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[Fanfiction] Snowflakes


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A thin metallic whisper crescendos past my ear. I blink hard. Focus. A loud clang of metal on metal. I blink again. The hair-raising grind of blades sliding off one another. Focus. I blink a drop of sweat from my eye, feeling it slip onto my cheek and slide towards my chin. A sharp rap accompanied by a pang across the knuckles of my right hand causes it to open, leaving my left to grip onto the handle twice as hard. That is, until it is knocked out of my grasp by a hard chop. Again? Stop dropping it. I hear the whisper return, briefly pause with my knees bent, and throw my arms over my head, flipping out of the way. With my arms stretched towards the ground and back arched in a backspring, I anticipate the landing, planning ahead to disarm the shadowy figure before me.


Land, tuck, roll, bang, bang, bang, disarm. I have it all planned out, my fingertips a hand length away from the ground when I feel a presence at my side. I also feel that rigid, scaled forearm press against my throat. F***. And then I definitely feel it as I am slammed into the ground, landing on my shoulder blades before the back of my head bounces off the unyielding floor. I lay there blinking away these beautifully ethereal white orbs from my vision as I gasp for breath. Above me, silhouetted against the brilliant white of the room’s lights is that smoothly rounded forehead and triple spined Scorpion helmet that has looked down at me for this entire session.


“Better,” he says in that dry and raspy voice that always makes me think that he has some form of throat injury. “You are learning fast”.

“But?” I raise my eyebrows at him from the ground even though he cannot see them regardless.

“But you are still thinking too much. Everything should feel natural and should be instinctive. After all,” I can hear him smiling now. “It is in your blood.”

Groaning, I fall back to floor and flop my right arm over my eyes, “Don’t remind me”.


We sit there in silence. I remove my arm and look up at him. Hands crossed over his chest, feet shoulder width apart, back straight as a Bo, he hasn’t moved one bit. “Are we done?”

He turns around abruptly and begins walking silently towards the door, throwing over his shoulder a simple, “Yes”.


I continue laying there on the floor, stretching out with fingers and toes pointing in opposite directions as I feel that relaxing tingle flutter through my body. Tucking my feet in, I spring back up to my feet, spinning around the center of the room searching the floor. There it is. I see the unmistakable trio of charcoal grey, snow white, and cerulean peeking out from the shadows. Striding over, I pick up my Orthos from the floor and inspect it for any marks. Satisfied, I mount it to the magnetic clips on my back and I go through the door and into the halls of the clan’s dojo.


At this time of day, there are not many others roaming this floor. Too be fair, there are not many who have even awoken yet. At this time of day, it is a small motley crew of clan higher-ups, maintenance, or just restless Tenno looking to entertain themselves or meditate who are awake. The rest is a fairly large contingent of young Tenno at training. This group includes me. At roughly a century and half years old, I am one of the youngest Tenno in the clan. So for the twenty years that I have been awake for, I have been retraining my skills for every day. Not one day has gone by that I have not been honing my skills to their limits. I don’t mind it really, it’s not like I’ve had the ability to practice in a cryopod anyways. As I weave through the maze of corridors, I peer into the training rooms and catch glimpses of the other initiates.


I can’t help but feel a stab of competitiveness as I watch them. I see a Volt putting up walls of crackling electricity to catch incoming bullets. A Zephyr tearing through an obstacle course, effortlessly overcoming each event. Two Mags locking Skanas with an Excalibur observing, both fighting fiercely and clearly evenly matched. A Banshee lying flat on her stomach, cradling a Vectis and scoped in on some distant target. And then I pass by a large, thick walled room, reinforced glass separating it from the hallway. The power training room. Peering inside, I see two Nyx’s sitting cross legged across from each other and staring at one another. What’re they..? I tilt my head, contemplating, before hightailing to the end of the hall and towards the waiting lift. A second too late and I can feel a pressure crush my skull as I catch some drift of their mental combat. Stepping into the elevator and closing the door, I clench and unclench my jaw, willing away the headache I have now.


