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Salvation Through Imagination
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(Contains: violence/gore and strong language)

Chapter 10

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. .-

Mass Effect: The Warframe Crisis Ch. 10
A/N: I’ve been sort of waning on the creative front, so the next few parts are going to be written more by Follower than by me. What with having moved out, I just haven’t felt the compulsion to write as often as before. It’s that autumn feeling...wearing thin…
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: violence/gore and strong language)

Chapter 9

The Grineer Royal Court is a seething, festering mass of camp-followers, aristocracy, madmen and politicians. In such an environment, there is only one rule you need to remember if you want to play the game of power and titles: You win or you die.

-from the diaries of Tyl Regor, Chief Director of the Grineer Research and Development Corps, 684 P.C.-

Location: Local Cluster, Origin System, Sedna, Merrow Colony, Estate of Kela de Thayme

Date: September 26, 643 P.C.

    Merrow was one of the orbital habitats built by humans with Orokin aid long, long ago, and occupied the outermost reaches of the tiny planetoid’s orbit disc, which also put it on the edge of the Origin System’s network of Solar Rails. It was built in the guts of a captured comet, and therefore the best analogy that could be applied to it was that it resembled an ant-farm. Pressurized pockets of civilization ran through it like bubbles of trapped gas in pumice, and the largest of these was closest to the largest deposits of ice the tiny piece of space debris had to offer.

    Merrow had never been particularly beautiful. The edges of civilization rarely were. However, the colony’s current owner, the lady Kela de Thayme, twenty-sixth in the Grineer line of succession, thought it was perfect for her needs, and had thanked her twin ‘mothers’ profusely when they offered her the duty of taking over it. Under her rulership, the older dwellings had been steadily knocked down and replaced with Grineer architecture, so as to remind the inhabitants who was in charge.

    The first thing to go had been the old gubernatorial palace, which had held chiefly elements of ‘inferior, alien’ architecture which had been bulldozed away to please the new mistress of Sedna, who had claimed it and an unwholesome amount of the surrounding habitation zones as her personal estate. The palace’s eventual replacement was consistent with Grineer aesthetics, which meant that to everyone with a shred of taste, it looked like the result of a bunker being unfaithful with a malignant tumor.

    In truth, Kela hated being out here, on the edge of Origin, but it was the only place that would work for her plans, the biggest of which was eventually replacing her two ‘mothers’ as sole matriarch of the Grineer monarchy. Every person in line for mastery of the Grineer Empire had similar desires, but then, they didn’t have Kela’s will, much less her resources. The key to her plan was her ‘friendship’ with Tyl Regor, the head of research for all the Empire’s efforts to reclaim what knowledge the Long Night had swallowed and applying it to further the Grineer dominion of Origin and perhaps, some day, the entire galaxy. The plot between them had gone well so far, considering the wrenches that had been tossed into the works by such unexpected events as the return of the Tenno, the Empire’s most hated and hereditary enemy. Now though, things looked like they were beginning to slip, and so Kela had called Regor to a secure conference on the estate’s grounds to discuss what to do.

    “And you are certain it was Tenno that killed Vor?” she asked him as they stood on the edge of the Thorn Maze, a twisted copy of ancient hedge mazes made entirely out of briars, given few other things grew in the soil these days.”

    “From everything my pets could find, yes.” the scientist answered. “If the state of his ship wasn’t enough, the elemental damage they left behind, not to mention their trace Void signatures, was. The only thing that even hinted it might not be the Tenno was the fact they took his body with them. As it stands, everything points to the abominations.”

    Kela frowned. Regor’s ability to detect the Void demons was a closely guarded secret shared solely between them. The technology behind it, like many of his other, more magnificent advances, had never been publicly released, instead being bottled up for Kela’s planned coup to ensure her troops would have an advantage over any loyalists, should there prove to be resistance from the old guard. She ground her teeth, which was happily no longer as painful since she had allowed some of Regor’s aug-surgeons to replace them with synthetic substitutes, and repair the nerve endings.

