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Operation Hydra: Day 23by Alex Benson
Force A: The siege of Minrothad City continues. The tedium is broken by the Hardball teams continuing their tournament. Adm. Helena has structured the semi-finals to insure that at least one Thyatian team continues, by pitting two of them against each other. The matches are held and by day's end there are four teams left. One Thyatian team and three Alphatian teams advance. By now the betting has intensified as the dominant Alphatian team of Fregnoss has been recognised.
Adm. Helena retires to dine with her staff. The Hardball matches are a welcome diversion that even the Thadders seem to appreciate. There have been a few taunts and jabs between the turncoat Alphers and the Thyatians but nothing serious. Though all would rather see a Thyatian team win all know that the Alpher teams are too good and too familiar with the game. One of her subordinates jokingly remarks about challenging the Thadders to a bout with the city as the prize. Another quickly interjects that such a match would give the Alphatians credit in the victory. The comments draw laughs from the officers.
Helena then instructs her officers to prepare for an assault. The Thyatians have been too idle and victory is expected shortly. Helena also contacts Nikkos at Open Island. She is updated on the preparations.
Force B: In Harbortown, the Thyatians continue in their occupational duties. Gen. di Cicero rushes to get the forces reorganised and prepared for departure. The 26th Assault Cohort, 9th Cohort, and 17th Cohort. The 20th Cohort will remain in Harbortown as the occupation force. Its numbers are almost half, as its troops have been sent to the deploying cohorts to bring them up to strength. To provide naval support and escort, di Cicero assigns the 13th Fleet to them. As the senior military officer di Cicero will assume command of this force and turn military governorship over to the commander of 20th Cohort, General Valicius. Through utilisation of local labour forces the deployment is scheduled for the following day.
Force C: Gen. Nikkos personally oversees the reorganisation of the forces. His attentions are complicated as he still finds himself performing governor duties while Dergrasus becomes more familiar with them and the Hin. Nikkos knows he has the luxury of time. The forces from Harbortown are to meet them at Open Island. This gives his forces several days to prepare. As planned he will send the 28th Kerendas Cavalry Cohort, and 4th Cohort. 14th Cohort will remain in Malfton as the occupation force. Its ranks are thinned out as its troops have been reassigned to the deploying cohorts to make up for losses.
Force D: Adm. Pentalon's fleet sails a steady course for Harbortown. The supply ships lay low in the water severely slowing the convoy. They pass the ships of Adm. Corso (Group J).
Force E: Capt. Ostenphius and his troops continue their lonely vigil at Bright Cliff. The crews and marines of the three war galleys of 14th Fleet (7th, 8th & 9th Reg) are firmly integrated with the encampment at Bright Cliff. As a diversion Ostenphius begins sending the war galleys out on limited patrols. He sends a small contingent of his troops with each galley. He also begins fortifying the lighthouse area. Defence works and a few ballistae batteries are planned. The artillerymen of the galleys being needed to build the weapons and train gunners.
Group F - Captain Dregarius orders his mini-fleet onward, keeping Serpico's within sight. They move slightly northward to await the approaching supply ships.
Group G - Adm. Serpico orders his ships (and Group F) to begin patrolling the area north of Bright Cliff. He keeps the two Groups within sight of each other. One of the ships, the Sundowner, has an outbreak of plague. Clerics are dispatched from the other vessels to help quell the outbreak.
Group H - Capt. Xappellus and her ships continue their hunt for shipping. Their hunt is interrupted by rough seas and storms. Damage is light but it takes most of the day to pump out the water and repair bad rigging.
Group I - The 14th Fleet arrives at Seahome and drops anchor within sight of the harbour defences. Their arrival is spotted by the elves but no forces come out to meet them.
Group J - Adm. Corso's ships continue on through the northern sealane. They encounter the supply convoy and act as escort for a few miles before breaking off to continue their patrols.
Group K - Horatio's ships sail on through the southern portions of the sealane. Horatio sets a course for Bright Cliff to replenish his freshwater supplies.
Group L - Adm. Perdry's 23rd Fleet rests off the coast of Fortress Island. By midday a lone vessel approaches under a white flag. Perdry receives the dwarven captain and the two converse over a light lunch. Perdry tells the dwarf that the war is going badly for the Thadders. He cites the expectations of the fall of Trader Island and the probability that the elves and dwarves would be next to be attacked. Through conversation the two officers conclude that they are in a standoff. Perdry's forces lack the numbers to assault the dwarven stronghold. The dwarves lack the ships to engage the Thyatian Fleet. Capt. Ironside proposes a truce for the time being. No sense being enemies when there is no battle. Perdry agrees and the two agree to meet regularly. After Ironsides leaves, Perdry reports the meeting to Helena, who approves of the truce. She even cites the opportunity to negotiate a peace with the dwarves.
Group M - Arogast throws caution to the wind and increases his ships' pace. By midafternoon they spot the southern coast of Trader Island and begin following west. Hours later he has to move further out from the coast as fog has blanketed the coast.
In Minrothad City, Oran is updated on the events of the war by Warheart Cleaver. News of the Thyatian ships anchored off both Seahome and Fortress Island are troubling. Likewise the reports of reorganisations in Malfton and Harbortown are received with mixed results. They suspect these troops are to be sent to the islands or to the IoD. But Oran doubts they are going to IoD. He points to a map and shows the distance they would have to travel. More likely reinforcements would come from other Thyatian lands like Hattias and Tel Akbir.
They go over Blue Eel reports from the IoD to try to find weaknesses in the Thyatians that the NACE forces have used in their surprisingly rapid advances. Their findings are disappointing The only revelations they can discover is that the NACE forces have mainly encountered the local militias and home armies. These forces were ill prepared to stand before NACE regulars. Many of these regulars were leftovers from the Great War.
