Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 55

In one smooth motion, Cannon kicked Kopeikin’s pistol out the hatch and picked up his belt. The pistol skipped off the decking, clanked against one of the railing’s poles, and fell into the growing gloom below.

Cannon dashed behind the engine, slipped his Mauser into its holster, and looped the belt over the line. From the sound of the footsteps, the Russians were right behind him. As he jumped, the tails of his jacket slipped through Kopeikin’s grasping fingers.


“But why’d you have to go and throw a crate at me?” Emma said, punctuating the question with a finger in Iseabail’s face.

“If’n ye’d just—”

Emma threw her hands up. “First I have to come in before I even get to take a shot at the Reds.” Out the cargo door, perhaps a mile distant, a fireball blossomed near the surface of the sea. Moments later, a pillar of spray shot skyward. “See? I could have had that kill!”

“Let me explain—”

Emma shushed Iseabail. “And another thing—”

“It’s the cap’n!” Iseabail said.

Indeed it was. His jacket billowing behind him, Cannon swung side-to-side along the makeshift zipline, a dark spot against the silver flank of the zeppelin and the wall of cloud, now fading to purple in the twilight. Behind Cannon, a Russian gunman pointed a machine pistol out the engine car’s window and opened up. Bullets pinged off of the Albatross’s skin. Emma grabbed a rifle from a rack on the wall, worked the bolt, and took aim. Cannon, still sliding along the zipline, twisted out of the way as she fired.

Cannon swung his feet up and threw himself in through the cargo door, sliding across the deck and slamming into the fuselage’s opposite wall. Iseabail cut the zipline. As it slithered out of the plane, she rolled the cargo door closed.

Cannon sat up, wincing. Emma reverentially placed the rifle back in the rack, turned to Cannon, and slapped him. “That’s for throwing the crate at me,” she explained, helpfully.

Cannon rubbed at his cheek. “Did you see what’s in it?”

“I don’t see how that matters, skipper.”

He gave her a quizzical look. “We went aboard that zep to steal treasure. What did you think we brought back? Books? A year’s supply of onions?”

Emma’s mouth made an ‘ah’ shape. “How much?” she asked meekly.

“Whatever it comes to, a half share for you.” Cannon reached out toward her, grabbed her headset microphone, and twisted it so that he could speak into it. “We’re aboard. Take us home.”

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