Scooting along over the undulating hills, the MQ-25 Teratorn unmanned aerial vehicle is inscrutably black against the dark cloudy night sky. It expertly surfs the buffeting winds under the guidance of an advanced internal computer, carefully keeping it from rising high enough to be more likely to be detected by radar, or low enough to accidentally collide with a hillside. Upon close inspection one might notice some sort of vapor being blown out of tubes at the ends of the UAV's two wings, leaving two barely perceptible trails behind the aircraft, which slowly sink and quickly dissipate.
Cresting a ridge, the UAV flies directly over a military truck equipped with anti-aircraft guns and missiles. Though the Teratorn has been made of state of the art composite materials so as to be all but undetectable to radar, the SA-22 Greyhound anti-aircraft vehicle happens to spot it against the night sky. It takes the vehicle commander only a moment to guess what the small object in the sky is and order his crew to open fire. The turret spins around to bear on the target, the gunner selects fragmentation rounds to increase odds of hitting the tiny target and the twin autocannons blaze to life.
In the air, the drone immediately adopts an evasive maneuver of unpredictable zigzags to avoid the lightning blazing up at it from the truck. It banks, swerves, and swoops to avoid the explosions of flak around it, maneuvering towards the nearest ridge it can put between itself and its adversary.
The aircraft jerks sharply as a flak fragment slices a large chunk out of its left wing. It wobbles about, trying to maintain control, as an automatic self destruct sequence is set into motion by the damage. As it starts to spin downwards the UAV disgorges the rest of its aerosol contents and then burns brightly as phosphorus incendiary devices inside it ignite. Only a shower of sparks hits the ground.
The AA truck commander gets on his radio to report the event to the base a few miles downwind.
0523 hours, April 22nd (A week later), northwestern Iran
At a small outpost guarding a mountain pass on the border with Turkey there's one low mud brick building surrounded by a wall, and in a circle around that are about a dozen tanks or armoured personnel carriers. The lookout focuses his binoculars on a group of horsemen galloping along the road towards them out of Turkey. They definitely look like Kurdish militiamen, why they'd be charging at an outpost on horses seems incomprehensible though -- it would surely be a suicide mission against the mechanized forces here. Nevertheless the lookout pulls the general alarm switch.
Moments later vehicle crewmen come running out of the building still putting their uniforms on, and jump into their respective assigned vehicles. The commander briskly approaches, lighting a cigarette as he comes.
"What the hell is it Durali??" he asks, reaching for the binoculars. The lookout points at the horsemen. "What the bloody hell?" he mutters as he observes the horsemen. All around them vehicle engines rumble and splutter.
One by one it quickly becomes clear none of the vehicles will actually start. After a string of profanities the commander orders the crews out of their vehicles and tells them to line up with their KL-7 assault rifles or man guns on their vehicle that bear on the enemy as is.
The first to pull the trigger is the man with the anti-materiel rifle, a long range 50 caliber gun for taking out light vehicles. The gun makes a click and nothing happens. The gunner ejects the round and tries another with the same results. While he examines his gun, first the commander and then the other soldiers test their weapons by attempting to fire a round into the air... none of them work.
The horsemen arrive with simple bolt action rifles with fixed bayonets, as well as swords at their sides, fire a few rounds over the Iranian soldier's heads to demonstrate their weapons work, and accept their prompt surrender.
Meanwhile, over the Persian Gulf -- An Iranian Air Force "Saeqeh" fighter jet is en route to land on the mainland because several warning lights have come on on the control panel, when it receives orders to intercept a number of airborne contacts detected inbound from over Saudi Arabia. As he wheels around the pilot reminds the man on the radio of the condition of his craft but is curtly told it is imperative he intercept the contacts. The craft begins to rattle and shake and the rest of the warning lights come on. Minutes later it crashes into the sea.
The incoming US F-22 fighters find their travel completely unopposed as they cross the Persian Gulf and hundreds of miles of Iranian territory to drop their payloads on Iranian nuclear sites.
1522 hours, January 25th (three months earlier), 2021, Black Mesa Research Facility, USA
"When we first began to investigate anti-materiel biological weapons in the early 90s, we were amazed at the range of vulnerable targets... we came to understand that there was almost nothing in the world that some organism will not consume." Dr Breen, the research facility's Administrator, was recounting.
"There's bacteria that consume hydrocarbons and will bore holes in asphalt, destroying roads and runways; there's microbes that eat oil and pretroleum products; things like Thiobacillus ferrooxidans eat metal; there's even bacteria that eat concrete. None of these organisms degraded anything nearly fast enough to have military applications in their natural state... so we've had to genetically modify them a bit. But as modified we can use them to destroy roads and runways, fuels and lubricants, gaskets and other rubber pieces of machines, composites, by the 90s we could already render explosives useless in a matter of days... we can destroy practically anything depending on which biological agent we deploy!"
"So we can render all of an enemy's equipment useless without firing a shot?? That's fantastic!" exclaims the recently elected President.
"Well Jeb, here's the thing, it's against the Biological Weapons Convention" reminds the National Security Advisor.
"What? That's ridiculous! They'd rather have us shoot people than let the air out of their tires?"
"These are biological agents, and they're weapons" the advisor makes a its-not-my-fault gesture.
"Well, there's some legitimate concerns that the agents could spread out of control and destroy non-target materiel" the facility administrater breaks in. "But! We've encoded failsafe suicide genes into the microbes -- they're 'programmed' to die off a certain period of time after release"
"Well then I don't see a problem! If people want to argue about legal technicalities they can go ahead and do that while I'm solving problems without killing people." says the President, thumping the conference table with his fist for emphasis. "So what were you proposing we do with this stuff, G Man?" he asks, using his nickname for the National Security Advisor.
"In just over three months Iran will have a nuclear weapons capability. This must be prevented at all costs. Unfortunately they have the largest military in the Middle East, I'm proposing we use the anti-materiel weapons to neutralize their military forces, encourage the Kurdish groups in the northwest and the resistance groups in the rest of the country to use the opportunity to rise up against the current government, and in the meantime bomb their nuclear facilities."
"So we can either live in fear of Iranian nukes, have a messy war with their conventional forces, or tell some uptight hippies that they can stuff their fifty year old treaty? Let's do this!"
Almost smiling, the advisor notes "well I'm sure our legal team can work up a loophole for this anyway"
0341 hours, April 30th, 2021, underground biological weapons lab in northeast Iran
It has been over a week since they lost touch with the rest of the country. All the power and communications seem to be out. What has come across in the scattered messages that got through before everything out there failed though paints a picture of massive uprisings by resistance groups. They seemed to have known just when to strike.
Here in the hermetically sealed environment of the research lab, however, things remained unaffected. The scientists had immediately put away the anthrax they were working on and carefully collected samples from the surrounding environment of the foreign microbes that were destroying everything. It must have taken years to develop them to their current state, but it had been relatively easy to identify the "failsafe" genes that had been cobbled on to them and disable them. It's unclear what's become of the Supreme Leader and national government, but the extremely loyal director of the facility is determined that what happened to Iran should happen to everyone else. As such he is eagerly pleased to be informed that his team has managed to isolate and eliminate the failsafe genes, leaving only ravenously hungry microbes that will just keep eating manmade materials until the entire world is reduced to the stone age, and immediately starts making arrangements for the modified microbes to be transported by horseback out of Iran and out to Western cities from which they'll rapidly spread throughout the world via air travel.
See here for a very informative source on anti-materiel biological weapons which I found very useful. I just wish it wasn't so preachy about being anti-anti-materiel biological weapons.