The bourne supremacy, p.90
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.90

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 90


  Chapter Twenty-one

  The motor launch pitched violently in the darkness and the torrential rains. The crew of two bailed out the water that continuously swept back over the gunwales as the grizzled Chinese- Portuguese captain, squinting through the cabin's large windows, inched his way forward towards the black outlines of the island. Bourne and d'Anjou flanked the boat's owner; the Frenchman spoke, raising his voice over the downpour. 'How far do you judge it to the beach?'

  Two hundred metres, plus or minus ten or twenty, ' said the captain.

  'It's time for the light. Where is it?

  'In the locker beneath you. On the right. Another seventy-five metres and I hold. Any farther, the rocks can be dangerous in this weather. '

  'We have to get in to the beach!' cried the Frenchman. 'It's imperative, I told you that!'

  'Yes, but you forgot to tell me there would be this rain, these swells. Ninety metres, and you can use the little boat. The engine is strong, you'll get there. '

  'Merde!' spat out d'Anjou, opening the locker and pulling out a signal light. That could leave a hundred metres or more!'

  'In any event it would not be less than fifty, I told you that. '

  'And between the two is deep water!'

  'Shall I turn around and head for Macao?

  'And get us blown up by the patrols? You make payment when it is due or you do not make your destination! You know that!'

  'One hundred metres, no more. '

  D'Anjou nodded testily while holding the signal light up to his chest. He pressed a button, immediately releasing it, and for a brief moment an eerie, dark blue flash illuminated the pilot's window. Seconds later a corresponding blue signal was seen through the mottled glass from the island's shoreline. 'You see, mon capitaine, had we not come in for the rendezvous this miserable scow would have been blown out of the water. '

  'You were fond enough of her this afternoon!' said the helmsman, working furiously at the wheel.

  That was yesterday afternoon. It is now one-thirty the next morning and I have come to know your thieving ways. ' D'Anjou replaced the light in the locker and glanced at Bourne who was looking at him. Each was doing what he had done many times in the days of Medusa - checking out a partner's apparel and equipment. Both men wore trousers, sweaters and thin rubber skull caps, all black. Their normal clothing was rolled up in canvas bags. Their only other equipment, apart from Jason's automatic and the Frenchman's small . 22-calibre pistol, were scabbarded knives - all unseen. 'Get in as close as you can,' said d'Anjou to the captain. 'And remember, you won't receive the final payment if you're not here when we return. '

  'Suppose they take your money and kill you?' cried the pilot, spinning the wheel. Then I'm our!'

  'I'm touched,' said Bourne.

  'Have no fear of that,' answered the Frenchman, glaring at the Chinese-Portuguese. 'I've dealt with this man many times over many months. Like you, he is the pilot of a fast boat and every bit the thief you are. I line his Marxist pockets so that his mistresses live like concubines of the Central Committee. Also, he suspects I keep records. We are in God's hands, perhaps better. '

  Then take the light,' muttered the captain grudgingly. 'You may need it, and you're no good to me stranded or ripped up on the rocks. ' 'Your concern overwhelms me,' said d'Anjou, 'retrieving the light and nodding at Jason. 'We'll familiarize ourselves with the skiff and its motor. '

  The motor's under thick canvas. Don't start it until you're in the water!

  'How do we know it will start?' asked Bourne.

  'Because I want my money, Silent One. '

  The ride into the beach drenched them both, both bracing themselves against the panels of the small boat, Jason gripping the sides and d'Anjou the rudder and the stern so as to keep from pitching overboard. They grazed a shoal. Metal ground against the rocks as the Frenchman swerved the rudder to starboard, pushing the throttle to maximum.

  The strange, dark blue flash came once again from the beach. They had strayed in the wet darkness; d'Anjou angled the boat towards the signal and within minutes the bow struck sand. The Frenchman swung the stick down, elevating the motor as Bourne leaped overboard, grabbing the rope and pulling the small craft up on the beach.

  He gasped, startled by the figure of a man suddenly next to him, gripping the line in front of him. 'Four hands are better than two,' shouted the stranger, an Oriental, in perfectly fluent English - English with an American accent.

  'You're the contact? yelled Jason, bewildered, wondering if the rain and the waves had distorted his hearing.

  That's such a foolish term!' replied the man, shouting back. 'I'm simply a friend!'

  Five minutes later, having beached the small boat, the three men walked through the thick shorefront foliage, suddenly replaced by scrubby trees. The 'friend' had constructed a primitive lean-to out of a ship's tarpaulin; a small fire faced the dense woods in front, unseen from the sides and the rear, concealed by the tarp. The warmth was welcome; the winds and the drenching rain had chilled Bourne and d'Anjou. They sat cross-legged around the fire and the Frenchman spoke to the uniformed Chinese.

  This was hardly necessary, Gamma-'

  'Gamma?' erupted Jason.

  'I've implemented certain traditions of our past, Delta. Actually, I could have used Tango or Fox Trot - it wasn't all Greek, you know. The Greek was reserved for the leaders. '

  'This is a bullshit conversation. I want to know why we're here. Why you haven't paid him so we can get the hell out?'

  'Man . . . !' said the Chinese, drawing out the word, using the particular American idiom. This cat's uptight! What's his beef?'

  'My beef, man, is that I want to get back to that boat. I really don't have time for tea!'

  'How about Scotch?' said the officer of the People's Republic, reaching behind him, pulling his arm forward and displaying a bottle of perfectly acceptable whisky. 'We'll have to share the cork, as it were, but I don't think we're infectious people. We bathe, we brush our teeth, we sleep with clean whores - at least my heavenly government makes sure they're clean. '

  'Who the hell are you?' asked Jason Bourne.

  'Gamma will do, Echo's convinced me of that. As to what I am, I leave that to your imagination. You might try USC -that's the University of Southern California - with graduate studies in Berkeley - all those protests in the sixties, surely you remember them. '

  'You were a part of that crowd?'

  'Certainly not! I was a staunch conservative, a member of the John Birch Society who wanted them all shot! Screeching freaks with no regard for their nation's moral commitments. '

  'This is a bullshit conversation. ' 'My friend Gamma,' interrupted d'Anjou, 'is the perfect intermediary. He is an educated double or triple or conceivably quadruple agent working all sides for the benefit of his own interests. He is the totally amoral man and I respect him for that. '

  'You came back to China? To the People's Republic?'

  'It's where the money was,' admitted the officer. 'Any repressive society offers vast opportunities for those willing to take minor risks on behalf of the repressed. Ask the commissars in Moscow and the Eastern bloc. Of course, one must have contacts in the West and possess certain talents that can also serve the regimental leaders. Fortunately, I'm an exceptional sailor, courtesy of friends in the Bay Area who owned yachts and small motor craft. I'll return one day. I really do like San Francisco. '

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