Mung’s was a bold proposition, never before countenanced by the Simian Nation (which was no "nation" at all, up to this point, its troupes widely scattered and solely bound by means of a laissez-faire telepathy). Her rallying cry rang out, its reverberations traveling like songs of the humpback whale, in a common language (Man the only creature beset by disparate tongues), perking the ears of every last Least of the Lesser Apes on Earth (the renegades’ included), luring to China’s Wuyi Mountains the bravest, the brightest, and the most inquisitive (an aggregation of minds that took years to assemble), its vanguard formed, ironically, by those most arch in their carnivorous opposition.

‘Uprights rule. You have seen this,’ Mung asserted in her speechless speech to the first Grand Gathering. ‘And they do so with an appetite unrivaled by any other beast. I, who recently dwelt among them, have witnessed this, and fear an untoward gluttony already runs rampant. I predict its ultimate impact will be catastrophic on the world-at-large. For many of you, these thoughts come not as revelations. For some of you, intercession may have crossed your collective wits. But ours, from epochs immemorial, has been a passive apprehensiveness—avoidance its principle policy—the practice of non-interference our primary ploy. Would that we could persevere—and thereby prevail—in our tactical withdrawal cum retreat, but…’

…and here Mung paused, as some late arrivals—none other than the infamous firebugs—caused a commotion…

‘…without action now, ours, and numberless others, will be a species soon extinct. Sad, indeed, are gravesides devoid of mourners. Tragic is the predator that prevents all prey from reproducing.’

Another ripple registered through Mung’s unprecedented audience, moved by concord, every tree branch, for a hectare or more, lined with rapt individuals, representatives come from far and near (while those not physically present tuned in, with sixth-sense susceptibility, to each of the aged orator’s carefully chosen words).

‘Science, on the material plane, is where this threat must be counteracted. Physics, not metaphysics, henceforth must be our thrust. Primitive—the course of Inclusiveness—must chart a parallel path, a detour, as it were, to the end of discovery, a crucial deviation to be abandoned once reaching our goal.’

To suggest that Simian intelligence be lent to any concerted MANipulation, Mung realized, was to flirt with apostasy. It violated the staunchest premises of Lesser Ape ethics. It fought fire with fire—a dubious strategy, fraught as it was with the danger of becoming that which one abhorred, fraught with the temptation to abuse technologies developed along the way. It must be understood that whatever was MANufactured would be, upon conclusion, hastily disMANtled, and that nothing whatsoever should spill beyond the confines of…

‘…this isolated cave, wherein experiments will be conducted until a remedy, an Antidote, is found. For this, a corps of alchemists and likely apprentices needs be recruited, self-sacrificing souls who will do their work in the most solemn secrecy—not from us who sanction their activities, but rather from them on whom results, at length, will be unleashed. ARE THERE ANY VOLUNTEERS?’

Mung broadcast her appeal from where she perched among the treetops, her old eyes scanning the canopy’s agitated throng, finally coming to rest on the clique of bad-boy miscreants (would-be pioneers to this unfamiliar realm), her master plan showing promise when he who led this band raised his paw in a gung-ho fist.


Floods and droughts...