MD #028: Stone Cold Pre-Planning
Stone Cold Pre-Planning
Summary: Penta, Clara, and Randy meet to do some pre-planning on Cold Forge.
Date: 06/05/2017
Related Logs: Starting the Cold Forge
Clara Penta Randy 
Battalion HQ
The headquarters room is the primary command location for all Marines associated with the battlestar or accompanying fleet ships. The walls and desks are covered with maps, photos, and satellite imagery - as well as clocks indicating the current time in each colonial capital city and Site Anvil. Along the back wall are large touchscreens with holographic capability, able to bring up fleet intelligence if the user has proper access. Secure phones are bolted to each bulkhead, and for added insurance, each desk possesses its own encrypted wireless unit with its own independent wiring. The small room is always manned by a wireless operator and a duty sergeant, at a minimum, though it tends to be a hive of activity during duty hours.
21/11/2028

The aerial recon package was delivered and forwarded on, ending up in Randy's inbox along with a time (now) and place (HQ). It ended up in some other people's inboxes too, but it's fifteen minutes till and Randy's already showing up with a large printout of the map in her hands. She comes to her senses and pauses before getting to the CO's office and folds it up carefully. Then she checks the time on her wrist. "Frak," she mutters and then flashes a passing Captain a respecful grin while stepping out of his way. Then she steps forward to knock on the hatch. "Sir. Lieutenant Flynn. I'm a bit early, I'm afraid."

"No such thing as too early in the Marines, Lieutenant. 15 minutes early to 15 minutes early is an entirely honorable tradition, have you forgotten?" Penta replies with a chuckle. "While we're waiting, let's set up at S3's planning table, probably simpler than my office." It's not quite the Map Room, but it works for the battalion's needs, anyway.

"Well sir, I know you're busy," Randy says in a rare display of nuance to imply her knowledge of the scarcity of his time. "Of course." Randy turns to head towards the planning table. She unfolds the aerial map along the way so she can lay it down. She grabs an errant coffee mug to help pin down a corner. Stepping back to look at it, she suddenly wishes she were an inch or two taller. She used the plotter to print it so it'd be nice and big.

Clara slips in from the security hub, where she spends the majority of her time on duty. She's in her usual blacks and fraying ponytail, with a folder tucked under her arm as she rounds the corner. A nod is given to both Randy and her CO, but she hangs back for the moment until she's officially invited over.

Penta looks over at Clara. "Hey, c'mon back, we have planning to do for our next op," he indicates. Once he sees Randy wrestling with the map, he smiles and grabs pushpins to secure it to the corkboard.

Randy follows Penta's lead when she sees him grab the pushpins. She grabs some and works on pinning another corner down, reinforcing along the sides sparingly. Randy glances up when Penta addresses Clara, but quickly goes back to what she's doing. Then she takes the old coffee mug and sets it aside since it is no longer needed. "I can see why they haven't gotten this equipment out of the bunker yet."

"Do we know if we'll have to breach said bunker, or will we have a key?" Penta asked. It's not the worst question to ask.

Clara watches Randy for a moment, then wanders on over to where the pair are setting up. She tries to keep out of the way for the most part. "Okay, so what intel do we have on the area in general?" She'll likely get to specific questions as they go along.

"I don't know. I'll start a list," Randy volunteers and moves to get a pad of paper and pen. "Does the bunker need to be breached?" she mumbles softly as she writes it out, probably not even aware that she's doing it. "You know. I doubt we're going to get much intel going into this. Didn't the briefing say that the commo was really bad from orbit to planet?" Still, Randy starts writing other things on it, and presumably for the benefit of others, she mumbles them out too. "Skath patrols and checkpoints. Enemy communications. Enemy ground capabilities. And you know air is going to be duking it out over our heads right?"

Penta nods. "It did, yeah. Comms between surface and orbit are a specific thing we'll have to contend with, and is partly why I'm waffling over whether I personally should go down - if that pulsar takes out comms entirely, somehow, then I don't want battalion decapitated."

Clara lets the other two haggle things out over strategy for a moment. She mulls over something before suggesting, "Do we want to send out a recon element to confirm or deny the viability of the operation before we arrive in force? Given that intel's pretty sparse.."

"If we *can*, that would be an excellent idea. Big if, though, as to whether we could." Penta replies.

"Well we would, but they've got something like 46 or 47 ships in orbit. Plus the Arpay have said it's a tight timeline. We need to find out if we can. Sir we can't go off this little of intel. This is too tight of a spot. If the Skath detect us raiding the bunker, they'll just pin us down." Randy frowns as she continues to scribble notes. She titles one side 'CONCERNS' and underlines it. "If we're going to create a distraction then we need more understanding of what these key areas are. If there are any communications we can take out after drawing their big boys away. Something like that would leave the lighter elements withdrawn or scarce and orphaned so if we did run into anything, we could take it out on our way out." Randy gestures to the map.

