The Tenno were likened unto gods. They are immortal, clad in divine armor, with the Void coursing through them in place of blood. They have bathed in the waters of the hellspace, and emerged reborn, literally and figuratively...yet for all their majesty, one fact remains true despite all the propaganda and the skewed stories of angels and demons: they are still human.
-from “End of Ages: The Story of the Sentient War”, by Hashamel Sikuzo, 4352 I.A.
Location: Local Cluster, Origin System, The Belt, The Cairn, Station Proper, Command Sector, Primary Transit Hub, Security Checkpoint
Date: September 25, 643 P.C.
The Cairn was divided into two major parts: the external hangars and the station proper. The station proper was in turn divided into numerous sections based on function. In a rare show of pragmatism over profit, the Corpus had long ago installed an internal tram system to speed transport between the various zones. Right now, those trams were all in lockdown, including those that had still been in transit to their various destinations. It wasn’t the most efficient course of action, but even with the return of the Tenno, the Corpus internal bureaucracy had still not yet evolved a fool-proof solution to dealing with an incursion by the agents of the Lotus. It was futile gesture at best, as even on foot, some Tenno were actually faster than the trams themselves, which was saying much, since they could achieve speeds of dozens of kilometers per hour when the situation called for it. Still, they were the fastest means of traversing the insides of the station, and as such, needed to be denied to any unauthorized personnel.
With this in mind, the Crewmen guarding the entrance to the transit hubs stood ready, waiting for someone to try and take one of the trams, or, profit forbid, for an uninvited tram to come in.
“Hey, you guys think they’ll actually manage to make it here?” one of the Crewmen asked.
“Hope not. If they can get through everything between the hangars and here, we’re all dead.” another answered. There was an ominous silence,
“Anyone know if we can quit early?” one of the group asked tentatively.
“Only if you want to have some face-time with the administrator.” his closest squadmate replied evilly.
“Oh shut it, all of you!” The Tech in charge of the squad ordered. “You’re all whimpering like some band of spineless colonists! They have no chance of making it all the way here. Even if they managed to take out everyone between us and them, they’ll be either dead tired, or actually dead by the time they get here. And besides, I don’t care what the stories say, there’s no way in the universe they’re getting through these blast doors!” The Tech rapped his knuckle against the meter thick door on the security checkpoint before gesturing with one thumb back over his shoulder at the set of identical doors covering the tram tunnels.
“But what about the trams?” the nervous Crewman who had previously spoken asked, “Couldn’t they just use it to get to us?”
“Pfft!” The tech snorted, “There’s no way they can hack past our firewalls! They-” The tech stopped before finishing his tirade. In the distant, the throbbing of a mag-lev engine on overdrive was becoming louder and louder. His eyes widened inside his helmet. They wouldn’t, would they?
As it turned out, they would.
The throbbing turned to the WHOOSH of a tram, moving at a speed that far outstripped its safe maximum, before terminating in an explosion that slammed against the blast doors covering Tram Tunnel 4 with the force of a meteor. The impact, by design, triggered the makeshift micro-fusion explosive sitting within, which had been crafted from about thirty looted plasma grenades.
Back along the course of the tunnel, pressed low to the floor and safe behind a bend in the corridor, Nathan smirked in his helmet as the fireball lit up the dimly illuminated track. The blast doors had been detailed in the plans the Lotus had provided, and he had made special note that they were rated to withstand crashes by runaway trams. Instead of trying to think of a solution prior to entry, he had simply inquired what their maximum strength was from the Lotus, then crafted a bomb fit to overcome those limits from available materials. It hadn’t been as hard as he had thought it would be; Deslin had proven that in addition to heavy weapons, he was quite good at handling explosives, as well as making them.
Slowly, he pushed himself back up as the blast subsided.
“That should have them good and disorganized.” Inigo commented behind him.
“So long as they’re in too much of a mess to provide a comprehensible report to their superiors, we’re safe.” he commented. He turned back to Deslin, who was shouldering his Supra.
