Disclaimer: I don't own Warframe or Mass Effect, more's the pity. I'd get all the lore nice and coherent, so things made sense...
Quick AN: Story starts really slow, lots of background and such to cover.
Step Unto the Void
A Warframe/Mass Effect crossover fic
Glaring through the scope of his Lanka, he held still as the flailing Eidolon batted at the Warframes peppering its legs with fire, waiting for the exact moment when the last weak point would be revealed. An energy shell crashed against the distorted excuse for a cheek and it turned. With pull of the a trigger, a lance of energy burned through the air, hammering into a small crack in the Sentient remnant's final synovia, shattering it.
With a deep, echoing groan, the hours of hard-fought battle took its toll on the Hydrolyst and it collapsed to the ground with an earthshaking thud and a resonating scream, before it was yanked upright by the tethers binding it to the lures. Shards of the Eidolon were harvested from its body and absorbed into the lures in a wild flare of nearly uncontrolled Sentient energy, and it was done. A of deafening silence descended on the Plains, that was then was broken by the Eidolon's final resonating scream as it was dragged down into a cyan abyss, captured at last. The storm clouds overhead dissipated without the influence of the Hydrolyst, unveiling the purple-pink light of the pre-dawn.
The victorious party broke into ringing cheers as the hunt was completed, moving towards the lures to collect their loot. As they approached, the lures detonated messily, scattering the loot in a small radius. He snorted in contempt for the inefficient Grineer engineering and moved about collecting his due, not bothering to engage with his fellow Tenno and their noise.
He nodded in satisfaction with his haul, it would be just enough to afford the final piece of armor from the Quills for his collection. He turned the arcane module over in his hand, examining it. "...Avenger type, I think. Excellent." He nodded to himself then stored his loot in his sub-dimensional pocket.
Ramiel jerked in surprise, his head whipping towards the source of the shout by his ear. A huge pair of armored arms suddenly enfolded him, lifting him off of his feet in a crushing hug. "Ack! Sul! Let me go, you dumbass!" He struggled to no avail, twisting around to look at his friend.
"You know you love me!" Sul boomed, squeezing him one last time before setting him on the ground. "I saw that last shot, Ram. I'm almost convinced I should grab a sniper!"
Grumbling and brushing off his Chroma's stark white chassis, Ramiel looked up at his best friend's frame, the golden crests on Sul's Vanguard helm gleaming dully in the pre-dawn light. At the sight of Sul, Ramiel felt himself smiling slightly, glad to see him alive and well. He punched Sul in the shoulder, "Of course I did, but where the hell have you been the last week? I haven't seen you since that trip to Maroo to pick up that falcor you're so proud of."
"Practicing my aim on the Corpus!" He laughed, "And working on my…secret project. Both, actually. I needed a few things from the Corpus, I had a new glaive…these things just work out sometimes." Sul tilted his head curiously. "What about you, my friend? What've you been doing?"
Ramiel shrugged, "Gathering materials for the Quills," he pulled out a Sentient core, tossing it up and down, "finally got enough of these to trade for that pair of shoulder pads for my set of Ceno armor." Tucking the core away, Ramiel took a relaxed stance as he looked past Sul to the rising sun over the ocean. He hummed contemplatively, "And… making some progress on the Vitruvian's files. I think I may have found… what I've been looking for."
"Sounds both exciting and slightly ominous! Excellent!" Ramiel hummed again, turning to watch the rest of the squad make their way back towards Cetus. "We've both made progress on important projects and finished off an Eidolon! I'd say that deserves a celebration! What say you to getting a drink at the Bazaar? You can point and laugh while I seduce Maroo." If his Warframe had eyes, he would've winked.
Snorting in amusement, Ramiel slapped Sul on the shoulder and started the long trip towards Cetus. "Sounds like fun."
They finally arrived at the gates of Cetus, a grand old Orokin structure that served as a portal between the Plains of Eidolon and the Market City of Cetus. The early morning sun lit up the tents and buildings, cutting through the smoke rising from grills and griddles as the people of Cetus began to wake up and move about. The smells of grilling breakfast meats and boiling soup pots filled the air, enticing Ramiel towards the food plaza, Sul in tow.
