Nathaniel Cannon and the Lost City of Pitu No. 20

Cecil Snavely, Lord Crosswhite would not lower himself to running. He knew exactly where he was, exactly where he was going, and exactly how long it would take for his powerful stride to carry him there. He would not permit a mere volcanic eruption to throw him off. Vexingly, he had to regard it as something of a blessing. Cannon had been right; it was rather a poor bluff, and Crosswhite was very much in favor of escaping with both his life and the object of the Führer’s desire. The Bremen was still flailing about uselessly some few miles downslope, which had rather reduced his expectations; the crates of priceless artifacts would never make it back to Germany, and it was Crosswhite’s suspicion that few enough of the soldiers would, either.

He came to what he’d guessed to be an old marketplace, and mercifully, none of the Nazis had proven as bright as he was.

 

Cannon waved crew onto the cargo hoist’s platform. Choufeng counted silently as they went by. “That’s the last of them,” said Cannon. “Add you, me, and Joe. Does that square up?”

Choufeng nodded and stepped onto the platform. Cannon followed him, then waved his hat at the belly of the zep. The platform lurched, then swung slowly skyward.

Cannon looked up. Hatches closed behind the other hoist as it vanished into Inconstant. A minute or two later, his hoist was home, and he was in the zep’s hangar again. Iseabail was waiting there, pointing at crewmembers and mouthing numbers to herself. Cannon waited for her to finish.

“Nae one person left behind,” she told him, practically glowing. “An’ wi’ all the things ye brought back—”

“Only what we could carry,” Cannon said, shaking his head. “We won’t make much more than the cost of fuel.”

“They didnae tell you?” said Iseabail, raising her eyebrows and waving toward the other hoist. “Go have a look yon, cap’n.”

Intrigued, Cannon approached the crowd around the hoist and cleared his throat. The crowd parted and Cannon went forward. Three crates, coffin-sized but more than half as tall as Cannon, sat on the decking. Stamped on the sides were swastikas and the word ZERBRECHLICH. Someone had pried the top off of one of them. Joe carefully lifted a golden idol from the straw within. Two blue gems sparkled at Cannon, set in its eye sockets.

Joe showed a brilliant grin. “Henderson said the Nazis’d boxed it all up, boss. He and some others grabbed the crates and got them on the hoist.”

“Double their shares,” Cannon said. “Alright, Long Nines, listen up. We’ve got to visit France before this job is in the books, but after that it’s three weeks in Australia.” The crew started to cheer, but Cannon interrupted them. “There’ll be time for that later! Back to work. Give my regards to Mr. Churchill, and tell him to get us out of here unseen. Make ready to recover Foster’s flight…”

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