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T42 Pt. 12 | "Port Egrante"

Tales of the 42nd: Port Egrante


+++APPROACH TO PORT EGRANTE (LOYALIST CAPTIAL)+++

+++048.000.M42 / 1300 HRS 17 JAN 41000+++


After receiving the urgent communication from Cecilia, Major General Neil Ritchie ordered her to take the remnants of the 22nd Xailiv Defence Battalion and link up with her company to form a Task Force under her command and to make for the Capital at best speed.


Cecilia looks up and down the convoy of her task force, with the vanguard composed of the 2nd Company of the 42nd Black Watch with the 22nd Battalion making up the rest of the convoy. The 22nd was down to 2 full strength companies, 1 half-strength company and the logistics company.

She rubs her hands together slightly due to the chill in the air, despite heading further north and closer to the equator there was still a chill in the air even if they had passed the last of the lying snow yesterday. Ducking back into the interior of the command Chimera, Cecilia looks at the vox op.


"Any further update from Egrante?"


"None Major. The situation remains unchanged."


"Copy that, keep me informed if there is any change."


With that Cecilia pops back out of the commander's hatch, pulling out her amplivisor while she does, looking ahead towards Port Egrante which would dominate the horizon due to the size required for a planetary port city. Cecilia would take note of the pillars of smoke rising from the outskirts of the city, which from the vox reports would be signs of the damage inflicted by rebels rising up recently. Glancing over to her left and the other side of the convoy, she would offer a nod to Commissar Rayna Kern. Who would be riding along the other side of the convoy in the Scout Salamander they requisition as their personal transport, which they started doing after hearing the stories of Commissar Ciaphas Cain. Before she switches her combead onto the task force command net.


"Lt Laski. You Copy?"


"Afirm, Major. What is it?"


"I want you to set a wider advance cordon with the scouts while we approach the city, before pulling it back to the streets running parallel to our main advance."


"Copy, wilco. You expecting trouble?"


While Kiera speaks, Cecilia can see the two Sentinel troops and the Salamander troop moving away from the convoy to cover the flanks and front.


"I've got a bad feeling, and I never liking approaching a port that is already smoking."


"Understood Major, we will keep our eyes peeled."


"Copy that Laski. Aloy, Cleon and Herrera that goes for you as well. Keeps your eyes peeled and heads on a swivel when we enter the port."


Lieutenants Karen Cleon and Vannessa Herrera, the commanders of the 3rd and 9th Companies respectively both give their acknowledgements, followed by Alexandra Aloy and hers, her response sounding more robust and professional than their first meeting at Point Thunder.

The convoy rumbles across the road towards Port Egrante, the scouts of 2nd Company and the 22nd forming a screen to the front and sides along the streets running parallel to the convoy. Once they enter the city, almost like a ripple moving down the convoy, the commanders that had been sitting up in their commander's hatch start turning back into the slightly safer safety of that the armour plating of their vehicle gives them. Looking out from within the commander's cupola, Cecilia notices people watching them drive pass, either from the side streets or from windows above the convoy.


"Major Skye, to all Convoy group commanders. Remember, do not stop for anything if we come under fire. Number one priority is to get to the fortified barracks area, we will regroup there if anything happens."


The convoy commanders acknowledge, a note of worry entering the voices of the younger ones while they keep their eyes peeled. The Chimeras, Salamanders, Hellhounds, Griffons, Leman Russes and sentinels rumble down the street, even before the convoy could be seen a taste of the armoured fist of the Emperor could be felt sending vibrations through the ground. They soon reach the middle city and their barracks area without any trouble despite their worry on entering the city, the moment the Chimeras have come to a stop the Guardsmen are dismounting and moving to secure the barracks area before they can relax. Cecilia has just dismounted from her command Chimera when a staff car, bearing the Xailivian crest rolls into the courtyard and stops close to Cecilia before someone in rather formal dress gets out. He looks at Cecilia for a moment, his face would contort slightly into almost a grimace before he speaks.


"Major Skye, I presume."


