A Hearse with No Name
“Within these visions I drown once more
each day more violent than before
(I hear) Wolves howling at the door
and footsteps on an empty floor
Embraced by the sun's stygian light
My dreams come with open eyes
Loss of the blissful days of yore
The loss of all that we adore
Resounding to death's violent score
I saw it all, but there was more...”
The sounds were distorted, things shifted in and out, impossible to tell what sound was what, except that one noise, the sound of something being metal being dragged across metal floor. What was it?
Her body was numb, there was no sense of touch left in her. Something wet was under her.
Valdyra opened an eye. Her vision was colored red by the blood pouring from a wound in her head into her eye, she could barely see what was happening in front of her.
There were shadows all around her, shadows standing in the distance and shadows lying on the floor, bulky masses torn asunder by an horrible force. She knew where that force came from.
It laid in a pool of its own blood on the metal floor, armor and gadgets torn to shreds, blood coughing up from its mouth and eyes seeing only red.
The sound of metal stopped and the shadow closest to her placed a foot on the bulky shadow lying right next to her.
She could see its feet clearly, a razor, three toed sharp talon of metal, glistening in the light from the ceiling high above.
A pair of orange eyes came into view as the shadow kneeled down to observe her, glowing like lanterns in her murky, bloodsoaked vision.
“This one still lives.” the shadow said, a distant murmur in her ringing ears, but still audiable.
Bulky shadows approached, the rattle of weapons making itself known through the ringing noise and the beating of her own heart.
“Tenno? Can you here me? Answer!”
Lotus. Always clear. Always there. How? Why?
“No!” the shadow said, extending a black wing, or was it wearing a cloak, it was hard to tell. “I'm taking this one with me.”
“Tenno, you have to answer... Tenno!”
“Sleep.” the shadow whispered, kneeling down over her. There was a sting in her neck.
Then the shadows became an endless darkness. Yet those eyes remained, glowing like beacons in the darkness.
Was this... death?
Valdyra threw her eyes wide open. She blinked several times.
At first she thought she was blind, then she realized she was in a very dark room.
Small yellow lights blinked here and there in the dark.
She tried to move here arms, but they wouldn't budge. It took her a few moments to realize that she was tied to a flat surface, perhaps an upright stretcher of some kind with her entire body tied up with her arms and legs tight to her body.
The only thing she was able to move at all was her head, so she moved it a little to the left to look at the sides. Her head seared with a throbbing pain, pounding inside her skull. She gasped.
It felt like her head had been split in two. She recalled the shadows... who were they?
What had happened to her, who had done this and why?
“L... Lotus...?” she asked in the silence. Her voice was weak and raspy, every breath hurt.
There was no answer.
“Lo... Lotus...? Can you... hear me...?”
There was still no answer.
However there was a sound now, it came from somewhere from outside where she was.
A chill ran down her spine. She recognized that sound.
A door opened straight across the room she was in, a shadow was silhouetted in the door frame and then the lights came on:
A man was standing in the doorway, he was dressed in a dark grey armor with a torn black long coat underneath it, around his waist hanged a tattered belt with a revolver holstered on his right side.
His legs were entirely cybernetic, the resembled the legs of a MOA, but were of distinct Grineer design, with four long toes, three in front, two in the back brandishing razorsharp, jagged claws at the end of them.
His face was worn and scarred from many battles and he wore the jaw of a kubrow over his own jaw, a trophy from a kill in the past no doubt.
He had short black hair with grey strands in it and his eyes were brightly orange, in the light they seemed to glow with an excited glint.
“I thought I heard something... delightful.” his voice was odd, it had an accent she'd never heard from any Grineer before, but still raspy and hoarse.
He placed his hands on his back and approached her, his walk was a waddling one, most likely due to his cybernetic legs. It made Valdyra think of a chicken. Maybe she would have laughed if her head wasn't feeling like it was about to crack open. And if it wasn't for the distinct sound they made everytime a step was taken.
“Excuse the restraints.” the Grineer said, smiling at her. His teeth were uneven, some of them sharp. “But I don't make a habit of letting my prey wander around my ship on its own... they could break something.”
Valdyra kept her mouth shut. She didn't want to answer him.
