Futurama created by Matt Groening. Developed by Matt Groening and David X. Cohen. Owned by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Used without permission.
Fantastic Four concepts and situations created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Human Torch concept originated by Carl Burgos. Owned by Marvel Enterprises, Inc. Used without permission.
Some scenes owed to the work of Ken Keeler, Kristin Gore, and Ron Weiner.
Author's note: this is inspired by an early outline by Stan Lee when he was putting the characters and concept of the Fantastic Four together. Some elements were different than what was actually printed. Those differences reminded me of the Planet Express crew in some ways, so here we are.
The rain came down hard that Saturday night in the year 3005. At the Planet Express delivery company, located near the East River in New New York, Turanga Leela, captain and pilot of the delivery ship, was waiting at the door patiently. In the street in front of her, a manhole cover popped open and was moved aside. Two cloaked figures emerged and walked to her. Leela struggled with excitement when she saw them. They reached her side of the street in what felt for her like an eternity. She quickly embraced them.
"Mom! Dad!" she cried, "it's great to see you!"
"It's good to see you too, sweetie," said Munda as one of her tentacles gently stroked her daughter's back.
"Same here," said Morris, patting the other side of Leela's back with an arm with the skin flakes falling off, "but isn't this risky? If the cops see us mutants on the surface…"
"It's quiet this time of the week," interrupted Leela, not wanting to be reminded, "and you guys haven't gotten a close look at Planet Express. We really should bond more!"
Leela quickly rushed her parents in doors and took their robes, revealing Munda's purple hair and tail as well as the single eye that the three of them shared.
"You really should be mad at us, Leela," explained Morris with his sideways mouth, "after all, we left you at the Orphanarium so you would have a better life, since you're not as mutated as we are."
"I…I guess I am a little," said Leela, "but I'd rather focus on you two being in my life now. I missed you for most of my life! Just let me show you around the place."
The tour was brief, since Munda and Morris knew more about the place than Leela realized, since they had secretly watched over her during her life. Soon, they reached the laboratory of the company's owner, scientist Professor Farnsworth. Leela was surprised to find the rest of the staff there, watching the Professor work on a familiar device.
"Ah, Leela," said the Professor, noticing them come in, "who are your familiar looking friends?"
"Professor, these are my parents! You've seen them before!"
"Whatever. Now, will you join us in watching a story on the What-If machine?"
"'What-If machine'? What's that?" asked Morris.
"It shows us what our lives would be like if something happened differently," explained Leela, "I just hope no one asks for something stupid…"
"What if we got super powers on our first mission?"
That sudden question came from Philip Fry, a relative of the Professor from the 20th century and Leela's new beau. She frowned at his impulsiveness and the quality of his question.
"Look," said Leela to her parents, "we don't have to watch this. We can go to the lounge and…"
"Oh, I want to see this," said Munda, "it should be exciting!"
"Why not?" said Morris, trying to get a good look at the machine's screen, "I just hope we have booze while we watch."
Leela sighed, but figured that she would spending time with them if she watched this with them.
It was the first Monday morning of the year 3000. The robot Bender had been disassembled and the intern that the Professor called Amy was about to clean him.
"Now, does it hurt when I do this?" Amy asked Bender's disembodied but functioning head as she started sweeping his torso with her dust catcher.
She went a little too far and hit the nearby Leela's arm.
"A lot," said Bender, implying to Leela.
"Well," said Fry, entering the room, "the doctor says I'm as healthy as a..woah! Leela, you okay?"
"I'm rubbing a sore arm, Fry," explained Leela, who still was not used to Fry's thickness.
"I'm sorry," said the girl, "you're the pilot, aren't you?"
"Up until now," said Leela, rubbing her now sore arm.
"I'll cover for the damages," the girl said, "my family's rich!"
"Your family? Don't tell me your related to the Wongs on Mars?"
"I'm their daughter," the girl explained, "my allowance is a thousand a week."
"Well," said Leela, groaning at her luck, "it'll heal, but we were supposed to make our first delivery today."
"Oh, no problem!" said the Professor, "I'll fly the ship! I'll also dock your pay, Leela!"
"But I thought you couldn't fly…!"
"Get the package and I'll clean Bender," commanded the Professor to Fry, "we're in a hurry now!"
