Tales of the 42nd: Operation Sapphire
+++OPERATION SAPPHIRE 0-HOUR -9 DAYS+++
Cecilia slowly stretches as she exits the companies command tent, as she looks around at the bustle of camp life as the troops prepare for the offensive that they all know is coming. Cecilia turns to Kiera looking like she is about to say something before the arrival of a runner stops her.
"Captain! Your presence is requested at Regimental HQ for the regimental briefing."
"Ok Trooper, Driver! Warm up the Salamander we are heading to regimental HQ."
"Afirm Captain, ready to go in a moment."
Cecilia moves over towards the back of her command Salamander as she pulls her beret out from under the strap on her shoulder as she puts it on as she gets in the rear, as she looks back to see Kiera getting in as well as she sorts her beret as well.
"Driver let's go."
The two of them sit in silence as they look out at Caledonians moving about the camp, most of them wearing the standard issue greatcoats as they weather has started to turn for the worse as winter approaches. The command Salamander pulls up in front of the Regimental HQ, some command Salamanders are already there, as the rest are just behind Cecilia as every senior command officer is present for the regimental briefing. Cecilia and Kiera enter the building that the HQ staff have taken over, with a slight nod and salute to the guard standing at the entrance. Once they enter the briefing room their eyes are drawn to the big command map on the briefing table that a few officers are already gathered around. Cecilia moves to join them with a nod to them while she does so, a few of the officers that notice her entrance return the nod before looking back at the map, just before the regiments CO coughs slightly and signals the start of the briefing.
"Ok, I'm going to cut to the chase. We have received our marching orders for the new offensive; the higher-ups are calling it Operation Sapphire. The primary objective of the operation is to link up with the troops cut off in the Hauescheh pocket, the secondary which will be of a lot more interest to us is to cross the Stanlow river against the traitors defending it. XXX Corps is receiving a Xailiv guard division and PDF division to make up our numbers. The corps is being split into three combat commands; Giant, the HQ and reserve command, Minerva the main assault and then Cougar the flanking force for this operation. We have been assigned to Cougar as the only non-Xailiv brigade."
As Colonel Grim speaks, they point at the map as their aide puts the icons for each combat command down at the staging area.
"The plan is simple; Cougar is to move to the east towards these secondary crossing points while Minerva prepares to assault the main bridges. At 0-Hour -15Day, the guns are going to open fire on the main breakthrough area to try and not expose our flanking plan of attack. The guns will stop the barrage at D-Day+17 0600 Hrs as that is the operations 0-Hour. At the moment the plan is for a battalion to take a bridge each, with two held in reserve, supported by a Xailivian Regiment, but that may change depending on the situation once we get there and have a better idea as to what is going on."
As Grim speaks and indicates on the map with each stage of the initial plan progressing, the officers nod slightly as they take notes and references for their own lower level plans.
"If there are not any questions, get your troops moving. We break camp in 4 hours."
With that, the officers nod quickly as they hurry back to their command vehicles and start to drive back to their CP's and pass the orders to break camp. While Falcon company is breaking camp, Cecilia and Kiera are in the back of the command Salamander as the look over their tactical map of the battlefield for the operation and begin to work out the plan for their company depending on its orders along with contingency plans.
+++OPERATION SAPPHIRE 0-HOUR -27 Hours+++
Cecilia and Kiera are lying down in the tree line on a small hill, as they look out at the bridges through their binoculars and the pouring down rain.
"It looks the same as yesterday Captain, almost no movement from their defences at all..."
"Aye it does look that way, and that is why I have a bad feeling about this. Something just doesn't sit right with me for all this. So much of this operation relies on surprise, speed and a quick breakthrough...we lose one of those things, and this operation could go badly very quickly."
"I know what you mean, but we will be ready for it when it happens. We are Falcon Company of the Black Watch, the best of the best."
Cecilia nods slightly, with a slight grin, as she looks back her Vox Operator before movement behind them catches her eye as a second later one of the Xailiv PDF officers appears.
"Corporal, send word back to the battalion that the situation remains unchanged. Lieutenant, what is it?"
The PDF officer snaps of a salute
"Lieutenant Alexandra Aloy, requesting permission to join your lookout and to apologise for my CO."
"Of course you can Lt, and it's fine I'm used to officers like him. And you where the officer I was in contact with at point Thunder, I mind your name. You are in command of what is left of your regiment aren't you?"
Aloy moves over towards them as lies down and crawls the final bit to be alongside them as they look out at the bridges.
"Thanks, Captain, and I am I didn't expect you to remember me. And I am, yeah, got just over 800 of us left, and as I am the most senior surviving officer they left me in charge just merged us with another injured battalion as the 6th and 7th company. Oh yeah, and the colonel of that Battalion has ordered my command in the vanguard to support the first attack of the 42nd."
