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T42 Pt. 3 | "Bridgehead"

Tales of the 42nd: Bridgehead


+++OPERATION SAPPHIRE 0-HOUR+17H +++


Cecilia is stood leaning against the table with the tactical map of the area, as it gets updated with the new information from the scouts and frontlines as the bridgehead gets established fully. Kiera pushes the door open as she walks in, as she pushes her hair back behind her ear as she wipes the rain off her face as a bolt of lightning silhouette her in the doorway.


"Captain just got a runner with an update from Battalion. Combat Command Minerva failed to take any of their bridges but we have managed to secure all four of ours, and we will be able to repair the fifth once we finish off the traitor forces guarding it."


"Thanks for the update Lt. Come to have a look at the map here, see here Hotel Company has pushed to the west to expand the bridgehead and link up with the 91st while Indigo is pushing east to secure the village in the river bend to dig out the traitors."


"It's looking good then for us at least...I'm still worried to hear the butcher's bill for Minerva...our company has dug in just beyond and around the town. Also, I saw the XO for Gecko company, they have gotten initial figures for the butcher's bill for them, and it is not looking good they reckon they have taken close to 40% losses."


Cecilia stands up straight as she takes her beret off and places it down on the table next to her helmet with her Jaig eyes symbol on them, along with the Skye family Fleur de lis emblem.


"Damn...that is bad. Hopefully, we can limit losses as the operation continues, but we will have to wait and see how the traitors respond and how the other Corps have done with the primary operation objective."


"Aye, that is all we can do in this situation I suppose captain...oh yeah, the rest of the corps should be heading this way to cross the river once we have a big enough bridgehead secured, but until then Battalion says that CCC is going to be on its own mostly."


"To be fair that is about normal for us, isn't it."


"Aye, that it is Captain..."


Cecilia moves over to lean against the window frame while she looks out the window, Kiera walks over to join her on the other side of the window the pair of them looking out into the storm. They watch the Xailiv Regiment of Foot marching through the town, heading off to join the western front of the bridgehead around the town, they take notice of the dense mix of young faces throughout the regiment.


"Kiera, look at them...see how young they look... Were we ever that young, even on enlistment?"


"I know what you mean, and I don't think so, but we knew what it meant to fight to survive before enlistment on Caledonia IX and then on the training grounds. Whereas these guardsmen have been pressed into service or volunteered not knowing what war really means for them."


"Aye for a regiment like that it, it probably means being thrown against a fortified line in their first proper battle. But saying that I am glad that they have managed to raise so many emergency regiments to bolster the Corps numbers."


While the two of them were speaking the sounds of a Valkyries engines draws nearer from friendly lines before it sets down in the courtyard just outside of Cecilia's CP as a Caledonian command squad dismounts and heads for the CP. As the door opens, Cecilia and Kiera turn to look to see who was entering before snapping to attention as the battalion's commander walks in and he removes his cap, closely followed by the commissar.


"At ease Captain, Lieutenant. I just want an update in person of the situation here."


Cecilia and Kiera both move towards the tactical map as she motions for the Colonel and Commissar to move over as well.


"Of course Colonel, Commissar. As you can both see we have secured a bridgehead around the town with companies of the battalion pushing out in both directions while we try to expand the bridgehead to allow for more troops to begin to cross the river. Our forward elements are still engaged with the traitor reserves that they deployed against our crossing. But we are still pushing them back further towards the other bridges."


Cecilia is cut off by the distant sound of artillery guns firing, like heavy thuds as they shake through the earth shortly followed by a shout of incoming as the troops passing through the town dive into what cover is available either in craters or in between buildings. Split seconds later the sound of artillery can be heard from the other side of the river as the allied artillery opens fire with counter-battery before the traitor's shells have even hit the ground. The shells impact in the town with mud and rubble were thrown up into the air along with a red mist when a guardsman cover did not save them from the rounds. After the brief barrage ends, Cecilia stands from leaning against the wall while she dusts her self off from the small bits of debris that were shaken loose from the explosion, just then a guardsman with a Vox Caster bursts in the door.


"Captain! Report just in from Hotel Company, they have been engaged by concentrated traitor reserves who have managed to break through with the artillery support. They are reporting significant losses already, along with hostile vanguard elements in route to our frontline elements and the other hostile force numbers at least a full regiment if not two or more."


Cecilia looks over at the Vox operator as they give their report.


"Ok Corporal, alert the rest of the company to prepare for combat and relay the report to the rest of the battalion. Colonel, Commissar, I recommend that you both fall back to battalion HQ."


Cecilia speaks while both herself and Kiera start gearing up, they both hook their helmets to their chest rig while putting their berets on before they move over to the weapon rack and grab their sidearms and bolt guns. Cecilia and Kiera head for the door with their equipment, they swing their great coats on just as the wind from the storm catches Cecilia's coat causing it to flap behind her while she glances behind her at the Battalion officers.


"Falcon company will hold the line for as long as we can Colonel."


The Colonel watches Cecilia and Kiera run out into the storm as they dash to the command vehicle and rush towards the front lines, once they are out of sight the Colonel and Commissar both head back to their Valkyrie and the Battalion CP.


"Godspeed Captain, Godspeed and give them hell."


+++OPERATION SAPPHIRE 0-HOUR+20H +++


Cecilia slides into the foxhole next to Kiera under a hail of lasguns bolts over the trench, she rolls slightly as she lands in the foxhole before coming up into a crouch while she wipes some of the fresh mud of her already stained armour and great coat.


"Laski, how are we looking? Any update from the battalion?"


