To fully understand what happened on Zebes, one must look back at the events which caused the downfall of the race of birds that called it home. Amidst its fall a prophesied hope was born that, once fulfilled, changed the tide of the war against the Metroids and their pirate tamers.
~The Chozo Historian
The cynical old bird perched upon the tall balcony of the Shrine of Prophesy. Her tall frame was surrounded by sculpted images of her race, Empresses from a long glorious past. She stood among them like a sculpted statue herself. Her chiseled beak protruded keenly beneath sharpened angry eyes, set in place like burning coals of fire. The burnished pupils took in the eternal cosmos with a calm finality. The constellation of the winged huntress pointed its talon towards a nearby yellow sun named Frru, the Chozo word for hope. Planet K2-L revolved around the star. It glimmered a mere 5 light-years away.
In ancient days, her people would have seen this as a sure sign of trouble for the planet. The Chozo had worked hard in moving away from the blindness of astrology. She herself encouraged this change toward the sciences. The bird was loath to admit that, in this one occasion, such a dubious reading of the stars would be quite accurate.
From K2-L’s perspective the winged huntress pointed at Zebes. War was coming to both planets whether they liked it or not.
Above the huntress sat the crimson moon, shimmering its pall red light towards Zebes. A shadow extended behind the stoic bird like a thin dark blade. She pondered the light-headed Counsels who trusted too much in their religious deity, Mother Brain.
Three more worlds had called in need of assistance, one of them was the human inhabited planet of K2-L. The pirates of space were getting bolder and bolder. And there she stood, the emphatic Empress of all Chozo, made into a mockery by these self-serving Counsels, forced to stand by and watch sentient beings slaughtered by the thousands.
‘Pacifism has its limitations,’ She had told the Counsels a few hours ago, ‘We cannot escape this war. The pirates will eventually turn their eyes towards us.’
‘Spoken like a true warrior of the hunt!’ Spat the Counsels’ ringleader, Argrramus. ‘How can we, protectors of all peace, ambassadors that have brought so many races together, break our sacred oaths? We must stand firm against the Space Pirates, but we mustn’t act rashly towards them.’
The Empress took a step towards her rival. Argrramus sat comfortably behind the ornamental dais. It was called the Righteous Thrown, a thrown that in times past was only inhabited by the Empress.
‘What do you mean we mustn’t act rashly towards them?’ She asked, ‘Planet K2-L is our neighbor. How long will we stand by and watch the nomadic brutes commit genocide against these brethren races?’
Argrramus said, ‘You fail to mention, dearest Empress, that the pirates have not directly attacked us. It is our peaceful nature that is protecting us from destruction. We can do more with that than brute force.’
The Empress cocked her head negatively, ‘Our peaceful nature will keep them back, but for how long? We aren’t lethal to them so yes, they aren’t attacking. But if we have something they want, then you can be sure they will take it through death and bloodshed. They will come for us eventually.’
Argrramus chirped at her in distaste, ‘Who made you judge and jury over the Space Pirates? How can you say what they will do? You dare to expound upon a race you have neither felt or known. Only an open-minded bird of prey can understand their quarry.’
‘That old sang is meant for hunting and fighting!’ Empress screeched, ‘Not to sit about waiting for death and old age.’
Argrramus sucked in the stiff air, ‘We are still hunters Empress. I crave the blood of the brood and his angry eyes, the screech of the bat, the challenge that such dumb beasts allow me. They were created by the Eminent One to be hunted. But any sentient beings must not be touched in that way. It is our sacred oath and duty to hunt for peace not bloodshed.’
The Empress said, ‘I too hunt for peace, understanding that sometimes the only way to find it is through bloodshed.’
Argrramus responded, ‘Bloodshed! You speak about it as if it were some sliver of wood. Here we are, living in peace, and yet, you say we should fight them? How many Chozo would die if you had it your way dearest Empress? We mustn’t fire the first shot, otherwise we shall be in the wrong and they in the right.’
The Empress had wanted to talk further but she had other things to attend to. He will be the death of us all, she had thought as she gave him a half bow and left for the Shrine of Prophesy.
There she stood waiting for her huntress-mate Kerrfu. She had received her most trusted advisore’s message early that morning: When the crimson moon reaches its apex , meet me upon the beak of the Shrine of Prophesy. I have a most delightful present for you.
The Empress had been waiting for nearly an hour. She stretched her elegant limbs, feathers bristling against the frigid air. Her amber eyes had wizened with age and did not shift like those of Argrramus. The Empress had lived one hundred and eighty-eight homeworld years, ninety of them as ruler of the Chozo Empire.
