Sparrows Rising Chapter 1: The Bell has Rung
The fort was grey; the sun had not even bothered to shine on it that day. A long line of chained pirates extended far beyond the fort walls. Dead bodies of those who had hung littered the courtyard as the officers burned the corpses of the fallen pirates.
"In order to effect a timely halt to the deteriorating conditions, and to ensure the common good, a state of emergency is declared for these territories by decree of Lord Cutler Beckett, duly appointed representative of His Majesty the King. By decree, according to martial law, the following statues are temporarily amended: right to assembly, suspended."
Another line of pirates were dead as their feet dangled below the scaffold.
"Right to Habeas corpus, suspended."
Another line of pirates, dead.
"Right to legal counsel, suspended."
Another line of pirates, dead.
"Right to verdict by a jury of peers, suspended."
"All persons convicted of piracy, or aiding a person convicted of piracy, or associating with a person convicted of piracy, shall be sentenced to hang by the neck until dead."
Unseen by all the soldiers of the fort, a tall young man hid in a secret room in the walls, watching as a young child moved to take his place on the scaffold. The young boy looked sadly at his noose, yet did not beg or cry for mercy; instead he sang.
"The king and his men, stole the queen from her bed, and bound her in her bones. The seas be ours and by the powers, where we will, we'll roam."
The hidden man smiled in admiration as the remainder of the pirates gaining strength from the eerie song started to sing as well.
"Yo, ho, all hands, hoist the colors high."
The executioner placed a barrel at the boy's feet so that he could reach the noose.
"Heave ho, thieves and beggars never shall we die."
The hidden man saw the soldier previously giving orders talking to Lord Cutler Beckett, and still the singing continued.
"Yo, ho, all together, hoist the colors high. Heave ho, thieve and beggars never shall we die"
The hidden man bowed his head in respect as the executioner pulled the lever and the doomed pirates met their death. And as the bells in the church tower rang, marking the twelfth hour of the day, Tucker left the shadows of the fort unseen by any of the soldiers.
Elizabeth cautiously paddled through the underbelly of Singapore. Redcoats ran above her as she also sang the song of the pirates.
"…the bell has been raised from its watery grave; hear its sepulchral tone? A call to all, pay heed the squall, and turn your sails towards home!"
Elizabeth carefully stepped out of her narrow boat and onto the dock. She had chosen an ensemble that would not attract attention and was wearing traditional Chinese pirate clothes; a large straw hat hid her face from the world.
"…yo, ho, all together, hoist the colors high. Yo, ho, thieves-"
"Thief and beggar, never say we die" barked a scratchy voice from the shadows.
A dirty Chinese man emerged from underneath the walkway and looked towards Elizabeth with much suspicion.
"A dangerous song to be singing, for anyone ignorant of its meaning," he spat towards Elizabeth, "Particularly a woman, particularly a woman alone."
"What makes you think she's alone?" came another voice from the shadows as Hector Barbossa walked towards Elizabeth and Tai Huang.
Elizabeth, though she was extremely unwilling to show it, was relieved at the appearance of Barbossa.
Tai Huang however looked towards him in question, "You protect her?"
Elizabeth quickly pulled a gun from her shirt and pointed it at Tai Huang's head, "And what makes you think I need protecting?"
"Put that away before you poke someone's eye out," spat Catherine joining the shady group of pirates.
Her dark hair framed her black face under a tricorn hat, her once bright green eyes that were so full of life, now sat empty as if they belonged to a corpse. Jack's coat hid what was certain to be an arsenal of person weapons. Her sword hung by her side and a pistol could be seen tucked into her waistband.
"Honestly, it's really not that intimidating when," Catherine paused looking at the gun carefully as her face morphed into disbelief, "your safety's on."
She rolled her eyes as Elizabeth took her gun away from the man, and looked towards Barbossa, "Really?"
"She has certain assets that may become useful he stated calmly trying to hid the smile that was about to show itself.
Tai Huang suddenly aimed his gun at Catherine not amused by the appearance of yet another outsider. Catherine however hearing the cocking of a gun, quickly pointed her own gun towards the man, a snide smile on her face.
"Observe Elizabeth, the safety is off, the gun is loaded and my reflexes are a hell of a lot faster than his."
Barbossa stepped in between Elizabeth before she blew up Tai Huang's head, "Your Master's expectin' us. An unexpected death would cast a slight pall on our meetin'.
