MD #020: Operation Smokejumper PT2
MD #020: Operation Smokejumper PT2
Summary: En route to the main engagement area the marines roll through the countryside and then a village, their cultural exchange with the villagers does not go as planned.
Date: Sat 29/Apr/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs:
Clara Fischer Dropkickst Michael 
Miri Palermo Penta Randy 
Small village
Tue 14/Nov/2028 (IC Date)


Penta boards the LAV. "Yep. Sergeant, bring us to the local town hall," he offers. He has an idea, the smile on his face says.

"Been a while…" Fischer remarks, mostly to himself, as he makes his way into position on the LAV as well. "Drive safely," he remarks a bit lightly, as he finds a good place for himself.

Michael? Michael doesn't need to do any sightseeing. He's nestled square in a buncha marines in the middle of the Raptor, dwarfed by height and size with those annoyingly pointed ears occassionally poking up through his red hair, while he stares at the legs of the marines in front of him, running his fingers over the pack on his chest as everyone settles in for the landing trip.

Randy is carrying heavy this time around. She's carrying charges and is quickly zipping up her pack after final checks. Then she carefully shifts her pack and gets inside the LAV. "Make room…I really don't want these charges up on top." She's got her rifle with her and her sidearm strapped to her thigh for this trip.

With a tone to her voice that conveys both the adrenaline rush AND the absolute certainty of what she's doing, "Power windows, check. Heated and reclining seats, check. Play list, check," Palermo recites the options that are NOT on the list with a sidelong quick shot of a grin. "Weapons systems on line, sir," in a more serious tone of voice. "Road ahead has been mapped and plotted accordingly. Please keep all hands, heads, appendages and body parts inside the vehicle or ON the vehicle while the vehicle is in motion. Side seat or back seat drivers will be shot."

Clara pre-emptively sat up top, to make room for Randy and her demo kit and any other priority units. The view's better up there, anyway; getting the lay of the land is part of her reason for being on this mission. Her rifle's held loosely on her lap, eyes obscured by tinted shades.

"Weapons yellow-hold, Sergeant. Don't fire unless we've been fired upon," Penta replies, smiling at Palermo's easygoing approach. He's carrying a rifle and sidearm, but mostly packed light for this trip.

Moving out the LAV group drives across the field of wheat and crashes through a wooden fence by the road. They're kind enough to only crash through ONE section of fence, though, driving in a fairly neat line. Turrets pointed 20 degrees off their direction of travel, the vehicles bound down the cart road with a fairly commanding field of fire. They can't see the castle due to a low hill in the way, but they sure as hell can see the people staring at them. The citizens of this planet can see that the people landing are vaguely human - or human enough - under their heavy gear. Some of these people run for the security of their homes. Others are running towards the road as the LAVs approach. Nobody looks armed, though. Peasants, really. Women move with a trail of kids around them, their own eyes caught in shock at seeing long hair under some of those helmets. Woman Warriors? The LAV's are forced to slow down, though, because of the number of kids beginning to move towards the road. They might be here to fight but not a single driver wants to be responsible for running over a kid. Not with their mission here. But even inside the Marines can hear the peasants yelling at them, asking them what they are doing on Bominaire. Who are you? Are you going to hurt us? The kids just want to try and touch EVERYTHING and wave at the Marines.

"LAVs, halt. Folks, you were razer'd for a reason, get out and talk to these people. Remember, down here, we are not Colonial. We are Erfriki, and we're here to show them freedom," Penta reminds as he orders their response.

One other thing becomes very readily evident as they approach. These people are smaller than the Colonials. Maybe its the lack of nutrition or just the gravity and way the planet has evolved its own branch of humanity. They are shorter than the Colonials. They don't look like 'little people' as if it were a developmental issue, they literally just look shorter. The average height for the men seems to be around five and a half feet.

From her spot on top of the LAV, Miri grabs a few handfuls of candy and carefully climbs down to hang off of the side of the vehicle. She grins at the kids bold enough to approach the LAV, cheeks dimpling. "Hey there," she says in Bominaire, starting to hand out candy bars. She calls out to the parents, "Don't worry. This candy is good and safe. I'll eat one first if you want."

