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[Fanfiction] Children


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Horatius could not shake the feeling. He was under surveillance. He knew the feeling well. Living amongst the wage slaves for the Corpus Board made any kind of life a perpetual struggle against people who wanted to know what he was doing, when and why. Some of them actually had good motives. Not many. So he had learned early to listen when is inner voice started shouting 'Hey! Someone is watching you!'


Problem was, he couldn't see who it was. There was limited cover available out here. The Corpus facility he was heading to had been a minor outpost once. He had quickly scanned a set of high definition maps of the planet prior to the mission, fixing in his not quite eidetic memory what was still listed as intact as a matter of course. Missions rarely went as planned, although this one was going off the rails in a manner spectacular enough for any horror story.


He moved carefully through a small ravine. More ditch than ravine, it was little more than a shallow depression leading up to the steps of the dilapidated structure he could see ahead now. It had definitely been a Corpus facility once. But that had been some time in the past and seeing the blast marks and bullet holes left behind gave no illusions as to what had happened here. Grineer.


His trained eyes also picked up the days or weeks old residue of yet another threat. Weathered bit of bone and small fragments of flesh lay in places. He knew those minute indicators, but the good news was that they were few in number. Apparently, the Grineer had managed to scour the outpost after the Infestation had swept through. He had seen that happen on occasion. The clones usually went for extreme overkill in such situations and that was really the only thing he could think that the Grineer were actually good at. Then again, it didn't require a great deal of imagination to kill every living thing that could be found. It wouldn't stop the Infestation from surfacing again. Nothing would. But it would slow it down. So the facility was not Infested or the Grineer would not have left it without a garrison of some kind. Not even the clones were that stupid. Even they could -and had- learned.


The only good news was that whoever was following him wasn't Grineer. The clones would have just run up and either shot him or dragged him away for their idea of 'fun'. He had seen the result once and even his own cast iron stomach hadn't been up to seeing it for long. Not Grineer, his pursuers, if that was what they were. Maybe some of the Marines? He hadn't seen any. But then again, he had been forced to rush in places, and hadn't always been able to cover all of his tracks as he would have preferred. He bit back a sigh. He needed gear and access to communications. Even mostly destroyed, the facility should have both. Most Corpus facilities had limited self repair systems. To keep the life support running if nothing else. They also had emergency gear lockers that could be accessed by people with the right codes. The gear was there. He was sure of it. If the facility was still standing -and it was- then the lockers likely survived. They were designed to be hard to find even with high tech scanners. One never knew, after all, if a rival Board member would get into his or her head to smash and grab or 'acquire' some assets the old fashioned way. By stealing them.


He didn't move. The voice at the back of his head had changed topics. Now it was crying 'Danger! Danger!' He hadn't lived as long as he had by ignoring that little voice. He was suddenly glad he did as a shadow moved from one wall of the facility and entered a door that hissed shut behind it. A familiar shape. An Ash warframe.


Aw crud... Horatius groaned to himself, careful not to move or do anything. While he had some semblance of concealment... It was not that much. If the Tenno looked for him, it would find him. And if that happened... He was a dead man. He waited for a long moment, but nothing else happened. He shook his head.


He had fought Tenno a couple of times. It had never ended well. He had spent a great deal of time in rehab as a result. The... terror that he had seen on Larissa only reinforced the desire not to face a Tenno with no armor or weapons. Three Tenno had faced two hundred Grineer on Larissa. It hadn't even been close to an even match The Grineer hadn't had a chance. He went still as the shadow came out of the building carrying some kind of... was that a datamass? The Ash did not look around, simply loped off without a backward glance.


What the hell? Horatius did not move. Did not even dare to breathe hard. But nothing else happened. Finally he gave himself a tiny shake and eased from his hide. He scuttled forward, his posture as low as he could keep it but nothing happened. Nothing at all.


It was seriously anti-climactic when he got to the door and it hissed open for him. The area inside was lit with emergency lights only. Nothing showed. The Grineer had been through and as was their wont, had rummaged here and there. Several lockers had either been forced open or cut open. But he wasn't here for those.


