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Author: Rae Evans. To Ray, for all his help and the midnight chats. Couldn't have done it without you.
Rating: Rated PG13 - Violence and some bad language are featured in this fic.
Summary: Benny Ray and Margo get caught up in a very unusual kidnapping and Benny Ray meets an enemy from his past. Sequel to Life Cover. This is the second story in a trilogy.
Disclaimer: The SOF team and associated characters are not mine, they belong to Rysher. The others are mine. No profit is made by my use of the Rysher characters, so please don't sue.

Page 1

FACTORY PREMISES
WORLDWIDE FOODS LTD
CAMBERLEY
SURREY
TUESDAY: DAY 1: T -21 HOURS

The day shift was coming to an end. The tall blond woman Supervisor was walking along behind her staff. As normal their attention to detail was fastidious. The contract with British Airways was the largest the Company had and the highest standards had to be maintained. At exactly 5.00pm a buzzer sounded indicating a change in shifts. The Supervisor was due to finish work too but it had become part of her routine that she would wait until the next shift were in place and ready to commence operations. For a few minutes the Supervisor was alone. A few small adjustments were made to six food packages and the covers replaced to indicate that these were meals for vegans. In an effort to continually improve customer relations BA had introduced new ranges of in flight meals. Meals for vegans was one such change. The Supervisor packed the six meals into the last few places for BA flight 844 Heathrow to Los Angeles, due to leave at 1400 hours. the wheeled container was put into the chiller and the door shut.

The Supervisor drove home in her red Renault Clio smiling. That was her last day of work in this life. In a few days she would be rich beyond her wildest dreams and sitting on a beach with a drink in one hand and the rest of her life before her. Her hand went up to her head and the blonde wig came off in her hand. She ruffled the dyed black hair which had been pinned back and turned on the car radio. Shania Twain was playing "Man I feel like a Woman". She laughed. How apt! She drove on.

HEATHROW AIRPORT
BRITISH AIRPORT AUTHORITY SECURITY CHECK
WEDNESDAY: DAY 2: T - 2 HOURS

Just before 1200 hours the Worldwide Foods Ltd truck pulled up outside Security Gate B. Sam Jones, the normal driver, nodded to the Security Guard and handed him the manifest. The Security Guard inspected the paper work and asked that Sam turn off the ignition and open the back of the truck. The same routine had been followed every time Sam delivered to the airport and he climbed down to comply. The back was opened up and the Guard climbed in. He went immediately to the containers marked for flight 844 and checked the hot food containers until he found the one for the vegans. Carefully peeling back the lid he checked the contents of one. Perfect. Everything was returned to normal and the Guard jumped down. Sam locked up the back and drove through the checkpoint until he reached the allotted parking space. The Jumbo was originating from here according to his records and would be available soon for him to deliver the containers to the galleys.

Behind him the Security guard had already left his post and was heading to a Range Rover with tinted windows parked outside the security fence. When he reached the vehicle he opened the rear passenger door and threw the cap he had been wearing on to the still form on the back seat. Blood had stained the leather but that was of no concern to him. The dead security guard would be found soon enough. He slid into the front seat passenger side and proceeded to change clothes. The driver, a tall woman with dyed black hair, smiled at him and eased the car into the traffic, heading towards the short stay car park. They parked up, took their luggage from the back and walked into the International Terminal at Heathrow like hundreds of others had done that day.

BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHT 844 HEATHROW TO LOS ANGELES
SEAT NUMBERS 5A & B
WEDNESDAY: DAY 2: T - 30MINUTES

Benny Ray Riddle settled into his aisle seat and held Margo's book whilst she put on her seat belt. He smiled,

"No need to worry yet, Margo, we haven`t even lifted off and Chance isn't flying this one."

Margo Vincent looked at him sideways and arched her eyebrows,

"You can never be too careful Benny Ray."