Randy tries hard not to rub her eyes. She's certainly not used to contacts, but she's a picture of her former self. Nothing to see here except another 'Erfriki' right? While riding along, she puts in her triple check that her head cam is on and recording. When she hears the approach of the peasants, she murmurs, "Chocolate time." She leaves her charges behind in the LAV and slips out to follow orders when she can. She's smiling and grabs her initial mixed bag of party favors they have for the civilians. "We're not here to hurt you," she says calmly. "We have stuff for you." The delicate phrasing of why they are there feels a bit out of her pay grade. She starts handing out MREs. "This is food."

Slowing to a halt as commanded, Palermo lets the LAV roll to a stop, the sound of the grass and terrain crunching under the weight of the vehicle is a background noise the idling sound of the engine once the LAV stops. She rolls the window down, hand crank, and keeps a weather eye on the surrounding terrain while eyeballing the natives and leans through the now open window to offer a friendly wave.

Clara swings down from the top compartment of the LAV, armed with MREs and bags of candy. She even has smiles for the children, one of whom she crouches down in front of and presses a packet of rations into the little girl's hands. The kid, wide-eyed, looks to her mother, who watches on with thinned lips.

Penta steps out of the LAV, carrying candy for the kids. In Bominaire, he speaks to them. "We're here to help you," he offers, "We're the Erfriki." He repeats that a few times as he hands out candy, watching carefully to make sure the bigger kids don't steal it from the little kids.

Moving off to help handing off some of that candy, Fischer makes sure to crouch a bit, so he doesn't look like too tall for these people. "Hello," he offers to the people, a smile offered to some of the kids as he hands them some of the candy. "Here. It's quite tasty," he offers, before he adds, "Nobody steal it from each other. Share instead."

Michael steps forward, glancing around at some of the other marines before he takes more of an initiative and steps out start handing candy out to children and offering a bit, bright little smile. Hey, he's even figure out how to wiggle his ears a little, which doesn't get quite the gleeful response he was hoping for, but just the same, he doesn't seem fazed, "Its good stuff.

The adults are trying to hold the children back but these new, giant people speak their language and are being friendly. A few of them look to Miri as she offers to eat something first. They clearly have no idea what the hell 'candy' is, though. Or these MRE kits. They heavy plastic packaging is touched and stroked as if trying to figure out what it might be or what it could contain. The men and women discuss it all in hushed tones, keeping wary eyes on the Marines. When the name 'Erfriki' is heard, it spreads like wildfire. Eyes go open in awe, faces looking less scared and more in wonderment. "They've come to fight the Gods," one man says to another. A small debate erupts, but it doesn't look like its about to get heated anytime soon. The people stare at the rifles, seeming to recognize what the guns are in some manner. Kids are given more leeway to move up and want to touch the Marines and their LAVs, smiling bigger. The little girls seem to crowd the female Marines, bombarding them with questions about if they can be Marines, too. There are more people approaching, though, from both directions on the road, even a small grou

Miri opens one of the candy bars, taking a bite to demonstrate. "It's food. Not a food you want to eat all the time, but a special treat. The bigger boxes are regular food. This, my friends, is chocolate," she explains, breaking off pieces and handing them around." She hops down from the LAV when the little girls start swarming her. "Hey, hey, one at a time," she laughs. "Erfriki girls can do anything Erfriki boys can do. Except for pee on walls. They have an advantage there."

"Marines, we have company approaching. Let's try to be diplomats, eh?" Penta says into his comms. "Weapons are yellow-hold, repeat yellow-hold." Then, he actually turns towards the group on horseback. "Greetings, kind sirs!" He greets in Bominaire. "We have come to see your King, and to introduce ourselves to his people!"

Still at the wheel of the LAV and listening to the engine idle, and because driving and maintaining command/control of the LAV is not just one of her jobs but it is right up there with making sure that everyone assigned to the LAV comes back in one piece (and not wanting to explain to maintenance how she broke it within one hour of actually being in the field), Palermo angles so that she can get a good look at the approaching riders. Also, not for nothing, letting the boss do the talking while she takes a nose count of the size of the riders and what they're armed with. A glance is equally spent toward the mingled crowd of villagers, crowd reactions and reaction times can be key.

