The brotherhood kept the design secret, allegedly planning to reveal it only when they had amassed enough power to resurface and carry out their final goal. There is one chapter of Illuminati history that I have not yet explained. They were taken in by another secret society. The brotherhood of the Masons currently had over five million members worldwide, half of them residing in the United States, and over one million of them in Europe. The Masons fell victim of their own benevolence.
After harboring the fleeing scientists in the s, the Masons unknowingly became a front for the Illuminati. The Illuminati grew within their ranks, gradually taking over positions of power within the lodges. Then the Illuminati used the worldwide connection of Masonic lodges to spread their influence. They feared that if religion continued to promote pious myth as absolute fact, scientific progress would halt, and mankind would be doomed to an ignorant future of senseless holy wars.
Kohler was right. Holy wars were still making headlines. My God is better than your God. It seemed there was always close correlation between true believers and high body counts. Langdon gathered his thoughts and continued. The Illuminati took advantage of the infiltration and helped found banks, universities, and industry to finance their ultimate quest.
They called it their Luciferian Doctrine. The church claimed Lucifer was a reference to the devil, but the brotherhood insisted Lucifer was intended in its literal Latin meaning—bringer of light. Or Illuminator.
Langdon, please sit down. Kohler moved his wheelchair closer. He was also a friend. I need you to help me locate the Illuminati.
Despite appearances, it is extremely unlikely that this brand was put here by the Illuminati. There has been no evidence of their existence for over half a century, and most scholars agree the Illuminati have been defunct for many years. Kohler stared through the fog with a look somewhere between stupefaction and anger. The appearance of the Illuminati ambigram was astonishing.
Symbologists worldwide would be dazzled. Apparently a lot of people think this group is still active. He had always been annoyed by the plethora of conspiracy theories that circulated in modern pop culture.
What does this murder prove? He also was having trouble imagining where anyone could have turned up the Illuminati brand after years.
The Illuminati may have believed in the abolition of Christianity, but they wielded their power through political and financial means, not through terrorists acts. Furthermore, the Illuminati had a strict code of morality regarding who they saw as enemies. They held men of science in the highest regard.
There is no way they would have murdered a fellow scientist like Leonardo Vetra. For the love of God, Langdon groaned. He followed. Kohler was waiting for him in a small alcove at the end of the hallway. Langdon peered into the study and immediately felt his skin crawl. Holy mother of Jesus, he said to himself. He watched as images flashed before him—live feeds from hundreds of wireless video cameras that surveyed the sprawling complex. The images went by in an endless procession.
An ornate hallway. A private office. An industrial-size kitchen. As the pictures went by, the guard fought off a daydream. He was nearing the end of his shift, and yet he was still vigilant.
Service was an honor. Someday he would be granted his ultimate reward. As his thoughts drifted, an image before him registered alarm. Suddenly, with a reflexive jerk that startled even himself, his hand shot out and hit a button on the control panel.
The picture before him froze. His nerves tingling, he leaned toward the screen for a closer look. The reading on the monitor told him the image was being transmitted from camera 86—a camera that was supposed to be overlooking a hallway.
But the image before him was most definitely not a hallway. Kohler said nothing as he followed Langdon inside. Langdon scanned the room, not having the slightest idea what to make of it.
It contained the most peculiar mix of artifacts he had ever seen. On the far wall, dominating the decor, was an enormous wooden crucifix, which Langdon placed as fourteenth-century Spanish. Above the cruciform, suspended from the ceiling, was a metallic mobile of the orbiting planets. To the left was an oil painting of the Virgin Mary, and beside that was a laminated periodic table of elements.
Langdon moved into the room, looking around in astonishment. Talk about eclectic, Langdon thought. The warmth felt good, but something about the decor sent a new set of chills through his body.
He felt like he was witnessing the clash of two philosophical titans. Langdon turned. I thought you said he was a physicist. Men of science and religion are not unprecedented in history.
Leonardo was one of them. He considered himself a theo-physicist. Langdon thought it sounded impossibly oxymoronic. Leonardo was responsible for many of them. He called the field New Physics. Langdon studied the cover. Leonardo believed his research had the potential to convert millions to a more spiritual life. Last year he categorically proved the existence of an energy force that unites us all. He actually demonstrated that we are all physically connected. And the power of God shall unite us all.
