“Let’s show them what a bloated, runaway military budget can do.”
The Clandestine Galaxy
Space and all its vastness were relatively quiet. No one had dared enter the small galaxy for millennia, for one simple reason; no one had come back out again. The few who had managed to find the Clandestine Galaxy and begin explorations had either gotten lost, crashed, or ran out of food and resorted to cannibalism. Thus the galaxy was left alone—no one wanted to eat the ones they traveled with. Those who knew the ones who had ventured there called the place cursed, everyone else, who didn’t know about it said, “Eh? What Clandestine Galaxy? Is it near Space Earth?”
So when a massive, darkly colored fleet of starships entered the galaxy, no one was there to notice. No one was there to see the starships navigate through the galaxy until they found a star system with nine planets, no one saw the aliens of the starships disembark on one of the planets; no one witnessed the beginning of a new civilization.
The Callanians, the aliens who’d dared come to the Clandestine Galaxy, had previously inhabited a planet that’s close proximity to a growing black hole had lead to its untimely demise. Finding themselves penniless, stuck with each other on starships, and without a home, the Callanians turned to the extremely cheap Clandestine Galaxy, and its hoard of cursed, noxious, and uninhabitable star systems. After purchasing their star system for the small amount of 1000 atoms of Jumbonium and settling on four of the nine planets, the Callanians began to rebuild their civilization and it wasn’t long before they were thriving again. Yes they thrived; thrived, bickered, and waged war on each other daily.
On the seventh planet orbiting the Callanian sun, hidden within a rugged mountain range, a great obsidian tower spiraled up into a deep, indigo night. Lit by only three iridescent moons; one full, one waning, and one crescent, the tower is silent; no covert operations are to take place this night. The only movement is the occasional shuffle of feet; a few bored guards paced around their posts and wished for their shifts to end.
There! A flash of white light shattered the indigo night. The guards stared up lazily at the grayish streak that had broken the tranquility of the night for a moment before they realized what it was and hastily they jumped into action to receive the tiny, single-man starship that landed. They stumbled and shoved each other out of the way, eager to be the first and not the last—the laziest, the punishable—to great the visitor.
“What is your business here?” The first guard to reach the visitor elbowed one of his fellows harshly in the stomach.
“I believe the one you call ruler of this tower is expecting me.” Poison dripped off the small, cute guest’s words. “And I think you should take me to him so I can complete my business with him and get on my way.”
“He must be the Nibblonian.” The guard whispered loudly to the second guard—the one he’d just elbowed.
“No kidding dingus. Who else could it be?” The second guard rubbed his stomach.
The Nibblonian glared with all three of his eyes at the guards. “I am the Nibblonian. Now take me to the ruler of this dismal place so I complete our business and leave.”
The first guard looked the cute native of planet Eternium up and down for a moment before responding. “Very well. Follow me.” Signaling to his fellow guards the guard led them and the Nibblonian into the tower. The odd group walked past the now empty guard posts and entered the tower through two wide, steel doors. Once inside they were greeted by the meager heat given off by eerie green torches placed on either side of the entrance of the tower. The guard led the Nibblonian past these without a blink of an eye and to an enclosed spiral staircase that winded its way up the core of the tower. The Nibblonian noticed, as he and the guards ascended, there were small windows placed at regular intervals on the staircase’s outer wall. One peak through one of these windows revealed a huge hangar terminal teeming with cargo ships, warships, and smuggler ships of all shapes and sizes. The Nibblonian gulped, he knew the Callanians were powerful, but never before had he seen the full extent of their power and what he saw through the windows scared him.
After eons ticked by in a matter of minutes and miles of walking upward the guards and the Nibblonian reached a door near the top of the tower. The first guard hesitated outside a door built in the same fashion as the main doors of the tower, almost afraid to knock. Right as he lifted his hand to do the deed, a gravely voice on the other side of the door spoke.
“Let the Nibblonian enter. The rest of you, return to your posts immediately.”
The guard pushed the door open for the Nibblonian before backing away down the stairs. Running his paw over the back of his neck Ken entered a well-lit, under-furnished chamber. Standing with his back to the door was a tall figure wearing a charcoal colored cloak.
“Do you have the price I specified?”
The Nibblonian took out a small, ancient-looking scroll from his robe. “I have brought as you wished. Now where is Fiona?”
The Callanian turned around; acid green eyes bore into the Nibblonian. “She is being brought here as we speak. Now let me see the scroll.” He stepped forward and reached to take the scroll from the Nibblonian.
The ancient, cute alien stepped back and held the scroll out of the Callanian’s reach. “I will give it to you when I see Fiona and we are well off this planet of yours.”
