Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 50

Iseabail became aware of a snapping sound, and looked up. Cannon, glowering impatiently, withdrew his hand from its place next to her ear.

“Sorry,” she said. “Money’s distractin’.”

“The rest of this is worth ten times what Lachapelle owes us, easy. Can we bring it?” Cannon asked.

“Well—” Iseabail stopped herself and gave Cannon a close look. “Are ye sayin’ can we bring it, or are ye sayin’ we’re bringin’ it, figure out how?”

Cannon was silent.

“Righ’. Tha’s wha’ I was afraid of.” Iseabail put her elbow in one hand and rubbed at her chin with the other. “Yer no’ usin’ yon cargo straps, aye?”

“No.” Cannon tilted his head. “Well—”

“Too late, ye already said no.” Iseabail pointed at the crate. “Pu’ the lid back on, an’ give me a hand here.”

Cannon closed the crate and lifted it on Iseabail’s instruction. She ran one strap underneath it lengthwise and one crosswise, then tightened them together. A third strap looped through the other two served as a hanger. “Now we can run it down yon line.”

“Take the last strap,” Cannon suggested.

“Wha’ for? The wee grapple gun has runners.”

Raising an eyebrow, Cannon said, “How many times have you tested it?”

Iseabail thought for a moment, then coiled the last strap and slung it over her shoulder. Cannon nodded, hefted the crate, and followed her back to the catwalk.

Over the din of the engines, now running at full power, there was a shout: “Bот!”

Volkov’s voice. The big Russian was eighty yards distant, at the catwalk leading to his stateroom. Kopeikin was with him, pointing straight at them. Four Soviets leveled their pistols. Cannon set down the crate and went for his Mauser.

He was halfway there when Iseabail cried, “Duck, cap’n!” She had the Beretta in her hand. Cannon ducked. Iseabail sent a fusillade toward the Russians, who dove to the decking and scrambled for cover. “Quick now, before yon Reds realize I cannae shoot,” she said, replacing the Beretta’s magazine. She waved the pistol at a crossing catwalk twenty yards aft. “Tha’ goes tae an engine room, aye?”

“I don’t think we have the time to look at the map,” Cannon replied, already on the move.

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