The Latenter crew finally start following the trail once more, which leads them to the Trinity Alliance.
T'Lana@anncarise: | After arriving at the Chlasi colony of Haerel, Mischa and Ethen are equipped with the Latenter crew’s newest prototype defense against telepathic control before they transport down to the beam-in site identified by Ethen.
T'Lana@anncarise: | As they materialize on the surface, the distinct pyramid shape of the Chlasi Temple is visible in front of them, but it is not surrounded by a serene plaza for contemplation like the other Temples encountered by Starfleet.
T'Lana@anncarise: | This Temple is located in the heart of a city, but it is surrounded by a significant stretch of parkland, which in turn is surrounded by the urban landscape.
T'Lana@anncarise: | The park, which would likely be a beautiful centrepiece to the city on a normal day, is anything but. Today, it is covered in armed Chlasi, most of them wearing security vests of varying colours, -
T'Lana@anncarise: - much like Gaton armour but significantly less protective. Four such figures immediately turn to the Latenter team.
Mischa@crystyll: mutters, "Remind me again why this was deemed a suitable insertion point..."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "This is not usually what it's like. It is normal to have so many lifesigns in the park, but they are not usually armed..."
T'Lana@anncarise: | He steps in front of the two Starfleet officers, arms raised in a gesture that implies he means no harm, "My name is Ethen. I am here on business by order of the Spymaster."
T'Lana@anncarise: | One of the security personnel scans him and nods, "And these two?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "They are allies from Starfleet. The group the Valley Forge belonged to."
T'Lana@anncarise: | The security Chlasi turns to her partners and discusses something.
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "This is the closest we can arrive at the Temple. The materials of our Temples make it impossible to transport inside. It is supposed to minimize interference."
T'Lana@anncarise: | The Chlasi who spoke earlier turns back around and asks, "What is your business here?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen looks to Mischa, deferring to her judgement.
Mischa@crystyll: "We are conducting an investigation at the behest of your Alliance"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Chlasi Security: "We could use assistance here. You were sent to assist us, weren't you?"
Mischa@crystyll: considers the officer for a moment as she chooses her words, "We have agreed to assist the Alliance, and that assistance has brought us here. What... exactly is the situation here?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Chlasi Security: "I'm not certain. Something happened in the Temple. I've just been told to watch the perimeter and let no one in or out."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Chlasi Security: "If you are here to help, I will take you to the Watch-Captain. He will be able to brief you on what the Security Service knows of the situation so far."
Mischa@crystyll: "That would be fruitful, yes. Thank you"
T'Lana@anncarise: | The security officer nods to the other and leads the team along towards the Temple looming in the distance.
T'Lana@anncarise: | As they walk along, they notice many more armed Chlasi with coloured vests throughout the park. They are stopped a few times, but allowed to pass after a word from their local escort.
T'Lana@anncarise: | What appear to be law enforcement shuttles pass overhead, illuminating the area with searchlights as the sunset transitions into night.
T'Lana@anncarise: | As they enter the parkland around the Temple, they are greeted with the aftermath of a large fight. Sculptures lie collapsed or blackened around them. Various shuttlecraft are parked in whichever -
T'Lana@anncarise: - spots are convenient as they extract wounded security personnel from the field. In one of the gardens, there are rows of dozens of white blankets, covering what is most likely bodies of those -
T'Lana@anncarise: - killed in whatever had transpired.
Mischa@crystyll: takes in all the sights, but doesn't comment for the time being
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "So many dead on a Chlasi world. This has never happened outside of a Forli occupation..."
T'Lana@anncarise: stays quiet as well as she examines their surroundings.
T'Lana@anncarise: | Their security escort leads them to a dark-skinned Chlasi in a gold vest, flanked by two rifle-wielding Chlasi in black and red ones.
T'Lana@anncarise: | Security Chlasi: "Watch-Captain Galendil. This is Ethen of the Secret Service, here to assist with allies from Starfleet."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil: "Thank you for bringing them to me. Return to your post."
T'Lana@anncarise | Security Chlasi: "Yes, Watch-Captain."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil: "We welcome all the assistance we can have."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Meanwhile, the escort heads back to the perimeter.
Mischa@crystyll: looks to the Watch-Captain, "Commander Leveson-Scott, and this is my XO; T'Lana..." glances around, "This is not what I envisaged for my first glimpse of Chlasi society..."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil: "I regret you had to come at a time of such trouble. This is usually a peaceful and pleasant world."
Mischa@crystyll: "Why don't you start at the beginning and tell us all that you know"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil: "It began in the waking hours of the day, when we received a call of assistance from one of the Temple Attendants about a disruption within. We sent two Service members to investigate, -
T'Lana@anncarise: - and they reported signs of struggle before we lost contact with them. We sent a team to locate them, and they too disappeared."
Mischa@crystyll: "Exactly what time was this call received? Ethen, can you correlate with the inquiry call placed to this temple?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | The Watch-Captain passes Ethen a datapad.
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "It happened before our inquiry, but not long before. The initial call to the Security Service was around one of your hours earlier."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil nods, "Back when we still had some contact with the Temple."
Mischa@crystyll: "Well at least the disturbance wasn't a direct result of our investigation. Though I find it a bit too coincidental to think it unrelated"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil: "Shortly after the second team entered, all contact with the Temple ceased. We sent a much larger force to investigate, but only a few escaped, pursued by their own team members."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil: "More backup arrived, and there was a firefight here. Many died, all of them Service members. Some of the new arrivals tried to secure the Temple, but they never came back out."
Mischa@crystyll: nods, "I am not surprised, Watch Captain. Tell me, what is your protocol for handling such occurences at this point?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil: "We've never had such occurances, not on this world, at least. Our primary goal was to eliminate the threat and ensure the safety of the city, but most of our people who enter the Temple -
T'Lana@anncarise: - come out crazed, mindlessly shooting at their own, or they did not come out at all."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil: "We had to fall back onto the contingency plan- contain the threat. Which was when I gave the command that no one was to enter or exit."
Mischa@crystyll: looks to Ethen, "Based on what we know of Chlasi capability at the higher Ascension, how far could a field of influence feasibly span?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "There are things Esoterics know that we don't. I've never seen any Chlasi outright dominate another's mind, before recently, that is. But I have seen Esoterics be able to detect and locate -
T'Lana@anncarise: - a specific individual among a large and fully occupied tower."
Mischa@crystyll: "I appreciate that these are unprecedented circumstances, but tell me. In your honest opinion... are the people outside the temple safe from influence?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "They don't appear to be affected yet, and I see no reason for them to be spared if whoever is responsible is capable of influencing them. But could there be a more subtle influence they're -
T'Lana@anncarise: - not aware of, yes. We don't know how powerful the Esoterics in there are, or how many are working together to achieve this."
Mischa@crystyll: "Understood..." she considers before looking back to Galendil, "Captain, this may be difficult to accept but we believe at least one rogue Esoteric has forceable seized control here with malicious +
Mischa@crystyll: + intent. For the safety of your men and the general populace, I recommend you withdraw to the safest distance at which you can maintain a solid perimeter. Perhaps the park boundary? Furthermore, I +
Mischa@crystyll: + suggest you bring in external reinforcements and rotate your relief personnel at hourly intervals. We have the means to defend ourselves but cannot extend this to the scale needed to protect all of+
Mischa@crystyll: + you yet. That said..." looks to TL: "...Our ship will provide you what support we can. Protection for your command officers as a minimum, and additional security reinforcements as far as we are able.”
