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"Sir, perimeter scouts report incoming toxic spray!" Wasp Leader One took the news with a grim nod. "It's been a week since the last attack. We survived it and the many that came before. We'll survive this one, too. Send out more fighters, let's try to sting the attacker. He usually runs away when we show force."

As his troops carried out the orders, Leader One recounted how lucky they had been to find this particular area to build their city. Rock and metal formed the walls, with small openings that led into a vast and open territory. They had held on to their home for several years, raising many excellent recruits for his army. The Queen had rewarded him handsomely for his winning so many battles. Every year the enemy tried to destroy their home, suffering losses but not enough to diminish the population. The enemy used chemical weapons, a toxic mix that killed his people on contact. Luckily, the spray could not penetrate deeply into their homeland. At most, it would cover the openings for a few hours then dissipate. The gate sentries would die, but their sacrifice served the colony. Some actually scored hits against the enemy, deploying their Stinger missiles before being swatted to death.

"Sir, our losses are much heavier this time, and there is some unusual activity at the gates. The enemy has scaled the wall and directed more of the toxin into the west and north openings." Even as he heard the words, Leader One could smell the toxin seeping into the protected territories. "Pull the rest of the population back into the back-most recesses. Make sure the queen is protected." He felt uneasy now. This attack was different from the rest. The enemy usually shot a few volleys of chemicals at the opening and left, most likely assuming they would die off or leave. What the enemy didn't know was that they had access to an enclosed area that was enormous. They could simply move into the deeper areas and wait for the chemicals to disappear.

But now it seemed the enemy was more insistent. Perhaps the Wasp community's luck was running out. Maybe they had become complacent and arrogant, stinging the enemy at will with stealth attacks. He remembered laughing at the sight of the enemy running from his Special Forces Air Patrol. Dive-bombing their stupid animals and ruining many an outdoor activity was especially satisfying.

His thoughts were interrupted by screams and yelling. "Sir, the enemy has unleashed an avalanche of some kind! It is streaming into all of the gates, but it doesn't fall away. It grows and becomes solid. When we try to attack it, we get stuck!" Leader One rushed to the front line of the attack. He couldn't believe his compound eyes. A wall of white foam was actually moving into their territory, solidifying and sealing the gates leading out and into their home. "Quick, find secondary access points, and disperse all remaining troops!" he yelled. A minute later, another report came in. Whenever a Wasp fighter found another exit, it was spotted by the enemy and sealed up in foam. The enemy's all-out assault was proving fatal this time.

• • •

"Honey, I finally beat that wasp colony in the corner soffit behind the garage. Sprayed them with wasp killer, then squirted some gap-filling foam into the crevices they used to get into the attic. They're trapped in there, and those on the outside can't get in. That should kill the nest for good!"

• • •

Leader One, the Queen, and other survivors gathered in the furthest reaches of their home. They had never seen such a weapon before. With no access to food and water, they were doomed. Grimly, Leader One and the Queen conversed for the last time. "We have been defeated for now," said Leader One. "But we can convey this information to future members of our race. Perhaps, in time, we will develop a counter-measure to this weapon. Our deaths will not be in vain."

• • •

"That's great, dear, but don't get too cocky. You know another group of wasps will show up, just as bad as the one you destroyed. And, by the way, I just saw one crawl out of a ceiling light can. I think it must have been in the attic."

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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