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Pirate Legends

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19. Moonlight Curse: Part I

Echo’s dead body lays on the ground. Valek’s two soldiers then make off with Treasure in their grasp. IR-44 makes its way through the forests, and sees Echo’s dead body. IR-44 scans around, accepting the grim situation before it. It then realizes Treasure is missing, and spins its head. It catches Valek’s two soldiers running off with Treasure. It chases right after them, wanting to avenge its former rebuilder and finish its mission by protecting the creature.

The soldiers run along the coast, trying to reach back to the shootout site. One of the soldiers looks at Treasure in its arms, as it looks terrified.

“What is this thing?” The soldier asked.

“Don’t know, but you know how much the admiral wants it, so don’t lose it!” The other soldier snapped back.

“I wish it would stop looking at me, it’s weird…” The first soldier said, seeing Treasure’s eyes as they keep walking.

The soldier then hits Treasure on the head, making it yelp. The soldier laughs at its pain.

“That’s enough fun, I’m pretty sure the admiral wants this thing alive, sorry.” The other soldier reminded.

As the two keep walking, gun shots are fired at them from behind, startling the two. They turn around to see IR-44 in full pursuit and wanting vengeance, coming right for them.

“What the hell is that?” A soldier asked, opening fire at it, but the bullet only gives a slight pinch to IR-44’s steel armor.

IR-44 then jumps, avoiding more gunshots. It lands in front of the two and begins spinning around, opening fire. The soldiers ducks for cover, trying to avoid the rabid fire shots. IR-44 then stops spinning. The robot then shoots at both soldiers, as they fall to the ground, dead. IR-44 then picks up Treasure, which tries to crawl away.

“Echo gave me a mission to protect you and I must complete it. You will be safe with me.” IR-44 spoke, as it puts Treasure in the bag on its back.

IR-44 then heads off back to the shootout sight.

At the shootout sight, Mack and his crew look at the army of Valek’s soldiers before them. They stand there menacingly and ready to slay them by firing squad. The soldiers Valek sent away then return with odd machinery he had ordered them to get, which he will use to absorb Treasure’s powers.

“Good job, keep that safe until the treasure is delivered to us.” Valek ordered them, as they take the equipment off to the side.

“That’s a lot of soldiers…” Jen said, looking out.

“We fought our way through his troops on the ship, and we handled ourselves fine, but not that many…the odds not be in our favor right now.” Higgs said, not liking their odds.

“What’s the plan now, captain?” Sawyer asked Mack, worrying.

Mack keeps looking out from the deck, trying to devise a new plan in his head. 

“You cannot hide there forever. Sooner or later, you will have to come out. Do not even think about trying to escape through ships. The Crimson Devil’s rudder chain is disabled and only I have the key to get to its room.” Valek revealed, holding the key.

“Damn, there goes one plan…” Mack sighed, as this annoys Sawyer.

“Surely you must have other plans…right?” Juliet asked, worried.

“Of courses, of course! I’ll improvise them as I go along, like I have been doing during this whole crazy adventure.” Mack confessed.

Juliet sighs to herself. Perhaps the tales of the legendary Captain Mack Stark were exaggerated.

“That’s reassurin’.” Sawyer replied sarcastically.

“In addition, my crew has another ship waiting for you behind. I know your crew has commandeered the Eclipse Pearl by now, so I’ve assured they will see to that.” Valek continued, pointing to the HMS Diamond behind them.

Mack’s crew all turn around, seeing the Diamond controlled by Valek’s crew, and ready to open fire on them. The pirates on the Eclipse Pearl also look to see the Diamond behind them, annoyed.

“I’d suggest you bold buccaneers hold your fire or I will order the Diamond to set this beautiful ship ablaze.” Valek continued coldly, having them all at a checkmate.

“…He’s smart.” Shelly said, frustrated, but admiring the man’s intense naval knowledge.

“Are we really holding fire?” Merlin asked.

“We kind of have to for now. We're low on ammunition and who knows how much they have ready to fire at us.” Jen replied, annoyed, not liking the situation either.

IR-44 gets closer to the site, as it sees the soldiers lined up from the forests. It stalks around, still holding Treasure safely in its bag. It looks for a perfect point to enter and strike them down.

Meanwhile, Gravel, Pearson and Gravel’s soldier groups are patrolling around Port Royale to find Valek and the pirates.

“Search every nook and cranny, they could be docked at one of the secluded shores…” Pearson theorized, as his group takes a ship to search the island permiter.

Gravel’s group scouts areas near the Sanctuary village, old shipwreck, and the lighthouse. Tyrell’s group patrols through the forests, getting close to where the shootout sight is. Tyrell holds out a telescope and looks through the lens. In the far distance, he can make out some of what appears to be the Crimson Devil and Eclipse Pearl.

“Troops, we may have our path. Head north.” Tyrell ordered, as his group marches onward at once.

Mack keeps looking around at his crew, his eyes moving wildly back and forth, wondering if any of them may have plans

“Y’all best stop giving me them wild eyes or I’m close ‘em for ya. You got a plan or not?” Sawyer threatened, getting annoyed by Mack. 

“Yes, I do have a plan! I shall make a deal with this Admiral Valek!” Mack decreed.

“We’re doomed.” Juliet sighed.

Mack begins to walk off, but Higgs tries to stop him.

“Cap’n, with all due respect, he literally has a firing squad ready for ye.” Higgs noted.

“I am no fool, I know what I am doing, trust me.” Mack relied.

“Could’ve fooled me.” Sawyer replied.

“Want me to get your grave ready?” Mara asked.

“No need for snark, hun, I will be fine.” Mack replied, as he climbs off the ship.

Mack is now on the ground, staring at tons of soldiers ready to open fire at him. He is not concerned though, as he knows help is coming. 

“Parley! I invoke the right of parley with your admiral!” Mack yelled, flailing his arms, as he walks forward to Valek.

Mara, Sawyer and Juliet groan to themselves.

“Have a lil’ faith in him, as hard as it may be.” Higgs said, trying to see Mack’s plan.

“Did I hear a wise guy yelling ‘parley’?!” Gintell yelled angrily from his cell below, echoing.

“Do we shoot him, sir?” one of Valek’s soldiers asked, aiming his shotgun right at Mack’s forehead, as he smiles back at him.

“No. I'll respect his parlay request. I met with his ‘friend' Captain Bedossa, it's only fair I give the legendary Captain Stark a proper meeting as well.” Valek replied calmly. 

Mack keeps walking through the sand, and Valek waves up his hand, making Mack stop in his tracks. They are feet apart from each other.

“You will walk no further. Greetings, Captain Stark. My sincerest apologies for our last meeting at the prison, in which I let my hostilities get the better of me. I just wanted my prize very desperately, was all. But it’s all okay now. I wish this honorable meeting was under better circumstances, but I had to resort to rough measures in order to lure you all into this spot. Perhaps we do not need to be enemies, we could help each other.” Valek explained to Mack.

“Yes, that is just what I was about to say, we could reach an accord together and seize these hostilities!” Mack replied

“If your friend that took off with the treasure cooperates with us, then perhaps we very well can have an ‘accord’. For starters, I require the immediate surrender of your meager forces, and nobody will need to be hurt.” Valek replied.

“But I must acquire first, admiral. Why do you seek my pet Treasure so badly?” Mack inquired trying to stall for time.

“What is he doing?” Juliet asked from the deck, hearing the whole conversation.

“He be stallin’, miss.” Higgs replied.

“He does that well, I’ll give ‘em that.” Sawyer replied.

“A pet, huh? Interesting, so you truly have bonded with the creature…and may be one of the few things you still care about in this world, is it not? I promise to bring the creature no harm, I only need it for reasons you would not comprehend.” Valek explained.

“Usually “reasons I would not comprehend” is a code word for something shady and rather selfish, yeah?” Mack replied back, still stalling.

Valek then tries to break down Mack’s mental barriers and try to get into his head, manipulating him just like he did to Bedossa.

“Tell me Stark, have you ever wanted to live forever?” Valek asked.

“I did, until I saw how it transformed my former crew. Hard pass.” Mack replied, smiling smugly.

“There is another way, only achievable through that “treasure” of yours. Just surrender and maybe you can join in on the new life.” Valek replied.

Mack is curious by this, wondering what he means by that. It seems like Valek knew more about Treasure than he let on. Mack had suspected Treasure had more to it, but immortality? He was not sure what to make of this.

“Not one for surrendering, I'm afraid. And for you see, dearest admiral, you did not let me make my own exchange, for I am the one who called this parley to begin with! So we are at an impasse. I would like to share to you my own terms…” Mack said, as he looks past Valek and sees IR-44 running through the forest. His plan is working.

“You are a pirate, and I am the one taking command of this parley.” Valek replied sternly.

“Anyway, I would like a life time supply of good ol’ rum to accommodate my needs, and would love to walk free. Also, if you’re really generous, perhaps you can pass me a side of some brand new teeth, I could really use a good fixin’…” Make rambled on, shining his teeth.

“Is he drunk?” A soldier asked.

“You’re stalling.” Valek realized, holding out his red gun.

“Pirate!” Mack said smugly, as he ducks to the ground, and Valek turns around

IR-44 comes out of hiding and immediately begins firing away at Valek’s soldiers, spinning around. It takes down three of them at once, and they fall to the ground dead. Mack sees Treasure is in IR-44’s bag, relieving him.

“Fire on that machine!” Valek ordered to his soldiers, as they begin doing so, and Mack makes a break for it during the chaos.

Sawyer and Mara both hop out of the Crimson Devil, as they decide to aid in the attack. Higgs stays on board to keep Juliet safe.

“I told you to stay put!” Mack said, annoyed.

“We improvised.” Mara replied smugly, as she shoots at the soldiers, and Mack ducks again from incoming gunfire.

Mara runs forward, grabbing a soldier and slitting their throat with a blade. She throws them at another soldier, as they collapse to the ground. Sawyer then runs forward and slashes his sword at two of Valek’s soldiers, disarming both, and slashing right through their outfits, injuring them.

The pirates aboard the Eclipse Pearl see the ongoing battle, and decide they cannot sit around any longer. 

“We gotta help ‘em!” Merlin said.

“Help them!” Lotton’s scallop spoke, agreeing with Merlin.

“If you want an early funeral, sure thing, mates.” Duncan replied, shrugging.

“Captain Stark would do the same for us, we must repay the favor.” Quentin replied, ready to fight.

“Lotton and Merlin, stay here to man the cannons. Me, Jen, Duncan and Quentin will go out there.” Shelly said.

“Yes ma’am.” Merlin replied, getting to a cannon with Merlin, waiting for the right moment to shoot at Valek’s soldiers when they are together in a group.

The four then begin exiting the ship, going to help out Mack’s gang against Valek’s soldiers.

IR-44 keeps shooting its way through the soldiers, taking down another two, as Valek’s soldiers keep firing back at it. Valek manages to avoid directly fighting any of Mack’s crew so far, as he swiftly takes cover during the chaos. He sees his equipment is still safe with the soldiers who grabbed it, and goes over to protect the two, as he needs the equipment undamaged. Mack then sees Shelly, Jen, Duncan and Quentin enter the area, opening fire on Valek’s soldiers.

“Well what do ya know, the calvary has arrived!” Mack said eagerly, as he clashes his sword with one of Valek’s soldiers, and pokes them in the head with his sword, confusing the soldier for a split second. 

Jen shoots right at the soldier, as they fall to the ground. Mack turns around, thankful for her assistance.

“We’d never ditch you, sir, unlike that coward Leonard! He tried to betray us, but Bedossa killed him, and Terrence…also fell. Thought you should know.” Jen explained to Mack, catching him up on what he messed with his crew.

“How unfortunate, but thankfully you lot are still loyal.” Mack replied.

IR-44 then approaches Mack through the chaos, deciding to tell him what happened to Echo.

“Echo has been terminated.” IR-44 said coldly to him.

Mack is especially depressed to hear this.

“Oh no…” Mack sighed.

Mack feels responsible for this and has a dark cloud looming over him. If he had not brought Echo into this conflict, he would still be alive. But he knew he could not wallow over this forever, as he needed to save Treasure. Echo would have wanted him to, and he gave his life to protect that creature. He saw something special in the creature the day they met, just like Mack did. Mack recognized him as an honorable man, and would keep protecting Treasure for Echo.

“I was able to rescue the creature, just as Echo told me to do. It will be safe with me.” IR-44 explained, as Treasure is in the bag looking around at the battlefield.

The robot sends another shot at one of Valek’s soldiers who was about to strike down Duncan. Mara wrestles with a soldier, twisting their arm and throwing them against a large rock, knocking them out. She then avoids gunfire from the others, and fires back. Quentin is trying to run through the battlefield, shooting his gun, but he is quickly shot at through the chest by several soldiers during the crossfire, bringing him to an end. Higgs and Juliet see this from above, horrified.

“Man down!” Duncan yelled, seeing this, as he makes his way back to Mack.

“Quentin is down, that’s the third swashbuckler we’ve lost…” Shelly said bitterly, as she keeps fending herself off.

“He would have wanted us to keep fighting the good fight, he will be missed.” Mack said, tipping his hat to the fallen Quentin, and keeps making his way through the battlefield, with IR-44 covering him.

Sawyer then makes his way through more soldiers, knocking the two to the ground. He approaches Valek, eyeing him, who turns to him.

“Sawyer Turner. You were an asset I underestimated, and for that, I apologize. I will not make that same mistake.” Valek replied threateningly, readying his red sword.

Sawyer then charges forward and clashes it with Valek’s. The two begin to duel, as gunfire pierces the sound in the background during it. Sawyer swings his sword down below, trying to uppercut Valek, but he catches onto it, and latches onto the sword with his own. The two then break off, and adjust their stances accordingly to match the other. Sawyer can tell Valek is a trained swordsman, but would not lose to him like he did to Bedossa. Valek then moves forward and strikes his sword. Sawyer counters back, clashing their blades once more. Valek then catches Sawyer off guard and kicks sand right into his path, but he moves out of the way. However, Valek then quickly strikes at Sawyer’s leg, getting him off balance. Valek then stabs his sword right through Sawyer’s should, as he lets out a yell of aching pain. Valek then pushes Sawyer away, as he falls to the sand, bleeding out.

“Pathetic excuse of a swordsman.” Valek said to him coldly, as Sawyer growls at him, wanting to get up and kill him, but is too severely injured to do so.

“Sawyer!” Juliet yelled from above, seeing this, as Valek walks away.

Mack sees this, and decides it is time they fall back. Mara keeps shooting at two soldiers coming toward her way, as Mack approaches her.

“We have to fall back, now! We’re two men down and one injured!” Mack ordered pointing to Sawyer ahead.

“I'm running low on firepower, so that is a wise operation. I'll retrieve your friend.” IR-44 replied, as it pushes Treasure further into the bag to avoid gunfire.

IR-44 then rushes to Sawyer, and grabs his body, dragging him through the sand.

“This day just gets better…” Sawyer sighed, as IR-44 gets him to safety, sending blasts everywhere to keep soldiers away from the two.

Mack, Mara, IR-44 with Sawyer and Treasure, Jen, Shelly, and Duncan all make it back to the Crimson Devil. Higgs and Juliet move the plank back up so Valek’s soldiers cannot get on board. Valek orders his soldiers to fall back, realizing he’s low on numbers after the fight.

“Should we climb aboard the ship?” one of Valek’s soldiers asked.

“No, not yet. They will be waiting, and I need to savor my assets. Let them recover and give them a fair fighting chance when they come out next time, I am a fair sport. They have nowhere to go, remember. Their first scuffle was a good analysis, since now I know who has the treasure, which has been brought right back to me. Be sure to apprehend that robot when it comes out.” Valek said, thinking of IR-44, and deciding to patiently wait.

Aboard the Crimson Devil, the gang tends to Sawyer’s wounds. 

“Stay with me, Sawyer…” Juliet said, hoping he’s okay and covering his shoulder wound with a towel.

“If only we had a medic…” Higgs said, feeling bad for Sawyer. He had come to warm up to the man in their time together.

“Bad news everyone, robot here informed me that Echo has fallen. He risked his life to save Treasure.” Mack said, as the crew has sorrowful expressions. They did not know him for long, but recognized him as a respectful man.

“Can we just bloody sail out of here? We’re outmatched and outgunned.” Duncan suggested.

“No can do, mate’s already disabled the rudder chain here and we cannot get in past the lock.” Mack said.

“What about using the Pearl?” Shelly asked.

“He’s got that other ship waiting to blast us to kingdom come if we attempt to escape anyway. We’re trapped.” Mara said grimly.

“We can handle those buggers, it’s just one ship.” Duncan replied, eager to go.

“But we are low on ammo, thanks to Bedossa wasting it all on Mack and the navy. We’ll be outgunned at sea too.” Jen replied.

Treasure sees Sawyer is in pain, and knows it needs to help him. Treasure hops out of IR-44’s bag, surprising them all.

“Get back in.” IR-44 said, trying to grab it, but it gets away.

Treasure then moves closer to the injured Sawyer, seeing his shoulder wound and wanting to heal it. The crew is confused, as they see Treasure slowly move to him.

“Oh no, he’s gonna finish me, ain’t he…” Sawyer sighed, nearly delirious.

“No…I think it wants to help you, mate. Let the critter go.” Mack said to IR-44, as it stands down.

“Help me how? Eat me?” Sawyer asked, as he looks at the slug creature now on his wound, as he is not sure what to make of this.

Treasure then concentrates and touches Sawyer’s wound. It begins to glow, shocking everyone around.

“Well I’ll be…” Higgs said, in disbelief.

Sawyer’s wound then completely goes away, as a green magic washes away over it. Sawyer is surprised to see his wound is healed.

“Guess the critter here felt some pity for me…” Sawyer said, looking at Treasure curiously.

“But…how did it do that?” Mara asked.

“One of the sea’s many mysteries.” Mack said, looking at Treasure curiously, and viewing its gift as something beautiful.

Sawyer moves his shoulder around and gets up without a problem.

“I feel better already. Does he want me to give him a treat to reward him or somethin’?” Sawyer asked, surprised at how it worked.

“A pet will do, I imagine.” Mack replied, as Sawyer pets the creature, and it seems happy it gave new life. IR-44 then picks up Treasure and puts it back into its bag.

“Okay, so I’m glad cowboy over here is better, but uh, we still don’t know what to do about our current predicament.” Duncan said, pointing to the soldiers ready to open fire on them below.

“I just wonder why he has not attempted to come up here already and finish us.” Juliet pondered.

“He’s playing with us, but he also needs me alive, for I have valuable knowledge to him. He also needs Treasure alive.” Mack said, looking at it.

“Why does he want your pet so badly to begin with?” Shelly asked.

“Ask him yourself, he acted all cryptic to me when I inquired.” Make replied, shrugging, but still thinking about what he told him.

“Acting “all cryptic” is basically the only way Valek has spoken for the whole time I have known him on this isle.” Juliet noted.

“I take it those special healin’ powers our pet just displayed would be a mighty fine reason for the admiral to nab him, which I am sure would be abused in the navy’s hands.” Higgs noted, as they nod in agreement and assume that’s the reason for now.

“But would ye mighty pirates use it for any better reasons?” Sawyer asked suspiciously, still not fully trusting Mack.

“I still don’t understand how Treasure’s magic works, so I cannot abuse what I have yet to know.” Mack replied.

“Okay, enough talk, now to plan action. We have Merlin and Lotton in the Pearl ready to open cannon fire on the crew, should I give the signal, sir?” Duncan asked Mack.

“Not yet Mate, we need to save that ammo for when we escape. We need a better way to clear the brigade and make it to the Pearl…” Mack said, thinking.

“Shall I initiate self-destruct sequence?” IR-44 asked, ready to blow the soldiers up.

“No no no, not now, mate! There’s gotta be another way without losing more good men…though I use that word loosely for you.” Mack said, still looking IR-44 weirdly.

“But what can we do then, chief?” Shelly asked.

“All of our ‘smart’ plans seem shot. This guy is crazy prepared for almost all of them.” Mara said, looking out at him realigning his troops around the shore.

Mack then gets an idea upon realizing what Mara is saying, but he does not like it.

“Yes…that’s it! He has planned for all of our intelligent plans…but not our smart ones!” Mack said.

“Can’t tell the difference between ‘em.” Sawyer joked.

“We need a plan so miraculously stupid, the red admiral would not see it coming from his mind’s eye. There is…something we could do.” Mack said, pondering and looks at the brig stairway.

Higgs then realizes he may know what Mack is planning. He does not like it one bit.

“Mack…you know better than all of us that this be a terrible idea to make the deal with a devil.” Higgs scolded.

“Noted, Vincent, but unfortunately…we are out of options.” Mack replied, knowing he will regret this, but not having another choice.

“What’s your ‘genius’ plan now, captain?” Sawyer asked, knowing he will regret this.

“Simple: we get Hector’s help!” Mack said, pointing to the brig, knowing Bedossa’s crew is all locked down there.

There is a beat of silence from everyone, not sure how to respond.

“…I knew you went mad on that deserted island, but not that damn mad! The hell’s wrong with you?” Sawyer spoke.

“I have to concur with Sawyer. He took away your crew and ship, why would you ever ally with him, especially after he kidnapped me?” Juliet asked, wondering what Mack’s goal is here.

“I’d never willingly ally with that traitorous devil after the past eight years of suffering he has cast upon me. I only want to use him as a distraction to wear down some of Valek’s troops. We said we needed a stupid plan, and this is indeed, a stupid plan.” Mack explained.

“It’s risky…but the only way we could counter ‘em is with another army, and unfortunately, he’s got the only other army around here.” Higgs replied, not liking it, but accepting there’s no other choice.

“We just need the lad to distract Valek’s friends and then we make a break for the Pearl.” Mack explained

“But what about breaking the curse?” Juliet asked.

“He will make it through them and then follow us to Isla de Condenar, where we can finally end this. I know he wants to be free of this curse, and we have what he needs to break it.” Mack said, looking at Sawyer.

“Great, so I’m bait…my conditions only barely improve being here.” Sawyer replied, annoyed.

“I will not let him take you.” Mack promised, putting his hand on Sawyer’s healed shoulder.

Mack goes down into the dark brig, feeling a chilly presence. He sees his former crew members left and right, giving him a devil’s eye, not enjoying his presence. Pagetti and Gintell are in a cell together, giving Mack mean looks.

“Think this will spook em?” Pagetti asked Gintell.

“It’ll spook a tiny scallop, sure.” Gintell replied, annoying Pagetti.

Sunno, Jonesy and Traple see Mack passing by, looking at him frustrated. Mack then reaches Bedossa’s cell. The two look face to face, clearly not liking the situation, not one bit.

“So it's true, you escaped the isle and lived to fight another day. You got guts." Bedossa said, impressed.

"Not guts, smarts." Mack replied.

"Not smart enough. Sounds like your motley crew be a strugglin’ out three, no? There be no other reason you’d come adrift right back to me.” Bedossa said smugly.

“There's another reason, but it would be a shame if you were left to rot in that cell for all eternity, eh? I wanted to be the one to finish you, it hurts my soul.” Mack rambled to Bedossa, trying to rope him in.

“You need my help to fight him, don’t ya? How the mighty truly have fallen.” Bedossa replied, chuckling.

“But you got captured, so how do I know this time would be any different?” Mack inquired.

“It was daylight when that scoundrel Valek struck us, we were not at our fullest of power. But now the moonlight be shining on down, and it gives us strength…this time, we can do better…” Bedossa said ominously, as moonlight shines down from the above deck, showing his skeletal hand piercing through the cell bars.

“If you try to harm my crew, I dispose of the Turner boy, and therefore…your curse will never be broken.” Mack warned, readying his gun.

“I ain’t no fool unlike you, Mack. I will agree to your terms as long as it gets me to Condenar…” Bedossa replied.

“Says the fool who wound up in this cell, while I am on the outside of it.” Mack taunted, as there is a beat.

“Fair, you win that one, I grant you. But you know his soldiers are well trained, hence why you came to me. You need a distraction to get past them and get your precious Pearl back, hoping we’ll get the leftover scraps?” Bedossa figured.

“Of course! I am just using you because you’ll make the perfect distraction, mate. It’s simple pirate economics, really.” Mack replied casually, as Bedossa rolls his eyes.

“We need not be adversaries, Mack. We could work together again, just like old times. I want Valek dead as well. I was only following my destiny when I betrayed ye…” Bedossa said, and Mack is unsure if he is being sincere

“You left me to rot for eight years. We will never be friends.” Mack replied.

“Never is such a fluctuating word, it can change just like the weather and tides surroundin’ us…” Bedossa said happily.

Outside, Valek keeps waiting patiently. Suddenly, a noise is heard, as his troops ready their guns and swords. Bedossa and the cursed pirates all storm out of the Crimson Devil, running through the sand. Valek is shocked by this. He knew Mack hated Bedossa, why would they team up?

“…Stark let them go? Why?” Valek asked, confused.

He had no considered this possibility at all, and is now worried his plan is in shambles. Mack and his crew overlook the battlefield below them.

“This is still a terrible, reckless idea.” Juliet noted to Mack.

“I know, but when in Enhalas, sometimes, that may be what gets ye out of a pickle.” Mack replied, as they run down opening fire at Valek’s soldiers with Bedossa’s crew. 

Valek slashes his way through cursed pirates, seeing their exposed bones under moonlight. Sunno grabs one of Valek’s soldiers, and snaps their neck, making their body drop to the sandy ground. Pagetti and Gintell are eager to fight, as they tackle a solider to the sand. Valek orders his soldiers to apprehend IR-44, as they run after it. Valek keeps rushing his way through the undead pirates, just solely setting his eyesight on Treasure right now.

Sawyer has Juliet stay close to him, shielding her from any harm. Mara, Higgs and Sawyer attack several of Valek’s soldiers near the Pearl, and clear a path toward it.

“You three, get to the Pearl!” Mack ordered to Jen, Shelly and Duncan, not wanting to lose more of his crew.

The three understand, as they rush off and head for the ship. Merlin and Lotton see them incoming, and lower the plank to let them up. 

“Do we open fire now?” Merlin asked, ready to shoot the cannon at Valek’s soldiers and the cursed pirates.

“No, save the ammo for the ship. Those zombies can handle the soldiers for us now.” Shelly replied.

IR-44 tries to open fire on more of Valek’s soldiers, but suddenly, it is tackled from behind by a group. It is thrown into the sand, and Treasure falls out of the bag. The soldiers grab Treasure and run off with it. Before Mack’s group heads to the Pearl, they see Treasure being taken away.

“We have a complication!” Mack yelled, stopping them from going forward, and points to Treasure.

They chase after. Bedossa then approaches Valek, smiling smugly.

“A rematch already? We know how last time went…” Valek reminded.

“This time though, I ain’t falling for yer tricks, and the moonlight makes us stronger…” Bedossa said, stepping forward to show his skeletal face under moonlight.

He then strikes forward, as Valek ducks, avoiding the sword. Valek then strikes his sword forward several times, with Bedossa carefully maneuvering in return and swiftly avoiding the strikes. Bedossa then slashes right at Valek’s left leg, injuring him.

“Not so mighty now, are ye?” Bedossa taunted, pointing his sword forward, but Valek is not deterred. He is only distracted, wondering where Treasure is.

Valek then sees his soldiers running with Treasure, having taken it from IR-44. Valek is most pleased, and gives him the motivation to fight. He quickly moves aside, kicks sand into Bedossa’s face, blinding him. He then strikes him across the face, though Bedossa does not feel the scar. Valek then runs, regrouping with his soldiers that took Treasure. Mack and his crew try to chase after, but sand is kicked everywhere due to Bedossa’s pirates and Valek’s soldiers fighting, so they lose sight.

“Finally, it is mine!” Valek boasted, taking Treasure and grabbing the creature tight, scaring it. “Get to the ship and ready the machine!”

Mara tries to see through the blowing sand, and sees Valek escaping with Treasure. 

“There he is! Mara said, pointing to him.

Valek gets to the Crimson Devil with a group of soldiers, and the ones with the machinery, finally taking it back. The soldiers quickly begin hooking Valek up to it, along with Treasure, ready for the power transfer. The rest of his soldiers keep fighting off Mack and Bedossa’s crews below, trying to stop them from reaching the ship. During the chaos, Bedossa sees the Pearl is right there for the taking, and decides to betray Mack yet again.

“To the Pearl!” Bedossa ordered to his crew, as they run for it.

Bedossa then sees Sawyer fighting another one of Valek’s soldiers, and decides to continue what he started.

The machine is activated, as Treasure cries in pain, and feels its energy being drained and being transferred to Valek. Valek can feel his wounds healing, as he is excited. Suddenly, the transfer stops, as Valek’s wounds return to his body, confusing him. Treasure is refusing to allow him to accept the power. The equipment is damaged, as it begins to malfunction and break apart.

“No…no no! You will give me your power, you miserable creature! It is rightfully mine, I was destined!” Valek yelled at Treasure.

Gunshots sent from Mara, IR-44 and Higgs then break apart the rest of the machinery, destroying it. Valek is furious, as he grabs Treasure.

“So you deny me then of the gods’ power, is that it? Fine, take your worthless creature back!” Valek said furiously, throwing it to the sandy ground, confusing it.

Higgs, Mara and Mack are also confused, but IR-44 grabs it. 

“Whatever he wanted from the critter, looks like he didn’t get it.” Mara noted, seeing how angry he is.

Valek’s life work had been all for naught. He then looks at the cursed pirates taking down his soldiers, and realizes perhaps not all is lost.

“If I cannot have the creature’s immortality, then I’ll take the cursed form, no matter the sorrows it brings!” Valek said furiously, getting a new plan.

Valek orders his crew to get the rudder chain working again so they can set sail for Isla de Condenar.

“Sir, what about the rest below?” A soldier asked.

“There’s no time, they served their purpose.” Valek replied.

The sand clears, as Valek’s ground soldiers have all either been killed or knocked out. 

“Well, I’d say we made a good team-“ Mack said.

Suddenly, Bedossa points a gun at Sawyer’s head, taking them off guard. Juliet is furious.

“Now here is how this shall go, eh? Let me sail back to Isla de Condenar with my blood lifter, or…I spill his blood right here before ye.” Bedossa threatened, blackmailing the

“You bastard…” Juliet said to Bedossa.

“Pirate.” Bedossa reminded smugly.

“I’ll go. It’s okay, trust me.” Sawyer said to Juliet, as he goes with Bedossa again,

“Should’ve seen that coming.” Mack sighed.

Sawyer is not concerned, since this is finally their chance to break the curse and end these pests. Bedossa then makes his way on board the Eclipse Pearl with Sawyer as his hostage. The crew begins adjusting the sails, getting ready to set sail

“Avast, we make way for Condenar once more, and finally end this blighted curse!” Bedossa decreed, as he holds the medallion in his hand happily.

They see Bedossa getting away, and Mack vows to finish this. 

“That’s the third time I’ve seen that man sail away with my ship.” Mack noted.

Jen, Shelly, Duncan, Lotton and Merlin are still stowed away on the Eclipse Pearl, ready to take the ship back. The Crimson Devil also departs, following the Eclipse Pearl’s trail. One of Valek’s soldiers waves a flag to the Diamond, ordering them to stand down and let the Pearl pass. Stewart sees this, and understands. However, another Navy ship arrives to take back the Diamond, controlled by Pearson's team. Upon seeing this, and no longer having use for it in his plan, Valek has his ship go side to side with it. Stewart and his crew board back onto the Crimson Devil, as they set sail. The empty Diamond is reclaimed by Pearson's soldiers.

Tyrell’s group of soldiers finally arrive at the secluded shore, seeing the casualties before them. His soldiers begin arresting Valek’s remaining soldiers. Tyrell orders his group not to shoot Mack and his friends, honoring the deal for now.

“Impressive, you all held your own against Admiral Valek, but you lost both targets.” Tyrell said, seeing them taking off.

“Please Commodore, take us to Isla de Condenar to stop both Bedossa and Valek.” Juliet begged Tyrell.

“Our original plan was to take Stark there, before Valek rudely interrupted. As long as Stark here stays in line, along with his friends, we will not bring them any harm, but he’ll be under my supervision.” Tyrell said sternly.

Tyrell takes Mack, Juliet, Higgs, and IR-44 the Dauntless, where they regroup with Rose, Gravel and Pearson. The navy soldiers look at IR-44 oddly, wondering what it is. Juliet struggles as she is hustled inside a cabin by Pearson and two soldiers.

“Sorry miss, but it's for your own safety! Commodore’s orders!” Pearson said to her from the other side, locking her in the cabin.

Mack looks out at the sea ahead, ready to end this.

To Be Continued…

Notes/Trivia

-Death: Quentin

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20. Moonlight Curse: Part II

The Crimson Devil is sailing ahead, seeing the Eclipse Pearl making its way toward Isla de Condenar. Valek is furiously throwing around his artifacts and notes in his cabin. He had no clue why Treasure refused to heal him, but his plans had fallen apart. He could still salvage this by killing Treasure so nobody else could ever receive its powers. He strikes his sword across the stone tablet, marking Treasure with an x. As soon as the Dauntless was in sight, he would blast it into nothing, ridding himself of many problems. He did not care who was killed, even if that included the governor and commodore, who wanted to arrest him. At this point to him, nothing mattered anymore. Valek goes outside, seeing his remaining soldiers hard at work. Fog then begins to appear, and Valek realizes he’s close.

Aboard the Dauntless, Tyrell comes across Higgs, recognizing him from when he was a sailor in the navy. Higgs is still looking after Treasure.

“Vincent Higgs…you were once a respected sailor in the Royal Navy, and now a pirate. Why the turn away from such prestige?” Tyrell asked curiously.

“Sometimes ye see the world in a new way, sorry lad.” Higgs replied, as Tyrell is not sure what to make of it.

As the Dauntless sails closer, they spot a large red object through the fog. Through the thick, they make out the Crimson Devil, waiting to blast them and blocking their path forward.

“Sir, it looks like the admiral is ready to fire on us!” Gravel said, seeing the crew readying the guns.

“What is he thinking!?” Rose asked, thinking Valek had lost it.

“We’re not wasting our firepower.” Tyrell said.

“But I think he’s willing to waste his…” Mack noted, seeing the cannons aiming.

“We’ll be dead the moment we try passing.” Rose said, worried.

“And our ammo may not be enough for Valek’s ship.” Tyrell admitted.

IR-44 calculates the situation and steps forward.

“My self-destruct function has enough power to destroy the entire vessel. It’ll allow you to safely pass.” IR-44 explained, as the crew looks at it, realizing that would work.

“But you wouldn’t make it.” Mara noted.

“I know. I accept my fate to save you, my friends. There is no other way.” IR-44 replied, willing to sacrifice itself for them.

“He has spoken.” Mack said, admiring the robot’s selflessness.

IR-44 is seen taking one of the longboats, rowing it toward the Crimson Devil. It makes it through the fog undetected. IR-44 then begins climbing up the ship, as one of the soldiers sees the longboat below, confused. IR-44 walks onto the deck, as the soldiers look at it in curiosity. Stewart comes face to face with it, as IR-44 begins booting up its self-destruct sequence. Valek sees the commotion, wondering what is going on. 

“WAIT, NO!” Valek yelled, realizing it’s a bomb, and he jumps.

IR-44 detonates, ripping the Crimson Devil apart in its explosion. Many of Valek’s soldiers, including Stewart, are killed in the blast, as the ship is blown into smithereens. Valek lands in the water, but the blast scarred half of his face. He angrily tries to swim through the wreckage. Mack salutes IR-44, as the ship passes by through the flaming wreckage.

“That contraption’s bravery will be memorialized. Now, Stark, with me.” Tyrell said, grabbing Mack, as he escorts him onto one of the longboats for their part of the plan.

Higgs sees the Eclipse Pearl coming into view through the fog, and wants to help the crew stowed away on there. He heads for a longboat, still holding Treasure, when Mara stops him.

“You’re going to need help.” Mara said, as Higgs gladly lets her come.

The two row the longboat toward the Pearl. 

Tyrell and Mack’s own longboat, shared with other soldiers, makes it closer to the cave. They spot the Eclipse Pearl, seemingly abandoned. Tyrell lowers his spyglass.

“I don't care for the situation. Any attempt to storm the cave could turn into an ambush.” Tyrell noted.

“Not if you're the one doing the ambushing. I go in, I convince Bedossa to send his men out with their little boats. You and your mates return to the Dauntless and blast the bejesus out of them with your little cannons, eh. What do you have to lose?” Mack asked.

“Nothing I'd lament being rid of.” Tyrell replied, removing his arm from Mack’s shoulder.

“Now, to be quite honest with you, there's still a slight risk to those aboard the Dauntless, which includes the future of Juliet.” Mack replied.

He watches Tyrell as he considers that.

“Also, that Valek friend of yours…cannot say I liked him. You’re better.” Mack confessed to Tyrell.

“That is one thing we can agree on.” Tyrell replied, as he keeps looking out.

Lit by torches and shafts of moonlight, pirates move through the caves. They climb over rocks and through water, toward the center. Bedossa leads the way, tossing an apple. Sawyer, hands bound behind his back, is shoved along.

“No reason to fret. Just a prick of the finger. A few drops of blood.” Gintell said calmly to Sawyer.

“No mistakes this time. He's only half Turner. We spill it all.” Twip said.

Gintell finds a good amount of delight in this.

“I guess there is reason to fret.” Gintell replied.

In the center of the cavern, Sawyer is pushed close to the stone chest by Koler and Twip, then shoved to his knees. Koler pushes Sawyer's head forward directly over the chest, the medallion hanging below his throat. Bedossa takes the stone knife from atop the chest of gold.

“Excuse me. Pardon me. Beg pardon.” Mack said, trying to make his way through the crowd.

“Begun by blood... by blood un…” Bedossa began chanting.

Mack emerges from the crowd of pirates. Bedossa stares.

“Mack!” Sawyer said

“You’re quicker than I expected.” Bedossa replied.

“Where's Juliet?!” Sawyer asked.

“She's safe, just like I promised. And you get to die for her, just like you promised. So we're all men of our word really, except for Juliet, who is in fact...a woman.” Mack said.

Pirates surround Mack, and Bedossa points a knife at him.

“Silence! You’re next!” Bedossa yelled, and again puts the knife to Sawyer's throat.

“You don't want to be doing that, mate.” Mack said, trying to stall.

Bedossa glances back at him.

“No, I really think I do.” Bedossa replied.

“Your funeral.” Mack replied, shrugging.

Bedossa presses the blade to Sawyer's throat, he truly wants to do it. He whirls back on Mack.

“Why don't I want to do it? Didn’t ye want yer chance to kill me in my mortal form?” Bedossa inquired.

“Well, because…” Mack was saying.

Mack shrugs away from the pirates and steps forward.

“Because the H.M.S. Dauntless, pride of the Royal Navy, is floating just off shore, waiting for you once mortal.” Mack explained.

Bedossa hesitates, and the pirates react. Bedossa knows he’d be vulnerable once mortal, especially if Valek was in the mix. Seven long boats full of marines are positioned on either side of the cave mouth. Murray and Toby are in Tyrell's boat, directly behind him.

“What we doing here?” Toby whispered.

“The pirates come out, unprepared and unawares. We catch 'em in a crossfire and send 'em to see Ol' Hob.” Murray explained.

“I know why we're here. I meant, why aren't we doing what it was... what Mr. Stark said we should do? With the cannons and all?” Toby asked.

“Because it was Mr. Stark who said it.” Murray replied, as a beat follows.

“You think he wasn't telling the truth?” Toby inquired.

Bedossa listens as Mack argues his case.

“Just hear me out, mate. You order your men to row out to the Dauntless, they do what they do best. Robert's your uncle, Fannie's your aunt, there you are with two ships. The makings of your very own fleet. Of course, you'll take the grandest as your flagship, and who's to argue?But what of the Pearl?” Mack asked.

Mack smiles and spreads his hands. As he talks, he strolls toward Sawyer and the chest.

“Name me Captain. I'll sail under your colors, I'll give you ten percent of me plunder, and you get to introduce yourself  as 'Commodore Bedossa.' Savvy?” Mack asked.

“And I suppose in exchange, you want me not to kill the whelp?” Bedossa asked.

“No, no no, not at all. By all means, kill the whelp. Just not yet. Wait to lift the curse...until the opportune moment.” Mack said, giving a brief wink to Sawyer, and filling him in on the plan.

Sawyer looks up at him, and recognizes the familiar phrase. Bedossa looks from Mack to Sawyer suspiciously.

“For instance…” Mack continued, as he picks up some of the coins. 

“After you've killed Tyrell’s crew…every last one.” Mack continued, dropping coins into the chest.

It's only Sawyer who sees Mack palm one of the coins. Bedossa gives the proposal some thought.

“I want fifty per cent of your plunder.” Bedossa offered.

“Fifteen.” Mack bargained back.

“Forty.” Bedossa bargained back.

“Twenty-five, and I'll buy you the hat. A really big one, Commodore.” Mack bargained, making Bedossa smile.

“We have an accord.” Bedossa replied.

He and Mack approach and shake hands. Mack turns toward the pirates.

“All hands: to the boats!” Mack ordered in grand fashion.

Bedossa shoots him a glare.

“Apologies, you give the orders.” Mack replied.

Bedossa steps forward as Mack grins, knowing that Bedossa is going to repeat what he said.

“Gents, take a walk!” Bedossa ordered, and Mack’s grin vanishes.

“Not to the boats?” Mack asked, confused.

Bedossa's turn to grin as the pirates leave the caver. Pirates head toward the boats, and then past them. Gintell and Pagetti are among them. Suddenly, Sunno snaps a parasol across their chests, stopping them. Sunno smiles.

The moon appears from behind the clouds. Moonlight shines down into the shallow waters. Distant figures appear, wavering in the shifting current. They move into the shadow of the Dauntless' keel. It's the pirates, walking across the ocean floor. 

The first figure, Koler, steps from the shadow into water-­filter moonlight, transforming to his skeletal form. Gentle splashing echoes from the cave mouth. The soldiers in the longboats on either side raise their rifles.

A boat emerges, as Tyrell’s group stare. In the boat are Gintell and Pagetti in drag. The parasol shades them from the moon.

“Hold fire.” Tyrell signaled to his soldiers.

Gintell and Pagetti row past, toward the Dauntless. Pagetti fans himself.

“This is just like history’s famous disguises, like in one battle, cept in that one they was in a horse n'stead of dresses. Wooden horse.” Pagetti rambled.

Gintell tells him to shut up, and glances over his shoulder toward the Dauntless. Twip breaks the surface near the Dauntless, climbing the anchor. More skeleton pirates follow.

Rose approaches the door and nods to the guard. 

“A moment, please?” Rose requested.

The guard departs. Rose knocks lightly on the door.

“Juliet?” Rose asked.

He waits for an answer. None comes. He sighs.

“I just want you to know…I couldn't be more proud of you, and you made a good decision. But, you know, even a good decision, if made for the wrong reasons...could be a wrong decision.” Rose explained, referring to her aiding Stark.

Juliet stands before the stern window. She looks over her shoulder at the door.

Twip peeks over the rail onto the deck of the Dauntless. A few lone sentries patrol. One of the soldiers spots something in the water.

“Lieutenant?” A soldier said to Pearson.

Pearson looks through a telescope; he and the crew of the Dauntless are transfixed and puzzled at the bizarre sight. Gintell and Pagetti are rowing toward them, as Pagetti waves.

“Yoo-hoo.” Pagetti taunted.

Twip gestures down to his comrades to follow him. Twip and all the other pirates begin climbing onto the deck of the Dauntless

Rose is still at the door. He misinterprets the silence. 

“Juliet, are you there? Juliet, are you even listening to me?” Rose asked, curious.

Rose moves to open the door and enters. Several knotted bed sheets hang from the cabin window. Below, Juliet rows through the water, the Dauntless receding behind her. She looks over her shoulder.

Koler sneaks up behind the first Sentry and slits his throat. Sunno strangles another sentry, falling to the deck. The pirates advance towards the stern of the ship.

Inside the cabin, Rose appears at the open window and sees the knotted sheets. He glances out, glances up, looks out at the black sea.

“Juliet…what have you done?” Rose wondered, worried about her.

Gintell and Pagetti near the Dauntless, parasols protecting them from the moonlight. They've been spotted. Pagetti waves and 'yoo-hoos' up to the ship. 

“Stop that! I already look like a fool.” Gintell yelled, livid.

“Look nice, though.” Pagetti replied.

Gintell takes offense at that and slugs Pagetti. Gintell drops his parasol, throttles Pagetti, who also drops his parasol, and the two are revealed as skeletons. Pearson gasps at the sight. Gintell realizes they're exposed, so he pulls a pistol and fires. Pearson's hat is knocked off by the shot, and he looks back ­too late. They drop down from the rigging like spiders. Swords clash and pistols are drawn.

Rose, despondent, opens the door to see a body plummet to the deck in front of him. He sees the soldiers and undead pirates dueling. Rose shuts the door gently, trying to go unnoticed.

Mack examines the pirate treasure, and Bedossa fixes him with an appraising look.

“I must admit, Mack: I thought I had you figured. But turns out, you're a hard man to predict.” Bedossa said curiously.

“Me? I'm dishonest. And a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly! It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for. Because you can never predict when they're going to do something incredibly... stupid.” Mack rambled.

Mack moves near a pirate examining some of the treasure. In one quick move, Mack pulls the sword from the pirate's scabbard, kicks him into the water and flips the sword up right to Sawyer. Sawyer catches it behind his back and knocks the pirate guarding him into the water. Mack winks again to him, as Sawyer is impressed.

Mack pulls out his own sword. Bedossa looks from Mack to Sawyer, not quite registering what is taking place. Mack had actually cared about Sawyer? He scrambles to his feet, and pulls out his sword. Mack and Bedossa square off. Jonesy slashes at Sawyer, who turns and parries so that his hands are freed by the cut. The other two pirates attack him and he fights back, holding them off.

Mack and Bedossa continue to duel furiously. They cross swords and come face to face.

“You're off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters!” Bedossa warned.

“He’s not the only one to be afraid of.” Valek said, startling them, as he emerges from the murky waters, showing his scarred face, and holding his sword.

“Unfortunate.” Mack sighed, hoping the explosion had killed him.

Higgs and Mara stealthily make it aboard the Eclipse Pearl, seeing it’s clear. They head into the decks below, and see the stowed away crew in hiding. They are surprised to see the two, and Jen then gives them a ‘shh’ sign, as footsteps are heard.

Juliet jumps from the tiny rowboat to the Pearl. She climbs up toward the gun port and can hear voices. Two pirates, Mallen and Traple, set out a feast: wine and rum, jerky, cakes, apples, biscuits.

“What would you pick to eat first? We should decide now, so we're ready, when the time comes.” Mallen asked.

Juliet continues to climb up.

“I was thinking…cake.” Traple replied.

“I was thinking cake too.” Mallen replied with menace.

They stare at each other. Lightning quick, Traple slams a knife into the table between them, his hand going skeletal in the moonlight. A tense moment. Then Traple leans the handle of the knife toward Mallen.

“You cut, I choose.” Traple said.

Mallen gives a single sharp nod. Juliet climbs past as Mallen reaches for the knife. Juliet climbs over the gunwale and sneaks along the deck. Suddenly, Mac the sea monkey, now skeletal, screeches at her. Juliet starts slightly, but is mostly annoyed.

Mallen and Traple are still focused on their mock feast. Mac screeches as it drops onto a cannon with a clang. The monkey remains on the barrel of the cannon for a beat.

“What was that?” Traple asked, hearing it.

They turn and look out the gun port. They see the dazed monkey sitting on the cannon, then it slides off and plummets down to the water. A splash follows. Juliet looks over gunwale, and the two pirate heads stick out, looking down at the splash. They turn to look up, but she is gone from view. The pirates draw back inside to give chase. Juliet races down stairs and hides. Pirates race past, headed up to the deck.

Mack's crew and Mara are waiting in the dark, ready for the right moment to strike. Higgs tilts his head, and looks out from the corner, spotting Juliet.

“It's Juliet!” Higgs said.

Gintell and Pagetti climb onto the Dauntless through a gun port as other pirates swarm the deck, taking on the sailors and soldiers. A wounded crewman rings the bell. The bell alerts Tyrell.

“Make for the ship! Move!” Tyrell ordered at once.

Quickly, his soldiers row for the Dauntless. A pirate hears the bell, sees the crewman and runs him through with his sword. The bell stops ringing. Tyrell and his soldiers continue to make their way toward the Dauntless.

Gintell, Pagetti, and other pirates fire a cannon at Tyrell and his team. Near Tyrell, one of the longboats is blown out of the water.

Rose peers out the glass window at the mayhem on the deck. Rose drops down below the window and he peeks up again as a face of a dead marine slams on the glass right next to him. 

Rose looks up and sees a pirate looking at him. Rose cowers and begins backing away below the window. Pirate hands reach through the windows, grabbing at him. One of the pirate hands  grabs Rose's wig and pulls it off his head. Rose refuses to let it go and has a tug-of-war with the pirate over his wig. Rose grabs a bull horn off the table behind him and whacks at the skeleton arm, which falls off on the floor. 

Valek strikes his sword at both Mack and Bedossa, making a three way duel. Valek then sees the chest, and wants one of the coins.

“I’ll gain immortality, you cannot deny me!” Valek said angrily, swinging his sword around in a fit of rage.

“Ya talk too much!” Bedossa said.

Bedossa and Mack both strike at Valek, as he tries to counter both. Bedossa slashes right at his scarred face, blinding him, and he is then knocked back into the water. Bedossa and Mack continue their sword fight. Bedossa drives Mack to the ground. Bedossa drops his sword, sticking out his chest.

“You can't beat me, Mack.” Bedossa taunted.

Mack thrusts his sword into Bedossa. It has no effect. Bedossa looks up and sighs. He removes the sword and drives the sword into Mack's chest. 

Mack stares down at the sword jutting from his chest. He staggers a few steps backward, into the moonlight…and Mack becomes skeletal.

“That’s interesting.” Mack said, examining his skeletal form.

Skeleton Mack looks at his hands. In his left palm is a cursed coin. Sawyer finishes off a pirate and turns to see Mack as a skeleton. 

