It wasn’t more than ten minutes before the Albatross circled once overhead. It was an oddball plane, a newfangled Chance-Vought design with asymmetric twin fuselages. The one on the right was short and stubby, with a glazed nose for the cockpit and a pusher engine and machine gun turret aft, while the one on the left was longer to carry cargo, with a tractor engine forward. Only the left fuselage had an empennage. A long wing linked everything together.
Presently, the Albatross lined up on the makeshift landing strip, and touched down in a swirling cloud of red dust.
Cannon waited for it as it taxied back toward Inconstant, weaving around huts until it came to a stop in the airship’s shadow. Its engines sputtered to a stop and the propellers spun down.
Cannon looked up and over his shoulder into the yawning black of Inconstant‘s hangar bay. He couldn’t see inside—it was too dark—but he was sure the crew aboard were watching.
The crew hatch on the Albatross’s right-hand fuselage opened at the same time as the right-hand fuselage’s cargo door. Pirates tumbled out of both, a dozen and a half men and women. Many of them had the bleary-eyed expression which signaled interrupted revelry.
Marcel Lecocq jumped down from the crew hatch. He was a tanned Frenchman with dark hair, dark eyes, and a neatly-kept goatee. He took a packet of cigarettes from one pocket of his flight jacket, and settled one between his lips. He took a Ronson from another pocket and put a flame to the cigarette.
Immediate needs taken care of, he looked up and caught sight of Cannon. He walked over.
“Well, Marcel?” said the captain.
“It is bad news, captain,” Lecocq replied around his cigarette. “Or at least, I think it is bad news.”
“Out with it.”
Lecocq nodded, exhaling smoke. “The South Seas Brotherhood is looking for you.”
Cannon exchanged a look with Joe. “Their radios broken?” Joe asked.
“They wanted to keep it quiet,” Lecocq replied, shaking his head. “They are assembling the whole council.”
“I’m off the council this year,” Cannon said.
“You are a witness, the man in Darwin said.”
Cannon rubbed his forehead. The South Seas Brotherhood had been around for a few years now; during his time with the Bloody Flag gang back in the mid-’20s he had been instrumental in setting it up in the first place.