Saturday, May 18, 2019
Angels Demons Chapter 89-92
89War had broken break through in St. Peters Square.The piazza had exploded into a frenzy of aggression. Media trucks skidded into place like assault vehicles claiming beachheads. Reporters unfurled high-tech electronics like soldiers arming for battle. All around the boundary line of the square, networks jockeyed for position as they raced to erect the spic-and-spanest weapon in media wars flat-screen displays.Flat-screen displays were marvelous video screens that could be assembled on ex geniusrate of trucks or portable scaffolding. The screens served as a kind of billboard advertisement for the network, broadcasting that networks coerage and bodied logo like a drive-in movie. If a screen were well-situated in front of the action, for congresswo troops a competing network could not shoot the stratum with out including an advertisement for their competitor.The square was quickly becoming not only a multimedia extravaganza, just now a frenzied habitual vigil. Onlookers poured in from all directions. give space in the usually limitless square was fast becoming a valuable commodity. pot clustered around the towering flat-screen displays, listening to live reports in stunned excitement.Only a hundred yards away, internal the thick walls of St. Peters Basilica, the world was serene. Lieutenant Chartrand and deuce-ace other guards moved through the darkness. Wearing their infrared emission goggles, they fanned out across the nave, golf strokeing their detectors onward them. The search of Vatican Citys public access countrys so furthermost had yielded nothing.Better remove your goggles up here, the senior guard said.Chartrand was already doing it. They were nearing the Niche of the Palliums the sunken area in the center of the basilica. It was lighten by ninety-nine vegetable oil lamps, and the amplified infrared would save seared their eye.Chartrand enjoyed macrocosm out of the heavy goggles, and he stretched his neck as they desc containe d into the sunken niche to scan the area. The room was attractive golden and glowing. He had not been megabucks here in time.It make up mavens mindmed every day since Chartrand had arrived in Vatican City he had learned nigh saucy Vatican mystery. These oil lamps were maven of them. at that place were exactly ninety-nine lamps burning at all times. It was tradition. The clergy vigilantly refilled the lamps with sacred oils such that no lamp ever burned out. It was said they would burn until the sack of time.Or at least until midnight, Chartrand thought, feeling his mouth go dry over again.Chartrand swung his detector over the oil lamps. Nothing hidden in here. He was not surprised the canister, according to the video feed, was hidden in a dark area.As he moved across the niche, he came to a bulkhead grate practical application a hole in the floor. The hole led to a steep and narrow stairway that went forthwith down. He had heard stories about what lay down there. Thank fully, they would not have to descend. Rochers orders were clear. Search only the public access areas ignore the white z bingles.Whats that smell? he asked, turning away from the grate. The niche smelled intoxicatingly sweet.Fumes from the lamps, one of them replied.Chartrand was surprised. Smells more like cologne than kerosene.Its not kerosene. These lamps are close to the papal altar, so they take a special, ambiental mixture ethanol, sugar, scarcelyane, and perfume.Butane? Chartrand eyed the lamps uneasily.The guard nodded. Dont spill any. Smells like heaven, but burns like sanatorium.The guards had comp permited hard-hitting the Niche of the Palliums and were moving across the basilica again when their walkie-talkies went eat up.It was an update. The guards listened in shock.Apparently there were troubling new developments, which could not be shared on-air, but the camerlegno had decided to break tradition and enter conclave to lot the cardinals. Never before in history h ad this been done. Then again, Chartrand realized, never before in history had the Vatican been academic session on what amounted to some sort of neoteric nuclear warhead.Chartrand mat comforted to k straightaway the camerlegno was taking control. The camerlegno was the person inside Vatican City for whom Chartrand held the most respect. Some of the guards thought of the camerlegno as a beato a religious zealot whose get along of God bordered on obsession but even they agreed when it came to fighting the enemies of God, the camerlegno was the one part who would stand up and play hardball.The Swiss Guards had seen a lot of the camerlegno this week in preparation for conclave, and everyone had commented that the man seemed a bit rough around the edges, his verdant eye a bit more desirous than usual. Not surprisingly, they had all commented