This piece is a fan piece based off of Sarah Almeda’s “Valentroid” OC ship. Everyone should take a look at her art and go check out the #valentroid ship hashtag, because its wonderfully wonderfully adorable.
— sarah almeda (@shmu_h) May 14, 2017
“Sir, I really, really don’t think we should be flying this speed through a populated sector!”
Valentina was screaming much louder than she was usually comfortable with, so loud was the roar of the Gunship’s fusion engines as they struggled to maintain pace without slipping into warp speed. Even still, Samus didn’t respond. About an hour previously, Samus had burst into a flurry of action following an incoming transmission. They’d both been sleeping, finally enjoying a few days of rest after the successful completion of their last mission, a particularly taxing hunt for a notorious weapons smuggler. Normally, Valentina would handle incoming transmissions, but this one was sealed with a private code. She’d been embarrassed to have to wake Samus. Technically, she could have auto-signed the message since Samus had never calibrated the ships systems to have more than one user, but…that just didn’t feel right to her.
“Sir, at the very least can I at least broadcast emergency warnings ahead of us?”
Samus’ tone was firm but not cruel. Valentina usually chalked that up to her being unused to cooperative work. She’d thoroughly studied all Federation assigned briefings on Samus Aran long before she’d stepped onto the Gunship, so she knew it had been some time since Samus had worked with anyone, let alone anyone less experienced than herself. Nonetheless, Samus’ refusal to obey system law was wracking her with anxiety. At this speed, collision would be disastrous.
“Sit down, Cadet. I can’t have you splitting your head if I engage evasive maneuvers.”
Cadet Valentina laughed nervously, quickly sitting down into the empty jumpseat at the back of the cockpit that served as her “station.” She had broken into a cold sweat. Something about Samus’ body language was setting off all her alarm bells. Admittedly, Valentina tended to get panicky when Samus threw Federation law to the wind, but something was different here, she felt. While it was normal for Samus to act quickly when need arose, she tended to have a casual confidence about her, a sort of distance from the danger and stress. This was different, Samus seemed scared. She had even started priming her power suit.
Samus seemed to live in her “Zero Suit,” a powered polymer jumpsuit that gave her base-level protection and allowed her to more quickly don her power suit when the time came. Valentina had only seen her outside of it once, in a particularly embarrassing event that had earned her a full day of cold shoulder. To note that event was the only other time since Valentina had been assigned to Samus that she’d seen any real cracks in the bounty hunter’s confidence. The look on Samus’ face when Valentina had accidentally triggered the bunkroom door release while attempting a repair on the electrical systems was one of…self-consciousness? Valentina, after crying out in embarrassment and shame, realized that Samus probably hadn’t liked anyone seeing her scars and power suit implants. Valentina’s reaction in retrospect was that the scars and augmentations were endearing and somewhat attractive. She concluded it was somewhat disrespectful to Samus’ experiences to feel that way though. Right?
Valentina sighed. If she couldn’t convince Samus to slow the ship, the least she could do was ease the workload. She flipped open her wrist computer, scanning her print to engage the Gunship’s sensor systems. Simultaneously, she initiated preparation processes for her own armor suit – a Federation issued power-assisted recon suit. Her armor loadout was considerably less powerful or flexible than Samus’, but it could absorb a few good hits, and was equipped with both active camouflage and physical enhancement modules.
“Sir, we are approaching a major trade route. At our current sub-light speed we will cross paths in approximately 30 seconds. I recommend giving the route a wide berth.”
Samus looked over her shoulder, squinting, and then nodded, adjusting their flight path smoothly.
“Thank you, Cadet. I trust you’ll be taking over controls of the scanners from here on?”
“You got it, Sir. No offense, but you’re a better pilot than you are a navigator!”
Valentina laughed more nervously than she intended. She didn’t often poke at Samus because, frankly, she was afraid to displease her. Not only was this assignment incredibly important to her career within the Federation, but she’d come to look up to the bounty hunter as a sort of mentor. After a joke like that, it took everything in her to speak up again.
“Sir, I’m going to have to know where we’re going to best navigate us safely. Apologies if that’s out of line.”
Samus was silent for a few seconds, which stretched out long enough to make Valentina worried.
“…Not at all Cadet. Clear the course for Ceres Space Colony.”
“Ceres? I can get us there.”
But Valentina’s curiosity was piqued.
“That’s…backwater. Nothing but pencil pushers and researchers, if I’m remembering correctly. What’s the rush to get out there, sir?”
Samus furrowed her brow, looking sterner even than before.
“Ceres reported a serious attack.”
