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By Robert Asprin

The Tzen, fierce warriors, grasp strategists, and reptiles, and the Enemy, savage conquerors, awesome technicians, and bugs, struggle their fiercest conflict but. Reprint.

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They even showed the Insects how to operate some of the cruder interstellar transports to make these new worlds available to them. The Insects worked on a much simpler logic process. Being a population-sensitive culture, they felt there would never be enough worlds for everyone. Realizing this, they could only view the First Ones as potential competitors for the inhabitable worlds. Following this logic, they used the ships the First Ones gave them along with the knowledge of the locations of the other colonies and launched an attack, an attack that brought the First Ones and their culture to an abrupt end.

The Wasps hesitated, seemingly confused by the sudden movement of their target. Intelligent beings shouldn't hesitate when fighting Tzen. The splitsecond stabilization of his target was all the opening Ahk needed. The flexi-steel whip lashed out, striking the Wasp nearest him just behind the head, severing it from the body. Still functioning, but without guidance, the headless body veered sideways, crashing into its partner. The second Wasp wobbled in midair from the impact and tried to steer away.

The two forces considered each other warily. This would be the first actual confrontation between the Coalition of Insects and the Tzen Empire. Surprise attacks such as the original strafing mission or our ambushing the solitary Leaper were deliberately planned to favor the attacker and play into the defenders' weakness. Now, for the first time, individuals of a roughly even number were squaring off for head-on combat, each side with an equal degree of preparedness or nonpreparedness, as the case maybe.

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