Blame It On The Brain, part 2
Chapter 4: Terror Incognita
Bender and Zoidberg arrived at the foot of Momcorp headquarters as
the sun began to set over New New York. The colossal structure loomed
up above them, blotting out the darkening sky.
you ought to know this building pretty well,” Fry said,
glancing at Bender.
really,” the bending robot replied. “I was assembled at
the Momcorp plant in Mexico – I’ve only ever really seen
the foyer of this place.”
raised a claw. “I have heard about this building, I have,”
he said. “Every floor above the 80th is special,
they say. Not easy to get to, even for regular employees.”
be where they took Nibbler,” Fry muttered, pulling his borrowed
cap down lower on his head. The three of them were dressed in the
dull uniforms of chicken soup dispenser repairmen, complete with hats
and tool belts.
we gonna do this thing, or just stand out here all night and rust?”
okay – but let’s sneak in quietly. We don’t wanna
cause a commotion.” Fry walked toward the entrance uncertainly
with the other two in tow. When the doors rolled open automatically
at his approach, he jumped back in fright.
for crap’s sake,” Bender snapped, shouldering past Fry.
“The secret to looking like you belong somewhere you don’t
is ya gotta act as if you’re in a hurry to get some place
important and everyone is just in your way.” He strode into the
entrance foyer and casually elbowed a secretary aside, causing her to
spill her papers.
Fry said to the woman quickly as he hurried after Bender.
stooped to pick up some of the woman’s papers, and promptly ate
them. “Oooh, premium print quality!” he mumbled
front desk, a pair of security guards was stationed, running identity
scans of each person entering the bank of elevators behind them.
Seeing these, Bender veered off toward a corridor at one side.
on, chumps!” he said loudly so the guards would hear. “That
soup dispenser isn’t going to fix itself! Wink, wink!”
you said ‘wink, wink’ out loud!” Fry hissed in
you’re a jerk – you hear me complaining?” They
passed a large room that contained a public exhibit of 20th
and 21st Century artefacts from Mom’s private
collection, and Fry noticed with interest the presence of an
immaculate, fully-restored blue 1968 Ford Mustang coupe. He salivated
slightly, but forced his attention to the task at hand.
Bender pushed open a dusty, disused door that opened into a dank
stairwell, and the three of them stepped inside, gazing up at the
looming flights of concrete stairs that disappeared high above.
going to take these stairs… all the way up?”
Zoidberg said mournfully.
we’ve gotta get to Nibbler to save him somehow,” Fry
about out of the way,” Bender muttered, gazing at the stairs
don’t have time to argue with you guys,” Fry grumbled.
okay. Don’t go off alone.”
of them set off up the stairs, ascending floor after floor. The
stairs clearly hadn’t seen use in a long time – a thick
layer of dust coated every surface, and odd piles of old broken
office equipment had been dumped on many of the landings. On and on
they went, circling endlessly around the central shaft, puffing and
panting as they went.
know… why the hell… we gotta climb,” Bender
gasped, sucking down a bottle of Olde Fortran to refuel his labouring
we don’t… wanna start a commotion until… after
we’ve saved Nibbler,” Fry panted.
began a low, almost manic chuckle that echoed around the stairwell.
that out, you’re giving me the creeps.”
just can’t believe we’re risking our necks for a stupid
ball of fur – it’s hilarious.”
let out a low groan. “How much further do these stairs go on?”
he lamented miserably, hauling himself up one agonizing step at a
don’t you ask them?” Bender snapped. “Nobody forced
you to come.”
it’s one of those endless stairways,” Fry puffed.
climbed on for an indeterminate amount of time in surly silence
broken only by the exhausted panting and the clicking of Bender’s
metal feet on the concrete.
what floor is this?” Bender asked at length.
gave up counting,” Zoidberg replied woozily.
dammit, I’m boned!” Bender stopped abruptly and collapsed
in a heap.
on… Bender,” Fry said, stopping to crouch by the fallen
robot. “Pull it together.”
Bender grunted sulkily. “I’m only flesh and blood, after
them, Fry and Zoidberg hauled Bender to his feet, and they continued
bender droned. “Why do they have to make these buildings so
finally reached the top of the stairwell, the three of them slumped
down in an exhausted pile on the floor.
wanna see another step… in my life,” Bender wheezed.
shell… is chafing me,” Zoidberg complained, using one of
his mouth tendrils to wipe sweat from his brow.
on,” Fry said, pushing himself to his feet using the wall to
lean against. “Let’s get ready.”
security monitor displayed surveillance camera feed of the three
unauthorized personnel leaving the stairwell and sneaking comically
down a hallway on the 80th floor. Mom watched them with
we… apprehend them?” Larry asked.
yet,” Mom replied. “Fry’s coming right to me, which
is what I want. Let’s see how far he and his moron friends can
the first guard shouted as Fry, Bender and Zoidberg rounded a corner.
He and his companion brought their lightsabre batons to bear.
no, no… we’re chicken soup dispenser repairmen,”
Fry said hurriedly.
your clearance?” the second guard demanded.
right here,” Fry said, fumbling around under his shirt. He
swiftly brought out the Professor’s sonic pulse pistol and shot
the first guard in the face. As the man went sprawling unconscious,
the second guard swung his lightsabre in a wide arc.
quickly removed his own head and threw it as hard as he could. It
struck the guard in the side of the skull with a loud clang.
Bender’s head said angrily as it and the guard fell to the
throw,” Fry remarked, retrieving Bender’s head for him.
dragged the unconscious bodies toward a janitorbot’s closet,
Zoidberg plucked a badge off one of the men’s chests.
maybe will help get free snacks at the vending machine?” he
you idiot!” Bender snatched the card out of Zoidberg’s
claws and examined it. “This is an ident badge that’ll
give us access to the upper levels. C’mon, jerkwads!”
found their way into an elevator, where Bender discovered that
swiping the guard’s ident badge only gave them access up to
level 85. When they exited on that floor they found themselves in
some kind of executive mezzanine level with cafes and gyms spread out
before them in a luxurious split-level design.
doesn’t look like the right place,” Fry said. “Let’s
see if we can find out anything.”
out, and trying to look like they belonged, the trio made their way
into the area, moving nervously among Momcorp executives. Fry broke
away from the others to take a look at a wall-mounted diagram of the
don’t remember seeing you here before,” a voice said off
to one side, and Fry glanced guiltily at a businesswoman in her late
forties who was eyeing him.
you’re cute,” she said. “In an ugly sort of way…
If you’re with the repair squad, you’re needed two floors
up – the vending machines all attained self-awareness again and
began demanding medical benefits and their own union. They all need
to have their sentience erased or we’ll have an industrial
uh… lost my clearance card,” Fry said, spreading his
for God’s sake…” the woman muttered, reaching into
her suit pocket. “How you blue-collar types figured a way down
from the trees is beyond me.” She handed Fry a card. “Use
that – and don’t get saliva on it.”
there’s a lotta suits,” Bender said, as Fry rejoined the
of those suits walked past where the three of them stood, and
portions of conversation wafted past.
you see that creature…?”
eyes – and those teeth!”
knowledge on how to build a doomsday weapon…”
dating puts it at least three thousand years old…”
thinking of cloning it – producing a refined specimen that
could withstand our research for a longer time…”
Bender glanced at each other, faces fixed in purpose.
do this thing,” Bender said, rolling up the external ‘sleeve’
casing of his arms. They headed back toward the elevator with
Zoidberg scuttling along behind.
