Her entire left side felt like it was on fire. A blinding pain that made it nearly impossible to understand the chaos happening around her.
Vale watched as a man with light blond hair billowing in the wind named Boomer, ran up the bowsprit with a wild frenzy, and threw a harpoon toward a cloud bursting with lightning. The harpoon made a direct hit and the tip of the harpoon opened up to reveal a large net.
It wrapped itself around the bolts of lightning, spreading wider and wider to gather every inch of light. Boomer quickly made his way back down the bowsprit and joined the other men as they rolled strange-looking barrels onto the main deck. They opened the lids and waited.
The net sucked in every ounce of energy the sky provided, and once the storm was over, the net retracted back into the harpoon and fell back onto the ship, appearing to be nothing more than a stick with a sharp end.
Boomer walked over and took up the harpoon. He pointed it toward the first barrel and touched a button that had first escaped Vale’s attention. The harpoon came to life as a huge bolt of lightning shot from the sharp end, and into the barrel. He pushed the button again, and went to the next barrel and performed the same thing. He did this over and over until dozens of barrels were full.
Vale’s vision began to blur, the pain in her arm excruciating, causing her to blackout...
She woke up lying in a hammock. Vale felt sore and when she tried to sit up, was greeted by a sharp pain across her entire left side. She reached over to touch her injured arm and found it ice cold to the touch.
Alarmed, she pulled her hand back and looked down at where her arm used to be and discovered a foreign object in its place. Vale looked down in shock, dread making her feel nauseous. The AI’s have taken me and changed me into one of them! A mechanical arm had replaced her flesh and blood.
Before she could stand up and run for help, she saw Mortem sitting on a small bench next to her hammock. She was still on The Libertatem. As she stared from her arm back to Mortem, confusion filled her. Why? My arm is gone. I am less human now. A piece of me stolen. She bit back a scream when Mortem spoke.
“Ye nearly got yerself killed. An arm ripped from its socket really gave the crew a scare.” Ripped? This wasn’t a trick? My arm couldn’t be saved.
Vale just looked down at her arm, feeling a sense of loss come over her. My arm is gone.
“How ye feelin?’”
Vale took a long moment before answering. “My arm—,” she said, groggy. “It’s gone.” She felt stuck on that one truth. Unbelieving of this development even as she stared down at the object that had become a part of her.
“But yer alive,” Mortem said, a hint of disbelief in his voice.
Vale moved the arm, surprised by the fact that it moved as easily as her real arm. She wiggled her metal fingers, open and closed her fist, and moved her arm up and down testing it. This thing could probably pack a punch. She looked at Mortem again.“How long have I been out?”
Mortem shrugged, “only a day or two. Not too bad considerin’ ye lost a limb. Lucky one ye are.”
Vale looked down at her new arm. This will take some getting used to.
“The crew is impressed with yer battle scar. I think ye ‘as earned their respect.” Mortem looked at her for a long moment. “Look here girl, ye saved me skin. Without ye spottin’ that lightning storm we would have sailed past it without even knowin’ it was there. And we were able to get more energy from that one storm than any other ship on record. We made history. And those damn robots have nothing to report. We have won this round.”
“What about the weather GPS?” Vale asked.
“That damn thing didn’t even pick it up. I threw it at that blasted squawkin’ bird this mornin’ too. What is that sayin’, take out two birds with one rock?”
“Something like that,” Vale said, trying to hide her smile.
“Well, ye can stay. But best be careful.” Mortem stood up and tapped her metal arm, making a lard clanking noise. “That arm may attract more lightning than ye wish.”
“If it helps me find the lightning, I’ll take any advantage I can get.” Mortem laughed as he ruffled Vale’s hair like you would a five-year-old. Then he turned to leave.
“Does this mean you won’t throw me overboard?”
Mortem turned back. “For now. Become a layabout and that GPS won’t be the only thing I throw off this ship. Ye have guts kid. Welcome to the crew. All is left is a nickname for ye. Vale is no name for a lightning seeker.” Mortem stroked his beard deep in thought.
Vale’s heart soared with excitement. What name will I get? Something intimidating like Mortem? Something representing strength like boomer?
“Well, for now, ye will be called, ‘Sharp Eye’d Vale.’”
“That is a horrible name!” Vale protested. “It doesn’t even include this new monstrosity of an arm.”
“Well I ain’t here to find ye a pretty name!” Mortem threw his arms up in protest, “I expect ye at your post tomorrow marnin’. If ye want a different name, ask the crew, but I warn ye, they won’t do much better.” He walked away, leaving Vale with a new name to chew on.
Vale snorted, half amused and irritated at the name. “Sharp Eye’d Vale. I can live with that for now.”