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When The Stars Speak

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Jack !”

Carina took one look at Henry - the inhuman defiance of gravity as he leapt through the air, the way he landed on one knee and then was up again in the next instant to fight - and she knew it wasn’t Henry anymore. It was nothing like Henry. He moved like a bullfighter, whipping his sword high, aiming it at Jack’s head. His steps were quick, his stance confident, his attack skillfully relentless. 

Captain Salazar had possessed Henry.

He’d possessed him, and now he was using him to kill Jack.

The Trident be all that can save him now , Captain Barbossa’s words sliced through her panic, and she looked towards it, standing upright on the mound of sharp coral. She scrambled up, hoisting her skirts high in an effort to move faster, catching glimpses of the men of the Silent Mary watching her through the walls of water, drawing their swords in alarm as they saw the direction she was headed in; but she could not afford to let herself be distracted.

The Trident hummed as she halted, panting and uncertain, before it; its rough, spiny surface glowing green with phosphorescence, the amber-coloured stone in its head shining brighter, as if welcoming her to take it. 

Squaring her shoulders, she grabbed it with both hands. 

Immediately she felt its power. She felt its age . Whoever had made the Trident, was older even than the floor of the ocean she stood on, and for a moment she could smell the forge it’d been cast in, an otherworldly mix of ozone and sulfur and steam. The Trident tingled against her palms, humming with power, promising things beyond her deepest yearnings - if only she could release it....

Her lips parted in unconscious awe as she tried - and failed - to logically comprehend  the voiceless knowledge that poured into her head: the promise that with the Trident, she would be a warrior, a Queen, a goddess.

And most importantly of all, it whispered, she could honour the memory of her father, soothing that deep ache inside that yearned for a father’s acceptance...

But it was not hers, not yet. Not until she could get it out from the coral. She pushed and pulled and shoved; it did not yield. It had been there for too long, and the stony coral had anchored it firmly into the rock.

Behind her, she heard Jack cry out, and a quick glance confirmed he'd already lost his sword fighting Captain Salazar; had dropped it clumsily in the gritty black sand.

She was running out of time! She shook the Trident harder than ever, managing to lever it out a little, but it still wouldn’t come out all the way.

Would it ever come out? Was it her? No, of course not! But - what if it was? She shook it again; it didn't budge. Did it say something about her, that it wouldn’t come out? Did she have to be worthy, like King Arthur with Excalibur - 

Oh, don’t be ridiculous , she scolded herself furiously. All it needs is more pressure in proportion to the density of the sediment it’s trapped in!

She drew her foot back and gave it a single, strong kick.

The Trident snapped out of its calcified receptacle in a blast of seaspray, and shot through the air, end over end, landing below her on the coral-covered sand.

Stumbling down, she cursed her sodden dress, wrenching it up to stop it tangling between her legs.  She was almost there, she'd just half-slid to her knees, bruising herself to take hold of it -

When another fist closed over the Trident at exactly the same time hers did.

“Henry!?” She exclaimed.

But she’d forgotten - this wasn’t Henry.

She gasped as she looked up into Henry’s - no, Captain Salazar’s glowing red eyes, burning at her through Henry’s familiar ones, and he growled at her.

For a split second, she almost hesitated. She almost let fear win, almost let those fire-coloured eyes make her loosen her hold on the Trident...

But in that same split-second, a strange clarity invaded, and she saw everything she’d been through her whole entire life, right up to this point.

She saw those awful sour-faced girls again, the ones who’d hated her from the orphanage. The way they’d bullied her: stealing her books, tearing up her mattress, tripping her over. She saw the time they viciously stripped her clothes from her back, eager to find where she was hiding the precious uncut ruby from her journal. She remembered the way she’d swiped her cheeks dry and kept silent, even as the harsh nuns had beaten her for being ‘careless’ and ‘destructive’ of her clothes.

She saw again the indignities she’d gone through as a young lady, barely a month out of the orphanage. All those times she’d suffered the sneers and underhand suggestions of weaselly men, who lurked behind her in every library and bookshop she’d ever visited. 

