The bourne supremacy, p.30
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.30

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 30


  'There were rumours. I need a capstone. '

  'I'll give it to you. The execution of Jason Bourne. The date was May twenty-third in Tarn Quan. . . and the same day in New York four years later. On Seventy-first Street. Treadstone 71. '

  Conklin closed his eyes and breathed deeply, feeling the hollowness in his throat. 'All right,' he said quietly. 'You're in the circle. '

  'I can't give you my name. '

  'What are you going to give me?

  Two words: Back off. '

  'You think I'll accept that?

  'You have to,' said the voice, his words precise. 'Bourne is needed where he's going. '

  'Bourne?' Alex stared at the phone.

  'Yes, Jason Bourne. He can't be recruited in any normal way. We both know that. '

  'So you steal his wife from him? Goddamned animals!'

  'She won't be harmed. '

  'You can't guarantee that! You don't have the controls. You've got to be using second and third parties right now, and if I know my business - and I do - they're probably paid blinds so you can't be traced; you don't even know who they are. . . My God, you wouldn't have called me if you did If you could reach them and get the verifications you want, you wouldn't be talking to me!'

  The cultured voice paused. 'Then we both lied, didn't we, Mr Conklin? There was no escape on the woman's part, no call to Webb. Nothing. You went fishing, and so did I, and we both came up with nothing. '

  'You're a barracuda, Mr No-name. ' 'You've been where I am, Mr Conklin. Right down to David Webb. . . Now; what can you tell me?'

  Alex again felt the hollowness in his throat, now joined with a sharp pain in his chest. 'You've lost them, haven't you?' he whispered. 'You've lost her. ''

  'Forty-eight hours isn't permanent,' said the voice guardedly.

  'But you've been trying like hell to make contact!' accused Conklin. 'You've called in your conduits, the people who hired the blinds, and suddenly they're not there - you can't find them. Jesus, you have lost control! It did go off the wire! Someone walked in on your strategy and you have no idea who it is. He played your scenario and took it away from you!'

  'Our safeguards are spread out,' objected the man without the conviction he had displayed during the past moments. 'The best men in the field are working every district. '

  'Including McAllister? In Kowloon? Hong Kong?

  'You know that?'

  'I know. '

  'McAllister's a damn fool, but he's good at what he does. And yes, he's there. We're not panicked. We'll recover. '

  'Recover what? asked Alex, filled with anger. 'The merchandise? Your strategy's aborted! Someone else is in charge. Why would he give you back the merchandise? You've killed Webb's wife, Mr No-name! What the hell did you think you Were doing?

  'We just wanted to get him over there,' replied the voice defensively. 'Explain things, show him. We need him. ' Then the man resumed his calm delivery. 'And for all we know, everything's still on the wire. Communications are notoriously bad in that part of the world. '

  'The ex-culpa for everything in this business. '

  'In most businesses, Mr Conklin. . . How do you read it? Now I'm the one who's asking - very sincerely. You have a certain reputation. '

  'Had, No-name. '

  'Reputations can't be taken away or contradicted, only added to, positively or negatively, of course. '

  'You're a font of unwarranted information, you know that. '

  'I'm also right. It's said you were one of the best. How do you read it?

  Alex shook his head in the booth; the air was close, the

  noise outside his 'sterile' phone growing louder in the seedy bar on 9th Street. 'What I said before. Someone found out what you people were planning - mounting for Webb - and decided to take over. '

  'For God's sake, why?

  'Because whoever it is wants Jason Bourne more than you do,' Alex said and hung up.

  It was 6: 28 when Conklin walked into the lounge at Dulles Airport. He had waited in a taxi down the street from Webb's hotel and had followed David, giving the driver precise instructions. He had been right, but there was no point in burdening Webb with the knowledge. Two grey Plymouths had picked up David's cab and alternately exchanged positions during the surveillance. So be it. One Alexander Conklin might be hanged, and then again, he might not. People at State were behaving stupidly, he had thought as he wrote down the licence numbers. He spotted Webb in a darkened back booth.

  'It is you, isn't it? said Alex, dragging his dead foot into the banquette. 'Do blonds really have more fun?1

  'It worked in Paris. What did you find?' 'I found slugs under rocks who can't find their way up out of the ground. But then they wouldn't know what to do with the sunlight, would they?

  'Sunlight's illuminating; you're not. Cut the crap, Alex. I have to get to the gate in a few minutes. ' '

  'In short words, they worked out a strategy to get you over to Kowloon. It was based on a previous experience-'

  'You can skip that,' said David. 'Why?'

  'The man said they needed you. Not you, Webb; they needed Bourne. '

  'Because they say Bourne's already there. I told you what McAllister said. Did he go into it?'

  'No, he wasn't going to give me that much, but maybe I can use it to press them. However, he told me something else, David, and you have to know it. They can't find their conduits, so they don't know who the blinds are or what's happening. They think it's temporary, but they've lost Marie.

  Somebody else wants you out there and he's taken over. '

  Webb brought his hand to his forehead, his eyes closed, and suddenly, in silence, the tears fell down his cheeks. 'I'm back, Alex. Back into so much I can't remember. I love her so, I need her so!'

  'Cut it out!' ordered Conklin. 'You made it clear to me last night that I still had a mind, if not much of a body. You have both. Make them sweat?


  'Be what they want you to be - be the chameleon! Be Jason Bourne. '

  'It's been so long. . . '

  'You can still do it. Play the scenario they've given you. '

  'I don't have any choice, do IT

  Over the loudspeakers came the last call for Flight 26 to Hong Kong.

  The grey-haired Havilland replaced the phone in its cradle, leaned back in his chair and looked across the room at McAllister. The undersecretary of state was standing next to a huge revolving globe of the world that was perched on an ornamental tripod in front of a bookcase. His index finger was on the southernmost part of China, but his eyes were on the Ambassador.

  'It's done,' said the diplomat. 'He's on the plane to Kowloon. '

  'It's God-awful,' replied McAllister. 'I'm sure it appears that way to you, but before you render judgement, weigh the advantages. We're free now. We are no longer responsible for the events that take place. They are being manipulated by an unknown party,' 'Which is us! I repeat, it's God- awful!' 'Has your God considered the consequences if we fail?' 'We're given free will. Only our ethics restrict us. ' 'A banality, Mr Undersecretary. There's the greater good. ' There's also a human being, a man we're manipulating, driving him back into his nightmares. Do we have that right? 'We have no choice. He can do what no one else can do - if we give him a reason. '

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