“I’ll be damned…” Sawyer said, impressed once again.

Mack turns to Bedossa.

“Couldn't resist, mate.” Mack bragged.

Mack pulls the sword from his chest. Bedossa grabs some coins, throws them at Mack as he takes up his sword, and rushes him. Both men are in the moonlight now, two skeletons in pitched battle.

Valek rises from the water again, and he charges at Sawyer. Sawyer is ready for a rematch, as they duel. Sawyer has begun to adapt to Valek’s sword moves, but their moves are close, as several undead pirates try to interfere with their fight, and Valek throws two of them aside, while Mack and Bedossa continue their own fight. Valek struggles to see due to his scarred face, and Sawyer takes advantage of this, striking him from the blind side. He then strikes his sword forward multiple times, confusing Valek, and then knocks his sword right out of his hand, shocking Valek. Sawyer then punches him in the face in anger, throwing him onto a pile of gold. Sawyer then stabs his sword right through his chest, as Valek gasps.

“That’s for taking the critter…and for my shoulder.” Sawyer said bitterly, as Valek dies, and Sawyer rips his sword out of him.

Sawyer turns his attention to Jonesy, who attacks him. Mack kicks Bedossa to the ground. He rolls downward, getting up in time to find Mack upon him.

The Dauntless' cannons continue to fire at Tyrell and his team. Rose scrambles away from the arm as it crawls after him. He stands and watches the arm in horror. He then grabs a map off the table and begins beating the skeleton arm. He then picks it up and struggles with it, turns and shoves it in a bureau drawer. He backs up against the chest as it rattles, the arm struggling to get out. 

Sawyer continues his battle, now with two pirates. He gets between them. Just as both pirates thrust their swords at him, Sawyer jumps out of the way and runs and the pirates wind up sticking their swords in each other. A beat, as they look at each other, then they remove the swords from their chests and chase after Sawyer passing.

Mack and Bedossa continue to duel in and out of the moonlight.

“So what now, Mack Stark? Are we to be two immortals, locked in an epic battle 'til Judgment Day and trumpets sound? Hmmm?” Bedossa inquired.

“Or you could surrender.” Mack offered.

Bedossa smiles, not entertaining the idea, and attacks.

Mallen and Traple sneak along, wary, listening and searching. The pirates whirl at a sound just as they're hit by a lifeboat and swept off into the water. The lifeboat was shoved by Higgs, Mara, Juliet and the rest of Mack's crew. The Eclipse Pearl is theirs once more. Juliet grabs the gunwale of the boat.

“All of you! With me! Sawyer is in that cave, and we must save him. Ready and…heave!” Juliet commanded.

The boat doesn't budge. The help she was expecting is not forthcoming. She turns. The crew is looking at her, not moving.

“Please, I need your help! Come on!” Juliet begged.

“Any port! In a storm!” Lotton’s scallop said.

“Lotton is right. We've got the Pearl.” Higgs said.

“What about Mack? You just going to leave him, after everything he’s done?” Juliet asked.

“Mack owes us a ship.” Merlin reminded.

“And there's the code to consider…” Higgs said grimly, as the other pirates sadly agree.

“The code? You're pirates! Hang the code! And hang the rules! They’re more like guidelines, anyway!” Juliet said angrily.

Higgs looks away. He knows that, but as First Mate, he has to do it.

Juliet is alone in a rowboat. The Eclipse Pearl is behind her under sail and moving away.

“Bloody pirates…” Juliet mumbled, rowing to the cave.

The fight aboard the Dauntless continues. Gintell and Pagetti make their way on deck, killing as they go. Pagetti notices the Pearl leaving, his eyes fixed on the ship as it sails past.

"Is it supposed to be doing that?” Pagetti asked.

Gintell looks where Pagetti is looking, and registers what's happening.

“They're stealing our ship!” Gintell said.

Pagetti gripped with rage. He spits out:

“Bloody pirates!” Pagetti yelled.

Tyrell's boats have arrived at the ship. 

“Boarders away!” Tyrell ordered.

He and his crew climb up the side.Tyrell and his men arrive on the deck. The pirates notice their arrival and advance. Tyrell shoots Koler, but he keeps on coming.

“Come on!” Gintell yelled, ready to fight.

Pearson stands up on a railing and swings a large block and tackle across the deck at Sunno. Sunno sees it and dunks and then takes off after Pearson. The block and tackle swings back and hits Pagetti in the head. Pagetti's eye pops out. He chases it.

Toby and Murray finally make it up to the railing of the ship, reacting to the fighting. They shake hands, then climb on deck, letting out a battle scream.

A projectile thrown by Jonesy, which explodes near Sawyer. Mack and Bedossa react to the explosion, look over at Sawyer, and then continue their fight. Sawyer is thrown to the ground, losing his sword. He's at a disadvantage, trapped. Jonesy laughs, raising his sword.

“I'm gonna teach you the meaning of pain!”  Jonesy said.

“You like pain?” Juliet asked.

Jonesy turns. From out of the smoke, Juliet appears. She swings a long gaffe, knocking Jonesy aside.

“Try wearing a corset.” Juliet quipped.

She looks at Sawyer, smiling. He grins back, as she pulls him up with the gaffe. Juliet sees Valek’s dead body, and feels relief. Turning, Juliet then notices Mack dueling with Bedossa. Her smile is gone.

“Whose side is Mack on?” Juliet asked.

“Ours, I’d hope.” Sawyer replied.

Juliet nods. The two pirates attack, as Sawyer and Juliet dart away. Jonesy recovers and prepares another bomb. Sawyer gets an idea. Moving between the pirates and parrying­ their blows, he helps Juliet thrust the gaffe, using it to hook all three pirates together, with Jonesy in the middle. Sawyer grabs one of Jonesy's bombs and yanks it free, sparking the fuse. He shoves it up inside Jonesy's rib cage, and shoves all three out of the moonlight. Jonesy clutches at his now-flesh chest with no way to get to the lit bomb. Jonesy looks at Sawyer, mouth agape, as smoke issues out.

“No fair!” Jonesy cried.

Sawyer grabs Juliet, dives away with her as the bomb explodes. Jonesy’s and the other skeletal remains crash down in a nearby pool of moonlight. 

Bedossa slashes at Mack, frustrated beyond measure. He drives Mack backwards. Mack takes the medallion he palmed, slices his hand with his sword so blood gets on it, then tosses it to Sawyer. As he fights, Bedossa notices Sawyer's movement on the other side of the cave. He breaks off the fight, pulls his pistol, and aims it at Juliet. She registers her danger, freezing.

A shot echoes in the cavern.

Bedossa looks surprised, turning to Mack. He can't believe it. Mack, pistol raised and aimed, still smoking, has shot him. 

“Eight years you carry that pistol, and now you waste your shot?” Bedossa asked smugly.

“…He didn't waste it.” Sawyer said proudly.

Bedossa turns, seeing Sawyer standing over the chest, holding the knife, with his left hand in a fist. He opens the fist, making both his and Mack's medallions drop from his hand, revealing the cut in his palm. The bloody medallions land in the chest full of the rest of the medallions. The curse is finally broken.

Bedossa looks down at his chest. Blood blossoms on his shirt around the bullet hole. Mack lowers the pistol. Bedossa stares at the blood. He looks up at Mack, then Sawyer, and back to Mack. Anger, dismay…and even relief color Bedossa's features.

“I feel…cold.” Bedossa said in his dying breath.

Bedossa collapses on his back. He looses the grip on the apple he held in his hand, as it falls into the treasure pile. He's dead.

Tyrell, sword flashing, strikes through Koler, and he pulls it back. Koler is surprised. He registers the pain and realizes he’s flesh. He cries out and falls.

The desk is no longer rattling. Rose puts a hand on the pull, hesitates and then pulls the drawer open. His expression tells a good sign about the state of the drawer's contents.

Twip, who has been fighting nearby, seen Koler fall and looks in surprise at Tyrell. He then looks up at the full moon and realizes what has happened. Tyrell puts his sword to Twip's throat. Twip drops his weapon. One by one the other pirates drop their weapons also, realizing they are no longer invincible.

Pagetti, still chasing his eyeball, manages to grab it and put it back in. He looks at Gintell who is standing with his hands in the air. He then turns and looks down the barrel of a gun. The weapons are held by Toby and Murray.

“…Parley?” Gintell asked innocently. 

“The ship is ours gentlemen.” Tyrell proudly decreed.

The soldiers and sailors all cheer. Tyrell sees the wreckage of the Crimson Devil nearby.

“And Valek will no longer be a problem.” Tyrell added, satisfied.

“What shall we do with his remaining soldiers?” Gravel asked him.

“If they are willing, give them a chance to assimilate them into my crew. I could use fresh coats after these recent events.” Tyrell considered.

Rose peeks out of the cabin window and sees the battle is over. He comes out of the cabin and joins the cheers, congratulating the soldiers.

Sawyer moves to Juliet, standing past the water, watching. Their eyes meet.

They meet and embrace, gazing at each other. There is a crash, which is the sound of Mack gathering up pieces of treasure, including large gold object d’art. Sawyer and Juliet look at each other. The moment is broken, and Juliet averts her gaze.

“We should return to the Dauntless.” Juliet suggested.

Sawyer understands and nods. Juliet turns, and heads out of the cave. Mack, holding and wearing a lot of treasure nonchalantly, strolls up beside Sawyer.

“If you were waiting for the opportune moment…that was it, Romeo.” Mack noted, which Sawyer knows.

“Well, I don’t mind waitin’ for an even better moment.” Sawyer replied, accepting not to rush things.

“Suit yourself.” Mack replied, as he hoists a bag filled with swag onto his shoulder. “Now, if you'd be so kind, I'd be much obliged if you drop me at my ship…”

However, the Eclipse Pearl is not there. Mack scans the area, but it’s gone. In the rowboat, Mack sits at the bow, facing forward; Sawyer at the oars, facing backwards; Juliet in the stern, facing Sawyer. Mack has a large sack filled with treasure.

“I'm sorry, Mack.” Juliet apologized to him.

“They done what's right by ‘em. Can't expect more than that.” Mack replied, accepting their decision.

Later, at Port Royale, Mack stands on a gallows, wrists bound. An executioner checks the mechanism of the trap door with a sandbag. An official drones on recounting a list of Mack's crimes.

“Mack Stark…be it known that you have been charged, tried and convicted…” The official was saying.

“Captain…Captain Mack Stark…” Mack mumbled to himself.

The parade ground is crowded. Rose stands beside Tyrell and Juliet. All resolutely watch the proceedings.

“...For your willful commission of crimes against the crown, said crimes being numerous in quantity and sinister in nature. The most aggrieves of which to be cited herewith: Piracy, smuggling…” The official continued.

Sawyer makes his way through the crowd. He glances around the square, clearly watching for something.

“This is wrong.” Juliet said, looking at Mack.

Tyrell does not respond. Rose speaks for him.

“Commodore Tyrell is bound by the law. As are we all.” Rose said sadly, not wanting to execute Mack given his help, but knowing it has to be done.

“…impersonating a cleric of the church…” The official continued.

Mack smiles at that accusation, until he looks at the executioner.

“…sailing under false colors, arson, kidnapping, looting, poaching, pilfering, depravity, degradation, and general lawlessness…” The official continued.

Sawyer is getting impatient. Then he spots: Lotton’s scallop. It lands on a flag pole held by Murray. Murray looks up, sees the scallop and surreptitiously tries to dislodge the scallop.

That's the signal. Sawyer heads into the crowd. 

“…and for these crimes, you have been sentenced on this day to be hung by the neck until dead. May Neptune have mercy on your soul.” The official finished.

Sawyer's route takes him past Rose, Tyrell and Juliet. He pauses.

“Governor Rose. Commodore.” Sawyer greeted.

They glance at him. Juliet does not.

“Juliet.” Sawyer greeted.

She looks at him, surprised.

“I shoulda told you from the moment I met you...I love you.” Sawyer decreed.

Now she's shocked, as are Rose and Tyrell. Sawyer seems if he's going to say more, but then nods, satisfied that he's said all that's necessary. He continues on his way.

Juliet looks after him: he's pushing through the crowd towards the gallows, where the noose is put around Mack's neck. Juliet spots Lotton’s scallop and puts it together.

Sawyer throws open his cloak, puts a hand on his sword hilt. Tyrell moves past Juliet, staring at Sawyer.

“Soldiers!” Tyrell ordered.

Juliet suddenly staggers away from Tyrell and Rose.

“I can't breathe!” Juliet said, and pretends to faint, as they react to her plight

“Juliet!” Rose panicked.

The commotion has distracted the crowd, and now Sawyer has a direct line of sight to the gallows.

“MOVE!” Sawyer yelled through the crowd.

The executioner grips the release lever. The drum roll ends. Sawyer draws and throws his sword. The executioner pulls the lever. The trap door opens. Mack drops. Sawyer's sword embeds in the door. Mack balances on it. Rose fans Juliet and she sits up suddenly.

“…What?” Rose asked, confused, and then he understands.

Sawyer races up the steps of the gallows. Mack still balances, the sword bending, noose tightening. The executioner slashes an axe at Sawyer, knocking his sword away. Sawyer ducks another swing, the axe inadvertently cutting Mack's rope. Mack drops to the ground below the gallows.

Sawyer knocks the executioner off the gallows platform. The executioner falls into the crowd on top of Tyrell and his team. Mack stands and slits the rope that binds his hands on the sword that is sticking in the trap door. Mack races from under the gallows as Sawyer leaps down. Mack pulls off the noose, and tosses one end of the rope to Sawyer. They trip some soldiers coming down the steps as they run up.

Sawyer and Mack go left. Soldiers, led by Pearson, cut them off. They whirl right to see more soldiers. Rifles are brought to bear. They are cornered. Tyrell strides up, followed by Rose and Juliet. Tyrell holds his sword on Sawyer and Mack.

“I thought we might have to endure some ill-conceived manner of escape attempt. But not from you, Mr. Turner.” Tyrell said, disappointed.

“On our return to Port Royale, I granted you clemency, and this is how you thank me? By throwing in your lot with him? He is a pirate!” Rose reminded.

“And a good guy. If all I have achieved here is that the hangman will earn two pairs of boots instead of one..so be it. At least my conscience is clear.” Sawyer replied.

“You forget your place, Turner.” Tyrell reminded.

Sawyer pointedly glances down and back up, giving a small smile.

“It's right here, between you and Mack, partner.” Sawyer replied.

Juliet steps beside him.

“As is mine.” Juliet said.

“…Juliet.” Rose said, not believing this.

She links her hand in Sawyer's.

“Lower your weapons! For goodness sake, put them down!” Rose ordered.

Tyrell glances from Juliet to Pearson, and nods almost imperceptibly. Pearson gestures for the soldiers to lower their rifles. They do.

“So this is where your loyalty truly lies, then?” Tyrell questioned.

“It does.” Juliet replied.

He looks at Sawyer narrowly. Rose realizes what Tyrell has already figured out. Juliet stands defiantly beside Sawyer. A tense stand-off. Mack is worried about the outcome, and then he spots Lotton’s scallop. He smiles.

“Well, I'm actually feeling rather good about this. I think we've all arrived at a very special place, eh? Spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically…I want you to know that I was rooting for you, mate. You be more honorable than Valek. Know that.” Mack said heartfully to Tyrell.

Tyrell, despite his dislike for Mack, appreciates the sentiment.

“Juliet…it would never have worked between us, darling. I'm sorry.” Mack apologized to her.

Juliet rolls her eyes, not having been interested in him to begin with.

“And Sawyer…nice hat.” Mack complimented to him.

With that, Mack springs up the steps to the wall.

“Friends! This is the day you will always remember as the day that you…” Mack was declaring.

Mack slips, losing his balance and falls. Mack plunges, turning his fall into a passable dive, and splashes into the water. Everyone rushes to look over the wall, and Mack surfaces.

“Idiot. He's nowhere to go but back to the noose.” Pearson said, ready to apprehend him.

“Sail ho!” A soldier yelled, spotting something over yonder.

Sailing into view, sails full, is the Eclipse Pearl. Mack smiles at the sight. He knew Higgs would come back for him.

Tyrell watches the scene below.

“What's your plan of action? Sir?” Pearson asked him.

Tyrell does not respond, dealing with all the ramifications of the last few minutes. Rose recognizes his dilemma.

“Perhaps on the rare occasion when pursuing the right course demands an act of piracy, piracy itself can be the right course?” Rose pondered.

Tyrell looks at him. He nods and then turns from the wall, to Sawyer and Juliet.

“Mister Turner.” Tyrell said to Sawyer.

Sawyer starts toward him. Juliet grips his arm, concerned for his fate.

“I accept the consequences of my actions.” Sawyer said boldly.

Juliet understands and admires that. She releases his arm. Sawyer joins Tyrell, who still holds the sword. A private moment between the two men.

“This is a beautiful sword. I would expect the man who made it to show the same care and devotion in everyaspect of his life.” Tyrell said respectfully.

Sawyer is surprised; then nods to Tyrell. They understand each other. Tyrell trusts Sawyer to protect Juliet now.

“Thank you.” Sawyer replied.

Tyrell turns away, and starts down the stairs.

“Commodore? What about Stark?” Pearson asked.

“Oh, I think we can afford to give him one day's head start.” Tyrell replied, smiling.

Pearson watches him go, confused. Then Pearson gets it.

On the parapet, Juliet and Sawyer lock eyes, and then move together into each other's arms. 

“So this is the path you've chosen, is it? After all, he is a blacksmith…” Rose noted.

“No…He’s a pirate.” Juliet replied, smiling at Sawyer.

Rose smiles and turns away to give them a bit of privacy. Sawyer smiles, turns and the two kiss, a kiss that makes up for everything ever held back between them.

Lotton, high atop the aft mast, throws a line. In the water, Mack catches the line. 

“Heave!” Higgs yells, pulling him in.

Mack is lifted up and around the fantail of the Eclipse Pearl and onto the deck. He pauses, looks around him, taking it all in. It’s finally his again. Mack looks up at Higgs.

“Thought you were supposed to keep to the code.” Mack said smugly.

“We figured they were more actual…guidelines.” Higgs replied.

Higgs smiles, offers Mack his hand and helps him to his feet. The two laugh, as Mack pats Higgs on the back. Mack takes his hat from Lotton.

“Thank you.” Mack said to Lotton, putting on the hat.

Shelly is standing at the wheel. She steps away, holds out Mack's coat, welcoming him aboard. As Mack shoulders into it...

“Captain Stark…the Eclipse Pearl is yours.” Shelly decreed.

Mack runs a hand lovingly along the wheel. It feels good, and right, in his hands. Suddenly, he feels the eyes of the crew on him.

“On deck, you scabrous dogs! Hands to braces, let go and haul to run free!” Mack ordered.

The crew scatters, obeying his commands. Mara smiles at Mack, who is still aboard.

“Looking for a captain?” Mack asked.

“Nah, I need a ride since mine's late. But if you need my help again…” Mara said, handing him a note showing where to drop her off, and to find her again.

Mack then looks at Treasure, as it happily sits next to him. Mack had no idea where Treasure came from, and still did not know what made it so special, but he promises to himself to someday find out both of those answers.

“Now…bring me that horizon…” Mack said happily.

He opens the compass, takes a reading, and adjusts the course. 

“…and really bad eggs...drink up me hearties, yo ho…” Mack hummed to himself.

Mack flips the compass closed, and sets sail for his next adventure into the horizon.

Notes/Trivia:

-Deaths: Valek, Stewart, IR-44, Jonesy, Koler and Bedossa

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On 8/11/2020 at 4:26 AM, 4EverGreen said:

Are you going to do your own versions of the rest of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies? Just curious.

Season 2 is coming in October.

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What do ya know, I did manage to stick to my October promise (kind of). Here's the S2 premiere earlier than scheduled as a Halloween present. As I said in the news thread, this will now be the final season.

21. Turning Tides

Three months have passed since Mack’s perilous adventure to Isla de Condenar. The haunted island had been swallowed into the stormy seas after the battle, never to be seen again, and with it, went its treasure. Mack knew it was for the best, the power of the curse should never be used by anyone again. The new Eclipse Pearl crew continued its escapades over the time, finding new treasures and discoveries. They still had to deal with being pursued by the Royal Navy, who are more hellbent on catching them than ever before. Tyrell’s team in particular were fiercely hunting after them. At one point, Tyrell tried to chase them through a Triple Dark storm, which his crew heavily advised him against. Tyrell was not deterred and tried to sail through. The Eclipse Pearl made it out of the storm, and Tyrell’s crew was lost to the storm. Mack and his crew have not seen the commodore since this incident, unsure what became of him. They knew he was likely still alive however, and bent on vengeance, wherever he may be…

Mack had continued to look after Treasure as if it were a pirate’s true companion pet. However, even the creature was still not safe. Other rival pirate groups and bounty hunters were still determined to get their hands on the creature, continuing to give Mack’s crew trouble throughout the three months. They had become the talk of Enhalas, being seen as an unbeatable team. Mack and his crew had tried to spread the word about Treasure being of no worth, and that it was all a scheme set up by Admiral Valek to cause disarray among the pirates, but none of them were buying it. With the admiral dead, there was no way to call off the hunt nor clear the air, so his vengeance lingered on. Mack and the crew had no trouble dealing with the scoundrels, but they could not deny it was getting exhausting. Nonetheless, they persisted and Treasure was kept safe, with the crew members all warming up to the creature and having their own fun stories with it. Mara had aided the group with a few early adventures, but eventually left to focus on her bounty hunting career again. In her place, they managed to recruit one new crew member: A gruff but hardworking pirate going by the moniker of Feech, which the crew had presumed was a nickname he got from his peers. Whatever the story was behind that name, Feech had proved his worth as a crew member, helping them get out of quite a situation when a rival pirate group set a trap for an ambush. Without his bravery, they may not have made it out of that mess.

The ship makes port at a familiar sight: Nevarro. The Pearl docks at the shore, as Mack boards off, promising to his crew that this will be a quick stop. He holds a flower in one hand and fruits in the other. He walks off into the jungles, and finds the spot where Echo used to reside. Several of Echo’s jellyfish look around, and are happy to see Mack again. He had been visiting the island a few times since Echo’s death to look after them, as a way of repaying his debt to him. 

“Uncle Mack has some snacks for ye laddies!” Mack said, tossing out the fruits, which the jellyfish begin to eat.

Mack then approaches a grave he left for Echo near his hut, looking at it with great remorse. He leaves a flower in front of it, placed alongside several other flowers he had left in the past few months. He then gives off a salute, honoring the fallen ally. Mack returns to The Eclipse Pearl, where his fellow crew mates Higgs, Jen, Lotton, Merlin, Shelly, Duncan and Feech are waiting, eager to hit the seas once more.

“That was an even quicker stop than the last one, good cap’n. Where we off to next?” Feech noted.

“Whichever way the wind blows, we follow. Or, perhaps yet, look at Duncan’s trusty map he snagged from the Outpost and see which course seems best towards our interests.” Mack replied, shrugging. 

“Where is that grouch Duncan anyway?” Shelly asked.

Duncan is seen asleep, leaning across a crate, and Treasure is also sleeping on a crate next to him.

“Hey lazy bones, get up for work!” Jen shouted into his ear, startling Duncan and making him fall to the deck. The other crew mates give off hearty chuckles.

“You know you’re a pain in my ass, right?” Duncan asked somewhat jokingly to Jen.

“Enough blab and hand us your map, lad. We’re looking for a new destination on the horizon.” Higgs ordered, as Duncan sighs and pulls out the map.

They look at the map, as the crew discusses amongst themselves which course to take. In the end, they choose a path they have not been to yet in their time together. The Eclipse Pearl takes off once again, as it spots Port Royale in the distance. Mack reminisces over his time being stranded there three months ago, both the good and not so good times. He had pondered how Juliet and Sawyer were doing there since they last interacted, but felt it was best to leave the two lovebirds be. The island becomes a fleeting thought as it shrinks in the distance behind him.

The sea breeze slaps the Pearl from side to side as they keep sailing onward through the day. They follow their plotted course, hoping to find a new treasure, or in Mack’s case, rum, of which they could seriously use new stock of. The ship keeps sailing along, when Lotton’s scallop spots something in the distance, as it flies off of his shoulder.

“Land ho!” Lotton’s scallop shouted.

The crew looks to spot an island off the port bow in the distance, with Mack looking through his telescope to analyze the island.

“What’s over yonder?” Merlin asked, not recognizing the island, as Duncan immediately consults his map.

“According to this, it’s a quaint little isle called Sabaco. I ain’t exactly familiar with what’s there though, but heard of it.” Duncan said.

“It be an island known for its famous hot springs and best of all, the bargains you can make at its marketplace. Many of the commoners are pirate sympathizers, so ye need not worry about them rattin’ us out.” Higgs explained, as Mack closes his telescope.

“I’ve been there before, they got better deals than Latorga’s crummy markets.” Jen admitted.

“Ah yes, I took quite a lovely spa day there once several years ago, was quite relaxing, really. Some of that exquisite merchandise we can barter, and we’ve got quite a loot to spend. All hands, we make way for Sabaco!” Mack ordered, turning the ship’s wheel toward their destination.

The Eclipse Pearl docks at Sabaco’s bay. Mack sets foot on the island with his crew, who have their own bags of money ready, but kept close in case of any shifty thieves afloat. Treasure crawls along with them. They take in the beautiful sights, a rarity to see on an island in Enhalas given most tend to be pillaged and plundered. Most pirates had come to strangely respect this island, seeing it as a “neutral ground” of sorts where they would not bother the residents, for they did not want to ruin any sale opportunities nor inflict the residents’ wrath. While they’re mostly peaceful, many have heard tales did not end well for several scoundrels that tried to scam the merchants off, who proved themselves to be capable fighters. Due to the island’s neutral ground however, the Royal Navy also came by for protection and the markets. The pirates had to plan accordingly to avoid being there at the same time as them. 

Several artistically designed hut houses are spread out in the main village. The crew walks forward, seeing the sign, which points three ways: to the right are the hot springs, upwards are more homes, and to the left is the lively marketplace. Merchants from far and wide across the sea had come to set up shop at Sabaco’s marketplace. Sabaco was closer to the border of the Enhalas regions, which made it easier for people to travel to without risk of pirate or supernatural threats. Mack’s crew walks through the marketplace, passing by island commoners, a few tourists and pirates.

“Get your fresh, natural Posidonia made tea here!” A merchant shouted.

“Unique clothing on sale from Hydroko over here!” Another merchant offered.

“Any of ye brave enough for larceny?” Merlin cheekily suggested.

“Not wise.” Jen said, noting to one thief trying to make off with a compass, but one of the island residents points a spear at him.

The thief tries to run, but another resident knocks him out cold, as a crowd cheers. Merlin silently takes his challenge back, now seeing to not piss off the hand that feeds you. The crew keeps walking along the path, checking out the variety of stands. At one of them, Clarence and Casey are seen together, who had found yet another place to set up shop. Clarence waves to Mack and his crew.

“Fancy seeing you lot here in such a clean place!” Clarence said, eager to see them, as Mack’s crew approaches. Mack shakes his hand.

“Continuing to experiment with new shop locales, you do seem to be.” Mack noted.

“Aye, figured I’d try my luck here. Alas, there hasn’t been much interest in the black market merchandise…” Clarence sighed.

“I told ya you’d get overshadowed here by all those other fancy merchants.” Casey replied, looking bored.

“I’ll put a smile on your face and make a quaint purchase, being one of your must truest loyal customers, eh?” Mack offered to cheer his pal Clarence up.

“I know I can always count on you, Mack my chum! Take a look.” Clarence said, showing his products.

Most are the typical illegal weapons and substances Mack is accustomed to by now, but catches something of intrigue to his prying eyes: a gold ball, at a shockingly low price of 25 doubloons, which was a surprise for Clarence’s standards.

“I’ll take that. Goldie ball, right there.” Mack said, surprising Clarence and Casey, as he forks over the doubloons on the table.

“…Really, that? That thing has been worthless! But, who am I to argue, it’s yours.” Clarence shrugged, handing Mack the ball.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholders, mate. I foresee this serving me well, or if not, a good knick knack it’ll make.” Mack replied, feeling it and seeing it shine.

“Anyone else want anything?” Clarence offered to Mack’s crew.

“Hmm, I like that sword. I’ll take it, despite the high price.” Duncan said, as he pays up, which brightens up Clarence’s mood.

“Thank you for your kind patronage!” Clarence replied, handing him the sword, who practices with it.

“Show off.” Jen taunted, as Duncan rolls his eyes.

They continue exploring around the market. Mack spots a wanted poster for Randolph Casterfel, the senator and pirate sympathizer he helped escape from Port Royale months back. He has a bounty of 800,000 doubloons on his head.

“Ah, I remember that chap. Handsome fellow, wonder where he is now…” Mack pondered.

The thought passes his mind, as he spots a stand with alcoholic beverages, and he quickly makes his way over there. While doing that, Treasure wanders off and begins biting on a watermelon at a fruit stand, causing the merchant to get angry and Higgs takes the creature. Mack searches the inventory for rum, but to his dismay, does not see any in stock.

“Where’s the rum?” Mack asked the merchant.

“All out, sorry partner.” The merchant replied, much to Mack’s dismay.

“Damnit, now that is cruel luck.” Mack sighed, as he walks away defeated, and the crew continues to shop around for supplies.

At Port Royale, palm trees bend sideways. Chairs are scattered, disorderly, wind-blown. An altar has been set up, preparations for a wedding. A parasol blows past Juliet Rose, in a drenched wedding dress, who slumps down onto the grass. On her face, tears are mixing with the rain. Juliet and Sawyer had been living a peaceful romantic life in the intervening three months since the chaos they went through with Mack. The two were loving their peaceful life together, not having to worry about being dragged into pirate warfare again. They settled down on Port Royale, and Sawyer managed to have the guts to propose to Juliet a few weeks prior. Juliet had truly been looking forward to this wedding, and now forces of nature had ruined it. Unfortunately, their romantic vacation would be coming to a close…

In the harbor, Royal Navy ships are anchored in a line across the bay, including the HMS Endeavor. At the shore, a white-suited man, Lord Benjamin Lennett, sits astride on a longboat coming to shore. At his side is his clerk, Ivan Melching. Pearson spots them coming from the harbor, and is shocked upon recognizing the uniforms his soldiers are wearing.

“The Company is here.” Pearson realized, as his soldiers are also surprisde.

In the chapel, the rain hammers down, while wind blows. Juliet is seemingly oblivious to it. In the town, longboats reach the docks. Soldiers disembark. Booted feet march through the streets. Soldiers batter down the door of the Blacksmith's shop, rush inside, which wakes up a sleeping Mr. Brown.

“Ever heard of knocking!?” Mr. Brown asked angrily and groggily, still drunken.

At the chapel, Lennett strides out onto the grounds. Behind him, the Eastern Trading Company soldiers come in in a two-line formation. Sawyer Turner, in manacles and chains, half-walks, is half-shoved forward. He has an aggravated look on his face, not enjoying this situation. Juliet sees him. She runs past Lennett, into the chapel. Juliet runs to Sawyer. A soldier tries to stop her, but she pushes his arm away with a glare, and embraces Sawyer.

“Sawyer, what is happening?” Juliet asked, confused.

Sawyer shakes his head, shrugging as best he can.

“Wish I could tell ya, sorry.” Sawyer replied.

He takes her in, and cannot help himself.

“You look beautiful.” Sawyer said.

Juliet smiles at the incongruity of the statement to the situation...and her own first thought. 

“You know it's bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding.” Juliet reminded. This makes him smile as well; nothing like gallows humor. 

“That would explain our uninvited guests here.” Sawyer replied.

Governor Rose pushes his way through the crowd and soldiers. A quick, shocked appraisal of the scene, addresses the soldier who seems to be in charge.

“You. Order your men stand down, and remove these things at once.” Rose ordered, but the soldier makes no move. “Did you hear me?”

“Governor Isaac Rose. My apologies for arriving without an invitation. That cannot be your daughter, little Juliet?” Lord Lennett inquired, introducing himself.

“Benjamin Lennett?” Rose asked, recognizing him.

“It's Lord, now, actually.” Lennett corrected.

“Lord or not, you have no reason and no authority to arrest this man.” Rose argued.

“I must politely disagree governor, because in fact, I do have reason and authority. Mister Melching?” Lennett replied, looking to his lackey.

Melching steps up, hardly anyone's image of a clerk, and opens a large dispatch case. Lennett bullets through it, removing several documents. He hands them to Rose as he lists them. 

“My appointment to the Royal Commission for Oceanic Trade and Protection. The Commission charter, granting it extraordinary powers in matter both governmental and military. And the warrant for the arrest of a Sawyer Turner.” Lennett explained.

This one, Rose has a chance to do more than glance at.

“This is for Juliet Rose!” Rose realized, as Lennett takes it back.

“Is it? How odd…my mistake.” Lennett replied, as he turns back to the case. 

He then offhandedly orders to his soldiers, “Arrest her.” Company soldiers grab Juliet. What several struggles she and Sawyer can put up are easily overwhelmed by sheer numbers. 

“On what charges?” Juliet asked, furious, but Lennett ignores her.

“Aha. Here's the warrant for Sawyer Turner. And I have another one for a James Tyrell. Any idea where he is?” Lennett asked.

“What are the charges?” Juliet asked, but is ignored again.

“Commodore Tyrell resigned his commission months ago following a failed mission to apprehend a pirate crew.” Rose responded.

“That does not seem an answer to the question I asked.” Lennett replied.

“And we haven't seen him since!” Rose added.

“Lord Lennett!” Sawyer shouted, getting his attention. “In your lil’ category of questions not answered…”

Sawyer tilts his head toward Juliet, asking her to pay attention. Lennett looks at her. 

“We are Ludwigian subjects under jurisdiction of the King's Governor of Port Royale, and we demand to know the charges against us.” Juliet asked.

“The charge is conspiring to secure the unlawful release of a convict, charged and tried for crimes against the Crown and Empire, and condemned to death. For which, regrettably, the punishment is also death. You do remember a pirate named, I believe it is, Mack Stark?” Lennett explained.

“Captain.” Juliet and Sawyer both corrected, as they glance at each other. 

“Captain Mack Stark.” Juliet admitted.

“Yes. I thought you might.” Lennett replied, getting them to confess like planned.

A jerk of his head, signaling for Sawyer and Juliet to be taken away. Juliet glances back at Rose. Rose hates it, but gives her a slight nod: go along with it for now. He would rather not invoke the wrath of the Company upon the island.

Meanwhile, Mack and his crew depart from Sabaco, pleased at the products they purchased. 

“I’d say we made out like bandits!” Merlin said, pleased at his new pair of new boots.

Mack keeps holding the gold ball he purchased, hoping it’ll come in handy sooner than he expects. The Pearl sails on its way once more, when they hear the sound of cannon fire.

“INCOMING!” Feech yelled, as Mack quickly spins the wheel, and everyone holds on tight.

The ship swerves just in time, barely avoiding cannon fire. They look toward starboard, seeing a rival pirate ship attacking them, hellbent on obtaining Treasure for the reputation it’d bring them.

“We’re taking that pet, Stark! Your “undefeated” streak stops here!” The captain shouted, waving his sword furiously, as Treasure looks over yonder in curiosity.

“Great, I was hoping to go one day without dealing with this.” Jen said.

“I for one have been itching for ship combat.” Duncan said, cracking his knuckles.

“To your stations!” Mack ordered, as Duncan immediately mans a front canon.

Duncan sends off a first shot, hitting the hull of the rival ship, as wood falls off. His crew quickly adjusts the ship’s direction in response, and fire off several more shots. Two of them hit the side of the Pearl, making it tremor. Merlin, Lotton and Higgs let off more shots from the deck below, but the rival ship is able to avoid them due to taking advantage of the winds, as its mast swiftly turns thanks to its crew.

“They’re too fast! We need a new strategy, captain!” Shelly yelled, trying to adjust their own mast’s flag to flow with the wind speed.

Mack peers through his telescope, seeing how in harmony the captain is with steering his ship, reflecting in tune with his crew turning the mast. Mack then looks at the gold ball he bought, and gets a brilliant idea. Mack then holds up the gold ball, as the sun’s light shines onto it. It reflects out at the rival ship, blinding the captain’s eyes.

“I can’t see!” The captain panicked, sloppily turning the wheel.

Mack then shines it at the crew near the mast, making them lose focus as well. This causes the ship to lose its clever maneuvers, and opens it up for attack. The Eclipse Pearl opens fire, sending multiple cannonballs right into the heart of the ship. The rival ship explodes due to the gunpowder barrels being hit. Mack’s crew watches in awe as the rival ship sinks into the murky waters, with debris flying everywhere. Some of the survivors flounder around, trying to paddle their way out.

“Clarence you card, coming through for us again!” Mack said eagerly, kissing the gold ball as a thanks to him.

“That’ll teach them to mess with our lil’ buddy!” Duncan boasted, giving Treasure a pet, and the creature smiles.

“That ball had a use after all, wow.” Feech said.

“Remember: always keep your eye on the sea. Even the most seemingly useless object can have its purpose. Twas one of my first lessons upon obtaining this ship.” Mack reminisced. 

“Aye, here’s to another ten years of the Pearl, with you as captain!” Higgs said, raising a toast.

Mack then freezes upon hearing that, letting “10 years” echo throughout his mind. He then realizes something horrible, as if his past is coming back to haunt him again, and that a deadline is fast approaching him.

“Are ye alright, Mack?” Higgs asked, concerned.

Mack tries to hide a nervous expression, shaking it off as he reassures Higgs he’s fine. He opens his compass, trying to plot a new course, as the ship sails onward once more. Treasure crawls off of a crate and looks up at Mack. The creature can tell he is stressed over something, as it curiously crawls around to follow him.

In an Eastern Trading Company office, which has been set up in one of Fort Weatherby’s spare rooms, Lennett uses a cane to stoke the fire. Sawyer is escorted in by soldiers. They adjust his shackles to be tighter so he will not attempt any escape.

“Alright alright, y’all don’t need to keep holding me so damn tight!” Sawyer complained.

“Those won't be necessary.” Lennett said, indicating the chains.

The soldiers remove Sawyer’s shackles and exit, relieving him. A map of Enhalas, unfinished, drawn onto the wall itself, dominates the office. Lennett has been trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together so the Eastern Trading Company knows exactly where to strike in the unknown regions of Enhalas.

“Gonna a release Juliet as well?” Sawyer asked, worried for her well being.

“That is entirely up to you.” Lennett replied.

“Really? Well alrighty then, I'll just pop out and tell your guards to let her go.” Sawyer said casually.

“Clarifying: that is entirely dependent on you. The Eastern Trading Company has need of your services.” Lennett elaborated, revealing his affiliation.

“Now what’s yer Eastern Trading Company doing here in Enhalas?” Sawyer asked curiously. Lennett indicates the unfinished map on the wall. 

“It would not be in the best interests of the Empire to be bound by matters of geography, would it? After all, when goods do not cross borders, armies will. For too long Enhalas has gotten in the way of trade due to its relatively mysterious nature. But what was once unknown will soon become known.” Lennett explained.

Sawyer is not keen on Lennett's economic lesson.

“If y’all were gonna arrest me, could ya have not chosen my wedding day?” Sawyer said, still annoyed.

“My apologies, sir. We would’ve arrived sooner following the incidents that occurred here months ago, one of which resulting in the death of a high ranking admiral, but alas, getting approval is a tedious process. Now then, onto the relevant matters: We wish for you to act as our agent in a business transaction with our mutual friend, Captain Stark.” Lennett explained.

“I’d say we’re more acquaintances than friends. How do you know ‘em?” Sawyer asked.

Lennett examines the now-glowing tip of the cane.

“We’ve had dealings in the past…and we have each left our marks on the other.” Lennett explained bitterly.

He turns it so that Sawyer can clearly see the cane's tip, which has a raised, reversed capital 'P' on the end. 

“Now what kind of mark did he leave on you?” Sawyer asked.

Lennett looks at him levelly; it's nothing he cares to discuss, as if trying to repress a horrific memory.

“By your efforts Mack Stark was set free. I ask you to go to him, and recover a certain property in his possession.” Lennett explained.

“Recover. At the point of a sword?” Sawyer asked, not exactly wanting to get on Mack’s bad side after what they went through.

“Bargain. To mutual benefit and for fair value.” Lennett continued.

Lennett moves to a case. He removes a set of papers, elaborate in design, signed by the King of Ludwigia. Ludwigia is the country where the Royal Navy originated from.

“Letters of Marque. You will offer what amounts to a full pardon. Mack will be free, a privateer in the employ of Ludwigia.” Lennett explained, tossing them at Sawyer as he moves to the doors leading out to the balcony. 

“For some reason, I doubt Mack will be considerin’ employment the same as freedom.” Sawyer noted.

“Freedom.” Lennett added.

An oversized town-square clock face is lifted out of a cargo hold, onto the dock. Lennett watches from the balcony rail. 

“Mack Stark is a dying breed, as are his pirate friends who think they are safe in in this lawless world. Enhalas needs to adapt and evolve to modern times. The world is changing, the blank edges of the map filled in. Mack will have to find a place in the new order, or perish.” Lennett spoke.

He turns and focuses on Sawyer.

“Not unlike you. You and your fiancee face the hangman's noose. Certainly that's motivation enough for you to convince Captain Stark to accept our offer. And for you to accept, as well. Mr. Turner?” Lennett continued.

He extends his hand. Sawyer reaches out and shakes it, not having much of a choice as he is not foolish enough to go against the Eastern Trading Company at this moment. Of course,

“You'll get both Mack…and the Eclipse Pearl.” Sawyer revealed, that name surprising Lennett.

“The Eclipse Pearl?” Lennett asked. 

“The property you want that he possesses, I reckon.” Sawyer guessed.

“We have plenty of ships. The Eclipse Pearl is of no interest to us. No, Mr. Turner, the item in question is considerably smaller and far more valuable, something Stark keeps on his person at all times. A compass.” Lennett revealed, and he notes Sawyer’s reaction. “Ah, you know it. Bring back the compass…or there is no deal.”

Sawyer understands, and heads off. At the Port Royale jail, Juliet is shown behind bars. Sawyer enters, pushing a guard at the door. 

“Here, now! You can't be here!” The guard said, trying to stop him.

Rose has followed Sawyer through the door. 

“I believe he can.” Rose corrected.

“Mister Rose!” The guard said, surprised.

“Governor Rose, still. I'm not wearing this wig to keep my head warm, you know. Carlson, isn't it? Enjoy your job, Mr. Carlson?” Rose asked to the guard.

“Yes, sir. Particularly when the folks come to visit the prisoners.” Carlson replied.

“Very good.” Rose replied, smiling.

He then inclines his head toward the door. Carlson gets the hint, then exits. Sawyer approaches the bars, telling Juliet about his meeting with Lennett.

“Mack's compass? Why would Lennett want that?” Juliet asked.

Sawyer is outside the cell, with a Guard in the background. Rose stands discretely back, but listening in. 

“Does it matter, dear? I gotta find Mack and convince him to return to Port Royale. In exchange, the charges against us will be dropped.” Sawyer explained. 

“Well, that's it, then. We must find our own avenue to secure your freedom.” Rose said.

“Is that a lack of faith in Mack, or in me?” Sawyer asked.

“That you would put your life at risk to save Stark’s does not mean he would do the same for anyone else. Where is that silly dog with the keys?” Rose asked, looking around.

“I have faith in you…both of you. It's Ben Lennett that can't be trusted.” Juliet reminded her father.

“But if I hadn't set Mack free-“ Sawyer was saying, knowing he set off a chain reaction of events.

“Don't say that. You did what you thought was right.” Juliet reminded.

Sawyer steps close to Juliet.

“I never did expected you’d bear the consequences.” Sawyer noted.

“I share the consequences…gladly. How are you going to find him?” Juliet asked.

Her certainty is infectious. He intertwines her fingers with his, around the bars. 

“Latorga. I’ll start there, and won’t stop searchin’ until I do…and then I’ll come back here, and we can finally be married.” Sawyer said hopefully.

Juliet steps as close to Sawyer as the bars allow. 

“Properly?” Juliet asked.

Her flirtatiousness is infectious, too. 

“Eagerly. If you'll still have me, that is.” Sawyer noted.

“If it weren't for these bars...I would have you already.” Juliet lamented.

Rose clears his throat. They're a bit self-conscious, but not all that embarrassed. Sawyer kisses her on her fingers. 

“I'll wait for you.” Juliet said, as Sawyer smiles.

“Not much choice, is there now darling? Keep a weather eye on the horizon.” Sawyer noted

He exits. Juliet watches him go. Rose watches her, concerned. 

At the Eclipse Pearl, Mack, the 'P' brand visible on his wrist, holds the compass. He doesn't like what he sees. He closes the lid, shakes it, and sneaks the lid open. Still not to his liking. He's been trying to chart a course with divider and triangle protractor. Several attempts, all scratched out. He reaches for a bottle of rum, and to his dismay, it’s empty. 

“Why is the rum always gone?” Mack asked, sighing.

He stands up and staggers a bit.

“Right. That's why.” Mack noted.

He makes his way carefully to the cabin door. Miles of empty ocean all around, neither ship nor shore in sight. Mack makes his way toward a hatch. 

“Heading, Captain?” Feech asked.

“Steady as she goes…” Mack replied.

Later at night, hammocks are strung up, the crew sleeping. Lotton's foot is jammed into Merlin’s face. Mack is in the ship’s rum locker. He checks out the racks, to see they are nearly empty. He finds a bottle, tugging it out, which proves difficult, because it is oddly crusted with barnacles. The bottle feels wrong. Mack uncorks it, peers inside, and turns it over. Sand spills out, onto the deck. Something is clearly wrong.

"Time's run out, Mack.” A voice spoke, startling him.

Mack turns slowly. A figure in the shadows. The man is pale, with bleached out skin; starfish and barnacles seem to be part of his face and neck. 
“…Bootstrap? Buck Turner?” Mack inquired, in disbelief. Buck nods.

“Mack Stark. You look good.” Bootstrap Buck replied.

Bootstrap steps out of the shadows. Mack wishes he could say the same. He tries a few times, but can’t, his eyes still refusing to believe what is before him.

“This be a dream?” Mack inquired.

“No.” Bootstrap replied.

“I thought not. If it were, there'd be rum.” Mack replied, smirking.

Bootstrap grins. He raises an arm, offering Mack a bottle of rum, making him smile. It costs a bit of effort to pull it loose, since Bootstrap's hand is also encrusted with barnacles. Mack sniff its, and recognizes the delightful scent of rum. He wipes the mouth of the bottle. 

“You got the Pearl back, I see.” Bootstrap noted.

Mack is caught up staring at Bootstrap, trying to process what sort of creature his former crew mate has turned into.

“Had some help retrieving the Pearl. From your son.” Mack revealed.

Bootstrap is taken aback by this reveal.

“Sawyer?” Bootstrap asked, as Mack nods. “He ended up a pirate, after all…”

“Through perhaps a liberal definition of 'pirate.' He's got an unhealthy streak of honest to him.” Mack explained.

“That's something, then. Though no credit to me.” Bootstrap replied.

“And to what do I owe the pleasure of your carbuncle?” Mack inquired.

“Davy Jones. He sent me as an emissary.” Bootstrap revealed.

Mack nods. He's been expecting this. 

“Ah, it's you, then. He shanghaied you into service, then.” Mack guessed.

“I chose it. I'm sorry for being unable to stop the mutiny, Mack.” Bootstrap apologized.

Mack waves it off. 

“Wasn’t your fault, mate.” Mack replied.

“Everything went horribly wrong after that. I ended up cursed, doomed to the depths of the ocean, the weight of the water crushing down on me. Unable to move…unable to die. All I could do was think. And mostly I thought, even the tiniest hope of escaping this fate...I would take it. Trade anything for it.” Bootstrap explained.

“That is the kind of thinking bound to catch his attention.” Mack realized.

“It did. Davy Jones came. Made the offer. I could spend one hundred years before the mast, with the hope that after, I would go on to a peaceful rest.” Bootstrap continued.

“Funny what a man'll do to forestall his final judgment day.” Mack said.

“You made a deal with him, too, Mack. He raised the Pearl from the depths for you, and ten years you've been her Captain.” Bootstrap explained.

“Technically, I’ve only served two-“ Mack was saying. 

“You won't be able to talk your way out of this. The terms what applied to me apply to you, as well. One soul, bound to crew a lifetime upon his ship.” Bootstrap said, as a crab crawls out of him; he crushes and eats it.

“The Cursed Bones already has a captain, so there's no need for me.” Mack shrugged.

Bootstrap sighs, nodding. The answer he expected. 

“Then it's the Locker for you. Jones' leviathan will find you and drag the Pearl back to the depths, and you along with it.” Bootstrap grimly explained.

“Any idea on when Jones will release said terrible beastie?” Mack inquired.

“I told you, Mack: your time is up.” Bootstrap replied.

He raises an arm, and indicates Mack's hand. Mack backs away, but suddenly, a black spot appears on his hand. Mack stares at it. 

“It's not a matter of how long 'til it comes after you, it’s a matter of how long 'til you're found.” Bootstrap finished regrettably.

Mack looks up from the spot, to Bootstrap is gone. Only the bottle of rum remains, lying on its side. Mack yelps and runs up to the deck. As Mack races through, he gives orders, waking his crew up.

“On deck! All hands! Lift the skin up, make fast the bundt gasket! Keep your loof! Have care of the lee hatch! Scurry! Movement, I want movement!” Mack yelled.

The crew scrambles to obey, getting to their stations. Mack appears on deck. He wraps a rag around his hand, covering the Black Spot. 

“Haul those sheets! Haul 'em! Run, mates, run, as if the devil himself and itself is on us!” Mack ordered, as the crew is getting increasingly worried, along with Treasure.

“What’s his problem?” Shelly asked, wondering about Mack’s mental state.

“Probably some of that post-battle energy he’s wearing off.” Duncan shrugged.

Higgs searches, finding Mack hiding behind the mast. 

“Do we have a heading?” Higgs asked.

“Land!” Mack replied panic kingly.

