The Strata Relay was just ahead. Excalibur’s landing craft, his plain Liset, landed in the hangar, and the young Tenno happily jumped out. There were very few other landing crafts here. Just that yellow Mantis landing craft which always seemed to be parked in that same spot. Didn’t seem to be any other Tenno nearby though. Didn’t matter. He was just there to trade a handful of Prime Parts for Ducats, then go back to farming for relics.
Then again, this was Strata Relay. Few people ever came here. Even though it was a new relay. There wasn’t much to do, Larunda Relay had all the same things this Relay had, but also Baro Ki’Teer was known to visit that relay every six weeks. The only thing Strata Relay had going for it was that it was in orbit around Earth and had an Ember Warframe motif for some reason. Even Cetus was more popular than Strata Relay, and that was just a silly village in the middle of nowhere.
Excalibur had spent a long time gathering resources to help rebuild the Relay not too long ago. In fact, when Excalibur had told Volt that he’d managed to gather all the resources Steel Meridian had asked for, Volt seemed genuinely surprised. Really, Excalibur’s friends still considered him a bit of a newbie, and with his increased time in and out of cryosleep, he could see why.
But right now, none of that bothered Excalibur. He made his way into the main concourse of the Strata Relay, only to find that all the lights were off.
“It’s pretty dark in here.”
The sudden voice made Excalibur jump. He thought he had been standing on his own, but no, an unfamiliar Warframe was standing next to him.
“Yeah, where are the lights?” Excalibur replied, trying to hide the fact he had been momentarily scared.
“I’ll find out.”
Whatever frame it was, they disappeared into the darkness. Excalibur wasn’t sure, but they could have been a Loki. They definitely had Loki-like horns. He couldn’t tell by the voice and he didn’t get a chance to have a look at them.
After a little hesitation, Excalibur decided to have a look around. A couple of weird robot folks had been seen hanging around here lately, and he wasn’t too sure where they were from. Venus, apparently. There were also normally some Cetus villagers hanging around the entrance, but they were missing today.
Before actually going anywhere, Excalibur had a look at his map. The place was empty, aside from two blue dots. One represented him, the other represented that stealth Warframe who seemed to just be running in and out of every Syndicate room. But since everything was dark, Excalibur had no idea whether the map was accurate or if the built-in tracking system was down too.
Feeling nervous, Excalibur decided to take the elevator to the lower levels. If anything was wrong, then really, the various folks down stairs would know.
The first room Excalibur went to was Cephalon Simaris’s chamber. It was dark down there too, but since Simaris was basically an AI, he didn’t care about the dark.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT, HUNTER?” Simaris bellowed.
“YOU NEED TO FINISH THAT SYNTHESIS TARGET.”
Excalibur blinked. “What target?”
“THIS ONE!” Simaris flashed an image of an Ancient Healer.
“I already did that though.”
“WELL GO AND DO IT 9 MORE TIMES AND MAYBE I WILL GIVE YOU SOME USEFUL INFORMATION. UNTIL THEN, WE HAVE NO BUSINESS BETWEEN US.”
The whole room went dark as Simaris faded away into nothing. Excalibur sighed, then headed to the next room.
Darvo’s room was, as always, filled with items that he was trying to flog. But Darvo himself wasn’t there. He’d left a note of some sort on the board where he normally showed his latest offers. It was written partially in Corpus though, meaning Excalibur could only read some of it.
“BRB. Got Business with the Business.”
None of that made much sense to Excalibur. There was no point sticking around though. Everything in that room was glued to the floor and walls anyway.
The Conclave was empty, as always. Excalibur could see that Teshin person at the top of the hill, patiently waiting for someone to come and talk to him. Teshin creeped Excalibur out and he didn’t know why. Teshin seemed to know stuff that he shouldn’t have.
The only other room downstairs was the Navigation room. But Excalibur wasn’t interested in doing any missions. Plus there was no one there anyway.
Checking his map, Excalibur realised that there were some other Tenno upstairs now. They must have arrived while Excalibur was wandering around downstairs. He headed back to the elevator and found that most of them were gathering around the Ember statue.
