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Grasshopper And Gadfly

Grasshopper and Gadfly, part 4
D'Alaire — 16 Sep 1998, 10:09 PM

Qwai-chang held onto Harry's arm, draped over his slim yet strong shoulder. "I will find a doctor for you. We will get to town."

"Thank you, Grasshopper," Harry gasped, feeling his beaten eyes roll back into his head.

The wiser man grinned. "You may call me Qwai-chang, Harry." Harry nodded, then his head slumped, and his brother gently turned and hauled him up onto his shoulder. Turning again towrds the way Harry had pointed them -- towards Voyager City -- Qwai-chang set off again.

The sun had begun to set, and Qwai-chang breathed a sigh of relief at the passing heat. Harry was getting a little heavy, despite his extrordinary physical training...

But Master, how can I traverse the moutain with six water pails on my shoulders?
Will the water not be spilt?"

The old man smiled. "You must use the Force, Grasshopper."

"The Force? What is that?"

The old man scowled a bit, bit the inside of his lip. "Forgive me, Grasshopper.
Wrong lifetime and galaxy. Use you inner sense of balance and oneness. Feel
the water, do not just carry it. Feel it as a part of yourself, and your burden will

Qwai-chang took a deep cleansing breath and tread into the hard prairie earth with renewed determination. Gadfly is a part of me, he remided himself...even if Gadfly smelled like the beasts that had held him captive. He tried to will the stench away, then wrinkled his nose.

Perhaps a moment of prayer.

Setting Harry gently down, Qwai-chang breathed deepely the fresher air, and prepared himself for a meditation. But before he could balance himself on one arm, a wagon appeared over the ride, lazily approaching. Qwai-chang waited to see if it would stop.

It did.

"Hey there, buddy," said the man from under a black derby. Reaching into his brightly striped, tailored vest, he extracted a toothpick, which he set between his teeth, eyes shining as he looked at the man. "Need a lift?"

"I would be, grateful," Qwai-chang answered. "My brother is injured, he needs, medical attention."

"Well," said the man, "Let's haul him up and we'll talk about the rest, okay?" He jumped deftly down from the wagon--"Man, he got pretty smashed up"-- and helped Qwai-chang lift Harry into a nook between the crates in the back. "Merlot," the man explained. "The Madame hates it when we run low."

Qwai-chang nodded and accepted with a bow his seat beside the well-dressed man, who clicked his teeth, rapped the reigns, and started them off again. "How far are we from Voyager City?"

"It'll take all night, get there by late morning. No bother, it's an easy trail, and the lamps do the job."

"My brother...I have no money. But I will work to repay his treatment."

The man beside his smiled then, showing his teeth as he turned a sparkled eye to his companion. Sticking out his hand, he gave a sharp nod when Qwai-chang took it. "Rocky Bigsadawoluous," he said, grinning still. "But everyone just calls me Max. And you have yourself a deal. I'll get your brother fixed up. No problem."

Qwai-chang returned a placid smile. "Thank you...Max."

tbc (hope you don't mind, Mr. Mac!)