Disclaimer: I guess I really do need to remind you all that anything and everything related to Pirates of the Caribbean, their characters and settings are all the property of Disney - Disney - Disney - nobody - but -Disney - I-just-borrowing-to-play-with-and-giving-back. Only Disney can make money on anything to do with Pirates of the Caribbean. NOT ME!
Summary: Jack Sparrow once observed that apparently, one good deed could be enough to condemn a man. After the earthquake destroys Port Royal, what part does a well-known pirate figure in the aftermath?
Setting: After the First Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but before any of the others had even been made…. So, this does not follow the 'rest of the story' or anything else that came in the later movies. Think back to the day when all you had ever seen was the one and only 'Pirates of the Caribbean, the Curse of the Black Pearl' adventure…. 3 and a half years later…...
Historical Note: On June 7th, in the year1692…. just minutes before noon, a violent earthquake struck the Caribbean town of Port Royal, located on the island of Jamaica. It is estimated to have been well over what today measures as a 7 on the earthquake scale, in a day and age when building standards did not exist. Entire portions of the town sunk down into the sea, never to see the sunlight again, and in the end, barely one-third of the town remained, and only one damaged military fort was left to provide any measure of defense. The earthquake was followed immediately by a 30-foot-tall tsunami that destroyed even more of what was left of the town, sweeping hundreds and hundreds of people out to sea, never to be seen again. It is when the shaking stops and the flood waters are gone, that our story begins….
Chapter 1 When the World Falls Apart.
June 11th, Saturday
Smoke from the out-of-control fires and dust still hung heavily in the air over what was left of the port. Two large vessels in the harbor leaned sharply into each other, having been slammed together with such force during the earth's sudden upheaval that their masts and rigging had become hopelessly tangled. Nothing still afloat was larger than a small fishing vessel. The towering mast of one ship stuck up straight in the middle of the town! It had been washed there by the giant tsunami that had come just minutes after the earthquake finally quit. Needless to say, the buildings it had landed upon had not exactly survived the sudden addition…. But then, many other buildings had also been left little more than piles of rubble and debris.
The Port Royal British Fleet had been tied up securely in the harbor, and thus were the victims of the upheaval and resulting tidal waves. Luckily none had actually sunk, but nothing would be leaving under its own power until extensive repairs were made.
Everywhere one looked there was rubble, mud, debris, and the unmistakable stench of death and decay. Most eerie though was the silence. Past was the weeping and wailing, the screams of the dying. Now there was the quiet hum of the survivors, intent on eking out what little could be salvaged from the ruins of the town.
Commodore Norrington found it hard to believe the sun dared to rise. This, the fourth day after the disaster, the shock had begun to wear off and a deep resentment had taken its' place. How could God above allow such a tragedy? The death of so many innocents? Leave them so defenseless? His jaw clenched at the thought.
By now word of the disaster had spread. He was absolutely certain that within days Port Royal would become the biggest target for looting and chaos in the entire Northern Hemisphere - and of course, the region was already infested with more predators and pirates than a dog had fleas. Except for the Marines and sailors from the ships and the cannons high on the fort top, they would be defenseless against whoever or whatever chose to come to see what was left for the taking from the paralyzed city.
William and Elizabeth were both smeared with soot and grime as they stood outside in the center Courtyard of the fort. The Governor's house had survived the earthquakes intact, but the blacksmith's shop was now under 50 to 100 feet of water, along with the rest of the mile or so of land that had once been the dock and central town area.
The biggest concerns now were the securing of shelter, food, clean water, and building materials. Nearly all of the businesses central to the functioning of Port Royal had been located near the docks - which meant only the fish could now frequent those establishments.
The dock itself would have to be rebuilt before ships bringing relief could unload. But those ships would not come anytime soon. It would take weeks for the news to reach England, and then week upon week for ships loaded with supplies to sail back to them. It might even be as long as 3 months before true help arrived.
Already the price for lumber from areas located elsewhere on the island had increased 10-fold. What cost a shilling a foot for a board last week, now cost 10 shillings a foot! The militia was far too busy with emergency issues to bother with shopkeepers now intent on making as much profit as they could from the event. It was enough to make Elizabeth feel sick to her stomach.
Like everyone else, they had helped rescue those who could be dug from the rubble - helped the injured, even helped extract some of those who had paid the ultimate price. William's mentor and the owner of the blacksmith shop, Mr. Brown and his beloved wife, had been among those unfortunates who had lost their lives. They had not been alone though…. Well over 2,500 others had perished with them.
That was 1 out of every 3 people who lived in the town! Not that they would have to bury them all…. A good number had been swallowed up when the earth split open in wide cracks when the shaking began…. Only to slam suddenly shut in the final throes of the earth's upheaval.
