“He's not afraid of your judgment
He knows of horrors worse than your Hell
He's a little bit afraid of dying
But he's a lot more afraid of your lying”
(Lyrics are the property of Rush (the band))
Dear Internet Diary…oh, that sounds corny as hell. Anyway, this is Sara Fry again…yes, daughter of the infamous mystic warrior woman Turanga Leela. I love my mother, but it is so hard living in the shadow of that reputation ever since she decided to go up against the biggest corporation in the galaxy and make a pariah out of herself. I wish I’d known my mother before she found her sacred cyclops planet Cyclon, back when she and Dad where just workers for a small delivery company. Now she lives her life stretched between here on Earth, and that cyclops homeworld that she never stops talking about. I live in fear every day that she’ll destroy my plans for college, and move us out to some hut on that God-forsaken planet of hers. Even my name…for the record, I am Sara Fry, not “Turanga Sara” as my mother calls me…it embarrasses the crap out of me. For all I know she’s already planned an arranged marriage for me to some cyclops guy on that planet…probably the son of a land-owner LOL. Anyway, unless my mother derails my life somehow, I should be going to New New York University in the fall. I keep trying to talk to Dad about all this, but he’s a marshmallow that just lets her do whatever she wants. He’s content just to live in the shadow of the “mystic warrior.”My brother Phil Jr. isn’t much more effective at standing up to Mom. I just wish I could get to some plateau where my mother and I could see eye to eye…just once.
On a frigidly cold day on Mars, Morgan Proctor was summoned to Desoxo headquarters for a meeting. She hadn’t aged much, but had a white streak through her hazelnut hair. As the Desoxo Corporation grew into an enormously powerful entity, it began to exert its control aggressively into people’s lives. As this took place, the corporation needed more and more bureaucrats to keep track of certain individuals. This is how Morgan came to be a part of the Desoxo “family,” as she was recruited from what was once the old Bureaucracy.
As soon as she got to reception, she was met by a young, slightly-built Japanese woman with glasses; Morgan noticed that she had a robotic eye; she also noticed that she had chip slots behind each ear…the corporation had spent a fortune building gadgets into her, and probably expected unquestioned loyalty in return. “My name is Jennifer Yoshida,” she told her. “Come with me please.”
“May I ask where the meeting is being held?”
“It’s up on the 13th floor.”
The 13th floor? I’ve never been to the 13th floor in all of my time with these guys. Keep it together, Morgan baby. “Who am I meeting with?” she asked.
“You’re meeting with The Board,” Jennifer responded, “that’s all I’m permitted to say. Don’t worry…it will be fine.” It will? I can feel my heart pounding.
When Morgan was taken into the elevator, she quickly noticed that there was no 13th floor button on the control panel. Jennifer’s mouth opened slightly, and a high-pitched mechanical sound came out. With a ‘ping’ sound from the panel, they were on the way to the 13th floor. My God, this is creepy…they’ve even given her ‘the voice.’ How much of this gal is human, and how much is machine? She really is little more than company property. When she retires, will they just stick her in a warehouse? Even her legs are robotic, for crying out loud…
Morgan was taken into a room where thirteen individuals sat in back of a long table that encircled half of the room. She immediately noticed that the executives were lit from behind, and their faces were hidden from view. Why all this smoke and mirror crap? “That will be all, Miss Yoshida,” a voice floated across the table. With that, the tiny woman quickly left the room. Go ahead, little mechanical slave, get back to your paperwork.
“Miss Proctor,” one of the voices said, “You come to us highly recommended. We understand that you have quite a skill set as an employee.”
“Sir, which skill exactly brought me here today? Was it punctuality, or my sense of esprit de corps?”
“Well, Miss Proctor, we both know that you aren’t here because of your kindness or sweetness to humanity. You’re here mainly because of your cunning, Machiavellian instincts.”
Proctor gave a sarcastic smile. “I’m listening, sir.”
A 3D holograph suddenly appeared in the darkness in front of The Board; Leela’s image eerily floated in the air, turning 180 degrees on an axis. “This is Turanga Leela…I believe you two have met,” said one of the members. Just as suddenly the image disappeared.
“Yes sir, many years ago. Briefly. Let’s just say we’ve had our encounters.”
“Nearly two decades ago she discovered her home planet of Cyclon, where we’ve begun to do quite a bit of business recently. After going there, she turned native on us. Miss Turanga is very vocal, and is less than happy with the way that we do business on that world. The longer this situation continues, the more money that we stand to lose as people listen to her.” Oh, lord…do they want her killed? “We would like to see Miss Turanga relocated, at least for the short-term, to one of our medical facilities on the outer rim – we feel that some of her stress-related issues can be worked out there, and we hope that she can be brought back into the fold at some point. We need to do this as discreetly and as quietly as we possibly can. She is very intelligent, resourceful, and has lots of friends. We have studied your background extensively…the words ‘cunning’ and ‘shrewd’ come to mind when we think of you.”
This is nuts…have I gotten myself in too deep here? But look at these creeps – what choice do I have?
“Sir,” responded Morgan, “I think we can do business together. I will have a proposal on your desk within two hours.” As she met back up with Jennifer in the elevator, she felt a bit queasy in her stomach. Crap, she thought, this is going to involve space travel, isn’t it?
“Mom?” Sara poked her mother Leela in the shoulder with her index finger. Leela was so deep into a meditation trance that she resembled a dead person propped up. “Mom? You scare the crap out of me when you do this! I hate this voodoo crap that you do!”
Leela’s eye popped open. “Sara,” she asked in an irritated tone, “what is so important that you have to wake me from a tarkana trance?”
“There is some lady at the door from your company…I’ve been trying to wake you for five minutes.”
“And it’s not voodoo crap…this is the culture of your people.”
Sara spun around and burned her eye into her mother’s. “Mother, they are your people, not my people. My friends at school are my people. Annie Kroker and our friends at Planet Express are my people. Your people are a bunch of tribesmen living in the woods poking each other with poke sticks…”
“Hey…the sharan-jii is a sacred weapon.”
