Morgan Proctor angrily opened up her cabinet behind her desk and peered in. “Where is the paperwork I asked for?”
As she gazed like an angry giant over the crowd of carpenter ants, she spotted dozens of tiny protest signs. “What in the devil are these?” she asked.
One of the ants responded by waving his tiny antennae around. [We are on strike; you will not get your precious paperwork, Miss Thing].
“On strike? You can’t strike on me – you’re nothing but ants!”
The ant began waving his antennae around again.
“Listen buster – I know what that meant; you don’t have to get dirty with me. Now get back to work this instant.”
Another ant opened its mandibles and stuck its tongue out at Morgan.
“I saw that…” Morgan reached in and plucked up one of the protest signs. She curled up her face as she read it. “Fight the powers that be? How dare you little insolent ingrates – I’ve been supplying you with extra honey packets from the cafeteria, and this is how you treat me?”
She spotted one ant, slightly bigger than the others, who continued to defiantly wave his antennae at her. [You can only threaten us for so long, Big Sister. One of these days we will rise up and move beyond this Bureaucracy building you work in. When that day comes, we will begin to make your world into a larger empire for us].
“Shass, you little Cretin. So it was you who stirred them up with your big talk and political propaganda.” In anger, Morgan hovered her thumb over a group of the protesting ants; when they realized how much danger they were in, they dropped their signs and quickly moved back. “You’ve had your little protest; now comes the crackdown.”
Behind Morgan came a voice. “Morgan. Morgan!”
She quickly turned around. “Mr. Duffy…I didn’t know you were standing back there.”
Morgan’s boss had that grumpy look on his face. “Am I to understand that you brought all these ants in here?”
“Uh, well sir, not all of them. They kind of set up a colony in there. I didn’t realize how many eggs they’d brought in. I was going to get them all work visas as soon as I could…”
“You brought them in here as workers?”
“It’s all perfectly legal; I’ve got all the required paperwork. Of course they’re workers - they’re obviously not soldiers.” She grinned at her own witty remark. Mr. Duffy didn’t smile.
“Morgan – I went for coffee just now, and they’re in the sugar. They’re in the cream, and they’re in the darned coffee itself…I've got ant-flavored coffee!”
"On the bright side, they have lots of protein..."
Morgan flicked one of the tiny creatures off of Mr. Duffy’s tie and smiled; he annoyingly waved her hand away. “Look – Walt is coming by to get a re-certification for some of Mom’s combat robots; I expect this place to be clean and ant-free when he does.”
“Oh, of course, Mr. Duffy.” She waited until he left the department before dealing with the ants again. She brought a can of ant spray into view, and held it over the insects like a mighty weapon of war. “This is your final notice; martial law is now in effect. If you little creeps don’t get back to work and behave this very second, I’m going to start spraying you and vacuuming up the bodies. Shass – you’re the cause of all this. Shass? Where did you go, you little bum?” She looked all around in the cabinet, but couldn’t find the leader of the protest.
In a dark corner of the cabinet, two ants chatted with each other in ant talk. [Master Shass…what are these combat robots the big ugly one spoke of?]
[Little Tuki, they may just be the key to my dream of world conquest. I plan on going to the top – and I’m taking you with me].
The aged, dirty air taxi landed in front of the robot factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Walt left the vehicle and quickly went inside with his briefcase. Mom was waiting for him when he came in. She took a drag off of her cigarette. “Well, did you get everything up to code?”
“Of course, Mother.”
“Did you talk her down any on the price?”
“You know her…the devil himself couldn’t talk her down on anything.”
Mom scowled. She reached over her shoe and brought it down. “We’ve got ants in here.”
“I could call an exterminator…”
Mom popped Walt in the head with her hand. “No, dummy…we’ve got janitorial droids for that. I’m not going to pay someone to do it. Use your head. This is an automated facility – we don’t need extra people on the dole. Duh…”
“Of course, Mother…I don’t know what I was thinking.” Walt placed his briefcase into a nearby office and went walking off with Mom. As he left, ants began pouring out of a tiny hole in the leather.