She pondered her position among the councils. Many generations ago, an Empress was given power over armies and fleets of spacecrafts. The Counsels were created to handle domestic issues. The Empress was once known as the emphatic commander and chief. Her office had simply become a symbol of power, a snake that had lost its fangs. It was reasoned that the Chozo Empire had grown too vast for one person to rule. Any ideas, good or bad, were thwarted by petty arguments and personal squabbles. In short, too many people were in charge.
The Chozo Empire courted their own demise like a ship flying near the event horizon of a black hole. Any one thing could tip it over. Many of the Counsels rejected one belief for another. The Emanate One was being replaced by a blind faith to some sort of Mother Brain. It was such heresies that kept them dumb to their mindless religion of pacifism. A mighty Mother Brain that makes them brainless, thought the Empress with wry frustration. She felt like the only sane one left, the only bird who stood in the way of the butcher.
On top of all this, her most trusted adviser had returned from a diplomatic mission to K2-L bearing a most unusual present. Why did it have to be Kerrfu that found it? Any lesser servant and she could ignore the implications. There were too many coincidences to be ignored here though. Of all the places Kerrfu landed, it just happened to be the one city where a single human survivor was found.
The Empress’ thoughts dispersed to all the possible outcomes of bringing an alien from K2-L. It was too late to ask why however. Now is the time to respond, she thought over and over like a broken computer recording.
The distant flutter of wings interrupted the Empress’ thoughts. She could just make out Kerrfu’s lathe form, flying against the wind with her tender burden. Now is the time to respond. The cynical old Chozo thought again. She turned away from the sky and entered into a chamber of shadows.
Minutes later, talons brushed the curtain aside. The pale red light of the moon shown inside. Kerrfu entered. The crimson moon was at once snuffed out by the curtains closing. Invisible claws scraped the floor into empty echoes.
The Empress whispered a low rumbling hum. Light emitted from a nearby power orb. It illuminated a cathedral-sized room with a soft orange haze. Two monstrous shadows were cast upon a wall richly carved with prophesies.
Kerrfu’s shadow opened her sharp beak and sang, ‘I am well fed, dearest Empress and you?’
The Empress waved her claw dismissively and opened her beak into a tense screech. ‘What is its name?’
Kerrfu responded more subdued like a purr, ‘We found her in a nameless city inhabited by the soft ones.’
‘That does not answer my question.’
‘She was the last of her kind on that planet. The pirates committed genocide, murdering everyone including her parents.’
‘Then it is nameless like so many distant stars in the cosmos, stars that will die without being studied or seen by sentient beings. You should have left it alone. Such is the way of things.’
‘She is not a forgotten star dearest Empress. We see her now. She can be studied by us. We can learn many great things from her. Such is the way of discovery for our people.’
‘You dare to lecture an Empress about the ways of her people?’
Kerrfu bowed five times, ‘I would never think to lecture you my Empress.’
‘Humans are like dark mater, asteroids of ice floating amiss in space. They have no sun to guide them. All they do is ram into every ship that passes, dead weight to be avoided. And you have brought one of their kind here, on this sacred planet of our homeworld!’
‘She has been flung at us by fate dearest Empress. We will be her sun and make a beautiful comet from her.’
‘Keep simple talks of fate for the weak-minded Kerrfu. Comets come and go. Would you have it be taught by us only to leave our ways? And yet your eyes, amidst all of my doubts, why do they grin at me?’
‘Because you haven’t felt her.’
‘What difference does it make? She isn’t Chozo. Nevertheless, to remove that annoying twinkle in your eyes… Humor me.’
Kerrfu unfolded the burden from her robes and placed a young human child gently on the ground. Crisp blue eyes half covered with glimmering strands of blonde hair looked up at the monstrous bird. Like a stone the girl stood resolute.
A talon unfolded from the Empress resting on the child’s head. The girl screamed in protest. The Empress caressed the strands of her hair until the screams suddenly stopped.
‘Ah! I see… her eyes! She has a depth to them! So small she is and yet even now I can sense the greatness that could be!’
‘Will be dearest Empress as we teach her.’
‘If she is taught by us, perhaps so, but she must be willing to learn: as dense as a star to capture our ways, malleable as plasma to change with them, yet explosive enough to create her own. What is her age?’
‘About six of our homeworld years, three of her’s.’
It was on a whim that the cynical bird spoke the next words. She never was one for predicting future events, and yet on that night she spoke beyond the present, ‘Then we shall christen her New Born… until a better name is earned.’
Kerrfu grinned at the irony of it. The Empress detected the irony. Her probing thoughts telepathically asked what was so ironic.
