Welcome

Welcome to Beat to Quarters, a Play-by-Post Text Roleplay set in 1741. It's the Age of Sail, and also the Age of Piracy here in the West Indies. Will you fight for King and Country and uphold the law here at the edge of colonial civilization? Or will you pillage and plunder to your black heart's content? The wind's a-blowin' and the sea awaits, so prepare for adventure...

The Tale So Far

September, 1741:

Madre de Dios, a Spanish galleon loaded with gold, is on her way back to Europe with her convoy. But an ambush lies in wait for her in the Inaguas – the Sea Hound is planning a bold assault on the larger ship, her pirate crew willing to risk it all for gold and glory. But Sea Hound is both predator and prey, as the HMS Steadfast closes in for another encounter with her quarry. The deadly showdown between the three forces is fast approaching...

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After "Beat to Quarters" closed, "Before the Mast" is the site leading the stories in the West Indies... but in 1720. Active since August 2010.

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Admins:
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Ship Captains:
Jonathan Silas Thorne
Captain of the Steadfast
Rodrigo Sol Valera
Captain of the Sea Hound

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Daniel Hedge, Annette Williams



Liz's enthusiasm, dedication, and talent all make her an invaluable member of the BtQ community! Her recent character, Dr. Daniel Hedge has proved to be a fine addition to Steadfast's crew, and a source of brilliant posting. Her commitment to character development makes each of her posts a joy to read.
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 Red Sky At Morning, (Cont. from Into th Mist. Tag: all)
Captain Jonathan Thorne
Posted: Apr 19 2011, 07:40 PM
Quote


Captain of the Steadfast


Group: Members
Posts: 175
Member No.: 6
Joined: 30-May 09



Thorne had not slept. After his long period of pacing on the deck and his conversation with Moore, he'd eventually passed the watch on to Boyd. He had returned to his cabin with the intention of resting while the sky remained dark, but he'd merely lain in his hammock, staring sleeplessly at the low wooden beams of the ceiling. No rest for the wicked, he found himself thinking. Not that he considered himself an especially wicked man, but he knew well enough that he was no innocent; dark and violent thoughts plagued him, filled him with bloody anticipation...

Eventually he gave up on sleep for the second time that night, rising and moving to his desk. On impulse, he took out the little silver-framed miniature portrait of Anne from his desk drawer, running his rough fingers over its delicate surface. It wasn't the timeliest image... no doubt she was years older and far different in appearance than she'd been when she'd sat for the painting, but he found it meaningful nonetheless. After a few moments of contemplating his daughter's pale and serious little face, he moved to return the portrait to the drawer. He hesitated, though, his hand halfway there, then retracted it, instead tucking the miniature into his waistcoat pocket. If asked, he'd have been unable to say why.

He spent the next hour or so pouring over charts. Since they'd left Tortuga, his mind had been full of strategy; sketches of battleplans took form on every available scrap of paper, accounting for different conditions of wind, positioning, time of day, and any other variable he could conceive. He was frantically scribbling a plan for if they should catch the Hound on a starboard tack off a lee shore when a frantic knock fell on his door.

"Enter," he shouted, not bothering to look up.


(Tag: Marina from Into the Mist)
^
Marina Costa
Posted: Apr 20 2011, 02:21 PM
Quote


Able seaman, Steadfast


Group: Members
Posts: 202
Member No.: 62
Joined: 16-September 09



Marina heard the captain’s invitation, so she entered, finding him looking at a map. Maps, quills, papers were spreaded all around, sign that the captain was working hard. She had always admired the tastefully decorated, huge cabin, a heaven in comparison with the cramped conditions before the mast, but she didn’t stare. She had been sent with a purpose there:

”Sorry to disturb you, Sir, but Mr. Moore asked me to inform you that we found either the galleon or the pirates.”

Another battle was drawing near, and Marina hoped this one to end better than the previous two.


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Captain Jonathan Thorne
Posted: Apr 22 2011, 05:59 PM
Quote


Captain of the Steadfast


Group: Members
Posts: 175
Member No.: 6
Joined: 30-May 09



Thorne looked up at Costa. Had he heard right? His heart leapt in his chest. "Thank you, Costa." He stood, snatched up his hat and pistols, then strode toward the door, brushing past Costa. "Follow me."

It was still dark, and only the barest tint of gray on the horizon indicated that sunrise was but a few hours away. Pulling his spyglass from his coat pocket, he extended it once he reached the quarterdeck. It didn't take long to spot the dancing speck of light in the distance. A lantern. It was a good thing he'd had his men take precautions to douse or conceal all of Steadfast's shipboard lights, rendering her invisible in the dark.

