History Repeating, Part 7
See part 1 for disclaimers
Leela thrashed against whatever had entangled her in such a dark snare. Tumbling over her own legs, she found the floor.
Spitting purple hanks of hair from her mouth, she peered through the obtrusive darkness. A slight pain throbbed through her head and she groaned. To Leela's reckoning, it was sometime past midnight, and she had been asleep for over ten hours.
Fry and Bender have to be looking for us, she told herself. I'll just call them on my... a glance told her that her wrist computer was gone.
"Miss? Did you lose your balance?"
Leela struck out at the darkened shape, momentary panic overriding her curiosity.
"Ouch! Madame, you're hurting me!"
"Where have you taken Lisa?"
"What's going on?" Leela's shoulders relaxed; she recognized the voice coming from the pallet as being Lisa's.
"Your friend has spilled her soup."
"I'm not hungry," Leela said. "But I would like to know what's happening."
"To put it simply..." The shadow became a weight of flesh and bone as it moved toward the thin light pooling from a wall of sconces. "...We seek the assistance of the one you call Lisa. Our Chosen One."
Leela's hands tightened upon the pallet. "Chosen?"
Now she could see the greenish tint to the figure's lips; they were enormous on a shaggy brown body, eyes small and pink. Fearsome hands, equipped with amazingly long and sharp claws, hung down from gangly arms.
"You need to hear the full story of how Lisa was chosen to lead and guide our people. Come, follow me to the Great Library."
Lisa held no wariness; instead, with great pride, she followed in the steps of the fearsome creature.
Leela trailed more cautiously, her hand never wavering from Lisa's shoulder.
As the Bender-sled skidded into the Town Square proper, Fry braced himself for impact, locking his palms around the robot's visor.
"I can't see!!" Bender cried out, but then the force of Fry's weight sent them skidding. Bender's metal side spit sparks as it made contact with the street's cobblestones. His body took all of the weight of impact as it smacked solidly against a brick wall, arms and head compacting against the weight of force.
Fry blinked through clouds of dust; teetering on Bender's metal hulk, he held the delivery above his head. It was the only object around that had not been destroyed in the impact.
"Yes!" Fry yelped. "Bender, are you okay?"
"For my next trick, I need a giant chainsaw..." Bender ruminated, his pupils uneven.
"Woah, better re-boot you..."
"No, my construction is optimal...jerkwad." The robot stood, quickly unbending his compressed limbs with natural efficiency.
Fry shook his head to clear out his own dizzy head before studying the numbers painted above each door at the town square. The address on the package matched the one of a noisy tavern several feet before them. Fry dragged a still-discombobulated Bender toward the front door.
Inside, a number of different creatures drank and caroused. Fry ignored them all, placing the package upon the table with a wide smile.
The bartender looked up, at the package, then grinned. "My new tap!" he embraced it as though it were a long-lost child.
"Yes, that'll be six..."
"Did you see that it's the finest brass?" He ripped open the package, scattering foam packing peanuts across the bar. "And it screws in perfectly!"
"Yes, but I need..."
"Hey, if you don't have to do any driving, how would you feel about a fresh beer?"
Bender's hand slammed over Fry's mouth.
Lisa took in her surroundings with bald-faced wonder. They were clearly underground; moist, tan-colored rock bed surrounded them. The floor felt soft as beach-sand beneath her feet. A small number of torches threw spare light across the room, giving credence to the sight of flaming sand. The room she and Leela had been sleeping in opened into a long hallway lit by similar torches.
These creatures seemed retiring but happy in their universe, flitting through circular wooden doors bored into the surrounding walls. They shared the same appearance as their host, wearing heavy sweaters of a fluffy, wool-like material dyed in bright, jewel-like colors.
At the end of the tunnel a large door opened into a spacious library. Thousands of books lined shelves carved into the walls. At the very center of the room sat a closed book upon a pulpit carved of black stone.
The creature who had led them to the pulpit opened the book, then lifted out an instrument from its hollowed-out body. Lisa had never in her life seen such a grand thing; A guitar of innumerable strings, wider than Lisa's body, was laid at her feet.
"It is said in our holy scripts that the Chosen One will be able to play this divine instrument."
Lisa's expression turned sheepish, "I'm afraid that stringed instruments aren't my forte..."
"But they are, Chosen One. You only don't know it."
Leela pulled the elder aside. "What will happen if Lisa learns how to play the instrument?"
"She will be enshrined among the gods...and win this free book of coupons!"
"But if she doesn't..."
"Then she is a Pretender. She will spend her life in the Mines."
"But Lisa didn't claim herself to be one of..."
"She didn't, but she matches exactly the miniature of The Chosen One!" He held out a small porcelain circle...upon which a perfect image of Lisa had been etched in black. "We have looked for years for a girl who matches the face and form of our beloved Chosen One. The prosperity she could bring would lift generations!"
"Please, be reasonable; she's just a little girl!"
"You would be surprised what a little girl could do."
Leela couldn't argue that point. Her mind had moved to other, more practical ways of extraction. "You'll give us time?"
"At least a day."
He swept from the room, leaving Leela to plot and hope.