The Other, Part 13
By Rye Guy
"What's happened?" asks Leela.
Rytt explains: "These are the ones unable or unwilling to fight. The injured,
the ill; men, women, and children. This has become their refuge from the seemingly
"But why did they all come here, to this city?"
"It is the only city left standing. We're not sure why, but they all herded
here like cattle to a field. The war left them all impoverished and unable to
afford even the basic essentials for life. So, we built our base here and for
once, we voted unanimously to do what we can to help them. That's why we ordered
these MREs. A cheap yet abundant food supply that should do."
"Have you tried reasoning with the armies?" asks Skyler with a tone
"They don't know about this place, and I doubt they even care. All they
care about is who wins. And both are willing to sacrifice anything to do so,"
Skyler grits his teeth and shuts his eyes at the sight. Leela watches out of
the corner of her eye. "What's wrong with him?" she thinks.
The elevator stops and opens to a large catwalk directly over the city. As
Korj and Rytt continue to lead the crew to the opposite end, they can't help but
look down to the sadness below.
There are two species inhabiting this city. One, the Jorians, are about 8 feet
tall with long elegant legs. Their faces resemble a cross between a bat and a
gargoyle. Deep red fur covers their bodies and two small pointed ears atop their
heads. The other species, the Stoathans, are more human-like but with a light
pink colored skin. Their average height is between 5 and 6 feet and they have
ears with three small points on each.
Both are coexisting well but they all live in poverty; wearing tattered and
dirty clothes and living in the old ruins of the buildings. Once at the end of
the catwalk, Skyler approaches Korj.
"How did all this start?"
"We are unsure of the details, but maybe someone down there may be able
to shed some light."
Skyler looks over and sees a ladder leading down to the city. He steps toward
it but Leela stops him. "What are you doing?"
"I'm going to see if I can find out what happened and if there's any way
I can help."
"Skyler, it's none of our business. They just got caught up in this war-"
He cuts her off, "War or not, no one deserves to live like this!"
With that, he climbs down the ladder.
Leela turns to the others, who are all staring at her in an awkward silence.
"What are you looking at? He'll be fine, now let's get this delivery over
with," she orders. Korj and Rytt lead them inside just as Skyler steps down
onto the street.
He looks around, observing his surroundings. There are Jorians and Stoathans
walking about, carrying on their usual business. He watches as a couple of Stoathans
dig through piles of garbage for food. He walks past and sees a Jorian and Stoathan
fighting in an alley as some others have gathered around them and are cheering
them on. An elder Jorian is lying in the street. The lack of food has left him
too weak to even stand on his own. Skyler takes the Jorian's arm around his neck
and helps him to his feet. A loud car-horn echoes through the streets as everyone
runs around the corner. He carries the old Jorian around the corner to see a multitude
gathered around a large hover truck. A Neutral stands atop the truck and tosses
the MREs out to the hungry crowd. The elder Jorian, seeing the food, suddenly
gets the strength to walk over and join the crowd on his own.
Skyler watches, almost in agony, at the sight. He sighs deeply. "I thought
I'd never have to see this again," he mutters under his breathe.
"That was nice of you; to help him up I mean," says a feminine voice
from behind. He turns to see a female Stoathan behind him. "No one around
here usually does."
"Well, I can't stand by and watch someone suffer when I know I can help.
It's not in my nature." He holds out his hand. "I'm Skyler."
She shakes his hand. "And I'm Arlia. What brings you here?"
"We're delivering some MREs. I mean to say the rest of the crew is; I
came down here to find out something."
"Maybe I can help. What do you need?"
"What happened here?"
She looks to the ground for a moment.
"You okay?" he asks.
She looks up to him with a solemn expression. "Come with me."
She leads him down the empty street to an old apartment complex. She pulls
back the veil door and shows him in. Inside, he sees an all too familiar sight.
From the dirt floors to the broken shutters on the windows; the cobwebs in the
corners and the furniture made of whatever material can be found.
"Here we are; this is my home," she says sounding ashamed. "I'm
sure you're used to much better conditions."
"You'd be surprised."
She gives him a curious glance. "I'll go make some tea."
She heads to the kitchen, leaving him in the room alone. He sees a shelf on
the far side of the room. Stepping to it, he sees a few framed photographs displayed
on it. One is a picture of Arlia with her arms around a male Stoathan around the
same age. Both look especially happy. Next to that is a picture of the same man
by himself. In front of that photo rests a small black box. He removes the lid
to see a gold pin inside. The pin is shaped like an angel holding a scroll with
an inscription that reads 'Always watching over you.'
Abruptly, an intense pain in his head causes him to drop the pin and its box.