The doorbell sounded again. Leela opened the door to find Morgan Proctor standing there. Her eye got large. “You? Aren’t you the lunatic that the Bureaucracy sent to us all those years ago? A Morgan, something or other. And now you work for Desoxo…”
“Leela…it’s been a long time…” She glanced over to Sara. “Your daughter must have gotten her red hair from Fry. She has your eye…”
“Okay – you’re starting to creep me out. Have they sent you by to fire me? Just let me sign the paperwork so you can get on your way.”
“Fire you? Of course not!” Leela then reluctantly motioned her to enter, and she stepped into the apartment. Morgan gazed at the knitted wall hangings, which were obviously from Cyclon. “Leela, I know that you visualize us as being an insensitive corporate machine, but you’ve got to realize that we do need input from our associates from time to time.”
“Employee…I’m an employee, not an associate. Only Desoxo calls them associates.”
“Leela,” Morgan continued, “I’ve been sent here to bring you an offer from our management. We don’t even have any kind of division dedicated to the affairs of our client planets…my supervisors want to create just such a division, and we need your input. We are having a seminar on New Fiji, and we’d like to fly you out to be a guest speaker. We do care about your feelings, and the feelings of the people of Cyclon, in spite of what you may think.”
Leela’s eye squinted in disbelief. “You’re serious…”
“Leela, you’ve got to believe that sometimes things can change for the better. You could share so much with us…imagine the stories that you could tell about your people at the seminar. The art. The culture.” Morgan picked up a wooden idol from a coffee table. “Like, even the story behind this little guy here.”
Leela had to stifle a chuckle. “What you’re holding there is a fertility idol…it’s supposed to help you if you want to make babies…you want to get pregnant?”
Morgan quickly placed it back on the table. “Will you at least speak at the seminar? Everything’s paid for, and New Fiji is lovely this time of year.”
“You really expect me to trust you…after everything that you’ve done to my friends and I?”
“Leela…look at where you live here…you’ve done well with us. We’ll be putting your children through college – give us a chance here.”
Leela looked at her sternly and thought for a minute.
“You promise not to sack me if I speak openly…because I will speak the truth.”
“Leela, we need to learn from you. No one knows the world of Cyclon quite like you. If things don’t work out like you planned, think of it as a free vacation…on us. What have you got to lose?”
Sara, still annoyed with her mother, tracked down Philip Fry in the den; he was finishing up work on a new trout fly. “Dad, will you talk to mom about this weirdness?”
“No way,” he replied, “I’m not taking my dog to that fight.”
With a huff, Sara left the den.
The day that Leela left for her seminar, Amy volunteered to drive them out to the New New York Spaceport in her fancy new car. The trip became a comic spectacle because she argued with Kif the whole way. Normally this wouldn’t have been anything special, but Kif had gone through his change-of-life six years ago, and was now a large collection of flying hookworms in a large jar. Amy was used to carefully strapping the jar into the passenger seat, almost as if it were a child in a car seat. As the car soared through the air, Amy continued her argument with the jar. Leela and Fry chuckled in the back seat at the exchange.
“You didn’t have to go…you could have stayed home…Kif, listen to me…listen…Kif…Grrrr! Da sei ne…Kif…” The loud buzzing sound continued in the jar – neither Fry nor Leela could figure out how Amy could understand the buzzing and make a conversation out of it. “I am so sorry guys,” Amy told her back seat passengers, “but Kiffy has just been so uppity lately. Yes you have…you have too.”
It didn’t take long for Leela to get through security at the spaceport; after piloting such ships for years, it felt funny being a passenger. The ship was an old Ibanez military freighter that had been converted into a passenger ship; not unheard of, but kind of a cheap thing to do. She soon settled into her acceleration couch, and elected to skip the standard safety video. I’ve flown this route out a thousand times, she thought. Depart New New York out over the Atlantic, sharp left bank, North Pole Departure Blitz Two, middle marker, slingshot around Jupiter, scoop some hydrogen, initiate jump. Like the old-timers used to say: “Don’t let Europa hit you on the ass end on the way out.”
She heard the engines come to life, and she chuckled to herself about something Fry had said about his beloved Star Trek movies; Engineer Scott could feel the deck plates move. Leela suddenly realized that the freighter was making a sharp bank to the right instead of to the left. She got up from her couch to peak out a tiny window nearby – she recognized the coast of Brazil slipping beneath them.
“My dear,” said an approaching flight attendant, “why are you out of your couch?”
“Oh, I’m sorry…just got curious. By the way, why are we taking a South Pole departure? That’s really unusual for a trip to New Fiji.”
“Um, there was an accident. Bad one, I hear. Just have a seat, dear, and I’ll bring you a nice cup of tea.”
“Oh, okay.” Leela complied with the request, and strapped back in.
The flight attendant returned with a piping hot cup of Cyclonian zaanti tea. “My favorite...and not easy to find. How did you know?” Leela asked.
“Oh, lucky guess. Just let me know if you need anything further.”
“Sure. Thanks.” The flight attendant even switched on a reading light for her.
As Leela drank her tea, she glanced over the itinerary for the seminar. She suddenly became very tired, and the couch was getting more and more comfortable. As she closed her eye and went off to sleep, the plastic tea cup dropped to the floor…
When Leela opened her eye, the first thing she thought to do was call for the flight attendant. She suddenly realized that she wasn’t in a ship berth; she was lying in a bed. She stood up. Am I at the resort? If so, how?
Leela looked around at what might have passed for a bungalow on New Fiji, if a modest one at that. She looked down at her clothing: white shirt, white pants, white slip-on shoes. What was more disconcerting was that her name (spelled incorrectly) and a bar code were printed on the shirt. She walked into the kitchenette and found plenty of food. She was hungry, so she picked up a box of insta-meal. A voice inside of her head told her in the Cyclonian language ‘do not touch.’ She had learned to listen to that voice, so she put the box back.
She stepped out the front door, and instantly knew that she wasn’t on New Fiji. It was a temperate climate, much like New New York, but with those stupid blue trees up and down the lane like she used to see on Van Gelder 5. Van Gelder 5? That was that place that Professor Farnsworth used to send us with medical supplies to that hospital…the Lord Garth Medical Institute, if I remember right. Is that where I am? A nuthouse?
Leela wanted to call for help, but her wrist computer was gone. Amid the bungalows she spied a couple sitting on a park bench. She jogged over to see them. “My God, am I glad to see you two!”
