This is a fanfic set after the events of my last one, ‘The Real
Decoy’, but not directly related to it except that Leela and
Fry are now a couple.
Now I kicked around the idea of doing a Futurama/Firefly crossover, but I
abandoned it due to the large number of bright colourful characters
involved which would have been a monumental headache what with giving
each of them enough page time and such. So instead I have opted to do
a homage to Firefly by adapting a portion of this story to the
brilliant episode ‘Jaynestown’… Fans of the show
will recognise the scenes I’ve borrowed. All credit to Joss
Whedon/Mutant Enemy and the team behind Firefly – arguably one
of the most emotive and incredible sci-fi TV shows in history.
Also, obvious credit to The Curiosity Company for Futurama.
CAPTION: ‘Not affiliated with the animated comedy series
of the same name’.
SEVEN YEARS AGO
(i.e.: the future, 2998AD)
incandescent laser bolt lanced through the bleak smoky sky, narrowly
missing the two figures that ran across the warehouse roof. The lead
figure was a silver bending unit, its cylindrical body catching
glints of feeble sunlight through the thick smog. In its mechanical
claw-like hands it held a large heavy steel box. The second figure
was a shaggy-haired human who was wheezing.
you park it, Bender?” the human puffed. “They’re
spoke, a squad of armed hoverbot death-troopers floated into view
over the warehouse roof and moved in pursuit of the two targets.
your damn food hole, Gareth,” Bender snapped, hefting the box
onto his shoulder. “I got this heist all worked out.” As
he spoke, a barrage of laser bolts burnt into the roof sheeting at
their feet, spurring them on faster.
suppose rousing the guards was part of the plan?” Gareth
didn’t respond. He skidded to a halt beside a derelict air
vent. Sitting hidden in the lee of the vent was a Scooty-Puff Senior
rocket bike. Bender quickly strapped the heavy box to the side and
hopped on, Gareth climbing up beside him. With a roar of engine
exhaust, the rocket bike lurched up into the smoky sky and began
winging away from the guard robots.
long, jerkwads!” Bender bellowed.
Gareth shouted. “We did it!”
we sure… oh CRAP!” A hail of laser beams and searing
railgun pellets suddenly filled the air around them as the
death-troopers opened up with all their weapons. Bender began to
weave to avoid the onslaught, but a lucky shot buried into the rear
of the rocket bike, lancing into the engine coils.
Scooty-Puff Senior coughed a great plume of black smoke and began to
lose altitude, dipping down toward the factories below.
hell – we’re losin’ power!” Bender shouted,
struggling with the controls. “We’re too damn heavy now!”
you find a place to put down?” Gareth asked frantically.
put down on this rock we’ll have the Supervisor’s men all
over us like rats on a human corpse,” the robot said. “Which
reminds me…” Bender swivelled at the waist to face
Gareth and planted a hand on the human’s chest.
are you doing?” Gareth said, eyes wide.
is for the greater good, meatbag,” Bender said. “My
greater good.” With that he shoved the human off the rocket
bike to tumble head-over-heel, screaming to the ground far below.
loss of weight, the rocket bike was able to gain a little more
altitude, but still not enough to break atmosphere. Bender swore to
himself as he watched the fuel level drop – the damaged engine
was burning too rich and if he didn’t escape the planet’s
gravitational pull soon then he’d never get off.
him, two sleek shapes rose up from amid the factories and warehouses.
A pair of interceptors making a beeline for him.
damn it all,” he said, finally coming to a decision. He
unstrapped the heavy steel box from the side of the bike and, with a
longing look at it, hurled it over the side. The final jettison gave
him enough lift to reach escape velocity, and with regret he soared
into the sky.
below, dozens of pairs of optical sensors watched the robot become a
dot and then disappear completely.
(i.e.: still the future, 3005AD)
“Good news everyone!”
ancient, senile old Professor ambled gradually into the Planet
Express meeting room and lowered himself into a chair with a creaking
sound. He sat and stared through his inch-thick glasses as the
assembled employees stared back at him expectantly.
long while, the purple-haired Cyclops sitting across from him cleared
her throat. “Are you going to tell us?” she asked
The Professor broke out of his daydream. “Tell you what?”
us the good news!” Fry said, exasperated. Leela put a calming
hand on his knee beneath the table and rolled her eye. The space
Captain and the delivery boy were seated next to each other. Amy,
Hermes, and Zoidberg occupied the rest of the table. The only one
absent was the robot.
didn’t say anything about any good news,” the Professor
snapped. “Now enough lip-flapping – I have good news!”
Farnsworth activated the hologram projector at the centre of the
round table and the three-dimensional image of a rust-coloured planet
appeared in the air.
is Port Botany,” a computerized voice said.
is Port Botany,” the Professor added.
Amy grunted, the Martian engineering intern toying absently with the
sleeve of her pink tracksuit.
Botany,” Farnsworth went on, “is a heavy industrial
planet close to the galaxy’s outer rim. The entire surface is
covered by factories, and the entire workforce is comprised of
indentured robot slaves.”
Leela looked disgusted.
slaves?” Scruffy asked, poking his head through the door. The
crew looked around at the rarely-seen janitor in unrecognition and so
he promptly disappeared again.
my, no, not slaves,” the Professor replied. “Anyhow, the
slave labour on Port Botany is highly proficient at producing
top-quality technical components of all manner for a fraction of the
have heard of dis place,” Hermes the Jamaican bureaucrat
chipped in. “Da Democratic Order O’ Planets put a trade
embargo on it ‘cause da cheap high-grade components was pushin’
down da’ market price and makin’ some of da DOOP’s
own industrial interests lose money.”
this mysterious Rastafarian stranger is right,” Farnsworth
said. “Port Botany is forbidden to export any hardware
off-world. A permanent blockade has been in place around the planet
for more than a year, and consequently the slave population is
starving – they have received no money to pay for their basic
alcohol requirements as the factories aren’t running.”
terrible,” Leela said. “What are the authorities doing
about the humanitarian situation?”
a robotitarian situation actually,” Hermes said helpfully. “And
the authorities could give even less of a mutant rat’s ass than
I do. The point of order here is that we have an opportunity to
rake-in a little karma by helping the inhabitants of Port Botany make
a little scratch, while also and more importantly pulling in a profit
we’re gonna scratch some karma for profit…” Fry
furrowed his brow in an attempt to understand.
talking about smuggling,” Leela explained, a pained look on her
face. “We’re to buy goods from the impoverished slaves of
Port Botany for a pittance and ship them out past the DOOP blockade
so we can then sell them for profit. In doing so we’d be
perpetuating a cycle of third-world deprivation, but in immediate
terms be helping the workers survive… I suppose it’s the
lesser of two evils.”
nobody seems interested in helping ZOIDBERG survive!” the
Decapodian physician declared mournfully, slumping to the table and
covering his head with his claws. “I’m soooo hungry!”
others ignored him.
Amy Wong sat up and looked around the table. “Ta ma de! We’re
not smugglers… we’re just a package delivery company.
This is illegal!”
the Professor laughed. “Oh heavens no, it isn’t illegal –
it’s merely against the law. And since we’ve not had a
profitable delivery job ever since that Xylogen fiasco, I – by
which I mean you - are forced to undertake such a venture if we want
to keep our proverbial heads above proverbial water. Now, I’ve
had whatshisname here…” he gestured vaguely at Hermes,
“program the coordinates into the ship. You’re to sneak
onto the surface and meet with a labour leader – a man named
Vassiliev who will help broker the deal beneath the heads of both the
planet’s supervisor and the DOOP overseers.”
consulted his clipboard and then slid a plastic envelope across the
table to Leela. “The money for the shipment,” he
explained. “Keep it away from Bender, whenever the mechanical
monstrosity decides to show himself. Also, you’re to take Amy
with you so she can verify the hardware you’re buying.”
a smuggling run,” Amy said uncertainly. “Something for my
glanced at Fry who was trying to look important and professional.
“Since this is a pickup, I don’t see that we’ll
really need a delivery boy…” Hermes cringed when a heavy
boot slammed into his shin. “Ugh,” he consulted his
clipboard again, “unless the Captain has any specific need to
have a simple-minded layabout on board.”
does,” Leela replied firmly, an a tone that told everyone
present that it was not a debatable matter.
grinned widely. “Alright!” he said. “Let’s be
the Professor seconded. “Off you go!”
strutted out of the NNY branch of Mom’s Old-Fashioned Robot
Company feeling happier than he had in weeks. It had taken much
longer than he would have liked to find a replacement body for a
bending unit after his beloved chassis was completely destroyed by a
Xylogen boarding party during the PE crew’s last disasterous
mission. During the intervening time he had been forced to make use
of a skinny and pitiful robot chassis that made him look like an
he was back, baby. Head firmly mounted on an original bending unit
body. It had cost a small fortune to get the older design built for a
one-off, but he wouldn’t have been satisfied with anything
took the midtown tube-line to Planet Express he sung brokenly to
himself, an old ‘Talking Heads’ song that Fry had taught
him, but substituting the words “take me to the river”
with “Ben-der is a legend”. The towering ziggurats of New
New York zipped past the transparent tube and for the time being, the
robot looked on the city with slightly less contempt.
arrived at Planet Express he entered the hangar area to find the crew
bust prepping the ship.
who’s got his shiny metal ass back!” Bender bellowed.
Leela, and the others looked over and cheered, gathering around to
inspect the new hardware.
Bender, you look better than ever!” Amy said, giving him an
affectionate pat on the Shiny Metal Ass.
man, I bet you feel a whole lot better now,” Fry said.
take that bet,” Bender replied. “Guys, it means so much
to me you pitching in for this. I can’t repay you every cent,
but I can give you a little something…” He produced a
wad of bills from his new chest compartment and handed the money
where’d you get this?” Leela asked, a little dumbfounded
by his generosity.
sold that skinny body the DOOP gave me,” the robot replied
cheerfully. “Told some sap that Elton John’s head used to
use it for transport. Hah-hah!”
very thoughtful of you.”
it’s the least I could do. Actually the least I could do is
nothing, so consider yourselves in my good graces. Now, we got a
right up your alley,” Leela said with a smile. “We’re
Bender chuckled wickedly and steeped his new metal fingers.
minutes later the little green Planet Express freighter was blasting
its way out of Earth orbit and lining up a trajectory for the
Galaxy’s outer rim. Leela opened up the dark matter engines and
the little blue planet quickly receded to a star behind them, and
then disappeared entirely.
hard d’you think it’s gonna be to slip past the DOOP?”
Fry asked as he watched starfields drift past outside.
not hard at all,” Leela muttered. “Considering their
calibre of enlisted officers…”
Amy looked up angrily from the engineering console.
Kif,” Leela added.
Amy brightened. “Do you think the Nimbus will be part of
Leela exchanged glances. The last meeting they’d had with Zapp
Brannigan had ended with Fry’s fist becoming closely acquainted
with the Captain’s jaw. Zapp had been put in his place at the
time, but it was doubtful his shock would outlast his desire for
Leela said slowly. “I want to make this perfectly clear –
we’re flying under the radar for this mission. If we reveal
ourselves, the mission is over and we go home empty-handed. I do not
want a repeat of that other time you ‘needed’ to see
Captain,” Amy sulked.
we’ll drop you right back on Mars.”
said yes! Qin wode pigu!”
looked at Amy for a long moment, and her face softened. The young
woman’s love was a million miles away – so how could
Leela judge when her own was with her all the time?
we get back from this run, I’ll make Hermes give you time off
to pay Kif a visit,” Leela said finally, and Amy raised her
eyebrows in surprise.
