Futurama: Universe of Malice, Part 11
By Kenneth White
Chapter 11 - Challenging Battles and Difficult Decisions
Admiral Graham Gordon stared out the view screen at the enemy.
"Is everybody in position, Lieutenant?"
"Yes, Admiral Gordon," Lieutenant Berts replied.
"Excellent," the Admiral said. "The time has come. Begin Plan B, Lieutenant."
"Plan B, sir?"
"Well, what happened to Plan A?"
"Everybody always starts with Plan A," Admiral Gordon stated pragmatically. "I wanted to be original. Carry out my order, Lieutenant."
Lieutenant Berts pressed a button on his control panel and spoke, directing his voice into the panel itself.
"Attention, all ships. Begin to move in on target at cautious speed."
He pressed a few more buttons and spoke into the panel again.
"Charge up your weapons, Mister Sal."
Inside his gigantic death ray, sitting at the controls in a bubble dome, Sal received the call and replied.
"You gots its, Lieutenants," the large, lazy man said.
Sal pressed another button and spoke.
"Get your lasers charged ups, Sam," he said. "We's gots somethings to destroys."
"Roger," replied his friend from another identical planet destroying gun. The two pieces of destructive machinery began to follow the other ships that were already making their way towards the threat, powering up slowly as they did.
"How far are we from the target now, Lieutenant?" Gordon queried.
"One million, four hundred and twenty seven thousand, four hundred kilometres, and closing."
"Excellent. Keep going until the planet destroyers are in range or the target makes any hostile actions."
The ships all travelled on. A mix of many different ships, from many different planets. Omicronians, Globetrotters, Decapodians, and even some Neutral ships. Admiral Gordon smiled as he watched their objective slowly got closer and closer.
"Too bad we don't know its sensor range, or even how it's sensors work. What's the range on those planet destroyers?"
"I believe just under five-hundred thousand kilometers, sir."
The Admiral gritted his teeth.
"This is getting tense! I'm just waiting for that thing to turn towards us. Range now?"
"Nine-hundred and fifty seven thousand kilometres and closing."
"Just a few more hundred thousand and this war will officially begin," Gordon stated.
"Lieutenant Commander Raker!" Ensign McGinley called into his communicator. "I think I've found the place!"
The rest of the hooded DOOP soldiers soon arrived at when McGinley stood. The Ensign pointed to a tall, heavily armoured building underneath a wide freeway.
"Good work, Peter," Raker said. "Let's check it out. I can't believe it took us more than nine hours to find it. But where's Lieutenant Fitzgerald?"
McGinley tapped his communicator.
"I can't get through to him, he's cut off his connection!"
"Damn!" answered Raker. "And his gun would have been good in this situation! Never mind, we can do it without him. Set guns to highest stun level."
The others all set their guns, the weapons making small powering up sounds as they did. Raker pressed a door buzzer button. A raspy voice emitted from a nearby speaker.
"What do you want?!" it demanded.
"We're here to see the bounty hunter called Outlaw," Raker stated. "We need him to assassinate somebody for us."
"Assassinations aren't cheap!" it snapped back. "I assume you have payment?"
"Of course," Raker answered. "Five million Earthican dollars."
The sound of musing could be heard through the speaker.
"Very well then. Leave your weapons at the door and we shall discuss business."
A large drawer slid out near the door, and the soldier's complied with the request, dropping their guns into it. The drawer closed again when they were done, and the main door slid aside, granting the troupe access. They entered the darkened hallway and ascended a nearby staircase. At the top of it waited a strange figure. It was tall, wearing flexible looking armour and a cloak. It's arms were crossed as it stood in an almost impatient pose, two dark slits letting it see out of the otherwise face-covering metal helmet it wore. In it's left hand was a long pistol.
"Follow me!" it said before striding off down the corridor and into a room at the end of it. The group did as they were told, and upon entering the room, found the doors closed behind them. The figure spoke.
"I am Outlaw! State your business, I don't like to waste time!"
"We're after some information, Outlaw," said Raker forcefully. "We need to know where you got the gem that you sold to Shoggoth on Cthulu 4."
"What?!!" Outlaw exclaimed. "I thought you wanted to discuss an assassination?!! Who are you really?!"
"That's not your concern!" Raker snapped. "Now tell me! Where did you get this gem?!"
Raker held out the Ruby of Utopia in his hand. Outlaw just sneered at him and pointed his gun straight at Raker.
"Remove your hoods! Now!"
Raker sighed and the group all reluctantly revealed their faces. Outlaw began to chuckle wickedly from behind his helmet.
"Well, if it isn't a group of soldiers from the Democrapic Order of Planets!" he snickered. "I know some people who would be willing to pay a lot of money for you to sell to other people who are willing to pay a lot of money for you!"
"I think we blew it, Bill?" Kif whispered aside to Raker.
"Oh, why don't you state the obvious?!" Outlaw said. "Now, all of you, hand over your communicators!"
"What are you going to do with us?!" asked Ensign McGinley.
"I told you. I'm going to sell you to people who will pay a lot of money for you to sell you to people who are willing to pay a lot of money for you! Didn't you listen?!"
"Yes," nodded McGinley. "But I had to ask the obvious question."
"That's a pretty stupid thing to do!" said Outlaw. "Unless of course you were stalling for time in order to do something. Y'know, like slowly take a weapon hidden under your robe or contact a friend who is waiting outside my door? Something like that."
"No, I wasn't stalling for time. I've got nothing to stall for."
"Oh. Then that was a pretty stupid thing to do!"
"Well, now that you've caught us," said Kif. "You can tell us where you got the jewel anyway."
"Why?!" Outlaw snapped. "Are you stalling for time?!"
"No," said Kif honestly. "I... I've got nothing."
