Pirates of the Caribbean: Bloody Water
Summary: Post Dead Man's Chest. While Will and company are off to save Captain Jack Sparrow, the Caribbean is in turmoil. With the heart of Davy Jones in the palm of Lord Beckett's hand, the pirates of the Caribbean are in desperate need of a hero. And that's where Captain Cecily O'Connor comes in.
Disclaimer: I have no rights to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies or theme park rides or anything else that Disney profits off of. I'm just a poor college student who's bored over her winter break.
Chapter 1: The Sea Ain't Right
The Caribbean was turning orange under the setting sun, and a broad, powerful ship was cutting through its waters, headed north for the mainland. It was a larger vessel, darker than most, but mostly normal looking – all except the sails. The ship flew red sails, which most would say was just asking for trouble. Too bright, too conspicuous, the defiant red color drew conflict the way carrion drew buzzards.
Scrawled across the ship's flank was the name "Bloody Sunrise."
Sandra Church's sea boots pounded on the deck as she crossed the ship, headed for the helm. She was not the captain of the ship, but the first mate. The captain of the Bloody Sunrise was a woman named Cecily O'Connor, who currently stood at the ship's helm. Sandra approached her cautiously.
Cecily was a short woman, yet she somehow always managed to seem taller than she was. Her clothing, ragged from sun and salt, was mostly black. She might fade into the shadows if it weren't for that shock of dirt blonde hair.
At the moment, the captain wore a reflective look that normally would have deterred Sandra from bothering her, but tonight was different. Tonight, she had to ask.
"Cap'n," she murmured. "Where's about we headed?"
"We've got a headin' for Tia Dalma's place," Cecily replied. Unlike Sandra, her accent bore no resemblance to the common women who worked the streets of Tortuga, but was instead a thick Irish brogue.
"Don't ask questions. Just sail."
The captain's tone was surly. Sandra ducked her head and made to leave.
"Wait," Cecily called after her. Sandra stopped in her tracks. "Tell Keely and Piper to get ready fer shore. We're almost there, and I want 'em to come off with us. Tia knows 'em better than me."
There was a hint of apology in the captain's voice. Sandra nodded, letting the earlier nastiness slide off her shoulders. "Oh," Cecily added. "Ye may as well bring Keith too."
"Aye, Cap'n," Sandra replied, and headed off to do her captain's bidding.
Cecily watched her first mate slip away from the helm. Sandra was one of her most trusted crewmembers and oldest friends. The chubby auburn haired woman had been at Cecily's side through good and bad, and Cecily really ought to watch how she spoke to her.
Still, she was short with others even on her best days, and especially lately. Her life as a pirate was a long and impressive resume of crime and destruction. She could steal, pillage, plunder and murder with the best of them. She was famous in her own right, and probably would have been no matter what, simply because she was a woman. But it helped that she was bloodthirsty. There were many who knew and feared her.
It was a long way to come for the daughter of a no account gambler and privateer from the cheap side of Galway, Ireland - and even if it hadn't been a pretty journey, it was an impressive one, and she was proud.
But also worried, because that long impressive pirate's resume meant only one thing to her at the moment: she was on the black list.
She'd never been one to fear the Navy. Sure, if she'd seen a ship of the fleet headed in her direction, she'd rarely confronted it – not if it could be avoided. Still, the Navy had never been the threat they'd aspired to be. When she'd begun sailing, the sea was still too big, the world was still expanding, and the Navy was still struggling to keep up. But now, things were changing. Some blamed it on the shrinking world, the taming of the seas, the advancements in the Royal Navy, the arrogance of the reigning pirate threats. But as report after report reached her ears, detailing the capture and hanging of more and more pirates – not just any pirates, either, but famous, fearsome, legendary pirates – it became clear that no one was safe.
Couple that with the tall tales flying around the sea these days, tales about sea goddesses and beating hearts and undead pirate captains… she didn't believe in wives' tales. Or, she hadn't believed in them, once upon a time.
But there was something dark happening on her ocean, and while she might not know exactly what it was, she did know she didn't like it: not one bit.
Tortuga, two months earlier…
The double doors of the Faithful Bride swung open violently, banging into the wall. Immediately the chatter inside the crowed tavern died away, and every head in the place swung up to ogle the new arrival.
The woman was dressed in a man's clothing, but it was obviously an outfit of convenience, and not an attempt at a disguise. She was flanked by other women, also in men's clothes, and men too (though they were not dressed like women).
The woman in the doorway seemed unaffected by the stares and stepped into the tavern without regarding a one of them. As she made her way towards the bar, entourage in tow, the bar patrons lost interest, turning their heads back to their drinks and resuming their noisy conversations.
