As always, it was cold. He didn't really mind the cold. Ever since he had been initiated into the secrets, he never really felt heat or cold except as inputs in his suit systems. But it was always there.
The voice was in his head and it was familiar. He groaned a little, still mostly asleep. What was it THIS time? Another pirate band? A self styled dictator whose grandiose dreams threatened all of the solar system? Or was it something worse? He remembered the war.
He had been born human. He had been raised by a loving family. His father had been strict, but fair. His mother had loved to sing. His siblings, ever inventive, clever and funny... Gone. All of them, in a wave of destruction that had torn through the habitat that his family had called home. A wandering ship had found him, the only survivor. Fourteen years old and alone. He hadn't been hurt, but... It had taken two years for people to coax him into speech again. Even now, so many centuries later, he was laconic to the extreme. He never used two words when one would suffice.
He had wanted to fight, but humans simply were not capable of fighting in the environments that the wars of the day occurred in. So when head reached the age of majority, he had gone looking for the legends. Hunting the myths. Seeking the Tenno. For three years, he had sought the Tenno. He had searched every planet in the solar system as carefully as he could. Of course, he had been wary. There WAS a war on after all, and both sides tended to shoot first and not ask questions later. Then his ship was attacked.
He didn't remember it all. He remembered fear, pain, anger... He remembered trying to fight, but his weapons were useless. He remembered the laugh of the enemy soldier as the scum stood over him, weapon poised to end his life. He hadn't shut his eyes, he wanted to see the eyes of the one who killed him so he had seen it happen. One moment, the enemy soldier had been laughing and aiming, the next he had been dead. Utterly silent, a long metal rod had come from nowhere and pinned the enemy soldier to the wall. Later he had found out the rod had been something called an 'arrow'. He even learned how to use the weapon that fired it, an ancient device called a 'bow'. The Tenno had appeared, a ghostly form that danced through the enemy ranks. One Tenno, half a hundred enemy. Not even close to even odds. The enemy soldiers had no chance. The fight didn't last long. In just a few moments, nothing but corpses were left and the Tenno was looking at him. He remembered looking for emotion on the alien face, not realizing it was a helmet.
"You seek the Tenno." The warrior had asked. The voice had been neutral, but had the hint of something feminine.
"I do." He had replied.
"Why?" The Tenno sounded calm and sure. He had envied that.
"At first I sought vengeance. Now I seek justice." He had replied simply and honestly. Lying to Tenno didn't work by all accounts. How naive he had been. How...silly. How idealistic.
"Justice?" The Tenno had replied, sounding almost amused. "You think Tenno are forces of justice?"
"No." He had replied. "But you do what must be done." He remembered pausing and then speaking again. "I believe I have been...called to your path." At that, the alien warrior had stiffened.
"You do not know of what you speak, human child." The Tenno had replied evenly. "For child you are still."
"I know." He had said. "But I want to learn." The Tenno had looked at him for a long time, and then it had turned to go. His heart had crumpled in his chest, but then it had spoken.
He had. He had followed the Tenno onto another ship. A smaller ship. Just looking at it, it was light, fast and highly maneuverable. The cryo pod that the Tenno had led him too had looked like a coffin. He had been afraid of it, but had laid down inside without protest. He still remembered the Tenno's parting words, all these centuries later.
"We will meet again."
But they hadn't. Centuries had passed. He had learned so much, about so many things, it blurred. The training was relentless. The fighting actually seemed easier in many respects. He had...
The voice sounded in his skull again and he made a noise of acknowledgement.
I am here. He replied in the way of his kind. He could tell the cryo systems were powering down. He started his own diagnostic checks as a matter of course. One did not assume that the warframe that one inhabited had survived undamaged, even ensconced in a cryo pod, on a small Tenno starship hidden in the vastness of space, there was danger.
You are needed. Did he know the female voice? He had met so many over the centuries that like much, it blurred. There is danger. You are called.
We answer the call. He replied in ancient benediction. We are Tenno. He did not ask how long he had been asleep. It likely wouldn't have meant anything to him anyway. Time lost all meaning when one spent so long asleep. Where?
He wasn't asking where he was. No, he was asking where to go. Every time he woke, he had to do this all over again. Learn to be who and what he was again. He was good at it, but it was still a pain. A quick flip of mental switches brought up a readout of what weapons he had available. As he perused it, a mental wince rang through him. It seemed that while his warframe hadn't taken any damage during his long sleep, his on ship armory hadn't been so fortunate. His weapons... What was left of them had been recycled. He sighed mentally and ordered his ship to fabricate basic gear. A Laton pistol, a Braton rifle and a Skana sword were not great, but they would suffice until he could scavenge the raw materials to make better gear. It wasn't nearly the first time this had happened. Once he had woken and there had been a hole in his warframe. A micro meteor had torn through it only a little bit before he had woken, not enough time for the self repair functions to take effect. The other Tenno had ribbed him mercilessly about the hole in his arm even after it had vanished. But it hadn't affected his fighting.
Status? The feminine voice asked.
Warframe green He replied. Weapons red. Correcting.
Understood. The feminine voice said calmly. The situation is complex.
When is it ever NOT? The now awake Tenno asked sourly. Destination?
Mercury. The feminine voice replied. I am the Lotus, I am your guide.
I remember. The Tenno replied as he keyed his ship's systems to head for the planet closest to the star that his ancestors had called Sol. The Lotus, or someone with that name anyway, had been there every time he had woken. He didn't know -or care- if it was the same being. It wasn't germane. Who is the enemy?
There are several. The Lotus replied calmly. The ones you will face immediately are called the Grinneer.
Intelligence? He asked as he looked over his meager supplies.
They have amassed a huge army of genetically engineered troops. Their soldiers are heavily armored and well trained. The Lotus sounded uneasy, a first in his experience. They are a match for you in sheer numbers at the very least.
We will prevail The Tenno intoned. We are Tenno. How many others? Silence answered him and he paused. How many other Tenno have you contacted?
The call has gone out and others are responding. The Lotus replied. We may need all of them.
It's THAT bad? The Tenno asked incredulously.
The Grinneer are only one of several threats currently. A techo-organic virus has claimed many habitats and ships and a large corporation called Corpus has claimed as many. A three way war has erupted. The Lotus said sadly. The people of this system are woefully unprepared for such savagery
We are. The Tenno replied. I will arrive at Mercury within the hour. Orders?
The Grineer are mining. The Lotus said evenly. They seek Orokin technology.
Are they INSANE? The Tenno snapped. Never mind. They have to be stopped. When next he spoke, it was aloud and in his mind. "Excalibur online."
"Acknowledged, Excalibur." The Lotus responded formally. "Welcome back."