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Authors: Andy McDermott

The Cult of Osiris

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The Cult of Osiris

ANDY MCDERMOTT

headline

www.headline.co.uk

2

Copyright
®
2009 Andy McDeimott

The right of Andy McDermott to be identified as [he Author of the Work has been asserted by him in accordance

with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

First published in Great Britain in 2009 by HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP

Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means
h
with prior permission in writing of the publishers or
h
in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2009

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely

coincidental.

Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library

elSBN : 978 0 7553 732S
4

This Ebook produced by Jouve Digitalisation des Informations

Printed in the UK by CPI Mackays, Chatliam, ME5 8TD

Headline's policy is to use papers thai are natural, renewable and recyclable products and made from wood grown in sustainable forests. The logging and manufacturing processes are expected to conform to the

environmental regulations of the country of origin.

HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP An Hachette Livre UK Company 338 Euston Road London NW1 3BH

www. head I i
ne.co.uk
www.hachette
.
co.uk

Table of Contents

4

Title Page Copyright Page Dedication

1 New York City: - Three Days Later

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter
4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6 - Giza

Chapter 7

Chapter S

Chapter 9

Chapter 10 - Paris

Chapter 11

Chapter 12 - Switzerland

Chapter 13

Chapter 14 - Monaco

Chapter 15

Chapter 1G

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

21 Egypt

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28 29 Switzerland Ch jpter 30 Chapter 31

Epilogue

For my family and friends

Prologue

G

Giza, Egypt

The time-weathered face of the Great Sphinx regarded Macy Sharif impassively as she paced before its huge stone paws. She didn't give the ancient monument so much as a glance in return; in the two weeks she had been here, the Sphinx and the pyramids beyond had gone from awe-inspiring wonders to mere backdrops for a job that had fallen far short of her hopes. In the first week she had taken hundreds of digital photos and video clips, but now her camera was just a weight in one thigh pocket, untouched for days.

How had
Egypt,
of all places, turned into such a crushing disappointment? From an early age, she'd been entranced by her grandfather's stories of the land of his birth; tales of kings and queens and good and evil in a land of wonders, better than any fairy tale because they also happened to be true. It was an exotic, romantic world, as different from Miami's wealthy Key Biscayne as Macy could imagine, and even as a child she'd been determined that one day she would experience it for herself.

But the reality had not lived up to the dream.

She stopped pacing, checking the shelters beside the Sphinx's right paw. Still no sign of Berkeley.

A glance at her watch: approaching eight fifteen p.m. The expedition leader's daily videoconference with the International Heritage Agency in New York was due to start then, which gave her less time to catch him than she'd hoped. At eight thirty, the nightly sound and light show would begin, a gaudy display of coloured spotlights and lasers cast upon the pyramids and the Sphinx. Berkeley and the senior members of the archaeological team always departed soon after the opening chords boomed from the loudspeakers, leaving the juniors and the local hired hands w ith the scut work of securing and tidying the excavation.

Macy wasn't even sure if Berkeley considered her a junior team member, or a mere labourer. Okay, so she had another two years of study before she completed her degree, and maybe her grades didn't exactly put her at the top of the class, but she was still an archaeologist, kind of. Surely that granted her the right to do something more than make coffee and carry rubble?

She resumed her pacing, reflected light from the Sphinx's spotlit face casting an orange wash over her pale olive skin. Her surname might have been Egyptian, but her looks revealed her mother's Cuban heritage. She paused to straighten her ponytail, then at the sound of muffled voices hurriedly rounded the giant paw to see the team boss emerge from the dig. On their first meeting, she had initially thought Dr Logan Berkeley to be attractive, in an academic sort of way. Mid-thirties, a swoop of chestnut-brown hair across his forehead, refined features . . . then he'd opened his mouth and revealed himself as an arrogant jerk.

It was a description she could apply equally to the two men with him. TV producer Paul Metz was squat, barrel-shaped and bearded, with a lecherous gaze that to her distaste Macy often found aimed in her direction. She liked male attention, sure . . . but not from
all
males.

The other man was Egyptian. Dr Iabi Hamdi was a senior official with the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the government agency overseeing all Egypt's archaeological activities. The paunchy, thin-haired Hamdi was technically in charge of the dig, but seemed happy to let Berkeley do whatever he wanted, being more interested himself in getting his face in front of the TV cameras. Macy wouldn't be surprised if, at the moment the long-thought-mythical Hall of Records was finally revealed to the world, Hamdi popped up in front of the lens to boast of the crucial part he'd played in its discovery.

That broadcast was the current topic of discussion. 'So you're abso, pos i tively, one hundred per cent sure that you'll crack open the door right on time?' Metz asked, in a tone suggesting he thought otherwise.

For the
last time,
we'll open the vault entrance exactly when I said,' Berkeley told him, his nasal, superior New England voice filled with frustration. I know what I'm doing. This isn't my first dig, you know/

It's the first one you'll have done live in front of fifty million people, though. And the network won't be happy if their prime time special is two hours of you chipping at bricks. They wanna see something spectacular, and so does everyone else. People love this Egyptian crap.'

Torn between defending his heritage and keeping on good terms with the producer, Hamdi decided on the latter. 'Dr Berkeley, can you assure me that we will keep to the schedule?'

Eight days from now,' Berkeley said through clenched teeth, we'll be showing the world something even more incredible than Atlantis, don't you worry.' He turned towards a nearby portable cabin with a satellite dish on its roof: the team's headquarters. And speaking of schedules, it's time I checked in.'

Maybe he wasn't in the most receptive mood, but Macy had to take the chance. 'Dr Berkeley, have you got a minute?

