God's Lions - House of Acerbi (33 page)

BOOK: God's Lions - House of Acerbi
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In a space that amplified sound like the walls of a cavern, silence reigned as everyone waited for the next person to speak.

“When did you say the book was destroyed?” Mendoza asked.

“Let me go back to the desert for a moment,” Leo said, closing his eyes as if he were being transported back to another time and place. “Down in that cavern, we were surrounded by demons guarding Satan’s book. Without divine intervention, none of us would have survived what we experienced down there. Something happened ... something we can’t explain. We sensed a presence right before the earth began to shake and huge fissures opened up beneath us, releasing the book from where it had been encased in solid rock. The demons seemed to evaporate right before our eyes and we were able to make it back to the surface just as the cavern collapsed. Oil came bursting up to the surface, igniting a tower of flame, followed by geysers of water that flooded the desert for miles around. It was like being present at a biblical event from the Old Testament, only it was occurring in modern times.”

“Is that when the book was destroyed?”

“No. We took it with us. We knew what it was, but we had no idea of its power or what we were supposed to do with it. It wasn’t until later that we realized the book was more like a living entity. We learned that, whenever it had been taken from the cavern in the past, bad things happened ... really bad things. We believe the book was a way for Satan to physically release evil out into the world without interference from God ... a kind of trump card if you will, and he used unsuspecting humans to accomplish this by periodically allowing the book to be
discovered
. For the past year, we’ve been trying to pinpoint the number of times it has made an appearance out in the world before. Some of our information has come from passages we’ve discovered embedded within the Bible Code, and we’re still trying to verify some actual sightings throughout history that seem to come from reliable sources. To date, we’ve only been able to document five separate occasions, but the appearances we’ve documented have always coincided with some horrific events that occurred whenever the book was out of its hiding place. For instance we know that it was out briefly during WWII, at a time when millions died around the world and nuclear weapons first appeared on the scene, and that it probably made an appearance in 1918, during WWI and the great flu epidemic that took fifty million lives. We weren’t aware of any of this at the time we removed it, but after Houston...”

“Which brings up the point of why you weren’t warned by the code to leave the book in the cavern,” Evita said.

“Probably because the time had come for the book to be destroyed,” Leo said. “We’ll probably never know all there is to know about the code, but we have noticed something that appears to be a constant theme throughout. We’ve discovered that everything seems to occur according to a specific timetable, but the details of the timetable are still a mystery. It’s like God is whispering across a crowded room, and we can’t hear everything He’s trying to tell us. All we knew at the time was that God wanted the book taken to a place of His own choosing to be destroyed. After we arrived back at the villa, Daniel discovered an encoded passage in Genesis that spelled out the fact that the ancient Christian chapel under the Vatican was that place. We almost didn’t make it. As I said, it was like the book was alive, and it had a very powerful protector. We came close to being killed more than once before we made it to Rome, but we had a pretty powerful protector ourselves.”

“But the book
was
destroyed, right?” Mendoza asked. “I mean, you all saw it go up in flames.”

“Yes ... right after we delivered it to the chapel. That’s where the most miraculous event in this whole story occurred. After making our way through the catacombs under the Vatican, we entered the chapel with the book. Morelli and I were still just priests then, and we were joined by the pope, who was a cardinal at the time. The rest of the Bible Code Team was also there. It was in the chapel where we encountered the most powerful demon of them all—Agaliarept, Satan’s grand general over hell. After battling the demon for a span of time none of us could remember afterward, we saw the chapel fill with light as seven of God’s most powerful archangels appeared. They cast out the demon and saved our lives. After the angels departed, the book erupted into flames and burned to ashes on the altar in the chapel. Up until now, we had assumed that the world was no longer in danger from its influence, but it’s beginning to appear that we missed something.”

Diaz rubbed his eyes as he looked across the table at Lev. He had been waiting patiently, listening to the entire story. “Professor, earlier you said that Satan’s timetable and God’s timetable for the end of days don’t agree?
When
did you learn of this?”

“After we returned from the desert with the book.”

“Please excuse me, Professor. What I meant to ask was
how
you discovered the information.”

