Chapter 15: Hope Lives On
It had been three days since Blackhorn had marooned them on the island and yet all those Blackhorn threw overboard were still alive, though they have been starving and the only water they had was from the salty sea around them they never faltered, even though all hope seemed lost.
"You know I never thought it would end like this," T-Cog said as he stared out to sea, rubbing his naked stumps. "I never would have thought that I would be left to die on an island beach…again, at least I have you all to keep me company this time."
"Don't say such zings T-Cog," Gem said placing a hoof on his shoulder. "We'll think of something,"
"Like what Gem?" Slash said as he walked up to them. "Let's face it, we've hit rock bottom, we have no food, we have no fresh drinking water, and what's worse is that the Golden Alicorn's gone… along with its Captain."
Those last words almost made Slash break down into tears, it had been almost three weeks since it happened and Jack Silver’s passing still burnt a hole it his heart, as it did with everyone else.
"Aye," T-Cog sighed. "And once again the world feels less bright, but what we must not forget that while we may mourn for Jack, Marina and all our other shipmates, Shimmer is the one who is feeling the most pain."
This was indeed true, as Slash and Gem looked towards the other end of the beach they saw Shimmer who was staring towards the ocean, tears streaming all across her face and staining her vest. Everyone they felt so sorry for her, not only had she lost her mother before she ever got the chance to know but now she had lost both her parents.
"Poor girl," Slash said as he too began to cry. "And Rummy's doing no better, he's been lying down on his back ever since we reached shore, all he ever thinks about is Fluttershy."
"Can ya blame him?" T-Cog asked. "Blackhorn has ruined everything for us, he took away our home, our Captain, and now he's taking all our friends to their doom, he won't stop until he believes he's found vengeance, even then he'll probably kill them after he's done."
"Don't say zat!" Gem said. "Look I may not be as smarter zan any other pony here but I know we can’t just sit here and do nozing, we have to find a way off zis island!"
"To what point Gem!?!" Slash snapped. "Unless you've got a rudder and a lot of sails hidden in that mane of yours, I doubt we'll be getting off this island anytime soon!"
"I'm TRYING to be optimistic Slash," Gem growled in anger. "Not zat tiny little of brain of yours would understand zat,"
"Well at least I don't look like skunk!"
"Why you miserable little…"
Before any pony knew it Slash and Gem were fighting each other in massive tussle, while Slash bit and clawed at Gem she retaliated with a few whacks to his face and body. It was only until Shimmer stomped over and clunked their heads together that the fighting finally stopped.
"THAT'S ENOUGH!!!" she screamed. "Fighting isn't going to help any pony!"
"He started it!" Gem said rubbing the gash Slash left on her cheek.
"I don't care who started it!" Shimmer snapped. "For crying out loud, if my father could see us right now then he would be ashamed of all of us!"
It was at those words that made every pony hang their heads in shame, even Dripfang and Big Rummy who were further up the beach felt more terrible than they already did.
"Look, I know everything that's happened has taken its toll on us," Shimmer continued, choking back more tears. "Believe me, I'm devastated for what Blackhorn has done but my Father wouldn't have wanted us to just sit here and wait to die, he'd want us to carry on and make sure that he didn't die in vain."
"But what can we do Shimmer?" Dripfang said as he and Big Rummy walked towards the group.
"I don't know," Shimmer said honestly. "But we can't stay on this island any longer than we already have nor can we give up hope, you all know that that would be an insult to Marina and my Father's memory."
Hearing this every pony knew what Shimmer was saying was true, it was within her they saw why the seventh Element of Harmony chose Jack in the first place and it was because of that reason that they now had a serious look on their faces.
"Your right Shimmer," T-Cog said. "I may not have all me limbs but may the sea take me if I even think of letting my Captain down now."
"Aye," Dripfang added. "It's gonna take more than a clip of my wings to stop me from doing my duty to the Alicorn."
Shimmer was astonished, while hope seemed to have been given up those who stood before her were still willing to fight even to the bitter end, even Slash was moved by Shimmer's speech, so much so that he was the next to speak.
"For Jack," he said holding out his claw.
"For Marina," Gem placing her hoof on it.
"For the Alicorn," T-Cog said holding out his own.
"For our friends," Big Rummy added.
"For our family," Dripfang corrected him.
Finally it was Shimmer's turn to speak.
"For Hope," she finished as she placed her hoof.
