Disclaimer: I own nothing of this awesome film but I praise the creators of it. And with that done, I shall carry on!
A/N: Just like the other District 9 writers, I am in awe with this film but then I love anything sci-fi. Anyway, I wanted to focus on the Pre-Wikus timeline when the aliens were allowed to mingle- though it was heavily restrictive- with other humans and flow the story along until it heads to Post-Wikus and Christopher's search for aid for his people and Wikus at his homeworld. That last scene of the film with the flower just pulled at my heartstrings- made me forget the fact Wikus almost left poor Chris to rot with MNU. My OC for this fic will not come in full blast with fast paced information and will be gradual; I like to take my time with stories and not rush into them. So tell me what you think and if I made any booboos on their culture or characterization, correct me so I can become better.
Six days before Christopher's leave. . .
Oliver Johnson's small three-fingered hand fiddled with a loose metal knob inside his father's holographic projector depicting his home planet's image. It was the only beautiful object that gave him a string of hope of leaving the awful stench and arid lands he lived in since his birth. His father had lived on their homeland as a youngling before the exodus and he wished every day to see it with his own eyes as well. The hovering ethereal orb and its seven dependent moons could give him silent entertainment for hours but the gadget had broken a few weeks ago after his father had brought in a pile of useful technology from their world that had been salvaged and could be used for his plan. Unfortunately, he knocked his son's beloved projector off the table and the small parts had come loose from inside, giving off nothing but a blank blue screen.
He tightened the tiny knob with the tool he held determinedly as his vibrant blue eyes peeked into the small space to make sure the job was going smoothly. Failure was not an option in his mind; a similar attitude also shared by his father. His small tendrils twitched excitedly as his job was almost done but heard the scuffling of feet headed his way and quickly hid his tools underneath a dirty rag that had been chucked under their eating table days ago. That had been too close. He didn't want his father knowing so he could spring it as a surprise and maybe cheer him up from his wearisome work. His blue eyes gave one last look to his favorite object and he smiled proudly to himself.
One day, he thought optimistically and clasped his hands together to wait for his father.
The taller Poleepkwa walked in after jamming his white screened door closed, dust trailing behind his feet from the hot dry climate of the day, and his youngling chirped for attention. Christopher Johnson noticed the happy chirp from below and kneeled down to place his hand over Oliver's round head with a fatherly smile in his eyes.
"How was work, father?", Oliver piped curiously and followed his father around their small shack as he found suitable metal tins they could eat from for dinner. Metal dinnerware was hard to come by and it lasted much longer than plastic or paper. It had taken Christopher months to find three usable silver plates and had kept the slightly rusty and bent dishware in a small broken cupboard on the floor for safekeeping. The cracked wooden doors creaked at the oxidized orange hinges as he pulled them out delicately and handed Oliver his plate while the youngling twitched his antenna curiously. His father had always taught him to value every item they found throughout their foraging and keep it safe to prevent loss and breakage. Every item they kept was irreplaceable as they lived their life in extreme poverty stricken conditions.
"Exhausting but it'll keep food on our table for three more days" his parent replied tiredly and stood up to pour himself a glass of water from a clear plastic pitcher featuring hairline fractures which he'd sealed to keep the object reusable. Oliver twitched his mandibles at the plastic cup in his hand and his father gave him a small sip to keep his appetite down.
Oliver knew that all of the older population maintained a work schedule which was ruled with an iron fist by MNU in the outskirts of District 9. Most jobs were either in mining, factories, or metallurgy; jobs that humans rarely wanted in Johannesburg but subsidiary companies MNU owned. In the days before the district was set up, jobs were easier to come by but Christopher grabbed whatever menial task he could obtain, no matter how degrading or backbreaking because he had a small mouth to feed despite the lousy pay his people received. Humans always earned more because of their sake of simply being human and not a grotesque alien that was seen as the scum of the earth.
"Will we eat something good today?" the child asked hopefully and held his silver tin plate over his chest. There were days they went without food but his father always made sure he was fed, even if he had to give up his own share to keep his son's stomach half-full. Oliver hoped today wasn't one of those days.
