The world held its breath at the height of the Cold War in August of 1968 while the Soviets crossed into Czechoslovakia with tanks, troops and helicopter gunships to brutally put an end to what the Communist superpower of the time saw as a threat to its hard-line doctrine. The so-called "Prague Spring," which by August was gaining in momentum, was a liberal movement led by the newly appointed Communist leader of the Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubcek.
At the same time the people of Czechoslovakia were beginning to see a glimmer of reform to a more democratic society, Tim Ryerson was also seeing his own personal freedom taking shape. He was about to graduate from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in psychology, and, as his reward, planned to take a long vacation in Europe after graduation.
During that same spring of 1968, amid campus demonstrations against the war in Vietnam and anything else that symbolized the "establishment," Tim was openly approached by trench-coated government agents and recruited to perform a clandestine job for them during his planned travel in Europe. The mastermind for Tim's involvement for the "routine" courier job turned out to be his mysterious uncle who Tim discovered was the CIA station chief in Vienna.
The assignment was to be relatively simple: cross the guarded Czech border from Austria with local operatives, and then retrieve a small capsule of microfilm called a "pearl" from a pro-Western physicist. However, Tim gets caught in the middle of the Soviet military incursion and the simple mission turns into one of sheer terror and suspense, with a high degree of confusion, betrayal and murder.