His blood was rushing. He felt vaguely lightheaded as his heart throbbed against his constraining ribs. A mix of terror, anticipation, dread, and dark glee seethed in his gut at the prospect of impending battle. "Costa, go fetch my officers. Then wake the men and summon them to their posts – but ensure they do so in utter silence. Any man who shouts or brings an uncovered light above decks will be flogged to within an inch of his life, is that understood?" they couldn't risk losing the element of surprise. They'd suffered too much for this advantage...

A thought occurred to him as the boy turned to go. "Oh, and Mr. Costa – you've been promoted to acting midshipman until further notice."

^
Marina Costa
Posted: Apr 25 2011, 03:50 AM
Quote


Able seaman, Steadfast


Group: Members
Posts: 202
Member No.: 62
Joined: 16-September 09



Marina had expected a grumpy captain, as it had happened a couple of days ago. The story seemed to repeat itself... but no, not really! The captain had thanked her, he had asked to be followed...

”Yes, Sir!” she answered promptly, then, on the deck, she received further instructions.

She knew well the order how to bring the officers: first Mr. Legge, then Mr. Remizov, then Commander Gray, then everybody else. And the importance of silence and darkness didn’t need to be outlined. Who would want risking to desconspire the location of the ship?

”Understood. I’m on my way, Sir!”

But the uttermost surprise was yet to come – promoted as acting midshipman? It was a honour she couldn’t have ever thought about! Being tutored together with the midshipmen when her duties allowed, was one thing, and a huge achievement in itself, but becoming one... this was beyond her dreams.

”Thank you, Sir! I’ll make sure not to disappoint you,” she answered with a trembling voice.

It was too dark for anybody to see how red her cheeks were. Pleasing the superiors and having her efforts recognised were what she had always wanted, however this overpassed her wildest expectations. She had no idea yet what else it could mean, except the learning aspect, and she was always willing to learn anything useful.

Her next stop was, therefore, at Mr. Legge's door, knocking frantically.


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Marcus Rose
Posted: Apr 28 2011, 02:20 PM
Quote





Group: Members
Posts: 13
Member No.: 154
Joined: 7-February 11



Marcus woke up too early for the next watch but it would have been useless to go back to sleep for a short time. He didn't feel too sleepy, so he washed his face to wake up better and dressed up. It could be quite cold at this time of night.

He decided to go up for a bit of fresh air but stopped halfway when he saw Costa knocking on Legge's door.

Hm... something's gonna happen, the lad would never disturb an officer without a reason.

"Night, Costa!" he said quietly. "What's the fuss about?"

Perhaps they finally spotted the pirates or the Spaniards? Marcus' eyes began to shine. This time they would not neglect poor guns. He could've sworn Amelia and Filomena (larboard no. 5) were sad. Oh yes, they had souls, just not everyone could understand them. They were so grateful for good usage and proper care.
^
Graham Moore
Posted: Apr 30 2011, 07:10 PM
Quote


Sailing-master, Steadfast


Group: Moderator
Posts: 286
Member No.: 93
Joined: 14-February 10



After taking his leave from Dr. Hedge, Graham had turned towards the quarterdeck and seen the captain's dark figure looming there before he arrived. Climbing the steps that led up to it, he felt his tiredness in every bone of his body and cursing his weakness, he needed a moment to catch his breath once he had arrived on the quarterdeck.

How on earth was he supposed to perform his duties in this state? How hold his own in battle? He sighed wearily at the thought that it was no use to lament what he could not change, then straightened before stepping up to the captain.

"Is it the Sea Hound or the Spanish galleon, Captain?"

The thought of the coming battle did not fill him with excitement, rather with gloom and again, he found himself questioning his decision to stay in the Navy.
^
Captain Jonathan Thorne
Posted: May 1 2011, 08:05 PM
Quote


Captain of the Steadfast


Group: Members
Posts: 175
Member No.: 6
Joined: 30-May 09



He could see the pinpoint of bobbing light in the distance, but as furiously as he squinted through his spyglass, everything else was shadows. "Impossible to tell yet," Thorne replied, a hint of undirected irritation in his voice. Costa had fetched Moore quickly, else Moore had already been on his way up. "We'll need more light to be sure, but one will no doubt lead us to the other. We'll pursue from a distance until dawn." At which point they gray morning light would reveal a silhouette that would indicate one ship or the other, and one of the many plans he'd been feverishly planning throughout the sleepless night would go into effect.