“From the Devil’s Bible. That was the very first thing we were able to decipher. We’ve been studying it for the past year, and some of the information is fascinating. We’re preparing a paper on it.”

“But the book no longer exists.”

“True ... that’s why we copied it. The book was a treasure trove. Despite the fact that it was an instrument of Satan, we couldn’t let it be destroyed without first making a copy of the text. To an archaeologist, that would have been unforgiveable. The information it contained was priceless. I mean, we were dealing with ancient symbols and language the world had never seen before. Additionally, we were beginning to suspect that the Devil’s Bible also contained a code. Another reason we all agreed that the text needed to be preserved. Without it, we would never have discovered the fact that God’s timetable and Satan’s timetable for the end of days don’t agree.”

“Yes, of course. But how did you accomplish this?”

“We scanned it into our computers.”

“Uh-uh.” Diaz rubbed his hands together as he looked around at the others and waited.

Lev’s expression collapsed when the sudden realization of what Diaz was getting at struck him like a sledgehammer.

“Oh no ... no!” Lev fell back in his seat as sweat began to pour down his face.

“Daddy?” Ariella rushed to his side. “What is it? Are you ok ... is it your heart?”

Lev looked up to the ceiling and prayed out loud. “Oh, God, forgive us!”

“Daddy ... talk to me.”

“I can’t believe we were so stupid! We destroyed the book ...
but not the words
. The book still exists. We downloaded it into our computers!”

“That’s right,” Diaz said. “And because of the internet, anyone with a modest amount of talent will be able to hack into your system and download it. For a man like Rene Acerbi, it would have been child’s play.”

Lev continued staring over his head at the beamed ceiling in the tomb-like silence that had descended over the dining hall. Diaz had seen right through an error that they had failed to notice for over a year, and it only took him a few minutes to do it. Doubt and fear crept into Lev’s mind.
What else had they missed?
An error like this was bound to have consequences.
Worst case scenario—Satan’s time clock for Armageddon had just been reset.

Lev felt everyone’s eyes on him as he reached for a bottle of wine and poured his glass all the way full.

“What’s done is done, Professor,” John said, grabbing his father-in-law by the shoulder. “None of us caught that one ... not even Daniel. If you think back on it, we were all having a hard time concentrating whenever the book was out in the open. It definitely had some kind of power to affect our thinking at the time. We were pretty much in survival mode back then.”

Leo watched as Lev seemed to withdraw into himself, avoiding eye contact with the other members of the team. “Come on, Lev. You’re not the only one who’s responsible here. We all agreed that uploading the contents of the book was essential. Now is not the time to dwell on problems that lie in the past. This can be overcome. Right now we need to focus on Acerbi, but we need to be smart about the way we go about it. There are forces at work here we don’t yet understand. We need to gather a lot more information before we take any action that could backfire on us if we go about it the wrong way.”

Lev held his head in his hands and answered without looking up. “It’s your call, Leo.”

“Ok. Well, first, I think we should send an encrypted copy of that folder Martha found to Mossad headquarters in Tel Aviv, and then we need to start making preparations for getting away from here as quickly as possible. Acerbi’s tendrils run deep, and it’s only a matter of time before he links us to Sarah’s rescue. Let’s all get some sleep and meet back down here at five in the morning.”

CHAPTER 36

The first explosion came in the early pre-dawn hours, at a time when the body’s internal clock is primed to enter its deepest period of sleep. Jolted from their beds, those who had been awakened by the blast found themselves temporarily frozen in the foggy, dream-like world that exists between fantasy and reality upon awakening.

Predictably, Alon and Nava were the first to make it out of their rooms. Armed with Uzi submachine guns, they ran barefooted down the hallway wearing only their T-shirts and shorts. John and Ariella were right behind them, each carrying small .22 caliber Berettas they always kept on their bed stands. The little guns had been a gift from Moshe. It was the same type of weapon he had carried when he was a katsa in the Mossad. Dismissed by other intelligence agencies as being too small, the Israelis were the only ones who still used the tiny Beretta. For them, it was still the weapon of choice for skilled marksmen who knew their craft well but wanted to maintain a low profile. Ariella thought back to what a seasoned weapons instructor had once told her. “A bullet is a bullet ... no matter what caliber it is.”

