Fan Fiction

Blame It On The Brain, part 7
By coldangel_1

Chapter 22: Armageddon outta here

The heavily-damaged Nimbus struggled to maintain altitude over New New York. Smoke trailed from its battle damage.

Captain Zapp Brannigan sat in his command chair, glaring out at the gigantic brain that hung with casual enormity before the stricken vessel.

“Hit it with everything we’ve got!” he said.

“Sir, we have nothing,” Kif replied.

“Then hit it with that!”

“The torpedo tubes are damaged.”

“Damaged?” Brannigan sneered. “Damage is no excuse for cowardice – have some able spacemen arm all of our remaining warheads and load them into a jettison capsule. I saw that once in a movie – we’ll get close to the enemy and shoot the capsule right up its… Kif, where to you stick things up a brain?”

“I’m sure I have no idea, sir,” Kif muttered. “However the area of blackness which has surrounded the creature appears to be repelling all the orbital attacks from our own fleet and the Omicronian vessels.”

“Repelling, eh?” Brannigan said. “Well, let’s see it repel five-million metric tons of DOOP warship! All ahead one third!”

The Nimbus limped toward Onespawn, pushing through walls of rushing wind and crackling bolts of lightning. The vessel began to tremble as esoteric tidal forces afflicted it. The giant brain rose up like a sheer cliff of veiny pseudoflesh, encased in dark energy.

“How’s that jettison capsule coming?” Brannigan asked, gripping the armrests of his seat as the ship shook violently.

“It’s almost done,” Kif said, listening to an earpiece. “Sir, are you sure about this?”

“A starship captain's most solemn oath is that he will give his life, even his entire crew, rather than run away and look like a chicken,” Zapp said. “There are certain things men must do to remain men.”

“Oh Gods…” Kif murmured miserably.

The damaged warship reached the outermost extremity of the dark sphere and impacted it. Reality seemed to bend in response, and mile-long tendrils of unworldly energy stabbed out from the point of contact. As waves of displaced spacetime washed over the Nimbus, the number of crew on the bridge appeared to double and triple sporadically – Zapp and Kif saw themselves where they’d been standing fifteen minutes ago, and then half an hour before that…

Zapp looked forward, and saw his own back, stained with blood, with a steel beam protruding through his torso. The vision faded, and he gaped in astonishment.

“What the hell’s happening?” he said.

“We’re as close as we can get!” Kif shouted over the screaming alarms. “If we’re going to do something, it has to be now!”

“Launch the capsule!” Zapp yelled.

A small jettison pod rocketed out of the Nimbus’s forward hull, and into the dark field of reality compression. It twisted and rippled and, without so much as a puff of smoke, ceased to exist.

Onespawn gave a small chuckle, and casually hurled a wall of psychoplasmic energy at the Nimbus.

“It didn’t work…?” Brannigan said, gaping in bewilderment.

Kif saw the oncoming hail of destructive energy, and shouted at the top of his lungs: “Brace for impa…”

He got no further. The ship took massive and devastating hits, with huge sections of its superstructure vaporizing in explosive fountains of fire. The Nimbus fell away from Onespawn, suddenly a great unpowered lump of steel. It crashed down on the far bank of the East River, carving out a long trail of destruction before coming to rest.

On the bridge, survivors picked themselves up and began fighting through the smoke to the emergency exits. Kif looked around for the Captain, and saw that he had been thrown toward the demolished front section of the cabin during the crash landing, and now appeared to be lying across an equipment bank. He walked over and noticed that his initial assessment was incorrect.

Zapp Brannigan was impaled on a broken, serrated length of metal support strut; it jutted out of the middle of his back, coated in blood and gore.

“Sir!” Kif said in alarm, moving to his side. “Hold still, I’ll find someone to…”

“Kif…” Zapp said weakly, with blood colouring his lips.

“Yes sir?”

“I have been… and always shall be… your friend…” Brannigan slumped forward, and Kif sat down, staring for a long time at the dead man.

The little escape pod manoeuvred on candlepower thrusters and gently set down outside Planet Express, hinging open with a hiss. Hermes, Amy, Scruffy, and Farnsworth all walked out, and all but the Professor gazed upward in frightened awe at the abomination that filled the sky.

Farnsworth stared into space, his mind filled with unvoiced grief and bitter imaginings of what might have been. Mom was gone…

“Sweet Phoenix of Phoenix!” Hermes muttered. “The ting is eating up the sky!”

“That’s unsettlin’,” Scruffy muttered as he thumbed casually through a copy of zero-G Juggs.

“What’s that black blork coming out of it?” Amy wondered.

“Oh, probably just an area of time and space being compressed,” Farnsworth said distantly, without looking up. “The theoretical ‘Fry-hole’ predicted by the what-if machine would be a similar example. Who cares? Shut up!”

Eerie-sounding thunder rolled overhead, and the group headed inside, where they found Zoidberg huddled under the meeting table.

“My friends!” the lobster exclaimed, scuttling out of hiding. “You came back to save your beloved Doctor Zoidberg!”

“In your dreams, you rotten shellfish,” Hermes said, pushing Zoidberg aside. He sat down at the table, and by some unspoken agreement the others sat as well.

“We will, on this occasion, defer the reading of the previous meeting minutes,” Hermes said, and the others looked surprised at this unprecedented happening. “Straight onto the first order of business – Armageddon.” He activated the wall screen and √2 national news came on.

“EARTH, pitiful homeworld of the insignificant human species, is DOOMED!” Morbo the news monster bellowed from the television

“That’s right, Morbo,” the co-anchor Linda said. “After a chaotic space battle involving three separate attack fleets, the alien brain entity known only as ‘Onespawn’ has settled above the city of New New York, where it has initiated a strange energy reaction that specialists suggest may completely destroy the Earth and all who dwell upon it.”

“Morbo APPLAUDS the imminent destruction of the PATHETIC human civilization!” Morbo declared, clenching a sinewy green fist. “We will cross live now to Earth President Richard M. Nixon for an emergency address to the planet.”

The screen changed to show Nixon’s preserved head, with beads of condensation forming on the glass jar.

“My fellow Earthicans,” he said. “We face a stern day in the history of our species. A great enemy has thrown down a challenge, and that challenge is survival. Never before in the history of the human race has so much been owed by so few to so many. I speak, of course, of the majority of the population who will bravely remain on Earth to meet their fate with dignity and honour, so that those intelligent and wealthy among us can depart to continue the human legacy. I salute you all.”

Two Secret Service men appeared and picked up Nixon’s jar.

“Well, that’s all from me,” he said as the men carried him away from the camera. “Gotta run now – hope the Apocalypse goes well for you all.” He was carried into Air Force One, a sleek blue and white starship, which quickly lifted off and blasted away.

“That was Earth’s President, the head of Richard M. Nixon,” Linda said when the camera returned to the studio. To her credit, she looked only slightly pale.

“Morbo’s only regret,” Morbo said, “is that someone ELSE will enjoy the honour of destroying this UTTERLY RIDICULOUS world!” He promptly hit a button on his chair and it blasted up off the floor, crashing through the roof and carrying him away on a plume of flame. Linda was left looking frazzled. She looked at the camera, smiled weakly, and gave a half-hysterical laugh.

All across the world, space vessels were launching – fleeing the doomed world as the strange black sphere grew over New New York.

