New Life and New Civilisations
Posted on Wed Jun 24th, 2020 @ 3:48am by Captain Nycolas Temple & Lieutenant Commander Mindo & Lieutenant Ziara Rrareth & Lieutenant John Sandoval & Lieutenant Krysia Kaleri-Smith & Lieutenant JG Vecon Fick
Edited on on Fri Jul 10th, 2020 @ 6:01pm
The Evils Within
Location: Hesiod Green
Not long after the Captain's order to send a secondary away team onto Hesiod Green, the nominated Pandora officers had gathered in the Shuttle Bay. The ship had detected strange life signs on their long range scans, previously hidden by the volatile atmosphere of the planet. They had also been told by Admiral Thac that the planet was uninhabited; so the presence of a possible indigenous species would mean the Federation's Pithos Research Facility was potentially in violation of the Prime Directive. In order to find out what was happening, Lieutenants Mindo, Fick, Rrareth, Kaleri, and Sandoval were being sent to investigate.
Sitting pensively on the Bridge, the Captain awaited confirmation from the Shuttle Bay crew that the new away team was ready to launch.
Pressing the comms button on his chair, the Captain spoke resolutely, "Away team, you are to fly at low altitude, using the planet's natural density to hide your approach. Use long-range scans to find out whatever you can and report back immediately. You are not to make contact with any settlements or persons if you believe there's a possibility that you will be spotted, is that clear?"
In the shuttle, Ziara and T'Kemi were carefully storing the last of the gear. Given they were taking a shuttle, Ziara had opted to pack heavy. Ziara settled into the co-pilot seat next to Fick. "Low Altitude, hide our approaches, long-range scans, report back, no contact. Aye Aye." Ziara responded.
John Sandoval hadn’t brought much aside from a tricorder and his cane. He got himself strapped in and ready for launch.
Fick was running through the flight check and the minute Ziara sat down in the co-pilot seat he was all business. He ran through a list of systems with her in short order and a grin. "We're ready for clearance." He was looking forward to flying the shuttle, especially with the purpose of scouting a mission.
"Very well. Be safe, team," the Captain replied, before silencing his comms again. He sat in the big chair staring pensively at the view screen, hands wringing together with anticipation and anxiety. He was hopeful for answers, but he was more anxious to see the crew home safe again.
Inside the shuttle, Mindo took the seat behind Ziara and strapped in. He wasn't thrilled about this little trip. But having a high-ranking engineer on board the shuttle in harsh conditions was standard procedure. The Captain knew Mindo could fix the ship's damage in his sleep, and Mindo had every confidence in Samson and the rest of his staff. So here was the diminutive Fesarian on a shuttle to a hostile world. To boldly go, he thought as the shuttle powered up. Riiiiiight.
"Locked and loaded," Fick said jokingly.
Within moments, the Pandora's bay doors slid open, revealing the rocky, dark planet before them. Under Fick's command, the shuttle powered up and gently taxied out of the Shuttle Bay. The runabout did a slight turn before heading towards the last known location of the detected life signs.
The runabout was easy to fly and Fick didn't anticipate any sort of crazy flying maneuvers to be necessary, but one could never be too careful or casual. It might be difficult to hide the shuttle, depending on the landscape, so there was that to consider too. Landscapes could change rapidly and so far their readings of this planet had been dodgy at best.
Ziara let Fick do all of the piloting, it pained her to not be the one flying. However, it wasn't her job anymore. She suspected that he wouldn't take any better then she would have if someone else had tried to take her job. Right now, her job was to keep everyone safe and that was what she was going to do. However, there would be a nice extended flight with the Dream Girl when this was all over. "Allright, let's get to work."
“Remember, we’re going to do all we can to prevent contamination,” John advised.
Krysia nodded. "We have to try not to have any interaction with the native species, we're too conspicuous as being aliens to them and who knows how they'd react to us!"
"This is all assuming there is a native species," said Mindo. "That's what we're going to find out. Those life signs we detected could be anything."
"I can give you that answer now," Krysia looked at Mindo. "What I'm sensing is life, what kind of life I don't know, but definitely life. Something is very definitely alive down there and I'm not just sensing our people or the other facility staff, they feel different."
"That didn't really answer the question," Fick said, eyes on his monitor. "Is it a native species? We know it's alive..."
"There are a lot of things it can be, anything from a peaceful species that we didn't know about to Klingons wanting to destroy the outpost. We need to find out, and avoid detection. We're starting to get some of our sensor results now," Ziara said, sending the data to the scientist.
While the appearance of life signs on the sensors became increasingly prevalent as the runabout made its way across the jagged planet surface, this seemed to be entirely at odds with the visuals that the crew were seeing at the time. Hesiod Green was by all appearances an endless desert of rocks, scorched earth, and a desolate landscape one would never want to spend very long visiting. The dark clouds swirling above only added to the ominous and barren visage. And though any visible signs of life appeared to be impossible, they persisted in the distance.
