Putzenbleu France seemed one blue, begillion light years from Greenback, Tennessee and yet to Hans he somehow felt as if he'd just come in from the hay field.
His normally coiffed copper locks where now tassled about his face like the dung-twisted tails of the red oxen from the farm. Daggerfjord was all too familiar with the lousey backsides of those lumbering beasts as he had followed them on seeming interminable treks through the rolling hills and dales that were Greenback.
Plowing with a team of oxen was the only way to plant the pods he and his Father had experimented with as a new form of bio-fuel. The pods had to be planted deep, and so the oxen were used in conjuntion with over-sized plows to furrow rows the depths of the trenches of France from the battles of World War I.
As Hans looked around Putzenbleu, he noted that the landscape belied those battles of yester-year; this coupled with the horrific burden that he now shouldered was enough to elicit the memories of his time in the trenches of Greenback.
What they (Hans and his Father) found in their new fuel was just what they had hoped. Once ignited, the oils of the plant were clean burning and provided an incredible release of energy. Rapid decomposition of the highest order. The problem was not an instability during this gaseous expansion, but rather, an instability that existed in its steady state - at least where humans were concerned.
For you see, refined oils of the plant (distillation the preferred method for providing the fuel additive) proved unbelievably toxic to humans. One glance at the rising gases would cause the eyes to melt from one's head, and should the olfactory nerve sense any minute molecule - instant death.
They learned of the trouble on one hot August day. The oils do not become problematic until the plant (oragisidae oopsa-luksae, or "Uh-oh Orange" in the venacular of Greenback) has become mature. It was on this sweltering August day that the plant began to ooze oils from the ends of the tassled fruit it bears on its twenty foot stalks.
One of the farm hands, Shimmel "Shimmy" Platudinor had ventured out to collect some of the fruit for the laboratory of Hans and Germie Daggerfjord. The hot August sun caused one of the bulbous cob-like fruit to explode at the top of the towering stalk and basically atomizing the oil sending it spewing in all directions like an Italian prostitute.
This should have meant "curtains" for poor Shimmy, but luckily Shim had always had trouble "holding his water" during times of extreme duress.
"Mei eisse, mei eisse...dey burn, dey burn," Shim shrieked in his thick, brakish brogue.
The shrieks of Shim caused Hans to take pause from his morning shave. He liked to keep his beard neat, like his kilts. He wrote it off to those pesky Dalton street kids. They were always causing trouble.
"Mei eisse...dey burn, dey burn..." the shrieks now caught his attention. They sounded like an infected Edinburgh rooster.
At this point the excitement became far too much for Shim and his bladder burst sending urine into the air streaming from beneath his kilt like a loose fire hose at full pressure.
Urine, you see, is the only known counter-agent to the oils of the oopsa-luksae plant.
Fortunate for Shim, his normally unfortunate and embarrassing physcial condition neutralized the harsh alkalines of the plant oil...but it was the discovery in the burning of his eyes that opened the door to the alternative, more sinister nature of the compound. For in its inert, albeit heavily distilled state, the gas is not known as an octane boost for petroleum, but would come to be known by a poisonous alias - nerve agent XZ-27.
This plant had been sent to Shim originally as a food source by his beloved and eccentric uncle from the jungles of the Amazon.
"This my uncle", Shim related, "is considered somewhat of a holy man to the locals".
Shim's father had always said his brother was a bit of a hippie. Dressing in odd robes and wearing his beard like some beat poet of the 1950's - and then becoming a hermit in the Amazonian jungles...all too weird for the middle brother Platudinor - but he over-looked it all as all the Platudinor brothers were as tight as a cockelburra in a poodle's butt - and Cyrus "Platu" Platudinor loved his brothers as well.
This from a letterr attached to a crate of fruit-
"You must try this new corn I've found in the jungles. It is superior in all ways to what we have in Greenback. Kernals the size of an elephant's tooth, and the ears of corn like artillery shells I tell ya. A bit of an after-taste, admittedly, but man oh man...what flavor! Try popping it! I know we could sell it at the Greenback Carnival. One kernal could feed ten hungry kids, and imagine if you carmalized it. Gotta go. Love ya Bro!".
What could not be known by any at the time was the lethality from the combination of chicken manure fertilizer (Red Island Reds), the radioactive levels of Greenback soil (years baking in the hot, Greenback Sun) and the strange photosynthesis process inherent in the plant itself.
This perfect combination was the recipe for for an extreme weapon, and a powerful new fuel that was the answer to the prayers of a gas- starved nation.
Hans was startled from his memories of the farm by something that caught his eye in one of the distant trenches there at Putzenbleu...he could barely make it out. Was that?
"Eureka, IT IS ! "
There waving on a giant stalk was the all-too familiar umbre tassle of a mature oopsa-luksae.
Hans picked up Elsa and kissed her, deep. Real deep. He almost forgot about his discovery.
"Yeur kidz shood reeaaaly find zee ree-ume fer zat," Qusleau's words split the moment like one of Daggerfjord's engorged lips and the moment was forever lost in a provincial French sunset that slowly turned an amber sky first to violet and then to black in the tiny, tiny townlet of Putzenbleu.