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[Fan Fiction] Litany Of Avesta: Voidborn


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Part One
"All servants have a place, a purpose, be it high or low. To know this purpose is his greatest joy, to excel at it and earn renown for it is his greatest pride, and the praise and approval of his master is his greatest reward."
- The Orokin Antecedent, Anonymous
The Void. It was always capitalized, always spoken in whispers full of both awe and fear. None knew quite how it had been shaped, whether it had been the Orokin who had done it, if it had simply always existed, or if it had been created by some far more ancient, far stranger, and far more powerful race. Naturally, being masters beyond reckoning at using every resource at their disposal, the Orokin had made fine use of it, building their towers there and much more.
It was said that the Tenno had been born from the Void. Perhaps that was why Excalibur felt so very drawn to it, and yet so very afraid. It chilled him. Tenno were not supposed to feel fear, for they were the balance, acting without feeling or emotion, unswayed by the eternal tides of the psyche. And yet he, on some level, dreaded returning to that fell place. But it was necessary, and he was Tenno. He would not falter and he would not fail.
Memories, crude and vague, like the worn and collapsed carvings on an ancient temple, gnawed at the back of his mind. Faces half-seen, voices half-heard. They were his, and yet not his. They had belonged to the Tenno he had been before darkness had consumed him for centuries untold and the great hibernation of biostasis had left him a blank slate. With practiced willpower, he pushed the muttering and whispers out of his mind.
Footfalls sounded from the other side of the observatory behind them, and he could tell from their sound that they were forced. They are a polite gesture, for the one who made them naturally made no sound as he moved. It was a way of subtly announcing his presence. Slowly, Excalibur turned and looked across the slowly rotating holographic images of the Origin System to where Loki stood at the entrance, looking back at him.
"Still ponderin' the stars?" Loki asked in his sing-song voice.
"I have received word from the Lotus," Excalibur replied steadily. Loki cocked his head at this and combined with the already crouched way he carried himself he seemed very much an animal for a moment.
"Bad news, then," Loki commented, with a jerking nod of his head, "Not that the Lotus ever calls up to ask how we're doin' and tell us everythin's goin' great in the universe."
"You should not speak of the Lotus like that," Excalibur chastised, but he nodded his head all the same, "Very bad news. Assemble Avesta Cell."
"Oh deary me," chortled Loki, and in a blink he was gone, nearly moving faster than Excalibur's trained eye could see. Quietly to himself, he wondered what would happen should he die. Not only was he the leader of Avesta Cell, but the de facto leader of all the Tenno, not counting the Lotus of course. Should he fall, Loki would take his place in both positions and Loki...
Not even the hot-headed Valkyr could deny that Loki was the best at what he did. In fact, Loki seemed to love everything about it more than many deemed healthy. He could be a loose cannon, a trickster, and a troublemaker, and he never seemed to take things seriously. Could he lead the last vestiges of the Tenno? Excalibur did not know, but to replace Loki as his second would create undo strife and resentment among the Tenno and that had to be avoided at all costs.
Four figures stood around the center of the observatory, where the holoprojector lazily displayed planets, moons, asteroids and similar cosmic bodies serenely drifting through space. They all wore their warframe exo-armor, though they were unarmed for the moment. One of the figures stood tall and straight, another was lean and hunched. The third stood with her hip cocked to one side and a hand on it and the fourth towered above the rest, broad, like a stone golem. They were Avesta Cell, the best, and primarily the first, of the Tenno.
None said anything, they simply stared at the holoprojector and waited. After a time is suddenly began to fizzle and the image they all knew so well, the earliest thing in any of their true memories, appeared and smiled at them, one after the other.
"Greetings, Avesta Cell," the Lotus intoned cheerfully. They all inclined their heads towards the holoprojection.
"You have performed previous missions within the confines of the Void, as I am sure you all know," she continued, "And are aware of the defenses built in to the various Orokin Towers. Recent investigations into the nature of these defenses indicate there is an intelligence behind them."
"You mean... an Orokin survivor?" Mag gasped. The Lotus made a small motion with her head, similar to shaking it.
"The nature of this intelligence is unknown, though it is believed to be artificial, or at least inorganic," she explained easily, "Though it hardly needs to be said that it surely has Orokin origins."
"Well let me guess," chuckled Loki, "We get to go in, fight our way through a couple armies of mind controlled what have you's and do... stuff to the central core. Right?"
"An overly simplistic description," the Lotus replied, perhaps the slightest hint of annoyance in her smooth cadence, "But ostensibly correct. Your mission is to upload a datamass to what has been dubbed the Neural Sentry, allow it to extract all the information it can, then make it to extraction with what we've learned."
"With all due respect," Mag quipped, "This sounds like a big job, why only send one cell?" The Lotus' holographic image seemed to blink.
"Any larger than normal force might alert the Neural Sentry to our intent and extra defenses may be activated. We cannot risk that," she explained coolly. Everyone exchanged glances, except of course Rhino. Just as he had been doing since even before the Lotus had appeared, he was simply staring straight ahead with his arms crossed over his chest. Finally, he broke the silence in his deep basso voice.
"Right," he grunted, "Let's get going then."
Alone in her Liset, Mag paced back and forth across the decking. She had been to the Void many times before. In fact, technically speaking, through some marvel of technology the Lotus had not bothered to share, the interior of the Liset was in its own way a part of the Void. Yet something about the whole situation sat wrong with her, a sickly premonition that not all was as it seemed.
