“One day, a man has everything. Then the next day, he blows up a billion dollar space station. And then the next day he has nothing.”
The Planet Embrita
Dry, cracked dirt crunched beneath the alien’s feet. His eyes fell on a lone figure standing near a smoke-colored starship. The alien stepped up to the figure, their eye met and they bowed, a harsh, dry wind tugging at their long robes.
“Lord of Callania 7”
“I trust you brought the rest of my payment?” The bounty hunter pressed his lips together. Julian’s choice of meeting places didn’t meet his own. Embrita, the planet the Callanian Lord had chosen had been destroyed by nuclear war two decades before, there was nothing left on the planet. It would have been thought the perfect meeting place for those on the dark side of the law if it weren’t cursed.
The Callanian Lord raised an eyebrow. “You truly believe you deserve the rest of the payment? You let her die. She was the perfect pawn to manipulate and she is gone—without even killing the Mighty One.”
“That wasn’t part of the deal. You hired me to kidnap someone close to the Mighty One, I did. There was nothing about having the one I kidnapped kill the Mighty One.” The bounty hunter crossed his arms. “Where is my payment?”
“Here” The Callanian Lord threw a small pouch at the bounty hunter. “You want it so bad, take it.”
The hunter opened the pouch and looked inside it. “This is barely half of what you promised me!” He glared back up at the Callanian. “Where’s the rest of it?!”
Julian looked coldly at the hunter. “You brought me the Cyclops, who wasn’t suitable for the mission I set up for her. The Mighty One still lives while she blew herself up. Your pawn failed and you want your payment? You’re lucky I’m being this generous in giving you this much.” He snarled. “Let it stand as a warning; next time don’t let the pawn get away.”
“The job was to kidnap someone close to the Mighty One.” The hunter snapped back. “What happened after that was of no concern to me!” He paused, closed his eyes, and took in a deep breath. “And you know very well that the Cyclops was dangerous.” He opened his eyes. “That she could and did overpower your commands. You should’ve thought of that yourself before you gave her the explosive.”
The Callanian Lord narrowed his eyes. “That’s the only pay you’re getting.” He sneered. “I refuse to pay anymore for an incompetent pawn.” He returned to his starship and left.
The bounty hunter stood for a moment and watched his employer leave. Then his eyes turned on the barren wasteland that had once held a thriving metropolis. “This will be you one day, Julian. Nothing but a wasteland of hate and sorrow.
And this will help bring about that. The bounty hunter took a small vial filled with bluish liquid from his pocket.
Three Weeks Later
Robot Arms Apts.
A bird flew past the window. He didn’t see it. The TV was on. He barely watched it. Bender was smoking in the other room. He didn’t smell the tobacco. It had been three weeks since he moved and a large variety of newspaper headlines coated the coffee table next to the couch where he sat; Unknown Explosion Causes Minimal Damage, Owner of Local Planetary Delivery Company Fined For Causing Explosion—again, Explosion Causes Death of Cyclops Starship Captain. The redhead grunted, shifted his position, and pushed most of the newspapers off the coffee table. Digging around through the layer of papers that remained he found and opened a slightly dented can of Slurm.
“Hey Meatbag. . . .” Bender walked in the room.
“ . . .”
“Still not talking I see.” Bender went across the room to the refrigerator, where he opened it and retrieved a bottle of beer.
“. . .”
Bender opened his beer; taking a long swig from it he walked back across the room. Once he was at the doorway the robot looked back at Fry, sighed, and left. The redhead sipped his Slurm and continued blindly watching TV as if nothing had happened.
(On the TV)
“Do you feel depressed, confused, or tired of life kicking you in the shins?”
Fry nodded slowly to the TV.
“Do you feel like sometime you need to get down, dirty, and outright drunk?”
Fry slowly nodded again.
“Well then it sounds like you need to come to Happy Hour at the Hip Joint! Every Tuesday you can be as drunk as the next idiot! And with no consequences whatsoever!” (Then in a lower voice) “The Hip Joint is not responsible for any bank robberies, high speed car chases, or hotwiring of an intergalactic starship while drunk.”
Fry sat for a moment, sipped his Slurm, scratched the back of his head, and shifted the newspapers around on the table some more. Then he watched TV for five more minutes before pushing himself up, stretching, and walking out the door.
Outside cool wind pressed against the delivery boy’s back. He looked toward the sky for a moment where dusk was slowly fading into night and the first stars were making an appearance. Three weeks ago he’d been on top of the world; he lived a thousand years in the future, had a low paying job, and had finally gotten the girl of his dreams to admit that she had some kind of feelings toward him. Then he and Bender had pulled their disastrous prank on Leela and she’d begun to hate them. Not to mention she’d tried to kill him. Or had she? The scene on the street by the Hudson River replayed in Fry’s head. None of it made any sense. The delivery boy sighed and walked down the street to an entrance to the Tube Transport System.
“The Hip Joint.” His voice was rasping and hoarse after long disuse.
The tube sucked him up and the redhead began his journey across town.
Back in his and Fry’s apartment, Bender sighed. He hated seeing Fry so downtrodden—though he would never admit it. But what could he do? The delivery boy was dead set on depression and wouldn’t listen to any logic Bender had to offer.
Fry would have to drink himself out of his sorrow on his own.