The Thadder and Privateer ships spot the Ierendi vessels of Capt. Delorno. The Ierendi ships transfer excess supplies to the sea weary Thadder vessels before continuing. Delorno surmises the status of his fleet. His available ships have been at sea for too long some for close to a month. Some of the Thadder vessels are missing their marines (MMF on Malfton). The Thadders place themselves under the command of Delorno, the most capable commander. Even the Privateers oblige without protest. Delornao tells them that they are going to Min City. There they will hit the Thyatian ships, doing as much damage to them as possible before heading off to attack Thyatian shipping. With their limited numbers he holds no false pretences of engaging the main Thyatian naval body. He stresses engaging them on Thadder terms where their numbers are advantageous to the Thadders. Such hit and run attacks should draw the Thyatians out to hunt for them. Such a hunt will necessitate splitting up their fleets to cover more area. That is how they will win, by divide and conquer.
By dusk Warheart reports to Oran the progress of the remaining Thadder vessels, the Privateers, and Captain Delorno's ships. The vessels have met and are rounding the western coast of Trader Island. Oran is pleased.
In Thyatis City, the Blue Eels continue laying low and focus on info gathering. They begin contacting their fellows elsewhere to inquire as to any information they may have gathered. They have nothing new to report, at least info that they had not already known.
Eusebius is update on the war effort. Escalation in the Minrothad theatre is going well and should be apparent with a few days. He is told of the truce between Perdry and the dwarves. He sees the opportunity to negotiate a peace with the dwarves instead of engaging in a costly assault against the dwarven defensive measures.
To the contrary things in the IoD theatre are not going well. Westrourke has all but fallen. Newkirk had surrendered during the night and even now NACE troops were dispersing throughout the countryside asserting their presence in the scattered villages of the kingdom. Even with its massive defences, Kendach may hold out for any extended period of time. Reports are stating that NACE patrols are breaking away from the besieging forces to consolidate their hold on the countryside. Dunadale was gone, it had been almost from the start. Redstone was bracing for the expected assault. West Portage forces had met a small NACE force during the night and had fallen back to the city to boost the garrison. West Portage was expected to be under siege by nightfall.
Meeting with his staff Eusebius inquires as to which Cohorts can be moved to support Redstone and possibly West Portage. The report is sobering. At best only three cohorts can be diverted. And doing so may compromise certain territories. Looking them over, Eusebius agrees to send the 24th Cohort in Hinterlands, 5th Cohort in Tel Akbir, and the newly formed 30th Kerendas Cavalry Cohort. They will be covered by the 2nd and 4th Fleets. The 24th and 30th will head for Redstone while the 5th Cohort will head for West Portage. Eusebius also makes contingency plans for mobilisation of the 13th and 17th cohorts. To cover the deployments Eusebius authorises the reactivation of five divisions of Imperial Defenders. Eusebius is told that at the earliest the closer troops will have prepared and arrived in a week. Several request breaking off the war with Minrothad and sending those troops to the IoD. Eusebius ponders that: trading the IoD for Minrothad. It is tempting but such a redeployment may be too late and Thyatis may never get another shot at Minrothad. He tells the officers to begin the deployments as per his instructions.
Eusebius then inquires to the rapid advances that the NACE troops have gained. He is told various probabilities. However, it is the opinion stated by the Imperial Mage that he finds most probable. According to Demetrion, despite the sinking of the Alphatian Mainland, the Alphatians still foot a sizeable army... one that was stranded topside. The troops are seasoned veterans and full of hate for the Thyatians. Since then the armies have been reorganised and placed under the NACE standard. That army had been the one that had defeated Thyatis and was about to assault Glantri. Demetrion then scolds the actions of Eusebius' father. Thincol had broken the treaty he had signed with Eriadna. All of this is in response to that. The Alphatians are just taking back what they lost. He tells that he had tried to talk Thincol out of it but to no avail. Now those actions were coming back to haunt Thyatis far beyond the perceived horrors of the Thothian stand. Demetrion cites that the IoD is lost to Thyatis.
Though his officers scoff at the old mage, Eusebius knows it is the truth. Several offer threats to invade Karameikos if the NACErs do not halt their advances. This is quickly shouted down by the existence of the WDL. To save the IoD Thyatis would have to commit troops on a level unseen since the Great War. Doing so would weaken Thyatian borders elsewhere. He asks Demetrion if there can be anything done. Demetrion responds that negotiation may keep some Thyatian interests alive. Given the general lack of official diplomatic ties with NACE this will be difficult. Demetrion offers to parley with Master Terari of the Karameikan School of MageCraft. Eusebius ponders the relevancy of such discussions. Demetrion tells him that despite his appearance Terari is not who is seems. Though he is vague, Demetrion seems to imply that Terari is actually a prominent Alphatian Noble.
Demetrion contacts the Karameikan School and converses with Terari. By day's end a meeting is agreed upon between Thyatian representatives and NACE representatives. They will meet in Redstone the following day. Given the distance and short time frame, magical means of transportation are needed. Both Demetrion and Terari will attend.
Eusebius contacts Stefania and Anabaxius to tell them of the meeting. He also advises them to prepare to leave the kingdom if negotiations break down. It would break his heart to see his sister or brother in law captured or killed. Aside from that such misfortune would be a blow e to the Empire. They agree to his request.
Eusebius contacts the Darokin ambassador to request the participation of the DDC in the coming negotiations in Redstone. He is surprised as the DDC snubs the request, sarcastically citing that all of the DDCs resources are dedicated to resolving the conflict in the Minrothad Guilds. They hint that if the Minrothad situation is to be included in the negotiations then perhaps they could spare a couple of mediators. Eusebius restates Thyatian demands of Minrothad's surrender before any negotiations for that nation are to begun.