Penta nods. "We need more intel, definitely. How to get it, given the 46-ish Skath ships in orbit, that's the hard part." Penta is a tech-savvy commander, using his datapad for notetaking. Under a lebel of "To-Dos" he starts: "1. Check with intel and command as to feasibility of Calumet recon before deployment." "Ideally, of course, we'll want ground recon, but would air recon even help us?"

"We're probably also gonna want to pack some G4 and a contingency plan in case things go to shit while we're several thousand feet under a mountain," Clara murmurs, eyes flicking between Penta and Randy. "By the way, are things cool between you two?" For someone in intel, Clara sure struggles with being tactful. "I'm concerned, too, about the reports of clerics in the region."

"If that's the case then we shouldn't be planning for the op. We should be planning the recon." And intel activities are exactly what Clara focuses on, so Randy just sort of trails off after that. "Though I can certainly help out with that too," she tacks on. "I wonder if this airfield is operational and how secure it is," she says as she moves to point it out. Then she grabs a pushpin and marks it.

"Things are fine," Penta replies. Damn, it's bad when your intel officer has no tact. Then, "Clerics should be presumed a standard feature of Skath efforts on any planet, I figure. As to the airfield…Good question. If we could seize it, would make any insertions a lot easier."

Clara nods along to the point about the airfield. It is a good question. She chews on the corner of her lip as she thinks about that.

"Well I don't really like it's proximity as an entry point," Randy starts out. "Depending on how far out Skath's patrol, it might be knocking on their front door. As for bringing in backup or a hot extract should anyone get pinned down defending, that seems more likely to me. We need to know if it's possible to have solid comms from inside the bunker to outside. It's important that we confirm the equipment we're getting out of there is mobile and ready to go before doing anything like distraction or trying to sneak out a bunch of tanks under their noses, regardless of whether we get to recon that or not. I'd also like to know if there are weak areas of the bunker or places close to the surface to make an alternative exit. If they built it right, then probably not, but it's a little odd to me that the only two gates are both facing a large choke point in terms of how the city is laid out."

Penta nods. "Very odd, to me. Are we even clued in as to what this bunker *contains*, specifically?"

Clara makes a couple of notes for herself as Randy speaks. "Okay, I can do some digging on the airfield and alternate routes out of the bunker. Do we know what our timeline is on getting the equipment out? And do we need to send word to the locals of when this is going down, so we have a place for all this stuff to go once we get it out?"

Penta nods, staying quiet for now.

"About five weeks from finding out the bunker for sure and three from first Skath recon elements clearing out the area. That was as of last-last Friday, so if we're getting together recon it needs to be quick, but I'd rather be ballsy on recon. I believe it was tanks, artillery, and anti-aircraft equipment sir. Not exactly stealthy." Randy reaches up to rub her forehead a little.

Clara looks to Penta. "The locals, sir? Should I make a note?" To see if they can be kept in the loop. As to the recon, "We can't go in blind. Minimal recon's better than no recon." There's a glance for the forehead rubbing, but she says nothing.

Penta nods. "Then we need to do recon basically now, it sounds like; definitely make a note, definitely try to keep them in the loop via the Arpay."

"I hope you mean the local locals and not just the Calumet forces?" Randy asks for clarification. "Exactly…But we also need to have our messaging pre-planned this time. So we should know if you're going down sir or not as soon as possible, and if not, who you plan to lead the op." It appears Randy has no idea if she's in the dog house or not…and not the good one like the rest of her fellow Dogs live. "That person will need to be in charge of delivering messaging or designate the person who is best suited to speak. Either way I'll need to make sure the platoon is briefed on how to not send mixed messages." She doesn't bore them with the details.

Clara gives Randy a bit of a look for her comment on the locals. Not quite a withering one, but slightly chilly. To the messaging though, she seems in agreement, with a slight nod. And makes another note to herself: 'nail down messaging'.

"I mean both, yes, but *especially* folks with guns. As for messaging, I need to meet with Colonel Stone on that, and on drawing up general first contact guidelines," Penta replies.

Randy doesn't seem to absorb Clara's look. It bounces right off of her and for once she's not being transparent about her feelings. "Well then I think we /have/ to see them. One of the whole points of us doing this stuff is to strut around that we're Erfriki right? It might be important for us to not use the Arpay as intermediaries. I mean, when we touch down, we should definitely have the Arpay there, but it will be important to speak to the locals ourselves. I noticed that it was mentioned in the original briefing that we have similarities to the local forces, so we might need to manage the Erfriki identity a little bit to distinguish ourselves. That'd probably be something good to talk to Colonel Stone and Commander Petra about sir," Randy suggests.

Penta nods. "Will definitely do that."

Clara hesitates, looking like she might scratch out the note she just made to herself. "I'm not sure the Colonel will be as relevant a resource this time around, sir. Sounds like Calumet is a much more advanced society than Bominaire, from my understanding of the intel. Either way, if you want to handle the messaging, let's just make sure the platoon's briefed."

