The Janson Directive (Janson Series #1)by Robert Ludlum
One of the world's greatest men has been kidnapped.
Nobel laureate, international financier, and philanthropist Peter Novak - a billionaire who has committed his life and fortune to fostering democracy around the world through his Liberty Foundation - has been captured by the forces led by the near-mythical terrorist known as The Caliph. Holding Novak in a/p>… See more details below
One of the world's greatest men has been kidnapped.
Nobel laureate, international financier, and philanthropist Peter Novak - a billionaire who has committed his life and fortune to fostering democracy around the world through his Liberty Foundation - has been captured by the forces led by the near-mythical terrorist known as The Caliph. Holding Novak in a near impenetrable fortress, The Caliph has refused to negotiate for his release, planning instead to brutally execute Novak in a matter of days.
Running out of time and hope, Novak's people turn to a man with a long history of defeating impossible odds: Paul Janson. For decades, Janson was an operative and assassin whose skills and exploits made him a legend in the notorious U.S. covert agency Consular Operatations. No longer able to live with the brutality, bloodshed, and personal loss that marked his career, Janson has retired from the field and nothing could lure him back. Nothing except Peter Novak, a man who once saved Janson's life when everyone else was powerless to help.
With the considerable resources of The Liberty Foundation at his disposal, Janson hastily assembles a crack extraction team, setting in motion an ingenious rescue operation. But the operation goes horribly wrong and Janson is marked for death, the target of a "beyond salvage" order issued from the highest level of the government.
Now he is running for his life, pursued by Jessica Kincaid, a young agent of astonishing ability who - as a student of Janson's own lethal arsenal of tactics and techniques - can anticipate and counter his every move. To survive, Janson must outrace a conspiracy that has gone beyond the control of its originators. To win, he must counter it with a conspiracy of his own.
With mere days, perhaps only hours, remaining, and shadowed by a secret that links Janson's violent life with that of the visionary peacemaker Peter Novak, Janson's only hope is to uncover the nearly unimaginable truth behind these events - a truth that has the power to foment wars, topple governments, and change the very course of history.
“Loaded with all the intrigue, paranoia, and real-life parallels that made Ludlum famous.” People
Read an Excerpt
N. Indian Ocean, 250 miles east of Sri Lanka
The night was oppressive, the air at body temperature and almost motionless. Earlier in the evening there had been light, cooling rains, but now everything seemed to radiate heat, even the silvery half-moon, its countenance brushed with the occasional wisps of cloud. The jungle itself seemed to exhale the hot, moist breath of a predator lying in wait.
Shyam shifted restlessly in his canvas chair. It was, he knew, a fairly ordinary night on the island of Anura for this time of year: early in the monsoon season, the air was always heavy with a sense of foreboding. Yet only the ever attentive mosquitoes disturbed the quiet. At half past one in the morning, Shyam reckoned he had been on checkpoint duty for four and a half hours. In that time, precisely seven motorists had come their way. The checkpoint consisted of two parallel lines of barbed-wire frames--"knife rests"--set up eighty feet apart on the road, to either side of the search and administration area. Shyam and Arjun were the two sentries on forward duty, and they sat in front of the wooden roadside booth. A pair of backups was supposedly on duty on the other side of the hill, but the hours of silence from them suggested that they were dozing, along with the men in the makeshift barracks a few hundred feet down the road. For all the dire warnings of their superiors, these had been days and nights of unrelieved boredom. The northwestern province of Kenna was sparsely populated in the best of times, and these were not the best of times.
Now, drifting in with the breeze, as faint as a distant insect drone, came the sound of a gunned motor.
Shyam slowly got to his feet. The sound was growing closer.
"Arjun," he called out in a singsong tone. "Ar-jun. Car coming."
Arjun lolled his head in a circle, working out a crick in his neck. "At this hour?" He rubbed his eyes. The humidity made the sweat lie heavily on his skin, like mineral oil.
In the dark of the semi-forested terrain, Shyam could finally see the headlights. Over a revved-up motor, loud whoops of delight could be heard.
"Dirty farm kids," Arjun grumbled.
Shyam, for his part, was grateful for anything that interrupted the tedium. He had spent the past seven days on the night shift at the Kandar vehicle checkpoint, and it felt like a hardship post. Naturally, their stone-faced superior had been at pains to emphasize how important, how crucial, how vital in every way, the assignment was. The Kandar checkpoint was just up the road from the Stone Palace, where the government was holding some sort of hush-hush gathering. So security was tight, and this was the only real road that connected the palace to the rebel-held region just to the north. The guerrillas of the Kagama Liberation Front knew about the checkpoints, however, and kept away. As did most everyone else: between the rebels and the anti-rebel campaigns, more than half the villagers to the north had fled the province. And the farmers who stayed in Kenna had little money, which meant that the guards could not expect much by way of "tips." Nothing ever happened, and his wallet stayed thin. Was it something he had done in a previous life?