I love my Captain!” Amy cried, jumping up to give Leela a hug
and a kiss on the cheek. “I’m gonna go check to see how
the new reactor is fairing.”
hurried out, leaving Fry and Leela alone on the bridge. The
anachronistic delivery boy was grinning at the Captain and Leela
smirked back at him.
think I’m going soft?” she asked.
no,” Fry grunted. “I just couldn’t help noticing
Amy kiss you. That’s a sight a guy could get used to.”
I’m sure it is,” Leela replied indulgently, moving her
eye back to the instruments. “It’s also a sight a guy
won’t get used to.”
just testing that pond.” He sidled over to her. “Woe is
me. I guess I’ll just have to kiss you myself.” He leaned
close and kissed her neck softly.
made a small cooing noise and closed her eye, relaxing.
huh?” he was still kissing her neck, with one hand gently
trailing through her hair.
really should… not be doing this while I have the helm,”
she said, gently and reluctantly pushing him away. “It’s
unprofessional and potentially dangerous. You and I are something
much more now, but I’m still the Captain and…”
cool,” Fry nodded his understanding. “Guess I’ll
just, uh… restrain myself.”
smiled. “I take my break in six hours,” she said silkily.
looked pleased, and was about to comment when the bridge door slid
open and Bender came clumping in, whistling to himself. The robot saw
Fry and Leela in close proximity and emitted an electronic chuckle.
‘ello ‘ello! Wot have we ‘ere then?” he
quipped. “Seems you might be trying to handle too many
gearsticks at once there, big-boots. Careful you don’t put us
into the side of a moon.”
no, we’re being… what did you call it?” Fry looked
what they’re calling it these days?” Bender slumped into
a free chair. “So where are we headed anyway?” he asked.
trade-embargoed planet called Port Botany,” Leela replied.
“We’re going to…”
Fry looked up in alarm. Bender had lurched up off the chair and now
stood in what they knew to be his surprised pose. His optical sensors
were fully dilated.
Botany,” Leela repeated, narrowing one side of her eye in a
quizzical half-squint. “Are you okay Bender?”
paused for a long moment before responding. “Sure…”
he said slowly. “Not a thing wrong with old Bender. You won’t
be needing me for anything on this job though, right? I mean…
I can just stay aboard the ship?”
need you to help transport the shipment,” Leela said, growing
irritated. “Bender if you have a problem then you’d best
explain what it is.”
no problem,” Bender said hurriedly, fidgeting in a distinctly
un-robot-like manner. “I’m gonna go get ready.”
With that, he quickly marched back out of the bridge.
Leela stared after him.
was that about?” Fry wondered.
don’t know,” Leela replied. “But whatever it is, I
don’t want it to compromise this mission. We’re going to
be skirting the edge of a very high precipice on this one, and I
don’t want any complications. You should talk to him.”
Fry nodded agreement and went back to looking at the stars.
wearing Leela’s green jacket and a spare pair of Fry’s
jeans, and he was busy trying to prise open the ship’s armoury
locker when Fry found him.
me get this open, meatbag,” Bender said, motioning for Fry to
what are you doing?” Fry looked at his friend in bewilderment.
does it look like I’m doing? I’m stocking up on some
you’re wearing Leela’s coat… and my pants.”
looked down at the apparel stretched on his cylindrical chassis.
well…” he searched his data banks for inspiration.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… you guys
are so stylin’ that I… err… want to be like you,”
he finished lamely. “Now is there a key to this thing?”
scared of something on that planet, right?” Fry said.
Scared? Never!” Bender folded his arms and laughed.
trying to disguise yourself and load up on guns.”
Bender hesitated and Fry put an hand on his shoulder joint. “You
can tell me, man. I’m your friend.”
Bender looked to the left and right. “I never told you this
before Fry, because I didn’t want you to think less of me, but
the truth is… I’m a criminal.”
stared at Bender for several long moments, blinked a few times, and
then nodded slowly as he tried to keep a serious expression and
restrain the riotous fit of laughter that was struggling to burst
see,” he said carefully.
was working on Port Botany a few years before you came out of the
freezer,” Bender went on. “Only as a cover for the heist
I was planning… but things went pear-shaped and you could say
I made me some enemies there.”
was a long time ago,” Fry reasoned. “How do you know
anyone even remembers?”
planet supervisor ain’t the kinda skintube who forgets when
people make a fool of him.” Bender leaned close to Fry and
lowered his voice. “One guy he caught skimming from the
manufacturing fund ended up getting lowered into a vat of acid
feet-first… and slowly.”
chuckled. “I saw that in a movie once,” he said. Bender
narrowed his eye units, and Fry sobered. “Okay, okay, there’s
some history. But we’re not going through the supervisor, so
all you need to do is keep a low profile. If you don’t draw any
attention then we can be in and out and nobody will know you were
okay,” Bender said, sounding unconvinced.
no guns,” Fry added. “We’re not out to start a war
with those people. I’m sure they’re already skittish
enough with the DOOP breathing down their necks.”
Fine.” Bender turned away and started off toward the
Bender,” Fry called after him with a grin, and the robot
turned. “A criminal? Really? You?”
my shiny metal ass, Fry.”
edge of the galaxy, on a murky brown world, in the bowels of an
industrial metropolis, inside a very small cell, sat a dirty
longhaired man with a shaggy beard.
was missing his right eye, and his left leg sat at an awkward angle
where the bone had set crookedly. The years of incarceration had left
him wizened and hallow, but even so there was still a feverish glow
of energy in his remaining eye as he scratched on the floor with his
square of chalk.
across every bare surface in the tiny room – the floor, walls,
and ceiling – and accompanied by rudimentary drawing of a robot
in various states of demolition, were three words repeated over and
proceeded as normal. Bender appeared to overcome his earlier panic,
taking shifts on the bridge and debating with the ship’s
autopilot at great length. Even so, the others were still able to
discern a level of unease in his manner.
heading up to the bridge to check on Bender and see if he needed
anything when she nearly bumped into Fry as he emerged from Leela’s
quarters. The Chinese girl’s mouth dropped open when she took
in the delivery boy’s appearance – his orange hair was
mussed and his clothing askew… the white T-shirt actually
seemed to be inside-out. It couldn’t possibly be what it looked
like… could it?
eyes widened in surprise when he saw her, and he stammered something
Amy looked baffled. “What were you doing in Leela’s
cabin? You weren’t… going through her ‘things’,
No!” Fry looked insulted. “You think I’m some kind
the door to the Captain’s cabin slid open, and Leela leaned
out, holding Fry’s red jacket and totally naked.
you left your…” She stopped when she saw Amy, and pulled
the jacket back to cover her bare body, blushing profusely.
eyes boggled as she looked back and fourth between her two friends.
Xylogen mission,” Leela answered. “We didn’t want
to announce it to everyone right away; office romances are so
scandalous – you know what Zoidberg’s like when he gets a
juicy piece of gossip… when he gets a juicy piece of anything
really. You’re not mad, are you?”
Of course not!” Amy said, clapping her hands. “Bèndàn!
We’ve all been waiting for you two to finally get together! I’m
so happy for you both.” Amy swept forward and collected Fry and
Leela into a big embrace, despite Leela’s unclothed state.
been in a hugging mood lately,” Fry observed.
pulled away and grinned, hoping the slight pang of illogical jealousy
she felt wasn’t showing on her face.
you and me gotta have some girl talk later,” she said. “I
want all the naughty details too.”
okay,” Leela smiled nervously and handed Fry his jacket. “I’m
going to get dressed now.”
cirrus and cumulous clouds spread out across the grimy atmosphere of
Port Botany far below the small flotilla of DOOP warships in high
orbit. It was a junk assignment, boring and uneventful – the
crews of the vessels had been sitting around doing nothing for
months. And an itching desire to blast the living crap out of
something had emerged.
small contact appeared at the edge of sensor range, they clamoured to
having resumed her place in the Captain’s chair, noted the
probing fingers of long-range subspace radar with stoicism.
shut down all non-essential systems,” she said calmly. “Bender
– launch the cry-baby.”
I’ll get you your coffee, Ma’am!” Fry said,
sounding determined and militaristic.
shut down all onboard energy-emitting processes to render the Planet
Express ship as silent as possible, Bender dialled up the number 1
torpedo tube and fired it. But it wasn’t a torpedo that leapt
from the tube and blasted away on a stream of ion propulsion –
the ‘cry-baby’ was a jerry-rigged transmitter apparatus
designed to broadcast on all frequencies a pre-recorded distress
deft twitch of its thruster, the cry-baby altered course toward
Galactic South, peeling away from the PE ship’s course. When it
had travelled four thousand kilometres it began crying.
the lead DOOP vessel ‘Corinthian’, a communications alert
kicked up, and an ensign looked to the Captain in alarm.
we’ve got a heavy transport at the edge of the system carrying
fourteen-thousand souls,” the kid said. “They say they
have a hull breech and request immediate assistance.”
Captain nodded. “Must have been what we picked up,” he
said. “Set course.”
battle group sped toward the phantom signal, the PE ship drifted
silently above them in the opposite direction.
In the PE
ship’s command chair, Leela smiled grimly to herself. “Seeya
later, boys,” she said smugly, watching the warships recede
from the scope as she approached the planet unobstructed.
booms rippled out from the PE ship as it dived in low through the
murky atmosphere and levelled out to skim across a dirty ocean to
avoid radar. The nose of the little green freighter still glowed red
from re-entry, and it kicked up a wake of steam when the ship flew
through a light rainstorm.
checked their trajectory and noted with satisfaction that they were
on-track to the coordinates listed in the ship’s guidance
this’ll be quick, right?” Bender asked. “In and
out, no hanging around?”
looked over at the robot – he was dressed in Fry’s pants,
her jacket, and had found one of the old yellow ‘Awesome
Express’ caps to pull down low across his eyes.
Bender,” she said. “We’re not going through
official channels so it will take time to arrange the meeting and
cargo transfer. Until then we’ll keep a low profile.”
muttered to himself and did up the jacket.
coastline swam into focus ahead, looming out of the murk. It wasn’t
the kind of coastline one was used to seeing – this one was a
sheer cliff of factory walls and heavy machinery. There was no beach
– just an intricate tangle of pipes and cables. Leela slowed
the ship and cruised toward the towering sprawl on candlepower. They
flew into an open trench between factories and lowered altitude
gradually as cranes and storage tanks whipped past on either side.
Finally, Leela dropped into a hovering pattern over the top of an
abandoned roofless structure, and gently eased the PE ship down into
the open space below, toggling the landing gear down.
landing, the ship’s engine powered down with a descending-pitch
whine, and presently the four crew-members emerged down the landing
stair. The air smelt of iron filings and ozone, and it was deathly
Amy complained, rubbing her hands together. “The Professor
certainly chose a cold smelly planet for us to pilfer.”
not pilfering,” Leela said as she drew a box out from a
compartment at the bottom of the stairs. “We’re just
taking advantage of third-world desperation. Now let’s get this
camouflage netting up to make sure the ship isn’t spotted by
airborne patrols.” She unrolled an expansive sheet of olive
mesh that they all helped to loop over the ship’s fuselage and
spread out. From the air, the vessel became an indistinct blob of
drabness that melted into the dreary industrial landscape.
complete, Leela activated the ship’s remote central locking and
the four of them made their way out of the ruined warehouse onto a
looked at Bender oddly. Though it was true some vain robots took a
liking to clothes for the sake of fashion (there could be no other
reason), Bender had never been know to indulge.
what’s with the outfit, Bender?” she asked
conversationally. “Trying to avoid getting your new body
sure, that must be it,” Bender muttered, glancing around
nervously. “But while we’re on the surface I’d like
you to refer to me as ‘Caleb’ at all times… no,
no, better yet – ‘Damien’.”
got enemies on this planet,” Fry explained. “He’s
frightened someone will recognise him.”
gaped in mock astonishment. “Enemies?” she exclaimed.
