Aldrich gets to use his diplomatic skills to try and win over some Sagittaron insurgents. Donny gets to use...other skills.
Location: Highlands - Sadah Province - Sagittaron
Related Scenes: None
Plot: Operation: Watchtower
Scene Number: 1479
Once the usual military pleasantries are out of the way and everyone's situated, Ryan says, "We have an unusual opportunity before us. Intel has identified a village that has been serving as a base for one of the main local insurgent groups. They're led by one Eric Chambers." He hands over a picture for them all to look at, showing an older gent in his fifties. "We want you to approach the village with a white flag and convince them that it's in their best interests to either join the fight against the Cylons or get the hell out of the way."
After a moment to let the likely surprise settle in, he continues on. "Chaplain Kavanaugh will take point on the negotiations. The rest of you are his escort, but you were also chosen for your backgrounds. Different colonies, setting aside differences to work together, seeing the brutality of the Cylons first hand... use your imaginations. Show them that we're not their enemy, the Cylons are. Defend yourselves if you must, but otherwise try to avoid bloodshed. We'll have a pair of Raptors on standby to pick you up in minutes if things go south. Questions?" He looks around at the group.
Noah usually half-sprawls through briefings, rangy of build the way he is. The Colonel's presence puts a pin in that, though. Like the others he seems curious about the unusual arrangement, arms loosely folded and attention squarely on Ryan.
The news that this is a diplomatic envoy -- of a kind; 'get the hell out of the way' sounds a lot like making an offer they can't refuse -- quirks one of his brows, but the look lapses back into neutral after only moments, and when they're asked if there are any questions, all he does is slant his gaze toward the other soldiers in the room to see if any of them do.
Aldrich had taken a place somewhere close to the back of the room, or wherever he might be out of the way. Which makes sense, since he's typically support. He perks up a little when the nature of the mission is revealed, growing a little more sharply interested. When the Colonel mentions that he's meant to take point, no one is more surprised than he is. His brows shoot up and he glances to the side, but he at least manages to disguise it behind a slight cough before lifting a finger to indicate he has a question. "What authority do we have to negotiate with them, exactly?" he wonders, tentatively. "In a perfect world, they'd step aside out or even join the fight out of the goodness of their hearts, but... Can we offer anything tangible? It might help grease the wheels, so to speak..."
Cate's eyebrows go up when she hears the details of the mission. The medic is still not quite at 100% - as her bandaged left hand attests - and she slants an uncertain glance towards Aldrich. She has no questions of her own though.
The Colonel may be casual, but Donny isn't one bit. Curious? Of course. Nervous? Oh yeah. Standing at ease, though still stiff as a board, Donny's eyes are glued to Ryan as he attentively listens to the officers briefing. His eyes fall to his feet at the mention of backgrounds, and then his eyes are falling on the others present. When Aldrich poses his question, Donnys gaze is back on Ryan - seems he's interested in the same thing.
The little sound Noah makes is trapped somewhere in his sinuses. Almost a snort. Not entirely. "Protection from being completely annihilated because they're too fragmented to mount a coherent defense seems pretty tangible to me." The remark is sotto, dry as the desert below them.
"That said, common sense isn't as common as it used to be." The colonel offers a wry smirk there. "If they join the war effort, Caprica, Libran and Picon are prepared to back their bid for independence in front of the Quorum when this is all over. And if that's not enough to sway them... we're prepared to arm them, as long as they keep their guns pointed in the right direction. That's a last resort, though."
Aldrich shoots a look toward Noah, the sort of disapproving frown that they must teach in chaplain-ing school. Then his attention is back on Ryan, listening attentively. He nods a little. "All right, then. And if they seem like they might need other things? Medicine, food, that sort of thing?" he wonders. "If they're lacking these things and we're willing to help, it will go a long way to making us look like potential allies, rather than enemies."
Ryan nods to Aldrich. "Use your discretion, Chaplain. As long as it's not ridiculous, offer what aid you can." He looks around to see what other questions anyone may have.
Donny eyes Noah for a second at his remark, before he's looking back to Ryan. It wasn't a very nice look. "They aren't proper bush fighters, that's for sure." The words are a murmur under Donny's breath, his eyes flicking between the Gunny and Colonel before he asks, "Let's assume they decide to work with us... Are we aiming to let them do their own thing as long as it's scrapping Cylons, or are we trying to work more closely with them?"
"A lot of that will depend on them," Ryan says. "I'm not ruling out coordinated efforts, though the Royal Marines will probably have a thing or two to say about that. My main concern is for them to stop being an impediment."
