RED SKY

The kraken's great, crushing limbs outnumbered the crew of the Antigua horribly. They thrashed about, snatching up pirates this way and that, throwing them about. But still, the massive knot of tentacles held tight to the ship, pulling it down and ripping it in two right down the middle.. The ship gave a shudder and a jolt as the keel finally gave way to the biting, gnawing maw of the beast.

William Kidd sawed at one of the limbs, hacking away harshly. His muscles ached from the fight, from battling a mythological creature that could not be defeated by any means. But that didn't mean that William Kidd would just throw his hands up in surrender. He refused. William Kidd bowed to no man, no twist of fate, no beast. He hadn't submitted to illness, the British Navy, mutiny, the East India Trading Company, no man. The pirate captain would not give in to the even the Devil himself, not so long as he still drew breath.

The ship quaked as the kraken tore the hull apart, into two halves. The beast's great mouth came up from beneath the waters, spewing and spitting salt water in a spray. The crew were taken back by the god-awful stench of years of decaying flesh in those teeth. William Kidd, however, seemed taken aback by the sheer volume of teeth, jagged and pointing in row after row, ringing around an octopus like beak. They had probably been pearly white at one point, but each fang seemed stained by thousands and thousands of grisly meals. The mouth had to be at least twenty to thirty feet across and just jam packed with those awful teeth.

William Kidd slammed one last stroke through the limb before him, cleaving through the bone finally and severing the damned thing. The kraken screamed in rage and pain, an ear-splitting shriek that pierced the air. His crew covered their ears, but William Kidd refused to show any weakness or hesitation. The limb quivered for a moment as nerve ending died before snapping back and swatting viciously at Kidd. The pirate captain was throw off his balance, as another swinging limb grabbed him from behind. The pirate captain spun about, trying to free himself, but the suction cups, as large as dinner plates, hung tight. The tentacle curled around him and squeezed hard.

"Cap'n!" Jones cried out.

Kidd had never been more horrified to see the cabin boy running towards him, barely strong enough to hold up a sword. The captain had a soft spot for Jones, teaching him the skills of their trade. Jones had run away from home as a child, stowing away on the ship and daring to raise a hand against William Kidd when the crew almost threw him overboard as a punishment for trespassing on their vessel. However, their captain saw potential and took Jones on as a cabin boy, looking on him as a protege. Jones's trust in his captain had never faltered.

Kidd shook his head, still trying to cut at the beast that held him. "Get back!"

But, even if Jones had been able to really do anything, it wouldn't have mattered. The kraken swung its arm up, hauling Kidd into the air, kicking and fighting. And, then, down and down the tentacle plunged, right to the mouth of the beast. William Kidd could not help but think one, last coherent thought before that mouth roared, opening wide for a meal. That thought echoed in his heart and mind.

"Today is a good day to die."

xxxx

Will took his chance then, lunging, charging at Davy Jones, turning his shoulder down and running at full speed. When he slammed into the hulking, undead captain, the blacksmith felt a crack in his bones, like a creaking and snapping all at the same time. Still, he kept on driving with his charge, hurtling down now. Davy Jones was knocked off balance, and the two came crashing down, riding out gravity and inertia as they rolled downhill.

As the pair rolled, falling and sliding down the steep incline, each boulder and root seemed to rise up to strike at them, but Will Turner had come to desperate measures. He couldn't care anymore, not anymore. All that mattered was Elizabeth, his Elizabeth, his beautiful fiance and the love of his life. If Will had to give his own life to save hers, to save her through any means, he would gladly gift wrap it complete with a bow. They'd come this far, given so much. Will punched out, stabbing as they fell, and found himself rewarded with a warm splash of blood from Davy Jones.

But a little thing like a stab wound would never stop the cursed captain. He'd cut out his own heart with his own hands. How could Will have ever hoped to cut down Davy Jones with his own, mortal hands? The captain just laughed, as though Will had done nothing more than to tickle his foe. That hand of tentacles reached up, grabbing the blacksmith by his neck. Davy Jones slammed his clawed hand outward, into the earth and stopping their fall in a heartbeat.