"Good, because if you were, I'd have to break all your bones!"
"Actually, I don't have any bones. I'm made of a system of fluid-filled bladders that...."
"Shut up!" the bounty hunter yelled. "Alright, I'll tell you where I got the stupid gem! I stole it from Lord Suikkanen, the rich owner of a large mining colony on the planet Graz! You all happy now?!"
The DOOP soldiers all just nodded. The next few seconds were just filled with silence, with nobody doing anything. After a while Outlaw spoke.
"That's it?! he exclaimed with shock. Raker and the others all just looked at each other.
"What do you mean?" Raker asked.
"I mean, is that all you're going to do?! Stand there?! Now that you know what you want, none of you is going to try and jump me so you can escape?!"
Outlaw's questions were just answered with a bunch of simultaneous mumbles from the DOOP men, each response a negative one.
"Man, you guys are boring!" Outlaw snorted. "I thought at least ONE of you would try something... but oh, well. In that case, we might as well--"
Outlaw's speech was cut off abruptly, as a bright pink laser bolt hit him in the chest and sent him reeling into the door. As he lay motionless on the metallic floor, the group turned towards the source of the blast. There, standing in the window, was Lieutenant Fitzgerald, holding his trademark gun. The group all cheered.
"Thanks for that, Lieutenant!" Raker beamed. "You saved our bacon with that one."
"I didn't know you guys were even in here!" Fitzgerald said in awe. "I was just going around the various buildings and randomly blasting criminals."
"Well, you did good anyway. Incidentally, did you stun him or kill him?"
"Just stunned. I don't want to get in trouble for random killing!"
"That's fine. The important thing is, we know where we're heading next. The planet Graz.
"Admiral! Target is starting to turn towards us!"
Admiral Gordon leapt up from his seat and stood beside the Lieutenant.
"Range, Lieutenant?!" he asked desperately.
"We're still at over six hundred thousand kilometres, sir!"
"Damn! Ensign Teral! Open a channel to all ships!"
Teral, who operated a computer at the back of the bridge, pressed a series of buttons.
"Channel open, sir."
"Admiral Gordon to all ships! Target is assuming offensive stance! Scramble! I repeat, Scramble!!"
No sooner had the order gone out when the ships all began to separate from their grouping, veering off in random directions.
"Sal! You are your friend increase speed and keep the lasers trained on the target," the Admiral ordered. "Fire as soon as you're within range!"
"You gots it!" a said a lazy reply.
"Admiral!" said a desperate voice from the rear, right hand side of the bridge. "Target is now facing towards us! Scans show an incredible amount of energy building up from it!"
"Range of planet destroyers, Lieutenant Berts?!" the Admiral ordered, spinning to face him.
"Just over five hundred thousand, sir. They should be in range in eleven seconds."
"Enemy firing, sir!" said a female Ensign at the right-hand rear side. "The blast will reach area in eight seconds!!!"
"Diameter of blast, Ensign Gunn?!""
"Holy crap!!! Two and a half kilometers, sir!!!"
"ALL SHIPS, GET OUT OF THE WAY OF THAT BLAST!!!!" the Admiral yelled.
Suddenly a long purple stream of energy shot by the starboard side of the ship, the edge of the blast only about a mile away. The whole bridge of the ship was filled with a bright violet glow as the titanic blast of energy roared past them, eventually disappearing after a few seconds.
"No damage to us, sir. But we lost the Aerosol, as well as seven other non-DOOP ships! Two Decapodian, one Globetrotter, one Omicronian and three Neutral ships!"
"My God!" Gordon gasped. "When are the planet destroyers due to--"
The Admiral cut himself off as he heard a blast and saw two yellow beams shoot into the distance, one from either side of the ship. Lieutenant Berts spoke.
"Impact in ten..... nine..... eight..... seven..... six..... five..... four..... three..... two..... one....."
The two beams hit the side of the beast in different places. Inside, Zapp and Baldur, who had been walking through a large metallic corridor, found themselves knocked to their feet.
"What the hell is that?!!" Baldur asked as it continued to shake.
"Maybe this thing has indigestion?" Zapp pondered.
"Idiot!," Baldur snorted "I think something is trying to attack it. I'd bet my entire juice-box collection on it!"
Zapp screamed like a girl.
"We'll be killed!"
He began to sob like a baby.
"And I only ever made it with one woman!!"
"Shut up, you fool! We're going to be fine! There's NO WAY that anything can stop this beast. If I, the GREATEST warrior EVER couldn't, what chance does anybody else have?!"
"Has anybody told you, you have massive ego issues?" Zapp stated. Baldur just
sneered at him with an annoyed grunt.
Outside, Sal reported back to Admiral Gordon's ship.
"Admirals! These lasers can't takes much mores! They're overheatings!"
"Target damage report, Ensign Hayes?" the Admiral queried.
"Negative, sir. No damage yet."
"Keep it up, Sal!" Gordon ordered. "You two have to breach the beast's hull!"
"These lasers aren't meants for continuous firings!" Sal said back. "It's at a very critical temperatures!"
"Doesn't matter! Keep it going!"
"Sir!" said Ensign Hayes. "The target is beginning to power up again!"
"Admirals!" Sal's pleaded into his console. "We have to stops! We have to..... YAAAAAARGH!!!!"
Sal's scream was the last thing heard through the communications channel to the Nebula as an explosion was heard from the port side of the ship. The beam from Sal's gigantic gun disappeared as the craft blew apart in a series of explosions, sending small bits of debris in every direction. Sam's gun followed suit on the starboard side, blasting into several pieces. But one bit of shrapnel was larger than the rest, as the laser barrel and a chunk of burning, melted ship spun away from the blast and shot straight into side of the nearby DOOP ship, the Coma.
