Three rose from the hot spring. He flicked back his hair, and the droplets of water glistened like crystals against the sunrise.
"Hiya kids, har har," Crispy laughed. Grimironie jumped. She hadn't even heard his ATV approach.
"What are you doing out in the field?" she asked, "I thought you gave up overtime."
Three walked over in his bathrobe and squatted on a rock. Crispy coughed. "Yeah, well, ducklin', I got a little inside info. Word on the street is, well..."
"Bauer's been recruitin'. He's buildin' an army they say."
"Aye, there, yanno, I got my sources. You just watch yourself."
"Give me a little more. I can't do much with that."
"It's an army of Porks. Tha's what I hear."
Grimironie's jaw dropped. Her years of paranoia had come to fruition, and she had been right all along. "Oscar Mayer!" she cursed.
"Worse," Crispy said. "Think bigger."
* * * * * * * *
The crack of the whip urged the men onwards until the grand oak creaked and uprooted. They pushed the fallen tree into a pit where it smoldered. A score of pigs turned on rotisseries above the burning trees: food for the men.
Bauer stood above the sty and watched the form within the mire writhe and struggle. As it rose from the dung, it looked more like a man. Bauer slapped his hand upon the being's face, leaving his mark. The mark was clear; it identified his minion. Each minion bore the same mark: Pigsy Porkster. The Pork rose and glowered. Bauer smiled.
* * * * * * * * *
Grimironie and Three doubled surveillance and shortened their trips. She took seismographs each hour, and Three set up booby-traps around their camp each night.
He climbed into her tent. "If this ends badly," Three said and paused poignantly, "I just want you to know, you can count on me until the end. The very end. The last, final end, for example, if you or I die, I'll be fighting. I'll baste until the last clove is gone. You know what I'm saying? The End. Fine'. Caput. Un gats. No more."
"Okay," she said. She got the point. "But let's not plan on that." Three smiled. She continued, "Tell me about your marinades."
"Now we're talking business," he grinned. "I want to first say a few words about extra-virgin olive oil..." He relayed his innermost seasoning secrets into the wee hours. When she closed her eyes, a few hours before sun-up, she knew that she had found a real partner, someone who knew when to use fennel, and when to opt for thyme.
Her plan just might work.
* * * * * * * * *
They pushed on into the wilds of Wisconsin. Occasionally, locals would emerge from their quaint ranches and wave. Now and then, they'd see a D.C.D.A. flag raised alongside a Packers flag in someone's front yard. The people were behind her, at least in a secondary fan incarnation, and that was enough.
They turned into a large field, and twenty-plus choppers descended. Grimironie swallowed hard, but saw Crispy's private helicopter and regained her composure. Gristle's chopper landed nearest to them. She and Three stood upright, shoulders back, and did their best to look intelligent, yet hip.
"Your samples have rendered some interesting results," Gristle said, staring meaningfully into their eyes. He handed Grimironie a spreadsheet. It showed that gas prices were certain to go up, and that the chickenfeed had been laced with Wellbutrin.
"Should I turn in Mongoose for a green ATV?" she asked.
"That can come in time," Gristle instructed. "What you need to find out is why Poultreus is calming the Death Chickens."
Indeed. Excel never failed.
D.C.D.A.'s from her base and afar assembled in a line, and the choppers took off. She saw Maestro, clad in a chic Hawaiian shirt and Ray-bans. He approached her with a Hawaiian surfer boy. She nodded. The surfer spoke: "I've brought an army from My Island. We're willing to fight with the famed Grimironie Von Farmer, and kill the Porks." Maestro nodded his approval.
"Will you fight my enemies? Why should I believe in your allegiance?"
"Ha!" he laughed. And looked towards the sky. "Did you hear that, Pele? She asks for my allegiance!" He turned back towards her. "The lava flows south, and you hate agent scams. That is enough for me. Besides, I've seen you on cable. I can tell you're good people."
Three gave her a quizzical glance.
"All right then," she said, "if you say so." She knew it was lame, but she had a really bad cramp and wanted to get moving again. She jumped on Mongoose and drove back and forth in front of the hundreds of D.C.D.A.'s and surfers who had come from afar.