It was Friday night and Zapp was ready for love. Glass of champagne in hand, he strolled through the hallways of the Nimbus in his newest velour robe. As he neared the holo-shed, he took one more swig of bubbly before entering. He smiled before addressing the computer.
“Computer,” he said, “access Sexual Fantasy number Zulu 24.”
“Fantasy accessed, Admiral Brannigan. Please enter the holo-shed.”
As the door slid open, Zapp entered the deck and looked around in surprise. It was dark. And hot. In the distance bright orange magma flowed from a fresh volcano.
“Why, this doesn’t look like New Fiji.”
“I didn’t expect a human,” said a voice from behind him, “but you’ll have to do.”
Zapp turned to see a huge Omicronian woman standing there. Before he could run, the huge lizard-like hand grabbed him and hoisted him into the air. He was unceremoniously tossed on to the woman’s shoulder and carried off.
“Uh, Miss…honey…I think there’s been some mistake.”
She grabbed him and held him in front of her. “Oh, there’s no mistake.” She licked her lips, which made him shiver in horror. “You look good enough to eat…”
“Why thank you – I try to work out.”
“No, I mean it,” said the Omicronian. “You do look good enough to eat.”
“Miss – tell me that’s a term of endearment among your people…”
On the deck of the Nimbus, Kif was left to his own devices. “Another Saturday night,” he sighed, “and I’m here while the Chubby Bastard enjoys an erotic fantasy aboard the holo-shed. he's probably having the time of his life...enjoying romance and a little dinner...” A chime let him know that there was an incoming message. “Oh, I hope it’s Amy…”
He tapped a button on the commo panel and the image of an older woman appeared. He had no idea of who the woman was. “Servant boy,” the woman said, “is my son about? Fetch him straight away – I need to talk with him.”
“Servant boy?” Kif asked in confusion.
“You – you’re the servant boy. Go and fetch him.”
He squinted his eyes. “Oh, I see…that’s who you are. He’s in the holo-shed…I’ll go and get him.”
Zapp yelled out, partially from the simulated pain he was feeling, and partially from the very real terror he was experiencing. The Omicronian woman was now turning him on a spit over an open flame. She poured gravy on him, and licked her lips. “I guess it won’t be a total loss,” she said, “I get a good meal out of the evening.”
“Help! For the love of all that’s decent…help! Somebody help me!”
Kif’s jaw dropped when he reached Brannigan. “Computer – end simulation!”
Zapp fell to the floor of the holo-shed as the spit, the flames and the Omicronian woman disappeared. He looked around him to see a dark room with white vertical and horizontal stripes on its walls. He then looked up to see Kif staring at him in disgust. “Thank goodness you saved me, Kif – the computer went crazy!”
“Honestly, sir – if you want to live out your kinky fetish fantasies, you can do so on your own time.”
“But it tried to kill me!”
He put his hands on his hips. “Which fantasy did you request?”
“Why, Zulu 24…”
“That was programmed by that Omicronian crewmember we used to have on board; Zulu 22 is the quadruple-breasted woman with 6 arms that calls herself Honeysuckle on New Fiji.”
Zapp got up and looked at his tattered robes. “Oh…”
“Follow me, sir – you’re mother is on the phone.”
“My mother? Why would she call me out here?” He suddenly slapped his forehead as he left the holo-shed. “Oh my God – it’s Thanksgiving! By the way, how did you know it was mother?”
He sighed. “She already called me ‘servant boy’.”
Zapp chuckled. “Yep, that’s my mother alright.”
The two entered the bridge, and they faced the viewscreen.
As the woman finished off a glass of champagne, she addressed her son. "Oh, there you are - I can see that the servant boy was able to find you."
"Mother - how good to see you. I can see that you all are having a nice holiday..."
"What were you going to say...'without me?' You were supposed to be here...or did you just forget."
"Why, I got busy Mother...those Space Buddhists were putting up quite a fight out here."
She got an annoyed look. "You blew up their homeworld over six months ago; don't you think I watch the Intergalactic News Network? How much of a fight do you think they could have put up anyway? They're pacifists! They don't even have weapons!"
"Yes, but they can write a mean computer virus. It was quite a battle - the computers were smashed...give us a chance."
"You will have one more chance to make things right here at the Brannigan Compound; you may now speak with my attorney Coruthersby. You have until the X-mas dinner to make things right - or else."
The ancient blue alien who was the family attorney began to speak in a distinctive West London accent. "Good evening, young Zapp."
"Uh, it's morning here on the ship." Kif elbowed him for that.
"Whatever, it makes no difference at this point. Young Zapp, do you remember the reading of your father's will?"
"I thought as much. You weren't present with your siblings at the reading of Da-da's will; as I remember it, you were cooped up in a tiny apartment on Dagabor 8 with a female slave with testicles - I think her name was Amethyst 132, if I'm not mistaken."
His eyes got large. "Uh, sir...don't you mean tentacles?"
The attorney groaned. "It's obvious you're not very familiar with Dagaborian anatomy - they have those too."
Zapp nervously cleared his throat. "You seem to have very good information, sir...besides you and I, how many other people know about this?"
"About 40 quadrillion all told; you did a television special with her for Morbo and Linda, calling it the ‘Bed-in for War.’"
