The Voyages of the Dawn Chaser
Voyage 2 - The water of life
Jack Sparrow – a pirate captain and a smart man, with a taste for rum, long hair, long words and even longer plans
Elanor Cavendish – a ship's captain and a smart woman, with similar tastes - except that she'd rather have brandy
Ariadne – a ship's ghost – well maybe – very smart but with no tastes at all
Calypso – a sea goddess with a weakness for pirates, a wicked sense of humour and no sense of fair play
The Lady – herself
Barbossa – a pirate captain and a hard man with a liking for big hats, and a fear of inescapable curses and impending doom
Various crew – all of whom who had been loved by their mothers but possibly no one since
An Island Governor
The Spanish and others
Chapter 1 - An inopportune moment
In which Jack experiences the down side of meeting the future and Elanor decides to look for treasure
"Think of them like little animals, like lice or fleas," Elanor had said as she tipped another foul tasting draught down his unwilling throat. "But in your blood not your hair."
There had been only one reply to that and that was that he didn't want to bloody well think about them at all, and he was sure he didn't want them in his blood, or any other part of his body come to that. He wanted them to go away. Now.
For a moment he had wondered if she was going to stroke his fevered brow, that might have been worth the wretchedness, but all she had done was smile sympathetically and tell him that he would feel better in a few days. By this time the pain in his head was so bad again that all he had managed was a half growl of disgust at the suggestion, that hurt his throat, and relief when she left him alone to near darkness and the comfort of his bed.
It had started two days before. He had put the headache down to the brandy at first, not something he drank regularly, and never brandy like hers, and so it wasn't so surprising that his head had been a bit uncertain the following day. When his stomach protested at the sight of breakfast he had just thought it the consequences of having eaten so much more than he was used to and gone up on deck to let the wind blow away the aches of sleeping in a strange bed.
It was a pity that he hadn't been feeling his usual self given that he had known he would have a fight on his hands. He'd fired the opening salvo almost as soon as she joined him on deck.
"This strong room of yours, what does it hold then? Beside me effects that is?"
That they were still there rankled more than a little, and she knew it.
Elanor had raised her eyebrows but answered reasonably enough,
"Nothing of much use here."
"What kind of nothing needs a strong room?"
She had come and stood in front of him, arms crossed, and stared at him suspiciously.
"Why do you want to know Jack?"
He was sitting on the deck with his back to the mast, and for the moment he couldn't find the energy to stand and face her, so he'd just tipped his head back and stared up at her instead,
"Because we might need some........ goods, to help us get at the fountain."
That brought the frown he had been expecting.
"Goods? What kind of goods?"
He'd tried to think of a way to fob her off but his mind seemed less agile than was usual, to be struggling to find the necessary words in fact, so he'd ended up telling her more of the truth than he had intended too, well more than he had intended to tell her just yet.
"Powder and shot to name two." He'd replied as easily as he could.
"Powder and shot?" she had seemed confused for a moment and then his meaning dawned,
"Pistols? Why would we need weapons Jack? You said that no one knows where this fountain is, so why do you think that we might have to fight for it, and with whom?"
The aches in his joints were definitely getting worse and he winced as he wriggled under her scrutiny,
"Well, you recall me mentioning the ship I lent, the one I took the chart as security for..."
"The person I loaned it to...well.....you see..... he's not always the most honourable of people, not even for a pirate."
"Is that his approach to everyone, or just to you?" she said tartly.
Jack sighed and winced as the rise and fall of his own chest jolted his head,
"Luv, I mean Elanor, if you knew just some of the stories about him you would realise that he is a most undesirable and undeserving of characters."
"So why did you lend him your ship?"
He thought about his reply for a moment, he was damned if he was telling her the truth of that story!
"Let's just say a ..... mutual acquaintance was involved. But it may be that this miscreant will decide that he can find the fountain without the chart. Or...." how could put this, "he might even decide to try and renege on our.... arrangement and attempt to take the chart from me."
Elanor had just sighed in her turn and shook her head, setting the long, thick waves of her hair rippling in the sunlight. The sight inspired Jack with a desire to bury his fingers in that cascade, but she was frowning, not at all in the mood for such a suggestion, even assuming that he could find the wherewithal to follow it through, which, for the moment, he was forced to admit that he couldn't.
"I knew it wasn't going to be as easy as you made out, and somehow I don't think you are telling me the truth now." She raised her hand as he opened his mouth to protest, "no don't bother yourself, I'm unlikely to believe whatever you tell me."
She turned away,
"It doesn't matter. I agreed to go after this fountain of yours because you were right about one thing, I can't just hang around waiting for the portal, or whatever it is, to open again. I need to keep on the move so I may as well follow your heading as any other."
