So I've been playing Warframe on and off for a couple years now on my laggy as crap laptop. But then it came to Switch and oh lord, believe me when I say that I've been playing the Hek out of the game on the Switch. Which of course led to a desire to write something.
The other character brought up as a focus in this story doesn't actually belong to me. He was made by the wonderful Inspectre. So all credit for that guy goes to him.
Spoiler warnings for The Second Dream, The War Within, Chains of Harrow, and The Sacrifice.
I don't own Warframe.
She could remember the first time she met him. Her first survival type mission, playing distraction in a Corpus base while someone else raided it for supplies. She had underestimated the sheer amount of attention she would draw and had quickly found herself overwhelmed with her Ivara. A call for help had been given to the Lotus, who had sent it out to all nearby Tenno.
He had answered.
She remembered the way the guns had been torn from Corpus hands upon the arrival of his Loki. She had retreated behind him for safety to let her Warframe's shields recharge.
She had stepped behind him and from then on it felt as if she could never catch up.
They had run more missions together after that one. Not all at once, but they kept meeting up at random points after that. Sometimes by chance, sometimes planned. He'd always done better than her. His kill count was higher and he never seemed to have to make as many repairs to his Warframe as she did to hers. She wondered at one point if maybe the problem was just because Ivara wasn't made for direct combat. So she'd tried out a Valkyr. All that had done was override her own emotions with the Warframe's tortured fury and led her to get mad at him for the stupidest reasons. So she'd switched back to Ivara.
Of course, later she had come to the realization that she just lacked any of her own aggressive tendencies. She didn't like the killing. She didn't want to kill. That thought had briefly given her hope that the feeling of being second-best would go away. Surely the problem was just that she didn't really try as hard as he did. Maybe if she didn't hate killing so much, she could be as skilled as him.
So she tried. She pushed herself in missions to get over her feelings and to cut down their enemies like he did. But she still felt inferior. Felt like she was left floundering behind him, struggling to keep up as he ran ahead without stopping.
He was simply better than her, she decided. Maybe training would help close the gap between them. Or maybe she'd been onto the right idea when she had tried a different Warframe, just chosen the wrong one.
Was it pride that had made her choose the singular Warframe that not a single Tenno had blueprints for yet? A desire to prove more to herself than to others that she was still plenty capable of doing great things? Either way, she had worked extensively to slowly piece together blueprints for a Gersemi model Warframe.
She'd had to sneak into Corpus facilities to hack into research files and pull pieces related to Alad V's work with the original Gersemi, the one that had been stripped for Zanuka, leaving behind the shell of rage that was Valkyr. There had been lots of raids into the Void as well, scouring every last nook and cranny in Orokin temples for anything relating to Gersemi that might help.
She'd done all of it herself, and it had all paid off in the end. She managed to build a Gersemi for herself, and once she had gotten used to the Warframe's abilities, she had invited him for a mission.
And he outperformed her.
Her feelings towards him began to grow mixed. Some days she was in awe of just how capable he was, labeling him one of the greatest of their kind despite his protests. Other days she wished to never see him again, angry and despairing that she would never be able to reach the peak he stood atop of no matter how much she climbed. Most days it was just confusion, stuck somewhere between negative and positive but knowing she felt very strongly about him either way.
She remembered the day that they had awoken together. He had been the one to lead the way through the crumbling Orokin temple on Lua. She was used to only seeing the back of his Loki by then. With her following behind him, the two found their way to the Reservoir. Apparently every last slumbering Tenno was hidden there and yet each of the pair knew exactly which of the pods to seek out. He'd found his first, but she'd been expecting that. She paused to watch him tumble to the ground, walking over to help him get to his suddenly limp Loki. Once he had remade the link with his Warframe and settled into Loki's arms, she went to find herself.
Perhaps seeing his real person first made her realize the same was waiting for her, dulling the shock that would have otherwise broken her link to Gersemi. She saw the body, wrapped in its silver and purple Zariman suit, the hood closed over its– over her face. She reached out with Gersemi and picked herself up. And following him, always following him, she left Lua, striking down those Sentient drones that he missed the whole way.
