فصل 07

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فصل 07

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Chapter seven

Treadstone Seventy-one

It was a quiet street in a good area of Manhattan. No one would imagine that it contained one of the most secretive organizations in the United States. Only eight people in the country knew of its existence. Gordon Webb, now ringing the doorbell, was one of them, although he had never visited the house before.

Inside, he was welcomed by David Abbott and introduced to Elliot Stevens, a trusted assistant to the president.

“What did you find out in Zurich?” Abbott asked Webb when they were all seated.

“Carlos has men in Washington; maybe even in Treadstone. He found the special instructions and changed them. So he had already identified Bourne, the account-holder, as Cain… That information is only in the Medusa papers.”

“Good God! There are only three copies, and very few people are allowed to see them.”

“One of those people is working for Carlos.”

There was silence while the three men thought about this.

“I saw the newspaper report about the Canadian woman,” Stevens said then. “Also Carlos’s work?”

“Yes - we couldn’t stop it, but she’s not a killer. We simply added the equally false story about the missing money.” He looked at Abbott. “Although that may not actually be false.”

“But why did you use a Canadian citizen?” Stevens asked coldly. “The Canadians are already very angry about the death of one of their economists, who made the mistake of asking questions about an unlisted American company and was killed for it.”

“We’re trying to save her life,” Webb said. “Bourne knows that the story’s false. Through it, we’re telling Bourne to come home.”

“Jason Bourne,” Abbott told Stevens, “is an American spy. There is no Cain in the sense that Carlos believes. He’s a trap for Carlos. That’s who he is. Or was.”

“I think you should explain,” Stevens said. “The President has to know.”

“Three years ago we invented a man and gave him a life. He was a killer who raced around South-east Asia. When there was a killing, or an unexplained death, there was Cain. Informants were given his name. It appeared in embassy reports. Cain was everywhere. And he was. Bourne showed himself, always with a different appearance, speaking in one of a number of languages, talking to serious criminals as a professional criminal.”

“He’s been living this lie for three years?” Stevens asked.

“Yes. When he moved to Europe, he was known as the most skilled white assassin in Asia. There he saved four men who Carlos had been contracted to kill, and took responsibility for killings that Carlos had done. He has laughed at Carlos, trying to force him out into the open. I don’t think there’s any way a nation can repay a man like Bourne for the work he’s done.” Abbott paused. “If it is Bourne.”

“What?”

“Too many things have happened that make no sense to us. He disappeared for six months, after he tried to stop Carlos’s contract for the killing of Howard Leland. Then he came back. It was Bourne at the bank - the signatures were real. But who is he now? Who is he loyal to? Why is he with the woman? Why is she with him? Millions of dollars have been taken, men have been killed, and there have been traps for other men. But who for? Who by?” Abbott shook his head. “Who is the man out there?”

In a car further down the street, a European turned a switch. “That’s all we needed to know,” he said quietly to himself. “But you didn’t tell them, Abbott, that on March 25, 1968, Jason Bourne was killed by another American in Tam Quan.” He turned to the driver beside him. “Quick!” he said. “Get behind the steps to the front door.”

The European took a long, thin gun with a silencer on it and followed the driver toward the house. The door opened. Stevens was being shown out. The driver fired twice, then both men ran into the building. In seconds, everyone in it was dead.

The European took all the paperwork he could find. It was more than he had hoped for - every code and method of communication used by the invented Cain. Then the final job. He picked up a glass and took a piece of tape from a small, plastic case in his pocket. He pressed the tape against the glass, then slowly took it off. He held the glass up to the light. The fingerprints on it were clear. He dropped the glass, took some of the pieces, and knocked others behind a curtain. They would be enough.

Twenty-four hours later, four men met at a hotel in Washington D.C.; there was no time to look for a meeting place outside the city. These were the living members of Treadstone Seventy- one. Alexander Conklin worked for the CIA and, like one of the two army officers, General Irwin Crawford, had been part of the Medusa operation. The fourth man was an old and much-admired senator from Colorado.

“I’m meeting the President tonight,” the senator said. “Tell me everything you can. What happened?”

“Webb’s driver found the bodies when Webb didn’t return to the car,” Crawford told him. “He wisely called the Pentagon, not the police, and spoke to me personally. I sent officers, but told them to do nothing until I arrived. I then called Conklin and we flew to New York with an FBI team. The place was completely clean except for a fingerprint on a piece of broken glass.”

“Delta’s,” said the senator.

“Yes, and the glass was still wet with wine. Also, outside this room, Delta’s the only person who knows about the house.”

“It’s unbelievable.” The senator shook his head. “Why?”

“You know that he was never my choice,” the general said. “In Medusa, Delta frequently disobeyed orders.”

“He was usually right,” said Conklin angrily. “You spent too much time in Saigon to know what was happening on operations.”

