PHD #011: The Long Game
The Long Game
Summary: As Oberlin and Kulko review the latest intel, what starts as tactical planning slides into a debate on grand strategy.
Date: 09 Mar 2041 AE
Related Logs: Destruction and Tasking
Oberlin Kulko 

Combat Information Center

The central nexus of the ship, the fighting capability all stems from here. With entrances on both sides, an entire section of the wall will twist its armored glass and doorframes out of an air locked position and allow access. At the rear of the room is a standard hatch that allows access as well. Computer terminals sit in a semi-circle around the main plotting table in the center of the room. DRADIS and other essential readouts are displayed on screens that hang from the ceiling. Forward and aft are a set of glass plots that hang vertically from the ceiling and provide the crew with the ability to coordinate air traffic operations in the easiest way possible.

Having actually remembered to shave before duty, Oberlin steps into CIC with a small bundle of paperwork clutched neatly against his duty blues. A rather bored, annoyed look is plastered all over his face, as he shakes his head from side to side as he walks. He immediately makes a beeline towards the EW lead station, depositing one folder gingerly upon its edge, before making his way to the plotting table, sighing in the most dramatic, put-upon way he can.

Kulko is watching DRADIS. With coffee. Kulko always drinks coffee while he watches DRADIS. You know that! It takes until Oberlin gets closer for the ensign to notice his arrival, but as he does, he snaps to crisp attention and offers a salute. "Officer on /deck/" he announces, to a rather unimpressed CIC crew.

A weary sort of smirk takes hold on Oberlin's lips as he twists to meet Kulko's gesture, lifting his right hand up for not the crispest of salutes in return. If the reaction of the other crew doesn't exactly inolve hopping to, he's not exactly rattled. "The day I end up being called 'Cerberus Actual' is a sad day indeed, Ensign." He says, in mid-sigh. "Come look at this, if you have a moment."

Kulko looks about somewhat self consciously, then approaches the table with a peppy "Aye, sir." He sets his mug gingerly away from the papers, on a stable part of the plotting table. "What have we got?"

"The pure, horrible truth." Oberlin says, with some cold sarcasm. "Basically all the shit you don't want to see. But between this and the great Goose Hunt that CPO Atreus pulled, I'm going to need three extra heads. I have a feeling you're going to get a workout." With that, he points at the opened folder and starts thumbing through some very sparse, direct notes about the state of each of the Colonies as per the individual recon missions."

"Gods below," Kulko mutters as he starts to look over the documents sent his way. "I didn't know we'd been to the other colonies yet - I mean, heard scuttlebutt n' whatnot, but the Skipper was so quick to spill the beans about the Cylons that I thought info'd be comin down the pipeline right quick."

"These are the secrets no man ever was meant to know. What I want to know is, why is everyone so obsessed with the bad news?" Oberlin mutters as he too pages through the documents. "There's been a steady trickle. Mainly because Command doesn't exactly want inaccurate and false rumors to get out." He swallows, roughly. "Of course, the real stuff seems worse. Look at /this./" He points at the Gemenon write-up, eyes narrowing. "Are you a sucker for mysteries, Ensign?"

Kulko focuses his attention on the octagonal paper in question. "More a fan of shoot-em-ups, myself. A good scrappy underdog sports flick. But yeah…" He lifts the mug and takes a long gulp of the brew. "I don't get it. Nuking the religious sites seems like a morale-buster. But as far as they know, they wiped out every human in the Colonies… so why bust morale if there's nobody to hear about it?"

"Funny thing is, every time I walk into the Chapel here, Sister Karthasi and I end up talking about Pyramid." Oberlin snickers a little, dryly and amused which is rather jarring when contrasted with the grim subject matter of the conversation. "I am genre-blind, Ensign. Good art can be found anywhere. So can cut-rate, hack garbage. But that's just my take." He clears his throat pointedly. "Anyway. This - Yeah. Unless the Cylons are motivated towards some kind of cosmic statement on blasphemy. If they annihilated the majority of the damn Fleet and the Colonies themselves, why are they doing this? And look here — Virgon looked ready for us. Maybe it was a precaution, but still. Then there's Caprica. And look at enemy deployments around Leonis?"

"Sure, and I've sat through a romance or three cause some pretty lil' thing thought it was /so/ /sweet/…" Kulko muses, leaning over the table and looking over the scouting reports in turn. "Virgon… yeah, ack-ack was ready for us. But then, I heard down in the rec room that the toasters were waiting for our boarding party in Chimera's CIC. Not doin' nothin, not conducting salvage - waiting for us. Like they knew we were comin'." The next two sheets get cursory glances, and he drains the last of his coffee. "So… they fortify Virgon, the shipyards, Caprica City. They leave a whole mess of juicy targets untouched and camp them out. The question is…" At this, the Ensign raises his eyes to meet Oberlin's. "Are they being thorough? Covering their asses in case someone got away? Or… do they know for sure?"

"You should have seen what my ex-wife dragged me to." Oberlin says, with no small touch of a rolling of his eyes. "Heh." He snickers, although these little digressions fade as he weighs the rest of Kulko's speech. He shakes his head, vigorously. "Virgon. Yeah. Seeing Virgon was — eye-opening. They set that up damn fast. But that's a side note. The only way to test your theory is via weight of numbers. So looking here, what are /your/ thoughts on where to strike? At this point," He smiles thinly, "There are no bad answers."

"Where to strike…" Kulko echoes, lost in the paperwork again. "Well, Virgon's right out… we've blown the element of surprise. So they know we're coming, and it won't help confirm anything. Picon and Leonis are suicide missions - as far as we know, we're the only human battlegroup left; we can't repel firepower of that magnitude. Doesn't seem like there's anything really left to save on Gemenon…" Kulko shrugs. "Honestly, sir? I say we hit Aerilon and see if we can salvage any provisions. That is, if there's anything that's not glowing."

