England has abolished slavery, but not all are willing to let the lucrative trade go without a fight. The Royal Navy is charged with keeping the Caribbean clean of slavers, pirates and privateers… but even in the Navy, there are those who put profit before principle.
Captain James Hartwell rebels against the abhorrent plans of his commanding officer to run a private slave trade. In doing so, he seemingly signs not only his own death warrant but that of his sister and loyal crew. All seems lost, until a blazing fireball hits the ocean.
Escaping on an obsolete galleon, Hartwell must evade the chasing English forces, protect his sister and his crew and deal with his near-overpowering attraction to a flesh and metal woman found floating in the ocean where the fireball fell.
Can they survive on the ancient, rotting galleon? What is happening to the crew as they develop frightening, almost demonic, powers? What part does the enigmatic Lady Mechatronic play in their transformation?
Pirates, flying saucers, a cyborg alien, steampunk and passion collide in the Caribbean. At least Hartwell has some absinthe to keep him sane. But this is just the beginning.
The first book of a brand new series.
Finally, Hartwell saw a vague outline of the old galleon in the smoke and he realized that Madrigal’s ship had been carried by the waves to almost within jumping distance of the Plymouth. The rowing boat had been torn away from the side of the Plymouth by the forces of wind and water and Hartwell wasted no time in giving his final order on what had been his ship.
“Into the sea and swim,” he commanded. “Powder monkeys,” he yelled to the small used to tend and operate the cannons. “To me.” The boys, who found the captain to be an enigmatic yet fair man and who had witnessed the actions of Admiral Johnson with much indignation, scampered out from their hiding places and joined their captain.
“Grab a boy,” commanded Hartwell. His crew all grabbed at least one child each, as did Madrigal, while Hartwell took the smallest boy in one hand while holding his sister in the other. “Jump! Belay that!” The crew looked in fuzzy incomprehension as Hartwell ran to his cabin at the back of the vessel and emerged after a few moments with a bottle of absinthe. He grabbed the boy and Susanna once more as he re-joined the mutineers and shouted again, “Jump!”
They leapt out into the sea and noticed too late that the water was glowing red, a deep scarlet hue which flashed disturbingly beneath the waves. Fortunately, they all broke the surface of the water with no obvious ill effects. Apart from the strange glow, the sea was normal and the crew swam toward Madrigal’s ship.
It took a while for them to reach the vessel, hampered as they were by holding onto the frightened boys. As they reached the galleon and began climbing the ropes thrown down for them by the crew, they all felt a strange prickling sensation that seemed to envelop the entire body, inside and out. Each person, however, thought it was probably the trauma of the past few minutes and said nothing about it.
Behind them, the sounds of the two navy crews being cursed by Admiral Johnson drifted through the black smoke and white mist. Hartwell knew they only had minutes to escape. “All hands, cut and run!” he roared.
“Do it,” bellowed Madrigal at what was left of his crew. The men swung into action, bypassing the standard procedures by slicing lines to the anchor and rigging in order to expedite the escape of the galleon.
“Powder monkeys, make the cannons ready. Tench, Fitch, you’re on gunnery duty,” continued Hartwell. “Madrigal, where is your pilot?”
“Dead,” replied Madrigal, his lips thinning in fury at the betrayal and slaughter of his crew.
“I understand,” said Hartwell, quietly, “but we have no time for grief now. I need you at the wheel. You know this vessel better than us and your expertise can get us out of here.”
Madrigal nodded, seeing the truth of Hartwell’s words. Madrigal knew how low the galleon sat in the water, what her turn radius was, all the details required to pilot the ship through deep and shallow waters.
“Heading?” he asked.
“Anywhere that is not here,” replied Hartwell. “We’ll worry about a heading if we can outrun the Plymouth and the Morning Star.”
“On this vessel?” said Tench, looking around at the creaking, rotten galleon. “They’re faster, more powerful and new. We don’t stand a chance!”