Futurama

Fan Fiction

A Different View, part 6
By Graham Dawson

Chapter Six – According to Plan

“Leela, I’m not sure we’re meant to be out here.”

“Oh hush, what’s the-” Leela’s voice cut off as Samuel put a hand over his mouth. He gave her a stern look.

“Don’t ever say that. Please?” He glanced up and down the narrow hallway they were in before letting Leela’s mouth free again. “I’ve seen too many people brought low by that one phrase.”

Leela licked her lips and shrugged. “If you want.” She looked back along the hallway at the ballroom doors, which were a surprising distance away, then looked in the direction they had been heading. A few service doors were dotted along one wall, and near the far end of the hallway stood a broad emergency exit by a door to the kitchens. The crashbars had been almost bent off their hinges. “I think I know where Zoidberg is.”

“Good, that means we can spend a little time not finding him yet,” Samuel said with a salacious grin, wrapping both his arms around Leela’s body and pulling her off her feet for a moment. She playfully slapped at him and laughed as Samuel bowled her into a darkened closet. “Now this is more like it!”

“Oh Sam, Sam, now really isn’t the time,” Leela said, reluctantly fending off Samuel’s advances. He backed off with a hurt expression on his face and Leela’s heart skipped a beat. But no, she had to be strong. Just for a few hours. “We have to find Zoidberg.”

“Why?”

“Hermes will have our heads if we lose him,” Leela said, narrowing her eye a little to make a point. It seemed to work. She straightened out her dress and turned to the door, then paused. “Oh what the hell,” she said before flinging herself at Samuel. They landed on the floor with a loud thump. Samuel groaned.

“I think I fell on a broom.”


The emergency exit was still closed when they reached it, but it had definitely been opened with extreme force at some point. Leela knelt down to examine it in more detail. “Looks like he might have been here,” she said, straightening up.

“How can you tell?”

Leela pointed at the mangled crash-bars. “All the scraps of food hanging from it. He didn’t do the damage to the doors though.”

“Ah.” Samuel gingerly pushed on the door. It swung open with barely any protest. “Ladies first?”

“Why thank you,” Leela said, striding out into the alley behind the hotel. It was fairly mundane as alleys went, dark and musty from lack of use, and lined with massive grey bins full of kitchen waste. A pale shaft of ruddy moonlight shone from the tiny sliver of sky high above the alley.

Leela turned to the nearest bin and looked it over. The lid had been thrown back and the contents ransacked. Just about anything organic had been eaten. “Wow. He must have been hungry.”

Samuel put an arm around Leela’s waist and peered into the gloom. “Don’t you ever worry about him going insane and eating everyone?”

“I doubt he’d have the courage to try,” Leela replied. Nevertheless she tensed herself up a little and started looking for weapons, just in case. She paused and held up her wrist computer, pointing it down the alley like a torch. “Three bins down.”

“I want one of those.”

“They’re government issue. Technically I shouldn’t have this any more but they’ve never actually bothered to ask for it back,” Leela said, leading Samuel down the alley as she counted off the bins. The sound of ravenous consumption began to percolate through the air as they neared the third. “I expect the forms are still winging their way through the central bureaucracy, which means my great grandchildren will probably get the request to return it. Doctor Zoidberg?”

Leela stepped up to the bin and put her hand on the lid. The omnivorous growling within quietened down and then stopped completely. “Doctor?”

The lid raised up a little and Zoidberg peeked out. “Oh, so they threw you out as well did they? Well you can come and join Zoidberg’s party!”

Leela grimaced and held her nose. “No thanks, we’re just making sure you’re still around.” She pushed the lid right back and peered into the bin, then wished she hadn’t. “You aren’t supposed to be out here Doc,” she said as she turned away. Samuel backed off as well, waving his hand in front of his face.

“But there’s so much food just going to waste out here. And look, I found a giant soup flask!” Zoidberg held up a large metal container with wires hanging from it. He turned it this way and that, prodding at the casing with a claw. “I’ve not found a way to open it yet, and the shell looks a little damaged but it seems to be sound. I’m making myself some soup for the journey home.”

Leela looked at the container. “Oh my god... Zoidberg, you idiot, that isn’t a soup flask.”

“It’s not?” Zoidberg peered at the container. “It’s a coffee urn maybe?”

“No!” Leela grabbed the container and turned it around. A door was set into the side, with a hole blasted through it. “It’s Bender!”

“Ohh... that would explain why the cafetiere kept sassing me.” Zoidberg held up Bender’s head, still stuffed with used coffee grinds. Bender rolled his eyes and spat out a pile of second-hand filter paper.

“You’d be sassing people too if you’d been blown apart by evil aliens and thrown in the trash!”

Leela took Bender’s head from Zoidberg and peered at him critically. “I assume you’re talking about the ‘allies’ Zapp gave us?”

“Oh, is that what they were? All I know is, they’re big and ugly and they shot me when I was quietly robbing the hotel safe.” Bender’s rolled his eyes upward and peered at the sky. He seemed to think for a moment. “Oh yeah, and they said something about you all being slaves. I thought that was quite funny until they blew my head off.”

Leela handed Bender’s head to Samuel and reached into the bin to search for more of his parts.

“What are you doing?”

“We have to warn everyone,” Leela said, pulling out part of a leg. “And we need as much of Bender as we can find as evidence.”

Zoidberg clambered out of the bin holding Bender’s body and an arm. “Does this mean the party’s over?”

“If we get there in time it means you’ll have helped to save the universe.”

“Zoidberg would be a hero?”

Leela paused and looked at Zoidberg. He was smiling, which was a singularly disgusting sight, but strangely endearing in its own way. “As unlikely as it seems...”

“Hooray!”

“Hey, quit waving my arms like that,” Bender said from beneath Samuel’s armpit. Samuel patted Bender’s scalp and shushed him. “Hey, watch it or I’ll start biting.”

“There’s gratitude for you,” Samuel said, holding Bender by his antenna and shaking him around. “Hmm. What marque are you?”

Bender frowned at him, since he couldn’t really do much else. “Why do you care?”

“I used to run a small robot repair company in Nebraska. If you’re a Unit twenty-five or under I can probably put you back together.”

“Oh. Well in that case I’m a twenty-two. And I meant it about the biting thing.”

Samuel smiled and held Bender up to his face. “If you’re a twenty-two, you don’t have teeth.”

“That’s never stopped me before,” Bender said with a proud air that was only slightly marred by his lack of a body. Samuel twisted Bender’s head around and peered into the base. “Hey where’d you go? Ooh... nice ass Leela,” Bender added, then laughed until Samuel tweaked something inside his head. There was a flash of sparks. “Ow!”

Leela withdrew her arms from the bin and tried to shake the worst of the garbage off. She looked at the pile of parts that Zoidberg was holding. “I think that’s everything. We’d better get back inside before someone sees us. Come on Zoidberg, hup hup!”

