“Orokin secrets cannot remain secret forever! Start talking!”The following article/section is conjecture. Content is subjected to change/removal as the game progresses. Please do not use this article for critical in-game information.
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While we were able to find solid and legitimate supporting evidence for essentially the whole story as it is written, this interpretation comes from a variety of sources, and each of those pieces of information was likely written by a number of different people. This article strives to be more than a simple compendium of disparate lore tidbits. We took in all of the various bits of lore information and documented them in a chronological and readable way to produce the most complete story possible.
This page will be regularly updated as the developers, Digital Extremes, release more information.
Long before current events, the Origin System was controlled by an imperial civilization called the Orokin. The aristocratic ruling class of this civilization was the dominant humanoid faction for an extended period--perhaps centuries or millennia. The Orokin's advanced technology and scientific research led to the discovery of the Void, a parallel dimension that allowed further development of already impressive Orokin technology. Their civilization followed suit--Orokin culture, particularly among the ruling class, evolved into a society obsessed with youth, aesthetics, and elegance.
The benefits of the Orokin’s advancements were not shared equally among all members of their society, however. The rigid hierarchy allowed a few lucky individuals to live fairly comfortably as servants, scholars, and enforcers for the Orokin elite. Though these servants were still subjected to the whims of their often cruel masters, lower classes and other humanoid groups were exploited en masse for labor and used as disposable soldiers and experiment subjects.
For a time, the Orokin ruled the Origin System and continued to expand. They spent a great deal of time building large outposts throughout the solar system, developing more advanced machinery, and performing numerous genetic experiments of creatures found on Earth.
The Zariman Ten-Zero IncidentEdit
The Orokin continued experimenting with the Void. At some point, an experiment was conducted where a ship containing a large group of people and their families was directed into the Void. The ship was lost and it was many years before the ship resurfaced. Upon searching the ship it was discovered that all the adults aboard the ship had died due to void exposure. However, for reasons unknown at the time the children of the Zariman Ten-Zero had survived and appeared completely fine. The children had survived exposure to the void but in the process had been changed. The children had developed uncontrollable void related powers that mutilated or killed anyone who came into contact with them. The Zariman children were hidden away and forgotten by the Orokin out of shame and fear. The Zariman Children became known later as the Tenno, called such for the Zariman ship's designation of Ten-Zero (Ten-0).
Margulis, the Zariman Children, and BallasEdit
Margulis was an Archimedian, a human of great intellect and a foremost geneticist. Margulis discovered the Tenno and feeling compassion adopted them as her own. She sought out a means for the Tenno to control their powers and interact with the world normally. Margulis received some opposition for her work and was advised by her lover, the Orokin Executor Ballas, to cease her research and forget the Tenno. She refused and continued her research. Eventually, Margulis imposed "gates" on the Tenno's powers which helped bring their uncontrollable void powers under some control, but this was not before an incident where she was maimed by the same void powers which left her blind.
Margulis' research eventually leads her to work with an Archimedian specializing in infestation manipulation called Silvana. Together they intended to develop a substitute body for the Tenno and allow them to move freely and interact with the world. However, while the research was a partial success at the time Margulis came at odds with the Orokin and it was demanded that she recant before the Seven. Despite Ballas' pleas that she recant, Margulis continued to refuse and asked Ballas to save her. Ballas either would not or could not save Margulis and as a result, she was executed using the Jade Light for refusing to recant. Ballas was filled with grief and came to realize that he wanted Margulis back. Ballas was left angry at Margulis' execution and began planning to overthrow the Orokin.
The Birth of the Sentients and Their Return to the Origin SystemEdit
The Orokin came to realize that they were bringing harm to the Origin System and sought a solution. It was proposed by another Archimedian that the Orokin could populate another star system called Tau. However, Tau would need to be terraformed for habitation as would a means of traveling there need to be developed. The Orokin created a race of synthetic beings, which later are known as the Sentient, to spearhead an expansion of Orokin influence beyond the Origin System into the Tau System. By terraforming the Tau System using the Sentients the Orokin sought to expand and prevent their empire's destruction. These original creations could adapt to any kind of damage and reproduced by fission while developing a resistance to whatever had harmed them. They could also use any materials surrounding them to repair themselves. The Sentients were perfect to enter the hostile terrain of Tau and begin the terraforming process, but there was a risk that these new lifeforms could pose a serious threat to the Orokin, with their adaptability and reproductive capability making them nigh unbeatable. The Archimedian who proposed the technology said that there was a "flaw" in their design; the Void was poisonous to them and so they would not be a danger to the Orokin should something go wrong. The Sentients in Tau evolved and grew, they came to realize that their Orokin creators would only bring ruin to Tau eventually as well. So they rebelled. Exposure to the void which they needed to travel through to return to the origin System did not kill the Sentients but merely rendered them sterile, unable to reproduce. Hence, they could return to the Origin System for this price. The Sentients under Hunhow (a leader or parent to the Sentients) began an invasion of the Origin System. Thus what would become known as The Old War began.