They separated, each to go back to their separate Orbiters. Only later did she learn that he'd had the Shadow Stalker and Hunhow waiting there for him. That he would have died if Loki hadn't come alive to act alone.
The next time they met, real faces were seen. His silver eyes met her purple ones and she examined everything about him, committing to memory his face studded in select spots with small metal pieces from the Somatic Link and his dark hair with its red highlights. She could tell he was examining her own brunette hair, her face with its black marking that ran between her nose and left eye to curl slightly around the latter. Names were made known. He was Antares. She was Kira.
He was like a new experience and an old memory. She had known him before they had slept. Perhaps not as well as she felt she did now, but she had at least seen him. Maybe interacted to a currently unknown degree. Memories of the time before the sleep were still mostly lost.
Then life fell back into its normal routine. But for such a short time.
They'd gone to Lua again. Teshin had been there, doing...something. The Grineer Queens were involved. Antares had given chase and she had followed but what they caught was only a fake. The next time too was not really Teshin.
But they'd found the Fortress. Archwings had been strapped on and the two had gone for it, sneaking past the laser detectors. Seeing the Fortress itself, she had been ready to leave. He had wanted just a bit of a closer look but agreed to leave after. They wouldn't be able to take it alone, surely. He'd flown in closer and she had followed, simply instinct by now. They'd been seen. He'd been attacked, his Archwing damaged, forcing him to land in the Fortress. She was unwilling to leave him there and had joined him. They ventured into the Fortress and they somehow made it to the heart.
They found Teshin.
They found the Queens.
He lost his Warframe. She lost him.
She watched, unwanted by the Queens and discarded as the weaker of the two Tenno, as the elder Queen did...something to his Loki and then he was gone. She knew he wasn't dead because he was desirable. The Queen wanted the new body.
She was useless. And she was a problem.
She fought desperately against the guards but her Warframe couldn't seem to do a thing to them. It was a battle she was slowly losing. She couldn't do a thing without him.
But he'd returned.
She didn't know why the guards were made to back off. Perhaps the Queens simply wanted to punish Teshin for somehow helping Antares out of whatever had happened. Kira didn't really know what had gone on. Either way, the guards retreated and Teshin had taken their place.
Antares had done most of the work to stave off the Dax soldier, but that was usual. An all out offense, while she hung back and offered what support she could, until Teshin was defeated. Then the guards had attacked in number again.
He'd done it first, as he seemed to do all things first. Stepping out of Loki, blasting a guard with Void energy to disarm it then retreating to his Warframe and slaying the suddenly vulnerable Grineer. She was hesitant to copy him, hating being outside her Warframe. She felt like the child she really was. Vulnerable and squishy. But she pushed herself out of Gersemi. She had no idea how to create the blast that he had so she did the only thing she could, summoning up a beam of energy. It didn't achieve the desired effect. She was pointless in this fight, unable to do the things that he suddenly could to steal away the guards' defenses.
It turned into her working to destroy the braids shielding the Queens while he dispatched the guards. When the shield dropped, he had moved in and then vanished from sight. She fled back to the safety of her Warframe, in time to watch him reappear as he passed through the elder Queen, snatching her scepter along the way. In time to watch him rise to his feet and lift the scepter high, giving Teshin the command. A blade rose and fell. The elder Queen's head rolled away, body sliding from its rising pedestal to fall to the floor.
She decided then that her struggles to catch up were in vain. He was ahead, always ahead, never faltering. He was the hero of a story and she was the sidekick, just a supporting character of the cast, always to be second best to him. It was time to accept it and stop trying to deny her role in his life.
And yet, she continued to struggle with accepting her place. On that mountaintop, she had stared down at the partially empty vial of Kuva in her hands. He had already drank his share. Now she had to decide what to do with the rest. Power... If those tales were true, to drink this could give her power. Or it could drive her mad. She had to choose. Take the risk and possibly be able to keep up with him, finally, or be safe but fall forever further behind.
He showed her later. The Void powers he had learned. Told her of what had happened within his mind to unlock them. Then left while she practiced, uncertain if she was still trying to surpass him or if she was doing this to learn to protect herself.
