"Nothing. The final hope has failed us."
Barbossa doesn't just say the words. He means them. Calypso has rejected them, even after he fulfilled his part of the deal and freed her from the bonds that the first Brethren Court had forged. And without her help, against Beckett's fleet and the Dutchman, there's nothing they can do.
"It's not over."
He hears Elizabeth's words clearly in the unnatural calm that surrounds both opposing fleets. Her next words are Jack's, even if she isn't aware, and Barbossa won't be a pawn on Jack's bid for immortality.
"Revenge won't bring your father back, Miss Swann. And it's not something I'm intending to die for..."
So what then? Mutiny and escape? A life of running, trying to outrun the world? Are you going to take the same route you berated Jack for not too long ago?
Elizabeth speaks, but he hardly hears her words, lost in his own thoughts. What he saw in Calypso's gaze was hatred. Pure and simple hatred. But they are still afloat, and this unnatural calm stretches on. Maybe... Maybe there is something else she wants. And then Barbossa remembers Turner's words right as the binding spell on the goddess was broken, and somewhere at the back of his mind, pieces start to fit together.
"And they will see what we can do... By the sweat of our brows, and the strength of our backs, and the courage of our hearts!"
Barbossa looks up, hearing his own words in her mouth, and the fire in them, and the meaning of them which is both the old one and a new one at the same time. Mutiny would be impossible now. She is beautiful, and passionate, and desperate, and men will follow her to their deaths without hesitation. For the first time since he met her at Port Royal, he feels genuine respect for her. It takes more than mere will to turn your desperation into true courage. It takes grit, and experience. This is the change he has been foreseeing for a long time now. The change he even tried to encourage.
"Gentlemen, hoist the colours"
As the men cheer and the order runs along the pirate fleet like a flash-fire, Barbossa stays calm. Despite their enthusiasm, he still realizes just how little chance they have. Slowly he makes his way to the quarterdeck, to stand at the railing overlooking the main deck together with Turner and Miss Swann. This may be the last chance he gets of giving the Pearl a good look.
Suddenly the rain starts. Thunder and lightning shatter the unearthly silence and the water starts to churn. The two flagships start forwards, blown by a wind every bit as unnatural as the previous calm. Barbossa pulls back from the others, leaning on the board to ponder. A plan. He needs a plan, but it eludes him. How can he prepare a plan, when there is nothing to hold on to?
It was hatred, yes, but… Was it towards us? Was it –just- towards us? Or was it something else? She smiled, at first, after all. Just like the sea, is she? A harsh, unforgiving, whimsical mistress, and even when you think you know her like the back of your hand, she keeps a nasty surprise or two for you. And who else does she hate? Beckett…? No, that kind of man is beneath her contempt. She could sweep him and his fleet away with but a wave of her hand, a toss of her hair. No, it must be someone who is beyond her power to hurt and…
Of course. That’s what Turner’s words meant, right? She loved him once, and he betrayed her. And, as Jack would put it, she’s “A woman scorned like which fury Hell hath no”. So maybe… Maybe she wants him dead. But if she does, shouldn’t she help us? Then again, the favourable wind… But we can’t win such a fight. So what, Calypso? Is this just a divine tantrum and we the toys you will shatter to satisfy your anger?
Jack. Of course. We can’t win the fight and as things are now, Jack doesn’t stand a chance to find the heart and stab it. He needs chaos aboard the Dutchman, and that’s where we come in, isn’t it, Calypso? We fight a doomed battle to provide distraction, Jack stabs the heart and Davy Jones dies, whether to satisfy your vengeance or so you can once again reach out and hold him I don’t care.
Because, captain of the Dutchman or not, Jack would never sink the Pearl. And he will be bound to his new ship. So the key is to bring chaos and distraction to Jones and his ship as quickly as possible, so Jack can do his part, all of it –before- we get ourselves blown apart, right?
Overwhelming odds if I guess right, and certain death if I don’t. I’m going to need a little sign, Calypso.
And right then Gibbs’ voice raises over the din of the storm.
Barbossa looks down at his hand, observing the play of bone and muscle, the skin, the long fingers which so perfectly follow every command of the mind. Even without the vast whirlpool that now sinks before them, this would be every sign he needs of Calypso’s power and her reasons to bring him back. Even the gods need someone to tie all loose ends together and come to the right idea, don’t they?
“Captain Barbossa! We need you at the helm!”
The face he turns towards Elizabeth is sombre, almost like unto a skull in its deathly stillness. Then, all of a sudden it animates into a ferocious grin… Or a savage scowl, eyes a-glint with a mad energy.
“Aye, that be true!”
He all but shoves Cotton away from the wheel and as he gets a hold of it, his voice rises above the storm, deep and grating and rich.
“Raise up yards, ye gaggle of deck-apes!”
He can feel Turner and Elizabeth’s eyes on him, but that doesn’t matter now. All it matters now is that the Pearl faces a fight that no one can win, a battle that no other man would dare enter, and that once again, he must bluff on an empty hand, only this time the enemy holds a full hand in one pincer and a loaded gun in the other.
The words come to his lips unbidden and without conscious thought. They’re just what the very bottom of his black heart feels now. A life lived fully, and a death worth telling around the world, wherever sailors will meet, now and till forever. Can anyone ask for more?
Well, of course. To come to this end at the helm of the Black Pearl.
“Dying is the day worth living for!”