فصل 01

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فصل 01

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Chapter one

The Return of the Jackal

The summer night was hot in Baltimore. In the amusement park the music from the different attractions was loud, and people’s faces and necks shone with sweat under the colored lights.

A thin middle-aged man, a walking stick gripped in his right hand, limped through the crowds. His name was Alexander Conklin and he had once been an officer in the Central Intelligence Agency. He was at this moment very anxious. He did not wish to be in this place at this time.

Suddenly, he stopped in shock, his eyes on a tall man about his own age. Morris Panov was walking toward him. Why? What had happened? Conklin looked around in every direction, knowing that he and Panov were being watched. It was too late to stop the psychiatrist from entering the center of the meeting ground but it might not be too late to get them both out! Conklin moved quickly forward, limping and swinging his walking stick against the crowd, hitting knees and pushing it at stomachs until people shouted and moved angrily away. He then rushed forward and shouted into Panov’s face through the noise of the crowd.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“The same as I think you are. David - or should I say Jason? That’s what the message said.”

“It’s a trap!”

There was a scream that was louder than the angry crowd. Both Conklin and Panov immediately looked around. Only meters away, a woman had been shot in the throat. The crowd went crazy. Conklin turned, trying to see where the shot had come from, but saw only moving figures. He took hold of Panov and pulled him through the screaming, frightened bodies toward the far end of the park.

“My God!” shouted Panov. “Was that meant for one of us?”

“Maybe… maybe not,” replied Conklin breathlessly as the sound of police whistles was heard in the distance. “You said it was a trap!”

“Because we both got a crazy message from David using a name he hasn’t used in five years - Jason Bourne! And if I’m not mistaken, your message said that under no condition should we call his house.”

“That’s right.”

“It’s a trap. You move better than I do, so get out of here, run and find a telephone. Call his house. Tell David to take Marie and the children and get out of there!”


“Somebody found us! Somebody looking for Jason Bourne.”

“Do you know what you’re saying, Alex?”

“You’re damned right I do. It’s Carlos. Carlos the Jackal! Now get out of here and don’t go home! Take a room at the Brookshire Hotel in Baltimore under the name of - Morris, Phillip Morris. I’ll meet you there later. Now hurry!”

The car raced south, down a quiet road through the hills of New Hampshire. The driver was a tall man with a strong face and a look of anger in his eyes. Beside him sat his attractive wife, holding a baby of eight months. In the back seat was another child, a boy of five, asleep under a blanket. The father was David Webb, a university professor, but once part of Medusa, where he was known as Jason Bourne, the assassin.

“We knew it had to happen,” said Marie St. Jacques Webb. “It was just a question of time.”

“It’s crazy!” Webb said quietly. “Everything’s buried, top secret. How did anybody find Alex and Mo?”

“Alex doesn’t know, but he’ll start looking. There’s no one better than Alex - you said that yourself -“

“He’s marked now - he’s a dead man,” said Webb.

“It’s too soon to say that, David. ‘He’s the best there ever was’ - those were your words.”

“Yes, he may live, but not Mo. They’ll take him and fill him up with drugs until he tells them about his whole life. Then they’ll kill him and come after me… after us, which is why you and the kids are going to the Caribbean.”

“I’ll send them, dear. Not me.”

“Stop it! We agreed when Jamie was born. That’s why we gave the money to your brother. We now own half of a hotel down a dirt road on an almost unknown island.”

Marie looked at her husband and what she saw frightened her more than the thought of the Jackal. She was not looking at David Webb, the quiet university professor. She was staring at a man they both thought had disappeared from their lives forever.

Alexander Conklin limped into the conference room at the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia. He stood facing a long table, large enough to seat thirty people, but instead there were only three. One was Peter Holland, the gray-haired DCI: Director of Central Intelligence. On each side of him sat Casset and Valentino, his two deputy directors. All of them had worked with Conklin. They knew him well and trusted him, as he did them, but none appeared pleased to see him. The greetings were short and, instead of taking a seat near the DCI, Conklin pulled out a chair at the far end of the table and sat down.

