MD #031: Policies And Principles
MD #031: Policies And Principles
Summary: Penta, Petra, and Samtara gather to hash out a first contact policy for the Marines - and wind up debating principles.
Date: 9/5/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs:
Petra Samtara Penta Mara 
Map Room
Dominating the room is the large bottom-lit map table in the very center. Ten feet across and eight feet the other way, the table can gather a large number of people around it while still accommodating enlisted and support personnel in the small riser seating behind the table. The table has the most updated holographic capability and can project the largest displays on the ship. The risers to the sides are done in single-piece desk sections that run the width of the seating area and have large LCD touch displays built into them along with communications ports for headphones. At the head of the room are two very large LED touch displays that can have almost anything put on them, including projections of what is on the map table. In the rear of the room is a large, locked case that holds updated maps and table models.
24 Nov 2028

Carrying with her a tablet, and her own mug to use for coffee upon arrival, Sam makes her way into the map room that holds the ghost of Elias's cigarette smoke. She skims a thoughtful look around the room then heads toward the coffee maker, regulation or not this room always has a coffee maker, and avails herself of the caffeine top off before taking a seat at the table and thumbing the display on her tablet to life to begin reviewing her own notes.

Petra might, MIGHT be taking it a little easy today. OMG, his vest isn't buttoned up all the way. At least he has no hair to have out of place. When Sam walks in, he merely glances up from the map table and the scattering of papers and his datapad, and murmurs, "Sam. I take it everything is at least relatively smooth on your end of the boat at the moment?"

Penta walks in at this point - like Petra, he's also taking it easy (sort of); he's in greens, and looking positively informal. "Sir, Doctor," he greets quietly. Under his left arm is a red binder, thick with all the paper documents he has a copy of regarding Calumet.

Mara is present with a cup of coffee and her datapad, looking squared away as always. She's quiet and watchful, here to observe and offer input should it be required. She's got her datapad and her notepad and she's busy scanning the screen in front of her and making random notes. She doesn't even look up from her notemaking except for a quick glance and then back to her notes.

"Much as I would like to say that stuff is on fire and people are running amok, with scissors," Sam replies as she turns a smile at Marcus that is amused, "I can only report status normal." She shares the same smile with Penta as he arrives, "John," said with a cordial nod and another aimed around to Mara who is, at least on the surface and first glance wise, apparently calm and hard at work.

Petra smirks faintly at Samtara's comment, "I would be concerned if you were allowing that level of chaos in your Sickbay, but good to hear." He shifts his attention to glance at Mara, but then looks over at Penta, "Evening…" Is it evening? He straightens up a bit and rolls his neck, "I was just exchanging a few words with Air Wing about how to get your folks on the ground without advertising to anyone watching…where you are going. Still working on it."

"Yeah, I'm a little annoyed we have basically no chance for recon or really any intel-gathering before we deploy, to say the least, sir." Penta says this with a weary smile that belies the fact that he's nearly 50 but still looks like he's in his 20s. "I hate going in blind, but this is about a different topic. Namely…First Contact policy. Prior to now, the Marines have had no such thing. Bominaire taught me I need to devise guidelines for my troops on the matter, and do it quick, because I had basically everybody go off-script at least once."

"I find I rather agree, on all topics of conversation thus far," Sam replies and curls both hands around the mug of coffee cooling on the table in front of her. "Both the fact that it's vital to get our personnel on the ground without getting shot down navigating a gravity well and the dearth of data relating to same, but also needing to establish some clearly defined first contact protocol. We haven't needed it, before, precisely, in a codified and linear - outlined - manner. We met the Arpay under what could only be kindly called extraordinary circumstances. The lines, again, we seeded into our population and we were not fully aware of their point of origin, thus negating the opportunity for a first contact situation in the first place. The beings that reside, in a form that is not strictly tethered to our precise plane of existence, on Piraeus that is, are another distinction all together. The fact is, we haven't needed protocol, and now we do. So it's up to us to figure it out, make it actually work. History, will judge us on how well we make this work."

