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AbeBooks Seller Since November 23, 2004Quantity Available: 1
About this Item
Publication Date: 1997
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
Book Condition:Used: Very Good
About this title
In a biogenic laboratory in California, a scientist injects his own DNA into a test subject--and discovers that human knowledge and memories can be absorbed on a molecular level. In the Vatican in Rome, the Pope makes a crucial decision in the name of science and God--to loan the remains of Saint Peter for DNA research. Saint Peter is resurrected: a miracle is reborn. But it soon becomes clear that some mysteries may never be solved. Because the resurrected Peter has escaped--and he is being stalked by an unknown assassin.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Chapter One Citta del Vaticano
Giuliana Sabatini stood at the window of her tiny office overlooking St. Peter's Square, her glance inevitably drawn toward the iron cross atop the obelisk that dominated the piazza, trying to calm her quick Italian temper. Once again, Cosa was toying with her. The cardinal had demanded her presence at an urgent early-morning meeting, only to have her informed by an aide once she arrived that the meeting had been postponed "until sometime later in the day."
"'Later in the day,'" Giuliana had repeated the obsequious voice's words into the phone with a small frown. "When? An hour from now? This afternoon? Early or late? Have I time to return home to retrieve the notes I was working on, or must I wait here all day at the Cardinal's convenience? How soon is 'later in the day'?"
"I'm sorry, Dottore; that is all I can tell you. His Eminence will inform me, and I will inform you."
She had hurried her morning run, rushed from the Metro at Stazione Ottaviano with the rising sun in order to have time for early Mass, and had been pacing the confines of her cell of an office, too keyed up to concentrate on her work, ever since. It was now past noon. Nor was this the first time Cosa had done such a thing to her.
Adeodato Cardinal Cosa was one of the most powerful men in Rome -- and her immediate superior. Giuliana had snapped at his aide because she could not snap at him. Now, as the soft Roman breeze teased her fiery chestnut hair, she calmed herself. She was well aware of how fortunate she, a laywoman, was to be in the place she was in the hierarchy of the Church. If Cosa wanted her to wait, she would wait. It was the province of those in power to exercise that power by making those who served them wait.
Her senses alive to whatever this summons might mean, Giuliana waited.
La Jolla, California
Andrew Shepard stood disbelieving in the cool limbo of 3:30 A.M., hands gripping the edge of the table, knuckles whitening. A gust of wind teased the window blinds while outside, eucalyptus leaves rattled the air. Sensing a shift in polarity, he fingered a tuft of Niko's black simian hair.
His thoughts slowed and awareness buckled in the vacuum of failure. He felt himself sinking, a drowning man observing his own descent. How could it be happening again?
7 7 7
He had planned the experiment in three stages. Before he could even begin the first stage, he and his lab assistant Will Austin had to invest considerable time in getting acquainted with Niko and Lucy, a pair of adolescent chimps. Both chimps had been well trained before BioGenera acquired them, a fact of which CEO Mike Gindman could not resist reminding Andrew at nearly every budget meeting. They were docile, housebroken, and able to communicate their essential needs in the gestures of American Sign Language. Even so, they required almost as much attention as a pair of energetic children.
The nature of Andrew's experiment required that he treat these animals not as mere lab specimens but almost as friends. The more he knew about Niko's personality, in particular, the better he would be able to measure the success of his experiment.
Stage One had consisted of injecting a solution of Niko's DNA into the bloodstream of the rhesus monkey, R.H. There had been no adverse effects following the first injection; in fact, there had been no effects at all. Forty-eight hours later Andrew had ordered Will to administer a second injection. Nothing.
R.H. had evidenced no psychological changes, no alteration in behavior or activity throughout six weeks' observation. Stage One was a failure.
Andrew knew he could hardly walk into the next staff meeting and say as much to Gindman. His boss ran BioGenera on success, not failure. With a silent prayer, he had worked all night to prepare Niko for Stage Two.
Now he traced the hollow below Niko's ribs, the slackness of the diaphragm, its readiness for breath. Bending down, he blew onto the chest, caressed the muscled forearm and elongated hand. Where was the life that surged through these limbs? Andrew felt Lucy's dark eyes observing him. Trust still shone in her expression as she also waited for movement on the table. She glanced at Andrew for understanding, then back to the still form of her mate. A shadow darted across her gaze and wrinkled her brow. A muted whimper sounded from deep within her, and she reached out between the bars to touch, to calm herself.
