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An armor clad alaerin swiftly and nearly silently worked her way amidst the trees.  They were rather large and tall in the area, such that even one of the human's mechanical walkers could hide behind one.  She was on high alert, her eyes scanning all about her, looking for even the slightest hint of movement.  Whether one of the small human scouts was lurking in-between, or one of their more powerful vehicles, she felt she was ready for it.

Her back to a tree, she peeked out to her right, gun at the ready, she then ducked quickly back.  Peeking out the left for a moment, she ducked back.  She sprinted to another tree, placing her back against it, and surveyed the area ahead of her, then retreated for a moment before diving into a roll, and standing up behind another tree.  After another scan, she ran a bit and did a jump with a mid-air somersault, landing behind another.  Another quick scan and she jumped with a mid-air half-twist.  She looked down the forest again, she ran, did a cartwheel followed by a series of back-flips, and landed behind another tree.  She peeked out behind the next tree, and tiptoed behind another.  She appeared again riding a well placed bicycle quietly to the next.

Peering out from this one, Manusha could begin to make out her teams' target.  It was some distance from the edge of the forest, well out in the clearing.  A human base, seemingly well defended for one so small, but which she nevertheless felt her squad could take.  She was still hidden far back in the trees.

"I've got visual," she relayed back to her two teammates with a smile behind her faceplate, and began to turn back.  "Be move silently though, don't startle any of the wildlife when you ..."

Her expression soured as she saw her sniper, Kakaira, and psion, Yuuri, walking almost whimsically through the woods.  Kakaira had her weapon slung around her shoulder, her head gently bobbing as she looked this way and that.  Yuuri looked to be looking up toward the tree branches, her hands resting on top of her head.  She thought she could almost hear her humming.

Gritting her teeth she said back.  "What are you two doing?  I told you to move silently.  There could be enemies hiding here."

The two slowed to a stop as they neared her.  "Oh, no worries," Yuuri replied.  "I can't sense any humans in the immediate area, so we're good."  She gave her captain a thumbs up.

"That's not the point.  Fighting humans is dangerous.  You never know what they might throw at us.  There may be no humans, but who knows what sort of machine they'll have waiting in store," Manusha answered.  She turned to the other.  "Right, Kakaira?"

Kakaira's head made a few large bobs, then resumed its gentle bouncing.

The psion shrugged.  "I guess you're right, but still, I think I'd be able to sense something."

Sighing, the captain responded.  "It doesn't matter.  There are still other things, like wildlife, that could signal our position.  This is a surprise attack.  If we lose it, our job's going to get a lot tougher, eh, Kakaira?"

The sniper was looking off to the right, though her head gave a few distinctive nods.

"Does it really matter though?  Our reports indicate there should only be maybe five to ten guards here, since most of the troops were led out to combat.  You said it would be a piece of cake right?" Yuuri asked.

"True … true," she said.  "But fighting encamped humans is different than taking them on without cover.  Some of those artillery units bother me, and we still aren't sure if the information is totally accurate.  There may be many more.  We have to be cautious, and if possible, we should hit those turrets from a distance.  Think you can handle it, Kakaira?"

Kakaira was looking up a bit as she moved her head around, but seemed to give several confirmative nods.

Before Manusha began to speak, she noticed Kakaira's hand was tapping against her thigh.  "Kakaira …?"

The sniper continued to look about, head gently bobbing.

"Hey, Kakaira," she pressed.  When she made no indication of acknowledgement, she spoke forcefully into her intercom.  "Hey, Kakaira!"

As the sniper's head moved in her direction she seemed to notice she her gaze, and her head stopped its motion.  She reached up to her helmet to push a few buttons.  "Sorry, I had my music on.  Were you saying something?"

Manusha put her hand against her faceplate, sighing through gritted teeth.  "Yes, actually, about the mission."

"Oh, right, right, we are on one of those aren't we?" she asked.

"Yup!" Yuuri added excitedly.

"Quite …" Manusha began, rather frustrated.  "Anyway, what do you think about the artillery?  Can you take them out from here?"

"What artillery?" she asked.

The captain pointed behind her.  "Those."

Kakaira squatted down, looking in the direction offered.  "Whoa, a base.  I didn't know we'd be taking one of these out."

Manusha cocked her head.  "Didn't you get the brief?"

"Oh yeah, I got it."

Glancing off for a moment, she pressed.  "And … did you read it?"

Kakaira paused.  "You're supposed to read those?"

"Grr," the captain muttered, clenching her fist, then composed herself.  "… Yes."

"… Oooh!  That makes sense."

"Doesn't it though?" Yuuri asked cheerfully.  "It is a pretty nifty system, I must say."

"I guess," Kakaira noted.

Manusha was getting rather aggravated.  "Yes … so it is .… Even so, I though the commander went over all of this at the strategy meeting.  You at least went to that, right?"

The alaerin nodded.  "Yeah, sure, of course I did.  Why wouldn't I?"

