Vitamins, Supplements, Sport Nutrition

CHAPTER 118

Dressed in his loincloth, Mal’akh padded back and forth in front of Peter Solomon’s wheelchair. “Peter,” he whispered, enjoying every moment of his captive’s horror, “you forgot you have a second family . . . your Masonic brothers. And I will destroy them, too . . . unless you help me.”

Solomon looked almost catatonic in the glow of the laptop sitting atop his thighs. “Please,” he finally stammered, glancing up. “If this video gets out . . .”

“If?” Mal’akh laughed. “If it gets out?” He motioned to the small cellular modem plugged into the side of his laptop. “I’m connected to the world.”

“You wouldn’t . . .”

I will, Mal’akh thought, enjoying Solomon’s horror. “You have the power to stop me,” he said. “And to save your sister. But you have to tell me what I want to know. The Lost Word is hidden somewhere, Peter, and I know this grid reveals exactly where to find it.”

Peter glanced at the grid of symbols again, his eyes revealing nothing.

“Perhaps this will help to inspire you.” Mal’akh reached over Peter’s shoulders and hit a few keys on the laptop. An e-mail program launched on the screen, and Peter stiffened visibly. The

screen now displayed an e-mail that Mal’akh had cued earlier tonight—a video file addressed to a long list of major media networks.

Mal’akh smiled. “I think it’s time we share, don’t you?”

“Don’t!”

Mal’akh reached down and clicked the send button on the program. Peter jerked against his bonds, trying unsuccessfully to knock the laptop to the floor.

“Relax, Peter,” Mal’akh whispered. “It’s a massive file. It will take a few minutes to go out.” He pointed to the progress bar:

SENDING MESSAGE: 2% COMPLETE

“If you tell me what I want to know, I’ll stop the e-mail, and nobody will ever see this.” Peter was ashen as the task bar inched forward.

SENDING MESSAGE: 4% COMPLETE

Mal’akh now lifted the computer from Peter’s lap and set it on one of the nearby pigskin chairs, turning the screen so the other man could watch the progress. Then he returned to Peter’s side and laid the page of symbols in his lap. “The legends say the Masonic Pyramid will unveil the Lost Word. This is the pyramid’s final code. I believe you know how to read it.”

Mal’akh glanced over at the laptop.

SENDING MESSAGE: 8% COMPLETE

Mal’akh returned his eyes to Peter. Solomon was staring at him, his gray eyes blazing now with hatred.

Hate me, Mal’akh thought. The greater the emotion, the more potent the energy that will be released when the ritual is completed.

At Langley, Nola Kaye pressed the phone to her ear, barely able to hear Sato over the noise of the helicopter.

“They said it’s impossible to stop the file transfer!” Nola shouted. “To shut down local ISPs

would take at least an hour, and if he’s got access to a wireless provider, killing the ground-based Internet won’t stop him from sending it anyway.”

Nowadays, stopping the flow of digital information had become nearly impossible. There were too many access routes to the Internet. Between hard lines, Wi-Fi hot spots, cellular modems, SAT phones, superphones, and e-mail-equipped PDAs, the only way to isolate a potential data leak was by destroying the source machine.

“I pulled the spec sheet on the UH-60 you’re flying,” Nola said, “and it looks like you’re equipped with EMP.”

Electromagnetic-pulse or EMP guns were now commonplace among law enforcement agencies, which used them primarily to stop car chases from a safe distance. By firing a highly concentrated pulse of electromagnetic radiation, an EMP gun could effectively fry the electronics of any device it targeted—cars, cell phones, computers. According to Nola’s spec sheet, the UH-60 had a chassis-mounted, laser-sighted, six-gigahertz magnetron with a fifty-dB-gain horn that yielded a ten-gigawatt pulse. Discharged directly at a laptop, the pulse would fry the computer’s motherboard and instantly erase the hard drive.

“EMP will be useless,” Sato yelled back. “Target is inside a stone building. No sight lines and thick EM shielding. Do you have any indication yet if the video has gone out?”

Nola glanced at a second monitor, which was running a continuous search for breaking news stories about the Masons. “Not yet, ma’am. But if it goes public, we’ll know within seconds.”

“Keep me posted.” Sato signed off.