Andrew swallowed. He had to accept responsibility. Placing his hand on the small chest, he held his breath and listened. It was useless; the rush of blood in his own veins was too loud for him to hear anything.
"Niko . . ." he whispered.
Niko had become more than just a monkey, more than merely another subject for experimentation. He was Andrew's link between species, an eloquent reminder of nature's complexity who both humbled and inspired the biogeneticist.
Science was Andrew's religion, the search for truth in the maze of genetics his mission. Angels dancing on the head of a pin, the legacy of his Catholic boyhood, had long since been displaced by the cryptic dance of genes along the spiral microcosm of DNA. Niko had been his last hope of rising out of anonymous scientific mediocrity and making a lasting contribution to the betterment of his species. And because Andrew treated him as a friend, Niko had overcome his distrust of men in white lab coats and showed interest in his keeper.
He would watch Andrew sit at his desk making notes, absentmindedly pulling on his earlobe, constructing double-helix DNA models from colorful plastic sticks and spheres, drifting into thoughts far, far removed from the lab, staring unblinking out the window for an hour. Niko followed the suspended motion for as long as a minute or two. Beyond that his self-control would crumble and he would take to distractions, flinging tennis balls out of his cell, clapping noisily, rattling his toys against the bars. He had once beaned Andrew with a teddy bear from across the laboratory, a direct hit, and was immensely proud of it. Even Lucy, usually the quieter of the two, had applauded that one. Still, they had both finally learned that nothing could command Andrew's attention once he was absorbed in his work.
Andrew's ex-wife, Margaret, had learned as much too, though it had taken her considerably longer.
Every morning Andrew let Niko and Lucy out of their large cell so they could sit at the window overlooking Torrey Pines Golf Course and the Pacific. They drank in the fresh air, dozed in the sun, studied the flights of sea birds and the seasonal migrating of whales. Neither Andrew nor Will worried about the chimps' getting into serious trouble or ingesting anything harmful. They found Andrew's steady diet of coffee and bagels with peanut butter downright repulsive.
Niko would curl into Andrew's lap when the sun traveled beyond the window and insist on play. When he didn't get enough hide-and-seek or wrestling or even simple grooming, his tantrums would be heard all the way to Mike Gindman's penthouse office.
The phone would ring. Always Gindman's executive assistant, Delphine. Always the purred taunt: 'Who's running that asylum, Dr. Shepard?'
Always Andrew would laugh. Watching him, Niko would throw back his head in perfect imitation and, silently, laugh too.
She hurried from the Metro at Stazione Ottaviano under the penetrating gazes of idle merchants and women who looked closely before averting their eyes. Through Porta Angelica and across the vast piazza, she walked on stones that remembered the birth of faith, pausing in the morning light to stand quietly on the piazza floor.
She looked up at the basilica and listened. It was her way. To listen to the stones, remembering the birth of faith before practicing it. When she ascended the steps from Rome's teeming vizio into the muted radiance of San Pietro in Vaticano, she felt instantly closer to God.
Two of the five massive bronze doors were open. The others, with the exception of the Porta Sancta, would open in time for the rush of tourists and pilgrims at midmorning. By papal decree in the year 1300, only the pontiff was permitted to open the Porta Sancta, and only during a Holy Year. A brick wall behind it was loosely assembled to enable the feeblest of popes to destroy it with a few hammer blows.
Giuliana walked across Maderno's seventeenth-century atrium and felt her heart quicken as she approached the nave, the vast main aisle of the basilica. Michelangelo's architectural vision was impressive by any standard, but it assumed miraculous significance when she remembered that the maestro had executed it in his seventy-second year with the technology of 1547.
The church stretched out more than six hundred feet from where she stood, down the nave, beyond the papal altar, all the way to the wall of the apse behind Bernini's Cathedra Petri. The ceiling hovered 150 feet above her, soaring 390 feet to the lantern in the dome above the altar!
A visiting American priest's Latinate chant drifted quietly from the far corner. Giuliana followed the voice to the Chapel of the Crucifixion of Saint Peter where early Mass was under way.
"Hoc est enim corpus meum. . . . This is my body . . ."
She was surprised and thrilled to hear Latin again. It had been banned for thirty years, but there were still many Catholics like herself who cherished the mystery of the Mass in Latin and sought it out. She offered a prayer of thanks for the American priest's courage. He would be disciplined, she thought sadly.
