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Authors: Boyd Morrison

Midas Code

BOOK: Midas Code
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After university, Boyd Morrison did a PhD in industrial engineering, worked for NASA, and programmed Xbox games for Microsoft. A professional actor and outdoor-sports enthusiast, he is currently at work on his next thriller.

Visit his website at
www.boydmorrison.com

Also by Boyd Morrison

The Noah’s Ark Quest

Copyright

Published by Hachette Digital

ISBN: 978-0-74811-938-7

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 Gordian Fiction LLC

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

Hachette Digital

Little, Brown Book Group

100 Victoria Embankment

London, EC4Y 0DY

www.hachette.co.uk

CONTENTS

Copyright

About the Author

Also by Boyd Morrison

PROLOGUE

WEDNESDAY: THE DEATH PUZZLE

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

THURSDAY: THE ARCHIMEDES TABLET

NINETEEN

TWENTY

TWENTY-ONE

TWENTY-TWO

TWENTY-THREE

TWENTY-FOUR

TWENTY-FIVE

TWENTY-SIX

TWENTY-SEVEN

TWENTY-EIGHT

FRIDAY: LA CAMORRISTA

TWENTY-NINE

THIRTY

THIRTY-ONE

THIRTY-TWO

THIRTY-THREE

THIRTY-FOUR

THIRTY-FIVE

THIRTY-SIX

THIRTY-SEVEN

SATURDAY: THE ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM

THIRTY-EIGHT

THIRTY-NINE

FORTY

FORTY-ONE

FORTY-TWO

FORTY-THREE

SUNDAY: THE MIDAS TOUCH

FORTY-FOUR

FORTY-FIVE

FORTY-SIX

FORTY-SEVEN

FORTY-EIGHT

FORTY-NINE

FIFTY

FIFTY-ONE

FIFTY-TWO

FIFTY-THREE

FIFTY-FOUR

FIFTY-FIVE

FIFTY-SIX

FIFTY-SEVEN

FIFTY-EIGHT

FIFTY-NINE

SIXTY

SIXTY-ONE

SIXTY-TWO

SIXTY-THREE

SIXTY-FOUR

SIXTY-FIVE

MONDAY: VENDETTA

SIXTY-SIX

SIXTY-SEVEN

SIXTY-EIGHT

SIXTY-NINE

EPILOGUE

AFTERWORD

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

For Randi. I was saving all my words for you.

PROLOGUE

Eighteen Months Ago

J
ordan Orr’s thumb hovered over the detonator. Two dead guards lay at his feet. He threw one final glance at his accomplices, who both nodded ready. Orr tapped the button, and a Mercedes in a car park near Piccadilly Circus exploded three miles away.

Orr didn’t know and didn’t care if there were casualties, but at three in the morning he didn’t expect any. The important thing was that the authorities would suspect a terrorist attack. The response time from the London police for any other call would more than double, leaving Orr and his men plenty of time to empty the auction house’s largest storage vault.

Orr pulled the balaclava over his face. Russo and Manzini did the same. Disabling the cameras inside the vault would take time they didn’t have. The alarm would go off the moment the door was opened.

The vault door was guarded by the double lock of a card key and a pass code. The card key was now in his hand, courtesy of one of the dead guards. He inserted the card, which prompted the system to ask for the code. Orr examined the touchpad. The clever design scrambled the arrangement of the numbers on the keypad every time it was used, making it impossible to guess the code simply by watching someone’s finger movements. But the manager had been careless the day before, when Orr cased the facility as a prospective client. He made no effort to shield the screen from Orr, who recorded the code with a pen-shaped video camera in his jacket pocket.

Typical complacency, Orr had thought. Security system planners always forgot about the human element.

Orr typed the code, and the door buzzed, signaling that it was unlocked. He yanked it open and heard no Klaxon, but he knew that the broken magnetic seal had set off the silent alarm at the security firm’s headquarters. At this time of the morning, no one should be accessing the vault.

Unable to reach the guards, the security company would call the police, but their problem would be a low priority. A terrorist event took precedence over everything else. Orr loved it.

He led the way in. He’d seen the interior in person, but Russo and Manzini had seen only the video.

The fifteen-foot-by-fifteen-foot vault was designed to showcase the objects that were to be formally appraised the next day. Jewelry, rare books, sculptures, gold coins, and antiques—valuables hidden away in an English manor’s attic for a hundred years—were illuminated for optimum effect. Together, the items were expected to fetch in excess of thirty million pounds at auction.

One item was the prize of the collection. In the center display case was a delicate hand made of pure gold. Orr marveled at the lustrous beauty of the metal.

Manzini, a short balding man with powerful arms, removed a sledgehammer from his belt.

“Let’s get rich,” he said, and swung the hammer toward the case. The thick glass shattered, and Manzini reached in, removed the golden hand, and wrapped it with bubble wrap before stuffing it into his bag. He moved on to the jewelry case.

Russo, so skinny that his pants could have been held up by a rubber band, used two hands to swing his own hammer. He smashed the back of the case holding a Picasso drawing and withdrew it carefully to keep it from getting cut by the shards.

While Manzini and Russo gathered the rest of the jewels and rolled up the artwork, Orr raced to the back of the vault. With a single blow, he liberated three ancient manuscripts and carefully placed them in his duffel. The collection of rare gold coins was next.

In three minutes, they had emptied the vault’s entire contents into their bags.

