The intruder stealthily breached the perimeter. The fence was high, at least eight feet, but he was able to pirouette, ninja-like, up the side. The target was in the middle of the compound, surrounded by open ground, and there were vigilant eyes everywhere around the prize.

To avoid notice, the intruder quietly scaled still further upward and scaled a telephone pole that towered over the fence, using the lineman’s footholds. Then, carefully moving hand-over-hand to avoid creating a complete circuit or losing his purchase, he crawled across the thick line (not only telephone but also electric wires as well.

This was enough to make it to the midpoint of the compound, near the target, where the wire carelessly passed near the branches of a tree. But the target was far below, and there were still hostile eyes and traps to deal with. There was no way to move from the wire to the tree without making noise; the intruder evidently resolved to trade stealth for speed.

Dropping down into the bare boughs in a cacophony of snaps and cracks, the intruder made his way down the tree toward the central structure. The target was protected by a pressure sensor designed to react violently to the presence of an interloper; the intruder dangled upside-down from a low-hanging limb to disarm it.

Inside the McWharton home, patriarch Dean looked at his newly-installed, “rodent-proof” birdfeeder and shook his head ruefully.

“Always bet on the squirrels,” he sighed, watching the interloping critter stuff its cheek pouches with ill-gotten seed. “Always.”

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