Disclaimer: Matt Groening owns Futurama. All glory to Matt Groening.
At the New New York
Institute of Mental Health, where Zapp Brannigan had voluntarily
interned himself, Dr. Zoidberg was applying the latest methods in an
attempt to cure the captain of the personality warping he had endured
as a captive of the Cerulean Pirates.
From behind a large
glass pane, several medical experts in white smocks watched the
proceedings alongside Fry, Leela, Bender, and the inventor of the
Fossitron device, Philaster Foss. Zoidberg scuttled into the
darkened room, holding in his claws a metal box with holes punched
into the sides. “Put on your visors, everyone,” he
cautioned the spectators.
“God, I hope this
works,” said Leela as she carefully placed a mono-visor over
balding Foss shot her a confident grin. “Your lobster friend
looks like he knows what he’s doing,” he said, taking
Leela by the hand.
Zapp sat quietly and
sullenly in a chair, his hands and feet cuffed. Once everyone except
for him had donned protective eyewear, Zoidberg pried open the lid of
the box. A lumpy brown creature promptly hopped out and landed with
a wet squish on the table in front of Captain Brannigan.
gentlemen, behold the Hypnotoad,” said Zoidberg officiously.
Zapp stared blankly at
the amphibian. Its eyes began to shimmer, and it made an eerie
humming sound with its throat. To those who wore visors, the
spiraling colors in the toad’s slitted eyes made a pretty show.
To Zapp, they were an irresistible attraction.
he mumbled in spite of himself. “Can’t…look…away.”
Zoidberg opened his
mouth, although no one could tell due to the scarlet tendrils hanging
over it. “Violence is wrong,” he told Zapp. “Killing
is wrong. You have no desire to commit acts of violence.”
said Zapp deliriously.
“You are a man of
peace,” Zoidberg continued. “You are not like the space
pirates who did this to you.”
this to him,” muttered Foss under his breath.
When the session was
finished, Zoidberg replaced the Hypnotoad in its container and sealed
it inside. He removed the protective visor from his face, and
gestured for the spectators to do likewise. Turning his gaze to the
bewildered-looking Zapp, he asked, “How do you feel, Captain?”
Zapp blinked a few
times, then smiled with relief. “I feel…completely
rehabilitated,” he said calmly. “I’m filled with
regret for what I’ve done. I’m no longer a menace to
said Zoidberg, using his claw to clip off the cuffs from Zapp’s
hands and feet. “After one more week of daily Hypnotoad
therapy sessions, I expect that you’ll make a full recovery.”
of that,” said Zapp as he stood. “Now I can get busy
Leela tightened her
grip on Foss’ hand. “It worked!” she exulted.
“Zapp’s back to normal! Well, that’s both good and
Suddenly, as Zoidberg
was opening the door for Zapp to leave, the captain’s face
contorted into a mask of fury. “Hypnotize me, will
you?” he snarled. “Just for that, and the fact that I
don’t like your face, I’ll kill you!”
Fry, Leela, and Foss
gasped when they saw Brannigan wrap his fingers around the
crustacean’s neck. “Again with the strangling!”
exclaimed Zoidberg as the angry spaceman tried to squeeze the breath
out of him.
to do something!” cried Fry in horror.
perfectly normal to me,” Bender remarked.
With his little
remaining strength, Zoidberg rammed his claw into Zapp’s
crotch. The captain abruptly let go of his neck, and grimaced with
dismay. “Oh, God…oh, God…”
there,” said Zoidberg. “I only pinched the nerve.”
Foss and Bender greeted
him after he had once again restrained Zapp. “I’m
terribly sorry the Hypnotoad therapy didn’t work,” said
Foss. “But I didn’t have my hopes up to begin with. As
effective as the Fossitron is, removing the contamination Balalaika
introduced into his mind is like trying to excise a piece of his
“I kinda like him
the way he is,” said Bender.
“The poor man,”
said Zoidberg glumly. “I’m afraid only time will heal
The hallway was quiet
and empty where Fry and Leela walked along, except for a faint
shouting in the distance. Fry did his best to keep up a pleasant
smile, but a question burned in his heart and had to be asked.
said nervously, “how is it between you and Foss?”
The cyclops looked at
him with compassion. “I like him,” she stated, “but
I’m not sure what to do about him.”
Fry’s mouth fell
invention made him fall in love with me,” said Leela. “It’s
a phony kind of love, but it did prompt him to change his ways
and take our side against the pirates. And now I’m worried
that if I tell him I don’t really love him, he’ll go back
to his old life.”
Fry nodded. “Yeah,
that would be bad.”
tell Philaster what I said,” Leela urged him.
“My lips are
sealed,” said Fry. I should tell him, he thought. Then
he’ll break up with Leela, and I’ll have another chance
with her. Oh, who am I kidding? Only myself, since nobody can hear
The deranged shouting
grew louder as Leela and Fry neared the exit: “Worms everywhere
with the slithering and the mucus and the little holes in the ground,
“Who the hell is
that?” Leela wanted to know.
In a nearby janitorial
closet, a white-haired man in grubby clothes looked up at them.
“That’s Professor Horatio Frink,” he informed them,
“the inventor of the body switcher.”
invented the body switcher?” Fry marveled. “Cool.”
The old custodian gave
them a stern look. “Ya know that TV show where a regular
person gets to switch bodies with a movie star for a month?” he
related. “Would ya like to know why they ain’t allowed
to switch back before the month is out?”
said Leela with a curious nod.
it’s dangerous,” said the janitor. “The brain
needs time to recover from the shock of the switch. Professor Frink
learned that the hard way. He just switched and switched, and didn’t
think about the consequences.”
said Fry thoughtfully. “Uh, I mean, cool.”
“Can anything be
done for him?” asked Leela.
replied the old man. “His brain’s too far gone.”
Fry and Leela mused on
what the janitor had told them as they made their way to a transit
tube. “I guess if you could switch bodies as often as
you wanted,” said Fry, “people would be doing it all the
funny, if you think about it,” said Leela. “If you
switched bodies with me, you’d have no choice but to go
through one of my periods.”
okay,” said Fry. “I learned all about periods when my
head was attached to Amy’s shoulder.”
After a bit of
consideration, Leela stopped in her tracks. “Fry…”
she began to say.
The redhead put up his
hands defensively. “No way, Leela.”
The cyclops grinned
deviously. “I’ll make it worth your while,” she
offered. “I’ll spend the whole month dieting and
exercising. When you get your body back, it’ll be trim and
said Fry adamantly. “I don’t want Foss lusting after my
said Leela, “if he knows you’re really a guy. And
hopefully, by the time the month is over, he’ll lose interest
and find a different girlfriend.”
Find a different
“Uh, my answer is
still a tentative no,” said Fry.
apartment in Soho was a simple affair—one tiny bedroom, a
kitchen that was hardly more than a crawl space, and barely enough
storage space for his many gadgets. When Bender came to visit, he
found that his every movement was hampered by yet another table
stacked with scattered parts and mysterious devices.
this thing do?” asked the robot, picking up an object that
resembled a giant slide rule made from circuit boards.
touch that if I were you,” said Foss, who was trying to
dislodge an enormous ball of hair from the garbage disposal. “In
fact, I wouldn’t touch anything if I were you. If I
were anyone else, yes, but not if I were you. What are you
doing here, anyway?”
Bender attempted an
insincere smile. “I thought you could help me out,” he
said. “I asked Professor Farnsworth—you know, the old
dude in the jar—but he told me it was too dangerous.”
dangerous?” asked Foss.
Bender answered. “Eye lasers, flamethrowers, shoulder-mounted
semi-automatic rifles, that sort of thing.”
my line of work,” said Foss. “What you need is a
military robotics specialist. If you’re lucky, you’ll
find an unscrupulous one who doesn’t ask questions.”
Bender protested. “What kind of robot do you think I am?”
selfish and amoral one,” said Foss.
said Bender. “But this time, for once, I’m on the level.
All I want is a little extra firepower for purposes of self-defense,
and the occasional rabbit hunt.”
Foss leaned over the
bar, which creaked and snapped under his weight, and glared
distrustfully at the robot.
Bender finally admitted. “I’m in trouble with the Robot
Mafia. I’m living on borrowed money and borrowed time. Can
you help me? It’s a matter of life or death.”
“Not to me,”
said Foss coldly. “You’re just a robot.”
“Just a robot?”
said Bender, outraged. “Look at me! I’ve got arms,
legs, and a head, just like you. If you prick me, do I not leak?”
Foss sighed with
impatience. “I’ll tell you what I can do, Bender.
I’ll make a backup copy of your neural network, so that if
your Mafioso friends do succeed in whacking you, I can simply create
a new bending unit with your charming personality.”
Bender marveled. “You can do that?”
Foss nodded. “Think
of it as robot reincarnation.”
“In that case,”
said Bender, “what are you waiting for?”
Billions of light-years
away, at the exact center of the universe, on the ancient planet
Eternium, a dozen high-ranking Nibblonians assembled for a solemn
council. The hall was darkened except for a spotlight that shone on
their dinners, which consisted of various zoo animals and wasabi on
“Our sages have
foretold,” stated a male Nibblonian, “that the Chosen One
would undergo a great test of courage, and the fate of the entire
universe would once again hinge on his success.”
“It is so,”
responded a female Nibblonian. “If the results of our
computations are accurate, and they must be, since the sages foretold
them as well, the one known as Fry will face this great test one
Earth week from today.”
grumbled another male Nibblonian. “That’s the same day
as my retirement party. I’ve been planning it for twenty
“We cannot allow
the Chosen One to fail,” said the female. “We must make
Lord Nibbler aware of the danger. Once the nature of the test
becomes clearer, he will offer his assistance to the one known as
“I pray that will
be sufficient,” said the male.
The one known as Fry
was, at that moment, waiting anxiously in Professor Farnsworth’s
laboratory, Leela at his side. On the table before them lay two
devices, one a trademarked Frinkomatic Body Switcher, the other a
crude mockup of the same. The Frinkomatic was shaped like an
oversized steering wheel, with metal grips on either end.
over our story again,” said Farnsworth’s head as it
floated about in its jar. “You were helping me build a more
efficient body-switching device, but it accidentally went off while
you both had your hands on it. And now you’re stuck in each
other’s bodies for a month, because it’s not safe to
switch back earlier.”
said Fry. “Sounds convincing.”
so,” said Leela. “We have to fool not only Philaster,
but all our friends as well.”
proceed?” said Farnsworth.
Fry and Leela slowly
moved their hands toward the Frink device, as if fearing they would
be electrocuted upon touching it. This is absolutely crazy,
thought Leela. What do I know about being a guy? It’s not
like putting on a different outfit.
This’ll be a
lot different from being attached to Amy’s body, thought
Fry. I’ll actually be in Leela’s head, looking at the
world through her eye. It’s so freaky.
“Now hold on
tight,” said Farnsworth. “The Frinkomatic will activate
automatically in five seconds…two…one…”
The wheel-shaped device
sent a mild, almost imperceptible electric shock through the bodies
of Fry and Leela. They blinked involuntarily. When they opened
their eyes, they discovered that the world around them had
Everything seemed flat
to Fry, as if he was pressing his nose against a mirror. The fact
that he was staring at a person who looked exactly like him supported
perspective, everything in the room had suddenly moved away from her,
including the one-eyed girl who had appeared in place of Fry. To add
to her surprise, she saw two transparent noses at either side of her
face instead of the solid one to which she was accustomed.
Fry looked down and saw
a white tank top supporting a pair of enormous lumps. He screamed in
Leela looked down and
saw a red jacket and no lumps at all. She screamed in horror.
Farnsworth grinned with
satisfaction as he listened to them scream. “Oh my, yes.
“Fry! You gotta
help me, man! The Robot Mafia followed me here!”
Leela groggily opened
she spoke in a man’s voice. “No, Bender. I’m
Leela?” said the once frantic, now bemused robot. “Great!
You can kickbox the crap outta those killers.”
Leela let out a faint
moan as he sat up. “He’s awake?” said Amy
as she hurried into the Planet Express lounge. “Schmawsome.”
Zoidberg applied a
very, very cold stethoscope to Leela’s forehead. “I’m
picking up a marked increase in brain activity,” he stated.
“Leela’s in there, all right.”
like, Leela?” Amy asked eagerly.
Leela looked over to
the other couch, where Fry sat in her body, gazing into a handheld
mirror with an idyllic smile. “Fry’s certainly taking it
well,” she remarked. “Hey, Fry…?”
Fry continued to stare
into the mirror. Her eye didn’t move at all.
said Amy, hands on hips. “What’s it like?”
Leela rose up and took
a cautious step forward. “It feels weird,” she
commented. “It’s like all my body parts have been
shuffled around. In a blender.”
Zoidberg waved a claw
in front of Fry’s frozen face. “She’s in a state
of shock,” he said analytically. “It’s best not to
“Why are you
saying she?” Leela protested. “That’s Fry.
confuse me, young man,” said Zoidberg.
Bender waved his arms
earnestly. “Hello, meatbags! I’m about to die here!
Does anybody even care, or are you too caught up in your gender
Leela pressed her hands
to her flat chest and sighed. “I miss my boobs.”
Fry lowered his mirror
and broke his silence. “All your boobs are belong to us,”
he droned, and then he began to giggle uncontrollably.
The Donbot held a
patient vigil at the entrance to the Planet Express building. Few
passers-by noticed him, and those who did promptly looked away and
quickened their pace. There were no police officers in his field of
His stocky henchman
Joey trudged toward him from one side of the building. “No
sign of their delivery ship,” he reported. “They can’t
escape by air.”
The short, yellow ‘bot
Clamps approached from the other direction, clicking his vise-like
hands. “I clamped their security system,” he told the
Donbot. “If we clamp ‘em now, they won’t know what
said their boss, opening his machine gun case. “I don’t
want no witnesses. Kill everyone in the building, but leave Bender
Fry set the mirror down
and rose to his feet, still smiling idiotically. “This is so
incredible,” he gushed, marveling at the shape of his borrowed
body. “I don’t just look like a girl, I feel like
said Amy. “What did you expect?”
Leela and Fry stepped
up to each other, and exchanged astonished looks. “So this
is what a girl feels when she looks at me,” said Fry. “No
wonder I can’t get a date.”
“Just wait until
we switch back, Fry,” said Leela. “After a full month of
weightlifting, Pilates, and spinach salad, you’ll think you’ve
moved into Charles Atlas. You’ll have to file a restraining
order against all the girls who want to date you.”
kind of you to do that for me,” said Fry. “I wish I had
your generous nature…but no. Since I don’t have to keep
this body, I’m gonna party all night, every night, for thirty
indignantly. “You’d better not damage my body,”
she threatened, “or I may just decide to keep yours.”
wouldn’t dare!” exclaimed Fry.
“I want my
girlish figure to be intact at the end of the month,” said
Leela. “Got that?”
Fry nodded reluctantly.
“I had a girlish
figure once,” said Zoidberg as he stuffed an angel food cake
into his mouth.
Fry felt an odd, but
surprisingly familiar, sensation. “I need to pee,” he
stated, hurrying toward the lavatory.
“You remember how
to do it, don’t you?” said Amy.
Bender, having given up
on seeking help from his friends, rifled through the inventions in
Farnsworth’s lab. “There’s gotta be a mega death
beam, or something,” he muttered. “I can’t let the
Robot Mafia take me down without a fight.” The loud clatter of
devices being tossed aside failed to awaken the professor’s
Hidden behind a stack
of circuit boards was a wheel-like object that Bender found
intriguing. “A Frinkomatic body switcher,” he observed.
“I could try to switch bodies with the Donbot, if only I could
get close enough to him. Hmm…I wonder what would happen if I
switched bodies with myself?”
Overcome by curiosity,
he gripped the metal ends of the device, and reality turned upside
He was in Elzar’s
restaurant, staring down at what appeared to be a menu. It was
unlike any menu he had ever seen. “Bender Bender Bender,”
he read, starting at the top. “Bender Bender Bender Bender…”
A uniformed creature
with four blue arms and a robotic head walked up to the table.
“Bender Bender Bender,” he uttered in a friendly tone.
“What the hell’s
going on?” the robot tried to say, but the words that came from
his mouth were, “Bender Bender?”
move,” ordered the Donbot.
Just as Joey and Clamps
started to force open the doors to the Planet Express building, a
well-known voice called to them from a distance. “Hey, losers!
Get over here! My shiny metal ass won’t bite itself!”
stammered Clamps. “Bender? But I coulda sworn…”
there!” cried Joey, pointing at an alley across the street.
The Donbot clutched his
gun case tightly, holding it shut as he raced to the other side of
the street with his cronies. They reached the entrance to the alley,
only to see an overfilled dumpster and a dead alien slumped against a
wall, but no Bender.
disappear to?” the fat robot wondered.
Once again they heard
the voice, this time from near the chain-link fence at the end of the
alley. “Bender is great! The Robot Mafia sucks spark plugs!”
His patience exhausted,
the Donbot yanked his tommy gun out of its case. “Fire blindly
in all directions!” he commanded his henchmen.
said Clamps, “did you say to clamp blindly in all
directions? ‘Cause that’s what I heard.”
robot ears detected the sound of gunfire from half a block away. It
concerned her, but the apron-clad fembot had a more urgent matter to
attend to—someone had just flushed the toilet.
Her wedge-shaped feet
made a clipping sound as she minced in the direction of the washroom.
The door opened and Fry stepped out, her cheeks red from blushing.
“I hope the lavatory is clean enough to please you, Captain
Leela,” she said meekly.
Leela,” the cyclops told her. “I’m Fry. Leela and
I switched bodies by accident.”