"Yes," Clara's telling a young girl of perhaps eight or nine with serious eyes, "I fight. So can you, but when you're bigger." A pair of littler ones are tugging on her long braid, and she has the good grace to laugh. Sure, their primary mission is to 'liberate' the king, but being around children makes her happy. And likely reminds her of her own. "Erfriki, yes," she confirms with a nod, when yet another girl scurries over and whispers something in her ear. There's a flick of her eyes to the armed group on horseback, but she doesn't seem overly concerned. Yet.

Randy crouches to address the girls on their level, even the littlest ones. As she notices people starting to pet the pouches of food, Randy opens up some pasta with veggies and sets it on her knee. "They're good for you." She scoops up a bite with her fingertips and tries to wrangle the noodles into her mouth but it's really just a lost cause. "Like this," she slurps up a noodle and smiles. She looks just as happy as when Petra said they could level the castle. Then she gives the rest of the open pack to one of the girls to finish. "I already ate though so you guys are going to have to finish this for me." A couple of girls are already asking if she has any of that stuff the other Marines have…the chocolate. Randy is thankfully saved by Penta pointing out the incoming locals. "Go get one from her," Randy whispers and points to Clara before rising up to be more ready.

There's a brief look towards the approaching people, before Fischer looks back towards the children again. "Here," he offers to the children, before he stands up again, handing over some more of the candy. Looking to the new arrivals now, he studies them carefully, waiting to hear their answer.

Miri and Clara's words get yooooge dishplate eyes from the girls. Some are still in their early teens and start asking about how they can be Erfriki. They wanna be Erfriki. Now. Can they go with her? Please? The men and boys in the group don't seem as impressed with the answer and have probably come to enjoy their social position over the females. But just about everyone is getting distracted with chocolate and the big smiles its producing. Its hard to be mad when you're eating dark gold. A couple of the men lift their voices, "Why do you let your women fight? That is a man's work!" one of them calls. His tone doesn't seem to to be spoiling for a fight, he just doesn't know any better. Meanwhile the men on horseback approach and trot their horses closer, aiming to circle around. The gunners in the LAV's might be on overkill, but they are watching very closely. The leader of the band warily eyes Penta after he speaks up. If they looked even faced before, they no longer look pleased. Perhaps they don't share similar ideas of humor. Moving his horse closer to the group, but also being wary of the children, he looks at the armored vehicles, the guns, the way they are dressed, "You do not look as if this will be a friendly encounter with the King. I've not seen carriages like these before. Yet you speak Bominaire." This seems to be a concept he's familiar with. "What land do you hail from?"

Michael answers a couple of questions, stepping closer to the adults to offer some of the MREs and other supplies, at least, but holds off when the horse rider advances and addresses Penta specifically. Maybe the little medic reconsiders and instead simply offers to one of the men that asked why the women 'allowed' to fight. A soft snort escapes him before he calls out, "No one LETS them fight. They are good at it. Why would anyone want to stop them?"

Jotting down the nose count, including the actual horses in this count, Palermo tallies the figures in the notebook in her lap and speaks quietly over com to the gunners up top to make sure her count matches theirs. While the jawing is happening she's calculating useful things and absolutely not doing anything other than keeping her hands calm, steady, the engine in idle, everything on stand by.

"We can't take you with us today, but we'll be back to help you guys. That's why we're here. My name's Miri and I'm a medic. I promise, we're here to help you." Miri looks at all of the girls, some begging to leave with them, and her heart breaks. She is having a hard time imagining what life is like for them. She does hold back a grin at Michael's response, silently praying he doesn't end up having to explain his two-bio-moms thing.

Randy seems to be near Penta and Michael when the men speak up. She moves through the crowd of little girls to get to Michael and says something to him, whisper ever so softly for his sensitive ears without getting too close to look like she's whispering. "Tell them we're not from here. Just as they carry swords, we carry these. Only for protection of our King. King Penta. Then introduce him."

