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The Pharaoh's Secret (NUMA Files 13) Clive Cussler 2022/7/22 13:55:07

“Stay with Kensington,” Kurt said. “I’m going after them.”

Before Joe could protest, Kurt climbed through what was left of the window and began scrambling down the boom of the crane.

Kurt crawled down the length of the crane using the circular holes in the steel beam as handholds. He saw three men with guns running across the street toward a microvan parked on the far side. He hopped off the boom when he was close enough to the ground and discovered several workmen had been shot to access the crane.

Across the street, the lights of the van came on and the engine roared to life.

Kurt looked around for something to chase them with. The only real option was a tiny Citro?n dump truck. It had a narrow wheelbase and a tall profile that gave it an odd look, by American standards, but was a far better fit for the constricted roads of a small island.

He raced over to it, climbed in, found the keys in the ignition. As the engine turned over, he jammed the truck into gear and accelerated across the plaza on a diagonal, driving down the steps and trying desperately to cut off the microvan.

The little van was too nimble to be stopped. It swerved around him, drove up on the sidewalk for a hundred feet and then careened back onto the road.

Kurt threw the transmission into reverse, backed up and worked the wheel around until the dump truck was pointed in the right direction.

He was about to hit the gas when a familiar face appeared in front of the museum.

“Get in!” he shouted.

Joe piled into the truck’s cab as Kurt stepped on the gas pedal.

“Couldn’t you rent anything smaller?” Joe asked.

“Free upgrade,” Kurt said. “Membership has its privileges.”

“What happens when the cops decide those privileges don’t include stealing dump trucks from the scene of a crime?”

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“Depends,” Kurt said.

“On whether we’ve caught the bad guys by then or not.”

Despite the roar of the dump truck’s engine, that prospect didn’t seem likely. The microvan was no horsepower champion, but it was spry and maneuverable and was quickly outdistancing them. By comparison, the dump truck felt slow and ponderous.

An area of congestion evened the playing field for a moment, but the little van was soon swerving through the traffic. Kurt didn’t have that option. He switched on all the lights and leaned on the horn with reckless abandon.

In response to the oncoming truck, drivers with any sense got out of the way, but several vehicles parked on the side of the road were not so lucky. Kurt couldn’t help but sideswipe them, taking out five consecutive mirrors.

“I think you missed one,” Joe said.

“We’ll hit it on the way back.”

With his foot to the floor, Kurt kept the truck accelerating. “I thought I told you to stay with Kensington,” he said.

“I meant, until help arrived.”

“Be more specific next time.”

They were gaining on the van now, picking up speed, as the road opened up and dropped down to the waterfront, where it curved along the harbor’s edge past million-dollar yachts and small fishing boats. Someone in the van didn’t seem happy with that idea. He shot out the back window and began blazing away at the dump truck following them.

Kurt instinctively ducked as the front window was peppered with shells. At the same time, he swerved to the right, up onto a side road that angled inland, taking them away from the harbor.

“Now we’re going the wrong way,” Joe noted.