The story so far:
Two hours later Kate was pacing the aisle of the plane, waiting for Max, Jack and Kelly to board. Her body was begging her for a cigarette but she knew she wouldn’t be able to have one until they landed at Heathrow. It was 11:00 pm, Eastern Time. The Prime Minister’s daughter was probably taken around noon, London time, which meant that the abductors had had her for sixteen hours already. Kate’s mind went to a deep dark hole; she knew what sixteen hours in captivity felt like. No ten year old should.
The plane’s main door opened long enough for Kelly, Jack and Max to embark. The flight attendant quickly shut the door and began making preparations for take off. Kate turned from her pacing and stared down Kelly. She looked like hell. Kate was in a funk because she knew what it was to be kidnapped. Kelly was because she knew what it was to have a daughter.
“Have we heard anything?” Kate asked.
“They received a ransom demand an hour ago while you were in the air,” Kelly said, sitting in one of the emergency row seats. Kate moved forward to sit across from her. “They want ten million pounds and the release of five prisoners with IRA ties.”
“Is the IRA taking credit?”
“No,” Jack answered, sitting next to Kelly. “The exact opposite; they have sworn to assist the Prime Minister in any way they can to bring his daughter home.”
“They said that to the press?” Kate asked.
“No, back channels, I called Em after I got off the phone with you to get more information. As far as the press is concerned the Prime Minister is light a few jewels still.”
“They need to go public, the press could actually help find the kid,” Kate said.
“Condition of the ransom, no press,” Max said, settling next to Kate. He opened his laptop and began booting up.
“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to turn off all electronics until we reach cruising altitude,” the flight attendant asked in a clipped tone.
“I’m sorry, what’s your name?” Max asked, not looking up from his laptop.
“Diane,” she replied. Max looked up and smiled.
“Diane, did you have to sign a piece of paper when you boarded this plane, promising never to mention this flight or the people on it?” Max asked.
“Yes,” she replied, wary.
“Right well, I can’t tell you who I am but I can tell you that as a member of the United States Air Force I have a cursory knowledge of airplanes and me having my laptop on will not affect the flight instruments of this plane, a Boeing 747 by the way, at all. I also know that your boss’ name is Aimee and that if I shoot her an e-mail saying that you attempted to hinder a matter involving national security that you’ll be lucky to get a job flying for Cabo Air,” Max said. The other three stared at him, impressed, as Diane backed down.
“We’ll be taking off shortly; may I get you four anything to drink?” Diane asked, her voice back to its original chipperness.
“I’ll take a whiskey on the rocks,” Jack said.
“Rum and coke please, Diane,” Kate smiled.
“Scotch, Chival Regal if you have it,” Max said, already studying his screen again.
“Yes sir,” Diane said, rolling her eyes. She looked over at Kelly.
“Vodka martini please,” Kelly said. Kate glanced up at Kelly. “It’s been a long day, Katie.”
“Understood. And don’t call me Katie,” Kate said, managing a smile.
Twelve hours later the plane landed at Heathrow and the four were quickly escorted to a government car which raced to MI5 headquarters, or Thames House, as it was commonly known. The driver took them to an underground tunnel that led to a bunker beneath the city. Iris and Emily stood at either side of a solid steel door, arms crossed.
“What’s up?” Kate said, lighting her first cigarette in sixteen hours. Her knees nearly buckled from the sensation.
“Oh not much,” Iris scoffed, lighting her own cigarette and then holding her lighter out to Emily. “Just sitting around watching the heads of state bicker about whose jurisdiction a kidnapped ten year old is. Scotland Yard, MI5, MI6, you name it, they want a piece of the action.”
“****, if it were my agency I wouldn’t want any part of it,” Emily sighed. The others turned to glare at her. “What? Would you want to handle the blowback if this operation fails?”
“This isn’t an operation, it’s a ten year old kid, Emily,” Kate said. Emily took another drag and studied Kate.
“Understood, Team Leader,” Emily said, ashing her cigarette. Kate looked over at Iris.
“Speaking of which,” Kate started.
“I don’t give a **** what my grandfather says, Kate, you’re team leader,” Iris said.
“Thanks,” Kate nodded. “About your grandfather…”
“I’ll take care of it,” Iris smiled. “The old man is putty in my hands.”
Kate laughed while tossing down her cigarette and stepping on it. She looked over at Kelly, who was standing apart from the smokers.
“What’s the plan, senior agent Nixon?”