    “The accursed creatures kill without the slightest understanding or care for the consequences.” she growled. Regor nodded grimly in agreement.

“With Vor gone, there will be a power vacuum. There is also the issue of these...rebels, the slaves who have banded together and now dream they can keep Mercury for themselves. Depending on who is chosen to handle it, it could weaken our position in certain areas.”

    “The rebels are the least of our concerns.” the Grineer princess snapped, “The Captain’s legacy is of far more interest. Everyone seems to have forgotten the fact that Vor preferred to horde whatever relics and reliquaries he could get his decrepit hands on, rather than follow our Queens’ edict to destroy them. Rumors say it is quite large, and now it is unprotected. If we could seize it, then it could mitigate any loss of face we might experience should another be chosen to quell this uprising...or at the very least, ensure that no one else can get their hands on it.”

    “Speaking of others, just how many more do we plan on bringing into the fold? Ambition is one thing, but logic says it is suicide with only the two of us.” Regor said. He had asked her much the same before, but the difference here was that she finally had an answer.

    “General Ruk has caught my interest of late. He has certain...connections even with our old nemesis, those greedy worms on Neptune.”

    Regor sneered, “He is perhaps the last we should consider recruiting. His desire to destroy, or rather burn, all things non-Grineer will ruin our plans before they can begin. His ‘connections’, if indeed they do exist, would be tenuous at best.” Kela sighed.

    “You speak wisely. There is no denying his pyromaniac tendencies...besides, there is a rumor going around that his last few engagements have left him with brain damage.” she responded. Regor sniggered.

    “Well there’s no point in talking to him now then. Combined with that tongue-deformity of his, he’s probably incomprehensible by now.” The two  would-be tyrants shared a cruel chuckle at the thought of General Sargas Ruk, always renown for his loud, bellowing voice, reduced to a simpleton by head trauma.

    “What of Lieutenant Kril?” Regor asked after moment’s silence, “He would make a powerful addition to your ranks. A war hero like that can command respect, and sometimes respect is all you need to make an enemy a friend.”

    “Yes, he is a viable option. However, we must move quickly if we are to secure his loyalty. My sources tell me he has been seen with that bloated fool, Hek.” she growled. Councilor Vay Hek was probably her biggest opponent, radically focused on killing all the Tenno as soon as possible, not that Kela disagreed with that. Her main point of contention with him was that he was drawing attention away from her more recent efforts to seed discontent in the ranks and turn people to her side.

    The Grineer had been stuck in rut for the last four centuries, ever since their defeat at the Battle of Eligor, where they had been soundly trounced by the then-new energy weapons of the Corpus. All Grineer were born with manifest destiny stamped into their genes, and this had the effect of making them angry when they realized that their destiny was being obstructed by a bunch of irritating businessmen. She planned to use that to gain influence, building a power base with which she might challenge her mothers for rulership of the Empire. When the old bitches were out of the way, then she would do what she knew she had been born to: lead the Grineer in a rough-shod march over the skulls of their foes to galactic domination.

    The thought made her giddy, particularly when she imagined herself leading the charge. She loved to fight, to be in the thick of the combat, to feel her genetic ancestors scream warcries in her thoughts as she sent fire and ruin screaming down on her foes. Of course it had taken a while before she had found she had an equal liking for another, more rewarding battlefield: the political one, at least when it came to gaining power. She had quelled her bloodlust by sheer force of will, and redirected it for seventy long years to propel her to the top of hopeful usurpers, building a career atop a foundation of destroyed reputations and crushed enemies.

    Now she was here, on the cusp of realizing her goal, and these Tenno, these accursed anachronistic, vile, twisted Void-spawn, were threatening everything she had build! It made her want to kill someone every time she thought about it. Still, she hadn’t made it this far in the Royal Court by letting her impulses control her.

    “So, just how are your endeavors regarding our plan coming along?” she inquired, pricking her fingers on the briars and enjoying the thrill of brief pain they provided.

