Shipwreck Cove may have a fairly unoriginal name, but it certainly lives up to its description. One might be able to read a history of piracy in the Atlantic Ocean in the jumble of wrecks that have been lashed together to form the halls of the Brethren Court -- Spanish and Dutch and Portuguese and French and English ships, and some ships that defy a single national identification, all stacked like a tottering woodpile's worth of kindling into a makeshift fortress. Anything of value from these wrecks has long since been salvaged and hauled away, but the fortress is a testament to the dangers faced by those who sail the seas.
It is also a reminder of why, once upon a time, nine pirate lords made a reckless and some might say foolhardy decision to attempt to bind the seas to their will.
Whether they agree or disagree with that choice made so long ago, those of the current Brethren Court have not forgotten it. They have heard the call, they have been summoned -- some, in this case, from beyond the grave and from beyond the world's end.
Something must be done.
(It remains to be seen whether they will actually agree
on what that something will be.)
Barbossa surveys the gathering of pirates with a mix of scorn and a hint of pride. Yes, they are a bunch of stubborn, murderous, selfish bastards, but that makes them his exact kind of people. And they have held sway over the seas for decades despite their differences. As usual, he seems to be the designated spokesman because, let's face it, who could be better than him for making speeches?
"I convene this, the fourth Brethren Court."
Even though Sao Feng hasn't showed up yet, Barbossa knows that the sooner they start, the lesser the chance of the meeting degenerating into pointless bickering, as things are wont to do among pirates.
"To confirm your lordship and right to be heard, present now your Pieces of Eight, my fellow captains."
It's a good thing that the rest of the Pirate Lords hate the chore of organizing these meetings, isn't it? It allows Barbossa to have one of his own men collect the Pieces of Eight. He watches as Ragetti passes around the long, wax-encrusted table, the voices of Pintel and Gibbs hovering at the edge of his hearing. Finally, the wooden-eyed pirate is back at the head of the table and he can retrieve his own Piece of Eight, which is kind of a relief to both himself and Ragetti, no doubt.
He turns towards Jack as Villanueva points him out, and though Sparrow steers the conversation away from his own Piece of Eight, Barbossa notices him fiddling with the small coin at the end of one of his braids.
It is one thing to read about such things. Another, to be there in person.
The latter far outweighs the former. Wellard is avidly listening, and carefully watching, taking in any and all details of Shipwreck Cove and the town built of the hulks of sailing vessels--
And of the crowd of people gathered around the table at the meeting-- the Fourth
meeting of the Brethren Court, as Barbossa decrees, calling everyone to attention. The pieces of eight are collected-
Wellard smiles wryly at Gibbs' explanation to Pintel. The random objects also had the benefit of being overlooked by others- specially others who would be more interested in taking any and all pieces of money, rather than whatever people happened to have in their pockets at the time. Hiding in plain sight, as it were.
... Even more so when hiding as someone's eye. He winces, at that.
As the room fills with people, it's soon also filled with the angry snarls of temper and bickering, until Barbossa attempts to impose some sort of order on the gathering by banging a piece of shot on the table.Aye, you old scoundrel, you always did like being the one in charge, didn't you? 'Course, if I'd realized that before 's likely I'd not have had the entirely too memorable and decidedly unpleasant experience of watching you sail away with me Pearl. Twice.
Jack himself is preoccupied with examining the sword-stabbed globe, each blade plunged through water into the earth below as a sign of each pirate lord’s rule over the seas they sail. He listens with only half an ear as the roll is called and the pieces of eight are collected, until--
He turns away from the globe to face the Court and grins at the assembly.But now let's see just how sharp you really are, mate.
For all the beaded braids he wears, and all the trinkets threaded through his hair, there's one in particular that's much more than it seems-- and that's the one Jack touches now, toying with the coin fastened there. Just a touch, almost as if in mocking salute, and then he spreads his hands wide as he argues,
"Might I point out that we are still short one pirate lord? And for my part I have to say that I'm content as a cucumber to wait until Sao Feng joins us."
