Tales of the 42nd: Crows Wood
+++CROSSROAD TOWN OF BASTION, ARDENNES+++
+++036.000.M42 / 0700 HRS 13 JAN 41000+++
+++ARDENNES OFFENSIVE - DAY 9+++
+++SIEGE OF BASTION - DAY 7+++
With the encirclement broken, and the corridor along the Main Supply Route (MSR) to Bastion being expanded every hour with reinforcements and supplies slowly the loyalist forces have started to push the traitors back and expand their area of control. With the fresh troops taking reliving the weary defenders, it allowed for them to fall back to their supply bases to recover.
Cecilia slowly walks down the ramp of her command Chimera the moment it had hit the dirt after coming to a stop with the final surviving elements of the 22nd. She leans against the Chimera for a moment while she looks around the milling soldiers and vehicles, along with the medicare personnel running through the mass of people trying to triage the worst of the wounded. Cecilia pushes herself off from the Chimera to start moving towards the Brigade HQ to report in when her knees about give out under her, and she clasps a hand against the wound on her stomach from when a traitor had got a lucky shot off on her when she was in a melee. Lt Aloy happened to be close by and was able to catch Cecilia before she fell.
"Major, are you ok?"
Cecilia glances over at Alexandra, her vision swimming slightly while she regains her balance with Alexandra's help.
"Lt...I was sure you and your company were done for..."
"Not quite Major, not many of us left, but the 6th Company is not done for yet."
Cecilia smiles weakly at this while her vision comes back into focus entirely and she takes in the state of Alexandra. Her uniform with several rips and tears, her look of exhaustion along with her injuries and the stains of blood showing through her uniform. Cecilia takes this all in before she fully supports herself with only a little help from Alexandra, knowing that she can't be looking much better, while they walk to the Brigade HQ.
"I know that Lt, but even so...look around you, this is what is left of the entire brigade."
Alexandra looks up at the snow clouds that have returned to fill the sky after the brief break in them yesterday.
"I know Major...but we want to fight for our home. You and the people you brought with you gave us something we had never really felt before. Pride in our battalion, in its strength and resolve. Along with the fact a good few of the troops are calling you a hero already, with the way you lead that final charge and everything else you have done."
Cecilia laughs softly while she tries to brush off the fact that people have been calling her a hero and the fact that it has already started to spread beyond the Brigade.
"The real heroes are those that fought beside me and rallied around the flag. I didn't do very much."
Cecilia nods to the troops that they pass while walking along the path, all of them showing signs of injury. In the ones that catch her eye along with the nod and smile she offers to them, the change is almost immediate from one of despair and misery to one of the quiet strength of resolve. A faint murmur passes through the soldiers while word of her passing ripples backwards from the path throughout the troopers with more and more looking to her amidst the ruins of the Brigade. Feeling the eyes on her, Cecilia forces herself to stand a little taller and try to give off an air of confidence that she doesn't feel herself while she and Aloy cross the final few yards to the Brigade HQ and step inside.
The two of them take a deep breath of the heated air once they are inside the building, taking a moment to try and get some feeling back before they enter the briefing room. The Brigade commander looks up from the Hololith at their arrival.
"Ah, Major, good of you to join us, and I did not expect you to bring such a junior officer with you."
The brigadier can barely hide his distaste at Aloys presence, which she acts like she hasn't noticed. Cecilia nods to one of the Caledonian staff when they hand her and Aloy a mug of recaf, while she takes not of the brigadiers spotless uniform with a slight frown of her own.
"Sorry I was held up making sure the 22nd made it back and were getting the help they needed. And Lt. Aloy is here as my second."
Cecilia and Alexandra move up the hololith, sipping the recaf in appreciation while they nod to the other officers gathered, most of the only here because the actual commander of the battalion or regiment is gone. For the 44th it's Captain Arrius Cromwell, for the 57th it's Captain Estrus Salvus, for the 45th Armour it's Major Julian Marnett, and for the 89th Artillery, it's Colonel Romulus Augustus, the only actual Regiment commander. Brigadier Flavius Victor Fenoff bites back his reply before he turns back to the hololith.
"Anyway, now that we are all here, it is time to get down to business. With the arriving reinforcement, the traitors are being pushed back. However, the reinforcements are focusing on the significant force groups and reinforcing the weakest parts of the line. So that means our job is not done yet, our target is to push north and retake Recogne and Foy around the area called 'The Crows wood'. Any questions?"
Cecilia nods slightly while she studies the hololith before she looks up.
"Yeah I got some Brigadier, in regards to the loses the Brigade has suffered is it really a feasible or possible task for this Brigade to do, in terms of taking the ground and holding it. At best we are down to 1.5 exhausted battalions with the remnants of the Armour and a low on ammo artillery regiment."
Fenoff looks at Cecilia while she speaks, a frown on his face.
"Major, all you questioning the fighting ability of soldiers of Xailiv."
"Brigadier, you fine well know I'm not. I am just concerned for the troops under your command that has seen some of the heaviest fighting during the siege and the losses to go with that."
"Major you should have more faith in the sons of Xailiv..."
Aloy snuck in a side remark sotto voce that only Cecilia heard.
"...their spirit shall not falter and their faith in the Emperor shall make up for any lacking in numbers against the traitors. Now if that is all, you are dismissed go and ready your troops."
