IT'S SPYGODSCOUT MAIL TIME!!!
Super-Scout Harold Wilikers of Yakima Falls, Washington asks:
Dear SPYGOD, the other day, when you were describing the attack on ABWEHR, I noticed you referred to suicide penguins as being a major key to victory.
Would you please explain why The COMPANY is enslaving poor animals to use as munitions? Doesn't that go against certain treaties which the USA is currently a signatory too?
First of all, I don't give a flying !@#$ what the United States of America is currently a signatory to, or not. We don't play by those UN rules down here in the pit of the real world. I'll ride unicorns on manatees into battle while swinging spotted owls with explosive pellets shoved up their !@#$ if I think it's going to bring us victory, or at least make America's enemies !@#$ their pants and run.
And Lord knows, I have tried so many times to make that work. Just one simple request! But no one can find any unicorns left anywhere in the world. I suspect they're hiding out of justifiable fear. Or marshaling their forces in secret.
But as to the meat of your question, it is a good one. The answer gets back to the notion of Uplifting, which, I'm sorry to say, some of our big bad science outfits tried their hands at back in the 90's.
Do you remember Uplifting, Harold? I understand it's gone out of style, along with Nehru jackets, parachute suits, and politicians who don't have sex scandals. In fact, I hear most kids these days think it's a genre of self help books.
But there was a time when, if you gave a geneticist a couple billion dollars with no strings attached, and a remit to use those dollars to do something absolutely mind-blowing, they would immediately grab some poor stray kitty from the back alley trashcan, dose it with exotic radiation and genetic material, and try to teach it quantum mechanics.
No, this is not a joke. This !@#$ was real. They tried to bring any numbers of poor creatures up to sapience, with results that ran from pathetic to comic, sometimes both. Various evil geniuses had tried their hands at it, back in the day, but usually stuck to primates, probably because it was easier.
And let me tell you, having to fight your way through an army of irradiated Soviet spider monkeys is no fun. Especially when they throw their nuclear poop at you.
But let's be honest, Uplifted apes are pretty boring. They're just like us, only moreso. Eerily moreso. Right down to the penchant for bad suits and porkpie hats.
Once standard, accepted science (that is, science without the tesla coils, mad cackling, and mommy issues) caught up with what those weird-ass pioneers had been up to, the door was thrown open to any and all attempts. They tried housepets, reptiles, fish, birds, anything with a central nervous system big enough to manipulate with the tools they had back then.
Some poor soul in Albuquerque even tried to uplift swarms of bees. The ominous message !@#$ YOU ONE MAN, spelled out in stings on his corpse, may be all that needs to be said about his attempts, and "Do not raise up what you cannot put down," quickly became the big government money people's motto after that.
(I think there's still a few independently wealthy folks out there trying to make talking sharks, but that's their problem. Every once in a while I listen in to their email list and try not to laugh, especially when they try to teach them who not to eat. There's not a lot of those folks still typing with their original hands.)
So take that innocent, wide-eyed pet away from your screaming kids, stuff it into the strange machine you built in your basement, and what do you get?
Uplifted dogs? Well, they're a little eerie at first. They look at you when you talk to them with this "not quite getting it just yet" look in their eyes, repeat back what you said, and then still don't understand but try it anyway. They're really happy when you're happy, but near-despondent when you're not, even if your mood has nothing to do with what they just did.
But once you get used to having a bipolar servant who's constantly fishing for complements, they have their uses. You will never have a more attentive listener to your stupid, nonsensical bull!@#$ ever. And they'll still bring you the paper without slobbering all over it.
Cats, on the other hand, are borderline useless narcissists. The first phrase they learn is inevitably something like "scratch me, furless being" or "pat my butt." They're shameless about the fact that you don't have enough of their scent on you, and have a literal hissy fit when they smell some other cat's unique perfume on your legs.
