Futurama

Fan Fiction

What Lurks Beneath, part 2
By Amathyst

As the sun rose over the rooftops of shining chrome, flexisteel, and Kevlar plating, television screens all over the city of New New York displayed the smiling face of Linda, as she read the first report of the morning. “In today’s news. Disturbing sightings in New New York. There have been reports from citizens all over the city claiming to have seen things of a disturbing nature. Here is a recording of one such citizen.”

The screen showed the image of a young man, who had brown hair. He was too unremarkable to remember anything about his appearance after seeing him for more than two seconds. “It was horrible. When I first saw it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. God help us if this keeps happening.” He began to shiver. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to walk down that street again…”

Linda reappeared on screen. “That was recorded this morning, but similar accounts have been documented for the past few weeks. Citizens are horrified and appalled that something of this nature is being allowed to go unchecked. This in mind, authorities have encouraged anyone knowing of someone with the intent to wear a hoop skirt to report them immediately to the police, as this is an arrestable offence due to freak accidents in the past.”

Taking up his cue, Morbo started into his section of the report. “On a lighter note, humans and assorted pets have been reported missing over the last week. Police spokesmen have stated that they can’t figure out what could possibly be causing this to happen, but they are hopeful that it will be resolved in the near future.”

Linda shook her head gravely. “Let’s hope so, the police have a dire situation with the skirt menaces and need to be able to concentrate.”

“Once Morbo’s people anialate Earth, there will be more to fear than skirts! Morbo congratulates the one who takes the humans!” As usual, Linda responded with a chuckle.

In the PE employee lounge, the professor, who was sitting on the couch watching the report shook his head. “Not good news at all. That could be something serious. Hoop skirts are nothing to mess around with.”

“Professor, what about the missing people?” Leela, who had been watching the news with her first coffee of the morning, turned to the old man. “I mean, yes, hoop skirt finatics are nothing to brush aside, but what could be taking people and animals?”

“What? It’s not a rogue experiment of mine! Who said it was? What have you heard!”

Leela put up her hands placatingly. “Whoa, easy professor, I haven’t heard anything. I was just wondering if you knew what might be doing this?”

The old man scratched his chin thoughtfully. “Hmm… well, it could be any number of things. A madman on the loose, a new reality TV show in the making, or even vanishing cream being used imprudently.”

“But how would that work with the fact that animals are going missing too?”

The professor huffed. “I’m a scientist, what would I know about any of that?”

“Well, I just thought--“

Suddenly the professor got up off the couch with a creaking of aged bones, and began shuffling away. “Well, it was nice talking to you, whoever you are. But I have important work to do.” He disappeared through the door. “Now, where did I leave that mallet…?”

Through the still open door, a few seconds later, Fry emerged, holding a can of Slurm in his hand. “What was that I heard about a mallet?”

Leela shrugged. “Who knows?” She bit her lip nervously. “So, is Bender with you?”

“He was. He’s gone to load his supply of beer into the ship. Any more about where we’re supposed to be going this time?”

“Not yet. Hermes has the details this time, but he’s on a conference call with someone at the Central Bureaucracy about something. The last time I passed by the room, they were still on the greeting formalities.”

“Oh.” Fry shifted slightly on his feet. “You mind if I sit?”

Leela blinked. “Of course not. Here.” She patted the seat next to her.

Fry came over and sat down, playing with the Slurm can in his hands. “Um… so….”

Leela Waited patiently, but Fry seemed more interested in looking at the can than speaking again. “So…?”

“Um, yeah. I was wondering… You know, with the opera and all, if you would maybe consider going out with me?” He looked at her hopefully. “When we get back from this mission?”

“Look, Fry… it’s still a little sudden for me to decide… How about we see how this mission goes, and I’ll tell you when we get back.”

Fry was hesitantly hopeful. “So… that’s a possible yes…?”

She smiled slightly at his expression. “Well, it’s not a no.”

His trademark grin turned supernova. “Well, that’s great! I’ll go see if Hermes is done with his call. The sooner we leave, the sooner we can get back!” With that he jumped up and jogged out of the room, leaving his empty Slurm can on the arm of the couch.

Leela shook her head with a sigh. She picked up the can, taking it to the kitchen to recycle, along with her empty coffee mug. Amy, who was finishing off washing her hands, turned to her as she came in. “Hey Leela. Why so glum?”

Leela placed her mug on the worktop, and opened the chute that led to the recycling bin in the basement. “I’m not glum.”

“Sure, and Zoidberg ate a full meal this morning.” Amy took the mug and swished it under the running water, before placing it in the drying rack.

Leela put up her hands, after throwing the can down the chute. “Okay, okay, I admit it, alright? I don’t know what to do.”

Amy sat down at the table. “Come, sit and tell me about it.”

