Sparkling Tuna Parrots
(Part 1 of 2)
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The funeral took place under moonlight. By Elizabeth’s orders, the crew extinguished all flames aboard the Empress and gathered on the main deck. The only sound was the creaking of wood and the sloshing of water against the sides of the ship as the pirates stood, row upon row, hats in their hands and heads bowed. Elizabeth was making her way up to the front of the crowd when Chase arrived. He positioned himself in the back, with Sparrow, Christian, and Norrington. The ceremony wasn’t for them, but they’d agreed it felt wrong to continue packing while it took place. There should always be time to pay respect to the dead.
Elizabeth stopped in front of the wheel and faced the crowd. She held a folded paper lantern at her side, and when Chase looked around, he saw most of the crew held one as well. “I’m not familiar with your customs,” she said. “I’m not even from this part of the world. We’ve had only a couple months together, and even though we’ve been through a lot, no one can deny it was a short time. But loss is universal. We all feel pain and sorrow and the guilt of surviving when those we love do not. Just like the thrill of going into battle, the joy of celebrating with friends, the hope of looking to the horizon and wondering what awaits, we meet death as we do life: with a fighting spirit and the knowledge that something greater awaits.”
Tai Huang stepped over with a stick of burning incense in his hand. Elizabeth took it and lit the lantern before passing it into the crowd. Within a minute, everyone held theirs aloft, the flickering glow forming an undulating sea of light.
“Our thoughts and prayers rise with these lanterns. Let their flames light the way of our lost loved ones into the next world and beyond.” As one, the pirates released the lanterns, and they drifted into the sky, receding on the wind until they were so small they resembled a swarm of fireflies.
A rough accounting indicated eighteen of Elizabeth’s crew of twenty-two had family in Singapore during the attack. Relationships ranged from estranged to being the sole provider for the family. On an island so small, Elizabeth and her men were rulers as well as pirates. There were already whispers amongst the crew that the attack had been some form of karmic retribution. Between the loss of their former captain and tales of a sea goddess reclaiming the ocean as her own domain, wild and uncontrollable, the belief was spreading that a curse had befallen the people of Singapore.
“It’s a good thing we’re leaving,” Chase had told Christian as they stuffed changes of clothing into oiled leather bags. For now, Elizabeth’s reputation remained unsullied, but Chase was nothing if not adept at sensing weaknesses in authority. The crew believed Elizabeth to be some goddess in human form, but if their luck did not change soon, it would not be so hard for them to turn on her. When that happened, Chase intended to be aboard the TARDIS and a few millennia away.
As if she knew Chase’s thoughts, Elizabeth stared straight at him as the lanterns vanished into darkness. In the hush that followed, her face seemed to fill the void in sound and light. “Some of you may be wondering why this happened. Myself, I don’t know the reason, but I can tell you what we can rule out. Today wasn’t retribution, for I don’t know any god or spirit who could be so vengeful. It wasn’t payment for our crimes, for how can the lives of innocents take our place?
“I’ve seen the invaders. They are human, just like us. They control powers we never imagined possible, but until we fought Davy Jones at the maelstrom, so did the British fleet, yet we prevailed. We overcame Calypso and the kraken and the Flying Dutchman. Our attackers don’t know what they’ve unleashed from our loss. Singapore lives on in us. Our friends and family live on in us. We’ve mourned them, now we must avenge them!”
She drew her sword, and it glinted under the moon. Pressing the blade against the inside of her forearm, a trickle of blood ran down its length, a stream of black that threatened to be the forerunner of a torrent. “In our blood runs the lineage of lions. For now, we are orphans, but I promise we will rebuild. The city will flourish again once those who committed today’s crimes are brought to justice. Our wrath will be swift and cruel. Our victory will be complete.” She thrust the sword upward. “Together, we remain strong!”
Up until now, the pirates had been still as statues. Now they were a roaring crowd. Swords filled the air as they chanted: “Orphans of the lion!”
“Together, we will crush our enemies!”
“Orphans of the lion!”
“Together, our best days lie ahead!”
“Orphans of the lion!”
