The NIMH Network

By Steve Vanden-Eykel


Author's Note

Nimh was a great movie, but it did leave several unanswered questions, the biggest of which was the Stone. I mean, let's face it, the Stone sticks out of that plot like a sore thumb. After seeing the movie, I started to think about these questions, and after a while, a story started to take shape. I began to see Nimh as the middle act in a three part story.

This is a summary, or treatment, of the basic plot I eventually came up with.

Part 1

As it happens, Nicodemus's rats were not the first group of rats to be experimented on at Nimh, but in fact the second. The first group were given the same injections, but in one of those ironic twists of fate, the simpler cages they were kept in made it harder for them to escape. They were kept not in their own separate cages, but all in the same pen, so while Nicodemus's rats received the injections, became intellegent, and figured out how to escape, the first group received the injections, became intelligent, and couldn't reach the latch to their cage so they kept on receiving more injections, and more, and more until...

It changed them. They gained not just intelligence, but also abilities that could only be called magical. It was now a simple matter to both escape, and make it look like an accident. They sprung the latch, left through an open window, and when Dr. Shultz arrived in the morning, he assumed that the cage had been left open by a careless lab technician and began plans to repeat the experiment, this time with separate cages in an underground lab.

These rats found themselves a quiet valley, not unlike Thorn Valley, and started a little colony. They found that their powers were enormous, and difficult to control, so to help focus and harness these powers, they forged the Stones, and each rat's power was held within his stone. Each Stone was a different color, and each had a single line from a poem engraved on the back, lines such as:

If the pathway is uncertain, you must cut yourself a staff

With a pitchfork, toss the wheat and let the wind remove the chaff

If you only have a ship, you can cross the widest sea

You can unlock any door if you only have the key

And so on, twenty lines in all.

Now, according to the rat's system, the one whose powers were strongest was the official "leader" or head of the council. That rat, Edgar, didn't really take his responsibilities very seriously. Basically, he was just a kid. In human terms, he would spend all his time reading car magazines, and chasing girls.

He does have a friend, who is also something of a mentor, an older and wiser figure, who tries to get him to take life more seriously, but with little effect. His name is Walter.

And so, the council is really under the control of the villain, Cronus who is just fine with that. Cronus wants revenge on humanity. He wants the rats to use their powers to wipe mankind off the face of the earth, and begins trying to persuade the council to back this plan up. Edgar is shocked by the idea. For the first time, he finds something important to care about, and starts to take his responsibilities seriously. He begins actively opposing Cronus in council meetings, but of course, with his youth and lack of experience, it's tough to get taken seriously by the older rats. His opposition nevertheless does not sit well with Cronus. And so, he follows Edgar while he is out somewhere doing whatever it is that heroes do in their spare time, takes the shape of a bird of some kind, steals his amulet, and flies off with it, dropping it in some out-of-the-way area. By so doing, he not only deprives Edgar of all his power, but, since each stone could be said to be linked to its owner's "soul", Cronus condemns Edgar to a slow and lingering death. The best part is that he can get away with it. Losing his Stone is exactly the sort of irresponsible thing that Our Hero would do, at least in the mind of the council. Losing his Stone to a bird is a pretty stupid thing to do. And so, Cronus is now effectively unopposed in the council.

In the meantime, Nicodemus's rats have escaped from Nimh, and set up their colony on the Fitzgibbon's farm. Jenner is the Captain of the Guard, and he has a young apprentice named Justin. Justin is the youngest of the rats, and he lost his family when he was captured by Nimh, and so Jenner has become something of a surrogate father, and Justin idolizes him. It is from Jenner that Justin learns all about swordplay, and other tools of the swashbuckling trade. Jenner is also Nicodemus's closest confidant.

Jonathan Brisby, as we all know, meets a young and lovely mouse by the name of Sarah, (Yup, that's my vote for Mrs. Brisby's first name.) and marries her. One day, he is out walking by a stream, perhaps after the birth of one of his children, when he stumbles upon the Stone lying on the bank. He picks it up. He thinks that it might make a wonderful gift for his lovely wife, but at the same time, he feels something...strange...about the stone. He takes it to Nicodemus, who also senses it. Nicodemus asks if he might examine the Stone for a while, and Jonathan agrees.

