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Ash. Avatar of murder.
Patron saint of the Orokin school of political assassination known as... The Scoria.
Each assassin bore a mark: a swirling, smoky-black jewel between their eyes.
"You are forever the Scoria. The Scoria is forever you."
No devotee knew of any life, any thought that was not Scoria Doctrine.
For every question, so the Orokin of the Scoria said, Ash was the answer.
Two notable students of the Scoria's anthracite halls were also two brothers: Dom and Pilio.
Dom was nimble, cunning, and a quick study with the blade.
His brother, Pilio, however, was not so gifted. While he idolized Ash, worshipped him, Pilio lacked Dom's grace and clarity.
And Ash's ruthlessness. However... it was Dom who had been captured by the very target he was tasked to kill.
A sin unforgivable to the Scoria. So it fell to Pilio - the lesser - to uphold the Scoria by taking Dom's life.
By this, the Seven would have assurance that Dom's flaw was not a... familial trait.
You see, as you might expect of an Orokin school of murder, the Scoria were ruthless when it came to... "academic excellence".
With Dom dead at Pilio's feet, two essential killings would have taken place: that of a failure, and that of any shred of pity within Pilio.
Ash would oversee Pilio's mission.
Pilio's soul was to die that day: as the life drained from his brother's eyesor if he could not do so, beneath the blades of his lifelong idol: Ash.
A sliver of pale sun found them close to a stately tower in the dusty heart of Martialis metropolis.
Coils of red Martian dust trailed tongues from the dark metal of Ash's Edo epaulets.
The boy idolized the Warframe and was eager to prove himself - even as some part of him felt cold and afraid at what he must do.
"Doubt is betrayal", taught the Scoria. Pilio recited this, but could not quench the fear he felt.
Fear of what he must do... and fear of what his hero and idol would do to him should his faith fail. Ash gave the signal.
Pilio shot forward in a bold, unconventional Dying Vine pattern, reading the Scoria-favored Dust Fang technique.
The tower guards squinted into the amber light of the Martian sunrise as a flash-cloud of smoke flooded the lane before them.Shaking sleep from their heads and still thinking of breakfast, the guards readied themselves. From the smoke flew stars.
Staring into the lifeless eyes of the guardsman at his feet, bile rose in Pilio's throat.
The boy berated himself this weakness, this disgust.
Touching the symbol of his order, the smoke-gem between his eyes, he muttered a prayer for strength.
Stepping over the carpet of bodies, Ash crept into the courtyard, knowing full well the fifty-strong house guard would show itself in force.
With a sudden clatter, reinforcements lined the courtyard walls, balconies... The Scoria had a saying:
"You are immortal. One mistake makes that otherwise."
Ash had never made a mistake. Here were fifty.
With one swift movement, the Warframe swatted the boy into cover, unslung his Causta bow, and sprang into a flawless grey chrysanthemum combat solution.Shame reddened Pilio's face as the courtyard lit noon-bright with the glare of a half-hundred muzzle flashes, his blade dry in his hand.
Ash methodically met and disassembled each and every guard, mezzanine to mezzanine:
a masterclass in the correct choices of stance, kata, technique and attitude. Bodies rained into the courtyard.
Wincing, the boy looked away. Within minutes fifty corpses lay at their feet.
When Pilio felt Ash's shadow fall across him, he forced himself to look, trembling.
Ash's inscrutable gaze pinned him. Chest tight, breath terrified, and quick,
Pilio forced himself to stand and face his assessor.
He could not look at the bodies. Truthfully, he expected to die where he stood.
If the Warframe approved or disapproved, he gave no sign.Rather, Ash opened an arm, showing the way toward Pilio's final trial.
In the target's chambers sat a middle-aged man with long, handsome mustaches, his eyes sad and kind.
And with him? Dom: in civilian clothes... sharing a glass of aged claret.
Pain cracked through Pilio's brain, the smoke-gem between his eyes flashing hot!
Sudden images of sunlight. Vineyards. A woman's face.
The gem burned as it pushed these images away.
A young man with grand mustaches smiling and saying, "Of all the sons I could have had, I'm glad it was you two."