“What port?” Higgs asked, not understanding.

“I didn't say port, I said land! Any land!” Mack replied.

Mac, still a skeletal sea monkey, chooses that moment to drop onto Mack's shoulder and scream. The sea monkey does a spinning leg kick aimed at Mack's hat, and the hat flies off. It tumbles overboard and plunges into the water. The sea monkey leaps into the rigging, laughing. Revenge is sweet. Treasure growls at the sea monkey.

“Mack's hat! Bring the ship about!” Higgs ordered.

“No! Leave it!” Mack accepted.

Slow head turn. Higgs can't believe what he's heard. Neither can the sea monkey. The rest of the crew can't believe it, either. 

“Captain Stark not caring about his hat…?” Duncan asked confused to the crew, as they all look at Mack like he grew a second head.

“Mind your stations, the lot of you!” Higgs ordered to them.

The crew gets back to work. Higgs sidles up to Mack, who has moved to look out over the water. 

“Shh!” Mack said to Higgs, moving his finger to his lips.

“For the love of mother and child, Mack, what be coming after us?” Higgs asked, genuinely worried now.

Mack is clearly terrified; what's coming after them is the worst thing he can imagine. But he cannot bring his crew further stress than they already have at the moment.

“Nothing.” Mack lied. Higgs clearly knew something was wrong.

He gives Higgs a little "back to work" gesture. Higgs stares at Mack, who keeps staring out at the water. Mack knew his entire crew was in the greatest danger they’ve ever been in, and it was all his fault. He had to get them as faraway as possible, for Davy Jones’ beast was hunting them.

On the water, Mack's hat floats, turning slowly. The water gradually brightens as the daylight comes. A boat hull passes, and a boat hook appears, snagging Mack's hat out of the water. On deck, a short sailor wrings out the hat, pleased with himself. He tries it on, smiling. The sailor shows it off to his partner sailor, who is taller than him. This sailor decides he likes it too, and grabs it. The little sailor protests, but the tall sailor smacks him in the head. 

In the waters away from the boat, there is an odd, huge hump in the seaweed. It hurries toward the boat ominously. The sailors hear a deep crunch sound from below. The vessel shudders, making the two sailors stagger and scowl. Another crunch is heard, louder this time. The tall sailor looks nervous and doesn't want the hat any more. He shoves it back, but the short sailor doesn’t want it anymore either. Another crunch is heard, even louder than before, and with it, the sound of splintering wood. The two sailors keep passing the hat back and forth. Suddenly, the entire boat is pulled straight down under the water, sending a huge geyser rising upward. Water and splinters rain down. Pieces of ropes and bits of canvas rain down, onto the churning surface. No boat remains are left, as if in the blink of an eye, it was erased from the face of the sea.

At the Eastern Trading Company office, Melching approaches Lennett, who keeps staring at the map. A painter continues to fill it in using notes gathered from Lennett’s forces.

“Can you truly trust the Turner boy?” Melching asked to Lennett, who casually turns around.

“No, but I’ve trapped him into quite a predicament forcing his compliance. We’ll see what fate has in store for him, for I’ve come prepared with several contingencies should he fail us. I believe the tides will turn in the company’s favor. After all, in order to defeat an enemy, you must know everything about them. The late Admiral Valek had the right idea, but alas, let his blind obsession for a pet drive him mad. Thankfully for us however, I already happen to know quite a lot about Mr. Stark, which will work to our advantage. We have quite a history together, and I truly look forward to our reunion…” Lennett said ominously, sipping a cup of tea.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debuts: Lord Benjamin Lennett, Ivan Melching, Feech, Carlson

-Area Debuts: Sabaco

-The scene with Mack visiting Echo’s grave was originally going to be in the S1 finale, but was cut due to time.

-Posidonia from Mystic Guardians and Hydroko from Storm Racers are both mentioned, confirming this is set in the same universe as both.

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22. Beware Skull Island!

The Eclipse Pearl swiftly sails through the murky seas, as Mack tries to find any island for them to stay on. He does not want to run and hide, but when it comes to Davy Jones, he has little choice. There were few things that terrified Mack Stark in the seas, but Davy Jones was an exception to that mantra. Mack looks out his telescope, and sees an incoming island. He does not care what’s on the island, all he knows is that he’s going to hide out there for as long as possible with his crew. Jones’ monster will not get him on land, and he’s content with that.

The ship turns toward the island, as the crew looks out to see it getting closer.

“What island's that?” Shelly asked curiously.

“You have it on your map?” Feech asked to Duncan.

Duncan gets out his map, looking to see if the island is on there. However, he does not see it anywhere on his map.

“Lousy unfinished maps…I’d kill for an actual full map of Enhalas someday!” Duncan said, annoyed.

“Guess we won’t know ‘til we arrive.” Higgs said.

“I would like to know why Stark is going there though in the first place, the question I’m sure is all on our minds. We know he’s clearly nervous about something.” Jen noted.

“But now the question would be, what scares Captain Stark this much?” Merlin pondered.

“If it scares him, then I don’t wanna find out.” Duncan replied.

They then hear a loud thud, as the Eclipse Pearl washes up onto the shore. They look confused, as they look down, seeing the sandy shore below. Treasure crawls around, wondering what has occurred as well. Mack throws a rope overboard, landing into the sand. He quickly slides down, not caring if he gets any rope burn. Mack runs across the sand, as the crew looks at him bizarrely. They take that as a cue to follow.

“You be good pets and stay here, okay?” Jen said to Lotton’s scallop and Treasure, ordering them to stay on board. 

The crew all climbs down off the ship and try to follow Mack. Mack is too fast for them however, as he speeds off toward the jungle.

“Mack, wait!” Higgs yelled to him, but it’s too late.

Mack runs away into the jungle, screaming like a maniac without a thought in the world. All he wants is to be away from the ocean.

“What the hell is he doing!?” Duncan asked, bewildered.

“Could be a fancy training for us, or the captain’s finally snapped.” Merlin suggested.

The crew follows, going into the jungle. Treasure and Lotton’s scallop disobey their orders, as the scallop flies, signaling for Treasure to follow.

“After them, after them!” The scallop said.

Treasure looks below, and jumps, landing into the sand. It gets up, following the scallop into the jungle on their own path.

As the crew walks through the jungles after Mack, they suddenly see several decaying skeletons lying around, making the crew uneasy. Then, Higgs spots the remains of a broken spear stabbed into one of the skeletons, and he walks over to analyze it. He then has a grim expression, upon realizing where they are.

“Oh no…we shouldn’t have come here. This place spells death.” Higgs said, wanting to find Mack and get out of there as quickly as possible.

“Why, what be on this island?” Feech asked.

“I’ve heard whispers about this place over the years, and it seems the legends were true. There’s an indigenous tribe native here that are said to be a hungry group of cannibals, attacking anyone who dares trespass onto their home. The island gets its name “Skull Island” because ye who enter here are turned into nothing but skull and bones, if yer lucky to even have those remain…” Higgs explained grimly, as the crew members all start to immediately wish they could get out of here.

“I don’t wanna be eaten, no way man! What was the captain thinking!?” Merlin panicked.

“We’re pirates, I’m sure we can take those cannibals…right?” Duncan asked, trying to sound brave.

“This tribe is nothing to scoff at boy, from what stories tell. They’ve sent even the most bravest of swashbucklers running away, or in this group’s case, shallow graves.” Higgs said, finding a torn apart pirate bandana on another skeleton.

“One other thing, we should look out for any traps.” Feech suggested, studying their surroundings carefully.

“Are we sure they’re civilized enough to know how to set them up?” Duncan asked, doubtful.

“Do not underestimate ‘em, the lad’s right.” Higgs said, trying to search for any potential traps along with Feech.

Duncan then sees something run past in the distance, thinking it’s Mack.

“Was that Mack? MACK!” Duncan began to yell, and chases after it.

“Slow down!” Jen said, as her and Shelly follow Duncan, trying to stop him.

“Hold on there mateys-“ Higgs was saying, trying to stop them from doing anything stupid.

Suddenly, he steps on a trip wire sneakily camouflaged in the dirt. A net surrounds Higgs, Feech, Lotton and Merlin from the surface, and hoists them in the air, as they hang from a tree branch.

“Get us out of here!” Merlin yelled, flailing around wildly.

Lotton tries to cut the rope with a blade, but he drops it when several figures approach their net. They cut the net down, making the pirates fall to the ground. They are dragged off into the jungles, still in the net.

Jen, Shelly and Duncan look around, not seeing Mack.

“Maybe it was a cannibal instead…if so, bring it on!” Duncan realized, ready to fight.

“Thanks for wasting our time.” Jen said, annoyed.

They then hear Melin’s yelling, and immediately run back. The three try to find their way back to where they were last with the group, but realize they are lost, looking around the jungle confused.

“It was this way, right…or that way…I don’t remember!” Shelly panicked.

“This is all your fault, if you hadn’t rushed off, we’d still be with them!” Jen said, pushing Duncan.

“My pirate instinct got me a lil’ too excited, sorry. Calm yourself, I’m sure they didn’t get far.” Duncan replied.

“Or they got eaten.” Shelly suggested, worried.

“Nah, they can get out of anything. Maybe this will help: Guys? Higgs, Feech, Merlin, Lotton? Hello?” Duncan shouted throughout the jungle as he walks, but gets no response. “Damnit!”

“Be quiet you buffoon, or you’ll lead the cannibals right to us!” Jen said, trying to silence him.

He stays silent, and a few minutes pass. They go on their way again, not saying a word to each other, and clearly not happy with this predicament. Duncan decides to strike up conversation with the ladies.

“Well, if we’re gonna be stuck on this island, any of you ladies up to settle down with a gentleman such as I?” Duncan asked cockily to the two, as Jen groans.

“Sorry pal, I don’t date males…nothing personal.” Shelly replied awkwardly, and Jen gives her a confused look.

“…Oh.” Duncan replied, realizing her sexuality, and then looks at Jen. 

“No.” Jen replied, before Duncan can say anything further.

“Come on guys, let’s find the rest of the crew.” Shelly said, trying to get out of that awkward conversation.

They agree and keep walking through the jungle.

Meanwhile, Mara is seen on a boat sailing in a direction close to Skull Island. She looks out fro the back, with the ocean breeze blowing at her red hair.

“Boris, have you noticed those goons from the Eastern Trading Company storming in?” Mara asked to the boat captain, thinking about the changing tides of Enhalas' power structure.

“Indeed, I’ve seen the Company soldiers marching and sailing all around Enhalas now. Doesn’t sound good for the pirates, and especially not good for the guild’s business neither. I hear they don’t take kindly to us bounty hunters, and I’d rather not piss them off…” the captain known as Boris said, steering the ship.

He is a member of the Bounty Hunters Guild, having the same badge as Higgs’ on his jacket.

“Wonder if they’re already after Mack and his pals.” Mara wondered, concerned for his well being.

“Worried about your boyfriend?” Boris teased.

“He’s not my boyfriend!” Mara argued, not wanting to hear that.

“That’s what they all say. Hey, wait, isn’t that his ship?” Boris asked, double taking.

The two turn their heads, seeing the Eclipse Pearl marooned on Skull Island’s shore, the black flags still waving from the ocean wind.

“…It is. That doesn’t look good.” Mara said, wondering what happened.

She then looks at Boris, knowing he already had a destination set for her next assignment. She already put her bounty hunter life off to the side in her brief time on the crew, and did not want to be a burden to Boris again.

“It’s okay. Go, I’m sure you’ve been wanting a reunion with them since it’s been a while. I’ll wait for you.” Boris said, not bothered by this.

Mara gives him a gesture, telling him of her thanks. She then jumps off the boat, and swims toward Skull Island. Boris wishes her luck as she swims further and further away. Mara soaking wet, walks over the sand toward the ship. She reaches the remains of a campfire.

“Mack! Mack Stark! Mr. Higgs? Anyone?” Mara called out.

The ship is silent, deserted. Mara studies it. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong, but she’s not a ship expert so she cannot say for certain. She finds Duncan’s newly purchased sword from Clarence lying in the sand, which he must have dropped in the rush. Mara, feeling she might need another weapon, decides to pick it and will return it…assuming the crew is still alive. Mara moves toward the dense jungle, when she hears a flapping sound. It's Lotton’s scallop, landing on a tree limb. It tilts its head. Treasure also comes out from behind the tree, surprised to see Mara. It crawls up towards her, and she takes note of how scared it looks, likely missing Mack and crew. It begins rubbing its head against her leg.

“Good to see familiar faces.” Mara said, as she gives Treasure a pet, cheering it up.

“Don't eat me!” Lotton’s scallop said.

“I'm not going to eat you.” Mara replied.

Mara studies the jungle, looking for a path. 

"Don't eat me!" Lotton's scallop repeated again.

“I'm not even hungry-“ Mara was saying.

“DON'T EAT ME!” Lotton’s scallop panicked.

“Look, I don’t even like clams or scallops or whatever you are, you probably don’t taste good.” Mara replied.

The scallop goes silent, hurt. 

“…Sorry. That was uncalled for.” Mara replied. “Listen, if anyone should ask, tell them Mara Dume, against her better judgment went into the jungle in search of Mack Stark. Understand? And…I’m talking to a scallop.” Mara rambled.

“Aye, aye, ma’am!” Lotton’s scallop replied.

Mara does a double-take. She grins, pulls out the sword and steps forward, hacking her way through the jungle. Treasure tries to follow her, but she stops it in its tracks.

“No, little guy. You don’t know what’s out there. Stay here, I promise I’ll be back, and hopefully with the Pearl’s crew.” Mara promised to Treasure, holding out her hand to it.

Treasure understands, as it crawls back to where Lotton’s scallop is. Mara keeps going through the jungle.

Meanwhile, Sawyer is seen sailing away from Port Royale on a rental boat, with the Eastern Trading Company and Royal Navy soldiers watching him carefully as he departs. He begins to search Enhalas for Mack’s whereabouts. 

“Alright, I reckon if I were Mack, where would I sail off to…” Sawyer wondered, as he keeps rowing.

Sawyer starts to visit various islands throughout the day. First, he visits a small island called Vandros. He meets with a sunburned leather-skinned sailor on a dock.

“Mack Stark? Captain Mack Stark? Owes me ten doubloons. Heard he was dead.” The sailor replied, shrugging, and Sawyer can immediately tell this man is of no use to him.

Still on Vandros, Sawyer visits a cantina, and approaches the bartender. He asks about Mack’s whereabouts.

“Heard he ran off with a pretty woman away from Enhalas.” The bartender replied, shrugging.

Sawyer doesn’t buy that. He is then seen aboard a ship at the dock, meeting an officer standing watch.

“Heard he was tried, found guilty and ready to hang…but then he fought off a hundred soldiers at Port Royale, and escaped, Neptune's honest truth, by grabbing two scallops and flying off a cliff. My cousin was there!” The officer swore.

Sawyer sighs, as he can tell the travelers of Enhalas don’t do a very good job keeping up to date. On a beach, a half-blind sailor ties a rope to their boat.

“Thalassia is what I heard. Drunk, more'n likely. Drunk, with a smile on his face. Sure as Stark will turn up the tide, Mack in Thalassia-“ The sailor was rambling, and Sawyer walks off, telling this won’t get him anywhere either. The sailor keeps talking, unaware Sawyer left.

Sawyer is then seen on Latorga, asking several pirates and scoundrels if they had seen Mack, but they either reply with annoyed, bitter jealousy, or say they have not seen him. Sawyer then sees Scarlett outside the pub, and decides to ask her if she has seen him recently.

“I haven’t seen him in months. When you find him, give him a message…” Scarlett was saying, as she slaps Sawyer across the face.

“Thanks, I’ll show him the postal stamp…” Sawyer replied sarcastically, feeling his cheek.

Back on Skull Island, a giant palm leaf is slashed. Mara pushes through, and comes to a sudden stop. She spots something in her path: Higgs’ flask.

“Higgs…” Mara realized.

She crouches, and picks it up, but her hunter instinct can tell something is amiss. She then sees a hidden snare of twisted vines. She brushes away leaves, and finds a trip wire string attached to the flask. She smiles, pockets the flask, and follows the string toward a tree. Suddenly, eyes appear up the tree. A cannibal, perfectly camouflaged, grins, reaches out and yanks the trip wire. The snare explodes upwards, but Mara is able to dodge it just in time, and the trap misses.

“I know a trap when I see one, sorry. You can come out now.” Mara said, readying both the sword and gun.

A group of cannibals angrily jump out of hiding, their spears raised. They appear ruthless and savage, with filed teeth, bodies painted and pierced. They wear remnants of their previous victims: hats, vests, necklaces, belts. Mara parries a spear thrust, knocking a cannibal against a tree, as she backflips and parries another spear. She breaks it in half, shocking the cannibal, and then punches them in the face. She holds out both the sword and her gun, as she strikes her sword at a cannibal’s spear, and then at their chest, injuring them. She then shoots her gun at another, making them drop dead, which angers the tribe further. They back up into the jungles, changing their strategy to attack her.

“Who's next? You’re dealing with a trained bounty hunter!” Mara bragged, breaking another one’s spear.

A cannibal warrior, with his ear chewed off and bite marks on his body, regards Mara, impressed by her skill. He raises a blowgun, and puffs into it.

“Come on, boneheads! I'm right here-“ Mara taunted.

A dart strikes into Mara's neck, and she goes limp. She is lifted and carried off into the jungle by the cannibals.

The cannibal’s village is shown, past a lush green mountain. Mara, bound and tied, is dragged through the village. Huts made of sticks, and everything else made of bones. A cannibal boy merges from a hut to watch, as Mara is carried to the Cannibal Chief. The crowd of cannibals part. And, surprise, there on the skeleton throne sits Captain Mack Stark. Mara can't believe her eyes.

“…You got to be kidding me. But, Mack, I can honestly say I’m glad to see you.” Mara said, as she starts forward.

The cannibals stop her. Mara looks to Mack. He gives a blank look in return, as if Mack has never seen Mara before in his life. The cannibals display Mara proudly. Mack shakes his head. He speaks in a language Mara does not understand. It’s mostly grunts, clicks, and teeth chomping. 

“Mack? Mack, it's me, Mara Dume. Tell them to let me go.” Mara begged, genuinely concerned now.

Mack examines Mara. He pinches his arm, inspecting her. He points to Mara’s chest, shaking his head. He then makes a 'snip' gesture. The cannibals look disappointed. 

“Mack. Listen, you’re in danger. The Eastern Trading Company is here, and they’re hunting you-“ Mara was saying.

One of the cannibals indicates Mara’s leg, and rubs his tummy. The meaning is clear: this is good eating. The warrior cannibal nods, and makes a throat-slitting gesture. Mara is deeply uncomfortable by this. Mack shrugs, and nods. He then says something and the Cannibals laugh. He makes a sweeping gesture to take her away. The cannibals cheer, and grab Mara.

“What did you tell them? No!” Mara shouted, as she is able to punch one in the face, and briefly gets free.

However, the cannibals overwhelm her, as they keep holding onto her tight. Mack doesn't answer. As they drag Mara past, he whispers out of the corner of his mouth two words: 

“Save me.” Mack begged her.

Mara frowns, noting Mack is their supposed Chief, so what's going on? But there is real desperation in Mack's eyes, she notes. Mara is pulled away.

A cage made of bones, filled with Mara and the pirates, hangs suspended from a rope across a deep gorge. Mara is in the cage with Higgs, Feech, Lotton, and Merlin.

“Higgs, I think we’ve got a plan!” Feech said hopefully.

“What is it?” Higgs asked, who looks dehydrated and banged up, not happy to be in this situation whatsoever.

There is a pause. 

“Never mind!” Feech replied, as he keeps looking at the abyss below, worried.

Higgs shakes his head, and then takes note of Mara next to him.

“Ah, Mara. You shouldn't have come.” Higgs said, worried she’ll meet their doom as well now.

“You might be grateful when you see this.” Mara said, holding out Higgs’ flask.

 Well, maybe its good she came after all.

“Why would he do this to you? If Mack is the Chief-“ Mara was asking.

Higgs tries to drink, but his flask is empty. Curses.

“Aye, the natives made Mack their Chief, but he stays Chief for only so long as he acts like a Chief…which means he cannot do anything they think a Chief ought not to do.” Higgs explained

“He's a captive, then…as much as we are.” Mara realized, seeing Mack is playing their game.

“Worse, as it turns out. The natives believe that Mack is a God, trapped in human form ... they intend to do Mack the honor of releasing him from his fleshy prison.” Higgs said grimly.

Mara frowns. Lotton helps by mimicking eating with a knife. 

“They'll roast and eat him. It's a deeply-held religious belief. Or, we figure, maybe they just get awful hungry.” Higgs explained.

“Where's the rest of the crew?” Mara asked, worried, noticing Jen, Shelly and Duncan’s absence.

“Can only speculate. Either they hopefully got away…or they became what’s holdin’ us here.” Higgs replied, pointing to the cage bones.

Mara looks, seeing the cage is made of bones; she pulls her hand away. 

“These bones look old. They might not be from your friends, maybe.” Mara said, trying to keep Higgs optimistic.

“I sure be hopin’ so, ‘cause we need a rescue. The feast starts when the sun sets. Mack’s life will end…when the drums stop…” Higgs said ominously.

The sun drops toward the horizon. Gintell and Pagetti are silhouetted against the sun, dressed in colored pirate garb reminiscent of jail clothes, rowing a very small rowboat near Skull Island. Pagetti has a book open in front of him. 

“...and I say it was Neptune’s divine intervention what escaped us from jail.” Pagetti argued.

“And I say it was me being clever.” Gintell argued.

Suddenly, the amoeba prison dog pops up in the bow of the boat, ring of keys in his mouth, wagging its tail.

“Ain't that right, poochie?” Gintell said adorably to it.

“How do you know it wasn't a divine intervention what inspired you to be clever? Anyways, I ain't stealing no ship.” Pagetti replied, having a change of heart.

“It ain't stealing, it's salvaging, and since when did you care?” Gintell asked curiously, baffled at this change.

“Now that we're not immortal no more, we need to take care of our immortal souls.” Pagetti replied, staring down at the book. 

“You know you can't read.” Gintell pointed out.

“It’s the, you get credit for trying.” Pagetti replied.

“Pretending to read that sacred text is a lie, and that's a mark against-Look! There it is.” Gintell said, spotting something.

Pagetti twists to see: the Eclipse Pearl, careened onto the Skull Island shore. Suddenly, the amoeba prison dog leaps out of the boat, and swims toward shore.

“What's got into him?” Pagetti asked curiously.

“Must have spotted an urchin.” Gintell shrugged.

The two pirates grin at each other, when suddenly a wave hits the two. Their boat is completely trounced, tumbling to shore. Gintell and Pagetti crawl out of the water. The amoeba prison dog shakes to get dry. Gintell and Pagetti stare at the ship. 

“It's ours for the taking!” Gintell said, giddy.

“Tide's coming in, that'll help.” Pagetti added.

Gintell is surprised. Pagetti shrugs. 

“Salvaging's saving it, in a manner of speaking…” Pagetti pointed out.

“Aye, there's the truth of it…” Gintell replied.

Suddenly, the sound of drums can be heard. 

“And I suppose we'd best save it as soon as we can what with our souls in such a vulnerable state and all!” Pagetti said. 

“Amen to that!” Gintell replied.

At the village, the beat of the drums builds and quickens. The feast ceremony approaches. Mack chats nervously to his guards.

“I notice women here, but very few children. Why is that? Are the little ones the most tasty?” Mack asked, trying to stall.

No answer. Mack eyes an empty spit with concern.

“Not big enough!” Mack shouted.

The cannibals’ heads turn. Mack strides toward the empty spit, pointing at the wood pile beneath it. 

“Not big enough!” Mack repeated again, and then tries to speak in their language, “I am the Chief! More wood! I need a lot more wood! We need a big fire! MORE WOOD!”

He widens his arms and makes motions, hoping they understand. The guards drop their spears, hurrying away to find more wood. Mack, surprised that worked, watches, and then dashes off in the opposite direction. 

Mack crosses a bridge, racing past huts and comes to a precipice. He turns and starts rummaging near the huts for material.

“Rope. Rope. Long rope. Or a chain. No. Preferably rope.” Mack rambled.

Mack pauses and lifts up a small box of spices with the Eastern Trading Company insignia. Before he can let that sink in further, a sound draws his attention. A tribe warrior is there. Their spear is raised, ready to kill him. 

“Not running away, no…” Mack tried to argue.

 Mack shifts into cannibal language, saying the same with clicks and grunts. He pours out spice, rubbing it on his body. 

“See?” Mack improvised.

Drums pound, and the cannibals dance. Rising into frame, Mack is tied to a spit. He is placed over a huge pile of kindling wood, not yet lit. The guards stand next to the huge pile, proud.

“Nice job.” Mack said to them.

Mara rocks the bone cage, trying to get it to the far wall. 

“Everyone swing the cage, get to the wall!” Mara yelled, pointing to it.

The pirates get the idea, and they keep rocking it together. The cage makes its way over to the wall, as they begin grab onto the vines. 

“Put your feet through. Start to climb!” Mara ordered.

The group pulls, climbing up the cliff wall. 

“Come on, you pirates, we’ll need all of us to crew the Eclipse Pearl, yeah?” Mara ordered, keeping them going.

“Never knew you had the captain spirit in ye, lass.” Higgs said.

“Maybe if I was still on board at the time, I would’ve talked your captain into not coming to this hellhole. What was he thinking?” Mara asked.

“I don’t think he was, for some reason.” Higgs replied curiously, as they keep climbing.

“Shocker.” Mara replied.

A cannibal sentry strolls past. The group in the cage freezes. The guard stares, suspicious. The guard notices and screams an alarm. The sun begins to set, as the drums rise to a crescendo, and then suddenly stop.

The crowd parts. A runner with the scared torch appears, making Mack’s eyes widen. Just then, the sentry bursts through the jungle, screaming and pointing. The meaning is clear enough to the tribe: the prisoners are trying to escape! 

All eyes are on Mack: what do they do? Ironically, though he’s about to become dinner, Mack is still Chief. He gestures, clicks, grunts and chomps.

“After them! Don’t let them get away!” Mack ordered.

A warrior nods, and everyone takes off. The runner with the torch hesitates, torn: light the fire or run? He decides to drop the torch, following the others. Mack’s eyes go wide as the torch rolls toward the wood beneath him. He twists on the spit, tries to blow the flame out…and the extra air causes the wood to ignite.

At the chasm, the cage manages to reach the top. Feech is at the bottom of the cage, and he grabs onto a vine that turns out to be a snake. He loses his grip, and falls onto the the bottom part of the cage, which starts to crack.

“Get out of there!” Merlin yelled to him, but it was too late.

The bottom breaks apart, and Feech falls into the abyss below to his death, screaming.

“He was a good man.” Higgs said grimly, mourning his loss, as Mara, Merlin and Lotton look in fear.

Their cage manages to roll over the top. The vine holding it pulls out from the ground, as cannibals appear. The group stands up, their feet sticking out of the bottom of the cage, and start to run.

At the village, the wood burns. Mack starts to bounce up and down on the spit. He manages to bounce off, away from the fire. He immediately runs, crouched low, with the spit still on his back. He runs past the little cannibal boy, who watches him go past, ready a feast. He wonders why is the Chief running away? 

The cage rolls, plummeting down into a beautiful grotto, and splitting apart. The pirates emerge. Above are all the cannibals. Arrows shoot down, and the pirates are forced back against the walls. 

Above, the cannibal boy appears, points back toward Mack. He does a quick miniature Mack Stark imitation. The cannibals turn away, and give chase, leaving Mara and the pirates free.

“…What just happened?” Merlin asked.

In the jungle, Mack comes upon the chasm. He uses the spit on his back to pole vault across as he runs.

The crew burst from the jungle. Ahead of them: the Eclipse Pearl. The tide is in, the Eclipse Pearl rides in shallow water. Gintell sees the crew coming.

“Haul loose the mooring line! The mooring line!” Gintell hollered down to Pagetti.

But Pagetti is hollering up at Mac the sea monkey, who has stolen his wooden eye.

“Thief! Little thief! Give it here! No, don’t bite it! He's got my eye! He won't give it back!” Pagetti complained.

“Well, how'd you get it back the last time!?” Gintell replied, annoyed.

Behind them, the crew burst from the jungle, Higgs in front, running toward the suddenly worried Gintell and Pagetti. Treasure and Lotton’s scallop rush out of the jungle upon seeing them, following after.

“Excellent! Our work's half done.” Higgs said.

“We done it for you, knowing you'd be coming back for it!” Gintell replied, giving a fake smile.

“Boys, make ready for sail!” Higgs said.

“What about the others?” Merlin asked, referring to Jen, Duncan and Shelly.

“You know the Code, I’m afraid. We have no time to even search for ‘em.” Higgs replied regrettably.

The crew makes their way up the ship. Gintell and Pagetti are a little upset at being ignored. 

“How do you like that? Without so much as a by-your-leave.” Gintell called down to Pagetti.

“And not a word of thanks. Shows a lot of cheek, it does, to just walk onto our nice ship like that!” Pagetti replied annoyed.

Mara works beside Higgs.

“What about Mack? We can’t leave without him.” Mara said.

“Not to worry.” Higgs said, as they hear screaming.

Both turn their heads, to see down the beach screaming, is Mack, running his lizard-run followed by a hoard of cannibals. Gintell and Pagetti see the cannibals, exchanging a frightened look.

“Mack! Hurry!” The two yelled.

Mack is annoyed by that, since he is hurrying, doesn't it look like he's hurrying? 

“Cast off! Cast off!” Higgs yelled to Gintell and Pagetti, who run for the ship

In the water, the amoeba prison dog jumps forward. It plants its feet, growling at the oncoming hoard. Mack splashes into the water, passing by.

“Good doggy!” Mack said to the creature, on his way to the Eclipse Pearl. 

He catches a rope, scrambling on board. He is surprised to see Mara.

“Aw, you came back for us, I knew you cared darling!” Mack said, flirting with her, as Mara gives him a punch on the shoulder.

"I saw your ship washed up and figured that was code for help." Mara explained.

On the beach, the cannibals reach the shore, and stop, looking at The Eclipse Pearl, as it pulls away from the island. They yell, but the tone is more confused than angry. Why are you going? Why are you leaving us? The cannibals keep shouting, and the amoeba prison dog barks. The cannibals gradually grow silent, and then it's only the amoeba dog barking. It keeps barking, until it realizes it's the only one making sound. It looks over, seeing a large group of hungry cannibals. It then looks out to sea, seeing the Eclipse Pearl is shrinking in the distance. The creature lets out a soft dog-whimper. It's been left behind. The amoeba prison dog regards the cannibals. It grins and licks its lips. It then proceeds to swish its tail back and forth a few times, friendly-like, and then runs. The cannibals give chase.

Mack is still catching his breath, stares at the water with clear terror. He shoos the evil off of his body, turns one time widdershins, and spits. Higgs attempts to interpret.

“Put as much distance between us, and this island, and make for open sea?” Higgs said.

“Yes to the first and yes to the second, but only insofar as we keep to the shallows as much as possible.” Mack replied.

“That seems a bit contradictory, sir.” Higgs replied, baffled. 

“I have every faith in your reconciliatory navigational skills, Mr. Higgs. Now, where’s that monkey? I want to shoot something.” Mack said, pulling out his pistol.

From above comes a frightened screech, and then Pagetti’s eye falls to the deck, rolling away. 

“Alright captain, can you tell us what the hell has you so frightened?” Merlin asked curiously.

“It’s Davy Jones. Ten long years ago, when this ship was a merchant vessel, true story, I ended up er, sinking it, due to some unfortunate circumstances. I made a deal with the devil himself to rise it from the depths, rebirthing it into the Eclipse Pearl. I offered 10 years of captaining this beauty in exchange for 100 years of service to him.” Mack explained, shocking Higgs, as not even he ever knew of the Pearl’s resurrection.

“…And the ten years are up.” Mara realized.

“Correct, even though I only served two of those ten years. I hope the supernatural realm accepts a refund, but until then, he has a horrifying, no good beast on my trail, hunting me down like a measly urchin.” Mack explained.

“Oh no, Mack…a deal with Davy Jones not be a bond to break, no sir. You’ve put us all in grave danger.” Higgs said, worried.

“I know, I know, I was not thinking long term back then. I was still a naive, young lad startin’ the pirate life. I’ll find a way to save you all from this, which for now, means we’ll keep hopping island to island to get out of the water.” Mack said in a hurry, as he gets to the wheel.

“So wait, are we just gonna let these two back on board? They mutinied against ye!” Merlin reminded, referring to Gintell and Pagetti, who try to pull an innocent act, not wanting to be thrown overboard.

Mack then shrugs, not minding their presence.

“Let the dynamic duo join us, we have open seats since we lost four good pirates.” Mack said grimly, tipping his hat at Skull Island in the distance to honor Leech, Jen, Shelly and Duncan.

“Wow, thanks Captain!” Gintell said, shocked.

Mack then throws a mop at the two, hitting Pagetti in the head.

“You can clean the rum locker, trust me, it’s filthy.” Mack ordered.

“Aye aye, captain!” Pagetti replied, as the two get to work, with Gintell groaning.

“Jen, Shelly and Duncan might still be alive, but alas, we can’t turn back now, and we wouldn’t be able to find them with all those cannibals scourin’ every corner of the isle. I hope for their sake, if they are alive, they get to safety somehow…” Higgs said, looking back.

“Not to worry, I’ll get a friend of mine to look for them.” Mara offered.

She looks to the right, waving to signal Boris, who makes his boat sail towards the Eclipse Pearl. Mack allows the boat to catch up, seeing they are associated with Mara.

“Boris, I’m going to stay with this crew again for a while, sorry to bail on you again.” Mara said to him from above.

“Not a problem, go where you feel you’re needed most.” Boris replied, understanding.

“But before you go, I have a favor to ask: Can you sail around that island to search for any potential survivors from this crew? Don’t get too close, because there’s cannibals there. The crew would appreciate it very much.” Mara asked to Boris.

“Of course, gives me something to do. I’ll see what I can do. I’ll bring ‘em back, hopefully in one piece, as quickly as I can. Best of luck on your journey.” Boris replied, saluting Mara.

Mara salutes back. Boris begins to sail his boat around Skull Island in hopes of finding the lost crew.

“Thanks for that, dear. Now then, if I do recall, you mentioned something about the Company here, yes?” Mack said, remembering what she was trying to tell him on the island while he was Chief.

“Yes, the Eastern Trading Company is here in Enhalas, and from what it sounds like, they’re not playing around with you pirates. Don’t be surprised if they’re also hunting you given your reputation.” Mara warned.

“It was only a matter of time ’til they came out here. But right now, I’m more worried about Jones and his pet. I’ll cross the Company’s bridge when we get there.” Mack replied, still worried about them all the same, but not wanting to cloud his judgment further than he already has with his rash decision today.

The Eclipse Pearl sails off once more, looking for safe land to get them off of Davy Jones’ monster’s trail. Now Mack has two threats to deal with chasing after him: Davy Jones and the Eastern Trading Company.

Sawyer arrives on Sabaco, and asks around the marketplace.

“Let me guess, you haven’t seen him, blah blah…” Sawyer was saying to a merchant, exhausted, ready to give up, when he gets a surprise.

“Actually, yes. He and his crew were here yesterday. Quite a shopping spree, they did have.” The merchant said, shocking Sawyer.

“Well I’ll be…so they must not be too far from here.” Sawyer said.

Sawyer is happy to finally have a lead, as he departs Sabaco on his boat, and goes after Mack.

Back on Skull Island, the cannibals are seen bowing down to their new tribe leader: the amoeba prison dog, wearing a bone crown.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debuts: Boris, Cannibals

-Death: Feech

-Area Debuts: Skull Island, Vandros

-Jen, Duncan and Shelly are currently missing in action, with their fates unknown.

-Boris was the friend Mara mentioned in S1 who was supposed to pick her up from Port Royale.

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23. Payback

While Sawyer has been searching for Mack, Juliet is seen still in the Port Royale prison cell. Juliet closes her eyes, moonlight through the bars lighting her face. A sound of the key in the lock, and the door swings open, revealing Carlson. He steps aside, and Rose is there. 

“Come quickly!” Rose said, freeing her.

Juliet hurries out. Rose gives Carlson a nod, and follows. Rose hurries Juliet along, furtive and protective, to a carriage. 

“What's happening?” Juliet asked him, as she stops.

“Our name still holds some sway with the King. I've arranged passage for you back to Ludwigia. The captain is an old friend-“ Rose was explaining.

“No. Sawyer has gone-“ Juliet was saying.

“We cannot count on Sawyer Turner.” Rose replied.

“He is a better man than you give him credit for.” Juliet argued.

“Please…this is no time for innocence. Lennett has offered only one pardon. One. And it has been promised to Stark. Even if Sawyer succeeds…do not ask me to endure the sight of losing my daughter walking to the gallows. Do not!” Rose said, drawing a pistol.

He pushes the pistol into her hands, then pushes her into the carriage. 

“Yet you ask me to leave without you.” Juliet noted.

“I must stay. There are still troops loyal to me here, and Lennett is wary of my ties to the Crown. Perhaps…I can ensure Sawyer a fair trial, if he returns.” Rose suggested.

“This is no time for innocence. A “fair” trial for Sawyer ends in a hanging.” Juliet replied.

Rose cannot deny the truth of this. 

“Then there is nothing for you here.” Rose replied regrettably.

He closes the door on her. Turns away, unable to watch, as the carriage moves off. Rose slows the seahorses to a stop. In the shadows stand two figures, apparently in huddled discussion. One wears the hat of a ship's captain. 

“Stay inside.” Rose said to Julie.

He leaps down, hurrying toward the figures. 

“Captain Fletcher!” Rose yelled.

It becomes apparent that the non-captain figure, Ivan Melching, was holding the captain upright when he releases his grip, and the captain's body topples backwards. Rose stares in horror at the captain's blood stained tunic. Melching cleans his knife on his handkerchief. 

“Evening, Governor.” Melching greeted, and then regards the captain’s body. “Shame, about that.”

He then displays a letter, folded, sealed, and slightly bloody. 

“He had this on his person. A letter to the King…addressed from you.” Melching said, shaking his head in a mockingly sad way. “Tsk, tsk.”

Rose bolts for the carriage.

“Juliet!” Rose yelled.

Even as he goes after Rose, Melching whistles. This signals for Company troops appear, swarming the scene, catching Rose just as he reaches for the carriage door. Melching yanks the door open instead, to see it’s empty. Juliet is gone. 

“Where is she?” Melching asked sternly to Rose.

“Who?” Rose replied.

Melching puts a hand around Rose's throat and slams him hard back against the carriage.

“Juliet.” Melching said coldly, but trying to remain calm.

“She was always a willful child.” Rose replied.

Manacles clang shut on Rose's wrists, arresting him. One last glance inside the carriage as he's led away. 

Elsewhere, the Eclipse Pearl continues its on the lam voyage through the Enhalas seas. Mack looks out from the captain’s deck, having a lot on his mind, from Davy Jones’ monster and now the Eastern Trading Company intruding. He gives Treasure a fruit, who is sitting next to him, as the creature runs around in a circle pleased. He looks out of his telescope and sees another island approaching.

“New destination off the port bow!” Mack announced to his crew, pointing west.

“There better not be any cannibals on this one…” Merlin said, worried.

“Whatever’s on there can’t be any worse than the last one, no sir.” Pagetti said optimistically.

“You better not have jinxed us…” Gintell said, giving Pageti the stink eye.

Mack looks in further with his telescope. He sees a sign on a buoy, denoting the island as “La Barkinique”. There is a decent line-up of ships for purchase at the island’s large dock. The island is known for having one of the most popular shipyards in all of Enhalas. If a sailor wanted a ship at a decent prize, this was the place to go. Or if you were a pirate, it was the perfect place to steal them. The sailors and workers were never happy about this, but there was very little they could do to stop them. To the right of the shipyard is ship supplies store, along with an inn and a cabin, both of which are where the shipyard workers live. Pirates haven’t been exactly happy about this. However, the rest of the island is mainly uninhabitable due to its mountainous area to the north, where many criminals on the run go to hide out.

“Making port at La Barkinique!” Mack announced, an island familiar to most on board.

“Aye, nothing too crazy goes on there by pirate standards, but at the same time, there ain’t much neither.” Higgs explained.

“I’ve been there before, tracked down quite a tricky bounty here over a year ago up the island’s mountain.” Mara reminisced, as Gintell and Pagetti look at her nervously.

“Don't wanna end up as her prey…” Gintell whispered to Pagetti, who nods in worrying agreement.

“This will be the perfect hiding spot, crew! It’s all settled then, this will be our new home for probably a few months, or even forever!” Mack said, closing his telescope.

“Forever is a long time…” Pagetti realized.

“Hold on there, I'm not staying there forever. It’s only a matter of time until the Company checks here due to all the ships they sell, y’know.” Mara pointed out.

“And there ain’t exactly anywhere for us to live since those annoying sailors take up everything!” Gintell complained, annoyed.

“We should know, the two of us tried to take up residence there long ago, we did…unfortunately, we got a good punch in the face for trying to steal food from there.” Pagetti reminisced.

“I’m aware they’re stingy on residence, but alas, there’s nowhere else to go on short notice. Jones is following us everywhere. To those who wish not to come down onto the island, you may stay aboard. But trust me, with my wit and charm, I’ll find a way to get us room at that inn. Or we’ll live up in the mountains, which does not sound too bad now that I think about it.” Mack promised them, as Mara sighs, already starting to regret her decision to come back.

However, as the Eclipse Pearl approaches the bay, a nearby Eastern Trading Company ship is near the same area. One of the soldiers looks out of their telescope, and takes note of the Eclipse Pearl. The soldier matches its appearance with previous descriptions of the infamous ship. The soldier approaches the captain of the vessel, and shows them this sight.

“Men, contact Lord Lennett. We have discovered something he will be pleased to hear…” The captain said, as a soldier immediately sends out a message.

“Should we intercept them right now, sir?” Another soldier asked.

“Not yet, we need to see what the Lord’s plan of action is.” The captain reminded, as the soldier understands.

Lennett enters the Eastern Trading Company office, reading a letter. He then lights a lamp, and notices the case with the Letters of Marque is empty. Without looking around, he can already tell Juliet is there.

“No doubt, you've discovered that loyalty is no longer the currency of the realm, as your father believes.” Lennett casually said.

Juliet steps out of the shadows. 

“Then what is?” Juliet asked.

“Currency is the currency of the realm.” Lennett replied.

“I expect, then, we can reach an understanding. I am here to negotiate.” Juliet offered.

“I am listening.” Lennett replied.

Juliet reveals the pistol, and aims it at Lennett. 

“I am listening intently.” Lennett replied calmly.

“You haven't raised an alarm.” Juliet replied.

“This does not seem to be a situation I cannot handle. Quite the bravado you have to aim that at an official of the Company, I must applaud nonetheless.” Lennett replied.

Juliet lays out the Letters of Marque on the desk. On his desk, there are also notes about Davy Jones’ ship The Cursed Bones, and his whereabouts, showing Lennett has been doing quite the research.

“These Letters of Marque. They are signed by the King, but blank.” Juliet noted.

“And not valid until they bear my signature and seal.” Lennett explained.

“Or else I wouldn't still be here.” Juliet said.

“And what do you think you have to offer me, young lady?” Lennett asked curiously.

“Information. You sent Sawyer to get you the Compass owned by Mack Stark. It will do you no good.” Juliet explained.

“Do explain.” Lennett replied, wanting to know more.

Juliet lowers the pistol. 

“I have been to Isle de Condenar. I have seen the treasure myself. There is something you need to know.” Juliet was saying, but Lennett loses interest, knowing what she is trying to pull.

“Ah. I see. You think the compass points only to Isle de Condenar. And so you hope to save me from an evil fate. I am afraid you are mistaken, Miss Rose. I care not for cursed conquistador gold, or magical slugs for that matter. My desires are not so provincial.” Lennett explained, as Juliet is taken aback, not sure what he wants now.

Lennett moves to the huge, incomplete Enhalas map on the wall.

“There is more than one chest of value in these waters. So perhaps you wish to enhance your offer-“ Lennett was saying.

The pistol cocks. Juliet is not kidding around here. 

“Consider into your calculations that you robbed me of my wedding night.” Juliet said bitterly.

She gestures to the letters. Lennett moves to the desk as he signs and affixes his seals. 

“So I did. A marriage interrupted, or fate intervenes? You are making great effort to ensure Stark's freedom.” Lennett noted.

He extends the letters; she reaches for them. 

“These are not going to Mack. He does not release his hold of them.” Juliet said.

“Really? To ensure Mr. Turner's freedom, then. But what of you and Mack? And what of me? I'll still want the compass. Consider that in your calculations.” Lennett replied.

With that, he releases the letters. Juliet steps away from him, considering as he suggested, and then turns. Juliet moves along the balcony, past a sleeping guard. She disappears like a ghost among shadows. She stealthily runs through the Port Royale village, approaching the docks. She sees a crew boarding onto a merchant ship, ready to depart from the island. She then sees a spare sailor outfit hanging nearby, and gets an idea. This could be her chance to get out of here, and with this ride off, she can find both Sawyer and Mack.

Lennett emerges at a balcony from the fort, and looks out at the Enhalas night, thoughtful. The warm waters, gentle wind, stars burning in the clear dark sky. He then looks down below at the Port Royale village, seeing his Company soldiers, alongside the Navy, patrolling throughout the streets. The residents are all hiding indoors in fear, not wanting to anger the soldiers. Lennett smiles at the scene…then kicks the guard, who falls off his stool. A soldier then approaches.

“Lord Lennett, one of our patrol ships spotted what may have been the Eclipse Pearl off the coast of an island we have identified as La Barkinique.” The soldier said, holding out the note.

“Ah, the fabled go to shipyard for pirates. That is one island we have needed desperately to map its exact location for, and this is the perfect opportunity.” Lennett explained. He now had the opportunity to cut off a pirate resource and capture Stark in one move. 

“Shall we send our forces to invade?” The soldier asked.

“No. I have something else in mind for this task. Bring in my “special agents”.” Lennett ordered.

The soldier understands what that means, as he nods and runs off. Inside of the office, Lennett looks intently at the unfinished Enhalas map again. The soldier then opens the door, bringing several people with him. He brings forth: Jace Callis, Zoe, Anna and Grudge, all now under Lennett’s services.

“With all due respect sir, how will they be of use to us?” Another soldier in the office asked skeptically.

“This is a pirate crew, led by Captain Jace Callis. They were imprisoned upon a prison transport and delivered right to us. I know they've had skirmishes with Stark in the past, and would like a sweet taste of payback. In exchange of sparing from the gallows, they have agreed to help us hunt down their fellow pirate kind as my agents.” Lennett explained.

A flashback then shows to three months ago, following the events of “Mercy Mission”. Jace and his crew still sitting in the prison boat cell. They all share the same expression that indicates they want Mack dead.

“If I ever see Stark again, I’m going to pop his head like a melon.” Grudge promised, flexing with his claws.

“If this idiot hadn’t brought Mack along to rescue my sister, we wouldn’t be stuck in here, now would we? What were you thinking!?” Zoe asked angrily to Jace.

“I was planning to ditch him in your place so I’d finally be rid of him!” Jace quickly explained.

“You should’ve just killed him instead, idiot!” Anna replied, and she hits Jace across the face with her shackled hands.

Jace stands up annoyed, about to hit Anna back.

“Don’t touch my sister…” Zoe threatened, standing up to Jace.

“Tell her to know her place! And she's not bright herself since she was foolish to think she could bust us out!" Jace snapped back.

“Quit yer fighting, we’re a team!” Grudge intervened, breaking up the two. He indeed finds it strange he is the voice of reason here.

“If we don’t kill each other, what awaits us at our destination will anyway.” Zoe feared, having been trying to stay calm the entire ride, but cannot anymore. “And it’s all Mack Stark's fault! I’ll kill that son of a bitch!”

“If we ever live to see him again.” Anna corrected.

“Yes, that’s it, take your anger out on him, not me.” Jace replied. 

“Anyone got any bright ideas to get us out of here?” Anna asked, looking at the cell bars.

“I’d have busted us out of here, but…” Grudge was saying, holding out his shackled claws.

They then hear footsteps, and know what that means, so they immediately sit down.

“Do I hear more talking, or conspiring to break out?” A guard asked coldly, approaching their cell.

The guard aims their shotgun at the cell, keeping the four in line. This visit has been an increasing occurrence from the guard in their voyage. None of the four say anything, as they would rather not dig the graves further than they already have.

“That’s what I thought.” The guard replied smugly, and lowers their weapon.

The guard walks off, keeping the other prisoners in line as they pass by their cells. Jace’s crew keeps looking at each other nervously, knowing their execution awaits them at the end of the voyage. While waiting, Jace then begins pondering of an idea to himself. When they reach their destination, he has an idea to save the crew’s skin (but mostly his own). They feel the boat come to a stop, and hear guards walking down into the brig. They know their time is near, but Jace is not ready to go out this way. The guards begin unlocking several cells, taking the prisoners away. Their regular guard then approaches their cell.

“Alright you scum, we’ve arrived. You’ll either get the noose or firing squad. I for one would personally prefer the latter.” The guard said smugly, holding their shotgun in a taunting way.

The guard is about to unlock the cell to take them all away.

“Wait! Before you take us away…I have an offer for you.” Jace was saying to the guard.

“Nice try, but we don’t take bribes from your kind. Many have tried before.” The guard replied.

“Wait, hear me out. You want all pirates dead, right? We know the pirates of Enhalas, and we know the routes, which I know you bozos don’t.” Jace explained.

The guard stops, and thinks it over. It is true both the Company and Navy would love to accurately chart out the mostly unknown regions so they can end piracy.

“You need insiders like us if you want to defeat them all, and you may not get another group of pirates this willing again.” Jace bargained, as his crew looks at him like he’s lost his mind.

“…That is tempting. I will put in a word to Lennett, and we shall see what he plans to do with you lot.” The guard replied, as he departs.

“The hell are you doing? Why would we ever work with these guys? They want us dead!” Zoe complained to Jace, wondering what’s going on in his mind.

