even figure out the rest of this, including how much time we're going to have until that power bomb explodes... ..and it doesn't look like the platoon is coming back..."
"So? Who's going?" Lana inquired.
Kevin sighed, and looked at his gun. ".... ...I'll go. It's the only way."
"Ooooohh... then take Link with you at the least... ...wherever he is..."
Kevin looked around. Sure enough, Link had gone missing again.
"....son of a bitch!!"
Radd offered to go instead, but Kevin insisted he stay. With a sigh, Kevin grabbed his stuff, kissed Lana, and assured her he would return. Then, with that, he was off to the hangar.
"Good luck, Kevin..."
Max, depressed, sat at the couch, eating brownies and watching TV. "Max...", Megaman told him, "I know you're upset, but surely there's something better you can do than sit around just watching the world fall apart around you!"
Max nodded, and grumbled. "But there is nothing I can do. I mean, what? I'm not Captain N anymore..."
Megaman shrugged. "Not officially..."
Max repeated his words. "Not officially, but for all I know, I could get busted for *trying* to be Captain N! All I can do now is watch everything unfold from right here..."
Megaman left the room, shaking his head. Frustrated, Max rapidly flipped through channels on his television, until the signal went out, and all he could get was fuzz. "Hey!!" Max screamed. "Rock, have you been messing with the cable again?"
Soon, the picture came back, crystal clear even... but the faces Max saw on it were not of Lakitu Brown and Paul Piranha. They were of Samus Aran and Ridley.
Several of him.
"Hey, is this Max's house?", Ridley chuckled. "Did I find Max's house?"
Max's jaw dropped.
"Yeah, well anyway, I tried to reach you over at the tower but apparently you're out sick or something. So I'm just gonna inform you right now, Samus came over here to my meteor, when I explicitly asked for both of you. Now, I know I kind of lied about Link..."
"this is your fault too...", Max grumbled.
"...but Samus didn't do so hot around about 300 Ridleys at once! Neither did any of those guys they sent to save her!! So, here's a proposition: One last fight: You and me together. No Magus, no bullshit, no nothing. One last chance to save your petty girlfriend and get out of here before I turn Gaia into the next Zebes! ...If you've got the balls. Ta-ta!!"
...And with that, the image returned to that of the News.
"Oh god...", Max spoke, shaking his head in doubt. "What am I going to do?? What am I going to do? I can't go up there after her!! I mean, how am I gonna take him on without a zapper?"
"Well," Megaman shrugged, "Let's look at it: You've got a ship, you've got a space suit... You've got the bare minimum for getting her out at the least. Even if you can't fight him... you could still save the girl. What else have you got to lose?"
Max stared at the TV screen. All over the news was reports of the strange black meteor being seen in the sky, coming closer and closer. Nobody knew what it was, and Altim wasn't gonna broadcast it to all these happy people just yet.
".... ...absolutely nothing."
Max repeated himself. "I've got nothing to lose. Rock, keep the place lookin nice for me. I'm going to go get Samus."
...and with that, Max stepped out the door, and back into Hunter-II, completely unarmed.
"Did Max ever actually say that?" Radd asked.
"I don't believe so", Damara spoke. "It's just something I came up with that I think captures what he was about."
Radd scratched the back of his head. "It's... it's nice. It's a really nice thing you did for him..."
Damara sighed. "I may not like the way Lana runs things here... but I think Max had a good heart... just... misled by Samus... "
"What's your problem with her anyway?"
Damara sighed and shook her head. "Same problem I have with Lana.... I can't get inside her mind... not that it matters anymore. Samus will sit in prison, Gaia will be under our jurisdiction, and you my friend will be... The New Captain N.
"Right..." Radd mumbled. "...me."
The sun broke the clouds throughout the day, painting a dazzling, cavernous image in the sky as beams of light cascaded down cliffs of clouds and illuminated the land. the grass at that little hill was blowing back and forth, as the statue was set up by the Mario Brothers. "See you around, Max..." Mario sighed.
Pit looked on, worriedly. "I haven't seen Max at my home, yet. I'm worried about that."
Luigi shook the angel's hand. "When ya do... tell him we miss him, okay?"
Pit shook his hand, and nodded. For some reason, he couldn't help but feel like the reaper in all of this. It was a sensation that bothered him until he could bear it no more, and had to leave. Nobody questioned his sudden departure, though. The plumbers even told him to do whatever he needed for his own health. When he did finally fly away, he looked back in shame for a moment, before returning to the clouds.
"Max will not be arriving here... ...and I don't know why."