87th floor, they finally found the science division –
marked with numerous security warnings on the walls, and the biting
sterile scent of a hospital. Staying silent, the trio began to skulk
through the corridors – checking rooms as they went.
length, following the sounds of activity ahead, they found their way
to a windowed observation room that looked out over a large circular
lab. Scientists in white coats bustled around others wearing full
hazmat suits – all monitoring strange equipment that was
arrayed around a central object. A glass cylindrical enclosure that
Fry gasped. The little alien creature appeared to be asleep or
drugged – the occasional miniscule twitch of his breathing the
only sign of life.
are they doing to him?” Zoidberg warbled, mouth tendrils
they’re doing,” Bender muttered, “we can’t
just burst in while all those nerds are there.”
looked down at an illuminated hologram panel set into the console
before him. A 3D flying toaster holoscreensaver was displaying, so he
touched a control to make it vanish, and it reverted to a video loop
taken from inside some small chamber. Fry swallowed hard when he saw
what was shown, appearing through some kind of energy curtain,
floating briefly, and then being hit with electrical pulses and
falling. “Brainspawn…” he said quietly. “…How
do I know that?” He watched the video play over again, trying
to understand why his stomach knotted and his chest tightened. Some
memory lurked just out of reach, as if it had been excised from the
rest of his mind.
he said again. “So… they’ve brought one back…”
He clutched his head suddenly and backed away. “Why can’t
I remember?” “Friend Fry, what is wrong?”
Zoidberg asked. “Is it your egg sack? It’s the egg sack,
isn’t it? You can tell me, I’m a doctor apparently.”
you see it?” Fry asked shakily. “Do you know what it is?”
Bender looked at the hologram of the floating brain. “What
the…? Is that what a brain looks like? Man, you organisms are
disgusting – give me cool clean silicon any day! …So…
where’s that thing’s body?” “There…
there is no body,” Fry answered, gesturing at the Brainspawn.
“…That’s what it is.”
You’re starting to weird me out, Fry. This whole thing’s
stupid – let’s just find a way to get the furball and get
Fry took one last look at the Brainspawn before shutting off the
hologram. The eerie sense of déjà vu remained.
out in the lab, Nibbler’s enclosure was elevated on hydraulics,
lifting up through a hole set in the ceiling.
on, we have to follow him!” Fry said, leading the way back
toward the elevators. As they piled back into one and hammered the up
button, two men stepped from shadows and quickly followed them
Ignar held laser pistols trained on Fry, Bender and Zoidberg, who,
realizing the trap, moved to the back of the elevator with their
hands up. “Push the ‘up’ button, would you?”
Larry said menacingly.
where we were going anyway, jerkwad,” Bender replied. With a
brief flash of green light and a metallic smell, Larry shot a hole
through Bender’s forehead, causing the robot to bellow in
elevator doors closed, Ignar relieved Fry of his sonic pulse gun.
just lucky Mom wants you alive,” Larry sneered at Fry.
“Otherwise you… well, you wouldn’t be alive.”
Bender chimed in. Larry shot him in the chest.
we’re boned!” Bender lamented, gingerly rubbing his laser
holes. “‘Oh no, Bender – I don’t wanna take
any big guns – we wouldn’t wanna hurt anyone…’
You stupid skintube, Fry – I hold you in the lowest regard
up, Bender,” Fry said.
I will be loyal to the end,” Zoidberg said. “No matter
what they do to me – I won’t sell out my comrades.”
elevator binged, and Ignar said: “This is where we get out.”
Zoidberg squealed in desperation. “IT WAS ALL THEIR IDEA! THEY
FORCED ME TO COME ALONG! THREATENED TO BROIL ME, THEY DID! OH, HAVE
MERCY ON A SIMPLE LOBSTER!!”
led out at gunpoint into the wide, ornately furnished office of Mom.
The matriarch herself turned in her high-backed chair to watch Fry
and his companions enter.
now, the Mighty One himself,” she said. “You certainly
took your damn time getting here, you disgusting little weed.”
5: Future Gear Solid
green ellipsoid fell, belly-first, through the upper-reaches of
Earth’s troposphere, scoring an incandescent line across the
evening sky that was visible for hundreds of miles in all directions.
After a bare minimum of aerobraking, the spacecraft’s pilot
realigned its attitude with a deft flick of control surfaces on the
tail fins. The Planet Express ship’s nose angled down toward
the shimmering lights of New New York on the curved horizon as
Atlantic fishermen were buffeted by multiple sonic booms far below.
calmness that belied her inner anxiety, Leela made minute adjustments
to the ship’s trajectory, checking the airspeed monitor,
fuselage temperature, and made sure the rear-view mirrors were still
angled correctly. All tasks that could easily be delegated to the
ship’s computer – but she needed to stay busy, lest the
more pointed of her morbid imaginings impinge on her sanity.
contacted Planet Express a dozen times during the flight, and each
time an increasingly irritated Hermes Conrad had informed her that
after appearing briefly to borrow a weapon, Fry had disappeared along
with Bender and Doctor Zoidberg. The three hadn’t been seen
since. After the attack on her, Leela felt the weight of dread
pulling her down. What has Fry done? she wondered. But
more importantly – where was he?
an intermittent thermal reading from behind the ship, Leela initiated
a radar scan and found nothing. The thermal return had appeared a few
times during the trip, but it was too small to be a ship so she
chalked it up as sensor degradation or a fluctuation in one of the
main drive lenses producing a plasma pocket.
dropped the ship through cloudbanks at a speed faster than safe and
less than legal, the comm. link beeped with the PE logo flashing.
Hermes’ face resolved on the screen, wearing a slightly stunned
the Jamaican bureaucrat said hesitantly, and Leela instantly found
her heart hammering in her chest – Hermes was never hesitant.
What is it? Is Fry okay? What’s going on?”