With that dismissal the Brigader turns and heads to their office, letting the other officers filter out of the HQ with them already out of his mind. Just once all the officers have stepped outside, Cecilia pulls the group of them just to the side of the door where they are joined by Commissar Rayna Kern.
"Ahh Commissar, have you had your wounds seen to then?"
"I have, thank you for asking Major. Can I take it that briefing did not go well?"
Cecilia, Major Marnett and Colonel Augustus share a brief look that said a thousand words to Kern. While Captain Salvus looking between them, looking slightly confused, and Captain Cromwell seems to be unconcerned with the goings-on, his eyes having a slightly glazed over look. Cecilia glances at the others.
"Right, if we are going to do this, we need an actual plan. Colonel, how is your supply of shells looking?"
"Not great but we are getting more with the corridor being opened, so if we run dry we should have more noon."
Cecilia nods with the start of a plan forming.
"Right if I could ask you to get your batteries to target the Crows' wood area and ready to fire once we have proper targets for them."
"What is your plan, Major?"
Cecilia grins slightly at this while she pulls out her data slate with a map of the crows' wood area on it.
"Still working out all the details, but here is the gist of it. We will fight as a Brigade unit due to our low numbers, and instead of just charging the tree line lets see if we can't be smart about this. The 22nd will take the centre due to having the most combat-capable troopers, with the 44th and 57th, taking a flank each as flanking companies while the Armour will be with the 22nd to draw the main attention of the traitors hopefully."
The officers start to nod slightly with Colonel Augustus chimes in as well.
"While us arty boys bring the fire down on them and break their defences."
"Sounds like a good plan to me Major, just needing a few final touches as I'm sure you know."
"That I do, I will get the finalised plan passed out to all ASAP."
With that, the small huddle of officers breaks up with them all heading back to their commands. Cecilia, Aloy and Kern falling in together while they walk back to the 22nds position, as the snow starts to lightly fall around them. The three of them enter the command tent that had been set up while they were at the Brigade HQ, the couple battalion staffers in the tent snap off salutes as the officers enter before they return to what they were doing. Cecilia moves around to the central planning table while she reaches under it to pull out several maps of the area before she locates the one she wants and rolls it onto the table.
"Right then, time to get down to business planning this...if we are going to do this, I want it to be as bloodless for us as possible."
Aloy has been looking slightly worried since they left the HQ building and speaks up while she is looking at the map.
"Major, are we sure doing this is ok? As are we not subverting the Brigadiers orders?"
Cecilia nods slightly while she motions for the Battalion staff to exit the tent, an order which they all follow quickly, leaving the three of them alone in the tent.
"I understand your concern, but we are acting within mission objectives. Just adjusting the plan slightly due to the situation on the ground...that the Brigader has no idea or even concept off. Plus, this course of action has the full support of the senior representative of the Commissariat attached to units of the Brigade, right?"
Rayna nods at this.
"That it does indeed, and just to confirm your impression of him, I looked up his record. Up until now, it has been purely attending social gatherings and shouting at people while he and most of the nobles play at soldiers."
Aloy looks between the two of them at this.
"Ok, I'm starting to feel better about changing the plan then and is that really our impression of our officers?"
Cecilia shakes her head slightly at this.
"No it's not of your officers specifically, is a view held by the majority of Guard officers about PDF officers, especially the ones with the most decoration. I am happy to say though I have been really surprised by the quality of officers in the 22nd, far beyond that of what I would expect from PDF."
Aloy looks slightly embarrassed at the compliment to her battalion.
"Our previous commander, during the founding, used to say that she had picked the cream of the officer cadets graduating from the first class of female officers after the Governor allowed female units to be raised. That caused quite an uproar I can tell you before the rebellion...but at the same time it was probably a good thing as only a few female units turned traitor, unlike the male units where most of them turned traitor."
Cecilia glances at Rayna at the tidbit of information a look passing between them before Cecilia turns back to Aloy.
"What you just said about the already existing units turning traitor compared to the brand new units staying loyal, can you confirm that?"
Aloy looks at Cecilia slightly surprised by the intensity of her gaze and question.
"Yeah, I can, just any of the female officers. The men won't agree, though, but they are trying to protect them self. Why?"
Cecilia nods to Rayna before she quickly turns to the Vox set and starts tapping away at it while Rayna turns to Aloy.
"If that is the case, we have a bigger problem than just a rebellion on our hands."
Cecilia picks up the vox handset after she had entered her mother's authorisation code to cut straight through to the 51st Division HQ.
"This Major Skye, get me, Major General Ritchie. Reason to believe we have a code Gamma Quintus, I say again, a reason to believe we have a code, Gamma Quintus...Acknowledged General, wilco. I will begin moving right away."
With that, Cecilia puts down the vox handset and turns to the others.
"Change of plan, get the orders passed out that we are being detached from the Brigade for the time being, and we are heading for the current capital. Rayna, the 2nd Company, is going to link up with us en route so can you go on ahead and make sure they are ready to start moving as soon as we both reach the RZ. I'm sure Laski will have it under control but having you around will help if they run into trouble."
Rayna nods before she exits the command at a fast walk while Aloy looks lost before she glances at Cecilia.
"What is going on?"
"Trust me Aloy, you don't want to know...and I hope I am wrong. Our marching orders are for the capital, Port Egrante."
Aloy nods before she ducks out of the tent to ready her Company, leaving Cecilia to stare at the map while the sounds of a battalion quickly mobilising fill the air.