Even if it makes the difference between living and dying, there’s just no way I’ll let anyone stick a transfusion needle into my arm. Never. Not with the blood supply in the state it’s in.

And anyway, I’ve got antibodies. So you just stay the hell away from me, ALAS. I won’t be your patsy. I won’t be your vector.

I know your weaknesses, you see. You’re a fragile, if subtle devil. Unlike TARP, you can’t bear exposure to air or heat or cold or acid or alkali. Blood-to-blood, that’s your only route. And what need had you of any other? You thought you’d evolved the perfect technique, didn’t you?

What was it Leslie Adgeson called you? “The perfect master? The paragon of viruses?”

I remember long ago when HIV, the AIDS virus, had everyone so impressed with its subtlety and effectiveness of design. But compared with you, HIV is just a crude butcher, isn’t it? A maniac with a chainsaw, a blunderer that kills its hosts and relies for transmission on habits humans can, with some effort, get under control. Oh, old HIV had its tricks, but compared with you? An amateur!

Rhinoviruses and flu are clever, too. They’re profligate, and they mutate rapidly. Long ago they learned how to make their hosts drip and wheeze and sneeze, so victims spread the misery in all directions. Flu viruses are also a lot smarter than AIDS ‘cause they don’t generally kill their hosts, just make ‘em miserable while they hack and spray and inflict fresh infections on their neighbors.

Oh, Les Adgeson was always accusing me of anthropomorphizing our subjects. Whenever he came into my part of the lab, and found me cursing some damned intransigent leucophage in rich, Tex-Mex invective, he’d react predictably. I can just picture him now, raising one eyebrow, commenting dryly in his Winchester accent.

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