Futurama: The Fifth Season, Part 3
By Craig Williams
Episode Three - "Earthican Idiot"
Amy put down her coffee cup and looked across the conference table at Fry and Bender. "Do either of you have any idea why we're here?"
Fry shrugged. "Not a clue. All Hermes told us is that there was to be an emergency staff meeting and that we had to get here right away."
Bender was idly picking at the label of his beer bottle when an idea struck him. "Hey, do you think the Professor kicked off during the night?"
Amy reacted with horror to the suggestion. "Bender! That's a horrible thing to say!"
Fry was equally shocked. "Yeah! We all know that when he dies he's arranged to have his consciousness transferred to Cubert's body!"
Bender snapped his fingers. "You're right. You'd think I'd remember something like that, considering I came up with the plan in the first place."
Their conversation was interrupted when the door opened, and they turned to see Angela enter the room. There were dark shadows under her eyes and her hair was tangled. She sat down next to Bender, rested her head in her hands and moaned loudly. "Anybody got any paracetamol? Codeine? Morphine? Please?"
"Bender's got some cyanide if you want it."
"I need that for tonight's dinner! Damn, I just gave away my secret recipe!"
"What's wrong, Angie?" asked Amy.
"I had another nightmare. I got woken out of it by Hermes' call and now I have a headache."
Amy produced a bottle of paracetamol from her handbag and slid it across the table to Angela. "Another nightmare? What was it about this time? Spiders again?"
"No, it was-" Angela broke off in mid-sentence. "I-I don't want to talk about it."
Amy's anxiety grew. "Angie, you've had nightmares nearly every day this week! What's wrong?"
"I said I don't want to talk about it! It's private!" Angela snapped. "I'm sorry," she said more calmly, "It's just that I don't like talking about my dreams with other people."
Amy sighed. "Okay. Just remember that we're here if you ever want to talk."
Bender pointed at Amy and Fry. "Make that 'they're here'. Human dreams have bored me ever since Fry told me about his gold bikini fantasy."
"Bender!" hissed Fry. "I asked you never to mention it to anyone!"
Amy smirked. "Why does every guy have the gold bikini fantasy? All right, who was it? Leela? Me? Michelle?"
"Fry was wearing it," finished Bender smoothly. Fry's face flushed with anger and embarrassment, while Angela snickered and spat out the mouthful of water she'd just taken and Amy doubled up with laughter.
"Oh, Fry," said Amy once she'd recovered, tears streaming from her eyes, "what the hell were you doing in a gold bikini?"
Fry scowled angrily and Bender. "It wasn't my fault. It was that day the subliminal advertising palace screwed up and sent the wrong dreams to the wrong people."
"SUUURE, Fry," said Amy in a mock sarcastic tone that infuriated Fry even further.
However he never got a chance to respond, as Hermes and the Professor entered the room at that moment. The people in the room all turned to look at them. The Professor looked somewhat serious, but Hermes was clearly deliriously happy. In his hand he held an open envelope. The two of them sat down in their usual seats.
"Bad news, every-" the Professor began, but he was interrupted by Hermes.
"GOOD news, everyone! Fantastic news! Zoidberg's gone!"
"WHAT?!" cried Amy and Fry in unison.
"I discovered dis letter from him sittin' in my office. Look!" Hermes handed the letter to Bender on his right, who read it, then passed it around for the others to see.
It is with a heavy heart that I resign from Planet Express. My failure to help Leela has made me realise you guys were right all along - I AM a hopeless doctor. So I'm leaving New New York to try and find my place in the world, somewhere where I can be useful and get a hot meal maybe. I hope Leela gets her hearing back and wish all of you the best in the future.
John Zoidberg, M. D."
For a few moments a stunned silence filled the room. Finally Hermes spoke.
"I'll begin placin' advertisements for a new staff doctor dis afternoon." Hermes rubbed his hands with glee. "Dis is de best day ever! Not only do I get rid of dat stinkin' lobster, but soon I'll have piles of application forms to verify!" Hermes got up from the table and almost skipped out of the room, singing "Happy Days are here Again."
Bender stood up. "Well I'm not going to stand for this! I'm going to search for him!"
Fry was amazed. "Wow, I didn't know you liked him that much."