    “Startlingly well, I’m pleased to say. The new Lambda clones are proving to be particularly vicious and effective. They also look more human than many of our batches have been in the last hundred years. Still, I’m facing issues when it comes to breeding out certain...psychological traits that might prove to be a hinderance.” Regor thought it wise not to mention the exact nature of the perversions he had seen some of the males demonstrate. For now at least, they would make excellent shock troopers, and infiltrators. This was provided they could keep their psychotic impulses in check.

    “Good, and what of the-” Kela began before her personal communicator beeped twice to command her attention. Irritated, she snatched it from her belt and brought it to her mouth.

    “Yes, what!?” she snapped, angry at being so rudely interrupted.

    “I humbly beg your forgiveness, Mistress de Thayme, said the voice of one of her cronies, the head of Merrow’s primary spaceport, “But there has been an arrival and...well, milady, it seems that there’s an individual seeking an audience with you.” Kela snarled at being called to deal with such a banal subject.

    “So!?” she snarled, “You could not have brought this to me after Lord Regor had left?”

    “Well, milady,” the unseen port director sounding sweaty and nervous, ”I didn’t like to bother you. I knew you were ensconced with Lord Regor and-”

    “SPIT IT OUT YOU BLATHERING FOOL!” she raged. There was dead silence for a moment, then the sound of the communicator on the other end being handed to someone else. A new voice, one that seemed horribly familiar to Kela, emerged from the tiny speaker of the small, potato-shaped device like some kind of oily acid, making her feel strangely unsettled.

    “Milady, I realize you and Lord Regor are busy,” said the voice of Captain Co Vor, “But I think we should talk. I have an offer I wish to make.” Kela stared up from the comm dumbstruck at Regor, who was wearing an expression of shock and...was that interest?

    “Well,” he said, “it would seem we needn’t worry about that power vacuum any longer...”

Location: Local Cluster, Origin System, The Belt, The Cairn, Docking Sector F

Date: September 25, 643 P.C.

    The Cairn was old, yet new at the same time. Long ago, during the initial expansion of the Grineer after their conquest of Earth, it had been the fortress where the very first Fieldron had been tested, before the technology was sent to Psamanthe where it would go on to become the backbone of the Corpus. Since then it had been the birthplace of numerous other creative instruments of death and destruction, not to mention more civilian technologies like pharmaceuticals and advanced ore-refining processes. In all its long history, the Cairn had never changed hands, never been taken by an enemy from without or within...a fact that was quickly about to change.

    As the Lisets burst back into existence inside the defensive perimeter of the huge station, no alarms sounded. As sophisticated as the sensor grids of the station were, they were no match for the careful planning, piloting and above all, superior stealth technology of the small craft, which quickly divided, skimming over the surface of the huge asteroid to locations that would be safe to launch insertion pods from.

    Nathan, in his cockpit, breathed a sigh of relief as Harkness relinquished his control of the Liset. Even he had been uncertain if the roguish man could do what was required of him, but now that he had, Nathan had the feeling he’d be unwilling to try it again. Zach’s stress over the neural interface had been obvious, and once or twice he had come close to losing a vessel. It had only been through...well, he wasn’t sure what to call it. Tenno didn’t really believe in luck, not after having bathed in the fires of creation simply to become Tenno. Still, it had been pure chance that no one had gotten separated as they journeyed through the churning storm of probability waveforms and quantum foam.

    He directed his craft towards a large pair of protrusions in the rock that resembled two Corpus Supras standing on their stock-ends with their bottom sides facing each other. It was easy to identify them as the external pieces of a cargo loading bay. By comparison with the multitudinous options available, it was the least defended vector that they could use to infiltrate their intended objective. Of course, they in no way, shape or form intended to actually use the bay itself. That would’ve been too obvious and loud.

