I took a break from Star Wars to write a Pirates story. This takes place between the second and third movies, with new characters who have interacted with POTC characters at one point or another. POTC characters may make cameos here and there, but this is mostly about the new characters. Hope you enjoy! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Pirates of the Caribbean Quest of the Black Dagger 1. The setting sun glowed above the wall of the newly-renamed, "Fort Beckett," in St. Augustine. Soon, it would fall until it lit up the bay before cloaking the entire coast. Above, the few orange clouds glided by. And a breeze circled the courtyard, cooling those stationed inside the fort, and sending a chill to those being led to the gallows in the center of the fort's courtyard. The day's way too beautiful to die in, Ian thought as he was herded forward in line. A tall, thin boy in his late teens, Ian watched as the next group stepped onto the platform, standing side-by-side as East India Trading Company guards lowered ropes over their heads. Several of them looked terrified. One grown man even started crying. Then the executioner pulled the lever, and Ian winced and looked away as the floors dropped, and the bodies with them. Hearing crying behind him, Ian glanced back to see an older couple. although their wrists were shackled, they stood shoulder-to-shoulder, comforting each other in their final moments. "I love you, Harold," she said. "And I, you, Tamy," he said. "I'm sorry about Stormbrook." "And I, fer calling you a lumbering oaf." The line stopped as the next group stepped onto the platform, and Ian spied a guard standing not far to the side. Clutching his chest, Ian started coughing. "What's wrong with you," the guard, Ian remembered his name being Bates, asked standing over him. "The sea," Ian coughed. "The smell, it's awful." Turning, he leaned his face into Bates's shirt and began gagging into his chest. Bates shoved him away, until he landed against someone behind him. "Get off me!" "Sorry," Ian wheezed." I couldn't help it." "Well you won't have to worry about it for long," Bates chuckled. "In fact, you won't have to worry about anything at all soon." "What a cur," the voice of the one he landed against said. Ian turned to see the person and looked up. She stood a good fist taller, with crimson hair that barely reached her shoulders and dark eyes. "Apparently," Ian said. He introduced himself. "Ian." "Jade," she responded. Can you stand on your own or will I be carrying you to the ropes?" "You can carry me anywhere," Ian said, entranced. "Beg pardon?" Jade asked in less than polite tones. Ian smiled, looking into her eyes. "Well these could be our final moments in this world. We should spend them constructively." Jade glared down at him. "Have you bumped yer head, boy? We're about to lose ours!" "All the better for ending these moments together. He traced his fingers along her waist. "You could make this boy's final moments lovely ones indeed, if you're well and able." He brought his hands to the front of her belt and started moving to her thighs. "You seem able to-" Snarling in disgust, Jade pulled her right fist back and planted it right between the boy's eyes. He stumbled back but grabbed her belt and pulled himself back into her. Pushing his head back, Jade slammed her fist into his nose once, twice, and a third time before guards stepped in and pulled him away from her. "That little sprat tried to have ways with me!" Jade said, massaging her bloody knuckles. "You again," Bates said as he inspected the boy who was lying limply in the arms of two guards. Ian smiled weakly. "I just wanted to leave with glee." "Then perhaps the sooner the better. Charles, we're moving this whelp to the front of the line," Bates said, calling another guard over. "Let us end his misery.," He rolled his eyes. "and our own. Jade watched as the guards unhooked the boy from the chain, keeping only the shackles to his wrists as they dragged him to the platform. What in blazes did he hope for, she wondered, except to drop sooner. What a block-headed fool. Adjusting her belt, she felt a bump along the buckle. Slipping her fingers behind it, found a key. Jade looked up at the boy again and then remembered his earlier coughing into the guard's shirt. So, she thought, this was all a distraction. Cunning little imp, isn't he? She quickly released her wrists from the shackles and heard the couple behind her. "I'm sorry we couldn't see The Highlands, me love," Harold said. Looking up, Jade saw the guards dragging Ian up the steps of the gallows' platform. The boy, coughing again, had attracted quite a bit of attention from the nearby guards, and Jade took the moments and turned to the couple. Handing them the key, she said, "Here's another chance for ye." Tamy looked at her. "How the devil?" She then followed Jade's eyes to the platform and to Ian. "The devil indeed," Harold said, reading her thoughts as they quickly unhooked their shackles and passed the key behind them. "But we still ain't gettin' far with guards all over." "Perhaps," Jade said, watching Ian, "he has his entire escape well planned out." As Ian reached the platform, Bates grabbed him by the shoulder and led him to the ropes. "Your choice, whelp." Ian gazed over the ropes. "The last one. I wish to see the sun set