Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Loyalty


Everyone considered a mouse too small and hardly worth the effort but Laurence Barnaby persevered. His breeding program took eleven years and three laboratories, crossbreeding the mice from one facility with the next to make ten separate strains of Mus musculus, each genetically pure and fertile.

"Developing the brain was the most difficult," he explained to the three generals. "Though I've found the development of the opposable thumb goes hand-in-hand with higher brain functions."

"All very well." General Parson leaned forward in the darkened room. The heat and the hum of the projector was getting to him and only a nudge from General Wagner on his left saved him from snoring through the last twenty minutes. "But how can your super mice be of use to us?"

"We can weaponise them." Barnaby showed another slide of a mouse holding a gun no bigger than a matchstick. The bullets are coated with neurotoxins. They only have to hit a target's skin and they're down, efficiently and silently."

"Weaponise rodents?" Wagner laughed. "You must thing were fools Mr. Barnaby. You have no concept of the real world, do you? Shuttered away in your little laboratories pursuing academic fame at the cost of good British soldiers. Put a mouse into action and they'll likely raid the enemies' cheese and eat themselves into a coma. No, Mr. Barnaby. Go back to your lab and invent a gun that shoots around corners or plasma rifles or monofilament blades."

General McLeay spoke up. "What my colleague is trying to say is that unless you come up with something useful we'll have to let you go."

"But my mice are useful." Barnaby leaned forward. "Imagine the covert applications for a species of loyal, intelligent rodents, capable of infiltrating the enemy under their very noses. Mice like the one on the backs of your chairs right now."

The three generals didn't have a chance. Tiny blades snicked across carotid arteries, each introducing a virulent poison into their bloodstream.

Barnaby leaned over the corpse of General Wagner. "Did I say loyal? I meant to me, of course."

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