Pain! Dom leapt to his feet, urging his brother to hear what the target had to say,
but Pilio saw only the scabbed-over divot between Dom's eyes where a black jewel had once rested.
Dom had turned his back on the order. Why? Why had he done this?
The mustachioed man leapt to Dom's defense, snatching his sidearm from beneath his ironwood desk - a foolish mistake.
Ash split into impossible multiples. The man opened fire on the three, before being seized from behind by the fourth.
Ash's illusory clones vanished. The weapon clattered to the polished wooden floor, even as his feet left it, dangling three feet above,
helplesss - those sad, kind eyes locked on Pilio's in a regretful farewell. "Ask the Warframe", Dom said, "He knows exactly why."
Fear filled Pilio's heart. Pilio turned to his idol, that saint of murder. The same question, but this time for Ash: why?
That moment of breathtaking impudence stretched for an eternity. Ash released his grip.
His prisoner flopped to the floor, gasping. With one great hand, Ash reached toward Pilio's face... and sank a vicious talon beneath that midnight jewel.
Pilio screamed. Blood flowed.
The gem flew free with a nauseating pop, cracking against the wall to die in a weak plume of rancid smoke.Blinding white insight descended upon Pilio DeNas.
Pilio was Pilio DeNas. Everything the black gem had walled off within his mind was now laid bare.
The Scoria had stolen the sons of Lio DeNas. Lio DeNas - kind-eyed Lio DeNas - was stealing them back.
"Of all the sons I could have had, I'm glad it was you two." Father and son beheld each other truly for the first time in almost twenty years.
Pilio had long-aspired to wearing the Edo armor, the highest honor, to signify his faith -
but now he saw only the bare ribs of Ash's Cremata syandana, signifier of death,
and knew with certainty that was the sole credo of the faith he had followed.
Had. The boy - who until that moment had thought himself a lifelong killer -
was now torn between the nocturnal life he thought he knew and the sunlit life he had been stolen from.
Torn between Doctrine and family. And, blade in hand, torn between saving himself by killing his brother... or dying alongside him at the hand of his idol.
Ash waited, patient as the death he signified, in a room in a moment that felt suspended in eternity.
Waiting for Pilio's decision. The blade fell from Pilio's hand. Dom reached out and gently took that hand.
Ash did not move.Lio DeNas swept his boys up and out of that room, and as a family, they fled the Tower, the city, and Mars - forever. Ash did not move.
So. What are we to make of this?
Why did Ash - focal figure of the Scoria - go against Doctrine and permit two boys who were both failures and traitors to fly free?
What was it this killer saw in two near-orphans that, shall we say, softened his heart?
We do not know. Neither did Pilio, whose memoirs bring us this story.
But. We do know this: in the final days of Orokin rule... as towers fell and death came for the white-and-gold gods... the Scoria were not spared.
No. Rather their senior ranks - the mentors and chief assassins - were exterminated to a figure in a pogrom of ruthless and breathtaking efficiency.A near-total destruction led... in the main... by Ash. Curious, no?
This is Atlas. Hard as stone. Is it any surprise that his story begins with an asteroid?
Temple Telamon had cast a spell on the indentured masses with a song that heralded the coming of a great stone destroyer. A god who would shatter the world and lead them to a great rebirth. The Orokin mocked the cult's off-key singing, their spasmodic dancing, but the spell only grew stronger. Telamon broadcasts would oft-times wedge into controlled channels to spread their doomsday message.
For the suffocated lower castes, the notion of something more powerful than their Orokin masters must have been intoxicating. A brutal Orokin crackdown seemed to be working, until... an asteroid was detected on a collision course with Earth. The Telamons celebrated it as prophecy writ true. Divine intervention. For the first time in living memory, the Orokin showed vulnerability.It did not matter that the destruction would be total. For the Temple, this was a sign of a new age.
A probe was sent to the asteroid, perhaps seeking proof of divine intervention. It found intervention, though it was anything but divine.