Vetra actually found a way to demonstrate that particles are connected? Langdon suddenly found himself thinking of the antireligious Illuminati. Reluctantly, he forced himself to permit a momentary intellectual foray into the impossible. If the Illuminati were indeed still active, would they have killed Leonardo to stop him from bringing his religious message to the masses?
Langdon shook off the thought. The Illuminati are ancient history! All academics know that! Even here at CERN. They felt that using analytical physics to support religious principles was a treason against science. Ask yourself why the U. Christian Coalition is the most influential lobby against scientific progress in the world. The battle between science and religion is still raging, Mr.
It has moved from the battlefields to the boardrooms, but it is still raging. Just last week the Harvard School of Divinity had marched on the Biology Building, protesting the genetic engineering taking place in the graduate program. The chairman of the Bio Department, famed ornithologist Richard Aaronian, defended his curriculum by hanging a huge banner from his office window.
Kohler reached down into the array of electronics on his wheelchair. He slipped a beeper out of its holder and read the incoming message.
Vetra is arriving at the helipad right now. We will meet her there. I think it best she not come up here and see her father this way. It would be a shock no child deserved. Vetra to explain the project she and her father have been working on.
Leonardo told me he was working on something groundbreaking. That is all he said. He had become very secretive about the project. He had a private lab and demanded seclusion, which I gladly afforded him on account of his brilliance.
His work had been consuming huge amounts of electric power lately, but I refrained from questioning him. Langdon followed, not knowing what to expect. He ushered Langdon to join him. Look at his face? Langdon frowned. I thought you said something was stolen. Hesitantly, Langdon knelt down. Kohler held it there a moment. A single hazel eye stared lifelessly back at him. The other socket was tattered and empty. The sun helped dissolve the image of the empty eye socket emblazoned into his mind.
The electric wheelchair seemed to accelerate effortlessly. Vetra will be arriving any moment. Besides, there was the eye. The missing eye is proof. Cult specialists see desultory defacement from inexperienced fringe sects—zealots who commit random acts of terrorism—but the Illuminati have always been more deliberate. It serves no higher purpose. He turned.
Langdon, believe me, that missing eye does indeed serve a higher purpose. A chopper appeared, arching across the open valley toward them. It banked sharply, then slowed to a hover over a helipad painted on the grass. Somehow, he doubted it. As the skids touched down, a pilot jumped out and started unloading gear. There was a lot of it—duffels, vinyl wet bags, Serpent Eve - Cathedral - Forest Of Equilibrium (Cassette tanks, and crates of what appeared to be high-tech diving equipment.
Langdon was confused. She studies the interconnectivity of life systems. Einstein and tuna fish? He was starting to wonder if the X space plane had mistakenly dropped him off on the wrong planet. A moment later, Vittoria Vetra emerged from the fuselage.
Robert Langdon realized today was going to be a day of endless surprises. Descending from the chopper in her khaki shorts and white sleeveless top, Vittoria Vetra looked nothing like the bookish physicist he had expected. Lithe and graceful, she was tall with chestnut skin and long black hair that swirled in the backwind of the rotors.
Her face was unmistakably Italian—not overly beautiful, but possessing full, earthy features that even at twenty yards seemed to exude a raw sensuality. As the air currents buffeted her body, her clothes clung, accentuating her slender torso and small breasts. Langdon mused. The ancient Buddhist art of meditative stretching seemed an odd proficiency for the physicist daughter of a Catholic priest.
Langdon watched Vittoria approach. She had obviously been crying, her deep sable eyes filled with emotions Langdon could not place. Still, she moved toward them with fire and command. Her limbs were strong and toned, radiating the healthy luminescence of Mediterranean flesh that had enjoyed long hours in the sun.
When she spoke, her voice was smooth—a throaty, accented English. You would be better to remember him as he was. A group of scientists passing near the helipad waved happily. Then she turned to Kohler, her face now clouded with confusion. Including a thorough examination of his lab. Your father has told me only two things about your current project. And two, that it is not ready for public disclosure because it is still hazardous technology. Considering these two facts, I would prefer strangers not poke around inside his lab and either steal his work or kill themselves in the process and hold CERN liable.