Hermes switched off the television and they all looked glum.

“Those ignorant fools,” Farnsworth muttered. “If they think they’ll actually be safe offworld then they’ve got another thing coming – Fry and the Nibblonian are the only ones who know how to stop that thing, and if they fail the creature will be the end of everything.”

Most of the team didn’t really understand, but they took it on faith. Outside, the sky rumbled, temporarily blotting out the sound of looters on the streets.

“Well, what do we do now?” Amy asked.

“Huh-whaa?” the Professor looked at her in confusion. “Oh my, there’s very little we can do. Now that the creature is encased in a field of compressed spacetime nothing can touch it… nothing but an object of extreme power with a connection to spacetime itself… like a thermonuclear wristwatch… or a highly-caffeinated Tree Sloth…”

The Lance of Fate shimmered with unearthly energy, as its bearer had come to expect it to do.

Fry clutched it close to his chest as he was pulled a breakneck speed through the tubeline toward the city, with the others following closely behind. Their line looped up over the raised arm of the Statue of Liberty and dipped down underwater as it headed toward Manhattan. Fry occasionally caught glimpses of the outbound lines completely overfull with the congested bodies of hapless citizens trying to flee the city. He, Leela, Bender, and Nibbler seemed to be the only ones trying to get in.

When the tube deposited them in the middle of Times Square, Fry stumbled on the pavement and almost impaled himself on the Lance (wondering idly what kind of disastrous cosmic feedback loop that would have caused). He and the others stood looking around at the panic that had gripped the city. Storefronts were smashed open and hovercars were set alight – their smoke adding to the gloom being cast by Onespawn.

“Another day in the life of New New York,” Leela muttered. “Sometimes I think the entire population of this city is just a mob-in-waiting.”

“But when in Rome…” Bender said, trying to close his chest door over a new model television that was far too large to fit.

On the big holoscreen above the square, the haggard and drawn face of Mayor Poopenmeyer appeared, larger than life.

“New New Yorkers!” he said. “I urge calmness in the face of this threat – come on people! Every alien invasion it’s the same thing – you schmucks do more damage than the enemy! Pull it together for the love of…”

The message cut out when a bolt of lightning slammed into the screen, causing it to explode in a shower of sparks. People on the street screamed and increased their terrified looting.

“Great Scot!” Fry said, staring up at the angry sky.

“This is heavy,” Bender added, struggling under the weight of the TV.

Leela looked down at Nibbler. “How much worse is this going to get?” she asked, pointing at the sky.

“Much worse,” Nibbler replied. “I doubt the city can be saved, even if Fry is able to reach Onespawn. But it is a loss we’ll have to accept.”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I don’t. I won’t.” She turned to Fry and took him by the hand. “There’s something I have to do.”

“You’re not going off on your own, are you?” Fry asked with a small smirk.

“Not exactly.” Leela leaned forward and kissed him. “Don’t finish this without me.”

“I’ll be at the highest point,” Fry said, motioning skyward with the Lance.” I’ll see you there.” Leela nodded and then sprinted away at full speed, dodging looters and vaulting over debris. She disappeared from view.

Fry looked up at the swirling maelstrom above. Onespawn was still visible in the centre of dark mass, from which the slender funnels of energized tornadoes now protruded, licking down toward the city. The wind picked up.

Fry headed off, with Bender dutifully following behind and Nibbler scampering up onto his shoulder, toward the tallest building – Momcorp headquarters.

Every public telephone she came upon had been smashed to pieces by the roving mobs, so Leela ran flat-out all the way to Planet Express, bursting through the door and instantly having to duck beneath Professor Farnsworth’s shotgun blast.

“Professor, stop!” Amy said, pulling the weapon away from him. “It’s Leela!”

“I don’t know any Leelas!” he snapped.

Leela straightened and surveyed the scene – workbenches had been arranged into a crude barrier to defend against the looters. Cubert, Dwight, and LaBarbera were present, as well as the rest of the Planet Express team.

“Leela, what’s goin’ on?” Hermes said. “Where’s that idiot zombie Fry?”

“Saving the Universe,” Leela grunted simply. She moved past them all and went to the videophone, punching in a rapid series of numbers and waiting for the connection to be made.

At length, the logo of SewerCom appeared onscreen, to be quickly replaced by the worried faces of Morris and Munda.

“Leela! Thank goodness you’re alright!” Munda said. “We were so worried, what with all those terrible sounds coming from above… what in the world is happening?”

“I don’t have a lot of time to explain,” Leela replied. “It’s all going to hell, and a lot of people may be about to die. We need your help.”

“What can we do?” Morris asked.

Leela took a breath. “You want to claim your rightful place on the surface,” she stated. “God knows you deserve it, and shouldn’t have to earn it or prove yourselves worthy. But people are afraid of what they don’t understand – it’s their nature, it always has been. Now we have an opportunity in the middle of despair – a chance to show them who you… who we are. We can make a difference – and if we don’t all end up dead or cease to exist then maybe things will finally start to change.”

Morris and Munda glanced at each other, and nodded.

Then Leela told them what had to be done. She ended the call and stood purposefully, and the rest of the Planet Express crew watched her, waiting.

“You guys had better get to safety,” she told them.

“What are you going to do?” Amy asked innocently. “Something masculine and undignified?”

Leela glared. “I’m going to help Fry,” she said. “We’ve got one last-ditch chance to put a stop to this thing. I have to go…”

“Not without Zoidberg!” the Decapodian said, raising a pincer.

“I’ll go along also,” Farnsworth said. “I have a score to settle with that monster.”

“Scruffy’s gonna get in on this action too,” the janitor said, putting aside his pornographic magazine and standing. “Sign me up.”

“I’ll help! I’m helpful!” Amy said, clapping her hands.

Hermes sighed. “I suppose I’d better go along and make sure occupational health and safety guidelines are adhered to,” he said.

Leela stared at the team, words lost beneath a swell of pride. She smiled at them. “You don’t have to do this you know,” she said.

“Hey.” Amy placed a hand on Leela’s shoulder and tilted her head to one side. “We’re friends, right? Friends stick together.”

Leela nodded. “Thanks guys,” she said. “Now here’s what we need to do…”

The quantum storm was worsening. Torrents of agitated atmosphere ripped across the city, blowing out windows and tearing antennas from their mountings. People on the streets below were no longer interested in looting – the true nature of their situation had begun to hit home with sheets of unnatural lightning and rampaging twisters that cut through the concrete canyons.

This was something far bigger than the traditional bi-annual alien invasion. Humans, Cygnoids, Neptunians, and sentient fungi alike all began falling to their knees, bile glands, or prehensile locomotion ridges, praying to whichever guiding deity occupied their individual mythologies.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, all around the city strange figures emerged from sewer vents, startling the already-terrified populace. The sewer mutants, acting on Turanga Leela’s directive, began herding the people of New New York toward the relative safety of the underground.

“Come on, people!” Dwayne shouted at a wide-eyed group. “You can hide beneath the surface – we’ll show you the way!”

“It’s the best chance you’ve got!” Vyolet added, holding open a manhole cover. “Spread the word – everyone can take refuge in the sewers!”

Morris and Munda directed a steady stream of refugees down into the subterranean stormwater system; most didn’t even look twice at the malformed mutations now, when they were all poised on the brink of annihilation.