"Good, good, then you should remember how important this mission is to the campaign on this planet."

"Umm … I guess?  I'm not really sure, was that mentioned at the meeting?  I had my music on."

"Tsssss!" Manusha hissed, looking down, her fists clenched.  "Just how did I get stuck with you two?" she said under her breath.

"Hee, hee, just lucky, I guess!" piped Yuuri.

The captain took several deep breaths.  "Alright, well then, we need to capture that base," she pointed back.  "We have to do it quickly and efficiently, but we can't blow our cover, otherwise we may have to fall back.  They could only spare three of us for a whole base, but I think we can do it if we work together," she gulped, "… probably."

"Right-o, ma'am, you can count on us!" Yuuri answered in earnest, giving a salute.

Kakaira nodded.  "Yeah, my shooting skills are top notch!"  She gave the riffle on her shoulder a tug, and the barrel bumped a branch.  A few feathered creatures flew up into the air with the motion.

"Gah!" Munasha cried.  "Be careful!  If you make to much noise you could scare the wildlife and give us away!"

"Ah, right, sorry."





At the base, one of the human soldiers was looking out in one of the towers.  He spotted the bird-creatures that fluttered up from the forest, and scratched his chin.  "Hey Frank, you think there might be enemies in the forest?" he asked the man next to him.

"Not sure, Greg, let me ask the captain."  He then looked to the man next to him.  "Hey captain, Frank's wondering if there might be any enemies in the forest."

"Hmm, maybe, look for anything suspicious," he replied.

"Yes, sir.  Hey Frank, the captain says 'maybe,' and to 'look for anything suspicious.'"

"Alright, will do."





"So what's the plan, captain?" Yuuri asked.

"First, Kakaira, get into a position where you can get a good shot at most of the defensive guns, so you can take them out as quickly as quickly as you can.  Yuuri and I will get into a closer position, to begin a forward attack.  Then shoot down the guns.  Yuuri and I will then make our way toward the base while you cover us."

"Got it!" Yuuri said.

"Captain, I have a question,"  Kakaira noted.

"Yes, Kakaira,"

"Should I take out the guns, or shoot them down?"

"You …" Manusha began.  "Huh?"

"I think shooting them down seems easier.  They do look heavy."

Rubbing her helmet, Manusha was again loosing her patience.  "Fine, then do that."

"Gotcha, and captain?"

"What?" she said flatly.

"I didn't know I'd need to bring a blanket, so I don't know if I can cover you."

Manusha conked her on the head.  "Enough!  Geez, you … tsss, well, anyway, you understand, right Yuuri?"

"Definitely," she answered.  She then moved forward, and wrapped her arms around the captain.

"Yuuri … what are you doing?"

The shorter psion looked up to the taller woman.  "You said to get into a closer position, didn't you?"

She conked Yuuri on the head this time.  "Idiot, that's not what I mean."

"Oof, well, sorry captain.  I can only do so much with all this armor on."

"Huh, well if you two are going to do 'that' maybe I really should have brought a blanket … maybe a bedroll, too," added Kakaira.

"GAAH! WILL YOU TWO KNOCK IT OFF!" the captain yelled, and slammed her fist into a nearby tree.  At that, thousands of the bird-like creatures swarmed up and around them before ascending into the sky.  The three shooed tons that got too close to them away.





As the creatures took to the sky, Greg observed them from the base.  "Huh, say Frank, was that tree rattling and all those bird-things suspicious?"

"Not sure, Greg, let me ask the captain.  Hey captain, was that tree and all those birds suspicious?"

"Hmm, maybe, does seem like it."

"Right.  Say Greg, the captain says they might be."

"I sort of thought so," he said.  Examining further, he asked.  "Hey Frank, think we should do anything about it?"

"Likely, let me ask the captain.  Hey captain, anything we should do about it?"

"Mmm … fire a warning shot.  If there's anything out there, then send out another round."

"Sir, yes sir.  The captain says to fire a warning shot, then a full round if there's anything."

"Will do," Greg replied.





When the birds had cleared, the captain tried to keep from panicking, though all three were in a ready position.  "Crap!  Our cover!" Manusha yelled.  Just then, the heard the sound of a gun fired in the distance, and an increasing whistling noise.  "Ah!  Incoming fire.  Duck and cover!"

"But I said I didn't bring a blanket!" Kakaira said.

"JUST DUCK!"

The three dived behind trees as the sailing object hit the ground with a clink, and a bit of a splash.  None of them mad a move, then Manusha looked out from behind the tree to see the source of the sound.  It was a tiny glass with a bit of liquor in it.  She blinked, deep in thought.  "A warning shot, eh?"

Kakaira poked her head out from behind the tree.  "Seems like it," she said.  Yuuri followed.

Then a second gunshot was heard, a similar whistling sound, and a clink as a second liquor filled shot glass landed near the first.  Manusha looked toward the base.  "And a follow up round.  No doubt about it.  They know we're here."  The other two nodded in agreement.