Langdon held his breath as the helicopter dropped from the sky toward Dupont Circle. A handful of pedestrians scattered as the aircraft descended through an opening in the trees and landed hard on the lawn just south of the famous two-tiered fountain designed by the same two men who created the Lincoln Memorial.

Thirty seconds later, Langdon was riding shotgun in a commandeered Lexus SUV, tearing up New Hampshire Avenue toward the House of the Temple.

Peter Solomon was desperately trying to figure out what to do. All he could see in his mind were the images of Katherine bleeding in the basement . . . and of the video he had just witnessed. He turned his head slowly toward the laptop on the pigskin chair several yards away. The progress bar was almost a third of the way filled.

SENDING MESSAGE: 29% COMPLETE

The tattooed man was now walking slow circles around the square altar, swinging a lit censer and chanting to himself. Thick puffs of white smoke swirled up toward the skylight. The man’s

eyes were wide now, and he seemed to be in a demonic trance. Peter turned his gaze to the ancient knife that sat waiting on the white silk cloth spread across the altar.

Peter Solomon had no doubt that he would die in this temple tonight. The question was how to die. Would he find a way to save his sister and his brotherhood . . . or would his death be entirely in vain?

He glanced down at the grid of symbols. When he had first laid eyes on the grid, the shock of the moment had blinded him . . . preventing his vision from piercing the veil of chaos . . . to glimpse the startling truth. Now, however, the real significance of these symbols had become crystal clear to him. He had seen the grid in an entirely new light.

Peter Solomon knew exactly what he needed to do.

Taking a deep breath, he gazed up at the moon through the oculus above. Then he began to speak.

All great truths are simple.

Mal’akh had learned that long ago.

The solution that Peter Solomon was now explaining was so graceful and pure that Mal’akh was sure that it could only be true. Incredibly, the solution to the pyramid’s final code was far simpler than he had ever imagined.

The Lost Word was right before my eyes.

In an instant, a bright ray of light pierced the murkiness of the history and myth surrounding the Lost Word. As promised, the Lost Word was indeed written in an ancient language and bore mystical power in every philosophy, religion, and science ever known to man. Alchemy, astrology, Kabbalah, Christianity, Buddhism, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, astronomy, physics, Noetics . . .

Standing now in this initiation chamber atop the great pyramid of Heredom, Mal’akh gazed upon the treasure he had sought all these years, and he knew he could not have prepared himself more perfectly.

Soon I am complete.

The Lost Word is found.

In Kalorama Heights, a lone CIA agent stood amid a sea of garbage that he had dumped out of the trash bins that had been found in the garage.

“Ms. Kaye?” he said, speaking to Sato’s analyst on the phone. “Good thinking to search his garbage. I think I just found something.”

Inside the house, Katherine Solomon was feeling stronger with every passing moment. The infusion of lactated Ringer’s solution had successfully raised her blood pressure and quelled her throbbing headache. She was resting now, seated in the dining room, with explicit instructions to remain still. Her nerves felt frayed, and she was increasingly anxious for news about her brother.

Where is everybody? The CIA’s forensics team had not yet arrived, and the agent who had stayed behind was still off searching the premises. Bellamy had been sitting with her in the dining room, still wrapped in a foil blanket, but he, too, had wandered off to look for any information that might help the CIA save Peter.

Unable to sit idly, Katherine pulled herself to her feet, teetered, and then inched slowly toward the living room. She found Bellamy in the study. The Architect was standing at an open drawer, his back to her, apparently too engrossed in its contents to hear her enter.

She walked up behind him. “Warren?”

The old man lurched and turned, quickly shutting the drawer with his hip. His face was lined with shock and grief, his cheeks streaked with tears.

“What’s wrong?!” She glanced down at the drawer. “What is it?”

Bellamy seemed unable to speak. He had the look of a man who had just seen something he deeply wished he had not.

“What’s in the drawer?” she demanded.

Bellamy’s tear-filled eyes held hers for a long, sorrowful moment. Finally he spoke. “You and I wondered why . . . why this man seemed to hate your family.”

Katherine’s brow furrowed. “Yes?”

“Well . . .” Bellamy’s voice caught. “I just found the answer.”