He chuckled, handed her the book and did up his own seatbelt. Just then the Stewardess walked past handing out water to any of the World Business Class Passengers who had already boarded. She offered the water first to Margo who declined. As she turned her attention Benny Ray she smiled and in a low husky voice asked if he wanted water. When he too declined she pouted slightly and asked if there was anything else she could get him. There was definite intention behind the question. As Benny Ray returned the smile Margo leant forward and placing her right hand over his left, spoke to the stewardess in the silkiest smoothest deadliest voice she could muster,

"My husband and I will let you know if we need anything, thank you."

The smile which accompanied the words could have chilled blood. The stewardess stood up quickly and made a swift exit. Margo leaned back with the smile on her face changing to reflect the cat who had just got the cream.

"Margo?" Benny Ray asked.

"If you think I am spending the next 11 hours watching you and the bimbo flutter eyelids at each other you are very much mistaken." She said icily, "and how was Lizzie?"

"Mother Hen" Benny Ray chuckled, "and Lizzie was fine."

When Margo had suggested that she and Benny Ray attend the IACSP Annual Terrorism Trends and Forecasts Symposium in Frankfurt, he had looked at her as if to say Why me? What have I done to deserve this? Matt had given them the all clear after a quick call to Trout and he felt that he was being ganged up on. It was not until Margo had pointed out that HK were showing off their new CAL.4.6m x30 PDW that his eyes lit up and he willingly agreed to go. As Margo opened her book he settled back in his seat and his mind drifted back to the demonstration. He had been seriously impressed by the new compact sub machine gun. Personal Defence Weapon was a misnomer, this beauty had everything you could want in a front line attack weapon; safe, semi and full automatic modes of fire with a stated cyclic rate on full auto of 950rpm, foldable forward vertical grip, conventional 20 round magazine in the pistol grip with an optional 40 round magazine extending below and with a retractable shoulder stock and small heads up display, he had been in seventh heaven at the gun range. He was going to tell Matt that as soon as possible these were a must for the team. Maybe Trout could pull a few strings and get them access to the weapons before they were on the open market. He sighed contentedly.

"So things were good with Lizzie?" Margo enquired. Benny Ray started guiltily. Looking at Margo he could see her smile and knew she had been fishing for information.

When the Symposium finished Margo had let it slip that she wanted to extend their stay by a few days as she wanted to visit Claudia. The Fashion Designer that Margo habitually used was based in Berlin which as far as Margo was concerned was just a hop skip and a jump away and she therefore could not give up the opportunity to visit when she was this close. After Benny Ray had asked what he was supposed to do for the next couple of days, Margo had suggested that he go with her, that Claudia might find something for him too. Considering that Claudia had put Matt in a kilt and had made Deke look like 'Huggy Bear on steroids', the last thing Benny Ray wanted was to go any where near the woman. He declined in a hurry and decided that distance was a good option,

"I might go visit Lizzie."

"That`s a good idea" Margo had agreed in a non- committal voice and he got the distinct feeling once again that Margo had been manipulating him.

Benny Ray looked at Margo and decided two could play at that game. He settled back in his seat and pretended to dose.

"Benny Ray?" Margo queried. He said nothing and she realised that getting the information she wanted out of the sniper was not going to be that straight forward. She had managed to get him to Germany easily enough and to England to visit the woman he had formed such a bond with six months ago. Since then she knew they had chatted on the Internet and talked on the 'phone but nothing was happening and she had got frustrated. Normally Margo wouldn't involve herself in the love lives of the rest of the team, she certainly didn't want them meddling in hers, but this, she rationalised to herself, was different. When Lizzie had left there were unresolved issues for both of them, but mostly for Lizzie, and the only way she was going to be able recover fully was if she and Benny Ray met face to face again. Margo had been where Lizzie was and she knew what was needed and if Benny Ray needed a helping hand to push him in the right direction, Margo was not averse to providing the impetus. She could be patient, she would get the intel she wanted. She was ex CIA after all, if need be she could torture the information out of him. She hoped it wouldn't come to that but if it did she would.