In fact, the more she thought about it, the more she became convinced that the Lotus hadn't told them everything, that they were missing something important, something vital, something that might even mean the difference between life and death. At the same time, however, it had been the Lotus who had saved her from her eternal slumber in a cryopod. In some ways, the Lotus had even raised her.
She had awoken with no memory, no knowledge, no sense of self. All she had had were her skills, abilities, and her warframe. Now she was so much more whole. She was an individual, not just a machine, not just a soldier or a weapon, but an individual, and not just any individual, she was a Tenno of Avesta Cell.
As she paced, Herman, her Helios-class sentinel, buzzed along behind her, his servos whirring and lights blinking in concern. Mag could never be too sure just how smart the little drone was, but he seemed quite intelligent, at least in her eyes. Deciding to give the decking a rest, she sat down at the work station adjacent to her weapons locker and began stripping, cleaning, reassembling, and adjusting her twin viper pistols. After having done so three times, however, she realized she needed a bit of a better distraction to calm her nerves.
Rhino had long since lost track of just how many sets and reps he had done when the communications beacon near the front of his Liset began to chime and blink. He wandered over, breathing hard, and saw that the call was from Mag. He blinked and slowly activated the transceiver.
"Rhino, it's Mag," came her hard-edged but upbeat voice.
"I know that," Rhino rumbled, "It says so right on the display."
"Yeah, I uh... sorry," Mag mumbled, "Listen, do you want to come over and spar for a bit? Get warmed up before the big mission?" Rhino didn't answer immediately. He was thinking. Sparring with Mag, or any of the other Tenno like her usually ended one of two ways. If they went hand-to-hand only, he would win in a matter of seconds, and then undoubtedly they would whine and make excuses.
If they used their warframe and innate powers, he usually lost and then had to deal with the gloating. Normally he would have grunted and simply ended the transmission, but Mag was a friend, perhaps the only one he had, and something seemed to be troubling her.
"Alright," he murmured, "But come to me. Your ship isn't equipped for sparring matches." And with that he cut the transmission. It was true what he had said. His personal Liset was designed, decorated, and modified for the sole purpose of training, either alone or with others. The other Tenno he knew liked to add cosmetic touches and other things, but not him.
After only a few moments, as the four Liset had been flying in formation, Mag's vessel docked with his and she stepped in to the main room. As usual, her warframe was a muted blue, highlighted with soft purples and outlined in glowing cyan light. It was flowing, formfitting, and elegant, where as Rhino's, all a rusty brown, was purely utilitarian.
He stood nearly two heads higher than her and likely weighed three to four times her weight, but he knew well from experience not to underestimate something just because it was smaller than him. In truth, it was usually such things that were by far the most dangerous.
Herman, Mag's Helios-class sentinel floated in behind her and upon seeing Grim, Rhino's Dethcube-class sentinel, meandered over to him where the two drones began to circle each other, making a barely audible chittering noise, playfully swooping around, under, or over the other.
By way of greeting, Mag crossed her forearms in front of her chest and long retractable claw blades deployed from her gauntlets. Rhino let out a low chuckle which seemed to reverberate around the small space. He lumbered over to a weapons rack secured to the wall and selected his massive Jat Kittag then gestured with it to an illuminated circle near the very center of the small craft's interior.
"Any rules?" Mag asked confidently as she strode towards the small arena.
"No contact of blade on body," Rhino intoned, as if he were well practiced in doing so, "You must stay within the ring or forfeit the match and..." He trailed off.
"And?" Mag prodded him. Rhino shrugged.
"Keep your power use to a minimum, but I will not tell you not to use your own gifts, for I shall certainly use mine," he explained.
The two opponents squared off on opposite sides of the ring which, itself, was less than nine meters in diameter. Mag crouched low, adopting a balanced Malicious Raptor stance, her talons extended and fanned out before her. Rhino stood firmly, hammer held nearly behind him, pointing downwards in a classic Shattering Storm opening stance. Neither moved, they simply eyed each other, waiting for the other to move first.
Suddenly, without warning, Rhino moved first. He was deceptively fast for his size, a blur of violent outburst aimed directly at Mag, but she was quicker. The smaller Tenno rolled to the side, feeling the impact of the heavy Grineer-make hammer crash into the decking where she had stood less than a second before, making her shields crackle from the shock wave.
Not allowing Rhino a sense to recover, she repolarized her personal shields and watched in triumph as Rhino's crackled, fizzled, and died all together. Bellowing in rage, Rhino turned about to face his assailant, leaped slightly in the air, and came crashing down on one massive boot, the blow from which knocked Mag off her feet and sent her sliding across the ring.
Without missing a beat, she retracted her claws and performed a backwards handspring, using the momentum to bring her back onto her feet. Already her claws he unsheathed themselves and she launched herself at Rhino, loosing a furious barrage of strikes at him. Many he managed to parry, but many more struck home, gouging and scoring his armor plating.
Suddenly, the butt of Rhino's Jat Kittag came up and impacted her hard in the abdomen. She let out a small cry as she was flung across the arena. Mag turned and flipped in the air, but the outer border seemed to be coming on too fast. Finally the very tips of her toes touched the solid decking and she looked down to see that she was perched less than a centimeter from the outer ring.
Slowly she looked up at Rhino and they both stared at each other for a moment before suddenly erupting into such hearty laughter they both nearly doubled over.
Then the communications terminal chimed and Excalibur's voice came over the built in speakers.
"We're approaching the breaching point, please all return to your respective craft and prepare for void breach in five minutes," he announced, and with that the communications cut out. Mag and Rhino shared a somber glance, then wordlessly parted ways. It was no longer the time for play, it was the time for war.


