AWD #055: The Best Never Want It
The Best Never Want It
Summary: Petra has an unscheduled meeting with LCOL Spree and just ruins her day.
Date: 02/03/2013 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: Everything Falls Apart
Petra NPC-Spree 
Picon — ANVIL Command Post
Its a mine system! Watch out for the Grue…
03/02/2005

Its probably not a surprise that the CP is buried deep inside the mountain and through a maze of tunnels. Trying to get there would probably require pretty precise knowledge of the tunnels, not to mention getting back out. The CP is stocked with the normal complement of staff and individuals. Its still early morning on this part of Picon but the day never ends. Spree is standing at a desk behind a radio operator, drinking a cup of coffee. The big Sergeant escorts Petra in and steps to the side, hand on his sidearm. This visit wasn't expected. "Colonel. We have a visitor from the Orion. Its just him and one nervous Raptor crew, sir." His voice is curt and clipped. The Colonel turns her head but little else, the conversation with the radioman cut short.

Petra isn't exactly Chatty Cathy upon his arrival. In fact the 'Thank you, Sergeant' might have been the only thing he said on the entire escorted walk. When he's introduced, he watches Spree for a moment before clearing his throat, "Colonel. I'm Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Petra. Orion's Tactical Officer. My apologies for the lack of notice of the visit, but considering recent events, I'm sure you'd understand. I need an hour of your time, when you have it to spare today?" He seems quite ready to go back to the Raptor and have a MRE lunch and make a day of it if that's how long he has to wait to talk to her.

That gets a surprised look. "That takes some balls," she chuckles and steps away from the radioman and towards Petra. She looks him over for the same tell-tale cleanliness she's come to recognize. Spree, like everyone else, looks like she could use a couple days to recharge and get clean. A hand is extended towards him to shake. "Carolyn Spree. Good to meet you." She looks to the Sergeant Major and motions to the door. "Grab Johns for me, tell him I need him to take the CP for an hour." The SMAJ turns back out. Back to Petra, she nods. "But yeah, I do understand. C'mon, follow me. Johns is just around the corner and they won't miss someone for thirty seconds." She gestures with her mug towards the exit and heads on out.

Petra shakes the offered hand firmly and nods, "Likewise, Colonel. Our people have been dancing with each other for a while, it was a little overdue that I came to talk to you myself. My apologies for that." Indeed, considering he had to get a new set of blues out of storage after his 'adventure' in Bancroft Country and his new chromedome, the TACCO probably looks a little OVERLY clean and well-pressed. When she talks about following her, he simply nods and clasps his hands behind his back, "Of course…" and starts after her lead.

Spree talks as she walks, leading him farther into the mines. "No kidding. And please, we're the same rank. 'Carolyn' is fine." They pass several work crews reinforcing the shaft with steel supports. They keep working, but most of the rest step out of the way for the pair. Eyes linger on Petra even after he passes. She turns him through a maze, past more and more 'barracks' which are mostly blasted-out caverns. They finally turn into one dead-end which has a make-shift door leaned against it for privacy. She 'opens' it and moves inside to what are apparently her private quarters. A couple buckets, a sleeping bag with a bedroll under it, a couple of sawhorses and plywood made into a desk, a wired phone on it, and a camp chair. She gestures to the campchair as she settles down onto her bedroll and leans against the rock wall. "Might want to dust that chair off," she advises with an amused smirk. "We're a bit grimy down here. So, I've got a few questions for you but I imagine you aren't here for that so let's hear what brought you to our luxurious resort."

Petra ducks his head a bit to step through the doorway, glancing around at the accommodations before turning his attention back on her. He does make a halfhearted attempt brush off the chair with one hand, parking his rump on it as he comments, "Don't have any problem with getting dirty. Saw a lot of it up close and personal last week on my inadvertent camping trip here. As for questions, it might be better if you go ahead and ask them first. I came down to talk to you about the plans for what we can do for your wounded and your non-coms that want to leave Picon - we know some or most of them dont…and what we're looking to do about your commanding officer. So…its your house, Carolyn." He smiles faintly, "Ask away."