As the 747 400 Jumbo started to taxi to the runway Benny Ray smiled to himself. Taking off was okay it was the landing that concerned him. He knew Margo would be aching to get the information out of him and he knew eventually he would tell her but he would enjoy the short time he had before that happened. He had been nervous about meeting Lizzie again. They had last been together at LA Airport and had parted with the best of intentions about keeping in touch. At first it had been difficult, Lizzie was slow at answering his e mails and he had got frustrated. One evening after dinner with his close friend Diana he had broached the subject with her. She had been in the job and she was a Doctor, if any one would know she would. Diana had explained what Lizzie was going through and Benny Ray had finally come to understand in part what it meant for a woman to be raped. Over the next few months he managed to persuade Lizzie into chat and then the big break through, onto the `phone. When he spoke to her from Frankfurt she had at first been hesitant but had quickly warmed to the idea of a meeting with him. Approaching Birmingham Airport two days previously it had been Benny Ray who had got nervous, but the sight of her smiling face at the gate had dispelled all thoughts of whether this had been a good idea.

Lizzie had given up her job at Crown Life soon after she had returned to England and had spent some months doing very little. She had gone to counselling and it had helped. But what had helped more had been the month on month test results that had come back negative. Once home she had realised that her greatest fear was that she might have Aids or Hepatitis. A fear that so far was unfounded. So when Benny Ray phoned to say he had two spare days and could he come and visit her, she jumped at the chance. Putting down the phone she had second thoughts but now waiting at the gate she couldn't be happier. He strode through the concourse looking just the way she remembered him but without his arm in a sling. She waved like a school girl to attract his attention and saw his face split into a grin when he spotted her. They were both apprehensive when they were face to face but he had taken control and kissed her gently on the cheek.. She blushed and led him out of the airport.

The journey to Lizzie's flat had taken about 45 minutes and once there the two were soon chatting away like long lost friends. Benny Ray had let Lizzie set the pace. They went to dinner, drove into the countryside and walked. And they talked. About their families, their friends, their past and the future. The one thing they didn't talk about was what happened in Mexico. On the last night Lizzie cooked and they ate in. She wasn't the best cook in the world and dinner was a simple affair, but the wine was good and they collapsed on to the sofa after devouring a ready made Pavlova. Lizzie's culinary arts certainly didn't extend that far. A comfortable silence blossomed and Lizzie rested her head against Benny Ray's chest.

"I have a confession to make." she said quietly.

"Don't tell me ya did make the pavlova?" Benny Ray teased.

"No. I knew you would be coming."

Benny Ray sat up and scrutinised her face. "Margo?" he asked. Lizzie nodded. "We have been chatting over the `net for about a month. CJ too."

"Anyone else I should know about?" He wasn't really angry but he felt somehow let down that he hadn't known.

"I came on line one night when you were away and CJ answered. We found we had a lot in common him being a Brit as well. He was stationed not far from where my parents live and we used to drink in some of the same pubs." She stuttered to a halt as Benny Ray kept up his scrutiny.

"And Margo?"

"She asked how I was and we started chatting. It just happened..." She finished lamely.

"So Margo set this whole thing up?"

Lizzie nodded. He smiled, "Remind me to buy her a bottle of her favourite perfume on the way home to say thanks"

"You`re not angry?" Lizzie queried.

"How could I be?"

He sat back in the sofa and Lizzie rested her head again. She turned her head to look up at him and he kissed her lightly on the lips. As he stopped she kissed him in return harder. Her hand went to his hair and pulled his head down to hers. Their tongues met and explored.

"Thank you." She whispered.

"What for?"

"For not pushing."

"When you are ready let me know."

"You will be the first I tell."

They stayed cuddled on the sofa as the stars came out. The lights were off and the curtains open. Lizzie could feel the gentle rise and fall of Benny Ray's chest and felt safe in his arms. The time would come she was sure but not yet, not just yet.

