The bourne supremacy, p.9
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.9

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 9

 

  'More to the point,' said Havilland, 'it will never work. If it had a prayer we might look the other way and even say Godspeed, but it can't. It'll blow apart, as Lin Biao's conspiracy against Mao Zedong blew apart in seventy-two; and when it does, Peking will blame American and Taiwanese money in complicity with the British - as well as the silent acquiescence of the world's leading financial institutions. Eight years of economic progress will be shot to hell because a group of fanatics want vengeance. In your words, Mr Undersecretary, the People's Republic is a suspicious turbulent nation - and if I may add a few of my own from those accomplishments you ascribe to me - a government quick to become paranoid, obsessed with betrayal both from within and without. China will believe that the world is out to isolate her economically, choke her off from world markets and bring her to her knees while the Russians grin across the northern borders. She will strike fast and furiously, impound everything, absorb everything. Her troops will occupy Kowloon, the island and all of the burgeoning New Territories. Investments in the trillions will be lost. Without the colony's expertise trade will be stymied, a labour force of millions will be in chaos - hunger and disease will be rampant. The Far East will be in flames, and the result could touch off a war none of us wants to think about. '

  'Jesus Christ. 1 McAllister whispered. 'It can't happen. '

  'No, it can't,' agreed the diplomat.

  'But why Webb?

  'Not Webb,' corrected Havilland. 'Jason Bourne. '

  'All right! Why Bourne?

  'Because word out of Kowloon is that he's already there. '

  'What?'

  'And we know he's not. '

  'What did you say?

  'He's struck. He's killed. He's back in Asia. '

  "Webb?'

  'No, Bourne. The myth. '

  'You're not making one goddamned bit of sense!'

  'I can assure you Sheng Chou Yang is making a lot of sense. '

  'How?'

  'He's brought him back. Jason Bourne's skills are once more for hire, and, as always, his client is beyond unearthing - in the present case the most unlikely client imaginable: a leading spokesman for the People's Republic who must eliminate his opposition both in Hong Kong and in Peking. During the past six months a number of powerful voices in Peking's Central Committee have been strangely silent. According to official government announcements, several died, and considering their ages it's understandable. Two others were supposedly killed in accidents - one in a plane crash, one by, of all things, a cerebral hemorrhage while hiking in the Shaoguan mountains - if it's not true, at least it's imaginative. Then another was "removed" - a euphemism for disgrace. Lastly, and most extraordinary, the PRC's Vice-Premier was murdered in Kowloon when no one in Peking knew he was there. It was a gruesome episode, five men massacred in the Tsim Sha Tsui with the killer leaving his calling card. The name "Jason Bourne" was etched in blood on the floor. An impostor's ego demanded that he be given credit for his kills. '

  McAllister blinked repeatedly, his eyes darting aimlessly. This is all so far beyond me,' he said helplessly. Then, becoming the professional once again, he looked steadily at Havilland. 'Is there linkage?' he asked.

  The diplomat nodded. 'Our intelligence reports are specific. All of these men opposed Sheng's policies - some openly, some guardedly. The Vice-Premier, an old revolutionary and veteran of Mao's Long March, was especially vocal. He couldn't stand the upstart Sheng. Yet what was he doing secretly in Kowloon in the company of bankers? Peking can't answer so "face" mercifully required that the killing never happened. With his cremation he became a nonperson. '

  'And with the killer's "calling card" - the name written in blood - the second linkage is to Sheng,' said the undersecretary of state, his voice close to trembling as he nervously massaged his forehead. 'Why would he do it? Leave his name, I mean!'

  'He's in business and it was a spectacular kill. Now do you begin to understand?'

  'I'm not sure what you mean. '

  'For us this new Bourne is our direct route to Sheng Chou Yang. He's our trap. An impostor is posing as the myth, but if the original myth tracks down and takes out the impostor, he's in the position to reach Sheng. It's really very simple. The Jason Bourne we created will replace this new killer using his name. Once in place, our Jason Bourne sends out an urgent alarm - something drastic has happened that threatens Sheng's entire strategy - and Sheng has to respond. He can't afford not to for his security must be absolute, his hands clean. He'll be forced to show himself, if only to kill his hired gun, to remove any association. When he does, this time we won't fail. '

  'It's a circle,' said McAllister, his words barely above a whisper as he stared at the diplomat. 'And from everything you've told me, Webb won't walk near it, much less into it. '

  'Then we must provide him with an overpowering reason to do so,' said Havilland softly. 'In my profession - frankly it was always my profession - we look for patterns - patterns that will trigger a man. ' Frowning, his eyes hollow and empty, the ageing ambassador leaned back in his chair; certainly he was not at peace with himself. 'Sometimes they are ugly realizations, repugnant actually, but one must weigh the greater good, the greater benefits. For everyone. '

  'That doesn't tell me anything. '

  'David Webb became Jason Bourne for essentially one reason - the same reason that propelled him into the Medusa. A wife was taken from him; his children and the mother of his children were killed. '

  'Oh, my God. . :

  This is where I leave,' said Reilly, getting out of his chair.

  Chapter Three

  Marie! Oh, Christ, Marie, it happened again! A floodgate opened and I couldn't handle it. I tried to, my darling, I tried so hard but I got totalled - I got washed away and I was drowning! I know what you'll say if I tell you, which is why I won't tell you even though I know you'll see it in my eyes, hear it in my voice - somehow, as only you know how. You'll say I should have come home to you, should talk to you, be with you, and we could work it out together. Together! My God! How much can you take? How unfair can I be, how long can it, go on this way? I love you so much, in so many ways, that there are times I have to do it myself. If only to let you off the goddamned hook for a while, to let you breathe for a while without your nerves scraped to their roots while you take care of me. But, you see, my love, I can do it! I did it tonight and I'm all right. I've calmed down now, I'm all right now. And now I'll come home to you better than I was. I have to, because without you there isn't anything left.

  His face drenched with sweat, his tracksuit clinging to his body, David Webb ran breathlessly across the cold grass of the dark field, past the bleachers, and up the cement path towards the university gym. The autumn sun had disappeared behind the stone buildings of the campus, its glow firing the early evening sky as it hovered over the distant Maine woods. The autumn chill was penetrating; he shivered.

  It was not what his doctors had had in mind.

  Regardless, he had followed medical advice; it had been one of those days. The government doctors had told him that if there were times - and there would be times - when sudden, disturbing images or fragments of memory broke into his mind, the best way to handle them was with strenuous exercise. His ECG charts indicated a healthy heart, his lungs were decent, though he was foolish enough to smoke, and since his body could take the punishment, it was the best way to relieve his mind. What he needed during such times was equanimity.

 
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