Part 1 of this update! I can't seem to post the entire update due to both character limits and this forum's seemingly absolute prohibition on posting more than once on the same thread without a reply in between. So, if someone would kindly reply quickly so I can post the rest, it would be appreciated
The Emperor points, and we obey,
Through the warp and far away!
- Chorus, Traditional Imperial Guard warrior song
Mieza sat atop her tank, legs crossed with a cup of recaff, watching the scene before her with grim satisfaction. Columns of Leman Russ battle tanks and Chimeras were warming up their engines. Whines and shouting erupted together across the farmland behind the colonial buffer wall, as the last checks were made. The Colonel breathed in the smell of promethium, which mixed with the smell of her beverage, as she reflected on the battle to come. Once upon a time, her guts would have been tied with apprehension, but she had served on enough campaigns by now. The madness of the Orks, the corruptions of the Ruinous Powers, the sadism of the piratical Eldar, the technosorcery of the Tau, she had faced all of these and won. She commanded one of the Emperor's own mailed fists, and was satisfied to unleash yet another vicious punch upon the enemies of Humanity.
Such reflections always allowed her to put aside her fear with ease, along with a quiet prayer to the Emperor. Such is how a humble Berdamian prepared for battle.
The grey and green mountains of metal were almost ready, as the support company's guardsmen began to give their superiors thumbs up along the column. A night's advance across the continent had sapped the troops as well as the vehicles, and so Mieza had ordered a four hour halt for rest at the colonial barrier wall, that also gave the opportunity for reconaissance. The Tau fought far more effectively at night, due to their technosorcerous optics, and the colonel had no intention of finding out about it personally. Those who had slept were only now waking, as the machine spirits of the tanks and troop carriers were placated for the coming battle.
A knocking came from the armour below her, and the colonel looked to find her support company commander, Captain Sinon Girad, standing with his aide, Lieutenant McCuan. The former's uniform was disordered, as more so than usual, while his subordinate's was less prim and proper than her ordinary attention to detail should have allowed. Clearly, they had been hard at work for hours.
"Sinon," she yawned, unable to suppress the urge, "I presume we're ready to go?"
"All 129 Leman Russes and 20 Demolishers prepped for combat, all 50 Hydras including PDF compliment ready, all 40 Chimeras with weapons teams ready," stated the lieutenant before her captain could answer, "The entire ground force capability is ready for combat deployment."
"What she said," added Sinon, poaching his amasec flash out of his pocket, "Never let it be said that I was poor at my job."
Mieza nodded, satisfied with the efficiency of her quartermaster as the man in question took a quick sip.
"What about the Air Assault Company?" she asked.
"Major Kasky voxed that he would be ready when we were, and asked would we please drive faster," Sinon said, rolling his eyes, "You know how he is, always eager to die in a new and interesting manner." Mieza grinned back, her second in command's thrillseeking was legendary in the regiment to the point where betting on his actions was commonplace. Attempts by the commissars to suppress such activity were unsuccessful, and thankfully none of the attached political officers were zealous enough to execute people for such behaviour.
"Any word from the Inquisitor?" Mieza asked.
"None," replied Sinon after a glance to his lieutenant. The Colonel frowned at the glance. She was fast becoming legendary in the regiment for an entirely different reason to the Major. There seemed to be both an increase in admiration and something akin to fear once word had spread about her liasons with Talan. Sinon's assumption that the question was of a personal nature was another symptom of an annoying trend. Finally, she took a deep gulp of recaff to rid herself of the annoyance, and then dumped the rest over the side of her tank onto the ground, perilously close to Sinon's feet.
"We're ready, let's go kill the Emperor's enemies," Mieza commanded, putting on her tank helmet emblazoned with the Imperial Aquila, "All columns advance, inform the Major to begin combat operations and the SDF to put all their fighters in the air as agreed."
"Yes, Colonel!" the support commanders replied, standing to attention and saluting as they did so, before running off.
