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So, this is essentially a Rats of NIMH AU (Alternate Universe); as in canon, a group of rats are captured by scientists working for a laboratory located at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and the subsequent experiments performed on the rats increase their intelligence to the point of being able to read, write, and operate complicated machines, as well as enhancing their longevity and strength. This increased intelligence and strength allows them to escape from the NIMH laboratories and migrate to their present location. The rats have a literate and mechanized society; they have technology such as elevators, have tapped the electricity grid to provide lighting and heating, and have acquired other human skills, such as storing food for the winter. As such, these rats adopt "The Plan," which is to abandon their lifestyle of dependence on humans, which some rats regard as theft, for a new, independent farming colony. One rat, Jenner, disagrees vehemently with The Plan and leaves the colony with a group of followers.

However, unlike in canon, the experiments which increase the rats' (and mouses') intelligence in this AU are conducted by administering a viral-based drug, derived from Hantavirus. This intelligence-enhancing viral pathogen doesn't make the rats and mice sick (any more than regular Hantavirus does), and simply boosts the intelligence and strength of any infected rodents to the canonical level. However, this pathogen also causes Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) for any infected humans, and unlike pre-existing Hantavirus species, the NIMH Rat Virus can also be transmitted through droplet and/or fomite transfer, instead of being limited to transmission via aerosolized rodent excreta, infected blood and body fluids (enabling it to spread in the same manner as Plague and Influenza, rather than in the same manner as Ebola). The NIMH Rat Virus has a comparable fatality rate to Sin Nombre virus, with a fatality rate of around 35%; and just like Sin Nombre Virus, there's no cure.

So, how would you see things playing out next in this AU, in the aftermath of the Rats' break-out from the NIMH laboratory facility, and the establishment of their colony? The NIMH Rat Virus has a far lower fatility rate than the Simian Flu did in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (35%, as opposed to 99%), so far fewer people will die in the ensuing epidemics; but unlike the Apes, who are vastly outnumbered by humans, the total world population of rats and mice already exceeds that of humanity by a huge margin, by at least 4:1 even before the imminent Rat Virus pandemic takes its toll. And as the pandemic spreads outwards, in the aftermath of Nicodemus' and Jonathan Frisby's orchestrated outbreak from the NIMH lab, all of the other mice and rats in the world will eventually have their intelligence boosted to human levels (with Mrs. Frisby as one of the first among them to be uplifted, obviously enough).

Does humanity stand a better chance against the Rodents in this Rats of NIMH AU, or against the Apes in the rebooted Planet of the Apes series? Could humanity possibly win the coming fight of dominance? Could we co-exist in peace, and relative independence (as Nicodemus advocates doing)? Or would the Rodents rise up in their droves and out-compete us, driving us either into slavery or to our extinction (as Jenner and his faction advocate doing)?

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    $\begingroup$ They're laboratory mice / Their genes have been spliced / They're dinky / They're Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain / Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain / Brain / Before each night is done / Their plan will be unfurled / By the dawning of the sun / They'll take over the world / They're Pinky and The Brain / Yes Pinky and The Brain / Their twilight campaign / Is easy to explain / To prove their mousey worth / They'll overthrow the Earth / They're dinky / They're Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain / Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain / Narf! $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Aug 5 '18 at 1:47
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We've been trying to wipe out rats for 10000+ years. we have failed. we are not going to succeed now just because the rats are sentient (unless we decide nuking ourselves into oblivion is worth it to take them out). that being said, rodents do not have opposable thumbs meaning that they can't manipulate technology as humans do. We have stalemate! humans probably step up their anti-rat measures for a while with more rat-traps, rat-poison and probably government subsidized exterminators but it's not going to be enough i'm afraid especially since rats are now sapient.

One of three things will now happen, the rats could find a way to manipulate technology probably by hacking an automated robot workforce (though even in this scenario humans stand a fighting chance), humans create a new super-virus to kill rat kind (almost all rats die, humans debate the morality of the action for the few hundred years it takes rats to build back up) or peace is achieved and everyone lives in harmony, this seems the most likely option because of the many mutual benefits the two species can provide each other humans being able to give rats the kick-start needed for their civilisation and rats being able to increase earth pool of potential brain power several fold.

This answer also ignores rat life expectancy as that makes it very boring (basically no difference from day to day life.)

also is this a world-building question?

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 to lack of opposable thumbs and three year lifespan. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Aug 5 '18 at 1:52
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    $\begingroup$ Rats have prehensile tails, which could be used instead of thumbs. Also, sapience tends to evolve in tandem with increased lifespan; so if we assume that these are descendants of rats, with adaptations for sentience, then they might live longer. $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Aug 5 '18 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ Remember the details of the scenario- "as well as enhancing their longevity and strength". Canonically, the rats were also given injections with the intention of more than doubling their lifespans, to 7 years or more; these weren't just successful, but stopped their aging process almost completely, rendering the rats biologically immortal. Which, of course, WOULD definitely make this an apocalypse scenario, and give humanity (and the world) little to no hope. But even with the intended effects, giving them lifespans of 7-9 years, how much would this diminish humanity's chances? $\endgroup$ – Aquar1animal Aug 5 '18 at 20:49

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