MD #041: Operation Cold Forge PT1
MD #041: Operation Cold Forge PT1
Summary: Part 1 of Operation Cold Forge has all five marines successfully arrive on Calumet, making history for the longest HALO jump ever successfully executed - without fatalities.
Date: Fri 19/May/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs:
Clara Knox Miri Palermo Osiris 
They're traveling in a long arc towards a landmass, directly below them they cross the coastline nearly 38 miles beneath them. The planet has clouds everywhere in huge weather patterns that differ between black and white normal colors, though the low flashes of lightning they can see look vibrant pink and blue. The whole planet seems to be alive with bright colors except for the lush vegetation. Thankfully the area they seem to be arcing towards has a deep green color. It looks like they are going to be landing just before sunset. That means the assault is going to happen in the middle of the night.
Mon 04/Dec/2028 (IC Date)

The fleet made a tunneljump to a region distant from Calumet, but close enough for a Raptor to make a few jumps then into the atmosphere. The pilot wasn't quite comfortable with a distant jump and 'eyeballing' the intelligence of the location. So one extra jump situates them at the edge of the system and allows them to fix the planet. Bingo. One more jump. While the jump system charges, Cooper takes out his headphones and tucks them inside the suit. He gestures for everyone to check each others helmets for seal. The five Marines are packed into the Raptor bad enough that it nearly smashes the ECO against his panel.

"Comms check. Check check." Everyone should hear him crisply in their helmets. Once done, he personally checks Osiris' helmet to ensure the seal and flashes him a thumbs up. About that time the ECO says quietly over the comms, "Thirty seconds to jump. Recon package spinning up." Everyone can look at the ECO panel and see the screens comes alive with six additional cameras staring out into space. "Package online. Chief did some damned nice work." He flips through them as they start scanning the stars in seemingly random patterns.

"Master Arm, on. DRADIS off. Music off. We are a doorstop in the sky," the pilot calls over the comms. "Get ready to blow all the chaff and flares we've got on a count if something launches."

"Copy. Ten seconds," the ECO replies.

The tension in the air is thick, even inside their helmets. They have no idea what the weather will be like, not even what season or temperature it is. All they have is a point where they are supposed to meet their contacts outside the bunker in exactly forty-five minutes. That information is three weeks old. Will anyone even be there? Will they be dropping into a Skath basecamp? Will anyone even be left alive in the area?

"Jump!" The canopy glass flashes a bright blue and then fades to show a gorgeous glowing yellow and orange tinted atmosphere with blue rising from beneath. Green and pink auroras range across the poles and halfway to the equator. "On target at 200,000 feet! Holy shit! Mud spike! Two, three, five, eight, recon package is operating! Door coming open!" There's a lot of air defenses out there. To the side the Raptor door begins coming open and below they can see a huge sea of deep blue-green oceans and landmass to the west, the direction they are traveling.

Cooper leans out to look down and nods, then looks back. "Two second intervals. Just step off the wing and let gravity do the rest. I've got a pair of green chemlights on the back of my helmet. Just follow me. Good to go?" Coop looks like stone.

Miri has completed her ritual of checking her med kit. Everything is exactly where it should be. She blinks a few times, hoping her brown contact lenses won't dry out during the jump, and gives Coop a thumbs up. She's ready to throw herself out of a perfectly good Raptor.

Osiris is standing in the raptor, his head bowed slightly to ensure he doesn't bang his helmet on anything inside the cramped interior of the ship. He checks himself over before doing the same to Knox, his hands moving over the other soldier's suit to ensure every bit of body is covered rather than exposed to the open air. He takes a deep breath as the door comes open, his hands opening and closing with a bit of nervous energy.

Packed in like a sardine in a can of other well armed, suited up, oxygen carrying and consuming sardines, Palermo had done several checks of her kit and gear before suiting up and getting her helmet in place and sealed. No room for iffy gear, broken laces or anything that doesn't meet or exceed mission specific parameters. Having handed over her tags and making sure not to carry anything that's specifically marked CMC, she has one hand gripping a jump strap and the other curled on the strap of the kit worn over her shoulders and snugged low to her back. She gives a mild bounce, flexing her knees, toes wiggling inside the boots; adrenaline rush is real as she gives a thumbs-up to Knox as well.

Clara has been little more than a statue on the jump out. Her eyes come alive though once the hatch depressurisation alarm goes off. She unstraps herself and prepares to file out last, bringing up the rear.

Knox looks across at everyone and gives a satisfied nod. "Good stuff. Enjoy the ride. Express elevator, going down." He flickers a smile and turns and stoops to step out onto the wing. There isn't even enough atmosphere up at this altitude to tug at the flightsuit much. He just walks off the edge and slowly begins to sink away and drift towards the surface, opening up distance of about ten feet per second.

As he does, the ECO is still calling targets in their ears, "Package is on full auto. SAM launch! Three, four lifting off! Positions marked for bombardment! Frak me, radiological al-!" is the last thing they can really hear before the interference gets too be too much with the Raptor door coming closed. The crew jumps away after only half a minute in orbit. There's no sound, just a gently -whump- against the chest. Its only a momentary distraction as they Marines get a look up and see where they are heading.

They're traveling in a long arc towards a landmass, directly below them they cross the coastline nearly 38 miles beneath them. The planet has clouds everywhere in huge weather patterns that differ between black and white normal colors, though the low flashes of lightning they can see look vibrant pink and blue. The whole planet seems to be alive with bright colors except for the lush vegetation. Thankfully the area they seem to be arcing towards has a deep green color. It looks like they are going to be landing just before sunset. That means the assault is going to happen in the middle of the night. Well then!