"Now what, captain?" asked Yuuri.

She continued to look toward the base, then looked toward the other two.  "Looks like Plan A isn't going to work, we'll have to go to Plan B, but quickly."

"Yes, ma'am," the other two sounded.  Kakaira then asked, "Captain, what's Plan B?"

Manusha sighed.  "It's where …" she began, but reconsidered, shaking her head.  "You know what, heck with it.  Let's just charge them.  We don't have much time before they mobilize.  Let's go!"  She readied her riffle.

"Yes, ma'am!" the other two sounded readying their weapons as well.

With a battle cry, the three alaerin then charged toward the base, full of spirit.  Before they got too far, a hissing sounded as ropes tightened around their ankles.  Once they were tight, the ropes retreated into the branches of the trees.  The three alaerin fell on their fronts, then were each pulled by one of their legs until they were hanging upside down.

Manusha looked around her.  "Wha … wha … what the heck is this?!"





The commotion in the far distance caught the eye of Greg at the base, who rubbed his chin.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small collapsible telescope.  He pulled it until it extended about a foot, and pointed it toward the woods.  He couldn't make anything out.

Taking it away from his eye, he pulled the telescope, extending it another foot, then continued to pull at it, extending it until it was around fifteen feet long.  Pointing the now very long device at the area, he could make out the three hanging alaerin.  One that looked to be the leader of the group appeared hysterical.

He scratched his chin again once he'd moved the device away.  "Hey Frank, there's three alarians coming from the north.  Ran into one of our defenses."

"I see," Frank said, sitting across from the captain playing cards.  "I'll let the captain know.  Hey, captain, thee alarians coming from the north.  They hit one of our defenses."

"Hmm, good to know.  Have all available men mobilize and prepare to defend the base."

"Right, sir.  The captain says that's good to know, and to mobilize all men to defend the base."

"Understood."  Greg then made a call on the mobile intercom.  "All available men, alarians sighted.  Prepare to defend the base."





Meanwhile, the three alaerin contemplated their situation.  "WHAT?!  I can't believe this!  Are you kidding me?" Manusha yelled, now gently swaying back and forth in her fit.

"Seems the humans were prepared for us," Kakaira said.  "Heh, cleaver little buggers, aren't they?"

Yuuri nodded, making some wide hand motions as she spoke.  "Yup, yup, seems like we underestimated them."

"Looks like it.  We'll have to be more careful."  Kakaira chuckled.  "This is a pretty good trap though."

"Mmhmm, yup, got us pretty good."

"WILL YOU TWO QUITE COMPLEMENTING THEM?!" Manusha scolded.  "Good grief!  If you two want to talk about something, how about how we get down?"

Kakaira mused for a moment.  "Hey, let's just shoot the ropes."  She then began to ready her firearm.

Manusha shrugged.  "Well, fair enough.  Just wait till I'm ready …"

"Okay, I'm ready too."  Kakaira interrupted, and aimed for the rope holding her captain.

"No wait, I said wait till I'm …" she attempted to say, but instead began to yell as Kakaira's laser pulse cutting through the rope.  "Aaaahh-umph!"  She was silence by the ground meeting her faceplate.  She grumbled as she began to stand back up, rubbing her head.  As she turned she noticed Yuuri untie Kakaira's ropes psychically, and float her right side up to the ground.  "What … hey, now, why couldn't you do that for me?"

"Ah, sorry.  I forgot I could."  She knocked herself on the head.  "Tee hee!"

"Tss … you little …" Manusha muttered.  She removed the piece of rope on her ankle as Yuuri gave her own ropes a mental untying and floated herself to the ground.

"So, now what do we do, captain?" Kakaia asked.

"Well, they know we're here, they're prepared to defend their base, and they've likely trapped the area.  This is going to be tricky."

"Should we try attacking from a different direction?" Yuuri asked.

"Not a bad idea, Yuuri," Manusha agreed.  "Come on girls, we'll try from further west."  She motioned for them to follow her as she began walking.  "But be careful. I'm starting to suspect there's more to these little runts than meets the eye, and they're hard enough to meet eyes with being so short.  Tread carefully," she said looking back to them, "and watch you step – AAAAHHH – oomph!"  The captain's message was interrupted as she stepped into a hidden pit.

Yuuri and Manusha rushed over to the edge.  Yuuri looked in to see the captain at the bottom, having fallen on her rump.  "Captain, are you all right?"

"Fine," she growled.

"Wow, these guys really have done a number on the area," Kakaira noted.

"Yeah, seriously, how'd they get time for all this?" Yuuri responded.

"Not sure, but it seems we can't take them lightly."

"Mmm, yup," Yuuri concurred.

Manusha was busy trying to climb up the wall, but slipped, falling back down.  "Grrr, that's it, I'm going to make soup out of those humans when we take that base."