“I hope Leela and Fry know what they’re doing,” Munda said, casting her single eye skyward to where the dark moon had filled the heavens.

Little Nina, from the Cookieville Minimum Security Orphenarium, and Tinny Tim the disabled child robot both paused to look up at Morris and Munda, who smiled back at the kids in an attempt to not look terrifying.

“Thank you,” Nina said nervously.

“Yes, quite,” Tinny Tim seconded.

“That’s alright, darlings,” Munda said. “Go along now, you’ll be safer below.”

As they hurried away to descend into the sewer vent, the Turangas looked at each other in surprise – perhaps their daughter was right.

Momcorp headquarters was empty. The building creaked and trembled, with structural damage sustained from Ultima’s earlier attack and the cyclonic winds outside conspiring to produce a symphony of eerie groans.

Fry, Bender, and Nibbler made their way up through the deserted building, at last reaching the top floor by elevator. The staircase to the observation deck lay before them.

“Last chance to turn back, you guys,” Fry told the other two.

“I will bear witness,” Nibbler replied, sitting on Fry’s shoulder.

“And I’m not missing the opportunity to rob your corpse when you die in a few minutes,” Bender said, heartily clapping Fry on the back. “Like they say – let no part of the carcass go to waste – watch, wallet, fillings…”

“…Okay then,” Fry said slowly. Together they ascended the stairs. At the top Fry paused for only a moment before pushing the door open and stepping out into hell…

Chapter 23: Fear and Loathing in NNY

The Universe fell toward Onespawn.

As the city below trembled in fear, time and space collapsed around the gargantuan mutated Brainspawn. And the only force holding reality back from the brink of total obliteration had moronically arrived, like a moth to the flame, at the epicentre – and would soon be destroyed along with the rest of… everything.

Onespawn sensed the Lance of Fate directly below. Close, but not close enough. It laughed and extended its coherent electromagnetic field to tap into the ebbing and flowing grid of the Earth’s so-called ‘Internet’ and gather inspiration from works of fiction that had been stored electronically. There was a veritable warehouse of creativity floating through cyberspace – a vast multitude of mental realms uploaded to public domain, available to all and sundry. Onespawn selected a few at random and applied their unique patterns to its flaring, burgeoning surplus of quantum energy…

A screaming vortex of wind ripped across the top of the Momcorp tower, with lightning stabbing all around. Fry stepped out into the open, braving the gale with Nibbler holding onto his jacket and the Lance at his side.

“Let’s do this thing,” he said.

“Right behind ya, buddy!” Bender called from his position cowering behind an air-conditioning duct.

“Come on, you slimy fat bastard!” Fry shouted up at Onespawn. “Come on down here and face me!”

In response, a disdainful laugh rolled across the turbulent sky.

“And why would I do that?” Onespawn said. “Why, when I can provide you with a host of playmates from your inane formulaic human literature?” The laughter came again, echoing from the black sphere above.

Waves of reality displacement rippled down around Fry, and the Lance glowed bright, protecting him and Nibbler from the effects.

“Is that all you’ve got?” Fry shouted in defiance, standing at the edge of infinity with the world ending around him.

“Ah… Fry?” Bender called. “You may wanna watch out…” Fry turned too late, and a very large misshapen fist slammed into him, knocking him and Nibbler across the concrete to fall dangerously close to the edge of the roof.

He groggily picked himself up and recovered the Lance from where it had fallen. Only then did he look at what had hit him. A sound somewhere between a grunt of surprise and a gasp of horror escaped his lips after he’d done a double and triple-take.

Standing before him was a half-naked pallid grey/green figure, more than seven feet tall, complete with horrific stitching all over it and bolts protruding from its neck. It was, without a doubt, the monster from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.

“How hard did I just hit my head?” Fry wondered, gazing at the shambolic figure.

“It’s real,” Nibbler said from the ground. “Onespawn is pulling fiction into reality, transubstantiating it with real matter and energy…”

“All is fiction!” Onespawn’s voice bellowed. “There is no difference!”

As the wind and lightning lashed across the roof, more figures appeared out of thin air. There was Terry Prachett’s interpretation of the Grim Reaper with his scythe held at the ready; Captain Hook, from J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan brandished his namesake and a curved cutlass; Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula bore inch-long fangs and hissed; and Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian swung a gigantic broadsword over his head and bellowed a deafening battle-cry.

“Oh hell,” Fry muttered as the fictional characters advanced on him, swinging their various weapons. Frankenstein’s monster reached him first, extending oversized hands and moaning mournfully. Fry stabbed out with the Lance of Fate, and the monster fell apart into individual lumps of harvested cadavers.

“End of the line, Frankenstein,” he said.

Dracula darted forward, his cape billowing, in a manner of movement that would be called catlike if he had paused every now and then to spray his scent on things. Instead of that, he leaped with an unearthly hiss at the orange-haired boy with the exposed throat and…

…came to a halt in midair with the Lance sticking through his heart. The count dissolved rapidly into a cloud of dust that was whipped away by the wind.

“You suck,” Fry quipped.

With a distinctly pirate-like yarrr, Captain Hook swung his cutlass at Fry, forcing the hapless delivery boy to jump back and teeter with his heels hanging over the edge of the building.

“Avast, ye scurvy dog!” came a coarse shout from behind the fictional pirate as a robot fist cracked Captain Hook across the back of the head, knocking off his tricorne hat and sending him sprawling.

The loincloth-garbed Conan the Barbarian rushed at Bender with a battle-cry invoking the favour of Crom. He swung his broadsword towards the robot, but Fry leapt in front and parried the blow with his Lance.

Fry and Bender found themselves standing back-to-back as Conan and the Grim Reaper bore down on them from two sides. Slowly, Frankenstein’s monster and Count Dracula had reassembled themselves, and along with Captain Hook they joined the others in a circle closing around the two friends. Nibbler scrambled around Fry and Bender’s feet and growled at the approaching literary figures.

“Never thought it’d end like this,” Bender said.

“Killed by a bunch of fictional characters?” Fry replied. “No, I didn’t see that coming either.”

“I always thought we’d be killed by television executives.”

Fry glanced at the robot in puzzlement.

“Well, might as well go out with a bang,” Bender went on, clenching his metal fists.

“Wouldn’t have it any other way,” Fry replied, hefting the Lance.

Death drew back his scythe, ready to reap his grim harvest…

…when suddenly a series of flaming holes appeared in his robe, exposing bones beneath. Death fell back, and Fry, Bender, and Nibbler all looked up to see Professor Farnsworth sitting in his hovering recliner chair and aiming a large-calibre laser rifle. An ancient, senile, gun-toting guardian angel.

“Mad scientists don’t fear the reaper!” the old man shouted angrily, firing another few laser bolts into the robed figure.

“Professor?” Fry said in surprise. He almost lost his head, but a red lobster dropped from the sky wearing a jetpack and caught Conan’s swinging sword in his pincers.

“A big implement like that, I’d say you were trying to make up for something, I would,” Zoidberg said. “Puny stink-gland, perhaps?” He tightened his claws and the sword blade shattered.

“Doctor Zoidberg?” Fry gasped, blinking in bewilderment at the unlikely saviour.

Captain Hook began slashing at them with his hook, but went down like a weighted treasure chest when the leading edge of a Party/Ironing board struck him in the head. Amy surfed the modified flying board in a tight arc and hovered above, grinning.