Delta peered carefully
at her, then looked into the washroom. “Well, that
explains why the toilet seat’s still up,” she said.
said Fry, embarrassed. “I’m a girl now, and I still
Bender approached them,
his gait unsteady, his pupils spinning, the Frinkomatic device still
in his hands. “Bender…Bender Bender…Bender…”
wrong, Bender?” asked Fry.
The dazed robot
answered simply, “Bender Bender Bender.”
“I have no idea
what you’re trying to say to me,” said the one-eyed girl.
said Delta. “That contraption must be interfering with his
positronic thought processes.”
She reached forward to
pull the Frinkomatic from Bender’s hands, but Fry jumped
between them. “Don’t touch it!” he yelled.
said the confused Delta.
Bender succeeded in
prying one of his hands from the electronic wheel. “Because
it’s a body switcher,” he said, regaining his composure.
“And when I told you I wanted your body, that’s not what
switcher,” mused Delta. “How interesting.”
Turning to Fry, she inquired, “Is that how you and Leela
exchanged physical forms?”
replied. Catching himself, he added, “Uh, I mean, er, ah,
“Oh, I get it,”
said Bender suspiciously. “You accidentally switched it
on, then you accidentally picked it up at the same time, which
caused you to accidentally switch bodies.”
yeah,” said Fry.
said Bender. “Just so we’re on the same page.”
Minutes later, Leela
walked into the lounge to find Fry relaxing on the couch, his hand
dipped into a bag of potato chips. “Hey, Fry,” said the
young redhead. “Why are you wasting your time here? You
should be out and about, exploring your new female self.”
exploring it,” was Fry’s response. “Potato chips
don’t taste any different. The Fox network still sucks. The
Lifetime network’s gotten better, though.”
Leela looked up at the
new TV they had purchased after the destruction of the old one. A
message flashed on the screen: “Viewer discretion is advised.
If you have any discretion at all, you’ll change the channel
now. You are watching Fox.”
She lazily plopped down
next to Fry. “I’ll exercise later,” she said with
a sigh. “This is gonna be harder than I thought.”
The body-switched pair
sat in silence, watching the lively shapes and colors on the TV
“I looked at your
weiner,” said Leela.
yourself,” said Fry.
a voice uttered. The moment they were dreading had arrived. Foss
stood in the lounge, his standard smock replaced by a Hawaiian silk
said Fry glibly.
said Leela. “Before you kiss me, you should know that…”
His words fell on deaf
ears, attached to the same head as the lips that were fondly pressing
The kiss went on and
on. Fry trembled, his eye wide, his fingers spread apart. To
Leela’s consternation, he made no effort to resist. After what
seemed an eternity to both of them, Foss pulled his lips away. “I
love you, Leela,” he said gently.
Fry stared blankly at
the professor’s silk shirt for a moment, then dropped his head
into his hands. “Oh, dear God, I’m gay!”
what?” said Foss.
“I enjoyed that,”
said Fry anxiously. “I can’t tell you how much I
enjoyed that. Please don’t do it again.”
“I can explain,”
said Leela as she stood up. “She’s really Fry, and I’m
really Leela. We were helping Professor Farnsworth build a better
body switcher, but the thing went off while we were holding it.”
Foss gaped briefly,
then started to chuckle. “Get out of here,” he said.
true,” Leela insisted. “I can tell you things only Leela
would know about you. Like what part of your body the space pirates
mutilated when they were initiating you, and why you have a drawer
full of pink satin stockings, and…”
“All right, I
believe you!” Foss blurted out.
Leela and Fry watched
the scientist struggle for words.
know,” he said at last. “I don’t know what to do
in this situation. I’ve got to think about it.”
Foss walked so quickly
out of the employee lounge that he appeared to be fleeing. “Don’t
forget,” said Leela to Fry, “we’re trying to make
Foss lose interest in you…I mean, me.”
Fry quivered as he sat
bolt upright. “Do you feel this way every time he
kisses you?” he said reverently. “I thought I understood
why you wanted to dump him, but now I don’t.”
Leela only sighed.
It was Zoidberg’s
habit to stop off at the mental health institute every afternoon, to
see if any progress could be made with the conflicted Captain
Brannigan. As he passed his claw over the DNA scanner to gain
entrance to the cell block where Zapp was staying, he tried to
imagine what creative threats and insults the spaceman would hurl at
him. “I’d like to boil you and see if you turn red.”
“You’d look better in a malpractice suit.” “Who
gave you a license to practice medicine? I’d like to meet
him—maybe he can grant me a license to kill.” “Come
any closer and I’ll make bisque out of you.” And those
were the non-sexual ones.
Little did he suspect
that Zapp was, at that moment, holding a conversation with a strange,
white-bearded man who had mysteriously approached the door of his
“Our new therapy
will revolutionize the criminal justice system,” said the old
man in a gravelly voice. “The institute doesn’t want you
to know about it. The government doesn’t want you to
know about it. That’s how effective it is.”
know who you are,” said the bedraggled-looking Zapp, “but
if you’re offering me a chance to get this evil out of my head,
I’ll take it.”
said the stranger. By waving a pen-like device with a flashing tip,
he caused the lock on Zapp’s cell door to unfasten.
By the time Zoidberg
reached the spot, the door was closed and Zapp was not inside. “Good
Lord!” exclaimed the crustacean, searching every corner of the
tiny room with his eyes. Then it occurred to him to use his nose.
He breathed in a long draught of air, hoping to pick up a scent clue
or two, but only one thing registered on his super-sensitive
he moaned. “My only weakness.”
At the Planet Express
headquarters, the debate had become intense as Bender, Foss, Fry, and
Leela each tried to come up with a mutual solution to their problems
by ignoring what the others were saying.
telling you, the moment I step out of the building, the Robot Mafia’s
gonna punch me full of holes,” said Bender.
“You think you’ve
got it tough,” said Foss. “My girlfriend’s a man!
How am I supposed to deal with that?”
“I am not
going to stay at Bender’s cesspool of an apartment,” said
Leela. “That place is so filthy, the rats only go there to
not gonna stay at your place and spend the whole night feeding
Nibbler and cleaning up the quantum singularities he shoots out of
his butt,” Fry retorted.
Zoidberg burst into the
meeting room as they bickered. “My friends, my friends!”
he called out. “I have news of a disturbing and possibly
“Stick a fork in
it, Zoidburger,” said Bender sharply.
everybody!” said Foss. “Let’s listen to what the
lobster has to share with us.”
foursome fell silent. “What’s the news?” asked
waved his claws in the air. “Zapp Brannigan is missing!”
Foss, Bender, Fry, and
Leela gaped with surprise.
Foss marveled. “You mean he escaped from the institute?”
said Zoidberg ominously, “or escaped with the assistance of
person or persons unknown.”
“Wait a minute,”
said Leela. “He was in there voluntarily to begin with. Maybe
he just decided to grab a hamburger and a Slurm at the fast-food
joint across the street.”
“Tell me, Leela
in Fry’s body,” said Zoidberg, “have you ever known
Captain Brannigan to eat large amounts of garlic?”
Leela gave the question
a moment’s thought, then answered, “No.”
said Zoidberg, narrowing his eyes. “As you may be aware, my
sense of smell is so acute, I can tell you what you ate for your last
three meals just by sniffing you. But the only scent I could detect
in Zapp’s empty cell was garlic. Garlic! Its stench is so
powerful, it drowns out everything else.”
Brannigan was helped,” Foss concluded. “But by
While the rest of the
Planet Express crew tried to unravel the mystery of Zapp’s
disappearance, Hermes (no, I haven’t forgotten about him) was
faced with a mystery of his own—which spaceship to purchase out
of the many on display. The old PE ship was assumed lost to space
pirates due to Leela’s actions, and the Jamaican bureaucrat had
taken a break from his efforts to make it look like an accidental
loss, to enjoy an afternoon of ship-shopping with his son Dwight and
his son’s best friend, Cubert.
A man in a rustic
outfit and cowboy hat greeted Hermes and the boy at Honest Flem’s
Used Spacecraft. “I’m Honest Flem,” he introduced
himself, “and I own this here establishment. What ken I do fer
lookin’ to buy a new delivery ship, mon,” replied Hermes.
phony accent’s even worse than mine,” remarked Honest
“Hey, that was a
rude thing to say to my dad,” Dwight protested.
honest,” said the spaceship dealer. “That’s why
they call me Honest Flem.”
He led Hermes, Dwight,
and Cubert into his vast outdoor lot, where about two dozen small
ships were tethered to a row of posts. “This one’s a
2993 Galaxian,” he said, gesturing at one of the boxier models.
“She was owned by an old lady who only used it for trips to
the bingo planet.”
“What are those
scratches?” asked Cubert, pointing.
impolite to point, boy,” said Flem. “Those scratches are
from a battle with a squadron of warships commandeered by brain
slugs. The old lady put up quite a fight before she was
not sure, mon,” said Hermes.
swept her for brain slug larvae,” Flem told him. “Then I
burned the broom. I guarantee you, she’s safe.”
“That one over
there looks nice,” said Hermes, directing his gaze toward the
next ship on the lot.
Flem nodded. “That’s
a 2999 Robotron,” he said, running his hand over the glossy
black exterior. “Her top speed is 45c, plus she can turn into
Dwight exclaimed. “Buy it, Dad! Buy it!”
“I see no reason
why we should ever need such a gratuitous feature,” said
“Buy it! Buy it!
Buy it!” shouted Dwight, jumping up and down.
clearly a marketing ploy to attract the under-12 demographic,”
Cubert went on. “Which makes no sense at all, since
12-year-olds aren’t allowed to pilot spacecraft.”
“Buy it! Buy it!
Buy it! Buy it! Buy it!”
“A ship that can
turn into a robot requires highly sophisticated servo mechanisms,”
Cubert pointed out. “They’d have to be serviced and
replaced periodically, and that’s not cheap.”
Cubert,” said Hermes. Turning to the dealer, he declared,
“I’ll take it.”
They shook hands
firmly. “This way to my office, sucker,” said Flem.
As Dwight bounded with
joy, Cubert checked the signs in front of every spaceship he walked
past—2996 Defender, 2995 Galaga, 2998 Tron. “What’s
the deal?” he commented. “Every one of these ships is
named after an old video game.”
“So are you,
Cubert,” said Hermes.
body is every bit as sexy as I imagined, thought Fry, gazing into
a full-length mirror. But now I feel ashamed of myself for
looking. Guys can be such perverts. Uh-oh…I’m starting
to think like a girl.
All was quiet in
Leela’s apartment, largely due to the fact that Nibbler was
absent. Blinky the three-eyed fish floated placidly in his tank,
making no sound at all. Then the doorbell rang.
I guess I should
answer that, thought Fry. Grabbing a towel from the bathroom
rack, he wrapped it tightly around his slender hips and walked on
bare feet to the apartment door. It slid open, revealing Amy in her
pink sweatsuit. “Oh, hi, Amy,” said Fry.
Amy looked at her
friend, and her smile turned into a gape.
said the bemused cyclops.
Fry glanced downward
and saw what was wrong. “Oh, crap,” he grumbled.
The door closed. When
it reopened, Amy beheld Leela’s body with a towel covering her
chest as well as her groin.
said Fry sheepishly. “I guess I didn’t learn much when I
was attached to you.”
worry about it,” said Amy as she strolled into the flat.
“Checking out your new body, I see. How do you like it so
“It feels nice,”
replied Fry. “I think I’ll have a lot of fun in it.”
Amy took a peek into
the sparsely furnished living room. “Where’s Nibbler?”
“He’s at my
place, with Leela and Bender,” Fry answered. “We agreed
to live in each other’s apartments on that one condition. If
we’re lucky, he’ll eat all the pizza boxes and soda cans
and junk.” He opened a drawer and pulled out a brassiere.
“Could you help me put this on?”
said Amy. “I came over here,” she said while fastening
the straps, “to invite you to come to the Robocabana with me
Robocawhatcha?” said Fry.
“It’s a new
dance club,” Amy told her. “It’s got a full bar,
live bands, a vibrafloor, and plenty of good-looking guys.”
Fry considered the
offer while sticking his head through Leela’s tank top. “That
sounds great, Amy,” he said, “but you know I can’t
go to a nightclub looking like this.”
“Put on a dress,
then,” said Amy.
said Fry, exasperated. “And while I’m at it, why not put
a sign on my back that says, ‘I’m a sexy woman, ask me to
Amy put on a wounded
ready to get it on with the guys,” said her body-switched
friend. “If I learned anything when Foss kissed me, it’s
that a girl can be swept away by her feelings. Have you forgotten
what happened when Leela and Zapp first met? One minute she was
feeling sorry for him, the next minute she woke up in his bed.”
“Yeah, you never
know where it’ll lead,” said Amy excitedly. “That’s
why they call it la vida loca.”
Fry continued, “if I do something irresponsible and screw up
Leela’s body, she may decide to keep mine, and then I’d
be a man trapped in the body of a one-eyed woman. I’d be twice
the freak Leela was.”
said Amy, her patience waning. “We’ll go and do
something nice and safe, like all-night vespers at the Church of
Fry shook his head.
“I’m sorry, Amy.”
As her Asian friend
turned to leave, he had an idea. “Wait,” he blurted out.
“Do you know of
any lesbian nightclubs?”
nightclubs?” said Amy, astonishment filling her face. “Are
Fry. “All the lesbians will think we’re together, so
they won’t hit on us.”
“But I want
to be hit on,” said Amy. “I mean, by guys, not by
The two girls stared at
each other, too stupefied to speak.
this?” Amy finally said. “Call Fry…I mean, call
Leela, and ask her if it’s all right for you to take her body
to the Robocabana. If she says yes, then you have no excuse not
Fry pondered the
suggestion. Leela will almost certainly say no, and then I’ll
be off the hook. Either way, I win. “All right,” he
agreed, punching the number to his own apartment into her wrist
Halfway across the
borough at the Robot Arms building, Leela stepped into the dingy
living room clad in a bright orange sweatsuit and a striped headband.
“Well, here I go,” she said to no one in particular.
Bender, who had been
gazing intently through the window at the street below, turned and
looked at Leela’s outfit long enough to make a snide remark.
“What is this, deer season?”
“No, I’m on
my way to the health club,” said Leela. “I made Fry a
promise, and I intend to see it through.” She looked glumly at
her new flat-chested body. “I just hope Fry’s dingle
doesn’t jingle while I’m running on the treadmill. That
would be so embarrassing.”
know,” said Bender.
feed Nibbler before I go,” said Leela as she reached for an
enormous can of Kibbles ‘n’ Snouts, “because you’re
obviously not going to do it.”
As she searched the
kitchen cupboards for an implement that would hopefully open the can
of pet food in less than five minutes, Nibbler crawled into the room
on his long arms and short legs. Seeing the huge can towering over
him, he widened his jaws as far as they would go, and devoured it in
Leela gave the
Nibblonian a look of disapproval. “Spit the can out, Nibbler,”
she ordered. “Be a good little alien and spit it out.”
Nibbler only stared at
him in confusion. He let out a tinny belch.
sighed Leela. “Another trip to the vet.”
“Oh, my God!”
cried Bender. “They’re coming! The Robot Mafia!”
With an exasperated
groan, Leela hurried to the window to see what Bender saw. “That’s
not the Robot Mafia,” she said peevishly. “That’s
just a big guy in an overcoat, a short fat lady in a dress, and a kid
with clamps for hands.”
said Bender. “What about those cases they’re carrying?”
clearly musicians,” said Leela.
Fry’s cell phone
rang, and Leela fumbled for it in the pocket of his jeans. “Hello?”
“Leela, this is
Fry,” came Leela’s voice.
said Leela. “Are you and my body getting along well?”
replied Fry. “I wanted to ask you something. Would you object
if Amy and I went to the Robocabana tonight?”
Leela was taken aback.
“The Robocabana? Why the hell why?”
like a no,” said Fry. “Thanks, Leela.”
Leela blurted out.
thought. Hmm… Not a bad idea. I wish I’d thought
of it before.
spoke into the cell phone, “not only do I not object, but I
insist you go to the Robocabana with Amy.”
“Go to the
Robocabana, and enjoy yourself as much as you want without hurting my
body or getting it pregnant,” Leela instructed him. “Just
don’t be surprised when I pretend to be outraged tomorrow.
It’s all part of the plan.”
Fry stood speechless,
his mouth hanging open.
great club,” said Leela. “I wish I could go with you.
Have fun, Fry.”
The light on Fry’s
wrist console went off. He made an attempt to slap himself on the
forehead, but only struck the upper part of Leela’s eye. “Ow!”
go, then?” said Amy. “Please say yes.”
Now I know what
Leela means, thought Fry’s mind in Leela’s body. She
wants me to make it look like I’m being wanton, to discourage
Foss from waiting around for us to switch back. It’s a clever
idea, but…hey, how did I figure that out so easily? Is it
because I’m thinking with Leela’s brain now? Well,
if I’m so smart, I should be able to weasel out of this
it!” he said abruptly. “Uh, I mean, I’ve got a
better idea. Foss is really lonely right now, since I’m in his
girlfriend’s body, and I think the best thing for him would be
a visit from an attractive female, let’s say, uh, you,
Amy protested. “Foss is way too old for me.”
thirty-six,” said Fry. “For a professor, that’s
“I don’t go
for nerds,” said Amy, grabbing his arm. “C’mon,
let’s get you into a dress. The clock’s ticking before
you turn back into a guy.”
Contrary to Fry’s
impression, Foss was anything but lonely. He had a companion, albeit
a cybernetic one. “You did an excellent job of luring those
robot mobsters away,” he said to the small, black metal box on
“Yeah, so give me
a medal,” said the box in Bender’s sarcastic voice. “Can
I have my body back now?”
not,” said Foss without emotion. “You see, you never had
a body to begin with. You’re a portable processing unit,
programmed with Bender’s personality.”
