Cairns and Irina are forced to go on the run after he rescues her from being arrested by the FSB (successors to the KGB). They are pursued by the FSB through the Central Asian Republics; their aim is to cross into Afghanistan where they will finally be out of reach of the FSB (which still forms the security service in the Republics). The chase is led by Colonel Krasnin, a senior officer in the FSB, who appears to be obsessed with catching Irina and Verenyev, a Chief Investigator in the Moscow police who is seconded against his will to assist Krasnin in the hunt - basically, Krasnin needs his considerable skills. As the chase unfolds, Verenyev becomes increasingly suspicious of Krasnin’s motives and actions, until he uncovers Krasnin’s true reasons for pursuing the fugitives. At that point, he has to make a decision that could cost him not just his career, but his life… and all the while, the pursuit is closing in on Cairns and Irina.