She saw the men who’d looked down their nose at her, in their thick, powdered wigs and even thicker arrogance. She saw the time she’d been forcibly ejected from the Royal Observatory, and then arrested. She saw the eagerness of the gruff London constable, overenthusiastic in his manhandling of the ‘uppity lil miss’, and the slap in the face he’d got for the way his hands had wandered over Carina’s cleavage. She saw again her own hands being yanked into heavy irons, while a gawping crowd of Londoners hissed and booed. She’d had to give up half of her meagre savings to pay off the gaoler to look the other way, so she could slip out before anyone would notice she’d gone.

She saw again how she'd booked the passage to St Martin, she saw again the very last of her coins being placed in the callused hand of the reluctant boatswain, she saw the literal crusts of bread and stale water shoved grudgingly towards her as the ship pulled in to anchor, she saw Scarfield and that hot stinking jail cell and the noose around her neck and everything that followed, and it had all been for the sake of the Trident…

It had all been for her father. 

She saw all of this, in the single split second that she'd looked at those glowing eyes, and she made her decision. She hadn’t fought her entire life to be here, in this moment, just for some Spanish ghost to take it from her. She’d be damned if she was going to let that happen!

“No!” She returned Captain Salazar’s enraged glare with a cold determination of her own. “The Trident is mine!”

She took firmer hold of the Trident in both her hands, unwilling to let him have it.

“Let go of it!” He snarled, jerking it upwards in an attempt to loosen her grasp.

You let go of it!” She retorted, twisting her fingers tighter over the gnarled surface.

The Trident hummed and glowed in their joint possession, and Carina felt its power breach her flesh, like a cold slither of ice water through her bones. The sensation slid fast up her arms, pouring inside her chest, before bursting upwards into her skull: an explosion of liquid ice that made her wince with pain. She squeezed her eyes shut for a fraction, dimly registering that Captain Salazar also grimaced in discomfort - and then she felt the tantalising lure of the Trident, the power it promised, and knew that if she could just have complete control it would do whatever she wanted… 

But it would obey neither of their wills while they both held it. 

“Let go!” He snarled at her, flaking ash cracking through Henry’s skin as Captain Salazar’s curse showed through. 

The Trident vibrated, wisps of water curling and spiralling in strange shapes around them.

“No!” She cried, and wrenched it closer to her chest.

More ripples emanated from the Trident, suspended in mid-air around them. 

“Give - it - to - me!” He twisted his hands around it, planted his boots wide and shut his eyes, and Carina felt the Trident’s power start to course outwards as he attempted to take control of it with his mind alone. His will was savage; powered by a hot, deep rage. She felt it, coming in a broad blow that would have knocked her backwards if she hadn’t also shut her eyes at the same time, and mentally forced her own gritty will back against him.

“No - I - won’t!” 

“¡Eres una mujer irritante!” Came his exasperated cry, but in a deeper, throatier voice than before.

Carina opened her eyes. 

Captain Salazar towered over her, dark hair drifting about his grey cracked face.

She gasped.

He’d used the Trident to dispossess Henry.

Henry had fallen, unconscious, to the black sands at their feet, and she was now face to face with the real El Matador Del Mar: taller, broader and more frightening than ever.

Trying to use her fright to his advantage, he tugged at the Trident, but she dug her heels into the wet sand, and leant back with all her weight. The friction was rubbing her skin raw, and she had to clench her teeth as the sharp surface cut into her tender palms, but she would not give it up.

“I want it - for revenge!” He hissed in frustration, his floating hair whipping wildly between them. “For what do you need it?”

“I’ve been -” She tugged hard, “Searching for this -” Another tug, “My whole life!” Hot blood squeezed out of the cuts on her hand, as they wrestled back and forth over it, “I’m not letting my father down now!”

Even in the midst of their struggle, he seemed to hesitate for a fraction, her sincere words puzzling him.

“Please, just let me have it,” her voice broke in desperation. “You don’t need it, you could just walk away, forget Jack, go and live your life -”

But that was definitely the wrong thing to say, for he jerked the Trident back with such force it lifted Carina clean off her feet and closer to him than she’d ever been, close enough that she could feel his cool breath on her face, feel his sharp medals piercing through her thin dress.

