Atypical Delivery, part 2
Airlocks were, and still are, a major building block in space
technology... just like Space-Legos. Without them, any type of smooth
transition from a livable state to the vacuum of space would be
nearly impossible. There are two major types of airlocks. Firstly,
the archaic two-stage airlock: Invented eons ago, this system
required the traveler to first enter a sealed room, wherein the
pressure was slowly altered to a set point. The traveler then
proceeded out the other side once the pressures matched. This has all
been rendered obsolete by the invention of the one-stage airlock. The
device makes use of dark energy (not to be confused with dark
matter), a mysterious yet palpable force of the cosmos that exerts a
negative pressure on any baryonic matter. An intricately designed
wall of energy, invisible to the eye, manifests when the portal
opens, creating a seamless pressure continuum, as well as forming a
permeable barrier of repulsion for oxygen atoms at the inner si! de,
effectively holding in the air. Such airlocks are currently in
practical use in rest stops, battle cruisers, and escape pods on
fancy cruise liners. Soon, all but the antique ships will be
The taxi carrying the crew plowed through the rest-stop’s
airlock before it could close, keeping the distance between it and
the Planet Express ship manageable. Less manageable was the situation
arising in the backseat.
“We have to go back! We have to go back!” shouted Fry,
realizing the spot they had just left their Martian friend in.
“We can’t go back, damnit!” snapped Leela. “I
refuse to lose my ship to... to whoever happens to be stealing it!”
“Amy will be fine. We’ll go back for her later.
Charlie isn’t too bad of a guy once you get to know him.”
“Yeah,” added Bender, “And it’s not like
he has anything else to do considering we stole his cargo, Fry.”
“You WHAT?” This was enough to elicit an alarum
inside of Leela. “Have you no conviction?!”
“Three last month alone, and that’s why I approve your
idea of getting as far away from here as possible.”
“Leela,” Fry tried to plead, “It wasn’t my
“Oh of course it wasn’t,” railed Leela, “I
can count on you not having ideas, but you probably just went along
with it like you always do.”
“I... I tried to stop him at first...” Fry mumbled
meekly, like a child who had made his mother disappointed.
“Well this is just great,” bemoaned Leela. “Now
I don’t know if we should– OW!”
Her head struck the ceiling of the cab as it suddenly jerked
downward, then to the left, then in many non-Cartesian directions.
The sensation felt jarringly familiar to the woman’s recently
disrupted thought process.
“What are you doing?!” she yelled to the cabbie.
“Just trying to follow that ship, like you said, ma’am.”
He responded, pointing a heretofore uncategorized appendage towards
the Planet Express ship, which appeared to be engaged in some sort of
insectan mating dance.
Leela exhaled in slight relief. “The broken quantum drives!”
she exclaimed. “How could we forget about those?! They won’t
get far at all! This makes everything much easi- OW!” Her face
struck Bender’s torso as the taxi corkscrewed.
“OK...” she forced through gritted teeth, “just...
just follow the ship’s general trajectory, alright?”
“You’ve got it, ma’am.” The driver
steadied the vessel just in time to be blinded by a bright flash.
“What the hell did that damn lobster do?!” screeched
Holly, clinging to the captain’s chair for dear life, having
previously neglected to engage her seat restraint.
“Probably nothing, he’s too stupid to sabotage us so
quickly. I’m placing my blame with the pilot,” responded
Kui, neglecting to engage restraint of a more oral variety.
“Ugh, it’s not my fault; and I can’t
concentrate! Why do you have to be so agitating?!”
“I can’t help it Hol, my spinal cord is the agitator
from an old top-loader...”
If Holly’s immediate response could be accurately
transcribed, it would be liable to contain more ellipses than the
standard geometry book. Who could crack a joke at a time like this?
They were spiraling, shaking, and shimmying towards nowhere in
particular, and the woman could tell that the ship would soon fall
apart under its own duress. She pushed the disturbing implications of
this out of her mind and focused on what she could handle.
“Get that lobst- what the frig is his name anyway? Well, get
him up here. Just in case he knows more than he lets on.”
“But... but he might be naked!” Kui’s
expression contorted in a fairly anomalous way for a killing machine.
“If you don’t get out of here in five seconds, I’ll
She bravely let the seat go with one hand and grasped her shirt
“Ack! Alright, I’m going!” The robot scampered
away like an embarrassed teenage boy.
Drastic times, drastic measures. If he could play on her
insecurities, she could play on his. Though, the thought of that
lobster’s adipose flesh jiggling in harmonic phase with the
ship was even a bit much for her stomach, which, in turn, she
silently hoped would not act in a similar manner if further exposed.
Back in the cab, the driver steadied himself as he slowly realized
he was not being attacked.
“Oh, that didn’t distract you, did it buddy?”
asked Bender, scant an iota of concern in his voice. “When
Grace’s skull here found its way to my shiny exterior, it
reminded me that I wanted to try out the camera I put in there. This
little viewfinder here locked right on to that reflection of you in
the mirror. Ah, the paltry marvels of non-Bender technology...”
“Alright, alright, just take it easy,” huffed the
cabbie. “My driving’s not exactly stellar... well wait...
I guess by its very nature it is... but-”
“Picture’s ready!” shouted Fry, reveling in the
current diversion. The camera spat out a photo into Fry’s
waiting hand. He gawked uneasily at it.
“This isn’t you...” Fry declared to the driver.
“It’s some creepy alien with a white face wearing
“Hmm... looks like one of those dancer guys from the Cirque
du Alpha Centauri,” replied Leela, peering over Fry’s
shoulder. Apparently, she had been hoping for a distraction just as
“The what?” croaked the cabbie, peering back into the
“Y’know, the Cirque du AC?” Leela resumed, “It’s
this big spectacle that travels from system to system and a bunch of
girly guys dance-“
“They are NOT girly! They are cultured!”
Bellowed the driver, with a tone that suggested a nerve had been hit.
“Yeah, I suppose that you can’t stereotype....”
dawdled Leela, expressionless, “But regardless, if you get your
kicks dressing like that and prancing around, you’ve got a
“You... take... that... back.” The cabbie raged, now
with a tone that suggested a nerve had been sliced and haphazardly
torn from the flesh. In a starling coincidence, Fry concurrently lost
“Alright man,” he started, “I don’t think
she meant any-“
“It’s you!” shouted Bender, still
analyzing the photograph. “You’re the crazy sissy in the
leotard! Why did you tell us you were in the Cirque?”
“I’m... I’m not! I just... I just...” The
creature’s voice cracked, and he suddenly became quite
despondent, but this emotion was quickly followed by a blinding fury.
“Listen you freaks, I don’t know where you come from or
what kind of vile mind games you’re playing but I have had
enough! Get the hell out of my cab!”
With that, he pressed a glowing red button on the dashboard. Two
“Crap!”s and a “Huh?” barely escaped to the
front of the vessel before a divider shot up between the two sides,
sealing them apart. The back instantaneously jettisoned from the
front, while said front made a quick U-turn, heading back towards the
rest-stop. The passengers met his icy stare as he passed by.
“Arg, she didn’t mean it! I have screws loose all the
time! It’s a robo-compliment!” blathered Bender, as if he
could still be heard. Further protests dissolved into a string of
unintelligible syllables as their speed of expulsion increased at the
same rate the taxi disappeared.
“It’s no use Bender,” sighed Leela. “We’ll
have to ride it out.” She pointed out the flat glass window
that now acted as a windshield of sorts. “We’re drifting
towards that planet over there. Hopefully it’s inhabited, and
hopefully he wasn’t cruel enough to disable the auto-reentry
Meanwhile, Fry’s thought from a minute and a half ago
finally reached his mouth. “What’s happening? Why was
that guy so mad?”
“He jettisoned us.” Leela began. “The
Astro-Jettison Act of 2860 reserves cab drivers the right to abandon
unruly or dangerous passengers, as long as there’s a decent
chance they’ll survive. As for why he was mad...” Leela
took the picture into her hand.
“This does look like him...” she confirmed. “What
is with this camera you stole?”
