"Exactly. Let's find out more about her and the 737 before we elect to land in Winnipeg. The last thing I want to do is end up in the middle of a crashed airplane media storm—or worse."
"We'll have a satellite window in ten or fifteen minutes," Rick said. "Radio communication in maybe another hour."
Donovan glanced at the display. Winnipeg was only an hour and a half away. He needed to work fast.
"One more thing," Michael said. "We know nothing about what happened back there. In fact, she could be the one who caused the Boeing to crash in the first place. I'm just saying, keep an eye on her."
"Got it." Donovan hurried to the back of the plane and found Dr. Samuels sitting cross-legged next to the woman, taking her pulse. Hot air was pouring from the Galileo's vents and warm towels were wrapped around her neck.
"Any improvement?" Donovan asked as he sat down at one of the science stations.
"Hard to say. Her pulse is a little stronger, but not by much. I'm not sure why she's unconscious, unless she was injured when she was thrown into the water or she's been drugged."
"Do we have Internet connectivity yet?" Donovan asked Dr. Yates who sat at the adjoining workstation.
"Not yet," Dr. Yates said, swiveling one of the larger monitors turned toward Donovan. "I thought you should see this. I went back and reviewed the telemetry we recorded of the Boeing. It's impossible to identify the object that was thrown from the emergency exit, but I do think it's a body. I also noticed this."
"What am I seeing?" Donovan said as he leaned closer to the monitor.
"It's only there for a moment, but as the camera follows the object, it briefly pans across the registration number of the Boeing. It looks like something has come loose or peeled back slightly. I'm thinking it looks like a decal, or adhesive of some sort, and just underneath there is something that looks to me like black paint."
"We don't know what it says, but we know what it is—the actual registration number." Donovan leaned back in the seat. "The Saudi identification is bogus. Someone has slapped it over the real registration."
"We're showing a green light for Internet connectivity," Dr. Samuels announced.
Donovan connected his phone to the computer terminal and began uploading the pictures he'd taken. He pulled down an e-mail screen and began to type. Once finished, he attached all of the images to his message and hit send. The second he confirmed it had gone out, he leaned back and hoped that, half a world away, Eco-Watch's new Director of Security would be looking at her e-mail.
Former FBI Special Agent Veronica Montero was not only a good friend, but she had been at one time one of the most complex, intelligent, and formidable opponents he'd ever come up against. Years earlier, while she was with the FBI, she'd put him in the crosshairs of an investigation, and even though he was innocent, it had threatened to destroy everything he had built over the last twenty-five years. Ultimately, they reached an uneasy peace and ended up bringing down a man who would have been one of the deadliest terrorists in history. Since then, she'd become close with not just Donovan, but with his wife, Lauren, and their daughter, Abigail. Over the last year, Montero had demonstrated her loyalty and her superb investigative skills, and as long as no one called her Veronica, she was happy. If anyone could get a jump on the identity of the unknown woman, and who owned the Boeing, it was Montero.
He thought of his wife, Lauren, and their six-year-old daughter, Abigail. With Donovan immersed in studying the massive solar flares, Lauren had taken Abigail to Innsbruck to visit their dear friend Kristof and his daughter, Marta.
Donovan missed his family but knew Abigail would have a wonderful time at the chalet. Rumor had it Kristof had brought in horses for her to ride, Abigail's current obsession. The other Eco-Watch jet, the 'Spirit of da Vinci', was in Savannah, Georgia, home to Gulfstream, for maintenance and upgrades. Until a few minutes ago, it had been a fairly quiet week at Eco- Watch.
"I just scanned several Internet news outlets," Dr. Yates said. "There's no mention of a missing airplane anywhere in the world."
"There will be shortly," Dr. Samuels said. "I see on the inflight display that we're headed to Winnipeg?"
"That's the closest major city with first-rate medical facilities," Donovan said, repeating Michael's reasoning.
"You know the Canadians will question us for hours, maybe days." Samuels pressed on his temples as if enduring a great pressure. "This solar event isn't going to wait for the slow wheels of bureaucracy to run its course. I'd like to be back up here tonight if at all possible."
"We will if we can," Donovan said. "I'm waiting on some information I just requested from Eco-Watch's Director of Security."
This excerpt ends on page 21 of the hardcover edition.