as I drop." Bates chuckles as he led Ian to the rope. "If you stayed quiet and out of trouble, you might have seen the stars." "You first." Wit that, Ian threw his right fist, now free of the shackles, and punched Bates in the face. The guard stumbled back a step, but to Ian's wide-eyed surprise, he remained standing and punched back, sending the boy to the floor of the platform. "Wonderful plan," Harold observed, "for getting us all shot instead a hanged." "We're not there yet." Jade lunged for the closest guard punched him square in the jaw, sending him to the rocky ground in a heap. Stomping his head with her boot. she snatched his sword and used it to block the attack of another guard. A third guard tried to flank Jade, but Harold grabbed his arm and punched him, then kicked him in the ribs. "I love me wife," he declared, "and you ain't takin' her!" Back on the platform, Bates grabbed Ian by the shirt and dragged him to his feet. "Is that the best you can punch, boy?" he asked. Ian's glassy eyes suddenly focused. "No." With the chains of his shackles wrapped around his left fist, he punched Bates in the jaw. The guard fell back against the platform's beam, and Ian lunged forward, tackling Bates and sending them both hurling to the ground below. He punched the guard once more and then fiddled with his pockets. Another guard rushed forward and swung his sword down, but Ian caught it with his chain-wrapped hand. Falling back, he threw the guard, causing him to crash into the fort's wall. He then threw himself forward and punched the guard cold. Looking down at his hand, Ian said, "Okay, I'll admit that was stupid.." Seeing more guards running toward him, he rushed up the steps to the top of the wall. He looked over the side and saw the grass far below. Not nearly the best way to escape. He ran along the wall and ducked just as a pistol shot struck the stone behind him. "Are you daft?" he asked the guard, who stood on the steps with his pistol drawn. "You'll kill someone!" The guard then pointed the pistol at Ian again. "Oh," he said, breaking into a sprint along the wall. Though busy fighting yet another guard, Jade jolted as she heard the gunshot. Looking up, she saw Ian running atop the wall as another guard chased him, pistol in hand. The guard she was fighting attempted to take advantage of the distraction to strike her throat, but she dodged, swatted his blade aside, and shattered his noase with her fist. "Looks like he's in trouble again." "We 'ave our own problems right now," Harold said, slashing a guard across the chest. Leaning over the man, he snatched the keys off his belt. Turning to prisoners who were still in chains, he said, "Here lads, make yerself useful," and tossed them the keys. The scene of what once was a mass execution had turned into a rout as prisoners clashed with guards. The one shooting at Ian paused to inspect the chaos, and Ian used that moment to gain some distance. He spotted a guard attempting to arm the cannon as an alert and hit him with a flying knee strike. The guard's head bounced off the side of the cannon and he crumpled off the wall. "No need to bother your bosses just yet," Ian said, continuing his run. "Halt!" Bates yelled, and Ian turned to see him standing on the ground, his own pistol drawn. Three other guards joined him, all training their weapons on the boy. Ian glanced down below the platform, then smiling, said. "I'm standing over 1000," he corrected himself as he noticed the incredulous looks on the guards' faces, "100, okay a lot of gunpowder below me. Do you really wish to risk sending a spark there?" Bates lowered his pistol and the other guards followed. Then, they pulled out their swords and approached the stairs Ian had been running to. Ian spun around to find more guards behind him. Jade stabbed another guard and stood back-to-back with Harold. "Don't know about you, but I think we've 'bout overstayed our welcome." "Aye, by afar," he agreed. "Where's the way out?" "Here," Tamy shouted, lowering the drawbridge. "You leavin' or you plan to stay fer tea?" The three started through the doorway when Jade turned and looked up the wall. "Ian!" They saw him standing atop the wall with guards on both sides. The guards all held swords while Ian only held his shackles. Harold grabbed her arm. "What're you plannin,' to fight 'em all?" Ian looked around for any chance to escape, but guards surrounded him on the wall and others stood ready below near piles of wood, straw, and gunpowder. Then, noticing a torch on the wall, he grabbed it and stood directly over the gunpowder. "He's mad!" Tamy said. "He's daft!" Harold said. "He's Ian," Jade observed. Bates' eyes went wide. "You wouldn't. No sane man would." "You're right," Ian agreed, and dropped the torch, right into the gunpowder. Panicking, guards on both sides of Ian turned and took off running. On the ground, guards and prisoners stopped fighting, and bolted as well. Then the pile exploded, engulfing the entire wall in flames. Nearby piles of wood and straw caught fire, and soon, the entire courtyard turned into a chaos of flames and fleeing persons. Jade, Harold, and Tamy darted along the drawbridge before the explosion had occurred. A guard tried to stop them, but Harold and Jade knocked him off the bridge. He fell below and screamed as frightened animals trampled