"Yeah. I figure if your crew that came to visit was as surprised about the shoot-down as they were then they weren't going to do anything stupid like broadcast your name so you're probably the same one." She knows all too well about the skinjobs, probably. "But sure, we can discuss it. As far as the point about Wes Bancroft, we've been staving off confrontation for now. He sent one of his Rover teams down here the next day demanding to know where that crew of yours had gone off to. I told them that despite them being way out of line to make demands, that I told your team to return to their ship in order to pass along that the Command Staff had been killed in a shoot-down. Right now he has several thousand personnel in that valley looking for their bodies. They aren't finding much, last I heard." She sips at the coffee. "It won't be long before he decides that I'm full of shit. But I put trust into your people, Marc. I believe them. But I need to look at your face when you tell me what you know about Bancroft's actions in regard to that shootdown."

Any amusement that was on his face before, fades as she describes her situation and what has been going on. At the last statement, he nods once and watches her eyes, "So he had specifically requested the Admiral AND the Commander come to visit him. After a very brief talk with them, the Admiral agreed I would go instead, carrying authority to negotiate for the task force in his behalf. We jumped precisely on point to the coordinates Bancroft gave us and we were immediately fired on by at least four portable SAM launchers. When we were clearly going down, we were shot at at hit again…I watched our pilot and ECO die right in front of me before I and the other crewman were able to eject." Something that, from the look on the man's face, he lays squarely at the Commander's feet, "After we regrouped on the ground, we used an emergency radio to call for help, and a unit named Rover Two answered our krypter. I wasn't sure if Cylons might be listening in, so I told them we were hiding out in a burned out house a little bit further down from where we actually were, and waited. We watched a group of mobile Marines, calling themselves 'Rover One' on their wireless, set up an observation point and call in a Predator they named 'Cowboy Eight' to deliver an air strike on the location I gave them. When the strike hit, they cheered themselves for killing the 'frakking traitors'. I considered Bancroft's command hostile at that point and we set out for ANVIL." He takes a deep breath, pausing for a moment before continuing, "On the way, we watched another Raptor get shot down and were able to find the pilot, a Captain Emilia Hallick, who said something about her own people shooting her down after she pointed out she heard a Colonial Raptor calling mayday. A few days later, on the 23rd, Rover Two caught us about 100 miles or so from the original crash site. We had to neutralize them and called in their own medevac raptor, and hijacked it to get back to Orion. We have his pilot and ECO in custody on Orion right now. I've listened to the recording of your conversation with Bancroft while our people were here before, and it would appear that he's attempted to assassinate my commanding officers so he can hijack the task force."

Spree just stares back at him, watching everything about him. Its that same unnerving look that Jameson has. She isn't just listening, every hand gesture is scrutinized and even the way he sits is noted. Carolyn has been in the business for a long time and its plain. She has nothing to hide. But as he finishes, she nods and looks down. Anger is roiling beneath the surface like a tornado and she's trying very hard to keep it under control. The coffee cup shakes as she sips at it and its set aside slowly to rest on the rocky floor. "Okay." She wets her lips and finally looks at him. "He's finally lost his mind. I was afraid this might happen." She balls and unballs a fist several times. She's pissed but this very obviously has unsettled her in a deep way. "He's been under extreme stress and Bancroft on his way to early retirement before this happened. He was going to be passed over for promotion and he knew it and his wife had left him last year because of it." Spree looks away. "I've had private discussions with him where he has confided to me that he believes that the Fleet is gone and any remnants of it or a government will trade Picon as a lost cause in order to retain Aerilon and Caprica. We've never been a popular Colony. He had a very detailed logic to it, but I knew that too much of it was steeped in supposition and assumption, none of which had any basis in reality or logic — especially after my personal dealings with the Orion and its crew. I know you are here to help, but that is one of the reasons I have had to be so careful about how I approach. Its always been in the back of my mind. 'Maybe Wes was right. Would they?' I'd ask myself. He alluded once to wishing he had a way to get control of your battlegroup, but didn't come right out and say it. This is one of the reasons I've staked the lives of myself and this command on the Orion, Marc. I don't buy it. And murdering ranking officers goes far beyond the scope of what I would define as acceptable. You don't kill your own people unless there is no other alternative and he, from what I can tell, has made absolutely no effort to try and discuss the situation. He told me to just deal with you all for now until he was ready."