The Taco Bellevue Hospital
“There isn’t anything you remember? Maybe a name? Or address?” The doctor looked at his patient quizzically.
“Are you sure? No type of granola bar you might’ve preferred?”
“I don’t know. I don’t remember anything.”
“I see.” The doctor scribbled some notes on his clipboard. His patient, a young woman fidgeted and began to toy with her long hair. She’d woken up lying on the banks of the Hudson River some hours before with no memory of how she’d come to be there—or anything else for that matter. Her mind was a complete blank.
“We’ll have to check your career chip.” The doctor finished his scribbling. “That should tell us who you are and then we can get you going home.” He smiled at the woman reassuringly.
The woman smiled back, not reassured in the slightest.
A moment later the doctor brought out a small scanner and waved it above the woman’s right hand. Nothing happened. The doctor frowned before trying it again. Still nothing. “Odd, this thing was working just fine this morning.” The doctor studied the scanner, punched in a couple of buttons making the scanner beep. “There, now it should work.” A final wave of the scanner still brought nothing.
“That thing should’ve told you what my career chip reads, right?” The woman questioned.
“Yes, I don’t understand why it’s not working.”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“No. What’s obvious?”
The woman rolled her eyes. “That thing isn’t reading my career chip. Either its busted, which I don’t think it is or I simply don’t have career chip.”
“No. No. That can’t be right. You must have a career chip.” The doctor retorted. “The only way you can’t is if you’re a sewer mutant.” He raised an eyebrow and studied the woman. “Or an alien.”
“Excuse me. Sir?” A nurse walked up and poked the doctor in the back.
“What?!” The doctor snapped. “I’m busy as you can see.”
“That scanner you have there stopped working an hour ago.” The nurse informed the doctor, as she handed him an identical object. “Here’s one that works.”
“Oh . . . oh, ok.” The doctor took the scanner.
The nurse nodded and brushed the woman as she walked past, “Sorry the best I could get you was waitress, but I can’t exactly be seen here.” She whispered.
The woman nodded, confused. “Who are you?” She whispered back.
The nurse ignored the woman’s question and continued walking.
Bewildered the woman turned back to the doctor, who was in the process of waving the new scanner over her hand. The small machine beeped a few minutes later.
“Ah, this one is working.” The doctor held up the scanner. “Leia Abrams, you are a waitress and currently not employed. There’s an opening at the Hip Joint you might want to look into.”
“My name is Leia Abrams?”
“And I’m a waitress?”
I wonder how true that is. Whoever that nurse was obviously did something to the scanner, because I don’t have a career chip. I know I don’t. Of all things to be sure of, Leia knew that one to be true. The amnesiac studied her hand. Maybe I should get the job at the Hip Joint; I don’t have anywhere else to go. With that thought, Leia promised the doctor she’d check in after she had been to the Hip Joint and found someplace to stay, and left the hospital.
After finishing with Leia, the doctor turned to his next patient, yet another amnesia patient. When wills this end? This isn’t some weird show like All My Circuits where everyone has amnesia.
“You have no idea what your name---?”
“Lee Lemon. My name is Lee Lemon.”
Good. This one knows something.“ Whitney!” The doctor yelled at an intern. “Get over here!”
A tall, lanky, blond, intern walked over to the doctor and patient, while stuffing something in his pocket. “What can I do for you, doc?’
“Whitney, this is Lee Lemon, she has amnesia. I need you to go find any files that we might have on her.”
Whitney smiled at Lemon “Yes sir.” He left to get the files.
The doctor and Lemon stood in awkward silence as they waited for Whitney to return. The doctor studied his clipboard, making notes intently as Lemon watched. Every now and then the doctor would glance up at Lemon and Lemon would glare back at him.
After some time Whitney returned—without any files.
The doctor raised an eyebrow at the intern. “Well, there had to be something there. No offense ma’am, but you don’t look like the type of person who wouldn’t get herself hurt doing something dangerous.”
“I couldn’t find anything, Doc.” Whitney shrugged. “Maybe you should check her career chip.” He handed the doctor one of the scanners, and left.
“Well.” Sighed the doctor “That cocky, no good intern of mine is right.” He turned to Lemon “The only way for me to discern who you are past your name is through the scanning of your career chip.”
Lee Lemon nodded and held out her hand.
“Ok. Everyone but Fry is here?” Hermes looked around the conference table. The delivery boy had barely shown up for work during the last three weeks and the bureaucrat had stopped expecting him to come. He would when he was ready—or never. “Good. First order of business, we need to find a new captain. We all loved Leela, but it’s been three weeks and we’ve made no deliveries.”
“Don’t we always wait a few weeks between delivering package—?”
“That’s not da point here!” Hermes snapped, “Leela’s gone and we need a new captain to fly the ship around and make it look like we’re actually successful delivering packages.”
The crew went silent. Bender pulled out a cigar and began to smoke, the professor continued his nap he’d started at the beginning of the meeting, Amy inspected her fingernail polish, and Zoidberg glanced over at the refrigerator and wondered if anyone would notice his or her missing lunch . . .
Hermes sighed and pulled out a thick stack of folders. “I didn’t want te do this, but you’ve left me no choice. This is a stack of starship captain applications I errr . . . took from de job applications division of the Central Bureaucracy. Look through them and figure out which one you’d tolerate the most while I go—”
“Hold up!” Bender threw himself up. “Why do you get to go and leave me-Bender with all the work?”
