The Bourne Betrayal



THE CHINOOK CAME beating up into a blood-red sky. It shuddered in the perilous crosscurrents, banking through the thin air. A web of clouds, backlit by the failing sun, streamed by like smoke from a flaming aircraft.

Martin Lindros stared intently out of the military copter carrying him upward into the highest elevations of the Semien mountain range. While it was true that he hadn't been in the field since the Old Man had appointed him to the position of deputy director of Central Intelligence four years ago, he'd made sure that he'd never lost his animal edge. He trained three mornings a week at the CI field agent obstacle course outside Quantico, and every Thursday night at ten he washed away the tedium of vetting electronic intel reports and signing action orders by spending ninety minutes at the firing range, reacquainting himself with every manner of firearm, old, current, and new. Manufacturing action of his own served to assuage his frustration at not being more relevant. All that changed, however, when the Old Man approved his operations proposal for Typhon.

A thin keening knifed through the interior of the CI-modified Chinook. Anders, the commander of Skorpion One, the five-man squad of crack field operatives, nudged him, and he turned. Peering out the window at the shredding clouds, he saw the wind-ravaged north slope of Ras Dejen. There was something distinctly ominous about the forty-five-hundred-meter mountain, tallest in the Simien range. Perhaps that was because Lindros remembered the local lore: legends of spirits, ancient and evil, who supposedly dwelled on its upper reaches.

The sound of the wind rose to a scream, as if the mountain were trying to tear itself from its roots.

It was time.

Lindros nodded and moved forward to where the pilot sat strapped securely into his seat. The deputy director was in his late thirties, a tall, sandy-haired graduate of Brown who had been recruited into CI during his doctorate in foreign studies at Georgetown. He was whip-smart and as dedicated a general as the DCI could ask for. Bending low so he could be heard over the noise, Lindros gave the pilot the final coordinates, which security dictated he keep to himself until the last possible moment.

He had been in the field just over three weeks. In that time, he'd lost two men. A terrible price to pay. Acceptable losses, the Old Man would say, and he had to retrain himself to think that way if he was to have success in the field. But what price do you put on human life? This was a question that he and Jason Bourne had often debated, without an acceptable answer being reached. Privately, Lindros believed there were some questions to which there was no acceptable answer.

Still, when agents were in the field, that was another matter altogether. "Acceptable losses" had to be accepted. There was no other way. So, yes, the deaths of those two men were acceptable, because in the course of his mission he had ascertained the veracity of the report that a terrorist organization had gotten its hands on a case of triggered spark gaps somewhere in the Horn of Africa. TSGs were small, ultra-high-energy switches, used to turn on and off enormous levels of voltage: high-tech escape valves to protect electronic components such as micro-wave tubes and medical testing devices. They were also used to trigger nuclear bombs.

Starting in Cape Town, Lindros had followed a twisting trail that led from Botswana, to Zambia, through Uganda, to Ambikwa, a tiny agricultural village-no more than a fistful of buildings, a church and a bar among them-amid alpine pastureland on the slope of Ras Dejen. There he had obtained one of the TSGs, which he had immediately sent back to the Old Man via secure courier.

But then something happened, something extraordinary, something horrifying. In the beaten-down bar with a floor of dung and dried blood, he had heard a rumor that the terrorist organization was transshipping more than TSGs out of Ethiopia. If the rumor was true, it had terrifying implications not only for America, but for the entire world, because it meant the terrorists had in their possession the instrument to plunge the globe into nightmare.

Seven minutes later, the Chinook settled into the eye of a dust storm. The small plateau was entirely deserted. Just ahead was an ancient stone wall-a gateway, so the local legends went, to the fearsome home of the demons that dwelled here. Through a gap in the crumbling wall, Lindros knew, lay the