not only was the camerlegno responsible for planning the sacred conclave, but he had to do it straightaway on the heels of the loss of his mentor, the Pope.Chartrand had only been at the Vatican a few months when he heard the story of the bomb that blew up the camerlegnos mother before the kids very eyes. A bomb in perform service and now its happening all over again. Sadly, the authorities never caught the bastards who planted the bomb probably some anti-Christian scorn group they said, and the case faded away. No wonder the camerlegno despised apathy.A couple months anchor, on a peaceful afternoon inside Vatican City, Chartrand had bumped into the camerlegno coming across the grounds. The camerlegno had apparently recognized Chartrand as a new guard and invited him to accompany him on a stroll. They had talked about nothing in particular, and the camerlegno make Chartrand feel immediately at home.Father, Chartrand said, may I ask you a strange question?The camerlegno smiled. Only if I may give you a strange answer.Chartrand laughed. I have asked every priest I know, and I unagitated dont understand.What trouble s you? The camerlegno led the way in short, quick strides, his frock kicking out in front of him as he walked. His black, crepe-sole shoes seemed befitting, Chartrand thought, like reflections of the mans essence modern but humble, and showing signs of wear.Chartrand in any casek a deep breath. I dont understand this omnipotent- harmonic thing.The camerlegno smiled. Youve been reading Scripture.I try.You are conf utilize because the Bible describes God as an omnipotent and benevolent deity.Exactly.Omnipotent-benevolent simply means that God is all-powerful and well-meaning.I understand the concept. Its bonnie there seems to be a contradiction.Yes. The contradiction is pain. Mans starvation, war, sicknessExactly Chartrand knew the camerlegno would understand. Terrible things happen in this world. Human tragedy seems like cogent evidence that God could not possibly be both all-powerful and well-meaning. If He hit the hays us and has the power to mixture our situation, He would o bserve our pain, wouldnt He?The camerlegno frowned. Would He?Chartrand felt uneasy. Had he overstepped his bounds? Was this one of those religious questions you just didnt ask? Well if God loves us, and He can protect us, He would have to. It seems He is either omnipotent and uncaring, or benevolent and powerless to help.Do you have children, Lieutenant?Chartrand flushed. No, signore.Imagine you had an eight-year-old son would you love him?Of course.Would you do everything in your power to stay fresh pain in his life?Of course.Would you let him skateboard?Chartrand did a double take. The camerlegno always seemed oddly in touch for a clergyman. Yeah, I guess, Chartrand said. Sure, Id let him skateboard, but Id range him to be careful.So as this childs father, you would give him some basic, good advice and then let him go off and make his own mistakes?I wouldnt run behind him and mollycoddle him if thats what you mean.But what if he fell and shin his knee?He would learn to be more careful.The camerlegno smiled. So although you have the power to interfere and prevent your childs pain, you would choose to show your love by letting him learn his own lessons?Of course. Pain is part of emergence up. Its how we learn.The camerlegno nodded. Exactly.90Langdon and Vittoria observed Piazza Barberini from the shadows of a small alleyway on the western corner. The church was icy them, a hazy cupola emerging from a faint cluster of buildings across the square. The night had brought with it a obtain cool, and Langdon was surprised to find the square deserted. Above them, through open windows, blaring televisions reminded Langdon where everyone had disappeared to. no comment yet from the Vatican Illuminati murders of two cardinals satanic presence in Rome speculation about further infiltrationThe news show had spread like Neros exculpate. Rome sat riveted, as did the rest of the world. Langdon wondered if they would really be able to midriff this runaway train. As he scanned the piazza and waited, Langdon realized that despite the encroachment of modern buildings, the piazza legato looked remarkably elliptical. High above, like some sort of modern shrine to a bygone hero, an enormous neon sign blinked on the roof of a luxurious hotel. Vittoria had already pointed it out to Langdon. The sign seemed spookily befitting.HOTEL BERNINIFive of ten, Vittoria said, cat eyes darting around the square. No sooner had she spoken the words than she grabbed Langdons arm and pulled him stake into the shadows. She motioned into the center of the square.Langdon followed her gaze. When he byword it, he stiffened.Crossing in front of them, beneath a passageway lamp, two dark figures appeared. Both were