By the Disreputable Duck
[Warning from the Duck: this scene contains graphic depictions of a huge, spastic moth violating the Major. No, not THAT kind of violating! GAH! If you don’t like moths, or if you think I’m crazy, don’t read it, and please don’t complain! Run awaaay!]
Dorian Red Gloria, the Earl of Gloria, watched idly as his young nephew Philip puttered around the room. Being openly homosexual, Dorian wasn’t planning on siring a child, and was thus considering other possibilities for an heir. Philip was his sister Elizabeth’s oldest son, and a promising candidate. It was not often that he saw Philip, since the boy’s mother was always suspicious that Dorian would be a bad influence.
However, ten-year-old Philip was far more interested in his current hobby of pet bugs than in emulating his gay uncle. Dorian was hoping it was just a phase. He’d rather the next Earl of Gloria not be a bug geek.
Dorian could appreciate the brilliant beauty of a butterfly or the luminous wings of a moth, but he saw little to admire in caterpillars. On his weeklong visit, Philip insisted on bringing at least six of the horrid things, and something else concealed in a very large, brown cocoon. It was kept in a birdcage. Dorian didn’t want to think about what kind of insect would be large enough to need a birdcage as its housing. At least it didn’t move.
His blond head bent, Philip stuffed various sorts of leaves into the jars containing caterpillars, doting on them with attention that Dorian felt the nasty creatures did not deserve. Task complete, Philip then uncovered the Large Brown Thing’s cage. He yelped with surprise. “Uncle Dorian! It’s out! It’s out!”
“What’s out?” Dorian asked suspiciously.
“My moth! My Atlas moth!” Philip’s blue eyes were wide with delight. He shoved the cage in question under Dorian’s pretty nose. Perched on the bottom of the vacant cocoon was a moth with a fat red-brown body the size of a huge cigar. Though drying quickly, its wings were still wet and shriveled, and it looked rather hideous at the moment. Dorian recoiled appropriately.
“I see it, darling. Really. Just…fine…”
The boy babbled with joy. “I’ve been waiting so long for it to come out! It’s the largest moth in the world! Father had it ordered special for me! Wow! See its antennae? They’re really feathery—that means it’s a male! He’s so—”
“My lord!” Bonham interrupted from the doorway. “We—we have a bit of a situation downstairs…” He looked rather frightened.
“What budget has James cut this time?” Dorian asked, combing his fingers through his curly blond mane in exasperation.
“I-it’s not James…it’s…”
“I have no time for this foolish stalling! Send him DOWN!” the shouted order carried clearly from the entrance hall below. Definitely not James.
“Well, well. This is a first.” Dorian said, his lips curving in a delighted smile. “Let him know that I’m visiting with my nephew at the moment, but he is welcome to come up if he likes.”
“I don’t think we could keep him from it, my lord.” Bonham touched his mustache nervously.
“That’s what I’m counting on. Have him come to me. It’s a nice change from the usual, isn’t it?” He too could play at being rude.
“Aye.” Bonham muttered, unconvinced, and exited.
Dorian cheerfully listened to the stomping footsteps that were soon heard echoing up the castle’s stone stairs. Philip, absorbed in his moth, hadn’t paid much attention until his uncle’s visitor finally revealed himself.
“What the hell is the hold up?!” A tall, black-haired, black-scowled man stood framed in the stone doorway.
“Major! What a surprise!” Dorian fluttered his slender hands. “I’d like you to meet my nephew Philip. He’s visiting. Philip, this is Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach.”
“Is he your friend?” The boy asked, forgetting his manners in the German’s overwhelming presence.
Philip decided it was better to keep silent.
“Lord Gloria. I must speak with you,” Klaus said. A stern glance at the boy. “In private.”
“I’m afraid we’re a little busy at the moment. I don’t get to spend much time with Philip.” Dorian pretended to take great interest in the Atlas moth in its cage. Damn, but it was huge.
“Trying to corrupt the brat into being your heir?”
“It’s not my policy to corrupt family members. But I am considering him to be my successor.” Dorian held the cage up into the light. Klaus’ green eyes followed it, narrowing suspiciously.