From a short distance away, Cronus watches, keeping track of the Stone, and he realizes who the Rats of Nimh are, and their relationship to the first group. Out of pure malice, he plants a seed of dissent in the heroic Jenner, just for the fun of causing trouble.

It is at about this time that Nicodemus conceives of the Plan for the first time. Jenner however, disagrees with Nicodemus' ideas, and opposes him, at first in a friendly fashion.

This puts Justin in an awkward position. He thinks Nicodemus is right, but he doesn't want to go against his teacher, friend, and the closest thing to a father he has. In other words, he is put in the position of having to choose between his hero and his leader. At some point, he has to make a break with Jenner, mostly out of disillusionment at Jenner's increasingly hostile behaviour. With regret, he switches loyalties to Nicodemus, and Nicodemus begins grooming Justin to eventually replace him as leader, instead of Jenner. Eventually, Jenner is even replaced by Justin as Captain of the Guard. Jenner's sense of betrayal, and hurt, and his anger, all push him over the line from mere rival to true villain. He begins to spend all his new free time in political manoevering.

Now, a new development takes place...Nicodemus has had possession of the Stone for several months now. The second group of rats received exactly the same injections as the first, just not for as long a time. However, even the few injections Nicodemus and the others received did grant them a potential for the same sort of magical abilities as the first group, which is why first Jonathan and then Nicodemus could sense the power of the Stone. Over the course of months, Nicodemus's exposure to the Stone draws out that potential, and grants limited magical abilities on him, even though he remains unable to tap the power stored in the stone itself. This fact is not lost on Jenner, who begins to covet the amulet. In turn, Jenner's lust for the Stone is not lost on Nicodemus either.

In light of the effect the Stone would have on any rat who received the injections at Nimh, Jonathan had agreed that Nicodemus should keep the Stone as sort of a permanent loan, but now, Nicodemus, Jonathan, and Justin get together to discuss how the Stone may be kept out of Jenner's hands. Jonathan asks if the Stone would have the same effect on his wife that it had on Nicodemus, but Nicodemus answers that since Sarah Brisby never received the injections, it would have no effect. Jonathan then suggests that he do what he originally planned, and give the Stone to his wife. Jenner would never think to look there for it.

As the others all agree to this plan, Jenner, listening around the corner, hears all.

Nicodemus gives Jonathan the amulet, but before he can go home to give it to his wife, there is some task to be done that will require the drugging of Dragon, so he and Justin go to the Fitzgibbon's kitchen to do the deed. Jonathan goes up through the hole, runs out, dumps the drug, but then on the way back, the amulet around his neck catches on a nail in the floor. Inches away from Justin and safety, Jonathan is caught and killed before Justin's horrified eyes.

Justin, running back to the rosebush with the news,encounters Jenner. Jenner is stunned to hear the news that Jonathan is dead, but he is also eager to hear what happened to the amulet, so he follows Justin, and again listens around the corner as Justin tells Nicodemus the news. "What of the Stone?" Nicodemus asks.

Jenner's face falls as he hears Justin tell Nicodemus that the Stone was lost in the confusion. Probably inside Dragon, or dropped in a shoebox by one of the Fitzgibbons. Angry and frustrated, Jenner stalks away down the corridor. There is a slight pause. Nicodemus peers around the corner, and watches Jenner go. Then he turns back to Justin. "You have it?" he asks. Justin nods, and places the Stone in Nicodemus's outstretched hand. The Stone is now well hidden from Jenner, but at what a terrible price!

Justin leaves Nicodemus alone in his study, to write the day's events in his book before shutting the amulet away in a box.

Meanwhile, at the Brisby home, Sarah Brisby puts her children to bed, and sits to wait for Jonathan to come home. As the night drags on, she wraps her shawl around herself, and goes to sit on the doorstep. As dawn comes, she's still waiting...