As the lift reaches the residential level, the door opens with a whir and I step out, turning towards the left wing where my quarters are. I finally lock down the pain radiating through my head and mutter under my breath, “Stupid Nyx’s...”

“Oh, the irony is priceless,” a soft, sultry voice whispers in my ear.

I kick backwards without looking at the offender, still striding towards my quarters. I already know who it is anyways. “Shut up, Bella.”


Belladonna pulls up next to me, walking by my side. “How was training this morning?”

I look over at the Saryn, “You know how it is. Fighting with Ash?”


She laughs and nudges me with her elbow, causing my bruised arm to flare with dull pain. She knows that I’m all beat up and bruised, all initiates do. After all, Ash is one of oldest of the clan. So old that he took on the frame’s name as his own alias.


“Yes, I know. Who doesn’t?” She’s smiling, clearly finding my condition to be unbearably funny. I can afford to have her mock me. Belladonna’s my best friend anyways. We are so much alike in our interests and personalities that we might as well be sisters by blood. We are sisters regardless, sisters through the clan. At least that’s what all our elders try to tell us. She peels off to the right towards her own quarters, “I’ll see you at mess?”

“If I can get up,” I answer, turning towards my side of the hall.

She laughs and steps into her room, shutting the door with a quiet click.


The scanner above my door scans my body, ensuring that it is really me before opening the doors to my personal quarters. I step inside and the door clicks behind me. I open a hatch beside the door, revealing my personal armaments. I briefly wipe down my Orthos before hanging it with the other weapons and then shut the compartment. Turning, I collapse my helmet into my frame and take a deep breath of fresh, floral air. Every Tenno’s quarters are personalized, even the initiates’. I had removed some of the paneling of my floor to pour some fine sand and soil into half the room. Where I placed the soil, I had planted an assortment of flowers, providing the enclosed space with a musty but pleasant smell that I enjoyed more so than other Tenno. The rest of the floor I had covered with soft white sand. The feeling of the miniscule grains giving way to my feet is far more preferable to me than the firm metal paneling that was standard in the rest of the dojo. To the far side of the sand, I had dug a medium sized hole for a pond with some smooth stones resting at the bottom. Around the crystalline pool are some stalks of bamboo that I had “borrowed” from one of the communal gardens, providing some color and life in the uniform steel of the dojo. The pool was fed by a jet in the wall, creating a miniature creek that lulled me to sleep every night. The stream I had to clear with some of the elders when I first installed it. Water is quite hard to find floating in space, they had said. And honestly, I did not consider that when sweet talking a Vauban soldier to install it for me. Their solution was to use recycled water and use the creek and pond as another node for cycling water through the dojo. As long as the water is newly filtered and recycled, I have no problem. It is not like I drink it anyways. It is bad enough thinking about where all the water in my room originated from.


I climb into my cot and stare at the ceiling, listening to the steady flow of water traveling through the stream as I slow my breathing. I empty my mind and when I do, I become much more aware of how tired I am. Gratefully, I give into the sleep creeping in at the edges of my eyes and let my eyes shut as I plunge into blissful rest. 

Edited by Asixxx
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Soooo... This is my first fanfic. Ever. Like for anything.


I would just appreciate any comments at all and any feedback. I just want to see where this goes and if I should continue or not. So yep. Fingers crossed.


And I would just like to give shoutouts to KF5AQX and TheDeathofThem for "When the Bullets Stop..." and "The Lone Sword" respectively because they kinda' sorta' inspired me to write something out of the blue. 


So muchas gracias amigos for reading this (assuming anyone reads it).

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I see a faint light at the end of the tunnel. It begins with pitch black, then it becomes grey, then it becomes white. And then it just becomes the annoying inconvenience that is the light over my bed. I lay on my back, listening to the burbling of the creek for a few heartbeats before swinging my legs over the edge and getting to my feet. I rub the bleariness out of my still sleepy eyes and stretch luxuriously, feeling every muscle stretch and contract. Feeling a little more awake, I will my helmet over my head and it emerges from its housing, courtesy of the neural link between my frame and I. Running a rudimentary check of the frame’s systems, I glance down and inspect the front of my frame, ensuring that it is presentable. I do not worry about the other half of the frame that I cannot see, Bella will check my back like she always does. My frame does not bear any signs of the wear and tear of battle, a constant reminder that I have little to no combat experience and no credibility within the clan. I sigh at that thought. I glance at the timepiece in my Heads Up Display (HUD) and sigh again, wind flapping my lips. 0703 hours. It was still too early for me despite having woken up even earlier for training. I move to sit down by the pond, wanting to calm my mind a little before joining the rest of the clan for a morning meal. I cross my legs and take a deep breath, beginning to close my eyes to… Thump thump thump.


