The bourne supremacy, p.160
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.160

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 160


  'All right, I'll say it now. As the assassin, you're the link to Sheng, the one to reach him, but I'm the one who can draw him out. '


  'It was the reason I told the embassy to use my name in the press release. You see, Sheng knows me and I listened carefully when you outlined your conspirator-for-a-con-spirator theory to Havilland. He didn't buy it and frankly I didn't either. Sheng wouldn't accept a conference with an unknown person, but he will with someone he knows. '

  'Why with you?'

  'Part truth, part lie,' said the analyst, repeating Bourne's words.

  Thanks for listening so carefully. Now explain that. '

  The truth first, Mr Webb, or Bourne, or whatever you want to be called. Sheng is aware of both my contributions to my government and my obvious lack of progress. I'm a bright

  but unseen, unknown bureaucrat who's been passed over because I lack those qualities that could elevate me, lead me to a degree of prominence and to lucrative jobs in the private sector. In a way, I'm like Alexander Conklin without his drinking problem, but not without a degree of his bitterness. I was as good as Sheng and he knew it, but he made it and I didn't. '

  'A touching confession,' said Jason, impatiently again. 'But why would he meet you? How could you draw him out -for a kill, Mr Analyst, and I trust you know what that means?' 'Because I want a piece of that Hong Kong pie of his. I was nearly killed last night. It was the final indignity and now after all these years I want something for myself, for my family. That's the lie. ' 'You're on tenth base. I can't find you. ' 'Because you're not listening between the lines. That's what I'm paid to do, remember?. . . I've had it. I'm at the end of my professional rope. I was sent over here to trace down and analyse a rumour out of Taiwan. This rumour about an economic conspiracy in Peking seemed to me to have substance and if it was true, there could be only one source in Peking: my old counterpart from the Sino-American trade conferences, the power behind China's new trade policies. Nothing like this could be done without him, not even contemplated. So I assumed there was at best enough substance for me to contact him, not to blow the whistle but officially to dispose of the rumour for a price. I could even go so far as to say I see nothing against my government's interests, and certainly not against mine. The main point is that he'd have to meet me. ' 'Then what?'

  'Then you'd tell me what to do. You said a demolitions "grunt" could do it so why can't I? Except not with explosives, I couldn't handle that. A weapon instead. ' 'You'd get killed. ' 'I'll accept the risk. ' 'Why?' 'Because it has to be done. Havilland's right about that. And the instant Sheng sees you're not the impostor, that you're the original assassin, the one who tried to kill him in that bird sanctuary, his guards would cut you down. '

  'I never intended him to see me,' said Bourne, quietly. 'You were going to take care of that, but not this way. '

  In the shadows of the dark storefront, McAllister stared at the Medusan. 'You're taking me with you, aren't you?' asked the analyst finally. 'You'll force me if you have to. '

  'Yes. '

  'I thought so. You wouldn't have agreed so readily to my coming with you to Macao. You could have told me how to reach Sheng back at the airport-and demanded that we give you a certain amount of time before we acted. We wouldn't have violated it; we're too frightened. Regardless, you can see now that you don't have to force me. I even brought along my diplomatic passport. ' McAllister paused for a single beat, then added. 'And a second one that I removed from the technicians' file - it belongs to that tall fellow who took the picture of you on the table. '

  'You what?

  'All State Department technical personnel dealing in classified matters must surrender their passports. It's a security measure and for their own protection-'

  'I have three passports,' interrupted Jason. 'How the hell do you think I get around?1

  'We knew you had at least two based on old Bourne records. You used one of the previous names flying into Peking, the one that said you had brown eyes, not hazel. How did you manage that?

  'I wore glasses - clear glass. By way of a friend who uses an odd name and is better than anyone you've got. '

  'Oh, yes. A black photographer and ID specialist who calls himself Cactus. Actually, he worked secretly for Treadstone, but then you obviously remembered that, or the fact that he used to come and visit you in Virginia. According to the records he had to be let go because he deals with criminal elements. '

  . 'If you touch him I'll blow you out of the bureaucratic water?'

  There's no intention of doing so. Right now, however, we'll simply transfer the photograph that best suits the features described in the technician's passport. ' 'It's a waste of time. '

  'Not at all. ' Diplomatic passports have considerable advantages, especially over here. They eliminate the time-consuming process of a temporary visa, and although I'm sure you have sources to buy one, this is easier. China wants our money, Mr Bourne, and our technology. We'll be passed through quickly and Sheng will be able to check immigration and ascertain that I am who I say I am. We'll also be provided with priority transportation if we want it and that might be important, depending upon our sequential telephone conversations with Sheng and his aides. '

  'Our sequential what?'

  'You'll talk with his subordinates in whatever sequence is required. I'll tell you what to say but when the final clearance is given, I'll speak with Sheng Chou Yang. '

  'You're & flake? yelled Jason, as much into the dark glass of the storefront as at McAllister. 'You're an amateur in this kind of thing!'

  'In what you do, I am, indeed. But not in what I do. '

  'Why didn't you tell Havilland about this grand plan of yours?'

  'Because he wouldn't have permitted it. He would have placed me under house arrest because he thinks I'm inadequate. He'll always think so. I'm not a performer. I don't have those glib answers that ring with sincerity but are also woefully uninformed. This, however, is different, and the performers see it so clearly because it's all part of their global, macho theatrics. Economics aside, this is a conspiracy to undermine the leadership of a suspicious, authoritarian regime. And who's at the core of this conspiracy that has to fail? Who are these infiltrators whom Peking trusts as its own? China's most deeply committed enemies - their own brothers from the Kuomintang on Taiwan. Again, to use the vernacular, when the shit hits the fan - as it surely will - the performers on all sides will step up to the podiums and scream their screams of treason and righteous "internal revolt" because there's nothing else the performers can do. The embarrassment's total, complete and, on the world stage, massive embarrassment leads to massive violence. '

  It was Bourne's turn to stare at the analyst. As he did, Marie's words came to him, from a different context but not irrelevant in the present case. That's not an answer,' he said. 'It's a point of view, but it's not an answer. Why now? I hope it's not to prove your decency. That would be very foolish. Very dangerous. '

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