A/N: YOU THOUGHT I WAS DEAD, DIDN'T YOU?! WELL I'M NOT!! Sorry, life has been busy, what with school and college applications and depression. Bravy keeps me alive! Just to let you know, I'm still working on all my stories...they just may take a LONG time.

Chapter XVI

Broken Chains

Bree lay curled in her customary corner, head tucked into the curve of her body. Thomas sat near the bars of the cell, his head in his hands. He and the other men were scheduled to die at dawn. Bree would be left alone, alone to face whatever Beckett would dream up.

Bree seemed to sense Thomas' feelings. Without even raising her head, she spoke, "Thomas…Davy's comin'. I swear."

"I'm afeared he'll be too late," Thomas said in a monotone voice, not even looking at her. He simply stared out of the bars. Then his eyes caught sight of movement. One of the guards perhaps? No…

A man entered the corridor. He was a man the likes of which Thomas had never seen. His skin was an unnatural shade of grey, his hair a brown-smeared black. He turned to the cell door, smiling at Thomas. He came closer to the bars, whispering, "Thomas Fletcher, I presume?"

"Aye…" Thomas said, dumbstruck. Who was this man? He hadn't seen him in the compound or anywhere else.

"Is there a girl with you? Her name is Bree."

"Aye, she's right there…" Thomas pointed dumbly, unsure of what to think.

"Excellent." The man smiled, looking through the bars past Thomas at the dejected form of the girl. He called softly, "Miss Bree!"

Bree made a grunting noise, not raising her head. When the man called again, she snorted bad-temperedly, straightening and turning her eyes to the cell door. Her face showed the same expression as that of Thomas'.

"Who're ye?"

"My name isn't one you would know," the man answered, drawing something from the inside of his jerkin, "But I do have a message from a man whose name you know quite well. Davy Jones."

Bree's eyes grew wide, and her mouth opened in a half moon, no doubt to shout out something in a triumphant tone, but the man placed a finger to his lips, "Say nothing, maid. Secrecy is a matter of the utmost importance as of now. I was sent to give you this and a message."

Bree stood shakily, going to the bars. The man reached through, placing something in her hand, "Your captain asked me to tell you that by tomorrow morning you should be free…" He looked to Thomas and the other men in the cell, who were all slumbering heavily, "He knows nothing of these men, but my master and I do. We'll do all we can to free you all." He withdrew his hand, and then turned, vanishing silently around a corner of the corridor.

Bree sat down heavily, her eyes wide and her face pale. But her mouth was still curved up in that smile. She looked down at the object in her hand. Her smile grew bigger.

"Bootstrap's dagger…"

Will an' Elizabeth are comin' too! Are they all comin'?

She couldn't help a humorous thought.

Makes a person feel loved, don't it?

Orrin breathed deep the sea air. In a few hours there would be bitter bloodshed. Strange that it was so peaceful, with the sunset so beautiful across the waves.

Ròn Ghlas Mòr had reported to him. Bree had been alerted to the plan, and she would be ready. Orrin smiled. Everything was going to plan. Jones had been constantly complaining about the fact that he could not go on land due to the curse. He had desperately wanted into the fight. Well, Orrin had a surprise in store for Jones. He smiled even more.

We're coming, Broadsword Bree…everything will be as it should be.

And as he thought this, his thoughts turned to Caylie, Jones' niece. He had been plagued by these unfamiliar feelings. He didn't understand them. But he did not attempt to deny them anymore. The only thing he struggled with now was whether he should act on them. He had never been in love before. It was, in a way, against the rules of sea powers. But he couldn't hold these feelings back forever. Caylie might even accept him. Why couldn't he ask?

After all this is over.

Bootstrap stood on the quarterdeck of the Dutchman. They were watching all the men lining up in ranks on the shore in the emerging moonlight, half of the Dutchman crewmen and men from the Bloodmast and the Dawning. The men on the Pearl were staying aboard with Jack to man her, as she had more work to do that required them to man her. The Dawning, under command of William for the present, and the Bloodmast, under the partner command of Elizabeth and Annamaria, were also to play a key role.

Jones stood sullenly at the railing of his ship. He was seething with envy. Paul, Flagg, Lillian, Caylie, and Barbossa were all going ashore to fight. He wanted to be the first to storm the fortress!

Suddenly, he found Orrin beside him. He snorted at him in an effort to acknowledge him and express his frustration at the same time. Orrin spoke with concealed happiness, "Sir, I suppose you want to go ashore?"

"Ha, what gave ye that idea?" he snarled, not even looking at the Kelpie. The handsome young sea god smiled broader, and when Jones turned, he saw that Orrin had transformed into his horse form. But he was larger than he had been last time.

"Your mount awaits, Captain Jones."

Jones stared in dumb fascination. Orrin explained, shaking his mane, "There is no rule that says you can't ride above land, is there?"

Jones stared at Orrin, then smiled. He patted the horse heartily on the flank with his good hand, "Ye're a good lad, Orrin!"

