4 Months ago. Undisclosed location.
All around him, he felt heat. Swirling, bubbling, rising in plumes around his body. He knew the heat was unbearable, painful to the touch, but he couldn’t move. Just the effort of trying to open his eyes sent rippling waves of nausea straight from his abdomen up to his gullet. Yet, for all his discomfort, it was like a passing memory more than anything else, or the phantom throbbing pang of a missing limb lost years ago. Wherever he was existed in a space just outside of the body, somewhere on the periphery. Blackness all around him, darkness in lieu of sight, and a persistent crackling static where his thoughts once were.
“… he’s… 35% of haptic recognition is restored… inhibitor compounds at 130% output…”
Far away, miles, or maybe lightyears, it felt like. He heard the words, but couldn’t understand them. Just muffled sounds drilling themselves into his mind, mixing with the static, agitating him. He wanted them gone. To leave. Go away.
The words came from him, unbidden, but in his mind, not aloud. His mind, his, but he… who was he? He tried to think, but the buzzing, the crackling increased with each attempt to access his memories. Something was… wrong. The heat around his body grew more intense, drawing him somehow even deeper into the abyss that seemed to embrace every inch and crevice of his being. Think.
“… remarkable, cognitive function is at .04863% despite injection of 1,000 units of Phazon-infused thiopental per minute into the specimen’s bloodstream… tissue decomposition is holding at 87% across total body mass, but introduction of the TLR3 protein is failing to stimulate cellular reconstruction…”
More voices. Clearer, now. Only miles away.
At the edge of the abyss cracks of light were forming, the brightness seeming to be bursting through small slivers etched into thick concrete. Red. The light was red, the darkness was burning, the crackle was deafening.
“No,” he said, again in his mind.
It was wrong. He was starting to remember. A battle. Metal on metal, bone breaking, burning light across his chest. She. She had defeated him. She. Memories swirled indistinctly, impenetrable. She… who was she?
“… no, no, this can’t be correct, check the figures again and increase the dosage, its cognitive function is spiking; 12.4956% now…”
The voices were closer than ever. The heat grew, but now he… felt it. Feel. Hands. A tremor through his fingers, a flicker of movement, virtually imperceptible but still there. Something was missing. Fingers were gone in places. He clenched his jaw, ran a dry tongue across the inside of his mouth. Holes where teeth should be. Holes and missing pieces. It was wrong. Think. She. She did this… who was she?!
“… yes, this is Omega Lab, the specimen is waking, we’re going to need security teams one through seven immediately. Alert Alpha Lab, we need all available staff for containment procedures…”
Panic. The voices were panicking. He knew that tone, that sound. He… coveted it. Once. A lifetime ago. Life. He wasn’t alive. She had killed him. She… who was she?! The crackling in his mind was splitting his skull, but he fought the pain, fought the heat, and dug deep.
The slivers of light had grown into great glowing red beacons, now. Hand. Bubbles. There were bubbles swirling around his hand, through the stubs where fingers and parts of fingers once were. He was… floating. More bubbles, through the holes in his hands, his chest, his body. The lights grew brighter. A battle. Metal on metal, bone breaking. She. She was… winning. She was fast, impossibly fast. Faster than him. Stronger. He hated her. He feared her. He was better than her. But not that day.
She… Who. Was. She?!
“S… am… Sa…” he tried to speak, but something was clamping his mouth closed. He thrashed his head, but it felt like every movement was in slow motion, as though he was enveloped in quicksand. The name… her name… right there, like a splinter near to the surface, but just barely too deep to pluck…
“… it said, I don’t know what it said, where is that security team?! Cognitive functions at 76% and climbing!”
Fear. The voices were scared now. Fear… He feared her.
That name… her name…
The crackling was like gunfire now, but he couldn’t let it stop him, not when he was so close. He pushed through the static, pushed, pushed…
Yes, that was her name. Samus. Samus. The crackling subsided, and something like relief washed over his body. There was a battle. She killed him. Him… but who was he? The relief quickly faded, replaced by something else. Hate. His body filled with it, anger, primal rage, bloodlust. Samus. Samus!
His eyes began to open. They felt heavy, as though lifting them was to lift the world with his bare hands and arms. Shapes greeted him. Red everywhere. He was steeped in a thick, viscous chemical bath of some kind, in an enormous tube. Still muffled, he heard harried voices, the blare of a siren. It felt like sand filled his eyes, and he blinked furiously to cast it away, but it only seemed to make the grains multiply.
“CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
A new voice. Different, though; it spoke directly into his mind, piercing, booming, and powerful.
“Yesss…” he responded mentally to the disembodied voice, slurring and disoriented, his thoughts slow.
“YOU SEEK THE HUNTER.”
“I WILL GIVE HER TO YOU. IN RETURN, YOU WILL SERVE ME.”
“I s-sserve no one.”
Instantaneously, pain shot through his eyes, through his mind, through every neuron of his body. It grew in intensity, churning through him without end, boiling, tearing him apart, until suddenly it stopped as abruptly as it had started. Exhausted, he hung limp and ragged, but was alert for the first time in what felt like ages.
“YOU WILL SERVE ME.”
“Who… are you…?”
“NEITHER FRIEND NOR ENEMY. LOOK UPON ME, AND KNOW.”
He was more confused than ever, weary and fatigued from the assault he’d just endured, trying to process everything quickly as his faculties returned. He had shut his eyes from the pain, but he opened them again, cautiously, and peered forward. Through the red, and past the shapes now focusing into people, he saw looming large in the back of what appeared to be a great chamber… an eye. Enormous, glowing, fierce… and familiar.
“… M… Mother…?”
“And… I…? Who… am I?”
“YOU–MY NECRO RIDLEY.”
Ridley… he was Ridley. He was dead. Now he was not. The confusion was banished, his mind refocused. He had no hunger, no thirst. And she, Samus. The Hunter. She lived. He would correct that.
“ARE YOU READY TO WORK?” the voice asked him.