The couple just sat there, unresponsive to her. She waved her hand in front of the man’s eyes…nothing. She then spotted another man walking by slowly, like a zombie. Oh God, this is where I am! What do I do now? Up from the opposite direction a plump nurse with curly blonde hair stepped out of one of the bungalows, and started walking toward her. Not knowing what else to do, Leela quickly got a blank look on her face and started a slow zombie walk behind the man.
“Miss Leela,” said the woman in a thick cockney accent, “I’ve been looking for you lov. It’s time for your afternoon medicine – it looks like you’ve had the morning dose already.”
“It is?” Leela spoke slowly and in a low tone.
“Oh, yes dearie. A little of this and you’ll be as right as rain.” The stocky nurse put two pills in Leela’s hand and gave her a cup of water. “Down the hatch, lov.”
Leela drank the water, and cradled the pills under her tongue while the nurse made a call on her wrist phone. “Yes,” she said in a bitter tone, “This is Nurse Whateley. I found the little savage wanderin’ around. She’s got her bloody meds in ‘er. Look, I’m long overdue for a break. And bring me a ciggy…I ‘aven’t had a smoke all day.” As the plump nurse walked away, Leela spit the pills out into a nearby bush. How do I get out of here? Like answered prayer, she saw a small shuttle land just beyond the trees in back of the bungalows. While she didn’t know the place like the back of her hand, she did know where the landing field was from those old deliveries.
The east coast rain pounded down outside of the Star Bugs Coffee Shop, with its familiar space beetle logo on the roof. Little Annie Kroker often met Sara Fry here in the evenings. Annie resembled her mother a great deal; save for her trademark spiky hair and her wilder taste in clothing, she could almost pass for a young Amy Wong. She picked up two lattes at the counter.
“Here we go, sis…two Martian lattes.” Annie tried to be cheery. “I’ve never known what the green stuff in here is, but they sure do taste great.” Sara just stirred her latte with a swizzle stick looking glum. “Okay, so I’m not here to talk about lattes – I have something important to talk about. I understand that you are going to get some cosmetic surgery…”
“Annie! Does the whole world know?”
“No…just a few of your friends. They think it’s stupid – and so do I.” Annie gave her a worried look. “Your mother doesn’t know yet, does she?”
“It’s not just cosmetic surgery…I’ll have two working eyes. Just like normal people do.”
“Normal?” Annie laughed out loud. “Is anything we’ve ever seen at Planet Express normal? My mother cusses all day in Chinese at my dad, who is really just a bunch of flying hookworms in a huge pickle jar. Normal? Watch this…” Annie suddenly made her index finger stretch four inches longer than its original size, like Pinocchio’s nose after he told a lie. The DNA she got from her alien father Kif enabled her to stretch like this.
Sara grabbed her elongated finger. “Okay, I get it…I get it.” Annie just chuckled, as her finger returned to its normal length and Sara let go of it.
“Sara, I have a feeling that this is not so much about looking normal, as it’s about not looking like your mother.”
“You don’t understand…I just know at some point that I’ll have to give up my schooling and leave my friends to go live in a cave on that planet of hers – it’s the only thing she ever talks about.”
“Oh…I kinda had a feeling that this is what was going on.” In a rare serious moment, Annie gently grabbed Sara’s hand. “Your mother Leela spent her whole life just trying to find out who she was…and nearly died as she was doing it. You should be happy for her. Will you please, please, please promise not do anything until she gets back from her business trip?”
“Good! Now…watch me as I trip Jimmie Johnson there as he walks by.” Annie got an evil grin on her face and bounced her eyebrows as she started to stretch her leg into the aisle; no one seemed to notice as her leg grew by two feet.
“Stop…you do and I’m leaving,” said Sara. Annie didn’t trip him, but it got a laugh out of Sara. Mission accomplished.
Leela finally made her way over to the landing field; it’s hard to be stealthy when you are wearing a white outfit, especially around blue trees with blue bark. She stopped dead in her tracks as she remembered the security force field around the landing zone. She picked up a small rock and threw it toward the field; it bounced off and fell to the ground. She also noticed what looked like a card reader on a small pedestal.
“Why, there you are my little savage.” Nurse Whateley was back, this time with a large syringe. “I’ve been looking all over for you, lov.”
Leela knew that she had to put on her act hot and heavy to get through this. She went into her zombie routine. “Mother?” she said in a confused tone. “Have you seen my mother?”
“Oh you poor dear…your mother must have given birth to you in the woods. You’re probably not used to wearing clothes even.” Whateley came up close to have a look at her patient. She gently pinched Leela’s chin to get a look into her eye. Leela didn’t make eye contact. “You know sweetie,” she said in a smug voice, “you’re not fooling anyone. Your big eyeball should be plenty dilated by now, and it’s not. You’re not much of an actress – we’ll have to go for the needle. Boy, that eye is freakish looking…”
The nurse was taken by surprise as the eyeball swung around to meet her gaze. With lightning speed Leela jammed her knuckles into the woman’s chubby ribcage, dropping her bulky mass to the ground; she then stood over her prey. “You know, for an ignorant bigot, you’re actually very clever,” Leela told her. “A couple of things, though - first of all, my mother wasn’t a savage; she was a baroness who gave birth to me in a noble house. Second of all, and this is the most important part, there is a little thing we call proxemics…you let me get way too close.”
As Whateley tried to get up, Leela gave her a swift kick in the side of her belly. “And that’s for calling my mother a savage.” Leela picked up the syringe, and quickly jabbed it into the woman’s butt cheek. Whateley let out a yelp. “Oh, I’m sorry dearie…I should have told you that was going to sting a bit. By the way, I’m going to have to borrow that snappy looking nurse outfit of yours for a while.”
After dressing up in the nurse outfit, which was huge on her, Leela drug the enormous Miss Whateley into a thicket…she was nothing but dead weight. The medicine was starting to kick in, and she was pretty much immobile for a while. Leela looked at the access card on her uniform. “This is 20th century technology…they sure didn’t spend much on security around here.” She popped the card into the reader and the shield lowered.
Philip Fry had spent several minutes on the eyephone with the contact numbers he was given; no one at Desoxo seemed to know whether Leela had arrived at her destination or not. He was getting worried. He and Phil Jr. had been planning a fishing trip, but there was no way he would leave until he found out about Leela.
