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Operation Hydra Day 13by Alex Benson
Gen. Xerathas orders his troops to move out. The begin their march onto Minrothad City. They arrive by mid afternoon. Gen. Xerathas has them to take up positions around the capital. He focuses the artillery of 27th Cohort to focus in on one area of the Capital. He knows that the defences are formidable and there is little hope that all artillery positions can be engage. This way, he hopes to focus multiple artillery pieces upon singular Minrothad artillery revetments. Gen. Xerathas does position several ballistae pieces along the Lithwillow River to focus on shipping as well as the Sea Gate. Gen. Xerathas has little hopes of breaching the walls. His hopes are in laying a successful siege. This feeling is shared by most of Xerathas' staff and subordinate officers. Even Adm. Helena voices concern when she is landed and travels to the forward area to view the defences. The naval units attached to cover the troops during the night set sail at dawn to join the other ships.
The Thyatian land forces at Harbortown finish erecting their defence works around the city's perimeter. Artillery pieces of 28th Assault Cohort are placed with range and the barrage is began. Gen. di Cicero conveys his previous days change of plan to Adm. Helena. She is furious at his acting without consent from herself. She does let the order stand. This is due to the validity of the move plus her own witnessing of Minrothad City. Adm. Helena does remind him to put such changes before her in the future.
The troops of 20th Cohort under Gen. Valicius are enroute to Harbortown. They are still a days march away. They proceed at a steady march. They stop at the beachhead camp for the night and use its already prepared defences. The Indigenous Banner under the command of Capt. Ostenphius continues onto Bright Cliff. From this day on, this aspect of Hydra will be referred to as Force E nicknamed Head "Ellana". It is named that by the troops after a popular Thyatian songstress.
After an hour long bombardment, Gen. Nikkos order a renewed assault upon Malfton. This time, the assault force is a sizeable one. Going in are 4th and 3rd Banners of 28th Cohort. Their task is to race toward the walls and establish a foothold inside the Malfton walls. Behind them, are 1st and 4th Banners of 6th Cohort. The foot infantry will rush behind the horse troops, using the dust stirred up dust to mask their numbers. With Gen. Trassis leading, the troops of 28th Cohort ride to the walls as the last volley leave the ballistae. Behind them are the troops of 6th Cohort. The Kerendas troops penetrate the wall and force a sizeable foothold. The troops of 6th Cohort arrive just behind them and work with them to expand this hold. The fighting is harsh but the Hin cannot match the troop quality of the Thyatians. Most fall back or are crushed by the steady press of the Thyatian wall. Despite the mismatch, the Thyatians are held as they must stop and clear each Hin burrow and shop. By nightfall, most of Malfton Proper is under Thyatian control. The exception is a small enclave opposite the Fortress of Prosperity Hill. The Thyatians are content to await till the next day to assault this final obstacle.
Over in the Prosperity Hill Suburb, the marines sweep through the area and have it firmly in control. The only exception being the fort. The marines offload three ballistae from their ships and set them up to fire upon the fort. This takes most of the day and nightfall cuts short any assault upon the fort. Gen. Nikkos is pleased by the advancements but feels some regret to the Hin. He has inspected the held portions of the town and had taken note of the crude weaponry. He orders that the Hin fought bravely and will be given the proper burial rights.
During the night, a Thyatian small war galley observes Hin swimming across the Quickhand. They stem from Malfton and appear to be heading for Prosperity Hill's fort. The war galley gives a cry of alarm and begins firing upon the Hin. It is quickly joined by two other small galleys who focus their attentions upon the fleeing Hin.
This action halts the swimming for the moment. However, several other groups are witnessed crossing the river during the night.
Gen. Nikkos tells the troops of 14th Cohort are told that they are not expected to partake in any fighting to take Malfton. Gen. Nikkos tells Gen. Delagro (CO of 14th Cohort) that his men and women have done their part in regards of Cove Harbour. He applauds their efforts and tells them "Job well done" in erasing the hated Privateers. He goes on to express his hopes that his own troops (6th and 28th Cohorts) can do so well. Then Gen. Nikkos tells Gen. Delagro that Force D is no more. Adm. Helena has ordered Force C and Force D to combine their forces into Force C. Force D will be assigned to the convoy ferrying the spoils of Cove Harbour back to Thyatis City.
Speaking of the Loot Convoy, Adm. Pentalon is given command. The new Force D nicknamed "Denarius" after the Thyatian copper piece. Originally, Force D is composed of just a few ships. Adm. Pentalon objects at this and demands 5th and 23rd Fleet plus a number of unneeded transports. Adm. Corso and Gen. Nikkos confer and agree to allow Pentalon the use of 5th Fleet and several transports. Pentalon is furious but after a stern warning from Adm. Corso, not to mention speaking to Adm. Helena, he accepts the terms. The ships of 5th Fleet are stuffed with loot, prisoners, and wounded capable of the journey. Two transports are added to free up four sailing ships and two small galleys to act as an escort for the convoy. The Force sets sail that day for Thyatis City. It will be escorted out to sea by ships of 23rd Fleet until it reaches open water. The Thyatians are still wary of the Minrothad Naval Forces, not to mention the Privateers. With this in mind, Force D and its escort sail around the eastern side of Open Island in hopes of avoiding any Minrothad ships. By nightfall, the Force is north of Open Island.