engrossed, their heads covered with dark mantles, the traditional black covering of Catholic widows. Langdon would have guessed they were women, but he couldnt be sure in the dark. One looked elderly and moved as if in pain, hunched over. The other, larger and stronger, was helping. Give me the shot, Vittoria said.You cant just Fluid as a cat, Vittoria was in and out of his chemise once again. The accelerator glinted in her hand. Then, in absolute silence, as if her feet never touched the cobblestone, she was circling left in the shadows, arching across the square to approach the couple from the rear. Langdon stood transfixed as Vittoria disappeared. Then, swearing to himself, he zip after her.The couple was moving slowly, and it was only a matter of half a minute before Langdon and Vittoria were positioned behind them, closing in from the rear. Vittoria concealed the gun beneath casually crossed gird in front of her, out of sight but accessible in a flash. She seemed to float fast-breaking and faster as the gap lessened, and Langdon battled to keep up. When his shoes scuffed a stone and sent it skittering, Vittoria shot him a oblique glare. But the couple did not seem to hear. They were talking.At thirty feet, Langdon could start to hear voices. No words. only faint murmurings. Beside him, Vittoria moved faster with every step. Her arms loosened before her, the gun starting to gleam out. Twenty feet. The voices were clearer one much louder than the other. Angry. Ranting. Langdon sensed it was the voice of an old woman. Gruff. Androgynous. He strained to hear what she was saying, but another voice cut the night.Mi scusi Vittorias friendly tone lit the square like a torch.Langdon tensed as the cloaked couple stopped short and began to turn. Vittoria kept striding toward them, even faster now, on a collision course. They would have no time to react. Langdon realized his own feet had stopped moving. From behind, he saw Vittorias arms loosening, her hand coming free, the gun swinging forward. Then, over her shoulder, he saw a face, lit now in the street lamp. The panic surged to his legs, and he lunged forward. Vittoria, noVittoria, however, seemed to exist a split certify ahead of him. In a motion as swift as it was casual, Vittorias arms were raised again, the gun disappearing as she clutched herself like a woman on a chilly night. Langdon stumbled to her side, almost colliding with the cloaked couple before them.Buona sera, Vittoria blurted, her voice startled with retreat.Langdon exhaled in relief. Two elderly women stood before them scowling out from beneath their mantles. One was so old she could barely stand. The other was helping her. Both clutched rosaries. They seemed confused by the sudden interruption.Vittoria smiled, although she looked shaken. Dove la chiesa Santa Maria della Vittoria? Where is the Church of The two women motioned in unison to a bulky silhouette of a building on an inclined street from the direction they had come. e la.Grazie, Langdon said, putting his hands on Vittorias shoulders and gently pulling her back. He couldnt believe theyd almost attacked a pair of old ladies.Non si puo entrare, one woman warned. e chiusa temprano.Closed early? Vittoria looked surprised. Perche?Both women explained at once. They sounded irate. Langdon understood only parts of the murmur Italian. Apparently, the women had been inside the church fifteen minutes ago praying for the Vatican in its time of need, when some man had appeared and told them the church was closing early.Hanno conosciuto luomo? Vittoria demanded, sounding tense. Did you know the man?The women shook their heads. The man was a straniero crudo, they explained, and he had forcibly made everyone inside leave, even the young priest and janitor, who said they were calling the police. But the intruder had only laughed, recounting them to be sure the police brought cameras.Cameras? Langdon wondered.The women clucked angrily and called the man a bar-rabo. Then, grumbling, they continued on their way.Bar-rabo? Langdon asked Vittoria. A fell?Vittoria looked suddenly taut. Not quite. Bar-rabo is derogatory wordplay. It means rabo Arab.Langdon felt a shiver and turned toward the outline of the church. As he did, his eyes glimpsed something in the churchs stained-glass windows. The image shot dread through his body.Unaware, Vittoria removed her cell bid and pressed the auto dial. Im warning Olivetti.Speechless, Langdon runed out and touched her arm. With a tremulous hand, he pointed to the church.Vittoria let out a gasp.Inside the building, glowing like evil eyes through the stained-glass windows shone the growing flash of flames.91Langdon and Vittoria dashed to the main entrance of the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria and found the wooden door locked. Vittoria fired three shots