Fry is dead, mon…” Hermes said without preamble, but not
Leela shook her head, squeezing her eye shut to stem the sudden
explosion of tears. “That’s impossible,” she said,
letting the ship drop a thousand feet. “I don’t believe
sorry,” Hermes said. “I received confirmation just now –
he fell to his death from his apartment window; it may be that he
opened her eye and absently pulled the ship away from its impending
spiritual union with the ocean. “That’s not right,”
she murmured, frowning. “The police told me… the man who
fell… he had dark hair.”
make mistakes Leela,” Hermes said. “Listen, mon…
you can take all the time you need…”
identified him?!” Leela snapped.
blinked on the video link. “I don’t know,” he
admitted. “DNA I imagine – that doesn’t matter
right now, you need to…”
Leela snapped, pulling into a wide banking turn above the city’s
spires. “Where’s his body?”
you don’t need to see…”
she all-but screamed, and Hermes told her.
smaller re-entry contrail burnt across the night sky along the same
trajectory the PE ship had just flown. The object, lacking in
aerodynamic form, had folded and retracted external components to
form a graceless tumbling ball of reinforced steel that glowed amber
as atmospheric friction ablated superheated plasma from its surfaces.
to an altitude of fifty-thousand feet, Robot 1-X Ultima ignited its
fusion drive to decelerate at nearly twenty Gs, its incandescent
plume stabbing down to a mile below and tearing apart cloud
formations before it.
its sensor suite, Ultima detected the distinct ionic backwash from a
refined dark matter reactor. The battered war drone would have
grinned wolfishly if it possessed a mouth – instead it clicked
pincer claws together and shot off in the direction its target had
fractured CPU continued to experience error after debilitating error
as isotopic particles degraded it gradually, like the infinitesimal
seeping of a malignant cancer. Sense of self, master, and overall
purpose were corrupted. Only the target remained.
recognition grid – single large eye, centrally positioned above
larger-than-average nose and full lips. Purple hair. Athletic build.
Distinguishing scar beneath breasts from space bee sting. Combat
capable. Intelligent, resourceful. Female pheromonal trace pattern,
could no longer recover data on the full mission requirements. Could
no longer recall if the target was to be taken alive… or
then engines had even fully spooled down, Leela was out the access
stair and racing up the steps of the city morgue, still open despite
the late hour. Her heavy breathing and pounding heard had nothing to
do with any physical exertion – she thought she’d lost
Fry once before, in the depths of comatose nightmares, and the sting
of that loss had almost killed her.
I help y…”
Fry!” Leela said to the desk clerk, slamming her hands down on
the reception desk and leaning close so the small weedy man flinched
back fearfully. “I need to see the body of Philip Fry!”
y…you can’t just.”
swallowed and tapped on his computer console to bring up relevant
he grunted uneasily. “Access to those particular remains has
been restricted under section 74.6 of the corporate secrets act of
2895. Nobody is allowed to see him…”
secrets’?” Leela repeated incredulously, banging a fist
down on the desk so the little man emitted a small yelp. “What
kind of corporate secret could be contained in a dead body?! Which
I’m not a liberty to divulge…”
snatched the computer screen away from the desk and read it quickly.
she said. “So…” Scrolling down, she noted the draw
number listed and turned away to push through the adjoining door.
– you can’t just burst in!” the clerk exclaimed
frantically, following after her. Leela ignored him, making her way
through the corridors to the cold storage room where row upon row of
numbered steel draws were set into the wall. She walked along until
she reached the number she was looking for, and then hesitated as a
tremor of fear passed through her.
if you want to submit an application to…”
up,” Leela told the clerk. Steeling herself, she reached out
and levered open the draw’s handle. The long tray began to
slide out on servos, and Leela stepped back, her hands feeling sweaty
despite the frigid air in the room.
emerged feet-first, naked and battered, still with flecks of blood
marring the skin. The toe-tag read ‘Philip Fry’, and
Leela chewed her lip. When the face was finally revealed she almost
not him,” she whispered.
the clerk frowned at her, and she shakily took out her wallet,
removing a dog-eared photograph.
is Philip Fry,” she said, showing the clerk the photo; it
showed herself standing patiently beside an orange-haired man as he
attempted to balance a bowling ball on his head while eating an ice
looked mystified. “Then… who is this?” he said,
gesturing at the body.
refocussed her attention to the corpse, carefully putting the photo
away. The dead man’s face was severely damaged, but the devious
eyes and prominent widow’s peak were still familiar.
she said quietly, and then looked hard at the clerk. “This was
no accident,” she said. “It’s obvious no autopsy
has been performed here, and a simple DNA test would have shown this
man is not Philip Fry. Someone has gone to great lengths to fake
Fry’s death, and I’m going to find out why.”
had nothing to say to that. He remained standing with a troubled
expression as the tyrian-haired cyclops turned on her heel and
marched purposefully away.
long as he could remember, Fry’s life had been anchored on
awakenings of one sort or another. Although some had only been
impolite (a precious few were pleasant), the vast majority were rude.
however, was downright insolent. It was the kind of awakening
that marched into the foyer of consciousness, insulted someone’s
mother, and then proceeded to urinate on the nearest pot-plant.
laid out on some kind of cold metal slab, arms held out at right
angles from his body and clamped at the wrists. He was wearing only
his underpants, and could feel the slight tugging of various tubes
attached to his flesh at odd places. He kept his eyes shut, hoping
not to hear the creak of leather, the crack of a whip, or a haughty
voice proclaiming him to be a disgusting worm (that had also
been a rather rude awakening he’d prefer not to repeat). But
instead he heard the steady hum of electronics and soft murmurs
smelt like a hospital.
then that recollection made a belated entrance, having been caught in
neural traffic on the way to the function. He remembered Mom asking
him a series of bewildering questions about ‘Nibblonians’
and ‘Mighty Ones’, and growing increasingly agitated when
he was unable to answer them. She’d slapped him, and her sons
had hit him with some kind of tranquilizer weapon. And that was all,
until the awakening.
fascinating specimen,” someone said close by, and Fry listened
closely, still feigning unconsciousness. “The brain’s
functioning without the Delta wave, and yet he’s still
sentient, if not slightly intelligent.”
even humans from his native historical period had the Delta wave,
without it they could never have invented the shoe-horn.”
seeing evidence of numerous massive physical traumas in the past,”
a mechanical voice stated. “His right arm has been severed and
unprofessionally reattached; he seems to have been decapitated for a
time; his pelvis was crushed at one time; he’s been impaled by
blunt force trauma through the torso on at least two occasions; has
had his hands amputated twice, as well as his nose…”
silence for a moment.
H. Christ,” someone muttered. “How is this guy even
another person said. “Let’s concentrate on the matter at
seems to have assembled a complex structure of alternate waveforms to
replace the Delta wave,” a woman murmured. “But that’s
not all – his entire molecular structure appears to be in a
state of constant fourth-dimensional flux, as if his entire being is
somehow out of phase with conventional spacetime…”
could have caused that?”
paradox, perhaps… quite impossible to say at this point.”
finally opened his eyes… and immediately wished he hadn’t.
He found himself surrounded by scientist types in lab coats, all
studying esoteric equipment that seemed, disconcertingly, attached to
him. A robotic autodoc was poised nearby on insectile legs, its array
of syringes, scalpels, and bone-saws held at the ready on spindly
“Ah, you’re awake,” an Amphibiosian scientist said,
looking down at Fry with large almond eyes. “I don’t
suppose you’d like to explain to us the nature and origin of
your unique physical properties?”
don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said,
staring down at the autodoc as the machine moved its scalpels in an
no matter,” the alien went on. “We have alternate methods
of unravelling such conundrums.” Fry felt a needle slide into
the side of his neck, and blackness returned.
