Delicious Surprise, Part 16
See part one for disclaimers!
This is a bit long, with some adult material involved. Nothing overly explicit, of course.
Rating changes a bit for some adult humor, Zapp Brannigan style. Nothing above the series' level. You have been warned.
Leela watched Zapp recover himself. "Maybe you should tell them why you decided to blame my people's genocide on me, hmm?"
Zapp groaned. "You know that wasn't me! I'm tired! I want to go home!"
Leela shook her head. "Not until the story's over."
Zapp made a face, but he settled down in his chair, smoothing back his hairline...and nearly rustling the toupee off his head. "You drive a hard bargain, my delicious cybersteel magnolia."
Leela shrugged. "You knew that fifteen years ago."
"And that's why I wanted to get with your jiggies!"
"How biological, Zapp."
"Just tell the story!" Fry protested, discomfited by the banter.
Zapp shrugged, leaning back in his chair very casually and beginning...
Leela tried to memorize every nuance of the White House while sitting in its drawing room. She had not been surprised by Zapp's request to see her before the trial, nor the outfit with which she had been presented, a see-through bikini. Somehow, she had bargained her captors down to a miniskirt and cropped-sleeve top, and, flanked by two DOOP officers, she sat sipping something with a fruity taste and a high alcohol content.
Her thoughts were pure misery, most of them circulating around Fry. She felt guilty for leaving him to fend for himself, and for abandoning her parents, even though it was by force not choice.
He's not helpless. He's been living in this century for six years, and he'll be fine.
She couldn't convince herself. Sweat began to bead upon her upper lip.
A blaster gun nudging her in the shoulder drew her attention away from her misery, and she was urged to stand as Zapp entered the room. His smile was plastic as usual, his vapidity giving off an almost noticeable sheen. Leela caught Kif's eye as he followed Zapp into the room; pity briefly showed through the dutiful mask he maintained around Zapp.
"You're dismissed," Zapp said, gesturing to the DOOP guards who hadn't left her side for hours.
"But chief..." the robot began.
"I have the situation well in hand," he leered. "Or I should in a moment."
Both guardsmen laughed and withdrew.
"You too, Kif."
Kif sputtered. "Sir, I don't think it's necessary that I be absent. Leela feels comfortable around me, so perhaps..."
"Don't you have a toilet to scrub?"
Kif winced. "I did. This morning."
"Well, I befouled it after lunch." Zapp rested a hand upon his belly. "Buggalo En Mexicano always does something unpleasant to my insides."
Kif sighed. "I know." He sent Leela another pitying look before leaving the room.
Once the door was securely closed behind him, Zapp leaned over his desk with a prurient smile. "So, you finally gave in to my seductive overtures. Was it the Spanish Fly I put in your gift basket? Or did you finally crush Fry to death and now come to me for some sweet, sweet solace?"
In dull disbelief, she uttered, "You had me arrested. You told the media that I killed a quarter of a million mutants!"
Zapp's expression turned blank. "Is this some kind of role-playing thing that I don't know about? 'Cause it sounds like you want me to be the girl..."
She snarled, leaping to her feet and reaching over the table. The second her hands made contact with Zapp's lapels, a piercing alarm went off. A door at the back of the room, disguised as a portrait of the reunion of President's heads, opened, and a flood of DOOP officers emerged, blasters pointed at Leela. As they spread themselves out, a cloaked figure emerged from their midst. Leela let out a quiet gasp when she realized that the figure was a familiar one.
His smile was thin. "Leela! We meet again."
"When did you join the DOOP?"
"Right after we broke up."
Leela winced inwardly at the vengeful note in his voice.
"You've come quite a way; from dumping me on an ice rink to making an attempt on the President's life."
Zapp waved his hand dismissively. "No need to worry, Chaz. Leela and I were simply having a little spirited discussion before..." He made a circle with his left forefinger and thumb, then allowed his middle finger to approach...
"No need to explain." Chaz snapped his fingers. "Crisis averted, gentlemen. At ease." Reholstering their blasters, the troops left the room. Chaz turned to follow them, saying, "Don't forget tonight's meeting, Zapp."
"Ah yes; I'll remember that." He disappeared, locking the door behind him.
"Since when does Chaz work for you?"
"He's become a close personal friend of mine in the past few months. In fact, it was his idea that I start dating President Barbarella."