The Callanian Lord stepped back and nodded slowly. “As you wish.” I have waited this long. I can’t afford to lose it all just because of a Nibblonian’s insolence. “It’s a pity, our two races, perhaps the oldest races in the universe had to meet in such un agreeable terms.
Time passed in silence. The Callanian Lord paced around the chamber, his eyes never leaving Ken and his scroll for a second. The Nibblonian meanwhile stood completely lost in thought, oblivious to the Callanian Lord’s glare.
Finally, after what felt like a millennia to both Nibblonian and Callanian, a loud rap echoed through the chamber,
“Enter.” The Callanian Lord’s eyes never left Ken.
The door slowly creaked open and a guard and Fiona in handcuffs entered. The guard pulled Fiona’s chains taut, dragging her to the center of the room.
“As you requested.” The guard addressed the Callanian Lord before he hastily left.
Ken rushed forward to help Fiona up from where she’d fallen. “Are you hurt? Were you treated badly?”
“I’m fine. But Ken, what did you promise to give him—?”
“Enough!” The Callanian Lord took a sweeping step toward the Nibblonians. “I kept my end of the deal.” He glared at Ken “Now give me the scroll.”
Ken glared at the Callanian Lord before leaving Fiona and walking over to hand the scroll to the acid-eyed alien. Then the Nibblonian backed away, slowly he returned to Fiona. When he reached her, he grabbed her arm and tugged her out of the chamber and down the spiraling stairs that he had come up, and out to his awaiting starship.
Meanwhile the Callanian Lord stood transfixed, holding the scroll. Finally, finally I will have the answers I need. Slowly he undid the ribbon holding the scroll and his acid green eyes read words that were never meant for anyone but the Nibblonians. His eyes widened, the Callanian inhaled deeply. This changes everything. He walked over to a videophone sitting unnoticed in the corner of the room and dialed a number. After a couple minutes a figure surrounded by a tropical background appeared on the screen.
“Yes?” The figure’s voice was full of static.
“I hear you are in quite a lot of debt.” The Callanian Lord stated.
“So? What are you getting at, Julian?”
“Never call me that. That is no longer my name.” The Callanian Lord spat. “I heard you were in debt and I have a job that might interest you.”
The figure crossed him arms. “What kind of job are we talking about?”
“What kind do you think?” Julian raised his eyebrow “Have you ever heard of the Mighty One?”
“That urban legend cocked up by the Nibblonians? Don’t tell me you actually believe he exists.” The figure snorted. “Those cute gerbils just created him to frighten the rest of us.”
“What would you say if I said I have proof of his existence? And that I know what his exact location will be in a day or so?” Julian raised an eyebrow at the figure.
Well. Well. So you’re saying he’s the target? What kind of payment are you willing to give? I am in debt after all.” The figure paused, static pixilating his image on the Callanian Lord’s videophone for a moment. “And how do you know where he’ll be anyway?”
“I’m going to have a package delivered.” Julian looked at his nails as if his answer explained everything. “The first part of your payment is that package. The rest will come later. I don’t want the Mighty One, if we take him the Nibblonians won’t hesitate in attacking. Someone close to him—the closest person you can get—will do just fine. I’ll send you the coordinates.” He cut off the transmission. Then the Callanian Lord looked down at the scroll and the few words scribbled off to the side of the main text. Earth. New New York City. Planet Express. Philip J. Fry.
“You gave him WHAT?!”
Fiona’s yell reverberated around the Hall of Eternity. After leaving the Clandestine Galaxy behind, Ken and her had rushed back to their home planet where Ken finally revealed what he had traded Fiona for. Now the Nibblonian was regretting that decision, as Fiona would probably put his head on a platter for the next feast.
“Its just one scroll. He can’t do much damage with just it.” Ken stumbled through his words. “It doesn’t even say who the Mighty One is, just that he exists. And saving you was much more important.”
Fiona glared at her fellow Nibblonian. “Saving me isn’t as important as protecting the Mighty One! He’s the savior of the universe! And I’m . . . I’m me. Nibbler scribbled Fry’s location and identity on the corner of the scroll when we first suspected that he was the Mighty One, no one ever bothered to remove it because no one thought anyone would be so stupid as just to hand the scroll over to a potentially dangerous person!”
Ken gulped. The realization of how drastic his actions had been finally dawned on him. The Nibblonians had protected the Mighty One and kept his identity a secret for years lest anyone meant him harm. Then in one fell swoop; Ken had given one of the most dangerous aliens in the universe the Mighty One’s location and identity.
“I just . . .” Ken began. “I thought you were more important that one measly scroll. I didn’t think of the possible consequences of giving the Callanian the scroll.”
Psst! Grainy white noise flashed on the Nibblonian’s videophone for a moment before Nibbler standing on the table of the Planet Express conference room table appeared on the screen.