"I don't! But if he's gone, who'll I enter in next year's pet show?"
"I can't believe Zoidberg's really gone!" Fry sat disconsolately on the couch, with Amy and Angela sitting either side of him. "He was like a brother to me!"
Amy put a comforting arm around Fry. "I know. We're all going to miss him terribly." Just then Bender entered the room. "Did you find him?" asked Amy hopefully.
"I checked his office, all I could find were some notes he scribbled down a fortnight ago. Then I looked at his appointment book but the last fourteen days were all blank. Finally I asked around all the local hobos and garbage truck drivers. Nobody's seen him in two weeks. All of which makes his sudden disappearance all the more startling."
Bender opened his chest cavity and pulled out a chef's hat and an apron with a picture of a lobster on it. "Fifteen bucks and now I'll never get a chance to use you. I guess that bisque I was planning will have to be skunk after all." Bender dumped the hat and apron in the trash.
The Professor entered the room. "Good news, everyone! In order to take your mind of Zoidberg's disappearance I've arranged for Planet Express to participate in some charity work."
Bender punched the air with his hand. "That's great! I love charity work!"
Angela raised an eyebrow. "Really? No offense, but you don't strike me as being the charitable type."
"That's just my work persona. I'm really charitable! A couple of years ago I put together a charity rock concert to help broken robots!"
Suddenly realisation struck Angela. "Hold on, weren't you the robot that pretended to be broken to get everyone's sympathy, then made off with the proceeds from the concert?"
Bender sat back and crossed his arms. "I like to think of it as 'creating awareness'," he said defensively.
Angela rolled her eyes. "What'll we be doing, Professor?" she asked.
"You'll be delivering vitally needed aid to the planet Gideon IV. Fifty years ago the planet used to be a paradise. The atmosphere was totally free of disease, which meant that the death rate there was a fraction that of other planets at a similar rate of development. As a result there was a population explosion that resulted in the population doubling from five to ten billion over a period of forty years. This led to mass overcrowding and starvation.
"Gideon's finest scientific minds were called in, and their ultimate solution was to import diseases from other planets in order to reduce the population to manageable levels. Unfortunately because these people had never suffered any diseases before, they had no immunities. So now these diseases are running out of control, and threaten the entire population. Earth has promised to send food and medicine, and a number of delivery companies - including us - have been asked to deliver the supplies. You'll be leaving as soon as the ship's loaded."
"Sounds simple enough," said Bender. "So why do I think there's a catch?"
"Don't be silly. There's no catch! Now you'd better prepare for launch. Cubert will meet you on board." The room was filled with loud groans from Fry, Bender and Amy.
"Not Cubert!" said Angela. "Professor, why does he have to come with us?"
"Because he's on holiday for the next week and I don't want him under my feet!" The Professor turned to leave the room. "Besides, I figured you could use an extra hand when you're flying through the raider infested space between here and Gideon IV."
Angela became even more antagonised. "What? You never said anything about any raiders!"
The Professor disappeared through the doorway. "Enjoy the trip. I'll see any survivors when you return!"
A few hours later, the Planet Express ship was on course for Gideon IV. Fry, Amy, Angela and Cubert sat around the dining table. Angela was reading a newspaper article concerning the upcoming election. A few minutes later she set the paper down in disgust.
"Can you believe it? Wiseman's popularity went up another three points. Right now they're saying it's too close to call. I just don't get it! What kind of moron would support a maniac like that?"
Cubert had picked up Angela's discarded newspaper and was reading the same article. "All right! Wiseman's up another three points!"
Angela shook her head. "Never mind." She picked up the napkin in front of her and began folding it into a swan. "So, what's Bender's cooking like?"
Amy and Fry "um"ed and "er"ed, fidgeting in their seats. "It's-an experience," Fry said finally.
"On a totally unrelated note," said Amy, "Did Hermes make you sign that sonic diarrhea waver?"
Angela nodded. "Why?"
Amy smiled innocently. "Oh, no reason."
"Dinner's served!" The galley door opened and smoke billowed into the dining room. Bender emerged from the smoke carrying a tray with four plates on. He went around the table, placing the plates in front of the crewmembers. Fry examined his meal closely. Along with some brown lettuce leaves and stale bread buns, the plate was filled with a thick brown liquid, with a few lumps floating in it. Fry took a tentative mouthful, and immediately spat it out into his hankie. Amy fought a wave of nausea as she watched the brown liquid bubble evilly on her plate, and wished she hadn't made that crack about diarrhea. Cubert simply stared at his in shock.
