Boarding the Station
When no rinvers appeared at all overnight, the mission was deemed complete in the morning. They sent the clear signal from the settlement’s communication array, then headed back to their ships to send the confirmation signal, and transmit the full report.
The next step was to deliver the part they salvaged, so they both took off in their own ships. As she was entering the hyperjump coordinates and aligning her ship, Valentina thought about last night’s revelation.
Samus Aran was a woman. Valentina didn’t have a good reason for why she had just assumed Samus was a man. Possibly because so did everyone else. Command had to know, though. They surely wouldn’t admit anyone into the ranks without knowing that much. So why wouldn’t they be more open about that? Perhaps they didn’t feel it mattered.
She nearly forgot what she was doing until she saw Samus’s ship jump away. After double-checking she had entered the coordinates right, she activated her own jump.
But even more than that, Valentina couldn’t get the image of Samus’s face out of her mind. Not only was she a woman, but she was beautiful. Tall, and strong. Kind. With a wonderful smile. Valentina wanted to know more about Samus.
This was hardly professional though. It was probably best to suppress and ignore such thoughts.
She came out of hyperspeed, and set course for the Federation space station. She put aside any trains of thought until she had docked properly.
Samus’s ship was already there, of course. Valentina had lagged behind, but she could see Samus waiting. Perhaps she had been worried when Valentina wasn’t right behind her? No, surely not. Samus was probably not the type to worry easily. It had to be just professionalism.
Valentina got out of the ship, and headed over to Samus. She was itching to get out of her armour.
“Thank you for waiting,” she said to Samus, who just nodded at her before turning around. Still not much of a talker.
Samus hadn’t really said much after telling Valentina ‘you handled yourself well’. Valentina had so many things she wanted to ask, and couldn’t decide on any of them. Suddenly her tongue had felt all tied up.
They had eaten, then gone out to patrol around the village, and afterwards Valentina had fallen asleep almost right away. When she woke up, Samus had already put her helmet back on.
Valentina felt really relieved to get into the station’s changing room. GalFed regulations were that armour should only be on standby while on Federation bases, which she made sure to inform Samus of as well. Most people just wore their contact suits while on a base. Casual clothing wasn’t unheard of, but it was uncommon. Only people on active guard duty had their armour on.
Valentina let out a sigh of relief as she finally put her armour on standby mode, and it vanished off of her, leaving only her pink contact suit. There were so many safeguards in place to make sure it didn’t deactivate accidentally while in the field, so it was a long procedure to put it into standby. Activating it was much easier, since it might need to come on in an instant should something happen, and accidentally putting the armour on was most of the time not a big deal.
After she was done, she looked over at Samus. Apparently she had gotten done sooner, and was currently checking her hair.
Even Samus has a bit of vanity then, Valentina thought. She probably would have cut her hair short if not. As for the rest of Samus… her contact suit was blue, and didn’t match the design of anything she had seen in the Federation. Valentina wondered again where Samus’s armour and equipment came from. Would she answer if asked? Samus turned towards Valentina, one hand resting on her hip, and giving Valentina a full view.
“Shall we go?” she asked, and it took Valentina a moment before she was able to reply.
“A-ahm, yes!” she said. Seeing Samus like this, she realised this might be part of why no one knew who she really was. Looking like this, there was no way anyone could guess this was Samus Aran. She just looked like a normal human woman. Okay, a very tall and well-built human woman, but even with the unusual contact suit, who would assume this was the person underneath that mysterious alien power armour?
Depending on how many space stations she had visited, who knew how many people had seen her, but never suspected a thing?
They went to hand in the salvaged part, then reported to the briefing room. They delivered another account of their report in person for Command to match up with the one they transmitted. Afterwards they were told they’d get three days of R&R before the next mission, assuming no emergencies came up.
As they were walking away from the briefing room, Valentina kept glancing over at Samus. She didn’t know what Samus usually did for R&R, but this was Valentina’s chance to get to know her partner a little better. That was fine, right? Nothing unprofessional about just learning more about the person you’ll be working with.
“H-hey, c-cad- er… Samus?” she said, and the taller woman looked back at her. Valentina gulped. “D-do you want to go get something to eat, o-or… something?” She was painfully aware of how uncool that sounded, but Samus still smiled at her.
“Sure,” Samus replied. “Anything you recommend?” she asked, and Valentina cursed inwardly at how her heart skipped a beat.
Be professional, she chided herself. “T-there are a couple of places down b-by the crew quarters. W-we could go have a look,” she suggested.
“Okay, lead the way,” Samus said and looked ahead again, falling slightly behind Valentina so she could indeed follow.
A Federation space station didn’t exactly have the most exciting eating places, as it was fundamentally a military base, and without civilian traffic.
They ended up getting something that was basically a mess of meat, vegetables, and sauce. It honestly tasted better than it looked.
How do I start? What do I say? What do I ask? Valentina might be mildly panicking while picking at her food.
“Are you not hungry?” Samus suddenly asked, and Valentina jumped a little. She looked up, and Samus had already gotten started. Valentina blushed, and put on her best smile.
“Ah, I-I was just lost in thought…” she replied, and started eating. It was actually quite good. She shoveled in a couple of big bites as she decided what to ask first.
“S-so I was wondering… why d-did you join the Federation, Samus?” she asked, and tried to ignore her nerves as Samus looked up at her. Samus leaned back against her chair before answering.
“I can’t really talk about that… but we came to an arrangement,” she said, and smiled apologetically. That was absolutely not the answer Valentina had expected. An arrangement with who? Command? But before she could follow up, Samus asked her: “How about you?” Maybe best to leave the follow-up for later. Valentina wanted to also try to appear mysterious, but considering how uncool she’d already been in front of Samus twice, honesty might be a better policy than risking a third failure.
“W-well, my father is part of the Federation, and…” Valentina wondered if the next part was going to sound childish. “…I wanted to get away from my home settlement. It’s a pretty boring place, and I hoped for more, I-I guess…” She became very aware of Samus watching her with a lightly amused look. “I-I mean, I was hoping I m-maybe could make a difference somewhere f-for someone too!” Valentina was blushing now, and Samus’s smile grew a little wider before she broke into a gentle laugh that caught Valentina off-guard. She had expected it to sound different, somehow.
“Ah, sorry,” Samus said, noticing that Valentina seemed to be getting even more embarrassed by the second. “I’m not making fun of you, I just…” she gets a wistful look in her eyes. “I thought it sounded very nice.” Valentina’s embarrassment was blunted a little by confusion. “I don’t get to talk to people much,” Samus admitted. “So I’m sorry I made you feel bad.” She scooped in another mouthful of food.
“N-no, don’t worry about it,” Valentina said, trying to sound reassuring. “I can be a little awkward at times, especially with-” She quickly shut herself up. No, Valentina, don’t you dare say that out loud, she told herself sternly.
“With?” Samus asked with genuine curiosity. Valentina felt relieved that Samus hadn’t intuited that Valentina was just about to call her beautiful.
“W-with people I don’t know that w-well yet,” she said instead. Nice save, she thought. For a moment there was a look in Samus’s eyes that Valentina couldn’t read, but then it was gone, replaced with another smile. Valentina felt like she could get lost in those eyes, and she probably wouldn’t mind.
“I look forward to getting to know you that well, then,” Samus said. Was she teasing her now? Valentina felt like Samus might be teasing her. She went back to her food, pondering what to try asking next. At least Samus was more talkative without the armour on. Valentina wondered if that was intentional, or just something that happened automatically.
After finishing the food, Valentina suggested she could show Samus around the station. That should give her time to come up with more questions. She had entirely forgotten about her pledge to only be professional.