The truck came into view; two shirtless young men were in the cab. The roof was down. One of boys was now standing up, pouring a sudsy can of beer over his chest and cheering. The truck--probably loaded with some poor farmer's kurakkan, or root crops--was rounding the bend at upward of eighty miles per hour, as fast as the groaning engine would go. American rock music, from one of the island's powerful AM stations, blared.
The yelps and howls of merriment echoed through the night. They sounded like a pack of drunken hyenas, Shyam thought miserably. Penniless joyriders: they were young, wasted, didn't give a damn about anything. In the morning they would, though. The last time this happened, several days earlier, the truck's owner got a visit later that morning from the youths' shamefaced parents. The truck was returned, along with many, many bushels of kurakkan to make amends for whatever damage had been done. As for the kids, well, they couldn't sit without wincing, not even on a cushioned car seat.
Now Shyam stepped into the road with his rifle. The truck kept barreling forward, and he stepped back. No use being stupid about it. Those kids were blind drunk. A beer can was lobbed into the air, hitting the ground with a thunk. From the sound, it was a full one.
The truck veered around the first knife rest, and then the second knife rest, and kept going.
"Let Shiva tear them limb from limb," Arjun said. He scrubbed at his bushy black hair with his stubby fingertips. "No need to radio the backstop. You can hear these kids for miles."
"What are we supposed to do?" Shyam said. They were not traffic cops, and the rules did not permit them to open fire on just any vehicle that failed to stop.
"Peasant boys. Bunch of peasant boys."
"Hey," Shyam said. "I'm a peasant boy myself." He touched the patch sewn on his khaki shirt: ARA, it read. Army of the Republic of Anura. "This isn't tattooed on my skin, all right? When my two years are up, I'm going back to the farm."
"That's what you say now. I got an uncle who has a college degree; he's been a civil servant for ten years. Makes half what we do."
"And you're worth every ruvee," Shyam said with heavy sarcasm.
"All I'm saying is, you got to seize what chances life gives you." Arjun flicked a thumb at the can on the road. "Sounds like that one's still got beer in it. Now, that's what I'm talking about. Pukka refreshment, my friend."
"Arjun," Shyam protested. "We're supposed to be on duty together, you know this? The two of us, yes?"
"Don't worry, my friend." Arjun grinned. "I'll share."
When the truck was half a mile past the roadblock, the driver eased up on the accelerator, and the young man riding shotgun sat down, wiping himself off with a towel before putting on a black T-shirt and strapping himself in. The beer was foul, noisome, and sticky in the heavy air. Both guerrillas looked grave.
An older man was seated on the flat bench behind them. Sweat made his black curls cling to his forehead, and his mustache gleam in the moonlight. The KLF officer had been prone and invisible when the truck crashed the checkpoint. Now he flicked the communicate button on his walkie-
talkie, an old model but a sturdy one, and grunted some instructions.
With a metallic groan, the rear door of the trailer was cracked open so that the armed men inside could get some air.
The coastal hill had many names and many meanings. The Hindus knew it as Sivanolipatha Malai, Shiva's footprint, to acknowledge its true origins. The Buddhists knew it as Sri Pada, Buddha's footprint, for they believed that it was made by Buddha's left foot when he journeyed to the island. The Muslims knew it as Adam Malai, or Adam's Hill: tenth-century Arab traders held that Adam, after he was expelled from Paradise, stopped here and remained standing on one foot until God recognized his penitence. The colonial overlords--first the Portuguese and then the Dutch--viewed it with an eye to practical rather than spiritual considerations: the coastal promontory was the ideal place for a fortress, where mounted artillery could be directed toward the threat posed by hostile warships. It was in the seventeenth century that a fortress was first erected on the hill; as the structure was rebuilt over the following centuries, little attention was ever paid to the small houses of worship nearby. Now they would serve as way stations for the Prophet's army during the final assault.
Ordinarily, its leader, the man they called the Caliph, would never be exposed to the confusion and unpredictability of an armed engagement. But this was no ordinary night. History was being written this night. How could the Caliph not be present? Besides, he knew that his decision to join his men on the terrain of battle had increased their morale immeasurably. He was surrounded by stouthearted Kagama who wanted him to be a witness to their heroism or, if it should turn out to be the case, their martyrdom. They looked at the planes of his face, his fine ebony features, and his strong, sculpted jaw, and they saw not merely a man anointed by the Prophet to lead them to freedom but a man who would inscribe their deeds in the book of life, for all posterity.
