|||||Queen: I want it all||]|
Title: The Prince
Characters: Beckett, Sparrow
Summary: Lord Cutler Beckett's worst nightmare, written for the Halloween challenge at pirategasm.
Walt Disney makes sure no money's to be had;
we're shaken to our bones.
The film is not ours
and by the powers
he's who this all owns.
Yo ho, hoist disclaimers
and avoid the fine!
Read ho, thieving writers,
never say "It's mine".
Squidface put to his place and the Swann sen. problem delegated, Lord Cutler Beckett retired to his (formerly the captain's) cabin and relaxed at his desk with some quality port and a leather-bound volume of Machiavelli's works. Reading the well-worn pages all over again calmed his nerves, and reassured him that he'd made the right decisions. If you cannot be loved, then be feared. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Eliminate competitors. It was all about the business after all. But drowsy from the oft-read words, Beckett's wine-fogged mind drifted in an unusual direction. Had Machiavelli not spent quite some time in gaol, and died friend- and pennyless? After a mediocre clerk career, brought to an end by a real principe from the old and noble family di Medici? And that made him an expert how? What if it all, what if it all, was ...
Cold. Gloomy, dark; and fog-tendrils retreating down towards the river Thames. Marching bootsteps on the black, glistening cobblestones, flushing up the ravens from the Tower's greens; and the iron manacles on Cutler's wrists were heavy. Hoarsely croaking, the carrion birds flew off into the night, but one dropped in passing from its beak a shiny piece of eight, which spun lazily towards the ground, where it danced jangling on the trodden pavement like a spindle of fate come loose. Woodlice scrambled to safety in the cracks. A sepulchral bell was ringing far away. In the Tower yard, the hangman's axe stuck in the block, rusty from old bloodstains, and the wolves were howling in their cages, joined by whining from the inmates in the dungeon, who stretched their bony, rag-clad claws out through the bars.
From somewhere off, a bodyless towncryer's voice was to be heard: "Habeas corpus - suspended. The right to legal counsel - suspended. Jury of peers - suspended."
The audience room was gloomy too, but had a fire crackling in the fireplace. Cutler felt quite naked and rooted standing there before the king, who droned on and on about some disappointment, EITC tax fraud, and the late Weatherby Swann. What really captured his attention was the figure lounging in the other armchair to the king's right, that smirking scoundrel with his gold-toothed grin, his hair finely combed out like in the old days back in Oxford, and the pirate garb exchanged for some of those tight-fitting clothes in midnight-black that were the fashion at the Spanish court. The reprobate had one leg slung lascivously over the armrest, and his right hand was resting suggestively close to ... but, there was a noose dangling from the index finger, with a little toy figure tied into it, swinging back and forth.
"In ahdition to zat, you shall be relieved of all your titles."
Mentally, Cutler went: "What?"
"You haff met here our new ally, the right honourable Diego Cortez. We vill support his claim to ze Mexicanisan crown. He hass altso brought to our attention ze amount off your betrayal: your conspiracy to detrone us and obtain world domination."
Two servants carried in the portrait of Lord Cutler Beckett he'd commissioned only recently, which showed him tall and muscular, wearing a cloak of ermine, holding a sceptre and the world in his hands.
"Ant zat iss not all. We haff vritten record off all your proceedinks here at hand. Agent 008!"
From somewhere in the back, Mercer appeared, presenting stoic-facedly a stack of maps, scrolls and documents. That Mercer of all people would betray him, the man whose loyalty had always seemed beyond question! Of course, if his loyalty had been with someone else in the first place, all bets were off.
As dreams went, this was the time for Cutler to notice that he was dressed in ladies' undergarments, a bodice, and straps with thigh-high stockings. "Still the ladies' man, aren't you, 'Becky'?" his all-time rival's low voice whispered in his ear, oh, and how it hurt. Ever since that shameful night at Magdalen's College, Beckett had never dared so much as look at a corset openly again. He tried to say something in his defense, but did not produce a single sound, while drowning in those enigmatic eyes, the littley toy figure swinging in its noose between them like a hypnotist's pendulum.
"Ant all your titles and belongings are forfeit and shall be seized by ze crown."
Two officers hauled him away, to run the gauntlet between ladies of the court, who were giggling, pointing fingers at him, patting on his head and indicating a very small size between thumb and index finger, while shamelessly flounting their cleavage at the two larger males who were pushing him forward. The womenfolk finally left behind, Cutler was seized firmly by his arms, and recognized through tear-filled eyes officers Groves and Greitzer, of all people. "After all I did for you, no longer half-pay rear lieutenant Theo? Tu quoque, Adrian? It wasn't personal that I promoted others before you, I needed Norrington's support, you see, what with the heart and all he'd learned about high magic."
They pushed him into a dark, dank cell, illuminated only by one ray of moonlight from the barred window high up in the wall. With a floor-shaking clang, the cell-door was flung shut behind him, and the key turning in the lock resounded like the grim clockmaker winding up a poor sod's measurement of life one final time. In the ensueing silence, wet sucking noises sounded from the far corner of the cell. Tentacles crept into the moonlight, glistening with slime, pulsating, curling, seeking contact. Cutler turned around, not wanting to face the monstrous captain who was out for revenge, for he had heard enough about what even ordinary human prisoners would do to one another if the guards were out of earshot, and seen the evidence thereof (and used this inclination of more depraved souls to interrogate others, on occasion) - and bumped into the towering figure of James Norrington, the filthy, rum-soaked fugutive right out of Tortuga, where he'd likely rutted with the most diseased whores this side of the Atlantic. The wrecked man gave him a nasty grin, took him into a near-backbreaking hug, and descended his mouth on him, muddy beard and unbrushed teeth and all.
Cutler jerked awake squealing through tightly clenched lips and rushed up from the desk, accidentally knocking over the inkwell. He was bathed in cold sweat; his neck ached from sleeping on the hard surface of the accursed tome. Frantically and still caught up in his nightmare, he pulled out all drawers and started leafing through the papers, searching for anything inciminating. Then his eye caught the picture on the wall. Sure, it was not as explicit as in his dream, but what would others truely see in it? Better not to take a risk. The letter-opener firmly grasped, lord Beckett cautiously approached his own portrait, when the steward knocked to announce dinner.
It was like the breaking of a trance, as if he'd fully woken up only then, and Beckett felt silly for having been so scared. Back to business. Close the drawers, straighten up appearance, wash hands, change into an ink-free coat. And only (!) tea with dinner.
Later, after dinner, lieutenant Groves (who had apparently acquired Greitzer's grog ration again - really, the lad was not cut out for a career, good-looking though he was) leaned in and asked, his rum-breath tingling Beckett's nose: "Gee, lord Beckett, what do you want to do tomorrow?"
"The same thing we do every day in the EITC - try to take over the world.", Beckett answered. He felt quite like himself again.
Credit for Greitzer's personal name goes to ecchipiro if I remember correctly.
So, run out the guns, load them with pumpkins, light the fudge, and let me know what you think.