"Now, I shall get right to the point. When your father passed away, he entitled you to a stipend of the family fortune; he did this knowing that your salary as a naval officer was, how shall I say it, miniscule."
"Yeah...Pops was always thinking of me like that."
"Young Zapp, this was conditional."
"Father was always very disappointed that you never displayed any moral fortitude, and that you wasted your younger days in pursuit of randy adventurism while your siblings flourished."
Again, Zapp smiled; then that joyous look disappeared. "You said there was a condition?"
"Your father's will clearly stipulates that you had a total of five years to straighten yourself out and become an upstanding member of the Brannigan household. At the end of such time, if you hadn't changed, your stipend was to be terminated. Young man, you now have until X-mas to demonstrate to your mum and I that you've become a respectable gentleman. Otherwise," he ran a finger across his throat and made a squeaking sound. The screen went black.
As the two stood there, Zapp punched Kif in the arm.
"Ow - what was that for?"
"Kif, why didn't you tell me those nasty Dagaborian women had those...things?"
"You idiot - you were in bed with one. They're bisexual...the males lay the eggs. You slept with one - how could you not know?"
"Well, it was dark...yuck!"
Fry came walking back up to the ship, tired and sweaty. "Leela," he moaned, "was all of this really necessary?"
"You know those poachers are coming back after the flying fur-bunnies, and I'm not about to let that happen."
"Why don't you just call up the DOOP on the radio? That's their job to go after poachers and stuff – they could round these guys up, and we could go home."
Leela defiantly crossed her arms. "I'm not calling him...er, them."
Bender came up from behind, singing an old country song:
"There's an old flame burnin' in your eyes
That tears can't drown and make-up can't disguise..."
Before he could light up his cigar, Leela smashed it into his face. "Hey - that came all the way from Mars, sister."
"Leela, that was a long time ago," Fry told her. "Zapp could really help your animals here. It's not like you owe him anything..." The eyeball swung around to meet his gaze. "Oh...that didn't come out right. You know what I mean..."
“I’m not calling that chauvinist jerk – I can protect these bunnies myself." She bent down to gently scratch one of the bunnies behind its wing. "Fry, grab a rifle.”
"Kif - what am I going to do? I'll be ruined!"
"Sir, you're still an officer for DOOP - you're not out on the streets."
"But Kif...I'll have to sell some my cars, and I'll have to get rid of a couple of my beach houses...I'll be reduced to living like..."
"Like what, sir?"
"Well, like you, Kif. I'm just not ready to lower my station like that. No offense..."
Kif sighed, and then noticed a message coming in. "Sir..."
Zapp covered his head with a pile of paperwork, as if it would conceal him. "If it's Mother, tell her I fell out of the ship."
Kif tapped the button, and the image of Leela appeared on the screen at his desk. She crunched her face. "Why are you hiding under the desk?"
"Uh...air raid drill; just practicing my duck and cover. Can I help you, Leela?"
"Yes...I'm here on Ferdinand 5, and I'm going to need you to help stop these poachers from killing the flying fur-bunnies here; at the rate they're going, there won't be any left."
"Flying fur-bunnies on Ferdinand 5."
He scratched his head. "That's a lot of 'F's' there, Leela. I'd like to help, but that's not our job."
"Yes it is, you turd. According to DOOP regulation 335, paragraph 8, the stopping of criminal poaching falls within your jurisdiction."
"We're having engine problems..."
"Well, send another ship."
"They're still mopping up that last battle with the Buddhist Planet."
"I knew you'd welch on me, you brat." The screen suddenly went black.
Kif struck him on the back of the head with his gloved hand.
"Ow...what was that for?"
"You idiot - that might have just been the answer to your problem! She is right - you're nothing but a turd. An upper-class, wealthy turd..who's soon to be a lot less wealthy, and merely just a turd."
Zapp suddenly looked up with a smile on his face. "Kif - I think I've got an answer to this pickle. Follow me."
In the darkness, Leela walked down the gangway swearing under her breath in the night air.
"He said no?" asked Fry.
Leela put a power pack into the bottom of her laser rifle, and tapped up on it. "That's right; we’ll do this ourselves."
Bender prepared to light up another cigar. "Why don't you leverage him...with sex or something." He suddenly found himself looking down the barrel of a laser rifle. "Hey! That makes for a hostile workplace!"
She pulled his second cigar out of his mouth and smashed it in her hand. "That lit cigar can be seen for over a mile, Tin Man. Go back into the ship."
"Aw, man...you owe me a box of stogies."
"You've got a woman stashed away in a box?" groaned Kif.
"Even better," replied Zapp. He used a crowbar to pry open the wooden box, which was marked 'Mom's Friendly Robots.' Inside was a blonde female android dressed in a mini-skirt and go-go boots. She sported a warm and friendly smile, and could easily pass for a human.
Kif groaned. "This is even below your level." He was then surprised at her face. "My God - it actually looks human..."
Zapp opened a door on her tummy and inserted a small nuclear battery. Her eyes opened in a creepy way, like a child's doll. She stepped out of the box, and looked around.