She lowered the blade, like a conductor ending a piece. “Honor the dead. All I can promise is that I will let each of you take your revenge. I hope that’s enough.”
Immediately, Tai Huang stepped forward and dropped to his knees beside her. “Captain!” he exclaimed, bowing until his forehead touched the deck. Easy as it would’ve been for the two to have choreographed the move, Chase believed the action was spontaneous and sincere. When the rest of the crew followed suit, Chase and Christian remained standing--Sparrow had shrugged and kow-towed as well--but Christian saluted her, forcing Chase to do the same. From the corner of his eye, he saw tears glistening on Christian’s cheek. He restrained himself from shaking his head, but he couldn’t understand why Elizabeth’s words would appeal to anyone other than the crew. He and Christian weren’t from the island or even the time period. This wasn’t their war or their cause, and besides, if the dead lived on in some other plane of existence, Chase believed that the best way to honor them would be not to join them.
“Thank you.” Elizabeth waited until her men returned to their feet, then gestured at the back of the crowd. “I regret that we don’t have time to attempt to recover the bodies, but if you have any offerings, Christian and Chase will take them before they tender ashore in an hour.”
“What?” Chase said. He glared at Christian. “Did you make promises without me present?”
“I’ll explain later,” Christian replied. He dragged him by the arm back down to Elizabeth’s quarters. Four sacks and a Powerpuff Girls backpack littered the ground between the bed and the door. One of the sacks had straps sewn on so Christian could wear it as his own backpack, while another two were tied together for throwing over Joey. They’d decided they would alternate carrying the last one after Maria adamantly refused to hold anything heavier than ten pounds, claiming she had a bad back. Three belts for tools, weapons, and water bags lay beside the wardrobe where the priestess sat cross-legged amidst a circle of her divining crystals. She wasn’t bound or restrained, which Chase thought to be a huge mistake, but Christian had insisted, and Chase still remembered him taking Elizabeth out with that club of his.
Joey had been left to guard the priestess in their absence, and she leapt to her feet upon their entrance and ran over to Chase, wagging her tail.
“Most of the crew are afraid to return to the island,” Christian explained as they shut the door. “Elizabeth’s giving them an excuse to leave.”
“And right they are to be scared,” Maria said, her eyes shut and her body rocking back and forth. A low keening emitted from her throat. “Angry spirits are loose.”
“Because you killed them,” Chase snapped. “Is your little meditation circle going to protect you from ghosts?”
Her eyes opened with the languidness of a cat waking from a nap. “Yes. Quartz is powerful.” She began drawing shapes in the air with her finger.
Chase rolled his eyes and returned his attention to Christian. “But what about the offerings? We have enough stuff to carry as it is, thanks to our friendly neighborhood witch doctor.”
“Elizabeth’s explained it’s just some incense and paper money that we burn when we set foot on land.”
“Fake paper money.”
“Superstitious nonsense,” Maria said. Concluding the last of her invisible symbols, she gathered up the crystals and placed them in a pouch.
“Look who’s talking,” Chase replied. “Just because you can do a few tricks with your BRAIN technology--which isn’t magic by the way--doesn’t mean the rest of your mumbo-jumbo is real.”
The door creaked open behind him, and Chase jumped. Maria smirked at him, doubtless thinking he believed she had caused it. He knew better, of course, and Elizabeth’s presence in the doorway validated his reasoning, but his heart continued to race. “If you’re done squabbling with your prisoner, I’m ready to depart.”
“What about the paper money you want us to burn?” In Chase’s opinion, they were only half done with their departure preparation.
She raised an eyebrow. “We don’t routinely carry funeral offerings in the cargo. The crew has made do with what they can find.”
“We’re not done packing,” Christian said.
“Yes, exactly!” Chase nodded. Joey jerked her head at him in the robotic feline equivalent of an eye roll.
Spotting the open door of her wardrobe, Elizabeth wandered over and riffled through the silk robes within. “I see you’re not keeping the outfit I lent you,” she told Christian, who was back in his terra cotta warrior uniform.
