The whole bar goes silent when he walks in. Perhaps it's the heavy clunk of his armour or the strange sizzling of the gun in his hand. Within moments, everyone goes back to their own business, but some are still eyeing him curiously.
A Zebesian reaches under the table and pokes his acquaintance in the thigh.
"See that one? That's Weavel," He hisses under his breath.
"The metal guy?"
"Yeah, he's the Commander used to work down on Zebes. Y'know, before the evacuation."
The second Pirate glances over, trying not to make her staring too obvious. But she soon realises that Weavel won't see her anyway. He's sitting over at the bar, facing the counter without trying to catch the bartender's attention. The bartender is working more hastily than before- he already knows who's there.
"How does he drink?"
"Don't think he does. He's mostly just a power suit from what I've heard."
"How can someone be 'mostly just a power suit'?"
"He got pretty roughed up. Was trying to protect the Mother Brain and... Things got nasty."
"You mean the Hunter?"
"Yes, but keep your voice down. You don't want him to hear you, trust me."
Last thing he knew, something very hot and very painful had hit him square in the abdomen. It wasn't the kind of hot you get from a power beam. It was heavy, forceful enough to send him flying backwards and crack both his armour and exoskeleton against the wall. The gun in one of his arms had dislodged and fallen out between the claws. The other arm felt completely null, and it took him a minute to realise it was on the ground several feet away from the rest of him.
He tried to look around, but everything had a dark fuzz to it. Probably just the caverns. It was always dark down here. Worst place they could've posted him. Even Kraid's base had adequate lighting, skin-melting acid aside. Could've been worse. Could've been Norfair. Lava and sticky heat between the joints of his exoskeleton. No, he needed to focus on getting back on his feet. Not lava. By the Mother, why was it so hard to focus?
"...Going to knock you out so we can perform the procedure, yeah?"
Well wasn't this just a stroke of luck. Someone had managed to get in touch.
"Could've- could've- could've come a lot quicker but I'll take any help right now." The words came through the translator unsteadily. He'd much rather click and hiss in his own native tongue, but he had no idea who he was speaking to. Something told him Shock Beast. Maybe it was because of the dark hallucination of a Shock Beast pirate hovering over his head as he lay there.
"...The fluids. I don't think this is gonna be easy, but if we don't... High Command will be furi..."
"Yeah, yeah, I'm in Brinstar. I'm on patrol in Brinstar right now. Just- just f- fffff- I can tell you where I am. I'm... I'm by the Tourian gate."
"General, you are on board the Frigate Vol Paragom. We're about to conduct an operation to save your life. Do you remember?"
"W- Vol Paragom? How far above the surface are you? Is the Mothership..." Was there even a Mothership? He didn't really know any more. And his head HURT.
The figure of the Shock Beast paused. "Hm. D'you think he's suffering amnesia?"
"...Operate QUICKER then." A second voice came in from... Somewhere. Weavel was starting to think that maybe he wasn't in Brinstar, but he didn't remember moving, so it didn't make a lot of sense that he wouldn't be. He didn't know. He wanted to get out. He wanted to hit something. He couldn't move to do either of those things.
"Alright... Separate the CNS from the body and... Relieve the fluid tension... Worst comes to worst we're going to h... or High Command w..."
"Yeah. It was the Hunter."
The whole room goes completely still. The Pirate doesn't have time to look away before Weavel has spun around, so she just freezes in place, staring awkwardly at the armoured bounty hunter.
"And let me tell you," Weavel shoves his chair aside with such force that it leaves a dent in the bar, causing the patrons nearby to flinch. "It ain't some fun piece of gossip I like to go spreading around. That General Weavel got his ass kicked by some Federation lackey." He slams his gun on the counter. The noise reverberates beyond the room, and even animals on the street are startled. Everyone is quiet enough to hear them yowl and run.
"Well I want you to know something. You-" He takes a few heavy steps closer, gesturing towards the Pirate with a clenched fist. "Wouldn't last half a fucking second with the Hunter before your guts were shot out your back."
His metal face betrays nothing. He has no eyes, no mouth, nothing but a robotic voice which drips with intense displeasure. Nobody but Weavel himself is able to catch the moment where his vision strays to the Zebesian. He allows his mind to wander back- just briefly- but as far as everyone else is concerned, he is still staring the other Pirate in the face like a predator glaring down its prey, waiting to lunge.
"Are you going to explain to me what the-"
"N-now calm down, General. This was an emergency procedure. We had no alternative, o-or else we would have lost you."
He couldn't see his own face, but his body was that of an exposed robot; coloured wires tangled around metal boxes and computer chips, feeding into false limbs and converging around a torso that did not belong to him. As he tried to clack his claws together, he found human-like fingers clenching instead. Disturbingly human-like.
Nothing matched up. His own brain was the only thing left, desperately seeking out body parts that he just couldn't find. Every time he tried to do something, it produced the wrong response. He tried to kick with a long Zebesian leg and made a slight motion with a metal one instead. He tried to let out a hiss of displeasure, but all that came through was a grating metallic sound.
"If I'm so important then why did you shove me in a tin can suit?"
"We- we were limited on resources after the Zebes incident. We've had to reinforce the minor outposts and a- a- a-"
He wasn't satisfied with the way this humanoid hand gripped the surgeon's neck. It didn't have the same strength behind it as a Zebesian claw.