“What’s so interesting in that verdammt birdcage?”
“A moth of Philip’s. His pride and joy. It, by the way, is the ‘hold up.’ Just emerged from its cocoon. Isn’t it fascinating?”
The Major strode into the room and seized the cage from Dorian’s hand, not even blinking at the sheer size of the moth within. Philip made a squeak of protest. “If it’s the problem, then I’ll just have to get rid of it.” He marched toward the open window.
“No! You mustn’t—” Philip cried.
“Wild animals belong in the wild!” Klaus lectured. Popping the lid off, he reached into the cage.
“A young boy like you shouldn’t be wasting both your time and mine playing with bugs!” Ignoring the boy’s protests, Klaus yanked out the moth by the base of its wing.
And then, all were horrified when the largest moth in the world unexpectedly sprayed Iron Klaus with a watery brown liquid, drenching the front of his shirt and tan suit.
There was dead silence.
Dorian had his hands clapped over his mouth. Philip gaped at his pet in terrified fascination. The moth, now completely dry and ridiculously fuzzy, flexed its twelve-inch wingspan prettily as it clung to Klaus’ wrist.
“W-was?” Klaus managed to croak, stupefied.
“That’s why I tried to warn you,” Philip said weakly. “It’s a defense mechanism that newly-emerged moths have. It won’t hurt you, it’s just...uh, gross.”
Klaus stared, transfixed in horror at the now placid creature on his arm. Dorian, as offended as he was by the Atlas moth’s “defense mechanism,” felt grudging admiration for the insect. He knew of only one other being who was capable of putting that stunned, stripped look on the Major’s face while remaining so calm and beautiful—himself.
Staring at the large stain on the Major’s chest, the absurdity of the comparison of the moth to himself hit him. Dorian had certainly never shot anything at the Major out of his backside! He forced back both nausea and a slightly hysterical giggle.
The Major was always quick to recover from both Dorian’s antics, and now the moth’s. “Get. It. OFF,” he ground out, looking as revolted as humanly possible. He resisted the urge to try to flap the offending creature off of his arm.
Recovering from his shock, Philip scrambled forward and plucked the moth gently off of Klaus’ arm. He reached for the cage that Klaus still gripped in his clenched fist, but after one look at the Major’s face, he wisely went and tossed the moth out of the window. The moth floated gracefully away on its magnificent spotted wings, barely escaping the birdcage that Klaus hurled out after it.
The crash the cage made as it hit the ground gave the Major only small satisfaction. He wheeled away from the window, fists clenched.
“Philip, go run and play,” Dorian hastily advised his potential heir. Needing no further encouragement, the boy fled the room.
“Well, Major, that was certainly educational. I didn’t know moths could do that. Did you?” Dorian smiled sweetly. “Welcome to my castle, by the way.”
“HOW can you allow your nephew to keep such a vile creature in your residence?!” the Major exploded. “HOW can you possibly consider a boy with such unnatural interests as your heir?!”
“A few minutes ago, he was a normal boy and I was the one with unnatural interests.”
“You still are!”
Whatever. Dorian couldn’t stand looking at Klaus’ soiled suit any longer. “Major, I can provide you with a shower and a change of clothes, if you like. If not…well, you could always say that you spilled Nescafe on yourself. That is rather what it looks like.”
The Major rewarded Dorian with a deeply disgusted look. “That is sick. Even for you.”
“I’ll go tell Bonham to prepare some clothing, then. I trust that your word with me that just couldn’t wait before can wait now?”
“You really have to ask? Idiot.”
Duck’s note: I have no idea whether Atlas moths actually can spray people. This scene was based on a rather memorable (horrible) experience my brother and I had with a couple of Sphinx moths. For various stupid reasons, I thought it would be better to make the moth in this scene an Atlas rather than a Sphinx. Seeing as how I have been unable to find any information of Sphinx moths being capable of spraying, even though I know full well that they can (shudders, remembering), I decided it was okay to fudge on the Atlas moth being able to. Well, now you know to never pick up a newly emerged Sphinx moth, and after reading this, you probably won’t mess with an Atlas, either. Most people wouldn’t do that anyway. So I guess that means I am crazy. ^_~