“We thought we’d lend a hand,” she said.

A moustached individual with a grubby peak cap pulled low over his eyes motored across the top of the building on a hoverbike. He swung a heavy wrench in one hand, smashing it across the faces of Dracula, Conan, Frankenstein, and (accidentally) Zoidberg.

“Who the heck was that guy?” Bender said, watching Scruffy circle around.

Dracula picked himself up and lunged at Fry, only to be brought down by a series of bureaucratically-placed laser blasts. Hermes descended, wearing a jetpack and levelling a pistol.

“No vampirism is permitted in the city without an official permit signed in triplicate by the Attorney General and Mayor,” he said.

“You guys…” Fry said, looking around at the members of Planet Express standing or hovering around. “But where’s…?”

There came an ear-splitting “Hiiii-YAH!” from behind him, and Conan the Barbarian fell past into a crumpled heap, a small dagger clattering from his grasp. Fry smiled and turned to see Leela standing in an Arcturan Kung-Fu stance, with a jetpack strapped to her back.

“Hey there, Mighty One,” she said with a small grin. “You ready to save the universe?”

“You ready to save it with me?” Fry countered. They both smiled at each other with quiet bravado; both aware of the potential for tragedy looming, and both pushing through the fear because it was the only thing they could do.

The fictional characters began to fade away, melting into nothingness. Fry and Leela stepped closer to each other.

“I love you so much,” Fry told her.

“And I love you,” Leela replied.

Suddenly, with a tremendous crash, a bolt of turquoise lightning flashed from the sky and slammed down into the concrete between them, throwing them both back with concussive force. Smoke and crackling sparks issued from the impact point and a resonant mocking laugh filled the psychic aether.

“How romantic,” Onespawn said. “The Idiot and the Freak – it could be the title of a fairy tale. And you’ve brought your meddlesome friends along to die with you I see.”

The building trembled.

“Laugh all you want,” Fry said, glaring up at the giant brain. “But it’s our friendship that makes us stronger than you. Alone we’re nothing, but together we can’t be stopped.”

“Stronger than me?” Onespawn repeated incredulously. “ Philip J. Fry, you have already lost – you only draw breath because your antics amuse me. But now I think it’s time to refer to another work of fiction…”

Reality dysfunction washed over them, and Fry cringed. “Oh lord, what next?”

The trembling in the building increased by an order of magnitude, and cracks began to appear in the concrete. Fry and Leela picked themselves up and glanced around.

“Maybe we should…” Leela trailed off, watching in horror as a huge grotesque tentacle pushed out of a crack in the rooftop and coiled up, writhing around as it was joined by others, all slithering out in ponderous silence until the roof was surrounded by rubbery questing feelers the width of tree trunks.

“A giant squid!” Zoidberg squealed, blasting into the air with his jetpack.

“I… don’t think that’s a squid,” Leela said slowly. A large section of roof lifted and fell away, revealing a huge pulpy head with sinister glowing yellow eyes. A massive dorsal ridge bore the stubs of rudimentary wings, and viciously curved claws emerged from beneath it. The creature looked like the bastard child of an octopus and a dragon.

It was Cthulhu, the ‘Great Old One’, an ancient evil concocted by the legendary horror writer, H. P. Lovecraft.

“I hate it when the bad guys don’t play fair,” Fry said, watching a dozen tentacles snaking toward him.

Cthulhu let out an indescribable howl as Farnsworth and Hermes flew around it, firing their weapons into its hideous writhing flesh. Leela began running towards Fry, but was blocked by a mass of tentacles that slammed down in her path. Fry gripped the Lance of Fate in a desperate bid at defending himself against the monstrous evil, but something grabbed him from behind and hefted him up by the armpits.

It was Bender.

“Your time to shine, meatbag,” the robot said. “Don’t make me any more embarrassed to be your friend.” With a whine of servomotors, he extended his arms, lifting Fry up, higher and higher away from the monster, with Nibbler clinging to his shoe.

“Bender!” Fry yelled as the robot’s arms continued to extend. Bender was lost from view beneath a swarming mass of tentacles, and the slender metal arms swayed alarmingly.

Suddenly Amy appeared, swooping in on her Party Board to collect Fry and Nibbler on the front. Fry hung over the edge of the contraption to look down at where Cthulhu swiped angrily at Farnsworth, Hermes, and Leela, who flew around it in pestering circled. Of Bender, there was no sign…

…until suddenly a metal arm emerged from the tentacles, enthusiastically burning the creature’s flesh with a lit cigar.

“Hold on tight!” Amy told Fry as she angled her board upward. He dragged his eyes away from the scene below and looked up to see Onespawn and the Dark Moon looming as one, filling the sky.

“I can go no further with you,” said a small solemn voice near his ear, and Fry turned to glance at Nibbler.

“I thank you,” Nibbler went on. “To have frozen you, and used you as we did, the debt can…”

“I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Fry said automatically, not really understanding how he could have known, but feeling as if he always had nonetheless.

“Farewell,” Nibbler said. “It has been an honour.”

“Honour this, you intractable fools!” Onespawn bellowed, shooting a bolt of psychoplasma down at them.

Gan ni niang!” Amy swore potently, trying to bank the overloaded Party Board but unable to steer in time. The ball of energy billowed toward them, and the Lance of Fate flared incandescent, its temporal field pulsing. Without thinking, Fry held it aloft, and the psychoplasma seemed to splash against an invisible wall, flowing around the figures perched on the flying board. But they shuddered under the force nonetheless, and the board’s antigravs laboured – it wouldn’t hold for long.

Zoidberg flew in from one side, the nozzles of his jetpack leaving a white trail.

“Hot potato!” Amy said. “Good luck Fry!” The Decapodian caught him around the waist and yanked him off the board, leaving Amy and Nibbler behind.

“Welcome aboard, passengers – thank you for flying Zoid Air,” Zoidberg said as Fry clung to him. Crimson energy bolts flashed down after them, burning a line through the air.

Leela flew past, ascending to a higher altitude, and Fry realized his friends were all following some kind of plan. Even as the explosive plasma blasts drew dangerously close, he couldn’t help the wild grin that spread across his face. His friends, his team-mates – the greatest people in the world.

“Go, my friend - fly!” Zoidberg shouted, letting go of Fry. For a moment he was in freefall, and then the rear seat of a hoverbike was beneath him, and he hung on for dear life, the Lance still in his free hand, as Scruffy angled the vehicle upward into the howling wind.

Keep passing the parcel – that was the idea. Change direction, change the carrier, keep the movement unpredictable… and maybe they’d have a chance. Using the janitor’s shoulder as support, Fry stood up and watched Hermes fly with his jetpack on an intercept course.

“Scruffy believes in you, kid,” Scruffy said. “Kick some temporal lobe!”

Fry flung out his free hand and Hermes caught it, yanking him off the hoverbike and upward at a different angle. Of course, something as massive as Onespawn would likely have some trouble trying to pick off comparatively tiny, fast-moving objects too close to itself. Bigger isn’t always better, and is more often a hindrance… so Fry had always told himself in the gym class locker room.

The wind buffeted him and Hermes, and the jetpack whined under the loading. Lightning slashed past them, and energy bolts sizzled through the air.

