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The 2012 codex, p.1
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       The 2012 Codex, p.1

           Gary Jennings
 
The 2012 Codex


  THE 2012 CODEX

  FORGE BOOKS BY GARY JENNINGS

  Aztec

  Journeyer

  Spangle

  Aztec Autumn

  Aztec Blood

  Aztec Rage

  (with Robert Gleason and Junius Podrug)

  Aztec Fire

  (with Robert Gleason and Junius Podrug)

  Apocalypse 2012

  (with Robert Gleason and Junius Podrug)

  The 2012 Codex

  (with Robert Gleason and Junius Podrug)

  Visit Gary Jennings at www.garyjennings.net.

  GARY JENNINGS’

  THE 2012 CODEX

  ROBERT GLEASON

  JUNIUS PODRUG

  A TOM DOHERTY

  ASSOCIATES BOOK

  NEW YORK

  The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied so that you can enjoy reading it on your personal devices. This e-book is for your personal use only. You may not print or post this e-book, or make this e-book publicly available in any way. You may not copy, reproduce or upload this e-book, other than to read it on one of your personal devices.

  Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book you are reading infringes on the author’s copyright, please notify the publisher at: us.macmillanusa.com/piracy.

  TABLE OF CONTENTS

  TITLE

  COPYRIGHT

  DEDICATION

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  LAND OF THE MAYA: A.D. 1519

  LAND OF THE MAYA: PRESENT DAY

  PART I

  CHAPTER 1

  CHAPTER 2

  CHAPTER 3

  CHAPTER 4

  CHAPTER 5

  CHAPTER 6

  CHAPTER 7

  CHAPTER 8

  PART II

  CHAPTER 9

  CHAPTER 10

  CHAPTER 11

  CHAPTER 12

  CHAPTER 13

  PART III

  CHAPTER 14

  CHAPTER 15

  CHAPTER 16

  CHAPTER 17

  CHAPTER 18

  CHAPTER 19

  CHAPTER 20

  CHAPTER 21

  CHAPTER 22

  CHAPTER 23

  PART IV

  CHAPTER 24

  CHAPTER 25

  CHAPTER 26

  CHAPTER 27

  CHAPTER 28

  PART V

  CHAPTER 29

  CHAPTER 30

  CHAPTER 31

  CHAPTER 32

  PART VI

  CHAPTER 33

  CHAPTER 34

  PART VII

  CHAPTER 35

  CHAPTER 36

  CHAPTER 37

  CHAPTER 38

  CHAPTER 39

  CHAPTER 40

  CHAPTER 41

  CHAPTER 42

  PART VIII

  CHAPTER 43

  CHAPTER 44

  CHAPTER 45

  PART IX

  CHAPTER 46

  CHAPTER 47

  CHAPTER 48

  CHAPTER 49

  CHAPTER 50

  CHAPTER 51

  CHAPTER 52

  CHAPTER 53

  PART X

  CHAPTER 54

  CHAPTER 55

  PART XI

  CHAPTER 56

  CHAPTER 57

  CHAPTER 58

  CHAPTER 59

  CHAPTER 60

  CHAPTER 61

  CHAPTER 62

  CHAPTER 63

  CHAPTER 64

  CHAPTER 65

  CHAPTER 66

  CHAPTER 67

  CHAPTER 68

  CHAPTER 69

  CHAPTER 70

  CHAPTER 71

  CHAPTER 72

  CHAPTER 73

  CHAPTER 74

  PART XII

  CHAPTER 75

  CHAPTER 76

  CHAPTER 77

  PART XIII

  CHAPTER 78

  CHAPTER 79

  CHAPTER 80

  CHAPTER 81

  CHAPTER 82

  CHAPTER 83

  CHAPTER 84

  PART XIV

  CHAPTER 85

  PART XV

  CHAPTER 86

  CHAPTER 87

  PART XVI

  CHAPTER 88

  CHAPTER 89

  PART XVII

  CHAPTER 90

  CHAPTER 91

  CHAPTER 92

  PART XVIII

  CHAPTER 93

  PART XIX

  CHAPTER 94

  CHAPTER 95

  PART XX

  CHAPTER 96

  PART XXI

  CHAPTER 97

  CHAPTER 98

  CHAPTER 99

  This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously.