"External damage report, Lieutenant!!" ordered Gordon.
"Both planet destroyers destroyed. Heavy damage to the port engines of the Coma."
"Port engines?" Gordon queried.
"I mean starboard engines."
"That's what I thought."
Commodore Grace's face appeared on the view screen. There was a lot of yelling aboard her ship, with noticeable fires and other damage. She sounded afraid as she spoke, but still kept her composure. There was also a lot of static and the image wasn't very clear.
"We've taken serious damage, Admiral!" she said. "We've begun the evacuation, so prepare to accept life pods and shuttles from us! We haven't got--"
The transmission ended and was replaced by the Coma exploding into thousands of pieces. Five escape pods could be seen flying away from the blast, but the two rear-most ones were engulfed in the flames. Things got worse, as the front-most one was unluckily hit by a large chuck of careening debris, destroying it almost instantly, and forcing the next pod to dodge the blast, less it suffer the same fate. Stress and sadness were evident on the Admiral's face as he sat in his chair and quickly issued an order into the microphone in his armrest.
"Retrieve those pods, immediately! Medical officers, stand by to treat any patients!!"
He turned to Ensign Hayes.
"The two remaining pods each hold eight people, sir."
With a yell of frustration, Admiral Gordon buried his head in his hands.
"Incoming blast!!" a voice screamed from behind him.
"ALL SHIPS, GET AS FAR FROM THAT BLAST AS YOU CAN!!!"
Another beam of purple shot past, although it was further away than the last one. When it had ended, Gordon once again yelled for a damage report.
"No ships damaged or lost, sir," said Berts. "We got lucky this time, sir."
"Good! Order to all ships! Split up so that you are at LEAST three kilometres away from any other ship! We're going to Plan C! All ships, attack the monster with weapons at full power. Shields will NOT stop that blast anyway, so we're all going to hit that thing with all we've got! Release all the fighters and any other small offensive ships that you can when you get within fifty thousand kilometres of it! We're going to destroy this beast, if it's the last thing we do!"
"You heard the man!" said Captain "Bubblegum" Tate from his Globetrotter Command Ship. "Attack!"
"Destroy the beast!" yelled Lrrr from his Omicronian battleship.
"All Decapod ships, seek and destroy!" ordered Decapod Captain Zork.
"Go to tan alert," order the Neutral Admiral.
"Destroy him, my robots!" yelled Mom.
Every ship blasted off towards the machine in an offensive stance, each one not too close to any other ships. Admiral Gordon smiled from his seat.
"That thing surely won't be able to handle all of us attacking it at once."
A robotic voice echoed through every one of the DOOP ships.
"Battle stations! Battle stations!...."
Inside them, DOOP troops frantically pressed buttons and pulled levers, causing panels to slide aside and hatches to open, as large guns and other weaponry popped out of the large crafts. Other ships began to brandish their weapons, and tiny fighter craft began to fly from docking ports, some of them in swarms. Every vessel, big or small, had a common prey.
Inside the monster, Zapp and Baldur continued to walk. It had been a while since the area had stopped shaking, so they continued on their way. Baldur stopped and pointed ahead.
"Look! An end to this blasted, never-ending passage!"
The little warrior began to jog towards the apparent exit, but Zapp just slowly followed at a gradual walking pace. As soon as Baldur stopped, his eyes widened in awe.
"Great God of Juice!!!" he exclaimed.
He was standing at the opening of the large, long metal passageway they had been wandering along, which was in a tall vertical wall. It had to be at least a mile to the ground from the opening he was in to the area he was now looking at, and in this area was rows of large metallic objects. They looked like massive domes, each one twice the size of a sports stadium. They all had a long, tubular piece of metal attached to them, which was sitting almost deadly horizontal and pointing to the left, while the right hand side was just a tall and long metal wall. There was plenty of room above them for some reason. Zapp finally caught up with Baldur and jumped at the sight himself.
"Yaaargh! What the hell are those things?!"
"I.... don't...... know....." said a still awestruck Baldur. "There must be miles upon MILES of them! They probably continue under us?"
As Baldur attempted to lean over the edge to peer down, his forehead sparked and sizzled and he was thrown backwards slightly.
"What happened?!" asked Zapp.
"There's some kind of blasted force field there!!" the warrior growled back, rubbing his head.
"You mean we walked ALL this way to come to a dead end?!"
"Perhaps not! Stand back!!"
Zapp squealed and quickly ran aside as Baldur put his hand out and produced a ball of energy. The ball shot into the opening, but then ricocheted back. Baldur yelled and ducked as it shot back at him. It went over his head and disappeared into the darkness behind them. Baldur growled loudly.
"WHY IS EVERYTHING IN HERE STRONGER THAN ME?!!!"
"I'm not," said Zapp quietly.
"When I get mad at something, y'know what I do? Blame Kif."
"What the HELL is Kif?!"
"He's this little green wimp who does what I tell him to do."
"Hmmmmmmm....." Baldur pondered, rubbing his chin. "I never did like little green wimps."
Baldur shook his head.
"Shut up! You're clouding the issue here!! We need to find a way out of here!!!"
"Why don't you just fly through that opening above us?"
Baldur looked up. Sure enough, there was an opening right above them. It disappeared into darkness, hinting that it went up quite far.
"HOW LONG DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT?!!" Baldur demanded.
"Since I had to avoid your power ball thing."
Then Baldur suddenly snickered.
"But there's no way for YOU to get up there. You can't fly."
He laughed out loud.
"You'll have to carry me then," Zapp suggested.
Baldur laughed even harder.
"Fat chance, moron!! Besides, you've pissed me off enough already!!"
"But we've got along so well," Zapp said. "In fact, you remind me of me when you were my age."
