Just prior to a precedent-shattering US-Chinese weapons treaty signing at a Beijing summit, a covert CIA operation to place sensors that record low-level underground nuclear tests near the PRCs secret site at Lopnur in Western China goes awry. The CIA team is captured by Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) guerillas. With the clock ticking and the summit approaching, the President mobilizes a top-secret unit-Task Force 160 of the Army's Special Operations Air Regiment - and orders a team of Spec Warriors to rescue the American intel squirrels before the Chinese find out what has happened, cancel the summit, and embarrass the US. Then, satellite intelligence reveals that not only have renegade Uzbeks captured the Americans, they have also seized a thirty-year-old, capacitor-fused nuclear device from the Chinese military.
Within hours, an ultra-sensitive National Reconnaissance Office FORTAE (Fast Onboard Recognition of Transient Atomic Experiments) "sniffer" satellite indicates the IMU has somehow armed the devise. National Reconnaissance Office photos show the nuke and the hostages heading for the Pamirs and Afghanistan, where remnants of the IMU's al Qaeda allies still hold out. That is followed by a National Security Agency communications intercept: the Chinese president has secretly dispatched a Zhongdui (Special Forces) unit from the Jin Jiacha Zhu (Tactical Reconnaissance Office) of the People's Liberation Army to hunt down the terrorists and retrieve the nuke. The only good news is that Beijing doesn't know the IMU is holding six American hostages - yet. Now, the US team must not only beat the Zhongdui to the IMU guerrillas so it can extract the CIA team covertly, the rescuers must also take a Department of Energy expert to defuse the unsafe nuke without leaving any American fingerprints.