The black box fell
silent, save for a slight, low-pitched hum.
completely understand what you said,” it spoke up, “but I
sorta get the feeling that I’ve been horribly degraded in an
have, Bender,” said Foss. “Now go to sleep.”
not…” the box started to say just before it shut down
Foss plucked another
item from the shelf, a plastic alarm clock with Bender’s visage
printed on the face. He pressed a button and the clock uttered in a
harsh voice, “Wake up and bite my shiny metal ass. Wake up and
bite my shiny metal ass. Wake up and…”
The lights were dim at
the Robocabana, the dance floor crowded. The live band was made up
of a multi-armed ‘bot that played the drums, bass, keyboard,
and saxophone simultaneously. Men, women, androgynous aliens, and
robots wandered past the round table where Amy and Fry were seated.
The man-turned-cyclops wore a red sequined gown, rouge lipstick, and
silver platform shoes (he had refused to go so far as to wear high
heels). While Amy nursed a martini, Fry’s mind reflected on
the odd situation in which it found itself.
I don’t feel
half as weird as I should. It’s like being a girl makes it
seem normal to wear a dress and makeup. What’ll I do if a guy
asks me to dance? Looking at a guy and feeling love seems so sick
and wrong to me. Maybe I should take Amy’s advice, and just do
what comes naturally.
for a beer right now,” he mumbled.
Amy shot him an
bother you at all,” said Fry, “that dozens of men are
sizing up your boobs as we speak?”
Amy with a giggle. “Does it bother you?”
not sizing up my boobs,” said Fry. “They’re
looking at my eye and turning away.” The real Leela would
be totally depressed about that, thought Fry’s mind. I
couldn’t relate before, but now I can.
lovely lady,” he heard a suave male voice say. “May I
have this dance?”
He means me,
thought Fry. I’ve got to say something, or at least stand
up. Just do what comes naturally, and you’ll be fine.
Just do what comes naturally…
He carefully rose to
his feet. When he laid eye on the face of the man who had invited
him to dance, he recoiled in shock.
Fry could feel his
knees buckling. Zapp Brannigan towered over him, clean-shaven,
wearing a brown formal suit and polka-dot tie, smiling as if nothing
in the world was amiss.
he said politely. “Are you as surprised to see me as I am to
Amy almost knocked over
her martini as she leaped to her feet. “Z-Zapp?” she
stammered. “How did you…where did you…”
head, Fry’s mind was in a whirl. He’ll kill somebody!
What do I do? I may have Leela’s body, but I don’t have
her martial arts skills, and I can’t kick in this stupid dress
anyway. I may as well do what comes naturally…
He screamed at the top
of Leela’s lungs. Amy joined him, screaming long and loud.
The one-robot band
stopped playing. The patrons on the dance floor turned their heads
as one. Zapp only shrugged. “Girls, there’s nothing to
be afraid of,” he said. “I’ve been cured of my
escapee from a mental institution!” yelled Fry.
police!” shouted Amy. “He’s dangerous!”
One by one, the men,
women, aliens, and robots on the floor stepped toward Zapp with
outstretched arms and tentacles, preparing to pounce. “I don’t
want to hurt anyone!” cried the space captain, but to no avail.
Seeing that the mob had hemmed him in on every side except for the
side facing Amy and Fry, he sprang upward and vaulted over their
table. Landing gracefully on his feet, he charged in the direction
of the club exit, only to be confronted by two officers of the law.
“Well, if it
isn’t good ol’ Cap Zapp,” said Officer Smitty
respectfully. “If you’re here, then the situation must
be well in hand.”
“I had no idea
you were into the club scene,” said the robotic Officer URL.
“And look at that suit. I do declare, it’s mohair.
officers!” Fry called out. “He broke out of the mental
unpredictably violent!” Amy added.
The club patrons stood
back and watched the scene unfold. “No crime has been
committed here, gentlemen,” Zapp assured the policemen.
Turning to Fry, he continued, “It was a simple
misunderstanding, one that will be cleared up over dinner tomorrow.”
Brannigan’s coming on to me, thought Fry. I have to
admit, he’s awfully good-looking…oh, God, did I just
think what I think I thought?
Officer Smitty raised
his arm and began to type into his wrist console. “You,
one-eyed chick,” he said. “What’s your version of
Oh, that’s me,
thought Fry. “Captain Brannigan’s been mentally unstable
ever since Lee…ever since I rescued him from the space
pirates,” he related. “It’s true that he didn’t
hurt anyone here, but he could go off at any second, with potentially
deadly results and junk.”
“And you, chick
with the blocky hair,” said Smitty.
was simply, “What she said.”
then,” said the policeman. “Since the captain apparently
didn’t break any laws, we’ll go back to sitting in our
squad car and watching for drunk drivers.”
“Drink all you
want, and drive all you want, but don’t drink and drive,”
said Officer URL. “Oh, yeah.”
Smitty turned to leave,
then looked over his shoulder at Fry. “Out of all the women in
the galaxy, he invited you to dinner,” he said. “Think
The dancing began anew
once the officers had left. To get away from the musical din, Zapp
led the two girls into an alcove decorated with potted palms. “I
can explain, but you won’t believe me,” he told them. “I
hardly believe it myself.”
explain,” said Fry. “How’d you get out of the
“And how did you
recover from what the pirates did to you?” asked Amy.
both,” said Zapp. “It all started when an old man
visited my cell. He told me of a revolutionary therapy that would
take away the violent urges that Captain Balalaika implanted in my
mind. I wasn’t thinking straight at the time, and I was ready
to try anything, so I followed him. I can’t remember much of
what happened after that, except for brief periods of being strapped
in a chair with my eyes pried open and Beethoven’s Ninth
Symphony playing in the background.”
torture,” Fry remarked. “I’ve heard that piece is,
like, fifteen minutes long.”
“Before I knew
it,” Zapp went on, “I was standing on the sidewalk,
wearing this suit, and with no desire to commit acts of violence. I
was too grateful to question what had happened; I wanted to
celebrate, so I came to the Robocabana for drinks and dancing.”
said Amy. “You can’t remember where you were, or
replied Zapp, shaking his head. “I must have been under a
powerful sedative. Maybe it’ll come back to me eventually.”
better get you to Planet Express,” said Fry. “Dr.
Zoidberg’s dying to know where you’ve been.”
The sun was
disappearing over the New New York horizon as Amy, Fry, and Zapp
strolled through the club’s parking lot. “That police
officer made a good point,” Zapp said to Fry. “I’ve
been all over the universe, and I’ve seen all sorts of women
fall for me, but not one of them has the balance of sexiness and
voluptuosity that you possess, Leela. I saw how the men at the club
looked at you. All they could see was your eye; they couldn’t
see anything below it. But I’m not like those men. I’ve
seen what’s below your eye, and I love it.”
He talks so sweetly,
The return trip to the
PE building via transit tube was unpleasant for him, as the flowing
air filled his dress like a parachute and circulated around Leela’s
privates. It feels like I’m wearing nothing below the
waist, she thought. I can’t wait to change into a nice,
airtight pair of jeans.
By the time they
reached their destination, only Zoidberg and Delta remained in the PE
offices. The crustacean and the fembot were engaged in an earnest
discussion of their future.
“If we pool our
salaries, we’ll be able to afford an apartment,” said
Zoidberg. “We’ll have an actual home to call our own.”
“But I don’t
earn a salary, John,” said Delta. “And I think it would
be too much of an imposition to ask for one, after all the generosity
I’ve received from…”
heavens!” exclaimed Zoidberg when he saw Zapp, Amy, and Fry
walk in. “Where have you been, captain? And is that garlic I
smell any garlic,” said Zapp.
“We ran into him
at the Robocabana,” Amy reported. “He says he’s
cured. He has an interesting story to tell.”
to hear your story, captain,” said Zoidberg. “But first,
I have a question—has any of you seen Fry?”
Several hours earlier,
Leela awoke to find herself in a hospital bed.
My vision’s so
blurry, I can’t see a thing, thought Leela. I can’t
even tell if I have one eye or two.
Her back sensed a
mattress underneath it. Her nose detected a sterile hospital smell.
Her two eyes made out the vague images of one humanoid looking over
her and two probable robots at either side. Inside her head, there
was nothing but pain.
she moaned, trying to sit up.
suffered a contusion,” one of the nurses spoke in a female
voice. “You’re at the St. Peter, Paul, and Mary
Hospital, sixth floor.”
if you remain in bed,” said the other robot, this one a male.
Leela rested her head
on the pillow underneath it. She blinked a few times, and her vision
became clearer. Before her stood a white-clad fembot on the left, a
similarly uniformed manbot on the right, and a curly-headed young
woman wearing a sports bra in the middle.
“Who are you?”
she asked the strange woman.
remember?” was her response. “I’m Mildred, your
fiancée.” The girl had an upturned nose and freckles
the same shade of red as her hair.
Leela shook her head to
ward off the creeping delirium. “No, no,” she mumbled.
“Fry doesn’t have a fiancée.”
Mildred lowered her
eyes in disappointment. “Damn,” she lamented to herself.
“I was hoping he’d have amnesia.”
Leela turned her
pain-wracked head to the right. “You’re a manbot,”
she remarked. “I didn’t know there were manbot nurses.”
“Neither did I,”
said the ‘bot. “But there was a shortage of nurses, and
I wanted to work where I was needed.”
“So what stops
them from simply manufacturing more fembots?” said Leela
The manbot considered
his statement for a moment. Then, with an angry whine, he snatched
the white cap from his head and hurled it to the floor. “Screw
this,” he said, marching out of the hospital room.
sheepishly at Fry’s prostrate body. “Well, now that I
know you’ll be all right,” she said, “I guess I’ll
said Leela as the girl turned to leave. “I remember you from
the fitness center.”
Mildred with a nod. “You fell off the treadmill and hit your
head. I was worried about you, so I followed the ambulance here.”
“That was very
thoughtful of you,” said Leela, “considering that we
don’t know each other.”
“Well, I was
going to introduce myself to you,” said Mildred, “since I
think you’re kinda cute.”
She thinks Fry’s
cute, thought Leela. Now I know she’s crazy.
the two of you alone,” said the fembot nurse, walking away.
Mildred Sikes,” the girl went on. “I work at CMB
said Leela, intrigued. “Are you a scientist?”
said Mildred, giggling slightly. “No, I work in the clearance
processing department. Now that I’ve told you that, I’ll
have to kill you.”
A cold shudder passed
through Leela’s heart.
joke,” said Mildred when she saw the anxiety on the young
funny,” said Leela sternly. “Look, I don’t know
you, but I think I can guess what kind of person you are. If you
really want to get a date, my advice to you is to jump off a building
and hope one of the men below catches you.”
Mildred started to chew
the nails of her left hand. Her eyes became moist, and a tear rolled
down her cheek.
Leela. Whenever I see a girl cry, I start to cry too. Except
it’s not happening this time. I wonder why.
had a boyfriend,” said Mildred, her voice breaking. “The
men won’t touch me with a ten-foot pole. I can’t help
what I am.”
“What are you?”
Leela asked her.
The curly-haired girl
drew a handkerchief from the pocket of her shorts, and wiped her face
with it. “My father was a Chalnoth,” she admitted with
word conjured images from history books and war movies in Leela’s
mind. She had never met one, and didn’t need to. Nearly every
human and robot who had encountered one, had done so in mortal
combat. They had no poets, no artists, no diplomats, only warriors
and warship builders. They took no prisoners and made no slaves.
When they had no enemies to vanquish, they fought among themselves.
Both males and females served in the Chalnoth warrior caste, fighting
with equal fury, killing with equal ruthlessness. Chalnoth women had
been known to give birth to multiple babies, abandon them to survive
on their own, and return to the battle within hours. They carried
laser rifles, but preferred to use blade weapons at close range.
Zapp, who had reportedly killed hundreds, habitually erased from his
logs the records of his engagements with them. Popular opinion
regarded them as foul beyond foul, irredeemable, a plague to be
said Leela emotionally. “I can’t begin to comprehend
what it must be like for you.” And I thought having one eye
“The Chalnoth had
never been known to violate human women before,” Mildred
related. “My father was the first to attempt it. He was so
disgusted with the experience that he ran away and left my mother
terrible,” said Leela. “You never knew him?”
“Why would I want
to?” said Mildred, gripping her handkerchief tightly.
Leela struggled into a
sitting position, against the nurse’s advice. “I have a
friend,” she told the distraught girl. “Her parents are
sewer mutants, but she lives above ground. She has only one eye,
like a cyclops.”
so bad,” said Mildred. “She can still see fine, right?”
replied Leela. “But she’s had a hard time of it as well.
I should introduce you to her.”
to hear your story, captain,” said Zoidberg. “But first,
I have a question—has any of you seen Fry?”
“Here I am!”
shouted Leela, who had suddenly walked into the meeting room with
Mildred at his side.
said Zoidberg. “I spoke, and he appeared! Now, has anyone
seen Jimmy Hoffa?”
“Hey, check out
Shirley Temple,” said Amy, gawking at Mildred.
Zapp doing here?” asked Leela.
As the group of friends
shot questions back and forth, Zapp stared in astonishment at
Mildred’s face. Not content with merely looking, he rudely
grasped her chin and yanked her head back and forth, carefully
scrutinizing both sides. His eyes displayed both outrage and pity.
“What is it,
Captain Brannigan?” said Zoidberg.
Zapp released his grip
on Mildred’s head. “This woman is an abomination,”
said Mildred in wonder. “You’re Captain Zapp
“Not to you,”
said Zapp harshly. “Get out of my sight.”
stood and fastened his claw around Mildred’s face; the
red-haired girl endured the treatment stoically. “Odds
bodkins!” exclaimed the lobster. “You’re right,
captain. The round face, the low cheekbones, the thin lips, the
freckles…she’s obviously part Gungan.”
While Zoidberg, Amy,
and Delta pressed Mildred for details about herself, Leela and Fry
stood to one side and talked privately. “So, who gets to ask a
question first?” said Fry.
replied Leela, “since you’re a lady.”
said Fry. “What’re you doing with a strange girl who has
the same name as my grandmother?”
“She was my ride
home,” Leela told him. “I accidentally fell off a
treadmill, and she followed me to the hospital.”
“Fell off a
treadmill?” said Fry, stunned. “In my body?”
inherited your clumsiness,” said Leela with a shrug. As she
shrugged, Fry’s elbow knocked over and broke a vase filled with
daffodils. “So, how do you like wearing a dress?”
“It could become
a habit,” said Fry.
“You look pretty
sexy in it,” Leela remarked. “I’ll bet the men
found you irresistible.”
said Fry. “Amy and I came right back here after we found Zapp.
We didn’t even get to dance.”
Zapp doing at the club, anyway?” Leela wanted to know.
forward and answered the question himself. “As I explained to
the lovely lady, I was cured of my violent temperament by means of a
Leela asked him. “And who administered it?”
know his name,” said Zapp, “but I can…”
You never saw my
face, uttered a voice in his head.
Leela and Fry were
surprised at Zapp’s sudden expression of astonishment.
Who are you?
thought the spaceman.
Tell them you never
saw my face, the voice spoke.
Zapp lowered his eyes.
“I, er, never saw his face,” he said quietly.
All right, I told
them, he thought. Now what’s this all about?
I’ll tell you
later, said the mysterious voice. Maybe after your dinner
date with the cyclops.
right,” Zapp said aloud. “Leela, I believe I invited you
to dinner tomorrow.”
Both Leela and Fry
gaped at the captain. Then they gaped at each other.
Then Leela folded Fry’s
arms. “Leave Leela the hell alone,” she told Zapp.
head, Fry’s mind bubbled with unfamiliar feelings. I don’t
know if Leela’s objection is real or fake, it thought. All
I know is what her body is telling me—yes, yes, yes!
Fry blurted out. “We’ve had our differences, but I’m
willing to give us another shot. I will go to dinner with you
fell so far open that Fry’s tonsils were visible from space.
said Fry, tapping on his wrist console.
“You just made
the sexiest decision of your life,” said Zapp with a lustful
As the captain walked
away whistling, Leela caught Fry by his plunging neckline. “You
are not going out with Zapp Brannigan!” she snapped. “I
absolutely forbid it!”
part of the plan,” said Fry flippantly.
“There are plenty
of men you could pretend to screw around with,” said Leela,
shaking her own body vigorously. “Zapp is not one of
them. Break the date!”
“Stop it before
you hurt yourself,” said Fry.
Try as she might, Leela
was unable to dissuade Fry from hislans to date Zapp. Shfinally
decided to sleep on the matter, but when morning came around, the
only conclusion she had reached was that she needed help. The tubes
were jammed with commuters when she set off, so the trip to Soho
occupied roughly an hour of her time.
She found Foss behind a
small table, hawking wares in the midst of a small crowd of assorted
bohemians. As she passed by, they assaulted her with desperate sales
pitches: “Paintings for sale, half price!” “Will
perform interpretive dance for food!” “Documentary
footage of the rent strike, really cheap!” “My
hand-crafted Zuni fetishes will bring you good luck!” “Buy
my crap! I haven’t eaten for three days!”
need your help,” she told the professor, paying no attention to
the items piled on his table.
problem, er, Fry?” said Foss, glancing nervously to the left
the problem,” said Leela. “He’s out of control.
He’s gonna take my body on a date with Zapp Brannigan!”
thoughtfully at the young redhead. “He could do worse,”
couldn’t!” Leela retorted. “Can’t you see
what this will do to my image? Zapp Brannigan becoming romantically
involved with the mutant who rescued him from the space pirates?
