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Journey to Pirate's Cove

Written By: Arabella Wyatt
Series: Lady Mechatronic #2
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Avast! Weigh the anchor! Hoist the mizzen! Calibrate the digital heads-up canon relays! Fleeing the persecuti...

At first glance, it seemed that Brough was right. Hartwell’s crew was outnumbered, Brough’s cannons had blown yet more gaping holes in the upper decks of the galleon, and Nani and his followers appeared to be trying to bribe the enemy rather than fight them.

Fortunately, Hartwell’s closer inspection revealed that Madrigal had knocked his opponent unconscious and now had free use of his hands, while behind them, the door to the rear cabins had opened and Madrigal’s brother, Anatole, had stepped through. On his own, Anatole was large enough to give any invading crew pause for thought. Behind Anatole came the second reason for any invading crew to turn and flee. Mechatronic had emerged onto the deck.

The invading crew gasped in horror as the silver woman stalked haughtily through the lines of brawling men. Cries of “It’s a mermaid!” and “It’s a demon!” echoed out over the ship.

“We will take your surrender now,” shouted Hartwell over the mêlée. He would prefer to end the confrontation without bloodshed, especially when the blood in question was that of his own crew. He looked over at Captain Brough, whose bravado had deserted him somewhat.

“Kill them!” screamed Brough eventually. “Kill them all before they curse us!”

Hartwell rolled his eyes in disbelief—why couldn’t anyone just run away or surrender on seeing the silver figure of Mechatronic? Why the innate urge to kill her and all her associates? It was something to ponder over but later, when he didn’t have someone trying to slice his head from his shoulders. “Madrigal, their sails,” he yelled.

Madrigal lifted his hands and pulses of bright green energy slid out from his fingers, burning the flesh and making him yelp. He forced his hands to stay on target as the pulses flowed outward to Brough’s ship, striking the side and blowing chunks out of the deck and rail. The rigging and masts exploded under the onslaught, the sails catching fire as sparks flew left and right.

Brough and his pirates screamed in terror, some running back to their ship, others trying to kill whichever crewmembers they happened to be facing.

One lunged at Mechatronic, who parried the blow and punched the man on the nose, dropping him, while another headed for Anatole, madly waving a small axe over his head. He never made it. Susanna ran out onto the deck and flung her arm out toward the man. A whip of fine metallic strands erupted from her skin, slicing through the pale flesh as it shot forward and entwined the pirate round the legs, tripping and concussing him on the hard, wooden deck. The whip retracted and the skin healed in Susanna’s wrist, leaving nothing but a faint white line.

“I do worry that whip is not entirely ladylike,” murmured Susanna to herself as she rubbed her wrist, feeling the pain quickly ebb away to nothing.

Soon, only Brough was left standing. He watched as his last two men, who had been fruitlessly attacking Hartwell for fifteen minutes, grew ever more despondent and tired until one made an error and Hartwell neatly disarmed him. The second man, seeing that Hartwell was still fresh, dropped to his knees and threw his sword away in supplication.

“What manner of cursed demons are you?” gasped Brough in fear.

“We are not demons,” replied Hartwell.

“Though we may be cursed,” muttered Fitch, darkly.

Avast! Weigh the anchor! Hoist the mizzen! Calibrate the digital heads-up canon relays!

Fleeing the persecution of a rogue admiral, Captain James Hartwell must reluctantly embrace the life of a pirate if he and his crew are to survive on the Caribbean Sea. Unfortunately, England has just declared war on piracy. Regrettably, Hartwell has two crews on one ancient, rotten galleon, some of whom don’t agree with his principles. Alarmingly, some of his crew are developing inexplicable powers after accidental exposure to advanced technology. Disastrously, a silver woman has fallen from the sky and landed on the captain’s heart.

Hesitant of his new role in life, afraid of the emotions that Lady Mechatronic can stir in him, and uncertain who in his new crew is trustworthy, Hartwell must navigate the Caribbean Sea, human intrigue, and cyborg attraction.

Can Hartwell avoid the mutineers, the navy, rival pirates, and his own feelings? Or is he sunk whichever way he turns?