A thought seemed to strike her and sheturned back and looked at him with that narrow eyed look that he was coming to dislike,
"This man wouldn't be in any way connected to that treasure you claim to have mislaid, would he?"
Jack cursed her sharpness, he couldn't recall mentioning Barbossa when he had told her of the loss of the treasure of Isle de Muerta and his plans for it, truth be told he couldn't quite remember now why he had said anything about that anyways, so there was a faint possibility that he had mentioned Barbossa in passing. He was, however, sure that he hadn't told her of shooting him, nor of the man's resurrection at the hands of Tia Dalma, just as he was sure that he hadn't told her of his own death. Davy Jones and Beckett had been enough, there were something better not said to such a new, and sharp eyed, acquaintance, whatever your agreement. He looked up at her wide eyed, before squinting as the light seemed to lance the back of his skull,
"Now why would you think that?" he tried for his best drawl but missed it by a way.
Her narrow eyed stare persisted,
"I don't know, but the possibility occurred to me."
Jack sighed, not least at the weariness that seemed to be overtaking him just when he needed his wits about him,
" Most distrustful of you. But I assure you that I am more sinned against than sinning.... at least where this other person is concerned, bloodthirsty wretch that he is. If he we cross his path in pursuit of the fountain it will not go well with us if we cannot defend ourselves."
"Ariadne can defend the ship,"
She had said it almost dismissively, making him wonder just what these defences were that she was so confident of them. He smiled slightly,
"I'm delighted to hear it. But the fountain won't be on the ship now will it? Can your ghost come ashore with us, can she defend us, watch our backs, if there is the need to climb cliffs or descend into dark caves?"
That just brought a deeper frown from her and Jack sighed at the look, wishing again that he had more energy,
"We need more powder and shot than I have, and if you don't wish to turn to piracy," he raised is hand at the anticipated protest, "and I would not expect that you would, then we must, .... and I hate having to say this.... pay...... for what we need."
He cast her a winsome smile,
"and since you stripped me most thoroughly when you hauled me aboard, and sorted through my effects at your leisure, you will be aware that I was carrying little of anything in the way of ready currency."
She quirked and eyebrow at that and reached down a hand and flicked one of the ornaments plaited into his hair,
"Other than a lot of silver and some rather valuable looking beads you mean? I do know what they are Jack."
She smiled at his attempt at outrage,
"But I take your point. To answer the question hovering on your tongue, no my strong room isn't stocked with suitably negotiable valuables. I carry some but it would be dangerous to try and liquidate them here, they would raise too much interest and far too many questions."
She moved away from him chewing on her lip in thought,
"But this treasure of yours, the one you lost, would any of that be easy to turn into ready funds?"
Jack tried to concentrate but it was getting harder by the minute, and he was uncomfortably aware that whatever was at the root of his weariness and pains it wasn't the brandy for they went well beyond any hangover he had ever known before. He nodded and wished he hadn't, his head felt ready to part company with his neck, he swallowed hard and tried to pull his fraying thoughts together,
"Aye some of it. But it's beyond reach luv, the sea reclaimed it."
She continued to frown but whatever it was that she was debating with herself it occupied her so much that she didn't notice his slip,
"Perhaps, but perhaps not, there may be a way. Give me a bearing for this Isle de Muerta then I need to consult with Ariadne."
By this time Jack had been too tired to protest, all he wanted was to be left alone and in quiet to gather his strength. His accord with this woman was too new and untried to allow him to show her any weakness, yet at that moment he wasn't sure that he could have got to his feet if he tried. So he just sighed as if humouring her and gave her the bearing, not even watching as she disappeared in the direction of the hatch. With a sudden sense of relief at the silence he let his eyes slide closed, 'a little sleep out here with the sea and the sky for company and I'll be fine' he told himself.
But the aches and the weariness hadn't gone away, and by the time Elanor had finished her confabulations with this ghost of hers and joined him on deck again he had begun to wonder if their apparent accord of the evening before had been a ruse on her part to buy time to poison him. He could think of no other reason why so much of him should hurt the way it did, or why the light on the water seemed so painfully bright, or why the air felt so oppressively warm so early in the day and yet the wind felt icy cold.
"Are you alright?"
He had looked up from his study of the sea to find her staring at him in a way that looked to be concerned.
"Yes. Why wouldn't I be?"
He had responded almost before she had finished speaking. Strange as he might feel there was no reason to let her know of it, not when she might use it as an excuse to delay seeking the fountain.
She had shrugged in apparent innocence,
"You look rather pale and tired that's all."
He'd smiled at that,
"Why would I be tired luv?" he caught her look and corrected himself, "I mean Elanor. I'm a pirate remember, undisturbed sleep is a rare luxury in my profession. If the navy allows you it, the sea doesn't."
"If you say so," was all she had said, but she had given him another strange look as she passed on her way to the helm.