"What?!! You don't even know how old I am!! Enough foolishness! I'm leaving!!"
"Wait!" said Zapp. "Look!"
The Captain was pointing towards the shielded opening. There, a large, long pipe was slowly positioning itself over the hole. The pipe was hollow and once it had completely covered over the opening, it created a bridge from it to wherever the other end led. It was like the corridor has suddenly been continued.
"See," Zapp stated. "Our path has been led out for us."
He waved his arm between where the corridor ended and the new pipe-bridge started.
"The shield has been deactivated."
Zapp began to march confidently into it, but stopped when Baldur called out.
Zapp listened carefully. There was a rumbling in the distance from where they had come from. And it was getting louder and closer.
"Sounds like........ rushing water....." Zapp wondered.
Baldur looked in the direction of the noise, a cool breeze suddenly passed him. There was moisture in it.
"IT IS!!!" he yelled.
Baldur quickly grabbed Zapp by the collar and hoisted him up before flying into the opening above. As soon as he had, the two looked down to see a massive torrent of water rushing under them. The noise was incredible, and strong gusts of cold air were forced up past them. After well over two minutes, the water had almost completely disappeared. Everything was calm again. Zapp looked at Baldur.
"You saved my life!"
"Shut up!" Baldur snorted. He dropped Zapp into a trickling puddle on the hard ground.
"DON'T make me regret it, fool! I may still have a further need for you!"
As Baldur landed softly of the ground, Zapp began to lick the water from the floor.
"So thirsty!! Haven't drunk anything for days!!!"
"At least drink with some dignity! Not like a dehydrated canine!"
Baldur pointed at a puddle of water, and Zapp just watched in amazement as all the surrounding water within two feet of where Baldur pointed began to become drawn into a single, large droplet of water. Baldur then raised the ball of water, which was about the amount that would fit in a large glass, into the air. He opened his mouth, and the water-ball shot straight into it. He gulped it sound with a satisfied smile.
"Not as tasty and refreshing as juice, but it did the job."
"How the hell do you do that?!" Zapp asked. "That and all your other weird energy.... stuff?"
"It's very simple. Mental energy. You turn mental energy into a physical energy. Concentration is the key. It takes years of training to master it though."
"Can anybody do it?"
"Yes, but only certain species, like mine, can use it to that extent. Weaker races can do simple mental things. Only a few can master it to the same degree as myself."
"I see...." Zapp replied, cocking an eyebrow unsurely.
"Blast!!" said Baldur. "The bridge is gone! And the force field is no doubt back in place!"
"Why did all that water come rushing through anyway?"
"How the hell should I know?!! Probably some kind of cooling system or something! Maybe it's partially water-powered, I don't know?!!"
"What the hell?!" exclaimed Zapp. "Part of the wall on the right hand side is opening up!"
"Oh great! What's going to happen now?!"
Outside the beast, Admiral Gordon continued to lead the attack against the metallic monster. He yelled orders to the officers around him as they frantically worked away.
"Keep the ship away from the mouth and maintain attack, Lieutenant!"
"Sir," said Ensign Hayes. "We haven't lost any ships yet, and the creature hasn't fired any blasts since the second one. But there are no reports that it has taken any damage either."
"We have to keep trying, Hayes!"
A transmission came through the view screen at that moment. The face of Admiral Zederick appeared."
"It's no good, Gordon! Our blasts are having no effect on the creature. We've got hundreds of craft all shooting at it, but no results!"
"Sir!" interrupted Lieutenant Berts. "Area's on the side of it are opening up!"
Gordon looked at Berts' display.
"Many ships are reporting the same, sir. It appears that the openings are appearing along the whole equator of it. For what reason, is so far unknown."
"What the devil is it doing now?" Gordon mumbled under his breath.
"Well, it's opened up," said Zapp. "And.... Hey! Look! There's space out there!"
"Aaargh! We must be close to the edge of this thing!! If it wasn't for this blasted shield we could escape!!"
"But there's no air out there," Zapp stated.
"I had never considered that!!" said Baldur slapping his head. "All this while I was planning to escape, I never thought about air!!"
"Heyyyyy..." said Zapp squinting. "I think there are ships out there? Do you think this thing is going to let them in? I wonder if that's why it opened."
Suddenly, with an ear-splitting mechanical roar, all the massive tubular pieces attached to the spheres below moved. Almost in sequence, from the one closest to them to the furthest one they could see, they all lifted up into the air, then swung back down again with a loud, metallic clang. This changed their position from left to right, as the titanic cylinders faced towards the gap to point outside.
"Oh no!!!" said Baldur in the back of his throat. "I think I know what those things are?!!"
No sooner had he spoke, than the telescopic cylinders grew longer, and actually pointed out of the gaps. Baldur sighed.
Many of the ships outside the monster found out the hard way, as many of the gargantuan barrels aimed and fired. The smaller ships were reduced to space dust. The larger ones suffered a slightly more drawn out destruction.
"Sir, we've lost twenty five fighters, two Omicronian battle cruisers, the Cumulus, a Globetrotter ship, and three Decapodian warships!!"
"The monster's fighting back. Those gaps that opened up had guns behind them. Big guns! And there's THOUSANDS of them!!"
A young DOOP Captain's face appeared on screen.
"Admiral. If I time it right, I think I may be able to pilot my ship into one of those gaps!"
"No! We can't risk it, Captain!"
"But I we can get inside, we may be able to create a chain reaction within it!"
The Admiral pondered the idea.
"Very well. Proceed, Captain Waterfall."
The Captain disappeared off the screen.
"Ensign Hayes," Gordon said. "How many DOOP ships are still operational?"