Rolling my eyes, I get to my feet and trudge to the door. Another insistent pound on the door. I wave the door open and, of course, there stands that black and cerise Saryn frame.

“Bella… It’s too early to head up. I was just about to…”

She waves a dismissive hand and pulls me into the hallway, “Meditate. Yes. You can afford to skip a morning though. We’ve got to get seats anyways; you know what happens when you get there late.” She puts emphasis on “you”.

I have always been the cause of both of us being late. Bella never goes up there without me because she is such a great friend. So she tells me all the time.

I exhale sharply and shake my head in exasperation, “Fine. Wait a second then.”


I walk back into my room and grab one of the pistols from my beloved Akstilleto set. I clip it to my right thigh and rejoin Bella in the hallway. She looks down at my Stilleto and I can practically hear her eyebrows rise, “You worried about something?”

I shove her towards the lifts and we begin walking, “No harm in being safe.”


All around us, other Tenno show signs of waking up. Some are beginning to emerge from their quarters and make their way to the lifts as well. We nod to some initiates that we know, bow slightly to the few elders that reside on the initiates’ section, and greet those that we can call our friends. Others take waking up harder than the rest. We pass several rooms emitting steady streams of expletives and one room with a petite Nova and a Loki braced against the door frame attempting to drag a sleepy Rhino outside. Bella and I manage to grab a mostly empty lift and we begin to rise towards the communal level.


Inside the lift, I inspect the back of Bella’s frame and she returns the favor. She brushes off some stains on my shoulder blades and steps back for a last look, “You’re all good.”

She looks at some of the lift’s other occupants and opens a two-way channel between us,

“You think that Oberon over there would look good under that frame?”

I look over to the royal blue and silver trimmed Oberon picking at his gauntlets without moving my head.

“I wouldn’t know. It isn’t like you would ever know anyways.”

“You never know, maybe we’ll become an item.”

I snort, taking a step towards the lift’s door as it begins to decelerate. “Doubt it.”


The lift slows to a stop and the doors part and we are welcomed to the congested the main hall. We step out of the lift and are swept up into the sea of our clan mates. Around us, the pristine white walls are trimmed with gold, a tribute the grandeur of the old ages. Elegant pillars are evenly spaced along the walls, and atop them stand giant tributes to the clan’s greatest members, past and present. The walls themselves extend straight into the air before tapering into a giant arched roof far above our heads, farther than any Tenno would climb. That is to say, barring the group of insane Zephyrs leaping the cross-sections of the arch. The hall stretches the entire length of the dojo, creating a central junction for easy navigation and for a large social arena. I hold onto Bella’s hand as we join the current of bodies flowing towards the secondary hall that serves as an elementary dining hall. We pass by various monuments and as the traffic stops briefly, I look up to admire a massive statue of an Ember conjuring swirling flames around his body. I wonder if I’ll ever be like that. The current picks back up and we are swept into the dining hall.


