Tales of the 42nd: Battered Bastards
+++CROSSROAD TOWN OF BASTION, ARDENNES+++
+++028.000.M42 / 0800 HRS 10 JAN 41000+++
+++ARDENNES OFFENSIVE - DAY 6+++
+++SIEGE OF BASTION - DAY 4+++
Following the loyalist attack to retake Foy and Michamps to allow the 506th and CCB to fall back and break out of the encirclement, however, during this attack, the traitor forces launched a full-scale attack all around the perimeter the Loyalists had set up. This counter-attack put heavy pressure on the loyalist line, buckling and piercing it in places though due to the use of mobile reserves the forces that get a break through the line never managed to gain much ground before being destroyed. With the 22nd Battalions exposed position on the ridgeline to the west of Foy, they took a significant portion of the attack meant for the troops in Foy in an attempt to close the corridor again.
The Battalion took heavy losses in the surprise attack, the two companies that had been left to guard it's rear and the front line town of Longchamps, which had been left under the command of Junior Commissar Rayna Kern as the Commissar attached to Cecilia's staff and having more experience than the PDF Officers. Kern rallied her two companies and the battalions recon squadron to defend the town long enough for the Brigades reserve battalion to reach them to take over the defence, while this was going on Cecilia was organising the rest of the Battalion who had been encircled on the hilltop in a desperate mechanised thrust south-west towards friendly lines. During this desperate action, the 1st Company of the Battalion ended up being cut off from the rest of the forces and being overrun by the traitor forces with only a few troops being able to escape.
The following day of the battle shows a continuation of the fierce fighting that marked the end of the second day of the battle with the loyalist defenders fighting tooth and nail to hold onto their positions. With the mobile 'fire' teams of CCB and the 6th moving to and fro throughout the entire day of battle combating breaks in the line and holdouts were traitors troops had dug in after being cut off in a push. By noon on the 9th, the traitor forces had seised all seven of the highways leading into Bastion, and by nightfall, both sides recognised the Airborne and Xailiv division as being encircled. The traitors 47th Armour Corps took over the siege of Bastion while the 58th Armour Corps and 66th Corps both continued onto their objectives despite the delay caused by the fierce resistance offered around Bastion.
Unknown to the forces trapped in Bastion the 22nd Army commanded by General Douglas Haig had reached the front line in preparation for the counter-attack, though it had the more immediate concern of attempting to stabilise the front line as it was still being pushed back some 70km from its initial position, 50km from Bastion.
With the sun rising over the hills, it's rays reflecting off the snow that lies thick across the ground. Cecilia strides along one of the cleared roads through the town that the 85th Brigades HQ is situated in and where the 22nd Battalion is currently holding as a reserve force due to its losses. Cecilia steps into the Battalion HQ building shaking fresh snow off her while she takes her greatcoat off and hangs it up, also removing her snow goggles at the same time. Just as she finishes getting her snow gear off, she is lightly bumped into by Rayna Kern who was shaking the snow off her black CCommissar's great cloak so didn't notice Cecilia while she stepped into the building.
"Oh Major, I'm sorry, didn't see you there."
"It's fine Commissar, don't worry about it."
The two of them fall in together while they make their way through the halls, returning salutes to the PDF troops that they pass before entering the briefing room. Inside the room already would be the commanders of the four remaining infantry companies, the recon squadron and the heavy mortar battery along with the core of her battalion staff. Those inside the room already stand to attention and salute Cecilia and Rayna when they enter, the salutes offered to Rayna are more out of politeness than need due to the CCommissar not officially part of the chain of command. Cecilia and Rayna return the salutes before everyone stands easy again while they make their way over to the centre table, that everyone is gathered around, which has a couple sets of maps covering it, one that shows the area around Bastion with markers where Loyalist brigades are and the extent of their AO. The other map that is the main focus of the officers is of a smaller and more immediate AO for the 85th Brigade and the 22nd. This one would have a mix of marker objects with tags for unit identifiers where known, showing the position of friendly units in the AO and the rough location of the traitor forces facing them. Cecilia looks up from the map and at the faces of the PDF officers and troops that make up the 22nd and sees the look of worry, uncertainty and fear in their faces.
"Right people here is the situation. From the latest casualty reports, we are done to four weakened companies even after merging in the survivors of 1st Company, and that is pretty much the same story across the Brigade and the other Brigades as well. So it is not looking great, but at the same time, scouts report that most of the enemy force is moving away from us, leaving just a few divisions to keep us trapped here, but that means they have to come to us if they want a fight."
A few of the officers nod slightly at this, their eyes still looking down at the map trying to visualise the situation with the information against the troop markers.
"After our offensive the other night, Brigade wants to hold us back with an armoured squadron as a mobile reserve to reinforce or counter-attack any point in our line quickly. So once this briefing is done, I want you preparing your companies and their transport to be ready to move within 5 minutes of receiving the go order...I'm not going to lie to you. Our situation does look grim, and we might not all see the end of this siege but if you hold true to your training and follow my orders then, Emperor willing, most of us will see the end of this siege and send the traitors packing. The Emperor protects!"
"The Emperor protects!"
Cecilia grins slightly as the shout echos around the briefing room before she glances over at Rayna the two of them share a knowing look with both of them knowing their view on that matter lines up. In regards to the Emperor being far too busy to look out for everyone that wants his protection, so they work on their own.
"Everyone dismissed. Get back to your companies."