Do I make myself clear? I need you to take us to your lab. What evidence? Kohler was dabbing his mouth again. He could hear her breathing slowly and deliberately, as if somehow trying to filter her grief. Langdon wanted to say something to her, offer his sympathy. He too had once felt the abrupt hollowness of unexpectedly losing a parent. He remembered the funeral mostly, rainy and gray. Two days after his twelfth birthday. The house was filled with gray-suited men from the office, men who squeezed his hand too hard when they shook it.
They were all mumbling words like cardiac and stress. It was the most beautiful thing Langdon had ever seen. A few days later, Langdon got a stool, retrieved the rose, and took it back to the store. His father never noticed it was gone. The ping of an elevator pulled Langdon back to the present.
Vittoria and Kohler were in front of him, boarding the lift. Langdon hesitated outside the open doors. He only used elevators when absolutely necessary. He preferred the more open spaces of stairwells. Wonderful, Langdon thought as he stepped across the cleft, feeling an icy wind churn up from the depths of the shaft. The doors closed, and the car began to descend. Langdon pictured the darkness of the empty shaft below them. He tried to block it out by staring at the numbered display of changing floors.
Oddly, the elevator showed only two stops. Langdon was vaguely familiar with the term. He had first heard it over dinner with some colleagues at Dunster House in Cambridge. A physicist friend of theirs, Bob Brownell, had arrived for dinner one night in a rage. One of the most important scientific projects of the century!
Two billion dollars into it and the Senate sacks the project! Damn Bible-Belt lobbyists! Fully accelerated particles circled the tube at overmiles per second. Colliding particles is the key to understanding the building blocks of the universe. So CERN has a particle accelerator? Langdon thought, as the elevator dropped.
A circular tube for smashing particles. He wondered why they had buried it underground. When the elevator thumped to a stop, Langdon was relieved to feel terra firma beneath his feet. But when the doors slid open, his relief evaporated. Robert Langdon found himself standing once again in a totally alien world. The passageway stretched out indefinitely in both directions, left and right. It was a smooth cement tunnel, wide enough to allow passage of an eighteen wheeler.
Brightly lit where they stood, the corridor turned pitch black farther down. A damp wind rustled out of the darkness—an unsettling reminder that they were now deep in the earth. Langdon could almost sense the weight of the dirt and stone now hanging above his head.
For an instant he was nine years old. Clenching his fists, he fought it off. Overhead the flourescents flickered on to light her path. The effect was unsettling, Langdon thought, as if the tunnel were alive. Langdon and Kohler followed, trailing a distance behind. The lights extinguished automatically behind them. Langdon eyed the tube, confused.
It was perfectly straight, about three feet in diameter, and extended horizontally the visible length of the tunnel before disappearing into the darkness. Looks more like a high-tech sewer, Langdon thought. The circumference of this tunnel is so large that the curve is imperceptible—like that of the earth.
This is a circle? He remembered the CERN driver saying something about a huge machine buried in the earth. It extends all the way into France before curving back here to this spot. Fully accelerated particles will circle the tube more than ten thousand times in a single second before they collide. The waiting technician broke a light sweat. Finally his radio clicked.
Somebody must have removed it. Hold on a second, will you? Huge portions of the complex were open to the public, and wireless cameras had gone missing before, usually stolen by visiting pranksters looking for souvenirs. But as soon as a camera left the facility and was out of range, the signal was lost, and the screen went blank. Perplexed, the technician gazed up at the monitor. A crystal clear image was still coming from camera If the camera was stolen, he wondered, why are we still getting a signal?
He knew, of course, there was only one explanation. The camera was still inside the complex, and someone had simply moved it. But who? And why? He studied the Album) a long moment. Finally he picked up his walkie-talkie. Any cupboards or dark alcoves? Thanks for your help. Considering the small size of the video camera and the fact that it was wireless, the technician knew that camera 86 could be transmitting from just about anywhere within the heavily guarded compound—a densely packed collection of thirty-two separate buildings covering a half-mile radius.
The only clue was that the camera seemed to have been placed somewhere dark. The complex contained endless dark locations—maintenance closets, heating ducts, gardening sheds, bedroom wardrobes, even a labyrinth of underground tunnels. Camera 86 could take weeks to locate. The technician gazed up at the image the lost camera was transmitting. It was a stationary object.
A modern-looking device like nothing the technician had ever seen. He studied the blinking electronic display at its base.