She stomped over to the bar, slammed some coin down on the counter, and ordered drinks. Once she and her friends were served, the bartender moved to head off.
The woman caught his arm. "Hold up," she drawled in an Irish brogue.
The man froze. "I don't want no trouble, Captain O'Connor."
She smirked at him, not releasing his wrist. "And neither do I. I just want to know where a certain tenant of yers is this evening. Usually he's sitting down here, at yer counter, and yet this evening he's nowhere to be found. Tell me; does James Norrington not still reside in the rooms above yer establishment?"
"Well, aye… I mean, that is to say, he did."
"He did?" she asked, arching an eyebrow. "And that is to say he no longer does?"
"Not for many weeks now, Cap'n."
"Ah. And why did he leave?"
"He joined a crew."
"A crew? Of pirates?"
"The Pearl's crew."
"Aye. Sparrow's ship."
"Sparrow… Jack Sparrow?"
"Aye, he's the one."
"I heard that ship sank."
"I heard the same, I'm afraid."
Captain O'Connor chewed the corner of her lip, eyes fixed on the shelf of liquor bottles behind the bartender's head. "Will that be all?" the man asked hesitantly.
Cecily's eyes landed hard on the bartender. He flinched. "Ye know who James Norrington was, don't ye?"
"Previously a commodore in the King's Navy, he was."
"I remember well."
"Didn't seem to mind ye all that much."
Her eyes narrowed. Her hand tightened on his wrist. "Is that supposed to mean something?"
"No, no, I was just… the two of ye…"
"He tolerated me, as I did him," she snapped. "Hated what I did, though, and didn't bother keeping that a secret. So when ye tell me that James Norrington suddenly woke up one morning, hanged all his principles and ran off to join a pirate ship… well, understandably, I'm skeptical."
Cecily cocked an eyebrow at the nervous bartender. "Now," she said. "Would there be something else ye'd like to tell me, good sir?"
He swallowed. "Nothing, Captain O'Connor."
"Well… I heard that a new commodore has been inducted into the Navy. By Lord Beckett."
"Who the bloody hell is Lord Beckett?"
"Well, he runs the East India Company, Cap'n."
"Who's the new commodore?"
"Well… if rumors are to be believed…"
He hesitated. Cecily tightened her grip again on his wrist.
"Let us say there are," she growled.
"Then… the new commodore… some say it's… James Norrington."
She stared at him. The bartender squirmed.
"A rehire, eh?"
"If rumors are to be believed."
Silence. Then, a wide cheeky smile blossomed on the pirate woman's face. "Well, thank ye fer all the interesting information, lad," she chirped. "I'll leave ye to yer business."
She let go of his wrist. The man practically ran for the other end of the bar. Cecily was left alone to ponder his news, wondering exactly where the newly reinstated Navy commodore fit into the other changes currently churning up her ocean.
Sandra Church propelled her oar through the murky river water, grunting with the strain. Sitting in front of her with his back turned was a wiry man, approximately her age – neither young nor old – grunting under the strain of his own oar. His dark hair was cropped close to his scalp, and although she could not see his face, she knew a pair of spectacle sat on the bridge of his nose.
His name was Keith Markson, and she'd been sleeping with him for several months now. It was politically unsound, as she was the captain's first mate and he was the crew's elected quartermaster. She stood in for the captain on the rare occasions that the captain could not stand in for herself, and he represented the needs and rights of the crew.
Still, they kept sleeping together. It was doubtful they would be stopping anytime soon.
She glanced over her shoulder at the captain, who was sitting in the front of the boat, perched higher than the rest of them. Sandra couldn't help being unsettled. Once, the captain had little use for fairy tales and witchcraft. Now, she was seeking counsel with a voodoo witch in the midst of a swamp. It was a serious 180, and Sandra wondered if the rest of the crew was taking it as seriously as she was.
At least she was fairly certain the rest of the longboat was equally unsettled. Keely, the ship's master gunner, kept exchanging little looks with Piper, the ship's surgeon. The two of them were more attuned to the supernatural than Cecily had ever been, and even knew this voodoo witch, named Tia Dalma, on their own terms. They also knew that the captain did not believe in such things.
Like Sandra, Keely had been with Cecily from the beginning. She was a slim hipped, willowy girl with long chestnut brown hair, and at the moment, she looked as uneasy and confused as Sandra felt.
The same could be said about Piper. The surgeon was a tiny Chinese woman with shiny black hair and a shy manner. Cecily had found her stowing away on one of the many ships they'd attacked over the years, and upon seeing her treat the wounded without orders and with great skill, had immediately offered her a place on the Sunrise. She'd accepted with as much speed as Cecily had offered. No one knew the girl's real name. When she'd been found, she'd simply called herself Piper and given no other information than that. Sandra had often wondered how the soft-spoken woman had become such a trusted member of the crew, seeing as the captain appeared to have little in common with her.