“Surely not our beloved Bender?!”
I not just make a clear and simple statement regarding the use of my
real name?” Bender snapped angrily. “I’m glad you
skintubes think my imminent demise is so hilarious.”
always is, buddy,” Fry said, clapping him on the back.
was about to snap off an insult when suddenly a towering factory
robot wheeled out into their path and glared down at them with
people aren’t supposed to be here,” it said. “Who
who are we?” Fry stammered, stepping forward hesitantly as he
thought hard. “Well uhh…” He raised his index
finger. “Ask not who we are – ask instead who YOU are.
Because to know one’s self is to be truly wise, and it is the
wise man who…”
the factory ‘droid commanded, lifting a massive steel claw
threateningly. “I know who I am. YOU, I do not – section
36 dash ‘A’ of manufacturing prefecture five-hundred and
seventy-two is off-limits to any unauthorized personnel. State your
identity and business!”
stared blankly. “We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses,”
he said after a long pause. “We’re here to talk to you
leaned close to the two women and muttered sarcastically: “Who
is this master of subterfuge and what has he done with our Fry?”
God?” the factory robot demanded, folding its gargantuan
God with the best quality and lowest prices guaranteed!” Fry
answered with gusto, pumping his fist. “If another God offers
you a better deal – we’ll beat it by ten percent!”
closed her eye despairingly. “Oh sweet Jesus,” she
also bug exterminators,” Fry said, on a roll now. “We’ve
been hired to perform a pest inspection to make sure the cockroaches
aren’t developing weapons of mass-destruction.”
the large robot rubbed its chin thoughtfully. “There WERE some
bugs down in the lower levels got caught stealing Plutonium.”
It thought for a moment longer. “All right then, you may pass.
Just don’t cause any trouble!”
sir.” Fry grinned at the others as they moved past the
gargantuan mechanoid. “So am I smooth or what?”
like a gravel milkshake,” Leela replied with a smirk. “Luckily
production-line models like that don’t have much use for
high-grade AI. Now come on, let’s get to the town square so we
can put out the word to Vassiliev.”
then get the hell off this damn rock,” Bender added, pulling
his cap down lower.
continued along the tarmac strip for a few hundred feet further
before the road opened out into a wide common. Various stalls and
storefronts lined the sides and pipes crisscrossed the sky above. The
area was virtually deserted except for a few robot vagrants rusting
in the gutters. The four Planet Express crew came to a dead stop when
they saw the object that took up the centre of the square.
ni niang!” Amy exclaimed, grateful (not for the first time)
that her friends couldn’t understand Chinese.
what is this?” Leela stared wide-eyed at the spectacle.
Fry searched for an appropriate word, and decided on: “…disturbing.”
middle of the dusty common, standing on a stone plinth and reaching
ten feet in height, was a statue. It was roughly-hewn from sections
of scrap metal, but had been crafted with obvious care – the
welds were clean and even, and it had been kept clean. A number of
candles and floral wreaths had been laid at the statue’s feet,
where a name had been spelled out in bronzed letters.
Bender B. Rodriguez.
It was a
ten foot high statue of Bender, cast in a heroic pose with his fist
raised toward the heavens.
motherboard!” Bender muttered in quiet incredulity.
Fry said slowly.
wanna maybe try explaining this?”
got no answer,” Bender said, shaking his head. “It don’t
make no kind of sense. You know I love forcing people to build
statues of me – but I don’t know anything about this
leaned from side to side as she looked up at the statue. “It’s
weird,” she said. “Wherever I go, his eyes seem to follow
Leela said, glancing around. “Obviously Bender made a bigger
impression on this world than he thought. We should get out of the
open and into someplace dark.” She spotted a hole-in-the-wall
bar at the other side of the square and motioned for the others to
follow her toward it.
remained for a moment, looking up at the looming statue with a sense
of bewilderment and quiet dread. “Creepy,” he muttered,
before turning and following the others.
planetary space around Port Botany, the flotilla of DOOP warships had
fallen into a search pattern after discovering the cry-baby unit
broadcasting the fake signal. A state of yellow alert had been
issued, and it had become apparent that someone or something was
playing them for fools.
Captain of the Corinthian had been forced to report the incident to
DOOP command, and had been given the unwelcome news that the Order’s
flagship was being dispatched to investigate.
Nimbus. Captain Zapp Brannigan. The most highly-decorated village
idiot in the history of the galaxy, with the possible exception of
Supreme Chancellor Dwight the Drunken from the planet Urinal V in the
promised, the Nimbus emerged from lightspeed and fell into orbit
around Port Botany. The massive white-flanked starship dwarfing even
wide-beam communication was sent out to all the other DOOP ships, and
on their main screens the smug, superior smirk of Zapp Brannigan
appeared, larger than life.
away your knitting, ladies,” Zapp said with a derisive chuckle.
“It’s time for a man to take over… the knitting…
to knit… a tapestry of – competence… and
deactivated the comm. link and swivelled in his chair, giving the
Nimbus’s bridge crew an unwanted view up his regulation skirt.
He faced his Lieutenant, the green alien Kif Kroker.
my disgusting reptilian underling,” he said, “what we
have here is an attempt by outside agencies to engage in trade with a
subjugated and dying world – it sickens me!”
I get the bucket, sir?” Kif muttered.
now, Kif. First I pose you a question – if a vessel were trying
to get to the surface of Port Botany, where would it head first?”
blinked two pairs of eyelids and stared at his hated commander. “Is
that a trick question, sir?”
don’t play tricks, Kif – I live them.”
sighed at that nonsensical comment and answered: “I would say a
vessel trying to get to the planet’s surface would logically
head toward the planet’s surface.”
Zapp rubbed his chin. “It seems you aren’t quite as
stupid as the rest of your hideous species. Keep exercising logic
like that and you’ll be on the fast-track to Lieutenant.”
groaned and buried his head in his hands as Zapp swung back to the
he called. “Bring us into the atmosphere and begin… some
kind of scanning thing – find me the ship that got through the
blockade! I want those smugglers served up to me on a platter with
some flat bread and an assortment of cheese… and olives…
and maybe some sliced salami. Kif – make my lunch!”
Leela, and Amy were the only humans in the establishment. They were
the only organic lifeforms for that matter, and their entrance
cause a lot of the robot drinkers to look up in suspicion.
Amy said brightly, waving at the small gathering of slave-bots. There
was no response, just baleful stares from cracked and faded optical
watch it with that cheerful bimbo crap,” Bender whispered in
her ear. “These folk view flesh-piles like you three as
representatives of the system that oppresses them – so get real
meek real fast or you’ll soon find out what the inside of a
meat-grinder looks like.”
swallowed hard and followed the others, making sure to keep her eyes
downcast. The four friends slid into a dusty booth, with Bender
pressing himself into the shadows against the wall.
this is cosy,” Fry said, draping his arm around Leela’s
shoulders. “Maybe Bender can use his local fame to scrounge us
up some free drinks?”
way!” Bender hissed. “And stop saying my name out loud,
bone-bag! You wanna bring this whole planet down on our heads?”
don’t want a lot of attention, good or bad,” Leela
seconded, leaning against Fry and resting her head on his shoulder.
Amy looked away, suddenly uncomfortable but unable to understand why.
distance a siren howled, signalling the end of a shift at whatever
factories were still operating under the trade embargo. At length,
the battered multi-limbed bartender wheeled over to them and spoke in
a deliberately put-upon manner. “What’ll it be?”
of juice,” Bender said instantly. The others glanced at him in
you have any, uhh… human food?” Amy asked.
machine in the back,” the bartender replied gruffly. “If
you want anything more you can go back to the corporate district
where you belong, human.”
that, he wheeled away.
fella,” Fry observed.
android returned with a jug of dark liquid and four mugs, Leela
reached out and caught one of his arms.
she said. “We’re looking for someone named Vassiliev. I
wonder if you can help us get in contact with him?”
bartender stared at the cyclops for a long moment, and then glanced
around the dim interior. “You with the DOOP?” he asked
shook her head. “We’re a private company,” she
said. “We have a ship on the surface and we’re looking to
take on cargo.”
measured her up for a few moments longer before coming to a decision.
He nodded once. “I’ll put out the word,” he said,
and then moved away.
Amy spat. “Anyone would think we were buying drugs!”
would be fine,” Leela replied, settling comfortably back
against Fry. “Drugs don’t chip into the profits of the
DOOP and the big Multi-Planetary companies that finance and supply
them… that is, until DOOP starts dealing drugs themselves.”
A note of disgust entered her voice as she spoke about the amoral
right,” Bender said. “Could be little fluffy teddy-bears
– if it snatches profit from the big boys they’ll just
make it illegal. Smart people, I like their style.”
these robots – YOUR people – are suffering,” Fry
said, frowning at the robot. “Don’t you care?”
people always suffer. That’s life. You take what you get handed
and make whatever you can of it.”
of them lapsed into a moody silence as a large group of robots
entered the establishment after finishing their shift. Their state of
disrepair was obvious – mismatched replacement limbs,
pop-riveted plates covering rust holes in their casing. Maintenance
clearly wasn’t a high priority.
drank a few mugs of the ‘juice’. Fry tried some and
I wouldn’t recommend it,” Bender said, watching the
delivery boy gasp for breath as his throat burnt. “It’s
fifty percent alcohol, forty-nine percent lubricant oil, and one
percent more alcohol.”
coughed and spluttered and Leela patted his back.
could have warned him,” she told Bender angrily.
I could have… sure…” Bender said with a chuckle.
suddenly rang out across the room, and the PE crew looked up; a
skinny green sorting robot had climbed onto a rudimentary stage and
was strumming a five-stringed guitar. As the first notes of a song
rang out, the gathering of workers erupted into cheering.
the guitarist sang, and Bender froze with the mug halfway to his
Bender the people’s defender,
gave up, never lay down – never did surrender!
man with the coin brought his big boot down,
broken, wasted masses…
his ground, and shouted loud:
SHINY METAL ASSES!”
looked around in surprise as the whole bar shouted the line in
unison, with righteous passion. Bender seemed to shrink into his
Bender saw the robots’ backs breakin’,
the robots lament.
saw the supervisor takin’,
dollar and ev-er-y cent.
said: ‘you can’t do that to my people!’
‘you can’t crush us under-your-heel!’
So he lit
five seconds flat,
everything the bastard had to steal!”
Leela, and Amy stared hard at their robot friend, and he shrugged
helplessly as the song continued.
“Now here is what separates heroes,
From common folk like you and I:
The ‘bot they call Bender,
He turned 'round his plane,
And let that money hit sky.
He dropped it onto our houses,
He dropped it into our yards.
The ‘bot they called Bender,
Gave us that legal tender,
And headed out for the stars!”
singer lurched back into the first verse, and Bender groaned and
slumped forward, banging his face on the table.
crap on a circuit-board!” he growled. “Now it all makes
ta ma duh…!” Amy rapped her knuckles on Bender’s
cranial casing. “What? What is it all about?”
bar-room crowd finished the song with another hearty shout of “BITE
OUR SHINY METAL ASSES,” and Bender leaned in close to the
others to explain.
I was here seven years ago I pulled a job on the planet supervisor,”
he whispered. “The guy’s personal takings for a year –
had to be at least twenty million in untraceable bullion. But on my
way out I got hit by anti-aircraft fire and I was going down –
I needed to shed some weight or I’d be a smear on the ground or
a chump in a cell, so I had to toss the strong box. DAMN IT!”
