The Prophet Kaleepa once told us, “If you’re afraid of the n’granek’s teeth, don’t wander out into the jumbak trees.” Sacred Scroll XIII
Philip Fry began to sweat as several lights flashed on his instrument panel. He’d drilled so many times on such emergencies that he immediately recognized the problem as a stackfire. These old Harbin class freighters had temperamental engines, and were prone to this kind of problem when up against their overhaul times. These old beasts had to have their drive engines serviced constantly to avoid disaster. The ship began to shudder violently, which convinced him that it was a stackfire. He began to review the procedures in his mind: Initiate cold shutdown. Extend stabilizers 1 and 2. Activate PVL units – ready on the left, ready on the right. Erosion cams, green for go. He hit all the right buttons. Suddenly a cold mechanical voice began speaking; “Hull Broach; hull broach.” Nuts!! We’re leaching air! Something must have hit the ship!!
The ship’s shuddering increased as horrible scraping noises could be heard along hull. Oh my God – we’re losing hull plates! If only Leela were here, she’d know what to do. More klaxons and warning buzzers went off. Fry became more and more overwhelmed as nothing he did seemed to work. He pressed more buttons. He read more instruments. Then came the sound of the explosion. Everything went black.
When the lights came back up, Philip already had his head slumped down on the instrument panel.
“Philip Fry,” said instructor Chenirr Tal’emm, “you’ve destroyed another old freighter of mine, and the good people of Mars won’t be getting their eyephones for X-mas.”
“Very funny…why not just tell me that I’m a loser.”
Chenirr came out into the simulator room to speak with Fry. She was a comely Neptunian with the trademark purple skin and the four arms. “Fry, you’ve tried this twice already. Would it kill you to just stick with the co-pilot rating? At least for now?”
“That’s all I’ll ever be,” he lamented, “just a pizza delivery boy with a really slick pilot’s license.”
Chenirr sat in the seat next to Fry. “Philip, it’s got to be hard living in the shadow of Leela. Maybe you should quit trying to be her and start being who you are. I tell you what – instead of taking the bullet train back to New New York, why don’t you take one of the school’s Starchiefs home and just bring it back on the weekend. Just enjoy the shear pleasure of flying. Come back when you think you’re ready.” She handed him the clipboard with the starter key on it, and gave him a smile; she had trained Leela and Amy, and had known all of them for years.
“Maybe you’re right,” he told her, “thanks.” He gave her a wave, and headed out to the tarmac. He walked out to good old 566 Golf, and began to get it preflighted. She was a pretty butterscotch brown beast, and was always one of his favorites to fly. It would be a long flight from North Dakota back to the city, and he’d have time to think.
Fry lifted off of the tarmac at Devil’s Lake Training Center, and made a gentle turn to the south southeast toward Sioux Falls. He thought of how many star pilots had earned their wings at DLTC, and had gone into interstellar combat from there. All he wanted to do was become rated as a freighter captain, and he couldn’t seem to get that done. The site was actually chosen because of its brutal winter weather, and its similar aspects of the planet we were at war with at the time. As the sun started to dip down on the horizon, Fry made a low pass over the city of Sioux Falls…he was low enough to see the falls themselves. He checked his messages on his eyephone. One was from Leela wishing him luck on getting his captains wings today; she was on Cyclon and had no idea that he’d already blown it again. He then turned east and started heading towards home over the farmlands of Minnesota.
While Fry was busy on Earth trying to get his coveted pilot-in-command rating, Leela was on Cyclon trying to become a fifth level Firemaster. The training was brutal, and her muscles ached from the combat and physical training. Not only did it involve exhaustive training with the sharan-jii spears, but dangerous combat practice with the tricky ulushak daggers and wooden spears. She had already gotten a nasty nick from one of these daggers the other day, and really hadn’t mastered them yet. On top of that, she was being tested constantly on everything from sayings by The Lawgiver to quotes from the Prophet Kaleepa. When she wasn’t trying to massacre someone out on the fighting field, she had her head buried in some sacred text. Everywhere she’d go in the compound, little Master Xirasol would catch her and make her recite some obscure line from the sacred scrolls. Today was no different, as she saw the little man drilling his eye into her. She stood at attention, and prepared to recite.
“Initiate Turanga,” he spoke, “I want to ask you a question.”
“You are so adept at combat practice…but, tell me, why do you keep beating yourself up so badly?”
Instead of coming at her like a Marine drill instructor, he grabbed her arm and spoke to her like a father. “Initiate Leela, as you know, the fifth level of our training involves faith…the kind of faith that can carry you through any situation. The kind of faith that can take literally take you through the fire unharmed. I see your prowess as a warrior. I see fury. I see skill. But I’m not seeing much faith.” He gave her a smile as he squeezed her arm tightly. “Leela, I knew both your father and mother…they were good people. Your parents were also people of faith. They would be extremely proud of what you’re doing here.”
Leela had to choke back a tear. “You knew Momma and Daddy?”
“I fought alongside of your father as a young soldier. He was a good fighter, and a good friend.” With that, he strolled away.
“No sacred text today?” she asked.
“None today…have faith!” He waved at her as he walked away.
Leela wiped a tear from her eye and smiled.
At Desoxo corporate headquarters on Mars Jennifer Yoshida was headed up to the 13th floor for scheduled maintenance. The tiny Japanese woman was fitted with so much cyberwear that she was barely a human being. This all came about after a terrible shuttle crash a number of years ago, and the company literally put her back together again. She very calmly let them de-activate her for the procedure; they were going to place a device into her midsection. During the procedure she was opened up unceremoniously like a car engine. They never told her what the device was, but she figured this out on her own. There was only one thing it could have been.
Little Annie was finishing an engine overhaul on the Planet Express ship when Fry returned with his Starchief. She wiped her hands off with a rag and jogged over to pester him.
“Fry! Did you do it?” She could see by the glum look on his face that he hadn’t gotten his rating. “Oh, Fry…”
“Annie, I now officially suck. Do you think I can still snag a job delivering pizzas?”
As if things weren’t bad enough, Bender came loping through the hangar. “Hey,” he blurted out, “how’s the new star captain?”