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil nods, "I understand. I'll pull my people back. We've already reached out to the Gaton, but they are too occupied by the situation on the Forli border."
T'Lana@anncarise: "I will inform the Latenter to produce as many more of the prototypes as we can at the moment."
T'Lana@anncarise: taps her combadge and relays the information to the Latenter.
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "Perhaps the Security Service of other colonies can spare members to assist you here."
Mischa@crystyll: nods, "Galendil, the first of our reinforcements will report to you for deployment. We must consider that anyone may be compromised, even unknowingly at present. So my security chief will liaise +
Mischa@crystyll: + directly with you on rotation. My team and I will attempt to contain the threat before anyone else gets hurt"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil: "Thank you. There may be many Esoterics inside the Temple who are not at fault here. Many of them are still children..."
Mischa@crystyll: "And we will do every in our power to safeguard them alongside the people out here"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Galendil nods, "I will leave them to you, then. Be careful. The Esoterics are capable of more than just affecting minds."
Mischa@crystyll: gives a curt nod, almost a militaristic dismissal of the Captain as she looks to her team, "Anything further before we head in?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | The Watch-Captain goes off to order his own people to pull back.
T'Lana@anncarise: shakes her head, "I do not believe there are any other precautions we can take before entering. You have already deemed the three of us most suited to resisting control, and attempting to storm the -
T'Lana@anncarise: - Temple by force only ended in disaster for the Chlasi."
Mischa@crystyll: "Ethen, anything more we should know before entering?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "There are many Security Service members likely still inside being controlled by these rogue Esoterics. If the Esoterics are dealt with, I think they will have their free will back."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "We should avoid them if we can and aim to incapacitate if we must fight them."
Mischa@crystyll: "Sounds reasonable. What about the layout itself?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen taps the datapad he got from the Watch-Captain and hands it to Mischa, "That is the schematic for this Temple. Most Temples have a similar layout, and the Attendants typically inhabit the -
T'Lana@anncarise: - outer rooms and the Esoterics live in the inner rooms."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "Many of the larger rooms are libraries, meditation rooms, training rooms and other areas set aside for specific activities."
Mischa@crystyll: "I suppose secluded rear entrance would be too much to ask?" she chuckles
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "There are usually side entrances, actually, for Attendants to come and go without crowding the main one."
T'Lana@anncarise: | He looks over the map and points out a small doorway on the side, "That should be one of those."
Mischa@crystyll: "Then that's our way in. Let's move out"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen leads the way around the gardens to the side of the Temple.
T'Lana@anncarise | As expected, the side door is locked, but Ethen manages to bypass it easily enough using a specialized override tool he brought along. They step inside and find themselves in one of the back -
T'Lana@anncarise: - rooms of the Temple, an area largely used for storage. The lights are out however, giving the large empty space an eerie feel...
Mischa@crystyll clicks on the nightvision of her visor as she looks around
T'Lana@anncarise totally has a visor as well...
T'Lana@anncarise: | She notices movement by some of the boxes...
T'Lana@anncarise: "I hear something. We are not alone."
Mischa@crystyll indicates towards the boxes where she saw movement
T'Lana@anncarise nods and unholsters one of her pistols, moving towards it carefully.
Mischa@crystyll gestures for Ethen to stay behind them as they progress quietly
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen follows along silently, his training and Chlasi grace allowing him to move without making any audible sound or disrupting his environment.
T'Lana@anncarise spots one of the exits and points it out to Mischa before motioning towards the boxes and looking to her, silently asking whether she wants to investigate or move along while they have not yet -
T'Lana@anncarise: - been detected.
Mischa@crystyll signs towards the boxes to investigate, not wanting to leave anything to chance. She would circle around in an opposing direction from TL
T'Lana@anncarise nods in acknowledgement and circles around the other way, quietly working to trap whoever it is in with no way to esacpe.
T'Lana@anncarise | Mischa reaches the figure first, who immediately dashes the other way only to find T'Lana blocking their path.
T'Lana@anncarise | Chlasi: "No, no, please, stay away!"
Mischa@crystyll lowers her weapon a little to appear less threatening, "Relax, we mean you no harm"
T'Lana@anncarise lowers her phaser as well, "We are here to resolve this situation."
T'Lana@anncarise | Chlasi: "You...you're not Chlasi. You're not with them?"
Mischa@crystyll: "Who is 'them'?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Chlasi: "This...group that's been forming among the Esoterics. It was only a while after we all heard the voice, the voice of the Exalted One. There was talk that the Esoterics contacted the other -
T'Lana@anncarise: - Exalted One, the one who disappeared. And they started behaving differently, there was tensions between the Head Esoteric and some of the others and then...tensions just boiled over..."
T'Lana@anncarise: | Chlasi: "People were being thrown all over the halls, Esoteric turning on Esoteric. I don't have any abilities of note so I...I just ran and hid..."
Mischa@crystyll: "It's ok, we're going to make this right. You know that side door across the room there?" she points to where they came in
T'Lana@anncarise | The Chlasi nods nervously.
Mischa@crystyll: "I want you to head out there, nice and gentle-like. There's only us here, so you've nothing to worry about"
T'Lana@anncarise | Chlasi: "It's safe outside?"
Mischa@crystyll: "Once outside, don't be frightened by the security. They're just there to keep people safe. Find someone ask for Watch Captain Galendil"
Mischa@crystyll: "Tell him that we sent you out to safety, and he'll keep you safe from there, ok?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Chlasi nods, "Thank you."
T'Lana@anncarise | She heads off towards the door they came in from.
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "Must be one of the Attendants, caught in the middle of everything that happened."
Mischa@crystyll: "Silly question, but besides the vaguely odd behaviour we witnessed previously, are there any signs that someone is being influenced?"
T'Lana@anncarise: | Ethen: "I could try to touch their mind and I may be able to check, but it may compromise myself."
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "Without taking such risks, we will have to observe for unusual behaviour, Someone who is compromised will likely not react naturally to situations. For example, you may jump at a loud -
T'Lana@anncarise: - noise, but if their own will is surpressed they may react much slower, or not at all."
Mischa@crystyll: "Fair enough. Onwards then"
T'Lana@anncarise | They exit the storage room and proceed deeper into the temple, through now-dark halls...
T'Lana@anncarise: | As they reach one of the larger chambers, they spot four armed Chlasi standing in the middle...
Mischa@crystyll pauses and looks for way around and/or tactical advantage if they need to be taken out
T'Lana@anncarise | There is certainly more cover around the outside of the room than the central area they stand in, which could be used to their advantage if a fight breaks out, but may also be enough to sneak -
T'Lana@anncarise: - past without alerting the guards.
Mischa@crystyll signals accordingly before proceeding to attempt a stealthy bypass
T'Lana@anncarise and Ethen follows suit, quietly sneaking along the outside of the chamber...
T'Lana@anncarise: | They manage to move through the chamber without being detected and make it safely into a different hall, then a staircase...
T'Lana@anncarise: | As they approach the stairs, they hear the shatter of glass above them and a figure is sent flying into the wall before rolling down the staircase.
Mischa@crystyll drops prone and moves to get a closer look at the figure
T'Lana@anncarise checks on the figure and shakes her head, indicating that he is dead.
Mischa@crystyll signals to proceed
T'Lana@anncarise: | The figure appears to be wearing an Esoteric's robes.
T'Lana@anncarise looks up the staircase then back at Mischa to see if she still wishes to proceed up this way.
