By early May, Chinese diplomat Chen Ming--known to his associates as Dragon—-had been in Salt Lake City for a full week. His only hint of trouble during his long drive from Florida was being pulled over by a highway patrolman late one night on Interstate 20 near Dallas, Texas.
When he saw the patrol car’s lights flashing behind him, he glanced down and saw he was going 82 miles an hour. He cursed at himself for such a foolish mistake, but put on a pleasant smile as the officer approached his car.
“Hello, officer,” Dragon said. “I just realized how fast I was going. Sorry about that.”
The officer’s stern look softened a little. “Let’s take a look at your license and registration.”
Dragon sat nervously as he waited for the officer to return, but he knew his colleagues in the Chinese Embassy had triple-checked everything related to his driver’s license and the car. His record should now be spotless, despite three fender benders and a speeding ticket during his years working in Washington, D.C.
“You’re good to go,” the patrolman had told him when he brought the license back. “Just slow down a little, all right?”
“I will. Thank you, sir.”
The officer then pointed to the Big Gulp cup resting in its dashboard holder. “That’s just soda in there, right?”
“Of course, sir. No drinking and driving for me!”
As Dragon spent each night in his Salt Lake hotel room, he often reflected on his role in the upcoming overthrow of the United States. He knew his work at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. had been just a small piece in a large puzzle, but this bioterror mission was the first of many dominos that would help the Coalition nations eliminate America and Israel.
The Russians had been in favor of surprising the Americans with a full-scale military attack, but the Chinese leaders finally convinced their Coalition allies that a low-key and essentially invisible first attack would have a greater effect. Such an attack would greatly weaken America’s resolve before the Coalition eventually followed through with Russia’s wishes for a military invasion.
The Chinese took history as their guide. Attacks on America such as Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and Osama bin Laden’s toppling of the Twin Towers in 2001 had temporarily hurt the United States, but those events had also unified the Americans and in the end lifted their patriotism to greater heights.
Therefore, the Chinese plan would strike at the heart of America by causing disorder rather than unity. If everything went as expected, the U.S. economy would quickly unravel and never recover.
This first phase of the plan had been greatly aided in 2011 when Dutch scientists created a highly-contagious and deadly airborne mutation of the H5N1 flu virus. The scientists spent 2012 loudly proclaiming that their version of the virus wasn’t as deadly as previously reported, but that didn’t matter, because by then Chinese agents had already snuck into their laboratory and stolen a sample.
Over the next several months, a team of Coalition scientists was able to mutate the Dutch strain a step further, making it even more transferable and lethal. Then Chinese agents were able to obtain vials of the 1918 flu virus, which was added to the mix, along with a few other deadly illnesses. The final potion was the most potent human-killer the world had ever seen.
The toxin had been tested on humans under controlled circumstances, and the mortality rate had been stunningly high. Dragon had seen time-lapse videos of prison inmates who had simply touched a sink where the mixture had been applied, and the effects on the human body were startling.
The Chinese scientists had nicknamed the resulting illness the “Black Flu” because it turned people’s skin dark and caused intense flu-like symptoms. Victims often literally drowned from fluid in their lungs within hours, because the virus acted too quickly for the immune system to mount an effective defense. The only way America could avoid having the illness wipe out millions of their citizens was through a complete quarantine.
“That’s just not going to happen,” Dragon thought.
Dragon’s father had been one of the original Chinese representatives as the Coalition was formed. By the 1990s when Dragon became a full-fledged member of the group, the plan was fully underway. Very few American leaders questioned China and Russia’s rapid military growth during the early 21st century, and the plan proceeded smoothly and with great secrecy.
However, the Coalition leaders held their breaths in 2005 when a speech by Chi Haotian,--the Vice-Chairman of China’s Military Commission, was leaked onto the internet. Among other things, he revealed that China would “clean up” America through bioterrorism. He was quoted as saying, “It is indeed brutal to kill one or two hundred million Americans. But that is the only path that will secure a Chinese century, a century in which the CCP leads the world.”
He added that the remaining Americans would serve as slaves while the Chinese kept the basic U.S. infrastructure intact. The Chinese braced for a public outcry, but his comments were basically ignored by America’s media.