Catherine reluctantly put her gun down and shoved it in her belt. Tai Huang's men looked at her for a moment as if half expecting her to lead the way. After a moment Tai Huang started to quickly navigate their way through the maze of Singapore. Elizabeth sped up to walk beside Barbossa and Catherine.
"Have you heard anything form Will?"
Barbossa answered with caution knowing he was surrounded by Sao Feng's men, "I trust young Turner to acquire the charts, and you to remember your place in the presence of Captain Sao Feng."
"Is he that terrifying?" asked Elizabeth somewhat worried.
Barbossa smirked, "He's much like Catherine,"
"Minus my merciful nature and sense of fair play," Catherine interjected who had been listening to their conversation with much amusement.
The small group of pirates reached a large round door. Tai Huang rapped sharply on the door and a small slit opened up.
"Hoi!" he barked.
The door opened allowing the group to enter. Elizabeth looked around in disgust at the many half naked pirates and the obvious displays of prostitution.
Catherine however seemed unfazed, as did Barbossa, and both quickly gave up their visible weapons. Elizabeth looked at them questionably, but after receiving a harsh glare from Catherine quickly gave up a few weapons and tried to follow Catherine and Barbossa, when Tai Huang held up his hand to stop her.
"You think because she is a woman we would not suspect her of treachery?"
"When you put it that way," Catherine mumbled under her breath.
"Remove, please" said Tai Huang gesturing to Elizabeth's ensemble.
Elizabeth removed her hat and outer coat revealing a leather harness with several guns and hand grenades in it. After placing all the guns on the table, she pulled a small cannon from somewhere on her back and laid it down with the rest of her weapons. Elizabeth smirked when she realized Catherine only had on sword, one pistol and a small knife.
"Good pirates only need one pistol," said Catherine mockingly.
Elizabeth glared at Catherine but when she tried to move past Tai Huang, he held his hand out again, "Remove, please."
Elizabeth looked at him in disgust, and then to Catherine and Barbossa who only looked frustrated that it was taking Elizabeth so long to do what she was asked. Elizabeth quickly complied and removed her pants while trying to keep her shirt low enough to cover herself.
The pirates then were allowed to enter the heart of Sao Feng's bathhouse. Several shots flew over their heads and men leered at Elizabeth who held her shirt securely over her. They stopped in front of a bald pirate who was repulsive in every way imaginable. Barbossa and Catherine bowed politely, Catherine with substantially less flair than Barbossa and Elizabeth quickly followed suit.
" Captain Barbossa. Welcome to Singapore," Sao Feng turned to his servant, "More steam."
She pulled a cord and a huge puff of steam came pouring out of the floorboards. Catherine grimaced at the slightly dank smell as Sao Feng continued.
"I understand you have a request to make of me."
"More of a proposal to put to ye. I have a venture underway and happen to find myself in need of ship and a crew," Barbossa explained.
"That is an odd coincidence," Sao Feng mused.
"Because you happen to have a ship and a crew you don't need?" blurted Elizabeth.
Catherine simply looked at Elizabeth and subtlety shook her head. She may hate Elizabeth, but she didn't want to see her dead. Yet.
"No," Sao Feng replied looking at Elizabeth in confusion, "Because, earlier this day, not far from here, a thief broke into my most revered uncle's temple and tried to make off with these navigational charts. The route to the farthest gate. Wouldn't it be amazing if this venture of your took you to the world beyond this one?"
Barbossa tried to hide the shock of finding out that Will had not succeeded, "It would strain credulity at that."
Sao Feng motioned to two of his men who were standing beside a large tub and the quickly pulled a sopping wet Will out of the hot water. Will sputtered and gasped for breath but gave no indication that he knew the three people standing before him.
Sao Feng pointed to Will, "This is the thief. Is his face familiar to you?" he questioned.
The three pirates shook their heads, knowing the consequences if Sao Feng were to know about their connection to Will.
"Then I guess he has no further need to it," commented Sao Feng.
One of the men moved to kill Will when Elizabeth suddenly gasped in fear of seeing her beloved killed in front of her.
"So, you come into my city, and betray my hospitality." Sao Feng seethed.
"Sao Feng, I had no idea-"
"That he would get caught?" bellowed Sao Feng towards Barbossa, "You intend to attempt a voyage to Davy Jones' locker. When I cannot help but wonder why."
