THE END OF THE WORLD IS HERE
Unlocking the secret of the Seven Ancient Wonders was only the beginning...
After their thrilling exploits in Matthew Reilly's rampaging New York Times bestseller, 7 Deadly Wonders, supersoldier Jack West Jr. and his loyal team of adventurers are back, and now they face an all-but-impossible challenge.
A mysterious ceremony in an unknown location has unraveled their work and triggered a catastrophic countdown that will climax in no less than the end of all life on Earth.
But there is one last hope.
If Jack and his team can find and rebuild a legendary ancient device known only as the "Machine," they might be able to ward off the coming armageddon. The only clues to locating this Machine, however, are held within the fabled Six Sacred Stones, long lost in the fog of history.
And so the hunt begins for the Six Sacred Stones and the all-important knowledge they possess, but in the course of this wild adventure Jack and his team will discover that they are not the only ones seeking the Stones and that there might just be other players out there who don't want to see the world saved at all.
From Stonehenge in England to the deserts of Egypt to the spectacular Three Gorges region of China, The 6 Sacred Stones will take you on a nonstop roller-coaster ride through ancient history, modern military hardware, and some of the fastest and most mind-blowing action you will ever read.
"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.
Matthew Reilly is the Australian-born author of bestselling novels Contest, Ice Station, Temple, Area 7, Scarecrow and Seven Ancient Wonders, which reached the Sunday Times top-ten bestseller list. He wrote his first two books while studying law at the University of New South Wales, and now writes full-time, producing novels and screenplays and creating television series. The author lives in Syndey.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Flight of the Firestone
December 1, 2007
9 Days Before the 1st Deadline
Zou chu lai dao jia ban shang! Wo yao kan de dao ni. Ba shou ju zhe gao gao de!"
Translation: "Hey! Come out onto the deck! Remain in plain sight! Hold your hands up high!"
Deleting a final image, Chow did as he was told, kicked back from his desk, and stepped out onto the open foredeck of his barge.
The lead gunboat towered above him. It was a modern one, fast, with camouflaged flanks and a huge forward gun.
Chinese soldiers with American-made Colt Commando assault rifles lined its deck, their short-barreled guns pointed at Chow.
That they held modern American weapons was a bad sign: it meant that these soldiers were elite troops, special forces. Ordinary Chinese infantrymen carried clunky old Type 56 assault rifles -- the Chinese rip-off of the AK-47.
These guys weren't ordinary.
Chow raised his hands -- a bare second before someone fired and the entire front half of his body exploded with bloody holes and he was hurled backward with violent force.
Wizard keyed his radio mike.
"Chow? Chow, are you there?"
There was no reply.
Then, abruptly, the harness that until now had hung suspended from the well hole in the ceiling went whizzing back up into the hole like a spooked snake, hauled up by someone above.
"Chow!" Wizard called into his radio. "What are you -- "
Moments later, the harness came back into view...
...with Chow on it.
Wizard's blood turned to ice.
"Oh, dear me, no..." He rushed forward.
Almost unrecognizable from the many bullet wounds, Chow's body came level with Wizard.
As if on cue, the radio suddenly came to life.
"Professor Epper," a voice said in English. "This is Colonel Mao Gongli. We know you are in there, and we are coming in. Try nothing foolish, or you shall meet the same fate as your assistant."
The Chinese troops entered the chamber quickly, abseiling down drop-ropes with clinical precision.
Within two minutes, Wizard and Tank were surrounded by a dozen men with guns.
Colonel Mao Gongli entered last of all. At fifty-five years of age, he was a portly man, but he stood with perfect poise, ramrod straight. Like many men of his generation, he'd been patriotically named after Chairman Mao. He had no operational nickname except the one his enemies had given him after his actions at Tiananmen Square in 1989 as a major -- the Butcher of Tiananmen, they called him.
Silence hung in the air.
Mao stared at Wizard with dead eyes. When at last he spoke, he did so in clear, clipped English.
"Professor Max T. Epper, call sign Merlin, but known to some as Wizard. Canadian by birth, but resident Professor of Archaeology at Trinity College, Dublin. Connected with the rather unusual incident that took place atop the Great Pyramid at Giza on March 20, 2006.
"And Professor Yobu Tanaka, from the University of Tokyo. Not connected with the Giza incident, but an expert on ancient civilizations. Gentlemen, your assistant was a gifted and intelligent young man. You can see how much I care for such men."
"What do you want?" Wizard demanded.
Mao smiled, a thin joyless smile.
"Why Professor Epper, I want you."Wizard frowned. He hadn't expected that answer.
Mao stepped forward, gazing at the grand chamber around them. "Great times are upon us, Professor. In the coming months, empires will rise and nations will fall. In times such as these, the People's Republic of China needs knowledgeable men, men like you. Which is why you work for me now, Professor. And I'm sure that with the right kind of persuasion -- in one of my torture chambers -- you are going to help me find the Six Ramesean Stones."
Great Sandy Desert
December 1, 2007, 0715 hours
On the day his farm was attacked with overwhelming force, Jack West Jr. had slept in till 7:00 a.m.
