Catastrophe, part 5
Chapter 5: The Petaway
"Well, that didn't work. I guess we'll just go to plan B where I say 'I can explain...'"
Fry gathered his thoughts. I can explain. Sure. How can I explain?
"Okay... it all started when...
"...and that's what happened."
"So... you're basically saying that you prostituted yourself out to Morgan Proctor so that she'd push Amy's application through?" Leela replied, with a disgusted look.
"I think I prefer the term 'man-whore'. It sounds sleazier. If you don't want me to date you anymore in my imagination, I'll understand."
Leela mulled this for a moment. "Well... what you did was really, really degrading... but I guess you did it for a noble reason."
"For me," Amy added. "I can't believe you'd lower yourself like that on my behalf! That's so repulsive and sweet!"
"Not that it matters. After I did it, she decided not to go through with the bargain."
Amy's hackles rose. "She did WHAT? Biao-tze! I'll rip her intestines out and fangoriously devour them!"
"Amy..." Leela interjected, "...how about we find some way to deal with this that doesn't involve eating her?"
"Fine," the cat-intern replied. "We'll do it the boring way."
Soon, back at Planet Express, the three were discussing possible solutions.
"The way I see it," said Leela, "is that if we somehow find Amy's application, Hermes, being a higher-ranking bureaucrat, can stamp and approve it."
"Yeah," Amy replied, "but it's probably buried in that huge pile in the Central Bureaucracy. We'd never be able to get to it."
Fry, meanwhile, was busy scribbling down his thoughts furiously. Suddenly, the delivery boy perked up. "I think I have something!" he shouted.
"...Of course!" Leela replied. "We mount a daring break-in into the Central Bureaucracy and retrieve the application!"
"Exactly! That's exactly what I was gonna say!" responded Fry, hastily hiding his crude drawing of Superman reversing the Earth's rotation.
"We're going to need more than just the three of us, though," said Amy. "But who..."
"Did someone say 'daring break-in'?" came a familiar robotic voice. "'Cause I'm SO there."
"Bender. Perfect. The four of us should be enough," said Leela.
"Great!" said Fry. "Now let's seal the deal by putting our hands on top of each other for no reason!"
They did so, and then headed for the door. Unfortunately, Hermes had chosen that time to return from his 4:20 "coffee" break.
"Where are ya honkies sneakin' off to?" the Jamaican inquired. "Work doesn't end for another four hours!"
"Daring break-in at the Central Bureaucracy, sir," Fry answered.
"Sweet red-throated nuthatch of Dogpatch!" exclaimed Hermes. "You're actually considerin' breakin' into da Central Bureaucracy without a planning session? Are ya out of your thousand-year-old skull? Dat's it! Staff meeting! Right now!"
The entire staff was now gathered around the conference table: Fry, Leela, Bender, Amy, Dr. Zoidberg, Hermes, Professor Farnsworth, Scruffy, and the company's most recent acquisition, Robot 1X.
"This is madness, do you hear me?" exclaimed the Professor. "No one has ever entered the Central Bureaucracy and lived to tell the tale! No one! Ever!"
"What the hell are you talkin' about?" asked Bender. "We did it that time my brain got lost! And again that time you wanted to install a bottom in the bottomless pit and needed the permits! And a third time for Barbecue-and-Notarization Wednesday!"
"Ah, yes," reminisced Zoidberg. "What a day that was. Or so you told me when I was picked up from the kennel."
"Stop reminding me of things, damn it!" the Professor demanded. "Senility's no fun if you remember it!"
"Scruffy has a plan," drawled the janitor. "When Scruffy was the janitor at the Central Bureaucracy, Scruffy found a hidden entrance that led to an abandoned subway tunnel in Old New York. We can use that there entrance to get in unseen."
"Great!" Amy replied. "Then what?"
"I'm on break," answered Scruffy, taking out a copy of Playsentient. This wasn't an unexpected thing, so nobody would've reacted, except for what was on the cover.
"Ai ya... that's ME!" shrieked Amy.
