“What,” said Zapp Brannigan, “you’re trying to blame all this on me?”
“You’re the idiot that chose this system to hold a shakedown exercise in,” said Kif. “Now we’ve got a problem and we’re stuck in a red travel zone.”
Multi-colored lights continued flashing on the nearby panels. “It’s not that bad of a problem. Just a little repair work and…”
The cutter Richard M. Nixon suddenly buckled and shuddered. The lights on the ship started to blink on and off.
“Now it’s a problem,” said Kif with sarcasm.
“Calm down…let’s just look at the screen here. We’ll just put down on that planet Ubbhasaa there.”
“We can’t do that, you idiot - Ubbhasaa is nothing but a lava pit! We’ll be burned to a crisp!”
“Okay…how about Noathothug VIII here?”
“It’s got a corrosive atmosphere…and flesh-eating slugs.”
“How do you know so much about this stuff?”
“Because of all the weekends you made me study the star charts,” said Kif. “There is only one other planet close enough that we can limp over to, but it’s not an option.”
“Well, let’s proceed there with all haste.”
“I said that it’s not an option.” Kif pointed to the flashing name on the screen. Zapp bit his finger. A loud alarm began wailing through the small ship. Kif looked over at a status panel. “Oh no, sir - we’re leaching air. We’ve got a hull broach.”
“It’s an option now,” said Zapp.
On a wooden court of battle, an Amazonian warrior prepared to show off her prowess and skill. In the heat of the afternoon sun, she focused her eyes and readied her shot. She had a lot riding on this, and she knew she had to make good on her brag.
“You no can do,” shouted one of the other warriors, “you no can do. You all talk, Neeta!”
She looked over at the warrior. “You talk much smack, Phog. Me put my money where my mouth is.” With that Neeta took her shot. The basketball traveled though the air straight and true, and plunged into the net. “And that is how we do it from downtown,” she announced with a smile.
Phog growled. “She is good,” said the warrior next to her.
As Neeta dribbled the ball, she noticed that her friends were starting to point up to the late afternoon sky. “It shooting star,” one of them said.
“It no shooting star,” Phog said, “it ship from sky. We need to make hunting party…maybe we get more man-slaves…make money.”
“Wait,” said Neeta, “what if they have weapons of light-that-hurt?”
Phog gave Neeta a mean look. “Are you scared, little one? Scared of men-folk? Me take over job of being warrior for you, if you scared…tiny one!”
“Stand back…me just as much warrior as you.” Being called things like “tiny one” and “little one” always hurt Neeta’s feelings. Standing only 10 feet tall, about 2 feet shorter than any of the other warriors, she was very self conscious about her height. This just gave her more to prove to the rest of the tribe. She picked up her spear next to the court and gave Phog one last warrior growl. “They over near Lake Ahótazal,” she said, “you follow me. I show you what warrior is.” Phog gave an evil smirk to the others and followed her, because she knew in her heart that Neeta was every inch a true warrior. She still couldn’t pass up an opportunity to stick it to her every now and again. Phog turned to a young man standing by the basketball court. “You…come here.” The man quickly ran over to her and stood at attention. “You tell Femputer what happen here. Go tell now.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said the man, who quickly sprinted off through the woods to the massive stone temple.
“We’ve essentially fixed it, Captain Brannigan, but we still have one more problem.”
“What is that, Baker?”
“We still need a part to make our proton piercer work.”
“What kind of part do you need?”
“A large gemstone, like a diamond. Big one.”
“You don’t ask for much, do you?” said Kif with a sigh.
“Oh ye of little faith,” said Zapp. “You know, it says in the Good Book ‘Seek, and ye shall find…find, and ye shall take back to your camp.’”
“It does not say that, you pompous ass!” said Kif
“I was referring to my book, Kif…my collection of wit and wisdom that I plan to publish someday. If we ever get off of this rock.”
Kif stomped off. Zapp looked over at Sub-lieutenant Chase Baker. “Mr. Baker, I’m well aware of your military record. I understand that you are a man that can find things that others can’t.”
“And, sir, I understand you are a man who’s been here on this planet before.” Baker wiped some oil off of his hands. “You point me in the right direction, sir, and I can have that item installed in the ship by noon tomorrow.”