“Alright, ya lazy, good-for-nothin’ freeloader,” Hermes said. “Ya better not screw this up… we’re countin’ on ya, mon.” He let go of Fry’s arm, and he fell, carried onward by inertia for a short time before dropping into Professor Farnsworth’s lap.

“Oh my…” Farnsworth said, increasing his recliner chair’s thrust and angling up toward the immense black sphere that now hung only a few hundred feet above.

Psychoplasma stabbed down from Onespawn again, and again the Lance of Fate repelled it, at the cost of velocity and a burning sensation that coursed through Fry’s cosmic stigma.

“Well, off you go!” the Professor said, and Fry found himself whisked suddenly away, with strong-yet-soft hands gripping him beneath the arms.

Without even turning his head he knew it was Leela. The contours of her body pressed against him; the hint of her subtle scent, recognisable to him even in the rushing wind; her warm breath against his neck…

“It’s all or nothing,” she said in his ear.

“Nobody can say we didn’t give it our best,” Fry replied.

“On the plus side,” Leela reflected, “if we lose, there’ll be nobody around to criticize us for it.”

“I hadn’t thought about it like that.”

Lightning and energy bolts filled their world, and the wind roared. Responding to minute movements in the small muscles of Leela’s back, the thrust-vectoring nozzles in the jetpack fought to keep them moving upward. It had come down to it at last: the time-honoured Suicidal Headlong Charge into the Face of Certain Death. Leela stole one hand briefly away from Fry to activate a belt-mounted control box, and then she gripped him even more tightly as an illegal after-market accessory came online.

The pod nestled between the jetpack’s two thrust nozzles was designed as a disposable rocket booster for escape capsules. Retrofitted to a jetpack, it gave a massive burst of speed, far beyond design specifications and legal limits for personal flight apparatus.

Fry and Leela shot upwards on a trail of fire.

At any other time, Fry would have whooped in exhilaration, but now the Dark Moon was looming above them like a solid ceiling, and they were closing on it at high speed.

A few pithy and emotional comments filtered through his mind, but the screaming air rushing past his ears, the crash of lighting, and the scant seconds remaining made them pointless.

The Lance glowed.

And the blackness responded, opening before them…

…They flew inside.

The Planet Express team flew back to Momcorp tower, looking up as the black sphere fluxed and rippled. Cthulhu was gone, vanished into nothingness and leaving Bender only a little dented.

“I hope Fry and Leela will be okay,” Amy said needlessly.

The quantum storm seemed to worsen; huge swirling tornadoes slashed across the city, and the Dark Moon expanded, growing down towards them.

“We’ve done all we can here,” Farnsworth said.

“Let’s git ourselves below street-level,” Scruffy added.

Nibbler watched the pulsing dark mass of reality compression above, and reluctantly took hold of Amy’s Party Board as the team left.

New New York began to crumble under the punishment; sections of buildings collapsed, crashing to the streets below; tube lines came down; billboards and suicide booths became deadly missiles in the screaming wind.

But there were no people about.

Deep underground, millions of ears listened to the destruction above. The refugees waited and hoped.

Chapter 24: I can’t believe it’s not fiction!

Strange sensations washed over Fry and Leela as they shot up into the field of darkness. Time seemed to slow and distance became difficult to judge. Looking down briefly, Fry saw the city below in smoking ruins, then as pristine untouched forest, and then as a bustling metropolis once again. Windows through history opened and shut like an out-of-order flipbook, and the effect made him look away as nausea threatened.

Onespawn’s voice came from somewhere near or far, above or below… it was impossible to tell in the zone of compressing spacetime.

“Get away!” it said. “Get away from me!” For the first time, there was real fear in the creature’s psychic bellow.

“I can’t tell where it is!” Leela shouted, still holding Fry tightly as gravity faltered and changed direction at random. She used the vectored-thrust nozzles on the jetpack to turn a full circle, and Onespawn suddenly appeared massively before them, and then faded off into an impossible distance.

“Space must be different in here,” she observed.

“You mean like the TARDIS?” Fry replied.

“Something like that. At least four dimensions are being broken down here…”

“Stay back!” Onespawn said. “You will not stop me, not now!”

Telekinetic impulses shoved them this way and that, but Leela kept on flying, tracking Onespawn’s position even as it seemed to shift around within the uncertain physical laws.

They were still coming. Even despite everything, they were still coming. With faces set in unshakable resolve they were coming… the Lance of Fate held at the ready… still coming.

Damn them! Onespawn reached the edge of panic, and in desperation turned once again to fiction from the human world, extending an area of telepathic influence, grabbing at the minds of its two attackers and pulling them in, down through the quantum foam and flotsam of reality and into the realm of fantasy…

…which, after all, really was the same thing.

Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger…

A hard bolt of water hit James Bond in the face. The water stung his eyes and filled his mouth. He was on some sort of a table and his wrists and ankles were bound to its edges. He felt with his fingers. He felt polished metal.

A voice, Onespawn’s voice, flat, uninterested, said: “Now we can begin.”

Bond turned his head towards the voice. His eyes were dazzled by the light. He squeezed them hard and opened them. Onespawn was floating nearby, a miniscule fraction of its previous size. It had unbuttoned a collar that, against all logic, adorned the bottom portion of the brain structure. At the other end of the room, a young orange-haired man and a purple-haired woman with a horrifically enormous single eyeball sat on chairs strapped by their wrists and ankles. They both sat bolt upright, looking shocked.

A few feet away stood the Korean, Oddjob, still wearing his bowler hat.

Bond glanced down the table on which he lay spreadeagled. He let his head fall back with a sigh. There was a narrow slit down the centre of the polished steel table. At the far end of the slit, like a foresight framed in the vee of his parted feet, were the glinting teeth of a circular saw.

“Wait, I know this,” Fry said. “But wasn’t it supposed to be a laser?”

“That was the movie,” Leela replied. “This must be the book… the damn thing has us trapped in fiction again.”

“Mr. Bond,” Onespawn said, ignoring Fry and Leela. “The word ‘pain’ comes from the Latin poena meaning ‘penalty’ – that which must be paid. You must now pay for the inquisitiveness which your attack on me proves, as I suspected, to be inimical. Curiosity, as they say, killed the cat. This time it will have to kill three cats, for I fear I must count these two animated characters behind me as enemies also. They came here to kill me. Perhaps you did too. You have all failed. Now must come the poena.” The voice was heavy, bored. “I have had many enemies in my time. I am a very powerful interdimensional being, and power, if I may inflict another of my aphorisms upon you, may not make you friends, but it greatly increases the class and variety of your enemies.”

“That’s very neatly put,” Bond said. “You express yourself most vividly.”

“He doesn’t look like Sean Connery,” Fry whispered to Leela.

“Book, not movie,” Leela repeated, straining at her bonds. Oddjob had tied them tightly, but the knots were inexpert, the little Korean hampered, perhaps, by his stubby fingers.

James Bond turned his head. The great pink/grey brain was bent slightly forward. Casually, a tendril of telekinetic energy snaked out to a control panel and pressed down a switch. There came a slow metallic growl from the end of the table on which Bond lay. It curved quickly up to a harsh whine and then to a shrill high whistle that was barely audible.