“The other tram’s detonated on schedule?” he asked. The Frost-wearer nodded. They had rigged multiple trams for high-speed crashes and detonations as they passed through the network, planning to use the simultaneous explosions to confuse both the guards at the transit hub checkpoints and those they answered to as to where they actually were. Some quick hacking by Inigo had ensured they would remain invisible to the station’s internal sensors, though he could not lift the Code Purple lockdown, which was already in effect. The air vents and tram system had been the only way they had gotten this far, moving from tunnel to tunnel, avoiding the sealed gates between sectors.
“You know, you’d think after a while they’d make the vents smaller.” Deslin chuckled.
“Actually they’re large like they are because they’re supposed to act as emergency corridors should certain areas be blocked off. Also, they act as maintenance corridors.” Nathan said, “You ever wonder why there’s so many systems that run parallel to those tubes? That’s so engineers can get to them easily.”
“Really?” Deslin asked, his tone communicating mild surprise.
“Yep.” Nathan replied, “Sometimes it pays to know.” He shrugged.
“Let’s go see who’s still standing.” he chuckled.
Location: Local Cluster, Origin System, The Belt, The Cairn, Station Proper, Engineering Sector, Reactor Cooling Shaft C Emergency Access Platforms
“I swear by Hayden’s name, I am going to KILL him!” Follower roared as he split open a pair of Crewmen who had tried to rush him in a fit of suicidal bravery sending their upper and lower bodies flying in different directions. Follower had heard of the saying that no battle plan survived contact with the enemy, but Nathan’s bungle had taken it to a whole new level. He delivered a quick side-kick to a third Crewman, sending him stumbling backwards and over the railing into the low-gravity of the shaft, which meant he was instantly blown ‘skywards’ by the rush of super-heated air from the reactor ‘below’.
“Calm down, boss.” the Frost, Corvus called out, sending out an Ice Wave, catching four MOAs. Icicles sprouting from the steel floors, skewering the machines before evaporating into the air. “They won’t slow us down much. We’ll get there before anyone wise’s up.”
“Corvus’s right! They’re no problem!” Katya, the Mag twirled about, diving into a cluster of Corpus before raising her hand in the air. Void energy burst from her palm and in a fit of creativity, she unleashed a modified version of the basic Shield Polarization technique all Mag-wearers were trained to use. Where the original was meant to be used on a single target though, this one unleashed a wave of energy that turned her allies into energy attractors, sapping the shields of their enemies to replenish their own.
“Can it, you two!” Follower snarled. “I’m not concerned about them!” As he spoke, he he took the opportunity to eviscerate another five Crewmen with his borrowed Gram, vaulting over the crates they had been using as cover before butchering them with the wide-bladed claymore. Nathan had loaned him the ‘ugly’ weapon after the battle with Vor. Seeing as it was the only melee weapon with a reasonable reach on it that anyone had on hand aside from a Bo staff, he had been forced to choose between those two, or being stuck with his spare Heat Sword which was not a tenable choice when faced with energy shields. “I’m more concerned about the rest of station!”
“He’s right.” Aelina agreed, hanging back with her Vectis rifle, blowing apart Techs and the rare Railgun MOA from range. “Like Corvus said, we have to worry about some idiot getting the bright idea of blowing us all to hell somehow, or worse, squawking like a panicked Raochster to everything within a couple million kilometers!” She punctuated her statement with a headshot that sent a Tech flying backwards head over heels as the sheer mass of her weapon’s ammunition transferred its momentum to his corpse on the way through his skull. The body smashed into a phalanx of MOAs, sending the spindly-legged machines crashing to the deck beneath his bulk.
“Oh, we’ll be fine!” Corvus retorted. “I was just being melodramatic before. It’s not like anyone here would be smart enough to realize they’re losing already.”
“Yeah,” Katya agreed, “Do you really think anyone would actually consider blowing this place up to stop us?” She fired off another arrow from her Cernos, aborting the ground-slam of a Shockwave MOA and sending it flying backwards through the crowd of standard MOAs behind it, knocking over its allies like bocci pins until it ran up against a wall.
As if in response to the two’s words, the meager lighting lining the platform shut down, causing all present to suddenly pause. Seconds later, the pale blue glow was replaced by faint iridescent whirling beams of red from emergency lights.