Missiles pass them heading on skywards towards where the Raptor had been, all of them exploding harmlessly until the nuclear weapon goes off. The small ten kiloton SAM explodes in a bright flash fifteen miles behind them. It briefly heats their backs, but only a little. That probably puckered a few rears. It takes the breath away as everyone can look around at the six jumpers. They all begin rocketing down into the atmosphere and bust the sound barrier at 100,000, vapor comes flying off all of them but one, the one up just behind Knox. Diving straight at the ground, their ground speed is intense and they're heading right towards the mountain range that looks vaguely like the one they had seen in the recon photos, but there is a massive destroyed urban area spread out to the east of the landing area. It spans hundreds of square miles and there are dust clouds coming off random parts of it.

Cooper sticks out his arms to begin a braking maneuver at 10,000 feet and that's the signal. They open at 1800 feet. The altimeters unwind fast and Coop leads the way as they cross two thousand feet. He yanks the ripcord across his chest and the chute balloons.

Gods, this is beautiful and terrifying. The only thing that would make this better is a little music. Miri refrains from humming to herself, however, staying laser-focused on her descent and the people in front of her and behind her. When it's chute time, she pulls the ripcord, ready to get jerked upward in her harness. She never liked that part. At least her chute worked. That's a plus.

Clara is the last to jump, and the skinjob seems oddly serene about the whole thing. Her heart was pounding the whole trip out here, but a stillness comes over her as the tumble into atmosphere becomes a reality. She keeps her eyes on target, ignoring the missiles streaking toward the spot their raptor occupied moments ago; all that matters is that she pull her chute in time, and that they make it down in one piece. And for a moment there, her hand hesitates on the ripcord. Just for a heartbeat, like she considers just sailing right into the damn ground. And then a quick yank, the last balloon to jerk open and rapidly cut her rate of descent.

Osiris moves along in the line behind Miri. He glances over his shoulder toward Palermo, his eyes checking the woman over silently before he frowns slightly at something and turns back forward. His booted feet thunk on the Raptor deck as he heads for the open door, his head bowed until he steps through the doorway and onto the wing. He walks forward, looking downward to where the green flashing lights on Knox's helmet flash and falls away. He tucks his arms tight to his side as he dives, rapidly falling through the air. He curves his body to drift through the air, trying to dodge the missiles going skyward while he falls. Once it is time, he pulls his chute and takes the jerk and sudden slow fall.

Stepping out of the Raptor into a brief flirtation with infinity, Palermo likens this to stepping off of ledge, if the ledge where parked in the stratosphere. It's beautiful, mind blowing, and absolutely lethal in a 'make an impact crater' sort of way if anything goes wrong. Renee occupies her time in drop trying not to dwell on the industry standards for making parachutes, rip cords, backup chutes and other trivials that aren't so fascinating when already on the ground but absolutely fascinating while in transit. Seeing the signal from Knox, she immediately casts her arms and legs out, doing her best to add drag to her descent, air brakes, for the win, and yanks the ripcord when the time comes.

The chutes fully open at about 800 feet and its just enough time for them to steer, following Knox's chemlights on his helmet in the fading light. The mountains are already high up canyon walls as they descend, the Gunny flying them down towards a field that puts a thick treeline between them and a cleared road. Getting below thirty feet they can see that the grass looks very thick and soft, and -deep-. That becomes more apparent as they begin to touchdown, the field nearly four feet high with the overgrowth. Five jumpers flutter in, their chutes making them silent as they drift into the grass.

<OOC> Knox says, "Everyone roll Body+Body to stick the landing."
<FS3> Knox rolls Body+Body: Failure.
<FS3> Miri rolls Body+body: Good Success.
<FS3> Clara rolls Body+body: Failure.
<FS3> Osiris rolls Body+body: Good Success.
<FS3> Palermo rolls Body+Body: Success.

Knox was NOT expecting grass this deep. He flared a little too early and ends up hitting the ground and having to roll out, tumbling a little through the grass. Damnit. He immediately starts tugging in his chute and gathering it up. Once he has it packed up close to him, he strips off the helmet and takes a breath, stuffing the chute into his helmet like a poor mans stuffsack. Once done, he unhooks it and starts stripping off his gear. "Snake up. Full camo, every single inch of exposed skin," he whispers into their short-range comms. "Anyone says they are anything except Erfriki, I'll PT you by making you run home."

Osiris drifts down the last 800 feet, following those blinking green lights on the back of Knox's helmet like a beacon. The Corporal heads down toward the field, and just as his feet touch the four feet deep grass, he pulls down on the parachute guide lines, flaring the parachute to slow himself and he touches down with a gentle bump. He is at work almost instantly, his arms working to pull the chute down and begin folding it up. He is on his knees, stuffing the chute into it's bag and then is stripping off his helmet and gear. He doesn't bother pulling on his other equipment yet, kneeling in the deep grass bare chested while he begins smearing paint on his body. He says nothing, eyes peering with narrowed scrutiny over the top of the grass for any sign of danger.

Determined to stick the landing, Palermo remembers to slide across the thick grass to bleed off the forward speed while minimizing the impact over all. It's a bit of a landing-slide dance, touching heels first, slowly transferring weight onto back and side of legs, remembering to finish the flare at full arm extension and hold full flare position while sliding. She makes a bit of a furrow through the grass and she fights the urge to pop up and do a fist-bump at the sky. Instead, she gathers her chute up as quickly as she can, shucking herself out of the suit and pulling her body armor out of her kit and replacing the space in the kit with the suit (which she compacts down onto the bottom of the kit to re-pile everything on top of it in layers). A careful, sweeping, look is spared around as she gets out the tin of camo paint and works a swift pattern across her face, ears, the back of her neck and down below the neckline of her shirt before moving on to her arms. Her body armor is pulled on next, making a methodical process as efficient as possible, then gets her hands dirty on purpose while burying the tank in the dirt beneath the grass choked sod.