Mischa@crystyll nods, assuming it is still the most logical route to reach their target
T'Lana@anncarise moves up the stairs quietly, pausing at the first landing and using the second flight of stairs for cover. At the top of the staircase is a female Chlasi in an Esoteric robe, flanked by two -
T'Lana@anncarise: - security members with grey vests. She speaks into a comlink, "The resistance in the Leithor stairway has been dealt with."
Mischa@crystyll quietly observes, waiting to see if the group move off
T'Lana@anncarise | Esoteric: "I will return at once."
T'Lana@anncarise | The Esoteric walks off, but the two security remain, watching over the staircase blankly, standing too still and looking more like statues.
Mischa@crystyll refocuses on looking for a means to quietly dispose of the two
T'Lana@anncarise | There does not look to be anything in the area that could be used to get rid of the security, other than attacking them directly or pushing them off the staircase, which would cause noise.
T'Lana@anncarise: | There is shattered glass on the floor from the window the dead Esoteric was thrown through, but using such a weapon would likely inflict a fatal wound on the security members, though it would be -
T'Lana@anncarise: - silent if done right.
Mischa@crystyll draws her sidearm, deciding a simple stun is the best course in this instance and looks to get into the best position at closest range without attracting attention
T'Lana@anncarise draws one of her pistols in turn and motions to the security member on the left, indicating that she can deal with him while Mischa deals with the other one to ensure they don't have time to -
T'Lana@anncarise: - counterattack or call for backup.
Mischa@crystyll nods and signals a countdown from 3 before firing
T'Lana@anncarise opens fire at the count and they take down both security members simultaneously.
T'Lana@anncarise | The two drop with a slight thud, but no one seems to have noticed, for now...
Mischa@crystyll moves to check and secure the bodies
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "We need to move quickly. They don't know we're here, but the Esoterics will likely be able to sense someone they are controlling go unconscious."
T'Lana@anncarise | Sure enough, as Mischa secures the bodies, she sees from the top of the staircase that the four guards they evaded earlier are proceeding into the staircase to investigate.
Mischa@crystyll quickly looks to see if the downed security are armed
T'Lana@anncarise | The two are indeed armed with Chlasi pistols.
Mischa@crystyll heaves one of the Chlasi to his feet while unholstering his pistol and firing a few times in opposing directions before dropping the body with applied force to ensure a sufficient thud
T'Lana@anncarise | The four raise their weapons in sync as they look up at the weapons fire. They remain in position as the body drops, cautiously observing but not advancing.
Mischa@crystyll quietly crouches and again heaves the body up, firing one more blast and a distinctly upwards trajectory from the ground before again using the poor sod to make another loud 'thud'
T'Lana@anncarise | The guards observe for a few more seconds before they all turn and exit, once again eerily in sync. Two can be seen to hold position outside the staircase while the other two leave the area.
Mischa@crystyll quietly exhales before signalling to move on, keeping low and quiet
T'Lana@anncarise and Ethen moves along, keeping quiet as well. They enter a library room, with a combination of shelves of paper books and access terminals. There are even a few artifacts on displays.
T'Lana@anncarise | Some of the shelves have been pushed over and books are scattered all over. There has definitely been a fight in here, and as they move further in, they begin to see bodies and blood.
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen darts behind one of the still standing shelves first, and T'Lana quickly follows suit.
Mischa@crystyll notes the casualties but mostly to ensure none are enemies laying in wait
T'Lana@anncarise | Mischa soon hears what Ethen and T'Lana must have heard- footsteps.
T'Lana@anncarise | An old, dark-skinned Esoteric walks through the library, searching through the books.
Mischa@crystyll quietly observes for the moment, not wishing to attack unless necessary
T'Lana@anncarise | The Esoteric lingers for some time picking through the books, but doesn't seem to notice the group. He soon moves far enough away for them to sneak by...
Mischa@crystyll signals them to proceed while they have a stealth window
T'Lana@anncarise | They sneak through the library to another exit...and find another, younger Esoteric right in front of them as he turns the corner...
Mischa@crystyll would quickly move to restrain this one from behind with a hand over their mouth before they can call out, if an enemy...
T'Lana@anncarise | The moment Mischa restrains the Esoteric, she feels an invisible force pulling her back!
T'Lana@anncarise raises her pistol but is thrown backwards and has the weapon knocked out of her grip.
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen draws his own weapon but finds himself frozen as the older Esoteric in the midst of the library has noticed the commotion and steps into view...
Mischa@crystyll would glance back to confirm there was not another one behind her before pistol whipping her captive to KO them
T'Lana@anncarise | There does not seem to be anyone behind her. She manages to knock out the Esoteric while he is busy telekinetically throwing T'Lana back.
Mischa@crystyll retrains her phaser on the older Esoteric and fires
T'Lana@anncarise rolls onto a ready position and grabs her pistol, firing on the other Esoteric as well, who has lifted Ethen into the air. He crumples to the ground unconscious.
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen lands ungracefully but quickly gets to his feet and nods a silent thanks to the others.
Mischa@crystyll holds prone and surveys their surroundings for signs of more arrivals
T'Lana@anncarise FX | The area appears clear now.
Mischa@crystyll does a quick scan of the down Esoteric to see if anything more can be learned that may help
T'Lana@anncarise | The Esoteric definitely has a more developed brain than most bipedal species, which may explain his abilities, but there is little else of use from the scans.
Mischa@crystyll signals to proceed
T'Lana@anncarise nods and moves on.
T'Lana@anncarise FX | After quietly proceeding through more dark hallways, they find an Attendant quietly cleaning up bloodstains from the ground.
T'Lana@anncarise | Attendant: "This will not do. This will not do at all..."
Mischa@crystyll again looks to see if they can get around undetected
T'Lana@anncarise | Attendant: "This is no state for the Temple to be in, no state at all..."
T'Lana@anncarise | The Attendant works in the middle of the hall and likely cannot be bypassed unless a detour is taken.
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen has already begun checking the schematics on his datapad.
Mischa@crystyll looks back to him, giving a chance to find an alternate route before settling to take the attendant down
T'Lana@anncarise | Attendant: "No, no, we must be prepared for their arrival. We will be the ones to greet them, we will welcome them to bring order to the Trinity..."
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen points out an alternate route and begins leading the way.
Mischa@crystyll follows cautiously
T'Lana@anncarise | The Attendant's voice trails off behind them, "Their Herald has given us a task...we shall all have a role to serve...even the lowly..."
T'Lana@anncarise | After several turns in different hallways, they come across another large chamber, this one with two Security Service members armed with rifles and an Attendant holding a knife.
T'Lana@anncarise | Like the one before, it should be easy to sneak around the edges without being seen.
Mischa@crystyll signals to proceed around and starts to move
T'Lana@anncarise | They sneak halfway towards the exit on the other side when there is suddenly a bright flash and a loud noise that leaves a ringing in their ears...
Mischa@crystyll recognizes a flashbang and does her best to react and regain control
T'Lana@anncarise does the same, holding her pistol at the ready towards the centre once she does.
T'Lana@anncarise | In the middle of the room, one of the armed guards had already dropped to the ground. Another figure has reached the centre and the second guard opens fire but misses.
Mischa@crystyll tries to focus on the confusion to check her targets before firing
T'Lana@anncarise | The figure wields two batons and knocks away the rifle with one before following up with a heavy blow on the guard's head, knocking him out.
T'Lana@anncarise | The Attendant rushes at the figure with knife in hand, the last seemingly hostile target left.