“I have a heck of a lot of filing that needs to be done and you’ll be the ones going on missions with the new captain.“
“But why can’t I be new captain?” Bender placed both his hands on the conference table.
“You crashed an oil tanker on a penguin preserve on Pluto the last time. Now start looking through those applications.”
Bender grumbled something about ‘killing all humans’ under his breath and opened the first file.
“You Earthlings will never cease to amaze me.” A dark-clothed figure stepped into the conference room. “You believe your friend is no longer living when you don’t have the proof to follow your argument.”
Hermes turned around to greet the figure “I believe de term is ‘Earthican’ and—Wait! Who’re you?”
The bounty hunter sighed. How many times have I heard that one? “I go by many names; Mordred Pierce III, Marcellus de la Skye VI, Brad Pitt. But mainly I’m just ‘the bounty hunter’.”
The bureaucrat stood agape for a moment, then shook his head and regained his composure. “What do you want?”
“Nothing. But I think you’ll want what I have to offer.”
“Why would we be interested in anything you have?” Amy finally finished inspecting her nail polish and looked up to see what was going on. “And how did you get in here anyway?”
“You left the door unlocked.” The bounty hunter smirked. He drew out a small vial filled with a bluish liquid. “And I think you’ll want this.” He laid the vial on the conference table with a clink.
All eyes turned to the small, mystic object.
“What is it? Neptunian blood?” Bender rubbed his metal hands together.
“No. It is—what it is, is for you to find out, but be aware that you will need it.”
“Why should we trust you? How do you know we will need it?”
“You don’t. I’m a bounty hunter, trusting me could be your biggest mistake. But I don’t usually give things away without a cost, so consider this vial to be very important.” The bounty hunter turned to leave. He paused and looked back at the Planet Express crew. “One more thing; your friend, the Cyclops is alive. It might be a good idea to find her.”
“This is Falcon Enterprise, one of the largest, privately owned starship companies there is.” Whitney informed Lemon. The intern had volunteered, and then insisted on helping Lemon find lodgings and work after her career chip had identified her as a starship captain.
Its weird, Lemon thought. The chip could identify my job, but it couldn’t tell me who I am. I wonder why? Looming before her was a smooth, white, polished building that gleamed in the afternoon sun. Lemon raised her hand to shield her eye as she squinted up at the building; ink black letters halfway up its side read in flowing letters, Falcon Enterprise. Lemon glanced over at Whitney, who felt her gaze and turned to smile at her encouragingly. Ignoring the intern’s smile the amnesiac starship captain stepped forward and pushed open the door into Falcon Enterprise.
Cool, refreshing, artificial-smelling air greeted Lemon as she stepped into the starship company. The white cleanliness that consumed the outside walls of the business disappeared in the colorful, chaotic interior. Employees hurried around the main lobby carrying an odd assortment of starship parts, files, or any number of other miscellaneous things through a large doorway behind a front desk set at the back of the lobby. Lemon stood and watched the beehive-like goings of the business for a moment before Whitney joined her.
“Falcon Enterprise.” Lemon spoke the name of the business. This was the third starship company the intern and amnesiac had been to; the first had turned down the idea of giving Lemon a job at first glance, the second had at least interviewed her before turning her down.
“You’re here looking for a job?” One of the bee-like employees readjusted his hold on a L-unit. “You won’t find one here. We’re not hiring, we have enough problems at the moment. What with Zapp Brannigan ramming into one of our ships a month ago.”
Zapp Brannigan. Where have I heard that name before?“ Zapp Brannigan?” Lemon looked at the employee.
“Y’now, the imbecilic DOOP hero who isn’t worth any of the titles that they give him.” The employee replied. “Last month his ship the Nimbus collided with one of our smaller freights, and he had the nerve to sue us for the damage costs. We’re walking on very thin ice here, so there’s no way we can take on new—”
“Jean. Jean. Jean.” A grotesquely obese, pepper-haired man walked up behind the employee with the L-unit shaking his head. “Wasn’t I just telling you that we needed to hire on another hand? That our flight staff has been short since Tamara jumped ship after last month’s crash.”
“No, you were telling me that we needed to reduce---”
“Would you believe him?” The pepper-haired man laughed, clamping his hand down on Jean’s shoulder. “Now which one of you is looking for a job?” His eyes looked at Whitney, then lingered on Lemon.
“Lemon here is.” Whitney pushed the amnesiac forward. “She’s a starship captain, we thought this would be the place to come for a job.”
The pepper-haired man looked Lemon up and down. “Yes, this is your place. If you’ll step into my office we’ll get your papers filled out.”
“Wait! You’re just going to hire her?” Jean intervened.
“No. Remember we’re short on staff? And can take any help we can get?” The pepper-haired man snapped at Jean before he turned to Lemon and held out his hand. “I’m Tom, owner and manager of this company.”
Jean looked flustered. He drew his hand over his face. “So you’re not even going to interview her? Do you know how unfair that is to the rest of us? You know the ones you actually interviewed. The ones who actually had to apply to get a job here?”
Tom gave Jean a cold look. “We’ll talk later. If I were you I’d be worrying about my job right now.” He led Lemon off to his office.