“Life? I have no life! I have nothing, because of the Sparrow!” He shook the Trident in frustration, trying to loosen it from her resolute grasp. “Now let go, chicquita!”

“No!”

Desperation made her reckless. Flailing her legs in mid-air, she managed to kick hard at his shins, causing him to swear in Spanish and buckle, falling down on one knee. 

It was enough for Carina to yank the Trident completely out of his grip and stumble backwards with it.

She had it!

The Trident glowed brightly in her hands, and started to hum in a high-pitched, eerie way; but around her -  time slowed almost to a complete stop.

There was Jack Sparrow, frozen in the moment of peeping out at them with wide eyes, from his hiding place behind a jagged rock. 

There was Henry Turner, his chest just starting to expand for breath, halfway back to consciousness.

And there was Captain Salazar. 

Looking at her in disbelief. While his skin slowly, ever so slowly, in the smallest scientific unit of time possible, started to crumble as he half-knelt on the black sands, his curse the cause of his dissolution.

Then the pernicious ice that had invaded her mind before started to take over, and the pain of it was unbearable.

The Trident wanted… 

It simply wanted .

It wanted, wanted, wanted , greedy as the sea it controlled:  it wanted power and suffering and death and sorrow, wanted to fill her and kill her and then through her fill the world, fill everything with its greed. 

It wanted to fill every being, mortal and immortal, with misery. 

It wanted to smother the whole world in the salt tears of the drowned.

And Carina knew that she was drowning in its power, she was losing herself, it was consuming every part of who she was, who she’d ever been. She could barely feel the tears trickling unchecked down her cheeks, and in the unfathomable anguish of realising that she was losing herself to the Trident she held, she met the eyes of Captain Salazar once more... and saw that he was going to cease existence, he was crumbling into nothingness, even as she was. And he knew that, they both knew that, and it connected them even in that briefest fraction of shared horror.

So she did the only thing she could do.

With a guttural cry from the depths of her soul, she lifted the Trident high above her head, and then smashed it hard on the ground she stood on.

 



Chapter Text

 

Carina stared as the jagged pieces of the Trident tumbled slowly out of her fingers and onto the black sands beneath her feet. Drops of bright blood splattered over them. It was her blood. Her hands were bleeding. Numb and silent, she slowly lifted them up to study the bloodied cuts. Traces of that greenish glow that had covered the Trident now streaked over her palms. 

She watched, curiously detached, as threads of glowing green phosphorescence moved quickly up through the red blood, winding their way inside her skin, moving up her veins, flowing fast inside her body. Within seconds, her pale skin became tinted with a faint bluish-green hue; the sprinkling of freckles she’d bore across her arms all her life faded and disappeared. Her cuts healed over, leaving behind raised white scars on her blue-hued palms. Even her fingernails were now tinged a faint aqua.

She had broken the Trident, but its insidious power had not left. No, the wild, suffocating greed that had nearly drowned her stayed. She could feel its satisfaction, as it sank into every corner and crevice of her bones, languid as a cat that had found a comfortable place in the sun.

The unnatural glow of the remaining pieces of Trident flickered and dimmed, before going out.

But the unnatural glow within her did not.

“Señorita…” A roughened voice interrupted her self-examination. 

Captain Salazar was still on his knees staring up at her, his lips parted, his expression awed.

And she stared back, because like her, he too was changing. 

His cracked, grey skin was fading, his glowing eyes were becoming a rich earthy brown. Even as she watched, his floating hair gained weight, and slowly tumbled down around his shoulders.

And high on his left cheek, she saw that he'd been hit by a piece of the Trident. A glowing chunk of the amber that had been encased in the Trident’s head had pierced through his skin, and blood had already started to well up around it and drip down to his jawline. She held her breath as he reached up, gingerly feeling for the protruding fragment, and drew it out, to stare at it in much the same way Carina had stared at her hands.

For a brief moment, the cut glowed gold, before healing over completely, leaving behind only a pale raised scar, and his eyes looked up to meet hers once more.

Carina let out the breath she’d forgotten she was holding.

Captain Salazar was… was… breathtakingly handsome.

He tilted his head as he looked up at her, a soft murmur of, “Bella…” escaping his lips.