Sure enough, the cover, next to a blurb reading "HERE, KITTY KITTY! New New York's Most Fabulous Furries!", sported a picture of the mutated intern, dozing peacefully in the nude.
"I didn't know you were gonna be in this month's issue," commented Fry. "If I had, I would've bought a copy... you know, for support."
"*I* didn't know!" answered Amy. "I don't know how they could've gotten those pictures, unless..."
"Bender!" Leela announced. "Okay, I saw you activating your Nonchalant Mode... "
"M'lady, I have no idea what you're yammerin' about."
"We'll deal with you later, Bender. Luckily, this break-in is more important, and like it or not, you're great at break-ins."
"We've still got one major problem," announced Hermes. "According to the Clooney Addendum to Sinatra's Law, we need eleven people for a break-in. So far, we only have ten... myself, Fry, Leela, Bender, Amy, the Professor, Zoidebrg, Scruffy, 1X, and Katrina... if she ever gets here."
"Wait, wait!" came a tiny voice. Katrina, Planet Express's diminutive Pixinian receptionist, came fluttering up on her little diaphanous wings. "Sorry... it's a long way from the lobby. What were we talking about?"
The others quickly filled the pixie in on the situation.
"You'll be our scout, of course," Leela told the tiny creature. Pixinians had a number of remarkable abilities, not the least of which included invisibility and telepathy. These qualities would make Katrina an excellent advance scout for the group.
"None of this matters if we can't get an eleventh!" reminded Hermes.
"Does it really matter if we don't have eleven?" asked Leela.
"Does it matter? DOES IT MATTER?!" cried Hermes. "We're talking bureaucratic regulations older than time itself! If we can't get the final member, I have no choice but to refuse permission."
"Looks like I arrived just in time, then."
Eight-and-a-half pairs of eyes, and one sensor-screen, whirled towards the room's entrance.
"I found out about your condition through Zapp's websurfing habits and..." he glanced over at Scruffy, "magazine subscriptions. My love... if you think you need to hide your new form from be, rest assured that I would sooner die than forsake you!"
"Oh, Kif, that's so sweet!" The feline girl bounded across the table and pounced on the amphibian, showering him with kisses, causing him to get flustered and reflexively camouflage himself. "Er, uh... ehm..." he sputtered.
"For goodness sake, Amy, don't hurt him, we need him!" exhorted Leela.
"Oh, sorry," she answered, blushing under her fur. "I just get a little over-stimulated sometimes."
"Now then," Leela said, "here's what we do..."
Old New York
32nd St. and 6th Ave. subway station
"Boy, this place brings back memories," sighed Fry. "Over there's where I was attacked by Asian Israeli Guy. And that's where me an' Michelle were serenaded by Naked Singing Construction Worker."
"Then... the legends of the Naked Village People...?" asked Leela.
"All too true," answered Fry.
"The secret entrance were here," Scruffy drawled, moving aside an ancient, decayed Adult Swim poster.
Bender regarded the ad. "Jeez. Humans back then were even uglier'n I thought. An' is that supposed to be a robot? Look at that thing. I don't look like that."
"And this box of fries with a face on it takes like old paper!" complained Zoidberg.
"You guys, can we step this up?" whined Amy. "All this dankness is matting my fur!"
"Fine," Leela said, taking the lead as she pulled the poster off the wall. "I'm guessing it's behind this grate."
"Hmmm..." the professor muttered to himself. "It seems to be made of metal. Metal which needs to be bent to be removed. If only there was some way that could be done..." Everyone groaned.
Once Bender had removed the grate, the group crawled through the small tunnel, Katrina in the lead, scouting.
About twenty feet out, the tunnel opened up into a large sewer pipe. "Okay... we should be okay from this point on, unless we run into something like giant rats."
"There's a whole bunch of them right behind me, isn't there."
The swarm of rats attacked en masse. Each one was the size of a large dog, and there were about a dozen of them. As they closed in, Amy felt her primal instincts take over.
The world seemed to fade into a reddish blur in her mind.... when the world faded back in, she found herself staring at a huge pile of dead rat carcasses.