Part 2

Part Two of this story would be the actual movie "The Secret of NIMH."

Part 3

Far away, Edgar awakes screaming and ranting deliriously. Walter tries to quiet him, but he continues moaning incoherently about "the stone, the stone," before finally falling back into restless slumber.

The following morning, he explains. Somehow, the power of his amulet has been released, and he was able to sense that. Walter is shocked, since the amulets are not supposed to be useable by anyone but their owners, but nevertheless, it has happened. Most importantly, through his link with his Stone, he can tell the direction and distance to the place where that power was released, and he intends to go after it. He asks for Walter's help on what will be a difficult journey for him to make in his condition, which is not good. In fact, Edgar is fading fast. They begin the journey, which is long and arduous, and a few months later, they arrive at the Fitzgibbon farm.

At about the same time that they arrive, Mrs Brisby and her children also return to the farm to prepare for the winter. But, they receive a nasty shock. The Fitzgibbons have abandoned the farm, and what's more, seem to have left it fairly soon after the Brisbys left last spring. And so, there is no harvest, and the Brisbys are in a bad situation. They depend on the fall harvest to store enough food for the winter. Without that resource, they face starvation. And so, Mrs Brisby decides that their only option is to pay a visit to the Rats of Nimh in Thorn Valley and ask if they can winter with them. She talks to Jeremy, his wife, and his two kids (who are both mature and capable, totally opposite in character to their parents). Jeremy and his family are willing to carry them to the Valley.

While reconnoitering the farm, Edgar and Walter eventually come to the site where Mrs Brisby used the amulet to move her house, and while observing the area, they soon see Mrs Brisby herself, as she and her children move back into their house. The instant he lays eyes on her, he recognizes that she is the one who used the Stone. As she and her children prepare to leave, he makes contact with them and tells them his story. Mrs Brisby is reluctant, but eventually she agrees to allow them to accompany them to Thorn Valley where he can ask Justin to return the amulet.

Upon arriving in Thorn Valley, however, they receive another nasty shock. Rainfall has been scarce that year, and the crop has failed. They don't have a lot of food, unless they eat the seed for next year's crop, and the situation for the colony isn't good. Justin greets them, and tells them that of course they are welcome to stay with them and share what food they have, but there isn't much.

Justin looks in bad shape. He has the rats' loyalty of course, and obviously it's not his fault that the rains didn't come, but still, he can't help but take it hard, and blame himself.

In addition, although his possession of the Stone has indeed brought out magical potential, as it did for Nicodemus, it turns out that the power that the Stone is capable of bringing out is actually extremely minor. So minor, in fact, that Nicodemus must have had an enormously high degree of magical talent, to do as much as he did with so little. Justin cannot do nearly so much as Nicodemus did. He can barely even make his eyes glow! Pyrotechnic viewing spheres are totally out of the question. And so, the prize that Jenner sought all those years turns out to be a booby prize as far as usefulness is concerned. Justin just doesn't have the abilities Nicodemus did.

And so, when Edgar makes his plea, Justin is perfectly happy to let him have the Stone (he can see, after all, that the story is true, as evidenced by Walter's stone, and powers). But, just as Justin is about to hand the Stone over to Edgar, Cronus makes his entrance. You didn't think he didn't keep tabs on the Stone all these years, did you? He knew about the rats finding it, he knew about Edgar's journey, and he followed them to make sure that the Stone was not recovered.

As Edgar reaches to take the Stone from Justin's hand, a blast of energy knocks them away. Justin tries to fight Cronus magically, trying desparately to access the power of the Stone, but without effect. Without that, his battle is basically a lost cause...his own power is practically non-existant.

He tries to reach Edgar with the Stone, but is constantly intercepted by Cronus. Justin flees into the nearby woods, and a cat-and-mouse game ensues, Justin using his superiour knowledge of the area to wage a hit-and-run battle. Eventually, Cronus succeeds in driving him back out into the open (perhaps he threatens to kill the others if Justin doesn's show himself) but just as he is about to take the Stone, it is intercepted by Jeremy!