“All right, all right, I’m going already...”

“Now, Bender, you have to tell us everything that happened,” Leela said as they closed the emergency exit. She looked up and down the hallway and then glared at Bender. Sometimes it felt like her eye was made for glaring. “No skimping on details.”

Bender glared back. “Okay. The temperature was a balmy twenty-”

“Not that much detail you, you... just tell us the part about slaves.” Leela lead the group toward the ballroom. Bender sighed irritably.

“You humans can never make up your minds, no wonder Fry can’t figure out what he wants. Okay.” He sighed again. The group paused by the ballroom door. “The aliens are using some sort of weird mind-control drug to turn everyone into zombies or something, and they kept calling you all ‘slave species’ and laughing about how you always put yourselves at their mercy.”

“Drugs can be counter-acted though,” Leela said, trying to re-assure herself. “And if we tell everyone they won’t be able to use them.”

“Oh I don’t know, the way they stabbed that guy in the back of the head with it looked pretty permanent to me,” Bender said. He coughed. “Man, I need a cigar.”

“So you’re saying that they let themselves be talked into this gathering so they could bring everyone here?” Samuel cast a fearful glance back down the corridor. “Surely they wouldn’t be able to convince the entire DOOP to just lay down and let them take over.”

“They don’t need to! They’ve got the entire Democratic Order of Planets in one place, and they have this entire planet under their control already. That idiot has us laid out on a platter for them!”

“Well when you put it that way...”

Leela pushed the doors open and stepped into the ballroom, quickly looking about. The entire room was silent, every delegate staring blankly in the same direction. A few were drooling. “Oh no, we’re too late!”

“What the... Leela?” Zapp turned toward Leela’s voice. He stumbled from the podium and lurched toward Leela with a determined expression on his face. The assembly began to look around, muttering as they slowly woke from their boredom. “Leela!”

“Oh lord...” Leela turned to Samuel and Zoidberg. “You two, stay here and keep Bender safe. I’m going to get Philippa and Amy. Then we need to find some way of telling everyone what happened.”

“Twenty-twos have a video projector built into their left eye,” Samuel said, turning Benders head this way and that. “I’m pretty sure this one is still working too.”

“Great. Bender, can you play back what you saw?”

“I can, as long as you don’t ask me to do a commentary. I hate those.”

Leela shook her head. “All we need is the scary bit.” She ran off into the crowd.

Zoidberg looked at Samuel and smiled his hideous smile. “So do I get to be the hero now?”


Leela battled her way through the madding crowd. The delegates were starting to get restless at the sudden interruption of their ‘entertainment’ and a few fights had already broken out between some of the more belligerent species. Leela ignored the surprised queries that were thrown at her in a dozen tongues and made a bee-line for Fry, still sat at her table near the back of the room. She looked around as she reached the table, trying to spot Amy. “Phi, have you seen Amy anywhere?”

“Last I heard she was going back up to our room with Kif. I didn’t really want to know that,” she added, making a face. Hermes and LaBarbara arrived a moment later – Hermes huffing from the exertion. He leaned on the table.

“What in the name of Niven is going on here?” he gasped. LaBarabra rubbed his back and scowled at Leela.

“Shame on you woman, for making my man exert himself so.”

“I can’t explain,” Leela said, turning to face them. Hermes flopped down on a chair, still gasping. “You need to go with Philippa and get back to the ship. Phi, you need to find Amy.”

“But-”

“Don’t argue. Go find her and tell her to get the ship over here as fast as possible.” Fry seemed about ready to talk back, so Leela simply hauled her out of her seat and stood her up. “Just do it!”

“Okay, okay, jeeze...” Fry grabbed her plate and slipped through the crowd to the main stairway, stuffing food into her mouth as she went. Leela shook her head – the girl would need to go on a diet soon if she didn’t cut that out. “What an odd thing...” she looked at Hermes.

“Don’t just stand there, we need to get out of here!”

“Great snakes of Apophis, mon... more running...” Hermes levered himself up, supported by LaBarbara. They staggered after Fry.

Leela looked back across the room to where Samuel was standing. He waved to her with Bender’s arm and smiled. Leela smiled back and then started pushing back through the crowd to the podium, where Zapp was now leaning against the stage with a confused look on his face. Hah, he couldn’t keep up with a damned planet if he was standing on it. The thought brought a grin to Leela’s face, but it faded when she looked at the Ruklisk around the room. They seemed to have tensed up, and some even had their hands on their weapons.

“Brannigan,” she called out as she reached the podium. Zapp looked at her in shock. He pointed a wobbly finger at her.

“You promised me a dance, missy.”

“Now isn’t the time!” She grabbed Zapp’s arm and dragged him toward Samuel. Zapp made what he probably thought was a seductive growl and leaned toward her, then suddenly leaned back with a disgusted look on his face. Leela sniffed at herself. “Oh yeah.”

“You smell like garbage!”

“Perhaps I’ve just been around you too long,” Leela shot back. She pointed at Bender. “These allies of yours did that to our robot because of something he saw.”

“So? I’ve trashed robots before now, for lots of reasons.” Zapp put his hands on his hips. “Forget about that, how about I take you upstairs and give you an erotic bath...” he raised an eyebrow at Leela and tried to purr. It was actually a fairly good imitation.

Leela tapped her foot. “How about I punch you and then get on that podium and tell everyone to get off the planet as fast as possible.”

“I prefer my idea,” Zapp said, folding his arms and looked out across the room. Leela shook her head.

“Look, you moron, the Ruklisk are going to invade and enslave our entire species unless I warn these people to leave.”

“You can’t be sure of that, for all you know this robot could have fallen from a window and tried to cover it up by lying.” Zapp retorted, dismissing the wreckage of bender with a wave of his hand.

“Hey, I have a huge hole where my heart would have been!”

Zapp’s shoulders sagged for a moment. “Don’t we all?” But then he straightened up again and put out his hands in an almost protective gesture. “Even so, I can’t let you go up there spreading rumours like this.”

“I warned you. Samuel, cover your eyes. This won’t be pretty.” Leela leaned back a little as Samuel lifted Bender’s head up to cover his face.

“Oh wow, ring-side seats!”

“Shut up!” Leela tapped Zapp’s chest to get his attention again. When he looked down she wound back her fist and slugged him right on the chin, knocking Zapp to the floor. He landed with a loud yell that silenced the room. She punched Zapp in the face again for good measure, then stood up, shaking her hand to relieve the tension. Leela grabbed Bender’s head and jumped up on to the stage. She held the robot up. “Everyone listen to me. The Ruklisk are not our allies! This robot saw something they were doing and they blasted him apart for it!”