Petra mmms, "Well, we're working on the getting you on the ground without being pinpointed, so lets deal with the second. Representing ourselves when we ARE on the ground. I'm assuming one of you two has a suggestion already to build off of, or are we working this out from square one?" He swipes his hand across his datapad, clearing the screen to draw up a new notes window, and actually makes an effort to straighten up his scattering of papers, "We hadn't really spelled this out specifically before now, and if you're going to be on the ground for a while, then yes, its a good idea we have a Plan."

"We're working this from square one, sir. Even for short visits…If we're going to be interacting with the local population, it helps if we have our story, our messaging, straight. I'm just not sure how to get my troops to keep it all straight, and I'm not really sure what our broader policies should be," Penta admits. "One of the failures of the modern Marine Corps is that while we have great training for junior officers, there's….nothing at my level. And yet I'm acutely aware I cannot make this up as I go along."

Mara doesn't offer any advice, she's just listening for the time being, making notes. She sips on her coffee and her gaze drifts between the higher ranking officers in the room, noting their expressions, listening and occasionally making the odd note on her datapad. Rook shifts slightly, sets her coffee aside and rubs her fingers together before resuming her note taking.

"We need to boil it down to a simple, coherent, statement to build forward from. Something that can be easily memorized and reiterated as many times as it takes to get the point across. Yes," Sam admits as she taps the screen on her datapad to draw up the actual list she's prepared, "a list of bullet points is lovely, if you're - we're - address each civilization as a committee. But we won't, not at the first contact. We need a simple, straight forward, banner. Something like: We are the children of the Erfriki. You have been lied to, by the Machines, we are here to help you fight for your freedom."

Penta raises his eyebrows at one point. "Children of. On Bominaire, we said we *were* the Erfriki. Bad idea?" he asks.

Petra taps his nose and points to Samtara, then looks down at his pad, "Simple is easy for us to communicate among the ranks and easy to keep straight, so we don't have two different Colonials giving different taglines." He falls quiet for a moment to listen, "Children of the Erfriki is PROBABLY the best way to go. If we say we ARE them, that implies direct connection and we will be expected to know evertything they did and hold any alliances they used to have…and then we'll be clueless. Children of is good."

"I think if we start with a lie? Then we deserve to be lied to. Begin as you intend to continue, after all," Sam shakes her head slightly as she says this. "We have to be our own best ambassadors, on every world. We are the children of the Erfriki, even though we didn't know it, ourselves, until the Arpay shared our history with us. Children are not always fully educated in the ways and history, which gives us room to work out the full details and parameters on the spot. No matter what we do, who ever has the first conversation is going to have to be flexible and equally absolute about what can and cannot be offered, promised, alluded to or suggested. Which.. brings up point two," and she exhales a breath. "We cannot, absolutely cannot, misrepresent ourselves in anyway. We're not royalty, nobility, clerics, religious icons, conquerors or anything else of that sort. The goal, is it not, is to build a camaraderie with these people? Putting a fake 'wall' between our marines, air wing, our medical personnel and crew won't serve any goal in the long run. We bleed red, just like them, because there's iron in our blood, just like theirs. We have more in common than not in common, we have to build on the commonalities."

"That's true. One problem I have….My S2 is a Three. She's been mistaken for Skath 'clerics' at least once already. Should she deploy?" Penta asks.

Petra mmms softly as he listens to Samtara then nods once as if in agreement, "I would agree. No deception, or that will bite us in the ass later, somewhere. If they ask about Clara, then point out that she's seen the light, that she used to follow blindly and now she knows the truth. Which…is pretty much exactly right. That will further reinforce that the 'clerics' are not channels of the gods and not perfect. Which I BELIEVE helps us drive that wedge of doubt." He shoots a questioning look at the other three, "That sound feasable?"

"That's one thing that I disagree with, Marcus," Sam says with another of those slow shakes of her head. "We have to hammer home the point that the Machines are not gods. Period. Their clerics are no more 'real' than the machines are real, deity wise. It's wiser, I think, to convey that John's S2, Clara, is not a cleric, has never been a cleric, and that her sisters - and the other line models also pressed into this service - are slaves, unknowingly, to the Machines just as these people are."