And trying to get them to cooperate with each other? Forget it. Dogs will at least try to make nice with one another, once they've got that pecking order thing out of the way, but with cats its constant war.
You see, son, that's the big problem with Uplifting. You can make those animals smarter, and give them the ability to communicate with you, but at the end of the day a talking dog is still just a dog. And that's the reason why Uplifting really went nowhere.
I mean, why did you need to blow half a billion dollars to have a talking bomb sniffing dog when you really only needed it to be able to sniff out cordite and bark at you?
But Penguins? Now that was different. You know how I said that Apes were like us, only moreso?
Penguins were us.
When we uplifted them it was frightening just how much we had in common. Highly social? Check. Reasonably intelligent? Check. Monogamous up to a a point? Check.
But what really made it interesting was the fact that they believed in God.
Yes, son, you just read that. Penguins believe in God.
Not the same God that you might hit your knees and pray to so that no one finds out about what you and the Reverend's daughter got up to last Sunday after the bake sale, except for SPYGOD (who knows all) but a God, nonetheless. And whether it's because of a racial memory concerning what happened in Antarctica, millions of years ago, or just general spiritual yearning, it is genuine and real.
Sadly, it was also sorely tested by exposure to the internet.
Those stupid, well-meaning, dip!@#$ researchers let those penguins loose on the unfiltered world wide web to better understand the wide variety of human belief. They did so without direct supervision, as they didn't want to hinder their development. And while they were out there, those Penguins' beliefs were challenged and changed, and not always for the better.
Case in point: you remember about a decade ago, when some idiots in a cave in Afghanistan tried to blow up a certain landmark pair of buildings in Neo York, along with the Pentagon and the Capitol? Well, those idiots had friends, and those friends have an internet presence that, try as we might, we cannot completely shut down, compromise, or twist around to our own special needs.
And these penguins, searching for a greater definition of God, talked to these idiots for way too long.
Next thing we know, there's a nasty religious schism going on in the government cold climate species Uplift lab. Penguins are killing each other over religious orthodoxy. And by the time those shocked researchers separated the belligerents out from the ones who were just trying to have a civilized conversation, most of the living are Penguins who think the best way they can repay their Uplifters for the gift of sapience is to die as martyrs for their holy cause.
So you see the dilemma that left them in? If they told the penguins they were wrong, they'd be interfering with their development. But if they let them continue, they've got suicidal penguins in search of a war.
What do they do? Well, after bouncing the problem around from department to department, they wind up shipping these suicidal sapient penguins over to the Weird War Division, for various armed forces, spookshows, and intelligence companies to make use of.
And since I happened to be going to war in Antarctica, I got the lot of them.
Sadly, they did not all get used up in the initial push. We've been using them as forward spotters as we excavate the Ice Palace, hoping they'd deal with werewolves. But sooner or later we're going to have covered every last inch of the base, and if we don't find any more enemies for them to explode themselves all over, we're going to have a real problem.
Some of them are already trying to leave to indoctrinate their lesser brothers and sisters, out there on the ice. That is not going to end well at all.
So, God help us, we've engineered a plan. This most certainly not our finest hour. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and this definitely counts.
You know the "special" movies you watch in university-level zoology classes, late at night, for a laugh? Well, using a great deal of scientific know-how, we have added hypnotic suggestion to those old, grainy nature films, and have, in fact, made mind-bending stag movies for penguins.
The theory is that if we can get them mindsmashed on pornography, Discovery Channel-style, we can possibly erase the negative social programing. Then we can show them there's other things to live for besides blowing themselves up for the US of A. Like being trained to retrieve nuclear missiles in super-freezing deep water, or infiltrating terrorist websites and feeding them false, but credible information.
Like I said, not our finest hour, but this is what happens when science runs wild and people like SPYGOD have to clean it up. Hypnogogic animal sex films, for America.
(SPYGOD is listening to Weird Science (Oingo Boingo) and having an entire crate of Castle Lager flown in from Jo'Burg, just for him)