In Thyatis City, Emperor Eusebius is updated on Hydra by Adm. Helena. Things are going well. Minrothad City and Harbortown are under siege. Cove Harbour is a memory. Malfton is about to fall. And Pentalon is enroute to Thyatis City with the spoils of the Privateers. Eusebius is advised that a military governor will be need for Open Island once it is completely taken. At first, Eusebius suggests Adm. Pentalon, but Adm. Helena calls him a fool. Instead she suggests Gen. Nikkos. As she says, he is a good soldier as well as a fair man. Eusebius consents and orders it so. He tells Helena Daphotarthius to inform Gen. Nikkos of this after Malfton is completely under Thyatian rule. Emperor Eusebius sends two supply convoys to both Open Island and Trader Island. The Trader Island Convoy is composed of 10 sailing ships. The Open Island is composed of six. Each sailing ship is a converted merchant vessel. Each has had a ballistae mounted onboard. Each is crewed by 25 non-fighting sailors. Defence is supplemented by 20 "green" Marines.
Sailing through the dark, the Minrothad force sent to relieve Malfton begins arriving at it assembling point about 20 miles southwest of Open Island. By nightfall, all of the ships have joined up, the final being the 3rd and 4th Squadrons of 3rd Fleet sailing from Fortress Island. They had been slowed down by the Nithian Reef.
The Strike Force has been codenamed the Malfton Expeditionary Force (MEF) by aspects of the venture. It is commanded by none other than the Master of Marines Matin Dirkson. Matin Dirkson will accompany the troops once they have landed. Control of the naval forces will go to the senior officer of each respective Squadron.
Dirkson begins arranging his forces. The two HG regiments will land as usual. The Naval units will land most of their marines to act as infantry to supplement the HG regiments. Thanks to "reserve" status marines back on Gapton, 5 marines will be left aboard each ship to offer the vessel some protection against boarders.
This will give the land force twenty platoons of 50 marines for a total of 1000 marines. Dirkson hates having to use all of the marines and leave his ships unprotected in the event of being boarded. With 1000 marines and 260 cavalry, 80 of which being rookies of the 3rd HG, he knows that his forces are still dreadfully small, he takes the gamble. The exact number of Thyatians are not known, but from the reports there is at least one regular Cohort and a contingent of cavalry. He estimates at least 3000 Thyatian troops. With the numbers against him, he takes the gamble regarding the ships. The ships will be hard pressed to stave off a concerted boarding attempt. He hopes that the ships' ballistae will suffice for protection. He has the Privateers but doesn't have a high level of confidence for them. Still, he has given orders that they be given self command in attacking the Thyatians. None of his officers will command them anyway and he suspects the pirates will spurn any form of military authority.
The MEF sets a wide course to go around the southern tip of Open Island. They will land at a spot along the eastern coast. They will march onto Malfton. Dirkson doesn't like the thought of breaking through the Thyatian lines to join up with the Halflings. If his forces join the defenders, they will just add a burden to the populace. The rapid deployment limited the amount of food his forces carry. Each man carries but a weeks supply of food. If they are forced into a siege then they are in trouble. Another thing Dirkson dislikes is the term MEF. He berates his troops anytime he hears the slogan. He prefers the more military term of Minrothad Mercenary Force (MMF). The troops, mainly marines, have jumped upon this as well, and coined the initials to stand for "Matin's Misguided Fellows". This new nickname is kept from Dirkson, though he knows of it. In typical marine fashion, he likes it.
Oran Meditor is updated on the MEF/MMF. He is pleased. He hopes for a victory that will break the invader's supply lines and force Thyatis to the peace table. In response to this, he contacts the Darokin Ambassador and asks if the DDC would be interested in negotiating a treaty. The ambassador forwards this message to Darokin City. Ever anxious to stick their noses into other nations business, the response is yes.
The Darokin Ambassador in Thyatis City receives the request and has it passed onto the Emperor. Eusebius states that there is no need for the DDC yet. As he puts it, it is too early for talk of peace. Eusebius does view the matter as a sign of weakness on the part of the Thadders. The Thyatian response is channelled back through Darokin and Minrothad. Chancellor Mauntea is obliged to wait. Oran Meditor is worried. He contemplates summoning the Thyatian Ambassador but opts to await the outcome of the Open Island offensive Dirkson is leading. If Dirkson succeeds, then perhaps the Thyatians will see the invasion as too costly.
As night falls, Dirkson secludes himself in his cabin. He takes quill and ink and paper and begins writing a speech to his troops to be read prior to the landings. He hopes that it will give them a morale boost to help even the odds a bit. As the hours pass, his floor is covered with crumpled pieces of parchment attesting to his dissatisfaction with his work. By midnight, the old marine has finished his speech. He makes several copies and sends one to each ship to be read later on. Dirkson then retires for the night.