“Cyrus, can you hear me yet?”
The dual screens flickered as the lone pilot fiddled with the video monitor. The message was coming from over a thousand miles away, and he was having trouble getting clear reception.
That was over an hour ago. Cyrus Aran sat in the MPD III’s control room, replaying the recorded portion of that message. He had done this over a dozen times, and he was still hoping to learn something new.
“Yeah, I’ve got it now.” Cyrus watched as the images on the dual screens became clear. In the recording, he was wearing a dark purple wetsuit, which he wore now. His mother claimed it was a Phazon Enhancement Device, made to attract an enhancing element, but he didn’t believe her. It was just a wetsuit, and even though he hadn’t seen water in 15 years, it made him want to go for a swim.
“Are you ready to record Status Report 009?” Cyrus asked his mother in the video.
Outside of the recording, he studied his mother as she sat in the cockpit of her ship. She was dressed in a full body metal suit designed for space travel. A far cry from the space suits of pioneer astronauts, it allowed for extreme flexibility and customization. Her head was covered with a red helmet, which worked well with the yellow material used for the suit. Most people had never seen her out of her suit, but it wasn’t like bounty hunters had much time for themselves.
His mother was Samus Aran and she was probably the most famous bounty hunter in the entire galaxy. She had finally allowed Cyrus to fly the MPD III his own, but still did not allow the 17 year-old to go on missions with her. Instead, he was informed of her progress through hourly video messages.
The last one had come more than an hour ago.
“Well, I have reached the Elysian atmosphere but I am still a long way from reaching the planet.” The recording played back as it had for the past hour. At this point in the video, he still knew where his mother was.
“Ok, I’ve got your coordinates down…” In the video, Cyrus hesitated, confusion furrowing his brow. He suddenly looked up at his mother on the screen. “You disabled the tracking beam, Mom! How am I supposed to -”
“I didn’t disable anything,” Samus interrupted, reaching for buttons off screen.
Cyrus watched as the recording escalated into a panic.
“Mom, there’s something wrong!”
“Cyrus, I’ve got it. I…oh no, there is something wrong!”
“What is going on – ”
“There’s something out there, some sort of asteroid, I can’t tell, Cyrus. I’m heading back, there’s no way I can – ”
“Mom, what are you saying? Wait, don’t do it yet, Mom!”
The recording abruptly ended. Cyrus resisted the urge to play it again. He had seen it enough times to recite it word for word.
It just didn’t make any sense. He had been over the charts dozens of times with his mother and even by himself. There was just nothing about an asteroid belt or anything of its kind in the Elysian atmosphere. Cyrus wanted to wait for his mother’s next report, but it was getting late. The longer he waited, the more danger his mother could be in, and the less help he would be able to offer her. He considered sending out an emergency signal, but then remembered that it was impossible.
The MPD III had been the first vessel of its kind, a fully operational research facility and extremely fast transport. Unfortunately, it had not been approved by the Universal Research Corporation. Therefore, their research was deemed illegal, and they had spent more than enough time dodging officials who were out to arrest them.
Normally, Cyrus and his mother were against breaking the law, but theirs was a special case. Their research was tailored to a specific element: Phazon. It was rare, valuable, and very important to his mother. Samus had been obsessed with Phazon for years, often visiting dead planets that emitted even the smallest sample of it, just to get a chance to experiment with it. Cyrus had never actually seen any of the Phazon, not in person at least, but he wasn’t exactly sure what its purpose was.
A few weeks ago Samus had detected several Phazon emissions from the planet Elysia II, a remnant of a planet she once visited in the past. They had planned the mission ever since then, which was why Cyrus was concerned when things started to go badly with her.
Cyrus glanced at the controls spread out before him. The MPD III was a high tech vessel, with tons of buttons that didn’t seem to do much. It hadn’t taken him very long to figure out that none were actually needed to command the ship. He reached for a few significant buttons now, and started the recorded Captain’s Log that his mother insisted he use.
“You never want to get stuck out there with nothing to go on but your memory,” his mother would say as she taught him to pilot the MPD III. “Describe everything you see, because you’ll never know when someone will have to play back those recordings once you’re gone.”
“Cyrus Aran, starting Log Number 205. It’s been more than an hour since last contact with Samus Aran, aboard an alternate vessel. She was supposed to check in hourly, and she has missed that check in.” Cyrus paused. His mother would never admit it, but he knew she was reckless. That was why she insisted on keeping the logs, even though they were tedious and annoying. Because she knew that if something like this happened and she didn’t make it, Cyrus would have at least something to go on if he needed to find her.
Which was exactly what he planned to do.
“Computer, chart a course to the Elysian atmosphere.”
The computer responded automatically, and silently. That was one of the things he loved about the MPD III. Most of the other ships in the UPC were run by supercomputers that had personalities and were keen on overriding the pilot’s orders. All he had to do was tell the computer where to go, and it went. Tell it what to fix, and it fixed it.
The MPD III was suddenly thrust into motion. Cyrus grabbed the seat’s armrest and quickly slipped on his seatbelt. The computer didn’t usually move the ship on its own, but he wasn’t worried.
It would take him more than an hour to reach the Elysian atmosphere. He settled into his chair, prepared for the long journey.
He had lived on the MPD III for all of his life. The son of a bounty hunter, he did not have any time for living on one planet and going to school. His mother, Samus, had been his teacher, caretaker, and friend. He needed no one else. There were times when he did wish he lived in one steady home, maybe on one of the planets his mother used to take him when he was younger.
But there are other people there, he reminded himself. He had never really been too good around other people; after all, he had lived in a ship for his whole life, and had never really had much experience interacting with them. Cyrus wasn’t sure if he’d survive for very long anyway if he was stationary. He was so used to the MPD III’s constant movement, that he often felt dizzy and sick when on land.
The ship’s lights dimmed. It was always near 11:00pm when the lights dimmed. Something about a tradition on Earth that his mother liked to keep. She said it made her feel “more at home”. Cyrus wouldn’t know. He had never been to earth.
As much as he wanted to stay awake, he could not help himself. Years of being put to bed at this time had caused a natural reaction in him. He immediately felt tired, and leaned back in his chair. When he reached the Elysian atmosphere, the computer would wake him. It always found a way to do it, every morning, without fail.
He closed his eyes.
Mom, I hope you’ll be ok until I get there.