In less than a minute, the entire castle was awake as everyone gathered in the upstairs hallway. A second blast, larger than the first, rocked the grounds outside the castle.

Alon grabbed John at the front door. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“Outside!”

“We don’t know who’s out there yet ... the roof!” Alon’s eyes were bulging and the veins in his forehead were popping to the surface. He was like a caged animal, waiting to pounce on something ... anything. The two of them took off running for the stairs and continued up the round stairwell until they reached a doorway that led out onto the castle’s ramparts. Once through the door, they spotted several members of the castle’s security force aiming their weapons down at the grounds below. Pausing to catch their breath in the cold night air, they peered through the ancient arrow slits. The entire area at the bottom of the hill was awash with pools of flame, while other areas remained cloaked in shadow where anything could be hiding.

Ephraim’s voice crackled over the radio. “Lev ... Alon ... come in. We’re under attack down here!”

“How many?”

“Can’t tell. We just lost power. There’s a big fire in the center of the compound by the barn. I’m with my wife and son inside our house. We’re headed down into the tunnels.” Another explosion interrupted the conversation. “I think someone’s outside our front door. I’ll call you back.”

Another pop, one much smaller than the first explosion, sent a shower of sparks into the air around the landing pad. Through the smoke, they could see the small blue helicopter engulfed in flames. The last pop they had heard was the chopper’s fuel tank exploding as the tail section separated and fell to the ground. A rain of fuel sent little rivers of fire outward toward the barn until something inside ignited and the entire structure erupted in a blaze that raged out of control.

In a matter of minutes, Alon and John were joined by the rest of the team at the top of the castle. Looking down on the compound below, they winced as one house after another erupted in flames.

Lev grabbed a radio and called the man in charge of the security force guarding the perimeter. “Do you see anything?”

“No, sir! None of the motion sensors around the property picked up anything. The dogs were quiet and the laser defenses weren’t activated ... no one has seen a single attacker!”

“Anything in the air?”

“Nothing. The communications center reported that the radar is clear. The only thing our listening posts picked up all night was the sound of crickets until the first explosion almost knocked their earphones off.”

Lev squinted down into the blackness enveloping the fields around the castle. Two scenarios immediately came to mind. Either the compound below was self-destructing for some reason, or they were under attack from an invisible enemy. A third explanation entered his mind, one even more frightening.
Was it possible that someone on the inside was behind this?

As quickly as the attack began, it stopped.

A string of loud expletives could be heard coming from the base of the castle wall. Peering over the edge, they could see Nava tramping down the hill. Still barefooted, she was wearing a long T-shirt that hung down to her knees and had an Uzi submachine gun slung over one shoulder.

“That’s one mad little pilot,” Alon said with a quiet sense of awe. “Someone just destroyed her helicopter. That machine was her baby.” Alon quickly disappeared down the stairwell and was soon seen running down the hill after her.

Lev stared down at the burning wreckage. “I have a feeling that we’ve just received a warning.”

“A warning?” John pointed at the flames below. “You call that a
warning
?”

“Whoever did this could have done much worse. Our presence here has stirred up a hornet’s nest.”

“You think Acerbi is behind this?” Leo asked.

“Probably. He and his people are on the verge of taking over the world, and after Sarah’s escape they may suspect that we’ve just learned who they are and what they’re up to.”

“Why didn’t they destroy the castle? Why just the helicopter and a few houses?”

“Good question, Cardinal.” In the darkness of the castle’s ramparts, Lev struck a match. His bearded face was bathed in an orange glow tinted by thick bluish smoke that curled up from the tip of his cigar. “Whatever just hit us seems to have stopped for now. It looks like the sun is just starting to come up. Let’s get everyone together and begin moving out. I suggest we gather up all the supplies we can carry and follow the river south to the coast where we can meet the yacht.”

BOOK: God's Lions - House of Acerbi
6.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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