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

civilian system, designed for surveying, but it wasn’t much different than the targeting systems Edo had used in the military.

With the device set and ready, Edo looked through the scope and located the specific camera they needed to disable. He zoomed in, locked the targeted camera lens squarely in the crosshairs and stepped back.

He checked his watch. Two minutes to go. He had nothing left to do but press the button.

He longed for a cigarette, just for something to pass the time. The waterfront was empty, but a sound intruded on the solitude: the sound of a helicopter approaching.

A light in the sky could be seen heading toward the Osiris building. Edo watched for a moment to be sure that was the helicopter’s path. As it landed, he wondered who could have business at Osiris in the middle of the night.

Clinging to the ladder in the hydro channel thirty feet beneath the surface, neither Kurt, Joe nor Renata knew about the helicopter’s approach. They were dealing with other changes: a loud mechanical clang followed by a noticeable increase in the current.

Upstream from their position, a circular port in the wall was opening. It was the size of a large runoff pipe from a system of storm drains. As its doors yawned wide, the current began to pick up as a huge volume of water began flowing from the newly opened pipe.

They hugged the ladder, trying to present the smallest area possible for the flowing water to press against. Holding on this way, they could feel the strain. Kurt risked a glance at his watch.

A second rumbling shook them severely. The vibration went through the ladder and into their bodies as the entire deflector gate shuddered and began to move.

Renata’s eyes met Kurt’s. They were wide with concern. He wasn’t surprised: this was a far bigger problem. The gate was pivoting into the open position and that would accelerate the water flow even further.

Downstream from them, the big turbine spun faster as the gap around it narrowed and the thrumming sound increased. By the time the gates closed flush against the turbine cowling, the force of water washing over them would be too strong to resist for long and they would be pulled off and swept through the blades.

Kurt pointed upward and Renata nodded. He unlatched his BCD and turned sideways to the current, shrugging out of the harness. The BCD, the oxygen tank and the mask were torn from him by the accelerating current and dragged off downstream. He went first, releasing only one hand at a time and ascending the ladder slowly and methodically. Each rung was an effort. Each hand and foot movement a battle with the weight of flowing water.

As Kurt neared the top, he looked back down. Renata and Joe were following his lead. He took one more look at his watch. Ten seconds.

Three . . . two . . . one . . .

He broke the surface and climbed onto the top of the deflector gate. It felt great to be free of the rushing water, but the danger was far from over. The moving gate was only three feet wide and the hardened steel and yellow paint were wet and slick.

Kurt remained in a crouch, low and stable. A bulge of water rose up beside the gate where the current was deflected toward the turbine, while behind the gate the water was several feet lower and swirling in a foamy whirlpool. White water churned beyond the cowling, the sound and fury of it echoing along the channel and off the buildings.

In the distance Kurt saw an ethereal green glow where the laser was hitting the camera lens.

“Bad timing, the gates opening like that,” Joe said.

“I’m more surprised by that outflow port,” Kurt said. “I didn’t see any bypass tunnels on the blueprints.”

“Neither did I,” Joe said. “But if it’s not a bypass tunnel, then where’s all the water coming from?”

“We’ll have to worry about it later.” Kurt checked his watch and turned to Renata. “We have less than a minute before Edo turns off the laser.”

She was already working. “Plenty of time,” she insisted.

Unzipping the waterproof pouch in her wet suit, she’d pulled out a set of lockpicks. She made quick work of the bolt and they moved inside.

Ten feet from the door, she found the panel for the alarm system. She pulled the cover off and plugged a small device into the data slot. Numbers and letters streamed across the face of the device in blazing fashion as it went through ten million possible codes and deactivated the alarm. In five seconds the lights on the panel went green.