"Say hello to Miss Candy Caine," Zapp said with pride. “She’s one of the California Dreamin’ line of female androids - and the answer to all of my problems.”
Kif let out a particularly loud moan. "Tell me that's not her name." He peeked in at the box at the instruction booklet. "Oh, good grief - that is her name."
The android opened her mouth. "Hola, Senor Brannigan."
"It speaks Spanish?"
"Hold up, Kif old boy - not to worry. I speak Spanish like a native."
"A native what? This I've got to see."
"It's a romance language, and I do speak romance." Zapp cleared his throat. "Hola, Senorita Caine. Tengo blanca hormigas en mi altillo...grande hormigas..." He gestured with his hands.
The android shot back a confused look. She turned to Kif. “No entiendo...”
"Si claro," Kif told her laughing.
"What? I thought I enunciated clearly, Kif."
"Very sexy, sir - you just told her that you have big white ants in your attic."
"Wait - I bet there's a switch in the back." Zapp opened up the little panel between her shoulders and found a multi-position knob. He turned it one notch over.
The android then smiled and bowed. "Konbanwa...genki desu ka?"
"Try it again," Kif advised.
"Guten abend...ich heisse Candy Caine..."
"Mmmm...Swedish. We're at least in Europe. Try turning the knob the other way," Kif told him.
"’Ello lov...fancy a bevvy?"
"She's speaking Scouse - now we're working our way through the British Isles. Turn the knob one more time and we should be in London."
The android then began speaking in Klingon.
"Turn it back the other way," Kif said.
Zapp awoke on his couch in the officer's wardroom. Candy Caine was standing there in front of him. "Why, good morning, sweetness. Kif - this is just like having a wife, only without all the unpleasant bits and in-laws. Mother will never know the difference."
Candy just smiled. "I have an incoming message...would you like me to open it? It's from the Raja of the Space Buddhists..."
"Why, sure darling...go right ahead. I'm on friendly terms with the Raja - he's probably just sending me a birthday card."
"The Raja sends his greetings," Candy continued, "you have just won a considerable amount of money...and a Trojan Horse. Merry X-mas from the Space Buddhists."
"Why, I have no use for a horse on the ship, but I appreciate the offer. I can stable it back home - I understand that the Trojans breed fine horses."
Kif stood behind her flailing his arms. "No! Don't! We haven't installed the Morton Anti-virus package yet! Candy - shut down the message...shut down the message!"
Candy's expression went blank and smoke began to pour out of her ears. Her right eye began to flutter its lid.
"Kif...what just happened? Get her talking again. Those savages..."
Candy got a sad pouty look on her face. "I've got ice cube trays in my hovercraft," she sadly told them. She then went silent.
Kif waved his hand in front of the android's eyes. "Sir, I think she just blue-screened."
"Zapp, you need to contact Leela back - there's still time. She's the only one who can get you out of this mess, and you know it." Kif opened up the panel on her back, and smoke rolled out like a burning toaster oven. "You at least bought the extended warranty, didn't you?"
Leela was asleep in her command chair when the message came through. Her sleepy eye opened up to see the face of Zapp Brannigan. "Oh, nuts...am I having nightmares with you now?"
"Leela...I bring good tidings."
"What? Why should I even talk to you?"
"Leela - I'm sending a patrol ship to help you save those winged wombats of yours."
"They're flying fur-bunnies. And what is this all about? I'm not going to bed with you..."
"Oh, that's not what I'm after. Although I will need your help on a project."
"You're trying to bed me again, you sleaze-ball - I knew it."
"No, it's not like that at all. All I want to do is invite you home to meet Mother at the Brannigan Compound at X-mas. I, uh, can't go there alone this year. We'll have dinner, cocktails...you can bring your friends…"
Leela looked at him incredulously. "You're mother? You mean you weren't raised by wolves in the woods or hatched out of an egg?" Her face then got an angry look. "So you're extorting me."
"I'm not, Leela." Kif's fist suddenly punched his arm. "I'm asking you." The fist punched him again, harder. "Please?"
"Why should I trust you?" She then looked over at one of the fur-bunnies, happily munching on some lettuce from the food unit and shaking its wings. "I'll do you this one favor, for the bunnies. And no funny stuff."
"Agreed. Now - where what was that planet again? Egbert 8? Sven 7?"
"Ferdinand 5, you nit-wit." The screen went blank.
"Kif, old boy, I'm saved!"
The green alien gave him a stern look, like a schoolmaster would give a pupil. "You're ordeal is just beginning - we've got to somehow turn you into a respectable gentleman by X-mas. You're still a turd - and I know just who can polish you."
"Who would that be?"
"Me. Be back here at 1100 hours…that’s a solid 1100, not a flexible one. If you are here at 1101, you are wrong."
Several hours later Zapp came up to the wardroom dressed in his sweat suit. "Oh, there you are - I understand you wanted to begin my training."
"Shut the door behind you," said Kif, who now sported a drill sergeant cap and whistle.
"I am your instructor. I am firm, but I am fair. You will not laugh, you will not cry; you will learn by the numbers – I will teach you. Here is your first lesson – watch, and learn.”
Kif stood there with the dead android, which was placed standing up on a small cart with wheels. Kif pulled the android toward the door with a rope attached to the cart. "Okay, Zapp...she's getting near the door - what are you going to do?"
