I steered my boat along the ocean currents, letting them do the work as I made my way through the open water. The morning was bright and clear and a little warm, but the sea breeze cooled things off enough to make it the perfect temperature for sailing. A few puffy white clouds dotted the sky, and the salty spray in my face was invigorating. There was only one thing missing.
Someone to share it with.
I had been sailing since I was just a boy, and it was never the same when I was on my own. To truly enjoy the journey, I needed someone else with me. Usually Keyop was my sailing partner, but today Princess had insisted that he help her at Jill’s and finish his homework. I had to admit, he and I had been playing a lot of video games lately, so I hadn’t protested when Princess had stated in no uncertain terms that Keyop was not sailing with me this morning.
“I’m sorry, Tiny,” I could still hear her saying, “but Keyop isn’t going anywhere today. He has neglected his work for weeks now, and he has to catch up!”
I knew when to back away. Instead of pursuing the issue, I had just headed back to my Marina and set sail.
I should have had customers on a day like today, but I hadn’t scheduled any, because up until twelve hours ago I had thought that we would be on duty. But our mission to escort needed supplies to the Utopia Space Station had been moved up and completed yesterday. We had gotten back late last night, and after catching up on my sleep I had decided to take advantage of the prime sailing conditions.
The one good thing about being alone was that I had no one telling me where to go. Usually I was taking customers to the best fishing spots, or Keyop was demanding to see the wildlife along the coast.
Today, I had decided to head out to Farador Island. It was a place I had only been by once or twice before, but one that had always called out to me. The island was somewhat remote, and not near any of the usual fishing or tourist areas. It was owned by some private corporation that had never developed it. I had always been curious, and so I chose today to be the day that curiosity was satisfied.
Well, you know what they say about being curious.
I approached Farador Island, steering my craft to the small stretch of beach that appeared to be the only viable place to beach my boat. The rest of the island was surrounded by rocks that could easily smash a vessel to pieces, if the pilot wasn’t careful.
A less experienced sailor wouldn’t have managed it, but I felt confident that I could. After all, I had dealt with many more dangerous situations in my life. I moved through the water toward the beach.
But as I did, a strange sound carried on the wind to my ears. At first, it was very soft, and hard to describe. It had an almost… ethereal… quality, like something that was not of this Earth.
Okay, I was a little out of my element here… poetry wasn’t exactly my strong suit. But this sound had that effect on me; it made me imagine beautiful things, and want to be a part of them.
The sound grew louder, and it quickly became apparent that it was a form of music… to be specific, some kind of singing…
Well, not exactly singing… there were no recognizable words. But it was definitely voices… female voices.
The melody they were producing was exquisite and despite myself, I found that I just had to stop and listen for a moment. Something so beautiful deserved my full attention.
The boat rocked unexpectedly, and I nearly fell down on my considerable rear end as I realized that I hadn’t been focusing on my task at hand. The small beach was getting further away and I was drifting toward the sharp rocks that surrounded the rest of the island. I pulled at the rigging, attempting to turn the craft, when the music swelled again.
It was so enchanting… I vaguely felt the rope slipping from my grasp, but somehow, I just didn’t care. All that mattered was that singing…
I had to find the source.
With a sense of renewed purpose, I grabbed the rigging again, expertly pulling and securing the ropes in a manner that would send my craft in the direction of the mysterious music.
Unfortunately, it was also in the direction of the rocks. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I heard the keel scraping against the bottom, and felt a cool wetness on my feet as the boat began to take on water.
My last thought before I lost consciousness was of regret, that I would never find the source of that beautiful song.
Of course, that wasn’t the end of me, but what scares me is that it could have been. Ever since I was a boy I had heard the tall tales from my father of fishermen lured to their deaths by the mysteries of the sea… giant whales, treasure, mermaids… But the one story that had always stuck out in my mind was that of the Sirens.
It was a story so whimsical that even as an adult, I had laughed at the concept. Mythical creatures enchanting sailors by singing to them… who could believe such a thing?
Yet apparently, that was what had happened to me.
As I came to, I shook my head, wondering where I was. There was silence around me, and I opened my eyes to find myself lying on a metallic floor of some kind.
“He’s awake!” exclaimed a harsh voice, and I felt a nasty kick in my side as I struggled to comprehend what was going on.
A rough hand grabbed the collar of my shirt, pulling me upward until I got a good look at the face in front of me. It wore a green mask, with small yellow fangs on the side. Shaggy brown hair stuck out from the bottom, giving the man a scruffy appearance, despite the uniform he wore.
Had they figured out who I was? Nervously, I felt underneath my body for my bracelet. It was still on my wrist, and I nearly sighed with relief.
“See how he squirms in fear!” laughed the harsh voice again. I thought it was coming from off to my left side, somewhere. “This pathetic wretch recognizes the might of the Spectran Empire.”
“What are you doing here?” growled the man holding my shirt in his fist.
I decided to play the role of the scared civilian for all it was worth. Sometimes, my bland appearance comes in handy. No one ever believes Mark or Jason when they try to play dumb, but for me, it always works like a charm.
“I don’t even know where I am!” I cried out, attempting to shield my face with my hands. “Please don’t hurt me!”
“Why were you approaching Farador Island?” the voice growled again, although this time there was something of a mocking undertone to it. I could hear the other man laughing nastily in the background.