“Who cares!” shouted Fry, briefly swapping places as
the pessimistic one. “Are we going to die or not?” He had
had enough angst for the day. At least 500 angstroms of it, by his
“Probably not.” Leela assured. “Though let’s
hope there’s a hospital within a mile or so of where we land.
This won’t exactly be safe.”
“Woohoo! Another free bag of glucose!” Fry shouted,
and was content.
Amy gazed lingeringly into those cold eyes. Buried under the
layers of odium, there was some empathy, and that’s probably
why she hadn’t been hurt yet. She could understand why Charlie
was so upset, but really, were the restraints necessary? Shuffling in
her chair, the Martian was briefly able to see things from his side,
and considered that she too would probably want some collateral if
something of value had been taken from her. In truth, she held some
empathy for Charlie’s situation as well, but it shared the same
“You’re... you’re not going to do anything to me
are you?” she stuttered, noticing she sounded a lot more shaken
than she thought she was.
Charlie sighed. “Look kid, I know you didn’t do
anything wrong, but I’m not letting you go anywhere until I get
back what’s mine. I’m not trusting anyone anymore.”
“But... but they need to get our ship back first! You’re
going to leave me tied up for hours?” Frankly, she was used to
the arrangement, but not the circumstances. “Why don’t
you go after Bender... follow their cab?”
“Because I’m in no mood for a chase. Worried about
them not coming back, are we?”
Amy could tell where he was going with this. “They’ll
be back as soon as they can. They’d never abandon anyone.”
“That confident in your friends, eh?” Charlie
reiterated, slowly thumbing through the contents of Amy’s
wallet, pausing on her pictures of the crew. “Hmph. And a
Reptile lover I see...” He held up a particularly adorable
print of Kif and Amy.
While she fought the urge to correct his nomenclature, Foster
developed a wry sort of smile. “Heh, I’m twice the man he
could ever be.”
“…I’m a quarter the woman you’d ever
Charlie laughed earnestly at this, but in one unbroken motion
viciously kicked Amy’s chair over. With no way to stop the
fall, Amy took the brunt of the impact, but stayed focused on her
assailant’s next move from her back. He was still infuriated,
but... he wasn’t even looking at her...
“You’re losing it! Losing it! Think this through!”
He barked at a nearby mirror. There was a pregnant pause, and it
appeared to be triplets. “Damnit... why can’t I...”
he broke off sharply. “Fine! I’ll do it. We’ll
catch up to your friends, they’ll get their ship, I’ll
rip your robot to shrapnel, and we’ll all be on our way, OK?”
“OK.” Amy muttered weakly, quite disconcerted by the
psychotic tone Charlie’s voice was taking on. Without
hesitation, he was peering down at her.
“Right. Let’s go.” He said calmly, reaching down
and offering a hand.
Amy timidly gestured toward her bound arms with her head.
“Uhh...-” she started.
Charlie blinked. “Oh! How stupid of me!” he chortled
awkwardly. Swiftly retracting his outstretched arm, he turned around,
and walked away.
On the impaired Planet Express ship, Holly steered to the best of
her ability; it felt like the ship was disintegrating all around her.
Having given up on an escape, she began a dicey descent into the
atmosphere of the first habitable planet she was able to reach.
“The landing gear was non-responsive, Kui,” said Holly
“Aim for a lake Hol, I’ll count how many times we
skip,” the robot mused dryly. Holly was no longer in the mood,
though she never really had been.
“Kui, do you want to die?!”
“I wasn’t being serious, I-“
“No, I mean, do you want me to kill you, right now, with a
sizeable blunt object?”
“Well then help me or SHUT UP!!”
The edge on her voice was nigh enough to cut the tension in the
air. Kui peered out the windshield and took a deep, unnecessary,
simulated breath. The planet’s surface no longer appeared
spherical; they had one shot at this.
“Alright Holly my dear, the best way to do this is to bisect
the gap in between those two mountains over there, then bring it to a
sliding stop on the downhill section behind them.”
Holly exhaled deeply, making up for the fact that Kui had
forgotten to. “Right, I see.” She attempted to adjust the
trajectory, aiming for a rather tiny opening flanked by two
intimidating peaks. “Like this?”
“Yeah, just hold it steady. Bisect the gap, and then- woah!
More bisectually! More bisectually!”
Kui ducked for cover, as if a lower stance would help his
situation. The ship had had enough of listening to its driver, and
very nearly careened off of the leftmost summit. On a desperate whim,
Holly cut the engines completely, realizing that they were going to
miss their only soft landing spot. For a brief moment, her body
relaxed completely. At least the violent quaking was over, and they
had done all they could. Finally having an opportunity to, she
latched her seatbelt tight, and turned to her still cowering
“Keep ducking Terminator, your crash position might actually
help you this time around.”
She braced herself. This was it. The last thing she heard made her
both wince and smile in the most morbid of ways.
“You fixed the shaking while I got my shell? Splendid! I was
beginning to wonder if- Brrrraaaa!!!!!”
Quantum physicists, or ‘quantum mechanics’ as they
came to be known (due to the fact that they were the only people able
to fix any invention based on their theorems) achieved near celebrity
status in 2900, when the last possible law in the field was
successfully crafted. A unified theory was complete, allowing for the
understanding of everything scientifically explainable. That said,
the mechanics became arrogant jerks, secluding themselves in cliques
and having lengthy, high profile ‘scientific’ meetings.
Nothing is truly accomplished at these summits, since everything
to be discovered already has been. However, they continue to convene,
even as their celebrity status wanes to that of B-movie stars,
spending meeting after meeting rehashing pseudoscientific jargon in
the hopes that it will make them seem important again. Their last
report looked something like this:
New Super-Awesome Laws of Nature
1) If something has happened, there is still a chance that it did not, in fact, happen.
2) If something didn’t happen, there is no chance that it happened.
3) That said, a box is a surprisingly inadequate place to keep a particle.
4) Pauli Exclusion Principle: The head of Wolfgang Pauli is no longer allowed to these meetings, because he is a loser. (voted for unanimously by all scientists, except Heisenberg, who remains uncertain).
All things considered, quantum mechanics are brilliant, but no
longer do anything useful for society. The odds of finding one
anywhere, besides at a sleazy bar shouting pickup lines like, “Hey
baby, your structure is hyper-fine!” are incredibly low.
The odds of finding one in places where you’d actually need
one are nil to negative slim.
“Hey, this planet’s habited!” squealed Fry,
“We’ll find a ride and a mechanic here for sure!”
Fry crawled out of the taxi-half and surveyed the desolate town
they had landed by. Everyone had survived the spectacular crash, as
usual. Crashes had become so mundane to the trio that Leela had even
stopped mentioning them in mission logs and diary entries. They
simply weren’t worth the waste of time to describe them.
The cyclops checked her wrist. “Hmm, breathable air…
and this planet is recognized by DOOP, so they speak English at
least. Maybe we’re not totally boned.”
“Wait, wha?” Fry faltered.
“Haven’t you noticed that no matter where we go, you
can communicate with people? When DOOP headquarters moved to New
Jersey, the universal language became English. All citizens of DOOP
planets are required to know it… except the people of Earth…
for some odd reason.”
“Oh…” Fry seemed enlightened. “I
just thought everyone in the future used telepathy.”
“Well that’s just stupid. When have you ever-”
Fry raised his finger as if to interject, and stared cogitatively
“Fry, I can’t read your thoughts.”
“Oh, right. Well, then- hey what the-”
Overhead, a distinctive shape plummeted through the atmosphere. It
was a beacon of hope, as well as a normal beacon, not associated with
an emotion. Leela raised a fist to the sky.
“Don’t crash my ship, whoever you are!!” she
“Yeah, you’re stealing her job,” quipped Bender,
finally emerging from the capsule.
“No one crashes like I can,” Leela replied, quite
proud of herself. “C’mon, we’ve gotta chase it
down. It’s going to land miles from here. Let’s head into
town and see if we can bum a ride.”
“Or ride a bum.” added Bender.
The two carbon beings started to walk towards what appeared to be
the most populous section of the town ahead of them. Bender followed
“Hey guys, check out this picture I just took!”
