The bourne supremacy, p.134
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.134

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 134


  A second truck blew up, the opposing walls of explosives forming a volcanic eruption of fire and spewing metal.

  'You're right!' shouted the pilot in Chinese, grabbing his officer co-pilot by the shirt and pulling him inside; both raced up the short aisle to the flight deck.

  It was the moment, thought Jason. He wondered. 'Get in!' he ordered the commando as the third fuel truck blasted over the field and into the early light.

  'Right!' yelled the assassin, raising his head and straightening his body for the leap up the steps. Then suddenly, as another deafening explosion took place and the plane's engines roared, the killer spun round on the ladder, his right foot plunging towards Bourne's groin, his hand lashing out to deflect the weapon.

  Jason was ready. He crashed the barrel of his gun into the commando's ankle, then swung it up, smashing it across his temple; blood flowed as the killer fell back into the fuselage. Bourne leaped up the steps, kicking the unconscious body of the impostor back, across the metal floor. He yanked the hatchway into place, slamming the latches down, and securing the door. The plane began to taxi, instantly swerving to the left away from the flaming centre of danger. Jason ripped the knapsack from his belt, pulled out a second length of nylon rope and tied the assassin's wrists to two widely separated seat clamps. There was no way the commando could free himself- none that Bourne could think of- but just in case he was mistaken, Jason cut the rope attached to the assassin's ankles, separated his legs and tied each foot to the opposite clamps across the aisle.

  He got up and started towards the flight deck. The aircraft was now on the runway, racing down the blacktop; suddenly the engines were cut. The plane was stopping in front of the terminal, where the group of government officials was gathered, watching the ever-growing conflagrations taking place less than a quarter of a mile away to the north.

  'Kai bar said Bourne, placing the barrel of his automatic against the back of the pilot's head. The co-pilot whirled around in his seat. Jason spoke in clear Mandarin as he shifted his arm. 'Watch your dials, and prepare for takeoff, then give me your maps. '

  'They will not clear us!' yelled the pilot. 'We are to pick up five outgoing commissioners!'

  To where?

  'Baoding. '

  'That's north,' said Bourne.

  'Northwest,' insisted the co-pilot.

  'Good. Head south. '

  'It will not be permitted!' shouted the pilot.

  'Your first duty is to save the aircraft. You don't know what's going on out there. It could be sabotage, a revolt, an uprising. Do as I tell you, or you're both dead. I really don't care. '

  The pilot snapped his head around and looked up at Jason. 'You are a Westerner! You speak Chinese but you are a Westerner. What are you doing?'

  'Commandeering this aircraft. You've got plenty of runway left. Take off South! And give me the maps. '

  The memories came back. Distant sounds, distant sights, distant thunder.

  'Snake lady, snake lady! Respond! What are your sector co-ordinates?'

  They were heading towards Tarn Quan and Delta would not break silence. He knew where they were and that was all that mattered. Command Saigon could go to hell, he wasn't about to give the North Viet monitoring posts an inkling as to where they were going. 'If you won't or can't respond, Snake Lady, stay below six hundred feet! This is a friend talking, you assholes! You don't have many down here! Their radar will pick you up over six-fifty. '

  I know that, Saigon, and my pilot knows it, even if he doesn't like it, and I still won't break silence.

  'Snake Lady, we've completely lost you! Can any retard on that mission read an air map?'

  Yes, I can read one very well, Saigon. Do you think he'd go up with my team trusting any of you? Goddamnit, that's my brother down there! Fm not important to you but he is!

  'You're crazy, Western man!' yelled the pilot. 'In the name of the spirits, this is a heavy aircraft and we're barely over the treetops!' 'Keep your nose up,' said Bourne, studying a map. 'Dip and grab altitude, that's all. '

  That is also foolishness!' shouted the co-pilot. 'One downdraught at this level and we are into the forests! We are gone!

  'The weather reports on your radio say there's no turbulence anticipated-'

  'That is above? screamed the pilot. 'You don't understand the risks! Not down here?

  'What was the last report out of Jinan?' asked Jason, knowing full well what it "was.

  'They have been trying to track this flight to Baoding,' said the officer. They have been unable to do so for the past three hours. They are now searching the Hengshui mountains . . . Great spirits, why am I telling you! You heard the reports yourself! You speak better than my parents, and they were educated!'

  Two points for the Republic's Air Force . . . Okay, take a hundred and sixty degree turn in two and a half minutes and climb to an altitude of a thousand feet. We'll be over water. '

  'We'll be in range of the Japanese! They'll shoot us down!'

  'Put out a white flag - or better still, I'll get on the radio. I'll think of something. They may even escort us to Kowloon. '

  'Kowloon? shrieked the flight officer. 'We'll be shot?

  'Entirely possible,' agreed Bourne, 'But not by me,' he added. 'You see, in the final analysis, I have to get there without you. As a matter of fact, you can't even be a part of my scene. I can't allow that. '

  'You're making positively no sense!' said the exasperated pilot.

  'You just make a hundred and sixty degree turn when I tell you. ' Jason studied the airspeed, calibrating the knots on the map and calculating the estimated distance he wanted. Below, through the window, he saw the coast of China fall behind them. He looked at his watch; ninety seconds had passed. 'Make your turn, Captain,' he said.

  'I would have made it anyway!' cried the pilot. 'I am not the divine wind of the Kamikaze. I do not fly into my own death. '

  'Not even for your heavenly government?'

  'Least of all. '

  Times change,' said Bourne, his concentration once more on the air map. Things change. '

  'Snake lady, snake lady! Abort! If you can hear me get out of there and return to base camp. It's a no-win! Do you readme? Abort!'

  'What do you want to do, Delta?'

  'Keep flying, Mister. In three more minutes you can get out of here. '

  'That's me. What about you and your people?'

  'We'll make it. '

  'You're suicidal, Delta. ' 'Tell me about it. . . All right, everyone check your chutes and prepare for cast off. Someone help Echo, put his hand on the cord. '


  The airspeed held steady at close to 370 miles per hour. The route Jason chose, flying at low altitude through the

  Formosa Strait - past Longhai and Shantou on the Chinese coast, and Hsinchu and Fengshan on Taiwan - was something over 1435 miles. Therefore the estimate of four hours, plus or minus minutes, was reasonable. The out islands north of Hong Kong would be visible in less than half an hour.

  Twice during the flight they had been challenged by radio, once from the Nationalist garrison on Quemoy, the other from a patrol plane out of Raoping. Each time Bourne took over communications, explaining in the first instance that they were on a search mission for a disabled ship bringing Taiwanese goods into the mainland, for the second a somewhat more ominous declaration that as part of the People's Security Forces they were scouting the coast for contraband vessels that had undoubtedly eluded the Raoping patrols. For this last communication he was not only unpleasantly arrogant but also used the name and the official - highly classified - identification number of a dead conspirator who lay underneath a Russian limousine in the Jing Shan Bird Sanctuary. Whether either interrogator believed him or not was, as he expected, irrelevant. Neither cared to disturb the status quo ante. Life was complicated enough. Let things be, let them go. Where was the threat? 'Where's your equipment?'
asked Jason, addressing the pilot.

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