PHD #403: Boots Down
Boots Down
Summary: Leyla and Vendenberg enter into the first stages of mission planning.
Date: 5 Apr 2042 AE
Related Logs: A Lamb in Wolf's Clothing
Leyla Vandenberg 
Map Room — Deck 7 — Battlestar Cerberus
The one object that dominates this room is the one it is named for: the giant plotting table in the center of the room. Bottom-lit like the plot in CIC, this one is twenty feet across and about the same distance wide. The maps, which are rolled and kept in a locker at the side of the room, provide much more detail than most of the charts in CIC and are especially useful in planning tactical operations. Unscaled models of ships are available to be situated on the surface of the table and risers on each side of the room allow for a small audience to watch or be briefed. A single large LCD screen is built into the wall at the far end to display reconnaissance or other supplemental material.
Post-Holocaust Day: #403

Vandenberg has taken to the Map Room on the Cerberus and been sitting in here most of the day and morning. The red light outside is on to indicate 'Do Not Disturb' and her name is listed on the sheet outside to indicate who has possession of it. A note would have been sent by runner to Leyla that she was wanted. Inside the room the table and one of the screens are displaying a map of Gemenon from the initial recon since all of the new stuff has been confiscated. The second screen is displaying a mish-mash of hand-written notes in what is probably Canceran slang. A few numbers are scrawled out as well that seem to be coordinate points near Lampridis. The Marine is in her tanks and green duty pants.

It doesn't take terribly long, before the raptor pilot arrives as ordered. A quick rap at the door, before Leyla tries the hatch. And if it's open, she'll step inside and close it behind her. Duty greens, her own for a change, and her laptop are coming with her. "Looks like the intel you get down in Marine Country is a little bit outdated, Lieutenant." easy footsteps carry her towards the table where the marine S3 has been working, apparently. Being BFFs with Captain Vakos might give Leyla some insight into what's written on the screen, but if it does, she's not letting that secret out.

Vandenberg looks up to Leyla and lifts her chin, stopping the tap of a pen on the table. "Yeah. Shitbags stole all the intel and we don't have access to much down there except what the initial recon brought back. I doubt we'll get anything more until Tac or Command decides to proceed with a mission." She takes a breath and looks back to the map. The mish-mash of Canceran is insertion notes, requirements, profiles, and a sundry of other notations jotted down in slang. "Anyhow, I wanted to wag jaws with ya about what we saw and what we are going to be looking at. Ordinarily I might talk to your squad leader or Major Hahn but I trust you. And I know you can handle the pressure and you know exactly what happened. Got time to go over some scenarios? I don't want to pull you away from more important stuff." Another tap of the pen.

"The difference between you and me, Lieutenant, is that everything Intel knows, they get from us. You have to wait until they pass it on to you." That's not said in any sort of disparaging way. Leyla, arriving at the table, sets down her laptop, and rummages around in her shirt pockets, pulling out a data drive, which she plugs into the laptop, before linking it up into the system. "The data you're missing." Indeed, it seems to be the full spread, downloaded right from the raptor's systems. "I've got the time. I'm not due back on the flight deck for a few hours."

"I'm all too aware." Van is obviously not amused by the remark, but its definitely -not- directed at Leyla. Probably towards Intel and Tac. "I had assumed they had swiped everything, though. Good Lords, you're my hero, darlin. Thanks!!" Van moves around the table, fishing for a pack of smokes from her pants pocket. She offers one to Leyla before continuing. "Your backseater and I talked after the debrief, too. Keep this way down low but I don't think Command wants it released to anyone; the packet the ECO downloaded? She's going to try and get it. At considerable risk, I believe." Tit for tat, Van passes that along. "Okay, well here's the deal: I spoke to my CO last night. She gave me permission to begin planning a landing operation on Gemenon. There have been absolutely no orders from Command or Tactical pertaining to this coming off at all, so everything we are doing is subject to change. But I've narrowed it down into a couple of scenarios. Got any questions before we dive in?"