Petra takes in a deep breath, lips pursed as he listens, watching her face and making a note of her expressions while she talks. When she finishes, he's silent for several moments, glancing at the 'door', then back to her, "After I got out of sickbay and the Admiral let me anywhere near being on duty again, I had a talk with the folks that were down here with you…Rozzen, Iphigenia, and the rest. I'm going to be as transparent with you as I can. You already know how dire the situation is. We've managed to scout all of the Helion systems and we're working on the asteroid belts and minor planets now, and so far…we're it for the Fleet. I know you said a dreadnought was here, and I hope they are still alive and hiding somewhere, but every single naval installation outside of an automated fuel depot…is gone. We know for certain about several Battlestars being destroyed, and we're assuming the rest are gone as well. There is NO Colonial Naval comms chatter anymore. Picon and Aerilon are the last pieces of ground resistance there are, and we're willing to provide you as much support as we can, without wiping ourselves out. We have a safe point, a planet the Cylons don't know about, that was specifically kept out of all computer systems, that only the President and the Admiralty knew about, and while the ground installations weren't really equipped for a mass exodus, we'll adapt. Any of your non-coms that want to leave Picon, we can move to the planet, and will probably be requesting the able adults in the group help our engineers expand on the living quarters so we can house as many people as possible there. For your wounded, we have a plan to put our hospital ship with a cruiser escort one jump away from Picon, and will use most of our Raptors to land here and gather everyone we can to take off in one fast airlift. We wont be able to get everyone in one go, obviously, but I want to put our Chaplain and a Doctor on the ground here to triage your wounded, so we take the most serious cases and get them to the hospital ship. Then, moving forward, we can keep sending Raptors one or two at a time on irregular intervals so the Cylons can't start predicting the flights, to come get more people and return the wounded combatants we've been able to heal. The Sister informed me of your request for an anonymous agent, to assure you we will be able to take care of your people. I'm fine with that, if that's a condition you still wish to set."

"I'm pretty sure the dreadnought is out there. At least one of them. We have rumors of an engagement but that's Bancroft's thing. He won't say anything about it to anyone." Spree lifts her legs to rest her arms on her knees. "But that sounds about what we've got trickled down. Most of the recons flown to other locations were performed by those in Bancroft's command. However, I do know for a fact there is a group on Caprica fighting low-level. Or at least they were as of a couple weeks ago; the Fifty-fifth Mobile Command and Control Squadron. They're a joint unit of Marines and Naval Personnel that are apart of the nuclear alert system. Last I heard, they're looking for friends. Flying in there is dangerous, but do-able." She reaches for the mug again and takes a sip. "We hear rumors of other resistance efforts, but its all locked up on Wes' command. He won't give us anything. I'd be shocked if it was just Aerilon and Picon resisting, though, sir. As for your evac plans…" She takes a long breath. "That sounds good. But as I stated to the Sister, I want one small group to go first. I do insist that someone report back to me, in person, about the conditions." She's firm about it, but not hostile. "This isn't just for my own assurances though, Marc. These are people's families. Single parents with children where the other parent has gone off to fight. Lots of young kids. My people need to be sure that these families are going to be more safe where they are going. Someone we choose and trust is the best way to do it. Once they report in to me, they can just leave with your Raptor and go back. But its something that if I do not do, it will cause complete anarchy. My hands are tied there."