“Greetings Ken. Fiona.” The Nibblonian on Earth addressed the two on Eternium.
Both Ken and Fiona gulped.
In another part of the universe the fabled Mighty One travels to a distant planet on a mission, a mission to deliver a package.
The purple-haired Cyclops involuntarily groaned before she pressed a few buttons, resetting the Planet Express ship’s trajectory to leave the earth’s atmosphere.
Humming to herself, the Cyclops inspected her nails, and then drew her fingers through her long ponytail. He’ll give up in a minute.
Or not. The Cyclops pushed herself up from her chair at the helm of the ship, walked over to the navigational controls and inspected them.
“Leela!” A redhead in his late twenties entered the bridge. “Why haven’t you answered me?”
Leela walked to the other side of the bridge, inspected the torpedo launcher, ran her fingers across the controls, and refused to look up at the redhead or acknowledge his presence.
“You’re still made about it?” Fry’s arms slapped his sides. “It was only a joke. It didn’t hurt anyone.”
The Cyclops looked up at Fry just long enough to give him a menacing glare before returning to the helm to steer the ship.
“It was Bender’s idea!”
Fry’s last feeble attempt to gain a reply out of his purple-haired captain went unheard. Sighing, he left the bridge and returned to his and Bender’s quarters.
Leela breathed a sigh of relief when Fry had finally gone. Without thinking she pushed herself up and walked across the bridge to a large pile of Slurm cans Fry had shoved hastily in the corner. The Cyclops picked up one of the cans of addicting soda, opened it, and drained it in one gulp—something she never did—or ever thought to do, chugging Slurm and ruining his health was Fry’s thing.
Crushing the soda can in her grip, Leela returned to the captain’s seat. Well, chugging Slurm had been Fry’s thing, Fry’s thing all up to two days ago. Then everything changed and Leela no longer found the soda so repulsive.
Two days ago. Two days ago she had been repairing the Planet Express ship after yet another failed peace mission to Omicron Persei 8. Two days ago she’d been wondering if Nixon would ever understand that the Omicronians would never accept peace with Earth. Two days ago everything had been normal. Then Fry and Bender had played a disasterous prank on her . . . Leela shook her head; she had been trapped in a virtual dream world for three hours. Three hours. And wingus and dingus wanted her to forgive them? After she thought she had been running for her life from space bees, giant brains, and robotic dinosaurs all at once.
Leela tossed her crumpled Slurm can back toward the pile of full cans. She had almost forgiven Fry and Bender for accidentally trapping her within a virtual world, but then it had started. It being the stabbing pain she felt in her gut. It had started that night, after the professor had managed to draw her out of the virtual world. The pain had been just a small nuisance at first, nothing big, but as the night drew on it had grown and grown and grown until it threatened to consume her completely. Then when Leela decided she could not take any more of it, when she became ok with the thought of dying, the pain stopped. It simply stopped. She remembered lying in bed for hours and waiting for the pain to return, but it hadn’t. It was gone—completely gone. Leela remembered getting out of bed and moving to the bathroom, where she promptly vomited twice. It was at that point she could no longer forgive Fry and Bender; their prank had forced her into a vulnerable state of powerlessness.
“Of all the ships from the planet, Earth I think this one is one of the finest.” A low, deep voice spoke from a shadow in the corner of the bridge.
Leela jumped up and spun toward the corner, fists raised. “Who’s there?!” Her glare searched the shadow but found no one.
“Yes, definitely one of the finest earthling ships I’ve seen.” A tall alien wearing the apparel that one usually saw on a bounty hunter stepped out of the shadows. “Then again, I haven’t ridden in very many of Earth’s ships and I can hardly count the holding cells of the ship of that ass, Brannigan.” He looked at Leela and for the first time she was able to see his eyes; one was green, the other brown.
“Who’re you? And how’d you get on my ship?” Leela braced herself to fight. Damn! I am not in the mood for this!
The alien looked at his nails “Who I am or how I got here are trivial things and do not matter in the slightest . . . But if it comforts you” he lifted up a small black device. “I used this transporter to teleport myself onto your ship. Which might I say again, is one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of being in.”
Leela didn’t reply, but kept her eye trained on the black transporter as she reached behind her back to retrieve a laser gun she always kept on her body. Her hand had closed around the gun’s cold hilt and she slowly lifted it up behind her back. Softly the safety on the gun clicked and Leela felt it begin to warm up in her hand.
A grin played across the bounty hunter’s lips. “What? Silent now? After you were so full of questions? Don’t you want to know why I traveled halfway across the universe just to meet you?”
“Me?” Leela hesitated. “What could you possibly want with me?”
