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Angels And Demons Dan Brown - 23

37
Vittoria glared at the Swiss Guard standing outside Olivetti’s locked door. The sentinel glared back, his colorful costume belying his decidedly ominous air.
^ Che fiasco,” Vittoria thought. Held hostage by an armed man in pajamas.
Langdon had fallen silent, and Vittoria hoped he was using that Harvard brain of his to think them out of this. She sensed, however, from the look on his face, that he was more in shock than in thought. She regretted getting him so involved.
Vittoria’s first instinct was to pull out her cell phone and call Kohler, but she knew it was foolish. First, the guard would probably walk in and take her phone. Second, if Kohler’s episode ran its usual course, he was probably still incapacitated. Not that it mattered . . . Olivetti seemed unlikely to take anybody’s word on anything at the moment.
Remember! she told herself. Remember the solution to this test!
Remembrance was a Buddhist philosopher’s trick. Rather than asking her mind to search for a solution to a potentially impossible challenge, Vittoria asked her mind simply to remember it. The presupposition that one once knew the answer created the mindset that the answer must exist . . . thus eliminating the crippling conception of hopelessness. Vittoria often used the process to solve scientific quandaries . . . those that most people thought had no solution.
At the moment, however, her remembrance trick was drawing a major blank. So she measured her options . . . her needs. She needed to warn someone. Someone at the Vatican needed to take her seriously. But who? The camerlegno? How? She was in a glass box with one exit.
^ Tools, she told herself. There are always tools. Reevaluate your environment.
Instinctively she lowered her shoulders, relaxed her eyes, and took three deep breaths into her lungs. She sensed her heart rate slow and her muscles soften. The chaotic panic in her mind dissolved. ^ Okay, she thought, let your mind be free. What makes this situation positive? What are my assets?
The analytical mind of Vittoria Vetra, once calmed, was a powerful force. Within seconds she realized their incarceration was actually their key to escape.
“I’m making a phone call,” she said suddenly.
Langdon looked up. “I was about to suggest you call Kohler, but—”
“Not Kohler. Someone else.”
“Who?”
“The camerlegno.”
Langdon looked totally lost. “You’re calling the chamberlain? How?”
“Olivetti said the camerlegno was in the Pope’s office.”
“Okay. You know the Pope’s private number?”
“No. But I’m not calling on my phone.” She nodded to a high tech phone system on Olivetti’s desk. It was riddled with speed dial buttons. “The head of security must have a direct line to the Pope’s office.”
“He also has a weight lifter with a gun planted six feet away.”
“And we’re locked in.”
“I was actually aware of that.”
“I mean the guard is locked out. This is Olivetti’s private office. I doubt anyone else has a key.”
Langdon looked out at the guard. “This is pretty thin glass, and that’s a pretty big gun.”
“What’s he going to do, shoot me for using the phone?”
“Who the hell knows! This is a pretty strange place, and the way things are going—”
“Either that,” Vittoria said, “or we can spend the next five hours and forty eight minutes in Vatican Prison. At least we’ll have a front row seat when the antimatter goes off.”
Langdon paled. “But the guard will get Olivetti the second you pick up that phone. Besides, there are twenty buttons on there. And I don’t see any identification. You going to try them all and hope to get lucky?”
“Nope,” she said, striding to the phone. “Just one.” Vittoria picked up the phone and pressed the top button. “Number one. I bet you one of those Illuminati U.S. dollars you have in your pocket that this is the Pope’s office. What else would take primary importance for a Swiss Guard commander?”
Langdon did not have time to respond. The guard outside the door started rapping on the glass with the butt of his gun. He motioned for her to set down the phone.
Vittoria winked at him. The guard seemed to inflate with rage.
Langdon moved away from the door and turned back to Vittoria. “You damn well better be right, ‘cause this guy does not look amused!”
“Damn!” she said, listening to the receiver. “A recording.”
“Recording?” Langdon demanded. “The Pope has an answering machine?”
“It wasn’t the Pope’s office,” Vittoria said, hanging up. “It was the damn weekly menu for the Vatican commissary.”
Langdon offered a weak smile to the guard outside who was now glaring angrily though the glass while he hailed Olivetti on his walkie talkie.