He found himself secretly hoping the ship was indeed the Hound. The Spaniard would, of course, mean greater glory at home and prize money for all, but it was neither glory nor prize money that drove him. And why would either ship have but the one light illuminated? And why sail at night rather than heave to? Unless she were beating back to make up for lost time... The Hound, it had to be, surely. But why would she light herself for all to see? Carelessness? Sabotage? He though of Felix Rose – his informant within the pirates' midst. Was the light some sort of signal intended to betray the Hound's location to Steadfast? If so, it might not remain alight for long...

"Mister Moore – chart the direction that light is traveling in and determine a course to match it," he said, collapsing his glass and handing it over to the Ship's Master. "We might not have her to steer by for long."
^
Percival W. Legge
Posted: May 2 2011, 10:09 AM
Quote


1st Lieutenant, Steadfast


Group: Admin
Posts: 656
Member No.: 59
Joined: 31-August 09



In deep, dreamless rest he heard the knocking at the same time he became aware of being asleep. Hurry up! Wake! he thought a fraction of a moment later, then was only aware of sitting on the edge of his cot and the persistent knocking on the door.

“Yes!” he called, still putting on his uniform jacket. Costa stood in the doorway relaying the message from the Captain. “Understood, thank you.”

Costa had barely stepped back when Percy brushed past him, and saw the master-gunner hovering around the wardroom entrance. “Mister Rose, come with me.” Percy pushed past him, too, alive and awake as he hadn't been in days. As well he should with the uncertainty of the past weeks finally behind him and a long night of uninterrupted sleep. This was a glorious morning, he could feel it.

Without delay he climbed the steps to the quarter deck. His incisiveness revealed through the energy of his movement and the strength of his voice, though his expression remained neutral. “Captain Thorne,” he said, reporting as told, then allowed himself to glance the direction everyone's attention seemed to be turned.

^
Captain Jonathan Thorne
Posted: May 2 2011, 11:24 PM
Quote


Captain of the Steadfast


Group: Members
Posts: 175
Member No.: 6
Joined: 30-May 09



“Captain Thorne." Legge had emerged from belowdeck with the burly master gunner in tow, following him like something of an oversized, ill-tempered puppy.

"Hm? Ah - Legge. Good. We seem to have located our quarry." He nodded to the horizon where the pinprick of light could just barely be seen through the early pre-dawn mist with the naked eye. While the tone of his voice and his composure were both stoic and unrevealing, his failure to use proper address belied his eagerness. "I'm having Costa wake all hands. He'll be an acting midshipman for the duration of the engagement, by the way, so the gun crews will all supervised. Have a team sent to man the capstan and hoist anchor. We'll need to make all sail. Mister Moore is charting a course as we speak." His sentences emerged one after another in short, clipped tones. No time for eloquence; not yet. His mind was speeding as if it had wings, darting from one thought to the next without so much as a pause. There was a fire inside him.

"Additionally, I want all hands to make initial preparations for battle. Have Wright prepare an early breakfast for the men, then extinguish the galley fires." There was no sense in giving the order for General Quarters just yet, but by cutting down on the preparations entailed in advance, they'd be able to seize the moment of opportunity all the quicker when it came. He turned on the Gunner, transferring his attention from Legge: "Mister Rose, I want the guns prepared and ready to be run out on a moment's notice. I suggest having a number of breach plugs ready; no knowing how much firepower we'll be exchanging."
^
Marcus Rose
Posted: May 3 2011, 10:24 AM
Quote





Group: Members
Posts: 13
Member No.: 154
Joined: 7-February 11



He followed Legge quietly. Oh, finally! He was eager for a good old-fashioned battle where they didn't have to play a spider waiting for the flies to walk into their mouth but could take the enemy by surprise, and put the guns in use.

And to his joy, the captain ordered:

"Mister Rose, I want the guns prepared and ready to be run out on a moment's notice. I suggest having a number of breach plugs ready; no knowing how much firepower we'll be exchanging."

"Aye aye sir!" His eyes were like a young husband's right before the wedding night. Battles were his element. He promptly went to prepare the guns. The crew was coming up, in unusual silence. Threats could do wonders...

He quietly repeated them the Captain's orders and saw they were done, then fetched his sword and turned all his attention to the gun crews. To a landlubber the preparations of a battle could look chaotic but Rose saw the beautiful order behind it. They were well trained and even though the new crews couldn't practice together since the last, quite Pyrrhic battle, the preparations went better than expected.

