The Bourne Ascendancy by Eric Van Lustbader

Description : The Bourne Ascendancy
Seven ministers entered the famed Al-Bourah Hotel in Doha. Seven ministers from Jordan, Syria, Qatar, Iraq, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, grim-faced, all carrying briefcases locked to their wrists by chains, each needing their personal thumbprint to open. They held themselves like kings, these ministers, and in some cases they were as powerful as the kings of past ages. They were apanied by their bodyguards—men grimmer still than their masters, as heavily muscled as they were armed, ready for any sudden noise or movement.

In the vast lobby, the entourage passed between two rows of gigantic marble pillars, then through the elaborate security screening process their respective countries had paid for,manded by a dozen uniformed, battle-hardened mercenaries hired specially for this occasion.

The ministers and their bodyguards rode in a pair of elevators to the top floor, walked silently down a thickly carpeted hallway studded on either side with more mercenaries, and entered an enormous light-filled conference room.

They took their places around a polished rosewood table, thumbed open their hard-sided steel-and-titanium-reinforced briefcases, removed files red-stamped TOP SECRET. Their bodyguards uncapped iced bottles of water, sipped the water first, then poured it into glasses that had been hand-washed by trusted personnel. With military precision, the bodyguards stepped back to a spot just behind and to the right of their respective masters.

Besides the bottles of water, oversized cut-glass ashtrays had been set out in front of each chair. More than half the ministers shook out cigarettes and lit them. They inhaled deeply and gratefully.

Behind them, through bulletproof windows, Doha was already baking in the morning sun. Heat ignited ripples that rose up the glass-and-steel sides of the sleek...
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