My seventh novel shall tell us what really happened on Aether.

Prologue: A War of Two Worlds

Once, long ago, a race of creatures called the Luminoth settled on planet Aether after many nomadic generations spent roaming the universe. They carved out a peaceful existence there, coming to know the land and animals and bathing in the power of what they called the "Light of Aether". To prolong the lifetime of the planet, they decided to harness this light by building Energy Controllers that would be housed in holy temples. They built three of these temples, one in each of their settlements, and linked them to their most sacred place, the Great Temple. A golden age of peace and prosperity blessed them, and they were content.

The peace would not last, though. They tracked a meteor on a crash-course with their planet, and could do nothing but watch as it approached. The meteor's strike scorched the earth, cast the seas into convulsions, and spread a veil of darkness over all that the Luminoth knew... but that was not all. The explosion and the energy from the meteor opened up a dimensional rift in Planet Aether, spawning a second planet that existed in a different dimension. Dimensional rips soon bloomed on Light Aether, and an evil race of dark creatures ventured forth, spreading violence. The Luminoth named these creatures the Ing, and soon created portals to follow them into a world they would come to know as Dark Aether.

This twin planet, which had given birth to the Ing Horde, was a poisonous mirror of their own, and the Luminoth retreated from its damaging effects. Over time, however, as the Ing continued to make war on Light Aether and began to possess both creatures and friends, the Luminoth had to return and fight. They set up beacons of light that acted as protective oases against the dark creatures, and fought tooth and nail against the Ing. The war raged, and a stalemate soon became apparent; the Luminoth could not defeat the Ing on Dark Aether, and the powerful light of Aether was too much for the Ing to overcome.

The stalemate could not last forever. The planet's energy had been divided between the light and dark worlds, and both sides wanted to control it. The Luminoth created an Energy Transfer Module designed to absorb the energy from Dark Aether, only to have it stolen and used against them. Their temples fell one by one, until only their last, the Great Temple, remained. With only enough planetary energy to support one world, this temple was all that stood between Dark Aether completely eclipsing Light Aether, eradicating the last of the Luminoth...

Into this conflict came a new factor. A Federation ship chased a Space Pirate vessel onto the surface and engaged them, only to be attacked and decimated by the Ing. After losing contact with the troops, the Federation suspected the worst. Unwilling to abandon all hope, they sent an urgent message to Samus Aran...

"Mission received from Galactic Federation...
Locate troops lost in Dasha region of Planet Aether...
Priority 1..."

Chapter 1: Army

Unlike last mission, I had enough time to rest up and prepare before I received a new bounty to hunt.

I'll introduce myself.

My name is Samus Aran, and so far I've had a successful bounty hunting career. What inspired me was the incident that lead to the death of my parents.

I'd completed several bounties, including destroying the Space Pirate presences on planets Zebes and Tallon IV, and fulfilling the ancient legacy of the Alimbics by destroying their exterminator, Gorea. It had been at least a year since the latter incident, and I was now 21, still working out and prepping myself for the day I finally exterminated the Space Pirates and the Metroids for good. No cloning, no survivors.

Today, I'd been practicing several chin-ups when I received a message from the Galactic Federation, my employer.

"Mission File 02546
8 days ago, contact with Galactic Federation trooper squad Bravo was lost.
Contract Agreement:
Locate Federation troopers and render assistance.
Data Confirmation:
Last transmission received from a rogue planet located in the Dasha region called Aether.
Uploading last known coordinates now_"

The coordinates in question were "78.67.863". Before I went to Aether, however, I collected another distress signal coming from a nearer spaceship, so I went there first. The Federation could wait.

The transmission was coming from a passenger and transport ship called the Crest, under Space Pirate attack. When I got there, I could see a massive Pirate General with several people, two dead. One trapped under debris, the other strangled to death. The survivors were an old man and two children, one a boy, one a girl.

I sped down in my ship, setting it to land on its own while I performed a stunt, jumping off from the top of it onto Crest's docking bay, before letting the general see me.

"T-That's... No way... Samus!" is the translation of his garbled words.

Ignoring him, I spoke to the crew. "Crest, I've received your mayday. This is Samus Aran. Space Pirate Mothership eliminated. Mopping up those left on your ship." Oh, did I forget to mention I blew up their mothership?

The Pirate was talking, but I was ignoring him, my attention instead focused on the swarming group of Pirates approaching me. "Your legend ends here, Samus!" cried the general. Trust me, I thought, it will go on til the end of the universe. Or I meet a foe on par with me.