Only as long as it takes me to walk to the cabin,' he snapped, giving her a dismissive look. What is it?'

It's about me,' said Macy as she kept pace. I was hoping I could get more involved with the actual archaeological work? I think I've proved that I'm up to the job.

Berkeley stopped and turned to face the young woman. The
jobT
he said, letting out a sarcastic sigh. That says it all, doesn't it? Macy, archaeology is not a
job.
It's a
catting,
an
obsession,
something that drives your every waking thought. If all you want is a job, McDonald's and 7-Eleven are always hiring.

That's not what I meant—' Macy began, taken aback by his hostility.

The reason you haven't been involved with the main dig,' Berkeley interrupted, 'is precisely that: you haven't been
involved.
What, exactly, have you done to earn a place here? The other juniors all have multiple digs on their resumes, and they all graduated with the highest honours. You?' His mouth twisted with contempt. Charity fundraising connections. And good causes or not, I don't appreciate having unqualified undergraduates foisted on me because Renee Montavo at the UN owed your mom a favour. You ought to be damn grateful

to be here at all. Now, go and finish the clean-up. I'm late for my videoconference with Professor Rothschild.' He strode into the cabin, slamming the door.

Macy stared after him in shock, then turned to find Hamdi and Metz watching her. Hamdi adjusted his little silk bow tie uncomfortably before going back into the shelter covering the main excavation, leaving her alone with Metz. 'Wanna career change?' he said, leering. I got the numbers of some modelling agencies.'

Get bent!' She scowled and stormed off round the Sphinx. Ahead, one of the uniformed security contractors was heading up the ramp out of the excavated pit in which the Sphinx sat. Wanting to be alone, she turned and went into the ruined temple in front of the statue, dropping into the shadows within the broken walls.

She sat on a stone block, trying to hold her emotions in check. She was angry, but also upset. Egypt definitely hadn't matched up to her dreams - not so much wonder and romance as drudgery, smog, stomach bugs and hissing, pinching, cat-calling creeps accosting her on the streets. And now she'd just been completely insulted by her boss.
Asshole!

The lighting changed, dropping the Temple of the Sphinx even deeper into darkness. The sound and light show was about to start; after two weeks, Macy practically knew the almost comically portentous narration by heart. Normally she would be packing away the team's gear during the display, but tonight. . .

Screw that,' she muttered, lying back on the stone. Berkeley could pick up his own stupid tools.

Site security chief Sefu Gamal quickly traversed the walkway running between the Temple of the Sphinx and the smaller, marginally less ancient ruin to its northwest. At the walkway's end was a guarded gate. Since 2008, the once-open plain of the Giza plateau had been surrounded by over twelve miles of high steel and wire fence, partly to restrict the numbers of peddlers hawking trinkets and camel rides to visitors, and partly for security purposes: Egypt was unwilling to risk a repeat of the 1997 massacre of tourists at Luxor. Now, the plateau was

observed by hundreds of security cameras and members of the Tourist Police, and all visitors were screened by metal detectors.

But there were more fences within, these not there to protect tourists from terrorists, but to protect Egypt's treasures from tourists. Access to the interiors of the pyramids was restricted to just a handful of visitors each day, while the Sphinx itself was almost entirely off-limits -and with a major archaeological excavation in progress, the Sphinx compound was even more closely guarded than usual. The sandstone pit containing the statue was bounded to the east by its temple, to the west and south by cliffs where it had been dug out of the desert, and to the north by a modern stone wall supporting a road across the plain. Only those with passes were normally allowed access.

But tonight there would be an exception.

Gamal reached the gate and waited as the
son et lumieie
display began. A couple of hundred tourists sat in ranks of chairs beyond the Temple of the Sphinx, watching the spectacle. He would have preferred the meeting to take place much later, after the last display had finished and the tourists - and the IHA team - had gone, but the man he was expecting was impatient. . . and quick to anger.

Approaching headlights: a black Mercedes SUV. This must be his visitor - since the erection of the boundary fence, traffic through the site was restricted. The first person out was unfamiliar, a rangy, long-haired Caucasian in a jacket of what looked like snakeskin, his straggly goatee doing little to conceal the almost equally scaly roughness of his face. He rounded the vehicle to open the door for another man, like Gamal an Egyptian.

Gamal stepped through the gate to greet him. 'Mr Shaban,' he said. A great honour to meet you again.

Sebak Shaban had no time to waste on pleasantries. 'The dig's behind schedule. Dr Berkeley said—' Not
that
dig.'

Gamal concealed his discomfort as Shaban turned to look straight at him. An old burn scar ran across his right cheek from what remained of his ear to his top lip, the skin rippled and faintly glossy. The scarring had pulled down the outer corner of his lower eyelid, exposing glistening pink tissue within. From his previous encounters, the security chief was convinced that Shaban was well aware of the psychological impact of his injury upon others, favouring them with the unblemished, fairly handsome left side of his face until he wanted to express his disapproval in graphic form with a simple turn of the head. There was a slight delay -
very
slight,' he said quickly. Tart of the ceiling collapsed. We've already shored it up.'

Show me,' ordered Shaban, walking to the gate.

Of course. Come with me.' Gamal glanced questioningly at the other man, who followed them through.

My bodyguard,' said Shaban. 'And friend. Mr Diamondback.' Diamondback?' Gamal echoed uncertainly.

Bobby Diamondback,' said the bodyguard, his accent a languid yet menacing American drawl. 'It's a Cherokee Indian name. Got a problem with that?'

No, not at all,' Gamal replied, thinking he looked more like a cowboy than an Indian. He led them along the walkway. 'This way, please.

BOOK: The Cult of Osiris
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