The bourne supremacy, p.133
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.133
 

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 133

 

  'Kai guan qi you? shouted a voice from in front of the hangar, the man pointing at three fuel trucks off to the side, explaining which one was to be used.

  They're gassing up,' said Jason. The plane's taking off again. Let's get on it. ' The assassin turned, his face - that face - pleading. 'For Christ's sake, give me a knife, something?

  'Nothing. '

  'I can help?

  This is my show, Major, not yours. With a knife you'd slice my stomach apart. No way, chap. '

  'Da long xia!' cried the same voice from in front of the hangar, describing government officials in terms of large crayfish. 'Fang song,' he continued, telling everyone to relax, that the plane would taxi away from the terminal and the first of the three fuel trucks should be driven out to meet it.

  The officials disembarked; the jet circled in place and began charging back over the runway while the tower instructed the pilot where he would refuel. The truck raced out; men leaped from the carriage and began pulling the hoses from their recesses.

  'It'll take about ten minutes,' said the assassin. 'It's a Chinese version of an upgraded DC-Three. '

  The aircraft came to a stop, the engines cut as rolling ladders were pushed to the wings and men scaled them. The fuel tanks were opened, the nozzles inserted amid constant chatter between the maintenance crews. Suddenly, the hatch door in the centre of the fuselage was reopened, the metal steps slapping down to the ground. Two men in uniform walked out.

  The pilot and his flight officer,' said Bourne, 'and they're not stretching their legs. They're checking every damn thing those people are doing. We'll time this very carefully, Major, and when I say move, you move. '

  'Straight to the hatch,' agreed the assassin. 'When the second bloke hits the first step. '

  That's about it. '

  'Diversion?'

  'In what way?'

  'You had a pretty fancy one last night. You had your own Yank Fourth of July, you did. '

  'Wrong way. Besides, I used them all up. . . Wait a minute. The fuel truck. '

  'You blow it, there goes the plane. Also, you couldn't time it to the blokes getting back on board. '

  'Not that truck,' said Jason, shaking his head and staring beyond the commando. The one over there. ' Bourne gestured at the nearer of the two red trucks directly in front of them, about a hundred feet away. 'If it went up, the first order of business would be to get the plane out of there. '

  'And we'd be a lot closer than we are now. Let's do it. '

  'No,' corrected Jason. 'You'll do it. Exactly the way I tell you with my gun inches from your head. Move!'

  The assassin in front, they raced out to the truck, covered by the dim light and the commotion around the plane. The pilot and his flight officer were shining flashlights over the engines and barking impatient orders to the maintenance crews. Bourne ordered the commando to crouch down in front of him as he knelt over the open knapsack and withdrew the roll of gauze. He removed the hunting knife from his belt, pulled a coiled hose off its rack, dropping it to the ground, and slid his left hand to the base where it entered the tank. ''Check them,' he told the commando. 'How much longer? And move slowly, Major. I'm watching you. ' 'I said I wanted out. I'm not going to screw up!' 'Sure you want out, but I've got a hunch you'd rather go it alone. '

  'The thought never occurred to me. ' Then you're not my man. ' Thanks a lot. '

  'No, I meant it. The thought would have occurred to me. . . How much longer?'

  'Between two and three minutes, as I judge. ' 'How good is your judgement?'

  Twenty-odd missions in Oman, Yemen and points south. Aircraft similar in structure and mechanism. I know it all, sport. It's old hat. Two to three minutes, no more than that. ' 'Good. Get back here. ' Jason pricked the hose with his knife and made a small incision, enough to permit a steady stream of fuel to flow out, but little enough so that the pump barely operated. He rose to his feet, covering the assassin with his gun as he handed him the roll of gauze. 'Pull out about six feet and drench it with the fuel that's leaking down there. ' The killer knelt down and followed Bourne's instructions. 'Now,' continued Jason, 'stuff the end into the slit where I've cut the hose. Farther - farther. Use your thumb!' 'My arm's not what it used to be!' 'Your left hand is! Press harder? Bourne looked quickly over at the refuelling -refuelled - aircraft. The commando's judgement had been accurate. Men were climbing off the wings and winding the hoses back into the fuel truck. Suddenly, the pilot and the flight officer were making their final check. They would head for the hatch door in less than a minute! Jason reached into his pocket for matches and threw them down in front of the assassin, his weapon levelled at the killer's head. 'Light it. Now?

  'It'll go up like a goddamned stick of nitro! It'll blow us both into the sky, especially mel'

  'Not if you do it right! Lay the gauze on the grass, it's wet-'

  'Retarding the fire-?'

  'Hurry up! Do it!'

  'Done!' The flame leaped up from the end of the cloth strip, then instantly fell back and began its gradual march up the gauge. 'Bloody technician,' said the commando under his breath as he rose to his feet.

  'Get in front of me,' ordered Bourne as he strung the knapsack to his belt. 'Start walking straight forward. Lower your height and shrink your shoulders like you did in Lo Wu. '

  'Jesus Christ! You were-?'

  'Move!'

  The fuel truck began backing away from the plane, then circled forward, swinging around the rolling ladders, heading to its left beyond where the first red truck was parked . . . and circling again, now to the right behind both stationary trucks to take up its position next to the one with the lighted gauze heading into its fuel tank. Jason whipped his head around, his eyes riveted on the fired tape. It had burst into its final flame! One spark entering the leaking valve and the exploding tank would send hot metal into its sister trucks' vulnerable shells. Any second!

  The pilot gestured to his flight officer. They marched together towards the hatch door.

  'Faster!' yelled Bourne. 'Be ready to run!'

  When?'

  'You'll know. Keep your shoulders low! Bend your spine, goddamn it!' They turned right towards the plane, passing through an oncoming crowd of maintenance personnel heading back to the hangar. 'Gongju ne?' cried Jason, admonishing a colleague for having left behind a valuable set of tools by the aircraft.

  'Gongju?' shouted a man at the end of the crowd, grabbing Bourne's arm and holding up a toolbox. Their eyes met and the crewman was stunned, his face contorted in shock. 'Tian a!' he screamed.

  It happened. It was too late for even consequential revelations. The fuel truck exploded, sending erratic pillows of fire pulsating into the sky as deadly shards of twisted metal pierced the space above and to the sides of the flaming vehicle. The crews screamed en masse; men raced in all directions, most to the protection of the hangar.

  'Run!' shouted Jason. The assassin did not have to be told; both men raced to the plane and the hatch door, where the pilot, who had climbed inside, was peering out in astonishment, while the flight officer remained frozen on the ladder. 'Kuair yelled Bourne, keeping his face in the shadows and forcing the commando's head down on the metal steps. 'Wei fengi' he added, screaming, telling the pilot to get out of the fire zone for the safety of the plane - that he was maintenance and would secure the hatchway.

 
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