Although the guard had undergone rigorous training preparing him for tense situations, he still sensed his pulse rising. He told himself not to panic. There had to be an explanation. The object appeared too small to be of significant danger. Then again, its presence inside the complex was troubling. Very troubling, indeed. Today of all days, he thought.
Security was always a top priority for his employer, but today, more than any other day in the past twelve years, security was of the utmost importance. The technician stared at the object for a long time and sensed the rumblings of a distant gathering storm.
Then, sweating, he dialed his superior. She was eight years old, living where she always had, Orfanotrofio di Siena, a Catholic orphanage near Florence, deserted by parents she never knew. It was raining that day. The nuns had called for her twice to come to dinner, but as always she pretended not to hear.
She lay outside in the courtyard, staring up at the raindrops. The nuns called again, threatening that pneumonia might make an insufferably headstrong child a lot less curious about nature. She was soaked to the bone when the young priest came out to get her. He was new there. Vittoria waited for him to grab her and drag her back inside. Instead, to her wonder, he lay down beside her, soaking his robes in a puddle. Vittoria scowled. I already know!
Everything falls! Not just rain! Everything does fall. It must be gravity. Gravity answers a lot of questions. Leonardo and Vittoria became unlikely best friends in the lonely world of nuns and regulations.
Vittoria made Leonardo laugh, and he took her under his wing, teaching her that beautiful things like rainbows and the rivers had many explanations.
He told her about light, planets, stars, Serpent Eve - Cathedral - Forest Of Equilibrium (Cassette all of nature through the eyes of both God and science.
Leonardo protected her like a daughter. Vittoria was happy too. She had never known the joy of having a father. When every other adult answered her questions with a slap on the wrist, Leonardo spent hours showing her books.
He even asked what her ideas were. Vittoria prayed Leonardo would stay with her forever. Then one day, her worst nightmare came true. Father Leonardo told her he was leaving the orphanage. Which is why I want to study his divine rules. The laws of physics are the canvas God laid down on which to paint his masterpiece. But Father Leonardo had some other news. He told Vittoria he had spoken to his superiors, and they said it was okay if Father Leonardo adopted her. Father Leonardo told her.
Album) hugged him for five minutes, crying tears of joy. Five days before her ninth birthday, Vittoria moved to Geneva. She attended Geneva International School during the day and learned from her father at night. Vittoria and Leonardo relocated to a wonderland the likes of which the young Vittoria had never imagined. Normally she existed in a state of deep calm, in harmony with the world around her. But now, very suddenly, nothing made sense. The last three hours had been a blur.
It had been 10 A. Your father has been murdered. Come home immediately. Now she had returned home. But home to what? CERN, her world since she was twelve, seemed suddenly foreign. Her father, the man who had made it magical, was gone. The questions circled faster and faster. Who killed her father? Why was Kohler insisting on seeing the lab?
Nobody knew what we were working on! And even if someone found out, why would they kill him? She had pictured this moment much differently. Vittoria felt a lump in her throat. My father and I were supposed to share this moment together.
But here she was alone. No colleagues. No happy faces. Just an American stranger and Maximilian Kohler. Maximilian Kohler. Even as a child, Vittoria had disliked the man. Kohler pursued science for its immaculate logic.
And yet oddly there had always seemed to be an unspoken respect between the two men. Genius, someone had once explained to her, accepts genius unconditionally. Genius, she thought. My father. Langdon felt like he was entering some kind of underground insane asylum. Lining the corridor were dozens of framed, black-and-white images.
Although Langdon had made a career of studying images, these were entirely alien to him. They looked like chaotic negatives of random streaks and spirals. Modern art? Jackson Pollock on amphetamines? Pure energy—no mass at all. It may well be the smallest building block in nature. Matter is nothing but trapped energy. Langdon cocked his head. Sounds pretty Zen. Open the door. Then, pulling a deep breath, she walked to the mechanism on the wall. Langdon was in no way prepared for what happened next.
Vittoria stepped up to the device and carefully aligned her right eye with a protruding lens that looked like a telescope. Then she pressed a button. Inside the machine, something clicked. A shaft of light oscillated back and forth, scanning her eyeball like a copy machine. Authorized for two retina patterns only. The image of Leonardo Vetra came back in grisly detail—the bloody face, the solitary hazel eye staring back, and the empty eye socket. He tried to reject the obvious truth, but then he saw it.
