Raiders From The Sea, Chapter 37.

Admiral Harper deploys the fleet.

Chapter 37.

SS- 23(Mako)

Commander Martin Steelriver was looking over reports when the door on his cubby knocked. “Captain, Lieutentant Nofhug says that sails are leaving Eryding.”

“I will be right there.”

The commander left his cubby and walked down the crowded corridor to the contol room and called up through the conning tower. “What have you got lieutenant?”
“I think that you should come up to the bridge, sir. In the last twentieth, I’ve seen ten sail leaving.”

“Coasters?”

“Bigger than that. There were some coasters leaving earlier, more than normal, but these are not coasters. It’s a bit wet up here, grab an oil skin.”

The commander climbed up to the bridge in the stormy weather. He looked out in the gray sky out in the direction of Eryding. There were three sail exiting Eryding and there seemed to be more on the edge of the horizon. He turned to the lieutenant and said, “How many have you seen so far?”

“I’ve counted fifteen sail so far sir. At first I was going to pursue, until more ships showed up”

“Has sparky radioed it in yet?”

“Yes sir.”

“New moon tonight and these people are leaving on the tide. A lot of people. Do you think that they have seen us?”

“They haven’t seemed to have paid any attention.”

“Considering that Dolphin has been into Eribelle, the bastard over there knows that somebody is watching. So rather than sending the fleet out in pieces, he’s sending them all out. The only problem is where they are going.”

A rating came up out of the hatch. “Sir, a message from the Commodore.”

The rating handed the message to the commander who read it and handed it the lieutenant. “We watch to see if they clean out the barn and follow them to see if we can track them.”

“They’ll probably pull that glamor trick again.”

“That depends on how many mages they have and how close they stick together. In any case, we can get some idea where they are going.”

The island.

The commodore was meeting with Captain Duggins, Commodore Billings and Illianaro over the Admiral’s mother going to the empire in Illiaro’s shack, since it was convient to pier and the water. The Admiral’s mother had insisted that it would be a good thing that Victory and Enterprise’s shakedown cruises were a show the flag tour to Eribelle and Admrial Harper had run out of excuses, so they were off to Eribelle. Billings looked at the commodore and the captain and said, “I don’t like losing Victory and Enterpise for a show the flag mission right now, even if the admiral’s mother and Mr. Harper are involved. They are on their way to Eribelle and that frightens me a bit.”

“Look at it this way, Bob. If the balloon goes up, Victory and Enterprise are closer to the Empire and can back up my boats.”

“True, but I was expecting to have them to fill some gaps and allow me to run the cruisers as divisions rather than single ships.”

Captain Duggins said, “Victory and Enterprise needed shake down cruises anyway, Wilfred and the admiral needs to make better contact with Illianaro’s father than he can with submarines. We can’t slip a command radio into Eribelle with a sub, but a cruiser can, and we need a radio there. We slipped up a bit with Swallow and I don’t want to have that happen again.”

A lieutentant came into the shack and said, “Found you, sirs. Mako has just reported that a lot of ships are leaving Eryding.”

“How many?”
Mako reported fifteen plus ships, identified as Ravathyra warships.”

Stickles turned to the others and said, “I think that Rolin has come out of hiding. Lieutenant, have you sent this to the admiraltly?”

“Yes sir. The message went out as I was leaving.”

“I think, gentlemen that I have some correspondence to send. It’s a good thing that Dolphin was on her way back to the hidden city. I want eyeballs there in case some of these characters show up.”

Commodore Stickles headed to the radio shack. Commodore Billings said, “I’ll wait for Wilfred to finish up before sending my messages out. After all, at best they can’t get here for two five days. Actually it’s a good thing that Victory and Enterprise are where they are.”

Why?” Illianaro asked.

“Because the old cruisers tend to get the toys that the mad scientists come up with during refits and both Victory and Enterprise have the gadget aboard.”

The gadget?”

“I can’t say anything more, but the Ravathyra may find that glamor isn’t as effective as they thought it would be. A lot of the mad scientist stuff gets torn off again fairly quickly, but if this works the way everybody thinks, then it will be a lot harder for a mage to hide at sea.”

The Arsenal, Cleadgate, Beltian Republic.

The admiral was standing at his window looking as eight transports, four seagoing tugs, second cruiser squadron and five destroyers were preparing to go to sea. The tugs would be towing the captured and rebuilt Ravathrya ships when the time came. The crews were working hard on final preparations and the transports were being loaded with the things that would be needed for the coming operation when the departure in a five day was set. The admiral turned to General Ironaxe and said, “Do you think that they will be ready, Dumag?”

“As ready as anybody is for something like this, sir. We have good troops and we’ve been careful to not let them see us being as interested as we are. We’ve collected good intelligence and done as much training and preparation as we can.”

“I’m tempted to send Devestation and Dreadnaught as well.”

“I’ll be honest and say that I can use the firepower. Are they coaled?”
“Yes. I would really like to send Republic and Constitution but they are my hole card, are shaking down and probably not ready.”

The door knocked and a petty officer came in. “Sir, the Ravathyra have sortied out of Eryding.”

“How many ships?”
Mako was still counting when she sent the message. Updates have at least four squadrons, maybe more.”

“It looks as if Admiral Zylvyre is making his move at last. I’m guessing that some of this is a diversion for what he really wants, but without knowing what that might be, that’s going to be tricky. The good news is that dad and mother are going to be in Eribelle with a radio in three days. Dumag, you get Devestation and Dreadnaught and two more cruisers. You might catch anything that Admiral Zylvyre sends to the hidden city in the harbor. In any case, you will have the firepower to back up your troops.”

“Thank you sir. My daddy always says that it is better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

“Your dad is a man of common sense.”

“I think that’s what mother saw in him. It certainly wasn’t his looks. On the other hand, we all turned out ok.”

“How is your brother dealing with our current resident?”

“With grave difficulty and little cooperation. Of course Admiral Zylvyre isn’t helping his client’s case with this little escapade.”

“We will try to keep this off the coast. I think that we should get together with the staff with these developments.”

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