    Instead of trying to muscle through the large doors set into the asteroid between the two ‘prongs’, the Liset positioned itself forty meters from any of the viewports that served as part of the thing and released four small insertion pods roughly the same shape as itself, which resembled the Sand Skates of ancient Phobos. This quartet of tiny ships wasted no time in finding the secondary bay doors built into the pylons that sprang from either side of the cargo bay’s entrance, made to house remotely-operated loading and unloading drones. In between these smaller gates were yet smaller apertures, made for the egress of space-walkers in the event that an EVA became necessary. It was onto these that the pods latched, magnetic seals allowing them to clamp belly-first onto the openings which sophisticated components on the undersides of the pods them repurposed, turning the small airlocks into entry points.

    As the doors covering his access point hissed open, Nathan released his grip on the safety handles that had kept him in place for the ride and dropped into the artificial gravity of the Cairn. Insertion was always tricky, and this was just the first phase. The process started with swift access, his pod dropping him off then breaking away, closing things up behind him while he accessed the vent system to escape any investigators that might come to see what had caused the brief anomalous reading in the area. He placed one hand on the hilt of his Dragon Nikana and pressed himself to the wall as the door sealed behind him and his pod released its hold on the hull of the station. He quickly looked up, checking the ceiling for any entry points.

    There were none, but a panel on the wall was marked with lettering in the Corpus trade-talk, the language of business and the official speech used by agents of the organization. It had originally been derived from a bastardized form of ancient Latin that had grown popular on Psamanthe before the Fall. Its emphasis on vertical lines made all its characters resemble Roman numerals. It took no effort for Nathan to translate it. ‘Maintenance Tube’, it said, which told him all he needed to know. Listening carefully for the sound of approaching feet, he hacked the duct’s controls with ease and slid himself in, closing it behind him as a Tech came clomping around the corner, his Supra resting on a strap over his back and for once, technical tools in hand. Nathan grinned in the dark of the small passage and keyed his comm systems so he could reach the rest of his squad.

    “Sound off.” he ordered.

    “Inigo Cortez, here. I’m in the air ducts, holding position.” said a voice with more than a hint of an accent. It was the Loki-wearer he had selected, a skilled sniper and a dab hand with stealth and confusion.

    “Deslin Fletcher sounding off.” came the next voice, another male, neither youthful nor old, but somehow hardened. Deslin was his Frost, equipped with a Supra and a pair of Cestra, his armament being topped off by a Serro, a repurposed Corpus salvaging tool that could cut through ship hulls and armor with equal efficiency. Deslin was the gunner of his squad, there to lay down a withering torrent of laser fire if needed. The last member of his squad was slower to respond that his clan-mates, but eventually his voice came through Nathan’s helmet speaker too.

    “Seito Mifune, reporting as ordered.” stated the Volt-wearer. Seito was of a descent that could be traced back to ancient Korea, which was evident in his accent. He was older that Nathan, and a very experienced swordsman, carrying a Pangolin blade as his weapon of choice, a tool that dated back to the birth of the first Tenno clans.He would provide his brothers with the power of speed should it become necessary, striking with literal shock and awe into the heart of any organized resistance the enemy might muster.

    “Good work everyone.” Nathan commented, beginning to shimmy his way down the duct, “We’ll convene in administrative sector. Try not to kill anyone unless you have to. The goal is to maintain stealth until the command center is ours.” He pulled up the stolen parital schematics the Lotus had provided with the mission packaged from the Founder’s Council. Carefully tracing his pathway through the dizzying network of tubes, hallways, vents and storage rooms between him and his goal, he finally found what he was looking for.

    “I’ve got a storage bay on Level 12 that looks good and is most likely to be empty. We’ll regroup there, then make our way to the command center. Inigo, do you have your ciphers ready?” he inquired. Inigo was responsible for carrying the all-purpose metamorphic code ciphers that would allow the Tenno to access most of the station’s systems without the need for a command code.

    “Of course. I’m already on my way.” he responded.

    “Good. Let’s get a move on. No one else can accomplish their objectives until we take command. They’ll need complete schematics of this place to even know where they’re supposed to go.”