"Right, boys" he said "just keep it like that and we'll give them something to remember."
^
Marina Costa
Posted: May 26 2011, 02:49 PM
Quote


Able seaman, Steadfast


Group: Members
Posts: 202
Member No.: 62
Joined: 16-September 09



Marina had done everything she had been ordered to. People had been summoned on the deck in silence, and nobody had betrayed, with a noise or a light, the position of “Steadfast”. Her heart was beating loudly of emotion, but when back on the deck, after a while, she saw that nothing had actually changed for bad. She went to the captain, who was discussing with the officers, to report mission accomplished. She looked at Mr. Legge, wondering if he knew already about her new appointment. Then she approached the master gunner and told him, on a low voice, almost a whisper:

”Sorry, Sir, that I couldn’t answer you anymore then, I had been sent to wake everybody up. Now we can only get prepared for the battle. And this time the captain said I’d be an acting midshipman during the battle, so you may have additional orders for me.”

Unlike him, she hated guns, and she was glad she wasn’t sponging them anymore. However, she knew that midshipmen were involved somehow in supervising guns in the battle, so she was waiting for additional information.

Marina couldn't help thinking how strange the latest a few days have been. Not only fighting pirates and losing men she cared for, but having, now, two sorts of promotions in perspective... A midshipman or a surgeon's mate? What was more attractive for her? The answer was both, and she knew it wasn't possible...


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^
Marcus Rose
Posted: May 26 2011, 03:04 PM
Quote





Group: Members
Posts: 13
Member No.: 154
Joined: 7-February 11



He gave a rare smile. Even he liked this Costa boy and he was in an excellent mood thanks to the upcoming battle.

"Acting midshipman? I should call you 'sir' then, shouldn't I?"

It came quite suddenly but he knew Costa and the young Greek satisfied even his maximalist exceptions, so it was no wonder he got promoted.

"You could help me to supervise the gun crews and pass orders. If you're a mid, Mr. Costa, you have to get used to giving orders and see that they're done."

As they were ready now and all they could do was to wait he continued to talk quietly.

"I thought they'd make you surgeon's mate. It would really be a blessing if we got someone better than Hendrik. When I got a cut in the last battle, he said I should put chilli on it. That it would 'clear' the wound. But thank God the doc came and sew me together."

He grinned. He forgot to mention what he answered to Hendrik where exactly the surgeon's mate should put his chilli.
^
Marina Costa
Posted: May 28 2011, 11:50 AM
Quote


Able seaman, Steadfast


Group: Members
Posts: 202
Member No.: 62
Joined: 16-September 09



The master gunner smiled, but then it seemed to Marina that he was mocking her.

”Mr. Rose, I am the same person you have known for almost two years, so it would seem… totally strange,” she answered, embarrassed.

He was so kind in explaining what a midshipman had to do during the battle, and Marina smiled gratefully:

”Thank you, Sir, I’ll do everything needed. But… would people listen to my orders when I have been one of them, and among the youngest?” she asked with a frown, her green eyes clouded by worry.

She had been confronted with envy before, and she didn’t want more of it. Then, Mr. Rose changed the subject, telling her that he had expected her to be appointed a surgeon’s mate. Well, it seemed that several people wanted her there… as if it made any difference.

”I heard that possibility too. But anyway, in my free time I’ll help Doc exactly like until now, so not much will change in this respect,” she stated calmly, knowing that it wasn’t her place to comment on what Mr. Hendrik did or not.

If she was going to be a midshipman, she will do her duty as required, but she’d never be a snotty one.


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^
Marcus Rose
Posted: May 28 2011, 01:33 PM
Quote





Group: Members
Posts: 13
Member No.: 154
Joined: 7-February 11



"There are mids younger than you, Costa. DoN't worry about the men. They know you and I dare say they like you. You're experienced for your age, but don't tell the captain I praised you or he'd say I spoil his men."

He winked. He really wasn't one who could be accused with spoiling the crew, he was usually cold and strict, but Martin was a nice chap and always polite. Rare thing, such a good-mannered young man. Rose wondered if he ever heard him swearing.

"Now the only question is whom we're approaching... the Spaniards or the pirates?"

For Rose both would do - as long as the guns had their party and he could expect a good fight.
^
Marina Costa
Posted: May 31 2011, 09:46 AM
Quote


Able seaman, Steadfast


Group: Members
Posts: 202
Member No.: 62
Joined: 16-September 09



Marina was still pondering the impact of this decision on her life. Would she be able to make herself obeyed, as Mr. Rose had well pointed out? Or, more exactly, would she be able to act at the height of her new position? Her ambitious nature hoped yes, and the master gunner tried to appease her concerns. She smiled widely when she heard the praises, answering politely:

”Of course not, Sir! And I’ll do my best…”

When the older man wondered which of their enemies was ahead of them, Marina looked at him serenely:

”Any of them would be equally good as a prize, Sir!”

She preferred to be optimistic and not think about the opposite possibility.


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