“Warning, reactor safeties disengaged. Estimate five minutes until catastrophic meltdown. Code Purple protocols engaged.”
Despite the number of Corpus gunning to put their heads on a pike, Follower and Aelina took the time to glare at their two squadmates. “Really, did you just have to tempt Murphy?” Follower deadpanned. The two shrugged sheepishly before drawing their melee weapons, Corvus extending his Venka claws while Katya drew her Zoren hand-axes.
“We’ll discuss this later.” Follower growled irritably, glancing over his shoulder as their enemies pulled back, ”For now, cleave your way through!” With the silent fury of a true Tenno, he rushed after the fleeing Corpus, his squad not far behind. Before the Crewmen and MOAs could regroup, they found themselves dragged backwards by Katya’s expert Pull technique, bringing them into range of Follower’s blade, while Corvus simply raised his hand and called forth a veritable mountain of ice, which he then dropped on the heads of those enemies who had reached cover. Red snow covered the catwalk, over which the Tenno rushed, hoping to reach the auxiliary controls for the core before the entire Cairn became an expanding cloud of gas. As he ran, Follower opened up a channel to Nathan.
“You’ve got five minutes, you numbskull.” he growled.
Location: Local Cluster, Origin System, The Belt, The Cairn, Station Proper, Command Sector, Outside Central Operations Chamber, Primary Access Corridor
“I heard.” Nathan shot back as he leaned around a corner and pinned another Crewman to the wall with his Goblin rifle before ducking back out of the way of the hailstorm of plasma that came in response.
“Then why aren’t you inside yet?” hissed his friend.
“Well…” Nathan said, taking another potshot, “they were a bit more well-defended than we thought. We’re right outside the control center, but we used up most of our energy reserves getting here. Now we’re at the end of a two-hundred-meter-long choke-point with what has to be thirty hostiles at the far end, ready to smear us into the deck if we try to rush them.”
“Aren’t there any bodies you could loot?” Follower asked. It was standard for Tenno to rip the capacitor nodes out of enemy equipment to recharge their Warframe reserves, which allowed them to tap the Void more easily. The little blue spheres were even more prolific than Fieldrons or Orokin Cells, both of which were useful, but nowhere near as portable or easy to make. The Grineer used them in their cybernetics, while the Corpus used them for their helmet power systems and secondary robotics. Normally Nathan would’ve had his squad scavenge from the dead, but the sanitation implants had kicked in before he could properly loot the last group they had cut down. Now they were all at a mere twenty-five percent, and for all their modifications, even Nathan couldn’t manage more than a Radial Blind technique on that.
“Presume there aren’t.” Nathan replied. There was the sound of grinding teeth from the other end of the channel.
“Alright, what about explosives?”
“If you mean grenades, no.” Nathan said,
“I don’t mean grenades.” Follower snorted. Nathan nodded and looked around. It was common for the Corpus and Grineer to leave around tanks of Hydrazine fuel, commonly used in ship thrusters. Technically it was supposed to always be stored in cool, dry places, but the red barrels always seemed to have a way of getting left around. Though he saw none, he quickly remembered spying three of the things back the way they had come. He glanced over to the far side of the hall, where Inigo and Deslin were crouched, making their own attempts to whittle down the Corpus’ bastion of bodies.
“Inigo,” he hissed, ”I need some Hydrazine, can you get it here?” The Loki-wearing warrior nodded, knowing precisely what his commander intended.
“I’ll have it here in forty seconds.”
“You’ve got twenty.” Nathan growled. Another nod, and Inigo vanished, using what was left of his energy to cloak himself in an Invisibility technique. His soft footfalls meant the Corpus, at the far end of the makeshift killbox, heard nothing and saw nothing of his departure, or of his return thirty two seconds later, a large barrel in each hand.
“Nice work.” Nathan said as the man de-cloaked. He could hear him panting a little as he spoke. The effort of extending the technique to the barrels on such low energy had probably taken a toll. It wouldn’t take long to fix it though, not if Nathan’s plan worked.
“Deslin, roll those things down the corridor.” he ordered. The Frost-wearer balked.
