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Operation Hydra: Day 14

by Alex Benson

Force A-

Adm. Helena watches impatiently as her Force maintains it siege. She goes over the city's layout several times and neither her nor her subordinates can see a way to assault the citadel without excessive losses. Though none want to, they decide upon a siege.

To keep the troops busy, Adm. Helena has some of her troops go into the surrounding woods and chop down trees to construct bridges and other siege structures.

Adm. Helena also rotates troops away from Minrothad City but still within sight of the defenders. She tells them to loosen up and relax. She hopes that this will not only help morale, but it will also lower the morale of the defenders.

Force B-

Gen. di Cicero starts a concerted bombardment of Harbortown. He wishes to await the arrival of the bulk of 20th Cohort's troops before staging any serious assault. Progress against the walls is slow. The stone walls are thick and garrison counterfire heavy. The counterfire is so intense that the 26th Assault Cohort is hard pressed to keep its artillery pieces operational. By nightfall, a quarter of the arty pieces are at the rear being repaired. The walls are damaged but little more than pockmarked. The good news is that one garrison arty position is destroyed.

This bombardment is mirrored by the naval aspect of the Force. The Fleet galleys and sailing ships rotate in waves to engage targets along the harbour facilities. In this regard, progress is good. The wooden structures cannot stand up to the bombardment.

The downside is that two piers are damaged badly. One by Harbortown defenders. The other by a misplaced volley from a wave of galleys. Adm. Serpico is furious at this as he wants the piers intact to enable easier unloading of the Marines. To keep the defenders from further damaging the piers, Adm. Serpico has the galley crews focus on suppressing the areas around the piers. By nightfall, troops of 20th Cohort under Gen. Valicius are close to Harbortown. Gen. Valicius sends messengers to inform Gen. di Cicero that his forces would arrive early the following day.

Force C-

Gen Nikkos orders his resting troops back into action. Joining their fellows maintaining the perimeter, they take up positions around the Hin line. Despite the picket and perimeter troops being small in number, the Hin have not had the strength of arms to move back into these areas during the night. Feeling the Hin are beaten, Nikkos enters the town himself and travels to the front. He waves a white flag and walks forward to parley with the Hin commander. Nikkos and Nimblefingers talk for several minutes. Nikkos urges the Hin to surrender to save lives. He stresses that the Hin have resisted far beyond the what any nation asks. Nimblefingers thinks about it but has to decline. Nikkos and Nimblefingers part and as soon as they are clear the volleys continue. The Hin GM tells his people of the Thyatian offer. Most want to surrender but vow to hold out since help is so close at hand.

Nikkos orders his men to assault the Hin redoubt. The Hin resistance is stiff, but not invincible. The perimeter is steadily compacted. During the final thrust into the last Hin held sector, Kimber Nimblefingers is injured to a state of unconsciousness. With Thyatian warriors bearing down, the Hin surrender. A few diehards still resist and need mopping up. However, their efforts are in vain. By midafternoon, Malfton Proper is under Thyatian control.

The Marines in the Prosperity Hill suburb make quick progress in battering down the doors of the fortress. Wave after wave of Marines enter the portal and spread out through the corridors. The initial defence is quickly crushed. However, some of the Hin do barricade themselves in rooms. Doors have to be smashed down and the occupants engaged. Like Malfton Proper, Prosperity Hill suburb is completely occupied by midafternoon.

There is some controversy over which service achieved their objective first. The Thyatian Marines claim the honour because they hoisted the Thyatian standard above the fortress's battlements upon entering the fort. The Army awaited in raising their standard as no flag pole is readily at hand. The Army standard was raised just before dusk. In truth, both sides finished mopping up within a half hour of the other. The Marines accomplishing the task first. As night falls, Gen. Nikkos orders his men to stand down and rest. Sentries are posted and guards assigned to watch the captives. He orders his clerics as well as medics to treat both Thyatian and Hin. He orders the Thyatian troops to treat the Hin well as they fought well. Food and water is also dispersed.

Nikkos hears that Kimber Nimblefingers is not only a prisoner but is wounded. He goes to the Hin Guild Master and sees to well being of his former adversary.

Nikkos spends the night calculating casualties for both sides. He also prepares his report for Adm. Helena.

Having spent the day observing the battle from their ships, the crews of the ships cry out in joy as the standards fly over the Hin settlements. This attitude falters slightly as the commander receives word of the sighting of ships north of Open Island (from Force D). To be careful, Adm. Corso places his fleets on alert. He sends patrols out to seek these ships.