As they entered the town proper, two children wearing masks skidded to a halt in front of them, excitement plain in their body language, peering up at them with awed sounds. Being much of a kid himself, Sul beckoned the children closer and handed out a few pieces of candied fruit, laughing at their excited squeals and watching as they ran off with their treats.
Ramiel smiled indulgently as the kids scampered away, and walked his frame into an out of the way alcove and Transferred out of his frame with a sound like sheet metal flopping as heard through a concrete pipe. He appeared before his frame in a silver surge of folded space, and stretched himself to his full height of 5' 9" as he cracked his back and neck, dislodging a silver-streaked strand of his verdant hair from his topknot. Absently pulling the red ribbon tie from his hair, Ramiel blinked his silver-shot green eyes in the morning sunlight as he re-tied his hair and waited for Sul to disembark so they could go get breakfast.
With swirl of yellow energy, Sul stepped out of his Rhino with a sigh, stretching his arms above his head. Blinking blue eyes lit with yellow, he turned a searching gaze over the tables and eateries, a grin lighting his face as he spotted a familiar woman haggling with trader. "You remember my favorite, right?" He asked Ramiel, brushing the curved silver Somatic implant under his right eye. "I'll cover breakfast if you grab it. I wanna say hi…"
Ramiel rolled his eyes at his friend's antics and clapped a hand to his forehead, scrubbing it over the green metal of his somatics. "Alright then… Bread first." He wandered in the direction of the best baker's stall in town, greeting a few different vendors by name as he passed by. "Morning Marna. Pik, how's the your husband? Kor-lus, how's your cough doing? Better? Good." He nodded to a few more people before arriving at the baker's. Quickly buying some breakfast buns, he went about finding the rest of their breakfast and made his way back to the bar with some fish-on-a-stick, a couple maprico fruits and a couple carafes of a black local tea.
As he neared the bar, he could hear Sul in the distance. He was talking to Maroo at the bar, "...and that's why the codpiece is so big!"
Ramiel got a smirk on his face for a brief moment, before he schooled his features. "Aman Sul! Are you giving away the secrets of the Rhino Brotherhood?!" he said with his best attempt at serious reproach.
Sul grinned at him. "Only to those worthy!" He replied with a wink directed at the thief next to him. She giggled invitingly, pushing away from the bar with a shake of her head.
"I gotta hit the stars, but swing by the next time you're on my station, I'll have a job for ya," Maroo offered, leaning in closely and brushing her fingers under Sul's chin. "And maybe a little something else." With that said, she strutted off with an extra swing in her hips, very aware that he was watching her go.
Ramiel sat down beside Sul, pushing over his share of breakfast and starting on his own. "Sounds like you were… getting along well." He grinned at Sul.
"Indeed, my friend, no one can resist my charms forever," the Tenno chuckled, taking the food offered to him. "Ah, thank you. What do I owe you?"
"It was only eighteen creds man, don't sweat it." Ramiel shrugs and takes his custom balla dagger from his hip to cut open the tough rind of his maprico, expertly peeling it in seconds before taking a bite of the sweet flesh. The juice dripped down his chin, and he unthinkingly used his sleeve to wipe it, then stared at the soiled white sleeve of his tailcoat. "Dammit," he sighed, "this thing is a bitch to keep clean."
"S'why I wear darker colors," Sul said around a mouthful of fish, tugging on the sleeve of his armored jumpsuit, the sunlight playing off the navy blue.
Ramiel shrugged, "Yeah, but can you say it looks half as snazzy as my getup?" He gestures to the white and dark green coat and pants, "This is Manduka brand, you know. High fashion, or so I'm told." He snorts, "She was more up on that than I'll ever be…"
The Tenno next to him hummed thoughtfully. "…Have you visited her, recently?" Sul asked, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. "I went to see her before I hit the Plains to find you."
"...Every day. Just as the sun sets and the sea breeze rolls in, her favorite time." Ramiel contemplated his maprico, just stared at it without really seeing it.
They ate in silence for a while, the atmosphere somber despite the sunlight and quietly finished their food.
As they finished up, a familiar voice hailed them from the direction of the market proper. "Swazdo-lah, Ramiel!" They turned towards the voice and saw an elderly man with a careworn face and a jovial demeanor dressed in Ostron garb, carrying the Headman's staff. "And Surah Sul as well, good. Good, utz." He smiled welcomingly at them, and Ramiel felt his spirits lifting slightly at the sight of it.
