Nathaniel Cannon and the Hunt for the Majestic No. 25

At the turn onto the Topside road, six black-clad figures spread out across the intersection. Two headed west, uphill; two went east, back toward the Long Tail. All four melted into the underbrush, machine pistols covering the road.

The other two found their way to a place where the road cut through a gully, then set to work with a hand auger produced from one of their satchels. One bored a row of holes into the hillside. The other slid a paper-wrapped cylinder trailing wires into each one.

They worked quickly, packing dirt into the holes to disguise them. Gathering the wires, they clambered up the hillside, then slipped away into the jungle.

The other four joined them.

“Detonator?” said the young woman, part of the returning western pair.

One of the sappers produced a small box wired to a large battery. He flipped a switch on its side and frowned. “That’s wrong.”


He tapped a glass dome on top of the box. “There should be a green light. The radio’s broken.”

The woman shook her head, lips pressed together. “That won’t do. Do you have the backup?”

“The manual detonator? But—”

“Set it up,” said the woman. “Then get back to the airfield and tell Lecocq to get airborne. I’ll stay here and leave with the captain.”

A few of the others exchanged looks. “If you say so.”

“I do. Hop to it.”


“Do I owe you for the civics lesson?” Emma said, cutting Cannon off.

He rolled his eyes. For all her talent and sheer inventiveness when it came to a fight, she was still young. Cannon was not. Sometimes it grated on him. “You can just say, ‘I’m not interested,'” he pointed out. “Pirate society is your society now. Far be it—”

“I’m not in—”

“I worked that out, yes.” Coming to the door into the barracks, Cannon paused and looked to his left. The truck approached. “Ready?”

Emma smiled toothily. “Go in, ask questions, shoot anyone who tries to stop us leaving. My kind of job.”

Cannon gave her an approving nod, swung the doors open, and stepped through.

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