Annie shot Bender a look of fury. “Oh,” replied Bender, “I think I’d better go out and check on my still…I’m gettin’ a little low on sugar.”
“You’re a little low on sugar, si chou gau!,” spat Annie.
“I am not a stupid smelly dog, Annie…” replied Bender as he left in a huff.
Jennifer Yoshida’s eyes opened up to see Desoxo CEO Colton Winchester’s ancient face. He looked over at the service tech next to him. “Can she hear me yet?” The tech nodded his head yes. “Jennifer, can you hear me?”
“Yes, Mr. Winchester. I can hear you.”
“Jennifer, did you receive company directive number 456?”
“Yes, I did, Mr. Winchester.”
“Would you please repeat it for me, Miss Yoshida?”
“Locate Employee Turanga Leela, and approach within 3 meters before activating the device. Ensure that there are no other civilians within blast radius.”
“Very good, Miss Yoshida.”
“But, Mr. Winchester, I’m already scheduled to go back to Japan for leave…to see my family…”
Colton gave her a serious look. “Jennifer, this operation is far too serious to be interrupted by anything…or anyone. I’m sorry…”
As Colton and the service tech left the room to talk, they didn’t notice a tear rolling down Jennifer’s cheek from her human eye; she was absolutely crushed. She knew that she would never be going back to Japan to see her family…the company that had once saved her life was now demanding that she give it up for them. The Bushido taught me that life is very fragrant, but very brief…if I have to die, warrior woman, I will make sure that you won’t have to…
Leela stood on the tournament platform with her ulushak daggers in her hands. Her opponent was a huge, heavy lug of a cyclops, who towered over her. I’m supposed to fight this big beast? He looks like a Yeti from Neptune. The combat drills weren’t held up by the weather – a summer thundershower was moving through the area, and everyone was soaked to the skin. He may have been big and clumsy, but he was fast and skilled with his weapons. In the darkness of the storm, flashes of lightning lit up the fighters. Master Xirasol stood at the edge of the platform. As the monster cyclops kept lunging at Leela, she could feel her strength draining out of her body – she was exhausted.
“Initiate Leela,” the master cried out, “recite the 64th sacred scroll!”
Leela had to hold back a chuckle, as she had always found this one amusing. “Master, the Prophet Kaleepa tells us never to sell the skin of the n’granek currently living in the forest.”
“Very good, Initiate Leela. Now have faith!”
Her cyclops opponent came in for a swing, but left himself in a vulnerable spot for just a second; Leela repaid this man for his stupidity by ramming the butt end of her dagger on the side of his head. His large body dropped to the mat, as he had nearly been knocked out cold.
Leela looked up at Master Xirasol. “You see, Leela, all it takes is a little faith. Now, let’s get in from this rainstorm…it’s cold and wet out here!” Leela helped the Lug Cyclops to his feet, and the entire class headed for the great hall.
“Bender,” Annie asked from underneath a cooling unit from the ship, “did you bring me my chicken sandwich?”
“Oh, yeah…got it right here.”
Annie’s hand probed around on the concrete for the sandwich. “Can I have it?”
“Sure…it’s right here.”
Bender put a sack in Annie’s hand. She reached into the bag and felt something that didn’t feel like a sandwich – Bender had put a small white mouse into the bag. Annie’s scream could be heard through most of the building as Bender bolted from the hangar.
“Bender!!! Aiya!!” Annie went on the hunt for the robot with a large wrench “Dao mei! Dao mei! Where are you, Tin Man? Grrrr! Ku pa!! Tian ah!! I’m gonna kill you!!”
Dr. Zoidberg looked inside of the bag, and pulled the mouse out by his tail. “Why all the screaming? This could make for a nice lunch.”
Fry took the afternoon off and did something he hadn’t done in quite a while – he went to the mausoleum out on Long Island to see the memorial of Hubert Farnsworth. After walking by dozens and dozens of black screens, he finally arrived at the correct one. As soon as he touched the screen, the image of the Professor appeared.
“Good news, everyone!” Farnsworth was still fairly healthy when he made these videos; he wasn’t even bound to his hoverchair yet.
A mechanical female voice came from the screen. “Please select a personalized message, or select a topic of discussion from your departed loved one.” Fry decided to pick a random topic, and let the computer decide. The word “faith” popped up on the screen.
“Ah, faith,” the Professor chortled, “this must be Philip Fry requesting this one. And if you’re here looking up this topic, it must be a bumpy situation for you. I don’t really know much about faith, but I can say that I’ve had faith in most of my inventions…my favorites were the doomsday devices. Anyway, I know you’ve had a rough time of it, Fry, being bounced from pillar to post and cryogenically frozen and all. Even as a young man delivering pizzas, I know you’ve had a tough time knowing where you fit in. When you found a love in Leela, you at least found something. If it helps you any, I have faith in you Fry. I always did. Take heart, young man.”
The woman’s mechanical voice chimed back in. “Thank you for your selection. Please feel free to make another selection, or to return to main menu.”
Fry quietly left the mausoleum and hailed an air rickshaw back to the Planet Express building. As the vehicle lifted into the air, Fry put on a Rush song onto his eyepod. The lyrics caught his attention:
“Each of us, a cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends with uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt that's far too fleet.”
“Holy speedo from Toledo…are you tryin’ to bankrupt us Cubert?!”
“Why…what’s the problem, Hermes?”
“Do you know how much electrical power you used last month? That stuff ain’t free, ya greensnake!”
“It’s just for my experiments…”
“We are now owned by the Desoxo Corporation…and we have to fall within their guidelines. They can throw us out into the street, mon! I gotta letter here from them just today – it’s probably more bad news about you, ya power hungry mad scientist.”
Hermes opened the message, and his jaw dropped.
“What, Hermes…what?” Cubert lifted up his welding helmet.
“My God mon…you’ve just been called into military service…”
“What, at my age? By the Stellar Union?”
Hermes looked up in shock at Cubert. “No…by Desoxo…you are to report to their weapons labs in a week…”
“Miss Yoshida,” Colton Winchester asked, “could you send me the file on Turanga Leela?”
“Yes, sir.” Jennifer projected a screen into the air, and waved her hand to transfer the file.