The Caprican -- that's Noah -- fails to look chastened, though he catches the look from Aldrich, observing the exchange between the chaplain and the Colonel the way he is. It's a look he answers with a lazy, lid-eyed shrug, and he'd probably offer Donny the same if he'd noticed the look he's getting from the other direction. He doesn't.
If there's any depth of rationale behind that unyielding stance, he doesn't offer it. He's quiet, extending his boots in front of him and dropping one ankle over the other, listening.
Cate also glances to Noah, but there's a tiny smirk when she does. Otherwise, she remains quiet.
Murray also seems to have no questions.
Aldrich nods sharply, "Thank you, sir. That's all I have." And he goes quiet to listen to the answer to Donny's question.
The Scorpian slowly nods to Ryan when he gets his answer. "Understood, sir." Donny sniffles a bit, but afterwards he seems to have no more questions. He's beginning to look less nervous and a little anxious now, actually as the heels of his feet dig into the floor.
When it's clear there are no further questions, Ryan nods. "Kit up as usual in case they decide to be unfriendly. Good luck." Then it's down to the armory then to get their weapons and armor, and then to the Raptor.
Noah unfolds himself from his seat, rises to his full height, and falls in as the lot of them make their way out of the briefing room. En route, he manages to sidle up next to Aldrich, one hazel eye turned toward him and down, watching out of the corner. He keeps his voice pitched to a volume reasonably intimate. "You think I'm heartless, right? No tact? That's wrong, though." Both shoulders roll, up, forward, down to square again as his gaze shifts to the fore. "I was in orbit over Caprica when it all went down. It's memorable, watching a planet get bent over a barrel from that high up." Two paces of silence. "I'm not saying it's wrong to go in offering antibiotics and hugs, chap. Kid gloves are great, if they work. But they don't work, and we sure as hell need to paint a vivid picture of the consequences. Not getting that message across isn't gonna do them any favors."
Cate glances over to Donny as they head out. "What do you count as bush fighters?"
Donny suited himself up in silence, mostly. He caught his thumb in his zipper, which meant he only really let out a "Frak!" so far.
As they're on their way to the Raptor, Donny's eyes fall on Noah as he listens to him. His brows furrow, and that look is back again. "We're talkin' about guerrilla's here, y'know? They're civvies and members of their community first, fighters second." Beat, and a looking forward again.
"I think th' chaplain has the right idea. If we go in tryin' to appeal to them as soldiers, we're gonna be setting ourselves up for failure... But you're right in that we have to get the bigger picture across to them. But if some of us aren't careful, we could be startin' a two front war." When Cate asks her question, Donny looks over.
"Well, they're usually folks who know the land and can easily blend in with civilians. Mostly small arms, using ambush tactics and never fighting directly. I knew these guys on Scorpia who made a convoy go missing... But I think it mostly boils down to maneuverability, support from the locals, solid communication and big brains thinking up who to hit, where, and why."
Aldrich joins the group to head down to the armory. He glances up when Noah falls in beside him, and raises an eyebrow. He's silent for a moment, considering everyone's words. Finally, he offers, as he walks. "I certainly see your perspective, having seen it from space." He smiles, faintly. "Me, I was down on Leonis. The part that's now under Cylon control. I tended to the bodies of the people the Cylons butchered on Canceron. Trust me, I can paint a vivid picture, if I feel that it's necessary. But you're right about one thing. I /don't/ think you have tact. Prove me wrong down there and let me do my job, eh?" With that, he smiles his friendly chaplain-smile and heads into the armory. There was a time when he would have chosen to go unarmed, but times change. He chooses a pistol, which he can wear a bit more discreetly than a rifle.
The Chaplain's comment about the people on Canceron gets a grim look from Cate, but then she's listening to Donny. Inside the armory, she dons her armor, buckling it up a little awkwardly. She looks over at Donny. "Yeah, well, they sound like bush fighters to me. They're in a village, ambushing the marines." She shrugs. "But you're right, we make it about their community. They can't get their freedom if the Cylons massacre them."
"Fighters second," Noah agrees, hazel eyes ticked up in Donny's direction. He lets Aldrich peel away from his orbit without another word, and seems no more inclined to bridle to what was said or how it was said than he did the disapproving looks in the briefing room: it all just seems to roll right off of him. "Which just makes it that much more important they stop trying to kneecap actual soldiers." He finishes adjusting various straps and buckles, makes minute adjustments to his kit, and -- presumably having said his piece -- lapses again into a relaxed but focused sort of silence.
