This may be a blessing in disguise, as von Carnaj was only a day or so at most from realizing the impracticality of his plans or having that impracticality demonstrated to him, violently. If he had to be foiled, surely he’d prefer to be foiled by the great Payet Best.

See, here’s the problem. Aerial piracy on a “big balloon” really isn’t practical when there are no other extant airships to steal from. Maybe you can sweep into a town with the element of surprise, but once the people realize you’re an enemy, it would not take much doing for them to disable your craft during its slow and vulnerable takeoff or landing. ESPECIALLY if you’re using highly flammable gas.

In von Carnaj’s mild defense, he doesn’t seem to have a goal beyond living in his own little fantasy world, and by that metric, he is wildly successful. Considering how committed he is to his role and that he already knew Best was on the boat, one wonders if he’s genuinely surprised here or just turning his back so Best can “surprise” him.

The alt text on an earlier page may’ve teased some readers into thinking Best was in over his head by taking on the whole pirate crew, but nope, not this time.