It was a dramatic moment, a moment of which Jack would have been proud to see, as they all proudly looked at each other with a new reassurance each gained some of the hope they had lost, finally Slash spoke up.
"But how are we going to get off this island?" he asked, snapping everyone back into reality. "The only trees here are two palms and that's not even enough to make a raft, plus there's no telling if any ship would… what the heck is that?"
Looking towards where Slash was pointing, there saw something strange washing up amongst the waves, it appeared to be a hat, one that every pony recognised.
"It.. It can't be," Shimmer said as she ran over towards the sea and picked the hat up in her hooves. "This… this was Marina's."
"It must have drifted here on the current from Burmuleda," T-Cog added.
Suddenly it wasn't the hat that took ever pony's interest, in a matter of seconds a red scarf washed up towards Shimmer, a red scarf that was also Marina's. At first seeing these garments only made them think of their fallen friend but all of a sudden they began to do something unexpected, as the waves twisted and turned beneath her, the hat and scarf suddenly jerked out of Shimmer's hooves and splashed down into the water which began to shape itself into something that they thought they would never see again, a pony with gentle, purple eyes, a seaweed mane and a fanged smile that they were all too happy to see.
"MARINA!!!" Shimmer screamed as she pulled her friend into a tight embrace. "YOU’RE ALIVE!!!"
No pony could believe it, only a short while ago they saw Marina get blasted away by Blackhorn's magic, and yet here she stood smiling back at them. As they all gathered around her, the group wanted to know how Marina could possibly be there.
"Oh please," she answered them. "Do you have any idea how many times THAT has happened to me? No matter how many times they try to kill me, as long as there's but a single drop of me left I can always come back."
This explanation was brief but no pony cared, they were just happy to see their Kelpie friend again.
"Oh Marina it's so good to see you," Shimmer said as she gave her another hug.
"Oh it gets better," Marina said with a smile.
Seeing the confused look I every pony's face, Marina turned towards the water and her eyes shone a brilliant white, she was performing another piece of her magic. As every pony looked towards the sea they saw something that made their hearts tremble in fear and yet shake with joy at the same time. In a matter of moments, just a few yards away from the beach, a whirlpool appeared, as if a giant plug had just been pulled from the seabed, suddenly a long wooden pole began slowly rise from the heart of it, then came the rigging, then the deep red sails, to every pony's astonishment the ship attached to those all too familiar sails finally rose up from the water, a ship that they all were happy to see…
"The…the Golden Alicorn?" Slash whimpered in amazement. "Am I going mad or is my good eye playing tricks on me?"
"No Slash its real," Shimmer said as she cried tears of joy. "But I thought Blackhorn blew it up,"
"Oh he did," Marina smirked. "But someone thought it would be best if we made repairs before we arrived."
And before any pony could ask who, the one she was talking about jumped off the side of the ship and waded towards the beach. As the pony walked closer and closer towards them, every pony couldn't believe their eyes for this was a pony they believed lost, a dark blue pony with a silver mane and beard and a skull-and-cross-bone Cutie Mark.
"Hello all," he said suavely. "Did you miss me?"
"D…daddy?" Shimmer said, still crying.
Indeed it was her father, the same pony who had been their Captain and had kept their family together for years… Jack Silver was alive.
"DADDY!!!" Shimmer screamed as she ran up to him and pulled her father into a tearful embrace, causing them both to fall back into the water.
"Now there's something you haven't called me in years," Jack laughed as he tearfully hugged his daughter.
Needless to say Jack received the same reaction from the rest of his crew, each of them wanting to hug him out of pure happiness.
"But how is this possible?" T-Cog asked. "We saw the explosion ourselves."
"Have you forgotten what my reputation is made of?" Jack asked with a smile, enjoying the looks of confusion in their gaze. "I always make sure there is an illusion for an escape, the trick is to make them watch this hoof…"
Jack then gestured his left hoof and then suddenly switched it with his right to reveal a golden, gem encrusted gauntlet.
"…Instead of this one."
"The Element of Hope!" Slash squealed. "But you said that…"
But one look from Jack's smile stopped Slash in the middle of his sentence.
"You sly son of a seadog!" he said cheerfully. "You hid that thing before we even came on deck didn't you?"
