Read The Bourne Dominion Online

Authors: Robert & Lustbader Ludlum,Robert & Lustbader Ludlum

Tags: #FIC000000

The Bourne Dominion (2 page)

BOOK: The Bourne Dominion
4.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

He swung up onto the WaveRunner and broke the driver’s neck. Before he tossed him into the water, he unhooked the speargun from his belt. The driver of the second WaveRunner had seen what was happening and was in the process of turning when Bourne drove directly at him. The driver made the wrong choice. Drawing a handgun, he squeezed off
two shots, but it was impossible to aim accurately on the bucking vehicle. By this time Bourne was close enough to make the leap. He swung the speargun, launching the WaveRunner’s driver off the vehicle even while he took control of it.

Alone, now, on the sapphire water, Bourne sped away.

Book One

One Week Later

look like fools.”

The president of the United States glared around the Oval Office, fixing his eyes on the men standing almost at attention. Outside, the afternoon was bright and sunny, but in here the tension in the room was so oppressive it felt as if the president’s own private thunderstorm had rolled in.

“How did this sorry state of affairs happen?”

“The Chinese have been ahead of us for years,” said Christopher Hendricks, the newly minted secretary of defense. “They’ve begun building nuclear reactors in order to wean themselves off oil and coal, and now as it turns out they own ninety-six percent of the world’s production of rare earths.”

“Rare earths,” the president thundered. “Just what the hell are rare earths?”

General Marshall, the Pentagon’s chief of staff, shifted from one foot to the other, clearly uncomfortable. “They’re minerals that—”

“With all due respect, General,” Hendricks said. “Rare earths are elements.”

Mike Holmes, the national security adviser, turned to Hendricks. “What’s the difference and who the hell cares?”

“Each of the rare earth oxides exhibits its own unique properties,” Hendricks said. “Rare earths are essential for a host of new technologies including electric cars, cell phones, windmills, lasers, superconductors, high-tech magnets, and—to many in this room, especially you, General, most important of all—military weaponry in all areas crucial to our continued security: electronic, optical, and magnetic. Take, for example, the Predator unmanned aircraft or any of our next-generation precision-guided munitions, laser targeting, and satellite communications networks. They all depend on rare earths we import from China.”

“Well, why the hell didn’t we know about all this before?” Holmes fumed.

The president plucked a number of sheets off his desk, holding them up like washing on a line. “Here we have Exhibit A. Six memos dated over the last twenty-three months from Chris to your staff, General, making the same points Chris has made here.” The president turned one of the memos around and read from it. “ ‘Is anyone at the Pentagon aware that it takes two tons of rare earth oxides to make a single new energy windmill, that those windmills we use are imported from China?’ ” He looked inquiringly at General Marshall.

“I never saw those,” Marshall said stiffly. “I have no knowledge—”

“Well, at least someone on your staff does,” the president cut in, “which means that, at the very least, General, your lines of communication are fucked.” The president hardly ever used foul language, and there ensued a shocked silence. “At worst,” the president continued, “there’s a case to be made for gross negligence.”

“Gross negligence?” Marshall blinked. “I don’t understand.”

The president sighed. “Clue him in, Chris.”

“As of five days ago, the Chinese slashed their export quotas of rare earth oxides by seventy percent. They are stockpiling rare earths for their own use, just as I predicted they’d do in my second Pentagon memo thirteen months ago.”

“Because no action was taken,” the president said, “we’re now good and screwed.”

“Tomahawk cruise missiles, the XM982 Excalibur Precision Guided Extended Range Artillery Projectile, the GBU-28 Bunker Buster smart bomb”—Hendricks counted the weaponry off on his fingers—“fiber optics, night-vision technology, the Multipurpose Integrated Chemical Agent Detector known as MICAD and used to detect chemical poisons, Saint-Gobain Crystals for enhanced radiation detection, sonar and radar transducers…” He cocked his head. “Shall I go on?”

The general glared at him but wisely kept his venomous thoughts to himself.

“So.” The president’s fingers drummed a tattoo on his desk. “How do we get out of this mess?” He did not want an answer. Depressing a button on his intercom, he said, “Send him in.”

A moment later a small, round, balding man bustled into the Oval Office. If he was intimidated by all the power in the room, he didn’t show it. Instead he gave a little head bow, much as someone would when addressing a European monarch. “Mr. President, Christopher.”