“We’ve been summoned by Simeon and the deputy director of MI5, Barbara Kingsley. You four, five, sorry Max, will keep your mouths shut until I tell you to speak. You will not, under any circumstances, reveal who you are or what government you work for, understood?”
“Understood. We’ll just wait out here,” Kate said, pulling out another cigarette. Kelly gave her a withering glare. “I’m a smoker, Kelly, deal with it.”
“Smoking is bad for you, Kate,” Kelly said.
“So is being a spy,” Kate laughed. Kelly entered the bunker. “Do we have any leads?”
“As a whole? No,” Iris started. “For all we know Pierce has nothing to do with the kidnapping and MI5 is not keen to pull in a knight’s son unless we are very sure of his involvement.”
“What is it with you people and you’re **** knights?” Kate sighed.
“What is it with you yanks and baseball? Don’t you know it’s just a bastardized version of cricket?” Iris said.
“Hey, don’t hate on baseball; cricket is boring as hell,” Kate said.
Kelly entered the bunker and found herself surrounded by men and women rushing around, answering phones and attempting not to look frantic. The cement walls were covered in pictures of a young dark headed girl with a gap-toothed smile. Kelly looked away.
Fran stood against the back wall, next to another steel door. She caught Kelly’s eye and motioned for her to follow. Kelly did so, intensely aware that half of the room’s gaze was on her as she entered the situation room. Inside, she found three people that she had never met but had seen countless times. On the right was Barbara Kingsley, a lithe older woman with hair the color of steel and eyes like a hawk. To the left was Simeon Quinn and in the middle of the room stood Britain’s Prime Minister, Andrew Rogers. Usually, Rogers was pristine in his appearance; now, he looked like a man who was rapidly losing his mind. His dark brown hair was disheveled, his tie long gone and top two buttons of his shirt were undone. The most telling aspect was his eyes; while they were usually warm or intense now they stared off into the distance as if searching for his daughter in the steel foundations of the building.
“Sir, this is Senior Agent Kelly Nixon of the CIA,” Fran introduced. Kelly quickly shook hands with the three.
“Simeon tells me that your team gathered the intelligence that possibly saved my life yesterday,” Andrew said in a hollow voice.
“Yes sir,” Kelly said.
“Nice work,” the Prime Minister said, nodding.
“It was our pleasure, Sir.”
“Where did you acquire this intelligence,” Barbara asked. Kelly turned to meet her eye but glanced away quickly.
“MI6 was given intelligence by one Daniel O’Brien that Heathrow was being monitored. After O’Brien’s body was discovered my team was sent in to gather more information. We acquired the intelligence at a gala at Sir Seamus Connolly’s home ten days ago,” Kelly said.
“From whom?” Barbara asked.
“From Pierce Connolly,” Kelly said. The Prime Minister sank into a chair at the head of a large conference table. “The intelligence had extensive details about the Prime Minister’s travel itinerary at Heathrow but it had no mention of the Prime Minister’s daughter.”
“Sarah,” Andrew said, holding his head in his hands. “Her name is Sarah.”
“Yes sir,” Kelly said, clearing her throat. Andrew looked up at Kelly, his eyes finally focusing on her.
“Tell me something, Senior Agent Nixon, do you have children?”
“Yes sir, an infant son and a three year old daughter,” Kelly said. Andrew nodded.
“What is your suggestion on how to proceed?” Andrew asked. Kelly swallowed a wave of panic and squared her shoulders.
“Prepare to pay the ransom as ordered. Have MI5 and MI6 do exactly what they have already been ordered to do,” Kelly said.
“And your team?” Barbara asked. Kelly looked back at the older woman.
“You don’t need to know what my team does, Madam Director, just that we’ll be doing it.”
“Unlike you Americans we do not sanction torture in Great Britain,” Barbara said. Kelly slid her gaze back to Andrew, studying his reaction. He didn’t seem particularly concerned about the possible torture of his daughter’s abductors.
“Understood,” Kelly said.
“Very well, Mrs. Nixon, the ransom is due tomorrow at 2:00 pm, that gives you twenty-six hours to figure out who is behind this and who has my daughter before we go to the press,” Andrew said, standing. “Good luck.”
“Yes sir,” Kelly said, leaving the room. She quickly walked through the bunker, again ignoring the stares, and exited to the tunnel where the five team members stood, waiting. “We’ve got twenty-six hours before the ransom is due, let’s go.”