It’ll be all over the tabloids!”
“What do you want
me to do?” asked Foss with concern.
“Get him to break
the date,” Leela urged him. “Take advantage of his
raging female hormones if you have to. Tell him you still love him,
even though he’s not really Leela.” The surrounding
bohemians turned their heads, intrigued by the exchange.
Foss shook his head.
“I could never do that,” he said with finality.
sank, as did her face. “I know,” she said weakly. “I
shouldn’t have even asked it of you.”
“I love you,
Leela,” said Foss, and more bohemians perked up their ears.
“But I won’t touch you as long as your body and mind are
separated. I’m willing to wait a month for a love like yours.”
Leela. It’s not working. Men are so dense.
Honest Flem strolled up
to their position, dressed in his usual cowboy duds. “Whatcha
got fer sale there, pardner?” he asked Foss.
“This is my
Bendermatic line of accessories,” the scientist replied.
“Alarm clocks, watches, and cell phones…with attitude.”
He handed one of the
cell phones to Flem, who casually flipped it open. “You got a
call, buddy,” the device uttered in Bender’s voice.
“I’ll tell ‘em you’re not home.”
is even more entertaining,” said Foss, dangling a watch
in front of the car dealer’s nose.
“You got a
five-o’-clock appointment,” said Bender’s voice.
“Or maybe it’s four-thirty. I don’t know and I
Flem snatched the watch
from Foss’ hand. “Whatever you’re askin’,
I’ll pay double,” he said. “I just love a
timepiece that says what’s on its mind.”
see that,” said Leela, seizing the watch from him. “Bender?”
she called out. “Are you in there?”
the watch. “Is that you?”
me,” said Leela.
“Where am I?
What’s that constant ticking sound? Why can’t I feel my
legs? Why do my arms move so slowly?”
Leela gripped the watch
firmly as she glared at Foss. “What did you do to my friend?”
she demanded to know.
The professor grinned
nonchalantly. “It’s nothing but a watch programmed with
a subset of Bender’s personality. When last I checked, there
was no law against duplicating a robot’s psyche.”
a.m. and you’re still a chump,” stated the Bender watch.
that watch now,” said Honest Flem impatiently.
“Oh, no, you
won’t,” Leela shot back. “Bender is not for
Leela,” said Foss, passing a different watch to Flem in
exchange for money. “He’s only a robot, and a poor one
at that. Besides, I need some way to fund my research, now
that I’m no longer getting a share of pirate booty.”
I don’t want
to cause a scene, thought Leela as she dropped the watch back
into the pile. I’ll find a legal way to put a stop to this,
I swear it.
over, Philaster,” she said, and marched away in a huff.
The hulking object
stood in the place of the old Planet Express ship, and was covered by
a huge vinyl tarp. Dwight and Hermes each grasped one of the
corners, waiting for their friends to assemble in the building’s
miss the old ship,” remarked Amy. “But Hermes tells me
the new one is totally schmawesome.”
“I hope it comes
equipped with a holobrothel,” said Bender, who was carting the
professor’s head jar in his corrugated arms.
“And I was so
afraid that old clunker of a ship would outlive me,” said
Delta, and Fry met them in front of the new spacecraft. Amy, taking
one look at Fry’s head, remarked, “Your hair’s all
said Fry with a shrug. “I’ll wash it after work.”
forget,” said Amy, “you have a date with Zapp tonight.
You want to look your best.”
shampoo,” said Fry lackadaisically.
They stood reverently
as Hermes addressed them. “Ladies and gentle-mon,” he
boomed. “Welcome to the unveiling of the new Planet Express
cried Zoidberg, slapping his claws together.
“And now, without
further ado,” said Hermes, “I would like to thank all the
people who made this moment possible.”
“Show us the
freakin’ ship!” yelled Fry.
“At the count of
three, son,” said Hermes. “One…”
With a mighty yank,
Hermes and Dwight managed to pull down about half of the tarp,
leaving most of the ship still covered.
The two Jamaicans gave
the sheet another tug, but it hardly moved. “Great sofa of
Nuku’Alofa!” exclaimed Hermes. “It’s caught
on the laser turret!”
worry, Dad,” said Dwight. “I’ll climb up there and
The boy seized hold of
the tarp and began to scramble up, but his father objected. “It’s
too dangerous, mon,” he said. “Let me take care
Dwight hopped to the
ground, just in time to watch Hermes press a button on a remote
control pad. A bolt of energy flew from the ship’s laser
cannon, ripping the sheet apart and blowing an enormous hole in the
wall of Zoidberg’s medical office.
wailed the lobster. “I just had it remodeled, I did!”
The tatters of the tarp
fell away, revealing a sleek, jet-black flying machine, slightly
larger than the old delivery ship but similar in design.
“Oooh…aaah…” said the onlookers.
not all,” said Hermes. “It can also turn into a robot.”
exclaimed Dwight. “Push the button, Dad! Push it! Push it!
against nature,” complained Bender.
break,” grumbled Cubert. “I just know it.”
“Push it! Push
it! Push it!”
“Shut the spluck
up, Dwight!” said Amy.
“That was me,”
nothing,” said Hermes, pressing a large red button on his pad.
The ship quivered, then
trembled. Its nacelles folded. Its fins retracted. Its nose split
into four sections, each of which slid its own way. Hums and
whistles emitted from its bowels as its seemingly endless parts
reformed themselves into arms and legs. Within a matter of seconds,
there stood a shining black robot in the place of the new ship.
A robot all of six feet
Amy, Zoidberg, Fry,
Bender, Farnsworth, Hermes, Dwight, and Cubert gaped in awe and
“Well, I can
still ride on its shoulders,” said Dwight sheepishly.
Leela burst into the
docking bay, panting heavily. “Did I miss anything?” she
Cubert peered at the
bulky black robot, whose glassy eyes and forehead resembled a
cockpit. “This must be some kind of trick,” he opined.
“All the mass of the spaceship couldn’t possibly fit into
such a small volume.”
The robot’s eyes
flashed as it began to speak. “I am equipped with the latest
in miniaturization technology,” it stated in a husky female
voice. “Allow me to demonstrate.”
As the PE crew watched,
the automaton began to expand, eventually reaching eighteen feet in
height. Its features remained unchanged relative to its new size.
“My maximum achievable height is fifty-four feet,” it
said in a thundering voice. “At that height, I would be much
too large for your docking bay.”
seen all I need to see,” said Farnsworth’s head.
“Bender, would you like to do the honors?”
Bender rested the
professor’s head jar on a shelf, opened his chest door, and
pulled out a bottle of champagne. “It seems such an awful
waste,” he said, “but here goes.”
exclaimed Amy. “We haven’t decided on a name yet.”
her Gigantina,” said Dwight.
stupid,” said Cubert. “Nobody uses binary anymore.”
“I think we
should call her Raven,” said Amy, “because ravens are
“I like it, mon,”
The crewmates all
looked at each other and nodded in agreement. Bender stepped
forward, raised the bottle of champagne high in the air, and
declared, “I hereby christen thee Raven, full member of the
Planet Express team, with all the rights and privileges pertaining
thereunto, yada yada yada.” After a moment’s hesitation,
he forcefully swung the bottle against the giant robot’s leg,
shattering it (the bottle, that is). Puddles of champagne and shards
of glass covered the floor around him.
that,” offered Delta.
handle this mess, baby,” said Bender, who then stooped down and
began to suck the champagne from the floor with his mouth.
Leela watched the scene
thoughtfully. I’m not sure if I should tell Bender. He’d
probably go ballistic and bend Philaster into a pretzel. If only I
could convince him that Bender has worth as an individual—but
how, when I’m not fully convinced of it myself?
Once Raven had resumed
the form of a spaceship, Leela went inside and started to familiarize
herself with the significantly more advanced controls. She can go
45 times the speed of light—that’s three times more than
the old ship. Her maximum impulse velocity is 99% lightspeed, and
with these new relativistic compensators, she can reach that speed
without expending all her fuel. Simplified navigation controls with
enhanced response time, antigrav boosters for more efficient
takeoffs…and is that Corinthian leather on the seats? I’m
in heaven, or I would be, if I wasn’t a guy.
She sat down in the
pilot’s chair, leaned backwards, and stuck her hands behind her
head. I’ll just shut my eyes for a few minutes and breathe
in that new spaceship smell. What Leela’s mind failed to
take into account was that Fry’s body had its own law of
physics—when in motion it tended toward rest, and when at rest
it tended to fall asleep.
Leela didn’t know
how many hours had passed before Fry’s cell phone woke her up
(the ring tone was, naturally, Walking on Sunshine). “Hello?”
she spoke into the receiver.
This is Mildred.”
“Hey, Mildred. What’s up?”
have any plans for lunch,” said the girl. “I thought
maybe you and I could eat somewhere.”
thought Leela. I know a hundred excuses to get out of a date with
a man, but I’ve never been asked out by a woman before.
she said with a bit of impatience. “I’m just a space
delivery boy. You can do a lot better. Leela knows a really nice
guy named Chaz. He’s an assistant to Mayor Poopenmeyer.”
seems to know everyone,” said Mildred bitterly. “She’s
got a date with Zapp freakin’ Brannigan, for goodness’
sake. But when I asked her if she could set me up with one of her
friends, she just shrugged.”
Leela could think of
nothing helpful to say.
“You told me
Leela would understand my predicament,” Mildred went on. “But
she doesn’t understand a thing. Having only one eye isn’t
getting in the way of her love life at all, from the looks of it.”
But I do understand,
thought Leela’s mind. If only I were back in my own body,
I’d be like a sister to you.
you to lunch, not Leela,” said Mildred. “Just
answer yes or no. Do you, or do you not, want to go to lunch with
I am not gonna date
a girl, thought Leela. Being around girls makes Fry’s
body do funny things.
said. “Where and when?”
What did I just do?
Is Fry’s brain really that defective?
“Meet me at noon,
at the Palm d’Orbit,” said Mildred excitedly. “I’ve
already made the reservations.”
And you said you
didn’t have any plans for lunch.
“See ya there,
Mildred,” said Leela.
The call ended. She
moaned. There’s no turning back now.
voyage was, appropriately enough, a voyage to meet a maiden. “See
you later, guys,” said Leela as she ascended the boarding ramp
into the ship’s interior.
“Have a good time
with Mildred,” said Fry, waving. “Don’t do
anything I would do.”
Mildred,” said Zoidberg. “Have a good time with the
The ceiling of the
Planet Express docking bay split in two, and Raven floated
effortlessly into the sky through the magic of its antigravity drive.
An instant later the rockets flared up, and the sleek vessel hurtled
toward the stratosphere as the people below watched and applauded.
To pass the time of
what would be a very short trip, Leela struck up a conversation with
Raven. “Our last ship had a female artificial intelligence,”
she recalled. “It fell in love with Bender, and we almost got
blown to bits as a result. You won’t make the same mistake,
replied the ship’s computer voice. “I am incapable of
making decisions based on emotion. My only motivations are pure
logic and a sense of duty.”
good,” said Leela. “But what if somebody tries to tamper
with your programming and turn you into an emotional being?”
security scanner would detect such an attempt,” replied Raven,
“and automatically trigger a shutdown sequence.”
to hear it,” said Leela. “Emotional spaceship accidents
kill more people than drunk drivers. Only now are shipmakers waking
up to that fact, and adding anti-emotion safety features.”
Minutes passed in
silence as the asteroid on which stood the Palm d’Orbit
Restaurant loomed closer. “I have another question,”
said Leela. “You consider yourself a female spaceship, right?”
“Gender has no
part in my considerations,” said Raven.
Leela, disappointed. “I was about to ask you why your robot
form doesn’t have boobs, but, never mind.”
Upon arriving at the
Palm d’Orbit lot, Leela turned the ship over to a robotic
valet, who commended her on obtaining such a fabulous spacecraft.
The restaurant was half filled, and cheesy 2980’s music played
over the speaker system. Leela scanned the room for the presence of
Mildred, and saw her on the far end, staring blankly into space.
she said when she reached the booth where she sat.
The girl’s face
lit up. “Philip! I was afraid you wouldn’t come…I
mean, wouldn’t come on time.”
“I like to be
punctual,” said Leela as she took off her red jacket and sat
unusual,” Mildred remarked. “In my experience, guys are
usually late.” The red-haired girl wore a modest green dress,
and her curly locks were tied in puffs behind her head.
Maybe I should tell
her I’m really a girl, thought Leela. But seeing how
strange she is, I’m afraid she’d only want me more.
getting the horta Marsala,” said Mildred. “What about
disinterestedly at the menu lying before her. “I think I’ll
just get an appetizer,” she said. “And maybe a Slurm.”
“You’re funny, Philip. You’re not like the other
guys at all.”
You have no idea,
“Is it because
you’re from the 20th century?” Mildred asked
“Who told you
Mildred sighed wistfully. “I can’t imagine anything
cooler than being frozen for a thousand years and waking up in a
totally different world.”
“Neither can I,”
said Leela glibly.
“Look at yourself
now,” Mildred went on. “You’re having lunch at a
restaurant in outer space. Could you do that in the 20th
ask me history questions. “Uh, of course not.”
really great guy,” said Mildred, gazing affectionately at him.
“All the other guys are afraid that if they marry me, they’ll
have half-alien savages for kids. I don’t know if it works
that way or not; all I know is, I turned out all right.”
“I said the
M-word, didn’t I?” Mildred giggled again. “You
don’t have to marry me if you don’t want to, Philip. For
the moment, I just wanna hang with you. I get the feeling we have a
lot in common.”
More than you think.
“Sure, Mildred,” said Leela. “I’d love to
begin a platonic relationship with you.”
Mildred gushed. “You’ve made me the happiest girl in
orbit around Earth.”
At that instant it
occurred to Leela’s mind that this lonely woman might prove
useful to her/him. “I wonder if I could ask a favor of you,
Leela adopted a serious
tone. “I don’t want Leela to date Zapp Brannigan,”
said Mildred. “A gorgeous hunk of spaceman like him?”
“I have my
reasons,” said Leela.
“You want Leela
for yourself, don’t you?” said Mildred playfully.
kidding,” said his date. “Sure, I’ll help you
split them up. What do I do?”
Leela lowered her
voice. “Zapp’s killed more Chalnoth than anyone can
count. In his eyes they’re lower than what scum call scum, and
so are you. If he even sees you helping Leela with her hair, I think
that’d be enough to discourage him.”
Mildred with relief. “For a minute I thought you were gonna
ask me to do something hard.”
“I guess that’s
one thing I prefer about being a guy,” said Fry, his head in
the firm grip of a hair dryer. “Not having to do anything
special with my hair.”
something you have to do,” said Amy, whose nails were
being painted by an alien woman with prehensile tresses. “It’s
something you enjoy doing. For a girl, clothes and hair and
makeup are as much fun as, er, ah, guy things are for guys.”
Once she had finished
her work on Amy’s nails, the alien woman used her locks like
tentacles to lift the hair dryer from Fry’s head. “Ah,
you look mahvelous,” she gushed.
schmantastic!” exclaimed Amy, jumping to her feet. “Take
a look at yourself in the mirror, girl!”
Fry’s nerves ate
away at his stomach as he stepped in front of the tall mirror. There
stood the shapely cyclops he had become accustomed to seeing, with
one significant difference—her purple hair had assumed the
shape of a curly tower.
“I look like
Marge Simpson with one eye,” he remarked.
“You look great,”
Amy assured her.
Fry turned around. “I
wonder if I’m doing the right thing,” he said seriously.
your mind talking,” said Amy. “What does your heart
Amy rested a hand on
her friend’s bare shoulder. “Pre-date jitters,”
she said comfortingly. “We all get ‘em.”
console buzzed, alerting him of a call. “Turanga Leela
speaking,” he said, and for an instant almost believed it.
appeared on the tiny video screen. “Leela, you look even
sexier than the last time I saw you,” said the captain.
“Why, thank you,
Zapp.” A shiver went up and down Fry’s spine; he was
certain his hair would stand on end, were it not already doing so.
calling because I’d like to meet you a half-hour earlier than
we planned,” said Zapp.
earlier?” said Fry. “Why?”
say I had a feeling,” said Zapp mysteriously.
said Fry. “Seven it is. See you then.”
lady,” said Zapp, and his image vanished.
When Amy looked again,
she beheld that Fry’s worried scowl had given way to an
ecstatic smile. “He called you a sexy lady,” said the
Asian girl. “Didn’t that feel good?”
“Yeah, it did,”
Fry admitted. “It really did. I can’t believe how much
I’ve learned about women and how they think and feel—and
all it took was becoming one.”
still a lot to learn,” said Amy, “and you’ve only
got twenty-eight more days. C’mon, let’s buy you some
came and passed. At a quarter after seven, Leela and Mildred
strolled down the sidewalk toward Leela’s apartment building.
“It just doesn’t
seem right to me to duplicate someone’s personality and put it
inside an alarm clock,” said Leela, “even if that someone
is a robot. I’m afraid there may be no legal precedent for a
case like this. That’s why I asked you if you know any good
“CMB Research has
plenty of copyright lawyers on retainer,” Mildred told her,
“though that’s probably not the type of lawyer you need.”
understand why Philaster, of all people, would do a thing like this,”
Leela went on. “Back in his MU days, he was an avid supporter
of equal rights for robots.”
Philaster sounds like a real brainiac,” said Mildred. “I
mean the good kind of brainiac, not the ‘I’m gonna
plug a computer into my head and think of a way to take over the
world’ type of brainiac, like my neighbor, Dr. Intellectuo.