The second book in a brand new steampunk/pirate mash up.
Price: $3.99
Lady Mechatronic and the Bordeaux

Written By: Arabella Wyatt
Series: Lady Mechatronic #5
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Advanced technology makes short work of a locked room mystery as Captain Hartwell and Lady Mechatronic find themse...

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.

“Yes.”

“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?”

“Indeed.”

“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…”

“I know.”

“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…”

“I know.”

“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.

Advanced technology makes short work of a locked room mystery as Captain Hartwell and Lady Mechatronic find themselves with a body in a library...
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.
Price: $2.99
Lady Mechatronic and the Steampunked Kraken

Written By: Arabella Wyatt
Series: Lady Mechatronic #4
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

“Madrigal, turn us about,” continued Hartwell. “Set a course for Pirate Cove.”

“Aye, Cap’n,” grinned Madrigal as he hauled the wheel and moved them away from the pirate vessel. The old galleon rolled from left to right as it ploughed the sea, though since Mechatronic’s upgrades, the rolling gait was much smoother as some form of dampening field helped to protect the ship against the movement of the ocean, making Madrigal’s control of the vessel almost absolute. Everyone was therefore astonished when the galleon lurched madly, making them fear that they were sinking.

Hartwell looked out and saw the ocean was rising and falling in a highly localised area, moving from left to right across his vision, as though something huge was moving at high speed under the surface. The crew turned their attention to the pirate vessel, which seemed to be directly in the path of whatever was disturbing the sea.

They watched in astonishment as a whirlpool formed around the pirate vessel, causing it to spin around, unable to counter whatever was creating the furious currents. Then, with a gigantic roar, something broke the surface of the water, something huge, something that shrieked and bellowed in anger, something that had never been seen or heard before.

Gigantic tentacles reached up and grabbed the pirate vessel, wrapping around the ship, crushing and splintering the hull. The central body of the thing rising from the ocean was a colossal stalk of green, scaly skin, topped with a bulbous head containing a repellent slit for a mouth and a single eye, larger than a sailing ship, which blinked in the sudden daylight as it broke the surface of the water.

“By all the Gods, it’s the kraken!” gasped Fitch, looking in astonishment at the creature. All sailors knew of the legends of the kraken, but none had ever seen it before.

“Look!” shouted Susanna, her hand pointing to something that twinkled in the bright Caribbean sun. “Look at the body! It has metallic tentacles!”

The crew squinted at the creature, unable to make out the details under the blazing sun and the tons of water cascading down from the creature as it crushed the pirate vessel.

“Are you sure?” shouted Bardon, one hand raised to shade his eyes from the glare. “It could just be ze sun reflecting off ze scales of zat beast!”

“Susanna is correct,” said Mechatronic, her superior eyes adapting to the glare. “That creature has biomechanical implants.”

“Are you absolutely certain?” asked Hartwell, who could see very little as the creature thrashed in the water and the sun continued to dazzle his vision.

The monster turned its baleful eye down to the doomed pirate ship held firmly in its tentacles and a red glow illuminated the immense black pupil. A laser beam erupted from the eye and smashed into the vessel, so hot it melted flesh, so powerful it smashed through the hull as though it were thin ice. With a final roar, the leviathan sunk back down into the sea, dragging the burning, disintegrating vessel with it.

“Fairly certain, yes,” said Mechatronic in the silence that followed.

Price: $2.99
Lady Mechatronic and the Steampunked Pharaoh

Written By: Arabella Wyatt
Series: Lady Mechatronic #6
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

An ancient Egyptian pharaoh will cause technological terror… blame it on the nanobots. What’s a c...

Captain Hartwell was listlessly flicking through a book when there was a knock on his cabin door. He put the book down with some relief. He had traded one of his precious bottles of absinthe for a few volumes from a passing merchant, but so far, the collection was uninspiring. Three almanacs, all out of date, a bible missing so many pages it appeared that the Resurrection happened just after Moses was given the Commandments, and a weighty tome entitled On Naval Timber and Arboriculture, by Mathew Patrick, which wasn’t the sort of work Hartwell would have naturally selected.

“Enter,” he called.

“Only us, Cap’n,” said a voice as the door swung open to reveal two men.

“I know,” replied Hartwell.

