PHD #446: Let's Step
Lets Step
Summary: Three marines prep for a little trip.
Date: 18 May 2042 AE
Related Logs: Gemenon Jump, Bannik
Ciro Constin Vandenberg 
Hangar Deck - Starboard
This Hangar Bay is filled with boxes, crates and other various supplies that are needed throughout the ship. Most have been moved to one end and lashed with tarps to keep them out of the way. The place has gone from extra ship storage on one end and the ability to house over 450 people on the other end. At the moment, however, the room is bare of people save those going about their duties. Most of the space here is given over to housing a large, rather strange-looking transport vessel. Marines guard this area 24/7.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear
Post-Holocaust Day: #446

With this section of the Starboard Hangar Deck secured off, only a select few individuals are being let through: Only those cleared to know. Marines stand guard, watching over the doors and hatchways to keep everyone else. In a small Viper bay, all of the jump equipment is lain out with the names of each individual's equipment taped to the wall above it all. Vandenberg, dressed in a set of brown and green ACU fatigues, not the normal uniform, is sitting on an ammo crate beside her gear with her head bent forward.

Constin had been folding, packing and triple checking the team's parachutes under the eyes of approved Air Wingers. Carrying one pack in each hand (two marines behind him duplicating the feat for a total of six), Elf greets Vandenberg simply, as he walks up: "Captain. Where you want the rags?"

Van looks up in surprise and caught off guard. She blinks a few times and looks to the gear. "Uh, stick them with the names. If they're random then it doesn't matter." She takes a breath and looks back to her closed fists, opening them. There are two figures there, unmistakable to any colonial: Ares and Athena. War and Wisdom. The woman swallows and rises, tucking them both into a breast pocket. "Ready for this, Elf?" she asks quietly. Its a peronal question, not a professional, worded low enough that the other Marines won't hear it.

Constin sets the two packs down, grunting a short command for the two jarheads behind him to do the same, before dismissing them. He makes no comment as to either Natalie's surprise, or the reason for her distraction as the icons are tucked into her pocket. "Hell, I'm sweating what shape the boat is gonna get left in more than this business of the World, Nat." A moment's pause before he wonders evenly, "How you holding up?"

Van watches the other Marines disappear before she reaches into the crate under her. "No shit," she jokes. A small compact is taken out and opened. Its not the typical feminine colors: Green, Brown, Black, and a lighter Tan. "Figure they'll be in anarchy while you're gone. Dogs n cats living together and all that insanity." She cuts him a smirk. She's tense, though, and its probably obvious to someone like Elf who is fro mthe Old World. Fingers dap into the grease and she begins spreading the tan around her face in the mirror. "Me? Well, I'm worried about everything. Of course, that's kind of my job. Fret, and fret about." She starts across the burns and scars on her face. "I offered Sondray one of the Cavaleras. He said he'd prefer the Delta Mikey GMAR, by the by. Hope we don't end up wishing we'd brought it."

Constin nods once, shortly on the subject of Ciro. "Good call on his part. Don't think he's rated on medium arms." A belated dry sniff follows. "Shit, I'll take dogs and cats any damn day of the week, long as they can mind the damn regs." He rolls the right shoulder in a slow stretch. "If we need anti-armor, think the mission is a clusterfrak anyhow. What's got you so wound up, anyhow? ..Or is it a who?"

"Me either. That's why I said that if he wanted to take it he'd have to have you clear him." Van looks up to him from the mirror with a smirk. Its the same expression any other woman might give looking up from a kit of blush. Her eyes go back down quickly as she finishes the spread and works for the brown, starting on her neck. "I'm pretty sure dogs and cats follow regs better than half the people in this fleet. That chat I had with Bannik was ten tons of fun, though. Shouldn't be surprised he threw personal insults, though." She lifts her chin as she hits the underside. "Yeah. We need anti-armor, its a Grapeshot. Probably. Never know. I'm just thinking about everything.." Nat hears the last comment and glances to him. She's blushing, even under the greasy paint and it shows in her short smile. "Maybe it is a 'who'. Maybe not. But she's coming with me where its important so I'm not too worried about that." She pauses for a moment and ventures a glance to him. "Missin your wife about now? Heard she was a hellcat for this stuff."

