0500 hours Earth Standard Time came earlier when Lt. Brandon work the team up for their visit to the Mars Temple, the original site of the beacon that it is believed summoned the Orb to Earth. Having had a light breakfast, the team checks their vaccsuits and equipment, and climb into a 6-wheeled ATV and headed out along the paved blacktop road to Station Theta.
Station Theta is a collection of buildings deep within a protective crevasse in the Eden foothills. It was founded over 100 years ago and is the site of humanity’s first permanent residence on Mars. Now, it serves as home to the large congregation for the Order of Illuminated Mars and the caretakers of the Mars Temple.
After parking their vehicle, they suited up and met Brother Victor Gontolia inside the large town hall structure. He seem a little uncomfortable, but pleased to see the people that will most likely become the first to meet face-to-face the Benefactors of the New Humanity.
Brother Victor asked if he could impose upon them for a short moment, as many of congregation wishes to meet them, and if they might, take some offerings from the congregation to the Benefactors. Captain Bell accepted, and the town hall filled with the faithful.
Directeur Lieu, eager to learn of the people here, talked with them with her assistant Elizabeth recorded the conversations. After two hours, the ATV was packed up with the offerings, and the team started the hour long hike up to the temple.
The main triangular doors stood 6 metres in height, and the great hall beyond was awesome in its display, despite the scaffolding around the Columns of Knowledge. Brother Victor said that there was a recent seismic disturbance, and they have closed the temple for a short time while repairs are done, also taking the opportunity to clean the Columns, and they strange alien script that covers them.
Some of the group became suspicious with this statement, and given the attack in the hangar, perhaps they had good reason.
Just to the right of the main doors was a memorial plaque showing the four Mars explorers that found the temple back in 2014. It pays tribute to their sacrifice, for when the EMP burst was expelled upon entering the chamber, their own electrical devices were destroyed and they perished.
While they were being shown the Silent Chamber (used for meditation upon all that the Benefactors gave humankind), Lt. Brandon received a message that Captain Bell, Lt. Garrot and Sgt. Carter were to check in with Odyssey Control. Brother Victor offered to shown them to the Temple’s communication room. Bell told the others to stay, and followed the Brother.
Gizmo took the opportunity of freedom to wander a bit.
Apparently the temple was built into the remains of a long dead volcano, and some array, perhaps from the original EMP burst, used the natural crater as a focusing dish. The later human occupation made use of the alien tech for their own devices, and Brother Victor said that it is probably the most powerful comm system on Mars, able to reach Jupiter with ease, to talk or call for… help.
When Captain Bell reached Odyssey Control, he was informed that no such request was sent out, however Lt. Harvard did make a request to know when her shuttle would be returned. At that moment, Lt. Brandon in the entrance hall was shot through the back by a group of 6 black clad commandos, yelling for the rest of the team to get on the ground now.
Sgt. Carter grabbed the wounded Brandon and hauled him behind a Column of Knowledge and into the barren Silent Chamber, under a hail of gunfire. He patched the holes in Brandon’s vacc suit with the emergency patches.
Gizmo, by one of the other doors, was unnoticed by the commandos, and slipped into the room, only to have the door close on him, and unable to reach the open button.
The group’s team communications went dead just prior to the attack, however Lieu previously established a link with Bell and informed him of the attack. Bell grabbed Brother Victor and demanded answers, and being told only that about thirty members of the congregation have been taken for the Brother’s compliance in the attack. The Brother was the one that sent the message to Lt. Brandon’s datapad hoping to get at least some of the marines away before the attack. Unfortunately, the team’s natural paranoia did not work in their favour this time.
Rayne made a motion, trying to adjust her position on the floor and received a boot by one of the attackers. He was told by the one in charge that he will be shot if he causes further injury to the Proconsul.
Elizabeth, trying to protect her mistress, stands up and confronts the attackers. She is called off by Lieu, the command overriding her programming to defend her mistress.
However, that made her a target, and Carter is told to exit the chamber or the android will get shot (to which Elizabeth made her standard comment about androids being a fictional noun of 20th century literature and the correct terminology is SME, before being silenced again by Lieu).