The bourne supremacy, p.65
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.65

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 65

 

  What he had expected to find below in the field he now saw. A soldier, standing erect in his uniform, a sidearm strapped to his waist, was roughly twenty feet to the left of the fire. It was as if he wanted to be seen but not identified. Out of balance. The man looked at his watch; the waiting had begun.

  It lasted the better part of an hour. The soldier had smoked five cigarettes; Jason had remained still, barely breathing. And then it happened, slowly, subtly, no heralding trumpets, an entrance devoid of drama. A second figure appeared; he walked casually out of the shadows, parting the final branches of the forest as he came into view. And, without warning, bolts of lightning streaked down from the night sky, burning, searing into David Webb's head, numbing the mind of Jason Bourne.

  For as the man came into the light of the fire, Bourne gasped, gripping the barrel of the gun to keep from screaming - or from killing. He was looking at a ghost of himself, a haunting apparition from years ago come back to stalk him, no matter who was the hunter now. The face was at once his face yet not his face - perhaps the face as it might have been before the surgeons altered it for Jason Bourne. Like the lean, taut body, the face was younger - younger than the myth he was imitating - and in that youth was strength, the strength of a Delta from Medusa. It was incredible. Even the guarded, cat-like walk, the long arms loose at the sides, that were so obviously proficient in the deadly arts. It was Delta, the Delta he had been told about, the Delta who had become Cain and finally Jason Bourne. He was looking at himself but not himself, yet withal a killer. An assassin.

  A crack in the distance intruded upon the sounds of the mountain forest. The assassin stopped, then spun away from the fire and dived to his right as the soldier dropped to the ground. A deafening, echoing, staccato burst of gunfire erupted from the woods; the killer rolled over and over on the campsite grass, bullets ripping up the earth as he reached the darkness of the trees. The Chinese soldier was on one knee, firing wildly in the assassin's direction.

  Then the ear-shattering battle escalated, not from one level to the next but in three separate stages. The explosions were immense. A first grenade destroyed the campsite, followed by

  a second, uprooting trees, the dry, wind-blown branches catching fire, and finally a third, hurled high in the air, detonating with enormous force in the area of the woods from which the machine gun had been triggered. Suddenly flames were everywhere and Bourne shielded his eyes, moving around the boulder, weapon in hand. A trap had been set for the killer and he had walked into it! The Chinese soldier was dead, his gun blown away, as well as most of his body. A figure suddenly raced from the left into the inferno that had been the campsite, then whipped around and ran through the flames, turning twice and, seeing Jason, firing at him. The assassin had doubled back in the woods, hoping to trap and kill those who would kill him. Spinning, Bourne leaped first to his right, then to his left, then fell to the ground, his eyes on the running man. He got to his feet and sprang forward. He could not let him get away! He raced through the raging fires; the figure ahead of him was weaving through the trees. It was the killer! The impostor who claimed to be the lethal myth that had enraged Asia, using that myth for his own purposes, destroying the original and the wife that man loved. Bourne ran as he had never run before, dodging trees and leaping over the underbrush with an agility that denied the years between Medusa and the present. He was back in Medusa! He was Medusa! And with every ten yards he closed the gap by five. He knew the forests, and every forest was a jungle and every jungle was his friend. He had survived in the jungles; without thinking - only feeling - he knew their curvatures, their vines, the sudden pits and the abrupt ravines. He was gaining, gaining! And then he was there, the killer only feet ahead of him!

  With what seemed like the last breath in his body, Jason lunged - Bourne against Bourne! His hands were the claws of a mountain cat as he gripped the shoulders of the racing figure in front of him, his fingers digging into the hard flesh and bone as he whipped the killer back, his heels dug into the earth, his right knee crashing up into the man's spine. His rage was such that he consciously had to remind himself not to kill. Stay alive! You are my freedom, our freedom!

  The assassin screamed, as the true Jason Bourne hammerlocked his neck, wrenching the head to his right and forcing the pretender down. Both fell to the ground, Bourne's forearm jammed across the man's throat, his left hand clenched, repeatedly pounding the killer's lower abdomen, forcing the air out of the weakening body.

  The face? The Iore? Where was the face that belonged to years ago? To an apparition that wanted to take him back into a hell that memory had blocked out. Where was the face? This was not it!

  'Delta!' screamed the man beneath him.

  'What did you call me? shouted Bourne.

  'Delta!' shrieked the writhing figure. 'Cain is for Carlos, Delta is for Cain?

  'Goddamn you! Who-'

  'D'Anjou! I am d'Anjou! Medusa! Tam Quan! We have no names, only symbols! For God's sake, Paris! The Louvre! You saved my life in Paris - as you saved so many lives in Medusa! I am d'Anjou! I told you what you had to know in Paris! You are Jason Bourne! The madman who runs from us is but a creation! My creation!'

  Webb stared at the contorted face below, at the perfectly-groomed grey moustache and the silver hair that swept back over the ageing head. The nightmare had returned. . . he was in the steaming infested jungles of Tam Quan with no way out and death all around them. Then suddenly he was in Paris, nearing the steps of the Louvre in the blinding afternoon sunlight. Gunshots. Cars screeching, crowds screaming. He had to save the face beneath him! Save the face from Medusa who could supply the missing pieces of the insane puzzle!

  'D'Anjou?' whispered Jason. 'You're d'Anjou?'

  'If you will give me back my throat,' choked the Frenchman, 'I will tell you a story. I'm sure you have one to tell me. '

  Philippe d'Anjou surveyed the wreckage of the campsite, now a smoking ruin. He crossed himself as he searched the pockets of the dead 'soldier', removing whatever valuables he found. 'We'll free the man below when we leave,' he said. There's no other access to this place. It's why I posted him there. ' 'And told him to look for what?'

  'Like you, I'm from Medusa. Fields of grass - poets and consumers notwithstanding - are both avenues and traps. Guerrillas know that. We knew that. '

  'You couldn't have anticipated me. '

  'Hardly. But I could and did anticipate every countermove my creation might consider. He was to arrive alone. The instructions were clear, but who could trust him, least of all meT

  'You're ahead of me. '

  'It's part of my story. You'll hear it. '

  They walked down through the woods, the elderly d'Anjou gripping the trunks of trees and saplings to ease the descent. They reached the field, hearing the muted screams of the bound guard as they walked into the tall grass. Bourne cut the cloth straps with his knife and the Frenchman paid him.

  'Zow ba. r yelled d'Anjou. The man fled into the darkness. 'He is garbage. They are all garbage, but they kill willingly for a price and disappear. '

  'You tried to kill him tonight, didn't you? It was a trap. '

  'Yes. I thought he was wounded in the explosions. It's why I went after him. '

  'I thought he'd doubled back to take you at the rear. '

 
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