“Get down from there,” Glab shouted, trying to grab Leela’s arm. Leela elbowed the Grand Councilwoman in the face and marched over to the podium. A guard tried to tackle her but she casually flipped over him, using Bender’s head as a club to beat him to the ground as she passed by. The other guards backed off a little and waited while Leela reached the podium, where she flipped Bender’s head over and propped him up facing the wall.

“Someone arrest that madwoman!” Glab screamed, levering herself up from the floor.

“I’m not mad you stupid-” Leela ducked as one of the DOOP guards in front of the stage fired at her. “I’m trying to save your lives you idiots!”

“Arrest her!” There was another shot. A trio of DOOP soldiers were making their way from the far side of the room, whilst others were already surrounding the stage. The delegates were already crowding toward the exits, shouting at each other. More fights broke out on the floor. Leela held up Bender’s head again, pointing him toward the wall.

“Hey stop putting me in the line of fire!”

“Bender, just play the damn video!”

“Oh. Right.” Bender’s eye lit up and started projecting an image on the wall. It quickly resolved into the interior of the hotel safe.

“Hey,” someone shouted. “That’s my stuff!”

“Skip this bit,” Leela said. Bender grunted and the video skipped forward until his encounter with the aliens. The bulk of the door was in the way, so that only the concierge’s arm and one of the Ruklisk was visible.

Please, I’ll do anything...”

The room fell silent as the video played out, apart from the occasional cough and a few mutterings that rose in volume as the Ruklisk attacked the concierge, until finally the delegates were shouting and pushing as the stampede for the exits began.

The Ruklisk drew their weapons but were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of retreating people. They fired into the air, calling to each other in their guttural language as they tried to stem the flow. One or two were pulling prepared spines from their belts and crouching to grab at passing escapees. Leela grabbed a rifle from a nearby soldier and took aim at the closest Ruklisk. Its head exploded with a satisfying bang when she fired. “Well how about that...”

Leela tucked Bender under her arm, jumped from the stage and pushed through the crowd toward Samuel. She held up her wrist computer. “Amy, if you aren’t on your way here right now you are so going to get bitched at tomorrow,” she yelled over the noise. The radio crackled.

Three minutes!” Leela nodded and lowered the radio. She picked up another rifle from the floor and threw it to Samuel.

“You ever-”

“Never in my life,” Samuel said, peering down the rifle’s sights. He aimed at the nearest Rukilisk and let off a shot that missed the creature by several feet before blasting a light fitting from the wall. Leela grinned and shot the Ruklisk, and then the DOOP guards seemed to have got the idea as well and were trying to lay down enough fire to cover the fleeing civilians. Around them the screaming renewed as the Ruklisk started firing indiscriminately into the crowd. A stray shot smacked into the wall beside Leela’s head. She blinked.

“We’d better get somewhere a little more defensible,” she said, looking around. She glanced around the room but nowhere seemed particularly safe. “Or just out of here altogether.”

Samuel pushed the doors open and grabbed Samuel’s arm. Then suddenly someone grabbed her arm. It was Zapp, sporting a huge black eye. He was on his knees. Leela felt a strange thrill at the sight. “Leela, I need to get out of here. Take me with you! I’ll... I’ll give up the dance, I’ll try to be... you always get out of this sort of thing. Help me!”

Leela looked down at Zapp with barely concealed contempt. She shrugged her arm out of his grasp. “Sorry Zapp, you got us into this. You get out of it yourself.”

“Wait! I didn’t... how could I know?” Zapp grabbed the hem of Leela’s dress and started sobbing on her feet. Leela sighed and ducked just in time to dodge another shot. She looked at Samuel.

“He has a point, you know,” he said, putting a hand on Leela’s shoulder. “If it makes you feel better I really don’t think he’s much of a threat to our relationship.”

“He’s a walking disaster area!” Leela slung her rifle over her shoulder and grabbed Zapp’s arm. “Okay, come on, but you run like the coward you are or I’ll shoot you.”

Zapp clambered to his knees, tears of what might have been joy running down his face. “Thank you!”

“Amy, meet us around the back of the hotel “ Leela said to her wrist. She picked up Bender’s head and tossed it to Samuel, then took some of Bender’s parts and shoved them into Zapp’s waiting arms. She brandished her rifle. “Lets roll.”

Leela took up a covering position as the others escaped into the corridor, firing at any Ruklisk that even looked like it was coming near. The ballroom was almost deserted now as the majority had escaped, with just a few DOOP soldiers left battling the Ruklisk. They were losing. Already several had been turned by whatever compound the Ruklisk used on their victims, siding with the aliens against their former comrades. They moved slowly, without passion, but they were merciless and efficient, dispatching the remaining soldiers with terrifying accuracy.

A plasma bolt smacked into the wall beside Leela. She ducked and turned to find the target. It was Glab, a spine still protruding from her head, clutching a plasma pistol in her slender hands. Behind her the guard Leela had assaulted was lying across the still-twitching corpse of a Ruklisk, a knife thrust to the hilt in his chest.

The councilwoman stared at Leela with a vacant expression and tried to fire the pistol again, only to find it had been completely drained. Without even looking down she threw the pistol aside and picked up a plasma rifle. Leela took aim and was about to fire when a pair of plasma bolts cracked into the wall beside her, chewing deep holes in the plaster as they dissipated their energy into the wall. She ducked and backed away, keeping her eye on Glab, who seemed to be struggling with the weight of the rifle. Everyone else was either escaped, dead or turned now. Leela fired a few shots in the general direction of the remaining Ruklisk and then retreated, kicking the door closed behind her.

The others had already reached the far end of the corridor and were waiting by the emergency exit. Leela hugged the rifle close to her body and sprinted after them. The ballroom door crunched as something crashed into it, then exploded in a hail of splinters and gunfire. Leela screamed as something hit her shoulder and she stumbled. She rolled on to her side, her arm flailing uselessly as she tried to bring the rifle to bear on the aliens pouring down the corridor. The gun fell from her grasp and skittered up against the wall. Leela heard Samuel’s yell and suddenly he was beside her, grabbing her arms and pulling her along the floor.

“Sam, no,” Leela stammered, suddenly feeling very weak. She tried to free her arm from Samuel’s grasp. “You have to-”

“Shut up, I’m not leaving you,” Samuel yelled over the noise. Leela lifted her head and tried to focus on the advancing horde. Plasma and Ruklisk bullets crashed into the walls and floor around them.

“Idiot... the gun...” Leela kicked out with her feet, trying to lift her weight and nearly blacked out from the pain. A shadow fell across her; a Ruklisk, up close and personal. It snarled something unintelligible and drew out a wickedly long curved knife. There was a shout, and suddenly the creature’s head exploded in a shower of orange gore. Leela glanced up; Samuel was still holding her, and was struggling to haul her upright. She looked to where the rifle had fallen. Zapp was kneeling, holding the rifle more professionally than Leela would have given him credit. He fired down the corridor in short bursts.