Leela had no choice but to go through the hangar building to get to the ship. As soon as she walked in, she spotted a security officer at a desk. He spun around when she came in. “What are you doing in here?”
“I am here because…we have an escaped patient. Don’t you get security updates?”
“Yes, we do, officer…Pavlak.” She grabbed him by the shoulders. “Listen to me very carefully: this patient’s name is Turanga Leela. She is a big woman, blonde hair, blue eyes. She’s dangerous, so be very, very careful. Don’t let her corner you! If you see her, hit her with the stun stick just to be sure. Oh, and she also likes to take her clothes off. Now, get going…go!”
Officer Pavlak bolted out the door. “What an idiot,” commented Leela. She picked up a clipboard off the wall with an electronic key for a hornet-class shuttle. “Not much of a ship, but it will have to do.”
Not long after he left the force field, Officer Pavlak ran across the hulking figure of Nurse Whateley crawling out of the bushes. “Crap! There she is!” Pavlak slapped the poor woman in the leg with his stun stick, and she went back down into the dirt with an “Ooof” sound. He then contacted his security office to tell them that Patient Turanga Leela had been captured. As he spoke, he watched as a shuttle lifted up from the field and cut in its thrusters. In the blink of an eye, it was gone.
As the shuttle left the planet behind, Leela scoured the astrogator computer. “Nuts,” she said, “this little piece of junk won’t make it to Earth.” Suddenly a familiar system popped onto the screen. “But it will make it to Cyclon.” She then pulled out some food packs, as she hadn’t eaten in nearly 24 hours.
Fry was so relieved when he finally got the message from Leela on his eyephone. He knew something was up, but had no idea what was going on. He walked into the apartment to collect the kids. “Sara, Phil, we need to get packed to go.”
“Go? Go where?” Sara yelled from the other room.
“Cyclon. We’re meeting your mother there.”
“Arrggghh!! I knew it!”
Morgan hated living on Mars, even though she had snagged a pretty nice condo at the edge of Olympica City. It still grated on her that it practically stood in the shadow of the Leo Wong statue, who was the father of one of her enemies – his metal image forever grinned down on her, with its cowboy hat and polo shirt. Her neighbors in the addition had grown accustomed to her incessant swearing, and she spouted off plenty of choice words as she brushed the red dust off of her car with a broom. Damned ball of red dirt, she thought, I hate these stinking dust storms. The cyberphone went off in her head, and she tapped her temple to take the call; the neighbors thought this comical, because it looked like a crazy woman having a conversation with herself (it was really funny when she worked with a spreadsheet, poking her fingers in the air and working with the cells that no one else could see).
“This is Morgan,” she said as she kept sweeping, “yes…yes, I understand that. What? What? Escaped?! You want me to go where to pick her up?” Morgan’s closest neighbors could hear the yell from her driveway, and wondered what had happened.
Leela stepped off of the shuttle to a Cyclon that had changed quite a bit from her first visits. She couldn’t even leave the parking spot without seeing that dreaded triangle-shaped Desoxo logo all over the place. The corporation was starting to make money off of her people. It was the corporation that nearly killed her and her friends almost 20 years ago. It was the corporation that tried to sell Amy like some animal in a zoo. This same corporation had just tried to silence her on an asylum planet. But how do you fight a massive corporation?
It was good to see the familiar face of her friend Sigotha the shipping broker at the edge of the tarmac; the whole spaceport itself was still little more than just a slab of concrete with a few buildings around it. “Leela…I got your message. What in the seven worlds is going on? And what's with this nurse outfit? It looks like a white sack on you.”
“I’ll explain it as we walk. I’m kind of a fugitive now.”
“Not before you stop by the house and grab something to eat,” he said with a smile.
“Oh, thank you! I still love you and your wife for that. I’ve lived on food packs for days – I could eat a whole quong beast I’m so hungry.”
“Well,” chuckled Sigotha, “at least let us roast one up for you first.”
Now that the corporation was starting to exploit Cyclon, it was no longer classified off limits; this still didn’t make it an easy place to get to. The Frys had to take several different flights before they made it to Leela’s homeworld. Sara spent most of her time studying for her finals, which she hoped that she wouldn’t miss. This just added to the rage that was building inside of her. Why doesn’t Dad put a stop to this nonsense, she thought. Is this where I have to say goodbye to any chance at a normal life?
The old Xi’an class passenger cutter touched down on Cyclon in the middle of a heavy downpour, in the middle of the night. Philip Fry was still wearing his fishing hat that he had hoped to break in on a trip with his son. They scurried over to the small terminal building, and got soaked in the process. Leela was waiting for them there, already wearing some local clothing.
“Sara…it’s good to see you.”
“Don’t even talk to me, Mother.”
A look of sadness flashed across her face. “I hated to drag you guys all the way out here, but I’ve got something to explain to you.” Leela filled her family in on what had happened. “Philip, honey, did you bring it?”
Fry got a smile on his face and pulled out a long leather case with Cyclonian writing on it. Leela opened the straps of the case and pulled out one of her family’s sharan-jii spears. She gave Fry a big hug. “Baby, you’re the best!”
A tired Fry gave Leela a sad glance. “They got your wrist-thingee, didn’t they? I brought your old eyephone just in case…”
High up in Cyclon’s orbit, a Desoxo corporate corvette was starting its roll-out procedures. The pilot quickly realized that Morgan Proctor had problems with freefall; she was getting sick again on the way in to the surface, as she’d gotten sick when they’d left Mars. By now she was determined to bring Leela in, dead or alive, no matter what it took. By the time they started re-entry, Morgan’s face had turned grey…
“You going to be okay, lady?”
Morgan was too busy throwing up to answer.
As soon as Little Annie walked into the apartment, Amy was waiting to pounce. She had that mean look, which was accented by a streak of white in her hair - she had truly become the Chinese matron that her mother had been. “I understand that you tried to talk Sara out of getting her eye surgery. Why did you do that?”
“Mother…why is that even an issue? You’ve been talking to my friends again…”
“Annie, that surgery is between Sara and Leela.” Amy lowered her tone. “Besides, Leela once had the surgery herself.”
“Yes she did,” retorted Annie, “and I understand that it didn’t work out so well for her.”
“So? That’s her business, not yours!”
