“Mr. Mercer, it's time. First, we warn the world of what Captain Sparrow truly is. Then we punish him.”
Mercer nodded at the marines, and two of them stepped over to grasp Robby's arms. “Cut their bonds,”the Scotsman instructed.“Just in case they decide to go over the side to save us the trouble of hauling them back to England, and prison.”
Quickly, Jack and Robby's hands were freed.Two marines held Robby and the other four clustered around Jack. Three held him, while the fourth used his knife to cut Jack's shirt, then, with a sudden yank, ripped it off him. Mercer went over to the brazier. Picking up a rag, he grasped the end of the rod, lifting it from the glowing coals. Jack saw that the end of the brand was the letter “P.”
Oh, no.No...Jack thought. 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 he found the strength to stand there, silent, althought he couldn't stop trembling.
“Now everyone will know what you really are, Jack,”Beckett said.“I'm doing the world a service.”
Mercer walked toward Jack, and Jack could tell that the operative was enjoying every moment. As the Scotsman walked past Beckett, the EITC director suddenly reached out and grabbed his black sleeve.“Let me,”he said, his voice low, and thick. He sounded...avid. Greed. Excited.“I want to do it myself.”
Grasping the brand, Cutler Beckett approached. The“P”was glowing as yellow as the sun. The marines held Jack's right arm, keeping it as still as if he were bound in iron chains.
Cutler Beckett touched the iron to Jack's forearm. Jack smelled burned hair, then burned flesh. He heard the sizzle. The iron pressed harder, harder, sinking into Jack's flesh, hissing like the cobra monster from the labyrinth. The pain was so intense that for the first moments, Jack couldn't catch his breath enough to make even a faint sound. Agony erupted in his flesh, running up his arm, engulfing it. Jack's knees sagged, and only the grasp of the marines kept him on his feet. He sucked in air, and screamed.
Jack didn't even notice when Beckett finally pulled the brand away. He was somewhere else, lost in a world of pain, and his only conscious thought was a wish that he'd pass out. But he didn't.
Mercer approached, and dumped a bucket of seawater over Jack's arm. He studied the results, then nodded at Cutler Beckett.“A good, clean, job, Mr. Beckett. Nice and deep.”
Finally, the marines let Jack go. He slumped to the deck, then sat there, cradling his arm as the all-engulfing pain finally ebbed. His arm still hurt, and the sight of the blackened“P”nearly made Jack sick to his stomach, but the pain receded to a manageable level. He was able to look up to see what had happened to Robby. His friend hung in the arms of the marines, looking nearly as limp as Jack felt.
“And now, Jack,”Cutler Beckett said,“It's time for your punishment.”He smiled 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, Jack.”
He nodded at Mercer.“Order them to fire. Use the carcass charges.”
Mercer nodded, then disappeared down the ladder leading to the gun deck.
Jack scrambled to his feet.“What?”he blurted.“What's going on?”
“Oho, so you finally speak,”Beckett said.“I was beginning to think the cat had gotten your tongue, Jack.”
Jack looked over at the Wicked Wench.“She's just a ship.”he said, won-daringly. “Made of wood, and canvas. You're going to destroy your own property? Just to get back at me?”
“She's not just a ship to you, Jack.”Beckett said.“And yes. That's pre-cisely what I am going to do.”
Jack stared at Beckett.“You're like a child,”he said, letting the con-tempt he felt show.“An overgrown, angry child. Just because you can't have what you want, you do this. It's...twisted. Mad.”
Beckett looked at Jack.“And what is it that I want, Jack?”he asked,sounding genuinely puzzled, as though he really didn't know.
Jack looked at him.“Fear. Love. Respect. None of which you will get from me,”he replied.
Beckett's face darkened. His hands tightened into fists.“You－”
Three cannons roared, at nearly the same time. Jack saw the projec-tiles heading for the Wicked Wench, lying innocently, peacefully at anchor. He knew what“carcassed”ammunition was. It was a thin casing sur-rounding flammable material－designed to start a fire.
Mercer ran up the ladder just as two of the projectiles struck their target. The third overshot it. The Scotsman laughed.“She's got bales of dried straw, soaked in oil, on her weather deck and main deck,”he said.“She'll go up like paper.”
“No...”Jack whispered. The explosions echoed inside him, hurting worse then the brand. I have to get to her!
He lunged towards Sentinel's gunwale. Hands grabbed him, but he was a wild thing. fighting as he had never fought in his life, filled with ber-serker rage, punching, kicking, even biting to get free. Two of the guards were down. Jack slammed his fist into the third guard's jaw, and then he was free, bolting for the railing.