Their gatling guns ripped fire throughout the holding of the ship, but they didn't affect me; I was too good. "We're not hitting her?! Impossible!" I jumped over them, morphed into my Morph Ball, landed behind the army and unmorphed, firing a multitude of blasts at them, annihilating most of them and wounding several others. Those that I hadn't wounded and those that were were about to learn yet again Samus does not die. Ever.

"What's she doing?" asked the least wounded Pirate of them all. Oh, picking up a gatling gun you gave me. Why thank you!


I slightly lost my mind blasting the Pirates to smitherines, it was too much good fun. I then threw the gatling gun aside and turned to the general, the last of the Pirates on Crest. "Heh. Samus. You've given me a great deal of trouble." He picked up the little boy and the old man by his finger. "Let those two go!" I said quietly enough that nobody but the general heard, while aiming my gun at him. "Not a chance. These two are my precious hostages. My trump card. Are you going to drag these two into a fight with me, Samus?"

"Hey, you... don't think about doing anything foolish... our lives are your highest priority! LOWER YOUR GUN!!" screamed the man. He was so stressed he lost a bit of hair. "That's right, you'll do it?" asked the general. I wasn't planning to.

"Idiot! Stop! Are you trying to kill us?!" I kept silent. "So, that's your answer?" asked the general. "But you'll hit them!"

"Finish off... this guy... Sa...mus..." said the boy.

I began to charge fire, and the general threw the two at me. "What eagerness... fine... the hostages are returned! Take them!" They screamed as they flew towards me, but I pushed them down with my boot out of the path of the general's scythe as I jumped into the air, while more of the old man's hair was sliced off when he sunk down to the floor. I spun in the air and unleashed nuclear at the general, creating a mammoth explosion.

Combat situation resolved. "W-What you did... was reckless!" the man was touching his new bald patches. I kept quiet as I ruffled the boy's hair and walked off. "Hey wait! Damn, who is that? He wouldn't even let me say thanks!"

I quickly turned around, disabling my helmet and letting him see my true form. I was a woman with long shin-length blonde hair tied back, and large blue eyes. Both he and the boy were shocked. I smirked, re-enabled the helmet and left Crest for Aether.

Chapter 2: Crash-Landing

Having not really taken a look at the planet before going to Crest, I was surprised to see the planet switching from the color of greenish to purple, green to purple, and so forth. This gave me the impression it was in a state of dimensional flux.

In either case, I set a flight path and dove into the atmosphere. Electrical storms were abundant, and suddenly, my ship was struck by lightning! A small explosion occurred, and I lost control! Closing my eyes, I cursed at fate for making me suffer the death of those who survive nuclear war and die of food poisoning.

Fortunately, it seemed fate corrected its mistake, and I crashed into a small cave. My ship regained control and landed successfully. I tied back my shin-length blonde hair and turned on my Varia Suit armor, before leaving the ship and eyeing the surroundings.

My ship had begun the process of auto-repair functions. I was stuck here for a while unless the trooper squad was alright, and I could use their ship to get out of here. Before moving on, I walked over to my ship and touched it, petting it like a horse. My head lay down on it and I embraced the ship. The two of us managed to make it through the storm, and I hoped we would survive many more battles after this.

I'd brought with me my Varia Suit, Power Beam, Combat Visor, Scan Visor, Charge Beam, Missile Launcher, Morph Ball, Bombs, Boost Ball, Grapple Beam and Power Bomb Generator, though the latter two were damaged and needed some time to correct themselves.

The cave was unusual. It featured several tall pillar-like structures that seemed to have memory boxes in them. One in particular had a purplish crystal on it. My analysis indicated that the Power Beam could not activate and energize the target. There was a 'Luminoth' Webbing in front of me with a bulb containing acidic fluid vulnerable to weapon fire, which was blocking the door out. I stepped in several Wisp Tentacles, which wriggled when I neared them.

The next cavern featured a fork in the road. I took a left first, as my instincts told me to, and found a large gate in the way. A violet hologram featuring dots connected by lines, some form of dialect, was spinning on it. My translator was useless. Sighing, I took a right and found a long drop down.

At the base I found the air was full of green toxin, but it was harmless to me due to my air-filtration systems. Scanning around, I found piles of dead 'Splinter' creatures gassed to death with this Industrial-Grade Pesticide. There were a few trooper bodies, which I pulled out from their places to a corner. After this, I scanned a nearby Interface Module and caused two Armored Security Locks to open up. Destroying them, the gate in front lifted.