Holly lay slumped in her chair, drifting back into consciousness.
A small light directed at her face, she opened one eye grimly and
mumbled to the blurry red figure holding a flashlight before her.
“Uhhhghh... am I dead?”
“Yes. I’m so sorry. I did all I could-”
“You?!” the woman shot, hate proving the elixir
required to bring her around. “You’re... you’re...
but you’re not even hurt?!” This clearly bothered
her substantially. She closed her eyes again, running a hand through
her hair and over her neck. Either she had sweat more than she ever
had in her life, was currently bleeding to death, or had wet herself
in extraordinary fashion. Forcing her eyes open again she scanned the
area, and with that, dissected her predicament.
“Please be blood...” she muttered to herself, but
didn’t venture to check her hand for the telltale signs.
“We. Are. Screwed!” Kui’s voice echoed through
the halls as he approached. “This ship is totaled!
Communications are down! Either we start walking, or we somehow
miraculously put this contraption back together. And those engines
don’t make sense to me at all!”
“Well, we can always try...” Holly tried to sound
confident; she didn’t like the sawtooth Kui’s normally
sinusoidal speech had taken on. She changed the subject. “Hey,
am I bleeding?”
“Yeah, but it’s mixed with a lot of sweat.” The
robot was loud enough, yet distant, if such a thing was possible.
Holly decided to put her concerns to the test.
“Hmm… I’m surprised I came out of it so well,
not a lot of padding around here.”
“Yeah...” The robot murmured. Now she was truly
“What, no fat joke? That was a perfect set up! Are
“We’re... we’re not making it out of this Hol.”
He suddenly sobbed. “We’re going to die and this
lobster’s going to be here through it all, as unharmed and
stupid as ever.”
In fact, Zoidberg had not moved since Holly first saw him. He
remained quiet, watching purposefully.
“C’mon now...” She was not used to situations
like this at all. “I’m sure it’ll work out OK. Grab
a medkit for me and one for the ship; we’ll give it a try.”
“I... I saw some weird looking ferret thing hoarding a
medkit back in the halls. He was by the gravity field former, which
seems to be in working order at least. I’ll snatch it from
him.” The robot slowly steadied himself.
“Repair kit’s probably down that ladder,” Holly
commented, pointing across the cockpit. “So grab a kit for me,
“Which one, the former or the ladder?”
“We’ll need both.”
“Medkits?!” Zoidberg suddenly interrupted, “Those
are for patch jobs and quacks with no talent! I have a whole office
full of medical equipment! Used syringes, body bags, shell glue,
Holly considered beating him to death with a piece of his own
carapace, but then thought of a much more clever solution.
“Well, I am bleeding a little bit, and I have a
hangnail. Do you have any heavy duty tranquilizers?”
“OK, Doctor, you can help me.”
Kui visibly brightened, which meant either he was a bit happier or
had just blown a potentiometer.
“See Kui, at least some things work out,” she said,
allowing Zoidberg to dutifully carry her out of the room. “Let’s
get started as soon as I’m done with him, I’m getting
“Mmm... a bit forced now. Wait for your moment,” she
critiqued through a sincere smile. As bad as the situation was, it’d
be much worse if they didn’t stick together.
Bender’s picture depicted a scene so busy that Leela and Fry
had to squint a bit as they walked to determine everything that was
going on. Like the picture taken before, the photo itself was
monogrammed ‘N.S.’ in the far lower right. The scene
portrayed completely corroborated Leela’s suspicion of what was
specifically unique about the camera other than simply that. Bender
was on center stage surrounded by countless robotic and human fans
alike, Beck at his side, money, booze, and cigars nearly rained from
the sky. Leela scoffed lightly at the sheer selfishness this implied,
but smirked when she first noticed the purple and orange spots in the
crowd. She wondered if Bender had even noticed the whole crew was
there in the front row.
Noticing Fry’s perplexed countenance beside her, she gave
him a short explanation.
“Don’t you get it Fry? This camera takes a snapshot of
what you most want.”
“Oh... I was wondering why someone would build a camera that
inserted you into a random performance.”
“Well... actually that could be true too, but my version
makes much more sense.”
“Well, let’s try it out again and find out!”
shouted a contented Bender, raising the camera to point at Fry. Leela
instinctively snatched it from him as if the subsequent shot were to
fire a bullet.
“Let’s not.” she demanded, and then added, far
too awkwardly, “We don’t know if it has any adverse
effects... could be... could be dangerous!”
Embarrassing thoughts scampered through Leela’s hassled
mind. Perhaps it was a bit narcissistic, but she knew at least one
thing Fry had always wanted to do, and though it may not have topped
his list, she wanted no chance of discovering such a scene on film.
Granted, she knew Fry wasn’t as bad as Zapp, who went as far as
to retain half a dozen of most items so he could say “sex-tuple”
more than any normal person should. Still... something about what
image could fade onto that exposure, be it of her own exposure or
not, set her on edge.
A bus passing on the opposite side of the intersection they had
just reached looked awesome enough to dislodge the guys from any
rebuttal. It skidded into the terminal, unfolded itself into an
Optimus Prime type character, did a quick penance as passengers
boarded, then folded back up, speeding away with remarkable
efficiency. As it drove off, Leela caught of the glimpse of the sign
on the side of the bus: “CAUTION: Bus Kneels.”
Heretofore unnoticed due to this spectacle, the bussing facility
came into view across the street.
“Looks like a bus is our best chance,” Leela said,
“I’ll go in there and see if any are headed east; you
wait here in case one comes by while I’m asking.”
Elsewhere, in a galaxy, far far away, life was proceeding as usual
for the two earthbound members of Planet Express. The ceiling had
been painted, the couch was deservedly sanitized, and the lab animals
had been mostly re-emboweled. The Professor was quietly asleep, and
Hermes joyfully reveled in the lack of din. He quintuple-stamped a
form entitled “Box Delivery to Disorgatron,” thereby
vowing on his bureaucratic badge that the package had arrived. It was
a typical delivery, so though he hadn’t heard anything from the
crew yet, he remained either blithely confident in their success, or
blithely apathetic to their fate. All was well.
“Hermes, bring me my formal bed-pan!”
Meanwhile, the typical delivery has turned atypical, and was only
getting worse; Leela had hit another jam. Of course, for this crew, a
typical delivery was atypical, and anything not atypical was far from
a typical experience.
“So... there are no more buses running today?”
“Nope, that was the last one” the teller politely
“Could I order a taxi of some sort from here?”
“Well, you probably could, but, they won’t accept
foreign currency or extragalactic credit cards without numerous ID’s,
and the banks have already closed. We’ll be closing soon too,
now that the last bus has left.”
Leela scratched her head; this was looking more and more like a
“Well... can you try to get me a loan?”
“Baby, I’d love too get you alone.”
The wink that followed sent a familiar shiver up the woman’s
spine. Perhaps luckily, Fry concurrently burst through the door,
interrupting the ill-fated flow of the conversation.
“Leela, let’s go! Another bus is coming by! We can
Realizing she was practically at a dead end anyway, Leela vaulted
the queue rope and easily beat Fry to the door in pursuit of the bus
that was indeed passing by. Following close behind, Fry and Bender
waved their hands desperately, trying to catch the attention of the
driver, who had apparently failed to stop at the nearby terminal.
Nearly a half-sprinted block later, Leela realized the pursuit was
futile; she was losing ground, and could not keep up much longer. She
slowed to a walk and made a U-turn, noting with some meager delight
that it would be a few seconds before Fry and even Bender reached
“It’s useless,” she said as they slowed to a
halt. “I’ll have to try to convince that teller to help
us. According to him there’s no more buses, so we have no other
means of transport.”
Looking up, however, Leela noticed the lights were now off in the
building they had come from.
“No! Don’t be closed now!” Leela ran back at a
fatigued pace to discover a ‘Closed’ sign on the door,
yet none of anyone within.
Plopping herself to the curb with blatant disregard for her
posterior, Leela exhaled. They had no chance of getting to their ship
now, unless another unscheduled bus randomly came by. Seeing as one
just had, she reasoned there was still a sliver of hope. Noticing
that once again Fry and Bender had caught up to her, she turned to
“Did you manage to see where that bus was headed, Fry?”