Someone moved to cut him off－Cutler Beckett himself, yelling, his face distorted with rage. He'd picked up a cutlass, and was waving it. Jack didn't even slow down. Knocking the weapon out of his hand, he grabbed the little man by the collar and pitched him headlong over the railing.
While Beckett was still in midair, Jack leaped to the top of the rail, then dived off, arcing out, heading for the Wicked Wench.
The touch of the cold water felt good, though the salt awakened the brand. Jack surfaced with a powerful kick, ignoring the fire in his arm. Behind him he could hear Mercer yelling orders.
Maybe Beckett will drown before they can fish him out...
He began swimming, then a hand grabbed his left shoulder. Jack turned, fist raised, to find Robby beside him.“Come on, Jack,” his friend panted. “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 Zerzura gold－and then we're free.”
Jack shook his hand.“You go,” he said.“I'm going after the Wench.”
“But Jack, she's on fire!”
Jack turned to find it was true. Flames spouted from the weater deck, amidships. “They used straw,” he said. “I can push it overboard. I have to try.”
“No! Jack, don't! You'll die for nothing.”
Jack kicked off his shoes. They were weighing him down. “Then I'll die,” he said.“I still have gold aboard. If all else fails I'll get that.”
“Jack, please!”Robby looked frantic.“Please, come with me!”
“No!”Jack shouted.“Swim, damn you! Get your gold. By your farm. Earn that vicar's collar. Marry that pretty girl. That's an order, Robby.”
“No, Jack. I'll come with－”
Robby broke off with a grunt as Jack's bare foot kicked him hard in the stomach.
“I don't have time to argue!”Turning away, Jack started 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. Jack 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, Jack 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 that it had been stripped of everything of value. The guns were gone. The Wench was nothing but an empty hulk.
Jack glanced left, and saw a small figure, swimming, heading for the shore. Robby had obeyed orders, one last time. He'd escape, if there was any justice in his world.....
Reaching the door to his cabin, Jack 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 was already past the main cargo hatch.
“Dammit!” Jack yelled. He threw himself at the door, once, twice, three times. He kicked it, hard, making him yell from the pain in his bruised foot. Then he threw himself against it with all his remaining strength. The lock gave.
Jack scrambled into his cabin and shut the doors behind him. There were so many things he wanted, but wouldn't be able to save! His sea chest....
Running over to the bulkhead, Jack felt around for the catch that would open the panel he'd had installed by a carpenter in London, It clicked, then opened. He began pulling things out, throwing them onto his bunk. Two small golden goblets, some jewelry, then a handful of coins and the loose gems...
Frantically, Jack 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, Jack realized that he had no way to lock it. Hastily, he grabbed his baldric, discarding his cutlass－not without a pang－and put the heavy leather strap around it, tightening it as much as he could.
The Wicked Wench screamed, then groaned. His ship's cry sounded almost human. Jack dashed tears from his eyes, then grabbed the chest, and stood up with it in his arms.
Heading over to the wrecked door, Jack put out a hand to touch it, then jumped back. It was hot to the touch. Smoke trickled in beneath the doors. He coughed.
Coughing, Jack retreated, back to the stern windows. Could he get out that way?
Those windows weren't very big. Chamba had been a skinny, half-starved kid when he'd pulled him through. Jack was a grown man.
If I smash them all out, he though, I can jump...
Jack put down the chest and ran over to pick up his sword. He began smashing out the glass in his windows with the hilt, hammering at it.
The ship lurched, and rolled, and suddenly Jack realized the surface of the water looked a lot closer. The Wicked Wench was going down.
Jack looked around his cabin, realizing he was trapped. There was no way out. His ship lurched violently, and everything in the cabin started to slide, first one way, then another. Jack crawled toward the window, drag-ging the chest. Somehow, he'd force himself through it.
Just as he reached the windows, Jack realized that 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 was thick with smoke, now. The ship heaved and rolled again, knocking Jack off his feet. He slid across the deck. Jack tried to crawl toward the window, but he was disoriented, his lungs screaming for air. And somehow, he was still dragging the bloody chest with him. He couldn't seem to make his fingers let go of it.
Where were the windows? He couldn't see them....
The deck jumped and lurched. Everything slid around again, includ-ing Jack. He fetched up against the door, and suddenly his left sleeve was on fire. Yelling, gasping, Jack tried to beat out the flames with his right hand.
