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Operation Hydra: Day 20by Alex Benson
Force A: The siege of Minrothad City continues. The relative boredom is broken by the activities of the would be Hardball players. The playing fields see many of the off duty besiegers coming down to see the spectacle. The fields are not regulation. The players' skills are rough, even comical. Still, by nightfall most everyone in the Thyatian camps have gone down and watched the teams. Even the Thadders have taken an interest in the games. The walls of the city see many heads peering out at the fields.
Force B: In Harbortown, things get a little tense. A small riot erupts and Gen. di Cicero's troops must intervene. Looking into the matter, it is discovered that several merchants have been found to be hoarding food. Some citizens had suspected this and stormed their shops. Investigating the allegations, Gen. di Cicero's troops uncover several caches of hidden stores. He confiscates the foods and commits them to the city's supplies. The hoarders are turned over to the locals, who promptly try, convict, and execute them. The general also grants several local fishermen permission to take their vessels out to ply their nets. Riders from Bright Cliff arrive. They inform Gen. di Cicero of the ease of gaining that objective and Ostenphius' want of new orders and news. They are informed of the conquest and the dispatching of the three war galleys to Bright Cliff to relieve them. The riders rest for the remainder of the day.
Force C: Gen. Nikkos summons Kimber Nimblefingers and informs the Hin leader that the vessels are ready. The Hin choosing to leave are allowed to board the two vessels. Nikkos assigns three small war galleys to escort them up the Quickhand River and out to sea. The ships sail under the flag of the Five Shires. This should do much to keep them from being attacked by either Thadder ships or Thyatian ships.
Force D: Adm. Pentalon's fleet begins refitting for a return to the war. They will escort supply vessels to Minrothad waters.
Force E: Capt. Ostenphius and his troops continue their lonely vigil at Bright Cliff. They have heard no news from Harbortown. Spotters in the lighthouse report seeing Thyatian ships upon the horizon, sailing along the coast. The sight of them bolsters the troops' morale. The three war galleys of 14th Fleet (7th, 8th & 9th Reg) disembark and are underway for Bright Cliff.
Group F - Captain Dregarius and his ships continue along the coastline, passing by Bright Cliff. From there they venture out into the central Minrothad waters waiting for Serpico's Group G.
Group G -Adm. Serpico's ships have made little headway. Poor winds and one ship having rudder problems have them way behind schedule. Serpico informs Dregarius of the delays and has him wait for him. The admiral makes an offering to Protius and prays that the next day proves to be more productive.
Group H - Capt. Xappellus and her ships continue their hunt for shipping.
Group I - The 14th Fleet continues its trek towards Seahome.
Group J - Adm. Corso's ships continue on through the northern sealane. Off the coast of North Island, lookouts spot ships on the horizon, but these vessels evade their pursuit. Corso has his ships sail close to Gapton's harbour to see if any more ships are there. As he had feared, the harbour is empty.
Group K - Horatio's ships sail on through the southern portions of the sealane. The only contacts they have are with a pod of dolphins who play around their bows for a few hours. They also spot the ships of 23rd Fleet.
Group L - Adm. Perdry's 23rd Fleet sails on to Fortress Island. Progress is good and by midday they are well into the sealane. To their surprise, they see the ships of Group K.
Group M - Arogast's rapidly paced trek to Blackrock is hampered as two of his ships collide. Damage is minimal, but it does give them reason to slow their pace.
In Minrothad City, morale is boosted as the populace discovers the Thyatians attempting to play Hardball. Since some of the are of Alphatian heritage, they do have a passing knowledge of the game. From the walls, they watch in amusement at the antics.
Oran and Warheart and their staffs share little of the amusements of the spectators. The games spark a revelation among the officers. Hardball is an Alphatian sport. If it is being played, then chances are good that Alphatian spellcasters are within the ranks of the besiegers. The Thadders had feared that some Alphatian turncoats may be on hand. This verifies it. Oran and Warheart had counted on having a degree of magical superiority for the expected assault upon the walls.
Also, they have been contacted by the Blue Eels in Thyatis City. Though the limited damage from the fire is encouraging, the lack of any new information is discouraging. The Eels promise a turnaround in their next operation. However, they are secretive in its details.
For now, the war will become a waiting game as the Thadder vessels and Captain Delorno's ships assemble. Warheart takes the precaution of readying the two small sailing ships docked in the city's harbour (1st & 2nd Squad/3rd Fleet). If things go good, these ships may be needed. If things go badly, then they will escort Oran out of the city. With this in mind, he begins preparing other vessels for any possible breakout. If things go bad for the capital, the leadership should be able to flee for Alfeisle or Stronghold to continue the war.
In Thyatis City, the Eels strike during the night. Reinforced by adventurers and Thadder sympathisers they make a coordinated series of strikes upon the estates of prominent Thyatian officials. Their intent is to take hostages to use as barter for peace. The strikes are a failure with only two Senators and one of Eusebius' advisers being captured. Only one group manages to make it back to the docks and relative safety of sympathisers. However, they have one of Eusebius' favourite advisers, Dalmark.
A goodly number of the Thadders and their sympathisers are captured. Incorrectly fearing capture, one Eel is slain via his vial of poison. Several "innocent" persons are killed in the operation. Ironically the Eel that committed suicide is mistaken as a victim. In his cover life, he had been with the Imperial Treasury. Unaware of the Eels' existence and his being of Minrothad, it is assumed that he was taken hostage. The rest of the Eels escape.
Eusebius takes advantage of the attack. He pays for those of importance that were slain to be raised. This applies to the Eel, whose revival is complicated by the poison and the spell does not work on. Though he has lost one of his favoured advisers, the attacks are a propaganda coup for Eusebius. His own agents play up the details of the attack. The "barbarity" of the attacks do much to further quell sympathies for the Thadders. Of course critics of the war cite that such attacks will only continue.
With their hostage safely hidden away amid Thadder establishments at the docks, the rest of the attackers wait out the storm of searchers. Even with their resources it will be difficult for the Thadders to get him out. Those captured do not know their involvement and there is little threat of discovery. The remaining Eels return to their Thyatian lives until their next operation.