The bourne supremacy, p.5
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.5

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 5


  'How can I agree to a condition like that when I have no idea what the information is?

  'Because I can give you a quick overview and it'll be enough for you to say yes or no. If it's no, you'll be escorted out of here and flown back to Washington. No one will be the loser. '

  'Go ahead. '

  'All right. ' Reilly spoke calmly. 'You'll be discussing certain events that took place in the past - not ancient history, but not current by any means. The actions themselves were disavowed, buried to be more accurate. Does that sound familiar, Mr Undersecretary?'

  'I'm from the State Department. We bury the past when it serves no purpose to reveal it. Circumstances change; judgements made in good faith yesterday are often a problem tomorrow. We can't control these changes any more than the Soviets or the Chinese can. '

  'Well put!' said Havilland. 'Not yet it isn't,' objected Reilly, raising a palm to the Ambassador. The undersecretary is evidently an experienced diplomat. He didn't say yes and he didn't say no. ' The man from the NSC again looked at McAllister, the eyes behind the steel-rimmed glasses were once again sharp and cold. 'What is it, Mr Undersecretary? You want to sign on, or do you want to leave?"

  'One part of me wants to get up and leave as quickly as I can,' said McAllister, looking alternately at both men. 'The other part says stay. ' He paused, his gaze settling on Reilly, and added, 'Whether you intended it or not, my appetite is whetted. '

  'It's a hell of a price to pay for being hungry,' replied the Irishman.

  'It's more than that. ' The undersecretary of state spoke softly. 'I'm a professional, and if I am the man you want, I really don't have a choice. '

  'I'm afraid I'll have to hear the words,' said Reilly. 'Do you want me to repeat them?"

  'It won't be necessary. ' McAllister frowned in thought, then spoke. 'I, Edward Newington McAllister, fully understand that whatever is said during this conference-' He stopped and looked at Reilly. 'I assume you'll fill in the particulars such as time and location and those present?'

  'Date, place, hour and minute of entry and identifications it's all been done and logged. '

  'Thank you. I'll want a copy before I leave. '

  'Of course. ' Without raising his voice, Reilly looked straight ahead and quietly issued an order. 'Please note. Have a copy of this tape available for the subject upon his departure. Also equipment for him to verify its contents on the premises. I'll initial the copy. . . Go ahead, Mr McAllister. '

  'I appreciate that. . . With regard to whatever is said at this conference, I accept the condition of non-disclosure: I will speak to no one about any aspect of the discussion unless instructed to do so personally by Ambassador Havilland. I further understand that I may be prosecuted at a closed trial should I violate this agreement. However, should such a trial ever take place, I reserve the right to confront my accusers, not their affidavits or depositions. I add this for I cannot conceive of any circumstances where I would or could violate the oath I've just taken. '

  'There are circumstances, you know,' said Reilly, gently.

  'Not in my book. '

  'Extreme physical abuse, chemicals, being tricked by men and women far more experienced than you. There are ways, Mr Undersecretary. '

  'I repeat. Should a case ever be brought against me - and such things have happened to others - I reserve the right to face any and all accusers. '

  'That's good enough for us. ' Again Reilly looked straight ahead and spoke. Terminate this tape and pull the plugs. Confirm. '

  'Confirmed? said a voice eerily from a speaker somewhere overhead. ' You are now. . . out. '

  'Proceed, Mr Ambassador,' said the red-haired man. 'I'll interrupt only when I feel it's necessary. '

  'I'm sure you will, Jack. ' Havilland turned to McAllister. 'I take back my previous statement; he really is a terror. After forty-odd years of service, I'm told by a redheaded whippersnapper who should go on a diet when to shut up. '

  The three men smiled; the ageing diplomat knew the moment and the method to reduce tension. Reilly shook his head and genially extended his hands. 'I would never do that, sir. Certainly, I hope not so obviously. '

  'What say, McAllister? Let's defect to Moscow and say he was the recruiter. The Russkies would probably give us both dachas and he'd be in Leavenworth. '

  'You'd get the dacha, Mr Ambassador. I'd share a flat with twelve Siberians. No thank you, sir. He's not interrupting me. ' 'Very good. I'm surprised none of those well-intentioned meddlers in the Oval Office ever tapped you for his staff, or at least sent you to the UN. '

  'They didn't know I existed. '

  'That status will change,' said Havilland, abruptly serious. He paused, staring at the undersecretary, then lowered his voice. 'Have you ever heard the name Jason Bourne?'

  'How could anyone posted in Asia not have heard it? answered McAllister, perplexed. 'Thirty- five to forty murders' the assassin-for-hire who eluded every trap ever set for him. A pathological killer whose only morality was the price of the kill. They say he was an American - is an American; I don't know; he faded from sight - and that he was a defrocked priest and an importer who'd stolen millions and a deserter from the French Foreign Legion and God knows how many other stories. The only thing I do know is that he was never caught, and our failure to catch him was a burden on our diplomacy throughout the Far East. '

  'Was there any pattern to his victims?'

  'None. They were random, across the board. Two bankers here, three attaches there - meaning CI A; a minister of state from Delhi, an industrialist from Singapore, and numerous -far too numerous - politicians, generally decent men. Their cars were bombed in the streets, their flats blown up. Then there were unfaithful husbands and wives and lovers of various persuasions in various scandals; he offered final solutions for bruised egos. There was no one he wouldn't kill, no method too brutal or demeaning for him. . . No, there wasn't a pattern, just money. The highest bidder. He was a monster - is a monster, if he's still alive. '

  Once more Havilland leaned forward, his eyes steady on the undersecretary of state. 'You say he faded from sight. Just like that? You never picked up anything, any rumors or backstairs gossip from our Asian embassies or consulates?

  'There was talk, yes, but none of it was ever confirmed. The story I heard most often came from the Macao police, where Bourne was last known to be. They said he wasn't dead or retired, but instead had gone to Europe looking for wealthier clients. If it's true, it might be only half the story. The police also claimed informants told them that several contracts had gone sour for Bourne, that in one instance he killed the wrong man, a leading figure in the Malaysian underworld, and in another it was said he raped a client's wife. Perhaps the circle was closing in on him - and perhaps not. '

  'What do you mean?

  'Most of us bought the first half of the story, not the second. Bourne wouldn't kill the wrong man, especially someone like that; he didn't make those kinds of mistakes. And if he raped a client's wife - which is doubtful - he would have done so out of hatred or revenge. He would have forced a bound husband to watch and then killed them both. No, most of us subscribed to the first story. He went to Europe where there were bigger fish to fry - and murder. '

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