Kerrfu looked around the room, the stone etchings fluttered beneath the power orb’s soft haze, ‘You have just named her dearest Empress, as it was written to be, as it should be. Your hand touches the very thing you have debated against all these years.’
Empress pulled back her talon as if it were touching a flame. ‘I did not use the second form of the word as the prophets do. She was not called Newborn: sunderer that births our race anew. I used the first form of New Born: a hatchling chick that has just come out of her egg.’ The Empress indicated the carved walls around them, ‘Is this why you wanted to meet me here, atop the Shrine of Prophesy? You think this human is the chosen one to lead us towards victory? I’ve told you many times Kerrfu and I’ll tell you again, only the past can be set in stone.’
Kerrfu responded, ‘I do not believe the prophesy stones are so solid, yet they might allude to possibilities that if given the right circumstances, and proper training, can be self-fulfilling. Is this not how the Sunborn Child came so long ago?’
The girl began to cry. Empress chirped in disdain, ‘The human girl is weak and hungry Kerrfu. She has no time for silly riddles. It will take many years of training to make her strong and powerful as the prophesies profess the Newborn will be. She may stay for now, but only under my supervision. Please, go and find something to feed her with.’
Kerrfu bowed five times and sang, ‘I will feed her puddings and vegetables. Someday she will eat of her own kill. Who can feed her broken soul?’ Kerrfu enshrouded the little girl in her robes and backed away from the orange light, talons scraping the stony ground. Moonlight entered, a sharp crimson knife cutting the orange haze in two. The closing of the curtains placed the moonlight back in its sheath.
The Empress was lost to her thoughts then, mumbling, ‘Now truly is the time to respond.’ Here perusing eyes deftly read some ancient words written upon the stones of prophesy:
In the midst of genocide and terror, a seed of vengeance shale be birthed. So small he will be, and yet he shall grow into a powerful warrior. Change will be brought by him, a change that will decide the fate of all. Thus he shall be christened Newborn, sunderer that births our race anew. Only the pure of heart can wear the sentient power armor of old.
Some dirt covered the rest of the stone. Even the caregivers had little respect for this place.
She gently scrapped it away and read, When this day comes, the first sign will be a cynical one who professes again and again, ‘now is the time to respond’.
The Empress had to read it a few more times to be sure. Was the prophesy alluding directly to her? She had never seen a Prophesy come to pass this succinctly. Perhaps this feeble child was the Newborn they had been praying for. The Empress waved such acidic thoughts away. Belief was like a double-bladed knife, one side sharpened to do, the other dulled to be lazy and do nothing. If this Earthling child was who they had been hoping for, then she would earn the right to do so.
The Empress sighed at the political repercussions of it all, praying for belief’s sharper side to win the day. The last thing she needed during this coming war was apathy and laziness from her people.
She looked forlornly towards the Sunborn hallway. A soft light pulsed slowly from the distance. Would they ever find someone pure of heart to wear the ancient Varia Suit? Thousands of Chozo had tried, good hunters all of them. The armor had rejected them, consumed them into itself. Would this human child be worthy to overcome were others had not?
The Empress chirped twice at the power orb. It extinguished into darkness. Talons scraped upon the floor, echoing off prophetic stones that had stood for thousands of generations.
Word of New Born’s coming spread all over Zebes. Many pacifists heralded her as their guardian and protector. She would be taught to fight for them so that they might keep their sacred oaths of pacifism in the coming days. The extreme believers called her the second coming of the Sunborn. They said she should be tested at once with the ancient armor.
Despite the Empress’ misgivings, New Born was introduced to the Counsels. Many birds flew far and wide to see the presentation of the young girl. To the annoyance of Empress, the child’s name was rechristened to the prophetic form of Newborn. The Empress suspected it as another cult-induced choice, influenced by the blind faith to Mother Brain.
Kerrfu became the child’s guardian, which gave the Empress some sway in the child’s upbringing. And so the Empress’ most trusted adviser and fellow huntress made sure the little girl was taught to read, write, and speak in Chozo as well as in Human. She was taught the basics in hunting, and how to mourn effectively for her parents.
Two and a half Zebes Years passed for Newborn (nearly five Earth years). Each day began and ended with Kerrfu. The child was used to the routine. This concerned the Empress very much. A prophesied warrior should live a harder life.
During the Feast of Rest, Empress took Kerrfu aside and expressed her concerns. Kerrfu bowed five times and walked away. After the Holiday was complete, Newborn was taken from her room in Kerrfu’s house and placed in a room at the Hunting School. The Chozo do not cry often, Kerrfu did so after cuddling the girl and placing her in the new bed. Newborn didn’t see her tears. She had no idea the next day would be any different.