Annie was determined to stand her ground. “I know you’ve known Leela longer than I have. I played with the Frys when they were babies. All I asked her to do was to wait until her mother got back to Earth, and not run to some back-alley doctor. You know I care about her.”
Amy started to let it drop. “I know you do…but we still don’t interfere in other people’s business.”
“Did you support Leela all those years ago?”
“Yes I did…I just wanted her to be happy, that’s all…”
“Xià! You’re impossible!” With that, Annie left the room.
Leela awoke in the middle of the night. Sigotha the broker and his wife were nice enough to put up Leela’s family for a few nights; she felt safer in a house, as she didn’t know who she’d run into in a hotel. She had just started to go back to sleep when she heard Sara having a bad dream of some kind nearby. Poor baby, she thought, look what I’m putting her through. Have I put my whole family in jeopardy?
Sara continued to toss and turn, and Leela snuck over to see how she was doing. “Shhh, baby,” she said in a low soothing voice, “it’s gonna be alright.” Sara finally started to form a word with her lips: Mi nakola, which translated into “I am ready” in English. Leela’s eye got wide – Sara had just spoken her first words in Cyclonian. Just as it happened to her 19 years before, Sara’s brain was starting that strange connection with the homeworld of Cyclon. Setting foot on the planet was enough to awaken that part of the cyclops brain that stored a treasure trove of information…and Leela herself was still learning things after all this time. She gently kissed Sara on the forehead and covered her up with the blanket.
“I hate this God-forsaken place,” Morgan Proctor mumbled as she made her way to the hotel that Desoxo had built for its business travelers. They told her that it was walking distance from the field, but it still seemed like a long walk. She was soaking wet when she came into the building, as it was already the rainy season in this part of Cyclon. Loud bangs of thunder rumbled outside. As she was checking in, the woman behind the counter told her that she had a package waiting in her room. When she got into her room, she spotted the box and opened it up. Inside was one scanner to find an employee chip, one syringe, strong sedative and extra cartridges, a small rescue flare, and a Galaxy Electronic P-224 laser pistol. Also in the box was a cloak – something that would help hide her identity in this planet of one-eyed inhabitants.
“I did not,” Sara spat, “I don’t believe you!”
“You did so! I heard you. Baby, I’m so happy for you!”
“Mother, stop it! You can’t accept the fact that I don’t want to be a part of your world, so now you’re trying to say I’m turning into one of your kind!”
“But you are one of our kind!” Leela’s voice was pleading. “Baby, you’re home!”
“For the last time, I’m not home! This is your home, not mine! I don’t even know you anymore…”
Philip Fry finally interjected. “Sara, you said you wanted to do a little shopping…could we stop fighting for a few minutes and just look around?”
“There’s nothing but a bunch of junk here…it just looks like a cheap renaissance fair.”
Leela’s face turned to a frown. The family continued looking through the market stalls in silence.
A chubby, balding, well dressed cyclops merchant with a pony tail stepped from one of the stalls to greet Fry and his family. “Hello,” he said in good English, “my name is Solat, and I’m a dealer in fine weapons.”
“Not interested,” said Leela curtly in Cyclonian.
“Oh, but ma’am, we sell fine sharan-jii spears…these are the pride of our people.”
“I know what they are…don’t you see one strapped to my back?”
“Well,” Solat persisted, “perhaps your daughter might want one? Or your son here. I can make you a sweet deal.”
Solat insisted on shoving one into Leela’s hands, so she reluctantly put it through a few practice moves. She quickly handed the weapon back to Solat. “I’m still not interested.”
“But, Miss…my weapon is finely crafted…”
“Your weapon is a cheap piece of junk that you sell to human tourists. It’s made of fan palm wood instead of zargazza wood, and it’ll splinter the first time it’s used in combat. Besides, it’s about 30 grams too light in the back end. It’ll get someone killed if they take it into a fight…good day.”
“And yours is better?” said Solat angrily.
Leela quickly pulled her sharan out of its shoulder strap to show the merchant. It was a beautiful old weapon, covered with Cyclonian writing symbols; near the spear end were the four symbols for Family Turanga. On the other end was a weight roughly the size of a doorknob. “This was made for my father in my village by a weapons master, and blessed by a shaman. Unlike your tourist toy, this has actually seen combat. Now, good day.” Leela turned to leave.
“Hey lady, don’t leave…perhaps we can sell these things together. You could be sort of like a spokesperson for me.”
Leela spun around on the ball of one foot military style. In a low, monotone voice she said, “What did you say?”
“Maybe we can sell these things together…you seem to know a lot about them.”
His little skinny friend from the stall looked at him with concern. “Solat, the woman isn’t interested…just let her be.”
Leela walked closer to Solat, and began to scold him like a schoolmaster. “You don’t sell family honor. I had to prove myself worthy to carry this weapon in the eyes of my masters…I happen to be a 4th level Firemaster. What you just said was a serious garataka – take it back while you still have time.”
“Look lady, you don’t impress me with your fancy native tongue. I’ve been playing with these things for years.” By now, several people had gathered to see what was going on. Among them were two tourists from Earth in obnoxious loud clothing. Solat looked at the crowd, and saw an opportunity to make some money. “Perhaps now would be a good time to demonstrate the sharan-jii in front of these good people.” Solat made the terrible mistake of tapping the spear end of his sharan with Leela’s – her eye grew wide with surprise.
Fry tried to step between them with outstretched arms. “Believe me, mister – you do not want to do this! Trust me!”
Leela grabbed Fry by the shirt and tossed him out of the way like a ragdoll. She then began to twirl her sharan like a bo staff. “Take the garataka back,” demanded Leela, “or prepare for combat.” Her eye drilled into Solat. “Hata, barut, oncha,” she said in a low monotone voice. “Hata, barut, oncha…hata, barut, oncha.”
The Earth woman tourist was just delighted at the display. “Mister,” she said to Fry in a thick Alabama accent, “what your wife is saying is just beautiful. What is she saying?”
Fry was as white as a sheet by this time. “Uh, it means ‘family, code, honor’.” He turned to Solat’s friend. “You’ve got to stop this right now…she’s getting ready to kill your buddy.”
“Solat,” the friend yelled, “I think this guy is right – you’ve got to stop this now.”
“Is she serious about this?” asked Solat in a worried tone.