“This is very interesting…it seems that Miss Turanga is going to be making a stopover on Dorsini Minor on the way back home from her planet. And her husband just blew his second try at becoming a captain.” He sat back and sipped a cup of coffee. “It looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me. I need to send some messages, Miss Yoshida…”
Morgan Proctor was working in her office as director of the Lord Garth Medical Institute on Van Gelder 5, where she had been “exiled” by the Desoxo Corporation after failing to strand Leela there. She had hated every day that she’d had to work there. A chime told her that she had a priority message waiting on her wrist computer. She tapped the screen to read the message.
::The fugitive Turanga Leela has been captured and is currently being held at the Starport on Dorsini Minor. You will be needed at a corporate inquiry there for her. Again, thanks for all of your efforts in trying to apprehend her. Thanks for all you do.::
Morgan stood up from her desk and pumped her arm. “Yesss!!!”
Amy was walking home after doing some shopping on her lunch break. She got cornered by a protestor handing out data chips. She hoped that the man didn’t notice her, but he zeroed in on her anyway. “Miss, would you like to read about how the Stellar Union is trying to protect your job?”
“Mister, I could lose my job just by talking to you. I hate that the Desoxo Corporation owns everything, but there is not much I can do about it.”
“I understand, ma’am. Would you please take a chip anyway?”
He seemed so nice and well mannered. “Oh, okay…sure.”
As soon as she took the chip, her wrist computer chirped out an 80’s song. She read the message. “Grrrr! I have to show up as a flight instructor? On Mars? When? Da sei ne!”
A small elderly Chinese man was standing next to Amy when she said this. He looked up at Amy to speak with her. “That Colton Winchester…huai dan, huai dan!”
“You’re right about that, mister…he is definitely a bad egg…”
Morgan had time to kill in the spaceport at Dorsini Minor. As she began to check for messages on her wrist computer, she was at a loss as to why access to her accounts was being blocked. Morgan had worked for so many years with the cyber grid that she had become an expert at simple hacking. Something popped up that she wasn’t supposed to see.
“What in the hell is directive number 456 II?” she mumbled. It was blocked, but Morgan was a wizard at figuring out the bypass codes for blocked files.
“Initiate Leela…stand to be recognized.”
Turanga Leela stepped forward to receive her ceremonial dagger. It had been six long grueling weeks of intensive study and training…now she had earned the right to be called “priestess” along with her other titles. She accepted her dagger, and gave the Grand Matron a bow. She then bowed to Master Xirasol. As she rejoined her classmates, she got cornered by the Lug Cyclops that she had knocked to the ground. As she started to shake his hand, he gave her a big hug like she was a child. She thought he was going to crush her. She had underestimated how much soul this big monster of a man actually had.
As she got her things together to leave, Master Xirasol came by to talk with her. “You’re leaving us?”
“I’ve got to get back to my family,” she answered, “I really miss them.”
“What, you’re not wearing your ceremonial dagger?”
“I’m going to be switching ships at Dorsini Minor…no weapons allowed. It’s got to go in with my luggage.”
“Oh, that’s right. Miss Turanga, I want you to have something.”
“Oh, you don’t have to do that…”
Master Xirasol took a crystal on a leather strap off of his neck and handed it to Leela with a smile.
“Master Xirasol, I couldn’t possibly…”
“Leela, this belonged to your father. If you look at it closely on the back, you can see the image of your mother and father. He gave it to me for safekeeping on the day of the battle.”
As Leela gazed at the crystal, she got choked up. She had never seen what her parents had looked like.
“Can you believe it, Fry? They want you to report for more flight training on Mars.”
“Where did this come from, Hermes?”
“It came straight from Desoxo Headquarters. Maybe you can get that captain’s rating after all. They must see something in you – things are looking up for you, Fry!”
Bender came in to the lounge to grab a beer. “Hey Bender,” asked Fry, “what is that on your back?”
“It looks like a bumper sticker. It says: My name is Bender…I am a complete idiot. If found, please return to the Planet Express Building.”
“Aw, nuts…Annie must have put that on me.”
Suddenly, the familiar giggle of Annie could be heard. The three of them began looking around the lounge, but they couldn’t find her. Suddenly Bender spotted Annie’s eyes against the bricks of the wall – they had forgotten that she inherited her father’s gift of invisibility for short periods of time. The rest of her was hidden behind the couch. She bolted from the room laughing, and Bender went running after her.
Leela stepped off of the passenger ship on Dorsini Minor, and strolled through the spaceport looking for a quick lunch. It was a typical scene there…young medical missionaries headed out to all different parts of the galaxy. As you’d expect to find in any spaceport, there were video screens hanging from suspensor units. Usually, Leela didn’t pay any attention to these, but something this time caught her eye – her face was on the screens. She walked over to the closest one to hear what the newscaster had to say. Her jaw dropped as the man described her as a fugitive wanted in the murders of several people on Mars. Not knowing what else to do, she quickly found a maintenance door and slipped out into the night.
“This is damned irregular, Fry,” said instructor Chenirr Tal’emm, “but I’ve got orders from corporate to cut you loose on a training flight. Here’s the control key to the Ning-Po – all I want you to do is to get into orbit around Jupiter and await instructions. She is standing by at docking bay 12. She’s just had maintenance done to her engine nacelle, so be gentle with her. I don’t know what corporate is thinking, but be safe out there. I don’t even know how safe the Ning is to fly anymore.”
Leela found herself a fugitive on a planet where she wasn’t permitted to carry any offensive weaponry. The Dorsinians were a very religious people, and shunned violence of any kind. Even their police and security forces were armed mainly with tap sticks and stunner pistols. They also used sound weapons. She slowly made her way through a grove of trees outside of the Starport terminal, and her soft leather boots made it possible for her to be very stealthy. But what now?
Leela stopped dead in her tracks as she heard a noise. As she listened closer, it almost sounded like a woman sobbing. She quietly crept up to the sound, and discovered a woman behind a tree. It was Morgan. She grabbed her and threw her against the trunk of the tree.
“Morgan Proctor!” she yelled. “You stupid cheeg, you die today!”
As Leela pulled her hand back to make a fatal strike, Morgan put her arms up in front of her face to defend herself. “Leela,” she cried, “If you’re going to kill me, get it over with quick!”