Dried blood. Vittoria, thankfully, did not notice. The caller told him. The brotherhood is legendary. The most dangerous enemy is that which no one fears. Our roots infiltrate everything you see. They are invulnerable. A single act of treachery and proof. The killer became a believer. The brotherhood endures, he thought. Tonight they will surface to reveal their power. As he made his way through the streets, his black eyes gleamed with foreboding.
One of the most covert and feared fraternities ever to walk the earth had called on him for service. They have chosen wisely, he thought. His reputation for secrecy was exceeded only by that of his deadliness. So far, he had served them nobly. He had made his kill and delivered the item to Janus as requested. The placement. The killer wondered how Janus could possibly handle such a staggering task.
The man obviously had connections on the inside. Janus, the killer thought. A code name, obviously. Was it a reference, he wondered, to the Roman two- faced god. Not that it made any difference. Janus wielded unfathomable power. He had proven that beyond a doubt. As the killer walked, he imagined his ancestors smiling down on him. Today he was fighting their battle, he was fighting the same enemy they had fought for ages, as far back as the eleventh century.
His ancestors had formed a small but deadly army to defend themselves. The army became famous across the land as protectors—skilled executioners who wandered the countryside slaughtering any of the enemy they could find.
They were renowned not only for their brutal killings, but also for celebrating their slayings by plunging themselves into drug-induced stupors. Their drug of choice was a potent intoxicant they called hashish.
The word was still used today, even in modern English. It was now pronounced assassin. A crisp breeze rustled the lapels of his tweed jacket. The open space felt wonderful. He squinted out at the lush green valley rising to snowcapped peaks all around them. Langdon checked his watch. It read A. We were at sixty thousand feet. Lucky we only did a puddle jump. All things considered, the flight had been remarkably ordinary. A handful of technicians scurried onto the runway to tend to the X The pilot escorted Langdon to a black Peugeot sedan in a parking area beside the control tower.
Moments later they were speeding down a paved road that stretched out across the valley floor. A faint cluster of buildings rose in the distance. Outside, the grassy plains tore by in a blur.
Langdon watched in disbelief as the pilot pushed the speedometer up around kilometers an hour—over miles per hour. What is it with this guy and speed? Why not make it three and get us there alive?
The car raced on. A woman started singing. His female colleagues often ribbed him that his collection of museum-quality artifacts was nothing more than a transparent attempt to fill an empty home, a home they insisted would benefit greatly from the presence of a woman. Langdon always laughed it off, reminding them he already had three loves in his life—symbology, water polo, and bachelorhood—the latter being a freedom that enabled him to travel the world, sleep as late as he wanted, and enjoy quiet nights at home with a brandy and a good book.
Without warning the pilot jammed on the brakes. The car skidded to a stop outside a reinforced sentry booth. Langdon read the sign before them. He suddenly felt a wave of panic, realizing where he was. The sentry ran it through an electronic authentication device.
The machine flashed green. He turned and checked a computer printout, verifying it against the data on his computer screen. Then he returned to the window. Looming before them was a rectangular, ultramodern structure of glass and steel. He had always had a fond love of architecture. Physics is the religion around here. Quarks and mesons? No border control? Mach 15 jets? Who the hell ARE these guys?
The driver did not answer. The director will meet you at this entrance. He looked to be in his early sixties. Even at a distance his eyes looked lifeless—like two gray stones. The driver looked up. The man in the wheelchair accelerated toward Langdon and offered a clammy hand. We spoke on the phone. My name is Maximilian Kohler. It was a title more of fear than reverence for the figure who ruled over his dominion from a wheelchair throne. Although few knew him personally, the horrific story of how he had been crippled was lore at CERN, and there were few there who blamed him for his bitterness.
The wheelchair was like none Langdon had ever seen—equipped with a bank of electronics including a multiline phone, a paging system, computer screen, even a small, detachable video camera. The Glass Cathedral, Langdon mused, gazing upward toward heaven.
Overhead, the bluish glass roof shimmered in the afternoon sun, casting rays of geometric patterns in the air and giving the room a sense of grandeur. Angular shadows fell like veins across the white tiled walls and down to the marble floors. The air smelled clean, sterile. A handful of scientists moved briskly about, their footsteps echoing in the resonant space. His accent was rigid and precise, like his stern features. Kohler coughed and wiped his mouth on a white handkerchief as he fixed his dead gray eyes on Langdon.
