“They’re such pretty little monsters, aren’t they,” I said, lowering a side of bacon into the pen.
“Well, they’re quite something alright,” my assistant replied, “they sure are hungry.”
He didn’t sound quite as enamoured of them as I was, but chimerical xenobiology is a rare artform, with its own particular aesthetic. Not all of us were graced with an education in both biology and art as children. I can but pity poor Lellenel while endeavouring to fill those gasping voids in his cultural knowledge. I can see it from his point of view too of course, the young philistine assisting a heretofore unrecognised master in the creation of his greatest works. As we all know, a great many of our most famous artists perished before their oeuvre became popular and beloved; still sadder is the field of science in which greatness is recognised but utterly ignored by those outside its hallowed circles. Lellenel and I shall strive to conquer such ignorant adversity. There’s but the barest stroke of judgment between famous and infamous and I aim to achieve a measure of each and leave the ultimate determination to those of the future, by whom all true artistic merit is assessed. If it lasts, it becomes art; if it changes the world then that’s science and my name will be forever associated with that change. Unless someone steals the work, takes the credit and my name lies forgotten to history until a brave soul retreads my arts and corrects the record. A distant hope, and one I shall seek to avoid.
Theft is, however, a concern that strikes me in the chest. That fear that someone might usurp my discoveries, claim my fame are all too real. What Lellenel called “choking paranoia” I call prudence, hence our relocation from the planet’s surface to this abandoned space station. That involved the inevitable slaughter of one set of mercenaries who acquired and fitted out the station, by another who had no knowledge of its existence. I considered going further and having those mercenaries eliminated too, but that seems like the first example of a genuinely slippery slope that isn’t a straw man, and I’d rather not tumble head over heels down it in a slush of blood. Still. Home sweet home.
This station was once a humble meteorological survey, extended time and time again for further research work and ultimately abandoned when the great cylinders were constructed in orbit. Why struggle in a tiny space with awkwardly enforced gravity when a five mile long habitat is available, its spin so well hidden that you barely notice that you’re no longer on the ground. It’s abandonment is perfect for us. Lellenel and I spent weeks ferrying our samples on board, living and frozen. The mercenaries had done good work in upgrading the gravity fields – it’s very hard to work with terrestrial (and extra-terrestrial) biology in zero-G. Gravity is an essential part of how animals grow, from developing and being correctly oriented in pregnancy to actually giving birth, developing muscle and bone mass and even in making our sinuses work properly. It’s not a fit place for animals to live at all. Now though, the laboratories are a true home away from home, and our little monsters are thriving.
Down below, on our benighted planet, the ongoing climate catastrophe and vast ecosystem deaths and extinctions have continued apace. Apparently powerless to resist the lobbying and backhanders, our politicians and governments colluded with corporations and moron billionaires to ravage our homeworld. My plan is to reseed the Earth with new species to fill the empty spaces, still more to reverse the pollution of land, sea and sky, and most crucially, creatures to seek out and annihilate those most responsible. I dream of a world where the billionaires, the influencers and the parasite politicians are consumed in their beds – a lesson, a warning, and one that can be repeated endlessly until everyone just stops. It is a mighty project, one being worked on unknowingly by a hundred labs on Earth and in the cylinders. You obviously cannot do the whole thing with just two pairs of hands, there are too many specialisms and skillsets for two people to encompass.
So I’m doing the fun part, the splicing and chimerical work. When humans stumbled outward from Earth, seeking new knowledge, fresh dares and anything, anything at all to make us feel less lonely. We struck lucky in the outer planets: those lovely moons about Jupiter and Neptune were crawling, or splashing with life. Tough, violent life, highly resistant to the radiation that falls off their parent worlds like rain on Earth. Their genomes were sequenced, analysed and samples returned home. A good number of those are in the labs we patronise, and the results of combining them with terrestrial DNA and our own animal kingdom are up here with Lellenel and I.
I have favourites, of course, and I can’t pretend there’s no whimsy in the combinations we produce, even if they do all have specific niches and purposes to fulfil. Nudibranchia, for example are going to be doing fine work in the ocean. Ordinarily tiny and beautiful little sea slugs, I’ve bolstered their resilience with Titan’s ice-breakers, transforming them from their natural few inches in size to that of the much lamented whale shark. Combined with a flotilla of tinier adapted species, they’ll cleanse the oceans and make room for our native species’ comeback. On land the pigeon-crabs will slot into the gaps left by the extinction of many rodent species. Alas, they cannot fly due to the weight of their chitin, but will aggressively defend their burrows from the intrusion of humans. At last – a pest that cannot be exterminated. Among many, many others, I’m most excited about the assassin species. When they found life on Triton, it was in a state of war – a precise, and calculated war of vicious sea star-like creatures who fed exclusively on other species according to specific genetic signatures. A moon-wide family feud keyed by unique DNA traces. My insertion of their hunting traits into terrestrial star-fish and then bees provides me with an army ready to be keyed into the DNA signatures of our worst humans. They’ll never stop.
Soon it will be time to unleash our hordes of monsters upon an unsuspecting Earth. Surprise, fear, terror, yet ultimately stability and reversal of many of the worst indignities we’ve heaped upon our homeworld. All shall remember my name, Doctor Hum Peremanche, and tremble at my works.