"Oh, oh, can I have Inosiu Stew instead?  I love that!" Yuuri pondered, referring to an alaerin cuisine.

"Hmm, I'd rather have Humiyan Spiced Sogash, myself," Kakaira replied.

"Oooh, right, that's really good too!"

"WILL YOU TWO JUST GET ME OUT OF HERE?!" Manusha railed.





Sometime later, the three-woman squadron was soon overlooking the base from a different angle.  Though they were on top of a distant hill, there was still plenty of cover.  They were laying low underneath some fruit bearing bush like trees.  Manusha surveyed the landscape, both with and without her binoculars.  She could see some activity in the base, but mostly in the way of infantrymen, but none in the area around it.  There seemed to be two tanks, but both looked to be under repair.

Smirking as she moved the binoculars away, Manusha told her companions, "It seems like our intel was indeed right.  They've very lightly defended.  The only real threats are the mounted guns and two tanks, and those look out of commission, at least for now."

"Um, are you sure?" Yuuri asked, laying next to her on her left.  "It seems like we're already having difficulty …."

"Shut up," was Manusha's quick reply.  "Look, if we can keep low until we get near that ridge, we should be able to make an effective ambush."

"What if we run into any traps?" Kakaira pressed.

"Not to worry.  There're no trees large enough to dangle us from, and we already know to look out for pits.  We should be fine."

Kakaira scratched her head.  "Isn't that what you said when we left the base?"

"Just shut up and move, trooper."

"Yes, ma'am," the other two alaerin replied.

They began to crawl their way toward their intended destination, their forms hidden beneath the foliage.  As they proceeded, they noticed that their armor slowly accumulated some yellow-green slime, which was surprisingly sticky, as their limbs and torsos bumped into small, off-white pouches along the way, bursting them.  Although no problem at first, they were soon rather covered in it, and it was rather suspicious.

"Captain, um, this … stuff … you don't think it's part of a trap, do you?" Yuuri inquired.

"Oh, come now, just what would a bunch of sap, or whatever this stuff is, have to do with anything?" Manusha asked.

In short order, the three had stealthily reached their rally point, and had maneuvered out of the brush to lean back against the ridge without notice by the base.  "Good, we made it past without detection," Manusha began.

"How do we proceed, captain?" Kakaira asked.

"Okay, Yuuri," Manusha said looking to her, "like before, you and I will charge the base.  Kakaira, you have to … huh?"  As Manusha turned to look at her other teammate she spied the head of a large furry creature peeking out behind the corner.  After a moment, it fully came into view.  It was a quadruped, with horns, reddish brown fur, and bore similarities to a buffalo in stature, and stood roughly half the height of an average alaerin.  "What the heck is that?"  The other alaerin had adjusted to see it.

Walking right up to Kakaira, it began to sniff at the green substance over much of her limbs and torso.  "Oh!" Yuuri burst out.  "It's a narquor.  I remember reading about those in biology."

Manusha examined the creature.  "Uh-huh, so what does that mean for us?  Is it dangerous?"

Yuuri shook her head.  "Nah, nah, their pretty benign, even though they're built powerfully.  They're herbivores, and don't attack unless seriously provoked."

The narquor then licked at the substance on Kakaira, and began nuzzling her affectionately.  "Aww, I think it likes me."  Kakaira then began to pet the beasts head.

"Well, one little grazer isn't going to be much trouble, then will it, Yu … Yuuri?"  As the captain spoke, another narquor emerged close to Yuuri, and moved close to her.

"Oh, hey there fella," she said, letting the creature sniff at her.  "No, it shouldn't but narquor usually travel in herds."

"I see, so what size herds are we talking about here?"

"Umm, let's see, something like three to five hundred, in the wild."  She looked up.  "Like those guys."

The other two alaerin followed Yuuri's gaze upward, and noticed twenty more were now looking down at them from the top of the ridge.  As they looked about them, thirty more seemed to have moved rather close to them.

"W-well, a herd of narquor doesn't mean anything to the mission," Manusha noted.

"Yeah, I suppose.  They are kind of cute though, and these seem … really affectionate," Yuuri added as the one close to her began nuzzling more enthusiastically.

The one near Kakaira was practically trying to jump on her.  "You can say that again.  Geez, what's gotten into these things?"

"I don't know," Yuuri said, trying to keep the beast from jumping on her as a few others near.  "They only other time I remember seeing them like this was a video of them on this one aphrodisiac."

Manusha looked at her peculiarly as a few beasts approached the captain and Kakaira.  "What sort of aphrodisiac?"

"Well, there's this one herb that narquor seem to get especially excited about.  It's pretty rare though, and it takes quite a bit to get them going.  I think it's often distilled into a sickly green liquid when ranchers want to get maximum effect out of it come breeding season."

Manusha pondered.  "That's weird.  It's almost like we … have some … around …." Manusha looked at the yellow-green substance covering her, and the three alaerin seemed to realize their situation at about the same time.  "Sa-say, Yu-Yuuri, just what happens when narquor are exposed to … too much?"

