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The Pharaoh's Secret (NUMA Files 13) Clive Cussler 2022/7/22 13:55:08

Kurt had the pedal mashed to the floor. He manhandled the truck into a lower gear, keeping up the revs and the horsepower.

“And now we’re going the wrong way even faster,” Joe added.

“We’re taking a shortcut,” Kurt said. “The coastline here is like a bunch of fingers sticking out into the harbor. While they follow the outline of those fingers, we’re going to cut across the palm.”

“Or get lost,” Joe added. “Since we have no map.”

“All we have to do is keep the harbor to the left of us,” he said.

“And hope they don’t turn around.”

The harbor was easy to keep track of since all the forts and important buildings surrounding it were lit up by floodlights. From higher ground it was even possible to see the lower road.

“There,” Joe said, pointing.

Kurt saw it too. The little microvan was continuing on. Speeding as it had before. Apparently, the driver had no interest in blending in.

The dump truck rumbled onto the descending grade and began to pick up speed. It shook and shuddered and the load of broken concrete and rebar in the back jumped around, creating a jarring racket.

They angled toward the intersection.

“What are you going to do?” Joe asked.

“Like the Romans, I’m going to ram them.”

Joe hastily looked for seat belts and found none.

They hit the merge, shot out onto the road and missed. Picking up so much speed on the downslope had thrown Kurt’s timing off. They’d taken the lead.

“We’re now in front of the van we’re supposed to be chasing,” Joe said.

“So do something about it.”

Joe did the only rational thing he could think of. He shoved the lever for the hydraulics in the dump bed upward. The bed tilted and thousands of pounds of broken concrete, twisted metal and other construction debris went sliding out.

The load of debris tumbled toward the speeding van, slamming into it like a minor avalanche. The grille and radiator caved in from the first impact. The windshield shattered from bouncing fist-sized chunks of concrete and the van careened out of control, heading off the road and tipping over.

Kurt slammed on the brakes and the dump truck skidded to a halt. He jumped out and began running for the overturned van. Joe followed, grabbing a crowbar for a weapon.

They reached the van to find steam pouring from the radiator and every piece of sheet metal dented and mangled. The scent of gasoline wafted through the air.

A quick check told them the man in the passenger seat was dead. A chunk of rubble had come through the window and caught him in the head. But he was the only one inside.

“Where are the others?” Joe asked.

Bodies were often thrown from vehicles in rollover accidents, but, looking around, Kurt saw no one. Then, in the distance, he spotted two figures running across the rocks, heading for the lights of Fort Saint Angelo.

“Hope you brought your running shoes,” he said, taking off after them. “We’re not done yet.”

Dr. Hagen ran headlong for the fort in the distance, propelled forward by a sense of shock and fear. Things were going from bad to worse. He’d listened in with a bug as Kensington almost told the men from NUMA what he was after. He’d panicked and demanded that the men from Osiris kill the museum curator before he could expose them, which he was fairly certain they had accomplished. But everything since had been a disaster: the pursuit, the crash, losing their guns in the rollover.

“We need help,” Hagen shouted. “Call f