Another scuttle behind the door caught their attention and his father signaled for him to hide in one of the areas accustomed to conceal his short height. Oliver hid behind a dusty nightstand, his small hands touching the peeling brown paint cautiously as blue eyes peered at the doorway. He didn't need to be told twice on any order his father gave and hoped it wasn't anyone seeking trouble with them. Christopher opened the lockless door of his shack carefully as he sniffed the air for a familiar scent and narrowed his eyes in recognition. It wasn't MNU or an unwelcome guest but a human he'd warned numerous times about sneaking into the forbidden compound.
"I've warned you many times to never return here" the Poleepkwa hissed sharply as a 5'5 tall petite form wearing raggedy clothes snuck up with an impish scuttle, dragging a bulging potato sack from behind. He could never distinguish her many disguises and always opted to use his sense of smell to decipher her scent.
"And I've told you it's my choice, you can't watch the border for me 24/7" a female voice shot back smartly and she huddled into his shack without his consent. He gave a quick scan of his surroundings to make sure no one noticed the stranger and returned inside.
Oliver stared at the human clad in old and worn gray-brown attire before the woman ripped a long coat off her pear-shaped frame. She pulled off torn gloves from her small hands and wiped a few flecks of dirt from her nude lips that she'd caught along the journey there. His mandibles gave click of recognition and he withdrew from his concealed area to speak up, "You're not a beggar, Amaya."
"But one must always use camouflage and blend in to fool the enemy" she replied with a small smile on her dirty face which she'd stuck on to fit her disguise. She didn't bother to wipe the dry caked dirt off her golden-bronze skin but tore off the long coarse wig of black hair she had over her own long fine strands containing the same hue. Her round blue-gray eyes twinkled at the small alien and she leaned down to coo sweetly, "And you just get cuter every time I see you."
Oliver gave a happy warble and hopped over to point at her bag eagerly, "What's that, Amaya?"
The woman, Amaya, sat cross-legged onto the dirty floor and handed it over to Oliver for inspection with a friendly smile, "Why don't you open it while I talk to your father?"
The youngling enthusiastically began to rip it open with his fingers to see its hidden contents while Amaya turned from her spot to stare up at the paternal figure. His face didn't hold any of his son's cheer and he crossed his arms to growl, "Why are you here, Amaya?"
"I haven't seen you in months and I had some intel- well, it's more of a rumored nature but. . ." she said with a mischievous smile but faded off as she stood up to whisper secretly, "The resistance movements have told me that MNU has classified information on an order concerning District 9."
"I told you to stay out of those groups, MNU has no trouble shooting down meddlesome civilians they could dismiss as 'terrorists'" Christopher pointed out firmly and shook his head at her stubbornness. He'd known her for many years and was the only human he could stand without having an urge to rip them apart. Due to their continuous contact, she'd become a hardcore pro-alien rights activist when he'd launched his website campaign but he never fully agreed with her choices.
Scratch that, many of her choices, he thought irritably as his hands clenched.
"It's the only way you can know if your little cyber site is making a difference and they could come in handy when it comes time to liberate yourself from this world" she stated calmly and gave him a sincere smile, "You'll need allies besides your people until you can reach the depths of space. I'm always here-"
"Exactly and actions like that will have you shot dead!" he snapped with a loud hiss and Oliver raised his head from inside the bag as he searched it. He waved his hand in dismissal so the child could relax and the youngling returned to his endeavor. The Poleepkwa gave her a stern stare and demanded with a sardonic bite, "Did you learn nothing of your near attack at the Metropolitan Municipal Offices two years ago or did you forget that?"
"I disguise myself in the meetings, Christopher, I'm not a dunce" Amaya shot back defensively and narrowed her eyes to match his stare. She hated when he outsmarted her, he was extremely intelligent but her own competitive mind always needed comeuppance. Matter-of-factly, she pointed out with crossed arms, "And I was finishing my case of arraigning bail on an innocent Poleepkwa and I don't regret it for a single minute. I didn't become a criminal lawyer just to shake fearfully in my pants from ignorant morons who can't be open-minded-"
"MNU will target you, your house has already been vandalized-"
"Houses can be rebuilt, lives cannot" she broke in sharply and furrowed her brows in concern. All she wanted to do was help but she understood his cautious nature towards humans from their years together. Most of his kind were absolutely hostile with no chance for mercy due to the slanders of her kind but he'd always kept his people in check to protect them from harm. Her tan hand reached out to clasp his brown forearm and she spoke softly, "There are rumors all over that you're being evicted to another district, a completely isolated territory away from this city. It'll be on the news eventually but MNU will build a solid case to present to the United Nations about protecting human civilians. It's nothing but bullshit."