"Would you pass intelligence on to anyone else without finding a way to keep a copy for yourself? Why would the Harriers operate any differently?" Now, whether or not Command outside of the Harrier's SL actually knows that that happens, is another matter. "Tell her to hold off, let me see what I ca manage before she goes putting her commission in jeopardy." As for questions, no. A shake of her head confirms that, "I'm just the bus driver."

Vandenberg chuckles. "I don't even pass along most of what I get except to Marine Intel where appropriate. Or to the people that can make direct use of it. It sounds bad but there's a lot of mistrust floating around right now so watch yourself." Her voice grows more serious as she speaks. "But if I see her, I'll let her know. She has probably already tried to get at it so no promises." The Marine takes a smoke from the pack and lights it. "Nah, you're more than the bus driver. You've got guts. We need guts. So, considering what we saw, first and foremost, I want to know what you think. I've got my own ideas and I'm hopeful about what was seen.. But what does your gut tell you?" Van couldn't possibly know more than what she saw.

A shrug, from Leyla's shoulders, as she settles in at the table, adjusting her laptop, so that she can send information to the screens when she needs to, "That we need to go back and find out what's going on down there. It may be that the cylons have made some sort of peace with the people who are living there with them at the Falls. It may be that it's all some carefully contrived ruse. But we need to figure out exactly what's going on down there and get as much information on what the cylons, individually, if that is just a rogue element, and as a whole, if they know, are doing."

Vandenberg nods once in firm agreement. "I couldn't have said it better myself." The Marine S-Three takes a drag of her smoke. "Personally, I'm not convinced that everything we saw was legitimate. I'm skeptical as hell but geez if I don't want to believe we've got some akinner allies down there." She ashes the smoke into a nearby tray that's already got a few discarded butts in it. "When I went to Major Willows last night about it she agreed that we should draw up two plans in case Command asks for them: First, we do a public landing and get escorted in like those Raiders did with us. Second, we do a covert insertion of Marines to do recon. I don't mind sayin that option one makes me nervous as all hell."

"I have never been of a religious bent, but the cylons clearly are, as are many of the people in the fleet. And more than a few of the beliefs people subscribe to speak of forgiving enemies and such. The more fanatical you are, the more your beliefs can change your world view. It may well be that those humans and those cylons have made peace with each other. How many of our own colonies had to do the same, after the unification? I'm Taurian, I should hate everyone, but I don't. But at one time, if I had been in a different era, I would have killed you on sight." A nod, as she considers the two plans, "The stealth drop will be difficult. We have no idea what sort of tracking stations the cylons have built up, nor the range of that basestar's ECM scanning. The second is just guts. It's being willing to walk into the house of the enemy and meet it face to face."

Vandenberg chuckles. "Amen, el-tee. Cancerans are scrappy by nature. It ain't just the blood, either. But nothing like the end of the worlds to unite us, mm?" The Marine flicks her smoke with anotehr firm nod. "I consider myself very religious. More-so now than ever before. But I try not to let that influence how I view things - which is hard as hell sometimes. I don't know or think that I could ever bring myself to befriend a Cylon knowingly. But given the nature of skinjobs and the likelihood that they are aboard?" She shrugs. "Anything is possible. I think anyone in full control of themselves would think twice about killing a skinjob that had been their close friend and confidant for the past year or more. Even I would." She's looking to the laptop through this and finally looks back. A few moments pause, then: "Okay, so by your estimation it would likely be nearly impossible to insert a Marine recon team if we landed a Raptor? Not if we wanted it to remain secret?"