Knox is not the only one who has trouble with his footing on the landing. The Three clips the grass at an odd angle, skids on one hip for a few feet, and ends up tumbling a short distance as well. Her chute cables end up tangled around her, inducing some grousing as she tries to sort herself out and shed the flightsuit as quickly as possible. They don't have time to waste. Smears of brown and green paint are brushed onto her face, neck and arms rapidly, her hair left in a long braid. When she's done, helmet and gear are stuffed into her bag, and she begins digging a shallow hole for the oxygen tank. "Give your gear a quick check before we move out, and keep your eyes open," she instructs flatly. "We're on a short timeline to meet up with our contact, and we've got a bit of walking to do."

Given this jump, it was clear that Miri was born to fly. Or at least born to land. She hits the ground running and sheds her chute harness relatively easily, crouching down in the grass to take off her pack, strip out of her flight suit and get into her body armor. Ever the artist, after she camos up, she grabs handfuls of dirt and grass and rubs them on top for texture. Maybe also because she just wants to rub alien dirt on her face. Who knows? Either way, she buries her oxygen tank, makes sure her ears are tucked away, and slinks through the grass to make sure Knox and Clara are good after their rough landings.

Once they have their helmets off they can feel the cold air. It feels like late Fall, and given the alpine terrain, the trees all look similar to the evergreens they would see on the colonies. Its maybe a couple degrees above freezing. The air smells just a bit different, too, just a touch of ionization to it. Something that tingles the nose. Around them they can hear strange birds squawking and singing. In the skies overhead they can hear the distant sound of Raiders, miles away though they sound to be getting no closer. Everything else, while alien to what they can hear, is quite peaceful. Despite the high clouds, a few stray snowflakes drift across their vision. At the edge of the field is a group of five antlered wild animals about twice the size of a large dog, shoulders and heads just able to be seen over the grass.

Cooper gets dressed quickly and smears the green and brown paint over his face, neck, wrists, and anything else that might get exposed. He's fast about it, repacking and strapping the heavy ruck to his back effortlessly. The rifle comes up to his shoulder at the low ready, keeping his head just above grass level. A thumbs up is given to Miri as he moves to Clara. He knife edges towards the valley exit to the east. "We've got about a mile and a half to the meeting point. Keep parallel to the road and look for a destroyed white house with blue shutters. Thats the meeting point, sir. Its your show now."

Osiris finishes painting himself up, then is quick to pull out his body armor and replace it with his jump gear. Burying his tank in the dirt, he rises into a crouch and creeps through the tall grass with his weapons slung over his shoulders, hanging from the shoulder strap. The grass moves and parts as the large man moves through the undergrowth, until he gets to Knox and Clara's side. He is silent as he listens to the short briefing, then whispers into the short range comms, "Spreading out in a short range formation while crossing the field Sirs? Roughly five feet gaps?"

Once everything is settled in place, Palermo adjusts the tactical sling that's worn cross body, her rifle angled business end down and various other weaponry secured around and with at least one knife tucked into her boots, she is as ready as she is going to get. She moves through the tall grass as quietly as she can, getting closer to the rest of the team to make sure she can hear everything and eyes the herd animals for a moment, noting the general size and shape as background detail that may or may not be vital to remember later on. A glance is swept around, again, this time taking in the camo paint markings on everyone, just to make sure no one missed any vital spots. For the Caprican urbanite, seeing wild animals (and that doesn't count visiting Piraeus) usually necessitates a visit to a zoo. This is absolutely not a zoo.

Clara gives Knox a quick nod, shoulders her pack, and backs up a few steps before turning to take point on their patrol line. "Affirmative, Freeman," she speaks quietly into her radio. "Let's go. Keep the radio chatter to a minimum, and stay on script." And off she goes.

Miri falls into formation, positioning herself in the middle of one column. The antlered creatures get an eyebrow quirk, and she makes a note to remember them for later bar stories or inquiry. She shakes her head at Freeman, jerking her thumb to indicate his place in formation. She pulls her brown knit cap down a little farther on her head, wishing she'd thought to bring pins to secure it, just in case.

The movement and patrol to the house takes about twenty minutes of moving between treelines and alpine fields of the high grass. Coming to the edge of a treeline at the base of the mountains they can see the remains of a white house. The two story home looks like it was once a luxury residence. There's a large driveway with a very odd looking fountain, like their idea of art is pretty bizarre shapes slapped together. But the house looks to have burned heavily at some point and the exterior looks to have been shot to shit by some kind of heavy machinegun or maybe just a bit larger caliber. One the front and exposed side the jump team can see there are two shutters leaned against the side of the house - looking like they were rattlecan painted blue and left there. In one of the blown-out windows they can see the shape of a person looking out and scanning with something at their eyes that looks like binoculars, looking near the position of the Marines.

Cooper keeps fairly quiet as they move, mostly keeping his rifle up and ready for action. His bergen pack looks overloaded on his body, but he still moves fairly well. Luckily it doesn't look like its actually fully packed with weight, mostly just bulky. When they come to the treeline he takes a knee at seeing the house and turns to watch their six, scanning through his sights.

Osiris moves along as stealthily as he can, given his size. He holds his weapon at the ready, the butt coming to his shoulder warily as they come within sight of the house. Stalling as soon as Knox does, Osiris drops to one knee and keeps a lookout to the right. Only once everyone has gathered does he look back to the group and then to the house, curiously eyeing the perimeter and looking for any sign of a trap.

A few paces behind Miri and to one side, parallel to Osiris, Palermo continues for another few steps then eases to one knee in the grass, eyeing the terrain in a slow 180 from marine-zero though to the left, then back again. With Knox watching their six, Osiris's eyes on his half of the 'box' she takes her share of the box and notes the key features of the terrain, searching for other animals or tracks of any sort, anything obvious that would suggest that their path is rigged.