The smell of the food dispensers penetrates my helmet, and despite all complaints of how bland it is, it does possess a mildly mouthwatering aroma. The color of the multitude of Tenno in their frames is overwhelming and makes my eyes ache if I stare, only furthered by the constant motion of bodies. Finally, the sound is deafening. The chatter of hundreds of Tenno is even too much for the helmet to filter out. I really feel bad for the Banshees in here. Bella and I continue walking towards the far end of the hall as the elders and higher-ups get the privilege of gathering at a first few dispensers. By the time we push our way to our assigned dispenser group, we are in a pack of other initiates. Despite the complete emptiness and hollow feeling of my stomach, I wait patiently in line to fill up. Though when it’s my turn to plug in, I fidget, willing the dispenser to dispense faster. When Bella finishes filling up, we thread our way towards a statue of a giant stone Braton rifle where the other initiates have set up. We sit up against the base of the statue and begin to suck on tubes in our helmets as our frame feeds us the pasty sludge that our scientists call nutritious. Of course, everyone knows that just means it’s disgusting though in my current state, I have no complaints. We eat, more like suck, in silence before the frame washes out the tube and hydrates us with our personal batches of recycled water. I know that it is purified to the cleanest it can be, but when I think about it, I swear I can taste a slight hint of urine. It is not supposed to bother me that it is my own urine, but it still does. I have always been too fond of cleanliness.


I look over at Bella and I can tell that she is not repulsed one bit by the thought of drinking recycled water. I know because I have spent every waking hour with her for two decades. And I also know because I can hear her slurping with gusto over the two-way frequency that she forgot to close. When we are both done drinking, we leap into mindless chatter to pass the time, waiting for the hall to clear up as the clan begins to move off to attend to their respective tasks.



“You’d rather be a Corpus?”

“They basically have everything we have, just not on the same tier as us. It would not be that bad.”

“I think you’re abnormal.”

“Me? Says the one who wants to be an Infested.”

“I didn’t say that. I said I’d rather be an Infested. There’s a difference.”

I shake my head though smile fondly, “You are just unbearable, Bella.”

“It’s all part of my charm,” she laughs.

I am about to launch a snarky retort about her “charm” when a white and blue skirt enters my field of view. I look up then see the sapphire Dragon Nikana belted onto the right side of the skirt with a Suraka sugatra dangling from its hilt and immediately sit up as if electrified.


Not a skirt. The first time I asked him if it was a skirt was also the last. I look up and see the flattened top and halo of the Aurora helmet of the same coloration as the skir… Frame. The Frost greets us in a brusque yet paternal voice.

“Good morning, Belladonna.”

She stands up and tilts her head down a little, “G’morning”.

He looks over to me and I am already standing, chin tucked to my collar.

“Good morning, Ava.”

“Good morning, Master.” He nods at me in recognition.

“I will see you within the hour for our session?”

I nod back and bring my head a degree lower, “Yes, Master.”

He walks away to greet the other initiates in the same manner and I straighten back up.

Beside me, Bella snickers and sets her voice an octave higher, “Good morning, Master. Yes, Master. Let me shine your boots, Master.”

I push her off balance and into the marble base of the Braton statue, “Don’t be rude, Bella.”

She laughs, “Yes, Mother.”

I roll my eyes and set off towards the crowd exiting the hall, knowing she will follow me out.


I always catch some flak about being overly respectful to elders from Bella and some other initiates. It does not help that I know it and will not bother to fix it. I have no qualms. Especially not when it comes to the Frost. Really, it is not like we have a choice. Our masters do not give out their aliases, let alone personal names. Thus, we can only address them by their title. Customs aside though, the Frost is my favorite instructor anyways.


Since the first day of my training, he has been the most receptive of my elders of my unorthodox mannerisms regarding my powers, constantly telling me to embrace my individual style and disregard all attempts to remedy it. Every session with him is not in the detached manner that many of my other masters teach with; rather, the Frost takes his time to acquaint himself with each of his students. I am lucky enough to be one of the few assigned to him. He is as close to a father figure that I have. With me, he seems to have taken me in as his favorite pupil and his protégé. He says that it is because the fashion I utilize my powers reminds him of himself when he was young. Despite the teasing I get for being a favorite and the few vulgar suggestions of what occurs in our sessions, I hardly mind being fortunate enough to have a master of that caliber invest so much in me.


As soon as the entrance to the dining hall has cleared enough, Bella and I head towards our training sessions. We take the lift down, dropping off Bella and some other initiates on the barracks level so that they can grab their weapons for training. I say my “see you later”s as they exit before dropping the lift down to the training level. I can feel my adrenaline begin to pump through me as the lift slows as it approaches the destination. When the doors swoosh open, I walk out briskly and then break into a jog. What feels like electricity rushes throughout my body and I hear a crackle as energy breaks out of my bracers and begins to wrap chaotic electric blue spirals around my forearms. I smile as my frame reacts to my emotions, responding to my eagerness. I am impatient to begin training again, to delve deeper into my mind to its innermost layers, something that I want to accomplish no matter how long it will take. 