Her voice lowered to another decibel before whispering worriedly, "Whatever stage your plan is at, work fast and hide it because you cannot let the patrols find it once they ransack your homes. I don't know the specific area of the new district but you can't leave your command ship under here and risk having it discovered. I can file a temporary injunction based on property rights, it's not my forte but-"
"You can't bring attention to yourself and I will handle everything" Christopher ordered with a non-questionable mandate that had her frowning with disappointment. Why was he always the boss? She was about to speak her part in the matter but he cut her off quickly, "We don't know for sure if these rumors are fact, Amaya."
"Be prepared, just in case. . .please?" she whispered worriedly and hated that her aid was always rejected as of late. Many choices in her life were outlined by their intertwined paths since they'd met and she detested being left out. She wanted to help his people escape away from the hellhole they lived every single day. Her hand absentmindedly brushed against her left and she told him softly, "I'm getting married in a few days. I'm supposed to be creating these crappy little favors with the girls but I ditched it to bring you some handy items. I'm sure your money's been running short due to it being the end of the month so I had to stop by."
His golden eyes lidded slightly to her news and he nodded politely in congratulations, "You deserve it, Amaya."
No, I don't, she thought miserably as her stomach clenched. I don't want that happy perfect fantasy of a matrimonial life.
She cleared her throat to tell him regrettably, "He wants me to cut off my friendship with you, he says it's getting dangerous and I'm sure my family will put their foot down in agreement when he tells them I've kept seeing you. They want a safe coddling environment to shield me away from the bogey-aliens and fit in with normal humans."
"Maybe it is time for you to remain in a safe and calm atmosphere" he spoke quietly and she gaped at him in both shock and anger. He was agreeing with them? He wasn't supposed to agree with his oppressors!
No, you're supposed to say don't run off and marry a guy who's not for alien rights!, her mind screamed but she kept her mouth shut.
"If that's your say. . .then I will" she sighed deeply and turned her gaze to one of the many blank computer screens adorning his home. Her heart wanted to hear a negative response to release the dagger that kept digging itself deeper but a simple nod of his head embedded it. Weakly, she returned the nod and stuffed her hands into the torn pockets of the jeans she wore. Why had he decided to shield her away now after so many years? She was too involved with her work to give up, just like him. Without a word, she walked back to the youngling who's torso was inside the bag and the scene lightened her gloomy mood. She smiled tenderly and called out, "Find anything good, Oliver?"
A muffled but excited voice replied, "Everything!"
The young Poleepkwa crawled out from the brown bag and smiled cheerfully at his father while holding several tins of cat food in his hands, "Look! I get dibs on Purina and Whiskas?"
"Whatever you want, little one", Christopher answered and couldn't help but chuckle at his ecstatic son. Oliver sorted through the silver cans with eager hands as his antennae flicked back and forth happily. Turning to the woman, the father demanded, 'How much did that cost you? You can't waste your money-'
"If I want to waste it, I can do so and there was a blowout sale at my nearby pet store so I had to buy" she said with a small smile and sat down next to Oliver to dig through the sack. Besides, she knew it was hard for them to buy any suitable food and cat food was a cheap alternative but not very nutritive for Christopher's kind. Also, the butchers tended to overprice that delicacy and she wouldn't stand for that. Her friend already had it hard enough to sustain his own stomach and his small child. She pulled clothing she'd bought from the pawn shops and other affordable department stores to help the two or others the clothes could come in handy to. She took out a pair of blue cotton shorts and patted the younglings head to smile, "A growing boy like you needs new clothes once the molting revs up. Your father left pieces all over his mother's home whenever he molted and he had mismatched patches of color-"
"That is enough, Amaya" said Poleepkwa interrupted firmly and Oliver's antennas sunk down to his eyes; he wanted to know the story.