Whitney shoved Jean to the side before following. “Hey dude. Next time keep your mouth shut. Some things are bigger than you.”
Jean held his L-Unit and stared after the odd group. What the heck is coming to this place?
Tom’s office was small and bare; its only furnishings were a desk adorned with a computer, chairs, a small fish tank in the corner, and a file cabinet. Tom gestured to Whitney and Lemon to sit down on the chairs on the closer side of his desk, while he took the one on the opposite side. He opened a drawer and took out a few papers, which he placed on the desk before him.
“This is a six year contract with Falcon Enterprise.” Tom pushed the documents forward. “In it, it states that during that time you will be an acting starship captain for Falcon Enterprise; you will go on any and every mission granted to you, you will work for Falcon Enterprise and Falcon Enterprise only, any contact with rival companies with annul this contract.” Tom paused to study Lemon to see her reaction to this last statement, when she did not object he continued. “You will be granted health and flight insurance, and you will not be required to take any mission deemed life-threating until at least your fourth year of service here.” Tom paused to look at Lemon. “Are these satisfactory terms?”
Lemon nodded. It works better than the deal that I had with the professor . . . What professor?
“Good, then sign here, here, and here and you can start tomorrow.” Tom held out a pen.
Lemon pushed the door open and sighed. The motel room was dimly lit and smelled distinctly of mildew. Well it could be worse. At least there’s a bed . . . and a roof. She slowly walked into the room, without any money, this rundown cheap motel was the best place she could even think of staying at. The amnesiac looked around; the room was barely furnished, holding only a bed, table, and a few chairs. The walls were beige with paint peeling off and cracks zigzagged across its surface. Lemon walked over to the bed and flopped down; tossing the red jacket Whitney had bought her down beside her.
Tomorrow at least I can start working at Falcon Enterprise and maybe then I can stay someplace better.
Lemon rolled over and pushed her face into her new red jacket. It smelled vaguely of cherries and the store Whitney bought it at. She wasn’t sure why she liked it so much or why she’d noticed it when she first saw it in the store window, but something had drawn Lemon to the jacket. It felt familiar. Something about the jacket made her feel safe, made her feel wanted in a world where she had nothing. Nothing besides a name. A name that may not even be hers. Lemon combed her fingers through her long ponytail and stared at the ceiling. Lee Lemon. How can I know that is truly my name?
Lemon gripped at the ragged blanket covering the bed beneath her. She hated feeling this weak—this defenseless—completely depended on those around her. She had relied completely on Whitney to get a job, a place to stay, even a cheap red jacket. She hated it. She utterly despised it.
It took her a long time to get to sleep that night.
The streets of New New York City
The evening sun was beginning to sink lower toward the horizon by the time Leia made it to the Hip Joint. She had taken her time reaching her destination purposefully, she wasn’t quite sure she wanted to be a waitress. It just seemed wrong. She was more suited to piloting starships around galaxies than to carrying trays of drinks around tables of drunken dancers. Leia laughed quietly to herself. Piloting starships. Now that would be fun. A whole lot better than becoming a waitress just because she couldn’t remember who she was.
Leia stopped in front of the entrance to the Hip Joint. The neon lights of the nightclub illuminated her face and the blasting music loved by the clubgoers bombarded her ears. The purple-haired amnesiac hesitantly took a step forward. Here I go . . .
“Hey! If you’re not going in, get out of the way!” A brown haired jock adorned with a navy blue jacket roughly shoved Leia out of his way and entered the Hip Joint.
“Who do you think you are?!” Leia ran after the jock and grabbed his shoulder, pulling him around to face her with strength she didn’t know she had.
“What’s the big idea?” The jock grabbed Leia hand off his shoulder and nearly crushed it in his grip. Leia cringed and tried to pull her hand away, but the jock wouldn’t let her go, instead he tightened his grip, causing Lemon to feel her pulse in her hand. “Is there a problem, sweetheart?” The jock spat in the amnesiac’s face.
Leia twisted her arm around and freed her hand from the jock’s grip. “I don’t like bullies.” She snarled.
“Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was talking to a freakin nun.” Sarcasm dripped off the jock’s lips. “Now get out of my way or I’ll really hurt you.”
“I’d like to see you try.” Leia retorted.
“What was that?” The jock lunged . . . and went flying past Leia, who’d dodged at the last second. Finding his prey now behind him, the jock turned around arms raised . . . and tasted dirt and rubber as Leia’s kick had landed with deadly precision. Anger boiled through the jock. “You—you’re nothing but a purple-haired freak!” He yelled.
“And you’re nothing but a child. A young, foolish child.” Leia raised her fists, waiting for the jock’s nest attack. She didn’t have to wait long for it, as the jock lunged, much like a bull, forward. Leia smiled, as she darted to the side, not unlike a hare.
“Is there a problem, Marshall?” A bouncer, who until this point had ignored the fight, spoke directly to the jock.
The jock pointed to Leia “She’s causing trouble.”
The bouncer turned to the amnesiac “I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Now.”
Leia hesitated. She was prepared to fight and defend herself against the jock and his claims; she knew she could easily defeat the idiot. But was it worth it? No. Without a word the amnesiac turned on her heel and walked away from the Hip Joint, her energy was better used on better things.