“It makes me stand out,” he replied flatly. The two of them had borrowed one change of clothing each from the crew, the pirates being unable to spare any more. That still left Maria with only her (now torn) dress. “If you really don’t want it, perhaps for Maria?”
Elizabeth glanced at their captive. “It is hideous,” Maria pronounced. “But I suppose I could roll around in the mud a few times and make it better.”
“Enjoy.” Elizabeth tossed the robe, hanger and all, at the priestess, who caught it with a gingerness that belied her words. “What’s left? You’ve got food, water, clothing, sleeping bags, lanterns, lantern oil, compasses...”
“Weapons,” Norrington spoke up. “They need weapons.”
“You’re serious about teaching them swordfighting?”
Christian’s brows furrowed. “What’s wrong with that?”
“I was renowned for my skill,” Norrington replied.
Elizabeth sighed. “There’s only so much you can do without a body.”
“I assure you, I will be able to make do.”
“Maybe guns would be more handy,” Chase suggested.
“I can give you those as well,” Elizabeth said.
“The sword is an elegant weapon for a more... civilized age,” Norrington said haughtily.
“Not as clumsy and random as a pistol?” Chase replied.
Christian clapped. “Star Wars!” he exclaimed, pointing at Chase and waiting for affirmation.
“What?” he and Norrington said at the same time.
Elizabeth waved a hand to dismiss the thought. “What else do you need?”
“Spelunking gear,” Chase said. “I don’t care what sort of drilling technology they have, we’re going to be climbing and rappelling and dealing with all sorts of problems that stem from traveling underground.”
Elizabeth nodded. “All right, we’ll see what sorts of hooks and ropes we can equip you with. Christian, stay here and watch her. I know you trust Joey, but I was nervous the entire funeral wondering if the ship was going to catch on fire or something. I’ll feel better with a person standing guard.”
Jack Harkness stood guard from atop the Flying Dutchman’s crow’s nest. In truth, he wasn’t doing anything like guarding--he just liked standing in really high places--but he refused to concede the fact. Sure, the ship was crewed by dead men with the power to control mythical sea monsters, but Jack Harkness was a rare commodity, that dashing mixture of physical prowess and mental confidence impossible to create artificially. The Flying Dutchman didn’t know what she was missing without Jack, but now that he was here, he was sure she finally felt complete.
Below, the crew was still at work. Jack had always felt a little lonely being the only person who didn’t need to sleep, but he was starting to think that being around insomniacs was overrated. For one thing, it gave away the fact that no one had anything to do when everyone else was unconscious. Sitting around in a circle staring at each other and twiddling your thumbs just wasn’t fun. Jack could think of other things they could do in such a situation, but this group didn’t seem into that.
Will and his crew also didn’t seem to know what to do with passengers. Having seen them emerge from beneath the surface, Olivia had been quick to warn them against going back under. Between an ornery mortal and a horny immortal, everyone evidently found it best to avoid the situation as much as possible. Leathery Heather had been responsive to Jack’s initial queries, but Olivia possessed the most unfortunate timing.
“So you do a lot of tanning?” Jack had asked, running his finger along the leather strap she had looped over her shoulder in place of a belt.
“I would too if I didn’t need to worry about getting skin cancer,” Olivia said, stepping between them. She seized his arm and pulled him away.
“What are you doing?” Jack snapped.
“I think undead is more accurate,” Heather called to them.
“Whatever.” Olivia didn’t even look chagrined at being overheard.
“Trust me, I’ve met undead and they’re not it. Think of them like a less dashing version of me.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, I can die and come back to life. I thought that was obvious from me falling off a cliff.”
“But, that woman came floating back up...”
“Elizabeth was a special case.” He winked.
Olivia screamed, causing Jack to stumble several steps backward. “You’re all freaks!” she announced and stormed away. Knowing she had no place to go, Jack waited a couple minutes until she circled the ship and returned.
“Are you done yet?” he asked.
Another circle. “I’m impressed, but I bet you can’t make a third round in those heels.”
She did, but by the time she was done, she was staggering and out of breath. “This is not what I expected when we went shopping!” she gasped. Leaning against the railing, she nearly lost her balance, and Jack grabbed her before she went over, pulling her against him.