"Sao Feng is dead!"
He's not the only one to whirl around at this. Elizabeth Swann stands at the door, surrounded by the crew of the Empress
"He fell to the Flying Dutchman
As the room erupts in dismay and dissent, she strides in and stabs her own blade into the globe, and Jack's jaw drops open in shock.
"He made you
captain? We’re just giving
the bloody title away now!"
It's an impressive and diverse array of people. Or at least, Nymphadora thinks most of them are people: two or three look like they might actually be warlocks or hags, but she doesn't plan on investigating that suspicion any further.
Instead she stands just behind Elizabeth, hand on her wand, and listens. She's no pirate, at the end of the day, so all she can do is a) act like she knows what she's doing, and b) look as scary as possible. Her swollen midsection doesn't exactly help with this, so 'Dora takes a few liberties with her face and makes her already-sharp features just a little more hawk-like. Can't hurt.
She'll only have one chance.
One chance to be heard. One chance to make them understand the danger they face. One chance to ensure that they never look upon her as a useless little girl playing dress-up in clothes provided by a dead man.
The odds that they'll listen aren't terribly high, but a captain doesn't shrink from a challenge.
That in mind, Elizabeth stands in the shadows and studies the Brethren Court, awaiting the opportune moment. She finds, not for the first time, that the tales she once treasured never had the details quite right. Yet she can't deny the thrill of being here, about to take another step away from her former life to join their ranks, and her heart skips a beat when she realizes Jack has just presented her with the perfect opportunity to announce her presence.
"Sao Feng is dead!" she calls out in a clear, self-assured voice. Flanked by Tai Huang and other members of her crew, she steps into the light cast by hundreds of dripping candles. "He fell to the Flying Dutchman
The room erupts in chaos at the news. Aware that if she loses them now, she might as well sail out to meet Beckett alone, Elizabeth strides forward and unerringly plunges her sword into the only empty slot on the globe: the South China Seas. Jack makes a quip about her new title, but she ignores him and approaches the table with as much confidence as she can muster, determined not to offer the Court any reason to suspect her of weakness.
“Listen. Listen to me!" she demands, and the noise starts to subside. Elizabeth doesn't celebrate prematurely, however. She knows it's only a temporary advantage. "Our location has been betrayed. Jones is under the command of Lord Beckett. They're on their way here."
"Who is this betrayer?” one man asks -- not, to Elizabeth's mind, focusing on the most salient detail.
Barbossa growls, "Not likely anyone among us."
Now that she can see the pirates on both sides of the table, Elizabeth feels her heart twist when she realizes who is conspicuously absent. "Where's Will?"
"Not among us," Jack is quick to say, and she isn't quite sure what she thinks about that.
"And it matters not how they found us," Barbossa continues. "The question is what will we do now that they have?”Finally.
"We fight!" Elizabeth bursts out, fiercely determined, for this is the proposal she had planned to put before the Court, albeit with more style.
Le Capitaine Jean-Sebastien Marcel Chevalle can only walk amongst the pirates of the Brethren Court with the poise his position demands.
With an eye falling on his...fellows, in turn, he seems to be the only one caring enough to do so. Barbossa
even seems to be giving the event more solemnity than the rest of the people gathered.Not that anyone can expect much from that vache espagnole maudite Villanueva to begin with.
And then, in a whole other category of incredulity, this new...capitaine, all blonde and presumption, declares that they should fight the Trading Company.
Le Capitaine Chevalle laughs, loudly and broadly, and the other pirate lords join in.
It's the only moment of solidarity the Frenchman expects.