“Don’t worry, I may have just saved us all.” Jace replied, smiling.

“Seems cowardly to partner with them.” Anna replied, not happy.

“It’s called playing the game. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Jace explained.

“Lord Lennett would like to speak with you four. Perhaps we can work something out after all.” The guard regrettably said, as he would’ve preferred to kill them for all the trouble they caused.

Jace smiles smugly. Zoe, Anna and Grudge are impressed his negotiation skills actually worked. The crew walks forward, ending the flashback.

“Been too long since we’ve seen Stark…” Grudge said happily, ready for payback.

“Where is he?” Zoe asked.

“Allegedly at La Barkinique. Given your expertise, I imagine you know the location.” Lennett said.

“We do. Let’s give Stark one hell of a reunion, crew. And hopefully he’s still got that pet with him so we can steal his glory.” Jace said smugly, ready for another round with Mack.

Zoe, Anna and Grudge agree, showing devious looks of revenge on their faces.

“Reminder that I want Stark brought back here alive. Do with the rest of his companions as you will. If you disobey that order, our partnership is over.” Lennett ordered.

The four nod, understanding, even though they don’t like it. After they get Treasure though, they will not need the Company’s assistance anymore. The four made a silent pact to double cross them when they least expected it, but they had wondered if Lennett had prepared for that too. A Company soldier escorts them away, as they will be using one of their ships for the voyage. Melching then approaches Lennett.

“What about Turner? He’s still hunting Stark too, and now it seems they have beat him to the punch.” Melching noted to Lennett, curious on his goal.

“Not to worry, Mr. Turner will still have his purpose to serve. The capture of Mack is not my primary goal for this assignment.” Lennett replied ominously, as he smiles.

“In the meantime, I shall continue the hunt for Miss Rose. I doubt the girl got too far.” Melching said.

“Be my guest, but she is not relevant to my plans at this moment.” Lennett replied, still unthreatened by her intrusion earlier. Melching signals two of the soldiers in the office to aid him in the search, as they head off.

Back at La Barkinique, Mack hops off onto the shore, taking in the nice scenery.

“I’ll go with him to make sure he doesn’t do anything too stupid.” Mara said, as she goes onto the island as well.

“Eh, maybe their store has supplies we could use.” Higgs said, deciding to go as well.

Merlin, Lotton, Pagetti and Gintell decide to stay on board.

“Looking after the lil critter, we will.” Pagetti said, seeing Treasure crawl around on deck.

“You sure it won’t bite us?” Gintell asked, approaching.

Treasure is neither scared nor trustful of the two, as it just sits there, looking at the two in curiosity.

“…What will it do!?” Pagetti asked, backing away scared.

“It looks mighty hungry!” Gintell panicked, backing away as well.

Treasure keeps staring at them.

“Morons.” Merlin mocked, as he goes to rest.

On the island, Higgs and Mara catch up to Mack, who looks around at the shipyard. Several of the sailor workers look at him with grumbling looks, knowing he tried to rob them of boats before in the 8 years he was not captaining the Pearl.

“Stark, if you’re going to steal a boat, can you wait until we’er done washing it?” A sailor asked, holding a bucket and sponge.

“I don’t need any of your ships, sorry lads. I got me beauty back.” Mack said, pointing to the Pearl.

The sailors all give “thank goodness” expressions, and go on their way. Mack heads for the inn, trying to get a spot there. Mara and Higgs follow, only to see Mack being thrown out by a bodyguard five seconds later.

“Okay, so that didn’t work…” Mack sighed, having to think of a new plan. 

Meanwhile, an Eastern Trading Company ship arrives at the dock. It lets Jace and his crew off. They look around for Mack and his crew.

“We’re not actually taking him in alive, right?” Anna asked to Jace.

“Of course not, I care more about getting his pet than what those idiots want.” Jace replied, double crossing the Company.

“There’s the ship.” Grudge said, seeing the Pearl’s sails in the distance.

“Grudge and I will go to his ship to see what’s aboard. You two ladies look for him here.” Jace ordered.

The groups head off. Grudge and Jace make their way to the beach, seeing the Pearl.

“He actually got this heap back, I couldn’t believe it. If he could kill Bedossa…nah, he can’t kill me!” Jace boasted.

The two throw up ropes, as they begin to climb aboard. Gintell and Pagetti are mopping the deck, when they see the ropes.

“Uh, that don’t look good.” Pagetti noted.

Jace and Grudge make their way on board.

“INTRUDERS!” Gintell yelled, waking up Merlin below, and Lotton rushes to attack.

Lotton strikes his sword at Jace, who carefully counters it and knocks it out of his hand. Grudge then begins swinging his claws at Gintell and Pagetti. Treasure concentrates from behind a crate and grabs both with its magic powers. It moves them out of the way just in time, as Grudge smashes into a crate, furious.

“How did they do that!?” Grudge asked, annoyed.

Jace then sees Treasure and smiles.

“There, our prize!” Jace said, pointing his sword to it, as Merlin tackles him.

“No you don’t!” Merlin yelled, holding on his leg, but Jace kicks him in the face.

Jace gets closer to Treasure, as Lotton rushes forward again, and his scallop flies in his face. Grudge tries to swat it around, and Lotton stabs Grudge right through at his left leg, losing his balance. Treasure then concentrates again, levitating both Jace and Grudge.

“What’s happening!?” Jace panicked, swinging his sword in mid air.

Treasure then sends a magic blast at the two, sending them flying onto one of the shipyard boats. The crew looks at Treasure, impressed by its witchcraft. 

“…He saved us! He does care about us, ahahaha!” Gintell said giddily, as he and Pagetti pick it up, hugging the creature.

“Somethin’ tells me they ain’t the only ones here…” Merlin said, looking out from the ship, hoping the rest are okay.

Meanwhile, the merchant ship is seen leaving Port Royale. A sailor swabs the deck, and comes upon Juliet’s discarded wedding dress. He picks it up.

“What the heck?” The sailor asked confused.

Captain Bellamy pushes through a group of shouting sailors. At the center of the confrontation are the quartermaster and bursar, involved in a tug of war over the dress. 

“If both of you fancy the dress, you'll just have to share, and wear it one after the other.” Captain Bellamy said.

“It's not like that, sir. The ship is haunted!” The bursar insisted.

“Is it now?” Bellamy asked, clearly not believing it.

“Aye, there's a female presence here with us, sir, everyone feels it.” The quartermaster replied.

“Ghost of a lady widowed before her marriage, I figure it, searching for her husband lost at sea.” A sailor theorized.

“A virgin too, likely as not, and that bodes ill by all accounts.” The cook theorized.

“We need to throw it overboard, and hope the spirit follows -- or this ship will taste the icy waters in a fortnight, mark my words!” Bursar insisted.

The quartermaster tugs back on the dress. Unnoticed, a sailor brushes shellac onto a rail, painting closest to the argument, listening in. 

“Heave it overboard and anger the spirit? No!” The quartermaster argued.

“Enough!” Bellamy yelled, taking the dress to stop their feud. “Men, this appears to me nothing more as we have a stowaway on board. A woman, young woman, by the looks of it…”

Bellamy strokes the dress, appreciating its worth. 

“To your duties, then; and if there is a stowaway, and 'tis a woman, I don't see as a naked one's likely to escape notice, aye?” Bellamy continued, letting the crew consider that, and then yells, “Shake a leg!”

The men scatter searching with enthusiasm. A sailor is painting the rail, and turns around to show their face. The sailor is Juliet, dressed in men's clothes. She drops the paint brush into a bucket, and joins the search.

At La Barkinique, Mack keeps walking around in circles, not knowing where to go. Higgs and Mara leave the ship store empty handed.

“So are you ready to admit this island is a waste of time yet?” Mara asked smugly to Mack.

“Waste of time? No, certainly not! What you say we head up to the mountains?” Mack offered haphazardly, as he runs toward there.

“Got any explanation for this one?” Mara asked Higgs.

“He’s stallin’ the ticking clock til he thinks Jones will go away, but alas, simple it not be.” Higgs said.

“Is Davy that terrifying to warrant this?” Mara asked, having doubts.

“Yes. Believe me lass, there’s a reason he’s called the devil of the sea…” Higgs replied, as Mara thinks it over.

As Mack heads north, Zoe and Anna suddenly appear before him, both giving devious smiles. Mack is confused by this, as he thought he left them behind on the prison transport. Though knowing Jace’s crew, he figured it’s not impossible they escaped. Mack draws out his sword. Higgs and Mara see this from behind.

“Who are they?” Mara asked, worried.

“Old rivals of Mack’s, apart of Jace Callis’ crew. Why they are here is beyond me." Higgs replied.

“Ah, Zoe, Anna, what a lovely sight to see you two again. If only it were under kinder circumstances-“ Mack was rambling.

“Can the act, you left us for dead!” Anna snapped.

“That is quite the stretch of that day’s events, considering I left you alive in that cell.” Mack corrected.

“…For us to be transferred off for execution.” Zoe added, annoyed.

“I did not know that, but also, you were trying to kill me. Perhaps I was too kind leaving you all alive…” Mack replied, wondering if he had made an error.

“Oh please, we both know you’d never bring harm to ladies such as us, Mack.” Zoe said, familiar enough with his moral code.

“You are correct, I would not ever do such a heinous deed. But…I’m pretty sure she can.” Mack replied, confusing the two women.

Mara comes running in, kicking Zoe right in the face, and then punches Anna, knocking both to the ground. They both get up, shocked and curious by who this ally of Mack’s is.

“Got yourself a new lover, Mack?” Zoe asked, wiping blood from her mouth, and putting up her fists again, eager to fight Mara.

“Up to interpretation.” Mack shrugged, clashing his sword with Anna’s.

“I’m not his boyfriend!” Mara insisted again, annoyed.

Mara continues to fight her, punching her in the face several times, but Zoe is undeterred. Higgs joins the fight with his own sword, as he helps Mack duel Anna. Suddenly, Jace and Grudge rush toward the scene, the latter struggling to walk due to his injury. Several sailors at the shipyard see the ensuing fighting.

“Should we stop ‘em?” A sailor asked.

“Nah, let ‘em fight.” Another sailor replied, as some decide to bet on the match.

“Aha, I knew you’d show your face, Callis my old buddy! What brings ye out here?” Mack asked.

“We’re pirate hunters now, aiding the Company in tracking you down, and what luck that we stumbled upon you here! Leaving us in that prison only made us stronger.” Jace explained, going after Mack.

“I’m afraid I must politely deny their invitation.” Mack replied, who silently looks to Higgs, indicating he has this handled.

Higgs nods and decides to fight Grudge, while Mara takes on both Anna and Zoe now, pleased. She continues to counter their sword strikes and disarms Anna’s sword. She then punches her in the gut, stunning her, and throws her to the ground again. 

“This wench is good…” Zoe admitted, helping Anna up.

Mack and Jace duel, while Higgs avoids Grudge’s claws. Higgs slashes his sword several times at Grudge, but due to his size and Higgs’ own age, it wears him out.

“You’re too old for this, old man.” Grudge bragged, trying to get him off balance.

“I ain’t that old.” Higgs replied, as he sees the injury Lotton inflicted on him.

Higgs throws an extra bag of gunpowder at Grudge’s face, blinding his eyes. He flails his claws around furiously, and Higgs then strikes at his other leg, making him fall to the ground in pain. Grudge is still blinded, trying to find his way around. He turns around and goes the other way, confused.

“Grudge, get back here!” Zoe called to him, as she still fights Mara, but he does not hear.

Grudge swings his claws, coming towards the sailors, who look in fear. One of the sailors on a ship then mans a cannon, aiming it to Grudge. They fire, as the cannonballs hits Grudge, sending him smashing right into the ship store. He is impaled by a pole, killing him. Mack continues to duel Jace, who is getting frustrated that he cannot match Mack’s movements.

“You know the Company will dispose of you when you have served your jolly purpose, yes?” Mack said, avoiding Jace’s sword slashes.

“Nah, because we already double crossed ‘em. If the pirate kind is going to go extinct, then I will be the last one to die. Quite an honor, I must say…” Jace boasted smugly, not caring at this point about anyone else but himself.

Higgs approaches, and Mack gives him a signal. He has Jace in position. Higgs then takes aim at Jace with his pistol, but Zoe notices just in time, as Mara slashes her arm.

“Look out!” Zoe yelled to Jace, as Anna backs up near him.

Jace quickly grabs Anna and throws her in the way as a shield. The bullet goes right through her head, as Anna drops to the ground dead, shocking Zoe. She looks at Jace furious.

“You son of a-“ Zoe was saying, about to kill Jace.

Mara then stabs her sword right through Zoe’s chest, catching her off guard, and she falls dead next to her sister. Jace runs back to the Company boat like a coward, but Mack quickly flings his sword at Jace’s leg, stabbing him through it. Jace yells, and he falls. Higgs walks forward and shoots him right in the chest, ending him. Mara and Mack are shocked to see Higgs deliver a kill, as he blows smoke off of his gun.

“Lad had it coming. Nobody misses a shot of mine and gets away with it.” Higgs said, letting out a hearty laugh.

“Maybe we’d make a good bounty team…” Mara pondered.

“Welp, that settles that. Sorry to waste your time here, but at least some old enemies are buried, yeah?” Mack said, trying to look on the bright side.

“This place will be crawling with the Company soon. Probably the main reason they used them in the first place.” Mara realized, seeing one of their ships getting away.

“Aye, appears this truly not be a habitable spot for us either.” Mack sighed, accepting a loss when he sees one.

They head back to the ship, as the crew tells them about what happened. Mack is impressed to hear what Treasure did, as he looks at the creature, wondering what power is has deep within. The Eclipse Pearl sets sail once more.

Back at the merchant ship, Juliet is dressed as a sailor. She climbs a rat-line slowly, listening near the door of the captain's cabin. She can hear the sound of an argument from within. Inside of the cabin, Captain Bellamy rants, waving papers. 

“It's an outrage! Port tariffs and Berthing fees and cargo unloading fees per cargo tonnage and wharf handling and heaven help me, pilotage!” Bellamy ranted, not happy with the Eastern Trading Company affecting his business in Enhalas.

The bursar and quartermaster look uncomfortable. 

“Are we all to work for the Eastern Trading Company then?” Bellamy asked.

“The numbers don't lie, sir-“ Bursar replied.

“Make them lie!” Bellay demanded.

“I'm afraid, sir…Latorga is only free port left in these waters.” The quartermaster said, not waning to say it.

“An illegal pirate port is what you mean. Well I'm sorry, but an honest sailor I am. I make my living fair and square and sleep well each night, thank you-“ Bellamy was saying.

There is a blur movement in the window behind him.

“Sir!” Bursar yelled.

“What?” Bellamy asked.

The bursar, shaking, can only point. Bellamy turns, and looks to see in the window of the captain's cabin, the wedding dress floats by. Bellamy, the bursar and the quartermaster exit the cabin. Ahead of them, floating above the deck, dancing away, is Juliet's wedding dress. As if it has a will of its own, an eerie sight. It disappears past the capstan, dances close to the rail, then out over the black waters, and back. Bellamy comes up to the wide-eyed cook and sailor.

“Tell me now, you two do see that, yeah?” The cook inquired.

“Aye, I do see that.” Bellamy replied.

In the rigging, Juliet plays puppeteer, fishing line wrapped around a mop handle; she darts across the topgallant yard, sweeping the dress along. On deck, near the bowsprit, the dress suddenly stops moving, hanging in the air. Then the arm lifts, points directly at Bellamy. The crew shuffles away from him, and then POINTS out to sea. 

“She wants you to do something.” Bursar said.

“Jump overboard?” The quartermaster asked.

Bellamy tosses him a scowl. 

“She's trying to give a sign.” Bellamy replied.

On the wind, a soft voice can be heard... 

La…tor…ga…” The wind spoke. 

“Did you hear that?” The cook asked.

“Torgata? Laforga? Latke?” Bursar, the quartermaster and sailor all guessed in that order.

Bursar and the quartermaster give the sailor a scowl for his suggestion.

“Sorry, I'm hungry.” The sailor apologized, as the crew hears his stomach growl.

The dress swoops down, knocks over a burning lantern, races toward the rail and drops. 

“There! Look for a sign!” Bellamy shouted.

The crew rush to the rail and look out. Juliet drops down onto the deck behind them. She looks backwards to where fire burns on deck from the spilled lantern. She then looks back to the crew, completely exasperated. 

“There it is! There's the sign!” The quartermaster yelled, pointing to seaweed.

“That's seaweed.” The sailor replied.

“Seaweed can be a sign.” The quartermaster objected.

“Looks like entrails.” The cook noted.

“That would be a bad sign.” Bellamy said.

Juliet grabs the shoulder of Bursar, turns him around and points. 

“What's that over there?” Juliet asked.

Everyone looks. The deck burns…with the word Latorga in large flaming letters. 

“Is it telling us to go there?” The quartermaster asked.

It is. All Juliet can do not to scream. Bellamy looks at his crew members, who look back, scared, waiting for his order. 

“Men, what say ye to a course change? Prudence suggests we make way for the island of Latorga!” Bellamy offered.

Finally! Relief, shouts of approval from the crew, making Juliet smile.

“Put that out while you're at it, there's a good lad.” Bellamy ordered, referring to the fire.

Juliet vows to help Sawyer in his search for Mack, wherever the two are. From her knowledge, Latorga is the best starting point.

Meanwhile, Melching walks into the Eastern Trading Company office.

“No luck finding miss Rose. Those pirates are dead, sir. Mack and his crew escaped.” Melching reported to Lennett bitterly.

However, Lennett is not bothered by this whatsoever. 

“All as I planned. One step closer towards victory.” Lennett said.

“How so?” Melching asked.

“I’m not such the one to show my full hand off the cuff. I know Mack, and he is no fool. Sending four pirates to their deaths was an added bonus. The main outcome was to learn where Stark’s ship is heading, and where Barkinique fits on my map.” Lennett revealed, as he never expected Jace’s crew to actually capture Mack.

Melching is impressed by his boss’ strategy once again. The Company will be putting an end to the shipyard business there, thus cutting off a major source of ships for pirates. His painter fills in more of the map, now showing the region where La Barkinique resides. Now, Enhalas starts to feel smaller and less confusing to the Company. Lennett smiles, pleased how his work is progressing.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debuts: Captain Fletcher, Captain Bellamy

-Area Debuts: La Barkinique

-Deaths: Jace, Zoe, Grudge, Anna and Captain Fletcher

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24. The Relic Raiders

The Eclipse Pearl is seen continuing to sail along the treacherous tides of Enhalas.

“Find an island that don’t stink this time, Captain Stark!” Pagetti suggested.

“I promise my island inspection skills shall be much better this time around.” Mack said, looking around with his telescope, and then spots a nearby island.

As Mack gets closer, he suddenly recognizes the island. The very island that led to him losing his ship eight years ago: The Island With No Name. This was where he found the key that led him to Isla de Condenar, which ended up dooming him once Bedossa mutinied him. A memory he prefers to not dwell on anymore now that he has his prized ship back, of course. Mack realizes it would be a perfect spot because of its general obscurity, and to his knowledge from his first visit eight years ago, there was nobody else living on the island. Or so he hopes, at least. The crew notices Mack swerving the Eclipse Pearl, making it head for the island shore.

“What be our destination now, cap?” Higgs asked.

“Gentlemen and lady, we've arrived at The Island With No Name!” Mack revealed.

This surprises Higgs, as he recalls his story of the island.

“Is that really the name, or did you give it that?” Mara asked.

“A bit of both, for years the island has never been given a name on any known map, so I took it upon myself to declare it such a name.” Mack explained.

“Aye, I do recall this place, it was what led us to the cursed gold, and…us mutinying against you.” Gintell realized, as him and Pagetti gulp thinking about it.

“It’s in the past now, boys. You’re not dead and apart of my crew again, savvy?” Mack promised them, genuinely holding no amnesty towards either as he knows they were manipulated by Bedossa.

“Savvy! Aye aye captain!” Pagetti and Gintell both saluted back.

As the ship gets closer, Treasure senses something strange from the island, as it perks its head over from the captain’s deck. It looks out at the island in wonder. Treasure feels a deep connection to this island for a mysterious reason. It keeps looking and almost falls off the railing, but Mack sees this, rushing over in time to save the creature.

“Easy there, eager boy!” Mack said, holding Treasure, as it squirms around in his hands.

“What’s gotten into the lad?” Higgs asked curiously.

“Guess even the boy is eager for this island, which means I definitely chose right this time!” Mack said confidently, knowing now for sure he’ll be safe there if Treasure wants to go there.

The Eclipse Pearl makes port at the shore. Merlin and Lotton are hesitating if they want to go down there due to what happened at La Barkinique. 

“If ye are hesitating about setting foot on the fabled land, there could be some buried treasures we did not see the first time around, lads! Go wild!” Mack said, holding out a pair of shovels for the two.

Lotton and Merlin grab the shovels, excited, as they leave the ship. Gintell and Pagetti, both giddy by the prospect of buried treasure here, decide to join everyone else too. Treasure then continues to sense a powerful presence coming from the island. It calls to Treasure, and it keeps looking in wonder. It then begins to wander off on its own…

“But wait, I now be realizin’ that there’s nobody to watch the ship now if we’re all going.” Merlin realized, looking back as he walks on the shore.

“Not necessary, nobody else is on this island, so no need to worry about ship larceny!” Mack boasted, feeling his boots press along the sandy shore.

“Are you sure about that? Your instincts haven’t exactly been spot on so far.” Mara questioned mockingly. 

“Treasure seems to think it’s a good idea, and I trust his judgment.” Mack replied.

“Then what do you call that?” Mara asked, seeing Treasure rushing off without the group, heading for the jungles.

“Where’s he goin’ off to?” Higgs wondered.

Merlin and Lotton try to grab the creature. However, Treasure then focuses its energy, and makes itself glow. It allows the creature to move faster, as Merlin and Lotton both fail to grab it, falling into the sand.

“Ahoy mateys, he’s getting away!” Lotton’s scallop chirped from above, trying to follow Treasure from the air.

“Get back here you little scamp!” Mack yelled, chasing after Treasure.

“I’ve never seen the beast go this fast before!” Gintell noted, trying to give chase as well.

“What’s gotten into your pet?” Mara asked, running side by side to Mack.

“I haven’t a clue, maybe it saw another animal or it wants to play a game with us!” Mack guessed, genuinely not knowing, but hoping nothing is wrong with it.

The seven reach the island’s jungle, and realize Treasure has escaped from their sights. They look around the area for any sign of the fast creature, but nothing. The crew looks annoyed this has turned into a pet hunt rather than a relaxing spot to hide out. Lotton’s scallop continues to fly around overhead to help search for Treasure.

“What says we split up to cover more ground in this motley quest?” Mack asked.

“Aye, I approve, though I’d correct that it be more “mundane” than it is motley.” Higgs replied.

“If it gets your pet found faster, yeah.” Mara replied.

“I shall embark on this solo. Treasure may be more receptive if I approach it alone.” Mack suggested, so he quickly goes off on his own, leaving the rest to form their own groups. He begins calling Treasure’s name throughout the jungle, echoing aloud.

“How’s about we tag team?” Higgs offered Mara, who shrugs in approval.

“Sure, just try to keep up old man.” Mara replied, as she quickly goes through a separate path already, getting a head start.

“I keep tellin’ you people, I ain’t that old!” Higgs replied, as he begins to feel his back ache. “Well, maybe a little.”

“Pagetti and I be a package deal, but we’ll take…mmm, the mute with us!” Gintell declared, pointing to Lotton, who nods.

“Thanks for picking the short guy last, everyone.” Merlin said annoyed, knowing people would view him as a burden. Higgs manages to adjust his back to a more comfortable posture, feeling ready to go now.

“Now now lad, it wasn’t anything personal, well from me, not so sure about those two loons.” Higgs said, looking at Gintell and Pagetti. “How’s about you come with Mara and I? And I ain’t offering this out of pity?”

“Aye first mate, better than them.” Merlin replied, agreeing.

He looks over to see Pagetti already lost his wooden eye, with Lotton trying to help Gintell find it. He does not want to be involved in their antics. Merlin and Higgs go through their path, trying to catch up to Mara. She is waiting for them at a stopping point ahead, leaning against a tree.

“Can you go any slower?” Mara teased smugly, as Higgs and Merlin, who continue walking ahead.

“This is why I didn’t miss her presence too much…” Merlin sighed, trying to keep up with yet another one of Mara’s training exercises. 

“A lil’ exercise will do both of us some good, now come on!” Higgs said, as he and Merlin make their way through the thick weeds.

The last group goes on their own path after recovering Pagetti’s eye. 

“My instinct tells me we go this way!” Gintell declared, as Lotton and Pagetti follow.

The groups are now split up on their own pathways, trying to search the island for Treasure, as Lotton’s scallop keeps flying around for the search.

Meanwhile, Sawyer is seen in his rental boat, still sailing the seas in his search for Mack. He sails to Rumrunner’s Isle to see if Mack was stranded there again, but does not see his ship, so he moves on. Time passes, and he eventually reaches a trading port called Windward. A tall windmill stands in the plaza center. Sawyer docks his boat at the bay, lined up with other boats belonging to sailors eager to partake in the trade. He notices several Company soldiers inspecting around the area for pirates, so he makes haste. 

He walks around the plaza, asking civilians, sailors and merchants alike if they had seen the Eclipse Pearl pass by. None of them have anything to tell him, as he groans in annoyance at yet another dead end. Sawyer then begins to smell an enticing aroma from an unknown source.

“I could sure use somethin’ to eat…” Sawyer said hungry, as he’s barely had anything to eat in his voyage.

He begins to follow the source of the smell. He then turns around a corner, finding the source of the scent. He comes across a group of pirates unloading something from their small ship, which are…pies? 

“Pies for sale!” One of the pie pirates yelled, waving one in the air, trying to get any customers.

Sawyer approaches them in curiosity, trying to find out if these are really pies or a scam. 

“Ahoy, we got our first customer of the day!” The pie pirate said with giddy.

“Howdy there, partners. Those homemade pies ya got there sure look mighty good.” Sawyer complimented, looking at them with delicious.

“Oh, these aren't homemade. They were made in a factory... a bomb factory. They're bombs, for pirates seeking out creative new ammunition.” The pie pirate explained.

Sawyer is taken aback by this. There goes his appetite. Who would be crazy enough to make bomb pies? Pirates would, of course.

“I’ll pass.” Sawyer replied, walking away.

“Wait, we were just kidding about the pie stuff! What if we sold ‘em to ya for 25 doubloons?” The pie pirate offered, trying to scam Sawyer, but he grabs his arm.

“Nice try pal, but I know a con when I see one.” Sawyer replied, letting go of the pie pirate’s arm, and the pirate backs away.

“Alright, just please don’t alert the Company or Navy, this business is our life’s work!” The pie pirate panicked.

Sawyer gives off a look indicating they aren’t worth his time, as he moves along. He begins to head back toward his ship at the bay, ready to leave this island. Suddenly, a civilian approaches him.

“Excuse me sir, I heard you were inquiring about the Eclipse Pearl’s whereabouts?” The civilian asked Sawyer.

“Yeah, you got something?” Sawyer asked, not hopeful.

“A friend of mine said they saw its mighty black sails heading straight for La Barkinique just recently. He swore it on his life, and this true friend of mine mine has never told a lie for as long as I’ve known him.” The civilian promised.

“I’ll believe it when I see it, but if yer right, thanks pal.” Sawyer replied, heading off.

Sawyer turns back to see the pie pirates being apprehended by the Company soldiers.

“Curses!” The pie pirate yelled, as the Company soldiers dump their pies into the water.

Sawyer gets back into his rental boat and sets sail for La Barkinique, deciding to follow this tip since he has no other leads. He later makes port at La Barkinique. He looks around at the shipyard, seeing the sailors hard at work.

“If I had the money, I could ditch this boat for one of these babies…” Sawyer said jealously, looking around at the ships for sale.

He scouts around the area, and sees sailors still cleaning up the aftermath of Grudge’s crash into the ship store. 

“Did a storm blow through here?” Sawyer joked, wondering what caused that damage.

He approaches a sailor inside the store, who is sweeping up the mess with a broom.

“Howdy sir, you got a moment?” Sawyer asked, as the sailor looks up to see Sawyer.

“Sure lad, I got nothing else better to do.” The sailor replied, which Sawyer could not tell if was genuine sarcasm or not.

“I heard the Eclipse Pearl came through here. That true?” Sawyer asked.

“Aye, it did, and brought a whole nest of trouble. Stark and his pals were fighting these other insane pirates, and they ended up wiping the floor with ‘em. After that, the Pearl crew went on their merry way.” The sailor explained.

 Sawyer isn’t surprised to hear Mack got into a fight, figuring whoever they were wanted Treasure, as he knew it still was seen as a valuable prize to these pirates for some reason.

“Did they say where they were going?” Sawyer asked.

“Nope, just saw their ship head west. Good luck catching up with them.” The sailor replied, as he continues to sweep the floor.

“West it is then.” Sawyer replied, heading back to his rental boat, as he continues his search. At least now he might be finally getting somewhere.

Back on The Island With No Name, Gintell, Pagetti and Lotton make their way through a lush path of flora.

“They sure smell good, they do…” Pagetti said, taking in the aroma of the flowers.

“They could also kill ya if they’re poisonous, you numbskull!” Gintell warned, dragging Pagetti away from them. 

Gintell grabs Lotton’s shovel and gives Pagetti a light whack in the head with it.

“That was a tad uncalled for…” Pagetti replied, rubbing his head.

“Watch your surroundings, didn’t they teach ya anything for being a pirate!?” Gintell asked.

Pagetti thinks it over.

“Nope.” Pagetti replied, and Gintell realizes he wasn’t taught anything either.

“Touche.” Gintell replied, as they keep walking.

They then see a familiar dirt path to the left.

“I remember this place…” Gintell said, recalling how this path led them to their key.

“That’s right! Maybe the little critter went down here, let’s hope!” Pagetti said, insisting for Lotton and Gintell to follow the dirt path.

They agree, as the three head through it. They then see the wooden cross up ahead, where Mack had dug up the skeleton containing the object used to find Isla de Condenar. The three reach it, looking down at the open pit to see the skeletal remains still lying there after all this time. Gintell and Pagetti recognize the skeleton from their first visit here, recalling how it led them to Isla de Condenar. Pagetti and Gintell both reminisce back to their expedition from 8 years ago. Discovering this island for the first time was a beautiful trip, though they truly wish it had not ended in a mutiny in retrospect. Lotton just looks at the pit in confusion, but goes along with it.

“Nobody ever wanted to bury the poor fallen soul back up again…” Pagetti realized.

“That’s probably because nobody else has been to this island since us!” Gintell replied, whacking Pagetti in the head with a shovel again.

“Well, how about we be good souls and bury him back up.” Pagetti said, taking the shovel, and begins shoveling dirt back over the hole.

“You’re doing it wrong! Let me show you how to bury a corpse!” Gintell insisted, as he takes the shovel from Pagetti.

Gintell begins shoveling dirt over the hole his way.

“No, you’re getting too much in the bones, you gotta give him an honorable burial.” Pagetti insisted, trying to take the shovel back, as the two start to bicker over it.

“It’s a damn rotting skeleton, it don’t deserve no “honorable burial”!” Gintell insisted.

“I heard it be bad luck to not bury a body properly!” Pagetti replied.

“Oh really, where did you hear that load of nonsense?” Gintell asked, unimpressed, as he takes the shovel out of his hand and whacks him with it again.

Lotton then looks around for Treasure while the two continue to fight over the shovel in the background. Lotton suddenly spots Treasure speeding away deep in the forests near them. He interrupts Pagetti and Gintell’s fight, separating them.

“You better have a good reason to interrupt us, mute!” Gintell said angrily, as he was about to give Pagetti another good whacking.

Lotton makes hand gestures, and points toward the jungle.

“You see the critter?” Pagetti asked, and Lotton nods.

“At least SOMEONE on this team is useful for something!” Gintell said, eager to have a lead.

“We’ll come back for you later.” Pagetti promised to the skeleton, half covered in dirt, and the three rush off to where Lotton saw Treasure.

Mara, Higgs and Merlin make their way through their jungle path, with Mara continuing to rush ahead.

“You can slow down now, this isn’t a race!” Merlin complained, trying to keep up with her.

Mara then stops in her tracks, putting her hand back to stop Higgs and Merlin from moving forward too. Merlin is surprised to see that whinging worked, or if he had coincidental timing.

“Shh.” Mara said, making the gesture and crouching down.

“What is it?” Higgs asked in a whisper.

She carefully looks through the bushes to make sure she sees what she thinks she does.

“There’s a shore up ahead, and on it, I think I see a boat.” Mara said concerned.

“You mean ours?” Merlin asked.

“No, not the Pearl.” Mara replied.

“But I thought this island was abandoned? Who would come out here, especially at such suspicious timing?” Higgs asked.

“That’s what we’re going to find out.” Mara replied.

“Captain Stark won’t be happy about this…” Merlin sighed.

Mara signals for them to go forward after making sure the coast is clear. The three sneak their way through the weeds, and look out at the shore. They see a gray, armored steel Company ship docked near the shore. 

“Whose ship that be?” Higgs asked, worried, now realizing they truly aren’t alone on this obscure island.

“It’s the Company's.” Mara realized, recognizing the boat design from the one that escaped La Barkinique and the ones she had seen passing through recently. “What they’re doing here, I have no idea however.”

“Did they follow us?” Merlin asked.

“If they did, they would’ve attacked the Pearl, but we’ve heard no cannon fire. I figure they want something on this isle, and our paths crossed at an inconvenient timing…” Higgs speculated.

“That theory works for me. Let’s figure out where they are now, hopefully they aren’t hunting the others.” Mara replied.

The three get up, when they hear a noise from not too faraway. They crouch down again, and follow toward the source of the noise. They get close enough, and carefully hide behind the bushes. They poke their heads up to see a clearing in front of them. At the clearing is a large, ancient ruin structure. Several blue symbols are seen engraved on it, the same symbol belonging to the group that guarded Treasure.

“Didn’t think that this place would have such fancy architecture either…” Higgs noted.

They then look to the right to see three armored soldiers chipping away at the ruins using tools, with crates nearby. They are extracting a painting on the ruin wall, which resembles an ancient, incomplete map of Enhalas. Most of it had been worn away by now due to the structure’s age, but they felt it may still be of use to Lennett’s map deduction. The soldiers are wearing steel armor and helmets, with capes waving around their backs. They are Lennett’s Relic Raider team, a special division of the Eastern Trading Company tasked with obtaining artifacts and artwork from every island that may help in completion of his map. The soldiers by chance had come across this place, not expecting anything of use here, but were surprised to come upon quite the intriguing ancient ruins scattered throughout the island. One of the soldiers begins carving at the corner, but accidentally chips the edge.

“Careful! We don’t want to damage this more than it is, the boss wants it intact for his research.” Another soldier warned.

“Do we really need this? We already got plenty of ruins from this place to ship off, and this map might not be of much use.” The first soldier said.

“Every little bit counts according to Lord Lennett, and you don’t want to come back empty handed.” The second soldier reminded.

“You’re right.” The first soldier replied, as they keep at their work.

Higgs spots the Company’s insignia on their armor.

“Never seen soldiers like those before, and they come heavily armored…” Higgs noted.

“Must be a new kind of soldier, but for what?” Mara wondered.

“Looks like they’re chipping away at that fancy artwork…” Merlin said, trying to see what’s on the ruins.

Mara pulls out her binoculars and uses them to look at what they are trying to extract.

“Oh no…it’s an old map of Enhalas.” Mara realized, as Merlin and Higgs are shocked.

“That means…they be plannin’ to use it to make their own.” Higgs realized.

“We gotta stop them!” Merlin whispered.

“Are we supposed to just go in gung ho and hope for the best? Assassins like me usually have a strategy!” Mara whispered back.

“Well yes, that’s what us pirates tend to do. Guns, swords blazing and pray for the best.” Higgs replied.

“There’s only three of them. I suppose we could take them. But what about their armor?” Mara asked.

“We’ll improvise that as we get there.” Merlin replied, and Mara sighs.

“Wait, look carefully. Their armor ain’t covering their whole bodies, see?” Higgs pointed out, indicating weak spots on their necks and sides respectively. “Aim for them.”

“Okay, let’s go.” Mara shrugged, willing to wing this.

The three charge out of the bushes, aiming their weapons at the soldiers. The Relic Raider soldiers are startled to see them, as they thought they were alone on this island.

“Pirates! Team, protect the ruins!” The lead soldier yelled.

The three hold out metal staffs, which have blades at both ends. They twirl them around and walk forward towards the group. Mara runs, dodging the blades, and tries to shoot her gun right at one of the soldiers’ weak points. She fires, but one of their staff’s blades knocks the bullet out of its trajectory, surprising Mara. The soldier then jabs their staff forward at Mara, who gets stuck in the leg by it, showing a bloody scratch. She tries to stay strong, but the soldier hits her in the chest with the staff, knocking her off her game. Mara then strikes her sword at the staff, but the soldier’s twirling staff disarms it. Higgs and Merlin are doing no better against the other two. Merlin’s height gives him a disadvantage already against the staff, and Higgs’ sword can’t keep up with the spinning blades. All three of them are sent to the ground, as they realize they may have overestimated their opponents.

Mack is seen looking around for Treasure, running on his own path without a thought. He then stumbles across another set of ancient ruins, and examines them, hoping Treasure is nearby. Their designs have similarity to the stone tablet Valek had in his office. He then sees a painting on one, showing a giant, emerald, basilisk creature rising out of the sea, with its eyes curiously resembling Treasure’s.

“That’s interesting…” Mack said, wondering what they mean.

The painting also shows it being commanded by a caricature of Davy Jones, standing atop The Cursed Bones near it and raising his sword, though Mack does not understand any of this. The rest of the structure had been dismantled already by the Relic Raider team. Mack then suddenly hears a strange whisper in the wind.

“Stark…follow my voice…” The voice spoke, and Mack looks around.

“Hello?” Mack asked.

“Follow me…” The voice spoke again.

Mack chases after the voice, hoping it might be one of his crew who found a lead, or even Treasure communicating with him somehow. He follows, and arrives at the secluded clearing Bedossa found on his visit, shrouded in fog. The pond in the center still remains there. Mack tries to find his way through the fog, and then sees the lake. Right next to it, Treasure is there, staring at its reflection.

“There you are, boy!” Mack said, pleased to find it.

He wonders what Treasure is looking at, and looks at the pond as well. Suddenly, the grey hermit crab rises from it, as Mack looks at the large conch shell on its back. From under the shell, the brown octopus, or “The Oracle” as it called itself when it spoke to Bedossa, appears out from under it. Treasure looks at it frightened, as Mack tries to calm it down.

“That’s interesting…though I had hoped this island was unoccupied.” Mack said, annoyed, as he did not want to share his hiding spot with strangers. However, he then takes a note of the blue symbol on the octopus’ forehead. “Wait…”

Mack then recognizes this symbol: it belonged to the same group that was guarding Treasure’s bunker on Nevarro. He wonders what this could mean. Was this creature causing Treasure to act up? He needed answers.

“You have a name?” Mack asked.

“I am The Oracle. Our long foretold meeting has come at last.” The Oracle spoke from the octopus, as this strange creature makes Mack quite curious.

“Glad to have another endearing fan, I’ve been told I am quite a celebrity around these parts. You know something about my pet here? I theorize you drew it here, yes?” Mack inquired.

“That would be correct. I only drew it out so you’d both be here. I can help you get Davy Jones off your trail, and in turn, tell you how to avoid a terrible fate from befalling your companion there…” The Oracle spoke, pointing its tentacle to the creature.

Mack gives it a serious look, wondering what’s going on.

“What terrible fate? Gets too fat?” Mack asked.

“You have been wondering why it was on Nevarro, and why Admiral Valek wanted it so much, yes?” The Oracle asked.

“Somewhat, I suppose, but I also forgot about both eventually. Wait, how did you know…” Mack replied, curious how this knows so much, but it cuts him off.

“This creature was birthed from the sea gods themselves long ago in response to the magical shift in Enhalas, as a “balance”. It has a strong connection to the supernatural of this region, and it has the power to give life. But it can also be used to destroy if put on a darker path. Davy Jones has sought out this creature. The group you liberated it from were protecting it from him for many years, moving it island to island. Once his current monster’s time passes, he will seek a new companion to inflict his wrath upon the seas with. That creature will be none other than the “Treasure” you have found. It’s destined to someday grow into Davy Jones’ next pet.” The Oracle explained, shocking Mack with this knowledge.

The pool shows a vision of Treasure, now fully evolved into its leviathan form, which is the emerald basilisk. It lets out a roar, diving into the wild seas below. It moves its body toward a nearby pirate ship. Its body then rises from the sea, as it begins to wrap its entire body around the ship. With one move, it crushes it into pieces, devouring the remains as it dives back into the waters. Treasure is horrified by these images, as the vision ends.

“That’s malarkey, Treasure is too cute and small to turn into that hideous beast! Let me guess, this is all some test or lesson about me needing to take proper care of the pet because of it running away, yeah?” Mack guessed, not buying this story.

“You saw it on the ruins.” The Oracle reminded, as Mack thinks back.

He pauses, realizing he did. The ruins told the story.

“…I see now. This is only a baby leviathan, explains why its magical thingies appear sparse. But if I keep it in my care, will it become good?” Mack asked.

“Only destiny can decide that. Its destiny can change just as quickly as the love in one’s heart can fade. Nothing is set in stone.” The Oracle spoke strongly.

The tone in The Oracle’s voice sounds genuine to Mack, as if it truly does want to put him on the proper path, a stark contrast to it dooming Bedossa for his destiny.

“What must I do to save Treasure from this horrid fate?” Mack asked, willing to believe it now.

“Keep it away from Jones, but to do that, you must defeat him. You are familiar with Ava Dalmas, yes?” The Oracle spoke, as Mack’s eyes widen, since he recognizes that name.

“I know her, we have quite a history.” Mack reminisced.

“She will aid you in how to stop Davy Jones. Find her…” The Oracle spoke, as the creature disappears back into the pond.

“If I had known that, I would’ve gone to her from the start…” Mack said, annoyed.

The fog clears, as Mack looks around clearer. Mack now realizes he technically killed a bunch of innocent people now, but he had no idea those cultists were protecting Treasure, so he can’t fault himself too badly. He’s also annoyed Jones has another reason to hunt him, but he hoped he would not find out about the creature being in his care. He then suddenly hears fighting nearby, as he and Treasure rush off to the source. They see Mara, Higgs and Merlin still struggling to fight against the Relic Raiders.

“What in blazes…what’s with all these sudden intruders on this island!?” Mack said, frustrated.

He rushes out in a hurry, ready to fight.

“Mack!” Higgs said, eager to see him, as Merlin and Mara look.

Mack pulls out his sword, when suddenly, Pagetti, Gintell and Lotton all run from the other side. The three pirate groups converge together, cornering the three soldiers, but they're not scared of the number advantage.

“Well, we found ‘em!” Pagetti said, seeing Treasure and everyone else.

“What were you doing, you little runt!?” Gintell asked angrily to Treasure.

“Who are these buffoons?” Mack asked, ready to fight them.

“Company soldiers, a special kind. They were trying to rip out that painting of Enhalas there a map.” Higgs explained.

Mack walks forward and clashes his sword against the leader’s staff, as the rest split up to deal with the other two. Merlin gives his shovel to Pagetti, as he and Gintell use them against a soldier's staff. Mack dances around the leader, craftily maneuvering and striking his sword at him. As Mack moves, the leader quickly puts their staff in the way of his feet, tripping Mack. The leader punches him and throws him against a tree, with his sword out of his reach. The leader approaches him, pointing their staff blade. Treasure sees Mack is in danger, with everyone else occupied, as the leader moves closer about to finish him. Treasure jumps in the way between the two, confusing the leader and everyone else.

“What sorcery is this!?” The leader asked, pointing their staff blade.

“I appreciate the sentiment boy, but uh, now’s not the time!” Mack panicked, but then ponders, “Or are you going to do a thing?”

Treasure levitates itself into the air, glowing stronger than ever before. The soldiers and pirates look at it in confusion. It releases a powerful magic blast unlike Mack has ever seen before at the Relic Raider soldiers. They throw out their staffs in an attempt to block it, but the magic is too much for their staffs.

“It’s…too…much…magic!” The leader panicked, as his staff breaks, and the magic blasts through their armor.

The blast vaporizes all three of them, leaving burnt armor debris left behind. The blast also destroys the ruin remains, making sure the map cannot be used again, as the pieces fly everywhere. Lotton's scallop flies back onto his shoulder, who had observed the fight. Treasure calms down, as it stops glowing and falls down to the ground. Mack runs over to Treasure and picks the creature up, seeing how exhausted it is from that move.

“…A thing he did, indeed.” Mack said, proud of the creature, but also with a sense of nervousness in his voice.

Mack looks at Treasure with a tint of terror in his eyes after what The Oracle showed him. The creature vaporized those soldiers like a snap in the wind. Sure, the creature did it to protect him, but what if he ended up on the receiving end of that someday? He did not want to find out.

“You saved us again, you little beautiful treasure you!” Pagetti cheered happily, hugging Gintell.

Higgs hands Treasure to Mack, whose presence makes the creature happier again. But Mack holds it unsure how to feel, and Mara approaches him.

“Mack, you look like you saw a phantom. What happened out there?” Higgs asked curiously.

“Well…I don’t know if ye would believe me if I said it.” Mack was saying, unsure what to say.

“Try me.” Mara replied.

“A magical octopus told me that Treasure is actually destined to grow into a leviathan beast to be served under Davy Jones, but I can save it from this fate.” Mack explained, as Higgs and Mara’s looks on their faces tell they aren’t sure if they buy it. “Fair reaction, I thought it was hogwash too, but…it’s all real. I’ll do my damndest to protect this critter from Jones. I’ve put yet another one of my closest companions in danger, and now I need to make it all go away.”

“How will we do that, cap?” Higgs asked.

“We find Ava Dalmas.” Mack replied, with Higgs recognizing this name given Mack’s stories.

“Who’s that?” Mara asked.

“Let’s say she’s an old friend, yeah?” Mack replied.

“I still don’t believe this little thing would turn into a monster…” Mara said, still unsure how to feel about the story Mack dropped on them.

“Well you best start believing in monsters, miss Mara, because I’m holdin’ one. Looks can be deceiving.” Mack said. “But…it’ll be okay. I’ll take even better care of it now.”

“Should ye tell the rest of the crew?” Higgs asked.

“They do not need another distraction on their minds.” Mack replied.

The group all heads back to the Eclipse Pearl, getting aboard.

“Good news crew, we will not have to keep running anymore, for I have a solution to pour problem…which is our next destination!” Mack announced, setting sail.

“Where to next, sir?” Pagetti asked, ready for action.

“Up the river we go!” Mack said.

“I don’t know what that means, but I can’t wait!” Pagetti cheered, as Mack sets course for where he knows Ava Dalma is.

Mack is determined to put Treasure on the right path for its destiny, and promises to keep looking after it as long as he lives. Part of him wonder what would happen if Treasure truly did grow into the monstrous beast he saw in the pond illusion, but figured he would not be alive to see it depending on how these leviathans age. Treasure protecting him today showed him the creature would still be by his side no matter what, but he does fear what he truly knows about it at this point. One piece of good news is that he won’t have to run from Davy Jones any longer, eager to put an end to this chase. However, another worry crosses his mind upon realizing they’ve had two skirmishes with the Company’s forces back to back. He realizes the world of Enhalas is growing smaller by each day, and there won’t be anywhere left to hide from them even if he escapes Jones.

Meanwhile, Sawyer is back at out at sea, growing tired of his inability to find Mack.

“Stark and his crew will certainly be gettin’ awards for hide and seek champions…” Sawyer muttered under his breath.

Suddenly, through the glare of the sun, he looks out at the sea to see something his eyes do not believe. In its gloomy glory is The Eclipse Pearl, waving the black sails through the perilous winds. 

“It can’t be…” Sawyer said.

Sawyer is not sure if what he’s seeing is a hallucination from being out at sea so long. He washes his eyes with the ocean water, and looks out again, still seeing The Eclipse Pearl’s sails waving strong.

"Well I’ll be, what luck. I’m coming for ya, Mack.” Sawyer said, as he adjusts the rental boat’s mast, changing course.

He begins to immediately follow in the Pearl’s ocean path. While he sails off, a pirate ship is seen far off in the distance. The crew on board are happily drunk, when they feel a tremor from beneath. Within seconds, a large tentacle grabs the ship, and drags it into the abyss below…

Notes/Trivia:

-Area Debuts: Windward

-The rest of Treasure’s backstory is given.

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25. Price of Freedom

The Eclipse Pearl heads for the Enhalas Bayous, a swampy area. Ava Dalmas resides here, who hopefully has the answer to Mack’s problem. If she does not, he will note to never trust talking octopi ever again. It’s nighttime, so most of the crew is getting a deserved nap below. Except for Mara, who is up looking about. Mack approaches, about to ask a question.

“If you’re asking if we can sleep together, no.” Mara replied, and Mack looks at her with a baffled look.

“…I was going to ask why you’re not getting any sleep, dear. Aren’t you tired?” Mack asked.

“When you’re a trained killer like me, there’s no room for sleep, because you never know who will betray you.” Mara replied coldly.

The crew are in their bunks below, trying to sleep. Mac the sea monkey hops around, startling them.

“Not again!” Merlin yelled, getting knocked off of his bed.

“Can we get this wretched thing outta here!?” Gintell complained, swatting the creature away.

“Actually…I could use that pest as payment for my friend. She may appreciate the decor.” Mack realized.

“Whatever gets us rid of it, I ain’t complain’.” Merlin replied, as the rets of the crew also agrees.

The crew begins to plot out a complex scheme to catch the sea monkey.

“We’ll need to be crafty to match this beast’s trickery…” Gintell pondered.

“We could use a banana as bait.” Pagetti suggested.

“…Right, I do have those.” Mack realized.

He grabs a banana from the cargo supplies, and Treasure looks at it, wanting some food. 