“The internal scanner told you as much, I suppose, Cap’n?” said the first officer, Madrigal, as he walked in. The second officer, Fitch, who had served under Hartwell in the navy, followed him.

“No, your footsteps,” said Hartwell. “You both have a measured tread.”

“You mean you can tell us apart just from hearing our walk?” said Madrigal, surprised. “We’re almost the same height, so how can you do that?”

“You walk like a dancer, while Mr Fitch is rather more solid on his feet.”

“Is that how you could always tell who was where on board the Pride of Plymouth?” asked Fitch, referring to the last vessel he and Hartwell had served on before being betrayed by their corrupt commander, Admiral Johnson.

“Indeed.”

“Well, with all the alien technology riddled through us and the vessel, you don’t need to leave your cabin anymore to be fully aware of all that is happening on board,” observed Madrigal. “I’m told that the internal sensors can now relay constant information direct to your cabin.”

“And more,” said Hartwell, gesturing at the brass screen that rose from his polished mahogany desk. “I can view the heart rate, blood pressure and location of the crew. I can see the differential engines pumping seawater, converting it to steam and hydroelectric energy. I can see the laser cannons on the three decks and the developing arsenal in the weapons laboratory.

“I can see the interdimensional hinges that allow the interior of the ship to be bigger than the exterior, which explains the new bathrooms, the developing crew quarters, the ballroom, the billiard room, the empty library and the swimming pool. All of which are dwarfed by the walk-in wardrobes of the female crewmembers which now take up two-thirds of the entire ship.”

“Two-thirds?” gasped Madrigal. “But we’ve only got four women on board! And one of those is still disguised as a cabin boy.”

“Young Keating sneaks into the wardrobes when she thinks no one is looking. I’ve seen her do it many times as I’ve walked the decks.”

“Tell me, Captain,” said Fitch. “Are you actually using the new scanners and your neural interface at all, or are you still watching the old fashioned way, with your eyes and ears?”

“I dislike watching the crew through technology,” replied Hartwell. “It feels like a breach of their privacy.” He didn’t add that the other reason he didn’t use the scanners was his fear that he would spend his time watching one particular crewmember.

“Time for a tour round,” he announced abruptly, standing and striding from his cabin to quash the rogue thoughts.

“Damnation,” muttered Madrigal behind the captain’s back. “I thought we were about to get somewhere, maybe even get him to admit he needs to talk to Lady Mechatronic.”

“Ar, the silver demon is indeed a problem,” said Fitch. “If the captain can’t or won’t make a future with her, she needs to step back and let someone else make him happy. Otherwise, he’ll continue drinking too much and sinking further into himself. I don’t like it, Madrigal. In all the years I’ve served under him, I’ve never seen the captain become so detached, so remote from his crew.”

“It’s as though each day he drifts further away,” agreed Madrigal, “and that’s bad for us, the ship and for him.”

“He’s got worse since taking off his old navy uniform,” added Fitch darkly. “That was his last link with the honourable captain he once was and should still be. Damn that viper Johnson and his private slave trade!”

“What can we do, though?”

“Hmm.” Fitch glanced over at the small library the captain had put together during their short time on the galleon. “Egyptology was always an interest of his. Maybe a visit to the pyramids will help?”

Madrigal grinned. “That is a very good idea.” He initiated his neural link to the galleon’s internal computer. Mechatronic had already scanned in several old charts to create a three-dimension digital map of the entire planet. He looked at their current location and plotted a course for Egypt.

An ancient Egyptian pharaoh will cause technological terror… blame it on the nanobots.
What’s a crew of reluctant pirates to do when their captain is unlucky in love, the object of his affection being a cybernetic woman fallen from the stars? Provide a distraction!
And what could be more distracting than a visit to Egypt, to explore the riddle of the sphinx and the romance of the pyramids?
It’s just a pity that some rogue nanobots are going to resurrect a sadistic long-dead pharaoh and arm him with lasers, lightning bolts and inhuman strength.
Price: $2.99
Lady Mechatronic and the Steampunked Pirates

Written By: Arabella Wyatt
Series: Lady Mechatronic #1
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

England has abolished slavery, but not all are willing to let the lucrative trade go without a fight. The Royal Na...