Little Tuki quickly caught up with his mentor. [Master Shass…it was a terrible shame about Orim getting crushed like that].
Shass wiggled his antennae. [Orim got sloppy; this is a dangerous game that we’re playing with these giants. If you lose focus for just a second, you can be killed. Now – we need to find some blueprints and a computer console. And find me some bread crumbs…I’m hungry].
Leela walked into the lounge of the Planet Express building and found Bender and Fry watching TV. “I figured I’d find you lazy bums in here.”
“Hey,” Bender protested, “It’s Jeopardy. You could learn something. Pass me another beer, Fry.”
“What could I possibly learn from this?”
She rolled her eye, but started watching anyway. The show was now hosted by Calculon, who introduced the guests. “First, all the way from Mars, we have Mary Sue who enjoys writing Star Trek fanfiction.”
The woman quickly interrupted. “I’d just like to say hello to my perfect husband Marty in the audience with our perfect son Gary Stu.”
“Uh, thank you Mary Sue; that’s just...uh...perfect. Our next contestant is Calvin, an oncologist from Valley del Vista del Ray, California. Our third contestant is a hyper-intelligent ant named Arkon from New New York, who will answer through a computerized speaker system.”
Leela’s eye got huge. “Oh, dear. Professor…Professor, get your butt down here…”
“Do you remember how worried you were about those intelligent ants getting out into the open?”
Leela pointed to the ant. His eyes got wide. “That can’t be…it’s just got to be some other hyper-intelligent ant from our area…”
"How many hyper-intelligent ants can there be...from anywhere?"
Calculon started with the first question. “I am a haberdasher – what am I?”
The ant pressed the buzzer with his mandibles. “What is a seller of men’s clothing.”
“Correct! That question was submitted by Ted in Chicago.”
Farnsworth waved his hand. “That doesn’t prove anything – anyone would know that. That word is used all the time nowadays. Why, I was just at a haberdashery this morning.”
The ant continued. “I’ll take ‘Professors That Failed’ for 250.”
Calculon read on. “I created diamondium to protect Earth from genticles…”
Arkon tapped the buzzer again. “Who is Hubert J. Farnsworth?”
The ant snickered. “How could I not know that one – I lived in that old buzzard’s building for a while.”
The Professor went as white as a sheet. “Oh dear Lord…they did get out…”
“But how?” asked Leela. "The only other person here was…Morgan…”
Morgan opened up the cabinet, speaking as she did. “I’d better see a flurry of activity in there you guys…” She looked around, but found no ants. “Where are you guys?”
Mr. Duffy walked by, startling her. “Hey Morgan – you got rid of the ants…good job.”
“Uh, thanks Mr. Duffy.” She looked back on her desk and discovered one ant. “Kr-kr, my little buddy…where did everyone go?”
The tiny ant waved its antenna. [Shass led them all out of here…they’re gone. They went to that place Walt talked about with the combat robots].
Morgan bit her finger at the knuckle. “Oh my dear God…that’s not good. You’ve got to help me find them.”
Kr-kr looked up. [I’m tired and I’m old, Miss Morgan].
[I’m nearly 6 months old…that’s old for an ant. My legs are tired and sore nowadays. Even my antennae don’t work as well as they used to. Just let me stay here and die].
“Kr-kr…you’ve got to help me. This is important. We’ve got to find the colony and shut Shass down…”
[You’ve been good to me, Miss P. You’ve fed me many a sugar cube. I shall try. But I’m afraid I will soon be going the way of my colony-mates].
Morgan opened his little matchbox, and the ant slowly climbed in.
When Walt came back into the office, he could see that Mom was waiting to pounce. “What? What?”
“You stupid imbecile. Did you think I wasn’t going to find out? Who are you selling these to? The Omicronians? The Nudars?”
“Selling what, Mother?”