“But that would indicate that you are a man of questionable character…”
“You wanna stay here and live in the jungles?”
“Mr. Baker, you do this and you can just trim that ‘sub’ off of your rank of Lieutenant,” said Zapp.
“Just show me the way…”
The two men suddenly turned as the sound of an Amazonian warrior’s horn split the early evening sky. Baker looked at Zapp with concern. “Captain,” he asked, you never did tell me…what the hell lives here?”
“All three moons are coming up,” said Neeta, “this good sign. We will be able to hunt intruders at night. Cloggth, ready the nets.” She then turned to Phog and pointed a finger to her temple. “Me then use intellect…we drive them toward nets like animals.” Phog grunted, as she was bested again by the “little” upstart. She begrudgingly nodded her approval.
Phog then turned her head and looked around. “Men downwind…can smell them. We go now.”
“Sir,” Kif said in a worried voice, “what are you guys doing out here?”
“Uh, we are setting up a perimeter. Military stuff. You should know that by now, Kif.”
“But sir, the whole reason for having a perimeter is to be inside of it. You’re nearly a half a kilometer from the ship.”
“Kif,” Zapp said, “I’ve always worried that you had a cowardly streak in you. If you’re this yellow, just head on back to the ship.”
Kif sighed and walked quickly through the high grass back to the ship with his stunner rifle.
“I knew that would get him out of our hair.”
“He won’t rat us out, will he?”
“I’ll just explain the whole thing to him later…when we’re headed home.”
A sound came through the thick vegetation nearby. Baker grabbed Zapp by the arm. “Was that laughter I just heard?”
A huge spear came flying out of the brush at them and landed near the two. They studied it in horror; it was nearly 14 feet long, and had a spearhead that was easily two feet long. They started to jog back to the ship when the Amazonians emerged from the brush in front of them. Not only were they heavily armed, but several of them had carnivorous biped dinosaurs with them on chains that resembled an Allosaurus from Earth’s past. “Where you think you going?” Phog announced.
Terrified, they began running in the opposite direction. The Amazonians began to give chase, but their strides were so large that they didn’t need to run very fast. “Keep running, little men,” Phog yelled, “work up a sweat.” When they got to the edge of the moonlit valley, the women stopped.
“I think we’re losing them,” Zapp said, nearly out of breath. The two men then realized that they were being caught up in an enormous dragnet. They were thrown together as the huge net rose up from the ground.
“Get your gun and shoot your way out,” shouted Baker.
Zapp pulled out a stunner pistol and feebly tried to point it through the holes in the net.
Baker got a look of shock on his face. “Good grief! Is that all you’ve got? You didn’t bring a carbine?”
“I’m an officer…I usually have someone else carry the carbine…Kif had it with him when he went back to the ship.”
The men lurched back in fear as their giant captors peered in at them through the netting. “Look at what we have here,” Phog said, “we capture little animals.” She poked Zapp in the chest with a gigantic baby fat finger.
In an act of desperation, Zapp fired his stunner pistol which put out a flash of bright yellow light. “Ouch!” Phog said, as she quickly grabbed the pistol out of Zapp’s hand. “Me not injured, little man,” she said, “but it sure hurt!” She then crushed the pistol into a small metal lump in front of the men, and threw it to the ground. “Take animals out of here before I crush them!” The men were unceremoniously carried off in the catch net under the light of the three Amazonian moons. In the grass sat a small communicator unit with the voice of a desperate Kif coming out of it.
“Captain Brannigan…do you read me? We’re picking up small arms fire and multiple heat signatures. Do you read me? Come in, Zapp…” The unit was then crushed underneath the huge boot of one of the Amazonians.
“Phog,” said P’shaa, “there are more around here somewhere…they try talk to them through little box.”
“We find them sometime tomorrow…we know where to find them. We go home now with our little pets.”
“We should find them now,” interjected Neeta.
“Me de-facto leader of this hunting party, little one. That make me the one in charge. I say we find them tomorrow. They not going anywhere without their friends.”