“This is what you get when you travel with the Doctor.”
“You think I wanted to go? If there hadn’t been a plane falling on me, I’d never have set foot in that musty phone box.”
“When the Doctor gets back, I’ll be sure to have him drop you off immediately.”
“Good. In the meantime, I want you to tell the captain I’m pregnant.”
“Of course not, but how else will he give me his cabin? I’m a model. Being out here isn’t good for the skin, you know. Do you want me to lose my job?”
“We’re in the company of pirates. What makes you think he’ll care?”
“He looks like a soft-hearted schmuck to me. Trust me, I can tell.”
“I suppose you’re going to tell me you’ve done this before.”
Jack groaned. “You are impossible.”
“They were going to leave me so I told them I was pregnant. Now are you going to tell him or am I going to have to do all the work, because I think you telling him would have more weight.”
Jack perked up. “Say that again?”
“I said you need to tell the captain--”
“No, no, the part about faking your pregnancy because a man was going to leave you.”
“Yes. No man’s going to leave the woman who’s carrying his child, duh. Now can we get back to the main point?”
Thinking back, Jack wasn’t sure how the conversation had ended. He had been too busy considering the implications this revelation had for his relationship with Ianto to spare any more time for Olivia. She’d probably stormed off and browbeaten Will into submission because, even if he wasn’t going to admit it to her, Jack agreed with the assessment that Will was, all possible pirate factors considered, a complete push-over.
Jack jumped at the urgency of the voice below and tumbled out of the crow’s nest. When he came back to life, he found himself staring at the deck, but when he tried to push himself up, his hands found air. Realizing that he’d twisted his head, he flailed around until he grabbed a skinny, well-toned leg. From the scream that followed, he guessed it belonged to Olivia.
“A little help here?” he said.
“You owe me a favor.”
Squealing with disgust, Olivia placed her hands on the sides of his head and, with surprising strength, twisted it back into position. A crack resonated through his skull, and his vision flashed for a moment, but then all was good. “Great job, thanks.” As he got up, he glimpsed a brown trench coat that made him snap to attention.
There, standing beside Olivia, was the Doctor. He gave Jack his characteristic toothy grin. “For a moment, I thought it was raining men.”
Jack pulled the Doctor into a bear hug, causing the Time Lord to flail in his grip. “What happened to you?”
“It’s a long story, but I guess I found my way back.”
“They pulled him out of the ocean,” Olivia said.
“Is that what the commotion was about?” Jack replied, thinking about the urgent call. You’d think that they wouldn’t be so surprised after already pulling him from the ocean earlier today.
“Yes,” Will said, joining them. Behind him, Jack noticed the TARDIS for the first time. Water dripped down its frame onto the deck, and seaweed draped over the front of the “Police Box” sign. “Perhaps you and your friends could find more conventional ways of boarding our ship.”
“I must have turned a little too early out of the time vortex,” the Doctor said. “You know how the old girl handles.”
“We picked up his... box... while trawling the bay.”
“Yes, yes, I’m very grateful for that. But, uh, Jack, where is everyone else?”
“I don’t know. We got separated after the bar fight. There were giant--”
“Giant statues attacking the city. Yes, I saw a recording on the TARDIS.” He looked a little worried.
“So what are we going to do?”
Will responded before the Doctor could answer. “We’re going to join Elizabeth’s ship. The last soul got pulled up along with the Doctor’s vessel. We’ll see how many of your friends are with her and track down any who aren’t there. With the Flying Dutchman able to travel anywhere on the seas, I’m sure you’ll be on your way soon enough.”
The Doctor shrugged. “Sounds good to me, but I’ve been busy while I’ve been gone.”
“Let me guess,” Jack said, “we’re going to be here longer than we expected.”
“There’s just a teeny matter of saving the world and restoring the timeline.”
“Of course.” Jack slapped the Doctor on the back. “Good to have you back.”
Olivia smacked them both alongside the head. “I’m pregnant! Get me home!”