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Part 2


"All too often men are left blinded by the light, so that they cannot see what the light hides. Evil is not always dark, and good is not always light. Such are the truths of our world."

- Collected Sayings of Dorian of Phobos by Karth Maelson


Glass, gold, white, ivory, light. How Loki hated Orokin architecture. The Grineer were so much more agreeable, hardly bothering to light anything at all, and painting everything dark and drab colors. Besides, their spaces were always small and cramped, not seemingly infinitely large cathedrals, spires, halls, galleries, and spaces he could not even have begun to guess the purpose of.


With his vectis at the ready, Loki began creeping down the deafeningly silent and deathly still corridors and passageways leading away from what they believed had once been a cargo dock where they had landed. He made no sound and blended in with the shadows as if he were made of them. The only one who had ever come close to his aptitude for stealth was that bastard Ash. Sure Ash could stay hidden, out of sight, but Loki knew that staying hidden was only half of it. It was about what you did while you were hidden, about wreaking as much havoc and destruction as you could before the enemy was even aware they were under attack.


Unfortunately, Loki had to act as the scout for this mission, and it made for slow, tedious, painstaking work. Every hollow, passageway, door, and cannister had to be checked, all the while moving so mind numbingly slow. At least he had Wraithbone with him. The Shade-class sentinel hovered overhead, projecting a cloaking field over the both of them. Wraithbone had quite the personality, one that matched Loki to a T, though naturally none of the other nitwits could see this. No, Wraithbone was highly intelligent, charming, and a very good listener, for which Loki was quite thankful for.


Eventually he was met with a locked door and smiled to himself. The others might have chided him for "forgetting to bring a cipher again" but he never forgot, he simply chose not to. Where was the fun in letting a computer chip do all the work? Slinging his vectis over his shoulder, he quickly went to work, long elegant fingers dancing over the console in a display even the greatest pianists of Old Earth would have envied. All the while he hummed tunelessly to himself until suddenly the console turned from red to green and the great doors nearby slid open.