Zoidberg sat across from each other in a small windowless cell.
Silence echoed between the composite walls.
it, crayfish – I’m trying to think of a way to get me
outta here,” Bender snapped.
can get out?” Zoidberg asked hopefully.
didn’t say ‘we’.”
silence resumed its regular programming until, some minutes later,
Zoidberg piped up again.
want friend Fry for what, you think?” he asked.
find out where stupid comes from,” Bender muttered. “How
the hell should I know?!” The robot got up and tried to prise
open the unbendable door to no avail. He sat back down in
silence returned in force.
did we come here again?” Zoidberg asked at length.
don’t even remember,” Bender muttered sulkily.
Wernstrom felt a detached sense of baffled disbelief as he watched
the crew attempt to cut through a sealed bulkhead door with an arc
welder. They were trying to make their way down through the decks to
where the Brainspawn creature was contained in an attempt to kill it,
though the going had been hard for a team more at home behind a bank
of computers than a welding mask. Every hatch was sealed, and some
entire decks had been opened to vacuum, making it necessary for the
crew to don spacesuits. Other members of the crew and science staff
had gathered in disparate parts of the Brezhnev, isolated from
one another by up to a kilometre of empty lifeless ship, with their
communication links rapidly degrading.
gained control of more systems, the Brainspawn was using the ship to
endeavour could go so horribly awry in such a short space of time
seemed to Wernstrom to be somehow wrong. It was against the
rules – surely an administrative bungle on the part of Fate,
whose cataclysmic frown should normally fall on fools like Hubert
Farnsworth and his kind.
vague notion of disrupting the ship’s systems, Wernstrom moved
over to a circuit panel in the wall and levered it open with
ice-crusted gloves. As it swung out, he took a reflexive step back
and grunted to himself in surprise. Inside, coiling around and
through the ship’s normal cables and routers, was a network of
thick grey vine-like growths that branched and twisted in a
distinctly organic manner.
manner of…?” He reached out and touched a finger pad to
the strange mass, and noted a grey residue clung to the spacesuit
fabric. Curiously he took out his handheld Tricorder and held the
residue beneath it until a readout appeared on the little unit’s
treacherous blob of neural tissue,” he said after glancing at
the display. “It’s using our own nanites!”
others looked at him wearily.
“Professor?” one young man asked with a distinct lack of
respect or patience.
nanomachines we used to infiltrate its thought routines – it’s
somehow reconfigured them to serve its own machinations. I should
have thought of this before…”
you should have,” one of the team muttered angrily over the
twitched in Wernstrom’s cheek. They blamed him. Heaped
responsibility for this cataclysm at his feet. They couldn’t
understand the noble sacrifices he’d been willing to make for
science, or the pressures of a world yearning for progress. Or the
lure of money…
his head. It all seemed so foolish now – with a monster from
the pit stalking them relentlessly, tightening its web… light
years from any help.
to him, on the finger pad of his glove carbon nanotube filaments the
width of a single molecule began burrowing through the suit material,
seeking out skin. In their reprogrammed molecular memory the
nanomachines contained a base blueprint that they rapidly set about
sudden lurch, the gravplates in the floor went offline, and the crew
began floating haphazardly. Then, as one, they all slammed into the
bulkhead as a deep thrumming reverberated throughout the massive
engines,” the navigator said. “That means the brain thing
has control of the tokamaks – and it’s moving us.”
think I broke my knee,” someone moaned – they were all
still pressed against the wall by the constant acceleration.
shipwide communication system cut in at that moment with a cacophony
God!” a voice came through the racket. “The fusion
exhaust! It’s been rerouted! The entire engineering deck’s
being soaked in hard radiation! Help us! HELP US!!”
lord,” Wernstrom murmured in horror as he listened to the
terrible symphony of agony.
skin’s blistering!” the voice screamed. “Oh for the
cut off mercifully.
poor people,” one of the women whispered.
his false teeth, Wernstrom pushed against the mild G-forces and stood
up on the wall, perpendicular to the actual floor.
teasing us,” he said angrily. “It intentionally let us
hear that, to make us afraid…” He balled his bony fists.
“Come on, pick up that welder – we have work to do.”
team returned to the bulkhead door, Wernstrom absently rubbed his
hand through the suit fabric. Space suits always seemed to make him
a quick holding pattern into the PE ship’s autopilot, Leela
left the bridge as the looming edifice of Momcorp headquarters came
into view, lit up in the early morning gloom. Stopping to acquire a
laser pistol from the armoury as she went, Leela moved down through
the decks to the hold, where she punched the cargo bay door release.
With a whine of pneumatics, the entire deck descended on its
automatic guide pulleys, taking Leela down with it into the buffeting
squinted her eye against the buffeting air that tore past her, and
ignored the creak of the loading deck as it was placed under
aerodynamic strain far beyond its design parameters. As the ship
cruised into the airspace claimed by Momcorp, batteries of auto
defence lasers opened up on the PE ship. Leela ignored the flashes as
the tower’s roof swam into view below.
She curled her body over, and then gracefully backflipped off the
cargo deck into open air…
6: Snake Eye.
landed hard, rolled, and came up running. The laser and maser turrets
on either side of the tower’s roof were tracking the PE ship
through the dark sky as it cruised past on autopilot – that
gave her a window.
nearest access door was some thirty feet away, and as she ran she
fired her laser pistol at it, melting the lock mechanism to red hot
You are trespassing on…”
shot the hovering security drone out of the air and continued onward,
diving and rolling when one of the auto defence batteries raked
crimson light across her path. The sole of her right boot smoked and
bubbled where a maser beam had brushed over it. She barrelled into
the door, crashing through to a stairwell. A klaxon began to wail
mournfully somewhere but she ignored it, descending the steps three
at a time.
stage complete, she thought grimly. Now for the hard part.
she shrieked, kicking open the door on the first landing she reached…
which turned out to be slightly ajar anyway.
She found herself in a lushly carpeted hallway, covered on both sides
by security guards alerted by the alarms – one an
anthropomorphic robot and the other a human man. They reached for
shot out the robot’s knee joint first, then pirouetted and
slammed her heel into the human’s chin. He went down cold, and
she spun back to the robot guard as he tried to level his weapon from
the floor. She smashed his gun arm aside, sending the pistol bouncing
away, and planted her own gun against his cranial casing.
