The Thirteenth Legion (A James Acton Thriller, #15) (James Acton Thrillers)

The Thirteenth Legion
A James Acton Thriller
by
J. Robert Kennedy

 

From the Back Cover

FROM USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR J. ROBERT KENNEDY

 

A TWO-THOUSAND-YEAR-OLD DESTINY IS ABOUT TO BE FULFILLED!

USA Today bestselling author J. Robert Kennedy delivers another action-packed thriller in The Thirteenth Legion. After Interpol Agent Hugh Reading spots his missing partner in Berlin, it sets off a chain of events that could lead to the death of his best friends, and if the legends are true, the entire planet.

A civil war has split the Triarii, a two-thousand-year-old organization descendant from the Roman Empire’s fabled Thirteenth Legion, a desperate battle underway to control the crystal skulls they have sworn to protect, one side relentless in their mission to unite the skulls to reveal their power, the other equally determined to protect mankind from the potential consequences.

In true Kennedy style, this globe-spanning thriller provides all the action, humor, romance and heartbreak only he can deliver. Loyalties will be tested, blood will be shed, and friends will die, as archeology professors James Acton and Laura Palmer are once again pulled into the troubled history of a cult they had hoped had forgotten them, with only their wits and friends to rely upon.

About the James Acton Thrillers

"James Acton: A little bit of Jack Bauer and Indiana Jones!"

 

Though this book is part of the James Acton Thrillers series, it is written as a standalone novel and can be enjoyed without having read any
of the previous installments.

About J. Robert Kennedy

USA Today bestselling author J. Robert Kennedy has been ranked by Amazon as the #1 Bestselling Action Adventure
novelist based upon combined sales. He is the author of over twenty-five international bestsellers including the smash hit James Acton Thrillers series of which the first
installment,
The Protocol
, has been on the bestseller lists since its release, including occupying the number one spot for three months.
He lives with his wife and daughter and writes full-time.

 

"If you want fast and furious, if you can cope with a high body count,
most of all if you like to be hugely entertained, then you can't do much better than J Robert Kennedy."

 

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Books by J. Robert Kennedy
The James Acton Thrillers

The Protocol
Brass Monkey
Broken Dove
The Templar's Relic
Flags of Sin
The Arab Fall
The Circle of Eight
The Venice Code
Pompeii's Ghosts
Amazon Burning
The Riddle
Blood Relics
Sins of the Titanic
Saint Peter's Soldiers
The Thirteenth Legion

The Special Agent Dylan Kane Thrillers

Rogue Operator
Containment Failure
Cold Warriors
Death to America
Black Widow

The Delta Force Unleashed Thrillers

Payback
Infidels
The Lazarus Moment

The Detective Shakespeare Mysteries

Depraved Difference
Tick Tock
The Redeemer

Zander Varga, Vampire Detective Series

The Turned

 

 

For Paris.

“A fanatic is a man who consciously over-compensates a secret doubt.”

 

Aldous Huxley

 

 

“And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.”

 

John 19:17-18, King James Version

Preface

 

The crystal skulls referred to herein are real and confirmed to be of unknown origin and unknown method of manufacture by top scientists at Hewlett-Packard.

 

 

 

 

The Home Depot, Forest Plaza Shopping Center, Annapolis, Maryland

 

“I don’t know why we don’t just pay someone to do this.”

Professor
James Acton grinned at his wife, Professor Laura Palmer, as he pushed the large
cart containing several boxes of floating flooring along with a few bags of
supplies. “You know me, I love working with my hands. Besides, installing a
floating floor in the basement is something I’ve been meaning to do for years.”

“You
could hurt yourself!”

Acton
laughed. “You do realize how many bullets, grenades, knives and vehicles have
been aimed in my direction, don’t you? If a rubber mallet is what finally takes
me out, then so be it.” He winked at her. “Just don’t have it written on my
tombstone.”

“Here
lies James Acton, beloved husband and son, finally bested by his basement.”

Acton
laughed, reaching over and squeezing the back of Laura’s neck. He leaned in and
gave her a quick peck, noticing several beads of sweat on her forehead. “You
okay?”

She
nodded, but suddenly appeared weak. “Just tired.” She placed a hand on the left
side of her stomach where she had been shot in Paris. “It still acts up from
time to time. It just drains me of energy.”