“Now then, Mr. Bond,” Onespawn’s voice was brisk. “Enough of these amiabilities. Tell me everything you know about the so-called ‘Lance of Fate’ and the decidedly poorly-named ‘Mighty One’ and you will die quickly and painlessly. The two cartoon people also. Refuse and your death will be one long scream. Which is it to be?”

The lever on the table moved across iron teeth. Now Bond could feel the wind of the saw between his knees.

“You’re being a damn fool, Onespawn,” Bond said through gritted teeth.

Leela pumped her fists and felt the knot loosen on her right wrist. Her eye narrowed. She’d never read the book, but she had seen the movie once or twice. If memory served, Fry had made her sit through the obligatory car-chases and chauvinistic overtones. And if it served further, she knew there was an effective cutting tool perched on the head of the little Korean strongman standing nearby. This is, if the film had been true to the novel on that score…

She eased her fingers out of the bonds and waited for a moment as Onespawn continued to perform his arch-villain rant at the captive secret agent. Then, in an explosive burst of movement, she shot out her arm and grabbed the bowler hat off Oddjob’s head.

“Don’t you know it’s rude to wear hats indoors?” she remarked, slamming the brim of the hat against the straps still holding her ankles and left wrist. As anticipated, the felt rim of the hat parted, exposing the slender sharp alloy band that cut through the bindings. She was on her feet in a flash, swiping at Oddjob with the bowler hat as he tried to make a grab at her. The little man was a practiced martial artist, and the rapid kicks he launched at Leela would have been devastating if they’d connected, but she managed to duck and weave, hammering her own boot into his stomach and sending him sprawling.

“Way to go Leela!” Fry yelled from his chair. She swung around to quickly cut him loose. When they straightened up, Onespawn had vanished and a nearby door hung open, leading out into the Geneva night.

“We have to follow it,” Fry said. “It’s the only way out of this stupid stylized spy thriller.”

Together they headed for the door, but a polite cough made them pause.

“Er, if you wouldn’t mind?” James Bond said, still strapped to the table with the circular saw spinning about an inch away from his crotch.

Five minutes later Fry and Leela were crammed into Bond’s Aston Martin DB Mark III as the secret agent drove the car at blinding speed along the narrow country lanes. Ahead of them in the Aston’s headlights, Onespawn flew over hill and dale, trying to evade the pursuers.

“I’ll see that bastard playing his golden harp yet,” Bond said, checking his Walther PPK with one hand while steering with the other.

Suddenly Onespawn vanished over a rise, and Bond drove the Aston up to a sheer cliff face. The three of them climbed out and looked down to see Onespawn descending ponderously toward the inky black sea below.

“Now I am forever rid of you meddlesome fools!” the creature called up at them. “Let this, the self-indulgent hero fantasy of a woman-hating alcoholic, forever be your tomb!”

“Certainly not if I have anything to say about it,” James Bond said, levelling his PPK at the brain and snapping off a few quick shots. Onespawn descended faster, fleeing the fictional construct. Fry and Leela glanced at each other, nodded, and together made a running jump over the edge of the cliff and into open space. They fell toward Onespawn and the crashing waves far below…

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles…

So as the fog-bank flowed onward we fell back before it until we were half a mile from the house, and still that dense white sea, with the moon silvering its upper edge, swept slowly and inexorably on. "We are going too far," said Sherlock Holmes. "We dare not take the chance of his being overtaken before they can reach us. At all costs we must hold our ground where we are." He dropped on his knees and clapped his ear to the ground. "Thank God, I think that I hear them coming."

A sound of quick steps broke the silence of the moor. Crouching among the stones we stared intently at the silver-tipped bank in front of us. The steps grew louder, and through the fog, as through a curtain, there stepped the orange-haired man and cyclops woman whom we were awaiting. They both looked round themselves in surprise as they emerged into the clear, starlit night. Then they came swiftly along the path, passed close to where we lay, and went on up the long slope behind us. As they walked they glanced continually over either shoulder, like two people who are ill at ease.

"Hist!" cried Holmes, and I heard the sharp click of a cocking pistol. "Look out! It's coming!"

There was a thin, crisp, continuous humming from somewhere in the heart of that crawling fog bank. The cloud was within fifty yards of where we lay, and we glared at it, all four, uncertain what horror was about to break from the heart of it. I was at Holmes's elbow, and I glanced for an instant at his face. It was pale and exultant, his eyes shining brightly in the moonlight. But suddenly they started forward in a rigid, fixed stare, and his lips parted in amazement. At the same instant Philip Fry and Turanga Leela gave yells of terror and threw themselves face downward upon the ground. I sprang to my feet, my inert hand grasping my pistol, my mind paralysed by the dreadful shape which had sprung out upon us from the shadows of the fog. A brain it was, an enormous pinkish-grey brain, but not such a brain as mortal eyes have ever seen. Fire burst from its puckered ridges, its lobes glowed with a smouldering glare, its grotesque shape outlined in flickering blue flame. Never in the delirious dream of a disordered mind could anything more savage, more appalling, more hellish be conceived than that grizzly form and alien will which broke upon us out of the wall of fog.

With unearthly hovering motion, the huge floating creature was bearing down the track with a furious howl, following hard upon the footsteps of our two friends. So paralysed were we by the apparition that we allowed him to pass before we had recovered our nerve. Then Holmes and I both fired together, and the creature gave another hideous howl, which showed that one at least had hit him. He did not pause, however, but flew onward. Far away on the path we saw Fry and Leela looking back, their faces white in the moonlight, hands raised in horror, glaring helplessly at the frightful thing which was hunting them down.

But that cry of pain from the Brain of the Baskervilles had blown all our fears to the winds. If he was vulnerable he was mortal, and if we could wound him we could kill him. Never have I seen a man run as Holmes ran that night. I am reckoned fleet of foot, but he outpaced me. In front of us as we flew up the track we heard screams of anger or fear from Fry and Leela, and the deep roar of the brain. I was in time to see the beast spring upon its victim, hurl Mr. Fry to the ground, and worry at his throat despite the obvious lack of any mouth with which to do so. But the next instant Holmes had emptied five barrels of his revolver into the creature's flank. With a last howl of agony and a vicious bolt of energy into the air, it rolled upon its back, and then fell limp. I stooped, panting, and pressed my pistol to the dreadful, shimmering brain tissue, but it was useless to press the trigger. The giant brain was dead.

Fry and Leela gathered themselves and stood nearby, looking confused. They glanced at myself in unrecognition and then at the detective, seeming at once to find familiarity in his deerstalker cap and calabash pipe.

"My God!" I whispered. "What was it? What, in heaven's name, was it?"

"It's dead, Watson, whatever it is," said Holmes. "We've laid the family ghost once and forever."

“I wouldn’t count on that, Sherlock,” Mr. Fry muttered.

“It’s a pretty stubborn bastard,” Miss Turanga added, and I blinked in surprise at such language from a Lady. She must surely have been delirious with fright.

All at once, the brain, which we had thought surely deceased, erupted from the ground more rapidly than they eye could follow, and righted itself in the air, hovering nearby to regard the four of us.

“May you be forever trapped within the unlikely confines of this archetypal detective story!” the creature said in a curiously genderless voice. It began to fly off over the moor, threatening to be lost from view in the driving fog.

“After it!” Mr. Fry shouted. “We can’t let it get away!”