"Swazdo-lah, Konzu. How are you this morning?" Ramiel made an attempt at a smile, but his slumped shoulders gave away his heavy thoughts.
Konzu looked at Ramiel reprovingly, "Ai yo, you know she wouldn't want you to be so down first thing in the morning. It was not her way." Konzu slapped him on the back, laughing. "Chin up! Every day is a new beginning, she always said. A new chance to make a difference."
"Aye," Sul toasted with his tea, "Words to live by."
Ramiel sighed deeply, and drank the last of his tea in one go and set it on the bar in front of him. A few moments later, "You're right. I know you are, but it's not easy. She was… my everything. My wind and sky, the cheerful song of the birds. She was… freedom. And now, she's gone." He leaned back in his seat, so far that it seemed impossible he'd keep his balance, but he managed. He gazed up at the sky.
"My friend," Sul put a strong hand on his shoulder, reminiscent of his Rhino, "It's an old platitude, I know, but she stills lives on in our hearts and memories. As long we remember her, the good and the bad, she will never truly be dead. Not for us."
Konzu placed a withered and old, but still strong hand on Ramiel's other shoulder. He patted it consolingly, "Time will, eventually, dull the sting of it. You will heal, and grow anew." He sighed, "And now, I must deliver some news. Unwelcome, or not, is up to you." He eyed Sul, then turned back to Ramiel. "The Quills have a request for you. They want to talk to you personally. Alone."
Ramiel blinked up at Konzu, "Did they say why?"
Harrumphing, Konzu shook his head. "No, but when a Quill tells you something must be a certain way... it is usually a good idea to do as they say."
Ramiel grimaced, but nodded. "That's true. Annoying sometimes, but no less true for all that." He glanced at Sul, "Sorry to cut our reunion so short, but it looks like I've got something that needs taking care of."
"I understand," the Tenno nodded, standing from his seat and wrapping his friend in a strong hug. "I'll leave you to it, my friend. Perhaps I'll go see Maroo, maybe steal a statue…then her heart." He set the slightly shorter man down and offered his hand. "Good luck, Ramiel. If you ever need me, I am but a call away."
Ramiel took his hand, then pulled him into a hug of his own, slapping Sul heartily on the back. "I know, my brother. In the two years I've known you, you've never let me down once. And I don't believe you ever will. Sho-lah, and good travels." He nodded and turned partially away, then had a thought and smirked. "And good luck, that woman is as slippery as a sharrac."
Sul grinned widely. "Ah, but I am a Tenno. No one is more slippery than us."
Ramiel laughed heartily as we walked away, waving goodbye over his shoulder.
Stashing his Chroma on the cliff above the door to the Quill outpost, Ramiel used his natural agility to hop down to the door which opened at his approach. Calmly, he entered the cave domicile, observing once more the prophetic scrawlings all along the walls, the rugs of rough but colorful make and the various tools and pieces of equipment gathered here on various tables, a few to the sides and one near to the back of the cave set up like an altar to all things Sentient. Beyond which, the far back of the cave was hidden in shadow. Ramiel perused it all as he passed, but paid particular attention to the racks of upper armor lined up along the left wall. He noted that there was a new set of Ceno pauldrons sitting alone on a stand. "Ah, good, still a set left."
An absent, but knowing voice rang out from the back of the cave, "You were anticipated. Our interaction begins."
Ramiel rolls his eyes, "You say that every third time I come to see you, and of course I was anticipated, you asked me to come here." He walked up to the altar-like table and crossed his arms, waiting.
From the shadows, a red and grey armored human paced, face hidden behind a Ceno helm and mask. "This is so, ever it has been and will be. We shall make use of you." The Quill representative plants himself behind the altar, hands on hips. "You are an instrument most perfect, Tenno: tuned to the pitch of the Unum. We have a purpose that you must fulfill, none other can do what must be done."
Ramiel eyed him carefully, "And what must be done, Quill Onkko Primary?"
Quill Onkko nodded, "There is a disturbance. Not all is as it should be. You will go, investigate, and correct the anomaly. The coordinates and pertinent information have already been transmitted to your ship cephalon. Go, prepare, set your affairs in order. This task will take…quite some time to accomplish."
