The bourne supremacy, p.166
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.166

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 166

 

  'It's wise,' said the Chinese. They are all over the telephone company. '

  'And we've got to get some sleep. The Frenchman never stopped telling me that rest was also a weapon. Christ, why do I keep repeating myself?'

  'Because you're obsessed,' said McAllister from the back seat.

  Tell me about it. No, don't. '

  Jason dialled the number in Macao that tripped a relay in China into a swept telephone in Jade Tower Mountain. As he did so he looked at the analyst. 'Does Sheng speak French? he asked quickly.

  'Of course,' said the undersecretary. 'He deals with the Quai d'Orsay and speaks the language of everyone he negotiates with. It's one of his strengths. But why not use Mandarin? You know it. '

  The commando didn't, and if I speak English he might wonder where the British accent went. French'll cover it, as it did with Soo Jiang, and I'll also know whether or not it's Sheng. ' Bourne stretched a handkerchief across the mouthpiece as he heard a second, echoing ring fifteen hundred miles away. The scramblers were in place.

  'Wei?'

  'Comme le colonel, je prefere parler francais. '

  'Shemma?' cried the voice, bewildered.

  'Fawen,' said Jason, the Mandarin for French.

  'Fawen? Wo buhui!' replied the man excitedly, stating that he did not speak French. The call was expected. Another voice intruded; it was in the background and too low to be heard. And then it was there on the line.

  ''Mats pourquoi parlez-vous francaisT It was Sheng! No matter the language, Bourne would never forget the orator's singsong delivery. It was the zealous minister of an unmerciful God seducing an audience before assaulting it with fire and brimstone.

  'Let's say I feel more comfortable. '

  'Very well. What is this incredible story you bring? This madness during which a name was mentioned?'

  'I was also told you speak French,' interrupted Jason.

  There was a pause in which only Sheng's steady breathing could be heard. 'You know who I am?'

  'I know a name that doesn't mean anything to me. It does to someone else, though. Someone you knew years ago. He wants to talk to you. '

  'What?' screamed Sheng. 'Betrayal!'

  'Nothing of the sort, and if I were you I'd listen to him. He saw right through everything I told them. The others didn't, but he did. ' Bourne glanced at McAllister beside him; the analyst nodded his head as if to say that Jason was convincingly using the words the undersecretary had given him. 'He took one look at me and put the figures together. But then the Frenchman's original boy was pretty well shot up; his head was a bloody cauliflower. '

  'What have you done?

  'Probably the biggest favour you ever received, and I expect to be paid for it. Here's your friend. He'll use English. ' Bourne handed the phone to the analyst, who spoke instantly.

  'It's Edward McAllister, Sheng. '

  'Edward. . . ?' The stunned Sheng Chou Yang could not complete the name.

  This conversation is off the record, with no official sanction. My whereabouts are unlogged and unknown. I'm speaking solely for my own benefit - and yours. '

  'You . . . astonish me, my old friend,' said the minister slowly, fearfully collecting himself.

  'You'll read about it in the morning papers and it's undoubtedly on all the newscasts from Hawaii already. The consulate wanted me to disappear for a few days - the fewer questions the better - and I knew just whom I wanted to go with. '

  'What happened, and how did you-'

  The similarity in their appearance was too obvious to be coincidental,' broke in the undersecretary of state. 'I suppose d'Anjou wanted to trade on the legend as much as possible, and that included the physical characteristics for those who had seen Jason Bourne in the past. An unnecessary fillip, in my opinion, but it was effective. In the panic on Victoria Peak - and from the nearly unrecognizable face - no one else noticed that striking resemblance. But then none of the others knew Bourne. I did. '

  'You?'

  'I drove him out of Asia. I'm the one he came to kill, and in keeping with his perverse sense of irony and revenge, he decided to do it by leaving the corpse of your assassin on Victoria Peak. Fortunately for me, his ego didn't permit him to evaluate your man's abilities correctly. Once the firing started, our now mutual associate overpowered him and threw him into the guns. '

  'Edward, the information is coming too fast, I cannot assimilate it. Who brought Jason Bourne back?

  'Obviously the Frenchman. - His pupil and immensely successful meal ticket had defected. He wanted revenge and knew where to find the one man who could give him that: his colleague from Medusa, the original Jason Bourne. '

  'Medusa!' whispered Sheng with loathing.

  'Despite their reputations, in certain units there were intense loyalties. You save a man's life, he doesn't forget. '

  'What led you to the preposterous conclusion that I have had anything to do with the man you call an assassin-'

  'Please, Sheng,' interrupted the analyst. 'It's too late for protestations. We're talking. But I'll answer your question. It was in the pattern of several killings. It started with a Vice-Premier of China in the Tsim Sha Tsui and four other men. They all were your enemies. And at Kai Tak the other night, two of your most vocal critics in the Peking delegation -targets of a bomb. There were also rumours; there always are in the underworld. The whispers spoke of messages between Macao and Guangdong, of powerful men in Beijing- of one man with immense power. And finally there was the file . . . The figures added up. You. '

  The file! What is this, Edward? asked Sheng, feigning strength. 'Why is this an unofficial, unreported communication between us?*

  'I think you know. '

  'You're a brilliant man. You know I would not ask if I did. We're above such pavanes. ' 'A brilliant bureaucrat kept in the back room, wouldn't you also say?'

  'In truth, I expected better things for you. You provided most of the words and the moves for your so-called negotiators during the trade conferences. And everyone knows you did exemplary work in Hong Kong. By the time you left, Washington had every major influence in the territory in its orbit. '

  'I've decided to retire, Sheng. I've given twenty years of my life to my government but I won't give it my death. I won't be ambushed and shot at or truck-bombed. I won't become a target for terrorists, whether it's here or in Iran or Beirut. It's time I got something for myself, for my family. Times change, people change and living's expensive. My pension and my prospects are far less than I deserve. '

  'I agree with you completely, Edward, but what has it got to do with mel We were compromisers together - adversaries, to be sure, as in a courtroom - but certainly not enemies in the arena of violence. And what in the name of heaven is this foolishness about my name being mentioned by jackals of the Kuomintang?'

  'Spare me. ' The analyst glanced over at Bourne. 'Whatever was said by our mutual associate, the words were provided by me; they weren't his. Your name was never mentioned in Victoria Peak and there were no Taiwanese at our interrogation of your man. I gave him those words because there's a certain validity in them for you. As to your name, it's for a restricted few, their eyes only. It's in the file I mentioned, a file locked in my office in Hong Kong. It's marked "Ultra-Maximum- Security". There is only one copy of this file and it's buried in a vault in Washington to be released or destroyed only by me. However, should the unexpected happen, say a plane crash, or if I disappeared - or was killed -the file would be turned over to the National Security Council. The information in this file, in the wrong hands, could prove catastrophic for the entire Far East. '

 
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