The story introduces Gideon Crew, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who is also a former art thief/master-of-disguise. He learns from his mother that his mathematician father—who had developed a flawed encryption—had actually warned his boss about the flaws, only to be murdered. Gideon exacts revenge from his father's murderer. As a result of this, he is recruited to be a freelance operative by an ultra-private security/engineering firm working for the Department of Homeland Security. His mission: to trace and retrieve plans for a mysterious super-weapon being brought to the United States of America by a Chinese scientist before the Chinese can recover them.