"Burt…Tyler…" the all too familiar voice of the DOI agent in charge of the valley interrupted the
light and cheery conversation between the towns' residents with his own, less cheery and more
uncomfortable, tone. The aforementioned men turned in their seats.
"Hey, Twitch," Tyler replied. "Got another worm that needs hunting?"
Twitchell tugged at his tie nervously. "Well, yes, but that's not all."
Burt raised an eyebrow, "There's more?"
Twitchell cleared his throat. "There's a small island 'bout 200 miles off the coast of Oregon. The
island is home to two tribes, the Kiomanji, and the Hokumunja. They've been rivals for centuries but are finally beginning to overcome their differences. Now the leader of the Hokumunja has asked the U.S Government to send out a couple of men to ensure that the peace treaties go smoothly. Unfortunately, both tribes have no wish for U.S involvement, so the entire operation must be kept under wraps. Only the Hoku leader and his wife know about it."
"What, does this have to do with us?" Burt asked, interrupting Twitchell from his rather
annoying speech. He sounded like he was reciting the official document instead of just summarizing like he normally did.
"Thankfully the Hoku leader has come up with an idea to get us inside without any trouble,"
Twitchell continued as if Burt had never spoken. "He has spread word that his sisters' daughter has
decided to return to her ancestors' home and live with the tribe. The other half happens to be pure
coincidence. The Kio leader is also expecting a distant relative to visit. His brothers', daughters',
youngest nephew on her mothers' side. The government has convinced him not to visit so one of you can go in under his name. Since the two of them have never met or seen pictures of the other there should be no 'cause for suspicion. So you're to go in, make sure the peace treaties work out, take care of a graboid that has been spotted in the area, and get out."
"…So…you want us to go undercover, make peace, and kill a worm?" Tyler clarified.
"Pretty much, yeah."
"Why can't you send someone else to do the peace treaties?" Burt asked in annoyance. "Our job
description only includes graboids, shriekers, and assblasters, not peace makers."
"Yes, well, to make sure that the integrity of the mission remains intact they only want two
people to go in. So, since you guys are the best at killing worms and Tyler is a…good…actor…they want you to go."
Something in the way he said 'good actor' made Tyler feel uneasy. "What's the catch?"
"You said, 'good actor' like there was some kind of catch to it. What is it?"
"Ah, well," Twitchell gave a nervous laugh. "See, they're….expecting….a…uh…well……they're
expecting a man and woman. Not two men."
"….I gotta pretend to be a *girl*?"
"Uh! What's wrong with being a girl?" Rosalita demanded.
"W-Nothing," Tyler assured her hastily. The Latino just rolled her eyes in the other women's
"The pay's $10,000," Twitchell added, sensing the other men drawing away.
"10,000?" Nancy asked in amazement. "Wow, they really want that taken care of huh?"
"You guys should take it!" Jodi urged. The men just stared at her. "Oh, come on. I'm sure it
won't be that bad. So Tyler has to wear dress for a few days. It could be worse. And besides, we could
use the money."
"She's right," Nancy agreed. "We still haven't finished deepening the well either and we'll need
to get that done before the summer tour and survival school rush starts."
Burt and Tyler shared a reluctant look. It was true they needed to finish the well, as well as
several other bills they needed to pay. And $10,000 would take out a huge chunk of that, probably even all of it.
Tyler sighed. "Fine. We'll do it, but if I have to do anything other than wear a dress I'm out."
"Trust me, that's all you need," Twitchell promised.
"This is embarrassing," Burt grumbled, looking down at the strange colored leggings that just
barely reached his hips and the leather shirt that looked more like something Rosalita would wear.
"What the hell are you complainin' about?" Tyler asked from the bathroom. "You're not the one
wearin' a friggin' dress."
"It can't be that bad, Tyler," Jodi said. "Come on out and let us see."
"I would rather take the blame for breaking Betsy," Tyler said flatly.
Rosalita winced. "Wow that must be one heck of a dress."
Burt sighed and leaned through the door, grabbing Tyler's arm and dragging him out into the
The Hoku chief had specifically picked out the dress among the most common ones worn by
Hoku women. It was fairly plain, barely brushing against the floor and the sleeves reached clear to the end of his fingertips. It was made of a silky-type fabric of a beautiful amber color with a thin netting of light brown on top. A darker brown veil covered most of his face, leaving only his eyes and forehead exposed; and to finish, a pair of customary moccasins to cover his feet. Burt wore similar ones meant for men.
"Wow," Rosalita said, staring at him. "You look like a girl alright. A rather flat chested girl, but a
"Aw, you look so cute!" Nancy cried, grinning like a mother on prom night. Tyler just glared at
her through the veil.
Jodi giggled. "Ok you two. Smile for the camera!"
"What cam-?" the light flashed before Tyler could finish. "Gah, Jodi!" he rubbed his eyes to get
rid of the temporarily blindness.
"Ok, chopper's ready," Twitchell called, stepping into Nancy's living room. He started to say
something else but paused when his eyes landed on Burt and Tyler. "Well….you two look nice."
"Shut up," Tyler mumbled. He looked down at the dress. "Was it really necessary to put this on
*now*? It's going to be a pain wearing in the helicopter."
"Hey, just be glad you're not wearing high heels," Rosalita said laughing.
Tyler sighed. She had a point there. "But why does it have to be so long?"
"Hides your masculinity," Twitchell replied. He chuckled a little. "And seems to be doing a dang
good job of it too. And as for putting it on now, Chief Kumanju will be waiting for us when we touch down, so you'll have to be ready."
"Well, come on Tyler. The sooner we leave, the sooner we can get this over with and wear
normal clothes again," Burt said, patting him on the shoulder.
Tyler sighed again but didn't complain again as Burt picked up the last of the luggage and
headed out the door. The women said their goodbyes as they piled into the helicopter and watched
them disappear over the horizon. And even then Tyler swore he could still hear their giggling.