Even Jack was a little surprised when the Doctor responded by sticking his face into Olivia’s armpit and inhaling. He followed up by licking her forehead.
“What are you doing?” she shrieked.
The Doctor shook his head. “Just as I thought; you don’t have any elevated hormone levels. I’m afraid you’re mistaken about your pregnancy. Terribly sorry.”
“Besides,” Jack said, “didn’t your cousin get kidnapped?”
She sighed. “Well, of course we’ll save Olli first, but then we’re heading straight home, do you understand? And to after those rampaging pepper pots are gone.”
Jack put his hands up. “Fine. You’ll get no argument from me.”
The Doctor frowned. “You don’t seem upset about your baby.”
Jack and Olivia shared a look of incredulity, then slapped themselves on the forehead when they realized they’d found a small bit of common ground.
The oars disappeared as they dipped into the water, swallowed by the inky blackness beneath the surface. Torches burned again on the Empress, but they were distant and uncomforting, flickering and ephemeral.
"Row faster," Chase poked Christian in the chest. "I feel like the Jaws theme music is going to start up any moment."
"Do you want to row?"
"Absolutely not. I would slow us down. You're more muscular than me."
"Am I more muscular than you?" Elizabeth asked as she operated the second pair of paddles from behind Christian.
"Yes, I daresay you are."
"Hmm, I guess that's about right." She stared at her arms.
The priestess moaned behind him. Chase whirled around, rocking the boat. Christian retaliated by splashing him during his next stroke. "Would you stop doing that?" Chase told Maria. "It's freaking me out even more."
"Ooooooooh," she repeated. But she put the stones she'd been playing with back into a pouch.
"What are they for?" Christian asked. Chase groaned, trying to pretend he wasn't interested, but the crystals were ever so shiny. "I know the quartz is for warding off spirits--"
"You poor child," Maria replied. "How much knowledge have you lost?"
"Er. A lot?"
She upended her pouch and managed to make one of each color fall out before she sealed it again. Shoving Chase to the side so Christian could see her, she picked up a transparent crystal the size of a nickel. "This is quartz. It does more than ward off spirits; it is a source stone, one of three that are direct links to the gods. It amplifies the power of other crystals." She put it away, then picked up two more, one with each hand. In her left, she held a mottled blue stone, long and thin like a piece of bark. In her right was the darkest ruby Chase had ever seen, black enough to be obsidian had a hint of red not burst through from within, glowing like a heartbeat. "The other two source stones. The ruby, it is red like fire and blood. Through it, the gods grant us victory and the power to smite our enemies. The other stone is lapis lazuli. Blue like the ocean, it quenches our rage to provide cool and tranquility. With its power, we subdue people and make them obedient. With these three, the gods answer our prayers, and we are unstoppable."
Elizabeth's face was stony as she listened to the explanation. Chase understood she wouldn't interrupt--this was too good an opportunity to learn more about the enemy--but that didn't stop the boat from going faster and faster. "Listen," he said, hoping to give Elizabeth's blood pressure some time to go down, "all this religious mumbo-jumbo is great, but I have to ask, if these stones are so incredible, why haven't you conquered the world already?"
"That is not a bad question." She sounded surprised.
Chase did his best to keep his tone sincere. "Thank you." He felt it gave him an air of quiet sarcasm and quite liked it. Joey hit him with her tail.
"There are those who believe our duty is to protect what is ours and not seek more."
"That's nice of them."
"They have been overruled. Seven months ago, a new faction gained power, and now we shall at last take our rightful place in the world."
She grinned. "The heathens still have a chance, small though it may be. Long ago, a band of pirates stole the greatest ruby we ever possessed. It is not known how it happened, but the priesthood confirms it is so. I have seen the records myself. The crystal was larger than a grown man and carved with sacred inscriptions. Our prophecies say it will reappear in time to be used against us in the final battle. The gods have willed it so that we may prove ourselves worthy. Otherwise, conquest would be too easy."
The boat jolted as the bottom scraped against sand. Chase nearly fell over the edge and grabbed Maria for support. She screamed and fell on him, sending them both into the surf. Christian leapt out after them, and, of course, helped Maria up, leaving Chase sputtering and alone.