The next morning she had driven him to the Airport where she had met Margo and they had hugged like sisters. Their parting had been better than at LA Airport and Lizzie had commented that saying good bye at airports was becoming a habit she could do without. They had kissed and parted with promises of more `phone calls and chatting and another visit as soon as they both had time.

Benny Ray opened his eyes and looked sideways at Margo. He was hoping she would be reading again but she was still looking at him. The wheels locked back into place in the fuselage of the plane as it banked to the left and continued its assent.

"Benny Ray." She warned.

"Yes Ma'am." He promised.

BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHT 844 HEATHROW TO LOS ANGELES
WEDNESDAY: DAY 2: T + 30 MINUTES

On the upper deck of the Jumbo one young man had just decided which videos he was going to watch during the flight. Jim Davidson, his minder, had told him that one particular film was really good and that even though it was edited for the Airline the special effects should still be spectacular. The young man was looking forward to freedom from his parents. When you had parents like his you had to watch everything you did and said. A couple of years ago he had slipped up badly, his face had been plastered all over the newspapers and his Dad had given him a lashing with his tongue. Since then he had behaved and as a result he was now being allowed to take this trip alone. Provided you counted alone as being accompanied by a member of the Metropolitan Police`s Elite Bodyguard Squad. He was hoping to spend his first year after leaving school in America, taking a year out to travel, have fun and live a little. This trip was a prelude to that. His Dad had set him up with a family in LA who would be his hosts for the first 6 months while he worked. The parents had not reacted as badly as he thought they would when he first suggested a gap year but insisted on him working for at least half the time he was away. They explained that the effect on the press of him swanning around for twelve months would be catastrophic for his father`s chances of being re-elected. So a job had been arranged at a Summer Camp for younger kids. He would be coaching football. That would be all right he decided, he liked football and after six months he would be free to roam and there were some fantastic beaches in LA, he had seen Baywatch.

A steward made an announcement requesting that certain passengers made themselves known to a member of the cabin staff. The list had nine names on it. These were people who had ordered special meals and as always they would be served first. From the lack of reaction in the World Business Class section of the lower deck of the Jumbo no one was choosing an alternative but in the main cabin seven separate lights called attention to nine passengers. One Muslim family of three sitting together had ordered their meal when they booked their tickets three months ago, six other passengers each sitting in different parts of the cabin expected a little more than a vegan meal to be placed in front of them.

With pre meal drinks having been served and with Benny Ray having chosen iced tea and Margo champagne, they both waited for their food. Margo was in the process of explaining why she was celebrating with champagne after a successful shopping trip in Berlin, when she felt Benny Ray stiffen in the seat beside her. They had worked together for a long time now and she knew the man sitting next to her as well as she knew herself. For them to succeed in the way they had done and to survive almost virtually intact, they had to be able to rely on each other completely. Sometimes she thought that the way the whole team worked was like each being a separate part of one whole; they could operate independently but were most effective when they all worked together. She followed his line of sight. There was nothing unusual happening in their part of the cabin. One of the passengers was accompanying a stewardess forward and another two passengers were climbing the stairs to the upper deck. Benny Ray whispered urgently to Margo without turning his head towards her,

"What ever you do, you are not with me, you do not know me, you have never met me before in your life. Right!"

His words brooked no refusal of his demand. She nodded imperceptibly. He must have a damn good reason for doing this and she trusted him implicitly.

"D o you have your ceramic knife?" he asked.

She patted her handbag in reply. He risked one look at her and she saw danger in his eyes.

"What ever happens don't get dragged into this Margo. Something is going down here and it can't be good."