"Alright Alica, start it up," Mieza said with enthusiasm into the vox attached to her helmet, and was obeyed immediately. The tank thundered to life, shuddering with the first exertion of the engine. The colonel patted the side of the turret, fond of her personal machine. She looked out at her regiment. The roar from her tank was joined by more than three hundred more. She switched her vox to the regiment-wide channel.
"Scythes of Berdam, FORWARD!" she shouted. The colonial barrier wall, which had stood for a century, detonated along a mile wide section. The concrete slabs oliberated, the path to Ramlas lay open.
The loudspeakers on each tank then joined the din of tracks and roar of engines, and the march song of the 16th Berdam Armoured cried out into the damp air of Falasten. Mieza's tank lurched forward, joining her column as the air assault company finally appeared overhead.
And so, Colonel Artemis Mieza set out on her mission, having every reason to believe that Death herself was coming for the heretic and alien alike.
Even when broken, a sword may still cut. - Aun'ko'vash to La'Kais on Dolumar IV
Mesme woke up in the medical bay of the Serra, aches all over her body causing her to wince immediately upon regaining consciousness. She sat up to look at her surroundings. Her bed was walled off with floating dividers of clouded glass, the monitoring equipment was flashing, and the sanitised smell was overwhelming.
Karra crunched into her purple apple, watching her commander intently and putting down the data-tablet she had with her.
"Welcome back," she said.
"How long was I out?" Mesme asked, putting her hand on her head as she tried to provoke her headache into leaving.
"You almost didn't make it," Karra replied, "The nanites are working well though."
"Nanites?" Mesme inquired, "What do you mean?"
"Your injuries were extremely severe," Karra stated, taking another bite of her apple, "Without my nanites, you would have taken months to recover. I had to reprogramme them from ones I designed to repair microfractures in battlesuit armour, but luckily for you, I was bored during our transit here and so was the head surgeon. Biology isn't really my..."
"Answer the question," Mesme commanded, interrupting the explanation, not particularly caring about the exact process of her recovery.
"Perhaps a day," Karra said, beginning to sulk, "Which is work bordering on miraculous if I do say so myself."
Mesme's eyes opened wide in surprise. She had thought she was dying back in the city, but she seemed very much intact now, barring the throbbing pains throughout her side. The entirety of the left side of her body looked like it had been sliced in a thousand places by a shallow knife, but there appeared to be no lasting damage.
At that point, Kaishi burst into the room. He looked positively joyous, deciding to run across the room as fast as he could and immediately embraced his bondmate.
"I thought you were dead," he said, regaining his composure and standing up from the bed quickly.
"Not yet, apparently," Mesme replied, very happy to see him.
The bodyguard turned to Karra. "Thank you," he said warmly.
"You're welcome," Karra grinned back, "See, he knows who to give credit to."
"What are things like down there," Mesme asked, wanting to get back to the business of winning the system for the Tau'va as soon as possible.
"Under control," Kaishi replied, "The gue'la are moving on Ral'a again in force, this time with tanks."
He continued more forcefully; "El'Ka has deployed all of our own tanks and the pathfinders, the aliens will die in droves." The last sentence was said with particular emphasis. "They may die," Mesme said carefully, "But they shouldn't die simply because they tried to kill me, they should die because they oppose the Greater Good." Mesme took his hand, and he calmed down. "Apologies," he said finally, "Revenge isn't a good motive."
"No apology necessary," she said, "You understand."
Karra crunched into her apple for the third time, causing both of them to look her way in bemusement.
"You'll be combat capable in about two days," Karra said to divert the looks, "By then you'll be able to do plenty of smiting yourself." The Earth Caste scientist stood up, throwing her apple in the air and catching it as she did so. "In the mean time, let that old tau El'ka do the fighting while you rest."
"Agreed," Mesme said with some reluctance, "But can you fetch a data-tab, I'd like to follow the progress of the campaign myself." Karra smiled and handed her the slate from her chair, as a holo-drone glided quietly into the room.
"I knew you would ask."