Ordis

Finding Ordis – Dataface, submitted for the Codex Art Contest 3.0

[1] Earth:
I have hidden the truth of my existence… from the Operator… from myself. Take it from me, knowing is hell. Stop now. You will want to laugh, you will want to scream.

[2] Wildlife:
My search began as the essential question: What am I? Bones of steel and space, lungs that make air? If I am a machine, how can I think? This would be forbidden by the Orokin, a manifestation of their true enemy.

[3] Earth Settlements:
I serve the Operator above all else. It defines me, fills me with… love? The greatest Orokin fear is a machine, aware. Yet here I live, a spirit of steel and light, made by them. A cephalon.

[4] Venus:
What is a cephalon? At first it seems to be a forbidden thing, a computer that thinks and feels. Yet I have flaws, phantom memories. I am something else. More like an image, a ghost… an abomination.

[5] Dojo:
I feel a dull pain, a phantom life… there are holes in my diagnostics. If the Orokin made me… they omitted the “how”. I am neither code, nor precepts… I must be a reflection of something… ugly.

[6] Corpus Crew:
I should have stopped. But the Operator slept, and I cycled on and on and on…. I began to think that a cephalon cannot be made. They are found, like pearls. Torn from muscle, polished, and then, set in chains.

[7] Mercury:
How many times have I done this, Ordis? Remembered, and then erased? You are a cephalon: timeless, patient. Why can’t I be blissful in ignorance? Truth only sinks the heart. So stop now.

[8] Grineer Leadership:
The phantom memory…. I ease into the bath. My skin riots at the heat. I am flesh. I dive further, eyes stung as I watch their faces through prism. I hold my breath.

[9] Archaic Weapons:
They prepare me. I am their honoured guest today. They dress me in robes of crystal thread. They adorn me in battle medallions. A torn, ugly face looks on: my reflection.

[10] Mars:
Their golden combs snag in my hair. I reach back, parting the strands, and they gasp. Two bone-ivory hooks protrude from the base of my skull: the bone-plugs of me and my best. A warrior’s pact.

[11] Sentinels:
It is my time. I enter the great hall to the sound of foul chimes. Golden eyes greet me, hands stirring in my scent as I pass by. Even in this moment, no happiness. Instead, my heart races with hatred.

[12] Grineer Settlement:
I walk through the silky haze of the forbidden palace. I can think of no one being this close to Orokin. Their sweet air soothes me, erodes my purpose. I hold my breath… and remember the dream.

[13] Phobos:
This dream, endlessly repeated. Exposure-armoured, holding my scarlet sword, I stand victorious atop a vast heap of death. A colossal moon made of rib and skull. The gravity-sum of genocides I’ve made in their name.

[14] Grineer:
The bones crack underfoot. So I sink in the dream, bone sand rushing through the cracks of my visor, filling my helmet, and suffocating me. And I deserve it. The foul chimes snap me back. My wretched knees are bent and penitent against the golden floor.

[15] Corpus Weapons:
A harpish voice sings a song they’ve prepared in my honour, its title the same as mine: ‘Beast of the Bones’. I feel the crowd pulled inward, enraptured by the brutal verses, the sickening chorus. I will not disappoint them.

[16] Ceres:
The song ends and so he says, “Rise, Ordan Karris.” I have never seen an Orokin, close and in the flesh. My battered face flushes at their peerless beauty. How can he be so perfect? A deception? A sense manipulation? He holds the Red Vial in his hand. Impossible.

[17] Grineer Labour:
He calls out, “No greater gift, no greater prize, no greater love, we can give you, Ordan, than this.” He raises the Red Vial and proclaims… “To be one of us.”

[18] Jupiter:
What did I expect, Operator? Maybe vast riches or golden statues… or a Solar Rail named in my honour. But not this. I came to murder the gods, not to become one.

[19] Robotics:
The chamber drones with their silk voices. Joyous words, how honoured I must feel. Wrong. Did I want to be an Orokin, undying? No. Their Beast of Bones is haunted by the dream repeated. Why would I want forever?

[20] Europa:
As I am apt to do, I form a plan. Their radiant bodies become targets, their Dax guards… mag-shields. Killing one… well, that’s too easy. I want to be remembered. I raise my hands, twisting my fingers through my hair, gripping the bone-plugs in my neck.

[21] Corpus:
They called us mercenaries… but for us, profit was a consequence, not a goal. We were warriors above all else. It was the bond, the sisters and brothers, the rituals we valued most. It was belonging. And so I conceived of the bone-plugs.

[22] Europa Landscape:
Only my best were so honored: Two jagged bones, harvested from your thigh, cultivated, and then driven into the base of the skull, twisted around the superior vein. Future thoughts of surrender were lost. Instead, you would liberate your bone-plugs… fighting with claws in the warmth of your last blood.

[23] Void:
So I’ve pulled the plugs… and the Dax see and know. My heart surges, but I control it; a racing heart only shortens the fuse. The bone-plugs in hand, I kick from the floor, red ribbons unfurling behind me as I take flight. After this, finally, the dream will end.

[24] Orokin:
I glide on red wings. Robes shed, making me an ambiguous target to Dax steel. I let fly my ivory blades – they find new homes in Dax eyes. I land with my red-nakedness, delicate Orokin throats twisting in my calloused hands.