“Hata, barut, oncha,” Leela said again, this time in a more gruff tone.
“Dad,” said Phil Jr., “You’ve got to stop her! She’s getting ready to strike!”
“It’s too late,” he answered, holding his son back with his arm.
With a lightning quick move, Leela swung the spear tip of her sharan at Solat’s head…he was shocked to see blood on his hand when he touched the wound. Leela stalked her chubby prey slowly, like a leopard closing in on a sick gazelle at a watering hole. “Hata, barut, oncha.”
Solat tried bravely to fend off the next blow with a blocking maneuver, but Leela’s sharan broke his into several pieces; her prophecy about the cheaply made spear had come true.
Leela then stepped into her opponent and swung the weighted end around like a baseball bat; the impact knocked him to his hands and knees. “Hata, barut, oncha,” she said, as she began to twirl the sharan again. He just sat there stunned, not knowing what to do. She could have easily killed him in one move, but she barely tapped him. Some in the crowd gasped as Leela then lifted up her weapon for the death blow.
“Tray-ka!” The voice came from the crowd. Leela slowly lowered the weapon, and let it drop to the ground.
“What do I do now?” yelled a bruised and bleeding Solat.
“I suggest you run away…quickly!” Solat followed the stranger’s advice and scurried away like a frightened animal. Leela dropped to her knees and started shaking. She got choked up. Sara thought it safe enough to comfort her mother, so she went over to her.
“I didn’t want to do that to the man,” cried Leela.
Fry went over to greet the stranger. “I don’t know who you are, but you just saved that guy’s life.”
The stranger pulled back his hood. It was Leela’s old friend Lanrum Kirth from her first visit to the planet. “Leela,” he chuckled, “you’re back here on the homeworld less than a moon phase and you try to kill one of our fine merchants? I must say at least that your fighting skills have improved.”
“What’s happening to me? I didn’t want to do that.” She wiped a tear from her face. “I just did it.”
“Well, I’m not a man of science, but it’s all part of what’s stored in your head. Your reaction was…what’s the English word? Auto-matic. It’s a survival instinct of our people. It was meant for the survival of the clans.”
“Crap,” cried Sara as she still tried to comfort Leela. “Is this what’s waiting for me? I’m just going to freak out and try to kill someone for saying the wrong thing to me? Is this what I have to look forward to?”
“I don’t know,” replied Kirth. “You weren’t born here, and your father is…a human.” He looked thoughtfully over at Fry. “No offense, sir.”
“Huh? Oh, I think we see what you mean. It depends on what’s stored in her brain.”
“But this,” cried Leela.
Kirth went down on one knee to talk with Leela. “You aren’t just a cyclops with a weapon, Leela – you are a Firemaster. You’ve been trained to have dialotha…I guess your English word would be discernment. You’re not just a killing machine…you’ve been educated to be so much more than that. You just haven’t had the opportunity to use it much yet in actual combat. Little man here got what he deserved anyway…a good lesson. No harm done. A baby-fat city dweller should have more common sense than to pick a fight with a warrior from a clan anyway.”
When Leela got herself back together and calmed down, she noticed a woman and two young children joining Kirth. Her face lit up. “These…yours?”
“Oh, yes…this is my wife Li’ann, my son Jor and my daughter Te-ann.” Fry and Leela both greeted Kirth’s family.
In the crowd behind them, with a cloak over her eyes, stood a silent Morgan Proctor. These really are a bunch of savages, she thought.
“Philip,” Kirth noted, “that s quite a hat you’ve got…”
“Oh, this – it’s my fishing hat. Phil Jr. and I were hoping to go on a fishing trip, but we got a little side-tracked.”
“You know, my boy and I go fishing very close to here…you could join us while the girls go shopping.”
“That would be awesome,” said Phil Jr.
“Mother, I want to be alone.”
“Sara, I don’t think it’s safe.”
“Is that because a little cyclops voice in your head told you so? Or is that your answer?”
“I don’t want to have this conversation right now…”
“Well, when is a good time?”
Leela looked at her daughter with empathy. “Sara, I do understand what you’re going through…why don’t you look at a few shops – but please hook back up with me in an hour, huh? They might just try to get to me through you.”
Sara shook her head in agreement, and the two parted ways. She was finally able to breathe, to have a tiny bit of freedom. She’d no sooner left her mother’s side when she felt a hand grab her by the arm. Morgan Proctor pulled Sara away from the crowd of people she was in. She shoved a laser pistol into her ribcage. “You’re coming with me, little lady,” she said. As they made their way up the road, the two ran across Solat sitting on a woodpile; he’d already bandaged his forehead with a long piece of cloth. He glanced up at Morgan and her hostage, and spotted the pistol. “Listen up Chubby,” she told him, “I’ve got a message for you to deliver.”
“Leela!” A voice came from behind her in the marketplace. “Leela!” She spun around to see who had called her, and spotted a chubby Solat. He had been running, and was out of breath.
“You again? Have you come back for another beating?”
“Leela, some lady sent me here to meet with you; she just took your daughter at gunpoint. Up the north trail out of town. I think she wanted you to find her.”
“It’s true. I have a veng beast that you can take – you may be able to catch up with them.”
“Why are you helping me?”
“Well, contrary to what you said, I do have some family honor.”
“You just might at that…where is your veng?”
He led her to the large two-legged animal with a long neck and funny snout tied up outside of a market stall. Leela climbed on its back and got ready to ride. “I can sell her to you very cheaply,” Solat told her. When she growled at him, he replied, “I’m just kidding! Don’t hit me!”
As she got ready to ride, he told her, “Go find your kid.” With that, he smacked the veng beast in the rump and Leela rode off. She was less than ten minutes up the trail when she caught sight of a rescue flare coming up from a wooded area – a rare thing to see out in these parts. Morgan, she thought, if you hurt my baby, I will end you.
The flare could be seen by Kirth and the Frys. Philip had just gotten Leela’s message on his eyephone, and had told Kirth what was going on.
“I know where that is,” Kirth told Fry. “Follow me…”
“When my mother comes up here, she’s going to tear your heart out and eat it!”