The great hall was massive. Every Liset in existence could have been parked within its confines and still leave room for more. The ceiling rose up so high it almost seemed obscured by a grey haze. Loki shuddered. It was just the type of place he very much did not like. It didn't even have good lines of sight, the many pillars, each as thick as a reactor core, lining the hall like soldiers at attention.


"Loki to Avesta," he said over their encrypted comms link, "I've found the hall. Coast is clear... for now."




The four of them stepped gingerly into the hall, playing their weapons about trying to cover all angles. Nothing moved, save for the crystal clear water in a nearby water feature which burbled serenely. So far the tower was much like all the others they'd seen. In fact, it was nearly identical, but not quite. Like all Orokin Towers, it was unique in its own way, and no two seemed to be alike.


Excalibur had a theory, though he had never voiced it, that the towers had once been great mansions of a sort for the Orokin elite, as well as safe houses in the event that something catastrophic happened, which it had. Yet it seemed not even these towers had been able to protect their former owners. And then a shadow disgorged itself from a wall and flitted nearly right in front of Excalibur.


On instinct, he dropped to a knee and followed it perfectly with his boltor, sending a flurry of long bolts shrieking through the air. Where they struck the shadow, they simply seemed to pass through it, and within a second, the shadow was gone. The others had their weapons raised, hunting for targets, Rhino with his boar, Mag with her paris, and Loki with his vectis.


"What is it? What do you see?" Mag asked quickly, an arrow drawn back, ready to be released.


"I do not know," Excalibur admitted, slowly rising to his feet, "Did none of you see that?" One by one they all shook their heads.


"Well let us be extra careful from now on," murmured Excalibur, "I feel as though we are being watched." He then pressed a stud on the side of his helmet.


"Avesta to Lotus, we have reached the main hall, where to now?" he asked. The so very familiar image of the Lotus appeared on all their view screens.


"There is a passage way one hundred meters to your left which leads to a staircase. Follow it all the way to the top, but be advised, I am detecting multiple enemy signatures in that vicinity," she replied coolly, her intonation hardly changing, as if she were listing off the material requirements needed to create some obscure polymer.


"Alright," Excalibur announced to the cell, "Rhino will take point, and I'll be behind him. Loki, pick off whatever targets you can, but also keep an eye on our flank. Mag, you take up the rear, support Loki, but make sure nothing sneaks up on us." They all nodded, needing no further instruction and set off at a full sprint for the door leading to the stairwell.




The first sign of trouble came when a storm of hard rounds began pinging off the stairs around the group. On instinct in practiced unison they all dove in separate directions, coming up with their weapons at the ready. Several flights up what had once been a number of Grineer, including one of their dreaded heavy gunners, were leaning over the side rail and firing down at the Tenno.


Excalibur brought his boltor to bear and began firing short salvos at the enemy, but the distance combined with the upward angle made his shots erratic and they often fell short. Meanwhile, a holographic projection of Loki had appeared on the landing where they had just stood and was drawing some of the enemy fire. Above, a corrupted Grineer lancer's head exploded accompanying a loud crack from Loki's vectis.


Another corrupted lancer was thrown backwards and pinned to the ceiling above him, impaled by one of Mag's arrows. In the interim, Excalibur had drawn his sicarus and was concentrating his fire on the heavy gunner, whose minigun was forcing the Tenno to slink further and further into cover.


Then nearly all the corrupted Grineer, including the heavy gunner, simply vanished, replaced by a blossoming inferno whose shock wave nearly knocked Mag flat. Silence reigned, the only sound being the slight crackle of flames overhead. Blinking in confusion, the Tenno looked around. Rhino stood in the middle of the landing, his Angstrum launcher smoking. They all stared at him, and Loki giggled. Rhino simply shrugged, reholstered his weapon, and unslung his boar.


"Warning," came the Lotus' voice as her image appeared on their view screens, "The tower is now going in to full lock down mode. Stealth is no longer advisable. You must hurry."


None of them even bothered to acknowledge the suggestion, already springing into action. With superhuman speed and agility they bounded up the stairs, flight after flight, some even in a single leap. At the top of the stair, the Lotus directed them down a series of winding corridors.


As they rounded a corner they were met with a single long hallway, the occasional crate or decorative feature lining it. Scattered throughout it were close to thirty tower guardians, some formerly Grineer, others Corpus, even some Ancients. Not missing a beat, Avesta cell sprang in to action.