Davy Jones sneered. "No man can best the Devil. Not Jack Sparrow, and certainly not you."

Davy Jones squeezed so hard, Will almost thought his head would pop right off his neck like a grape off the vine. The captain wanted to see his death, wanted nothing more than to see the life drain out of Will Turner's face. The whelp had been a thorn in his side for too long. It had been Will Turner who gave Jack Sparrow the opportunity to steal the key and take his heart from its place. Jack may have started this all, but that didn't mean the undead pirate wouldn't take the most sinful of delights in killing this boy.

"Ye should have just stayed on my crew. Would have saved ye all this trouble."

But Will knew he would never give in, not ever.

xxxx

"I'm coming, Jack!"

Elizabeth took a deep breath before plunging under the water. She swam in the pool, sweeping back and forth and running her hands over the stone bottom. The entire thing seemed solid as the rock around. There were no openings, no pits, no cracks or crags. Nothing. Just a flat, smoothly worn slab of stone. There were no bodies, no trinkets, nor any sign of them. The noblewoman held her breath until her lungs burnt and ached before surfacing again.

The girls had all stepped forward, approaching the edge of the pool fearful. Their eyes were round and wide. They seemed horrified and repulsed, yet attracted like magnets to the pool. Elizabeth looked to them in confusion.

"Can't anyone help me?" the woman begged. "I've got to find them. I have to find Jack. I have to save him!"

The girls shook their head; one replied. "Only our lady, and she is lost."

xxxx

Having devoured the captain of the Antigua and destroyed the great ship, the kraken turned its attention now to El Cazador. Gibbs had watched the entire thing, still reloading, aiming, firing, and reloading again and again, still firing on the limb that had taken Kidd down to that awful mouth. But, now, the monster let loose its hold of the ruined ship, diving down under the water. As shadow passed beneath them as it took its place below.

Mr. Cotton's parrot cried out in a shrill call. "Don't eat me! Don't eat me!"

Gibbs looked about to the tired, weary faces of the crew. Without Jack, Will, Barbosa, or even Elizabeth, the entire crew seemed lost and confused amid all the anarchy of the battle. They were without a captain, and chaos reigned supreme in place of a steady leader. They were doomed before the kraken even took hold.

He nodded to himself, knowing what had to be done. "ABANDON SHIP AND MAKE FOR SHORE!"

xxxxx

Thump-thump.

They fell together, the three of them. Captain Jack Sparrow. Sygne. And Lord Cutler Beckett. The waters about them were warm and welcoming, pulling them down, all three of them. Hands reached out, grabbing them, dragging at them. They were pulled down through the waters of the well, down to the depths. They were being hauled below to the sunless lands.

Thump-thump.

Jack Sparrow, who could not see in life, could see then. He saw his own life flaring up around them, his foolish, wasted life. Jack Sparrow was born of Teague, as Jack Teague, son of a great pirate. But his mother gave that all up and took her own unique name, cutting himself away from his nonexistent father. She often told Jack that she and he were like birds, migrating to escape the cold death of winter for a more favorable climate. The woman did love the twittering little birds, taking up their name and disowning her own husband. They left the old world for the Caribbean, but the British Royal Navy took down their ship, mistaking it for a pirate vessel when colors were not run swiftly enough. Jack Sparrow had been the only survivor, and they apologized heartily for it, offering anything he could ever want and instead granting him only slavery to an adopted family. Jack Sparrow's childhood wasted away by circumstance and emotion.

Thump-thump.

However, his mother had often told Jack that sparrows were special birds. They were tiny and fragile seeming, but they were among the most hardy of creatures in the world. Sparrows could be beaten back, hunted, shot, and killed, but their numbers would never dwindle.

Thump-thump.

