Lady Gayle going down.
“But he wasn't playing with all the facts when he made that decision,” Bancroft said. “You don't want someone like Michelet angry with you. He has a lot of power. The President is not going to be pleased.”
Foreman cared as much about Paul Michelet as Bancroft did about the Cambodian villagers near the Angkor Gate.
“Using Bright Eye might allow us to help Michelet,” Foreman said. “If we can pinpoint his plane, we can forward that information to him.”
Bancroft snorted. “And? What's he going to do? Go in there and get them out? From what you tell me, no one can do that.”
“Michelet has someone coming to him who might be able to do it,” Foreman said. “Also, with the shifting in phase, they might be able to get in and out when the plane is uncovered.” If it ever was uncovered now, Foreman thought but didn't add. “First, though, we have to get its exact location.”
“Come on, Foreman, is it that important?”
Foreman bit back the first reply that came to his lips. “Sir, I believe it is of utmost importance.”
“I don't see it,” Bancroft said. “All these years and you've yet to give us anything solid. You know the story of the boy who cried wolf, don't you?”
Foreman stared at the fuzzy, triangular image. “I know the story, sir, and it would do us well to remember that in the end, the boy was right. There were wolves.”
“Wolves in Cambodia?” Bancroft said. “Who gives a rat's ass?”
“I think it's much bigger than Cambodia,” Foreman kept his voice under tight control.
“You think, you think,” Bancroft said. “You sound like those damn UFO people in Area 51 I've got to listen to all the time, worried about little gray men showing up and blowing Earth away. You know how much we spend on those people? And you know how many little gray men they’ve found? There are real problems that are here and now that I and the President have to worry about.”
Foreman remained silent.
“Go ahead, use Bright Eye,” Bancroft finally said. “But it's your responsibility.”
The satellite phone went dead. It was always his responsibility, Foreman thought as he put the phone back in its holder.
Ariana Michelet had never been so aware of the simple act of breathing. It was the first thing she felt: air sliding in her throat, expanding her lungs. The texture of the air was strange, almost oily, and thick, although how she could describe air as thick she didn't know but that's what it felt like. She could still taste the acidic trace of vomit in her mouth and along the back of her throat.
With the awareness of breathing, she suddenly remembered. Going down, crashing. She opened her eyes and saw nothing. Complete darkness. Was she blind? Was she dead? That unnerving second question trampled over the first one.
Ariana closed her eyes and brought her breathing under control as she'd been taught by her personal trainer. She felt something diagonally across her chest, holding her. She realized it was the shoulder harness for her seat and that feeling brought immediate comfort as she knew she was still sitting in her seat. She was alive and inside the plane. There was no sound of engines, no throb of power coming up from the seat, so she knew they were down.
She opened her eyes again and this time caught the faintest of glows, from a small battery powered emergency light. She blinked, her eyes slowly adjusting to the dimness.
Ariana reached forward, her hands touching the keyboard. She could work that in the dark but she paused as nothing happened. She remembered ordering Carpenter to shut Argus down. Ariana pressed a button on the side of her console and accessed the back-up emergency computer. She hit one of the keys and was rewarded by the glow of her screen. It worked and that meant there was juice coming from the banks of batteries in the cargo hold.
She quickly accessed the emergency program. The computer worked,