Langdon followed past what seemed to be countless hallways branching off the main atrium. Every hallway was alive with activity.
The scientists who saw Kohler seemed to stare in surprise, eyeing Langdon as if wondering who he must be to command such company. They see us as nothing but a quaint shopping district—an odd perception if you consider the nationalities of men like Einstein, Galileo, and Newton. He pulled the fax from his pocket. Not here.
I am taking you to him now. Kohler took a sharp left and entered a wide hallway adorned with awards and commendations. A particularly large plaque dominated the entry. Langdon slowed to read the engraved bronze as they passed. Langdon had always thought of the Web as an American invention. Then again, his knowledge was limited to the site for his own book and the occasional on-line exploration of the Louvre or El Prado on his old Macintosh.
It enabled scientists from different departments to share daily findings with one another. Of course, the entire world is under the impression the Web is U. CERN is far greater than a global connection of computers. Our scientists produce miracles almost daily. Miracles were left for the School of Divinity. Do you not believe in miracles? Particularly those that take place in science labs. I was simply trying to speak your language. How simple of me. One does not need to have cancer to analyze its symptoms.
As they moved down the hallway, Kohler gave an accepting nod. As the Album) hurried on, Langdon began to sense a deep rumbling up ahead.
The noise got more and more pronounced with every step, reverberating through the walls. It seemed to be coming from the end of the hallway in front of them. He felt like they were approaching an active volcano. He offered no other explanation. He was exhausted, and Maximilian Kohler seemed disinterested in winning any hospitality awards.
Langdon reminded himself why he was here. He assumed somewhere in this colossal facility was a body. They rounded the bend, and a viewing gallery appeared on the right. Four thick-paned portals were embedded in a curved wall, like windows in a submarine. Langdon stopped and looked through one of the holes. Professor Robert Langdon had seen some strange things in his life, but this was the strangest. He blinked a few times, wondering if he was hallucinating. He was staring into an enormous circular chamber.
Inside the chamber, floating as though weightless, were people. Three of them. One waved and did a somersault in midair. My God, he thought. The floor of the room was a mesh grid, like a giant sheet of chicken wire. Visible beneath the grid was the metallic blur of a huge propeller. For stress relief.
One of the free fallers, an obese woman, maneuvered toward the window. She was being buffeted by the air currents but grinned and flashed Langdon the thumbs-up sign. Langdon smiled weakly and returned the gesture, wondering if she knew it was the ancient phallic symbol for masculine virility. The heavyset woman, Langdon noticed, was the only one wearing what appeared to be a miniature parachute.
The swathe of fabric billowed over her like a toy. He never suspected that later that night, in a country hundreds of miles away, the information would save his life. The scene before him looked like an Ivy League campus.
A grassy slope cascaded downward onto an expansive lowlands where clusters of sugar maples dotted quadrangles bordered by brick dormitories and footpaths. Scholarly looking individuals with stacks of books hustled in and out of buildings. Our physicists represent over five hundred universities and sixty nationalities. The universal language of science. He dutifully followed Kohler down the path. Halfway to the bottom, a young man jogged by. Langdon looked after him, mystified. Where did we come from?
What are we made of? The questions seem spiritual. Langdon, all questions were once spiritual. The rising and setting of the sun was once attributed to Helios and a flaming chariot. Earthquakes and tidal waves were the wrath of Poseidon. Science has now proven those gods to be false idols. Soon all Gods will be proven to be false idols. Science has now provided answers to almost every question man can ask.
There are only a few questions left, and they are the esoteric ones. Where do we come from? What are we doing here? What is the meaning of life and the universe? These are questions we are answering. As they walked, a Frisbee sailed overhead and skidded to a stop directly in front of them. Kohler ignored it and kept going.
A voice called out from across the quad. Langdon picked up the Frisbee and expertly threw it back. The old man caught it on one finger and bounced it a few times before whipping it over his shoulder to his partner.
My lucky day. It took Langdon and Kohler three more minutes to reach their destination—a large, well-kept dormitory sitting in a grove of aspens. Compared to the other dorms, this structure seemed luxurious. Imaginative title, Langdon thought. It had a red brick facade, an ornate balustrade, and sat framed by sculpted symmetrical hedges. As the two men ascended the stone path toward the entry, they passed under a gateway formed by a pair of marble columns.