"Gemenon wasn't exactly developed to begin with." Oberlin says, ruefully as he stares down at the reports. "Leonis, unlike Picon has infrastructure and resources left. Caprica's a big mystery. If there is surviving urban infrastructure that isn't nuked to shit, I'd be curious. A lot of this, though, is conjecture. As it stands, we don't have the manpower to split our forces, even for some kind of diversion. Although it would be nice." Musing further, he adds, "Maybe some kind of booby trap in Virgon's debris field. We're going to be pulling a salvage operation. Your Aerilon suggestion…What do you think we'll find there?"

Kulko runs fingers through his hair. "Yeah… my first thought was food. We don't know how long we'll be out here, y'know? But if it's anything there like everywhere else, none of it will be close to edible." He looks back down to the papers on the map table. "I think there's a question we haven't answered… What are we going to /do/ with this infrastructure even if we can drive off the Cylons? Resettle? Are we just gonna keep throwin' lead at them till we run out of lead?"

"Maybe we can nab ourselves another cow for a ritual redo on Sister Karthasi's account. Come to think of it, when she did that, she predicted bad omens." Oberlin says, bemusedly, although his tone is decidedly dark. "Who'd have thought it?" Kulko's question provokes a pause and a pointed stare at the Ensign. "You know what I think, Ensign? Unfortunately, it's probably a fairly easy guess what I think." He doesn't actually say it. But there's something in his tone that just conveys it — fatalistic.

"I mean - not for nothin' - I know we're all pissed." Kulko straightens up into parade rest. "Hell, I'd be happy to spend the next few months ripping toasters apart till my fingers bleed." Not that it would take very long. "But look at those DRADIS printouts. If we go after any of the major industrial centers, we might as well just scuttle the battle group now. And the fact that Caprica City is still standing is suspicious as all hell - my gut says it's as much of a trap as Virgon. No, sir, this is a textbook case for takin' to the hills and running a guerilla campaign. At least till we know what's what."

The response on Oberlin's part is a flat stare, and a bit of tension visible in his shoulders. "You're good at this." He finally notes, breaking his few, drawn-out moments of silence. "No. You're absolutely, positively, completely right. Best-case scenario? We find some other survivors. We've got chop out there. Hell, theoretically, we can replace our lost planes, it's just the pilots we can't. This is the most advanced Battlegroup the Fleet had, and they don't seem to know where we are. Quick strikes and disruption of their operations, if they really have some kind of method to all this madness, will ensure that although the future may not be as long as we like, it'll be bright." He pauses a beat. "With explosions." He clarifies.

Kulko leans down again, staring at the papers. "Hell, we can keep it going for a while, at least. We've got fabrication plants, we've got flight simulators, and we've got five hundred civilians in the hangar bay with a bone to pick. We ought to have the recruiters in there from reveille to taps." He taps the Virgon recon report, looking up to Oberlin. "But we need to know whether we're being outguessed, or if security is compromised. So." He shuffles the papers, and lifts the Caprica report. "A feint?"

"It takes more than simulators to train an officer. It takes years. Still? Better than nothing, I suppose." Oberlin tentatively agrees, as he stares over at the paper Kulko is fingering. "System security is another issue entirely. One of the reasons I've been out of CIC of late." An attempt at a smirk flickers and fades. "But yes. A feint. Start by trying to examine /what/ the Cylons have been doing, and formulate a plan. If we could get our hands on a sample of their tech, figure out how it works? We're fighting machines, here. We have to think so far out out of thet box, the gods damn thing should be thrown away and set on fire."

"Would it be too obvious if we let a false target filter down through the ship?" Kulko brainstorms out loud. "We go one way, send a Raptor another way, and wait to see if the frakkers show up at the decoy. Meantime, we actually jump in at our real target, maybe capture some POWs or salvage or whatever it is we need."

"Maybe. But I'm not ready to make the assumption that they have that level of communications visibility when it comes to us." Oberlin declares, shaking his head slowly. "At least, if they did, we'd be dead, already. Unless they're just toying with us. But that counters their apparent doctrine of total force." He blinks. "We just need to study this more."

Kulko taps the sheaf of papers. "That doesn't solve our problem. Crew's angry. Skipper promised 'em blood… or oil, or whatever. So we gotta hit /somewhere/."

"True. But an emotional response against an enemy that might very well be /programmed/ with patience that comes with effective immortality is a bad way to go into a fight. We'll have a plan soon, Ensign. And a damn good one. /That/ is what we need to remind people. I do like your Aerilon idea. Or what about Sag? Our experience with that colony as a theater of war is the best of all of them." He sounds like he is toying with ideas still. "Ah, well, we'll get this ball rolling soon enough. Here's what should happen - come up with two plans. I'll come up with two plans. In all likelihood we'll end up submitting two combined ones to command together."

"Right. Short-term, it will help morale to hit the Cylons and bloody their nose." Kulko gathers the papers together and puts them back in the folder. "But if we're thinking long term, we need to find provisions. Resources, for fabrication. Somewhere to hide out and strike from."

"Something. There's a thing about peoples' hearts and minds, Ensign. You have to work to show people you mean business, and to gain their loyalty. Just making a token gesture for the sake of pleasing the more fickle types? Not a good idea." Oberlin says, as he straightens his stack of reports. "I have to go over these. I know," He continues, again with that rueful glance, "that this may sound like it counters what I said earlier. But we're playing the long game here. Even if 'long' isn't what we'd hope for." Dismissing this topic, he waves a hand. "But right now, we have work to do. Show me what you have later."

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