"His idea? You two aren't really dating?"
"Oh no...I could never think of Jane that way. She - uh - swings from the other side of the blernsball. And won't let me watch."
"Then why pretend to have an affair with her?"
"Chaz said it would be a good idea for me to have a girlfriend. Earth loves the whole family image thingy." Another insinuating smile. "Are you jealous? I could fly her in for a night of dancing if you'll try out my new topless oil-wrestling room.
"There's got to be more to it than that."
He shook his head. "No, there isn't. Leela, my entire campaign was simply an attempt to get you back into my lovenasium. It worked, so why waste any more time when we could be sweaty?"
Leela gagged quietly behind her hand. "Uh - maybe after dinner...If you'll promise me something."
"Let me call Fry."
Zapp grimaced. "You drive a hard bargain, my sweet Leela. But if it will please you, I'll allow you to say goodbye."
It was Leela's turn to grimace.
"I agree to your terms."
Zapp stabbed his finger down on a button. "Kif! Have my best underwear pressed! And don't skimp on the steam!"
Kif's groan spoke for himself and Leela both.
The meal progressed as Leela expected: Zapp continuously tried to turn on the charm, his advisors glowered at her, the guard's gun never wavered from the small of her back.
While the dessert course was being served she managed to slip out of the room. Aware that she was probably being monitored at all times, she peered carefully around every corner on her way to the lady's room.
On her way back to the banquet hall, she noticed a light glowing from beneath an unmarked door. She pressed her hand to a button at its side, and it opened.
It appeared empty except for a mahogany desk. Then she looked up.
The alien almost lost his grip in surprise. "Leela!" He steadied himself, then in a whisper asked, "Were you followed?"
"I keep assuming that everyone's following me."
Kif crawled along the wall's molding, then peered up and down the hallway while clinging to the doorframe. He heaved a sigh of relief, then closed the door behind him.
"I personally disconnected all of the listening and monitoring devices in this room. Take a look at these," he said, pointing to the desktop.
Leela carefully bent over, reading the documents laid out there.
"Orders to have the sewers cleaned of 'all persons of genetic deficiency.'" She squinted. "Authorized by...Secretary of Planet Chaz!"
Kif groaned. "It's just as I feared. Chaz has taken over Zapp's presidency; he's making all of the decisions!"
Leela snorted. "Well, I'm not surprised! We both know that Zapp's not smart enough to look at anything before he signs it. But there's got to be a way to stop them from carrying out the order!"
Kif frowned. "I don't see how-" He brightened. "Zapp hasn't signed the document! If we keep him out of tonight's meeting, it won't be signed, and the order will expire!" He turned a brighter shade of green. "I'm afraid you may have to do something...extreme...to keep his attention."
"My parents might die if I don't." She looked at him intently. "You know how I feel, don't you? You pushed Amy away because you knew something was going on. You didn't want her to get hurt."
"Amy was the light of my life, and she'll always be a treasure to me. I had suspected all along that something serious was going on, but when you were arrested, I knew Chaz was behind it all." He sighed. "If only I had the courage to guess sooner..."
Leela patted his shoulder. "It's not your fault, Kif. Even Zapp seems to be innocent this time, though I'm sure that if he knew what the orders were for he'd sign them anyway."
"That's not necessarily true. He's passionate about you, Leela, though he doesn't actually love you. I'm sure that he would at least spare your parents. If that's any comfort."
Leela smiled. "Being with Fry would be a comfort."
Kif sighed. "We'd best leave before they realize something's amiss. Be very careful! Zapp has arranged for you to stay in his suite." His voice dropped to a whisper. "There are knock-out drops in the dresser drawer, just in case."
He watched her pause in the doorway. There was a single, visible shudder before she retreated up the stairs, to Zapp's room.
She brushed and re-brushed her teeth, desperately trying to make the clock run faster. Zapp had entered the bedroom a few hours before, and he lay on the bed, laughing away at cartoons and not at all concerned about her, though occasionally he called out to ask if she had 'fallen in'.
A grunt escaped her lips. She might as well get it over with.
As she stepped toward the door, her communicator began buzzing. A thrill chased through her; they had actually forgotten to confiscate it! She quickly pressed a button and felt a flood of relief as Fry's face appeared.