And she felt an answering thrill at the word, though she couldn't really explain to herself why.

But then Captain Salazar suddenly grimaced as if in pain, and fell forward onto his hands.

“Captain - are you - are you alright?” The silly words left her before she could stop them, but he didn’t even seem to have heard her.

He was drawing in a deep breath, like it was the first proper breath into whole lungs he’d had in decades, and she saw the way his fingers dragged through the black sand into tight fists, the way his back tensed with each breath. He looked like he was in pain.

"Captain Salazar?"

For the first time in her life, she wished she knew the appropriate etiquette to address someone like him. She'd never really bothered with manners before - since no one bothered much being polite to an orphan like her -  but now it seemed strangely important that she address him with the respect that he deserved. Especially since he was in, at that moment, a very vulnerable position.

She moved protectively closer, anxiously watching as he stayed on his hands and knees, his shoulders trembling with each new breath he took. He dropped his head down, his dark hair hiding his face from her. Worried that he was ill, Carina gave up all notions of social etiquette and reached a hand down to tentatively touch him on his shoulder. 

The feel of his old, ruined epaulette under her fingers made her realise that although he had been made whole and human once more, his clothing had apparently not shared in his restitution.

“Captain?” She said gently, as his shoulders started to shake. “Captain - are you -”

But he wasn’t shaking from sickness or grief. He was - laughing.

“¡Vivo!” He gasped out. “¡Estoy vivo!”

He sat back unsteadily on his knees, ignoring the hand Carina was still subconsciously offering him, feeling his face and beaming with delight as he realised every bone, every muscle, every sinew and tissue and all of his skin had become whole and perfect again. 

“I am alive!” He shouted at her, his eyes lit with the purest joy; and if she’d thought him handsome before, she knew now she’d been utterly wrong. He wasn’t handsome. He was the most stunning man she’d ever seen.

Captain Salazar’s curse had shattered along with the Trident, and it was obvious to Carina from his reactions that he’d had no idea such a thing had even been possible.

She smiled as he laughed again, pleased for him, and strangely charmed by his unrestrained delight. 

But then she felt that alien presence inside her still; and though she knew the Trident had broken, its power - what it contained - was not gone. If she concentrated, she could still feel it, spreading, circulating, dispersing itself through her entire body...

“Señorita…?” Captain Salazar was slowly rising to his feet, the wonder at his own restored humanity temporarily fading as he stared at her. “Your - eyes… what is - are you...?”

His question remained unfinished, and he looked confused, as if he’d forgotten how to even ask someone if they were feeling well.

When she didn’t reply, he frowned, and looked - of all things - slightly awkward; but she found herself abruptly and oddly disconnected from the present.

Around them, she was dimly aware that she could hear the shouts of Captain Salazar’s men, celebrating their freedom from the curse, but their jubilant shouts and cries of elation sounded… like echoes. Like they were coming from an increasingly great distance away...

She could hear Jack saying something indistinguishable, somewhere nearby.

She could hear Henry’s grunt as he struggled to his feet on the wet sand, and then his slow and muffled words, “All curses at sea are broken...”

She could hear the sound of walls of seawater, and - oddly - the clank of a ship’s anchor chain lowering.

But it all seemed very, very far away, and she realised she was losing herself again. She wasn’t Carina anymore. She couldn’t think, she couldn’t move, she was losing even her ability to make speech. All she could do was lift up her eyes and plead silently with the only man who was paying any attention to her. 

“Señorita?” Captain Salazar stepped hesitantly forward.

Her lips moved in the shape of his name, but her voice would not come.

“Señorita, what is the matter?”

“Carina…?” 

But Henry’s alarmed cry did not register.

All she could concentrate on was Captain Salazar, reaching out for her in concern.

“Stay away from her! Don’t hurt her!” Henry must have been shouting, and yet to her, it was as perceptible as a single raindrop in a storm. “ Carina !”

She pitched forward into Captain Salazar’s arms.

And then -

 

She was floating.

She was rolling.

She was both the nascent Moon and the wild Sea.

She was free.

The lustful tool of the promiscuous god that had bound her for aeons was broken, and she was now free. She was alive. Best of all, she was human, and it exhilarated her.