Mischa@crystyll fires to drop the attendant
T'Lana@anncarise | The Attendant drops and the figure looks in the direction the shot came from, straight at Mischa. It appears to be dressed in an Esoteric's robes, but Mischa doesn't get more than a second's view
T'Lana@anncarise | The moment she blinks, the Esoteric is gone...
T'Lana@anncarise looks to Mischa, perplexed.
Mischa@crystyll scans around and looks to Ethen, hoping for some insight
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "Esoterics specialize in a variety of abilities. They are best known for reading minds and moving objects with their will, but they can also use subtle manipulations to prevent being seen"
T'Lana@anncarise: "Manipulations that don't require forging a mental connection, hence why we are not protected against it..."
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "A trick of the mind, rather than actual- behind you!"
T'Lana@anncarise and Mischa both feel the tap of a baton on their shoulders...
Mischa@crystyll: "Well it appears we are not the only ones seeking to end this. Let us hope then that our mysterious stranger continues to be-..." slowly turns with an unimpressed look, "Well now you're just showing +
Mischa@crystyll: + off..."
Mischa@crystyll is not impressed.
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "Who are you?"
Mischa@crystyll holds a firm gaze on the stranger, "You first"
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "I am an Esoteric of this Temple. You do not belong here. Are you immune to their control?"
Mischa@crystyll: "We are. How have you evaded their influence?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "The same way the other Esoterics who resisted did. Our mind is strong enough to push back against theirs."
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "They need a concentrated effort to subdue another member of the Order. That's how they're holding the Head Esoteric."
Mischa@crystyll: "You have valuable insight into the situation here, good. We should work together to put an end to this"
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "I intend to free the Head Esoteric."
T'Lana@anncarise: "I assume you have a plan."
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "No, I'm just making this up as I go."
Mischa@crystyll: "If you intend to free this person, I take that to mean you know of one who exerts control over them, to be freed from?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "There is a group of them. They gather at the top of the Temple, in the Observatory, where they perform the ritual. They will be vulnerable as they must keep some focus on subduing -
T'Lana@anncarise: - the Head Esoteric, but they're still Esoterics. I was attempting to find assistance."
Mischa@crystyll: "Well congratulations; you found it"
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "We need a diversion. Keep the Security Service under their control occupied and hopefully lure a few of them away from the top to further weaken them."
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "And yes, I actually have a plan for that. Well...an idea."
Mischa@crystyll: "So, you draw them out. We go around them and neutralize these Esoterics"
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "My talents are best for not getting attention. The moment Rivorn catches a glimpse of me, he'll be able to find me."
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "We need to free someone who can help."
Mischa@crystyll: "Alright... what was your idea?"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Stranger smirks, "Follow me."
Mischa@crystyll perks a curious brow and follows
T'Lana@anncarise | He pauses as they near a large courtyard in the centre of the Temple. A number of figures can be seen beyond, including Security Service members, Attendants and an Esoteric.
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "There's too many for me alone. But now that you're here..."
T'Lana@anncarise | Also in the centre are a number of pens, with various sorts of beasts and birds within.
Mischa@crystyll: "We get past this group for an easier way to the observatory?"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Stranger shakes his head and motions at the various control terminals around the courtyard, "We free the beasts."
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "If I get one control, they'll find me and put down the beasts. If we get several at the same time...the beasts will overwhelm them."
T'Lana@anncarise: "Will they not be a threat to us as well?"
Mischa@crystyll: "A suitable means of distraction. But to what end if we are not trying to get through here to reach our target?"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Stranger points to a Chlasi in one of the cages alongside a number of small primates, "Not with the Beastmaster on our side. They couldn't control the Head Esoteric and others at the same -
T'Lana@anncarise: - time, so they locked her up. We free her and the beasts, and she can cause a larger distraction with her friends than any one of us can alone."
Mischa@crystyll nods, "Sounds good to me"
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "Which one of you has the best aim?"
Mischa@crystyll smirks, readying her sidearm, "I've got this"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Stranger nods, "We sneak in and release the beasts. The moment they know we're there, take out the Esoteric with them. And please be careful. I'm wearing the same robe."
Mischa@crystyll: "Believe me, I know what I'm doing" she smiles, "Alright, let's make this quick and clean" she waves ahead to proceed
T'Lana@anncarise | The team sneaks into the courtyard and disperses around the edge towards the control terminals...
Mischa@crystyll remains low and in cover, letting the others take position while setting up her shot
T'Lana@anncarise | The Stranger gives a nod as he sees everyone get into position, then presses his terminal...
T'Lana@anncarise and Ethen activate theirs as well.
T'Lana@anncarise | The doors to several cages swing open and their inhabitants immediately break loose and begin to pounce on the nearest guard or Attendant...
T'Lana@anncarise | The guards quickly notice what is happening and the enemy Esoteric begins to take action as he raises his arms...
Mischa@crystyll takes her time and picks the opportune moment to take her shot when it presents
T'Lana@anncarise | Mischa takes down the Esoteric before he can react and he collapses. The Stranger disappears and reappears around a few of the terminals and more of the cages begin to open!
T'Lana@anncarise and Ethen take shots at the nearest targets as they go from one terminal to the next.
Mischa@crystyll continues to utilize her controlled position to take out as many more threats as she can while the others work
T'Lana@anncarise | It doesn't take long until all the pens are opened, and the combined fire stuns most of the guards and Attendants. The ones who evaded being hit were much less fortunate, as they are taken down -
T'Lana@anncarise: - by the animals, either mauled by some large, fierce predator or swarmed by a number of small critters.
T'Lana@anncarise | The Beastmaster, dressed in a green robe, steps out from the pen she was locked inside of.
Mischa@crystyll lets their mysterious stranger make himself known to the beastmaster before compromising her position
T'Lana@anncarise | The Stranger appears in the centre of the courtyard after dispatching one of the last remaining Security Service members with his batons.
Mischa@crystyll meets back with the group as they all congregate with the beastmaster
T'Lana@anncarise | Beastmaster: "Morchant. Why do I have the feeling you're going to ask for something in return?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Stranger: "Good to see you as well, Meril."
T'Lana@anncarise | The Beastmaster looks to Mischa and T'Lana, "And who might you be?"
Mischa@crystyll: "Friends. And you are right, we freed you because we need your help to put and end to all of this"
T'Lana@anncarise | Beastmaster: "Very well. I am Merilin, Beastmaster of this Temple. Or what is left of it. I will do what I can to safeguard it."
T'Lana@anncarise | Merilin: "What is it you require of me?"
Mischa@crystyll nods, "I am Mischa" she looks to Morchant, "well, it's your plan"
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant: "We need you and your beasts to draw as much attention from us as they can while we take the Observatory and free the Head Esoteric."
T'Lana@anncarise | Merilin: "That will put them at great risk."
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant: "We're all at great risk. This is our best chance."
T'Lana@anncarise | Merilin nods, "Then we will do what we can to keep them from the Observatory."
Mischa@crystyll: "Thank you. We will make every effort to put a swift end to this and ensure nobody else gets hurt"
T'Lana@anncarise | Merilin: "I wish you success."
Mischa@crystyll: "To us all. Now, we should move on before they realise what has happened here"
T'Lana@anncarise | A panther-like creature strides up to the Beastmaster with a long wooden stick in its jaw. She takes it and motions for several of the beasts to follow her while the rest go the other way.
T'Lana@anncarise | Various predators, birds and critters disperse from the courtyard and Morchant begins leading the team away as well...
