Small was almost thankful that she had gotten herself worked up enough to pass out the day before. She was going to need every bit of energy she'd saved from that rest since her initial assessment, that planting the wheat would be difficult without any help, turned out to be far too optimistic. Still, despite the rejections she had suffered, the other farm animals did provide her with some help, though it was most assuredly not intentional.
Small's quest for assistance had started some sort of economic war between the different political factions. Each side had already staked out their own portions of the growing field, leaving Small with a smaller area for her to cultivate. None of the other animals had claimed Small's particular plot because it had been deemed a "Demilitarized Zone" in order to provide a buffer between the rivals. Also, the land was the least arable next to Katler's. The other factions had also taken all the tools, which meant that Small would have to till and plant her land with whatever crude instruments she could fashion. Figuring that some land was better than none, she got to work. When she finished, it was getting close to lunchtime, and since she was still a long way from getting bread, Small started over towards the feed silo on the other side of the field to find some corn. This would also afford her an opportunity to see how each political faction was doing with its cultivating. Small figured she would need the laugh.
"Don't bring your problems to me! If you can't find a way to plant the wheat then I will have you shot as traitors and then served as rations!" Bonaparte's loud bellow reached Small's ears as she neared the land that the communists had "liberated" for the next Grand Project.
"B-b-but we don't have any seeds! How can we plant without seeds?" The voice was new to Small, no doubt belonging to one of the farmhands Bonaparte had conscripted.
"You will either find a way to overcome, like a true communist, or you will simply find a way into our stomachs, like a true communist side dish." With those prophetic words, Bonaparte twirled about and exited the field, heading in the general direction of the PigSty for his pre-post-midday meal. The farmhands gawked after him and slowly sank to the ground as the realization of their fate hit them full force. Small felt sorry for the doomed farmhands and donated some of her extra seeds out of pity. They gave her silent a thanks—sudden bursts of noise would have made the PSP nervous and therefore trigger happy—then urged her to be on her way before any of the communists decided to conscript her as well. Small left, but not in any kind of hurry since no one ever noticed her unless she spoke first.
"Hey chicky! Long time no see!" No one, that is, except Rocky.
"Rocky," Small replied in mock surprise. "Shouldn't you be getting dru- I mean, managing a committee?" Rocky smiled one of his devious smiles at Small.
"Oh I've already got the committee up and going, but I thought I'd go ahead and start planting now. I'm sure they'll see my point of view and approve of it eventually, and it'll look good if I already have the project up and running."
"Who's that behind you?"
"Those are my farmhands. I had to raise taxes a whole three percent to afford them, but I think they'll be worth it, right fellas?" The farmhands in question didn't look much like farmhands to Small. Their hair was long and unkempt, they smelled like they hadn't bathed in months, and they were smoking something that was definitely not tobacco. They also didn't appear to be doing anything.
"When will you get around to doing some actual planting?" Small wondered.
"Well, they just got out of their criminal/drug rehabilitation program and the placement official told me not to push them too hard or else they might suffer a relapse."
"Right…I'll just be on my way then," Small put as much distance between her and the "farmhands" as possible, and did it so quickly that she reached the edge of the field, bumped into the mailbox, and was immediately deluged in a river of letters as the mailbox burst at its seams.
"Ah, those would be mine. Sorry about that." Emma apologized as she helped to dig Small out of the pile. Feeling obliged to Emma for her kindness, Small began to assist her with gathering up the mail until she made an unsettling discovery.
"Emma, these letters are signed in blood!" Emma gave a cursory glance to the mail and swallowed nervously before attempting to pretend the news didn't upset her in the least.
"Yeah, the investors can be so melodramatic sometimes. One little negotiating difficulty with the union and all of a sudden the world's coming to an end so lets all send Emma death threats signed in blood."
"What kind of difficulties could prompt this?" Emma shifted nervously again.
"Well it turns out this union has more of the government in their pocket than I do, and they want a spa attached to the production plant, but I don't have enough capital for that, so they've walked out of the negotiations, and the government is also investigating me for tax fraud related to the fathering of illegitimate kids. "
"But aren't you a girl?"
"Yes, I am. Trust me, you don't want to know."
"So what are you going to do?"
"I'll raise some more money. I bet after I raise enough the government will probably get off my back." Emma gathered up her letters and then wandered off without another word to Small, leaving her to walk the rest of the way to the corn silo, where she downed a few handfuls before it was time to attend to her field again. In order to avoid as many of the political factions as possible she took the long way back. Unfortunately, this also put her within observation range of Katler's own plot of land, where he was "indoctrinating" his farm hand "volunteers" from the back of a pickup. Upon seeing the large gun that was mounted in the bed of the truck Small dove for cover and decided she would get up and leave after this indoctrination was over.
"All of you know the reason why your race has called upon you. Now is a time of great upheaval in the Happy Sunshine Farm political structure. Fate has afforded us an opportunity to seize the demons by their throats and banish them from the world so that we might have the breathing space to create a New World Order, the likes of which have never been dreamed of before!" The farmhands didn't react all to the speech, since part of the volunteering process had involved getting bound, gagged, and clubbed over the head. One of the farmhands looked like he was semi-consciousness, but sounded like he was more interested in finding out why he had such a terrible headache.
"Wait a minute…that kitten…"
"And to ensure that you remain loyal, allow me to demonstrate what will happen to you should you stray from the path. Open Fire!" In the bed of the truck, one of Katler's Mewstappo pulled the trigger of the mounted .50 caliber machine gun. The cat, being only three or four pounds, was ill prepared for the ferocious kickback of the weapon and was flopped around in every direction as he desperately clung to hand grip to keep from being thrown off. Five or six of the other Mewstappo in the bed managed to grab hold of him, and together they brought the gun under control just as the ammo box emptied.
"Owww…." the volunteer who'd had the headache sputtered as he died. Every other volunteer was in the same condition, except for the lucky one or two who would live long enough to hear the end of Katler's speech.
"Let that be a lesson to all of you." Katler mewed confidently as his personal bodyguard drove the truck back to the barn. The last words Small heard Katler exclaim as he rounded the corner were: "Now get to work!"
That sounded like an excellent idea to Small. As a matter of fact, it sounded so excellent that she set a new land speed record back to her plot of dirt. Upon arriving, she set up and triple locked an electrified chain link fence, deployed barbed wired obstacles, sprinkled in a few tank obstacles, and got to work on her own field, vowing that she wouldn't move an inch until something resembling sanity had returned to the farm.
AUTHOR'S NOTES:Yes, you've finally gotten some fascist cats with guns, but the finale and the overall moral are in the third part, which should be ready soon. ;-)