Together, the four of us raced off the path and through the boggy hollows and treacherous peat of Dartmoor. Our two friends quickly outpaced Holmes and I, as though they ran with the weight of life itself pressing upon them. As we watched, they followed the brain into a bank of thick fog, and were lost from view…

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men…

The bunk house was a long, rectangular building. Inside, the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted. In three walls there were small, square windows, and in the fourth, a solid door with a wooden latch. Against the walls were eight bunks, five of them made up with blankets and the other three showing their burlap ticking.

At about ten o’clock in the morning the sun threw a bright dust-laden bar through one of the side windows, and in and out of the beams flies shot like rushing stars.

The wooden latch raised. The door opened, and a floating, oversized brain came in. It was greyish-pink and somehow carried a big push-broom over a non-existent shoulder. Behind it came George, and behind George, Lennie.

“We was expectin’ you last night,” the giant brain said. “Was sore as hell when you wasn’t here to go out this morning.” It pointed with an ethereal tendril of blue energy. “You can have them two beds there,” it said, indicating two bunks near the stove.

Lennie was just finishing making his bed when he noticed out the nearby window a couple of people seemed to walk out of midair out in the dusty yard. One wore a bright red jacket, and the other was a pretty woman with astonishing purple hair and something strange about her face that he couldn’t put his finger on. His mouth hung open.

The giant brain floated about the room with the short quick lunges of arrogance. “I wrote Murray and Ready I wanted two good men this morning,” it said. “You got your work slips?” George reached into his pocket and produced the slips and showed them to the brain. “It wasn’t Murray and Ready’s fault. Says right here on the slip that you was to be here for work this morning.”

George looked down at his feet. “Bus driver gave us a bum steer,” he said. “We hadda walk ten miles. Says we was here when we wasn’t. We couldn’t get no rides in the morning.”

The brain used telekinesis to retrieve a time book and opened it where a pencil was stuck between the leaves. George scowled meaningfully at Lennie, and Lennie nodded to show that he understood. The brain readied the pencil. “What’s your name?”

“George Milton.”

“And what’s yours?”

George said: “His name’s Lennie Small.”

The brain tilted its frontal lobe at Lennie. “He ain’t much of a talker, is he?”

“No he ain’t, but he’s sure a hell of a good worker. Strong as a bull.”

Lennie smiled to himself. “Strong as a bull,” he repeated.

George scowled at him, and Lennie dropped his head in shame at having forgotten to stay quiet.

The brain said suddenly: “Listen, Small!” Lennie raised his head. “What can you do?”

In a panic, Lennie looked at George for help. “He can do anything you tell him,” said George. “He’s a good skinner. He can rassel grain bags, drive a cultivator. He can do anything, just give him a try.”

The brain turned on George. “Then why don’t you let him answer? What you trying to put over?”

Just before George could answer, the wooden latch on the door sprung open once again, and the solid door flew back as if it had been kicked, as was the case. Standing in the dusty beam of flyblown sunlight were the two strangers from outside, the man and woman.

“We heard there was ranching work to be had,” the ginger-haired man said, picking up a pitchfork from a wall rack.

“Yeah, sign us up,” the one-eyed woman added.

The redhead kid hurled the pitchfork through the air, and it sailed straight and true, striking against the floating brain and hanging embedded in flesh for a moment before falling with three runnels of blood to the bare wooden floor. Lennie cried out in sudden horror.

“Make ‘um stop, George!” he wailed.

“Enough of this crap, Onespawn!” the cyclops woman said, circling around the wounded brain. “Let us out of these musty old stories! How long do you think you can really keep this up?”

“Don’t bother trying to reason with it, Leela,” the man said. “We’ve done this dance too often.” He balled his fists and moved closer.

“Fight as hard as you want!” the brain said scornfully. “It will make no difference – you may as well perish here in this dreary 1920s tale of hopelessness and loss.”

The brain rose in the air, and flew through one of the windows.

The man, who was named Fry, and the woman Leela, both ran from the bunk house in pursuit, leaving George and Lennie alone.

“George?” Lennie said.

“I ain’t got no answers,” George replied, sitting down heavily on the bunk. “Dunno what jus’ happened…”

A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool.

A floating brain fled across the top of the pool.

Two figures paused in their pursuit, before heedlessly leaping into the water. They reached and kicked toward Onespawn… and then both of them vanished unexpectedly, leaving hollows in the warm water that closed over with gentle splashes…

Space… the final frontier…

With a melodic chiming sound, Fry and Leela materialized from sparkling clouds of light and found themselves standing on circular pads in a room that looked suspiciously like it was made from plywood painted to look like a flowing futuristic surface. They glanced around themselves at the tacky surroundings and bulky control consoles.

“Hey,” Fry said. “I know this place… it’s the transporter room!”

“The what?” Leela asked.

A muffled giggle caught their attention, and they edged off the transporter pads curiously, peering over the top of the main control console.

“Oh!” Fry stepped back respectfully, while Leela remained watching for a few moments with a small grin on her face.

A man with dark burgundy hair was in the process of undressing a busty African-American woman on the floor. He surged to his feet at the intrusion, pulling his golden command shirt back down and glaring at the two strangers.

“Who the devil are you?” Captain James T. Kirk demanded. Uhura got to her feet, holding her discarded uniform in place to cover her nakedness and staring in horror at the one-eyed woman.

“Kirk… Uhura?” Fry said, gaping at the pair. “Oh no!” he wailed in anguish.

“What? What is it?” Leela asked in confusion.

“Don’t you see?” Fry went on, gesturing at the Captain and communications officer. “Now we’re trapped in some geek’s stupid out-of-character fan-fiction!”

“Fan-fiction?” Leela repeated in horror. “But that’s the worst kind of fiction there is!”

“I asked who you were!” Kirk snapped, stepping around the control console to confront the two intruders. “How did you get aboard the Enterprise? Why are you here?”

“I don’t have time to explain, sir,” Fry said. “We’re really only passing through – we just need to…”

Suddenly the deck beneath them shuddered violently, and red warning lights began to strobe from the wobbling walls.

“Captain to bridge,” a calm, well-rounded voice said over the ship’s intercom.

Kirk was already moving, but he paused as the door slid open, glancing back at Fry and Leela. “You two,” he said. “Whoever you are… your presence here now can’t… conceivably be coincidence. You’ll come with me and explain whatever’s happening.”

Fry and Leela followed him out toward the turbolift, with Uhura hurriedly dressing and moving after them.

After a short interval, Kirk stepped out onto the bridge of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 with the two strange intruders in tow. A tall man with high-arched eyebrows and elfish pointed ears approached him with hands folded behind his back and began speaking.

“Captain, we are registering very curious readings from all sensors,” Spock said.

“Specify,” Kirk said, moving past to stand behind his command chair.

“I cannot,” Spock replied. “According to our instruments, space itself is literally breaking up. There is no known phenomenon which would account for these readings.” The Vulcan glanced at Fry and Leela and raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“Stowaways,” Kirk responded to the unasked question. “Have Bones come up and check them out. I’ve an inkling they’re something to do with whatever force is acting upon the ship.”

Spock nodded and moved away.

“Captain!” Hikaru Sulu called from the helm. “We’re losing power in the warp engines!”

“How bad?” Kirk demanded stepping around the command chair and pausing theatrically in mid-stride.

