Warning: This article contains massive spoilers for Fortuna, Warfame's newest update.
Despite having cute animals to capture and rad hoverboards to ride around on, Warframe's Fortuna expansion is a bleak and somber one. The frozen, open-world wasteland of Orb Vallis is an inhospitable place full of giant mecha-spiders and evil Corpus soldiers while, below the surface, the Solaris people of the Fortuna colony are trapped in a vicious cycle of debt from which there is no escape. Though Developer Digital Extremes teased that there was more to this story, this weekend a few players uncovered an unsettling revelation that has everyone on the Warframe subreddit feeling a little rattled. Turns out, the Solaris people have something to hide.
Finding the right head space
When Fortuna launched on November 8, many players were already well acquainted with the plight of the Solaris people thanks to an ARG being played on a special Discord server. There, a mysterious figure named The Business was communicating with players, asking them to complete certain missions both in and out of the game and dispensing coded documents that, when decrypted, detailed the lore and backstory of Fortuna and the Solaris.
Interned on Venus, these once-human folk were driven into absolute poverty by Nef Anyo, an aristocrat of a merchant cult of plutocrats called the Corpus. Each and every member of Solaris owes Nef Anyo a debt they can never hope to repay, so instead they're forced to work in the dangerous terraforming constructs scattered around Orb Vallis. This isn't just normal labor, though, and the job requires special robotic 'rigs' that replace the Solaris' human body parts. In fact, most every member of Solaris has a few robotic limbs and a robotic head to match. It's a bizarre, sobering sight when you first drop into Fortuna and see these half-human, half-robot slaves working away.
Of course, the robotic augments the Solaris need to work also come at a price, and if they cause trouble or cannot do their jobs, these rigs are forcefully repossessed. This process is tragically captured in the Vox Solaris quest players complete when first arriving in Fortuna. During this quest, players meet Thursby, a colonist who is drowning in debt he inherited from his parents after they died. Thursby has the player steal Corpus resource caches to help him pay off that debt, but makes a fatal judgement call when he threatens the Corpus through an unsecured communication signal. Wanting revenge, Nef Anyo sends his repo squads to exact punishment. In the end, Thursby has his legs and arms repossessed by the Corpus.
But losing a leg or an arm isn't actually the worst that can happen. Clever players managed to decode documents during the Fortuna ARG that referenced "brain shelving." Though you can guess what this means, The Business gives a pretty bleak idea in one dialogue snippet: "Your brain will stay there until your friends or family can clear away your initial debt. Then the Taxmen will graciously release what’s left of you. And when—and only when—your loved ones can afford to buy a new rig to house your brain, you’ll return to a functional, conscious life."
As players explore Fortuna and increase their standing with its various factions, they're exposed to several more stories just like this one. It paints a bleak picture of a people who have been forced to trade their humanity away just to continue existing in a system built to keep them enslaved. It's disheartening, so naturally players want to do whatever they can to help.
Warning: Okay, seriously, major Fortuna spoilers start here.
But it also seemed like there was something the Solaris were hiding, too. Players are quickly indoctrinated into their underground resistance movement, Solaris United, but they have to first earn the trust of its leaders before they can advance through the ranks. By performing daily quests and turning in materials, players can slowly increase their standing with the Solaris United. It's a process that took the most hardcore players until now just to reach the maximum possible rank and be considered an inner circle member.
A Redditor by the username of '6ArtemisFowl9' was one of the first to max out their reputation with Solaris United, and what they discovered caught the community by complete surprise. Upon reaching the rank of Old Mate, it seems the denizens of Fortuna were willing to show 6ArtemisFowl9 their true face—and, yes, I mean that literally.
You can see what happens when you reach the rank of Old Mate in the video below.
When talking with any of the main characters on Fortuna it's easy to see their mechanical-looking torsos as nothing more than another robotic augment, but each one is actually a cavity that protects a very real and very human head. When 6ArtemisFowl9 unlocked the Old Mate rank, everyone in Fortuna decided they trusted him enough to open up their chest cavities. Yup, each Solaris is literally walking around with their actual head tucked inside of their chest.
"Yeah so quick question, WHAT THE FUCK," wrote 'jdawg0507' over on the Warframe subreddit where Artemis shared their findings. It's a sentiment echoed by many in that thread. Since this revelation was uncovered two days ago, the community has been struggling to understand why the Solaris keep their human heads encased within their own bodies. But there just isn't a lot of concrete information to go on until Digital Extremes releases an update that continues the story.
But more than anything, most people are just reacting with disgust—and it makes sense. While I'm still weeks away from reaching Old Mate rank with my character, seeing the videos of other Old Mate ranked players reaching that rank is a little disturbing. It's just so unexpected and bizarre.
What is clear is that players misunderstood how the Solaris were augmenting their bodies. It was initially assumed that the Solaris owned part of their body, but this plot twist suggests that the only thing a Solaris owns is their head. Everything else can be repossessed by the Corpus, which would further explain the existential horror of being brain shelved—having your head stored in some closet for all eternity like some Futurama character.
What's even more amusing, though, is that players have realized clues to this disturbing plot twist were sitting in plain sight this whole time. As redditor 'Pilot_Solaris' points out, to hide her identity as the leader of Solaris United Eudico uses an alter ego called Vox Solaris to mock Nef Anyo. When Vox Solaris speaks, the dialogue pop-up shows a view of his face, which is clearly surrounded by the Eudico's chest rig. Still, that just raises even more questions since Eudico's actual face is that of a woman's. How does she change the appearance the head in her chest?
For weeks, I've been humming Fortuna's incredibly catchy theme song, but I never realized that lyrics like "hide the heart of who we are" were meant to be taken this literally. Fortuna is only two weeks old, but it looks like Digital Extremes has some pretty weird tricks up its sleeve.