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Looks like I found some time to jot down another part. I really don't know how I'm organizing this at all or where this story is going because I'm just writing what comes to mind as I go. I should probably have some form of plan though. I'll have some vague idea later though, I hate not finishing things anyways. 


Some author notes:

So with this part I took a few liberties. For one, I realize I made the Ember statue a male. I subscribe to the thought that frames are not gender specific and that anyone can put on a frame. If they're compatible of course.


Secondly, I completely made up how the Tenno eat and drink and do their business inside their frames. I know that the Tenno could just take off/collapse their helmets to eat and drink but I thought it'd be interesting for them to keep their helmets on when they're in public. It adds to that veil of secrecy they already have.


To add on to this, I mentioned nicknames/aliases and real names. I gave and will give every Tenno character two names, a nickname and a real name. I figured that their nicknames (like Belladonna/Bella and Ava) would be their "common name", what they are addressed as in public and by everyone else. Their real names would be something that they would only tell to those close friends, family, or significant others. Finally, I figured that the Tenno's appearance under the frame (particularly the face), would be what each Tenno holds most secret. So that would be why they don't dine with their helmets off, why Ava can lower her helmet in her quarters, and why she mentions Bella will probably never know what the Oberon looks like. Showing another your face would be the ultimate sign of trust and I made it reserved only for love interests. Not for friends or even family. 


And on the topic of love interests, I decided that I will make it extremely rare due to the fact that Tenno live for ages. I also want to make it so that Tenno only have one partner for life. 


So there's a little background of my modified universe and what I think Tenno are really like to explain some things that might be confusing.

Edited by Asixxx
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Next part will arrive tomorrow for sure. I've been busy today with XC practice, senior graduation pictures, and I also rediscovered the very first Ghost Recon game so I've been running through that all day. 


Thanks for reading my premier fanfic!

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I step into the thick walled, octagonal room and am immediately immersed in a much colder atmosphere. The room is noticeably cooler than the temperature the dojo is regulated at. My frame begins to compensate for the drop in heat but I override it. I have always liked cold. It must come from being in a cryopod for so long.


The Frost is standing in the center of the room with his back to me. His back is to me with his head lowered and elbows jutting out slightly to the sides. His body is perfectly relaxed and yet I can feel the power emanating from his frame. I can feel his power pushing against my frame like a physical force. And I can feel the cold that pulses off his form. His understanding and mastery of his powers never ceases to inspire me.


I stand behind him for a moment, watching the silver stripes of energy seemingly crystallize and liquefy as they swirled about. I am just about to scuff a foot on the ground and make my presence known when he speaks.


“What do Tenno your age think makes us who we are?”

The truth or something made up?

“I can think of a few views, Master.”

“Enlighten me, please.” The truth then. The streaks on energy that I have been following do not stop. On the contrary, they speed up, whirling around and about faster.

“Some think it is our blood. Some think it is our warframes. Others say it is our allegiance to the Lotus. Others do not really care.” I sift through my mind for any other reasons.

And what do you think?

“What do you say, Ava?”


I bite my lower lip, pondering the inquiry. Truthfully I want to say I do not know. Because I really don’t. But I think hard because I always look to impress him. I think about what makes a Tenno a Tenno. What makes us different? What separates us from one another? Visually, our frames distinguish us, they label us. That is right isn’t it? When we first received our frames, we were told that our frames were as much our body as our flesh, bones, and sinew. I lick my lips and it is on the tip of my tongue when something in the back of mind tells me that is precisely not what the Frost’s answer will be. After all, we are still Tenno with or without our second skin.


My eye catches a streak of the Frost’s energy slip off its orbit and burst into miniscule fragments before winking out of existence. Oh.

“Our powers. That is what makes us who we are.” I say without hesitation. It really should have been obvious.