Kiera nods to both of them, as she crawls back slowly before standing as she gathers her greatcoat around herself before departing back to the company CP.
"Hmm...just keep your people behind the tanks and chimaeras where you can and fight cover to cover. Though you don't need me to tell you the most basic of advice."
"Thanks anyway...I never imagined that I would be commanding so many troops so quickly or against former comrades..."
Cecilia nods slowly as she lightly places a hand on Aloy's shoulder before she goes to stand.
"No one ever does Lt, go get prepared and get some rest 0-Hour is just over 24 hours."
With that Cecilia starts to head back to her CP and her tent to follow her advice as she goes over the plan for the coming day. The battalions in the main assault are the 42nd, 91st and 25th of the 153rd Brigade supported by the artillery of the 89th and Xailiv Defence Battery and the 212th Caledonian Artillery, along with the 12/22nd Defence Battalion supporting 42nd, and then the 219th and 215th Defence Battalions supporting the 91st and 25th respectively with the rest of the combat command held back in reserve. Each battalion has a bridge to assault with the 25th 91st and 42nd attacking the left, centre and right bridges respectively. Gecko Company of 42nd is the vanguard company with Falcon in the second wave.
+++OPERATION SAPPHIRE 0-HOUR+++
The big guns fall silent just when it strikes 0600, Operation Sapphire has now begun in full. Cecilia watches from the tree line of the hill overlooking the bridge while she watches Gecko company almost crawl forward with two platoons in a skirmish line in front of the main body of the company with the tanks behind the transports, they would seem to almost just be rolling down the hill, with the remains of the 22nd behind that. Cecilia glances over to Kiera quickly, both of them looking on slightly on edge before she looks back towards Gecko company while they slowly start to vanish into the thick fog that came on during the night, which added to the heavy rain has reduced visibility to almost nothing.
"I don't like this fog Laski, it feels unnatural, and the timing is just a bit too good for the traitors for my liking..."
"I know what you mean Captain; the company is on full standby with the squads mounted in the transports and ready to go on your command."
"Good work Laski...As I said the other day, this plan relies on far too many things to go right for it to work and a plan never survives the first contact."
And if on queue from Cecilia words the sound of lasgun fire, followed by the sound of heavy bolters and mortars opening fire as the fog is lit up from the explosions and the lasguns, and the fire from the vehicles when they take AT fire and explode. Cecilia sighs softly as she and Kiera both tense as the lookout at the sudden engagement as a few orders are given out for the company to stand ready.
"Why do I even open my mouth..."
While they are stood there watching the battle below them, a command Salamander pulls up behind them coming to a stop moments before the Colonel of the 12/22nd Defence Battalion dismounts and walks over towards them, he looks down at what they can see of the bridge through the fog.
"Captain, take your company and continue the assault."
"Colonel, with due respect if I take my company into that it will be a slaughter. Gecko company is already taking heavy losses as you can hear over the Vox, we have lost the element of surprise and our speed of attack."
"I know captain I am not deaf, but my orders for you do not change."
Cecilia glances over at Kiera and the Vox operator who are in contact with the Battalion HQ who both just shake their heads slightly.
"Ok then...colonel, I will take my company forward."
With that Cecilia moves towards her command vehicle as Kiera catches up with her while they both jump in before it moves to link up with the rest of the company, behind the vanguard platoons and armour troop.
"Falcon Company! Advance, Combat speed 3!"
With that order, Falcon Companies engines flare into life with a roar before they charge into the fog and towards the sounds of the heavy bolters and mortars. When they enter the fire zones for the traitor forces on the other sides of the river, heavy bolter rounds begin to crash into the front hull of the Chimeras and Leman Russes but do little actual damage. Until suddenly one of the front Chimeras ploughs full speed into the back of a wrecked Leman Russ causing it to come a sudden a grinding halt. Falcon company passes through the lines of the 22nd while they close the distance to the bridge when they come upon elements of Gecko company hunkered down returning fire with the traitors. With the speed and the armour fisted leading Falcon company, and the traitor forces having already sprung their ambush, they manage to force the bridge quickly with the combined firepower of the two companies. The first platoon across the bridge breaks off from the main force of the company, splitting to either side of the bridge while they dismount to cover the rest of the company while it crosses. As Cecilia's command vehicle reaches the other side of the bridge, it pulls off to the side before she starts to dismount as she rests her hand on the handle of her power axe and she holds her boltgun with the other.
With more and more elements of Falcon company pouring across the bridge with the the remnants of Gecko and the 22nd, the battle for the crossing is soon resolved while the remaining traitor forces are either overrun or routed from the town and the bridgehead is expanded to include the hill on the far side of town between the two rivers.