Penta nods. "OK, that settles that issue." Then, a few taps on his datapad, and everybody else in the room has theirs beeping with a new message. "Draft 1.0 of message to the battalion, and the corpsmen attached. Thoughts?"

Petra shakes his head at Samtara, "You're asking to convey a complex idea all at once, Sam. Remember, keep it simple. Don't make it necessary to explain the WHOLE backstory right up front. They're following One. They've ALWAYS followed One. Clara and Knox do not any longer. We might be able to specifically angle it and explain that they all work for a commander that our Clara and Knox used to follow blindly and have woken up to the evilness of. That way we aren't specifically SAYING they were Clerics. That sound better?" When Penta mentions a draft, he quirks a scarred brow and swipes across his datapad to pull up messages, to read.

Sam taps one fingertip against her datapad to bring up her mail while countering, "The word 'always' has no real semantic value, Marcus. They haven't 'always' followed One, this wasn't their original intention, but short of getting one of the beings on Piraeus to ride along with each of our first contact missions to explain the fine points," and she pauses to exhales breath that's almost a laugh, "it does complicate the issue and you're correct. Keep it simple," before making a mildly off-key hum of sound as she reads through the first draft that Penta sends out.

Petra nods and flips through the message, while murmuring, "Just start them out with Clara and Knox used to be with the ones they call Clerics. They saw the light and do not follow them anymore. We never said Knox and Clara were Clerics. If people want to know more, we're happy to sit down and elaborate, but there you go. Simple, short message." He pauses for a moment, then grunts, "I have a feeling the Skath aren't going to ever give us an option that does NOT end in violence, but its a good goal to shoot for. This looks good."

Penta grins. "I'm told to prepare for the impossible. Well, last war, a Cylon Centurion saving my life would have been ranked as impossible….But it happened."

"It's still a lie, however," Sam points out. "My recommendation is against alluding to this in any way, but I'm not going to be standing alongside John," she aims a nod at Penta, "when he's doing these conversations." She pauses and flicks a glance sidelong at Marcus, "I presume I won't be, at any rate, but if that's an option, please let me know as I would require some motion sickness pills and a paper bag to breathe into en route to planet," there's a fine shade of a smile there, but her tone of voice is serious. "If we begin with a lie, we have to backtrack from that lie at some point, and it may be when it's vital to have trust at a crucial moment. But. It's my opinion, and my advice, and none of which is offered while being shot at. Grain of salt, lump of salt, take as directed and contact your designated primary care physician in the morning."

Petra furrows his brows lightly and shakes his head at Samtara giving her a curious look, "Its…not a lie. They used to be with One and the rest of the Lines. Didn't they? Because if they weren't, you and I distinctly remember the War differently." He chuckles softly at Penta and murmurs, "Hell, there are a lot of things I did before that I never thought would EVER have happened. I feel like I ought to stop saying 'impossible' at this rate."

"They were never clerics," Sam points out. "That's the specific line I'm speaking to. They were never clerics and that's how their line is potentially being used right now."

Petra murmurs, "That's…not what I'm saying. I'll…okay. Give me a 30 second explanation as to why Clara is not a Cleric and Im fine with her going. Because people see her, and the major is right, that's the first thing they are going to think, and he's right, we can't have this confusing the matter…on the other hand, I severely dislike telling one of my senior Marines she can't go put boots down with the rest of her people."

Penta looks at Petra. "You don't like it? It makes me sick to my stomach. But if she gets confused for a Skath on Calumet, it'll go even *worse* than Bominaire did."Logfile from Battlestar Orion.

Sam taps the edge of the pen she's holding against the surface of the tablet then points the end of it at Petra, "That's it, exactly. With the rest of her people. We are the descendants of the Erfriki. We have allied with the Lines, as a unique people in their own right. Their brothers and sisters have been forced, by the Machines, to forget who and what they are, and in slavery to the One they are in slavery to the machines just as much as these people are. That's the point that I'm getting at. That's the message we have to deliver, and refine, down to a thirty second blurb. Speaking point. Bite sized segment to be explained later. We have to figure out how to convey that so that the people we're interacting with don't turn confusion into an all rage-smash movement. We do not want OUR people to be the target of reprisals, and that's as likely to happen as not if we don't get a handle on this before we set boots on the ground. That's part of what's worrying me about all of this. Getting the message right matters."

