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The Pharaoh's Secret (NUMA Files 13) Clive Cussler 2022/7/22 13:55:11

Kurt shrugged. “It was worth a shot.”

Cabrillo grinned at the exchange, then turned back to Kurt. “What are you really doing here?”

Kurt pointed toward the men they were fighting. “Those men have something to do with the disaster on Lampedusa.”

“Is NUMA investigating that?”

“By way of another government,” Kurt said.

Cabrillo nodded. “Sounds like we’ve both got our hands full. Anything I can do to help?”

A new series of shots came in. All three of them pressed deeper into the recess under the lowest shelf. When they returned fire, the assailants pulled back once more.

“Not sure,” Kurt said. “It’s all connected to some Egyptian artifacts I hoped to find here.”

“Good luck finding anything in this place,” Cabrillo said. “We’ve been looking for a book Napoleon had on Saint Helena.”

The woman shot him an icy gaze, but Juan ignored it.

“An old copy of the Odyssey?” Kurt said. “With some handwritten notes in the margin?”

“That’s the one. Have you seen it?”

Kurt pointed toward their adversaries. “That way.”

By now, the gunfire had dwindled to the occasional random shot. With each group in a protected area and the space in between empty and dangerous.

“They seem intent on keeping us from heading that way,” Juan noted.

“I’ve got a solution,” Kurt said. He looked up and whistled to Joe.

Joe resumed his climb to the smoke detector. He made it to the highest point on the upper shelf but couldn’t reach the sensor. He moved a box out of the way and stretched, an effort that put him out in the open. One gunman fired. Bullets began punching holes in the ceiling around Joe.

Kurt looked down the aisle and raised his pistol, but Cabrillo fired first. The assailant fell with a single shot.

With the coast clear, Joe reached for the smoke detector again and pressed the Taser against it. The heat of four thousand volts of snapping and sparking was instantly picked up as a potential fire. Alarms began to screech, strobes began flashing and jets of CO2 blasted out into the open space of the warehouse.

The assailants waited only seconds before making a run for it. The CO2 stopped pumping shortly after Joe pulled the Taser away from the sensor, but the authorities would be coming.

“Forty feet past that intersection,” he said to Cabrillo. “First shelf on the left. I’d hurry, if I were you.”

Cabrillo offered a hand. “Till next time.”

Kurt shook it. “Over drinks instead of bullets.”

With that, Cabrillo and the woman took off and Joe finished climbing back down to the ground level.

“Was that who I think it was?” Joe said as soon as he landed.

Kurt nodded. “You meet the nicest people in warehouses like this. Come on, let’s get out of here.”

They made their way to the loading dock only to discover a sea of fire engines and police cars pulling into the back lot. Unmarked vehicles, filled with members of the gala’s real security team, were racing up as well.

“Side door,” Joe suggested.

They ducked back into the warehouse and hustled across it to another exit. Joe looked through the door into an alleyway. “Looks clear.”

They pushed out into the alley, but lights swung into the space before they’d gone five steps. A spotlight zeroed in on them and lit them up, as the flashing red-and-blue light bar on the roof dazzled. Both of them stopped in their tracks and put up their hands.