Petra glances down for a moment while he listens, and nods, "I understand." When he glances back up at her face, he leans forward, elbows on his knees, and explains, "Any resistance I give you is only because, we have an advantage here in that the Cylons don't know about this location and the chances of them randomly appearing in our system are so infinitesimal that winning the Caprican Lottery is a sure thing by comparison. So I'm a little paranoid about leaving someone walking around that has any information about the place. So as long as you're okay with them returning to the planet and staying there after they report to you? I'm fine with that. We /are/ the Colonial Navy, and as long as myself, the Commander, and the Admiral are still in charge of it, we aren't forgetting that our first responsibility is to protect and save the people of the Colonies. Wherever they are hiding. Do you have that group chosen already? If so…" He smirks slowly, "We have seats empty in the Raptor. They can come back with me when I leave."

"I'm in complete agreement," she says firmly. "You all show up here clean, cut, fed, and some of your people have a tan. That's not a snide jab, either. I consider it proof. I don't have to see this place to believe you. I'd actually prefer to know as little about it as possible. What I have made very clear to your prior team was that any attempt to identify the location of this planet, by my returning people, is wholly unacceptable to me. Some will take photos, but not at night. Stars are position indicators. I may ask for video. Interviews with our non-combatants, to be sure. But verification will be done in whatever manner they deem necessary. You can even preview what they intend to bring back as far as video and photos, but unless there is a very good reason, anything they want to say or communicate to me must be allowed. As for the team, no. They are not ready. These people are housed at one of our munitions bunkers. They'll need to be brought up and briefed, but we have volunteers ready to go. I'll need a few days to arrange escort duty for them. Bancroft has all of my Raptors tied up with bullshit close air and transport for his teams searching that valley for bodies that aren't there."

Petra nods once at that, "We're asking you to trust us, so I'm going to trust you with this. Whatever they want to send you…they can send you. Jameson's going to grumble at me about that a little, but he'll end up agreeing with me…or at least, will let my call stand." Again, the smirk reappears for a fraction of a second, "Alright then. We'll send a Raptor back on, say, Wednesday morning then. Can they be ready by then?" He pauses there for a moment, then adds, "And…Bancroft is the other problem. We're not here to fight Marines. And I'm not going to risk losing any more of our buses over his airspace. He's committed Mutiny and I personally hold him responsible for the death of my air crew. From what I overheard Rover One and Two say, it sounds like he's lied to his men, maybe convinced them that we're turncoats or Cylons. I've discussed the matter with my Department Heads, and we have a plan, but it incurs a risk, and that risk involves you, so I need to hear from you before I commit NOMAD to it."

Carolyn nods once. "I appreciate the trust. It will not be broken. My hope is that this will set the base for a very strong working relationship. I'm only a regional commander, but I'll do what I can and let the others know that you're reliable. Once its established, your Raptor crews will be busy with evac requests from all over Picon. There's around forty million people fighting here. About fifteen percent will want out. As for Bancroft." The woman sighs and tips back the rest of her tin cup. "Yeah, I was waiting for the M-Word. Just be careful how you use that on Picon. See, the problem is that the man covers several million square miles and has around one person combat-capable per square mile. These are good people, Marc. They're just like me or anyone else I have under my command. Your problem are those Rover Teams. He's got six of them, I think. They're light airborne units he uses as special operations troopers. A couple of them are specwar. They're die-hards and actual Marines. Fanatical Picans, the lot. My guess is that these people are the problem. He's probably got them convinced of something. If he's trying to take your battlegroup, its likely he has them convinced of his insane speculation that you all want to abandon Picon. But I'm already at risk. When it comes out that I lied to him, which he probably already suspects, we'll have all six Rover Teams in this command complex and they will kill everyone in that CP. No trial, no plea bargains, or trades. We're all going to be killed. So risk?" Spree chuckles darkly. "Let's hear it."