With a final thrust of her legs Leela managed to get upright. Samuel had dragged her almost all the way to the doors, with Zapp retreating just behind them, pausing now and then to fire at the aliens and their slaves, who had taken cover at the far end of the corridor.

They stumbled into the alley just as the Ship came crashing to a halt at the far end, its lights casting stark shadows over the bins and piles of garbage. Zoidberg was already half way up the steps when Leela and Samuel reached them. There was a crash from the far end of the alley; Leela looked over her shoulder and saw the clearing smoke of an explosion. The Ruklisk weren’t being subtle any more.

Zapp came running past. “Coming through!” He ran up the stairs, flinging his plasma rifle to Hermes who came part way down the steps, brandishing the gun, and peered along the alleyway.

“Great ghosts of the Sargasso! You better hurry yourselves up, I’m leaving!” He let off a single shot at the Ruklisk, turned and retreated into the ship. The ship began to lift off even as Leela and Samuel were still clambering up the stairs. They flopped down onto the deck as the hatch closed. Samuel punched a switch on the comms panel by the hatch. “Amy, we’re on board.”

Right!”

Fry was standing at the far exit, still in her dress. She squeaked in shock when she saw Leela’s tattered clothing and her injuries. “Leela, what happened!”

“I think I got shot.” Leela rolled on to her back and stared at the ceiling, prompting a stab of pain across her shoulder. She grunted and closed her eye. Someone lifted up her head and cradled it in their lap, started stoking her hair gently and Leela smiled. “Philip...”

She opened her eye. Samuel was looking down at her with a sad smile. He lifted his hand to her forehead. “We’d better get you seen to,” he said.


Fry sat in the corner of the medical bay and watched Leela as she slept, the silent sleep of anaesthesia, breathing so slowly that it almost seemed as if she was dead. The lights had been turned down until the room was filled with little more than a twilight, reducing any contrast to virtually nothing, so that only the constant beeping of the monitors Zoidberg had attached to Leela showed she was still alive. Leela’s wounds had been severe but not life-threatening, mostly surface damage, very spectacular and showy. Doctor Zoidberg had applied knowledge from a medical training program that had been installed with the medical bay and then tossed it aside as he grew into the role of actually saving someone’s life. Leela might have a faint scar, a patch of slightly mottled skin but otherwise there’d be no evidence of the wound, yet if the shot had hit just an inch lower she might have lost her arm. Zoidberg could be quite competent if he put his mind to it.

There was possibly a little irony in the criticism, as it had been applied to Fry many times in her own life, often in very hurtful ways. She put her chin on her hands and stared at Leela for a long time, watching her breath, watching her peaceful face the way she’d never had the chance to do before. It was... gratifying. And yet the possibility that she might be somehow responsible for all of this meant that Fry couldn’t quite settle down. So she watched, and waited.

At some point she must have dozed off, because Samuel suddenly seemed to appear by the bed. Fry felt her heart thump when she saw him leaning over Leela the way he did. She swallowed and tried to look away, but the sight kept drawing her back. It could have been her. Him. She sighed. That her confusion could still appear after so long was almost depressing.

Unfortunately, or perhaps not, Samuel had heard her. He looked up. “Ahh, welcome back. You were asleep,” he said, letting go of Leela’s hand and straightening up. He sat down next to Fry. “Nice to see someone care for Leela this much.”

“Someone has to,” Fry said, rubbing her eyes. She was tired, more tired than she’d realised, but that wouldn’t stop her. “I’ve done it before. I once sat with Leela while she was in a coma for two weeks. She’s saved my life so many times now, I can’t even begin to pay back what I owe her.”

“I’m surprised that Brannigan character isn’t here.”

“Oh, Amy had him locked up in the laundry room, not that he’d want to be here anyway,” Fry said with a quiet chuckle. The thought that Zapp would actually care was too funny.

Samuel nodded and leaned back, wrapping his arms across his chest. He watched Leela for a while without saying anything, then: “Saved your life a lot, huh?”

“Yeah.” Fry yawned and stretched, trying to counter the fatigue dragging at her eyes. “More times than I can count since I got here. She can be uptight and mean, and she even kicked me in the... well,” Fry shook her head. “Lets just say she kicked me. I think I may have deserved it.”

Samuel chuckled to himself and shook his head as he leaned forward. Fry looked at him and frowned. “What?”

“Oh. Nothing. It’s just... this ‘friendship’ thing. Even an idiot could see there’s more to it.”

“I don’t know, I can be pretty dumb sometimes,” Fry said with a shrug. She looked away so that Samuel wouldn’t be able to see the confusion in her eyes. Her feelings for Leela were something she hadn’t been able to address even in her most private moments. Amy had been easy. Well, Amy was always easy... but the divorce and manipulation of feeling had been simple. With Leela, at first it had seemed the same. Feelings changed. Situations were different. But now, seeing her like this, Fry suddenly realised with a sickening lurch that she didn’t know. The emptiness she had felt wasn’t an simple lack of feeling but a void, a place where a feeling ought to be but wasn’t. She found herself biting her knuckle again and quickly pressed her hand to her thigh.

“I’m right, there’s more to it, isn’t there?”

“I...” Fry looked at Samuel. He had wonderfully deep brown eyes, eyes she could stare into for hours if given the chance. She looked away again. “I don’t know. It’s-”

“Complicated?” Fry bit her lip and nodded. Samuel just shrugged. “All this complication, it’s hard to see how I fit into things.”

“Oh it’s pretty obvious how you fit into things,” Fry said, only realising how that sounded after she’d finished. She covered her mouth. “Sorry.”

“I think I got what you meant,” Samuel said, and smiled. He leaned back again and stretched his legs out. “She has feelings for you. You have feelings for her. Neither of you can admit it to yourselves or to each other, so you’re deceiving yourselves. That isn’t complicated. It’s weird, considering where I am in this ménage-a-trois right now, but not complicated at all.”

“The curse of my whimsical gender,” Fry said sadly. Samuel frowned. He stood up and walked over to the bed, where he looked down at Leela again. Fry watched him from her seat, peering against the fog of fatigue that kept drawing down on her mind. “What I’m trying to say is, you make her happy. I suppose that makes me happy.”

Samuel nodded. He took Leela’s hand and stroked it. “I think I have things figured out.” He turned to look at Fry. “You two spent hours in my cafe, talking about all sorts of weird crap that didn’t make any sense to me. I’ve see what that crazy scientist you call your boss gets up to. Sometimes we hear the explosions right up at my apartment block. See the creatures he lets out in the river now and then...