Mischa@crystyll admires the Beastmasters control as they head off
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant leads the group through the halls and up a lift. Their passage is surprisingly unimpeded, and the growls of wildlife and firing of energy weapons that now echo throughout the Temple -
T'Lana@anncarise: - makes it clear what they owe the clear passage to. As they exit the lift, they proceed down a few narrower halls and smaller staircases, eventually reaching the top of the Temple...
T'Lana@anncarise | The metal around the roof has been retracted, leaving only a layer of transparent aluminum, and it is clear why this room is called the Observatory. Looking up, it offers a wide view of the -
T'Lana@anncarise: - now night sky of the colony. Many of the observation equipment however had been moved or tipped over, and in the very centre was a kneeling Esoteric in red robes.
T'Lana@anncarise | Around him are a circle of nine other Esoterics in robes of other colours, but none of them red.
Mischa@crystyll looks to Morchant for a positive ID on the Head Esoteric
T'Lana@anncarise | They all stand with their hands folded, seemingly deep in concentration.
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant nods and points to all the other Esoterics before whispering, "This is why I couldn't take them alone."
T'Lana@anncarise speaks quietly as well, "We need to down as many of them as we can with our opening shots."
Mischa@crystyll: "Is that your Head?" she indicates the one in the centre
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant: "He is. In his current state they might be able to force him to act against us. If we weaken their hold quickly enough, he may be able to break free and assist us."
Mischa@crystyll: "What do you know about the nature of this ritual they are performing?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant: "Don't harm him. Only stun him if you must, he is more valuable as an ally than unconscious."
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant: "I don't know how to perform it, but I know it shouldn't have any lasting effects and we can disrupt it if we take enough of them down and disrupt the concentration of the rest."
Mischa@crystyll: "Unless he is critical to sustaining the ritual, I see no value in taking him out of the equation." she looks around the room
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant: "He's not in this willingly. They've only gone this far to control him because he wouldn't be manipulated by the voice that spoke to us."
Mischa@crystyll: "I understand. We'll find another way" she continues to survey the area
T'Lana@anncarise | The area is a standard stellar observatory room, with many of the equipment one would expect to find there. No guards appear to be present, and the Esoterics were clearly not expecting someone -
T'Lana@anncarise: - to make it so far into the Temple, or were just so confident in their own abilities that they didn't think they require additional protection.
Mischa@crystyll refocuses on the people and takes a head count
T'Lana@anncarise | There are nine Esoterics standing in a circle, and the Head Esoteric in the very middle. None of them appear aware of the intrusion yet.
Mischa@crystyll: "At best, if we spread out, I believe 2-3 each before they can react is a fair average. Will that be enough to release the Head from their control?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant nods, "If any are still standing, they will likely be distracted when we attack. It should work."
Mischa@crystyll nods back, "Alright. You can stealth around the room to the furthest point. We can split from here for even coverage"
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant moves off to the furthest point while the rest of the group spreads out.
T'Lana@anncarise draws both her pistols this time, preparing to take out the maximum number of targets as quickly as possible.
Mischa@crystyll takes position and draws the long rifle from her back, scoping in for (relative) short range on the nearest targets
T'Lana@anncarise looks to Mischa for the go-ahead.
Mischa@crystyll waits a few moments to give Morchant time to get in position. When she feels its enough she gives a nod to TL and takes aim herself before firing three shots in rapid succession
T'Lana@anncarise opens fire with both her pistols, and Ethen joins in. The combined fire takes down six of the rogue Esoterics, while Morchant sneaks behind and quickly knocks another out with a stroke of a baton.
Mischa@crystyll refocuses her longer range accuracy on covering Morchant
T'Lana@anncarise | Mischa trains her rifle on the Esoteric who has turned her attention to Morchant, but as she fires, she finds her rifle nudged upward just enough for the shot to miss. Morchant takes the chance -
T'Lana@anncarise: - to slam his baton into her arm and she lets out a yell of pain before he is pushed back with a wave of telekinetic force.
T'Lana@anncarise and Ethen fire at the other Esoteric...who suddenly appears to be 3, and then 5 individuals, and the figures they hit have their shots phasing through them.
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "More illusionary tricks. We must find where the real one is..."
T'Lana@anncarise: "I do not believe he is any of the visible ones."
T'Lana@anncarise | Mischa and Ethen's devices begin beeping as they detect a telepathic attack on them...
Mischa@crystyll switches to a rapid fire mode and begins to sweep the seemingly unoccupied areas around the phased targets
T'Lana@anncarise | The area is large, and she doesn't seem to hit anything. Meanwhile, the Esoteric that has pushed Morchant back now lifts a large piece of observatory equipment at T'Lana, forcing her to evade.
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen switches focus to fire on the visible Esoteric, but she knocks his weapon out of his grip telekinetically.
T'Lana@anncarise | The devices beep more rapidly now as the mental assault continues...
Mischa@crystyll continues to focus on whatever viable target comes into her scope
T'Lana@anncarise | Mischa takes out the Esoteric flinging around telepathic powers, but then the beeping stops...and Ethen fires another shot, stunning Morchant.
T'Lana@anncarise | He turns his pistol to T'Lana but she sees it coming and rolls out of the way of the shot. Meanwhile, all the illusions combine into one and Mischa finds herself immobilized...
Mischa@crystyll snaps around and pulls her sidearm to stun Ethen, or at least intends to...
T'Lana@anncarise | Mischa is frozen mid-way while drawing her sidearm, but only for a moment. Then, the rogue Esoteric is lifted up into the air as the red robed figure rises to his feet.
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "You disappoint me, Rivorn. You would turn against all your peers, all you have ever believed in at the behest of someone you do not know?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Rivorn: "She is an Exalted! She is the Herald of our salvation!"
Mischa@crystyll continues looking to secure the area, including Ethen if he still seems a threat in anyway, before turning attention to the dialogue in the centre
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "She is using you! This chaos is precisely what she wanted! Can you not see? There is no order in this!"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen has dropped his weapon and looks disorientated, but not dangerous.
T'Lana@anncarise moves over towards him, her pistols still held cautiously.
T'Lana@anncarise | Rivorn: "There would be order if you had listened! If you had joined us!"
Mischa@crystyll approaches the pair in the centre, weapon staying trained on Rivorn
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "Joined you in what? Allowing some foreign entity to conquer us? Being controlled is not order, it is servitude."
T'Lana@anncarise | Rivorn: "And you condemn servitude now? We have the power of superior beings, and what do we use it for? To give advice? Consolation?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "So this is what it's about? You were always too ambitious, my old friend."
T'Lana@anncarise | Rivorn: "I don't need your lectures."
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "No. What you need is an old-fashioned lesson."
Mischa@crystyll: “It is the unemotional, reserved, calm, detached warrior who wins, not the hothead seeking vengeance and not the ambitious seeker of fortune.”
T'Lana@anncarise | Rivorn: "There are greater powers at play here than you realize. I am only attempting to secure a future for our people, a future I will not let you destroy!"
T'Lana@anncarise | A table flies towards Mischa, but it changes course midway as the Head Esoteric flicks his wrist and it slams into Rivorn instead, knocking him down.
T'Lana@anncarise | He lies on the ground, still breathing but unconscious.
Mischa@crystyll offers a courteous dip of her head, holstering her weapon, "A most timely intervention"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "You are welcome."
Mischa@crystyll looks about the room, "Are you free from their influence, or do any remain in the shadows?"
T'Lana@anncarise | He takes a look around at all the other stunned Esoterics: "I am myself now."
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "Alas, I am afraid the blame here is not his alone. If I had been a better leader, they would never have turned on me for some mysterious figure."