The room suddenly feels dimmer and hotter. The flurry of energy disappears instantaneously and all is quiet.



“Precisely,” he turns around to face me. “Our powers define us more than anything.” He steps towards me, closing the gap between us.

“I assume you thought about what we told you about our frames being our body?”

I nod. I did, after all.

He continues, “Rather, a warframe is an extension of our bodies. We could remove it and still be who we are.”

I grin as he repeats my train of thought. Of course, it was a manifestation of the teachings they ingrained into us at the very beginning but nonetheless, I feel satisfaction in reaching the same conclusions as my master.


He reaches down and places his hands around mine. As they conjoin around each other and lock my hands within, the silver storm returns. Born from his hands and forearms, the lines of pure energy curl around my wrists and snake up my arms.

“It is our power that makes us. Without it, we would not be the same.” He steps back and severs his energy again, looking at me as intently as one can with a helmet on.

“Your nature reveals itself in the way you use your powers. For you, Ava, I can tell that you care too much about conserving energy, being precise, and being controlled. Thus, I can also tell that you are a hard worker, you pay attention to details, you care about those around you, and you also restrict yourself when others let loose with abandon.”

I am clenching my toes impatiently at this point, curling them in one at a time, and then relaxing them, then repeating the idle motion.

“Am I wrong?” Not in the slightest. I shake my head.


“Enough of this. You can always come to me if you want to discuss the fascinating expressions of one’s character through their powers and how one can use this information to enhance their skill.” Finally. I am impatient to begin the session but truthfully I would also like to learn more about power-character correlations.

“I will, Master,” I reply earnestly. Inside my head, Bella is on the ground asphyxiating with laughter. I know I am the only initiate in this entire clan that would take up that offer, the only initiate to willingly extend their daily training periods.


“Good, now ready yourself, Ava. They will be moving faster than ever before.” From the storage compartments in his frame, the Frost pulls out five small metallic cubes, each colored a different color. He sets them on the ground and steps behind a protective barrier of reinforced glass. He nods to me and I inhale deeply, reaching for my power. Five lights splutter on as the cubes flicker to life. I exhale and find what I am looking for, my frame responds, accelerates the process, then amplifies it. Thin, previously unassuming veins on my armor explode into cerulean lights and my own energy bands of the same blue color emerge from my arms. The cubes, old decommissioned Dethcube sentinels, hover at eyelevel as the Frost programs them before zipping off around the room in random paths.


From the side of the room, the Frost calls out, “Red!”

I sweep my eyes in front of me, searching for a red light in the air. Not finding it, I pivot and turn to face behind me with my right hand clenched tightly in a fist, psychic bolts primed and ready. I see the red sentinel move to my right and release four bolts into its flight path. The sentinel drops in altitude and only one of the bolts barely manages to scrape it, glancing off the side. The Dethcube’s “eye” blinks but the sentinel does not fall to the ground as it would have if I had eliminated it. I grind my teeth together and spin around in a half circle, tracking the cube among the others. Normally my frame would have guided the bolts more precisely but the Frost insists on aiming manually, limiting my accuracy.


“Remember that your powers are not just weapons. They are dynamic, they can be changed. Think before acting. You are a thinker, you should excel in this. Prove it to me, Ava!”

I continue tracking the sentinel as I wait for my frame to energize for another cluster of bolts. When it does, I launch two bolts at the sentinel. It slows down so that my bolts will pass in front of it, but this time I am thinking. As it begins to decelerate, I launch the other two bolts of the batch at its reverse flight path. They both connect, bathing the target in blue, and the sentinel plummets to the ground, its right side missing and its circuitry exposed and sparking.


“Well done! Now green.” The Frost calls out.

I would use the same tactic as before but the sentinels learn. My clanmates’ sentinels that I have seen act like pets; they act as if they are not the simple machines they appear to be. Even these old Dethcubes possess the programming to be half-sentient. As I continue to spin this way and that, tracking its movement, I am biting my lower lip, a bad habit I have whenever I am thinking.

