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Grasshopper And Gadfly

Grasshopper and Gadfly (part 1)
D'Alaire — 13 Sep 1998, 7:19 PM

Madame D'Alaireux shielded her eyes against the hot sun with the half-moon blade as Kes and and the others took off into the great expanse. Looking again to Quai-chang Kim, she gave a single, appraising nod. "Come, dear, I think it's time."


"Yes." Turning, she snapped her fingers. "Timmy, get me my robe. And--"

"Uh, but it's not pressed yet."

She sighed quickly. "Just get it. Baktag! Yes, you p'tahk! Bring...the Maker."

Quai-chang turned his emminently peaceful yet slightly curious stare her way. "What is...p'tahk?"

"To tell you, dear, would be more a burden than is worth. Now, come, let us sit." They did by the fire, and moments later the strange little creature brought forth an hourglass-shaped metal container, with what looked like a handle on the side, and a tin.

Quai-chang watched intently--trying at the same time to avoid the view of the effects of her very ususual corset. She placed a soft powder in the middle, water in the bottom, and, screwing it together, set it on the nearby fire.

"What is it? A food?"

"This," Madame D'Alaireux said, suddenly sedate, her unusual...wrinkles softened by her pleasant state, "is the Maker. Within it is the spice. It creates the water of life."

"That water of life?"

She blinked. "Oh, sorry. Wrong dimension. This, Quai-chang Kim, is Maker of Java. It will help you see many things. It will help you find your brother. Do not be frightened, it's perfectly harmless."

Quai-chang watched the steam begin to spurt from the nozzle on the side of the maker, and drank the smell through his nostrils, a deep, rich, pleasant odor. He considered it. He smelled again. A trace of a grin flickered upon his lips.

He bowed to the lady at his side. "I would be happy to share Java with you," he said respectfully.

Baktag then returned with a miniature place setting, which he placed, quick yet careful, before the lady.

He watched still as her well-groomed hands carefully layed out their places, the tiny white cups with "Café" etched on the side, the tiny spoons, sugar and napkins. Then she took the sputtering Maker from the fire and poured.

It was a black liquid, rich, thick, with an oddly irresitable scent. Quai-chang felt his senses come alive with only the smell. He paused, hesitant at first. But seeing her stir in the sugar and a dab of a brown powder from a small bag on her belt -- "Nutmeg," she said it was -- he followed suit.

She sipped, then smiled, breathing in its aftertaste, sighing, "Ahhhhh," and closing her eyes.

Quai-chang Kim watched this, then picked up his cup. Softly, he sipped, and the dark taste spread over his tongue. He took another sip, and drew a long breath. Suddenly, consciousness flooded over and through him, and he turned his eyes to the bright blue sky...

"Madame D'Alaireux," he breathed, "I can see...I see...so_many_things."

Slowly, wisely, she opened her eyes, and a curious smile found her full mouth. "And what is it that you see, Quai-chang?"

Grasshopper and Gadfly (part 2)
D'Alaire — 13 Sep 1998, 8:08 PM

The winged creature sat upon the Siameese cat. The cat seemed not to notice. Drip, drip -- the sound of the slow fountain, and the grasshopper making trails as it crawled out from its shore. The cat watched that instead, still. The winged creature sat contentedly for it.

"Master, what is the winged creature doing to the cat?"

"It is feeding. It bothers little, but sucks the fluid of life from others around it."

"But why, Master?"

The old man smiled softly. "To survive. It is its nature."

"Grasshopper! Grasshopper!" cried another little boy as he scampered into the garden. "You wanna play checkers now?"

The cat, startled by the sudden sound, jumped up, and the winged creature flew away. The cat pounced on the grasshopper and gobbled it up in two bites.

Grasshopper winced. "Gadfly, you have disturbed so much."

Gadfly gulped. "Sorry."

Grasshopper looked up to the old man beside him, whose mouth had uncharacteristically turned inward -- for a moment. "Master, will the creature starve now?"

The old man paused. "He will find other creatures to feed upon."


Another sip of Java, and Qwai-chang's face soon contorted, and he shook his head, breathing deeply, seeing...But he could not speak.

Several minutes later, Qwai-chang opened his eyes to see Madame D'Alaireux's dark stare pinned upon him.

"He feeds upon those who have captured him," Qwai-chang told her. "They are a group with little intelligence and...bad hair."

The lady nodded slowly. "You must go to him, Qwai-chang, before they swat him for good. It is time for us to part ways. It is meant to be."


She watched Qwai-chang walk slowly off towards the river, his calm yet steady gate a mezmerizing one. She smiled, hoped the man would find his destiny, then turned back to the men she'd put to work, drawing down the tents, folding up the ironing slate and hooking up the wagon.

She felt a need to go to town. Closing her eyes in the remianing haze of the Java, she saw ropes. Ropes of pleasure, ropes of pain. Tangled, a web of life that was and was yet to be. It might be interesting to watch, she'd concluded.

Turning, she hooked a long, crooked knife on her belt, and threw the strap of the half-moon blade over her shoulder. Looking out onto the plain once more, seeing the form of Qwai-chang Kim rippling in the heat of the day, she knew it would not be the last she saw of him.