The rock had been fitted with colossal steering thrusters and manning those thrusters, a bevy of well-armed Telamon. Having taken fate to their own hands, they set about a final convulsive dance aboard that rock. Battlecruisers, Orgon missiles, a gale-force of Dax... the Orokin could have resolved this in any number of ways. But their enemy was not the Telamons themselves. It was their ideas. Atlas, alone, was sent.
As he crashed onto that rock, his Shikoro helm greeted the cultists. Note the angled ballistic plating and reinforced neck protection.He would soon need both.
Tableau of Telamon:
For years, historians felt this 'Tale of Telamon' quite improbable, an artifact of Orokin propaganda-myth.
Then, on our system's outer edge, we found a debris field of small rocks and dust in a lazy elliptical orbit. Upon these rocks, we find the remains of peculiar stone statuary. The petrified figures, clearly Temple members, have been frozen into a tableau of struggle and death.Or was it, perhaps, a dance? This remarkable find forces us to rethink the entire tale as fact.
The Stratum Syandana. Reserved and austere, until you turn it over and reveal the glowing hue of the amethyst crystal within.
A breathtaking geode. Imagine its spiralling ribbons as Atlas tore toward the killer asteroid's thrusters. His plan must have been to reorient them and push the rock away from Earth. But, as the story goes, as he neared, the cultists detonated the thruster's footings and sent them careening into space. They were no longer needed. Mass and inertia would carry the rock to its fate.Atlas was out of options. Or so the Telamons thought.
The Tekko are, perhaps my favorite pieces in this gallery. Note the intricate, ornate moldings, the complex blades. Quite the contrast from Atlas's otherwise workmanlike appearance.
The beauty and craftsmanship conceal the true purpose of the Tekko, as indentations found in cultist's skulls attest.I have to wonder what frenzied dance would have been interrupted, or, if the whiplash strikes and jabs of the Tekko might have blended into the crowd's fitful celebration?
Before you, a rare sight: two Rumblers, painstakingly recreated from fragments of the aforementioned Tableau.
How these inert and rigid formations are compelled to life by Atlas defies reason. Yet, it is true. Consider the confusion of those Telamons as the very stone they worshipped came to life and set upon them. How could they retaliate against such a thing?Like sparring with a landslide.
Earth swelled on the horizon, as the cult mocked Atlas with their chorus: "The stone shall shatter all!"
Across the system, every Telamon echoed that final hymn. Children, as far as Neptune, turned their heads from greasy broth and gazed toward Earth. Would that careening stone change... everything? Atlas kneeled down, head and hands pressed to the ground in apparent defeat as the Telamon's hymn grew even louder.
But Atlas was listening, feeling, the way the stone trembled to the hymn's pitch. The faults within the asteroid became vivid to him... and so a new song rose up. Rumblers. Erupting in a god-like rhythm, beating along the faults until Atlas, alone, struck the final, resonant chord.A tremor forked through the rock until, all at once, the great asteroid exploded, its dust falling as scintillating rain sparking across the atmosphere, and then... gone. The Telamon's song fell silent and children, as far as Neptune, turned away and swirled their spoons in greasy broth.
Ah, Gauss. Where to begin, where to begin... Well, the Ceres excavation of course. The site of the ancient tower of Altra.
Blastcrete emplacements, air sentries... its fields saturated with tremor mines. A great fortress for the Great Lords of Ceres... until they were pitched from the roof, immortal bodies erupting on the dread mines below.An insurgency, from within. The Dax sent to reclaim Altra fared no better. Those that ran the gauntlet of bore-guns were soon cindered in the field beyond... That's when they called in our fleet-footed friend here.
Dual sidearms pulled from Altra's outer ring of blastcrete bunkers. Something crashed through those bunkers at great speed, the impact scattering stone and flesh all the same. An unearthly kinetic shockwave.Those insurgents with the misfortune of surviving the initial blast must have seen the Akarius for themselves.
The Acceltra, a rapid-fire micro-missile launcher. The smooth polycarbonate barrels still carry a vague stench of ozone.Some think Gauss was a blunt instrument, all speed, with as much versatility as a cannonball. But the Acceltra implies more. It implies surging in, inviting the enemy to consider the blade, then rebounding to let missiles answer their confusion.
