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The Milestone Protocol

A Sean Wyatt Adventure

Ernest Dempsey

138 Publishing

In memory of my friend Heather Belles. You were so radiant you made the sun blink.

Contents

Join the Adventure

Primary Characters

Preface

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Thank You

Fact Vs Fiction

Other Books By Ernest Dempsey

Acknowledgments

Hidden Chapter

Join the Adventure

Visit ernestdempsey.net to get a free copy of the not-sold-in-stores short stories Red Gold, The Lost Canvas, and The Moldova Job.

You’ll also get access to exclusive content and stories not available anywhere else.

While you’re at it, swing by the official Ernest Dempsey fan page on Facebook at https://facebook.com/ErnestDempsey to join the community of travelers, adventurers, historians, and dreamers. There are exclusive contests, giveaways, and more!

Lastly, if you enjoy pictures of exotic locations, food, and travel adventures, check out my feed @ernestdempsey on the Instagram app.

What are you waiting for? Join the adventure today!

Primary Characters

Sean Wyatt: International Archaeological Agency field agent. Adriana Villa’s husband.

Tommy Schultz: Founder of the International Archaeological Agency specializing in discovery, recovery, and securing ancient artifacts for preservation and study. Husband to June Holiday.

Adriana Villa: Master thief specializing in the recovery of lost or stolen masterpieces from World War II. Wife of Sean Wyatt.

Diego Villa: Adriana Villa’s father and private intelligence consultant.

Tara Watson: IAA field agent and c0-lead investigator of the Paranormal Archaeology Division at IAA. Wife of Alex Simms.

Alex Simms: IAA field agent and c0-lead investigator of the Paranormal Archaeology Division at IAA. Husband of Tara Watson.

Corin, Diego, and Desmond: Founders of The Adventure Guild, a middle school historical and archaeological sleuthing club.

Dak Harper: Relic runner/treasure hunter for professional video gamer Boston McClaren. Former Delta Force.

Emily Starks: Director of The Axis Agency.

June Holiday: Axis field agent and wife to Tommy Schultz.

Joe and Helen McElroy: Axis field agents.

OTHER CHARACTERS

Gwen McCarthy: President of the United States

Daniel and Carolyn Ellerby: Archaeologists and parents of Desmond Ellerby.

Maria Perez and Rick Atkins: Parents of Diego Perez and Corin Atkins.

Preface

"They who seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers…call this a new order. It is not new, and it is not order."

-Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Prologue

Crimea, 1346

The Khan sat in silent contemplation upon the throne. He rested his chin on a forefinger and stared at the dirt floor. The tent walls flapped in a gentle breeze. One of the servants stoked the fire in the center of the room to keep the confines warm.

Jani Beg may have been gazing aimlessly at the floor, but his focus remained discreetly on the servant. The man stoking the fire knew this and did everything he could to stay calm as he performed his tasks, knowing that the slightest cough or stumble could result in his execution.

When the flames in the pit flickered vibrantly, Jani Beg Khan ordered the servant to leave.

The man gave a curt nod and immediately exited through the yurt's only door. As he stepped through the opening, the man pulled his tunic up over his mouth to cover his nose and mouth before shutting the door.

The leader of the Golden Horde continued to stew as the minutes passed. A range of emotions boiled and frothed inside him, fighting a war none could win. What should have been a relatively easy military victory had turned into a disaster.

While the city of Kaffa had solid defensive capabilities—primarily in the form of concentric walls—Jani Beg didn't fear the Genoese merchants who ran things. They were traders, not soldiers. They still had access to the main ports, which Jani Beg couldn't efficiently blockade, but getting their supplies and reinforcements via the ocean took time, an asset he had on his side.

Until the sickness struck.

A few perimeter guards took ill first. They complained about feeling warm and chilly all over. Their other symptoms were less discreet. The retching and coughing spread rapidly throughout the camp, along with several other disturbing symptoms.

Jani Beg had been unable to sleep in recent nights, so loud had grown the sounds of the sickened men. Some moaned in the darkness, adding to the misery.

Then they began to die, a few at first, then dozens as the sickness ran like wildfire through the encampment until half the Khan's forces were dead.

He'd done everything he could to contain the disease, taken measures to prevent more of his men from falling ill, but nothing seemed to work. It was as if his entire army had been cursed with a plague.

How had it all come to this? He wondered at the thought, considering every step of the offensive up to this point.

With his forces decimated, he would have no choice but to withdraw and retreat back to his homeland to recover and regroup. He loathed the notion of retreating, especially from a city of merchants who'd literally done nothing but sit there and wait to die.

A groan of agony came from somewhere nearby, too close for the Khan's comfort. He'd done everything he could to distance himself from the sick, but he didn't know how the disease spread. It was anyone's guess whether or not his measures would be effective.

Every time he caught a tickle in his throat or felt a twinge of pain in his stomach, paranoia rushed in to greet him and bring prophecies of his demise—another victim to the illness that had destroyed his campaign.

Jani Beg had resigned himself to defeat. That lingering certainty was unshakeable at this point. Perhaps in the future, he could return with a new army and raze Kaffa to the ground, expelling all the infidels within. The vision of the Genoese filth fleeing on their ships gave him the only moments of satisfaction he'd been

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