The president smiled. “This, gentlemen, is Roy FitzWilliams. He’s in charge of Indigo Ridge. Besides Chris, any of you heard of Indigo Ridge? I thought not.” He nodded. “Fitz, if you would.”

“Absolutely, sir.” FitzWilliams’s head bounced up and down like a bobblehead. “In 1978 Unocal bought Indigo Ridge, an area in California with the largest deposit of rare earths outside of China. The oil giant wanted to exploit the element deposits, but with one thing and another they never got around to it. In 2005 a Chinese company made a bid for Unocal, which Congress stopped because of security concerns.” He cleared his throat. “Congress was worried about oil refining getting into Chinese hands; it had never heard of Indigo Ridge or, for that matter, rare earths.”

“So,” the president said, “simply by the grace of God, we retained control of Indigo Ridge.”

“Which brings us to the present,” Fitz said. “Through the efforts of you, Mr. President, and Mr. Hendricks, we have formed a company, called NeoDyme. So much money is needed that NeoDyme is being taken public tomorrow in an enormous IPO. Some of what I’ve told you is, of course, in the public domain. Interest in rare earths has quickened
with the Chinese announcement. We’ve also been taking the NeoDyme story on the road, talking the IPO up to key securities analysts, so we hope that they will be recommending the stock to their clients.

“NeoDyme will not only begin the mining of Indigo Ridge, which should have begun decades ago, but also ensure the future security of the country.” He pulled out a note card. “To date, we have identified thirteen rare earth elements in the Indigo Ridge property, including the vital heavy rare earths. Shall I list them?”

He looked up. “Ah, no, maybe not.” He cleared his throat again. “Just this week our geologists delivered even better news. The latest test bores have given indications of the presence of a number of socalled green rare earths, a tremendously significant find for the future, because even the Chinese mines don’t contain these metals.”

The president rolled his shoulders, which he did when coming to the crux of the matter at hand. “Bottom line, gentlemen, NeoDyme is going to become the most important company in America, and possibly—I assure you this is not an overstatement—in the entire world.” His piercing gaze rested on everyone in the room in turn. “It goes without saying that security at Indigo Ridge is a top priority for us now and into the foreseeable future.”

He turned to Hendricks. “Accordingly, I am this day creating a topsecret task force, code-named Samaritan, which will be headed by Christopher. He will liaise with all of you, draw resources as he sees fit from your domains. You will cooperate with him in every way.”

The president stood. “I want to make this crystal clear, gentlemen. Because the security of America—its very future—is at stake, we cannot afford even one mistake, one miscommunication, one dropped ball.” His eyes caught those of General Marshall. “I will have zero tolerance for turf wars, backbiting, or interagency jealousies. Anyone holding back intelligence or personnel from Samaritan will be severely disciplined. Consider yourselves warned. Now go forth and multiply.”

oris Illyich Karpov broke the arm of one man and jammed his elbow into the eye socket of the second. Blood spurted and heads hung. The
stink of sweat and animal fear rose heavily from the two prisoners. They were bound to metal chairs bolted to the rough concrete floor. Between them was a drain, ominous in its circumference.

“Repeat your stories,” Karpov said. “Now.”

As newly appointed head of FSB-2, the Russian secret police arm built by Viktor Cherkesov from an anti-narcotics squad into a rival of Russia’s FSB, inheritor of the KGB’s mantle, Karpov was cleaning house. This was something he had longed to do for many years. Now, through a deal made in strictest confidence, Cherkesov had given him the chance.

Karpov, leaning forward, slapped them both. The normal procedure was to isolate suspects in order to ferret out discrepancies in their answers, but this was different. Karpov already knew the answers; Cherkesov had told him all he needed to know about not only the bad apples in FSB-2—those on the take from certain
families or what business oligarchs remained after the Kremlin crackdown of the last several years—but also the officers who would seek to undermine Karpov’s authority.

No one was speaking, so Karpov stood up and exited the prison cell. He stood alone in the sub-basement of the yellow-brick building just down the road from Lubyanka Square, where the rival FSB was still headquartered, just as it had been since the time when it was overseen by the terrifying Lavrentiy Beria.

