The bourne supremacy, p.154
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.154

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 154


  '1 have to go back, that's understandable, too, isn't it, Mo?'

  'David!' screamed Marie, reaching for him.

  'I have to,' said Jason Bourne, gently holding her wrists. 'No one else can do it, it's as simple as that. I know the codes. I know the way. . . Echo traded in his life for mine, believing I'd do it. I'd kill the butcher. I failed then. I won't fail now. '

  'What about us?' Marie clutched him, her voice reverberating off the white walls. 'Don't we matter?'

  'I'll come back, 1 promise you,' said David, removing her arms and looking into her eyes. 'But I have to go back, can't you understand?'

  'For these people? These liars?

  'No, not for them. For someone who wanted to live - above everything. You didn't know him; he was a survivor. But he knew when his life wasn't worth the price of my death. I had to live and do what I had to do. I had to live and come back to you, he knew that, too. He faced the equation and made his decision. Somewhere along the line we all have to make that decision. ' Bourne turned to McAllister. 'Is there anyone here who can take a picture of a corpse?

  'Whose?' asked the undersecretary of state.

  'Mine,' said Jason Bourne.

  Chapter Thirty-four

  The grisly photograph was taken on the white conference table by a sterile house technician under the reluctant supervision of Morris Panov. A bloodstained white sheet covered Webb's body; it was angled across his throat revealing a blood-streaked face, the eyes wide, the features clear.

  'Develop the roll as fast as you can and bring me the contacts,' instructed Conklin.

  Twenty minutes,' said the technician, heading for the door as McAllister entered the room.

  'What's happening?' asked David, sitting up on the table. Marie, wincing, wiped his face with a warm, wet towel.

  'The consulate press people called the media,' replied the undersecretary. 'They said they'd issue a statement in an hour or so, as soon as all the facts were in place. They're mocking one up now. I gave them the scenario with a go-ahead to use my name. They'll work it out with embassy obfuscation and read it to us before issuing it. '

  'Any word on Lin?' asked the CIA man.

  'A message from the doctor. He's still critical but holding on. '

  'What about the press down the road?' asked Havilland. 'We've got to let them in here sooner or later. The longer we wait the more they'll think it's a cover-up. We can't afford that, either. '

  'We've still got some rope in that area,' said McAllister. 'I sent word that the police - at great risks to themselves - were sweeping the grounds for undetonated explosives. Reporters can be very patient under those conditions. Incidentally, in the scenario I gave the press people, I told them to stress the fact that the man who attacked the house was obviously an expert in demolition. '

  Jason Bourne, one of the most proficient demolitions men to come out of Medusa, looked at McAllister. The undersecretary looked away. 'I've got to get out of here,' Jason said. 'I've got to get to Macao as quickly as possible. ' 'David, for God's sake!' Marie stood in front of her husband, staring at him, her voice low and intense.

  'I wish it didn't have to be this way,' said Webb, getting off the table. 'I wish it didn't,' he repeated softly, 'but it does. I have to be in place. I have to start the sequence to reach Sheng before the story breaks in the morning papers, before that photograph appears confirming the message I'm sending through channels he's convinced no one knows about. He's got to believe I'm his assassin, the man he was going to kill, not the Jason Bourne from Medusa who tried to kill him in that forest glen. He has to get word from me - from who he thinks I am - before he's given any other information. Because the information I'm sending him is the last thing he wants to hear. Everything else will seem insignificant. '

  'The bait,' said Alex Conklin. 'Feed him the critical information first and the cover falls in place because he's stunned, preoccupied, and accepts the printed official version, in particular the photograph in the newspapers. '

  'What are you going to tell him?' asked the ambassador, his voice conveying the fact that he disliked the prospect of losing control of this blackest of operations. 'What you told me. Part truth, part lie. ' 'Spell it out, Mr Webb,' said Havilland, firmly. 'We owe you a great deal but-'

  'You owe me what you can't pay me!' snapped Jason Bourne, interrupting. 'Unless you blow your brains out right here in front of me. ' 'I understand your anger but still I must insist. You'll do nothing to jeopardize the lives of five million people, or the vital interests of the United States government. '

  'I'm glad you got the sequence right - for once. All right. Mr Ambassador, I'll tell you. It's what I would have told you before, if you'd had the decency, the decency, to come to me and "state your case". I'm surprised it never occurred to you -no, not surprised, shocked - but I guess I shouldn't be. You believe in your rarefied manipulations, in the trappings of your quiet power. . . you probably think you deserve it all because of your great intellect, or something like that. You're all the same. You relish complexity - and jour explanations of it - so that you can't see when the simple route is a hell of a lot more effective. '

  'I'm waiting to be instructed,' said Havilland, coldly.

  'So be it,' said Bourne. 'I listened very carefully during your ponderous explanation. You took pains to explain why no one could officially approach Sheng and tell him what you knew. You were right, too. He'd have laughed in your face, or spat in your eye, or told you to pound sand - whatever you like. Sure, he would. He's got the leverage. You pursue your "outrageous" accusations, he pulls Peking out of the Hong Kong Accords. You lose. You try to go over his head, good luck. You lose again. You have no proof but the words of several dead men who've had their throats cut, members of the Kuomintang who'd say anything to discredit party officials in the People's Republic. He smiles and, without saying it, lets you know that you'd better go along with him. You figure you can't go along because the risks are too great -if the whistle blows on Sheng, the Far East blows. You were right about that, too - more for the reasons Edward gave us than you did. Peking might possibly overlook a corrupt commission as one of those temporary concessions to greed, but it won't permit a spreading Chinese Mafia to infiltrate its industry or its labour forces or its government. As Edward said, they could lose their jobs-'

  'I'm still waiting, Mr Webb,' said the diplomat.

  'Okay. You recruited me but you forgot the lesson of Treadstone Seventy-one. Send out an assassin to catch an assassin. '

  That's the one thing we did not forget,' broke in the diplomat, now astonished. 'We based everything on it. '

  'For the wrong reasons,' said Bourne sharply. There was a better way to reach Sheng and draw him out for the kill. I wasn't necessary. My wife wasn't necessary! But you couldn't see it. Your superior brain had to complicate everything. '

  'What was it I couldn't see, Mr Webb?

  'Send in a conspirator to catch a conspirator, not officially . . . It's too late for that now but it's what I would have told you. '

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