He knows I'm in London? What else does Fache know? Sophie heard what sounded like drilling or machinery in the background. She also heard an odd clicking on the line. "Are you tracing this call, Captain?"
Fache's voice was firm now. "You and I need to cooperate, Agent Neveu. We both have a lot to lose here. This is damage control. I made errors in judgment last night, and if those errors result in the deaths of an American professor and a DCPJ cryptologist, my career will be over. I've been trying to pull you back into safety for the last several hours."
A warm wind was now pushing through the station as a train approached with a low rumble. Sophie had every intention of being on it. Langdon apparently had the same idea; he was gathering himself together and moving toward her now.
"The man you want is Remy Legaludec," Sophie said. "He is Teabing's servant. He just kidnapped Teabing inside the Temple Church and - "
"Agent Neveu!" Fache bellowed as the train thundered into the station. "This is not something to discuss on an open line. You and Langdon will come in now. For your own well-being! That is a direct order!"
Sophie hung up and dashed with Langdon onto the train.
The immaculate cabin of Teabing's Hawker was now covered with steel shavings and smelled of compressed air and propane. Bezu Fache had sent everyone away and sat alone with his drink and the heavy wooden box found in Teabing's safe.
Running his finger across the inlaid Rose, he lifted the ornate lid. Inside he found a stone cylinder with lettered dials. The five dials were arranged to spell SOFIA. Fache stared at the word a long moment and then lifted the cylinder from its padded resting place and examined every inch. Then, pulling slowly on the ends, Fache slid off one of the end caps. The cylinder was empty.
Fache set it back in the box and gazed absently out the jet's window at the hangar, pondering his brief conversation with Sophie, as well as the information he'd received from PTS in Chateau Villette. The sound of his phone shook him from his daydream.
It was the DCPJ switchboard. The dispatcher was apologetic. The president of the Depository Bank of Zurich had been calling repeatedly, and although he had been told several times that the captain was in London on business, he just kept calling. Begrudgingly Fache told the operator to forward the call.
"Monsieur Vernet," Fache said, before the man could even speak," I am sorry I did not call you earlier. I have been busy. As promised, the name of your bank has not appeared in the media. So what precisely is your concern?"
Vernet's voice was anxious as he told Fache how Langdon and Sophie had extracted a small wooden box from the bank and then persuaded Vernet to help them escape. "Then when I heard on the radio that they were criminals," Vernet said, "I pulled over and demanded the box back, but they attacked me and stole the truck."
"You are concerned for a wooden box," Fache said, eyeing the Rose inlay on the cover and again gently opening the lid to reveal the white cylinder. "Can you tell me what was in the box?"
"The contents are immaterial," Vernet fired back. "I am concerned with the reputation of my bank. We have never had a robbery. Ever.It will ruin us if I cannot recover this property on behalf of my client."
"You said Agent Neveu and Robert Langdon had a password and a key. What makes you say they stole the box?"
"They murdered people tonight. Including Sophie Neveu's grandfather. The key and password were obviously ill-gotten."
"Mr. Vernet, my men have done some checking into your background and your interests. You are obviously a man of great culture and refinement. I would imagine you are a man of honor, as well. As am I. That said, I give you my word as commanding officer of the Police Judiciaire that your box, along with your bank's reputation, are in the safest of hands."
High in the hayloft at Chateau Villette, Collet stared at the computer monitor in amazement. "This system is eavesdropping on all these locations?"
"Yes," the agent said. "It looks like data has been collected for over a year now." Collet read the list again, speechless.
COLBERT SOSTAQUE - Chairman of the Conseil Constitutionnel
JEAN CHAFFeE - Curator, Musee du Jeu de Paume
EDOUARD DESROCHERS - Senior Archivist, Mitterrand Library
JACQUES SAUNIeRE - Curator, Musee du Louvre
MICHEL BRETON - Head of DAS (French Intelligence)
The agent pointed to the screen. "Number four is of obvious concern."
Collet nodded blankly. He had noticed it immediately. Jacques Sauniere was being bugged.He looked at the rest of the list again. How could anyone possibly manage to bug these prominent people?" Have you heard any of the audio files?"