Penta speaks quickly. "I am but a herald of my King, sir. We are from a land beyond the sea. As you carry swords to protect yourselves, so we carry these."

Michael starts to say more and then Mom is whispering in his ear. There's a moment of a clear 'what the frak?' ripples across his face as he looks back at Randy, then at Penta, then back to Randy with a furrowed brow. But then Penta speaks up and the little redheaded corpsman relaxes.

Clara rolls Alertness: Great Success.
<FS3> Penta rolls Alertness: Good Success.

Keeping quiet as he watches the interaction now, Fischer studies the men rather carefully. A glance between the other, he lets out a bit of a breath as he hears Penta's words.

Clara darts her eyes toward the nearby murmured conversation going on between Randy and Michael, brow arching slightly at something. There's no other reaction from the woman as she pushes slowly to her feet, and hooks her thumb under her rifle's sling. The girls have mostly skittered back to their mothers, so her attention now solely rests on the men on horseback.

Michael's words to the men are listened to by /everyone/ there. The women and girls fall very silent. To hear a man say that about the women with them staggers the soul sideways. Daughters look to their fathers for their reactions. Wives look as well, then to their own sons. What will their own boys take away from this meeting? Will they grow up thinking a little differently? There's hope in those hearts and eyes. The men and boys don't seem so sure about all this, though. The girls around the female Marines seem to try to cling a little, by virtue of close proximity, even in silence. They want to leave with these people. But Penta's words are heard by everyone as well and the people around them physically recoil. The girls begin backing away very quickly. "You said you were Erfriki!" one of them shouts angrily. The man on the horseback looks to the shouted words and frowns deeply. He then looks back to Penta. "You come here as representatives from another province to meet our King? Farethewell." The guy seems to know exactly what the rifle is and doesn't even ask. They turn their horses and begin riding back the way they came. Meanwhile the people are dropping the gifted supplies and moving back to disperse quickly.

Well, shit. "OK, I blew that one," Penta mutters to himself. Then, "Everybody back aboard the LAVs!" Onward to the castle, then?

"Sir," Palermo speaks in a low voice, "if we untangle this now, we possibly avert a worse situation down the road. Gossip will spread faster than VD on liberty. Speak to the people again to let them know that what you said was about not starting a fight with those soldiers. We didn't want to risk them getting caught in the crossfire," she suggests in that same low voice. "Everything we do here, today, is going to lay the groundwork for the Arpay's ground team."

Michael sees the very same kids and people he was just speaking to suddenly shift nature and blinks, looking at Randy with a pointed expression. The Specialist is restraining himself, but its clear he wants to say something, as he looks down on the ground where all of the lovely things they bought are being discarded, then looks back at Randy meaningfully, in that way that only a child can glare. Mom, fix this.

Penta nods to Palermo. "Point well taken." And with that. "Turn on our loudspeaker, Sergeant, I'm going up top." Presume we have a loudspeaker. "People of $provincename! I must apologize for the deception!" He calls out once he's on top of the LAV. "I am indeed a herald. A herald of the Erfriki! But to say that to those men would have been far too dangerous for you, the people whom we have come to help!"

"Wait!" Miri calls out, overstepping her bounds, but desperate to try to save the situation. "He was just trying to use more familiar terms for you. You saw the ships we arrived in. We're not from Bominaire. We're Erfriki. The food is safe. The medicine is safe." She takes a few steps away from the vehicle, hands held out in a gesture of goodwill.

Flipping the appropriate switch, Palermo twist slightly so that she can observe the crowd better.

Fischer frowns a bit at what's happening now. Nodding a little as he hears Penta's words from the top of the LAV. Looking out to the crowd now, and then glancing back towards where the men on horseback left.

<FS3> Knox rolls 4: Failure.
<FS3> Knox rolls 4: Good Success.
<FS3> Knox rolls 4: Good Success.

About a solid third of the group ignores Penta's attempts to speak to them and continues walking, wanting nothing to do with the Marines anymore. Maybe they don't believe it, maybe they don't know what to believe. The rest stop moving away and look back, but they don't pick anything back up. All the goodies are left like trash on the ground. The girls that had been hanging around the female Marines look back to them like someone just clipped their wings, no longer sure they understand what to believe about what was said. "The Erfriki have no King! They rule themselves!" an obviously angered man barks back.