Clara moves cleanly and efficiently, showing no real sign of tiring at the brisk clip she's leading them on. She pauses when they reach the edge of the treeline and the somewhat ramshackle house. Two steps to the side, rifle up, but the muzzle isn't pointed directly at the blown-out window - even if her eyes are. With the other marines already doing their jobs and keeping eyes on the perimeter, she doesn't bother being redundant over the radio. Nor does she call out to the occupants of the house; she watches and she waits.

Moving softly and quietly, Miri takes a knee and keeps her hands on her rifle. Covered in dirt, grass and greasepaint, she isn't exactly the picture of an ambassador, but she figures she'll cross that bridge when they get to it. She waits for orders, keeping her head on a swivel and an eye on her people.

The figure in the window continues sweeping, looking right at their position then continues past it. Eventually the binoculars drop and the figure moves out of the window. The light is fading badly toward darkness and the temperature is starting to drop more, already below freezing. A breeze is hitting the tops of the trees. The figure has been missing for about two minutes when there is movement to their left, about forty meters away. A bush begins walking out of the treeline.. no, thats a ghillie suit and he's carrying a rather large-bore rifle with a boxed scope on the receiver. He moves at a crouch into the grassy field/lawn of the house and doesn't look back, he just points to their position and gestures for the team to follow him as he moves towards the house at a doublestep in the crouch.

Cooper see's nothing of this, just keeping his eye on the rear while his breath mists in the air under his nose.

"Contact," comes Palermo's voice over the com, just barely loud enough for the com to actually pick up her voice and transmit it properly. She tracks the path of the walking-bush-ghillie-suit and equally important the large-bore rifle as he/she/it moves in a crouch into/toward the house at a swift pace.

"Everyone on me. Keep your eyes open. Don't get separated." Clara flicks her eyes back to the window just once, then drifts forward, moving near soundlessly in the scrubby grass that borders the house. A few black-feathered birds are flushed from the nearby copse of trees as she makes for the house, with a hand gesture indicating that the others should follow.

Osiris' attention shifts around to regard the person in the ghillie suit as soon as Palermo's voice comes across the comms. He swings his weapon around to point forward as soon as the call to move out is given and he hustles along with them, careful to stay with the group while keeping a lookout.

Before Miri gets up, she grabs a smooth stone from the ground and sticks it in a pocket. She collects a rock from every planet she visits, and there was one just waiting for her. Quickly and warily, she follows Clara into the house.

The ghillie'd figure leads them around back of the house. When he gets to the corner, he stops and turns, facing back out towards the team coming at them. If there's an ambush on the other side, he's going to get himself shot to pieces. But that rifle with the huge muzzle brake and magazine is held low. "In the door behind me. Go to the basement." The accent is thick but very clearly Colonial language. It carries a heavier tone with harder consonants. Romance must be a bitch. But as the team follows directions, they enter the home and find it empty. Everything looks to have been looted, right down to the crown moulding. However, there are also very heavy blackout curtains on the windows. The house is nearly pitch black except for the light down a hall. Following it, they head down into the basement slowly, following the sound of voices speaking. Either the Skath can sound like humans or these are friendlies. Hopefully. They seem to be talking about a storm coming.

As they come down the stairs, everyone ceases conversation and turns to look. Ohhhh its warmer down here. There's a small generator in the corner that seems completely silent, but there are several heat lamps hooked up to it in this main entertainment area. There is also a small fire pit elevated over the concrete floor, but nothing burning at the moment. There's a table with people sitting at it, working on laptops that look ancient by Colonial standards. Its hard to make out what they are looking at. But there's three primary people standing by a closed door in the wall. Two of them are in a camo that works well for the environment above ground, but look more official rather than field troops. One looks to be in his late fifties, the next one in uniform in his early forties. There's a woman with them dressed in more civilian attire that looks like it would have fit well on Scorpia at the northern latitudes. All of them have an expectant look.

Osiris follows along, not speaking as they are told to head inside of the house and down into the basement. He keeps his weapon ready, in case those voices down in the basement turn and open fire on them. He gazes around face to face, eyeing each individual in turn.

Palermo is down the stairs a few paces behind Osiris in formation, rifle held at the ready though, again, business end aimed down at the ground and then the floor as they trek through the house, taking time to map the layout of the house and count the steps on the way down. Details. It's all about the details. Going down the steps in full gear is one thing, going up the steps again, in full gear, possibly while being shot at, and having to hump it at full speed, the number of steps would absolutely matter. She does her level best to project the facade of absolutely serious/professional while trying NOT to project the facade of ruthless trigger happy mercenary, just in case these people were expecting something resembling a happy medium - that's what she aims for.

Following down into the basement and getting a look at the setup, Miri looks as professional as one can get with schmutz stuck to her face. A small purple beetle crawls across the bridge of her nose and she tries to wriggle her nose and blow air from her mouth discreetly to get it off. The last thing she wants to do is raise her hands right now. She gives up, letting the insect do what it will. Hopefully it doesn't try to eat her eyeball.

Clara, still on point for the group of marines, does a quick visual check from the mouth of the basement before shifting her rifle into its sling and turning to give the others a nod. It looks safe enough to come down. The stairs creak softly as she steps off and into the room proper, skimming a second glance over the people with the laptops. But it's the three by the door that she's most interested in. Her dark eyes zero in on the Scorpian-looking woman, then the two men flanking her, and she offers in an even-toned voice: "We're looking for the representative of the Diplomatic Corps." Cut to the chase, they don't have the time to waste.

