Monday, November 14, 2016

From The Files of Queen Okk-Okk (Short Story)

Since I wrote this story in 2006 or 2007, it has appeared under several titles, including "Concerning the Grasshopper Flintwing," "Concerning Flintwing," and "From The Secret Files of Queen Okk-Okk."

Whatever the title, the premise is the same.  It's Aesop's old fable about the ants and the grasshopper with a dystopian slant; the ants here are cold, calculating imperialists whose only goals are the extraction of resources and the expansion of territory; the grasshoppers are free creatures whose home is being taken from them.

This is probably one of the few early stories I'm really proud of.


CONFIDENTIAL
The following is to be viewed only by the Queen and those selected as personal attendants to the Queen.
All in violation are to be stung and thrown into the waste pile.

CONCERNING THE GRASSHOPPER FLINTWING
The excerpts herein are compiled from the logs of officials in the court of Queen Okk-Okk during events concerning the grasshopper Flintwing and his family, whose degenerate ways caused much consternation to our glorious queen.

Date: D-7 Okk-Okk 5
A scout seeking new lands for food gathering in sector 5 on the frontier of the empire was repelled by a grasshopper.  Upon following the scout's scent trail, an expedition party was confronted by the same insect.  A struggle ensued, during which three of our workers and the grasshopper in question were killed.

Scouting mission was successful.  New lands rich in food and devoid of social insects have been found.  These will prove vital in furthering the empire.

Date: D-9 Okk-Okk 3
A routine food-gathering party in sector 5 was accosted by three grasshoppers.  These non-social savages, who made no good use of the land and have no concept of property or society, have been so bold as to challenge our claim to the land, claiming it was not land meant to be owned but shared.  Our soldiers quickly dispatched these three savages.

Date: D-9 Okk-Okk 21
The grasshoppers, who up until now have shown no capacity for organization and leadership, appear to have rallied around a certain grasshopper named Flintwing.  They have demanded that we either share the land or leave.  They claim our workers have harvested more than necessary to survive, and that our efforts are stripping the land bare.  We do not suspect these insurgents are capable of inflicting a great deal of damage upon the interests of our colony; harvesting will continue as usual.

Date: D-11 Okk-Okk 7
A massive surprise assault was mounted by a grasshopper-led coalition.  Included in the assault were millipedes, stink bugs, and ant lions.  Nine hundred workers and soldiers on a routine harvesting mission in sector 5 are dead.  The queen and her command are all concerned that this Flintwing may be a more formidable commander than previously suspected.  Harvesting in the hostile territories continues.

Date: D-11 Okk-Okk 13
The oak tree near the home mound fell today, crushing the mound flat, and caving in more than nine meters of tunnels.  Queen Okk-Okk has survived unscathed, we shall continue to fight.

The grasshopper Flintwing has apparently made some alliance with the termites in sector 1, far too close to the home mound.  Not only has this alliance come as a shock, as no social insects in sector 1 have ever had any such luck resisting our presence, but news of this alliance has come too late for more than ten-thousand of our workers and soliders.

Date: D-19 Okk-Okk 6
After some days of fierce fighting, the grasshopper Flintwing today requested to parley.  The queen and her soldiers obliged, with the condition that Flintwing come alone.  The savage Flintwing was then seized and stung nine times.  His body has been placed in the nursery as sustenance for our larvae.
The grasshopper-led resistance without its leader will almost certainly become demoralized and disorganized.

Date: D-35 Okk-Okk 8
The grasshopper savages have successfully driven the last of our workers and soldiers from sector 5.  Our losses have become so heavy as to exceed our queen's birth rate; there are additional regions nearby that have not been so thoroughly explored which may provide sustenance without the massive organized resistance.

INSTRUCTIONS FROM QUEEN OKK-OKK
From the queen herself, and ratified by her advisors:
The name of the grasshopper Flintwing is to never be uttered outside those trusted with these archives.
There shall also be no mention of a coalition of grasshoppers or their allies; all imperially-sanctioned re-tellings of the story must feature one grasshopper and must feature the victory over him as an easy victory with no ant deaths.

ADDENDUM: D-55 Okk-Okk 14
In the interest of preserving morale and instilling a sense of superiority and purpose in our workers, the story of this unnamed grasshopper will now be changed into a parable about the work ethic; no longer is the unnamed grasshopper to be a fighter against us but a buffoon and a freeloader who failed to understand the value of the work ethic.  All workers are now required to know this version of the story from start to finish.

ADDENDUM: D-79 Okk-Okk 23
In the interest of preserving the reputation of the colony outside the mound and thereby gaining trust in neighboring sectors with the less civilized species, all versions of the story in which the grasshopper dies are hereby banned; the story shall now end when, at the approach of winter, the grasshopper is near starvation and is taken in and fed in an act of mercy by the colony.  The grasshopper then learns the error of his ways and adopts ant-like qualities in his lifestyle, becoming more civilized.

The Queen and her court believe this version of the story provides a good balance of a message of moral superiority for the colony and a message of good will for the inferior species in the various sectors of our empire.  If we can gain their trust, they would not resist even if we were to strip their sectors completely bare.

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