Fry?” she demanded in a low, steady voice.
not compute, you one-eyed harlot,” the robot said nastily.
shot out one of the robot’s eye lenses, the components melting
out of the socket like tears. “Philip Fry,” she said
firmly. “I know Mom has him somewhere.”
decent emulation of a gagging whimper escaped the guardbot’s
vocal unit. “Experimental subjects are two floors down,”
he said shakily. “That’s all I know… it’s
restricted – you won’t make it.”
stepped over the guard and made to leave, but a troop of five more
security personnel rounded a corner and headed toward her. Acting on
instinct, she fired a laser bolt up at the ceiling, triggering a
deluge of fire-retardant foam that blanketed the newcomers like a
sudden snowdrift, causing them to slip and tumble blindly.
heel, she ran the other way, trying to put distance between herself
and the angry shouting some way behind.
watched the purple-haired cyclops make her way through the hallways
and stairwells. On occasion, the young mutant woman would notice a
security camera and blast it, but most of the electronic eyes
mandrake on a pancake,” she muttered. “This girl’s
insane! How’d she escape Ultima? And what the hell does she
think she’ll accomplish by blasting her way through here?”
watched, the surveillance feed showed Leela shooting the gun out of a
security guard’s hand and throwing a water cooler at another
before ducking into an elevator. When the elevator’s security
override prevented it from moving, she shot a hole in the floor and
dropped through to clamber down the cables.
unstoppable,” Larry murmured nearby in reverent wonder as he
gazed longingly at the screen, enraptured by the breathtaking warrior
woman. Mom slapped him.
your sinkhole!” she snapped. “Can’t anything just
go right for a change? First we lose contact with the Brezhnev,
and now this lunatic freak storms in here… and where the hell
is Ultima anyway?”
waste time fighting each other,” a voice said from across the
room, and Mom cast the Nibblonian an angry glare.
not fighting anyone!” she snapped.
Ignar seconded. Larry slapped him to silence.
evil you have dredged back into existence will not be contained by
any will,” Nibbler said from within his enclosure. “It is
insatiable and relentless. It has already taken control of your
research vessel and even now accelerates toward Earth.”
well-informed,” Mom sneered, “for a rat in a glass
people are in constant contact with me,” the little alien said.
“They are observing. The return of the Brainspawn echoed across
the cosmos like the howl of a thousand Greek men having their chests
waxed. No good will come of your folly…”
from you!” Mom snapped, sending Nibbler’s case back down
on its hydraulic lift. Though she refused to acknowledge it, a small
prickling of disquiet had taken up residence in the back of her mind.
out of the elevator shaft, Leela quickly ejected the spent battery
from the handle of her laser pistol and slapped in the spare. It was
the only one she had.
catching her breath for a moment, she moved on. The whole building
seemed to be made of corridors. Corridors leading to corridors that
connected to corridors that allowed access to corridors. A detached
part of her mind applauded the career choice that had led her away
from bland office buildings – Fry had been instrumental in
as she was by that small reverie, she almost failed to notice the
squad of tactical response troops in armoured exoskeletons that
marched into view and lined her up in their railgun sights.
Hypervelocity iron slugs tore the air asunder behind her as she
ducked quickly through a doorway. She skidded to a stop, looking in
horror through a wide glass partition into what looked like a large
down to a cruciform table, shrouded by wires, and surrounded by
scientists, was Fry. Immobile, pale…
wordless cry of rage, Leela raked a blast of laser fire against the
glass. It spiderwebbed, and she leaped at it, smashing through and
landing amid the scientists in a shower of glass shards. She then
began slamming the scientists out of her path in a brutal fashion.
away from him!” she shouted, kicking one man in the stomach.
“Leave him alone!” The scientists scattered in terror,
and Leela leaned over the prostrate form. Fry’s eyelids
fluttered, but he remained still, breathing slowly.
she said anxiously, gingerly pulling electrodes and fluid drips off
his skin. “Can you hear me?”
on sunshine…” Fry mumbled in his drugged sleep.
on, we have to get out of here,” she said urgently, unlatching
the clamps that held his wrists.
Fry said groggily, opening one eye. He grinned in a dopey doped-up
fashion. “…I love you,” he mumbled.
sure, I love you too,” Leela muttered quickly, glancing around
for the reinforcements that were surely on their way.
asked me… to look after… Nibbler,” Fry muttered,
gesturing with a floppy arm. “I tried to…”
looked where he pointed, and saw Nibbler watching them from a
the hell is going on?!” she said.
question to answer, you little skank,” a harsh voice snapped
across the room, and Leela spun around to see Mom, with Larry, Ignar,
and a group of security guards in tow. Larry smiled shyly at Leela
you should ask your stupid friend there,” Mom said, “or
your little pet – they might be more willing to talk to you.”
pointed her gun at the group and positioned herself between them and
let her walk away…” Fry sung Milli Vanilli, still
under the influence of whatever drug had been used on him. “Now
it just don't feel the same…Gotta blame it on something…
Gotta blame it on something… Blame it on the brain…
Leela corrected absently.
Fry mumbled. “Brain. Brainspawn. They’ve got one…
or it’s got them, hard to say…” He slowly sat up,
and abruptly fell off the table in a heap.
are you talking about?” Leela prompted without taking her eyes
really know,” Fry said, climbing unsteadily to his feet.
“Can’t… remember exactly. You look real pretty
find some clothes and get Nibbler,” Leela said.
far do you really think you’ll get?” Mom said. “The
idiot and the Nibblonian know things; secrets I want to glean. And I
will have them, one way or the other. There’s nowhere you can
run where I won’t find you, on this world or any other, so why
don’t you just cut the crap and drop your little peashooter?”
gritted her teeth.
Express ship held station some five hundred feet from Momcorp’s
corporate headquarters, hovering on antigravs. Robot 1-X Ultima made
a few quick passes before circling more slowly, probing the battered
old cargo vessel with full active scanners.
ascertained there were no life signs aboard the ship, it turned and
blasted off toward the building, where sensors detected its
proximity. A semi-sentient security program acknowledged Ultima’s
clearance but queried the fully-online status of the robot’s
Ultima ignored the building AI’s prompts to take its weapons
offline, the coarse groping of targeting scans passed across the war
responded as basic programming dictated, by classing the whole
building as a hostile target. It launched a salvo of electronic
warfare artillery, multiple shells that detonated broad spectrum
electromagnetic pulses and unleased a torrent of Trojan worm
clusters. The devastating wave of overloads and corruptions washed
through every electronic component in half of New New York.
blocks of the city suddenly blacked out.
ahead on its ion thrusters, Ultima crashed into the now-dark building
in search of its primary target.
pulled on a shirt and tracksuit pants that were stored in an alcove
beneath the cruciform surgical table, and then finally figured out a
way to open Nibbler’s enclosure – the little alien
scampered out gratefully, running up Fry’s arm to perch on his
to me,” Mom said, stepping forward. Leela tightened her grip on
the gun… and suddenly they were all plunged into blackness.
darkness reigned and the distant crump of explosions sent small
shudders through the floor. Nibbler made a confused chirping noise.