The arrival of miss Swann and her news of Sao Feng's death cause a great deal of turmoil among the Court, but Barbossa is far less surprised than Jack or the others at Sao Feng's decision. After all, what greater honour for a dying man than having a goddess be his successor? The outrage slowly turns into fear as she reports the betrayal of their location and the Dutchman's
approach. To Barbossa, that's good. He can use the Brethren's fear to his advantage. He doesn't react when Jack all but cracks a joke about Turner's treason. It doesn't surprise him in the least, after what the whelp has done already. A man so obsessed with one goal is always dangerous, but when such a man believes himself to be morally above those he betrays, as is the case, he will stop at nothing. Neither does he join in the general laughter at "Captain" Swann's suggestion that they fight. Desperate and ill-conceived as it is, he would rather die out on the open seas than cower and wait for the East India Company to come smoke him out of this so-called "fortress". Now is the time to expose his plan to the Brethren. Now that they doubt, and fear, and have to choose between an unwinnable fight and a less-than-enjoyable and potentially fatal siege.
"There is a third course."
He smirks faintly as the Lords' gazes turn towards him. Ah, the ability to command attention with but a few well-placed words. He starts to pace around the table as he speaks up.
"In another age at this very spot, the first Brethren Court captured the Sea Goddess and bound her in her bones."
He waits for the Pirate Lords to bask a little in their smug satisfaction at that very smart move of theirs, and then shakes his head.
"That was a mistake. Oh, we tamed the seas for ourselves, aye, but opened the door to Beckett and his ilk!"
The hatred that slips through in his tone and his face isn't feigned at all. The arrogance of the man, trying to master the whole of the seas for himself. Barbossa has a pirate's honest hatred for men of the law, men like Norrington or Governor Swann. But for those who hide behind the façade of the law a heart more black and a soul more rapacious than any pirate's he holds a deep, burning hate which goes hand in hand with contempt, each heightening the other.
"Better were the days when mastery of seas came not from bargains struck with eldritch creatures, but from the sweat of a man's brow and the strength of his back alone. Y'all know this to be true!"
Yes, magic can seem to make things easier, effortless, but there's always a price to pay. Magic owes no loyalty, bows to no Code, it serves any man what happens to know the right... Leverage, and will gladly turn upon its former masters. And in their complacency, the Brethren have been taken by surprise by one such man.
One by one they laugh at her, and Elizabeth is afraid this is the end: a lost chance to make them see reason. The proud, imposing woman on her left, a pirate lord, insists that Shipwreck Cove is an impenetrable fortress. The others agree. Gripping the edge of the table, Elizabeth silently calls them all
ten types of pigheaded, wobbly-legged bilge rats.
Except for Barbossa. He effortlessly commands their attention -- Elizabeth might be jealous if she weren't so intrigued -- and states, "There be a third course. In another age, at this very spot, the first Brethren Court captured the Sea Goddess... and bound her in her bones." His voice has a rhythmic quality to it, like the song itself, and Elizabeth unconsciously leans forward to catch every word. "That was a mistake. Oh, we tamed the seas for ourselves, aye, but opened the door to Beckett and his ilk! Better were the days when mastery of the seas came not from bargains struck with eldritch creatures, but from the sweat of a man's brow and the strength of his back alone. You all know this to be true! Gentlemen! Ladies. We must free Calypso."(With all nine pieces of eight, you will be free.)
Wide-eyed, Elizabeth is wholly caught up in his speech and the memory of Sao Feng’s last words, and pays little attention to the resulting cry of dissent.
Tai Huang steps forward to declare, "Sao Feng would have agreed with Barbossa,” and she's mildly annoyed that she knows it to be true. Sao Feng’s posthumous opinion sparks further argument, and soon punches are thrown and pistols are fired.
Elizabeth eyes the commotion with growing disbelief. "This is madness!"
“This is politics," Jack tells her.
“Meanwhile our enemies are bearing down upon us," she retorts.
“If they not be here already,” adds Barbossa, ominously.
Elizabeth scowls. Don't they realize their only hope is to stand together?
