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'Good God, why?'

'Because they can't trust him. They don't know what he's done or where he's been for a long period of time and he can't tell them. ' Marie paused, closing her eyes briefly. 'He doesn't know who he is. He doesn't know who they are; and the man from Washington hired other men to kill him last night That man wouldn't listen, they think he's betrayed them, stolen millions from them, killed men he's never heard of. He hasn't but he doesn't have any clear answers either. He's a man with only fragments of a memory, each fragment condemning him. He's a near total amnesiac. '

Villiers's lined face was locked in astonishment, his eyes pained in recollection. ' "For all the wrong reasons. . . " He said that to me. "They have men everywhere . . . the orders are to execute me on sight I'm hunted by men I don't know and can't see. For all the wrong reasons. "'

'For all the wrong reasons,' emphasized Marie, reaching across the narrow table and touching the old man's arm. 'And they do have men everywhere, men ordered to kill him on sight. Wherever he goes, they'll be waiting. "

'How will they know where he's gone?"

'He'll tell them. It's part of his strategy. And when he does, they'll kill him. He's walking into his own trap. '

For several moments Villiers was silent, his guilt overwhelming. Finally he spoke in a whisper. 'Almighty God, what have I done?'

'What you thought was right. What he persuaded you was right. You can't blame yourself. Or him, really. '

'He said he was going to write out everything that had happened to him, everything that he remembered . . . How painful that statement must have been for him. I can't wait for that letter, Mademoiselle. We can't wait. I must know everything you can tell me. Now. '

'What can you do?'

'Go to the American Embassy. To the ambassador. Now. Everything. '

Marie St Jacques withdrew her hand slowly as she leaned back in the booth, her dark red hair against the banquette. Her eyes were far away, clouded with the mist of tears. 'He told me his life began for him on a small island in the Mediterranean called lie de Port Noir. . . '

The Secretary of State walked angrily into the office of the director of Consular Operations, the department's section dealing with clandestine activities. He strode across the room to the desk of the astonished director, who rose at the sight of this powerful man, his expression a mixture of shock and bewilderment.

'Mr Secretary? . . . I didn't receive any message from your office, sir. I would have come upstairs right away. '

The Secretary of State slapped a yellow legal pad down on the director's desk. On the top page was a column of six names written with the broad strokes of a felt-tipped pen.

Bourne

Delta

Medusa

Cain

Carlos

Treadstone

'What is this?' asked the Secretary. 'What the hell is this?' The director of Cons-Op leaned over the desk. 'I don't know, sir. They're names, of course. A code for the alphabet - the letter D - and a reference to Medusa; that's still classi-0ed, but I've heard of it. And I suppose the "Carlos" refers to the assassin; I wish we knew more about him. But I've never heard of "Bourne" or "Cain" or "Treadstone". '

'Then come up to my office and listen to a tape of a telephone conversation that I've just had with Paris and you'll learn all about them!' exploded the Secretary of State. 'There are extraordinary things on that tape, including killings in

Ottawa and Paris and some very strange dealings our First Secretary in the Montaigne had with a C. I. A. man. There's also outright lying to the authorities of foreign governments, to our own intelligence units and to the European newspapers - with neither the knowledge or the consent of the Department of State! There's been a global deception that's spread misinformation throughout more countries than I want to think about. We're flying over under a deep diplomatic a Canadian woman, an economist for the government in Ottawa who's wanted for murder in Zurich. We're being forced to grant asylum to a fugitive, to subvert the laws, because if that woman's telling the truth we've got our ass in a sling 1 I want to know what's been going on. Cancel everything on your calendar, and I mean everything. You're spending the rest of the day and all night if you have to digging this damn thing out of the ground. There's a man walking around who doesn't know who he is, but with more classified information in his head than ten sterile computers!'

It was past midnight when the exhausted director of Consular Operations made the connection; he had nearly missed it The First Secretary at the embassy in Paris, under threat of instant dismissal, had given him Alexander Conklin's name. But Conklin was nowhere to be found. He had returned to Washington from Brussels on a military jet in the morning; but had signed out of Langley at 1. 22 in the afternoon, leaving no telephone number - not even an emergency number -where he could be reached. And from what the director had learned about Conklin, that omission was extraordinary. The C. I. A. man was what was commonly referred to as a shark-killer; he directed individual strategies throughout the world where defection and treason were suspected. There were too many men in too many stations who might need his approval or disapproval at any given moment. It was not logical for him to sever that cord for twelve hours. What was also unusual was the fact that his telephone logs had been scratched; there were none for the past two days and the Central Intelligence Agency had very specific regulations concerning those logs. Traceable accountability was the new order of the new regime. However, the director of Cons-Op had learned one fact: Conklin had been attached to Medusa.

Using the threat of State Department retaliation, the director had requested a closed circuit readout of Conklin's logs for the past five weeks. Reluctantly, the agency beamed them over and the director sat in front of a screen for two hours, instructing the operators at Langley to keep the tape repeating until he told them to stop.

Eighty-six logicals had been called, the word Treadstone mentioned; none had responded. Then the director went back to the possible; there was an Army man he had not considered because of his well-known antipathy to the C. I. A. But Conklin had telephoned him twice during the space of twelve minutes a week ago. The director called his sources at the Pentagon and found what he was looking for: Medusa.

Brigadier-General Irwin Arthur Crawford, current ranking officer in charge of Army Intelligence data banks, former commander Saigon, attached to covert operations - still classified. Medusa.

The director picked up the conference room phone; it bypassed the switchboard. He dialled the Brigadier's home in Fairfax and, on the fourth ring, Crawford answered. The State Department man identified himself and asked if the General cared to return a call to State and be put through for verification.

'Why would I want to do that?'

'It concerns a matter that comes under the heading of Treadstone. '

'I'll call you back. '

He did so in eighteen seconds, and within the next two minutes the director had delivered the outlines of the State's information.

"There's nothing there we don't know about,' said the Brigadier. 'There's been a control committee on this from the beginning; the Oval office were given a preliminary summation within a week of the inauguration. Our objective warranted the procedures, you may be assured of that. '



Tags: Robert Ludlum, Eric Van Lustbader Jason Bourne Thriller
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