“Sorry mate, not for you.” Mack said.

They leave the banana out on the deck. Mack, Higgs, Merlin and Lotton watch from the steps, hiding in the shadows. Above, Gintell and Pagetti are hiding behind a crate, holding a cage. They are able to trap it in a cage, as they wrap a cloth over it to drown out its screams.

“What was that?” Mara asked, hearing the animal’s unholy screeches.

“Nothing.” The pirates all said, covering the clothed cage.

She decides not to ask and walks off. As she looks over the balcony, she spots Sawyer’s rental boat approaching from the starboard side.

“We have a visitor!” Mara yelled.

Mack and the pirates look over to see the ship approaching, wondering who it is. Mara inspects the ship further using her binoculars.

“Looks like a rental boat from Port Royale.” Higgs noted.

The ship gets closer, and Sawyer waves. They let him on board, who looks exhausted.

“Sawyer, what a joy to see you out here, pal!” Mack said. 

“What are you doing out here, lad?” Higgs asked.

“I’ll get to that.” Sawyer replied.

“And what about your ship?” Merlin asked.

“Leave it, I ain’t needing it since y'all are my ride now.” Sawyer requested, happy to be rid of it.

“The more the merrier!” Mack replied.

“Now, let me inquire: What in the sam hell have y’all been doing!? I’ve been trying to find you for days!” Sawyer demanded to know, somewhat irritated.

“Story for another time, but we are in grave danger, let us say.” Mack replied.

Sawyer wonders if he’s referring to Lennett.

“Is it who I think? Because a man from the Eastern Trading Company named Lord Ben Lennett came strollin’ into Port Royale, ruined Juliet and I’s wedding, and demanded that I find you. I reckon you’re familiar with him?” Sawyer asked.

“I am.” Mack replied bitterly, realizing another ghost of his past has come back to haunt him. 

“What’s the story you two have? From his expression, he hates ya…more than a lot of people in Enhalas.” Sawyer inquired curiously.

“Story for another time, or perhaps never.” Mack replied, immediately shutting him down.’”He is not who I am running from at the moment. Are you turning me in?”

“No, I need yer help since Juliet Ina imprisoned, though I reckon she escaped by now. Ben wants your compass, but I presume you ain’t forkin’ it over. Can you help a partner out here?” Sawyer asked.

“I believe we can help each other with where we’re heading. Hold on tight.” Mack promised, as the ship moves faster.

“Are ye a part of the crew again, Mr. Turner?” Pagetti asked.

“Not particularly, consider me freelance until Juliet is safe.” Sawyer replied.

The Pearl makes it to its destination. Two longboats move up bayou river. Sawyer, Higgs, Mara, and Pagetti in one. Mack, Lotton and Gintell following. Gintell has the covered cage, the sea monkey rattling on the inside.

“What is it that has Mack spooked?” Sawyer asked.

“Mack has run afoul of none other than Davy Jones himself. He is only safe on land. If he goes out to open water, he’ll be taken. Sorry for the trouble that gave ye in finding us, by the way.” Higgs said.

“Taken?” Sawyer asked, trying to understand what he means.

“Aye, taken. By Davy Jones.” Higgs explained, surprising Sawyer.

“How does one find themselves taken by him?” Sawyer asked, curious to know more of the pirate lore.

“Well, I'll tell ye. If you believe such things, there's a beast does the bidding of Davy Jones. A fearsome creature from the depths, with giant tentacles that'll suction your face clean off, and drag an entire ship down to the crushing darkness…The Kraken. They say the stench of its breath is…well, imagine, the last thing you know is the roar of the Kraken and the reeking odor of a thousand rotting corpses.” Higgs explained.

“Never took Mack as the type to be afraid of dying.” Sawyer said, glancing back at him working at a hangnail.

“Aye but with Jones, it ain't about the dying, it’s about the punishment. Think of the worst fate you can conjure for yourself, stretching on forever…and that's what awaits you in Davy Jones' Locker.” Higgs explained to him.

They all take a moment, imagining it.

“But there’s a way out of this?” Sawyer asked.

“Now that's the very question Mack wants answered. Bad enough, even, to go visit…her.” Higgs said.

“Her?” Sawyer asked, confused.

“Aye. Ava Dalmas be her name, whom we are headed to right this moment.” Higgs replied, and then turning away.

Sawyer frowns: what is this woman’s deal, and how can she help them? A glowing jellyfish dances in the bayou forest, beneath a sprawling wood shack in the branches of the tallest kelp tree. At the base of the tree, a rope-and-branch ladder. Mack turns to the others. 

“No worries, mates. I'll handle this. Ava Dalmas and I go way back. Thick as thieves. Nigh inseparable, we were...have been…before. She’s the one who gave me my lucky compass.” Mack said.

“I hope ya kept the receipt.” Sawyer said, referring to how it doesn’t point north.

“I'll watch your back.” Higgs said to Mack.

“It's me front I'm worried about.” Mack replied.

Mack starts to climb, and Higgs follows.

“Mind the boat.” Higgs said to Sawyer.

“Mind the boat.” Sawyer said to Mara.

“Mind the boat.” Mara said to Gintell.

“Mind the boat.” Gintell said to Pagetti.

“Mind the boat.” Pagetti said to Merlin.

“Mind the boat.” Merlin said to Lotton.

Lotton turns, to see the only member left is the scallop.

“Mind the boat.” Lotton’s scallop spoke.

Lotton sighs in defeat and decides to stay onboard watch over the Pearl. 

Mack pushes his way inside the shack, followed by Gintell and Pagetti. Gintell carries the clothed cage forward. They blink in the dim light. Jars of weird creatures. Hanging jellyfish, some of them alive. Overhead a large stuffed horned eel. Ava Dalmas sits in shadows, behind a table. Tarot cards are scattered across the table top; she is reading them. She raises her head, sees Mack, and stands.

“Mack Stark. I always knew the wind was going to blow you back to me one day.” Ava noted.

Ava Dalmas looks up with a start, stares past Mack at Sawyer. A wide, lascivious grin spreads across her face. She walks toward them. Mack first thinks the smile is for him, but realizes, unbelievably, she's focused on Sawyer. She reaches a hand to Sawyer's face, staring into his hand.

“You have a touch of destiny in you, Sawyer Turner.” Ava spoke to him.

“You know me?” Sawyer asked, weirded out.

“You want to know me.” Ava replied cryptically.

“There will be no knowing here. We came here for help.” Mack said sternly.

He ushers Ava back toward the table. 

“I thought I knew you.” Mack said to her.

“Not so well as I had hoped.” Ava replied.

Mack looks at her speculatively. She settles at the table, pulling Sawyer to a sitting position close, very close, beside her. 

“Asking for help does not sound like Mack Stark.” Ava noted curiously.

“It's not so much for me, as for Sawyer, so he can earn a favor from me.” Mack lied, confusing him, and gestures to roll with it. He doesn’t want to embarrass himself in front of her.

“Now that sounds like Mack Stark.” Ava replied, and turns to Sawyer. “What service may I do you? You know I demand payment.”

“I brought payment!” Mack quickly spoke.

Mack lifts the cage from Gintell, unveiling it to show trapped inside, a screeching Mac the sea monkey. Mack shoots it. The sea monkey takes the bullet, and glares at Mack. 

“See?” Mack said, presenting it as if it were an odd attraction, and glances up at her wall. “Perhaps you can give it the eel treatment?”

Ava opens the cage. The sea monkey runs free, to the annoyance of the crew.

“You don't know how long it took us to catch that.” Higgs chimed in.

“The payment is fair.” Ava replied.

She then takes note of Treasure, as it innocently looks at Ava’s treasures.

“Keep good care of that creature. I would hate for the wrong people to take it…” Ava said ominously.

“Yes, I’ve learned that plenty by now. Now then, Sawyer, tell her your request.” Mack ordered.

“We need help findin’ Davy Jones.” Sawyer spoke.

Ava is interested upon hearing this.

“Why do you seek him?” Ava asked.

“Ask him.” Sawyer replied, pointing to Mack, putting him on the spot. He didn’t have any good improv ready, which makes Mack realize he should’ve explained things first.

“Fine…I did not pay off his debt, and now the beast is hungry for me.” Mack replied awkwardly.

“The key to his chest is what you seek.” Ava revealed.

“Great, now where do I find said key? And the chest?” Mack asked, as Ava looks at him curious.

“That compass you bartered from me can't lead you to this?” Ava asked, revealing she is the one who gave him his magic compass.

“No.” Mack replied bluntly. Ava laughs.

“Mack Stark does not know what he wants? Or do you know, but are loathe to claim it as your own?” Ava inquired in a riddle.

Mack avoids both her gaze, and Sawyer's puzzled look. Mack heard of Davy’s chest before, but truly did not know where it was, nor did he believe it existed. Ava turns her attention back to Sawyer. 

“The key opens the chest…and you wonder what lays inside, yes?” Ava explained.

“What’s inside?” Higgs asked.

“Gold? Jewels? Unclaimed properties of a valuable nature?” Gintell asked.

Pagetti turns away from them, staring at a jar of eyeballs.

“Nothing bad, I hope…” Pagetti said, worried.

“Davy Jones, a man of the sea, a great sailor…until he ran afoul of that which vexes all men.” Ava spoke in a riddle.

“What vexes all men?” Sawyer inquired.

Ava smiles at him. 

“What, indeed?” Ava asked.

“The sea.” Higgs guessed.

“Sums.” Gintell guessed.

“The dichotomy of good and evil.” Pagetti guessed, as Gintell looks surprised to hear him say something intelligible.

“A woman.” Mack realized, and Ava gives him a nodding look.

“Yes, a woman. He fell in love.” Ava replied.

“I heard it was the sea he fell in love with.” Higgs replied, confused.

“Same story, different versions, and all are true. It was a woman, as changing and harsh and un-tamable as the sea. He never stopped loving her, but the pain it caused him was too much to live with…but not enough to cause him die.” Ava explained.

On the men as they nod, in unison, all identifying with the problem. Mara on the other hand just rolls her eyes.

“Now what exactly what did he put into that fancy chest?” Sawyer asked.

“His heart.” Ava explained, as they all give her baffled looks.

“Literally or figuratively?” Pagetti asked curiously.

“Of course, figuratively. He couldn't literally put his heart in a chest…Could he?” Gintell replied, now dreading the answer.

“It was not worth feeling what small, fleeting joy life brings, he decided, to endure the inevitable, cruel torments…and so he carved out his heart, locked it away in a chest, and hid the chest from the world. The key, he keeps with him at all times aboard his ship.” Ava explained to them. 

“His heart actually’s in the chest? Ew!” Gintell said, grossing out both him and Pagetti.

“That was a roundabout way to get to the answer.” Mack said, somewhat annoyed The Oracle couldn’t have told him this from the start.

“I searched for days only to learn y’all were running away from Mr. Jones…and now we have to search for him?” Sawyer asked, also annoyed.

“Welcome to my life.” Mara sighed.

“On the plus, now we slip aboard the Cursed Bones, take the key, and then you can go back to Port Royale and save your bonnie lass.” Mack explained.

“Well actually, the first thing we need to do is find his cursed vessel, and then after we get the key, where the chest is.” Higgs corrected.

“I wanted to simplify but yes, that’s the gist of it.” Mack shrugged.

"Great, more hunts!” Gintell replied in annoyance.

“Let me see your hand.” Ava said to Mack, stopping him. He looks at the others.

“In front of them?” Mack whispered, embarrassed. 

Ava nods. She unwraps his hand, revealing the Black Spot. 

“My eyesight is as good as ever, just so you know.” Mack said.

Higgs leans in, seeing the spot. He starts brushing away evil, the way Mack did, turns three times widdershins. Gintell and Pagetti quickly mimic Higgs, just in case. Ava regards the Black Spot with respect. She crosses to a stairway, and climbs. She opens a carved door at the top, with the sound of the ocean whispering down. Higgs glances at Mack.

“That’s weird, right?” Higgs whispered.

“Yeah, it's weird.” Mack replied, nodding, but not questioning further as this journey has been weird enough.

Pagetti peeks up the stairs…the room above is dark. He sees only a pair of empty boots at the door, the sea monkey staring at him. Ava closes the stairs, and with it, the sound of the sea is gone. 

“Davy Jones cannot make port, cannot step on land, but once every ten years…” Ava was explaining.

She descends, carrying a round glass jar. She scoops dirt into the jar, handing it to Mack. He holds it. 

“Land is where you are safe, Mack Stark, and so you will carry land with you.” Ava continued.

“Dirt. This is a jar of dirt.” Mack corrected.

“Yes.” Ava replied.

“…Is the jar of dirt going to help?” Mack asked, not sure if she’s pulling a joke on him.

“If you don't want it, then give it back.” Ava shrugged.

“No!” Mack defied, holding onto the jar of dirt.

“Then it helps.” Ava replied, smiling.

Sawyer, having enough of this, decides to get to the point so they don’t waste more time stalling on a frantic chase.

“Ma’am, do you know where we can find The Cursed Bones?” Sawyer asked bluntly, putting a fake smile to her.

Can she help? Ava regards him, smiles knowingly back. She goes to her tarot cards.

“A touch of destiny…” Ava replied.

Sawyer sighs, as he was hoping his bluntness would provide a non-vague answer. Ava goes over to her tarot cards, and picks out one with a unique lighthouse. She shows this to the crew, indicating they’ll find Davy Jones’s ship near this lighthouse.

“That sure ain’t lookin like Port Royale’s.” Sawyer noted.

“At least it’s a lead.” Mara replied.

“Now where’s the chest?” Mack asked her.

“The compass will lead you when the moment calls.” Ava replied.

“Welp, thanks for everything-“ Mack was saying, shaking her hand, about to leave.

“Before you depart, I would like to borrow your pet there.” Ava asked politely to Mack, seeing Treasure chewing on a table leg.

“Can I trust that? He’s been in a lot of danger lately-“ Mack objected.

“No harm. I only want to use its magic energy for a special ritual. Promise.” Ava replied.

Mack wonders what Ava plans to do with the creature, but decides to take a leap of faith and trust her. 

“If he bites you, I’m not liable.” Mack replied.

He hands Treasure over to her, who looks at her with a nervous look, but she pets it, which immediately calms it down.

“This will only be a moment.” Ava replied, heading upstairs with it.

The crew heads outside while waiting to get air. Sawyer approaches Mack, holding the jar of dirt.

“That didn’t exactly answer how you’d help Juliet, no offense…” Sawyer noted.

“Apologies mate, Jones is all I can think about right now. He’s a bigger threat than the Company, though I worry about them too. And I certainly don’t want to see Lennett.” Mack said bitterly.

“Wanna talk about it?” Sawyer asked.

“Lennett is why I’m a pirate.” Mack revealed, surprising him.

“I’ve been itchin’ to learn yer history, and this might help me con him.” Sawyer asked.

“I’m curious how you ended up in the pirate life, too.” Mara spoke from above, startling them.

They look to see Mara hanging from a tree branch.

“Were you there the whole time? Nearly gave me a damn heart attack!” Sawyer replied, not amused by Mara’s sneak entrance.

“Yeah.” Mara replied bluntly.

“I suppose there’s no harm, since Neptune knows how long she’ll be taking up there.” Mack replied, deciding to enlighten the two with his tale, a tale of which only Higgs knew prior.

Mack reminisces to his life before becoming a pirate, which sounds hard to believe as many would believe Mack has been a pirate his whole life. But the truth is, he was not. 

A younger Mack Stark is seen with a friend of his, Bobby Greene, who he had freed from several rogue pirates a few years prior. The two had joined the Eastern Trading Company, working on the ships. Eventually, Mack became the First Mate of the ETC brig Fair Wind, serving under Captain Davos. When the ship sailed from Port Royale to Ludwigia with the cargo of rum, it encountered a pirate ship. The frigate quickly caught the slow merchant ship, and though Mack persuaded the crew not to fight, the pirate captain attacked Davos anyways. He died from an apoplexy during the fight. Mack negotiated with the captain and convinced her not to take the whole cargo of rum. The next morning, after the memorial service for Davos, Mack sailed the ship for Ludwigia. After arriving, he gave his report to the ETC officials. They took the remaining cargo of the Fair Wind and loaded the ship with firearms. During his brief time there, Mack went to Davos’s family and told them of his untimely demise. Afterwords, Mack sailed the ship back to its home port in Nalabar. Once he arrived, Mack was summoned to see Benjamin Lennett, the Eastern Trading Company Director for Nalabar.

“Generally when ETC employees save the company money, I award them a nice bonus. Say ten doubloons. However I suspect that there are things you would much prefer to have rather than a monetary bonus, if I judge your character correctly. So... how would a promotion to captain suit you, as well as a vessel to command?” Lennett offered Mack.

There was a catch, however: the ship was a slave trader. Mack, who once was imprisoned aboard a ship himself, had a deep love for freedom and thought slavery was unjust. Mack turned down Lennett's offer. Though Lennett agreed that slave trade wasn't a pleasant business, it was extremely lucrative, and he was very surprised with Mack's refusal. However, knowing that Stark could be an excellent operative for him in foreign ports, and not wanting to lose such a witty man, he decided to indulge him. He offered him command of the Wicked Wren, which Stark accepted. A few days later, since the Wren needed repairs, Lennett gave Stark funds and allowed him to install two additional twelve-pound cannons because the ship was woefully under-gunned. Two weeks later, with the cargo hold full, the Wren sailed for Enhalas.

Within a few days, Mack had already made progress on getting the Wicked Wren seaworthy. After promoting him to first mate, Mack and Bobby hire a crew. Soon the Wicked Wren had dozens of men working. Later on while at Nalabar, Mack received his crates of food for his crew. After inspecting it, Mack was startled to find that the food was spoiled. Mack then ventured off to find Pryce the port-master and the one who was responsible the food. After harsh questioning by Mack, Pryce replied that it was his slave, Tamba who was at fault. Pryce said that Tamba would get a whipping for it later and sent Mack along with a new supply of food.

Later that night, Mack heard a faint mourning outside his cabin window. To his surprise it was the slave, Tamba, who had escaped his master after a brutal whipping. Mack helped the lad into his cabin and then began dressing his wounds. During the process, the half dead boy fell asleep, exhausted. When he awoke, Mack and Tamba discuss what to do next. 

"Tamba? I'm sorry I couldn't help you, lad, I really am. But there's nothing to be gained by haunting me. Go visit Pryce, perhaps you can frighten him into an apoplexy—which the bastard bloody well deserves.” Mack spoke.

"Cap'n Stark? Please, help! I ain't no ghost, I'm me. I be hanging here, outside the window.” Tamba replied.

Mack knew he couldn't send Tamba back for he knew the boy would be whipped again. Mack decided that he would hide the child while in port, hire him as his cabin boy later and sail away from vile Pryce. Soon, Tamba proved resourceful and became well adapted to life at sea. Mack and Bobby also tried to teach Tamba proper English, which the boy learned extremely well.

The newly christened Captain Mack Stark sailed off from Nalabar to begin his new life commanding the Wicked Wren. In the beginning of the voyage, Mack encountered a heavy storm. Although the weather was dangerous, it was an opportunity for the crew to better themselves as sailors. With Mack at the helm, the ship endured only a few fractures and there was no loss of life.

The rest of the voyage was full of clear skies. In fact, the Wicked Wren almost had beaten the record for the fastest ship across the sea, a feat not so easily done by new captains. Although Mack look forward to celebrating in port, Lennett had other ideas. He requested a meeting with him. Once there, Mack sat down with Lennett and a portly fellow who introduced himself as Viscount Percival. They sat around an elegant table and dined on a feast with food Mack had never encountered before. Afterwards, Mack was told he was brought here not only to sup with the elder Viscount but to also be instructed on his next shipment. Apparently, Percival bought a large spot of land on the sugarcane-filled island of New Avalar. It was Mack's job to carefully deliver building materials that were necessary for Percival's new summer home. Mack happily accepted the offer and readied his ship for another voyage.

While Mack was at sea, Melching showed Lennett strange artifacts he purchased for Lennett’s eye. After inspecting a bracelet, Lennet realized that it was made in Zelzula, a city on the legendary island of Zerma which is said to be shrouded in mist. Melching reported it he bought it off a slave trader who took it off a slave. Lennett then went out of his way to buy the slave for he knew she was a native of Zelzula. After purchasing her, Lennett knew what Mack's next assignment was: to find Zelzula. As the slave girl Aisha works in Lennett’s household, the Wicked Wren returns to Nalabar. Stark is summoned to Beckett's office, where Beckett explains his plan. Mack would pretend to help Aisha escape from slavery, take her onboard the Wicked Wren, and when he verifies that the bearings of the island are correct, he would return to Nalabar and Lennett would send his fleet to conquer Zerma. In exchange for the bearings of Zerma, Lennett agrees to give him thirty percent of the gold that he expected to find on the island.

“You have my every confidence. As you say, the more she believes you're opposing us, the more she'll trust you. And I'm sure you'll return here with the bearings for Zerma. You are planning to return, aren't you, Mack?” Lennett inquired.

"I'll need to return here so we can split up the treasure, Mr. Lennett. I mean... we have a gentleman's agreement.” Mack replied.

However, Aisha, who is not half-witted as everyone believed, forces Mack to help her free another Zelzulan who is imprisoned in Nalabar, a bodyguard named Tarex. The Wren sails from Nalabar, and though Mack wants Aisha to lead him to Zerma, she convinces him to steer his ship to Enhalas, to find her long lost brother. As the Wicked Wren sails near Zerma, Mack decides to free the slaves, leave them on the island, and steal the Wren from Lennett. The Wren arrives to Zerma and the imprisoned slaves are freed, with Tamba also deciding to stay there.

“Thank you, Mr. Stark.” Tambra said, running free.

"You will forever be in my gratitude." Aisha said, handing him a golden ring from Zelzula to remember her by, which is he wearing in the present day

The Wren sails west, but a few days later gets captured by a fleet of ETC ships. One of the ships, the Sentinel, brings Mack back to Nalabar. Mack and Bobby are imprisoned aboard one of the Sentinel’s cabins, while others try to find Zerma. Mack and Bobby have a heartfelt talk while imprisoned for a few days. Days later, the door opens and the two are forced out by marines. Mack sees the Wicked Wren nearby, just off the coast. That’s not good. He comes face to face with Lennett.

“Mack, this letter arrived yesterday, from Lord Percival, my former patron. In it, he chastises me for not delivering his cargo.” Lennett revealed, his voice low and intense. He radiated anger.

“People aren’t cargo, mate.” Mack replied, shaking his head.

Lennett casually slaps him across the face, then goes on as if there was no interruption.

“Everything I’ve worked for here, enduring this hellish climate, getting this coast operating smoothly…everything, all that work…wasted. Gone. My chance at a title. My possible advancement. The regard of my superiority in the ETC hierarchy…gone. All of it, gone. Because of you, Mack Stark.” Lennett ranted. The little man was quivering, he was so furious.

Lennett awaits a reply, but gets none. Mack didn’t think there was anything he could say.

“Oh, and by the way, your cabin was searched, once you were no longer occupying it. Would you like to guess what we found?” Lennett asked, gesturing to Melching.

Mack’s heart sank as Melching carried a sack over, and began emptying it in front of him. All of the Zelzulan treasure was there, well actually, it wasn’t all there upon another look. They’d evidently missed one of the hiding places-the one located in the bulkhead of his cabin. It wasn’t a big hiding spot, so he’d used it to secrete mostly coins and gems.

“My captains have informed me that they have been sailing fruitlessly in circles for days now. Zerma is there, it must be there, but they can’t find it. But you found it. Damn you, Stark!” Lennett ranted, seeing the gold ring, and spitting in his face.

Lennett keeps standing there, and Mack remains silent.

“Mr. Melching, it’s time. First, we warn the world of what Captain Stark truly is. Then we punish him.” Lennett explained.

Quickly, Mack and Bobby’s hands were freed. Two marines held Bobby and the other four clustered around Mack, holding him and ripping his sleeve off. Melching went over to the brazier. Picking up a rag, he grasped the end of the rod, lifting it from the glowing coals. Mack saw that the end of the brand was the letter “P”. Oh no. He could smell his own fear, rank in his nostrils, and for a moment he was afraid he would disgrace himself-plead, or weep, or wet himself. But from somewhere deep within, he found the strength to stand there, silent, although he couldn’t stop trembling. 

“Now everyone will know what you really are, Mack. I’m doing the world a service.” Lennett said.

Melching walks toward Mack, and he could tell that the operative was enjoying every moment. As Melhcing walks past Lennett, the ETC director suddenly reached out and grabbed his black sleeve.

“Let me.” Lennett said, his voice low, and thick. He sounded avid, greedy, and excited. “I want to do it myself.”

Grasping the brand, Lennett approached. The “P” was glowing as yellow as the sun. The marines held Mako’s right arm, keeping it as still as if he were bound in iron chains. Lennett touched the iron to Mack’s forearm. Make smelled burned hair, then skin. He heard the sizzle. He iron pressed harder, sinking into Mack’s arm, hissing like a serpent monster. The pain as so intense that for the first moments, Make couldn’t catch his breath enough to make even a faint sound. Agony erupted up his arm, engulfing it. Mack’s knees sagged, and only the grasp of the marines kept him on his feet. He sucked in air, and screamed. He was now forever marked as a pirate. 

Mack didn’t even notice when Lennett finally pulled the brand away. He was somewhere else, lost in a world of pain, and his only conscious thought was a desire he’d pass out. He didn’t. Melching approaches, and dumped a bucket of seawater over Mack’s arm. He studied the results, then nodded to Lennett.

“A good, clean, job, Mr. Lennett. Nice and deep.” Melching complimented.

The marines finally let Mack go. He slumps to the deck, then sits there, cradling his arm as the all-engulfing pain finally ebbed. His arm still hurt, and the sight of the blackened “P” nearly made Mack sick to his stomach, but the pain receded to a manageable level. He was able to look up to see what had happened to Bobby. His friend hung in the arms of the marines, looking nearly as limp as Mack felt.

“And now, Mack, it’s time for your punishment.” Lennett said, smiling as if he were quite enjoying himself. “I confess that I’m going to miss the old hulk, but really, she’s not worth all that much. It’s not like she’s a new ship. It’s worth losing her to see you suffer, Mack.” 

He looks to Melching. 

“Order them to fire. Use the carcass charges.” Lennett ordered him.

Melching nods, then disappears down the ladder leading to the gun deck. Mack scrambles to his feet.

“What? What’s going on?” Mack asked.

“Oho, so you finally speak. I was beginning to think you lost your tongue, Mack.” Lennett replied mockingly.

Mack looks over to the Wicked Wren.

"She's just a ship. Made of wood, and canvas. You're going to destroy your own property? Just to get back at me?” Mack inquired.

"She's not just a ship to you, Mack. And yes. That's precisely what I am going to do.” Lennett replied coldly.

Mack stares a Lennett, looking at him as if he’s a madman.

“You’re like a child. An overgrown, angry child. Just because you can’t have what you want, you do this. It’s…twisted. Mad.” Mack ranted.

“And what is it that I want, Mack?” Lennett asked, sounding genuinely puzzled, as though he really didn’t know.

“Fear. Love. Respect. None of which you will get from me.” Mack replied, looking at him sternly.

Lennett’s face darkened. His hands tightened into fists. “You-“

Three cannons roared, at nearly the same time. Mack saw the projectiles heading for the Wicked wren, lying innocently, peacefully at anchor. He knew what “carcassed ammunition” was. It was a thin casing surrounding flammable material, designed to start a fire.

Melching ran up the ladder just as two of the projectiles struck their target. The third overshot it. Melching lets out a laugh. 

“She’s got bales of dried straw, soaked in oil, on her weather deck and main deck. She’ll go up like paper.” Melching said, smirking.

“No…” Mack whispered. The explosions echoed inside him, hurting worse than the brand. He knew he had to save it.

He lunges toward Sentinel’s gunwale. Hands grabbed him, but he was a wild thing, fighting as he had never fought in his life, filled with berserker rage, punching, kicking, even biting to get free. Two of the guards were down. Mack slammed his fist into the third guard’s jaw, and then he was free, bolting for the railing. Someone moved to cut him off, Benjamin Lennett himself, yelling, his face distorted with rage. He’d picked up a cutlass and waves it. Mack didn’t even slow down. Knocking the weapon out of his hand, he grabbed the little man by the collar and pitched him headlong one the railing. 

While Lennett was still in midair, Mack leaped to the top of the rail, then dived off, arcing out, heading for the Wicked Wren. The touch of the cold water felt good, though the salt awakened the brand. Mack surfaced with a powerful kick, ignoring the blaze in his arm. Behind him, he could hear Melching yelling orders. Mack began swimming, then a hand grabbed his left shoulder. Mack turned, fist raised, to find Bobby beside him.

“Come on Mack. It can’t be more than a mile to shore. We can make it. I’ll help you if you need it. When we get there, we’ll get the gold, and then we’re free.” Bobby said.

Mack shook his head.

“You go. I’m going after the Wren.” Mack said, determined.

“But Mack, she’s on fire!” Bobby noted.

Mack turned to find it was true. Flames spouted from the weather deck, amidships.

“They used straw. I can push it overboard. I have to try.” Mack replied.

“No! Mack, don’t! You’ll die for nothing.” Bobby insisted.

Mack kicked off his shoes, as they were weighing him down.

“Then I’ll die.” Mack shrugged. “I still have gold aboard. If all else fails, I’ll get that.”

“Mack, please! Please, come with me!” Bobby replied, looking frantic.

“No! Swim, damn you! Get your gold. Buy your farm. Marry that pretty girl. That’s an order, Bobby.” Mack snapped sternly, not wanting Bobby to end up like him.

“No, Mack. I’ll come with-“ Bobby was insisting.

Bobby broke off with a grunt as Mack’s foot kicked him hard in the stomach.

“I don’t have time to argue!” Mack yelled.

Turning away, Mack starts swimming, ignoring the pain in his arm, kicking, stroking hard. He wasn’t far from the ship now. Then he was there, at the ladder, his hands finding the wood rungs. Mack hauled himself up the ladder, clawing his way up. By the time he got to the top, and climbed over the rail, flames had engulfed the foremast, climbing the wood as agilely as any top man. With a gasp that was half sob, Mack turned, heading for his cabin. He was too late to save his ship. But if he was lucky, he might be able to save the gold. And then, by all that was holy, he’d buy a ship. 

As he pelted across the weather deck, he saw it had been stripped of everything of value. The guns were gone. The Wren was nothing but an empty hulk. Mack glanced left, and saw a small figure, swimming, heading for the shore. Bobby had obeyed orders, one last time. He’d escape, if there was any justice in this world. Reaching the door to his cabin, Mack yanked at it, but it was locked. He felt around for the key, but it was gone. Feeling heat across his back and beneath his feet, he saw the fire was roaring like a hungry monster. It already passed the main cargo hatch.

“Damnit!” Mack yelled, throwing himself at the door once, twice, three times.

He kicks it hard, making him yell from the pain in his bruised foot. Then he threw himself against it with all his remaining strength, breaking the lock. Mack scrambled into his cabin and shut the doors. There were so many things he wanted, but had no time to save. Running over to the bulkhead, Mack felt around for the catch that would open the panel he’d had installed by a carpenter. It clicked, then opened. He began pulling things out, throwing them onto his bunk. Two small golden goblets, jewelry, then a handful of coins and loose gems. Frantically, Mack ran his hand around the inside of the hiding place, making sure there was nothing left. Heading over to his sea chest, he tossed out his old clothes, then wrapped the bigger pieces in a couple of ancient shirts. Then he stuffed the coins and jewelry into his best pair of stockings. Slamming it all back into his sea chest, Mack realized he had no way to lock it. Hastily, he grabbed his baldric, discarding his ccutlaso-not without a pang-and he put the heavy leather strap around it, tightening it as much as he could. Mack dashed tears from his eyes, then grabbed the chest, and stood up with it in his arms.

Heading over to the wrecked door, Mack put a hand to touch it, then jumped back. It's hot to the touch. Smoke trickled in beneath the doors. He coughs. Mack retreats, back to the stern windows. Could he get out that way? The windows weren’t very big. Tamba had been a skinny, half-starved kid when he made it through. Mack was a grown man, but if he smashed them out, he thought he could jump. He puts down the chest, running over to grab his sword. He begins smashing out the glass in the windows with the hilt, hammering at it. The ship lurched, and rolled, when suddenly Mack realized the surface of water looked closer. The Wicked Wren was going down. Mack realizes he’s trapped, there was no way out. The ship lurches again, and everything in the cabin starts to slide, first one way, then another. Mack crawls toward the window, dragging the chest. Somehow, he’d force himself through it. As he reaches the window, he realized he’d been incredibly stupid. If he jumped, holding the chest, the gold was heavy enough to carry it and him to the bottom. He’d have to abandon the chest. 

The entire cabin is thick with smoke now. The ship heed and rolled again, knocking Mack to his feet. He slides across the deck. He tries to crawl toward the window, but he is disoriented, his lungs gasping for air. The deck jumped and lurched. Everything slid around again, including Mack. He fetched up against the door and the chest slammed into him. A tongue of flame erupted through the door. The overhead skylight then collapses down on top of him. Mercifully, Mack blacked out for a little while.

When he opened his eyes, he was no longer aboard the blazing ship. Neither dead nor alive, Mack ends up on the path to the Land of the Dead and speaks a magical incantation that summons Davy Jones, the devil of the sea. Mack and Jones make a deal, in exchange for resurrection of the Wicked wren and ten years of captaincy, Mack promises his soul to Jones.

Some time later, Mack is in Latorga, where he just recruited a crew. He leads them to the resurrected Wicked wren, whose hull and sails are now completely black. 

“Mates, I now libate—if there indeed be such a word, which I rather doubt—our lovely angel here. May she watch out for us, keep us safe, and guide us on our journeys!” Mack announced, presenting The Eclipse Pearl before them.

“…And that was the price of freedom.” Mack finished his tale.

Sawyer and Mara are both shocked to hear this. Mack had a heart to free a group of slaves, which put him on his path to piracy? It’s clear Mack doesn’t want to dwell on it anymore, so neither decide to bring it up further. They sit there in silence until Mack breaks the ice.

“Sawyer. Your father is still alive. He’s been alive all along, now a part of Jones’ crew.” Mack revealed, shocking Sawyer.

“How do you know?” Sawyer asked, the only words he could get out.

“I saw him with my own eyes. He is the one who warned me Jones was coming.” Mack revealed.

Now Sawyer is motivated to help them find Jones, but is still hoping Juliet is safe wherever she is. Ava hands Treasure back to Mack, who looks to be in good spirits.

“Thank you for lending me your pet, witty Mack. I sense a bright future for it ahead.” Ava noted.

“Aye.” Mack replied, thinking about the truth he learned behind it.

“And so, set sail you must to find Jones. Farewell for now. Our paths will cross again sooner than you expect.” Ava spoke cryptically to everyone.

Ava waves goodbye to the crew as they head back. The Eclipse Pearl sets off to find The Cursed Bones.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debuts: Ava Dalmas, Bobby Greene, Davos, Pryce, Percival, Tamba, Tarex and Aisha

-Area Debuts: Enhalas Bayous, Ludwigia, Nalabar, Zerma, New Avalar

-Ship Debuts: The Sentinel, Fair Wind

-We learn how Mack became a pirate.

-Ava is the one who gave Mack his compass.

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26. The Notorious Mrs. Stark

The merchant ship Juliet is on keeps sailing for Latorga. She remains at work, trying not to draw suspicion from the others on board. She is repainting a cabin door. Bellamy looks over to inspect her work.

“Nice work, Isaac. Already better than the previous bum’s paint job.” Bellamy said, impressed. Juliet took her father’s name as a cover.

“Always doing my best, captain.” Juliet replied, trying to give her best impression of a gruff, masculine voice.

“Aye, I could fire the rest of my crew and just keep ya! You’ve done better work in only two days!” Bellamy replied, giving off a hearty laugh.

The quartermaster, sailor and cook all overhear this, letting out nervous gulps. Juliet gives a nod, and keeps at her work. Bellamy walks off, and the ship keeps on its course.

The Diamond is nearby, as the merchant vessel approaches comes into its view. Pearson looks out from the ship, seeing the vessel approaching. He approaches Gravel on the captain’s deck.

“We have an incoming ship, fellow lieutenant. Time for inspection.” Pearson reported.

“This late at night, eh? Let’s find out who it is and what cargo they’re carrying.” Gravel replied.

Gravel signals one of his Royal Navy soldiers to make the ship come to a stop. One of the soldiers waves a marked flag from the deck, ordering for the merchant ship to pull over. 

“Attention ship, the Ludwigian Royal Navy and Eastern Trading Company demands you cooperate. Prepare to be boarded.” The soldier yelled to Bellamy.

“Great, now what do they want? I have a tight schedule here!” Bellamy asked, irritated, not in the mood to deal with the Royal Navy.

“Probably best to comply with ‘em boss, you don’t wanna invoke their anger.” The quartermaster suggested.

Bellamy steers his ship toward the Diamond, putting it in a close enough range for it to be boarded. He lowers the plank, allowing the soldiers to cross. Gravel and his team board the ship. Juliet turns around from her work to see their arrival. She drops her brush, freezing for a moment. 

“Oh no…” Juliet said to herself, worried the soldiers will find her.

“What is the meaning of this?” Bellamy asked impatiently to Gravel.

“I am Lieutenant Gravel of the Ludwigian Royal Navy. Your ship is under a mandatory boat inspection, as directed by the Company. This is only to make sure you’re not harboring any fugitives or illegal cargo.” Gravel explained.

“I can assure you I am not, for I am an honest sailor, but be my guest and search.” Bellamy replied, knowing he has nothing to hide.

Gravel gives off a respectful nod, as he and his team begin to search around the ship. Juliet pretends to get back to work painting the cabin door. She hoped to herself that her voyage wouldn’t all be in vain, as she did not want the navy to ruin her progress. Gravel gives an order to his team, ordering half to begin sweeping through the lower deck. He orders the other half to search the top deck and cabins. Gravel then approaches the cabin door Juliet is working on. Juliet keeps minding her own business, and trying not to look at Gravel, since he would recognize and blow her cover. She manages to conceal her face as she keeps painting the cabin. Gravel is impressed by her paintwork.

“May I go in?” Gravel asked her.

Juliet nods, as she opens the doorknob for him. Gravel goes in to search, and finds nothing suspicious. He heads back out, closing the door behind him.

“This door is coming along nicely, good sir.” Gravvel complimented, and then moves on.

Juliet lets out a sigh of relief. The navy soldiers finish their search of the ship, and report back to Bellamy.

“Appears to be all clear. Before we go, I must ask one question: Where is your vessel heading?” Gravel inquired to Bellamy.

“Sabaco.” Bellamy quickly replied.

Bellamy knew he couldn’t say Latorga because the Navy still had no idea of its true location, so he would end up in a heap of trouble if he let it slip. He hated to break his honor, but had no choice.

“You are free to pass. Thank you for your cooperation, sir.” Gravel replied, giving a respectful nod.

Gravel and his team board off of the ship, heading back on board the Diamond. Bellamy lifts up the plank, as his ship heads back on its way. Juliet looks back at the Diamond as it grows smaller in the distance, happy she avoided a close call. 

Gravel is seen back on the Diamond, approaching Pearson.

“That’s another ship cleared in this sector.” Gravel said, writing their findings (or lack thereof) on a form.

Pearson lets out a sigh, not particularly happy at the work they are stuck doing.

“Is this all we’re relegated into doing? It’s a sad turn of fate how we're not getting as much action now with the Company taking charge of this occupation…” Pearson said, bitter and jealous that their services are silently being phased out.

“Times are changing, and we have to adapt to the shifting tides. Our forces are clearly not sufficient enough to deal with the pirates alone, so the Company decided to boldly step in for aid.” Gravel explained. He does miss the smaller, independent army they had for years, but understands the rule of law has priority over his desires.

“I must say, I miss Commodore Tyrell. He knew how to inspire the troops, whom are quite quite lacking in the enthusiasm today.” Pearson reminisced.

“I miss him as well, but his failure to catch Stark could not go without its consequences. Admiral Pellaeon still knows how to inspire his soldiers, at least. Now then, it's getting quite late and I don't see any other ships in our sights. We should report back to Pellaeon now.” Gravel said, as Pearson agrees.

Ever since the Company had taken control of Port Royale, they did not need most of the Navy there anymore. Gravel was sent off back to his mentor Admiral Pellaeon’s fleet, taking Pearson with him. The Diamond begins to sail off, going to regroup with Pellaeon’s fleet.

Elsewhere, The Eclipse Pearl sails through the starry night, which reflects onto the majestic ocean waters beneath them. Mack is resting at the wheel, slouching against a crate with his feet rested on the wheel. He had put the jar of dirt Ava had given him in the cargo hold for safe keeping. Treasure is sleeping right next to him against the crate. Mara is still on the lookout on the end deck, not getting any sleep. Sawyer, not wanting to bunk with the other pirates below, is resting inside the dining room. Mack had no idea where the lighthouse in Ava’s tarot card was, but hoped to find it fast before the Kraken strikes. He used his compass earlier and silently told it his desire to find the current location of Davy Jones’s ship. He doesn’t know if the compass truly put him on the right direction, but he took a leap of faith and hopes for the best.

Suddenly, a small Company boat begins to approach the Eclipse Pearl from the darkness. However, something is peculiar about it: there are no Company soldiers on board anywhere. A lone figure walks out of the ship’s cabin, wearing a black outfit that blends in with the night. They look up at the Eclipse Pearl, impressed by its size and prestige. They then hold out a chain, swinging it around and throwing it at one of the ship’s railings, as it lassos around. They then climb onto the chain, and jump over the railing, landing on deck. They carefully walk around the deck, hoping to not be seen or wake anyone. After looking around to make sure the coast is clear, they carefully tiptoe as quietly as possible toward the cargo hold’s door. They try to open it, but it’s locked.

“Damnit!” The intruder yelled, as they try to look around for another room to break into.

Mara then jumps down from above, landing behind the intruder.

“Don’t move another step.” Mara said in an intermediating voice, pointing her gun at the intruder.

“Blasted…well, ya got me.” The intruder spoke, turning around and revealing themselves to be a woman, with a nasty scar across her left eye.

“Who are you? Answer honestly or I’m firing away.” Mara asked.

“Depends on your definition of honesty, hun. You the captain? It’s a pretty good one, I gotta say.” The intruder replied.

The woman then tries to fight Mara, but she punches her in the face, and is able to grab her. Mara then quickly ties the woman’s hands together with rope and throws her down in front of her, then aims the gun at her.

“To answer your question, no, I’m not the captain. But he won’t be happy to see you, so I suggest answering me now.” Mara threatened, but the woman hesitates.

Sawyer wakes up in the dining room, hearing the voices outside the cabin.

“What’s all that ruckus?” Sawyer asked, heading out, and seeing the scene before him. “What do we have here?”

“Caught her trying to sneak on board.” Mara explained to Sawyer.

“Know her name?” Sawyer asked her.

“That’s what I’m trying to find out. She doesn’t seem to want to give a name though.” Mara replied, pulling back the gun’s trigger.

“Fine, it’s Sheryl. Don’t wear it out.” Sheryl introduced.

Sawyer then looks over to see the Company boat. He unwraps the chain she used to come onboard and throws it into the water.

“Got ourselves a spy, huh? Did Lennett send ya?” Sawyer assumed.

“I don’t know who that is, sorry darling. I roll solo.” The woman replied.

Higgs, Gintell, Pagetti, Merlin and Lotton all come out from the stairs, hearing the commotion. 

“What’s all that racket!? Some of us are trying to sleep down here!” Gintell complained.

Mack overhears the commotion too, waking him up from his peaceful bliss, much to his dismay. Treasure is awoken too, as Mack heads down the steps, with Treasure following him.

“I told you my lack of sleep would pay off. I caught this uninvited snoop trying to steal from you.” Mara said to Mack.

Mack walks forward, and he then freezes in place upon seeing Sheryl. He knows her well, though he wished he hadn’t. Treasure, sensing negative aura from Sheryl, decides to crawl its way into the dining room to hide.

“Is something wrong, sir?” Higgs asked, concerned upon seeing Mack’s expression.

“Well well well, if it ain’t ol’ Macky. Don’t be shy, introduce me to your friends, mate.” Sheryl said smugly.

“…You know this crook?” Mara asked to Mack, baffled.

“I do, unfortunately. Hello…mother.” Mack said bitterly and annoyed, struggling to say the last word. He is not in the mood for another sour note of his past to come up.

The crew all show utterly baffled looks. Sawyer and Mara both look back and forth at Mack and Sheryl, comparing their appearances for family resemblance. 

“…Mom!?” Sawyer and Mara shouted at once, shocked upon realizing the similarities. 

“Yep, in the flesh. Never thought I’d see my son again after so long. We have so much catching up to do, boy.” Sheryl said in a manipulative way.

Mack isn’t falling for this though, as he continues to remain silent, which the other crew members see as very out of character for him.

“Mrs. Stark…what brings you here on this lovely night?” Pagetti asked, trying to woe her, but Gintell tells him to knock it off, dragging him back.

“Your son is the captain of this ship you've intruded upon.” Higgs explained to her.

“My boy followed in his father’s pirate footsteps, eh? Not surprised. At least you nabbed a decent ship.” Sheryl replied. “Now then, back to my question, who are your friends here?”

Mack doesn’t answer, confusing the crew. Higgs decides to take over, seeing Mack’s state.

“Greetings ma’am, I’m Vincent Higgs, the First Mate. Been a close friend of your son for quite a while. What a night, getting to meet the notorious Mrs. Stark in person. Mac’s told me quite a bit about ya.” Higgs said, trying to ease into a less awkward conversation.

“Has he now?” Sheryl asked, giving Mack a smug look.

Higgs starts to wish he hadn’t said anything now realizing he reopened an old wound upon seeing Mack’s anger. He had heard Mack’s stories about his mother, and none sounded pleasant. Long ago, Sheryl had left Mack and his father, Charles, at a very young age. She wanted nothing to do with his father’s pirate life, but she was a notorious thief herself. What attracted Charles to Sheryl had always baffled Mack, but he supposed her hard to get personality and being a lone thief bounced off of his personality well. The moment Mack was born however, Sheryl started to have a change of heart, feeling a kid was “too much” for her. She acted cold towards the young Mack, and eventually left, essentially saying “he’s your problem”. Charles was heartbroken at first, but eventually got over as he ascended to an eventual pirate lord. He still did his best to care for Mack nonetheless, which Mack appreciated as the years went by. Sheryl had been gone from his life for so long that he felt no love or nostalgia towards her, happy to have her behind. But today had decided to forsake him. He cannot catch a break.

Meanwhile, the Diamond regroups with Admiral Pellaeon’s fleet of six ships, stationed nearby off the coast of an island. They head for Pellaeon’s flagship, the HMS Providence. It is roughly the same size as the Crimson Devil, and it is coated with a luxurious seashell white coloring. The two lieutenants are seen aboard, greeting the soldiers, which consist of both the Royal Navy and the Company. Gravel and Pearson walk into Pallaeon’s cabin. Gravel places their report on the desk.

“Here’s our report on all of our recent ship inspections from that sector, sir.” Gravel spoke.

“Thank you, gentlemen.” Pallaeon spoke, standing up from his chair. He had a well-kept gray mustache, and wore a white admiral outfit.

“As you can tell from what’s on there, we have not had much to actually report.” Pearson said regrettably.

“Nonetheless, we’re still committed to inspecting every ship that passes through, sir.” Gravel replied.

“I wish I could give you two more to do, but the Company has most of the bases covered now. You’re still doing a commendable service for all of us by trying to find any stowaways, so do not believe it’s for nothing. I’m sure we’ll have our hands full once Lord Lennett finishes the map, and then those pirates will scramble everywhere.” Pallaeon replied, trying to brighten the mood.

Their spirits are lifted upon hearing that. The admiral always knew how to lift any soldier’s spirits when they felt the chips were down.

“I suppose this is still better than having to deal with that psychopath Valek’s insanity. I may miss Tyrell, but I do not miss that red fool.” Pearson said.

Hearing that name brings a disappointed look to Pellaeon’s face, which Gravel notes.

“It truly is a shame about what happened to Admiral Valek. I had always viewed him as an honorable, dedicated admiral. Never took him as one to become blinded by the obsession of myth. This is why I always ground my strategies in the reality of the situation, regardless of whatever otherworldly hijinks Enhalas may throw at us. Let it be a lesson to you two.” Pellaeon said.

One of the soldiers out on the deck is looking through her telescope to scan the premises for any pirate ships. Through the lens, she sees the Eclipse Pearl, and gasps upon seeing this. She heads for Pellaeon’s cabin, looking through the window to see Gravel and Pearson in there. She fears this might be a bad time, but has to report this. She slowly opens the door, peeking through, as the three men inside look at her.

“Sorry to interrupt your discussion admiral, but I have just made a startling discovery…” The soldier was saying nervously.

“What is it, Maggie?” Pellaeon asked to the soldier.

“Well Mr. Pellaeon, I believe I’ve spotted the Eclipse Pearl. See for yourself…” Maggie reported.

Gravel and Pearson both look at each other, shocked to see Mack again. They had been wondering where he was since he escaped Tyrell’s pursuit months back. They head out of the cabin, and look out from a railing. Maggie hands Pallaeon the telescope, who looks through. He sees the legendary ship’s gloomy black sails waving through the night wind.

“Yep, that’s her. I must say, I did not expect Captain Stark to deliver himself to us in such a manner, but I will take it. Since former Commodore Tyrell failed to apprehend him, we can be the ones to finish what he started.” Pellaeon said determined.

“This could be our big break. Been quite some time since we had a battle. If we succeed, perhaps some of us will see a promotion.” Pearson said opportunistically, wanting to finally move up in the ranks for the position Tyrell left behind.

“How much of the fleet will we deploy, sir?” Gravel asked.

“The Providence will do. Anything more is overkill and alerts their attention. I am happy to have the opportunity to finally meet this legendary Captain Stark up close and in person. Let us see if he proves the stories true.” Pellaeon said, curious to see how this plays out.