The Special Forces soldier moved to one wall and nodded as he saw a specific marking. It looked like an imperfection in the metal. Maybe an impact point of some kind of blunt object. It wasn't. He touched the wall at the spot and smirked as a panel slid aside and a keypad shone. A few keystrokes and he had the passcodes for the facility.


Now... Terminal... Terminal...


Horatius stepped slowly to a wall and followed it until a door hissed open ahead of him. The tiny room was a hidden safe zone. Not much, just enough for a couple of personnel in case of catastrophic damage to the facility or invasion. But from the looks of it, none of the inhabitants had made it to the room. Everything was as it had been left. The suit did not fit very well, but the armor felt good as he strapped it over his boots and legs. Then the helmet. His codes activated it with no trouble. He pulled a Penta Grenade launcher from the small weapons rack and nodded as he scrutinized it. Fully loaded. No pistols, but then again, he wasn't looking for a fight. The Penta was a great equalizer, one of the best pieces of hand held artillery he had ever handled. He pulled a Prova down and secured to his belt. Only then did he turn to the com system. He checked and everything read as working. He hoped so. He knew a bit, but was no tech. When things broke as they often did in the field, he took them to the techs on his team and they fixed it. He rarely asked how. But he did now how to set a scrambled burst transmission up, This was hardly the first time he had done so, if not... quite under the same circumstances.


He took a deep breath and locked the door, setting a telltale. The Penta wouldn't be great for close quarters fighting, but there shouldn't be anyone here. He hoped and prayed it stayed that way.


"This is Spirit, calling any station." Horatius said calmly. Spirit was a standard codeword for Special Forces who did not want to identify themselves. "Requesting redirect. Urgent request redirect to Neptune. I need to speak to HQ. Now. " The response was immediate. Not that he expected anything less. This channel was only used for high priority traffic.


"Identify." The voice was neither male nor female. Not machine or any recognizable voice. Which was intentional.


"Yeah right." Horatius snapped. "If I am on this channel I have the codes. I do not know if you have need to know, so I will assume you do not. I am Spirit. I need a redirect and I need it now. If you do not give me the redirect now, I will get one eventually and when I do? I will let you explain to the Board why. In person. This is a potential net loss for all of us. Get me the bloody redirect. Now."


"Redirect coming through." The voice sounded... wary now. "If this is some kind of trick, though I will see you punished."


"Profit, I wish it was..." Horatius said softly. "I truly wish it was."




"Who did you say?" The voice on the other end was familiar. The Reverend Mother actually sounded scared. He didn't blame her.


"Uniforms and weapons were consistent with what I remember reading in history holos of the Orokin Marine Corps." Horatius said firmly. "And not just civilians in gear they scrounged. They were trained, professional. We had no idea they were even there until they hit the Grineer force we were trying to ghost through. The team was-"


"What happened?" A harsh male voice interrupted and Horatius tried to stifle his anger at being cut off. But when members of the Board were listening, any sane Corpus soldier kept his mouth shut and did as instructed.


"We were infiltrating the area." Horatius said calmly. "We saw someone attack the Grineer force we were trying to evade. The weapons... They were not our weapon, or Grineer weapon. Not anything I have seen or even heard of outside of history holos. There was a heavy plasma cannon that took out Grineer armor with a single hit. Probably vehicle mounted but I cannot be sure. I did not actually see the vehicle. "


"What did you see?" Another cold male voice.


"Entrenched positions from which the unknown forces laid down extremely accurate fire on the Grineer. The Grineer do not entrench. And these? They were human. When the Grineer advanced, there were explosions. I don't know the exact kind, but they were probably things called 'Claymines'. The Marines were known for using those in ambushes." Horatius paused, but no one else spoke and he continued. "The Grineer advanced and were cut down. The area was saturated with jamming." He slumped a bit. "My team... The Grineer apparently had a backup plan of some kind. A pair of Grineer fighters made a firing pass at the ambush site. They were destroyed."


"Destroyed?" The first male voice snapped. "By troops on the ground? What kind of lunacy is this?"


"The plasma cannon that destroyed the tanks destroyed both fighters as well, but I also saw something that looked a lot like something that used to be called a surface to air missile. It was fired from the ground." Horatius said quietly. "But before they were destroyed, they dropped several large explosives. One landed on my team's position. Two KIA and the other two didn't live long after."