“I’ve got a group of regulars who are fascinated with that place. After the opera they went nuts trying to find out everything they could about you people. Newspaper cuttings, rumours on the internet, it’s a bit creepy actually, how far they’ll go to get their information. When you two started visiting they went completely insane about it. I’ve made more money from them in the last six months than I’ve ever made in my entire life.”

Fry swallowed. She wasn’t tired now, not in the slightest. Adrenaline had surged into her veins as Samuel spoke. She twisted her neck to try and relieve the sudden tension. “So, so what?”

“I remember the story you told just now. The captain who was attacked by giant space bees and spent two weeks in a coma they said she’d never wake from.”

“Yeah. I sat and talked to her every day.”

“A man sat and talked to her every day. They span it as a love story.”

“A love story? Oh I wish it had been... a...” Fry felt her heart freeze. He knew! She stood up and turned to leave. “I’d better-”

Samuel reached out and took hold of her arm. “Wait.”

“Why?” Fry tried to pry Samuel’s hand from her arm but he was a little too insistent, and she was tired. “Let go of me.”

“I’m sorry.” Samuel let her go, but it was obvious he didn’t want her to leave. Fry waited for him to speak again. “So. You used to be Philip Fry, the man who wrote that opera and then disappeared when it was a flop. You got changed somehow. I don’t know how, I don’t even care how, but I expect that ‘Professor’ of yours was involved somewhere.”

Fry nodded, an almost imperceptible motion, but somehow more profound than the revelation to the crew. She sat down again. “I guess you think I’m some sort of freak now.”

“We can’t help being who we are,” Samuel said, leaning against the bed. Leela stirred slightly at his presence, but otherwise didn’t move. Samuel stroked her arm very gently. “I love this woman, and I’m pretty sure she loves me. I’m also sure she loves you too.”

“You mean loved.”

“When you’re around a bunch of literature nerds you very quickly learn to be careful with your words,” Samuel said, staring at Fry. He didn’t look away. Fry felt a strange tingling under her chest, that heat she had felt before, surrounding the void, as if something was burning within her heart.

“Oh. Oh hell.” Fry tried to find something to look at. She bit her lip and took a deep breath, trying to ignore the sudden insistent beating of her heart, though it felt like her chest was about to explode from it. “And I thought things were complicated before.”

Samuel let a wry smile grace his lips. “Tell me about it.”

They sat in silence for a moment, each thinking their own thoughts. Fry looked at Leela again, watched her stirring a little as the anaesthetic started to wear off. She was probably starting to dream now, and for a few minutes Fry wondered what she would be dreaming about. She turned her gaze back to Samuel again. “What do you want to do?”

“She’s proud,” Samuel said, ignoring the question. He walked to the far wall and stared at a medical diagram. “She couldn’t admit her feelings about you before, there’s not a chance in hell she’ll be able to do it now.” Samuel turned and looked at Fry again, a strange smile on his face. “And, on one level that’s good for me. But... on another level, it means she’ll never be completely mine.”

“She never would have been anyway.”

“I know.” Samuel leaned on the counter. He stared at the floor and sighed. “I just don’t know what to do.”

“I don’t think it’s your decision,” Fry said, standing up. She looked at Leela again with a faint smile. “You know, I think I do love her still. Enough to want her to be happy.”

Fry put her hands together and looked at Samuel again. She smiled, even as every fibre of her being screamed at her to throw the man out. She ignored the voice and turned to walk out of the door.




Leela could feel herself waking up. That absolute darkness always scared her a little, always brought back tenuous images of being trapped in deep tunnels with no escape – held in long, loving arms, but trapped all the same. Probably some sort of genetic memory. She tried to focus on her last conscious moment, which had involved a great deal of pain. Leela peeled open her eye and stared at the ceiling of the medical bay. More vague memories flitted through her mind, half-remembered dreams and snatches of conversation. Sedation sucked. She took a deep breath, trying to clear her head. Her shoulder itched and felt hot and tingly, but apart from that everything seemed normal.

Someone took her hand. A shadowy figure leaned over. Leela blinked back cobwebs and tried to focus. “Samuel?”

“Hi,” Samuel said. Leela levered herself upright and pulled him into a hug.




Fry sat in the galley, nursing a cup of coffee with a little extra oomph from Bender’s quarters. Sleep hadn’t come, despite her exhaustion. She stared at the wall, sipping her coffee now and then, her face blank.

“So hey,” Bender said from his pile in the corner of the room. “You look a little down over there sweetcakes.”

“Don’t call me that,” Fry said automatically. She shook her head and blinked as she realised who was speaking. “I mean, yeah. Sorry.”

“All those feminine emotions and things huh?”

“That sort of thing.” Fry put her coffee down and reached for the malt liquor she’d ‘liberated’ for her coffee. She’d barely touched spirits since the change. They got her drunk too fast.

“Hey, go easy on that stuff,” Bender said, concern tingeing his voice. Fry tried not to sneer at him too much before downing a another slug of the drink. “I’m serious, Fry, you fembags aren’t designed for that sort of thing.”

“So it’s not because I’m stealing your precious fuel then?”

“Aw, hell no, right now my power draw is almost zero without all those servos and things to keep moving. I could last for another week at least. I’m telling you because it’s the truth.”

Fry put the bottle down and peered at it, then at Bender. “I don’t believe you.”

“Fine. Be that way.” Bender rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. After a moment he looked down at the parts he was laying on. “Uh... Could you fold my arms for me so I can be in a bad mood?”

“Can’t be bothered,” Fry said. That liquor was even stronger than she’d thought. She poured a measure in to her cup, stared at it, drank it and then peered at Bender’s heads. Perhaps he was right. It didn’t help that she was so immensely tired. “What do you care anyway, tin man? Hah. Tin man. What a raff... laugh... to hell with you!”

“I hate to say I told you so. No, actually I love it.” Fry lurched out of her chair and stumbled across the floor to Bender’s pile. She stared down at him, cheeks flushed and wobbling under the unaccustomed volume of alcohol. Bender would have shivered if he had a body. And if he could feel cold. Instead all he could do was look up as Fry leaned over and lifted him up to her face level. “Hi.”

Fry wobbled a little but seemed to be recovering from the initial liquor shock. She peered at Bender. “What would you care about me?”

“Believe it or not, Fry, I’m your friend. I think being blown to pieces sort of brought home to me that you have to hold on to the friends you’ve got otherwise you end up in a heap on the floor.”

“Didn’t help you much then,” Fry said. She giggled and prodded Bender’s parts with her toe. Bender looked to one side and grunted.

“I’m still working on the metaphor.”

“It’s not like you have anything else to do down there,” Fry replied, but she was smiling now. She held Bender up above her head and looked up at him. “Am I really your friend?”

“If I say yes will you put me down? I’m getting vertigo.”

Fry giggled again and tucked Bender under her arm. “You’re cute when you’re scared,” she said as she meandered toward the crew cabins.