I followed a pair of wires on the ground to another module, which made a converted cargo pod gate move for me. In the next chamber, I scanned around several terminals and found no useful information, but I did find a Map Station. Maybe now I could navigate this labyrinthine Splinter Hive and find the troopers' location.

I blasted through the Luminoth Webbing and found an unpretty picture: several troopers hanging from the ceilings, being broken down for simpler consumption. Several Worker Splinters were eating the corpses, but I killed them and then took the corpses down, dragging them into the Map Station area, into a hidden corner where no Splinters would eat them.

The next chamber had fires spouting up all over the place. I stamped them out, and found the Interface Module to be offline. A converted cargo pod gate was not moving, but there was a tiny crevice underneath it, perfect for Morph Balling.

I passed by an unknown bioform in the wall, dead. I made a note of it, as I would encounter a live one later. I found another tunnel that lead me to a chamber with more very pleasant hanging bodies (which I pulled down) and a Bomb Slot. Using it, the module reactivated. I made my way back to the main chamber.

What I wasn't expecting to happen was several trooper corpses being reanimated with a blackish purplish energy, reborn as "Dark Troopers". I quickly fired at them, as they were shooting at me, and knocked them all down. I carefully sidestepped them and quickly scanned the Interface Module, thus moving the cargo gate. Of course, I received a new welcoming committee.

After hauling the bodies into another pile and ensuring they wouldn't be coming back to life I continued on. A small hallway containing multiple crates of energy and Missile ammunition greeted me, as well as a foggy room with an apparition after that.

The apparition, as I squinted through the fog, was... me?

It looked like me, and it floated through a purple thing. My Scan Visor identified it as a dimensional rift. Taking a deep breath, clenching my fist and hoping I wouldn't suffer a cruelly ironic death, I leaped through the rift.

Chapter 3: Thieves

Tumbling through the rift, I landed on sandy ground in a strange chamber. This chamber was sealed in, at least I think it was, by a strange, almost sticky force field. The rift behind me was now bluish whitish, almost teal. Parallel. I was in a parallel dimension. A classic case of a light and a dark world.

In the middle of my chamber was a crystal. As I was analyzing the strange item, my attention turned to the area before me, not just my little haven.

The sky was a sickly purple, and the room was circular, the rock wall open to the sky. There was a small passage next to... next to...


Phazon. That blue substance. It was unmistakable. Exposure to it could kill others like radiation on Earth, and if not kill, then mutate. Horrible beasts were the result of exposure to Phazon. I had seen several of these on planet Tallon IV. I had even been corrupted. Well, just my armor. I had a badass color scheme until Metroid Prime, the source of Tallon's Phazon, stole it. I still hadn't shaken off the eerie feeling that it was still alive in some form or another. That feeling was strong right now.

Absorbing the Phazon in a rather disturbing way was the apparition, which I could clearly see now. Could it possibly be Metroid Prime? When it died, it had stolen my Phazon Suit, as I said before, leaving me in just my Gravity Suit. Rapidly expanding, the Prime nucleus sucked up all the Phazon in its abode. Its armor altered between black and purple in color, and was slightly skeletal. Where the toes of my boots were to be was instead skeletal toes, as if the apparition's feet, mine, were bare or the skin was removed (or the toenails needed a bad cut). Her fingers were clawed, and where the boosters on my back would be on my suit, were instead two dots, emulating shoulder blades.

I was about to stand up, until I heard an explosion. A shot was fired at me, but it missed. The dark apparition knew I was here. It twisted its head, continuing to hold its gun. I twisted my head very slightly as well, and before I could stand up, another explosion occured, and again it didn't hit me. But it wasn't aimed at me. No, it was aimed at the crystal creating my save haven.

The sticky-type shield was beginning to diminish around me, and within seconds it was gone. My Power Suit's energy levels were draining and I was feeling the heat. What I hadn't noticed before about the room were that eleven arachnoid creatures were situated, watching over us two Samii and waiting to attack. 'Dark Me' quickly fled, even leaving her precious Phazon behind, as she didn't want to be a part of the rather ugly fight that was coming.

I tried to scream as I looked up at the attackers that were quickly beginning to swarm me, but I'd lost my voice. That was no real problem since I usually never spoke. The dark arachnoids jumped on me and began puncturing my metal suit. It was as if they were trying to rip it open, to expose my considerable body to the atmosphere and make me one of their own. I had no choice. I knew some of my abilities were being taken, but I would have to either give them up or retrieve them later.

I made a hasty escape through the rift.

