I had way too much fun with this. Jack gets a cat. Or a cat gets Jack. Take your pick.

Rating: K+

Cast: Jack, Anamaria, Gibbs, Marty, and crew

Disclaimer: My cat is going to get that mouse.

Cat O'Nine Tails
By Honorat Selonnet

"There are rats in the Pearl's hold," Captain Jack Sparrow complained. He was holding up a slightly gnawed chunk of hardtack. Waving it about wildly, he addressed his loyal crew, at that time represented by Gibbs and Anamaria.

"There are always rats in ship's holds," Anamaria pointed out.

"S good luck," Gibbs added. "Means the ship ain't sinking."

"My Pearl is not to be nibbled at by pestilential rodents," the Captain overrode them—a familiar occurrence. "We shall be commandeering a cat when we reach Tortuga."

Anamaria and Gibbs exchanged harassed glances. Some days the Black Pearl was the biggest pirate threat in the Caribbean. Other days they were the largest floating circus. Today was looking like it would be one of the latter.

For once the watch was not jealous as their shipmates went ashore. "Bring me a cat!" the Captain had ordered. "One that is a match for those bloody rats in my hold."

"I'd like to find one that was a match for the bloody bats in his belfry!" Anamaria muttered to Gibbs. She'd drawn the short straw and was in the shore leave party. Gibbs was odiously self-satisfied, trusting that all disagreeable cat-hunting would be complete by the time his watch was due to hit the town.

Jack was enjoying himself as much as was possible on land. Coming out of the Faithful Bride already fairly well flown, he had snagged a leafy packet of some sort of chicken in a spicy sauce from a street vendor, a half-full bottle of rum from an unconscious drunk, and a buxom lass from a street brawl. Granted, the spice on the chicken was necessary to cover the fact that that had been one old and athletic bird. But bad food pirated was always better than good food paid for. And anything was better than the ship rations at the end of an extended voyage.

Having found a secluded cranny with a collection of barrels to serve as table and chairs, Jack was enjoying his pilfered meal, feeding little bits of chicken to his companion in a manner that boded well for the entertainment later that evening, when he noticed that the chicken was disappearing at a rate that was unaccounted for by their leisurely nibbling. Since rum was already well-involved in the evening's activities, he wasn't prepared to jump to any conclusions, but he switched from ogling his fair—well fair to middling—lady's manifest charms to staring suspiciously at the packet of chicken.

His vigilance was rewarded when he saw a black paw appear over the edge of the barrel, white claws extended, and snatch another piece of his meal. "Hey, you!" the Captain exclaimed indignantly, shaking his finger at the vanished paw. "That doesn't belong to you!" It didn't belong to him either but that was beside the point. Peering over the side of the barrel, Jack at first couldn't see anything. He could hear something devouring the chicken, but it seemed to be invisible. A cursed chicken thief? Suddenly, a set of yellow eyes with iridescent pupils glared up at him. A cat! A black cat had stolen his chicken! "Bloody pirate!" Jack accused.

Wait a minute! A slow glinting smile spread over his face. He was in the market for a cat and here was one that was already a pirate. A black cat for the Black Pearl. Perfect! His attention now completely reassigned to shanghaiing this new crew member, he didn't notice his evening's entertainment departing with the rest of the chicken and a bloke she deemed more likely to drop his blunt her way. Drawing his pistol, Jack aimed at the barrel and ordered, "Come out of there ye scurvy varmint. Ye'll be going aboard the most fearsome pirate ship in the Spanish Main—in the whole world!" he corrected.

No scurvy varmint appeared.

Grumbling to himself, Captain Jack reached down into the dark space and seized a handful of black fur. The handful exploded. As he drew out the enraged creature, he found he had hold of a mangy, flea bitten, ear-torn, crook-tailed stray. The cat was really only half grown, but it fought like a tiger, snarling and hissing. Jack was ready to swear the animal turned itself inside out as it sank its fangs into his thumb. "Ouch! You thrice-damned cat!" The creature had actually bitten him—Captain Jack Sparrow! What a great cat for the Pearl! Jack set out for the docks, carrying the Cat of Doom who was violently engaging all its pointy parts in shredding his arm. "Now mate," Jack warned it through gritted teeth. "You're gonna have to learn more respect for the captain of your ship, savvy?"

