Beckett's Quarry

Chapter 22

The three ships maneuvered for best position against the rapidly approaching East India ship. The crews of all four ships scrambling to assume battle positions, the guns that were not already firing were manned and run out and prepared to join the attack. Smoke bellowed from every cannon port, the crack of timber could be heard by every pair of ears and the flying debris seen by every pair of eyes when a shot hit its mark. As the ships closed on each other musket and pistol joined in the fray, and then grappling hooks sailed across the diminished distance and taunt lines carried men to swarm decks and battle against each other with blade and dagger.

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Cutler Beckett stood at the rail of the quarterdeck watching his ship approach the three maneuvering for position against him.

"Captain I want as much damage done to those ships as possible before we close with them. Is that understood?"

"We're doing our best Lord Beckett, and under the circumstances there is only so much we can do." The Captain tersely replied.

"Well then your best evidently isn't good enough. You shall have to do better." Cutler snipped back, "Perhaps I should ask Mr. Mercer to inspire you?"

"That won't be necessary." The Captain quickly replied as he cast a wary glance Mr. Mercer's way.

"Ah, I thought that might encourage you a little." Beckett replied with a cruel smile. He turned to Mercer and said, "It is amazing how much influence you have with only your presence Mr. Mercer. It seems all one need do is mention your name and attitudes change dramatically."

Mr. Mercer bowed slightly in reply, "All for the good of the company, and your benefit Lord Beckett."

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In the mass confusion on the Pearl William, Elizabeth, and James were separated and Elizabeth found herself alone at the head of the companionway fighting off two of the interlopers from Lord Beckett's crew. Suddenly there was a hand over her mouth, her sword was knocked from her hand and an arm shot around her and she was being dragged backward down the stairs. Putting up as much a fight as she was able she managed to knock her attacker off balance, but only succeeded in throwing them both to the bottom of the steps without loosening the grip that held her. As she lay there somewhat dazed, the air forced from her lungs by the landing she heard Barbossa speak close to her ear, "Now Mrs. Turner, I'll just be havin the whereabouts of that heart."

She tried to get away, kicking and hitting and trying to bite, but his grip was too strong. He pulled her to her feet and began to drag her further down the hall and out of sight if anyone should happen to look down from above, unfortunately for him, and fortunately for her James had seen her sudden disappearance and had fought his way over to see what had happened to her.

"Unhand her you scoundrel!" He shouted as he launched himself down toward them, sword at the ready.

Barbossa threw Elizabeth roughly to the side and she collided with the wall and was again dazed by the impact and slid to the floor. He drew his own sword barely getting it up in defense before James' blade crashed against it.

Nose to nose, their swords trapped between them, Barbossa laughed wildly and said, "Come to save the bonny lass have ya?"

"Come to send you to Hell Pirate." James responded as he shoved himself away and brought his sword up for attack.

Barbossa laughed maniacally in return as he swung his sword at James.

James was backed to the foot of the stairs and was doing his best to keep his balance and evade the lunges and thrusts of Barbossa's chaotic attack. It took him a few minutes to adjust to the man's style, but when he did it was Barbossa that was backtracking and not James. In fact James had him backed to the end of the hall and almost had the better of him when he was cracked in the head from behind hard enough to send him to his knees.

Barbossa kicked him in the ribs as he walked around him and said, "Thank ye Bos'n." Then looking around he said, "Now where's that wench?"

"Didn't see no wench Cap'n, just you and the Pirate Hunter." Bos'n answered.

"She must have gone back up on deck, 'n if that be the case we've little time afore she alerts that blasted whelp of a husband of hers and they bring a whole bunch of 'em down on us. Back ta the ship then, I'll come across her at a more opportune time."

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"Lord Beckett," the Captain said in a panic, "We are no match for three ships; we've sustained enough damage below we're taking on water faster than we can pump it out and are in danger of sinking. We must break off the attack! If we don't head for land immediately we shall all die!"

Beckett started to order the Captain to continue the attack, but as his ship gave a groan and listed sharply to starboard, and he had to catch a hold of the rail to keep from being thrown overboard even he thought better of it and gave the order to break off and head for the nearest land.

