PAINT WARS

Author's Note: A short piece based on my story 'Feral Through the Looking Glass'. Feral takes a game he learned in Eureka and teaches his officers how to have fun and better hone their stealth skills.

Feral needed something to pull him out of his depression at the loss of his lover, Blair. He'd not been able to go out and find a new lover yet, the grief was still to intense. As he was looking over the pictures Blair had given him just as he jumped through the portal, he found ones taken by Jo during their paint ball games in the woods with Taggart. It showed the amateur Cryptozoologist covered in paint with himself standing paint-free nearby grinning in triumph.

He smiled at the image and a thoughtful look spread across his face. 'Well why not? The kittens are doing it right now, why not us?' He thought in consideration.

A week later, on a Saturday, he had summoned his top squadron officers and his niece, Felina to meet him at the forest survival course used by para military forces. In the parking lot, he waited with his arms crossed over his chest and leaning against an enforcer van.

He had instructed his officers to wear old flight suits, tennis shoes and bring goggles. It was a confused group that gathered before him, still a bit sleepy since it was seven in the morning.

"Glad you could all make it." Feral said with a small smile on his lips.

Everyone shifted uneasily. Feral didn't smile often but when he did it usually meant bad news for someone.

"I learned something interesting during my time away. Pre-adults were just beginning to play this game but on the world I visited, the humans had taken this game to a higher art form. I enjoyed it immensely and had an unfair advantage over them as they didn't have claws or the muscles we do to climb trees. Despite that, they were very cunning and used that to their advantage instead." Feral intoned then turned and opened the rear door of the van.

"The game was called Paint Wars. Here it is called 'Splatter-Fur'. Each of you will get a set of protective gear, helmet and paint gun with appropriate color paint ammo." Feral said as he began to hand out the equipment.

Over the next twenty minutes, he explained the rules and taught them the finer details of using the equipment.

"Alright, are there any questions before we begin?" Feral asked, now dressed in his own gear and holding a gun.

"Yes sir! What is the purpose of this game and why are we playing it?" Lt. Commander Steele asked, a bit put out with being required to play a kitten's game.

"This game teaches stealth. It takes good team work to make it to your goal without being tagged. You really have to become one with the your environment to succeed in not taking any hits or, at least, not taking to many before reaching your goal. What you learn out here will help you get inside the minds of the criminals you hunt more easily and this will help improve your abilities to function as a team." Feral answered. 'And it will help them to burn off their high stress levels by having some good physical fun.' He thought to himself.

"Now, each team take off! See you at the finish line. Good luck to you all and may the best team win." He barked out then followed his own orders by leading his Blue Team to the right.

Steele was in command of the Red Team and went left while Major Torentson, leading the Yellow Team, headed up the middle.

The goal was to reach the lake, two miles west of their location and take the Enforcer Flag he'd put there earlier. Feral knew this wasn't the normal rules for this game but had decided to combine their survival training with this new form of fighting. There was no referee and they had only an hour to complete the task of taking the flag with the least amount of paint hits.

Some two hours later the group were having an impromptu meal with beer the Commander had hidden at the site for after the game. Everyone was in high spirits, much to Feral's pleasure.

It had worked like a charm and he felt happier and less depressed than he'd been since his return. He was pleased with his troops performance. To his surprise even Steele had managed to make it through the course with only about ten hits on his body.

Felina and himself had about five paint splats apiece and had a fantastic time skulking through the woods and hunting the 'enemy'. Major Torentson had managed to win the game and he was holding a beer bottle aloft as he was being carried around by his team in their exuberance. The rest were sitting around a makeshift campfire and exchanging stories.

He and Felina sat a little ways off on a huge rock shelf and watched. Holding her beer between both of her palms, she look up at her uncle with a small smile on her face.

"That was a good idea, Uncle. Having everyone come out and 'play'. We've all been under a lot of stress lately. But I think you benefitted the most from this game." She said lightly.

He glanced at her, eyes twinkling in the evening light, his lips bore a small smile on them.

"I did indeed, Felina. It was one of the good things I remembered from my time on Earth." He admitted softly.

"I'm glad." She said, brushing against him in the dark a moment then moving away.

She knew he'd been very depressed lately and was very glad he'd come up with this game that had lifted his spirits as it did his enforcers. She smiled secretly to herself, her mind already devising a new game plan for the next time they came out to do this because, if she had anything to say about it, there would be a next time.

~fini~

Author's Note: I was going to go into them playing the game but I'm not knowledgeable enough in war games much less a paint ball one (even though I looked it up), so decided to just go with a warm ending to a good day's fun which was the point anyway.