The bourne supremacy, p.26
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.26

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 26


  Webb lowered the gun. 'Not with what you've got in your head, not with what you've learned. Anyway, I'll take my chances; my options are limited and I choose you. To be honest, I don't know anyone else. Also, I've several ideas, maybe even a plan, but it's got to be set up at high speed. '

  'Oh? Conklin held on to the bar to steady himself.

  'May I make some coffee, Alex?'

  Chapter Seven

  Black coffee had a sobering effect on Conklin but nowhere near the effect of David's confidence in him. The former Jason Bourne respected the talents of his past most deadly enemy and let him know it. They talked until four in the morning, refining the blurred outlines of a strategy, basing it on reality but carrying it much further. And as the alcohol diminished, Conklin began to function. He began to give shape to what David had formulated only vaguely. He perceived the basic soundness of Webb's approach and found the words.

  'You're describing a spreading crisis situation mounted in the face of Marie's abduction, then sending it off the wire with lies. But as you said, it's got to be set off at high speed, hitting them hard and fast, with no let up. '

  'Use the complete truth first,' interrupted Webb, speaking rapidly. 'I broke in here threatening to kill you. I made accusations based on everything that's happened - from McAllister's scenario to Babcock's statement that they'd send out an execution team to find me. . . to that Anglicized voice of dry ice who told me to cease-and-desist with Medusa or they'd call me insane and put me back in a mental stockade. None of it can be denied. It did happen and I'm threatening to expose everything including Medusa. '

  'Then we spiral off into the big lie,' said Conklin, pouring more coffee. 'A breakaway so out of sight that it throws everything and everybody into a corkscrew turn. '

  'Such as?'

  'I don't know yet. We'll have to think about it. It's got to be something totally unexpected, something that will unbalance the strategists, whoever they are - because every instinct tells me that somewhere they lost control. If I'm right, one of them will have to make contact. '

  Then get out your notebooks,' insisted David. 'Start going back and reach five or six people who are logical contenders. '

  'That could take hours, even days,' objected the CIA officer. 'The barricades are up and I'd have to get around them. We don't have the time - you don't have the time. '

  'There has to be time! Start moving. '

  'There's a better way,' countered Alex. 'Panov gave it to you. '


  'Yes. The logs at State, the official logs. '

  'The logs. . . ?' Webb had momentarily forgotten; Conklin had not. 'In what way?'

  'It's where they started to build the new file on you. I'll reach Internal Security with another version, at least a variation that will call for answers from someone - if I'm right, if it's gone off the wire. Those logs are only an instrument, they record, they don't confirm accuracy. But the security personnel responsible for them will send up rockets if they think the system's been tampered with. They'll do our work for us. . . Still, we need the lie. '

  'Alex,' said David, leaning forward in his chair opposite the long worn couch. 'A few moments ago you used the term "breakaway"-'

  'It simply means a disruption in the scenario, a break in the pattern. '

  'I know what it means, but how about using it here literally. Not breakaway, but "broke away". They're calling me pathological, a schizophrenic - that means I fantasize: I sometimes tell the truth and sometimes not, and I'm not supposed to be able to tell the difference. '

  'It's what they're saying,' agreed Conklin. 'Some of them may even believe it. So?'

  'Why don't we take this way up, really out of sight? We'll say that Marie broke away. She reached me and I'm on my way to meet her. ' Alex frowned, then gradually widened his eyes, the creases disappearing. 'It's perfect,' he said quietly. 'My God, it's perfect. ' The confusion will spread like a brushfire. In any operation this deep only two or three men know all the details. The others are kept in the dark. Jesus, can you imagine? An officially sanctioned kidnapping! A few at the core might actually panic and collide with each other trying to save their asses. Very good, 'Mr Bourne. '

  Oddly enough, Webb did not resent the name, he merely accepted it without thinking. 'Listen,' he said, getting to his feet. 'We're both exhausted. We know where we're heading so let's get a couple of hours' sleep and go over everything in the morning. You and I learned years ago the difference between a scratch of sleep and none at all. '

  'Are you going back to the hotel?' asked Conklin.

  'No way,' replied David, looking down at the pale, drawn face of the CIA man. 'Just get me a blanket. I'm staying right here in front of the bar. '

  'You also should have learned when not to worry about some things,' said Alex, rising from the couch and limping towards a closet near the small foyer. 'If this is going to be my last hurrah - one way or the other - I'll give it my best. It might even sort things out for me. ' Conklin turned, having taken a blanket and a pillow from the closet shelf. 'I guess you could call it some kind of weird precognition, but do you know what I did last night after work?'

  'Sure, I do. Among other clues there's a broken glass on the floor. '

  'No, I mean before that. '


  'I stopped off at the supermarket and bought a ton of food. Steak, eggs, milk - even that glue they call oatmeal. I mean, I never do that. '

  'You were ready for a ton of food. It happens. '

  'When it does I go to a restaurant. '

  'What's your point?

  'You sleep; the couch is big enough. I'm going to eat. I want to think some more. I'm going to cook a steak, maybe some eggs, too. '

  'You need sleep. '

  'Two, two and a half hours'll be fine. Then I'll probably have some of that goddamned oatmeal. '

  Alexander Conklin walked down the corridor of the State Department's 4th floor, his limp lessened through sheer determination, the pain more so because of it. He knew what was happening to him: There was a job facing him that he wanted very much to do well - even brilliantly, if that term had any relevance for him any longer. Alex realized that months of abusing the blood and the body could not be overcome in a matter of hours, but something within him could be summoned. It was a sense of authority, laced with righteous anger. Jesus, the irony! A year ago he had wanted to destroy the man they called Jason Bourne; now it was a sudden, growing obsession to help David Webb - because he had wrongfully tried to kill Jason Bourne. It could place him beyond salvage, he understood that, but it was right that the risk was his. Perhaps conscience did not always produce cowards. Sometimes it made a man feel better about himself.

  And look better, he considered. He had forced himself to walk many more blocks than he should have, letting the cold autumn wind in the streets bring a colour to his face that had not been there in years. Combined with a clean shave and a pressed pinstripe suit he had not worn in months, he bore little resemblance to the man Webb found last night. The rest was performance, he knew that, too, as he approached the sacrosanct double doors of the State Department's Chief of Internal Security. Little time was spent on formalities, even less on informal conversation. At Conklin's request - read Agency demand -an aide left the room, and he faced the rugged former brigadier general from the Army's G-2 who now headed State's Internal Security. Alex intended to take command with his first words.

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