    “We were all there at the briefing, sir.” Deslin remarked. Nathan grunted.

    “You were, but whether you were listening or not I have no way of knowing.” he grumbled, “Just think of it as a friendly reminder.”

    “Yessir.” said the heavily-armed gunner.


    The progression of the squad of Tenno through the massive station was slow, but methodical. As they went, each one took the time to examine the layout of the surrounding area, adding their sum knowledge to the partial records of the place’s shape and size. It wasn’t much compared to an actual full schematic, but it was better than what they had. When they finally reached the rendezvous, however, they hit a small snag: the room was occupied after all.

    “Damn.” Nathan muttered, looking down at the lone pair of Security Guild Crewmen as they chatted idly, escorting a man in a blue robe with a data-tablet, who was obviously inventorying the room’s contents.

    “Should we just take them out?”  Inigo inquired. He was eager to get to the command center and stop shimmying about in the cramped vents. Ten minutes ago he had been forced to cross an air-recycling chamber where an ion-impeller used an electric charge to force the air molecules in the ducts into motion, rather than bothering with fans like the Grineer. He’d nearly been electrocuted, running the length of the enormous room before the heartbeat-pulsing of the machine hit its next discharge interval.

    Nathan pondered his suggestion briefly before deciding.

    “Ah, screw it.” he muttered. He was fed up as well, though mainly because the cramped quarters were getting on his nerves because they were giving him cramps.He opened a channel to Deslin.

    “Breach their comms.” he commanded, “Then mow them down.” He quickly switched his transmission ot Inigo.

    “Take out the cameras as soon as we come out. That should keep us off their screens a little while longer.” he instructed.

    “Understood.” the two Tenno responded. The next two seconds were very crowded, as the vent over the two Crewmen and their charge burst open, dropping squarely onto the head of the blue-robed functionary and giving him a concussion, shortly before he was further flattened by Deslin, who dropped out of the hole and landed feet first atop him. Amidst the crunch of the impact, he drew his Cestras and fired to either side, peppering the two astonished Corpus soldiers with plasma bolts. At the same instant, from across the room, a hushed puff of a silenced sniper rifle indicated Inigo firing his Vectis at the single camera near the room’s entrance. In the space of two seconds, the Tenno had eliminated the potential witnesses and escaped the vents, an operation well-accomplished.

    Before he could do anything else, his radio clicked. “Oi, you there yet Nate?” Sighing with irritation, Nathan switched his comms over to Follower’s Liset.

    “Would you shut up if I said three-quarters?” he asked.

    “I would, if you were anyone else.” the Rhino shot back. “I’m worried about you going all trigger-happy with those damn nail guns of yours! If you haven’t already realized, those things aren’t exactly subtle…”

    “On the other hand, they do communicate very well.” Nathan quipped. It was at this point that the door opened and two more Crewmen sauntered in, unaware of what had just befallen their friends. The pause as they saw the Tenno was short, but felt big enough to house an entire geological epoch to Nathan as he drew the twin Grineer weapons and fired. The silver bolts shot across the distance like the wind made visible, swift and flickering, right up until they punctured their targets, hurling them backwards and nailing them to the closing door.

    There was another pause as the bodies hung there, dripping blood while the squad’s ears perked up

    “We might have gotten away with it…” Nathan said. As if waiting for the cue, the alarm signalling a general alert sounded.

    “Damn it, Nathan!! What in Hayden’s name did you just do!?” Follower all but screamed into the radio. Nathan’s ear rang from the volume. “If you don’t recall, we don’t exactly have a Plan B here!”

    “Yes we do.” Nathan said, cocking both of his weapons for a fresh bout of slaughter, “It’s called improvisation.”

    “” Follower sputtered, incoherent with fury. Nathan switched him off, then opened up a general broadcast to all the Lisets in the force.

    “Initiate insertion, our cover is blown. Do your best to get in and find your target. If we succeed, we’ll provide support from the command center.” Before the inevitable explosion of angry voices could make their way to his helmet, he cut the connection and refocused on his squad.