"G-General." The other surgeon was backed against the wall, slowly reaching for a stunning weapon on the desk. "P-please put him down. We were only following orders."
Weavel really, REALLY wanted to just snap the surgeon's neck there and then, but lacking the strength to do so, he just dropped him, applying a little force to push him off his feet. That was about as much satisfaction as he was going to get right now.
"H-High Command wanted us to keep you alive, but you- you aren't the only one. Mission Captain Sclayd and General Kraid are currently receiving treatment on the Frigate Siriacus, and General Ridley is on the Orpheon."
"Is that it?"
"Yes. Our forces were stormed."
Weavel tried to kick something- ANYTHING- but again, there was little impact. "Then when do I get out?"
"As soon as we've finished the modifications, General. Your body was beyond repair, so we transferred as much of your central nervous system as we could to a power suit."
"Trash suit more like. Which rubbish pile did you take this thing from?"
"Our resources are l-"
"DON'T SAY THAT AGAIN."
Weavel wanted to run, or fight, or hiss, or bite something, or just vent all this frustrated energy in ANY way he could. This body was too small for him. He used to be bigger, and now he was pathetically tiny. He'd been born and bred a fighter, a monster among Zebesians, and now he was this. What was this, High Command's punishment for not defending the gate? Hell no it wasn't, because he knew Ridley and Kraid were probably getting the finest treatment of their lives right now, and they'd literally been PART of the gate.
No, he just deserved the leftovers because he wasn't a unique beast like them. Oh, they liked the way his mind worked, but he wasn't irreplaceable. They'd have a new Zebesian commander designed and spawned within a month. Or maybe not, given how poor of a job the Zebesians had done defending Zebes. The only thing they'd had going for them was the Mother Brain's favouritism, and now she was a pile of rubble too.
"Get me... Water."
The surgeons cocked their heads (one feeling a sharp pain in his injured neck as he did so).
"General, uh... We can inject the fluids into your su-"
"I don't care HOW you do it, just get me something NOW."
They bolted. Both of them at once. Just what he wanted, some peace. Just for a moment.
He stared down at the exposed robot innards of his new body. It reminded him, somewhat grimly, of what he thought he'd seen after that Federation bounty hunter shot him down. Except there was less organic material and more metal. Hopefully they'd close it all up soon, and then let him go wander around in his new body and have a fun old time being the laughing stock of the Pirate forces.
Would anyone take him seriously like this? He looked like a...
He looked like a human.
He loathed it. It felt wrong on every level, and even worse, all he could see when he looked at this suit was the figure of the one who'd blasted his body- his TRUE body- to smithereens. And he wanted to curse, shout, demand a new suit of armour for what was left of him, but there was one thing that held him back from snapping.
They were all scared of humans too. She had been a human and she hadn't just defeated the Pirates. She'd obliterated them.
He relaxed his fake muscles. Maybe they'd underestimated humans. Those flimsy Federation-panderers who bred like geemers and died if you so much as whistled in their direction. Except perhaps not. No doubt the Pirates would be looking at ways to become whatever she was, to take on her body, armour and weapons. Maybe he was their first test subject.
Maybe there was a gap in the market now they knew what human mercenaries were capable of.
Weavel seriously considered it. He'd probably fare better on his own than leading squads of hopeless buffoons to their deaths anyway.
Amid the murmurs of conversation, and the occasional daring shout of a particularly rowdy patron, the two Pirates sit in total silence. Both still have Weavel in their line of sight, just in case he turns around and decides he needs a punching bag. They've already labelled themselves as targets.
"M-maybe we should go." The Zebesian suggests to his accomplice, but she shakes her head. She isn't just anticipating an attack- she's listening very carefully to the conversation Weavel is having with the bartender.
"And where'd you hear that?"
"Hm. Patron, 'bout a week ago. Used to come in all the time, tends to sit over in the corner there."
Weavel doesn't even turn around to look.
"Haven't seen them in a while, but they said they've fought her in the past. Or they met her, anyway. Seemed to know a little bit, but could be fake for all I know. Lies or guesswork. Well, uh, I hope that helps and uh, pass my regards onto the Commander, uh, if that's who's got you on the job."
Weavel makes a lot of noise as he stands. By now, the people in the room have adjusted, and nobody pays him much attention as he strides out of the building. He pauses at the door to whisper something in the ear of the bouncer, an alien almost twice his height and bulk who seems nonetheless alert and jumpy in his presence. It's impossible for the Pirate to hear what he is saying.
When he's gone, the Zebesian jabs his friend in the leg again.
"I TOLD you to stay quiet."
"Hey, I did. Kinda."
"Well, glad he's gone. Now we can actually enjoy an evening. Say, I'll go grab us something before 449 and 563 turn up, what d'you fancy?"
"Uuh..." The Pirate isn't paying attention. She's distracted by a flash from outside, which a few other people seem to notice- a bright green that leaves a glare in her eyes for a moment, followed by what sounds like an explosion. Since no major disturbance follows, she can only assume it was just a weapon's fire, if a pretty hefty weapon. Maybe on a passing animal, maybe on a target, who knows. She's just glad she isn't on the wrong end of that one.