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hossainmad.peperonity.net

part 1

FACT

T he world's largest scientific research
facility-Switzerland's Conseil Européen pour
la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN)-recently succeeded
in producing the first particles of
antimatter. Antimatter is identical to
physical matter except that it is composed of
particles whose electric charges are opposite
to those found in normal matter.
Antimatter is the most powerful energy source
known to man. It releases energy with 100
percent efficiency (nuclear fission is 1.5
percent efficient). Antimatter creates no
pollution or radiation, and a droplet could
power New York City for a full day.
There is, however, one catch . . .
Antimatter is highly unstable. It ignites when
it comes in contact with absolutely anything
. . . even air. A single gram of antimatter
contains the energy of a 20-kiloton nuclear
bomb-the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Until recently antimatter has been created only
in very small amounts (a few atoms at a
time). But CERN has now broken ground on its
new Antiproton Decelerator-an advanced
antimatter production facility that promises
to create antimatter in much larger quantities.
One question looms: Will this highly volatile
substance save the world, or will it be used
to create the most deadly weapon ever made?


AUTHOR'S NOTE

R eferences to all works of art, tombs, tunnels,
and architecture in Rome are entirely
factual (as are their exact locations).
They can still be seen today.
The brotherhood of the Illuminati is also factual.


PROLOGUE

P hysicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh,
and he knew it was his own. He stared
up in terror at the dark figure looming over him.
"What do you want!"
"La chiave," the raspy voice replied. "The password."
"But . . . I don't-"
The intruder pressed down again, grinding the
white hot object deeper into Vetra's chest.
There was the hiss of broiling flesh.
Vetra cried out in agony. "There is no password!"
He felt himself drifting toward unconsciousness.
The figure glared. "Ne avevo paura. I was afraid of that."
Vetra fought to keep his senses, but the darkness
was closing in. His only solace was in
knowing his attacker would never obtain what
he had come for. A moment later,
however, the figure produced a blade and brought
it to Vetra's face. The blade hovered.
Carefully. Surgically.
"For the love of God!" Vetra screamed. But it was too late.


1

H igh atop the steps of the Pyramid
of Giza a young woman laughed and called
down to him. "Robert, hurry up! I knew I
should have married a younger man!"
Her smile was magic. He struggled to
keep up, but his legs felt like stone.
"Wait," he begged. "Please . . ."
As he climbed, his vision began to blur.
There was a thundering in his ears. I must
reach her! But when he looked up again,
the woman had disappeared.

In her place stood an old
man with rotting teeth. The man stared
down, curling his lips into a lonely
grimace. Then he let out a scream of
anguish that resounded across the desert.
Robert Langdon awoke with a start from his
nightmare.

The phone beside his bed was
ringing. Dazed, he picked up the receiver.
"Hello?" "I'm looking for Robert Langdon,"
a man's voice said. Langdon sat up in his
empty bed and tried to clear his mind.
"This . . . is Robert

Langdon." He
squinted at his digital clock. It was 5:18 A.M.
"I must see you immediately."
"Who is this?"
"My name is Maximilian Kohler. I'm a discrete
particle
physicist."
"A what?" Langdon could barely focus.
"Are you sure you've got the right Langdon?"
"You're a professor of religious iconology
at Harvard University. You've written three
books on symbology and-"
"Do you know what time it is?"
"I apologize. I have something you need to see.
I can't discuss
it on the phone."
A knowing groan escaped Langdon's lips. This
had happened before.
One of the perils of
writing books about religious symbology was
the calls from religious zealots who wanted
him to confirm their latest sign from God.
Last month a stripper from Oklahoma had
promised Langdon the best sex of his life
if he would fly down and verify the authenticity
of a cruciform that had magically appeared
on her bed sheets. The Shroud of Tulsa, Langdon
had called it.
"How did you get my number?" Langdon tried to be
polite, despite the hour.
"On the Worldwide Web. The site for your book."
Langdon frowned. He was damn sure his book's
site did not include his home phone
number. The man was obviously lying.
"I need to see you," the caller insisted.
"I'll pay you well."
Now Langdon was getting mad. "I'm sorry,
but I really-"
"If you leave immediately, you can be here by-"
"I'm not going anywhere! It's five o'clock
in the morning!"
Langdon hung up and collapsed back in bed.
He closed his eyes and tried to fall
back asleep. It was no use. The
dream was emblazoned in his mind. Reluctantly,
he put on his robe and went downstairs.