Catherine tossed a piece of eight from her coat pocket to Sao Feng who caught it.
"The song has been sung. We must convene the Brethren Court. As one of the nine pirate lords you must honor the call," Catherine explained in a collected tone.
Barbossa smiled, Catherine was a woman there was no doubt, yet she still contained the power to intimidate even cruel pirate lords such as Sao Feng himself.
"There's a price on all our heads, it is true. Since it seems that the only way a pirate can turn a profit anymore is by betraying other pirates…"
"The first Brethren Court gave us rule of the seas. That rule has been challenged by Lord Cutler Beckett," Catherine pointed out.
"Against the East India Trading Company, what value is the Brethren Court? What can any of us do?" Sao Fen questioned.
"You can stand and fight!" Elizabeth argued with Sao Feng, Barbossa grabbed her arm to stop her from aggravating the pirate, "Get off me. You are Sao Feng, the pirate lord of Singapore. Would you have that era come to an end on your watch? The most notorious pirates from around the world are uniting against our enemy and yet you sit here, cowering in your bath water!"
"Elizabeth Swann, there's more to you than what meets the eye, isn't there? And the eye does not go wanting. But I cannot help but notice, you have failed to answer my question. What is it you seek in Davy Jones' locker?" Sao Feng asked, looking towards Barbossa and Catherine.
"Jack Sparrow" answered Will who had remained silent throughout the exchange.
The two geishas standing behind Sao Feng giggled but were silenced immediately by a sharp glare from Catherine.
Sao Feng however seemed to shake with rage, " The only reason I would want Jack Sparrow returned from the land of the dead… is so I can send him back myself."
"Jack Sparrow holds one of the nine pieces of eight. HE failed to pass it along to a successor before he died. So we must go and get him back," Catherine explained icily. She was tired of bartering with Sao Feng and Barbossa could tell that she was tired of simply talking.
"Is that so? One would have expected he pass it on to you."
Catherine glared at Elizabeth before she turned to Sao Feng, her words were laced with hatred, "He wasn't provided the chance."
Sao Feng was about to answer when he noticed the ink of a man's tattoo running down his arm.
"Weapons!" shouted Sao Feng as every man who was previously relaxing in a bath sprang forward with some sort of knife.
"Sao Feng, I assure you our intentions were strictly honorable," said Barbossa as six swords were shot through the floorboards of the bathhouse.
Sao Feng quickly put his sword to the man's neck, "Drop your weapons or I kill the man!"
Catherine looked carefully at the man in question, "Kill him, he's not our man."
Will looked at the man suspiciously, "If he's with you, and he's not with us… who's he with?
A sudden crashing sound erupted through the bathhouse as soldiers from the East India Trading company burst through the doors and fired upon the first pirate they saw. Catherine quickly slit the throat of two of the soldiers unlucky enough to stand close to her. She soon engaged several others who received the same fate.
Through the commotion of the fight she noticed the redcoats lining up to fire again. With deadly accuracy she pulled a pistol from the back of her waistband and shot a keg of powder effectively killing several of the soldiers but stopping them from firing on any of the fleeing pirates.
Catherine looked around for Mercer, Beckett's notorious right hand man but he was nowhere to be found. The fight was over as quickly as it had started, no soldier that stood before Catherine could live to tell the tale. Her movements were precise and deadly, yet at the same time something to marvel. She walked stealthily towards Barbossa, Elizabeth and Will who were heading towards a ship with the remaining crew of the Black Pearl and several Chinese men.
"You got the charts?" Catherine asked Will.
"Better," he replied handing them to her, "A ship and a crew."
"Where's Sao Feng?" Elizabeth questioned.
"He'll cover our escape and meet us at Shipwreck Cove," Will answered as Tai Huang ushered them quickly aboard a ship.
Catherine once on the ship immediately set to work interpreting the charts while Barbossa started to prepare to sail.
Elizabeth, now fully dressed, walked the length of the ship and was surprised when she saw Tia Dalma surveying the burning wreck of Singapore.
"There's no place left for Sao Feng to cower. Do you think he will honor the call?"
Tia Dalma looked sadly at the vast ocean, "I cannot say. There is an evil on these seas that even the most staunch and bloodthirsty pirates have come to fear."
Tia turned to look at her daughter as she surveyed the charts, her heart breaking at Catherine's desperate look in her eyes. Jack had to be brought back, the survival of many depended on it.