Chapter 23

5:00AM-6:00AM

My phone rang and I was put through to Mike Novick at the White House. I was still working on finding out where the missile was going to hit and he wanted an update.

"We've almost completed our second satellite pass over the current flight radius of the missile," I told him.

"And, no sight of it yet," he said.

"No, not so far," I said.

"What do you think our realistic chances are of being able to locate the missile with subsequent passes?" Mike asked.

"I don't think they're very good," I admitted. "This missile's an S class. It uses elements of stealth technology. It was designed to evade detection."

"I'm aware of that but it would still have a heat sensor," Mike said.

"Yes, but the lower the missile flies to the ground the harder it is to pick up," I told him.

"How much longer until you complete the second satellite pass?" he asked.

"Less than twenty minutes," I said.

"Get back to me as soon as you have the results," he said.

"Alright," I said, before hanging up. I waited for the reports wishing it could get done faster. I called Mike back as soon as I got them.

"Mike, it's Audrey Raines."

"Yes, Audrey, what have you got?" he asked.

"Well, the second satellite pass is complete. We were unable to detect the missile with thermal imaging. There's just too much radial heat from ground sources."

"Ms. Raines," said a familiar voice. "This is President Palmer. Is there a chance that another satellite pass will find this missile?"

"Well, the more data we have Mr. President the better," I said. "But a more intensive pass will take two to three hours."

"And, we expect the missile to find its target before then," Palmer said.

"Yes sir we do," I said.

"Alright," Palmer said, obviously disappointed. "Make sure FBI's on a real time link with all local emergency channels."

"Alright, I'll get that done right now," I said, leaning over the computer.

"I also want you to compile disaster scenarios for the urban centers within range of the missile," Palmer said. I looked up at the map on the television screen, which showed potential target of the missile.

"Sir, that's twenty of the largest cities in this country," I told him.

"I'm aware of that," he said. "I want death rates, fallout patterns, emergency response predictions laid out for all of them."

"Yes sir. I'll take care of that right now," I said. He thanked me before hanging up. I got working right away. I started with the largest cities in population. Even if the missile hit the smallest of all these cities, the number of casualties was too much to even imagine. I sent the numbers to the White House and went back to trying to find the path of the missile.

There was no use. Even if we could find out where it was going to strike, there was no way to evacuate everyone in time.

A few minutes later, I heard that there was still hope. Jack had found Tony and his captor. Meaning we had one last shot of finding out where the missile was going and possibly stopping it.

Jack was good at this job. There was no denying it. He belonged here, not behind a desk doing paperwork and sitting through long tedious meetings. There was no doubt in my mind that Jack would be offered his job back after everything he had done for them. I wondered if he would take it. And that's when I realized he would have to. Without him working here, people would die. Lots of people. But, I had no place here. And as much as it killed me, it wasn't possible for us to work things out.