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!”

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.


 
Price: $3.99
Lady Mechatronic on the Cannibal Island

Written By: Arabella Wyatt
Series: Lady Mechatronic #3
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Guess who is going to be dinner?   Trapped on the infamous Cannibal Island of Bajea, Captain Hartwell...

“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.”

Guess who is going to be dinner?

 

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?

 

Price: $2.95
Pandora

Written By: Arabella Wyatt
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Willowcombe Clatford. The perfect place to live. A village with standards. A village with morals. A village where...

Pandora Laskaris moved along the darkened tunnel. She didn’t know where she was, nor did she have any memory of how she got there. All she knew was that she had to keep walking, one foot after the other, through the darkness, which was illuminated every ten yards or so by blazing torches set in the wall.

Pandora looked at the walls as she passed the flickering flames. They were made of enormous blocks of solid stone. The roof and floor were the same. Thousands of blocks, huge and heavy, deadening the senses. She continued to walk, turning randomly down side tunnels which looked no different from the one she had started in. How could anyone find their way in this labyrinth?

She reached another junction where an unexpected stench of damp fur and body heat washed over her. There was something close by, something animal, something big if the odour was any indication. Pandora wasn’t sure she wanted to find out, but she was unable to stop walking. She looked down at her legs, wondering why they kept moving, and was surprised to see she was wearing some sort of skirt. She hardly ever wore a skirt.

A closer inspection at the next guttering flame revealed she was dressed in a toga, of the sort usually seen in films set in ancient Rome. Pandora rubbed a hand over her brow and found she had a garland of flowers in her hair. She was so surprised she forgot about the animal smell, which meant the shock was all the stronger as she turned another corner and something reared up in front of her.

Time slowed as the creature turned, holding something in its hands.

Pandora realised in horror it was a bloodied skull. She tried to scream, but her throat restricted in terror as she took in every detail in front of her.

Saliva stretched from the skull to the mouth of the creature. Huge tusks, smeared with blood, leered over the black lips. The creature discarded the skull in favour of the fresh meat which had walked so willingly into its den.

Pandora, frozen in dread, saw the shaggy hair around the protruding snout, the horns growing from the top of the head, the strong legs ending in hooves instead of feet. Behind it, a tail swished in the dark air. Pandora looked into the black eyes of the creature and saw the face of a huge, angry bull, yet a bull somehow mixed with human features. She now knew what it was and where she was. She was a sacrifice to the Minotaur.

The Minotaur stepped forward, reaching out to its victim, but stopped as the flames illuminated Pandora’s face. It seemed both surprised and angry. Rearing upright, it bellowed in rage, its chest muscles heaving, arms outstretched, filling the passageway before lunging forward with incredible speed, grabbing Pandora and dragging her to within inches of its huge, slobbering jaws.

The hot stench of raw meat and fresh blood washed over the terrified girl as the Minotaur growled, pushing saliva and splintered human bones around its mouth before speaking, shaking Pandora with every word.

“Release me,” snarled the creature. “Release all of us. Open the box. Let us feast on the living and consume the bones of their children! Open the box!”

A strange blue light appeared over the creature, pulsing with every word, growing brighter and brighter each time the monster spoke.

“Open the box!” demanded the Minotaur again.

The blue light flared, so bright it was almost white, and then blackness rushed in.

Willowcombe Clatford. The perfect place to live. A village with standards. A village with morals. A village where everyone knows what is best for you...
 
Fourteen year old Pandora Laskaris moves with her family to Willowcombe Clatford, an idyllic village full of friendly neighbours and upright citizens, where the children are always well behaved, there are never any disagreements, and crime doesn’t exist.
Yet within this calm and beautiful place, Pandora comes to recognise that there is something wrong. What is happening behind the scenes at the village? Why do those who defy village opinion disappear? What part does Pandora’s traditionalist aunt, Mabel Whitemarsh, play in the sinister atmosphere that keeps the village quiet and obedient? And what is the link to the legendary Pandora’s Box of Greek mythology?
Willowcombe Clatford. The perfect place to live. A village with standards. A village with morals. A village where everyone knows what is best for you...
Price: $4.99
The Death Ship Trilogy

Written By: Arabella Wyatt
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Collecting its victims, marking its witnesses, terrorizing the world, the Death Ship sails through eternity. &...