Someone had put a sticky-note on one of them. Langdon mused, eyeing the column and chuckling to himself. Ionic columns are uniform in width. A common mistake. Ionic means containing ions—electrically charged particles. Most objects contain them.
Langdon was still feeling stupid when he stepped from the elevator on the top floor of Building C. He followed Kohler down a well-appointed corridor. The decor was unexpected—traditional colonial French—a cherry divan, porcelain floor vase, and scrolled woodwork. Evidently, Langdon thought. One of your upper-level employees?
I came up here to locate him and found him dead in his living room. His stomach had never been particularly stalwart. Kohler led the way to the far end of the hallway. There was a single door. Langdon eyed the lone oak door before them. He was one of the most brilliant scientists of our time. His death is a profound loss for science. But as quickly as it had come, it was gone. Kohler reached in his pocket and began sifting through a large key ring.
An odd thought suddenly occurred to Langdon. The building seemed deserted. The lack of activity was hardly what he expected considering they were about to enter a murder scene. You sent me a fax of a homicide. You must have called the police. She is also a physicist here at CERN. She and her father share a lab. They are partners. Vetra has been away this week doing field research.
Therefore, it will wait until Ms. Vetra has arrived. I feel I owe her at least that modicum of discretion. As the door swung open, a blast of icy air hissed into the hall and hit Langdon in the face. He was gazing across the threshold of an alien world. The flat before him was immersed in a thick, white fog.
The mist swirled in smoky vortexes around the furniture and shrouded the room in opaque haze. And I forgot my magic slippers. The late Leonardo Vetra lay on his back, stripped naked, his skin bluish-gray. His neck bones were jutting out where they had been broken, and his head was twisted completely backward, pointing the wrong way. His face was out of view, pressed against the floor. The man lay in a frozen puddle of his own urine, the hair around his shriveled genitals spidered with frost.
Although Langdon had stared at the symmetrical wound a dozen times on the fax, the burn was infinitely more commanding in real life. The raised, broiled flesh was perfectly delineated. Langdon wondered if the intense chill now raking through his body was the air-conditioning or his utter amazement with the significance of what he was now staring at.
His heart pounded as he circled the body, reading the word upside down, reaffirming the genius of the symmetry. The symbol seemed even less conceivable now that he was staring at it.
He was in another world. The gears turned. Langdon did not look up. His disposition now intensified, his focus total. As a scientist I have come to learn that information is only as valuable as its source. Your credentials seemed authentic. Kohler said nothing more. He simply stared, apparently waiting for Langdon to shed some light on the scene before them.
Langdon looked up, glancing around the frozen flat. The Illuminati history was by no means a simple one. He gazed again at the brand, feeling a renewed sense of awe. Although accounts of the Illuminati emblem were legendary in modern symbology, no academic had ever actually seen it. And although ambigrams were common in symbology—swastikas, yin yang, Jewish stars, simple crosses—the idea that a word could be crafted into an ambigram seemed utterly impossible.
Yes, Langdon thought, who indeed? He began his tale. Religion has always persecuted science. But in the s, a group of men in Rome fought back against the church. Only through rites of extreme secrecy did the scientists remain safe. Word spread through the academic underground, and the Illuminati brotherhood grew to include academics from all over Europe. The scientists met regularly in Rome at an ultrasecret lair they called the Church of Illumination.
Although his data were incontrovertible, the astronomer was severely punished for implying that God had placed mankind somewhere other than at the center of His universe.
Kohler looked up. Galileo was an Illuminatus. And he was also a devout Catholic. He held that science and religion were not enemies, but rather allies—two different languages telling the same story, a story of symmetry and balance.
Kohler simply sat in his wheelchair and stared. So the church tried Galileo as a heretic, found him guilty, and put him under permanent house arrest. I am quite aware of scientific history, Mr. But this was all centuries ago. What does it have to do with Leonardo Vetra?
Langdon cut to the chase. Mistakes were made, and the church discovered the identities of four members, whom they captured and interrogated. But the four scientists revealed nothing. On the chest. With the symbol of a cross. With the church closing in, the remaining Illuminati fled Italy. Over the years, the Illuminati began absorbing new members. A new Illuminati emerged. A darker Illuminati.