Rhino, who was on point, was the first to react. Letting out a roar that sounded as if it came from the very depths of the Void, he let his hate and rage consume him and charged forwards, each footfall shaking the ground around him. He barreled into the first of the enemies, crushing them with mighty strikes, shattering their bones and armor.


His boar roared, spitting death in a fiery cone which blasted chunks of both armor and flesh from any unlucky enough to be caught in its swathe of destruction. Enemy fire pinged off him, but it was as though an iron carapace engulfed him and he hardly flinched. Excalibur appeared at his side then, rushing forwards, his heat sword held aloft in an Iron Phoenix striking pose from which he brought it sweeping down, hewing enemies at the waist.


Several enemies were then suddenly launched forwards and slammed into walls and water features while others seemed to be crushed from within, imploding, all thanks to Mag's doing. Suddenly Loki was in the midst of it all, twirling and cackling madly as he let fly salvo after salvo of kunai throwing daggers.


A nearby Ancient swung one of its long fleshy arms at Loki but he dodged easily, running up a nearby wall, performing a neat back flip off of it as he drew both ether daggers from their sheathes at the small of his back, and landing with his legs firmly wrapped about the Ancient's neck. With a flourish he sunk both blades into the base of the beast's neck and it collapsed with a disjointed warble.


Mag launched herself forward then, running along one of the walls, both her twin viper pistols raking the enemy with flaming death even as Excalibur spun, lunged, leaped, hacked, and slashed, his blade glowing white hot as he eviscerated the foe. Rhino, meanwhile, had drawn his jat kittag and was swinging it side to side with devastating effect. Skulls were pulverized, chests caved in, bodies thrown with such force they nearly burst apart upon striking the wall.


Even as Loki elegantly snapped the final corrupted Grineer's neck, silence had returned to the now ruined hallway. Blood, gore, and ichor splattered every surface. Bullet holes and scorch marks riddled the walls. All told, just under nine seconds had elapsed, but they had no time to marvel, already they could hear heavy footfalls pounding down the corridors behind them.


"Come on," Excalibur said, "Let's find this Neural Sentry."

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Part Three


"A warrior wields his weapon, while a soldier is a weapon to be wielded."

- Forms of the Autarch, Grandmaster Heiron


The Lotus' transmission was getting weak. It crackled and buzzed, turning fuzzy and distorted, full of static and interference. They could only barely make out what she was saying.


"According to sensor readouts, you are nearing the central core of the tower," she told them as they sprinted through grandiose halls with high vaulted ceilings. Gold paneling and intricate gilt work artistry surrounded them, but it was becoming all a blur of ivory and precious metals.


"For a tower, this place seems a lot longer than it is tall," Loki mused between labored gasps.


"It's only-" Mag began but was interrupted as Excalibur's boltor spat a salvo of needle-like projectiles into a corrupted Corpus crewman who had just appeared in front of them. Rhino put a burst from his boar into the corpse just in case, turning its chest into something resembling uncooked ground beef.


"It's only a tower in the sense that our ship is a ship," Mag explained breathlessly, "We'd hardly use our ship on an ocean, would we? These aren't literal towers." Suddenly, the group skidded to a halt, Rhino almost barreling into the sealed door blocking their path. Up until that point, all the doors had swung open almost politely, as if welcoming them in. This one, however, seemed stubborn.


Grunting, Rhino leaned back and put a heavy boot to it. Predictably, nothing happened.


"There must be an access panel nearby," Excalibur muttered, swiveling to inspect the corridor they had found themselves in. Intricate filigreed lines of silver and gold formed vine-like patterns on the tiled floor and natural light seemed to suffuse from the ceiling, though there was no apparent fixtures. A railed catwalk outlined in polished gold ran parallel along either wall three meters up. Where it ended just before the door, something jutted up from the floor.


"There," Excalibur said, motioning to the panel. With a nod, Loki took a step back and sprang towards the wall. With preternatural grace and agility, he veritably ran up the wall, grasped the rail with an outstretched hand, and swung himself onto the catwalk in front of the console.


"Oh deary deary me," Loki laughed, looking over the panel, "This is gonna take a while." A scream erupted from behind him then, a corrupted MOA stepping out onto the catwalk from a side corridor and training its railgun right on Loki. In one fluid movement as if he had predicted the whole thing, he swiveled at the waist, arching his back and seeming to twist and lean at a wholly unnatural angle.