"Uh, speak with her. Excuse me, miss - here's my number in case you want to contact me later."
"She's getting closer to the door. What are you going to do? She's getting closer..."
"Uh, scribble my number down for her."
Kif reached over with a wooden yard stick and smacked Zapp on the arm.
"Ow! What was that for?"
"You open the door for her, dummy! You're supposed to be a gentleman."
Zapp rubbed his smarting arm. "I'm supposed to open a door for her?"
"Were you even raised in a house? Leela was right - you must have been raised by wolves! Step back over there and we'll try this again. And this time, let's not try to pick her up before she reaches the door."
After taking a brief break, Zapp returned to the wardroom. He found, to his surprise, the table set up for a meal. Again, the dead android Candy Caine was there. “What’s all this about?”
“You’ve taken a young lady out for a nice dinner,” he told Zapp. “What’s the first thing you do?”
“Uh, think about ways to get out of paying the bill?”
“Wrong. Try pulling the chair for her.”
“I have to do that too?”
“Come on – you’re an officer.”
Zapp complied and placed the android into her chair. “What’s next?”
“Duh…how about some conversation?”
Zapp addressed the android. “Did I ever tell you about the worm they took out of my lower intestine?”
Kif slammed the yardstick down on the table.
“You imbecile! She does not want to hear about your grotesque medical history, nor do I. Make…pleasant…conversation! And I don’t mean trying to get her into the sack in the next ten minutes. Begin again!”
Zapp then noticed the food on the table. “Hey! Horsey-dervies.” As he shoveled them into his mouth, he looked up and saw the expression on Kif’s face. With a full mouth, he mumbled: “I’m not supposed to do this?”
“Zapp, you are absolutely pathetic. There’s nothing I can do with you. There isn’t a shred of navy officer in your whole body. You’ll die in a crack house somewhere on Venus with some weird octopus woman wrapped around you.” With that he walked out of the wardroom.
As Kif walked down the hallway, he heard the wailing of his superior officer. “Wait!” he shouted. “I’ll try…but it’s just so hard!”
Kif turned around. “Why should I bother to help you?”
Zapp earnestly cried like a sad child. “Because I’ve got nowhere else to go!”
Kif let out a sigh like none he’d ever let out before. He never had the heart to just cut someone in need off, no matter how pathetic they might be. He pointed toward the wardroom.
“Okay,” he told Zapp, “let’s head back to the restaurant and we’ll try it from the top.”
After several days, the DOOP finally sent in a small frigate to help Leela on Ferdinand 5. Two of the poachers were quickly rounded up and taken into custody. Leela walked up to the soldiers holding them.
“Let me gloat at these guys before you haul them off. You two should be ashamed of yourselves, killing helpless flying fur-bunnies like that.”
The skinnier of the two men stared at Leela. “Hey Bernie…what do you think of this Cyclops here? How much do you think I could get for the head mounted on a wall?”
“Uh, I dunno. Probly about 200 Nixon Funbucks I guess.”
Leela’s eye got that angry curve again. “I don't come cheap - surely I'm worth more than 200 funbucks..."
Leela chatted with Kif on the transport shuttle while Zapp regaled the pilot with a war story. After re-entry to Earth, the aged shuttle made its way up the Delaware River toward the Wilmington area. Fry, Bender and Amy enjoyed the snowy scenery out the window as the shuttle got closer to its destination.
“So that’s what this is all about,” Leela said. "You've been turd-polishing..."
“Oh, yes,” answered Kif, “if I were you, I would just enjoy the mansion and the food while he still has it. After this winter, he’ll probably be spending most of his time aboard the Nimbus, blubbering about what he had.”
The ancient craft settled down near the Brannigan mansion, blowing the light snow around as the foot pads touched the ground. As they stepped off of the vehicle, all of them were impressed with the massive stone house.
"Look at these digs," Bender said, "I betcha there's a lot of those French robot maids here..."
"Yes," Leela told him, "and I expect you to behave."
Amy looked at Kif with annoyance. “Why did you ask me to wear this old dress if you knew I was coming here? I could have worn something really expensive…”
“Believe me – you’ll find out soon enough.”
Zapp helped Leela with her coat. “Holy cow, Zapp…you really weren’t raised by wolves…”
“It’s humble, but it is home. We used to play touch football in the field over there.”
She suddenly looked at him. “You helped me with my coat – thank you.”
He was going to say something obnoxious, but he refrained - he noticed Kif watching his every move. “Not a problem, Leela. Come – it’s time to meet Mother.”
All of them were ushered into a large parlor by a robot butler, who very quickly brought them drinks. Soon Zapp Brannigan’s mother, Eudora, came in to meet her guests.
“Mother…I want you to meet my friend Leela and her servants.”
“Servants?” said Amy, who was quickly elbowed in the belly by Kif.
Zapp continued on. “This is Countess Turanga Leela, of the New New York Turangas. This is her cook, Zhang Ming, and her servant boy Fry. And she also owns the robot over there getting to know our cleaning droid.” Fry and Amy exchanged strange looks.
Eudora seemed genuinely interested in Leela. “Tell me of your family, my dear.”
