A gift from an unexpected ally.
Previous story quest: The Sacrifice
Starting the quest
The quest becomes available after completing The Sacrifice quest. Upon entering the Personal Quarters, the Man in the Wall will be sitting on the plinth where the Lotus' helmet normally rests, wearing said helmet on their head.
Man in the Wall: "Haha!"
After laughing at the Tenno, the Man in the Wall will vanish with a flourish of red and black, leaving the helmet in its usual position. Interacting with the helmet will immediately load the Tenno into the quest mission.
First Mission: Follow the Man in the Wall (Lua)
The Tenno is deposited on Lua. There are no mission objectives, transmissions, or enemies. Transference is blocked. The map is identical to the portion of Lua visited in the Apostasy Prologue. As the Tenno moves through the map, they will encounter the Man in the Wall several times, still wearing the Lotus' mask, in a variety of mischievous poses, such as doing handstands or lying on their side. As the Tenno approaches the Man in the Wall, they will vanish, leaving behind a floating trail of thick black fluid to indicate the path the Tenno must follow. At various times, the Man in the Wall will leave behind a spherical barrier of golden energy as they vanish, blocking the Tenno from continuing. Shadow apparitions of the Lotus will appear and claw at the Tenno's warframe, and they must all be destroyed before the energy barrier will dissipate. This will happen three times during the mission.
Man in the Wall: "Psst… hey."
(throughout the mission) Man in the Wall: "Haha!"
(throughout the mission) Man in the Wall: "Hey, kiddo!"
Eventually, the trail leads to the Reservoir, still in disrepair. The Man in the Wall will stand at the base of the overgrown tree and, upon approach, hop into the shaft below. Jumping into the shaft will transition the player into Operator mode, with no HUD. The Operator will land on a dark, circular platform, at the bottom of the shaft, suffering no fall damage. An arched hallway is the only way forward. As the Operator walks forward, echoes of the conversation between Ballas and the Lotus during the Apostasy Prologue can be heard. In the distance, Ballas and the Lotus can be seen walking into the glowing light on her throne.
Lotus: "I am not who you think I am."
Ballas: "But of course you are. Imprisoned, just as she was."
The Man in the Wall will taunt the Tenno before disappearing into the glowing light on the Lotus' throne.
Man in the Wall: "Haha!"
Entering the glowing light immediately transitions the Tenno into another map. The Operator is crouched in Void Mode, consuming no energy, staying in Void Mode for the duration of the mission. There are no HUD elements except for a meter of five bars at the top of the screen. The Operator is in a dark tunnel of unusual construction, seeming both natural and unnatural simultaneously. An orange light shines from the far opening of the tunnel. The Operator cannot walk forward, but a glowing pinpoint of light further down the tunnel is accompanied by a hint to Void Dash. Void Dashes, like Void Mode, do not consume energy and can be performed as often as desired.
As the Operator Void Dashes through the tunnel at predefined points, the architecture is revealed to consist of the unmistakable ribbed structures characteristic of Sentient construction. A voice can be heard from the end of the tunnel.
[Ballas]: "No… no…. My beauty, my grace, my— my humanity!"
When the Operator arrives at the mouth of the tunnel, a massive internal space is revealed, bathed in orange light. A wide circular platform is directly before the Tenno, bookended by two massive pillars that rise up to the unseen ceiling. A triangular altar is in the centre of the platform. The Operator is prompted to Void Dash into the shadow of one of the pillars, which will trigger a cutscene.
[The Operator crouches in Void Mode behind the pillar and peers around the edge. Clicking footsteps can be heard as Ballas rounds the corner, looking around. He has been horrifically reconstructed as a grotesque Orokin-Sentient hybrid. His body, from the abdomen down, is mostly Sentient, with tall, spindly legs in a digitigrade orientation. His Orokin legs are still present, dangling unsettlingly from his Sentient kneecaps, their function supplanted. His right foot is atrophied away almost to nothing. A strange pattern is implanted in the skin of his right shoulder and arm, although it is not clear if this is further Sentient augmentation, or if it was present before, covered by his ornamental robe which is now absent. Although his elongated right arm appears to still be functional, he cradles it with his left, holding it in front of him, rather than obscuring it as he did previously. His left eye still glows gold, but his right appears to be missing. He looks around and calls out plaintively.]