Not the standard dress helm. This one has specialized control surfaces, angled plating. Supreme streamlining. It catches the light in a curious way, doesn't it?When it shines just so, I see myself atop Altra, a hostage perhaps, peering out across the desolate field... and then, I'd see it. A pale glint of light.
Gauss. Front edge: smooth heat-resistant composites. Trailing edges: streamlined, foiled, this particular one vaguely warped by extreme heat stress.
The Saint of Altra. If the mind wanders, what do you see?I see a vivid Lord-like Festival, the tremor mines bursting in a blinding wave, rising toward Altra. And Gauss - a smear of light, just ahead of the thermal avalanche - fast as fire. No... faster.
Grendel: Primal. Insatiable. And, as this exhibit will demonstrate, a creature of surprising compassion.
After the fall of the Orokin Empire, a surviving Orokin Executor - a violet-scented brute named Karishh - lorded over Europa's frozen, famine-struck city of Riddha.Safe within his walled manse the moist and loathsome Karishh lived a lavish life while his frail citizens obeyed his every edict in the hope of receiving his pre-masticated table scraps. As the city starved beneath him, Karissh commanded yet another feast for himself and his gluttonous sycophants... twelve courses for each of his twelve grafted digestive sacs... and one... one uninvited guest.
There remains a shallow trench through the ruins. As if some colossal boulder had crashed from the manse and rolled down the hill... but what if it had rolled... up?Imagine if you will, Karishh's Dax on the day... peering out, dumbstruck by what they saw. They readied no blade, sounded no alarm as the expanding orb of gristle hurtled toward them. And then in a spasm of giblets, Grendel was before them. His 'cutlery' in hand.. the Masseter.
Scraps of clothing matching Grendel's unexpectedly elegant Syandana were retrieved from the site, hooked on the remnants of gilded gates, stained with the evidence of his... degustation.Indeed, most of the Orokin hanger-ons who attended the feast... became it. And Karishh himself fled shrieking into the hills of Riddha, as fast as his twelve exo-sac levitators would carry him.
It came as no surprise to me, to find this tiny fragment of Gauss just outside the city. Indeed, if one thing is for certain, wherever we find evidence of Grendel, we're sure to find some trace of Gauss as well.Did they breach the city as a pair? Or did Gauss hang back intercepting returning patrols, generously letting his friend Grendel eat his fill at the feast within?
Note the open-face, almost maw-like design. A fitting visage for one of such singular, rapacious predilections.Grendel may hunger, yes, but not with the excesses of gluttony. Not when others are in need. Oral history tells of Grendel, newly-engorged from his repast, rolling through the miserable slums of Riddha, reinvigorating the sick and the lame, the hungry and the dying, with the power he had stolen - consumed - from their oppressors.
Here we have shattered fragments of the manse wall and the gate mangled by Grendel's Masseter blade.
One can almost see, the city's masses, newly-rejuvenated by Grendel's healthful blessing, storming the manse. Shattered gates thrown wide, they take back what was theirs. Namely, control of their future.See here the scattering of genuine Orokin dinnerware. Worn with time, these must have been used for countless meals as the people of Riddha bravely weathered the dark times ahead.
Many Warframes have speed and litheness but power, momentum, impact... those require mass.
And there... the creased midsection - the seam. Does it split? Yawning with a jagged, vacuous aperture to... to who knows? A certain Orokin may have found out.That night when the people of Riddha ate their fill, feasting until the frozen mountains lit warmly with the dawn. It was toward those roseate peaks that the Executor fled, pursued by Grendel. What his fate was I cannot say, but as the people feasted, so the story goes, they were suddenly struck by a strange, deep sound. A rumble carried from mountain to mountain: a Single. Satisfied. Belch.
Ivara. The Huntress. This tale comes to us from 'The Secret History of the Orokin Court', by the historian Porvis.
Have you perhaps heard tell of the Myrmidon? No matter. A preternatural beast-figure straight out of myth he was, one whose prey had no equal. Warframes were what this villain hunted. It is said a number of 'frames had been erased from history by this monster, models who no longer exist on any record. Those who are not remembered. It hardly seemed possible that a single person could stand against a Warframe, let alone destroy it. Let alone several. Perhaps Porvis enjoyed the telling a little too much or, perhaps, there is something to it.Ivara encountered the Myrmidon quite early in her history. Quite early indeed.