How I survived was a miracle. Looking over my equipment, I found that I had lost my Space Jump Boots, Grapple Beam, Boost Ball, Power Bomb Generator, Missile Launcher and Morph Ball Bombs. Goddammit! I still had my normal Morph Ball, Charge Beam, Power Beam, Combat Visor, Scan Visor and Varia Suit, although the latter, due to heavy damage, simply flickered and disappeared, leaving me in my skintight, and as I said, considerable Zero Suit. If there were any more of those arachnoid creatures, or any more "Dark Troopers", then I hoped my stunning Paralyzer gun would manage to keep them at bay.

System analysis showed my systems were functional, but drained of energy. Before I moved on, I thought a little bit, piecing the little information I had together.

The Federation Marines were all or mostly killed by those Splinter creatures. Tiny little beetles could kill an entire squadron of skilled troops. How highly odd.

What were those arachnid creatures that had attacked me? Did they have something to do with the purplish black cloud that reanimated the trooper corpses? Were they also in possible league with the Splinters, or had somehow assisted them in murdering god knows how many Marines?

And what about 'Dark Me'? Was she really Metroid Prime? And was she in league with those arachnids too? Either way my theories could have gone, I knew I had to find the surviving Marines, if any (hopefully any, if they were all killed it would be way too poetic of a way to die), secure their safety, figure out what the hell was going on, and recover my stolen abilities.

The portal was now gone, but I didn't care as I was in no shape to fight those arachnids any time soon. Ahead of me were several of the bulbs attached to the Luminoth Webbings I'd previously seen, although it was just the bulbs now. Another cargo pod gate blocked off easier access. Beside me were two tunnelways, one blocked by a wall of Talloric Alloy (which was very susceptible to Bombs, how classic), the other unblocked by anything. Hoping there wasn't some invisible reality show camera watching my ass as I crawled through the tunnel, I stepped out cautiously...

...And my Zero Suit and me sustained some damage from trooper fire. The Paralyzer was enough to stun them through their compromised armor, and I turned their own weapons against them to finish them off.

There were a bunch of crates in a corner with a body on top of them. I shot open the crates and the body flew off, right onto me. A deactivated Save Station was in the chamber obscured by the boxes, but I could not reactivate it with my suitless equipment.

Very convenient for me was an elevator hopefully leading out of the trooper compound. I was in no shape to activate it in my preferred manner, of scanning it, so I simply used my hand to scan the scanner, and was soon tasting fresh, non-dead-body-stinking air. I was now in another fork in the road, much in the same purpose as the last, but I had to take a left this time. Another gate blocked my way, so I destroyed its Armored Security Locks and was allowed passage.

This room featured a winch system, an indestructible crate, blah blah blah just Federation tech. Suddenly, the sky became dark.

The sky was now a less sickly purple, mirroring the unstable dark dimension with the arachnids, my stolen abilities and Dark Me. There were some heavy electrical storms striking down, so I took cover under the shelter I was just in and waited for the storms to pass. It blew over pretty quickly.

There was a big, indestructible Heavy Transport Crate blocking the way. Held by a winch system nearby, I used an Interface Module and that lifted the crate out of the way, partially. Behind the container there was yet another undecipherable gate (there were just too many of these now) that I couldn't translate anyway in my current state.

On the opposite wall ahead were several pods, Splinter Cocoons, and I hit and damaged one dead center with a big rock. Picking the rock up again for a weapon other than my near useless Paralyzer, the other hives exploded and out came several normal Splinters. Because they weren't big enough for hand-to-hand combat I had to simply kick them off the ledges I was climbing (and my legs when they began to chew through the Zero Suit) and then throw the rock at one a last time.

There was another non-aggressive creature called a Green Kralee. Climbing up the canyon, I reached another bridge, disarmed the locks, blah blah blah.

Inside here I found a Collapsed Tunnel, with a tiny Morph Ball alcove and a misfortunate trooper killed in a far too poetic way to die. I managed to pull his carcass out from the debris, and read his Trooper Log. He was Private First-Class Martin Veroni, and he was talking about this paranoid soldier named Haley. After a struggle to not leave any pieces of Veroni in the debris, I exited his crime scene via a small opening present in the wall. Beyond this room I located another pillar adorned with a purple crystal; the same kind as in the Landing Site.

