- "If we can learn to live responsibly in an ecosystem the size of a city block, maybe we can do a better job with the rest of the planet."
— John Brightling
John Brightling is the main antagonist of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six and its remake, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard. The founder and CEO of the Horizon Corporation, he planned to unleash a virus on the world that would cause the extinction of the human race and sparing only the chosen few who would follow him to help rebuild the planet into a pollution free zone.
John Brightling was born in 1944 in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Cornell University in the 1960s where he met Anne Lang through the same student organizations. In 1965 he earned a BS in Chemistry. In 1970, Brightling earned a PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Virginia. He then earned his MD at the same university in 1974. At some point, he married Carol Brightling and later divorced her for unknown reasons.
Due to the growing threat of environmental pollution, Brightling sought to find a way to unleash a virus on the world and cause a mass extinction. He believed that he would then be able to rebuild the planet into a pollution free zone. In 1979, Brightling founded the Horizon Corporation as a front for clandestine biological warfare experiments and conspired with Anne Lang to make his dream a reality. Lang used her new position in the U.S. government to funnel research funds into Horizon and shield them from unwanted scrutiny.
For the next twenty years, Brightling continued his efforts to develop a virus. He became one of the world's leading experts in recombinant DNA technology and was also known in the industry for his unorthodox management style and strong political views. Brightling also became closely involved with a number of environmental issues, making sizable personal contributions to groups such as Trees Unlimited and International Wildlife Rescue. With the emergence of the Phoenix Group in the 1980s, Brightling rose to become the leader of the group's American cell.
In 1997, Brightling pushed the U.S. Government to enact the Rainforest 2000 initiative to create several "biodomes" across the world. These domes would mimic Earth's ecosystem and give scientists a better understanding of the environment in order to find future solutions to pollution. Brightling's true intention for the domes would be to use them as bomb shelters to survive in after his virus was released to the population. In July 1999, the program finished constructing a biodome in Brazil, known as the "Horizon Ark".
In early 2000, Horizon opened a research facility in Congo, Africa with Dr. Catherine Winston as the lead researcher. The facility was opened as a result of Horizon being contracted by the World Health Organization to find a cure for an Ebola Brahma epidemic that had been decimating West Africa's cattle population. Brightling saw it as a opportunity to modify the virus for his plans. He then used Horizon's charity work with the inner-city homeless as a front for a kidnapping ring to acquire experimental subjects for testing the pathogen at a facility in Idaho.
On April 15th, Hutu Rebels attacked the Congo research facility and took Dr. Winston hostage. Brightling collaborated with Rainbow as an advisor for the rescue operation. Afterwards, he and Anne Land served as advisors on several missions. On August 3rd, Brightling and Lang framed Ramon Calderon for kidnapping nationals from Horizon Ark. This was done to redirect Rainbow from investigating the true purpose of the Rainforest 2000 initiative in the future.
A month later, Rainbow recovered Roland Kunst who informed them that the American cell of the Phoenix Group had gotten their hands on a bioweapon and that they were operating out of a facility in Idaho. Anne Lang attempted to prevent a Rainbow operation to raid the facility by questioning the validity of Kunst's information. After she was unsuccessful, Lang tipped off Brightling who then had the samples of the Ebola Brahma virus taken to a nearby airstrip for transport. Despite this, Rainbow was able to recover the samples and sent them to their headquarters for Dr. Winston to analyze.
On September 19th, Dr. Winston discovered the virus samples were virtually identical to the ones she had examined in the Congo. She then contacted Anne Lang and told of her belief that the Phoenix Group had someone working from within the Horizon Organization. Lang responded by telling Dr. Winston not to tell anyone of her discovery and that she would handle it. She did so by having the Phoenix Group recover the samples and kidnap Dr. Winston and hold her hostage on The Orca's Smile. Rainbow was able to rescue Dr. Winston and learned of Lang's treachery and Brightling's potential involvement.
On September 23rd, Rainbow bugged Lang's home in Alexandria, Virginia and was able to confirm that she was conspiring with Brightling to release the Ebola Braham virus. Rainbow raided the Horizon Corporation's headquarters in San Francisco on September 26th. Horizon's files revealed that the Phoenix Group had infiltrated Global Security and intended to release the virus at the closing ceremonies of the Sydney Summer Games. On October 1st, Rainbow was able to prevent the Phoenix Group from releasing the virus at the athletes' village in Sydney. With his plans exposed and foiled, Brightling and the last remnants of the American cell of the Phoenix Group barricaded themselves in the Horizon Ark in Brazil. Rainbow was able to successfully infiltrate the facility and capture Brightling. Brightling was later found guilty of crimes against humanity and was sentenced to life in prison plus fifty years.
Brightling is highly intelligent and extremely driven. He has a strong sense of honor and has several times refused to pursue profitable business opportunities that were at odds with his environmentalist principles.