Constin smirks as Natalie begins to blush, he snorts when Bannik is mentioned, and the big marine gives a low chuckle under his breath while a proper grin cracks his face at the last. "S'how I could tell it was a 'who'. Last time I ever thought twice about whether a mission might kill me is when Lauren was alive." The words are spoken with a fond grin. "Besides, it's hard enough trying to come in under weight caps without trying to pack a damn Karl."

Natalie chuckles, looking down for a moment while she works the brown in around her cheekbones. "Yeah, we've talked a lot about that. Worrying about each other while we have a job to do…" It fades away quietly, fingers taking up the green. "It was one thing on Aerilon while I was with this one guy, Connor." She pronounces it 'Connah' through her accent. "This is different. We're both combat arms. Didn't realize how hard it was going ot be to say goodbye this morning." She sniffs dryly, toughing the green through lines vertically. "Oh yeah? She was a big fan of the Karlstovs?" The compact is apparently done on her end and she turns to him. "Gimme ya face. Men always do this wrong." Painted, greased fingers waggle in front of him. "Ya know somethin, Elf? I didn't know ya before a string of months ago but I can tell she's still there. Still watchin those videos, yeah?"

Constin settles down on the ammo crate in turn when Vandenberg instructs him to 'gimme ya face'. He doesn't nod or smile as the grease paint gets applied, but an easy grin is audible in his voice as he answers, "Yeah, I know she is. Talked to me one time," he notes simply. "Heh. Yeah, still watching the videos. That girl likes Karls, same reason she likes missiles, and bombas and all manner of shit what goes boom. For her birthday? Cut a deal with Sigurd Mackay, up in Weps to get her behnd the trigger of one of the boat's big guns for a targetting test."

Ciro arrives from the Dual Stairway.

Vandneberg starts with the same light tan base, smudging the greasy camo makeup around Constin's face. He's sitting on an ammo crate in front of her. There's even a light, playful little light slap with the initial application. She's grins with it, too. Nothing like a little Canceran love. Its spread around easily, working it in around his stubble, though. "When we're down there and ya ain't shavin, apply the light stuff under the hairs with some black," she notes lightly, tilting her head as she applies it. "Sounds like one helluva birthday gift. Blastin shit from the big guns? Bet she got a kick out of that, yeah." There's jump gear all around with weapons and ammo stockpiled, each person's personal gear matches with a name taped to the wall of the otherwise empty Viper bay. "Talked to you one time?" Her brow lofts with it. The Captain is quietly religious and he'd know it. Its not beyond her scope to believe it and that's betrayed by her expression.

Elf sniffs shortly at the camo advice. "Girls and their damned makeup, I swear." A snicker follows the barb, before he moves on. "She would've," Constin answers simply to the notion of 'getting a kick out of the big guns'. "Got shot up couple days before she could," he notes in explanation. His only answer to Vandenberg's last question is a plain, "Yep."

The sound of boots stepping across the deck plating comes around the corner. His trademark mohawk is slightly damp from the shower and two day's worth of growth lines his face, having opted to not shave so that the dusty wind of Gemenon wouldn't smear across the small cuts in his skin from the razor. The look on his face is quiet, but the experiences are all the same. The shower was long…because he may not get another. The meal was eaten slowly for the same reasons. He is ready to face death. "Mornin." Ciro says as he passes behind Vandenberg, coming to a stop in front of his gear, going through his checklist. "I take it we don't have a mirror?" He asks in reference to Vandenberg applying Constin's facial camouflage.

Vandenberg smirks at the makeup remark. "Don't be hatin. Proven fact we're better with this than you swingin cods, aye." She winks at him, dabbing at the green. Its smudged up over his cheekbones and around his neck. "Mmm. Damned shame. That's a great gift. Sounds like you two had a good thing goin." She then moves for the black and touches it around his hairline. "Heard a lot about dreams, brother. Ain't heard about the dead talkin' up. Sounds like a gift from the Gods. You think it was really her I take it. Not just your mind." Its almost a question. She then hears Ciro and looks up and nods. "Ey, Ciro." First names for this time of preperation, apparently. "Aye, here." Natalie smudges some more black to her fingers and hands the military compact over to the DM. "Gonna ssume you know how to apply this." A paused glance over to him. "Ready and willing?"

