Of Warriors and Warframes

Excalibur was tense. These last few minutes before a drop were always a bit tense. But now... He could handle pre-combat jitters. The long bouts of training and long experience in fighting had taught him methods of coping. It was all in his mind of course. His warframe did not fidget, although his mind kept insisting it was. Alicia hadn't wanted to talk to him. She had flatly refused to talk to him. Jean and Li had both tried to talk to her and been rebuffed as well. He could tell both of them were as shocked by this as he was. But he was in charge and had to be sure of his team, so when he spoke aloud, it was a command.

"Alicia." He said calmly. A small holo appeared on his HUD, her frame looking at him. "You good to go?"

The Trinity frame nodded and when she spoke it was calm. "I am upset, but it will not affect my performance."

"Once the mission is done,..." Excalibur said quietly. "...we will talk. You and me. Maybe with Li as a translator." He couldn't believe what he had just said, but then Alicia barked a laugh and her voice turned a little more normal.

"We might need her at that." Alicia had a grin in her voice now. "I... Guys, I am sorry I was rude. I..." Two other holos sprang to life on Excalibur's HUD. One showed a Saryn's head and the other an Ash's.

"You are emotional." Li said with a matching grin. "No matter how we train, how hard we fight, we are still baseline human. We still get emotions and a good thing too."

"I'll say." Jean agreed from his holo. "I find I prefer being me to being one of those evil Corpus mechs."

"I apologize to all of you." Alicia said formally. "I am fully capable, X." Excalibur nodded. She wouldn't lie about that. He checked his readouts and spoke again.

"Thirty seconds out." Excalibur said calmly. [We are called once more to battle. For duty.] He intoned in a language that had been ancient before humanity left it's homeworld to explore it's solar system.

[For honor.] Li replied just as formally in the same language. Tenno always did this pre battle mantra in the odd language called English. No one else had used that language in thousands of years, and no one really knew why the Tenno used it for their mantras. It didn't matter now, what mattered was that they believed. In themselves and in each other. Nothing else mattered.

[For the code.] Jean said in response.

[For family.] Alicia continued the age old mantra.

[For the Tenno!] All chorused. [Death to our enemies!] They finished and then silence took over. They wouldn't speak again, barring emergencies, until the mission was done.

The whine of the ship's engines changed and Excalibur braced himself. It always came a shock, even when he was expecting it, when the clamps released his frame and he fell to land on his feet on a planetary surface. It was instinctive to roll in mid air and land on his feet. He had done this so many times, both in training and in actual combat conditions. He had done it under fire and during quiet. He had done it in broad daylight and darkest night. He felt rather than heard three thumps that announced his kin had arrived. The ship arched away smoothly and vanished into the distance. It was dark, but not much. He remembered the light of Jupiter being a lot brighter than any star ever could be. That hadn't changed. But this place was still. It was quiet. There was no sound whatsoever and Excalibur felt tension rise. He took a hand from his Braton and made a quick gesture before resuming his sweep of the area, looking for hostiles or anything. There was nothing. He felt the others fan out as Jean started towards the landed Grinneer transport. He was the best suited to find out if anyone was aboard.

Excalibur found cover behind some crates and watched the area as Jean entered the ship. A few nerve wracked minutes later, Jean appeared and shook his head. Excalibur paused. The ship was empty? Grinneer didn't do that. They always left a guard behind. Always. Jean made a gesture and Excalibur nodded. The Ash warframe vanished back into the ship and Excalibur smirked under his helmet. The next people to try and use that ship would regret it. Briefly. It wouldn't be any of the Tenno and no humans would dare try to do anything with a Grinneer ship. So... Corpus or Grinneer. Either way, if some of them blew themselves up, small loss.

Li made a worried gesture at him and he nodded. This was getting to be downright creepy. Then he froze as Alicia's hand shot up and he made sure he was in tight cover as movement appeared in the distance. He couldn't quite stifle an exclamation of shock as he saw them. A pair of squat, heavily built things, with a larger, more humanoid form following them. Not that any of these were human. Well... Not anymore. He recognized the types. Two chargers and a Leaper. He knew the sound dampeners of his helmet would have kept the sound from betraying his position, but he crouched lower anyway. Infested. What were Infested doing here? Then he went even more still as a recognizable form appeared near the infested patrol. The Grinneer marine didn't raise it's weapon or fire however. It seemed to nod to the Infested as it passed them, obviously patrolling as they were. What the hell? The Trinity and Saryn warframes both turned to him and he could almost feel Alicia's and Li's incredulity. It matched his own.

The Grinner hated anything that was not of their kind. Not that they liked each other much. They hated the Corpus with fiery intensity. They were waging a campaign of extermination against the Tenno. Despite all of that though, most of their ire was directed at the Infested. Infested were humans who had been exposed to the Technocyte virus. Many thought that the Great Plague had been the result of some idiot releasing said virus on multiple habitats at once as an act of terror. If so, whoever it was had likely paid with their lives. It was well known, if Grinneer encountered Infested, lots of shooting happened. So why wasn't this marine shooting? He shook himself and started forward slowly and carefully, keeping to cover as he went. The mission had just become much more difficult. Infested were very hard to sneak up on. Add to that, they had some kind of group mind. If one saw you, all of them knew where you were and stealth became...problematic.