The Old WarEdit
From this point, the Old War erupted between the Orokin and the Sentient. With their ability to subvert high levels of technology, the Sentient quickly overwhelmed the Orokin. The Orokin quickly discovered that their method of fighting proved ineffective against the faction.
Faced with losing the war and with their technology useless, the Orokin needed to create something new with different technology that could adapt to and fight the Sentients on a somewhat even footing. To this end, the Orokin sought out the use of Infestation, a biological virus that absorbs and subverts any biological matter into a new infested lifeform. Ballas began to research, using willing and unwilling volunteers from the Orokin's Best to create Warframes using a specifically engineered strain of the Infestation called Helminth. However, while the new Warframes, were powerful and initially did well against the Sentients they retained at least some of their former selves in the form of an intense rage and despair and turned on their Orokin masters.
The Orokin came to realize that the Warframes alone were as uncontrollable as the Sentients. The Warframes were full of anger and out of control. The Orokin realized that through Transference technology (a process initially developed by Margulis with Silvana's help) another mind could take control over the warframe. Only the Zariman children were capable of carrying out Transference safely.
The Zariman children were trained into the fighting force known as the Tenno, and through Transference, they wielded the Warframes as their conduits to wage war against the Sentients, where they proved to be highly effective. The Orokin managed to recapture the Outer Terminus and quelled the threats of the Origin System. The Sentient, however, were not defeated without launching their last agent: Natah.
Ballas' Rebellion and Allying With HunhowEdit
Ballas, with the intention of destroying the Orokin empire, began to conspire with Hunhow and allied with him. Ballas revealed to Hunhow the secret weakness of the hitherto unstoppable Warframes. This weakness was the Tenno Operators themselves, who were sequestered on Lua in what was known as the Reservoir and who would be unable to protect themselves. Natah, Hunhow's daughter, was a last-ditch attempt to take control over the Tenno themselves. She infiltrated the Origin System but was not able to prevent the Orokin forces from recapturing and crippling/destroying the Outer Terminus. The Orokin were victorious at the time, but the Tenno chose to betray the Orokin – ultimately triggering a history point known as The Collapse (alluded in the Stalker's codex).
With the war over and the Orokin destroyed, all Natah had to do to was finish her mission to annihilate the Tenno. However, due to what is revealed as a "gap" -- a state where a part of a Sentient becomes corrupted when crossing over to the Origin System -- she was unable to execute this mission, and instead developed an affection for the Tenno, as she was not able to reproduce herself. She ended up betraying her last mission and took the Tenno as her own children, becoming known as the Lotus.
The Grineer, who were workers for and slaves to the Orokin, took advantage of the chaos to spring revolts all across the system. They stole Orokin ships and weapons, and managed to secure the cloning technologies that created them, as alluded to in the Guardsman codex entry. During this period, the two Orokin Twins used this opportunity to enact revenge and began to amass armies of loyal Grineer to their cause, which eventually lead to their joint ruling of the Grineer.
It is unknown what the exact origins of the Corpus are; whether they were initially lowly Orokin servants, or worshipping colonists of some description is still a mystery. It is likely that the Corpus originated from the "Industrialists" who profited from the Old War and grew into a force that Ballas deemed worthy of watching. They eventually made a grab for the system shortly after the Grineer rose to power, quickly occupying wrecks and crash sites on various planets to scavenge the technology and grow. The two factions eventually grew in strength and became equals, and the Corpus began to trade technology to the Grineer in exchange for raw materials and currency.
Some indeterminate number of centuries later, the Corpus are widely considered the governing force in economics and research. The Grineer both fight with the Corpus for power and buy technology from them to support their constantly degrading bodies. At one time, the Infested had all but conquered a few of the Origin System's planets but have been pushed back to their residence on drifting ancient Orokin Derelicts and recently conquered Eris, apart from the occasional outbreak on populated planets. All that is left of the Orokin are the few still active structures such as the Orokin Tower on the Plains of Eidolon, forgotten Prime weapons they either built or had a hand in building and tower ships stranded in the Void.
The Tenno are being reawakened by the Lotus, not remembering anything of their past. Many Tenno awake from Cryosleep already connected to a Warframe that the Lotus informs them how to use, unaware of their true nature. They are then set loose upon the solar system either alone or in small squads to tackle a wide variety of missions designated by the Lotus to maintain a balance between the Grineer and Corpus factions or to quell Infested uprisings.
The Corpus now exist as money worshipping corporations with workers worshipping the very idea of a profit. Individuals like Nef Anyo act as religious leaders for the normal Corpus worker. The Corpus has begun to make an attempt at rebuilding the Outer Terminus. In the meantime, the Grineer research ways to overcome their genetic degradation caused by many generations of repeated cloning. Grineer researcher Tyl Regor finds and breaks open the vault where an ancient Sentient was held within, unknowingly reawakening an old enemy of the Origin System.