Leia exhaled slowly and began to walk down the road, unsure of where she was going. She had no job, no place to stay, nothing. Nothing but the red-gold sunset painted across the sky before her. The amnesiac squinted up at the fading sun. What will become of me now?
The amnesiac ran her fingers through her ponytail as she thought. She couldn’t get a job at the Hip Joint, not after the fight. Getting lodgings somewhere was also out—she was penniless and unless she broke into someplace . . . but where?
As the sun finally dipped below the horizon, a silvery crescent moon rose. A gentle, cool wind blew against Leia’s back. Not many walked the streets that night; most were at the Hip Joint or some other nightclub, or hiding in the shadowed alleyways where they could skulk unnoticed. Leia noted with a growing unease that she was the only one left on the dark street she’d been walking down.
“Pop a Poppler . . .” slurred words drifted into Leia’s ears from an alleyway. She stopped. I’m not alone!
“When you come to (hiccup) ‘ishy Joes (hiccup)” the singing continued.
Leia turned toward the alley. What is that?
“What (hiccup) made of . . . mystery (hiccup) . . .”
Leia lifted and eyebrow and slowly started striding toward the alley.
“Where ‘ey come . . . (hiccup) one kno’s . . . (hiccup)
The drunken singing stopped. Leia hesitantly entered the alleyway and was enveloped by the same shadows that sheltered a hunched figure pressed against the brick wall of one side of the alley. Slowly, Leia made her way closer to the hunched figure—a drunk.
The drunk lifted his head and Leia was able to see two bloodshot eyes for a second. Then he bent his head down and shuffled farther down the wall away from Leia.
Leia hesitated before stepping closer to the drunk. “It’s ok. I’m not here to hurt you.”
“Leevmeeallone.” A hand waved itself in Leia’s face. The drunk shuffled farther down the wall.
“No.” Leia followed the retreating hunched figure, surprising herself. What am I doing? “I will not leave you alone.” She crouched down to the drunk’s eye level. “Listen, getting yourself drunk was probably a mistake.” The words left her mouth before Leia could stop and think what she was saying or whom she was saying them to. “You have a life and you’re wasting it in this alley. Why am I informing him of this? He’s drunk! He doesn’t understand anything of what I’m telling him!
Leia pursed her lips and glared at the drunk. “Listen you, I don’t know what all you’ve been through that’s led to you being drunken in this alley, but I don’t care. I have lost more than you can ever imagine in just one day.” The rage she’d kept bottled up since she left the hospital was finally beginning to leak. “Heck I have no idea who I am or what kind of life I have! And you’re telling me you want to waste your life in this alley!”
The drunk looked up at Leia for a moment before his eyes fell downcast again. “I sorry.” He mumbled. “I sorry . . .” then he drifted off to sleep.
Leia sighed and turned to leave the alleyway. The night wasn’t getting any younger and she needed to find a place to sleep . . .
The purple-haired woman looked back into the alleyway behind her. If a drunk can sleep there, why can’t I? I’ve done at least two things on impulse in the hour, why not add a third? Leia returned to the alley and squatted down near the drunken idiot. Where else did she have to go?
“I know Tom hired you as a captain, but frankly I don’t believe someone with amnesia can successfully steer a ship. So until you can prove to me you’re worth it you will serve as a flight attendant. Do you understand?”
Lemon bit her tongue and sized up Jean. Fighting with him would probably bring them before Tom and he would put her in command of a starship. Then because of her amnesia she would crash the ship into fly it into a giant TV billboard or something worse. Lemon nodded.
“Yes, I understand.”
“Good. The ship is in terminal C and-“ Jean looked at his watch. “Will leave within the next five minutes. Remember, if you breath a word of this to Tom, you’re dead.” The flight director stared directly into Lemon’s eye, daring her to disobey. The new employee only nodded before running down the hanger to terminal C.
The starship was green. It was tall, looming, and green. Lemon stopped and stared at it for a moment. Something about the ship’s color reminded her of something, but she couldn’t quite place it. She sighed and shook her head before pushing past a line of passengers boarding the starship.
“—We want you to be captain again.”
Lemon paused and looked back at the line of passengers, all of them were busy handing luggage off to crew, collecting energetic children, or simply standing in line. She shook her head and continued into the starship.
“Let me guess. He canceled naptime?”
“You! What are you doing here?” A brown-haired man in his mid-twenties, who wore a navy Falcon Enterprise uniform, stopped lemon.
“Errr—did you hear that just now?” Lemon looked around her, but there was no one but the brown-haired man and the passengers. No one had spoken, minus the brown-haired man.
The brown-haired man crossed his arms. “No. Now are you a passenger or what? Can I see your ticket?”
“He ran out of beer?”
Lemon glanced around again. Still no one owned the voice only she could apparently hear. “No. I’m a flight attendant on this flight—Jean sent me.”
The man looked the amnesiac up and down. “Fine, if Jean sent you, get aboard. Don’t screw anything up and you should get by.” He paused. “I’m Luc, lieutenant of this ship.”
So he’s about to kill us?
Luc turned around and walked into the starship, with a final sigh and wonder at the mysterious voices she had heard, Lemon followed him. A couple minutes later the passengers finished boarding, then the ship’s engines powered up and it took off, a small black cube starship part flew off and landed with a thud on the street.