Zapp quickly cut in. “Mother, her parents are heavily divested in…subterranean structures in the city – you could say that her family holds up most of New New York every day.”
“Oh my,” said Eudora, “so your parents must have mutants as servants then. Horrible creatures. They somehow managed to drive them out of Wilmington proper.”
At first Leela got an annoyed look, but her expression softened. “Oh, Mum and Daddy know a few of them, yes. Dreadful things…so gauche…”
Eudora then looked closely at Leela’s singular eye.
Zapp continued, in a quieter voice. “Mother, we try not to speak of the eye. Terrible accident as a child – a space shuttle crash. A wonderful surgeon from Neptune was able to give her one working eye.”
“Oh, my yes. You are so lucky, my child.”
Leela gave Zapp an angry look with a bitter smile. “And I don’t even have any scars...”
“Splendid,” Eudora said. “We’ll have a nice dinner tonight, and Zapp’s brother and sister will join us.” She then addressed Amy and Fry. “My dears, if you could help out in the kitchen, that would be great. The butler can then show you where the servant’s quarters are.”
As Eudora began to show them around the mansion, Amy quietly swore in Chinese under her breath.
“Why do I always end up being the servant boy?” asked Fry.
Dinner, as expected, was lavishly laid out on a massive table. Again came time for more introductions. Zapp introduced his siblings.
“This is my sister. Drusilla, one of the highest-paid trial lawyers on the East Coast, and her husband Jeremy. This is my brother Bertram, one of the most famous brain surgeons on Earth. And this quiet man at the end of the table is Coruthersby, our family attorney.”
Coruthersby sat in silence like a housecat, studying every move that Zapp made; he couldn’t hide his suspicion of Brannigan’s friends.
Bertram took an immediate interest in Leela’s brain. Her eye got wide as she realized that he was staring at her skull. “Can I help you?” she asked.
“Oh, excuse me – I’d give anything to see that parietal lobe…fascinating . I’d wager that it’s at least 3 millimeters larger than on the average brain.”
“Yes, but she’s not a patient to be examined, brother.”
“My dear, if you ever have a brain scan, I’d love to see it.”
Leela cheesed a toothy grin. “When I do, you’ll be the first one I give a copy to.” She then leaned over to Zapp, and whispered to him. “Why is Jeremy just sitting there with his computer?”
“Jeremy? We don’t talk about him too much. He writes fanfiction, whatever that is. He’s a big fan of some cartoon on TV about a group of space traveling delivery people. It’s embarrassing to the family that he's never made much of himself.”
Eudora then spoke up. “Bertram, tell us what you’ve done lately.”
“I recently did a partial lobotomy to the Prince of Macronesia…just a bit of repair work here and there. We actually infused some nerves from a chimpanzee brain into him.”
“Well, how did the procedure go?”
“Not bad, except he now has a tendency to throw his feces and run up a tree shrieking at the first sign of trouble.” Bertram began to laugh out loud at his own joke, and then stopped. “You’ll have to excuse me – just a bit of humor from our profession.”
"That joke was highly amusing," Zapp's sister said, "as it always is every X-mas."
Leela rolled her eyeball; she knew this was going to be a long meal. She then raised her glass in a toast. “To X-mas Eve tomorrow.”
Everyone else joined in. “To X-mas Eve.”
Amy and Fry came out with the meal, helping the kitchen staff in any way they could.
Drusilla spoke up. “Miss Turanga…you never told us where you were educated…”
This prompted a worried look from Leela.
“Why, she was educated at Mars University,” Amy told her in a false Chinese accent. “M’lady has spoken of it often, entertaining us with her stories of campus life.”
“Really? Who was the dean of your school…I forget.”
Again Amy answered. “I think she told us that H. Collins Griffith was still Magistrate then…right, m’lady?”
“Oh, yes…of course. You’ll have to excuse my cook – I allow her to speak out of turn at times.”
Now Zapp entered the conversation again. “Drusilla, this isn’t an interrogation. I’m sure the Countess is tired after her long space flight. You should excuse us.”
As Zapp and his friends prepared to retire to their apartments, Coruthersby grabbed his arm in the hallway.
He spoke in a low tone, but with vigor. “If this is some sort of sophomore prank, I’m going to find out about it. And I’ll tell your mother straight away. I still have my suspicions about you, and this gaggle of friends you've brought by.”
“Please…are we through here? Do you mind?”
“You’d better have your details down to the gnat’s ass on this one – I’ll find out if not.” With that Coruthersby released his arm.
Leela spotted Amy in the hall. “Hey Baby Sister – I owe you one. I thought I was dead out there.”
Smiling back, Amy answered. “I know you do. Big time.”
Back at the dining table, Eudora caught her son drinking a little too much champagne. “Will you go easy on that, Bertram? One lush in the family is already enough.”
“Oh, sorry Mother. I’m just so excited about that new visitor.”
“I meant to speak to you about that. You really should have more manners about that brain fetish of yours – you nearly did surgery on the Vicar last year right here at the table.”
“She’s just amazing – I’ve never seen a mutant with a bigger occipital lobe.”
“Excuse me…did you just say mutant?”