“Everything my dear, everything.” The bounty hunter walked up to stand directly in front of Leela, so close that they were nearly touching. The Cyclops shivered at the bounty hunter’s closeness and involuntarily took a step back.
“Listen you— Why are you here? What do you want with me?” The purple-haired Cyclops snarled.
“I want nothing to do with you. Its my boss who does.”
Leela opened her mouth to respond, but before she could say anything her world fell to darkness.
Sighing, Fry flopped down on his hammock. After his last attempt to get Leela to talk to him, not sure of what else he could do, the delivery boy returned to his and Bender’s quarters. Fry sighed, wishing—not for the first time that he hadn’t gone along with Bender’s idea to prank Leela with the hologram device the professor told them specifically to stay away from.
Fry rolled over on his side and reminisced about two days before. He, Leela, and Bender had returned from yet another ill-fated mission of peace to Omicron Persei 8. Fry wondered why Leela didn’t just order Lrrr, the ruler of the Omicron Persei 8, to give in to Earth’s peace demands. She’d had no problems with bossing the Omicronian around when Ndnd kicked him out of their castle and he’d crashed on Planet Express’s lounge couch. But now Lrrr was back with Ndnd, and the Omicronian queen wouldn’t let anyone but herself boss Lrrr around. Especially not Leela . . . maybe that was why the Planet Express ship had been shot in to a more crippled state than usual by the Omicronian warships, Ndnd resented Leela and her relationship with Lrrr. Fry shrugged and turned over on his back. Whatever the reason the Omicronians had shot at the Planet Express crew; they still had shot, and Leela still had to pull one of her quick escapes.
When the crew had returned to the Planet Express HQ, Leela had immediately forced Fry and Bender into doing the necessary repairs. Of which the delivery boy and bending robot had abandoned ten minutes later when their purple-haired captain hadn’t been looking.
Snickering to themselves, the two friends had gone up into the tower room, where they had found and played with some of the professor’s old and unstable inventions. After turning Fry’s nose green and enlarging Bender’s head, Bender had brought forth an old hologram projector that claimed holograms 99% better than the next guy’s. Once Fry and Bender successfully recreated Morgan Proctor, Bender’s golden counterpart from Universe B, and Frankie from Hal Institute for Criminally Insane Robots, they decided to put their newfound power to good use. They decided to prank Leela.
The prank was a simple one; just a hologram of a space bee that would fly up behind and scare Leela. It would go off without a hitch—or so Fry and Bender thought. They had created the space bee and taken it to the hangar where Leela was doing repairs. They had watched as the bee approached Leela and the Cyclops swing a wrench at it. They witnessed the wrench somehow getting stuck in the hologram and Leela being dragged into a virtual world through the hologram. Fry remembered it had taken three hours to retrieve the Cyclops from the world created by the hologram connecting to the wrench. He remembered the lecture the professor had given him and Bender about how they were not allowed to touch his old inventions that he didn’t even know what was wrong with.
Fry sat up on his hammock and stared glumly at his hands. He’d been hopeful he could amend things with Leela when Bender had to suddenly attend to his ailing great aunt and couldn’t go on the mission. But the Cyclops had refused to talk to the delivery boy since they’d taken off.
Maybe if I . . . Fry stood up. Maybe if he tried to talk to Leela one more time she would listen to him. Maybe if he tried to explain things. Tell her it was an accident. The delivery boy started walking toward the bridge. It was worth a shot, he had nothing else to lose.
“Leela I—” Fry started when he entered the bridge, but a heavy hand clamped itself firmly over the delivery boy’s mouth. Drowziness overcame Fry and his world fell to darkness.
The bounty hunter looked down at the Cyclops and redhead lying on the floor before him. The redhead—the Mighty One would a take a light nap and wake up feeling a little dizzy. The other one, the Cyclops—her sleep would be longer; she was the one he would take back to Callania 7. The Callanian had set the bounty for not the Mighty One--but someone close, and that was the Cyclops.
Carefully the bounty hunter stepped over the two sleeping bodies. There was one more thing he had to collect before teleporting back to his ship, the first part of his payment. The package. Once he had tracked and retrieved the small box from the cargo bay, the bounty hunter hefted the slumbering Leela over his shoulder and teleported off the Planet Express ship.
Planet Express HQ, New New York City
Sunshine delicately glowed in through the bay window off to one side of the lounge. Everything was relatively quiet and peaceful; a bureaucrat, a robot, and a decapodian sat on a yellowing lounge couch watching TV. For once nothing was exploding. All was well.
Everything changed when the small, three-eyed alien pushed himself into the lounge. No one noticed his entry, no one ever did—he was just too small. The Nibblonian gazed around the lounge, his eyes falling on the trio on the couch. Then, slowly, he made his way over to the couch.