Donny shrugs to Cate, his right brow rising and a tilt of one corner of his lips up. "I haven't fought them with yet, I wouldn't really know. But if we're still kicking around down there, they must not be that good of bush fighters." Donny looks over to Noah and tilts his head. "No complaint there." he says, and then he's falling silent as well as he gets his head in the game.
Cate shrugs to Donny. "If the Virgons haven't gotten rid of them by now, they can't be that bad either." She grabs her SMG and slings her medic pack over one shoulder, then she too seems ready to go.
The only observation Aldrich has to make is, "Not sure you can judge their effectiveness by how well they stand up to the CF. That's not really a fair fight." And then he's moving on to wherever, going quiet as he typically does on missions. Praying or thinking, it's all the same from the outside.
The squad, armed with an actual white flag on a pole (helpfully waiting for them on the Raptor) approaches the village.
Inspirational photo: https://ih0.redbubble.net/image.7354542.7252/flat,1000x1000,075,f.jpg
Nobody shoots them - that's a plus - although a pair of boys who'd been knocking about outside the village runs in as they're spotted. Presumably to warn people. The first few buildings they pass show no signs of life. As they move further in, people clear away. But a few curious ones - including the boys they saw running in - peer at them from windows or the corners of sidestreets.
They reach a little open area and there are three armed people - two men and a woman - standing there to meet them. Keen eyes can see other potential threats in some windows and on a nearby rooftop. "What the frak do you want," asks the man in the center - the one from Ryan's picture. Chambers was his name.
There are countless small ways to telegraph presence. Minute changes in the set of a person's shoulders can be the difference between coming off as hostile and predatory or dejected and shrinking. People of stature learn this faster than most; it doesn't take much to strike an intimidating silhouette when you're big, and sometimes that's the opposite of what you want to do.
Noah's got that reality nailed down for a certainty, because there's nothing in the way he carries himself as they descend toward the village that screams 'soldier on business.' He moves with a great deal of self-control and possession, but his shoulders aren't squared to stiff and his expression isn't hard. His eyes are everywhere, but even that manages to look more like curiosity than a perpetual sweep for threats.
He's also silent when they draw up in front of the man of the hour.
Donny is quiet during the ride. He's staring at his feet and his thumbs and wrestling one another. When the signal comes in for their landing, hs looks up. There's a thumbs up to the ECO, and Donny's somewhere in the middle of the squad as they're filing out of the raptor. He wants nothing to do with holding the flag, though.
Donny's rifle dangles from its sling around his neck with a hand holding it by the foreguard, unloaded with his magazines in his pouches. He did make sure to put a round into the chamber though, for good measure.
Donny walks along, humming the Leonese Foreign Legion anthem to himself along the way. When they come up on the village, Donny is already looking relaxed. His eyes are on the boys that run back into the village, and then around at the others clearing away and looking back at them as they move inwards. He gives some folks a small grin here and there, before they reach the area and Chambers speaks up. "Well. You're th' talker, holy man." he offers in a mutter to Aldrich.
Cate keeps her SMG slung over her shoulder. Armed, but squarely in 'medic mode' at the moment. Wary eyes look around the open area, noting threats.
Cpl. Murray brings up the rear.
Aldrich looks around as they walk in, catching sight of people here or there peering out at them. He doesn't have to make an effort to be non-threatening. When he spots the boys, he gives a friendly smile and a finger wiggle, but otherwise he focuses on the walk in.
When the armed group is waiting for them with the very fellow they're looking for, Al steps forward, ignoring the other potential threats nearby. "We just want to talk," he says, holding up his hands in a gesture of peace. "It's Chambers, right? I'm Chaplain Aldrich Kavanagh with the Colonial Forces. Al, if you like."
Chambers looks from one face to another. He arches an eyebrow at Aldrich's introduction. "What've we got to talk about with a military chaplain?" He asks in disdain.
Donny looks back and forth, taking in the sights of the village. His free hand comes over and begins scratching his beard. Being the man he is, he's immediately giving the armed local woman a big dumb grin. He's still just letting Aldrich do the talking.
Aldrich smiles, totally unphased by the disdain. "What does anyone have to talk about with a military chaplain?" he answers, mildly. "In this case, I've been sent as... Well, an ambassador, of sorts. I'm sure you've noticed we've all been dealing with the problem of the Cylons lately? I was hoping we might come to an agreement that would help us both fight them more effectively. And hopefully save a lot of lives in the process."
Cate waits for Al to talk first, flanking him. After he's done speaking, she chimes in, "We're not here to take anything from you. We're not your enemy - the Cylons are."