“That’s it,” Orr said. He opened his cell and dialed. The call was answered on the first ring.

“Yeah?”

“We’re on our way,” Orr said, and hung up.

They stepped over the bullet-riddled guards and ran to the building’s entrance. Outside, Orr could make out sirens in the distance, but they were going in the other direction. A stolen cab was waiting for them. The driver, Felder, wore a flat cap, glasses, and a fake mustache.

They tossed the bags into the car and got in.

“Success?” Felder asked.

“Just like the video,” Russo said. “Thirty million pounds’ worth.”

“A third of that on the black market,” Manzini said. “Orr’s buyer is only paying ten million.”

“Either way, it’s more money than you’ve ever seen,” Felder said.

“Drive,” Orr said, impatient with their giddiness. They still weren’t done.

The cab took off. Because London has the highest concentration of surveillance cameras in the world, they kept their masks on. After a theft like this, Scotland Yard would pore over every single video for the one clue that would lead back to the thieves.

Orr was confident that would never happen.

As they had practiced, the cab reached the boat slip at the Thames river dock only five minutes later. They left the cab sitting at the dock car park and made their way to the cabin cruiser Felder had hired. Orr knew the boat might be traced back to Felder, but by the time it was, it wouldn’t matter.

As soon as they were on board, Felder, a native Brit who had plied these waters for ten years as tug crewman, threw the throttle forward. They wouldn’t stop until they reached the Strait of Dover, where the plan was to go ashore in Kent and use a rental car to make their final escape on a SeaFrance ferry to Calais.

While Felder navigated, the rest of them emptied the contents of the bags in the blacked-out forward cabin to take stock of their haul. Russo and Manzini cackled in Italian. The only word Orr, an American, could understand was when they mentioned their hometown, “Napoli.” Naples. He ignored them and carefully inspected the three manuscripts. He found the one he wanted and set it aside. The other two were worthless to him, so he put them back in the duffel.

By the time they finished sorting the goods, the boat had entered the English Channel. It was time.

Orr turned his back to Russo and Manzini and drew the silenced SIG Sauer he’d used to kill the guards.

“Hey, Orr,” Russo said, “when do we meet your contact? I want my money soon,
capisce
?”

“No problem,” Orr said, and whipped around. He shot Russo first, then Manzini. Manzini toppled onto Russo, the necklace he’d been fondling still in his hand.

The wind and the engine noise were so loud that Felder couldn’t have heard the shots. Orr made his way up to the wheel deck.

Felder turned and smiled at him.

“Mind taking a few minutes at the wheel?” Felder said. “I’m dying to check out my share.”

“Sure,” Orr said. He took the wheel with one hand, and when Felder’s back was turned, he shot him twice. Felder tumbled to the deck below.

Orr checked the GPS and twisted the wheel until he was heading toward Leysdown-on-Sea, a small town on the coast, where he’d parked a second car. The car Felder had hired would stay where it was until it was towed away. Orr didn’t care. There would be nothing to link him with it.

When the boat was three miles from town, Orr brought it to a stop. The water here would be deep enough.

Down in the cabin, he lashed all three of the bodies to the interior, planted two small explosive charges below the waterline, and readied an inflatable raft and oars. Once he triggered the bombs, which were just big enough to tear openings in the hull, the boat would sink within minutes.

He sealed the golden hand, jewelry, coins, and the lone manuscript in a waterproof bag and put everything else into lockers that he battened down. There would be no trace of the boat once it was on the bottom of the Channel. The items like the Picasso were valuable, but they were also too recognizable to sell. He couldn’t take the chance that they would lead back to him. The jewelry and the gold could be broken apart and sold for the gems and metal with little risk. He expected to net two million pounds from them, enough to pay off his debts and fund his ultimate plan.

But the golden hand and the manuscript he would keep. Although Orr’s accomplices hadn’t known it, the document was the most valuable item they had taken from the vault. In fact, it was arguably the single most valuable object on the face of the earth. The owner must not have realized what it contained, or he would never have tried to auction it.

Orr
did
know what it contained. He had checked it himself while Russo and Manzini had been fawning over the gold and the jewels. To the layman, the most important line, heading a section at the end of the document, looked like a string of random Greek letters, but it confirmed the document’s importance.

ΟΣΤΙΣΚΡΑΤΕΙΤΟYΤΟYΤΟYΤΟYΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΟΣΚΡΑ ΤΕΙΤΟYΠΛΟYΤΟYΤΟYΜΙΔΑ.

The manuscript was a medieval codex transcribed from a scroll written two hundred years before the birth of Christ. It contained an ancient treatise by antiquity’s greatest scientist and engineer, the man who kept the Romans at bay for two years through his ingenuity alone, a Greek native of Syracuse named Archimedes.

The codex was written without spaces or lowercase letters, making it tedious to translate, so the manuscript’s complete contents were unknown. But that one line convinced Orr that the manuscript at his feet held the secret to the location of a treasure worth untold billions.

Orr climbed into the raft and, for the second time that night, pressed the button of a detonator. The explosive charges blasted open two breaches in the boat’s hull. He rowed away but kept close to confirm that the boat was gone before he made his way to land. As Orr watched the boat sink beneath the placid sea, the translation of Archimedes’ text flashed in front of his eyes as clearly as if it were written on the water’s surface.

He who controls this map controls the riches of Midas.

BOOK: Midas Code
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