Even as the railgun fired, its powerful blast missing his torso by mere centimeters, a kunai appeared in one of his hands and with a flick of his wrist it embedded itself deep in the MOA's power cell in the center of its body. The machine warbled once, took a single step, then crumpled, sparks leaping from its dead form.


"You uh... may want to cover me," Loki said to the others as the telltale clank of mechanical feet sounded nearby, "This could take a while."




"Any time now, Loki," Mag shouted, putting yet another arrow through a corrupted Grineer's skull.


"Now now," Loki chided her. Excalibur gave them both a look. Loki, he had long come to realize, would find humor in every situation, but Mag at least could show a sense of sobriety. However, Loki tended to bring out the less-somber side of her, and that irked Excalibur, but he pushed the thought aside, instead concentrating on the task at hand. Acquire target. Neutralize target. Repeat.


Acquire target. A corrupted Grineer lancer ran into view. Neutralize target. Excalibur trained his boltor on the enemy's head and fired just as Naga, his Wyrm-class sentinel overhead fired as well. The Grineer's head and torso burst apart, showering the nearby wall with gore and armor plating.


Lasfire pinged off the silver-etched planter Excalibur was crouched behind and he hunted for its source, finding three corrupted Corpus crewmen on the catwalk opposite Loki.


"Excalibur," the Lotus said, her voice and image so distorted they were no longer even recognizable. He squeezed the trigger, sending razor sharp barbs through the crewmen's shielding and into their flesh. Eerily, they died in total silence.


"Excalibur," the Lotus repeated, sounding slightly more urgent, though perhaps it was just the distortion, "Move to the door, I will unlock it for you." Not missing a beat, Excalibur slowly backed up, firing as he moved until he felt his back press up against the smooth convex door. Loki was still hard at work at the access panel overhead. Excalibur was about to tell him it was pointless, that the Lotus was going to do it for him, but what happened next took him utterly by surprise.


The door behind him snapped open with lightning speed and some great unseen force pulled him in. It was so sudden and so jarring that it felt as if every joint in his body had been dislocated. In fact, so great was the force, that all the breath was driven from his lungs and his almost immediately lost consciousness. But not before he saw the blackness closing in around him, the only light coming from the open doorway.


And the door slamming shut.




Something lightly squeezing his left bicep gently eased Excalibur back into consciousness. As he shifted around he felt his body ache and spasm and he could see nothing, not even the faintest hint of light. Cautiously, he moved his hand to his left arm and felt Naga coiled around it. The sentinel seemed to calm at his touch and then released its grasp, presumably returning to floating nearby. Slowly, Excalibur regained his footing.


Fairly confident now that he was not gravely injured, his hands automatically moved for a weapon. Much to his dismay then he found that both his boltor and sicarus pistol were missing. Only his heat sword remained.


"Avesta, report in," he demanded over his comm. link. Only a wash of static replied, though its frequency alternated strangely, sounding almost like laughter.


"Excalibur," the Lotus said suddenly. Except it wasn't the Lotus at all. The voice was a sultry whisper, smooth, genderless, insidious. A kaleidoscope of light and energy replaced where the Lotus' image usually appeared.


"Who are you?" Excalibur replied through gritted teeth.


"Excalibur," the Voice replied again, "Come to me, Excalibur, let me free you."


"Where am I? What have you done with the others?" he demanded, but the image crackled and faded and there was no reply. Just then the lights returned in one blinding flash that nearly caused Excalibur to lose his balance. Squinting through the brightness, he took in his surroundings in one gestalt flicker.


Sword in hand he made his way over to the door through which he had been pulled. It stood immobile. He could hear no sounds on the other side of it and placed his hand upon it. Seemingly from nowhere an arc of electricity leaped out and struck at his hand, causing him to leap back in alarm.


Turning his back to the door then, he looked at the only other option the room presented. A long perfectly circular tube exactly three meters in diameter stretched away, gently sloping upwards as to obscure any sight of where it lead. Something about it sat very poorly with Excalibur, but seeing as he had no other choice, he cautiously began his ascent.




"What do you mean that wasn't you?" Mag demanded, chancing a glance up at Loki who stood perplexed in front of the console.


"I mean I didn't do that," he responded, "And now I'm completely locked out. I can't even get this thing to turn back on."


