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  • 📅 May 2023 is YE 45.4 in the RP.

Aliset's meeting with a goddess


Convention Veteran
RP Date
YE 44.9
RP Location
Akina System
As Aliset probed, she noticed that there was a single thread of thought like a fishing line that extended out into the far distance. Suddenly, there was the sense of their being being pulled on. Then there was a sudden clarity as she realized she wasn’t at a funeral anymore. She was in the dojo of the Koun. Sitting on the other end was Nalini, in a standard uniform for practicing martial arts. She calmly sipped tea. Here, Nalini’s mental signature was the same as any other Separa’Shan. “Power without discipline is the most dangerous thing one can possess.” She observed.

"Agreed. I've been getting training in basic defense. Clearly, I'm still learning." Looking down at herself, Aliset noticed the change of clothes, the lightness. The Koun's dojo pulled from her own memory, alongside the leggings and sport bra Aliset usually wore despite Yamataian tradition.

Gently, Ali's mind felt out the edges of Nalini's mental signature, noting observations, checking dimension, constructing something in her mind's eye. "I could have sworn you didn't even feel my sounding probe. You're not normal, Are you?"

Here, Nalini’s mind didn’t feel too unusual despite being inside a mindscape where hiding one’s true abilities was harder not easier. “There are very few telepaths who can see past my disguise to see my connection to my true body and probe my defenses beyond the surface I choose to present. My name is not just Nalini, I am not only a cook on the Resurgence. I am also called Naga’Shun.” As Aliset prodded, she started to realize that the Nalini in front of her wasn’t actually the real Nalini. She didn’t know what a goddess would feel like telepathically, but normal and defenseless like this wasn’t it.

"So you claim. There are very few telepaths who can drag someone into their own mind. So with a few things from my memory…" Aliset's power bounced off the mind scape, trying to wrest control of it and apply her own geometry to the space, only to feel it spark and fizz against what appeared to be her own imaginings. "We faren't in my mind… Which means that version of you isn't the real one. Isn't it rude to wear a mask to a friendly talk?"

The surroundings reacted in the same way that reality would if she had tried to change it with her mind. “In judo, one redirects the force applied. Your probe was enough for me to redirect you into this space. You are free to leave whenever you wish, long as you know how to. When it comes to your mind, defense is almost always more powerful than offense. It’s almost impossible to influence someone without a degree of their consent.” Nalini explained while considering Aliset.
“I am a god of masks, a god of showing you what you need, not what I really am. Yet.. yet I think you may need this.” Nagashun said and she began to shift and morph. The young woman becoming older, then ancient, then something beyond that. Something very old and powerful indeed. Then they were in a cave, standing next to an ancient machine the size of a starship. There was a huge rent in it’s side. Inside was a mind that was powerful, even with the wound. It’s technology beyond Yamatai’s like Yamatai’s was beyond primates. Yet there was a sense that the great machine was still failing, dying slowly, that every action had a cost that must be weighed.

"You're pre Skydas war, aren't you? You mentioned If'ni's name as though it was familiar." Aliset's emotions seemed to hide behind her skin as she slipped into a more diplomatic, enticing expression. She knew her place was on the bridge. If she were to find a way out, that would be where it was, in the starmaps. "So you crash landed on what's now called Essia. Probably created the Separa. There's very little way for a species to evolve the way they did, after all."

She didn't approach the wreck, not at first. In stead choosing to observe, log, keep building the trap in her mind's eye. Something deep within her was telling her that this was a trap, a way to rip her away from Sacre and Marigold, leave them without her protection. Shaking off the thought, she continued. "So what would make you bring me here?"

“Three things: my concern about Sacre, to teach you how to defend yourself, and my concern about your dark passenger.” Nagashun explained.

"Glad we agree on… Wait, what? Passenger?" The poker face shattered as Aliset turned, looking around, then at herself as the creature burrowed deeper into her subconscious. "What passenger? Did I get a parasite or something?"

“Or something. There are many entities who would wish to possess the power you wield Aliset. One of them is inside you, will try to twist and corrupt you and merge your will and it’s. I cannot separate you, but I can give you tools you can use to fight it. You must be strong for what is to come, and this fight will make you stronger… or a prisoner in your own mind, corrupted and evil.” Nagashun explained.

Eyes narrowed as she let herself turn back to the wreck, looking for something she could focus on, an intact exterior camera or sensor module that could see her. The infinite lazarus trap in her focus cracked and collapsed as she took a breath, turning that focus inwards, feeling for anything unusual, alien. Anything that simply wasn’t supposed to be there. “So I assume you have experience with these things. The last time the Khurati knew of something like this, it was in the form of the Scourge. And we annihilated them. To the last. I’m sure this parasite, when I find it, will just be another thing trapped in a maze to be pulled apart by its own imagination, that I can learn from it. But I will never be leashed again.”

Finally, she approached the ancient machine, placing a hand on the hull. “So how did it get in, with what you know?”

The hull has a sense of a mind inside, like touching burial steel, but also different as if the effect was similar but how it was accomplished was very different. “Many things, you have many insecurities, your lost ships, your lost husbands, fear about what will happen to Sacre because of your love. Resentment at being the only one of your species in the army for so long. There are more, you have many paths along which you can be attacked. I haven’t encountered this kind before but there are many similar things in the dark recesses of the multiverse.”

