MLM – Chapter 36

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Lasko, Pira’s original body, and Leonard stood in front of a circular cage-like structure, inside of which a large rat the size of a cat hung in the center, rendered immobile by numerous fibers that trussed up the entire brown rat, including its head and snout. It was unmoving, having long given up attempting to change its current state. Only its black eyes were moving, darting back and forth at its surroundings.
Ford lay nearby, his own alert eyes watching the rat. The dog could tell that the rat wasn’t a threat at the moment, but it was still ready to move at a seconds notice.
It was the second day of planning their expedition. Lasko had woken up to Ford’s angry growling. Upon investigation, he found the cage ‘sitting on their front doorstep.’ Apparently since their conversation last night, Pira had scoured the nearby underground tunnels and had the good fortune to capture one poor unsuspecting rat, bringing it back to base to tag it, hopefully leading them to the rat nest.
But what the three of them were discussing wasn’t about what to do with the tracker, and was something quite different.
“You’re saying that you can do what?” Lasko asked, having a hard time accepting what he just heard.
[Basically, I can use the rat’s memories, and try using that data to give us a path to the rat nest. Even if the data is not very precise, it’ll be a good support method to the tracking strategy.]
“Is that even possible though? Has it been done?”
Leonard also was unfamiliar with the process. “Ain’t natural,” he muttered.
“I don’t have any records of this particular process being done before,” Pira admitted. “But there have been experiments done with results similar to what we would need. Obviously we’d be unable to interpret the entire rat brain. The whole thing is a bit more primitive than you’d think. We’d show the rat a stimuli, like food. Then hopefully the brain would respond with associated pathways, in our case, the location of the rat nest.”
Lasko lapsed into deep thought, trying to follow. “We can pinpoint the location of the rat’s nest using the rat’s memories? How? It’s not like it’s going to give us a list of coordinates.”
Pira’s voice began to get excited. “Here’s where it becomes quite ingenious. You see, animals use an interesting method of remembering locations, it’s not always based on a visual context, like humans. They have this fascinating method based on scents, magnetic fields, air pressure; all of their senses combined to form a very distinct sense of location. On a drastic scale, this is how pet animals are able to find their way home from foreign locations thousands of miles away.”
“You can understand this type of data?” Leonard asked.
“Nope. But he can.”
Lasko and Leonard followed Pira’s pointing arm to the giant dog laying down next to them.
The giant dog perked his ears up own having his named called, but didn’t take his eyes off of the cage.
“Yes!” Pira said proudly. “This dog likely has the capacity to interpret the homing signals in the rat’s memory.”
Lasko didn’t like where this was headed. “How are we going to get Ford this information?”
Pira held up a microchip with her robotic arm. “We implant this…”
“Nope.” Lasko shook his head. “That’s just messed up.”
“No, it’ll be harmless.” Pira wheedled. “It’ll be just like how pet owners put microchips in for identification.”
“Really? It’s just like that?” Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.
Pira hesitated. “Well… maybe not exactly…”
Of course it isn’t.
“There are a lot of permanent benefits to this, actually. We’d be able to communicate with the dog wirelessly. Isn’t that neat? Plus we’d be able to know what the dog is feeling. It’s your basic responsibility as a pet owner to know your dog’s needs.”
Pira really knew how to make a case.
“What are the risks?” Lasko had to make sure that it was safe.
“There are absolutely no risks. In fact, there won’t even be a surgery. I will direct the nanites to construct a chip inside of Ford’s brain. It’s as non-invasive as you can get.”
Leonard perked up at hearing about the nanites. “That’s amazing!”
Pira nodded in agreement. “It will take some time for the chip to be constructed, but there is no need to keep the dog still, it can still run around like normal. I figure that if we start the process now, it can be finished in a few days.”
Now both Leonard and Pira were looking at Lasko with expectant looks.
“So?” Pira prodded. “What do you say?”
Lasko sighed. It didn’t seem like he could say no.
“As long as it doesn’t cause any harm to Ford,” he said begrudgingly, finally giving his permission.
“Don’t worry,” Pira said reassuringly. “He won’t feel a thing. In fact, he’ll probably get even smarter. It’ll add additional memory storage. We’ll be able to clearly communicate our own thoughts and intentions. He might even be able to learn the English language!”
Yikes. Now that was an incredible thought.
“Pira, why do I get the feeling that you’re looking forward to the opportunity to experiment on Ford…?”
“Do I come across that way?” Pira said dismissively. “I’m just eager to accomplish our goals, that’s all. If I happen to progress the entirety of the human race with my efforts in the process, that’s just an added benefit.”
Right. Lasko looked down at where the giant dog was lying, vigilantly keeping watch over the captive.
“Are you OK with this buddy?” Lasko asked, scratching the dog’s head.
Ford didn’t say anything, the quiet dog simply accepting the scratch willingly, half shutting his eyes, but still watching.
“You don’t understand me now… but it looks like you will soon. I guess I’ll find out then.” Lasko internally resolved himself. He didn’t like the idea of experimenting on Ford, but if it would ultimately benefit Ford, then he was willing to try. Pira hadn’t steered him wrong yet.