The Brotherhood was a cross between a trade association and a pirate court. They had an airship which roamed the skies broadcasting under the name South Seas Radio, providing helpful news on military patrols and weather conditions around the East Indies, among other things. They kept tabs on a network of prize agents of the European powers willing to pay for captured zeps no questions asked, bribed police on behalf of favored arms, aircraft, and parts dealers, and generally greased the wheels for pirates running in the South Pacific, all at a very reasonable cost.
That part wasn’t controversial. Nor was their Code, the rules under which pirates more or less agreed to operate, to cut down on infighting and stick to the real meaning of the business: making money.
The problem was, they had lately been broadening their charter. Now they had a council—a High Council, they called it—which could investigate, and try, and sentence. That rubbed Cannon the wrong way. There were already rules. The Code of the Brotherhood laid out exactly what one pirate was forbidden to do to another, and exactly what the second pirate could do if the first one stepped out of line. There wasn’t any place in the equation for a higher authority. Cannon had never taken a poll, but he was pretty sure most pirate captains weren’t in the game to submit to someone else’s code.
He let his hand fall from his forehead. “You’d better start at the beginning.”
They retired to Cannon’s office in Port Gunport, a thatch-roofed plank-walled square hut just like all the rest, but for a crudely-painted sign in front of the door which read, “NO FUN PAST THIS POINT”. Emma’s handwriting, of course.
“You spoil that girl,” Lecocq observed, a measured neutrality in his voice.
Cannon smiled ruefully. “Maybe.”
“Will you take the sign down?”
Cannon looked to the sign, then back to Lecocq. “Is it wrong?” Lecocq coughed, taking his cigarette in hand. Cannon grinned. “That’s what I thought.”
He pushed the door open. It wasn’t much, the little hut, a single room fifteen feet across. The walls rattled in a stiff breeze, but the middle of nowhere Australia didn’t get many stiff breezes. Cannon wasn’t much for decorating. All he had here was a cot, a desk, and a few battered wooden folding chairs.
He waved Lecocq and Joe to the seats in front of the desk, and took the remaining chair around behind it. “Why don’t you tell me what happened in Darwin?”
Lecocq embarked on the story, told staccato with the occasional jab at the air with his cigarette.