The bourne supremacy, p.11
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.11

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 11


  facing each other in front of an unlit fireplace, then moved behind her husband and began blotting his neck and shoulders with the second towel, the light of a table lamp heightening the reddish tint of her auburn hair, her lovely features in shadows, her eyes on the man from the State Department. 'Please, go ahead,' she continued. 'As we've agreed, I'm cleared by the Government for anything you might say. '

  'Was there a question? asked David, glancing up at her and then at the visitor, making no attempt to disguise his hostility.

  'None whatsoever,' replied McAllister, smiling wanly yet sincerely. 'No one who's read of your wife's contribution would dare exclude her. Where others failed she succeeded. '

  'That says it,' agreed Webb. 'Without saying anything, of course. '

  'Hey, come on, David, loosen up. '

  'Sorry. She's right. ' Webb tried to smile; the attempt was not successful. 'I'm prejudging and I shouldn't do that, should I?'

  'I'd say you have every right to,' said the undersecretary. 'I know I would, if I were you. In spite of the fact that our backgrounds are very much alike - I was posted in the Far East for a number of years - no one would have considered me for the assignment you undertook. What you went through is light years beyond me. '

  'Beyond me, too. Obviously. '

  'Not from where I stand. The failure wasn't yours, God knows. '

  'Now you're being kind. No offence, but too much kindness - from where you stand - makes me nervous. '

  Then let's get to the business at hand, all right? 'Please. '

  'And I hope you haven't prejudged me too harshly. I'm not your enemy, Mr Webb. I want to be your friend. I can press buttons that can help you, protect you. '

  'From what?

  'From something nobody ever expected. '

  'Let's hear it. '

  'As of thirty minutes from now your security will be doubled,' said McAllister, his eyes locked with David's. 'That's my decision, and I'll quadruple it if I think it's necessary. Every arrival on this campus will be scrutinized, the grounds checked hourly. The rotating guards will no longer be part of the scenery, keeping you merely in sight, but in effect will be very much in sight themselves. Very obvious, and I hope threatening. '

  'Jesus!' Webb sprang forward in the chair. 'It's Carlos?

  'We don't think so,' said the man from State, shaking his head. 'We can't rule Carlos out, but it's too remote, too unlikely. '

  'Oh?' David nodded. 'It must be. If it was the Jackal, your men would be all over the place and out of sight. You'd let him come after me and take him, and if I'm killed the cost is acceptable. '

  'Not to me. You don't have to believe that, but I mean it. '

  Thank you, but then what are we talking about?5

  'Your file was broken - that is, the Treadstone file was invaded. '

  'Invaded? Unauthorized disclosure?'

  'Not at first. There was authorization, all right, because there was a crisis - and in a sense we had no choice. Then everything went off the wire and now we're concerned. For you. '

  'Back up, please. Who got the file?'

  'A man on the inside, high inside. His credentials were the best, no one could question them. '

  'Who was he?'

  'A British MI6 operating out of Hong Kong, a man the CIA has relied on for years. He flew into Washington and went directly to his primary liaison at the Agency, asking to be given everything there was on Jason Bourne. He claimed there was a crisis in the territory that was a direct result of the Treadstone project. He also made it clear that if sensitive information was to be exchanged between British and American intelligence - continue to be exchanged - he thought it best that his request be granted forthwith. '

  'He had to give a damn good reason. '

  'He did. ' McAllister paused nervously, blinking his eyes

  and rubbing his forehead with extended fingers.


  'Jason Bourne is back,' said McAllister quietly. 'He's killed again. In Kowloon. '

  Marie gasped; she clutched her husband's right shoulder, her large brown eyes angry, frightened. She stared in silence at the man from State. Webb did not move. Instead he studied McAllister, as a man might watch a cobra.

  'What the hell are you talking about? he whispered, then raised his voice. 'Jason Bourne - that Jason Bourne - doesn't exist anymore. He never did!'

  'You know that and we know that, but in Asia his legend is very much alive. You created it, Mr Webb - brilliantly, in my judgement. '

  'I'm not interested in your judgement, Mr McAllister,' said David, removing his wife's hand and getting out of the chair. 'What's this MI6 agent working on? How old is he? What's his stability factor, his record? You must have run an up-to-date trace on him. ' 'Of course we did and there was nothing irregular. London confirmed his outstanding service record, his current status, as well as the information he brought us. As chief of post for MI6, he was called in by the Kowloon-Hong Kong police because of the potentially explosive nature of events. The Foreign Office itself stood behind him. '

  ' Wrong!' shouted Webb, shaking his head, then lowered his voice. 'He was turned, Mr McAllister! Someone offered him a small fortune to get that file. He used the only lie that would work and all of you swallowed it!'

  'I'm afraid it's not a lie - not as he knew it. He believed the evidence, and London believes it. A Jason Bourne is back in Asia. '

  'And what if I told you it wouldn't be the first time central control was fed a lie so an overworked, over risked, underpaid man can turn! All the years, all the dangers, and nothing to show for it. He decides on one opportunity that gives him an annuity for life. In this case that file!'

  'If that is the case, it won't do him much good. He's dead. '

  'He's what. . . ?

  'He was shot to death two nights ago in Kowloon, in his office, an hour after he'd flown into Hong Kong. '

  'Goddamn it, it doesn't happen!' cried David, bewildered. 'A man who turns backs himself up. He builds a case against his benefactor before the act, letting him know it'll get to the right people if anything ugly happens. It's his insurance, his only insurance. '

  'He was clean,' insisted the, State Department man.

  'Or stupid,' rejoined Webb.

  'No one thinks that. '

  'What do they think?

  'That he was pursuing an extraordinary development, one that could erupt into widespread violence throughout the underworlds of Hong Kong and Macao. Organized crime becomes suddenly very disorganized, not unlike the tong wars of the twenties and thirties. The killings pile up. Rival gangs instigate riots; waterfronts become battlegrounds; warehouses, even cargo ships are blown up for revenge, or to wipe out competitors. Sometimes all it takes is several powerful warring factions - and a Jason Bourne in the background. '

  'But since there is no Jason Bourne, it's police work! Not MI6. '

  'Mr McAllister just said the man was called in by the Hong Kong police,' broke in Marie looking hard at the undersecretary of state. 'MI6 obviously agreed with the decision. Why was that?

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