The take off was okay, the Professor flew the ship at a slower pace than Leela had on their first trip into space. This made Fry doubt his relative's driving skills. He wished Leela was there. He was starting to like her, partly because of their similar situation as orphans.
"So," asked Amy, "used to the future yet?"
"Not really," said Fry, "it's great, but it's so…different."
"You mean like the blue sky and the green stuff on the ground?"
Fry looked at her oddly.
"Oh, sorry. I'm too used to talking to aliens," she admitted, "I sort of relate to them, although I'm only from 'next door'. So, where's Leela from?"
"She says she doesn't know," explained Fry, "she was left here as a baby."
"Bummer," said Amy, "but the universe is pretty close knit. She's gotta have relatives somewhere."
"I hope so," said Fry sadly, "so far, I'm actually the lucky one out of the two of us. Hey, the cosmic belt thing looks beautiful!"
"It's the Van Allen belt, dummy!" explained Bender, "we gotta pass it ta get at th' moon, although we could've gone straight through it if our pilot wasn't going the speed of a Snail Person!"
"We're almost at the belt," said the Professor, as if he didn't hear the complaint. Soon, they heard sounds like hard rain hitting a roof.
"It's the cosmic rays!" shouted Bender, "I warned ya about them! I warned ya!"
"No, you didn't!" said the Professor, "and there's nothing to worry about…except that the warranty on our shield ran out last week and I haven't replaced it yet!"
The others screamed.
Fry didn't remember the crash, but his head ached as he recovered. He looked around and noticed first the damage to the ship and then that his crewmates were missing.
He hurried outside, looking in every direction.
"Bender! Professor! Amy!"
"Over here, Meatcake!" said a familiar drunken voice.
Fry turned and saw Bender head first on green grass.
"Bender! Get up! We have to find the others!"
"I can't get up! I've had trouble moving since we hit th' belt!"
The reminded Fry of how hot he had been feeling. He looked around for the others.
"Fry, get off me!" said a familiar elderly voice.
Fry looked down and saw that he was standing on the Professor. Something felt wrong; he felt…soft. He stepped off his relative and noticed that his impressions were still in his back.
"Professor, can you get up?"
"I was enjoying myself down there, but all right!"
The foot impressions in his back disappeared as he got up, stretching and flexing his body in a way that even Fry was certain wasn't humanly possible!
"Oh, my!" declared Farnsworth as he looked at himself, "I knew I should have had more calcium in my diet!"
"What about Amy?" Fry wondered aloud. He looked around for her and then saw her pink sweat suit on the ground.
"It's worst than I thought!" declared Fry, "she's become a nudist!" He then smiled, figuring that wasn't as bad as it sounded.
"Oh, please," said a familiar female voice, "I'm not that immodest…usually."
"Amy? Where are you?" Her voice was near but she was nowhere in sight.
"Guh! Down here!" she declared as her suit got up, apparently by itself!
"Amy! You're invisible!"
"I am?" she asked as the end of her sleeve moved to her collar, "I can still see myself!"
She went to a nearby lake and bent down over it.
She cursed in Chinese before declaring "My beautiful body! My night life is over!"
She then turned to Fry.
"Um, Fry don't you know you're on fire?"
Fry looked at himself. He had felt warmer since he imagined Amy naked. Now, it looked like, for once, he was thinking too hard.
He was also on fire.
Startled and frightened, he jumped into the air…and went further than he expected. He looked down and noticed, in this short distraction from his fear, that he had stopped and was hovering in the sky.
I can fly! He thought, and flew around for five minutes…and his flame went out and he fell.
"I got you," declared the Professor as he stretched over and widened and flattened his body. Fry fell on him safely.
"Ow, you're still hot!" the Professor painfully declared.
"Oh, sorry," said Fry, noticing that he stopped feeling hot when he was on fire. He saw Bender, slowly making his way to them.
"Okay, folks," she said, "lemmie try something'!"
Bender then reached into the ground and pulled up the spot they were on, which much of the earth to spare!
"I guess those rays effected my RNA," he declared, "too bad it's made me slower. Wait a minute, 'slower'? My nightlife's ruined too!"
"Same here!" said Fry, "I 'fry up' when I get excited!"
"At least it's only for five minutes," said Amy, still trying to see herself in the lake.