Now outright wary, Ramiel nodded but did not leave immediately.
Quill Onkko nodded, "Ah, yes, of course. Place the cores on the table, and claim your prize." He gestured to the set of pauldrons that Ramiel had noticed by the door.
Ramiel accessed his sub-space pocket via a wristband of his own invention, and dumped the final load of cores into the offering bowl on the table. He swiftly proceeded to the armor stand and, in a fit of impetuousness, picked up the whole thing and walked out the door with it; Onkko's chuckles faded into the darkness of the cave as he marched away.
Ramiel went to his home of the year months, a one-room cabin by the cliffs of the bay overlooking the bay proper. He let himself in with little fanfare, pushing the door open with a creak. Passing the queen sized bed, sized for two but slept in by one, he started packing away his things. The keepsakes of his stay, and his research equipment and materials. As he packed away what few paper books he had, something fell out of one of the larger books. He bent to pick it up, and discovered it to be a flower; a very special flower in fact. An Iron flower. The flower that, among the Ostron, symbolized marriage. It was the very same flower that Ramiel himself had gifted to Arael, on that day that now seemed so long ago…
He shook himself out of his remembrance, not wanting to sink into his memories while there were still preparations to be made. Time enough for that later, he resolved.
Ramiel went to the docks, spoke to a few of the workers there and arranged for his effects to be transported to the landing pad reserved for Tenno by within the day.
Moving faster, Ramiel jogged to the Headman's public station to let Konzu know that he would be gone for an extended duration, and didn't know when (or if) he would be back.
Konzu nodded, his aged visage sad but accepting. "I already knew, young one. Not much happens in this town that doesn't reach my ears, and one of our most beloved kin, packing up and arranging for his things to be shipped out? Well, people talk." Konzu set aside his staff of office, and placed his hands on Ramiel's shoulders "We will always welcome you as family. There will always be a place for you here, with us, no matter what might happen out there," he jerked his chin in the direction of the ocean, as though to encompass all the world outside of Cetus in one motion.
"Heh." A tear ran down Ramiel's face, despite his best efforts. "You guys… You've been, a-a well, a real family to me. Y-you're.. you're the uncle I never had, the guy who always has the best answers when I dunno what I should do. You, and Saya." He looked to Saya, who had until that moment stood off to the side in silent support, "You've been the family I didn't really know I needed, when I needed it the most. After h-her… after Arael's death, I would've been lost without you guys. You, and Sul, and... the rest of Cetus." He hugged them both almost convulsively, not entirely in control in that moment.
Konzu was slightly surprised, but after a moment both he and Saya wrapped their arms around him in quiet comfort.
Ramiel relaxed into their embrace for a few moments, allowing himself this momentary weakness, before he pulled back and took a single step away. He wiped his eyes quickly on his sleeve and sniffed indelicately. "Heh… I guess, what I'm trying to say is, thank you. For everything you've done for me. I'll never forget you, or this place."
He drew himself up and exercised that ironclad discipline for which he was known, and bowed formally in the Tenno manner. Palms held flat against each other in front of his chest, he bowed until his upper body was parallel to the ground.
Konzu took up his staff of office once more, and nodded with the weight of his position as Headman of the Ostron acknowledging that one of their greatest champions must depart, at least for a time.
Ramiel straightened, gave them one last warm smile, then turned around and left in the direction of the docks.
Sul sighed as he climbed to his feet, the space outside his Orbiter blurring as his Cephalon, Jadis, took over piloting. He turned and found himself sitting on the market console, kicking his feet and smiling at himself with crinkled black eyes. "Hey, kiddo," He greeted himself in a voice that was not his own.
"Hey," Sul replied, leaving the cockpit without a second glance and heading for his Transference Chamber in the back, dropping his weapons off as he went. "I'm home!"
His call was answered with a nod from Excalibur Umbra, who was sitting on the ground across from his Valkyr Prime with a board in-between them. Scattered around the room were a few low couches, tables, a small stove next to a wide selection of teas and a well-used tea set. Almost every piece of furniture held a still Warframe; Ember Prime was mid-arm wrestle with Mirage Prime, Khora Prime appeared to be taking a nap on a couch, while Saryn Prime held an Ignis Wraith up to the light admiringly.