Valentina knew that couldn’t have been everything. If it was a major attack, the Federation would have dispatched marines. There’s no way the Federation would take a risk sending a single operative…unless the threat was from a source Samus was uniquely equipped to dispatch.
As if reading her mind and knowing she had questions, Samus addressed the Cadet again.
“Reports of space pirates. Sightings of an old enemy of mine. Federation thinks they’re after the baby…”
Valentina choked. Her heart was suddenly rushing, and fear crept up her spine. Oddly enough, it wasn’t the pirates that were on her mind.
“You have a BABY?!”
Samus spun around, her expression twisted in fury. Her cheeks were glowing red.
“What? NO! The baby Metroid! Surely the Federation briefed you on it.”
Valentina was speechless. She simply shook her head, wide-eyed. Suddenly, the short-range sensors screamed. She pointed out the cockpit windows.
There was a loud crash as a truck-sized asteroid smashed into the forward shielding.
“Damn it!” Samus swore.
“No major damage, sir! Forward shields took it in stride…I’m glad we went for that tune up…”
Samus had returned to her silent focus, whipping her head back forward so quickly that her ponytail slapped her in the face. Valentina couldn’t believe how frazzled they’d both become. She resolved to try to keep things business-only for the time being. She hadn’t expected the idea of Samus having a family she didn’t know of to hit her so hard.
Good thing it’s just a Metroid…
The absurdity of such a thought struck Valentina immediately. If there was anything that everyone knew about Samus Aran, it was that she’d destroyed the last of the Metroids on SR388. Nothing in her briefing talked about a baby Metroid whatsoever. Valentina wasn’t about to ask again at a time like this.
To her surprise, after almost a half-hour of uneventful, tense silence, it was Samus who broke it to speak.
“I found the baby…the Metroid…on SR388. It hatched just after I’d killed the hive queen. I believe it…imprinted on me. It seemed non-violent afterwards, and I determined it would be better use to the Federation alive than dead. I don’t hurt helpless beings.”
Valentina was floored. There was a living Metroid, being kept in secret from most of the Federation, and Samus was its mother. She almost wanted to smile. The first image to her mind was so ridiculous she had to stifle a laugh: Samus in her power suit gleefully playing with a tiny, cute Metroid baby. The next image to her mind, one of Samus tucking the little Metroid into bed with a blanket, was impossible to resist. She laughed slightly. Immediately praying that Samus wouldn’t hear. She did.
“What’s so funny, Cadet?”
Samus’ voice was laced with frustration.
“Nothing, sir! Was just choking on my own spit!”
“Don’t you lie to me, Cadet.”
Valentina winced. She had always been a terrible liar.
“Just the idea of…you being a mom to a weird alien is pretty…well it’s kinda funny to be quite honest, sir.”
Samus whipped back around again, this time completely spinning her captain’s chair.
“I am NOT her mom. And anyway, she’s not a ‘weird alien,’ she’s a larval form of one of the most dangerous weapons this galaxy has ever known. Metroids can suck the life right out of you, leave you colorless and too weak to breathe!”
Valentina regretted saying the word the moment it left her lips. She hadn’t been able to help herself from noticing the way Samus’ expression grew in excited intensity as she talked more about the baby.
“You have some nerve, Valentina.”
Samus stomped her food down and spun back to the controls, chewing her lip furiously. Valentina was shaking. She’d never seen Samus so unnerved, and the last time Samus had referred to her by her name and not her rank had been the door incident.
The sensor sirens lit up in Valentina’s ears again.
“Ah, sir? We’re approaching Ceres now.”
Samus huffed and didn’t respond. Valentina felt the odd sensation that came with entering the gravity influence of a planet. The artificial gravity generated by the ship pulled one way, but there was a light feeling of being pulled outward, towards the planet.
Samus slowed the Gunship as they rounded the inhospitable gas giant that Ceres Station orbited. They saw instantly that the call had not been in vain. Three large Space Pirate ships loomed about the station, weapons pointed inwards. There was a hull breach on one side of the station, and a series of cables tied one of the ships to the breach. Most terrifying, however, was the creature that soared from the ship into the breach as Samus glided the Gunship closer.
The creature was massive, at least three times the size of any human in height, and in length, much more. Its skin was a violet hue, somewhere between scaly and chitinous. Four claws and a spiked tail trailed behind it as its wide, clawed wings guided its body into the breach. Valentina was immediately reminded of mythological dragons, though she felt this being was much scarier. Mythological dragons didn’t attack space stations.
Samus engaged the Gunship’s stealth engine. The pirate vessels hadn’t seemed to pick the ship up yet.