Now I was in a massive, more open area - the Temple Grounds. This "Temple Assembly Site" featured several statues, another winch system on which the Heavy Transport Crate was now arriving, a Red Blast Shield (thank you arachnids, thank you), and the most remarkable feature was the several tall tree trunks holding up a strange alien structure high in the sky, which darkened to purple yet again, and I had to take shelter yet again. The storms scorched several areas on the ground until they blew over.

The lowering arm of the wench was borderline critical. It was holding the massive crate like a hundred year old man trying to hold a 400lb dumbbell. After using the control terminal I found that the thing was just about to pretty much snap, so I shot the cable, disconnecting it and causing it to crash on the ground. I now had a platform.

I was now in a long double-floored tunnel. The upper tunnel was blocked by an Mk VII Gate, which was made of Denzium, by the way. I assumed because of the similar name to Bendezium on Tallon IV that it was susceptible to Power Bombs. And oh joy, did I look like I had some on me?

The lower tunnel was open so I manuevered through the tunnel and found another gate blocking my way out. To my left was a control terminal, and I still could not use my helmet. However... there was a Splinter Cocoon nearby. I provoked it into attacking me, and killed the Splinter. It left me an Energy Capsule, which was enough to restore helmet functions. I scanned the terminal and it initiated Gate Security Protocol. The lock in front of me lifted, while I was locked in from behind.

Now I'd found Bravo's Communication Area, finding another downed trooper, Private First-Class Louis Brouda. His Trooper Log implied that there were no survivors, but I'd like to hope that wasn't true. Just beside Brouda was the Interface Module for their communications array. Let's just hope...

My suit flashed a message saying: "Transmission failed due to atmospheric interference." Great. So I was stuck here for a while until I found out what those electrical storms were. But could I be trapped here forever? Could I survive several hundred Splinters swarming to attack me? Or that purplish black smoke possessing them?

Speaking of which, as I moved on several more trooper bodies were possessed. Using my usual tactic, stun and shoot with ballistics, I protected Brouda's body and placed it in an area any smoke would hopefully not reach.

Inside the next tunnel there was an odd sight, a Growler Class Turret of Galactic Federation design. It was too busy helping me in a way exterminating the Splinters, but once they were all gone it opened up on me. My suit was slowly recovering itself now; I now had Arm Cannon functions and my left boot. That turret's IFF was obviously dead, so I had to destroy it.

The path onward was obstructed by an Mk VII Gate. Nearby was a tunnel compromised by Splinters, leading to a control area. There was a control terminal in here as well as another trooper. As I scanned her, I was overcome with emotion.

This trooper was Specialist Mary Angseth. I had met her once in training. She was responsible for the extermination of Class XIIX Exterminator Virus 'Europa', on a mission to the Hadley's Hope colony on Jupiter's moon. She'd never told me that she had idolized me...

I actually idolized her as well. And now she was dead. I knelt down and touched her body, then, ignoring the powerful smell of her corpse, actually embraced it. "I'll avenge you, Mary..." I whispered.

Standing back up and clenching my fist, I left her grave (caving it in to prevent anything from getting her) and rolled under the malfunctioning gate, which opened for a second, then closed, and gave me a small enough space to go through. I kept moving.

Chapter 4: Strange Light

In seconds I finally stepped into my original target: the GFMC Compound. This was where I was supposed to land, were it not for the electrical storms. What surprised me most about the canyon was that the troops' ship, G.F.S. Tyr, was mostly intact, though I could smell burning. Perhaps ignited Fuel Gel? And oh, god, the bodies. The entire site was littered with bodies. Bodies and crates. There was an information terminal under the ship. I began to walk towards it, and then began running to the side of a Marine lying dead next to it.

A hole in the visor showed me the Marine had a dark skin tone. I'd gasped at first, I thought maybe it was an old friend of mine, Anthony Higgs. I hadn't seen him since the death of Ian Malkovich, the brother of my only CO during my time in the Galactic Federation military, Adam Malkovich. Forcing myself to tear away from what may have been Anthony's dead body, I stood and inserted my Arm Cannon into the terminal, to watch a disturbing sequence of footage.

After a bunch of static, a message played onscreen.

"Datecycle 07.014.2 (Cosmos)
Final report, GFMC Task Force Herakles.
Exeter, A.C. commanding.
While on patrol in the Dasha system, we engaged an unknown Space Pirate frigate.
The enemy frigate was crippled, and it crashed on the planet Aether.
We followed the Pirates, but our ship was damaged by a storm as we entered Aether's atmosphere.
Heavy magnetic activity during the storm disabled our comm systems.
Upon landing, we split into two units, one to set up an Ops base, the other to repair the ship.
Each unit was doing fine, no problems...
...until they appeared."