"Our front line is holding firm, but we are being pressed on all fronts. Hotel company has managed to pull back behind us now and are digging it, but they took heavy losses in the ambush. Also, we got an update from the rest of the brigade while you were checking on the company, it is a full-scale assault on our bridgehead, they estimate at least three divisions are deployed against us. Reinforcements are on the way."


Those in the foxhole duck suddenly at the sound of a shell passing overhead and exploding behind them. Cecilia looks up after the explosion.


"Well then, things are looking grim. That just means we have to fight harder and make sure we have a bridgehead for those reinforcements to relive."


Cecilia pokes her head up out of the foxhole to survey the battlefield, she takes in the burning and shattered trees along with the burning vehicle wrecks and the broken bodies of guardsmen and traitors alike. She quickly ducks back into the foxhole as a burst of heavy bolter rounds crash into the ground in front of her.


"I hope those reinforcements arrive soon..."


As she speaks a series of shockwaves shake the ground slightly as Leman Russ Eradicators and Demolishers fire their Nova and Demolisher cannons respectively.


+++OPERATION SAPPHIRE 0-HOUR+22H +++


"I want 4th Platoon moving on the left flank to seal that breakthrough! 6th Platoon focus fire into the traitors in sector Bravo 6! Laski, status report!"


Cecilia shouts as she dives into cover behind a wall as she looks at Laski across the track from her also behind a wall. As the two of them duck further into cover as the traitor rounds fly past them and crash into the buildings on the outskirt of the town as they have been pushed back.


"Captain, Hotel company is engaged on the left flank holding that bridge, but they are hard pressed, Indigo has been cut off from us and dug in, Gecko company is holding as our fall back line for now. And we have elements Xalivian regiments spread out through the town with parts of the 22nd reinforcing us."


"Copy that Laski I want..."


Cecilia is suddenly cut off by a shout of alarm.


"Incoming!"


Cecilia dives to the side and covers her head as a high explosive round arc over the wall and crashes into the building behind her sending rubble and shrapnel across the area accompanied by the screams of pain and shouts for the medic. Cecilia coughs as she pushes her self up as she looks over to Laski and the Vox operator.


"Where the hell are those damned reinforcements? Get Freelon on the vox! Laski get those goddamn reserves moving!"


"Yes, Captain! Falcon Romeo calling Sunray, I say again Falcon Romeo calling Sunray! Come in Sunray!"


"Aye Aye Captain! Corporal get on the vox to Gecko and get them moving!"


Cecilia dives again as another high explosive round flies over her position and detonates against another building, as more rubble is sent flying. Cecilia slowly pushes her self back up as she looks over the wall she is behind to see a mass of traitor guardsmen charging the town as they emerge from the smoke and ruined tree line. Cecilia takes a deep breath before she bellows her next order, into an oddly silent battle as she starts, almost as if the entire battle is holding its breath.


"Company! The company will fix bayonets! Prepare to receive charge!"


As Cecilia finishes bellowing her orders the unmistakable rasp of the bayonets being drawn from their sheath followed by hundreds of them being affixed to the lasguns rattles across the battlefield as the approaching traitor forces falter slightly before being spurred onwards by the tanks behind them. Cecilia looks over to Kiera as they draw their power axes.


"Well than Laski, time to show some traitors a Caledonian welcome."


"Aye, it does seem that way, Cecilia, just like that time in training against those orks."


"That was a good battle that day...but now it is time for another battle."


Cecilia turns to look at the approaching forces as the ground starts to rumble with the roar of the engines, Cecilia shuffles her hand down her power axes handle as she draws her bolt pistol with her other hand.


"Falcon Company! For Caledonia! Volley fire!"


As the Caledonian guardsmen pop up from behind the wall, the craters and out the building windows they all open fire as one as lasguns, heavy bolters, autocannons, lascanons and mortar rounds all arc forward into the approaching traitor forces but their combined fire only slows them down slowly due to the sheer number of them. As the traitor guardsmen keep approaching and getting closer the front line of the Caledonians prepare for the CQC fighting with them when suddenly a massive hole is blown into the traitor ranks, and a number of the tanks explode into flame. Cecilia glances back down the road into town where the blast came from as she sees a Caledonian Macharius driving down the road followed by a squadron of Leman Russes and mechanised transports. As the Macharius drives closer and begins to pass through the lines of the Black Watch, the commander's hatch opens as a Commissar emerges as they start to speak using the tanks loudspeaker vox to transmit.


"Soldiers of the Imperium stand firm and do not waiver the Emperor's holy light shall guide and protect us! We shall wage this war undaunted faith and courage. We shall not take one step back! Guardsmen, charge!"


With this shout, the Macarius spearheads the counter-attack with the rest of the armoured vehicles following behind, as Cecilia looks over to Laski with a slight shake of her head.


"Laski, give the order for the company to hold our position for a moment until the tanks have had a breakthrough and then to follow behind."


"Aye Captain, Corporal relay the orders."


Cecilia stands slowly as she watches the tanks rumbling forward as the traitor forces are routed by the strength of the guns and the weight of the tracks, as she wipes the rain out of her face. She turns to look back the at the ruins of the town, most of the buildings still burning from the fire they have been under, as she lets her eyes wander over the ruins as she takes in the broken bodies of Caledonian and Xailivians scattered about like broken toys or slumped over walls, or in windows. She squeezes her eyes shut for a moment before she looks down at her hands as the rain starts to pool in them and then run off them with a red colour to the water. Cecilia then turns back towards the advancing tanks as they reach the tree line as she hefts her power axe as she quickly glances over at Laski.


"Company! The company will move out!"


And with that shout, she drops her arm forward towards the tree line.

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