"You know, sometimes I wonder which side you're really on!" he snapped.
"Mine," the priestess said, wrapping her arm around Christian's and sauntering off.
"I wouldn't bet your panties on it," Chase muttered.
"I don't wear any!"
"That's 'cause you lost them. 'Cause you're a gambling addict! And you were wrong!" He stumbled to his feet, yelling at their receding forms. "I'll bet you my pants for your stupid, torn dress! No, I'll do better than that. I'll bet my panties! Wait, I don't have any. I'll bet Cuddy's panties. I'll bet--"
"Catch," Elizabeth said.
"What? Ow!" His pack nailed him in the face, sending him falling back onto the beach. "Damn it, Elizabeth, the bolts and carabiners were in this one."
"Sorry. Christian and Joey took the other ones already. I assumed this one was yours, on account of it being pink and all."
"It is mine."
"Oh? You don't think I can handle carrying bolts and carabiners?"
"Well, they're metal. And metal's heavy."
"I'm not a wimp!"
"My arms are bigger than yours," she said, as though that settled anything at all. "You better get going. Don't forget to burn the offerings."
"I don't think Mr. Proper is going to forget."
She nodded and grabbed hold of the boat, turning it back around. He shrugged his arms through the loops and headed off, his shoes gurgling with each step.
He glanced back. "Yeah?"
"Try to come back alive."
He grinned. "You can bet Maria's lost panties on it."
The Doctor was worried. True, the TARDIS indicated that all his companions were still alive, even if she couldn't tell what condition they were in, but the timeline was seriously damaged. He'd pulled Captain Turner aside to ask about his ship, because a ghost ship ferrying dead souls to some great beyond sounded like something that should not exist on Earth. From there, he'd learned about cursed Aztec gold, a sea nymph, her lover who'd turned into a half-human half-squid monstrosity, and the edge of the world.
That wasn't what worried him, because he'd already been prepared to expect the worst. What worried him was that Will Turner was on the verge of turning their little interview into a full-fledged episode of Oprah. The Doctor could feel the tears coming, and he began sweating in sympathy with the anticipated waterworks. The wedding in the middle of a climactic battle, Will getting stabbed, his pirate friend sacrificing his own shot at immortality to save his life, it was just so dramatic, and Will was getting so worked up. By the time he got to their tender love-making on the beach before separating for ten years, the Doctor didn't even spare a thought for how unhygienic such intercourse could be.
"Do you know who I picked up first? The very first soul I ever pulled out of the ocean?"
The Doctor thought for a moment. His mind first went to that dashing commodore who gave his life to help Elizabeth escape Davy Jones, but Will sounded so choked up that he doubted he was talking about Elizabeth's former suitor. Gratitude didn't run that deep. "Elizabeth's father?" he guessed.
"Yes!" Will's lips quivered. "It's like you're psychic, Doctor. Hmm... Doctor, are you a therapist sort of doctor?"
"No." That was what he should've said. Somehow, his vocal chords turned that into: "Yes, please continue."
"Well, I mean, he'd been adrift an awfully long time. I didn't know what to expect, but I felt it was something I had to do, for Elizabeth's sake. He thought I was dead, too, which I suppose I was. After explaining everything to him, he was silent for the longest time. There was so much I wanted to say to him. I wanted to reassure him that his daughter was ok, that people would watch out for her, that I'd look out for her and I cared about her more than my life itself. But... I couldn't get any of it out. I felt so helpless. At that moment, I saw Elizabeth like her father saw her: utterly alone, and she couldn't even hear us. It was like we were both leaving this world forever.
"At last, he spoke, and I think he could see my thoughts in my eyes, because he just took my hand and said, 'Give her my love.' He was sincere. That was the moment he became my father too. His words were like a lifeline tying me to the future, to the moment I would see Elizabeth again and I could deliver those words to her. 'I suppose it's time to go, then,' he said. 'No point dallying.' That was when I made him the offer. I said, 'Stay with me. Join my crew, and you can see Elizabeth again too.'" Will paused.
