Marwar - - Cover Story -

Pro­logue - Part 1

The young man lay on the floor, reach­ing help­lessly for his left arm with his right. His howls were like those of an in­jured an­i­mal. Sur­round­ing him were of­fi­cers of the WHMU, the White House Med­i­cal Unit, as also agents from the Se­cret Ser­vice. Stand­ing still, some dis­tance away, was the Pres­i­dent him­self. The gog­gleeyed guests who had been in­vited to the state din­ner at the White House were ush­ered out with a min­i­mum of fuss from the State Din­ing Room and into the ad­join­ing Red Room. The sup­port staff was at its ef­fi­cient best, al­though no one knew what the hell was go­ing on. The most they could con­clude was that Jean Be­langer, the Prime Min­is­ter of Canada, was in a bad way.

A medic held a cot­ton swab to Be­langer’s mouth as he coughed. There was blood in his spu­tum. Even in his semi-co­matose state, Be­langer felt a mad­den­ing urge to scratch his left arm, to rip his own skin off. One of the nurses from the med­i­cal team quickly snipped off his jacket and shirt to ex­pose the arm that seemed to be caus­ing all the trou­ble. And that’s when they saw it.

It was a dark red and was twice the size of his other arm. All over his skin were scar­let blis­ters, pus­tules that oozed a strange mix­ture of blood and wa­tery plasma.

‘I think he’s been poi­soned,’ said the WHMU Di­rec­tor, a man also des­ig­nated as Physi­cian to the Pres­i­dent. ‘There’s no time to lose. His heart rate is rapidly drop­ping!’ Upon a nod, the Di­rec­tor’s as­sis­tant hur­ried over with a de­fib­ril­la­tor. ‘Charge it to two hun­dred joules,’ or­dered the Di­rec­tor.

‘Yes, sir,’ an­swered the as­sis­tant, kneel­ing on the floor next to Be­langer. He ap­plied two gel pads, one on Be­langer’s up­per chest, be­low the right clav­i­cle,

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