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As he watched both Beckett's and Barbossa's ships sailing off in different directions AnnaMaria stomped up behind him and snapped, "Ya are gonna pursue 'im aren't ya?"

Jack made a grimace before turning around and giving her a wide glittering smile, flopped his hands about and said, "Which one would ya like to pursue then luv?"

"Send the bloody Turners after Barbossa, we'll go after Beckett, I'm sure he's got something on that ship of value ta make this all worth while." She snapped back.

"A fine ideal I'm sure Anna, now if you'll just get off me quarterdeck," adding under his breath, 'and me arse', ducking a bit for an instant in case she heard that. When no slap was forthcoming he continued, "I'll just see to that very thing, savvy?"

She gave him a glare and stomped off, scattering any crewmen in her path as she did.

"Mr. Gibbs!" Jack called out and then whirled around to frown at the man when he answered from just a few feet behind him, "Don't do that!"

With a very un-genuine expression he answered, "Sorry."

Jack squinted at him with suspicion for a moment, then, "Mr. Gibbs, I am going below to get some rum. Make ready with all haste to go after the East India ship."

"Aye Cap'n, the Pearl was not seriously damaged 'n repairs'll be made shortly and then we'll be off after the despicable bounder." Gibbs answered with a nod.

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Jack entered the galley and caught the tail end of the conversation going on between James, William, and Elizabeth.

"Just because he knows about the heart doesn't mean he's going to get his hands on it." Elizabeth was saying.

"Who? Who knows about the heart?" Jack interrupted as he picked up a bottle of rum and took a drink.

James made a face as he replied, "Barbossa."

Jack almost choked on the swallow, "Yer just passin out all manner of invitation for people concernin the bloody beating thing. For somethin supposed ta be kept such a secret yer doin a poor job James."

James straightened to a Commodore-ly stiffness and huffed back, "I did not tell Barbossa about the location of the heart. He had to have found it out in some other way."

"It doesn't matter how he found out, just that he did. And he doesn't know where it is, just who does know where it is." William interjected.

"Well William, I must say that's quite a comfort." Jack retorted, then looked at James, "Didn't I tell ya it was stupid ta give it ta Lizzie?"

Elizabeth shot up out of her chair, William close behind her, "Are you calling me stupid?" William repeating it instantly, "Yes, are you calling her stupid?"

Jack threw his hands up in a defensive motion, "I'm not callin ya stupid, I said it was stupid for James to give the heart to ya, there's a difference."

James snorted a bit, raised his eyebrows and with a gesture of his hand at Jack said, "Perhaps you would care to enlighten us as to the difference?"

"Yes, enlighten us Jack." Elizabeth said as she glared at him.

"I'd love ta be doin just that luv…….." Jack was interrupted by Mr. Gibbs, "Somethin ya better come look at Jack." He gave Gibbs a grateful look, knowing he didn't really care if the hounds of hell were on them as long as it got him out of this situation. "…….unfortunately there seems ta be some matters of import requirin my attention on deck." And hurriedly made a wildly floppy armed exit from the room.

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"Two of them ya say?" Jack said as he took the telescope from Gibbs and opened it to look in the direction Gibbs had indicated. And sure enough just past Beckett's limping ship were two of The East India Trading Company's finest headed their way.

William, Elizabeth, and James had come on deck to see what was going on, and each in turn took a look through the telescope.

"I'm thinkin now'd be a fine time ta be headed the other way Jack." Gibbs said with a motion of his thumbs over his shoulder.

Jack nodded, "I'm inclined ta agree with ya. Give the orders Mr. Gibbs 'n we'll put them to our rudder."

As the Pearl swung about to head away from the East India ships William and Elizabeth preceded Jack and James below deck and back to the galley. Jack, a few steps ahead of James, cast back over his shoulder in a voice that carried only as far as James' ear, "I still say it was a stupid thing for ya ta be givin Lizzie the heart." As he heard James make what could be considered a growling sound he quickened his pace catching up with William and Elizabeth, and throwing an arm around each of the Turner's shoulders said cheerfully, "Have I ever told ya about the time the Pelagostas made me their chief?" Then gave a glance back over his shoulder to make sure James wasn't about to do more than growl at him.

The End

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