Leela couldn’t help but notice her own name on the computer screen on Morgan’s arm. Her eyeball focused on it, and she turned her head as she leaned in closer. She then grabbed the arm so she could read it.
:: Locate Employee Turanga Leela, and approach within 3 meters before activating the device. Ensure that there are no other civilians within blast radius. Consider employees Morgan Proctor and Philip J. Fry as expandable targets of opportunity. If possible, terminate all three together.::
“Morgan, what the hell is this all about?”
Morgan slowly lowered her arms. She was still nicely dressed for her “hearing”, and her mascara had run down her face from crying. “Were you really going to kill me?”
“Morgan, just tell me what you know.”
“Don’t you get it? That idiot Colton Winchester is getting ready to go to war against the Stellar Union. He’s tying up all of his loose ends…and we’re the loose ends.” She composed herself and wiped her eyes. “Do you promise not to kill me?”
Leela drilled her eye sternly into Morgan’s eyes, first looking at the left and then the right. “I just spent the last six weeks studying about faith. I have to have faith in you…but if you betray that faith, even for a minute, I will snap your neck in three places. Are we clear on this?”
“Clear…” Morgan said as she shook her head in agreement.
Far above Cyclon, the Union cruiser Suribachi pursued a corporate raider ship that had defied its blockade above the planet. The raider was nimble, but the Suribachi came from a proud naval tradition; her crewmembers were well trained on battle tactics, and many of her crew had seen war. The corporate vessel stood little chance of escape…she made the mistake of engaging Suribachi with her maser cannons as she went past. The destruction of the raider would be the first blood shed in the war.
“Make missile tubes 1 and 2 ready in all respects,” barked Suribachi’s captain.
“Ready in all respects, aye-aye sir.”
“I will match the enemy’s course and speed, and then I intend to prosecute the enemy,” said the captain. “Plot a solution.”
The corporate ship was nimble, but ‘bachi was fairly agile for her size.
“Fire missile tube one,” said the captain. The crewmembers of Suribachi felt a shudder as the missile left the ship. In spite of all the technical gadgetry that the corporate ship had, she was no match for an antimatter missile. Parts of her shattered hull caught fire as they entered the Cyclonian atmosphere. While some of the younger crewmembers cheered, the captain felt a sense of loss that several dozen people had just given their lives in the name of corporate greed.
On the surface of Cyclon, two children watched the flashes of light in the night sky. Their father, Leela’s friend Kirth, came out to see what his kids were up to. “What are you guys doing out here?” he asked.
The daughter pointed to sky. “Look at the shooting star, Daddy…”
Fry’s flight to Jupiter was uneventful, and at times a tiny bit boring. Freighter Ning-Po was an old Oxford class merchant ship with the same tricky engines as the Harbin freighters. He’d heard horror stories of the erosion cams suddenly just exploding for no apparent reason. His eyephone chimed, and he answered it. The call was from Leela, but there was no video signal.
“Fry,” she said in an excited voice, “Fry, you’ve got to help me!”
“Leela, what’s going on?”
Static. “Fry I’m on Dorsini Minor, and I’m in a lot of trouble…you’ve got to come and help me!” More static.
“Leela, where are you? Are you at the monastery with your friend Zhokita?”
A pause. “Yes…come quick, baby – I need you!” The call was cut off.
Fry was faced with a terrible choice. Do what they tell him to and maybe earn his captains wings, or go to help Leela and possibly never fly again. He looked at his wedding ring, and turned to the astrogator panel. Freighter Ning-Po lurched out of Jupiter’s strong orbital pull, and headed out into deep space. If he had to be a delivery boy for the rest of his life, it would be worth it just knowing that Leela was safe and sound.
At corporate headquarters on Mars, Colton Winchester gazed at Jenni Yoshida with admiration. “That was very nicely done, Jennifer. I really liked the part about ‘come quick, baby – I need you.’ Do you think it will work?”
Jennifer just sat there silent, like an office machine. The human part of her just died inside. She’d never done anything so wickedly evil in her life, and she hated herself for it.
“Jennifer, please send in Benny.”
“Where are we going to go?” asked Morgan.
“We are going to stay at a friend’s monastery.”
“A monastery? What, with nuns?”
“Have you got a better idea, Miss thing?”
As they walked along through the trees, Morgan talked more with Leela. “Can I ask you something?”
“Appropriate choice of words…what is a cheeg?”
“I apologize for calling you that term. It wasn’t right of me to do so.”
“But what is it?”
She looked at Morgan. “It’s short for cheegaven’aa. It’s the first thing a Desoxo businessman looks for when he lands on Cyclon. It’s a ‘tarmac toad’ that hangs around a spaceport. Get the picture? Again, I apologize for calling you that…I shouldn’t have used that word.”
“That’s okay, Leela…it’s only human to be that angry at me…I guess I deserve it.”
Leela spun around to face Morgan. She again looked angry. “Let’s get one thing straight, missy – I am not a human. It’s because of you damned human beings that I’m in this situation right now.”
“But you’re married to one…”
“Yeah…he may be all thumbs, but he’s got a heart of gold. And right now he doesn’t have a clue that I’m in this mess…”
“It must be nice to have someone that cares for you,” Morgan said somberly.
Philip Fry took a moment to snag a cup of coffee from a food processor in the Ning-Po; he regretted this, as it was bitter and awful tasting. As he was returning to the CIC, the ship suddenly bucked; he managed to spill coffee all over his shirt. He ran to the control panel to find that his worst fears had been realized – an erosion cam in the drive motor had exploded. The ship was now shaking, much like his simulators had back on Mars. Only, this was no simulation. He could die out here in space, and Leela would never know what happened to him. No one ever would. He felt like he had cotton in his mouth as he began to panic.
“I wish Leela were here,” he blurted out. “Hey, wait a minute – if she were here, she’d tell me to man-up and handle the situation. I’m the only one here…I’ve gotta get us out of this mess.”
Fry suddenly remembered a nerdy mnemonic for just this situation: “Slurm Is Best For The Pilot’s Rest.” Every first letter stood for either a switch or a gauge, and the last two, P and R, stood for “procedure repeat.” Fry began to flip switches and buttons like a master pilot. He went through the procedure again, and the shuddering stopped. Red lights started turning green again. While repairs were needed at some point, the Ning-Po was out of danger.