Flipping to a blank page on the little notebook that's in her lap, Palermo jots down a few key words and underlines a few sentences then climbs through the open door and attempts to discreetly pass the note to Penta. She also, briefly, lifts her helmet off and lets the breeze ruffle her hair, proving that not only is the driver of the big noisy machine a friendly sort, but also that the driver is absolutely not of the male persuasion. See? Women can do every damn thing men can do! Save for the peeing on the wall thing, but that's just a matter of atheticiscm and attention to detail.

Michael watches the reactions, then looks at Penta, then Randy then looks torn, then really, can't contain himself a bit and hisses at Penta, "Tell then, sir! We elect our leader, and if we doesn't do well for us, we fire them and get a new one?" His fists are clenched and the young corpsman is clearly on shaky ground, like he isn't sure he should have spoken up.

Grabbing the note, Penta continues, aided by it as he attempts to save matters. "Indeed we do rule ourselves, men and women alike vote! There are no slaves, no kings! If our leader is incompetent, we fire him and vote ourselves a new one! But if I had said that to those men, what do you think would have happened, sir? Anything but bloodshed?" Penta asks. "I lied to those soldiers so that they would not act against *you*, sir! I am en route to the castle to bring your 'king' to Justice for his crimes against you! You have been lied to, my friends! You are not alone in the universe, and let us be proof of that! We are here to help you…Help you fight! You can be free of the Machines if you fight alongside us! The Machines are not Gods, they are but mortal creations, and they can be defeated! They *WILL* be defeated!" If this works, Palermo earned herself a medal at least, a promotion maybe.

Clara watches on silently, dark eyes darting from Penta, to the now-departing townspeople, to Palermo and Miri. As usual, she doesn't offer her voice to the mix, though does relent to a little girl who runs in for one more hug before her mother pulls her away. A step is taken, closer to the nearest armed horseman, to put her evenly apace with Penta. As if to cement the fact that there is no gendered hierarchy amongst them.

From where she's standing, Palermo clears her throat at a bit of sudden stage apprehension but adds her voice to the mix. "The machines tell you that they're gods? They tell you that you can't have medicine. You can't learn to read or write? That the only power comes from them?" She lays one hand on the roof of the LAV, "This wasn't made by your machines. We made this, we built this. We, Erfriki, built this with our hands, our labor, men and women working side by side. The machines can't make this NOT be true. The food we share, the medicine we share, the truth is for you to see, to share."

Randy just looks back at Michael and shrugs, but as things start to go South, she glances to make sure she's aware of where all her comrades in arms are. She squints at something Penta says along the way, a few things he says along the way, but when he gives it his all, she keeps a straight face finally. She also looks as the little girls begin to drop the MREs, both out of self-preservation, and probably because their parents told them to do so. When Clara steps forward though, she does too.

Fischer nods as he hears wha's said by Penta and Palermo. Stepping forward a bit as well, but making sure to look non-threatening.

Miri takes a few more steps forward, visibly concerned about how this is panning out. "We know you're not stupid, despite some of our botched attempts to communicate," she tries, her deep voice projecting well. "We want to help you. We want you to have choices in your lives."

The crowd watches the Marines as they get passionate about things. Some of them look a little scared again, most of the men seem dubious. They aren't sure what to make of this turn. But the angry gent steps forward, "Those men on horseback protect the chirirgeon teams that come and help out sick and injured. They do not like the King." But the man doesn't seem sure enough of his surroundings to make a point about his own opinions. A lot of the rest of this is lost on the people. People mutter words like 'universe' and 'justice' and 'free' are whispered to each other, people obviously confused by these terms. They seem to have no place in the language as it currently exists. The girls are moved more into a group so the boys can put themselves in between. Palermo's points about building things get some surprise as well. Reading and writing? Building iron beasts? "You will give us choices? If you defeat the King you will simply leave us to rule ourselves? What of the royal family! You kill the King and his family will take his place!" the guy calls to Miri, getting a little flippant as he looks over her hips and face. The man's wife looks sullen by the attitude and turns her daughters away and begins to leave. If these are Erfriki then she can't bear the shame.