As the hunting party made their way up to the ancient stone temple, they were stopped by a well-dressed Amazonian with numerous pieces of gaudy gold jewelry. She was Min-Chai, the slave auctioneer. “You find more men,” she said, “let me see.” The men shuddered as an enormous Asian eye peered in at them. When P’saa pinched Baker’s arm, Min-Chai slapped her hand. “Don’t damage tissue! New men for me to sell.”
“These go straight to Femputer for judgment,” said Phog. “If they not put to death, then you can sell them at auction tomorrow. Now, step out of way.”
She took one more look, opening up Zapp’s mouth like a horse with her index finger. “They look healthy enough…maybe get 14 copper pieces each.”
“I want funny blonde one,” said P’shaa.
“You line up at sale like anyone else,” Min-Chai barked. “You no get special deals.”
As the men were hauled into the stone temple which was lit by burning torches, Baker poked Zapp in the shoulder and pointed. At the top of one of the huge stone idols was a large shiny gemstone. They had noticed many such gems, mainly being worn by the Amazonians as jewelry. They watched P’shaa walk over to the computer terminal and speak with it. She came back over to report with Phog.
“Femputer will have audience with the men at first light tomorrow. She will then decide their fate.”
“Very well,” said Phog, “Drop them into cage.”
The men were both dropped into an animal cage and a huge key lock was placed on it. The giant captors then left the room.
“Zapp,” Baker said in a loud whisper, “look over there…there’s a guy over there.”
Sure enough, a young man snuck over to peek into the cage.
Zapp’s eyes got huge. “Ricky McGuire…from the U.S.S. Blevins…is that you?”
“What the hell are you doing here? They’re probably going to kill you guys!”
“Open this cage,” said Baker, “and we’ll take you with us.”
“I can’t – I don’t have access to the key. It’s around the Phog’s neck…I’ll get crushed if I try to get it from her.”
“Dark eyes,” said Phog in that booming Amazonian voice, “you come here now.”
Obediently, McGuire trotted over and the Amazonian slammed the huge wooden door behind them.
“We’re screwed!” said Baker.
The men were awaken by the key unlocking the padlock to the cage. A huge hand came in and snatched them out one by one, like a child pulling toys out of a toybox. As their hands were chained behind them they tried to resist, but Phog was too strong. They were led back into the main computer chamber by several of the warriors.
“You show utmost respect for Femputer, or die on spot,” said Phog. As the women bowed in respect, the entire wall swung around to reveal a massive computer.
“Holy Toledo,” said Baker. He was promptly swatted on the side of the head by a huge hand. “Ouch!”
“You found these men last night?” asked the computer.
“We capture two men…we not know what to do with them.”
“Take them to the auction area to be sold…perhaps 8 copper pieces and an obsidian piece can be gotten for each of them.” Before they could be led from the room, Femputer stopped the Amazonians. “Wait – one of them looks familiar. Bring them closer to Femputer.”
The warriors bought the two prisoners closer, and a baseball-sized computer eye on a mechanical arm came out to inspect them. “This one I do not know,” said Femputer, “but this one is Zapp Brannigan of the starship Nimbus. When he was last here on Amazonia, a huge horde of our gold went missing. They lied to Femputer. They lied to all of us here on Amazonia. Death to the men! Take them off to be executed!”
“Don’t you mean, death by snu-snu?” asked Zapp in a sarcastic voice.
Phog leaned down so she could look into Zapp’s eyes. She gave the men an evil grin. “No…just death.”
There was quite a bit of excitement about the execution in the village; there hadn’t been any in as long as anyone could remember, and now there were going to be two of them. The only one that looked glum, besides the men, was Min-Chai. “Me could have made money on them,” she said. As they were brought up on the platform for their execution, they looked up in amazement at Bboth, the woman who’s job it was to carry it out – she stood nearly 14 feet tall and had gigantic arm muscles bigger than the men themselves. The axe she wielded stood on a piece of wood that looked like a small telephone pole.
“Oh my God,” said Zapp, I wouldn’t have lived through the first snu-snu with this one.” He turned to Baker. “You’re taking this rather calmly…”
“Look down at my hand.”
“Shut up and look at my hand.”
“What’s that thing?”
“You never payed attention in electronics. It’s a hyperspace capacitor. I monkeyed with the wiring this morning, turning it into a miniature bomb. Not enough to kill anyone, but enough to make a distraction. Say some last words…ham it up good.”