“That’s probably what you people do, isn’t it? I’m counting on your mother coming up here. She’s the one I want, not you – you little brat.” Morgan calmly pulled a large silver syringe out of a cloth bag and displayed it to Sara. “As soon as I take care of your mom, you’re free to go.” Morgan had time, and decided to do a little small talk. “So tell me Sara, I think that’s what your name is, what do you make of all this? Your mother brought you all the way out here…these aren’t really your people. Wouldn’t you be happy back on Earth with your own kind? You know, I’m friends with a plastic surgeon on Mars that could make you look just like everyone else…”
Before Morgan could finish her sentence, Sara hit her on the side of the face with a rounded stone. Morgan flew into a rage, and slapped her across the face. “You brat! That hurt!” She pulled her laser pistol out and pointed it menacingly at the girl. “Enough tricks…enough games! Just sit there and stay the hell out of trouble!” She sat down on a rock and rubbed the side of her head where Sara had struck her. “You’re no better than your mother…just an ignorant primordial.”
As much as Sara wanted to deny it, information was starting to flow through her brain from that strange lobe that held a wealth of cyclops culture and knowledge. She suddenly realized that she could go into a controlled trance, much like her mother could. While she didn’t really understand the purpose behind the trance, it seemed easy enough to do. As Morgan continued to grumble and swear, Sara’s eye went up into its socket and her body dropped to the ground.
“Oh, hell,” she spat, “get up, for crying out loud, I didn’t hit you that hard. Get up!”
Morgan went over to examine the teen. “I hope you aren’t prone to seizures or something…that’s all I’d need.” She bent down for a closer look. “Maybe you’re a diabetic.” Much like a seizure patient, Sara could hear everything Morgan was blathering about. Morgan didn’t know what to do…this complicated an already screwed up situation. What would the corporation do if the girl was dead, and she had to kill Leela? This was going to be so simple…
Kirth and his son and the Frys each got their own veng beast from a stable in town; the young man who ran the stable was paid a few coins, and the group left. Fry found riding the beast very awkward, and nearly fell off several times. At one point the veng nearly drug Fry along the ground by his legs.
“Woman, get away from her!”
“So,” Morgan answered in a calm voice, “the warrior woman did get the message. The deal is simple - just pull up a sleeve, take a shot, and your daughter is free to go.”
Leela got off the veng beast and looked at Sara slumped over in the bushes. “You monster…this was about me…and you hurt my daughter? I knew you guys would try something like this – just to get to me.”
“Your daughter is fine…she’s just playing possum.” Morgan’s gaze dropped. “Well, I did hit her.”
“You did what?!”
“I just slapped her – she hit me in the face with a stone,” she told her, as it this justified her actions.
Leela pulled her sharan spear from its leather case on her back. “Morgan Proctor, if you hurt my baby…”
Morgan pulled out her pistol. “Oh, come off of it, barbarian woman. You can’t outrun a laser bolt. Bring your arm over here so I can let her go.” She saw that Leela showed no signs of backing down. “Boy, you’ve got a lot of moxie…”
Leela went in to a full combat stance with her sharan-jii. An angry look washed over Morgan’s face. “Leela,” she sternly told her, “we can do this easy way, or the hard way.”
Leela prepared to strike, and began to mutter a prayer in Cyclonian under her breath. May the hosts of heaven and all the saints give me victory against the bringer of evil…
“I guess we’re doing this the hard way, then…”
As Leela ran toward her with the weapon, Morgan managed to get a shot at her. The bright red laser bolt hit the top part of her right shoulder as she flew on past; not a fatal shot by any means, as the gun was on a lower setting, but it left Leela in tremendous pain. She blacked out as soon as she hit the ground.
Morgan walked over and rolled her onto her back. She looked at the wound. “You stupid idiot! Why did you have to do that?” Morgan put a handkerchief on the wound, and she noticed that Leela’s cyclops blood was more of a blue color than red when it first exited the body. “You are a freaky alien, aren’t you? Hell, you’ll live. I just wonder what I’m going to do with you if you wake up…and what the hell am I going to do with your daughter…”
Morgan had gotten so involved with Leela that she didn’t notice Sara standing behind her. She held a long tree branch with a pointed end, which she brought into position above Morgan’s right shoulder blade. Like a trained, skilled warrior, the 17 year old brought the tree branch down into the pressure point near Morgan’s neck. She let out a loud yelp and fell to the ground. Sara wasted no time in finding the next pressure point and jabbing it with the branch. Morgan simpered with pain.
Leela’s eye opened up, and she was surprised to hear Cyclonian words drifting through the air – they were swear words, and quite filthy ones at that. She struggled to pull herself up…she was still in a great deal of pain, and had spattered blood on her shirt. She watched Sara with the stick, pushing and twisting it every time Morgan tried to move. “Hata, barut, oncha,” she murmured as she looked at Leela. “I did say it right, didn’t I Mother?”
In a pained voice Leela replied, “You did just fine baby.”
Leela spotted her sharan-jii nearby, and picked it up…her shoulder screamed in pain as she did; it was painful to lift the weapon up above her head. Sara’s eye got huge as Leela got ready for the death blow. Morgan began to cry like a frightened child as she looked up at the spear tip. The spear came down with a plop sound. Sara cringed and closed her eye.
Morgan rolled her eyes up, and saw that Leela had planted the spear tip through the bun of her hair into the ground. She then gave her a confused look. “Morgan Proctor,” Leela said in a loud voice, “you are going to die someday, but it won’t be here and it won’t be today. Kirth was right – I am a warrior of discernment and discipline.” She pulled the spear out of her hair and tossed it aside. She then grabbed the silver syringe lying nearby. “But you will pay for putting my baby girl in danger.”
She jammed the shot into Morgan’s leg, who responded with a yell. “Hey,” Leela joked, “I’m gettin’ good with these things.” She looked up at her daughter as she tossed it aside. “Sara, you can put the stick down now…she’s not going anywhere for a while.”
Morgan quickly tried to get to her feet. She walked away, dragging her leg as she went. She only made it a few yards when she fell back to the ground. Leela walked up to gloat over her. “Help me,” Morgan mumbled.
“Ahh…Xenevia 323 – that’s what’s in it! And Desoxo’s pharmaceutical division makes it! You know Morgan, it acts like a neurotoxin, much like a scorpion sting. Paralysis sets in, and your little legs just don’t function anymore. But, unlike scorpion venom, it doesn’t try to shut down the lungs. And you were going to jam it in my ass. How does it feel?”
