Nathaniel Cannon and the Secret of the Dutchman’s Cross No. 70

“Copy that. You sitting this one out?”

“That’s right, Joe.” The Albatross rocked beneath Cannon as the hangar crew moved it from the skyhook to the hangar rails. “I’m a little banged up. You’ll be in command out there.”

“Sure thing. I”ll get suited up. Inconstant out.”

The deck crew, now engaged in readying Inconstant‘s warbirds, moved one of the Gorcrow medium bombers aside, then slid the Albatross in behind it, out of the way for the coming fight. It swung gently as it came to a stop, and a thump sounded through the frame as a deck crewman leaned a ladder against the cargo door. Emma and Lecocq helped Cannon through the crawlway, where Iseabail, Burr, and di Giacomo had already climbed down to the deck. Emma and Lecocq followed them, but Cannon paused at the cargo door to watch the deck operations.

A hundred pirates scurried around to the whining of hydraulics and electric motors and the cough of idling engines, preparing Inconstant‘s planes for a fight. Some dragged fuel hoses, carrying them up ladders to the hanging planes. Amidst the vinelike tangle of the hanging fuel lines, other deck crewmen carried ammunition cans, extra belts draped around their shoulders. Others, balanced precariously on wings and halfway falling out of open cockpits, fed ammunition belts into open access panels over the machine guns. Still others, working in teams, carried rockets and aerial torpedoes from the magazine, winching them from the deck up to the airplanes. There, men and women hanging in harnesses maneuvered the weapons onto launch rails.

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