Cannon pushed the doors open. The council room had changed since his last term. He stepped into a pool of light, cast by a spotlight on the balcony, facing a table at which seven shadowy figures sat.
He glanced over at Emma, who had taken up position outside the pool of light. Her arms hung loosely at her sides. Her index finger twitched. “When we built the Brotherhood,” Cannon said, to nobody in particular, “I wouldn’t have guessed we were three years away from cheap theater tricks.”
A man’s hearty laugh answered him. The figure at the center of the table turned to his neighbor and held a hand out toward Cannon. “You see? Never at a loss for words, our old friend.”
That was Radzinsky’s voice. The man was a brute, but a sly one, who smiled in the same way a shark might, and called people ‘friend’ like a Chicago mob torpedo delivering a last warning.
“I knew you would turn up,” Radzinsky went on. “Too curious. Too proud. As always, it will be your downfall.”
“Downfall?” said Cannon, exchanging a look with Emma, or at least with Emma’s silhouette. The spotlight was playing havoc with his dark vision. “Last I checked, I was doing fine.”
“And yet here you are, trapped. Frank?”
A moment passed.
“Frank’s taking a little nap,” Cannon said.
Radzinsky tutted. “Soft.”
“I won’t kill a man just because he’s in my way, if that’s what you mean,” said Cannon.
“And yet here you are, accused of just that.”
Cannon folded his arms. “Is that so?”
“Seven Devil’s Daggers are dead, lost at sea after you destroyed their engines, stole their prize, and set a bomb aboard their zeppelin.”
“I did no such thing!” Cannon said. “Is that the garbage Thorne’s been feeding you? You don’t have a shred of evidence.”
“If you would like to defend yourself…” Radzinsky made a show of shuffling papers on the table. “You deny that you stopped Swiftsure to take Majestic for yourself?”
“Majestic was my prize to begin with!”
Before Cannon finished, Radzinsky says, “Let the record show he does not deny it. Did you destroy Swiftsure‘s engines?”
“I gave him every chance to stop.”
“Again, he does not deny the charge. And you placed a bomb aboard Swiftsure, to destroy it after you left? To complete your revenge?”
“I did not. I would—” Cannon stopped. He wouldn’t, not anymore, but a year ago? He very well might have. Word didn’t travel that fast, especially since the Long Nines had been off the grid for a few months after the debacle in Panama.