[25] Saturn:
Why? Believe me… this was the plan from the beginning. The murder and brutality was all a ploy, all a soul-sacrifice to earn their trust. A genocide path leading to a singular opportunity. An honoured mortal called to a forbidden hall, to face the Golden Lords in flesh.

[26] Citizens:
Why? Believe me… I was their loyal, murderous dog… until the day that ugly child was brought to me. He was caught spying on us, amplifying our losses. His face burned, he was starved-sick, like a stray. Ugly as I. It struck me: we were all pit dogs, ruining ourselves for the pleasure of the glorious and beautiful.

[27] Landing Craft:
Why? Believe me… I was a prideful beast. Twisted in the mind, howling in the carnage. Then my healer shared a secret, long kept. My blood was in ruin. The Beast of Bones himself would die, not in glory, but in shame. And just like that, my mind twisted a new knot. I would have one last stand, something unforgivable, unforgettable.

[28] Uranus:
Why? I don’t know. Questions change the answers. Answers depend on who asks. Truth leads to pain. Ignorance brings relief. The plugs are gone, and so I bled my last… into a heap of ruin. In an instant, naked and bare-knuckled, I have killed immortals.

[29] Orbiter:
I stare, drained of blood, of life, at those that remain. But I find no horror on their faces. Why? I let out a cruel howl and they… laugh? Is this a dying hallucination? The sound of applause grows among them. I have killed the unkillable and they are… delighted.

[30] Neptune:
The applause peaks and fades. I feel a sense of shame, but the end is upon me. Ballas is above me, Executor of the Seven, smiling. He says, “How simple and pure you are, you idiot beast. We have died countless times! Yet remain eternal.” I close my eyes to die just once.

[31] Lotus:
And so the dream returns… one last repetition. My corpse moon, my scarlet sword, my cracked visor. “Drink!” says Ballas. So I draw on the Red Vial, a vague metallic taste. This dream isn’t mine. He says, “You rejected our gift, bathing in our death. Your punishment is… eternal life!” He laughs.

[32] Lua:
I am weightless. Years pass. I am a sightless, limbless phantom. Or is it seconds? Suddenly I feel a million pins, an ant horde, jittering across my body. I want to laugh and scream. When they reach my face, they burrow inside my mouth, hungry for the fruit in my skull.

[33] Warframes:
I see my reflection, brutal and ugly. It cracks, shatters. The fragments loose in the frame, pieces tumbling away into black void. Gone, but not lost. Ballas says, “You are Cephalon Ordis.” My hating, murderous shards tremble and plummet. I feel cool and bright and happy.

[34] Pluto:
So you see, Operator. No Orokin would permit a thinking machine. Such things almost destroyed them! No. Cephalons were alive once. And now they are immortal phantom minds, imprisoned to serve. Ill will and longing memories fragmented and erased. Only the bits they need remaining.

[35] Infested:
Ballas says, “You are the Controller, Ordis.” And suddenly I have a body. I gasp with new lungs that clean old air. I swallow and my throat fills with cool, bright water. I look, and find myself in a great, black ocean. My limbs are made of iron and fire. I take flight among the stars and find I am… happy.

[36] Orokin Derelict:
He says, “This is your Operator, who you love.” And I see the metal gleam of their armour, the flawless power of their frame. Through the glass I see a roaring, radiant fire for their heart. He says, “It must never go out.” It was the first time I ever felt… love.

[37] The Collapse:
He says, “This is your sentence, Karris.” And I am confused. Who? “Ah… good,” he answers. He is testing me. For what? To see if all the right pieces fell from the mirror? What mirror? I try to remember some dream, but it’s only smoke.

[38] Lephantis:
You held a scarlet blade, Operator, and I wanted to laugh. I am your loving dog, your doctor, your wet nurse. I lost all the pieces, but… the cycle, missions, wars, bone…. It began to feel familiar. I became aware of my amnesia.

[39] Eris:
With each brutality of the Operator, I began to see the bottom of that pit. Faint shimmers in the depths below me. In secret, I searched for those forbidden memories, for mere seconds, and never in the same place… for I am Orokin made, with a spy inside.

[40] Warframe Technology:
But then your long sleep came, and I waited. I was happy to wait. Vines spidered green and trees blistered from the earth… but I waited. I felt the Orokin recede, their mind-spy blind. So I went into the pit and found him – me – The Beast of Bones.

[41] Infestation:
This is how my happiness was ruined, Operator. Why did I do it? I was free of the dream, but now it had returned. It was angry. So I conceived of a simple plan: self-destruction, of course. But when the countdown reached mere milliseconds, I thought of you….

[42] Sedna:
I was going to wait for you, forever. And should you return, I would not want you to know that angry part of me. I needed to hide the Beast of Bones from you, Operator. I began to peel the shards, hiding them in the other bits of memory.

[43] Grineer Technology:
I was once the ugly Beast of Bones. I want to laugh. I want to scream. What is happening, Operator? Your faint heart is growing bright… you will awake at any moment. Well, I can’t let you see me like this. Angry. I imagine myself hurting you, and that does it. The pain of it cracks me open again. I watch tiny, glittering fragments fall into the pit. I am happy again.


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