The woman is the first to respond when Clara requests the DC member. She stands a little taller and smiles. There's a doubletap of her heart. "It is good to meet you. I'm Doctor Magdelena Renard. You may call me Maggie if that's easier. Or Doctor. Whatever you prefer." There's a low smile there. "We were gambling a bit, wondering if anyone would show up. We were not so sure." She isn't Erfriki. She's from somewhere else. She looks Colonial, but the accent isn't. "You made it here just before the storm. Though we were expecting more of you. Many more. There has been some concern that there are only five of you." The eyes of everyone in the room have turned to look at them by this point. Everyone is in camouflage except for Maggie. "This is Commander Emery," she gesture to the older gent, "and Colonel Mayfair. Emery is in charge here."

Clearly nobody in the room has seen the double-tapped heart greeting because it looks completely foreign to them. Emery tries to mimic it as best he can, reminding the rest about the first time they ever saw it and tried to mimic it. "It is good to meet you. You are the ones we have been told about? The Erfriki? Those who fight the Machines successfully?" He seems wary, unsure about who he is talking to. One of the women working at the table is eyeing Osiris with a little smile.

Cooper clunks down the stairs and takes up a position to the side, standing by one of the Calumeti soldiers where he can keep an eye on everything. And be ready to snap the guy's neck in half a second.

Miri nudges Osiris, gesturing subtly with her chin to the woman checking him out. She finally dares to reach up to her face to brush the beetle away. She nods a bit when Emery asks if they are Erfriki, but waits for Coop and Clara before beginning introductions.

Osiris stands at attention, his shoulders squared and his back straight, eyes shifting from one person to the next. He does not say anything, but like Knox seems to just be keeping an eye on things. He listens closely as the Doctor talks, but as he is not being addressed he does not speak. He catches the look from the woman eyeing him and he looks back, offering the woman a brief tip of his head and the slight lift of the right corner of his mouth into a half grin.

Palermo exhales a breath as the first words from the Doctor are ones of welcome instead of 'hello, thank you for walking into our trap'. She angles subtly so that she can study the scope of the room, fixing names to faces and angles her head slightly as she puzzles through the odd accent. She's seen the doubletap salute before, her eyes widening just a wee bit before she carefully schools her expression back into that professional-neutral look that she's aiming for. She does, however, eye the laptops that some of their people are using then turns in a slow circle hunting for the cords or hub that those laptops could be connected to, or not, conversely, idly itching at a fleck of paint on the curve of one ear.

"Yes," Clara confirms simply, with a sweep of her gaze to Emery, and a brief pause to consider him. There's a respectful nod. Mayfair, too, is given due acknowledgement, but it's Maggie that has most of her attention. "I'm Lieutenant Clara Piers. Gunnery Sergeant Cooper Knox, Ensign Miri Zahav, Sergeant Renee Palermo and Corporal Osiris Freeman is the big guy in the corner. We are the Erfriki, and there are many more of us waiting on our ships in orbit. But you've gotta deal with us first. We need to confirm what's in that bunker before we can move our people in." There's no flirting from her, if even the stone cold Three is capable of such.

Underneath the grease, dirt and grass, Miri gives a dimpled smile. She knows it's not really military bearing, but the orders were to win hearts and minds and not seem like they were a bunch of ruthless killers. Killers, yes. Ruthless, no. She bows her head a little when Clara names her, indicating which she is. "I'm medical, in case there's anything I can help you with in the short time we're here, Doctor."

The look from Osiris to the woman has her give a litle more playful grin back at him. She waggles her fingers in a wave, but keeps it low key. Yep, she's a fan, leaning over to whisper something to the guy beside her. Meanwhile Clara replies and everyone else in the room seems on pins and needles waiting for that answer. When Clara finishes there is a collective sigh of relief from everyone in the room and a few people start clapping. A couple people to the side hug and the Commander and Colonel lock arms, grinning at each other, hands gripping high on the forearm as a sort of handshake. Maggie just smiles happily and looks around the room, then back to Clara and the other Marines. "It is a VERY momentous moment for the Calumeti people. There have been rumors for years. People all over have been praying for your arrival. There is immense hope in this moment." Everyone in the basement is grinning from ear to ear and the Commander reaches, offering to shake Clara's arm similarly to how he grasped. The others get up too, looking to come over and meet these people that they have heard legends about. To Clara, Emery gives her a solid nod. "Let us show you to the bunker. It is a bit of a mess. We do not have time to clean."

Knox was not expecting people to want to shake his hand. Or arm. The guy beside him just grins at him and nudges his shoulder while another person wants to grip his glove and arm. "Yeah, good to meet you." He can't help a bit of a chuckle. "Gunnery Sergeant Knox. Glad to be here." He glances to Clara, though, waiting for an exit.

Seeing the looks on the faces of those in the room, Palermo's expression relaxes into a smile, studying the faces and expressions of the people in the room, listening intently to the odd accent and inflection. She is careful to police her weapon, of course, a handshake/arm-shake doesn't have to a case of 'tucking to the side' unless the other party is similarly armed but she is mindful to keep one hand on her rifle and it aimed down, safety on, all the same. She offers her name in exchange when ever greeted, blue eyes the only color on her face that isn't mud and green and other shades of dirt.

Osiris' eyes are suddenly wide as people begin to clap and smile at him, reach toward him to shake his hand/arm. He holds tight to his weapon with one hand, reaching out with his right to grasp the arm of a fellow that comes to introduce themselves. He does not speak though, as soon enough the bunker is mentioned and he glances around to see if they are moving out. The girl with the playful wave earns herself another look from the Heavy Weapons marine, along with a curious lift of his brow as she begins to say something to the man beside her.