“Hey I’m not scared! Or cute!”

“Hush,” Fry said as she opened her cabin door. Amy was still on the flight deck, so the cabin was empty as Fry sauntered in. She propped Bender up on the dresser and sat down on the bed.

“Nice pad,” Bender said as he looked around the room. His gaze settled on Fry again. She still had the whisky bottle gripped in her hand, though she didn’t seem to notice it any more. “You’re really hitting that stuff hard, Fry.”

“Yep! I’m drowning my sorrels...”

“Sorrows.”

“Whatever!” Fry stared at the bottle in her hand and frowned at it. She put it on a bedside table. “I’m very drunk aren’t I.”

Bender rolled his eyes. “Oh, you noticed? And I thought you were dumb before!” He laughed at his little joke and at the same time watched Fry to see how she’d react. She didn’t. There wasn’t any anger or annoyance, or even an ‘I don’t care’. She just didn’t notice him. “Oh boy. Fry...”

Fry staggered to her feet and wobbled at Bender. It seemed about all she could do. “What do you care about me? You said I wasn’t your friend, now you’re pretending so you can get me into bed or something.”

“Jeeze! Fry, that’s disgusting!”

“Then stop looking at my ass!”

“I’m not looking at your- Oh for god’s sake Fry!” Bender snapped his eyeshield shut before Fry could properly heave out of her clothes. He listened to the crazed woman as she stumped about the cabin. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“You’ve seen me naked before,” Fry said. Her voice was slurred now.

“I didn’t like it much then either,” he replied. Bender couldn’t hear any sign she was drinking more. He tried to adjust his internal sensors to check if Fry had put something on yet. No such luck. “Fry, don’t make me do that ‘reaching out’ thing. I hate that. Just tell me what’s wrong so you can fix it and put me back with the rest of me.”

“I left my nice pants at the hotel,” Fry said with a sad voice. She picked up Bender and hugged him, and Bender was suddenly very glad he didn’t have any tactile sensors active in his head. His inertial guidance system told him he was moving back toward the bed, which was confirmed when the bed creaked as Fry sat down. It was more of a bunk, really, set into the wall. Amy’s bunk was on top. It sure beat the hammock Bender was still using.

“Sure you haven’t got another set somewhere? I know you skinnies always seem to be wearing the same stuff but you’ve got an entire wardrobe full of clothes over there. It can’t all be Amy’s.”

Fry put Bender down on the bunk and walked off in the direction of the closet. Bender let his sensors creep out again; it didn’t count as looking if he wasn’t using his eyes. Fry had mercifully put on some underwear and was in the process of pulling on one of the many pairs of jeans she always wore. At least, Bender assumed it was one of many. He didn’t have to worry about hygiene as such, but the thought of all that organic matter being layered into a small piece of cloth made him generate sensations that could be a fairly close approximation of nausea. He waited for Fry to find a blouse before opening his eyeshield again.

Fry pulled a small bottle of Flushers Detox Pills from under the bed. She popped two and grimaced. “Ugh. I hate these things...”

“So. What’s the matter with you,” Bender said, reciting the phrase verbatim from the book he’d memorised. Fry picked him up again and rested him on her lap. The detox was already kicking in. Her skin was flushed and damp. She looked him in the eyes and tried to smile.

“It’s Leela. She loves me.”

“Great, more emotions.”

“I love her too,” Fry continued, looking away. Bender’s eyes widened in surprise. Calculon would have been proud, he thought, then ran a quick check on his memory retrieval subsystem to make sure it wasn’t malfunctioning.

“You said you weren’t a-”

“I know! It’s all so confusing. I mean...” Fry stood up and started pacing back and forth, never taking her eyes off Bender. She lifted him up. “I love her, but at the same time I don’t. It’s weird.”

“What you mean is, you’re not sexually attracted to her,” Bender said. He paused for a few milliseconds as he tried to figure out where the thought had come from. All those books seemed to be affecting his thought routines.

“Back then that’s all love was for me,” Fry said quietly, still pacing. She turned and walked past the table to look out into space. The stars moved imperceptibly, nothing like the way they’d scooted past in Star Trek – in some ways the routine of space travel had always been a bit of a disappointment. She looked down at Bender again. “I thought I was a pretty enlightened man. I thought I was pursuing her because of some sort of pure love, but all I really wanted to do was screw her brains out. Now I don’t want to do that, but I still love her in some way that seems like the purity I was after before. Only it isn’t. So much for enlightenment.”

Bender sighed. This was the bit he always hated about women, especially human women. They talked about things instead of just getting themselves down to a repair shop for a quick fix. “Why not just go and tell her that instead of moping about it?”

“You’d think it would be easy,” Fry said. She put Bender down on the table and sat down next to him. Bender dearly wished he could escape back to his comfortable pile in the galley. At least then he might have a chance of pulling himself together again.

“It’s easy. You just walk into her cabin, get down on your knees and say ‘Leela, I am hot for you’. Works every time.”

Fry gave Bender a pitying look. She took a deep breath and stared out of the window again, a wistful look in her eyes. Bender rattled his mouth slot and tried to think of something else to say that wouldn’t seem insulting. That in itself was an odd sensation. The idea that he should care. “Stupid books...”

“What?”

“Oh. Nothing.” Bender looked down at the table. When he looked up again Fry was leaning over by her bunk, picking up the whisky bottle again. She stared at it, but didn’t drink anything. Bender rolled his eyes and looked away, trying to find something else- Wait... “Fry, what’s that in your back pocket?”

“What?” Fry turned around and tried to look at her own rear. She twisted around twice before she realised what she was doing. Fry put the bottle down and reached into her pocket, where she found a folded piece of paper hanging out at a funny angle. She pulled the paper out and unfolded it. “Oh, it’s that note the Professor told me to look after,” she said, staring at the paper. She scratched her head. “‘The matrix field has reset’ is all it says. Doesn’t make much sense...”

“Probably wasn’t meant for you anyway,” Bender said. He looked around the room, or at least what he could see of it from his vantage point. “Look, can I go back to my pile now? All this talking is great but Leela’s new ‘boyfriend’ said he was going to fix me up later.”

“Sam.” Fry sat down at the table again. She flattened out the note with her hands, stretching the creases out of it as best she could, and stared at the words. “Resetting itself? What does that mean?”

“Perhaps his experiment-” Bender almost bounced off the table as Fry suddenly leapt to her feet. She ran for the door, then skidded to a halt and returned to grab Bender. “What’s going on?”

“No time to explain,” Fry said, tucking Bender under her arm as she ran.

“Leela,” Fry shouted as she ran into the medical bay. The bed was empty. Zoidberg shuffled over from the far corner, where a crude bed was half way through being assembled, and looked at Fry. “Where’s Leela?”

