The bourne supremacy, p.127
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.127

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 127


  'We're desperate,' pleaded the diplomat. 'We need her!'

  'You've also been penetrated, that doesn't seem to sink in. I won't expose her to that. '

  This house is a fortress!'

  'All it takes is one rotten cook in the kitchen. One lunatic on a staircase. ' 'Conklin, listen to me! We picked up a passport check -everything fits. It's him, we know it. Webb's in Peking. Now! He wouldn't have gone in if he wasn't after the target - the only target. If somehow, God knows how, your Delta comes out with the merchandise and his wife isn't in place, he'll kill the one connection we must have! Without it we're lost. We're all lost. '

  'So that was the scenario from the beginning. Reductio ad absurdum. Jason Bourne hunts Jason Bourne. '

  'Yes. Painfully simple, but without the escalating complications he never would have agreed. He'd still be in that old house in Maine, poring over his scholarly papers. We wouldn't have our hunter. '

  'You really are a bastard,' said Conklin slowly, softly, a certain admiration in his voice. 'And you were convinced he could still do it? Still handle this kind of Asia the way he did years ago as Delta?'

  'He has physical checkups every three months, it's part of the government protection programme. He's in superb condition - something to do with his obsessive running, I

  understand. '

  'Start at the beginning. ' The CIA man settled into the chair. 'I want to hear it step by step because I think the rumours are true. I'm in the presence of a master bastard. '

  'Hardly, Mr Conklin,' said Havilland. 'We're all groping. I'll want your comments, of course. '

  'You'll get them. Go ahead. '

  'All right. I'll begin with a name I'm sure you'll recognize. Sheng Chou Yang. Any comment?'

  'He's a tough negotiator, and I suspect that underneath his benevolent exterior there's a ramrod. Still, he's one of the most reasonable men in Peking. There should be a thousand like him. ' 'If there were, the chances of a Far East holocaust would be a thousand times greater. '

  Lin Wenzu slammed his fist down on the desk, jarring the nine photographs in front of him and making the attached summaries of their dossiers leap off the surface. Which? Which one! Each had been certified by London, each background checked and rechecked and triple checked again; there was no room for error. These were not simply well-schooled Zhongguo ren selected by bureaucratic elimination but the products of an intensive search for the brightest minds in government - and in several cases outside government -who might be recruited into this most sensitive of services. It had been Lin's contention that the writing was on the wall -the Great Wall, perhaps - and that a superior special intelligence force manned by the colony's own could well be its first line of defence in the years leading up to 1997, and, in the event of a takeover, its first line of cohesive resistance afterwards. The British had to relinquish leadership in the area of secret intelligence operations for reasons that were as clear as they were' unpalatable to London: the Occidental could never fully understand the peculiar subtleties of the Oriental mind, and these were not the times to render misleading or poorly evaluated information. London had to know - the West had to know- exactly where things stood. . . for Hong Kong's sake, for the sake of the entire Far East.

  Not that Lin believed that his growing task force of intelligence gatherers was pivotal to policy decisions, he did not. But he believed thoroughly, intensely, that if the colony was to have a Special Branch it should be staffed and run by those who could do the job best, and that did not include veterans, however brilliant, of the European-oriented British secret services. For a start, they all looked alike and were not compatible with either the environs or the language. And after years of work and proven-worth, Lin Wenzu had been summoned to London and for three days grilled by unsmiling Far East intelligence specialists. On the morning of the fourth day, however, the smiles had appeared along with the recommendation that the major be given command of the Hong Kong Branch with wide powers of authority. And for a number of years thereafter he had lived up to the commission's confidence, he knew that. He also knew that now, in the single most vital operation of his professional and personal life, he had failed. There were thirty-eight Special Branch officers in his command and he had selected nine -hand picked nine - to be part of this extraordinary, insane operation. Insane until he had heard the ambassador's extraordinary explanation. The nine were the most exceptional of the 38-man task force, each capable of assuming command if their leader was taken out; he had written as much in their evaluation reports. And he had failed. One of the handpicked nine was a traitor.

  It was pointless to re-study the dossiers. Whatever inconsistencies he might find would take too long to unearth for they - or it - had eluded his own experienced eyes as well as London's. There was no time for intricate analyses, the painfully slow exploration of nine individual lives. He had only one choice. A frontal assault on each man, and the word 'front' was intrinsic to his plan. If he could play the role of a taipan, he could play the part of a traitor. He realized that his plan was not without risk - a risk neither London nor the American, Havilland, would tolerate, but it had to be taken. If he failed, Sheng Chou Yang would be alerted to the secret war against him and his counter moves could be disastrous, but Lin Wenzu did not intend to fail. If failure was written on the northern winds nothing else would matter, least of all his life.

  The major reached for his telephone. He pushed the button on his console for the radio operator in the computerized communication centre of MI6, Special Branch.

  'Yes, sir?' said the voice from the white, sterilized room.

  'Who in Dragonfly is still on duty?' asked Lin, naming the elite unit of nine who reported in but never gave explanations.

  'Two, sir. In vehicles Three and Seven, but I can reach the rest in a few minutes. Five have checked in - they're at home -and the remaining two have left numbers. One is at the Pagoda Cinema until eleven-thirty, when he'll return to his flat, but he can be reached by beeper until then. The other is at the Yacht Club in Aberdeen with his wife and her family. She's English, you know. '

  Lin laughed softly. 'No doubt charging the British family's bill to our woefully inadequate budget from London. '

  'Is that possible, Major? If so, would you consider me for Dragonfly, whatever it is?'

  'Don't be impertinent. '

  'I'm sorry, sir-'

  'I'm joking, young man. Next week I'll take you to a fine dinner myself. You do excellent work and I rely on you. '

  'Thank you, sir!'

  The thanks are mine. '

  'Shall I contact Dragonfly and put out an alert?'

  'You may contact each and every one, but quite the opposite of an alert. They've all been overworked, without a clean day off in several weeks. Tell each of them that of course I want any changes of location to be reported, but unless informed otherwise we're secure for the next twenty- four hours, and the men in vehicles Three and Seven may drive them home but not up into the territories for drinks. Tell them I said they should all get a good night's sleep, or however they wish to pass the time. '

  'Yes, sir. They'll appreciate that, sir. '

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