"Gentlemen... Ladies." And in saying so he leans close to miss Swann, noticing with a certain satisfaction that she doesn't pull back. Good. Maybe Sao Feng's choice wasn't such a bad idea. Maybe the change she had been hinting at for some time has finally come to pass.
"We must free Calypso."
There is something wrong, he notices immediately. The silence is too heavy, the glances too pointed... The tables have turned against him. Quickly, factions are formed, with Sao Feng's lieutenant expressing his dead captain's view, different from the current Lord of Singapore's. Funny, what will "Captain" Swann think of this indiscipline? A moment later, Villanueva and Chevalle have started a fight that soon spreads all around the table, the crews of the Pearl
and the Empress
the only ones to keep their calm. Yes, this feels so much more like what you would expect from the Brethren Court...
Finally, his patience is spent and he climbs upon the table and fires a shot into the ceiling, bringing the fight to a halt to try and speak some sense into the hard piratical heads. And right then, Jack interferes.
"... and in her gratitude she will see fit to grant us boons."
He's been toying with the iron chain attached to the piece of shot while they argue, a distant, thoughtful look in the black eyes, but at this Jack interrupts.
"Boons? Whose boons? Your boons? Utterly deceptive twaddle-speak, says I."
If there's any single person in the room who knows about twaddle-speak, it's Jack Sparrow. The hall grows absolutely silent for a moment while the pirates take that in until Barbossa breaks the quiet to say, dryly,
"If ye have a better alternative, please share."
"Cuttlefish." Everyone stares blankly at Jack, who looks right back at them.
"Let us not, dear friends, forget our dear friends, the cuttlefish." He starts making his way through the crowd, mincing along the side of the table and addressing each of the pirate lords in turn. "Hang 'em up together, and they'll devour each other without a second thought. Human nature, isn't it?" he asks one gap-toothed and staring man, before moving on without waiting for an answer. "Or, well, fish nature."
By now everyone's listening as Jack talks, gesturing to accent his words. He sets a hand on Mistress Ching's shoulder, ignoring the sudden bristling of her crew as he looks around at them all, and says, pointedly,
"So yes, we could hole up here, all well-provisioned and well-armed, and half of us would be dead within the month." A beat. "Which seems quite grim to me any way you slice it." There's a murmur of agreement at that.
"Or, as my learned ... colleague--" Gold glints from a tooth as he flashes a wicked grin at Barbossa. "--so naively suggests, we can release Calypso. And we can pray that she'll be merciful."
"I rather doubt it."
There's not a shred of doubt in the words themselves; in fact, there's an odd certainty, one that rings out through the assembly. They acknowledge this with renewed quiet, leaving Jack free to continue,
"Can we in fact pretend that she is anything other than a woman scorned, like which fury hell hath no? We cannot. Res ipsa loquitur
, we are left with but one option."
Jack winces slightly as he concludes, "I agree with-- and I cannot believe
the words are coming out of me mouth-- "
He throws out a hand, pointing down the long table, while everyone turns to look.
Good Jack, old Jack, always good at this, isn't he? Playing to an audience, making the words up as he goes, meandering his way to a point that is, as usual, unexpected. Fighting. Jack Sparrow suggests fighting. Jack Sparrow agreeing with miss Swann. Now this is odd.
Barbossa thinks it over. It -could- have worked. Against other foe, it could. The combined pirate fleets' onslaught would drive almost any enemy back, and though they can't hold a concerted effort for long, it could earn them enough time to retreat and scatter, forcing the enemy to spread their forces. Yes, it could have worked, and the other Pirate Lords seem to see as much. But they don't realize their mistake. They don't see Cutler Beckett's single-mindedness, his unlimited greed. He won't stop pressing the attack. He will come at them with a fleet so monstrous that there will be no chance of forcing them to retreat, with the unsinkable Dutchman at the front, and press on until there isn't one pirate ship left.