T'Lana@anncarise steps to the middle along with Ethen.
Mischa@crystyll: "I don't believe that for one minute. A far greater force is it play here than any one of you could reasonably have predicted"
Mischa@crystyll: "The question remains of course... what that force is"
T'Lana@anncarise: "Now is not the time to regret any decisions you have made in the past. This figure is still active. Is there any information you have on it?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "She spoke to all of us, at least all the Esoterics in this Temple if not all Temples. It is a connection not unlike that which the Exalted One can form, and having only recently -
T'Lana@anncarise: - heard the Lonesome One speak, some of us believed this voice when she claimed to be the second Chlasi to become Exalted, the Lost One."
Mischa@crystyll: "Claimed to be... you have your doubts this Herald is she then?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "I cannot say. We have no record of why she vanished, and it is possible she ascended beyond mortality and return to us now."
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "But she sought to prepare our people for conquest by some beings she claim to be gods. Exalted she may be, but I will not follow anyone who leads their own people to doom."
Mischa@crystyll: "Either she is something else pretending to be this Lost One, or she is the Lost One who has been corrupted"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "Either is possible, but what we know for certain is that she is a threat. The destruction her influence has wrought in this Temple makes it very clear."
Mischa@crystyll: "I have a suspicion as to who these gods may be, though I don't much like the idea. For now however, we have more immediate concerns"
Mischa@crystyll nods in agreement, "We need to find her and put an end to this before she completely destroys the peace with the Forli"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "There is one way I can find her. Her communication with us forged a connection, a connection which works both ways. I am told by one of Heads of the other Temples that they used -
T'Lana@anncarise: - such a connection to locate the Lonesome One and bring him this 'Sin' he wanted to see."
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "But the Lonesome One was not malicious. If I use such a connection to reach her, I open myself to control by her directly."
Mischa@crystyll: "I am aware of said events. We must first secure this temple and ensure everyone is safe. If such contact is to again be attempted, I shall journey with you"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "Indeed. I will do what I can to restore peace here. If I do end up controlled by her, I am afraid I may not be myself again until she is dealt with."
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "That will take me out of the picture, and with so many dead or turned against me, who will take my place is unclear."
Mischa@crystyll: "Then we will prepare suitable containment measures at your behest" she looks to the others, "Morchant, Ethen, and the Beastmaster are all proven in strength"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "Thank you for the suggestions. And yes, that would be a wise precaution."
Mischa@crystyll: "We will do all we can to assist both in securing the temple and protecting you with ongoing endeavours. I assume a period of rest and preparation lays ahead for you before we attempt this?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "The Forli can be a fickle people. We would do well to resolve this situation as soon as we can. Once the Temple is completely secure and the Esoterics who follow this Herald are -
T'Lana@anncarise: - restrained, I will conduct this ritual."
Mischa@crystyll looks to Ethen, "With what has transpired here, do you believe this will be sufficient for your Spymaster to settle matters on the Forli front?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "It may buy them some time to reveal our internal...unrest, but it will not be enough. While true, you can understand if the Forli may not take our word if we claim an Ascended being is -
T'Lana@anncarise: - responsible for all this."
Mischa@crystyll: "But we can at least confirm to the representatives we first met with that we now know neither the Forli or Gaton were responsible" she nods
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "Indeed. They will no doubt still demand that this rogue faction of Chlasi be brought to justice, however."
Mischa@crystyll: "And we will assure them that we are continuing to aggressively pursue our investigation"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "I will inform the Spymaster and hope this new information may buy us more time."
Mischa@crystyll looks back to the Head, "Is there anything else we can do for you at this time?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "I do not sense many Esoterics still awake in the Temple, and those that are will be strained from those still under their control. It should be safe for less protected forces to -
T'Lana@anncarise: - enter. Your help would be welcome, but you have done much already, and I understand if you have more pressing matters to deal with than sweeping the building and detaining incapacitated Esoterics."
Mischa@crystyll smiles, "Our forces are already assisting local security in quarantining this area. They will remain and assist with the sweep while we report back. I will await news when you are ready to proceed"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "I will alert you as soon as some semblance of order is restored here. Thank you for all your assistance."
Mischa@crystyll dips her head, "Then I shall anticipate our next meeting"
T'Lana@anncarise FX | It has been over a day since the Latenter team saved the High Esoteric of the Haerel Temple from the rogue Esoterics. Ethen had remained with the Security Service members to help secure the -
T'Lana@anncarise - area and update the Chlasi Spymaster.
T'Lana@anncarise | After receiving a call from Ethen that the High Esoteric was ready and they should meet at the Temple, Mischa and T'Lana beams back into the park and enters the Temple, this time through the -
T'Lana@anncarise - main entrance. The Temple is buzzing with activity, from Attendants cleaning up the damage to Security Service members patrolling and standing guard.
T'Lana@anncarise | The two find Ethen waiting for them in the central lobby.
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen approaches them with a datapad in hand, "Welcome back."
Mischa@crystyll smiles, "Thank you Ethen. I trust all is well?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "There is going to be a significant amount of repair and rehabilitation to be done after what had occured here, but all is stable and I can see the Temple recovering in time."
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "There is news from the Spymaster, though."
Mischa@crystyll: "What news?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "On the Forli front, they have managed to convince the Forli to hold their forces and provide us more time to eliminate this rogue element among us. They do want the one responsible -
T'Lana@anncarise: - turned over to them, however. It will be...difficult to capture an Ascended being, and I doubt the Forli possess the means to restrain them. I highly doubt we even do. It may be necessary for one -
T'Lana@anncarise: - of the Esoterics to take the blame. They may have been victims of manipulation themselves, and I'm not comfortable with leaving them at the mercy of the Forli, but just showing them proof that the -
T'Lana@anncarise: - ships were commandeered by this rogue faction may not be enough."
Mischa@crystyll nods and hrms, "Not an unreasonable expectation from them, but not one we can address right now either. First we must contain the threat before we decide what to do with it"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "Yes, and on that front, I have more distressing news from my conversation with the Spymaster. What occurred in this Temple was not an isolated incident."
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "The Temples at Anulinn, Hallion and Wenya had similar revolts. Wenya's Esoterics managed to keep the situation under control and subdue the followers of this Herald."
Mischa@crystyll: "What about Anulinn and Hallion?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "Hallion's Temple was brought under control by a team not unlike ours, led by Runar, the advisor of the Esoteric Order to the High Minister, and several of his companions."
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "Anulinn's Head Esoteric had apparently become swayed by the Herald and its Security Service all but decimated. The reports are unclear, but it seems the Lonesome One, the true Exalted, -
T'Lana@anncarise: - interfered personally. We were unable to locate him, but that Temple is now secure as well."
Mischa@crystyll: "Regrettable to hear of the widespread problem, but not unexpected. All the more reason for us to move with haste"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen nods, "The High Esoteric here is ready to conduct this ritual to track down the Herald."
Mischa@crystyll: "Then let us go find him"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen leads the way as they proceed through the Temple once again. Much of the damage from their previous visit is still there, and they can even still make out some of the bloodstains. All the -
T'Lana@anncarise: - bodies have been removed though, and various people can be seen conducting repairs.
Mischa@crystyll keeps an eye out for the one they found in the initial storage bay
T'Lana@anncarise: "Are you certain you wish to perform this ritual alongside the Esoteric? If it opens him to being controlled, you may be at the same risk."
Mischa@crystyll smiles a little, "I believe I am the... logical choice, T'Lana"
T'Lana@anncarise nods, "I will trust your judgement, Commander."
