An old friend once told her that if she had no expectations, she'd be happy. She tried to get her mind around that one while she packed for the mission. It was hard. She never questioned her drive to conquer Capon Frank, and she saw poultry in motion every night in her dreams, falling, with a choice of two sides. She saw the glory, with cole slaw, mashed potatos and classic biscuits surrounding the roasted capon. The resultant celebration pecked at her; she never thought past what would come next.
Her new partner loomed like stuffing in her chest. Ole Plucky had been waxed, "Much like Three's pectorals," she thought, and winced afterwards. Would her quick wit and biscuit supply keep him at bay? She zipped up the pop-tent and secured the ultra-harpoon.
* * * *
Grimironie's best guess was to camp on the west side of a large gully. They'd have the advantage at sunrise. Her thermal scope indicated that there were no mammals over five feet tall for miles, but she knew the motivation and speed of a hungry chicken; it didn't mean much. She baited the area down-wind and returned to camp. Three (spelled I I I) had set up her tent and made a campfire.
"Where's your tent?" she asked.
"Oh, don't have one. I'm on a rookie salary."
"This is no shake and bake," Grimironie steamed, "This could be history in the making! This ain't no party! This ain't no disco! This ain't no foolin' around!"
"Easy," Three insisted, "we're on the same side, and I'm no bantam."
"That's hard to believe. You're still moulting." Grimironie hadn't wanted to be condescending, but it had slipped out.
Three turned back to the kettle and dropped in a handful of tea bags. "No need to go General Tso's on me," he said, "I know you're anxious."
"Sorry," she grumbled and sat down in her nylon port-a-chair. "So, what's your story?"
Billy-Ray MacHaggis III settled into his chair and passed her a cup of black currant tea. "It all started when I was twelve," he said. "I was at the salon getting my hair styled when the report came in on the radio: Death Chickens had taken over my neighborhood. I ran home to find my parents huddled behind a vat of hollandaise -they were in the egg industry- and our entire house was flattened. The neighbors didn't get away that easy. That was when I knew what I had to do..."
"Where was that?"
"Marsala County." he said. She was shocked. She had heard of that massacre. "I can still hear the drum sticks' rhythm as the local police tried to stop them. It was horrible. I guess that's why I went wild on Marsala the next few years. My parents finally sent me to a juvie camp, Soccer Mom's Black Angus Ranch in Texas. That was bad news. The place was surrounded by hell-hounds. I found Jaycinth then, devious seductress like a blackened grill. She showed me how to tie a roaster, and how to tie a lot of other things. What a riding crop can do! I tell you. She went through me like a chicken tender, and broke my heart. Sometimes, at night,I can still hear the crack of a whip and see the red eyes of a mutant chihuahua piercing through me."
Grimironie had heard stories about that place, and none were pretty. She looked at Three a bit differently. "I had no idea..." she started.
"That's okay," he said, "I'd rather not talk about it anymore."
She sipped her tea. "Early morning. Up before sunrise," she murmured, and slipped into her tent. When she woke before sunrise, Three was still in his chair and the fire was still burning.