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The Pharaoh's Secret (NUMA Files 13) Clive Cussler 2022/7/22 13:55:29

“But how did they learn to wake people up again?”

“It’s not entirely clear yet,” answered Kurt. “But eventually they realized that the frog’s skin was the key. The same enzyme that woke the frogs was released in the smoke. Once the humans inhaled it, their nervous systems began to return to normal. Though, from what we’ve read, it took months for their recovery to become fully completed.”

Renata sighed. “I guess I should be thankful that the biologists working for Osiris improved on the process.”

He nodded. “Better still, there’s a great deal of research going on into the possible uses of this extract. As the biologist from Shakir’s lab suggested, it’s being tested as a way to put trauma victims into induced comas instead of using harsher drugs. It’s also being proposed for the space program to put astronauts to sleep for long journeys into space to Mars and beyond.”

“Makes me wonder what else the ancient Egyptians knew that we’ve yet to discover.”

“Now that they’ve drained the water from the underground tomb, archaeologists are preparing to make a proper survey. I’m sure they’ll discover enough new information and facts of historical significance to keep them busy for many years.”

Renata lifted a glass and took a sip of the champagne before standing and leaning against him. “What about the Saharianas?” she asked. “Did you ever find out how they got there?”

Kurt nodded. “The soldier we found and the six others drove the vehicles across the desert on a moonless night. They were supposed to lie in wait and harass the English rear guard when Rommel and the rest of the Axis forces made a frontal assault, but Rommel was turned back at El Alamein before he could reach Cairo.”

“So they waited in vain.”

Kurt nodded. “It’s probably the only reason any of them survived. As it turned out, the drivers were Italian Army regulars, but their crews were made up of Italian expatriates who were living in Cairo. At the time, the city had a large Italian population, including the British ambassador’s Italian wife. That’s why the letter suggested the men would be shot as spies if they were caught.”

“Any chance they’ll find Anna-Marie’s family?” Renata asked. “I imagine they’d want to know what happened.”

Kurt finished his glass of champagne and set it on the deck. The boat barely swayed in the calm waters. “Historians from your country are looking for her and any of the soldiers’ kin as we speak.”

She sighed. “I hope they find her. He did the right thing, sending his men home. Why should they have died for a man like Mussolini? Why should anyone?”

“I couldn’t agree more,” said Kurt. “Especially since those armored cars wouldn’t have been there, waiting for us to come along. Had they gone out to battle, they would have been massacred by the British.”

“So now what?” she asked, stroking one of his arms. “Do we get to stay here forever and drink fine champagne, swim in warm water and sleep in the sun?”

Kurt stared across the turquoise sea. “I fail to see why not.”

“You have to promise to stay out of my wine cellar,” replied Kurt.

“Surely you jest.” Zavala made a sour face. “You’re talking to a man who never touches that sissy water.”

“And what do you drink?” asked Renata.

Zavala grinned. “Dear heart, you’re talking to a man—a real man—who drinks straight tequila, with lime and salt on the rim, and smokes cigars.”