For the next few minutes they sat for all intents and purposes like any other passengers on the plane patiently waiting. Margo felt Benny Ray tense like a coiled spring and she felt like she was sitting on top of a volcano, waiting for it to erupt, but not knowing if or when it would. The plane started to descend and an announcement came over the tannoy which just turned up the heat an extra notch.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Captain Rogers again. I'm sorry to interrupt your pre meal drinks but I am afraid I have some bad news. We have developed a fault in one of the engines. Now I don't want any one to panic after all we do have another three."

The attempt at lightheartedness fell short, the collective gasp from nearly all the passengers when the words "fault" and "engine" were announced still hung in the air. To a man nearly all the passengers tightened or put on their seat belts. Benny Ray undid his and when Margo went to undo hers he placed a hand on her belt and shook his head ever so slightly. Now she was apprehensive. The announcement continued,

"We have decided to take the precautionary step of making a landing at Heathrow where a replacement aircraft has already been arranged. British Airways apologises for the inconvenience this will cause you but as your safe passage is our utmost priority we wish only to ensure that you reach your destination safe and sound. Please fasten your seat belts and we shall be starting our descent to London shortly. Thank you."

Margo had recognised the stress and strain in the Captain's voice. Whatever was happening was nothing to do with an engine fault but she realised had everything to do with a hijacking and somehow Benny Ray had known. The bimbo stewardess was sat in an empty seat at the front of the section they were in, the tall passenger standing next to her , hand resting lightly on her shoulder. Margo tried to twist in her seat to see if the two hijackers who had gone to the upper deck had come down. They hadn't. The hijacker in their section bent and whispered something in the stewardess` ear. Margo saw her nod emphatically. Was the bimbo part of this, she wondered . As the man walked back down the aisle towards them Margo looked every bit the passenger engrossed in her book.. Benny Ray looked straight ahead fearing the worse. It seemed that his fears had been groundless when the man walked past him, but two steps past Benny Ray's seat the man stopped and turned back.

"Well if it isn't the runt. How are you boy? Long time no see. Still trying to save the world?"

Benny Ray said nothing but turned to stare at the man beside him.

"Looks as if you finally learned when to keep your mouth shut runt. " The man snarled. "On your feet Riddle." He ordered.
Benny Ray stood up and lifted his arms into the air when the gun the man was holding encouraged him. He was professionally and thoroughly searched and relieved of his ceramic knife, his wallet and his car keys. The man looked at Benny Ray and verbalised his thoughts,

"Am I just lucky here Riddle, that you are on this flight? I heard you were in the business still, working freelance. Yes, I think I am lucky. If you had known I was involved in this little operation you wouldn't have had the guts to come and face me, would you Riddle." The words were fairly spat at Benny Ray, the man only inches from his face. "No, you would have gone running to some bleeding heart do-gooder wouldn't you Riddle. You're so good at that."

Benny Ray finally spoke, every word dripped venom,

"Ex Sergeant Thomas J Holding. Which rock did you crawl out from under?"

Holding's handgun was placed at Benny Ray's neck.

"Don't think I won't runt. You know I can."

He pushed Benny Ray back toward the front of the compartment. When they reached the stewardess, Holding told her to go back and sit in the seat Benny Ray had just vacated. She got up and quickly scurried to sit next to Margo.

"What is he doing with your husband?" She squeaked in fear.

Margo immediately regretted her earlier comment and decided there was only one way out of this. She placed her hand over the stewardess', copying her previous movement, but now she squeezed hard until she could see the pain on the bimbo's face.

"If you utter one word about him being my husband I shall peel the skin from your face one inch at a time. Do I make myself clear?"

The stewardess could only nod, her safe comfortable world had suddenly imploded. Her plane had been hijacked by gun wielding maniacs and she was stuck next to the passenger from hell.

Margo had listened intently to every word Holding had spoken, taking everything in. Whatever happened now the smallest piece of information could be vital. Benny Ray had given her plenty to go on and with any luck she could gather more and make use of it.