Robert Langdon wandered barefoot through his
deserted
Massachusetts Victorian home and
nursed his ritual insomnia remedy-a mug of steaming
Nestlé's Quik. The April moon filtered through the
bay windows and played on the oriental carpets. Langdon's
colleagues often joked that his place looked more like
an anthropology museum than a home. His shelves were
packed with religious artifacts from around the
world-an ekuaba
from Ghana, a gold cross from Spain,
a cycladic idol from the Aegean, and even a rare
woven boccus from Borneo, a young warrior's symbol
of perpetual youth.
As Langdon sat on his brass
Maharishi's chest and savored the
warmth of the chocolate,
the bay window caught his reflection. The image
was distorted
and pale . . . like a ghost.
An aging ghost, he thought, cruelly reminded
that his youthful spirit was living in a
mortal shell.
Although not overly handsome in a classical
sense, the forty-five-year-old Langdon had
what his female colleagues referred to as an
"erudite" appeal-wisps of gray in his thick
brown hair, probing blue eyes, an arrestingly
deep voice,
and the strong, carefree smile of
a collegiate athlete. A varsity diver in prep
school and college, Langdon still had the body
of a swimmer, a toned, six-foot physique that
he vigilantly maintained with fifty laps a
day in the university pool.
Langdon's friends had always viewed him as a
bit of an enigma-a man caught between
centuries. On weekends he could be seen
lounging on the quad in blue jeans, discussing
computer graphics or religious history with students;
other times he could be spotted in his Harris
tweed and paisley vest, photographed in the pages of
upscale art magazines at museum openings where he
had been asked to lecture.
Although a tough
teacher and strict disciplinarian, Langdon was
the first to embrace what he hailed as the
"lost art of good clean fun." He relished recreation
with an infectious fanaticism that had earned
him a fraternal acceptance among his students.
His campus nickname-"The Dolphin"-was a reference
both to his affable nature and his legendary
ability to dive into a pool and outmaneuver
the entire opposing
squad in a water polo match.
As Langdon sat alone, absently gazing into the
darkness, the silence of his home was
shattered again, this time by the ring of his
fax machine. Too exhausted to be annoyed,
Langdon forced a tired chuckle.
God's people, he thought. Two thousand years
of waiting for their
Messiah, and they're
still persistent as hell. Wearily, he returned
his empty mug to the kitchen and walked slowly
to his oak-paneled study. The incoming fax
lay in the tray. Sighing, he scooped up the
paper and looked at it.
Instantly, a wave of nausea hit him.
The image on the page was that of a human
corpse. The body had been stripped naked,
and its head had been twisted, facing completely
backward. On the victim's chest was a
terrible burn. The man had been branded . . .
imprinted with a single word. It was a word
Langdon knew well. Very well. He stared at the
ornate lettering in disbelief.


"Illuminati," he stammered, his heart pounding.
It can't be . . . In slow motion, afraid of
what he was about to witness, Langdon rotated
the fax 180 degrees. He looked at the word upside down.
Instantly, the breath went out of him. It was like
he had been hit by a truck. Barely able to
believe his eyes, he rotated the fax again, reading
the brand right-side up and then upside
down.
"Illuminati," he whispered. Stunned, Langdon
collapsed in a chair. He sat a moment in utter
bewilderment. Gradually, his eyes were drawn
to the blinking red light on his fax machine.
Whoever had sent this fax was still on the line
. . . waiting to talk. Langdon
gazed at the
blinking
light a long time.
Then, trembling, he picked up the receiver.


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