She held up a computer tablet. “These! This is an order for 9,000 U735 Harbinger of Death space fighters with a 30 meter wingspan. Did you think I wouldn’t find out?”
He took the tablet from Mom. “I didn't sign for these.”
“Your name is on the paperwork, Chowder Head!”
“I did not sign for these. And it doesn’t’ say 30 meters…it says 30 millimeters.”
She took a drag on her cigarette and snatched the tablet back. “30 millimeters? What kind of vehicle could be that small? Why, only an ant could fly something that small.” Mom then chuckled as if she said something funny. “An ant – could you imagine it?”
The words no sooner left Mom’s mouth when a dark object went flying by her head. It swiftly tore through the room and left out an open window. The two then looked at each other.
“30 millimeters?” asked Mom.
“30 millimeters,” replied Walt.
They then had to duck as scores of the tiny vehicles went ripping on by them; the air around them turned black as the blurry objects flew by.
“9,000?” shouted Mom.
“Probably,” replied Walt.
As Amy painted her toenails, the lights at Planet Express began to dim and flicker. "Guys - I can't paint my nails if the power is going out."
Bender popped his head in the doorway of the lounge. "Hey - who's been monkeying with the power supply?"
"You weren't abusing current again, were you? Dork."
Bender put a finger to his mouth. "Quiet, Little Boots...I don't want to hear it from Leela."
Amy blew on her toes. "Miscreant."
Bender stuck his head back into the doorway. "Are you using Georgia Peach Pink again? You need to buy new polish, girlfriend."
"Get out of here, you freak."
The large army ant stood at attention as he was given his assignment. Shoss waved his antennae. [Your mission is to proceed to the Colossus computer unit at Provo, Utah as soon as possible; you know what to do].
The army ant waved his antennae in response. [I serve the Colony, Sir]! He quickly crawled into this tiny space fighter, and a worker ant closed the canopy door.
Morbo looked grim as he read the news, but then again he always looked grim. “Power outages continued in different cities across the country, but they don’t seem to be lasting very long. Is this surely a sign of coming doom for you petty humans?” Suddenly the lights went off in the studio. Morbo looked around in panic. “We’re doomed, I tell you…doomed!!”
His co-host Linda chided him. "Oh, get a hold of yourself - you're acting like a child."
Mom got frustrated quickly with Morgan Proctor; she saw her visit to the robot plant as an invasion of privacy. “Don’t you blood-sucking leeches get paid enough as it is?”
“Mom, we…I mean I just want to ask you one question, and then I'll be on my way.”
Mom lit up a cigarette. “You’ve got 30 seconds of my time, sister. Spill it.”
“Do you have an ant problem here in your factory?”
Mom’s eyes got large. “Whatever are you babbling about?”
Morgan pointed an index finger at her. “A-ha! You do have one.”
“Did…past tense. They’re all gone.”
“Gone? Where did they go?”
“For Pete sake woman, they didn’t leave me a calling card when they left. How the frack should I know?”
Morgan spotted something on the desk that looked like a little boomerang-shaped airplane. She picked it up gently with her fingers and examined it. She closed its tiny cockpit door with her index finger.
“Put that down,” Mom barked, “that’s expensive.”
“This wouldn’t have anything to do with your ant friends, would it? Or are your test pilots getting really small nowadays…”
“I’ve had enough of this, Bureaucrat. You are quickly wearing out your welcome.”
Morgan responded with emphasis, pointing the tiny airplane at Mom as she spoke. “Listen, Missy…I can come back with an army of ISB agents, and we can audit everything in here. I am not one with which to be trifled with. All I want is one question answered.
Mom answered her honestly. "Morgan, I don't know."
As the air taxi made its way back up to New New York from Connecticut, Morgan felt the vehicle begin to shake. Flying terrified her, and trips in these taxis were a necessary evil in her job. She tapped on the plexiglass panel. "Is this rust-bucket going to make it?"