Sitting down on a couch, Sul leaned on his fist as he looked down at the game board then left his Rhino Prime, stretching as he stepped out of his chair. "Hey Dad, ready for some more work?" He tilted his head in thought, then reached down and used one of his black pieces to take Umbra's white.
Umbra threw his hands up in silent dismay, sullenly removing the taken piece before standing and following his Tenno into his room. Sul paused next to a pedestal where the Lotus' discarded helmet floated, laying a hand on it and closing his eyes. "I miss you," he murmured, slumping slightly as Umbra put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Come on, Dad, let's see if I can't figure out what makes you tick. I am so lonely."
Umbra tapped his chest. What about me? I'm here.
"Don't get me wrong, I love you and I love having you around," the Tenno replied, running a hand over his short hair. "But Ramiel and Arael were my only friends, and ever since…he's been so sad. I just can't seem to bring some life back to him…but hopefully, I'll be able to soon."
Umbra knelt besides a floating tray lined with tools, removing his scarf and bowing his head. Sul took up a laser-edged scalpel and efficiently carved the back section of the Frame's head away, attaching several electrodes into the mass of flesh underneath. "I'm really glad this doesn't hurt you, Dad," he muttered to himself, switching on a scanner and watching as the lines became jagged. "Now, where was I?"
Ramiel trod a familiar path down the coast to the east of Cetus, passed the docks and its cheerful workers, passed the ancient remnants of Orokin landing pads. He breathed in the scent of the ocean, the fish and brine and the stench of dead things rotting in the sun. Over the crash of the waves he could faintly hear the whir of balloons carrying slabs of meat from the Unum's Tower, and he smiled in remembered bemusement and fondness.
"...Are you sure this is safe to eat? I mean, it came from an Orokin tower. That's not exactly a normal source of meat." Ramiel frowned down at the plate of oddly fatty meat set on the table before him, and leaned forward on his stool to inspect it. Long strands of raven hair brushed his cheek as a thin but very feminine form pressed itself to his back, and he stiffened momentarily before he relaxed against her, breathing in the heady mixture of her familiar scent of cherry blossoms, vanilla and femininity. The spicy smell of the meat drifted up to create an odd bouquet of sweet, spicy and savory, all at the same time.
"You'll never know till you try it, Ram." She wrapped her arms around Ramiel and brushed a kiss against his cheek, then reached past him under his arms to grab the knife and fork on the counter and cut a large bite-sized piece of curiously textured meat. Holding the piece of meat in front of their faces, she looked over at Sul in the seat next to them with almond shaped eyes, and saw that he also looked mildly reluctant to take the first bite. She smirked wickedly, "Aww, is the big, tough Rhino afraid of a little meat?"
Ramiel's eyebrow twitched, "You know, that applies to me too…"
"It came from a wall," Sul pointed out, before sighing loudly. He cut a chunk of meat from the steak in front of him and impaled it on a fork, holding it up at eye-level. "I'll do it if you do."
Ramiel threw his head back onto her shoulder and looked up at her fine featured face. She looked down at him with a single penciled eyebrow raised over crimson almond shaped eyes. Her smirk widened; She knew she had him. "Fine, Arael. I'll eat the wall-steak."
Arael grinned outright, and pecked him on the lips in a quick, birdlike motion and giggled as his grumpy expression turned slightly dreamy, before refocusing as she positioned the hunk of meat between their mouths.
His silver-streaked emerald eyes met her crimson as they took a bite in unison, turning it into a kiss around the fork. Ramiel sat forward, chewing contemplatively. "It's… weird. Spicy, and sweet at the same time. I dunno how else to describe it." He turned to Sul, who was enthusiastically chomping on his bite.
"I love it!" He declared, cutting a large portion from the steak and cramming it in his mouth. "Ifs delisus!"
Arael snorted with laughter around her bite, moving back to her own stool to Ramiel's left. "Yeah, it's pretty good. Like marbled steak."
"...Thanks for suggesting we try this, Arael." Ramiel smiled at her, as he cut another slice. "I probably never would've taken the chance otherwise."
She smiled her wicked smirk, but there was a softer edge to it. "I know."
Ramiel's smile slowly faded as he walked up to the precipice of the highest cliff, and knelt in front of the man-sized raven statue perched there on the very edge of the cliff, wings spread as though about to take flight. The sea wind rustled his bangs, blowing them away from his face as the trailing ribbon in his hair snapped in the wind.
