The bourne supremacy, p.21
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.21

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 21


  Strangely, it was not impossible, nor even intolerable, for Marie was out there. His love, his only love - Don't think that way. Jason Bourne spoke: she is a valuable possession taken from you! Get her back. Jason Bourne spoke. No, not a possession, my life!

  Jason Bourne: Then break all the rules! Find her! Bring her back to you!

  David Webb: I don't know how. Help me!

  Use me! Use what you've learned from me. You've got the tools, you've had them for years. You were the best in Medusa. Above all, there was control. You preached that. You lived that. And you stayed alive.


  Such a simple word. Such an incredible demand.

  Webb climbed off the rocks and once again went up the path through the wild grass to the street and started back towards the old Victorian house, loathing its sudden, frightening, unfair emptiness. As he walked a name flashed across his thoughts; then it returned and remained fixed. Slowly the face belonging to that name came into focus - very slowly, for the man aroused hatred in David that was no less acute for the sadness he also evoked.

  Alexander Conklin had tried to kill him - twice - and each time he had nearly succeeded. And Alex Conklin - according to his deposition as well as his own numerous psychiatric sessions with Mo Panov and what vague memories David could provide - had been a close friend of Foreign Service Officer Webb and his Thai wife and their children in Cambodia a lifetime ago. When death had struck from the skies, filling the river with circles of blood, David had fled blindly to Saigon, his rage uncontrollable, and it was his friend in the Central Intelligence Agency, Alex Conklin, who found a place for him in the illegitimate battalion they called Medusa.

  If you can survive the jungle training, you'll be a man they want. But watch them - every goddamned one of them, every goddamned minute. They'll cut your arm off for a watch. Those were the words Webb recalled, and he specifically recalled that they had been spoken by the voice of Alexander Conklin.

  He had survived the brutal training and became Delta. No other name, just a progression in the alphabet. Delta One. Then after the war, Delta became Cain. Cain is for Delta and Carlos is for Cain. That was the challenge hurled at Carlos the assassin. Created by Treadstone 71, a killer named Cain would catch the Jackal.

  It was as Cain, a name the underworld of Europe knew in reality was Asia's Jason Bourne, that Conklin had betrayed his friend. A simple act of faith on Alex's part could have made all the difference, but Alex could not find it within himself to provide it; his own bitterness precluded that particular charity. He believed the worst of his former friend because his own sense of martyrdom made him want to believe it. It raised his own broken self-esteem, convincing him that he was better than his former friend. In his work with Medusa, Conklin's foot had been shattered by a land mine, and his brilliant career as a field strategist was cut short. A crippled man could not stay in the field where a growing reputation might take him up the ladders scaled by such men as Alien Dulles and James Angleton, and Conklin did not possess the skills for 'the bureaucratic in-fighting demanded at Langley. He withered, a once extraordinary tactician left to watch inferior talents pass him by, his expertise sought only in secrecy, the head of Medusa always in the background, dangerous, someone to be kept at arm's length.

  Two years of imposed castration until a man known as the Monk - a Rasputin of covert operations - sought him out because one David Webb had been selected for an extraordinary assignment and Conklin had known Webb for years. Treadstone 71 was created, Jason Bourne became its product and Carlos the Jackal its target. And for thirty-two months Conklin monitored this most secret of classified operations, until the scenario fell apart with Jason Bourne's disappearance and the withdrawal of over five million dollars from Treadstone's Zurich account.

  With no evidence to the contrary, Conklin presumed the worst. The legendary Bourne had turned; life in the nether world had become too much for him and the temptation to come in from the cold with over five million dollars had been too alluring to resist. Especially for one known as the chameleon, a multilingual deep-cover specialist who could change appearances and lifestyles with so little effort that he could literally vanish. A trap for an assassin had been baited and then the bait had vanished, revealing a scheming thief. For the crippled Alexander Conklin this was not only the act of a traitor, but intolerable treachery. Considering everything that had been done to him, his foot now no more than a painfully awkward dead weight surgically encased in stolen flesh, a once brilliant career a shambles, his personal life filled with a loneliness that only a total commitment to the Agency could bring about - a devotion not reciprocated what right had anyone else to turn? What other man had given what he had given?

  So his once close friend, David Webb, became the enemy, Jason Bourne. Not merely the enemy, but an obsession. He had helped create the myth; he would destroy it. His first attempt was with two hired killers on the outskirts of Paris.

  David shuddered at the memory, still seeing a defeated Conklin limp away, his crippled figure in Webb's gunsight.

  The second try was blurred for David. Perhaps he would never recall it completely. It had taken place at the Treadstone sterile house on New York's 71st Street, an ingenious trap mounted by Conklin, which was aborted by Webb's hysterical efforts to survive and, oddly enough, the presence of Carlos the Jackal.

  Later, when the truth was known, that the 'traitor' had no treason in him but instead a mental aberration called amnesia, Conklin fell apart. During David's agonizing months of convalescence in Virginia, Alex tried repeatedly to see his former friend, to explain, to tell his part of the bloody story - to apologize with every fibre of his being.

  David, however, had no forgiveness in his soul.

  'If he walks through that door I'll kill him,' had been his words.

  That would change now, thought Webb as he quickened his pace down the street towards the house. Whatever Conklin's faults and duplicities, few men in the intelligence community had the insights and the sources he had developed over a lifetime of commitment. David had not thought about Alex in months; he thought about him now, suddenly remembering the last time his name came up in conversation. Mo Panov had rendered his verdict. 'I can't help him because he doesn't want to be helped. He'll carry his last bottle of sour mash up to that great big black operations room in the sky bombed out of his mercifully dead skull. If he lasts to his retirement at the end of the year, I'll be astonished. On the other hand, if he stays pickled they may

  put him in a straitjacket and that'll keep him out of traffic. I swear I don't know how he gets to work every day. That pension is one hell of a survival-therapy - better than anything Freud ever left us. '

  Panov had spoken those words no more than five months ago. Conklin was still in place.

  I'm sorry, Mo. His survival one-way or the other doesn't bother me. So far as I'm concerned, his status is dead.

  It was not dead now, thought David, as he ran up the steps of the oversized Victorian porch. Alex Conklin was very much alive, whether drunk or not, and even if he was preserved in bourbon, he had his sources, those contacts he had cultivated during a lifetime of devotion to the shadow world that ultimately rejected him. Within that world debts were owed; and they were paid out of fear.

  Alexander Conklin. Number I on Jason Bourne's hit list.

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