“I… I was just curious!” I said, purposely attempting to stutter a bit, to show my apparent nervousness. “I wondered what kind of fish there might be around there!”
“He’s just a local idiot, like all of the others.” the soldier holding me sneered. “This fat buffoon doesn’t know what he’s doing. They all fall prey to our Sirens.”
“Just put him with the others.” said the Spectran with the harsh voice. “When Lord Zoltar gets here, he’ll tell us what to do with them.”
Zoltar? Here? What the hell had I just stumbled into?
I was itching to use my communicator to contact Mark and the others, but didn’t want to raise their suspicions. Hopefully, they would leave me alone for a moment so I could speak with the team.
The guard who had ‘questioned’ me hauled me to my feet, grunting with the effort of moving my considerable weight around. Sure, it looks like fat, but most of it is muscle. I weigh a hell of a lot more than most people think I do. It comes in handy when I use my wrestling techniques on scum like this.
I felt a pair of rifles being prodded into my back, and I stumbled out of the room and down a long corridor, moving where their incessant pushing directed me. Although I wasn’t restrained, I let them control me, wondering in the back of my mind who these ‘others’ were, that the one goon had mentioned. Were there prisoners here?
As it turned out, there were. I was brought to a small cell housing four men and a young boy. I was so surprised that I let the guards lock me inside, before I realized what they had done.
The moment the soldiers were gone, the men spoke to me.
“What date is it?” one of them asked me in a ragged voice. I noticed that he had dark circles under his eyes, and had something of a gaunt and unkempt look about him.
When I told him, his eyes widened in despair.
“Three months…” he muttered to himself, moving away.
“Don’t mind Samuel,” one of the other men said to me. “He’s been here the longest. I guess he’s pretty desperate to get home to his family.”
“Like he’s the only one!” snapped another man. “I think we’d all like to get out of here, Taran!”
“We all know what you think, Victor.” Taran sighed.
I looked over at Samuel. He seemed to have sunk into a deep depression, as he slumped down to the floor in the corner of the cell. I walked over to him, bending down to his level.
“I’m Tiny.” I offered, extending my hand out. He didn’t take it.
“I know how you feel, Samuel.” I said quietly sheepishly lowering my arm back down to my side. “I’m missing my family too. I haven’t been gone as long as you have, obviously, but I’ll do my best to get us out of here.”
Samuel looked up at me, a blank stare on his face.
“I’ll believe it when I see it.” he muttered, turning away to face the wall.
I knew when I had been dismissed. I stood up, facing the other occupants of the cell.
“Where are we?” I asked them.
“I think we’re on Farador Island.” the man named Taran revealed. “All of us came here when our boats were close to the island, and we heard this beautiful singing. We crashed on the rocks and woke up here.”
“That pretty much sums up my story.” I replied. “So, Samuel has been here for three months?”
“Yes.” Taran nodded. “They don’t feed us very often, and he’s in bad shape. He’s also worried about his wife and children.”
“I understand.” I nodded.
“But we’re going to get rescued really soon!” the young boy piped up. “I recognize those guards! I’ve seen them on TV! They’re from Spectra!”
“Johnny is right.” another man said, his arm around the youth. “I have heard the guards talking, and they are Spectrans.” He held his hand out to me. “Hello, Tiny. I’m Peter.”
I shook his hand gratefully, and noted that Peter bore a striking resemblance to Captain Jack. Did all sailors look alike in some way? It was probably my imagination. Still, I appreciated Peter’s friendly smile.
“So if the guards are Spectrans, that means that G-Force will find them, right Dad?” Johnny looked up at the man who had spoken. “G-Force always defeats the Spectrans! They’ll be coming to rescue us any time now… right?”
While the boy’s speech had started out full of bravado, it had ended on more of a questioning note, as he had looked around the small cell to the others for reassurance of his beliefs. As the men turned away, his face fell.
“That’s right, Johnny.” I said, ruffling the boy’s hair. In a way, he reminded me a bit of Keyop, especially when a wide grin spread across his face. “You can expect G-Force really soon.”
“Don’t fill his head with false hope!” Victor snapped again. “You already told Samuel you’d get us out of here, and now you’re leading on the boy. You just got here! You don’t know anything! If G-Force was going to come, they would have been here already!”
“Well maybe they didn’t know this place was here!” I retorted, folding my arms across my chest.
“So what makes you think that they know about it now then?” Victor scowled back at me.
“Well, uh…” I wasn’t sure how much to say, and I certainly didn’t want to reveal my secret identity, in case the room was bugged.
“I heard one of the guards saying that Zoltar was coming!” I offered. “That’s sure to attract G-Force’s attention!”
“We can’t sit around waiting for that!” retorted Victor. “Who knows how long it will take, or if the Spectrans will ki…”
The man stopped speaking as Taran elbowed him sharply in the ribs, his eyes jerking over sharply in Johnny’s direction.
“I agree.” I said.
Everyone looked at me.
“You do?” asked Johnny in a disappointed tone.
“Yes.” I replied. “I don’t think we should wait around for G-Force. I think we need to rescue ourselves.”
“I heard you saying as much to Samuel,” Peter said nervously, “but… how are we going to do that? They have guns, and we don’t.”
“We’ll never be able do it!” wailed Samuel.
“I’ll figure something out.” I muttered darkly.