  THE 2012 CODEX

  Copyright © 2010 by Eugene Winick, Executor, Estate of Gary Jennings

  All rights reserved.

  A Forge Book

  Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

  175 Fifth Avenue

  New York, NY 10010

  www.tor-forge.com

  Forge® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

  ISBN 978-0-7653-2260-9

  First Edition: September 2010

  Printed in the United States of America

  0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  For Joyce Servis

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  The work of many people is necessary to bring a book to fruition. We particularly wish to thank Sessalee Hensley, Tom Doherty, Linda Quinton, Christine Jaeger, Eric Raab, Whitney Ross, Ashley Cardiff, Jerry Gibbs, Elizabeth Winick, Hildegard Krische, Steve Jones, and Maribel Baltazar-Gutierrez.

  LAND OF THE MAYA: A.D. 1519

  XIBALBA

  I am Pakal the Storyteller, and I walk in the Place of Fear. I have told the tales of this Underworld of terrors many times over campfires and before the tables of kings. Now, however, I shall suffer the demons of Xibalba’s Lords of Death as they rise up from ooze, slime, and poisonous swamps, sucking the blood from my heart and the life from my soul.

  Xibalba lies in the center of the land of my people, the Maya, but deep beneath the surface. Ruled by twelve Lords of Death, it is the abode of the dead. Called the Place of Fear by our people, it holds terror for those of us who will be cast into it after we depart the living.

  Only a warrior’s death in battle and the passing of a woman during childbirth are rewarded. Rather than being flung into the Underworld, these women serve the gods in the afterlife, and the warriors act as guards for the Sun God as he leaves his cave of darkness each morning and journeys across the sky.

  Those who do not die with such honor have suffered what my people call a straw death, in which they are struck down by the demons of incurable sickness and fatal misfortune, whom the Lords of Death have sent to prowl the upper world.

  For those whose life ends without honor, dying does not take them beyond the pain and sorrow of the life they have led. For them, Xibalba holds new terrors—a dark, deep, unearthly netherworld with six caverns, which my people call stone houses. Each stone house contains a terrifying trial for those who have suffered a straw death. The first is the House of Gloom, a cavern in which a murderous terror without a name lurks in the murky shadows of a maze. You must find a way through the labyrinth and not fall victim to fanged and taloned demons, or your journey ends in eternal pain and damnation, forever doomed to wander in the darkness with the beast’s hot breath behind you.

  Beyond Gloom is the House of Cold, a place of bone-chilling cold and dagger-shaped hail. Bitter cold is alien to my people, who enjoy eternal summ
er and wear few clothes. The third is the House of Jaguars, filled with hungry jungle animals, then the House of Bats, whose teeth pick the flesh off people until nothing is left but bone; those who have survived this far must traverse the House of Knives, where razor-sharp obsidian blades fly like birds of their own accord. The sixth is the House of Fire, filled with brimstone and blazing heat ignited by the gods of fire and lava.

  Those few who survive the grueling trials of the six stone houses no longer have to suffer—the Lords of Death turn their souls into dust that is scattered on a field of maize.

  My path to Xibalba has been a long one, a journey of many years during which my feet took me to far places where my eyes saw the greatest wonders of the One-World.

  I was a green youth when I fought the One Who Kills with a Single Blow. At such a young age, I didn’t understand that an act of the briefest moment would take me out of my village and put me on a journey in which my feet felt the dirt the length of the One-World.

  There were moments when my heart hammered with fear and times when it beat with the joy of love—and, yes, even lust.

  When I fought the One Who Kills with a Single Blow, I was Pakal the Quarry Worker. My village was a day’s walk from the great city of Mayapán, where the king of all that I knew sat on a golden throne and spoke to the gods.

