Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 53

“They’re here!” Iseabail cried.

Cannon had abandoned his position by the door, and now crouched behind the engine block, leaning out to exchange fire with a trio of Soviet torpedoes. A fourth gunman sprawled just inside the engine car, at the center of an expanding pool of blood. He was why the others still held back—he had demonstrated that charging across the catwalk was a good way to end up with a fatal case of lead poisoning.

“What are they waiting for?” Cannon replied. “I’m running low.” He leaned out and took a carefully-aimed shot. “I think I winged him.”

“Good shot.” Iseabail, further behind Cannon and fully behind the engine, stood up and waved her hands. “Ach, I think she’s gonnae—”


Emma leveled the rifle, bracing it against the door frame. The Albatross buffeted, throwing her aim off. She adjusted minutely, aiming high—grappling hooks made terrible bullets—and forward, so that drag on the hook would bring it back on target.

The sights lined up, and her gut told her she had the right point of aim. Her finger caressed the trigger, and the gun went off.

The grappling hook soared in an arc through the air. From Emma’s perspective, it moved forward relative to the engine car, then began to lose ground again. After a second and a half which felt like an eternity, the hook crashed dead center through the gondola’s window.


“—shoot!” Iseabail threw herself out of the way, and a moment later, the window shattered. A grappling hook clanked against the engine. Recovering quickly, Iseabail looped the line around an engine mount and through the hook’s tines.

“The crate, then you, then me,” Cannon instructed. “Take over.”

“Take over? I dinnae know how ta keep heads down!” Iseabail replied.

“Shoot at them,” Cannon suggested, leaning out of cover and doing just that. He grabbed the makeshift harness around the crate and pulled it back behind the engine with him.

Iseabail sighed and took his place at the very edge. She gave the Russians a moment to get confident, then put her arm around the edge of the engine and fired her Beretta blindly. A cry of pain answered her. She smiled.

“Yes, you’re very clever,” Cannon said, looping the crate’s spare strap around the grappling line. He grunted, hefted it up onto the broken window, and pushed it out of the car.

“Wait!” Iseabail shouted.

Cannon grabbed for the crate, but it was too far along the line, now picking up speed toward the Albatross and a very surprised, very peeved-looking Emma. Cannon faced Iseabail with a glare.

“The other cargo straps were tucked inta yon crate’s,” she said meekly.

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