"A few. Here's one of the most recent." The agent clicked a few computer keys. The speakers crackled to life. "Capitaine, un agent du Departement de Cryptographie est arrive."
Collet could not believe his ears. "That's me! That's my voice!" He recalled sitting at Sauniere's desk and radioing Fache in the Grand Gallery to alert him of Sophie Neveu's arrival.
The agent nodded. "A lot of our Louvre investigation tonight would have been audible if someone had been interested."
"Have you sent anyone in to sweep for the bug?"
"No need. I know exactly where it is." The agent went to a pile of old notes and blueprints on the worktable. He selected a page and handed it to Collet. "Look familiar?"
Collet was amazed. He was holding a photocopy of an ancient schematic diagram, which depicted a rudimentary machine. He was unable to read the handwritten Italian labels, and yet he knew what he was looking at. A model for a fully articulated medieval French knight.
The knight sitting on Sauniere's desk!
Collet's eyes moved to the margins, where someone had scribbled notes on the photocopy in red felt-tipped marker. The notes were in French and appeared to be ideas outlining how best to insert a listening device into the knight.
Silas sat in the passenger seat of the parked Jaguar limousine near the Temple Church. His hands felt damp on the keystone as he waited for Remy to finish tying and gagging Teabing in back with the rope they had found in the trunk.
Finally, Remy climbed out of the rear of the limo, walked around, and slid into the driver's seat beside Silas.
"Secure?" Silas asked.
Remy chuckled, shaking off the rain and glancing over his shoulder through the open partition at the crumpled form of Leigh Teabing, who was barely visible in the shadows in the rear. "He's not going anywhere."
Silas could hear Teabing's muffled cries and realized Remy had used some of the old duct tape to gag him.
"Ferme ta gueule!" Remy shouted over his shoulder at Teabing. Reaching to a control panel on the elaborate dash, Remy pressed a button. An opaque partition raised behind them, sealing off the back. Teabing disappeared, and his voice was silenced. Remy glanced at Silas. "I've been listening to his miserable whimpering long enough."
Minutes later, as the Jaguar stretch limo powered through the streets, Silas's cell phone rang. TheTeacher.He answered excitedly. "Hello?"
"Silas," the Teacher's familiar French accent said, "I am relieved to hear your voice. This means you are safe."
Silas was equally comforted to hear the Teacher. It had been hours, and the operation had veered wildly off course. Now, at last, it seemed to be back on track. "I have the keystone."
"This is superb news," the Teacher told him. "Is Remy with you?"
Silas was surprised to hear the Teacher use Remy's name. "Yes. Remy freed me." "As I ordered him to do. I am only sorry you had to endure captivity for so long." "Physical discomfort has no meaning. The important thing is that the keystone is ours." "Yes. I need it delivered to me at once. Time is of the essence." Silas was eager to meet the Teacher face-to-face at last. "Yes, sir, I would be honored." "Silas, I would like Remy to bring it to me." Remy? Silas was crestfallen. After everything Silas had done for the Teacher, he had believed hewould be the one to hand over the prize. The Teacher favors Remy?
"I sense your disappointment," the Teacher said," which tells me you do not understand my meaning." He lowered his voice to a whisper. "You must believe that I would much prefer to receive the keystone from you - a man of God rather than a criminal - but Remy must be dealt with. He disobeyed my orders and made a grave mistake that has put our entire mission at risk."
Silas felt a chill and glanced over at Remy. Kidnapping Teabing had not been part of the plan, and deciding what to do with him posed a new problem.
"You and I are men of God," the Teacher whispered. "We cannot be deterred from our goal." There was an ominous pause on the line. "For this reason alone, I will ask Remy to bring me the keystone. Do you understand?"
Silas sensed anger in the Teacher's voice and was surprised the man was not more understanding. Showing his face could not be avoided, Silas thought. Remy did what he had to do.He saved the keystone. "I understand," Silas managed.
"Good. For your own safety, you need to get off the street immediately. The police will be looking for the limousine soon, and I do not want you caught. Opus Dei has a residence in London, no?" "Of course."
"And you are welcome there?" "As a brother." "Then go there and stay out of sight. I will call you the moment I am in possession of the keystone and have attended to my current problem."