Cecilia gives him a once over before she responds.


"You would be correct in that then."


"Good. Major, the Governor, would like to welcome your surprise visit to the city and invite you and your senior officers to a small ball that is being held tonight."


"Hmm...tell the Governor that I accept and will be bringing an escort guard as is my right as an officer of the Guard."


"Of course Major Skye, the Governor looks forward to your attendance."


During the conversation, Aloy had been making her way closer before coming all the way over once he has left.


"You know pretty much every word of that was a lie, aye?"


"Aye I do, I'm not untrained in these arts, and it is clear he holds the same opinion of the female guard troops that a lot of your planet holds."


Aloy nods while she leans against the Chimera next to Cecilia, the two of them watching the task force organising throughout the barracks compound.


"Aye that he does, it is really starting to grow old. Especially after seeing how you and the other guard treat us, even being PDF."


Cecilia laughs softly at this.


"That is saying something, especially with how the PDF is treated. Though saying that, you and the 22nd have earned the respect of the Caledonians, and that is no easy thing to do, you have proven that the soldiers here can make the Guard and the Emperor proud."


Aloy smiles at the praise for her battalion.


"That is what we get for getting dragged into every hellhole you could find since landing, and even when we get away from your battalion, you decide to turn up bring hell with you. So, what's the plan for the reception?"


Cecilia laughs softly at Aloys comments before she turns serious while consulting a data slate.


"Just going to be a few officers, probably just me, you and Kern. Don't want to pull any more away than that and with so few needs to be the most senior bar, Laski. Each of will be able to bring an escort squad due to our posting, once I speak to Kern we will probably coordinate to bring two squads, plus some of my command team to coordinate, plus you can bring a squad of your Xailivians."


"Sounds good, I will make ready for departure then. For transport, Chimeras?"


"For the escort aye but we have a staff car, so make sure you wear a dress uniform. But keep your weapons, even if they dislike us for being female guard, they will lap up the expected role of a soldier."


Aloy nods before she starts to move away from the Chimera.


"Copy that, I will make sure I am and my escort squad are ready."


Cecilia nods before she walks over to where she spots Rayna coming out of one of the officer quarters buildings.


"Kern! Heads up, we've been invited to a small ball that is going on. So your best black trench coat. We are also taking an honour guard escort each, a squad each. So get ready to roll."


"Copy that, Skye. I will be ready."


With that, Cecilia turns towards the quarters put aside for her while she activates her combead on a direct line to Laski.


"Kiera heads up got an invitation from some laky of the Governors, been invited to some ball they are holding. Just going to be me, Aloy and Kern. Need you to make sure the task force gets situated in and here and ready to defend this place no matter what comes. Also, need two squads and my command team readied for an honour guard escort with transport."


"Copy that Cecilia will make the preparations. They will be with you ASAP."


"Good, also get a QRF set up and ready to go. I want us to have QRF ready around the clock while we are here."


"Copy that Major, I will get 3rd Platoon to take the lead on the initial QRF."


"Acknowledged."


Cecilia enters the quarters she has been assigned to with her final message, pulling her dress uniform out of the locker that one of her aides and hung it up in before she gets changed into it. She takes one final look in the mirror that has been set up in quarters, little more than a polished piece of metal, while she doubles her dress uniform of Kilt and black dress jacket with her medals on the left side of her jacket, along with the cuffs and collars having the emblem of a bronze thistle. Nodding slightly at her reflection she grabs her power axe and places it through its belt loop before she lifts her bolt pistol and holsters as she steps outside to be greeted by her honour guard, along with Rayna and Alex moving over to her with their honour guard as well. She offers a nod to her honour guard while she moves to the staff car with one of her aides opening the doors for the officers and commissars. Before the honour guards break off and get into their Chimeras, one in front and two at the rear of the staff car with the convoy setting off on the short drive to the palace. Cecilia remains quiet with the occasional glance at Rayna both of them with their hands resting on their weapons, clearly on edge while Alex looks between them with her hand resting on her weapon as well, more just because both of them are doing it and her instincts are telling her if the Caledonians are on edge, it's not good.