Mischa@crystyll: "Bottom line T'Lana; you are one of the few with the mental capacity to fight this control. And it needs to be one of us - as the outside investigators - to make this journey"
Mischa@crystyll: "So if we can't risk you..." looks over with a smile, "...then I must go"
T'Lana@anncarise: "I am unsure if this ritual will even work with me. My condition allows me to resist control, but it also resists non-hostile mental connections, as you are aware."
T'Lana@anncarise: "I understand the need for you to partake in the ritual. I only hope we will not be forced to subdue you should you come under foreign influence."
Mischa@crystyll: "Whereas I am quite open to such connections. As I said... the logical choice" she smiles again, resting a hand on TL's shoulder, "Don't worry, I'll be fine. And if I'm not, I have you on the outside+
Mischa@crystyll: + to watch over me"
Mischa@crystyll: "And I trust that you'll be gentle should the need arise..." she chuckles
T'Lana@anncarise: "I am well-versed in the Vulcan neck pinch. It should be more comfortable than the other alternatives."
Mischa@crystyll: "The migraine will indeed be preferable to getting stitched up..."
T'Lana@anncarise | As they walk, Mischa spots the Attendant from the storage bay in one of the libraries organizing books that were strewn all over the room.
Mischa@crystyll smiles, indicating that direction to T'Lana before stepping over there, "Hello again"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Attendant jumps slightly before turning to Mischa, "You're the ones from the storage room, aren't you? I've heard you're responsible for saving everyone here."
Mischa@crystyll: "Many brave souls are responsible, we merely helped where we could. How are you doing now?"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Attendant smiles, "I'm alive, thanks to you. What happened was a big shock, but I'm fortunate to have escaped the mental control many of my fellow Attendants were subject to."
T'Lana@anncarise | Attendant: "I don't understand how the Esoterics could ever do something so cruel. It goes against everything the Temple stands for..."
Mischa@crystyll smiles back, "Best just to focus on restoring your temple to it's full glory. We'll get to the bottom of this"
T'Lana@anncarise | Attendant: "Thank you so much for your help. If you ever come back here, I'm sure we'll have the place fixed up and once more a place of contemplation and learning."
Mischa@crystyll: "I look forward to it, very much" she gives a courteous nod before moving on
T'Lana@anncarise FX | They travel deeper through the temple and into a lift, which takes them to the upper levels.
T'Lana@anncarise | They proceed up the same staircase which brings them back into the Observatory, still somewhat of a mess but at least all the instruments were picked up off the floor and the tables and chairs -
T'Lana@anncarise - no longer overturned. The High Esoteric is once again in the centre, speaking with Morchant and the Beastmaster Merilin.
T'Lana@anncarise | He turns to the three as they arrive, "Ah, I see you've brought our visitors, Ethen."
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "Thank you once again for your role in liberating this Temple," he looks at Mischa and T'Lana, "One of you said you wish to join me in the ritual?"
Mischa@crystyll nods, "I will do so"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric nods as well and looks to the Beastmaster, "Merilin, as we discussed, you will be in charge of Temple affairs should I not be myself after the ritual."
T'Lana@anncarise | Merilin: "I will do my best to restore the Temple if you are unable to do so."
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "And you, Morchant. I trust you will be able to incapacitate me should I turn on our friends here?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant nods, "I'll do what I must."
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric looks back to Mischa, "You are aware of the risks of this ritual?"
Mischa@crystyll: "I assume I am equally susceptible to external influence as you will be. Worst case that it kills me?"
Mischa@crystyll asks very matter-of-factly
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "I doubt it will kill you, but it may permit this Herald to forcibly seize control. She may turn your body on yourself, but I find it far more likely she will try to kill -
T'Lana@anncarise: - everyone else here. They will be prepared to restrain us, but it may be a difficult ordeal for you, one that will only be ended once the Herald is stopped."
Mischa@crystyll: "I am prepared"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric nods, "Then we are ready."
T'Lana@anncarise | He extends both his hands towards Mischa, "Give me your hands."
Mischa@crystyll steps forward and extends her hands to meet his as guided
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "Close your eyes, and purge all thought from your mind."
Mischa@crystyll does so with suprising resolve and aptitude
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "Impressive. A smoother transition than I expected with one not trained in our ways. You may open your eyes."
Mischa@crystyll 's eyes slowly flicker open
T'Lana@anncarise | Mischa finds herself in the same type of place as Sin- a vast, space-like realm with glows in the distance connected by lines. However, the glows around them don't appear to be glows so much as -
T'Lana@anncarise: - masses of something dark and pulsating, almost like an artistic representation of cancerous cells. These points are connected by dark tendrils which look like strange, semi-organic threads.
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric is in front of her, but everyone else is nowhere to be seen.
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "What happened here..."
Mischa@crystyll looks around, "I take it this is not the expected appearance here. What is this place?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "There are many theories, but all we know for certain is that it is a plane of the universe not visible to the naked eye, or any scientific instruments we have devised."
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "It is the plane upon which our mental connections are forged. But something is wrong about this one."
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "We should do this quickly."
Mischa@crystyll continues to study the environment, "These... tendrils. They do not feel like they belong here" she nods, "And stay away from this... infestation"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric points ahead to one of the dark masses, "Our destination...is one of them."
Mischa@crystyll nods and follows quietly, taking in the surreal experience
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric leads on, walking on thin white walkways that seem like lines on a starchart.
T'Lana@anncarise | As they walk, Mischa notices movement below- images of hundreds, maybe even thousands of beings, moving and toiling away. They seem to be working in a quarry of some description, and at first -
T'Lana@anncarise: - the figures look to be slaves, but they move more like mindless drones. There is no sign of implants on them, but their behaviour is certainly comparable to that of Borg.
Mischa@crystyll watches the image, "What is this we are seeing, a vision of some kind?"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric nods, "Something being viewed by the one who forged this connection. Perhaps events happening far away, or memories from long ago. It is impossible to tell."
T'Lana@anncarise | The image slowly fades beneath them as they move on.
Mischa@crystyll glances around, "Time is not linear here... This could also be a vision of things to come..."
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "Possible, especially with this Herald's desire for our submission to some foreign entities."
T'Lana@anncarise | Mischa notices a shape pass somewhere above her and in the distance.
Mischa@crystyll looks up and around to try and discern what it is
T'Lana@anncarise | Many more figures come into view, and from the shapes of some, they seem to be ships. The designs vary radically however, and there is no way they could be created by the same civilization, or -
T'Lana@anncarise: - even a collection of civilizations as large as the Federation. The number of the ships grows until it is all they can see when looking up, and then the image fades and vanishes.
Mischa@crystyll: "This Herald has some strange dreams..."
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "Not something a Chlasi ever should..."
T'Lana@anncarise | They step on a pathway, but the Head Esoteric pauses as they both see the path is halfway consumed by the strange tendrils.
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "This is the connection we must follow. Stay close to me."
T'Lana@anncarise | He steps to the very edge of the tendrils and stretches out a hand...
Mischa@crystyll nods, paying extra care to her footing as they proceed. She would try to pull him back before the tendril grabs him if she can
T'Lana@anncarise | The tendrils...slowly recede as he approaches, and the white path returns. He takes a step forward, slowly, and steps on the path where the tendril was before without being harmed, though it is -
T'Lana@anncarise: - clear this is taking a significant toll on him.
Mischa@crystyll: "You still hold my hands back in our plane. Let me help you, I can bolster your strength"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric gives a silent, strained nod.
