riverUnmistakably awkward yet cunning the device undulated as it squeezed through the narrow passage. The grease and grime posed little difficulty for it as its hundreds of delicate wire legs wriggled incessantly and silently through the sludge. Its body about ten inches long comprised of titanium disks that made up a spine which was extremely flexible. Burrowing through narrow passages presented no problem as it was designed for meeting challenges like this.

It had been deployed three weeks earlier and almost had reached its objective. In its Kevlar stomach it carried its deadly toxin which was to be administered to its target. The “creepers” as they were fondly nicknamed, were designed for various functions one of which was assassination. The idea was simple; locate the target, execute the order and retreat without a trace. For a task such as this a creeper was the perfect tool.

The target in this case was one Dr. Benjamin Bromide, notorious chemist who had connections all over the Middle East and was believed to be the chief researcher behind Al Hassid Hamman’s controversial chemical weapons program. Intelligence reports suggested that Dr. Bromide was working on a new formula capable of killing millions of people in a very selective manner. The formula infected only misfits! Through a highly innovative approach, Bromide had managed to discover a way of placing a chemical imprint onto any virus of his choosing. This meant that particular sections of the target population could be isolated by means of any biological factor they might have in common. For this purpose by way of a simplified example, sections of a population group could be selectively infected if they shared the same colour eyes, or were of a certain height etc. Furthermore the chemical stamp could be imprinted on virtually any virus; the flu virus for example. So an attack was hard to spot as casualties were hidden amongst much larger groups of subjects that presented normal symptoms of common non lethal diseases.  To make matters even more complicated, many different viruses with a variety of chemical stamps could be released simultaneously. The resulting massacre would go almost unnoticed. Diverse groups would only be affected, and in each of those groups only a percentage would die. Medical authorities could only conclude that it was a particularly virulent strain of a natural virus and would have no cause to be suspicious.

Recent reports from reliable sources, indicated that Dr. Bromide was about to make a breakthrough in the Factor C. Marker Research Project. If he were to succeed it would deliver a weapon of dooms day proportions into the hands of state sponsored terrorists. Several attempts to locate and apprehend the fugitive doctor had proven fruitless. After the hideous debacle where agents discovered his experimentation retreat in Mexico, the sordid findings had made their way onto the world’s headlines. It was revealed that the internationally respected Nobel Prise winning chemist had been conducting trials on human subjects. Apparently he had enlisted impoverished Mexican peasants to conduct his grotesque test’s on. Several of the unfortunate recruits had died in very unpleasant circumstances. Although most of his team and assistants were arrested the doctor himself escaped justice. The whole sordid affair had proven to be a great embarrassment to the government as it had appointed Dr. Bromide as head of the Federal Virological Research Laboratory. Secretly certain government agencies had commissioned the work that he was carrying out in Mexico. Of course officially none of this was accredited but in certain circles it was commonly known that Bromide was only months away from cracking the Factor C. Marker conundrum. Whoever made a breakthrough in this research could hold entire continents to ransom. Thus it was imperative that Bromide be stopped by any means.

The problem was that no one knew where he was. Sightings were popping up all over. Rumour had it that he was working for the Chinese but these were unconfirmed. A normally reliable source placed him in Istanbul in early march. Agents and mercenaries were sent in after him but it turned out to be false information; then news of a connection with Al Hassid Hamman! Hamman was the religious leader of an extreme fundamentalist state in the Eastern Block. Dr. Bromide’s brother was married to Hamman’s third cousin’s sister. Secret government sources concluded that evidence as damming as this could not be ignored.

Since his location within the rogue country could not be determined the government decided to commence operations against the entire country. This was done on the pretext that the rogue state was harbouring terrorists and was engaged in illegal chemical weapons stockpiling exercises. This was in contravention of all acceptable humanitarian standards of decency they argued. Consequently they bombed several hundred targets over a period of months. The operation was ineffective as Dr. Bromide issued a video tape condemning the government for their imperialist and unlawful actions. It was at this juncture that General Cooper ordered the use of a “creeper”.

The” Creeper” was the latest highly advanced self preserving A.I. system. Its programming was deceptively simple. Its artificial intelligence worked on the premise that if it was threatened it acted with fear and took evasive action. It was designed on the principal of “fight or flight”. Threaten it with a gun or hammer for example and it would scurry away to safety in the blink of an eye. If it was cornered it had no choice but to take offensive action, like a startled rattle snake. It located its target by following a D.N.A. trail; this it detected by analysing any organic matter like microscopic flakes of skin. When deployed it could follow targets by land, air, and sea. In some cases it followed its objective for years before eventually catching up with it to eventually inject its lethal poison. Once its mission was accomplished it returned to its base thus confirming a successful operation.

Creepers were highly effective at breaching secure buildings. The usual method of entrance was through the sewage pipes. It was 11.45pm, local time and the titanium device lay in wait under the rim of the toilet bowl. Its tapering tail wriggled and made delicate tapping sounds against the ceramic as its countless centipedes like legs rearranged themselves for better grip. A loud creek broke the silence as the bathroom door slowly swung open.  Footsteps then the ruffling of clothing, a zip unfastening, and the tinkle of a belt buckle followed by the passing of air as the buttocks descended on the toilet seat. At last Dr. Bromide in the flesh!


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