Jack ran away, escaping all that for the freedom of the seas, valuing that above all else. His hatred of the Navy turned him to piracy, and his childhood poverty as an orphan served only to fuel his lust for riches. Jack squandered most of his adulthood on women, rum, and money, right up until Elizabeth shackled him to the mast of the Black Pearl before the kraken hauled it down. Jack Sparrow had never once given back to anything in that world that seemed dead set to destroy him by any means.

Thump-thump.

At least, not until her. Elizabeth Swann. He'd given his own life for her and William Turner, the lovers and somehow a part of his family. The pirate cursed himself to save them, gave his blood for them. Or, was it really for the Pearl, to get his ship back for himself?

Thump-thump.

Jack closed his eyes, suddenly preferring his handicap in life to this sight in death. The heart kept on beating, throbbing in his ears. The heart of Davy Jones seemed a constant reminder of his sins, his crimes that brought them to this. Had it not been for Jack Sparrow, the heart could have remained buried on the island, safe and sound. Had the pirate captain just accepted his fate and let the Devil take him as he'd promised, none of this had to happen.

Thump-thump.

"Jack!" Elizabeth was screaming for him, but she was somewhere distant, foggy almost, far away and distant seeming.

Thump-thump.

And, then, Jack saw his own death, again, for this third time of his, falling from the cliffs. Perhaps, if the pirate had been able to see, had known just how far up they'd been, he wouldn't have told Sygne to let go of the cliff wall. But, it had to happen. All of it had to happen in order to stop this insanity. The pirate closed his eyes, knowing that, with his death, came hers.

Thump-thump.

There were screams all around him, screams of horror and terror. Jack opened his eyes again, seeing Sygne. She wasn't dressed in her ceremonial furs and golden mask. No. Her hair wasn't white and perfectly straight, but a dark chocolate, almost black, and in thick, waving curls. She looked sweet and fresh, with a certain color to her cheeks that Jack had never seen. Sygne had always seemed tanned and coppered under the sun. No, there, she looked pale, like fresh cream, with a flush to her cheeks. There were no tiger stripes, no tattoos or markings of the goddess, Hel. She was running, her long skirts catching between her legs.

Thump-thump.

Sygne fell to the ground. She turned on her back, crawling her way back, away from whatever was chasing her. The woman panted, obviously terrified. Sygne cried, sobbing as she tried desperately to get away. But a dark form was upon her in a heart beat. A man. He beat her, slugging her and brutalizing her.

Thump-thump.

Jack closed his eyes, not wanting to watch anymore, but all he saw was her suffering. He could still hear, hear the sounds of her violation. It was awful, to the point that the pirate almost wanted to vomit.

Thump-thump.

And, then, there was silence.

It seemed a pure, primordial thing, as though this was the silence of eternity, spreading out among them in a never ending growth and flourish. Death. Jack had seen the afterlife once before, the peace, the nothingness, but he never remembered it, not one lick of it. This was a new experience to him.

And, then, the three of them came through on the other side.

xxxx

The flames had caught up with them, racing around them. Smoke swirled in the air about them, black and choking. Sparks flickered and snapped, caught up on the breeze and scattered about. Those fires engulfed the entire face of the island, almost up to what little remained of Hel's keep, of her fortress at the very pinnacle of that rock. Yet, that wasn't important now.

Will felt the world spin around him as his brain starved for oxygen under Davy Jones's crushing tentacles. His vision swam as small, black, mercurial balls danced across his eyes.

But the blacksmith would not be killed. No. He wouldn't allow it. Will reached across the ground feeling for something, anything that could be used as a weapon. At first, his desperate search yielded nothing but small twigs and leaves. Then, his long fingers caught upon something in the muck and mud. A rock. It wasn't large, perhaps only the size of an orange or small grapefruit, but it fit perfectly within Will's grasp. The blacksmith took it and held tight before slamming it harshly into Davy Jones's skull to try to throw the captain from off of him.

But, when Davy Jones landed, he started to shimmer slightly, with a strange, almost watery quality. He didn't seem to notice, not until he saw the look on Will's face. The younger man must have had a look of pure shock and confusion.