"Yes, it does. And to be really, really blunt, the message must be basically idiot-proof. I feel like trying to explain the Lines *at all* in the context of a deployment is liable to lead to confusion and generally not be idiot proof." Penta notes. "When we have more time, yes. When we don't?"

Petra murmurs to Penta, "Clara's not the only one Im thinking of. Cooper's gonna be downright cranky." He falls quiet to listen to Samtara, waiting a moment before he offers, "I understand the concern. I never said we were saying Clara was a Cleric. Or a child of the Erfriki. She and Cooper have joined us. They used to be with the others that look like them, but no longer follow the leaders they do anymore. If you don't like that elevator speech, either give me one that works, or they don't go. Not to be blunt, but Im agreeing with you. It's a valid concern and a big one."

"It can't possibly be as simple as just saying over and over and over again that Clara, Knox and Lt. Galen," Sam puts his name on the list while she's speaking on it, "he's a Lieutenant in my division and he's a liable to be fielded as a medic as the rest of us as the need arises," just to clarify who she's speaking on, "is a marine. Just keep saying it. Not a cleric, Marine. Make it clear that this is a distinction that sets them apart from the clerics."

Penta sits back. It's pretty clear from his facial expression that he's going to let Petra and Samtara argue this out for a while. Maybe, just maybe, the argument will bring something to light, and not just produce heat.

Petra mmms, "If you have more time to explain, then go right ahead. But imagine the scene…" He trails off and holds his hands up in the classic, stupid 'Im framing a movie picture pose', "The Major and a squad that includes Clara round a hill and run into a group of resistance. Never seen us before. 'We're children of the Erfriki' 'But I know her, she's one of those Clerics!' 'No, she used to follow them but she's learned the truth and has sided with us. Lets go!'" He pauses and turns his hands up, shrugging a shoulder, "And you get back to shooting bad guys. When you stop for dinner that night, THEN you can give them the backstory."

Sam shakes her head, again, then sighs. "I still think it's the wrong move. When pressed, and they ask her pointed questions about the religious dogmatic crap that the other clerics are spewing, and she says 'well actually, I'm not a cleric, I never was but ..' and starts to fill in the blanks. There's the lie. Belief, gentlemen, is a powerful, and dangerous, thing. Turn their belief away from the machines and something is going to have to fill in that blank. It's either going to be founded on truth, or on a lie. What we do, everything we do, casts out ripples. This is why we need someone from the diplomatic corp to advise on this. They've done this before. And we're getting nowhere."

"I can agree on that. We're getting nowhere and we need the diplomatic corps's help. Is anybody from the DC even available, though?" Penta asks.

Petra shakes his head, "No, she says, 'We used to be together /before they became clerics/. You explain the backstory. You explain that she and the Lt and Cooper split off before they joined the Machines and became their clerics." He takes a deep breath and lets it go, "Very well. I can send word over to Fencer and see if he has someone available. There is no possibility of contact with the people ON Calumet before the op, though. Fencer was pretty clear about comms being intermittent and the intel we do have is old and spotty. So we'll see about finding an advisor he can spare before we go."

"It is worth mentioning that we ought to actually ask Coop, Clara, Ambrose, any of the other Lines among our personnel if they have an actual stated preference on how we handle this," Sam interjects with a wry smile. "That has to be factored in."

"Of course. But this policy is not about *them* specifically, either, before we get lost in the details." Penta notes.

Petra mmms softly, "We'll send word to the Diplomatic Corps. Major, if you want to discuss the matter with your Lines Marines and get their viewpoint on the matter, that may help us in ultimately deciding on a first engagement policy. But we'll need to do it /quickly/. If we have not made a decision by this weekend, it will get made regardless of consensus." He pauses and sucks on a tooth, "Is there anything else we need to cover? We have a little problem of Donovan to deal with here in a bit and I think I need more coffee before I deal with that."

"Aye, sir. And, ugh, Donovan. I had hoped to *turn* her, but I fear an imminent execution kind of removes the option from the table." Penta replies.

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