Stranger In A Strange Land, part 4
By La Belle Leela
(Planet Express Ship, June 3, 3008 - 1730 NNY time)
"It really is beautiful, I don't
know why I never noticed before." Upon hearing Dave speak that
sentence, Leela stopped working and looked up. She suddenly
remembered saying the same thing eight years ago, when she & Fry
sought refuge inside the old Lunar Excursion Module on the Moon so
they wouldn't freeze to death. Dave had been standing at the ship's
forward window since they escaped Earth's gravity two hours earlier.
"You guys must be used to all the same scenery out there by now,
what with all the deliveries you make."
Dave stood there silently watching the
endless abyss of outer space go by. Leela noticed Dave was holding a
small silvery piece of metal on a beaded chain in his left hand,
"What's that?" she inquired. Dave explained to Leela it was
his father's old US Navy dog tag, which Dave kept on his person for
sentimental purpose. He told Leela, "Whenever I feel alone, I
like to hold it, it makes me feel a little better, almost like he's
here watching over me." Leela's face turned sad, remembering
Dave was 1,000 years in the future, and all of his family, and
friends from the 21st century would be long deceased. Leela tried to
turn the subject around a little, "Hopefully the Professor can
fix his matter transporter, to possibly return you to 2008."
Dave, still facing out towards space,
gave a small mournful sigh, closed his eyes, trying to do his best to
fight the burning feeling of sadness rising in his chest. "You
don't understand!" he snapped. he went on to explain to Leela
how he had watched his father painfully battle the aggressive cancer
that cut him down to nothing, how he had fought for two long years
before it took his life. He told Leela how the remaining members of
his family slowly drifted apart in the few years afterwards, how it
was getting harder to deal with his emotions, how he kept losing
jobs, having to move around alot, etc.
By then, Dave was sitting on the
flight deck floor with his back against the large front window of the
Planet Express ship. His hands, and arms were shaking again, he
clearly had been holding back alot of repressed anger, and sadness,
like a spring under too much tension. Leela knelt down beside Dave,
she gently placed his hands in her's, and spoke to him very softly.
"It's ok Dave", her voice quivering a little bit. Dave
began to feel as if maybe Leela understood what was tormenting him.
Dave looked up at her, he saw her eye watering up a bit, Leela looked
visibly upset. "I've never told anyone outside of Planet Express
this." said Leela. "I didn't even know I had parents until
a few years ago. I was going after who I assumed were two mutants I
suspected of killing my alien parents, leaving me to grow up in an
Orphanarium. I, I cornered them in the sewers, I came within seconds
of blasting them into oblivion. If Fry hadn't been there to stop me,
I never would have known the truth, and have never known my parents.
Dave's face drained of it's color, and
in a cracking voice he added, "If he can't fix that machine,
then I'm stuck here right?" He was beginning to sob a little
now, "and I never got a chance to say goodbye to my Mom, or my
brothers, NO ONE!" At this point, Dave had lost it, the coiled
spring inside him broke! Leela put both her arms around Dave's
shoulders, and pulled him close, and he put his around her midsection
in a tight embrace. Dave hadn't hugged anyone like this in a very
long time. He now knew Leela understood what he was going through,
and perhaps he thought, she needed the hug too, after opening up
those old wounds from her past.
An alarm on the flight deck sounded,
they were approaching the security perimiter around The Metalon
System. The video screen in front of the control console where Leela
sat flared to life. "Identify youself, your ship, and your
intentions!" barked the long-haired, leather-clad commander.
"Captain Turanga Leela of The Planet Express ship, delivering
raw materials for Metalon-6.", "Very well, your security
clearance checks out, you have been cleared for approach, and are
instructed to land at receiving bay 309A." The Planet Express
ship began to shake slightly, indicating they were decending into the
denser atmosphere of the planet, just picking up a little bit of
turbulence as they flew through the mass of towering grey/black
clouds that spewed from the barren landscape, dotted with volcanic
The flight deck of the Planet Express
ship glowed an eerie red/orange from all the fiery eruptions going on
down on the surface. The inhabitants of Metalon-6 were highly
industrious, and had harnessed the power of the planet's molten core
to power their massive factories. No other planets in The Metalon
System produced the incredible amounts of raw materials needed to
keep their production facilities running, so they were entirely
dependent on importing raw materials from outside the system. Their
war with the Country/Western Federation of Planets didn't help
either. The CWFP did all they could to divert any shipments of goods
to Metalon, in a effort to economically crush them into submission.
With a sharp jolt, Leela landed the
ship at bay 309A. Fry and Bender staggered into the flight deck,
still yawning, trying to wake up. "OK, this shouldn't take
long," Leela said, "we have a full cargo deck, but if you
two use both hover-dollies, we should be outta here in no time."
About the time that Leela finished giving her crew instructions, the
door slid over, Dave walked back into the flight deck. "Is there
anything I can do to help Captain?" Fry and Bender started
looking around the room, as if Dave was talking to someone they
couldn't see. "He's talking to me you idiots!" snapped
Leela. "Well Dave, if you feel up to it, you can help Fry and
Bender offload the cargo." Dave gave her a little grin, "No
problem Captain". Remembering they were in a war zone, Leela
reminded everyone to be on guard, Fry tucked a phazer pistol into his
jacket, Dave strapped his .45 into the holster under his left
shoulder, and two full magazines into the pouch under his right. He
carried four additional magazines in the rear pockets of his jeans,
and carried extra loose ammo in the front pockets. Leela, Fry,
Bender, and Dave walked down the front steps of the ship, and were
greeted by the receiving bay supervisor. Leela handed him the ship's
manifest, the supervisor glanced at it, "Ahhh, 2 tons wood, six
tons steel, and 300,000 blank audio discs! Unload everything there"
as he pointed to the side wall of the bay.
Their delivery complete, Leela &
crew buckled in for the journey home. Just as the Planet Express ship
was nearing Earth's outer atmosphere, the ship suddenly lurched
violently. Bender and Fry came stumbling onto the flight deck, Bender
being especially angry "What the hell Leela? Fry n'me were
settin' up a whiskey still in the engine room!" Having been
suddenly thrown against the control console, Leela had the wind
knocked out of her a little. "It wasn't me! I didn't do that!"
she angrily retorted. A video screen behind Leela flipped on, and a
familiar, oily voice of a person she truly despised filled the cabin.
"Brannigan!" hissed Leela angrily!