"What did ye do?" The undead captain demanded.

"Will!" Bootstrap Bill called from above.

But, as Will looked up, even he seemed to have an odd look about his entire body; the blacksmith furrowed his eyebrows. "Father?"

Davy Jones growled like a great, feral cat, leaping at the younger Turner. Will raised his arms to fight, to wrestle again on the ground when they fell, but it never came to that. The undead captain passed right through him, washing over him like nothing more than a bad dream. Will turned on his heel to see the cursed captain just standing there, staring at his hands as they faded. The young man's vision jumped back and forth between his father and the captain, but they had both become gossamer and see through, just a faint haze on the land.

Bootstrap Bill's face softened, but Jones bellowed. "What's happened?"

"Don't ye see, Cap'n?" Bill replied, shrugging his shoulders as the corals, barnacles and starfish just dropped from his body and his face, leaving him human again. "They did it."

Davy Jones shook his head, shaking off those long tentacles and that grisly visage of his, revealing a tall man with a great, bushy beard, a human face that hadn't been seen in some centuries. "No. They couldn't have."

But the two were still fading away to nothingness, almost gone now. "They did."

"Father..." Will breathed, suddenly afraid.

Bill turned and said something, smiling softly and serenely. However, it was just too late. They were gone, faded away. Davy Jones seemed to still be fit to be tied still, shouting and screaming in an unheard commotion. Yet Bill, in those last few seconds, seemed utterly calm and at peace with whatever had just happened.

Will shook his head. "They did it. Somehow... they got the heart."

xxxx

The world dawned about them, pure and beautiful. They were kneeling, somehow, on a calm lagoon, as corals flared to life beneath them. Great plates and stag horns in vibrant colors spread swiftly, as the reef grew and fish darted between the new corals. It was all too perfect, all too serene, a utopia of sorts. The sun shone down brighter than it ever had in Jack's life. The shore just beyond looked more verdant and lush than any other island, even more-so than Hel's island. It seemed a paradise on earth, and, yet, the pirate felt he'd been there before, almost as a home or something he couldn't place. And, there, they knelt.

Jack Sparrow. Pirate captain of the Black Pearl.

Sygne. Warrior for the goddess Hel.

And Lord Cutler Beckett, head of the East India Trading Company and would-be ruler of the Caribbean in general.

And, then, there was Hel. She stood there, before them, in her flowing white robes, looking more and more angelic by the moment. Light of the sun cascaded down upon her. The goddess's body seemed to radiate its own pure, inner light, as though a divine light from within. She smiled upon them.

"Count carefully the souls and see that none are lost," Hel spoke softly yet with authority, almost maternally. "That has been my task, and will always be my task."

Sygne bowed her head low but said not a word. When Jack looked to her, the warrior's face said it all. It spoke of untold sorrow at the death of her kin. Her eyes held the whispers of defeat and loss, the failure of her charge. Sygne had failed her goddess, bringing death to the island around them. The warrior could not bring herself to look to her lady, even as Hel leaned close to kiss her gently, maternally upon the forehead. Sygne stilled, as if finding a deep peace, and faded away, flickering out of existence.

"What is this?" Beckett demanded bitterly.

Hel stepped before him, her eyes looking right through him, right down to the soul. "You are not one of my charges. But I do think I have a place for you."

Beckett faded away, screaming and yelling the entire time, but even that was gone in but a moment. Hel had claimed his soul and his afterlife, drawing him into her embrace and into the sunless lands, from which there is no return. Lord Cutler Beckett was gone and away, but the heart remained. It floated there, still beating, still alive and as fresh as the day it last lingered in the chest of Davy Jones.

Hel took the heart up in her pale hands, turning her attention to Jack Sparrow. Orange bands flickered to life on him, on any place not marked by his own tattoos. They glowed, like hot brands without any heat or pain, before settling into ebony tiger stripes. They were the stripes of the warriors for Hel, the markings of her kin.