“But sir, they’ll see them coming from fifty meters away! They’ll never get close enough to-”
“Trust me.” Nathan said. The radio squawked again, and Follower’s voice came through.
“Nathan! We’re almost to the reactor. Corvus is freezing sub-reactors as we find them! We’ve got four so far, so you’ve got another three minutes…probably. Make them count!”
“More than enough time.” Nathan said, grinning and doing a little more math in his head. He turned to Seito.
“Can you give us your Speed?” he asked. The Volt-wearer nodded. Nathan smirked.
“Good.” He turned back to Deslin and nodded. His movements communicating his doubt, the Frost-wearer dived out into the firing zone and whirling in place, hurled the two heavy red cylinders down the passage. They hit the deck rolling, and as Deslin dropped to the ground to avoid the incoming fire, they detonated, the plasma of the Corpus weapons rupturing them and filling the space with flaming fumes.
“Now!” Nathan commanded. Seito nodded in return and waved his hand, spreading a Speed technique over the group. Nathan loved the feeling. It felt as if every part of him were buzzing with a mild electric current and the world around him had slowed to a crawl. In truth, he was moving very, very fast.
Unable to see through the settling fog of Hydrazine, the Corpus stopped firing. It proved to be a fatal mistake. Tenno were taught to move silently, even at a dead sprint. When Nathan lunged through the white and orange fog, his body a blur, there was precisely zero time for the Corpus to react. In moments he was upon them, Slash Dashing through their ranks, Dragon Nikana flashing to and fro.
Moments later his compatriots followed, Inigo putting a round through a Prod Crewman that had been about to charge Nathan as he worked his way through a kata, slicing and dicing two Techs. Some of the startled soldiers tried to regroup, a testament to the strength of Corpus indoctrination, but Deslin mowed them down as they dived for cover. Seito lent his support by flanking their foes, running up the wall of the antechamber the corridor opened onto and using the Van Der Waals strips on the soles of his feet to sprint along the walls until he was behind the entrenched corporate warriors, spraying fire with his Afuris all the way. He landed with a thud amidst the hostile forces and before they could do anything, he drew his Pangolin blade.
From there, it descended into a blood-soaked nightmare. Seito was a great swordsman, and while not as experienced as Nathan, he had a method all his own. Where Nathan was graceful and every move seemed to follow some great plan, as if the entire fight were choreographed, Seito was an electric demon, his Speed technique turning him into a blurred, crackling cyclone with sharp edges. His movements were so erratic and chaotic that even the Prod Crewmen hesitated to approach, unsure of which way to swing lest a poorly chosen angle of attack cost them their heads or other limbs.Between the long-range death of Inigo, the laser-storm provided by Deslin and the two blade-masters, they never stood a chance. When it was over, Inigo walked up to stand beside Nathan.
“I didn’t know Hydrazine worked like that.” he said.
“It’s a heavy substance.” Nathan chuckled, bending down to rip the desirable blue nodes from his fallen foes before they could dissolve. He wasn’t going to get caught like that again…
“The fumes tend to linger in the air like an Ash-wearer’s Smoke Screen.” he continued.
“They might not have stopped firing though.” Deslin pointed out.
“I made a calculated gamble...well actually not much of a gamble.” he admitted, “It’s a bit complex, but I figured they’d keep the best soldiers here, at the entrance to the command center. Best soldiers means best trained, hardest to shake up. They’d know better than to blnd-fire down a choke point when working with limited ammunition, which they’d have to be, since the nearest armory is four corridors over.”
“So they conserved themselves to death?” Inigo chuckled, “Sounds very Corpus.” Nathan laughed.
“Greedy to the end.” he snorted. He nodded to the nearest control console, located next to the command center door.
“Get us in.” he commanded.
“I’m on it.” Inigo answered. He drew a small black device from a hidden compartment in his shoulder, a pre-built e-warfare tool known as a ‘cipher’. It was made to brute-force its way through any potential digital obstacles, perfect for opening doors and other simple tasks. He plugged it into the octagonal control console with not a trace of fanfare, causing the red lights on the heavy blast door that had sealed the control center to turn green. The sound of heavy locks disengaging emerged from the barrier and with a hiss, it slid open.
