Primordial Soup

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Chapter 14

Britain’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth was amongst a flotilla of ships berthed at Southampton docks. Helicopters landing on the deck were unloading prominent dignitaries and their families. The sky was a hive of activity as helicopters took off and others landed. The water was filled with smaller craft ferrying people to the flotilla of ships.

The Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Defence, members of the top cabinet and Chiefs of Staff were below decks in the boardroom. Professor Stanton was sitting next to the Prime Minister. He stood up and began outlining the current situation to the meeting.

‘As you know, the creatures have grown in such numbers that to eradicate them by conventional means is now virtually impossible. The ones we captured show completely different characteristics to the previous infection. Diesel is no longer an effective weapon against them. This time around, once a creature is killed, their bodies become inert and no longer give rise to the slugs; they can be killed like any other creature.’

The Prime Minister interrupted him. ‘Have you found a way of killing them without harming the population?’

‘Not at this point in time, no. We’ve tried introducing viral infection. This has proved fruitless due to their ability to absorb the DNA of the virus and render it ineffective. Their bodies are also impervious to chemical, radiation, and poison gas. Their adaptive abilities are beyond our known science. I believe the only way to eradicate them en-mass is to capture them and exterminate them.’

‘What do you assess their number to be professor?’ Burbridge asked.

‘We estimate it to be in the billions and growing exponentially. There are also creatures that have mutated into land-based creatures. Not of the size we had before, though just as nasty. Most are the size of small mammals. Their evolution is still accelerated but seems to have been curtailed somewhat.’

The Prime Minister sat forward. ‘What’s the worst case scenario?’

‘Unless we act quickly the UK will be overrun in a matter of days. We do have a suggestion however as to how we could capture the creatures. They’ve adopted bird like habits of flocking and roosting at night. The ones we examined appear not to have the best eyesight. They have no echolocation ability like bats, this forces them to roost at sundown. If we can set up teams to net the creatures, they can be transported to facilities for incineration.’

‘With the numbers you’ve just stated, That could take years,’ Burbridge put in.

‘Not necessarily, secretary. The creature’s habits mean that when they roost it is in large numbers. A daytime attack is out of the question, nothing can withstand an assault from those numbers, but at night the creatures can be captured relatively easily.’

‘And how do you propose we do this when they’re on top of high buildings.’

‘We drop heavy netting from helicopters covering a large area each night and ground teams collect up the creatures for incineration. Obviously we need to...’

‘Preposterous,’ Burbridge sneered. ‘You’re talking about a whole country, not just a small area. Prime Minister. I propose we send in the troops and shoot or burn the bloody things. If as you say their vulnerable at night we can shoot them as they sleep.’

‘Let’s hear the Professor out Charles,’ Robertson snapped.

Burbridge sat back in his chair. ‘Sorry Peter. Please, continue.’ He folded his arms across his chest and sat waiting.

‘Thank you, secretary. If you start shooting at a flock they will attack. Their eyesight is not good, but they’re not completely blind at night.’

Robertson cut in. ‘Professor. Sorry to interrupt. But if we did what you propose how could they be collected up without risking our personnel.’

‘We electrocute them. It kills them much as it would any other animal. If we use metal netting the ground troops can connect it to generators and send a high voltage current through the net, effectively killing all the creatures trapped under it. We’ve made up a scale model to test it out. It appears to work perfectly. It would just need to be scaled up. A demonstration has been set up in the hanger.’

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