“Oh, yeah. I saw the going-to display. It’s heading to
a place called Knotten’s Irviss. Do you think it’s near
where we need to go?”
“Knotten’s Irviss?” That didn’t quite sit
right with the woman; though she couldn’t exactly determine
where she knew that place from, she was positive that she had heard
of it before.
And then it hit her, like a sack full of sacks full of dark
“Fry... it didn’t by chance say NOT IN SERVICE,
“Um... maybe? I don’t know, the bus was moving really
fast.... Oh, also, I can’t read that well, and have bad gums.”
Fry now cowered from the all-too-well known furrowed brow and
emergence of the vein, which he had semi-affectionately dubbed
‘Veiny,’ on Leela’s forehead.
“This is perfect, just perfect! Because of you, we have
“Bender, enough with the damn camera!”
Leela winked the spots from her eye and grabbed the contraption
“No. More,” she seethed. This was her breaking point;
any other surplus of emotion would set her over the edge, which is
why it must have been the prominent self-destructive side of her
psyche driving her pupil photo-ward as the blips faded from her
oversized retina. The result was nearly enough to send her
More bittersweet than the chocolate she was wishing she had a
cubic fathom of right now, the photo was simultaneously a striking
rendition of a treasured desire and a slap to the face. She, Fry and
Bender were there, each carrying boxes into a well-furnished
apartment. Her parents embraced in the sunlight streaming
majestically through the open window-
“Oh, God...” Leela choked. She’d need a
dictionary, a translator, and a Geiger counter to explain how she was
feeling at this point, but it didn’t matter. She broke down
just like her ship had before, leaving Fry in the uncomfortable
predicament of determining just how much to comfort her, knowing he
was a large factor in her current emotional fragility.
Fry lay an arm gently over her shoulder and sat down as close to
her as he could without getting tingly. He looked at the photo as a
rush of understanding found its way through his synapses.
“It’s not fair!” She sobbed, “This
is how it should be. The fact that this is only feasible in my
wildest dreams is just plain wrong! My parents belong on
Earth’s surface.” She paused to look around. “WE
belong on Earth’s surface! But nothing’s going right...
nothing has since we started.”
She looked Fry in the eyes for the first time, but couldn’t
hold her gaze there for more than a second. She had shown weakness,
and she hated that far more than she hated Fry right now.
“I’m sorry.” She wiped her eye and looked down
at the ground. “I should be leading you right now... I just
don’t know what to do... I-”
She stopped; something had caught her attention on the
“Bender, why has this camera taken four pictures? It
should only be three.”
“Well, four is a baker’s three when you think about
it...” Bender started to wheedle.
“Just tell her,” Fry insisted. The delivery boy sensed
the gravity like an anvil near a neutron star, and for once the robot
“Oh, alright. I took Fry’s picture while you were at
the bus place. But it’s not that interesting.” Bender
grudgingly reached into his compartment, pulled out the stashed
picture, and handed it to Leela, who, oddly, was finding that she
wasn’t as mad at this revelation as she should have been. Maybe
her emotions had finally had enough.
“It’s just a picture of me holding a black piece of
paper,” Fry explained, “I mean... I’m not dissing
black paper...” He clarified, “I can just think of a few
things I want more... like a light-saber, or a Frisbee.”
Leela skeptically went over the new picture, slightly calmer now
due to the digression. Indeed, it was as Fry had described it.
Apparently taken from the point of view of Fry’s eyes, one hand
on each side grasped a black rectangle in the foreground. The
background gave no further clues.
“Well, I wanted to save this for later... but…”
Bender started, interrupting all deductions Leela was making.
Regardless, at least this trivial mystery provided some deductions
other than those to her sanity. Bender had produced another device;
one Leela had yet to see.
“The camera wasn’t the only cargo?”
“Yeah, what gave that away?” Bender chided, twirling
his new toy playfully. “This is the ...uh... Fry what’s
“The Lawbreaker one point... something.”
“The Lawbreaker One Point Something!” He repeated
proudly. “It just might be our ticket out of here.”
“Do you know what it does?”
“Honey, do I even need to?” Bender replied, offended.
“Whatever it does, I’m going to use it to rob one of
these shops and then we’ll have the money we need to get a
ride. Simple as that. Now for a test run...or something... yeah.”
He pointed it at a nearby building and pressed a random button.
In her retelling of the event, all Leela could add to her log was
The three materialized, currently unaware that they had ever
dematerialized, on a shady glen by a worn dirt trail.
“And now that the test run is complete...” Bender
continued, “I need a drink.” He reached into his
compartment for a high-proof cocktail.
“What happened? Did that thing blow up the town?” Fry
shouted, a bit panicky.
“We’re nowheres near where we just were!”
Leela exclaimed, looking at her wrist computer. “We’re 92
miles east of... wait. We’re right by the ship!”
“But how?” Fry was gleeful yet confused, which only
differed from his usual gleeful ignorance by the desire to learn.
“Bender...” Leela started, “That thing doesn’t
break criminal laws... it breaks physical laws. If these readings are
correct, we were vaulted here at light speed with no means of
Bender had yet to catch up with his captain or the significance of
what she just said.
“Doesn’t break criminal laws? What a rip!”
Bender sighed, but was quick to rebound. “Oh well, let’s
see what else it does.”
“Don’t you dare!” Leela barked. “We might
have gotten lucky this time; next time we could reappear in vacuum,
or break some other law and be converted into pure energy!”
“Or we could break the physical law that keeps our teeth
from chewing into our own brains!” Fry added.
“We don’t need it now anyway; we have a mile walk to
the ship. Let’s get a move on,” Leela commanded,
steadying herself in her leadership position again.
As they walked up the dirt path, Leela broodingly pulled out her
picture again. It made her so happy... and yet so utterly miserable
at the same time, but she kept hoping the first would outweigh the
second. She needed it too. The monogram in the bottom right caught
her attention. “N.S.” She wondered what it meant. She
pulled out Fry’s picture; it had the same exact marking in the
bottom right. All the pictures had it. What could—
She froze, letting Fry and Bender get ahead of her. There was
something extra here. Leela squinted at the picture of two hands
grasping a black rectangle...
“The monogram...” she whispered to herself, “The
monogram’s on the black paper too! But that means it’s
This thought completed mentally but not audibly, because something
even more important had attracted her attention. The hand on the left
side was clearly Fry’s right hand, and the one on the
right side was Fry’s left hand. That didn’t make
any sense. She noted a hint of red sleeve on the right hand; this was
definitely Fry… but…
The photo was practically jammed into her eye at this point, and
Leela was fast realizing that the second hand was definitely not
Fry’s. It was too slender, too feminine... too familiar...
A total explanation hit her all at once. It clarified it all so
well; it had to be right. It couldn’t be right, but it had to
be. By now Fry had turned around, spotting Leela gaping at one of the
photos. As he reached her, the only sound Leela could make was a
half-second unification of a cacophony of emotional byproducts...
Luckily for Leela, it sounded somewhat like a sneeze.
“Uh... Bless you.”
All Leela could do now was look Fry in the eyes as she put
the snapshot away. Fry read the severe insecurity, but misguessed the
“It’s... it’s OK Leela. When we get back home
we’ll give your parents a good long visit, alright?” A
pleading, yet empathetic smile spread across his lips.
She had no words, and instead wrapped Fry up in an embrace that
would have dented Bender’s back had he been the target. Fry
accepted the lack of oxygen as a fair trade for this moment, and
tried his best to console her despite being completely unaware of
both what had transpired and the depths of his own affections. When
Leela let go, she spoke only what her emotional semi-permeable
membrane would let back out.
“You get on my nerves a lot Fry... but… but you’re
a really good friend. I just wanted you to know that.”
“And you know I would never want to work with anyone else.”
“Thanks,” She said, wiping yet another tear from her
“If we’re done leaking fluids here, I’d like to
get moving again!” shouted Bender; he was far ahead of them by
now. “If you don’t hurry up I’m downgrading dinner
from secondary to tertiary rib!”
