The bourne supremacy, p.122
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.122

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 122


  'For what reason?' asked Sheng, his sword poised.

  'I don't know,' said the British commando. 'I just don't like it, and that's reason enough for me!'

  Ten feet behind the tree, Delta looked at the radium dial of his watch, concentrating on the second hand. He had timed the burning candle in the car, and the time was now. Closing his eyes, pleading with something he could not understand, he grabbed a handful of earth and hurled it high to the right of the tree, arcing it farther to the right of d'Anjou. As he heard the first drops of the shower, Echo raised his voice to the highest roar he could command.

  'Deal with you!' he screamed. 'I would as soon deal with the archangel of darkness! I may yet have to, but then again I may not, for a merciful God will know that you have committed sins beyond any I have approached, and I leave this earth wanting only to take you with me! Apart from your obscene brutality, mon general, you are a fatuous, hollow bore, a cruel joke on your people! Come die with me, General Dung!' With his final words, d'Anjou flung himself at Sheng Chou Yang, clawing at his face, spitting into the wide, astonished eyes. Sheng leaped back swinging the ceremonial sword, slashing the blade into the Frenchman's head. Mercifully quick, it was over for Echo.

  It began! A staccato burst of fireworks filled the glen, resounding through the woods, swelling in intensity as the stunned crowd reacted in shock. Men threw themselves to the ground, others scrambled behind trees and into the underbrush, yelling in panic, frightened for their lives.

  The impostor lurched behind the treetrunk, crouching, a weapon in his hand. Bourne - the silencer affixed to his gun - strode up to the killer and stood over him. He took aim and fired, blowing the weapon out of the other man's hand, the flesh between the commando's thumb and forefinger erupting in blood. The killer spun around, his eyes wide, his mouth gaping in shock. Jason fired again, creasing his opponent's cheekbone.

  'Turn around!' ordered Bourne, shoving the barrel of his gun into the commando's left eye. 'Now, grab the tree! Grab it! Both arms, tight, tighter? Jason rammed the weapon into the back of the killer's neck as he peered around the trunk. Several of the torches that were stuck in the ground had been ripped up, their flames extinguished.

  Another series of explosions came from deeper within the woods. Panicked men began to fire their guns in the direction of sounds. The impostor's leg moved! Then his right hand! Bourne fired two shots directly into the tree; the bullets seared the wood, shattering the bark less than an inch from the commando's skull. He gripped the trunk, his body still, rigid.

  'Keep your head to the left!' said Jason harshly. 'You move once more and it's blown away!' Where was he? Where was the killer maniac with the sword? Delta owed that much to Echo. Where. . . there! The man with the fanatical eyes was rising from the ground, looking everywhere at once, shouting orders to those near him and demanding a weapon. Jason stepped away from the tree and raised his gun. The zealot's head stopped moving. Their eyes met. Bourne fired just as Sheng pulled a guard in front of him. The soldier arched backward, his neck snapping under the impact of the bullets. Sheng held on to the body, using it as a shield, as Jason fired twice more, jolting the guard's corpse. He could not do it! Whoever the maniac was, he was covered by a dead soldier's body! Delta could not do what Echo had told him to do! General Dung would survive! I'm sorry, Echo! No time! Move! Echo was gone . . . Marie!

  The impostor shifted his head, trying to see. Bourne squeezed the trigger. Bark exploded in the killer's face as he whipped his hands up to his eyes, then shook his head, blinking to regain his vision.

  'Get up!' ordered Jason, gripping the assassin's throat and pivoting the commando towards the path he had broken through the underbrush as he came down into the glen. 'You're coming with me!'

  A third series of fireworks, deeper still in the woods, exploded in rapid, overlapping bursts. Sheng Chou Yang screamed hysterically, commanding his followers to go in two directions - towards the vicinity of the tree and after the detonating sounds. The explosions stopped as Bourne propelled his prisoner into the brush, ordering the killer to lie prone, Jason's foot on the back of his neck. Bourne crouched, feeling the ground; he picked up three rocks and threw them in the air one after another past the men searching the area around the tree, each rock thrown farther away. The diversion had its effect.

  'Bu! Caodi nerr

  They began moving forward, weapons at the ready. Several rushed ahead, plunging into the scrub. Others joined them as the fourth and last cannonade of fireworks burst forth. In spite of the distance the reports were as loud or louder than the previous explosions. It was the final stage, the climax of the display, longer and more booming than the explosions preceding it.

  Delta knew that time was now measured in minutes, and if ever a forest was a friend, this one had to be now. In moments, perhaps seconds, men would find the hollow shells of exploded fireworks strewn on the ground and the tactical distraction would be exposed. A massive, hysterical race for the gate would follow.

  'Move! ordered Bourne, grabbing the assassin's hair, pulling him to his feet and shoving him forward. 'Remember, you bastard, there isn't a trick you've learned I haven't perfected, and that makes up for a certain difference in our ages! You look the wrong way, you've got two bullet holes for eye sockets. Move out?

  As they raced up the broken path through the wooded glen, Bourne reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of shells. While the assassin ran in front of him, breathlessly rubbing his eyes and wiping away the blood from his cheek, Jason removed the clip from his automatic, replaced his full complement of bullets, and cracked the magazine back into place. Hearing the sound of a weapon being dismantled, the commando whipped his head around but realized he was too late; the gun was reassembled. Bourne fired, grazing the killer's ear. 'I warned you,' he said, breathing loud but steadily. 'Where do you want it? In the centre of your forehead?' He levelled the automatic in front of him.

  'Good Christ, that butcher was right!' cried the British commando holding his ear. 'You are a madman!'

  'And you're dead unless you move. Faster?

  They reached the corpse of the guard who had been posted on the narrow path leading down to the deep glen. 'Go to the right!' ordered Jason.

  'Where, for Christ's sake? I can't see?'

  There's a path. You'll feel the space. Move!'

  Once on the bird sanctuary's series of dirt thoroughfares, Bourne kept jamming his automatic into the assassin's spine, forcing the killer to run faster, faster! For a moment David Webb returned, and a grateful Delta acknowledged him. Webb was a runner, a ferocious runner, for reasons that went back in time and tortured memories past Jason Bourne to the infamous Medusa. Racing feet and sweat and the wind against his face made living each day easier for David, and at the moment Jason Bourne was breathing hard but nowhere near as breathlessly as the younger, stronger man.

  Delta saw the glow of light in the sky - the gate was through a field and past three dark, twisting paths. No more than half a mile! He fired a shot between the commando's churning legs. 'I want you to run faster!' he said, imposing control on his voice as though the strenuous movement had little effect on him.

  'Jesus, I can't! I've got no wind left!'

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