When a leading ‘bug’ researcher is returned to normal size early, he discovers the science which alters his size has a flaw. Can his best friend help him out of the trouble he’s in?
I had been placed in a different section to the others, but it made no difference; I was here to study, and the data I required could not be found anywhere else. My research was in its final stages and soon I would be free. I allowed my mind to dwell on my impending success for a fraction of a second, before returning my attention to the task that lay before me.
The nest had accepted me, thanks to the scent other operatives had secured, but I still had specific tasks to perform in its service. The nest warriors took my responsibilities seriously, and my study less so. These responsibilities that had extended my stay into months yet, as time progressed I found I did not resent them. And, speaking of tasks…
I looked up at the seeds clinging to the swaying stem above me and sighed. I'd hated heights before, feared them. Hunger conquered fear. I began to climb.
If they'd told me, when I'd laughed at it, that the panga, the bush knife, would soon become my most valued possession, I would have laughed even harder. I wasn't laughing now as I dug the climbing-spikes attached to my boots into the stringy fiber of the grass stem and took the panga from my belt.
Two practiced swings of the blade and the seed head began to sway. One more carefully placed slice and it began to fall. I clung to the stem like a lab monkey to the bars of its cage, and watched the head plummet to the ground. Once it lay resting on the earth below, I climbed down, thanking whatever powers presiding that I had stayed fit in the company gym in spite of the hours I worked.
That fitness now stood me in good stead. Fitness and the Talent I had not informed the company I possessed. Fitness had seen me through the grueling weeks of autumn when the nest went into a frenzy of gathering enough food to take its inhabitants through winter, but it was the Talent that warned me of dangers I could not see.
The Talent was whispering at me now. Pausing mid-climb, I dug the spikes firmly into the stem and looked around. Nothing, yet I could hear the Talent whispering and felt the skin on my spine beginning to crawl.
I resumed my descent, careful to keep my progress as steady as before. Some of the creatures down here were smart. If I looked to be in a hurry, whatever it was would pounce.
I stopped my climb just before I reached the ground. It didn't take long for me to release the climbing spikes and step, one foot at a time, away from the plant. The Talent was almost screaming now.
I reached for my machete, slipping it free from its holster as I turned and found the creature already advancing. Of all the animals I had faced, I knew this was the most deadly.He was fast, almost as fast as myself, and he was bigger. He was pretty smart as well, although I did not like to think of him as being as smart as I was. Deny it as I might, I was
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