Author's Note: The prequel to this story is "Lady of the Sea." I recommend one reads "Lady of the Sea" before "Rise of Libertas." This story takes place after At World's End.
O O O
Silence enveloped the now dead city. The streets were filled with blood and corpses. Soldiers in uniforms of navy and gold lined the streets at attention. Lord Cutler Beckett of the East India Trading Company calmly walked though the port city, not even bothering to acknowledge the massacre around him. He stopped outside of what appeared to be an inn and looked expectantly at the Lieutenant positioned at the door.
"She's in here," said the officer, stepping aside.
Beckett smiled slightly as he nodded to the Lieutenant, listening to the voice of a woman singing as it floated from inside the inn. "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me…" Beckett entered the building.
Seated on the bar across from the door was a young woman. Two dozen soldiers all had their rifles trained on her, prepared to fire, but the woman appeared to either not notice them, or not care. "We're rascals, we're scoundrels, we're villains and knaves, drink up, me hearties, yo ho." She took a large swig from a bottle of rum, throwing her head back and tossing her long, black hair. "We're devils, we're black sheep, we're really bad eggs, drink up, me hearties, yo ho."
Her eyes found Lord Beckett. She slid from the bar, though she continued to lean back against it. "Cutler Beckett," she said with a slight bow, her eyes surprisingly focused given the amount of rum she seemed to have drunk. "What a…unpleasant surprise," she commented with a sweet smile.
Beckett nodded to her, his eyes momentarily betraying the emotions he had upon seeing this woman again—both those of love and of hate. "It's Lord now, Jacqueline."
The woman gave him a look a feigned interest. "So sorry, Lord Beckett." She took a sip of rum. "And it's Robin now, actually." She took another large gulp of rum. Most would think her imprudent, allowing herself to be so completely out of control of her mental faculties. But Beckett knew her better. Jacqueline was cunning at any time, even when she was drunk. "Oh, where are my manners? A drink?" She tossed the bottle of rum to Beckett, who caught it expertly, managing not to spill a drop from the open container. Robin grabbed another bottle from the bar and drank still more rum from the new bottle. Beckett smelled the rum and wrinkled his nose; however, he tossed back his head and took a large swig. Robin smiled at him as he swallowed, almost as though impressed. "What do you want?"
Beckett swept his eyes over Robin's body. "I am here to give you a chance to live."
Robin surveyed the soldiers and guns around her. "You killed everyone in Singapore…except me. Seeing as you had Mr. Mercer track me for years, I assume that I am also someone that you don't exactly enjoy seeing alive." Robin took a few steps towards him. "And you want me to believe that I need something from you?" she asked with a smile. "It isn't me who needs anything. It is you who needs something from me."
"But Mr. Mercer did not kill you."
"Perhaps he should have while he had the chance."
Beckett's eyes narrowed slightly as he tried to read the pirate standing before him. "I have an offer that will benefit the both of us." Robin raised an eyebrow in curiosity. "If you succeed, you will become a privateer in the employ of the East India Trading Company."
"I could never work for you—."
"If you are employed by England," Beckett interrupted, "the number of ships you will be able to…pirate…becomes severely limited. You would not be able to attack English ships, including East India ships. However, being employed by the East India Company would make it so you could still attack English ships, as long as they were not under the Company's employ."
Robin thought on this for a moment. Beckett had clearly thought this deal through. "Reasonable—as long as I don't have to report directly to you."
Beckett's grimace was not completely hidden by his fake smile. "You will even be provided with a ship and a crew."
"How kind, seeing as you murdered my crew and destroyed my ship," Robin said, nonchalantly examining her fingernails.
Beckett's brow furrowed. "Your ship? I was not aware you ever captained one," he said.
"Well, I did." Beckett was not sure if he could believe her or not. "In your very recent rampage of Singapore, however, you destroyed it and my crew," Robin said, her voice in a tone that one would use while speaking of the weather. "Anyway, there is only one ship I really want. You know that." Robin looked up into Beckett's eyes, her deep brown eyes delving into his. Beckett breathed deeply and unsuccessfully attempted to look away.
"I cannot give you that ship—it is no longer a ship of the Company." Beckett blinked heavily, as though trying to break eye contact, yet he still found himself captivated by her eyes. "As you may recall, you helped it to…change owners."
Robin smiled nostalgically. "Yes."
"And you remember…how you achieved this?" Beckett inquired carefully.
"I'm not sure I like the path we're on," Robin said, her brow furrowing.
"I could force you to withhold your side of the…arrangement," Beckett said smoothly, feeling as though he had regained control of the situation. Robin's eyes widened, and she seemed to barely resist the urge to step back.