Actually, the Chinese hadn’t expected to implement this part of the plan for several more years, but the Americans themselves had sped up the process through their own foolishness. Their national debt problem had suddenly exploded, and now China was suddenly worried the United States wouldn’t be able to pay back what they had borrowed.
In some ways, the Chinese felt like the U.S. government was actually working in their best interest. The Chinese were astonished as America’s leaders stifled capitalism at seemingly every turn. Meanwhile, a growing number of Americans seemed content to live “on the dole” so to speak, but the Chinese knew it wouldn’t take much to tip this welfare state upside down.
Dragon smiled, knowing the tipping point would be triggered by the mixture in the Big Gulp cup sitting on his hotel table.
During his first day in Salt Lake, Dragon had scouted out several great locations to unleash his toxin. A key reason Salt Lake City was chosen was because Interstate 15 and Interstate 80 crossed there, and travelers would carry the illness in all directions.
He immediately considered the LDS Church’s Temple Square as an obvious target, but on the day he walked past it, a group of men were cleaning graffiti off the outside wall. By the next day, a 12-foot-high metal fence had been placed around Temple Square as well as the blocks that held the Conference Center, the Joseph Smith Building and the Church Office Building.
“So much for that,” he told himself. “I think Energy Solutions Arena is now the best location for widespread success.”
That afternoon he had slipped into the arena and found a custodian mopping the floor. Dragon saw her name on her shirt and said, “Hey Jasmine, I’m new in town and really need a job. I’ll even clean toilets for free for a week just to show you what a good worker I am.”
The woman raised her eyebrows. “You’d really do that?”
“Let’s go talk to my supervisor,” she said.
Within twenty minutes Dragon had been accepted as a volunteer worker—with the possibility of being hired in the future. He thanked the supervisor profusely, and Jasmine led him back to the custodian closet to give him a list of tasks she preferred not to do. Dragon spent the afternoon cleaning the urinals in all of the men’s restrooms. Things couldn’t have worked out better.
That evening he paid cash for a disposable cell phone and called his three other partners to find out how things were going for them. Rain reported she had taken a job at a concession stand in Madison Square Garden that gave her access to their nacho cheese and hot dog condiments.
“That will be great,” Dragon told her. “If you can mix a little into the food, you’ll have amazing results.”
He then called Fire, who reported he’d been hired to move equipment for trade shows into the Moscone Center, San Francisco’s largest convention complex. This job gave him access to all of the public areas, and with several big trade shows coming up, he was excited about his ability to spread the illness.
Meanwhile, Wind had faced the most challenging assignment due to the massive earthquake in southern California, and he didn’t answer Dragon’s initial call, but he later called to say he was able to secure a spot as a volunteer at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which had been turned into a shelter for those who had lost their homes.
“I work at a table handing out sheets and pillows, and my supposedly sanitary gloves will be covered with the toxin,” he said. “This place will be a powderkeg within a couple of days.”
“Excellent,” Dragon told him. “Go ahead and get started. The rest of us will soon be underway as well.”
While working the next day, Dragon noticed Energy Solutions Arena had events scheduled on three consecutive nights later in the week. Since the toxin would be most effective during the first 48 hours it was released, he’d be able to infect two diverse crowds who would travel back to their home cities and multiply the possible exposures before anyone realized what was happening. The toxin would probably be fading by the third night, but any additional infections would be a plus.
“It’s hard to beat the diversity of pro wrestling, country music, and a Rolling Stones concert,” Dragon said with a laugh. “Maybe we’ve finally found something that will finish off Mick Jagger.”
Dragon became acquainted with a few other custodians, and all they wanted to talk about was Hurricane Barton. The storm had roared along the western edge of the Gulf of Mexico and had disabled or destroyed most of the oil rigs in its path. It was now bearing down on the Gulf Coast and mandatory evacuations were being ordered for millions of residents in Texas and Louisiana.
Dragon couldn’t believe his luck. The American people would be so focused on the hurricane and the continuing earthquake recovery efforts in southern California that they wouldn’t even be aware they were being hit by the worst bioterror attack in history.
The timing was perfect.