“Oh, my yes – a fascinating specimen at that. If she should pass away anytime soon, I’d really like to be there when they cut her open…”
“But she had that surgery Zapp talked about…”
“Mother, she’s a born mutant.” He downed another glass of bubbly. “Skulls, brains and eye lobes, these I know. That skull was designed to carry that eye - I'd give anything to have it sitting on my desk at work. Fascinating specimen.”
She shot him an angry look. “Will you lay off the bubbly? You’ve had enough.”
Back in the guest apartment, Zapp had a nice fire going in the fireplace. Leela watched the snow come down outside, and then turned her attention to Zapp.
“So tell me something,” she said, “I’ve been here all evening, and you haven’t even attempted to maul me. You’re really different for some reason.”
Zapp popped open a bottle of champagne and filled two glasses. “Oh, I don’t know. Something about this time of year just gets me down. Old memories, I guess.” He looked at Leela, who rarely had her hair down; she was dressed in an expensive robe and pajamas. He was still fascinated by the face, which glowed in the firelight. In spite of being different from all the rest, she was still a damned pretty woman. “You don’t want to hear me run my gums like this…”
Leela sat up, interested. “Zapp Brannigan, I’ve never heard a word about your childhood. As a matter of fact, I’ve never seen you be serious for one second that I’ve known you. Tell me something, anything about your past. Like this painting up here on the wall, for example.”
“That? That was my father, Callum Brannigan. In polite terms, we call him a ‘privateer’ or a ‘trader.’ In reality, he was one of the most lucrative space pirates in history.”
Leela studied the bearded face - the resemblance was amazing, save for the thick beard.
“I really never saw much of my father. I was raised mainly by my mother, and by my governess.”
Leela chuckled. “You’re pulling my leg. You actually had a governess? You did not…”
“Oh, yes. A Native Martian woman named Eximora. She was really one of the only people that I ever cared for…or cared for me, for that matter. She knew how to keep me in line.”
“You’re not making this up…”
“No, sadly not.”
“I’ve never seen you this serious. Tell me what happened to her.”
“Well, the Bureaucracy found out that she was not only an alien, but an illegal one at that. She was deported back to Mars, and my mother didn’t do a thing to try and stop it. I was very bitter about this. I eventually went into the military, much against Mother's wishes. I went off to war against a race of insect warriors. Mud Daubers. Wasp warriors. I kept killing and killing them. I dropped a freeze bomb into their nest. My mother was mortified because I was supposed to become an economist - I guess I did it mostly to get back at her. From then on I basically did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to do it. I never really looked back.”
Leela was gobsmacked. “An economist? I somehow can’t picture you as an economist. You at least have some skill as a military man.”
He finished his glass and set it down. “Oh well, I’ve blathered enough for one night. I’ll be over in the other room quaffing a nightcap and re-reading Asimov's 'Foundation'.”
“Boy, you really have changed – you haven’t done one brutish thing all day.”
“I fear that Kif may be right – I’m just a turd that needs a lot of polishing. Hopefully he's done a good job at shining me up.”
Leela reached over and squeezed his hand. “Good night…sleep well.”
He turned to her. "My God," he told her, "I've actually talked at a woman...really just talked at one."
The next morning found Amy tinkering around in the kitchen. Eudora decided to snoop around and find out what was going on in there as well.
“Good morning, my dear.”
“Good morning, Mrs. Brannigan. I'll get breakfast going soon,” she said in her fake Chinese brogue.
“Are you still going to cook Martian barbeque for lunch?”
“Oh, yes – I'll get that done chop chop.”
“We used to go to some of those barbeques on Mars. A business associate named Leo Wong used to invite us over.”
Amy’s eyes got large. “Really?”
“Why yes – I can still remember his daughter who used to play with her golf clubs. Cute chunky little thing – Amy, I think her name was. I can still see her in her little hoodie.”
Amy looked up from the eggs she was cooking. “I guess you’ve figured out that I’m not Zhang Ming, the under-educated Chinese cook then.”
“I’ll be quite honest, my dear. Your father opened up a lot of business opportunities for us at those cookouts. We owe him a lot.”
“Mrs. Brannigan, I…”
Eudora held her finger up to her lips. “I’m not mad at you, young Amy. My son, on the other hand, is going to get his rear-end paddled when I get to the bottom of what's going on; I have a feeling he's got a lot of explaining to do.” Amy looked back down at her eggs as Eudora left the room.
Leela opened her door to find Zapp standing there. “Good morning. What’s this all about?”
“After breakfast,” he told her, “Mother wants to see us in the study. I have a feeling it isn’t good.”
Leela and Zapp ate a quick breakfast and then went to the study. Everyone was there, including Coruthersby, who looked like a cat ready to pounce on a canary.
Eudora went around and studied the lot of them. “Let’s see what we have here,” she told them in an aristocratic tone. “I’ll start with the robot, who I discovered spent the night with my housekeeping droid."
"Hey," he said, "we're in love."
"I found you two in the laundry chute - you could have been more discreet. We then have the young Chinese cook, who actually has a PhD and wealthy parents. We have a servant boy, and then there is the countess – I'll get to you in a minute.”
Fry popped his hand up and twiddled his fingers. "Uh, ma'am, if it helps any, I'm pretty much a servant boy in real life anyway."