Phog grabbed Zapp roughly by the shoulder. “You put head down near basket.”
“Now, wait a minute, miss,” Zapp said, “Don’t I at least get a few last words?”
Phog looked at Bboth. “Yes, he supposed to get last words,” Bboth said.
“Make it short, funny blonde man.”
Zapp turned to address the crowd of Amazonians. “Many years ago when my ancestors made the arduous journey on a freighter to Mars…”
“We no want to hear this,” shouted an Amazonian, “snap his little neck now and shut him up!”
As the crowd got more hostile with Zapp, Baker saw his opportunity. He tossed the capacitor, which was now beginning to glow, in between them and their execution squad. It went off with a loud bang, and put out lots of smoke. By the time the women realized what had happened, the two were gone. Neeta, who had been standing just off the stage, grabbed her spear. “Come follow me,” she yelled, “I know where they go!”
The only thing that saved the men’s lives was that they had gotten a good head start; they knew from before that in a straight run-down that they didn’t stand a chance. They could hear the war party behind them, and the cries of the dinosaurs that they had on chains with them like bloodhounds. They heard Neeta yelling at her fellow warriors, but didn’t have time to hear what she was saying. “Why you go that way?” Neeta shouted. “The men go this way!”
“We know short cut,” Phog shouted back. “We get there first!”
“That no short cut!” Neeta abandoned her fellow warriors to their stupidity and continued the chase. As the men got closer to the ship, they were never so glad to see Kif waiting for them with a carbine; he had the weapon on a stun setting. They turned to see an enraged Neeta in hot pursuit, letting out a loud warrior cry. Kif aimed and fired. “Ouch!!” she said, as if being bitten in the arm by a big bug. He upped the power setting and fired again. Kif looked up in shock as Neeta fell on him like a huge oak tree.
“Help,” Kif yelled. “Somebody!”
Another crew member quickly blasted Baker’s chain off in back of him. As Baker struggled to get Neeta’s gemstone off of her forehead, Kif cried out. “Aren’t you guys going to help me?”
“Oh,” Baker replied, “my bad…” Baker was able to lift her massive body just enough to let flexible Kif slip to freedom.
Phog and the rest of the warriors got there just as the Richard M. Nixon lifted off. They threw spears at it, but it quickly left for the planet’s orbit. They turned to see a groggy Neeta start to move in the grass. One of the dinosaurs nudged her with its head, as if to see if she was okay. As she rubbed her forehead she asked, “We get it?” Phog just shook her head.
As the Amazonian warriors stood there before Femputer, they feared the worst. Phog turned to Neeta. “It my fault,” she told her, “we let you down.”
“Silence,” announced Femputer. “Neeta, step forward. It gives me great pain to do this, but I feel that I must.”
“Femputer,” Phog interjected, “It my fault…punish me.”
“Phog, don’t interfere. Step forward, Neeta.”
As Neeta stepped several yards ahead of the rest, she was suddenly struck by a bright yellow light. The other warriors cringed in fear…they wanted to help her, but could do nothing. After several seconds, the light ended. Neeta walked back to the others with a strange smile on her face.
“Neeta,” asked Phog, “you alright?”
“It’s funny that you ask that,” said Neeta, “because I now find myself awash with a flurry of new emotions. I feel like an empty vessel that is just now being filled.” She grabbed Phog’s arms. “There is a whole world of knowledge out there…more than you could ever dream of!”
“By the Goddess of the Seven Moons, what happen to you Neeta?”
Neeta looked at her hand. “Have you ever stopped to realize that there are more than 26 separate bones in the hand? Or that our intestines stretched out are approximately 16 feet in length.”
“Please…Femputer…what happen to Neeta?”
“I did what I had to do,” the computer said. “I’ve boosted her IQ enough to operate a starship. My old ship is still hidden at the rear of this complex. This Zapp Brannigan must be stopped…by any means available. I will not have this planet or her people taken advantage of. I will not have these Earth people coming here and robbing us. Find those men.”