Mischa@crystyll closes her eyes briefly as she focuses, drawing on all the inner strength she can find. A visible purple hue would encompasse the pair as they continue in this realm
T'Lana@anncarise | As they continue forward, the tendrils wrap back around the paths they leave behind them, presenting only a small stretch of glowing white path that slowly expands in front of them but is -
T'Lana@anncarise - consumed behind them as it extends. This path-clearing appears to only be temporary.
T'Lana@anncarise | After a difficult and precarious advance forwards, they reach the dark mass the Head Esoteric pointed to earlier.
T'Lana@anncarise | Head Esoteric: "We will need all our power to break in and see where this Herald is."
Mischa@crystyll looks up, having been focused on their path, "What's mine is yours"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric raises his arms and the white glow begins to slowly pull apart the dark mass...
T'Lana@anncarise | A small glowing white crack begins appearing in the darkness, but it isn't large enough to enter.
Mischa@crystyll mirrors his movement and refocuses herself to bolster his strength, the purple hue growing in intensity
T'Lana@anncarise | The crack grows wider and wider until glowing light pours out from it, but the tendrils creep closer and closer behind them...
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric pushes Mischa forward in the direction of the widening crack as one of the tendrils grabs on to his leg, "Go! Find her!"
Mischa@crystyll resists and tries to help him
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric shakes his head, "Do not tarry on my behalf! Stop her and you will be able to free me!"
Mischa@crystyll calms herself and nods, stepping back through the opening, "I will release you from her grasp"
T'Lana@anncarise | She is blinded by the light for a moment as she steps through the opening. Then, her vision clears and she seems to be looking out the window of a ship. There are two other ships in her sight, -
T'Lana@anncarise - visibly of Gaton design. There is a glowing red star in the distance, which is surrounded by a ring of gases, a recognizable sign of a planetary nebula formed by a dying star.
T'Lana@anncarise | The vision fades in a few moments, and when Mischa blinks she finds the Observatory coming into view around her again...
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric is still in front of her, holding her hands, his eyes closed.
Mischa@crystyll 's eyes flicker open and quickly focus on the Head Esoteric. She pulls her hands free and steps back sharply, holding a fixed gaze on him
Mischa@crystyll: "He has been compromised. He... sacrificed himself so that I could reach our goal"
T'Lana@anncarise | The Head Esoteric suddenly opens his eyes and thrusts his palm outwards, pushing Mischa back with telekinetic force. Before anyone else can react, Morchant appears behind him and presses a -
T'Lana@anncarise: - baton to his back before pressing a button on its handle. Slight electrical sparks can be seen where the weapon touches the old Esoteric before he collapses.
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant: "Looks like we'll have to restrain him after all..."
T'Lana@anncarise rushes over to Mischa, "Are you alright, Commander?"
Mischa@crystyll quickly gets back to her feet and rushes to his side, "It was a strain on us both, but I will be fine. What of him?" she looks to the others
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant: "If he is compromised, we'll have to keep him restrained until you deal with the source, and hope he will continue to be himself afterward."
Mischa@crystyll: "I assume that means keeping him unconscious?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Morchant nods, "That's the safest way."
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "Did you manage to obtain any insight into this Herald's location?"
Mischa@crystyll: "I saw where she is" she nods, "But I am unfamiliar with the place... a red star surrounded by a ring of gases, very distinctive"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen nods and taps his datapad, stepping over to show Mischa the image on it.
T'Lana@anncarise FX | https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bb/Necklace_Nebula.jpg
Mischa@crystyll nods as she views it, "That could be it, yes. The perspective is difficult to determine, but... it could be"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "That is the Nurtar nebula, a dying star in neutral space just beyond the Demilitarized Zone. The gases of the nebula and high temperate of the star makes it difficult to scan from afar."
T'Lana@anncarise: "An optimal place to hide stolen starships."
Mischa@crystyll: "Fortunately, that is our speciality. We should make haste to this nebula"
T'Lana@anncarise | Ethen: "I will come with you." He looks to Merilin, "You have everything under control here?"
T'Lana@anncarise | Merilin nods, "I will not let the Esoterics who turned on us walk freely for the time being, so we should be safe."
Mischa@crystyll: "We will resolve this as expediently as we can" she gives a final nod to the group, turning to leave with a glance to TL. She stumbles a little as she walks
T'Lana@anncarise follows along, "You are sure you are unaffected?"
Mischa@crystyll: "Just... fatigued. The experience required more of me than we anticipated. My strength will recover long before we reach this nebula, fear not"
T'Lana@anncarise nods, "I suspect we will require it there..."
T'Lana@anncarise FX | After surmising that the Herald was most likely in the Nurtar planetary nebula, the Latenter sets out to find the stolen ships...
T'Lana@anncarise | While they travel at warp, Mischa's doorbell rings.
Mischa@crystyll: "Come in T'Lana..."
Mischa@crystyll sounds a little lazier than usual in that
T'Lana@anncarise steps inside, "Commander. You seem exhausted."
Mischa@crystyll: "Nothing a little rest can't resolve. What is our status?"
T'Lana@anncarise: "We are fifteen minutes away from reaching optimal sensor range of the nebula. Will you be well enough to assume command then?"
Mischa@crystyll chuckles a little as she sits up, gesturing for TL to take a seat, "I don't recall relinquishing it"
T'Lana@anncarise takes a seat, "I am merely referring to how I am overseeing the bridge at the moment. I hope you will be able to do so once we arrive."
Mischa@crystyll: "You can count in, that's a promise"
T'Lana@anncarise nods, "This ritual took quite a toll, didn't it?"
Mischa@crystyll: "The Esoteric was having difficulty leading us through the corruption. I had to make him draw on my own strength to bolster his own in order to achieve our goal"
Mischa@crystyll turns slightly to face TL with a sparkle in her eye, "Honestly, you should have seen it... how such a place even exists is a wonder"
T'Lana@anncarise: "I must admit I am quite curious as to what it was like. I may never be able to experience such a thing, after all."
Mischa@crystyll: "Never say never. If nothing else I should like to reproduce it in the holodeck. Your insights into the visions I saw in there would be most valuable when this is all behind us"
T'Lana@anncarise nods, "That will certainly be interesting to explore."
Mischa@crystyll: "This experience also bolsters my suspicion about the force truly behind all of this"
T'Lana@anncarise: "I do not believe I have heard your theories yet. When I shared my speculations, we had significantly less information to work with."
T'Lana@anncarise: "These visions you speak of may provide you a clearer view on the situation than anyone else at the moment. Anyone conscious, that is."
Mischa@crystyll: "Indeed. However, after what I saw I am almost positive that the Herald is just another controlled puppet as the Esoterics at the temple were"
Mischa@crystyll: "And that the 'old gods' we heard reference to are Captain Keelah's 'Primeval Horde'.."
T'Lana@anncarise nods, "That is possible, and very troubling."
Mischa@crystyll nods, "Given that the Valley Forge is now several sectors ahead of us and yet to encounter this threat. But if I'm right, they are reaching out and touching the minds of these Ascended Chlasi +
Mischa@crystyll: + and basically enslaving them before they even reach this part of space"
T'Lana@anncarise: "It would explain why this being calls herself a 'Herald,' instead of claiming to directly be a deity."
Mischa@crystyll: "Yes. I believe the Horde is still too far away to influence people en masse. But the realm these Esoterics go to - where I went - if it was their influence I saw infecting it, they would have only +
Mischa@crystyll: + had to touch this Lost One in order to exert their influence on her. She then did the rest of her own ability"