He heard another hideous groan, and glanced up, just in time to see the overhead skylight collapsing, coming down on top of him.
Mercifully, Jack blacked out for a little while.
When he opened his eyes, he was no longer aboard the burning ship. He seemed to be somewhere else...somewhere as featureless as his smoke-filled cabin had been, but...elsewhere. He could tell because there were no flames, and he could breathe fine.
If indeed he was breathing....
Jack wasn't sure of anything, right now. He could feel his body, feel the pain from his burned left arm and his branded right arm, but it was distant, muffled, as though he'd gulped half a flask of rum. The really good stuff.
Jack sat up, then managed to get to his feet. He was able to stand, but that was strange, because there didn't seem to be a solid surface beneath him.
Where the devil am I? Jack wondered, turning his head. His sea chest was there, with him. Somehow he must have managed to hang onto it.
The word“devil” resounded in his mind. And then, suddenly, he knew where he was. He was wherever Davy Jones met up with dead or dying mariners. Any moment now, Old Squid Face himself was bound to appear. He'd call Jack's name...and that meant it was all over.
But it can't be, he thought. There are so many things I want to do!
Jack stood there. After a moment he shifted his weight and looked around again.
It's bloody rude to keep a chap waiting,he thought.
But maybe he didn't have to wait. Maybe he could summon Jones? He'd seen the Pirate Lords do it, after all. And there were whispers...rumors...that Jones would sometimes negotiate, make deals, with mari-ners brave or brazen enought to confront him, then stand up to him. He'd faced Jones before, hadn't he?
Jack was desperate enough to try anything. He closed his eyes, recall-ing 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.
Clearing his throat, Jack spoke aloud:“Davy Jones...I, Jack Sparrow, kin of a Pirate Lord, call you. I entreat you by your alliance with the Brethren of the Coast. You gave those mortals powers over the sea, bind-ing the queen in her bones, and I am of their blood. I entreat you. Come to me, Davy Jones. I summon you. I summon you. I summon you.”
He peered into the blankness, but there was nothing there. No mon-strous shape. Nothing but the blankness. Blood hell. I've failed...
Jack 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 Jack.
Swallowing hard, Jack steadied himself, assuming an air of confi-dence 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 do.
Jones's expression changed, his eyes narrowing with suspicion as they peered through the squid-flesh that served him in lieu of human features.“You are not of the Brethren Court!” he exclaimed.“Who are you, auda-cious boy, to summon me thus?”
Jack bobbed another bow.“I'm Captain Jack Sparrow...sir.”
“Ahhhhhh...I remember you now. Teague's whelp.”
“You are young to be a captain, boy,” Jones observed, studying him.
“Thank you, Captain Jones,” Jack said.“I'm really quite good at it, I assure you. And I'd like to remain a captain.”
“Why have you summoned me, Sparrow?” Was Jack mistaken, or did he see a tiny flash of what might have been amusement in those beady little eyes?
“Captain Jones,” Jack said, marshaling all his considerable negotiating skills,“the fact that I'm here, talking to you, means that I'm, er...either dying or dead, correct?”
“That is just really unfortunate,” Jack said.“I'm too young to die. I haven't accomplished half what I wanted to do. Maybe not even a third.”
“They all say that.” Jones clicked his lobster claw impatiently.“Get on with it, boy.”
“Well, I'm a capable, experienced mariner,” Jack said.“Very good hand. I can do anything aboard a ship. If it floats on the water, and has sails, I can sail it. I suspect I'd be very useful to you, Captain Jones.”
Davy Jones eyed him, while Jack held his breath, waiting.
Finally, Jones said,“What is it you want? And what have you to trade for it?”
“Well, I have my immortal soul,” Jack said.“At least, I'm pretty sure I didn't misplace it somewhere along the way.”
Again that glint in the tiny eyes that might have indicated amusement.“Go on, Sparrow. What is it you want?”
“Well,” said Jack,“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, Jack sat down, cross-legged, on nothing.“That's better. Now, as to what I want. First of all, there's the matter of my ship....”
＊ ＊ ＊
「The last I saw of that ship, she was on fire. A blackened hulk sinking beneath the waves.我最後一次看見那艘船，她是深陷火海。一艘因火吻而焦黑的廢船沉沒在波浪之下。」
還提到他跟麻雀結下的樑子；就是麻雀釋放非奴那件事……麻雀那時看了一眼他手臂上的烙印，還是依然對貝克特說：「People aren't cargo.活生生的人不是貨物……」這一版的台詞挺好的，不知為啥就改掉或刪掉了。