Neeta came walking back up to Femputer, almost like a child asking for more candy. “I want more, mistress,” she said. “Freud, Jung…the existentialist philosophers of Earth’s 19th century. Russian poetry. Jovian comic opera. Proverbs from Neptune. The history of the Demon Kings of Mars…I must know it all.” The bright yellow light came on again, and Neeta drank it all in with a joyful look on her face. “Jean-Paul Sartre…No Exit,” she mumbled.
P’shaa leaned over and whispered in Phog’s ear. “Why she get punished so bad?”
Neeta came walking back to the women with a evil smile on her face. “Ladies,” she said, “it’s time to get you some new weaponry and a new look.”
“Oh, Kiffy,” said Amy, “you’ve become a hero!”
“Yes, Miss Amy,” said Zapp, “we literally pulled your man here from the very jaws of death. Let me tell you how it happened…”
Kif rolled his eyes. “Here it comes,” he thought. “To hear Zapp tell it, you’d think I was a damsel-in-distress that he had to rescue. Hell, I rescued them – and they were going to leave me behind. The dinner at the Venusian Bistro on his tab was nice, though, but it was being put on Zapp’s expense account.”
“Leela,” Zapp said, “I’ve got something special to show you.”
“Oh, brother,” she said, “you’ve tried that line before.”
Zapp pulled out a handkerchief and opened it up to reveal the diamond that they stole from Neeta. Leela was actually impressed…who wouldn’t be with a diamond big enough to cover the entire palm of your hand. “Zapp, that is amazing looking. You didn’t actually steal this, did you?”
“Steal? No….it’s just one of the spoils of war. I pulled this off of a dead warrior in the heat of combat. I’m just lucky to be here alive.”
Leela grinned over at Kif, who was again rolling his eyes.
The Amazonian warriors followed Neeta into a stone building in back of the temple and looked on in amazement at Femputer’s silver spaceship. The women were still getting used to their new outfits, and their modern weaponry. “Ladies…climb on board – we’ve got an animal to trap.” The warriors followed Neeta into the ship.
At DOOP outpost 19, it wasn’t unusual to spot a strange ship coming in. The station was a small one, manned by only ten people at one time. The Richard M. Nixon had stopped here several days ago for repairs before heading back to Earth. Femputer’s silver saucer edged in for a docking at the station. When the docking seal opened, the large framed women began bounding in with their weapons. “Hey,” the station attendant said, “you can’t bring those in here.” Neeta reached out a huge hand and picked the man up like a rag doll.
“Come with me, little man. I need your assistance with something.” The man squirmed helplessly as he was carried into the control room by his head. She dropped him hard into a chair. “You are going to tell me where Zapp Brannigan’s ship went to.”
“Zapp who?” An angry hand swooped in and covered the man’s face like an octopus. Huge fingers began to squeeze. “Okay! Okay!” The massive fingers released him. He typed a bit on his console. “Why do you want that jerk so bad?” he asked.
Neeta answered his question. “He stole my gem from me…the Zog Stone, which was passed to me from my ancestors. He will pay dearly for his actions, my little friend.” Neeta broke out into a smile when she turned to see the console. “He’s on Earth…the place of poetry and music. New New York Spaceport.”
“What we do with the other men on station?” asked Phog. “They may tell others…”
“We’ll just put them into the freeze chambers here in the station. Let’s get moving.”
The ten male crewmembers tried to escape their fate, but they had nowhere to go. The Amazonians collected them one by one like panic-stricken animals. Some tried to hide, but they were quickly found. They struggled as they were dropped into the freeze chambers, and then grew silent when the chambers were activated. She set their timers for three weeks, which easily bought her crew the time that they needed. As the saucer pulled away from the quiet space station on its way to Earth, Neeta busied herself typing a message on the ship’s computer.
“What you do now, Neeta?” asked Phog.
“You’ve been a warrior long enough to know how to bait a trap…I’ve got one particular animal in mind that I want to capture, and I know just how to get him into the cage. If I capture the one animal, the other should be nearby. Maybe our animal would speak at a social organization…”
Zapp got a smile of satisfaction on his face as he read the message that Kif brought in. “Dear Captain Brannigan, we the Knights of Triton cordially invite you to speak at our annual fund-raising dinner at the Proteus Hall here in New New York.”
