Brad Charte was more-than ready for Leave! After arriving on the planet with several fellow crewmembers, he rented a pod and flew to the motel he'd rented for the week. After checking in and dropping off his luggage, he decided to go for a flight in the pod before having dinner.
His flight was quite relaxing. The planet was a fairly beautiful world, slightly smaller than Orrion Delta 2, his home planet. There were lovely meadows, forests, rivers, streams, and hills, with very little civilization other than small towns, an occasional cabin, and some villages that were populated by indigenous races.
Towards dinnertime he stopped at a small town. After doing some sightseeing and shopping at the town's open-air market, he went inside a restaurant for some zappi and beer.
After dinner, Brad flew back to his motel. He watched some videos before heading to bed.
The next morning he showered and dressed, then went out for breakfast. He went to a local museum and spent hours there. For dinner he had cheese meat rounds and spicy meat soup. His beverage was beer.
He slept in the next day, waking up around 10. He decided to fly around the planet and visit a forested area he'd spotted on his flight the first day. He'd seen a village abit 2 hours away to the north with what looked like a communal garden. An avid gardener in his spare time, the garden had piqued his interest.
Brad enjoyed his scenic flight in the mountains and surrounding valleys on his way to the village. He enjoyed flying like this while on Leave. As much as he loved living in and flying in space, he thoroughly enjoyed flying around planets, seeing the different landscapes and learning about the planets.
As he flew over the village of huts, he saw a crowd beating a young woman. He quickly landed the pod, then ran to her aid.
“Hey hey hey! Leave her alone! Back away from her!”, he demanded, pulling her to him for safety.
“What did she do wrong? Why are you all attacking and beating her like this?”, Brad asked the villagers, quickly assessing her injuries.
”She stole from the communal garden! She stole corn and potatoes from the communal garden!”, the man said.
“If it's a communal garden, that means it's for everyone, including her.”, Brad replied.
“No! It does not mean her!”, one woman shouted.
“Well, did she plant any of the stolen vegetables for herself?”, Brad asked.
“Yes, but she's not entitled to them. That is for us. She's not entitled to anything.”, someone else said.
“Well, what about meat and other foods? How do you all get of that, other than going hunting?”, he asked.
“The planetary government brings us those items because we are indigenous. They bring her one as well. But we take most of it. We give her some. She's not entitled to the food they give us.”, a man said.
“Well, I would think your planetary government would be quite upset knowing you're stealing from her, not just in what they give her, but what she had planted for herself in the communal garden.
”Not to mention the fact you were attacking her and beating her for picking her very own vegetables that she'd planted for herself.”, Brad said.
He turned to her and asked, “Is your husband here to protect you?”
“Her husband's been dead for four years already.”, someone said.
“What's your name, Miss?”, Brad asked gently, wiping her tears and further inspecting her bruises. She was physically trembling.
“She doesn't speak. Her name is Neelah.”, a man said.
“Neelah? You're not able to speak? Did you ever speak?”, he asked her tenderly.
“She did before husband died. She doesn't speak anymore.”, another man said.
“Well then, since she's a widow, you all should be willing to help her to make sure she has enough to eat, and anything else she might need.”
“No! Not for her. We don't do that for her. She's not entitled to our help!”
“And why is she not entitled to your help, to her entire food distribution from the planetary government, or even to her own vegetables which she herself specifically planted?”, he asked.
“She's ostracized because of her husband! He deserved what he got! She was allowed to live, and should be grateful and know her place!”, someone shouted.
“What did he do?”, he asked.
“None of your concern, human!”, one man said.
“Where is your hut?”, Brad asked her.
He was beginning to get an idea about what had happened to her husband, an incident which obviously led not only to their abuse of her, but her traumatic mutism as well. Neelah motioned to her right.
“Go to your hut and pack your things. I'll follow you in there and help you pack. I'll take you away from here and make sure you have food.”, he said to her.
“And I WILL be reporting this to the planetary government!”, Brad said to the villagers.
She went to her hut and he helped her collect her belongings. He then took a moment and asked her,
“How long has it been since you ate? Days?”, he asked. She shook her head.
“Weeks?”, he asked. She nodded.
“How many weeks? One? Two?” She shook her head when he said "one", but nodded when he said “two.”
“You haven't eaten in two weeks?“, he asked. She nodded.
”Do you think you'll ever talk to me?”, he asked. Neelah shrugged, then smiled ever-so-slightly, gratitude in her eyes.
“Do they always beat you like this?” She nodded.
“Did humans kill your husband?”
She shook her head.
“Did THEY kill him?”, Brad asked, pointing to the outside of the hut. She nodded, tears streaming down her face.
“And they've been beating you and abusing you ever since?” She nodded.
“Have they raped you?” She nodded. “Once, or a lot?” She shook her head at “once” then, when he asked “a lot”, she nodded.
“Are you pregnant?” She shook her head. “Are you positive?” She nodded.
“You're safe with me, Neelah. Your husband can rest now knowing you're safe, and that no-one's going to hurt you anymore! I'll protect you!
“I'm going to take you away from here, get you something to eat, and then we're going to go back to my ship in a few days when my Leave is over.
”I'll have the ship's doctor check you out. I promise you, I'll treat you very well. You're not going to be hurt by me, or by anyone! You're safe now.”, Brad said, giving her a tender hug. She hugged him back, tears of gratitude in her eyes.
They collected Neelah's meager belongings and walked out of her hut. As they walked towards his shuttle, the villagers started to attack and beat her again.
Brad immediately took out his phaser and aimed it at them.
”So help me, if ANY of you attack or hit her one more time, or even try to do so, I WILL shoot you all.“, Brad exclaimed.
He then tenderly took her hand in his and led her to his shuttle. He strapped her into the copilot's seat, then strapped himself into the pilot's seat.
After giving her a sandwich that he'd brought with him, Brad started the engines. The shuttle lifted off and they flew to a town twenty-five miles away, where he'd rented a motel room for Leave.
They had a full meal in a restaurant. He ordered her a beef, then ordered a beef and sausage for himself, along with potato wedges, deep fried cheese, and carbonated drinks.
After getting back to the motel, they watched some videos on the large-screen. When it was bedtime, he said,
”You take the bed, and I'll take the couch.“
She promptly lay down on the floor by the table. Brad went over to her, knelt down and gently tapped her on the shoulder.
She screamed and started crying, raising her arm to protect herself, thinking he was going to hit or otherwise hurt her.
”It's alright. I'm not going to hurt you. Why don't you go lay down in the bed? It'll be much more comfortable.“, he said.
She shook her head, terrified.
”Neelah, are you afraid of the bed?“
She nodded her head.
”How about this then? I'll go there with you and hold you. That way you'll know that you'll be safe. I promise to be a perfect gentleman.“, he said. She nodded, tears in her eyes.
He then carefully helped her up off the floor. She was still crying, but wasn't as terrified.
They got in bed and, after covering themselves up, Brad held her in his arms. He put her arm around his waist and her head on his chest. She cried herself to sleep, holding on to him tightly.
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