"And why not? Why would it be an unthinkable thing? Because they destroyed the colonies? Because some unknowable they killed nearly all of the humans left alive? Like Marko likes to tell me, we don't KNOW anything about these things. We only know what we remember. We believe what we have always believed. That as human beings, we are superior to all other life, and that intelligence that is not human intelligence is suspect. But we have no way of knowing. We made the cylons, but who made us? We did not come from the Colonies. We have no record of who and what we were before we arrived here, except for passages in a book. We have no way of knowing how we began. For all we know, we might be no different from the Cylons. We made them. What if the things you and those who believe as you do, call the Gods made us, and we rebelled, and left the world they made for us? Does your book not say all of this has happened before?" But perhaps that is a subject for another time, "we could possibly use the planet's magnetic field to shield the raptor and it is small, but we would not be able to put you down close to the temple, not of they have raiders patrolling, and we have to assume that they are protecting themselves somehow. Especially if this is a rebel faction of cylons."

Vandenberg listens to Leyla's questioning and simply gives her a nod. "All valid questions. The scrolls tell of some sort of cataclysm on Kobol that beckoned humanity to flee. For all we know, it was caused by humanity and not the Gods - if the parchments are to be believed. I don't advertise my faith because I don't like others to possibly feel like I impose it. Especially leading Marines. It can create some uncomfortable conditions. But those are all worthy questions, el-tee. Some I hadn't considered myself." She drags on the smoke, seemingly unphased by it though perhaps a little thoughtful. "Interesting points, nonetheless." The smoke is tapped before she continues. "If I wanted to put a team on the ground would our options be essentially limited to a high-speed airborne drop masked as a recon run near the Falls? Or we'd have to land somewhere outside of detection range - possibly on the other side of Gemenon? This is my main concern: If the Cylons know we are coming and putting boots down, they can construct anything they want for us to see. I want a naked view of what they are doing. I'll listen to you, el-tee. Ground ops are my thing. You tell me how best you think we should get there given secrecy and safety to your Raptor."

"The problem with hating the enemy, is that too often hate clouds your ability to study the enemy, to find out how they think, how they operate. How they live. Where their weaknesses are." But Leyla shifts her attention to the laptop, bringing up a map of the canyons near the falls, "We'd need to finish the analysis of the materials, but we could possible land a team in the ravines here, but again, we'd need to find the best way to mask the raptor's signature. Or find a way to mask the DRADIS so that it doesn't show up on their sensors. But that's nearly impossible. if we use drones to send phantom signals, they may assume that we are attacking them and attack us."

"I had a similar discussion with Madilyn, actually," the Marine intones easily. "If I meet them, they are the enemy. Marines are trained to kill the enemy. But what I saw through my binoculars sure did not look like the enemy. Annnd?" She draws a breath as she says that last word. "To be honest? My investigation is too important for me to just kill on sight. I would risk my life, no questions asked, to get face time with a skinner that was willing to talk. I have no want to shoot first in this case." She seems to mean that, too. She's completely calm about it, taking a drag and blowing the smoke away when she finishes. "If you could get us into those canyons, I could probably climb out. I'm not so sure about the rest of the Marines but we could give it a shot. I've had to deal with worse on the job and in free time. Read an article about them in a magazine a few years back and considered trying them for leave one year. But-" She dismisses it with a wave. "Last thing we want to do is put them on a war footing outwardly. Barring that, is it possible to mask a Raptor? Would we want to?"

"It's nearly impossible to mask Colonial signals. Now it might be possible to turn off that system completely, but I'd need to speak with Marko and Trask about that. Their knowledge of the raptor's systems are way beyond mine." Which is why she's the pilot, and they are ECOs. "it might be better to send the friendly force first, scope out their defenses, the way in which they run that area, and try to work something out afterwards, while we're still there. They didn't seem inclined to want to leave immediately. And if this is some ruse, it might weaken their defenses, as it were, to allow them to believe that we've been taken in by it."