  Now, however, I come to Xibalba—not as a common laborer but wearing the quetzal feathers of a great lord. Entering the Underworld on my own two feet, I have a sword in hand with which to face the dead even though the demons of sickness and misfortune have not dragged me down to the houses of stone.

  Instead I came to Xibalba on a mission, carrying treasures more precious to me than the riches of kings.

  I entered Xibalba from above ground in daylight at the temple dedicated to the Lords of Death, going through a passageway forbidden to all but the priests who tend the temple fires and obtain the sacrificial blood the gods demand as sustenance.

  Standing at the top of a stairway, I stared down at the last chamber of the priests. Beyond that was the gateway leading to the first house of stone and the challenge it would present.

  The stairs and the vast cavern before me were carved out of limestone, the stone that lies just beneath the dirt throughout the land of my people. I have traveled far, from one end of the One-World to the other, and never have I heard of a land with so much of it.

  The land has few rivers and lakes, and most of our water is in caverns—not unlike the one I am in now—vast hollows in the layers of limestone. I know this stone well, having been a lowly stoneworker before I ate at the tables of kings. Underground, the rock is still soft and malleable, which simplifies the hollowing out of caverns and quarries and facilitates the carving of stones for buildings. After stone blocks and slabs are taken to the surface and exposed to the warmth provided by the Sun God, the stone becomes rock hard and unworkable.

  As soon as I enter the Underworld, the smell of the dark, dank cavern assaults me. Beyond the putrid stench of rotting decay—not unlike the stink of turning meat—the cavern holds a stench of death that turns my skin cold, clammy, and fills my soul with terror and dread.

  Shrieks come from somewhere in the darkness below, howls of pleasure that I have arrived, cries of ecstasy from those who smell my blood and undulate to the thunder of my heart.

  I grip my sword tighter. The weapon of a nobleman and seasoned warrior, it makes me wish I had the muscular power I’d once possessed as a stoneworker.

  Longer than my arm, the sword has a blade of razor-sharp obsidian embedded on each edge. The fire-mountain gods vomit obsidian out of their fiery volcanic maws. The sharpest material in the One-World, it is used to create the deadliest weapons.

  A single swing of the sword can sever a head or limb of anyone—anyone, that is, who breathes air and walks on two feet.

  I take the steps down slowly, warily, not knowing from which direction the attack will come, knowing only that it will. Slimy green moss and watery rivulets make the steps slippery.

  The flickering torches barely impinge on the cavern’s darkness; much of the cave is still lost in murky shadows and the black void. A cold draft chills the back of my neck, flickering the torches, throwing eerie trembling shadows on the walls.

  Blood stains the bottom steps. The people hacked up here were not slain in combat but butchered, the flesh ripped off their bodies by fang and claw.

  Eyo! The demons of the Underworld are angry and thirsty. Those above have forsaken the temple, and Xibalba’s demons for some time have not tasted the blood that feeds them.

  The entire land of my people is under the punishing wrath of the gods.

  Having violated the blood covenant—the promise that our people will give the gods blood, and they in turn will give sun and water to fructify our crops and feed our stomachs—the gods are visiting their wrath on us. Their anger has made our land a living hell.

  A few drops of my blood—from a nick on my leg or on my penis—will not satisfy them. They will want more—all my blood.

  I stop at the bottom of the stairs when I sense something lurking in the darkness—a thing that smells my blood.

  I grip the sword with two hands but know it will not cut anything that walks without its feet touching the ground.

  Another stench fills the chill air in the cavern, fouler than the breath of the great jungle predator that I once fought and slew with nothing more than a staff—the jaguar.

  I know what is waiting for me.

  It is a drinker of blood.

  LAND OF THE MAYA: PRESENT DAY

  1

  From a high escarpment just below the cliff’s rim, Cooper Jones studied her team resting on the trail below: Rita “Reets” Critchlow—a fellow archeolinguist—flanked by Hargrave and Jamesy. All three wore dusty fatigues, camouflage T-shirts with the sleeves cut off, heavy boots, and sweat-stained dirty-white baseball caps. Reets’ and Coop’s caps bore the Diablos Rojos del México’s team logo, while Jamesy’s and Hargrave’s caps rooted for the Leones de Yucatán.