"Ain't never put this shit on before," Constin drawls without shame to Ciro's quip about not having a mirror. As Vandenberg makes those last comments on the subject of the dear departed, the big sergeant returns, "Told me about this letter she left. Intel wouldnt release it to me for a few week, but yeah. It were her. And damned but if that ain't a girl who shoulda been born on Canceron." Prompting aside of Ciro, "Sondray, you been qual'd on the anti-armor guns?"

"Ready and willing." Ciro repeats in a more affirmative manner, reaching out his arm to snatch the compact from her grasp. Quietly, he does the last few checks of his gear and then turns, lowering himself into a seated position on a nearby pair of crates. Setting the compact down, he flips it open to allow the small, circular case's mirror to remain in a fixed position. "Yeah, I qual'd before Jharkhand. Am I gonna be carrying that instead of the 24 inch GMAR with AP rounds?" He asks, glancing towards the Gunnery Sergeant and then back to his equipment as he smears the first bit of the tan-colored base.

"Mm. She left ya a death letter, she did." Natalie nods a few times, finsihing up with the black on his nose and chin. "Alright, you look like a right proper digger now, yeah." She slaps his shoulder to indicate that he is done. One doesn't spend eleven years in mountain warfare without knowing how to apply warpaint. "Well, ya may not believe, Elf, but you'll see her again. Someday. Ain't a fightin man alive that ain't doin right by the Gods." She winks and steps back, turning for her gear. "You said you wanted the GMAR, Sondray. I'm not going to tell you otherwise. As far as I'm concerned, we're packin what we are comfortable with. Less the Gunnery Sergeant has other ideas?" She glances over the Elf as she kneels beside the gear, picking up the chute webbing and slinging it around her shoulders.

Constin grunts a short, "Nah," to Ciro. "Even if there was a good reason to bring anti-armor on a recon jump, don't want to take a rifle outta your hands til I seen you on the big gun. When we get back, yeah?" he drawls, before turning his eye back to Vandenberg. "Hell, I know it. Ain't no dread for 'some day', yeah?"

Ciro continues to smear the warpaint over his face, watching himself in the mirror as they speak. Mostly somber in mood, he leans forward to check a spot before continuing to work the paint over his pores. "When we get back, yeah. If we're going back later to punch holes, I'm going to want to punch some big holes." He smirks, lifting his chin, gently applying some more. "Gonna be a pleasure droppin' with you two, huah?" He comments, a small note of camaraderie, the side of his lip curling into a smirk.

Vandenberg begins attaching the chute around her sternum and waist. "Some day? Well if that's your goal then I wish ya the best of luck. Ever carry a picture? Or just the memory in ya heart?" The Captain's accent is thick at this point for whatever reason. Three Cancerans suiting up for a combat jump? This is home for her and its plain on her painted face. The mirth and confidence in her eyes is unmistakable. As she finishes the attachments around her legs she looks to Elf once more. "Alright, Cons. Let's start packing me up. What all you have me carryin? I also packed a few colored smoke and willie pete grenades. Figured three more pounds won't hurt." She then looks to Ciro and grins. "Oorah, brother. If we die, we die together fightin for each other. Ain't nothin more Old World than that. Ain't shallow pride around my eyes for that, yeah. But if we make it back and we're punchin holes? I want dibs on a Cavalera. I ain't shot one in years. 'Bout eight pounds of fun that is!" Her grin grows MUCH larger as she positions herself to be checked out for rigging by Elf, her arms above her head.

Constin chuckles deep in his throat at Ciro's words. "You had a combat jump before, surfer boy? Sorry you wasn't on board for the grown-up jumps, but glad to have you with." A nod to Vandenberg as he rises from his seat on the crate, to start loading down the Captain. "Hers is the third dogtag," he notes to Natalie, thumbing toward the trio of hexagonal tags around his own neck. "Damnation, we got enough Grizzlies for both of you to play, arright?" he states with a short barked laugh at the banter between Ciro and Natalie.