Acton
felt his chest tighten at his selfishness. It had been his idea to come here,
and he had encouraged her to come along. Then he had travelled up and down
almost every aisle of the massive store, wanting to get everything he would
need in one stop. “I’m sorry,” he said, his voice slightly subdued. “I should
have come alone, this was too much walking.”

Laura
reached out and squeezed his arm. “I’m a big girl. I could have said no, or
gone and waited in the car.” She took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly.
“I just need to get home and lie down, I’ll be fine.”

“Pain?”

She
shook her head. “No, just weak.”

Acton
looked down the long row of cars, their SUV near the end. “Why don’t you wait
here and I’ll get the car?”

Laura
gave him half a smile. “It takes almost as much effort to stand as it does to
walk.”

Acton
nodded toward the cart. “Hop in, there’s room.”

Laura
laughed, wrapping herself around one of his arms for support, resting her head
on his shoulder. “Don’t tempt me.”

They
continued down the row, Acton pulling out the fob and unlocking the doors. He
positioned their cart behind the bumper then opened the passenger side door as
tires squealed behind them. He glanced over his shoulder casually. “Asshole, he
could kill someone driving like that in a parking lot.” Laura didn’t look,
instead gripping his arm tighter.

She’s
definitely not well.

The van
was a sleek affair, a Mercedes emblem on the front grill suggesting some coin
had been spent to purchase it, yet it was being driven as if it had been
stolen. As it raced up the lane toward them, Acton stepped around Laura,
redirecting her toward her door and away from the van.

Brakes
were hit hard, the Mercedes Sprinter shuddering to a stop as the side doors
burst open, two men bursting out, covered head to toe in black, both aiming
Berettas at them. Laura yelped, her cellphone flying from her hand as she threw
her arms up.

“Professors
James Acton and Laura Palmer?” asked one of the men as he advanced toward
Acton, Acton now pushing Laura behind him as they retreated, the cart
forgotten.

Acton
said nothing.

The man
with the unanswered question extended his arm, placing the gun directly in
Acton’s face. “You
will
answer the question.”

Acton
was quite certain the men already knew who they were. This wasn’t a random act,
there other people who were passed. If they were here to kill them, then
identifying themselves would only hasten their deaths. If they were here to
kidnap them, then any form of delay, even a few seconds, might get cameras out
and people calling police, police that just might happen to be in the area if
they were lucky.

“Who
wants to know?”

“That
kind of talk gets people killed, Professor.”

I
guess they
do
know.

“If you
know who we are, then why are you asking?”

Suddenly
there was a clap of thunder from behind them and the man was shoved back toward
the van, his arms and legs outstretched toward Acton, the other man frozen in
place, his jaw dropping in shock.

A second
shot rang out, smearing him against the van as tires screeched to their left, a
black SUV careening toward them. The driver of the van hit the gas, the vehicle
jerking forward just as a third shot removed him from existence, his head now a
red mist filling the cabin.

The SUV came
to a halt at an angle behind the van as Acton turned to grab Laura and make a
break for it between the rows of vehicles.

“Professor!”

Acton
spun toward the voice and his jaw dropped at the sight of his friend, Martin
Chaney, reaching for them.

“What—”

Chaney
cut him off.

“Come
with me if you want to live.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golgotha, Judea
April 7
th
, 30 AD
The Ninth Hour

 

“Sir, we found something you need to see!”

Decanus
Vitus wiped his brow, ignoring his underling’s excitement, instead staring up
at the top of the hill, three solitary crosses standing in the darkness, the
daylight gone, a storm like none he had experienced before on land engulfing
them.

The gods
were angry.

The wind
carried the wails of their supporters, though from what he had heard, they were
all there for him, the one who claimed he was the son of the Jewish god. It was
ridiculous of course, these misguided Jews knowing no end to their arrogance in
claiming there was only
one
god, and
he
had chosen
them.

If
he’s all-powerful, then why are we the conquerors?

Two
soldiers ran down the hill, talking excitedly. “It wasn’t a trick! He can see!”

“Impossible.
I can’t believe it. I’ve never trusted Longinus. You know he only needs three
more months before he earns his retirement. He’ll say anything to stay in.”

Vitus
reached out. “You two, come here!”

The two
men froze, their eyes widening in further terror as the skies raged upon the
landscape. “Sir!”

“Did you
say Longinus can see?”

They
both nodded.

Vitus
looked up the hill again then shook his head. He flicked his wrist. “On with
you.”

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