"Indeed I did," Jack smirked. "It takes more than some ball of dark magic to take out an Element of Harmony, especially when it’s coming from a broken horn, after getting hit with that blast I managed to take out the Element and hide it up my sleeve before Blackhorn even spotted my movements. After that little hint that Blackhorn gave me before he left I managed to use a little protection spell before the ship even began to rumble."
"But how did you find us?" T-Cog asked. "And what about your wounds and the ship? Not even you have that kind of magic to repair something so fast."
"That would be because of this," Jack said as he held up the seventh Element of Harmony. "As it turns out some of the many features it DOES have is the power to locate loved ones and of course heal recent injuries, it helped me rebuild the Alicorn in a matter of minutes, heal my ribs and of course it can also do… THIS!"
All of a sudden Jack thrust the Element forward and a blast of white light burst out of it directly towards Dripfang and T-Cog, to their amazement, they felt movement on their backs again, turning their heads they saw their wings had magically grown back.
"By the heavens of the seven seas!" T-Cog said in astonishment, "Me wings!!!"
"And while I may not be able to give you back your other limbs my old friend," Jack continued as he rummaged through his coat. "I can still return THESE to you."
At those words Jack levitated T-Cog's lost peg leg and hook out of his pocket and reattached them to his body, needless to say T-Cog was quite happy to see "ol' Betsy" again.
"Now I believe we've wasted enough time here, don't you?" Jack said as he turned back toward the ship. "We must catch up to Blackhorn's ship before it's too late for our friends… All aboard lads! Shore-leave is over!!!"
Proudly following their Captain's command, every pony followed him into the water and began to climb up the side of the ship and onto the deck, as they gathered, Jack walked up to the upper deck and spoke to them.
"My friends," he said. "We all know Blackhorn intends to travel to Equestria and by Celestia if that is where he's going then that is where we shall go! The Harmony Bearers may not have started out like us but none the less we shall do what it takes to save them and the rest of our friends and by Celestia we will give back what is rightfully theirs in the process!"
Jack then held up a small bag which every pony knew had to be the other Elements of Harmony, apparently Marina had managed to recover from the sea after her apparent death. However while Slash was happy to hear his Captain's voice again he had to point something out.
"But sir," he said. "We're already three days behind and there are only eight of us, even if we reach them in time we'll be seriously outnumbered."
Hearing this Jack took a deep breath and spoke again.
"My friends," he said. "While it is true that we will be outnumbered, outgunned, and our enemies would surely kill us if given the chance, we have something that they will never have… Friendship, Honour and Hope! This Element of Harmony didn't choose me alone, it chose all of us, I only wear it because I lead you! And when our enemies see our faces they will go running for the hills because it will be at that moment that they will know what we can do! So what are we? Frightened bilge-rats or warriors!?! Warriors of hope! Of freedom! Of true friendship! My friends… Hoist the colours."
Inspired by Jack's valorous words, every pony repeated them out of pure pride, finally T-cog spoke.
"Aye," he said. "We got the wind on our side lads and that all we'll need!"
Suddenly the deck exploded with the sounds of every pony's cheer, as they all raised their glorious banner up above the sails, Jack called out again.
"That’s right, hoist the colours!!!" he screamed. "Hoist the colours and full canvas! We sail for Equestria!!!"#
The trip may have taken a few weeks but none the less all on board the Golden Alicorn kept their heading, since they knew where Blackhorn was going Jack and his crew worked night and day to keep the ship on course, only catching a few hours of sleep between them, not only since they all knew the importance of reaching their destination but also because they knew the Crew aboard the Black Death would most likely be doing the same thus increasing their speed. The Alicorn passed through the Miser territory with ease since they were lucky enough to pass through without running into another storm, hopefully Blackhorn’s ship wasn’t as lucky, though at the same time everyone hoped the storm didn’t sink the ship but instead just slow them down. Finally after what seemed like an eternity the Golden Alicorn reached the boarders of Equestria, stopping only a few miles off shore to avoid being spotted. However little did they realise, they were already too late.
The town of Ponyville there was utter chaos, making port before the sun even rose, Blackhorn led his entire crew onto shore with the prisoners in the brig, leaving no one on board the ship save its previous Captain. Apparently Blackhorn felt that there was no need to leave anyone else there since he believed the ship’s new magical defences impenetrable. Blackhorn then had his crew take the prisoners and travelled to Ponyville where they ravaged the entire town while every pony was still asleep in their beds, it was only fortunate that Blackhorn ordered his crew not to harm any pony as he believed they would prove more useful as hostages. Binding every pony in ropes and chains Blackhorn’s crew gathered them all in the centre of town. As they all waited fear filled their hearts, not just of the pirates themselves but also the fact that they had no idea what they planned to do with them. Finally Blackhorn spoke.