"Leela! Where are you? Hermes has been trying all afternoon to get you..."
"Fry, there's no time to explain; I'm at the White House, and Chaz is on Zapp's staff."
"Chaz? The twerp you dumped before we got together?"
"Yes, but that's not important. He's the one behind all of the mutant deaths in the sewer!"
Fry gasped. "Leela, get out of there! Now! While you can!"
"Don't worry about me, tell the-" Suddenly, alarms began ringing, red lights flashing. The bathroom door was kicked down, and two DOOP officers entered the room, rifles pointed at her forehead.
"What's going on?" Zapp wondered. "You're not the strippers I ordered!"
"Zapp, my old friend, you're late for our meeting." Chaz's syrupy voice reached her ears before he appeared...through a sliding door in the bathroom. "Get your robe on. There's important legislature for you to sign!"
Zapp frowned. "Do I have to get dressed?"
"Oh! Are we signing into law that bill abolishing virginity?"
Chaz's smile faded. "Uh, that's a rider on this one."
"Oh...kay..." He shrugged. "Keep the home fires burning, my delicious cyclops!"
The moment Zapp left the room, Chaz glared at Leela. "I'm getting very tired of your interference." He ripped the communicator from her wrist. "Which one of you allowed her to keep this?!"
The confused guards pointed to one another, each unwilling to shoulder the blame.
"Just to be sure, then..." Chaz drew a gun from his vest and fired twice. "There's something I never told you, Leela...I had DOOP training when I was in high school."
She snarled at him.
"What? Cat got your tongue? What would loosen it? Maybe me telling you that I heard everything you just told your husband?"
"You're a piece of scum!" she hissed.
"Scum?! You and that trash you call family are the scum!" he growled. "There was a time when mutants were just urban legends. Dirty things that were whispered about behind locked doors. But you and your heroism, your incredible good looks...you've furthered the cause of mutants worldwide without knowing it." His eyes flashed. "I work for an ordered, civilized government. I can't allow your people to poison what I've worked for!"
"So what do you suggest?"
He smirked. "A minute after Zapp signs the order into law, squads of our troops are going to descend into the sewer and kill every mutant they can find with their bare hands. Those that don't die will be poisoned when we fumigate in the morning. At dawn, we will release word that we have captured the culprit - in case you haven't guessed, that's you - and we will then put you on television, where we will execute you."
"And you think I'm just going to sit here and take that?"
"Oh, you have to. You see, Leela, we found you; what makes you think we can't find your husband?"
Leela laughed unsteadily. "Where's your honor, Chaz?"
"You know me, Leela. My honor is tied to this government's failure. Do you think this administration will be remembered unless we do something so spectacular, so legendary that the entire universe will cower at the name Brannigan?" He opened the door. "You have six hours until your execution. Use them wisely."
He locked the door securely behind him.
Fry stroked Nibbler's back, desperately trying to stay calm. The little creature seemed to understand his plight, and curled up against his knee, making odd purring noises.
Bender puffed on his cigar. "This human emotion of sadness still gets stuck in my craw. Whattya got to be so whiny about, Fry?"
"My wife's been captured!" he snapped. "Leela could be dead right now, and I didn't do anything to stop it!"
"Eh; why don't we just go to the pound and get you a new wife?"
Fry shook his head, ignoring Bender's words, understanding that they were part of his defense mechanism. "The only thing that's keeping me from going crazy is knowing that the Professor and Hermes are talking about what happened. If anyone can fix what's going on, it's them."
Suddenly, the door to the Professor's lab swung open, and Fry rose to his feet, abandoning Nibbler to the floor.
"We got nothin'!" Hermes announced unhappily. Fry let out a groan, a tear trickling from his right eye. "Hey, Fry mon, simmer down! No woman, no cry!"
"Bob Marley was wrong! No woman, lot of cry!" He steeled himself, knowing that Leela would want him to stay strong. "Are you sure we don't have any ideas?"
"No, but what do we care? Mutants have been plaguing humanity for centuries. I say good riddance!" the Professor announced tartly.
"But what's gonna stop them?" Amy asked. As she emerged from the kitchen, she continued, "If they kill all the mutants, they could start killing all of the aliens."
"Good!" Bender shouted.
"And then the Martians!"
"Can I have your locker?" Bender asked.
"And melting down the robots!"