A wild chase for possession of the Stone ensues, with the Stone being passed from character to character, like a game of Keep-away, with everyone trying to get it either to Edgar, or to Mrs Brisby, the only other person who can access the power, and therefore the only other person with a chance against Cronus. Time is running out for Edgar, though.

Justin gains the Stone again, and sees a chance to get it to Mrs Brisby. She catches it, and the power immediately springs forth, but before she can do anything with it, Cronus attacks, knocking her unconscious. The Stone immediately goes dark again. He stands over her, and prepares to take the Stone, but Justin, with an effort, levitates it back to him.

Angered, Cronus moves to kill Mrs Brisby. He raises his hand, with his own Stone, and an evil green glow begins to gather around his fist. But, as he strikes, Justin leaps to block the blast, knowing that it would kill him, instead of Mrs Brisby, and at that moment, the Stone comes alive for Justin and its power fills him as it did Mrs Brisby before. Now, he and Cronus face each other as near equals; Justin's Stone has more power, but Cronus is better at using it.

The pyrotechnics are extraordinary, red and green lashing at each other, but the battle ends when Justin tackles him physically, wrestles him to the ground, takes the Stone in his fist, concentrates all its power together, and drives it right through Cronus' body. He shrieks as the power of the Stone fills him, and his body seems to become like mist that gets sucked into his own green Stone. then, with a roar, the green Stone explodes. Justin's power fades, but he's made of sterner stuff than Mrs Brisby...he manages to stay on his feet.

Unfortunately, they soon realize they are too late...Edgar has quietly passed away during all the excitement. They all gather around him, with their heads down. There is a moment of silence.

Then Timothy, of all people, speaks. He looks confused. He asks why Edgar died, and is told that it is because he was separated from the Stone, and the Stone contained his soul. "But," Timothy continues, "when someone dies, their soul goes away completely, but his is still right there in the Stone. Shouldn't we be able to put it back whether he's alive or dead?"

Slowly, eyes widen and jaws drop as they realize what he is saying. He's right! Walter places the Stone around Edgar's neck, and waits. Nothing happens. Apparently it needs a little help. Mrs Brisby puts here hand on the Stone and releases the power. Walter guides it back into Edgar's body. As the glow fades, he stirs, and his eyes open.. He turns to Mrs Brisby, and says, "Thank you, my child". She is stunned. The voice is familiar... "Nicodemus?"

When Nicodemus had been killed, his own soul was sucked into the Stone, where it was able to communicate in some way with the soul of Edgar. They each had their own strengths and weaknesses, and realised that together they could produce a stronger whole, with Edgar's raw power and youth combining with Nicodemus's wisdom and enormous magical talent; the two together are a force to be reckoned with. They merged, and together, they were placed into Edgar's body, and while they are still partially separate, over time, they will merge fully into a single individual.

Nicodemus/Edgar gives Justin some words of encouragement, and thanks the rats of Nimh, and the Brisby family for their help, and take their leave.


Before the Council, Edgar takes his place again as the undisputed head, radiating a new authority and confidence, courtesy of the Nicodemus part of him, and officially lays to rest any plan for war on humanity.

But, he continues, there is one final order of business: He tells of the Rats of Thorn Valley, and what they did for him, and asks for the council's help in providing a suitable reward. They agree that some sort of repayment is in order. "Raise the Network" he says.

All twenty Stones are raised, each comes to life, twenty different colors weaving together in a rainbow filigree, before launching skyward in a lance of pure white fire...

In Thorn Valley, heads turn upwards as a rumble shakes the ground. Clouds gather, and to the surprise of all, rain begins to fall. Light seems to come from the ground itself, and a blanket of green spreads over the surface as crops that have failed to grow suddenly revive, and in a matter of moments, reach their full height. Justin, Mrs Brisby, and all the other rats, look up into the heavens, with the rain down their faces, and with new hope for the future, prepare for a huge harvest.