Force D-

Several lookouts spot ships on the far horizon near the northern tip of Open Island. Pentalon orders them to proceed. He tells his captains that the ships are probably straggling Thadder vessels, despite the reported large numbers. Pentalon tells them to proceed. He says that his force's priority is getting the captured goods back to Thyatis not to mix it up with the enemy. He does forward the sighting to Force C to Adm. Helena as well as Adm. Corso.

Force E- Capt. Ostenphius continues onto Bright Cliff. His small contingent of troops make good headway. On this day, they pass through two fishing villages. Both are almost deserted, with just a handful of inhabitants left. The captain questions these inhabitants and discovers that the missing villagers have fled into the surrounding countryside. Ostenphius assures them that his forces will only engage those that engage them. They are soldiers and will make war only upon those that resist them. By nightfall, the small unit beds down for the night. Progress has been good and they should reach Bright cliff within a day or so.

With Open Island in sight, Master of Marines Matin Dirkson orders his speech to be read to the troops.

"Troops of the MMF, you are about to embark upon a great crusade. A crusade which will decide the fate of the Minrothad Guilds. It is here on Open Island that our forces can deal the Thyatians a defeat. For a defeat here will break the Thyatian assault as their sealane is cut.

This vital task lies in your hands. You, "my misguided fellows" as you have aptly named yourselves, will be assigning your names to the annals of history. Never have so few been called upon to assault so many. We are outnumbered in manpower but we are Marines. What we lack in numbers, we make up in skill, honour, and the heart to fight.

I know many of you have never cut your teeth in actual combat. As such, you may have some doubts as to your combat worth. This is where the endless training that caused so much grumbling comes into play. Trust the lessons learned in training. If doubt does enter your mind, think of friends and loved ones for that is who you are fighting for.

Now, I tell you men and women of the Mercenary Guild to get your things ready and let us drive these Thyatian sons of a bitches off the Hin Island and into the sea. I want you all ready for a fight the second you wade onto the beaches. So lock and load your crossbows. Loosen your blades in their scabbards. Let us show these vermin that the Guildsmen are not ones to mess with."

The response of the troops is good. Shouts are heard coming from each of the sailing ships. Even the Privateers and Home Guard units get into the frenzy despite the omissions of themselves in the speech. By the time of the landing, the troops of Matin's Misguided Fellows (MMF) are ready and willing to fight Thanatos himself.

The MMF arrives off the northern tip of Open Island just before dusk. They begin offloading their troops. Ironically, the landing beach is very close to the one used by the Thyatians a few days earlier. So close, that scouts report the days old tracks the Thyatians left in their wake. It is decided that the MMF will follow these tracks . The MMF marches inland well after nightfall. Dirkson hopes that they will come across straggling Thyatians. Finally, they halt to rest for several hours. Minton and his officers know that time is a priority. However, they also know that they cannot press the troops too hard. They will require all of their strength against the Thyatian wall. Minton has to wonder about the status of the Hin in Malfton. His forces have no means to communicate with the defenders. They have no access to such devices as they are fixed in position onboard the ships.

The Minrothad ships sail on from the landing beach and set a course for the mouth of the Quickhand River. They sail around the western coast of Open Island and keep watch for Thyatian ships. The Privateers want to make an immediate strike against the Thyatians. They also voice the want of sending a force to Fire Island to investigate the damage. The Minrothad officers deny them both requests. The Thadder officers are split on the exact manner of attack. None want to take the initiative and suffer any adverse consequences.

Finally one officer steps forward and asserts command. Captain Marco Tinson assumes command. He is experienced and is one of the senior commanders. Warheart Cleaver promotes him to Admiral. With this clear authority, Tinson executes his own orders. He tells the Privateers that they are needed here and now. Unabated, they continue to protest, even going as far to threaten to mutiny. Tinson is sympathetic to them but is realistic. He allows a small number of Privateers to disembark and sail to Fire Island. The Privateers convene and send a force of one Privateer Fleet to Fire Island. Adm. Tinson was thinking of a force of one or two ships. Still, he allows the force to sail off to prevent a split within his forces.

Minrothad City the defenders on the walls sporadically fire missile weapons on the Thyatians. The range favours the Thyatians in this but also keeps them from returning fire. The arrows are wasted, but do manage to offer a means for the besieged to vent some of their anger and tension.