"You expect us to believe that some ghosts from the past destroyed a Grineer force?" The other male demanded angrily.


"I can only state the facts as I saw them. I cannot choose what you believe. I was stunned by the explosion, sir." Horatius said, fighting for calm. "When I came to, I found myself surrounded by personnel in the uniforms of Orokin marines. They were... unhappy at my presence."


"And they let you live?" The Reverend Mother sounded worried now. For him?


"I think they were going to take me somewhere else and interrogate me. I managed to get away when they took my team sniper's body out of the vehicle I was being carried in." The Special Forces soldier said with a sigh. "I ran. They had taken my weapons and my armor. I had one other with me, but he did not survive his wounds." He did not elaborate. The Board wouldn't care and he knew the Reverend Mother understood. Oh did she ever.


"It has been three days, Commander." The Reverend Mother said quietly. Horatius froze.


"Three days...?" The Commander shook his head. "I cannot account for that time." He slumped. That long meant someone had had him long enough to do all kinds of things to his mind. They would not take the chance. "I... understand. I will go dark. Profit numbs..."


"Wait." This was the first male board member. "You are the only survivor. We need the information you have. An extraction and interrogation team will be dispatched within the hour."


Horatius tried not to gulp. Those teams left very little of the subject afterwards. He had seen...


"Sir, whoever these people were, they were not Grineer." The Spec Force operative said quietly. "I don't know-..." Whatever else he was going to say was tabled as a deafening crack sounded and the whole building shook. "Oh crap!"


He checked the terminal video feed and it showed one outer wall of the tiny facility glowing as it...melted. Plasma. He could literally see through the wall at an oddly shaped vehicle that sat near the ravine he had been hiding it. The really big gun on it was glowing with waste heat.


Oh S#&$...


"Commander!" One of the Board called. "Report!"


"I was followed!" Horatius snapped. "Facility is under attack! I have to evade. I will be in touch!"


"Commander!" Several voices started to protest, but Horatius cut the channel and fled as another deafening crack sounded. He fled deeper into the facility.


Most Corpus facilities were built down, deep down into the bedrock of whatever surface they were built upon. This one was no different. That... vehicle -whatever it was- was too big to fit inside the facility's corridors. But for all he knew it could sit there and melt it way through the whole place. So he wasted no time, he ran. But he ran smart, his Penta up and tracking as he darted deeper and deeper into the derelict Corpus facility.




"Think they got the message, LT?" Miguel said dryly as  Charlotte fired again and another part of the Corpus facility turned into molten slag.


"I don't know, Gunny." The brand new -and currently only- first lieutenant of the reconstituted Orokin Marine Corps said with a sigh. "Gunny, this is way too complicated. Too many moving parts to this plan. Too many ways for this to go wrong. That was the very first thing they taught me in the Officer's Basic Course. Keep it as simple as possible."


"I know." The Sergeant said with a nod to the satchel beside his seat. "What can go wrong will."


"Well, that and... 'Once the pin had been pulled, Mr. grenade is no longer your friend'." Charlotte said with a snort. Miguel snorted in matching dark humor. Murphy's Laws of Combat hadn't changed much even after so long. "How much more do we slag?"


"Give it another one or two." Miguel said quietly and the tank destroyer hummed as energy pulsed into it's main weapon, transforming from raw power into ravening ball of sun hot matter propelled in a magnetic containment field. When said field hit something solid? Ouch. The only true limiting factor here was power, and since the tank destroyer had a micro fusion pile as its power source... Miguel smiled grimly as an interior wall melted. "He is gone by now. Ah..."


A figure had appeared nearby. An Ash warframe. It waved a sketchy salute to the tank destroyer and set down the datamass it held before loping into the burning wreck that was left of much of the visible structure of the Corpus facility.


"Pick it up?" Miguel asked and then smirked as golden beam of energy did just that, snatching the dtaamass and pulling it towards the hull of the tank destroyer. "Show-off."


"Our part is done, Gunny." The LT said quietly. "Now it is up to Quais. We should head to the rally point. Make sure it is clear. The rest is up to Quais and Horatius."