"What did he say?" the Doctor asked, pretending he didn't notice the tears dripping down Will's face.
"'It's so cold.' That's what he said. Just, 'It's so cold.' That was when I knew all that time in the water had gotten to him. A part of him was already gone, and there was nothing I could do. So I gave the order to descend. That's what we do with the souls. It's like going back to the locker, but they don't follow. Right before we enter the water, they evaporate, and their souls drift away into the sky. I think it's fitting, like we're drowning in their place, and they're finally free to go." Will's hands trembled as he reached out and took the Doctor's. "Thank you, Doctor. It's... good being able to talk to someone about things."
The Doctor gingerly pulled him into a hug. "There, there."
"WAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!" Will cried, bursting into outright tears and throwing his arms around the Doctor so tightly he couldn't breathe. The Time Lord struggled a little, then hugged him back and started crying as well. "Is... this... part of the therapy?" Will asked between sobs.
"Sure!" the Doctor choked out.
"I'm so lonely!"
"You're so lonely! We're both so lonely!"
"It's like we understand each other on a deep, deep level!"
"You're so right!"
They froze, and the Doctor looked up in time for the door to open, sending torchlight streaming through. After the near-total darkness of Will's quarters, it was blinding, which didn't help reduce the amount of tears the Doctor was dealing with. When he'd finally blinked enough to clear his vision, he saw Jack standing in the doorway.
"Yes, Jack?" the Doctor pulled away from Will. "We were just having a nice chat."
"Yeah, sounded like a lot of fun. I figured I should check in on you before the entire rest of the crew decides to do so."
"Good thinking, yes. Ahem. I've been feeling rather unbalanced since the blow to the head I took in the tavern."
"That would explain the emotional hysteria."
"I am not hysterical."
"Sure. Not to rush you guys or anything, but shouldn't we get going?"
"You get to see Elizabeth again!" the Doctor exclaimed. "You have to tell her."
"I will," Will said.
Jack raised an eyebrow. "Tell who what?"
"Nothing," the Doctor and Will said at the same time. The Doctor gave him a thumbs up from behind his back as they walked past Jack.
Jack Sparrow was rifling through Sao Feng's robes when Elizabeth got back.
"What are you doing!" Tai Huang exclaimed when they entered. "I am so sorry, Lady Elizabeth. I did not know he'd broken into your quarters. I am ashamed."
She patted him on the back. "Don't worry, he does that."
"Ah, Elizabeth," Jack said, pretending he hadn't been caught doing anything inappropriate. "If I had known I would be seeing you, I would've bathed."
"That's quite all right. And if I'd known I was seeing you, I would've prepared a drugged drink, but since I don't have the appropriate herbs on board, I'll have to take a leaf out of Christian's book, so to speak."
"My pleasure," her first mate said, stepping forward. Jack flinched as he raised his hand, pausing only when he realized he wasn't holding anything with which to hit him. Then the light flared and glinted off a piece of metal.
"That's a needle. He has a needle. What can you do with a needle?"
"They call it acupuncture," Elizabeth replied. "Apparently, you can do amazing things to the human body if you know the right pressure points."
"Uh huh, sure, sorry Elizabeth but you'll have to do better tha-- erk." The needle slid into the base of Jack's neck and he collapsed. Blinking wildly, there was little else he could do as Tai Huang patted him down and confiscated the compass. There was no sign of the map, though, and once Elizabeth locked the compass away, she removed the needle.
"That was unpleasant," Jack said, brushing himself off. "The compass won't be any help, you know. The fountain isn't in a direction it can point to."
"What does that mean?"
"Why should I tell you?"
"I could always turn you over to Barbossa. I doubt he's in a bargaining mood."
"Ah. He's around, then?"
"He asked me to find you."
"And you are feeling quite bargainful, are you?"
To Chapter 26: Part 2
Back to Chapter 25: Sometimes a Strange Longing
Summary: Our three pirate ships finally unite and sail toward an island oppressed by a dark presence while the intrepid Ch- characters (Christian and Chase) brave the dangers of the ruins of Singapore. Look, a parrot flying away with the next chapter! Get it!