"Oh Lord and Guardian, we give thanks for this meal that you have provided-" Fry, Amy and Cubert turned their heads towards Angela, who was sitting with her hands clasped and her head bowed in prayer.
"-And we ask you to bless everyone at this table, Amen." Angela looked up to see everyone staring at her. "What?"
Cubert rolled his eyes and sighed theatrically. "Great, just what this company needs. A religious nut!"
Amy gave Cubert a sharp kick under the table that made him wince loudly. "What religion do you follow, Angie? Oprahism? Voodoo? Maradonaism?"
Angela removed a chain from around her neck, and passed it to Fry and Amy to look at. On the end of the chain was a medallion, which had an image of a dove etched on one side. "The Order of the White Guardian."
Fry had never heard of that religion before, and judging from the look on Amy's face, neither had she. "So what's it about?" he asked. "Crazy legends? Stupid rules? You know, the usual?"
"Nothing like that. You see, according to the Order's sacred text-"
Cubert could barely contain his laughter. "You've gotta be kidding! You've got a sacred text?" Another pair of kicks from Fry and Amy shut him up, and Angela continued.
"According to the Order's sacred text, the universe is held in balance by various opposing forces of equal strength. Two Guardians control these forces. One - the White Guardian - represents forces such as good, creation, hope and order, while the Black Guardian represents evil, destruction, despair and chaos. Since the powers of the two Guardians are equal and opposite, the various forces they control are held in equilibrium, and thus the universal balance is maintained."
Cubert couldn't stand it any longer. "But that's PREPOSTEROUS! All-powerful beings controlling the forces of good and evil. That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard! Besides," he continued smugly, "Your religion and your 'Guardians' are OBVIOUSLY derived from the White and Black Guardians from the Doctor Who 'Key to Time' series of the nineteen-seventies."
Amy couldn't stand Cubert any longer. "Cubert honey, we were having some problems with the plumbing during the last mission. Can you come and help me fix it?"
Cubert sighed heavily and got off his chair. "Jeez, you guys are TOTALLY useless. If it wasn't for me this entire company would fall apart."
Cubert followed Amy into the bathroom. Moments later Fry and Angela heard screams, splashing, and the sound of repeated flushing. The bathroom door opened, and Amy emerged, drying her hands on a towel. "It's worse than I thought. Toilet's blocked. For the rest of the mission anyone who has to go does it out an airlock." Amy sat back down.
Fry was still thinking about the discussion. "Is your religion really based on a TV show?" he asked Angela.
Angela shrugged. "It's not a big thing. Nowadays most religions are based on TV shows."
"It's true!" added Amy. "You already know about the 'Star Trek' religion, Oprahism's based on Oprah's talk show, Catholicism's based on 'Babylon Five', the list is endless!" A thought stuck her. "Which just leaves one question - why would you want to give thanks for THIS food?" Amy indicated the congealing brown scum on everyone's plates.
"Hoi!" yelled Bender. "I'm still in the room, remember?"
"I always give thanks for the food I eat," replied Angela. "Besides, prayer's probably the best thing for this meal. What on Earth is this supposed to be, anyway?"
"It's a Sloppy Joey," replied a seething Bender.
"Don't you mean a Sloppy Joe?" asked Fry.
"Sloppy Joe. That's what I said. On a totally unrelated note, if the head museum calls asking where Matt Le Blanc's head is, I don't know nothing. Okay?" Bender went back into the galley and closed the door, blocking out the sounds of clattering cutlery and vomiting.
Hermes held back a sigh as he leafed through the pile of application forms on his desk, looking for the one that belonged to the interviewee in front of him. An afternoon conducting job interviews had sounded good at the time, but it was rapidly turning into a tortuous experience. So far he'd interviewed no fewer than eight applicants for Zoidberg's job, but not one of them had been suitable. Considering who it was they'd be replacing, Hermes was shocked that it was this difficult to find someone.
