The murder of two fellow microbiologists and a bizarre act of ecological sabotage draws Lt. Colonel Jon Smith and the Covert-One Agency into a strange global quest that will lead from the geyser basins of Yellowstone National Park to the exotic Onsan hot spring resorts of Northern Japan and on to the unearthly wastes of Chile's Atacama Desert.
At stake is the Holy Grail of the biological sciences, the Common Universal Ancestor, the origin point of all life on Earth and a potential goldmine for medical science. Smith's investigation leads to South American scientist Dr. Silvestre Alvarado, who is seeking this special universal microbe as a way to prolong life. His goal is human immortality and if he succeeds, mankind, and even the definition of "man" may be altered beyond recognition, forever.
Supported by Covert-One operative Valentina Metrace and rogue CIA agent Randi Russell, Smith's hunt for Alvarado is thrown off course by a Washington beltway power group determined to penetrate and destroy Covert-One.