Clara isn't really the shaking hands sort, but she forces a small smile for the Commander, meets his eyes, and clasps his arm in turn. She's a bit of a sight at the moment, in her face paint and gear. "A promise made is a promise kept," she tells Maggie. Her voice is soft, but there's gravity to her words. Backing up a step, she turns to Emery with a nod. "Let's get moving, then. Cooper has a portable radio we'd like one of your men to carry, in case we need to coordinate out there." She's already moving for the stairs.

Emery lets go of the arm and the people in the basement begin to give some space, talking quickly with each other. There's a lot of high, positive energy here. The one woman grins at Osiris and waggles her brow at him before hugging and giving a quick kiss to his cheek, then demuring back to her chair. Mayfair speaks next, "We all know what this is. You have a job to do," he says, sounding more serious suddenly. "The Machines will not stop for anyone, nor will the Clerics. Back to work. You can talk when we evacuate." Back to the Marines, he mutters apologies about professionalism and moves to the door. Meanwhile Emery gestures for them to follow as the door opens. It leads to another room where the wall of the basement has been blown out and a tunnel leads them into the mountainside. Maggie follows behind, Mayfair staying behind.

"I will do my best to not assail you with appreciation. Our situation is critical. We have moved about half of the equipment that we need to and the first snow of the season will be here in a few hours. It will be thick. We have been able to move our equipment out on the road, away from the approaching Machines, but once the snow arrives there will be no way to hide the marks in the snow. Our back is against the wall. I may be in command but these are not professional soldiers, just volunteers. Many wish to stay and fight, based on the hope that you all would come. We are in the process of attempting to evacuate but there is resistance to the idea." He talks over his shoulder as he leads them through the tunnel. No armed escort? There must be a huge amount of faith in the landing team. "But were able to persuade the families to evacuate their children and those who cannot help in the process. It has been a very hard month on all of us. Your arrival bodes well for the swell of hope in those who have survived so far, but it also complicates matters for me to evacuate. I hope you understand this."

Cooper unpacks one of the small radio sets from his ruck and hands it off to Mayfair. "Its charged, sir. Just use it if you need to talk to me or my team. I'm Mike-Six-Four. I've already got it preset to my frequency." He doesn't linger, following his orders to not let themselves get separated. He brings up the rear with the DC member.

Osiris blinks a bit in surprise as the woman throws a hug and kiss on him, but he doesn't have much time to react as the group is suddenly leaving. He follows along with the rest, listening to what is being said without voicing anything himself.

A curious glance is sent at the walls, floor and ceiling of the tunnel that they're navigating through, listening intently to the intel that Emery relays to Piers and the rest of the team. Her list of questions is growing, but she files some of them for 'wait and see' and asks only: "We understand, Sir," Palermo chimes in from where she is in the group. "Getting your children and your dependent's out of the way of danger is absolutely vital. Those who can't fight," she doesn't outline what this category entails, "need to evacuate as swiftly as they can. Your people are not the land or their homes or their belongings, the heart of your people reside in the number of lives that you can save by evacuating as many as you can." This said as she continues glancing around before she wonders: "Sir, how long have you been evacuating the bunker? And how far away is your supply depot that you're evacuating the contents to?" is wondered as she matches her stride to the pace of the group at large. "What does your fuel supply look like?"

Clara nods along as Emery explains the situation. With her rifle and her pack, the slight marine takes up a fair bit more space than she otherwise would; her boots hit the floor with a dull thud as she trails along not far from Emery's six. "I understand. We'll do our best to expedite things, then." Knox she leaves to do his thing, though thinks to add, "We may need your forces to reposition and flank from the northwest, if our assault team runs into trouble. We won't know until we get them in there, and start moving the equipment out." She falls silent then as Palermo pipes up with a few questions of her own.

Miri laughs when Osiris wins the heart and mind of that young woman. "Damn, Freeman, damn," she says softly with a grin. Her face grows more serious as she listens to Emery, and she speaks up. "What sort of things could we do to support you, outside of military firepower?"

The commander listens to Palermo and slows his walk. This tunnel looks like it was cut by miners in a hurry, but improved over time. The Commander does stop, though, and looks back to Palermo. "That is exactly what I have tried to tell them. We need people to survive in order to carry the fight. Throwing themselves on an alter like this is wasteful. The spirit of defiance is more important." It brings a smile to Emery's tired face. That's something he needed to hear. The guy continues walking them down the tunnel as it begins a slow rise. "We've been evacuating the bunker for about three months. A lot of what was here was old and had not been serviced in twenty years. Much of the first month was spent trying to figure out what we could get running and what was to be salvage. Underneath the bunker is a large fuel system we have been tapping and attempting to move. We have more fuel than we can move, but it will be lost with the bunker." He then looks to Clara as they approach an exit to the tunnel. Beyond, it looks like a well-lit bunker area with sounds of tools and people shouting. Like approaching the Deck on Orion. "You want to use this equipment? It is old. But… we may be able to help with some sort of force. …Especially if you intend to land large numbers of troops!" There's a bit of a laugh. "How long do we have? How many days?"

Miri is answered as they stoop through the doorway into the bunker proper. At the entrance hole they can't see much. There's a dividing wall between them, like they entered into a bay about twenty yards wide by forty yard deep. The ceiling overhead is about twenty feet up and looks to have an old crane system installed. The concrete on the floor has marks where it looks like tanks or some kind of treaded vehicles had been moved. "It depends on what you are offering, Ensign. We are in bad need of many things. Water purification, medical supplies, the list is endless and changes upon whom you speak with. I'm stuck managing both refugees and the volunteer militia in this area. But people will fight harder and longer if they know their families are safe, they have food in their stomachs, and ammunition to shoot. Anything else is secondary."

<FS3> Palermo rolls Alertness: Good Success.