A Dax emergency call. so Porvis writes, led Ivara and two unknown Warframes to a convoluted cave system. They found it littered with the bodies of murdered Dax and resplendent with bioluminescent fungi.
I imagine the chitinous folds of her Salix Syandana would have made for excellent camouflage within that malevolent, supernal glow. 'The Secret History' tells us that the Myrmidon appeared boldly before the three, in a wide chamber connected by many tunnels. Clad in red-and-gold armor it gestured to the first Warframe with what Porvis describes as 'a strange clutching motion, as if seizing a falling apple'. But it was no greeting, as we shall see. The powers of that first Warframe, the recipient of that gesture, promptly failed. The Myrmidon took advantage of the confusion to leap upon the hapless 'frame and press a palm to the warrior's head.In lurid detail Porvis describes a flash of the most scintillating emerald light and Ivara's battle sibling collapsed to hot dust.
Porvis tells us he compiled much of this tale from overheard exchanges between members of the Seven, and details that remained consistent in courtly whispers. He tells us the second 'frame suffered the same fate as the first.
Reacting, Ivara whirled and promptly vanished. But, one clutching gesture in her direction and Ivara's powers fled, her cloaking field nullified. Visible, vulnerable, she loosed a Dashwire arrow to a high alcove... but it never came. No escape. The Myrmidon was upon her. The Huntress spun, opening fire with Aksomati pistols to send that devil scrambling for cover, arm thrown protectively across that twisted, armored head. That clutching gesture was the key.Ivara needed a plan, and she needed it fast.
Avia Armor and :
Ivara ran at a wall, and up it.
Hanging there, waiting, as the Myrmidon flipped into the room, blasting the spot where he had expected her to be. Frustrated he again made that same elaborate gesture, trying his luck, and she saw it: that bracelet upon the wrist that glowed softly with the movement of that clutching gesture. Ivara flipped from her perch, shouldering her exquisitely-crafted Rubico as she did so, and sighted the enemy.
Through the Orokin-sculpted scope, hunter and huntress met eye-to-eye, each loosing a desperate blast: a bullet from Ivara, a killing light from the Myrmidon. The green light lashed, touching a shoulder plate of Ivara's Avia Armor, reducing it to dust. It saved her. Huntress won out, her shot claiming the Myrmidon's device in a shower of sparks.But the Myrmidon's weapon remained lethal, and with it he lashed out at Ivara in an emerald fury.
Ivara hit the ground and sprang into a surrounding tunnel, the Myrmidon's shot lancing a gouge in the porous chamber wall.
Ivara pressed her back to a shadowed outcrop at the tunnel's end while the Myrmidon's weapon blazed and cut and chewed through her only cover. As good a time as any to discuss the weapon before you: the Artemis Bow. The huntress' signature weapon and the tool with which she has wrought so much good. Said by some to be spirit-bonded to her, others say the product of forgotten Orokin technology. What Porvis tells us next displays to good effect what warrior and weapon were capable of.
Pinned behind eroding cover, seconds from death, Ivara summoned her Artemis Bow, and it came to her. She and weapon as one. Without rising she pulled back, aimed high, she and arrow as one, and loosed. Under Ivara's guidance the arrow turned its path and shot down the corridor, toward the Myrmidon, and lengthwise through his weapon.Around Ivara the walls flashed green for a micro-second, as the Myrmidon's weapon erupted, and then... silence.
What is a bow without arrows? And these arrows?
The Origin System has never seen their like, able to change their very nature at the whim of Ivara. Sleep, cloaking, rapid fire, they are the embodiment of her legendary versatility. Ivara drew her bow again, this time for her fallen comrades. With inhuman speed shot after shot snapped and plucked each segment of carapace from the Myrmidon's lean frame. Straps severing, clips popping, he was undressed with swift efficiency by the preternatural accuracy of her aim and rapidity. Even before her final arrow belted the visored helmet from his head, she had the killing shot nocked and ready.