Kif let out a sigh. “Aren’t those the old Neptunian men who sit around and cheat at cards? It’s really pathetic, seeing as they have four arms.”
“Kif, you have to learn that any good publicity is, well, good publicity.”
“Well put, sir, especially for you.”
“You see? You’re starting to learn from my tutelage, Kif old chap. It’ll be a boring affair, but there might be women there…and drinks, horsey-dervies…a free meal. You need to respond to these old gentlemen and tell them that we will be there.”
As Neeta and her warriors left the spaceport, the one thing they had going for them was the Freedom Day festivities; everyone around them either had on some sort of costume, or was walking around in the nude. The streets were jammed with people, much like a futuristic Mardi Gras. When people saw the gigantic women walking by, they just assumed that they were wearing some sort of outfits for the holiday. One person even complimented them. “These Earth people strange,” said P’shaa.
Neeta went down on one knee to speak with the man, as if she were addressing a child. “Thank you for that…they’re good costumes, aren’t they? Tell me, good sir, which way the Proteus Hall is?” He pointed down the street.
By the time that Zapp and Kif arrived at the Proteus Hall, they found it strangely quiet. The instructions they’d received told them to enter through the rear for Zapp’s speech. A Neptunian janitor pointed them to where the stage was.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Asked Kif.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, something isn’t right here…”
“Is that your amphibian sense tingling again?” asked Zapp.
“No…it’s the sense of anyone who’s IQ is over 50 kicking in. The whole place looks like it’s not even open.”
“Oh, nonsense…most of them are probably outside in the festivities anyway. I’ll just give them my speech and head toward the bar.”
And give them a speech he did. He bragged on and on about how he single-handedly defeated the mighty Amazonians and looted their stash of treasure. “At one point I was actually cornered by a dozen of the savages, but I bravely fought them off with a sharp piece of metal to return to my ship.” At the end of his speech a loud clapping could be heard, but it only came from one person. “I appreciate the Knights of Triton inviting me here and the warm reception, but could someone turn up the house lights so I can see my audience? I can’t see anyone.”
As the houselights came up, the two suddenly realized that the only audience members there were the hunting party of Amazonians. Neeta was standing and still clapping. “Bravo,” she said, “Bravissimo! What a stirring speech! Full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing. Hey, I like that William Shakespeare of yours. What else did he tell us….that it’s a shame to stop a fool, but a pity to let him go on? Do continue…I especially enjoyed the part where you held off four of us with a butter knife!”
“What are you guys doing here?” Zapp asked.
“We are here to take back what is rightfully mine…namely that gem you took from me after I was knocked unconscious. Then, you are coming back with us dead or alive, it makes no difference to me. I would rather it be alive, so we can execute you properly in the village square and entertain my less-than-intellectual friends. You and your buddy screwed that up the other day.”
“He took it for our hyperdrive…we had to use it to get back…you were going to kill us, for crying out loud!”
“You were found guilty by Femputer…you were sentenced to die! And die you shall! You were actually sentenced twice…and got out of it. It’s time to die, Zapp Brannigan! Face your death like a warrior!”
Kif bravely stepped in front of the angry Neeta.
“My quarrel is not with you, small green one. Step aside so I can tear this nave to pieces.”
“What happened to you?” he asked.
“You’re not like the others…”
“Oh, this…Femputer has brought up my intelligence levels. If you have any intelligence at all, you will stand aside and let me tear this Zapp apart.”
“Yeah,” said P’shaa, “Neeta wicked smart!”
“But you’ve got intelligence…maybe we can reach some sort of a deal or something…” Kif’s heart sank as he heard the back door slam. He sheepishly looked back. Zapp was gone.
Kif was swept aside by Neeta’s huge hand as the warriors tore through the hall toward the back door, crushing folding chairs as they went by. They kicked a large hole around the door in order to exit the building. “Coward,” Neeta said in a rage, “that tiny coward! He’s disappeared into the crowd. He’s probably stripped off his clothing like the rest of the perverts on this planet!”
“You need me to lead hunt,” Phog shot in. “You may have big brains now, but I real hunter!” Phog reached over and pulled a signpost out of the ground. She tore the street sign off of it and tossed it aside. “You keep shiny light weapon…me lead real hunt.”