Nibbler rubbed the back of his neck, trying to calm his nerves. Its not like you haven’t done this many times before. This wasn’t the first time the universe had been in danger of being destroyed; there had been the attacks of the brainspawn and Bender’s time sphere paradoxes ripping open Yivo’s anomaly. Thinking about it, Nibbler realized he had become extremely experienced in warning the Planet Express crew that certain doom was coming.
The Nibblonian gulped before he pulled himself up onto the coffee table next to the couch. He cleared his throat and prepared to pontificate.
“Nibbler! Get your furry butt off the table! I can’t see the TV!” Before Nibbler could begin Hermes shoved the Nibblonian to the side, nearly knocking him off the table. Only the Nibblonian’s quick dive to the side stopped him from being shoved completely off the table.
Brushing himself off, Nibbler began again “I have—”
“Amy, turn the TV up higher. I can’t here Calculon over this runt.” Bender jerked his thumb at Nibbler.
“No wait. I have—”
“Monique, my love, tell me what has become of my son?”
“Oh Calculon, its horrible—”
“I’m telling you I have important—!”
“Turn it up higher.” Bender commanded. “I still can’t here Calculon.”
Amy turned the volume up and soon anything Nibbler said was drowned out by the blare of the TV.
“My son, Monique! What has become of my son?”
“I . . . I don’t remember.”
Nibbler opened then closed his mouth. I have to warn them! Fry—all of them are in grave danger! It could be the end of the universe! And they want to watch TV! The Nibblonian paced the length of the table. He was getting nowhere slowly. Nibbler looked up at the three members of Planet Express watching TV; maybe if they wouldn’t listen the other members of the Planet Express crew would. The Nibblonian jumped off the coffee table; Ken and Fiona had warned him of the danger of the Callanian Lord, now he had to get that warning to Fry—trying to relay the message to Bender, Hermes, and Zoidberg was impossible.
“We interrupt All My Circuits to bring you breaking news from just outside earth’s atmosphere.”
Directly after Nibbler left the lounge, a news report abruptly cut off All My Circuits.
“Starship travel turned more dangerous than usual today when an unmoving starship caused accident after accident. We now go live to our station just outside of earth.”
The screen cut away from Linda in the Root 2 News station to Morbo, in a space station, standing in front of a window that portrayed a massive amount of crashed starships.
“Linda, today a simple starship abandonment on the main thoroughfare out of earth turned to disaster when ship after ship swerved to avoid the stopped starship and crashed into each other. All attempts to communicate with the stopped starship failed. (An image of Smitty and URL standing before a broad window looking out at a green starship came on the screen; Smitty feverishly talked into a small hand radio attached to URL.) Eventually the starship was seized and boarded; the only one aboard was a puny delivery boy, at the time unconscious. There was no sign of the ship’s captain or any other member of the crew.”
“Hey! It’s that ship that’s always in the news.” Bender waved his beer at the TV and looked at Hermes and Zoidberg. “Y’now the one run by that crazy old guy.”
Hermes, who’d been staring off into space, glanced at the TV.
“That’s the Planet Express ship ye good for nothing robot!”
“Yeah that one.” Bender gulped half his bottle of beer.
“That’s our ship.” Hermes glared at the bending robot.
Before Bender could reply, Nibbler reentered the lounge, after successfully finding Amy and the professor.
“Grave danger you say . . .”
“So what you’re trying to tell us is that Fry is the Mighty One, the only one who can save the universe from its premature demise. And that currently he is in danger because you Nibblonians gave information concerning him to one of his worst enemies.” Hermes crossed his arms and looked down at Nibbler. “Why should we believe you?”
“Because it’s the truth! I have warned you many a time of the impending doom the universe is in. Tell me when was I wrong?” Nibbler looked up desperately at Hermes, before turning to the professor, Amy, and Bender in turn.
“If someone trying to kill Fry is the end of the universe than we have nothing to worry about. Because I’ve hunted down and tried to kill Fry a few times and let me tell you, its not easy. The meatbag just won’t die.” Bender leaned back in his chair. “I tried stalking, I tried haunting, and nothing works on him.”
Nibbler sighed. “This foe is a greater threat than you. He will succeed.”
“Greater than me, Bender?! Impossible!”
Nibbler looked around at the Planet Express crew; he needed to hurry things up. The Callanian could strike at any moment. He needed to get Fry to safety . . . but where was Fry?
This just in, that starship that caused havoc on Earth’s main thoroughfare has just been identified as the Planet Express Delivery Company ship owned by Professor Hubert Farnsworth. His “uncle” Philip J. Fry was the only one on board the starship at the time of its frozenness and is held completely responsible for all the damage done during that three-hour period. Turning to other news . . .
