They returned to the Red Banner and went aboard. The steward checking their tickets at the top of the ramp threatened to confiscate their vodka, extracting from them the usual bribe. They stopped by their cabin to leave their souvenir out of sight, then joined most of the other passengers in the lounge.
At four o’clock on the dot, the Red Banner sounded her horn once. Her engines coughed and chattered to life. Below her nose, the Hawaiian ground crew cast off her mooring lines. The massive airship slowly picked up speed, heading south. Out the lounge windows, looking down, the widely-spaced buildings gave way to a white sand beach, then to aquamarine ocean, flecked with gold where the sun caught the breakers.
A few minutes later, the sea turned from aqua to a deeper blue, and the Red Banner turned west for the long run to Yokohama. Cannon glanced at the clock on the wall. Four hours to go.
Two and a half hours later, Cannon shrugged on a gray jacket and gave himself a once-over in the mirror in their stateroom. The jacket hung loosely off his shoulders. He turned and held his arms up for Iseabail’s approval.
“Spin ’round,” she instructed. “Aye, I cannae tell tha’ yer Mauser’s there. Nae a verra nice suit, though.”
“Thanks,” Cannon said. “You look good too.”
Iseabail twirled. She wore a dark green slim-cut number she’d picked out in San Francisco, which swept down in straight lines from her waist to her ankles. It had a high slit, a feature Emma Foster—the Long Nines’ resident expert on running and fighting in dresses—had recommended. “Yer bein’ sarcastic, but yer nae wrong, either.”
“I’m glad you like it.” Cannon faced the mirror again and straightened his tie. “We’re leaving everything else behind.”
Iseabail’s face fell. “I was beginnin’ tae like dressin’ fancy again.”
“When we get paid for this score, you’ll be able to buy it all back ten times over.”
“Ach, the moment’ll be gone then.”
Cannon grinned. “The trials we pirates face. Nobody ever said it would be an easy life.” He offered her his arm.
She swatted it, then sighed and took it. “At least we’ll no’ see yon good Dr. Smith again after tonight.”
“I’m afraid I can’t make you any guarantees, Mrs. Smith. Shall we?”
Iseabail rolled her eyes. “Please.”