Pandora Storyline – Nash’s involvement
Posted on Sun Jun 21st, 2020 @ 5:00pm by Commander Owen Nash
Edited on Sat Jul 11th, 2020 @ 7:28am
Sending this to Griffin and Nash as well so everyone knows what the general plan will be:
Pithos facility will be underground, so an Away team will head down to find it. This will likely be Griffin (leader), Smith, Alves, Brennan, and possibly Ashshy. They will find a small group of scientists in the midsts of a crisis. Their experiment is causing increasingly damaging tremors within the planet (which we will experience as we try to land), and they're trying to stabilise it. However, time is running out and they may need to abandon the project/planet altogether. I thought that one scientist defied the others to raise the alarm out of fear that they won't be able to stabilise in time and/or out of guilt for the effect it's having on the planet's surface (more on that below). Initially, there will be confusion as to whether or not they are violating the prime directive, as they believed the planet to be uninhabited. However, it will come to light that there are an alien species living there, which Pithos' leadership knew about without telling the others.
The experiment will be like a Large Hadron Collider, with a central chamber underground being used to fuse dark matter with the natural elements of Hesiod Green's Upper Mantle. The theory being that the properties within Green's mantle are able to withstand the planet's hostile conditions and therefore may encase or infuse the dark matter to become a stable, useable element. Like splitting the atom to find uranium - but Pithos believes they will be able to use the stabilised dark matter to create undetectable ships or unstoppable weapons.
Meanwhile, a second Away Team will investigate the planet surface. This will be Mindo (leader), Kaleri, Sandoval, Rrateth, K'laus. They will discover a humanoid alien race actually lives there and have been seeing the effects of the tremors in their cities, which will be causing destruction of some buildings with lives lost. The aliens will be Late-19th century, industrial revolution era in terms of development. Populated enough for the Away team to go undercover without rousing suspicions. There will be a fierce debate over the cause of the tremors with a religious group believing it is punishment from a higher power; a political/elite class refusing to acknowledge the problem and claiming it is unconnected, natural events; and finally a group of active citizens blaming it on the leaders/elites for using cheap resources, exploiting the working class, and ignoring the problems. The away team will have to infiltrate the city to find more information and discover if the aliens have detected the Federation presence.
Meanwhile, Temple and Fick will be on the Pandora, when further tremors will cause us to try and move the ship, with unexpected consequences.
So my idea was that Nash would start doing some digging on Pithos facility. Admiral Thac warned Nyx to keep radio silence on the Pandora's mission, but he's being sneaky by having Nash secretly investigate while off the Pandora. Nash's Extended leave was just a cover for this but they're *technically* not breaking the Admiral's order this way. We can reveal this through a "flashback" post or just as part of a post when Nash starts his investigation. Nyx will ask Nash to try to find someone who may have worked to build Pithos or was previously assigned to it, with a hunch that someone with knowledge will have either been on Carnwennan Station or still in the area. Perhaps you could use the Palatine for this as well, or at least as a starting point?
I will get you the name of the person soon, but it will be a male. Nash will track down this man somewhere in the Expanse and discover he was actually the facility's boss, a former Commander, now apparently civilian. Nash will either need to use interrogation, intoxication, or some other tactics to gain intel from the guy - that's up to you. But he will eventually reveal that while he was on leave from Pithos, he was approached by someone claiming to be an agent from Section 31. The agent said that the Federation has shut down the facility for harming an alien race on Hesiod Green (a fact he was previously aware of) and that the Commander is now wanted by the Federation for serious crimes against the Prime Directive. The agent was very convincing and managed to produce FNS articles and confidential Starfleet files as proof; he also knew about the experiment and it's real location on Hesiod Green, not Blue, as further proof. Claiming he was going to help the Commander so that he could one-day work for S31, the agent then promised to take all of the guy's belongings, uniform, etc, and stage a Shuttle explosion accident. The Commander would then get to live in exile in the Expanse while the Federation believed him to be dead. Panicked, the guy agreed and paid a substantial fee for this service. He was later sent an FNS article and more supposed Starfleet files detailing the shuttle explosion and his apparent death, which he believed to be real.
(Whether he realised afterwards that this might have been a con job is irrelevant, as he was then stuck in the Expanse with no ID and no way home.)