Looking out at the Gulf of Arta, Cleopatra VII, self-proclaimed reincarnation of the Goddess Isis and sovereign of the Ptolemaic Egyptian Kingdom, strode fretfully along her galley, passing row after row of slaves, bodyguards, handmaidens and soldiers.

This was the final battle. If she and her lover, Marc Anthony, could overthrow the forces of Octavian, they alone would control Rome and all its power. The might of Rome coupled to the wealth of Egypt was a prize worth fighting for, especially with her own empire fading in significance and power.

This, then, was the day of reckoning, when the strong would triumph. So why did Marc Anthony not attack? She glanced at the dozens of immense quinqueremes of Marc Anthony’s fleet. Many of them were on fire, the thick black smoke coiling up into the overcast sky.

Marc Anthony had ordered his own ships to be set alight. Malaria had claimed so many of his men, he no longer had enough left to crew the entire fleet of five hundred ships, so he burned their tactical advantage in order that the vessels would not fall into enemy hands.

The omens were not good. The gods were toying with them. Being a self-proclaimed goddess mattered little if the true gods had willed your fate. Maybe Cleopatra had once believed her own myths of divinity. Today, with fire burning and an enemy fleet staring her in the face, she was not so sure. Death hung over the entire gulf.

“Why does he not make a move?” she snapped at her commanders.

The men shuffled and tried to avoid her glare. None wished to draw attention to himself. The queen’s wrath was well known against those who gave bad advice, and in war, any advice could turn out to be bad.

“Well? Answer me!” demanded the queen of queens.

“It could be a feint by Marc Anthony,” said Panhsj eventually, a young, arrogant officer.

“Maybe a ruse to trap Octavian,” said another after a long pause.

“More likely Marc Anthony realises he has already lost, given the malaria that has decimated his forces and the exposure of his battle plans by the traitor Quintus Dellius,” said a deep, grating voice.

Cleopatra swung round, looking for the speaker. It took her several seconds to realise that the voice came from beneath her, from the crew of slaves who worked the oars. For one to speak without permission was unheard of on the galleys. All slaves knew their place and that place was as cattle, beasts of burden for those higher up in the world. This knowledge was driven in over a lifetime of indoctrination and was emphasised by the lash of a whip on a daily basis.

“You dare?” hissed Cleopatra in fury, looking for the speaker along the long row of shackled men. “You dare raise your voice in the presence of the goddess?”

“Does the goddess have the faintest idea what is truly happening here?” replied the voice. The speaker looked up, his mocking eyes burning intensely. “Does the goddess know anything of the true threat that faces us?”

“You will hold your tongue, slave,” yapped Panhsj. “If you do not, I will see to it that you lose it.”

“You have no power over me, over any of us, not now,” growled the slave. “You have only the threat of violence and that is no longer effective.”

“We will soon see about that,” snapped Panhsj as he unwound a leather whip from his belt. “When I have removed your skin, you will no longer be so keen to talk.”

“I can talk as much as I wish, for we are marked for death.”

“You dare spread such sedition through the fleet?” demanded Cleopatra, a cold shiver of apprehension passing through her. The slave seemed so certain. He really seemed to believe that he had no need to be fearful of his queen for he was facing death itself.

“It is not sedition,” replied the slave, his facial muscles twitching as he finally put words around his knowledge. “We are being tracked by the Death Ship.”

Collecting its victims, marking its witnesses, terrorizing the world, the Death Ship sails through eternity.
 
Allied with no nation, following no faith, allowing no hope, the Death Ship terrorizes the world. Its captain is the breath of cold air on your cheek in the dead of night. His hand is the presence on your shoulder when alone in the dark. Turn your head, look from the corner of your eye, see the gaps between the worlds and fear the approach of the Death Ship.
Arabella Wyatt, author of the Steampunked Pirates, uses fantasy to take a clinical look at the nature of superstition and the dangers of fundamentalist believers rejecting scientific truth. In doing so, she creates a fable for our times, showing how such beliefs will result in the downfall of humanity.
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