Sometime Later . . .
. . . Between Earth and Jupiter’s moon Io, now a spa resort
“This is your captain. We are halfway to Io and we hope you’ve enjoyed the flight so far. Thank you for flying Falcon Enterprise, the Earth’s best starship company since 2952.” The captain’s voice was ignored by most as it rang out across the cabin. The few who listened to it, snorted.
“Best starship company my last dentures!”
“If this was any other company we would be there already!”
“Shut your yapping, you’d be broke if this was any other company. The price of your ticket alone would put you on the streets.”
“At least Falcon is cheap.”
“Are you all idiots? There’s a flight attendant right over there. No doubt she’ll report to her higher ups after this flight ends and tell them all about our little conversation.”
“Who cares? Look at ‘er. Like anyone would actually listen to her.”
The entire group of passengers glanced over their shoulders at the flight attendant standing some distance away from where they sat. Feeling their gaze, the attendant glanced over at the group. She sighed inwardly.
“Can I get any of you something?”
The group exchanged glances. No one spoke. The flight attendant let out a long breath and walked to the other end of the cabin, where she stared out at the passing moon, Deimos. For once she had nothing to do during a flight. Things that usually went wrong at this point were still going right.
BOOM! The ship rattled and Lemon fell to her knees. What the—
Warning! Warning! Engine 4 lost power! All crew personnel to bridge. Warning! Engine 4 lost power!
Why do things always have to go wrong? The amnesiac sighed. Then, without waiting for the ship to rattle again, she pushed herself up and ran to the bridge.
“What’s going on?”
Luc looked up from where he stood above the captain. “He’s out cold, he was drinking again. It’s nothing major.
“But engine 4 lost power!”
“Yeah, it almost always does that. Don’t worry about it.” Luc shrugged her off.
“Does the crashing into Mars part always happen too?”
“No . . . Why do you ask?”
Lemon pointed at the swelling red disk in the bridge window.
The Streets of New New York City
Fry looked down and gulped. It was a long way down, a long, long way down. The delivery boy stood at the edge of a tall precipice, the valley below concealed by a thick blanket of white clouds. Fry stepped back; what was he doing here? How’d he get here? What had happened? Did he do something stupid again?
Pine needles pressed themselves into Fry’s back. He turned around, directly behind him a deep pine forest stood erect. The redhead gulped, then called into the gloom.
Hello . . .ello . . . ello
“Is someone there?”
There . . . there . . . there . . .
“Cool, an echo!” Fry laughed maniacally to himself.
“Fry!” Fry yelled back. “Wait . . . that wasn’t an echo . . . Someone’s calling me!”
“Fry! I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”
The redhead spun around. There, before the pine forest stood a purple-haired Cyclops. She watched him with an amused expression.
“Leela! You—you’re alive!”
Something flashed over the Cyclops’s face for a moment. She sighed and shook her head.
“Fry . . .”
“I can’t wait to tell everyone! You’re alive!” Fry danced over to Leela and reached for her hands. The Cyclops refused his touch and retreated a couple of steps back.
“Fry listen, I’m not—”
“Leela come on! We have to get back and tell everyone you’re . . . Leela?”
The Cyclops kept herself a couple of steps away from the delivery boy. “Fry, there’s something you should know-” She hesitated and looked over at the redhead.
Fry was cut off by Leela’s tight embrace. The Cyclops had closed the space between them and now hugged Fry close to herself. The delivery boy, unsure of what else he could do, hugged Leela back.
“I love you, Fry.”
“Leela!” Fry woke with a start and immediately hit his head against a brick wall. “Oww! Leela!” The delivery boy shoved himself up and saw the world spin around him. “Leela!” He keeled over and puked, his hangover finally kicked in. “Lee—“ But the Cyclops was gone with the night. Fry’s dream was over. The redhead slumped to the ground and sighed heavily. For three weeks he’d dreamed of Leela. For three weeks he’d been drunk almost every day. For three weeks he’d wanted it all to end . . . but she wouldn’t want that. She’d want him to keep going. She’d told him to run. She had not gone through with killing him . . .
Fry picked up a brown shard of an old beer bottle and gazed at it. Leela was gone and she was never coming back. “Its not fair...” Fry whispered. He’d lost everything when he came to the future; his family, his dog, his low paying job. Slowly he’d made himself a life a thousand years in the future and the feeling of loss had become smaller and smaller. Now it was back, stronger than before. He’d lost the only woman he would ever truly love. Fry closed his eyes and held the beer bottle shard tightly. Maybe if he wished enough . . .
You have got to be kidding me. We’re all going to die because you couldn’t refuel the tank?! Are you insane?
Leia jerked awake with a start. “That was a weird dream.” Was it possible to survive so many starship crashes? And why was she even on the starship to begin with? My mind must be playing tricks on me. Leia shook her head. “I need coffee.”
The amnesiac stood and immediately groaned; her muscles ached after a night of sleeping on the hard pavement and trash of an alleyway.
“Hey! This is my puke-hole! Get out!” The redhead came from out of nowhere. He shoved and herded Leia out of the alley.
“Hey! Get off!” Leia shoved the redhead off and braced herself against him. “What’s the big idea?”
“I was here first! So get out!” Fry swore. He thought he had been alone. He wanted to be alone. Hadn’t the world done enough to him? Couldn’t it let him drink himself into a stupor in peace?