Leela and Fry caught up, not hand in hand, but closer than two
would normally walk. They both had had a slight boost in morale for
their own reasons, and perhaps it was in the cards all along that
only now could they read the sign around the bend. It made Leela
laugh gawkily and Fry pump his fist teasingly in a minor celebration.
[Welcome to Knotten’s Irviss]
The field of medicine in the 31st century can only be described as
magic by most. Heart attacks, heart murmurs (a variation of THS),
achy-breaky hearts, dislocated faces, and other common ailments all
have simple and effective cures. Doctors can do almost anything, but
as it goes, they have no fiscally solvent reason to do so. If
everything in the universe were to be cured, just what would become
of the doctors? Thus, some ‘incurable’ diseases are left
to reproduce unscathed, and remedies for afflictions such as obesity
are reserved for those with either a lot of money or the required
Similarly, it makes sense that the common med-kit only has enough
remedial value to keep one alive long enough for want of another
med-kit. Indeed, a standard med-kit is about as remedial as it gets.
The dermis-fusers work only for minor cuts, salves are painful and
inefficient, and painkiller bottles actually contain SweetTarts and
watch batteries. In some ways, the PE crew is lucky to have a doctor
as amicably willing as Zoidberg. While he’s clearly unsuited
for his profession, he actually wants to help, and will use
anything at his medicinal disposal (or from his medicinal
disposal) to do so.
Holly rubbed the back of her head; the minor wound seemed healed
enough, and part of her wondered if it had not simply been the result
of her brain attempting to escape her recently abusive body. She
checked the sprawled doctor one last time to make sure he has been
properly knocked out and would not wake during their repair work. By
her calculations she had about twenty-four hours to go, and quite
frankly, part of her wanted to be sedated as well.
“Holly, get down here! Something broke off and I can’t
tell if it’s from me or the engine!”
The woman locked the door as she left.
“I’m coming Kui, be careful down there! If the
stabilizers are quantum then there’s a chance of duality!”
She hustled to the ladder; hoping her two pre-dropout years of
technical training would pay off.
Amy struggled to free her fettered limbs, annoyed that her two
years of technical training could not help her this time.
Charlie had not been back yet, and she wondered just where they
were flying, just what her captor thought he was doing, and why they
hadn’t caught up to the rest of the crew yet. What time was it?
Had she fallen asleep or just zoned out? Now semi-prone and shifting
to her side, the cool tile floor chilled her face to a peculiar numb
state. If she could just stand up… but the chair was too heavy
and unwieldy for her petite body. For once, the Martian wished she
had her captain’s build.
Just when Amy had contorted herself in the most compromising
position imaginable, Charlie sauntered back through the doorway.
“Oh I’m sorry, am I interrupting something private?”
Amy dropped flat again in anger and embarrassment. The chair
pressed ruthlessly on her as she landed, but she didn’t dare
“Hey, how about untying me now? I’ve been good,
“I’ll let you go once I get to your robot; isn’t
my word enough? Look at things from my side.”
Amy didn’t bother to ponder this, but had resigned to make a
“Will, will you pick me back up at least?”
Charlie obliged quicker than he would have liked, and steadied the
chair back at its normal position at the table. Amy heaved a sigh of
relief just before the lizard’s rough hand grasped her wrist
She cringed and closed her eyes… but no harm or violation
came. She meekly opened them again.
“Hey, where are you going with that thing I wear on my
“You have Leela’s frequency in here I assume. We
passed the cab your crew was in a while ago, but it had
“I thought it’d be easy to find them at first but
there’s a few planets they could be on, and I don’t feel
like searching too hard. I’ll get a lock on her with this.”
Amy didn’t respond; this explained why her friends hadn’t
come back for her, but then what had become of them?
“Surprised it does more than make calls and organize dates?”
Charlie continued though the stillness, “Don’t worry
sweetie, I won’t mess with your calendar.”
He lingered as the cloud of patronization settled like a fine
powder over the room, then promptly left the woman to baste in it.
Amy was beyond infuriated as the door slammed shut. Despite her
casually ditsy ways, any misogynistic behavior immediately sent her
spiraling into feminist student mode.
“As soon as I get free...” she seethed to herself.
“I’ll show him who the clever one is. I’ll blind
him with science…”
For the time being, of course, she would simply have to tarry away
Back on the planet that Fry, Leela, and Bender had never bothered
to ascertain the name of, a small plume of smoke visible past the
valley they had entered finally gave visual confirmation that they
were near. Leela held out an arm to stop the other two, and turned to
“Alright, we don’t know who or what we’re
dealing with here. It could be pirates, criminals, or confused
geriatrics. In any case, we’ll attack-”
“What if it’s just Zoid-”
“-we’ll attack via attack plan 41 Surround.
Everyone sync their Captain Cadoodle Secret Spy watches. Fry, what
time do you have?”
“Exactly 12:00… now! ...wait… 12:03…
12:05! My God, we’re in a time warp!”
“Turn off the stop watch.”
“And Bender, that’s not a standard Cadoodle-issue
“Yeah, well in retrospect, the cab driver had it coming.”
“Whatever. You guys know the drill…”
“I thought ‘The Drill’ was attack plan beta
“For the last time Fry,” Bender shouted, “no
“Not that type of drill!” Leela interjected “And
besides, you’re thinking of attack plan beta awl router bore”
“All routers bore?” Fry wasn’t keeping up.
“Oh yeah,” Bender replied. “Have you met my
half-sister Link-Sis? She goes on, and on, and on…”
The squabble continued for several minutes; almost a page straight
out of A Bot and Costello’s latest comedy routine. When
they had finally sorted it all out, they took their respective
positions, and closed in on the waiting vessel.
Anger at the unidentified hijacker mounting, Leela made her way
through the light brush at the base of the slope. The ship looked
pretty banged up, and this just added fuel to the fire. Fortunately,
no stray fuel had been added to the ship, which had until recently
been on fire. Narrowing her eye slightly, she spotted her quarry.
They were right there in the open, working diligently on the engines
in the same way a 5-year old works diligently on a tax return. Leela
sized them up. Fry and Bender could probably take the robot down,
especially since they had the element of surprise, though she
surmised that that could easily be countered by the element of
uranium. The woman, Leela noticed, was of a similar build to her,
though a bit shorter in stature. Leela had no doubt she could handle
her, unless she happened to be armed, which was a frightening
likelihood. She smiled wryly; the odds were better than usual.
Some blinking lights and a refreshingly cheerful spy ditty
signaled that it was time to move in. Taking a breath, she silently
crept closer to the back of her crumpled vessel. With any luck, she
would arrive at the same time as her cohorts, and-
Leela slumped; Fry and Bender had beaten her there, and were now
staring down the anode end of an ion pistol. On the
much-less-dangerous idiomatic plus-side, Leela was thereby in
the perfect position to strike. Taking a few stealthy strides, she
launched into a flying kick, only with great difficulty quelling the
standard Kung-fu scream until after she had made contact; it didn't
feel as satisfying. Leela made perfect contact with Holly's dominant
wrist, sending a shot wide and the gun itself tumbling to the ground.
She had been aiming for the back of the woman's head, but this, she
deemed, was close enough.
Bender and Kui both lunged at the gun for different reasons, while
Holly spun around in nearly a complete circle, grasping her struck
"Owwww! Hey, what’s the big idea here?"
"We're taking our ship back, you no good evil pirates!"
shouted Fry, completely ignoring the epic struggle for survival/a
free gun being waged behind him.
“Your ship?! We already have this ship's owner
"He's not the ship's owner!" Leela shouted, enraged by
the thought. "I'm in command, and-"
"Our intel says this ship has one occupant,"
Holly tensely explained. "And he fits the comprehensive
description of a 'big creepy alien' in my book.”
Leela took a threatening step in. “What did you want from
“Nothing from you, you nutcases.” Holly also
took a step forward. Fry took a step back. “If you must know,
we were sent to steal something called the ‘Lawbreaker’
from this ship, but really I don’t care anymore and I’m
quitting and I give up… so it’s all moot now, so get out
of here unless you want to help us fix an engine.” Exasperation
had flooded all of the ire from her voice.