He punched the table savagely.
must have fallen here,” he went on. “Probably let these
people live it up for a few years… can you imagine? The things
I could have done with that money…”
Bender,” Leela put her hand on his. “For what it’s
worth, you inadvertently did a good deed.”
rub it in!”
the room, a small child robot was watching the group of strangers in
the corner booth. The little unit fixed on the robot that was talking
with the three fleshies. He narrowed his eyes and quietly rushed out
of the bar.
like looking for a haystack in a king-sized bed full of needles,”
Zapp said, gazing at the complex topographical data that swept past
on the main viewscreen. “What the hell are we looking for on
this God-forsaken sexless planet anyway?”
grunted in incredulity. “The blockade runner, sir,” he
said in exasperation. “The one you were determined to find
several short minutes ago.”
can’t be expected to keep track of all my grand ambitions,
Kif.” Brannigan stood up and adjusted his toupee. “Just
find the damn thing so we can get our velure-draped asses out of this
don’t think it’s going to be quite as simple as all that,
sir,” Kif replied.
How dare you!?”
the heavy industry that covers the planet’s surface is causing
a severe field of electromagnetic flux that’s being conducted
by particulate matter in the atmosphere. There is simply too much
electrical activity for us to pinpoint residual engine emanations –
we would have to be within five-hundred feet of a ship before we’d
read anything… that’s not to mention the fact that the
vessel, if it is on the planet, is surrounded by machinery and as
such its mass will be indistinguishable from the…”
enough!” Zapp interrupted wearily, shoving a gloved hand in
Kif’s face. “If I wanted to hear a bunch of mumbo-jumbo
I’d… I’d talk to the officer in charge of
mumbo-jumbo! Where is Keith, anyway?”
spoke up: “Ah, he’s in the med-bay. Came down with the
– the point is this isn’t rocket science, it’s
STARSHIP science.” Zapp hammered his fist into an open palm to
emphasize the point. “And that’s the simplest science of
sighed expressively. “Actually sir, it’s surprisingly
if I wanted to be contradicted I’d talk to the officer in
charge of contradictions!”
is no such position that I’m aware of, sir.”
Zapp poked Kif in the chest, leaving an indentation. “That’s
because Brannigan is never wrong!” he said.
suddenly saw red. His right eye twitched and he balled his fists.
“Never wrong?!” he seethed through clenched teeth.
“You’re just a complete…”
eyes widened and he stepped closer, looming over the diminutive
alien. “Something to say, Lieutenant?” he demanded, his
voice dangerously quiet.
I, er…” Kif’s camouflage reflex kicked in, turning
him semi-transparent as he shrunk away from the Captain. “Nothing,
glared down on him for a few moments longer. “Well then good,”
he said finally. “Now bring us down to the surface –
we’re going to meet with the planet supervisor and see what he
can tell us about illegal smuggling operations.”
mammoth great block of Titanium and weaponry that was the Nimbus dove
down through the gloomy atmosphere, carving a tremendous wake with
its passage. The last remaining flock of a near-extinct species of
native bird happened to be migrating and was sucked entirely into one
of the DOOP ship’s atmospheric engine intakes, exiting as a
dark cloud of charred feather fragments.
an hour had passed, and the four PE crew were still sitting in their
corner booth, waiting for their contact to arrive. There was nothing
else for them to do, though thankfully the multi-limbed bartender had
managed to produce some low-grade beer that wasn’t lethal to
couldn’t shake the nagging discomfort she felt every time Fry
and Leela touched one another. As much as she wanted to be happy for
her friends, she couldn’t deny she was jealous; that much was
obvious. The real question was why. She told herself that it was only
that Kif was so far away, and Amy herself was lonely – seeing
Fry and Leela together made her want badly for someone to hold her…
But aside from that, there was something else, something slightly
more complex that she couldn’t put her finger on because she
was a little drunk.
beers, though coarse and bitter, had done their job after Amy had
downed five in fairly rapid succession to try to escape her
began to giggle uncontrollably when the ‘band’ started
playing the Bender theme song again.
Bender the people’s defender!” she sang along. “He
never gave up, never lay down – never did surrender!” She
laughed breathlessly and draped herself onto the robot, patting him
on the belly.
the hell off me, bonebag,” Bender snapped. “Bad enough I
have to sit in a room full of idiots who love me.”
didn’t hear. “Heyyy, Bender,” she slurred. “How
‘bout next mission we go to the little planet where I’M a
you mean planet Hussy, in the Ditz system?”
Amy narrowed one eye. “Thaths not a real place…”
She reached for the jug again, but Leela slid it away from her.
had enough,” the cyclops said firmly.
come on, zhu tou!”
trying to maintain a low profile.”
pouted. “Jeez Leela,” she grumbled. “First you take
my boyfriend and now my booze…” As soon as she realized
what she just said she regretted the words; she gaped and spluttered,
trying to come up with something to say, to apologise or rephrase,
but her alcohol-fuddled brain wasn’t able to formulate
anything. Fry and Leela stared at her in shock.
Bender chirped happily, breaking the silence.
God… you guys, I’m so sorry!” Amy whispered. She
stood up from the booth and hurried off. Leela called after her to no
it,” Leela said, glancing at Fry. “Does she still have
feelings for you?”
be news to me,” Fry replied, still dumbfounded. “I
thought that was all ancient history… I mean, she’s in
love with Kif, right?”
I was you, Fry – I’d let the two of them fight over you!”
Bender said helpfully.
better go talk to her,” Leela said, getting to her feet. She
started across the bar-room, but stopped when she noticed a tall
grey-haired human male walking across the floor toward her. The
hook-nosed stranger approached and stopped in front of her.
the folks been askin’ ‘bout Vassiliev?” he asked
right,” Leela replied. “We were sent by a man named
you’d be Planet Express, then?”
right. Are you Vassiliev?”
I’m Drupev – you don’t get to meet Vassiliev ‘til
mornin’. Eight sharp – be at this location, and bring the
money.” He handed Leela a card with a location hand-written on
it. “In the meantime,” he went on, “y’all
keep to yourselves and don’t cause no ruckus. There’s
spies from both the DOOP and the supervisor been flittin’ round
these parts of late.”
be careful.” Leela nodded and pocketed the card.
moved away from them and Bender surged to his feet. “Alright,
I’m not gonna spend another minute in this creepy-ass centre of
Bender-worship. Let’s get the hell out of here.”
“Yeah, we need to find Amy anyway,” Fry said. “I
hope she’s okay.”
Fry and Leela followed him through the room and out the doorway.
When they stepped onto the street they stopped in their tracks and
stood frozen to the spot. Spread out before them was a large crowd of
worker robots of all shapes and sizes, forming a circle around the
bar entrance. In the front of the ranks was the little child robot
that had recognised Bender, the great legend whose statue loomed
behind the crowd.
Fry glanced around. “Is this good or bad?” he asked.
think we’re boned,” Bender replied.
the crowd suddenly burst into tumultuous cheering and applauding.
back!” one of the robots shouted joyously.
hero of Botany is back!!”
turned around and fled straight back into the bar.
supervisor was a haggard man in his middle years, hallow-faced and
bitter. He made the two DOOP officers wait for an inordinately long
time before finally allowing them to enter his cavernous office.
Kif walked the length of the lushly-furnished room and stood before
the businessman’s huge, ornate desk.
what could the Democratic Order Of Planets possibly want with me
now?” he asked slowly, without looking up from his paperwork.
“You’ve already raped my world in every possible way –
perhaps you’re here to tax the air we breathe too?”
interesting idea,” Zapp said, stroking his chin thoughtfully.
“An air tax… Kif, make a note of that – I’ll
propose it to the high council.”
supervisor glared. “What is it you want, you buffoon?”
believe a ship has illegally landed on the planet’s surface for
the purpose of smuggling banned goods,” Kif explained.
us where it is!” Zapp demanded. “Or so help me God, I’ll
radio my ship and have it blast this building to rubble!”
supervisor stared. “With you inside it?” he asked.
he’ll do it,” Kif sighed.
any case,” the supervisor said, leaning back, “I’ve
no reason not to help you, even though you sons of whores are
strangling this planet with your embargo. Any smuggling that went
though this office would be immediately reported to you by your
overseer and his spies – that means if trade is going on like
you suggest then it’s happening beneath my nose and I’m
not profiting from it; that will never do.”
don’t follow,” Zapp said, frowning.
he wants us to catch the smugglers so they’ll stop stealing his
green friend is right. Now all I can tell you is that there’s
been a lot of missing stores in section 36-A of manufacturing
prefecture 572. That’d be the best place to start looking.
That’s all the help I can give you, and I’d hope my
cooperation won’t go unnoticed by your superiors – I’d
like to resolve this economic quandary as soon as possible.”
and Kif left the office, the Captain turned to his Lieutenant and
spoke quietly: “Kif, when we get back to the ship, look up the
supervisor watched the two officers depart with revulsion and malice.
His desk intercom chimed and he switched it on.
we have just had a report from one of our informants in the slums,”
his secretary said. “The word is that Bender Rodriguez has
supervisor sat bolt upright, his eyes wide and nostrils flared.
“Rodriguez!” he growled hungrily. “Summon my head
minutes later, the supervisor was being led through an intricate maze
of tunnels, past innumerable cell doors. He held a bulky positron
rifle in his arms, cradling the weapon awkwardly as though he’d
never handled one before. The security chief was in front, marching
sure you want to do this, sir?” she asked.
supervisor grunted. “We kill him ourselves and we’ll have
to contend with an uprising among the slave-bots. No, it’s
better this way – let someone else take their hero from them so
we don’t have the blame.”
reached a specific door, and the security chief paused to unlock it
before kicking it open. The steel hinges screeched in protest and a
dank smell wafted out. For a time, nothing could be seen in the
gloom, but presently a shape moved into view.
howdee-doo, Gareth,” the supervisor said brightly. “Long
time no see – why don’t you come on out here?”
limped out of the shadows and into the hallway, glaring balefully at
the supervisor with his remaining eye. “The hell do you want?”
From you? There’s nothing you have that I could ever want.
You’ve served your debt to society and now you’re free to
go. That’s it.”
looked bewildered before, then the bewilderment was trebled when the
businessman pressed a rifle into his hands. He looked down at the
high-powered weapon in astonishment, hefted it to check the gauge,
and then levelled it at his hated enemy.
lock me up in a little concrete box for seven years, and then give me
a charged positron shooter?” he sneered incredulously.
the urge to use it, no doubt,” the supervisor said with a
smile. “But I'm not the one that brought you in on that
robbery. I'm not the one who partnered up with you and then turned on
you when his plan went south. How high up was that Scooty-Puff when
he pushed you off? Thirty feet? Bender cost you seven years of your
life, plus a perfectly good eyeball. And here's the poetical portion.
he's back in town. This very day.”
eye widened in rage and he bared his teeth.
of luck in your new life,” the supervisor said, and then
strolled away, leaving Gareth standing with the gun.
gathering inside the bar-room had stopped singing and was standing
around in confusion at the sound of celebration outside. Bender
pushed through them and dragged himself up to the bar, desperate for
another drink. He peeled off his hat and tossed it away in disgust.
a juice!” he said. “Quickly!”
Fry made their way back inside, looking around in expectation.
“I can’t get enough of this local colour,” Leela
bartender splashed a bottle of robot juice into a mug and Bender took
a gulp from it. The guitarist robot dropped his instrument and
stepped out into the middle of the room behind Bender.
you understand?” the skinny green android said. “He’s
looked at him in bewilderment.
eyes darted and the bartender suddenly slapped the mug of juice from
hero of Botany won’t be drinking that panda urine!” the
bartender shouted. “He drinks the best whiskey in the house!!”