"Six, sir. Us, the Corona, the Mushroom, the Plasma, the Stratus, the Freedom and the Nova"
Captain Waterfall narrowly dodged two laser bolts as he guided the Freedom towards the gap between two large guns. Unfortunately, they both took aim and hit the Freedom dead-on. A bloodcurdling scream came through the speakers on the bridge of Gordon's ship.
"We're down to five now, sir," said Hayes. "Captain Waterfall failed his attempt."
Another ensign leapt up from his post at a console.
"I'll avenge you, Dad!!"
He quickly made a dash for the door.
"No, Ensign Waterfall!!!" called Admiral Gordon.
But it was too late. He had gone, and within moments he could be seen out the window piloting a small DOOP fighter ship towards the beast. He didn't get very far before a red laser shot hit the craft and turned it to ashes. Gordon sighed.
"We can't keep this up, sir," said Ensign Teral.
From his ship, Captain Tate stood and also gave orders. The ships of his two most trusted Commanders sat on either side of his vessel.
"Sweet Clyde! Curly Joe! Concentrate all fire into the gap on my mark! It's time to roast this jive-ass turkey!"
"Roger, Bubblegum!" came two simultaneous replies.
"Steady..... steady..... NOW!!"
Large aqua blasts from all three of the ships shot into the nearby gap. Two of the lasers in the gap shot back, one hitting the edge of Sweet Clyde's ship, the other exploding into the prow of Curly Joe's. Bubblegum Tate gasped.
The ship exploded, sending debris in all directions. Very little of what was left was recognizable.
"We lost him, Bubblegum!" said Sweet Clyde's sad voice. "He's slam dunking with the original Globetrotters now!"
"How's your ship?" Bubblegum queried.
"We took heavy damage to our starboard side, but we'll be fine. It's nothing compared to what happened to Curly Joe."
"This is getting too risky!" Tate yelled. "Attention, all Globetrotter ships! Pull out! I repeat! Pull out!"
As the Globetrotters fell back, the head of Charlton Heston sat atop a pedestal on the Nova's bridge. One of his Lieutenants spoke.
"Captain Heston, the Globetrotters are pulling out!"
"Those wimps!" snarled Heston's head. "They need to learn to stay and fight!"
His entire ship suddenly shook, accompanied by an exploding sound. An Ensign standing behind Heston's jar steadied it until it stopped.
"Damage report!" Heston barked.
"No major damage, but weapons are down. We have no guns, sir."
"What?!! Get those repaired immediately! That beast is going to have to do better than THAT! He'll have to pry them from my cold, dead hands!"
He paused and snickered to himself.
"Speaking of which..... could you get those for me, Ensign?"
The Ensign nodded and left, then soon returned with another jar, just like the one Heston's head was in. Except this jar contained two severed hands. One had a pistol in it. He placed it on another pedestal next to Heston's one.
"Yes, much better," the captain quipped.
Back on the Nebula, Admiral Gordon continued to fret over the situation. Admiral French appeared on-screen.
"We can't keep this up, Gordon! We have to fall back! The Globetrotters are already retreating! We've only got five warships left. And our fighters are just cannon fodder!"
His face was replaced by Lrrr's.
"Foolish Earth Admiral!! Do you have any idea how many Omicronian lives have been lost?!"
"No, I don't," said Admiral Gordon honestly.
"GRRR!!" the Omicronian leader yelled.
"Your loss is great, but there's no need to growl at me!" the Admiral said.
"No, I was calling my Chief of Security, Grrr. He'll be able to tell me. But hear this warning, Admiral! Unless you pull us all out of here, we are leaving, and ALL Earth treaties are severed!!!"
His face was then replaced by Mom's.
"Call this off, you bastard! I've already lost my son, Igner to this abomination!!"
Admiral Gordon sighed, slumped in his chair as her image disappeared.
"They're right," he said to nobody in particular. "We can't win this now. Not like this anyway."
He stood up and spoke aloud.
"Admiral Gordon to all ships. Strategic retreat! I repeat RETREAT!!! Pull out all your ships and rendezvous at the coordinates I send you."
Fry wearily opened his eyes, only to shut them again quickly as the morning sun flared into his face. Fry covered it with his right hand, then noticed that, like the previous night, Alesia was snuggled up to him, sleeping soundly with her head nestled into his chest and one arm draped over him. At some point in the night she must have come over to him, because when he carried her from the beach back to the cove the night before, he had placed her on her own bed. Fry smiled at her for a moment, enjoying the simple experience of just lying there with her. He was surprised she had decided to sleep so close to him, he must have smelled terrible. His clothes were sweaty, bloody and dirty. And then there was that infected gash.
'Maybe I should clean it?' he thought to himself.
He attempted to slide out from under Alesia without waking her, but she stirred in the process.
"Oh, good morning," Fry said as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. "Sleep well?"
"Yes, thank you," she smiled back. "Where are you going?"
"I'm going to clean this gash again, if that's okay?"
"Sure," she said yawning loudly and stretching. "I'll grab us some fruit to eat."
Fry stepped out of the cove, only to quickly dive back behind the rocks. He grabbed Alesia's arm and stopped her from leaving, a look of fright on his face.
"What is it?" she asked.
"Ssssshhh!" Fry hushed with a whisper. "There's another Seilarch down the beach!"
"What?!" Alesia exclaimed, whispering also.
"Yeah! It looked like it was trying to catch some fish with its tail or something? We need to get out of here and make for the city!"
"Okay then. We'll... what city?!!"
"Oh. You fell asleep last night before I could tell you," Fry explained. "There's a city over there. I saw its lights last night. If we follow the beach, we should reach it. I think that's where your PTV is."
"How do we know it's not just filled with more Seilarch?"
"I don't know, but if we want to get to the PTV, we need to go there. If we slowly hug the edges of the cliffs and inch our way towards it, the Seilarch shouldn't notice us."