"Shut up, Fry," Leela said as she turned to Eudora.“No, ma’am, I'm not a countess. But let me explain…”
“And there never was any horrible accident; you were born that way, weren’t you?”
Leela got a stern look on her face. “Yes I was born this way. And I’m damned proud of it, if you don’t mind me saying so. I am a mutant.”
"I knew it," Bertram said, "I knew it! Large occipital lobe...over-extended fornix...Score!"
“Be quiet, Bertram. There’s no need to explain any further. The lot of you can enjoy the X-mas dinner, but then I want you on the first shuttle out. Right now I want to see my son in private.”
“Mrs. Brannigan,” Leela said, “we were just trying to help a friend.”
Eudora opened her mouth to speak, and a loud explosion shook the house. They could hear the walls shudder, and glassware fall to the floor. She closed her mouth and looked around. “What in God’s name was that? I've never heard a sound like that...”
“I have,” said Leela. She led the group of them in the direction of the explosion.
It didn’t take long to find out where the explosion originated from, as they soon found debris in one of the hallways. Leela walked into a huge drawing room and found a large hole in the center of the floor. Coruthersby stood next to her and started to light up a cigarette; Leela slapped the cigarette out of his hand.
“Don’t light that up, you idiot; you don’t know who’s down there.”
"Who?" asked Coruthersby.
Leela peered down the hole, and quickly spotted a path down into it; the debris nearly made a perfect staircase to the level below. “Fry – fetch me a light stick. Quickly.”
“You surely aren’t going down there?” asked Eudora.
“I am – and you are too. It's time you learned about who's living under your house.”
The lot of them carefully when down into the hole, which led into a level below. They all turned when they heard a sharp noise echo through the chamber. Leela then heard three dull thumps, and she responded with four dull thumps to her left shoulder with her right fist.
“What the devil was that all about?” asked Coruthersby. "It's dark as pitch down here."
“Keep quiet,” Leela told him. "Nothing you've learned above ground will help you down here, so keep your trap shut. Fry, pop the light stick - I know they're here."
Leela turned as a group of hideous mutants appeared in the glow of Fry’s light stick. A Chieftain among them emerged, holding a makeshift weapon. Leela addressed them.
“Nx-ththth’ legothala orlyentach’ a Leela a NooNooYorka,” Leela told him.
“She speaks the sacred tongue,” one of the mutants said.
The Chieftain then addressed her. “Greetings, Leela of New New York - I am Fri-daire, of the Kitchen Appliance Clan. I take my name from the sacred icon." He gestured to an ancient refrigerator with a well-worn nameplate. Leela read the name aloud in the glow of the light stick.
"Fri-daire," she said, as she rubbed it with her finger, "Frigidaire..."
"And these are my sons Sears and Roebuck. You are not of Wilmington. And you wear the clothing of an above-worlder...but yet you speak the sacred words...”
"I live among them," she told him, "as I have for years."
"And you conceal your identity?"
"Yes," she replied. "So you and your people are drilling here?"
"Yes - we've been driven out of Wilmington by the city officials - we had that nice place underneath the big appliance store. We're now using the borer here to clear out more living area for our people." He gestured to a truck-like vehicle with a large conical drill end on the front. "We just had an explosion - big pocket go boom."
"Good Gravy Leela," Bender said, you sure got high friends in low places."
Fry scratched his head. "I may be slow on the uptake, but why the explosion?"
"They must have hit a methane pocket while drilling," Amy said.
"We wanted the open area with the concrete walls to the west of town, but the evil priestess here and her minion forbade it."
"Open area?" asked Fry.
"He must be talking about the Underground Railroad," Zapp said, "it goes through here."
Fry scratched his head again. "Wait a minute - we studied about that in school..."
Amy shook her head. "Gah - not that railroad, dork. This was going to be a supersonic train line linking New New York with Washington. They only got some of the tunnels dug before Nixon ran out of money."
Leela looked at Eudora and said, "That must mean that Fri-daire and his people just want the old train station as a living space. Why not just give it to them?"
"Give it to them? That happens to be our property! I'm not just going to give it to them!"
"Amy - you're the PhD...enlighten Zapp's mother here on what's going to happen if she doesn't work with Fri-daire."
"Mrs. Brannigan - if these people keep drilling like this, they're bound to hit more methane pockets. What's worse, they might trigger a series of explosions, or just set off a massive one." She then spread her hands and imitated an explosion sound.
"You could be responsible for destroying the whole town before it's over," Leela continued. "Just give them what they want and be done with it."
Coruthersby raged. "How do you two know all this stuff?"
Leela approached him and focused her eye into his face. "I guess I just know all those things they don't teach you in countess school."
The tension was suddenly broken by a young excited child running up; the boy had three full working arms. "Come see what we did," he said, "it's almost X-mas!"
"They celebrate X-mas down here?" asked Fry.
Fri-daire took the boy aside. "You'll have to forgive little Westinghouse here - he means no harm."
Leela rubbed the boy on his head. "Why don't you show us what you did?" She then addressed Eudora. "Are you ready to learn something new?"
The entire group followed the happy child, including Eudora.