Reborn of human will and salt-blood, phosphorescence and the sea; she was the luminescent green and the warm aqua; she was the soft rippling song of the Moon on the Waves, the Secret Knowledge of the Stars and the Hidden Depths of the Sea - and she'd already found him. She already had her Earth...

Her Earth was pulling her to himself. She remembered how, long ago, before she'd been taken, before she’d been imprisoned inside the Trident, before her rage had made her want to drown the world in heartache, the Earth had crooned to her. 

She remembered his rich embrace, the way she'd smooth herself across his warm sands, the way he'd turn up rich jewels from his depths, just for her pleasure...

 

“He’s got her!" Someone was shouting. "He’s got Carina!”

Dimly, she wondered who Carina was, before deciding it didn’t matter. 

The smell of her Earth was intoxicating to her, and though she could not seem to open her eyes, as newborn into the world as she was, she could still breathe him in, so she did: inhaling his scent of spice and salt and cedar.

“You presume to interfere, boy?"

“Let her go!”

Someone tried to put hands on her, hands that should not be on her, hands that were trying to tear her Earth away from her.

I will not be parted.

The hands left immediately. “C-Carina?”

“I believe she does not wish for you to touch her,” came the dry response. 

“What’s wrong with her? Why is her skin -?”

“She has fainted, now move out of our way!”

“But -”

“Touch her again boy, and I think you will regret it.”

A harsh metallic clanking sounded, followed by a shout from above them, “Move! Fast!”

A clamour of voices suddenly surrounded them, and she turned her face into her Earth for refuge from the unexpectedly loud noises.

“It's - the Pearl!"

“The sea is closing in!"

“Capitán, we must get to safety! We have no choice but to go with them!"

My Pearl!”

“Captain Salazar, they will kill you rather than let you on their ship, you have to give Carina to me!"

No.”

“You must let me take her -”

There came a sweetly vicious sound, one she had a sudden human recollection of hearing many times before, of a sword singing as it whipped through the damp air. She waited avidly for more.

“Wish for me to remove this obstruction, Capitán?”

“No, no, Lieutenant, there is no need. And we have a Señorita to assist.”

“I know what you’re doing, I know you’re going to use her as - as leverage - just give her to me or I’ll -”

“You really wish to threaten me, boy?” Her Earth started to laugh, and she delighted in the sound of it: the deep baritone that vibrated through her and made her slide weak arms up around his neck.

“This Señorita is irritante, a burden, but as you can see, she has no wish to leave me, and I will not let her go.”

A wordless cry of anger startled her, followed by the sound of metal on metal, and then, “Attack the Capitán again, boy, and I will spill your blood here, even in front of the lady!”

“Uh,” a tentative voice called from a safe distance, “I hate to interrupt, but perhaps - it might be a good idea, if we did all this fighting later -”

“Jack!” The Earth growled, the sound even more delicious than his laugh, and she rested her head happily against him. “Do not believe I have forgotten about killing you, Jack Sparrow!”

“There’s no time! Give her to me, before it’s too late!”

Absolutamente no!”

“Capitán, we cannot stay here arguing!”

“My men and I will come aboard -” His arms tightened around her as he leaned forward, making her smile in delight; it gave her the added pleasure of his soft, damp hair brushing against her cheek. “ - you are in no position to deny us. Her life is in my power."

“You bastard -

"I will only release her once we are safely aboard - and you hand me the Sparrow!”

“Then - then come aboard!” Came the low response, very close, almost a whisper. “Come aboard the Pearl, and I’ll make sure you get Jack for Carina - but only if you do not hurt her!”

The Earth gave abrupt commands at once, and there was a lot of commotion around them, and then she was being hoisted over a shoulder, and though the sudden change in position was surprising, she found she didn't mind. Because she could tell it was still her Earth that held her, so she let herself be carried. 

“Señorita, you are a burden.” Came the Earth’s reproach as he started to move fast with her, each step jolting his shoulder into her hip. “But a life for a life, and since you spared me my existence, I will spare you yours!”

She nodded at that. It seemed only fair. And so long as he stayed with her from now on, she was content.