Bender froze upon hearing the name of the device he pilfered, and
was promptly shot with a quick ion blast.
“Ow! Quit it!” He went to snatch the deadly weapon
from Kui, only to realize that his own finger was already on the
trigger. Repressing an embarrassed laugh, and noting that shooting a
robot with an ion pack was obviously pointless, he nonchalantly
stuffed the pistol in his cabinet, and then turned to the puzzled
women. Leela was the only one with both the proper information and
the wherewithal to piece it together, and as if they were aware of
this, all uneasily waited for her to speak. Instead, she chuckled
“I think you hijacked the wrong ship, uh…”
“Holly. The Lawbreaker was in the ship next to ours, being
piloted by none other than a big creepy looking alien, who by now is
after us anyway since we already stole it!”
“You were hired to steal it too?”
“Nope, just a hobby, baby,” Bender bantered casually.
“Anyway, we’re going to have to give it back to him,
because a friend of ours is in trouble if we don’t. After that
you’re free to try to steal it again, I guess. Though I
wouldn’t recommend it.”
“Can’t we just have it now?” Holly
moaned. “I need this paycheck.”
“Sorry, no can do. But you can help us fix our ship,
unless you want us to kick your asses then charge you for the
Holly sighed deeply, in a way which made the empathy flicker in
Leela like a broken neon sign. Holly turned to her fallen friend,
still rubbing her lower arm.
“You didn’t happen to get that gun back did you?”
“Alright then, we’re in. We’ve been trying
She pointed to the engines. It was pretty questionable whether the
ship could fly even if the engines and stabilizers were fixed at this
point, but it was worth a try.
“Wait, no it’s not!” said Leela, mulling similar
thoughts through her head. “We can’t do this without a
Fry joined in, remembering the problems from before. “Yeah,
no one here is smart enough to know the science-thing stuffs inside
the engine-mabobbit. I mean, it’s not like someone has some
sort of magical tool that makes enginescience not matter-“
“He’s right!” Leela interrupted.
“He said something?” Kui chided.
“What about it?” Holly asked, apprehensively.
“We learned what it does… sort of; it breaks physical
laws at the touch of a button. We just need to pick the right
“So… maybe if we pick the right one, the engine will
“There’s a chance, but there’s also a chance
that it’ll backfire and kill us all.”
“What, the engine, or the plan?”
Holly and Kui exchanged prolonged glances. Fry and Leela felt left
out, and therefore had an exchange of their own. Bender wasn’t
one to share.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” Holly sighed, “By
the sound of it this isn’t even what the boss was looking for.”
“Who’s ‘The Boss?’” asked
“Ooh! I know this one! Tony Danza!” Fry confidently
“Actually, we don’t know,” said Holly, ignoring
the redhead. “Kui and I worked freelance in anything from petty
to grand theft, and anyone who gets in contact with us stays
anonymous. It pays enough to get by, but seriously, I’m done
after this. After what that lobster put us through…”
“Yeah…” she seethed, “Zoidberg.”
The name rolled off her tongue like a bookcase down a ravine. Kui
trembled at its utterance.
“You didn’t… kill him, did you?” asked
“No, like I said, he’s tranquilized in the med-bay.”
“Oh…” and he sounded quite dejected. “Well,
the slightly more reason to hope the ship explodes!” He
shouted, brandishing the Lawbreaker and taking aim.
“Hold it!” Leela shouted.
“I am!” Bender retorted, waving the controller
playfully in her face. Leela took the opportunity to grab it from the
robot’s lax fingers. “Aw… I gotta stop doing
“Everyone get back; we’ll stay in a group, and I’ll
try one button.”
The group did as instructed; it was a bit unnerving for them all,
huddling near people they didn’t exactly know and could barely
even trust, but when faced with the unknown many are apt to act in
unusual ways. Leela held the remote out, and paused for a moment. Was
this the right thing to do? Something was nagging at her in an
As if on cue (in Leela’s mind at least), the side door of
the ship snapped open and Nibbler bounded out. He had been watching
the situation unfold from the cockpit, and upon realization of the
actions to be taken, decided it was best to join his owners, even if
it meant giving away his expert door-using prowess.
“Nibbler!” Leela shouted, as her pet scampered to her
leg and clung on lovingly. “How could I forget my
snuzzie-ooki-wunkins?! Aw… you’re OK!” She picked
him up and hugged him tightly. This display of simple affection
upping the spirits a bit, Leela turned to her ship yet again.
“Ready?” she asked, nearly rhetorically, “Now!”
Aiming the controller over Kui’s shoulder, she held her
breath and pressed a button.
The proceeding seconds were about as anticlimactic as her night
with Zapp. Nothing happened. Nothing at all. Without rethinking the
situation, she hastily jabbed at a second button, by now with the
sentiment that any reaction was better than the discomfiture of no
reaction. This time, the unthinkable happened. With a flash of life
the ship’s engines flared into sudden action. Fry jumped at the
sound and bumped Holly, who toppled into Kui, knocking him down.
“It worked!” She yelled, “what did you do?!”
“I have no idea,” admitted Leela. “These buttons
aren’t labeled. I guess… I guess it knows what
you want to happen. It’s really helped us out twice now.”
She paused, looking hesitantly at the prodigious device she had
wielded. “Now I’m never touching this damn thing again.”
She opened Bender’s chest and put the device next to the gun
and the camera.
Fry and Holly pulled Kui up. “You alright?” They
asked, nearly in unison.
“Yeah… yeah…” he muttered. “You
didn’t bump me that hard. It’s just my head…”
He clutched at his metallic skull. “Doesn’t feel too
“Might be left-over from the crash,” said Holly, “Or
maybe when you- uh… Kui?”
Holly stared intently at the automaton’s face.
“What, what?! Is there something on my nose?!” he
squirmed, and went to wipe at his face, but instead his hand unhinged
from the wrist and folded back into itself. “What the…”
“Your eyes are red… blood red. Maybe you should lie-”
“ARMING!” Kui shouted, taking a jolted step back,
surprised at his own tone. Where his hand once was, a large machete
popped into place from within his armor. “What’s
Nibbler leapt from Leela’s arm and ran for the hills;
literally. In a Lassie-like way he beckoned for the others to follow,
but no one was paying attention to him. Three more knives, a menacing
looking laser turret, a medieval mace, a can of mace, and a purple
light saber had sprouted from compartments scattered about the
“LOADING KILLBOT BATTLE TACTICS… oh God, help me!”
“Yeah, that’s who needs the help,” said Bender
to Leela, both stepping towards the direction Nibbler had bolted.
“I can’t… I c-c-c-AQUIRING TARGETS!” Kui
tried to move in two directions at once, fighting his programmed
instincts with whatever he could, but he was clearly losing the
battle. Holly took one courageous step forward, a step closer to
losing a battle of her own.
“Kui! Ku-i! It’s me, Holly!” She seemed
more desperate than the crew would have liked. It didn’t appear
like she was used to this. In fact, Holly had never encountered
anything like this before, ever. The turret locked on her.
“Uh… yeah, it’s me, Fry!” Fry
“Yeah, that’ll sway him.” Bender remarked.
“Hmph. I don’t even think we even introduced ourselves
earlier…” added Leela, backing slowly up the hillside.
“Don’t worry; you’ll have plenty of time to
while we’re bleeding.” Holly avowed, now abandoning her
brief flirt with bravery.
“He’s a killbot… a real live killbot,”
Leela rambled on, “I’ve never met one before.”
“Neither have I…” Holly replied, almost in a
The three crewmembers hit the ground with instincts born from
years of tight scrapes; Holly closed her eyes with a whimper that
implied that she knew much more than scrapes were coming.
From inside Kui, something resembling the sound of a large man
blowing an empty dart gun resounded across the otherwise deserted
glen. Then, the briefest of eerie silences resounded even louder.
Leela sprang to her feet.
“The gun’s not charged! Move it!”