The long forgotten TV that no one bothered to turn off filled the silence with the ending of a news report and an answer to one Nibblonian’s question.
Fry was in great danger indeed. He wasn’t rich enough to get away with all the damage he had supposedly done.
Deep space—Not quite deep enough to be deepest space
Two starships hovered side by side; close enough to be connected by a slim tube, but far enough to rip apart from each other should trouble arise. A lone figure waited by the entrance to the tube of the ship on the left. He stood tall, sickly golden hair fell in thick dreadlocks to his shoulders, and his two acid green eyes watched the broad-shouldered alien come through the tube.
“Julian Jerome Antony III, Lord of Callania 7.”
“You give yourself airs you do not have, hunter, to call me by my true name. Tell me, why are you still alive?”
The bounty hunter smiled “I have the package you requested. When can I expect my payment?”
“I don’t see anyone but you, hunter.” Julian mockingly looked around him. “Is this package of yours invisible?”
“I had to leave her back on my ship. I forgot that Earthlings are not as apt to teleportation as my race or yours. She is currently resting in a drug-induced coma.” The hunter moved off to one side, as to allow Julian walk into the tube.
“And you couldn’t have carried her the short distance to my ship?” The Callanian Lord passed the hunter and walked into the tube.
“I would’ve risked her waking up. My lord, I will warn you, she is a dangerous one. She will not falter in seeking revenge on me . . . or you for kidnapping her.”
Julian turned to look back at the hunter “So you talked to her then?”
“No . . . but you know it is in my nature, as a Embritan, to assess someone’s nature on sight. And I tell you, this pawn is dangerous.”
“And you couldn’t have picked someone else? Someone less dangerous, perhaps?”
“She was the only one there besides the Mighty One himself. And you specifically instructed me not to take him.” He paused and muttered. “Though I don’t see why.”
The Callanian Lord glanced back at the hunter, but didn’t reply to this last remark. His associate didn’t need to know that any move against the Mighty One would be a move against the Nibblonians. And a direct move against the Nibblonians—the oldest race in the universe besides the Callanians would be fatal to any and all of the Callanian Lord’s plans. Which is why Julian chose a more indirect path to destroying the savior of the universe. Take the Mighty One, face the full force of the Nibblonians, then the rest of the Callanian planets when his battle with the Nibblonians was dragged back to the Callanian system. Take someone close to the Mighty One, face a lesser force of the Nibblonians, and less chance of the battles being dragged back to the Callanian system.
The Callanian Lord and the bounty hunter walked in silence. They passed through the tube connecting their ships and into the hunter’s ship. Then they moved through a labyrinth of rooms holding everything from bounties the hunter collected to the weapons he used to collect them until they reached the sick bay.
A doctor with golden, dark-speckled skin not unlike a leopard looked up, and then jumped to attention when the two lords entered his domain.
“Sir” The doctor bowed. He paused and studied the Callanian Lord “Lord of Callania . .?”
“Lord of Callania 7, welcome.” The doctor pushed his glasses farther up his nose. “You’re here to see the newcomer I suppose?”
“Why else would we be here if we were both perfectly healthy?” The bounty hunter snapped. “We both have agendas to attend to as you should know, knowing as you are of the stream of gossip that runs through this ship.”
“Yes . . . yes of course.” The doctor stammered. “Right this way. She’s been kept in a coma-like state at your request. I do not recommend keeping her in this state—her body has already been stressed passed its limit, stressing it farther could be hazardous for—”
“If we wanted to hear your opinion, we would ask it.” The Callanian Lord cut the doctor off. “Is this her?” He turned toward the hunter when they reached a bed where a purple-haired Cyclops lay.
The bounty hunter nodded his confirmation.
“Interesting.” Julian paced around the bed. He stopped by Leela’s head and gazed down at her. The hunter was right; she was dangerous. If anything, her muscular build proved she could and would fight . . . and there was something about the Cyclops. The Callanian cocked his head and leaned down closer to his captive, his eyes went wide. “She—she’s—”
“That’s why I told you she’s dangerous. There is no way to stop her.”
“Perfect.” The Callanian Lord smiled. “I have just the job for her.”
DOOP Space Station 23.7/E Orbiting Earth
It was the soft, plush, cloud underneath him that woke Fry up. The delivery boy rolled over on his side and groaned. What happened? Wher-where am I? Leela! Where’s Leela?! He shoved himself up, only to find that he was no longer in the Planet Express Bridge but in a periwinkle-painted wall crews’ quarters complete with bed, night table, and mirror. What’s going on? Where’s Leela?!
“Ah, you’re awake.”
Fry whirled around. There stood Glab, leader of the DOOP.