"...Hello, Arael. It's been six months since you... passed, and a lot has happened in that time. We destroyed the last of the Ghoul cloning facilities, rebuilt everything Cetus lost in the attack, buried the dead… and destroyed Vay Hek, once and for all." He hesitated, then pushed on, "I… did the deed personally, for you. Just for you. That monster had to be destroyed, utterly, for what he did. Sul and I… we made sure of it."
He took a deep shuddering breath as tears rolled down his cheeks. "...I m-miss you. We all do, but, me especially. Things aren't- I'm not the same without you. They never will be. But now, it's time for me to go. The Quills have a mission for me, and I don't know when I'll be back. So… This is goodbye, at least for now."
Ramiel shuddered with emotion, tears pouring down his cheeks as the sun rose into the sky. He tried and failed to pull himself away, and the sun was well overhead by the time that he heard a beeping from his wristband. He dashed the tears from his eyes and checked it, the simple screen read out a concise message from Ordis informing him that his belongings had been loaded into the Scimitar and delivered to his Orbiter, the Rolling Thunder.
It was time to go.
Ramiel stood, on slightly shaky legs, wiped his face on his sleeve and shook the feeling back into his extremities. Done, he walked up beside the statue and gazed out over the cliff towards the bay, resting one hand on the bird's wing.
He glanced at it, then smirked, "Once more, before I go." Then tossed himself off the cliff.
He dove into the wind, body streamlined for speed as he fell, the wind roaring passed his ears in a cacophony that meant freedom. Adrenaline surged through his veins, his heart hammered at his rib cage as he grinned manically in the face of impending death.
In the final hundred feet before the crests of the waves, Ramiel finally reached for his wrist computer, and spun it around his wrist as he dropped below the crest of a massive wave.
All was silent for a moment, before with a whoop of exhilaration Ramiel swooped out from below the crest of the wave just before it crashed into the cliff, riding the spray out and over the rocks with a whine of overclocked thrusters.
Laughing and hollering, he hopped from one wave to another, riding up the side of one and crashing through the leading edge before he spun his board and inverted himself as he followed the swell of the wave, tracing his fingers over it before he kick-flipped his board and righted himself.
He whooped and hollered his way all the way back to the bay and his frame, stashed now by the landing pad where his Scimitar waited.
His goodbyes said, Ramiel departed Cetus.
Ordis ran his forty-seventh system diagnostic as they transitioned from Europa orbit to the Void sector, while Ramiel accessed his the comms terminal and called Sul.
The comm beeped four times before Sul answered, his cheerful voice joined by the sounds of someone jumping along a wall. "Hello! What's going on, my friend?" The comm burst into static. "Gah! Laser!"
Ramiel snorted, "Dude, if you're busy you coulda just said so. Just calling to let you know that I'm heading to the Void sector to check something out for the Quills, they say it might take a while. I dunno what exactly I'm heading into, so I might be out of touch for awhile." He paused, "Onkko seemed to think it might be a long-term mission, but I'll definitely call every third day or so."
"Busy is a matter of perspective," he replied, grunting quietly before adding, "A-ha! What a lovely statue. It's mine now. Are you sure you don't want some company, Ramiel? If you're left alone too long, your angst will create a singularity."
Ramiel snorted and smirked for a moment, before getting serious again. "You know I'd love to have you along, but the Quills said I'm supposed to go alone. I'm starting to get a little worried about what I'm heading into, but… Well, I'm prepared. Got my Rhino locked and loaded, guns are ready, and my amp is maintained. Short of another goddamned Balorian, or Hunhow somehow coming back, I'll probably be fine."
"Mm," Sul hummed thoughtfully. "A week. If I don't hear from you in a week, I'm following you and damn the Quills. You were my first friend, Ramiel. And the last I have." There was a quiet growl. "You don't count, you're my dad."
"...I still think it's weird how you call him your dad, but who the hell am I to judge." Ramiel shrugged and smiled, "A week then. I know there's no way to dissuade you, so I won't try. Besides, if you don't hear from me in that long, I'm probably in it deep anyway. So come in guns blazing, a'right?" He winked.
Just then, the console beeped and Ordis came over the comms, "Operator, we've arrived in the Void sector. I would recommend that you come to Navigation at once."