Nash will then tell him that he was conned and that the Pithos facility is still open and active, but that they're being evacuated. There was no public knowledge of the experiment, or arrest warrants, or shuttle explosion, which makes Nash realise someone has gone to a lot of trouble to trick the Commander for his ID and shuttle. Nash will then decide to take the guy with him to the Hesiod system to rendezvous with the Pandora. Once he makes contact and relays his discovery, it will become apparent that the "Agent" has been posing as the Pithos Commander this whole time.
The video began to play immediately, showing the familiar face of Captain Temple. The lights were low in his Ready Room and the camera quite up-close to his face, intimating a private and exclusive conversation. He looked tired and more than a little concerned. At first when Nyx started speaking, the words coming out appeared to be Klingon. Then, Vulcan. And then, even stranger, a mix of Ferengi and Japanese. It was as if the file was deconstructing the language through a variety of filters, just like when the Pandora first arrived at Paradise and had trouble translating. This likely would have thrown off others, but it was just another level of subterfuge.
Nyx finally spoke clearly, "...and if my timing is correct, you should now be hearing me." He smiled, "Sorry for all the hoops, Owen, but it was necessary. I don't have long. We're about to land the Pandora on a planet and I'm scared.... And confused.... And kinda pissed off." Nyx sighed heavily and shook his head, as if trying to dismiss his thoughts. "Let me take you back to what you've missed. After you left us for Carnwennan Station, I received instructions from the newly-appointed Admiral Thac that we were to investigate a distress call from a research facility in the Hesiod system. I make a habit not to despise people on first meeting but there was an air of incompetent arrogance from Admiral Thac that told me something was suspicious about this request - not the least of all the apparent presence of a secret silence facility somewhere in the Expanse?!"
Owen stopped for a moment. He was shocked at what he was hearing. The Pandora had been in the Expanse for months and only now it comes to light that there was a Federation Starbase out there. For a moment, he thought of all the times that the ship and crew needed leave and repairs and never had that chance. this was wrong.
Owen continued with the video.
The video continued, "He gave me strict instructions that I was not to tell anyone else about our mission, even going to so far as to restrict all location data and logs to anyone else but Thac. He couldn't tell me who we were rescuing, except for that the signal came from a Research facility. Everything was 'classified'. He made it quite clear that our discretion was mandatory, so I couldn't even tell you, my XO, where we were going. Buuut," The Captain gave a sheepish grin, "You can take the boy out of SI, but not the multiple levels of data encryption and network knowledge, so, here we are." He shrugged, "Anyway, I haven't held back from sharing my concerns with the crew. I want them to know how disturbed I am by this mission. This only increased when we arrived at Hesiod and found two planets. One, a pristine, perfect-climate, liveable planet. And the other, with a nasty, inhospitable atmosphere of dense tri-nimbic interference. Imagine our surprise when we find no signs of a Federation base on Hesiod Blue, the ideal planet, but instead, the distress signal coming from Hesiod Green; a place where no Starfleet Captain would willingly lead their crew. It just didn't make sense."
Once again, as new details came to the surface, Owen was struggling with what he was hearing. However, his trust in his friend and Commanding Office gave him faith that what he was hearing was the truth. Nyx had never lied to Owen before...why come up with this now.
Again, he agreed that sending the Pandora to such a desolate world made no sense. Something was wrong...many things were wrong. Owen continued with the video.
"After much debate, we have chosen to follow the mission parameters and find some answers. Believe me, Owen, I will find out what Admiral Thac is hiding on this planet, and then I will let him know what I know." There was a fierce determination in Nyx's face for that moment, unrestrained candour for his friend. "I'm also quite curious to find out what the Federation has been secretly doing on this planet while we've been busy exploring the Expanse and fighting the Alrakis Pact. And... that's where you come in."
Owen smiled. "Who me? What a surprise..." he said with mock surprise. He also knew that Nyx knew this would be his usual response. It made sense. The Pandora and her family are his home and family too. Owen knew that he had work to do and it was coming.
"Yes, you." Temple smiled, "I assume you asked 'who me' then. If not, just pretend you did. You won't be able to reach us on the surface through shuttle or comms, the atmosphere is too horrible and you're actually not supposed to know we're here. But I need you to follow a small lead I have and bring that information to the Hesiod system." Nyx leaned in as he explained. "Obviously there is no sign of a Pithos Research facility anywhere on the databases, public or classified. I tried to discreetly find what I could but it was all nothing. That'll be too easy. So I started looking into who might be behind such a facility and specifically, who would have been in the region. Once again, I found nothing conclusive, nothing I can prove. But I did see the shadow of something..."