Caylie stood ashore, her excitement bubbling over into the jitters. She hopped from foot to foot, sheathing and partially unsheathing her sword every few minutes. This was it…the plan was going into action.

She was standing a few ranks behind Clanker. He turned slightly, giving her a secretive smile. She returned it.

Then she turned her attention to the figure coming down the gangplank of the Dutchman. It was evening dark, but she could still see it clearly. She could have laughed out loud. Jones was sitting astride Orrin's back. It was almost comical, but yet so noble. Jones showed no difficulty in keeping his seat. He was a strong man and was able to keep his balance easily. He didn't have to worry about leading, as Orrin knew exactly what to do. And though Jones was a big man, Orrin was a bigger horse. They both looked strangely majestic when put together.

As Orrin passed Caylie, she reached out, stroking his neck. He paused, looking back at her. She smiled, kissing him between the eyes and whispering, "Ye have my thanks, Orrin. Ye've made 'im so happy!"

Orrin gave her a smile, as much as a horse can, and whispered back, "A great accomplishment for anybody, I'd say!"

Caylie giggled and kissed his brow again. He blew a comforting breath on her cheek before moving on, his gait slightly springier than it had been.

"C'mon, Bree! Try it again!"

"Are they comin', Tully?"

Tully, a broad shouldered old sailor with a slanted eye turned, winking his good eye at her, "Naw, Miss Bree…ye keep on turnin'."

Bree nodded, fitting the strong blade of Bootstrap's dagger into the lock. She turned, twisted, levered and pulled…just a little more…

"Hellfire…c'mon, me darlin' liddle lock…turn for me…c'mon…" she pleaded with the lock, grunting as she gave one swift snap. A beautiful click, and she gave a large smile. Murmurs of excitement came from the men, who were all crowded eagerly behind her. She removed the dagger, drew her arms back inside the cell and turned to the men, shushing them, "Quiet, mates…we ain't free yet."

"C'mon, lass! What're we waitin' for?"

"For Davy," Bree answered firmly, "He's gotta plan. We cain't do nothin' without 'im. 'Sides, we ain't got weapons."

A smaller statured sailor by the name of Crutcher perched behind the bars alongside her, his eyes squinting at her, "Ye've said some crazy things, Miss Bree…but I think we're all willin' to believe anythin' to get outta here afore dawn." Murmurs of agreement followed this statement. Thomas shouldered past him, "Bree, the armory's 'bout a stone's throw away once ye git out to the parade ground…if one of us could sneak out an' bring back a few blades-"

"Naw, too risky, mate," Tully cut him off, "The guards may be sluggish on th' draw, but they ain't as stupid as that."

Crutcher shouldered the length of chain which Bree had freed him from with Bootstrap's dagger, "We've got these. That's somethin'."

Bree, still crouched near the cell door, was peering down the corridor. She gave a quick, "Hist!" and all fell silent. They waited with bated breath as a figure rounded the corner. Bree and Thomas recognized the form of Ròn Ghlas Mòr.

The Kelpie's first lieutenant approached the cell door, once again signing to Bree and Thomas to remain silent. Without a word, he reached through the bars, handing something wrapped in parchment cloth to Thomas, who accepted it eagerly. He then mouthed, "Until dawn," and withdrew from the corridor, back to his master.

Bree watched keenly as Thomas revealed the wrapped item. He smiled as he drew out something that looked like a large fishing hook. That was exactly what it was, only it was attached to a long cord and had a bound handle. He fit it lovingly to his palm, stroking the curved point.

Bree's curiosity caused him to turn, smiling as he explained, "Your friend's a magician! This is me old hook! I'm known as a formidable hook fighter, y'know. Never lost a fight with this beauty!" He kissed the hook fondly, grinning at Bree, whose eyes were filled with astonished wonder. She had never run across a hook fighter before. It would be interesting to see him in combat.

And combat was imminent, and well looked forward to.

The Dutchman, crewed by the remainder of the men who had not gone ashore, rounded the island's small jutting horn and appeared in full view of the fortress. No element of surprise from the Dutchman. They wanted to be seen. And in a short time, the cry had been raised in the ramparts, and men were readying the cannons at the battery…only to find them spiked, Bree's earlier efforts giving an unexpected boost to the Dutchman's performance. Several men were killed in the explosions, and Norrington, inwardly hoping for the Dutchman's victory, purposefully stalled.

Several disastrous explosions from the spiked guns killed several of the marines at the walls. But the rest were all ready and began to fire warning shots at the Dutchman. Beckett's orders were not to fire directly at her. After all, it would have been a futile enterprise, and Beckett wanted to bargain…because he knew Jones would as well.