And so the Caliph kept vigil with his special detail, on a carefully chosen mountainous perch. The ground was hard and wet beneath his thin-soled boots, but the Stone Palace--or, more precisely, its main entrance--glowed before him. The east wall was a vast expanse of limestone, its weathered stones and wide, freshly painted gate bathed in lights that were sunk into the ground every few feet. It shimmered. It beckoned.
"You or your followers may die tonight," the Caliph had told the members of his command hours before. "If so, your martyrdom will be remembered-- always! Your children and your parents will be sanctified by their connection to you. Shrines will be built to your memory! Pilgrims will travel to the site of your birth! You will be remembered and venerated, always, as among the fathers of our nation."
They were individuals of faith, fervor, and courage, whom the West was pleased to scorn as terrorists. Terrorists! For the West, the ultimate source of terror in the world, this term was a cynical convenience. The Caliph despised the Anuran tyrants, but he hated with a pure hate the Westerners who made their rule possible. The Anurans at least understood that there was a price to be paid for their usurpation of power; the rebels had repeatedly brought that lesson home, written it with blood. But the Westerners were accustomed to acting with impunity. Perhaps that would change.
Now the Caliph looked at the hillside around him and felt hope--not merely for himself and his followers but for the island itself. Anura. Once it had taken back its own destiny, what would it not be capable of? The very rocks and trees and vine-draped hillocks seemed to urge him on.
Mother Anura would vindicate her protectors.
Centuries ago, visitors had to resort to the cadence of poetry in order to evoke the beauty of its flora and fauna. Soon colonialism, fueled by envy and avarice, would impose its grim logic: what was ravishing would be ravished, the captivating made captive. Anura became a prize for which the great maritime empires of the West would contend. Battlements rose above the spice-tree groves; cannonballs nestled on the beaches among the conch shells. The West brought bloodshed to the island and it took root there, spreading across the landscape like a toxic weed, nourished on injustice.
What did they do to you, Mother Anura?
Over tea and canapes, Western diplomats drew lines that would bring tumult to the lives of millions, treating the atlas of the world like a child's Etch-A-Sketch.
Independence, they had called it! It was one of the great lies of the twentieth century. The regime itself amounted to an act of violence against the Kagama people, for which the only remedy was more violence. Every time a suicide bomber took out a Hindu government minister, the Western media pontificated about ''senseless killings,'' but the Caliph and his soldiers knew that nothing made more sense. The most widely publicized wave of bombings--taking out ostensibly civilian targets in the capital city, Caligo--had been masterminded by the Caliph himself. The vans were rendered invisible, for all intents, by the forged decals of a ubiquitous international courier and freight service. Such a simple deception! Packed with diesel-soaked nitrate fertilizer, the vans delivered only a cargo of death. In the past decade, this wave of bombings was what aroused the greatest condemnation around the world--which was an odd hypocrisy, for it merely brought the war home to the warmongers.
Now the chief radio operator whispered in the Caliph's ear. The Kaffra base had been destroyed, its communications infrastructure dismantled. Even if they managed to get the word out, the guards at the Stone Palace had no hope for backup. Thirty seconds later, the radio operator had yet another message to convey: confirmation that a second army base had been reclaimed by the people. A second thoroughfare was now theirs. The Caliph felt his spine begin to tingle. Within hours, the entire province of Kenna would be wrested from a despotic death grip. The shift of power would begin. National liberation would glimmer over the horizon with the sun.
Nothing, however, was more important than taking the Steenpaleis, the Stone Palace. Nothing. The Go-Between had been emphatic about it, and so far the Go-Between had been right about everything, starting with the value of his own contributions. He had been as good as his word--no, better. He had been generous to the point of profligacy with his armaments and, equally important, his intelligence. He had not disappointed the Caliph, and the Caliph would not disappoint him. The Caliph's opponents had their resources, their backers and benefactors; why should he not have his?
"It's still cold!'' Arjun cried out with delight as he picked up the beer can. The outside of the can was actually frosty. Arjun pressed it to the side of his face, moaning with pleasure. His fingers melted oval impressions in the icy coating, which glinted cheerily in the checkpoint's yellow mercury light.
"And it's really full?'' Shyam said doubtfully.
"Unopened,'' Arjun said. ''Heavy with the health drink!'' And it was heavy, unexpectedly so. "We'll pour off a swig for the ancestors. A few long swallows for me, and whatever drops are left for you, since I know you don't like the stuff.'' Arjun's thick fingers scrabbled for the pull tab, then gave it a firm yank.
The muffled pop of the detonator, like the sound of a party favor that spews confetti, came milliseconds before the actual explosion. It was almost enough time for Arjun to register the thought that he had been the victim of a small prank and for Shyam to register the thought that his suspicions--although they had remained at the not-quite-conscious level of vague disquiet--had been justified. When the twelve ounces of plastique exploded, both men's trains of thought came to an end.