Alesia nodded. Fry led the way, and the slowly made their way along the edges of the cliffs. After a while they could see the monster in the distance, standing at the water's edge with its tail dipped in. Alesia's heart rate rose as she remembered their last encounter with one. They continued to move along, the rock to their backs, until Fry stopped suddenly and stopped Alesia also.
"Stay perfectly still!" he said. "It's looking this way!"
For a while, the creature stood there unmoved, its head facing towards them. But it wasn't long before it looked into the sky and let out a piercing and fearsome screech. Then, it began to gallop towards the two humans at a fantastic pace.
"RUN!!" yelled Fry.
Alesia didn't wait, as the two of them bounded through the sandy shoreline. This, of course, made running very difficult and painful, and there was no way they could even match the speed of their chaser, let alone beat it.
"We're.... not.... going.... to.... make..... it....." Alesia gasped between breaths. "We..... can't.... out.... run.... it!"
Fry turned to see it was now only a few metres behind them.
'But perhaps I can outsmart it,' he thought to himself.
As fast as he could, Fry simultaneously stopped, whipped out his dagger, turned and thrust out the blade, hoping that the creature would run straight into it. The plan failed though, as the monster did a huge somersault and landed on it's feet a few feet ahead of where they were running. Alesia screamed and dug into the sand to break herself so that she didn't run into it, while Fry cursed under his breath that his trick had failed. The Seilarch just smiled malevolently, turned around, and leapt into the air towards them both.
But just as gravity's force had began to make the Seilarch descend on them, it suddenly jerked violently in mid air and fell to the ground. It was as if it had been on a leash and somebody at the end had given it a firm tug. It wasn't until it had hit the sand in front of the two of them that Fry realised it's chest was squirting out green blood, as the dying beast lay there, writhing in the sand and screeching painfully.
"Wha-what happened?" asked Alesia, kneeling on the ground and putting her hand over her mouth in dismay and shock.
As if to answer her question, a large, brown ship roared slowly from above the cliffs over them both, then turned to face them, hovering above the sand. Before they had much time to react, there was a bursting sound, and they were both hit by something, then dragged away and into the air. They had been snared in a large, thick net of some sort. The net ascended upwards, into the flying ship. Fry had a hard time seeing through it, but he heard a familiar voice.
"Welcome board. We've been searching for you."
"I know you!" said Fry. "Lieutenant What's-his-face from the space pirates!!"
As two other pirates removed the net and restrained them, Fry could see he
was right. It was the male pirate lieutenant that had, along with Lieutenant Tommassello,
been in charge of them on the pirate ship. And they were in a small room inside
the ship, with not much more in it than an uncovered doorway at the front that
lead to the cockpit end and a couple of benches at the front and back. There was
a closed door at the back end of the room too.
"Lieutenant Carver, actually," he said. "Captain Peck and Commander Sebastian have both been very concerned about getting you two back. Just where did you think you were going anyway?"
"To the coastal city in the distance!" Fry answered. Carver just laughed.
"Good luck! You just be walking into a nest of creatures, just like the one that almost killed you before. In fact, you should be thanking me for saving you."
He snickered, then put a hand up to Alesia's cheek and stroked it, looking at her with salacious eyes.
"And I know just how you can thank me too."
"Don't touch her!!" yelled Fry, lunging at Carver. The pirate in that was behind him unfortunately stopped him. Carver just laughed.
"I'll touch anywhere I want!!" he growled. "I'll touch her neck....."
He demonstrated by running his index finger across Alesia's neck. She made a whimper and Fry growled at him and narrowed his eyes.
"Or, I'll touch her legs," he continued, demonstrating by running his hand up Alesia's bare left leg. Alesia breathed a sigh of relief that he stopped at the bottom edge of her dress.
"Stop it!" Fry growled from between clenched teeth.
"Or I'll even touch....." he said, trailing off as one of his hands reached slowly towards Alesia's left breast. Alesia just pulled her head away and closed her eyes, a tear running down her face. Fry felt like he was about to explode in rage. But it wasn't him that stopped Carver
"I've seen enough!!" said an angry voice. "Get your hands away from her you SICK BASTARD!!!"
Carver and Fry both looked in shock. The expression of disgust had come from the female pirate restraining Alesia. Carver just paused.
"I said GET THEM AWAY FROM HER!!!" she screamed, whacking Carver's hand away. He growled at her.
"What the HELL did YOU call me, Ensign Zool?!!"
"A SICK BASTARD!!!" she repeated loudly. "She's a person, you perverted freak! Not a goddamn toy for you to play with and fondle!! You sicken me!!! Sir!!"
And Ensign Zool said the word 'sir' with absolutely no respect. It was darn near sarcasm. Carver couldn't believe these type of actions coming from one of his crew members.
"You're out of line, Ensign!!" he hissed angrily through gnashed teeth.
"YOU'RE the one who is out of line, you piece of sleazy crap!!" she retorted. "I'm sure the Captain would be intrigued to hear about this? Sexually harassing prisoners..... And this isn't the first time either, oh no!! I've had to put up with seeing you do this before! But enough is enough!! You make me want to RETCH!!!"
"It's your word against mine, Angela!!" he yelled. "Who will she believe?"
"Correction, Lieutenant!!" boomed the other pirate holding Fry. "It's OUR word against yours! It's degenerate lowlifes like you that give the rest of us a bad name!!"
"You mutinous thugs!" Carver growled. "You'll regret the day you--"
Carver stopped talking abruptly as the whole ship rocked violently, along with the sound of an explosion.
"We've been hit, Lieutenant!!" yelled the pilot from the cockpit. "Sentry guns from the jungle near the city!!"
