The Staff of Moses – Chapter 11

Breakfast

Rais Karim called early the next morning as Oliver and Diana sat together on the balcony of Diana’s room eating breakfast. Oliver reached for the burner phone where it lay on the table, but Diana dropped her fork and grabbed the phone before he could reach it.

“Oliver’s phone,” she chirped.

Oliver was briefly annoyed, but not surprised. Diana had agreed to his plan, even insisted on taking a more active role in it, and now she wanted to demonstrate to the other players that she had entered the game. It was that same strong will that had drawn him to her in the first place.

Listening to their conversation while he finished his breakfast, Oliver was impressed at how quickly Diana slipped into the role of international treasure hunter, going toe to toe with a brutal intelligence agent and holding her ground. From what he could hear, Oliver got the impression that Rais Karim was not happy with this plan. He heard Karim shouting that he had personally seen the scroll before it was stolen from and been privy to expert analysis that proved its authenticity. That was, after all, why it had been in the secret vault in the first place. Diana pointed out that she and Oliver didn’t question his integrity, only that of the mercenaries, who had already proven themselves untrustworthy in putting the scrolls up for sale in the first place. That seemed to calm Rais enough that she was able to make her demands known.

Diana explained that she would accompany Oliver to authenticate the scroll. She would require access to it in a clean environment where they would not be disturbed, so that she could view the scroll and confirm that it was written in the proper dialect of ancient Hieratic script. Once that was done, Oliver would contact their employer and arrange for a transfer of funds. If she wasn’t satisfied with the scroll’s authenticity the deal would be off, but she and Oliver would, of course, make no mention of the failed transaction to any other potential buyers.

Diana ended the call and tossed the phone onto the table. “He’s a tenacious old bird.”

“You don’t rise to power in a secret military agency without being tenacious,” Oliver replied.

Diana shrugged in agreement and explained that Rais was getting in contact with the sellers to confirm the meeting location and inform them that she would be coming along to examine the scrolls prior to purchase.

“Now we just hope that they don’t overreact and kill us when we don’t buy the scroll,” Diana said.

“They won’t. These are military contractors. They deal in killing, but they are businessmen at heart. Go back a few years and they would have probably never have gotten into this business. This whole mess probably started just because Egypt is filled with buyers exploiting the chaos of a major change in governance. I bet these mercenaries thought they could sell a couple of the items in the vault without getting caught.”