Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Author:Ryan Graudin [Graudin, Ryan]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781510102873
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Published: 2017-06-12T04:00:00+00:00




* * *

THE INVICTUS WAS ALREADY IN FLIGHT, gliding over the Mediterranean with all the grace and shape of a moon-stung cloud. June 11, 2155 was a beautiful night—stars blanketing the black like a chorus—but none of the crew paused to savor it. Far and the others were eating pizza instead, nibbling through two large hot-boxes of Margherita pie, plus a pan of tiramisu. The dinner and adjacent planning session were a shipwide affair—even Bartleby was there, dressed in a toga. The stola meant for Eliot hung by Saffron’s tail with the rest of the wardrobe, linen hem just long enough to graze Far’s head every time he moved.

He fought the urge to swat at it.

Imogen stood by the mannequin’s side, walking the crew through the finer points of their heist. It wasn’t like his cousin to get stage fright—but her briefing came across shaky. Throat clearing, hair tucking, sentences riddled with ums.

“The Library of Alexandria was, um, the most significant collection of knowledge in the ancient world. Poetry, physics, philosophy, astronomy…This place had it all, until Caesar’s conflagration situation. Eliot’s, um, buyers have their credits set aside for two works in particular: the manuscripts of the Greek lyric poet Sappho and the history of the ancient world as recorded by Berossus. The exact locations of these scrolls are unknown, but, um, the librarians had an elaborate cataloging system. Sappho’s writings are thought to be kept somewhere in the, um, northwest corner. The Babylonaica is on the other side of the building. We think.”

“We think?” Grease leaked down Far’s fingers with his first flashing bite. Ow! The hot-box had done its job too well. He felt mozzarella scald its way down his throat, sticking to the side of his chest. Some of the burn regurgitated with his words. “I’d like more than thinking before I go tumbling into a papyrus tinderbox.”

“I’m doing the best I can,” Imogen protested. “Considering.”

“Of course you are.” Priya nudged Far’s rib cage as she said this.

It was hard not to be irritable—the relief of not being dead negated by the magcart ride. Eliot’s caginess stung extra hard after his offer to help. He was a hero spurned. No, it felt worse than that. He’d become a bystander in someone else’s story.

There was one bright spot to cling to: Priya’s new diagnostics machine, currently cross-referencing Eliot’s DNA with a world’s worth of people. The process was—understandably—ponderous. Priya had spent most of her afternoon in the infirmary, installing the Ancestral Archives software out of Eliot’s sight. In a few more hours they’d have a lead on the girl’s identity. An ancestor, an origin year, something seizable.

“There’s evidence to support the locations,” his cousin went on. “Previous expeditions…and, um, Eliot’s intelligence.”

Far tried not to choke on the water he was sipping.

“My intel’s solid,” Eliot assured him. “I’ve been to the library before.”

Imogen cleared her throat, schoolteacher style. “Things get rather, um, fuzzy when it comes to the timeline….”

Far chewed the rest of his slice and listened to the long list of everything they didn’t know.


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