Nathaniel Cannon and the Hunt for the Majestic No. 3

Emma put the other fighters out of her mind. The Long Nines in the Kestrels’ cockpits knew their machines and knew their game. The skipper spent more than enough fuel on drills and practice to be sure of that. If a Devil’s Dagger happened to slip through their fingers, Takahashi would take care of her.

She could, therefore, focus entirely on her shot. That was one of her specialties; no matter the weapon, she had a knack for hitting her mark. Her Falcon carried eight aerial rockets, which was six too many to knock out the engine car she was assigned to, and that only because they came off the racks in pairs.

The spares would come in handy if there were any fighters left after the Falcons finished their attack run. “Whiskey One here,” Emma said into her microphone. “Split and attack.”

Five clicks came back over the radio, and three Falcons banked away to the right. Emma adjusted her course slightly left. Swiftsure had three engine cars per side, a perfect fit for Inconstant‘s six Falcons.

The two flights advanced on Swiftsure‘s aft quarters, one port, one starboard. If she turned, she opened herself to an attack from one or the other. She went on dead ahead.

In doing so, the Devil’s Daggers stretched out the chase, but not by very much. The Falcon was easily three times faster than even the fastest zep, and only a few minutes went by before the Falcons were in position. By now, Swiftsure‘s fighters were tangling with the Kestrels some miles away off the airship’s stern.

“Whiskey One. Make your runs.” Emma grinned. She loved this part.

The two flights of Falcons turned inward, approaching Swiftsure at about forty-five degrees aft of the airship’s beam on each side. The zep’s captain had to turn now—if he didn’t, he risked all his engines instead of only half of them. Theoretically, at any rate. The Long Nines preferred this sort of attack, and drilled it to perfection.

Emma watched Swiftsure‘s tailfins. The pattern of shadows at the back edge changed, and the airship’s nose swung to starboard, showing her flank to Emma.

Without any specific instructions, the flight coming up on Swiftsure‘s other flank wheeled and reoriented itself for a second pass. Emma pushed her throttle to the forward stop. The engine behind her growled a higher note. “Whiskey One. I have the forward engine,” she said.

“Two, middle.”

“Three, aft.”

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