"Honestly lady...I don't know what the problem is. I'm having trouble with the fly-by-wire systems on board. I'm going to have to put her down."
"What? That's not a good thing at all..."
Before she could finish her sentence, the cab began to roll to the right and yaw like it was skidding sideways. Red lights on the driver's instrument panel began to light up, and alarm sirens began to wail. Again Morgan began to tap on the plexiglass as she could feel her motion sickness kick in.
"Can you get us to the West Side Highway?"
"Where?" The driver wrestled with his steering yoke.
"If we're lucky. If not, we'll end up in the Hudson." As he soared across the Hudson River, he gave out a warning to Morgan. "Hold on to your hat, lady!"
The cab slammed on to the street, and slid for what seemed like an eternity; the sound of screeching metal terrified Morgan as she bounced around the back of the cab. She kicked open the door and stepped out. She gazed over at the ancient red brick Planet Express building. She then gave the driver a large tip. "You've got good aim, mister."
He slapped the flag down on his fare box. "I'm officially out of service for the day."
Leela rolled her eyeball when she saw Morgan jogging up to the lobby door. "What do you want?" she asked. "You're not due here for another month."
"Leela - I need to talk with you and the Professor."
"Do you have any idea what is going on? I nearly got killed in a cab that malfunctioned."
The Professor stepped into view. "Morgan...what is this about?"
"You and I need to talk about...ants. Do you still have one of those speech devices for the ants?"
"Why yes...come this way."
After Morgan told the Professor everything, he seemed cross with her. "You took them out into the world. You're responsible for all of this."
Morgan looked down at her shoes. "But you created them. We all hang separately or together. But we'll still hang, nevertheless."
Leela had that angry line in her eyelid. "I'd gladly buy enough rope for both of you."
The three looked up at the TV news. The Professor pointed to the screen. "Rolling black-outs and brown-outs are everywhere," he told her. "All over the city, and everywhere else for that matter. What exactly is going on? Who's behind all of this?"
"I can tell you who." Morgan continued. "His name is Shass, and he's a particularly feisty harvester ant. He's got a flair for the dramatic, and he stirred the rest of them up. He pictures himself a revolutionary, like a teeny-tiny Che Guevara. I never could control him."
Amy interrupted. "If what you're saying is true, then this leader is sending these ants all over the place to take over the world's computer systems. How will we ever stop them now?"
Suddenly the conversation stopped as the TV screen went to snow. The snow was then replaced by a graphic picture of an ant. A chilling, mechanically-enhanced voice began to speak.
"This is the voice of world domination. For years mankind has crushed us and tired to destroy us as a race. Today you will see just how vulnerable you really are when we take over your computer systems that you depend on for your very existence. I am Shass, bringer of the new order in which man will now serve the ant as we build the world colony together. Work with the colony, and you will be permitted to live in this new world order. Work against us and die.
"Then we're boned," Bender said.
"Shh," said Amy, "this is where they make their demands for the New World Order."
"Firstly, production on all reality television programs must cease."
"What are we going to do?" asked Leela. "Fry will panic without those programs."
Morgan opened her purse. "I brought along a friend that may be able to help us."
Bender looked around. "Where? I didn't see anyone come in here with you."
Morgan opened the matchbox and put it on the table. "This is my friend Kr-kr, the bureaucrat ant."
The Professor put his tiny communication device on the table for the ant to use.
"Greetings...I am Kr-kr, of the former Republic of Kitchen."
"How can you help us?" asked Leela.
"Ah, the one-eyed giant; the one with the big boots."
Bender laughed. "Hah - he knows you; your secret's out."
The ant continued. "Shass is going to need to enlist many of our race to help him carry out his plan. To do this, he is going to need to build a large colony near an insectary of some kind."
"Insectary," the Professor noted. "Mom has an insectary down near Vineland in southern New Jersey. It's another Momsanto factory where she's replaced all the human workers with robots and machines; the ants would find it easy to sneak in and set up an operation there."