Petra nods slowly, "And that's exactly what I'm counting on. Them being fanatical, honorable Marines that would die to defend Picon, not Bancroft. We're going to broadcast what Bancroft did to his units. Provide specific details such as the unit names involved, the names of the Raptor crew, and so on. Include a message from Jameson to demonstrate he is quite alive. We're going to demand he step down and surrender his command to you, to stand trial, court martial, for attempted mutiny. If he so much as twitches at you, I personally won't have a problem with lobbing one of our full load of nuclear warheads at his command post, though I might get overridden on that specific detail. We intend to declare that, because of his attempted Mutiny and his Rover units killing our air crew, we are restricting our support actions to your command only, until Bancroft surrenders his to you. We're counting on our dealings with your men here and the tankers on Aerilon having already been circulating the rumor mill through the Resistance, and hoping that the rank and file marines, once they have evidence their Commander has been lying to them, will refuse to allow him to continue to lead. They know you, and I would think they respect you considering the work you've been doing here all along." He pauses there and takes in a deep breath, "That's going to shine a spotlight on the bullseye this situation has already placed on your neck. But we're not going to succeed here if we dont start taking larger risks for larger gains, and if his Marines aren't the kind that would demand he step down because of this? To be blunt, we've already lost Picon."

Even down here, Spree looks a little pale in the low light of the bare bulb overhead. She stares at Petra in the silence. She's not moving for a good stretch. Ten.. twenty seconds pass. "You want Bancroft to transfer his flag to me? You want me to- Marc, you realize that you'd be installing me as the overall commander of the resistance. Not just here, but on every colony left that isn't nuked into shit?" Carolyn is almost breathless. "Oh frak me." Her eyes drift away to the door and its looking a little smaller to her. Gods. She eventually brings her eyes back. "If he's insane, and you do this, you're letting him off the leash. He'll go apeshit. Those Rover teams might not listen. The rest of the people? They might understand, but I'll tell you something: You put a nuke on Picon against a purely human target, you've killed cooperation. Nobody will work with you, and that won't be a judgment call from me. Not to mention that you'd be killing thousands of good people just to get one man. Plus all his freaking intel. Your other problem is that if you broadcast in the open, the Cylons are going to hear it. If that's a risk you want to take, I won't stop you. But are you absolutely sure of this? -About me, I mean. You all are gods-know how far away. You can't realistically expect to retain command from that far out." Spree doesn't exactly seem like she wants the job on her shoulders, however she's verifying it. She might be their person.

Petra shakes his head, "That's probably why I don't have the nuke keys, so we don't do something off the rails like that." There's a humorless smile at that, before he continues, "We're not here to try and exert command over you, Carolyn. I don't care about ordering you around and I don't think the Admiral cares much either. We're interested in improving the cooperation we've started here, and that's not going to happen with Bancroft. Not when he tried to assassinate our commanders, in such a way that he knows we know he tried, the moment he finds out that Jameson isn't really dead and was never on that Raptor. I'm not going to walk eggshells around a murderous asshole, not while we're besieged by Cylons trying to wipe us off the planet. You've already stuck your neck out for us when you knew it was the right thing to do, and you stood up for it. Yes, you're exactly who we all need as Commander of the resistance forces. We'll find a way to broadcast it to minimize possible Cylon interception, and we'll craft the message to avoid mentioning specific coordinates, but it needs to be done. Its your show, and you're about to be the only Commanding Officer that has a Battlestar group on her side. Are you it or not, Carolyn?"

She listens to all of this and just rests a hand over her nose and mouth as if trying to keep hidden a gasp that might happen. But she keeps her eyes on Petra. Moments pass before there is a shaky nod from her. Carolyn does not want this. There is no possible way a sane or rational person could ever want that kind of burden. But, "Yeah. Okay. I'm it." She whispers it before her legs slide down and she almost seems to slump as her eyes stare at her boots. After a few moments she nods, head bobbing with it. "One condition: You get his command post intact. If you want me to do this, I need his people. I need his codes, contacts, intel sources… I can't just slide in there and replace him without all that." Eyes finally lift back to him and she's trying to organize her brain and not panic all at the same time. "Marc, I'll do this, just please… man to man, don't abandon me. I get that if something happens, it happens, just please help us." And for now its personal. "Don't stick me in command and then run. Don't do that to these people. We're barely hangin on to our sanity."