Unlike most girls, I’m actually turned on by…”
She abruptly fell
silent. The door to Apartment 1-I was closed, and a yellow sticky
note with crude handwriting was attached. Leela picked up the note
and began to read: “Dear Fry and Mildred. I’m sorry I’m
welcome you,” she thought she heard her own voice saying.
“Zapp decided to leave at 7:00 instead of 7:30, so by the time
you read this, we’ll be long gone. Hugs and kisses, Leela.”
“An audio sticky
note,” Mildred observed. “Another wonderful invention
you didn’t have in the 20th century.”
Leela crumpled the note
in her palm and sighed bitterly. “I hope ‘long gone’
was intended as a figure of speech,” he said.
“So much for our
plan to break their date,” said Mildred. “Now what do we
know,” said Leela, shrugging. “A movie, maybe?”
Fry and Zapp were not
long gone; rather, they were twelve blocks away at Elzar’s
Restaurant. The spaceman divided his time between glancing at the
menu and gazing at the picture of beauty at the opposite end of the
table—a one-eyed woman with tall purple hair, turquoise
earrings, and a low-cut white dress.
I should tell him
how handsome he is, thought Fry. I know it’s weird, but
it’s what a girl would do in my situation.
very handsome,” he said wistfully.
this?” said Zapp with surprise. “A compliment? Whoever
you are, give Leela her body back.” He chuckled.
thought Fry’s mind. This is like a freaky, wonderful dream
I can’t wake up from. Geez, I’m not just
occupying Leela’s body—I really am her! It’s no
different from having been her all my life.
“To be honest,”
said Zapp, “when I invited you to dinner, I fully expected you
to break my nose again. I had no idea what to do or say after you
Fry only smiled
Zapp swallowed. He
looked down at the menu, then at the landscape painting on the wall,
then at Fry again. “I have something to confess,” he
said slowly. “Ever since you and I first met, I’ve acted
very off-putting towards you, almost to the point of obnoxiousness
sometimes. But I had a reason for behaving that way. The whole
purpose of my swaggering, womanizing, macho-man routine was…well,
it was to hide my true feelings for you.”
“Yes, I know,”
said Fry. “You think I’m sexy.”
Zapp earnestly. “I mean, yes, I do find you attractive,
but my feelings go deeper than that, far deeper.”
He’s trying to
talk me into bed, Fry’s mind thought as Leela’s face
gazed and smiled. And it’s working.
“Over the course
of my, er, stellar career, I’ve had dozens of women on
dozens of planets,” Zapp related. “But I’d trade
them all for you without a second thought. They’re nothing
more than hunks of meat to me, but you…you mean
something special to me.”
I don’t know
if I’m ready for such an intense female experience, thought
Fry. I don’t know what it’ll do to me. I may just
forget who I really am…forget how to be a guy.
strong, intelligent, fearless,” Zapp continued. “I
admire such attributes in a man, but I treasure them in a woman.”
I should get the
hell out of here, Fry’s mind said to itself, but I’m
too enraptured to even move.
Sweat formed on Zapp’s
brow as he inserted his hand into his pocket and fumbled for an item.
“There is a point to what I’m saying, Leela,”
he said, “and I’ll get to it, in just a second.”
His face is
positively glowing, thought Fry.
Finally the nervous
spaceman drew out a small black case. As he pulled the lid open,
Fry’s eye caught a glimpse of candlelight reflecting off a
“As Elzar is so
fond of saying,” said Zapp, setting the little box down in
front of Leela’s face, “…bam!”
The sight of the ring
left him too startled to speak or think.
said Captain Brannigan, lowering himself onto one knee, “will
you marry me?”
Alarms went off all
throughout Leela’s body, and consternation filled Fry’s
mind. Zapp Brannigan wants to marry me? What the hell…?
“I love you,
Leela,” said Zapp, taking him gently by the hand. “I
want you, and no one else. Please say you’ll marry me.”
I can’t marry
him, thought Fry with regret. I’m sure we’d have
a wonderful life together, but I have to give this body back at the
end of the month.
he blurted out.
said Zapp, visibly disappointed. “What’s stopping you?”
“I’m…I’m really…I’m really busy
right now. Could you propose to me again in a month?” Whew.
Scowling, Zapp climbed
back into his seat, closed the box containing the diamond ring, and
peered at Leela. “You’re still in love with that pirate
Foss,” he said suspiciously. “Fascinating fellow, yes,
but no moral values at all—I know, because I’ve been
inside his mind.”
“This is not
about Foss…I mean, Philaster,” said Fry.
“In that case,”
said Zapp, “it won’t make any difference to you that Foss
has stolen the essence of your robot comrade, Bender, and converted
it into a wristwatch.”
“What are you
Zapp stowed the ring
case in his pocket, and pulled an object from the opposite pocket—a
watch with a robotic face engraved on it. As Fry gaped incredulously
at the timepiece, the voice of Bender himself sounded: “What’re
you staring at, chump? Oh, Leela, it’s you. Sorry…”
All at once, Fry became
blind with anger. “That monster!” he exclaimed. “How
can he do such a thing to my buddy?”
more like it,” said Zapp with satisfaction. “Now, can we
get back to the question of our getting married?”
Fry closed his eyelid
tightly and struggled to calm down. “Take me home, Zapp,”
I don’t get
it, thought Captain Brannigan glumly. I followed your
suggestion and changed the date to 7 p.m., but look what happened!
Trust me, Zapp,
said the mysterious voice in his head. If you had tried to meet
Leela at 7:30, things would have turned out much worse. At least her
answer wasn’t an outright ‘no’.
I’m not taking
any more advice until you tell me who you are and how you’re
communicating with me, thought Zapp.
that if I were you, said the voice.
He retired early that
night, and slept fitfully—partly because of what he had felt
and experienced, and partly because Leela’s mattress was too
soft. I can’t believe I let myself go like that, he
thought. I was almost to the point of really thinking I was a
girl. And I’ve got to put up with these crazy emotions for
four more weeks… His wrist console, which he had left
lying on a nightstand, buzzed insistently. It’s probably
Zapp, he thought, and rolled over in the bed.
Leela and Mildred, in
the meantime, were exiting the local googolplex after sitting through
a viewing of Scary Movie 999 (tagline: “Turn it upside
down and you get 666.”). “I swear, those Scary Movie
sequels get better with every passing year,” Leela remarked.
“How many have
you seen?” Mildred asked him. “The series didn’t
start until after you were frozen.”
Leela’s mind. Gotta keep up the ‘naïve
20th-century guy’ act.
“Hey, is that a
wild parrot?” said Leela in an attempt to change the subject.
Mildred looked into the
alley at which Fry was pointing. “I love wild parrots,”
she said. “Where is it? I don’t see it.”
While her head was
turned, Leela took an impulsive peek down her V-cut blouse. There
I go again, she thought. They’re just boobs. Why am I
so fascinated by them?
As the pair walked
along the lighted street toward the transit tube, Leela picked up his
cell phone. “I’d better see how Leela’s doing,”
he said, and dialed her number.
The wrist console
buzzed again. Give it up, Zapp, thought Fry drowsily.
Leela closed her phone.
“She’s not back yet,” she said with chagrin. “And
it’s already 10 p.m. I hope they’re not doing what I
know they’re doing.” Poor Fry, stuck with my body and
my biological urges. How could he refuse a smooth talker like Zapp?
At the Robot Arms
building, they found Bender hard at work, trying to lift a ball of
dark matter from the carpet. “Cleanup in aisle infinity,”
the robot grumbled.
said Leela, scolding the little fanged creature. “You’re
a guest in this house, so I expect you to show some manners.”
“Oh, how cute!”
gushed Mildred as she knelt down to tickle Nibbler’s chin. The
Nibblonian uttered a high-pitched squeal of delight.
said Bender, and Fry stooped over to assist him with the waste
Mildred stood up and
watched the roommates struggle. “It doesn’t look that
heavy,” she remarked.
weight…of a thousand suns,” Leela grunted.
mean that literally,” said Mildred. “An object with the
weight of a thousand suns would suck up the entire planet with its
“Spare me the
science lesson, Little Orphan Annie,” said Bender.
After they had solved
the problem by slowly rolling the dark matter up a ramp and into the
litter box, Leela bid farewell to Mildred. “I had a good time,
even though it wasn’t really a date,” she said.
“I had a good
time too,” said Mildred, and her blouse drooped as she leaned
over to kiss Fry’s cheek. Not the boobs again, thought
Leela. Look away…look away…
After a few more
unsuccessful attempts to contact Fry, Leela went to bed and slept
fitfully—partly because of her concern over what her
counterpart might be doing with Zapp, partly because Fry’s
mattress was hard and lumpy. As sleep began to overcome her, she
thought she felt Nibbler’s meat-scented breath against her
face. “Good widdle Nibbler,” she muttered.
I hope the presence
of Leela’s consciousness in the Chosen One’s body doesn’t
complicate matters, thought Lord Nibbler as he extended his third
eye in the direction of Fry’s nose. There was a brief flash,
and the young man’s eyes flew open.
Leela blurted out involuntarily.
Her mind was in a whirl
as she looked around the room. Nibbler was nowhere to be seen.
mumbled, and fell into a deep slumber.
She awoke the next
morning in a state of considerable confusion, even beyond what she
naturally felt from being male. Strange scenes had unfolded to her
mind during the night, and she wasn’t sure if they were dreams
or memories. Nibbler can talk? Brains from outer space? Nibbler
She yawned, climbed out
of the uncomfortable bed, and started to put on a pair of khakis.
She had one leg in and the other halfway through, when a booming male
voice startled her: “Good morning, Leela.”
Nibbler was standing
before her, a sober expression on his black-and-white face. Leela
looked everywhere, but saw no one else who could have spoken.
The voice came again,
and Nibbler’s lips moved to it. “I’m sorry about
the mess on the carpet last night. I can’t appear too
intelligent to your friends, can I?”
Leela nearly stumbled
over the slacks. “You…you can talk,” she
stammered. “And you know I’m really Leela. It wasn’t
else in the dream is real too,” mused Leela as her pants fell
down around her ankles. “The space brains…the
destruction of Tweenis 12…the attack on Earth…the feast
of a thousand hams.”
correct,” said Nibbler, his stentorian tone reminding Leela of
any number of newscasters. “The dumbening powers of the
Brainspawn caused you to forget these events, but I have made them
resurface through my powers of telepathy.”
coming back now,” said Leela thoughtfully. “You sent me
to deliver a message to Fry, but as soon as I landed on Earth, my
brain stopped working and I turned into an idiot like everyone else.
Everyone else except for Fry, because…because his brain’s
brain lacks the delta wave,” said Nibbler, “a signal
emitted from all intelligent life forms, sufficiently advanced
computers, and some trees. This uniqueness of his brain enables him,
and him alone, to withstand the influence of the Brainspawn.”
well and good,” said Leela, “but why are you telling me
all this, instead of Fry?”
The Nibblonian gave him
a condescending stare.
Struck with a terrible
realization, Leela sat down on the edge of the bed and put her head
in her hands. “Crap,” she muttered. “Crappity
crap crap crap.”
“I regret to
inform you that now you are the Chosen One,” said
Nibbler. “But I see you’ve figured it out on your own.”
said Leela with resignation. “So I’m the Chosen One.
But that doesn’t mean anything now, does it? The space brains
are gone. Your people ate them all.”
contraire,” said Nibbler. “The Brainspawn have
returned, more powerful than ever.”
light-years from Earth, Captain Kif Kroker of the DOOP starship
Nimbus sat rigidly in his chair, his fingers tented, his eyes rolled
back into his head. His senior staff members stood at attention on
the bridge, wondering how long it would take their captain to reach a
Kif finally said, “replay the Cirrus’ final transmission
one more time.”
The bridge speakers
came to life, echoing the words of Captain Amelie Beauchamp: “We
have responded to the distress call from planet Azaria Prime, only to
find a civilization in chaos and ruin. No one responds to our hails.
There’s no evidence of an alien attack. Wait…our
sensors have detected a massive object in orbit around the planet.
Sphere-shaped, diameter approximately six hundred kilometers, about
the size of a small moon—but Azaria Prime has no moon.
The Cirrus is moving in closer to investigate. We’re being
scanned! The object is breaking orbit…good God, it’s a
ship! It’s moving toward us with incredible
speed…bombarding us with some sort of radiation beam…the
crew’s biological signs are stable, but I feel real funny, and
I dunno why. Hey, look at that big ball! I don’t wanna play
with big ball, I wanna play with dollies! Why nobody play dollies
with me? Here shiny red button. Me push shiny red button and find
out what shiny red button do. Maybe ship go boom boom…”
The recording suddenly
ended. Kif lowered his hands. “Whatever we’re dealing
with,” he said ominously, “it’s powerful enough to
make a seasoned veteran like Captain Beauchamp disregard the DOOP’s
Prime Directive—never push the shiny red button.”
“What do you
suggest we do, sir?” asked his first mate, a man with arched
eyebrows and pointed ears.
“Open a channel
to Earth, Mr. Spork,” Kif ordered. “Get the Planet
Express company on the line.”
Leela arrived at the PE
building with an unshaven face and disheveled hair. To her surprise,
Fry had reported for work before her; to her added surprise, his face
and hair were in a similar state of disarray. It appeared to her
that he hadn’t bothered to wash off the makeup he had applied
the previous night.
exclaimed Leela as she marched into the cyclops’ office.
exclaimed Fry as he stood up from his chair.
to switch back, now!” they yelled at each other in
They blinked a few
times. Fry’s stomach gurgled.
“Zapp proposed to
me,” said Fry.
dropped. Her eyes bulged. She fell forward in a dead faint.
Dr. Zoidberg was using
his claws to hammer plywood slats over the hole in his clinic’s
wall, when he heard a voice call out his name. “I’m
coming, I am!” he exclaimed, quickly putting his stethoscope
around his neck.
He rushed into Leela’s
office and saw a red-headed man prostrate on a sheet. “What
happened to him?” he inquired of the cyclops.
“Lack of oxygen
to the brain,” said Zoidberg frantically. “Hook him up
to a ventilator, stat!”
“Or, you could
wait until he regains consciousness,” Fry suggested.
doctor here, you or me?” said Zoidberg.
As the lobster tried to
resuscitate Leela, Professor Farnsworth’s head appeared in the
doorway, his jar wedged under Bender’s arm. “Good news,
everyone!” he proclaimed. “Kif Kroker has asked us to
make a delivery to the Nimbus.”
said Fry. “Deliver what?”
Brannigan,” Farnsworth replied. “His expertise is needed
in an alien first-contact situation.”
“And why is that
good news?” Fry asked him.
said the professor, “you’re all going.”
Zapp Brannigan appeared
to be the happiest man in the universe. “It’s good to be
back in my red velour uniform,” he said, patting his washboard
abs. Welcoming him to the PE docking bay were Farnsworth’s
head, Fry, Amy, Zoidberg, Bender, Hermes, Cubert, and Leela, who was
grotesquely sprawled over a chair, Fry’s tongue lolling out of
“It remains to be
seen whether Kif will let you resume command of the Nimbus,”
said the professor. “After all, the jury’s still out on
whether you’re mentally capable.”
I’m equally useful in an advisory capacity,” Zapp assured
him. “Now, who’s the lucky crew that will escort me to
the great beyond?”
cried Amy, waving her arms.
maybe?” said Zoidberg.
need some muscle in case things get hairy,” said Bender.
“Count me in.”
said Zapp. “We’ll need a pilot. I choose the lovely,
capable Turanga Leela.”
Fry grimaced with
displeasure. “Uh, we’ll need a delivery boy as well,”
he stated. “I choose the handsome, temporarily unconscious
Philip J. Fry.”
“Wake up, mon,”
said Hermes, nudging Leela’s limp head with his knee. “You’ve
mumbled Leela as she emerged from her stupor. The moment she laid
eyes on Zapp, she screamed in terror.
Fry,” said Fry. “You’re just having a bad dream.”
said Leela, glaring indignantly at Zapp. “A bad dream that
won’t go away.”
said Farnsworth. “Now, the Azaria solar system is 8,000
light-years away, so the journey will take four days. You’ll
need to stock up on food, reading materials, and in Bender’s
like to read too,” said Bender, showing off his stack of
“Wait just a
minute,” Cubert chimed in. “Did I hear you say 8,000
light-years? Why, at Raven’s top speed of 45 times light,
it’ll take you 178 years to cover that distance. By the time
you get there, you’ll all be as old as the professor.”
“Kill the boy,”
said Zoidberg, snapping his claws. “He knows too much.”
Leela stood up quickly.
“Before we leave,” she told the others, “there’s
something I have to do.”
Before Bender had a
chance to say, “The ship’s got a toilet, Fry,” the
young redhead had absconded with Farnsworth’s head, and the
cyclops had followed him.
They set down the
professor’s jar on a table in the laboratory. “We can’t
go on this trip the way we are,” Leela insisted. “We’ve
got to reverse the body switch, and we’ve got to do it now.”
insane!” Farnsworth protested. “Switching back so soon
may cause irreparable damage to your brains.”
wants to marry me!” said Leela earnestly. “Even
worse, he thinks Fry is me, and he wants to marry Fry!” I
can’t let them know that I’m really trying to weasel out
of being the Chosen One, thought Leela’s mind. I don’t
want become a coward in their eyes.
not all,” said Fry. “Zapp thinks I’m a pilot, but
I don’t know the first thing about flying a spaceship, or even
the second thing.”
“These are all
valid concerns,” said Farnsworth. “But when weighed
against the risk of permanent brain damage, they come up wanting. My
answer is still no.”
Fry and Leela faced
each other with determination. “It looks like we’ll have
to go over the professor’s head on this one,” said Fry.
