A fiery explosion in the dark of night shatters one of the laboratory buildings in Paris's esteemed Pasteur Institute. Among the dead is Emile Chambord, one of the leaders in the global race to create a molecular - or DNA - computer. Unfortunately, Professor Chambord kept the details of his work secret, and his notes were apparently destroyed in either the bomb blast or the raging fire that followed.
The scientific community does not expect a workable DNA computer to be developed for years. But suddenly U.S. fighter jets disappear from radar screens for a full five minutes, and there's no explanation. Utilities across the Western states cease functioning, and all telecommunications abruptly stop, with devastating consequences. This is not the work of a clever hacker, although Washington, worried about a panic, assures the public it is. Only the enormous power and speed of a DNA computer could have caused such havoc.
Under the cover of visiting his friend Marty Zellerbach, who was severely injured when the Pasteur lab was destroyed, Covert-One agent Jon Smith flies to Paris to search for the connection between the Pasteur explosion and the forces now wielding the computer. Following a trail that leads him across two continents, Smith uncovers a web of deception that threatens to wreck havoc and forever reshape the world.
A homeless man in Boston, an Army Major in California, and a teenage girl in Atlanta all die suddenly and painfully--each a victim of an unknown doomsday virus. For three days, a team of scientists is a U.S. government laboratory has been frantically trying to unlock the virus's secrets. When the leading researcher from that lab, Lt. Col. Jonathan Smith, returns from overseas, he barely survives a series of well-orchestrated attempts made on his life. By the time Smith eludes his pursuers and makes it home, he discovers that the virus has claimed its fourth victim, Dr. Sophia Russell--Smith's fiancee. Devastated and enraged, Smith quickly uncovers evidence that his lover's death was no accident--that someone out there has the virus, and the pandemic that threatens hundreds of millions of lives is no accident. But wherever he turns, Smith finds that some unseen force has blocked his quest for information.
Not knowing whom to trust, Smith assembles a private team to search for the truth behind the deadly virus. While the death toll mounts, their quest leads to the highest levels of power and the darkest corners of the earth, as they match wits with a determined genius--and as the fate of the world lies in the balance.
Nobel laureate, international financier, and philanthropist Peter Novak - a billionaire who has committed his life and fortune to fostering democracy around the world through his Liberty Foundation - has been captured by the forces led by the near-mythical terrorist known as The Caliph. Holding Novak in a near impenetrable fortress, The Caliph has refused to negotiate for his release, planning instead to brutally execute Novak in a matter of days.
Running out of time and hope, Novak's people turn to a man with a long history of defeating impossible odds: Paul Janson. For decades, Janson was an operative and assassin whose skills and exploits made him a legend in the notorious U.S. covert agency Consular Operatations. No longer able to live with the brutality, bloodshed, and personal loss that marked his career, Janson has retired from the field and nothing could lure him back. Nothing except Peter Novak, a man who once saved Janson's life when everyone else was powerless to help.
With the considerable resources of The Liberty Foundation at his disposal, Janson hastily assembles a crack extraction team, setting in motion an ingenious rescue operation. But the operation goes horribly wrong and Janson is marked for death, the target of a "beyond salvage" order issued from the highest level of the government.
Now he is running for his life, pursued by Jessica Kincaid, a young agent of astonishing ability who - as a student of Janson's own lethal arsenal of tactics and techniques - can anticipate and counter his every move. To survive, Janson must outrace a conspiracy that has gone beyond the control of its originators. To win, he must counter it with a conspiracy of his own.
With mere days, perhaps only hours, remaining, and shadowed by a secret that links Janson's violent life with that of the visionary peacemaker Peter Novak, Janson's only hope is to uncover the nearly unimaginable truth behind these events - a truth that has the power to foment wars, topple governments, and change the very course of history.