It revealed a scene of absolute carnage. The Security Guild functionaries, command-level technicians who had been trained in operating starships and space stations, littered the deck. Nathan could see no obvious wounds, but he knew the kind of zeal on which second-circle members of the Corpus operated. He’d bet good money each and every one had crunched a cyanide pill, rather than be taken captive. It was a common issue when conducting capture missions against them. In the midst of the death stood a single Crewman, his pitch-black suit and helmet markings identifying him as the station’s master. All top-rank Corpus Guildsmen wore such garb, and Nathan’s Codex was very complete. In his right hand he held an outdated Alta plasma pistol.
“Hit’che ku’che, kitu pu-ye, Tenno.” he said. Then he pressed the barrel of the gun to his chest, where the heart was, and pulled the trigger. Nathan didn’t even flinch. He’d seen the extent to which the members of the Corpus’ second and third circles of power would go to in order to serve their masters. The commander’s suicide was far from the worst of it.
He stepped over the bodies and into the room, his squad close behind. He took a moment to flick the blood and viscera from his Nikana before sheathing it and shouldering his Goblin rifle again. Behind him, Deslin swept the room with his Supra, then let the barrel drop.
“Clear.” he said.
“Oh no…” Inigo said.
“What?” Nathan asked. The man didn’t answer. He just pointed at the large circle of screens hanging over the center of the room.
The central operations chamber was built to reflect the shape of the station it was part of. Unlike a ship, it didn’t have thrusters at the back and weapons at the front. As a result, it was much the control centers of the ancient sea-borne carrier-ships of Earth, though centered around a large group of hanging holographic screens. All of these screens showed a countdown in Corpus, which Nathan quickly translated as ‘00:00:04:45’. Beneath it, a small line of text flashed on and off in red.
‘Command-Level Authorization Accepted’
“Well fuck me sideways…” Nathan spat. The Corpus commander hadn’t been satisfied with just blowing them all up. Clearly he hadn’t had faith in his defenses. Usually in such a situation, the vessel commander would rely on his soldiers or physical barriers to prevent intruders from stopping a self-destruct. This one though, had used special codes to lock out all attempts made by anyone other than him to defuse the detonation.
Nathan cursed himself. He should’ve shot the weapon out of the man’s hand and gotten Kasumi to pry the codes out of him. Now it was too late...unless he tried something radical.
“Seito, have you studied Warlord Eldred’s works on unorthodox Void channelling?” he asked.
“Yes, sir.” he responded, looking at his commander, “Why do you ask?”
“I need you to do some wire-pulling.” Seito hesitated before speaking again.
“Sir, I am not exactly the best at that form of Void-channelling.”
“You’re the only one we’ve got.” Nathan retorted, “Besides, it’d take too long to try and do a hard bypass.” He glanced over at Inigo.
“Am I right?” he asked. The stealth-specialist nodded grimly. Nathan turned back to the Volt-clad swordsman.
“I’ll lend you my power. If necessary we all will, but you need to do this...or we all go up in smoke.”
Stepping up to one of the consoles, Seito took a deep breath. Electricity began arcing across his body as he drew upon his reserves, focusing on his arms, before stabbing them into the console itself. For Seito, the world went from color to a grid of electric blue. He no longer saw the walls of the room, but a network of power relays and circuits, enmeshed so tightly they were almost a solid wall. He dived into that, his consciousness growing and spreading to fill the network.
He kept himself focused though. A Tenno undertaking this kind of task had to keep themselves centered or they might lose their connection to their physical form. It was so easy to be enticed by the liberation of being formless, shapeless, to be pure energy unbound from the flesh. He was as fast as thought, and no barrier could defeat him. Down through the networks he plunged, sifting through data like sand, looking for the switch amidst a million other switches that would save him and his comrades from destruction.
When he finally found it, he winced. In the world of metaphors and hard lines of light he now occupied, the pivotal mechanism took the shape of a lever encased in diamond. In the electric no-space, he drew a sword made of concept and readied himself. This would take some effort…
As Follower lashed out to cleave another Crewman in two, the red lights that had been the sole source of illumination in the chamber shut down, plunging everything into a pitch blackness lit only by plasma fire from Corpus guns, muzzle flashes of Tenno weapons and the the glow of the slitted visors in the helmets of the surviving Crewmen. Follower braced himself, instinctually preparing for imminent vaporisation, when just as suddenly, the normal dull blue lighting came back on. Inside his helmet, he smirked.
