After a short hallway, the temple opens into a small room, also oval in shape. The long wall opposite the entrance contains seven doors, and in the center of the chamber, a raised stone platform—an altar, maybe—holds seven keys. Lilly walks right up to it and picks up the first key, intending to try it in the first door.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Imogen exclaims, catching her arm. “That was the room where we needed to be hasty. Let’s not be too hasty here.” This room has far less plant growth in it, as natural light never makes it this far, but there is enough here that it is worth examining. Previous visitors may have left evidence of their route. “We need to look around and see if there’s any indication of which door gets used,” she tells Lilly.
“But there’s a key for each door,” Lilly points out. They have already gotten past the guard, so she does not understand why Imogen is so nervous. This is clearly the door part, and they just have to open them all.
“Remember, Malorn said these places are dangerous and tricky,” Imogen reminds her partner. She gets a shrug in response, but Lilly does set the key back down and then directs her flashlight at the floor in front of the doors.
Lilly shivers a bit as she looks around the room. While she is fond of protoss, this place is just off enough to be unsettling. Some of the artwork on the walls has these weird tentacle creatures that are downright unnerving. “These doors all look the same,” Lilly reports as she rejoins Imogen at the altar. “Those keys do, too.” There were no signs of passage outside the doors, either. “No one’s been here in a long, long time.” We’re going to have to think in here, she grumbles to herself. Puzzles are so damn annoying. “Can we just use our beam thing here? We’re looking for something, aren’t we?”
“That’s a good point,” Imogen says. She hands over the device.
Lilly points the hacking pad at the fanciest vulture bike she has ever had the opportunity to get this close to. The luxury vehicle is all tricked out, and unfortunately, that includes its security system. Lilly’s spotter is keeping an eye out for trouble so that she can concentrate on breaking into the vehicle. “C’mon!” her accomplice urges. “We gotta be on the lookout for feds. And there’s another gang, I heard.” Lilly is working as fast as she can. I got this, I got this, Lilly thinks to herself. This ride is going to be so sweet. And that’s when all the alarms start to go off.
Try as she might, Lilly cannot get clear readings off of Imogen’s new detector. This whole room is swamped with whatever signals this thing pings off of. Maybe we’re just too close, she thinks. Still, it is nice to be actively doing something. She continues walking around the room, pointing the former stun rifle at every little symbol and etching there is.
While Lilly uses the technological detector, Imogen explores the room with her own special senses. She places her hand on one of the crystalline veins running through the stone walls of this room. It remains cold and lifeless. She taps her ignited psi-blade against it, wondering if that will prime the power conduits like her psychometry did at the entrance. Since she again gets no response, Imogen turns her attention to the altar upon which the keys lie. She places her hand upon one of the keys and looks back in time.
Breathing heavily, a Xel’naga dashes into the room. They take a moment to compose themself and then serenely look down at the keys. After a moment’s consideration, they select the fifth key and take it over to the sixth door. They calmly insert it and unlock the door, then enter the room with a quiet sense of purpose. Somewhat closer to the present, a protoss bounds into the chamber and looks around in alarm. Seeing the keys, they grab the first one and immediately try it in the first door. The floor slides open beneath them, and they plummet out of view.
This ancient psionic nexus was in a careful balance before Imogen came in here and began poking around with her hybrid protoss/zerg/terran techniques. Whether she has upset that balance or simply hit upon a sore spot, she will never know. But right now, the temple pushes back against her, lashing out at her mind. Once again, a psionic door has been slammed in Imogen’s face. Her attention snaps suddenly back to the present. The specific memories of what she just saw fade rapidly from her spinning mind, but she retains the knowledge she gained. She picks up the fifth key, but the thought that passes through her head is, That first door has the makings of a good grab-a-scientist trap.
Whatever dangers lie ahead, she will need to face them purely physically, as her psionic powers are sorely dampened now. The Dominion has the equipment to do this sort of thing, but it is targeted and tactical. It can take out protoss technology, but only for a short while, and the power required is significant. Given all she has learned, Imogen is curious what mechanism has just blocked her access to psionics here. Has the trace terrazine been flushed from my system? Or has my connection to wherever I draw psionic energy from been disrupted? Either way, Imogen is confident she will regain access to her abilities in time. For now, though, she is loath to attempt anything further along those lines down here.