The passengers in the forward compartment had witnessed the scene between Holding and Benny Ray and one or two had seen the gun. Voices were raised in question and after Holding had handcuffed Benny Ray he leaned on the back of Benny Ray's new seat and quietly addressed the passengers, ensuring they all saw the gun pointed at Benny Ray's head.

"Ladies and gentlemen, your Captain has been less than frank with you. The truth is there is nothing wrong with any of the engines on this plane. In fact they are in fine working order. The truth is that this aircraft has been commandeered for my personal use. I wish to travel to Heathrow to transact some business. Now I intend to be fair and once we reach our destination you will be allowed to continue your journey, eventually".

Some of the muttered voices of the passengers started to rise. Holding cut them short.

"You are all intelligent people, please do not force me to take steps you will regret."

The import was deadly and the silence deafening.

On the upper deck the young man was engrossed in his first movie choice. His bodyguard had noticed the passenger who had gone on to the flight deck and was concerned that as yet he had not come out. He was equally concerned that for the last 10 minutes he had not seen their steward. He stood and turned towards the steward's station when a woman passenger came out of the station holding the steward by the arm. Her other hand held a Glock 30 at the steward's head. Her arm came away from the steward's arm and motioned him back into his seat. He knew he was armed and stood a good chance of taking her out, but in an exchange of fire his charge also stood a good chance of being hit or more likely a bullet would puncture the aircraft's hull causing explosive decompression. He sat assessing the situation, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour for now.

HEATHROW AIRPORT
OFFICE OF METROPOLITAN POLICE AIRPORT DIVISION CHIEF OFFICER MATHERS
WEDNESDAY: DAY TWO: T + 2 HOURS 15 MINUTES

Mathers was a tall thin man with a tiny moustache that sheltered under his nose. Right now he was also a very worried man. Flight 844 had landed just fifteen minutes before, having reported engine failure. Emergency vehicles at the scene had minutes ago radioed in to say there was no sign of any problem from the plane. In fact there was no sign of anything from the plane. The doors hadn't opened to evacuate the passengers and when the mobile stairs had been brought up there had been no response from inside the plane.

"What the hell is going on out there?" Mathers shouted to his team who stood by waiting for instructions.

One man holding a walkie talkie informed him that the control tower had lost contact with the plane immediately on landing and had been unable to re- establish contact. Mathers may have been worried but he was also a professional police officer and knew when something was going pear shaped big time.

"Pull back the emergency vehicles, tell Services to get those stairs out of the way and seal that runway. I want nothing landing there until I say so. Understood?"

His team nodded. "I'm off to the tower" he said, picking up his walkie talkie, "I'll be on channel 3. Tell me when that plane is clear."

He strode out of his office heading for the control tower hoping that his guess was wrong. It didn't take him long to reach his objective. The Senior Air Traffic Controller was there to greet him The man already had a sheen of perspiration on his forehead.

"Anything?" Mathers barked. Personally he didn't have a good relationship with the sweating man, but he knew he was good at his job, so he put up with his unpleasant personal problems.

"No. We can see the pilot in the cockpit. He doesn't appear to be moving. Radio contact is possible but is not taking place."

Mathers had taken up binoculars from someone's desk and was scanning the front of the plane.

"So it's working but no one is picking up? The sweating man nodded.

"Give me a headset and switch me on." Mathers ordered.

The order was obeyed immediately. Mathers attempt at communication was not so successful. He hesitated one more moment. Then pulling off the headset he thumbed the walkie talkie and told his deputy to pull the passenger list on flight 844. He turned to the air traffic controllers who had been continuing their work but keeping half an ear on his conversation with their boss.

"Ladies and Gentleman, I am calling a Code Red. Redirect as many inbound flights as possible, I want this Airport a no go area , now."

He strode from the room leaving a group of very worried people, who suddenly started chattering away to their inbound pilots. The residents around Heathrow were going to have an unexpectedly quiet afternoon.

Mathers' deputy met him before he got back to his office.

"Chief, I think we have a problem."

He handed Mathers the passenger list.