Holly wheeled about, snapping back to the reality of the
situation. Hitting stride just as Fry and Bender regained their
footing on the slope, the group headed uphill.
“Fry, quick! Sacrifice yourself! …thousands of
times,” Bender pleaded, remembering their foe’s weakness.
Fry didn’t listen, and as their run slowly morphed into a
climb, the sounds of wild slashing and swinging grew ever closer.
Grasping for a handhold, Leela half climbed and half dragged
herself up the precipitous terrain. She had a slight lead on her
counterparts, which at this point granted her the dubious honor of
hearing the most deaths before her own. A knife struck the rock above
her, and she had to sway abruptly, letting it fall past her. Holly
approached on her other side.
“Uh, can you can climb a hill to escape a Killbot?”
“No, only bears and Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Noting the implied futility, the two women stopped, then rolled,
pinning their backs to the wall to survey their fate. Fry and Bender
had done the same a yard or two below, the latter now sporting the
handle of a machete for a hat.
Kui stood mere feet away from the men, all remaining weapons
poised. He shuddered lightly.
“I...I-I-I- I’m... sorry” he stammered, raising
an arm to strike.
Holly and Leela were unceremoniously doused in a disgusting goo
which, for one truly horrifying second, Leela’s mind reckoned
to be Fry’s various organs and fluids. A searing, tingling pain
flooded the woman’s wrist the next, and she instinctively
grasped at it, only to cause the pain spread to her other hand.
Meanwhile, the goop was moving, purposefully leaving her person,
headed back towards the...
“What... the... hell?!” Holly slowly shouted as
Leela’s wrist device jettisoned to the ground in a shower of
Just below them, Charlie Foster’s ship clung to the cliff
face like the residue from Fry’s nasal septum, the
ferromagnetic landing aperture resolidifying after the initial impact
splash. Fry was climbing steadily towards the women through the
impeding ebb of magnetic material, whilst Bender, meanwhile, was in a
giddy heap, already nearing the second verse of ‘Oh, Susanna.’
Holly edged towards the ship.
“.... ... Kui?” she asked, unsure of whether or not
she wanted a response. Her beckoning was greeted only by the sound of
the side door flinging open, and a distorted flight of stairs
deploying. Charlie stormed out as soon as the staircase allowed it,
and irately surveyed the aftermath.
“Damnit! Got the wrong freaking robot...” he yelled,
briskly shimmying towards his true target, who currently was in no
position to defend himself. The reptile reached down, and with one
frighteningly brawny and precise twist of the machete decapitated
Bender, proceeding then to discard the blade and beat this new
acquisition against the cliff face.
“I thought I saw Susanna-” Thwack!“-saw
Susanna”Thwack!“OW! Hey, thanks! I
was-Thwack!“going crazy there for
a-“Thwack!“Oof! So you can stop-“Thwack!
This continued for longer than was probably necessary.
Holly had by now spotted Kui, pinned harmlessly between the ground
and the landing pegs, a metallic fruit in the worst gelatin dessert
ever imagined. The large flux had obviously caused a system crash,
and he was frozen perfectly still like a mosquito in amber. Holly
felt almost as if she was viewing him in a museum, and couldn’t
help forgetting the recent events in favor of their years working
“We have to get him out of there!” She begged, almost
losing her precarious footing.
“No, leave him for now; he’ll be fine after a reboot,”
said Leela, picking up a much calmer Nibbler. “Happens to
Bender all the time.” She added, motioning to the carnage
beside her. “See?”
Charlie slammed Benders head back onto his body, ripped open his
torso, and grabbed both the Lawbreaker and the Desiderator.
“Now apologize.” He commanded, looming over him like
an eclipse that stared portentously back.
Bender briefly thought about trying to surprise Charlie with the
gun that he had yet to grab, but through dulled artificial senses
decided that for once the olive branch could be used for something
other than martini night. Everyone was looking now, making it even
more embarrassing. Bender sighed.
“Alright, I know when I’ve been beaten... and just now
you really kicked my ass... so... I’m sorry.”
“Good then.” Charlie’s demeanor warped
unsettlingly yet again as he smiled. “We’re all square.
I’ll even let your favorite Martian go.”
“All... square?” Leela repeated, tentatively.
“I just want this all behind me now... let me get on with my
delivery, and you can get on with yours.”
“Heh, fat chance... we’re going home.” Leela
scoffed, apathy taking hold of her tired bones. “But thank
“Hey... uh... we don’t have a ship...” Holly
spoke timidly, and then lowered her voice further, “and I don’t
have a ‘we.’ Could the fritzo and I maybe get a ride with
“Sure!” Fry responded. “Let’s just untrap
the menacing beast of doom that tried to kill us and carry him down
this perilously steep incline to-”
“Actually... it’d be best if we left your
friend there tangled in the landing gear” Charlie interrupted.
“He’ll be fine ‘til I get him wherever you’re
“Nowhere to go now anyway...” Holly mused, “Out
of a job.”
“Well, I’ll get you to a repair shop at least, doll.”
Some mindless expository bantering later, everything and everyone
was safely put in its proper place. The PE crew boarded their
disfigured ship, engines still running, and set a course for Earth.
Charlie watched their sputtering take off, a mix of unaccountable
feelings stirring gratingly. He felt like he had gone too soft by
letting them off, but, unfortunately, after making the decision to
save them from the killbot, he had realized, there was no sensible
reason to kill them himself. If anything, he thought, it had lead to
another interesting alien woman being aboard his craft; something he
has almost getting used to... something he was perhaps even starting
The theory of quantum entanglement states that two particles, once
they interact, are forever bound to one another, affecting each other
across limitless space at seemingly instantaneous speeds, forever.
The implications of this are nothing short of massive, sprawling
networks of matter, delicately connected to each other via enigmatic
forces across the cosmos. If the equations are to be believed,
perhaps everything is connected to everything else in some
way; actions never truly isolated, coincidences never truly
coincidences. Layers beyond what anyone can perceive are buried
beneath reality, and science is simply unable to take advantage of
them. It is impossible, and scientists can only watch and wonder why.
After touchdown, Fry emerged from the PE ship dragging a still
anesthetized Zoidberg. To the best of the crew’s knowledge, he
was still alive, but vitals are hard to check if your subject is cold
blooded, has an exoskeleton, and you don’t really care.
Bender followed, dragging Amy, still bound to her chair. Charlie
saw it best to leave her that way after she didn’t appear to
show the same forgiveness as the others. She had stayed in that
position after she failed to show forgiveness towards her crew for
forgiving Charlie so easily.
Leela exited last, dragging only herself, yet looking the worst
for wear from it. It could never have felt better to arrive back at
her place of work; this misadventure had been particularly draining,
and the flight home had taken twice as long as it should have because
she had not wanted to push the engines.
Entering the conference room after ditching their incapacitated
and metallic friends, Fry and Leela came across Professor Farnsworth,
looking as calm as ever, neither curious of their delay nor thankful
for their survival. Seated across from him was a younger old man,
sipping some coffee, a notepad in front of him.
The silence unbroken, Leela coughed abruptly and aggressively.
“Oh, uh, wha? Oh yes! Welcome back! I trust everything went
“Yes, sir.” Leela replied.
“You have the invoice?”
“Yup!” Fry chirped, handing a crumpled sheet of paper
to Hubert, which he unraveled and read to the best of his ability.
“We got whatever we were delivering -Love, Not Fry.
Very good! That sounds like a suitable reply for a task I can’t
Leela couldn’t decide whether she was more exasperated by
Fry’s half assed attempt at trickery or at the ease with which
it succeeded. Why did she even bother? ...Oh right, she didn’t...
Farnsworth motioned to his companion just as the doorbell rang.
Leela went to answer the door as the Professor continued undaunted.
“This is my long time friend and colleague, Nuzi Spoziano.”
“Nuzi?” Fry repeated, “That sounds familiar...”
“Delivery for a Hubert James Farnsworth!” came a low
voice from behind the door that Leela was about to open.
Nuzi snorted. “Hubert! I still can’t believe
you go by that now. Back when we met, you said-” The door
“Fry, we are NOT saying random names, we are all
Charlie Foster burst into the room, confused and mildly
“Nuzi, what the hell are you doing here?!”
