The bourne supremacy, p.119
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.119

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 119


  ' Whore! Traitor!' The blade came slashing through the air decapitating the woman. Her headless body lurched to the left, her head to the right, both spouting geysers of blood. The orator then swung the sword down, slicing into her remains, but the silence that had fallen on the crowd was heavy, awesome. He stopped; he had lost the moment. He regained it swiftly. 'May the sacred ancestral spirits grant her peace and purification!' he shouted, his eyes roving, stopping, staring at each member of his congregation. 'For it is not in hatred that I end her life, but in compassion for her weakness. She will find peace and forgiveness. The spirits will understand - but we must understand here in the motherland) We cannot deviate from our cause - we must be strong! We must-'

  Bourne had had enough of this maniac. He was hatred incarnate. And he was dead. Some time. Somewhere. Perhaps tonight - if possible, tonight]

  Delta unsheathed his knife and started to his right, crawling through the dense Medusan woods, his pulse strangely quiet, a furious core of certainty growing within him - David Webb had vanished. There were so many things he could not remember from those clouded faraway days, but there was much, too, that came back to him. The specifics were unclear but not his instincts. Impulses directed him, and he was at one with the darkness of the forest. The jungle was not an adversary; instead it was his ally for it had protected him before, saved him before in those distant, disordered memories. The trees and the vines and the underbrush were his friends; he moved through and around them like a wildcat, sure-footed and silent.

  He turned to his left above the ancient glen and began his descent, focusing on the tree where the assassin stood so casually. The orator had once again altered his strategy in dealing with his congregation. He was cutting his losses in place of cutting up another woman - a sight the sons of mothers could barely accept, regardless of any earthly cause. The impassioned pleas of a dead, mutilated female prisoner had to be put out of mind. A master of his craft - his art, perhaps - the orator knew when to revert to the gospel of love, momentarily omitting Lucifer. Aides had swiftly removed the evidence of violent death and the remaining woman was summoned with a gesture of the ceremonial sword. She was no more than eighteen, if that, and a pretty girl, weeping and vomiting as she was dragged forward.

  'Your tears and your illness are not called for, child,' said the orator in his most paternal voice. 'It was always our intent to spare you, for you were asked to perform duties beyond your competence at your age, privileged to learn secrets beyond your understanding. Youth frequently speaks when it should be silent . . . You were seen in the company of two Hong Kong brothers - but not our brothers. Men who work for the disgraced English crown, that enfeebled, decadent government that sold out the Motherland to our tormentors. They gave you trinkets, pretty jewellery and lip rouge and French perfume from Kowloon. Now, child, what did you give them?'

  The young girl, hysterically coughing vomit through her gag, shook her head furiously, the tears streaming down her face.

  'Her hand was beneath a table, between a man's legs, in a caf6 on the Guangquem!' shouted an accuser.

  'It was one of the pigs who work for the British!' added another.

  ' Youth is subject to arousal,' said the orator, looking up at those who had spoken, his eyes glaring as if commanding silence. There is forgiveness in our hearts for such young exuberance - as long as betrayal is no part of that arousal, that exuberance. '

  'She was at the Qian men Gate. . . !'

  'She was not in the Tian an men. I, myself, have determined it!' shouted the man with the sword. 'Your information is wrong. The only question that remains is a simple one. Child! Did you speak of us? Could your words have been conveyed to our enemies here or in the south?'

  The girl writhed on the ground, her whole body swaying frantically back and forth, denying the implied accusation.

  'I accept your innocence as a father would, but not your foolishness, child. You are too free with your associations, your love of trinkets. When these do not serve us, they can be dangerous. '

  The young woman was put in the custody of a smug obese middle-aged member of the chorus for 'instruction and reflective meditation'. From the expression on the older man's face it was clear that his mandate would be far more inclusive than that prescribed. And when he was finished with her, a child-siren who had elicited secrets from the Beijing hierarchy who demanded young girls - in the belief that such liaisons extended their lifespans - would disappear.

  Two of the three remaining Chinese men were literally put on trial. The initial charge was trafficking in drugs, their network the Shanghai-Beijing axis. Their crime, however, was not in the distribution of narcotics but in constantly skimming off the profits, depositing huge sums of money into personal accounts in numerous Hong Kong banks. Several in the audience stepped forward to corroborate the damning evidence, stating that as subordinate distributors they had given the two 'bosses' great sums of cash never recorded in the organization's secret books. That was the initial charge, but not the major one. It came with the orator's high-pitched singsong voice.

  'You travel south to Kowloon. Once, twice, often three times a month. The Kai Tak Airport. . . You! screamed the zealot with the sword, pointing to the prisoner on his left. 'You flew back this afternoon. You were in Kowloon last night. Last night! The Kai Tak! We were betrayed last night at the Kai Tak! The orator walked ominously out of the light of the torches to the two petrified men kneeling in front; 'Your devotion to money transcends your devotion to our cause,' he intoned like a sorrowful but angry patriarch. 'Brothers in blood and brothers in thievery. We've known for many weeks now, known because there was so much anxiety in your greed. Your money had to multiply like rodents in putrid sewers, so you went to the criminal triads in Hong Kong. How enterprising, industrious, and how grossly stupid! You think certain triads are unknown to us or we to them? You think there are not areas where our interests might converge? You think they have less loathing for traitors than

  we do?' The two bound brothers grovelled in the dirt, rising to their knees in supplication, shaking their heads in denial. Their muted cries were pleas to be heard, to be allowed to speak. The orator approached the prisoner on his left and yanked the gag downward, the rope scraping the man's flesh.

  'We betrayed no one, great sir!' he shrieked, 'I betrayed no one! I was at the Kai Tak, yes, but only in the crowds. To observe, sir! To be filled with joy!'

  'To whom did you speak?'

  'No one, great sir! Oh, yes, the clerk. To confirm my flight for the next morning, sir, that was all, I swear on the spirits of our ancestors. My young brother's and mine, sir. '

  'The money. What about the money you stole!'

  'Not stole, great sir. I swear it! We believed in our proud hearts - hearts made proud by our cause - that we could use the money to advantage for the true China! Every yuan of profit was to be returned to the cause?

  The crowd thundered its response. Derisive catcalls were hurled at the prisoners; dual thematic fugues of treachery and theft filled the glen. The orator raised his arms for silence. The voices trailed off.

  'Let the word be spread,' he said slowly with gathering force. 'Those of our growing band who might harbour thoughts of betrayal be warned. There is no mercy in us, for none was shown us. Our cause is righteous and pure and even thoughts of treachery are an abomination. Spread the word. You don't know who we are or where we are - whether a bureaucrat in a ministry or a member of the Security Police. We are nowhere and we are everywhere. Those who waver and doubt are dead . . . The trial of these poisonous dogs is over. It's up to you, my children. '

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