"Got my pictures, but the chapel makes for a shit place to say prayers." Ciro murmurs, lowering the front of his lip to make sure that he gets complete coverage of the base, tan color. For emphasis, he pats the left breast pocket of his camouflage shirt, which is starting to match color with the warpaint he's applying. The blunted shark's tooth he normally wears is no longer around his neck, likely hidden somewhere safer for a parachute drop. "Combat yes, combat jump no. My cherry's getting busted on this one, and I'm amped." He leans back, going now for the dark brown color, making diagonal streaks down his face and over his brow-line. "As far as the Cavaleras are concerned, I feel I've more than earned dibs. You pull rank and get me stuck woofin' this GMAR next drop and you can go frak yourself, Natalie."

Natalie looks at the dogtag and smirks. "Surprised they let you keep that. That's love, though. Ain't a triffle arguing room there." She grins up at the man as he begins loading her down. "Ey, love me a Cav, but I ain't shot one in years. I'll let the big boys play for now. Damn thing knocked me on m'ass. Good fun and all! Just not my cup of tea." She then looks to Ciro and chuckles. "Said m'prayers right here few minutes ago. I ain't fond of chapels, either. Besides, nobody needs my religion in their faces. Figure prayin over equipment is as good as it gets." She sniffs once and rolls her eyes. "So many haters. Fine, I'll jump the DM next round and I'LL shoot the thing. So picky. Like a sewin circle in here. yeah."

"We all got two tags. One stays with the body, other goes on file for book keeping," Elf notes to the dogtag surprise. "I keep that book close, is all," he quips. Eyeing Ciro anew at the man's 'amped' enthusiasm, Constin cracks a grin. "Heh. Welcome to the one-ninth, boy: where every Em-pee is a commando and every grunt can fly."

"Probably good of you not bringing your religion to the chapel. Seems you and I are the odd ones out, not praying to a tiny little ball of overconfidence with glasses. It's gonna be nice getting away for a few days." The compact is clipped shut and is slid across the floor to come to a stop near Vandenberg's gear. Ciro rises and steps back over to his gear, starting with his belt pouches and his ballistic vest. The grin in his voice is evident as he continues to strap on his gear, currently making sure the holster on his thigh is secured against his leg. "Guess, then, this finally makes me a one-nine officially then, right?" He chuckles, his back to them. "What's it with you two and sewing circles? There some sort of frakkin' secretly-a-pussy club I don't know about?"

Natalie nods a few times to Elf. "Good man. Rare dedication from what I've seen. Course, different rules these days. Not like tags need to be given to next of kin. In the seventy-third, we'd keep the tag and nail it to a wall in our camp. Held up the picture we had for them. Had a big banner over it with the Marines flag. Most caretaken part of the camp, that was." There's not a small bit of pride in her eyes, the woman exhaling deep with the memory. She then turns for her rucksack and begins attaching it to the gear on her stomach. "My religion is my religion, Ciro. It doesn't belong in command, your face, or in an official chapel. Shits killed too many people for me to take it anywhere else but to heart." Its said quietly while she finishes the attachment. "And maybe. If we do, its our own sewing circle. We attach things like airborne tabs, killshot counts, and our own wound numbers." Nothing like good bravado.

"Fella, if there were a 'secretly a pussy club', not only would you know it, you'd have started the damn chapter," Constin drawls back to Ciro, with a tight grin. He barks a short laugh to Vandenberg's answer, nodding once to the words, "Oorah, to that. Apart from that killshot count horse-shit.. what you think we are Air Wingers?"

Something about their conversation actually quiets Ciro, forcing him to continue working on his gear. He props his leg up, sliding a knife into the sheath that runs alongside his boot, and then does a final count of his ammunition before he starts to load the clips into the pockets on his vest and belt. He lets them talk. Instead he deals with his own business on his own terms. He's murmuring something under his breath that doesn't have the cadence of prayer, perhaps speaking to the dead.