    “Let’s move.” he ordered. His subordinates didn’t bother with protesting. It was too late to issue complaints. So they did what they did best, which was come out firing.


    Back on one of the Lisets holding Follower and his squad, a roar sounded throughout the tiny ship.

    “Damn it!” A Warframe-covered fist slammed against the hull, actually denting it. “I swear, he never listens to what I say! It’s like he’s trying to aggravate me…”

“So...what are we doing then?” Follower turned to look at his chosen squad mates. The one who had asked was a Mag by the name of Katya. When no reply was immediately forthcoming, she continued,“Uh...sir?”

Follower snorted under his helmet before pointing to the sight of the Cairn just beyond the front of the ship. In front of them, the great rectangular maws of the primary hangars yawned like mouths, ready to swallow them.

    “Someone get onto the controls, and fly us into the closest open hangar. Crash us if you have to.” The three balked, though they didn’t show it. Before someone could ask why, he explained, “Thanks to the alarm, security will be beefing up. If we want to live, we need to take the shortest route possible and from what the blueprints say, the main hangars are the section closest to the reactor. There’s no point in dicking around with a quiet insertion, not now. That being said, we’ll be sprinting this. Our only priority is getting to the reactor, understood?”

    Another of the squad rose in her seat, this one a Trinity named Aelina.

    “Wait, you can’t be serious! Charging in is one thing, but you're proposing is suicide! Even if we get to the reactor, we’re going to have Void-knows how many Corpus coming after us, including everything we don’t kill on the way in! We rush this and they’ll pull a pincer movement on our asses!”

“Well if you would stop to think, the reasons why would be obvious.” interjected the fourth and final member of the team, a Frost named Corvus. “If some idiot Guildsman gets the bright idea to try and overload or destroy the reactor to take out this station, we’re going to have to be ones to make sure he’s dead before we’re all turned into free-floating atoms. If that happens, it won’t matter how many Crewmen and MOAs they send. We’ll all be equally dead.”

Everyone looked to the Frost while Follower gave Corvus an appreciative nod. “Exactly. And on that note, get ready for a hard landing.” he ordered the three. As the ship maneuvered into position for ‘sudden and violent insertion’, the irony of his actions hit him and he muttered: “Oh hell….Nathan is going to hold this over my head now…”


    Somewhere in the guts of the Cairn, specifically the Administrative Sector, there was a room. This room, unlike the others, had lush carpeting and walls panelled with higher-quality materials than the rooms surrounding it. Sandwiched between the bulkheads around this room was a considerable amount of noise-cancelling foam, there to ensure that the activities that took place within did not disturb its owner’s neighbors. This was important, because the vast majorities of the activities involved at least one person screaming.

    In his fine, hand-crafted mahogany chair, upholstered with the best materials credits could buy, Scyler Murkhoff, director of the Cairn’s research operations, took careful aim with his Ballistica. The Tenno weapon had come from an auction held by Alad V, who in addition to being the Head of Grineer Relations, was famous for his dispensation of rare and elegant artifacts from the Orokin Era. Next to his chair sat a small table with a platinum platter supported a glass, a bottle of Red Sands Sake and three extra ammunition clips. Such luxury bespoke his position and the respect his work had garnered him. Of course he knew the respect was always tempered by the knowledge of what he did for fun. People could be so intolerant…and disobedient.

    As he finally picked his target, he pulled the trigger, keeping it held down to draw the strings back all the way for a single bolt, rather than a burst of three.

    “You know, when my chief of security dragged you in here, I thought you wouldn’t be much fun.” he chided his target, “I mean, look at you: malnourished, dirty scraggly thing. Still, the fact that you’ve managed to go this long just demonstrates you can’t be right about everything...” He shrugged and released the trigger.