Damara watched Pit fly away with annoyance. "I don't like anyone having power over me... I am *so* glad Keaton is so old..."
...that was when her phone rang. "Yeah", Damara spoke. "Who is it?"
"K-Sir?? Yes, it is me sir. I'm at the funeral for "their" Game Master. Ridley's entire clone supply that we know of was destroyed along with him, so I..."
"Yes, sir!! Gaia is ours now. No longer do we have to put up with Lana's archaic treaties."
"I'm sorry, what was that?"
"Drop it?? I can't drop it!! I just got Lana to give it up, and you want me to drop it!? But Sir!! Yes, I reali- But I-... Keato-... You can't be serious!! Can't I at lea- ... ..."
Damara nodded, grimly. "Okay sir. I understand. I'll be back immediately."
Radd looked at her. "What's wrong?"
Angrily, Damara left the procession, without a word. Radd followed after her, calling out her name, as she stepped onto a GSL shuttle and screamed at the pilot to take off, even though he protested that they'd be leaving a whole squadron there.
"Damara, wait!!" Radd screamed from below. "Aren't you going to at least tell me what's going on?"
Damara sighed. "Sorry kid. But there's still someone with more authority out there than even I have. I can't help you. Goodbye, Radd..."
...and with that, she took off.
Samus arrived back at Peach's castle, emotionally and mentally exhausted. People were cautious to go near her, and Samus knew it. She didn't care though... she just... needed... Peach...
"Please", she spoke, looking like she'd just been through hell. "P-peach.. is she there?"
The two little guards looked at each other and Samus. "You're not, uh... gonna suck on her head are you?"
Peach opened the door herself. "It's okay everyone... let her in..."
Over the next several hours, Samus sobbed into Peach's arms. It wasn't just Max, it was... everything. A part of her just wanted to cry because a heavy burden had finally been lifted from her, with the death of Ridley. Another part of her wanted to let out all of her frustrations with the federation. Yet, another part wanted to remember all of those lost loved ones... her parents, Virginia and Rodney Aran. Old Bird. Gray Voice. Her child, the Hatchling Metroid... ...and... Max. Poor Max...
That night, Peach and the plumbers to Samus to where the statue had been erected. Some warm comfort came from the stars above, and the lights from nearby houses.. but all Samus could do was hold the statue... run her hand across its face... ...and rest her head against its chest.
"I think the decision is unanimous...", Luigi said, completely monotone, "...that you will be living with us for quite some time, Samus. We can't let you out there on your own."
Samus just stared at the statue, exhausted. "Alright. Do whatever... I don't care anymore..."
And with that, the four of them walked away, leaving the statue there in the dark, like a bright beacon to all travelers and adventurers. The statue stood, zapper raised to the sky, the stars... toward infinity... and in a way... Max was never truly gone.
The New Captain N:
Ridley's Last Stand
...meanwhile, in a very, very different place...
Max's mother sighed, folding shirts on a bed. "Robert, do you think any of these would fit you? I know you're not the same size as Max, but..."
"Why don't you just hang on to them?" Robert pleaded. "He might reappear some day."
Max's mother sat down for a moment... ...it was becoming too much to bear, losing a son... especially when you didn't even really know whatever became of him.
Robert couldn't believe it. Max made so much hooplah about the TV being a portal, after Madeline warned that it took her son... and true to form, so it took Max. Robert had gotten his degree now in electronics repair, but dared not go near that television. It now sat in his basement, gathering dust. At the same time though, this secret was becoming too much for Robert to bear either.
Robert felt his heart sink, as Max's mother pulled out a box, full of Max's videogames and consoles. "Robert, are you sure you don't want these? They belonged to Max, and..."
Robert stopped her. "Can you hang on to them for just a bit longer? There's... something I need to check on."
Mom just nodded, silently. As Radd hopped into his car outside, she grabbed Max's shirt and just burst into tears, holding it.
Robert arrived back at home, where he kept the infernal device. Taking a deep breath, he boldly walked down, into the basement, and pulled away a curtain walling off the TV from the rest of the place.
Robert stared at it for several seconds, blankly... then immediately started walking upstairs... his walk broke into a run, and his breath grew heavy. Immediately, he called Mrs Walker.
"Mrs. Walker??? Are you there?" Robert nearly screamed. "It's Robert. Get over here, right away!!!"
There was a body in front of the old TV.
It was wearing black sneakers, Jeans, and had on a T-shirt of an NES controller.
...and it was moving.
T O B E C O N T I N U E D