Yuuri gulped, looking at the other two, who seemed to be getting rather nervous.  "You don't want to know."

Just then, the first narquor that had approached Kakaira began to shake its head and move frantically.  It crouched low and gave a long, deep bellow.  Several hundred more narquor around it joined in its cry.  The three alaerin nervously looked to each other.

Shortly after, the three alaerin could be seen in full sprint running away from the base, their yells actually audible, followed by a stampede of several hundred, rather vigorous narquor.





Having decided on a new course of action, the squad found themselves in another section of forest advancing toward the base.  Their armor was cleaned off, but their mood seemed generally much sourer than it had been.  The human base soon came into view, past the forests edge, though like before they were still far in.

"There it is.  Now, new plan.  Kakaira, you take shots at their defense grid from as far away as you can.  We'll give supporting fire.  If sneaking up isn't going to work, we'll lure them out."

"Oooh, good plan, captian!" Yuuri beamed.

"Heh, heh, thanks."

"Okay, I'll just need to be closer to get a clear shot," Kakaira said.

Manusha agreed.  "Very well, let's move."

Only a few moments before they walked on, the encountered a large, white X on the ground in front of them.  "Hold!" Manusha called, raising her hand.

The other two froze, looking about alertly.  "What is it?" Kakaira asked.

"There, that cross thing … that's too out of place."

"I'll say," Yuuri agreed.  "Is it a trap?"

"Considering everything else, I've no doubt."

"Yeah, seriously," Kakaira added.  "We'd best go around it then.  That's clearly a marker for where the trap is."

"Good call, trooper.  Let's go," Manusha said as she began to walk around.

Suddenly Yuuri grabbed her arm, stopping her.  "Wait captain!"

"What is it?"

"What if … what if that marker 'isn't' the trap?"

"What do you mean?" Manusha cocked her head.

"Think about it.  Why would the humans put an X right here to mark the trap?  Obviously, anyone would avoid it.  I've seen this in movies and things.  The trap isn't the X, it's what's around the X that's a trap!  Once we step around the X, we get what's coming."

"That's silly," Kakaira said.

"No, wait, she has a point.  These little rascals are incredibly crafty.  We were, after all, just about to walk around it, and doing the most sensible things the last times we played right into their hands, which is especially aggravating since it should be the other way around, if for no other reason than they're so dang small."

"That's true, good point," Kakaira said, trying to follow.  "So what should we do, Yuuri?"

"If I'm right, then we should walk right over the marker.  That would be the safe route."

Manusha mulled this over.  "Go right over the X, eh?  Sounds strange, but also somewhat reasonable, in a sort of unreasonable way.  Okay then, let's go with that."

As she was about to proceed forward, Kakaira grabbed her arm.  "Wait, hold on captain."

Sighing, Manusha asked, "Yes, what is it, Kakaira?"

"What if … what if Yuuri's wrong?  What if we're really overestimating them?  Maybe they put the X here to mark where the trap is, but simply forgot to erase it?  Of course anyone would go around it, which is why they put it here – so 'they' wouldn't be caught up in it.  It's likely that the person who was supposed to remove the marking forgot.  I think the trap is right there, and it would be nuts to waltz over it."

"Hmm," the captain mused.  "That's true, that is a possibility.  It does seem more likely to be negligence than pre-planning when you look at it.  Okay, we go around."

Again, Yuuri grabbed Manusha's arm.  "Captain, wait!"

A little more frustrated, Manusha sighed.  "Yes, Yuuri, what is it?"

"That doesn't make any sense.  How could the last several traps be so thoroughly laid and concealed, yet this one, this glaring, in your face marking is left to negligence?  That doesn't seem right.  How could such an obvious thing be overlooked?  All those other traps were flawless.  They 'know' we'd go around it, not over it.  That's why it's here, to deceive us, to manipulate us even more.  No one after seeing this would walk over it, they would definitely go around.  The X is safe, I'm sure of it!"

Manusha rubbed her head.  "Okay, then we go over it."

As she was about to step forward, Kakaira again grabbed her arm.  "Hold on captain, let's think about this."

Shaking the other alaerin's hand of her arm, Manusha addressed the two.  "You know what, at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if the X doesn't have anything to do with anything regarding any of that!  I wouldn't be surprised if the whole purpose of that X is to just keep us standing here, arguing over whether or not we should do anything!"

The other two troopers looked to each other before Yuuri spoke up.  "But, wait, why would they do that?"

Momentarily tossing her hands up in the air, Manusha went on.  "Oh, I don't know!  Maybe they have some ridiculous sequence of events that requires us to stand right here!"

"Like what?" Kakaira asked curiously.