The footage shown during this depicted the Tyr shooting down the Pirate ship, and then landing with a small fire on its side, caused by the electrical storms, like my ship. All of the crew filed out, with the first mentioned group running off, while another squad calmly strolled onto Aether's ground and one grunt gave them instructions.

Next, several images flashed of the Marines, setting up all the terminals and crates. On the line, "...until they appeared." the screen went black before showing more footage. This clip showed a soldier setting the locks on a crate when this information terminal's alarm started beeping.

"Ace! They're moving in fast! I need backup! I need backup!" a soldier on top of the Tyr screamed. I'd heard small explosions but there was no fire at all. Several of the black Splinters began crawling down the canyon walls, and though they put up a strong fight, killing more Splinters than I expected, the soldiers were incapacitated within seconds. The black-skinned Marine beside me stumbled to the terminal and sent the distress signal before dropping dead.

This guy wasn't Anthony, it was A.C. Exeter, the captain of the mission. Despite not knowing him, I knelt down and touched his face, before tearing the compromised helme apart to see all of his face. I stood up.

The terminal was now damaged to the point of uselessness. It didn't matter though, I had a mission: to exterminate the Splinters and prevent this from happening ever again. Besides, I had the bodies to tell me everything that went on. In order: Captain Avram Charles Exeter, Lieutenant Corporal Joseph Brode, Private First-Class Gerald Haley, Specialist Franz Triplette, Private First-Class Samuel Milligan, and Private First-Class Ivan Crany (he mocked Angseth for talking about me). Some other sights I found were a strange yellow crate that seemed to hold something valuable, so I made a note to come back to it after checking out the Tyr. I also saw another of the gates with the strange alien text on it, but the hologram was green this time.

Ignoring the crate, I entered the Tyr and found all the seating spots for the troops. I scanned a door and found the cockpit, complete with a Map Station just for me. Downloading the data, I found a burning hole in the ship, the source of the burning I smelled earlier, and jumped onto a ledge before me. Underneath a damaged ornate structure, I found a small circular contraption in the ground with an Interface Module beside it. The contraption was a Kinetic Orb Cannon, and after scanning it, a holographic orb appeared.

Hm, I thought. I entered Morph Ball mode and placed myself in the machine, before I felt my organs flying up in my body. I hit something, and hard, and then fell. Unmorphing, I found that it had brought me back to where I'd entered the room from. Embarrasingly, I couldn't just jump up to an exit of the room, because they'd stolen my Space Jump Boots. Groaning, I jumped down from the ledge I was currently on, and landed on the hill I couldn't just reach with on jump. I soon found myself at a loss. The door out was a Red Blast Shield, and those could only be destroyed with Missiles.

Now it was time for the crate.

Charging fire, I let it rip, and the crate revealed a Federation Missile Launcher. Hell, it was still a Missile, and it worked like mine. Reaching down for it, I was about to leave when I got a nasty little surprise. Several Dark Splinters appeared out of nowhere and began chewing at the bodies. Using my suit's jetpack, I boosted at each of them, sending them flying off a cliff. Just to secure their safety I took that ornate contraption and welded it to the broken part of the ship, before sealing all the bodies into the Tyr and extinguishing its fire.

After destroying the blast shield I found myself in a small enclosed chamber, with a trooper that was moving! I ran to his side and knelt down. "Are you hurt super bad?" I asked.

"Can't... feel my legs."

"What's your name?"

"Private First-Class Eduardo Denys at your service." he replied with a weak salute.

"I'm Bounty Hunter Samus Aran. Denys, I'm sorry to tell you that you're the last trooper alive."

He nodded. "I know."

"Here... let me help you out of there." I charged fire and unleashed my beam on the rubble covering his legs. Tearing the armored legs apart, I saw that the skin was now black.

"Oh, god. Your legs. They're black. We have to amputate them. Let me get you to a safer area." I ignored a strange gate that seemed to have something attached to it, in another dimension, and brought Denys down with me. We were greeted by my friends, War Wasps. These beasts were as much of a nuisance as the paparazzi were on Earth before the occupation was made illegal.

In the center of the ground I found another Orb Cannon, but I used alternate means to get up. I disabled my Varia Suit and then stripped out of my Zero Suit, while ignoring the obvious rise in Denys' armored crotch at my undergarment-clad body, and then rematerialized the suit off of me. I made it become a ball and instructed Denys to hold on tight to me, as I held onto the ball and then launched ourselves up to the other ledge. Once there, I reapplied my two sets of armor. Beyond I found another small and intricate chamber with a damaged wall to our left, and three black long bars in the middle, running through a platform.