“I’m just trying to show how his behavior could lead to the events on Seventy-first Street.”

“I’m sorry,” the CIA man said. “I know you are. Delta changed after his wife and children were killed in Phnom- Penh - it’s why he went into Medusa and then was willing to become Cain. He hated that war, hated everyone in it. And I think you’re right, Crawford. It’s happened again. He went beyond his limits and became filled with hate. Look at the way he killed those men in Treadstone. We invented a man called Cain and now he is Cain.”

“So why did he come back here?” the senator asked.

“I don’t know,” Conklin answered. “To kill us all? Does he know who the rest of us are? His only contact with us was Abbott. But I think we’ve become the enemy.”

‘And he knew Webb, of course,” said Crawford. “But not through Treadstone.”

“Yes, we shouldn’t forget that. He even killed his own brother. We’ll send his picture out now, to every contact, every informant we have. He’ll spend money, he’ll buy another identity. We’ll find him. Then we have no choice - we have to kill him.”

They left the hotel quickly, but not quickly enough. Bourne saw the look of recognition on the receptionist’s face as he paid the bill. The man’s eyes were on Marie. As they ran for a taxi, he was reaching for the telephone.

Pretending to be American tourists, they asked the taxi driver to suggest a number of small hotels outside Paris. He drove them to one, and they immediately took a different taxi to another. By this time, Marie had changed her hairstyle and her make-up.

“So who do you think is sending us a message?” Bourne asked when they were in their room.

“I think they expect me to call the Canadian embassy, for their protection. Dennis Corbelier.”

“No,” Bourne said. “You’re wrong.” It was sent by Carlos. I am Cain and you must leave me. He saw the fear in her eyes. “All right,” he agreed, “but do it my way.”

He called the reception desk and asked for another room in the name of Briggs, for friends who would arrive later. Then he took some of his clothes, and hers, and arranged that room before he allowed her to call. She told Corbelier that she was innocent of the killings; that she needed help; that “he” was with her, and that they were using the name Briggs. Corbelier promised to send a car.

At two in the morning, they were standing outside their room in the darkness, listening, waiting, when the two men came. The men walked softly to Mr. and Mrs. Briggs’s room, shot out the door lock with a silenced gun, and ran inside. More shooting followed before a light went on, then cries of anger.

When they had run out again, Bourne led Marie to the room and showed her what had been done to it, especially the bullet holes in the bedclothes.

“There’s your message,” Bourne said, as she cried in his arms. “And now I think you should listen to me.”

But Marie had had another thought and was quickly on the phone, calling the embassy. As she feared, Dennis Corbelier had been shot in the throat at 1.40 that morning, on the embassy steps.

“I’ll listen to you, Jason,” Marie told him. “A message was sent, but not to us, not to me. Only to you.”

For 1,500 francs, the receptionist was more than happy to lend his car. The guests were, he agreed, unlikely to find a taxi so early in the morning. Soon after that, Bourne and Marie were sitting in the small Renault in the middle of the countryside.

Three weeks before, in Switzerland, Bourne had started his story with the words: My life began five months ago on a small island in the Mediterranean… This time, he began: I’m known as Cain. He told it all - names, cities, dates… assassinations. Medusa. “We were wrong.”

“Maybe,” Marie said, “but also right. If that man existed, you’re not him now. Can you walk away from it?”

“Yes,” Bourne said, “but alone. I’m wanted by governments, and by the police. Men in Washington want to kill me because of what they think I know. An assassin wants to shoot me in the throat because of what I’ve done to him. In the end, one of those armies will find me, trap me, kill me. Do you want to be there?”

“No!” shouted Marie. “But don’t forget - I’ll die in a Swiss prison for things that I didn’t do in Zurich.”

“I can stop that. I could give myself to the police and take responsibility. I’m not sure how yet, but I will stop it.”

“You see?” Mane said softly. “Is that what Cain would do? Thank you for your offer, but I don’t accept.” She was quiet for a minute. “Jason, these two sides of you… Is it possible that those crimes were committed but they weren’t yours? That people want you to believe they’re yours? Do you know how easy it is to make someone believe that they’re someone else, through words and pictures, repeated again and again? Your memories could be false memories. It’s possible that you’ve been used.” Bourne stared at her. “And if you’re wrong?”

“Then leave me. Or kill me. I don’t care.”

“I love you… I found two telephone numbers in Lavier’s office. With luck, they can lead me to the number I need - to Treadstone. If I’m not Cain, someone at that number knows who I am.”

Back in Paris, Marie called the Zurich number first - disconnected. From another phone, she called the local number. “La residence du General Villiers. Bonjour?”

Marie stared at the phone, then put it down. “I’ve just reached the home of one of the most admired and powerful men in France.”

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