"Yeah." Miguel said sourly as the nimble little vehicle turned on its axis to start away from the burning wreck that had once been a Corpus outpost. He had no idea what the place had been used for and truth be told? He didn't care. It wasn't going to be every useful to anyone.


Especially after Quais blew the reactor.




The Ash warframe moved without a sound. He was cautious. His quarry was both armed and trained to a fare the well. He had caught a glimpse of the human and that glimpse had warned him that maintaining the highest degree of stealth was a very good idea. A Penta would ruin his day if a grenade landed close. Even his bio-technological armor would have... some difficulty with such raw destructive power. But he had his orders. They did not make a great deal of sense to him, but he did not quibble. He was Tenno. He had a mission, he would carry it out even if it made no sense to him.


He saw the human slide into an open vent and nodded slightly as he altered course a little. The facility was small, but had survived a great deal. Grineer and then Infested attacks had rendered the place one step away from uninhabitable. His job was to render it completely such. Make sure the human was not followed by anyone or anything from this place.


He didn't know why the Lotus had ordered him to secure the data from the facility, wait for the human to go in, get gear and then leave. He didn't care. It wasn't his concern. His concern was far more straightforward as he drew his Dex Furis and took aim at the coolant tubes of the reactor. A howl split the air as the feral denizens that had hidden deep in the facility realized his intent and charged to stop him.


Too late.


He had thinned their numbers before. Now he would end the threat this facility posed. His fire was calm and careful as he shattered the tubes one by one. Then it was done, the lights turned red and a warning siren split the air as Infested charged, only to stop and gawk as he vanished from sight and ran. He had bare minutes to get far enough away before the facility blew itself to atoms. He followed the human, quickly, carefully and above all, silently.


It was what he did.


Edited by Kalenath
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Great story as always, Kal.  Now if only I could figure out what this mysterious plan is all about....

The one that Quais has to deal with?

That seems simple enough, from the outside perspective. He's basically been told to get data so that he can scout Horatius (and vice versa - although it's probably useful data). After that he's to cover Horatius' escape (and wipe out the remaining infested). The attack by the big shiny gun was used to cut short Horatius' conversation with his superiors... although the Marines had no idea WHAT was said and were basically "flying blind" and hoping that they got their timing right. Horatius doesn't want to have the information about the Marines (if he has any - he isn't aware of any) yanked from his skull the painful way, but has (had) no way out. The Marines & Quais are providing credibility AND a way out. Lots of multi-purpose tasks in this and it IS kind of convoluted I suppose "lots of moving parts" but it makes sense looking at it from back here.

(NOTE: The above is purely speculation on behalf of this reader and should be taken with a (if not several) dose(s) of common sense and logic.)


... That got a bit longer than I'd intended. Hadn't expected to write more than "distractions, kill infested, run away" or something.

Edited by DidYouTryRebooting
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 The attack by the big shiny gun was used to cut short Horatius' conversation with his superiors... although the Marines had no idea WHAT was said and were basically "flying blind" and hoping that they got their timing right.

Could be that while Quais was in there he planted some kind of mic in there so the Marines would hear what Horatius said.

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Welcome to the fold, psychicandroid.  


Swear you your eternal loyalty and undying devotion to Kalenath, God of Narrative Nukes, Master of the Plot Twist, and Patron of Those Who Thrive on Cliffhangers?


I can do that part time! Otherwise it cuts into my character tormenting building time.

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Horatius was running. He wasn't sure if Orokin Marines could track him. Maybe they had injected him with some kind of tracking device? Maybe they had some kind of 'Orokin Marine only' scanner that had locked onto his brainwaves or something. He had no idea at all. What he did know was that staying at that facility was a deathtrap. He checked his armor systems as he ran and everything was in the green. Wait...


He double checked the scans, but it was. Background radiation was rising. A plasma cannon -even one that enormous- wouldn't have caused a radiation spike. He shook his head and hurried on his way. Something else had happened at the facility after he had left it. He had to...




Without any idea of how he had wound up there, he found himself plastered against one all. He stared at the huge piece of metal that had somehow been spring loaded so that it slammed into him as he walked by. A trap. He had tripped a trap! He jerked and twisted and eventually managed to get loose from where the bar of metal had him pinned. He stared at it and then at the floor.