“Problem solved.” Nathan said simply over the comms.
“You cut it pretty damn close!” the Rhino-clad veteran snorted, “We were down to forty seconds and Corvus ran out of sub-reactors to ice at sixty.” He gave the Gram a careful swing to throw off most of the remaining mix of blood and hydraulic fluids before putting it on his back.
“Keep that location secure, and by secure I mean, plant your ass there or I swear you will be walking home, mekt-cha!” he growled, punctuating the statement with a Grintok curse. If there was one thing the language was good for, it was swearing. It certainly lent sting to the insults. He un-holstered his twin Lex pistols and absently put a round through the skull of a Sniper Crewman who had thought his Lanka made him a match for the reflexes of a Tenno.
“Squad,” he bellowed into his comms, “Move up!”
On his orders, a deadly ballet began.
Aelina blew another hole in a Corpus Tech with her Vectis as he charged forward in a mad attempt to cut down the Tenno with sustained fire from his Supra. Even as the shell ejected from her rifle, she raised her hand, Void energy collecting within her chest, before she redirected it outwards and slammed her hand to the ground.
In an instant, the green light of the Void as-channeled by a Trinity-wearer exploded from all four Tenno, supercharging their shields and indeed, their very bodies, the raw, power providing an impenetrable barrier of protection while sapping the energy from everything that came in range. As a result, the Tennos’ own energy reserves were instantly restored, as the Void itself flowed through them like a raging torrent, contained and controlled by nothing more than pure will, saturating their cells with the power of raw creation, stimulating regeneration at an unparalleled rate, to the point when wounds healed even as they were inflicted.
Then, as the healing power of the Blessing technique reached its peak, Katya dived once again into the cluster of recalcitrant Corpus, except this time, she had no intention of simply shattering their shields. And she wasn’t alone, Corvus was her. Standing at the center of the mass of Corpus, the Tenno stood back to back as fear and desperation flowered within their enemy.
Drawing a hand into the air, Katya focused her power. Corpus and MOAs began screaming and shrieking in electronically-filtered voices as they were lifted into the air by a distorted field of energy that might’ve been mistaken for magnetism for someone unfamiliar with the true nature of a Tenno’s powers. At the same time, Corvus raised his own hand, a chill spreading through the air. Snow began to fall, in small flakes at first, but with increasing size and intensity, becoming hail with increasing speed as he prepared the Avalanche technique. Crewman and MOA alike began to fall silent as the fluids inside them froze as well, the ice spreading outwards and coating them in white rime.
Finally, when it seemed as though all the assailants were caught in the combined attack, Katya raised her hand and finished her Crush technique. Slamming her hands together, the energy field she had used to trap her foes took hold of their ferrous components and squeezed them inwards, as if each enemy were caught in an enormous fist. Bodies and robotics imploded as cybernetic implants, suit components and servos sought their opposites, only to shatter into thousands of pieces as Corvus made a fist and then opened it with a flick of the wrist, sending a sharp blast of frigid wind outwards to smash the suspended survivors against the walls..
In less than sixty seconds, an entire force of eighty crack Corpus Security Guild personnel had been reduced to either red slush, slowly melting as the room warmed again, or shrapnel imbedded in the walls. This was why the Tenno were so feared; not for their skill with blade and gun, but for their ability to work together, with devastating results...and as he stepped over the remains of the massacre towards his objective, Follower knew it wouldn’t be long before that fear would have consequences. However he may have approved of their skill, time would tell if the Tenno would remain relatively hidden, or be known by all.
Location: Local Cluster, Origin System, The Belt, The Cairn, Station Proper, Administration Sector, Offices of Director Scyler Murkhoff
Harkness listened to the banter idly as he worked his way through the Shockwave MOAs blocking the path. The Administrative Sector was, out of all the semi-self-contained components of the Cairn, probably the smallest, housing only the offices of the facility’s director, a few Second Circle overseers and the head of security, also of the Second Circle.