"Well, you know, maybe one part of their defense takes time to activate …." Just then a bit of a rustle could be heard in the high branches above them.  The three slowly shifted their gazes up as several bound logs came swinging down.  "What … OOOFF!"  Before any had time to act, the three were all hit simultaneously with the pile of wood, sending them careening over the X.  When they hit they ground, they broke through the cover and fell into a hidden pit, causing some dust to float to the top.

When it settled, Yuuri noted, "Wow, good call captain you were right about the X."

"Yeah, you're really smart, captain.  You wear your rank well.  Seems we have a lot to learn," Kakaira said.

"Yup, yup!" added Yuuri.  A few moments passed, she asked, "Um … captain, are you crying?"

"Just shut up!" Manusha retorted.





Later, the three alaerin were taking another approach to the base.  The path they were currently on led to an area of the woods that was closest to the base.  Pausing when the human encampment was view, Manusha laid out her battle plans.  "Okay, listen up you two, I'm done playing games.  No more sneaking, no more sniping, and no more screw-ups!  We're taking this base, if it's the last thing I do!  Got that?"

"Yes, ma'am!" Yuuri replied enthusiastically.  Kakaira nodded.

All three readied their weapons, and proceeded toward the base.  Before they got to far though, a small box came into view, with some strange sounds emanating from it.  "Hold up!" Manusha commanded.  Slowly she edged her way to the box.  When she was just close enough to peer over the edge, she could see numerous, small furry creatures inside.  "What in the world?"

"Oh!  Kittens!" Yuuri squealed, clapping her hands in front of her.  "I want one!"

Just as she was about to rush toward the box, Manusha grabbed her arm.  "Not so fast, trooper.  This is a trap.  This we 'know' is a trap."

"Ah, ah, but, but," Yuuri stammered, looking between the captain and the box.  "But, they're just kittens!  That's all, I'm sure."

Manusha shook her head.  "No.  Look, Yuuri, I know they look cute, and fluffy," she touched her other hand to her helmet, "and, and sweet, and lovable, and … and cuddly, and, and …." She slapped her helmet a few times, trying to shake herself out of it.  "But this is a trap.  Remember what happened to Rimila's unit?  They all feel prey to … to those kittens, those … cute kittens … gah!" Manusha hit her head a few times.

"Okay, I'm good.  Yes, they're sweet, but look," she said pointing upward, Yuuri following.  "See that net up there?  Once we get to close, boom!  We're trapped like … like kittens in a … in a box … gaaar!"  Manusha shook her head.  "This sort of thing will be our undoing if we're not careful.  Got it Yuuri?"

Manusha noticed that Yuuri's gaze was transfixed on the box, so she bopped her on the head.  "Yuuri, were you listening?"

"Huh, oh, yeah, yeah, I was.  It's just … they're so cute …."

"Listen, girl," Manusha went on, grabbing her by the shoulders.  "These humans are toying with us, with our planning, with our movements, our reasoning, and even our sensibilities.  This is war, and anything goes.  We have to be strong, alright!"

Yuuri nodded.  "Yes … yes ma'am.  I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it.  I know it's tough to resist, but we have to pull through.  We can't be so easily taken in."

"Oooh, these guys are adorable!" Kakaira exclaimed.

The other two alaerin both sharply looked at her.  "No, Kakaira, it's a trap!" Manusha screamed.

Kakaira was on her knees, holding several kittens in her hand.  Upon looking up to notice them, she cocked her head.  "What?" she asked.  A few clinks were then herd, and a large net descended upon her.  The metal balls at the corners drilled into the ground, and she was held fast.  "Huh, huh?  What the heck?" she remarked, looking around.

Manusha slapped her palm over her faceplate.  "Good grief, Kakaira, didn't you hear anything I just said?!"

The ensnared alaerin looked at her a moment, before pushing a few buttons on her helmet.  "Sorry, I had my music on.  What was that?"

"AAAARRGHHH!" Manusha yelled, stomping her foot.  "I thought I told you not to do that?"

"Uh … yes, sure, ha, ha, of course you did."

"You had you music on when I told you that, didn't you?"

Looking about nervously, she replied.  "Ah, no, no, of course not, um …."

Manusha gave an exasperated sigh.  "I can't believe this is happening."

Shrugging, Kakaira said, "Ah well, no worries.  At least these little cuties are fine."  She then began to pet a few with one of her fingers.

"Oh, oh, let me have one!" Yuuri exclaimed, running over to the net.

"Sure, take a whole bunch, there's a ton of them."

"That's enough!" shouted Manusha.  "Enough of this!  Yuuri get her out, now.  No playing with kittens until we've taken that base."

"But …" Kakaira pleaded.

"No buts," Manusha cut her off.

"Aww …" Yuuri said, now holding a few kittens.

"No awws."

Kakaira was about to speak when the captain continued.  "No anything!  No retorts!  No excuses!  Silence!  We're taking that base, right now!  Got it?"  The two other alaerin, looked to each other, before looking back to her.  She sighed.  "You can reply to that."

"Yes ma'am," they both said.