There he stood: the Myrmidon. Slayer of Warframes. Naked. Beauty, symmetry, even the capacity for language, sacrificed for... raw power. But his face... his face was the mockery of an Orokin face: those she was sworn to never kill.The smirk on his pallid, angular visage told her he knew it as well.
The grand doors of the Chamber of the Seven flew open.
Across that reverberating expanse of polished darkness strode Ivara, dragging her prize. Before the assembled Council she dropped him, and with it the Myrmidon's battered helmet. Here he would meet justice at the hands of his own people. Here her fallen friends would be avenged. She beheld the Seven, awaiting their judgement.
The Myrmidon got to his feet, cleaning dust from one shoulder with a contemptuous flick. One of the Seven leaned forward, removing a curious thing from their slender head, a lattice of delicate silver, placing it on the elevated, chest-high curve of obsidian that separated her from them. Instantly the Myrmidon collapsed, lifeless, to the floor. Ivara did not understand. Why? Why?
A stately voice intoned her name. There stood Executor Ballas. He told her: "You have been battle- and loyalty-tested. Your companions, they were found wanting. They failed to adapt. Failed to overcome. And so they are no more. But you, Ivara. You shall live. You shall be remembered."Her battle comrades, as we know, were not.
Lavos. The transmuter. Called by some, anachronistically, the alchemist.
Transmutation, you say? A superstitious process from long ago, in which deranged old men heated stinking substances over fires of dung, thinking they could make gold?
No. To the Orokin, it was a darkly potent, forbidden science. They were not squeamish nor moral, so what profound taboos must this art have violated?
No transmuter was more dreaded than Javi. The Crawling Serpent. The Abhorred. The Filth-Speaker.
The Orokin feared him so greatly that they whispered he might, somehow, survive even the Jade Light, just as a severed snake was once believed to grow a new head. So instead he was imprisoned, that his evil might be contained, if not quenched.His jailer was a brute of a Warframe named Lavos.
The prison of Dabaoth-Kra no longer stands: both it and the slumped Venusian mountain peak upon which it stood were long ago obliterated. We have only records to tell us what went on there.
Javi was a scrawny, hairless man, scaly with skin disease. In reluctant recognition of his Archimedian status, he was permitted to wear the white robe - now a befouled, ragged garment. Two tattooed serpents crawled up each bony arm from elbow to wrist.
Lavos, we are told, was attentive to his prisoner. He administered the prescribed soup, water, and beatings with the same punctual fidelity.These are recreations of Lavos's own snakes - no mere tattoos, but living bio-ferrous exoflesh.
Observers at the prison reported that Javi was frequently whispering to Lavos. There was some concern among the wardens, but they dismissed the whispers as mere posturing.
Javi's cell walls began to fill up with scrawlings, using blood and filth as ink. At first, these were simple symbols, but as time passed, they became more elaborate. It was as if the Archimedian wasturning his cell into a demonic temple, baiting his captors. There was even an image of Lavos, resplendent in his Syandana of office - perhaps an attempt at a curse.
Lavos was ordered to beat him harder, and duly did so. With the blood on the wall, Javi drew a snake. An appeal, no doubt, to his depraved idol.Floor-washer Bekran Zaft, the sole survivor of Dabaoth-Kra, would later tell of how Lavos would stride from cell to cell - weighty shotgun in hand - clubbing and beating as required. The nightmares still haunted her.
The wardens' records reveal an increasing unease with Javi's bizarre behavior.
Regardless of the potential risk, they determined that he should be executed - after a fashion. They would use cellular reversal. Javi would be reduced to a mere biological pulp with no more sentience than bread mold.
But the executioner? No jailer wanted to be the Pobber to bell that Kavat. So Lavos received this ceremonial helm, along with the power to reconfigure organic matter. He could be their instrument.
The walls, floor, and ceiling of the cell were, by now, overwritten with text. Lavos watched over Javi continually.Bekran Zaft tells us that curiously, Lavos no longer beat the prisoners in the other cells. Even when the inmates shoved one of their hated fellows into his path, expecting a bloody beatdown, Lavos merely waited for him to get back to his feet before moving on.