"It is a more advanced society, but the reason I'm looping in the Colonel is because I don't want *anybody*, especially the Corpsmen, hiding behind not technically being in my chain of command when I tell people 'One person talks *period*' when they disagree with the message. Put bluntly, we may need to say things that turn our stomachs in order to gain local support."

"I think the simplest way to handle messaging would be to tell the platoon not to talk. I can try and get some scenario training put together, but I think it's going to be a lot of work just trying to get one to two people up to speed and I don't want people to be trying out their training wheels on the mission." Randy purses her lips and nods at what Clara says. "I agree. I think the Arpay are going to be our best cultural resource for this. They're the ones who've had the most contact with these people. They also went through a civil war over evacuation. Are they still divided or has the struggle pretty much united them over the last twenty years?" As Penta explains his reasoning, Randy suggests mildly, "Well, I'd suggest bringing her along at key points to just review it so she's on board if you're that concerned about peer support sir. That said, her time in the DC probably gave her training in first contact and other diplomatic things, so," she shrugs. It's obviously his call.

Penta nods. "Good points."

Clara purses her lips thoughtfully. "That's a good point," she murmurs, "about the civil war." She circles something on her notepad. "The messaging may actually be challenging, with that in mind. I think it may be best to try to not show favouritism between the two factions, if we can, sir?"

"For now, yes. We may have to choose sides, though, so be prepared." Penta replies.

"I don't think that's the message we want to send sir. If anything, we take no sides at all, as opposed to being on both of their sides. I'm sure when we get down to it, if that's an issue, there are ways to involve both sides without causing an incident. We can compartmentalize different segments of the operation and enlist support for different parts of it from different factions on the ground," Randy suggests. "That said, you're right that we should envision shite hitting the fan."

"Absolutely, because with our luck? It will," Penta replies. "But it may be the case that they *force* us to choose sides to accomplish our objectives, or as a *result* of accomplishing said objectives."

Clara hmms at that, tapping her pen against her lower lip. She flips open her folder and scans to about the third page in. "Sounds like it's the wealthy, influential minority that rules there," she murmurs. "We might be able to find a way to appeal to their, uh, hubris.. without letting the shit hit the fan. Sounds like the rest of the people support the Arpay."

"How would they force us? We don't have to help them as far as they know right? If things get that bad we can use that as leverage to force them to be civil, but I think we're getting ahead of ourselves. We don't even know if the civil war is still an issue," Randy points out with slightly arched eyebrows and a shrug. When Clara points out the make up of the ruling party, Randy nods. "Definitely."

"Wait, so we're just trying to convince the rich and powerful, while everybody else supports the Arpay mostly as is?" Penta looks thoughtful. "I think I see a few ways we can use the class divide."

Clara gives Penta a bit of a side-eye look. She pauses before answering flatly, "If you're not sure, then I'll add that as something to confirm." The Three looks bothered by something, but doesn't give it voice at the moment. "Okay, anything else we haven't covered? Do we have an LZ picked out yet? Do you guys need to talk loadout?" Because things that go pew pew are not her forte, really.

"These people need to stand united if they're going to have a chance. I don't think it's ethically responsible to go in and roil up their political divide unless we really need to. We're still walking propaganda. We have a chance to bring them together. Shouldn't we at least /try/? And I don't think we're there to convince anyone we need to do anything. We're there to get this equipment out to Calumet forces. They can't do it. No need to convince someone to get outside help unless they're concerned about civilians being rolled up into the conflict." Randy looks earnestly from Clara to Penta. "We don't even have a plan. Do you mean for a recon mission or the actual operation?"

"Points well taken, Flynn." Pause. "I appear to be letting college dreams of starting revolutions get in the way of reality," he notes wryly. "For right now, we need to do recon. As in, we need to do it within 7 days. Air recon is good, ground recon is better. Piers, any ground recon will be something you lead - kindly do not get mistaken for the Skath, OK?"

"The actual op," Clara replies with a brief glance to Randy. Then to Penta, "I'll start putting something together immediately then, sir." Seems they've come full circle to her first comment. 'Talk to Petra re: recon' is scribbled down.

"No. I'd default to a safe location and hike us in before doing anything risky, so any intel we can gather that will give us more options for LZs will be something we'll want on our list. As far as loadout, I'd be looking to you sir for any input there," Randy turns her head from Clara to aim a nod to Penta. "I'll see if I can get a specific list of equipment we'll have to haul out and we can start with supporting that. Then we'll know how large our convoy is if that's how we decide to roll it out."

Penta nods. "I will definitely be looking into those issues." Pause. "For right now, I think we've come to a good closing point, we'll reconvene once we have more data to work with."

Clara doesn't seem to have anything further to add. She nods to Penta, looks briefly to Randy, and collects her folder before heading for the hatch.

Randy didn't seem to expect something apparently. Her head tilts off to the side for a moment before she straightens up and nods. "Yes sir." She catches Clara's brief look and then takes the pad she appropriated and appropriates it further by sliding it under her arm as she leaves.

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