The ring of sanctus bells floated on scented air, and Giuliana prepared to receive the body of Christ. Despite the grip of crisis in which the Church had struggled since Vatican II, including a dizzying array of seemingly insoluble dilemmas - polarization between individual freedom and church authority, erosion of the priesthood, alienation of the faithful, and the Holy See's credibility in sexual matters - Giuliana found comfort in the Eucharist. It was a constant in a life in which she had experienced violent change.
"The body of Christ . . .," proclaimed the priest in his broad American accent as he held up the Eucharist for her to receive. Chicago, Giuliana guessed.
"Amen," she whispered and gratefully accepted the unleavened wafer on her outstretched tongue.
Crossing herself, she turned and found an empty pew in which to thank God for his blessings and for his forbearance in her weaknesses. She knelt, eyes closed to better see Christ, hands folded as the nuns taught her so long ago, heart open to inspiration to be a better Catholic. She wished she could stay there forever, lulled by Gregorian chant and the padding of pilgrim feet.
Above her, gray stone ascended to form graceful arches, the Gothic metaphor for hands joined in prayer.
After an appropriate pause she rose and walked north across the centuries-old mosaic-tiled floor. Her heels clicked crisply, but the sound was lost to all but the shifting chalk of the saints' bones beneath the floor and in the walls. Even sound lost itself in this place.
When she reached the statue of Saint Peter near the entrance to the Sacred Grotto, Giuliana touched his smoothly worn foot, genuflected and crossed herself. Mornings like this, on which she was about to participate in the Vatican's holy work, refreshed her spirit. She had prayed for the opportunity to develop her talents. And now she prayed to Saint Peter, asking him to deliver her gratitude to God's ear.
Stretching out before her, twin marble stairways descended into the Confessio, the devotional area over Saint Peter's tomb, which lay directly below the highest point of the dome. Ninety-five sanctuary lamps, perpetually lit, flickered along the stairwells to light the way to grace near Peter's final resting place.
There could be no doubt that the bones were those of Saint Peter. It wasn't just the weight of archaeological and forensic evidence that made Giuliana certain, it was an act of faith, inspired by the faith of those who had gone before, the faith that, as much as genius and skill and years of labor, had fashioned this place.
Michelangelo had designed this largest of all Cathedrals so that its highest point, the dome that rose above so much of Rome, perched four hundred feet directly above Peter's remains, one foot for every year until 1951, when technology enabled man to positively identify Peter's bones. Giuliana basked in the cascading fall of light and felt herself fully restored. The spirit of Peter touched her with the light, as if acknowledging that he had successfully completed his errand. It was amazing how good life could be when one surrendered to the blessings of a faithful life.
This morning Giuliana was to have met with Special Pontifical Adviser Adeodato Cardinal Cosa regarding a matter of utmost concern to him. Therefore, she had wanted to be at the pinnacle of her physical and mental powers.
She ran an extra two kilometers above and beyond her usual five along the River Tiber, crossing the Ponte Palatino into Rome proper, around the Circus Massimo, the Palatine, and back across the Tiber by way of the Ponte Angelo.
At thirty-eight, Giuliana was just beginning to feel the effects of running on her knees. Her legs were perfectly proportioned, not muscular like those of some runners. She was careful to avoid that. But her knees tired more easily now.
To most observers, Giuliana was simply an attractive Italian signora with luxuriant hair, neat proportions, the grace of a royal, and an earthly gaze that seemed ready to sparkle into delighted laughter at the slightest prompting. Despite her apparent beauty, however, she felt awkward within. Even clumsy at times. Why, she did not understand. Perhaps her childhood experience had left her with some residual strangeness, a sense of unreality. But she was as aware of her own awkwardness as she was of her need to overcome it.
And now Cosa had thrown her off balance again, as he seemed to take a perverse pleasure in doing. The reason for postponing their meeting until the afternoon, as Giuliana had finally managed to wring out of the obsequious aide, had something to do with the availability of Monsignor Kleiman.
Monsignor Kleiman was the guardian of the Vatican reliquaries, the keeper of the bones of saints and presumed saints, an antiquity among the antiquities. What could the need for his presence at a meeting that Cosa had deemed "of greatest importance" possibly mean?
Puzzling over this, Giuliana had essentially squandered the greater part of the day. Now, as the midday siesta ended and the rest of Rome resumed its daily activities, she returned to the basilica to bask in the light for a moment, then crossed herself once more and continued out of the nave enroute to Cardinal Cosa's office.
Andrew forced himself to dictate notes, each word a reproach: "Time of death" - he looked at the wall clock - "3:32 A.M. . . ."
He dutifully recorded the volume of blood drawn from his own vein, the ...
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