Pellaeon gives the order to his crew, readying the Providence for naval combat. Pearson and Gravel are both excited to have action again.

Back at the Pearl, Higgs finishes introducing the rest of the crew to Sheryl. Sheryl was not paying attention though, as used to time to break out of the rope confining her hands, surprising Mara.

“Next time dear, shoot me instead of asking questions, it’ll spare ya a lot of trouble because there’s nothing I can’t escape from. Well, don’t actually shoot me, but if you’re going to, at least do it in a spot where I won’t die.” Sheryl rambled.

“I see where Mack gets his sense of “humor” from…” Sawyer grumbled to Mara.

“And all of his worst traits.” Mara added snidely.

Mack finally speaks up after his period of silence.

“What in the name of hell and beyond do you think you’re doing on my ship!?” Mack asked angrily to Sheryl, startling the crew. Sheryl isn’t surprised by Mack’s anger at all.

“I never saw him this angry at Bedossa…” Pagetti whispered to Gintell, who are both surprised by his outburst.

“I can tell so far she’s one wicked woman.” Gintell whispered back.

“Aww, is that any way to talk to your mother for a reunion? Honestly didn’t even know this thing was yours. Needed some supplies for the boat I stole, so I just picked the closest one I could find, which happened to be yours. What a twist of fate to bring me back to you, my son.” Sheryl explained.

“What are you really doing out here?” Mack asked, not fully buying her story.

“Fine, you got me. I was searching for the Silent Caves around these parts, which are said to contain a priceless treasure. That’s the main reason I was coming through here, running into this ship was a surprise bonus.” Sheryl explained.

“Treasure, you say?” Gintell said, excited.

“Yes, the Silent Caves are over there.” Sheryl said, pointing to a half-submerged cave in the sea, not too far from where the ship is. An old shipwreck is seen on the side of it.

“Why don’t we work together to get that fancy treasure? This could make for some good mother and son bonding.” Higgs suggested, trying to brighten the mood and mend Mack broken bond with Sheryl, though deep within he knows that’s a fool’s errand.

“As I’ve said before, I fly solo. But the chance to explore with my son does sound tempting. Except I plan to take that treasure for myself, sorry mates.” Sheryl replied.

“Always about yourself, I am most ecstatic to see nothing has changed after all these years.” Mack replied snidely to her.

“That hurts, but not really.” Sheryl replied back, uncaring.

“Crew, if you excuse us for a few moments, allow me to speak to my mother…in private.” Mack said.

Higgs could tell Mack was serious. The crew respects his wishes, giving him his privacy as they walk around deck.

“You wicked witch, you do not deserve to carry our family name!” Mack ranted to her.

“That’s okay kid, I haven’t wanted to use the name “Stark” ever since I left you and Charlie.” Sheryl replied, as this memory cuts deep to Mack.

“You would not believe how happy I have been without you. This is my family now.” Mack replied, as Sheryl still doesn’t care.

“Whatever suits you best. I go the past I see best, and you go yours, nothing wrong with that.” Sheryl replied.

“Yes, so I suggest going on your own merry way and let us take that treasure, savvy?” Mack suggested.

“The loot scattered around these seas ain’t exclusive for you pirates, mate.” Sheryl replied smugly, as Mack contemplates throwing her overboard.

While the two argue, the Providence begins to approach the Pearl, as the moonlight shines onto it. Pagetti looks out from the railing, and nearly loses his wooden eye upon seeing the Providence.

“Uh…we have to tell Captain Stark, cause that don’t look good. I’m pretty sure that be a navy ship over yonder.” Pagetti said to Gintell.

“I don’t see anything out there.” Gintell replied, confused, trying to see through the darkness. “You sure your eye is working right?”

He looks at Gintell’s only good eye to be sure. 

“I’m telling ya, I saw it! Look again!” Pagetti replied.

Gintell rolls his eyes, but looks again just in case. He then nearly trips upon seeing the Providence’s bow coming into view.

“You were right for once!?” Gintell replied, shocked.

“CAPTAIN, INCOMING!” The two yelled at once, as everyone overhears them, and Mack looks over, wondering what’s going on.

Mack and the rest goes to the railing they’re at, seeing the Providence.

“That’s an admiral’s ship.” Higgs realized.

On board the Providence, Pellaeon has his soldiers neatly aligned into their positions. He has them divided into separate teams led by Pearson and Gravel respectively.

“Pearson, your team may launch off the first wave.” Pellaeon ordered, as Pearson nods.

He waves his sword to the top deck crew, and they begin letting out an onslaught of cannon fire. The Pearl crew sees them dropping like comets towards them. Mack quickly runs to the wheel, spinning it to turn around. He is too late, as multiple hit the ship’s back, rocking it. Mack knows that will leave marks. In the chaos, Sheryl decides to use this as her chance to escape and grab the Silent Cave’s treasure. She jumps back into the stolen Company boat below, as it takes off. They all look to see Sheryl has already left the boat, ready to claim the treasure.

“She’s gonna beat us to the loot!” Gintell panicked.

“I see where Mack gets his personality from now…” Sawyer said to himself.

“Not on my watch! I’ll get that conniving witch!” Mack ordered.

Mack does not want to deal with both the navy and his mother at the same time, so he decides he’ll go after his mother alone. He trusts the rest of the crew can handle this attack from here.

“Higgs, you’re in charge while I’m out chasing my abusive matriarch.” Mack said.

“Aye, I’ll lead ‘em to victory.” Higgs replied, saluting.

Mack quickly runs to one of the long boats. He hops in, and slashes the rope holding it with his sword. He drops into the water below, as he quickly begins rowing after his mother. Sawyer sees this, and approaches Higgs.

“The heck is he doin’?” Sawyer asked.

“To beat his mother to the treasure, he left me in charge to deal with the Navy.” Higgs explained.

“I would’ve liked to go with him instead of being stuck here.” Sawyer replied.

“I don’t think you would’ve liked being with him.” Mara said confidently.

“…Fair point.” Sawyer replied, as they hear more cannon fire and quickly scatter across the deck.

“Merlin, Lotton, take the beneath cannons! Mara, Sawyer, and the comedy duo, use the ones up on here, I’ll be trying to turn the ship to your advantage.” Higgs ordered everyone, heading for the captain’s deck, as the crew begins heading for their stations. 

“Wait, did he mean us by the last one?” Pagetti asked, confused, as Gintell grabs him.

“I’m not really that good at using these old cannons. You know my expertise is in the field.” Mara protested to Higgs.

“Aye, but this is not a field battle and we’re low on crew, sorry lass. Now grab a cannon.” Higgs replied, as Mara shrugs and goes to one. 

Higgs then reaches the top and takes the wheel, as he begins to turn the Pearl around in an attempt to avoid the cannonballs. Pagetti and Gintell run across the deck for a cannon.

“It’s been far too long sine we’ve seen ship to ship combat!” Pagetti said, giddy at the prospect.

“It’s only been three months-“ Gintell was replying, when Pagetti tackles him, saving him from a cannon blast which strikes through a barrel.

The two look to see the hole through the barrel and the side railing, their eyes going wide.

“You know the Code, you now owe me for one for saving your life!” Pagetti replied.

“That’s not in the Code, you buffoon!” Gintell replied, whacking him on his head.

“It isn’t? Guess the fellows from Bedossa’s crew interpreted it wrong…” Pagetti realized.

“Or they said that to scam ya into doing their work!” Gintell replied, whacking him on the head again.

“Oh…” Pagetti realized, having an epiphany.

They quickly scramble to a nearby cannon, avoiding more fire. The two pick up a cannonball, as Pagetti struggles to hold it, but they are able to load it in. It blasts, heading right for the ship’s mast.

“Turn to starboard!” Pellaeon ordered to Maggie, who nods and spins the wheel, making the Providence turn, cutting off the Pearl and causing the recent shot to miss.

“We almost got it!” Gintell said, annoyed, as they load in another cannonball to try again.

The ships are now in intense combat, firing cannonballs at each other. Pellaeon looks from the Providence’s main deck at the sight, analyzing the situation before him and trying to determine the best way to take down the Pearl. He orders Pearson’s team to halt, as their cannon fire stops. He expects the Pearl will fire back now, which is what he wants.

“They stopped! Let’s blow em to kingdom come!” Pagetti said eagerly, ready to fire again.

“Wait, don’t! That’s what they want!” Higgs yelled, but it’s too late.

With the Pearl’s shots fired off, Pellaeon gives Gravel the signal for his team in the lower deck to fire now. The panels all open up, as the cannons begin firing. Pellaeon then tell Maggie to turn again, who does so, making the Pearl’s shots miss again. The Providence’s recent shots ratter against the Pearl’s belly, shaking the crew on board. Treasure panics inside the dining room. Pellaeon is in perfect sync with his crew.

“The one time we need Mack, and he ain’t here…” Sawyer sighed, holding onto his cannon.

At the Silent Caves, both Mack and Sheryl’s boats have reached the entrance. Sheryl runs through the caverns, with Mack in pursuit after her. He would not let that witch beat him to the treasure. Mack begins to skip through the caves, taking giant leaps. He splashes in several puddles, not minding the dirt that splashes onto him. He sees a large wall in front of him, and Sheryl is climbing her way to the top. He shoots his pistol at the wall, as Sheryl turns to see him.

“Aim for the head next time.” Sheryl taunted, as she makes it to the top and runs off.

Mack immediately climbs up the wall as fast as his arms will allow. He makes it to the top and keeps chasing. He comes to a dividing path, giving him the option of two separate caverns to go down. Mack tries to analyze both, but cannot figure out which appears to be the correct path. He throws pebbles at both paths to hear their echoes, but neither tell him anything. In a leap of faith, Mack decides to try his compass, hoping it guides his way this time. He holds it out, as the needle points toward the west path. He then quickly runs down that way. He feels the cavern getting higher as he walks along. He passes by a rotting skeleton, which he pays no mind. He runs out of an exit, stopping dead in his tracks at a ledge. Several pebbles go flying below. He pokes his head down below to see Sheryl beneath. She goes down a slope, and Mack jumps off the ledge, landing below.

Outside, Higgs keeps doing his best to careen the ship against Pellaeon’s attacks, but notes how well strategized they are. He does not know how much longer he can keep this up, so he hopes Mack gets back soon. The crew keeps firing their cannons, trying to do their best. Merlin and Lotton’s cannonballs from below manage to hit the ship’s hull, but they shake it off. Sawyer barely dodges an incoming cannonball, as he slides across the deck. He misses the three months of bliss he had with Juliet.

“I’m noticing something suspicious: Captain Stark is nowhere to be seen on board. How out of character for him.” Pearson noted, looking through his telescope to see he is not on board.

“Where could he be? He’s not below deck, is he?” Gravel wondered.

Pellaeon then realizes what is happening.

“It is clear he’s not with them, and that this is a distraction while he’s on another task. Stark is somewhere else, but where?” Pellaeon inquired in deep thought.

His soldiers began to look around the dark ocean night. Gravel then spots the Silent Caves, seeing Mack’s longboat and the Company boat Sheryl stole.

“Sir, look at those caves over there. I see one of the Pearl’s longboats, and what appears to be a boat belonging to the Company.” Gravel noted. Pellaeon inspects this scene.

“Likely a stolen one. Stark took the longboat, and I imagine he’s after a treasure in there. Pearson, your team will blast that cave into smithereens. Gravel, have your team keep firing on the ship.” Pellaeon ordered, as the lieutenants understand.

The Providence’s top deck cannons begin opening fire on the nearby caves.

“Mack!” Higgs panicked, as he moves the ship toward the caverns in hopes they can block some of the blasts.

Sawyer fires a shot which damage one of the Providence’s top cannons, and Mara manages to also get a hit in at the ship’s bow. Another cannon blast strikes through the Pearl’s cargo hold.

In the heart of the cave, Sheryl walks through deep water, approaching the treasure chest on an island in the center. She opens it up, seeing several beautiful light blue crystals inside. Sheryl begins taking the crystals out of the chest, putting them into a bag.

“For someone who claims to not be a pirate, you sure have the motivations of one.” Mack said from behind, starting Sheryl.

“I like to call myself a larcenist if I were to use a label. I take what I want.” Sheryl shrugged.

“What a coincidence, so I do!” Mack replied, approaching.

“Finders keepers, mate.” Sheryl replied, as she throws the empty chest aside.

“Give me the treasure. Now.” Mack demanded, pointing his sword towards her.

“Sweetheart, we know you wouldn’t attack your own mother.” Sheryl taunted.

Before either can attack each other, suddenly, they feel the cave trembling. Rocks begin to fall from above, as they run. The cave around them begins to collapse due to the cannon fire. The two immediately start running back, dodging falling rocks. As they get closer to the exit, Mack gets hit by a rock, and he trips. He goes falling over a crumbling ledge and he hangs onto it tight. His hand then slips, when suddenly, it’s grabbed. He looks up to see Sheryl’s hand grabbing him, with a concerned expression on her face. She pulls him onto the ledge. Mack is shocked that she actually saved him.

“Don’t get too excited kid, only giving ya a fair shot to beat me, and it’s no fun with you dead.” Sheryl lied, as she runs off again.

Mack was unsure what to make of her act, was it out of genuine acre? He had no time to dwell on it, as he makes it back to the entrance with Sheryl running toward the stolen Company boat.

“Guess this is goodbye again.” Mack said.

“Yep, sorry kiddo. Maybe in another life we can reunite, but not this one.” Sheryl replied, knowing their relationship is too damaged.

Sheryl gets in the boat with the loot. Mack watches as she sails off, leaving Mack’s life again. This time though, he feels he has more closure with her. However, little did she know Mack had stolen one of her crystals without her noticing when she saved him. He holds it and lets out a smug smile that he managed to one up her. As Mack rows back, he sees the ensuing ship battle. He sees the Pearl struggling, then looks at the crystal, and gets an idea of how to end this.

“There he is.” Pellaeon said, seeing Mack rowing through the telescope.

Several cannons start firing on him, and he rows quickly towards the Pearl. He waves to them, as a cannonball hits the longboat and it begins to sink.

“Mack’s back!” Mara yelled, seeing him.

He jumps off of the longboat just in time, hanging onto the Pearl’s side, as the longboat sinks. He climbs up over a railing.

“Where’s your mom?” Mara asked.

“Sheryl took the treasure and ran, but I managed to sneak this off of her.” Mack said, waving the crystal, as Gintell and Pagetti look in awe at it.

“Think she’ll notice that?” Mara asked.

“Eventually, but not my problem!” Mack replied.

“Can’t believe I’m sayin’ it, but I’m happy to see ya, cause we need your expertise to get us outta here.” Sawyer said, as another cannonball strikes the hull. 

“I did my best Mack, but they’re well trained.” Higgs apologized to him.

“It’s okay, you’re not dead. I’ve got it covered. Turner, man a cannon, and fire when I say.” Mack ordered to Sawyer.

Mack mans another cannon, placing the crystal inside of it. He fires it into the air, as both crews look at it confused. Pagetti and Gintell panic upon realizing the plan.

“Are they low on ammo?” Pearson asked, confused.

“NOW!” Mack ordered.

Sawyer fires the cannon. The ball collides with the crystal, causing it to flash an explosion of light at the Providence. The crew of both ships try to shield their eyes, as Pallaeon is taken aback by this. The light blinds the top deck crew, giving the Pearl crew a window to escape. They adjust the mast and immediately sail off. The Eclipse Pearl safely escapes from the Providence thanks to the distraction. As the light fades, the Providence crew looks to see the Pearl is gone, much to their dismay.

“Sir, they have escaped our proximity.” Maggie regrettably reported to Pellaeon.

“Unfortunate, but we had them on the line. They struggled without Stark at the helm. Interesting how he was willing to sacrifice the treasure.” Pellaeon noted from his unorthodox strategy.

“He’s still got to be one of the best pirates I’ve ever seen.” Gravel admitted again.

“His luck may be nearing its end. They escaped, but now we know of his recent trajectory, and have a new unexplored area for us to chart. This will certainly help Lennett’s map.” Pallaeon said, looking intently.

On the Pearl, the crew looks exhausted from the fight. Mack inspects the damage done, and shrugs.

“This is fixable. If this is the worst that happened without me, you’ll be fine.” Mack said, trying to encourage them.

"Sorry you couldn't work it out with her, I tried my best earlier to set a non-bitter reunion, but that was for nought." Higgs said to Mack.

"I'm at peace now. Onward and forward." Mack replied, as Higgs nods.

“I can’t believe he wasted the treasure like that…” Pagetti sighed.

“He did it to save us!” Gintell replied.

“Another one of your insane ideas came through. So are y’all gonna tell us why you hate yer mama so much, or have you told us enough tales of your wondrous life?” Sawyer asked Mack.

“She is a simple footnote in the long, miraculous and perilous journey of Captain Mack Stark. I have told you all you need to know about me. Onward and forward is what I or someone else says.” Mack replied, not wanting to dwell on his mother any longer.

Sawyer shrugs, but also understands the feeling. His mother died at a young age, and he does not want to dwell not that anymore either.

The Eclipse Pearl continues on its voyage. Mack, while still disliking his mother for how she treated him all those years ago, did appreciate her one act of selflessness by saving him. It wouldn’t change much in the grand scheme, but he could have it in his heart to log that deed of hers. Suddenly, Mack sees a faint light nearby. Could this be the lighthouse they have been looking for? The ship pulls closer, and he holds out his telescope. He sees the lighthouse on a nearby island coast. Mack compares the lighthouse design with the one on Ava’s tarot card. It’s a match.

“Ahoy lads, we have reached our destination.” Mack announced.

The crew looks out to see the lighthouse they have been looking for. 

“Huh, well findin’ that was easier than I expected.” Sawyer said, surprised. 

"That's because it was the easy part." Mack said grimly, as he makes the ship turn, worried for what awaits them around the corner.

At Latorga, the merchant ship makes port. Juliet boards off with the crew. Bellamy starts to set up a shop, praying no pirates attack him. Juliet leaves them, as she immediately begins to search around the area for Sawyer and Mack.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debuts: Sheryl Stark, Admiral Pellaeon, Maggie

-Area Debuts: Silent Caves

-Ship Debuts: HMS Providence

-Pellaeon was mentioned a few times in Season 1.

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27. Davy’s Game

As the Eclipse Pearl turns around the lighthouse, they see a lone ship floating in the water. Its sails are flared, seemingly silent. The crew takes a few moments to absorb the ghostly sight before them. In the glow of an oil lantern, the crew stares at the ship, clearly scared. Sawyer and Mara are surprised. Gintell and Pagetti are completely spooked by it, as they try to hide, hoping it does not spot them. From the water’s reflection, a feint image of the Cursed Bones can be seen, and then disappears. The two look at each other, wondering if they saw the same thing.

“…Is that it?” Merlin asked nervously.

“Doesn’t seem worth all the hype. Another pirate tall tale, it seems.” Mara shrugged, unimpressed by it.

“That's the big, scary Cursed Bones? She ain’t lookin like much.” Sawyer said, also unimpressed.

“Neither do you. Don't underestimate her.” Mack warned.

Higgs looks at him, wondering if he should say something. Mack shrugs. May as well not pull any punches now.

“…That’s because it’s not the Bones. It’s a stranded ship. Must have run afoul of the reef.” Higgs speculated.

“…Oh.” Gintell and Pagetti both said, peeping up in relief.

“Did your crazy friend send us to the wrong spot?” Sawyer asked Mack, annoyed.

“No. Jones will be coming to grab the dead or dying from there. Someone needs to sneak on board that abandoned wreck, so then you can get on board Jones’s ship, yeah?” Mack explained.

“I’ll go.” Sawyer volunteered. He wants to see his father again.

“What's your plan?” Mack asked Sawyer.

“I row on over, get on board the Bones, and search until I find your damn key.” Sawyer explained.

“If there are crewmen?” Mack asked.

“I cut down anyone in my path.” Sawyer replied.

“I like it. Simple and easy to remember.” Mack replied.

“I bring you the key, you give me the compass.” Sawyer demanded.

“Yes. If you do get captured, just say, "Mack Stark sent me to settle his debt." It might save your life.” Mack replied.

“Captain Mack Stark.” Gintell corrected.

Mack silences Gintell with a look. Sawyer shrugs, climbs over the side, and takes a waiting longboat. 

“Douse the lamps.” Mack ordered to Higgs, not wanting Jones to spot them.

Sawyer rows, his back to the scuttled ship. The Eclipse Pearl, falls back, lit by lanterns. One by one, the lamps are doused. The last lamp is held by Mack. He grins, his capped teeth shining, as he turns it down…his smile lingers, then is gone. The Eclipse Pearl, the black ship with black sails is now invisible on this black night. Mack looks over to Treasure in the dining room, cowering in the darkness. He comforts the creature, promising to not let Davy Jones find out about his existence.

Sawyer lights a lantern. The ship is empty, deserted…except for dead bodies strewn about, from the aftermath of a slaughter. The ship rocks as the surf pounds the hull. Sawyer staggers. He hears an odd sound, which is a rope running through a squeaking pulley. Sawyer turns, seeing a frightened sailor pulling on the rope, trying to raise a sail. The sail drops back after each pull.

“Howdy mister-“ Sawyer was greeting.

“Hoist the inner jib. Bring up with a round turn. Captain's orders.” The sailor spoke, almost in a trance.

The sailor repeats his pointless actions, repeating the same squeaking sound, annoying Sawyer.

“If you haven’t noticed partner, there's no use doin’ that. You've run aground-“ Sawyer was saying.

“No...Beneath us…Foul breath…waves took Billy and Clancy…Captain’s orders!” The sailor said almost hypnotized.

He keeps pulling, determined, and the squeak sound happens again. 

“Am I in the nut house?” Sawyer wondered.

A wave hits, and the hull shudders. A body falls down from the rigging, landing hard on deck. Sawyer jumps back, startled. Sawyer frowns and then looks closer to see there are large, round suction marks along the man's back, and when he turns him over, the man's face is gone. Sucked completely off, just like Higgs' story!

“What the hell…” Sawyer muttered under his breath.

The sailor still pulls, continuing the squeak noise. Sawyer backs away. Suddenly, the wind picks up. The sea churns. He looks past the rail. The Cursed Bones appears, rising up out of the sea, formed it out of the waves and water. It rises up, looming huge, blotting out the sky. A ship from hell, made of pallid wood and white bones, covered of the very stuff of the sea: shells, coral, flotsam, seaweed. Sails that glow with the paleness of a bloated dead corpse. A skull rides the bowsprit as if lashed there in punishment. The ship slams down onto the ocean waves, emitting a haunting glow. Treasure crawls out onto the Pearl’s deck, and then stops upon seeing this, shivering. It crawls back to the dining room.

“Now THAT is The Cursed Bones, for real.” Mack announced to his crew.

Mara looks, actually somewhat worried.

“I stand corrected…” Mara said, stepping back.

“Spooked?” Mack asked her.

Mara nods, as Gintell and Pagetti hide again. Higgs looks with a sense of wonder and terror.

On deck, Sawyer stares at the vast ship. He crouches from sight, behind a cannon. Nearby, figures appear, chameleon-like, from the shadows. They are crew members of Davy Jones. Barnacled, encrusted, bloated, something living under their skin. The First Mate, Raccus, has coral for a face. The navigator, Greenbeard, is mostly seaweed. Timmy Legs, the boatswain, is covered with barnacles. Palafico is covered in algae and kelp. They spread out onto the ship. Sawyer breaks cover, making for his boat, but Raccus is suddenly in front of him. 

“Down on your marrow-bones and pray!” Raccus demanded.

Sawyer pulls his sword. He attacks, leaping up into the rigging, but Timmy Legs is already there. He jumps down, and is quickly surrounded by more crewmen. Sawyer cannot evade this enemies, who can seemingly appear anywhere. He dips his sword into a vat of oil, thrusting it into the lantern, and now fighting them off with flames. They cry out as the sword flames sear into their watery flesh. Sawyer spins, to face Kolaniko, a sailor with scales and a square-shaped head. He slams a huge bully into Sawyer's face,

A line of sailors, on their knees, waiting judgment. The helmsman shivers in fear, and the chaplain clutches a talisman around his neck. Sawyer is the final sailor in line. He looks over, to see Davy Jones has appeared on deck. Tall with dark eyes, a black hat shaped to effect devil horns, a claw for an arm and a beard made of octopus tentacles, always curling and moving.

“Six men still alive. The rest have moved on.” Raccus reported to the captain.

Jones' black eyes register this. He moves down the line of men. He looks into their eyes…searching. He then stops at the most terrified man, the Helmsman. He leans down, close. The Helmsman is even more terrified. When Jones speaks, his voice has an echo of distant waves crashing.

“Do ye fear death?” Davy Jones asked quaintly to him.

The helmsman is too terrified to speak. 

“The last glimmer of moonlight that dies in the dawning of your final day. And then: judgment. All your deeds laid bare. Your sins punished. I can offer you…an escape.” Davy Jones continued, offering the Helmsman to join his crew.

The helmsman looks hopeful. The chaplain, still shivering, then calls out.

“Don't listen to him!” the chaplain yelled.

Davy Jones turns. 

“Do ye not fear death?” Davy Jones inquired.

“I'll take my chances, sir.” the chaplain replied.

“Good luck, ‘Mate.” Davy Jones replied, and then signals to Greenbeard, “To the depths.”

Greenbeard grabs the chaplain, and throws him overboard. The helmsman cries out.

“Cruel bastard…” The sailor next to him hissed.

“Life is cruel. Why should the afterlife be any different?” Davy Jones inquired angrily.

Davy Jones leans down close, his beard bristling. 

“You cling to the pain of life, and fear death. I offer you the choice. Join my crew…and postpone judgment. One hundred years before the mast. Will ye serve?” Davy Jones asked the helmsman.

“I will serve.” The helmsman replied.

Davy Jones smiles. He then moves down, approacing Sawyer, and frowns. 

“You are neither dead, nor dying. What is your purpose here?” Davy Jones asked, baffled.

Sawyer regards him. What can he say? 

“Mack Stark sent me to settle his debt.” Sawyer spoke.

Davy Jones is at first surprised, then insulted. He asks the question again. 

“What is your purpose here?” Davy Jones asked.

Sawyer doesn't know what else to say. 

“Mack Stark sent me…to settle his debt.” Sawyer said again.

Jones' skin actually darkens in anger, the way a squid might change color when confronted with an enemy. 

“Did he now? I am sorely tempted to accept that offer.” Davy Jones replied, giving a chuckle.

Behind him, Timmy Legs and Palafico grin. Hidden in darkness, Mack Stark watches the scene through his telescope. Through the telescope, a distant Jones speaks to Sawyer on the deck of the scuttled ship. Jones glances over his shoulder, back toward Mack. It's as if he senses Mack is there. Mack curses, he’s been spotted. He slowly lowers the spyglass…and Davy Jones is right there, on the deck with him. The speed of his arrival is weird and disconcerting, as if it’s from a dream. Mack's eyes go from side to side, then looks below. Crewmen from the Cursed Bones appear on the deck of the Eclipse Pearl: Crash, Denrod, and Quittance. Lines are drawn. Mack's crew and Jones’s men face off, poised for a fight. 

“How’d they get here!?” Pagetti asked terrified.

“What are they?” Mara asked, genuinely frightened by their monstrous appearances, and about to fire her gun.

She had seen many oddities in her time in Enhalas, but nothing like these. Looks like Jones lived up to his terrifying expectations. She’s too taken aback to fight right now.

“That’s what being on his crew will do to ya…warps yer mind and body beyond repair.” Higgs explained to her, as he steps back from the three monstrous mates.

“You have a debt to pay.” Davy Jones spoke to Mack.

Mack glances at his hand: the Black Spot is there on his palm. He is genuinely scared, dealing with a force of nature. 

“You've been captain of the Eclipse Pearl for ten years. That was our agreement.” Davy Jones reminded.

“Technically I was only captain for two years, then I was viciously mutinied upon.” Mack corrected, hoping the technicality can bargain his way out.

“Then you were an awful captain. But a captain nonetheless. Have you not introduced yourself all this time as Captain Mack Stark?” Davy Jones replied.

“Not that I recall, why do you ask? You have my payment. One soul, to serve on your ship. He is already over there.” Mack replied, pointing to Sawyer.

Jones face twists, showing a combination of anger and incredulity. 

“You can't trade. You can't substitute.” Davy Jones spoke.

“There is precedent regarding servitude, according to the code of the Brethren-“ Mack was saying.

“One soul is not the same as another.” Davy Jones replied.

“Ah, so we've established the proposal is sound in principle. Now we're just haggling over price.” Mack replied, still trying to bargain.

“As has been the case before, I am oddly compelled to listen to you.” Davy Jones replied.

“Just how many souls do you think my soul is worth?” Mack asked curiously.

Davy Jones rubs his octopus beard…and smiles. 

“One hundred souls. Three days. If ye fail, I sick my pet on your trail again.” Davy Jones replied, giving him his deadline.

Mack hides his dismay, but decides to play Davy’s game as long as it distracts him long enough so he can find the location for his chest. It would also temporarily relieve him of the Kraken’s hunt, so he’ll take anything right now.

“You're a diamond, mate. Send me back the boy, I'll get started, right off.” Mack replied.

Jones is not inclined to do Mack any favors. 

“I keep the boy. A good faith payment. That leaves you only ninety-nine more to go.” Davy Jones replied

“What? Have you met Sawyer Turner? He's noble and heroic, a terrific soprano…he’s worth at least four.” Mack insisted, trying to twist it.

Jones is unmoved. 

“And…did I mention he's in love?” Mack added.

“Love. You think that matters to me?” Davy Jones scoffed.

“Due to be married. To a lovely young lady. You hate that malarky. Jones shoots Mack a keen look.” Mack explained.

“Stark. Might this be a lady you are interested in for yourself?” Davy Jones asked curiously.

“Not remotely…but I could be if it helps make the deal.” Mack replied, and considers briefly, though he has no romantic interest in Juliet. “Yep.”

“I keep the boy. You owe ninety-nine souls. In three days. But I wonder, Stark…can you live with this? You can condemn an innocent man, a friend, to a lifetime of servitude, in your name, while you roam free.” Davy Jones noted.

“I'm good with it. Shall we seal it in blood? I mean ink?” Mack replied. He knew full well Sawyer was only there to find the key, and he’d make it off the moment that happens.

Jones' face darkens. 

“Let’s not and say we did. Agreed?” Davy Jones postured. 

“Agreed.” Mack replied.

They shake hands. 

“I'd embrace you but I fear it might stick.” Mack said.

Mack lifts his hand to eye-level…and the Black Spot fades. He looks past his hand, to see Jones is gone. Mack looks around the ship, to see Jones’ men are gone. Mara is still trying to process what happened, and realizing she didn’t lift one finger against them.

“That’s interesting…” Merlin said.

“That’s my line.” Mack replied.

Mack moves to the railing. He stares out at the Cursed Bones, as it is already sailing off, into a distant storm. Just as quickly as Sawyer reunited with the crew, he is separated yet again from them. Mack then notes Mara’s shattered expression from her close encounter with Davy Jones.

“Now you see why I was on the run, dear.” Mack said to her.

“Think he’ll be okay there?” Higgs asked Mack.

“I am fully confident in his ability to blend in. Now then, we’ve work of our own to do. Jones has given me a three day reprieve to…find 99 poor souls for him.” Mack said hesitantly, baffling the crew. He originally wanted to say “chest” but had to be mindful with Jones still being nearby.

“Wait…what?” Pagetti and Gintell asked, looking at each other.

“Why do that insanity when we could get his ch..." Mara was trying to remind him of the original plan.

Mack then gives a “shh” gesture, confusing her, as he does not want Jones to hear.

“He’s listening…” Higgs whispered to Mara.

The crew then immediately understands, given how his crew mysteriously teleported onto there. Mack would to pretend to find 99 more souls for Davy Jones to make it look like he was working, but in reality, would be more focused on finding the chest’s location. The Eclipse Pearl sails off into the night. Mack goes to his cabin and begins looking at the maps, trying to figure out what location would be ideal for Jones to stash his heart. He tries to use the compass to point him in the right direction, but no response yet. Mack then reminisces to when he made his deal with Jones 10 years ago…

Following the Wren’s destruction, Mack continues on his enigmatic path, into a void between the sea. He wondered to himself, “Where the devil am I?”. Then, the word “devil” resonated in his mind. Suddenly, he realized where he ended up. He was wherever Davy Jones met up with dead or dying sailors. Any moment now, old squid face himself was bound to appear.  He’d call Mack’s name…and that meant it was all over.

Mack couldn’t accept this, as there were so many things he still had yet to do. Maybe it didn’t have to end this way, though. Maybe he could summon Jones? He’d seen the Pirate Lords do it, after all. There were rumors, whispers that Jones would sometimes negotiate make deals with sailors brave or brazen enough to confront him, then stand up to him. He’d seen Jones before due to his time at Shipwreck Cove and hoped that’d give him some leeway. Mack was desperate enough to try anything. He closed his eyes, recalling the words. He’d have to adapt them a bit. Not for the first time, he wondered what that stuff about “binding the queen in her bones” was all about. Mack clears his throat.

“Davy Jones…I, Mack Stark, kind of a Pirate Lord, call you. I entreat you by your alliance with the Brethren of the Coast. You gave those portals power over the sea, binding the queen in her bones, and I am of their blood. I entreat you. Come to me, Davy Jones. I summon you. Is summon you. I summon you.” Mack chanted, hoping it worked.

He peered into the blankness, but there as nothing there. No monstrous shape. Nothing, but the blankness. Mack thinks to himself he failed.

Mack blinked…and he was there. He’d forgotten how dreadful that grayish-white countenance was. The tentacles stirred, reaching out for him. Jones’s little eyes had a greedy spark as he regarded Mack. Swallowing hard, Mack steadied himself, assuming an air of confidence he didn’t feel. Placing his hands together, he bobbed a bow at the unearthly captain. What title had the Pirate Lords addressed Jones by? “Your Squidliness” probably wouldn’t work.

Jones’s expression changed, his eyes narrowing with suspicion as they peered through the squid-flesh that served him in lieu of his features.

“You are not of the Brethren Court! Who are you, you audacious boy, to summon me thus?” Davy Jones asked angrily.

Mack bobbed another bow.

“I’m Captain Mack Stark…sir.” Mack spoke.

“Ahhhh…I remember you now. Charles’s whelp.” Davy Jones recalled, and Mack nods. 

Jones observes, studying him.

“You are young to be a captain, boy.” Davy Jones noted.

“Thank you, captain Jones. I’m really quite good at it, I assure you. And I’d like to remain a captain.” Mack bargained.

“Why have you summoned me, Stark?” Davy Jones inquired.

Was Mack mistaken, or did h see a tiny flash of what might have been amusement in those beady little eyes?

“Captain Jones, the fact that I’n here, talking to you, means that I’m, er…either dying or dead, correct?” Make asked, marshaling all his considerable negotiating skills.

“Dying, yes.” Davy Jones replied.

“That is just really unfortunate. I’m too young to die. I haven’t accomplished half what I wanted to do. Maybe not even a third.” Mack replied.

“They all say that. Get on with it, boy.” Jones replied, clicking his lobster claw impatiently.

“Well, I’m a capable, experienced mariner. Very good hand. I can do anything aboard as hip. If it floats on the water, and has sails, I can sail it. I suspect I’d be very useful to you, Captain Jones.” Mack said.

Davy Jones eyed him, while Mack held his breath, waiting. He then finally speaks.

“What is it you want? And what have you to trade for it?” Davy Jones asked.

“Well, I have my immortal soul. At least, I’m pretty sure I didn’t misplace it somewhere along the way.” Mack rambled.

Again that glint in the tiny eyes may have indicated Jones’s amusement.

“Go on, Stark. What is it you want?” Jones inquired.

“Well, that will take a little while to enumerate, but I’ve got it all worked out. Do you mind if I sit down? I’ve had rather a rough day, all things considered…”

Without waiting for permission, Mack sat down, cross-legged, on nothing.

“That’s better. Now, as to what I want. First of all, there’s the matter of may ship…” Mack said, smiling, ending his flashback.

The Cursed Bones is at full sail, cutting through the water. Inside the captain’s cabin, a huge pipe organ seems to have grown, coral-like, from the deck. Jones is at the keyboard, playing a haunting, mournful tune. Above the keyboard is a bas relief of a woman surrounded by sea creatures, her features obscured by long flowing hair. Jones is drawn to the bas relief; at the same time, he can hardly bear to look at it. His pain is expressed in the music.

Accompaniment for the crew as it labors. Sawyer works on deck alongside the phantasmagoric crew. Crewmen attempt to hoist a cannon and move it toward the bow. Timmy Legs supervises the effort. He carries a cat o' nine tails lash, and uses it liberally.

"Secure the tail of the mainsail tackle! Mister Turner!” Timmy Legs yelled, barking out orders.

On deck, both Sawyer and Bootstrap Buck turn their heads. Neither notices the other has reacted. 

“Make fast the brace fall! Snap to it!” Timmy Legs ordered to the two.

Both men move toward the line, reaching for it.

“Step aside.” Sawyer said, unaware it’s his father.

"Mind yourself!” Bootstrap replied annoyed.

Bootstrap shoves Sawyer aside. Sawyer stares at him, recognizing it’s his father from his face. He then grabs Bootstrap's shoulder, pulling him around to face him.

“Hey now!” Bootstrap said angrily.

Bootstrap is ready for a fight…and then gets his first look at Sawyer. His eyes widen in recognition…then despair. 

“No. Not you.” Bootstrap replied, trying to suppress the memory.

“Dad, it’s me. I’m gonna save ya from this unholy rodeo.” Sawyer whispered.

Crewmen start to move the hanging cannon. The line is not fast, so it swings away, falling. Sawyer grabs to catch the line, but is dragged across the deck. Sawyer fetches hard into the gunwale; the cannon falls. 

“Haul that weevil to his feet!” Timmy Legs ordered angrily.

The crewmen yank Sawyer up from the deck. 

“Five from the lash'll remind you to stay on ‘em!” Timmy Legs said.

He raises the lash. Bootstrap catches his wrist, trying to save his son. Timmy Legs’ fury expands to include him. 

“Impeding me in my duties! You'll share the punishment!” Timmy Legs said angrily.

“I'll take it all.” Bootstrap said, shocking Sawyer.

“Will ye, now?” Davy Jones asked.

At some point during the ruckus, the organ music had ceased. Now Davy Jones stands on deck, apprising the situation. 

“And what would prompt such act of modest charity?” Davy Jones asked curiously.

Bootstrap does not want to answer, but can't not due to the ship’s influence.

“My son. That's my son.” Bootstrap spoke, looking at Sawyer.

Sawyer twists around to stare at Bootstrap. Davy Jones looks between the two. 

“What fortuitous circumstance be this. You wish to spare your son the Bosun's discipline?” Davy Jones asked.

“Aye.” Bootstrap replied.

Davy Jones considers, nodding. He takes the lash. 

“Five lashes be owed, I believe it is.” Davy Jones said.

Jones hands the lash to Bootstrap. He then indicates Sawyer, who gives a horrified look.

“I won’t-“ Bootstrap was saying.

“The cat's out of the bag, Mr. Turner! Your issue will taste its sting, be it by the Bosun's hand…or your own!” Davy Jones ordered.

Bootstrap considers, glowering.

“Bo’sun.” Davy Jones ordered to Timmy Legs.

Timmy Legs reaches for the lash. Bootstrap pushes him away. He nods to the crewmen holding Sawyer to turn him back around. They pull his shirt off his shoulders, exposing his back. Bootstrap raises the lash. A glance at Jones. The captain's gaze is steady. 

“Son of a bitch…” Sawyer mumbled, ready to embrace the pain.

Bootstrap snaps his arm forward. Jones watches impassively as the snap of the lash is heard again and again. After his punishment is done, Sawyer half-staggers into the hold. Bootstrap follows him, tries to help him to a bench. Hands him his shirt and vest. 

"I don't need yer help.” Sawyer said angrily, feeling betrayed by his father.

“The Bo’sun there prides himself on cleaving flesh from bone with every swing. You may not be walking now if it was him.” Bootstrap explained.

“So what I’m understandin’ from that is, what you did back there was an act of compassion?” Sawyer asked.

Bootstrap stares at him. 

“Yes, it was.” Bootstrap said boldly.

Sawyer accepts it. 

“Then I guess I am my father's son. For the past few months, I had been telling myself that I killed you to save you.

“You killed me?” Bootstrap asked, confused.

“I lifted that infernal curse you were under…knowing it would mean yer death. But, at least, you would no longer suffer the fate that jackass Bedossa dealt you.” Sawyer explained.

Bootstrap nods, understanding the reasoning, but then stops, puzzled by something. 

“…Who is Bedossa?” Bootstrap asked.

Sawyer looks at him baffled, unsure if this is a trick question or if his service here made him lose his memory.

“Captain Bedossa. The man who led the mutiny aboard the Eclipse Pearl? Who left you to rot forever at the bottom of the ocean? That guy.” Sawyer reminded.

“Oh. Of course…” Bootstrap replied, shaking his head. “Those who've done things to you, you tend to forget. It's the things you've done to others…those are the things that hang on.”

Sawyer scowls at him, puzzled, not comprehending.

“It's the gift and the lie given by Jones. You join the crew and think you've cheated the powers…but it's not reprivation you've found. It's oblivion. Losing what you were, bit by bit, 'til you end up…end up like poor Wyvern here.” Bootstrap explained.

Sawyer looks, seeing what looks like a carving of a sailor, nearly indistinguishable from the bleached material of the hull. This is Wyvern, frozen, his body now a part of the ship. Sawyer looks at this creeped out beyond what ordinary words could muster.

“Once you've sworn an oath to the Bones, there's no leaving it. Not till your debt is paid. By then, you're not just on the ship, but of it.” Bootstrap explained. “Why did you do it, Sawyer?” 

Will pulls his gaze away from Wyvern. 

“I ain’t swore no oath.” Sawyer replied.

“Then…you must get away.” Bootstrap replied.

“Not until I find the key.” Sawyer explained.

“What key?” Bootstrap asked, confused.

“The key to the chest of Davy Jones. It's supposed to be on the ship. Mack wanted it…his weird friend told him it’s a way out. And now it’s my ticket outta here, too.” Sawyer explained.

“The Dead Man's Chest!” Wyvern shouted.

Sawyer jumps again. He looks over, to see Wyvern’s pose has changed. He is reaching out, pulling himself away from the ship. 

“You know of it?” Sawyer asked.

Wyvern's eyes blink. 

“Know of what?” Wyvern asked, already losing his memory.

“What we just talked about! The key!” Sawyer replied.

Wyvern's not comprehending. 

“To the chest!” Sawyer added, which triggers something inside Wyvern.

“Open the chest with the key, and stab the heart. Don't stab the heart. The Bones must have a living heart or there is no captain! And if there is no captain, there's no one to have the key!” Wyvern rambled.

“The captain has the key?” Sawyer asked, trying to see if he can figure out exactly where Jones is hiding it on the ship.

Wyvern looks suddenly scared. He's said too much. 

“Where’s the key?” Sawyer asked.

“Hidden.” Wyvern replied.

“Where’s the chest?” Sawyer asked him.

“Hidden.” Wyvern replied.

Sawyer groans in annoyance. So much for getting information out of this monstrosity. Wyvern withdraws back into the ship, resuming his static statue state. Bootstrap turns to Sawyer. 

“I've never seen no key. You can't find what haint here to be found.” Bootstrap said.

“Like I said, I don't need yer help.” Sawyer replied.

Sawyer moves off. Bootstrap follows. Suddenly, Wyvern opens his eyes again.

“Don't stab the heart!” Wyvern said, but nobody is there to hear him.

Sawyer walks around, to hear a slam noise. He looks over to see three cups covering dice are set down on a barrel. Raccus squares off against Kolaniko, and Clacker, a sailor with one eye.

“I wager ten years.” Raccus said.

“I'll match ten years.” Kolaniko replied.

“Agreed.” Clacker replied.

Sawyer watches as the three men (if he can even call them that) lift their cups, check the dice.

There are a total of three fives between them. 

“I bid three sixes.” Kolaniko bid.

“Four threes.” Clacker bid.

“Four fives.” Raccus bid.

“Liar.” Kolaniko called, revealing the dice. “Hah! Only three!”

Raccus curses. He bid too high. They shake their dice again, playing another round. Bootstrap approaches alongside Sawyer.

“Wondering how it's played?” Bootstrap asked him.

“I get it, I think. You can raise the number of dice or number of pips. Only thing I can’t wrap my head around is, what are they wagering?” Sawyer asked him.

“The only thing any of us have: years of service.” Bootstrap replied grimly.

Sawyer nods, thinking. 

“Any member of this motley crew can be challenged?” Sawyer asked.

“Aye, anyone.” Bootstrap replied.

“I challenge Davy Jones.” Sawyer decreed.

All crew members within earshot are shocked. The sound of boots on the deck above. Crewmen part, scared. Jones is there. 

“Accepted.” Davy Jones casually said.

Bootstrap looks at Sawyer, wondering what’s going through his mind. A space is cleared on deck. A barrel is rolled up and crates set down. Sawyer and Davy Jones sit opposite, each with a cup of dice. 

“I wager everything I own.” Sawyer said.

“I only bet for what's dearest to a man's heart. Else there's no way to tell if he's bluffing. What a man is willing to risk, or not risk…that’s a measure of his soul.” Davy Jones spoke.

“I wager a hundred years of service.” Sawyer said.

Bootstrap Buck is shocked. 

“No-“ Bootstrap said.

“Against your freedom?” Davy Jones inquired.

“My father's freedom.” Sawyer said, as this surprises Buck.

“Agreed.” Davy Jones replied, accepting the wager.

He rolls. A look from Sawyer to Bootstrap. Sawyer then rolls. Sawyer's hand includes 3, 6. Jones' hand is 6, 3, 3, 3, 4. 

“Two threes.” Sawyer bid.

“You are a desperate man. What is the cause? It can only be a woman. Three threes.” Davy Jones asked, trying to make dialogue.

“A woman don’t need to cause ya to be desperate…if you choose the right one. Four threes.” Sawyer replied.

Jones is stung by that one. 

“I remember now. You are the one who hopes to get married. But your fate is to be married to this ship.” Davy Jones spoke cryptically.

“I choose my own fate, partner.” Sawyer replied.

“Then it wouldn't be fate, would it? Five threes.” Davy Jones continued.

“Five sixes.” Sawyer bid.

Davy Jones thinks to himself: What? That’s a crazy bid. Jones stares at him, trying to see if he's bluffing. Decides he is not. 

“Liar.” Davy Jones spoke.

Sawyer shows his dice. He has 3, 6, 6, 6, 6. Making exactly 5 total between the two hands. The crew is amazed. 

“Well done, Master Turner.” Davy Jones said, genuinely impressed.

“I'm free, Jones.” Bootstrap said.

Davy Jones starts to get up, when…

“Another game.” Sawyer demanded.

Bootstrap and Jones are amazed. 

“You can't best the devil twice, son.” Davy Jones said, amused by his arrogance.

“Then why are you walking away?” Sawyer asked.

Davy Jones eyes him, then sits.

“The stakes?” Davy Jones asked, genuinely curious what he has left to offer.

“I wager my soul. An eternity of servitude.” Sawyer replied, shocking the crew.

“Against?” Davy Jones asked.

“What was it y’all said about that which is dearest to a man's heart?” Sawyer reminded. “I want your key.”

The crew all gasp, wondering how this newcomer knows of it. Bootstrap looks worried.

“…How do you know of the key?” Davy Jones asked, suspicious.

“Ah, but that ain’t part of the game, now is it?” Sawyer asked.

Jones hesitates. 

“You can still kindly walk away.” Sawyer reminded.

Jones scowls; his octopus beard bristles. He reaches into his shirt, pulls the key out, showing a chain around his neck. Sawyer registers the key and smiles. He keeps it on one of his tentacles.

They slam down their cups, and then a slam comes from another barrel, startling them. They look to see it is Bootstrap Buck.

“What are you doing?” Davy Jones asked him.

“I'm in. Matching his wager, an eternity…in service to you.” Bootstrap said, now entering the game, slamming down a third cup.

“No.” Sawyer said to him, wondering what he’s doing. He had this handled and already secured his freedom.

Bootstrap checks his dice. Bootstrap has 5, 5, 2, 2, 3. Jones has 5, 5, 5, 3, 3. Will has 5, 5, 3, 3, 4. 

“I bid three twos.” Bootstrap said, playing without a thought.

“Don't do this…” Sawyer whispered to him.

“The die's been cast, Sawyer. Your bid, captain.” Bootstrap spoke.

“Four threes.” Davy Jones replied.

Sawyer is reluctant, but checks his dice. 

“Five threes.” Sawyer bid.

“Six threes.” Bootstrap bid.

“Seven fives.” Davy Jones bid

Everyone checks their dice again. There are a total of seven sixes. Sawyer is stuck, he can't go higher. 

“Eight fives.” Sawyer bluffed.

Jones smiles. He knows that Sawyer is lying, analyzing his not very good poker face.

“Welcome to the crew, lad.” Davy Jones said smugly.

Sawyer glowers at Davy Jones.

“Twelve fives.” Bootstrap spoke.

Jones stares at him, livid. 

“Call me liar, or up the bid.” Bootstrap challenged.

"And be called liar myself for my troubles?” Davy Jones replied, scoffing.

He slips the key back inside his shirt as he speaks.

“Bootstrap Buck, you are a liar, and you will spend eternity of service to me on this ship! Master Turner…feel free to go ashore…the very next time we make port!” Davy Jones continued, as he stands up and laughs, then moves off.

Sawyer turns on his father, livid. 

“You fool! Why the hell did you do that?” Sawyer asked him.

“I couldn't let you lose.” Bootstrap explained.

“It was never about winnin’ or losin’.” Sawyer replied.

Sawyer stares at him. Bootstrap figures it out.

“The key…” Bootstrap realized.

Later at night, The Cursed Bones shows empty decks are. A few sleeping sailors sprawled. The moon is not yet risen, creating a white glow above the horizon. Greenbeard stands watch. Bootstrap Buck appears. 