"We've gotta stop those bastards!" Bender agreed. He jolted, and then piped, "I love DOOP! Damnit!"
"Kif didn't want you involved, Amy," Fry insisted.
"I'm not going to sit back and let him get killed, Fry. Just like you're not going to let Leela die."
"And what about you, Hermes? Do you want LaBarbara or Dwight to die?"
"That's four against six. Zoidberg?"
"What does the majority want?"
"To make sure that the mutants live."
"Zoidberg loves being part of the majority!"
"Are you in, Professor, or not?"
Farnsworth thought upon this for a moment.
"Remember, Professor, you'll probably be remembered better for doing something really nice instead of something mean," Amy suggested.
"Nice?! Maybe I'll invent a wowwi-pop gun!" snorted the Professor.
Bender cut in suddenly. "You can make a gun that cuts off three people's heads instead of just one!"
"Intriguing. Very well then, we'll save humanity."
The team cheered.
"Now, we need to think; we do we know that's as powerful as the DOOP, the most powerful entity in the whole known universe?" Fry's tone gradually fell, his own helplessness evident.
After a moment of thought, Farnsworth smiled. "Follow me."
With a shrug, the entire gang followed him out the door...along with Nibbler, who wore a suspicious expression that no one else had the time or care to notice.
The hours passed in a blurry haze for Leela. Lying in Zapp's bed, watching the progress of the moon, she tried to plot out a successful course of action. Maybe she could twist the neck of the guard outside her door, but weren't the walls lined with lasers that could easily take her out? If she did escape, what were the chances that she could get hold of Fry before they killed him?
Her parents were dead by three, according to the timetable Chaz had 'kindly' given to her. The only thing keeping her together was the notion that Fry would live on.
At six in the morning, the door opened and two guards yanked her to her feet. They marched her to an empty room and seated her behind a table. Zapp glowered beside the camera.
"Leela, how could you? How could you betray our love by committing genocide? And why didn't you ask me to come along with you? I could've helped you hold the gun!"
"I didn't do anything!"
"That's not what Chaz said."
Chaz stood behind the camera, smiling with an eerily detached politeness. "Just talk into the camera, Leela. Your statement is in front of you."
The red light beside the camera went on, and Leela began to read.
"People of Earth. This is my final statement. I, Turanga Leela-Fry, have. Have...did..." She cleared the table with a swift motion. "No! I can't do it! People of Earth, your government has betrayed you! I did not murder half of New New York's mutant population! Instead, our own elected officials, led by Secretary of Planet Chaz, are planning a campaign of ethnic cleansing, beginning with the planet's mutant population. You may think mutants are bad, but you've believed in one for more than three years. I, Leela, am a mutant!"
As the words left her mouth, she threw the table against the camera, sending two guards to their knees. Chaz was already screaming into a phone, making threats, demanding that Leela's message not go across the airwaves. But there had been a glitch in his flawless plan; someone, somewhere, had fallen asleep at the switch. The entire viewing planet, and any planet tuned to the country's frequencies, witnessed Leela's outburst.
It took six soldiers to restrain her; even then, she managed to render four unconscious before she was overwhelmed. The last thing she saw was Chaz, holding a needle and smiling menacingly.
"Dump her in here. The poisons will finish her off."
"Uh, there's a slight problem with that. The trucks were delayed, and, well...they haven't been finished off."
"You fool! Chaz'll have your job for this!" Leela felt herself being rolled over something hard and metal, before landing on cold tiles with a thud.
"To ensure Brannigan's compliance. That might require a lot of effort."
"The man's a sleazy pig. Give him a couple of willing interns, and he'll never get his head above his desk."
Leela waited until their footsteps had faded into the distance before rolling onto her stomach. She tried to get her bearings, but an unconquerable grogginess sent her slumping back to the tiles. Something warm and slippery caressed her cheek, waking her again.
"Mom! You're not dead."
Munda smiled. "A few of us are still alive. They've been killing people all night. The last of us are holed up in here."
Leela opened her eye and peered around. The ruined mattress and stains marring the white walls told her that this was some sort of mutant infirmary. "Where am I?"
"In our hospital, Miss," an aqua-colored mutant with many eyes and two rags draped over her mouth announced. "Welcome to New Hope."
"How many of us are left?"