"I've checked the bearing and Ariadne thinks she knows where this treasure island of your was," she called back to him. "There may be a way to recover something but I won't know until we get closer."
He just nodded and hoped that she would go back to her ghost and leave him alone.
She didn't of course, contrary wench, she descended to the deck again and came and sat beside him, her arm close against his own.
" I've changed heading anyway. Ariadne reminded me that this fountain of your is likely to be hard to get to, we may well need rope and lights even if your unpleasant acquaintance stays away. There's no guarantee that this island is uninhabited either." She shot him an inquiring look, "Is there?"
"No luv, no guarantee at all."
She gave him another sideways look but made no protest at his choice of words.
"Didn't think so, " she said, "which means we will need to find suitable equipment from somewhere. I'm reluctant to risk anything from the Chaser in the attempt, it's unlikely I could replace it, and, as you pointed out, I don't know how long I'm going to have to wait around here."
"Agreed." was all he said, not even noticing the sudden anxiety in her face as she looked at him.
There was a moment or two of silence then he felt her hand on his arm and with an effort he turned his head and looked at her; she seemed to be watching him closely as if expecting something. he just smiled slightly at her and said nothing. After a moment she seemed to resolve some dispute with herself and got to her feet
"I'll go and make a start on a list of what we'll need," was all she said.
Jack stared up at her listlessly,
"You do that, I'll just sit here and stay out of your ghosts way shall I? Wouldn't want to upset her again."
That brought another of the sharp looks she seemed to excel at,
"Whatever you want. I'll be back with the list and you can add what ever you think I've missed."
There was a momentary pause,
"You can read and write I suppose? Forgive me if the question seems crass or insulting, it isn't meant to be, but I'm not sure what skills to expect in an eighteenth century pirate."
"Suppose you're not, " he replied mildly enough, "anymore than I know what I can expect from you," he summoned up another weary smile but was only too aware that it lacked the edge he would have hoped for.
Still it brought a raised eyebrow,
"Obviously." She replied
Jack cursed silently knowing that he was losing this battle of wills and yet was unable to do anything about it,
"I can read and write well enough." He let his head fall back against the mast, his eyes drifting across her face, "can do a lot of other things too, one day maybe I'll tell you about them, or show you."
That brought a smile as she got to her feet,
Then she left him.
He'd sat and watched the sea, unable to sleep, trying to find the energy to do something else but failing miserably. Misery was something he became more aware of as the morning passed, the heaviness in his limbs grew worse and his skin and scalp began to feel sore. He could only be grateful that he had nothing pressing to do for the moment. Elanor had returned with the beginnings of a list of possible items needed in pursuit of the fountain and handed it to him, along with some form of writing implement, but then she had left him to it. After ten minutes or so of struggling to think he had put it down on the deck and gone back to staring listlessly at the sea.
She had come back some time later to offer him coffee but he had simply shook his head and she had gone away without comment.
As the sun reached it zenith she had disappeared below decks, reappearing some time later and going aloft without a word to him. Jack found enough energy to turn and look her as she sat high above the deck with her back to him doing something unexplained with the topsail rigging. Whatever the task was she seemed quite at home up there and totally absorbed in her occupation. Her contentment irked him for some reason and he decided that he would go aloft and join her, reminding himself that it was high time that he learned a little of this strange vessel; knowing nothing of the ship he sailed on was unnerving. Decision made he got to his feet, then promptly sat down again as the deck seemed to swim before his eyes. Cursing he shook himself and tried to rub his eyes into behaving themselves, but the world refused to settle. Nor did his stomach and as its contortions increased he found himself crawling on hands and knees to the rail to vomit over the side. The spray was cold on his face and the light on the water was blinding but he remained where he was, crouched and shivering, one hand gripped desperately around the rail while the world span around him.
The world was still spinning when he felt her hand on his shoulder, then she was pulling him up and against her, his head falling into the curve of her shoulder, while her hand brushed his hair away from his face. He moved to push her away but he found that his strength was not longer equal to the task and that she had him held fast; his body was betraying him and there was nothing he could do to stop it, or her. He tensed as he saw the flash of something bright in her hand wondering for a second if she was planning on slitting his throat, 'a fine way for Captain Jack Sparrow to die' he thought bitterly, 'beat the devil and perish at the hands of a lass with the face of an angel.'
But she made no murderous move and though the bright object was slapped gently against the side of his neck there was no bite and no spill of blood. He could feel her arm behind him supporting him as she might a child and he fought the sudden and strange desire to collapse against her and hand the reins of his life over to her care. The fatigue he had felt in the dingy had caught up with him again, and in far greater measure than he was prepared for. Above him the sky seemed impossibly blue and the sun was bright, too bright, while the sound of the sea seemed drown all others out. For a moment he struggled to remember where he was, was it the locker, the Pearl or that god forsaken strip of land where Hector had abandoned him?