Ramiel turned back to the terminal, "Looks like the curtain's up, show time. Catch you later, brother."
"Stay safe, brother. Don't forget your Iron Skin."
Ramiel barked a laugh, "That'd be like forgetting my ass, Sul! Never gonna happen." Still laughing, Ramiel waved and signed off.
Leaving his quarters, Ramiel slid down the ladder to the Armory, giving his Rhino a cursory inspection as he passed. The standard shell of a Rhino Prime had been replaced with the Palatine-type shell, and painted a fluorescent combination of ultraviolets and blues, as though the frame were being viewed under a black-light. He smirked, remembering the awesome party that Sul had helped arrange on the Strata relay to celebrate it's completion and the destruction of the latest Balorian fleet. It'd been a good day, a better night, and hangovers all around the next morning.
Passing the mountain of fur and claws that was his kubrow Titan with his kavat Corcra sleeping on his head, Ramiel climbed the ramp to Navigation and gazed out the window.
Against the usual drifting blue-grey nebulae of the Void sector, the anomaly stood out most starkly. It appeared as gigantic multi-armed rift radiating a golden energy spanning roughly two million kilometers in length, shifting from moment to moment in a way that appeared as though… alive.
"Ordis, what am I looking at, exactly?"
There was a pause, then, "I'm not entirely sure, Operator. It appears to be some sort of -TeNtaCleD SpAcE AnUs! - rift in space/time. Something is interfering with my scanners, I can't seem to find the cause…"
Ramiel stared at the console for a minute, "...Oookay then." He shook his head, Ordis had always been a little screwy. "Can you clear it up at all, or do we need to get closer?"
Ordis processed for a moment, then came back with "There doesn't seem to be anything I can do from here, Operator. We'll have to go in -aNd PrObE iT!- and get a closer look."
He stared at Ordis's avatar on the console for a moment longer, then sighed. "Aalright then, I guess it's time for me to do my job." He walked back down the Armory and Transferred himself into his Rhino, checking once more that his gear was in place. Reaching over his right shoulder, he grasped at air that was filled in a blur of silver energy with his specially modded Boltor Prime, and verified that the radiation and armor-piercing mods were in place, before replacing it.
Reaching behind his waist, he grabbed the folded polearm off his lower back and verified the action was working correctly, deploying it in a buzz of radioactivity and toxic plumes. He swung it in a short arc while channeling his energy through it, and smiled in appreciation as the energy projected itself into a six foot blade beyond the head of his halberd.
Quickly folding it back down, he moved on to his final piece of gear. A pair of Dex Furis gifted to him on the third anniversary of his Awakening, with clips modified to imbue the rounds in them with corrosive energy.
Satisfied with his loadout, Ramiel headed to the ramp to Navigation and hit the button to lift the ramp, taking the ladder underneath it down to the hangar. He quickly loaded himself into the underside of his Liset drop ship, chosen for its enhanced sensorium. "Ready for launch."
With the whine of engines spooling up and the grinding of the hangar door, Ramiel was launched into the Void.
Tapping into the video feed of the Liset, Ramiel piloted the drop ship closer to the anomaly, the sensorium suite lighting up with strange readings and off-the-charts energy levels as he closed within a 600km of the apparent center of the anomaly. As Ordis parsed the readings, Ramiel kept a wary eye on the arms of the thing, watching for any overt fluctuations in its behavior.
A few minutes passed, and Ordis hummed to himself in consternation. "...Operator, these readings are… Odd, to say the least. Operator, we shall have to take a closer look, for better readings."
Ramiel looked at the anomaly with mixed suspicion and curiosity, and hesitated. "Are we sure this is wise, Ordis? This thing looks uncomfortably like a massively scaled up Void Rift, the kind that emits the corrosive traces we use to crack open relic capsules. Are we certain it's safe to get any closer?" As he spoke, Ramiel ran some simple diagnostic programs, checking the capacity of the Liset's shield emitters and engines: everything came back green.
Ordis replied almost immediately, "Nothing is certain in life, but if this follows standard behaviors for rifts of its apparent assortment, you should be relatively safe. By your command, Operator."
He sighed, resigned that he would have to risk it for the brisket, as it were. "Alright, I'm going in, Ordis." Pushing forward on the throttle stick, Ramiel eased the engines into forward and drifted closer to the anomaly's core.
