The bourne supremacy, p.12
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.12

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 12

  'It's the wrong ballpark!' David was adamant, his breath short.

  'Jason Bourne wasn't the creation of the police authorities,' said Marie, going to her husband's side. 'He was created by US Intelligence by way of the State Department. But I suspect MI6 inserted itself for a far more pressing reason than to find a killer posing as Jason Bourne. Am I right, Mr McAllister?

  'You're right, Mrs Webb. Far more. In our discussions these last two days, several members of our section thought you'd understand more clearly than we did. Let's call it an economic problem that could lead to serious political

  turmoil, not only in Hong Kong but throughout the world. You were a highly regarded economist for the Canadian Government. You advised Canadian ambassadors and delegations all over the world. '

  'Would you both mind explaining to the man who balances the chequebook around here?

  'These aren't the times to permit disruptions in Hong Kong's marketplace, Mr Webb, even - perhaps especially its illegal marketplace. Disruptions accompanied by violence give the impression of government instability, if not far deeper instability. This isn't the time to give the expansionists in Red China any more ammunition than they have already. '

  'Come again, please?"

  'The treaty of 1997,' answered Marie quietly. 'The lease runs out in barely a decade, which is why the new accords were negotiated with Peking. Still, everybody's nervous, everything's shaky and no one had better rock the boat. Calm stability is the name of the game. '

  David looked at her, then back at McAllister. He nodded his head. 'I see. I've read the papers and the magazines. . . but it's just not a subject that I know a hell of a lot about. '

  'My husband's interests lie elsewhere,' explained Marie to McAllister. 'In the study of people, their civilizations. '

  'All right,' Webb agreed. 'So?'

  ' Mine are with money and the constant exchange of money - the expansion of it, the markets and their fluctuations - the stability, or lack of it. And if Hong Kong is nothing else, it's money. That's more or less its only commodity; it has little other reason for being. Its industries would die without it; without priming, the pump runs dry. '

  'And if you take away the stability you have chaos,' added McAllister. 'It's the excuse for the old warlords in China. The People's Republic marches in to contain the chaos, suppress the agitators, and suddenly there's nothing left but an awkward giant fumbling with the entire colony as well as the New Territories. The cooler heads in Beijing are ignored in favour of more aggressive elements who want to save face through military control. Banks collapse, Far East trade is stymied. Chaos. '

  'The PRC would do that?'

  'Hong Kong, Kowloon, Macao and all the territories are part of their so-called "great nation under heaven", even the China Accords make that clear. It's one entity, and the Oriental won't tolerate a disobedient child, you know that. '

  'Are you telling me that one man pretending to be Jason Bourne can do this - can bring about this kind of crisis? I don't believe you!'

  'It's an extreme scenario, but yes, it could happen. You see, the myth rides with him, that's the hypnotic factor. Multiple killings are ascribed to him, if Only to distance the real killers from the scenes - conspirators from the politically fanatic right and left using Bourne's lethal image as their own. When you think about it, it's precisely the way the myth itself was created. Whenever anyone of importance anywhere in the South China area was assassinated, you, as Jason Bourne, made sure the kill was credited to you. At the end of two years you were notorious, yet in fact you killed only one man, a drunken informer in Macao who tried to garrotte you. '

  'I don't remember that,' said David.

  The man from State nodded sympathetically. 'Yes, I was told. But don't you see, if the killings are perceived as political and powerful figures - let's say the Crown governor, or a PRC negotiator, anyone like that - is assassinated, the whole colony is in an uproar. ' McAllister paused, shaking his head in weary dismissal. 'However, this is our concern, not yours, and I can tell you we have the best men in the intelligence community working on it. Your concern is yourself, Mr Webb. And right now, as a matter of conscience, it's mine. You have to be protected. '

  That file,' said Marie coldly, 'should never have been given to anyone?

  'We had no choice. We work closely with the British; we had to prove that Treadstone was over, finished. That your husband was thousands of miles away from Hong Kong. '

  'You told them where he was?' shouted Webb's wife. 'How dare you?" 'We had no choice,' repeated McAllister, again rubbing his forehead. 'We have to co-operate when certain crises arise.

  Surely you can understand that. '

  'What I can't understand is why there ever was a file on my husband!' said Marie, furious. 'It was deep, deep, cover?

  'Congressional funding of intelligence operations demanded it. It's the law. '

  'Get off it!' said David angrily. 'Since you're so up on me, you know where I come from. Tell me, where are all those records on Medusa?

  'I can't answer that,' replied McAllister.

  'You just did,' said Webb.

  'Dr Panov pleaded with you people to destroy all the Treadstone records,' insisted Marie. 'Or at the very least to use false names, but you wouldn't even do that. What kind of men are you?

  'I would have agreed to both? said McAllister with sudden, surprising force. 'I'm sorry, Mrs Webb. Forgive me. It was before my time. . . Like you, I'm offended. You may be right, perhaps there never should have been a file. There are ways-'

  'Bullshit,' broke in David, his voice hollow. 'It's part of another strategy, another trap. You want Carlos, and you don't care how you get him. '

  'I care, Mr Webb, and you don't have to believe that, either. What's the Jackal to me - or the Far East Section? He's a European problem. '

  'Are you telling me I spent three years of my life hunting a man who didn't mean a goddamned thing?5

  'No, of course not. Times change, perspectives change. It's all so futile sometimes. '

  'Jesus Christ!'

  'Loosen up, David,' said Marie, her attention briefly on the man from State, who sat pale in his chair, his hands gripping the arms. 'Let's all loosen up. ' Then she held her husband's eyes with her own. 'Something happened this afternoon, didn't it?

  'I'll tell you later, '

  'Of course. ' Marie looked at McAllister as David sank back in his chair, his face lined and tired, older than it had been only minutes ago. 'Everything you've told us is leading up to something, isn't it?' she said to the man from State. There's something else you want us to know. '

  'Yes, and it's not easy for me. Please bear in mind that I've only recently been assigned, with full clearance, to Mr Webb's classified dossier. '

  'Including his wife and children in Cambodia?'

  'Yes. '

  'Then say what you have to say, please. '

  McAllister once again extended his thin fingers and nervously massaged his forehead. 'From what we've learned -what London confirmed five hours ago - it's possible that your husband is a target. A man wants him killed. '

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