So of course, he has to stop this. And he does so by invoking the Code and its keeper. Jack may be very good at working the crowd, but he could never be arsed to keep the rules in mind, could he? Or the "guidelines" as may be the case.
"Sri Sumbhajee proclaims this all to be folly! Hang the Code! Who cares about—"BANG.
The silence in the wake of the shot is instant, and everyone turns away from the crumpled corpse to face the man who shot him.
(Everyone, that is, except Jack Sparrow, who all of a sudden looks decidedly ill.)
Captain Teague steps forth to the edge of the raised deck outside his personal chamber and casually blows the smoke from the barrel of his pistol as he surveys the assembly. In a deep, resonant rumble, he proclaims,
"The Code is the law."
No one looks inclined to argue. Slowly, the pirates resume their places while Teague descends. He approaches the table, walking up behind Jack, who for some reason is now looking sicker than ever.
"You’re in my way, boy."
Jack moves with alacrity to stand at his side, and Teague almost smiles.
Almost.Good lad, Jackie.
The massive volume of the Pirate Code – as set forth by Morgan and Bartholemew — has been brought forth and unlocked, and the great pages duly examined—first by Teague, and now by Jack Sparrow, while Gibbs explains in an aside to Wellard and the others exactly why this poses a difficulty to Jack's plan.
"See, the Pirate King is elected by popular vote," Gibbs says. "And--"
"--and each pirate only ever votes for himself," Barbossa finishes, with satisfaction.
Jack finishes reading the page and looks up at the room.
"I call for a vote!"
He's not to be swayed from it, either, even though the assembly argues stridently with him while Teague wanders over to a chair and begins to pick out a tune on his guitar. Jack remains insistent on a vote, and finally the pirate lords heave a sigh and begin to cast their lots, one by one.
"Ammand, the corsair!"
"Capitaine Chevalle, the pitiless Frenchman!"
"Sri Sumbhajee votes for Sri Sumbhajee."
Elizabeth shrugs. "Elizabeth Swann."
And then the order of the vote is back to the one who called it. Jack grins.
The Pirate Lords all vote- and as Gibbs and Barbossa had mentioned, each and every one of them voted for him (or her) self. It is almost a roll call of infamous names from stories and legends- all up until Jack votes for Elizabeth.
Any comment Wellard has to make on the subject is lost to the general uproar. It still takes several moments- while everyone else is still shouting, to realize exactly what Jack just did here. He did not vote so much for Elizabeth, as he voted for someone who also wanted to fight against the East India Company. Wellard is already thinking over this before silence descends upon the court with the threat of Teague and the Code.
Hopefully, Jack knows what he is doing.
Nymphadora's eyes momentarily widen, and then she schools her expression into one of deep smugness. Yeah, that's right,
her face seems to say. My captain's the Pirate King. Wanna make somethin of it?
Not, it should be clarified, that 'Dora hopes anyone does
Mistress Ching may be failing in her sight, but all of her other faculties are as sharp as ever was. Even though she cannot truly see the face of the little slattern who has taken Sao Feng's place at this Court, the girl's voice and temperament mark her as a barbarian and an outsider -- and not nearly as much of a threat as she would like to pretend she is.
In casting his vote for this sei gweipor
who calls herself "Captain Swann", Jack Sparrow has proved that his wits are as cracked as ever and that being dragged back from the dead was clearly more trouble than he was worth. But the Pirate Lord of the Pacific Ocean is not such a fool as to think to go against the Code, and so Mistress Ching will abide by the decision.
Perhaps, she considers, it may even work in her favor. Sao Feng had been an worthy adversary in the South China Sea, even if he did not stand up to the East India Company as he should have done to drive the filthy barbarian scum out of their waters for good and all. Now that he is dead, and a new and entirely inexperienced captain has taken his place....
Well. It may be worthwhile to keep Captain Swann alive for now.
It will make things so much easier later on.