Finally Hermes found the correct form and quickly glanced through it. He was amazed. The applicant had first class degrees from no fewer than a dozen planets, and had named some of the galaxy's top scientific minds as references. Hermes looked up at the applicant, a tall man with a short hair cut, wearing a battered leather jacket over a dark red top.
"Your academic record is truly exceptional, Doctor Eccleston. You're easily de most qualified person I've interviewed today." Another part of the form caught Hermes' eye. "I see here you've listed your address as 'No Fixed Abode.'"
"I travel around a lot," explained Eccleston. "That's the story of my life. One minute I'm here, the next-" Eccleston snapped his fingers- "BING! I'm gone."
Hermes sat forward in his chair. "So, please explain why you're interested in dis job."
"Well, for one thing it's been a long time since I've been on Earth, and I'm planning to stick around for a while. I haven't had cause to use my medical skills for some time, so it'll be a chance to get back in the swing of things. As for this job specifically, I know I can be useful here. I saw the news report a few weeks ago about your ship coming under attack from raiders and a crewman being injured. You need a doctor who's used to working in hazardous environments and who doesn't flinch in the face of danger. Mr. Conrad, I am that doctor." Eccleston smiled, a toothy smile that lit up the entire room, but with a hint of mania that sent a chill down Hermes' spine.
Hermes stood up and offered Eccleston his hand. "Doctor Eccleston, I don't need to hear any more. You're hired!"
Eccleston pumped Hermes' hand vigorously. "That's brilliant! When do I start?"
"As soon as possible. There's a two week trial period, and if everything works out, you can sign a full time contract."
The smile faded from Ecclestone's face. "Whoa. Did you say full time?"
Hermes got an ugly feeling that his afternoon was about to get even longer. "Is there a problem?"
"Well, it's just that- the offer's great and all, but when I said I was on Earth for a while, I wasn't thinking THAT long term. I once got stuck in a job with the military for over five years. By the end I couldn't leave quickly enough. Now I'm only looking for a job that lasts about three months."
Once again Hermes found himself holding back that sigh. "Well, I can't say I'm not disappointed, but if dat's how you feel, den it's better to know now."
Hermes showed Eccleston out of the office, then looked at the two remaining people sitting outside. One was a slightly geeky looking guy in a pinstripe suit, the other a curvaceous blonde woman in a smart blouse and knee-length shirt. Hermes turned to the man. "Please come in, Doctor Tennant."
A day later the Planet Express ship was still some distance away from Gideon IV. Now bored out of their wits, the crew had resorted to playing 'Geography'.
"'U' is for Utah," said Amy. "'H'. Angie?"
Angela thought for a moment. "'H' is for Halifax. 'X'." Angela smirked. "Your turn, Cubert."
"'X' is for Xenia. 'A'." Cubert smiled smugly.
"Hey!" whined Amy. "We said place names, not sci-fi characters!"
Cubert crossed his arms. "I said 'Xenia', not 'Xena'. It's a place in Ohio. Idiot."
Angela checked the computer. A look of disappointment crossed her face. "Dammit, he's right."
Cubert turned to Bender. "Your turn, rustbucket. 'A'."
"'A' is for America. 'A'. Amy?"
"'A' is for Afghanistan. 'N'. Angie?"
"'N' is for New Mexico. 'O'. Bender?"
"Hey!" whined Cubert. "It's MY turn!"
Amy glared at Cubert. "Do you want us to force feed you the rest of Bender's Sloppy Joe mix?"
Cubert shuddered. "N-no."
Bender searched his memory bank for a suitable place name. "'O' is for Omicron Persei VIII. '8'. Your turn, Fry. Fry?"
Everyone turned to look at Fry, who was quietly reading some text on the electronic notepad. Bender snatched the notepad off him and began scrolling through the text. "So, what you readin' there, Fry?"
Fry snatched the notepad back off Bender and searched for his place. "It's nothing. Just a 'Star Trek' fanfic I downloaded off the Internet last week."
Bender shook his head. "Just when you thought he couldn't sink any lower."
"Is it any good?" asked Angela.
"It's garbage! The writer hasn't even used Spock once! What kind of moron writes a fanfic based on a TV show, then leaves out the show's best character?"
Cubert opened his mouth to reply, but the blare of a loud klaxon cut off his words. Everyone rushed to their stations in the control room.