Everything goes dark as he collapses.
A small boy runs after a taller silhouette ahead of him; a bright light surrounds
them. The figure before him is walking slowly and the boy is running to catch
up. But the faster he runs, the further away the figure gets.
"Daddy come back!"
The figure continues walking.
"Don't leave me! I don't want to be alone!"
The figure stops and slowly turns to him. The boy looks up with a smile. He
wipes the tears form his eyes and hugs the leg of his father's silhouetted form.
He looks up to see his father's smiling face, but quickly cowers as a hand reaches
down and grabs him by the throat. The boy struggles and squirms but can't escape
the hand's grasp.
"You're hurting me daddy!"
His father smirks and the boy's eyes widen in fear.
"You're not my daddy!"
The man throws the boy with force to the hard floor.
Skyler awakes and sits up quickly to see Arlia sitting in a chair across from
him. A pot of tea is set on a small table between them.
"What happened?" she asks.
He sighs "It's..." He looks up into her eyes and for some reason
feela as though he shouldn't tell her. "...Nothing."
In the cargo hold, Leela, Amy and Bender are helping Korj and Rytt load the
MREs onto the back of a large hover truck. Leela reaches up to grab a strap to
tie it down. It's just out of her reach so she hops a couple of times but still
can't reach. Amy comes from around the truck and stops her.
She stops. "What?"
"You shouldn't be doing that, not in your condition."
Leela stomps her foot. "Just because I'm expecting doesn't mean I can't
"I'm just trying to look out for you. You shouldn't even be here anyways."
She jumps up and grabs the strap. Leela slumps. "It's not that we don't want
you, we just don't want anything to happen to you." She hooks the strap to
a bar on the side of the truck. "Why don't you go rest?"
She reaches for Leela's shoulder but Leela slaps her hand away. "I don't
need rest! I need to keep busy so I won't constantly think about..." She
sighs and rubs the back of her neck to relieve the tension. "Look, I'm going
to go for a walk. I'll meet you back at the ship."
"Sure, see ya' later."
Leela turns and walks across the cargo hold to an elevator. Amy watches with
unease as the door close behind Leela. Bender hops off the top of the crate, landing
next to Amy.
"Where's she off to?"
"Bender, can you keep an eye on her please? I'll finish up here"
"Why should I? You're a girl, you go."
She folds her hands. "Please," she begs making a cut face and fluttering
He throws his arms up as he gives into her cuteness. "Alright! I'll go!"
"Yeah yeah. No problem," he mutters as he walks toward the elevator.
"Where did you say you from?" asks Arlia as she sits in a chair across
from the couch where Skyler sits, a small rickety coffee table between them with
some tea set atop it.
"Earth," he answers, taking a sip of the tea.
"I've heard of that. Nice place?"
"Tell me about it."
"Well, the skies are crystal clear blue. Cities larger than this with
buildings that reach up as far as you can see. Fresh air, green grass, and an
ocean that goes on forever."
"Reminds me of what this planet used to look like...back
before the war."
"How did it start?"
She begins explaining: "About fifteen years ago, The Jorians and the Stoathans
lived on separate worlds, galaxies apart from each other. But, due to overuse
of their planet's natural resources, both planets were deemed uninhabitable. Our
two species both require the same specific element to survive, a plant known as
the Velvet Rose. This plant produces an atom that, when mixed with oxygen, creates
the only kind of air Jorians and Stoathans can breathe. Both species searched
the cosmos for a planet that has an abundance of such a rare plant. And they found
this one. But the problem was that neither civilization wanted to share the planet
with the other and thus, a war broke out. It has grown worse over time. Those
of us who refuse to fight find shelter here. It's not great, but we survive."
"The Neutrals help out a lot, don't they?"
"Yeah. It's weird. Normally, Neutrals are indecisive. But these Neutrals
are different. They all come to unanimous decisions."
"War has a way of changing people." He takes another sip of his tea
and sets the cup down on the table. He glances over his shoulder to the pictures
and angel pin on the shelf behind him.
"His name was Jaeti."
"We were engaged to be married but never got the chance." She stands,
walks over to the shelf and holds the pin in her hand.
"He fought in the war?"
"No, he and I lived in here. He couldn't stand this war. He wanted to
bring peace to this planet. But, when he tried, he was accused of treason and
"He gave me this pin as an early wedding gift. The inscription was something
he always said. He promised that no matter where we were or what happened to us,
he would always be watching over me." She sobs.
He quickly gets up and comforts her. "I know it hurts. It's not your fault.
It's this damn war."