After the short drive in silence, they reach the palace with the Chimera right behind the staff car pulling alongside the exposed side of it while the furthest back one pulls up behind it coming to a stop when they all do. Cecilia's aides jump out the front of the car and quickly open the doors for the Officers and Commissar to exit, while their honour guards form up around the Chimeras and the NCOs move over to them snapping a full parade salute for the benefit of the civilians standing at the top of the stairs and watching. The three of them return the full parade salute before Cecilia addresses the Company Sergeant Major.


"Sergeant Major, get our people situated in the vehicle park and see about getting some food for them."


With a quieter voice so the civilians can't hear them.


"But make you stay ready, don't know what is going to happen."


The Sergeant Major nods while they offer a parade salute and do a full about turn with their heels clicking together before she turns and marches back to the other troops. Cecilia then turns while she puts her tam o' shanter on her head while they walk up the stairs with the civilians, nobles or rich families mainly, take in their dress uniforms. Despite being their dress uniforms, they still stick out like a shore thumb with the air in which they carry themselves, and the worn look on their faces from constant fighting amongst the nobles and wealthy with their air of poshness and being better than the soldiers. Most of those present would be male with the only females clearly the wives of the nobles, most of them looking a good few decades younger than most of their husbands or they are servants. Just as they reach the large doors, the seneschal coughs before announcing them.


"Major Cecilia Skye, 42nd Caledonian Black Watch, 2nd Company, the commanding officer of Task Force Echo. Junior Commissar Rayna Kern, attached to 42nd Black Watch, 2nd Company. Lieutenant Alexandra Aloy, 22nd Xailiv Defence Battalion, 6th Company."


The nobles turn to look at the three of them enter, the group of them with their hands resting lightly on their weapons, not in a threatening about to draw them but in a comfortable from experience sort of way. A lot of the nobles, especially the older ones, turn away with a dismissive look upon realising the soldiers they were told would be joining them were female. After having their own quick look around the room themselves, they proceed to walk down the centre of the great hall towards the governor in his ornate seat on the elevated bit of the hall. The three of them don't spare a look at the nobles, sticking to the look of just being simple soldiers. They stand at the bottom of the steps up to the governors' seat while the nobles in front of them bow deeply to him before they move off and they make their way up. Once at the level the nobles were at before the all snap off a parade ground salute, which is followed by silence from those standing nearby while the governor just frowns. The one wearing the mark of the governors' stewards steps towards them before he speaks.


"You are supposed to bow to the governor."


"With respect steward, we are Caledonian soldiers of the Imperial Guard we salute, we only bow to the Emperor and his chosen."


The steward stares in shock before he turns to Aloy.


"What about you, a female of the PDF must bow!"


"Sorry steward, I serve under a Caledonian force so must follow their regulations as per Standard Order 492, Passage 5, Subsection B-24. 'While under service with a Regiment of the Imperial Guard, their orders and regulations must be followed.' "


The steward looks at the governor who still looks suprised before the steward looks back at them and starts to rattle off his speech.


"Governor Green welcomes you to this reception and hopes you enjoy your time here."


Cecilia nods slightly as she looks between the governor and the steward.


"We thank the governor for his welcome, we have important matters to discuss with the governor and his senior staff regarding a possible threat."


The stewards' eyes go wide with panic while he looks to the governor before the governor speaks.


"We will meet once I have completed my reception anything else can wait till then, we are perfectly safe in here."


"As you wish governor."


With that, Cecilia turns and leads the other two of the steps and towards the buffet table. Once they are at the table and alone as the nobles seem to be avoiding them.


"Right keep your eyes peeled and stay alert, I have a feeling what we are looking for is about to happen."


As she finishes speaking, she turns around to move down the table when suddenly a figure steps out from behind the pillar with a laspistol at head height with Cecilia, in the moment of recognising what it is a bright flash comes from the barrel towards her.

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