"Before I go back out in the field, there's something I've gotta do. I think you know what it is." Grimironie said.
Chief Kalel stopped shucking peanuts - he was making Peanutty Thai Kabobs for the company bake-off that evening, his specialty - and gave her a knowing look. "All right. I'll have to get clearance. Give me a few minutes"
* * * *
The pneumatic doors locked behind them. Chief Kalel led her down a series of corridors, and flashed a card in front of a sensor. She heard seven unseen bolts snap back, and the door opened. The room was vast and poorly lit.
"He's a deep sea lobster;" Kalel whispered, "he doesn't like bright light." They entered. Grimironie saw a mammoth tank on the far wall; it had to be at least forty feet wide and fifteen feet tall. As she neared, she saw the giant crustacean, a top secret relic from the Gulf war.
He wore computerized head gear, and lay immobile on the bottom of the tank.
"Over here," Kalel whispered. He motioned towards a wall-mounted computer unit. She saw the speaker, but jumped when something warm shook her leg. A small dog had his paws around her calf, and was attempting unspeakable things. "Be gentle. That's Burty, davids's dog." She squirmed away and approached the speaker.
"Good evening davids." she said. She knew she had to show paramount respect to such a graceful lobster.
"Goodifericus eve, nubile visitor," davids computerized voice responded, "the pleasurification is all Burty's, or should I say, mine. Turn a 360 please."
"Next time wear leather and bring me bounties of beautification from beyond, in so much as to say, bum, bum, sweet copies of Field and Stream, dear lady!"
She was astounded. He was wiser and more syllabic than she'd ever expected. Surely, davids would guide her in her quest.
"I am hunting Capon Frank. Can you give me any guidance?"
The pause made her nervous. Had she asked too much of this delicious prodigy? She was about to apologize for her impudence when he answered.
"I must respecticate my fellow non-humaesque personages," davids said, "but if such a woman-warrior who deservicates my help asks, I can not refuse, unless you know another giant lobster of the female persuasion who might abodeify my tank... okay. I, the great seer of sonambulating seafood delectibility confess: you shall find him, but to the prudifi- purified loverliness of your heart, shall set him free, if not to appease my lustrous and wealthy claws. He summers in Wisconsin."
Bingo! Time to hit the Wisconsin Trail.
* * * *
She didn't go home that night, didn't want to lose her focus. She set up the cot in her office, and pulled the spare rubber duck patterned jammies that she kept in her locker. The wall behind her desk was a mass of newspaper clippings and glossy photos of Death Chickens who met their ovens long ago. She clapped her hands twice. The lights shut off.
"Not joinin' the bake-off, duckling?" Crispy said. She snapped her head around.
"How'd you get in here?" Crispy hovered several inches off of the floor. It couldn't be. "Crispy," she gasped, "you're not... you haven't...?"
"It's nothin' like that," he smiled and held up his wrist, "got me a nice holograph phone! Pretty snazzy, eh? Now ya call me if yer missin' me out in the field. I'll be thinkin' aboutcha." He looked to his left and winked. "Gotta go. The Chief's got his kabobs out."
"Okay Crispy," she sighed.
* * * * *
She'd repacked, but she was stalling. The insurance company replaced Ole... gave her a new ATV, but she couldn't bear to see it yet.
Handy Manly stomped into the office and looked around. He approached after he spotted her in the corner. "New marinade. Special recipe." he grunted. "You get this capon, then use this." He shoved two-liter bottles into her hands and grinned vapidly.
"What is it?" she gaped.
"Beet-root! Tell no one!" He turned and pranced back into the kitchen.
"Beet-root," she mused, "exotic and unexpected!" She always had a soft spot for borscht. Maybe Crispy was right about him afterall.
She braced herself and opened the door. Three was fastening supplies onto his ATV. When he saw her, he stepped back to reveal Ole... her ATV's new replacement. It was slick with chili pepper red paint and gleaming chrome. On the side was airbrushed...
"What is that? A squashed gopher? A shadow ferret?"
"It's a mongoose," Three explained, "they kill snakes."
She smiled. "I like that. How about Death Chickens?"
"If they haven't before, they will now."