Frinkomatic from a nearby shelf, they put their hands around the
grips and held the device above Farnsworth’s head jar.
“Activating…now,” said Leela, flipping the power
Five second passed.
you,” said Leela to Fry. “What’s wrong?”
powers, activate!” exclaimed Fry.
happened. “That didn’t do it either,” said Leela.
Jesus!” said Farnsworth as he looked upward. “Someone’s
tampered with the Frinkomatic!”
“How do you
know?” Fry asked him.
“The door to the
compartment housing the main induction coil is open,” replied
the professor, “and the main induction coil isn’t there.”
does that mean?” said Leela.
answered Farnsworth, “that you may as well try to switch bodies
using a food processor.”
Fry and Leela rested
the device on the table, and gave each other quizzical looks. Then
Fry pointed a finger at the professor’s jar. “You
did this!” he snapped.
Farnsworth incredulously. “With what? My false teeth?”
said Leela as the truth became clear to her. “It was Nibbler.”
Fry gaped at her, then
started to laugh.
serious,” said Leela. “Nibbler is really a highly
evolved alien. I learned of his true nature when the space brains
attacked Earth, making everybody stupid.”
said Fry mockingly. “Are you making this stuff up on the spot?
It’s really good.”
to keep our minds open to all possibilities,” said Farnsworth’s
head. “If Nibbler did steal the induction coil, where
would he hide it?”
hide it,” said Leela. “He would eat it.”
moaned Fry. “That means we’ve got to find another body
switcher, and pronto.”
time for that now,” said the professor. “The delivery is
more important. Entire worlds may hang in the balance.”
thought Leela’s mind. And I’m the only one who can
save them. I wish I’d stayed in bed.
When Zapp boarded the
delivery ship called Raven, his first thought was, wow. “How
many of your souls did you have to sell for this baby?” he
know and I don’t care,” the robot replied.
The cargo bay was
spacious and clean. The passenger quarters featured soundproof walls
and automatically folding beds. The lounge was furnished with a
leather couch, a refrigerator, and even a dishwasher. Everything
about the ship’s interior reflected the latest developments in
human-centered design. “I hate it,” grumbled Zoidberg.
“Everything’s so square. There’s no room for
change your opinion when you see the medical bay,” said Zapp.
He and Zoidberg climbed
down the inter-deck stairway to find the sickbay, which had been
built with a pleasantly rectangular shape to accommodate the many
beds. “Hooray!” exclaimed the lobster. “Here I
can comfortably scuttle from one patient to another. And what’s
this?” He flipped a wall switch with his claw, and a short man
with unruly hair, a black goatee, and a white smock appeared. “An
emergency medical hologram, maybe?”
said the grinning holographic doctor.
Dr. Nick Riviera,” said Zoidberg, “the inventor of the
“Hi, Dr. Nick,”
service,” said the hologram. “I am programmed to offer
medical assistance in case the ship’s medical officer should
meet with an unfortunate accident.”
“That would be
him,” said Zoidberg, waving his claw at Zapp.
On the bridge, Fry and
Leela were buckling themselves into the Corinthian leather chairs.
“Zoidberg’s got Zapp distracted in sickbay,” said
Leela. “If I take off now, he won’t get a chance to ask
why it looks like Fry’s piloting the ship.”
She punched a few
buttons on the control stick, and the ship began to rise. The
rumbling and quivering that commonly occurred when launching the old
ship were gone; the antigrav boosters made the takeoff feel like
riding an elevator. “Warning,” droned Raven’s
computer voice. “Impulse engines will engage in five seconds.
leaving already?” marveled Zapp.
said Zoidberg. “Grab on to something.”
As the rockets flared
and the ship trembled, Zapp threw his arms around Zoidberg and
squeezed tightly. Bender, who was in the lavatory expelling his used
robot oil, stretched his arms and pressed firmly against the walls.
Lying in bed, Amy pushed a button to activate a confinement field to
hold herself in place.
Raven lurched forward
and sped toward the stratosphere, the sudden G-forces knocking Zapp
and Zoidberg off their feet. “What did you grab me
for?” asked the lobster as he pulled himself up from the
available,” said Zapp, shrugging.
They passed through the
section of the atmosphere that formerly housed the ozone layer, and
found themselves in open space. “Escape velocity achieved,”
said Raven. “Switching to automatic pilot. Estimated time of
arrival at destination: four days, five hours, thirty-two minutes.
Enjoy your trip.”
Leela smiled with
satisfaction. “Now let’s switch seats before Zapp comes
back,” she recommended.
Fry unfastened his
shoulder straps, and the odd sensation in his chest went away. “You
know, Leela,” he said, standing up, “maybe we should tell
Zapp the truth about our body switch.”
that?” said Leela.
“Well, he is
stuck on the ship with us for the next four days. Imagine how
weirded out he’ll be if he has to pass the whole time knowing
that Fry’s really Leela and Leela’s really Fry.”
Leela grinned as she
sank into the pilot’s seat. “That’s a great idea,”
she remarked. “Up to now he’s made us
uncomfortable, so perhaps it’s time to turn the tables.”
relativistic effects, minutes seemed to drag on like hours over the
course of the long faster-than-light voyage. Gathered around a table
in the lounge, Amy, Zoidberg, Zapp, and Bender amused themselves by
playing the board game Monopolypse.
exulted Amy. “You’ve landed on Ventnor Avenue. That’s
occupied by my militia!”
Zoidberg groaned and
clawed over ten trillion dollars in Hyperinflated Currency.
Chest,” said Zapp, drawing a card from the pile. “Found
medical supplies. Two hundred billion, plus immunity against next
should be mine, they should,” complained Zoidberg.
said Bender, rolling the dice. “One…two…three…aww,
“Go directly to
the Radioactive Crater,” said Zapp triumphantly. “You
won’t get out of there until one of us rolls a six or
Bender pouted. “I hate losing! I hate hate hate hate
Bender,” said Amy. “It’s only a game. It’s
not like you’re really in 23rd-century
Meanwhile, Leela and
Fry lay together on the bed in Fry’s quarters, staring
thoughtfully at the ceiling. “Tell me, Fry,” said Leela
without turning her head, “what do you like best about my
Fry. “Nobody’s ever asked me that before. If I had to
pick a favorite part, I’d say…your neck.”
“Why my neck?”
Leela asked him. “Why not my boobs, or my…”
“My own neck pops
when I turn it too far,” was Fry’s response. “Then
it pops when I turn it forward again. Your neck isn’t like
said Leela, who promptly began to turn Fry’s neck in an effort
to make it pop.
“I have a
question for you now,” said Fry seriously.
it,” said Leela.
Fry breathed deeply
before speaking. “If you want a baby so badly, why have you
never said anything?”
widened. “A baby? Who says I want a baby?”
“Your body does.”
Fry closed his eye and sighed. “All I have to do is
imagine myself with a cuddly little baby in my arms…”
“Knock it off,
Fry,” said Leela. Suddenly she heard Fry’s cell phone
ringing in her pocket. “Hello?” she spoke into it.
came a familiar voice. “It’s Mildred.”
Leela in surprise. “I didn’t know I could get cell phone
calls in space.”
can’t,” said Mildred, “but I can, ever since I
upgraded my calling plan.”
“Excuse me, Fry,”
said Leela, climbing out of the bed.
She continued the
exchange with Mildred outside the doorway. “What are you
calling about?” she asked.
“I just wanted to
see how you’re doing,” was the girl’s reply. “I
stopped by the Planet Express HQ, and the robot maid told me you were
on a long space voyage.”
said Leela disinterestedly.
“I figured you
were probably bored,” Mildred went on, “so I thought I’d
call you and try to knock things up a notch.”
“Could you please
repeat that?” said Leela. “There’s some static on
funny,” said Mildred. “I don’t hear any static.”
She raised her voice. “Can you hear me now?”
Back in the lounge,
Zapp was preparing to move his playing piece (a tiny armored tank)
when something very disturbing happened. Hello, Captain
Brannigan, uttered the strange voice in his head.
He nearly knocked over
the game board when he bolted to his feet. What the hell? I
thought I’d be rid of you in outer space!
wrong?” inquired Amy.
No, I’m still
with you, said the voice. And in view of what you’re
about to come up against, I strongly suggest that you accept my help.
Zapp looked around at
the perplexed expressions of Amy, Zoidberg, and Bender. “Uh,
I’m all right,” he said sheepishly. “Continue with
the game.” With that he hurried out of the lounge, shaking his
Zoidberg lay down his
playing piece (a miniature semi-automatic rifle). “If he’s
all right,” he remarked, “then I’m Queen
Elizabeth’s head. Excuse me.”
The doctor scuttled
away quickly, and found Captain Brannigan leaning against a wall in
the corridor, rubbing his temples with his fingers. “You look
like you’ve seen a space ghost,” he said. “Is
something troubling you?”
replied Zapp weakly.
troubling you,” said Zoidberg, “or yes, you’ve seen
a space ghost?”
not talk about it here,” said Zapp.
spaceman followed Zoidberg into the medical bay, sat down on the edge
of a bed, and started to remove his shirt. “You won’t
need to do that,” said the lobster.
“I always take
off my shirt before a medical examination,” Zapp told him, “and
before Kif gives me my daily aromatherapy massage.”
said Zoidberg. Stethoscope in hand, he pressed the cold metal
against various parts of Zapp’s chest and abdomen.
“Hmm…heartrate 110 over 70…cholesterol level
135…hello, what’s this?” He stepped back and
extended his hand. “My congratulations, captain.”
said Zapp incredulously. “But I’m a man! How’s
me,” said the doctor. “You’re the
Zapp heaved a sigh of
frustration. “Just examine my head, all right?” he
The next voice he heard
was the one in his head: Don’t tell the crustacean about
I? he thought.
Because you don’t
want to hurt him, said the voice. Zoidberg rummaged through his
bag for a medical implement, oblivious to the conversation taking
place in Zapp’s brain.
That answer makes no
sense, thought Zapp.
Then a demonstration
is in order, he heard.
see,” mumbled Zoidberg, setting items aside as he drew them
from his satchel. “Tooth puller, tongue depressor, scalpel,
knee knocker, rubbing alcohol, snake bite kit…where is that
confounded brain scanner? I hope I didn’t lose it at the
You think I don’t
want to hurt Dr. Zoidberg, thought Zapp. Well, I’ve got
news for you. I don’t just want to hurt him, I want to kill
him. That arrogant walking seafood platter has humiliated me more
times than I can stomach…
The scalpel lay on the
edge of the table, glinting in the artificial light. Zoidberg stood
hunched over his medical bag. This is my chance, thought
Zapp, stealthily reaching for the blade. No one will miss that
babbling quack when he’s…
hell am I thinking?
Puzzled beyond measure,
Zapp gaped at his hand and the scalpel that sat only a fraction of an
inch away from his fingertips. The anger…the
bloodlust…it’s gone. But where did it come from? I
thought I was cured!
“Hooray, I found
it!” exclaimed Zoidberg, clutching a small box with buttons and
sensors in one of his claws. “Now then, Captain Brannigan…”
Turning, he discovered
that the spaceman had disappeared.
Zapp was at that moment
in the lavatory, kneeling, bowing his head over the toilet, fighting
back the urge to vomit. I was going to kill Dr. Zoidberg, he
mused in horror. I thought I was past all that, but now it’s
coming back. And the voice in my head…God help me, am I
losing my mind?
Let that be a lesson
to you, the voice said to him. Do not tell your friends about
me, or they will suffer.
thought Zapp bitterly. Who are you? He heard no more.
A few yards away,
Leela’s phone exchange with Mildred wound to a close. “I
wish you good luck on your mission,” said the girl.
“Whatever’s out there, I hope you and Captain Brannigan
kick its butt.”
Mildred,” said Leela in Fry’s voice. “Thanks for
calling. Take care.”
The moment she folded
the cell phone, she was confronted by her own eager face. “Let’s
tell Zapp now,” Fry said through it. “We’re
a day’s journey from Earth, so he can’t make us turn
Leela smiled. “Yeah,
you’re right. Let’s do it.”
“Here he comes,”
Zapp strode in their
direction, his face a whiter shade of pale. He walked past without a
word or even a nod. Leela and Fry watched him vanish around a corner
and marveled at his distraught appearance.
he went to a zombie rave and got totally plastered,” Fry
suppose he already knows, do you?” said Leela.
said Fry with a shrug. “So, what did Mildred have to say?”
mainly,” replied Leela. “She had a few questions about
the mission, but I deflected them as best I could. You’d think
an employee at a top-secret research lab would know better than to
ask probing questions about someone else’s work.”
Earth, a spacious
office with cherry-paneled walls and a picture window offering a
broad view of New New York. There stood Mildred, wearing a white
uniform with a skirt, a badge pinned to her chest identifying her as
the possessor of a level-7 security clearance. Before her, atop a
wide, bare, very clean desk, sat a bald, wizened, very old head in a
contact with the Planet Express ship,” Mildred reported
“And the signal?”
said the head with urgency.
crystal,” the girl responded. “The experiment was a
The old man’s
head grinned wickedly. “Eeeexcellent.”
Leela awoke refreshed
and alert on the third morning of the space voyage. She yawned,
stretched, and felt a stiffness in her muscles from her exercise
regimen of the previous day. Only one cure for that, she
thought, and slipped back into Fry’s gym shorts. Without
bothering to put on a shirt, she dropped to the floor, executed fifty
flawless push-ups, stood, and began to jog around the corridors of
the new ship. It’s the first time I’ve gone topless
since switching with Fry, she mused. It’s so strange.
She found Zapp on the
bridge, lounging in the captain’s seat, staring blankly at the
stars through bleary, half-closed eyes. The spaceman swiveled to
face her, and she felt an impulse to cover her chest that quickly
passed. “Morning, Fry,” he mumbled.
said Leela, running in place. “You could use a shave, you
“So could you,
soldier,” said Zapp.
Leela glanced down at
her (Fry’s) legs and was startled by their hairiness. He’s
talking about my face, she reminded herself.
sleep,” said Zapp wearily. “I’ve been sitting here
all night, thinking about Captain Beauchamp, the Cirrus, Azaria
Prime, and the thing that destroyed them. A ship the size of
a moon, equipped with some type of intelligence-inhibiting beam?
It’s too fantastic for even me to imagine.”
It’s gotta be
the Brainspawn, thought Leela. But what would they need with
a giant spaceship?
“Nothing in my
experience has prepared me to face such an enemy,” Zapp went
on. “I hope this delivery won’t prove to be a waste of
intuition isn’t functioning at the moment, but I don’t
need it to see that Zapp’s got demons within as well as
without. “You’ll do just fine,” Leela assured
From deep within the
bowels of Raven, she heard Fry’s cell phone play Walking on
Sunshine once again. “Must be Mildred,” she said
aloud to herself. “She’s been calling me five times a
She tried to jog away,
but Zapp seized her by the arm. “I’d watch my back if I
were you,” he advised. “That woman’s part
Chalnoth. She’s got only half of what we like to call a
sir,” said Leela, shaking off the spaceman’s grip.
On the way to her
quarters she passed Bender, who was also running, and waving his arms
as well. “Danger! Danger!” the robot wailed at the top
of his voice circuits.
danger?” Leela asked him.
confinement leading to spurious input sensor signals!” Bender
ranted. “Consequence: delusional, panicked robot!”
“Oh, I get it,”
said Leela calmly. “You’ve got cabin fever.”
what I just said, Amy!” exclaimed Bender, and he rushed off,
spouting, “Danger! Danger!”
The phone had been
ringing for over a minute by the time Leela reached it. “Hello?”
Mildred,” said a pleasant girl’s voice. “I hope
this isn’t a bad time.”
a bad time,” said Leela. It’s always a bad time. I
wish I could bring myself to hang up, but the poor girl’s so
much like me…
“I assume you’re
keeping the same hours, even though you’re in space,”
said Mildred. “I’d hate to call at the wrong time and
wake you up.”
sweat it,” said Leela.
“I know how much
you like parrots,” said Mildred’s voice. “There’s
going to be an exhibit of trained parrots at Madison Cube Garden a
week from Friday. If you’re still alive by then, maybe we can
eh?” said Leela with interest. “What are they trained to
“All kinds of
tricks,” Mildred answered. “And talking, of course.
According to the ad, there’s one parrot who can recite all the
works of Shakespeare and Shakespeare’s cloned head, and another
parrot who can tell the future.”
really cool,” said Leela, straining to make conversation.
“Back in the 20th century everybody had a
parrot. They were as common as pigeons are now. But they didn’t
say much; mostly all they did was swear.”
“Life was so
different back then,” said Mildred wistfully. “I love
listening to your stories, Philip. It’s like getting in a time
capsule and going back in time.”
Just as Leela opened
her mouth in the hope that she would think of something to say, the
door to her room slid open and Captain Brannigan appeared, his
bloodshot eyes now fixed with determination. “Yes, Zapp?”
she said politely.
Without speech or
hesitation, he lunged forward and snatched the phone from her hand,
closing it and ending the call. Locating a waste ejection port in
the wall next to the mirror, he thrust the phone inside and pushed
the button, causing the communication device to be hurled into deep
space, where it gravitated toward the gigantic ball of garbage
launched from Earth a year earlier.
“What are you
doing?” Leela blurted out. I mean, besides sparing me from
making a total ass of myself on the phone with Mildred?
all our lives,” was Zapp’s response. The voice in my
mind…it cut off, just like that! I’m free of it!
weisenheimer,” said Leela, hands on hips. “Explain how
ejecting Fry’s…er, my cell phone is supposed to
save us all from destruction.”
