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.“¡Fantástico! En verdad, me sorprende.” Vegas was grinning.Fantastic! Truly, I’m surprised.Rosie smiled at him.“Pero yo no lo soy.” But I’m not.“You’ll have to tell us about your escape.”“But not now.” Vegas slapped the palm of his hand against the jeep’s door.“Anyone left alive?”“Not from their side.”“Cada vez mejor.” Better and better.He squinted up the mountainside to the plume of smoke.“Big fire.”“Your house,” Bourne said.“This way no one will know whether you or Rosie are dead or alive for days, maybe weeks.”“Excelente.” Vegas nodded.“Where to now, hombre?”“The airport at Perales,” Bourne said.“But both the federales and FARC have set up roadblocks on the main highway.Do you know a shortcut?”Vegas’s grin spread across the entire width of his face.“Follow me, amigo.”Marlon Etana, having arrived by private charter plane in Cadiz at more or less the same time Jalal Essai drove in, stood dreaming as he looked at the beautiful ancient facade of Don Fernando Hererra’s seaside house.Here in Cadiz, Etana felt the terrible weight of history in the palm of his hand.Marlon Etana—in fact, all the Etanas—were serious students of history.Marvelous businessmen in the purest sense of the word, they had the knack of spinning the knowledge they gleaned from the past into money and power.It was the Etanas who had founded the Monition Club as a way for Severus Domna to come together in various cities across the globe without attracting attention or using the group’s real name.To the outside world, the Monition Club was a philanthropic organization involved in the advancement of anthropology and ancient philosophies.It was a hermetically sealed world in which the sub-rosa members of the group could move, meet, compare work, and plan initiatives.The Etanas had envisioned a cross-cultural cabal of businessmen, spanning both the Eastern and Western worlds, whose combined power and influence would eventually dwarf those of even the largest of the multinational corporations.Duco ex umbra, influence from the shadows—that had been the motto of the Etana family from time immemorial.Marlon’s great-great-great-grandfather—a giant among men—had laid out long-term plans for Severus Domna, a way to help the world grow together rather than splinter apart.It was a noble dream and, certainly, if he had lived long enough it might have come to fruition.But human beings are fallible—worse, they are corruptible, and influence is the great corruptor.Exceedingly rare is the man who can ignore its glittering temptation, and even some of the Etanas succumbed.Not the least of these was Marlon’s father, who was weak-willed.In order to fend off a threat from a group inside the Domna, he had forged an alliance with Benjamin El-Arian.Rather than becoming his savior, the clever El-Arian happily arranged for the man’s downfall.El-Arian had already lined up a rival group within the Domna and, with its help, proceeded to toss the elder Etana aside.Soon after, Marlon’s father took his own life—a terrible sin.For an Islamic, the lowest level of hell is reserved for suicides, because Allah has forbidden it in many verses of the Qur’an.The one Marlon had memorized, upon looking at his father’s blank face, was: “And do not kill yourselves.Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you.”Marlon did not know whether his father believed that Allah had been merciful to him, or whether he felt he had been abandoned.All he knew was that he’d used what little strength was left inside him to cause an uproar inside Severus Domna, to cause outrage and, hopefully, out of that outrage the beginnings of a difficult debate concerning the soul of the organization.Benjamin El-Arian, clever devil, had seen through the veil of the suicide and had forbidden any debate whatsoever.And so, Marlon, all that was left of the once mighty Etana dynasty, without whose vision the Domna would not exist, had been reduced to taking orders from Benjamin El-Arian.He had become a whipped dog, begging for whatever scraps El-Arian saw fit to throw to him.Just after noon, Marlon saw movement at the front door to Hererra’s house.Jalal Essai and Don Fernando emerged.They spoke for a few minutes before shaking hands in the Western style.Hererra climbed into a car parked at the curb and drove off alone.When the car was out of sight, Essai turned and began to walk toward the water.Marlon followed at a discreet distance.Essai’s pace was no more than a casual stroll, he gave the impression that he had nothing to do and nowhere to go.He followed Essai along the crescent waterfront, where Essai picked up several newspapers from a kiosk vendor.About a mile farther on he approached a café with a blue-and-white awning.A red anchor logo was stitched onto the awning’s center.Marlon Etana observed Essai seat himself at a table facing the water and proceed to order lunch.Marlon took several deep breaths, then retreated a distance so he could keep Essai in sight but also have a wider field of vision.Stepping into the shadows of a doorway, he checked that his pistol was loaded and functional.Then he drew a noise suppressor out of his pocket and screwed it onto the end of the barrel.He gave himself over to one of his Zen-inspired deep-breathing exercises.The moment he saw a figure pass by a second time, Etana walked briskly along the waterline, a man with an urgent purpose.The man followed.Benjamin El-Arian had set him on Etana to make sure he terminated Jalal Essai.And if by some chance Etana failed, the shadow would take over the mission.Etana led his shadow to the far end of the beachhead, beyond the piers and harbors, out along a strip of beach whose unpleasant constitution ensured it was deserted until the middle of the night, when, he had observed, kids used it to party, drink, and have clandestine sex.Etana had found it a nauseating sight, another vivid example of the corruption of the West.A fishing boat, turned keel-up, sat up on a block of wood.The boat was rotting, the keel line encrusted with barnacles, entwined with dried seaweed.A faint odor of decomposition floated off the impromptu structure, which, to Marlon, seemed appropriate.He chose a perch along the keel and shook out a cigarette.As he put the cigarette between his lips, he drew his pistol with its elongated barrel and, turning, shot the shadow between the eyes.There was some noise, but none at all when the body hit the sand.Pocketing the pistol, Etana walked over to the shadow and, grabbing him by the back of his collar, dragged him the fifty or so yards to the upturned boat.With some difficulty, he jammed the corpse into the open space beneath the craft.It already smelled bad enough that a decomposing body would not arouse any attention for days, maybe a week.By then the seagulls would surely have done their work, and no one would be able to identify the corpse.Dusting off his hands, Marlon Etana drew smoke deep into his lungs and started back the way he had come.There was no one around, no one to see him.Best of all, there was no one to report back to Benjamin El-Arian.Now it was time, he thought, to engage with Jalal Essai.Boris Karpov wanted to murder someone.If one of the German cops was still stalking the back alley—as they had been for the past three hours while the forensics team in the watchmaker’s shop methodically went about its business—the German would have been a dead man.In the darkness that had descended over Munich, Boris had found his legs spasming, cramping, then, worst of all, growing weak.His head pounded with his need to urinate.He felt that if he didn’t pee soon his bladder would surely burst [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]