As they neared the 250km mark, Ordis took new readings. "This is… bizarre, beyond strange even. It's almost as though it were… Alive."
Almost as though Ordis had given some sort of signal, the anomaly started pulsing like a colossal heartbeat and its arms moving with purpose, closing in on the Liset like the mouth of a Lephantis around its prey. "Operator, it's trying to trap you! Run!"
Firing the maneuvering thrusters and slamming the throttle to full power, Ramiel slalomed the ship around in a hairpin turn as he gritted out, "No shit, Ordis! All power to engines!"
Powering his way away from the anomaly, Ramiel could see the arms of the thing contacting pieces of space junk and either obliterating or absorbing them, he couldn't tell which. "Ohhhh shit…" Desperate, Ramiel cut power to life-support systems to get every single erg of energy to the engines he possibly could, now reliant on his Warframe's shields to sustain him.
No matter how much energy Ramiel poured into the engines, the arms of the anomaly were gaining ground at a much faster rate, and it seemed inevitable that he would be caught between them. As they neared, he could see an incredible multitude of smaller arms branching off of the five large arms, like cilia from a cell. Ahead of him, a chunk of an old Orokin derelict was caught in between several of those cilia-arms and grappled, being torn in multiple directions and quickly shredded and absorbed.
Glancing from one arm to the next, Ramiel comes to a realization. There's no way to escape flying away from the anomaly. His only chance is to avoid the small arms and somehow either blast his way through the anomaly, or fly straight through it. "Ordis! Bring the Thunder to me, we've only got one shot at this!"
"What? Operator, but that's…! Oooh, the things I do for you!" In a burst of Void energy, the Orbiter narrowly squeezes between the arms of the anomaly, flying directly towards the Liset at full speed.
"Ordis, open the landing bay, I'm coming in." Pulling another hairpin turn, Ramiel shut down everything except for thrusters and controls, trusting in his memory to steer him in the right direction long enough for Ordis to scoop up the Liset in the landing bay.
Besides the tooth-rattling whine of the engines transmitted through his frame's contact with the drop harness and control sticks, there was silence until there was an almighty CRASH as the Liset smashed into something, and suddenly there was blessed air flooding the cockpit and sound returned to the world.
"-erator, what are we going to do?! We're trapped like bugs in here! Operator!?" Ordis could just barely be heard over the roar of the Orbiter's sublight engines as Ramiel smashed the eject button, dropping himself on to the deck of the landing bay.
Ramiel barked out, "Ordis! FTL engines, NOW! Straight through the core! It's our only chance!"
"What?! But Operator, that would… Oh to hell with it, here we gooo!" With a punch that rattled the ship to its core, Ordis accelerated the ship to faster-than-light speeds in a much shorter time than is strictly advisable for any ship, let alone one of the Rolling Thunder's size.
In less than the blink of an eye, the Rolling Thunder impacted the event horizon of the anomaly… and disappeared.
Hey all, welcome to my very first published complete chapter, of anything, ever! :D
I hope you all enjoyed it, I certainly enjoyed writing it and working with my good friend Soleneus to make it happen. You can be sure, without him to help goad me into focusing and getting it done, this would never have reached completion. So, a big round of virtual applause to him for that!
*waits for clapping to stop* Sol: Thank you, thank you! I'm just glad to be here.
Alrighty then. So I had the idea for this while I was at work one day, and it just got stuck in my head and kept building on itself until I just had to put it down in some form of written media. It started with the idea of, "What do Tenno eat?" and went from there. My first thought was "Well, we catch all those fish in the Plains, fish meat I guess?" and it just kinda went from there.
I have a few chapters outlined for this, and it should be an interesting read if nothing else. Lots of action.
Sol: That, I can guarantee ;D
Oh, a couple quick notes, just to clarify things.
First, timeline-wise, this occurs four years after the first Tenno awakened from cryo, and about a year after Shepard died at the end of ME1.
Second, pairings are undecided at this time, so asking probs won't get you anything yet. If you have a suggestion, give me your reasoning in a review and I'll take a look, and PM you about it if your reasoning is sound or interesting.
That's all for now folks, this is Dairegh, signing off.
Sol: Stay Awesome!