Penta smiles widely. "Who said we were here *just* for the King? We'll take out the whole rotten structure if you help us," Penta replies, hopping down from the LAV.

"We're killing the king, his family, and his court," Randy finally finds some of her voice, still there out on the ground facing them. "We've made assumptions…we shouldn't have. But that's what we're here to do. Give you back your land, your say, and allow you to govern and represent all people. Not just the few or those in favor."

Now that she's piped up and possibly screwed the pooch, Palermo retreats slightly behind the the fact that she's not wearing officer pins and just remains standing visibly so that she can offer a reassuring expression if anyone is looking in her direction. Where 'her' is used, she means equally the LAV, as it's not exactly inconsequential in size.

Clara frowns slightly when the boys begin to interpose themselves between the group of Colonials, and the girls that had been crowding around them earlier. She meets the eyes of the oldest, and the one who looks like he has some sway with the others, tugging her helmet off as if being able to see her face properly might soften his stance. But still, she doesn't speak. Enough voices piping up already.

Miri removes her helmet as well, her curly hair pulled back into a bun, her ears carefully tucked away. "We have medicine here. Even if you don't think we're worth the mud on your boots, at least take it so your children and elders can have a better shot at making it through the winter." She prays hard that this area /has/ a winter.

Fischer lets the others don the speaking for now, keeping his attention on the people, but also every once in a while at their surroundings. Listening to the others, he nods from time to time, but keeps his watch for now.

The crowd looks dubious at the intent to kill the whole royal family and his court. Some of them really do look scared by this point. Hearing a woman repeat the man's words brings some more disturbed looks as well. They clearly aren't used to hearing women say such things. "You're serious?" the angered man snorts to Penta and Randy. "I suppose we will see if there is any truth to anything you've said but you'll get no help from us until we kno whom you are. Perhaps you are invaders from another land who have heard the fireside tales of the Erfriki. Perhaps-" he's about to start shouting when Clara takes off her helmet. There's a single gasp and once more everyone takes a step back. "Cleric!" someone calls over the group and instantly each of them goes silent, struck with fear. One by one, the group of people goes to their knees and bows their head towards the Three. Nobody even has a chance to go for the medicine as Miri implores. The only sounds to be heard now come from an idling LAV and the gear the Marines wear.

Penta looks at the scene, mildly surprised. To say the least. "Waaaait. What do you all mean by 'cleric'?" He asks, very surprised.

"There's other Three's on planet?" Palermo wonders in a voice that is as much as murmur it into the helmet mic as anything else. Making sure to pitch her voice only loud enough - and just at the decibel required for the helmet mic to pick up her voice and no more - while watching the now-kneeling crowd with both fascination and wariness. Talk about seesaw emotions and crowd responses.

"For frak's sake, play it cool, sir. Clara just saved our asses," Miri hisses to Penta through clenched teeth. She holds her helmet to her hip, watching this scene unfold.

"Of course. Your caution is understandable." Randy's not afraid to disturb them a little bit, but she doesn't raise her voice to the man. Hey, if they pull it off, won't that be an even more powerful statement? Risky…but Randy's never really been 'safe' in the field. Just ask the Cleric. Cleric? Randy blinks when everyone starts to bow down in front of Clara. She can't really say anything into the radio that won't be heard by all the peasants. She just…swallows, and looks sidelong at Clara and Penta, clearly at a loss for what she should do.

Fischer blinks as he sees that reaction, looking around for a few moments, to study their surroundings, before looking to the others, but staying quiet.

Clara was.. not prepared for that. Her brow furrows a little at the whispered words, the shuffle of knees touching the ground in ripple-effect. Her eyes settle on Penta briefly, then turn to the man who had been talking moments ago. She lets the silence draw on for a short while longer, then swallows and murmurs, "I am no cleric." A breath, and then she tries again, louder: "I am no cleric. I am Erfriki. Descendant of the Piraeans, sworn protector of these people, and their children, and their children's children. We want to help, but time is running short. We need you to trust us. Will you, please?" There is quiet conviction in her voice; she doesn't have the air, so much, of a typical marine. Something different beats in her heart of hearts, but the grit is the same.

