As we Otago lads have only enough men for two squadrons,
the General has decided that we are to be merged with the
incoming Maori contingents to form a new battalion. Our new
battalion will be ‘Pioneers’, doing behind-the-lines work: building
barracks, railroads, roads and trenches. As you can imagine,
Father, we’re not happy–we want to fight, not dig holes.
When Leith McArran signed up to fight in a war half a world
away, little did he know that he and his fellow Dunedin Scots
would end up shovelling dirt with Maori lads from home. Nor
did he know that he’d become best mates with a young orphan
named Tamati Baines, who is haunted by nightmares of steel
serpents and blood-red butterflies–visions that might save
them from a secret enemy–or get them both killed.