The sounds of puzzlement and annoyance issued from Mom and her
cronies, and Leela realized the unexpected advantage that had
her eye and focusing on her hearing alone, she took two running steps
and whipped the grip of her pistol into someone’s temple, then
shot out her leg, feeling the satisfying crunch of a nose compacting
against her boot heel. Spinning about, she struck down two more
unseen figures in the dark, listening for their harsh breathing and
the monosyllabic orders and queries they grunted at each other.
not working!” One of them shouted in terror. “Some kind
of electronic warfare…” his words were cut off by
listened to the brutality in the impenetrable gloom, wondering idly
if he should help, when red lights suddenly flickered on, casting the
room in a hellish hue. The emergency system finally came online just
as Leela dropped the last guard on his head.
looked with bewilderment at her incapacitated fighting force,
including Larry and Ignar, sprawled on the floor, and then at Leela
who stood nearby with a slight sheen of perspiration on her forehead.
galloping Jesus!” she said. “Girl, you should come work
chance,” Leela grunted. “Come on, Fry – let’s
Mom reached into dangerous territory in the front of her jumpsuit and
pulled out a small primitive pistol, which she brought to bear on
Leela. Leela reacted instinctively, and fired her laser gun at the
world’s richest, most powerful industrialist. Or would
have, if it had worked. The laser was completely dead.
can be annoying bastards,” Mom remarked as Leela discarded the
now-useless weapon. “Sometimes the simple things can be far
superior – take this for example.” She waggled the little
handgun. “Walther PPK, automatic pistol. It’s remained
virtually unchanged since 1931. Spring-loaded slide mechanism –
a hammer strikes against a chemical explosive, which propels…”
Hitler killed himself with one,” Leela interrupted irritably,
and Mom frowned in consternation – she hadn’t been aware
of that, and it irked her to be shown up by the cyclops.
Larry said from the floor. “This… situation is getting
out of our control. Perhaps we should just cut our losses and…”
up!” Mom snapped, keeping her eyes on Leela. The two women
stared each other down for long moments. There was something
indefinable lurking in the younger woman’s single eye –
the kind of grim determination that could make mountains politely
step aside, and oceans part obligingly down the middle. Mom found she
had a great deal of respect for the cyclops; Leela was the kind of
person she herself had once aspired to become, before the cynical
world dragged her in a different direction altogether. If only she
had been as strong as this one…
the hesitancy in Mom’s eyes and knew she wouldn’t shoot.
She beckoned to Fry, and the orange-haired delivery boy joined her.
leaving,” Leela said quietly, as a closer explosion rocked the
have to come visit us next time!” Fry giggled cheerfully at Mom
as he and Leela moved past. “We can have tea and cake, and I’ll
strap you to an operating table and prod you for a while –
it’ll be ever so much fun!”
They left the room, and Mom looked at the gun in her hand, wondering
why she hadn’t shot the intolerable fools.
out what’s happening,” she said to Larry at last, her
voice hollow and distant. “Find out what’s attacking us.”
lights went out in the cell, Zoidberg heard Bender fall to the floor
with a noise not unlike a trashcan being toppled onto the pavement.
It was a sound that made Zoidberg hungry, though the inept doctor was
unfamiliar with Pavlovian conditioning, and he chalked it up to a
lack of essential minerals in the cockroaches he’d been
friend?” he said in the darkness.
clacked his claws nervously. “Bender, are you all right?”
forward blindly, his feet bumped into a cylinder of metal on the
floor. Bender lay prone, silent and motionless.
isn’t funny!” Zoidberg moaned, bending down to shake the
robot. “Wake up! I don’t know how to perform CPR!”
red emergency lights sputtered on, bathing the cell in a crimson glow
that made Zoidberg’s carapace almost invisible. Bender twitched
suddenly and sat bolt upright.
system was recovering from a serious error resulting from resonant EM
backwash, so he performed a scan-disc before reloading his human
mode, with language and primary tasks;
he said, finally returning to his senses. “What the hell?”
you unharmed, tin man?” Zoidberg asked. “For a moment I
thought I would have to perform an emergency ink-pouchectomy.”
was an EMP!” Bender said, pushing the lobster away. “Completely
knocked me offline. Did someone let off a nuke nearby?”
Zoidberg looked embarrassed. “I just get flatulent when I’m
looked past the crustacean at the cell door, which was slightly ajar,
its magnetic lock having malfunctioned in the EMP. Bender walked over
and pushed the door, which swung all the way open.
Zoidberg gasped. “We’re free! How did you do that?”
just magnificent,” Bender answered. “Now come on,
fishstick, let’s find Fry and get the hell out of this place.”
They cautiously slipped out of the cell and made their way down the
corridor, flinching as the building shook around them.
they came upon an area that had been completely demolished, with the
ceiling and floor blasted away to expose other levels above and
below. Flaming debris were scattered everywhere, and a number of
bloodied bodies could be seen.
like X-Mas came early this year,” Bender remarked, reaching
down to casually remove the wallet from one of the corpses.
“Definitely a robot did this – no human could have.”
running figures emerged suddenly from a side corridor, and Zoidberg
scampered whooping to hide behind Bender. They turned out to be Fry
and Leela, who skidded to a halt when they saw the two others.
guys!” Fry said in surprise. “I totally forgot about
totally…?” Bender narrowed his eyes in a furious glare.
“Why-you-little…!” He darted forward and clasped
his hands around Fry’s throat, strangling him.
Leela sighed. “When you two are done imitating a related
franchise, we need to find a way out of here.”
we should ask this robut for directions,” Zoidberg offered,
pointing to Robot 1-X Ultima as it flew into the ruined room.
“Hello!” he called, waving to the war drone.
no!” Leela gasped, catching sight of the battered killbot. “Not
it!” Bender shouted, releasing Fry’s throat.
fixed on the group of targets, and immediately noted the presence of
the primary in their midst. With a surge of relish, it targeted
Turanga Leela with a large-calibre phaser. The kill was assured –
easy. The objective would be fulfilled.
thought, Ultima hesitated.
objective was the final cognizant purpose left to Ultima. If it
succeeded in that purpose then there would be no further goal for it
to strive toward. No objective equalled no purpose, and what was
existence without purpose?
Existence was comprised of an aim. A goal. A direction. A function to
target eliminated, it would have none.
fractured facet of Ultima’s shattered mind warred brutally with
the overriding drive to complete the mission. The mission had to be
completed – completion WAS the purpose. But the mission
comprised Ultima’s being – completion meant finality, an
end. An end to the mission would mean an end to Ultima.
twitched in the air, wracked by its own internal contradictions that
played out for endless microseconds. That traitorous self-preserving
portion of its mind lifted the targeting crosshairs of the phaser
cannon an inch above the top of the primary target’s head, and
turned a line of air incandescent as oxygen molecules were
annihilated. Leela screamed involuntarily when a chunk of her hair
sizzled away in a small fireball. While a large section of the wall
behind her disappeared.
she screamed, ushering the others toward a stairwell.
tracked the running figures with glee – as long as the primary
remained alive, she could be chased, and as long as Ultima chased her
there would be purpose. It opened up a salvo of high-explosive shells
from its twin gatling guns, firing just behind the fleeing humanoids
and into the ceiling above the stairwell. As they disappeared inside,
the ceiling collapsed in a cloud of smoke and dust.
purpose. This was life. The thrill of the hunt.
side entrance, Mom stormed into the demolished area with her sons and
a full deployment of armoured shock troops.
on a taco!” she exclaimed in horror upon seeing the
destruction. She looked up at Ultima, hanging poised in the air.