Yuuri and Manusha proceeded to unfasten the net, feeing their companion.  When they were finished, Manusha collected herself.  "Now, we'll proceed as planned.  Be mindful of traps, but don't let up.  This is it – it's do or die time.  Got it?"

"Yes ma'am!" the both said.

"Good, now let's move out!"  The three started again toward the base, when another large white X came into view.  The three of them stopped at once.  "Oh, no, we're not falling for that again." Manusha said.

"Right, captain – ah!  Look!" Yuuri said, pointing.  The other two looked to see one of the kittens was ambling around toward the marking.

"NOOO!" the three of them yelled, then ran after it.  Before they got too far though, the ground beneath them gave, and they fell into another hidden pit.

"Ah, they got us again …" Kakaira said.

Yuuri sighed.  "Yup … yup."

"At … at least the kitten is safe," Kakaira said.

"Hey, there you go, look on the bright side of things," Yuuri remarked.

"Just … just shut up …" Manusha muttered.





Eventually, the squad wandered back to their original location, looking worn out.  Manusha slumped down on a nearby rock, and Kakaira and Yuuri near her.  Manusha removed her helmet, letting her snow white hair settle at her back behind her blue face, brushing a few strands to rest behind her long ears..  She threw it at the ground in exasperation.  "This … this doesn't make any sense.  There are probably less than ten of them, and three of us, and we're like six times their size.  Just … just logic alone says we should be wining!"

"Ah, that explains it," Yuuri noted, hitting her fist to her hand in realization.

"What?" asked Manusha.

"Well, humans don't always think logically, of course."

"Ah, that's true," Kakaiara agreed.

"AS IF EITHER OF YOU DO!" Manusha shouted.  She shook her head and buried her face in her palms.  "I can't take this anymore.  Everything we do goes wrong.  Everything …" she almost started to sob.  "I just wanted to make the commander proud, be a good soldier, someone my family could look up to.  And look at me … I can't even capture a little outpost."

Yuuri and Kakaira looked at each other sorrowfully.  Yuuri then removed her own helmet, revealing her white hair, purple skin, and similarly long ears.  She patted the captain on the shoulder.  "There, there captain.  It's alright."

"Yeah, I mean, we're still alive, we can keep fighting.  And we'll stick by you through thick and thin," Kakaira affirmed, having taken her helmet off as well, and began to drink a bit from her canteen.  She had shorter, pale blue hair, and a lighter blue skin than the captain.

"You two," Manusha said affectionately, "… thanks."

"Hey, no problem," Yuuri continued.  "Besides, we haven't even tried the long range rocket launcher yet."

Manusha and Kakaira both paused momentarily.  "The what?" Manusha asked, a bit dumbfounded.

"That thing."  Yuuri gestured as she spoke toward a large weapon, nearly as tall as the two blue alaerin, with a stash of rockets.

Manusha and Kakaira's jaws dropped, as well as the canteen Kakaira was holding.  "Where … where did that come from?" Manusha asked.

"The commander said we should bring it along to make things easier.  I think it's more than powerful enough to take out human buildings and whatnot."

Manusha was still in a bit of shock.  "But … wait, why didn't I notice you bringing it before?"

"Well, I did have the silencer on, maybe that's why?" Yuuri suggested.

Manusha squinted.  "Huh?"  She then got up and walked over to the weapon, which did indeed have an attachment at the end that looked to be a silencer.  She rapped her fist against the surface of the weapon, which yielded no sound.  Looking confused, she then unscrewed the silencer from the end, then rapped her fist against it again, which then yielded a "clang" with each rap.

She scratched her head with both hands.  "Tss, that doesn't make any sense … no, who cares?  That's it!  It's time to end this!"

"Yes ma'am!" said the other two, now on their feet and looking ready for action.

Hoisting up the weapon, she loaded in a rocket, then tossed it to Kakaira.  Kakaira caught in with a chuckle.  "Can you handle this, girl?" Manusha aksed.

"Heh, heh, oh yeah," Kakaira said, petting the weapon.

"Alright!" Manusha said, fist in the air.  "Ready?"

"Yup," Kakaira replied, the weapon at an angle across her body, barrel toward the tree line.

"FIRE!" Manusha commanded enthusiastically, her finger pointing at the base.

Kakaira pulled the trigger, sending a rocket soaring into the sky.  Manusha and Yuuri watched it sail far off target, exploding against a hill in the far distance.  "Manusha looked stunned.  "What the heck was that?! You missed!"

Kakaira shrugged.  "You said to fire."

"I mean at the base!"

"Oh, well you should have told me to aim first."

"AAAAARRRGHH!" Manusha yelled, fists in the air.  "Give me that thing!"

She took the large weapon from Kakaira, then loaded in another rocket.  She moved to where the base was in sight and crouched down.  She activated the scope which then moved across her eye, and zoomed in until a human on top of the main building picking his nose was in her target.  She then fired, sending the rocket spiraling toward the building.