"Wow," Bender said admiringly. "Mindless savagery. Now that's somethin' I can respect."
"What?" said Amy, coming to her senses. "Whoa. I kinda lost it there." She stared at the rat corpses lying around. "Did I do that?"
"You sure did," answered Zoidberg. "Question... are you going to eat those?"
After several hours of wandering, the group finally arrived at the secret entrance.
"Welp... this're the place." Scruffy announced.
Before they could actually, reach the door, however, there was a burst of flame. A man in a grey robe, with a long flowing white beard, appeared in front of it.
"Halt!" he declared. "None of you shall pass by me, unless you answer these riddles three!"
"Oh, crickets," muttered Scruffy. "Security been updated."
"Relax," said Fry, self-assured. "I'll handle this."
"Oh, Jah, we're doomed," groaned Hermes.
"All right, Mr.... Riddle Guy. Give me your best shot."
"Very well. Riddle the fi-"
"The letter E, nothing, and man."
"What? But that's impossi-how did you -" He sighed. "You may pass." He stepped aside, and the door swung open.
"That was amazing, Fry," Leela gushed. "How on Earth did you know?"
"It was easy," the delivery boy replied. "Every cartoon fan knows that these guys always ask the same riddles."
"Oh, lord," Leela groaned.
Inside, the Central bureaucracy was a maze of endless hallways of filing drawers, thrown together with no rhyme or reason. Here and there, bureaucrats drifted by on their slow-cycles, crawling at speeds so low that it almost looked like they were going backwards. Here and there, signs pointed out the direction to each section; unfortunately, each sign seemed to contradict the others.
"Well, this is pointless," declared Bender. "We ain't findin' squat in this place Oh, well, no point leavin' empty-handed," he said as he shoved a Grade 43 off his slow-cycle. "Hey, sexy mama," he said, stroking the vehicle. "What say you n' me find a nice quiet place and get acquainted?"
"Never fear," the Professor said, reaching into his lab coat. "For no good reason, I brought along my latest invention, the 'Where Is' machine."
"That sounds ideal," said Leela. "How does it work?"
"Using the powers of probability and quantum mechanics, plus a generous helping of unicorn blood, this device can locate anything anywhere in the universe. Simply describe the object you want to locate, and the 'Where Is' machine will pinpoint it with a 3-foot margin of error." He held it out to Amy. "Just speak into this receiver here."
"Okay," Amy replied, leaning in. "Uh... one Application for Recognition as an Intelligent Life Form, signed by Amelia Wong."
"WORKING" the device responded. After a minute or so, the machine said "OBJECT FOUND." Its display showed a blinking green light... on a map of the entire universe.
"We, ah, might want to zoom in more," suggested Kif.
"Oh, yes, of course," answered the Professor. "Increase magnification to 1 billion."
This time, the machine only displayed the entire Milky Way Galaxy.
"This may take a while," remarked the Professor.
After some time, they finally narrowed it down to a corridor in the northwest wing of the complex. The course plotted out would take almost 16 hours to traverse.
"Well, we'd better get moving," Leela said. "We didn't really bring any provisions."
"In the event of imminent starvation, I am capable of converting human urine into a refreshing fruit-flavored beverage," reported 1X.
"We'll, ah, keep it in mind."
The next twelve hours passed pretty uneventfully. Eventually, the group reached the northwest wing. Unfortunately, the door was locked.
Hermes eyed the lock, and sighed. "Only Grade-23s and up can open this lock."
"From the outside, maybe," Leela commented. "There's an air shaft up there that probably has an opening on the other side. If someone could get through that, they could let us in."
"Ain't happenin', beeflump," scoffed Bender. "That vent's a hundred feet up. Ain't no way any of us could get up there."
"Er, um... ahem... er..."
"Ya got somethin' to say, lizard-boy? I need to know so I c'n ignore it."
"Well, ehm, my people are capable of scaling any surface... I, ah, could go up there..."
"Oh, Kiffy, you're so versatile!" gushed Amy, squeezing the alien so hard that his head inflated.