However, not much further into the team's journey, the shuttle's sensors eventually began to identify something within the inhospitable landscape. Biological matter. Flesh. Hair. Fluids. Then... scraps of clothing, made of linen. But it was all in decay, rotting and aged, signs of the formerly living. At first it was just a blip on the scanners, and then a few more, and more again, until there was almost a thousand individual markers of some deceased people.
“Does that answer any questions?” Krysia shook her head in disbelief.
As the shuttle drifted over a particularly steep rock-face, they came upon a large, round clearing, which was entirely flat - as if all the rocks had been broken down or purposely removed. Across the entire length of the field were the bodies. Thousands upon thousands of bodies - thrown into this site entirely unceremoniously. Some were older than others, some barely a week had passed since they had arrived, as told by the shuttle's sensors. There were bones and flesh, but nothing that could be identified by species on the Federation's database. Skulls and skeletons indicated a humanoid frame at best. And what was increasingly telling is how the bodies were each covered by the same kind of grey blanket and nothing more. No clothing, no uniforms, just bodies in blankets. Whoever these people were, they didn't believe in ritual burials.
“Oh my...” Krysia looked away from the gruesome sight that was laid out below them. It was a horrific sight compared only to a horror movie or a mass extinction event. She kept her gaze diverted. “What happened here?!”
John got up from his seat to take a closer look, and almost immediately regretted it. "Ziara, can you do a radiation scan? I have a... disturbing theory about what happened here."
It wasn't the first time that Ziara had seen something like the valley of death. She whispered something that wasn't translated in Caitian. Then her fingers flew over the console to run the scan that John had requested. "Yhea, me too."
"Radiation?!" Krysia looked at John concernedly. "If you're hunch is right, will we be safe in here?" She was obviously concerned for the safety of her twins.
"Well, those definitely aren't our life signs," Fick offered with a snort. "So... not everything is dead down there... Maybe this is the way they bury people..."
“Maybe...” John said, not quite believing it. “But it reminds me too much of Richmond, Indiana, or the pictures I’ve seen of Hiroshima.” He shuddered as he remembered the devastation, preserved as a monument to the devastation of World War III. A sight all Starfleet diplomatic cadets were made to see.
"No," said Mindo, shaking his head at the morbid sight. "Indiana's much nicer than this..."
"What about the radiation scan?" Krysia looked at Ziara. "What does it show?"
"Not much, it's like something is blocking it." Ziara replied.
=/\= "Keep going." Came Captain Temple's concerned voice over the comms from the Pandora. He had been monitoring the vision sent from the runabout and didn't like what he was seeing. =/\= "But you may be close to some civilisation. Take it slow and steady." =/\=
The shuttle continued across the rocky desert. Just after the flat clearing, there was an identifiable path which spiralled through the landscape and headed towards a monstrous mountain of rock. The path was constructed and cleared, much like the grave site they had just visited. It had been maintained, too, indicating that whoever was responsible for its construction was still very much using the road. The path was wide, almost the width of a shuttle and the computer's sensors picked up what appeared to be two, deeply-indented groove lines evident on the surface, possibly worn down by the use of a wheeled vehicle.
"Does that look like, what I think it looks like?" Krysia looked at the sensors. "Are those tracks from a vehicle of some description?"
Ziara had been in a lot of vehicles. "Probably, there aren't many things that make that sort of parallel tracks without it. Don't know what kind though, I wonder what kind of vehicle. It could be anything from a chariot to a modern wheeled truck."
"Which means the people who live here might be primitive, technologically advanced, or anything in between," John observed.
It was as the shuttle began to approach the rock mountain that the first inclination of life signs appeared on the shuttle's scanners. They were like floating dots on the sensors, fading in and out of existence. One minute they were there, the next they were gone. The thick, craggy nature of the landscape was so dense that the computer could not gain a proper reading on the life-signs, as they appeared and disappeared beneath the surface. This would potentially explain why the Pandora and Kaleri were not able to gain a substantial, definitive read on the situation. It was evident though that this planet's indigenous inhabitants were living within this mountain.
"That's it!" Krysia looked at the sensor readouts. "I'm sensing them clearly now we're closer, there's a civilization down there. They're just living underground."
"Makes sense, the outdoors is fairly violent. Let's circle around, get some scans and get back to the Pandora." Ziara said as she directed the sensors towards the ground so they could penetrate the surface.
The shuttle flew around the jagged mountain a few times, using its advanced scanning to get a better look of the life inside. What transpired was reminiscent of an ant colony - a large series of tunnels stretching deep inside and all around the mountain, with smaller "rooms" or caverns spaced evenly throughout. The tunnels continued underground, where it began near impossible to decipher from the thick rock. All throughout the area they could see into, however, was a bustling society of people. Heartbeats and cardiovascular systems, developed brains on humanoid bodies, and undoubtedly life.
Over the comms, there came a crackled and garbled message from Nyx.
=/\= Team ..... monitor the native ...... safe distance ..... has occurred. I need you to...." =/\=
Suddenly the call went dead, the Pandora unable to be reached. Despite several attempts from the shuttle to reestablish a connection with the ship, radio silence remained. The shuttle were now completely cut off from the Pandora, alone on this strange planet, with no one around except for the mysterious new species they had discovered.