"Shit!" The expletive was the same one his deputy had used two minutes earlier.

The door to Mathers' office was open. One of his team was on the 'phone.

"Clear the decks people, I have declared a Code Red." Mathers announced.

The anxiety in the room went up a notch. The woman on the 'phone replaced the receiver and redialled. The 'phone at the other end rang only twice before it was answered. She handed the receiver to Mathers.

"Chief, It's Hereford." She said quietly.

HEADQUARTERS 22ND SPECIAL AIR SERVICE
HEREFORD
WEDNESDAY: DAY TWO: T + 2 HOURS 45 MINUTES

Colonel David Shaw had sent out orders as soon as the call had come through. His men, twelve of the best from the 22nd's Counter Espionage and Anti - Terrorist Unit, plus their Chief Negotiator would be ready to go in a little over 30 minutes. Now he had to report to the C.O. Normally Shaw would have complete control of this operation but given the passenger on board , the C.O. would want to be there. Shaw was happy enough with that. It meant he could concentrate on operational matters whilst the old man could keep everyone else out of his hair, especially the politicians. It was bad enough when these situations had a political dimension but, in Shaw's experience, when family were involved too then sense went out the window, and he couldn't do his job if he had the politician's on his back.. His report to the old man went smoothly enough and after being dismissed he hurried to collect his gear. He didn't want to keep the troops waiting.

In fact the old man was the last to report to the helipads. Two Augusta A109 helicopters were waiting. Two units were already loaded into the one chopper and had just been the given the all clear to take off. Shaw had the third unit on board with the team's negotiator and had kept the co-pilot's seat for the C. O. He appreciated the courtesy. As the second chopper lifted off Shaw sat back and looked at his men. Each one was highly trained and ready to do what ever was necessary to effect a successful conclusion to this mission. These men had trained for every permutation of plane hijacking situation you could imagine and the training guys at the Regiment had very fertile imaginations. He was confident and his men were too.

Down at Heathrow he knew his request for a full passenger list, photographs of the passenger in full face and profile, blood typing on the passenger and a surgeon on stand- by were being dealt with. Once he arrived they would set up their operational unit in a commandeered building, his men would take over the intelligence gathering and briefing but leave operational decisions to the man in charge down there, Mathers, until such time as he could demonstrate that with the resources available to him he was firmly of the belief that the situation would degenerate and that lives and especially the passenger's life was directly at risk.. At that point control would revert to the old man, but Shaw would be in charge. A press blackout was already in force and Mathers' people were starting the security checks on all the other passengers on the list.

The journey to London continued in relative quiet. All the men concentrating on what lay before them. The Team`s joker was in the first chopper and Shaw was certain that it was a little noisier there.

"Sir," a voice disturbed his train of thought, "Boeing have confirmed delivery of all plans and specs to site, Sir." Shaw nodded in acknowledgement. He and his team were familiar with the particular aircraft but it would be good to have the detailed drawings available so that they acquire decent intel on what was happening inside that plane. Aircraft Penetration was difficult enough, without the specification, it was like trying to unpick the worst knot in the world with thick rubber gloves on.

HEATHROW AIRPORT
TEMPORARY OPERATIONAL HEADQUARTERS
22ND SPECIAL AIR SERVICE
WEDNESDAY: DAY TWO: T + 5 HOURS

Mathers strode into the building where the 12 members of 22nd SAS were rechecking their equipment. Colonel David Shaw approached him with his hand outstretched and the two men shook hands. Introductions were unnecessary, the two men had worked together before. Mathers brought Shaw up to speed on developments whilst he had been en route, which were negligible. Shaw escorted Mathers into his temporary office and the two men made themselves comfortable either side of a desk.
"Why hasn't the aircraft been moved to a more manageable location?" Shaw asked.

"We still have no contact at all with the Jumbo. Absolutely, bloody, nothing."