Fry managed his best stern Leela voice. “Philip J. Fry,” he said, “you are going to die someday, but it won’t be here and it won’t be today!” He smiled and thought to himself that Leela would have been proud. He hoped that he would actually see her again.
Leela and Morgan reached the monastery by sun-up. Leela’s friend Zhokita welcomed them both in, and got them cups of herbal tea. Morgan was fascinated by the hundreds of boxes stacked inside the monastery. “What are these?” she asked.
“Medical supplies. Herbs. This planet is practically a lush garden of medicinal remedies.”
“What does that have to do with religion? I’m not getting the connection.”
“It has everything to do with it. It is the ethos of these people – go out and heal.”
“How come I’ve never heard of these people?”
“Maybe because they don’t throw their weight around with guns like the rest of you humans,” Leela snapped. “All they want to do is go out to the stars and heal as many as people as they can. You’ve probably been healed at some point by their medicines, and didn’t even know it.”
“Well,” Morgan retorted, “it’s a pretty damned inefficient operation they’ve got here…I could whip this place into shape and make the whole place run at least 23% more efficiently.”
Leela squinted her eye in annoyance at Morgan.
Colton’s personal yacht the L’image was a sleek, beautiful craft. Owning it meant that he and his top Desoxo executives didn’t have to go through security like the rest of the schmucks in the universe. Benny climbed the steps and piled into the yacht with Jennifer. The seats were nice leather bucket seats. Benny felt like he was really starting to go places. He was a big tanned guy with a ponytail of black hair, and was built rather like a sumo wrestler. He gave Jenni a confused look.
“What, no pilot?”
“I’m the pilot,” Jenni responded.
“You know how to fly one of these things?”
Jennifer loaded a chip into the slot on her neck. The little red light on her artificial eye began to flash. “I do now.”
The L’image lifted up and left its corporate pad. As it pulled away from Mars and prepared to make its jump from the outer marker, Benny started to blather and brag about himself. He had an irritating habit of cracking his knuckles, which irritated Jenni to no end.
“So,” Benny asked, “have you ever met this Leela person?”
“They talk like she’s all that…some sort of witch woman or something. She’s taken a bunch of martial arts stuff – well, so have I. And, you know, her neck will snap the same way anyone else’s will.”
“So,” Jenni continued, “you’ve killed before…”
“Oh, yeah…I’ve seen combat.”
“You know that there are two others.”
“Haw…a woman and a girly man. The warrior woman is the one I want a piece of…fighting her would at least be sporting for a guy like me.
Jennifer looked at him with disgust. I have a feeling that you’re going to see more bloodshed than you bargained for, Mr. Combat. “So tell me, Benny, do you know what a kamikaze was?”
“Miss Leela,” Brother Zhokita said, “You’ve got a visitor.”
“A visitor? But I…”
Fry came into the room. “Leela! It’s good to see that you’re alright.”
“Fry baby, what are you doing here?”
“I got your message!”
“Message? What message?”
“Didn’t you send me…but, you called me..”
“Oh, crap,” said Morgan. “with Captain America here, it’s a sure bet that Colton knows we’re here too. We have to get out of here quick.”
Brother Zhokita showed the three of them out into a large vineyard. Unfortunately, they didn’t know that Benny and Yoshida were tracking their every movement.
“So if it isn’t the warrior woman,” said Benny, surprising the three. They turned around in the vineyard to see their two adversaries. “Your running days are over, Miss Leela, or whatever the hell they call you now. I’m calling you out.”
“Benny?” Morgan asked, “from the mailroom?”
“Shut up!” Benny shot back.
“Didn’t you used to take CW’s car out to be washed?” Morgan asked sarcastically.
“Shut up, Morgan. No more stalling for time. Your running days are over.”
“Well,” Morgan shot back, “if you’re going to kill us all anyway, what exactly were your orders?”
“Okay…I was told to deliver the package.”
“Jennifer honey,” Morgan said, “why don’t you show Einstein here the package.”
Jenni Yoshida stood placidly as several small doors on her chest opened up. Inside was a silver object shaped like a baseball bearing the yellow-painted words “Front Towards Enemy.”
“What in the hell is that?” Benny shouted.
“Why Benny,” Jenni said sweetly, “I thought you’d seen combat.”
“Him?” Morgan quipped. “He went to the war…he was a cook. The deadliest thing he ever made was his signature meatloaf.”
“That,” Leela interjected, “is an M735 anti-personnel mine. It works a little like det cord, but instead of the energy being focused inward, it’s directed out in all directions on a flat plane.”
“You are just another expendable commodity, Benny,” said Morgan.
Fry snickered, “Boy, did you get played!”
Benny, still panicked looking, shot a glance at Jenni. “Well, you have your orders…carry them out.”
Jennifer began to walk up to the three like a cold piece of machinery as the doors on her belly closed. And then something happened – she stopped. She began crying, and couldn’t conceal it. She began to tremble as she cried; the tears only rolled down from the human eye.
“What the hell are you stopping for?” Benny barked. “Get over there and carry out your orders!”
Morgan turned to Leela. “Honey, we could use some of that famous faith of yours right about now…”
“That doesn’t mean that I’m not scared out of my wits,” responded Leela. “Jennifer, honey, you don’t have to do this.”
By now Jennifer was sobbing like a frightened child. “I don’t want to. I don’t want to hurt any of you. But I can’t go against my programming.”
“Jennifer,” Benny yelled, “get over there and carry out your orders!”
Jenni’s face went blank again like a machine, and she started to slowly march up to the three. Instinctively they shrank back, but they knew that they could never outrun her with all the cyberwear in her legs. Leela quietly murmured a prayer under her breath.
Jennifer stopped once again. “Jennifer, please…” Leela continued. The tiny Japanese woman lowered her head and began to cry again.
“I don’t want to,” she sobbed, “but I don’t have a bypass code!”
“Oh,” Morgan piped up sternly, “a bypass code is what you need?” She began typing on her wrist computer. “Leela, I may not have the fighting ability that you have, but in the cyber world, I am a mighty warrior…”
“Don’t you dare give her that code!” Benny yelled.
