Just suppose, late one moonless night, a masked man breaks into a top secret government research station. He uses all kinds of high-tech gadgets to disarm the security systems. He sneaks along corridors in the dark, his night-vision goggles glowing faintly.
He taps out a code on a keypad set into the wall. With a glance over his shoulder, to make sure he's still alone, he sneaks into a restricted area, a laboratory containing all kinds of germs and poisons in cold storage.
He approaches a brightly lit, glass-fronted freezer. Inside, he can see a canister of deadly nerve gas. This is his target. He's being a paid an enormous amount of money by a criminal organisation, to get hold of this canister.
As he reaches out a hand towards the freezer, he swats away an insect. Then, suddenly, without warning, the insect delivers a lightning-fast sting to the back of his neck.
He yelps! For a moment, he stands absolutely still. Then he topples face-first onto the floor, completely immobilised.
Just suppose that the insect which stung him wasn't an insect at all. What if it was a miniature robot, that just looked like an insect? What if it had been guarding the laboratory all along? What if, once the thief was dealt with, it communicated back to its base that the threat was ended?
The SWARM books are all about exactly that: a team of microrobotic spies. They're part of a highly classified organisation, working for the British Secret Service from an underground HQ located beneath the streets of central London.
The SWARM robots have been developed by a team of scientific experts, and the group is led by a brilliant, no-nonsense woman they all call simply Queen Bee. Think Helen Mirren in full-on Prime Suspect mode!
There are seven robots in all, each one disguised as a different insect, and each one with specific capabilities and special skills. Together, they form an unbeatable undercover unit, charged with tackling the jobs that human agents can't do, and investigating the cases that leave human agents baffled.
CHOPPER is a dragonfly. He's a kind of unofficial co-ordinator, who keeps the team on track and on target when they're out in the field.
HERCULES is a stag beetle, a super-tough miniature tank who can cut through almost anything with his powerful claw. He's very much the joker of the pack.
SABRE is a mosquito, capable of delivering a wide range of stings to human beings. He's always first to race into any situation.
SIRENA is a butterfly. She's equipped with ultra-powerful sensors which can read every molecule of a human from the hairs on his head to the toenails in his boots!
NERO is a scorpion. He also has claws for cutting, and a sting for disarming enemies, but his advanced CPU can process data with frightening speed. He's perfectly happy with the idea that he and his friends can out-class human agents with ease.
MORPH is a centipede. He's made of highly flexible material which allows him to squeeze through the tiniest of gaps. He's also a bit of a worrier.
WIDOW is a spider. She's what you might call silent but deadly. She says little, but packs a powerful punch. She can spin webs which have the strength of toughened steel.
The robots' very first adventure is called Operation Sting. It's a race against time to foil a terrorist group who are planning to use a very unusual new weapon. SWARM's second mission is Project Venom, out in July. This time, the team find themselves tracking a dangerous enemy all over the world.
The third in the series, Codename Firestorm, is still being worked on! What happens to these ultra-secret agents after that is.... ah, but no. That's classified. If I told you. I'd have to kill you.
Simon Cheshire / www.simoncheshire.co.uk