“How do you feel? Do you need anything?” Glab walked farther into the room. “You gave us all a scare; you were unconscious when we found you. It was uncertain if you would wake up.” She paused.
“Where’s Leela?” Were the first words out of Fry’s mouth. “Is she ok?” were the next.
“Leela?” Must be the other human we found on the crew list. “There was no ‘Leela’ onboard your ship when we apprehended it. Was she with you?”
“Yes—we were on a mission—delivering a package—a death ruby from the Andromeda Galaxy—she was still mad at me for—wouldn’t let me on the bridge—” Fry’s words became faster and faster until Glab could barely understand them.
“You’re obviously under a great deal of stress.” Glab approached Fry. “Try to calm down. Now, Leela was with you when you left Earth?”
“Where were you going? And why?”
“We were delivering a rare death ruby to Virulekia—no Vizulena?”
“Yes! That one!”
“I see.” The president of the DOOP paused. “That’s what I thought. Fry, are you aware that the planet, Virulencia has been abandoned for four years?”
“The planet that you were delivering the death ruby to is no longer inhabited. Its people abandoned it four years ago for reasons unknown.” Glab looked pointedly at Fry. “Can you tell me why you were delivering a highly valuable death ruby to an abandoned planet?”
“Virumia was abandoned?! B-but we were delivering a ruby there.”
“I understand that. But why were you delivering the ruby in the first place?”
“I dunno. It appeared on our doorstep with a promise of payment upon delivery and the professor said we had to delivery it. Then Bender came up with a reason why he couldn’t go on the mission and Leela made me get on the ship and we left. Then Leela wouldn’t talk to me so I went into my and Bender’s room. Then—”
BOOM! Fry was thrown off the bed; Glab lost her balance and fell to the floor. The ground rumbled and the walls shook. The bed Fry had been sitting on quivered and jolted itself halfway across the room, hitting Fry’s arm on its way.
“Oww.” The deliver boy groaned. “What was that?”
“I don’t know.” Glab sat up; she seemed to be without injury. “Glab to bridge. What was that?”
Only white noise came from the other end of her wristlojackamator. Whoever was in the bridge wasn’t responding.
“Glab to bridge. Is anyone there? Hello? Anyone? Hello?”
Brittle white noise was her only reply.
“Something’s wrong.” Glab informed Fry. “The radio has been cut off. I need to see what’s going on in the bridge.” She stood up and hastily left the delivery boy.
A few minutes later Fry pushed himself up, wiped off his clothes, and left his room heading in the same direction Glab had gone.
The passages the delivery boy walked down where painted a yellowing white and eerily empty. All the crew workers and officials one would expect to see in a space station were missing. Fry shivered, his footsteps echoing through the pathway in front of him. Slowly, tediously slowly he wandered his way to the bridge.
“Wait! Please—please don’t hurt me!”
Fry froze. He recognized that voice! But it couldn’t be . . . Glab said she wasn’t here. Hesitantly the delivery boy entered the bridge.
“Why are you doing this? What did we ever do to—ooh!”
“Lee—Leela?” Fry stared at the purple-haired Cyclops surrounded by knocked out crewmembers, her last victim—Glab—laying by her feet. “Leela? What are you doing?”
The purple-haired Cyclops turned to Fry. Her eye narrowed. Finally. She’d found him. Leela looked around the bridge and at her victims, it wasn’t safe here. She needed to get him—Fry, somewhere else, somewhere more isolated.
“Leela?” the delivery boy stumbled over the body of a crewmember to get closer to his captain. “Leela, what’s going on? Why did you knock everybody out?”
“We need to leave.” The Cyclops walked past Fry. “Its not safe here, they meant us harm.”
“B—but they’re DOOP! They’re the good guys!”
“They are not the good guys. We need to get out of here.” Leela snapped. “Now come on, or do you want to wait here and explain why—how you knocked out the entire crew of a space station to their backup when they arrive.”
“Wait! . . . You knocked them out!” Fry grabbed Leela’s arm “Leela? What’s happened to you? I know you don’t like Zapp Brannigan, but that doesn’t mean you can go around knocking out random DOOP employees.”
“Fry, come on. Do I have to save your butt from everything? They. Meant. You. Harm. You need to understand that.” Leela jerked her arm from Fry’s grasp. The DOOP’s backup would arrive soon, someone on Earth would realize that all the space station’s communications had been cut, and she needed to have Fry far, far away by then.
Fry recoiled when Leela pulled away from him. Something was wrong with his captain; she wasn’t acting normal—not normal at all. “Leela?” He stepped closer to the Cyclops. “Do you know what happened on the delivery? How’d we get here?”
“Delivery? What delivery? Stop making things up Fry, we need to go.”
Yes, something was definitely wrong.