Morgan’s eyes peered above her glasses. “Or what? You’ll kill me? Jennifer, you should be getting that code right about…now!”
Jennifer stood like a statue. The three noticed that her mechanical eye, which usually had a red light on it was blinking green. Oddly, she began to smile amid the tears. She turned to Morgan. “Miss Proctor,” she said, almost like she was speaking to a school teacher, “this means that I get to make a free decision, doesn’t it?”
“Well, yes it does, honey…”
“Jennifer – you get over there and carry out your orders…now!” yelled Benny.
Jennifer turned to face Benny. He turned white, and began to back away.
The three watched in shock as Jennifer began pacing up to Benny, who backed off even further. She turned to Leela. “We flew over a stone grotto on the way over here, didn’t we?”
“Yes, “Leela replied, “It’s just south of us…through those fields.”
Jenni turned and started walking in the direction of the grotto. What started out as a walk became a jog. The jog became a run. As she broke out into an empty field of grass, Leela and Fry went running behind.
“Leela!” Fry yelled, “don’t get too close!”
Leela was in really good physical shape from all of her training, but Jennifer Yoshida had been built into something that could run faster than any human could. Machinery and nanobots had made her into a person that could run at super human speeds. She sped across the flat, grassy field, with the others running behind. “Jenni,” Leela yelled, “please – you don’t have to do this!”
When Jennifer reached the stone grotto, she dove into it. The explosion knocked Leela and Fry off of their feet, but the grotto shielded the two of them from the blast effects. It also saved them from being hit with the ball bearings. Leela went running up to the scene and found Jenni in pieces on the ground, much like a child’s doll that had its legs and an arm pulled off. Leela walked up to her, and made a religious sign up to her forehead with her hands. Jennifer’s mouth began to open to speak, and Leela crouched down to listen. Jenni smiled up at her.
“I finally get to meet Leela, the famous mystic warrior woman,” Jenni said in a weak voice.
“Oh, honey,” Leela replied, “what did you do to yourself?”
“Your hair is so pretty,” she told her, focusing her human eye on her, “I’ve only seen you in pictures. Jenni winced, and then continued. “They wired me up with this device, I couldn’t stop them.”
Leela began to rub Jenni’s hair, much like she did with her daughter when she was a child. “Why did you do this? We could have gotten you some help.”
“The bomb was tamper proof…you would have died trying to remove it.” She looked into Leela’s eye. “I made the first free decision in years…and I have no regrets.”
“But this whole mission thing…”
“I couldn’t hurt you…I admire you. I want you to always run free, warrior woman. The one thing that they couldn’t program out of me was what little humanity that I had left. I don’t think they knew what to do with that little human piece of me. I just want you and Fry to be happy…and free.”
“You know that they’re going to fire you for this…” said Leela with a sad smile.
Jenni smiled, and then winced in pain again. “Don’t do that, Leela…it hurts me when I laugh.”
She looked sadly down at Jennifer. “You know that if they find what’s left of you, they’ll just construct another bot…”
“I know…Leela, I want you to do something for me.”
“Name it, honey.”
“I have a kill switch here in the back of my shoulder…”
Leela looked at her in horror as the smile melted off of her face. “I can’t do that…”
“Please, listen to me. Before you do that, I need you to initiate a full purge of my memory files. I don’t want them to be able to use anything when they come for me.”
With a trembling hand, Leela started the memory dump on the computer screen on Jennifer’s arm. At first, all Leela could see on the screen were dozens of files and company paperwork.
“Leela,” she asked, “could you please hold the arm up so I can see it.”
Complying, she held the arm up. Soon the images of paperwork and files were replaced by moving pictures of people. Leela’s eye got large.
“These are my childhood memories, Leela. After my refit, I wasn’t able to access them.” A tear rolled down her natural eye. “That’s my family in Sapporo.” Everything was there – birthday parties, school, friends. She grabbed Leela’s wrist tightly with her remaining natural arm. “Domo arigatou.”
“Ie ie,” Leela replied, which literally meant “no problem.”
As the memories became a blur, the screen soon went blank. What was once Jennifer Yoshida from Sapporo was gone. Her hand that had held Leela’s wrist so tightly dropped to the ground. Leela gently closed Jenni’s eyes, and softly spoke a prayer. May the hosts of heaven welcome you into the great banquet hall, little one. With this, she wept bitterly for a couple of minutes. Fry and Morgan stood there silently. A tear rolled down Morgan’s cheek; it seemed that even the dragon lady’s heart could be pierced. She knew that Jennifer was a hard working young woman that had been sucked into a terrible situation. And, as she had promised, Leela activated the kill switch on Jennifer. She gently laid what was left of her natural body back on the ground.
Brother Zhokita and several other monks finally arrived at the scene. “Miss Leela…what would you like us to do?”
She stood up. “I need you to take this woman’s body and cremate it. I need the ashes in a container to take with me.”
“What about all of this cyber gear?”
“The cyber gear…just dig a hole and dump it all in,” she said.
As Leela walked back to the monastery, she encountered the hulking mass of Benny sitting on a large stone. He stood up. She stared into his eyes with her eye. “Benny, am I going to expect any trouble out of you? You realize that none of these people here are your enemies.”
“No,” Benny said. “Those stupid idiots tried to kill me!”
“Next question: do you have honor as a warrior? Then you know what you must do. End this…and end it now.”
“What the hell?” He still looked sore, but he stared down at the ground. “I don’t see that it matters now anyway.” With that, Benny looked into Leela’s cycloptic eye. “I do have honor as a warrior.” With that, Benny walked away without saying another word.
After some rest and food, Fry and Leela were ready for the trip back home. “I parked the Ning-Po over in a field…”
“Oh, no,” Leela said, “we are not flying that scrap heap home.” She pulled out the control key to Colton’s personal yacht and put it into Fry’s hand. “I found this near Jennifer. We are flying home in style. Besides, I want to see the famous star pilot in action.”
Fry looked down at his shoes. “Well, that may be the last time I fly anywhere…at least legally…”
They met up with Morgan, who was already doing paperwork with her computer. “Morgan, I misjudged you,” she told her. “And if I may say so, you’re alright…for a human.”