He raised a hand to Jean and the Ash warframe nodded and vanished in a puff of smoke. Jean would look for an alternate route into the dig site. As he turned back, he stiffened. Alicia was gone! She had been right there! She wasn't indicated on his map display either. Li followed his gaze and froze as well. Both moved slowly and carefully to where she had been crouched behind some boxes and looked. There was no sign of a struggle, which made no sense at all. In Excalibur's experience, there was simply no way a Tenno was taken so easily, so silently. He scrutinized the area and paused as Li pointed at something. He shook his head slowly as he saw the telltale signs of a concealed trapdoor. Had Alicia fallen into a trap? Been taken unaware? Or been distracted and simply fallen and knocked herself out? He had seen that happen to other Tenno in the field, but somehow he doubted this was so simple.

Dang it. Excalibur snapped to himself. We have to finish the mission. I want to find her, but we have to finish the mission. Li looked at him and he shook his head again. Alicia would take my head off, and rightly so, if I fail the mission before it even starts. Li waited patiently and Excalibur made a gesture. 'Continue mission'. Li nodded and moved off, her posture unhappy. Excalibur wasn't very happy himself. But they had to find out what was going on here, and the more he saw, the more he suspected.

Someone is using some kind of mind control on the Grinneer and Infested. He thought as he moved cautiously from cover to cover. Maybe a new kind of infested? Some kind of super Corpus bot? Jean appeared in the near distance and waved. He made a two fingered questioning gesture and Excalibur replied to his questions with gestures that explained how Alicia had vanished and they didn't know how or why. Jean stiffened and then nodded, his gaze sweeping the area over the aim point of his bow. Could they mind control us? Excalibur didn't like that thought.

Tenno were taught how to protect themselves from such things. Nyx warframes used mind control as their primary weapons so the basics were well known to Tenno. He-


A loud beeping surprised him. He shook himself and looked to the side where his sentinel was hovering. The sentinel was sounding an alert into his auditory apparatus. He stared around and stiffened as he saw Jean and Li both immobile. Standing as if they had been frozen in place.

Oh no...Excalibur thought quickly, then froze as well as a pair of familiar forms appeared in the distance. The helmets were distinctive.

"Three more." The voice of the Corpus crewman was...off. "We thought so. They deploy in teams of four."

"Not always." The other one said quietly. "Do not underestimate them. Stun them all and we can call for backup to move them." It reached for it's belt and came up with a shock prod. It moved towards Excalibur and paused. "Wait... Is this...?" Whatever the Corpus goon was going to say was cut off as Excalibur drew.

"No!" One had time to scream before both fell to the floor, piles of cooling meat. Sword fights usually didn't last very long when one of the fighters was a master and the others were not.

He moved to where Li was standing. Her posture was odd. Her rifle was at her back and she stood as if waiting for something. He accessed her warframe's systems. He bit back a vile curse. Her brain waves were subdued. She was asleep on her feet. If it was anything like what a Nyx could do, nothing he did would wake her up. She likely wouldn't remember any of this. If his sentinel hadn't woken him...

His thoughts broke off as a two legged monstrosity appeared in the near distance. It was hard to say who was more startled, Excalibur or the MOA. A snarl forced it's way past Excalibur's lips as alarms started to wail and his pistol jumped into his hand almost of it's own accord.

Take my kin will you?

He fired before the MOA could, his shot tracking to slam into the mech's boxy gun apparatus. That assembly also served as a CPU for the bot and it went down in a shower of sparks. He heard others coming and snarled again as a group of crewmen came running around a corner in formation. Before they could react, he blurred into motion. Before a normal human could have blinked, he was past them, his blade going back to it's place on his back and the five bodies falling, some cut cleanly in two.

"Tenno!" A loud male voice called. "This isn't what you think!" He glanced around quickly. His dash had taken him a long ways from his kin, he was in an open area and he could see many forms approaching to surround him. The voice called again, pleading. "Tenno! Please!"

Excalibur's gaze darted left and right, but there was no way out of the ring of bodies. But none of the Grinneer or Corpus were firing. None of the Infested were charging. What the hell?

"Tenno..." It broke off. "Excalibur?" It demanded, clearly shocked. "Oh my god..." He didn't know the voice. "Wait!" It called, but Excalibur had seen enough. The Tenno charged the nearest group of enemy, a squad of Grinneer marines. The voice screamed. "No!"

Weapons started firing, but he summoned light and threw it around himself, blinding all of the enemy for a precious few seconds. If there had been fewer of them, he would have fought. But there had to be fifty of various types of enemy in the area now. Too many to beat. Instead, he gathered power and jumped to a narrow catwalk near the ceiling. The curtain of gunfire that had sought him cut off as if sliced by a sword and the voice called again, trying to find him.

"Excalibur!" The voice pleaded. "Wait!" But he was gone.