Mathers was frustrated. He was getting flack from all directions. The Airlines were complaining about the closure of the Airport, there were passengers stranded all over the country who had been diverted but whose cars were still parked at Heathrow and the Airport itself was still full of passengers whose flights had been cancelled and who as yet had no where else to go. And that was without the hijacking. Plans of the Airport and the plane had been tacked to the walls of Shaw's office. His headquarters were marked in red as was the plane and the control tower. Shaw stood up and went to the location map.

" At this stage I intend to deploy my men here, here, here and here. " He pointed to four different spots. "We shall of course be waiting in the wings until you effect a change in command but we shall channel all new intel through your office."

Mathers nodded. The plan was not much different from what he would have done, standard operating procedures.

The tall police man took over, handing Shaw a manilla folder.

"Checks are still being carried out on all the other passengers. Nothing yet, but a lot are foreign nationals. Whilst most of the Embassies are assisting, a few," he raised his eyebrows, "are not. The normal troublemakers. As we get confirmation on each passenger, relatives are being informed, so expect the press to start nosing around any time now. The Home Secretary is already here and the PM is expected within 30 minutes."

Shaw nodded. "The C.O. is meeting with the Home Secretary now and I have arranged to brief the PM and his wife on their arrival. Are the Surgeon and the medical teams here?"

Now it was Mathers turn to nod his head, " we have blood on standby and in the folder you will find the photographs you asked for. Enough for one for each member of your team and spares."

"Good." Shaw stated. He walked to the door of the office and called to one of his men. A whispered conversation took place and the soldier went off with the folder.

"Now," Shaw said as he closed the door, "what the fuck are we going to do about this plane."

SILVER STAR HOTEL
HERMOSA BEACH, CALIFORNIA
WEDNESDAY: DAY TWO: T + 5 HOURS GMT

The phone rang. It was 11am and Matt Shepherd faced another day of paper work. The idea of opening a bar had appealed to him, but from day one it had been a bureaucratic nightmare. The new bar manager had taken over ordering so that was one chore he didn't have to do, but taxes were another matter all together and he had realised early on that notwithstanding all his specialist skills accountancy was not one of them.

He didn't have time to say his name before the familiar voice at the other end demanded to know where Margo was.

"And hello to you too. " Matt replied.

"Matt this is important, where is Margo?"

Shepherd sat up straight. He checked his watch and answered,

"About now she is just off the American coastline on a British Airways jumbo. Why?" Matt waited for an answer that he knew from Trout's enquiry he wasn't going to like.

"Damn, I was afraid of that. Approximately 4 hours ago a British Airways jumbo out of Birmingham, England was hijacked. The hijackers landed the plane at Heathrow and are sitting on the tarmac now. No demands have been made and so far as we know, no one has been hurt. Ten minutes ago a request for information on one Margo Vincent crossed my desk as part of the routine enquiries on the 64 American Nationals on the plane. The FBI passed it to me because of her 'unique` background. Is she alone?"

Matt had become alarmed immediately Trout had started talking. He knew Margo could take care of herself and that she had Benny Ray with her but hijacks were a recipe for disaster and he didn't want two of his team in the middle.

"Benny Ray is with her." He replied."Trout I want in on the ground on this one. Can you fix it?"

He had made the decision without thinking.

"Matt I don't think that's very sensible. I have Deke in Venezuela and I have already recalled him . You could get on a plane and be half way to London when the hijackers take off. They could be almost any where in the world by the time you land. You could be playing catch up endlessly and that's assuming we know where they are going. Stay put Matt and wait for when I do need you."

Matt knew Trout was right but was reluctant to accept it.

"What do we know?" He needed information now.

"Matt I only got Margo's name 10 minutes ago. I already have Deke moving, give me time. I'll make a few calls and get back to you."

"Make it quick Trout." Matt demanded.

"I will, Matt, I will."

The phone went dead. Matt put the receiver down slowly and then grabbed it up again and started punching numbers. There had to be something he could do.


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