With that, he pulled out two large dusty bottles of vintage spirit
from under the counter and poured a glass.
in the bar erupted into cheering and converged on Bender, slapping
him on the back and shaking his hand. He lost his connection to
reality and stood there amid the fanfare as if lost in a dream.
and Fry made their way carefully out of the crush of robot bodies,
Drupev appeared suddenly and caught Leela by the arm.
the hell’s goin’ on?” he demanded. “Is this
how people go about NOT causing a ruckus where you’re from?”
generally, no,” Leela replied.
friend, I came here to make sure a deal went down solid, not to get
chopped up by the Botany death troopers and fed to the pigs!”
pulled her arm out of the contact’s grasp and stared him down,
understand your concern, ‘friend’,” she said, “but
this here is all part of our new plan.”
is this part of our plan?” Fry asked stupidly.
working the details,” Leela muttered, turning away.
suns were setting together, and Amy sat alone in deepening shadow at
the base of the Bender statue. Some kind of celebration was taking
place in the bar, but she paid no attention, lost in her miserable
thoughts as she was.
so stupid,” she whispered to herself.
not so stupid that you can’t see it – that’s
something at least.”
turned in surprise to find Leela standing nearby. Big combat boots
notwithstanding, the cyclops had a way of moving around very quietly.
Amy sighed and looked down at her feet.
didn’t mean what I said back there, Leela,” she said.
I’m sure you did a little,” Leela said softly, sitting
down beside her. “That’s how alcohol works; a little
truth and a lot of headache. You wanna talk?”
don’t have feelings for him, if that’s what you’re
asking me,” Amy replied quietly. “It’s just that…
well… Fry is the only guy who ever dumped me.”
blinked in surprise; she hadn’t known that.
always the one who does the dumping,” she went on. “It
hurt me a little, that’s all. And now he’s with you…
and you’re so much stronger and smarter than me, and everyone
respects you – nobody respects me, I’m just a clumsy
little heiress bimbo. I know it sounds silly, but I used to think the
only thing I had that you didn’t was my way with men… oh
God…” She slumped her shoulders. “I’m so
you’re not…” Leela was taken-aback. “I never
realized you felt that way, but you’re so wrong.” She put
her arm around the girl. “Gosh, it’s me who’s
always been jealous of you – you’re beautiful, and
socially well-adjusted, not to mention a wiz with mechanics…”
Leela,” Amy said. “And I’m sorry.”
be,” Leela patted her hair.
smiled weakly. “I think I know why Fry dumped me now,”
giggled and leaned close. “There was someone else he was crazy
about ever since he fell out of cryo,” she said. “And I
had one too many eyes.”
grinned and stood up, pulling Amy to her feet as well.
on, we’ve got a celebration to plan,” she said.
“Apparently there’s a living legend in town.”
spoke, a massive shape moved across the sky above them with a roar,
and both women glanced up in alarm. Even in the diminishing light,
the ridiculous shape of the Nimbus was obvious.
Amy said. “Oh my God, he’s here!”
down, Amy,” Leela said as they watched the massive warship
cruise low above the factories and settle to the ground some distance
away. “If they’re here it means they’re looking for
us – and if they find us they’ll arrest us and lock us
wouldn’t do that!” Amy cried.
not him I’m worried about.”
leaned against the bar with a drink in hand, surrounded by his
adorers. It hadn’t taken long for him to get into the swing of
things; he figured, if you can’t escape ‘em, then go
along with ‘em. And adoration wasn’t something he’d
ever been particularly adverse to anyway.
guitarist robot, whose name, it turned out, was Gallows, raised a mug
to toast for the fifth time. “TO BENDER!” he shouted.
lifted his own mug and bellowed: “TO THE SLAVE-BOTS!”
the side, Fry leaned against the wall nursing a small glass of
whiskey and watching the display with some amusement. Leela and Amy
came back in and moved to his side. Fry decided to pretend the
earlier awkwardness hadn’t taken place, so he shot them both a
Bender’s certainly feeling better about life,” he
observed wryly. “Me, I stopped the Omicronians from destroying
Earth, prevented New New York from being smooshed by a garbage ball,
and discovered Bigfoot. What did I get? Nothing. Bender drips a box
of money and he gets a whole planet of adoring fans.” He raised
his glass. “To Bender – the box-dropping criminal tin-man
trouble, red,” Leela said, ignoring this rant. “It’s
smile vanished and his face hardened. “That arrogant blowhard,”
he growled. “What does he do, follow us around?”
grumbled acknowledgement. “In any case – now we really
need to keep our heads down… I just hope they don’t find
Zapp needs another lesson in humility,” Fry said, and the two
women stared at him in surprise. “Humility… er, it was
on that ‘word of the week’ calendar you gave me –
‘the quality of being humble; modest sense of one’s own
impressed. “Very good,” she said. “But I don’t
think fists are going to get us out of this one, as fun as it would
be to try. The weight of interstellar law is against us.”
baby we’ve always got the weight of something against us.”
Fry waved her concerns aside. “You’ll think of something
brilliant like normal and we’ll all be fine, that’s how
it works – you got smarts to match your beauty.”
smiled shyly and her cheeks coloured a little as Fry looped an arm
around her waist and pulled her close.
I do have part of an idea kicking around,” she said demurely,
swaying with him as he began a clumsy waltz despite the lack of
the wheels are already turning.”
watched the couple and smiled, her earlier jealousy gone. They looked
so good together; Leela’s resilient strength and determination,
and Fry’s humour and wide-eyed wonder – the two of them
complimented each other so well. There was still some small node of
sadness buried away inside Amy, but she knew how to fix that. The
solution was close now, and perhaps she would be able to prove her
worth to the others by solving the larger problem as well. Quietly,
while Fry and Leela were absorbed in each other, she slipped out and
disappeared into the night.
I’m going to talk to a few pillars of the robot community,”
Leela murmured to Fry, her face a few inches from his, her breath
warm and sweet. “I’ll convince them to have a little
‘Bender Day’ celebration tomorrow, that way we can have
everyone gathered in one place and we’ll be able to sneak
Vassiliev’s goods onto the ship without anyone noticing.”
into the tranquil depths of Leela’s eye, not really listening;
she was pressed against him and looking radiant – cunning plans
for crime and escape weren’t on the forefront of his mind.
“Hey, why don’t we leave Bender with his fan club,”
he suggested, “and find some nice spot to…” he
trailed off when a rusted old robot appeared alongside and prodded
him in the shoulder.
you two are Bender’s people, huh?” the robot said through
a crackly voice modulator.
looked indignant. “No, we’re not actually ‘his’…”
be an honour working under a great robot like that,” the worker
listen, rivet-face, we’re not…”
as a bulldozer, they say, and a heart the size of the galaxy.”
chuckled. “Oh, we’re just happy he lets us hang around,”
he said. “You know, I live in his closet!”
you’ll excuse us,” Leela told the robot sweetly, “I
need to take my boyfriend and find someplace to get his clothes off.”
grinned and let her pull him away. She’d said ‘boyfriend’.
That was a first. He was suddenly giddy; at the moment, even if Zapp
Brannigan and an entire squad of DOOP’s finest burst through
the door, the smile still couldn’t be wiped from his face.
didn’t notice his friends leave. He was engrossed in
conversation with Gallows the guitarist, as the rest of the bar
watched him in rapt fascination.
the supervisor… he let you folks keep all that gold?” he
did,” Gallows replied. “Weren’t his first choice
though. When he found out he sent the troopers to take it back, but
the workers resisted!”
the power, huh?” Bender had taken a liking to the skinny green
nodded. “When the slave-bots band together there’s too
many of us to be put-down. Plus if he wiped us out there’d be
nobody to run the mills. So in the end, he just had to call it a
laughed heartily and slapped the other robot on the back. “That’s
one hell of a bonus!”
“And then, when we put that statue of you up in town square, he
rolled in, wanted to tear it down. But the whole town rioted.”
This, the idea of violence in his name, touched Bender so deeply, a
tear came to his eye. “You guys started a riot?” he said,
voice filled with emotion. “On account of me? Oh... I am
overwhelmed, truly, truly moved by that. I mean, all of this free
booze has been swell and all, but that, my very own riot...” He
choked up and hugged Gallows and another robot nearby. “That's
just about the sweetest thing I ever heard... I love you guys!”
can’t believe you’re back!” Gallows said.
squeezed the robot harder. “How could I stay away!?”
through the darkness, heading toward the looming shape of the Nimbus,
like a gigantic black cliff punctured by innumerable squares of
light. She was careful not to make a sound as she approached the
massive warship sitting on the ground in an open area. Suddenly a
pneumatic whine filled the cold night air and a bright sliver of
light lanced out from the ship’s underbelly as an embarkation
ramp lowered. Amy scurried for cover behind a stack of mechanical
parts and watched furtively as a line of figures emerged.
breath caught in her throat as she instantly recognised the two lead
figures even in the poor illumination. The bulbus shape of Zapp
Brannigan, and alongside him… the spindly little reptilian.
she whispered dreamily.
trudged sulkily beside Zapp as the platoon of DOOP soldiers fanned
out around them. The whole operation had left a sour taste in his
mouth that had nothing to do with the sludge he’d been forced
to eat in the ship’s cafeteria earlier that day. The
subjugation of Port Botany wasn’t the foulest deed ever
committed by the DOOP, but it was among the top twenty… if Kif
were in charge he’d have a mind to let the smugglers go about
their business, and the high council be damned. Brannigan, on the
other hand, was as aroused by authority as he was by anything even
vaguely female – the law was just an excuse to exert power, and
he loved every second of it.
vermin,” the Captain muttered. “How dare these traitorous
peasants try to make a living at the expense of their betters?
Instead of trading with smugglers they ought to be lying down in the
street and dying for the greater good, like a loyal citizen would
if you spend some time with them, sir, they’ll be more inclined
to do just that,” Kif muttered.
insult went over Zapp’s head, and he began ordering the
soldiers to break up into scouting parties to reconnoitre the
surrounding district. Kif wandered a little distance away and stared
sadly at his hands. Life had not taken him anywhere near where he’d
wanted to go.
suddenly stung him in the middle of the forehead, and he blinked in
surprise as a tiny pebble bounced to the ground. Looking up in
puzzlement he saw a shape in the shadows near a pile of debris. A
familiar shape – big hair that parted in the middle and spread
out to either side in waves.
he murmured, and the figure gesticulated at him. He glanced around to
make sure Zapp was still occupied, then quickly moved over to the
pile to find Amy crouched there. “It is you!” he hissed.
“What are you doing…” Then he stopped as
realization dawned. “Oh no!”
pulled him down and planted a hard kiss against his lipless beak. Kif
embraced her, and when she let him up for air he looked searchingly
into her eyes.
the blockade-runner… the smuggling vessel… it was…?”
Gods…” Kif started to panic. “Please Amy, you have
to go. Get off the planet quickly before the jackass finds you and
have to finish the job,” Amy said quietly. “But I needed
to see you…”
you don’t understand,” Kif said, his slitted eyes darting
around. “You’re putting me in a dangerous position. It’s
my duty to arrest you!”
gaped. “Kiffy?” she gasped, shocked and horrified.
Brannigan’s voice carried through the night air, and Kif
straightened up from behind the pile of debris. “There you
are,” Zapp said. “What are you doing back there.”
uhh… I, err… that is…” He looked down at
Amy, still crouched in concealment, and she stared up at him with
hurt in her eyes. “I was… ‘taking a leak’,
sir,” Kif said, moving away.
work, Lieutenant,” Zapp said. “That’s all this
planet’s good for anyway. As a matter of fact…” He
turned away and hefted up his regulation skirt to do his business.
While Zapp’s back was turned, Kif motioned for Amy to run. She
hesitated briefly, casting a long mournful look at Kif, before
bolting away into the night.
shivered in the chilly night air and rubbed her bare arms, so without
speaking, Fry shrugged off his jacket and draped over her shoulders.
