The rain beat down on the ebony deck harder than musket shots ever could.
Joshamee Gibbs dredged through the climbing water level, as all around him, the writhing mass that was the crew of the Black Pearlheaved and hoed, keeping the ship together through the battering typhoon. As his stout form reached the quarter deck, a figure seemed to rise out of the piercing water droplets and the blinding mist. His drenched black coat fluttered in the wind around him, and his hat stayed perched atop his head only through sheer force of will. At present, he was engaged in a heated wrestling match with the misbehaving wheel, which spun and shuddered beneath his grip. Nevertheless, the captain appeared to be winning out.
"Jack!" Gibbs called, mute beneath the howling air. "Jack!"
The ship was rocked by an almighty wave that threatened to launch Gibbs from the bow, but Jack's quick wrists caught him in the nick of time.
"Captain!" Gibbs heard. "Captain Jack! Always 'Captain Jack', or just 'Captain'!"
Gibbs looked up to see Jack spitting gathering rainwater from his mouth as he bellowed.
"Occasionally, 'Sir', once or twice it was 'Master'! But I demand to be spoken to with the authority that I am d-"
Jack coughed, the briny water building at the back of his throat. Gibbs panicked, fearing the doom of the ship should Jack's attention be otherwise occupied, so he scaled the slippery stairway and came up behind Jack in a flash, gripping him, and forcing the water from his lungs. Jack, expressing deepest gratitude, no doubt, proceeded to beat Gibbs forcefully until he was let go.
"Do I make myself clear, Mr Gibbs!?" The surly scoundrel asked.
"Crystal, Cap'n! Positively Crystal! It's just, the men 'ave been wonderin' why we were still this far into the Atlantic, is all!"
"Gibbsy, my corruptible compatriot!" Jack japed, "We're trying to outrun those East India bastards that have pursued us since Portugal! They'll never find our position now!"
"True, sir," Gibbs admitted, his stance on the deck slipping a little as the ship lurched again, "But we don't even know where we are! We been ridin' around in this storm for the better part of a day now!"
Jack looked contemplative. He stared off into space as Jack is sometimes wont to do, and for a moment, Gibbs considered repeating himself, fearing Jack hadn't heard him. But after a long moment, Jack gave a quick nod, as though agreeing some internal debate, and then whipped the wheel quickly starboard, pulling them through the waves like a sabre through soft guts, and sending Gibbs sprawling against his own weight, and rolling back down the stairs from whence he came.
When he came to, the storm was just a trickle, splattering across Joshamee's face from one of the shrouds. Jack crept down the stairs in his usual shaky stride, and tipped his hat to his first mate, allowing all the water to funnel down to the front corner, and all over Gibbs.
"There, that wasn't so hard, now was it?" Jack smiled.
"No, Cap'n..." Gibbs rolled himself into standing position, grunting with exertion and rubbing his sore neck.
"So where are we?"
"Hell if I know. I propose we wait for the North Star to arrive." Jack offered, taking a carefully concealed bottle of rum from beneath his coat, and hoisting himself onto the edge of the ship, his legs dangling off as he looked at the sun overhead.
"Captain," Gibbs began, "there are other ways of navi-"
"Gibbs." Was all Jack said, before he offered Gibbs the bottle. Gibbs grinned, before taking a swig and handing it back to Jack.
Jack took a long draught, but something cut his mighty swig short. He thrust the lukewarm glass into Gibbs' hands again, pulling his soaking coat off of his arms. When he's adequately disrobed, Jack dived into the smoky blue of the Atlantic, moving deep and fast before Gibbs had even discovered what was going on. Not fussed, the old man simply took another drink of rum and peered over the edge, seeing nothing.
"Yoho!" Jack's voice called, though he was nowhere to be seen, "Bring me in, you dogs!"
Gibbs perked up, gathering his senses, and realized where the sound was coming from. He rushed to the other side of the ship, where sure enough, Jack was floating, having swam entirely under the hull. Gibbs was quick to throw him a rope to safety.
"Mad as a dog, you are, Jack!" Gibbs noted as Jack heaved himself aboard, carrying something.
"Not nearly as mad as you all seem to think, gents." Jack said, throwing the large wooden object onto the deck.