"That's all I need to hear," said Leela. She called out into the hallway. "Red-on-the-Head...prep the ship for a quick egress. On the bounce. Chop-chop."
"Where are we going?" asked Fry.
"Yep. Let's get cracking."
Morgan looked worried. "Won't your ship be affected by the ants in its computer systems?"
"Hah...that thing? You're lucky it doesn't need to be hand-cranked to start."
The Professor got their attention. "Wait up...you're going to need some extra tools. Open your hand, Morgan."
He used tweezers to gently place a miniature micro-droid in the palm of Morgan's hand. The tiny robot resembled her down to the badge that she always wore. She smiled. "I remember this cute little thing. But what's that back pack she has on?"
"An atomic bomb."
"It's a tiny plutonium bomb with a yield of barely a thousandth of a kiloton. The kill zone will only be about 3 meters in diameter. But it's enough to take out the main colony. Just get it where it needs to go, set it off, and adios Muchachos. And make sure you're not next to it when it goes off, or you'll be roasted like a Thanksgiving turkey. And I want each one of you to take these sunglasses to protect you from the flash." Farnsworth made an explosion noise and gestured with his hands.
Leela got that annoyed curve in her brow. "Why on Earth did you make a nuke that small?"
"You can thank the Bureaucracy," Farnsworth said with sarcasm. "They put a limit on the doomsday devices that I build. I recently made a tiny neutron bomb to kill water bugs in the basement - I just like to see them go off. I launch them on little missiles."
Bender scratched his metal head. "Oh...is that why the basement is so radioactive..."
Morgan looked worried. "But how will I know where to take it?"
"You have a guide," said the ant through its speaker. "Me."
"Oh, Kr-kr...but it's a suicide mission."
"Morgan, I do not have long to live; maybe only hours at best. But if I can put an end to this madness and help my friends, it will all be worth it. You are now my colony, and everything I do is supposed to be for the good of the colony."
Leela stooped down to examine the ant. "Morgan, you've got a friend indeed there."
The Professor came out with a case. "Don't forget your virtual reality gear, Morgan."
It was afternoon when the Planet Express ship approached the south end of New Jersey. Leela began her descent. “Amy, dig me up a landing speed.”
A beep for an incoming message surprised them. Mom’s face appeared on the screen.
“I heard you guys are heading out to the insectary…”
“Yes,” Morgan answered, “we think you might have an ant problem there.”
Mom held up a remote control. “Oh yeah? It might help to have the keys to the kingdom.” She pressed a button. “Now the robot sentries won’t bother you.”
“Thanks for that…”
“And for frack’s sake – try not to damage anything. It's all very expensive.”
Leela pointed an angry eyeball at the screen. “Seriously?”
Amy looked over at her astrogation panel.”We’re getting close…”
Fry peered out the window. “Yeah – maybe it’s were that smokestack is.”
Leela looked out. “That’s not a smokestack.” Her eye got large. “My God – is that what I think it is? The ants must have built it.”
Amy jumped back in. “Bleed off your speed a bit, Big Sister…you don’t want to overshoot it.”
As the ancient green ship touched down, a dark carpet of ants came close to investigate. The gangway lowered, and her crew came down.
Morgan breathed a shocked reaction. “Jesus, Joseph and Mary…I’ve never seen so many ants in my life.”
Leela looked out at the sea of ants. “I guess we’ve rated a welcoming committee.” She then looked across the field at the massive structure that the ants had built that towered nearly 40 feet into the sky. “And they’ve been busy little creatures.”
Only steps from the ship, they heard a loudspeaker bark at them.
“Halt – do not come any closer.”
Deep inside the ant colony an excited Tuki ran up to his master, waving his antennae. [I believe we know who they are.]
[I already know who they are, little Tuki. They are the humans from Planet Express. And my old imperialist boss Miss Morgan. The question is, why have they come?]
[Should we attack them, master?]