He must be the drunk from last night. Leia studied the redhead. Besides being a redhead he was unshaved, bedraggled, hunched, and wore a greasy white tee shirt, faded jeans, and a scarlet jacket. Something about him seemed familiar. I think I’ve seen him before.
Fry stared at the intruder to his stoned haven. She—she’s. She’s alive! The delivery boy’s mouth fell open. “L—Leela?”
“What? Who’s Leela?”
“You are! You’re Leela!” Fry rushed forward a wide grin spread across his face.
Leia stepped back, puzzled. Who was Leela? Why did the drunk believe that she was she? Her name was Leia. Her career chip said so. But you don’t have a career chip. That nurse at the hospital gave the doctor a rigged scanner. The words whispered through Leia’s ears. “I’m not Leia.”
“Leela? It’s me, Fry.” The redhead searched the amnesiac’s face for any hint of recognition but found none.
Leia gulped and ran her fingers through her long, purple hair. “F-Fry?”
“Yes! Leela! It’s me! You’re alive!”
What defines the state of living? Is it breathing? Is it being able to move of your own accord? Is it being a zombie like Scruffy the janitor? What happens when someone you thought is dead is alive? What do you say? What do you do? How do you react? Do you go into the impossibilities of the idea? Do you decide that the dead-now-alive person is a zombie and has to be taken out before she turns everyone else into zombies?
Leela was alive.
The purple-haired, bossy, Cyclops who served as starship captain of the Planet Express delivery crew was alive.
At least according to a rather untrustworthy bounty hunter who always appeared when and where you’d least expect him to appear.
Leela is alive? Glanced down at the pile of applications in front of him. Sweet frog of Prague! I just got all these applications alphabetically organized and now into the fire with them? Maybe Leela won’t want her old job back . . .
I should be glad Leela is alive . . . but it was nice to finally be the only woman around here. Bit her lip and nervously rubbed her left index finger over her other hand.
I am so great! Bender is great! Oh, Bender is great! Bender, Bender, Bender . . .
Who’s Leela? Leaned back in his chair. Is it important that she’s alive? Are her organs harvestable?
Bah! Alive! I knew it all along! Looked smugly around the room. Nothing gets past John Zoidberg!
Aren’t any of them going to say anything? Sighed heavily and silently. Do any of them care? Took a step back toward the door.
“If Leela is alive where is she?” Bender raised a metaphoric eyebrow at the bounty hunter. “You clearly stated that we can’t trust you. How do we know you’re telling the truth?”
The bounty hunter stopped in his tracks and turned around to glare at Bender. “As I told you, trusting me is a risky chance that you’ll have to accept. And indulge me, if you are so sure of the Cyclops’s death, then where is your proof? The only argument you have is backed by the occurrence of an explosion and the testimony of someone who nearly always is drunk these days. How can you be so sure of your truth when it may not be the real truth?”
“Then tell us the real truth!”
“What’ll you pay me?”
“Bah! I’ve tried to tell you for weeks that Leela is alive, but does anyone listen to Zoidberg? No! They would rather listen to Mr. Tough Guy.” Zoidberg shook an accusing claw around the conference table.
“Zoidberg, you fool! What’s this nonsense you’re going on about?” Professor Farnsworth spat at the crustacean.
“It was Tuesday the 17th and I was rummaging though the garbage outside-“
“Shove it Zoidberg, we don’t need to hear about all da trash you’ve rummaged through.” Hermes interrupted the crustacean. “Now if Leela were really alive, why hasn’t she already come back here? It’s been three weeks, if she was alive she would’ve come back to us by now.” This was said as an accusation towards the bounty hunter.
“Maybe she can’t or she doesn’t want to. I don’t personally know your Cyclops friend, so I wouldn’t know.” Came the emotionless reply.
“There were some mashed potatoes stuck to the bottom of a shoe that I was licking off and Leela, she walked past me without hitting me. I was honored.“ Ignorant of the others’ conversation around him, Zoidberg continued his tale.
“Leela was in a giant explosion, right?” Bender pulled out a cigar and began to smoke. “So wouldn’t she be injured like you humans so easily are? Theoretically wouldn’t she be at the hospital?”
“Hey, yeah. Bender’s right-“
“I always am.”
—We should go look for her.” Amy finished.
A Passenger ship that is crashing down upon Mars
“What’s going on?” Luc yelled, “This never happened before! All the other times the ship was in peril, it was a false alarm!” He shook Lemon “I’m not trained for this!”
“Shut up, you’re not going to die. Now do as I say before I get angry.” Lemon snarled at the lieutenant.
“We have one chance. Are you willing to do what I say as captain?”
Great the voice is back. “Go to the engine room, divert all remaining power to the remaining three engines, and then shut down any sources that are putting energy into engine four.” Lemon pushed the unconscious captain out of the captain’s seat and took his place.
“Why?” Luc crossed his arms.
Lemon glared menacingly at him. “Do you want to die? Because unless you do as I say you—me and everyone else on this starship are going to be smashed into nothing against Mars.” The starship captain’s patience had run dry and Mars was growing bigger with each passing second. “If we boost the three remaining engines and isolate the fourth completely, we might be able to get out of this.”
“Even if I make you work hard?”
