Futurama: Universe of Malice
By Kenneth White
Chapter 1: A Dark Discovery
Black. Black, like a shadow in the dead of night. Like the darkest trench in the deepest ocean. Black. Like a world without stars.
Yet, despite its bleakness, its gloomy shade, it had a shine to its surface. It may have been the darkest thing in existence, but it was smooth and silky, and when light hit it, its edges glistened. Then it swirled. In a circular motion the darkness swirled around its container. Its container was the only thing that kept it from spreading, for you see this blackness was a liquid. A liquid so very dark, and yet so very beautiful.
Then, the swirling stopped. The fluid settled, became tranquil. It did so because it was in a drinking glass. A drinking glass, which had just been placed on a flat surface. A large desk, to be precise.
This desk was situated in an office, and behind the desk was a man. A tall
man, wearing a crimson uniform. Gold bands and buttons adorned his shoulders,
suggesting that this man is of some importance. Six different colored medals also
hung from the left breast of his uniform. With short black hair and a grizzled
beard, the officer sat down in the large black leather chair behind his desk,
turning the chair to face the window behind him. He sighed. A small golden plate
sat on his desk, amongst other things. The words "ADMIRAL GRAHAM GORDON"
were engraved on it.
A small buzzing sound could then be heard, first from the distance, but then it got closer and closer. The Admiral turned to see hovering silver robot. It was round, and about the size of a basketball. The machine approached him smoothly, halting about three feet from him before raising itself slightly to reach his eyeshot level. It had what appeared to be a short lens on the front of it, below which was a typical robotic mouth. A saffron glow emitted from it's underside, the source of this being the device which helped keep it in the air, and it was almost completely spherical, apart from two thin metal arms that jutted out from either side of it. Attached at the end of the arms were three claw fingers. It spoke to the Admiral in a friendly, yet mechanical voice, it's mouth flashing a dim glow at each word.
"Captain Zapp Brannigan to see you, Admiral Gordon."
Admiral Gordon smiled, placing the glass of dark liquid on a coaster on his large desk. He nodded.
"Thank you, Servo. Send him through."
The robot bowed politely. "At once, sir," it buzzed, before it gracefully turned
and glided back around the corner where it had entered. The sliding sound of a
door was heard, followed by the voice of Servo.
"The Admiral will see you now, Captain."
"Thank you," said an arrogant male voice in response, before the source of
the voice stepped around the corner and saluted the superior officer. He was a
tall man, at least as tall as Admiral Gordon. With wide shoulders and neat blonde
hair, Captain Zapp Brannigan had an aura of confidence, as well as arrogance,
to him. His uniform, like the admirals, was a bright crimson of velour material,
and also showed off most of his legs. The Admiral saluted back and smiled.
"At ease, Captain."
Zapp disengaged his salute and quickly grabbed the dark red leather chair that
sat in front of the Admiral's desk. He sat in it heavily, putting his feet upon
the edge of the desk. Taking a cigarette from his pocket, he put it in his mouth
at lit it with a lighter. Inhaling deeply, Zapp breathed in the tobacco smoke
and then blew it back through his nostrils, a sigh of relaxation escaping his
mouth. He leant back with a large friendly smirk on his face, then spoke with
sure-footed pride in his voice.
"So, Admiral. Why have you brought me here? No doubt some death defying intergalactic mission that only I could handle, hmmmmm?"
The Admiral didn't look very pleased, but even though Zapp was looking directly
at him, he didn't act like he recognised Gordon's anger. Admiral Gordon raised
his arm, then swung it down towards Zapp's face. The outspread hand passed millilitres
from Zapp's face, flicking the freshly lit cigarette from between the Captain's
lips. The smoking leaves and paper gracefully landed on the think blue carpet
that furnished the room. Within seconds, a small door opened in the wall behind
Zapp, no taller than a foot high. Out of it raced what looked like a red mini
fire engine, complete with small flashing lights and a long white gun on the top.
Stopping a few inches from the cigarette, the gun sprayed a small amount of fluffy
cream foam on it. The tiny red vehicle then backed up, zooming back into the hole
from whence it came, the door closing behind it. As soon as the hatch closed,
another door directly to the left of it also opened, and from behind that a small
yellow bulldozer appeared. It raced over to the pile of foam, scooping it and
what remained of the doused cigarette up, and then it also returned to it's home
in the wall.
Zapp turned his attention away from the floor where the diminutive vehicles were and faced the Admiral again. Gordon glared down at him.
"Dammit, Brannigan! How many times have I told you not to smoke in my office?!"
Zapp shrunk back and removed his feet from the desk. "Sorry, sir," he said.
"You said at ease, so I--"
"That's not what 'at ease' means, and you know it Brannigan!!" bellowed Admiral Gordon, cutting the Captain off.
There was an unpleasant silence for a few seconds, then the Admiral turned away towards the large window behind his desk. The view outside indicated that the office was somewhere in space, as shown by the bright specks of stars. It also indicated that it wasn't on a moving craft, as the stars moved extremely slowly, turning rather than travelling in a single straight direction. The surface of a planet then came into view from the window, suggesting that whatever they were on was in the orbit of it. Gordon turned back to face Brannigan again. He spoke.