"But that's longer than what I need for…er, yeah, sorry Amy."
Just then, a hover scooter arrived with Leela, Dr. Zoidberg, and Hermes, the Jamaican accountant.
"Fry, Bender! What happened?" asked Leela.
"Leela? What are you guys doing in this wilderness?" asked Fry.
"What wilderness? This is Central Park, mon!" declared Hermes.
Fry looked around. Dozens of New New Yorkers were staring at them.
He thought this place seemed familiar.
A month and a couple of weeks later, the Future Foursome ship, formally the Planet Express ship, landed at the Foursome Express building.
"We did it!" declared Fry, "we saved the entire animal population of Vergon 6!"
"An' Leela got a new pet," said Bender, "I told ya we didn't need help from that Captain Brannigan guy."
"I guess not," said Leela flatly as she stroked the unknown species of animal that she named "Nibbler" with one hand and controlled the ship with the other.
Once they landed, Leela headed to the shower, but she found that it was already being used by, judging from the familiar outline on the unseen user, Amy. Leela sighed and headed to the meeting table. The others were already there, with Hermes standing with a pointer to a chart, Zoidberg sitting there with a growling stomach, and the Professor in his uniform.
Leela frowned; she never liked the uniforms. They were jumpsuits colored in white and blue with a "FF" logo on the left breast. She wouldn't have minded them if they weren't so commercial. It was probably the thing she missed the least of just being a "staff member".
She sat down with Fry and Bender soon joining her.
"People," said Hermes, "we are pleased to announce that the licensing deals and patient royalties of the Future Foursome are doing much better than expected. Now, we need to work harder in order to keep up with out fifteen minutes of fame!"
"When do we get raises?" asked Bender.
"You don't," explained the Professor, "it's all for our new expenses of instruments for discovering new sides of the universe and/or protecting it! Be glad you still have your delivery jobs at all!"
"Then, why are you still getting a profit from our deliveries?" asked Fry.
"So I can build something to destroy the universe someday! Doy!"
Suddenly, they all turned to the sound of quick footsteps and splashing water. Amy had finally arrived with a towel tightly wrung around her invisible body. She took a seat.
"Sorry I'm late, guys," she said, "Professor, any chance of turning me back to normal?"
"Why don't you use the mask and gloves I gave you?"
"It's not the same," said Amy, "the only one who can see my body now is me and…"
"Look," interrupted Farnsworth, "I'm already busy trying to cure Bender's slowness! Now, do you have any other business?"
"No," said most of the staff.
The only one silent was Leela as she got up holding Nibbler, reminding herself to take him to a vet to officially adopt him. She headed toward her locker and heard familiar footsteps behind her. She groaned.
"Hey, Leela," said Fry, "plans for tonight?"
"Fry, it's late. And you've been asking me out almost every night."
"I just don't know why you don't want to try…"
"I told you before, I don't date immature guys. Well, ones that I already know are immature anyway. Besides, don't you have groupies now?"
"Well, they follow me around, if that's what you mean…"
Leela groaned and took a few things from her locker.
"Sorry, but I'd better get home," she said, perhaps more stern than she had wanted to. She headed out the building and walked to her apartment.
Ever since the crew became a kind of "super-team", they had done all the action so far. They kept Leela as the pilot, but that was all she did now. She wanted acceptance and a broader use for her skills. So far, no luck. She felt more and more like a "sidekick" everyday.
Just then, she noticed a portly figure rush past her wearing what she could swear was a safari outfit. Suddenly Nibbler jumped from her arms and followed the stranger.
"Nibbler, come back!"
The stranger opened the manhole cover in front of the Future Foursome building and jumped in with Nibbler following him. Leela reached there and paused for a moment. There were always rumors of mutantsliving in the sewers, but she never believed them. Also, she didn't want to lose her new pet; it would be like losing another family to her. She took a breath and started to climb in.
"Pretty dull, so far," said Fry disapprovingly.
"Yeah," agreed bender, "we haven't done much on screen yet!"
"Oh," said Munda, "I'm just glad seeing my little girl starring in this thing!"
"Hey, Bender," said Morris, "you got more Olde Fortran anywhere?"
"Check the 'fridge," Bender suggested.
Leela silently wondered why the story was focusing on her right now.
To be continued…