Morgan smiled. “Coming from you, I take that as a compliment.”
“Well, let’s get going…we’re taking the corporate yacht. Big Benny is on his own.”
“I’m not leaving with you, Leela.”
Shocked and surprised, Leela looked back. “You’re staying here?”
“Well, I won’t have a job to go back to…and somebody has to whip these guys into shape.” Leela looked over at Brother Zhokita, who smiled and nodded his head. “I’ve already got this operation running 11% more efficiently than it was. Their warehouse was a mess!”
As Morgan got ready to shake Leela’s hand, she suddenly got a big hug from the warrior priestess. Morgan had a look of surprise on her face. “What?” Leela asked.
“I…I can’t remember the last time someone hugged me, Leela.” As they got ready to depart, they could hear Morgan barking orders to the monastery brothers, like they were elves in Santa’s workshop. “Hey! Where are you going with that box? That doesn’t go there – it goes back in the warehouse!”
“Hey, Fry,” Morgan said, “congratulations on getting your wings.”
Fry now really looked down in the mouth. “That’s never going to happen, now that I’ve pirated the Ning-Po. But I’ll be okay. It was worth it to help Leela.”
“Oh, don’t be so sure, Philip,” she said with a wicked smile, “these things have a way of working themselves out.”
As Janna Markko quickly sprinted up to the 13th floor of the Desoxo building on Mars, she couldn’t help but think about Jennifer Yoshida not being there. She walked into the room with the mysterious board members, whose faces were still hidden from view by the lights.
“This is an unusual visit, Miss Markko,” said a male board member with a southern American accent.
“This could not wait,” Janna responded. “You need to see this right now; this message was sent from an eyephone.” She pulled a data chip out and inserted it into a holo player. The three-dimensional image of Morgan Proctor appeared. Morgan looked tired, and was standing in the stone grotto where Jenni Yoshida had met her end. She mockingly held up Jennifer’s cybernetic arm to the camera, which still had carbon scoring from the explosion.
“Do you see this, gentlemen?” Morgan said in a dry, sarcastic tone. “This and the rest of these bits lying around are all that’s left of Miss Jennifer Yoshida.” A gasp came from one of the board members. “Actually,” Morgan continued, “this was supposed to be a group photo. You expected to see the mangled bodies of Philip Fry, Turanga Leela, as well as yours truly here, lying dead on the ground. Then you could have congratulated yourselves on how clever you were at the next company barbeque. You are still having those Martian barbeques? I really liked them. I’m sure Jennifer here did as well, if she still had a human stomach to enjoy the food with.”
“Damn it to hell! We need to eliminate this woman immediately!” said a board member. Another one shushed him.
Morgan looked closely into the camera. “You killed a really decent young woman. I can’t get you people fired, but I may be able to save a few lives. The operation is over. End this phony war now before anyone else gets killed. Benny failed, and will have to go back to poisoning people down at Burger Masters, or wherever the hell you found him.” Morgan then made a morbid waving gesture with Jenni’s cybernetic arm. “Oh, and Jennifer here says ‘hi’.” With that, the holo went to snow and then faded out.
“Miss Markko,” said a board member, this time an older Korean woman, “you know what needs to be done.”
“Yes ma’am, I do,” Janna responded. “I already have a proposal…”
At the New Plymouth Shipyards, Instructor Chenirr Tal’emm was waiting for Fry and Leela. And, as expected, she was ready to pounce.
“Philip J. Fry…you jacked my ship! I want to see you in my office…we have a situation.”
“Chenirr,” interjected Leela, “could I speak with you before you talk with Fry?”
“Fine…come with me.”
Amy was there with them, and squeezed Fry’s shoulder. “It’ll be okay.”
Leela and Chenirr emerged from her office. She came over to address Fry. “Philip Fry…”
“Uh, before you speak, just let me say that I’m sorry. I know I’ve done something wrong by…uh..borrowing, I mean, stealing a ship. I realize that I’ll never fly again, and I’m willing to accept any punishment that you have for me.”
“Philip J. Fry, we have a strange situation brewing here. Leela just explained to me why you did what you did. But there is something else afoot here. The CEO of the company himself requested you for this training mission. And now it seems that a top company official has signed off on your captain’s rating. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you? It seems that I have no other choice but to sign you off as a ship’s captain.”
Fry’s jaw dropped open. Amy punched him in the arm and yelled, “You did it, you big lug! You got your rating!”
“Now, wait! There is one more matter that needs to be settled,” Chenirr continued. “Fry, you are officially short one solo cross-system flight.”
Leela smiled and held up the container holding Jennifer’s ashes. “Would a trip to Sapporo Japan work?”
“It just might.”
“And,” Amy shot in, “how about dinner at a restaurant in Hong Kong that my daddy used to own?”
“That would definitely work. Fry – you know what comes next. Give me your shirt!”
Amy and Leela smiled and began chanting, “Shirt, shirt, shirt…”
Fry smiled and took his trademark red jacket off. As the girls continued chanting, Chenirr grabbed Fry’s shirt by its collar and ripped it off of his back. With a smile, she pulled out a permanent marker and began to write on the white cotton shirt.
“On this date,” she spoke as she wrote on the shirt, “Philip J. Fry has officially earned his captain’s rating.” As Fry put his jacket back on, Chenirr firmly shook his hand. Amy popped a few pictures with her eyephone. “And Fry,” Chenirr quipped with a smile, “don’t steal any more of my ships!” You can still go back to the training school at the New Plymouth Shipyards on Mars to this day, and Fry’s shirt still proudly hangs on the wall with all of the others.
It was a sunny, misty morning on Mars as company official Janna Markko drove Colton Winchester over to a car lot to pick up his vehicle. Winchester wasn’t familiar with this place, which was in a remote location off of the Bradbury Turnpike.
“Janna, I really appreciate you driving me over like this. That stupid car of mine is always on the fritz.”
“Not a problem, CW,” she said in her thick Finnish accent. Colton always found her attractive; she was tall and athletic, with short-cut red hair and alabaster skin. Maybe today he’d ask her out.
