The bourne supremacy, p.85
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.85

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 85


  Chapter Twenty

  By noon of that paralysing day when Kai Tak was merely an airport and not an assassination field, Ambassador Havilland had described to a stunned Catherine Staples the broad outlines of the Sheng conspiracy with its roots in the Kuomintang. Objective: a consortium of taipans with a central leader, whose son Sheng was taking over Hong Kong and turning the colony into the conspirators' own financial empire. Inevitable result: the conspiracy would fail, and the raging giant that was the People's Republic would strike out, marching into Hong Kong, destroying the Accords and throwing the Far East into chaos. In utter disbelief Catherine had demanded substantiation and by 2:15 had twice read the State Department's lengthy and top-secret dossier on Sheng Chou Yang, but she continued to strenuously object as the accuracy could not be verified. At 3:30 she had been taken to the radio room and by satellite-scrambler transmission was presented with an array of 'facts' by a man named Reilly of the National Security Council in Washington.

  'You're only a voice, Mr Reilly,' Staples had said. 'How do I know you're not down at the bottom of the Peak in the Wanchai?'

  There was at that moment a pronounced click on the line and a voice Catherine and the world knew very well was speaking to her. 'This is the President of the United States, Mrs Staples. If you doubt that, I suggest you call your consulate. Ask them to reach the White House by diplomatic phone and request a confirmation of our transmission. I'll hang on. You'll receive it. At the moment I have nothing better to do - nothing more vital. '

  Shaking her head and briefly closing her eyes, Catherine had answered quietly. 'I believe you, Mr President. '

  'Forget about me, believe what you've heard. It's the truth. '

  'It's just so unbelievable - inconceivable. '

  'I'm no expert, Mrs Staples, and I never claimed to be, but then neither was the Trojan Horse very believable. Now, that may be legend and Menelaus' wife may have been a figment of a campfire storyteller's imagination, but the concept is valid - it's become a symbol of an enemy destroying his adversary from within. '

  'Menelaus. . . ?'

  'Don't believe the media, I've read a book or two. But do believe our people, Mrs Staples. We need you. I'll call your Prime Minister if it will help, but in all honesty, I'd rather not. He might feel it necessary to confer with others. '

  'No, Mr President. Containment is everything. I'm beginning to understand Ambassador Havilland. '

  'You're one up on me. I don't always understand him. '

  'Perhaps it's better that way, sir. '

  At 3:58 there was an emergency call - highest priority - to the sterile house in Victoria Peak, but it was not for either the Ambassador or Undersecretary of State McAllister. It was for Major Lin Wenzu, and when it came a frightening vigil began that lasted four hours. The scant information was so electrifying that all concentration was riveted on the crisis, and Catherine Staples telephoned her consulate telling the High Commissioner that she was not well and would not attend the strategy conference with the Americans that afternoon. Her presence in the sterile house was welcome. Ambassador Havilland wanted the foreign service officer to see and understand for herself how close the Far East was to upheaval. How an inevitable error on either Sheng's or his assassin's part could bring about an explosion so drastic that troops from the People's Republic could move into Hong Kong within hours, bringing not only the colony's world trade to a halt, but with it widespread human suffering -savage rioting everywhere, death squads from the left and the right exploiting resentments going back forty years, racial and provincial factions pitted against one another and the military forces. Blood would flow in the streets and the harbour, and as nations everywhere must be affected, global war was a very real possibility. He said these things to her as Lin worked furiously on the telephone, giving commands, coordinating his people with the colony's police and the airport's security.

  It all had started with the major from MI6 cupping the phone and speaking in a quiet voice in that Victorian room in Victoria Peak.

  'Kai Tak tonight. The Sino-British delegations. Assassination. The target is the Governor. They believe it's Jason Bourne. '

  'I can't understand it!' protested McAllister, leaping from the couch. 'It's premature. Sheng isn't ready! We'd have got an inkling of it if he was - an official statement from his ministry alluding to a proposed commission of some sort. It's wrong!'

  'Miscalculation?' asked the ambassador coldly.

  'Possibly. Or something else. A strategy we haven't considered. '

  'Go to work, Major,' said Havilland.

  After issuing his last orders Lin received a final order himself from Havilland before heading to the airport. 'Stay out of sight, Major,' said the ambassador. 'I mean that. '

  'Impossible,' replied Lin. 'With respect, sir, I must be with my men on the scene. These are experienced eyes. '

  'With equal respect,' continued Havilland. 'I must make it a condition of your getting through the outside gate. '

  "Why, Mr Ambassador?

  'With your perspicacity, I'm surprised you ask. '

  'I have to! I don't understand. '

  Then perhaps it's my fault, Major. I thought I'd made it clear why we went to such extremes to bring our Jason Bourne over here. Accept the fact that he's extraordinary, his record proves it. He has his ears not only to the ground, but they're also locked into the four winds. We must presume, if the medical prognosis is accurate and portions of his memory continue to come back to him, that he has contacts all over this part of the world in nooks and crannies we know nothing about. Suppose - just suppose, Major - that one of those contacts inform him that an emergency-alert has been sent out for Kai Tak Airport tonight, that a large security force has been gathered to protect the Governor. What do you think he'd do?'

  'Be there,' answered Lin -Wenzu softly, reluctantly. 'Somewhere. '

  'And suppose again that our Bourne saw you! Forgive me, but you are not easily overlooked. The discipline of his logical mind - logic, discipline and imagination were always his means of survival - would force him to find out precisely who you are. Need I say more?'

  'I don't think so,' said the major.

  The connection is made,' said Havilland, overriding Wenzu's words. There is no taipan with a murdered young wife in Macao. Instead there is a highly regarded field officer of British Intelligence posing as a fictitious taipan, having fed him yet another lie that echoes a previous lie. He will know that once again he has been manipulated by government forces, manipulated in the most brutal fashion possible - the abduction of his wife. The mind, Major, is a delicate instrument, his more delicate than most. It can only take so much stress. I don't even want to think about what he might do - what we might be forced to do. ' 'It was always the weakest aspect of the scenario, and yet it was the core,' said Wenzu.

  '"An ingenious device",' interrupted McAllister, obviously quoting. ' "Few acts of vengeance are as readily understood as an eye for an eye. " Your words, Lin. '

  'If so, you should not have chosen me to play your taipan!' insisted the major. There's a crisis here in Hong Kong and you've crippled me!'

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