him. "Look!" Harold yelled, and they saw Ian running atop the wall. Seeing them, he looked over the wall but only saw a long drop below. Turning, he looked for a solution and found some rope. Wrapping it around the East India flag, Ian took a step back, then leaped over the wall, using the rope to swing around until he landed before the three. "How in blazes you pull that off?" an astonished Harold asked. "I didn't have many other choices," Ian answered as they took off running. Outside the fort, several men attended to horses and carriages. Jade leaped into the nearest carriage. "What an adorable animal," she said as she shoved the handler out. The other three joined her with Ian grabbing the reins. "You know how to drive this?" Jade asked. Ian held the reins ready, when he stopped for a moment and turned to her. "No, do you?" Behind them, Bates, and several other guards exited the fort. "There they are!" Bates yelled, firing his pistol into the air." "Outta the way, boy," Tamy said as she snatched the reins from him. "Ya!" she yelled, snapping the reins as they took off. "Which way?" Harold asked. "Into the city," Ian answered. Jade looked at him. "The city?" "Harder to shoot us with buildings around," Ian said, watching behind them. "I also need a few things." "By the way," Tamy said. "Thank ye for saving us, ma'am." Jade, still watching behind them, shook her head, "Too young for 'ma'am.' Name's Jade Thorn. And thank him," she said, motioning with her head to Ian. "He started all this." "Let's just say I fear death," Ian said, "and greatly so." "I'm Tamy Houser, bloke with no neck's me husband Harold. You got a name, boy?" "Ian Passer, now cut down that street." Tamy steered a carriage down a side street with some small shops and houses. "Stop here," Ian said, when they were in front of a tiny shop. "St. Agnes Publishers?" Harold asked, reading the sign, but Ian had already disappeared behind the building. They waited for several minutes, noticing lights from torches as guards searched through the small city. "Hurry Ian," Jade said, watching the store. "Halt!" They turned to see three guards standing before them, two pointing pistols and the third holding a rifle. "Drop 'em, madam," the one with the rifle said. Tamy dropped the reins and she and the others held their hands up. Suddenly, Ian emerged with a dagger against an old man's throat. "Drop the guns, gentlemen." The lead guard turned in surprise. "Mr. Cody? Are you okay?" "Drop them," Ian repeated, "or he won't be." The guards lowered their guns as ordered. "Go," Ian said to Tamy. "I'll find you." They disappeared around the corner, leaving Ian, Cody and the three guards. "Why are you doing this, son?" Cody asked. "I took you in and helped you." "That'll teach you who to trust," Ian said. "By the way, I'm taking this as well." He snatched a pouch from Cody's belt. "That's today's sales," Cody said in shock. Ian chuckled. "Pretend it's my advance." He then whispered into Cody's ear, "I just saved your life," and tossed him into the guards. One guard pointed his pistol, but Ian threw his dagger at the guard's hand, sending his shot wide. The boy then threw his shoulder into the guards and vanished down an alley. Tamy threw the reins sideways, making the horses dart down another street. "Any sign of Ian?" Jade, who had been watching every street they passed, shook her head. "Nothing." As if on cue, Ian appeared on the corner. Tamy stopped the horses, and he leaped aboard. "Thatn't very nice what you did to the man." "Mr. Cody?" Ian said. "I figured if they saw me threaten and rob him, they wouldn't be suspicious." Harold looked at him in surprise. "You robbed th' man too?" "Relax," Ian said. "He had several pouches on him. I stole the empty one." He looked at the streets. "Turn into the marketplace." "The marketplace?" Jade asked. "Did ya happen t' notice the lot of people there?" "Exactly," Ian answered, looking behind them. At least two guards had given chase on horseback. "They won't fire into groups of people." As they passed one shop, the sign above it exploded from a gunshot. Everyone in the carriage ducked. "They won' fire at th' people, ya say?" Harold asked. "Did ya forget they wanted to hang all those if they so much as breathed on by a pirate?" Jade asked, pulling out a pistol she had found on the carriage. She fired, and one guard's horse reared in horror, throwing the guard through a shop window. The other paused to check on his companion. "That'll by us a moment, go!" "We're runnin' out of street, friends," Tamy said as they rounded a corner and cut through another alley." "Turn at the' next street," Jade said. "I have an idea." "The woods?" Ian asked, but she just looked at him. Bates led his horse through the marketplace and to the end of the road until he found his guards standing behind the now-abandoned carriage. "Report." "They left the horses behind," Charles said. "They must have made a run through the woods." Bates examined the row of trees for a moment. "Charles, Scott, go after them. Archer and I'll circle around the trees. They can only run in so many directions." The guards took off on their searches, with Bates and Archer leading their horses around the outside of the woods. None of them, in their search, noticed the tiny rowboat and its four passengers that had just entered the bay.