"What is it?" asked Fry.
Amy studied her panel. "It's a distress signal."
"Let's hear it," ordered Angela. Amy pressed a couple of buttons, and a static filled message began playing over the speakers.
"Mayday, mayday, this - cargo vessel two-oh- heading for Gideon system - under attack - assist."
Angela quickly figured out the situation. "It must be one of the other cargo vessels delivering supplies to Gideon IV. Sounds like it's those damn raiders again. What's their position, Fry?"
Fry examined the long-range sensors. "About twelve parsecs to the right."
Angela pushed the ship to maximum speed and headed for the other vessel. Fry continued to watch the sensors. "Angie, what do the red dots mean?"
"They're raider ships. How many are there?"
Fry looked on in abject horror. "There's too many to count!"
From the back of the room, Angela heard Cubert's grating voice state "In other words, more than one."
Fry seethed. "I mean it! Amy, look at this!"
Amy went over to Fry's console and saw a number of red dots surrounding the green dot that represented the cargo ship. "Angie, Fry's right. There's dozens of them!"
"We're approaching the ship now," said Angela. She looked up from the console, and gasped. The others followed her gaze out of the cockpit windows. They could see the enormous mile-long Momcorp vessel, several sections of it now ablaze. A staggering number of triangular raider ships swarmed around it, firing incessantly. As they watched a portion of the Momcorp vessel exploded as raider fire stuck a fuel line.
Bender looked at his panel. "The computer says there's over a hundred raider ships."
Amy looked at Angela. "What are we going to do?" Angela said nothing; she simply stared through the window in astonishment.
Fry looked down at his panel again and gave a sharp cry. "Several of the raider ships are breaking away from the main group and they're heading our way!"
Angela twisted the steering wheel hard right, sending the ship into a sharp U-turn. "That's it, we're getting out of here."
Amy couldn't believe what she'd just heard. "We're what? Aren't we going to help that crew?"
"We can't! There's too many of them!"
"You're not even going to try?"
Angela spun round to face Amy. "No, we're not. There's nothing we can do for them. I'm putting us back on course for Gideon IV." The crew stared speechlessly as Angela reset the course on her control panel.
Fry looked sadly at the sensor readout. "That ship's not gonna last much longer. It-" Suddenly a blinding light filled the control room, and moments later there were a series of soft thuds, as the Planet Express ship was hit by debris. The room fell silent. Amy continued to stare out of the window. Fry looked at the empty space on his readout previously occupied by the Momcorp ship. Even Cubert had been shocked into silence.
Finally Angela rose from her seat. "I'm going to my quarters," she said softly. "Amy, you're in charge till I get back." Angela left the control room. Amy took Angela seat at the controls, but seconds later she was up again, and heading out after Angela.
In her quarters, Angela fought back tears as she stared out of the tiny porthole lost in thought, her right hand clasped tightly around her medallion. A knock at the door brought her back to reality. She wiped her eyes, tucked the medallion back under her sweater, and took a deep breath. "Come in."
The door opened and Amy walked in. She walked over to where Angela was standing, and Angela saw the anger in her face.
"I can't believe you just let all those people die," said Amy angrily. "And after all that stuff you told me about 'doing the right thing' after I caused that car accident! Why didn't you try to help them?"
"You saw for yourself. There were too many of them! If we'd tried to intervene they'd just have destroyed us as well!"
"Fry and I were willing to take that risk!"
Angela struggled to keep calm. "Well I wasn't! And don't forget that I'm the captain of this ship, and it's my decision alone. I'm sorry about what happened to the Momcorp ship, but at the end of the day it's my responsibility to protect THIS crew from danger."
Amy opened her mouth to say something back, but realising that Angela had a point, quickly shut it again. For a few moments an awkward silence hung in the air.
"I'm sorry," said Amy finally. She moved over to a seat and sat down. "You're right. It's just that sitting here watching while that ship was being d-destroyed." Amy gulped hard, and a tear ran down her cheek. "I felt so helpless."
Angela sat down next to Amy and placed a hand on her shoulder. "We all felt that way. But what happened wasn't our fault. All we could do was save ourselves." Amy nodded sadly. For a couple of minutes they sat in silence, both thinking about the destroyed vessel.