“Cadet, I’m going to get in close and dock with the far side of the station. If we’re lucky, I’ll be able to do so without raising suspicion. Space Pirates sensor tech is nothing on Federation stealth. When we dock, I’m going to go on board, and I need you to stay here and communicate…”
“Oh no you don’t! I am NOT staying on the ship this time.”
Valentina was incredulous. She couldn’t believe Samus was trying to keep her out of the action yet again.
“Cadet, are you going to disobey a direct order from your serving captain?”
Fear welled up in Valentina’s throat, but she wasn’t about to yield just yet.
“Well you just broke about a thousand Federation laws, so I guess I can disobey one order and you’ll still owe me!”
Samus silently brought the ship to dock. The station immediately accepted her docking codes. None of the pirate vessels seemed to respond, and docking on the far side of the station had put them out of direct line of sight. If the sensors hadn’t picked up the Gunship, they were in the clear; there was almost no way a Space Pirate could have noticed the ship with its active camouflage engaged.
Once the ship was docked, Samus powered all external systems down. Only life support and the power suit bay remained engaged. Valentina was to her feet before Samus was. She rushed to the storage closet and started suiting up hastily. She heard Samus activate her power suit. There was a flash of light as the suit materialized around her, warped in from the suit bay by arcane Chozo tech. By the time Valentina was hopping out of the storage closet, fastening her boot, Samus had already donned her helmet and powered her arm cannon.
“I’m coming with you. Comms will reveal us to the enemy for sure.”
Valentina assumed a defiant stance, arms crossed and legs braced for action. She powered on her suit and her own helmet’s virtua-screen flickered to life. Her sidearm activated, and she drew it with lightning swiftness, ready for action.
“Very well, but stay close. This is not a standard engagement at all.”
Samus placed her hand on the dock keypad and the sound of heavy machinery filled the air around them. The blast door slid upward. Before them extended a hellish sight. Red emergency lights faded in and out, casting angry shadows down the long hallway from the rear dock. A wedge of light went forth from Samus’ visor, lighting the empty hallway. Samus motioned to the wall, and Valentina sidled up against it.
Before long they approached a bend in the hall. Samus, suspecting ambush, tore a piece of plastic paneling from the wall and tossed it around the bend. Nothing. She motioned to Valentina to follow behind her. Once around the bend, Samus increased her pace. Valentina could see past her down the hall. A doorway lay open, the door that belonged to it completely blown off the hinges. The door was lying towards them. Someone had checked this hallway already.
The two women proceeded forward cautiously. As they grew closer to the door, Valentina caught her breath. A grisly sight awaited them inside. Two citizens of the station lay slumped against the wall in the next room, clearly killed by plasma weaponry. Samus motioned for Valentina to take the other side of the door. As she checked down her side of the hallway, she saw a shadow stretch out in front of her. Before she could even catch her breath, Samus had rolled into the room and fired two shots from her arm cannon.
The twitching corpse of a space pirate grunt slammed against the wall paneling.
Valentina was on her feet, plasma pistol raised and ready. As she dashed into the room, plasma fire flew above her head. Two more pirate grunts had revealed themselves to the right, hiding behind upturned desks. Samus quickly dispatched of the closest target, while Valentina took aim at the further target. Her shot fell wide, but the pirate ducked and couldn’t take another shot. By the time he peered back out of cover, Samus was on him, slamming her cannon down on his head and knocking him out immediately. Valentina rushed to her side, pulling a device from one of her armor compartments. It was a Federation-issue suppression unit. She slapped it down onto the pirate’s armor, and it immediately issued a shock guaranteed to keep him out cold until they could properly make an arrest. The Federation always preferred arrests to lethal force, though it rarely worked out cleanly with space pirates.
Samus moved forward quickly, checking each doorway as they continued down the hall. She seemed to know where she was going. As they rounded another bend, they came up on the backs of two more pirates. Valentina took care of both of them with a heavy stun pulse from her pistol. Samus gave a quick nod, seemingly proud of her performance. For a brief moment, joy overcame the fear in Valentina’s heart.
Moments later, Samus slowed as they approached a larger door. Printed above the door in common block text were the words “Central Laboratory.” The door itself had been only partially opened, seemingly cut and bent with heavy power tools. When Valentina peered inside with Samus, the sight was the most horrifying yet. The bodies of scientists littered the floor. In the center of the chamber, a large containment unit was shattered open. A handful of pirates guarded the wall on the far side of the room, which had an enormous breach in it.
“He’s got her!”