"Brannigan, I have a special mission for you to undertake. Before I can give
it to you though, I must swear you to secrecy. This is classified information
I'm going to give you, and we can only let a small group of individuals know about
Brannigan thought for a while. "You can trust me, Admiral," answered with pride
in his voice. Gordon smiled.
"I certainly hope I can, Captain. I certainly hope I can."
The Admiral picked up the glass of black liquid, and handed it to Zapp. Zapp received the glass, and looked into it.
"What the hell is this... uh, Sir?" he asked, suddenly realising who he was talking to.
"That," said the Admiral, "is what this is all about."
A slight moment of silence followed. The Admiral spoke.
"Drink it. Just a sip."
Zapp looked at the liquid again, then returned his gaze to his superior. Gordon nodded. Zapp shrugged and tentatively took a sip. His eyes lit up, and a huge smile came across his face. Admiral Gordon laughed.
"How do you feel now, Brannigan?"
Zapp placed the glass back on the desk and stood up, a look of elation on his face.
"I feel great!" he beamed. "Energised! As if every molecule in my body is charged up!"
Zapp swung at the air with his fists, punching thin air and laughing with satisfaction. Then he stopped, and looked towards the Admiral with a curious expression on his face. He asked the simple question.
"What is that stuff?"
Admiral Gordon smirked. "That, my friend, is a substance known by the DOOP
as Black Spirit. It has been studied by our scientists most carefully, and we
believe it may be the most valuable substance known to man."
The Admiral sat down in his chair and leaned forward, his elbows on his desk. He continued.
"It's rare, Brannigan. Very rare. So far it has only been found on a single
"Why is it so valuable?" asked Zapp. "I mean, so it's a great energy drink,
The superior DOOP member suddenly lent back and let out a laugh. He then leant forward again, speaking in a quiet tone.
"That's not all. This is no mere drink, Zapp."
Putting his hand in his uniform's left pocket, Gordon pulled out a small black cube. It was approximately one square inch in size. He flicked the object to Zapp, who caught it between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand. He examined it as the Admiral elucidated.
"That is how the substance is found on Cimmerian, the planet where we discovered
it. It's a dark stormy world that's over 2500 light years from Earth. It resides
in a solar system with seven other planets that all orbit a sun that's almost
twice as large as our own. The second planet from its sun, there's no oxygen and
the temperatures are extremely high, so you'll have to wear special environmental
suits on the planet."
"So, why is this stuff so special?" Zapp asked.
"When it's hit with a thin beam of electricity, the substance turns into its
liquid form. Once in this form it's almost pure energy. It can be not only used
for an energy drink, but for fuel, plant fertiliser, and even for robots and weapons."
"My God!" said Zapp in awe. "We've discovered the ultimate energy source!"
"Exactly," the Admiral replied. "And that's not all. This stuff is extremely
concentrated. One teaspoon of that liquid will fuel the average cargo transport
vessel for a month. Hell, you'll be energised for two months yourself from that
one sip you took earlier. But like I said, it's rare, which brings me to your
"Go on," Zapp encouraged. The Admiral nodded.
"You see, DOOP have a mining crew on the planet of about two hundred men. We
have for about a month. But we have no defences, and despite the fact that we're
trying to keep this under our hats, word is spreading amongst other races. Some
of them are dangerous. Your mission is to choose fifty of your best men, plus
yourself and your first mate, and go to Cimmerian to oversee the mining process,
guarding it from any attacks until a suitable defence post can be set up on the
planet. The crew building the planned defences will accompany you and when production
is completed, and the defences are running, you and your first mate may return
back to HQ. The other fifty men will stay to run the base, and I'll send a Commander
to take command there."
"Sounds exiting," Zapp commented. "When do we leave?"
"Tomorrow at 1800 hours GMT. Your orders now are to choose your fifty men from
DOOP's finest men, three of them Lieutenants and the rest Ensigns."
Admiral Gordon raised to his feet, standing straight.
"Captain Brannigan, you are dismissed."
The Admiral saluted, and Zapp returned the salute, then turned and left. He sat down with a heavy sigh as he heard the door slide behind the departing Captain. Servo glided back around the corner and stopped in front of Gordon's desk. He spoke in his usual friendly, robotic manner.
"Would you like anything, Admiral Gordon?"
"Yes," the Admiral replied in a dry voice. "A whisky."
The droid nodded its whole body in retort, then disappeared around the corner. It returned about ten seconds later with a bottle of dark liquor and a glass on a silver platter. After placing it on the officer's desk, the Admiral immediately poured the dark golden liquid into the glass, then took a sip. He sighed, a sigh of both exhaustion and satisfaction.
"That Black Spirit may be one hell of an energy drink, but its no substitute
for good old alcohol."
Emptying the glass, Admiral Graham Gordon turned towards the large window to
look at the planet Earth beneath.
Meanwhile, thousands of light years away in deep space, a large silver orb
passed closely by a large red sun. A sun approximately twice as large as the Earth's.
To be continued