WORLDWIDE FOODS LTD
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.
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
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,
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
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
"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.
"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.
"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
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
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
"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
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
"Looks as if you finally learned when to keep your mouth
shut runt. " The man snarled. "On your feet Riddle."
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
"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
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
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
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.
OFFICE OF METROPOLITAN POLICE AIRPORT DIVISION CHIEF OFFICER
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
"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
"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
"No. We can see the pilot in the cockpit. He doesn't
appear to be moving. Radio contact is possible but is not taking
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
"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
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."
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
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
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
"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
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,
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
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.