He had run right across some kind of trigger assembly. It... didn't look like anything he had ever seen. Not -quite- improvised, but not manufactured either. Somewhere in between. It was...


He dodged to the side as another bar came whistling down from the ceiling and slid by him with millimeters to spare.


What the hell? Horatius asked himself as he stared all around, then he gingerly stepped forward, but nothing else happened. Every sense on hair trigger, he moved forward cautiously. Nothing else happened. But then he heard movement and he slide into a convenient shadow.


"Tripped my traps, the nasties did..." The voice was female. Old. And from her tone? Quite insane. "Tasty nasties! Fine, fine, shall we make soup?"


A form came into sight. It was humanoid but... Wrong. It looked wrong. What had obviously started as a Corpus space suit was now a shambling mass of rags and... was that Infested flesh? The head was huge, misshapen. Horatius' flesh crawled just looking at it. She stepped forward to examine the trap and exclaimed.


"No tasties?" The old woman sounded upset now. "No tasty flesh for my pretties? Ah..." She pressed a wall and something went 'click'. "Something tripped my trippy trap." She said in a sing song voice. "Someone..." She paused and looked around. Horatius remained still in his shadow and her gaze slid over him. "Someone tripped my trippy trap..." She said slowly. "I will find that someone and have him for supper. Come out, come out, trippy person."


Somehow... Horatius did not think she meant 'Have him over for supper'. This woman smelled of crazy. The soldier had heard stories of company personnel who had been left behind to die after assaults or other catastrophes. Everyone in the Corpus did.  But this... He went still. She was looking at him.


"Well, well..." The woman said with a small chuckle. "Company. It has been... so long... Come out. Come out where Misa can see you." Horatius did not move except to raise the grenade launcher. It was dangerous to him at this range, but... "Now, don't be like that." The woman said with a lilt. "We are all friends here, no? One big happy Company?" Something sang deep in her voice. It wasn't anger. It wasn't hate. It wasn't even sadness. It was all of these and more. She wasn't just crazy, she was very crazy. Dangerous crazy. "You are a soldier? My little ones would love to meet a soldier." She made to step towards Horatius and he backpedaled a little. "Come, soldier. Meet my pretties."


"Stay where you are." Horatius commanded, the launcher steady in his hands. "I will shoot."


"Shoot Misa?" The woman sounded hurt now. "Why? What did Misa do to you?" She did not approach, but she did not retreat either. She was blocking the way. He did not want to let her get any close.


"I need to go." Horatius said firmly. "Company business. Company profits are at..." He paused as the woman seemed to go berserk. He nearly pulled the trigger in sheer reflex as the woman started to howl in rage and pain.


"Company profits?" The woman demanded. "What does Misa care for Company profits? Misa served! Misa was loyal! Misa just wanted her pretties to survive! Filthy clones! Breaking in, tearing up everything! I... I..." She was crying.


"You were here?" Horatius asked slowly. The facility he had been in hadn't been used in a long, long time. Years.


"Misa was here." The other said with a calm that barely overlaid the madness. "Misa was loyal. Misa did as ordered. Misa..." She shook herself sternly. "Misa F-41...." She said slowly. "Misa's name was Misa F-41..." She shook herself again. "Pretties need food." She said softly. "Feed pretties."


"Ma'am, don't move." Horatius said firmly. "I will kill you if you attack me."


"Company men." The woman -Misa- said with a laugh. "So stupid." Something hit Horatius and he was pinned to the wall. His HUD went red as pain slammed up through his leg. The Penta fell from nerveless fingers and he stared down at the short metal rod that had impaled him to the wall and the oddly shaped pistol that the woman had concealed under her odd garment. That was a Tenno weapon! A Bolto he thought it was called. "Pain makes the meal tastier. Feed my pretties well you will."


"No." Horatius snapped as he tore himself from the wall with sheer force of will. He drew the Prova and it arced live in his hand. Then a flash...




"Geez, this fake Infested crap stinks!" The woman said as she tossed her robe aside. Under it the woman was not one. The Tenno wore a Banshee warframe."Of all the silly..." She went to her knees beside the still human and sighed in relief as she checked his vitals and found them strong. A shadow appeared nearby and her Bolto was in hand again. But she lowered it on seeing her partner in this odd escapade. "Quais? All done?"