Outside the ship, several large, double-barrelled laser-gun turrets had popped out the top of the tall trees, all firing thin, red bolts at the vehicle. A couple more hit them.
"We can't take much more, sir!!!" the pilot yelled. "I knew we shouldn't have flown so close to the city!!!"
Carver ran into the cockpit.
"Pull up! Pull up!!" he yelled.
The pilot did, but as the ship made a steep climb into the air, two lasers from one of the black, metal turrets hit the craft in the rear, right where the engines were. The smoking vessel made a sudden dive, and shot towards the tall, rusty-looking buildings of the nearby metropolis. Fry quickly noticed that one of the benches had seat belts, so he grabbed Alesia's arm and pulled her onto it with him. The others were too distracted to even care, and Carver was still yelling at the pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit. The two strapped themselves in and braced for impact.
The blazing craft slammed nose first into one of the city's taller buildings with a tremendous clang, then dropped like a brick, shattering two small, raised walkways below it, and finally resting on a large causeway. Rubble from the stony walking platforms it had destroyed on the way down rained around it and with a final creak of stressed metal, the large object finally rested on it's side, nestled between the building it had hit and another one.
Fry and Alesia were fine, thanks to their last second restraining before the impact. The two ensigns lay on the ground, and neither Fry or Alesia wanted to even look in the cockpit, whose door had slammed closed after the ship had rolled on it's side. The two quickly unstrapped themselves, falling to the ground, which was formerly a wall and Alesia checked the pulses of the two ensigns.
"They're still alive," she said. "I think they'll be okay."
"Let's go quickly then!" said Fry. "In case they wake up!"
Fry quickly pushed against the circular trapdoor that they had been brought into the ship through, and after a bit of effort, the thick metal panel pushed aside, granting them access outside. Fry hopped out first, then Alesia followed. But she didn't leave unnoticed.
"Wake up!" said Ensign Zool, shaking her friend. "The prisoners are escaping!"
The other pirate woke, groaning and holding his head. Zool stood up.
"You okay?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'll be fine, Angela," he groaned, finally getting to his feet also.
"Good. I'll check on the others in the cockpit, you see if you can find the escapees."
"Gotcha," he nodded, then crawled out of the hole also. Angela pulled on the
cockpit door and it swung open. She stepped inside, and it wasn't a pretty sight.
The pilot and co-pilot were clearly dead, leaning across the sparking dashboard
as their blood flowed all over it. Angela heard a noise below her and looked down
to see Lieutenant Carver lying there.
"Heellllp meeeee!!!!....." he gasped, barely audible, as a thin stream of crimson ran out of his mouth and down his chin. He was wedged under the collapsed dashboard and the co-pilot's chair, just lying there on his chest with only one arm free. He reached out his desperate hand and looked at her with even more desperate eyes.
"Helllpppp meeeee!!!!..." he repeated. "Pleeeaassee!!!"
Ensign Zool snorted at him and bent down, looking at him directly in the eyes.
"Don't worry, sir," she said calmly. "I won't leave you here to die."
She reached out her right hand slowly towards his. He smiled as he prepared to grasp hold of it. But the smile vanished, and was replaced by a look of confusion, as Angela's hand went right past his to reach even further and pick up something on the ground. When her arm slowly withdrew again, Carver's eyes suddenly look scared, as he saw what Angela had really grabbed.
"It looks like you dropped your gun, sir," she said with an evilly playful grin, waving the small black pistol in front of him. "But don't worry. You won't need it where YOU'RE going."
She stood up. Carver looked up at her with dire eyes, spluttering with fear and despair.
"But!! You s-said you w-w-wouldn't leave me!!!"
"Oh, I'm not going to leave you here to suffer, sir," she said. "That would be cruel. You're a person too, after all."
"Then help meeeee!!!" he pleaded, reaching up.
"Oh, I am going to help you, sir. Help you like you SHOULD have been helped a long time ago."
She held the gun straight in front of his face, right between his eyes. He gasped.
"Take a good look at me, Carver." she said. "Because I'm the last female you'll lay your lecherous eyes on!"
He gasped, his eyes protruding in terror.
With that last word, she pulled the trigger. There was a sharp zap sound of the laser combined with the squishing ripping noise of it tearing through his head. A small amount of blood sprayed onto Angela's arms and face, but she didn't even flinch. Her expression was still the stone cold glare it had been before she pulled the trigger.
Outside the wreckage, the other pirate looked around carefully, gun in hand. Just around the corner of the nearby tall building, Fry and Alesia hid behind some old metal crates.
"I knew I heard something!" whispered Fry. "There's at least one of them just around the corner."
The two quickly gasped and ducked as they saw the pirate walk into sight. He turned towards them, but then quickly turned to face the way he had come.
"Any survivors, Angela?" he called, walking back out of view again.
"Nope. They were all dead, Allan" she replied, crawling out of the hole in the vessel's underside. "Found those two yet?"
As the two pirates continued to talk, Alesia nudged Fry and pointed to an ajar door on the building across the other side of the causeway. The only problem was, they'd have to run right past the two pirates to get to it. But they didn't have long to muse over it before they heard a snarl behind them. Their heads whipped around to see a Seilarch standing at the other end of the alleyway they were hiding in.
"RUN!!" yelled Fry.
The two humans tore straight towards the door they had eyed earlier, surprising the two pirates talking outside. Allan aimed his gun at them as they ran by, but Angela called out to him.
"Don't kill them!! Captain Peck wants them alive!!"
Allan growled and withdrew his gun, but then the Seilarch appeared too, running from where Fry and Alesia had emerged from and taking two large crates with it.