[No. We’ll leave the armies in place. They aren’t going anywhere, and they certainly won't attack the tower]. Shass turned to the young ant. [I really like the loudspeakers; it kind of adds something…sort of a grandeur. Watch me put some bluster in my voice and really scare the hell out of them].
“State your business, humans.”
Morgan stepped forward. “I am Morgan Proctor of the Bureaucracy. I am here to negotiate a surrender. I would speak with Shass.”
"You are speaking to him."
"I mean face-to-face...I have my micro-droid with me."
"Oh...that makes it more official for you then? You humans still puzzle me."
"It is protocol; I know this is important to me as a bureaucrat, and it should be for you as a leader. This just makes it all official when you assume the mantle of office. I'm guessing that there will be some sort of ceremony - I can be part of it."
Bender poked Amy in the shoulder. "She's good with the bull crap."
"That's why she makes the big bucks, Tin Man. If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, then baffle 'em with the bull."
Tuki nervously waved his antennae. [I don’t trust these people – this situation doesn’t smell right, master. This could be a trap. I know you want this...].
[Little Tuki…do you not think I have the situation well in hand? This human eats, lives and breathes paperwork; she wouldn’t even eat a lunch without a proposal on how to effectively taste the food. She probably wants to scold me for leaving her prestigious organization. I would have her come in to receive our terms for surrender. But a wrong move from her friends will mean certain death for all of them]. He then went back to the loudspeaker. "You may bring the micro-droid close to the colony, but then you will return to your ship. I, Shass, have spoken."
After walking across the field, Leela gently placed the tiny micro-droid on the ground. Morgan, who stayed back at the ship, put on her virtual reality goggles, gloves and shoes. She moved her arms around to test the reactions of the miniature robot. It always took a couple of seconds to get used to the visual sensations, and vertigo was a possibility with some people. Morgan, being sensitive to motion sickness, had to be careful of this.
Amy let little Kr-kr out of his matchbox onto the dirt. “You’re on, little guy - good luck.”
The ant walked up to Morgan’s micro-droid, and it patted him on the head like a faithful horse. “Let’s go riding…for one last time, old friend.” The droid climbed on the ant’s back, and they went riding off. Several army ants were there to escort them. The girls then quickly went back to the ship. The massive group of ants cleared the way so they could walk.
Bender grumbled at them when they returned. “I still say I could do a 50 yard dash in a circle and grease a bunch of ‘em.”
Leela grabbed him by the antenna. “You make one false move, Tin Man, and we all will get killed. Just be quiet and don’t do anything. They’re watching everything we say and do. If you're going to talk, find a way to do it discreetly. Got it?”
"Got it, Big Boots."
As the Morgan-bot and Kr-kr got closer to the colony structure, they were truly in awe; it was big by human standards, but it was like a skyscraper to them. It stretched like the Tower of Babel into the sky. Soldier ants on either side stood guard to make sure they didn't make any unwanted moves. The journey was long, and Kr-kr was already beginning to get weary.
[Miss Morgan...I just don't know if I'm up to this...but I don't want to disappoint you].
[Kr-kr...you remember the Bureaucrat's Code. What's the final law?]
[I know, I know. The job isn't over until the paperwork is finished. You're right - first and foremost, I'm a bureaucrat].
Again, the Morgan-bot patted the ant on the head between his antennae. [You'll do just fine, my friend].
The journey took them into the tower structure itself; it began to get dark as they started to go underground. Even though Morgan herself had nothing to fear inside the colony, her mission could be derailed in a hurry with a wrong move or word.
The Planet Express crew spoke to each other in sort of a code, as they were surrounded by millions of ants trained to kill them on a command. The ants were sticklers for direct communication, and mindless bantering was beyond them; the humans could speak, as long as they didn't say the wrong words.
Fry spoke as he shuffled playing cards with Bender. "So how long until we kill...some time?"
Leela answered. "Not before the fat lady sings...you know that." She then looked down at the cards that Bender was dealing. "Oh, for God's sake - you're cheating the ants?"