Zapp fingered his chin
and looked at the ceiling. “They’re all connected,”
he mused. “The voice, Fry’s girlfriend, my cure…if
only I could remember what happened!”
impatiently. “First of all, she’s not my
girlfriend. Second, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t
bring my girlfriend into this.”
“And why not?”
said Zapp sharply. “I knew that mongrel was trouble since you
first laid eyes on her.”
“Shut your yap,
Zapp!” Leela snapped. “I’ve had all I can take of
your racist claptrap!” Now you’ve got me speaking in
insubordination, officer,” said Zapp, his tone grim. “I’ve
every right to clean your clock…”
worried. I’m a guy now. He won’t think twice.
some inexplicable reason, I lack the desire.”
Zapp turned and walked
quietly away. Leela, driven by curiosity, followed him all the way
to Zoidberg’s clinic. In the distance they heard Bender’s
voice, persistently warning them of danger.
The doctor was
standing, but his eyes were closed and a wheezing sound periodically
emerged from his throat. The sound of footsteps aroused him, and he
snapped to attention. Zapp and what appeared to be Fry were staring
at him with bemused expressions. “What?” said the
crustacean. “So I sleep on my feet. It’s how I’ve
survived all these years without a home.”
“Well, now that
you’re up,” said Zapp, “I’d like that brain
scan I asked for the other day.”
As Leela watched,
Zoidberg swept the head-examining device back and forth along the
captain’s temple. “When Fry told me that his girlfriend
called him five times a day,” Zapp explained, “it
occurred to me that the voice spoke to me five times a day,
more or less.”
“I have an idea,”
said Leela sarcastically. “Maybe the voice in your head is God
praying to you.”
said Zapp, ignoring her, “that’s how I figured out that
somebody was using Mildred’s calls to send messages to
Leela recalled. “Now that you mention it, there was
some static on the line.”
said Zapp with a wave of his hand. “The static, as you call
it, must have been a piggybacked signal.”
“But a signal’s
no good unless there’s a receiver at the other end,”
said Zoidberg, gaping in amazement at the readout of his instrument.
“You mean, like the microchip implanted in the captain’s
dropped a mile.
“Did I hear you
correctly?” said the astonished Zapp.
“I said, there’s
a microchip implanted in your frontal lobe,” said Zoidberg,
showing the brain scanner’s display to the captain. “Is
that what you heard?”
unblinkingly at the magnetic image of his brain, and the unmistakable
tiny black rectangle near the front. “Holy mother of God!”
he exclaimed. “How did that get inside my head?”
“Your guess is as
good as mine,” said Zoidberg. “Well, not quite as
good, since I’m a doctor and you’re not.”
Zapp stood up from the
bed and started to pace, deep in troubled thought. “I get a
routine scan every month to check for brain slug larvae,” he
muttered. “The last one was two weeks ago, and it was clean.
Since then I’ve escorted the Grumbian ambassador to a peace
conference, engaged in ritual sex with said ambassador, protected a
fleet of science vessels in the Cerulean Nebula, been captured and
brainwashed by space pirates, checked myself into a mental
institution, undergone several failed treatments and one successful
treatment which I can’t even remember, enjoyed a dinner date
with the lovely, luscious Leela, and boarded a ship full of half-wits
on a mission to the Azaria system. Somewhere over the course of that
long list of accomplishments, I ended up with a chip in my brain.”
been the successful treatment,” said Leela through Fry’s
mouth, “since you can’t remember what happened.”
be so sure,” said Zapp. “I passed out during the ritual
“You say the
voice didn’t start speaking to you until after you received the
cure,” Zoidberg postulated. “Perhaps, therefore, the
chip is the cure.”
Zapp pondered the
doctor’s statement for a long moment. “I don’t
recall undergoing surgery,” he said, “but it’s
always possible that the surgeon implanted fake memories of being
strapped in a chair with my eyes pried open, listening to Beethoven’s
an experiment, shall we?” said Zoidberg, his eyes lighting up.
“Raven, I’d like to request a selection of classical
composer, name of composition, opus number, conductor, and ensemble,”
said the ship’s computer voice.
Beethoven, Symphony no. 9 in D Minor, Opus 125,” said Zoidberg.
“As for the rest, surprise me.”
A split second later,
the speakers in the medical bay’s ceiling burst forth with
Beethoven’s famous Ode to Joy chorus. As Leela and
Zoidberg hummed along to the familiar tune, Zapp felt a buildup of
pain and horror within his mind. Three measures later he was
clutching his head in agony.
“Turn it off!”
he pleaded. “For God’s sake, turn it off!”
complied, and the music ended. Zoidberg and Leela saw Zapp on his
knees, pale and panting. “Very interesting,” remarked
“So much pain,”
Zapp mumbled deliriously. “I couldn’t move. I couldn’t
think. There was nothing but the pain, and the darkness, and…and
Kurt Cobain fan!” said Fry, walking into the sickbay in Leela’s
Bender followed close
behind. “Keep it down in here!” the robot demanded.
“I’m trying to play Tetris in my head.”
Amy was the next to
enter. “What is this, Japanese New Year’s?” said
the Asian girl, whose hair was set with square curlers.
you’re all here,” said Zoidberg to Bender, Leela, Fry,
Amy, and the recovering Zapp. “As you can plainly see, our
dear Captain Brannigan is experiencing flashbacks of a torturous
ordeal he endured while being forced to listen to Beethoven’s
“You mean a
classical music concert?” said Fry.
“No, my one-eyed
friend,” was Zoidberg’s response. “’Twas
something even more sinister—a diabolical act of surgery
by which the normal operation of his brain was altered by the
introduction of a microprocessor.”
possibly restate that in slang?” Fry asked him.
“If you insist,”
said the doctor. “The captain has been…zombie-chipped.”
Gasps went up from
Leela, Amy, and Bender. “I thought that was just an urban
legend,” said Leela in wonder.
legend?” said Fry excitedly. “You mean like the guy who
goes into a bar, and somebody slips him a mickey, and the next thing
he knows, he’s sitting in a tub of ice water, and his kidneys
“That was no
legend,” Amy told him. “The Bush Administration declared
a War on Organ Harvesting right after it won the War on Terror.”
“I guess Fry’s
never heard of the zombie chip,” said Leela—much to the
surprise of Zapp, who wondered why Fry was referring to himself in
the third person. “Three years ago a story appeared in all the
tabloid magazines, claiming that President McNeil had been abducted
by hostile aliens and surgically altered with a microchip that forced
him to obey their commands. There was no evidence to back up the
claim, but a lot of people believed it anyway, and some even formed
resistance cells. Everything became normal again after McNeil called
in alien troops to crush the resistance, but ever since then, the
term ‘zombie chip’ has come to mean any kind of
technology planted inside a person’s brain to control their
“In my case,”
said Zapp, “perhaps the chip is intended to suppress feelings
“You need a
zombie chip to do that?” Bender marveled. “All I
have to do is flip a switch.” To demonstrate, he reached into
his chest cavity, fiddled with the settings, and then tenderly placed
his arm around Zoidberg’s shoulders. “I’ve never
told you how much I truly appreciate you,” he said.
starting to make sense now,” said Zapp thoughtfully. “The
person who was speaking to me obviously has the power to remotely
deactivate the chip. When he did so temporarily, I was overwhelmed
by Balalaika’s thirst for blood, and I nearly murdered Dr.
“I knew it, I
did!” said the crustacean.
horrible!” exclaimed Leela. “He can make you do whatever
he wants, or threaten to set you loose on the people you care about!”
ultimate form of blackmail,” Zapp remarked solemnly. “And
until I find a way to free myself entirely from his influence, I can
never set foot on Earth again.”
The crew stood
speechless in the sickbay, pondering the implications of Zapp’s
statement. This is the best news I’ve heard all week,
before you take such a drastic step,” Zoidberg urged the
turned to Fry, whose bare shoulders he seized gently. “Leela,
my darling,” he said, “I understand if you choose not to
marry me after this. I can’t axe you to give up your life on
overflowed with an unfamiliar feeling of empathy. The poor, poor,
gorgeous man, he thought, exiled from his home planet forever.
If only there were something I could do.
said Leela disapprovingly.
“Just one last
kiss before I go to my destiny,” Zapp pleaded. Fry, helpless
before the onslaught of Leela’s hormones, leaned forward and
aimed his lips at the captain’s face.
“Before this gets
too slashy,” said Leela, “I need to make you aware of
something, Zapp.” This is the most appalling thing I can
imagine, she thought, watching from someone else’s body
as my own gets ready to kiss Zapp Brannigan. I may have to step in
and break them up.
Just as Zapp’s
lips and Fry’s lips touched—just as Leela opened her
mouth to say, “Leela’s really Fry and I’m really
Leela”—the console on Fry’s wrist buzzed
answer it!” cried Zapp in a sudden panic, pushing Fry away.
asked the cyclops.
“It could be
Mildred!” With a lightning-quick action, Zapp grabbed Fry’s
arm and unhooked the latches on his console. The device continued to
ring and vibrate as the captain hurled it against the wall of the
ship, causing it to shatter in two.
moron!” exclaimed Leela. “What’s wrong with taking
a call from Mildred?”
get it?” said Zapp with urgency. “She’s trying to
send another signal and get control of the chip in my head.”
ridiculous!” said Leela, clenching Fry’s fists. “You
have no proof that Mildred’s a part of this. Anyone
could have tampered with her phone.”
afford to take chances,” said Zapp with an angry glare. “For
all we know, we’re dealing with a conspiracy to overthrow the
DOOP. From this moment until we rendezvous with the Nimbus, there
will be no more communications with Earth. That’s an order!”
the orders here, mister!” Leela retorted.
Zapp, struck with
confusion, looked back and forth between Leela and Fry. He scratched
An alert sounded from
being hailed!” said Zapp. He charged out of the sickbay, the
whole crew following him out of fear he might blow up the ship in his
An amber light was
flashing on the main console when they assembled in front of it. “Is
it from Earth?” asked Leela.
replied Zapp, glancing rapidly at the computer display. “It’s
coming from the Nimbus.”
As he pressed a button
to answer the hail, Fry, Leela, Bender, Amy, and Zoidberg looked up
at the view screen. A round, silver object, roughly the size of a
grape, loomed in the center of the screen, its blurred edges slowly
expanding. The Nimbus was nowhere in sight.
size of a small moon, but it’s not orbiting anything,”
said Leela, puzzled.
she heard Raven’s voice utter. “Collision probable.
Recommend immediate course change.”
probably gonna crash!” cried Bender, throwing up his arms.
A faint but well-known
voice was heard through the ship-to-ship channel: “Nimbus to
Raven. Captain Kroker to Raven. Alien vessel has destroyed seven
Titan-class warships and is in pursuit of us. Attempts at
communication have failed. Long-range psychoactive weaponry makes
approach impossible. Do not engage the alien. I repeat, do not
gushed Amy. “You sound just like a real captain.”
getting closer!” cried Zoidberg, pointing his claw at the view
screen. The silver orb had assumed the size of a nectarine, and pock
marks were becoming visible on its surface.
still at 45c,” said Leela. “Given the relativistic
distortion, the alien ship may not be as close as it looks. Raven,
drop out of hyperspace and lay in an evasive course.”
“Since when are
you the captain, Fry?” said Zapp in astonishment. “You
realize that Leela is still alive.”
A slight lurch and a
descending whine later, the ship called Raven began to move along at
impulse speed. The image on the view screen changed, proving that,
as Leela had suggested, the hostile vessel was not as close as they
It was much, much
The entire screen was
filled with the grooves, bumps, and craters that made up the texture
of the enormous alien ship. The Nimbus could now be seen, a mere fly
in size compared to the oncoming juggernaut.
ministers of grace defend us,” Zapp muttered in awe.
repeated itself over the comm channel. “Do not engage! Do not
“You heard the
man,” said Bender. “Let’s cheese it out of here!”
said Leela. “Raven, reverse course and resume top speed.”
“I also respond
to ‘run away’,” said the ship’s computer
The crew felt their
stomachs turn squeamish as Raven swiveled in mid-space and the
hostile megaship vanished from the screen. They waited breathlessly
for the stars to streak past, indicating their entry into hyperspace
and, hopefully, safety.
It didn’t happen.
Amy quizzically. “Why we not go nowhere?”
and scared,” babbled Zoidberg. “Zoidy hate big scary
scanners have detected an attempt to alter my programming,”
said Raven’s voice. “Automatic shutdown in progress. Me
“If me human, why
me look like robot?” Bender asked himself.
Leela lowered her eyes
in despair. The space brains have them, she realized. What
do I do now?
good-looking,” said Fry, and Leela’s body walked clumsily
over to Zapp. “Me want snoo-snoo.”
scowled and shook his head. “It wouldn’t be right,”
he said simply.
dropped. “Z-Zapp?” she stammered. “You’re
is a word meaning ‘filled with chocolaty goodness’,”
said Zapp with a goofy smile, “then yes, I am immune.”
panic, Leela thought frantically. The others are beyond hope,
but I may yet be able to reason with Zapp.
immune! I’m immune! I’m immune!” the captain
chanted, hopping up and down.
said Leela earnestly. “You and I are all that stands between
that monstrosity and the rest of the universe. We have to turn and
said Zapp, clapping his hands with glee. “Yes, fight! You
with your super soaker, and me with mine, side by side!”
horror, her own body waddled up and grabbed her by the forearms. “Me
want snoo-snoo,” she watched her face say.
she said anxiously. “Snoo-snoo bad.”
drawled Fry with Leela’s voice. “Bad good. Snoo-snoo
Leela sighed with
frustration. She finished her sigh on a platform deep in the bowels
of the enemy ship, surrounded by giant brains floating in
A transporter beam,
she thought. At least those bastards want to finish this
She was reminded of her
ill-advised audition for Siegfried Idol, and the anxiety she
had felt while standing on the darkened stage, readying herself to
sing the aria Un bel di from Puccini’s Madama
Butterfly. Her present situation differed in many ways; there
was a pervasive electronic hum in place of the murmuring of the
audience, the only light in the house came from the auras of the
floating brains, she was in the body of a not-so-attractive male, and
she was about to die.
Leela glanced in every
direction, but saw only the outlines of darkened corridors and
mechanisms that appeared to serve the function of elevators. She
took a few steps, and found that she was able to move freely and
without pain. They must be holding me prisoner for some reason,
As if in response to
her meditation, a booming, familiar voice echoed throughout the air
above her, giving her the impression that the ceiling was miles away.
“Greetings, Fry of the planet Earth,” it spoke.
“Welcome to…THE DUMB STAR!”
Master Brain, she realized. Fry should’ve killed him
while he had the chance.
Fry!” she shouted into the black void. “I’m not
the one you want!”
A moment of silence
passed as one of the brains broke from its orbit and descended almost
to Leela’s eye level. “You say you are not Fry,”
it said, flashing red and yellow with each word. “If you are
not Fry, then who is?”
Before Leela could
figure out an answer to the odd question, a figure strolled out of a
dark hallway. Its appearance startled and shocked her as it moved
into the light.
It was an exact
duplicate of Fry, complete with red jacket and pointy hair.
is Fry,” said the Master Brain. The Fry clone stood still and
gazed blankly at Leela, its eyes devoid of emotion and, it seemed to
Yet another copy of Fry trudged forward from the opposite direction,
assuming a position next to the first.
said Leela with resignation. “I am Fry. Now stop
sending in the clones.”
A fraction of a second
later, the space surrounding her became completely illuminated. She
could see no apparent source of light; the only thing she could see
was decks. A deck above her, another deck above that, a hundred
decks stacked on top of the first two—decks as far as she could
lift her eyes. It was an awesome, dizzying picture.
Laboring mindlessly on
the decks were dozens…hundreds…thousands of Fry
duplicates. Every one sported the same outfit, hairdo, and vacant
expression as the two copies standing before Leela.
Jesus,” she said under her breath.
Several hundred giant
brains swirled above her head, locked in an endless dance. “I’m
glad you like it,” said the brain hovering in front of her.
The two Fry clones nearest her turned and walked away, soon
reappearing at empty work stations.
purpose of all this?” asked Leela for lack of a better
Domination of the universe,” replied the Master Brain. “Short
term? We needed a slave army that was unaffected by our dumbening
why you cloned me,” said Leela. It’s exactly
like what Philaster did with Bender’s personality, only on a
far grander scale.
the Master Brain went on. “With the generous support of our
slave army, we were able to construct this station, which we
christened the Dumb Star. In addition to conventional weaponry and
planet-mining implements, the Dumb Star is armed with a long-range
anti-intelligence beam that can stupefy either a starship or an
entire world with one pulse.”
Leela. It’s the end of everything.
end of everything,” said the glowing brain. “Now, do you
have any more questions before we consign you to your doom?”
said Leela. “Does the Dumb Star have any vulnerabilities?”
the answer. “There’s a tiny exhaust shaft on the surface
that leads directly to the reactor core. An extremely skilled
fighter pilot might succeed at launching a torpedo into the shaft,
which would almost certainly result in a gigantic explosion and the
complete destruction of the station.”
said Leela, intrigued. “Why are you telling me all this? Are
you about to kill me?”
replied the Master Brain. “You’re more valuable to us
alive, if only slightly. There’s no danger in describing to
you the details of the station’s architecture, since you’ll
know everything once we plug you in.”
Plug me in? That
does not sound good.
chamber has special acoustic properties,” the brain continued.
“It’s like a well-built orchestra hall, only it reflects,
amplifies, and clarifies thoughts instead of sounds. Every
one of the four million Fry clones that work here can hear the
thoughts of all the others, as well as the instructions issued by the
main control computer. You may view them as robots, zombies,
creatures devoid of what you call free will, but you’ll soon
see that when seven million trains of thought are passing through
your mind, each with prominence equal to your own, there’ll be
no room left for the pursuit of your individual desires.”
can’t hear any thoughts,” said Leela, and then, all at
once, she could.
