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"A human specific bioweapon can kill most of the population of a city before it even knows it's under attack, leaving the physical infrastructure virtually intact. In rural areas it can destroy human life while leaving crops and livestock untouched, uninfectious. Thrown into chaos, the remaining population can easily be overtaken by a small, lightly equipped military force. Relatively unskilled labour will take an additional few weeks to decontaminate an infected area of human casualties, leaving it ready for immediate habitation by an enemy's population," explained USAMRIID's Colonel Susan Broadwater in an emergency briefing to government agents in Quantico, 1995.

So begins an investigation into a credible threat; that a bioweapon was about to be tested on an unsuspecting human population. This aim of this attack was not to kill large numbers of people, nor was it an act of terrorism or warfare. It was an outdoor experiment, a demonstration designed to alert government authorities that their extraordinary apathy towards bioweapons had made the West highly vulnerable. It was meant as a warning.

Special Agent Joshua McCabe had avoided the family business all of his life. His parents, and now his brother, chased epidemics around the world like hurricane watchers or big game fishermen eagerly pursuing the illusive Big One. But there was no escaping it when his old boss, the head of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, killed himself in order to protect the conspiracy.

As an ex-BSU profiler, McCabe knew that his personal demons made him as much of a burden as an asset to the investigation. They could ill-afford to bring on board a civilian with even more emotional baggage. But Jordan Spinner, an Australian scientist working on contract to the FBI as a teaching pathologist, was a vital member of the team-not just because of her background in virology, but because she most definitely was not part of the conspiracy. McCabe would need that, for in this investigation your best friend could betray you and your enemy was a microbe less than five microns in diameter.

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