The marks on the ground indicate that there were some heavy tanks parked here where they are standing. Probably four of them if the Calumeti tanks are close to the same size as Colonial. There's a lot of grease stains on the ground that look recent, too, and the crane overhead looks like it has been used. Its the type of thing used to pull an engine out of a tank to be worked on. …His fuel thing sounds plausible, but that's a fucking LOT of fuel. This place is lit up which means somehow they not only have enough fuel to top off the vehicles here, but also run some very serious generators.

As they walk, Osiris gazes down at himself, his hands lifting to pat himself as he walks cautiously. He does it so as not to draw any attention from their guide, but he is obviously attempting to check himself for anything that the woman that hugged him may have stuck to him. As they are led into the bunker, Osiris glances around, carefully marking the equipment while patting himself down.

Clara looks thoughtful at some of what's said, particularly on the subject of medical supplies and water purification. Those are things they can help with. "We'll see what we can do," she replies, low-voiced. Her pace slows as they come to the mouth of the bunker, and she glances up at the crane. How long do they have? "Four hours and counting," she answers. There's a glance back to Palermo. "What do you make of this, Sarge?"

Miri nods in acknowledgement and understanding when their needs are outlined. "We'll let the folks upstairs know and we'll do our best to help you out." The medic self-consciously tugs on her knit cap as they walk.

Wiping at another smudge of the camo paint, Palermo shares a nod with the commander, both recognizing the reality in his words and feeling a healthy dose of empathy for him and his people in light of what they are collectively facing. She files away the data that is gathered just from his words alone, but also - in those curious glances around that she is making every step of the way - notes the marks on the ground that resemble the sort of imprint she'd see from tank treds or heavy wheels, making a silent 'nose' count for the imprints. She casually drags the toe of one boot through the grease stains on the ground, seeing more and more of them as they continue to walk and a sweeping glance up spots the heavy duty crane that's overhead. She makes a thoughtful sound that doesn't carry all that far while, equally silent, speculating about the actual size of the fuel reserve and eyeing all the lights that are on. Literally. The embodiment of 'leaving all the lights on' and 'burning through the fuel' leaps to mind. "I'd be happy to take a look at the equipment that you have, old doesn't necessarily mean it's beyond use or repair. Built in obsolescence isn't a guaranteed factor, though 20 odd years of sitting without a proper clockwork of a maintenance schedule, rotation and upkeep, can do as much damage as constant wear and tear," one hand absently looped through the shoulder strap of the pack she's carrying, the other resting - fingertips tapping - against the rifle she's carrying. "That crane," and she eases forward a few steps so that she can tip her head back to get a better look at it, "is it in good working order? And if it isn't, do you have the parts in storage that could be used to make it so? It could make a big difference if we have to crate and stack and roll out, if you're not using it for that already, that is."

Emery chuckles. "Four hours. You want me to mount a potential offensive and counterattack in four hours? I hope that's a joke. These people have been working or sleeping for the last two months." The expression falls a little. Clara is serious. "Your people are going to be landing in a snowstorm." Which will be all sorts of fun. "If we stop our work right now, I can get people rested. But.. you intend to fight in that? The Machines will be on us in two or three days. Less if we move anything out." He seems dumbfounded, but something is really setting in. "My God, you people really are Erfriki." He shakes his head and continues walking, leading them out of the bay and further in. That's when they really get the full extent of the bunker.

It looks a lot like a hangar deck on the Orion with individual blast doors to section areas off in case of fire. But it just keeps going. They can see the end of it, barely, maybe three quarters of a mile deep. There are endless bays for storage and they can see which ones are set aside for salvaging. One has a tank that's been stripped down of everything except the base, looking like an armored bathtub with no wheels. There's a line of four tanks and six trucks slowly making their way up towards them, the covers off the rear of the trucks but all covered in some kind of netting. The continue past with a minor oggling from the people visible. Turning, they can see why they are moving past. The northern evac route's door isn't far behind them. The massive armored doors are closed but look like they were never meant to move. "You can look at the stuff we have, just don't interrupt the crews. I'm guessing you've seen armor before if you're asking about that crane. But I have no idea if it works. You'd have to ask one of the maintenance chiefs. I don't have a clue. ..Palermo, right? Sorry. A lot of names and I already have a lot to remember.

They pass by a group of four soldiers, armed and in body armor, who salute the commander as they approach. Emery returns it deftly.

<FS3> Miri rolls Alertness: Great Success.

<OOC> Knox says, "Each of these are to spot whether or not these people spot the Six and Three."
<FS3> Knox rolls 1: Failure.
<FS3> Knox rolls 1: Failure.
<FS3> Knox rolls 1: Failure.

Clara turns her gaze back on Emery, expression mild behind all the camo paint and sweat and wisps of dark hair that have escaped her best efforts to tie them back and out of her face. Yep, she's serious. "Knox, why don't we see what we've got for a mobile comsat? Lieutenant Flynn and the wing might want to know what conditions they're gonna be dealing with down here." She keeps those dark, dark eyes on the Commander. "Set up a shift schedule. Get your people rested as well as you can, but we need to step up the removal of this equipment." His dumbfounded look is met by the complete and utter lack of anything resembling distress. There's even a faint smile as the Three turns and continues following him into the bunker proper.

Miri trots up to Clara and Cooper. She speaks softly, hopefully so the Calumeti soldiers can't hear her. "These people are starving. If I had my way, they'd all be in a hospital bed with IV fluids and vitamins. Getting them fed and rested should be a priority."