"This heart, has been a contradiction for so long, Jack Sparrow. My task has always been to claim and shepherd the souls of the dead to their rightful end. I created this-" Hel held up the lump of still beating flesh, as a repulsed grimace flashed through her features before receding and leaving but peace and tranquility there on her face "-abomination, in some hopes of a ferryman, an extension of myself and my task. Yet Davy Jones corrupted the gift of immortality by his fears and humanity, while your humanity brought this to an end."

Jack looked down, remorsefully, dwelling on the thought of Sygne. "I failed ye. It was by luck and Sygne alone that the heart got her. She brought me, dragged me sorry carcass most of t' way."

Hel nodded slowly. "Yes, but the journey is not about victory always. You gave your life, telling her to let go, when she could not. You gave your ship, your crew, your sight, and your life." The goddess held the heart out, studying it for a moment. "I could restore your life if you wanted, as compensation for this great deed of yours, but I can never return to that world."

Sparrow looked down. "I'd be much obliged, but I d'nay think I could accept."

"Why?" The goddess inquired softly. "Because of your lust for revenge against Elizabeth Swann?"

"S'not that. Don't get me wrong. Miss Swann an' I have a score to settle." The pirate shook his head. "Wouldn't feel right. Me being alive an' Sygne bein' dead." Jack sighed. "It'd feel a right sin to go back if ye couldn't restore everything and set all the wrongs right."

"I'm afraid I do not have enough energy left within me to restore everything."

Jack closed his eyes. "Then, do what ye will with me."

He felt her lips upon his forehead, an oddly familiar sensation. Jack Sparrow had known Hel before, much as any other person did. She was his mother. She was his sister. She was his friend. Hel had walked beside him his whole life, from the moment he was born, waiting for him, to all the times he'd died, waiting for him again. Hel had been there for all men.

And, then, the heart stopped, along with the world.

xxxx

The kraken melted away to nothingness, returning to the dark and dangerous dreams of a man gone mad and leaving only the carnage in its wake. Gibbs and the former crews of both El Cazador and the Anitgua stood on the pure, snowy white sand of Hel's island, watching in awe. The sloop, no longer held and weighted by the mighty beast, bopped up in the water light as a cork.

The pirates, what little remained, whooped and hollered, dancing about the beach. And why not? The beast was dead it seemed. But Gibbs had seen victory turn to disaster too quickly.

A head bobbed up in the water, splashing as it surfaced. Gibbs put his hand to his eyes, trying to see who it was. And, in a strange change of luck for them, he spied none other than William Kidd, kicking his way ashore. So startled, so shocked, was Gibbs, that the mate just stood there in awe as his fellow pirate swam ashore and threw himself on the sand.

Gibbs finally stumbled towards him, asking, "So, what happened to ye?"

"Eaten," Kidd replied, still panting.

Gibbs looked out to the still waters to the ruined Antigua, Herald Mark, and El Cazador. "Did ye kill it, 'en?" His eyes frantically scanned the horizon and the waters about the island. "Is it gone... fer real?"

William Kidd laughed, shaking his head. "I have no idea."

xxxx

A/N: I really have no excuses for a year to two year wait for more Red Sky. I got all distracted by life, the universe and everything and forgot to finish a few of my favorite stories, never realizing how much of a limbo I left the characters I'd come to love in until I started to rewrite Lucky Thirteen and all the associated stories with it. I suddenly felt bad for the characters. At least Lucky Thirteen had been left in a lull where all the characters were safe and relatively unscathed. When I reread Red Sky recently, I felt like I was sitting at the cliffhanger, too, with chapters just sitting on my hard drive.

So, for you few who might still be reading, may I present this chapter and the three preceding it with the hopes that I might eventually finish Red Sky

But, oh, what about Lizzy, Jack, Will, Sygne, and Barbosa? What does it all mean? Is it really and truly all over?

You'll have to sit tight and wait.