"That was a decade ago!" Robin exclaimed, her eyes suddenly no longer deep and spellbinding, but cold and hard as she glared at him.
"True, but the arrangement holds…unless I nullify it." Beckett paused, carefully watching Robin's reaction. "And I will, if you succeed." He smiled as he saw that Robin was now sincerely interested in the deal he was proposing. "If you do the job very well, you may end up with the Black Pearl as well." Robin's eyes gleamed.
"And what, exactly, would I have to do to earn all this?" Robin asked, stepping closer to Beckett. He felt her breath on his face, but it curiously did not smell like the rum she had been drinking. In fact, Beckett swore that he smelled an ocean breeze coming from her.
"I need you to bring me a certain map and compass," he began quietly. "Items which currently belong to your other target…Captain Jack Sparrow."
Robin stepped back, turning around and walking a few paces away from Beckett. She took a drink of rum. "Jack Sparrow? I heard he was dead." She now took an excessively large gulp of rum.
Lord Beckett smirked at her sudden unease and walked up behind her, whispering in her ear. "You know he's not." Robin remained silent. "Well? Do you agree?" Robin sighed and turned around, her face inches from Beckett's. Beckett did not back away.
"You say I'll get the Pearl?"
"If it's a job especially well done. If not, you will still have a ship—you will still be free," Beckett said quietly.
"Free even of a…certain arrangement?" Robin asked, her eyes shifting back and forth between Beckett's. Beckett nodded slowly. Robin suddenly smiled brightly. "Then we have an accord!" She backed away enough to shake Beckett's hand, wiping her own hand on her trousers immediately after letting go.
Lord Beckett blinked a few times in order to clear his head. "Send in the Admiral," he ordered, nodding to the nearest soldier. Robin looked at him quizzically. "I'm afraid that there is a condition." Robin's gaze hardened. "You see, I can't have you running off at the first chance you get."
Robin grinned. "I suppose I would be disappointed if that didn't at least cross your mind."
Beckett smiled back at her. "I'm sending the Admiral with you."
"And what makes you think I won't kill him?" Robin said, still smiling sweetly.
"I have already thought of that. Ah, Admiral!"
A tall, dashing man in a decorated Royal Navy uniform had just entered the inn. He gazed at Robin curiously before bowing slightly to Beckett. "Lord Beckett," he greeted.
"Admiral Norrington, I have a job for you." He motioned towards Robin. "This is Robin," he said. "And Robin, this is Admiral James Norrington."
Perhaps he had merely imagined it, but Beckett thought he saw a flash of fear flicker across Robin's eyes. But her eyes quickly turned cold. "Norrington, eh?" Robin said, taking a few steps toward him. "How many pirates did you have to kill to get all your promotions?" she asked darkly. "Fifty? One hundred? A thousand?"
Admiral Norrington gazed at Robin perplexedly, studying her curiously. "You look…familiar…" he said quietly. Robin looked determinedly away from him, avoiding eye contact. Lord Beckett frowned at Robin's sudden change in behavior, and neither said anything else to the other.
"I assume I can trust you not to turn on me and the Company aid the pirate, am I right, Admiral?" Robin's eyes narrowed when Beckett referred to her as merely "the pirate."
Admiral Norrington nodded slowly. "Of course, Lord Beckett." Robin rolled her eyes.
Beckett nodded. "I thought so." He then turned to Robin. "I'm afraid, Robin," he began, drawing a dagger, "that I need a bit of your precious blood." Robin's eyes watched the dagger carefully.
"To make sure that you don't betray the Admiral."
Robin smiled, surprising Beckett. "The Blood Oath," she breathed. She glanced at Norrington. "That means that he can't betray me either, you know." Beckett nodded hesitantly. He had hoped that Robin had not been aware of that. Norrington's gaze shifted from Beckett to Robin, appearing to have no idea what the two were talking about.
Beckett nodded to two nearby soldiers, who looked at each other nervously before putting down their weapons and walking over to Robin and Norrington. Robin angrily tried to jerk away from the soldier who grabbed her right arm and held it out to Beckett. Norrington also protested when a soldier grabbed his arm and rolled up the right sleeve of his uniform. "Lord Beckett, what is going on?"
"My apologies, Admiral, but I am afraid that it can't be helped."
"What can't be?" Norrington asked, his eyes widening with uncertainty. Beckett simply smiled in response, pulling out another dagger. Admiral Norrington watched the blades in horror as the two daggers were brought down, one in Robin's arm, the other in his own.