"Yes." The Ash said quietly as he secured the soldier's weapon. "Facility is destroyed. No infested pursuit. Your end?"


"Sickening beyond words." Two said softly as she carefully tended the soldier's wounds. "They went... deep, Quais. I found them. All of them. They hit a gas pocket." Quais went still and Two nodded. "No live survivors. Just the... tanks that we found on our first recon. And the log."


"All these traps and no chance at all." Quais said heavily. "At least they didn't starve to death."


"Yeah, at least." Two said sadly. "He will be out for a bit. You ready for your part?" Quais nodded and Two sighed. "Just don't kill me. Amelia would hurt you. Try to anyway."


"You think I don't know that, Two?" He asked as he picked up the odd garment from the floor and held it out to the Banshee who sighed but took it. "You do look the part of a crazy woman." He said dryly. "Now if only someone, anyone, would tell me why we are doing this..."


"You don't want to know, Quais." Two said with a gulp as she pulled the mass that wasn't actually Infested flesh over her shoulders and settled the huge hood over her warframe's Reverb helmet. "The little I know is bad enough. The good news is... once you show up and save the day, you can leave and continue your hunts."


The Ash was... a bit driven. He always had been but now? He was even more so. Two and Quais had both been taken prisoner by some very nasty pro-Grineer cultists and then rescued by the then sole Orokin Marine left in the Solar System. Two had been hurt worse in being captured and she hadn't really been able to do much until she had woken back at the dojo in the care of the doctor who also happened to be her partner. Quais had escaped once and been recaptured. Then with the substantial diversion provided by Gunnery Sergeant Miguel Smith and a 15000 ton war machine, he had escaped again and ridden away from the cultists in the huge vehicle that the crazies had built for this 'goddess', an insane human woman. In the course of the resulting battles he had been dropped off, run out of ammunition for his rocket launcher and eventually been surrounded by Grineer in heavy armored vehicles. Only the heroic self sacrifice of another ally had allowed Quais to escape. He took such things seriously. Very seriously. The Sheev dagger he had taken from the Grineer armored platoon's commander's corpse never left his side. If he had ever bothered to count the kills he had made with it... they would have numbered in the thousands. He didn't. But... for all his single mindedness, Quais was actually not vengeance crazed. He was paying a debt. No more, no less. The eradication of all Grineer on Mars for the life of a machine that had died to save him.


"Quais..." Two said softly, looking at the Ash. "We understand. Karl asked me... to ask you something."


"Hmmm?" Quais asked as he finished checking the Penta and slung it. He froze as Two held out empty hands to him.


"Karl asked me to invite you to our clan." Two said softly. Quais stared at her.


"I have a clan, Two." Quais said, not moving.


"Who either have not woken to the Lotus' call or..." Two sighed.


"Cannot." Quais said sadly. Far, far too many Tenno had simply vanished in the ravages of time. Suicide, destruction of cryo pods by Grineer, Corpus or Infested or any number of other fates. "I have... only found one. He was slain by Alad V's Zanuka. I... He had not seen any of the others. He said so before he died on that mission. I fear I am alone, sister."


"No, you are not." Two said firmly, her hands still outstretched from underneath the awful robe. "We will not bind you to us, brother. We offer ourselves. Our lives and loves. If others of your kin did survive and you can find them, we will rejoice with you. You are not a slave, not a servant. You are a brother. We will help you search if you wish. You do not have to walk this path alone, brother. That way lies madness. A fact I know well." Considering that her mind had twinned from Serene's way back when she had seen Sara being beaten by a Corpus crewman. Oh yes, she did know. "Sister to brother..."


"I..." Quais bowed his head and the nodded slowly as he took her hands. "Brother to sister. Yours in life and death." He went still as Two embraced him. "You are right." He said dryly. "That robe stinks."


"Get out of here and for the ancestor's sake, be careful when you shoot?" She pleaded.


"I always hit what I aim at, Two." Quais said calmly.


"Yeah. That is what I am afraid of."




