Germs of War
Germs of War
Germs of War is a fictional account of a biological weapons development program undertaken covertly in the US by foreign terrorist groups, its deployment, and attempts to find it before untold damage is done. A brief summary of the plot is outlined below.
The “Professor Moriarty” of the book is a shadowy figure in Afghanistan with dreams of global religious domination. Unable to obtain nuclear weapons, he devises a scheme to use biological weapons to achieve his goal. He plants his Pakistani protégé in the Mayo Clinic to undertake research with an American scientist. Once the weapon is made, the protégé decides to test a small portion of it within the confines of the medical intensive care unit with deadly consequences. Attempts are made to control the news of the disaster by a corrupt US Senator from Minnesota who is beholden to the Afghan mastermind, thanks to campaign contributions.
The protégé plans to return to Pakistan with the remaining superbug, only to find that it is missing. He suspects that a graduate student in the laboratory has taken it. The student indeed had taken the remaining superbug, but under duress from the Mayo Clinic scientist who now is afraid of what the protégé is really up to. The scientist’s fears stem from discussions between him and the protégé that detail how biological weapons can be made. The scientist and captive graduate student fly off to Washington DC with what the scientist thinks is the superbug to meet CIA representatives. The scientist is wrong on two counts. Firstly, the student switches vials so that the real vial with the superbug reaches her fiancée in Wyoming. Secondly, he is greeted not by the CIA but by another rival Afghan outfit that kills him. While attempting to flee the rival outfit, the student is kidnapped renegade CIA operatives. The student realizes that the CIA renegades know a lot about her father, who lives in Utah, and who used to be in naval intelligence. The conversation between them dissects the motives and actions of terrorist groups and why biological weapons are preferred tools.
The protégé and his henchmen attack the father in Utah. They suspect that the student has escaped there after stealing the superbug. There they learn about the fiancée and head off to Wyoming. The student and the CIA operative, now cooperating with each other, also head off to Wyoming. In the meanwhile, the student’s brother, a computer expert, hacks into the financial accounts of Mayo Clinic and manages to unearth a trail of money from Pakistan’s intelligence service, ISI, to the Mayo Clinic scientist. The father figures the nexus between the Afghan, Pakistan’s ISI, the scientist, and the Senator, who is still trying to thwart any investigation of the deaths in the intensive care unit.
The protégé and his thugs run into the CIA operatives en route Jackson, Wyoming. A shootout follows, and the CIA operatives car is hit. Assuming their deaths, the protégé heads off to find the fiancée. They find him white water rafting in the Snake River in Grand Tetons, Wyoming. While attempting to catch him, they are surprised by a surviving CIA operative and the student. The student escapes in the raft with her fiancée while being chased by the terrorists. The sole surviving CIA operative gives chase in a car on a road that overlooks the Snake River canyon. After many adventures, both the rafts sink in the river. The student, her fiancée, and the protégé are the sole survivors. The former two try to get out of the canyon by climbing the walls but soon find themselves out of their depths. A helicopter that has been summoned by the CIA operative rescues them.
The father and the CIA try to find out from the fiancée what he did with the vial of the superbug. After hesitating, the fiancée reveals what he did with it. The father then exposes the nexus between the Senator and the terrorists.
The Congressional Oversight Committee quizzes the CIA renegades. The discussion that follows reveals the motivation of the CIA men and the evolving geo-political equations.
The last scene of the book is in a dungeon in Afghanistan. His former mentor holds the protégé captive after the latter managed to escape from the Snake River. After surviving torture, the protégé is offered a chance to redeem himself. The only way he can do that is to remake the biological weapon. He readily agrees. The mentor then frees the protégé, telling him to hurry up and make the germs of war.
The book is a fast paced work of fiction that lends itself well to a movie. Its quickly evolving frames fit well with timelines and the rapid change of sets with a revolving but steady cast of characters would be ideal for an action film with depth. The book also has plenty of action in the form of car chases, white water rafting, helicopter rescues, and shoot-outs in deserted derelict parts of DC. The characters are easily portrayed, and the audience will be able to identify with the “heroes”.