"Er, hem, eh.... gosh," he said. "Well, uh, here I go." He pulled off his boots and gloves and shimmied up the wall.
"You can do it!" cheered his cat-amour. Kif's camouflage "blushing" once again kicked in before he resumed his wall-crawl and wriggled in through the vent.
"Hmmph," scoffed Katrina. "I could've done that."
After a few moments, the door slid open.
"Looks like he did it!" Fry shouted.
That's when a hail of razor-sharp paperclips flew through the door, thunking into the opposite wall. Leela examined the projectiles. "Shuriklips. The calling card of the Order of Section C Paragraph A!"
With a howl, a small army of ninjas somersaulted out, surrounding the gang.
The leader (so designated by the stripes on his tie) faced Leela. "This far you can go. No further."
"Really," she replied. Because I HI-YAH!!" The leader was caught off-guard as Leela somersaulted at him, grabbing his neck with her legs and flipping him. The others focused their attention on her, which turned out to be a very bad idea. Leela was easily able to best every one of them.
"That was the sorriest excuse for ninja-ing I have ever seen," Leela said scornfully.
"Uh... we're not really ninjas," said the leader. "We're just looking for the Federal Department of Ninjitsu and Shadow-Death to get our ninja license."
"Then... why did you attack us?" asked Hermes.
"We thought that was part of the exam," another of the "ninjas" answered.
"Er... is it safe yet?" asked Kif, peering around the corner of the exit.
"Here we are," Hermes announced, "the master pile."
"Well," came a voice, "I was wondering when all of you would show up." A chair rotated, revealing Morgan stroking a white angora cat. "I believe you're looking for this?" she asked, holding a tube.
"Hey!" yelled Amy. "You can't hold my life hostage like that!"
"I'm a bureaucrat," said Morgan. "I can do whatever I want, to the extent my rank allows me. Now, take one step closer, and I'll press the tube's 'mangle' button."
"We appear to be at an impasse," Bender intoned. "Welp, we tried. Let's go get drunk."
"No way!" Fry declared. "We came all this way, and I'm not giving up! I've given up on ever being smart, or successful, or smart, but I'm not giving up on this!" With that, he grabbed Kif by the arm and swung him at Morgan. The momentum, combined with Kif's body's natural elasticity, easily allowed the lieutenant to clear the distance. Morgan, her structured bureaucrat mind unable to process such a bizarre tactic, was frozen with indecision.
"Kif, get the tube!" shouted Amy.
"Uh, ah, yes, okay," he said, snatching it just as he snapped back.
Morgan snapped out of her fugue. "That's it! There's no way you're leaving alive!" She slammed her fist down on the lockdown button. "There! The forms I need to fill out to put this installation on full lockdown are on their way to the printer queue even as we speak! In about 72 hours or so, no one will be able to get in or out of here!"
"Yeah," said Bender as the group began to walk out. "You get right on that."
"An' with da fift' stamp... you're officially recognized as a member of a sentient species!" declared Hermes.
"Yay!" cheered Amy. "I can move back into my apartment!"
"Aww... I was kinda getting used to having you around," said Fry. "Y'know, you don't have to le-"
"Hey," interrupted Leela, "what say we all help Amy move back to her own apartment?"
"You guys... you've all been wonderful. Thanks, all of you, for helping me get my life back." She hugged each one in succession.
"At last," Zoidberg said, "Zoidberg is getting in on some group hug action!"
"Actually... I don't remember you doing anything. Sorry," she said, passing by him.
"Awww," the crustacean moaned.
"Just kidding," she said, tackling him.
"Hooray! I'm recognized! ...wait, why with the sniffing me?"
"What? I'm not sniffing you... I mean, yeah, you smell delicious, and I haven't eaten in a while... and..." She licked her lips.
"Enough with the recognition, I'm outta here!" Zoidberg said, inking the feline and scuttling away, whooping.
Well, that's Chapter 5! Sorry it took me over a year to do it. I kinda lost all interest in finishing the story a while back, but I decided you deserved some closure. I may do one more chapter, titled "Cat Scratch Fever", but don't expect it for a while.