Petra mms, "I can't guarantee you we'll get his CP intact, but if it is at all possible, its yours. Like I said, we're counting on his Marines being honorable and loyal to the Colonies, rather than loyal to one man. You aren't going to be abandoned. To be blunt, you're one of the last possible hopes we have left to stop the Cylons from completing their plans for genocide. We aren't an armada…at least, not yet. But if we find the Baker Bay and any other remnants of the Fleet that might still be hiding out? Im pretty sure we have the last surviving member of the Admirality on board my ship, and that means we are Fleet, and we will come over here and start killing basestars. In the meantime, we'll do everything else we can sneaking under their cover. You need something specific, ask. We might not be able to say yes, but then we'll know you need it, and if we can finally get it later, it will be on our list." He pauses, "If we get through this transition intact, we can work out a more detailed communication and cooperation agreement. Right now, the details aren't so important. Agreed?"

Spree nods slowly and looks over to her 'pillow', which is once a good look is given to it, her dress greys. Rolled up and bound with a ziptie. They're beyond hope of wearing again. "The Rover Teams, I doubt it. They will probably fight or at least want to. The rest of his command is just like anyone else, as I said. Normal people put into a nightmare scenario." She sighs and looks back at Petra. "But I understand. And I wasn't trying to blackmail you all, either. I don't know where the Baker Bay is. I need my hands untied from wounded and families to get people focused on trying to hunt down those Raptor and Predator crews. I just hope there are still a few out there. As for specifics?" She looks down. "If you want this plan against Bancroft to work, I need Marines. Real Marines, not civilian volunteers. We won't have the manpower here to shift our own people to defend in case those teams come at us. And I expect they will. We will need that help. Otherwise yes, I agree. I still consider myself until Command Authority. I've given my pledge."

Petra listens, and while he makes note of that look towards her pillow, he says nothing. He waits until she's finished, then nods once, "You'll have them. Orion had just restocked, resupplied, and rearmed a month before the war started, and that includes the full compliment of Marines we have on board. Jameson hand picked the best people he could find. When I send a Raptor back on Wednesday, I'll send more than one, and they will have some of the 3rd Battalion 8th Marines, Charlie Company on it. We'll make sure they are ready with what anti-air equipment we have, and we'll wait a few more days before we start operations, so you can get them up to speed. As we keep flying birds in and out, we'll shuttle out and back others from the company and keep them supplied. I'll hope it doesn't come to that, but we can't afford to lose you either." He sits up slowly at that, "So now that I've completely frakked up your day…anything you want to ask me about before I get my ass back to the ship?"

Carolyn nods slowly. "Thanks. We'll need the Marines, but we've got plenty of anti-air here to give out. You donate the Marines, we'll kit them. We've got everything from landmines to anti-tank missile launchers." Tridents. "I can see about getting artillery in range in the next few days, too." She slowly rises with him, dusting off her uniform. "And thanks. Seriously. Its a relief to have you guys, even if you've just shortened my potential life span by a good margin. My only other request?" She keeps her eyes on him. "Even if I go down, with what might happen, or in the future? I'll be sure I have a fully informed second. Work with them. These are good people, Marc. Just don't quit on us and we'll never quit on you." How utterly Pican.

Petra straightens up, shaking his head slightly at the last, "We'll work with them, but don't start that 'in case I die' shit before I'm even out of the room. We are going to survive this, and you and I are going to be meeting several times in the future to plan extensive toaster smashing. If I haven't quit by now, I sure as frak am not going to quit anytime in the near future. Wednesday morning, Carolyn. Have your group ready to go, and we'll have a present of Marines that have been awfully bored lately ready to defend you." With that said, he guestures to the door, deferring to her lead back to the CP. Cause, you know, him walking back without her might raise some suspicious eyebrows.

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