"Air Wanker is more like it, yeah." She puts up a hand to slap the man a high-five. She can't mean it, but its the Marines. Gotta kick this up before a jump, right? The woman snickers at the comment at Ciro, too, and she begins pulling up rifles to start securing to her jumpsuit. The woman is already looking weighed-down. If she tried to walk at this point, likely it would be more of a waddle. "So Elf, I got than mandate. Think you talkin to your wife has anything to do with anything? Or is that just for you?" Its an honest question. Va ndoesn't seem like she's going to force the issue into personal territory more than that.

The high five is returns with a sharp crack and short chuckle. "Huh?" Elf prompts of Vandenberg's latter question. "I don't follow. What mandate you mean?" No offense in his voice or manner, simply brief confusion as he double checks the Captain's jump rig, before loading on her battle rifle.

The Captain lifts her chin. "My investigation I've been into. Had to talk to people about their dreams, what they've seen and felt. That kind of stuff." She lifts her arms while the Sergeant goes about attaching her own and the gear other people can't jump. "Same kind of revelations people have been having about Lampridis. Hell, the CAG had her own suspicions about this place. I went to talk to her about the dreams? All of a sudden its something that needs to happen. How do you think Cowboy got its start?" There's a short, knowing smile with that.

"Ah," Constin grunts as understanding dawns. A short shake of his head. "Nah, this was just her and me. No talk of anything else, just what mattered between us." A short chuckle stirs his throat at Natalie's last. "Figured it was just on account of you being bored," he deadpans.

Vandenberg nods a few times, letting the man work. "Hey, no problem then. All for you. I'm not lookin to shove my hip someplace it don't belong, aye." She shakes her hips a few times to make sure the gear is attached firmly, even bringing up a hand to pull on what has been attached so far. To the last she snorts. "Hell no. At that point? If I got bored? Go get laid. It was never about boredom. There's always been a purpose, even if you're just proddin with a joke." She smiles with it. "We've needed to go to Lampridis for months. Sometimes I wish we'd gone through with Cowboy, but this is good. Not quite what I had in mind, but it provides official backup. If we need it, we could get support."

Constin nods once to the former comment, snickers once to the second, and nods again to the latter. "This is better. Support or no support, we know more, now. Always best to jump knowing more than less, yeah?" A few straps tightened, as Elf ticks over the minutae of Vandenberg's kit. "Got your jump knife in easy reach?" he prompts to remind her.

"Yeah, good point. But I can't help wondering how it would have went if we had jumped before. We could have amended months of evidence into one high-risk operational jump to pursue that investigation." Nat looks up to him at the last question and nods to check. She reaches for it and finds it a little hard to pull. "Frak," she grumbles and begins remounting it. Its her first static jump. "Look, like Bannik or hate him, he's got a point. If him and I are right, this could be the single biggest boon to our operations since the war kicked off. But, here's the thing." She reattaches the knife to the front of her gear. "If we're both wrong? This team will find out. I'm not jumping in there with open arms. There's too much at stake. But damn, Elf, if my prayers didn't go to something specific. If its real? We need this. Bad."

"It ain't Bannik's message that pisses me off," Constin answers directly. "It's the way he ignores discipline, and encourages everybody else to do the same that makes me want to pull his teeth out." As to the last, he rolls his right shoulder in a half shrug, rubbing at it briefly with his left hand. "The stakes dont matter to a recon job. You know, same as me. We find the truth best we can, regardless of whats hanging on it." A drawn breath. "That said? Yeah. We do."

"What pisses me off about him…" Ciro finally breaks his silence, stepping over them with his parachute firmly attached, ready to have heavier things strapped to his body. "…is that he's casually forgotten that dreams are always self-interpreted and that being wrong means the end of our species." Whatever dark thoughts had him previously occupied have been tucked away to the same place he always keeps them. "That and he fails to see that ideologically the only difference between him and Kepner going rogue is that he's trying to do it with prayer. He's a dangerous, arrogant little shit."

Vandenberg reaches out to clap her hand to his shoulder. "I know." She's a little unsteady with all the weight on her. "He'll get what he has coming to him. We can still bust Damon on Frat charges if it turns out he went lenient. Then? Damon's dismissal doesn't matter. We can bust him. I don't like this shit anymore than you do, but I can't get direct like you. I ain't the head Sheriff in this town." She grins, dropping her hand. There's a simple nod to his last. "I brought that up to him, Ciro. The problem is that these dreams? Its not that simple. We are talking about numerous dreams, often shared between more than just one person. What chaps my ass is him thinking that he's a mouthpiece and that the Gods annointed him with that power. And? People listen. I know more than he does and you don't see me getting in everyone's face with it." Natalie grumps at the last. "Dangerous? Better believe it. He's going to get people killed."

