Captain Martin squinted through the dusty binocular lenses, trying to ascertain the enemy's activities. Four weeks of hard traveling and he was ready to engage his enemy. Martin was a military man through and through. He didn't serve because it paid well, because it was honorable, or because he had nothing better to do.
Martin's grizzled gray hair dripped water beneath his battered gray helmet. He lowered the binoculars, and reflected. He knew why he served. He served because he loved the taste of combat. This was his element.
Around him his men were setting up, building fortifications, and scouting around for the resources needed to prepare for the coming conflict. He surveyed the proceedings with a grim eye.
"Sergeant Trent, front and center!" he bellowed.
Sergeant Trent appeared before the Captain and gave a crisp salute.
"Yes, sir!" yelled Trent.
Martin commanded, "The enemy is trying to dig something up. I want you to take a crack squad of four men and blow up their position."
"No, sir!" replied sergeant Trent.
"What the ... Sergeant, that was an order! What the Hell is wrong with you?"
"Sir, sorry, sir! We are not allowed to engage in direct confrontation with the enemy, sir!"
"Not allowed .. What? What the Hell are you talking about, Sergeant? Not allowed to confront the enemy? That's ridiculous!"
"Yes, sir! No direct confrontations, sir!"
"Well, what the Hell are we supposed to do, wave at them?" asked the Captain.
"Sir, we are digging our own water supplies, as is the enemy! If we work hard, we can dig more water supplies faster than the enemy. If we have more water, we win."
The Captain stared at his sergeant as if he was seeing his left foot for the first time. "What!? What do we need more water for? We've already got enough! And how is having more water than our enemy going to win this war!?"
"Sir, not just more water!" Trent replied. "Let's see," he looked up and began ticking off on his fingers, "We need more water, more dirt, and more wood, and then we trade the dirt and wood to get bricks! Or we can use the wood to get paper which we can use to write to HQ for another shovel. That will let us dig even more water. See?" he beamed happily.
"What!" barked the Captain. "What are you talking about? We have to kill the enemy, not drink water!"
"Well, sir," answered Trent, somewhat embarrassed, "you know that the better supplied army is going to win, isn't it? That's why we need to get more supplies than they do!" And he smiled.
"Trent, I don't give a goddamn hoot nor holler about water, shovels, or dirt! Just take some men and go blow up that ... what the Hell is this!?"
An enemy soldier walked past Martin and Trent with a shovel and began digging in the ground. The rest of his men were laughing and joking and carrying on with their work.
"What the Hell is going on here?!" He fumbled for his gun. Trent lay a hand down on his arm. The Captain went wide eyed, struggled for a moment, and then gave up, staring at the sergeant.
"Uh, uh, Captain, sir. No direct confrontation, remember? He's just digging here for water, like the rest of us."
"What the Hell is he doing here? What's he doing in our position? How did he get into our position?"
"Well, Captain, I learned that it is best not to think of any particular position as 'ours' or 'theirs', you know? What's important is that you are constantly looking around for the best position at any given moment."
The Captain was looking rather green. "How did he get in here? What's happening with our fortifications?"
He looked around and saw his fortifications halfway built. There was another enemy soldier standing on top of one of the walls building it up. Right next to him was one of his soldiers, just standing around doing nothing.
"What the Hell are you doing?" he yelled up at his soldier. "What's that guy doing here?"
"We built up a few pieces of the wall, and then this other guy climbed up and began building some more on top of what we built," yelled his soldier from on top of the wall.
Trent added, "Don't think of it as 'our' wall sir, like I told you before."
"Well why is our man just doing nothing?" the Captain asked in bewilderment.
Trent answered, "He needs to get to the other side of the enemy guy, but he can't pass him."
"Can't pass him?! The damn wall is five feet wide! Just go around!"
"Sorry, sir. Our man just has to wait for the other guy to move. He's not allowed to go around. Hmmm. He might be able to come down on this side of the wall, walk around to the other side, and then climb back up. That will probably take a few days, however."
Meanwhile, a contingent of enemy soldiers had walked up to his canteen. After some exchange, the soldiers handed the guy in the canteen a cordon of wood and in return received a barrel of water.
"What's going on? Why are we giving them water, sergeant? You told me we needed to have more water than them to win the war!"
"Oh, we have enough water. We have a good water supply. We're trading water with them for wood."
"But we're helping the enemy! You don't trade with the enemy!"
"Well," answered the sergeant slowly, "we are helping them, true, but we do need the wood, and both of us are gaining over that third enemy over on the other hill."
The Captain's grizzled face began to turned purple. He jumped up and down and began screaming "Sergeant!!! What the Hell is going on here!? I came here to fight a damn war, and I'm going to fight a damn war!!!"
Trent traced a circle in the ground with his foot. "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to stop shouting at me. That could be considered confrontational, you know."
Huffing and puffing the Captain slowly regained his composure. He hung his head in defeat, staring at the ground with a small tear slowly running down his face. He wore the look of a beaten man.
"Sergeant," he choked. "Sergeant, I give up. I'm going to go back to my tent to turn on my computer and play war games. It seems to be the only way I'm going to be able to experience any combat around here."
"Sir, I'm afraid you can't do that, sir."
"I can't?" asked the Captain, wearily.
"Well, what can I do?"
The Sergeant took out something front his breast pocket and fanned it out in front of the Captain.
"Pick a card."