"Madam, as your attorney, I would advise against this..."
"Stuff it, Coruthersby. I'm following Leela. Maybe you could learn something as well."
As the group entered into a chamber, they gazed up at an amazing sight; the mutants had built an enormous X-mas tree out of machine parts and appliances. Pistons, piston rings, microwave ovens and various tools adorned the tree; electrical wiring snaked around the monstrosity as decoration. Various auto parts like head lights and mirrors decorated the massive structure. Old refrigerators made up the bulk of the middle. Lights made the whole thing a dazzling display, as the mutants had long learned to tap into the electric lines.
"Son of a gun," Bender chuckled as he walked up to the tree, "it's Amy's old wristwatch I stole and flushed down the toilet. Sorry Amy."
A tiny young girl with tentacles and a third eye came up to the tree with an old car hubcap. She looked up at Leela. "Watch me Miss - I get to put my ornament near the top of the tree." She quickly scrambled up the pile, and placed the hubcap in position. Leela smiled at the woman who was obviously her mother.
"She's so cute," Leela told her, "what's her name?"
"Amanda," the mother told her, "Amanda Radarange."
More mutants grabbed Bender to utilize his parts. "Hey, wait a minute - I'm not scrap metal yet, you chumps! Hey!"
Zapp turned to his mother. "Well Mom - how about it? You're not using it anyway."
Eudora turned in amazement to her son with her mouth hanging open. "That just takes the cake - I've never seen you do anything philanthropic in your whole life." She turned to Coruthersby. "I'm going to give Fri-daire here what he wants...I'm not using the station anyway."
"Madam, I highly advise against this..."
"Why? What do you have against these people? I'm not making a penny on this property as it is...if these people can use it, I say let them. Draw up some paperwork." She then turned back to her son. "You came here with your friends to pull a gaslight job on us; you may not have always been the perfect gentleman in the eyes of this family, but you certainly chose your friends well. And now, for the first time possibly in your life, you've put someone else ahead of you. I am continuing your stipend for at least the next five years...and we'll see then if you've made any more changes."
The entire crowd broke out into applause.
Eudora spoke again, this time to Amy. "After our X-mas meal, I want our leftovers made available to Fri-daire and his people."
"Yes ma'am - we'll get 'em down here chop-chop," she said with a smile.
Eudora then spoke to Leela again. "My dear, you might not be a countess, but you've got a lot going for you. While I have that hole fixed in my house, I'll make it an entrance into the station - it's time I got to know Fri-daire and his people."
"Thank you, Mrs. Brannigan. I think you'll find that you've made some new friends."
As the mutants broke out into an X-mas carol, Leela and her friends joined in the singing. The whole crowd then noticed that Bender's head had been put at the top of the tree. "Hey...a little help here! Somebody? Don't leave me here!"
Several days later, the Planet Express crew was back aboard the Nimbus.
"That had to be one of the most wonderful X-mas' ever," Zapp boasted. "I couldn't have eaten another Neptunian slug if I tried."
"It was pretty special," Leela agreed. "That was pretty nice what your family did for those mutants."
Kif came to get Brannigan. "Sir, your brother is on the line."
"Thanks - I'll take the call up here on the command bridge." Zapp's bearded brother appeared on the screen. "Bertram old chap, what can I do for you?"
"I just wanted to thank you for the pictures - I've just begun to study them." He then looked at Leela. "And thank you, my dear - fascinating specimen." The screen then went blank.
Leela shot Zapp an angry look. "What did you do? You didn't give him porno shots of me, did you?"
"No, not porno. I arranged with your Doctor Zoidberg to have some of your skull x-rays sent to his office. He'll actually get more excited over those than he would over porno."
Leela just shook her head. "It figures."
Just then a young technician came in. "Mr. Brannigan, your holo-shed is finished."
"Oh, for the love of Mike - you're not going back into that thing, are you?"
"Well, it is Friday night. Seeing as I'm still single, I've just got a little romantic thing planned."
"That's not too bad," Leela noted, "I bet you do get lonely."
The technician handed him a control key. "We've already got your 'Erotic Cyclops Pleasure Dome' fantasy programmed in for you, sir. And, while we were at it, we fixed your female android."
Zapp blushed. "Uh, thank you, Watson - that'll be all."
Kif sighed. "I'm not polishing him up again - someone else can do it."
Leela just shook her head. "This is just so Zapp Brannigan. But, you know, if you didn't head down there, you just wouldn't be you." She gave him a playful swipe on the chin with her fist. "Take care, Rear Admiral."
He returned with his trademark double-click sound and an eye-wink. "See you around Campus, Leela."
Fry then came up to Leela. "Hey, have you seen Bender? I've looked everywhere for him."
Meanwhile, three levels below them in a maintenance department, Bender sat with Candy Caine in a hot oil bath. He took a swig of beer, and addressed the android.
"Hey, baby - lay some more of that Klingon on me. What was that word for a long-range sensor again?"
"Chuq 'a' DaH."
"Yeah... Chuq 'a' DaH...there's just something so much more sexy in the way you say it. Hey, sweetie, how about showing me some of those famous Klingon mating moves I hear so much about..."
The android smiled as her elbow came crashing into Bender's head...