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  1. 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.
  2. Prior builds: In the Captains Cabin (Bregir) Pieces Of A Puzzle (Ayrlego) Arriving at Mooreton Bay (Bregir) Plundering the Treasure Fleet (Ayrlego) Two weeks prior to the events in Mooreton bay... It was a busy day in Nova Terreli's harbour area. Captain Corvus Rohgert from Garvey and his daughter Ellissea walked towards a green house that was well known to many sailors and captains in town: "Mayne's Black Cannonballs". In his factory Aurelio Mayne pours good iron-made cannonballs. But that's not why he is well known. It's his special (and secret) black enamel varnish in which he paints the cannonballs, giving them a special dynamic and additional strength when hitting their target. Mayne also started selling other goods, like dynamite or bullets for guns, but only the cannonballs are actually self-made and the source of his success. Román Fontonajo had long ago realised the potential of Mayne's method and financed the factory for a fair share in profits. "Hello there", captain Rohgert said when he entered the sales-room. "Good day, sir! How can I serve you?", Aurelio replied. "I, Captain Corvus Rohgert, need quite a few cannonballs for my ship, the Shareka." "You are from Carno, right?" "Is that a problem?" "Not in the slightest, my friend! Your daughter, I assume?, seems bored. How is your name, little lady?", Aurelio asked. "Ellissea", the young girl replied. "That's a nice name. Your daddy and I need to do some talking, but we won't need too long." "... so 640 cannonballs delivered to the pier until tomorrow evening.", Aurelio said. "Yes." "But pardon, good sir, that I ask: What is that kind of ship, that needs 640 cannonballs? Your Shareka must be a 5-rated, no, that must be at least a 6-rated ship?!" "Haha! My Shareka is far from that. A class 3 at best, I'd rather rate it class 2, if you ask me. Quite well rounded she is, though. But..." "... yeah, I know, it's actually none of my business, am I right?", Aurelio replied. "Quite right. So we have a deal?" "Yes, Captain Rohgert. Our delivery will be in time." "And here is your money.", said the Garvian, handing over the golden coins. "Thank you, thank you. Good travels, captain!" "Good balls, ballmaker! Come on, Ellissea, time to go. Say bye to the man." Back on the street Ellissea asked: "Daddy, why do they need so much gold to make those cannonballs? Wouldn't iron be cheaper?" Corvus looked at her, frowning: "Gold? Cannonballs are not made from gold, my dear. You do indeed pour iron." "But they did take gold!", Ellisea insisted. "Gold? Really? That does not make... wait! ... gold... black colouring... hide it.... brilliant! ... oh... Ellissea, are you absolutely sure?!", he stared at her. "Yes, daddy. I am not stupid, I know how gold looks. They use gold, very much gold" "So that's where they have hidden the gold in here... Oh wow, Janszoon will like those news. He will indeed. Oh sweetheart, we are gonna be so rich! Rich, you hear me?", he said, laughing. She smiled: "Can we buy some chocolate then?" "It's cocoa-lait, darling. Like cocoa from Cocovia with lait, which is Oleander for milk. Don't ask me why they mixed it like this. But of course, of course, we will buy you cocoa-lait or chocolate or whatever you want to call it my love!" Yes. The young Ellisea had seen correctly: Aurelio's men currently also made cannonballs of gold instead of iron, which they then painted black. Román Fontonajo had been given order to organise the transport of a large portion of the gold for the old world and had been confronted with the task to bring it on board of the ship - without letting anyone know. Who would suspect black cannonballs to be made of gold? A brilliant plan indeed, Aurelio Mayne and Román Fontonajo had agreed. Little could they have foreseen that a small girl named Ellissea from Garvey would pry their secret and tell her father, who would then provide the information... to his boss, captain Janszoon of the Dark Oak, privateer from Garvey, just waiting for his chance to become rich... And it was a lot of information: Confirming what the treasury clerk had told them. He now also knew that at least a part of the treasure fleet started from Nova Terreli. And of course he now knew that even though the gold might not be visible it would still be on the ships. Well hidden in cannonballs.