"Hell, you ain't gonna get no argument from me," Constin drawls to Ciro's sharp words. To Natalie, he grunts, "Even the Sheriff don't write the rules. Drives me up a frakking wall that it takes three folk checking and balancing each other to get anything done, and only one dumb frakker to bog the whole damn process down." A bullish snort out the nose as he sets about getting into his own jump harness.

"Frak dreams. I know people have been having them, but I dream of the dead and it's not bringing them back to life any faster than it is ending this war. Maybe if he were the slightest bit humble about it I'd pay attention to the guy, but instead he's making sure his name's plastered all over this. He doesn't seem one bit apologetic or burdened by carrying this message, instead he's gathering bodyguards and his own support staff. What's that they say about the Quorum members? The right people for the job'll never frakkin' apply." Ciro snorts, nodding in agreement with Constin. Hefting the weight on his back, he starts to secure his weapon and the knife on the front of the front of his vest for cutting away his chute. "You all thinking what I'm thinking? That this is gonna be really frakkin' annoying if these Gemmers have dreamed of him too?"

"If wishes were gold, right?" Natalie offers to Elf. "When we get back, we neautralize him if we have to. I ain't talking about bending rules. Frak that. Damon told you he believes in Bannik as a messenger of the Gods? That is a straight frat violation when you look at Damon dismissing charges. After that? Bannik can't hide behind the Chief anymore. We just need an example of Damon going hard on someone." The Marine Captain seems sure of this, her eyes narrowing as she cinches the harnesses. She couldn't sit down right now if she wanted. To Ciro she chuckles. "The people that should run for office don't because they're too smart to run in politics. Yep. Heard that in my PoliSci class my sophmore year. Funny how that applies to Bannik. Got a woman in front of you perfectly able to make a coherent argument not jaded by bullshit. Funny how I'd rather follow the chain of command and get it right rather than mouth off." She waddles a few steps over the Elf to check his straps, tugging tight. "If they've dreamed of Bannik, I'm out. Hands down, I'm calling Grapeshot. Period. He might think himself mighty but I refuse to accept that the Gods have sent dreams to these people of a child like him. That's a trap. Period. I will not send the fleet to Gemenon." She looks between them. "And I expect the same from both of you. Use your judgment, gentlemen. Trust. Your. Gut."

"Well my gut right now's telling me I'm a frakkin idiot for not getting myself laid before this drop." Ciro harrumphs, strapping his rifle into place and grabbing his headgear…all ready to go.

"That ain't your gut, fella," Constin drawls with a tight grin to Ciro's comment. Double and triple checking his own rig, as well as the lie of his gear, the big man nods once. "Maybe that's what all this fuss is about. Little Bannik ain't been laid in too long. Pipes get stopped up and bullshit starts flowing."

"Speak for yourself, Sondray." Vandenberg smirks at him before turning and she takes her helmet off a high rack. She left it for last, knowing she wouldn't be able to bend. Its securely attached and the chinstrap drawn tight. The Captain shakes her head for a doublecheck before sticking her right hand out. "Hands," she orders. Taking both of theirs in her right. The woman closes her eyes and takes a long breath. "Lady Athena. Grant us the wisdom to act intelligently. Stand beside us on this mission so that we can draw from your strength of spirit to make choices that will help us and the rest of our people. Be there through the thick and thin. Through the hardships and through the easy. We ask that you help us to recognize danger and to accept honest pleas. We ask that you work with Ares to help reinforce the warrior spirit and provide us the mindset of the battlemaster. To the men and women that have come before us. To the Marines that have walked this path before and our forebearers of the flag. Give us the might to kick some serious ass if we need to. We will not fail as long as you stand behind us. In your name, our Lady." She takes a final breath and releases their hands. Taking a step back she looks between the men. "Its time. Let's step, gentlemen. Semper Fidelis."

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