What actually was this forbidden practice of transmutation that terrified the Orokin so? At its pinnacle, it was nothing less than the purposeful elevation of consciousness.
To the Orokin, prisoners of their endless golden dream, the thought that a person could rise above their station was anathema. Transmutation could turn commoners into kings or riches into garbage. Worst of all, it could teach people not to be afraid.
I have seen a preserved image of Javi's cell. His scrawlings were not demonic sigils and barbarous texts but star charts. Evolutionary trees. Genome structures.
Javi was not defying Lavos with these cryptic daubings in his own blood. He was enlightening him. Not dark sorcery at all, but radiant science. And the snake? A symbol not of corruption but of healing.
Javi was a teacher. He might have taught millions. Now he had only one student.But that student was attentive.
Bekran Zaft says this of Execution Day.
The jailers gathered in the auditorium. With a slow funereal tread, Lavos escorted Javi to the execution dais. He gently raised a hood over Javi's head, cobra-like. He turned, then, to face the Orokin Warden, shotgun trembling in his mighty hands.
The silence, Zaft says, was absolute.
But then from beneath the hood came a whisper. Javi had some final words for his student.
The Orokin jailer shifted uncomfortably, looked to his functionaries. Would the execution even take place?
Lavos gave a stiff bow to Javi... and activated his power.
Javi's skin peeled off in one grisly sloughing. He liquefied into a biological soup.
A cheer went up from the assembled jailers.
Lavos gathered the remains of Javi tenderly in his hands. A soft glow emanated from them. As, in one horrible moment, Javi's Orokin oppressors realized what they beheld. And then: panic. Lavos was transmuting the remains.
A twining, living snake seethed up Lavos's left arm. Javi, transformed, and still - after a fashion - alive, just as they had feared. A second snake coiled around his right arm, this one sprouting from Lavos's own flesh.
Then Lavos leapt into the midst of the assembly, hurling vials left and right, bathing the hapless screaming jailers and functionaries - and their Warden - in icy vitriol. Not one survived - not for long, anyway.And Bekran Zaft? Lavos bowed to her and moved on.
They say that Lavos often takes counsel from his serpents. One is his brutal advisor, the other his wise teacher. Both have their wisdom, and Javi still whispers to his beloved student.
Much like the snake, Lavos is easy to misjudge. The serpents that poison can also cure. He may have been a monster in his previous life, but he was able to achieve something that eluded the most powerful of the Orokin. He changed.
Moreover, he changed himself. Javi may have helped and instructed, but the will to change must have begun with Lavos.Perhaps we all have that golden gleam coiled within us somewhere, ready to slither forth from its old skin. We must only beware that we do not condemn as devilish that which we do not yet understand.
Nova. Mercurial, unpredictable and a miraculous example of harnessed antimatter.
It would be a bold fool indeed who tried to tame lightning. One such individual was Holsom Yurr, a freelance problem-solver who commanded high fees for his low morals. A deficiency that netted him great success in endeavors where a conscience would have held others back. He is the only figure known to have secured a back-channel charter permitting him to selectively raid certain rails, so long as Orokin ships were avoided. The story of Nova and Yurr survives via the captain and security logs of the Orokin vessel Masker's Theodolite. It survives because it was deemed to be... of historical importance.Orokin investigators scrutinized every frame of security footage, each line of the captain's log, for assurance that the outcome of this encounter was indeed true.
The passenger vessel Masker's Theodolite reported critical problems with her engines.
Nova, mistress of antimatter, was deployed to relight the Theodolite's antimatter reactor before the vessel was drawn into the gravity well of a nearby planetoid. 10,800 passengers were at risk. Clipping this Protonia Syandana to herself she exited her lander. The interior of the ship was deathly quiet, but then, chaos. Behind her the section of the ship securing her lander was detonated and blown free. Stranding her, for the time being.From deeper inside the ship: cries for help.
Holsom Yurr's Armor:
Nova sped toward the shouts of trapped crewmen. Eight were locked in flow control behind a hardened glass wall.