But none of the Warframes looked… normal. All of them were red. No other colours. Just various shades of red. They were clearly standard Warframes, just coloured in bright red. Among them, Excalibur spotted the Loki he had spoken to earlier. They too were wearing red. The only non-red colours were on the pumpkin hats some of the Warframes were wearing.
“What’s going on?” Excalibur whispered to himself.
The Warframes all started to move around. A Harrow wearing a pair of skeletal wings and a pair of super sharp Kronen blades moved to the centre, standing on a firepit. The fires were all holograms meant for show, but it still looked both scary and impressive. The other Warframes circled around the Harrow, while four shining red Rhinos all stood behind the Harrow.
After some weird silence, the Harrow raised his hands and began to speak.
“RED TEXT, WE CALL TO YOU IN THIS HOUR OF REDNESS. RED TEXT, WE CALL TO YOU!”
“RED TEXT! RED TEXT!” the other Warframes began to repeat the phrase. At first it was a weird mash up of words, but slowly the cheers turned into an ominous chant.
“RED TEXT!” the Harrow continued. “WE WEAR RED, THE COLOUR OF BLOOD, THE COLOUR OF OUR ENEMIES. WE CALL TO YOU, RED TEXT. SHOW US THE WAY!”
While most of the Warframes continued to chant, several of them spotted Excalibur. A Nidus stepped out from the crowd, inching towards Excalibur. Excalibur immediately backed away, hiding behind a corner, out of sight.
“RED TEXT! WE BATHE IN THE BLOOD OF THE NON-REDS. WE WAIT FOR YOU NOW! WE WORSHIP YOU AND CALL ALL TO WEAR YOUR COLOUR!”
Excalibur was genuinely scared now. He decided to try and leave the relay. But as he made it back to the entrance to the hangar, he spotted even more red Warframes, all chanting that horrible phrase as they filed into the main hall. Several of them, an Atlas, an Inaros and a Saryn, all stared at Excalibur.
“You are not red…” the Saryn hissed.
“ONLY RED SHALL BE HERE. RED FOR THE RED TEXT.”
Excalibur panicked. He didn’t have any red in any of his colour palettes! Rather than say anything, he ran towards the elevator and headed back downstairs.
But this area wasn’t giving Excalibur any feelings of safety. Chants of “RED TEXT” seemed to have followed him down to the lower floor.
“RED TEXT! WE CALL TO YOU!”
Several red Warframes had made their way downstairs and were wandering around. Suddenly, Excalibur felt something tugging at him.
“Pst, come up here!”
Excalibur looked up. A non-red Warframe was clinging to the wall above him.
“Walljump up here and follow me!”
The young Tenno did as he was told. He followed the mysterious Warframe up through a hidden gap and down a weird, glowing passageway. He soon found himself in the little garden behind Teshin, which was normally walled off.
“VOLT!” Excalibur almost shrieked. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? And why aren’t you yellow?”
Volt shrugged as he adjusted his armour. “Eh, I fancied a change. Black, red and gold is a nice look, but I’ll be damned if I’m going all red, just so I can trade some Prime parts…”
Volt peered over the statues, past Teshin. Four red Warframes were wandering around the lower area. The chants of RED TEXT got louder.
“What’s going on?” Excalibur whimpered. “I don’t have any red…”
“You didn’t get the Halloween palette? It’s like, one credit on the market…” Volt muttered.
“Has it got red in it?”
“Yeah. It also has the same yellow I use…”
Volt peered back at the entrance again. The red Warframes were all standing still. They were still chanting, but nowhere near as loudly.
Suddenly, everyone’s communication channels lit up. A single message had appeared, written in a dull, red format.
“Not today, Tenno. Not today.”
Immediately, the four Warframes turned around and walked off, all sighing and talking normally. The relay quickly began to empty out, as everyone went back to their normal duties.
“WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?” Excalibur screamed as he tried not to hyperventilate.
“Oh, just a bunch of Tenno waiting for the Tenno Council Member known as Red Text to announce the next update…” Volt shrugged. “Tenno tend to… get a bit… jumpy whenever there’s a major update coming soon…”