Trapped on the infamous Cannibal Island of Bajea, Captain Hartwell must lead his evolving crew of cybernetic pirates through the cannibals’ jungle to safety. With danger all around, is this the time to be concerned with his relationship with the alien cyborg Lady Mechatronic?
The adventures of the steampunked pirates take a turn to the dark side. Can Hartwell lead them all to the light?
“What do we do, Captain?” asked Fitch nervously.
“We must find and fortify a camp. This clearing is too exposed.”
“I noticed a few caves on the beach close to where we were abandoned,” said Tench. “Perhaps we could hold up in there?”
“That may not be such a good idea,” replied Hartwell. “That part of the island is enclosed by cliffs, making it a trap.”
“So what do you suggest, James?” asked Susanna.
“We go further inland, to the interior of the island.”
“That’s madness!” gasped one of the crew. “We would walk right into the lion’s den!”
“Thus making it the last thing the cannibals would expect,” explained Hartwell. “It will give us an advantage.”
“Only until they find and slaughter us!”
“Don’t forget our other advantage—the strange technology of Lady Mechatronic which riddles our bodies. With this edge and by carrying the campaign to the enemy, I believe we can increase our chances of survival.”
“That is a rather risky piece of speculation,” observed Madrigal uneasily. “Besides which, it is a short-term plan only.”
“Indeed. Finding the cannibals’ route on and off the island is the ultimate goal. They must have boats for their raiding parties. We need to find their roads and then follow them to wherever they keep their vessels moored. To find such a road, however, we must venture inland.”
“It’s still just guesswork,” said another member of the crew.
“Fortunately, we have a man with experience of this terrible island,” said Hartwell. “Lucky Pete, what can you tell us about this place and its inhabitants?”
Pete, trembling in every limb and recoiling at every nocturnal sound, was too terrified to even be aware that he had been spoken to. He was shaking to such an extent, the cloth tied around his blind eyes was coming loose.
“I’m sorry, Captain,” said Keating. “He’s just too frightened to understand anything.” She gave Pete’s one remaining arm an encouraging squeeze, forgetting her disguise of a roistering cabin boy as her natural concern for Pete shone through.
“Understandable, but a pity,” said Hartwell. “Do what you can to soothe him. Any information Pete can give us could be the difference between life and death. Now, we must move and find a camp. We must choose to either head for the caves on the beach or follow my suggestion of heading inland.”
“Inland,” said Mechatronic immediately. “I agree with your
reasoning, Captain. We must take the fight to the savages, otherwise we are lost.”
A muttered rumble of agreement went round the group.
“Carried by the majority,” said Madrigal with a wry smile. “I do not know the best course of action, but I will follow the group’s desires.”
“Right, let’s get moving,” said Fitch with a grin at the camaraderie that was present, despite the fear covering the group. “My night vision just kicked in and I can see the jungle as clear as daylight.”
“Form a line,” commanded Hartwell. “We have no conventional weapons, so be prepared with your inbuilt defences. Given that it is pitch black, I want you all to link yourself to the person ahead of you, so no one gets separated and lost. I also need a volunteer to take the rear-most point.”
“No, you don’t,” said Madrigal, flipping off a quick salute and moving down the line.
“Brave man,” murmured Fitch. The last man in the line would be the most vulnerable.
“The bravest,” said Anatole, Madrigal’s brother, as he too walked down to the rear.
“All ready?” asked Hartwell, hoping his theory was sound and he was not leading everyone to disaster. “Then move out.”