Leela sat down, and folded her arms on the table. “It’s Fry.”

“Okay, what about him this time?”

“He asked me out again.”

Amy leaned forward eagerly. “And?”

“I said I’d think about it, and tell him when we get back from the long distance mission Hermes has for us today.”

Amy rolled her eyes. “Spleesh! Leela, why are you still trying to push him away? Hasn’t he proven anything to you?”

“It’s not that.” Leela rubbed her temples, trying to push back the tension she knew would come later. “It’s just… I don’t want to rush things. And Fry being Fry, he wants everything at once. I don’t want to get his hopes too far up, but I don’t want to hurt him either.”

“I don’t think it’s like that. Why not give it a try? You’ll never know if you don’t.”

Leela sighed, smiling. “I guess you’re right.”

“So you’ll give it a try?”

“Yes, I think I will.”

The door to the kitchen opened, and Bender entered, whistling to himself. “Hey skintubes.”

Amy cocked her head at him. “Well, you’re happy today.”

“And why shouldn’t I be? I have my shiny metal ass back! See?” He took great pride in showing them his returned crotch plate. “Good as new.”

Leela raised her eyebrow. “And how did you get that back? I thought the Robot Devil still had it?”

“Ah, let’s just say I convinced him to give it back in exchange for a few photos.”

Leela shook her head. “You blackmailed the Robot Devil? I can’t believe you managed to pull that off.”

“Of course I did, I’m great, after all. Besides, you must have had your own way of getting back what was took. You’re not wearing Calculon’s ears after all.” He paused. “And while we’re on the subject, where did you put them?”

“They're back with Calculon, so no, you can’t steal them. And all I needed was to give my ears time to heal. I still get humming from time to time, but that will soon go as well.”

Bender looked incredulous. “You gave them back? Are you mad! We could have made some major money with those ears!”

Leela stood up, brushing imaginary dust from her pants. “Precisely why I didn’t keep them. I knew you’d start up some scheme that would get us involved in trouble.”

As she walked out of the kitchen, Bender followed her. “Hey, I don’t scheme. I plot.”

“Of course you do. Now, come on, let’s go see if Fry managed to talk to Hermes yet.”

Walking towards Hermes’ office, they saw Fry coming the opposite way, heading towards them. “Hey guys. Hermes is just done with his call, I was coming to find you. The meeting’s starting now.”

They all started walking to the conference room. Leela gestured to the way they were heading. “Has he said anything?”

Fry shrugged. “Nope. He just said that he wanted us all there before he said anything.”

Entering the conference room, they all headed for their usual seats. Once seated, Leela looked to Hermes. “So, what’s the mission, Hermes?”

Fry chipped in. “Yeah, and why isn’t the professor the one telling us about it?”

Hermes shuffled the papers that were on the table in front of him, as he scanned all of the staff at the table, Leela, Fry, Bender, Amy (who had entered behind the others), then Zoidberg, who was snuffling at an empty box of Bachelor Chow. “Because, dis is a very important mission. The item to be delivered is very sensitive, and if de professor messed up de details, tings would go bad. Very bad.”

Amy cut in. “So it’s dangerous?”

“Yep. Which is why ya’re going with dem, Amy. Ya need to keep an eye on de storage tank dat de chemicals will be transported in.” He pushed a clipboard full of papers over to her. “Here’s de details about de tank. Temperature control, pressure requirements, and everyting else ya need ta know.”

“Chemicals?” Leela looked concerned. “What kind of chemicals?”

Hermes pushed some more papers towards Leela. “Here are de main details. It’s an experimental compound. Dey can tell you more about it at ya’re destination. Dis is a return mission. Ya’re required to stay dere while they use de chemical ya’re transporting to complete an experimental serum, then ya’re to transport de serum, along with a few personnel back here ta Earth.”

“But we don’t usually do personnel transport.” Leela peered at the papers. “Or return journeys, for that matter.”

Bender leaned back in his chair. “Yeah, what’s the deal?”

“Dis is no normal mission. I can’t tell ya much now, for security reasons, but they will explain everyting when you get to where ya’re goin’. I’m going to sort out containment and other issues while ya’re gone.”

Bender, his interest peaked, flicked his eye sensors to the paperwork held in both Amy’s and Leela’s hands. “So, this stuff is expensive, huh? And this place we’re going is top secret I bet…”

“Yes, but don’ get any ideas, ya bucket o’ bolts.” Hermes fished in his pocket pulling out a small hand held remote, with two buttons on it. “If ya try anytin’ Leela will have dis, a remote on/off switch to ya patriotism chip. Dis is a matter of security, and de authorities don’ want de public panickin’. So only we know about dis. Breathe a word to anyone else, and ya’re scrap metal.” He looked around, as he passed the control to Leela. “And anyone else is cannon fodda fer de next round of job deserters being fired inta de sun, ya got it?”