"I brought you some hygienic products since our heavenly creators know MNU isn't giving out anything until 'prawns behave right'" she snorted derisively as she quoted the company with her fingers. It was pathetic to listen to such drabble on television and conferences when she knew they were either hogging it themselves or using the money for bribes. She shook her head and dug out tin cans that contained a variety of either canned meat, fruit, or vegetables. Canned food would last longer than fresh food since flies stalked every home and the boiling temperatures would spoil it in a day. Heat, much less electricity, was rare in the district at night due to the lack of power the city denied of giving the encampment and the Poleepkwa resorted to building fires to keep warm. She raised a can with a red label and grinned, "Who wants beans?"
"You exploded the can last time" Christopher pointed out mildly and her face gave him a small glare for having it brought up. Inside, however, he was thankful for the gifts the human had always brought him since his days as a youngling.
"I never said I was good at cooking" she retorted in defense and Oliver grabbed the can curiously from her hand to sniff it. She pushed the rest of the cans towards Christopher who kneeled down to observe them quietly. Half of the cans could last him months and he knew his youngling wouldn't cry from an empty stomach any time soon. Fixing the lump of clothes she brought, she told him, "Grab whatever you'll need and give the rest to the families. I can't stand to see those poor younglings malnourished."
"The Smiths have a new child, I believe it's taking on female attributes" he informed her and she smiled at another life entering the world. It was a horrid world but at least the youngling would be allowed to live rather than be destroyed by MNU officers for disregarding regulation.
Oliver put on an oversized black t-shirt over his small frame and chirped to his father giddily, "Look, I can sleep in this!"
Amaya's eyes lit up at the word 'sleep' and she dug deeper into the bag to yank out about five warm blankets she'd managed to stuff at the bottom before packing the smaller cans on top. She wrapped the end of one over Oliver's thin shoulders and smiled cheerfully, "Now you won't be so cold once the winter comes. You can use your old ones for curtains to keep out cold breezes or sew them into clothes. Hmm, I should've brought you a sewing kit."
Oliver giggled and simply buried himself in the thick blanket despite the heat to enjoy his new gifts. He'd never received anything half-decent from the MNU operatives and his father was lucky if he could find a decent clean blanket to sleep with from his weekly rummaging. He rubbed his cheek against the soft material and considered himself a very lucky boy. Amaya leaned down to grab a small plastic white case from the floor and gave it to Christopher, "Stock up on your first aid cases. Children always have the worst injuries during childhood and I'm sure MNU and the gangs give the residents enough wounds for possible infections."
"Thank you, Amaya" he whispered gratefully and wrapped an arm around his little one's shoulders. His son was his primary concern and as a father, he tried to give him everything possible. . .even if it wasn't the best. It was hard to find good nutritional sustenance in the compound and clothes were always scarce during their scavenging hunts.
Life was nothing like this back home, he thought somberly and smiled when his child hugged him around the chest affectionately. All he could think of was returning home with his son and giving him a better future there. Anything was better than the life they were currently living.
"I'm always there to help" she replied softly to her old friend but her shoulders slumped at knowing her visits were coming to an end. She would start a new life and he would hopefully leave her world for his. The upcoming future stung her eyes with tears and she sighed to tell them, "I should go. I need to sneak through the Nigerian territory until I can get to a bus stop."
"That area is dangerous" Christopher warned her and she placed her dirty wig back on with a dismissive shrug of her shoulders. She may have brought him luxuries to ease their state of living but he didn't want her life on the line for it. He leaned in to lecture her careless approach, away from his son's innocent mind, "People are murdered there every day and women are sold into prostitution. You could end up as either!"
"I'll manage and if they bother, I'll give them my change" she assured simply to his worrywart attitude and he had to shake his head at her half-baked plan. Amaya gave him a confident smile and told him, "I'm a bum and a crazy bum too. No one will touch the singing drunk."
