Concussed, Harrington finds himself hanging upside down over a cliff in darkness. Slowly he recalls parachuting with a team of soldiers behind enemy lines in war-torn Angola.
A failure at university, he had been arrested for car theft and sent to prison. Assigned duties as a prison hospital orderly, he had befriended the doctor in charge. Upon release he impersonated a doctor in a small town. Found out, he fled to find work as a traveling drug company representative.
Meeting another salesman, they quickly became friends. Unbeknownst to Harrington, the salesman is a Combined Military Intelligence (CMI) agent, Colonel Verster, sent to recruit him.
To assist in recruiting him, Verster sets him up with a female operative, Sandra Johns. Faced with threats based on his past, Harrington asks why a trained medico was not recruited: Verster explains: "Doctors are good at saving lives. They are hopeless at …...”
Harrington’s resolve is tested during a team action behind enemy lines in Angola. His brief: treat and extract a severely wounded black CIA operative (Joe Cadima); in no circumstances allow him to fall into enemy hands.
Living off the land, their only escape route takes them deeper into enemy territory towards the international waters of the Congo River. 'Military misadventures' lead to Lieutenant Harrington's becoming the team leader.
It is then that Cadima opens up and relates his life story, his politics and and his flight from Angola as a boy, losing contact with his family.
The diminished team stumbles upon a Cuban army camp on the Congo River and escape to sea on the Camp Commander's yacht.
The commander of a patrolling submarine surfaces to investigate. Unsure of the submarine's intention, Harrington decides: 'We've come this far - I'm damned if we're going to give in now.'