“Discharged herself she did. I told her she needed to rest but nobody listens to Zoidberg.” The Decapodian sighed and clacked his claws together, a sad staccato that echoed around the room. “Some day people will listen to Zoidberg.”

“I’m sure she appreciated it, doc,” Fry said, edging back to the door. She turned and ran toward Leela’s cabin. In the galley she paused and propped Bender back on the pile of his parts. “I’ll come back and get you in a moment,” she said as she left.

“Great! Bring booze!”


Leela’s door only slid open a fraction and her single great eye peered out of the twilight. “Oh. Hi Leela.”

“Phi, I’m sort of in the middle of something here,” Leela said with just a hint of anger in her voice. She moved herself across the gap – she was wearing a sheet. Fry swallowed.

“Right, well, this is kind of naked. I mean important. I need you to come up to the bridge, like, right now. I can’t explain. I need to call the Professor and I need everyone there when I do.”

“Have you been drinking? Fry-”

“I took a detox, Leela, I swear I’m sober. I found this note in my pants.” Fry threaded the now-wrinkled paper through to Leela’s waiting hand. She unfolded the note and scanned over it.

“That doesn’t explain anything, Phi,” Leela said as she passed the note back. She glanced over her shoulder into the darkness of the room. “Look, whatever this is...”

“Please. Leela, if you’ve ever trusted me before, trust me now. I need you there.”

Leela narrowed her eye a little. She stepped back. “All right, but I’m warning you, if this turns out to be a waste of time...”

“I know, I know, I swear this will have a point.”

“Wait there.” The door closed again. Fry leaned against the opposite bulkhead and waited. She even whistled to herself, but couldn’t keep the mood for it for long. Up ahead she could hear Amy shouting something on the bridge but couldn’t quite make out what it was. She straightened up and looked down the corridor.

“All right,” Leela said as she walked out of her cabin. Samuel crept out right after her. He jumped, surprised when he saw Fry.

“Aw, Leela, you said-”

“No I didn’t! It doesn’t matter anyway, everyone’s figured it out by now,” Leela said, grabbing Samuels’ hand. She looked at Fry, her eye narrowing warily. “Lets go.”




Amy glared across the bridge at Zapp, one hand resting on the control panel, the other held out as if she could shield herself from Zapp’s presence. “I don’t care how you got out of the laundry room, you are not taking over this ship.”

“Oh but I must,” Zapp said with an ingratiating smile. He took a step toward Amy. “There are greater things at stake than simply getting your crew home. I have to get to my ship.”

“You don’t have a ship!” Amy put her hands on her hips and raised an eyebrow at Zapp. “I heard you promoted to Ambassador General. That’s not a military rank.”

“I always have a ship!”

“Actually, sir...” Kif held up his hand, though he stayed well out of Zapp’s grabbing range. “Strictly speaking Amy is correct. Your rank precludes you from holding any military position.”

“All the more reason why I need this ship!”

“No.” Amy took a step forward, hands raised protectively against the overbearing General’s bulk.

Zapp clenched his hands and narrowed his eyes at Amy. The young intern qualied slightly under the gaze but didn’t retreat. “Now listen to me you little-”

“My my,” Leela said as she entered the bridge, cutting off Zapp’s threat before it could form.. “Seems like every time you’re on my ship you try and steal it from me.”

Zapp stepped back in surprise as Fry and Samuel sauntered behind Leela, holding various parts of Bender. He seemed to struggle for words. “Leela! You’re alive?”

Leela took her seat behind the controls. “Like you’d care. Amy, scanners. Phi, you get on the radio.”

Zapp took a step toward Leela, his brow creased. He held out his hands to her. “Leela...”

“Not now Zapp,” Leela replied. She leaned over her controls and peered at them. “Amy, how many times have I told you about putting your feet on the dashboard?”

“Leela, listen to me.” Zapp grabbed her arm. Without even thinking Leela turned and punched the inside of his elbow. Zapp howled in pain as his arm folded and he pitched toward the deck, where he landed face-first with a nasty crunch.

Leela rolled Zapp on to his back with her foot and glared down at him. Zapp’s nose was bloodied from the impact. He looked up at her with a terrified expression. “Don’t you ever touch me again.”

Zapp let off a fractional nod. He rolled over and, nursing his injured arm, pushed on to his knees and then stumbled toward the observation couch. Leela finished re-setting the controls to her own preference and turned to look at Fry. “Okay Philippa, time to make that call.”




“Well yes, it’s very simple really,” Professor Farnsworth said once they had finally managed to reach him. He was wearing his nightcap and apparently little else, though fortunately the lights in his bedroom were too dim to really be sure. “The truth of the matter is, I had worked out how to transfer elements of the universal matrix quite a while ago, but certain anomalies kept turning up in the results.”

“The fireballs,” Fry said, leaning forward. Farnsworth nodded.

“That’s certainly the prettiest part of it, yes, but there was more.”

Fry unfolded the paper she was holding and held it up to the screen. “You left a note.”

“Yes. Yes, I did. Many times, apparently. Many times.” Farnsworth lifted up a similar piece of paper. The same note was written on it. “I found out that the universal matrix transfer creates a closed time continuum, sort of a miniature universe that has no outer boundary and sticks over the top of our own universe, something like a fridge magnet.”

Bender, now sitting on Fry’s lap, piped up. “That why I’ve been wanting to sing the Dixie Chicks’ entire back catalogue all this time?”

“No, you stupid robot, it’s a metaphor.”

“Wow, jeeze, I was only trying to lighten the mood...” Fry stroked Bender’s scalp-plate, though she knew it wouldn’t have any effect on the robot. She looked around the bridge, took in everyone’s faces as she worked up the courage to ask her next questions.

“What does it mean?”

“Oh well, it’s simple really. The small-scale experiments I’ve run created alternative reality matrices that were about thirty feet across. Resetting them produced a condition where, within the matrix area, I had no longer performed the experiment, which meant that my notes to myself kept disappearing. It was only blind luck that my last one fell on the floor and outside the range of the matrix transfer effect.” Farnsworth peered at the paper he was holding as if he’d never seen it before. He let go of it and then watched it drop to the floor with a strange, thoughtful expression. “The area affected seems to be some factor of the number of bosons, or perhaps the initial volume, altered by the transfer. The accident that created our current reality matrix had an effect about twenty thousand light-years across, most of which was caused by your change, Fry.”

Fry swallowed and looked down at the floor. It almost felt as if she was responsible somehow. She looked up again, wanting to ask more, but her mouth was dry. Leela turned to look at Fry. She asked the question Fry didn’t want to. “What will happen when you change Fry back?”

“The same volume of space will be reset, give or take a few dozen light-years. It will return to a state very similar to the one it would have held if the matrix transfer hadn’t happened.”

Leela looked at Samuel. “You mean we’ll forget everything?”

