Delicious Surprise, Part 17
Disclaimers in Part One!
In an unusual twist, the flashback in this chapter continues on to the next one.
Lilah watched her mother for a moment. It didn't seem possible that her mother was a mighty crusader. Especially considering that her current position involved hyperventilating against a railing.
She was not frightened by Leela's gasping, having lived through more than one of her mother's panic attacks before. Instead, she gently walked over and pressed a hand to her shoulder, waiting for her breathing to steady.
When it did, Lilah started talking. "Mom, I never knew you were so brave."
Leela smiled wanly. "That's because I'm not." She looked over the brilliant, lovely lights that made New New York seem like a strange, magical hinterland.
"You saved dad's life, you liberated the mutants-"
"I didn't liberate anyone, Lilah." The words rang out harshly. "All I did was fail."
"Please, just tell me the rest of it."
Her expression showed a sense of pathetic desperation. "I can't."
"You brought me this far. You have to tell me."
Leela turned to face her daughter. Lilah wore all the defiance, the brashness, that she herself had lost years ago. When had she allowed herself to become so weak? Why?
Because she couldn't help it. Because the burden was too heavy.
She straightened, and fixed her daughter with an uncompromising gaze. "All right."
Two months after being "disposed of" by Chaz, Leela looked over her mutant corps with a sense of pride. She had begun training them as soon as her mother would allow her out of the hospital, and even with the crude weaponry she had salvaged from found parts, they were light on their feet and picked up the techniques well.
She placed her hand over her stomach as a touch of nausea slithered through her. For some reason, she had been terribly queasy for weeks; a nausea she had occasionally surrendered to but never allowed to impede her work.
She glanced over her shoulder, watching her father marching the group backward and forward. It was only as a favor to her, as his daughter had a mission planned. One so dangerous that she didn't tell her parents exactly where she was going.
To Leela's surprise, as she climbed from one level to another, there seemed to be no more DOOP guards patrolling the surface. She carried a message, carefully scrawled in Fry's distinctive handwriting, that requested that she meet him by the grating on East 76th street, and also contained a series of code words for her to memorize. If it was a trap....she clutched the knife she had fashioned out of scrap steel. It would be worth dying, to see Fry one last time.
Her recklessness was rewarded two minutes later when she looked up at the grating and saw Fry's head outlined against a patch of sky. He quickly knelt and lifted out the grating.
"Leela!" She reached up, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him. When they separated, he wrinkled his nose. "Eew...you taste like sewer water."
She smiled; somehow, she had forgotten how easily he could make her smile. "How are things?"
"Great! The Professor's almost done with the lollipop, and Amy thinks she's figured out the thing with the Pringle."
Leela decoded the words in her mind, and nodded her satisfaction. "Who's she practicing on?"
Leela scrutinized her husband. Fry saw her skeptical expression.
"How did you convince him to do that?"
"Easy, I...uh...gave him kitchen privileges at home."
"I promise, I'll watch him." He passed her a small pile of papers. "The Professor said to take these. Leel, I love you."
"I love you, Fry. I'll see you soon!" she promised, squeezing his hand before climbing back down to her subterranean home.
Hours later, Leela sat by a candle, reading what the Professor had sent. It was as Fry had said; Amy was working with Mom's corporation, trying to figure out how to override the Patriotism chip in each robot's head, allowing them to think with their own processors. While Farnsworth worked on weapon technology, Fry was on the streets, recruiting humans for the cause. This sent a chill of fear up her spine, but apparently he was very good at it, and even so, the DOOP beat officers took him for a crackpot.
It brought a tear to her eye: the people of New New York still believed in her. Then something else brought a tear to her eye, and she ran outside to vomit in the sewage river.
Her mother's gentle touch stroked her shoulders. "I was just like that when I was having you, sweetie."
"Having?" Leela's insides quit their trembling, as if soothed by her mother's words. "Mom, I'm not-" The words were cut off as she gagged again.
"Oh, honey, I'm so happy! My first grandchild!"
"Mom! I can't be pregnant! Not now, not when everyone's lives are riding on my performance." She paused. "Wait a minute; I thought pregnant people just have morning sickness. Wait, that proves it! If I'm sick all the time, I'm just sick and not pregnant, right?"
"No, it's more like afternoon, morning and night sickness."
"But it's mostly in the morning, right?"
Munda listened to her daughter, her shoulders slowly slumping. "No, Dollushki. You must not be pregnant. You're just getting used to eating our food and drinking our water all the time."
Leela squared her shoulders. "See? Now, let's get ready to kick some butt!"