It was always harder to read Samus when she was in her power suit, but somehow Valentina knew she was upset.
“Let’s go. I’ve got your back.”
Valentina readied her weapon; no stuns this time. Samus rolled into the room first, charging her weapon as she did. Valentina fired off a round, which found its mark in the rightmost guard. He crumpled to the floor. Samus loosed her charged round which crashed into two more of the guards, incapacitating them immediately. The other guard took aim at Samus and fired. Samus dodged left and the shot went clear. As the pirate struggled to realign his sights, Valentina was sprinting across the room. She fired three shots, the last of which blew the top off his plasma rifle. Two more shots at closer range dispatched the final guard. Samus quickly took position next to Valentina.
“If Ridley has the baby, I need to fight him. Can you hold this room and make sure more pirates don’t come in behind me?”
“Don’t you need help against him?”
“He’ll tear you apart. My power suit is the only thing that lets me stand a chance against him.”
This time, Valentina submitted to her request. Picking up one of the fallen pirate’s rifles, she dragged a couple of lab tables in front of her and upturned them, forming a makeshift bunker.
“Go get her.”
Samus nodded and disappeared into the dark behind. Seconds later, one of the other doors in the room tore open, and pirate grunts poured into the room. Valentina managed to dispatch three or four of them before they were able to get a foothold in the room. Two more pitched themselves through the door, rolling across the floor into cover. Her plasma fire crashed into lab equipment, finding no targets this time. Moments later, the pirates were firing rounds above her head.
She peered out of cover only momentarily and was immediately greeted with a volley of plasma fire. More pirates had joined the fray. Crawling across the ground, she moved to the other side of her table-wall and sprung up. She was much better with a rifle than a pistol, and before the pirates could adjust for her change in position, she had nailed two of them, and injured a third. A fourth, however, nearly hit her before she threw herself back to the floor.
Behind her, she heard a horrible roar, followed by a bone-rattling explosion. Tittering erupted from the space pirates. Rolling out of her cover from the side, she loosed a series of shots, taking down two more pirates. She dashed behind a solid panel of instruments. There were at least three more pirates in the room. Their tittering was increasing in intensity.
Another explosion behind her, then another. A bloodcurdling roar. Her earpiece crackled to life.
“Valentina! Be ready to run!”
A screeching alarm tore into the air around her, tearing at her ears. The station’s comm system was blaring a red alert. She peeked out of cover to see the pirates fleeing the room.
This is not good at all.
She stood and fired after them, catching just one of the pirates before they could escape. Suddenly, Samus came barreling back into the room. Her suit was blackened and splattered with blood.
Valentina did not hesitate, despite her mind screaming in fear for the blood on Samus’ armor. The two women crossed the room. Valencia’s vision was a blur. She was running, struggling to remember the route back. Somehow, her instincts seemed to guide her rightly. She could just see the blast door leading back to the ship. She flipped open her arm computer and sent an emergency open code with Samus’ signature. After a terrifying second, the blast door began to rise.
They were only a few meters away when the ground beneath them shook with a grim force. Valentina was thrown to the ground, and even Samus in her power suit stumbled against the wall.
“GO, GO!” Samus screamed.
Explosions rocked the station, the sound crashing against Valentina’s ears. She was one her feet, stumbling, trying desperately to think. She moved automatically, without thought, typing commands into her wrist computer as she struggled towards the blast door. The whole world was tearing apart around her.
She wasn’t going to make it. She was just a foot away, just six inches, but the ground was shaking. She couldn’t stand. She felt a terrible impact, something metal crashing into her ribs and then…she was looking up at the ceiling of the Gunship. The blast door slammed down somewhere near her feet and she could feel the Gunship rapidly accelerating.
Valentina’s ribs screamed out in pain. Samus was on top of her. Blood had splattered onto Valentina’s armor. Frantically, Valentina tore off her helmet, desperately trying to make sense of the situation. Through the cloud of her fear, memories flooded in. She’d set a time delay for the Gunship’s engines. They were to fire within seconds. Somehow they’d made it on.
No, we made it on because…Samus tackled me?
Valentina struggled beneath the weight of Samus’ power armor. Her mentor wasn’t moving. Mustering every drop of strength she had left, Valentina rolled Samus over and lifted her helmet. A mess of blond hair poured out into her lap. She could see Samus’ lips moving with breath.
Thank god! Thank god!
She slid her legs lower, bringing Samus’ head closer to her, cradling her and hoping to all the gods of the universe that she would pull through. And as she held her, deafened by the roaring of the engines, she saw something she had never seen before. Samus was crying. And moments later, Valentina was crying too.