While Will had been lugging beams, and stone the last few days, Elizabeth had been well occupied with the large number of sudden orphans that had been gathered together at the church. The small number of priests had been quickly overwhelmed between the need for burials and the 5 dozen orphans they had suddenly found themselves the wards of.
This was practically the first-time husband and wife had seen each other for more than a few minutes since the disaster had struck. Just the sight of each other gave them cause again to rejoice just in the fact that they were both safe and well, as was the rest of the Governor's household. Neither of them had hardly seen the Governor himself at all since - the man was constantly buzzing from one place to another in meetings and conferences with all kinds of assorted other men of high station that had doings with the, until now, prosperous port city. Over 6,000 people had lived in Port Royal last week… and none of them knew yet exactly how many remained.
June 12th, Sunday
Several hours sail time away, the very large Indiaman Transom galley, with its huge black sails slipped efficiently through the waves. At her helm stood a dark woman of average height and slender build. She stood clad in the common britches and loose-fitting linen shirt of her occupation, and her face bore a look of serious contemplation. The entire crew of the ship had had much to contemplate in the last few days. They had been perfectly content and on a heading for the Windward Passage when the captain of the ship had seen something unusual in the water.
It was not the sort of thing a normal pirate would have noticed, but then, Captain Jack Sparrow was no ordinary pirate. He was one of the nine pirate lords, chosen by the Ancient Gods who had long ago left Mt Olympus and relocated to the underwater city of Atlantis.
Actually, Captain Sparrow himself would remind you that he was the 'incipient' Pirate Lord of the Caribbean. Not fully anointed and confirmed, not yet at least… and that was just fine with him. He and the god of the sea, Neptune, had not exactly hit it off all that well.
But then, how would you like to have your little schooner smashed to smithereens and be drug under the sea, only to be told by some 17-foot-tall man with blue skin that your future career path has been determined for you? Without even so much as a 'would you care to volunteer before we appoint you'?
Oh, he had gotten used to it… That had been nigh on 15 years ago now as a matter of fact. And it did have its advantages. Some very nice ones. Still, he was in no hurry whatsoever to be meeting Neptune again, not anytime soon! Staying on the topside of the sea was just fine as far as he was concerned!
Absently the pirate's hand went to the round silver medallion he wore around his neck. It had a silver triangle inside the circle, and inside the silver triangle, a round gold coin with only one mark on it…. The Greek letter 'O'… O, as in Olympus. That other people rarely even noticed he wore it had mystified him at first. He was glad though, considering the leather thong it hung on was too small to get off over his head and the cord so far had resisted being cut by any sword or knife he had ever come across…. And you could believe he had tried them all!
It was the wide streak of purple that had suddenly appeared in the water that had told him that the unusual wave he had felt pass beneath his ship had meant nothing good. Not that his crew could see it. Only 8 other men living in the world would have been able to see the wide purple stain in the sea. His crew were among the very few people who knew the special role he had been chosen for but were very good at keeping mum to the fact.
You didn't exactly want to go bragging about being a Pirate Lord, or the fact that you sailed with one… that would be just inviting trouble from the more military types so abundant in the Caribbean, not to mention other assorted troublemakers. And he made sure to make their silence worth it.
A ship needed a Captain and a crew… and a Captain needed a ship and a crew…. And a crew needed a ship and a captain…. Even if you were a Pirate Lord, the interdependency was inescapable. He couldn't do it alone. Well, he couldn't do ALL of it alone anyway.
The medallion felt extra warm in his hand. Purple water was never good. The last time he had seen purple it had been a hurricane. No, not good. Not good at all, he thought. Better follow it and see what's happened now. That's what it seemed to mean when you suddenly saw some wide swatch of color in the sea. Not that anyone had sent him any instructions on how or what a Pirate Lord did…. But he was always up for an adventure. Colors in the water always led you to something, he'd discovered, being the curious sort himself.
But purple? No, he had never seen good come of his suddenly seeing purple in the water.
"Not good. Not good at all." He had said out loud, earning a quizzical look a and raised eyebrow from Mr. Gibbs who had come up beside him.
"What'cha see, Jack?" the older sailor had asked, and the pirate captain shook his head, suddenly abandoning the railing.
"Purple." He had told the man as he headed for the wheel, giving only a glance as Gibbs made a face of dismay and shuddered slightly. By now even Gibbs knew purple was not what you ever hoped to find.