“I can barely read it, but I don’t like it.”

Pavel Chekov looked up in alarm from his readings. “Keptin!” he said. “Visual detection of an object, dead ahead!”

“Onscreen!” Kirk shouted, perching himself on his chair in a state of catlike readiness. The main viewscreen came online and resolved into an image of space in front of the ship. In the centre of the image, a large shape shimmered and fluxed, solidifying gradually into a solid mass.

Fry and Leela exchanged glances. It was a brain. A giant brain that floated in space, surrounded by an ominous blue glow.

“How ‘bout it, Spock?” Kirk said in bewilderment.

“Fascinating,” Spock said. “A moment ago, there was no sensor contact.No mass analysis. No trace of radiation. Furthermore, there has been no reading consistent with a decloaking. Whatever that object is, it seems to have appeared… from nowhere.”

“Everything comes from somewhere, Spock,” Kirk said. “It looks like a… a…”

“A brain,” Spock finished for him.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. Is this what’s causing the subspace distortions?”

“It would seem a logical conclusion.”

The turbolift hissed open again and a slightly stooped man with a lined face and intense eyes emerged, glanced around the bridge with mild disapproval and fixed on the Captain.

“What am I, Jim?” he grumbled. “A doctor or a concierge? If I jumped every time a light flashed around here, I'd end up talking to myself. I signed on this ship to practice medicine, not to run up and down at each…” He trailed off when he noticed the giant brain looming in space beyond the ship.

“What do you make of that, Bones?” Kirk asked without looking at him.

Doctor Leonard McCoy squinted. “It’s a brain,” he said simply.

“I can see that,” Kirk replied, swivelling in his chair.

“Well what d’you want me to say, Jim? I’m a doctor, not a tactical analyst.”

“Maybe you should have a look at our two unexpected friends there,” Kirk said, pointing at Fry and Leela. “They appeared at the same time as that thing out there – and I’d wager there’s some connection.”

McCoy looked at the two strangers, noticing them for the first time, and his gaze was drawn to Leela’s eye, at which he gaped in astonishment.

“Remind me, Spock, never to make fun of your ears again,” he muttered, lifting his Tricorder from its strap and waving it over the two people.

Out in space, the giant brain pulsed, and the ship trembled alarmingly again. Rolling from out of nowhere came a booming laugh that made the whole crew freeze in sudden shock. It hadn’t come from the communications system, but inside their own minds.

“What in the world…?” Uhura said, looking frightened.

“Toil pointlessly forever under the auspices of fanboy obsession!” the psychic voice bellowed. “Trapped here within the confines of non-canonical obscurity! Hahaha!”

“Who is this?” Captain Kirk snapped, leaning forward. “Who’s doing this to us… and why?”

“It’s Onespawn,” Fry said, striding forward to stand beside the Captain’s chair and pointing out at the monstrosity. “You have to attack it!”

“It’s planning to destroy the Universe!” Leela added.

“Destroy the Universe?” Kirk repeated.

“Possible, sir,” said Spock. “The time-space distortions we are measuring are potentially on par with the effect we experienced when we encountered Lazarus.”

“Seems these pair of kids are generating a similar effect, albeit on a smaller scale,” McCoy said, staring at his Tricorder. “Obviously it isn’t what I was looking for, but there are definite temporal fluctuations surrounding the both of them.”

Kirk stared hard at Fry and Leela for a long moment before finally reaching a decision. “Alright, I’ll see where this goes” he said. “Uhura, open a channel.” When she had done so he spoke in a firm authoritarian tone: “I address the alien intelligence whose energy pulses are affecting this area of space. I am Captain James Kirk of the united spaceship Enterprise, calling on you to immediately cease your…”

“It’s firing, sir!” Sulu said suddenly. Crimson globules of energy had burst from the brain and shot toward the ship.

“Evasive!” Kirk snapped. “Aft shields to maximum!”

The ship shuddered as bolts of psychoplasma splashed explosively against it. Consoles erupted in sparks because they always do.

“Fire all phaser banks!” Fry shouted, and Kirk looked up at him irritably. “Sorry, sir…” he added sheepishly.

“Do what he said,” the Captain grunted.

Beams of light stabbed from the underside of the Enterprise’s main saucer section, cutting into Onespawn’s flesh. The creature let out a psychic roar and began to withdraw from the area, angling toward a small planet nearby.

“A photon torpedo!” Fry shouted, overcome by excitement. “Let’s finish it off!”

“Aye, Captain whoever-the-hell-you-are,” Kirk muttered sardonically. The inter-ship communication system chimed and Kirk keyed it in. “Scotty, report,” he said.

“Those impacts took a lot outta our shields,” the Scottish engineer replied from the bowels of the ship. “We simply haven’t got the power to take any more big hits like that. It we try it, the whole dilithium array’s gonna go kerplooey!”

“Thank you, Mr. Scott.”

“Captain, the creature appears to be going to ground,” Spock observed. Onespawn was making planetfall on the little unnamed world.

“We have to follow it,” Leela said.

“Alright then,” Kirk said, getting to his feet. “Mr. Spock, Bones, you two come with me. We’re going down to that planet along with our new friends here, and we’ll see what’s what. Mr. Sulu, you have the helm.”

As the five of them headed toward the turbolift, Fry looked around in mild confusion. “Where’s the red-shirt?” he asked.

“Pardon?” Kirk stared at him.

“Oh, you know… the ensign. There’s always a red-shirt ensign that goes with you guys on away missions who gets killed. Every time.”

“Er, son?” McCoy pointed at Fry’s jacket. He looked down at the bright red garment.

“Ah crap,” Fry muttered.

Down on the planet surface, Onespawn had carved out a huge crater. It lay smoking, an enormous mass of grotesque tissue. It was hurt. Nearby, five figures materialized out of thin air and stood staring up at it.

“Good lord,” McCoy grunted at the sight.

“Fascinating,” Spock added.

Kirk had his hand phaser out and held at the ready. “What now?” he said.

Leela cleared her throat. “Is there any way you can tune your weapons into the same harmonic frequency that Onespawn is generating?” she asked. “So that you could cancel it out?”

Spock looked at her in admiration. “An excellent idea, madam,” he said. “Most logical.”

The three Starfleet officers set to work on their phasers, and in a few short moments had them ready.

“Alright, wide-beam, on my mark,” Kirk said when they’d finished.

“You think this will get us back to reality?” Fry murmured to Leela.

“Best shot we have,” Leela replied.

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy opened fire, directing three intersecting fields of phased energy at Onespawn. The creature bellowed in pain and fury, and the Universe seemed to ripple and buck, and then drain away into nothingness…

…Fry and Leela found themselves hanging poised in an empty void… but then another more familiar fictional world rolled back around them like a welcoming embrace…

Instinct or subconscious reaction had locked Leela’s arms around Fry’s chest, even when both their minds were snatched away. Fry still gripped the Lance of Fate.

“We’re back?” he said, glancing around. They were hovering still within the field of darkness, and Onespawn hung nearby.

“Looks like it,” Leela said.

No!” the creature screamed. “It’s impossible! You cannot!”

“Time for the thrilling climax,” Leela said, angling the jetpack toward the creature. They flew straight and true, with Fry holding the Lance out before them.

The blade shimmered and pulsed…

…and met Onespawn’s flesh with a tremendous flash of light…