The local woman arches an eyebrow at Donny. Is she impressed? Perplexed? Not clear. She says nothing though.
Chambers still looks dubious. "We've seen your people. Down at the Virgon airbase. Standing their guard posts. And we've seen the news. The CF is nothing but a sham for the Capricans trying to take advantage of the war they started."
Donny keeps up the grin sent the womans way a bit, eyeing her for a moment before he's looking back over towards Chambers and Aldrich. He's still paying attention- kind of. His grin threatens to fade at the accusation of being part of a sham.. But then he's back to sending flirty looks at the woman. Donny's on his own mission of diplomacy here.
Aldrich shakes his head a little. "Well. Speaking as a Gemenese native, I'm probably the last person to take the side of the Capricans," he points out, mildly, but then grows more earnest. "I understand wanting to defend your way of life. And it may well be that the Capricans /started/ this, but trust me. I've been face to face with these... things. They don't discriminate. Capricans, Gemenese, Virgons, Sagittarons. They don't even care if you're a soldier, medic, or a man of the gods. They kill us all equally. I've seen what they do with my own eyes. If we can't learn to work together, I fear we may die together."
The woman exchanges an amused look with the other man - the one not Chambers - as Donny's flirty looks continue.
Cate nods her support of what Aldrich has said. "And I'm from Hibernia. Believe me, I've got no love for the Virgons either. But as bad as they are, the Toasters - they'll kill every man, woman and child in this valley without a second thought. We're trying to stop that."
Chambers frowns at Cate. "I haven't seen the Hibernians laying down their arms either, girl. You of all people should understand." He looks at Aldrich then. "They want us to stop fighting them? All they've got to do is leave. With the FSM, and our people, we can defend our own land."
Donny is having a good time, she's having a good time. It's a good time. Donny looks over again, still trying tabs on what's going on. There's a lopsided frown now. "If only they /would/ frak off to their own colony..." Donny looks back over to Chambers, "I'm Scorpian. I'm not about to say I know what you're going through- I don't, really, but kicking people out of my home was more common than I'd have liked back there. Guess people like to try and take what isn't theres." There's a pause, and Donny looks downwards. "Problem is now if we don't stop fighting and work together... There'll be nothing of anybodies." He's done his bit, and then he's back to macking it up with the gal.
Aldrich shakes his head a little. "All right," he replies, glances to Cate, then back to Chambers, and smiles. "That's one option. But..." Donny makes his comment, and Aldrich looks down, nods, and looks back to Chambers. "Humor me for a moment. What are your experiences with the Cylons? Have you fought them, yourself?"
Cate's jaw tightens at Chambers' words, but she maintains an even tone. "I understand that he's right." He being Donny, in this case. "If we don't beat the Cylons, there won't be a Hibernia to defend, or a Sagittaron. I've seen them wipe entire cities off the map."
Chambers is still frowning, but there's a crease now in his brow that might be thoughtful. Hard to tell. "We took out one of their patrols," he responds. And while there's a smugness in his tone, there's also a hint of sadness.
Which might be explained when the local woman takes her eyes off of Donny long enough to look at her leader. "And we lost three people doing it," she reminds with a hint of reproach.
Donny nods slowly, looking up to Chambers. His eyes flick over to the local woman, then there's a moment of silence. "I'm sorry for your loss." he offers them all, before he looks back to Chambers. "I've lost friends to them too. I've been getting trying to even the score but... It's not making me feel any better." There's a pause, and then Donny sighs. His expression is a bit more serious and sad now. "But as long as we hold onto the grudges between ourselves, those are less bullets being shot at the cylons and are instead getting more our own killed. Bullets that could stop one of them from killing ten of ours."
Donny looks up to Chambers, more serious now, with a furrowing of his brows. "How many of your patrols have they taken out?" he asks.
Aldrich nods a little, allowing Donny to offer his two cents. He clears his throat, and gently offers, "On Canceron, they invaded an air base full of trained soldiers and killed most of the people there. Very few of us escaped alive. Those they didn't kill, they experimented on. This isn't a PR stunt. I personally handled the bodies. Those people were tortured and then butchered in ways you can't even imagine..." He presses the point, a bit more urgently. "On Canceron, I saw them mow down children without hesitation. I've seen them shoot unarmed medics simply because it's the more efficient way to exterminate us. They don't sleep. They don't stop. And they're learning. This enemy is beyond what you can handle alone. And if I'm totally frank, we can't afford to let them get a foothold here. But I've been informed that if you stand with us against the Cylons, then Picon, Caprica, and Libran are prepared to back your bid for independence, once we've beaten them back."