But Piper was trusted. Sandra suspected that while the crew knew little about the tiny woman, the captain knew plenty. And Piper knew the captain too. She knew how Cecily felt about witchcraft and voodoo. One look between Sandra and Piper was all it took to assure the first mate that Piper was as worried as she was.
The journey upriver ended beneath a ramshackle hut built on stilts, hidden by the large trees and heavy hanging Spanish moss growing along the riverbank. The longboat was anchored to a small dock underneath the roughly constructed tree house.
"Ah, I had a feeling the wind would be a blowin' ye me way," a heavy musical accent announced as the group stepped through the door.
The voice came from the center of the room, where a thin, dark-skinned woman with wild black hair sat at a litter strewn table. She was grinning at her visitors with a mouthful of black teeth.
"I haven't been seein' ye in a long time," she announced. "Cecily O'Connor.
"Tia Dalma," the captain replied. "Just the woman I was lookin' fer."
The captain sounded right at home, and Sandra couldn't understand why. Personally, she wanted out. One look at this hut should have been enough to send any sensible person running back to their longboat. Although warm and brightly lit, anything from dried herbs to dried animal skulls could be found hanging from the rafters, and the bare wood floors were crowded with trunks and cushions and old broken knick-knacks. Sandra couldn't be sure of course, but she was pretty sure a wild boar's head was hanging on the far wall.
"Ah, and I see you have brought Piper and Keely," Tia Dalma arose from her seat and embraced both women. "How have ye been traveling?"
"Just fine Tia, thanks," Keely replied, answering for both herself and Piper.
Sandra felt a sudden pinprick of jealousy. Only her status as first mate had put her on that longboat. When it came to dealing with the voodoo priestess, her help was not often needed.
Tia turned back to the captain. She did not embrace her. Captain Cecily O'Connor was just not the sort of woman you embraced, even if you were a scary voodoo priestess yourself. Sandra, for example, had hugged the captain only once – and she had been serving her for over a decade.
"I 'ave a feelin' that I might be a knowin' why it is ye've come to visit me, Cecily," Tia announced, still wearing her grin.
"Do ye?" Cecily returned, disinterested. "And why is that?"
"The 'eart of Davy Jones."
Sandra looked at her captain in shock. She was not the only one. Since when had Captain O'Connor entertained such fantasies as the legend of Davy Jones and his heart?
Their shock only grew when Cecily grinned and replied, "Well, I knew there was a reason I believed in yer work. Only yer's though."
Tia Dalma grinned back. "And what is it ye're expectin' out o' me?"
"I need to find a certain Lord Beckett," Cecily announced. "And it's hard to do when he's in control o' the bloody sea. So if ye have perhaps somethin' that could… put us on a level playing field, if ye know what I mean."
"Wait," Keith interrupted, sounding skeptical as usual. Sandra bit her lip, knowing Keith was about to infuriate the captain. It never failed really… he was always infuriating the captain. It was both a vice and a virtue; infuriating the captain was never smart, but at the same time it showed how dedicated he was to the crew that had elected him. "What are ye talkin' about, Lord Beckett's in control of the sea? And the heart of Davy Jones? That's just an ol' wives tale."
"Not all old wives tales are false, ye know," Cecily countered. "Some are just… hard to believe."
"It's hard to believe that some old pirate captain cut out his heart and placed it in a chest and then buried it somewhere?" Keith asked incredulously. "Well, hell, I wonder why that would be."
"Are ye second guessin' me, boy?"
"I think Keith just wants to know what ye're getting' us into, Cap'n," Sandra quickly cut in, hoping to diffuse the situation. The last thing she wanted was for Keith to receive the thrashing of his life.
"I'm taking back me ocean," Cecily replied in a growling fashion.
The reply hardly satisfied Sandra, but she was reluctant to press Cecily for details. Fortunately, Keely did it for her - a rather bold move considering her rank, but her history with the captain protected her.