"Mmm. Yeah, see what they say, would you? See, I have no problem adapting tactics to deal with whatever needs to be down. We can do an insertion for almost any kind of flight profile you need. Obviously a public insertion doesn't suffer any of these problems but godsdamn I don't want to walk out of a grounded Raptor to a line of Centurions. You want to twitch my trigger finger? That's it." Vandenberg taps at the smoke absently. "Wouldn't you all have detected any air defenses they had initially? Even leaving them turned off.. Man I seriously don't know what to think," she finally sighs. "Those Raiders? Just playin like a couple of kids in a billabong, yanno?" A hard drag of her smoke later, she looks back to Leyla. "You guys got any indication those Raiders could pick up a change in the Raptor? Like is we were flying formation and they couldn't see the door with their eyes, think we could jump?"

"I suppose that's why they teach us discipline. I didn't like falling into formation with them anymore than any other pilot who's been in the trenches the last year would, but I had to access the risk. If I had evaded, they might have destroyed me." She, as much as anyone, knows how defenseless the raptor truly is. "If they have the same sensors we do, no. Our raptors can track heat signatures. Even inside of buildings. Just masking the door wouldn't be of any use. And again, we could track defenses we can recognize, but we have no idea what these things are capable of building. We couldn't even register that ECM basestar until we were in the audumbla cloud." As for the raiders, "For all we know, those raiders are children, or child-like. We only see them when they're fighting. When they're not…who knows what a machine thinks, or feels."

"Heh. I'm a land warrior. I was reachin' for my gun when I saw those things roll up next to us. Fat load of good it would have done but still." A heaved breath leaves her. "Its humbling. But about the door.." She takes a drag of the smoke once more and stubs it out as she speaks up again. "Well I'd like to do a night time insertion if possible. But I don't want to alert them that something is up. Evening would work if we could insert with us between them and the sun. But it sounds like landing is probably out. Can you all jump into atmo? I know going in low altitude would be risky but.. lower would be best."

"If nothing else, you could have made sure they couldn't get to us to do what they did on Leonis." Mercy killing does have to happen on occasion. "They probably don't need to see us to know that we're there. The best option might be to jump in from a distance, and then use whatever ground vehicles might still be around to move into position." A lift of her shoulders, "We can jump into the atmosphere if we need to, and out again. The concern, when jumping into a place with gravity, is the displacement when the compression wave collapses. if we're close enough to something, the wave can destroy it. Which is why I instructed Shakes to expand the field as far as she could, in case we needed to destroy those raiders flying with us." Bertha might not have guns, but occasionally, she can still show her teeth.

Van looks right at Leyla. "That would absolutely have been something I would have done if necessary. I'd have shared some intel and put it to you all on who wanted to end it right there." The Marine is a serious as a gunshot wound to the face. To the rest she looks back to the maps and turns to a sectional a few hundred miles from Lampridis. "That was the initial plan for Cowboy. We'd drop in where we could and steal ground vehicles. The problem is actually finding them. If we can't, that's a long hike in occupied territory. Even then, getting spotted from the air is a big risk." To the rest she nods easily. "I'm talking five hundred to a thousand feet AGL. Something where we could static-line jump out of a Raptor. We can jump from anything down to about two hundred feet above the treetops. We can also do a LALO insertion but that?" Vandenberg shakes her head. "That's damned dangerous and I don't think its worth the risk."

"I know," comes Leyla's answer, to the Marine's affirmative response to the idea of mercy killing. Some things don't really need to be discussed far beyond that. "The raptor can jump in close to the ground, that isn't an issue, especially if we jumped into one of the canyons and then lifted out to find a place to set down. But we'd still need to go back and do more scouting. I don't know how much information this ship has on the terrain of the planet, or how outdated that might be post-Warday. But jumping low and then landing high might be the best option. I've been trying to work on a 3D rendering of the recon we brought back, but it takes time for the system to extrapolate information."

"If you think you can land a Raptor and ensure that we won't be detected, I'm all for it. All jumps are a risk. Landing is not - except to the mission. I don't know what constitutes detection, though, from your end. We just need to make sure they don't know we've put boots down. I don't even want them to suspect it. A HALO or HAHO insertion is out because its just too damned suspicious." Vandenberg leans against the table with a hip, eyes still skimming over the maps. "One of the few places we can land is the open area around the town of Lampridis. Otherwise its mostly trees or rough terrain."