A deeply anti-Christian Illuminati. They grew very powerful, employing mysterious rites, deadly secrecy, vowing someday to rise again and take revenge on the Catholic Church. Their power grew to the point where the church considered them the single most dangerous anti-Christian force on earth.
The Vatican denounced the brotherhood as Shaitan. The church chose Islam for the name because it was a language they considered dirty.
The Hassassin strode quickly now, his black eyes filling with anticipation. Phase two begins shortly. The Hassassin smirked. He had been awake all night, but sleep was the last thing on his mind. Sleep was for the weak. He was a warrior like his ancestors before him, and his people never slept once a battle had begun. This battle had most definitely begun, and he had been given the honor of spilling first blood. Now he had two hours to celebrate his glory before going back to work.
There are far better ways to relax. An appetite for hedonistic pleasure was something bred into him by his ancestors. His ascendants had indulged in hashish, but he preferred a different kind of gratification. He took pride in his body—a well- tuned, lethal machine, which, despite his heritage, he refused to pollute with narcotics. He had developed a more nourishing addiction than drugs. Feeling a familiar anticipation swelling within him, the Hassassin moved faster down the alley. He arrived at the nondescript door and rang the bell.
A view slit in the door opened, and two soft brown eyes studied him appraisingly. Then the door swung open. She ushered him into an impeccably furnished sitting room where the lights were low. The air was laced with expensive perfume and musk. The Hassassin smiled. As he sat on the plush divan and positioned the photo album on his lap, he felt a carnal hunger stir. Although his people did not celebrate Christmas, he imagined that this is what it must feel like to be a Christian child, sitting before a stack of Christmas presents, about to discover the miracles inside.
He opened the album and examined the photos. A lifetime of sexual fantasies stared back at him. An Italian goddess. A young Sophia Loren.
A Japanese geisha. No doubt skilled. A stunning black vision. He examined the entire album twice and made his choice. He pressed a button on the table beside him. A minute later the woman who had greeted him reappeared. He indicated his selection. She smiled. She waited a few minutes and then led him up a winding marble staircase to a luxurious hallway.
I am a connoisseur. The Hassassin padded the length of the hallway like a panther anticipating a long overdue meal. When he reached the doorway he smiled to himself. It was already ajar. He pushed, and the door swung noiselessly open. When he saw his selection, he knew he had chosen well.
She was exactly as he had requested. He crossed the room and ran a dark finger across her ivory abdomen. I killed last night, he thought. You are my reward. But not in the modern sense. The rumors of satanic black-magic animal sacrifices and the pentagram ritual were nothing but lies spread by the church as a smear campaign against their adversaries.
Over time, opponents of the church, wanting to emulate the Illuminati, began believing the lies and acting them out. Thus, modern Satanism was born. Kohler grunted abruptly. I want to know how this symbol got here. The brotherhood kept the design secret, allegedly planning to reveal it only when they had amassed enough power to resurface and carry out their final goal.
There is one chapter of Illuminati history that I have not yet explained. They were taken in by another secret society. The brotherhood of the Masons currently had over five million members worldwide, Serpent Eve - Cathedral - Forest Of Equilibrium (Cassette of them residing in the United States, and over one million of them in Europe. The Masons fell victim of their own benevolence. After harboring the fleeing scientists in the s, the Masons unknowingly became a front for the Illuminati.
The Illuminati grew within their ranks, gradually taking over positions of power within the lodges. Then the Illuminati used the worldwide connection of Masonic lodges to spread their influence.
They feared that if religion continued to promote pious myth as absolute fact, scientific progress would halt, and mankind would be doomed to an ignorant future of senseless holy wars.
Kohler was right. Holy wars were still making headlines. My God is better than your God. It seemed there was always close correlation between true believers and high body counts. Langdon gathered his thoughts and continued. The Illuminati took advantage of the infiltration and helped found banks, universities, and industry to finance their ultimate quest.
They called it their Luciferian Doctrine. The church claimed Lucifer was a reference to the devil, but the brotherhood insisted Lucifer was intended in its literal Latin meaning—bringer of light.
Or Illuminator. Langdon, please sit down. Kohler moved his wheelchair closer. He was also a friend. I need you to help me locate the Illuminati. Despite appearances, it is extremely unlikely that this brand was put here by the Illuminati. There has been no evidence of their existence for over half a century, and most scholars agree the Illuminati have been defunct for many years.
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