"Hey...I'm not cheating."
Leela reached down a plucked a card out of his robotic hand. "And having two aces of spades isn't cheating?"
"Uh...it was a cheap deck. Bad quality control at the factory."
The ants suddenly carried up a second ace of hearts. Leela laughed. "Hah - they can cheat just like you can, metal brain. Serves you right."
"Huh...dirty rotten cheaters..."
Finally, the Morgan-bot and Kr-kr were led into a dark chamber deep within the ant colony. Shass was waiting for them. The bot climbed off of Kr-kr and faced the leader of the ants. She looked back at her friend with concern; the journey had taken everything out of him.
Shass spoke in ant talk. [Well, if it isn't my old employer, or at least a robot representation of her. And her lackey - he looks like he's already got three legs in the grave as it is].
Morgan's bot stepped forward. "I treated you decently; I used to make sure you guys got all the extra sugar from the coffee service you wanted." The bot looked around at the ants. "My co-workers were even worried that I might turn into a diabetic."
[You are an imperialist that used us ants for what you could get out of us. You bribed us with sugar...and shares in the company pension plan].
"Yes, and I also gave you a home when you were thrown out of the Planet Express building. It was you guys who came to me for help. You'd be living in the sewers if it weren't for me. And that was a good pension plan."
[Good point, Morgan. Speaking of Planet Express, I have a particular demand in your surrender package that I want met. The Master Scientist...this Farnsworth. I want him down here with his machine that boosted our IQ levels. I need him to use that machine on all of the world's ants...big and small, old and young. We will then become the true masters of Planet Earth].
"He won't be cheerful about coming here, but I can make that happen."
[I'm not concerned with his level of cheer; he is to be brought down here with his machinery. I, Shass, demand it].
The Morgan-bot began to open her back pack.
[What's that? What are you doing?]
"You want me to contact him, don't you? It's the only way I'm able to do this."
[Very well; continue. But no tricks, android].
The micro-droid discreetly pressed a button inside the pack and then spoke. "Professor...we're going to need you down here with your gadget..." She then reached over to give her ant companion one last pat on the head. "Kr-kr, the paperwork is almost done." With what little strength he had left, he made a motion with his antenna to acknowledge her.
Meanwhile, back at the ship, Morgan Proctor took off the virtual reality goggles and put on a pair of dark sunglasses. "Guys, it's going to be sundown soon. Let's put on those nifty shades and watch the bright sun."
The whole gang followed Morgan's instructions, and Bender pulled down a glass shade over his eyes. Leela even had a custom pair with only one dark lens made just for her. No sooner had they turned away from the tower when they were engulfed in a bright flash of light. What came next was a blast of sound like a box of dynamite going off. The whole group of them turned to see that the tower had vanished, replaced by a maple tree - sized mushroom cloud rising into the sky. Clouds of dust were everywhere. They could feel the heat given off by the miniature nuke.
Morgan grabbed her virtual reality gear. "That's our cue, guys - let's scram!"
The ants that were guarding the humans were thrown into confusion. Bender couldn't resist running around stomping the army ants; but he couldn't just step on them - he was singing and doing a tap dance number as he crushed them under his footcups. "You leave the Pennsylvania Station about a quarter to four, read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore."
Leela grabbed him by the arm. "Get on the ship, you stupid idiot!"
Morbo still looked grumpy as he read the news, but this was actually his cheerful look. "Windows were blown out all over southern New Jersey from the mysterious blast. In other news, it seems that the threat from the mighty ant colony has abated; all that is left to do now is sweep out the dead insect bodies from the various computer terminals after they are sprayed. It is this reporter's opinion that we were going to make it through this crisis all along."
Linda let out a laugh.
"You have something to add to Morbo's insightful commentary?"
She just looked at him. "You cried like a little girl the whole time."
"Did not...I just have allergies...and this is ragweed season."
"Ahem...this has been Morbo and Linda, for the news." As soon as the cameras were shut off, Morbo produced a paper. "This happens to be a doctor's note from my allergist..."