Destroying all War Wasp Hives in the vicinity, I blasted at the weakened wall with a Missile, which certainly didn't help it, and then found another Kinetic Orb Cannon. A single activation, as well as the means by which I used before to get higher, brought me to a 'staircase' with a strange moth-like humanoid body. An unknown mysterious chemical was present. Using my scanner I snapped a picture for future use, and then found an elevator. Before using it, I looked up into the sky and whispered, "Great moons of Zebes." The elevator's destination was some object high in the sky. I mean, I could survive long drops, but the sight of this massive 'tree' made my knees a little numb.

What are the Luminoth? Do they have something to do with the arachnids? Are they the arachnids themselves? Is this body in front of me a Luminoth? And those holograms of strange text, is it some sort of language? These thoughts raced through my head as Denys and I went up the elevator.

The area's name, as indicated by the Interface Module below, was the 'Great Temple'. As I moved on, I found two more of the strange moth-like bodies. Even further ahead, I found a door surrounded by spinning gear-like mechanisms, and I fell onto my back when strange creatures swooped out at me from a hole in the rock wall. In this hole I found a Save Station, which I gladly used to my convenience.

Beyond this place was the Temple Sanctuary - a large room filled with hundreds of beautifully ornate decorations, etchings, and other forms of art. The rim of the circular room was lined with stasis pods, which I took a closer look at, to find a strange little face that resembled the three moth-like bodies, or the Luminoth, assuming that was what they were. I turned around and looked at the ceiling to find several Splinter Cocoons, though my fire was to no avail. A large one was centralized in a circle of little ones, my Scan Visor advised me to investigate further. "Stay here," I said to Denys, as I walked into the center of the room.

As I stepped under them, I was suddenly sealed in by force field barriers. Turning to Denys, who was clearly panicked, I gave him a reassuring nod and a thumbs up, before the Splinters dropped down by web-like strings. Suddenly, the black-purple fog appeared and possessed them. Aiming the barrel of my Arm Cannon at each of them for about a second, I began to fight.

The Dark Splinters were easy, but it was the later part of the battle that grew harder. The larger cocoon exploded, and revealed an Alpha Splinter, a much larger, mama Splinter that was clearly pissed about the loss of her babies. I tried to move out of her way, but she kept mowing me down. I kicked her off me and charged at her, planting a nice little hole into her forehead. She was soon possessed, to the extent where my weapons merely bounced off of her! Having an idea, I charged my beam, and then fired myself at her as I let my Arm Cannon annihilate her at




The remains shone a bright light that I shielded my eyes from, as it began to swoop around the room. My first thought was, Tinker Bell in space? but I shook off the silly joke, just as it charged into my Power Suit. My systems flashed a message.

"System Alert. Unknown item acquired. Alien technology has bonded to armor systems. Threat scan complete. No negative impact on suit performance."

That was a relief. After the force fields disappeared, I guided Denys to an elevator and took him up it.

Chapter 5: Sandstorms

"Wait here," I said to Denys, once we were at the top of the shaft. I opened the door ahead and slowly marched inside.

The first thing that greeted me was a large ball of light in the air, with a glass dome-sort of thing around it, shining light down on a central mechanism that appeared to be sealed. There were also three light conductors surrounding the top of the room, which were currently not channeling energy. I scanned the mechanism, identified by my systems as an "Energy Controller". It regulated planetary energy in this sector of Aether.

My first question to myself was why were there no reflected shafts of light. At the second I'd started to wonder whether the arachnids or 'Dark Me' had anything to do with this, my threat assessment picked up something on my right. I quickly aimed my Arm Cannon at the detected target. As it moved from the shadows my mouth dropped open.

The creature was a moth, identical to the body I'd seen earlier. This must be a Luminoth. It spoke in a garbled language, but it cast some spell on me that I was able to understand.

"Do not be afraid. I am U-Mos, Sentinel of the Luminoth. Please listen, and hear of our world's peril."

From its right hand emerged a hologram of Aether. I saw a meteor enter the atmosphere quickly, and then a second planet split off from Aether.

"Long ago, a cosmic object fell to our planet, Aether, exploding with a great force. A rift was torn in time and space, and a strange power flowed over the world. Where once there was one Aether, there were now two. One of light... and one of shadow, each existing in its own dimension."

From its other hand emerged a hologram of the arachnid beasts. I clenched my teeth as I vowed to regain my stolen abilities.