Karpov shook out a cigarette and lit it. Leaning against a dank wall, he smoked, a silent, solitary figure, locked within thoughts of how he would redirect FSB-2’s energies, how he could build it into a force that would find permanent favor with President Imov.

When his fingers began to burn he dropped the butt, ground it beneath his heel, and strode into the neighboring cell, where a rotten officer of FSB-2 sat, broken. Karpov hauled him up and dragged him into the cell with the two officers. The scuffling commotion caused them to lift their heads and stare at the new prisoner.

Without a word, Karpov drew his Makarov and shot the man he was holding in the back of the head. The percussion was such that the bullet exited the brain through the forehead in a spray of blood and brains
that spattered the two men bound to their chairs. The corpse pitched forward, sprawled between them.

Karpov called out and two guards appeared. One carried a large reinforced black plastic lawn bag, the other a chain saw, which, at Karpov’s direction, he started up. A puff of oily blue smoke rose from the machine, and then the two men went to work on the corpse, beheading then dismembering it. On either side, the two officers looked down, unable to tear their eyes away from the grisly sight. When Karpov’s men were finished, they gathered up the pieces and dropped them into the lawn bag. Then they left.

“He didn’t answer questions.” Karpov looked hard from one officer to the other. “His fate is your fate, most certainly, unless…” He allowed his voice to die off like smoke rising from a fire that was only just starting.

“Unless what?” Anton, one of the officers, said.

“Shut the fuck up!” Georgy, the other, snapped.

“Unless you accept the inevitable.” Karpov stood in front of them, but he addressed Anton. “This agency is going to change—with you or without you. Think of it this way. You have been granted a singular opportunity to become part of my inner circle, to give me both your faith and your fealty. In return, you live and, quite possibly, you prosper. But only if your allegiance is to me and me alone. If it wavers so much as a little, your family will never know what happened to you. There won’t even be a body left to bury, to comfort your loved ones, nothing, in fact, to mark your time on this earth.”

“I swear undying loyalty to you, General Karpov, on this you can rely.”

Georgy spat, “Traitor! I’ll tear you limb from limb.”

Karpov ignored the outburst. “Words, Anton Fedarovich,” he said.

“What must I do, then?”

Karpov shrugged. “If I have to tell you, there’s no point, is there?”

Anton appeared to consider a moment. “Untie me then.”

“If I untie you, then what?”

“Then,” Anton said, “we will get to the point.”


“Without a doubt.”

Karpov nodded and, moving around behind the two, untied Anton’s wrists and ankles. Anton stood up. He was careful not to rub the rawness of his wrists. He held out his right hand. Karpov stared fixedly into his eyes, then, after a moment, he presented his Makarov butt-first.

“Shoot him!” Georgy cried. “Shoot
, not me, you fool!”

Anton took the pistol and shot Georgy twice in the face.

Karpov looked on without expression. “And now how shall we dispose of the body?” This was said in the manner of an oral exam, a final, the culmination, or perhaps the first step in indoctrination.

Anton was as careful with his answer as he was thoughtful. “The chain saw was for the other. This man… this man deserves nothing, less than nothing.” He stared down at the drain, which looked like the maw of a monstrous beast. “I wonder,” he said, “have you any strong acid?”

orty minutes later, under bright sunshine and a perfectly blue sky, Karpov, on his way to brief President Imov on his progress, received the briefest of text messages. “Border.”

“Ramenskoye,” Karpov said to his driver, referring to Moscow’s main military airport, where a plane, fueled and fully manned, was always at his disposal. The driver made a U-turn as soon as traffic allowed, and stepped on the accelerator.

he moment Karpov presented his credentials to the military immigration official at Ramenskoye, a man so slight Boris at first mistook him for a teenager stepped out of the shadows. He wore a plain dark suit, a bad tie, and scuffed, dusty shoes. There was not an ounce of fat on him; it was as if his muscles were welded into one lithe machine. It was as if he’d honed his body for use as a weapon.

“General Karpov.” He did not offer his hand or any form of greeting. “My name is Zachek.” He offered neither a first name nor a patronymic.

BOOK: The Bourne Dominion
4.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Journeyer by Jennings, Gary
Kissing the Beehive by Jonathan Carroll
My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne
Bury This by Andrea Portes
Kissed by Elizabeth Finn
T*Witches: Don’t Think Twice by H.B. Gilmour, Randi Reisfeld