Fry blinked. “So, if we tell anyone, we get blasted into the sun?”

Bender folded his arms. “And you think that’ll stop me?”

Leela glared at him. “How about if I introduce you to Nibbler’s new triple speed can opener?”

“Yup, that’ll do it.” Bender slumped in his chair. “Okay, I won’t touch the stuff, but anything else is up for grabs.”

Leela turned her attention back to Hermes. “So I get why Amy’s coming, but why is Zoidberg here?”

“Because of de nature of de chemicals, a doctor needs ta be present. Dey wouldn’t give us de contract widout being assured dat a medical practitioner would go along, and Zoidberg is, dare I say it, de best we have. Dis is worth a lot of money, and we need to do dis properly.” Hermes sighed. “And dat means sendin’ Zoidberg, too.”

Zoidberg threw up his claws. “Hooray! I’m going on a secret mission with friends!”

Leela scanned the paperwork. “It says here that we’re headed to a research facility on Braksa’s moon, Cerul Lume.”

“Dat’s right. It’s a couple of days away, so ya had better stock de ship for de journey fer both ways.”

Bender stood up. “Well, if that’s all we have to do, then I’m going to catch some All My Circuits. Today is when Calculon meets his evil twin’s second personality who wants to kill his cousin twice removed on his father’s side while reconciling with his estranged son. It’s gonna be a real rollercoaster.” With that, he clumped off to the lounge.

Fry blinked. “Did anybody but me not get all that?”

Amy shook her head. “I sure didn’t.”

Leela shuffled the papers in her hands again. “Me either. Well, Nibbler’s here, and I need to stock his food cupboard in the ship, and then get a few other things together. And since Bender thinks he’s all set. Fry, do you think he has enough beer to last the trip?”

Fry looked at her a little nonplussed. “You’re asking me?”

She smiled. “Of course. You saw how much he brought with him today, right?”

His answer was hesitant. “Yeah…”

“So, would you say he has enough to last him till we get back?”

Fry screwed up his face in thought. “I’d say so, yeah.”

Leela nodded. “Well, that’s good enough for me.” Fry stared at her disbelievingly as she turned to Hermes. “Well, you’d best show me where this thing is.” Turning back to the table at large she said. “Right, gather what you need for a journey of a week at a minimum. Amy, you had better come with us to take a look before you start collecting your things together.”

“I’ll be right with you.” Amy waved them off. “I just want to have a quick flick through these papers to see if I need to bring any major tools.”

“Right.” Hermes stood. “We’ll be down in de hanger storage room.” He and Leela walked off, discussing finer details of the mission.

Fry looked after them, his expression still unbelieving. “What was that about?”

“Hmm?” Amy looked up from her papers. “Oh, you mean Leela asking you your opinion?”

“Yeah.”

Amy smiled. “Let’s just say she’s coming around.” With that, Amy got up to follow the other two, still flicking through her clipboard.

Fry blinked, and then looked to Zoidberg. “No point in asking you, is there, doc?”

Zoidberg pulled his head from inside the box which he had returned his attention to. “Asking me about what, my friend?”

“Never mind, doc. Never mind.”

It took a few hours for everyone to gather their possessions. Leela called the crew to meet in the hanger to be on hand for when the tank was loaded. She and Fry stood by the winch, ready to hoist. “Is everything set, Amy?”

Amy did one final check on the pressure gauges on the side of the tank. Seemingly satisfied, she gave the thumbs up. “Ready. Winch away.”

With a loud whir, the magnetic winch lowered to the tank, clunking as the two made contact. Toggling the switch for the magnet’s intensity, Fry made sure the connection was solid, before lifting the load and swivelling it so that the tank rested snugly into the clamp moorings that Amy had bolted into the cargo bay floor to hold the tank steady. Leela made sure it was safely down, before calling to Fry. “Okay, cut the magnet.” Fry did so, and Leela turned to Bender, who was leaning against the cargo bay wall, staring at his manipulator hands. “Bender, help me snap the manual clamps down.”

“What do I look like, your slave?”

Leela frowned. “Bender, come over here and put these clamps on, or so help me, I’ll use the remote.”

Bender clumped over, grumbling to himself. “Stupid chip…”

Once the tank was fully secured, Leela set about taking off. She checked over the controls and decided that everything was working as it should. She flipped the intercom to the cargo bay. “Amy, you ready for take off?”

“Yep. Go for it. I’ve got everything running smooth down here.”

Leela nodded, flipping the intercom back to standby. Zoidberg was safely stowed away in the medical bay, Nibbler was napping in her quarters, and Fry and Bender were at their stations. Turning the ignition key, the engines whined, and then roared to life, as the ramp lifted, and they blasted off into their next mission.

Buddies