As a ‘merchant cult’ the Corpus had developed a layered society above the one they controlled. Those in the Third Circle acted as menial labor and lesser agents, running the many corporations that were the face of the Corpus. The Second Circle was for functionaries who were higher up the chain of command. The Security Guild and all its members fell within this ring, save for a very few individuals who had the power or influence to be part of the Corpus aristocracy, the First Circle, at the heart of which sat the Honorable Board of Directors, whose decisions shaped the commerce of the Origin System. By the looks of his offices, the facility’s director must’ve been First Circle, or at least inner Second Circle. They had an opulence about them that made him hesitate to desecrate them with battle. Luxury was something Tenno seldom had the chance to experience for very long, and while he’d seen more than most, this only gave him a better taste for it.
The wooden furniture was obviously mahogany from the special farms that survived on land loaned by the Grineer, back on Earth, which despite outward appearances was still resisting the toxic influence of its brutal masters. The disappearance of the reddish shine the stuff had when a MOA tried to shoot him through it made him wince. Still, it was the only cover to be had, and the damn things just kept coming…
“This is Harkness,” he said into the radio, “I’m happy we’re not exploding, but could you possibly do something about the robots? They’re getting pushy.” There was a snort of amusement from Nathan’s channel before a response came through.
“We’ll see what we can do from here, but it’s up to Kasumi to disable the Control Servers.”
“I’m almost there. I’ve got-” Screams and gunfire, along with the hiss of flames, cut out whatever Kasumi might have said before it died out. “As I was saying, I’ve got Yuriko on it.” she finished. There was a cackling from her squad’s channel.
“Burn, you bottom-feeders!!!” laughed the Ember-wearer she had chosen as part of her force. There was a roar of static. In his mind’s eye, Harkness could see her as flames erupted from the floors and her body in great gouts and torrents of orange and red, flash-frying her foes, some literally being cooked inside their own suits as the heat rose faster than their internal coolant systems could compensate. The MOAs would explode most likely as the intense flame boiled their hydraulic fluids, and sure enough, he heard the bangs of shattering machinery as his vision came to pass.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t as though the Ember-wielder in question was a pyromaniac. If anything, she was a surgeon with her flames, killing, but in a manner that ensured no suffering. Death came quickly for all caught by her touch, while those outside it would be unnerved and nearly broken by the sights and sounds of their comrades’ deaths. It didn’t mean she didn’t get a sense of satisfaction from killing these forsaken, money-grubbing scumbags.
“Sounds like someone’s having fun…” Harkness said, rolling his eyes.
“I think she’s been listening to that music Nathan brought back from his last dig.” Kasumi commented.
“Try to keep her from just melting the machinery.” Nathan said, “We need as much of the hardware intact as possible if this place is to be of any use.”
“Understood.” his lover responded. Harkness popped out of cover and put two rounds through the primary sensor node of another MOA with his Vasto revolvers, dual-wielding the weapons in an Akvasto set. The weapons spun on his fingers as he twirled them like a gunslinger of the ancient west, and three more shots took out a set of Crewmen who had decided to try and defend their masters’ assets.
Quite suddenly, all the robots in the chamber froze, some toppling over as their internal gyroscopes froze with them, crashing to the floor.
“Got it!” Yuriko announced, “Locked them all in a diagnostic mode. By the time they come out of it, I’ll have them fighting for us…”
“Wonderful.” Harkness said, and fired his last rounds into the head of the last remaining defender, a Prod Crewman who’d been rushing him with a suicidal scream, Prova shock-stick held high as if he meant to try and pound him into the ground like a nail. He fell forward with almost comical grace and skidded to a halt at Harkness’ feet. For a moment, sweet silence reigned in the room…
“Clear the area. Those blasted automations might be down, but someone else might still be here. Those Crewman were dedicated to this position for a reason, and I’ll be consumed by the Void if we leave without knowing what.” As they moved out to execute his orders, he added, “And check your corners, something just feels wrong about this place.”
“Let’s hope it’s not like that bureaucrat’s office I raided on Europa last month.” Ursus, the squad’s Rhino-wearer said distastefully.