It burst through the doors on the first floor before exploding.  The blast actually lifted the building many hundreds feet vertically into the air, before in fell straight down where it had been.  Moments after its landing, a large white flag was raised on the nearby flagpole.

Yuuri and Kakaira cheered, slapping each other a high five.  Manusha on the other hand, was still crouched, shoulders shaking as if in anger.  She quickly stood up and threw the weapon at the ground.  "AAAAAGGHH!  This could have saved us so much grief!" she railed, stomping around.  Eventually she approached Yuuri.  "Why didn't you tell me we had this thing earlier?"

"Well, uh, you see," she swallowed, "you were acting so cool when we starting, with your planning and tactics, and motivational speaking that I … I didn't want to steal your thunder."

"Yuuri …" Manusha said.  "Wait, why didn't you tell me after we found out the whole place was trapped?"

"Oh, um," Yuuri thought.  "I guess I forgot."

Manusha slapped her hand to her face.  "You … no, no, it doesn't matter anymore.  We did it."

"Yeah, there's teamwork for you," Kakaira added boldly.

"Yup, yup!" Yuuri piped in.

Manusha sighed.  "Yeah, sure, whatever."

Just then a beeping could be heard from their helmets.  Yuuri ran over to hers and picked it up, pressing the appropriate buttons, and listened.  "Captain, we're receiving a broad range transmission from the base.  The said they'll surrender and will put up no further resistance."

"Finally," Manusha muttered.  "Alright then, tell them we're on our way."

"Yes ma'am," Yuuri answered.

Manusha began walking in the general direction of the base.  A rather satisfied smile formed on her face as she pounded her fist into her hand.  "Alright you little runts, it's time I showed you just what happens to anyone who wants to make a fool out of me – WAAAH!"  Manusha landed face down on the ground as a rope had snagged her foot.  She was then pulled up by her ankle toward the tops of the trees, and left hanging upside down as she had been earlier.

"What!  What!  You've got to be kidding me!" she shouted.

Yuuri and Kakaira then quickly appeared, with Yuuri calling out as she approached,  "Oh, and captain, they've also given us the safe route to avoid all the … other traps …."  Her voice trailed off as the two saw their hanging leader.

"Tsss, tell me that sooner!" Manusha replied.

"Don't sweat it, I got this," Kakaira said as she aimed her riffle at the rope.

"No, wait!" Manusha cried just as Kakaira had fired.  The shot broke the rope, and Manusha fell headlong into the ground, which then gave way to another hidden pit.  A loud thud echoed upward as she hit the bottom.

The two ran toward the edge.  "Geez, sorry captain," Kakaira said.  "You alright?"

Down below, Manusha picked herself up off the ground, slumping against the side of the pit.  "Yeah, fine," she answered gruffly.  She rubbed a bit of dirt off her face and off her front.  "Well, at least that's the end of that."

It was then that a deep groan came from her right.  She slowly turned her head to come face to face with a rather large beast.  "Why … why is there a narquor down here?!"  The beast licked its lips as it slowly came toward her.  She began to back away until she hit the far wall.  "No … no …."

In the tops of the trees, several bird-like creatures took flight as Manusha gave a resounding scream.
I think this will serve as a more appropriate thank you and bit of a personal celebration for my page getting more than 3000 views. Much better than my last one anyway, but it was still humorous. [link]

Anyway, here's a piece similar in style to "To Build a Better Mousetrap" [link] in the sense that I think it's something that a joint group of alaerin and human directors could come up with as part of a movie or some series, with an emphasis on humor.

I hope you enjoy it, and please leave some feedback. I always like hearing what everyone thinks about my work, and also any grammar mistakes I make. Also, the title is, well, just okay. I really couldn't think of a catchy one, but it seems to work. If anyone has any suggestions for a better one, feel free to make some suggestions.

:iconlegacyverse: is made possible by :icondurendal5150:
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:iconcolaphan:
colaphan Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
this whole thing was hilarious!
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:iconzen4life:
zen4life Featured By Owner May 15, 2014
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.
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:iconglkthread:
Glkthread Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That was... different :D I loved the humans' chain of command ^_^
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:iconzen4life:
zen4life Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
Yes, a little silliness now and again never hurt.
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:iconfilanwizard:
Filanwizard Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
reading this made me think of what would happen if a group of Alaerin tried to take on Bugs Bunny. all kinds of traps built on humor.
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:iconzen4life:
zen4life Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011
There was a heavy element of cartoonish slapstick in this, indeed.
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:iconfilanwizard:
Filanwizard Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
as long as they do not in the next episode chase a bird across the south western US. with laser guns sold to them by Acme.
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:iconfumbles20:
fumbles20 Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2010
that was very funny i like the part about the blanket
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:iconzen4life:
zen4life Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2010
Thank you, I'm happy you liked it.
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:icon13c6:
13c6 Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2010
lol to the power of INFINITY.
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