Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 45

Volkov looked up. “You are not archaeologists.”

Cannon lowered his pistol incrementally. “Pirates, actually.”

Volkov nodded. “Is very valuable item in my—”

“Yes, the idol.” Cannon waved the Mauser as he spoke. “That’s what we’re here for. You went and dug up something a very rich man wants for himself.”


Cannon snorted. “I’m not that rich.”

The Russian sighed. “I hoped to pay for your service.”

“It’s aye an odd time tae be askin’—” Iseabail began.

Cannon shushed her. “How so?”

Volkov met his gaze. “Knock me out too. If I am also asleep, Kopeikin will know I was not guilty. Then, after time passes and I am with my family in Leningrad, bring us out.”

“Can you pay?”

“I will tell you where to find idol.”

Cannon shook his head. “That’s a good down payment. What else?”

Volkov looked over Cannon’s shoulder as he thought. “I have access to museums. In Leningrad, we have State Hermitage. It has art and antiquities to spare.”

“I think we may be able to do business,” said Cannon. He kept the pistol more or less covering Volkov. “We’ll be in touch. Now, where’s the idol?”

“In luggage hold, aft of crew spaces on deck below. Go through hatch at end of hallway, then aft, but you will never get there without distraction.”

At that very moment, an alarm came over the intercom. Captain Rokossovsky’s voice said, “All passengers, return to your cabins at once.”

Cannon grinned. “Well, would you look at that. Isea, keep him covered. Volkov, face the nice girl with the gun, would you?” He walked up behind the Russian and held the handkerchief over his face. “Now breathe in deep.”


Emma Foster squinted at a dial on her cockpit dash, then hunted for a switch on the sidewall. She flipped it on, and the instruments glowed from behind. Plenty of fuel to spare. She pushed her throttle forward. The two Bentley radials behind her rumbled a little louder.

She flew one of Inconstant‘s Kestrels. The Long Nines’ take on the airframe ditched the original inline engine in favor of just under two thousand horsepower of persnickety British motor. The Kestrels were agile and very, very fast, but Emma couldn’t stand them. She preferred the Falcon, a stouter design which took less finesse. Being tall, willowy, and as fond of a good brawl as the next Australian, she had her fill of finesse fighting hand to hand.

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