  Mexico City Red Devils and Yucatán Lions, Coop thought grimly. Right now I feel more like a heat-sick Gila monster.

  No shade protected them from the blistering sun, and Jamesy was pulling his shirt off. Both men’s bodies were graphic studies in macabre violence—specifically, knife and gunshot wounds—but Jamesy’s chest and back scars were an unnervingly turned-out oeuvre. The first time she stumbled on him bathing in a stream with his shirt off—and had seen the knife slash diagonally traversing his chest, the barely healed bullet hole entering and exiting his broad right shoulder, and the wide white stripes of some long-forgotten prison hellhole disfiguring his back—she’d understood the kind of men he and Hargrave were.

  Not that she’d needed scars to garner that insight. Their eyes said everything—eyes that neither asked nor gave, and stares hard enough to crack concrete.

  “Eyes that diced at the foot of the cross,” she’d once told Reets.

  “And slogged the long road back from Stalingrad,” Reets had said.

  “Hard enough to crack concrete,” Coop had concluded.

  Then, of course, there were the mirthless grins that never reached those eyes.

  Men she and Reets now trusted with their lives.

  . . . Reets had summed up their situation two nights before:

  “We’re hunted by the most sadistic, pistol-whipping, water-boarding mercenaries north of the Rio; by Mexico’s most sadistic, gonad-electrocuting, mordida-stealing, child-pimping federales; by the most sadistic, prodigiously powerful drug cartel in two continents—the Apachureros.”

  “You mean we’re hunted by . . . sadists?” Hargrave asked.

  “No,” Reets said, “cloistered nuns.”

  “We’re not in some kind of trouble, are we?” Jamesy asked.

  “Not unless you call drawing and quartering, hot coals and knives, followed by death of a thousand cuts . . . trouble.” Reets replied.

  “They have their side of
it,” Hargrave countered.

  Reets nodded her assent. “After all, we’ve stolen some of their homeland’s most historically important, preposterously priceless relics.”

  “The ‘2012 Apocalyptic Codices,’ as our intrepid president describes them,” Hargrave said. “You can understand why they want them back and us dead?”

  “I blame the president,” Jamesy said. “Some hijo de puta on his staff’s ratting us out.”

  “Telling the Apachureros, what those codices are worth and where to find us,” Hargrave said.

  “Codices we now control,” Coop said.

  “And which our bandit buddies want,” Jamesy said.

  “There’s also those dozen or so of their bullet-riddled friends we so carelessly left on our back-trail,” Hargrave threw in.

  “Someone in Washington put a bounty on us,” Jamesy said coldly.

  “Those Pach want us muy malo,” Hargrave said.

  “So they can steal the stuff we stole,” Reets said. . . .

  . . . Well, onward and upward, Cooper Jones thought. At the top of the jungle-shrouded cliff waited a man who she hoped had the last of the Quetzalcoatl codices.

  The inestimable Jack Phoenix.

  The bravest, cleverest, most outrageous archeologist the gods ever made—his detractors often added psychopathic to those adjectives—Jack Phoenix was also one of Coop’s and Reets’ two closest friends.

  “One of our two only friends,” Reets once remarked after eight tequila shooters.

  They’d begun pooling resources almost a decade ago and they now trusted him with their most confidential findings. Through a covert communications network of seemingly innocuous weblogs, they passed information critical to their work and careers—so much so, they encrypted their e-mails to keep other archeologists from ripping off their findings.

  Phoenix typically sought her and Reets’ help in translating indecipherable pre-Columbian glyphs, knowing that Coop, in particular, was preeminently, almost preternaturally gifted in such linguistics. In exchange, he passed data on to them, describing unpublicized digs and sites, which he himself had often uncovered but kept secret.

 
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