On their way home after providing security at a major international conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka Sandbagger #1 Willie Caine and CIA agent Karen Milner find themselves on an airliner hijacked by Middle East terrorists. At home Burnside wants to pull out all the stops and send in an SAS team to free the hostages but runs into unexpected obstacles. For him, the decision is simple - Caine puts his life on the line regularly and now it's necessary for the Service to do the same for him. The government however does not want to be seen as negotiating with terrorists nor do they want to face the prospects of a major operation going bad. Burnside, who has already been warned that his tendency to act without consultation will affect his prospects for promotion, none the less tries desperately to mount an operation on his own.