Leela walks down a long hallway. Windows line the walls, allowing her to see
out onto the planet's landscape. Some helicopters fly past as she continues walking.
Bender follows quietly at a distance. Snooping was his specialty, whether it be
blackmail or just for kicks. But this time, it was different. Everything was different
now. He follows her up a flight of stairs to the mess hall. Being so late, the
mess hall is empty. She grabs a Slurm from the vending machine and sits on the
window sill. Taking a sip of the Slurm as she stares out at the night sky; she
sighs and leans her head against the wall. She holds up her hand and admires her
engagement ring. Bender watches from around the opened door.
"This is a good a time as any I guess." He steps in and walks toward
Leela. Lost in thought, she doesn't even hear the clapping of his foot cuffs on
the hard tile floor. "I never thought I'd see the day."
Surprised, she jumps and turns to him. "Bender? Are you following me?"
"It was all Amy's idea. She wanted me to keep an eye on you."
She smiles. "Thanks."
Bender pulls a chair by her and sits. "I still can't believe that you
two actually got engaged."
"I know, pretty amazing isn't it?"
"Well, you have to see it form my perspective."
"What do you mean?"
"It was like clockwork everyday since he got rid of those worms. He'd
come home and lock himself up in his room to practice the Holophoner. I'd hear
him in there, stinkin' up the place, it sounded so awful. Sometimes, I'd hear
him through the walls; writing poems about you and stuff like that. He was so
sure that one day he'd win you over. I still don't see what kept him going."
She turns her face to him with a tender look. "It's called faith, Bender.
It's not meant to be understood. It's just meant to be had."
"You humans and your beliefs," he scoffs lightheartedly. "So,
you really love him?"
"There's just something I don't get."
"Compare Fry to all your other boyfriends. Alkazar, though a lying jerk,
owned a whole planet with castles out the wazoo. He could offer you wealth. Zapp,
though a pompous sex crazed blow heart, could offer you military power. Adelai,
though dull as cardboard, was a respected doctor who made lots of money and could
even give you two eyes. Chaz could have given you governmental power as the mayor's
aid. But Fry..." he thinks for a moment "...what can he offer you? He's
got a dead end job, he's not that smart, and he's a bit of a slob and a klutz."
"Bender, try and understand. Fry offers me more than all those guys put
together could have ever dreamed of. He gives me love, true love. He accepts me
for all that I am and doesn't judge me like everyone else does. His heart is always
in the right place and that, to me, is the best thing anyone can ever ask for.
With Fry I feel simple and clean."
"Simple and clean?"
"Let me try it this way. You know when you get real rusty and dirty, how
awful it feels. But then the Professor fixes you up, good as new."
"Well, that's how Fry makes me feel."
Bender scratches his head "I think I get it now."
They both gaze out the window and silence fills the room. Bender watches as
Leela pats her belly. "What do you think you'll name it? If it's a boy, you
should name him after me," he jokes,
She chuckles. "I don't know. I really want to wait for Fry to get back
so we can come up with a name together."
"What makes you so sure he's coming back?"
"Think about what I said about faith."
"Oh, right." The light from the stars creeps in through the window.
"So, what do we do until then?"
"I don't know. Everything's changed so much now...it's
getting late. I'm sure Amy's done loading the crate. Let's head back to the ship."
They leave the mess hall and find their way to the walkway that leads from
the cargo hold, stretches over above the city to the elevator. Amy stands there,
waiting for them.
"We need to find Skyler," States Leela.
"I just called him over the walkie-talkie. He'll be up here in a sec."
They hear the sound of someone climbing up the ladder. Amy turns and looks
down to see Skyler climbing up. He joins them on the walkway only to be greeted
with stern looks.
"And just where have you been?" asks Leela tapping her foot angrily
on the floor.
"I found out how all this happened. And I think I can find a way to help."
"I told you, this is none of our business! We need to go home now!"
"But Leela-" He stops as she give him a harsh glance. His head drops.
"Yes captain," he replies in a subdued manner.
Korj and Rytt exit from the cargo hold. Korj pats each of them on the shoulder.
"Thank you so much for this delivery. Now, allow us to show you to your ship."
He and Rytt lead the crew down the walkway to the elevator. Skyler looks down
to see Arlia watching him sadly from the street. Amy notices this but thinks it
best not to say anything. They reach the elevator and ascend to an empty landing
"What?! Where's this ship?!"
I know this seems to be going a totally different way than what you've all
gotten used to in the story so far. But don't worry. All this will add to the
main story. So bare with me when I say that everything in this story happens for
a reason and it will all come together in the end. Trust me on this and stay tuned
for Part 14...coming hopefully sooner than it took me to get
this one up...