She smiled at him and took his hand.
take that kind of gesture for granted,” she said. “But
you know, in this era chivalry is as dead as the common rabbit.”
chuckled. “To tell you the truth, purple, it was pretty dead in
my time as well.”
so…” Leela leaned against him comfortably as they walked
down the dark street. “Past or present, seems you’ve
always been anachronistic.”
don’t know what an anachron…thingy is, but I’ll
take it as a compliment.”
leaned across and kissed him on the cheek, whispering: “You’re
my ancient knight in rarely-washed armour.”
you’re my beautiful one-eyed Earth Goddess,” Fry said,
turning to look at her.
snorted light-heartedly, mistaking his comment for a joke. “Not
often I hear ‘beautiful’ and ‘one-eyed’ in
the same sentence,” she said with a chuckle. “But thanks
stopped walking abruptly and Leela paused to look back at him.
kidding right?” he said incredulously, frowning at her.
Leela was genuinely confused.
don’t… really think you’re ugly do you?”
it’s okay Fry, I know I’ll never win a beauty contest
with this.” She gestured at her eye. “It doesn’t
bother me though – I got over it years ago.”
stared silently for a long moment and then shook his head slowly.
“Leela, if you could only…” he trailed off,
searching for the words. “You’re the most stunning woman
I’ve ever met,” he said finally. “And your eye is
like a gem, with the whole world is reflected in it, everything that
is and everything that could be. I can look into it and lose myself
for a thousand years; you can see into my soul…”
spoke, he gazed into her eye, and Leela stared back, overwhelmed. Her
lips were slightly parted in astonishment at his words, and a drop of
moisture formed beneath her eyelid.
Fry went on. “You have a beautiful eye.”
my… Fry… that’s…” Leela sagged
beneath the weight of emotion, and she clasped her hands over her
heart. Fry moved forward, afraid he’d upset her, but Leela
threw her arms around him and hugged him close.
the sweetest thing that anyone’s ever said to me,” she
the truth, nothing more,” he murmured, gently trailing his
fingers through her hair. “I only know how to tell the truth –
lies don’t come easy to me.”
love you, Phillip J. Fry.”
love you, Turanga Leela.”
kissed, long and deep, and so lost were they in their own warm little
bubble, they almost failed to notice the tramp of jackboots on the
tarmac drawing closer. At the last moment, Leela’s eye snapped
open in alarm and she took hold of Fry’s T-shirt, pulling him
off the street and into an adjacent alleyway moments before a DOOP
squad rounded a corner and marched into view. The lovers pressed
themselves flat against a grimy wall in the darkness as the squad
moved past, and didn’t move for long minutes after the marching
boots faded away.
should go and make sure the ship hasn’t been found,”
Leela murmured quietly, peeling herself away from the brickwork.
and make sure your bed still works,” Fry added with a smirk.
just hope Amy can figure to keep out of the DOOP’s way,”
Leela said. “Bender looks like he belongs, but Amy…”
sure she’ll be fine,” Fry said. “She’s not as
stupid as she first appears.”
know, neither are you,” Leela said. They moved cautiously back
onto the street and hurried off toward the ship’s hiding place.
trek from the prison through the industrial districts had been long
and arduous; the old break in his poorly-set left leg ached terribly
as he limped along. He gritted his teeth and ignored the pain,
keeping the featureless metal face of his quarry in mind as he pushed
onward in determination, the positron rifle tucked under his arm
wrapped in oilskin.
the location. The worker robots on the street were bursting with the
news of their hero’s return. Gareth bared his teeth in a feral
sneer – ‘hero’? Well, when he got there he would
show them their hero’s true nature, and then show them what
their hero’s inner workings looked like.
the rifle, a heavy gauge designed to take out killbots. It would do
nicely – a high-powered plasma bolt through the chassis, with
residual charge enough to melt the robot’s circuit boards.
mine, Bender,” he growled.
mine, Bender!” the first floozy-bot purred as she draped
herself on Bender’s shoulder.
“No he’s not, he’s MINE!” the second
floozy-bot declared, draping herself on his other shoulder.
ladies,” Bender said, chuffing on a huge cigar. “You can
both have me!”
celebratory party was winding down as robots departed gradually. The
man of the hour went upstairs with the two female robots, and Amy sat
alone at the end of the bar, staring miserably into an empty glass.
been a PROBLEM for him to see her, she thought morosely. It was his
DUTY to arrest her…
xin tai hei le,” she murmured to herself, unable to resist the
dark train of thought – if Fry and Leela were in the same
position, Fry would do anything and everything to ensure her safety.
Why couldn’t Kif be a stupid heroic fool like him?
closing, little missy,” the bartender said. He’d become
much more friendly to the PE crew after discovering they travelled
with the great Bender.
Amy didn’t really know where to go. “Do you mind if I
just go to sleep on the floor or something?”
the robot replied. “Nothing’s too good for a friend of
jiao,” she muttered, sliding off the stool and wobbling across
was about to slump down into one of the booths the bar-room door flew
open and Kif darted inside. He fixed on her and hurried over.
You here to arrest me?” Amy asked.
please!” Kif looked around anxiously. “I slipped away and
tracked you here… by the scent of your perfume. You have to
Amy said. “Not til the job is done. I was hoping you might be
able to keep Zapp and his merry band of morons off us but apparently
your duty is more important to you than I am.”
not true!” Kif protested. “I want to help you, but I
can’t stop that jackass any more than I can…”
you were any kind of man, you’d at least try!” Amy
shouted, swaying drunkenly.
blinked, stung by her words. “Why are you making this so
difficult?” he lamented. “I’m trying to keep you
trying to keep yourself safe,” Amy countered. “Trying to
make sure you don’t get put in a difficult position. Just go
back to your husband, Zapp, and tell him that if he wants me, I’m
right here.” Amy slumped down into a booth and stretched out on
the bench. She closed her eyes.
not going to do that, Amy. You know I won’t.” Kif looked
down at her helplessly. “I love you.”
opened her eyes and started to say something, but Kif had turned
away. When she finally managed to sit up he had vanished.
Fry reached the ship without running afoul of any of the Nimbus
landing parties, though there were a few close calls. The soldiers
didn’t appear to be enjoying their job as they scoured
half-heartedly and came up against vehement opposition from slave
robots who blamed them for the crippling poverty that had befallen
the industrial world. The DOOP men had their hands full dealing with
hurled projectiles and other robotic abuse – the cyclops and
the delivery boy were able to slip past unnoticed.
hadn’t been touched, evidently no thorough searches had been
conducted in the rundown section. Fry and Leela slipped into the
ruined warehouse and ascended the stair.
They were already shedding clothes before they reached the door to
pretty wonderful, you know that?” Fry said, running his hands
along her smooth bare skin.
you’re pretty cute,” Leela replied, pulling him down onto
was short on Port Botany, with the system’s second sun beating
the first to the horizon. Hard-edged light angled through the factory
lines and as one a horde of slave robots poured from their dens of
down-time to whatever work could still be found.
dim warmth of the Planet Express ship, two bodies lay naked and
entwined, sound asleep after a night of passion. A high-pitched chime
broke into their slumber, and Leela raised her head, glancing around
until she fixed on her wristamijig lying on the floor alongside her
discarded bra. Its alarm was flashing seven AM, local time.
reached down and killed it with a groan.
on, red,” she said to Fry, poking him in the ribs. “Time
to continue our undignified descent into the heart of criminality.”
we do it tomorrow?” Fry mumbled, his face full of Leela’s
all booked up with running for our lives from Galactic authorities.”
grunted. “Lousy Galactic authorities can bite my pasty hairy
disentangled herself from Fry’s limbs and slid from the bed.
Fry sat up and watched her dress, marvelling at her feline grace.
going to meet with Vassiliev,” she said, buckling her belt and
searching for a top. “I want you to find Bender and get him to
find his way to the town square by eleven – there’s gonna
be a little gathering in his honour, so while the DOOP and the
prefecture’s population are distracted we’ll be able to
move the goods onboard without arousing suspicion.” Leela
tossed Fry’s jeans at him.
Ma’am,” he said, pulling on the pants.
finished dressing and recovered the payment envelope and the card
that Drupev had given her. She considered repeating her instructions
to Fry, but decided it would be unnecessary. Instead she leaned over
and kissed him.
me back here when Bender’s all set – and bring Amy, we’ll
need her.” Fry nodded and watched her slip away. Then pulled on
his shirt and jacket and departed as well. He left the ship and made
his way out onto the street – Leela was nowhere to be seen.
Retracing their steps, he made his way back toward the bar; no
soldiers were around, having evidently exhausted their avenues the
passed the Bender statue, he couldn’t resist pausing to glance
up at it bemusement.
think they really captured him,” a nearby voice said,
“…captured his essence.”
think he looks angry,” Fry replied without looking away from
the statue, feeling a little premonitory dread as he recognised the
kind of what I meant,” Kif replied.
turned finally and looked at the little alien, not knowing what to
expect next. “Hi Kif,” he said uncertainly.
Kif said uncertainly. “I know why you’re here, and as you
can imagine it puts me in an… unfortunate position.” He
looked sad and slightly dishevelled, as though he’d not slept.
quiet,” the alien snapped. “Let me finish. I haven’t
told Zapp that you’re here, but it will only be a matter of
time before he discovers your presence. I tried to talk to Amy, but
she wouldn’t listen. Phillip, I want you to leave – take
my Amy and get away before something terrible happens.”
be gone by the end of the day,” Fry said.
may be too late!”
maybe you can do something to hold Zapp off.”
slumped his shoulders even further. “What do you think I should
do? Punch him, like you did? That won’t work for me, Phil…
I’m not… strong like you or… HIM.”
He gestured at the statue.
isn’t about throwing punches or getting statues built of you,”
Fry said. “It’s about taking the initiative, being
assertive and determined and not giving up.”
accepted this with a slight nod. “I can see I’m not going
to convince you,” he said. “Very well… I shall do
what I can.” He turned away. “One thing though…
please tell Amy for me… tell her that I’m sorry.”
be seeing her soon enough,” Fry said. “And hopefully then
you won’t have anything to be sorry for.”
walked away in the direction of the Nimbus, and Fry moved off toward
through several layers of fog into a body that ached all over and a
head that pounded. Someone was gently shaking her, and she almost
wanted to kick whoever it was in whatever soft patch of flesh that
presented itself. She opened her bleary eyes and found Fry leaning
over her looking concerned.
alright?” he asked.
think I threw up,” she muttered, noting the foul taste in her
mouth. She sat up with some difficulty and looked around the empty
ran into Kif outside,” Fry said. “Take it you guys had a
The night’s events came back to her and she buckled. “I
screwed up, didn’t I?” she said. “He’s gonna
lock us up, isn’t he?”
his head. “Have a little faith, Amy,” he said, helping
her out of the booth. “Leela needs you back at the ship, you up
nodded sagely. “Sorry, Fry,” she said. “Sorry about
nothing of it,” Fry said. “Alcohol makes fools of us all.
Like the time I got so drunk I tried to fight a post box… the
damn thing beat the crap out of me.”
that was funny.” Amy straightened herself out and moved away.
watched her leave and looked up when Bender emerged at the top of the
staircase with the two female robots on his arms.
the man with the coin brought his big boot down,
broken, wasted masses…
my ground, and shouted loud:
BITE OUR SHINY METAL ASSES!” Bender sang happily. “Okay –
the living legend needs some breakfast booze, oh hey there Fry, I
forgot you were around. How’s it goin’?”