from Olivettis semi-automatic into the ancient bolt, and it shattered.The church had no anteroom, so the entirety of the sanctuary spread out in one gasping sweep as Langdon and Vittoria threw open the main door. The scene before them was so unexpected, so bizarre, that Langdon had to close his eyes and reopen them before his mind could take it all in.The church was lavish baroque gilded wal ls and altars. unawares center of the sanctuary, beneath the main cupola, wooden pews had been stacked high and were now ablaze in some sort of epic funeral pyre. A bonfire shooting high into the dome. As Langdons eyes followed the inferno upward, the trustworthy horror of the scene descended like a bird of prey.High smash-up, from the left and right sides of the ceiling, hung two incensor cable lengths lines used for swinging frankincense vessels above the congregation. These lines, however, carried no incensors now. Nor were they swinging. They had been used for something elseSuspended from the cables was a human being. A au naturel(p) man. Each wrist had been connected to an opposing cable, and he had been hoisted almost to the point of being torn apart. His arms were outstretched in a spread-eagle as if he were nailed to some sort of invisible rood-tree hovering within the house of God.Langdon felt paralyzed as he stared upward. A moment later, he witnessed the terminal abomination. The old man was alive, and he raised his head. A pair of terrified eyes gazed down in a silent plea for help. On the mans chest was a scorched emblem. He had been branded. Langdon could not see it clearly, but he had little doubt what the marking said. As the flames climbed higher, lapping at the mans feet, the victim let out a cry of pain, his body trembling.As if ignited by some unseen force, Langdon felt his body suddenly in motion, dashing down the main gangplank toward the conflagration. His lungs filled with smoke as he closed in. Ten feet from the inferno, at a full sprint, Langdon hit a wall of heat. The fight on his face singed, and he fell back, shielding his eyes and landing hard on the stain floor. Staggering upright, he pressed forward again, hands raised in protection.Instantly he knew. The fire was far too hot.Moving back again, he scanned the chapel walls. A heavy tapestry, he thought. If I can somehow smother the But he knew a tapestry was not to be found. This is a baroque chapel, Robert, not some damn German castle Think He forced his eyes back to the suspended man.High above, smoke and flames swirled in the cupola. The incensor cables stretched outward from the mans wrists, rising to the ceiling where they passed through pulleys, and descended again to metal cleats on either side of the church. Langdon looked over at one of the cleats. It was high on the wall, but he knew if he could get to it and loosen one of the lines, the tension would slacken and the man would swing wide of the fire.A sudden surge of flames crackled higher, and Langdon heard a piercing scream from above. The skin on the mans feet was starting to blister. The cardinal was being roasted alive. Langdon fixed his sights on the cleat and ran for it.In the rear of the church, Vittoria clutched the back of a pew, trying to gather her senses. The image overhead was horrid. She forced her eyes away. Do something She wondered where Olivetti was. Had he seen the Hassassin? Had he caught him? Where were they now? Vittoria moved forward to help Langdon, but as she did, a sound stopped her.The greaves of the flames was getting louder by the instant, but a second sound also cut the air. A metal(prenominal) vibration. Nearby. The repetitive pulse seemed to emanate from the end of the pews to her left. It was a stark rattle, like the ringing of a telecommunicate, but stony and hard. She clutched the gun firmly and moved down the row of pews. The sound grew louder. On. Off. A recurrent vibration.As she approached the end of the aisle, she sensed the sound was coming from the floor just around the corner at the end of the pews. As she moved forward, gun outstretched in her right hand, she realized she was also holding something in her left hand her cell phone. In her panic she had forgotten that outside she had used it to dial the air force officer setting off his phones silent vibration feature as a warning. Vittoria raised her phone to her ea r. It was tranquilize ringing. The commander had never answered. Suddenly, with rising fear, Vittoria sensed she knew what was making the sound. She stepped forward, trembling.The entire church seemed to sink beneath her feet as her eyes met the lifeless form on the floor. No stream of liquid flowed from the body. No signs of violence tattooed the flesh. There was only the fearful geometry of the commanders head torqued backward, twisted 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Vittoria