    The bolt shot out of the weapon and landed with a THUNK in his target’s lower right leg. Half-naked, covered in scars and so underfed his ribcage was pressing against the skin of his chest almost like a corpse, Seamus Harper did not scream. He had no breath left to scream. He’d been dangling from the ropes around his wrists for hours now, and had already howled his lungs out when similar shots had gone through the rest of his limbs. Now he looked like a frog on a dissection table, pinned down by bolts of metal that had driven themselves into his flesh.

    “I’m sure you think that you weren’t being harmful in your little relationship with my aide,” Scyler said, frowning, “but I think you understand by now that I don’t take kindly to my employees mixing business and pleasure.” The next shot only succeeded in eliciting a hoarse wheezing when it impacted in his lower left leg. Scyler’s aim sank further as he nodded off to his right.

    “I’m the only one allowed to do that.” he quipped with a sly grin, and then nailed Harper’s left foot to the wooden block he was standing on. In a spotlight off to Scyler’s left, a female Skrith, about the same age as his target stood precariously on two stilts. While her feet struggled to keep her upright, all eight of her other limbs were bound, preventing her from escaping the spiked collar that hovered like a noose around her neck. If she slipped, the spines on the inside would punch through her exoskeleton and drown her in her own blood. The act was made all the more difficult by the fact that Harper was her best friend. As Scyler nailed his target’s other foot to the wooden block, he let out a mirthless chuckle.

    “Hmmm, I’m beginning to think I’ve made my point.” he commented, drawing his aim to the left to target Harper’s shoulder joint. “Perhaps it’s time for a finale…but which part of you to take?” he asked, “Your eyes? Your tongue? Or should we just take you apart?” As he made his suggestion, he aimed at the part in question, finally settling his crosshairs on Harper’s left shoulder. Then he fired again, but this time released a group of bolts rather than a single one. Each quarrel THUNK-ed into Harper, making him jerk in pain as they clustered in the space of his shoulder socket. If Scyler tried that again, he’d probably mangle the thing so badly that it’d come off. But he wouldn’t beg for mercy. After all, what was the point? The sadist obviously had none.

    As he braced himself for the next shot, there came a chime from Scyler’s pocket. Rolling his eyes, he lowered the Ballistica and delved into his black, modified jinbei, rifling around until he withdrew a small communications device. With a press of a button he called up the holographic controls and answered the call.

    “What?” he snapped, though not with any real vehemence. His play had made him very relaxed.

    “I’m afraid to inform you sir that we have a Code Purple.” said whoever was on the other end, his voice heavily filtered. Scyler’s face did no move a muscle, but his eyebrows raised just a little.

    “Really?” he asked, as if he were inquiring about the weather. Harper could barely make out what was going on amidst the fog of red that was overcoming his mind, but he could still feel a bit of anger amidst the pain, infuriated at how calm and collected this bastard was.

    “Yessir.” said the caller. Scyler rolled his eyes and sighed again. Always, it seemed the universe conspired to interrupt him...

    “Very well. Have my personal craft prepped for launch. If it gets out of hand, you know what to do.” he instructed the speaker.

    “Understood.” With that, Scyler shut off the device and rose from his chair, approaching Harper. He wasn’t in the best condition right now, but even the young man, almost blind with pain, could see the cold gleam in the animal’s eye. No, not an animal, he corrected himself. Animals didn’t do this to each other. That gleam was the gleam of a monster. He grabbed Harper’s face in one hand and dragged it up, pressing the tip of the last quarrel to his forehead. Harper swore to himself he wouldn’t close his eyes. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stand to meet that awful gaze for long. The last word he heard was ‘Goodbye, gutter-scum.’. Then something smacked him in the side of the head, and everything went black.

We all have our inner demons, parts of ourselves that we like to think do not exist. We shut them away and push them deep down within our minds and souls, hoping to deny or master them. We think we control them, that we can suppress them, that progress has given us the power to dominate them, when the truth is that we cannot. They are us, and we are them.