Down at the docks, Anamaria was frowning at the motley collection of cats the crew had dragged back. Duncan had acquired two kittens, both of which were smaller than the rats they were supposed to be hunting. Moises had chosen the path of least resistance and was hauling an elderly tabby cat, roughly spherical, completely asleep. And Marty!
Anamaria stalked over to Marty and grabbed him by the front of his shirt. "What," she jabbed an impatient finger, "in the bloody blue blazes is that?"

"It's a cat, Anamaria," the little man informed her unperturbed in spite of the fact that he could now barely touch the ground. Anamaria raised her hand to slap him, but he was already twisting out of her grip.

"Of course I know what a cat looks like you bloody fool!" the First Mate hollered. "What I want to know is what maggot possessed you to bring a cat like that? You try to give the captain that and you're gonna be marooned on the nearest island so fast you won't know what hit you."

"Hey," Marty was offended. "It's a valuable cat. I lifted it from the governor's mansion."

Anamaria's lip curled in scorn. Her voice was menacing as she leaned over him, and Marty backed up. "It's white, Marty. White! And it's . . . fluffy. Marty, this is the Black Pearl we're talking about here. The best pirate ship in the Caribbean. Commanded by THE Captain Jack Sparrow. Savvy? We are not taking on anything that is fluffy and white!"

"I don't know, Anamaria," Marty stroked the cat in his arms. "He seems rather nice."

"Nice! Nice?" Anamaria rolled her eyes. "We're pirates, Marty. We don't do nice. We need something like . . ." her eyes caught sight of the returning Jack Sparrow. One of his arms seemed to be attached to a fizzing, spitting, furry, black hand grenade. "Something like that!" she pointed triumphantly. Good. Jack had found his own cat. And it looked like one after his own black heart.

"Hey there everybody!" the Captain called. "Meet Cat o'Nine Tails, our new ship's cat. Came straight out of hell and stole the devil's own temper." He held up the beast victoriously on a bloody arm.

Anamaria noted that the cat was female. Well. It would be good to have another woman aboard. Particularly one who seemed determined to cause the Captain a lot of pain.

She glanced at Marty still holding the white cat. "If it's so valuable, try selling it or ransoming it or something."

He looked resigned. "Shall I collect some sand, Anamaria?"

"Whatever for?" she asked.

"Cat latrine." He grinned at her horrified expression.

"By all means, Marty."

As Jack gained the deck of the Pearl, he met his disapproving quartermaster. "No, no, no, Captain," Gibbs shook his head in warning. "It's frightful bad luck to have a black cat aboard a ship!"

"Mr. Gibbs," said the Captain acerbically, waving his hands and the kicking cat about and spattering the deck with little drops of blood. "This is the Black Pearl. We are a black ship with black sails, full of bloodthirsty pirates! We do not have bad luck. We are bad luck! Savvy?"

He dropped his hand to the deck and let go of the cat. Instantly it shot to the mainmast, and before you could say "Fanny's your aunt," was perched on the topsail yard, glaring down at the crew.

"Well now," said Captain Jack. "I think I could use a little rum." He shook his clawed-up arm and winced. "Oww! Oh and somebody get that cat some fish."

Jack, his arm doused in rum, poulticed, and wrapped, watched complacently as Cat o'Nine Tails tore at the fish, growling and purring and eyeing him suspiciously. He was going to enjoy introducing some Navy discipline on the Pearl. Now he could order some scabrous miscreant to 10 of the cat o'nine and mean that the sorry bastard had to clean the cat's sand for the next ten days. And catch fish for it. Captain Jack Sparrow smiled. The crew looked nervous. They'd seen that smile before.