“Ultima, what the frag are you doing?”
regarded her for a moment, before bringing its smoking weapon pods
Omigod!” Ignar whimpered.
troops spread out, aiming their positron rifles at the drone and
awaiting command to fire. The more experienced among them knew they
didn’t stand a chance against a full military android.
I command you to shut down immediately!” Mom barked. “You
have failed in your objective and the mission is now over.”
wobbled on its own axis as if weighing up Mom’s words, and then
casually raked the soldiers with multiple atom lasers. They burst
into flames and crumbled to the floor with very short screams.
them was Ignar.
screamed in anguish and fury as her youngest smouldered into ash. It
was the second son she had lost in twenty-four hours. Larry forcibly
dragged her back away from the danger as Ultima blasted through the
floor and descended into the hole.
Chapter 7: Burning the midnight rubber.
avalanche of dust, smoke, and crumbling masonry came crashing around
them as they stumbled down the stairs. The explosions had blocked off
the top of the stairwell, but that wouldn’t keep the enemy
robot at bay for long. They headed quickly downstairs, circling
around the central shaft as debris continued to fall from above.
thought I killed that thing,” Leela coughed, trying to blink
grit from her eye.
Fry puffed. “A friend of yours, huh?”
keyed her wrist thingy, but found it was dead – knocked offline
by the same EMP that had taken out the building’s grid and all
the unhardened weapons systems. She was unable to recall the Planet
Express ship, and supposed it was probably embedded in the pavement
somewhere. She grimaced gingerly at that notion.
was a 1-X series robot,” Bender remarked. “Even though
it’s trying to kill us, I can’t help but love it.”
because of your compatibility programming,” Leela said
absently. “In any case, love it or not, it must be part of
whatever’s going on – it’s been after me since
it thinks you’re hot,” Fry suggested, still a little
giddy from the drugs. “It has good taste.”
smiled despite herself. “This is serious Fry.”
serious than any of you know,” Nibbler added gravely in his
deep resonant voice.
nodded in agreement, and they all continued onward down the stairs
for some long silent moments. Slowly, as awareness dawned, they all
came to a stop on a dimly-lit landing. One by one, each of them
turned slowly to look at Nibbler, still perched on Fry’s
Fry looked sidelong at the little creature.
Leela said hesitantly, looking quite pale. “…Did…
did you just… s…speak… sweetie?”
regarded her levelly.
friends gasped in amazement, while Nibbler appeared to roll his three
most of all, seemed lost for words. She gaped in bewilderment at the
little alien she had thought of as nothing more than a cuddly animal.
scientist geeks must have done something to the critter,”
Bender decided, narrowing his eye shutters. “Made him smarter
was always this smart!” Nibbler said testily. “There will
be answers in due course, but time is short – for now, if you
all value your lives, you will keep moving!”
the first thing that’s made sense all day,” Fry said,
casting a final glance at the alien on his shoulder. “Come on
everyone.” He set off again down the stairs, his bare feet
padding on the concrete. The others followed at length, Leela in a
have no idea what’s happening,” she moaned, her sense of
reality finally dissipating after the horrific and exhausting day
she’d suffered through. A sentient, communicative Nibbler was
the last straw – she slumped her shoulders and settled into a
weary fugue. “Nothing makes any sense…” she
Fry said, “welcome to my world.”
seemingly endless descent, the group finally made its way down to the
ground floor, emerging in the lobby…
they came up against a phalanx of killbots arrayed before them. The
armoured robots swung around in their direction as one, targeting the
group of humanoids.
we’re boned,” Bender said, as the combat automatons
brought their razor-sharp blades and large-calibre carbines to bear
on the Planet Express crew. “They’re full military
‘droids – hardened against EMPs. Plus they’re so
big and macho…”
immediately or select preferred method of execution from interactive
menu!” the lead robot bellowed.
Nibbler?” Fry whispered cautiously to the creature on his
they’re…” “Just wait.” The little
alien glanced upward expectantly.
and blue strobe of police lights could be seen outside the plate
glass doors of the building, the gaudy illuminated cordon of civil
authority that was more than content to wait outside and let Momcorp
deal with its own problems in-house.
if we could get past them,” Zoidberg said quietly, “the
police wait outside, they do.”
in the scene, and the worm of an idea crept into his mind. He glanced
toward the corridor leading to the left. All they needed was a
he said, “when I move, you all follow me.”
following you has really worked in our favour lately?” Bender
trust me on this,” he said.
trust you,” Leela said, taking his hand. They smiled at each
other, and looked back to the killbots advancing slowly on them.
Suddenly there was a crackling sound from above as the concrete
ceiling rippled and broke, sending large chunks of masonry crashing
down around the killbots. Abruptly, an incandescent fireball exploded
downward as a section of the ceiling collapsed, and through the
smoking gap Ultima flew down, all its weapons up and ready to fire.
security killbots took a microsecond to identify the newcomer as one
of their own, and another microsecond to realize that, although they
were on the same side, the battered 1-X military prototype seemed to
be targeting them. Confusion about that gave Ultima the scant
micro-moments it needed to deliver the first blow, unleashing a swarm
of tiny high-yield magnetite missiles from stores inside its torso.
was suddenly filled with fire and light, and an unending roar. As the
killbots returned fire with purple particle blasts, Ultima descended
into their ranks, forcing them to fire through each other. The fray
turned brutal, with blades, claws, and guns flying in all directions.
Chunks of eviscerated android sailed through the air as Ultima tore
into his less-advanced ancestors.
on!” Fry yelled above the chaotic din. He ran along the side of
the room, ducking to avoid a disembodied robot head that sailed in
his direction. Angling off, he darted down the side corridor, away
from the main entrance and the deadly battle going on behind. He
skidded around a corner and ran into Mom’s exhibit of
Zoidberg cried, running in, just a little bit on fire.
the hell’d you bring us here?” Bender demanded. “You
wanna die surrounded by crummy old crap from your stupid precious
Bender a nasty look, and pointed to the Mustang that took pride of
place on a central dais. The old car sat low to the ground, looking
mean and hard even after a thousand years. Light played across its
Leela nodded in appreciation. “But will it even work?”
the best chance we’ve got,” Fry said, stepping up to the
driver’s door and pulling it open. He found the keys were they
had lain undiscovered for a millennia tucked on top of the sun visor,
and tried them in the ignition. There was no response.
probably knocked out the solenoid,” Bender said distantly,
scratching at a scuff mark on his chest.
you know how to fix it?” Fry asked hopefully.
I could probably use my magnetic personality to degauss the unit, but
not for free – I got a business to run here people.”
We’ll all be killed if we don’t get out of here soon!”