She'd just noticed that he had the broken helmet of an Excalibur Warframe as right shoulder pad.
This Grineer was a killer of Tenno and from the looks of the Kubrow jaw and the necklace made out of teeth hanging around his neck, he clearly was someone who enjoyed hunting other living beings for sport.
The Grineer followed her gaze and dusted off the Excalibur helmet.
“Ah, yes. Hard not to admire.” he said with a crooked smile “I have many trophies that I am fond of, but this one is my personal favorite.”
Valdyra stared at him, she already felt an intense hatred for this Grineer, she wondered who this smug bastard was, he wasn't like any of the other Grineer she'd fought in the past, his face was that of someone else.
“Who... are you?” her voice left her lips in a weak whisper, too weak to speak properly. “You... don't look like... the others...”
Zet Kuur smiled and made an exaggerated and mocking bow before her.
“I could ask the same about you, my dear. I am from a far superior brood than the slackjawed maggots your kind slays on a daily basis. I am Sergeant Zet Kuur, loyal servant of the Twin Queens, sovereign rulers of the Grineer Empire. I welcome aboard my ship Uzrâtak or as some has taken to call it in recent memory...” he gave her a amused smile “...A Hearse with No Name.”
She didn't respond, she tried to give him a hateful glare in response, but the pain in her head made her wince instead.
Zet Kuur threw his head back and laughed harshly, he looked back at her with a smile on his face.
“I'm sorry for that little thing... I'm not that good with medical kits. But if it's hurting it means it's healing. I think.” he said “Did I hear you say something about Lotus? I'm afraid there's been a problem with comunications lately.”
He grinned spitefully at her, waving a small object in his hands.
“A signal jammer, the same kind used by The Grustrag Three... just in a better condition.” he explained. “When these darlings work as intended, they block all comunication signals and trackers within their range. You are invisible to the Lotus and fellow Tenno with this near you... and given your state before, they probably think you're dead.”
Valdyra felt ice cold inside, if this was the case, she was in worse trouble than assumed.
“Immensly useful, yet the higher ups don't place efforts on making large scale versions.” Kuur continued. “No no, bigger guns, bigger ships, even bigger guns on even bigger ships! Who needs to disrupt enemy communication when we have that?”
“W... what are you going to do to me?” Valdyra asked, hearing herself stutter a little, but tried to keep calm, hoping he hadn't noticed.
But Kuur did notice, because he looked very pleased with himself as he walked behind the stretcher she was tied to, doing something behind it.
The stretcher was then pushed forward and she heard Kuurs voice behind her.
“Oh just escorting you to a new location.” he said. “While we travel there I thought you'd might want to have a look around. It makes the time go faster.”
He chuckled as he pushed her through the door and out in a hallway. Valdyra guessed from the size of the hallway that Uzrâtak was a small vessel, possibly a modified transportation ship of some kind.
Kuur turned left and they entered a well lit room.
Valdyra breathed heavily.
The room was full of shelves, display monitors and cases. They were all filled with skulls, helmets, pieces of bone and exposed parts of the rooms walls had heads mounted on them.
It felt like a dagger was stabbed in her chest and twisted around as she recognized that many of the helmets were from different Warframes.
On the floor at her feet was the pelt of a Kubrow, laid out like a mat and in the corner of the room a large pod was standing, from its appearance is seemed to be a scavenged stasis pod, Kuur apparently slept among his trophies.
Kuur stopped the stretcher and walked in front of her, extending his arms and spinning around on the spot as if in a state of euphoria.
“Beautiful collection, wouldn't you say?” he smiled at her, that same wicked smile. “It's a shame I cannot add you to it as well.”
He leaned close to her face. She could see every scar on his face, feel his breath on her skin.
She was beginning to feel frightened of this man, hate and madness glowed in his eyes.
“Believe me, you will soon wish that you were dead and your helmet was placed among the rest here.” Kuur whispered, his eyes gleaming maliciously. He stepped back and observed her face. “I was wondering what to do with you at first, however when I reported it someone on Uranus took interest in taking a closer look at you.”
He studied Valdyra curiously.
“I guess I can see why... I've never seen a Tenno without their mask before...” he asked as he raised a hand and let a thin finger run down her cheek. “It's so strange to see you without your helmets... do all Tenno look like this, or is it just you...?”
