On patrol in the Caribbean, the USS Constellation surprises the Black Bloodhound and his crew in the midst of looting a merchantman. As the buccaneers flee in their schooner, the Constellation’s captain pauses to drop a hastily-assembled prize crew to relieve the victim and and sets off in pursuit of the pirates. Lieutenant Daniel Upton and the prize crew arrive aboard the Brotherly Love, a Quaker ship, to find the deck awash in blood. Everyone aboard has been murdered except one poor soul whose mind is lost to torture. As the Constellation, already losing ground to the speedy pirates, slips over the horizon, Upton finds himself in command of an unarmed ship, damaged by battle and fire, stripped of provisions and navigational instruments but retaining most of her cargo. After acquitting himself well in a brush with pirates off the coast of Cuba, Upton realizes that he is unable to rendezvous with the Constellation in Jamaica and he limps into the nearest port — Havana.