-from private journals of Grand Marshal Hieronymus Baphomet of the Orokin Imperial Guard, 3872 I.A.-

Mass Effect: The Warframe Crisis Ch. 9

A/N (Neodammarung the Destroyer/Vadrigos) : So yes, Vor has returned, and now we get a window on grineer politics. Also, quick note, this was written befor Update 14, so I based the version of the Liset used here on the one that was teased in a prior livestream. I now realize of course that Lisets cannot house 4 and have no seats. This will be featured in the new lisets that our tenno will get later. Also, I hope you’re enjoying the story, and I would appreciate reviews, even if they are two lines long. Its a good way of telling the writer you like his stuff. Also, I hope you had fun reading that ending. I must admit I thought long and hard on a proper means of introducing Scyler so that his personality and status as PURE F$*#KING INSANE was clear. Here he’s not a cannibal of course, but he’s only had once scene *waggles eyebrows*. Anyways, yeah, read review and tell your friends. Thanks for reading!


Just kidding. Seriously though, where are all of you buggers? I’ve got I think 100+ people still attached to the first iteration(and somehow more are still jumping on like flies on trash) but where’s everyone else for the second iteration? Also, don’t worry too much about any gore scenes or anything, we won’t go too far beyond what you see in warframe already, and definitely won’t be approaching anything on the level of the Saw or Hostel movies. At least, we’ll try...right?

A/N (Neodammarung the Destroyer/Vadrigos): Just in answer to what he said, yes, we will not be going overboard with torture and blood. This was a one time thing...probably. Anyways’ don’t get put off by it. We’ll strive to remain decent.



Prepare for Oblivion...
United States
This current version of the poster made so nicely for me by :iconespionagedb7: will serve as my deviant ID

Also, I finally have 45 watchers...w00t!!!!

Operating System: None of Thine Beeswax
MP3 player of choice: Creative ZEN
Personal Quote: To Strive, To Seek, To Find...And Not To Yield...
Well, this has been a pretty mediocre-to-rotten week. First Warframe gets a ludicrous and unneeded nerf-date (It's not an update if you're downgrading the performance. This applies even if there's new content, and especially if the new content sucks ass like this new content did...)

And now, I get to work, only to find that despite my belief that I was doing relatively well as a courtesy clerk, my performance did not meet the company standards. They were very polite, and there was no pink slip, and they promised to recommend me highly should I apply to another job in the area and were to use them as a reference, but it still amounts to the same thing: I'm fired.

Well, not technically fired. I never passed my 'probationary period' of three months. I still got paid, but the evaluation of my co-workers was that while I was enthusiastic and hard-working, I was simply not cut out for the fast pace and constant customer contact required. I can agree with this. I'm not the best people person in the world, and the hectic pace often left me running to and fro trying to help everyone, not very professional. Of course, it was only after getting hired that I discovered that the position I really wanted, that of shelf-replenishment and stocking and so forth, which requires only backroom contact mostly, is a promotional position in Safeway, not an entry-level position like with many other jobs. 

So I'm in no danger of losing my apartment or anything. My parents are still supporting me till my college days are over, but my first job is ended, and that's that. There goes my spending money...


Still, it's the holiday season, and I imagine more than a few places nearby need some help...I'll probably find another temp job soon enough. All I have to do is pester them enough over the phone...hey, it worked with Safeway. ;)
  • Mood: Gloomy
  • Playing: Warframe (WTF, DE? What were you thinking?)
  • Eating: Pasta (When am I ever NOT eating this? XD)

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Saphia-Xeno Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Thanks for the watch! :3
Vadrigos Featured By Owner 2 days ago
ur welcome!
TAG-Ink Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Professional General Artist
Thanks for the fav, my friend!
Vadrigos Featured By Owner 3 days ago
Sexy-sexy xenogirl! :D
XenoPredDragon Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the favorites! :+fav:
Vadrigos Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2014
sure thing!!
Empress-Natayla Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2014  Student General Artist
Thanks for the favourite
Vadrigos Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2014
sure thing!
Empress-Natayla Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2014  Student General Artist
DarkEros Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2014
thanks for the fav :la::la:
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