Horatius swam back to consciousness aware of several things. One, he hurt. His leg and arm hurt like fire. Second, he couldn't move. He was lying on something that was cool under his... his skin? He could feel cloth and armor on his legs, but his chest and head were uncovered. He cracked his eyes and stifled a groan as light bit into them. Dim light he realized when he could see. But light. All around, he could see glowing status panels. Then his eyes focused and he stared wildly. All around, the status panels were live, showing life signs inside the small life support canisters that...


"Well, well, well..." The cackling laugh preceded the crazy woman into his line of sight. "Back with us, soldier?"


"These children are alive..." Horatius said weakly. "Tell me you haven't been putting Infested flesh into the protein vats!" The tiny life support pods would keep their charges alive for some time, but without protein... all would sicken and die eventually despite everything the machinery could do. He was no med tech, but he could see that some of the tiny forms were nearly fully grown. None looked... off or wrong as far as he could see. But what did he know?


He knew what they were. Womb pods. Somehow, the facility staff had managed to move all of their children to this hideaway before they had been attacked or during the attack. And that made Misa their caretaker. She had been here... alone in the dark... for who knew how long. Tending... her pretties. No wonder she was barking mad.


"Silly soldier!" The woman snapped. "No. Misa knows better than to feed Infested to her pretties. They don't travel well. Always fall apart halfway back. Clone flesh is tastier anyway. The proteins are stronger. They last longer." Horatius gulped and she cackled again. "Haven't had any human for some time." A razor sharp blade appeared in her hand and she sidled towards him. "Easy soldier. This is for the best. My pretties are hungry. A little slice and a long, long rest. You feed my pretties." Horatius tested his bonds. If he could just get loose... "Don't struggle soldier. Sours the meat." She warned.


"Ma'am..." Horatius said slowly. "Wait... Look at the pod!" He jerked his head in whatever was holding it. The woman, -Misa- paused and looked. "The telltales are changing color! That kid cannot stay in that womb pod for too much longer! Ma'am! Please! I can help!"


"Pretty?" Misa seemed to stare at the pod for along moment and then she shook her head. "No. No. Corpus lie. Corpus lied to Misa. Help would come. They promised. Help did not come!" She cried, retreating a step. "Help did not come! All this time, alone with pretties. Help would come. Promised. Help did not come! Help will not come!" She was screaming now. Rage and hate mixed with sadness and despair.


"Help has come! If we do not pull that kid out, he or she will die!" Horatius begged. "I can help! I am no med tech, but I can help!"


"You lie!" Misa snapped, the blade in her hand coming up into a ready position. "Corpus lie to Misa. Misa knows you Corpus." She said in a silky dangerous voice as she stepped forward, the blade coming up to strike. "But you... you will feed pretties for a long, long-"


Horatius went still as  Misa froze. He stared as she did down at the long metal rod that was suddenly protruding from her chest area. An arrow!


"I..." Misa said weakly as a part of the shadows came alive. "No... No... Not my pretties!" She begged as the blade fell from her fingers to clatter on the floor. "No... Don't kill my pretties..." She wailed.


Horatius had never thought to be glad to see a Tenno. The Ash warframe did not move, his oddly shaped bow held at half extension as Misa fell to the floor and was still. Was it the same Ash from before? Hard to see in the darkness. For a moment, the Ash just watched Misa until it was clear she would not be moving again. Then he looked at Horatius.


"Do it." Horatius said with a snarl. "Go ahead, Betrayer! Do it!" The Ash... lowered his bow.


Horatius eyes went huge as the Ash stepped forward and slung it's bow. The male Tenno laid a familiar object on a surface nearby. Horatius' Penta!


"You... followed me?" Horatius asked and then swallowed hard as an oddly curved blade simply appeared in the Tenno's hand. It looked... vaguely Grineer in design. Horatius did not move as the Tenno stepped close and slashed one, twice. Then the Tenno bent and picked up something from the floor. It laid Misa's blade beside Horatius' now free hand and stepped back, it's own blade still ready. But it...wasn't hostile? "What the hell?"


The Tenno did not respond. It sheathed it's knife and then bent down and gathered Misa's still form up. Then it turned and left without a backward glance.