I clench my fist tighter and release four bolts at the green cube, one after the other as it jinxes up and down, left and right. Each one is easily dodged despite the fact that I had carefully timed and placed each one. Yet the cube managed to dodge each bolt by hairbreadths. Those should have hit. Why did they miss? It dodged every one of them and I… I blink. I can sense anticipation from the Frost and I do not want to disappoint him by giving up on this exercise. 


With the green Dethcube spiraling around and flying in a path that would take it above me, I launch four more bolts. This time, I launch them simultaneously but do not put as much energy into them. As a result, the four bolts spread out and two of them impact the underside of the sentinel. It falls and it bounces off my shoulder and fumes on the floor. Just like a shotgun. I know the Frost is nodding his approval right now but I do not stop to look. I would absolutely get reprimanded for losing focus.

“Yellow!” I find it and my mind races for a solution as I steel myself for three more challenges.




I bow to the Frost and thank him before leaving the training room. Despite the length of the session, I feel refreshed having revealed a little more of my potential. I log a reminder to meet with the Frost over power manifestations into my helmet before slipping through the closing doors of the lift. I nod to the other occupants then stand facing forwards at the doors as the lift rises. I step out as the door opens to the residential floor. I step briefly into my room to snatch up my Orthos and Akstilletos before running back to the lift. Bella is probably there already. The lift reaches the communal level and the lift empties out. All but me. The lift passes the level housing the real barracks, the level where the soldiers, elders, and clan officers live. Then finally the lift slows one last time before I hear the bang of the lift locking in to the top floor. I step out into the barren, dimly lit hall. I hang a right and move towards the rear of the dojo, passing only one or two other Tenno on the way.


Up on this floor is mostly maintenance. Not too much happens on the very top level, hence the lack of lighting and grandeur that the lower levels enjoy. I pass through a door and into a pitch black, elongated room, lighted only by five door panels on each side. At the far side of the room is a small panel about waist height on the wall, easily mistaken as a simple metal panel. I walk up to it and push it in, revealing a cramped maintenance duct. I climb into it, headfirst, activating my helmet’s night vision as I move into the darkness. Crawling through the duct, it is completely silent. The only thing I can hear is my slightly labored breathing I used to hate tight spaces but I have done this so many times that they have stopped bothering me. I continue for a two bodylengths or so before I see the bottom of a ladder. Looks like I am first. Had Bella been here before me, the ladder would have been illuminated by a light at the top of the shaft. I get to my feet, brush off my frame, and start climbing. The ladder is actually quite tall and it takes me a bit to reach the top. Once there, I push in a door-sized flap and step in.


I find myself in a small room, a little larger than a personal chamber. It is completely empty and the floor is uneven with some of the metal paneling sunken in or jutting up. What makes the room unique, however, is its wraparound bubble of glass, providing a cleared view of the space outside, of the infinite number of stars, and of the utter emptiness of black between each pinprick of life. It is our personal observatory, a meek replica of the one in the clan’s meeting hall. But it is quiet. And it is ours. I slap a button by the door and one dim, ground based crimson light comes to life. The light at the top of the ladder shaft will be on now as well, signaling Bella that I have arrived. I walk over to the side of the room facing the rear of the dojo and sit on the ground. The observatory, its true purpose no one knows, is located at the peak of the dojo though it is not noticeably the highest point from the exterior. It is also pushed to the rear end of the dojo, such that when facing the front, the rest of the dojo can be seen. But when viewing out the rear, there is nothing but space. And I enjoy the view, the vast void of space relaxes me, I can clear my mind up here better than any meditation garden in the dojo.


Behind me, the flap swings in and I can see the white and cerise of Bella’s frame reflected in the glass. She sits down beside me, hugging her knees to her chest.

“How was it today?” I ask, though I know for certain she will portray the class as a waste of time and dull. She begins rocking back and forth a little then relays her marksmanship class in a bored tone, clearly indicating the fact that: One, nothing eventful occurred. And two, she did not take her session the same way I had mine. I know her too well.

“And you?” She returns the question.

And I tell her.

And meeting expectations, she falls sideways onto the floor laughing when I tell her the extra part of the session.

I know her too well.

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