The bourne supremacy, p.163
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.163

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 163

 

  The code word is "crisis" and you have three hours, said Bourne, hanging up the phone.

  'This is crazy!' Jason stepped out of the open glass booth in the all-night telephone complex and looked angrily at McAllister.

  'You did it very well,' said the analyst, writing on a small notepad. 'I'll pay the bill. ' The undersecretary started towards the raised platform where the operators accepted payments for international calls.

  'You're missing the point,' continued Bourne at McAllister's side, his voice low, harsh. 'It can't work. It's too unorthodox, too obvious for anyone to buy it. '

  'If you were demanding a meeting I'd agree with you, but you're not. You're only asking for a telephone conversation. '

  'I'm asking him to acknowledge the core of his whole goddamned scam! That he is the core!'

  To quote you again,' said the analyst, picking up the bill on the counter and holding out money, 'he can't afford not to respond. He has to. '

  'With preconditions that'll throw you out of the box. '

  'I'll want your input in such matters, of course. ' McAllister took his change, nodding thanks to the weary female operator, and started for the door, Jason beside him.

  'I may not have any input to give. '

  'Under the circumstances, you mean,' said the analyst, as they stepped out onto the crowded pavement.

  'What?

  'It's not the strategy that upsets you, Mr Bourne, because it's basically your strategy. What makes you furious is that I'm the one implementing it, not you. Like Havilland you don't think I'm capable. ' 'I don't think this is the time or the occasion for you to prove you're Machine Gun Kelly! If you fail, your life's the last thing that concerns me. Somehow the Far East comes first, the world comes first. '

  'There's no way I can fail. I told you, even if I fail, I don't. Sheng loses no matter whether he lives or not. In seventy-two hours the consulate in Hong Kong will make sure of it. '

  'Premeditated self-sacrifice isn't something I approve of,' said Jason, as they started up the street. 'Self-deluding heroics always get in the way and screw things up. Besides, your so-called strategy reeks of a trap. They'll smell it!'

  'They would if you negotiated with Sheng and not me. You tell me it's unorthodox, too obvious, the movements of an amateur. That's fine. When Sheng hears me on the phone, everything will fall into place for him. I am the embittered amateur, the man who's never been in the field, the first-rate bureaucrat who's been passed over by the system he's served so well. I know what I'm doing, Mr Bourne. You just get me a weapon. '

  The request was not difficult to fulfil. Over in Macao's Porto Interior, on the Rua das Lorchas, was d'Anjou's flat which was a minor arsenal of weapons, the tools of the Frenchman's trade. It was simply a matter of getting inside and selecting those arms most easily dismantled so as to cross the relatively lax border at Guangdong with diplomatic passports. But it took something over two hours, the process of selection being the most time-consuming as Jason put gun after gun in McAllister's hand, with each watching the analyst's grip and the expression on his face. The weapon finally chosen was the smallest, lowest calibrated pistol in d'Anjou's arsenal, a Charter Arms . 22 with a silencer.

  'Aim for the head, at least three bullets in the skull. Anything else would be a bee-sting. '

  McAllister swallowed, staring at the gun, as Jason studied the weapons, deciding which had the greatest firepower in the smallest package. He chose for himself three Interdynamic KG-9 machine pistols that used outsized clips holding thirty rounds of ammunition.

  With their weapons concealed beneath their jackets, they entered the half-filled Kam Pek casino at 3:35 in the morning and walked to the end of the long mahogany bar. Bourne went to the seat he had occupied previously. The undersecretary sat four stools away. The bartender recognized the generous customer who had given him close to a week's salary less than a week ago. He greeted him like a patron with a long history of dispensing largess.

  'Nei hou a!'

  'Mchoh La. Mgoi,' said Bourne, saying that he was fine, in good health.

  'The English whisky, isn't it?' asked the bartender, sure of his memory, hoping it would produce a reward.

  'I told friends at the casino in the Lisboa that they should talk to you. I think you're the best man behind a bar in Macao. '

  The Lisboa! That's where the true money is! I thank you, sir. ' The bartender rushed to pour Jason a drink that would have crippled Caesar's legions. Bourne nodded without comment and the man turned reluctantly to McAllister four chairs away. Jason noted that the analyst ordered white wine, paid with precision and wrote the amount in his notebook. The bartender shrugged, performed the unpleasant service and walked to the centre of the sparsely occupied bar, keeping his eyes on his favoured customer.

  Step one.

  He was there! The well-dressed Chinese in the tailored dark suit, the martial arts veteran who did not know enough dirty moves, the man he had fought in an alley and who had led him up into the hills of Guangdong. Colonel Soo Jiang was taking no risks under the circumstances. He wanted only the most proven conduits working tonight. No impoverished old men, no whores.

  The man walked slowly past several tables as if studying the action, appraising the dealers and the players, trying to determine where he should test his luck. He arrived at Table Five and after observing the play of the cards for nearly three minutes casually sat down and withdrew a roll of bills from his pocket. Among them, thought Jason, was a message marked Crisis.

  Twenty minutes later the impeccably dressed Chinese shook his head, put his money back in his pocket and got up from the table. He was the short cut to Sheng! He knew his way around both Macao and the border at Guangdong, and Bourne knew he had to reach this man, and reach him quickly! He glanced first at the bartender, who had gone to the end of the bar to prepare drinks for a waiter serving the tables, then over at McAllister. 'Analyst!' he whispered sharply. 'Stay here!' 'What are you doing?'

  'Saying hello to my mother, for Christ's sake!' Jason got off the stool and started for the door after the conduit. Passing the bartender, he said in Cantonese. 'I'll be right back. ' 'It's no problem, sir. '

  Out on the pavement, Bourne followed the well-dressed man for several blocks until he turned into a narrow, dimly lit side street and approached an empty parked car. He was meeting no one; he had delivered the message and was getting out of the area. Jason rushed forward, and as the conduit opened the car door he touched the man's shoulder. The conduit spun around, crouching, his experienced left foot lashing out viciously. Bourne jumped back, raising his hands in a gesture of peace.

  'Let's not go through this again,' he said in English, for he remembered the man spoke English, taught him by Portuguese nuns. 'I still hurt from the beating you gave me last week. ' 'Aiya! You!' The conduit raised his hands in a like gesture of noncombat. 'You do me honour when I do not deserve it. You bested me that night, and for that reason I have practised six hours a day to improve myself. . . You bested me then. Not now. '

  'Considering your age and then considering mine, take my word for it, you weren't bested. My bones ached far more than yours did, and I'm not about to check out your new training schedule. I'll pay you a lot of money but I won't fight you. The word for it is cowardice. '

 
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