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The Pharaoh's Secret (NUMA Files 13) Clive Cussler 2022/7/22 13:55:19

Joe considered the odds. There was no reason the station should be generating full power in the middle of the night. Peak power draws occurred in the afternoon.

“Assuming we don’t get pureed,” Kurt added, “our next problem begins at the surface.”

“They will most certainly have cameras,” Edo pointed out.

Renata answered this time. “They do. Here and here. But these two cameras are pointed outward, designed to look for someone approaching the structure. Once we’re past the first set of turbines, there’s only one camera we have to worry about. It’s mounted here,” she said, pointing to a new location. “It scans the entire length of the catwalk on the inner wall. The same catwalk we have to use.”

“That’s what you want the laser for,” Edo said.

“Precisely,” Renata told him. “A focused laser can overload the sensor. So you’ll be in charge of that. Your best angle will be from a beach just upstream and on the opposite bank. Once you align it with the camera, the sensor will struggle to process the signal and they should see nothing but a blank screen.”

Kurt continued. “Once the camera is blind, we can exit the water. Move along this catwalk and go in through this door.”

“How long do I keep the laser active?”

“Two minutes,” Renata said. “That’s all we’ll need.”

“What about alarms and interior security cameras?” Edo asked.

“I can disable them once we’re inside,” she promised. “Both the alarms and cameras are controlled by a software program called Halifax. The people in our technical section have given me a way to hack it.”

Renata brought up the schematics of the interior. “We know Hassan entered through this door,” she said. “His signal stayed strong as he traveled this corridor and then presumably got into this elevator. Based on the signal getting weaker and then vanishing, we have to assume he went down to the lower level, not up. Which means he would be in the power-generation control room here.”

“Are you sure you’re not walking into a trap?” Edo asked. “I don’t have to tell you that once you go in there, you’re beyond the reach of any help.”

“We know,” Kurt said. “And, believe me, I can’t imagine why Hassan would be sitting in the building, watching the power levels. But his phone was broadcasting from there until it went dark and it hasn’t been picked up by the satellite since. And even if he’s not there, Osiris has something to do with this. Which means it can’t hurt to take a look around.”

“You’re all very brave,” Edo said. “What am I to do while you’re inside the building?”

“Just wait for us downriver,” Kurt said. “If we find Hassan, we’ll bring him out. And if we don’t, we’ll take the tour, skip the gift shop and come right home.”

A few hours later, they were back on the Nile, motoring upriver in a boat one of Edo’s friends had loaned them. Diving gear for three had been rounded up along with a tripod-mounted laser.

Night had already spread a blanket of darkness across the region and the river was far less crowded than it had been during the day. The moon hadn’t risen, but light from the windows in tall apartment buildings and hotels spilled onto the river.

As they approached the Osiris plant, Kurt looked downriver. “The water at the far end of the channel is moving smoothly now.”

“They must be generating less power,” Renata suggested.

“That’s a good sign,” Joe added.

“There’s still something that doesn’t make sense about it,” Kurt replied. “But calm water will make it easier for us to get into the channel and get ashore.”

Joe had a night vision scope trained on the hydro channel. “Looks like the gates are flat against the wall. Score one for logic.”

“We’re in position,” Edo said.

Kurt nodded, then he and Joe slipped into the water and clung to the side of the boat. Renata checked the computer one more time before joining them.

“Second thoughts?” Kurt asked.