Water and Sky....

There was a curling in his gut that he did not like, a vague twinge of warning that seeped through his bones and made him halt midway out on the water. Jack drew in a measured breath, glanced down at the placid serenity of the quiet azure below the Pearl's hull. He hissed when he heard the deep groan of her planks,
felt the entire ship shudder beneith his boot heels as if afraid. Putting a palm against the dark wood, he cocked an ear, as if listening to the Pearl as she rocked upward on a wave.

"Cap'n?" Gibbs' brow was furrowed in confusion, as he watched Jack give him a glittering grin, and then land back on deck, lithe as a cat. The old man squinted as he held out the spy-glass to Jack, warily.

"What is it?"

Jack did not answer the question, only raised the spyglass over the vast expanse of the sea, and held it aloft, cursing under his breath, and muttering to himself. Gibbs scowled when he saw Jack's bone deep flinch as he abruptly halted, the spy glass fixed like a target over an empty ocean.

"Bloody Norrington."

The words were almost purred as Jack fluttered a hand in the air, beckoning. Gibbs grunted as he took the spy glass, peered through it. Gliding over the waters, sails unfurling, Gibbs swallowed hard when he saw the warship's speed, and the bright uniforms of the "all the King's men".

Jack only smirked sadly at the old man's lurch, clapped a hand over his shoulder. "'S about time that the good Commodore grace us with his presence, ai? "

Gibbs, squat as a bulldog, was lithe on his feet as he rose from the railing, and silently offered Jack his well-worn flask. Jack gave him a gold-glinted smile, good-naturedly clapped his shoulder, waved it away. "'S going to take more than that rather minute amount of liquid courage to lubricate an escape, mate. But I thank ye anyway." Gibbs took back the flask, raised an eyebrow in astonishment. "Cap'n?" His gruff inquiry was answered by Jack's finger raised to the far-reaching horizon, starboard. Gibbs shrugged at the water and sky, seeing nothing amiss but an eerie stillness. "'S a rather large and unnerving storm brewing, that promises to be quite unpleasant." Jack cocked his head, turned to look at Gibbs over his shoulder.

"Rouse the crew, Mr. Gibbs. Between bloody Norrington and the storm...I don't favor the Pearl being caught between that marriage of heaven and heck, do you?"

Gibbs squinted at the placid sky. "Jack? There's nary a cloud, Cap'n How can-" Jack impatiently jabbed a thumb at the horizon, swept his arm over to the ominous sails that were inching closer of Norrington's ship. "Gibbs? Have ye ever heard of the calm before the storm? *That* is it." Jack waved a vague hand over the azure haze.

"Now, if, for your own irrational gratification, and or leisurely wish for an early demise, you may take this as your invitation to go for a rather long swim." Jack's tone went from mocking to deadly as he leaped down from the railing.

"Mr. Gibbs, all flippancy aside? Rouse the crew, and tell them to lash down whatever can be tied. Sails at the full, too. I don't want the King's Finest to see anything of my lady but a parting kiss." Jack affectionately caressed the black wood beneith his bejeweled hand. The old man nodded, grimly, grunted to his feet, and bellowed out a stream of orders, laced with profanity and puntuated by swigs of rum. Jack could not help but fight a smirk of triumph as they admirably slid into co-hesion, each man gripping rope, wheel, sail or tack line with a disapline that would normally be driven on by lash and threat. Jack scowled at the branded letter at his wrist, adjusted the leather bindings to conceal it. Of all the bloody labels the good and proper may have for him...the cruelty he had seen on some other ships, and at the hands of the righteous was a bitter lesson learned. He ran a considering hand over his beads, letting an idle finger caress the wooden clink as he scowled at the horizon, in rare, pensive worry.

The Pearl groaned beneath his bootheels, the water unexpectedly pitching her hull high on a vicious wave.
Jack grimaced at the ominous sound. "Something wicked and very wet this way comes. Gentlemen! Batten down the hatches, and tie the cargo sharp!"


Norrington only offered a cool, indifferent nod to the blathering announcement from the cabin boy's awed words. The cabin boy was little more than an uneducated idiot, wide-eyed and drunk on the wonders of the water, a thin, dark-eyed waif yet to shave. Norrington's towering height and regal, prim white wig had almost stupidified the boy to the point of stammering. "A...pirate ship, sir. A real pirate ship?"

Norrington gazed at the dark ship, just a shadow and a ghost over the waters for a considering moment, before allowing the grim words to slide out through his clenched teeth, "So it would seem." Norrington dismissed the boy with a curt nod to summon his men, his eyes never wavering from their cold gaze over the churning sea.

The Pearl. She seemed made of storm, and not wood, her dark sails cloaked in the shadows of the gathering clouds. Norrington did not indulge in fantasy, did not cater to delusions that the dim-witted enslaved to drink might spout at one of their tasteless gatherings. He did not gaze down into the ocean's depths and flinch at the thought of a mermaid. But to see that black ship, with her mad captain emerging unscathed from the abyss one too many times was enough to make him at least raise an eyebrow. He was certain that her rum-soaked, pock-ridden captain had to have charmed the devil to keep his ship. Sighing, Norrington stared upward at the sky, and noted with a frown of concern the stillness, and the heavy waiting that seemed so odd, as if the world had taken one collective breath and just stopped. He shuddered at the thought, choked it down with self-protective rationality.

Norrington stood stiffly and politely acknowledged the bowing lines of men who were perfectly at attention and waiting for orders. Norrington's heart swelled. They were fine men, disaplined, efficient, able, and willing to serve under him without question. Norrington had proven himself to be a fair, if impartial leader, and well-regarded. His men rewarded his attempts to be just by their unflinching obedience. With his sea-grey eyes narrowed and growing colder, Norrington spoke with his voice polite, chilled, and abrupt, "Gentlemen, it seems that Jack Sparrow had proven it necessary to alert us to his presence. While I have no doubt that his drinking and carousing has inhabited his reason, I cannot overstate the fact that he is still a foe worthy of the watching. The Pearl has been lurking in the King's waters and terrorizing far too many of the good citizens of the Crown for far too long. I think it high time that we show Mr. Sparrow and his crew of miscreants what a show of good English law and order can do. To your stations, men. No quarter, and no mercy. Send the Pearl to the depths!"

With those deadly words spoken with casual disregard, Norrington did not flinch with the loud pop of cloth as the ship's sails were unfurled and soon arching into the wind. The huge ship was soon gliding over the waters with the speed of the wind snatching the distance between the pirates. The wheels of the long guns were already rolling across the deck as men scrambled to ready the powder. The bright, betraying arch of cerilian hung heavy and as the sails billowed, and soon, the ship was gliding like a seabird over the water. Norrington smiled. The Caliopie was indeed a behemoth, a newly commissioned warship with heavy masts, and enough firepower aboard to make up for the lack of manunverability in the shallows. She was a grand lady, indeed, stately on the water, and drawfing the Pearl. Norrington smirked when he imagined Jack Sparrow's calculating squirm when he lay eyes upon his newest adversary.

Jack stared uneasily as the Caliopie glided into full, arogant view and scowled when the colors were hoisted. Tilting his head to the side, he flew up the deck and gripped the tackline with shaking fingers, heels rising from the railing until only his boot's tips remained.
Gibb's eyes buldged to see his captain nearly horizontal with the water. He heard Jack cuss, spit into the water, and hiss,

"Bloody Norrington.''