The screen changed to a list of transport logs preened from Carnwennan Station; it was standard background information that ships typically stored away when they came into subspace range of a Federation facility. Perfunctory and boring. This one was Starfleet personnel present on the station in December 2387; when the Pandora passed by on her entry to The Expanse. It was a long list of names, some with assigned ships and some without. One name became highlighted, Admiral Gordon Francis. He was listed as present on the station, but he had no transport logs to or from the station, no publicly stated business, nor was he assigned anywhere.
"People without specific assignments don't show up in specific places." Temple's voice could be heard. "Unless they had a specific reason to be there."
Then, another list appeared. This one was from March 2389, sent from Starfleet HQ, and a list of all known personnel in the Inconnu Expanse that needed to evacuate from the region after the Alrakis Pact's announcement of Federation expulsion from their territory. Once again, the name Admiral Gordon Francis appeared. It gave a vague, planetary system for his evacuation point but again no ship was assigned to him. It was unclear how he was planning to vacate the area, or even if he was being removed at all.
"He'd been in the Expanse for a heck of a long time for a guy with no assignment in the region," Nyx commented.
Finally, a third list, after the Inconnu Access Agreement was signed in May 2389, granting restricted admittance in and out of the region. Admiral Francis was listed in an "Approved General Travel" section, though still with no assigned ship or declared duty. In the need to conceal whatever Francis was doing, it had been inadvertently revealed that he was up to something worth hiding.
"Of all three lists," Nyx was saying as his face reappeared, "Admiral Francis is the highest-ranking official in the Expanse at the time. And yet, he had no assignment nor associated ship. He was given no ranking powers on Carnwennan, despite the station chief being only a Captain. He was not placed in charge of the evacuation effort, which would normally default to him as the highest rank. He was not given priority refuge, either, he was just another personnel to collect. How he got to Carnwennan Station, or into the Expanse, we can't see. Though it's unlikely he walked therefrom." Nyx snarked with a laugh, "The only thing I have to go on apart from the absence of information, is that when Starfleet sent out the evacuation list, Admiral Francis was apparently going to get evac from the Delavi System. Delavi is a known resource and trading hub, with transport routes heading into the Carwennan Corridor. It is also the only inhabited system near Hesiod. If someone was travelling to and from Hesiod, they would go to Delavi. I believe the expulsion announcement caught Francis by surprise and, in their panic to ensure all Federation personnel were accounted for, Starfleet HQ revealed he was in the area."
"Curiouser and curiouser... A Starfleet Flag Admiral on the wrong side of the line when the truce was called..." Owen mumbled. "The Universe never fails to amaze... What do you need me to do?" he asked the video.
"I need you to go to the Delavi system. Find any traces of Francis. Where he's been, who he's met with, and even if there are some supply arrangements that he's made that we can trace." Nyx said earnestly, "You may need to use some undercover work and subterfuge, but it may be worth it if we find some answers. Find out what you can and then discreetly travel to Hesiod Blue to rendezvous with Lieutenant Boucher. He has set up a base camp there and will be able to patrol the region too. Though hopefully, we'll be off Green quickly enough and we can all discuss what we've discovered together."
Nyx signed and leaned straight into the camera again, as he said, "Be safe, Owen. And watch your back."
The screen turned black, before a series of encryption data figures scrolled past the screen, hiding the Captain's message once again.
"Well, well, well. It never rains but it pours. God only knows why this has all happened but there are questions that need answers," he said almost to himself and Mauricio. Standing up from his seat, Owen turned to his former crewmate.
"Thank you for this, Mauricio. I appreciate you taking the risk to meet me here and to show me this recording. It seems I have a lot of work to do." Owen folded his arms as he considered his next move.
"Don't fancy some action do you? I could use some reliable backup..."
Mauricio sat back in his chair and thought about this for a while. He felt like he had only just left the Pandora, but the sight of concern on the Captain's face, and his grave warning at the end, was pulling at the former Starfleet officer's conscious. He knew Paradise was under control for now and that Katya would understand his desire to help his former ship, in fact, she had been more than willing to send him to meet Commander Nash, out of gratitude for the Pandora's assistance.