Taking a step away from the LAV, really the first time she's moved away from the LAV at all, Palermo moves up to stand behind Clara, and slightly to her right, and reaches out briefly to brush one gloved hand against her shoulder. She offers up a quick glimpse of a smile and subtle nod as silent support before she turns back to face the kneeling villagers, making the visible go-team image in the hope that it'll help.

The kneeled group barely moves while Clara speaks. There's absolutely zero reaction to anything that another Marines says or does. Not a thing. Its like someone has taken a cattle prod to these people and made sure they never disobeyed a 'cleric'. Her own denial of this fact, though, brings a significant surprise. A couple women lift their heads to look back at Clara. Sworn protector? A couple of the girls look up after their mothers do, but they stay on their knees. The interaction between female Marines is a sudden shock and they all gasp. The men get the hint and look up, too, staring at a Three and a normal person standing so close, willingly. Voluntarily! This proves to be too much for some folk. Then men gather their families suddenly and begin trying to herd them away as fast as they can. There is an edge of panic to the movements. But one woman stands her ground to her husband and tells him no. He reaches out and slaps her across the face and she goes to the ground. Several other women note it but carry on… until the woman gets back up and balls her fists. /That/ is what the other women notice. Resistance. Other women and teen girls among the group begin refusing to be pushed off and lead away. The men and boys look like they are about to have a massive fit and start throwing punches like wild men when the women and girls begin backing away towards the Marines and the packages left on the ground.

Randy listens to Clara. There's a faint smile that forms at Clara's words. She's so close she could touch the Three, but she doesn't. When the altercation starts to escalate, she doesn't advance towards the men….instead, she takes steps to the side, so that the women and girls can get between them, stand with them, or behind them if needs be. She says nothing, but the look on her face is of sincere concern, both for the men and women of Bominaire.

Miri plunks her helmet back on her head, unfastened, and gathers up armfuls of discarded supplies in an effort to help get them distributed again. She quietly thanks the women and girls, telling them that they are brave.

Penta looks perturbed. He didn't come here to start a revolution. Or a gender war. He came here to do a job. Go in, do the job, go away. "Okay," he mutters in barely-audible Colonial into his headset. "Any ideas on how to prevent this from screwing with why we're actually here?"

"Stop it. Stop it." The Three's voice doesn't naturally project like some, but there's something stirred up inside her at the sight of the men scrambling to keep the women under control, passing down the selfsame oppression they themselves have been dealt at the hands of the skath. And, by proxy she presumes, the 'clerics'. A twinge of horror touches her expression, just for a moment. "You may take the food and the medical supplies as you wish. They're yours. The women are not. They are their own people, as we are." Her fist touches her heart, perhaps wholly unconsciously. She seems like she wants to say more, but she's never had much of a way with words, and Palermo touches her shoulder about then. Her dark eyes shift to the woman, then back to the 'leader' of the townspeople. Penta's left, for now, to sort his quandary out without her help.

Fischer's eyes narrow as he sees what's happened now, and he looks about to start stepping forward as things starts to get out of hand. He only takes a few steps forward, before he comes to a stop again, watching carefully for now.

The women and girls move to Miri and begin gathering what they can carry. Aprons are held out to use as makeshift baskets in order to give more room to take the gifts with them. They look to Randy as well, wondering about the woman that looks so much like them. When Clara speaks up, though, the men look at her with confusion and anger. They have had it beaten into them to listen to every word a Three (and possibly other Lines) says. "Women have no place at the table of governance or rulership, for they are property," the man slings back at Clara. "You have said-so many times, Cleric! That exact line." Many of the men nod, looking angered and a touch confused. All of this seems to have started something between the men and women. But one of the teenage girls looks to Clara, eyes drawing up to her. "Please stop, cleric," she whispers, pleading a little. "If we cannot go with you then what of us after you leave?"