“Phog,” Neeta replied, “you always thought you were better than me. You need my ‘big brains’ to find him, you nitwit!”
“What is nitwit?” Phog asked.
“Where are you, sir?” Kif asked on the communicator watch.
“I’ve taken up a defensive position,” he replied. He peered up above the hot dog stand and spotted the gigantic warriors scouring the crowd for him. They were tossing people aside, and no one seemed to notice because of the commotion.
“That means you’re hiding.”
“Calm down…I’ll see what I can do for you.”
Kif bravely ran up to the warriors. In an even braver act, he kicked P’shaa in the leg. She turned to look at him. “Go away, little green one. We snu-snu later.”
The act caught Neeta’s attention. “No wait…let’s see what our little friend has to say.”
“You’ve got to listen to me…honestly, he’s not worth killing. I think I can get your gem back if you’ll just give me a chance.”
Neeta crouched down. She gently tweeked Kif’s red uniform like a child. “What’s your name, little one?”
“Kif Kroker, ma’am.”
Neeta glanced at the other warriors with a smile on her face. “Ladies, I think we have a use for our new-found friend Kif here.” Her monstrous hand grabbed him around the mid-section. As she hoisted him up into the air, she told him, “You are the little frog man that shot me back home…I haven’t forgotten that.”
Zapp kept trying to raise Kif on the communicator, but had no luck. “Kif…Kif, are you there? Kif!” Zapp Brannigan suddenly found himself covered in shadow as if a cloud had hidden the sun. He looked up to find the towering figures of the Amazonians, still holding Kif like a child’s doll.
“That’s what I was trying to explain to you guys,” Neeta said, “just a simple bit of radio direction finding leads us to our prey.” The hand swooped down to pluck Zapp up like a large puppet by the neck of his uniform. “Come here, you. You’re coming back to Amazonia for your long-overdue execution. But first, I want my family’s gem back.”
“Miss,” Kif interjected. “What might I call you?”
She turned to face him. “Neeta. My name is Neeta. You’re free to go, little one – I only need Zapp here.”
“But I can find your missing gem…and your gold.”
“Keep talking…I’m listening…”
“You’re a woman of great intelligence…”
“Yes, I am. Thank you. But I am first and foremost a warrior of my tribe.”
“But you’re not a savage…not anymore. You’re an intellectual that can reason…”
“What are you getting at, little one?” Neeta asked.
“I think that we can strike up a bargain.”
Phog stepped in. “Don’t listen to little froggy man! He fog up your mind! Let me kill Zapp now! I can break his little neck!”
“Let me hear what he has to say, Phog.”
“But me the de-facto leader!”
“Phog…Femputer put me in charge of you women…I’m the de-facto leader. Do you even know what ‘de-facto’ means? Do you?” Phog shook her head. “It’s a fancy Earth word meaning ‘I’m in charge for now.’ Let me hear the green man out.”
Neeta turned her focus back to Zapp as he squirmed around helplessly in the giant’s grasp.
“Mr. Brannigan,” Neeta said in a dignified tone, “Do you know where your other friend is?”
Neeta moved in closer. “Now, Mr. Brannigan…think carefully about your answer to this next question, as your life could very well depend on it. Do you…uh…sorta know where this Mr. Baker is?”
Zapp gave back a weird smile. “Uhhhh…yes?”
In a jewelry store in a rough part of Little Ganymede two men discussed a large gem. “Baker, I did fine with the watches you brought in…but this? How am I gonna fence this? The feds are probably scouring the city looking for it by now.”
“Believe me,” Baker said, “no one on this planet even knows it’s here…the owner is light years away.” The bell above the door rang.
“Just a minute…we’ve a customer.” Baker went back to examining the huge gemstone with the jeweler’s eyepiece. “Good afternoon, miss…is there anything I can help you with?”
“Yes there is,” said the woman customer. “I’m looking for a really large stone – like that one over there.” Baker spun around to see Neeta walking up to him. She grabbed him by the shoulder before he could bolt out the door. “Mr. Baker, you and I need to have a little chat.”