Luc stared at Lemon for a moment, then down at the unconscious captain. He didn’t—Lemon noted—rush off to the engine room. Does this guy actually want to die?” “Go!” She yelled.
The lieutenant finally ran out of the bridge. Lemon heard a few crashes as he pushed his way through the cabin and to the back of the ship to the engine room. She smiled to herself; at least he’d finally listened.
“As Your God as my witness.”
Lemon shivered. She had no idea where the commands she’d just spoken had come from. They’d appeared in her mind as the voice had and her brain sent them to her mouth, which spoke them. Who am I?
Luc returned to the bridge a couple minutes later. “All power has been diverted away from engine 4. The extra power has strained the other three engines but they should hold at least until we reach Io…. Good thinking, you’ve saved the ship and all of our lives.”
“Nothing I haven’t done before.” The words slipped out of Lemon’s mouth before she could realize what she was saying.
Luc glared at the new captain. “That doesn’t give you the right to rub it in my face.”
“Sorry. I’ve had to fly missions where crashing and evasive maneuvers are regularity. Knowing what to do in situations like that is second nature to me.”
“I thought you have amnesia.”
Exactly 15 Minutes Later
Jupiter’s Moon, Io
“This is your captain. We have landed on Io, the current time here is 6:20 pm. Falcon Enterprise reminds you to retrieve your belongings from all corners where they may have ended up and they we are not responsible for any lost luggage. Thank you for flying Falcon.” Lemon put down the intercom with a sigh of relief. Something about being in a starship—controlling it changed her. She felt like someone else completely.
The starship captain pushed herself out of the captain’s chair and walked out of the bridge. She watched as the last straggler passengers disembarked before she left the ship herself. The starship hanger was extremely small—it had to be, it was set in a small valley between two sleeping volcanoes. Lemon shook her head, why of all places would they build a spa—a popular spa—on Io? The moon had active volcanoes and regular lava flows. You’d get burned alive just by walking in the spa doors.
Lemon turned. A man bearing a clipboard jogged up to her.
“Are you the temporary pilot of Flight 598? The one that nearly crashed on Mars?”
“Yes. That would be me.”
“Good.” The man raised an eyebrow and sized up Lemon. “Do you think you can take the return ship back to Earth?”
The amnesiac hesitated. She had gotten the ship to Io without the security of knowing what she was doing. It would be just as easy to take the ship back to Earth, right?
“I can take it.”
“Great. One of the engines on the ship you flew in on is being replaced, so the flight has been pushed back. Be at Terminal 3 in two hours.” The man paused and rifled through his pocket, bringing forth a few bronze coins. “This should be enough for a meal.”
“Don’t thank me. Thank whichever of the higher ups favors you enough to pay for one of your meals.”
It was the color of deep amber with ivory froth at the top. Its glass prison was splotched with stains and scratched veins ran up and down its sides after long being shoved around. The amber liquid only made its escape when a hand grasped its prison and tipped it over.
The beer, Leia noted tasted good. At least it wasn’t staring at her from across the booth, unlike the redhead she’d walked in with. The purple-haired woman put down her beer and glanced uneasily at the redhead. After the incident in the alleyway that morning he had brought her to what he claimed to be a bar they regularly went to.
“So . . .” Leia began toying with her hair. “My name is Turanga Leela?”
“Yes.” Fry’s earlier ecstasy was clouded over by his growing headache. “And you work for Planet Express . . .” he yawned widely “delivery . . . company . . .” he slumped over and fell asleep, weeks of sleepless nights and his hangover catching up with him.
Planet Express Delivery Company.
Leia sighed. Nothing about the business name felt familiar. Nothing about the name ‘Turanga Leela’ felt familiar. She took another long gulp of her beer. Nothing that Fry had told her felt familiar. What if I’m not this Leela person? What if Fry is wrong? She chugged the remainder of her beer and studied the sleeping redhead across from her.
Fry, unaware that he was being observed, drooled slightly from the corner of his mouth onto the table. This was the first time he’d actually fallen asleep instead of falling unconscious after getting hammered and even though his head rested on a not-so-clean table, he was enjoying it.
“You want another drink, hon?” The bartender yelled across the bar to Leia, pitcher in hand. After she nodded, he shoved the pitcher down the bar so it came to a halt across from where Leia sat. She remained where she was for a moment before getting up and refilling her mug. “Tough luck, stuck with him.” The bartender nodded past Leia’s shoulder to Fry “He’s been in here every other evening for three weeks. Y’now ever since his girlfriend died.”
“His girlfriend died?” Leia raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t know, she seemed like his girlfriend; bossed him around and all that.” The bartender began to clean a shot glass. “She looked a lot like you; muscular, purple hair, but she had only one eye. Cyclops.”
A Cyclops? Leia’s hand inadvertently went to her eyes. There were definitely two of them. She gulped. What if? . . . “W-what was her name?”
“The girlfriend’s.” Leia snapped.
“His.” Leia pointed back to the sleeping Fry.
“Uh . . . Leyla? Lula?”
“’Yeah that was the chick’s name. Exploded in the river, you could see the geyser for miles around. Was in the news for a while; the professor guy who owned the company where she worked had finally gone too far or something.” The bartender shrugged. “Wouldn’t be surprised if your friend there mistakes you for her.”