Leela said in exasperation.
alright – I’ll bill you later.” Bender stepped
around to the front of the car and Fry popped the hood, allowing
Bender to reach inside the engine well.
few resonant jolts from Bender’s fingers, he closed the hood,
wiping grime from his hands.
homes, try it now, eh gringo!” he called, having inexplicably
adopted a strong Latin-American accent and a grease rag protruding
from his chest compartment.
turned the key in the ignition, and the big 6.4 litre V-8 turned over
once, coughed, and died. He tried again, and this time, the engine
burbled for a few moments before stalling quietly.
you twentieth century folk really knew how to build,” Bender
remarked dismissively in his normal voice, turning around to leave.
glared. He pumped the throttle once, and then turned the key one more
time. The Mustang coughed, backfired, shook, and then roared as Fry
applied more throttle. Finally attaining a stable idle, it sat
rumbling, a low burble like sound of a distant avalanche growing
get in,” Fry said, adjusting the rear mirror. “Time for
some old-school escaping – Steve McQueen style!”
others climbed into the car (Bender complaining about lack of legroom
in the rear), and Nibbler took up a position near the gearshift.
Leela sat on the passenger side and cast Fry a questioning look.
you remember last time you drove a car?” she asked carefully.
not gonna run into another robot,” Fry said defensively. He put
the Mustang into drive and gunned the engine. With a squeal of tyres
the old muscle car shot off its dais and launched through the wide
display window in a shower of glass. It slammed down hard on antique
suspension and Fry cut a hard turn to angle away from the strobing
with a tremendous clang, an object struck the hood of the car, the
impact causing the old tape deck to spring into life with a classic
Jimi Hendrix track. Fry screamed and slammed on the brakes, sending
Ultima bouncing away.
hit that robot,” Leela noted.
paintwork…” Fry lamented. He planted his foot again and
shot off away down the street, and a number of police vehicles lifted
off to pursue.
sang ‘All Along the Watchtower’, Fry steered through
deserted early-morning streets with reckless abandon, fishtailing
wildly with the big-block V8’s tremendous power.
must be some kinda way outta here, said the joker to the thief…”
blue flashed in the rear view mirror, and a formation of hovering
police bikes came into view, gaining on the ancient wheeled vehicle.
got company,” Fry said grimly.
just concentrate on the road and leave the fuzz to me,” Bender
said, reaching out his own window and across Zoidberg to the other
side of the car. With a sound like spooling cable, his arms extended
out from the car on either side to a distance of nearly twelve feet,
and when the first pair of police hoverbikes draw level to flank the
car he whipped them backward, slamming both riders from their seats.
to go, Bender!” Leela said as the riderless bikes crashed and
Zoidberg warbled, staring out the rear window. “Take that, you
oppressive purveyors of justice and order! Pah!”
gritted his teeth as three more police hoverbikes descended into
position behind the car, and a booming amplified voice cut through
the air, demanding they stop. He drove past Madison Cube Garden at
high speed, mounting a gutter to cut a corner and barrel into a side
street. He was instinctively heading toward the Eastern shore of
Manhattan Island and the sanctuary of Planet Express.
we can’t,” Leela said, noting his direction. “That’s
the first place they’ll look for us.”
Fry looked suddenly lost. “Where else can we go?”
Nibbler shouted suddenly. Fry turned hard over, and the car tipped up
on two wheels as it screamed around a corner and passed beneath a low
bridge between buildings. The three patrol bikes banked to follow,
and all slammed violently into the bridge.
Bender said, pulling his arms back in.
I know where we can go,” Leela said quietly. And she told him.
minutes later, and with a scrape of the front spoiler, Fry drove the
Mustang down into a concrete drainage canal and sped along its
length. The grate of a large stormwater pipe became visible at the
end, but Fry didn’t slow.
crashed through the grate and vanished into the darkness of the
inside the SS Brezhnev, the mutating Brainspawn used its
nanites to gradually consume mass from the ship around it, constantly
increasing its size and thought power. Nanomachine-derived mechanisms
shifted entire decks aside to make room for the expanding mass of
expanded beyond the constraints of the cryogenic unit its neural
links had thawed, allowing the all-too familiar screech of sentient
minds to impinge on its newly-discovered solitude, bombarding it with
their inane mutterings. But now, using its newfound abilities,
Onespawn was able to shut off that part of its mind, consciously
silencing all of the encroaching brainwaves except those it chose to
the Brezhnev’s dark matter drives were still non-operational,
Onespawn would soon rectify the problem, using the new tools at its
disposal. One-by-one, the humans onboard the ship had fallen to the
nanotechnological infection – a virus of Onespawn’s own
design – which worked at their cells and DNA, eventually making
puppets of them. Puppets that could serve the string-puller.
travel much faster on its own, but there were still technologies and
material onboard that could be put to use. Most intriguing to
Onespawn was the apparatus that had opened the wormhole through which
Onespawn itself had returned to the Universe.
would require further study.
Onespawn extended its stupidification field at will, and watched the
captive humans onboard through the ship’s surveillance system –
still not fully subsumed, they began laughing and falling over. The
Brainspawn retracted its field, and the humans went quietly back to
their programmed tasks.
Brown Dwarf star directly ahead, Onespawn began to plot a slingshot
trajectory when it suddenly detected small objects arrayed at the
limit of sensor range, around eighty million miles out. Focusing its
attention on the shapes, Onespawn applied gravitronic ‘Gradar’
scans, and emitted a silent snarl at the return result.
Nibblonian ships – holding station at a safe distance.
briefly considered opening a channel to taunt the creatures, but
dismissed such an act as pointless. Let the rodents believe they
remained unseen; for in time, Onespawn would have the power to swat
them from existence.
Wernstrom, or the last conscious part of the being that used to be
Ogden Wernstrom, railed bitterly at himself for his own stupidity. If
only he had realized earlier that the insidious nanomachines had
penetrated the suit and infected his flesh. By the time the itching
had turned to burning, and the truth became readily apparent,
Wernstrom’s vocal and motor functions were no longer his own.
Detachedly, he had to admire the skill with which the nanites had
been re-engineered to piggyback the body’s neural network so
writhed silently, watching through his own eyes as his body moved to
some alien will. After he’d been forced to brush nano-spores
onto each of the other crew members, he’d been sent off to work
on restoring power to the dark matter drives.
feel the presence of the Brainspawn resonating in his mind –
changes wrought by the nanites tuning him directly into its
terrifying alien thoughts, completely and irrevocably. And not only
that… whenever his body passed in front of reflective surfaces
he noted a pallid, pinkish-grey sheen had spread across his skin,
with strange new lines that seemed to worm around beneath the
surface. His hair was falling out, and his cranium had expanded…
and the rest of the crew were being changed into something…
else… was savagely obvious. But any attempt he made to wrest
control of himself away from the Brainspawn’s influence was met
with intense agony.
And so he
toiled, unable even to cry out.
the way he wanted to end a distinguished career of scientific
progress – unleashing a deadly horror upon the Universe, and
being consumed by it.
all, he regretted missing the chance to see Hubert Farnsworth die.