For all she knew, that feeling could be just another illusion, a mimicry of cold metal by a living being. Or the ship could have been truly alive such as her own homes had been before she joined Yamatai. Aliset considered that revelation, offering bait to the creature in her thoughts to draw it out, rip it away, and throw it into one of her nice, neat little cages to be torn apart and examined. “You’re not wrong. It’s difficult to correct issues when the evidence just keeps mounting. And I know I don’t handle helpless fear well. Even for someone raised on Shurista.”

“Fear comes to all, there are many things I fear. The future of the Separa’shan, death, even small things like burning something in the oven. The question is not if we have fear, but how we deal with it. We do not have much time, there are three things I will give you. First, I will show you how to build the virtual machine you are in. It is in many ways an extension of what you already have. Second, I will tell you the secret to the defense of your mind. Third will be a secret from you, for the time of your greatest need.” Nagashun responded.

Furrowing her brows, Aliset pulled her hand away from the hull, her mind finally finding something in the depths of her own subconscious as she latched onto it, feeling it break up into tendrils and return to its depths. “Alright. Let’s get started. Maybe next time we can discuss this over galley duty. Rather than tossing me in a modified Lazarus trap at a funeral. Marigold must be worried.”

“It has been only seconds since our conversation began. I have much more… hardware available to me than you have inside your brain. However, it is taxing. Create your lazarus box, instead of focusing on what springs from their mind, focus on maintaining the world around it as it was. Your goal is to match the environment to the real world, misdirecting them as to the true nature of the trap.” Naga’shun explained.

Taking a breath, Aliset’s little box unfolded in her palm, the pattern well known to her, the sleep and dream commands to trigger the trap, followed by its injection into the victim’s own mind, a hostility filter for their solutions. Disassembling the concept Nagashun was teaching her on the other, she could see the similarities. Both were made on the framework of a simple mind space, not designed to pull an opponent into the user’s mind, but to be injected into the victim’s. There was no trigger for the new concept, though.

“Interesting. More modular than mine. I’ve been using Lazarus boxes for my meditation for some time. It stands to reason that the solution would be easy for me. I can imagine it would be difficult to tell. That was my mistake. I incorrectly identified the nature of our mindspace. You used the Koun’s dojo from my memories to make me mistake the location, and who was in control of it. I can use this.”

“One inside of it they will eventually tell based off of things not being perfect. It will depend on your ability to read their memories, which may not always be perfect. You can supplement this with your own knowledge. Your form of this technique will eventually degrade into being a lazarus box when you grow tired or stressed. When they do realize the trap, if it is in their mind they may dismiss the illusion. If they are in your mind, you are the one maintaining it and so they can not just dismiss it. However, they may break free at any time by just no longer communicating with your mind. It is exceedingly useful for gathering information about how they may behave in certain situations.” Naga’Shun explained.

“It’s a clever design. Convergent development, looks like. When I was taught the Lazarus box, it was by exposure. My own panic and search for a solution, my own attempts to dismiss it, were used by it to drive me deeper into the illusion. I’ll need to run some simulations and develop the concept. But I like it. That’s another tool in my arsenal.” Closing her hands, she casually dismissed the illusions of the various trap structures, looking back up to the nearest camera. “I’ll do that in my nightly meditations. Perhaps when I convince Sacre to visit, I can demonstrate for you.”

“We will see. Sacre has cut herself off from her pain by cutting herself off from her culture and her history. There are many who cut themselves off from me, especially now in this age where faith is rare. It is how some grow, but Sacre believes that cutting herself off from who she is protects her. She has never set tail on Essia since she left.” Nagashun explained.

“I never said she was smart about her mental health. I’m not, either.” Giving a shrug, Aliset let herself breathe again. “All I can do is be honest with her and hope she sees the error in that. I can’t get ahold of the passenger. It keeps breaking up and going deeper every time I try to filter it out.”

“It will not be an enemy defeated today. Or tomorrow, the struggle will be long, but you are capable of succeeding if you grow and understand who you truly are as a person. That is the great secret of mental defense, when you know who you are. What you care about, what you hate, how you are flawed and want to change. Faith, holding on what you know to be true regardless of how your emotions assault you. Hope, that things can and will change for the better if we act for it. Love, what connects us to other people and things. Those three are bedrock, but the greatest of these is Love.”

That last sentence caused Aliset to give a snort. “That last pillar’s easier said than done. I know what I am to my crew. I know others’ ideas of me. But end of the day,...” She let her voice trail off, looking away as she tried to continue a thought that just wasn’t there.

You know you’re just a diversity hire, on a lethally cold starship, a traitor to your species and culture, occupying a seat that should be that of a Captain, with your own experience as a postage captain discarded for some useless Royal’s authority. The thoughts bit at the back of her mind, poking at the growing resentment and shame for her actions over the last few years. Maybe you wouldn’t have had to forge Nicol down, or comfort Irene when her brother went missing. Nicol would still be alive. Levente would have retired to Thor’s Crater. It’s always been you. The biggest threat to those you love.

She shook her head, slapping back at those thoughts by grabbing onto their source and throwing it into her lazarus box before it had time to break up like trying to grab a shadow. Though she knew that this concept wouldn’t translate well, she knew that the Senti words for crew and family were the same, and that indistinction had often caused issues. “At the end of the day, Nagashun, I know that I will do anything for my ship, my family, and my community. In that order. Because I am nothing but one woman without them. With Sacre, Nix, Alastair, and Sayako looking out for me, I can do anything.”

“Then you are ready for the struggle ahead of you. You will keep the skills and knowledge you have gained today, but the memory will be hidden until the time is right. I’m not ready for knowledge of my true existence to be out there.”

“Understandable. Next time you try dragging me into an illusion, I’ll take it as a challenge.”