"It was the end of peace on Aether, for a new race was born that day on the dark world... one filled with hate and terrible power. They are the Ing. The Ing are creatures of shadow and darkness, knowing nothing of peace and mercy. For decades, we stood against them... yet we now lie on the verge of defeat. When Dark Aether was born, our planetary energy was divided. Half for our world, and half for theirs. Should one world gain control of this energy, the other will perish." I lowered my Arm Cannon.

U-Mos then summoned a hologram of the blue thing that had entered my suit after I killed the Dark Alpha Splinter.

"Before you arrived, the Ing had stolen a device from us... one that collects planetary energy. With it, they have weakened our planet to the verge of collapse. But fortune smiled upon us this day, for the Energy Transfer Module... is now bonded to you. With it, you can help us... help us restore our world. You're our only hope, Samus. Should we fall, the Ing will look to the stars for new planets to ravage and conquer. Your species could be their next victims. The Ing have taken our energy to three temples on Dark Aether. Find these temples, and transfer the energy from them to our own. I have updated your map system with the location of another temple. There is knowledge there that can help you on your way."

I pressed my left fingers to a new dot on my helmet, in a sort of salute.

"I have also updated your Transfer Module. You can now access devices and doors coded with Violet holograms. Many lands are now open to you. Prepare well for your journey. The Ing now know you possess the Energy Transfer Module. They will try to recover it at all costs. Return to me once you have restored the energy to a temple. I will aid you as I can."

He raised his hands, glimmering energy, into the air. "May the Light of Aether shine upon you!" Upon the conclusion of his speech, I found that he had fully replenished my energy. How very thoughtful of you, U-Mos.

As I turned, I found a violet hologram on the back wall, which I hadn't noticed when coming in. I scanned it and read the origins of the Luminoth. They were not born of Aether, but were a starfaring race who colonized the planet.

"Oh, U-Mos. One last thing. A squadron of soldiers came here in search of Pirates, and all but one were killed by the Ing. I'm sorry if I have to trouble you, but can you look after him? His name is Private First Class Eduardo Denys, and he's lost function in his legs."

"I will take care of him." I opened the door and brought Denys in, telling him that I was going on a mission and he'd be staying with U-Mos.

I went back down to the Temple Sanctuary and scanned the one door with a purple hologram. One scan, and it lowered what obstructed my path to Agon Sector. In the next hallway over, I discovered a strange creature that resembled a cluster of light energy (which my Scan Visor identified as a Lightflyer), and took it out, along with another two, and then activated an elevator at the far end.

Once I was back in the Temple Grounds, I found another gate in front of me. My scan gave off the message, "Let this gateway forever protect our sacred temple." Uh, not anymore since I just lowered it... "May you find enlightenment and peace." There would be no peace until the Space Pirates were destroyed.

I was back in the room with the crane and the platform that fell off of its rope, and I was quickly ambushed by several Splinters. The black fog came in and possessed them. My energy level was still fragile even though it was replenished, and I had the weakest of weapons, so I did the one thing I could do. I turned to a Red Blast Shield on a door, destroyed it, and escaped to the room behind. In here was an Energy Tank, the first I would get. As soon as my suit's energy levels rose, I charged outside with guns ablazing and destroyed the Dark Splinters.

With that out of the way, I returned to the industrialized site to check out a gate I'd passed before. "Once fertile plains, now sands scorched and ruined by war." So I figured I was dealing with a desert area. The gate lowered and revealed to me a Luminoth's body. It wore a peculiar form of armor, possibly Ing possession protection. I scanned it, and the Luminoth was identified as "J-Fme". There was a testament from the Luminoth summarizing its final moments. Before proceeding through the door, I dragged its body behind a clearing of indestructible crates to keep it safe from animals.

I passed through a hallway and then found myself in a cave room with a fantastic view of the landscape of Aether. To my left was a cluster of webbing, behind which was a Missile Expansion. I activated the elevator and found myself in a room with a sandy floor. To my right were strange plants, "Agon Bearerpods". I proceeded through a hallway with creatures called "Lumites", a body that I brought back into the elevator room for safety and scanned a bioengineered plant called Sandgrass. Once my analysis of the simple hallway was complete, I opened the door.

Chapter 6: Doppelgänger

Chapter 7: Flooded Forest

Chapter 8: Mechanical Marvels

Chapter 9: Doppelgänger II

Chapter 10: Treasure Hunt

Chapter 11: Legacy of a Race


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