"Very well. What say you, Captain Swann, King of the Brethren Court?" Mistress Ching asks, watching Elizabeth expectantly.
Everyone is watching her expectantly. She can feel their eyes boring into her: the other pirate lords and select members of their crews. Even Captain Teague has stopped picking at his guitar. They watch and wait for her decision; wait to see if she'll flounder or hold her head high under the weight of this new authority.
Nothing had gone as planned. Tai Huang had reluctantly warned her to expect the unexpected at a gathering such as this; while Elizabeth, having some experience with pirates, understood and appreciated the advice, she’d still believed she could convince them of the wisdom in standing united against a common enemy. Strangely, Jack had agreed with her. She hadn't counted on his support, and as she watched him start to sway the Court with his peculiar logic -- fight to run away, indeed; sometimes Jack's cleverness has nothing to do with luck -- Elizabeth had felt a rush of fondness and wondered if he might be ready to forgive her. She dismissed the thought a moment later, deciding she'd be willing to bet her new ship that Jack was up to something, and her plan temporarily aligned with his.
Barbossa, perhaps sensing that his poorly received idea to release Calypso was losing any chance of success, had reminded the strange assembly that an act of war could only be declared by the Pirate King. Elizabeth is tempted to smile as she recalls his face. Familiar as he is with the Code and the traditional problem of a popular vote among pirates, he must've thought he had Jack well and truly keel-hauled. But he'd underestimated Jack. So had Elizabeth.
The Code: Elizabeth had been filled with awe at the sight of the dusty, waist high book. Set forth by Morgan and Bartholomew, this
was the source of legends and much speculation, and she wasn't alone in her reverence. Captain Teague -- who bore an unsettling resemblance to Captain Sparrow -- practically demanded it. Jack, keenly avoiding the Keeper of the Code, had announced that Barbossa was right. The lack of concern in his voice should have warned them. When a vote was called and each pirate lord spoke his or her own name, Jack did not. Jack voted for Elizabeth.
And no one had been more surprised than Elizabeth.
A newly made Captain, she came here to convince the pirates to fight together. Now she's the Pirate King -- undisputed, if only because no one present wishes to suffer the consequences of not keeping to the Code -- and must name the course of action for the entire Brethren Court. Elizabeth straightens, thinking it's not just her title that's changed; she has as well, and she rather likes the result.
"Prepare every vessel that floats," she commands. "At dawn, we’re at war."
Elizabeth glances at Jack. He nods, approval in his eyes, and she thinks that they might survive this yet.
There is a certain feeling of kinship from Barbossa towards Teague. They are both old men, both have to thank for much of their survival the aura of fear they keep and their deep, constant search for knowledge. And both of them like spectacular entrances. The Pirata Codex is brought forth, and the right entry found. Barbossa is right, Teague declares, and the Spaniard bows graciously to him. Only the King can declare war, and everyone knows just how unlikely an election that would be. The Brethren will have to agree to Barbossa's plan, out of a lack of other option. In fact, miss Swann and Jack may have actually helped, by showing just how moot the other possibilities are.
Still, Jack calls for a vote. Always playing your charade to the end, eh, Jack...? Too caught up in his own scheming, Barbossa doesn't notice Jack's smug little grin until it's too late. Two votes for Elizabeth Swann, and Barbossa knows better than to protest. Teague wouldn't bear with it, and besides, you don't mess with the Code when it's the only thing keeping a minimum of civilized entendre to this meeting.
Instead he waits while Mistress Ching addresses the new King of the Brethren Court, knowing fully what her answer is going to be, and in the ensuing confusion as the Court cheers for the same war they laughed about not too long ago, he gives Ragetti and Pintel a signal and they make off with all seven of the collected Pieces of Eight as the Court dissolves, the Pirate Lords heading back to their ships to prepare for the incoming battle.
It always pays to have a backup or three in place. Going into any situation with just one plan is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.