Opening a wormhole between herself and them she phased the crewmen to safety as their compartment flooded with lethal gas. Booming from speakers in every hallway, Holsom Yurr declared himself. Holsom Yurr: the man who, at one time, had run the Pluto resistance. Who spent 3 years terrorizing the rails between Jupiter and Venus just to prove that he could. Who took that notoriety and translated it into a career: security, political assassination, courier runs, torture, graft, blackmail and, in one case so it was said, genocide. There were graves already dug for him by the many who wanted him dead.
Word was Holsom already had a tomb prepared for himself on some distant moon, with a table piled high with riches and a chair just waiting for him to be sat in for eternity. A man capable of anything, and a man who would rather die than lose. A man easily recognized by the signature item before you. It was, so they say, an item of great personal significance to the old rogue.Why, and what history it shared with him, is a matter of some speculation.
Unaware she was being led into a trap built just for her, I don't imagine Nova took any special precautions.
This Flux model helm, for example, was fairly standard. The appealing venting displayed her antimatter nature, an announcement of power as much as an evocation of beauty.
Where were we? Ah yes. Nova and the rescued crew moved for the escape pods. Once they were clear she would about-face and find some way to free the remaining ten-thousand-seven-hundred-and-ninety-two. Alas, thuds and clangs resounded as every life pod ejected into space. Empty. Yurr clarified, boomingly, that escape was not an option. To punctuate this assertion bulkheads slammed down in every corridor shipwide. The only path Yurr left open, worryingly, was the one that led directly to the Theodolite's antimatter reactor. The very thing Nova had come to save.What was the old pirate playing at?
Yurr had answered Nova's unspoken question.
He had jettisoned the antimatter core. Without that it was impossible for the reactor to function, and the Theodolite would smash into the planetoid in a matter of minutes. Yurr had been paid, by persons unknown, to neutralize Nova completely. Yurr, a man who prided himself upon an ignorance of the impossible, had agreed. And devised this trap. Nova was a being created to contain and harness antimatter. The antimatter drive no longer had a fuel core. His proposition was simple: Nova would enter the reactor chamber, crack her own containment and kickstart a new reaction using her own body as fuel.
She could save 10,800 lives, but only at the cost of her own.
She had minutes to decide. With a flick of her wrist Nova's Hikou throwing stars took out every camera in eyeshot, killing Yurr's surveillance of them. This done, she turned to the technicians she had just saved.She would need their help.
Alamos Sniper Skin:
Nova walked to her doom.
As she entered the reactor's chamber Yurr smugly assured her she was doing the right thing. Within the reactor's observation room the technicians nodded assent. This was going to be close . From the bridge Yurr sealed the reactor chamber's blast doors. Seconds later, on Nova's signal, the technicians overrode that command. The doors shot upwards and Nova wormholed out of the chamber and back into the corridor. Leaving that portal open she created another, straight up, into the vent system. On the bridge Yurr had little time to react, but react he did: ordering all prisoners to be killed. In that moment a portal flashed into existence, Nova launching herself amidst pirate captain and crew. And showed them what she was made of.
In a blinding flash Yurr and every mercenary on that bridge was deeply infused with Nova's antimatter, starting a chain reaction within them. Yurr realized what was happening, but too late. With a few precise shots from her Syrah-customized sniper rifle Nova neutralized those mercenaries who were quicker off the mark before grabbing Yurr by his brightly irradiated hair. Hurling him back through her network of wormholes, Nova sent Holsom Yurr pinging from portal to portal before tumbling out into the reactor chamber.The wormholes collapsed.
Yurr struggled to his feet as every molecule in his body approached critical.
Behind the glass the technicians gave him a final, grim salute before slamming the blast door closed. Holsom Yurr, pirate and legend, went nova. The reactor caught the reaction. The technicians harnessed it, and the engines of the Masker's Theodolite roared to life. It was, indeed, the boldest of fools who attempted to leash lightning. And so a notorious rogue, said to be unkillable, met his end in the attempt.As the historical record now demonstrates.
- In the second last donation line, it is likely that Drusus was commenting on buying his body back, which implies he might be a Solaris.
- Drusus is voiced by Martin Oldfield.