Leela's eye closed, and she seemed to be fighting something with all of her strength.
"Meanwhile," Fry said, pushing through the door, "I was out on the streets of New New York, trying to further our cause." He wrapped his arm around Leela, who began stroking the swollen knuckles on his left hand.
A gray-haired DOOP officer stared down the young redhead, who stood firm on a Grandma Janeane-Brand Insta-Grandstand. "There's that nut again!" he muttered.
"Want me to wack him a few times?"
"No...I think he's funny," he snapped at his robot partner.
"Citizens of New New York!" the redhead shouted. "Do you have faith in the innocence of Leela?"
More than a few people stopped to listen, and by the time he pulled out the "Free Leela" tee-shirts, he had walked away with a few converts. Fry smiled benignly at the officers; there were technically no laws against what he was doing, unless you counted the Anti-Mime Ordinance of 2056.
"Officers," Fry said congenially, pressing a button and watching his platform fold up until it was pocket-sized.
"Sir," they said, together, just as benignly.
Fry smirked to himself as soon as they were out of sight. Little did they know that the resistance army had built up to around a thousand humans. Satisfied, he headed back to the Planet Express Building.
He was greeted by what was becoming the usual noise; the sound of a welder's torch and glass piping clinking together. He paused for a can of Slurm before heading into the loading bay, to watch Amy's work on Bender.
When he arrived, Amy seemed so unusually focused that he was taken aback. She worked with two metal forks inserted through an eye-hole. Something within Bender's head sizzled, and she mumbled to herself, "Steady, steady..." Then the instruments emerged, and between them she clutched a tiny, red white and blue striped chip.
"Eureka!" she squealed, then shook her head. "I mean, yay! I did it!" She dropped the chip on a tray and set it aside for later study, and began to re-assemble Bender's head.
"So that's a Patriot Chip. I thought it would look like Zapp's head or something."
"Eh, it will if they give him another year in office," she shrugged.
"So when you put Bender back together, he's still going to be the same guy as always, right?"
"Oh my, yes," the Professor announced as he strolled in from his office, "unless the chip is the key to most of his homicidal rage. In which case he'll be a new robot entirely."
Picking up the chip, he appraised it with a tip of his glasses. "I should be able to decode this within a number of hours; after all, I helped design the first generation of this exact chip! Once we figure out where the signal is beaming from, we should be able to reverse the coding in robots planet-wide! And if that doesn't work, we'll decapitate them all with the DeathRay 3000!" He let loose a beam of orange energy on a row of plants, which immediately withered, then turned to ash...and vaporized.
"Nifty!" Fry said.
"Damn, Hubert," Mom remarked, sashaying through the door. "That's a fine piece of machinery."
"Which piece?" the Professor asked in a suggestive tone, raising a brow and grinning foolishly.
"Gah!" Fry and Amy cried, as Mom dragged him back to his laboratory.
Amy distracted herself by quickly mating the last pieces of Bender. "Figures I'd get him operational a few seconds after the dirt's over," she muttered, reactivating the robot. He opened his visor and rubbed his eyes.
"Hey, man. How do you feel?" Fry asked.
"Pretty good...sort of hungry...surprisingly independent of opinion....but not angry...NOT ANGRY?" He turned to Amy. "What did ya do to me?"
"Hey, you sound plenty angry to me!"
"Yeah, but I don't wanna crush ya! I don't wanna kill ya. I've - I've lost my will to kill all humans!" He sniffled. "My life is worthless!"
"Aww," Fry comforted him.[dw] "You wanna go stomp daisies?"
Bender considered this. "No!" he wailed. A knock sounded at the door and everyone froze.
"We expecting company?" Amy whispered.
She unsheathed a blaster from a holster strapped to her ankle, one that Fry had given her from Leela's stash for protection. "I know they won't be expecting this." She cautiously tiptoed to the door, and threw it open with a loud, "Hiiyaa!"
But there wasn't anything in her gunsight. Confused, she looked around, and finally, up.
He jumped from the underside of the lintel and into her arms. She kicked the door closed. "What are you doing here! I thought we were broken up!"
"We were...er - uh - we are." His pretense wavered. "Oh, Amy, I don't want to be broken up with you!"
"I didn't want to be broken up, either!" They melted into an embrace, which caused Fry to tear up.
"You got a buck for the coffee machine?" snorted Bender. "I wanna swallow something so I can puke it up in disgust."
"You've still got it."
Over a round of coffee, Kif showed them the order that Zapp had signed. "We have a window of another month or so before it goes into full effect. I wasted two long months trying to find this place!"
