Expedition : Pandorum
Deep in the hull of Elysium hides a secret no one on Tanis is ready for. They've grown up with the bedtime stories and fables and fantasies about the landing, made a hero of Bower and a villain of Gallo. Now, for the first time, the citizens of Tanis will know more about themselves and the doomed planet they came from. A team of scholars and military men descend into the depths of the space craft, unaware of what waits for them.
This is the story of Tanis, year 698.
disclaim ;; I do not own Pandorum. I love it and would absolutely adore a sequel or prequel.
author's note ;; Welcome to the first Pandorum fiction in this particular section of FF. I'm hoping there are many more to follow from all you fellow Pandorum fans. I'm hoping you'll enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it, as well. As a first draft, this may seem choppy, and I'm going to be going back to make revisions as they come to me. If you have suggestions, feel free to input, I'll be more than happy to listen.
"There is great rumor and speculation that we have found an underwater access point to Elysium," the man says from his podium, shuffling papers beneath the microphone. After brushing dark hair from his forehead, he clears his throat. "And I'm glad to tell you that it is entirely true. After all these years, we've found a way into the Bridge. The technologies we will bring back will be beyond our greatest expectations."
A reporter jams his own microphone towards the stand, concern written across his face. "Mr. President, what exactly do you mean by bring back?" he questions as dozens of others clamor for the story hanging on the tip of his tongue.
"We've already sent an archaeological expedition down," the president says as he flashes his election-winning grin. "As we speak, they will be entering the Bridge. In two weeks time, they will bring back technology that has been lost to us for seven hundred years."
Tuesday June 1st, year 698 ;
It is any wonder that our team consists of scholars and military brutes. Their presence is greatly undesired in the fragile hull of Elysium, yet they refuse to put down their guns. I've spoken to them several times and I'm beginning to think it as a lost cause. Perhaps I should spend more time worrying about our supplies and equipment. I've not let on, but the thought of climbing into a gear suit and swimming through the wreckage is terrifying. In the name of science, there are things I must do, and being strong is one of them.
"Alright, maggots, up and at 'em!" Lieutenant Finch hollers into the small space, holding a clipboard in front of him. His assembled team, a mix of his hand-picked military personnel and wet-behind-the-ears scholars, wince at the boom of his voice. Lowering the volume, he takes a step down from his makeshift soapbox. "Elysium is on the other side of that door. I expect everyone to follow orders. If I tell you to jump, you damn well find a way to jump in these gear suits."
Several scholars give the suits apprehensive looks, but keep their comments to themselves.
Finch clicks his pen against the clipboard in the crook of his arm as his sharp gaze sweeps the room. Locking on a man of short stature and slight build, he motions him to the front. "This is Field Officer Malcolm Forbes. In the unlikely event that you are separated from myself, you will listen to Forbes with utmost attention. Understand?"
Looking somewhat uncomfortable with the limelight, Forbes runs a hand through his brunette hair as the assembled persons reply with various forms of yes. As Finch orders the team into their designated gear suits, Forbes steps aside with his Lieutenant. Keeping his voice low, he turns his back to the rest of them. "Lieutenant, sir, is there something you haven't told me?" he asks.
The man's eyebrows lift and he laughs. "Forbes, I tell you everything. What can I possibly be hiding now?"
"I don't know, sir. It seems odd that an archaeological team needs this much protection. A quarter of our arsenal is down here," Forbes replies, moving to his own suit. "They said this was going to be an easy in-and-out."
"Higher management always says that," Finch replies, tugging the suit up his legs. "You've got to relax, Forbes. If anything does come up, we're prepared for it."
In silence, the Field Officer gets into the gear suit, pulling the bulky contraption around him. Modeled initially as a diving suit for reclaiming wreckage from parts of Elysium near the surface, the suits were redesigned to withstand high pressure for the expedition. Built from natural materials found on Tanis and the equipment they were able to access from the parts of Elysium not beneath water, the suits weigh almost half as much as most the people climbing into them. It then rests on Finch and Forbes to keep their team of misfits safe from harm, and mostly from themselves.
Finch ushers the first team into the hold, pushing his Field Officer inside. "When the water starts filling up, turn on your oxygen tanks!" he shouts to them, motioning with his hands to show them the action in case they forgot. The group nods to him as he closes the door, twirling the handle to pressure seal it.
Inside the chamber, Forbes looks at the ten men milling around, each unidentifiable in their heavy suits. He's known them for years, yet can't pick out one to save his life. Pressure drops suddenly, letting water into the chamber. As it bubbles up to his knees, Forbes shifts uncomfortably in his suit of metal and fabric, switching on his oxygen tank. As the water swells around his torso and his chest, he feels the weight of the suit pulling away. With a pull, the outer door slides open, releasing them into the bridge of Elysium. They drift through the water to the floor of the room, landing and trying to balance in the water as they adjust to the feeling.
Forbes motions them away from the drop point, allowing the men to disperse in different directions without a word. Moving in strange drifting steps, he puts his hands against the wall to stop himself from colliding as he inspects various instruments embedded. There is very little that he recognizes. Dials and nobs marked in his own language tell him what the things are, but not what they do. Pushing his way down the wall, he comes to an intercom system. Experimentally, he presses the button in, receiving no response, not that he expected it. He laughs at himself, shaking his head as he turns to see the remaining team floating down from the submersible vehicle.
Finch is in the lead, a bright red triangle painted over his heart. Moving to the center of the room, he grabs the swiveling chair to keep from passing his intended platform. Fiddling with his suit for a moment, he flicks on the radio, wincing as the screeching feedback belts out. He allows time for the rest of the team to shake their ears out before addressing them as equal players on his black and white chess board. "Sinking down here was the easy part. Now we're in Elysium and we have to pay attention. It is life or death down here. If I give you an order, I expect you to follow it."
As Finch gives his orders for the third time since leaving the surface of Tanis, Forbes takes a length of rope from the leg of his suit, knotting it around a bar once holding the glass over the bridge. Holding the coil loosely in his hand, he waits until his commanding officer is finished before calling attention to himself.
"This is our lifeline," he says, demonstrating the rope tied to the bar. "Do not stray off the path, never lose grip on this rope. If you need to stop, radio and we will all stop. Understand?"
There is a general consensus of yes and aye from their group, and the two leaders seem satisfied enough by the enthusiasm for following rules.
Finch takes the rope as he moves by, floating to the door of the bridge. It is partially open, and he stops only to look back at his group before slipping through.
"Lets make tracks."