Then he felt a hand against his face, slapping him gently.
'What did I do this time,' he though blearily, 'is this one I deserve or not?'
"Jack, can you hear me." Another slap, "Jack listen to me, try and pay attention. You're ill, I need to get you below. Can you walk do you think, or do I need to carry you?"
That made it through the haze that seemed to surround him, thoug he wasnt sure who he was talking to,
"Carry me!" even to his own ears his voice sounded pitifully weak, "you couldn't luv."
"Yes I could, but I know that you might not like it if I do. Can you stand? I'll help you." She raised her voice slightly, "Ariadne open all hatches and doors."
The arm behind him changed angle and he felt himself sit up, the pressure was gentle but the arm was strong and reassuring. Too strong to match the female voice., but he was too tired to care about that. With an effort he got his feet beneath him and struggled up. The world was spinning like the compass in the locker and the decks seemed to waiver and buckle into the distance, but her arm stayed behind him and he felt her hand grasp his waist as she tucked her shoulder under his. Then he was moving, the decks shifting and shimmering in the harsh light, only her arm around him keeping him on his feet. He didn't recall going through the hatch or down the steps. The next thing he was aware of was a room he hadn't seen before and collapsing onto another strange bed. Jack laughed to himself as she swung his legs up and settled him more comfortably; this was getting to be a habit.
She pushed his shirt sleeve up and he felt her fingers cool against his skin, then something tightened around his arm for a moment and he slid into sleep.
Now, two days later, he had to face the fact that she was right, he was ill and was likely to be so for some days yet. While he wasn't sure that he believed the how's or why's of it he couldn't avoid the what's. Between the sickness and the pain and the dizziness it was clear that he was not going to be on his feet before they reached Isle de Muerta.
She'd come and sat beside him at some time, he couldn't quite recall when, and explained that his blood was too hot because it was alive with things that hadn't been there before, things that were new to him, things that his body would kill or drive out in time. She smiled and told him that that the war between them produced this ague and the terrible weakness that went with it. The draughts she made him drink and the white pills she made him swallow were supposed to help his body win the war and to make him feel better while they fought.
He had no problems in accepting he was a battlefield, but if this was better then he couldn't imagine what worse would feel like.
"Will he live?"
"There is no reason why he should not. The fever was undesirably high but it is declining and his blood culture shows nothing that the medication program I have provided cannot cope with. He is strong enough and, given the era he hails from, his body must be accustomed to infection."
Elanor was not disposed to be reassured though she couldn't be sure why, guilt she supposed, she seemed to have felt a lot of that since she arrived here.
"Bloody hell Ariadne, I should have thought of it before! Why didn't I? This ship will be a culture plate of things he's not equipped to deal with."
"You cannot hold yourself accountable for forgetting the vagaries of time travel, after all it is not what you would expect to have to cope with. That aside you are tired and your thought processes are affected by fatigue, you need a least one night of unbroken sleep. That should be possible while he is so incapacitated and no threat, take full advantage of the situation."
"What about me? He will be alive with a few things I've not encountered too, and not only the crawly ones we have already dealt with."
"Your inoculations and genetic history will take care of most of those. You might find yourself with a cold or a mild stomach upset but nothing worse than that. However the drugs you have provided for him will deal with most of the infections and other diseases he may carry."
Ariadne paused for a moment then went on,
"Do not allow yourself to be beguiled by him into guilt, he will come out of this episode much healthier in the long term than he went into it."
Ariadne's tone was almost dry and Elanor wondered what exactly had been found in that blood culture, somehow she felt it intrusive to ask.
"You are right of course. Hold our course for this treasure island of his and keep the scanners on full alert. Take evasive action where necessary and then bring us back on course when safe. Wake me if we come in range of anything likely to see us."
She had retired to her cabin by way of his.
He was asleep, deeply and silently asleep. If he hadn't been so ill she might have assumed he had arranged himself with a view to dramatic effect, dark hair was spread across the pillow, just one long rope falling over his shoulder to lay against the whiteness of his borrowed shirt, his hands were limp at his sides. The shadows were back around his eyes, though this time no thanks to kohl. She picked up one of his hands and stared at the rings adorning it, for the moment they were the only real reminder of the strangeness of him.
What had she committed herself to in this search of his? Was she really going to find some lost and fabulous treasure on this sunken island, and what did she do if they did? If it was enough to buy him a ship would he retire to safety, as he had told her had been his plan, and leave her to her uncertain fate in this strange new world? She dropped his hand and rubbed her eyes, Ariadne was right, she was tired, too tired to be rational and this was a man who needed to be handled rationally.
With that reminder to herself she left him to his rest and went and sought her own.