"I'll see what I can work out, once I talk to Marko and Trask. I will see if Trask would give the go-ahead to speak to Cidra. She might have a better idea of what the area looks like." You know, being Gemenese. "If they can find me a dead space, where the cylons wouldn't be able to detect us, I can land it." Confident much? Well, she's not dead yet, unlike so many of her fellows. Finally, the pilot grabs one of her own smokes, lighting up, and considering, "And the raptor is small, despite how it looks. I don't need much open area to set down."

Vandenberg nods a few times. "If she asks, I've got permission from Marine Command to be doing this. Just remember that when this is discussed that its all hypothetical until orders come down. If orders never come, though…" Cowboy. "We need to know what's going on there." She's stern-faced about that. "As far as landing, whatever works. I'm adamant, though, that we put a recon team down there before we land any group of ranking officers to talk to these Cylons - if that's what they want. Anything else is just godsdamned stupid. If we jump in its a fair bet they will try to escort us again if they detect us. And they're waiting. They know where we are coming in. If we can jump before they get on station, right after the FTL completes, they will never have a chance to know we even inserted and you all can fly your mission as fragged." As planned, in Marine speak.

"It may go easier without the ranking officers. If they see us putting out feelers, instead of sending out an intellectual raiding party, as it were." Leyla shrugs, it's not really her sort of gig. "I just know what I know from the military, and that the best way to get up someone's ass, is to come at them with big brass waving in their face. And they know where we plan to meet them again, we could use that to our advantage. Bring in two raptors, one to meet them, the other to drop the marines."

"I'll make first contact with a recon team if they want. I'm not going to assume anything at this point. But I understand the sentiment. As well, brass may not be as interested in striking up a conversation as I am. I'm not exactly friendly but as I said, I have better motives than blowing their heads off." For now. Vandenberg looks up from the maps and nods. "We could. But then landing is definitely out. We go in with the lights on and music blaring they'll be sure to be watching us. A single Raptor might work better. But..?" She shrugs. "Honestly? That's your department, el-tee. You've got my requirements. How they are accomplished is entirely your ballpark."

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend. And given how differently they treated us, compared to the rest of the cylons we've met…well, ever, they might well turn out to be our friends. Sometimes, a compromise has to be reached. That was how we secured peace for forty years, all those years ago. For all we know, this may be our new Armistice Station." A nod, as Leyla powers down the laptop, "I'll get back to you on the landing plans." She pulls the data drive out of the laptop's input, "You can keep that. If anyone finds it, I don't know you." That's jokingly said, mostly.

Vandenberg gives the pilot a slow nod. "No pressure. First unrestrained, non-combat contact with known skinjobs by the Colonial Military and they're met by Marines, potentially?" She chuckles. "Hell, I could think of a worse way to do it: Could always have Command be there." The Marine smirks and takes the thumb drive. "Thanks. Yeah, I'll keep this buried and out of the wrong hands. If you need to contact me in regards to this I'll ask that you keep all communications off the computer networks. Send me hand-written note by runner if you need or find me personally."

"I remember what happened the last time we let 'Command' meet the cylons." And they lost the knife as a result of it. Leyla rises, setting all of her things to rights, after she wipes the record from the system of the information she sent to the screens. Having a hacker for an ECO is good for little things too. "I'll get the information to you as quickly as I can."

"Yeah. I was there for that one," Vandenberg says grimly. "Its still fresh in my mind. I still have yet to gauge just how important that loss was except that it was huge." The Marine stands off her lean to make room for the pilot to leave. "Thanks much for coming by. I'll look forward to hearing what you've got."

"I'll try not to be too long." But now that she has all of her things in order, and a course into which to direct her work, Leyla begins to make her way to the door. Looking back only for a moment, "We were all enemies once, Lieutenant. Now, I consider you a friend." And with that, the taurian steps out, back into the hallway.

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