"Cecily," Keely put in. "I think ye're overreacting just a little. Lord Beckett isn't controlling the sea just because his naval forces are pulling in more pirates than usual…"
"Each week, they bring in twice as many as they use to bring in per month!" Cecily snapped. "Ye've seen it! Battered ships, once belonging to fierce pirate captains, rendered as useless as driftwood! Men who were once feared all throughout the Caribbean hanging at the entrance to every harbor! Used to be, mere months ago, the king's joke o' a Navy couldn't catch a smuggler in port! Now they're dragging in pirates from all o'er the sea! And not just any pirates, mind ye. Infamous, bloodthirsty pirates! Ever since that smug royal from the East India Company used his influence to win control over the King's Navy, we pirates have become an endangered species. Ye take the death toll, ye add in Lord Beckett, ye review the tales – tales about sea monsters and mythical pirate captains and sinking ships… ye remember James Norrington? Reduced to a drunkard in Tortuga? Suddenly, he takes a position on a pirate ship? Even though he hates pirates? And then the ship sinks immediately after that, and all o' a sudden, Lord Beckett reinstates him as a commodore! Same pay, same benefits, with personal recommendation from the East India Company? Don't ye see it?"
Sandra didn't see it, and from the looks on the other three's faces, she doubted they saw it either. "I don't see how they're all connected," she said skeptically.
"I could connect the dots fer ye," Tia Dalma spoke. "But first…"
"I know, I know, ye demand payment," Cecily interrupted harshly. She emptied a bag of coin on the table. "For yer information. More where that came from, s'long as I find yer merchandise satisfactory."
Tia Dalma smiled with satisfaction herself. "Captain Sparrow is dead, it is true," she murmured. "And the Kracken is responsible. But Captain Sparrow shall not remain so long."
"Oh please," Keith grumbled.
"Some certain… comrades of his," Tia explained. "They a gone to bring him back from the place he's gone to, and they have a taken a captain who know them waters. Him name is Barbossa."
"Barbossa?" Keith seemed unable to contain himself. Inwardly, Sandra rolled her eyes, wondering when Keith would learn to hold his tongue. "But he's dead too."
"Didn't remain so long, did he?" Tia Dalma returned triumphantly.
Keith rolled his eyes but unlike Sandra didn't bother to hide the action.
"And?" Cecily demanded. "What does this have to do with the things bein' done to me ocean?"
"E'eryt'ing," Tia Dalma replied. "Be'ore he disappeared into the depths, Jack Sparrow was in search of the 'eart o' Davy Jones."
A silence fell. Sandra was skeptical, and everyone else looked the same. Cecily's face, however, was unreadable, and that only served to further worry Sandra.
"And?" Cecily prompted when Tia Dalma failed to continue.
"Well," Tia Dalma said, as though it were obvious. "Jack Sparrow went a lookin' for the 'eart, ne'er came back, and now it seems to 'ave fallen into the wrong hands. Is it any surprise that a somewhere along the way, it may 'ave gotten lost?"
"Or it was taken," Cecily returned.
For a moment, neither the captain nor the priestess spoke, and Sandra didn't know what to make of that. Then Cecily nodded, her mouth set in a grim line, as though her worst suspicions had just been confirmed - which only served to make Sandra more ill at ease.
"Well, in that case," Cecily finally said. "I'll be wantin' that somethin' I spoke o' earlier."
Tia Dalma grinned. "Ah yes. To 'level the playing field,' as ye said. I 'ave just the t'ing!"
She disappeared around a corner. Sandra could hear Tia Dalma banging around and cursing, wondering out loud what she had done with the blasted thing. Suddenly, she heard, "Aha! Found it!"
Then the witch reappeared, a large, rolled-up parchment in her hand.
"What is it?" Cecily demanded.
"It's a map," Tia Dalma declared triumphantly.
Cecily stared at her.
"A special map," Tia Dalma assured her. "It'll lead you to anyone or anyt'ing you want to find. All ye 'ave to do is ask – and drop somet'ing on it – and it will show ye where what ye want lies."
Cecily nodded again. "I see. And ye demand payment?"
Tia Dalma grinned. "Ye promised."
Cecily smiled slightly and emptied a second bag of coin onto the table. Tia Dalma's face lit up and she promptly handed over the map. "Thanks be to ye," she grinned. "May yer travels be… profitable."
"Thank ye, Tia," Cecily returned. The others added their good-byes, and the small group returned to their longboat.
But Sandra wasn't about to let this rest. "Cecily, are ye mad?" she hissed as they climbed back into the longboat. "Ye don't even know if that thing works, and ye gave her all that money…. And ye don't really expect to find the heart of Davy Jones in Lord Beckett's possession, do ye?"
"Aye, Sandra, as a matter o' fact I do."
Sandra wasn't sure what she had been expecting Cecily to say, but that certainly hadn't been it. "Ye are mad," Keith said, staring at her, and Sandra found herself agreeing with him.
"What are ye even thinkin' Cecily? Where is yer head at?" she asked desperately. "Do ye even know what ye're doin'?"
Cecily sighed. "All I know Sandra, is that the sea ain't right. The winds, the waves, the tides, the currents, they're all a changin'. Somethin's wrong here, and I intend to find out what it is."