Most of the spectators watched as Joe pulled the phone from its hook, looking for some excitement fresher than the familiar thrill of the card tables.
“Copeland, hangar,” said Joe.
“Blake, bridge,” the caller replied. “Sir, one of our scouts reports contact with a Royal Navy flying boat, seventy miles south-southeast.”
Joe recalled what he’d seen the last time he’d looked out the launching hatch: rolling desert, a few rocky cliffs. “We’re over Palestine?”
“Just south of British territory.”
Joe needed only a moment’s thought. “Turn us west-northwest and sound battlestations. I’ll be up in a minute.” He returned the handset to the hook, and addressed the pirates watching him expectantly. “You heard me. Battlestations. Looks like we may have a scrap with the British after all.” They began to cheer, but Joe cut them off. “Enough of that. We’re gonna give them the slip if we can. Get the Kestrels and the Falcons ready to fly.” A moment passed, and he added, “Get to it!”
That spurred the pirates to action. Some—loaders, gunners, and engineers—ran toward the fore and aft hatches, while pilots and deck crew pounded toward their stations in the hangar. Joe watched them for a few beats, then turned and headed forward toward the bridge as the battlestations alarm rang out over the speakers.
di Giacomo held a light for Iseabail while she examined the inner side of the door. The ground team waited in the narrow, unadorned passage which the door’s opening had revealed. Iseabail, kneeling behind the door, marked the outward extent of the hall, while the far end met a passage hewn into the stony hillside against which the temple stood.
Cannon squelched the desire to go on ahead. “Isea, should we get out a torch?”