“Captain says I'm to relieve you of the post.” Bootstrap said.

Greenbeard looks at him, skeptical.

“Captain. Says.” Bootstrap reminded sternly.

Greenbeard takes the word of warning, and leaves, not wanting to suffer Jones’ wrath. Bootstrap nods to Sawyer as he breaks cover and heads for the cabin door. The cabin door creaks open. Sawyer slips in, quietly closing the door behind. Only then does he look around, and recoils from the smell. The captain's bunk is empty. Davy Jones is sprawled onto the organ, fallen asleep in the middle of playing. Jones' hand presses down on a single key. As the ship rocks with the ocean swell, his foot presses on a pedal below, and the key plays a single long tone. Sawyer creeps close. The arm is in his way. He gently lifts it. Jones stirs. Sayer quickly presses down on the same key with a finger, so the tone continues to play. Sawyer reaches in repulsed, scoops away the octopus beard…and fishes the chain out. At the end of the chain is the key. 

With his free hand, Sawyer works the key off of the chain. One of Jones' tentacles reaches out and snags the key. He won't let it go. Sawyer engages in a little tug-of-war with the tentacle, then gets an idea. Sawyer holds out a dice he snuck from the liar’s dice game. Guess Mack taking that crystal taught him a few things. He sneaks the die into the grip of the tentacle, as he successfully pulls away the key. The tentacle retreats with the dice, satisfied. Sawyer then quietly makes his way out of there.

A longboat hangs at ready. Bootstrap hands Sawyer his vest and scabbard as a bundle. Sawyer puts them in the boat. Bootstrap pulls a black knife from his belt, extending it. 

“Take this, too. Always meant for you to have it. Get yourself to land, and stay there.” Bootstrap offered.

However, Sawyer does not take the knife. 

"You have to come with me.” Sawyer pressed.

“I'm bound to the ship, but by the captain's leave-“ Bootstrap was explaining.

“Ya can't stay on this death trap.” Sawyer replied.

“It was always in my blood I'd die at sea. That's not a fate I ever wanted for you.” Bootstrap continued.

Sawyer looks away from him. 

“You didn't have to choose it for yourself, neither.” Sawyer replied.

“I can say I did what I had to when I left to go pirating…but it would taste a lie to say it wasn't what I wanted. You owe me nothing, Sawyer. Go.” Bootstrap replied, wanting his son to be safe.

“Those fellows will know you helped me.” Sawyer said, eyeing the sleeping crew.

“What more can they do to me?” Bootstrap asked, having nothing left to fear.

Sawyer regards the knife. 

“I’ll take this. With a promise. I will find a way to stop Jones’ hold on you. I will not rest until this blade pierces his heart. I promise, pa. I will not abandon you.” Sawyer spoke, taking the knife.

They lock eyes. Bootstrap nods. He goes to the rope pulley, drops the boat into the water. 

Bootstrap glances down. He sees Sawyer on the water. A wave passes, and there is nothing but black sea and rolling whitecaps. Bootstrap then gets back to work.

“Part of the ship, part of the crew…” Bootstrap rambled ominously, as he vanishes into the darkness of the ship.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debuts: Davy Jones, Raccus, Greenbeard, Wyvern, Kolaniko, Crash, Denrod, Quittance, Timmy Legs and Clacker

-Ship Debuts: The Cursed Bones

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28. The Kraken Strikes!

The Eclipse Pearl sails toward Latorga, as Mack seeks out “souls” for Jones. In reality, he plans to use this as an opportunity to add more crew members, as you can never go wrong with more, or so Mack hoped. As they sail toward the port, a Company sentry ship is seen off of a coast. Through a spyglass, one of the soldiers spots the Pearl. The soldier then approaches Ivan Melching, who has been searching for Juliet ever since Lennett gave him the mission.

“I’ve spotted Stark’s ship, sir.” The soldier reported, pointing.

“A good work, chap. Curious where they’re heading…” Melching said, taking note of Latorga in the distance.

“Perhaps Miss Rose is with them?” The soldier suggested.

“Possible. I’ll go over there and investigate for myself.” Melching said, as he puts on a disguise outfit, concealing his Company uniform. He puts his handgun right in his pocket.

Melching departs out on a small rowboat, heading for the island. As he gets closer, he tase note of all the pirate ships ported around the isle. He wonders if this spot could be the fabled “Swashbuckler Outpost”, the pirate paradise that the Royal Navy had been unable to deduce. He keeps rowing, hoping to get an answer.

Mack’s crew sets afoot on Latorga. They begin looking around for anyone to join the crew.

“We’re away from Jones now, I don’t think you have to keep up this “act” unless you’re that dedicated.” Mara said to Mack, unsure of his motive.

“I will keep up the act dear, because I’ll use this opportunity to nab a few fresh abled bodies since we’ve been shorthanded on crew since the cannibal isle…” Mack reminded, still deeply mournful of Feech, Jen, Duncan and Shelly, even though the latter three’s fates were unknown.

“Try to keep some optimism captain, three of them might still be alive. Hopefully Boris comes back with them safe and sound someday.” Mara said, still remembering how Boris promised to rescue them if he found them.

“As appreciated as the sentiment be, never get too optimistic in Enhalas, lass.” Higgs reminded to Mara.

Mack then spots Clarence, who has set up shop again at the Latorga market. Mack hurries off to him.

“That damn Company, shutting down my business partners and ports…” Clarence grumbled under his breath.

“It was only a matter of time until they would intervene here.” Casey said.

Mack and his crew approach the stand.

“Ahoy lad and lass! I see you’ve moved back to this dump.” Mack greeted.

“Mack me boy, didn’t expect to see you again so soon. Alas, I’ve had a tough time setting up shop on other islands thanks to these changes, so I’m settlin’ here again. At least I’ll be safe from the Company.” Clarence explained, taking his chances.

“We too have been on the run. Know where I can recruit some fresh scalawags around these parts?” Mack asked him.

“You need more? Don’t you have enough already?” Casey asked him, seeing the crewmates surrounding him.

“As I say, the more the merrier!” Mack replied enthusiastically. 

“Can’t argue with that.” Pagetti said.

“Always the daring captain to get a larger crew, eh? Stark always goes above and beyond! Heard there’s quite a few sailors in the pub looking for work.” Clarence said.

“Thank you, good sir. Now then, off to fetch some souls for Davy Jones!” Mack said.

“Haha, yeah, no problem Mack…wait, what?” Clarence asked, confused upon hearing the last part.

Casey also looks confused. They weren’t sure if Mack was messing with them, and they’re unsure if they want to know. Pagetti, Gintell, Lotton and Merlin decide to shop around the market in the meantime, much to Clarence’s joy.

“You can watch the critter while I employ some handy new workers. If he bites you, I’m not responsible.” Mack said, handing Treasure to Mara.

“Okay then, but I’m pretty sure he’s not a biter.” Mara replied.

Mara and Treasure look at each other awkwardly. She then pets it in hopes that does something. She shrugs and decides to walk around with it, knowing nobody would mess with her anyways. As Mara walks by, one sneaky pirate sees Treasure, still remembering the hunt for it. He tries to sneak up on Mara from behind, but she stabs him in the gut from behind with her sword. He falls to the ground in pain. She whistles and keeps casually walking while holding Treasure. Melching is then seen nearby in his disguise, as he carefully follows Mack and Higgs to the pub.

Inside the pub, Higgs is sitting at a desk, with a roster paper laying on top. A very old man, with shaky hands and cataracts, is at the start of a short line, filled with hopeful sailors and one pirate looking for work.

“Next in line!” Higgs spoke, as the old man walks forward. 

“And what makes ye think you’re worthy to crew on the Eclipse Pearl?” Higgs asked him.

“Truth be told, sir, I’ve never sailed a day in my life. I figure I should get out and see the world, while I'm still young.” The old man replied.

“You’ll do. Next!” Higgs said, as the old man happily signs his name and steps aside.

The next person comes in line, a skinny, drunken sailor who has fallen on hard times.

“My wife left me, and I’m drunk. I don’t give a flying ass if I live or die.” The skinny man said, slurring his words.

“Perfect. Next!” Higgs replied, as the drunken sailor badly signs his name and steps aside.

A crippled man then walks forward.

“I’ve one arm, and a bum leg.” The crippled man said, pointing to their peg-leg and peg-arm.

“Crow's nest for you. Next!” Higgs said, as the crippled man signs his name and happily steps aside.

Another sailor steps forward. Higgs recognizes a flag on his outfit.

“From Ottelia, I see.” Higgs said, looking at the Ottelia flag.

“Aye. Ever since I was a lad, I've dreamed of sailing the seas forever…” The sailor said with a Scottish accent.

“Sooner than you think. Sign the roster.” Higgs replied, as the sailor happily signs and steps aside. 

Lastly, a pirate walks forward, looking nervous.

“I, uh, have never been able to fit into a crew, but I might be of use to you if you let me in. Name’s Skrum.” Skrum introduced.

“Any talents?” Higgs asked.

“I’m really good at playing the mandola.” Skrum said, as he holds it out and strums it.

“You’re hired!” Higgs replied, shaking his hand.

That’s the end of the line. Across the cantina, Mack sits, feet up, compass in hand, drinking and watching the door. Higgs sits opposite. 

“How are we doing?” Mack asked him.

“Counting those five? That gives us five. If all else fails, I’ll write to my brother-in-law. He's a lawyer in Ludwigia, a real good one. Nothing better happen to me.” Higgs replied, somewhat jokingly but also not quite.

“I make no promises.” Mack replied.

“But to be serious, you’d best be coming up with a new plan, Mack, and it better not be relying on that compass. The whole crew knows it’s a roll of the dice if that thing works or not anymore.” Higgs said.

“Even without us exchanging their souls, we still got more crew mates. I’ve already begun mapping possible candidates of where Jones may have hidden the chest, and perhaps I can deduced it without the compass…I hope.” Mack replied, worried.

Higgs moves off. Mack grimaces, glances at the compass, then focuses back on the doorway. Back at the line of sailors, Higgs sits down in front of the next candidate. 

“What’s your story?” Higgs asked.

The man is unshaven, drunk, unkempt, but when he raises his head, his eyes are clear. The man is James Tyrell, now disgraced former commodore of the Ludwigian Royal Navy.

“My story. Same as your story, just one chapter behind. I became obsessed with capturing a notorious pirate…chased him across the seven seas. I lost all perspective. I was consumed. The pursuit cost me my crew, my commission…my life.” Tyrell said.

Tyrell takes Higgs’s bottle. Higgs squints at him, then realizes it’s him. 

“…Commodore?” Higgs asked, surprised at his current state.

“Not anymore. Weren’t you listening!? Nearly had you all near Trifoli. Would have, if not for the infernal storm...My crew said to sail around. Should have listened to them.” Tyrell replied, recalling the fateful Triple Dark storm that ruined his career.

“Dear Neptune. What were you thinking trying to sail through that hell? We were lucky ourselves to even make it out alive!” Higgs asked.

Tyrell's eyes are far off. He snaps out of it. 

“So what is it? Do I make your crew, or not?” Tyrell asked.

He takes a long drink of the bottle. He then leans in toward Higgs, who looks at him weirded out.

“You haven't said where you're going. Someplace nice?” Tyrell asked, as Higgs is still unsure how to respond.

Tyrell flips over the table. The manifest and roster go flying. 

“So am I worthy to serve under Captain Mack Stark…or should I just kill you now?” Tyrell asked.

Tyrell has drawn a pistol from the holster, aiming it across the room, where Mack freezes, caught in the act of sneaking away. He puts a smile on his face, and turns. 

“You're hired.” Mack said.

“Sorry…old habits die and all that.” Tyrell replied.

He starts to fire. The skinny man steps up and grabs Tyrell by the arm. 

“Easy, soldier.” The skinny man said, trying to simmer him down.

“Aye, that's our captain you be threatening-“ the Otellian sailor was saying.

Tyrell turns and swings. A wild shot goes off. The Otellian sailor ducks backward, slips, and falls into a table. Pirates inside the pub overhear this commotion, as they take that as a cue. The classic brawl begins. Angry pirates who want to be on the crew. Drunken pirates looking to have a good time. Tyrell grabs a sword, and gives a good account of himself, fighting them off. Mack and Higgs glance at each other. 

“Time to go.” Mack said.

“Aye.” Higgs replied.

They slip off, toward a back flight of stairs, Mack dancing through the melee unharmed. He stoops over a man who has been knocked out. He tries on his hat, but realizes it’s too small. They exit as a bottle smashes into the wall. A moment, and then Higgs reappears. He waits, then catches the next bottle of rum before it hits. Tyrell cuts and slashes, giving ground to the pillar. He rotates around the pillar, and pirates back away, scared. 

He rotates around the pillar, fighting…and Juliet is revealed on the other side, with a sword. She's the real reason the pirates are afraid. She’s made a terrifying name for herself in her brief time on Latorga thanks Sawyer’s sword training. Back-to-back, Tyrell is attacked, trips, and is pinned by two sailors. A third pulls a knife, but the knife is knocked away by Juliet. Tyrell stands, seeing her for the first time. They stand back to back, to see they are surrounded by assailants. Tyrell is fey, ready to take on the world. 

“Come on then, you buggers, do you want some? Ludwigian steel! You, you, you, you, you, you, you?” Tyrell taunted, ready to fight.

Juliet picks up a half-empty bottle. She then turns and smashes it on Tyrell's head. He drops to the floor out cold.  

“I just wanted the pleasure of doing that myself. Now let's toss this scoundrel out of here, and have a drink!” Juliet said.

The pirates roar their approval. Tyrell is thrown out of the pub, landing a mud pit. The pirates at the exit laugh. He groans. Juliet kneels by his side. She looks at him with pity and embarrassment.

“James Tyrell. What has the world done to you?” Juliet asked, sighing.

“Nothing I didn't deserve.” Tyrell replied miserably.

He tries to get up, but collapses. She helps him stagger to his feet. They move off. The pirates move back into the cantina. Finally, only one person is left from the crowd: Melching, looking after Juliet and Tyrell. Melching stealthily follows the two.

Mack and Higgs hurry along the docks toward the Eclipse Pearl, where crates are piled high. The rest of the crew has regrouped with them.

“Load the cargo! All of it, we sail with the tide!” Higgs ordered to them.

Merlin is on the dock with several of the newly recruited crewmen. They scramble to load cargo. Pagetti and Gintell take note of the new crew members.

“The ship’s gettin’ awfully crowded…” Pagetti noted.

“We gotta have a big crew to live up to our name. Wait…is that who I think it is?” Gintell asked, seeing the disgraced Tyrell.

“I think it is, that’s the commodore!” Pagetti realized.

“He sure has fallen on hard times…” Gintell whispered.

"Can we trust him? He might squeal our location..." Pagetti whispered back, unaware Tyrell can hear them.

“You imbeciles are not very quiet. Unfortunately, I'm no longer employed, but I would gladly alert the navy of this scum hive if I could.” Tyrell said to them from behind, startling the two.

The two flinch and run from him.

“Say, what’s an imbecile?” Pagetti asked, unaware of the word.

Treasure looks at Tyrell from Mara’s arms, and Tyrell looks at it.

“What’s so amusing, creature!?” Tyrell asked to it.

“You’re talking to something that can’t talk back.” Mara noted to him.

“Get back to work!” Higgs said to Tyrell, who sighs and helps carry a crate.

Juliet steps into Mack's path. 

“Captain Stark.” Juliet greeted.

“Come to join my crew, lad? Well enough, welcome aboard. As I say, the more the merrier!” Mack replied, not recognizing her.

“I've come to find the man I love.” Juliet said.

Mack pulls up short, eyes her warily. 

“I'm deeply flattered, son, but my first and only love is the sea.” Juliet replied, rolling her eyes a show he doesn’t recognize her. Maybe her disguise was that good it could even fool Mack Stark?

“Meaning Sawyer Turner, Captain Stark.” Juliet said, revealing herself, as she takes off the hat.

Mack peers at her. 

“…Juliet?” Mack replied, surprised to see her here, and says to Higgs, “Hide the rum.”

“I’ve been looking for you.” Juliet said.

“You know, these clothes do not flatter you at all. It should be a dress, or nothing. Come  aboard. I happen to have no dress in my cabin…” Mack rambled.

“Mack. I know Sawyer set out to find you, and I’m sure he crossed your path at a point. I was trying to find both of you. Where is he?” Juliet pressed.

“Yes, he did find us. You just missed him, I’m afraid. Darling, I am truly unhappy to have to tell you this…” Mack was saying grimly.

Juliet braces herself, terrified at what he’ll reveal.

“…But through an unfortunate and entirely unforeseeable series of circumstances that have nothing whatsoever to do with me…poor Sawyer was shanghaied into Davy Jones' crew.” Mack revealed.

“Davy Jones?” Juliet asked, surprised. She had read about him before, but thought he was nothing more than a boogeyman of Enhalas, and not a real figure.

“Oh, please. The captain of the Cursed Bones. A ship that ferries those who died at sea from this world to the next.” Tyrell explained to her.

Mack then finally recognizes Tyrell, and jumps back.

“Bang on, you look awful. Quite a reunion today! What are you doing here anyways?” Mack asked Tyrell.

"You hired me. I can't help that your standards are lax.” Tyrell replied, shrugging.

“You smell funny.” Mack pointed out, as Tyrell looks angrily.

“It’s been a while since we last met, hi there. Could use some more ladies to talk to.” Mara greeted to Juliet.

“I remember you too, you’re Mack’s assassin friend, yes? Perhaps you could help train me. Sawyer gave me some sword fighting tips, but I’d love more from a full fledged warrior.” Juliet suggested.

“Hmm, sure. I can give you some tips later.” Mara replied.

“How did you even get here, lass?” Higgs asked.

“Snuck aboard a boat. Listen Mack, all I want is to find Sawyer.” Juliet replied, getting to the main reason she’s here.

That's not news to Mack, but the way she phrased it sparks an idea. 

“Are you certain? Is that what you really want…most?” Mack asked cryptically.

Juliet is not certain what he's getting at. 

“Of course.” Juliet replied.

“I'd think you'd want to find a way to save Sawyer…most.” Mack replied.

“And you have a way to do that?” Juliet asked hopefully.

“Well…there is a chest.” Mack was saying.

“Oh dear….” Tyrell replied, sighing.

Juliet reacts to the echo of Lennett's words of “more than one chest of value”, and now recalls seeing a drawing of it in his office.

“A chest of unknown size and origin.” Mack continued.

Gintell, hauling a large barrel with Pagetti, can't help from interjecting.

“What contains the still-beating heart of Davy Jones!” Gintell explained to her.

“Thump thump!” Pagetti said, miming a beating heart. 

Mack glares them away. 

“And whoever possesses that chest possesses the leverage to command Jones do whatever it is he…or she…wants. Including saving our brave Sawyer from his grim fate.” Mack explained.

“You don't actually believe him-“ Tyrell was saying to Juliet.

“How can we find it?” Juliet asked, believing him.

Tyrell closes his eyes in annoyance, not liking where this is going. Juliet had read about Jones’s heart being able to command the sea in her pirate legend research before, so she at least had more than one anecdote to give credence.

“With this.” Mack replied, then displays his compass. “This compass is unique.”

“I assume your definition of unique has the same meaning as ‘broken’?" Tyrell interjected snidely.

Mack gives Tyrell a reprimanding look, then returns to the matter at hand. 

“True enough, this compass does not point North.” Mack noted.

“Where does it point?” Juliet asked curiously.

“It points to the thing you want most in this world.” Mack asked.

Now this she had not read in any material before. She was unsure what to make of this. A magic compass?

“Mack, are you telling the truth?” Juliet asked.

“Every word, luv.” Mack replied.

Juliet looks to Mara and Higgs, who both shrug. She decides that he is, taking the leap of faith. She didn’t particularly want to get wrapped up into pirate shenanigans again, but she has nobody else to turn to. Mack puts the compass in her hands. He hopes this works.

“What you want most in the world is to find the chest of Davy Jones, is it not?” Mack inquired.

“To save Sawyer.” Juliet replied.

"By finding the chest of Davy Jones.” Mack agreed.

He opens the compass and steps back quickly, then leans back in to look at, careful not to touch it or Juliet. The needle swings, then holds steady. Mack grins. Juliet’s heart was of pure selfless desire, making the compass react to her request.

“Mr. Higgs! We have our heading!” Mack yelled.

“Cast off those lines! Weigh anchor and crowd the canvas!” Higgs ordered to the crew.

“I found some more recruits, sir.” The Otellian sailor said, showing two sailor buddies of his, who are eager for work.

“Welcome aboard!” Mack greeted to them, and then asks to Juliet, “Miss Rose, are you ready?”

She steps up the ramp, showing a determined look. She nods, indicating she’s ready to go. Tyrell is handed Skrum’s mandola, and follows. 

“Don’t scratch it.” Skrum said to Tyrell, as he carries the last crate aboard.

Melching had been overhearing them from aside the entire time, and he smiles. He had discovered both the locations of Swashbuckler Outpost and Davy Jones’s chest in one day.

“Lord Lennett will be most pleased to hear this intel…” Melching said, as he heads back to his boat.

 Elsewhere, Sawyer recovers from the cold, covered in a blanket. The merchant ship Juliet was on had rescued him after finding him adrift in the sea. Saywer is holding a warm drink in his hands, given to him by the crew. Bellamy, the bursar and the quartermaster eye him with suspicion. 

"Strange thing, to come upon a longboat so far out in open waters…” Bellamy said curiously.

“Just put as many leagues behind us as ya can, and as fast as ya can.” Sawyer said.

“What are we running from?” Bellamy asked.

Sawyer doesn't answer. His eyes drift over to Juliet’s wedding dress, draped over the captain's desk chair. 

“That dress. Where did y’all get it?” Sawyer asked.

“Funny, that dress. Found aboard the ship. Put quite a stir into the crew, thought it was a spirit, bringing an omen of ill-fate.” Bellamy said.

“That's ridiculous.” Sawyer replied, not believing their stupidity.

“Oh, aye, exceedingly ridiculous! It brought good fortune! The spirit told us, put in at Latorga, and we made a nice bit of profit there…off the books.” Bellamy said shadily.

Sawyer fingers the fabric of the dress, then smiles to himself. 

“I reckon some of your crew might have jumped ship there?” Sawyer asked hopefully.

“Bound to happen, figured into the overhead with such a backstabbin’ place such as that.” Bellamy shrugged.

Sawyer snaps a look at him. A sailor then enters the cabin.

“Captain! A ship's been spotted headin’ for us!” A sailor said, looking nervous.

“Colors?” Bellamy asked.

"She's not flying any, sir.” The sailor reported.

“…Pirates.” Bellamy guessed, annoyed.

“Or worse.” Sawyer speculated. He knew what was coming. Looks like a certain captain figured out his swap. 

On board the Cursed Bones, Davy Jones is angrily holding the dice that Sawyer put into his beard. He realizes he had been duped all along.

“Stark's reprieve has ended.” Davy Jones declared, furious.

He crumples the dice in his fist. Bootstrap, in manacles, is shoved to the rail besides Jones. 

“Your son was fortunate enough to find a ship. Yet not so fortunate as to find land.” Davy Jones said mockingly.

Bootstrap sees that the Cursed Bones is bearing down on the ship.

“Please…Sawyer should not be punished on account of Mack Stark. It's him you want-“ Bootstrap tried to bargain.

“What makes you believe it is your son who is being punished here?” Davy Jones asked smugly.

“No-“ Bootstrap was saying.

Jones grabs Bootstrap by the neck, forcing him around. 

“You will watch this!” Davy Jones demanded.

He nods to a crewman off to the side, who then gives a whip crack. On deck, the crewmen turn the capstan, a central wooden pillar rising slowly upwards. It makes several chilling clicking noises as it raises.

“'Let no joyful voice be heard. Let no man look up at the sky in hope. Let this day be cursed, by we who ready to wake…THE KRAKEN!” Davy Jones chanted, yelling.

“NO!” Bootstrap yelled, panicking, but is restrained.

The crewmen let go. The pillar drops with a deep resounding boom as it strikes the hull, sound echoing out into the water. The beast is summoned.

Sawyer climbs to the highest yardarm, looking out. He sees a ship on the horizon. Below, Bellamy lifts his scope, and through the scope, The Cursed Bones bears down on them. 

“It's the Cursed Bones! I've doomed us all…” Sawyer realized.

Suddenly, the ship lurches to a stop. Sawyer fights to hang on. 

“Mother Cary’s nematodes! What happened?” The bursar asked, confused.

“Must have hit a reef.” The quartermaster theorized.

Captain Bellamy looks over the rail, down at the surface. He has no idea what is happening, but plans to do his best.

“Free the rudder! Hard to port, then starboard, and back again!” Bellamy ordered to them.

The crew repeat the order. A whip-swish of movement occurs behind them. A scared sailor points. The sailors look back to see Bellamy is gone. They all look at each other nervously. They look out over the water, as a Kraken tentacle rises up. Bellamy is caught in it, a tiny figure screaming, then striking down.

“KRAKEN!” The crew yells in fear.

Arms of the huge creature swoop up the starboard side of the ship, clearing men from the deck, smashing the longboats. The Bursar appears, waving Juliet's wedding dress. He hopes this will ward off the legendary beast, wondering if it truly did curse them.

“Here it 'tis! Take it! Take it!” The bursar yelled.

He slips and falls, sliding and tumbling over the rail. The crew grabs axes, spears, and swords from the cargo hold. They hack at the tentacles, to little effect. A sailor is lifted into the sky…and then smashed into a mast. The mast breaks, and falls. Sawyer has to jump across to another sail; he uses the knife Bootstrap gave him, slashing into the sail to ride down. Beneath him, a tentacle curls around the mast. He slashes at it. Then two huge tentacles rise up, and crash down. The ship splits in two. A sailor plummets down into the water between the halves of the ship. Sawyer is thrown into the sea.

Sawyer opens his eyes, seeing below him, in the water, is a vast beast from hell: the Kraken. Its body and tentacles wrapped around the ship's rudder. In the water, Sawyer breaks the surface, grabbing a piece of wood. He looks over, to see one lifeboat has made it into the water, the crew rowing. He calls to them.

“Over here!” Sawyer yelled for rescue.

Suddenly, one of the Kraken tentacles rises into the air…and slaps down on the boat, smashing it. Sawyer looks in genuine terror, then slumps. With a roar, a shadow comes over him.

Later on the Cursed Bones’s command deck, Davy Jones surveys the scene. He curiously notes Juliet’s wedding dress, floating in the water. He then turns toward the deck. A half dozen surviving crew from the merchant ship are lined up, on their knees, including the cook and sailor.

“The boy's not here. He must have been claimed by the sea.” Raccus reported.

“I am the sea.” Davy Jones replied, not believing this.

Bootstrap reacts to the news of Sawyer's fate, devastated. Jones catches him by the neck again.

You need some time alone with your thoughts.” Davy Jones taunted.

He shoves Bootstrap away toward some crewmen, done with him. 

“What of the survivors?” Raccus asked Jones.

“There are no survivors.” Davy Jones responded, giving them a knowing command of what to do next.

The survivors exchange glances, silently saying to themselves, “of course there are”. Jones’s crewmen raise their swords, then bring them down onto the crew, slaughtering them.

Sawyer peers through a space in the rail. He looks away from the sudden, brutal act. Sawyer admittedly felt bad for those poor crew members. Davy Jones then pauses. Something has distracted him, perhaps sensing Sawyer. He moves toward the spot on the rail Sawyer was peering though. He then turns back to his crew.

“The chest is no longer safe. Chart a course to Isla Crucus. Get me there first, or there be the devil to pay.” Davy Jones ordered.

“First?” Kolaniko asked, not comprehending.

“Who sent that thieving charlatan onto my ship? Who told him of the key?  Mack Stark.” Davy Jones explained.

Davy Jones looks down, over the rail, to see Sawyer is not there. He turns away from the rail as the ship comes about. Sawyer is seen clung to the ship’s boney hull. He heard every word.

On board the Eclipse Pearl, it makes way for Isla Crucus. The main deck is crowded with the new recruits hard at work. Tyrell works on his hands and knees, head bare, scrubbing the deck with his wig. Mack's boots appear before him. He taps, then uses his toe to indicate a spot. Tyrell sighs.

“A bit of manual labor is good for you, James. It builds character.” Mack said, leaning down.

Mack grins, and Tyrell suppresses the urge to strangle him right there.

“Reminder mate, I rooted for you over that crass Valek, I’m sure that means something, yeah?” Mack said, trying to butter him up, but Tyrell isn’t amused. 

Juliet furtively crouches under the stairs. She sets down a stolen bottle of ink and a quill pen. She unfolds the Letters of Marque from her pocket, smoothing them out. She then glances around. She dips the pen into the ink, ready to fill in a name. Suddenly, the letters are snatched away. Juliet goes after Mack, who idly examines the letters. 

How dare you!” Juliet yelled, trying to get it back, but Mack avoids her.

“These Letters of Marque are supposed to go to me, are they not?” Mack noted.

Mack glances at the bottom, and pauses, stunned. 

“There's a signature.” Mack said.

“Yes, they are signed. Sir Benjamin Lennett, of the Eastern Trading Company.” Juliet said.

“Sawyer failed to mention these. Now it all makes sense, why Ben wants the compass. Only one reason he would want it…” Mack said, putting the puzzle together.

“He's after the chest.” Mack and Higgs both said at once.

Mack looks to Juliet for confirmation. She is aware of having left that point out. 

“Lennett…may have said something about a chest.” Juliet said shyly.

Not what either man wanted to hear. 

“If the Company controls the chest, they'll control the sea!” Higgs realized, panicking.

“A discomfiting notion.” Mack said, realizing the Company is now a priority threat.

“And bad! Bad for every mother's son what calls himself “pirate!” I think there's a bit more speed to be coaxed out of these sails.” Higgs replied, getting to work so they can get there first.

“May I inquire as to how you came by these?” Mack asked, wondering how she got a hold of them.

“Persuasion.” Juliet replied.

“Friendly?” Mack asked.

“Decidedly not.” Juliet replied smugly.

“Atta girl. Funny thing. Sawyer strikes a deal for these and upholds it with honor. But you're the one standing here with the prize.” Mack noted.

Juliet is a bit taken aback by that. 

“Full pardon…commission as a privateer on behalf of Ludwigia and the Eastern Trading Company…” Mack said.

Tyrell looks up at that, as if he gets an idea. He then continues scrubbing. 

“As if I could be bought, not for this low of a price. Fate worse than death, living a life like that…” Mack said, remembering how his last exploit with the Company ended in him becoming a pirate to begin with.

“Mack. The letters? Give them back.” Juliet demanded.

“Persuade me.” Mack suggested.

“You do know Sawyer taught me how to handle a sword.” Juliet threatened.

“As I said, persuade me.” Mack suggested again.

Mack grins. Juliet stares, considering for moment slapping him or…something…but finally turns and walks away, flushed. But then, a slight smile comes crosses her face. 

“It's a curious thing. There was a time when only Mr. Turner would get that look.” Tyrell noted.

Juliet is shocked out of her reverie. 

“I don't know what you mean.” Juliet questioned.

“I think you do.” Tyrell replied.

Juliet does know, under his gaze, and gives up pretending. 

“Don't be absurd. I trust him, that's all.” Juliet replied, not attracted to him.

“Ah.” Tyrell replied.

He stands up and turns away. He then turns back to her.

“Did you never wonder how your latest fiancee ended up on the Cursed Bones in the first place?” Tyrell asked, trying to turn them against each other.

He leaves her with that. Juliet moves to the railing and opens the compass. It is locked in steady for the direction they are headed. Juliet glances at Mack, then down, and the compass needle starts to quiver and move toward Mack. Juliet snaps closed the compass quickly. She does not know what to make of this, as she's not attracted to Mack int hat way. Perhaps this was a sign of something deeper? Treasure crawls near her, and she gives it a look. Mara approaches her.

“Want to train now?” Mara asked, holding her sword. 

“Of course.” Juliet replied, hoping it gets her mind off of Mack, and the two begin sparring.

The Eclipse Pearl leans over, pushed by strong winds, a bone in her teeth, white foam at the prow, as it makes its way for Isla Crucus.

At Port Royale, Melching reports back to Lennett with his discoveries.

“Excellent work, sir. Latorga’s whereabouts was one of the last keys I needed for the map. No longer will their codename mask it and send troops on an aimless chase. As for Miss Rose, I believe her father deserves to know of her current destination, wouldn’t you agree?” Lennett asked.

Melching nods. In the prison, Rose is seen sitting in Juliet’s cell, where he has been left to rot for the past few days since Lennett apprehended him. Melching then approaches the cell, smiling.

“We have information you may be quite interested in, governor.” Melching said in a taunting tone.

“Regale me with it.” Rose replied sarcastically, not trusting him.

“Best you see the boss himself. He’s requested a meeting.” Melching said, unlocking the cell.

Rose is then put into shackles by two soldiers, and carried off to the office. In the office, the hand of Lennett’s artist is shown working on the map. Lennett stands at the map, using Tyrell's ceremonial sword as a pointer. Rose is escorted in by Melching and the two soldiers.

“There is something to knowing the exact shape of the world, and your place in it. Do you agree?” Lennett asked philosophically to Rose, turning around.

Rose glares back. Raises his arms, shackled in chains. 

“I assure you these are not necessary.” Rose insisted.

“I pray not. I had you brought here because I thought you'd be interested in the whereabouts of your daughter.” Lennett revealed, surprising him.

“You have news of her?” Rose asked, hoping this is not a deception.

Lennett flicks the sword point toward Melching, giving him permission to speak.

“She was most recently in Latorga, or known as “Swashbuckler Outpost” to the pirate kind. Left in the company of the known pirate, Mack Stark, she did…” Melching was saying.

Rose closes his eyes. A name he didn't want to hear. 

“…and other fugitives from justice.” Melching continued.

“Including the former owner of this sword, I believe.” Lennett added.

“Justice? Hardly.” Rose scoffed.

Lennett shoves the sword back into its sheathe, an oddly threatening gesture. 

“Our ships have been dispatched to the hunt, sir, and justice will be dealt by cannonade and cutlass. To all. Unless…it is made known that the pirates have taken a captive, one whose safety eclipses all other concerns.” Lennett bargained.

“What do you want from me?” Rose asked.

“Why, no more than has always been required. Lend your authority as governor, and the respect you command in Ludwigia…in service to the crown.” Lennett bargained.

“To you.” Rose realized.

“To Ludwigia. Shall I remove the shackles? I suspect they are in fact in not necessary.” Lennett replied, smiling.

Rose considers. No choice here.

“Do what you can for my daughter.” Rose accepted.

Melching approaches with the key. Rose's wrists are unshackled with a loud snap. Lennett immediately grips Rose's hand and wrist in a handshake. 

“Do you see, Melching? Each man has a price he will gladly accept…even for goods he hoped never to sell.” Lennett explained.

“Indeed. Shall I take a fleet to invade Latorga?” Melching asked, eager for action.

“Go right ahead, you deserve it. I’ll focus the rest of our efforts are trailing Stark to the chest in the meantime.” Lennett replied, as Melching heads off.

A fleet of ETC ships then sails toward Latorga, finally knowing its location. The pirates and sailors on the island look out at the incoming fleet in shock. Their sacred location was finally discovered. Clarence quickly sails away in a heartbeat upon seeing this. The pirates scramble to grab their weapons, but several incoming cannons shoot at the ships ported around the isle, destroying them. The Company soldiers storm onto the ground, overpowering the pirates and sailors within minutes. They are thrown into shackles or executed on the spot if they attempt to resist. The Company’s flag is then raised above the pub, indicating the island has been taken over. Melching smiles contently, who had oversaw the invasion. The pirates now have another less place to hide, losing their biggest spot yet.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debuts: Skrum

-Death: Captain Bellamy 

-Otellia from Mystic Guardians is mentioned.

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29. Race for the Chest: Part I

At Latorga, the Company and Navy soldiers keep securing the conquered island for any pirate holdouts. Several navy ships arrived to secure the island perimeter, making sure no other pirate vessels try to enter. Soldiers are confiscating items from the illegal marketplace, and shutting down the stands. Murray and Toby are stationed outside the pub, guarding it, as soldiers are ransacking the inside.

“This motley isle was the Swashbucklin’ Outpost, huh? How was it hidden for so long?” Toby asked.

“When there’s no map of this infernal place, it’s easy to hide. And I guess the Navy’s strength alone just ain’t enough. Notice how much more progress we’ve had under the Company’s direction.” Murray replied.

“Ah. I sure hope we get a fine promotion for all of our hard work lately…” Toby hoped.

“Maybe if we’re lucky, we can become a part of the Company. Seems like all the good soldiers are being raffled off to them…” Murray said opportunistically, hoping to join their ranks.

“Are we really good soldiers though?” Toby asked.

“Not particularly, we’re only low level guards which means jack for military recognition. We better start actin’ like good guards if we want to get promoted, cause we haven’t had much to brag about.” Murray replied, thinking back to their work at Port Royale months back.

“That incident at Vandros didn’t do us any favors neither, though that one was kinda your fault.” Toby recalled, which insults Murray.

“…Excuse me, but I believe you’re recalling that event wrong, because if I recall it correctly, it was your fault!” Murray replied, and now Toby is insulted.

The two start to tussle, when an ETC lieutenant passes through the pub entrance, and the two quickly stop.

“Everything okay here, gents?” The lieutenant asked.

“Yes sir, we got everything here under control.” Toby and Murray both replied, and saluted.

Melching keeps surveying the scene, impressed by their results. The ETC lieutenant approaches him.

“Sir, what do you think we shall do about all these pirate ships?” The lieutenant asked, looking at the remaining pirate ships ported at the docks and around the coast.

“Sink ‘em. It’ll send these criminals quite the message, I’d say.” Melching ordered.

The apprehended pirates look up nervously. Melching orders the pirates that they did not execute to watch their ships be sunk right before their very eyes, mirroring how Lennett made Stark watch him sink the Wren. Melching gives the signal, as the soldiers begin opening fire on the pirate ships, sinking them. The apprehended pirates are then forced into a line, as they are walked aboard several prisoner transport ships.

“Know what that is? The sweet smell of justice.” Murray said to Toby, examining the scene from outside the pub.

“Justice smells like rum? Cause that’s what I’m smelling.” Toby replied, smelling the remaining scent of rum scattered about, and he holds his nose.

Another soldier approaches Melching.

“Lord Lennett has dispatched a handful of ships after the Pearl. One of our patrols reported seeing the ship heading through a passageway that leads to Isla Crucus. They should be at the island soon.” The soldier reported to him.

“Jones hid the chest on that forsaken grave, eh? Clever hiding place, I must commend. Keep looking the island for any escapees, I’ll be reporting back to Lennett.” Melching said, as the soldier nods, and Melching heads off.

The Eclipse Pearl is still on its way to Isla Crucus. The newly hired sailors have finished their work. Skrum is sitting on a crate, strumming his mandola, and singing a tune along with the rhythm. This annoys Tyrell, who wishes to be anywhere else, and grumbles to himself as he looks out from a railing at the sea. He misses his life in the Royal Navy, and wishes he could have it all back. He had regretted every passing day giving Stark that lead, realizing now he should’ve hung him on the spot. However, he may have a chance to get it all back with the heart of Davy Jones, if the legend is true. He smiles to himself, seeing an opportunity.

“Should we push him overboard?” Pagetti whispered to Gintell, thinking it’d be funny.

Juliet just finished her sparring match with Mara and is taking a break. Mack, carrying a bottle of rum, approaches Juliet, who is staring out at sea. 

“Juliet, are you well? Everything shipshape and Bristol fashion?” Mack inquired.

She backs away from his breath. Mack is undaunted. 

“My tremendous intuitive sense of the female creature informs me you are troubled. Brig.” Mack noted. 

Juliet sighs. She takes the bottle and drinks. Mack is surprised. 

“I just thought I’d be married by now. I am so ready to be married.” Juliet vented.

“I like marriage! It's like a wager on who will fall out of love first.” Mack added.

Juliet moves away from him. He pursues. 

“You know, I am captain of a ship. I could perform a marriage right here, right on this deck, right now.” Mack joked.

“No thank you.” Juliet replied.

"Why not? Admit it…we are alike, you and I. I and you.” Mack replied, continuing to mess with her.

“Except for, oh, a sense of so much decency and honor, and a moral center. And personal hygiene.” Juliet said.

“Trifles. You will come over to my side, in time. I know.” Mack said.

“You seem quite certain.” Juliet replied.

“One word, luv. Curiosity. You long for freedom. To do what you want because you want it. To act on selfish impulse. You want to see what it’s like. Someday…you won’t be able to resist. You have the pirate blood in you just like your husband soon to be. All that pirate research wasn’t for nothing now was it, savvy?” Mack said, who had seen some of her pirate books in her room in “The High Tower”.

Juliet can’t argue with that, but decides it is time to finally change the subject.

“Why doesn't your compass work?” Juliet asked bluntly.

Mack is caught off-guard. 

“My compass works just fine.” Mack scoffed.

“Because you and I are alike. And there will come a moment where you have the chance to show it…to do the right thing.” Juliet said, trying to analyze him.

“I love those moments! I like to wave as they pass by!” Mack quickly replied.

“You will have a chance to do something brave, and in that moment you will discover something.” Juliet continued, ignoring him.

He spreads his arms, and gives a baffled look.

“What?” Mack asked bluntly, unsure what she’s getting at here.

“That you are a good man deep down. I know it to be true.” Juliet continued, thinking about how he saved Treasure, and looks at the creature taking a nap on a crate nearby.

“All evidence to the contrary.” Mack quickly replied.

“I have faith in you. Do you know why?” Juliet asked.

“Do tell, dear.” Mack replied, genuinely wanting to know.

Juliet looks at him knowingly.

“Curiosity. You’re going to want it. A chance to be admired…and gain the rewards that follow. You won’t be able to resist. You’re going to want to know…what it tastes like.” Juliet explained, savoring every word, also trying to mess with him.

“I want to know what it tastes like, which I’d hope like rum.” Mack replied.

“And since you are a good man, I know you would never put me in a position to compromise my honor.” Juliet replied.

They are very close to each other. Mack looks at his hand for a moment. Suddenly, sees the Black Spot return on his hand. Looks like Jones’s reprieve is over, much to his dismay. He had to make it to his destination quickly. Mack spins away from her, hiding his hand. Juliet nods. 

“I'm proud of you, Mack.” Juliet said, smiling.

He smiles weakly. 

“I appreciate the heartfelt speech, but no, if I can be honest for a moment, I am not attracted to you if that was your endgame. Nothing personal, you look decent, but my heart is to the sea. Though if I was to court any woman, it’d be her. Our secret!” Mack said, pointing to Mara leaning against one of the rails.

It’s unclear if Mara can hear them, but here expression indicates she probably can. Juliet shrugs, as that was not her endgame. She truly wanted to tell Mack she knows he is a good man. However, she also wanted to butter him up so he’d be honest to her for next question. A question she needed answering to see if Mack is the good man she thinks. And if she was wrong, he would be in for hell.

“So how did Sawyer end up on the Cursed Bones?” Juliet asked seriously.

Mack is taken aback again.

“Ahh, I see now. You were trying to fluff me up so I’d reveal a dark truth? I did not force Sawyer aboard if that’s what you’ve thunk. Not even I would condemn someone to such a horrid fate. He went on his lonesome to rescue his beloved father. He could’ve just taken the compass from me and went on his merry way back to Lennett, but did not. I’m sure he’s escaped from Jones by now and has the key, don’t panic.” Mack explained.

She knows that’s in character of Sawyer, so she believes Mack. What Mack said was technically true from a certain point of view. Suddenly, Higgs call down from above.

“Land, ho!” Higgs announced, spotting Isla Crucus.

Mack races to the rail. A fearful look down at the water. In the distance is Isla Crucus. Too far away for his taste. 

“I want my jar.” Mack said, as he heads into the cargo hold to grab the jar of dirt.

Treasure then wakes up, as it senses incoming danger, and looks fearful. On the crow’s nest, the crippled sailor spots two ETC ships and two royal Navy ships closing in on them from both sides. They immediately begin to open fire.

“Enemies inbound!” The crippled sailor yelled.

“We better make quick or those assholes will beat us to the chest!” Skrum panicked, 

“Or worse, sink us.” Merlin said, getting to a cannon.

“What a tragic irony, sinking to my tomb by the hand of my former allies. It’s what I deserve…” Tyrell said miserably to himself.

“Here here.” The skinny sailor said, agreeing with him, as he sounds more drunk than ever before.

Juliet and Mara both overhear his wallowing. They can’t help but feel pity for him. Juliet hopes Tyrell isn’t feeling suicidal.

“I’ve hunted a lot of pathetic people, but that’s a special kind.” Mara said.

“This ain’t lookin’ good. Four ships, and we aren’t exactly loaded with ammo.” Higgs feared, seeing cannonballs coming from all four ways.

“Hold them off as long as you can, I’m getting to that spit of land!” Mack said, heading for the wheel.

The crew runs around the deck, getting to their stations. Tyrell stands there, debating if he should aid the pirates or not. On one hand, he would like to see them all die, but on the other hand, he needs to get that chest. The skinny sailor drunkenly stumbles towards the last open cannon. Tyrell looks to make sure the others aren’t watching. The skinny sailor touches the cannon, but Tyrell punches him in the face. Tyrell then stabs him in the chest, and throws him overboard. Below deck, Lotton, Merlin and the Ottelian sailor see the skinny man’s dead body floating in the water, as they look at each other disturbed.

Mack turns the ship as swiftly as possible, making the crew slide around, much to their annoyance. Treasure is slid around the deck as well, and goes flying against a bunch of barrels. It hides in one of them. With so many cannonballs flying their way, the hull keeps getting struck. Mack is trying to do his best to avoid them. Mara shoots a cannonball straight for a navy’s ship bottom deck, puncturing a hole into it. Water begins to flood into it, sinking the ship.

“Hm, maybe I’m getting the hang of this.” Mara said to herself, impressed her naval combat skills are improving.

Higgs fires a cannonball at an ETC ship, striking its bow, but it counters with a ball that nearly takes his cannon off the deck. Another one then strikes the Pearl’s mast, making it lean slightly. Higgs runs up the steps, approaching Mark.

“Cap, with all due respect, we’re outnumbered here, so unless ye have a checkmate up your sleeve, we may wanna retreat while we’re alive.” Higgs suggested.

“I do, in fact, have one, though not up may sleeve.” Mack realizes, as he pulls the gold ball he purchased from Clarence on Sabaco out of his pocket.

Mack sees two of the ships in very close proximity to each other, and one wrong move could cause a collision. Mack holds up the ball, and its glow shines at the captain of the first ship. They temporarily lose their sight, as they trip down the steps. This causes the ship’s wheel to go spinning, and the ship keeps moving toward the one next to it. 

“What are they doing!?” the captain second ship asked, as they abandon ship.

This causes the two ships to collide into each other, as the soldiers from both jump overboard. Juliet looks at this bizarre sight, unsure what occurred.

“Let me guess, Mack’s doing?” Juliet asked Mara.

Mara looks to see Mack holding the shining gold ball.

“Mack’s doing.” Mara affirmed. 

This leaves one ETC ship left. Before Mack can blind them too, another cannonball strikes at the captain’s deck, making him lose his balance. The gold ball falls out of his hands, rolling into the sea below.

“Curses!” Mack yelled, as they’ll have to brute force their way through this last one.

Treasure pokes its head out of the barrel, seeing the last ship. It decides to help the crew out, as it concentrates on the water beneath the ETC ship. It begins to form a wave, rocking the ship. The tide smashes against the ship’s hull, as the crew slides around and their cannonballs stop firing. 

“Looks like the sea’s turned against ‘em.” Skrum noted, as he stops firing.

Mack wonders what causes this, as he looks below to see Treasure in the barrel, glowing. The heavy tide then carrels the last ship away, and flips it over, as the crew is seen in the water. Mack’s crew cheers for their victory, except for Tyrell, who is disappointed in how the soldiers performed.

“Embarrassments. If I was in charge, I would’ve led them to victory…” Tyrell muttered.

Mack gives Treasure a pet and feeds it an orange for its work.

“Let’s not celebrate yet, there’s likely more lurking about.” Higgs said skeptically, searching the horizon.

The Eclipse Pearl sails out of the wreckage, heading for its destination ahead.

Isla Crucus is shown. It is a tiny, lush green island amidst a sapphire blue sea. Dominating the island’s bluff is an abandoned church. The Eclipse Pearl is anchored past the outer reef, where the rest of the crew is on board to watch for any other ships. Mack rides in a longboat, utterly terrified, clutching his jar of dirt. Opposite are Juliet and Tyrell, not thrilled about this either. Gintell and Pagetti pull the oars, trying to stay in sync. 

“You're pulling too fast!” Gintell complained to Pagetti.

“You're pulling too slow! We don't want the Kraken to catch us.” Pagetti replied.

Mack winces with each mention of the creature. 

“I'm saving me strength for when it comes! And I don't think it's "krack- en," anyways. I always heard it said “kray-ken”.” Gintell noted.

“What, with a long "a"? "Krock-en"'s how it is in the original scribe, and "Krack-en's" closer to that.” Pagetti replied.

“Well, we ain't the original writers, are we? Kray-ken.” Gintell retorted smugly.

“It's a mythical creature and I can calls it what I wants.” Pagetti retorted.

“If it's so mythical, then why are you pulling so fast?” Gintell asked.

There is a splash in the distance. Both men turn to look, and gulp. They start rowing much more quickly and in sync. 

The crew reaches the beach. Mack sets his jar into the boat. He takes off his jacket, grabs a shovel, and puts it over his shoulder. 

“Guard the boat. Mind the tide.” Mack ordered to Gintell and Pagetti, then moves off.

“And you were wrong about to-mah-to, if I recall.” Pagetti said to Gintell, continuing their argument from earlier.

“I like tomatoes.” Gintell replied wistfully. 

Mack hands Juliet the compass. She opens it. He peeks at the heading, and sets off. Juliet and Tyrell follow. Mack spots the abandoned church. 

“I didn't expect anyone to be here.” Tyrell said.

“There's not.” Juliet replied grimly.

