“All right,” said Cannon, “where’s the— Frank?”
“Frank?” Emma echoed, blinking. She stood just behind Cannon and to one side, in a tiled hall a dozen yards from end to end and three stories tall. Arches supported balconies on the floors above, framing a shadowy path around the periphery of the room.
Facing them, near the far wall, was a battered wooden desk. A grubby-looking man, short and stocky, half-rose as they entered.
Emma’s eyebrows went up. She hadn’t known the skipper for all that long, but she did know that nobody called him that.
To her surprise, he hid his grimace well. “Emma, meet Frank Price, of the Bloody Flag last I knew. Frank, this is Emma, one of my Long Nines. It’s Captain Cannon for now. I’m here on business.”
Emma recalled that Cannon used to fly under the Bloody Flag, back when Miles Morris still ran the show. The skipper had struck out on his own after the rest of the Bloody Flaggers gave Morris the boot. “Charmed,” she said dryly, to fill the tense silence.
Price cautiously returned to his seat. “You know, N— Captain, Radzinsky’s on the council now.”
“I figured as much, with you here,” Cannon said, taking a step closer to the desk.
Emma watched Price’s eyes. He was fixated entirely on Cannon. Slowly, Emma slipped off to the side of the room.
“I have to call the enforcers on you,” Price said apologetically.
“It’s nothing personal,” Cannon said.
“It’s nothing—” Price began, then nodded jerkily. Cannon took another step forward. Price flinched.
Emma reached the wall. Moving fluidly and silently, she made for the back wall. She needn’t have bothered. A piper and a drummer couldn’t have gotten Price’s attention.
“It’s just I have orders,” Price said frantically, as Cannon drew still closer. He scrabbled around in a drawer, produced a revolver—
And Emma’s blackjack thudded against the back of his head. He slumped forward across the desk.
Cannon smiled. “I didn’t even have to ask.”
“If I’d left him any longer you’d have given him a heart attack,” Emma replied. “A hit to the head’s a kind of mercy. What made him so scared?”
“The story’s too long to tell now. Ask me later,” said Cannon. He fished in his pocket and tossed her a ball of twine. “Truss him up.”
Emma got to work, while Cannon flipped through the papers on Frank’s desk.
“Anything good?” she said.
Cannon shook his head and inspected her knots. “Good,” he said. “Well, let’s say hello.”