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T42 Pt. 14 | "Defence of Port Egrante"

Tales of the 42nd: Defence of Port Egrante


+++TASK FORCE ECHO BARRACKS, PORT EGRANTE+++

+++053.000.M42 / 1000 HRS 19 JAN 41000+++


The Port city had been torn apart by the fighting that had engulfed its streets with a three-way war taking place building to building, between the Loyalists, the Traitors and the Genestealer Cult. For the almost two days that the Genestealers had revealed themselves, the sounds of fighting never stopped, with small hold outs of humans trying to hold off the cult before eventually, their numbers cause the holdout to fall. Task Force Skye was able to establish contact with other Loyalist units over the first day. An Annwyn Artillery Battalion and Infantry Regiment detachment, a Landrian Tank battalion, two Xailiv PDF battalions and two Xailiv Infantry battalions, none of the Loyalist forces were at full strength. In the TF Echo compound, the Xailivian 22nd and 2nd Company of the 42nd Black Watch have rotating shifts of on watch, quick reaction force and resting.


Cecilia is stood around the command table with all the company commanders of TF Echo present, looking over a holo map of their location and situation. After the initial signal being sent, they have lost contact with loyalist forces outside of the Port, so despite there being air support overhead, they have been unable to call any in for support. They have just finished the morning status update when suddenly their combeads spark to life with a report from the main gate.


"Need support at the main gate, ASAP! Can not hold!"


Cecilia is already springing into action and sprinting to the main gate while the others are just moments behind. Cecilia activates her combead while she runs.


"First Sergeant Halwood, get the reserve set up at the fallback position. Front gate hold, for as long as possible or until the reserve are ready!"


"Aye, Aye Major."


"Wilco, Major. Getting the reserves moving."


Cecilia nods to herself while her command squad catches up to her on the approach to the gate. With the reserves starting to move into position. Suddenly the gate is ripped open with the sound of tearing metal filling the base. At the same time, Cecilia slides to a halt before the fallback line with the reserves diving for cover or beginning to open fire on the swarm of Gaunts, Tyranid Warriors and the Broodlord leading them. Cecilia starts running to the reserves while they tried to get organised, at the same that the troops on the gate are trying to get to safety.


"Target the Broodlord! Takedown the bigger creatures first and we have a chance!"


The shouts from 1SG Halwood ripple across the line with the orders being passed onto the others, soon the Chimeras have opened fire as well with their autocannons and pintle guns pouring heavy fire into the 'nids. The Broodlord tears its way through the line, followed by a couple pure strain Genestealers, their talons and claws ripping through the troopers trying to hold the line. Cecilia hefts her power axe facing down the Broodlord while the line reforms around the breach caused by the Genestealers. The Broodlord charges at her, its talons narrowly missing her while she dodges, the rest of her command squad too busy fighting the other Genestealers to be able to help in Cecilia's duel. Having a feel for its speed now, when it charges again and Cecilia dodges she also brings her axe against its arm cutting off one of its four hands, one of the two with the large talons. As it lets out a roar of pain and backhands Cecilia, sending her flying across the courtyard before it charges after her. Its other hand full of talons swings down at Cecilia, she just manages to get her power axe up in time to stop it eviscerating her while she tries to reach her bolt pistol on the ground next to her. Cecilia screams out in pain when the weight of the Broodlord forces the tips of its talons into her, their strength slowly pushing through her Carapace armour into her chest. With a roar of anger and pain, Cecilia's hand closes around the handle of her boltpistol before she brings it up and fires multiple rounds point-blank into the Broodlords skull. The Broodlord roars for a moment before it falls silent, the other Tyranids start milling about with the loss of their synapse, quickly taking advantage of this the task force fire everything they have killing swaths of the 'nids before they reform the synapse.

Cecilia slowly stands, blood soaking her tunic and seeping out of the large gashes in her armour, her shaky hand brushing her bloodstained hair out of her face and away from a cut she must have got when she lost her helmet at some point during the fight. Despite the shortness of the battle, it has taken a heavy toll on the task force, and they still need to seal the breach. Moments before Cecilia is about to start barking orders, the sound of a drumbeat could be heard along with shouted orders and a song. The orders become audible before the song does.


"Second Rank! Fire! Advance! Second Rank! Fire! Advance!"


This repeats until the sound of the song, and the drums can be heard over the sounds of the fighting.


"Some talk of Ollanius Pius

And some of Ciaphas Cain.

Of Yarrick and Sly Marbo

And other greats the same.

But of all the greatest heroes

There's none more glorious

With a tow, row, row, row, row, row,

Than the Guard Praetoria!

Whene’er we are commanded to form our firing lines

Our leaders stand before us, fearless of Xenos swine.