He placed his hands behind his back and began walking in circles around Valdyra.
“And you talk too, so many are silence incarnate, so it's truly an amazing thing that there are those of you capable of speaking a word or two.” he paused. “Maybe all Tenno can speak and they simply won't... or perhaps something is muting the voices of your kind?”
“You have Tenno helmets on display, didn't you bother looking or listening closely when you murdered them!?” Valdyra snapped, he was making her very angry.
Kuur stood silent for a moment, till he shrugged and instead pointed at his many decorations.
“Murder is such a harsh way of putting it, do you murder when you kill a wild Kubrow? Does the Kubrow murder when they attack you? You came too close to their home, they had to defend it by hunting you... I have to defend myself when I hunt them.” he touched the jaw decoration on his chin “I “hunted” all of these with my own hands, in shall we say; my way.”
He stopped and looked up at the skull of a creature that reminded Valdyra of something she'd seen in an old history book, it looked like a shark, but more vicious.
“There was a very nasty sea creature that kept assaulting the underwater facilities on Uranus, I was sent there to deal with it.” Kuur told her. “Not what I usually do, but I accepted nonetheless. Vicious one, hard to get a good shot on. So we captured its spawn and killed them both when the mother came looking. Sadly it was far to big for my ship, so I kept the head of its spawn instead.”
Somehow that didn't surprise her at all and it disgusted her how callous he was.
When he turned to smirk at her she got a better look at the belt he had around his waist, she hadn't paid much attention to it, but when she avoided to look Kuur in the face her eyes fell on the gleaming belt buckle.
It was of Orokin make, its gold so tarnished and dirty that the symbol on it was difficult to discern, except when in the right light.
Kuur caught her gaze and patted the revolver in his holster.
“I wish I could tell you how I bravely entered the Void and wrestled that buckle from one of the guardians in those towers.” he answered her unasked question with a sigh “alas, it's only a memento from a little trip into one of those Derelict ships, one of the infested in there had it... for some reason.”
Kuur suddenly seemed to have thought of something and suddenly walked out of the room without another word, leaving Valdyra to stare at the skulls and helmets around her.
She was used to death, she'd been the direct cause of it many times, over and over again, but this room and its contents gave her an unsettling feeling.
It wasn't the fact that many of the helmets belonged to Tenno warriors or their companions, followes and allies, but the fact that they were all on display this way, with small labels next to them that she guessed detailed how this particular individual had met their end.
She closed her eyes and looked down, she didn't want to see this... some of the helmets were identical to those of people she had once known. She was certain none of them had met this Sergeant Kuur... but the thought that it could be the case made her stomach feel as it was full of ice.
She opened her eyes and found herself staring at the Kubrow pelt. It had brown color with black stripes on its fur.
It must have been a noble creature when it was alive, running and fighting alongside its master, before being killed by this lowlife scum.
Right now she was glad she didn't have a Kubrow, but at the same time if she'd had one, maybe this wouldn't have happened... or the outcome would have been exactly the same.
She'd seen her friends have them as companions, constantly following them around, barking loudly and acting like most animals do, but with an unwavering loyalty to their masters.
She'd thought about having one of her own, but always reasoned that she wasn't fit to take care of another living being, indeed thinking of where she had been before all this had happened, she knew it was true.
When she left she had pondered taking a sentinel with her, a small machine that only required maintanance, but the only ones she'd ever used were borrowed, never her own.
But as she looked at the pelt at her feet, she was glad she had neither of these things... they wouldn't have been as lucky as her too be alive... or maybe they would have been the lucky ones...
“You know, that one and its master remains my proudest kill to date.”
Kuur had returned, he was holding Valdyra's satchel in his hands. He rubbed his clawed foot on the Kubrow pelts fur.
“It was a glorious hunt, we were at it for days. But I got them both in the end, the dog first.” he tapped a finger on the Excalibur helmet piece on his shoulder “then its master afterwards. Told you it was my favorite.”
What did you do, shoot them in the back?
Kuur picked something up from the satchel and showed it her, unwittingly made a grimace; it was her syringe he was holding.
Kuur himself was studying it curiously before looking her in the face.