Fry gulped as he followed Leela out of the bridge. The Cyclops led him through a series of empty passages until they reached the escape pods. Once there she ordered him to get in one while she opened the hatch.
Then they were speeding down to Earth and Fry’s heart pounded on his ears.
Red; the color of fire. It slowly engulfed Fry’s range of vision as New New York City filled the escape pod’s window and the small, scarlet, towered building grew larger and larger. Fry stared at the ant that was the Planet Express building, a silent plea that whatever was causing Leela to act strangely would soon pass going through his head. The delivery boy glanced over at the Cyclops, she was completely absorbed in steering the escape pod, Fry returned to gazing out the window. Half thought out ideas running rampant through his mind; maybe Leela had been kidnapped and replaced by raging space monkeys or . . . the possibilities were endless.
Carefully Leela guided the escape pod down to a street on the Hudson River a few blocks away from the Planet Express building. In silence she opened the hatch, Fry exited the starship, and Leela closely followed him.
A cool wind brushed against Fry’s back when he exited the escape pod. The Hudson River glittered in front of him. The day was quiet. It would have been a perfect day for a beach trip—or as Fry preferred, sitting on the couch watching TV. Vaguely the delivery boy wondered if that was what Bender was doing at that moment—he didn’t think the robot actually had a sick aunt like he claimed so he could get out of going on the mission. The subtle click of a laser gun’s safety going off brought Fry out of his thoughts. He turned around and there was Leela, pointing a laser gun directly at him.
The Cyclops cocked the gun and fired. Fry barely managed to avoid the shot.
“Leela?! What’s going on? What’re you doing?!”
Leela smiled wickedly at Fry. At the space station she was in danger of being caught by whatever forces the DOOP sent to see why their station had gone silent, but here on Earth, in a street coated in abandoned houses, there was nothing to stop her from completing her mission. Assassinating the Mighty One.
What the Callanian Lord had done was simple. He couldn’t outright attack the Mighty One. The Nibbonians would now have him under heavy defenses, since they knew that he knew who he was. Julian’s best move would be to send in an assassin. And who better than someone already close to the Mighty One? Someone the Earthling would never suspect. Someone whose memory had been wiped and could be convinced to kill Fry. Someone like Leela.
The Cyclops cocked her gun and fired again. This time Fry dove to the ground and tasted gravel, the shot barely grazed off the top of his hair horn.
“Leela! This isn’t you! Look inside yourself and ask, do you really want to kill me?” Fry yelled up at the starship captain. “I’m sorry! The space bee was a prank! I didn’t know you’d be dragged into an alternate dimension thingy!”
Leela aimed her gun at Fry’s head; the delivery boy only had seconds to dodge before the fire was shot.
Ok, I guess she is really going to try and kill me. Fry pushed himself up off the road and began to run. I wonder if this means she’ll never forgive me. Behind him Leela raised her gun again. I have to stop her . . . What would Delivery Boy Man do? Think Fry think!
“Leela! Please!” Fry whipped around and confronted the Cyclops. “Please don’t kill me! I thought you loved me! I love you!”
His only reply was the hum of the laser gun as it charged.
The assassin stared at her target. He looks so—so defeated. A pang of pity went through her heart. But he still has to die. He’s the target. She started to press her finger down on the trigger. Nothing can change that . . .
Plop. Plop. Plop. The assassin looked up, raindrops splashed down from a deep grey cloud covering the sky. She hesitated, her finger quivered on the trigger. Maybe . . . Maybe I don’t have to kill him. Leela looked up as it began to pour down rain, a raindrop landed in her eye. She felt her arm holding the laser gun lower.
No! The mission was to kill him! I must kill him!
Fry stared at Leela. The starship captain stood frozen, her arm halfway posed to fire her laser gun, the rain-washed teardrops down her face. “Please . . . please don’t kill me.” The delivery boy whispered.
Leela looked up at Fry, rain running down her face like tears. She stepped forward, closing the space between them and just looked at him. Then she looked down at her chest for a moment, when the Cyclops turned back Fry, the confusion was gone from her face.
“Run. Run for your life.”
“B-but Leela . . .?”
Fry looked back at Leela once, confused, before he started running in the opposite direction. He didn’t understand; she tried to kill him and now she was telling him to run? What was going on? The delivery boy stopped running and turned back around. He froze. Why was Leela running to the river? Fry took a step after the Cyclops, then another, then another. Then he was running. He saw Leela climb up on a ledge above the Hudson River holding a shiny, silver object that looked something like a doomsday device—where she got it, the delivery boy didn’t know. But a second later it didn’t matter, Leela jumped into the river with whatever device she held and it went off. Fry had almost reached the ledge where Leela had when the river exploded into a fiery hellstorm of river water, debris, and ember.