Michael's unmitigated gall was truly astounding. Not thirty seconds ago he as much as admitted that he would have let her die along with the president, the passengers, and all hopes of getting the rest of their people getting out of that prison. All for what? His two hybrid daughters. The daughters he was never supposed to have, living breathing evidence of his disloyalty to their mission, and to her. And now this ultimatum, these terms. What was happening here? Insurrection was everywhere she turned: William, Isabel, Thomas and who knew how many others. Even Simon had disobeyed her, the day of her release, when he'd doubled back to save the federal agents from the collapsing building. Maybe it was this planet, something in the air supply.

Sophia considered Michael's face. In some respects it was as she remembered it, handsome and strong, but she knew without question he had never looked at her before the way he looked at her now. He looked grim and unmovable. Gone was the shamed man who couldn't meet her eyes. This Michael would not be intimidated or cajoled. This strength she had never before seen in him, this was what becoming a father had done to him. She'd never get the truth out of him, not in time, unless she gave into his demands.

"Simon, would you please get on the phone and contact this Agent Collier. Ask her to set up a meeting between Michael and this Mr. Walker. If nothing else it might ensure that no more planes come hurling at me from the sky." Michael at least had the grace to look away.

"Right away," Simon stood, anxious to leave the room and make the call. Michael gestured at him to stop.

"Wait. Sean's not stupid. He'll assume any message supposedly coming from me is a trap. You'll need to know something only I would know." Michael was quiet a moment and rubbed his eyes wearily. "Tell her that Sean was going to propose on that cruise ship."

"And how would you know that?" Sophia's tone was sharp, but at this point she'd exhausted any pretense of patience.

"The day they left Sean asked for my blessing." Michael's eyes were aimed in Sophia's direction, but they were unfocused, as if what they saw was something far away, impossible to clearly perceive.

"And you gave it to him?" The whole concept was ludicrous. We were going home, Michael had known that, had worked with Simon toward that goal for decades.

"Yes." Michael shook himself slightly, clearing the vision of his would-be son-in-law from his mind. About time he woke up to reality.

"You know this whole exercise could lead nowhere. Even if Walker does contact, you there's no guarantee he'll have either of the girls or even have any idea where they are." They did not have the time or resources to waste on this. Thomas had to be stopped now, or billions would die.

"Sophia's right. There is a whole team of trained investigators working around the clock on tracking down all leads into the assassination attempt and they've turned up nothing. The people who are behind this are professionals." How could one man, comparatively a child, possibly triumph over a powerful and deadly conspiracy? One that she was beginning to suspect had ties back to her own cunning and ruthless offspring.

"You don't know Sean. If my daughters are alive, he will hunt for them until his very last breath."

Sophia searched Michael's face for signs of uncertainty and found none. Sean Walker must be quite something to have earned Michael's faith so profoundly. If the weight of the world wasn't solely on her shoulders, she might almost look forward to meeting him.