This time Angela broke the silence. "Wiseman's gonna have a field day with this."
Amy looked up. "Hm?"
A note of disgust crept into Angela voice. "'Alien raiders destroy Earth vessel on mission of mercy.' I can almost hear his speech now." Angela sighed. "I just have this feeling that if Wiseman wins, we're all in big trouble."
The rest of the journey to Gideon IV passed without incident. A few days later the Planet Express ship arrived back on Earth. Amy, Fry, Angela and Cubert trudged somberly down the ramp. A few moments later, Bender swaggered down the ramp, whistling happily.
Fry watched Bender in disbelief. "Jeez Bender, show a little respect! What are you so happy about, anyway?"
Bender lit a cigarette. "Just celebrating a highly profitable mission!"
"I don't understand," said Amy. "Profitable? What did you get out of it?"
Bender opened his chest cavity and fished out several boxes of medical supplies.
"Where did you get those?" asked Angela suspiciously. "Did you steal them from the aid supplies?"
Amy was shocked. "How can you be so mean as to steal from charity?"
"Quite easily," retorted Bender. "But actually I didn't steal them. Gideon IV's Health Minister traded them to me."
"I don't get it." Fry scratched his head in confusion. "I thought they needed those supplies urgently. Why are they just giving them away like that?"
"What DID you trade for them?" asked Angela.
"Their government asked for some small arms. You know, laser pistols, stun grenades. Something about exterminating the infidels on Gideon III." Bender walked out of the room, leaving the others speechless.
So the mission was a complete waste of time," said Amy as she entered the lounge, followed by Fry and Angela.
Angela could barely contain her fury. "And the worst part is that that crew died for nothing."
"Hey, guys!" yelled Bender. "Come and meet the new doctor!"
Fry, Amy and Angela walked over to the couch, where Bender was sitting next to a blonde woman. She turned her head as the three approached, and smiled broadly. "Hi, Philip!"
"Lucy? You're working here now?"
"Yep! I said I was bored with my old job, and you told me how great it is working here. So when I heard there was a vacancy, I applied straight away! Isn't this great? It'll be just like old times!"
"Old times?" wondered Amy aloud.
Fry remembered his manners. "Sorry, I ought to introduce you. Guys, this is Lucy Moon. She was a friend of mine back at high school. Lucy, this is Amy Wong and Angela Hanson."
Lucy shook the two girls' hands in turn. Unlike Fry and Amy when they'd first met her, Lucy didn't seem too perturbed by Angela's scars. Amy guessed that working in medicine, Lucy would have seen it all before. After the introductions were over, Angela sat down and switched on the TV. "We'd better see how much damage that incident's done."
The image showed Morbo and Linda hosting yet another election special. Morbo looked furious beyond belief. Linda on the other hand looked as cheerful as ever as she opened the report.
"Latest opinion polls suggest that sixty-seven percent of voters will vote for Jack Wiseman in next week's election. Wiseman's popularity reached new heights this week in the wake of the raider attack that destroyed a Momcorp cargo vessel on a mission of mercy to Gideon IV. Morbo?"
Morbo placed his papers down on the desk and stared directly at the camera. Amy almost felt as if he were staring THROUGH the camera, directly at everyone in the room. "FOOLS! Why do you continue to pledge your loyalty to this pathetic human? Jack Wiseman's anti-alien policies will destabilise the DOOP, plunge Earth into galactic conflict, and cost Morbo his cushy news anchor job!"
Angela put down the remote and headed for the door. "I can't listen to this anymore. I'm going across the road for a coffee. Anyone want to join me?"
Fry followed Angela. "Sounds good to me. Maybe we can get some food too! REAL food!"
Angela and Fry left the room, followed by Amy, Lucy and Bender. In their rush they forgot to turn the TV off. Linda carried on with the report.
"With Wiseman on the verge of victory it seems certain that we'll soon see some of his new security measures brought into operation, including the dismissal and incarceration of aliens serving in Earth's military. Currently the highest-ranking alien is Kif Kroker, first mate on the Nimbus. Will next week be a choker for Kroker? Watch this space to find out. Ha ha ha!"
TO BE CONTINUED
Thanks to Doug Hilliard for beta reading.
Thanks to Rye Guy, Ramon 51 and Spacedal11 for their support.