"The number's listed," Amy protested.
"Yes, and I've been leaving messages with Bender."
The entire group shot the robot a foul look.
"I told ya! Check yer messages."
"During my long journey, I took the liberty of drawing up battle plans on greasy napkins from restaurants across the city!" He lay each napkin carefully out on the table, at which point Amy gasped.
"Kiffy, there's a dirty old bandage on your arm!"
"This? Oh, it's nothing but a scratch..." He untied the bandage, revealing a bullet-sized hole.
"Eeew!" Fry looked away.
"Does it hurt?" worried Amy.
"Oh no...it just throbs...sharply...now and again."
"Stand back!" Zoidberg emerged from the bathroom with a shout. "I'm a doctor."
"We know that!" Amy cried, placing a protective arm around Kif.
"Pah! I have years of experience working on Kif's people! I can rip off a thingie and replace it with a whasamachallit in five minutes tops! Now, give me your hand!"
"It's his arm!"
"I need his hand!"
Kif sighed, holding out his gloved hand. To the horror of everyone but himself and Zoidberg, the latter quickly chopped off Kif's gloved finger. While Amy held her hands over her mouth, Kif squeezed the gelatinous flesh from the glove into the hole in his arm. The living tissue seamlessly merged, and a new finger quickly sprouted. He slipped the white sheath over the finger and admired Zoidberg's work.
"You're an excellent surgeon, Doctor Zoidberg!"
"Meh!" He wiped the cloth along his claw. "I'm just glad he didn't puncture one of your bladders. You would be dead, my friend. DEAD!"
"Since when do you know so much about Kif's people, Dr. Z?" wondered Amy.
"I worked on his planet during my college internship. Clams you can still cook in my humid underthings!"
"Uh - that's good," Fry muttered bemusedly, then turned. "Kif, we've got to get these plans down to Leela!"
"Leela! How could I have fogotten! Zapp had Leela thrown into the sewers!"
"I know! Well, actually I guessed. Anyway, she's got a group of mutants willing to help us."
"Do they have superpowers?" Bender asked.
"You're doomed, fleshpot," he replied, lighting a cigar.
A few hours later, Farnsworth had the chip decoded, and eventually figured out the single baseline frequency keeping them in operation. Once he surfaced from Mom's perfumed embrace, he rounded up the gang and they all slipped into the sewers.
Long into the night, Kif and Leela discussed strategy with Professor Farnsworth. Past midnight, both groups finally emerged.
"This is the final plan," Leela said, confidently. "And no one but Fry, Amy, Zoidberg, the Professor, Kif, my scoochywoochy..." She scratched Nibbler under the chin.
"...and I know this." She spread out a map. "At dawn tomorrow, the Professor and Mom will head to her corporate headquarters and throw the switch, reversing the frequency in the chips. The robots will make such a disruption that they'll draw the attention of the DOOP guards patrolling the area, giving Fry time to round up the human recruits. When they attack the distracted troops, I'll lead the mutant charge. With any luck, we'll get control of the city in four hours, tops."
"Isn't that a little overconfident?" Amy wondered.
"Not for Leela," said Fry staunchly.
"And we have a contingency plan, in case everything fails." Kif smiled proudly. "I have contact with the Omnicronians, and they're willing to lend us a hand."
"You mean, they've forgiven me for eating their young?"
"Well, the King and Queen have reproduced without Fry's 'lower horn', so they're all like 'why not'?" Amy said.
"And, if all else fails," the Professor said, pointing to a location on Leela's map, "Fry, Bender and I will make our way to the DOOP headquarters in the center of town. In the back room, the transformer which powers their hovercars is kept. If we flip it, all of their energy will be lost, and their air unit immobilized."
Fry smirked, rubbing his hands together. "They're so going to regret switching to solar power!"
Leela wrapped her arms around his neck. "I want to rest up for the battle...but it's getting pretty late...wanna stay with me until dawn?"
"It might be the last time."
"I know. That's why I want to."
Leela's home was still when she and Fry returned to her bed. They thought of little and spoke of less, except of their love. They seemed to sleep more soundly together than apart.
So soundly that dawn passed, and they remained asleep.
Mom sipped her coffee, her other gloved hand on the switch. She was ready to do something she and Hubert could never do separately. Together, they could perform this deed; it was strange but true.
"If we die here..." he began.
"I'm not planning to die!" she retorted. "The rich never die, Hubert. That's something you still don't know." Her gaze never left the windows.
As sunlight streaked the horizon, their arms moved in unison, yanking the switch down.