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Authors: Ralph McInerny

The Third Revelation

BOOK: The Third Revelation
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Table of Contents
 
 
 
 
Closer to God . . .
Anatoly turned and saw the uniformed guard approaching.
“Può aiutame?”
he asked, trying to look like a confused tourist.
The guard stayed put, tucked his chin into his chest, and glared. Anatoly pointed to the top of the fence.
“Che cos'è?”
the guard asked.
The guard's eyes were lifted upward like a martyr's when Anatoly plunged the knife into him. He unbuttoned the man's uniform jacket as he eased the dying man to the roof.
Dressed in his victim's clothes, he would be able to use a more direct way into the Apostolic Palace than he'd originally planned. All he needed now was a place to change and hide the body.
Some things,
Anatoly thought,
worked out perfectly.
It boded well for his mission.
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are 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. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
THE THIRD REVELATION
 
A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author and Tekno Books
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Jove mass-market edition /March 2009
 
Copyright © 2009 by Tekno Books.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
 
eISBN : 978-1-101-01464-6
 
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In homage to
Robert Hugh
Benson
Wherefore we love thee, wherefore we sing to thee, We, all we, through the length of our days,
The praise of the lips and the hearts of us bring to thee, Thee, oh maiden, most worthy of praise;
For lips and hearts they belong to thee, Who to us are as dew to grass and tree.
For the fallen rise and the stricken spring to thee, Thee May-hope of our darkened ways!
 
—GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS, “AD MARIAM”
PROLOGUE
“Is it you, or must we wait for another?”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
He slipped his knife into the knapsack of the girl ahead of him as the line approached the security check at the entrance to Saint Peter's Basilica. She wore her hair in a crew cut, and her shapeless T-shirt could not conceal the ripe body within. Anatoly was counting on the distraction of her breasts to keep the guards' attention off of him.
It worked.
The girl was smiled through the checkpoint without a search of her bag, and Anatoly, too, was waved through, though without a smile. He walked up behind her. She turned in alarm when he opened her knapsack.
“Security,” he said, in a reassuring manner. He plucked the knife from the knapsack. “I'll take that.”
“Where did that thing come from?” she asked.
“You are free to go,” he told her. “Thank you for your cooperation,” he said, putting the knife safely back in his pocket.
She walked off, clearly confused.
She was no longer his problem.
He swam through the sea of people, stood in another line, and finally rose to the roof. He hurried along the front of the basilica, behind and below the great statues that looked out on the square and at Rome beyond. When he reached the archway that linked the basilica and the Apostolic Palace, he stopped. A steel fence, the width of the bridgelike top of the archway, barred his way. The rods were two inches in diameter and rose to speared tips.
He looked across at the palace and then at his watch. He must get there within the hour. Everything depended on it.
There was a voice behind him.
“Signore!”
He turned.
A uniformed guard. Anatoly beckoned him.
“Può aiutame?”
Anatoly asked, trying to look like a confused tourist asking for help.
The guard stayed put, tucked his chin into his chest, and glared. Anatoly pointed upward to the top of the fence.
Slowly, the guard came toward him.
“Che cos'è?”
the guard asked.
The guard's eyes were lifted upward like a martyr's when Anatoly plunged the knife into him. He unbuttoned the guard's uniform jacket as he eased the dying man to the roof, taking his weapon.
By dressing in his victim's clothes, he would now be able to use a more direct way into the Apostolic Palace than he'd originally planned.
All he needed now was a place to change and hide the body.
Some things,
Anatoly thought,
worked out perfectly.
It boded well for his mission.
 
 
Would nothing go well today?
Cardinal Maguire thought as he walked onto the roof of the Vatican Library. He glanced at the nearby villa, which was his penthouse home as prefect, then walked to the patio where potted lemon trees and a vast array of flowers and greenery created a living reminder of his native county. He sat, closed his eyes, then opened them in annoyance. He had fled here from another interminable conversation with the Russian ambassador.
Fled, but not before putting both his diplomacy and his charity to the test. The ambassador had persisted, talking on and on.
Maguire had sighed and had said again with as much diplomatic patience as he could muster, “Your Excellency, I am not authorized to accede to your request.”
The Russian's flat Slavic face was expressionless, but his recessed eyes seemed to be reading the cardinal's lips rather than listening to what he said.
“Meaning, of course, that what I seek is in the archives, Excellency,” the ambassador responded.
They traded titles almost ironically, more a sign of distrust than of respect. “I have not said that,” the cardinal replied.
“I can infer as much from your silence. Imagine what mischief such information could cause in the wrong hands.”
“There is no danger of that.” Especially if the Russian did not manage to get into the archives.
“Ah, you live in the next world, not in this one.” The diplomat did not mean it as a compliment.
“Not today, although eventually, I hope to.” The line of the cardinal's lips widened and something like dimples appeared on his cheeks.
“Who can authorize you to respond to my request?” The Russian would not listen. Or perhaps he was not used to taking no for an answer.
“The secretary of state,” the cardinal offered.
“He sent me to you.”
Cardinal Maguire smiled. Ah yes. Such was the Roman way.
“And you send me back to him,” the Russian went on, aggrieved.
“Perhaps a private audience with the Holy Father,” Maguire suggested.
Silence.
That should have ended the conversation. It was one they'd had twice before, with the same outcome. But this time Chekovsky seemed rooted to his chair. On the previous occasion, the cardinal prefect had turned the ambassador over to Brendan Crowe. The young priest from Maguire's home county had been trained in moral theology. He thus could manage to deceive without actually deceiving.
Why did this Russian have such a fixation with the reports on the long-ago attempted assassination of John Paul II? That pope had died a natural death after a protracted and debilitating illness. The papacy had changed hands in an ordered manner, with appropriate pomp and ceremony. Years earlier, the USSR had given way to Russia. For both their people, it was a different world.
He wondered what the Russian needed. Reassurance that all the bodies had been buried? Of course the KGB had been behind the Turk Ali Agca's attempt on the life of the pope. John Paul's memo on his conversation with his would-be assassin when he visited him in his prison cell made that clear enough. But at this late date, the government that had sponsored the attack was gone, lost in the rush of politics and time. But still the Russian pressed on. What, Maguire wondered, did he think was in those documents?
And why was he so desperate to lay his hands on them?
 
 
“Did Agca ever mention accomplices?” Father Crowe asked when Maguire had had him fetched from his office.
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because Agca is still alive. What he said to the pope he could say to anyone. But if he has spoken to others . . .”
“Have you ever looked at the materials?”
Crowe seemed to find the question surprising. But where is there an archivist who is not curious? The CIA and British intelligence had provided the Vatican with their lengthy reports on the assassination attempt. Once, Maguire had found such materials intriguing, but his experience with Chekovsky made the whole matter loathsome.
“So there were others?” Crowe asked.
Maguire displayed his palms. “I am sick to death of the matter.”
And so he was. He left Father Crowe and slowly climbed to his rooftop garden, his Garden of Eden. Well, Dante had located it on the top of Mount Purgatory. Relaxed in his chair, he closed his eyes again and this time found the peace he craved. Soon, he sat there napping, surrounded by his greenery.
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