"Bring the others," he said.
Acting upon their Captains command a group of his crew took the Mane Six, the Cutie Mark Crusaders and what was left of Jack Silver’s crew and threw them into the crowd. Although they were happy to see they're friends and family again, the Mane Six and the Cutie Mark Crusaders shared everyone else's fear, in fact both they and Jack’s crewmembers feared their captors more than any pony.
"W… what are you gonna do to us?" Spike whimpered.
But those words only made Blackhorn chuckle.
"Well if you must know little dragon, while I find your cutesiness sicking to look at I need to keep all of you here," he said. "One cannot simply walk into another country and demand the life of one of its citizens, so naturally it would only make sense to have some… insurance. After hearing about how defenceless this town was from some of our dear departed friends I found that this place would be perfect to take over, you shall all be our hostages until that Princess of yours gives me Gilda the Griffin, if she doesn't… well let's just say Ponyville shall soon be renamed Gory-Ville. Oh, and in case you were wondering why I brought Jack’s old gaggle of misfits here, well let’s just say I’m under the impression that dear Celestia regards ALL life into account and not just her subjects thus making my threat seem a bit more effective, if she doesn’t… well at least then I’ll something for target practice.”
At those words Jack Silver’s crew then cringed in fear.
“Oh and if any pony tries to escape,” Blackhorn continued. “If I see so much as one wing flap or horn glow that pony shall be killed on sight. By now your Princess would have heard about our little raid and already her armies will be gathering around the town however if she wants to keep any of you alive she will co-operate, if not there shall be one less town to worry about."
At those words every pony shook in fear, some even cried, only Twilight seemed to find the courage to speak again.
"And after you finally get your revenge what then!?!" she snapped in anger. "When you get your vengeance what do you plan to do!?!"
"Ha! What I'm made to do!" Blackhorn said with an evil smile. "Don't you see? I was destined to become Captain of the Black Death, it was fate that I should give into its wondrous evil, when all this is over I shall take to the entire ocean, every sailor I come across will fall victim to my wrath."
Hearing this Twilight couldn't help but feel sick.
"You're insane!" she snapped.
"Of course I am," Blackhorn chuckled. "But that's what tragedy does to ponies."
It was at that moment neither Twilight nor any pony else could listen to Blackhorn's words, they were all too depressed and hopelessly lost to even care anymore. While Blackhorn turned his back to talk to his crew Twilight shed tears of sorrow.
"I'm so sorry guys," she sobbed. "I should have stopped Jack back in Canterlot, if I did then none of this would have happened."
"Don't say that Sugarcube," Applejack said wrapping her hoof around her. "It ain't yer fault."
"It's no pony's fault," Rainbow Dash added. "Even if Jack didn't begin that adventure Blackhorn would have invaded anyway, you can't blame yourself Twilight."
"But look what's happened," Twilight argued. "Our home's been ravaged and our friends are gone, Jack and his crew may not have been lawful ponies but they didn't deserve what happened to them by a long shot, if anything they should have been rewarded for their kindness, in my opinion they were the best friends a pony could ask for."
"Well said Twilight," Rarity said.
"Here-here!" Pinkie Pie added.
It certainly was a moving choice of words on Twilight’s part, if any pony would have given Jack Silver or any member of his crew a eulogy that would have been the perfect thing to say. Listening to Twilight’s speech, each member of Jack Silver’s remaining crew thought back to when they first met their Captain, each of them trying to put on a gentle smile as they did. Suddenly the Mane Six heard a voice from behind them, the Golden Alicorn’s Doctor though still very weak from his injuries had miraculously managed to stay alive long enough to last the trip back, apparently he was just as good as fixing himself up as he is with other creatures, he seemed to be whispering something, however as everyone near him tried to listen more closely they realised he was actually singing.
"Yo ho, all hands, hoist the colours high,
Realising what he was trying to do, all those who remained of Jack Silver’s slowly joined the poor Diamond Dog in his melody.
"Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die
As those words echoed throughout the town, every pony found themselves surrounded not by captive pirates, but loyal buccaneers still hanging on to their hope. Apparently Jack Silver’s Element truly did reside not just within himself but also with his crew as well, realising what was keeping the pirates going in this dark hour, the Mane Six and Cutie Mark Crusaders smiled and decided to join them in song.
"Yo ho, haul together, hoist the colours high
Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die!!!"
As all who served under Jack Silver repeated those words over and over again, eventually every Stallion, Mare Foal and Diamond Dog found themselves chanting the pirates’ song, giving them hope with every syllable. Blackhorn turned then towards the hostages, at first with a look of irritation but then after one of his crewmembers whispered something in his ear he suddenly obtained an evil grin.
"SILENCE!!!” He screamed, once again grabbing everyone’s attention. “It would seem that princess of yours is not as grand as they say, I have just been informed by one of my scouts that Celestia has told him that Gilda has not been seen here for quite some time."
"It's true," Rainbow Dash pointed out. "No pony has seen her since she last came to Ponyville, and that was a long time ago."
Needless to say Blackhorn was not happy to hear this, in fact the redness in his eyes literally began to blaze with anger.
"Then we will have to make sure that she is found," he growled. "BRING THE ALICORN!!!"
Instantly reacting three of the pirates rushed over to the hostages and went for Twilight, they then dragged her away from the crowd and threw her before Blackhorn.
"If Celestia doesn't bring me that Griffin I shall have this done to another pony upon every hour I wait!" he announced to the crowd. "TRAMPLE HER!!!"
"NO!!!" the Mane six screamed in horror.
But it was no use, as all three of the pirates stood up on two legs and readied themselves to trample Twilight to death she looked back at her friends with tear soaked eyes, finally all she could do was close them and wait for the beating, but it never came. To every pony's surprise, the third pirate that was about to trample her instead delivered two huge kicks to the other two, knocking them out.
"That treachery is this!?!" Blackhorn snapped.
"Treachery is what you do Blackhorn…" the pirate said as he turned towards him.
Suddenly a magical green flame engulfed the pirate and in his place was a black skinned, single horned creature whom every pony recognised as the Changeling, Dripfang.
"…WE do not betray our friends!"
It was surprising to both Blackhorn and the other ponies, how could this be possible? Suddenly Dripfang's appearance wasn't the only thing drawing every pony’s attention, in a matter of moments several other ponies snuck up from behind a small group of Blackhorn’s pirates and knocked them out, ponies who the Mane, Cutie Mark Crusaders and Pirates all easily recognised, Shimmer, T-Cog, Gem La Stone, Big Rummy, even Slash made his dramatic appearance to the crowd, no pony could believe their eyes.
"How in blazes did you all get off that island!?!" Blackhorn snapped in anger. "Tis impossible,"
"You should know by now that anything is possible for those who sail upon the Golden Alicorn dear quartermaster," Shimmer smirked. “But I’m afraid it’s not US you need to worry about.”
Blackhorn’s face then twitched with confusion, he would have responded with a question had he not been suddenly tripped up by a massive gush of water erupting from Marina's mouth and slamming him to the ground.
"WHAT!?!" Blackhorn screamed in bewilderment as he stood up, suddenly staring at Marina’s smirking face in fear. "But…but this is…"
But Blackhorn suddenly froze in terror after feeling a small tap on his shoulder, turning to look behind him he was met with a horrifying sight. There before his eyes and the eyes of the astonished hostages was the smiling, bearded face of Captain Jack Silver.
"Hello Blackhorn," Jack said. "Do you miss me?"
"N…no!" Blackhorn stuttered in fear. "I…it’s impossible! Y…your d…dead!"
"I’m afraid that’s where your… wr…wr…WRONG!!!" Jack said mockingly. "You should know by now that I'm not so easily killed Blackhorn. Oh you've had your fun up until now dear quartermaster but now it's time for you pay the price for what you have done."
"NO!" Blackhorn screamed as he ran towards his crew. "KILL THEM!!! KILL THEM ALL!!!"
Seeing the look of determination in Jack's face and in the faces of his own crew, Blackhorn's pirates were at first reluctant to even move due to the dread filling their entire bodies, however they knew they couldn't defy their Captain's command. As Blackhorn’s pirates got closer and closer towards Jack and his group of misfits, Jack simply remained calm and spoke.
"Take up arms my friends," he said calmly as he drew his sword. "And fight…FIGHT!!!"