Normally he got up around six to see the dawn, but life was good these days. His world had been at peace for almost eighteen months, so he decided to skip the damn dawn and get an extra hour's sleep.
The kids, of course, were already up. Lily had a friend over for the summer holidays, a little boy from her school named Alby Calvin.
Noisy and excited and generally up to mischief, they'd played nonstop for the past three days, exploring every corner of the vast desert farm by day, while at night they gazed up at the stars through Alby's telescope.
That Alby was partially deaf meant little to Lily or to Jack. At their school in Perth for gifted and talented students, Lily was the star linguist and Alby the star mathematician and that was all that mattered.
At eleven, she now knew six languages, two of them ancient and one of them sign language -- it had been easily acquired and was actually something that she and Jack had done together. Today the end tips of her beautiful long black hair were colored electric pink.
For his part, Alby was twelve, black, and wore large thick-lensed glasses. He had a cochlear implant, the miraculous technology that allowed the deaf to hear, and spoke with a slightly rounded inflection -- signing was still necessary for those times when he needed to understand extra emotion or urgency in a matter -- but deaf or not, Alby Calvin could rumble with the best of them.
West was standing on the porch with his shirt off, sipping a mug of coffee. His left arm glinted in the morning sun -- from the bicep down, it was entirely made of metal.
He gazed out at the wide desert landscape, hazy in the morning light. Of medium height, with blue eyes and tousled dark hair, he was handsome in a rugged kind of way. Once upon a time, he had been ranked the fourth-best special forces soldier in the world, a lone Australian on a list dominated by Americans.
But he was no longer a soldier. After leading a daring ten-year mission to acquire the fabled Golden Capstone of the Great Pyramid from the remains of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, he was now more a treasure hunter than a warrior, more skilled at skirting booby-trapped cave systems and deciphering ancient riddles than killing people.
The adventure with the Capstone, which had ended atop the Great Pyramid, had forged West's relationship with Lily. Since her parents were dead, Jack had raised her -- with the help of a truly unique team of international soldiers. Soon after the Capstone mission had concluded, he had formally adopted her.
And since that day nearly two years ago, he had lived out here in splendid isolation, away from missions, away from the world, only traveling to Perth when Lily's schooling required it.
As for the Golden Capstone, it sat in all its glory in an abandoned nickel mine behind his farmhouse.
A few months back, a newspaper article had troubled West.
An Australian special forces trooper named Oakes had been killed in Iraq, shot to death in an ambush, the first Australian battle casualty in any conflict in nearly two years.
It bothered West because he was one of the few people in the world who knew exactly why no Australian had been killed in battle these past eighteen months. It had to do with the Tartarus Rotation of 2006 and the Capstone: thanks to his performance of an ancient ritual back then, West had assured Australia invulnerability for what was supposed to be a very long time.
But now with the death of that soldier in Iraq, that period of invulnerability appeared to be over.
The date of the man's death had struck him: August 21. It was suspiciously close to the northern autumnal equinox.
West himself had performed the Tartarus ritual atop the Great Pyramid on March 20, 2006, the day of the vernal equinox, the spring day when the Sun is perfectly overhead and day equals night.
The vernal and autumnal equinoxes are twin celestial moments that occur at opposite times of the year.
Opposites but the same, West thought. Yin and yang.
Someone, somewhere, had done something around the autumnal equinox that had neutralized Tartarus.
West was disturbed from his reverie by a small brown shape cutting across his view to the east.
It was a bird, a falcon, soaring gracefully across the dusty sky, wings wide. It was Horus, his peregrine falcon and loyal companion. The bird landed on the railing next to him, squawking at the eastern horizon.
West looked that way just in time to see several black dots appear in the sky there, flying in formation.
About three hundred miles away, near the coastal town of Wyndham, military exercises were under way, the biennial Talisman Sabre exercises that Australia held with America. Large in scale, they involved all sections of both nations' armed forces: navy, army, and air force.
Only this year, Talisman Sabre came with a twist: for the first time ever, China was participating. No one was under any illusions. Under the chaperoning of neutral Australia (it had significant trade links with China and long-standing military links with the US), China and America, the two biggest kids on the block, were sizing each other up. At first, the US hadn't wanted China's participation, but the Chinese had exerted some considerable trade pressure on Australia to be involved, and the Australians had begged the US to allow it.
But happily, West thought, these weren't matters that concerned him anymore.
He turned to watch Lily and Alby scamper around the barn, kicking up matching dust trails, when the computer in his kitchen pinged.
Ping, ping, ping, ping.
Lots of them.
Jack stepped inside, still gripping his coffee, and checked the monitor.
Over two dozen e-mails from Max Epper had just come in. Jack clicked on one, and found himself staring at a digital photo of an ancient carved symbol. Chinese by the look of it.
"Oh, Wizard." He sighed. "What's happened now? Did you forget to take your extra hard drive again?"
Wizard had done this before. He needed to back something up but had forgotten to take a second hard drive, so he'd e-mailed his photographs to Jack for safekeeping.
With a groan, Jack clicked over to the Internet and brought up...
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