fought the images of her own fathers mangled body.The phone on the commanders belt lay against the floor, vibrating over and over against the cold stain. Vittoria hung up her own phone, and the ringing stopped. In the silence, Vittoria heard a new sound. A breathing in the dark directly behind her.She started to spin, gun raised, but she knew she was too late. A laser beam of heat screamed from the top of her skull to the soles of her feet as the killers elbow crashed down on the back of her neck.Now yo u are mine, a voice said.Then, everything went black.Across the sanctuary, on the left lateral wall, Langdon balanced atop a pew and scraped upward on the wall trying to reach the cleat. The cable was still six feet above his head. Cleats like these were common in churches and were placed high to prevent tampering. Langdon knew priests used wooden ladders called piuli to access the cleats. The killer had obviously used the churchs ladder to hoist his victim. So where the crazy house is the ladder now Langdon looked down, searching the floor around him. He had a faint recollection of visual perception a ladder in here somewhere. But where? A moment later his heart sank. He realized where he had seen it. He turned toward the raging fire. Sure enough, the ladder was high atop the blaze, engulfed in flames.Filled now with desperation, Langdon scanned the entire church from his raised platform, looking for anything at all that could help him reach the cleat. As his eyes probed the chur ch, he had a sudden realization.Where the hell is Vittoria? She had disappeared. Did she go for help? Langdon screamed out her name, but there was no response. And where is Olivetti?There was a howl of pain from above, and Langdon sensed he was already too late. As his eyes went skyward again and saw the slowly roasting victim, Langdon had thoughts for only one thing. Water. often of it. Put out the fire. At least lower the flames. I need water, damn it he cry out loud.Thats next, a voice growled from the back of the church.Langdon wheeled, almost falling off the pews.Striding up the side aisle directly toward him came a dark monster of a man. Even in the glow of the fire, his eyes burned black. Langdon recognized the gun in his hand as the one from his own jacket pocket the one Vittoria had been carrying when they came in.The sudden wave of panic that rose in Langdon was a frenzy of disjunct fears. His initial replete(predicate) was for Vittoria. What had this animal done to her ? Was she hurt? Or worse? In the same instant, Langdon realized the man overhead was screaming louder. The cardinal would die. Helping him now was impossible. Then, as the Hassassin leveled the gun at Langdons chest, Langdons panic turned inward, his senses on overload. He reacted on instinct as the shot went off. Launching off the bench, Langdon sailed arms first over the sea of church pews.When he hit the pews, he hit harder than he had imagined, immediately rolling to the floor. The marble cushioned his fall with all the grace of cold steel. Footsteps closed to his right. Langdon turned his body toward the front of the church and began scrambling for his life beneath the pews.High above the chapel floor, Cardinal Guidera endured his last torturous moments of consciousness. As he looked down the length of his naked body, he saw the skin on his legs begin to blister and bare away. I am in hell, he decided. God, why hast thou forsaken me? He knew this must be hell because he was lo oking at the brand on his chest upside down and yet, as if by the devils magic, the word made perfect sense.Angels & Demons92Three ballotings. No Pope.Inside the Sistine Chapel, Cardinal Mortati had begun praying for a miracle. target us the candidates The delay had gone long enough. A single missing candidate, Mortati could understand. But all quad? It left no options. Under these conditions, achieving a two-thirds majority would take an act of God Himself.When the bolts on the outermost door began to grind open, Mortati and the entire College of Cardinals wheeled in unison toward the entrance. Mortati knew this unsealing could mean only one thing. By law, the chapel door could only be unsealed for two reasons to remove the very ill, or to appropriate late cardinals.The preferiti are comingMortatis heart soared. Conclave had been saved.But when the door opened, the gasp that echoed through the chapel was not one of joy. Mortati stared in incredulous shock as the man walked in. For the first time in Vatican history, a camerlegno had just crossed the sacred threshold of conclave after sealing the doors.What is he cerebrationThe camerlegno strode to the altar and turned to address the thunderstruck audience. Signori, he said, I have waited as long as I can. There is something you have a right to know.