The bourne supremacy, p.151
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.151

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 151


  That's a great leap forward no one over here's been able to accomplish in the last forty years,' said Conklin.

  'Who would dare try?' asked McAllister. 'If a person can be executed for stealing fifty yuan, who's going to go for a hundred thousand? It takes protection, organization, people in high places. This is what Peking fears, why it's paranoid. The leaders are terrified of corruptors in high places. The political infrastructure could be eroded. The leaders would lose control, and that they will not risk. Again, their fears are paranoid, but for them they're terribly real. Any hint that powerful criminal factions are in league with internal conspirators, infiltrating their economy, would be enough for them to disown the Accords and send their troops down into Hong Kong. '

  'Your conclusion's obvious,' said Marie. 'But where's the logic? How could it happen?'

  'It's happening, Mrs Webb,' answered Ambassador Havilland. 'It's why we needed Jason Bourne. '

  'Somebody had better start at the beginning,' said David. The diplomat did. 'It began over thirty years ago when a brilliant young man was sent from Taiwan back to the land of his father's birth and given a new name, a new family. It was a long- range plan, its roots in zealotry and revenge. . . '

  Webb listened as the incredible story of Sheng Chou Yang unfolded, each block in place, each fact convincingly the truth for there was no reason any longer for lies. Twenty-seven minutes later, when he had finished, Havilland picked up a black-bordered file folder. He lifted the cover, revealing a clasped sheaf of some seventy-odd pages, closed it and reached over, placing it in front of David. This is everything we know, everything we've learned - the detailed specifics of everything I've told you. It can't leave this house except as ashes, but you're welcome to read it. If you have any doubts or questions, I swear to you I'll move every source in the United States government - from the Oval Office to the National Security Council - to satisfy you. I could do no less. ' The diplomat paused, his eyes fixed on Webb's. 'Perhaps we have no right to ask it, but we need your help. We need all the information you can give us. '

  'So you can send someone in to take out this Sheng Chou Yang. '

  'Essentially, yes. But it's far more complex than that. Our hand must be invisible. It can't be seen or even remotely suspected. Sheng's covered himself brilliantly. Peking looks upon him as a visionary, a great patriot who works slavishly for Mother China, you might say a saint. His security is absolute. The people around him, his aides, his guards, they're his protective shock troops, their allegiance is solely to him. '

  'Which is why you wanted the impostor,' interrupted Marie. 'He was your link to Sheng. '

  'We knew he had accepted contracts from him. Sheng had to - has to - eliminate his opposition, both those who oppose him ideologically and those he intends to exclude from his operations. '

  'In this latter group,' broke in McAllister, 'are the leaders of rival triads Sheng doesn't trust, that the fanatics of the Kuomintang don't trust. He knows that if they're around to see that they're being squeezed out, a destabilizing gangland war would erupt which Sheng couldn't tolerate any more than the British can with Peking up the street. Within the past two months seven triad overlords have been killed, their organizations crippled. '

  The new Jason Bourne was Sheng's perfect solution,' continued the ambassador. The hired assassin with no political or national ties; for above all, the killings could never be traced back to China. '

  'But he went to Peking,' objected Webb. 'It's where I tracked him. Even if it started out as a trap for me, which it was-'

  'A trap for you?' exclaimed Havilland. They knew about you?'

  'I came face to face with my successor two nights ago at the airport. We each knew who the other was - it was impossible not to know. He wasn't going to keep it a secret and take the fall for a failed contract. '

  'It was you,' interrupted McAllister. 'I knew it!'

  'So did Sheng and his people. I was the new gun in town and had to be stopped, killed on a priority-one basis. They couldn't risk what I'd pieced together. The trap was conceived that night, set that night. '

  'Jesus' cried Conklin. 'I read about Kai Tak in Washington. The papers said it was assumed to be right-wing lunatics. Keep the commies out of capitalism. Instead, it was you?

  'Both governments had to come up with something for the world press,' added the undersecretary. 'Just as we have to say something about tonight-' 'My point is,' said David, ignoring McAllister. 'This Sheng called for the commando, used him to mount a trap for me, and by doing so made him part of the inner circle. That's no way for a concealed client to keep his distance from a hired killer. '

  'It is as if he didn't expect him to walk out of that circle alive,' replied Havilland, glancing at the undersecretary of state. 'It's Edward's theory, and one to which I subscribe, that when the final contract was carried out or when it was deemed that he knew too much and was therefore a liability, the impostor was to be killed collecting a payment -believing, of course, that he was being given another assignment. Everything untraceable, the slate clean. The events at Kai Tak no doubt sealed his death warrant. '

  'He wasn't smart enough to see it,' said Jason Bourne. 'He couldn't think geometrically. '

  'I beg your pardon?' asked the ambassador.

  'Nothing,' answered Webb, again staring at the diplomat. 'So everything you told me was part truth, part lie. Hong

  Kong could blow apart, but not for the reasons you gave me. '

  'The truth was our credibility, you had to accept that, accept our deep, frightening concerns. The lies were to recruit you. ' Havilland leaned back in his chair. 'And I can't be any more honest than that. '

  'Bastards,' said Webb, his voice low, ice-like.

  'I'll grant you that,' agreed Havilland. 'But as I mentioned before, there were extenuating circumstances, specifically two. The crisis and yourself. '

  'And?' said Marie.

  'Let me ask you, Mr Webb-. . . Mrs Webb. If we had come to you and stated our case, would you have joined forces with us? Would you willingly have become Jason Bourne again?5

  Silence. All eyes were on David as his own strayed blankly over the surface of the table, then rested on the file folder. 'No,' he said softly. 'I don't trust you. '

  'We knew that,' agreed Havilland, again nodding his head. 'But from our point of view we had to recruit you. You were able to do what no one else could do, and insofar as you did it, I submit that that judgement was correct. The cost was terrible, no one underestimates it, but we felt - I felt - that there was no other choice. Time and the consequences were against us - are against us. '

  'As much as before,' said Webb. 'The commando's dead. '

  The commando?' McAllister leaned forward.

  'Your assassin. The impostor. What you did to us was all for nothing. '

  'Not necessarily,' objected Havilland. 'It will depend on what you can tell us. News of a death up here will be in tomorrow's headlines, we can't stop it, but Sheng can't know whose death. No photographs were taken, no press was here at the time, and those who've arrived since have been cordoned off several hundred yards away by the police. We can control the information by simply providing it. '

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