Nathaniel Cannon and the Lost City of Pitu No. 3

Encyclopedias, atlases, and a large-scale map of Java occupied every inch of Cannon’s mahogany desk. The ones that mentioned the Medang Kingdom did so in generalities, and the afternoon of study had taught Cannon little he didn’t already know. The Medang Kingdom ruled most of central Java between the years 800 and 1000, and the Medang civilization was responsible for some of the most interesting ruins and most beautiful artifacts in the East Indies. For some few dozen years, Pitu had been the capital. Cannon suspected he would have found more in van der Hoek’s excellent “History of the Ancient Peoples of Java and Sumatra,” but he hadn’t yet found a copy for his library.

Cannon stood. His cabin, halfway up Inconstant‘s side, nestled at that point where the curve of the zeppelin’s skin was practically vertical, and the original architect had made the wall now behind Cannon’s desk one great window, separated into panes by the rails that carried the armored shutters. They only slightly marred the view of the brilliant white cloudscape and the deep blue sky outside. Tearing himself away from the window, Cannon glanced at his wall clock. It read 5:45 p.m., and Cannon pressed the switch on his intercom.

“Bridge,” crackled the speaker.

“I’m coming forward for the six o’clock forecast,” Cannon said.

“Aye aye.”

Inconstant was only moderately-sized by modern standards, though at fifteen hundred feet she would have been incomprehensibly massive only ten years earlier. Cannon’s cabin was far aft, which left him with a good walk to the forward control gondola. It started with a long descent down a rough metal spiral staircase, which ended at the ventral catwalk. Cannon could see the bare duralumin outer walls of his cabin and library far above, and the dorsal catwalk far above that. Aft a few dozen yards, at the very end of the catwalk, was Iseabail Crannach’s lab, the light over the airlock switched off. Cannon wondered at that. When last he had seen her, she’d been deep into a project to stop the ammunition feeds on Inconstant‘s Faucon-type heavy fighters from jamming, and she rarely remembered such inconveniences as eating or sleeping when she was hot on the heels of the solution to some interesting problem.

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