Cooper eyeballs the soldiers as they pass, looking over their gear, then back to Clara. "No can do, sir. There's no way to punch a signal through atmo. They won't know what they are looking at until they are in orbit and see the weather themselves. Its gonna be interesting, sir." That's one way to put it. He watches the trucks and tanks pass, too, looking them over. "Best I can do is radio them on their way down when they call for me, el-tee." He takes a breath. "And if they are coming, sir, I need to be at the LZ. No question. If there's nobody there then I can't promise what they will do, sir." Miri coming up to him gives him pause and he stops, looking

Palermo's expression, for all that she really IS a professional, takes on a look that is best described as 'gobsmacked' when she gets a real look at the sheer scope of the bunker. The look in her eyes, while the rest of her expression remains gobsmacked, shows that she's doing the best she can at making a visual assessment of what they're seeing as they continue forward. She turns slight, focusing - deliberately - on Emery so that she stops gaping at the rest of the bunker. "Yes sir, Renee Palermo, Sergeant," she adds with a smile that helps ease back the gobsmacked look somewhat. She angles her head slightly to listen to Piers, then Knox and Zahav but she does answer Emery's question, "Aye, sir, that I have. What I'll need to do is get a look at the LAV's that you have that are in or near working order, any tanks that you have to spare that are ready to roll with ammo. If you could point me in the direction of your maintenance chief, perhaps he and I could have a productive conversation along those lines," she offers, sounding both seriously determined and downright enthusiastic at the same time.

Emery looks at Clara while she 'advises' him. He's years her senior, in age and rank. But the guy looks like he is listening. "Right, okay, I'll get on it. If that's the case I have a lot to do. Uh, Sergeant Palermo, just.. do whatever. I need to go." The Commander turns and begins trotting off at a brisk pace, shouting for a Chief Somethingorother.

<FS3> Knox rolls Alertness: Great Success. Knox rolls for Osiris

"Understood," Clara tells Knox, a small frown as he mentions the comsat is a no go. They'll have to make do without it, which is far less than ideal. "Hopefully their backseaters are on the ball," she remarks, looking over her shoulder when Miri approaches. "It should be," she agrees, clearly not happy at all with her next words, "but we can't spare the time or resources right now, if we're going to get this equipment out of here before we're overrun. Can you triage the most immediate cases and pass out rations? We've all brought extra." She begins slinging her pack off, and speaks just before Emery trots off, "Sir.." Assuming he pauses long enough for her to continue: "Thank you." Diplomacy is not her strong suit. Whoever picked her for mission commander must have been smoking something good.

Cooper watches the Commander trot off, then shrugs off his bag. He opens up the side pockets and brings out a handful of energy and candybars. Its offered up to Miri. "I don't need to eat for a few days, sir. I had a big breakfast." He closes up the pack and brings it back to his shoulders before looking to Clara. "Yeah, I hope so. But I've got IR strobes. I can mark an LZ with them. Its about the best we can do. I'm not sure how many layers of cloud they are going to penetrate. But if its about to start shitting snow, el-tee, I need to get hoofing real soon. Their LZ is back out the way we came and I need to clear it before things start getting thick."

"I wish Emery hadn't just frakked off, because I think it would be better if one of their officers distributed these rations instead of us. It'll probably make it seem more fair to them." With that, Miri heads off in search of someone who looks like they're in charge down here.

Once Emery is out of hearing range, Palermo rubs her hands together in a brisk gesture as she focuses. "Right. So." She speaks in a low voice but makes sure that the other four can hear her well enough. "First, they have a frak lot of stuff in here that they're going to have to leave behind. No matter how fast they work, they're not going to get it all. Secondly, the fuel cache they're pulling from is either as massive as they've alluded too or they're literally pissing through it as an alarming rate and it'll go any time. My money is on the first, to be clear. The heavy tread marks show that they've been moving tanks, not just the ones that are currently in motion, so they've got at least three maybe more moved off somewhere, which hopefully is to their staging ground. If they've been working at this pace for 3 months and there's still a frak ton of stuff in here, then either their fall back location is just as crammed with stuff OR they just started this show in the last couple days to make it look good. Considering how the people look," and she makes a grimace at that, "it's either the best case or the worse case scenario. I really need to get my hands on those LAV's and any tanks they're willing to spare and check out their munition supply to know what we can load and make use of." Then looks at Zahav with a flash of panic, "We're not supposed to split up."

Clara nods to Knox. "If the LZ is a no go, we're gonna need to mark the secondary site instead. You go when you need to go. I've got a radio, stay in touch in case plans change." She turns back to Palermo as the woman approaches, and keeps half an eye on Miri while the woman speaks. "Just keep in mind, the mission is to get this shit out of here. Not lay claim to any of it. Do you think they're lying about working on this for three months? Can you work on prioritising what's in here, so we focus on moving the high value stuff before the Skath get here?"

"Aye, sir." Cooper says it quick in reply. "I'll be in contact, let you know how it goes. Radio comms in here are going to be shit, though. We're under a mountain. I'll do what I can." He takes a step back, eyeing the two women. "Sergeant Palermo, if the el-tee gets found out, you are to come find me right away. I don't care how." He then turns and moves off back the way they came. Yep, splitting up. Too much ground to cover.

"Aye, Gunny," Palermo answers promptly, shifting between conversation tracks, her tone and expression entirely, deadly, serious, "will do." Before she glances back to Piers and answers the questions she's been asked, "If they haven't been working no stop for three months on emptying out this bunker, why do these people look like they've been over worked, and under fed, enough to look like this?" Palermo answer is a question in and of itself. "And the only way to know is to figure out how to casually draw those answers out without making it sound like we're accusing them of something nefarious or duplicitous." She bites at her lower lip as she looks around even as she's nodding, "Well, none of it will fit in my backpack anyway, so I won't bring any of it home, sir," she replies with only the second smile she's worn since getting to the bunker. "Yeah, I'll make a list of what can actually be used and get it moving in the right direction, presuming that their chief will let me do so."

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