To them and their commanders, they crumble into dust

When they march into the firing line of the Guard Praetoria!

Then let us fill a bumper, and drink a health of those

Who tote lasguns and armour, and wear the loupèd clothes.

May they and their commanders die for the Emperor.

With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, for the Guard Praetoria!"


With the loss of the synapse creatures leading the attack, and the combined fire of Task Force Echo and the heavy flamers on the Chimeras, and the attack of the Praetorians soon a corridor has been opened, and the vanguard of the Praetorians take up defensive positions around the entrance while their officers slowly enter with their bright red uniforms and white pith helmets takin a moment before they move over to the command staff. With the immediate fighting over, Cecilia slowly sinks down onto a crate while a medic looks at her injuries. The officers stop in front of the command squad while Kiera and Alex give orders to reorganise the defence.


"Major Skye, I presume."


"You would be correct, sorry I can't stand to great you a Broodlord took a distaste to me, Colonel...?"


"Colonel Harrye Kemp, 29th Praetorian. We weren't sure if you would still be here by the time we got here. But since you are, it is time for us to evacuate the city."


Cecilia coughs, blood splattering her hand and dribbling out the sides of her mouth.


"Seems it did quite a bit of damage after all...and what do you mean evacuate?"


"I am sorry, Major, but the system has been declared lost, and orders are to pursue asset denial."


At the moment Alex steps back over, looking between the Praetorian and Cecilia.


"I am sorry, Colonel, did you just say that the system has been declared lost?"


"I did, Lieutenant...?"


"Lieutenant Alexandra Aloy, Commanding officer of 6th Company of the 22nd Xailiv."


Colonel Kemp nods slightly before he turns back to Cecilia.


"Major, the Exterminatus order has been given, and the planetwide evacuation is in progress, there is an emergency LZ just outside the city where transports are waiting."


Cecilia looks in shock for a moment before she sighs and stands, activating her combead.


"Attention, this is Major Skye, all personnel fallback to the transports we are evacuating the city."


Colonel Kemp nods before he moves back over to the other Praetorians outside to buy the TF time to start the evacuation. After a moment of shock at the order, all the troops jump to the order, leaving any heavy equipment behind that they cant load into one of the transports.

The preparations for the evacuation do not take long and soon the convoy that only a few days ago entered a smouldering port leaves a burning and ruined port with a line of red around its rear for a rearguard. Once out of the city, the Praetorians mount up in the unarmoured truck-like transports for the rest of the retreat towards LZ that was reporting it was under heavy pressure from vanguard elements of Tyranid swarm.


As the convoy reaches the LZ, a number of Angantyr and Devourer class dropships and Valkyries are embarking troops as quickly as they can, and they take off the moment they are full, with the Tyranid swarm almost on top of them. Cecilia gives the order, and the convoy splits into its company components and rushes onto the dropships as they are designed to transport a full company and all their equipment. Once they are on and secure, the ramp slowly closes encasing them in darkness with the only light from the console screens and the strip lighting along the roof and floors.

The dropships carrying Task Force Echo are some of the last ships to clear the atmosphere, leaving countless civilian and guard forces behind to be overrun by the Tyranids. The moment the last ship is clear of the planet, the Imperial Navy Battlegroup in orbit open fire with Atmospheric incinerator torpedos. Cecilia watches from the console in front of her as it tracks the salvo from the battlegroup flies towards the planet. The tracker registers the detonation of the torpedoes in low planetary orbit, before their detonation ignites the oxygen of the planet, the flames engulf the planet seconds after detonation. The planet, and the entire system, will continue to burn like a piece of amber in space for months after this final act of the Imperial Navy before they make they enter the warp. Once the system had stopped burning all that would be left of the planets would be a melted glass surface.

Cecilia turns away from the console to look at Kiera, letting out a small sigh when she feels the dropship landing inside their troop transport with the rest of the 42nd and at least two other regiments, or whatever transports were routed to it during the evacuation. The ramp slowly descends, letting in more light and allowing the troops to finally breathe a sigh of relief for being off-world. Their descent down the ramp is a slow one with many if not all the troops are injured in one way or another after months of fighting on the planet and then days against the Tyranids. Cecilia steps off the ramp, being careful with her movements with the adrenaline and morphine wearing off and her wounds sending searing flashes of pain with every step, she waves a medic away from her and towards the more injured members of her company while she sits down on an ammo crate and watches the remnants of her company trickle past. With a familiar shake through the ship, the transport and the rest of the fleet enters the warp and heads for the Imperial staging system to rearm and heal before being deployed to the next battleground.

After 60 days of fighting to try and save the system from Traitors and the civil war that had gripped the system, the Imperial Guard and Navy leaving a burning system behind them and another splinter fleet of Levithan hungering for food after being denied.

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