The Planet Express crew stood on the veranda of the dome of their headquarters in a small memorial service for Kr-kr. Preacherbot was called in to say a few words. "Even though Kr-kr was tiny in size, he surely had a soul as big as a whale. And I know that he is up there in ant heaven, even as we speak, on that big pile of sugar in the sky."
After it was over, Morgan thanked the Preacherbot.
"So," he told her discreetly, "this means that the church records won't be audited?"
"I never said that...you said that. Oh, whatever, I'll see if I can work with you."
Leela then spoke with her. "Morgan, we know that you and Kr-kr were close..."
"Oh, it was just an insect...that's all. Nothing more, nothing less."
"Right. We had something that we wanted to give to you. Amy?"
Amy walked up to her with a chubby black Doberman Pinscher puppy, and placed it into her hands. "A friend of ours was giving these guys away," she told her.
Morgan at first awkwardly struggled with the pup, which wanted to lick her face. "Oh, what is this? I get it...you're just trying to bribe the bureaucrat. You know that can have legal ramifications..."
Leela grinned. "We can take him back," she said facetiously.
"Don't you dare." She let the pup continue to lick her. "I think I can give Lucius here a home."
"Yes. My father used to name his dogs after prominent Roman citizens." She held the pup up in her hands. "I've got just the place for you in my condo." She then looked worriedly around at everyone. "Of course, it's important to give this dog a good home; it's not like were attached or anything...I'd hate to see it living out on the street."
"Of course not," Leela chuckled. "In a pig's eye. C'mon gang, we'd better give Miss Proctor some alone time."
Morgan continued to scratch the dog's head. "Come on, little guy; let's get you home."
Two days later, Leela found the Professor up in the lab with Bender; they were testing another animal in a plastic tub with another energy beam.
"Oh, no...what are you two eggheads testing now?"
"Observe my specimen, Leela."
"Ick - it's a garden centipede."
"What did you put on it...are those shoes?"
"Yes! Wingtip Oxfords. Now watch." Farnsworth blasted the poor creature with a bolt of energy. "Bender - switch on the music."
Bender hit a switch, and "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" began to play.
Leela looked at the creature, which just sat there. "Uh...is something supposed to happen?
"Waaa? Yes - he was supposed to be tap dancing! Oh, nuts. Bender, I told you those shoes were too binding. Didn't you get them sized right?"
"Yeah...0.02 - just like you told me. Centipedes are hard to fit anyway."
"Aw, fiddle-fluff. This eyephone video was supposed to go viral in seconds. Darn it."
Leela shook her head. "You two are idiots, you know that? When are you going to stop wasting so much time on these ridiculous experiments?"
Farnsworth sighed and slumped his shoulders. "Oh well, we'll try with Parliament's Aqua Boogie tomorrow. Maybe you're right, Leela - I guess I'm just wasting my time with these trinkets."
As the three left the room, they shut off the light. The centipede cleared its throat and began to sing in a high-pitched, chirpy voice. No one saw it. It even tapped one of its toes before singing. "Pardon me boys, is this the Chattanooga Choo Choo? Track twenty-nine, boy, can you give me a shine..."
Leela popped back in the room and looked around. She shook her head. "I must be losing my mind," she told herself, "I could swear I heard singing in here." As she shut the door, the centipede began to sing again. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine..."
Morgan was back at work, and took a rare moment to peek out the tiny window near her desk. When she glanced down at the sill, she spotted a small ant that slightly resembled Kr-kr.
I wonder if this is one of the intelligent ones? she thought.
She used her fingers to talk in ant talk [Are you one of the colony that was here?]
The ant looked up [Me no understand. Me hungry...need sugar].
Morgan sighed. "One of the dumb ones," she told herself. She shrugged her shoulders and placed a sugar cube on the sill; the ant climbed on it and began to eat. She spoke more in ant talk. [Just don't tell the boss - it's our little secret].