Fry replied. “The living legend has a little appearance to
right. There’s a lot of heat around and this job’s gone
on well past too long.”
turned to the two floozy-bots. “Okay ladies, you can run along
now,” he said. “Got me some important hero-type stuff to
do.” The two robots peeled away reluctantly and Bender moved
down the stairs to Fry.
delivery boy gave Bender the rough outline of the plan.
that’s where the little ‘Bender’ celebration comes
in,” he finished. “Should give us enough time and cover
to get the shipment back onto the Planet Express ship.”
dunno,” Bender said dubiously. “I mean, do you think it’s
right that we should be using my fame to hoodwink folks like this?”
stared at the robot. “You must be joking,” he said,
really Fry,” Bender said. “I mean, maybe there’s
something to this… the slave-bots… I think I really
made a difference in their lives. ME, you know? Me, Bender B.
know your name, jerkwad.”
know they had a riot on my account?”
sighed and rubbed his forehead. “Just be in the town square by
eleven,” he said. “Get ready to bask in some ill-gotten
alright…” Bender grumbled. “Just let me freshen
up.” He disappeared upstairs and Fry walked out of the bar,
heading back toward the ship.
walking slouched-over with his hands in his pockets, and didn’t
notice a shape looming in an alleyway until it was almost upon him.
At the last instant the movement caught his eye and he threw an arm
up to protect himself from the swinging butt of a rifle. He caught
the blow on his elbow, and the force of it caused him to stumble,
then the assailant was on him, a fist cracking against his temple and
a boot looping behind his ankle and causing him to fall headlong onto
vision swam and he tasted blood. Pushing through the pain he rolled
over and aimed a strong kick upward, catching the one-eyed man in the
stomach. The bearded man was surprised by the sudden counter-attack,
and stumbled back from the kick, slightly winded. Fry took the
opportunity to surge to his feet and lunge at the stranger with fists
managed to connect two good blows that sent the bearded stranger
stumbling; but the man was tough, and swung the heavy rifle like a
club at waist level, hammering it into Fry’s side with a
sickening crunch. Fry fell again, feeling the familiar pinch of a
broken rib as he gasped painfully for breath.
the hell are you?” he rasped, struggling to get back to his
Gareth,” the stranger growled. “And that’s the last
question you ask me, boy.” With that he slammed his boot into
Fry’s face savagely, knocking him onto his back, then stooped
and grabbed one of his ankles, dragging him back into the alleyway
and out of sight.
struggled, trying to ignore the agonizing grind of broken bone in his
tell you run with a robot named Bender,” Gareth snarled,
looming over Fry.
Fry spat blood, noting one of his teeth was loose.
gonna take me to that dirty low-down faeces-processor.”
don’t know who you’re talking about,” Fry said,
trying to muster strength to tackle the madman. Before he could move,
Gareth kicked him in the stomach, further aggravating the broken rib
and causing Fry to double up in pain and gasp for breath.
spent the last seven years rottin’ in a concrete box and you’re
gonna lie to me?” Gareth demanded. “Now folks say you’re
part of Bender’s team, so you’re gonna tell old Gareth
where that no-good toaster’s hiding himself, or I’m gonna
kick all them pretty-boy looks right off your face.”
drew back his boot once more.
that’s how it’s going down,” Leela finished. “If
some of your men can move the stuff to our ship you’ll see the
money. Naturally we’ll need to inspect the goods, but otherwise
I can’t see a problem.”
stood across from her in an empty warehouse, surrounded by a number
of human and robot bodyguards, as well as Drupev. He was a
dark-skinned man in his fifties, weather-beaten and scarred. He
smiled thinly at Leela and inclined his bald head.
well,” he said at last. “I must say you have an unusual
way of conducting business, but not altogether ineffective. We’ll
meet you with the goods and you meet us with the money.”
doing business with you,” Leela replied. “See you at
eleven.” She turned and left the warehouse, and when she was
gone Vassiliev activated his wrist communicator. The little screen
showed static for a moment which was then replaced by the face of
has been made with the smugglers,” he told the DOOP Captain.
Mr. Vaseline,” Zapp applauded, mispronouncing the trader’s
name. “I trust you have their location?”
will have within a matter of hours,” Vassiliev promised. “After
that I hope the Democratic Order Of Planets will see fit to consider
my tender for a supply contract in a more favourable light?”
course, of course,” Brannigan said. “Your assistance will
not go unnoticed. Now, is there anything you can tell me about the
that their leader is a purple-haired cyclops with an enormous bust.”
face froze and he stared silently out from the little screen.
wrong, Captain?” Vassiliev asked.
the sound of opportunity knocking,” Zapp replied in a strange
tone of voice. “Contact me as soon as you have the location.”
The comm. link was severed and Vassiliev glanced around at his men.
use giving them up until we have our money,” he said and the
others laughed harshly.
made her way back to the Planet Express ship, Amy was sitting on the
steps waiting for her, but Fry was nowhere in sight.
our delivery-boy?” Leela asked, looking questioningly at the
Oh, I don’t know,” Amy replied distantly. “Trying
to get Bender to cooperate I guess.”
I thought he’d be back by now…” Leela noticed Amy
was looking despondent again, but decided not to press. She glanced
at her wrist thing and noted the time – 10:30. Half an hour
remained. She activated the ship’s cargo elevator, making it
descend to ground level, and then sat down beside Amy to wait.
grimy alleyway, Gareth sent another bone-jarring kick into Fry’s
he demanded for perhaps the hundredth time.
bone… yourself,” Fry mumbled through split and swollen
lips, dribbling blood onto the ground.
answer.” Gareth trod down hard on Fry’s hand, crunching
his fingers into the tarmac. Fry howled in pain and fury.
to the deranged torturer, a gathering of robots was forming down the
street. The town square was gradually filling with metal bodies, the
workers assembling as though in supplication beneath the looming
entered the bridge of the Nimbus he found it deserted except for Zapp
Brannigan. The Captain was seated in his command chair in a strange
state of immobile silence, with his back to Kif and his fingers
forgive the intrusion,” Kif said meekly. “I was wondering
if I could ask…”
her,” Zapp interrupted without turning.
Zapp replied, his voice uncharacteristically quiet. “She and
that orange-haired brute. They’re the smugglers. They’re
here, now. And soon I will have them in my grasp.” There was no
sense of victory in his tone, only something dark and malignant.
hearts hammered in his chest. “Perhaps it would be best if we
let this go,” he said.
swivelled his chair around slowly and fixed the Lieutenant with an
sir… I thought that considering Planet Express’s past
distinction in the service of the Democratic Order Of….”
your slimy little face!” Zapp snarled. “They’re
criminal scum! They will be made to pay – that HAIRPILE will
finally get what’s coming to him!” Zapp unconsciously
reached up to touch the false tooth he’d had implanted after
Fry had knocked the original out.
Kif was aghast, unable to think of anything to say.
I will pluck Leela away from those low-lives,” Zapp went on.
“She may not like it at first, but she will be by my side.
Either that or she will spend the rest of her life in prison.”
turned white. “But… my Amy is with them,” he said
narrowed his eyes and turned away. “My condolences,” he
deflated, and with nothing left to say, Kif turned and walked out,
Amy looked up when a group of men appeared through a break in the
wall, leading four hover-dollies laden with large steel crates.
Vassiliev and Drupev were in the lead, and they moved forward to meet
the two women.
containers of top-grade resonance capacitors and dark matter
distributors,” Vassiliev said.
mechanic will inspect the wares,” Leela said.
motioned Amy forward and the girl complied, walking past the men to
pop the lids on each container in turn and examine the components
inside. The others stood silently and watched until she’d
finished the task and flashed Leela a thumbs-up sign.
then,” Leela said, producing the payment envelope from inside
her tank top. “I guess this is where we part ways.”
took the envelope, tore it open, and quickly counted the contents.
“Right you are,” he said, gesturing to his men. They set
about moving the crates onto the PE ship’s cargo elevator and
disengaging the dollies. When they were finished they retreated
one-by-one. Vassiliev nodded at Leela and followed them without
Leela said, keying the cargo elevator to ascend back up into the
ship’s underbelly. “I’m breathing easy for the
first time in twenty-four hours. What say we go and collect the
Amy replied without enthusiasm.
on the street, Vassiliev activated his wrist communicator and
transmitted a set of coordinates to Zapp Brannigan’s DOOP email
account. Smiling thinly to himself and patting the wad of notes in
his pocket, he hurried away.
ground unit commander received the coordinate data direct from
Brannigan himself. The Captain appeared in a hologram projected from
the soldier’s communication device.
want them alive,” Zapp said. “Aside from that, their
condition isn’t important. Move out!”
sir,” the soldier said. And then, then the comm. link
terminated, he added: “Jackass.” He led his platoon out
from their hiding place between factories and they moved up the
street in a formation combat jog, laser rifles held at the ready.
moved toward the hiding place of the Planet Express ship, a lone
figure suddenly appeared in front of them, running at them and waving
his arms. The field commander called a halt and watched as Lieutenant
Kif Kroker approached breathlessly.
seems to be the problem, sir?” the soldier asked after
your orders,” Kif puffed. “We’re not moving on the
targets. You and your men can stand down. I’ll take
let me worry about that,” Kif said. “We will not touch
these people, alright?”
soldier stared at Kif for a few moments, and then shrugged and
nodded. “Okay men,” he called. “You heard the
Lieutenant – pack it in, we’re falling back!”
closed his eyes and rubbed a gloved hand over his smooth head, hoping
desperately that he’s bought enough time.
kneeled beside Fry and slapped him back into full consciousness.
no you don’t, boy,” he growled. “You’re gonna
be awake for all of this… you’re gonna feel it, just
like I felt it when that trash can dropped me; you’re gonna…”
He trailed off and stood slowly. A noise had caught his attention.
somewhere up the road a steady chanting had become audible. Over and
over a single name was being shouted by a chorus of robot voices.
Bender! Bender! Bender! Bender! Bender!”
socket of Gareth’s right eye twitched spasmodically as a toothy
grin spread across his face.
he hissed, then stooped to pull Fry up by the scruff of his jacket.
“Come on, boy – let’s go see your friend!”
Fry was unable to resist as the bearded criminal hauled him along.
stood in a ring of adoring acolytes, with his own statue standing
grand and tall behind him. The crowd of robots chanted his name over
and over and he waved to them all happily.
the guitarist stood forward and motioned for some modicum of order,
finally managing to quiet the crowd sufficiently for him to turn to
bender and shout:
back of the gathering, peering through the crush of metal bodies,
Leela and Amy watched in bemusement.
ought to be good,” Leela remarked wryly.
of public-speaking anxiety washed over Bender as the crowd gradually
hushed. He looked around at the rusty riveted faces and fidgeted
nervously, clearing his artificial throat.
not too good with words,” he said. “Don’t have much
use for ‘em myself. But uhh…” He looked up at the
statue of himself and back to the slave-bots. “I just want to
thank you all, for being here, and for thinking so much of me. The
way I see it, people like you folk have been stuck with the short end
of every stick that history’s ever thrown… but you took
that end and you made yourselves a life. You took it, and well…
I guess that’s something, isn’t it?” Bender nodded
to himself and after a beat the robots began shouting righteous
affirmations that gradually rose into fully-fledged cheering.
Amy said, looking stunned. “That actually didn’t sound
know,” Leela replied. “I’m quite shocked…”
the crack of a positron blast ripped through the air, and the
cheering turned into screaming as the crowd panicked and ducked down.
Slowly a passage was formed through the throng as a man limped
through the robotic mass, with a rifle levelled from the hip and a
limp form being dragged behind him.
craned her neck to see, and gasped in horror when she realized the
gunman was dragging a badly-beaten Fry.
looked into the spreading gap in the crowd and narrowed his eyes in
he said. “You survived.”
hey there Bender!” Gareth shouted, waving the gun around.