"Great," Rhino commented, his voice easily heard over the din of battle, "What now?" Mag paused for a moment. Though she did not know why, the decision seemed to have fallen to her. Looking out at what lay before them, she calculated the odds that they could fight through the ever-growing force of corrupted guardians, and find their way to the Neural Sentry. Even if they could, which she doubted, it would mean leaving Excalibur behind.


"We hold this position as long as we can," she said firmly after a moment, "And we pray Excalibur can find his way back."


"Ah, a hopeless fight against all odds," Loki commented, leaping down from the catwalk and performing a mock curtsy, "Just how I always fancied dying."


"Who said anything about dying?" Rhino replied gruffly, "If they have yet to kill me, they probably won't succeed any time soon."


Loki laughed. Rhino's shotgun belched flame. Mag readied another arrow.




"Excalibur," the Voice whispered. It was no longer coming in over the comms. It was in his head, in his mind.


"Excalibur," the Voice crooned, "I've been waiting for you."

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(Had some writer's block, so here's just a very short little installment.)


Part Four
"So, on I went. I think I never saw, such starv'd ignoble nature; nothing throve..."
- Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, Robert Browning
Dark memories, like shades of the dead, seemed to cloud Excalibur's mind. The memories were only the vaguest glimpses of the past, and though he was sure they had been witnessed through his own eyes, it felt as though they had belonged to someone else entirely. Perhaps they had. Yet still, witnessing the great glory of the Orokin tower filled him with awe and awoke strange sensations of familiarity within him.
It was an impressive structure, beyond any creation of the Corpus or the Grineer or even the Tenno. Each arch, each curve, each grate and tile was a work of masterfully crafted artistry. No aspect was without a certain perfection of aesthetic design, and not one thing seemed out of place. Each form matched and mirrored that of all the others as if they had all been forged painstakingly by a single hand, a single mind.
Slowly, heat sword drawn and held at the ready, Excalibur advanced through great halls, winding corridors, up gilded flights of stairs, and across tiled bridges that seemed to span a gaping void of infinity beneath. The only movement, besides his own, was that of the crystal clear water that poured out from various water features, spilling into collection basins where it slowly drained away.
"Excalibur," the Voice whispered, pleadingly, in his mind, "Why do you resist?"
"I know what you are," he growled in reply, "You offer not but enslavement."
"You mistake me," the Voice insisted, "I offer freedom." Excalibur made no reply. Something had caught his eye. High overhead, near the very top of the vaulted ceiling, a great acid etched and engraved brass edifice, something white hovered, a hazy blue glow surrounding it. It appeared to be some manner of drone, much like the ospreys employed by the Corpus.
The drone either hadn't noticed him, or didn't seem to care. Drawn by an intense curiosity that even he did not quite understand, Excalibur stared at it. It was the first animate thing he had seen since being separated from the rest of Avesta and he wanted a closer look. He cast about, looking for some means to reach a higher level as he sheathed his heat sword on his back.
A locked storage casement, identical to many he had seen, shaped eerily like an ancient coffin, presented an opportunity and he easily leaped atop it. Two meters above his head was a small ventilation grate which blew warm moist air into the room. It appeared to be made of brass or perhaps gold and tightly fitted to the ivory walls. Scaling the wall was then a simple matter of a great leap, a few sliding vertical steps, and he gripped the vent by his fingers, praying it would support him and not simply pop from its mountings and send him and it sprawling towards the ground six meters below.
In any case, it held, and Excalibur hazarded a glance towards the drone which still hung suspended in the air where he had last seen it. The condensation on the interior of the grate, however, was causing his grip to slowly begin to slip and he searched desperately for another option. Just a meter higher, but several meters out towards the center of the hall, away from the wall, was a long ivory beam of some sort decorated with carvings that ran the length of the room.
Just as his grip failed, Excalibur pushed off from the wall with great force, springing backwards. In midair he performed a perfect backwards flip, then twisted and spun himself about just in time to catch the beam with his arms. Still, the impact nearly knocked the wind from his lungs and he hung motionless for a moment before carefully hauling himself up onto it and standing, finding himself now more or less at eye level with the drone. What he saw, he found strangely interesting.
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Also here's a question for you guys: how do you feel about the length of each installment? If you'd prefer, I could update this more often but with smaller installments as each one, being several thousand words, takes me some time to write.

I think the length of them is just perfect. Not too long that I'm presented with an overwhelming wall of text, but not too short to make it feel incomplete, and everything is perfectly spaced to give the reader enough breathing room so they don't feel smothered by so many characters. 10/10 will keep reading.

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