"Erfriki women, and men, share their strength. We do not own each other, nor do we consider each other property. Women," and she draws in a breath to add, "have as much place at the table of governance or rulership, as much place making decisions and defending, loving, protecting their families as the men in their families do." She searches the crowd for the men who were threatening the women, "True strength is through respect, through protection, through love; not harming each other." This said and all while fighting the instinct to march through the crowd and challenge the would-be wife beaters to try taking on someone their OWN size, there's a good amount of passion in her tone of voice.

"The Clerics are being manipulated. The ones you saw were indeed our comrade's sisters, but they are not themselves. They serve false Gods. They serve Machines, who are no more Gods than the scythes with which you harvest your fields or the carts your animals pull." Penta calls out, again from atop the LAV.

Maybe the best they can hope for is to plant a seed of doubt in the minds of these people. That's probably what's going through Clara's mind as she considers the man 'in charge'. "I understand," she tells him finally, holding up a hand to Palermo. A tiny shake of her head. Never mind she just threw up in her mouth a little at the notion that she might have said anything of the sort regarding women and their status as chattel. "We will leave you be." A glance, then, to Penta before she looks back to the shaken townspeople. "But we will speak again." She takes a step back toward the LAV, and there's nothing compassion and conviction in her voice as her helmet's pulled back on. There's so much more she wants to do here, but now's probably not the time.

Miri takes a sharp breath through her nose when Penta speaks again. She shakes her head a little, giving the women a small 'men, amirite?' quirk of her eyebrows before fixing her face and getting back to work.

Palermo subsides somewhat as she settles her helmet back in place and steps back up into the LAV, clearly the one /driving/ the machine. She leans through the open window and says, in as compassionate voice as she can, "We're here, to fight, for you. We won't forget you."

"Let's help them get what they can, and then go show them we mean what we say. We need to speak with our actions now," Randy suggests low into the radio as she moves back to the LAV to grab Miri some more medicine. She then hauls it over to the woman and starts helping her distribute.

The men seem to understand what the women are doing. The watch and begin pushing their families off and away from these people who said they were Erfriki. But they have a Claeric with them. They start hollaring at kids to move and the boys help herd the younger girls away, especially the ones looking over their shoulders. The grown women seem more intent on gathering up what they can to take with them and they turn to go without saying another word. Nobody says anything at all, not even eyes met for reply with what's relayed to them. Even as the Marines begin to load up, though, a group of half a dozen girls from about ten to fourteen stand together in silence and watch the female Marines. They don't smile, they don't speak nor meet eyes, they just watch. Anyone who looks at them can tell they know there isn't much choice in their futures. No rights, not even as a person. And here these Marines are something more. they just stare, aprons held out full of first aid kits, candy bars, and MRE pouches.

Miri fastens her helmet and climbs back onto the LAV reluctantly. She watches the girls, torn between anger and pity. She checks her gear and hangs on, getting ready for the vehicle to start moving.

Penta sighs. "LAVs, move out." He says into the mic on his headset. "We've done enough here." Enough damage? Enough help? Who knows?

Fischer frowns as he gets back into the LAV, muttering something under his breath.

Probably hanging out in Randy's shadow while the situation deteriorated, when the call to mount up happens, the little redheaded corpsman is only TOO happy to get the frak out of this situation and climb up onto the nearest LAV.

Clara hesitates in climbing back onto the LAV. One hand on the stabiliser bar, her rifle sticking up just behind her shoulder, and her dark eyes conflicted as she watches those girls standing there, watching them. Her hand loosens from the bar, then releases it entirely. A quick turn of her head to Penta. "You'll have to go on without me. I'll need whatever supplies you can spare, and a radio."

Penta looks at Clara as if she has gone completely insane. "What? Denied. If you get captured, we're all screwed. Get in the vehicle, Lieutenant, *now*."

Clara looks pained about it, but follows orders and reluctantly climbs back into the LAV. Something's really gnawing at her though, and she settles in up top with one arm curled around her rifle, dark eyes distant.

Miri reaches out to lay a hand on Clara's arm. She might not be right there with her, given the vastly different internal contexts, but she wants to help these girls, too.

Randy looks back at Clara, but her expression isn't really readable. Then it snaps to Penta and she climbs into the LAV.

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