The officers snap off a set of quick salutes before they start to file out of the door. Cecilia offers a nod to Aloy as she passes, being one of the few officers in the Battalion she had any familiarity with due to most of them being battlefield promotions due to seniority when the previous officer got killed or bumped up. Once the last of the officers had left she motions to Rayna to follow her into the room that she has taken over as her office, the desk already containing a stack of dataslates that she needed to look through. Before she sits down behind her desk, she pours herself and Rayna a mug of Caledonian tea from the stock she brought with her. The two of them sigh in contentment once they take a sip, Rayna especially happy for the warmth seeping back into her fingers through the mug, Cecilia is less affected by the cold due to growing up on Caledonia IX but is not a Vallhalan, so she still appreciates the extra warmth it offers.
"This is nice, thanks, Cecilia."
"Not a problem Rayna, though make sure you savour it as I didn't bring that much with me. Wasn't planning on being besieged out here."
Rayna grins slightly at this, the two of them slipping into the familiarity they share from serving together since not long after Cecilia took command of the Company.
"At least it is only really us that drink the stuff then, the Xailivians don't have a taste for it."
"No, they don't, to be fair though I remember when you didn't either."
"Aye, that is true, though I have served with you for so long now I have developed a taste for it."
The two of them fall into a moment of reflection to even just a few years ago.
"Rayna, be honest, what do you think our chances are?"
"Well...my tutors back at the Schola Progenium would tell me to say that our faith in the Emperor will see us through, but the Emperor is most likely far too busy to lend a hand out here so...honestly, our chances we were facing certain death with the plan the Brigadier wanted. But with the changes to managed to convince him to make, I would say our death is only probable, which is a lot better in my books."
Cecilia nods slightly at this.
"That was my thinking as well...though we can only wait and see..."
+++034.000.M42 / 1500 HRS 12 JAN 41000+++
+++ARDENNES OFFENSIVE - DAY 8+++
+++SIEGE OF BASTION - DAY 6+++
The Loyalist forces had been fighting all across the perimeter since they had been encircled, their saving grace is the fact that the traitor forces seemed to be hesitating in launching a full assault on the town due to the need to try and keep the infrastructure intact. So the traitor attacks had been lots of smaller attacks, never lager than a battalion (5 companies for units that didn't use battalion organisation) plus support units. The loyalist forces were able to defend against these attacks via their defence in depth tactics so that even if the line were broken the traitor advance would just roll right into the next unbroken line of defence and by then one of the mobile 'fire' teams should have reached it with heavy support. Every brigade had a 'fire' team designated along with CCB having two teams able to respond to any point in the line. Despite the best efforts of the defenders, the superior numbers were starting to have a toll with the defenders slowly being pushed back inch by inch.
Cecilia slumps down into her chair, in her office, with Rayna entering a moment later and dropping her cap onto the desk. The two of them had just returned with the 22nd Battalion from their most recent mission to seal a breach in the front line where they managed to cut off and then destroy the traitor armoured unit. Rayna powers them both a cup of tea from Cecilia's rapidly falling stock of Caledonian brew. Cecilia takes a deep sip before she lets out a long sigh of relief.
"Ahh, needed that..."
"Aye, that we did...though we don't have much left now."
"True...going to have to start rationing it..."
Cecilia grimaces slightly at the thought before she suddenly looks up at Rayna.
"Oh yes, I wanted to ask you about that last battle."
"Did you notice anything...odd...about the traitor troops themselves or their fighting style?"
Rayna pauses for a moment before she answers, taking a sip of her tea.
"I thought I did but wasn't sure...but if you think you noticed something as well. They seemed to be attacking with little regard for them self, just charging at us mad with blood lust."
Cecilia nods slightly at this.
"That is what I saw as well...which doesn't make sense from the strategy they are using though...their tactics are those of a bunch of heretics or cultists, but their strategy implies they have a bigger plan."
"That is what my brain came to as well...though saying that, this rebellion did come on very suddenly..."
Whatever Rayna was going to say is cut off by a Vox operator opening the door and leaning in.
"Major! Been monitor those frequencies you told me, I've got something."
"Nice work, patch it through to my terminal."
"Aye, Aye, Major."
With that, Cecilia turns to look at her console, picking up the handset while she does so and listens in to the faint static, though she can hear a few words in between the static.
"Rayna, mind using your commissar override codes to cut us through. Private, see if you boost the signal at all."
"Right away, Major."
The trooper quickly exits the office heading back to their Vox console to try and boost the signal through the static. Cecilia and Rayna move over to the Vox set that Cecilia has set up in her office, while Rayna enters her Commissariat override codes.
"This is Commissar Rayna Kern, currently attached to the 22nd Xailiv. Does anyone copy on this net. Over."
Once Rayna finishes speaking the line goes quiet for a moment before it crackles to life again, still heavy with static but able to be understood, mostly.
"Commissar, this is 53 Caledonian Romeo, we read you. Over."
"Acknowledged, passing you over to Major Skye. Over."
"This is Major Cecilia Skye, commanding officer of 2nd Company, 42nd Black Watch Battalion on assignment to the 22nd Xailiv. We are encircled and under siege, requesting support and status update. Over."
"Confirmed Major, loyalist counter-attack underway, we are in route to Bastion to relive you. We should be a few hours away at the current rate of advance. Over."
"Copy that, I will pass the news out to watch for friendlies in the coming hours. Over."
"Roger that, the Emperor Protects. Out."
Cecilia places the handset back down as she looks over at Rayna who is lowering the second handset as well.
"Well then, it seems like our luck has finally turned. Time to pass the word out then."
With that, the two of them stand and exit Cecilia's office and alert the battalion staff who jump into a flurry of activity while the relay the information up the chain of command.