Ballas: "H-hello? No. No hope."
[Dejected, Ballas hangs his head. Suddenly, his head jerks as his right eye – hitherto dark – sparks to life, glowing bright orange, projecting a cone of light from his eye socket. Wielding this piercing gaze seems to bring Ballas discomfort or even pain, although he quickly recovers.]
Ballas: "Ah… only suffering under her eye."
The cutscene ends, and Ballas will start pacing around the room, rambling to himself. He will stop periodically, always facing away from the altar in the centre of the room. During these pauses, he will raise his right hand, and a metal fragment will fall from the ceiling to hover above the altar behind him. As more metal fragments are summoned, they will begin to assemble themselves into a large sword.
Ballas: "But… she gave me the gift of life! Why would I betray her?"
The Operator can Void Dash around to predetermined locations, behind or on top of obstacles on the platform. As Ballas paces around, his gaze – illustrated by the cone of light from his eye – will fall upon the Tenno's hiding spots. His sight can pierce the Void Mode and reveal the Operator, and prolonged exposure will deplete the meter on the top of the HUD. As the meter bars are depleted, they will disappear. Once all five bars are gone, the Operator is revealed and the mission will reset to the beginning of Ballas' speech. The Operator must Void Dash from one hiding spot to another to avoid Ballas' gaze. If Ballas notices the Operator temporarily, he will interrupt his soliloquy, but will resume where he left off once the Operator has Void Dashed away.
(if Ballas notices the Operator, variant) Ballas: "Who— who's there?"
(if Ballas notices the Operator, variant) Ballas: "What? What is this?"
(if Ballas notices the Operator, variant) Ballas: "Oh? Is there someone…?"
(if Ballas loses sight of the Operator, variant) Ballas: "Nothing, so…."
(if Ballas loses sight of the Operator, variant) Ballas: "I'm… just confused… uh…."
(if Ballas loses sight of the Operator, variant) Ballas: "Only shadow… only shadow…."
(if the Operator is discovered and respawns at the beginning) Ballas: "Huh? Okay…. Only suffering under her eye. That she sees… she punishes!"
Ballas: "Fool! This… this is no gift! She stole my death! My perfect death. Such is her power… over me. Over the devil!"
Ballas: "We saw what we wanted, those devils and I. A lover… a mother! But now I know. She is neither. She's a hawk, calling with sparrow's song."
Ballas: "A viper, blending into wood. And her venom… spreads not into flesh, but into your heart."
Ballas: "Those devils! What has their great awakening accomplished, but the destruction of potential allies? Don't they see?"
Ballas: "Love must die, as Margulis did… when I sent her to the Jade Light. And the Lotus… just some cloud in the sky, just some shape they imagined. Only the Sentient is real."
Ballas: "Only Natah. So… tell me, devil. Do you understand what must be done?"
At this point another cutscene will begin.
[Ballas turns to the altar, looking at the sword fragments for the first time. The six fragments float in the air, arranged into the general shape of the weapon they constitute.]
Ballas: "The Paracesis… the Sentient slayer."
[Ballas reaches out with his right hand and grasps the hilt piece. The pieces fuse together into the whole as Ballas slams the sword into the altar, embedding the blade into the stone. He looks down and away from the sword, covering his glowing eye with his left hand. Still gripping the sword in his right hand, he urgently implores the Tenno.]
Ballas: "Hurry! Take this – the idea of it. It is the only way your war can end."
[The Operator is given the opportunity to Void Dash to the altar. They arrive opposite Ballas, standing up but still cloaked in Void mode. They grasp the sword hilt with their left hand, just below Ballas' grip, and assimilate the knowledge of the weapon. Ballas begins to increasingly struggle to keep his eye pointed away from the Operator, and suddenly his head snaps around to look the Operator right in the face with his penetrating gaze. The Lotus' voice can be heard whispering as the screen fades white.]
Lotus: "Tenno! Tenno…."
Aftermath (on board Orbiter)
The Operator will be back in the Personal Quarters, recoiling on one knee from Ballas' gaze. Upon recognising their surroundings, the Operator will stand back up, and the Paracesis blueprint will be added to the Tenno's inventory, ready to be constructed in the Foundry. The quest completion screen will be displayed, and the quest may now be viewed and replayed from the New War quest entry in the Codex.
Next story quest: Erra