It felt as if the
entire population of New New York was crowding around her, addressing
her with a constant stream of requests, every one of them with Fry’s
face and voice. The din was deafening and almost unbearable. She
wanted more than anything to put her hands over her ears, and perhaps
block out the noise and the pain, but every time she formed the
thought lift arms and put hands on sides of head, it was swept
away by the incessant clatter. She was powerless to move or decide.
“It can be
disorienting when you’re first plugged in,” said the
Master Brain, its voice barely audible above the chaos. “But
in a matter of minutes your brain will learn to sort out the various
command streams, and identify the one intended for you. At
that moment you will understand your duty and become an
undistinguished worker in our slave army! BUWAHAHAHAHA!”
Trapped inside Fry’s
body, besieged by millions of trains of thought belonging to Fry
clones she had never met, Leela fought to retain her sanity and
individuality. She was barely able to choose a plan of action that
might lead to an escape, or even to tell where her thoughts ended and
the thoughts of the other Frys began. It’s useless, she
would have thought if she could put two words together in her mind.
A minute or so passed,
and clarity started to creep in. I can think! She slowly
raised her hands and put them over her agonized face. I’m
pretty sure it was me willing myself to do that. Another minute, and
I may not be so sure. I’ve got that long to come up with a
plan to save the universe.
Bits of recognizable
trivia flew through her crowded mind. The operations of the Dumb
Star are becoming an open book to me. There must be some
information I can use to either blow up the station, or cripple it,
or disable its defenses, or shut off the anti-intelligence beam…wait,
that’s it! With the beam off, Raven and the Nimbus will be
free to attack!
The beam control, she
intuitively knew, was on Deck 581, section 3. The lift to her right
would transport her there. She took bounding steps to enter it.
Push the green button with the up arrow, then readjust the
calibrator settings to compensate for…wait, that’s Fry
10369’s job! Just push the freaking green button!
The elevator rose
quickly, but not quickly enough for her taste. Deck 444,
atmospheric controls…Deck 460, food services…Deck 515,
manufacturing center for acoustic plates to replace old ones that
break down due to vibrational shear forces at a rate of 72.6
picojoules per cubic…here it is, Deck 581!
Moving one foot in
front of the other was easy for her at first, but became more
difficult as the surrounding Frys persistently questioned why she was
wandering so far away from her assigned work station. Must keep
going, she urged herself. Must make it to gravimetrics…I
mean, beam control! Or is it gravimetrics? I must turn off the
anti-intelligence beam so the other Frys won’t float away…no,
that’s the artificial gravity! By disabling the beam I’ll
give my friends a chance to keep the gravity field operating within
its safety threshold…no, beam control! I’m not sure
anymore! If I choose wrong I’ll spend the rest of eternity as
a mindless drone, and the cooling fans will be clogged with hundreds
of floating Frys…
Four Fry duplicates
were slaving away at their consoles, and she knew they were
maintaining the proper order of the anti-intelligence beam. I’ve
got to overpower them, she thought, even if it means the
gravity field breaks down, and my friends float away into the…just
Normally her martial
arts moves were governed by gut instinct, but on this occasion she
had to carefully deliberate every move to make sure she was really
knocking Fry clones unconscious instead of calculating gravimetric
settings in her head. By the time she finished what she was doing,
she wasn’t certain if she had succeeded, only that she was
urgently needed elsewhere. She dutifully marched away toward Deck
254, all consideration for Raven and the Nimbus forgotten, four
unconscious men with red jackets and pointy hair lying in her wake.
At one instant Fry was
gazing in wonder through Leela’s eye at the gigantic spacecraft
that blocked the view screen. At the next instant he was prostrate
on the bed in his quarters. He could remember nothing from the
intervening time, not even its length. He could tell two things,
however—that he was utterly naked, and that he was experiencing
the aftermath of having done something intensely pleasurable.
I’m not sure,
he thought, but I think I just had girl sex. Is it normal to not
Recalling vaguely that
Raven and the universe were in dire peril, he dragged himself from
the mattress and began to gather up Leela’s scattered articles
of clothing, putting them on hastily, not bothering with the bra.
Once he was fully dressed, he saw to his dismay that the floor was
bare—there were no other items that might indicate who had done
the nasty with him.
The ship bucked and
trembled as he ran, bare-footed, to the bridge. Everyone was there
except for Leela in his body, and Amy was in the process of zipping
up her pink top. “Oh, hey, Fry,” said the Asian girl
with a smile. “I don’t know what just happened to us,
but it must’ve been fun, because we were all naked when we woke
“Except for me,”
added Bender. “I woke up in Amy’s clothes.”
Zapp urged those present. “We’re at war.”
He deftly handled the
ship’s controls, and Raven weaved and waggled, dodging energy
bolts fired from the Dumb Star’s defense grid. At its side
soared the much larger Nimbus, which fired volley after volley of
quantum torpedoes against the station’s outer shell. They
exploded spectacularly, but failed to do any damage.
trumpets,” said Kif, seated on the edge of the captain’s
chair. “Mr. Spork, prepare the armor-piercing warheads.”
got two, sir,” said the officer with pointed ears. “I
hope they’ll be enough to punch through that beast.”
Zapp, meanwhile, grew
tired of evading enemy fire. “Raven, how much laser power do
you have?” he inquired of the ship’s computer.
“Enough to make
the hull warm, if I can get in close enough,” replied the smoky
grumbled Captain Brannigan.
“Would this be a
good time to ask which one of you had sex with me?” said Fry.
The comm system
crackled, and Kif’s voice was heard. “New strategy,
captain,” he said. “I’m going to charge the
station, and I want Raven to follow directly behind.”
Kif,” said Zapp.
The two ships assumed a
new configuration, with the Nimbus hurtling at full speed toward the
Dumb Star’s hull, and Raven clinging to its rear flank. Laser
blasts from the station pounded on the DOOP warship’s shields,
which maintained their strength.
armor-piercing warheads!” Kif barked.
A pair of elongated
golden missiles flew from the Nimbus’ ports and streaked across
the sky, slamming into the surface of the Dumb Star with awesome
force. When the fire and smoke cleared, two gaping, overlapping
holes became visible.
Mr. Spork exulted. “We’ve breached the hull!”
starboard!” ordered Captain Kroker.
The Nimbus turned
sharply, its right nacelle knocking over a laser turret as it swept
over the station’s surface. Raven continued in its straight
course, careening through the holes left by the armor-piercing
missiles. Zapp, Fry, Amy, Bender, and Zoidberg enjoyed a terrifying
ride as the ship’s guns blasted away swath after swath of the
Dumb Star’s infrastructure, sending metallic debris spinning
away on all sides. Dozens of Brainspawn mobbed the ship, but Zapp,
with the aid of Raven’s automatic targeting system, managed to
incinerate them before they could emit their dumbening rays.
By the time they
arrived at the central chamber, the floating brains had retreated out
of sight. “This part of the station has a breathable
atmosphere,” Zapp stated.
“Can you pick up
Fry’s life signs?” Amy asked him.
Closer examination of
the chamber elicited gasps from the Raven crew. “The answer to
your question is a resounding yes, Amy,” said Zapp.
Zoidberg remarked. “It’s full of Frys.”
Raven slowed down and
hovered in the middle of the endless tower of decks. The hordes of
Fry clones were looking at each other in confusion, as if wondering
what had damaged the chamber’s thought-amplifying acoustics.
remarked the Fry who occupied Leela’s body. “Now, which
one of you had sex with me?”
a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” said Zapp.
“Which out of these hundreds of thousands of Frys is the
hopeless,” said Bender sarcastically. “Let’s go
home. I’m tired.”
“We could just
axe them,” suggested Amy.
Seven million Fry
duplicates perked up their ears when Raven’s external speakers
came to life with a pop. “Attention, all clones!” boomed
Zapp’s voice. “Will the real Philip J. Fry please wave
his arms and shout?”
The entire population
of the chamber burst into frantic activity. “Over here!”
exclaimed virtually every clone. “I’m the real Fry!”
On the bridge, Bender
whispered a hint into Zapp’s ear.
“Let me rephrase
that,” said the captain’s voice over the speakers. “Will
Turanga Leela please wave her arms and shout?”
Far below on Deck 254,
a tiny figure was seen hopping up and down.
Within no time, Leela
was welcomed back into the fellowship of the Raven crew. “Ya
know, this would’ve been a lot easier if you didn’t wear
Fry’s old red jacket all the time,” Bender ribbed her.
imagine what it was like in there,” Leela related. “I
lost the ability to think for myself and became a cog in a gigantic
“You think that’s
weird?” Fry shot back. “I had sex with someone, in
your body, and I can’t even remember who it was.”
“Sex, sex, sex,”
complained Amy. “Gleesh! You and your one-track mind.”
blame you for something you did under the influence of the
Brainspawn,” Leela told Fry. “As for who did it with
you, maybe that’s best left forgotten.”
“Yeah, I guess
you’re right,” said Fry.
Brannigan!” Bender blurted out. “It had to be! I’m
a robot, Raven’s a computer, Amy’s a chick, and
at me,” said Zapp sheepishly.
Everybody on the bridge
looked at him.
“I asked you not
to look at me,” he said.
They turned their gaze
away from the captain and stared in horror at the hundreds of
floating brains surrounding the ship.
doomed, we are!” wailed Zoidberg.
everyone!” said Zapp when he finally saw the blockade of
brains. “It hurts less to die when you’re calm!”
man for himself!” exclaimed Bender, waving his extended arms.
“The chicks are on their own!”
The gloating voice of
the Master Brain reverberated through the ship: “There’s
no help for you now. Prepare to be thunk out of existence!”
Yet help did come, from
the most surprising of sources. The Fry clones, freed from their
collective stupor, picked up tools, blunt objects, or whatever they
could rip free from the consoles. “The brains are our
enemies!” cried one. “They made us to be their slaves!”
yelled another. “Kill them all!” exclaimed yet another.
Dozens of them leaped
over the railings and plunged downward, most landing on top of a
brain or another Fry, a few missing and falling to their deaths.
Strengthened by hatred, they clubbed, stabbed, and tore at the gray
flesh of the Brainspawn. The chaotic scene went on until the brains,
intimidated by the sheer number of their foes, flew away into the
dark recesses of the station.
The Raven crewmembers
breathed sighs of elation. All was quiet, except for a few Fry
clones who blindly pounded on the ship’s hull with their fists.
“What do we do
now?” wondered Leela. “We can’t blow up the Dumb
Star, or all the clones will die.”
“You make a valid
point,” said Zapp. “However, as you can all plainly see,
their race is doomed to eventual extinction one way or another.”
said the real Fry. “Seven million guys who can’t get a
date. What are their chances?”
Having disabled the
station’s master control computer, Raven and its crew docked
with the Nimbus to discuss with Kif and his DOOP superiors the fate
of the Fry duplicates.
has offered free military training and accommodations to the clones,”
Kif reported. “She wants to organize them into a special force
to deploy against the Brainspawn if they should ever return.”
said Bender. “Let’s call it ‘The Big Red One’!”
told that the President of Earth is organizing a ticker-tape parade
in our honor,” Zapp told Kif. “Sadly, I’ll be
unable to attend, so you’ll have to perform double basking
“Basking is one
of my specialties,” said the green alien.
Fry stepped forward and
rested Leela’s slender hand on Zapp’s shoulder. “We’ll
find the people who did this to you,” he vowed. “Once
they’re in jail, you’ll be free to visit Earth again.”
confidence in you, Leela,” said Zapp.
leave,” said Fry, his eye radiating affection, “here’s
a little something to remember me by.”
Before Leela could open
her mouth to object, Fry yanked Zapp by the neck until their lips
were pressed together. “Ewww!” groaned Amy.
With Zapp and Fry
liplocked, Bender took the opportunity to stretch his arm around
Zapp’s back, dipping his hand into the captain’s pocket.
Feeling an object present, he deftly pulled it out and drew it toward
pretty good-lookin’ for a chump,” spoke the watch in his
hand, using his own voice.
exclaimed the robot.
uncalled for,” said Leela to Fry as he pulled his moist lips
from Zapp’s face. “Don’t forget that you probably
had sex with him when you were stupefied.”
said Fry, “but that doesn’t count as something he can
remember me by.”
Out from the Nimbus’
docking bay sailed Raven, its trajectory set for Earth and home.
Bender paced about on
the bridge, occasionally pausing to shake his fist. “I am
gonna kill that Foss,” he swore. “Nobody turns me
into a piece of merchandise without givin’ me a cut of the
said Zoidberg to whoever would listen. “Bender’s wrath
has been directed to someone other than me!”
worry about Foss,” said Amy. “By the time we get to
Earth, Bender’ll forget the whole thing.”
Two days later, Bender
continued to pace in the groove his chunky metal feet had made in the
floor. “I’m gonna kill Foss!” he ranted. “I’m
gonna kill him good!”
The return journey
dragged on. Leela found Fry in his quarters, lying lazily on the
bed, an expression of ecstatic obliviousness on his face. “Well,
I’ve given it some more thought,” she said, “and I
still don’t have any other ideas for solving Zapp’s case,
besides investigating Mildred.”
was a sigh of pleasure.
“You really do
like Zapp, don’t you?” said Leela, narrowing her eyes.
“I should’ve expected something like this to happen. My
hormones always were notoriously unreliable.”
not about Zapp,” said Fry, smiling. “It’s just
that…ever since we ran into the space brains, I’ve had
this crazy feeling, like everything’s more beautiful and smells
better than before.”
said Leela flatly.
more,” Fry continued. “I’ve got this weird craving
that won’t go away. A craving for…for anchovies.”
thought Leela. My body has never craved anchovies before. I know
only one other person who likes anchovies, and that’s…
She wandered into the
sickbay and collapsed into a chair, staring emptily at Dr. Zoidberg,
too dumbfounded to speak.
“May I help you?”
said the lobster, who was hard at work sharpening his scalpel with
It can’t be
true, thought Leela. He doesn’t even have the same
equipment humans have. There’s no way he could have…or
Mere hours after Raven
had set down on Earth, Fry and Leela marched into the Planet Express
lobby, a rectangular package under Fry’s arm. They were
startled to find Mildred resting in the lounge, exchanging stories
with Delta the fembot.
“What are you
doing here?” Leela asked the curly-haired girl.
“Delta and I
became friends while you were gone,” replied Mildred with a
carefree smile. “That’s okay, isn’t it? By the
way, why did you stop returning my calls? If you had trouble with
hostile aliens, then I understand.”
Leela and Fry exchanged
the box?” Mildred inquired curiously.
“None of your
business,” said Fry sharply.
Mildred saw written on the side of the package. “Oh, my God!”
she exclaimed with what looked like delight. “Is that really a
to go now,” said Fry. He turned abruptly and walked out of the
lounge, Leela at his heels, Mildred and Delta following close behind.
“Are you gonna
switch bodies?” asked Mildred as she hurried to keep up. “Can
“She has no idea
we’ve already switched,” Leela whispered to Fry as
the pair stepped into Farnsworth’s laboratory.
Their entrance aroused
the professor’s head out of its slumber. “Huh? Wha…?”
Fry laid the box
containing the Frinkomatic on the table next to his jar, and hastily
ripped it open. “We’re switching back now,
professor,” he stated. “I don’t want to hear any
arguments out of you.”
Farnsworth assured him. “In reality, a week to ten days is a
relatively safe amount of time. They only say a month to avoid
lawsuits. Go ahead on.”
intrigued, as Fry and Leela prepared to lay their hands on the
wheel-like device. That body switcher is my ticket to freedom,
she thought eagerly.
I know what you’re
thinking, said a voice in her mind. You won’t succeed.
Leave the room immediately, or I’ll turn off your inhibitor
Fry and Leela gazed in
wonder at each other, Fry through his two eyes, Leela through her
one. “It worked!” said Fry with relief. “I’m
a guy again!”
my boobs back!” Leela exulted.
still just a head,” said Farnsworth glumly.
Seeing the Frink device
lying unattended on the table, Mildred lunged forward between Fry and
Leela, grabbing one of its ends with both hands. After flipping the
switch to activate it, she swiveled to face Leela and shoved the
other end of the unit into the cyclops’ impulsively raised
hands. I warned you, said the voice sternly, but Mildred no
longer heeded it.
Fry and Delta didn’t
know what was happening. Neither did Leela when she blinked a
two-eyed blink and once again saw her own face staring back at her.
Mildred glanced around
at the now rather flat-looking lab, then at the body switcher that
lay on the floor, then at her, or rather Leela’s, hands. Then
she let out an exclamation of pure joy: “I’m free!”
said Fry quietly. “What’s going on? Free from what?”
Rather than answer,
Mildred shoved the young man so that he stumbled and nearly fell
over, then bolted for the lab exit, running as fast as Leela’s
legs would take her.
cried Fry as he regained his footing. “Come back!” The
cyclops swiftly vanished down a hallway, and was not seen again.
Fry turned to the
bewildered red-haired girl who appeared to him to be Mildred.
“Leela?” he said softly. “Is that you?”
uttered Leela, Mildred’s voice replacing her own. She tried to
say more, but her words were squelched by a sudden, irresistible
burst of murderous rage.
A long metal conducting
rod with a sharp tip lay propped against a wall to her right.
Snarling viciously, no longer aware of what she was doing, she seized
the rod with both hands, then hammered it into Fry’s ribcage so
forcefully that the bloody tip came out through his back.
Stay tuned for the thrilling sequel!