Yes, Katharine, this is your fault. :P No one really reads this who isn't my facebook friend, so you probably already know that my last facebook status was getting an opinion for which of two titles sounded like a better read. Katharine decided Haplopsecas de muerte was a much spicier option. I don't even know if the spanish is right, but whatever.
After not knowing what to do because of spending most of saturday here by myself, I looked up haplopsecas on wikipedia. I knew they were a venezuelan jumping spider, because Kat told me. But it was one of those articles that was literally like a sentence long, with no picture. So I was forced to go to the page for just general jumping spiders. This picture is on it. It was the coolest pic I've seen of a spider. I don't really know why I like it that much. But it made my brain wheels start turning. Everything that follows is a result of Kat's haplopsecas.
"All clear!" Shouted the upper level scout.
"All clear!" repeated the scouts on the mid and lower levels. Sparky repeated the call to the commander.
"I heard them the first time!" He shouted back.
"Sorry, sir. It's just protocol, sir." Sparky said nervously. Sparky wasn't used to dealing with the higher officers. He was just a desk worker.
"I'm aware of that, corporal." The commander said in a much more dangerous voice. "And you would do well to make yourself aware that we are no longer in your cozy office. We are at the front lines here. In fact, this is THE front. We are the advance line. And out here protocol is second priority. As the commanding officer MY wish is first priority."
"Yes, sir." Sparky lowered his eyes to the floor and backed out the door. He still had no idea what possessed central command to send him here. He was no soldier. Not really. He walked slowly down the hallway, silently complaining. Before he made it back to his quarters, the entire compound rocked violently, and a deafening explosion filled the air. Sparky jumped to the ceiling, hanging on with four legs. He kept the others at the ready, and he focused his main binocular eyes, trying to peer down the smoky hallway. All he could see was a faint shadow. A small eight-legged form. But he knew already what it was.
Black widow. The enemy. Sparky had never seen one up close, but he didn't feel like starting now. Black widows were smaller. They were built more delicately. They weren't native to this part of the world. They couldn't even jump. But that made little difference. The proud female warriors made it a point to kill all enemies. They never left survivors. And those who doubted their abilities were killed in a particularly slow and painful manner. An involuntary shudder coursed through Sparky's body, motion that the black widow was quick to pick up on. She turned her tiny eyes to the corner he was hiding in, and hissed loudly.
Sparky had one chance. Slowly he lowered his front legs to the ceiling. He waited as patiently as he could, watching the shiny black spider approach. She readied her webbers. Black widows were known to be deadly accurate with their webs, and even the fur on his body wouldn't protect him from widow silk.
She took aim. He could see her pincer carefully tightening around the weapon. Just as she squeezed the trigger, he jumped. He kept six eyes on the widow, but he focused on his main eyes, so he could land his jump. The widow spun to face him, but he had already landed and rebounded into the commander's room, shutting the door behind him. Before he could even wonder where the commander was, he noticed a dark shadow in the corner. There stood a particularly evil looking widow looming over the helpless commander. He was trapped under a leaf that had fallen loose from the ceiling in the initial explosion. The widow almost didn't notice Sparky's charge into the room. She was too intent on the easy prey.
Sparky steeled himself. He knew he had to save the commander. That was top priority. But engaging a widow directly in single combat was worse than suicide. He backed away slowly, searching the room for options, while he kept his binocular eyes fixed squarely on his opponent. There was nothing useful. Not even a spear. Why didn't the commander keep himself armed? Sparky had no idea, but this was no time to question military policy.
The widow had finally decided to deal with Sparky first. The commander was helpless, and would be there waiting for her when she finished. Sparky was out of time, so he used the only advantage he had against a widow: his jump. He leapt nearly the length of the room at once, a distance he rarely managed at the best of times. The widow was ready for him, but her tiny mass was no match for the larger spider, and Sparky sent her flying out the window. She was so surprised that she didn't send out her silk fast enough, and she hit the ground hard.
Sparky turned to the commander. He knew their time was short. He dragged the heavy leaf away, and helped the commander struggle to his feet. There were only seven, Sparky noted with concern, but it took more than that to get a jumping spider out of play. Especially one who had been in so many battles. They only had one escape route open to them, and they followed the black widow out the window, carefully attached to silk.
The building was tall. So tall that Sparky was sure his silk wouldn't hold out. Even the lower scouting levels were far from the ground. But the webbing held, and Sparky helped the commander into the nearby brush. They watched with horror as the entire compound was over-run. Thousands of widows swarmed in from every level. Sparky doubted if anyone else had survived, and he wondered how the scouts could have missed such a terrible army.
"Let's move, soldier. We've got work to do." The commander said gruffly, wincing at the pain in his torn leg. Sparky nodded, and ran off into the wild, following the commander.
Whether or not you think that was cool and interesting, that's what happened with the jumping spider pic and the haplopsecas title. *shrug* So if you ever see me staring off into space, completely oblivious to what I'm supposed to be listening to, this is probably what I'm doing. Watching random battle scenes play out, or effecting daring rescues.