Oliver laughed at overhearing her words and gave her the long shaggy trench coat that lay on the ground. She patted his head tenderly and placed on the worn warm coat. The gray fabric held jagged cuts and rips that showed the worn out blue shirt beneath while mud adorned the bottom edges to add the finishing touch. She buttoned every other button and used the wrong holes for others to give herself a careless unsanitary outlook. Thankfully, she'd grown out of her allergy for dust and had no problem being covered in it.
"I'll try to visit you next week" Amaya said doubtfully and bit her bottom lip worriedly. She didn't want to come back and find the district a complete ghost town and lose track of the two. Also, she just didn't want to be hitched but did it for the sake of her family. Nervously, she put on her ripped black gloves and explained, "Davin wants to return to France for a honeymoon, I didn't really pick anything so that will take us a few days depending if we leave after the wedding. I'm not sure if we'll head to Spain so I'm not left out but I'll skip it and head back. I've lived here much longer anyway."
"What's a honeymoon? And wed-ding?" Oliver asked curiously as he tried to pronounce the words in his own dialect. His tendrils tickled his mouth when he spoke the last word and giggled to himself.
"Grown-up stuff" she said with an amused chuckle to his childish innocence and hugged the youngling with a happy grin. He was so tiny and his frame seemed frail compared to well-fed human children making her adore the child even more. The large t-shirt just added points to his appearance as it dragged along the floor. She patted his cheek and met his energetic eyes to tease, "Don't have too much fun without me and stay as cute as you are. I'll see if I can bring you toys next time, maybe a bicycle tire?"
"Could you?" Oliver asked happily and released a few happy squeals that had her giggling. She knew how much his kind enjoyed the taste of rubber materials and would always try to indulge the child in items he couldn't receive from his father.
And bless his heart, he always tries to get them, she thought sympathetically.
"Anything for my number one Poleepkwa" she chuckled softly and kissed the top of his head fondly. "Be a good boy and keep listening to your papa."
She stood up to head to the door and popped it slightly ajar so she could see if the coast was clear. Despite her venturing over many years, other Poleepkwas weren't fond of any humans- ally or not. The roots of segregation had settled in between both races too deeply and they had adapted to those ways of thinking since there was no room for otherwise. She could only hope younger generations would soften and begin to pick at the walls to build a bridge of sincerity and equality. Their race was peaceful and humankind's continuous taunts and superior smugness- which they had no right to because she knew if there actually was a competition, the Poleepkwa would wipe the floor with them- was only tainting their self-consciousness to the point that hopeless individuals had gone either insane or committed suicide by their own hand or by attempting to escape. It was an awful world for the Poleepkwa.
"Be careful" Christopher spoke up from behind and she nodded without looking back. Oddly enough, she never worried for her own safety but his and Oliver's. Poverty was a dangerous mix when faced with ruthless gangs and power-hungry officials. It was no place to raise a family but Christopher shielded his child protectively as he took on both the paternal and maternal instincts for his youngling.
She raised the collar of her coat to hide the sides of her face and responded stiffly, "Don't leave without saying goodbye or I'll be pissed. . .for about three days. Then I'll be cheering for your freedom."
He snorted at her small joke and gently shoved her outside the door before anyone passed by his shack. Surveillance always passed overheard by chopper at least every hour and she had to keep herself hidden behind the homes and garbage heaps to keep a good cover. She had even thrown herself into a mud pit once to escape a chopper flying by. Amaya easily slipped away from the shabby home as her raggedy and mud caked boots left trails of dust behind but kept her paces as silent as possible. Christopher had taught her how to keep herself covert from both human and Poleepkwa senses ages ago.
So many years ago, she contemplated and ducked behind a scavenging pile as a group of two aliens passed by with collected possessions of the day bundled in their arms. Her back dug into the discarded mess and she was careful not to cut herself with protruding objects. No one liked tetanus and she'd had multiple shots throughout her life after cutting herself from playing with Christopher during their younger years.
She watched them carefully with empathetic eyes and thought, Humans outside are fattening themselves up and throwing out good food these poor beings could be eating to keep themselves alive. Our world isn't getting any better, we're practically reversing back to the dark ages.
Who knew that specific scrap heap would bring Christopher's freedom and unleash a load of hell in only a matter of days.