Pirate Island is a mysterious spot in TaleSpin. Its location, known only by the Air Pirates, serves as Don Karnage's stronghold and the hidden den of the Iron Vulture. Suspected of housing formidable defenses as well as the Air Pirates' treasures, weapons, planes, and belongings, Pirate Island provides the Air Pirates with a place of refuge and a concealed base of operations from which Don Karnage can launch attacks on cargo shipments, spy on the outside world, and plot mischief.
From accounts by sources who wish to remain anonymous, Pirate Island is just one in a cluster of volcanic islands far from Cape Suzette. Enshrouded in mist and fog from the frequently gloomy weather, these uncharted islands are rather difficult to locate without precise navigation. Sea gulls, buzzards, and sparse pine trees are the only signs of life on the desolate peaks. Many flyers and sailors purposely steer clear of this foreboding region, making it the perfect area for the Air Pirates to establish their secret lair.
For the purposes of secrecy, Pirate Island is located not behind the volcanoes but inside one of them. Many if they knew would question the wisdom of operating a pirate base deep in the bowels of a potentially active volcano, but Don Karnage views the unusual location of his hideout as an advantage. Certainly, no one would go looking for a pirate base inside a volcano unless they knew it were there. The deep caverns running throughout Pirate Island, formed by centuries of erosion and past volcanic activity, contain underground streams and vast pools of molten lava.
Within these hellish environs, the Air Pirates house their weapon caches, living and sleeping areas, workshops, and storage rooms. Very little excavation has been done to the island's interior, except to clear tunnels or expand existing chambers.
The exact location of Pirate Island is the Air Pirates' single most carefully-kept secret. Even the Air Police, despite ongoing investigations, questioning, and exhaustive research, have failed to come up with coordinates pinpointing the whereabouts of the pirate base. Judging from sightings of the Iron Vulture in the middle of the ocean along with the range of the Vulture's travels and the pattern of pirate attacks in the vicinity of Usland, authorities surmise that Pirate Island resides somewhere southeast of Cape Suzette. Unfortunately, with hundreds of small, uninhabited islands dotting the South Seas, the Air Police face a daunting search.
The Air Pirate's Lair
Camouflage is the critical element in keeping the Air Pirates' presence on Pirate Island a secret. The Air Pirates hide the main entrance to their base behind a pair of massive doors on one side of the island. Covered with a phony rock surface, these motorized doors open in response to a special signal from the Iron Vulture's radio transmitter, revealing an immense cavern within the island large enough to hold the airship, with room to spare for additional vessels. The pirates use a small tugboat to guide the Vulture to a loading dock at the far end of the cave, and to turn the ship around for takeoff.
BACK DOOR SEA ENTRANCE
Sea-based aircraft may use the secondary "back door" entrance on the other side of the mountain. Entering Pirate Island this way involves a tricky flight into a thick fog bank covering what, from above, appears to be nothing but solid rock. However, aerial approach at a low angle — cutting under the fog — reveals a series of rocks arranged like a rib cage.
Beyond these obstacles lies a watery inlet, emptying into an underground stream which leads straight through the mountain. The Air Pirates leave this entrance deserted most of the time, using it only when they need to dispatch pirate transports or when the main entrance is somehow inaccessible.
Those who would try to use the back entrance to sneak into Pirate Island soon find that their harrowing landing was the easiest part. Pursuing the route through the darkened, twisty tunnels takes intruders into the very core of Pirate Island's volcanic system — a subterranean lake of flaming hot lava, navigated only by hopping across rock platforms suspended on ropes or teetering on top of giant stalagmites. Even after this, the worst is yet to come, as deadly, hidden booby-traps put careless cave lurkers on the pathway to their doom.
Things look different coming out from the inside; a tunnel from the pirates' workshop provides an alternate path to the back entrance, ending right where the more hazardous, more apparent route begins.
The heart of Pirate Island is the treasure room, a vast chamber of interconnected caves holding the Air Pirates' plunder. Like all good pirate treasure troves, the torchlit room holds stacks of coins, trunks of jewels, piles of priceless trinkets, and bags of gold dust. Antiques, souvenirs from notable captures, and a rare prize or two round out the inventory nicely.
Don Karnage spends many hours in the treasure room, admiring his own reflection in the shiny collection of stolen gold and silver valuables. The Air Pirates use the area as a meeting place to go over plans, recount tales of past missions, or listen to Karnage's latest treasure-stealing ideas.
Larger even than the treasure room is Pirate Island's workshop, where practically all the Air Pirates' mechanical experiments and repairs take place. Supervised by head pirate mechanic Ratchet, the workshop provides the pirates with enough space and materials to rebuild, equip, and maintain machines as large as aircraft. A giant furnace, used for melting down metals, feeds directly into a vent in the top of the island, brilliantly masking the furnace exhaust as volcanic smoke. Crates and scattered bundles of treasure lie strewn about the workshop until transferred to other areas. Railroad tracks run from the shop to the vast main cavern for transporting planes, ammunition, and supplies to and from the waiting Iron Vulture. Another tunnel in the far wall leads to Pirate Island's back entrance.
Few prisoners get to visit Pirate Island, as the Iron Vulture has cells aplenty in its brig. Karnage may decide, however, that an important captive must be whisked away to the pirates' lair for safe keeping until ransom is paid. Those who've been unlucky guests of the Air Pirates report that the base is almost completely deserted when Karnage and company are out on a heist; only a handful of slow-witted guards remain.
Other portions of Pirate Island include storage rooms for weapons, fuel, and foodstuffs; a kitchen and mess hall; training and recreation areas; and personal quarters for the pirates (including Don Karnage). Torches are chosen for illumination and warmth over electric lamps, as running a generator and power grid large enough to light up the whole base would be impractical.
TRICKS, TRAPS, & ALARMS
Unwary trespassers and would-be escapees will stumble across dozens of unpleasant surprises in the Air Pirates' island home. These fiendishly clever, exceptionally dangerous snares are concentrated along the paths leading to the island's back entrance, the most likely escape route.
While most of the traps are set off by tripwires and floor triggers, some traps are manually activated and may help the pirates slow down intruders. An alarm system wired throughout the complex sounds either as a warning, or as a general alert when the Iron Vulture is leaving or returning to the base.
ARMS & WEAPONRY
Taking into consideration the risk of prisoners escaping or travelers stumbling upon Pirate Island, Don Karnage has installed powerful outer defenses into the Air Pirates' fortress. Hidden behind panels in the sides and top of the volcano, accurate artillery guns can fire long-range shells at intruding aircraft and ships. Should authorities discover and lay siege to Pirate Island, Karnage hopes the weapons will buy him and his pirates the time they need to evacuate the base.