Bender couldn’t resist showing two hookerbots his personal stash of stolen goods. He wore a really cheap looking fur coat. He had a bottle of liquor in one hand, and an expensive cigar in the other. The bots giggled as he led them up to the apartment. “You ladies ain’t gonna believe this, but I am probably the biggest criminal mastermind in this whole city. You two are really in for a treat.”
“But Bender…is your door supposed to be lying in the hallway?”
Bender let out a squeal when he found his front door torn off of its hinges. The inside of the apartment looked like a small tornado had gone through it. To Bender’s horror, everything from his loot closet was gone…it had been cleaned out, except for a couple of coins.
“Are ya gonna tell the police?” asked the other bot.
“What…are you kidding?”
“Are you ladies satisfied with your part of the bargain?” asked Kif.
“You are a man of your word, Kif. I think that Femputer will be satisfied with what we’re bringing back,” said Neeta.
“I have one more thing for you…this is a computer chip filled with plays, operas, symphonies and all sorts of literature. I thought it might be something that you could share with the rest of your tribe when you get home.”
Neeta smiled. “You are just full of surprises, little man.”
As the hunting party made their way back to the silver saucer with their treasures and with a bound and gagged Chase Baker in a cage, they had to wade through another large crowd of Freedom Day revelers. As they made their way on through, Neeta felt someone tug at her dress like a child. She turned to see a shirtless man with long hair wanting her attention. “You’re cute! What can I do for you, little guy?” she asked.
“Ma’am, my friends and I think what you’re doing there is really cool. We’ve never seen anything like it before on Freedom Day.”
“What’s your name, little fellow?” she asked.
“Rocky. Rocky Waterfall.”
“Well, Mr. Rocky…would you and your friends like to join us for a little space voyage?”
“We sure would,” said Waterfall. “Right on!”
Baker tried to warn the men, but his mouth was tied up securely with a large piece of cloth. As the rag-tag bunch of Amazonians and men entered the ship, the large door sealed shut on the craft. Neeta turned to Phog. “How much do you think they’ll fetch…12 copper pieces each?”
The lunch at Fishy Joe’s wasn’t a fancy one, but Amy and everyone there was happy to toast Kif with their cups of Walrus Cola. “My Kiffy is a hero…again!” said Amy.
“With no small thanks to me,” added Zapp. “If it wasn’t for my negotiating skills, old Kif wouldn’t be standing here. I had those savages right where I wanted them.”
“I’m sure you did,” added Leela, “and that Kif here was just along for the ride.”
“Oh, I’m sure he served some purpose. By the way, I hope you’re enjoying lunch…they’ve frozen my expense account in lieu of an investigation, but I still wanted to splurge on you guys anyway.”
“Dolphin nuggets is splurging?” asked Leela.
“I hope Neeta kept her promise and didn’t kill Baker,” said Kif. “I asked her to treat him with a little mercy. I really do believe that she is a civilized intellectual. And I truly hope that she is getting something out of that computer chip I gave her.”
In a clearing in the steaming jungles of Amazonia, a wooden platform had been crudely and quickly constructed. There a lone man dressed as a sea captain with a shackle and a chain stood in the heat of the mid-day surrounded by a group of gigantic Amazonian warriors. Neeta stood in front of them with a long bamboo pole in her hand. “Okay…again, from the top.” The man rolled his eyes. He broke out into song.
“I am the monarch of the sea,
The ruler of the Queen’s Navee,
Whose praise Great Britain loudly chants…”
The man stopped singing when he got a sharp poke in the chest with the pole.
“Mr. Baker,” Neeta said, “you need to project more. How am I supposed to show my friends here what Earth culture is all about if you can’t get this right? The HMS Pinafore debuts next Thursday, and you’re not even near being ready.”
“I hate this! I don’t want to sing anymore!”
Phog, who was dressed Victorian style, looked down at Baker and growled. “You sing funny Earth songs, little stealer man, so we can go home for day.”
“That’s too bad that you don’t want to sing, Mr. Baker…I may have to let my friends cook and eat you.”
Baker suddenly got a horrified look on his face and looked up at the women. “You mean they’re cannibals?”
“Quit singing and find out.” Neeta said with a smile.
“I am the monarch of the sea…”