“Thought I might make you watch while I butcher me one of your
boys!” He tossed Fry forward onto the tarmac with a thump.
looked down at his friend’s prostrate form. “That ain’t
one of mine,” he lied.
snorted and glanced down sceptically at the bloody figure. Off to the
side, Leela pushed through the crowd with Amy behind her and paused,
looking on in horror as the bearded gunman stood over Fry.
chuckled mirthlessly. “So where you been hiding, Gareth?”
I see you went and got yourself mighty hideous-lookin’.”
sure did.” Gareth stepped past Fry and walked slowly toward
Bender while the crowd looked on.
dashed to Fry’s side, kneeling beside him and lifting his head.
Baby?” she said anxiously, staring at his bruised and bloody
Fry said weakly, trying to see through a pair of swollen eyes.
what’s this I been hearing about a ‘hero of Botany’?”
Gareth shouted at Bender, ignoring the others now. “Seven years
in lock-up can play tricks on the ears, but not the eyes, and what
have we here? I do declare there appears to be a statue of you
looking at me like I owe him something. You wanna tell me what this
hero stuff’s all about?”
looked around at the frightened eyes of the crowd, and then back to
no hero, Gareth,” he said solemnly. “I’m just a
working-class stiff like you.”
Gareth into a fit of bitter cackling. “Welll, yessir, now that
IS funny,” he said, and then turned to address the assembled
crowd of robots. “It’s true though, he’s right,
Bender’s right. In fact we actually used to work together, he
looked around uncomfortably at the slave-bots. Leela had helped Fry
to his feet and he broke away from her to hobble unsteadily forward,
fists clenched, ready to tackle Gareth from behind. Leela moved to
stop him, but before she could, Gareth swung around and brought the
barrel of his rifle up to poke against Fry’s forehead.
you just let old Gareth speak his bit,” Gareth snarled quietly.
Fry raised his hands and backed off.
on then,” he said with a small nod. Leela took him in her arms
and drew him back to safety.
turned back to Bender and raised his voice loud so the whole
gathering of robots could hear.
was a whole lot of money in the supervisor’s safe, wasn’t
there Bender?” he said, grinning savagely as he turned again to
address the surrounding robots. “Got away relatively clean too,
but then our transport took a hit and we were goin’ down. Only
weight we had to shed was him, me, and the money! And there was no
way he was gonna drop that money…”
he did!” Gallows shouted indignantly, stepping forward from the
crowd. “He dropped it on the slaves!”
ACCIDENT, you rusted lump o’ clockwork!” Gareth screamed.
“He tossed ME off first! We worked together for six months and
he turned on me in the blink of my missing right eye!”
have done the same,” Bender said quietly.
Gareth said. “No, not ever. Yer s’posed to PROTECT the
man you’re with. You watch his BACK. Everyone knows that…
‘cept a cold-hearted machine. Except the Goddamned ‘hero
was deathly silent.
stood motionless. “You gonna talk me to death, buddy?” he
said in resignation. “Is that the plan?”
Gareth aimed the positron rifle at Bender. “THIS is the plan.”
echoed across the square.
forward, Gallows threw himself in front of Bender and took the bolt
of plasma square in his casing. As the guitarist robot fell smoking
to the ground, Bender leapt forward with a shout of rage and swung
his right arm around, detaching it from his body at the apex of the
swing so that it came loose and sailed through the air.
Gareth could squeeze off another shot, Bender’s disembodied arm
hit him in the face and, operating autonomously, wrapped itself
around his head. He screamed as the metal limb constricted like a
python, crushing his nose and covering his eye. He dropped his gun
and scrabbled frantically to get it off.
slammed him hard in the chest and he fell onto his back. The robot
arm released him and he looked up to see Bender standing over him
with rage glowing from his eyes. He reached down with his remaining
arm and grabbed Gareth by the throat, hauling him up and lifting him
into the air. The bearded criminal struggled and choked, his face
turning beet red as impossibly-strong robotic claws clamped down on
his windpipe. After a minute of frantic struggling, Gareth’s
stilled, and Bender unceremoniously dropped the body in a limp heap
at his feet.
away from the dead man and hurried over to where Gallows lay with
smoke still wafting from the charred hole in his chest.
up, you stupid piece of junk!” Bender yelled, kneeling by the
robot and shaking him. “Come on – get up!!”
was still; his optical sensors dim. Bender hung his head. The small
child robot from the bar edged forward from the crowd and reverently
picked up Bender’s right arm.
you go and do a thing like that for?” Bender sobbed, still
staring down at Gallows ruined body, but the dead robot had no
answers for him. “What’s wrong with you? Didn’t you
hear what he said? I’m a dumb, mean bastard.” He stood up
shakily. “…and you don’t get yourself shot for a
dumb bastard, you dumb bastard.”
back to the crowd who were all staring at him in complete silence.
you people!” Bender shouted, pointing at them. “You
really think someone’s just gonna drop gold on you? Gold that
they could use themselves? There’s no people like that, not in
the whole Universe – there’s only people like ME.”
After a moment, the small child robot approached him holding out his
detached arm, offering it back to him. Bender snatched the arm out of
the kid’s hands and reattached it. The child backed away, still
looking at Bender with awe.
helps anybody,” Bender said. “That’s the way of
things. You just gotta help yourselves.” He turned around and
looked at the statue. Without pausing he stepped up onto the plinth
and planted his hands on the statue’s legs, putting his weight
against it. Getting a firm footing beneath him he heaved at it,
straining his servomotors. The metal of the Bender statue creaked and
began to give way, before finally it cracked at the ankles and was
dragged down by its own weight, crashing to the ground in a cloud of
stepped down from the now-empty plinth and moved to his friends. He
looped an arm under Fry’s shoulder to help Leela move him, and
together they made their way out, past the crowds of robots who
watched them with silent unreadable faces.
back to the ship was slow, and it was made without conversation;
Bender lost in his own personal hell and the others unwilling to
intrude. When they finally reached the PE ship’s and climbed
the stairs, Bender disappeared into the cargo hold. Amy took a moment
to pull off the camouflage netting before she too embarked.
get off this rock,” Fry mumbled, nursing his wounds.
second that,” Leela replied.
are they?” Zapp bellowed, hammering a fist into the arm of his
chair. “Why haven’t they been brought in yet?”
ensigns and officers had resumed their places on the bridge and
looked uncomfortable in the presence of Brannigan’s rage. Kif
walked in and took his place behind Zapp’s right shoulder.
the ensigns spun around in alarm.
leaving, Sir!” she said, looking alarmed. “The smuggler
vessel is lifting off!”
the hell?!” Zapp leaned forward. “What happened to my
called them off, sir,” Kif said calmly.
turned on him, his face red. “You WHAT!?”
returned his glare serenely and said nothing.
traitorous little reptile!” Zapp spat. “I should tear
that smug look off your damn face – how dare you defy me!?”
He dismissed the alien with a wave of his hand and turned to the
helmsman. “Take off – pursue them!” he said.
Kif shouted, and Zapp looked at him in amazement. “We’re
not chasing them.”
helmsman looked confused, glancing back and fourth between Zapp and
said take off and pursue!” Zapp all-but screamed, without
taking his eyes off Kif. “I’m the Captain – you do
as I command!”
helmsman complied, and a deep reverberation filled the giant warship
as it lifted slowly off the planet surface.
weapons!” Zapp shouted. “Blast them out of the sky! If I
can’t have her, then she can burn!”
you can’t do that!” Kif cried. The crew watched the
battle of wills in breathless anticipation.
can do whatever I want! I’m a Starship Captain!”
Planet Express ship ascended through the strata of thick polluted
atmosphere, a massive shape rose up behind it, closing the distance.
The Nimbus broke through a cloud layer and grew into a massive wall
that loomed behind the little green freighter.
looked at the rear radar and cried out in alarm. “Oh no –
it’s the Nimbus!” she said. “They’re on our
Chou wang ba dan!” Amy exclaimed, staring at her console.
“They’re preparing to fire their weapons! Oh Kif…
on,” Leela said through gritted teeth. “This might get
fire!” Zapp yelled, pointing at the little green ship on the
Kif countered, shouting louder than he’d ever shouted before.
The bridge crew didn’t know what to do.
surged forward with insane eyes and slammed his fist into Kif’s
stomach, causing him to double over with an explosion of expelled
listen to this traitor!” Zapp snarled, spittle flying from his
mouth. “Shoot them down – now! I’m in charge!”
anymore!” Kif wheezed, straightening with difficulty. “Captain…
Zapp Brannigan – for attempting to destroy a civilian
spacecraft… without warning or proper provocation… I am
hereby relieving you of command.”
can’t do that!”
can… and am,” Kif said. “Like I should have a long
time ago.” Kif pointed at the two soldiers stationed at the
door. “Airmen, escort the Captain to the brig,” he said.
The two soldiers happily complied, hurrying forward and placing the
shocked Zapp in restraints.
filthy little worm…” Zapp said, incredulous, as he was
led away. “I’ll see you hanged for this. YOU HEAR ME,
ignored the continued shouts as the soldiers pulled Zapp out of the
bridge and away. He breathed out a long breath and rubbed his belly
where the fist imprint was slowly fading.
off pursuit,” he told the crew finally. “Weapons safe.
Log the smuggling vessel as unidentified.”
female ensign glanced at Kif questioningly. “But sir,”
she said, “we have the ship’s registration code. We know
who they are.”
looked at her tiredly. “How would you like to become my new
Officer in Charge of Shutting-the-Hell-Up?” he asked. The
ensign took his meaning and nodded, registering the vessel as an
reluctance, Kif lowered himself into the command chair, wondering how
long he would remain there. On the forward screen he watched the
Planet Express ship continue off into orbit and then further into
deep space. He sighed in relief.
falling back!” Leela exclaimed. “I don’t
understand… they had us dead in their sights, now they’ve
abandoned the pursuit.
Kiffy!!” Amy shrieked happily, jumping up and clapping her
hands. “He did it! He did it!”
his injuries, Fry had to smile knowingly to himself. “Way to
go, little green dude,” he said weakly.
accelerated past conventional lightspeed and beyond, sending the
stars into elongated spears of light that streaked past. She then
engaged the autopilot and moved to Fry, looking at his battered face
get you fixed up,” she said softly, taking him by the hand.
“Amy, take the helm.”
already slipping into the Captain’s chair, a huge smile on her
face. Fry and Leela moved into the access passage and on toward the
medibay, but Fry stopped when he saw Bender sitting at the end of the
hallway with his back to them, dangling his legs over the ledge at
the top of the cargo hold.
Leela a look, and she nodded. Together they walked the length of the
passage and sat down on either side of the robot. Bender’s
expression was blank as he stared absently into space. His two
friends remained silent, giving him time, ready to listen.
doesn’t make sense,” Bender said at last, sadly. “Why’d
he do that? Why the hell’d that robot go and do that, jump in
front of that blast? Why for me?”
didn’t know what to say, so she put a hand on his shoulder. Fry
looked at the floor.
wasn’t one of them that understood what happened out there,”
Bender went on. “Hell, they’re probably sticking that
stupid statue right back up.”
Leela agreed, rubbing his shoulder comfortingly.
don’t know why that eats at me so much…”
out a long sigh and cringed when his broken rib pinched. “Way I
see it, Bender,” he said quietly, “probably every guy in
history who ever got a statue made of him was some kind of bastard or
another. But it’s not about them, just like it’s not
about you. It’s about the people. It’s about what they
moments passed, and the three friends sat in silence with only the
hum of the ship’s engines.
Bender gave a little grunt. “Don’t make no sense,”
he said miserably.
little green starship winged its way through interstellar space,