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Il Proceso Galileano

Langdon let out a low whistle, now realizing why Galileo had his own vault. "The Galileo Affair," he marveled, peering through the glass at the dark outlines of the stacks. "The longest and most expensive legal proceeding in Vatican history. Fourteen years and six hundred million lire. It’s all here."

"Have a few legal documents."

"I guess lawyers haven’t evolved much over the centuries."

"Neither have sharks."

Langdon strode to a large yellow button on the side of the vault. He pressed it, and a bank of overhead lights hummed on inside. The lights were deep red, turning the cube into a glowing crimson cell… a maze of towering shelves.

"My God," Vittoria said, looking spooked. "Are we tanning or working?"

"Parchment and vellum fades, so vault lighting is always done with dark lights."

"You could go mad in here."

Or worse, Langdon thought, moving toward the vault’s sole entrance. "A quick word of warning. Oxygen is an oxidant, so hermetic vaults contain very little of it. It’s a partial vacuum inside. Your breathing will feel strained."

"Hey, if old cardinals can survive it."

True, Langdon thought. May we be as lucky.

The vault entrance was a single electronic revolving door. Langdon noted the common arrangement of four access buttons on the door’s inner shaft, one accessible from each compartment. When a button was pressed, the motorized door would kick into gear and make the conventional half rotation before grinding to a halt–a standard procedure to preserve the integrity of the inner atmosphere.

"After I’m in," Langdon said, "just press the button and follow me through. There’s only eight percent humidity inside, so be prepared to feel some dry mouth."

Langdon stepped into the rotating compartment and pressed the button. The door buzzed loudly and began to rotate. As he followed its motion, Langdon prepared his body for the physical shock that always accompanied the first few seconds in a hermetic vault. Entering a sealed archive was like going from sea level to 20,000 feet in an instant. Nausea and light‑headedness were not uncommon. Double vision, double over, he reminded himself, quoting the archivist’s mantra. Langdon felt his ears pop. There was a hiss of air, and the door spun to a stop.

He was in.

Langdon’s first realization was that the air inside was thinner than he had anticipated. The Vatican, it seemed, took their archives a bit more seriously than most. Langdon fought the gag reflex and relaxed his chest while his pulmonary capillaries dilated. The tightness passed quickly. Enter the Dolphin, he mused, gratified his fifty laps a day were good for something. Breathing more normally now, he looked around the vault. Despite the transparent outer walls, he felt a familiar anxiety. I’m in a box, he thought. A blood red box.

The door buzzed behind him, and Langdon turned to watch Vittoria enter. When she arrived inside, her eyes immediately began watering, and she started breathing heavily.

"Give it a minute," Langdon said. "If you get light‑headed, bend over."

"I… feel…" Vittoria choked, "like I’m… scuba diving… with the wrong… mixture."

Langdon waited for her to acclimatize. He knew she would be fine. Vittoria Vetra was obviously in terrific shape, nothing like the doddering ancient Radcliffe alumnae Langdon had once squired through Widener Library’s hermetic vault. The tour had ended with Langdon giving mouth‑to‑mouth to an old woman who’d almost aspirated her false teeth.

"Feeling better?" he asked.

Vittoria nodded.

"I rode your damn space plane, so I thought I owed you."

This brought a smile. "Touché."

Langdon reached into the box beside the door and extracted some white cotton gloves.

"Formal affair?" Vittoria asked.

"Finger acid. We can’t handle the documents without them. You’ll need a pair."

Vittoria donned some gloves. "How long do we have?"

Langdon checked his Mickey Mouse watch. "It’s just past seven."

"We have to find this thing within the hour."

"Actually," Langdon said, "we don’t have that kind of time." He pointed overhead to a filtered duct. "Normally the curator would turn on a reoxygenation system when someone is inside the vault. Not today. Twenty minutes, we’ll both be sucking wind."

Vittoria blanched noticeably in the reddish glow.

Langdon smiled and smoothed his gloves. "Substantiate or suffocate, Ms. Vetra. Mickey’s ticking."




BBC reporter Gunther Glick stared at the cell phone in his hand for ten seconds before he finally hung up.

Chinita Macri studied him from the back of the van. "What happened? Who was that?"

Glick turned, feeling like a child who had just received a Christmas gift he feared was not really for him. "I just got a tip. Something’s going on inside the Vatican."

"It’s called conclave," Chinita said. "Helluva tip."

"No, something else." Something big. He wondered if the story the caller had just told him could possibly be true. Glick felt ashamed when he realized he was praying it was. "What if I told you four cardinals have been kidnapped and are going to be murdered at different churches tonight."

"I’d say you’re being hazed by someone at the office with a sick sense of humor."

"What if I told you we were going to be given the exact location of the first murder?"

"I’d want to know who the hell you just talked to."

"He didn’t say."

"Perhaps because he’s full of shit?"

Glick had come to expect Macri’s cynicism, but what she was forgetting was that liars and lunatics had been Glick’s business for almost a decade at the British Tattler. This caller had been neither. This man had been coldly sane. Logical. I will call you just before eight, the man had said, and tell you where the first killing will occur. The images you record will make you famous. When Glick had demanded why the caller was giving him this information, the answer had been as icy as the man’s Mideastern accent. The media is the right arm of anarchy.

"He told me something else too," Glick said.

"What? That Elvis Presley was just elected Pope?"

"Dial into the BBC database, will you?" Glick’s adrenaline was pumping now. "I want to see what other stories we’ve run on these guys."

"What guys?"

"Indulge me."

Macri sighed and pulled up the connection to the BBC database. "This’ll take a minute."

Glick’s mind was swimming. "The caller was very intent to know if I had a cameraman."


"And if we could transmit live."

"One point five three seven megahertz. What is this about?" The database beeped. "Okay, we’re in. Who is it you’re looking for?"

Glick gave her the keyword.

Macri turned and stared. "I sure as hell hope you’re kidding."




The internal organization of Archival Vault 10 was not as intuitive as Langdon had hoped, and the Diagramma manuscript did not appear to be located with other similar Galilean publications. Without access to the computerized Biblion and a reference locator, Langdon and Vittoria were stuck.

"You’re sure Diagramma is in here?" Vittoria asked.

"Positive. It’s a confirmed listing in both the Uficcio della Propaganda delle Fede–"

"Fine. As long as you’re sure." She headed left, while he went right.

Langdon began his manual search. He needed every bit of self‑restraint not to stop and read every treasure he passed. The collection was staggering. The AssayerThe Starry MessengerThe Sunspot LettersLetter to the Grand Duchess ChristinaApologia pro Galileo… On and on.

It was Vittoria who finally struck gold near the back of the vault. Her throaty voice called out, "Diagramma della Verità!"

Langdon dashed through the crimson haze to join her. "Where?"

Vittoria pointed, and Langdon immediately realized why they had not found it earlier. The manuscript was in a folio bin, not on the shelves. Folio bins were a common means of storing unbound pages. The label on the front of the container left no doubt about the contents.


Diagramma Della Verità

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 770

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Curatore: Padre Jaqui Tomaso | Galileo Galilei, 1639 1 page
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