The blast was a shattering moment of light and sound that instantly expanded into an immense, fiery oval of destruction. The shock waves destroyed the two knife rests and the wooden roadside booth, as well as the barracks and those who slept there. The pair of guards who were supposed to have been on duty as backstop at the other end of the roadblock died before they awoke. The intense, momentary heat caused an area of the red laterite soil to crust into an obsidian-like glass. And then, as quickly as it arrived, the explosion--the deafening noise, the blinding light--vanished, like a man's fist when he opens his hand. The force of destruction was fleeting, the destruction itself permanent.
Fifteen minutes later, when a convoy of canvas-topped personnel carriers made its way through what remained of the checkpoint, no subterfuge would be necessary.
There was an irony, the Caliph realized, in the fact that only his adversaries would fully understand the ingenuity of the predawn onslaught. On the ground, the fog of war would obscure what would be obvious from far away: the pattern of precisely coordinated attacks. The Caliph knew that within a day or so, analysts at the American spy agencies would be peering at satellite imagery that would make the pattern of activity as clear as a textbook diagram. The Caliph's victory would become the stuff of legend;
his debt to the Go-Between--not least at the insistence of the Go-Between himself--would remain a matter between him and Allah.
A pair of binoculars was brought to the Caliph, who surveyed the honor guards arrayed before the main gate.
They were human ornaments, an accordion of paper dolls. Another instance of the government's elitist stupidity. The compound's nighttime illumination rendered them sitting ducks while simultaneously impeding their ability to see anything in the surrounding darkness.
The honor guards represented the ARA's elite--typically, those with relatives in high places, mannerly careerists with excellent hygiene and a knack for maintaining the crease in their neatly pressed uniforms. The cr;ageme de la cr;ageme br;aful;aaee, the Caliph reflected to himself with a mixture of irony and contempt. They were showmen, not warriors. Through the binoculars, he gazed at the seven men, each holding a rifle braced upright on his shoulder, where it would look impressive and be perfectly useless. Not even showmen. Playthings.
The chief radio operator nodded at the Caliph: the section commander was in position, ensuring that the barracked soldiers would be undeployable. A member of the Caliph's retinue presented him with a rifle: it was a purely ceremonial act that he had devised, but ceremony was the handmaiden of power. Accordingly, the Caliph would fire the first shot, using the very same rifle that a great independence fighter had used, fifty years ago, to assassinate the Dutch governor general. The rifle, a bolt-action Mauser M24, had been perfectly reconditioned and carefully zeroed. Unwrapped from the silk that had enfolded it, it gleamed like the sword of Saladin.
The Caliph found the number one guard in the weapon's scope and exhaled halfway so that the crosshairs settled on the center of the man's beribboned chest. He squeezed the trigger and intently watched the man's expressions--successively startled, anguished, dazed. On the man's upper right torso, a small oval of red bloomed, like a boutonniere.
Now the other members of the Caliph's detail followed suit, loosing a brief fusillade of well-aimed bullets. Marionettes released from their strings, the seven officers collapsed, tumbled, sprawled.
Despite himself, the Caliph laughed. These deaths had no dignity; they were as absurd as the tyranny they served. A tyranny that would now find itself on the defensive.
By sunrise, any free-floating representatives of the Anuran government that remained in the province would be well advised to shred their uniforms or else face dismemberment by hostile mobs.
Kenna would no longer be part of the illegitimate Republic of Anura. Kenna would belong to him.
It had begun.
The Caliph felt a surge of righteousness, and the clear piercing truth filled him like a light. The only solution to violence was more violence.
Many would die in the next several minutes, and they would be the fortunate ones. But there was one person in the Stone Palace who would not be killed--not yet. He was a special man, a man who had come to the island in an attempt to broker a peace. He was a powerful man, revered by millions, but an agent of neocolonialism nevertheless. So he had to be treated with care. This one--the great man, the "peacemaker,'' the man of all peoples, as the Western media insisted--would not be a casualty of a military skirmish. He would not be shot.
For him, the proper niceties would be observed.
And then he would be beheaded as the criminal he was.
The revolution would be nourished on his blood!
Copyright 2002 by Robert Ludlum
Meet the Author
Robert Ludlum's 24 internationally bestselling novels have been read by hundreds of millions worldwide. His books include The Bourne Identity and The Prometheus Deception.
Robert Ludlum (1927-2001) was the author of 25 thriller novels, including The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum--the books on which the international hit movies were based--and The Sigma Protocol. He was also the creator of the Covert-One series. Born in New York City, Ludlum received a B.A. from Wesleyan University, and before becoming an author, he was a United States Marine, a theater actor and producer.
- Date of Birth:
- May 25, 1927
- Date of Death:
- March 12, 2001
- Place of Death:
- Naples, Florida
- B.A., Wesleyan University, 1951
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