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fredmiracle
08-22-2014, 16:19
Gold Fever

On can only imagine Chef d'escadre Esprit-Tranquille Maistral's surprise and dismay, when he discovered that his vaunted prize, the Spanish Buque de Plata was empty of treasure!

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Revealing the solution to this puzzle required only that he find a shady warrant office among the Spanish prisoners, willing to take a bribe. The answer was that the cagey Spanish captain--having heard rumors that his French "allies" lay in wait to intercept him--had offloaded his precious cargo on a deserted islet in the Bahamas.

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Being a man not easily daunted, and unwilling to leave his mission only half-completed, the French commodore dispatched his prize back to Brest, accompanied by the wounded Unite. Maistral himself, meanwhile, turned the bow of his flagship Hermione towards the New World.

After a rapid passage across the Atlantic, the French frigate hove to off the shore where the treasure had been cached. But where exactly had the silver been concealed? Only a careful search could answer that question.

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Glancing warily at the solid wall of dark clouds blotting out the south-east horizon, Maistral wondered if the weather would hold long enough for that search to be made.

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On the way in towards the beach, the crew of Hermione's gig searched a rocky outcrop offshore, finding no sign of human activity there.

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From the topmast, however, cries indicated a human presence of a different sort. Gliding in from the sea, and clearly intent on intercepting Maistral's expedition, was the menacing black form of a ship. She was a powerful vessel--without a doubt commanded by the dread pirate Meleager, one of the most infamous raiders in Caribbean waters. Now Maistral knew he was in a race against both man and nature.

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Ignoring the oncoming threat, Maistral held a steady course inshore.

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As soon as he drew within range, the commodore dispatched the ship's launch to check out a rocky promontory. It seemed a likely enough spot to find treasure, but once more the French were denied their hoped-for prize.

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As Hermione maneuvered further inshore to the mouth of a small stream, Maistral's launch ferried another landing party. This time fortune smiled on the French, which finally found a Spanish treasure chest. While heartening enough, it was soon apparent that the find represented only a fraction of a galleon's lading, and that more caches must therefore be hidden along the beach.

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Maistral and Meleager were now on a collision course. Hermione's longboat crew continued to scour the beach, but without success. Maistral watched with trepidation as the pirates slung out their own boat to search the shore as well, but these efforts went equally unrewarded.

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The clash between the two hardened warriors could no longer be delayed. The ships' hulls scraped together as they unleashed a deluge of point-blank cannon and musket fire upon one-another. The pirates were better armed and more numerous, but the French frigate had a bit more staying power. Both craft were grievously injured, yet ready to continue the fight.

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With his mind fixated on the prospect of treasure, Maistral allowed his frigate to glide past the pirates. Turning sharply, Meleager missed his chance at a deadly raking shot as his crew hastily reloaded the cannons.

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Passing the headland, Maistral continued to play with fire by leaving his unprotected stern open to attack. Engaged in a delicate tacking maneuver, the pirates got their raking shot at last, but at much greater range. The carnage aboard Hermione was grusome to behold, but the normally humane Maistral spared his men hardly a glance, so beguiled was he by the treasure that must lie in the bay ahead.

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As the pirates rounded to their new tack, the French warship was able to open the range. The men from her cutter landed on a nearby island, and Maistral's eyes flashed as they roared out the news that a second chest of South American silver had been found.

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It was at this point that the Frenchman's gold fever reached its pitch. Insensible to the threats of typhoon and marauder, as well as the loss of nearly half his crew, the frenzied French commodore was unwilling to miss any chance for treasure, however slight. Boldly he ordered the helmsman to steer sharply for the coast. The sailing master groaned inwardly as he realized the ship was veering too far to starboard--with the headway she was carrying, she would never be able to avoid grounding in the shallow bay. But the commodore's orders simply couldn't be questioned. The master's inner doubts were multiplied as it became clear that the risk had been run for nothing: the shore party landed by the French barge again came up empty.

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The price of Maistral's folly was now to be paid. A hideous grinding noise announced the fact that Hermione had run up on the beach. Fortunately the tide was high, and the sand soft and yielding, or else the fate of the French commander and his crew would have been sealed. Even so, the delay allowed Meleager to round the promontory, sail into range, and release an ineffectual broadside from his forward guns.


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Ignoring the fusilade, Maistral attempted to profit by his navigational blunder, by ordering a score of men to jump over the side and start digging. Sadly their efforts were for naught.

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As their ship again began to make headway, Hermione's sailors unleashed a blast of their own toward the onrushing pirates. It was a telling blow, which gouged chunks of oak from the dusky sides of the raider. Meanwhile, the French whaleboat shuttled yet another landing party to shore, and a third chest of riches was soon revealed.

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Once more cutting behind the French ship, the pirates fired a last, desperate broadside. Fortunately for Maistral, they failed to line up a perfect raking shot, although in truth the engagement was still hot enough. Cheerfully dodging roundshot, the French jolly-boat crew came back aboard in triumph, bearing the final portion of the Spanish cargo.

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The only remaining question was whether Meleager had cut his maneuvers too fine, and would end up matching Maistral's ignominious maneuver by running aground on the sand bar. For a moment it appeared the pirate vessel would indeed make the sharp turn necessary to avoid this embarrassment, but in the end she too ran afoul of the coastline.

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With the treasure secured, his enemy's approach delayed, and ugly weather looming, Maistral deemed his efforts successful, and sailed off to find suitable shelter from the storm. He shuddered inwardly as he reflected on how his lust for gold had nearly cost him everything...

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Nightmoss
08-22-2014, 19:15
Well done, Fred! Thanks for the really engaging narrative and excellent photos. You had me sitting on the edge! Congrats! :salute:

fredmiracle
08-22-2014, 20:31
Very fun and creative scenario Jim! :beer:

I was feeling pretty cocky with my maneuvers until I managed to plow my ship right into the beach. That should teach me a little humility! :dazed:

Nightmoss
08-22-2014, 20:44
Glad it worked out. Honestly, I had hoped this would be more than a run and gun. Ship maneuvering and speed are important. If I gain nothing else from working on this scenario I will have a better sense of ship movement relative to objects around me, especially stationary ones. :sly:

Uthoroc
08-23-2014, 03:33
Great report Fred. Did you escape on turn 15, or even earlier?

Comte de Brueys
10-29-2014, 14:41
Nice gold hunt, AAR, Fred.

That was close for the French frigate.

Raking shots and running on ground... :shock:

Finally they made it.

Good written report. :thumbsup:

Union Jack
11-05-2014, 00:00
Brilliantly done sir, but cutting it damn fine. Hope the Frenchie weathered the storm and the pirate not intent on revenge!

Bligh
07-23-2015, 04:38
What an excellently spun yarn Fred.
I was there with the French Commodore and his Captain throughout the quest for gold.
those back up pictures just added to the ambiance wonderfully.
Well done in all respects. :clap:
Rob.