"Thanks," the local woman says to Donny, frowning sadly.
Chambers looks to him briefly, before frowning at the question. "Just the group they went up against. Mostly we avoid them."
Cate points out grimly. "You won't be able to avoid them once all the soldiers are gone. They're not an occupying force. Everything Al said - it's all true. And I've seen it on Picon too." Her mouth draws together in a thin, pained line. "I know how much you want the Virgons gone. But right now? We have to survive."
Even Murray, who's been quiet so far, decides to chime in. "I'm from Sag. I left the Leonese province to join the FSM. The free zone has a seat on the Quorum now. Helping the CF - getting the support of the other colonies - that's the way we're going to get our planet back."
Chambers listens to all of this. And although his frown hasn't eased, he does squint at Aldrich. "What exactly is it you want us to do?"
Donny rolls a shoulder, nodding to the woman. He grits his teeth for a moment before he looks back up to Chambers. "At the minimum, a ceasefire. However, I believe that we- being the Cee-Eff, could benefit from working more closely with you. You know the land, you can help with reconaissance. In return, I'm sure we can help secure aid for the communities. Food, water, medical supplies... Necessities like that. I'm sure we can also come up with some other things you may need." Donny stops, blinking as before he looks over to Aldrich, "But... That's just my idea. He's the ambassador." he says with a nudge to Aldrich, realizing he may have stepped into the chaplains territory with that.
Aldrich brightens slightly at Chambers's question, and then Donny is talking. He smiles, patiently, watching him. Gotta love marines. Once Donny is done, Aldrich clears his throat, and looks back to Chambers. "If you join forces with us, it'll be that much sooner that we defeat the Cylons. And you'll be a lot more likely to win your planet back if you aren't fighting on two fronts. Not to mention the value of the allies you would earn... But at the very least, we just hope that you'll agree to stand aside, just for now. We don't want to fight you. We just want to rid the colonies of this menace."
Chambers looks to the other man, who shrugs, and to the woman, who nods. He then returns his gaze to Aldrich. "I'll need to talk to my people. But I think we can work out at least a ceasefire, until the Cylons are gone. How will we contact you?"
Donny moves over to nudge Aldrich with an elbow, leaning in to mutter with an amused snicker. "I totally stole what you said from briefing." he says, a grin on his face before he steps back and looks between all the locals present.
Then Donny is taking out a paper and a little pen, scribbling something out- looking up at the woman and then back down to what he's writing.
Cate smirks at Donny, relieved when Chambers seems to be coming around. "Yeah, nice one."
Aldrich glances aside at Donny, smiling, but then a little distracted as he notes the marine start scribbling something. He clears his throat a little, and looks back at Chambers with a little smile. "Good. Good... Of course." He glances aside at Cate, then back to Chambers. "We can come back, say in a few days? Or if you like, I can stay as a gesture of good faith, while the others head back to report."
Donny finishes scribbling something out before he looks up at the mention of staying. He looks to Aldrich, "I'll stay." he says, looking back to the local woman with a smile, "I'd be happy to stay. I can even help drill any fighters you folks have." Even if he doesn't get this- he has his written out backup plan resting between his two fingers.
Cate reaches out to touch Aldrich's arm. "The Colonel will skin us alive if we come back without you."
The local woman smirks. "Drilling's always good," she deadpans back. Then looks to Chambers. "We could stand to learn more about the Cylons."
Chambers looks between her and Donny, rolling his eyes a little, but then nods. "That's fair. Come back day after tomorrow, you'll have your answer." He extends a hand to the chaplain.
Aldrich shakes his head at Cate. "He'd get over it," he says, with the confidence of the person who wouldn't be the one in danger of getting skinned alive. He takes Chambers's hand and squeezes it, with a little smile. "Day after tomorrow, then. Thank you for being willing to talk with us."
Donny glances back to Aldirch, Cate, and Noah before he steps over to hold out the folded piece of paper to her. If or when she takes it, he's stepping and walking backwards to fall in with the others, curling a hand into a loose fist and jutting out his thumb and pinkie- holding it up to the side of his head.
"Call me." he mouths to her with a wink, before he feels something bump his heel. His eyes fall on the sandy, dusty, and somewhat torn soccer ball. There's a tilt of his head to the side, before he looks up to where it rolled in from. Eyeing a kid at a building corner, he gives it a kick with the side of his foot to let it roll back to them before he's back with the rest.