“Why, what happened there?” , .
“Well the little slime-ball had already made himself scarce, so I figured why not grab some loot for the cause?” he chuckled darkly, “Of course when I cracked open his vault I found some...well, let’s just say he liked kids a little too much...”
“Oh, sweet Hayden.” the squad’s Mag, a relative newbie by the name of Elle said, her voice filled with disgust, “Did you really have to share that with us?”
“Hey, all these slimy econo-tyrants have dirty secrets. It comes with the territory.” Ursus replied.
“Yeah, but do you really-” Elle began before the fourth member of their group, a Saryn by the name of Emma, raised her hand to indicate a desire for silence over the radio.
“I’m picking up trace biologicals.” she finally said after a moment, ”Scans confirm non-human DNA, or least recombinant DNA. It can’t seem to make up its mind.”
“Odd…” Harkness remarked, “Generally the Corpus don’t go in for non-human employees.” He didn’t doubt the Saryn-wearer’s pronouncement. Saryn users had many things in common with those who wore the Trinity Warframe, including an innate ability to not merely detect biological traces, but to identify it as well. If it had been fresh, she would probably have been able to tell what species it belonged to, as well as any genetic defects it was carrying.
“So our absent friend liked screwing aliens?” asked Ursus. Harkness cleared his throat loudly over the channel, indicating just what he thought of the man’s grasp of tact.
“Sorry.” the Rhino-wearer said only half-sheepishly. Harkness’ tendencies were common knowledge, and subject to varying degrees of respect or disdain amongst his fellow Tenno. Ursus must’ve been among those who didn’t hold with it. He mentally reminded himself to choose a different Rhino the next time he went on a mission…
“Actually, no.” Emma said, “The traces I’m picking up seem to be coming from...well, I’m making a bit of a guess here, but I think it’s either blood or some other circulatory fluid.” Suddenly she turned to face the side of the chamber left of the entrance.
“I think there’s a trail…” she said, pointing at the wall, “leading there.” Harkness pointed at Ursus.
“You got into the safe on Europa. Think you can crack open a hidden room if there is one?” he asked. The Rhino shrugged.
“Probably. If all else fails I’ll just knock the wall down.” Once again, Harkness could only roll his eyes. He gestured at the wall with an ‘after you’ motion. The Rhino cracked his gauntleted knuckles.
Harper didn’t know how long he’d been hanging there. He wasn’t even sure if he was still alive, though if he was dead, then he wasn’t sure what he’d done to deserve an afterlife like this. He kept fading in and out of consciousness, the wound on his head throbbing a dull, low beat of agony, working in time with all his other injuries to generate a twisted samba of pain that kept ricocheting around in his skull. Sometimes he thought he could hear Dawn, his Skrith friend and sole comfort during his time aboard this nightmarish space-station, her clicking speech reduced to the occasional hiccuping sound, the Skrith equivalent of a whimpering sob. He wanted to raise his head and look to see her one more time, but he felt so tired…
When the door crashed in and light poured through the mangled frame, he was certain he had at last broken, and that any second now, what was left of his mind would dissolve into goo. The idea that the rescue might be real never crossed his mind. Rescue? Scyler had led him on a merry psychological torture marathon for two weeks before bringing him here to finish things. He’d been stripped of any such hope long ago.
His state of mind wasn’t helped any when he felt a metal-clad hand grasp his head and pull it up. He cracked open one swollen eye, and what he saw, well he would be laughing if he could. Now he knew he was crazy. What else could possibly explain a being from his mother’s fairy tales looking down at him? As he felt the bonds around his wrists loosen, his head rolled back and he saw it again: a Tenno, a warrior of the ancient times, hand reaching out to catch him as he fell. In response, he did the only thing he could and passed out completely.
The Tenno call us heartless monsters; the Grineer think of us as greedy worms. The peasants can not comprehend our actions, or begin to realize our plans. They may revile our actions, but in the end, history will praise us for what we do here today, for because of them, there will be a history to be remembered.
-from Encrypted Transmission to Alad V., Head of Grineer Relations by *DATA CORRUPTED*, 643 P.C. .-