Table of Contents
“CUSSLER AT HIS STORYTELLING BEST.”
—The San Francisco Examiner
Clive Cussler’s most thrillingly original blockbuster, Dirk Pitt takes on his most dangerous mission yet—when a mysterious relic from the past threatens the future of humankind . . .
An Antarctic whaler stumbles across an aged wreck—her frozen crew guarding a priceless treasure.
A team of anthropologists is buried under a mountain by a deliberate explosion.
A ship that should have died fifty-six years ago reappears, and almost sinks a National Underwater and Marine Agency ship.
Dirk Pitt knows that somehow these events are connected. His investigations lead to an ancient mystery with devastating modern consequences, and a diabolical enemy unlike any he has ever known. Now, he is racing to save not only his life—but the world. The trap is set. The clock is ticking. And only one man stands between the earth and Armageddon . . .
A Main Selection of the Book-Of-The-Month Club®
“Once again, Clive Cussler rules the literary waves.”
—New York Daily News
“Enough intrigue to satisfy even the most demanding thrill-seekers.”
—The Chattanooga Times
“Cussler’s skill at creating action scenes and his robust characters make
a romping read.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Cussler fans will have no complaint as the Master revs up his novel to forty knots per hour and sweeps the reader into the fabled past.”
“Cussler is back, and it’s business as usual . . .
is everything Cussler fans have loved and bought for years . . . Lots of fun.”
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Just about the best storyteller in the business.”
—New York Post
is that rarest of individuals without whom the world could not survive. He is a man of swift, decisive action who lives by his honor—forever standing watch on the front lines in the enduring war between good and evil. As the son of a U.S. senator, graduate of the Air Force Academy, and special projects director for the U.S. National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), his courage and cool under fire are matched only by his forceful nature and ferocious determination to do whatever is necessary. Pitt reports directly to Admiral James Sandecker, the cunning commander of NUMA, and is backed up by the tough, streetwise Al Giordino—a childhood friend and partner in undersea adventure for more than twenty years.
ADVENTURES BY CLIVE CUSSLER
Raise the Titanic!
The Mediterranean Caper
ADVENTURES BY CLIVE CUSSLER AND
Treasure of Khan
FICTION BY CLIVE CUSSLER WITH PAUL KEMPRECOS
FICTION BY CLIVE CUSSLER AND JACK DU BRUL
FICTION BY CLIVE CUSSLER AND CRAIG DIRGO
NONFICTION BY CLIVE CUSSLER AND CRAIG DIRGO
The Sea Hunters II
The Sea Hunters
Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed
CHILDREN’S BOOKS BY CLIVE CUSSLER
The Adventures of Vin Fiz
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are
either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously,
and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business
establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1999 by Clive Cussler
This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced
in any form without permission.
For information address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-0-425-17717-4
Berkley Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY and the “B” design
are trademarks belonging to Penguin Putnam Inc.
I AM VERY GRATEFUL to Major Joe Andrzejewski (Retired) for his generous and valuable advice on the Special Forces.
My thanks also to K. Eric Drexler and Christine Peterson, the leading champions of nanotechnology, for their guidance, and John Stevens, who led me through the labyrinth of the Pandora Mine. Also to Colonel Howard A. Buechner, Donald Cyr, Graham Hancock, Charles Hapgood, and Plato, whose books and words were invaluable to me, and to Paul Mollar, for the loan of his incredible Skycar.
WHAT IS NOW HUDSON BAY, CANADA
THE INTRUDER CAME FROM beyond. A nebulous celestial body as old as the universe itself, it had been born in a vast cloud of ice, rocks, dust, and gas when the outer planets of the solar system were formed 4.6 billion years ago. Soon after its scattered particles had frozen into a solid mass one mile in diameter, it began streaking silently through the emptiness of space on an orbital voyage that carried it around a distant sun and halfway to the nearest stars again, a journey lasting many thousands of years from start to finish.
The comet’s core, or nucleus, was a conglomeration of frozen water, carbon monoxide, methane gas, and jagged blocks of metallic rocks. It might accurately be described as a dirty snowball hurled through space by the hand of God. But as it whirled past the sun and swung around on its return path beyond the outer reaches of the solar system, the solar radiation reacted with its nucleus and a metamorphosis took place. The ugly duckling soon became a thing of beauty.
As it began to absorb the sun’s heat and ultraviolet light, a long comma formed that slowly grew into an enormous luminous blue tail that curved and stretched out behind the nucleus for a distance of 90 million miles. A shorter, white dust tail more than one million miles wide also materialized and curled out on the sides of the larger tail like the fins of a fish.
Each time the comet passed the sun, it lost more of its ice and its nucleus diminished. Eventually, in another 200 million years, it would lose all its ice and break up into a cloud of dust and become a series of small meteorites. This comet, however, would never orbit outside the solar system or pass around the sun again. It would not be allowed a slow, cold death far out in the blackness of space. Within a few short minutes, its life would be snuffed out. But on this, its latest orbit, the comet passed within 900,000 miles of Jupiter, whose great gravitational force veered it off on a collision course with the third planet from the sun, a planet its inhabitants called Earth.
Plunging into Earth’s atmosphere at 130,000 miles an hour on a forty-five-degree angle, its speed ever-increasing with the gravitational pull, the comet created a brilliant luminescent bow shock as its ten-mile-wide, four-billion-ton mass began to break into fragments due to friction from its great speed. Seven seconds later, the misshapen comet, having become a blinding fireball, smashed onto Earth’s surface with horrendous effect. The immediate result from the explosive release of kinetic energy upon impact was to gouge out a massive cavity twice the size of the island of Hawaii as it vaporized and displaced a gigantic volume of water and soil.
The entire earth staggered from the seismic shock of a 12.0 earthquake. Millions of tons of water, sediment, and debris burst upward, thrown through the hole in the atmosphere above the impact site and into the stratosphere, along with a great spray of pulverized, fiery rock that was ejected into suborbital trajectories before raining back to earth as blazing meteorites. Firestorms destroyed forests throughout the world. Volcanoes that had been dormant for thousands of years suddenly erupted, sending oceans of molten lava spreading over millions of square miles, blanketing the ground a thousand or more feet deep. So much smoke and debris were hurled into the atmosphere and later blown into every corner of the land by terrible winds that they blocked out the sun for nearly a year, sending temperatures plunging below freezing, and shrouding Earth in darkness. Climatic change in every corner of the world came with incredible suddenness. Temperatures at vast ice fields and northern glaciers rose until they reached between ninety and a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, causing a rapid melt-down. Animals accustomed to tropical and temperate zones became extinct overnight. Many, such as the woolly mammoths, turned to ice where they stood in the warmth of summer, grasses and flowers still undigested in their stomachs. Trees, along with their leaves and fruit, were quick-frozen. For days, fish that were hurled upward from the impact fell from the blackened skies.