“Well, I got nervous when my inventions didn’t arrive
and I couldn’t reach you, so I took a space-cab to James’s
to discuss what to do. You do have them, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I still got ‘em. ...and Leela,” Charlie
turned, “You work for James, the guy I’ve been delivering
these devices to the whole time?”
“I... I guess so,” Leela stammered, “But we’ve
never called him James, so we couldn’t have pieced it together
“He went by his middle name when he was younger,” Nuzi
added, “Now... how do you know my Charlie?”
“We’re... kind of the reason the package got delayed,”
She admitted, “It’s a long story with crashes and deceit
and misunderstandings and-”
“Us!” Two more figures appeared from outside, having
heard the commotion.
“Holly, Kui?!” Leela took a shocked step back, then
gathered herself in time to stare Fry down before he could say
‘Gordon?!’ “Now what are you doing here?!”
“While I was delayed these two helped me out Nuzi,”
Charlie started, “Anyway, I was thinking it was about time you
let me have a crew to assist with deliveries.”
“Well, Lord knows you could use the social skills,”
Nuzi replied, “I’m sure we can work something out.”
“Great!” Holly shouted, high-fiving her robotic
“Hey, first of all, I want to apologize for what happened
out there,” said Kui, “I still don’t know what
happened, but now that everything’s sorted out I would have
felt really bad if I managed to kill you guys.”
“We’re used to friends randomly going on homicidal
rampages, don’t worry about it,” Leela assured, then
turned to Holly, “How are you going to hold up working with
“It’s funny,” said Holly, “It all kind of
balances out. Kui defends me when Charlie insults my aptitude, and
Charlie defends me when Kui insults my appearance.”
“Sounds... wonderful,” Leela dryly responded.
“We get our share from her too, so don’t buy any of
that damsel bit she’s giving,” added Kui.
Even more than before, Leela saw a bit of herself in the look
Holly shot back. She assumed, perhaps a bit arrogantly, that Charlie
saw the same thing.
“Now then,” Nuzi took a big breath, “what the
bloody hell is going on here? Could you fill an old man in?”
The man he was referring to must have been himself, since Farnsworth
was by now fast asleep.
“There’ll be plenty of time to explain while we fly
you home Newz,” Charlie ensured, “As much as I love the
oddness of this situation I need to get going. ‘Nother business
proposition waiting if you know what I mean.”
“Fine,” Nuzi agreed, having looked over his quiescent
associate. “I may have outstayed my welcome. Well, it was nice
meeting you two-”
“Wait!” Leela couldn’t let this chance get away.
“You have to explain these devices to me. We saw what the
Lawbreaker does, but how… and why?”
“You used it?”
“Well, yeah...” Leela was looking at her shoes, and
hated it. “Twice, and each time it got us out of a jam, but we
never really figured out how it worked.”
“Ah, curiosity gets the best of us all sometimes, eh?”
Spoziano remarked, the initial vagueness of mood emerging as a
definite curiosity over irritation. “Random field testing isn’t
the worst thing in the universe I suppose; let’s have a look at
what happened. Charlie?”
Charlie handed him the Lawbreaker, and Nuzi promptly attached a
device of his own to it.
“This thing runs diagnostics on all my inventions, just
makes things easier...” Some lights blinked and he read over a
fine printed display, “The Lawbreaker was designed to break
laws, scientific and otherwise, on the user’s whim, but at the
moment it always picks something random. I can’t make heads or
arses of it, honestly, but that’s why the buttons aren’t
labeled... they were supposed to do different things, but don’t
yet,” He paused to read more thoroughly, “Seems to me
that this actually was used three times, not two.”
“Really?” Leela reacted in the way she one day hoped
to be able to lie.
“Yes... now let’s see.” Nuzi hit some buttons
and checked the readout again. “The last time this device was
used the 2nd law of thermodynamics was broken.”
“Makes sense,” said Leela. “Our engines were
ruined and they partially reassembled to the way they were.”
“Good, that’s a success,” Nuzi replied
approvingly, then went back to reading. “The time before
that... hmm... that’s a new one.”
“What law did we break?”
“Kui, that’s it!” Leela shouted. “I hit
that button an extra time before the engines were fixed and we
all thought nothing happened...”
“But it was making your programming homicidal the whole
time!” Holly completed the sentence. “This makes
everything OK! It’s not going to happen again!” She
hugged him for the first time in a while, causing him obvious
While they joked, comforted, a bit more, Leela and Fry turned back
“The time before that, we traveled through space faster than
light to get back to our ship,” Leela recounted as Nuzi read,
“What law was that? Einstein’s? Newton’s?”
“Hardly,” chuckled Nuzi. “The only reason you
ended up by your ship was because you would have been by it had
things not gone horribly wrong, am I correct?”
“Yeah,” said Fry, “How did you know?”
“Murphy’s.” said Nuzi, plainly. “You got
back to where you should have been by effectively breaking Murphy’s
Law! Oh... how I wish this device worked predictably! I’d make
“Yeah...” said Leela, trancelike due to the
ludicrousness of recent revelations. “Well... thanks for your
“We’ll see each other again sometime soon, I’m
sure,” promised Charlie, “Maybe we’ll meet for
sandwiches again or something.”
“Definitely,” said Fry, shaking the reptilian’s
“And tell your friend Amy I said hi, OK?”
“I think I’ll pass,” said Leela. “Bye, you
three, don’t get into too much legal trouble, alright?”
“Same for you and that Bender guy,” said Kui. “See
“Bye!” said Holly, grabbing Fry and Leela into a
quick, clumsy, group hug which said ‘I barely know you still
but we almost died next to each other so that’s gotta mean
something.’ The three turned, and exited, Nuzi close behind.
Fry waved, but Leela jumped outside before the door shut and spun
“One more question, if you don’t mind.”
“No problem, dear. What is it?”
“The camera... the camera you made can spark some powerful
emotions. Be careful with it, OK?”
“I don’t plan on selling it if that’s what you
mean, it can tempt and twist the heart in any which way it pleases,
and you are powerless against your own consciousness. I know that far
too well now... and I’m sorry if you had to experience anything
like I did too. It is... the price we pay for curiosity.”
“I think I’m better for it,” Leela averred,
“But... is there any reason the camera would give a cryptic
message? One that wasn’t straight forward like the rest?”
“Well, I’ve never seen it do that before... it’s
been flawless as of late.” He thought for a moment. “Maybe...
well, maybe, a subconscious is sometimes smart enough to keep things
it knows you’re not ready for obscured, like a message in a
prophetic dream. That’s the best I’ve got, dear, and I’m
a bloody scientist! Sorry if it’s not what you needed to hear.”
“No, no, that will do.” Leela said, holding back a
tear whose cause she couldn’t trace to a reason. “Thanks
for everything, Nuzi.”
“No trouble at all. But it’s about time I left you to
your own devices... heh. Keep safe now!” He turned and left,
hustling slightly as to not keep Charlie and the others waiting for
long. Leela slowly wandered back inside.
“What was that about?” Fry asked, waiting for her at
“Nothing... nothing...” Leela mumbled, and let a meek
smile evolve on her face. “TV?”
“Thought you’d never ask.”
And, life returned to normal, which, thankfully or unthankfully,
was as about abnormal as it could be. The future, both as a society
and as a personal outlook, may not have looked the brightest for
everyone, but it was far from dark; and as long as you’re
trying to save yourself when faced with death from space crashes and
homicidal robots, you know you have enough to live for. Inside the PE
building, Zoidberg and the Professor slumbered further, Hermes
obliviously filed forms, and Nibbler secretly untied Amy as she too
napped as best she could. Bender filched the contents of the
Martian's locker while he had the chance, and the two remaining
unaccounted passed out next to each other to the buzzing drone of a
Aboard Charlie’s ship, three new friends bickered noisily
about the proper way to cook a buggalo steak, and, resting in a bunk,
a thought struck Nuzi Spoziano. “Well, the subject could
have been missing a brainwave or two... but... nah... that’s