38
The Vatican switchboard is located in the Ufficio di Communicazione behind the Vatican post office. It is a relatively small room containing an eight line Corelco 141 switchboard. The office handles over 2,000 calls a day, most routed automatically to the recording information system.
Tonight, the sole communications operator on duty sat quietly sipping a cup of caffeinated tea. He felt proud to be one of only a handful of employees still allowed inside Vatican City tonight. Of course the honor was tainted somewhat by the presence of the Swiss Guards hovering outside his door. An escort to the bathroom, the operator thought. Ah, the indignities we endure in the name of Holy Conclave.
Fortunately, the calls this evening had been light. Or maybe it was not so fortunate, he thought. World interest in Vatican events seemed to have dwindled in the last few years. The number of press calls had thinned, and even the crazies weren’t calling as often. The press office had hoped tonight’s event would have more of a festive buzz about it. Sadly, though, despite St. Peter’s Square being filled with press trucks, the vans looked to be mostly standard Italian and Euro press. Only a handful of global cover all networks were there . . . no doubt having sent their giornalisti secundari.
The operator gripped his mug and wondered how long tonight would last. Midnight or so, he guessed. Nowadays, most insiders already knew who was favored to become Pope well before conclave convened, so the process was more of a three— or four hour ritual than an actual election. Of course, last minute dissension in the ranks could prolong the ceremony through dawn . . . or beyond. The conclave of 1831 had lasted fifty four days. Not tonight, he told himself; rumor was this conclave would be a “smoke watch.”
The operator’s thoughts evaporated with the buzz of an inside line on his switchboard. He looked at the blinking red light and scratched his head. ^ That’s odd, he thought. The zero line. Who on the inside would be calling operator information tonight? Who is even inside?
Città del Vaticano, prego? “he said, picking up the phone.
The voice on the line spoke in rapid Italian. The operator vaguely recognized the accent as that common to Swiss Guards—fluent Italian tainted by the Franco Swiss influence. This caller, however, was most definitely not Swiss Guard.
On hearing the woman’s voice, the operator stood suddenly, almost spilling his tea. He shot a look back down at the line. He had not been mistaken. ^ An internal extension. The call was from the inside. There must be some mistake! he thought. A woman inside Vatican City? Tonight?
The woman was speaking fast and furiously. The operator had spent enough years on the phones to know when he was dealing with a pazzo. This woman did not sound crazy. She was urgent but rational. Calm and efficient. He listened to her request, bewildered.
^ Il camerlegno? “the operator said, still trying to figure out where the hell the call was coming from. “I cannot possibly connect . . . yes, I am aware he is in the Pope’s office but . . . who are you again? . . . and you want to warn him of . . .” He listened, more and more unnerved. Everyone is in danger? How? And where are you calling from? “Perhaps I should contact the Swiss . . .” The operator stopped short. “You say you’re where? Where?
He listened in shock, then made a decision. “Hold, please,” he said, putting the woman on hold before she could respond. Then he called Commander Olivetti’s direct line. ^ There is no way that woman is really
The line picked up instantly.
Per l’amore di Dio! “a familiar woman’s voice shouted at him. “Place the damn call!”
The door of the Swiss Guards’ security center hissed open. The guards parted as Commander Olivetti entered the room like a rocket. Turning the corner to his office, Olivetti confirmed what his guard on the walkie talkie had just told him; Vittoria Vetra was standing at his desk talking on the commander’s private telephone.
^ Che coglioni che ha questa! he thought. The balls on this one!
Livid, he strode to the door and rammed the key into the lock. He pulled open the door and demanded, “What are you doing?”
Vittoria ignored him. “Yes,” she was saying into the phone. “And I must warn—”
Olivetti ripped the receiver from her hand, and raised it to his ear. “Who the hell is this?”
For the tiniest of an instant, Olivetti’s inelastic posture slumped. “Yes, camerlegno . . .” he said. “Correct, signore . . . but questions of security demand . . . of course not . . . I am holding her here for . . . certainly, but . . .” He listened. “Yes, sir,” he said finally. “I will bring them up immediately.”
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