Bordeaux! City of beauty, inspiration of Paris, source of exquisite wine! Unfortunately, Captain Hartwell is going to miss all of it.
Taking his crewman, Francois Bardon, home to Bordeaux ought to have been a short journey for the captain and the mysterious Lady Mechatronic, a silver star woman fallen from the skies, but rancorous relatives and an unexpected murder will make this visit to France an unexpectedly fraught experience.
The profoundly unpopular Lady Mechatronic series limps on with The Bordeaux Locked Room Mystery. Containing the fastest ever resolution to a locked room mystery.
Deep within an ancient galleon that rolled lazily on the Caribbean Sea, a silver cyborg busied herself within the ship’s hi-tech control room.
To any casual observer, the woman seemed to be engrossed in numerous brass screens that extended from the wooden ceiling, surrounding her on all sides as she reclined in a wingback armchair. The screens were relaying information on the galleon, including the latest series of upgrades to the structure, weaponry and engine systems by the woman’s nanobots.
In truth, the woman was barely aware of the information scrolling down the screens. She had retreated to the control room simply because very few of the ship’s crew of reluctant pirates ever ventured into this part of the vessel. One exception to this was Susanna, the captain’s sister, who chose that moment to knock and call through the door.
“How are you feeling?”
Mechatronic pulled on a short lever that opened the door, allowing Susanna to walk in. “I am operating within twenty-per cent efficiency,” she replied. “Once the upgrades to the ship have been completed, I can devote more nanobots to my own restructuring.”
“You mean the nanobots are too busy rebuilding the ship to heal any damage you’re still carrying?” asked Susanna after working this out.
“That wasn’t quite what I meant when I asked how you were feeling.”
“I know,” replied Mechatronic. “Your species is curious. You ask a question that is in reality another question completely.” Being an alien, she often missed the hidden meanings in the strange language the natives of the planet used, though she was getting better at it. She came from a savage world in which language was a brusque means of stating intent. Poetry, simile and metaphor were all unheard of in…
Mechatronic closed her thoughts off from the past. All that was over. Here, she could be someone else, be a person, and as such, she could have friends like Susanna.
Susanna smiled. Ignoring the empty chair next to Mechatronic, she instead stood behind the cyborg and leaned over to gently hug her. She felt the silver woman tense slightly before relaxing completely into the embrace. Mechatronic always tensed slightly when arms enfolded her, as though she carried bad memories of physical contact. It hadn’t escaped Susanna’s attention, however, that Mechatronic could now relax far more quickly into a warm hug.
Susanna gently rocked her friend, feeling Mechatronic’s cool silver skin under her hands and her thick silver hair against her cheek, letting several companionable minutes pass before looking up at the screens.
“These are new. What are they for?”
Mechatronic reached out to the controls, pulling a few levers before tapping out a command on the keyboard. “Internal scanners. They will soon be a necessity for locating anything and anyone within the ship, given that it is now dimensionally transcendental.”
“You mean it’s bigger on the inside?”
“I thought it took a long time to get here. On the deck, it takes only a minute or so to walk from one end of the ship to the other, but beneath deck, it takes almost an hour. I timed it with James earlier.”
Mechatronic almost jumped at the reference to the captain, the source of her disquiet. She hastily covered her confusion. “My nanobots technology is still rebuilding the galleon…”
“Using the remains of my own star ship for material, stripping it down molecule by molecule and rebuilding it inside the wooden hull of this sailing vessel…”
“These are the latest innovations to be installed. Internal scanners.”
“I know. You just told me. What does an internal scanner actually do?”
“It can locate a person anywhere on the ship, track any intruder, monitor the weapons and engines or any cargo we may be carrying. It can even give a medical report on any crewmember.” Mechatronic leaned forward, spinning a dial and flicking a few switches. “Here is Pete, in the engine bay, cleaning the relays. You can see that his cybernetic limbs are growing nicely, to replace his lost arm and leg.”
Susanna looked at the infrared image of Lucky Pete, which was accompanied by a readout down one side of the screen which gave information on the rate of limb growth.
“Won’t that be a bit awkward as Pete has a wooden leg and hand? I mean, how can his new limbs grow with those in place? Surely he’ll have to take his prosthetics off to allow the new ones to develop, and then, he won’t be able to walk until the new leg has grown.”
“That is not a problem. The technology is using his wooden leg and hand as the template, reconfiguring the organic matter and fusing it with metal and bone.”
“That’s good,” said Susanna, feeling slightly queasy. She reached forward and spun the dial Mechatronic had used. She somehow knew, courtesy of the technology within her, that if she moved the dial backwards, it would show the last crewmember the scanner, and therefore Mechatronic, had been focussed on.
Mechatronic tried to close the image down but she was too slow. The screen had already solidified to show Susanna’s brother, Captain Hartwell, sitting in his cabin, quietly reading a book, a half-empty bottle of absinthe next to him on his table. As they watched, he finished the glass, stood up and left the cabin, probably to take a walk round the ship.