A white flag of truce was seen flapping at the Dutchman's topmast. Beckett, now at the ramparts, had planned to send some dispensable men to the Dutchman to work out terms…just in case Jones tried any treachery. But he doubted the great sea captain would risk it, if those tales of his devotion to the girl were true. Thus he was so confident, and eager to prove his courage to the men under his command, that he chose to accompany them…armed with a brace of pistols and leaving strict orders to his men that, should Jones try treachery, they were to place Bree in a solid gibbet, seal the hinges, and take it farther inland. A sure end if ever there was one.

Bootstrap stood at the bow rail, watching as the longboat approached. The men aboard were bristling with arms. Good show of faith.

Oglivey, watching from the stern rail, called out, "Aye, here they come! All ready?"

Maccus, who had been hoping to go ashore to join the fight, was stationed on the Dutchman to keep order and stand in for Jones. He nodded, smiling grimly, "Like sheep t' the slaughter, eh? We'll play along wi' their game."

Caylie crouched down close to the wall, her sword held loosely in her hand. She was breathing heavily, excitement causing her heart to pound. She wasn't nervous at all. She was a competent fighter and a formidable opponent even for a seasoned marine or sailor, but the adrenaline of the expectation of a fight always made her a bit fidgety.

Orrin, his horse form standing out like sea foam against the fortress wall, felt Jones' movement as he drew his sword in preparation. Orrin squared his own shoulders, flicking his mane slightly. Ròn, slightly ahead, was marking out an area of the wall. If a ship's cannon blasted away the stone several hundred yards away from this spot, an entrance right behind the barracks would be made, and the force could charge in, taking all the fighting men by surprise. One third could handle the men on duty, another third the men in the barracks, and the other third would head for the prison cells. Ròn had given Bree Bootstrap's dagger. She would most likely break out as soon as she heard the war cry of the invading force, and the prisoners would hurry out to meet them, and they would need help getting past guards.

Jones, gripping his sword tightly in his good hand, scanned the force before him. There was Caylie, her sword flashing dully. He couldn't help a smile of fondness. She was a true fighter, that one. But then he saw her gaze shifting from the wall to a figure behind. Clanker noticed her gaze, and returned it.

Jones could read everything in that exchange. He shook his head slightly. No, he still couldn't see it…and he really didn't approve, even if Clanker was a decent man. His niece was the closest he had to a daughter, and like a father, he was unwilling to give her up to a man he thought unworthy of her.

If that was what it was like to be a parent, he wondered if he and Bree (once they got her back, and they would) should even attempt to have children. He couldn't help but chuckle at the idea of himself as a father.

It would never work…

"Your captain…I'm sure he knows what I came for. Does he not deem this important enough to handle personally?"

"Sir," Maccus affected the air of a cowed man, despite his inner contempt and cold amusement toward the puny figure of Beckett, "Sir, wi' respect, Cap'n Jones was unwillin' to…he didn't want to…" He convincingly donned the face of a man searching madly for a way to cover up an embarrassment.

Beckett smiled cruelly, "Ah, he was too humiliated to face me? Of course, I should have known. But no matter, we'll have him out on deck before this is over. He'll want to see his little rat back, won't he?"

The marines, small number that they were, spread themselves out along the sides, their faces showing their fear of the crew but their actions proving that they feared Beckett more. It was safer to face any enemy than to cross Beckett. They had to look straight at the strange fishmen without making it too obvious they were terrified. The knocking of knees didn't really help them, though.

"My terms are simple," Beckett was now saying, "The heart for the girl."

"Y'mean, power over th' seas for the girl, aye?" Maccus couldn't help this snarling reply.

Beckett smiled smugly, "My good man, you've at last grasped it. Let's hope your captain is equally perceptive." He didn't see or hear Wheelback attempting to get at him, arms flailing in a sort of wild but understandable desire to rip and tear, anchored down by Angler and Old Haddy. Maccus gave a discreet nod to Wheelback as if to say, "Just be patient."

Maccus now spoke to Beckett, "How can we be certain ye'll deliver?"

"If you deliver, I'll deliver," Beckett answered, smiling confidently.

Penrod was waiting for his cue. He hopped up beside Maccus, holding (with some visible difficulty) the chest that contained the heart of Davy Jones. From within issued the unmistakable boom of a still-beating heart. Beckett's eyes flamed with lust for power as he gazed at the chest. Soon he would have control of all the seas!

"Open it. Open it now."

Maccus moved slowly. He produced the key, fitting it into the lock and turning it. He moved to open the lid, but Beckett, eager to do it himself, shoved his claws away, flinging the chest open. His eyes went blank for a moment, then wide with a type of rage. He looked to Maccus, opening his mouth to speak…but his words were cut short by a distant boom.

Beckett turned in order to see what the source of the noise was. A ship's gun, surely, but how…he found a blade to his throat. The crew set about their work with savage pleasure, slaughtering the marines and allowing the blood to drain to the center of the deck, collecting in sticky pools. Beckett stood rigid with a sort of terror he once thought he was above, forced to watch the grisly spectacle. Then he was whirled around to face Maccus. The first mate brandished his boarding axe under the man's nose, smiling with savage glee, "Told ye we'd deliver."