Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

The spiders are watching me. Just like the flies, but cleverer. A fly can never be stealthy – except hoverflies, but they’re too difficult to control.

“James, come out. We know you’re in there.”

Of course they know. The spiders showed them. Eight furtive little legs with eight beady eyes on top, backed by a microscopic implant broadcasting on tightbeam back to a tiny receiver that runs the spider’s chaotic vision through a complex program that reduces it to something human eyes can comprehend.

“James, be reasonable.”

I started this. While all the other bio-augmentation projects worked on mammals, I went downscale. Insects are fascinating and many have a curious affinity for augmentation. Fair enough, the fleas were a step to small. But I learned a lot. So much that I had to start triple-layer, quadruple-key encrypting my notes. I had stuff they would sell their souls for, if they hadn’t mortgaged them already. Stuff so deadly I cannot even leave a hint of it.

“James, you need help.”

Help? Their kind of help will be torture and slow death. I’ll stay right here in my armoured underground lab. While I’m in here, my erasure programme continues. Woodlice with magnetic carapaces wandering through datastores; it’s good to know the harm I have invented will never escape.

“James, can we talk about your little friends?”

No, we can’t. I’m not stopping them. You will never know how to grow carapaces of depleted uranium or make weevils that can disable electronics. The secrets of the hornet grenade and the wasp that produces poison-arrow frog venom for its sting; ant reconnaissance swarms and beetles that spin monofilament lines guided by pheromones, all this will be lost.

A flicker of movement catches my eye, but it’s only a death-mantis taking out one of their watchspiders. The formula to the mantis’ lethal secretion is the first secret I destroyed. The only ones in existence are in here, keeping their spies out.

“Do you need food, James?”

They really think that I am engaged in some protest siege in the hope that the world will rush to my aid. The world knows nothing of me, never will, and will be far better off for that. My legacy shall be tales of a mad scientist and his multi-legged frankensteins muttered in the quiet moments at every hidden research centre worldwide. I cannot be taken, alive or dead. Imaging of my brain could give them enough to know where to start.

I am sitting on the finest improvised explosive device ever made. Three stage: biological, electrical and fission. I will die quickly, then my brain will be purged by an ampage not seen since Tesla suffered a lighting strike that boosted a test of his distribution field so much that even the ground glowed. Finally, a small but incredibly dirty nuke will make sure that whatever remains in here is unavailable to forensics for ten millennia.

I lift the mug from the watchspider I have let survive. It turns slowly until it’s pointing straight at the device, centred in the beam of the small spotlight I rigged up. Details can be hard to discern unless the subject is brightly lit and I’d hate for them to think I am bluffing.

“Captain Miller. I suggest that you start running. Three miles should be sufficient, unless you have implants, in which case I recommend five and a certain alacrity in getting there.”

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