“You know of this place?” Tyrell asked her.

“From stories, yes. Isla Crucus. A church came to the island, and brought salvation…and disease, and death. They say the priest had to bury every body, one after the other. It drove him mad, and he hung himself.” Juliet explained, recalling the story from her research.

“Better mad with the rest of the world than sane alone…” Tyrell said to himself bitterly.

Juliet regards Tyrell, even more worried about his mental state.

“No fraternizing with the help, love.” Mack said to Juliet, who starts walking.

“Oh, after you sir.” Tyrell said, faking an enthusiastic tone to Mack.

Mack hands Tyrell his shovel. Then follows Juliet. Tyrell brings up the rear. Mack waits impatiently. Juliet passes him, following the compass. Suddenly, the needle swings around the opposite direction. She turns, and is facing Mack. The needle swings away. She turns to follow and it swings back, again toward Mack. Frustrated, she sits down in the sand, and tosses the compass away. 

“It doesn't work! It doesn't show you what you want most. How you even got this to work in the first place is a mystery.” Juliet complained.

Mack looks at the compass without touching it. He then has a realization.

“Yes it does. You're sitting on it.” Mack deduced.

“…Beg pardon?” Juliet asked, confused.

“Move.” Mack ordered.

Mack unceremoniously shoves Juliet aside. He makes an "X" in the sand with his toe. He then looks at Tyrell expectantly, giving him a gesture. Tyrell gets the hint, and starts digging at the spot.

At an outer reef, The Cursed Bones comes around the point, approaching Isla Crucus. On board the command deck, Davy Jones peers through his spyglass. Through the glass, his eyes spot Gintell and Pagetti, by the longboat. For unknown reasons, Pagetti tries to balance an oar on his nose. 

“They're here. And I cannot step foot on land again for near of a decade…” Davy Jones said, irritated by the curse that limits him.

“Ye'll trust us to act in yer stead.” Raccus said.

“I trust you to know what awaits should you fail. Down, then.” Davy Jones ordered.

Crew members repeat the call "Down! Down!”. Jones looks ahead as the ship’s bow submerges. Sawyer is still hanging onto the ship’s outside bone cage. He then sees the ship is descending, and sees Isla Crucus nearby. He jumps off and dives in. The water slams past the ship, bubbling and foaming. Within seconds, the Cursed Bones dives underwater, and instead of open horizon, there is crystal clear seawater ahead of it. A boiling sea is all that's left from the Cursed Bones’ trail, as Sawyer swims his way to shore. On the beach, the astonished faces of Gintell and Pagetti are staring out at the water. They turn to each other, fear and disbelief writ large on their faces. They look back out to sea. They back up, turn, and race up the beach to warn the others, leaving the longboat behind.

Tyrell keeps digging at the chest spot. His shovel then hits something, as he stops digging. Mack and Tyrell lift out the chest. Mack uses his shovel to break the lock. He sinks to his knees. He then lifts up the lid to see inside: a long white dress, a lovely conch shell, dried flowers, a strand of white pearls, lace, and love letters. All mementos of a love gone bad, Mack could tell from what Ava Dalmas told him of Jones’s history. Mack digs through, pushing stuff aside to find the disgusting treasure awaiting at the bottom of the chest. Then, he finally comes to it. He lifts out a small iron chest. It is less than two feet long, and a little more than a foot high. Bound solidly in iron, it looks impregnable. The lock on the front is disproportionately large. Decorated with inlaid pearl, in the design of a heart, but opening up to a crab.

“Hiding his chest in a chest, clever if I do say so myself.” Mack said.

Mack, Juliet, and Tyrell listen as close as they can to the iron chest. Then, a single, deep, heart beat is heard inside.

“…It’s real.” Juliet realized.

“You actually were telling the truth.” Tyrell said, looking at Mack surprised.

“I do that a lot, and yet people are still surprised.” Mack said, wishing they had more faith in his insight.

“Can't blame 'em." Sawyer spoke, surprising them.

Juliet looks over. Sawyer is there, dripping wet, still breathing hard. She races toward him. 

“Sawyer, you’re alive! Thank goodness. I came looking for you-“ Juliet was saying.

“I'm fine, I'm fine, I know. I like yer hair.” Sawyer replied.

Mack scans the seas, worried. The Bones must not be far from here…

“How did you get here?” Mack asked.

“Sea turtles, mate. A pair of them, strapped to my feet.” Sawyer replied cleverly.

“Not so easy, is it?” Mack said, trying to make small talk.

“I owe ya thanks, Mack.” Sawyer said.

“You do?” Mack asked, not sure what he means.

“Even though you planned to dump me off to Jones as debt payment, you reunited me with my dad, and lead me to the chest and Juliet, so I ain’t too angry.” Sawyer said.

“What!?” Juliet yelled, looking at Mack. Had he lied to her after all?

“Except that is not truthful at all, you volunteered to the Bones on your own, yeah? Anyone else could’ve done it, but you took bold action, which I do admire your bravery, by the way.” Mack reminded.

“Only after you told me my dad was there, thus, giving me incentive to do your errand, yeah? And by the way, I reckon that sob story you told me was to get my guard down and to sympathize with ya.” Sawyer replied back, thinking Mack was manipulating him.

Juliet isn’t sure who to believe now. 

“Believe what you shall, but regardless, the path lead us all here, to the chest.” Mack said, then realizes why Sawyer was there in the first place. “…You did get the key, right?”

Sawyer kneels at the chest. The key is in his hand, and his father's knife in the other. 

“Whatever, I’ll be the one that kills Jones.” Sawyer decreed.

This was not a part of their deal. He had to be the one to do it to save Treasure, and he clearly couldn’t change Sawyer’s mind with words. There is the sound of a sword being drawn, and then Mack’s blade is pointed at Sawyer from behind.

“I can't let you do that, Sawyer. If Jones is dead, then who's to call his beastie off the hunt? Now, if you please…the key.” Mack demanded.

Sawyer slaps Mack's sword away, and jumps back. Another sound as he draws Juliet's sword, ready to face off against Mack. 

“It’s treason, then. Shame, we had a good partnership going.” Mack said, genuinely not wanting to duel him, but having no choice here.

“Sorry partner, but I ain’t breaking promises I make, especially to family. I intend to free my dad. I hope you're here to see it.” Sawyer said.

There is the another sound of a sword. Tyrell has drawn his sword, facing Sawyer.

“I can't let you do that, either. Sorry.” Tyrell threatened to Sawyer.

“I knew you'd warm up to me eventually!” Mack said eagerly, when the point of Tyrell's sword moves to Mack. “Oh…”

"Lord Lennett desires the contents of that chest. If deliver it, I get my life and prestige back.” Tyrell declared, wanting out of his slump.

"Ah. The dark side of ambition.” Mack noted.

“I prefer to think of it as the promise of redemption.” Tyrell corrected.

The three men square off against each other. They leap forward at exactly the same time, swords clashing. Their three swords lock together.

“Sawyer, we can't let him get the chest. You can trust me on this…or rather, you can mistrust me less than you can mistrust him.” Mack bargained to Sawyer.

Sawyer really takes a look at Tyrell’s current state for the first time. 

“You look awful.” Sawyer noted.

“Granted. But you're still naive, so it seems not all changes.” Tyrell mocked.

“Pot. Kettle. Black.” Mack mouthed off.

“Glad to see you again too, partner.” Sawyer retorted sarcastically, starting to realize now why he didn’t miss Tyrell.

They leap back and the fight is on. Sawyer is pushed aside for a moment, having an opportune moment to see Juliet for a brief time.

“Guard the chest.” Sawyer said to her.

He moves back to the fight. Juliet glares at him.

“No! This is barbaric. This is not how grown men settle their…oh, fine! Let's all haul out our swords and start slashing away at each other! Have at it, that will solve everything! Well I've had it with the lot of you! I've had enough of rum soaked, wobbly-legged, pirates!” Juliet ranted, letting it all out.

Juliet moves past. Behind her, Pagetti has been looking on. Gintell arrives next to him. 

“Now how'd this a-go all screwy?” Gintell wondered.

“Each wants the chest for hisself. Mister Tyrell I think is hopin' to regain a bit of honor, ol' Mack's looking to trade it to save his own skin, and Turner there…he’s tryin' to settle some unresolved business 'twixt him and his twice-cursed pirate father.” Pagetti explained, as Gintell is once again surprised by his intelligence here.

"Sad. That chest must be worth more'n a shiny penny.” Gintell lamented.

“Terrible temptation.” Pagetti agreed.

“If we was any kind of decent, we'd remove temptation from their path.” Gintell suggested, pondering.

A beat. They look sideways at each other, then look at the chest. The fight rages. Juliet tries to intercede, to no avail. 

“I swear! This is madness! This is-“ Juliet was yelling, then gets an idea.

She swoons, faints, and lies still on the open sand. She opens one eye to see if any of them bought it. None of them even noticed. Then she sees Gintell and Pagetti racing for the jungle, chest between them. Juliet is briefly torn, but then gives chase. 

Tyrell shoves Sawyer back. Mack times his slash to cut away the key. It flashes up in the air and Mack catches it.

“Hah-hah!” Mack mocked victoriously.

Mack races away. Tyrell trips Sawyer, then kicks his sword away, and kicks sand in his face.

“By your leave, Mister Turner.” Tyrell said smugly.

Tyrell runs past Sawyer, in pursuit of Mack. Sawyer looks up, irritated. Of the many obstacles in his path, he definitely hated Tyrell the most at this current moment.

Nearby, ominous movement is seen in the water. Monstrous heads emerge, rising up from the sea. The crewmen from the Cursed Bones eerily walk onto shore.

Key in hand, Mack climbs up the run-down church. Tyrell gives chase after him. Mack enters the bell tower, climbs. Tyrell catches up to him on the stairs. They cross swords. Dangling at the end of a rope in the center of the tower is the skeleton of the hanging priest.

Sawyer arrives at the run-down church, looking up along the ropes of the tower to see the fight. Tyrell slams Mack with the hilt of his sword, and takes the key from Mack. The impact flings Mack off of the stairs. Mack manages to grab the rope holding the hanging priest, and they drop. Sawyer grabs a second rope and shoots up past Mack on his way down. Tyrell holds the key triumphantly. Sawyer plucks it away as he passes. 

“By your leave, Mister Tyrell.” Sawyer mocked in an echo.

Tyrell looks furious, wanting him dead. Sawyer reaches the top, as the tower’s bell rings. 

Jones’s crewmen are gathered at the dug hole in the ground. The ring of the bell draws their attention toward the church in the distance.

Sawyer steps onto the rooftop, as Tyrell appears behind him, slashing his sword. Sawyer umps across just in time. Tyrell follows; the two men fight across the void created by a broken wall. Mack exits the tower below the two, examine the duel above. He slips along a lower roof. Tyrell uses the tip of his sword to take the key away from Sawyer…but then Mack manages to grab it out of Tyrell's hand. Quickly, Tyrell engages Mack with his blade, knocking the sword out of Mack's hand.

“Excuse me while I kill the man who ruined my life.” Tyrell politely asked to Sawyer.

"Be my guest.” Sawyer shrugged, and relaxes to watch.

Tyrell turns to Mack.

“Let’s examine that claim for a moment, shall we, former Commodore? Who was the man who, at the moment you had a notorious pirate safely ready for the noose, saw fit to free said pirate and? I was nothing more than an almost innocent bystander to the aforementioned events...so whose fault is it really that you ended up as a rum-pot deck hand who takes orders from pirates?” Mack inquired, trying to get him to take out his anger on Sawyer.

“Enough!” Tyrell snarled. 

He slashes at Mack, then at the key. Mack slides, screaming, down the rooftop. The key tumbles down. 

“Great show!” Sawyer said, giving a fake applause. “Now what do ya say we let bygones be bygones and get the key-“

Tyrell then points his sword at him again.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Turner…he’s right.” Tyrell realized, as Sawyer was just as much to blame for ruining his life as Mack.

“Worth a shot.” Sawyer shrugged.

Tyrell attacks, as Sawyer retreats. Below them, Mack gets up and runs.

“Still rooting for you, mate!” Mack yelled over his shoulder to Tyrell.

On the roof, the fight continues. 

“You're very handy with a blade, but we both know how this is going to end, partner.” Sawyer said.

Tyrell knocks Sawyer back onto the huge mill wheel. Mack slows to a walk, putting the key over his next. As he walks, he suddenly falls into an open grave. He pushes himself up and reacts. 

“Oh.” Mack deadpanned.

Gintell and Pagetti carry the chest. They stop at the sounds of being followed. They turn, to see Juliet standing there. 

“‘Ello, poppet.” Gintell said, echoing the words from when they first met.

They drop the chest. Juliet reaches to her side, to find no sword. Gintell and Pagetti grin, draw their swords, and advance on her.

“Damnit.” Juliet said under her breath, getting used to Sawyer saying it at this point.

At the gentlemen’s duel, the mill wheel breaks free. Sawyer and Tyrell dance atop it, fighting to keep their balance. Mack pulls himself out of the grave. The wheel goes over him, catching him around the head and shoulders, and bears him away. In the wheel now, Mack is upside down, and the key falls loose. It gets caught on a nail. Mack comes around, past Sawyer and Tyrell on the top who look at him weirdly. He then hits the ground and is pushed inside the wheel, briefly. A support bar comes around and smacks Mack in the face. He falls sideways out of the rolling wheel.

Juliet retreats. Gintell and Pagetti come closer to her. Something crashes through the jungle, all three look. A bizarre sight, the mill wheel rolls past, followed by Mack, running as fast as he can, chasing it. 

“That’s interesting.” Gintell noted.

The three shake that off and renew their own confrontation. But suddenly, a barnacle-encrusted axe is thrown right at a palm tree next to them. 

“And that.” Pagetti added to GIntell’s earlier observation.

They look over to see Jones’s crewmen advancing through the jungle. Juliet backs away from the monstrous crewmen, terrified. She’s in between the swords of Gintell and Pagetti. Suddenly, she finds herself holding their two swords. Gintell and Pagetti have left her with their swords, fleeing the battle. They run for the chest, picking it up, and dash away as fast as possible.

“We got this far, we ain’t losing it now to those cretins!” Gintell declared.

Juliet retreats with them, guarding the rear. The crewman attack, racing through the trees. Gintell and Pagetti try to pass on either side of a tree, when they slam into one. The chest is ripped from their hands. They look up to see the crewmen are upon them.

At the ruling wheel, swords keep clashing. Sawyer and Tyrell fight on the rolling wheel, while below them, Mack runs alongside, focused on the key as it loops around. Mack makes his move, jumping into the spinning wheel, and runs inside like a hamster in a hamster wheel. Sawyer sees Mack and the key; leans over the wheel, grabs the key. Continuing on, swinging down into the wheel as Tyrell, in pursuit of Sawyer, enters the wheel. The fight is rejoined, inside the spinning wheel. 

Juliet, Gintell and Pagetti fight on the run, tossing two swords back and forth between the three of them. Hagras, a crewman with starfish-shaped hands, lurks from out of a jungle path, seeing the chest. He pauses over the chest, then picks it up without being seen.

Inside the spinning wheel, Mack slashes at Sawyer, and grabs the key. He climbs out onto the top of the wheel. He then grabs a passing palm tree just as the wheel drops away and rolls even faster downhill. Mack dangles in the air, letting go, and landing on the ground, along with several coconuts. Coming his way is Hagras, carrying the chest. Mack picks up one of the counts and quickly throws it at him. Hagras' head is knocked completely off. It tumbles away, as the chest lands on the ground. 

Mack regards the chest. And the key. Behind him, Hagras' body lurches about, searching for the head. 

“Right here! To the left! No, you idiot, other way!” Hagras’ head spoke from below.

Mack puts the key in the chest’s lock, turning it. The chest opens, and he looks inside. His eyes widen at the sight, and his ears hear the sound of the heartbeat growing faster. Mack takes off his shirt and reaches into the chest, using the shirt to grab the heart so he does not have to indulge in such a grotesque sight.

The battle between Juliet, Gintell and Pagetti sweeps back towards the chest, only to find Mack is gone. They grab the now empty chest, unaware.

Mack carries the heart, wrapped in his shirt. He comes upon the rowboat, which has drifted along the sand. He reaches in, finding his part of dirt. He empties out some of the dirt. He then puts the covered heart inside, and finally fills it with sand, hopefully outsmarting everyone. He is then startled by a noise behind him, which is Jones’ crewmen approaching. Mack defends, walking away from the longboat. 

Gintell and Pagetti appear on the beach, carrying the chest. Juliet appears, in full retreat, surrounded by attacking crewman, in trouble. Suddenly, the mill wheel rumbles down onto the beach, taking out several crewmen. Other crewmen scatter to get out of the way, and Juliet is saved. The wheel lumbers down into the water and tilts out. Sawyer and Tyrell climb out. Still trying to fight each other, both completely dizzy, they wander away from each other despite their efforts. 

Tyrell collapses near the boat. He looks inside, seeing the jar of dirt. He reaches for it, but then something else catches his eye. He reaches past the jar, to the Letters of Marque in Mack's coat. He takes them. He looks at Mack fighting Jones’s crew, then looks back at the jar. He realizes what’s truly inside the jar and smiles.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debuts: Hagras

-Area Debuts: Isla Crucus

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30. Race for the Chest: Part II

Gintell and Pagetti carry the chest to the boat. Mack fights off Denrod and other crew members with an oar.

“En guard, you hideous beasts!” Mack said, twirling the oar.

He then shoots a worried look at the chest. Gintell and Pagetti use oars and shovels to fight off the monstrous crewmen. The pirates form a defensive circle. 

Sawyer notices the key, still in the chest. He goes to open it, but is suddenly whacked in the back of the head by an oar as Mack spins around. Mack looks back in mock surprise. did he do that? Juliet turns, seeing Sawyer go down and rushes to his side. 

“Leave him lie, unless you're going to use him to hit things!” Sawyer sad to her.

All of Jones's men are gathered, ready to attack. Juliet and Tyrell stand side by side, outnumbered.

“We're not getting out of this.” Juliet said, worried.

“Not with the chest.” Tyrell said.

A moment of decision. Tyrell suddenly grabs the chest.

“Into the boat.” Tyrell ordered to Juliet, wanting her to be safe.

“You're mad!” Juliet said, in shock he’s sacrificing himself for a bunch of pirates.

“Don't wait for me.” Tyrell said.

With the chest, Tyrell races through the surrounding crewmen, into the jungle. The crewmen give chase. 

“I say we respect his final wish.” Mack said.

“Aye!” Gintell agreed, wanting to be rid of him as well.

Mack hops into the boat, grabbing his jar. Gintell and Pagetti start to get in.

“We have to take Sawyer.” Juliet said.

Gintell and Pagetti, intimidated by Juliet, jump to carry out her command. They lift Sawyer into the longboat, who is not happy.

In the jungle, Tyrell runs. He then stumbles over a root and falls, dropping the chest. He reaches for the chest, only to come face-to-face with the cutlass of Hagras, holding his head in his other arm, backed by several crewmen. 

“You'd die for that?” Hagras asked him.

Tyrell looks at the chest, then back to the crew. They draw swords. Tyrell considers all that led him to this moment.

“I would have, once. Catch!” Tyrell replied, catching the monster off guard.

Hagras must drop his head to catch the chest. Tyrell is gone. The crew laugh, as they and Hagras’s body leave. Hagras’s head laughs until he realizes he's left himself behind. 

“Oh…” Hagras’s head said.

On the Eclipse Pearl deck, Sawyer opens his eyes. Just like when he was a young boy, Juliet looks down on him, concerned. 

“Where’s the chest?” Sawyer asked, looking around.

“Tyrell took it to draw them off.” Juliet explained grimly, as she assumes the worst for his fate.

Higgs makes a line fast, and the Eclipse Pearl is already underway. 

“Where's the commodore?” Higgs asked Mack.

“Fell behind.” Mack replied, not caring what becomes of him.

“And my prayers to him. Best not wallow in our grief. The bright side is, you're back, and we made it off free and clear.” Higgs replied, as he briefly lowers his head for a moment to mourn Tyrell and quickly lifts it up.

Suddenly, the Cursed Bones bursts from the sea, like a huge whale breaking the surface and then splashing down, right next to the Eclipse Pearl. The Pearl crew reacts in horror, especially the newly hired sailors who have never seen it before.

“Bloody hell…” Skrum said, shocked to see the legendary ship in person.

“Lord on high…deliver us.” Higgs prayed.

But Mack is oddly unafraid. He lifts the jar of dirt over his head. He points at the jar, nodding. He then smiles and waves to the Bones crew.

“Hallo, fish-heads! Lose something? Hah-hah! Yoo-hoo, over here! Have a look-see!” Mack taunted, as he keeps holding it, getting the crew’s attention.

“What’s he doing?” Crash asked, looking over.

“Ahoy ink breath! Squid face! Looking for this? Come to negotiate, eh, have you, you slimy git? Look what I got. I got a jar of dirt, I got a jar of dirt, and guess what's inside it?” Mack sung, taunting them, as he keeps dancing with the jar of dirt.

Both the Pearl and Bones crew looks at him unsure how to respond. His own crew looks at him as if he’s gone madder than usual.

“Somehow, being Jones’ prisoner felt less humiliatin’ than this…” Sawyer said to Mara and Juliet.

Davy Jones stares at Mack in utter disbelief. The longer he stares, the more he disbelieves.

“Enough!” Davy Jones yelled.

“Shall we board her?” Raccus asked.

“No. Sink his beloved Pearl.” Davy Jones ordered, wanting Mack to die.

Mack continues his capering on deck. Suddenly, Mack freezes when he sees cannon ports on the Cursed Bones are opening. Mack fumbles at the jar lid.

“Hold on, now, um, wait, just a second now…” Mack staggered, and Juliet quickly reacts as if upon instinct.

“Hard a starboard! Hurry, men! Move!” Juliet ordered.

The crew scrambles and the Eclipse Pearl tacks hard. 

“Didn’t know you had being a pirate captain in you.” Mara noted.

“After being around them, you start to adapt to survive.” Juliet replied.

“Fire cannons! Hard to starboard!” Davy Jones ordered to his crew.

Cannonballs into the captain's cabin, breaking the windows. Treasure runs around deck, as it dives back into the barrel it hid in earlier. Gintell and Pagetti glance in, seeing the Cursed Bones as it lays in behind them. Davy Jones sneers.

“Let 'em taste the triple guns.” Davy Jones now ordered to his crew.

On the bow, the dual triple gatling cannons appear, and blast cannon fire at the Eclipse Pearl. At the rail, Juliet glances back as cannonball flies past, taking out a lantern, and knocking the crippled sailor off the bow to his demise.

“We don’t have enough ammo to fight them!” Merlin panicked, rummaging through the below deck for what they have to work with.

Mack races to the wheel and makes the Eclipse Pearl adjust its course, wanting to get as faraway as possible from here.

“Aye, captain! Into the swells! Go square to the wind! All hands, run her full!” Higgs suggested to him.

Juliet, Sawyer and Mara pitch in, pulling and securing lines. Gintell kisses the deck of the ship.

“Go my darling. Show them what you've got.” Gintell said to it.

From above, the Bones shoots, and the cannon shot splashes short of the Eclipse Pearl. Remarkably, the Eclipse Pearl pulls away. With each swell, the Cursed Bones drops back.

“She's falling behind!” Juliet noticed.

“Aye! We've got her!” Higgs said eagerly.

“We're faster than that monstrosity?” Sawyer asked.

“Against the wind, the Bones beats us. That's how she takes her prey. But with the wind…” Higgs was explaining.

“…we rob her of that advantage.” Sawyer realized.

Higgs nods. Hope returns to Sawyer's eyes as he looks back.

On the Bones deck, Jones lowers his spyglass. 

“Break off the pursuit. Drop sails. Run her light, and wrap canvas.” Davy Jones ordered to his crew.

“We're giving up, sir?” Raccus asked, confused.

In answer, Jones offers a small smile. Raccus smiles back, now understanding. There is the crack a snapping whip from Timmy Legs. On deck, the capstan turns, giving out the clicking noises, and raising the signal post. They are summoning the Kraken again.

From the Pearl deck, Juliet watches the Bones break off pursuit. 

“She's turning away!” Juliet called out.

The pirates cheer! 

“Not the mighty beast now, are ya Jones?” Merlin taunted.

Sawyer races across the deck to Mack.

“My father is still on that eyesore of a ship! If we can outrun her, we can take her! Y’all should turn back around and fight it like true pirates!” Sawyer protested.

“Why fight, when you can negotiate? All one needs is the proper leverage-“ Mack was saying, tapping his jar.

Suddenly, the Eclipse Pearl lurches. The crew falls forward. The jar is knocked free, tumbling to the deck, and the jar shatters. Mack looks, seeing sand all over the deck. 

“What was that?” Juliet asked, hearing the shattering glass.

Mack races down to the deck, drops to his knees, paws through the sand. Just sand. 

“…Hello? Where's the heart?” Mack asked nervously.

He then realizes: Tyrell must have taken it, that scoundrel. The ship then groans, shuddering. It is pulled to an ominous and abrupt stop.

“Is your ship malfunctioning?” Mara asked to Mack, who keeps digging through the sand.

“We must have hit a reef!” Juliet assumed.

Sawyer frowns. He has heard that exact phrase before, right before the merchant ship met its demise…

“No. It ain’t no reef. Get away from the rail.” Sawyer said worryingly, pulling her aside.

“What is it?” Juliet asked, concerned.

“The Kraken…” Sawyer replied, as Juliet is now immediately worried.

“Told you.” Pagetti said to Gintell.

Mack stops sifting through the sand. He sits up, terrified. Mack looks at his hand, seeing the Black Spot is still there. Pirates race to defend the ship. 

“To arms! Load them guns and defend the masts! Boathooks to the prow, don't let it get a grip! It will attack to starboard. I've seen this monster before, so if ya know what’s good for y’all, you best be trustin’ me! Set cannons and hold for my signal!” Sawyer ordered, immediately taking charge given his previous encounter with it.

Juliet is surprised by Sawyer giving such a passionate speech to pirates, and his ability to command them. Mack winces in fear. No heart, the Black Spot on his hand…and the Kraken is upon them. He truly hated Tyrell right now. Bubbles are swirling and churning in the water. Arms of the leviathan rise out of the sea. The giant squid attacks, immensely strong.

In the below decks, cannons are loaded. The Kraken feigns an attack to port, as other tentacles sneak up the starboard side. Tentacles creep over the rail. Gintell and Pagetti, terrified, hold their ground.

“Hold fire! Hold!” Sawyer yelled from down below.

“Aye! Give the word! Ready! Very ready! Oh so very ready!” Gintell said eagerly.

“Are you, though?” Pagetti asked.

“You better be or we’re dead!” Gintell replied.

Sawyer waits for a few moments.

“Fire!” Sawyer finally gave the order.

Fuses are lit and the cannons fire away. Tentacles are blown away. The Kraken twists in pain, causing the ship to roll. Tentacles flail, whip down and smash the longboats to splinters. A tentacle whips into an empty space, but the boat is not there. 

On the water, alongside the ship, is Mack Stark in the longboat with Treasure, who he quickly grabbed. He grabs the oars and rows away, for the moment unnoticed. 

“I’ll get you to safety, little one…” Mack said to the creature, as it looks over to the Kraken nervously.

On deck, the tentacles withdraw, and the pirates let out a victory cry.

“Don’t get too excited.” Mara warned to them, as she analyses the ocean waters cautiously for its return

“She’s right, it’ll be back!” Sawyer added.

He turns to Juliet.

“Get off the ship!” Sawyer ordered to her.

“No boats!” Juliet noticed, panicking.

Sawyer looks over, seeing the boats are smashed. He knocks over a barrel, kicks it rolling toward the hold.

“Pull the grids! All the gunpowder, onto the net in that cargo hold!” Sawyer ordered.

The crew scrambles to comply. 

“Since when were we taking orders from him, anyways?” Skrum asked.

“Since the captain left his post.” Pagetti said, realizing Mack isn’t on board.

“Where’d he run off to, anyways?” Gintell wondered, but the crew is preparing for battle, so they have no time to process it.

Sawyer grabs a rifle, and tosses it to Juliet, who catches it. 

“Whatever you do dear, don't miss.” Sawyer tried to encourage to her.

Juliet registers the gun, the gunpowder dropped into the cargo hold. 

“As soon as you're clear!” Juliet replied, ready.

“We're short stocked on gunpowder! Six barrels!” The Ottelian sailor alerted.

“We've only half a dozen barrels of powder!” Higgs said to Sawyer.

Sawyer goes below deck.

“Then we’ll be usin’ the rum.” Sawyer said.

The pirates hesitate, looking at Higgs to see if he’d approve. Higgs knows Mack would hate it, but they have little to work with here.

“Aye, the rum too!” Higgs yelled.

Mack continues to quickly row away, unhappy as he looks back at his ship. He looks at Treasure, who is still safely inside the boat with him. 

“You’ll be safe here, little one.” Mack promsied.

Mack glances over his shoulder at his planned destination. Isla Crucus is not too far away. He can make it. A swell tosses him sideways and the compass rolls free. Mack picks it up. He opens it and looks at it. He stares down at the reading, curses. The compass face is not shown, but Mack looks back. As he does this, he sees in the distance, Juliet dashing across the deck of the ship, rifle in her hand. Mack looks back toward the island, and looks down. He snaps the compass shut, then looks at Treasure again with a sad expression. He knows what he must do.

Juliet loads the rifle, glancing to Mack in the rowboat. She has nothing but disdain for him.

“Coward.” Juliet said, as Mara sees this too.

She’s about to echo the same sentiment, when she looks around to see Treasure is not on board.

“Wait…where’s his pet?” Mara asked, as Juliet begins to look around as well.

Juliet tries to see if Mack took the creature with him, but the boat lurches. Juliet fights to keep her balance, as does Mara. All eyes look down, scared at what might be beneath them. Even Lotton's scallop seems to look down. 

“Dead in the water. Dead in the water.” Lotton’s scallop chirped.

Lotton’s scallop flutters up towards safety in the rigging.

Alongside the ship, the Kraken regroups, a hump in the water. It races toward the Eclipse Pearl.

At the cargo hold, gunpowder barrels and rum barrels are dropped onto the rope netting. Sawyer secures the line. 

“Haul away!” Sawyer ordered to the crew.

On deck, Higgs turns and yells.

“Heave! Heave! Heave like you're being paid for it!” Higgs ordered to the crew.

Pirates at the capstan put their backs into it. The rope net rises, filled with gunpowder barrels and rum as tentacles slam into the ship through the cannon ports, racing over the deck of the ship to the far side. Sawyer rides on the barrels, up out of the hold. He grabs a rope, pulls the barrels to one side, over the ship's rail. 

“Come on, come and get me, you slimy tentacled bastard!” Sawyer mocked to the leviathan.

“Somehow, I don’t think insulting it will help.” Mara said.

“Oh I know, I just wanted to let off steam.” Sawyer said, annoyed at how it left him stranded.

“Now, we don’t know enough about the beast’s monster to make that claim, do we?” Pagetti said, as Gintell sighs.

“I doubt Mr. Turner there meant it that way.” Gintell corrected to him.

Tentacles reach for the masts, slithering around, looking to snap it. But a volley of shots are fired, and the tentacles retreat. At the bow-spirit, a pair of tentacles form a knot, gain leverage to pull down, but Merlin attacks it with a boat hook, stabbing it away. It then grabs the old sailor, crushing him under its weight.

“No, no, I don’t wanna go out like this!” The old man yelled in fear.

Higgs and Mara try to grab onto him, but the tentacle is too strong, as it drags him away into the ocean to his death.

“If I die, tell Mack to stay away from my funeral.” Mara said to Higgs, as she tries to hack a tentacle with her sword. 

Higgs shoots his pistol at some of the tentacles, but they are too strong. The Ottelian sailor rushes beneath deck, trying to shoot a cannonball, but the beast holds onto his cannon, crushing it. The sailor then slashes at it with his sword, but it knocks it out of his hand. Before the sailor can run, a tentacle grabs it, sending him flying around in the lower deck, wrecking supplies. 

“Noooo, I didn’t sign up for this!” The Ottelian sailor yelled, struggling to break free.

Merlin looks at this horrified, as he runs back upstairs. The tentacle lets go, sending the sailor smashing into a wall, cracking his head. He struggles to walk, trying to see his surroundings, when the tentacle grabs him again and throws him into the ocean. Higgs sees his body floating in the water from above, realizing all of the sailors they hired are now dead. He shows remorse for agreeing to let them on board, knowing those poor fools did not deserve this cruel fate.

Suddenly, the Kraken shoots up through the cargo hold. The netting tangles onto several tentacles. Juliet aims a rifle at the barrels, ready to shoot. She hesitates, as Sawyer is tangled in the netting. Suddenly, tentacles appear behind her. They've sneaked through the blown out windows of the captain's cabin. Juliet falls, the rifle tumbling away. Merlin rides the tentacle, chopping at it, as Mara shoots at another one with her gun. As Merlin chops at the tentacle, he loses his grip and falls. 

“We got you, lad!” Higgs said, readying a net to catch him.

Before he can safely land on deck, another Kraken tentacle strikes at the dwarf pirate, grabbing him. He tries to slip out, but his spine cracks upon the tentacle crushing his body. He is then dragged into the murky depths by the tentacle, and only his coat floats back up.

“Man down!” Skrum yelled, horrified at the sight.

The rest of the crew looks over, seeing Merlin is gone as well. 

“That lil’ man had a good soul, life ain’t fair…” Pagetti sniffed.

Higgs gives a mournful salute to him, and knows they must keep fighting for him. Juliet gets away, climbing the stairs toward the rifle. She then looks up to see Mack's back, but without Treasure. He’s standing there, silhouetted by the sun. He jumps down, picks up the rifle. He aims it.

Sawyer sees him, leaping off of the barrels. 

“Where the hell have you be-“ Sawyer was asking him.

Mack then fires, making the gunpowder barrels explode. Several tentacle arms are blown completely away. Real pain from the Kraken, as its tentacles flail. Other tentacles catch fire and withdraw through the ship. They sizzle as they hit the water. 

“Abandon ship! Into the longboat!” Mack ordered to everyone, as Treasure pokes its head out of it.

“But Mack…the Pearl.” Higgs pointed out.

“It's just a ship.” Mack accepted, willing to make the sacrifice.

It's a small moment. They both know they're saying goodbye to the Pearl. Mara, Juliet and Sawyer are all surprised by Mack’s selflessness here. Juliet realizes perhaps he truly is a good man.

“He's right. We can make for the island.” Juliet suggested.

“That's a lot of open water…” Gintell said, hesitant.

“A lot…” Pagetti added.

A beat as they all consider the merits of the plan, unsure now how well this will work.

“We can get away as it drags down the Pearl.” Sawyer suggested optimistically.

“Abandon ship! Abandon ship or abandon hope!” Higgs ordered.

Higgs, Mara, Gintell, Pagetti, Lotton and Sawyer head for the boat, as the Kraken circles. Mack re-loads the rifle and defends the retreat. Juliet hangs behind. She and Mack are the last two left on deck. 

“Thank you, Mack.” Juliet said to him.

“We're not free yet.” Mack replied to her, confused.

She moves toward him. 

“You came back. I always knew you were a good man.” Juliet said.

In the boat, Sawyer looks up toward the railing, seeing on the deck, Juliet kissing Mack. Mack staggers, the kiss driving him back. Sawyer is shocked as they move out of his sight. Mara looks at this surprised too, wondering if this is genuine. The kiss continues, all the way to the mast of the ship. They break the kiss. Mack looks at Juliet, knowledge of his fate already in his eyes. There is a “click” heard. Mack glances down, now realizing what this kiss was actually for. Juliet has manacled his wrists, chaining him to the mast. Mack looks into her eyes, not feeling betrayed or hurt, but rather, having a moment of clarity. This was Juliet’s way of saying goodbye to him, not a romantic gesture. He knew what awaited him. Juliet can't hold his gaze. 

“It's after you, not the ship…not us. It's the only way. I'm not sorry.” Juliet explained, looking up.

Mack nods, accepting the fate, the logic of what she has done. 

“Pirate.” Mack said, with some admiration.

The word stings Juliet.

"Please protect the pet." Mack requested, as she nods.

At the shouts from the others, she backs away, races across the deck, and down onto the long boat. Juliet climbs down, as Sawyer stares at her, wondering what she was doing back there.

“Where's Mack?” Sawyer asked.

“He elected to stay behind, to give us a fighting chance. Go!” Juliet explained.

Sawyer nods, thinking he understands the kiss now. She was doing it as a goodbye to him. Juliet then pets Treasure, as it looks on worried at the Pearl.

On the Bones deck, Davy Jones is watching the Eclipse Pearl’s imminent demise through a spyglass. Suddenly, Davy Jones’s tentacles begin acting strangely, as they sense Treasure on the escaping longboat, although Jones cannot figure out what it is he senses. Davy Jones looks at the fleeing boat, with Treasure obscured from his view by Juliet, who sits it on the boat floor. He dismisses them as a threat, as Mack’s demise is all that matters to him at this moment.

“Is everything okay, sir?” Greenbard asked him, wondering what he’s looking at.

“Tis nothing.” Davy Jones replied, as he moves his spyglass back to the Eclipse Pearl.

Mack struggles with his chains, tentacles of the Kraken crawling all around him. He breaks a lamp, then uses the oil to work his arm free. He turns, to see the Kraken is there, pulled half up onto the ship.

Mack stands alone as the gaping maw of the beast opens and a blast of deadly air hits Mack, the stretch of a thousand corpses. The hideous roar of a creature of another era. Mack sniffs.

“Huh. Not bad, really.” Mack complimented.

And then Mack notices something: his hat, caught on some of the pinkish cilia surrounding the mouth. Mack leaps for it, snags it, and puts it on. He straightens the hat and he fels a little better now. He looks up, prepared to face the approaching doom before him.

“Hello, beastie.” Mack said bravely.

He pulls his sword, and charges forward at it. Juliet and Sawyer turn on the longboat, and watch.

In the distance, the Eclipse Pearl is wrapped up by the Kraken and pulled down into the sea, Mack Stark going down with his ship. Mack’s crew looks at this sadly, even Mara and Sawyer are upset at this sight. Juliet keeps comforting Treasure, as it looks out at the scene worried, trying to hop off the boat, but she pulls it back. 

“Easy there.” Juliet said to it.

Without any words, the crew can tell the creature misses Mack. Mara and Higgs would honor Mack’s wish to keep the creature away from Davy Jones so it does not join his leviathan ranks, no matter the cost.

Davy Jones lowers his spyglass. His beard curls as he smiles with great satisfaction. Bootstrap Buck is behind him. 

“Mack Stark…our debt is settled.” Davy Jones said contently, closing the spyglass.

Behind him, Palafico and Quittance have just arrived with the chest. They set it down. 

"The captain goes down with his ship.” Palafico noted.

Raccus stares out at the boiling sea. 

“Turns out, not even Mack Stark could best the devil…” Raccus said admirably.

Jones' smile fades. Worry touches his eyes, as he starts to doubt this claim. He spins. 

“Open the chest. Open the chest! I need to see it!” Davy Jones ordered to the two.

Palafico hesitates, but Jones’s glare makes him immediately lean down at the chest. He turns the key, and lifts the lid of the chest. Jones looks…to see the chest is empty. The crew gasps.

“The heart is gone!” The crew spoke amongst themselves.

Jones snaps away from the chest, his face livid with rage. A scream starts from deep down, primal rage, he bellows.

“Damn you…MACK STARK!” Davy Jones yelled to the high heavens, utterly furious. 

Mack’s crew keeps rowing away to safety. As they escape the area, they notice several ETC ships approaching Isla Crucus.

“Looks like we made it out of there just in time.” Mara said, using her binoculars.

“I wouldn’t have had the energy to fight ‘em anyways.” Sawyer sighed.

Tyrell is revealed to still be alive, as he makes his way out of the island jungles, reaching shore. He holds out Mack’s coat, smiling deviously to himself. He knows what he’s obtained will restore his honor and rank. He then sees one of the ETC ships approaching, and waves to it, hoping they will accept his rescue.

As the crew’s rowboat keeps getting farther, they see a familiar ship sailing towards them in the distance.

“Are they comin’ to finish us?” Sawyer wondered.

Mara uses her binoculars to look, and her mood turns better upon realizing who it is.

“Wait, that’s not an enemy. It’s Boris!” Mara recognized, seeing him on board.

“Who?” Sawyer and Juliet both asked, given they weren’t there for that.

“Mara here’s friend, he is. He went to look for some of our crew members we lost on Skull Island.” Higgs explained to them.

Boris’s ship gets closer. They look to see Jen, Duncan and Shelly are safely on board the boat as well. Boris had rescued them from Skull Island after all.

“I’ll be, he actually rescued ‘em…” Gintell said, surprised.

“I knew I could count on him to do it. Guess that’s one bit of good news you’re getting today.” Mara said, trying to see the bright side.

Boris waves to them, as they stop rowing the longboat, and his ship comes alongside them.

“I found the pirates like you asked, Mara, even if I had to circle around that isle fourteen times before I could find ‘em.” Boris said, not exactly pleased, but happy he at least did a good deed nonetheless.

“We said we were sorry man, we didn’t know you were looking for us!” Duncan said.

“Just messing with ya.” Boris shrugged.

“How did you survive those cannibals?” Gintell asked.

“After a long time trying to avoid them, we got captured and thought we were done for. That is until their new chief, that prison amoeba dog, ordered them to let us go…at least I think it did. We made it to shore, where we saw Boris here sailing his boat around.” Jen explained to them.

“We’re not mad you left us behind, by the way, since the Code and all.” Shelly said.

“Either way, we’re glad to be back to the crew!” Jen said, as the three step aboard the longboat, having to cram to fit in.

“Ello, I’m Skrum, new here. I play a mean mandola.” Skrum said, practicing a new song as he strums it. He then shakes their hands.

Higgs sees Boris’s Bounty Guild badge, and this takes him back to when he worked for them.

“Nice badge. I used to be a part of the guild too, you know.” Higgs said to him.

“I take it why you left isn’t my business.” Boris replied.

“Change of the tides.” Higgs replied.

“Even though bounty hunters usually hate us pirates, Boris is tight.” Jen said.

“Want to join us, lad? We could use the allies.” Higgs offered to him.

“Alas, this is where my service ends. I’ve been slacking on Guild duties, so I need to report back there. I take it you’ll be fine with them for now.” Boris said to Mara.

“I am.” Mara replied, accepting where she is now.

He salutes a farewell to her and the pirates, then sails off.

“Now that we’re all happily reacquainted, allow me to ask the obvious: Where’s Captain Stark and the Pearl?” Duncan asked, wondering why they’re in the longboat.

“Or Merlin, or Feech, for that matter?” Shelly added.

The crew have devastated looks, indicating they don’t want to talk about it.

“I take it we missed a lot…” Jen realized.

“You’re in for quite a story, and it ain’t having a happy ending.” Higgs said, as he explains to the three what they’ve missed since they were stranded on Skull Island. Their longboat keeps rowing away.

The Eastern Trading Company’s office at Fort Wetherby is shown. Inside, Lennett at his desk, signing papers. Melching approaches him.

“The last of our ships has returned, sir.” Melching reported.

“Word on the chest?” Lennett asked hopefully.

“None. But the ships picked up a man, set adrift by the look of it. He had these.” Melching explained.

He hands the Letters of Marque over to Lennett. Lennett glances through them, spots something, and looks up for the first time.

“James Tyrell?” Lennett asked, surprised.

Tyrell is to one side, under armed escort. 

“I took the liberty of filling in my name.” Tyrell said, determined to get his life back.

“If you intend to claim these, then you must have something to trade. You have the compass?” Lennett asked.

“Better.” Tyrell replied, smiling victoriously.

He tosses the burlap bag on his desk with a thump. And then the bag lets out a thump-thump heartbeat noise…

“The heart of Davy Jones.” Tyrell presented, impressing both men.

Lennett approaches the bag. He peers inside and then closes it up. His key to controlling Enhalas was right here on his desk, from someone he least expected to obtain it.

“Remarkable.” Lennett replied contently.

“Then I've won commission as a privateer?” Tyrell asked eagerly.

“Better.” Lennett replied, smiling.

Lennett takes the presentation case from the shelf behind him, and sets it on his desk. He flips it open as he walks toward the balcony doors. There is a commotion from outside, but Lennett seems to have expected it. 

Tyrell gazes into the case. It holds his sword. He lifts it out reverently, examining it. it is symbol of his old life, back in his hands again. 

“Reinstatement to your former rank and status, all rights and privileges attendant. And I believe a promotion is due, as well. Do you agree, Admiral Tyrell?” Lennett revealed, shocking him.

Tyrell is overwhelmed, and then, with military precision, draws the sword. He rests it over his left arm, and point aimed at the heart. He’s ready to kill Jones.

“Give the order, sir.” Tyrell said, eager to do it.

“Oh, no, no, no. No. That would be terribly imprudent. Where is the profit in killing Jones when we can instead add another ship to your fleet?” Lennett replied, indicating his longterm plan.

Tyrell looks at him quizzically. 

“Behold, The Cursed Bones.” Lennett announced.

He opens the doors. Beyond, people on the dock stare at The Cursed Bones, moored in port. Jones’s crew line the rail. Davy Jones, at the wheel, looks up toward Lennett. He reluctantly inclines his head in salute. 

“Whoever controls the heart of Davy Jones…controls the sea.” Lennett revealed.

The oblivious artist looks up from his work. He had finally finished the map of Enhalas thanks to all the notes and research provided from the soldiers and Relic Raiders.

“The map is finished, sir.” The artist proudly announced.

Lennett, Melching and Tyrell gaze at the map. They were shocked to see Enhalas had finally been properly mapped after all these years.

“Just the way I imagined it.” Lennett said, smiling triumphantly.

Darkness is shown, which is gradually revealed to be dark water. In the water, a flame appears, lighting up the path, joined by a second flame wavering. Then another, and then a dozen more, reflected in the water. Mack’s crew are traveling back to the Enhalas Bayou for refuge, as they make their way up the swamp river. The longboat moves toward the shack. Juliet, Sawyer, Higgs, Mara, Gintell, Pagetti, Skrum, Lotton, Jen, Duncan, Shelly, and Treasure are all safe. Skrum strums a sad melody on his mandola, dedicated to Mack. The last rays of light filter through the moss. Flames light the dark shore, a hundred candles held by people, some standing waist deep in the water. Their eyes stare out. There is an eerie silence from the people, with the only noise being Skrum strumming his mandola. The boat moves past, surrounded by the silent figures.

They are later seen inside Ava Dalmas’s shack, gathered around the fire. Ava Dalmas pours a liquid into glasses. Juliet shakes her head, indicating she doesn't want any. 

“Against the cold. And the sorrow.” Ava spoke to her.

Juliet accepts a glass, and takes s a sip, lost in her thoughts. Sawyer watches her. Ava moves to him. 

“It's a shame. I know you be thinking, with the Pearl, you could have caught the Devil and wrestled free your father's soul…” Ava said, sympathizing with him.

“It doesn't matter. The Pearl's gone…along with its captain.” Sawyer said bitterly, genuinely feeling pity for Mack after everything.

“Aye. And, already, the world seems bit less bright without him. Tricked us all, right to the end, but that streak of honest finally won out.” Higgs replied mournfully.

The words hit Juliet hard. 

“To Mack Stark!” Higgs said, trying to brighten the moody, as he raises a toast.

Higgs raises his glass, and the others follow suit. 

“Never another like Captain Stark.” Pagetti said sadly.

“He was a gentleman of fortune, he was.” Gintell agreed sadly as well.

“I only just joined your fancy crew, and while I ain’t known him as long as you, I already miss him.” Skrum said, wishing he got to know him more.

“He led us to many great victories, even with his unorthodox style. I only wish I had a chance to say goodbye to him…” Shelly said sadly, as Duncan and Jen share her sentiments given their absence. 

"He could be a nuisance at times, but..he was a talented captain, great warrior, and beneath that rough exterior, a heart of gold. He saved little Treasure over there when nobody else would. With him gone, life feels emptier." Mara said, feeling as if part of her heart shattered, and looks at Treasure who also still looks sad.

“He was a good man.” Juliet realized, as his selfless act to save them all was the proof she needed.

Juliet lowers her glass as the others drink. Only Sawyer notices it. 

“If there was anything that could be done to bring him back, Juliet…” Sawyer was saying to her.

Ava gets an idea upon hearing this, and decides to offer a mission to all of them.

“Would you do it? What would you, would any of you, be willing to do? Would you sail to the ends of the earth and beyond, to fetch back Witty Mack and his precious Pearl?” Ava asked curiously to them.

The group look at her, half-thinking she's crazy, half-hoping she's not. Higgs thumps his hand hard upon a table. 

“Aye!” Higgs declared.

“Aye!” Mara declared.

“Aye!” Pagetti and Gintell declared, fighting each other to say it first.

“Aye!” Jen declared.

“Aye!” Shelly declared.

“Aye!” Duncan declared.

“Aye!” Skrum declared. 

“Aye!” Lotton’s scallop declared.

“Aye!” Juliet declared, and looks at Sawyer.

“Yeah…I mean, Aye.” Sawyer declared.

Ava is pleased. 

“Very well. But if you are to brave the weird and haunted shoals at world's end…then you be needin' a captain what knows those waters.” Ava said ominously, confusing them.

There is the sound of the ocean from above. At the top of the stairs, the carved door opens. Mac the sea monkey chatters. 

Dusty boots appear as a familiar man steps out. The boots descend the stairs. A barrel of apples reside near the stairs. A hand reaches in, takes one out, and raises it. The man is Bedossa, revived using Treasure’s power when Ava borrowed him. The crew all looks in shock, not sure how to react to this.

“Now tell me…what’s become of my ship?” Bedossa asked casually.

Mac the sea monkey leaps onto his shoulder. Barbossa smiles and bites into the apple, giving out a hearty laugh.

Notes/Trivia:

-Death: Merlin

-Jen, Duncan and Shelly are revealed to still be alive.

 

That concludes the first half of Season 2, the final 10 chapters will come in January 2021.

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