"What the F***?" Horatius demanded of no one as he grabbed the blade and started to cut the thick leather that held his ankles to the... table that sat on the edge of a protein vat. If she had killed him and dumped him in... he shivered and sawed faster. He had to check that pod. Was it his imagination the light was starting to flash?




"Good shot." Two said as Quais checked her over. The arrow had grazed her warframe but not penetrated. A very good shot indeed. The robe had hidden the fact that she hadn't actually been killed. The two Tenno were five hundred meters from the hidden Corpus hideaway that had saved their children but not the adults.


"Am I ever going to be able to learn what this was about?" Quais asked sourly as he helped Two stand.


"Sure." Two said with a sigh. "We know you can keep a secret. You have worked with the Marines. Do you want to know is the question? Not even everybody in our clan does. Want to know that is."


"I... see." Quais said slowly.


"We could definitely use you, Quais." Two said quietly. "Aeron is off on an assassination run and I am really the only other clan member who is sneaky enough to pull off some of the craziness that silly man came up with."


"Which silly man?" Quais asked as he unslung Two's Paris Prime and handed it back to her. Then he checked his own silenced Tiberon. "Nice bow."


"Thanks." Two said mildly. "Took a long time to find the parts for it, but now we see all kinds of kin with them. Lots of Tenno going into dark places these days. We have a well stocked arsenal if you want to try anything else. And... some other information for you when you get back to the dojo."


"Maybe. I like this rifle. Tears Grineer apart." Quais sighed. "Ah well, count me in."


"Okay." Two said with a nod. "First thing you need to know... this isn't our plan."


"It is Horatius'."


Edited by Kalenath
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Kal, this is the third chapter that we have been hearing about this mysterious plan, and gotten not a whit closer to know what the hell it actually is.


I am impressed.  And a tad bit impatient, but that's quite irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.


If you think YOU are confused, how do you think HORATIUS feels?


After all, he is a sneaky fellow himself and any plan HE came up with will be sneaky and twisty. And of course, he doesn't REMEMBER making said plan... Or the contingency plan, or the other backup plans.


Just the THOUGHT of Two, Quais, the Marines and Horatius all dancing in the circles that HORATIUS planned for them to makes me cackle with glee.



total recall anyone?


Somewhat. But mainly... Without something REALLY spectacular to give the company, Horatius' life was forfeit the moment he contacted base.


Either downsized or interrogated and killed. Same difference.

Edited by Kalenath
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This is some great writing, you planning on writing a book? I would sertaintly like to read that.

Also, your writing style see familiar, what books do you read yourselfs?


I did write a book, but no one reviewed it on Amazon where I had to self publish it when none of the publishers would take a chance on me.


It is called STORM: The Way Of The Dragon.


Sequel is coming... eventually...


As for what books? All kinds and sorts. Mostly sci-fi.fantasy. Star Wars, Star Trek, you name it, I have either read it or something LIKE it.


Just got the latest Stephen Brust Book 'Hawk' today and devoured it in one sitting. Word of advice... When Vlad starts tapping the hilt of Lady Teldra... RUN! You might get far enough away. Maybe.

Edited by Kalenath
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Tanya Huff


Confederation of Valor starting with 'Valor's Choice'. Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr. One part woman, one part NCO, ALL parts BADDASS.


Elizabeth Moon


More fantasy military than sci-fi military but good nonetheless.


The Deed of Pakesenarrion

Paladin's Legacy

(More to come, I HOPE!)

Edited by Kalenath
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Kal, do you read fantasy? Have you read 'The Wheel of Time' books?


I stopped after the fourth. They got old.


But for Fantasy?


If you want to cry, read 'The Curse of Chalion' by Lois McMaster Bujold. You WILL cry if you have any empathy whatsoever.


If you want to laugh? Read just about anything by David Eddings (OMG my sides after reading 'The Redemption of Althalus'...)


If you want to do both? Sometimes at the same time? Read Stephen Brust's Jhereg series.

Edited by Kalenath
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Kal, do you read fantasy? Have you read 'The Wheel of Time' books?


I stopped after the fourth. They got old.





Are you trying to tell the story like we uncover the pieces with the protagonist? Revealing the plot piece by piece? I never could master that style D:

Edited by Evanescent
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