Seven Kill Tiger comes to life

 In THERE WILL BE WAR VOL. X, the late Jerry Pournelle and I published a haunting story called “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles W. Shao. It even anticipated the use of vaccine programs to administer genetic weaponry. An excerpt.

Philip Thompson was reading a report of a small measles outbreak in Ecuador when a knock on the open door to his office disturbed him. He looked up and saw it was Scott Berens, one of his junior analysts, standing in the doorway.

“You heard about Ecuador, Dr. Thompson?” the younger man asked.

“Reading about it now. Looks as if the government has it under control.”

“They caught it early enough. It’s the Tungurahua province again. That’s been a problem area for the Ministry of Health since 1996. The vaccination program misses too many of the indigenous children.”

“Understandable.” Thompson put the report down on his desk. “What’s on your mind, Scott?”

“Do you remember that unknown outbreak in northern Zambia we started tracking six months ago?”

“I thought that was a false alarm.”

“It was, insofar as we were able to determine that it wasn’t Ebola, which was the initial concern. And there were only 142 cases and 26 deaths before it burned itself out, so we didn’t even bother sending anyone over to investigate.”

Thompson clicked his tongue against his lower lip, wondering where Berens was going with this. The young man was a bright young doctor and had graduated in the top ten percent of his class from Johns Hopkins, so he assumed Berens must have a good reason for bringing such an obscure incident to his attention.

“Are you saying we should have?”

“No, it’s just that I was reading over the statistics, as part of a paper I was thinking about writing on east Africa, when I noticed an anomaly.”

“What’s that?”

“The population of the nearest town. It’s mostly Chinese. I think they have a big mining camp up there.”

Thompson shrugged and spread his hands. “It’s hardly a secret that China has been moving into Africa in a big way for the last two decades. They have hundreds of such towns.”

“True, but that only explains why the Chinese were there. It doesn’t explain why most of the cases, and all of the deaths, were African. Only five Chinese were affected and all five recovered. Beyond the basic statistical odds involved, you would think the native population would be more resistant to whatever virus makes its way out of the jungle, not more susceptible to it.”

Thompson frowned. Berens was right. It was an anomaly. And if there was one thing he had learned after 22 years at the Center for Disease Control, it was to pay particular attention to anomalies.

“Good catch, Scott. Dig into it and see if it’s really just a mining town or if the PLA happens to have any laboratories or science facilities in the area. Not necessarily where the outbreak took place, but anywhere in the surrounding area. They went dark on the bio-war front a few years ago, and it may be that some of their test facilities were moved from Xi’an to Africa. This just might give us some insight as to where they went.”

“Do you think someone got careless and a bio-weapon escaped the lab, Dr. Thompson?” There was an eager glint in the younger man’s eyes that made Thompson smile despite himself. Such a discovery, even if it was never published in any of the public journals, could be the making of Berens’s career, and both of them knew it.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Scott. Go and see what you can find about this mining town, what is it called?”


“Right.” He didn’t even bother trying to pronounce it. “Look into what the Chinese are doing there and we’ll see if it could have any connection to this mysterious outbreak. Write it up and email it to me; I’ll call you when I’ve had a chance to read it and think it over.”

“Will do, Dr. Thompson!” Berens made a mock salute with the paper and disappeared from the doorway.

Thompson leaned back in his chair, reflecting on the unwelcome news. Unlike his young subordinate, he already knew they weren’t likely to find any evidence of laboratories, research facilities, an escaped bio-weapon, or even anything that was conventionally considered to be a bio-weapon. Conventional bio-weapons didn’t discriminate between Asian and Sub-Saharan haplogroups. Genetic weapons, on the other hand, were designed to do just that. And he very much doubted that whatever it was had been released accidentally.

After consulting his contact list, he tapped in the number for Fort Detrick. A young enlisted woman answered the phone.

“US-AMRIID. How may I direct your call?”

“This is Dr. Phil Thompson of the CDC. Get me Colonel Hill, please.”

“Right away, sir.” She paused. “The CDC… is this urgent, sir?”

He smiled grimly. “That’s exactly what I’m trying to determine.”

Now consider how that fictional scenario, published in 2015, compares with this recent report published by Gordon Chang, a critic who has historically been skeptical of Chinese capabilities.

In 2017, Chinese media first reported CCP’s intention to construct a national DNA database. But this year, a think tank in Canberra, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) released a report that revealed the key details and the scale of the operation for the first time and noted that for several years China has been collecting DNA from men, as well as school-aged boys across the country. Even though the Chinese government said that the database will help to track down criminals, the report described the operation as part of government efforts to strengthen social control.

As per the recent report, Chang claimed that China has the ability to collect very sensitive information about people from outside the country. They can do that by “buying American companies which have DNA profiles, subsidizing DNA analysis for ancestry companies, and hacking.” He said that internationally accepted QR codes for the travel in and out of China were another way the CCP government was expanding its database throughout the pandemic time.

According to him, China’s access to more than 80 million health profiles gave the authorities the ability to create dangerous bioweapons capable of destroying specific ethnic groups. Dominating the biotechnology industry was very important to China, said Chang and added that the country was probably trying to develop some diseases, which target not just everyone in the world but only certain ethnic or racial groups. “We’ve got to be concerned that the next disease is more transmissible and more deadly than the novel coronavirus,” he added.