June 3rd, 1908. Fritz Haber, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, has taken time off from his work with ammonia and hydrocarbons to work on a new and stronger pesticide to deal with irritatingly persistent
File:Fritz Haber.png
tomato leaf miners afflicting his garden. Using various chemicals he has on hand, especially hydrogen fluoride, he, over the course of a week, completes a process resulting in a new liquid chemical he believes will finally eliminate these pests and save his garden with what remains of his tomatoes. He carefully transports it back to his house on the outskirts of Karlsruhe, where, the next morning, he releases some over his garden, taking care to avoid inhaling any. He then goes into town to procure some beer for a dinner party he is hosting the next week, leaving his young nephew Shimon to play soldier in the backyard.

The structure of Sarin

The pesticide proves more toxic than Haber expected. Far more toxic. Shimon joins the leaf miners to become the first casualties of this new chemical weapon; sarin. They are shortly joined by Haber's neighbour, Herr Lieber, then the town doctor, who inhales the gas from Shimon's clothes. Herr Haber returns home to carnage. He is saved from joining his nephew by being arrested by the local policeman, the only one who had the presence of mind not to go into the backyard.

This new weapon comes swiftly to the attention of one Colonel Degech, the local commandant of the Imperial German Army, who has an academic interest in chemical warfare. He brings it to the attention of his cousin, an official in the German ministry of war, who swiftly realizes the potential of this weapon, if it works as described. He orders Colonel Degech to prevent information leaking out. He does so, arresting around sixty people who had some awareness of what had occurred.

These people were informed that the deaths were the work of an escaped criminal, while the houses were the victim of a coincidental fire, which destroyed all evidence to the contrary. Herr Haber, meanwhile, was offered a deal; reproduce the gas for the German government and escape prosecution for the three deaths he had caused. He happily acquiesced, being a patriotic German and by no means eager to be convicted for murder. He went into isolation at a chemical warfare testing center in Bavaria, deep in the Black Forest, where the gas was produced and tested over the next few months in the utmost secrecy. It proved effective beyond the War Ministry's most gruesome daydreams.

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