“Well?” Colton asked, “aren’t you going to fill me in on how things went? I’ve been fly-fishing up at that cabin for two days. I haven’t heard anything yet. I don’t even have an eyephone on me.”
“You know why we had to do that, CW. Just another buffer to protect you,” Janna said. She pulled into the car lot. “You’re going to like the news…the famous warrior woman Turanga Leela is dead, along with her idiot husband and that annoying Morgan Proctor. We’re just now waiting on reports to flow in from the war.”
As they stepped out of the car, Colton looked up and down the lot. “Where’s my car anyway?”
“Colton, that silver job there is your car. Compliments of the 13th floor.”
“This? Wow! It’s a Wembley/Wentworth 3500 TDE! My God, these things start at around 300,000 Martian Credits.”
“Well, hop in and see how it feels. It’s already been programmed to your voice.
“Door open,” Colton said. The door swung open and the seat swiveled around for easier access. Colton eagerly climbed in. “I used to tell my friends that the ‘TDE’ part stood for
Totally Decked-out Edition’…they used to tell me back that it meant ‘Too Damned Expensive’,” he said with a chuckle.
“Again, it’s just a simple way of expressing our thanks, CW. Take the day off and go and play!”
Colton ran his hand across the instrument panel. The car even had a great new-car smell. He continued lusting after his new car. “Door close,” he said, then, “window open.” The seat swung into position, and the door shut. Now came the time to put that mighty powerplant into action. “Engine start,” he said. The Landborg-Padgett turbine engine came to life and purred like a contented cat.
“I drove that old Kawanishi Amigo for years,” he said to himself, “I hope they dumped it into one of the canals. I now have a car that is worthy of my station. This could be the best day of my life; they’ve always told me that I should live every day like it could be my last.” He turned to the tall Finnish woman standing outside of the car. “Janna…why don’t you hop in? I know this great little place in town for lunch…”
“I don’t see why not,” she said in her accent. “Colton, why don’t we celebrate.” With that, she walked around to the other side and opened the passenger door.
He just couldn’t believe all the extras that the car had. The sound system had already started playing Puccini’s Recondita Armonia, which was one of his favorites. His mind started to drift back to his passenger, but he was still preoccupied with all the extras on his new car.
“Tell me, Janna, what’s your home like in Finland?”
“Well, it’s pretty damn cold there right now…”
Colton’s eyes got huge, as the voice was a husky male one. He turned in horror to see who it was. “Benny? What the…”
At the Planet Express headquarters, Hermes Conrad hastily threw together a meeting. He had lots of ground to cover. “First off,” he said, “let me start off by saying that we won’t be going to war…as you might have seen on the vidscreens, that wicked asp Colton Winchester is dead, and his top executives have declared the war over.”
“Dead?” asked Annie, “how can he be dead?”
“If you must know the gory details, he was found in his car with his neck broken by a police officer near the turnpike in Olympica City. Moving on…”
As a cheer rang out from Little Annie, Hermes continued. “I’m not finished yet, Annie. Also, and I don’t even believe what I’m readin’ here, Philip J. Fry has officially earned his corporate captain’s rating.” More cheering and hoots.
“I am not finished yet, people. Are you done yet? Can I continue? Okay. In udder news, our own Turanga Leela has completed her fifth level of Firemaster training, and the bunch of them will be headed home soon.”
“Aw, nuts,” ranted Bender, “it’s bad enough that she’s already a ship’s captain and a G. I. Jane, we now gotta call her ‘priestess’?”
“No,” Hermes replied, “but she does bear the title.”
As Hermes rambled on, Annie was already planning the next prank on Bender. Being the daughter of the alien Kif Kroker, she inherited her father’s stretchy body structure. As Hermes continued, she quietly stretched her arm behind Scruffy and Zoidberg towards Bender’s head. She flicked her thumb and index finger until a loud sound like a ringing bell echoed across the room.
“Annie?” bellowed Bender, “That’s it! No more Mr. Nice Guy!!”
All hell broke loose as Bender began chasing Annie around the room. When he finally caught her, he got her on the ground and began tickling her sides. The years melted away as everyone remembered Bender doing this when Annie was a child; they all laughed hysterically. As he tickled, she laughed until she thought she’d cry. “Uncle, Bender!! Uncle!! Uncle!!”
Bender got up and mockingly beat his chest with his fist. “I’m still mighty. I’ll always be mightier than you Annie.”
Annie laughed so hard that it took a couple of minutes to compose herself.
“This is a business meetin’. I’m not finished yet!” Hermes looked annoyed.
“Well,” Scruffy interrupted, “if peace has done broke out, than what’s left to do in this here meetin’?”
“Well,” replied Hermes, “I guess the only udder order of business would be to…open this bottle of champagne.”
Now things really got out of hand. “Bender,” yelled Little Annie, “the Dance! We need music!”
“Cut the rug, sister,” responded Bender, “cut the rug!!”
Bender reached inside of his door, and suddenly the bass drum line from the old 1980’s song “Wishing Well” began to thump across the room. Annie jogged over and stood next to him. The two of them began a dance that they had practiced many times, which included fanny bumps, and lots of tush-wiggling. Everyone else cheered them on and clapped to the song.
“But I really wasn’t done wit my meetin’,” lamented Hermes.
“Husband,” said LaBarbara, “why don’t ya just let ‘em party for a while.” With that, the two of them clanked glasses of champagne and gave each other a romantic kiss.
On a cold, snowy hillside overlooking the city of Sapporo, Fry and Amy stood by in silence as Turanga Leela met with an elderly Shinto priest. She was still dressed in her native tunic, and wore her ceremonial dagger strapped to her side. She presented the container of Jennifer’s ashes to the priest, and then gave him a deep, humble bow. Jennifer Yoshida had now made it back home, and her family could at least have some closure. The priest then gently grabbed Leela’s shoulder and said something to her.
“Amy,” Fry whispered, “What did he just say to her?”
“Well, with what little Japanese that I know, I think he just said ‘have faith’”.
It is said that the Prophet Kaleepa once met a man along a road who was distraught because his prayers weren’t answered. “When waiting for bread from heaven,” he told the man, “remember that the mills up there grind very slowly – but the taste is all the better when it’s taken out of the oven.”