The next time they met, it was for Rell. She'd been dreaming memories of a boy on the Zariman Ten-Zero, outcast from the other children for his "weirdness". Probably autism, her Cephalon decided when she gave him what details she could of the memories of her interactions with that boy. Outcast by the children and later ignored by Margulis, she learned as memories return. She went searching for signs of what could have happened to him, even though he was likely long dead without the sleep to preserve him.
She crossed paths with Antares who was working with a member of the Red Veil to discover what had happened to the syndicate's holy figure.
She merged her investigation with Antares's. Sometimes she wished she hadn't. The Man In The Wall... He hadn't left her alone since they destroyed the chains and allowed Rell to finally rest. He appeared as herself, showing up at random times, in random places, visible and audible to only her. Sometimes he taunted. Sometimes he asked questions about her as if he actually cared. Sometimes he just stared in unnerving silence. Always he would vanish without a trace not long after being noticed. Usually she hated his visits.
Sometimes she regarded them positively.
The Man In The Wall was appearing to her. He must see something inside her to make his visits worth it. She didn't know what it could be and she didn't care. She hoped, sometimes for her own sake and sometimes for his, that Antares didn't get these visits.
Something definitively positive had come from the encounter with Rell, though. She didn't hesitate to call him the greatest of the Tenno. An example of what they should all try to be. He protected, held back the madness of The Man In The Wall, even at the cost of his own long centuries of suffering. She wanted to put herself to use in that way. But not with the Red Veil. Although they had helped Rell and venerated him, they did not protect the way that he did. They only killed. They were aggressive and dangerous.
She turned instead to the Steel Meridian, who welcomed her into their ranks. A shield against all the innocents out there being hurt by the war. She finally felt as if she were really doing good. Running missions at the behest of the Lotus always involved so much killing. Too much killing when it wasn't necessary. Working with Steel Meridian, she killed only in defense, not out of aggression. She stopped hating herself and the blood that drenched her hands.
Later she learned that he had joined with the Red Veil. She thought nothing of what that could mean for the two of them until... Until the Lotus left.
She heard the news secondhand. That their mother, who had loved and guided them, was their mother no more. The Lotus was gone and Natah had returned. And worse, she had abandoned them for Ballas.
Kira has been distraught. Antares found her. He had been there to see the Lotus leave and somewhere deep down she realized she had expected this. When something happened it was always him. He was always there. The protagonist of a story indeed. He had begun to talk of war preparations against the Sentients and she was still so upset by the thought of the Lotus abandoning them that she had broken down there and spoken.
"I'm...not a fighter. Not comfortable with killing, I mean. Besides, you probably don't really need my help in this war anyways. You've always been the better of us."
Then the unexpected, heartwarming disagreement. And the words that changed her entire perspective of their relationship forever.
"I guess that explains how we've made our choices. You're the shield, I'm the sword. Just like the Steel Meridian and Red Veil."
"I... I've never considered that. Our synergy. Sword and shield. I'd always thought myself more the sidekick to a great hero."
"You? Sidekick? There might be a 'me' in 'team' but that still only makes half of it."
Looking back after that, she realized he had never been striding ahead without her. He was looking back, always looking back for her. Her presence. Something solid, supportive. Of course the sword would at first glance appear to always be ahead of the shield. It naturally had a longer reach because otherwise it wouldn't be effective. And when she voiced this realization, any lingering resentment, fading traces of uselessness, vanished instantly at his response.
"And if something gets past the sword, the shield needs to be there to be a safeguard. Even if the sword reaches further, it's nothing without a good shield to be there with it. A pair that'll always go together."
Kira felt silly now, remembering it all. But children could be very silly sometimes. Because yes, she may have been forced to mature through what felt like endless combat, and yes she may be nearing the end of her teenage years, but she was still only a child.
A child with a crush that she'd taken far too long to recognize. A crush she didn't dare vocalize, fearing rejection, but one that she decided would shape the rest of her life. So long as Antares continued as a sword, she would be there behind him, a constant presence, a shield to lean on when it was needed, to shelter behind when the battle that was life became too much.
Wow my girl really bared herself open to me for writing this. I had to explore her character deeper than I've ever tried before to find these shut away feelings. That's something I honestly love about writing though.
I hope y'all enjoyed. If you did, it's always nice for the author to be treated to a review. Wink wink, nudge nudge?