Warframe and all its concepts don't belong to me. This story uses spoilers from the game's lore, so don't read if you haven't played the later missions.
This story will include adult themes at a later time. Slow boils best. Read, Review and enjoy!
Few things were better suited to send a shiver down the spine of even the most venerated Tenno warrior than the sight of the Orokin Derelict floating in the silence of space. It was a testament to the nightmarish greed of the Infestation, of its mindless competence to corrupt even the most shining beacons of technology and civilization. It had become and ugly, unsorted and tumorous abomination. Even the small, cumbersome Orbiter that circled it right now seemed gracious in comparison.
Slowly, something else came into view as well. It was the crude, rough shape of a Grineer survey craft, embedded into one of the tentacle-esque outgrows of the Derelict.
"It seems that my calculations were correct, Operator!" Cephalon Sicarius said with a bit of audible cheer in his voice "They really launched a survey mission into this death-trap! They were either trying to enter the Derelict through the outgrowth, they were trying to study the mass itself or they wanted to get rid of a ship worth of crew. Hard to tell with them sometimes. Either way, it's a great opportunity for us."
"Sicarius is right, Tenno." The Lotus added "Grineer use primitive data storage, too cruse to be of interest for either the Infested or the Orokin guardians. You should be able to find useful data."
Ria nodded. The young Tenno operator didn't hide her relief. Compared to her last visits to the Derelict, this mission sounded like a holiday. With a flicker of her will, her Warframe sprung to life. It was a Rhino, heavily modded and venerated in a thousand battles. Moments later, the frame was aboard the Lith and heading towards the Grineer vessel.
"Sensors indicate almost no heat signatures. The Infested's focus must be firmly on the Orokin ship." The cephalon mused during the flight.
The Lith shook and screamed as it forced its way through several tons of warped steel and deformed cogs before the Rhino was finally dropped inside of the vessel. Ria entered combat position, Panthera at the ready, eager to saw through infested and Grineer alike. But only silence greeted her. She made her way slowly and methodically through the craft, clearing every room and leaving no door or container unopened. Often, her Rhino had to use its massive strength to pull blast door open or abuse the Panthera to saw through bulkheads as the vessel was almost entirely without power.
"The spore levels are really low…" Ria noted after a quick look at her scanner "With the air filters offline, I would have expected the place to overflow with them."
"A keen observation, Tenno. Grineer ships often have very crude and mechanic life-support. If the gravity is still functioning, then the air filters should have power as well." Lotus explained "You are approaching the source of heat. Keep your wits about you."
Ria sighed. Lotus could ever end a conversation without warning her. Still, she braced herself. The Panthera's blade screamed as she cut through the blast door and with a heavy kick, the Rhino entered a different world.
Ivory and gold glittered around Ria. The rusty, crude steel of the Grineer vessel was replaced with beautiful panels and decorations. Opulence and beauty instead of crude pragmatism. For a moment, Ria wondered if she had stumbled into the Orokin ship but Lotus knew better.
"IT seems as if wayward Orokin maintenance drones have found their way to the ship and are attempting to *repair* it."
"Seems more as if they just randomly plaster over it…" Ria noted, her eyes on places where the old electronics were poking out from below the ivory platings and where elegant systems had been plunged into crude tubes. "So, I guess we can assume that the crew is wearing shiny headgear and are fighting Infested on the main ship."
"A reasonable observation." Lotus answered "Tenno, the proximity sensors are picking up movement on the hab-deck. Find the source, leave no survivors."
The Rhino turned around. Inside, Ria smiled to herself. Playing investigator and following clues had its charm. Spending a few productive hours without constant bloodshed was a rare treat for a Tenno these days. Carefully made the Warframe its way through the corridors. Ria didn't want to get jumped by corrupted. Even a single Grineer Lancer could be a threat when imbued with Orokin technology. She turned a corner and found something on the floor. The remains of an Orokin drone. It was peculiar in two ways. Firstly because it had the tell-tale signs of infestation. Even metal was deformed with irregular bulbs and boils, while fleshy tendrils grew through the electronics. Secondly, it had been shot with a large calibre rifle. Several times, in fact.
"Look at the exit point, Tenno." Lotus mused "There are holes in the flooring and the servo fluid marks. The drone was shot after it has seized to function."
"There are more… Whoever did this really hated these drones."
"The only thing that Grineer don't hate is other Grineer." Cephalon Sicarius added sourly.
Ria followed a small trail of ruined drones. The hits were precise and of a huge calibre, very likely a Grineer Ballista.
"Tenno, movement on the sensors. It's coming from inside that locker room. Approach with caution."
The Rhino slowly drew its Heat Sword. Inside a cramped space, the ricochet of the Panthera could damage the warframe. Close combat usually won for a Tenno. Ria braced herself and opened the door. As soon as she had passed the threshold, a locker fell onto her. A crude booby trap. A human would have been hurt, a warframe would have been annoyed, a Rhino hardly noticed.
Almost instantly, gold, grey and ivory moved behind a toppled locker. A barrel was pointed at her. Ria raised her sword. If she deflected the first shot, she wouldn't have to worry about being hit on the way. In the seconds of focus, she could see the Ballista's eyes behind her Vulkar. Something had torn the face plate off her helmet. She looked tired.
"Tenno scum!" The Grineer yelled and squeezed the trigger.
Deafening silence followed as the Ballista looked over her rifle. Despair set her free. She let out a laugh. Then another. And another. And within seconds, she was laughing so loud and hard, she had to hold her sides.
"Complete your mission, Tenno." Lotus said.
"No, we are changing the plan. Secarius, ready a cell on the orbiter." Ria ordered calmly.
"Tenno, I see no reason to take a prisoner." Lotus noted coldly.
"She is obviously corrupted." Ria said as she approached the laughing woman "But crude traps and cussing isn't what I call typical for Orokin slaves. I want to know how she can think freely."
"I have prepared a cell, Operator." The cephalon said eagerly.
Ria nodded. The Ballista didn't resist or seize to laugh as the warframe defragmented her body and transferred her to the dropship. The Rhino followed soon after, having collected the data and prepared the self-destruct of the Grineer vessel. For a few more minutes, silence reigned on the ship.