Morgan again tried to speak, but her mouth was numb and her speech was slurred. “Didn’t mean…any…harm.”
“Didn’t mean any harm? Tell that to my shoulder – it’s still screaming in pain.” Her face cringed as she peeked at her wound. “You actually shot me, you stupid brain-wipe!”
“Leela! Sara!” The two turned to see the guys coming up on their veng beasts. Kirth, who always had a good sense of humor, couldn’t help but to chuckle again. “Turanga Leela – why am I not surprised to find you here standing over a body? I’m glad that you’re on our side.” He turned as an air ambulance approached them.
At an altitude of 400 meters, a corporate air ambulance approached the spot where the flare was launched from. As the pilot dropped his gear and went into a ground hover, he spotted the group of people in the clearing. “There they are,” he told he crewmember.
When the two stepped out of the ship, they had confused looks on their faces. “We’re here to pick up one Too-ron-ga Leela.”
Leela stepped forward, and pointed to Morgan. “Here she is…just like you folks ordered.”
He gave a shocked look at her. “Good gravy – what the hell happened to you?”
“Miss Turanga here got off a good shot – she was armed, as we expected.”
“Bill…give this lady some medical attention.” He followed instructions, and went into the ship for his medkit. The pilot gazed down at Morgan, who could now only gurgle; she was not yet asleep, but her whole body was numb and paralyzed. As she continued to make noises, spittle rolled out of her mouth. “This thing here is what we came for?”
“Yep…there she is.”
The pilot gave a strange look at Leela’s clothing, and her singular eye. “You’re a company woman?”
“Of course I am.”
“But…what about the eye?”
I had to be surgically altered…how do you think I fit in with these animals? I had to go native just to survive.” Kirth literally had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing…it took everything he had to keep a serious look on his face. “Now, I need a shuttle for my travelling companions and I to Midway Station within the next few days. Just make sure Little Miss Thing here finds her way to Van Gelder 5, and don’t ask any questions.”
Morgan was placed into a cryo chamber on the ship, still trying to gurgle a plea for help. After the chamber door closed, she went off to sleep. The crewmembers finished up on Leela with a laser scalpel and cleaned up her shoulder. The pilot took one good last look at her eye. “For the love of Mike, you had to do that for the company?”
Leela cracked an evil grin. “Like they always told me - you gotta do what you gotta do.”
With that, the pilot shook his head and got the ship ready to leave.
Nurse Whateley stood waiting on the landing pad at the main medical clinic for the cryo chamber to be delivered. She still had bruises on her hips and ribcage from Leela’s assault.
“We did manage to get her, but she’s in rough shape. She actually shot one of our employees with a laser pistol,” the ambulance crewmember said. “They did tell us that she was dangerous…”
“She’s going to be in a lot worse shape after I’m done with her, that’s for sure,” replied Nurse Whateley. The two popped the latches on the cryo chamber, and started to open the lid. “Hello, my little savage – wakey wakey…hang on – ‘oo the bloody hell is this?”
“Why, it’s Too-ran-gah Leela.”
“No it isn’t…she’s a bleedin’ cyclops you idiot. All that muckin’ about and you didn’t even get the right patient?”
The crewmember was gobsmacked. “Did…she have purple hair?”
“Yes, you idiot…did you see her?”
“Uhh…a bit of her.”
“You stupid twonk! And you let ‘er go? There will be hell to pay over this…the corporation will throw an absolute eppy when they find out!”
“Hey…look at you,” said Kirth as Sara came to the dinner table in Sigotha's house wearing a native Cyclonian dress. Leela had already fashioned a sash with the Turanga family colors on it.
“Now before you all start in on me.” Sara told everyone, “the only reason I’m wearing this is because of a class project. I don’t want to hear all this stuff about me turning into a native cyclops, and how all that junk is going to start coming into my brain. Okay?”
“She’s even feisty like a native warrior,” interjected Phil Jr. Sara gave him a mock punch in the arm as he chuckled.
“I must say,” said Sigotha, “that we’re very proud of you and your mother, Sara. I’m so proud to introduce you to a home-cooked meal here. I think you’ll really enjoy it.”
“You know,” Sara replied, “some taga berries do sound good right about now…” Sara looked around to see everyone staring at her. “What? What did I say?”
“How would you know that they’d taste good?” said Kirth with a chuckle. "They're very hard to find - I'm sure you haven't had any yet." There was no turning back. At least in dribs and drabs, the “Cyclon Effect” was going to take place in Leela’s daughter. No matter how much she tried to deny it, these were Sara’s people as well as Leela’s; all Leela could do was to smile with pride. Sigotha’s wife then came into the dining room with a roast quong beast, with its set of six legs. To Sara it smelled like…being home.
“Hey, you brought me liquor…”
Leela’s hand grabbed Bender’s metal wrist with a lightning reflex. “That’s my bottle of brandy from Cyclon. Touch it, and I’ll have you dismantled. This bottle of Venusian corn liquor from the duty free shop in Sheffield will have to do for you.”
“Aw…how come every time you go to that planet you come back an evil Amazon?”
Little Annie finally arrived at the Planet Express building, and gave Sara a hug when she came in. She noticed that Sara was wearing her native dress and colors. “You look great, kiddo. Ya happy?”
Sara shook her head ‘yes’.
Leela was already showing Amy her shoulder. “Wow,” Amy said, “they really did a good job with that – you can’t see it unless you know what to look for.”
“It’s still plenty sore, though,” she replied.
“Hey guys,” Annie said, “look at TV.”
The Planet Express gang watched the news about an investigation into the allegations of trade fraud between the Desoxo Corporation and the planet Cyclon. There was another related story about patient abuse at the Lord Garth Medical Center on Van Gelder 5. Leela’s eye grew wide open as the new director of the medical center was being interviewed – it was Morgan Proctor.
“Sara, is it true that you kicked Morgan’s butt?” Bender blurted out.
“Shhhh!” said Annie.
Morgan’s face loomed large on the tv screen. She seemed to be looking right at Leela…it gave her a shiver.
“Is it true that a patient recently escaped from this facility?” the reporter asked.
“Yes, unfortunately that’s true,” Morgan responded. “We have a pretty good idea of where this patient is…and if I have to find her myself, I will…”