"Roughly two hundred, not including fifty or so children too young to fight." She smiled. "They seem to have injected you with a Demerol-like substance. That explains your unconsciousness. We're using the drugs that you sent us to treat you."
"Two hundred? All of them able to fight?"
"Indeed." She drew back a moldy curtain from the window, revealing the dank but still-populated city. "We're ten feet under the Earth's surface," she explained. "And we know that you have the power to lead us all to victory. Are you willing?"
Leela smiled. "I've always loved a challenge."
"Damn it, Zapp!"
Earth's President winced beneath the invective, but remained stern. "Kif, yelling at an outranking official counts as insubordination. I could have you court-martialed!"
"Court-martialed?!" Kif spat. "You arranged for the murders of thousands of living beings! Innocent civilian casualties have occurred because you didn't read the fine print on those documents, and you have the nerve to charge ME with insubordination?!"
Zapp frowned. "But they had big words like 'insurrection' and 'bilateral'!"
"Oh, Good! Could you get me a mocha frappe while you-"
"Captain, you misunderstand me. I resign!"
"I'm afraid that's not possible, Kif." Chaz's voice slid through the air like vodka slipping down ice. "You know far too much now." He raised his blaster until the crosshairs rested squarely between Kif's eyes.
"No! You can't kill Kif! Who will clean my toilet? And make buggalobacon just the way I like it?"
"It's a necessity, Mister President. He's a threat to planetary security!"
"Hmm...Planetary security versus neatly pressed underwear..."
Kif forced his hand by leaping onto the wall. Chaz began to fire wildly, but Kif well remembered the adage that a moving target cannot be hit. His swift, slithery motions were untrackable, and though the alarms were called, his ability to camouflage himself aided his escape. The administration had also been foolish enough to leave him idle for months, allowing him time to pick apart the building's security flaws. In five minutes he stood outside the White House, invisible thanks to his camouflage technique. A Garbage Dumpster truck pulled up in front of the building. He knew from studying the schedules that all of Washington's recycling went through treatment plants in New New York.
Kif gritted his teeth. He pried the front of his uniform from his body, pulling out a copy of the order for mutant genocide. There were things, he supposed, a person did, not to be a patriot, but because they were simply right.
Taking a deep breath, he sprinted across the lawn, leaping into the dumpster and holding his breath as the truck pulled away. He ignored the pain throbbing in a small wound on his arm, concentrating on remembering the layout of New New York. From here on, every moment counted.
"Let me see if I understand you, dear. If I don't override the government's patriotism chip and allow every robot to join in the fight to free the mutants, we'll all be the victims of horrible genocide?"
"That's our theory." Fry watched, with some surprise, the cool, calm precision with which the Professor handled himself.
"I see." She rocked back and forth in her chair.
"And we both know that if everyone dies, there won't be anyone left to buy a thing from your corporation. In fact, they'll surely shut down this plant and jail you for helping to make the robots in the first place."
She raised an eyebrow. "It seems we're in the same hoverboat once again, Hubert."
"Yes, it would seem that way."
She scanned the hopeful faces in front of her. "The DOOP has been riding my fanny for the past year about shipping regulations. It's cut profits right in half, and I had to sell my forty-eighth penthouse just to pay taxes. Yes, I think they could stand to be knocked down a few pegs."
"Then you agree to help the rebellion?" Farnsworth wondered.
MOM smiled. "Anything for an old enemy."
"You guys knew MOM?" Dania exclaimed.
"She was the Professor's lover," Leela announced. Dania mimed[dw] disgust.
"Oh my yes!" came a voice from within Bender's trunk. "We spent many an hour exploring one another's crevices! I once lost a ring in-"
"Professor? Is that you?"
"Fry, you numbskull! Why haven't you been visiting? I get so lonely."
"I - uh..."
"Why don't we get back to the story?" Lilah asked.
"Why not?" Zapp smirked. "This is the best part..."
Leela became visibly nervous.
"Why is it?"
"One of my greatest military wins came at the hands of your mother. Isn't that right, Leela?"
"I - I -"
"It's not every day that a woman leads a combined robot, mutant AND human army right off a cliff!"
Leela covered her face and rushed out of the room, in the direction of the terrace. That was when Fry's fist collided with Zapp's jaw.
And Lilah slipped out of the room, following her mother.