The bourne supremacy, p.114
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.114

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 114


  Jason had waited until the watchman's light was barely a speck in the distant darkness, then ran in the road back to his car and the tree with the notch in the bark. He now dug up the knapsack and began sorting out the articles of his trade. He removed his jacket and white shirt and put on a black turtleneck sweater; he secured the sheath of the hunting knife to the belt of his dark trousers and shoved the automatic with a single shell in it on the other side. He picked up two spools connected by a three-foot strand of thin wire, and thought that the lethal instrument was far better than the one he had fashioned in Hong Kong. Why not? He was much closer to his objective, if anything he had learned in that distant Medusa had any value. He rolled the wire on to both spools equally, and carefully pushed them down inside his trousers right back pocket, then picked up a small penlight and clipped it to the lower edge of his right front pocket. He placed a long double strand of outsized Chinese firecrackers, which was folded and held in place by an elastic band, in his left front pocket along with three books of matches and a small wax candle. The most awkward item was a hand- held medium-gauge wirecutter, the size of a pair of pliers. He inserted it head down into his left back pocket, then sprang the release so that the two short handles were pressed against the cloth, thus locking the instrument in its shell. Finally, he reached for a wrapped pile of clothing that was coiled so tight its dimensions were no more than that of a rolling pin. He centred it on his spine, pulled the elastic band around his waist, and snapped the clips into place. He might never use the clothes but then he could leave nothing to chance - he was too close!

  I'll take him, Marie! I swear 'I'll take him and we'll have our life again. It's David and I love you so! I need you so! Stop it! There are no people, only objectives. No emotions, only targets and kills and men to be eliminated who stand in the way. I have no use for you, Webb. You're soft and I despise you. Listen to Delta - listen to Jason Bourne!

  The killer who was a killer by necessity buried the knapsack with his white shirt and tweed jacket and stood up between the pine trees. His lungs swelled at the thought of what was before him, one part of him frightened and uncertain, the other furious, ice-cold.

  Jason started walking north into the curve, going from tree to tree as he had done before. He reached the car that had passed him with the bicycle strapped to its roof; parked on the side of the road, it had a large sign taped under the front window. He edged closer and read the Chinese characters, smiling to himself as he did so.

  This is a disabled official vehicle of the government. Tampering with any part of the mechanism is a serious crime. Theft of this vehicle will result in the swift execution of the offender.

  In the lower left-hand corner there was a column in small print

  People's Printing Plant Number 72. Shanghai. Bourne wondered how many hundreds of thousands of such signs had been made by Printing Plant 72. Perhaps they took the place of a warranty, two with each vehicle.

  He backed into the shadows and continued around the bend until he reached the open space in front of the floodlit gate. His eyes followed the line of the green fence. On the left it disappeared into the forest darkness. On the right it extended perhaps two hundred feet beyond the gatehouse, running the length of a parking lot with numbered areas for tour buses and taxis, where it angled sharply south. As he expected, a bird sanctuary in China would be enclosed, a deterrent to poachers. As d'Anjou had phrased it: 'Birds have been revered in China for centuries. They're considered delicacies for the eyes and the palate. ' Echo. Echo was gone. He wondered if d'Anjou had suffered . . . no time.

  Voices! Bourne snapped his head back towards the gate, lurching into the nearest foliage. The Chinese army officer and a new, much younger watchman - no, now definitely a guard - walked out from behind the gatehouse. The guard was wheeling a bicycle while the officer held a small radio to

  his ear.

  They'll start arriving shortly after nine o'clock,' said the army man, lowering the radio and shoving down the antenna. 'Seven vehicles each three minutes apart. '

  The truck?'

  'It will be the last. '

  The guard looked at his watch. 'Perhaps you should get the car then. If there's a telephone check, I know the routine. '

  'A good thought,' agreed the officer clamping the radio to his belt and taking the bicycle's right handlebar. 'I have no patience with those bureaucratic females who bark like chows. '

  'But you must have,' insisted the guard, laughing. 'And you must take out the lonely ones, the ugly ones, and perform at your best between their legs. Suppose you received a poor report? You could lose this heavenly job. ' 'You mean that feeble-headed peasant you relieved-' 'No, no,' broke in the guard, releasing the bicycle. They seek out the younger ones, the handsome ones, like me. From our photographs, of course. He's different; he pays them

  yuan from his sales of lost items. I sometimes wonder if he makes a profit. '

  'I have trouble understanding you civilians. '

  'Correction, if I may, Colonel. In the true China I am a captain in the Kuomintang. ' Jason was stunned by the younger man's remark. What he had heard was incredible! In the true China I am a captain in the Kuomintang. The true China? Taiwan? Good God, had it started? The war of the two Chinas? Was that what these men were about? Madness! Wholesale slaughter! The Far East would be blown off the face of the earth! Christ! In his hunt for an assassin had he stumbled on the unthinkable"}

  It was too much to absorb, too frightening, too cataclysmic. He had to move quickly, putting all thought on hold, concentrating only on movement. He read the radium dial of his watch. It was 8:54, and he had very little time to do what had to be done. He waited until the army officer bicycled past, then made his way cautiously, silently through the foliage until he saw the fence. He approached it, taking out the penlight from his pocket, flashing it twice to judge the dimensions. They were extraordinary. Its height was no less than 12 feet, and the top angled outwards like the inner barricade of a prison fence with coils of barbed wire strung along the parallel strands of steel. He reached into his back pocket, squeezed the handles together and removed the wirecutter. He then probed with his left hand in the darkness and when he found the criss-crossing wires closest to the ground, he placed the head of the cutter to the lowest.

  Had David Webb not been desperate, and Jason Bourne not furious, the job would not have been accomplished. The fence was no ordinary fence. The gauge of the metal was far, far stronger than that of any barricade enclosing the most violent criminals on earth. Each strand took all the strength Jason had as he manipulated the cutter back and forth until the metal snapped free. And each snap came, but only with the passing of precious minutes.

  Again Bourne looked at the glowing dial of his watch. 9:06. Using his shoulder, his feet digging into the ground, he bent the barely two-foot vertical rectangle inward through the fence. He crawled inside, sweat drenching his body, and lay on the ground breathing heavily. No time. 9:08.

  He rose unsteadily to his knees, shook his head to clear it and started to his right, holding the fence for support until he came to the corner that fronted the parking area. The floodlit gate was 200 feet to his left.

  Suddenly, the first vehicle arrived. It was a Russian Zia limousine, vintage late sixties. It circled into the parking lot and took the first position on the right beside the gatehouse. Six men got out and walked in martial unison towards what was apparently the main path of the bird sanctuary. They disappeared in the dark, the beams of flashlights illuminating their way. Jason watched closely; he would be taking that path.

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