Location: Captain's Ready Room
Mindo held in his hand the PADD containing his final report on the origin of the signal broadcasting "Stop the Pandora." He had worked very hard after his twelve hours off duty, granted by Commander Nash. It was morning, and Mindo was headed to Captain Temple's ready room, having contacted Temple and Nash beforehand. He was confident in what he found. He stood in the turbolift head high as it carried him to the uppermost part of the ship. Upon the doors opening, Mindo crossed the bridge to the door to the ready room, satisfied with what he had to report.
Nyx was sat at his desk, going over the latest intel reports from The Expanse. Their window to leave Paradise was closing soon; they had to start making plans for the final push back to Federation territory. Time was quickly running out. Hearing Mindo was ready to present his report was a good sign of progress; especially if it gave them the chance to finally take this target off their back before they moved.
Having been contacted by Mindo, Nash had arrived at Nyx's office was had taken a seat as he waited for the Pandora's Chief Engineer to arrive. He could tell it was important and that meant that out here in the Expanse, that was either good news or bad news.
"So, what do you think is so important? Can it be about this signal that he's been working on?" Owen offered as he looked at Nyx.
At the chime of his door, Nyx took in a deep breath. "Enter." He called out.
Upon the door opening, Mindo hovered into the room and placed the PADD in front of Temple. "Sirs, I've concluded the source of the signal comes from Carnwennan station, in Federation space. I believe you'll find enough proof that the signal originates from Section 31. This is an inside job, sir."
Owen stood up as Mindo presented his evidence. "If that's true...that's a big step towards going to prove Thac being guilty and that there has been inside help from Section 31 at Carnwennan..." he said, realising what Mindo had found.
"Do you know how long the signal has been transmitting for and when it was first sent out?" Owen asked, wanting some clarification on when this began and how soon others knew about the signal.
"Yes," Mindo replied. "The signal began transmitting one hour after the destruction of the Pithos facility. I believe this was done in response to a message originating from Pithos by an Admiral Francis, sent shortly before the facility was demolished. I assume this isn't the real Admiral Francis, who the Broot Qaraq claims to have seen leaving his bar with you, Commander Nash, mere hours before Pithos' destruction. I assume this means you can corroborate Francis' location at that time."
"We can," Nyx nodded to Nash, "He was in Delavi at the time, lightyears away and in no position to send any signal."
"Thats true, there's no way that the real Admiral Francis was in anyway equipped to sent out a message like that or, to be blunt, in any shape to be able to either. I can fully corroborate all of that," Owen confirmed.
Mindo continued. "I do not know the specific person who initiated 'Stop the Pandora.' I do believe, however, that it was done by whomever received Francis', or Thac's, coded message from before Pithos was destroyed, and that this person is either working with Thac, or above him."
"I wonder if Admiral Milne is aware of this." Nyx wondered, sitting back in his chair. "Whoever is sending this signal is doing so right under Starfleet's nose."
"Which means that they never knew about this until the message went out and that whoever was doing this, was doing a bloody good job to kept it on the quiet until Pandora left Pithos," Owen agreed. "This was all carefully planned, really well, however at least we have some evidence on our side that helps prove someone is behind this and is trying to destabilize the situation."
Mindo spoke up. "Don't forget that while the signal originates from Carnwennan Sation, this ordeal goes far higher up the ladder. Sir, any way you look at it, once we get to Federation space the Pandora is still a target. Some of us, myself included, are facing court-martial upon returning to Earth. Those trials will likely expose the damage S31 has done in the Expanse. That's why they want us stopped. This will be the largest scandal in Starfleet history unless we don't make it back."
Owen paused as Mindo made his thoughts clear on the matter and realised that there would be more trouble ahead after Mindo's findings pointed to more involvement from Section 31.
"Right about now, I'm inclined to suggest calling up the Palatine and having her join us in an escort capacity, based on what Mindo here has just explained," Owen said in a serious tone. "Should we encounter further resistance in getting back to Federation Space, I suspect we'll need someone on our side whom we can trust and Tobias Rao is the first person who comes to mind," he added.
"Starfleet aren't going to send ships into the Expanse right now; they know any show of force will be taken by the Alrakis Pact as an act of war." Nyx explained, "It feels like cowardice but Admiral Milne has her reasons."
Owen stood fast but understood the situation. "I understand sir," he said. "So may I ask what we can do in this situation? Surely trying to stop the signal being sent into the Expanse would be an idea?"
Nyx sighed and leaned forward, looking at the info Mindo had found, "So if we know the signal is coming from Carnwennan Station, we should be able to find out how they're sending the signal to the Alrakis Pact and other Inconnu networks, right? I can ask Milne to investigate, but it may be possible to take out the relay sending the signal into the Expanse, which will help us out on our final leg home."
Owen nodded. "Then that sounds like our next step. If we can take out that relay, that should go a long way to making our life a little easier to get closer to Federation space in one piece," Owen added. "However, I suspect that the Pact will do all they can to stop us once they realise what we're up to."
"From the information, we have here, can a location be determined for this relay?" Owen asked, hopeful that there might be some clue hidden away in the information that Mindo had collected.
"Well, there's someone that may be able to help us with that." Nyx said. "If we know Thac originated the signal command from Pithos, it would have had to go through the relay first. He probably knows exactly where it is."
Owen thought about this for a moment. "I have one burning question about that idea. Whilst Thac may well know where the relay is, what in it for him to tell us the truth and not send us off on some wild goose chase right into the hands of the Pact?" he asked.
Knowing how confident Thac had been since he was captured and put in the brig, Owen had his concerns.
"I wouldn't put it past him," Nyx nodded, "But something's been playing on my mind for some time. Thac chose us to come rescue him. Only us. There may have been other ships in closer range to the Hesiod system but he still chose us. I want to know why."
"As if he had this preplanned all along, as part of some larger plan," Owen added. "To implicate the Pandora in some way, which is going quite well in the Expanse already. He has answers and we need them fast...so if you need a hand with the interrogation..." he offered.
With the idea that the Pandora had been handpicked by Thac for a lot of "Official" reasons, Owen was starting to like the situation less and less.
"As you said, Mindo," Nyx nodded to the Chief Engineer, "Their plan is to either stop us from returning to Federation space or implicate us to discredit this very information. What you've found, however, is another weapon at our disposal to expose all of Thac and Section 31's misdeeds."
"Thank you sir," Mindo replied. "This mess is a personal one for me. It's not the first time Section 31 has threatened me or my career. But they went too far when they threatened my ship and my friends."
"It's a good job done and this work also gives us some options that offer some hope as we try to leave the Expanse," Owen said. "I'll take that as a win after what we've been through."
Pausing, Owen looked at both Nyx and Mindo. "So, when do we speak with Thac?"
"Let's gather a little more intel first. Right now, he doesn't know what we know and still thinks he has the upper hand." Nyx suggested. He clapped his hands together as he often did, "Alright, is there anything else?"
Owen shook his head, happy that their discussion and Mindo's evidence had created another lead that could work to their advantage.
"I have nothing further," Mindo replied. He was glad to be relieved of this duty. Now he was looking forward to brunch with the Brennan-Griffins, unaware of the surprises that waited for him there.