Author : Bob Newbell, Featured Writer

“Can you see him?” asked the SWAT team commander.

“Yes, commander. I'll stream the video feed to your display,” said the CASO officer. A live video of a disheveled, wild-eyed man of about 20 years clutching a girl who appeared to be about 14 with his left hand and holding a gun at her head with his right appeared on a virtual screen a few apparent feet in front of the commander. The image was, in reality, being projected to the tactical display in the police officer's contact lenses.

“He's too well-barricaded in there. No windows. Even if your force could get us precise targeting coordinates, a round fired through the wall could deflect and hit the hostage.”

The CASO officer said nothing. The video image zoomed in on the maniac's hands. A subtle outline of blood vessels, nerves, and tendons could now be seen.

“Spectrographic analysis from the four operatives I have in the building has given us a decent anatomical map with which to work,” the CASO officer said matter-of-factly.

The commander sighed. “Well, can your boys do it?”

The special ops officer was silent and motionless for many seconds, as if he were running through hundreds of scenarios and coming up with tactics and contingencies for each. At last, he said flatly, “Yes.”

Ten minutes later, as the negotiator continued to try to keep the increasingly agitated hostage-taker talking over the latter's earpiece cell phone, the CASO officer told the police commander, “We're ready.”

“Alright. My men will move in on your command.”

Inside the building, a hundred mosquitoes briefly took flight and then at the exact same moment landed on the mad man, most alighting on his hands and forearms, and simultaneously bit the man at precisely targeted locations with modified mandibles and maxillae. Down the hypopharynx of each mosquito flowed a minute quantity of a synthetic paralytic agent whose action of onset was many times faster than succinylcholine and completely without the latter drug's transient fasciculation effect. Flaccid paralysis was immediate.

The criminal's arms fell to his sides and the man himself immediately thereafter crumpled to the ground like a marionette whose strings had been cut. His young victim stood free but confused.


In a matter of seconds the door to the small building was caved in with a battering ram. The SWAT team stormed in and the girl was rushed out to a waiting ambulance. From within the building, the curses of the disarmed psychopath, his paralysis already abating, could be heard.

“Well done!” the police commander said to his colleague. He raised his hand as if he was going to slap the CASO officer on the back, then stopped himself. “Uh, we couldn't have done it without you…guys.”

“Glad we could help,” said the praying mantis standing on the hood of the commander's police cruiser from a tiny voice synthesizer. The green insect whose body was studded with minuscule cybernetic implants watched as the houseflies, heavy with their implanted surveillance equipment, flew slowly back to the box marked Cybernetic Arthropod Special Operations that sat on the other end of the police car's hood. The biomechanoid mosquitoes followed closely behind the flies.

The mantis itself then walked across the expanse of the car's hood toward the box. If it were anatomically possible, the large insect would have smiled. A job like this should be worth an extra cricket or two tonight at feeding time, he thought as he stepped into the box.

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