“Now that we’ve said hello, can we get to the point, gentlemen?”

“That’s not a very polite or friendly way to begin, Mr. Conklin,” said the director.

“Just tell me why top secret information that puts a number of lives at risk was released.”

“That couldn’t happen, Alex, and you know it,” said Casset.

“I don’t know it and it did happen. A man who is owed more by this country than can ever be repaid is running in terror, with his wife and children. Some of the information in that file was passed on and it worries me deeply because my name is there… mine and Dr. Morris Panov’s. We were the only two people known to be close to Jason Bourne. If anybody wants any part of that file it has to be approved by the top level here in Langley - that’s you, gentlemen. And then I have to be contacted and approve it, or if I’m dead, Morris Panov. No one knows the rules better, because I wrote them, with the full authority of the President of the United States.”

“That’s a very high level, Mr. Conklin,” said the director.

“Yes, and if I don’t get some answers I’ll take this straight to the White House and see what they think.”

The two deputy directors started talking at once but Holland held up his hand for silence. He picked up the telephone on the table.

“Please ask Mr. DeSole to come to the conference room,” he said.

“Yes, I remember DeSole,” Conklin said. “He knows everything but if he can’t pass it on, he says nothing - he doesn’t lie. “ There was a knock on the door and a middle-aged man with glasses walked into the room. He crossed to Conklin’s chair.

“Good to see you again. It’s been two or three years now?”

“More like four, Steve,” replied Conklin, shaking hands. “How’s the keeper of the keys?”

“Oh, it’s all done by computer now. I don’t go on foreign trips with an armed guard any more.”

“Sit down, Mr. DeSole,” said the director. “At this end of the table, so Alex can study us as we explain to him. This morning I received a phone call from Edward McAllister, chairman of the National Security Agency. McAllister was with you in Hong Kong, Mr. Conklin, wasn’t he?”

“Yes, he was shot and wounded so badly that he almost died.”

“He didn’t tell me that, but he did say I should give our meeting with you top priority. He also told me about the file you are talking about, and its level of secrecy. I gave this information to Mr. DeSole, so I’ll let him tell you what he has learned.”

“It hasn’t been touched, Alex,” said DeSole quietly. “It’s been unopened for four years, five months and twenty-one days.”

“So what happened?” said Conklin softly.

“We have to look elsewhere,” said the DCI. “But there’s another thing. Most of the information about Bourne is still secret - even from us. I don’t want to start opening files that were closed by the White House but there’s little we can do to help if we’re completely uninformed.”

Conklin looked at each man, trying to come to a difficult decision. “Where do I begin?” he said.

“With this meeting?” suggested the director. “Why did you arrange it?”

Conklin looked down at the table for a moment, then lifted his head. “A woman was killed last night in an amusement park in Baltimore -“

“I read about it in the newspaper this morning,” said DeSole.

“Were you involved?” asked the director.

“I was there - Morris Panov and I. We both received messages from Jason Bourne asking us to come to the amusement park at nine-thirty last night. When I saw Panov I knew something was wrong, so I got him out, but that poor woman was killed.”

“What do you think of it all?” asked Valentino.

“I just don’t know, Val. It was a trap, but what kind of trap? If the intention was to kill me, or Panov, how could a hired gunman miss at that distance? That’s if my thinking is right.”

“Right,’ Mr. Conklin,” said the DCI, “meaning the assassin, Carlos the Jackal?”

“Carlos?” said DeSole. “What does he have to do with it?”

“Jason Bourne,” answered Casset.

“Bourne was a violent criminal who was killed in the Far East five years ago, but Alex talks as if he was still alive.”

“I think you should start at the beginning, Mr. Conklin,” said the director. “Who is Jason Bourne?”

“As the world knew him, a man who never existed,” replied Conklin. “Let’s start by going back a number of years, to the war in Vietnam…”

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