The British Embassy in Washington is besieged by British nationals seeking sanctuary from the Governor of Virginia's draconian policy to round up all British Muslims in the state.
Ambassador Mark Brydon is happy to offer it. But as his level-headed deputy Phil Lonsdale reminds him, there's a bigger picture. Priority must be to get the policy reversed. Mark thinks it through – it's a high risk strategy but Chair of the Security Committee Madeleine Cohen might be open to persuasion. His meeting with her is tough to read – has he helped British citizens or made things worse?
Counsellor for External Affairs Nicholas Brocklehurst is pursuing separate business. There's evidence to suggest that the unidentifiable body washed up in a creek in Virginia might have been a British soldier. But who would have gone to the trouble of shooting his face off? Nicholas agrees to help FBI agent George Blake to investigate the case.
While visiting Caroline Hanley's house for a dinner party, Mark's ambushed by Caroline, Gordon Adair (CEO of Armitage Corp, a major investor in Tyrgyztan) and James Sinclair (former ambassador to Tyrgyztan and the diplomatic untouchable Mark is forbidden contact with). The regime in Tyrgyztan is corrupt. They are pushing for change and want Mark on board. He dismisses the offer. ‘I am a servant of the British Government – we support the existing regime’, but later he remembers his own time in Tyrgyztan and his certainties begin to waver.
With fresh information about Private Military Contractors in his hand, Nicholas leaves Washington for London. There, he expertly breaks into Anthony Hanley's flat and begins searching it. But is he on Hanley's side or against him?
In Florida, prisoner Luke's appeal is denied and his death warrant signed. Human rights lawyer Jane Lavery sees one last chance. She can plead his case at the Pardons Board. When the shaky evidence that convicted him is exposed they must surely admit clemency?
Meanwhile Gary Pritchard is in business again. With his crew of mercenaries he's launching an operation that involves 10 canisters of poison gas and a Boeing 737. The operation fails when the airfield is raided by the FBI and all are taken into custody.
In the middle of the night, Mark's roused by a phone call. It's good news in one way – a coup has been foiled. Bad news for the Embassy though when it emerges that the mercenaries were British.