"We're taking a little detour, gents! Got us some color in the water I'm afraid! 18 degrees starboard, prepare to make full sail!" Jack shouted in his best 'voice of command' as he hurried up to the quarterdeck. Mr. Cotton nodded and stepped aside, the bright blue and yellow macaw parrot on his shoulder repeating Jack's words, and then suddenly flying off, down the length of the ship, crying out the words. Mr. Gibbs and a few others took up the cry as well and began shouting for lines and braces to be changed.
It wasn't more than a few hours before the crew and its' officers realized the change in course was leading them towards the island of Jamaica. That wasn't an island Captain Jack Sparrow usually headed towards at all…. One might even say he tended to rather avoid the place… But he sure was headed there now.
And then they had encountered the first swept-out-to-sea wreckage of the disaster.
Annamaria was no newcomer to the sight of death. Being a pirate, that was an occupational hazard she had been eye to eye with more than once. But seeing the bodies of men, women, and children had been sobering for them all. Or perhaps it was the ones they came upon that still lived, those lucky ones that had found floating wreckage to cling to. That had quickly given them all pause for thought. What on earth had happened to produce such a wide space of wreckage? So many bodies?
It was the first ones they had pulled up from the sea that had informed them of the disaster. In the time since, they had managed to collect quite a number of survivors who had been washed away and somehow managed not to drown.
153 of them to be exact.
To say the 168-foot-long ship had become a bit crowded was an understatement as deep as the sea herself. Even with her various decks, none of which was luxurious in vacant space, there just wasn't enough space to accommodate so many extra bodies in any measure of comfort. They were pirates after all, and it had been a good month for them… a very good month even! But, the crew hadn't so much as grumbled a word when asked by the Captain to lend their beds to the castaways. In fact, for the last 4 days, the vessel had taken on more the air of being a blessed haven for the forlorn and lost, rather than the infamous pirate ship she was.
More than one of the crew had been drawn into talking to the survivors, commiserating on their losses. Nights had become a time of telling legends and sea stories and sharing shanties, and more than one inexperienced hand could now tie a decent Bowman's knot. It had been a way to keep from thinking of the other things they had found floating in the water, as well as what they could imagine must await them in the town itself.
Annamaria gave a wry smile. It was no secret really that Captain Jack Sparrow of the Black Pearl was not exactly the most ruthless, bloodletting pirate in the world, but this was definitely outside even his normal definitions of 'being helpful' when it would be of profit to them, or part of his 'extracurricular duties', courtesy of Neptune himself. So far not a single one of the castaways had been relieved of so much as one ring or necklace. Nor had anyone been 'used' the way that could be expected upon most pirate ships.
But the Black Pearl was not most pirate ships, and her captain was fairly unique among pirates. Of that Anna had no doubts whatsoever as she watched said captain on the deck below. He had been squatting beside a 35ish or so year old woman who sat with a young boy in her lap. The boy was not her own, but it looked as if perhaps the lad would not be having to see the inside of an orphanage after all. Both of them were smiling warmly at the Captain as he rose, gave the boy's head a friendly tousle, and left them to come up to the quarterdeck at the rear of the ship where Anna stood at the helm.
"You're serious about us taking them right into Port Royal, ain't cha' Jack?" she asked unhappily and he nodded with a mild smile that revealed a flash of gold from a capped incisor.
"We can't exactly put them back in the water where we found them, now can we darlin'?" He countered with a vague gesture, waving one hand in the general direction of the ocean and she frowned at him.
"No, but it would be nice if we didn't have to go sailing right into the arms of that British Commodore who is so fond of trying to hang you. He'd just as soon hang the lot of us as soon as look at us and you know it, Jack." She observed darkly, and he nodded as he stared out over the crowded deck, one eyebrow arched sharply and fingers running down the length of the braided tips of his beard as he thought.
"Well - no we won't just go sailing in as if it were a picnic in the park, luv. Hopefully, the man is a bit distracted at the moment." He said, leaving off to shift his gaze to stare at the sea with a vaguely worried look as he chewed on his lower lip and she sighed silently.
"I'm sure they're alright Jack," she said very lowly, so only he could hear, and he glanced back at her for barely a second, then turned back to studying the view. How like the pirate captain to be concerned if his 'friends' in Port Royal were safe? Friends he had made on a rather unlikely and nearly impossible adventure a good three and a half years back. Friends he hadn't seen since although she knew he had received a letter or two from the town. Regular mail service such as normal folk enjoyed wasn't exactly a benefit of serving on a pirate ship, not even for its captain.
Did a few letters over three years' time even constitute a claim to friendship? That was the real question in her mind. That Commodore was awfully set on stretching Jack's neck and would just love to include the entire crew of the Pearl in on the fun as well. She liked her neck just fine as it was, thank you very much.