The Bug defense turned into a relentless onslaught. Now in close-quarters, the range advantage turned to the Bugs. Only with the superior skill and experience did Nala Prime, Special Team 1 and their copies—those still alive—withstand that assault and blasted, hacked and slashed their way through and penetrate deep into the Hive. Once they broke through, quickly did they rush out of sight and away from the still-converging Bugs; once satisfied as to their distance, the band paused.
“What’s the plan now, Nala Prime?” Red Prime asked, “Because I doubt that splitting back into sections will work.”
“Correct.” Blue Prime said with a nod, “But staying together like this invites continued Bug attack that could jeopardize the mission.”
“You’re both right.” Nala Prime affirmed, “So here’s what we’re going to do. Yellow Prime will take the Greens and Blue 5; they’re going to sneak their way to the top of the Hive and prepare our escape route, where they’re going to stay unless called for. Red Prime, take the Nala 4, Reds 4 and 5 and the Yellows; go find and blow up their hatchery. Everyone else goes with me as we make for the Bug Mastermind and hack his brain.”
The others said, as one, “Understood.”
People shuffled around to their new assignments, but before the group split up the Nalas quickly conferred amongst themselves. Then Nala 3 handed off thumb-sized crystals to Red and Yellow Prime, who each sublimated the crystals and absorbed the contents therein. Comprehending what the Nalas gave to them, Red and Yellow Prime saluted Nala Prime before gathering up their assigned men and heading in different directions.
Nala Prime looked over his group. He knew he could trust his own copies, and he trusted the Blues to go along with what he had in mind. Getting the Greens and the Yellows out of the way, lest they screw up what’s to come, seemed sensible to him- especially after some of the Greens already got compromised by the events of the mission. Give the Reds military objectives, and they’ll be fine; they’re here to fight a war, not to quibble about philosophy.
“Red 2, take point. Red 3, bring up the rear. Nalas 2 and 3, go with them. The Blues, Nala 4 and Nala 5 will be with me in the center.” Nala Prime said.
Nala Prime and his copies led his group carefully through the Hive, crawling through its interior and swiftly removing those Bugs discovered that they could not avoid. The faint echoes of combat hit their ears, assuring them that Red Prime’s group indeed kept the Bugs busy by making noise and then doing hit-and-run engagements. Nala Prime’s tap on Yellow Prime informed him that, as expected, the Greens had no problem following Yellow Prime back out of the Hive; they also revealed that they too shared the thoughts of the other Greens- but were now too scared to act on them.
“Yellow Prime, no doubt, awaits their sudden—but inevitable—betrayal.” Nala Prime thought.