It was a mask, as big as a mans torso, with jutting teeth and cold, blank eyes. Its face was painted in blue and indigo, and plumes of silver fur seemed to billow from it, giving it the appearance of a wild animal.
Gibbs blessed himself.
"Jack, it's my estimatin' that be an idol o'some sort. Probably some pagan god be bound to it, no doubt."
Jack looked at him through squinted eyes of disbelief. He knocked on the mask twice.
"This...is wood, mate."
"Well, aye, but-"
"Wood. And fairly recently made, I'd say. Paint's still good."
"Captain..." Gibbs' voiced trailed off into the wind.
Jack stood, still sopping, and followed his first mate's gaze. The storm they had just passed through was drawing back, like a curtain upon the world, and the fog was revealing something in the distance. At first, Jack thought it another ship, but as the fog dissipated, it was revealed to him as a tiny island, no bigger in size than the Pearl herself, formed of harsh, jagged rocks. Jack spun on his heel, a near-perfect drunken pirouette. He discerned that the island was the only land for miles around, and something about those rocks beckoned him. He waved his ringed hand in the air.
"I want four men in a boat. Now."
A moment later, and Jack, Gibbs, and two able-bodied crewmen were on a leaking dingy, moving through the eerily calm sea towards the island.
"Cap'n?" Mr Gibbs' voice finally broke the long silence.
"Hmm." Jack mumbled, never taking his eye from the sharp stone sentinels that peeked from the waves ahead.
"I was just inquirin', why're we headin' towards that pile of rocks?"
"I'm not sure, I appear to have something of a hunch." Jack's answer, surprisingly did not fill Gibbs with hope.
After a few more tense seconds of expectant silence, the stones seemed to grow over them as their lifeboat docked on the black, stony shore.
Jack was the first to disembark, strutting around, rifling through the onyx pebbles that seemed to form the island floor. He meandered further into the island, through the labyrinth of rock, his hands poised up at eye level like two waiting falcons, ready to snatch prey at a moments notice.
From the beach, the crew watched Jack disappear. Reappear. Disappear again. Reappear from the other side. Mumbling to himself all the while.
"The captain..." the younger of the two crewmen piped, "is he always like this?"
Gibbs rolled his eyes, new recruits, just shanghaied from Tortuga.
"No. Other times, he has 'off' days."
Gibbs followed Jack behind yet another of the stony plinths, fretting to his captain about how they had obviously landed on a pile of useless rocks.
Jack pranced over one of the fallen stones as the two crewmen came running to see the source of the shout. Jack gripped at a twig that had grown diligently around the rock, and found a small clump of white hair. The same white hair as the mask. He passed the hairball to Gibbs, who, disgusted, passed to to one of the crewmen, who passed it to the next.
Jack had crouched down, and was examining a footprint he had found in the black sand. It was small, about half the size of his own foot, and it was unmistakably human.
"Awful dainty pagan demon, we're dealing with here, Mr Gibbs."
He turned to display the print to Gibbs, but as he did, he spotted something on the rock overhead. In an instant, Jack's pistol was in his hand, and the shape had whipped itself away. The captain sprang up, and gave immediate chase, while the two crewmen flanked around the other side of the stone.
As they passed the grey monolith, the found Captain Jack, with his flintlock pointed right at their target, a young girl.
She was, perhaps, in her early to mid-twenties. Her skin was the colour of the finest creamy teas of Europe, and her hair was shining platinum. When she looked between her pursuers in shock, they could see the bright, amazing blue of her eyes, and the strange blue tattoo that adorned the right side of her face. She was immodestly clad in a simple skirt and a blue cloth bikini, and she clutched in her hand an ivory spear.
Jack was waving his hand slowly to them while he holstered his own pistol.
"It's alright, love. It's alright..."
Jack took off his own coat, and stepped cautiously forward to the girl. At first, she almost ran, but Jack held her gaze with his own hypnotic eyes, and took another step forward.
He wrapped the coat around her shoulders, and took her under his arm, leading her towards the rowboat. As he passed Gibbs, the two locked eyes, and the captain delivered his instructions.
"Have my quarters readied."