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The next part in my collab with Ayrlego and my category 4A entry. Prior builds: In the Captains Cabin (Bregir) Pieces Of A Puzzle (Ayrlego) Arriving at Mooreton Bay (Bregir) Continuation: TBD What Major Allcock had to report made Cooke regret the orders he had given Ferguson. The Athena could have evened the scores somewhat, but she would be halfway to Cocovia by now. The curse of hindsight. Cooke pushed aside these fruitless thoughts and considered recent events. Just earlier this day he had stepped aboard the old Ironsides, only to be greeted by a widely smiling version of his old friend Ferguson. "I have been given the honour of being the first to congratulate you on your promotion, CAPTAIN Cooke," he had said, presenting Cooke with a set of glorious golden epaulettes and the news of his promotion. "Post-captain" - he had yet to fully grasp his own bliss. And while the Ironsides was not the frigate he had dreamt of, nor exactly a flyer, she was still a powerful tool if only used right... And he found himself endearing to her already. His orders reaffirmed his position as commander of her Royal Majesty's armed forces on and around Cocovia, and in Ferguson he had been given a competent officer to assist him in this task. Which is why only hours ago, it had seemed so natural to dispatch him with the Athena to Cocovia with the newest orders and directives. Cooke had to admit other duties had forced him to neglect the colony recently, but Ferguson would surely make up for this. It was in the capacity of commander that he was now talking to Major Dirk Allcock, the ranking Corlander military officer on Alicentia and temporary military governor of the colony, and a friend and colleague of Montoya's. Being responsible for the colony, Allcock had been concerned by the build-up of military forces in the neighbouring Garvian colony Leopoldis, which had led him to investigate recent rumours of a large warship being stationed there. "Let me see if I understand you correctly, Major. A Garvian frigate sailing under a letter of marque has arrived in Leopoldis, rumoured to after the largest ever prize of the New World?" "Correct," Allcock interjected. "And you believe the prize is an Eslandian treasure fleet?" "So everything suggests, sir." "You have done good work, Major, very good work. One might take you for a man of intelligence one day. Intelligence work, I mean." Cooke said, forcing a smile. "Thank you, sir! All in the line of duty." Allcock said, bowing his head politely. "Diplomacy be damned... Even though we know all this, there is nothing I can do without risking diplomatic ramifications... We need proof," exclaimed Cooke after a short pause. "Might I suggest getting someone on board the privateer to investigate? We could arrange for certain crewmembers to... fall ill, opening up for replacements..." "A sound suggestion that might give us conclusive evidence," Cooke responded before letting out a sigh. "But it is a dangerous mission... And we would have to ensure our men get picked..." "One of my advisors... Russel should be able to arrange for me and him to fill those openings. He is somewhat of a rogue, but rather well-connected in the relevant... eh... circles..." "Are you willing to take that risk?" Cooke asked, and Allcock nodding in the affirmative. "Very well. I shall row you out myself to see you off. And you must get off that vessel the moment you have the necessary proof - take no chances! When you return, the Ironsides may have to re-earn her nickname..." And so, late next evening, a new purser and his mates were being taken to the "Black Oak" in the port of Leopoldis after the original crewmembers had suffered from alcohol induced comas... "Godspeed, Major Allcock, Godspeed..." "Thank you, Commander Cooke. I shall return as soon as I have the evidence..." ----------------------------------------- Hope you like the story and builds - C&C is, as ever, more than welcome. Stay posted for more. Extra photos in the spoiler.