Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

April 6, 2010

Genetic Warfare as Shown in CyberKill

Filed under: CyberKill — Frank Fiore @ 3:40 PM

Here’s a scene from CyberKill that shows a genetic weapon in operation.

Cole walked over to Webster with Shannon asleep in his arms. He gently placed her on a large ammo box at his feet and she curled up into a ball. He stood up and shoved his face in front of Webster’s. “You son-of-a-bitch! How could you have put my daughter in harm’s way?”

But Webster, working on a laptop, didn’t bother looking up at Cole. “She was never in harm’s way.”

Cole blinked. Webster continued tapping at the laptop. Beyond, under the bright exterior lights now restored, Safko moved from one body to the next. He was wearing a mask.

“What do you mean?” Cole asked.

“She was never in harm’s way because she is your daughter.”

“What? Why? …”

Webster cut him off. “And you and her mother are of Nordic descent.”

Cole finished his thought. “What has that got to do with anything?”

Webster continued coolly tapping away on his laptop. Cole was close to yanking the thing out of his hands and smashing it over his head. Webster answered, “As you might recall, Cole, the nano-tube dust we made was one part silicon and one part biologic, and on one side of the tubes was a semi-conductor and on the other was a tiny sensor laboratory.”

”Yes, yes,” Cole interrupted. “The little lab acts as a biological cell. We programmed it to analyze and report any bio/chem agent it senses in the atmosphere. Now, what does this …?”

“And to synthesize,” Webster added, cutting him off.

Cole frowned. “Synthesize?”

“Yes, synthesize. Like a cell. The nano-lab can create an incredible amount of chemicals. That was BioNan’s little contribution to the dust, Cole. Our dust mites can synthesize and disperse any chemical we choose. Like synthesized Ebola.” He nodded toward the two bodies on the ground. “And that was your little contribution to the dust. Your CA programming lets the dust act like a little chemical factory.”

Cole was silent. Beyond, Safko was looking at the remains of the dead soldiers, shining a flashlight over what Cole could only imagine was one grisly scene.

Webster continued, “The dust is programmed to sense certain bio-chemistries of any living thing it lands on. Once it identifies the biology, the dust can create a poison that attacks that, and only that, biological marker. We call it a cyberkill weapon.”

“Jesus,” exclaimed Ryder.

“And what biological marker is this cyberkill weapon programmed to sense for?” asked Cole warily.

“DNA,” Webster said, finally looking up from his laptop. “We’ve modified your CA programming to sense and respond to a certain set of ethnic DNA signatures. They’re called the Eighteen Eves. Have you heard of them, Cole?”

“Yes, I have,” said Cole.

“Good,” said Webster. “Then you understand why the two terrorists were killed by the dust and not Shannon.”

“Well, I don’t understand,” said Ryder. “What the hell are you two talking about?”

Cole answered, “The two Brotherhood members were not of Nordic descent.” He looked to Webster for confirmation, who nodded, seemingly pleased.

Webster said, “Yup. They were Asian. We knew that from the intel we received from the NSC.”

“And since Shannon was not Asian, then the dust was not programmed to harm her?” asked Ryder.

“That’s correct. We programmed the dust we used tonight to kill only those of Asian descent.”

Cole heard the words, but his mind — his incredibly tired mind — could not wrap itself around the concept.

“But … how?” he asked. He needed a drink. He needed two drinks. Hell, he needed to get drunk ASAP.

Webster snapped shut his laptop and tucked it into his briefcase as he spoke. “To start, one end of the nano-tube is a living stem cell.”

“Yes, we know that,” said Cole.

“But what you may not know is that a living cell contains incredible molecular machines that manipulate information, encoding molecules such as DNA and RNA in ways that are fundamentally very similar to computation. And such molecular machines could potentially analyze natural DNA — human or non-human.”

“So how do you turn that into a weapon?” asked Ryder.

Webster grinned again, and Cole realized that the man just might — might — be mad. “Angel Dust is a molecular machine that, once inhaled, can operate inside a human body. And we program the dust so that it will affect a body at a molecular level.”

“So that means …” began Ryder, obviously trying to wrap his own mind around the information.

Webster broke in smugly, “The dust can synthesize and release whatever we program it to do.”

“But … how?”

“The dust creates ribosomes,” said Webster, and held up a finger to forestall Ryder’s next question. “And ribosomes are the protein-synthesizing machines of the cell. These machines translate the ‘message’ from messenger RNA into a protein. Messenger RNA is transcribed from DNA. So, in effect, ribosomes ultimately translate the DNA code into an actual protein. And in our present case,” he added, glancing over to the bloody corpses just beyond the chain link fence, “the ribosomes translated the DNA code into a modified Ebola virus.”

“Jesus Christ,” mumbled Ryder.

“You’re hacking DNA instead of software,” said Cole.

Webster smiled smugly. “Exactly. Any DNA we choose, anywhere we choose. As you know, Cole, there isn’t much difference between using a computer to decode the gene sequence and using a computer to insert a bacteria into that gene sequence.”

“And create genocide on a global scale,” said Cole.

“In a manner of speaking, yes.”

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1 Comment »

  1. Frank,

    Good concept developed in the creation of a manageable and non-detectable killing micro-machine. Too close to reality to dismiss it or just another good read. This technology is not that far from reality to allow a reader to put this down and walk away in the same zone of comfort he or she began the story in. I would think this is the near science that will make a top notch Military Fiction novel.

    Comment by Noel Lee Carter — April 6, 2010 @ 4:14 PM | Reply


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