The bourne supremacy, p.13
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.13

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 13

 

  'But not Carlos, not the Jackal,' said Webb, sitting forward.

  'No. At least we can't see a connection. ' i 'What do you see?' asked Marie, sitting on the arm of David's chair. 'What have you learned?'

  The MI6 officer in Kowloon had a great many sensitive papers in his office, any number of which would have brought high prices in Hong Kong. However, only the Treadstone file - the file on Jason Bourne - was taken. That was the confirmation London gave us. It's as though a signal was sent: He's the man we want, only Jason Bourne. '

  'But why?' cried Marie, her hand gripping David's wrist. 'Because someone was killed,' answered Webb quietly. 'And someone else wants the account settled. '

  That's what we've been working on,' agreed McAllister, nodding. 'We've made some progress. '

  'Who was killed?' asked the former Jason Bourne.

  'Before I answer, you should know that all we've got is what our people in Hong Kong could dig up by themselves. By and large it's speculation; there's no proof. '

  'What do you mean "by themselves"? Where the hell were the British? You gave them the Treadstone file!'

  'Because they gave us proof that a man has killed in the name of Treadstone's creation, our creation - you. They weren't about to identify MI6's sources any more than we would turn over our contacts to them. Our people have worked around the clock, probing every possibility, trying to find out who the dead Sixer's main sources were on the assumption that one of them was responsible for his death. They ran down a rumour in Macao, only it turned out to be more than a rumour. '

  'I repeat,' said Webb. 'Who was killed?'

  'A woman,' answered the man from State. The wife of a Hong Kong banker named Yao Ming, a taipan whose bank is only a fraction of his wealth. His holdings are so extensive he's been re- welcomed in Beijing as an investor and consultant. He's influential, powerful, beyond reach. '

  'Circumstances?'

  'Ugly but not unusual. His wife was a minor actress who appeared in a number of locally made films and quite a bit younger than her husband. She was also about as faithful as a mink in season, if you'll excuse-'

  'Please,' said Marie, 'go on. '

  'Nevertheless, he looked the other way; she was his young, beautiful trophy. She was also part of the colony's jet set, which has its share of unsavoury characters. One weekend it's gambling for extraordinary stakes in Macao, next the races in Singapore or flying over to the Pescadores for the pistol games in backwater opium houses, betting thousands on who will be killed as men face one another across tables, spinning chambers and aiming at each other. And, of course, there's a widespread use of drugs. Her last lover was a distributor. His suppliers were in Guangzhou - Canton - his routes up the Deep Bay waterways east of the Lok Ma Chau border. '

  'According to reports, it's a wide avenue with lots of traffic,' interrupted Webb. 'Why did your people concentrate on him - on his operation?'

  'Because his operation, as you so aptly term it, was rapidly becoming the only one in town, or on that avenue. He was systematically cutting out his competitors, bribing the Chinese marine patrols to sink their boats and dispose of the crews. Apparently they were effective; a great many bodies riddled with bullets ended up floating onto the mud flats and into the river banks. The factions were at war and the distributor - the young wife's lover - was marked for execution. '

  'Under the circumstances, he had to have been aware of the possibility. He must have surrounded himself with a dozen bodyguards. '

  'Right again. And that kind of security calls for the talents of a legend. His enemies hired that legend. '

  'Bourne,' whispered David, shaking his head and closing his eyes.

  'Yes,' concurred McAllister. Two weeks ago the drug dealer and Yao Ming's wife were shot in their bed at the Lisboa Hotel in Macao. It wasn't a pleasant kill; their bodies were barely recognizable. The weapon was an Uzi machine gun. The incident was covered up, the police and government officials bribed with a great deal of money - a taipan's money. ' 'And let me guess,' said Webb in a monotone. 'The Uzi. It was the same weapon used in a previous killing credited to this Bourne. '

  'That specific weapon was left outside a conference room in a cabaret in Kowloon's Tsim Sha Tsui. There were five corpses in that room, three of the victims among the colony's wealthier businessmen. The British won't elaborate; they merely showed us several very graphic photographs. '

  'This taipan, Yao Ming,' said David, 'the actress's husband. He's the connection your people found, isn't he?"

  'They learned that he was one of MI6's sources. His connections in Beijing made him an important contributor to intelligence. He was invaluable. '

  'Then, of course, his wife was killed, his beloved young wife-'

  'I'd say his beloved trophy,' interrupted McAllister. 'His trophy was taken. '

  'All right,' said Webb. 'The trophy is far more important than the wife. '

  'I've spent years in the Far East. There's a phrase for it - in Mandarin, I think, but I can't remember how it goes. '

  'Ren you jiagian,' said David. The price of a man's image, as it were. '

  'Yes, I guess that's it. '

  'It'll do. So the man from MI6 is approached by his distraught contact, the taipan, and told to get the file on this Jason Bourne, the assassin who killed his wife - his trophy -or in short words, there might be no more information coming to British Intelligence from his sources in Beijing. '

  'That's the way our people read it. And for his trouble the Sixer is killed because Yao Ming can't afford to have the slightest association with Bourne. The taipan has to remain unreachable, untouchable. He wants his revenge, but not with any possibility of exposure. '

  'What do the British say? asked Marie.

  'In no uncertain terms to stay away from the entire situation. London was blunt. We made a mess of Treadstone, and they don't want our ineptitude in Hong Kong during these sensitive times. '

  'Have they confronted Yao mingy?' Webb watched the undersecretary closely.

  'When I brought up the name, they said it was out of the question. In truth, they were startled, but that didn't change their stand. If anything, they were angrier. '

  'Untouchable,' said David.

  'They probably want to continue using him. '

  'In spite of what he did?' Marie broke in. 'What he may have done, and what he might do to my husband?

  'It's a different world,' said McAllister softly.

  'You co-operated with them-'

  'We had to,' interrupted the man from State.

  'Then insist they co-operate with you. Demand it!'

  'Then they could demand other things from us. We can't do that. '

  'Liars!' Marie turned her head in disgust.

  'I haven't lied to you, Mrs Webb. '

  'Why don't I trust you, Mr McAllister?' asked David.

  'Probably because you can't trust your government, Mr Webb, and you have very little reason to. I can only tell you that I'm a man of conscience. You can accept that or not accept me or not - but in the meantime I'll make sure you're safe.

 
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