“I'm certain the labcoats will ask these questions or figure it out themselves, but what exactly is this?” he asked, at the same time he also had picked up the vial with the blue liquid, holding it and the syringe together. “I wanted to take a sample of it, but I see this is the last one... hate to hear the labrats complain about the lack of a sample.”
So that's how many she had left... well it hardly mattered anymore.
Valdyra didn't answer, she just glared at him.
Kuur waited, then he sighed and put the vial and syringe back in the satchel.
“Now I'm dying of curiosity. Oh well, no big loss I guess.” he lamented with disappointment.
“Why don't you try it out then and see what happens?” Valdyra spitefully asked.
Kuur gave her an amused glanced and waved a finger across her face, just when she was about to bite it, because she figured things wouldn't get better, a beeping noise was heard from the gauntlet and Kuur pulled his hand back to take a look at something on it.
After observing what it was for a few seconds he turned to Valdyra again with a broad grin.
“It seems I was right, this did make the time just fly by. We're there in a few minutes.” he said, walked behind the stretcher again and moved her backwards. “So now the tour is over and I must take you back to the cargo hold.”
Back inside the room she had awoken in, Kuur stopped at the exact spot Valdyra first had been in, but now he pushed the front of the stretcher back, until Valdyra felt it hit something.
To her sides she now saw a lid, the door to a pod of some kind.
“That's what you are now after all, cargo, goods to be delivered.“ Kuur said before closing the lid to the pod, a small window in it let her see him outside as he locked it and left her there, walking out of the room, turning off the lights and looking back before the door closed. “But try not to think too much of it.”
Valdyra could hear his steps through the thick walls of the pod as they echoed down the hallway before finally fading, then what noise from the ships beeping and humming that could get through the pods walls was all that she could hear in the darkness, the small lights here and there the only thing she could see through the small window.
She breathed havily, trying not to panic. She thought it strange, but then again after seeing the trophy room and the feeling of helpnessness she felt right now. Indeed who wouldn't have been at least frightened of this situation would they too have been in it, even the hardiest of Tenno?
As much of a oppertunistic, backstabbing coward this Zet Kuur seemed to be, he was still holding her life in his hands and soon those hands would be Grineer scientist and who knows what would happen then?
As the thought hit her, the sound of rain drumming against a hard surface reached her ears and a few minutes later the ship started making loud noises, before it started shaking and then stopped altogether.
Steps outside the door signaled the return of Kuur and he entered the cargo hold, a long torn cape over his shoulders and a hood pulled over his face.
He walked over to a small controll panel and after pressing a few buttons a large hatch opened and he stepped outside, disappearing from view.
From what little Valdyra could see from the window, the outside appeared to have been struck by a terrible rainstorm, a flash of light was followed by a rumbling. She thought she was hearing waves through the rain, but wasn't sure.
After a while the stomping of marching feet came closer and then several Grineer lancers appeared in the hatchs opening, hurrying to the pod she was in.
She heard them do something to the bottom of the pod, before the entire pod was laid flat and carried out of the cargo hold.
One moment Valdyra found herself staring at the ceiling of the ship and then it was replaced by a grey sky ridden with storm clouds with heavy rain pouring down on the window.
For a while that was all she could see, feeling how she was carried through the rain, until the rain suddenly stopped and she stared up in a ceiling again.
The grineer carrying her halted and for a while they just seemed to be standing there.
She swore she was hearing bits of a conversation somewhere outside of the pod, one voice was Kuurs, the others she didn't recognize.
“This … interesting toys … quite fierce … weapons … done here.”
“Wait … important … wants to see you.”
“Must I? … if … then … way ...”
There was footsteps close to her pod and then the voice that was not Kuurs yelled:
“Take it below, hurry up!”
“Hold on a moment.”
Another unknown voice had made itself known, from the sound of it, whoever was speaking was standing right next to the pod, yet she couldn't see anyone besides the heads of the Grineer carrying her.
“It's still awake, here let me correct it.”
Valdyra suddenly smelled something in the air around here, she figured it was a gas of some kind, for what else could it be?
Without her helmet on there was no way for her to resist or lessen the effects of it.
Her head was feeling dizzy …
Everything was spinning before her eyes …
Not again …
And for the third time these past hours, Valdyra slipped into unconsciousness …