"Only a handful of people know what happened after that, including me. All the others are either dead or missing.
Once I leave here, sooner or later they'll find me and I'll disappear. Before that happens, someone has to know. Someone has to stop them before it's too late."
- – Dr. Mary Kirkish, March 18th, 2260
The Syria Planum Incident covers the events of March 2253 which begin with the excavation of a Shadow Vessel on Syria Planum by IPX and involved the crash landing of Jeffrey Sinclair and Michael Garibaldi near that site.
Before the Incident
Following years of rumours and false leads on alien artefacts out on Syria Planum, Mars an IPX team lead by Dr. Mary Kirkish were shocked when a sonic probe finally turned up something: a Shadow Vessel buried in the Martian soil, three hundred feet beneath the surface. During the excavation, one of the workers touched the ship with his bare hands while clearing away some soil and is killed instantly as if the life was sucked right out of him. After several weeks of excavation the IPX crew was only able to uncover only half of the craft, but even that was enough to give Kirkish nightmares for the rest of her life.
A week after notifying Earth Central of the find, Kirkish and her IPX archological team were ordered to halt their excavation and to fall back to their secondary base and wait. They reluctantly complied under the threat of dissmissal and could only watch while unmarked shuttles started moving in and out of the area. Unknown to them, Psi Corps Department Sigma telepaths hurriedly wiped the memory of the dig from the excavation crews and sent them away as if nothing had happened.
Unknown to Kirkish's team, as soon as the craft had been exposed to daylight, an automatic beacon on board had sent out a coded transmission. Knowing that whoever the ship belonged to would be coming back to retrieve it, Department Sigma worked quickly over the next six days to establish a base of operations at the dig site and Earthforce New Technologies sent in specialists to study the find, including a Dr. Morden. After setting up a comms jamming signal to blanket the area, they set about taking samples from the ship and planted a homing beacon. At the same time a group of telepaths including Talia Winters were brought in as live subjects for a series of medical experiments at an on-site lab. At some point, one of Sigma's people, McDwyer touched the ship and is driven insane and escapes.
Jeffrey Sinclair was sent to Mars by Earthforce to investigate reports of human-alien collusion. After the initial attempts disappeared, Sinclair opted to circumvent normal Earthforce protocol and hired Michael Garibaldi, an ex-military civilian pilot to fly the reconnaissance missions with his private charter shuttle. After filing false flight plans, they set out with officers Sanchez and Foster.
After nearly five days of fruitless searching, Garibaldi's shuttle inexplicably malfunctioned and crashed out on Syria Planum, killing Foster on impact and leaving Sanchez with a broken leg. With the nearest settlement some 50 miles out and no way to send for help, Sinclair and Garibaldi were forced to leave Sanchez in the shuttle with five days worth of provisions and air while they head out on foot.
The second Shadow Vessel arrives
Still observing from the secondary base two miles from the dig, Dr. Kirkish looked on as a second Shadow Vessel arrived, having responded to the first's beacon, and set about digging it the rest of the way out with its beam weapon.
After spending a night in a cave talking shelter from a dust storm and surviving a cave-in, Sinclair and Garibaldi stumbled across the dig site just in time to witness the second Shadow Vessel begin to dig the first one out. The pair managed to infiltrate the base and witnessed the experiment being performed on human test subjects with a massive bio-mechanical construct. After being discovered by base personnel, Garibaldi set off an explosion at the lab. The pair then hijacked a crawler , made their escape, and headed back to Sanchez at the crash site. Unbeknowst to them, at least one Shadow was present within the facility.
Shortly afterward, the second vessel finished digging out the first and lowered itself into the pit. For 20 to 25 minutes nothing happened until suddenly the first ship came alive with a mindscream that could be heard two miles away by Kirkish, who was still looking on. The two ships departed and headed for Z'ha'dum with the homing beacon still aboard. The beacon was eventually tracked to an uncharted planet out on the rim, designated by IPX as Alpha Omega III.
