Unique among Inconstant‘s aircraft, her two Albatrossses had conventional landing gear, instead of just arresting hooks, and Cannon pulled the handle for the former as he lined up with the road. The plane passed low over Castle Incus, and Cannon caught a glimpse of upturned faces on the ramparts as they flashed by below. Two hundred yards later, the Albatross touched down, bounced once, and settled, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake.
“That could have been bumpier. Do the monks keep this road smooth?” Cannon asked. Di Giacomo shrugged, and in the copilot’s seat, Choufeng Chuang showed no reaction at all. Cannon turned the plane around, goosed the throttles, and taxied up to Castle Incus’ gate. He shut the engines off and got up.
This time, he’d only brought di Giacomo and Choufeng. The former was a wiry Italian, olive-skinned with dark, wavy hair and a well-kept, luxurient moustache, who wore desert khaki much like Cannon’s. Choufeng, originally from Hong Kong, was the oldest member of the Long Nines gang at somewhere north of sixty—he had never said, but his white queue and goatee and his lined face told of a long, many-storied life. He didn’t tell many stories, or even talk much at all, for that matter, but he had won Inconstant‘s boxing tournament every year since its inception, and he was a learned and experienced man whose judgement Cannon trusted.
They disembarked through the crew hatch in the right-side fuselage. Castle Incus, Cannon thought, didn’t make a very good second impression, either. A keep and courtyard, behind a wall that looked like a row of jagged teeth, was all that remained of the original fortifications. Cannon had seen some evidence of a curtain wall from the plane, but centuries of cannibalization, no doubt to repair the keep, had reduced it to invisibility from this perspective. Even so, the keep was in poor shape. It had probably been built with four turreted towers, but only the one on the corner furthest from Cannon remained standing.