“Oh my no,” Farnsworth said with a broad smile. Leela relaxed a little. “You won’t forget it because there won’t be anything to forget. You’ll never have experienced it in the first place.”

The bridge was silent as everyone absorbed the full impact of the Professor’s revelation. Fry looked at Leela again. She was holding Samuel’s hand. Fry felt something snag in her heart at the sight. She couldn’t take that away from Leela. Not now. “We can’t do it,” she said. Amy gasped.

“Fry... Phi, you can’t be serious.”

“Yeah Fry,” Bender said in a low voice. “Last week you said I didn’t have to make an effort because you’d be changed back to your old self.”

Leela turned an accusing eye on Fry. Fry swallowed and looked around the bridge again.

“I... I can’t do it. Not if it means losing everything I’ve experienced over the last few months. Leela, I made real friends in you and Amy. I’ve learned things. Now I’ll have to give it up and be the man you barely tolerate? I can’t do that. I can’t lose all of this.”

There was a shuffling noise from the front of the bridge as Zapp pushed himself out of the couch. He walked toward them, still nursing his injured arm and sporting a trickle of blood on his uniform. “There’s more to it than just you,” Zapp said, frowning at Fry. He seemed unsure of what Fry meant, but for obvious reasons that had never stopped him before. “There’s the problem of my reputation. And the Ruklisk.”

“Oh lord, the flare...” Leela looked at the Professor, who seemed to have retreated out of range of the screen. “Professor, would this reset prevent those fireballs?”

“Of course it would. It would reset everything.”

“So the flare that hit the Nimbus...”

Farnsworth re-appeared on the screen, sporting his usual coat, though he was still wearing the nightcap. “Do you only have one ear to match that eye or something? None of it would have happened!”

Zapp’s grin was triumphant. He punched a fist into his hand “This is perfect! I would retain my ship and the aliens wouldn’t be embarrassing me with their behaviour.”

“Oh of course, because the great Zapp Brannigan being embarrassed is just too much for the human race to bear,” Leela said. She gave Zapp a disgusted look and shook her head. But then she turned to look at Fry, and her face softened. “Still, the idiot’s right. If we do this, we won’t be facing an alien invasion.”

“We don’t know that for sure,” Fry said, holding Bender’s head defensively. Bender rolled his eyes.

“Hey, keep me out of this,” he said. Fry tilted him a little to one side and glared at the robot.

Leela stood up and walked toward Fry. She held out her hands. “Come on Phi, this isn’t helping. Give me Bender’s head and come sit down. We’ll talk about this, okay?”

Fry swallowed and lowered Bender’s head a little. She looked at Leela, and then slowly handed Bender over.

“That’s right,” Leela said, putting Bender to one side. She held out her hand again. Fry took it, flinching with nerves when Leela started to draw her forward again. She lead Fry to the scanners console and sat her down.

“There’s another signal coming in,” Amy said. She walked over to the Communications console. Wow, it’s on every channel.” Amy sat down and activated the communication screen. An image of the Grand Councilwoman Glab appeared, flanked by two Ruklisk holding oversized plasma rifles. Her face had a familiar, emotionless look as she spoke in a near-monotone.

“-der of the Democratic Order of Planets, all commercial interstellar fleet activity is hereby suspended until further notice, all interplanetary fleet activity is likewise suspended. Martial law is being declared on the primary DOOP homeworlds. This message will repeat for the next five hours. This is Grand Councilwoman Glab, President of the Democratic Order of Planets. In the last few hours there have been several reports of violent exchanges on the Ruklisk Colony of Eridani. I am here to clarify up those rumours.

“Several hours ago, a group of terrorists invaded the final signing ceremony of our peace accords with the Ruklisk and attempted to assassinate the DOOP high council. Many civilians and innocent bystanders were injured or killed by their attempt.

“Please ignore the rumours that have sprung up regarding these events. The Ruklisk and the Democratic Order of Planets are cooperating to bring the perpetrators of this act of terrorism to justice. We are issuing a formal arrest warrant for the following people. Turanga Leela, Earthican, former Lieutenant Kif Kroker, Amphibiosan, former Ambassador General Zapp Branningan, Earthican, Samuel Maxine, Earthican, Amy Wong, Martian. These criminals must be apprehended immediately.

“The Ruklisk fleet will move into DOOP space in order to facilitate the search for the terrorists. By order of the Democratic Order of Planets, all commercial interstellar fleet activity is hereby suspended until further notice, all interplan-”

Leela cut the power to the main viewer and slumped back in her chair. “Well poop.”

“Oh we’re boned,” Bender said, then laughed. “And by ‘we’ I mean ‘you’, since I wasn’t on that list. Nice knowing you guys. Anyone got a cigar?”

“Perhaps you didn’t notice that we’re all on the same ship together,” Leela said, turning to glare at Bender. The robot looked away. “If they come after us right now, you’re as dead as we are.”

“Oh. Yeah, I forgot about that.” Bender glanced out at the stars. “Don’t suppose you could drop me off somewhere? I hear Alpha Centuri is quite nice this time of year.”

Leela ignored the plea, concentrating on her controls. She turned to look at Fry again. “Look, the choice is simple. You can stay the way you are and end up like that...” Leela waved her arm at the blank screen. “Or you can go through with this and save the entire galaxy. You won’t be the only one giving something up, Phi,” Leela said as she took Samuel’s hand again. Samuel smiled uncertainly. “This last year has been a wonderful time for us, but we can’t think about ourselves when the fate of half the galaxy is at stake. If you really want to call yourself my friend you should think about that.”

“But-”

“No buts. Besides, whatever happens, we need to get to earth before we can even think about attempting to fix this and that won’t be easy with the DOOP chasing us.” Leela turned to look at Kif. He cowered, a reflex learned from countless years with Zapp, then slowly brought himself upright again and smoothed down his clothing and gave Leela his full attention. “Is there any way we can prove that message was faked?”

“If we had any evidence, we could get close to one of our ships and try to broadcast it to them before they blow us up,” Kif replied, looking around the bridge. He clenched his hands together. “I don’t really see what we can use, though.”

“We do have evidence,” Leela said, looking at Bender, now back on Fry’s knee again. Bender sighed sadly.

“I guess Alpha Centuri’s out then, huh?”

“Yep.” Leela picked up Bender. She looked at Fry and tried to give her a re-assuring smile. Fry just stared at her knees, her face blank and unmoving, and probably with good reason, Leela realised. It was almost too much for her to bear. Leela looked away before she had to chance to say something stupid.

There was a loud stomping as someone clambered up the steps on to the Bridge. Hermes paused at the top, panting. He looked at the assembled crew. “Me and wife were just watching the news when I saw a message saying all of you has theselves set up as criminals,” he gasped, leaning over to catch his breath. “What in the name of the great Marley is goin on up here?”

Buddies