The former dig site is struck with all traces removed. Kirkish and her colleagues are warned of unfortunate consequences should they ever disclose what they've seen. The team is broken up and assigned to other worlds so they won't have a chance to even talk to each other.
Sinclair and Garibaldi were half way back to Sanchez and the shuttle crash site when the comms jamming was taken down down. With the comm unit on the crawler working again they call in Earthforce for reinforcements. After picking up Sanchez, they meet an EF shuttle and head back to the excavation site. Upon arriving they found no trace or evidence of anything they witnessed and a further search by Earthforce turned up nothing. Garibaldi however does find a single scorched Psi Corps badge in the sand. Without any other evidence to back up their story, Michael kept the badge to himself and they both quietly drop the matter, hoping to find more evidence or other witnesses down the line.
Having survived the blast, Talia Winters was taken to the medical facilities at the Psi Corps Center on Syria Planum. After her mind was wiped she was transferred to the Bureau 13 sleeper program, where the Control personality would be implanted in her mind.
At some point during the incident, Psi Cop Alfred Bester and his intern Ysidra Tapia were at a train platform elsewhere on Mars when they encountered Endra Nadja, one of the excavation workers. After seeing the Psi Cops she attacks and wounds Tapia. Bester then discovered Sigma's sloppy memory wipe as the subconscious source of Endra's attack and glimpses at a partial memory of her work at Syria Planum and the psi imprint of the Shadow Vessel.
The events at Syria Planum would have far reaching consequences. Foremost among them being the subsequent Icarus mission, sent to Alpha Omega III some three years later to investigate the destination of the mysterious ships. The incident also leads to a lasting friendship between Jeffrey Sinclair and Michael Garibaldi that leads to Sinclair offering Garibaldi the job of Chief of Security on Babylon 5 in 2256. Garibaldi does eventually tracks down another witness to the events and in 2260 has his contacts in the Anla'Shok smuggle Dr. Kirkish, now a fugitive, from Mars to Babylon 5 before sending her on into safety in Minbari space.
Her confirmation of his story and the news that another ship has been found, this time on Ganymede would lead Sheridan to engage and destroy the ship at Jupiter. That attack, painted by ISN as an alien incursion into the Sol System, gave Earthgov a pretext to tighten security throughout the Alliance and declare martial law, precipitating the bombing of Mars, the succession of Orion VII, Proxima III and Babylon 5 and the outbreak of theEarth Alliance Civil War.
Even this brief exposure to Shadow Technology allowed the Earthforce Bio-weapons Division to adapt the technology for their own uses. Foremost among them the building of partly organic based ships such as the temperamental, but lethal Shadow Hybrid that destroyed the EAS Cerberus in 2259 and the Advanced Omega class destroyer group that faced off against a fleet of White Stars in the last days of the Earth Alliance Civil War. In addition, some unknown form of Shadow Tech was hidden deep within the systems of the new Warlock class destroyers.
Even with the fall of the Clark regime and the dissolution of the Psi Corps following the Telepath War, it did little to stop the clandestine activities of those intent of using and developing technology with secret bases actively experimenting with left-over Shadow tech - including on live Human subjects - well into 2267.
- Psi Corps
- Michael Garibaldi (unintended bystander)
- Messages from Earth
- The Shadow Within
- Deadly Relations - Bester Ascendant
- With Friends Like These
- Against the Odds
- Survival the Hard Way
- Silent Enemies
- Silent Enemies, page 12 (far to the left of the dome)
- Z'ha'dum (episode)
- Divided Loyalties - Conjecture. Assumes Sigma wiped her memory after the Shadow Technology experiments and that Control was implanted around the same time.
- Babylon Squared
- Messages from Earth
- Point of No Return
- Severed Dreams
- Summoning Light
- The Needs of Earth
- The Path of Sorrows
- To the Ends of The Earth
- Between the Darkness and the Light
- Hidden Agendas
- End of the Line