"But you CAN shoot THAT!!" yelled Angela before taking a shot at the creature. The shot hit one of the metallic crates that were bouncing around instead of the Seilarch. Fry and Alesia entered the door and slammed it behind them, while Allan took a shot at the monster himself, hitting it in the side. The Seilarch screeched and rolled through the air a bit before hitting the ground with a thud and laying still.
"I HATE those things!!" noted Allan.
A blue bolt of energy hit the wall right beside him, and he looked to see three Seilarches holding strange, long black rifles standing on the large causeway in the distance. He and Angela both dived behind some of the metal crates for cover as more thick blue bolts shot around them.
"Go after the other two!!" Allan suggested between returning fire. "I'll hold off these guys!"
"Okay!" nodded Angela with determination.
The female pirate fired a few shots at the Seilarch, then did a combat roll towards the door. A few blue shots hit the ground around her, but luckily, despite being thick beams, they were quite slow. When she had got there she gasped, and swiftly opened the door outwards, using it as a shield for an oncoming blast. Just as she did, Allan managed to nail one of the Sielarch in the top of the head. It flew back with a screech, a fountain on olive liquid spurting out of the top of it's skull, then landed on the ground and lay still, save for the twitching of one of it's hind legs. Meanwhile, quick as a flash, Angela had swung around the door, and was inside.
It was a very industrial looking building, or at least the room she was in was. Dimly lit only by two long fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling, there wasn't much in the place. Two large pieces of machinery were built into the wall on the left side of the room, while the right just had an old, rickety metal staircase that lead into darkness. What Angela couldn't see what that Fry and Alesia were hiding in that darkness, watching her. As Angela's eyes scanned the area, a strange looking man wandered through from an opening straight ahead of her that lead to another room. Angela trained her gun on the man and he stopped suddenly.
"Hey! What you doin'?!" he said in a rather uptight and confident manner, considering there was a gun pointing at him.
Looking like a human, he was rather short, with a thick orange moustache, a tattered hat on his head and grubby looking, blue overalls.
"Have you seen two humans come through here?!" she asked forcefully.
"I haven't seen nothing!" he said, still not sounding frightened. "Nobody's come through 'ere!"
"Are there any other ways out of this place that they could have escaped though?" she asked him.
"Nope," said the man. "There's only that door behind you."
"Fine," she said. "Then you don't mind if I look around?"
"Go ahead," he said with a shrug. "But I've got work to do, if you don't mind?!"
"Sure, go ahead," she shrugged. "I'll look around here first."
The old man turned and walked back where he had come from. Angela continued to look around.
"We can't stay here forever," whispered Alesia. "She's going to see us eventually."
Fry looked around and replied.
"The old man was wrong," he whispered. "There's another door behind us."
"But it's go no handle," Alesia noted.
Fry tried to crawl over to it quietly, but the rickety metal platform they were on creaked loudly. Angela whirled around and looked up, squinting.
"There you are!!" she said, brandishing her sword. "Come down here, right now!"
"Fat chance!!" Fry called back. He then rammed himself against the old door and forced it open. Alesia followed him outside and closed the door behind her, but they didn't get far.
"Whoa!!" Fry exclaimed, as he stopped and looked around.
The door only led to a small platform about two square metres in size, with nowhere to go. They were thousands of feet in the air, and the nearest building was far too far away from them to leap to. A lonely wind whistled though the gap between the two buildings, rustling Fry and Alesia's hair.
"I guess the old man was right," gulped Fry. "That WAS the only escape back there! We're at a dead end!"
On the other side of the door, Angela stormed across the creaky, metal platform with her sword in hand. When she got to it door, she gave it a mighty kick. The thick door swung open.
"Here we are," announced Baron Steinmann loudly. "Verrone Five. Prepare to land."
The Planet Express ship began to enter the atmosphere of the planet, and Leela spoke from the pilot's seat.
"Do you even know where we're going?!" she mumbled impatiently. She couldn't wait to get away from the Baron and his thugs.
"Not exactly, but Don Pardini gave me a clue. I did a little research while you were piloting the ship and found out that the ruler of Verrone Five just happens to own a very valuable jewel called 'The Emerald of Light.' I'd make a safe bet that that's exactly what I'm looking for."
"And where IS this ruler?" asked Leela, just as the ship had broken through the cloud cover to reveal the lush jungle below.
"Apparently in a large black palace in a city called Consternation. But we can't land there, it'd be suicide."
"Why?" asked Bender suspiciously. "This isn't another one of those planets where they kill humans on sight, is it?!"
"Close," the Baron answered. "The planet is inhabited by creatures called the Seilarch. They hate other species, and don't want them on their world at all, so it's one of those planets where ANY aliens are treated with severity. Killed, enslaved, tortured, and so forth. We'll need to land somewhere in the jungle near the city, where we can't be seen."
"It looks like there's a sign ahead," said Leela squinting.
"Stop the ship when we get to it!" ordered the Baron. "It may be able to tell us where Consternation is."
Leela stopped at the sign. It was black with white writing and on a long pole sticking up above the trees. The only problem was, the writing was unreadable.
"Weirdatronic!" quipped Amy. "What does it even say?!"
"Just a minute," said Marc at one of the ship's consoles. "It's written in Seilarch, but I got hold of a translator on the way here. It shouldn't take long to decipher....."
Marc tapped the keys for a few more seconds, and nobody noticed the object that was slowly emerging above the treetops behind the ship.
"Got it!," Marc said. "It says 'Consternation 20km. If you can't read this sign, you are not a Seilarch and will soon be destroyed,' plus it has an arrow pointing forward."
Everybody suddenly looked at each other in shock.
"Get the ship out of here!!!" yelled the Baron. "NOW!!!"
Leela quickly got the ship moving, which just stopped the twin laser shots from behind them making contact.
"Where'd that come from?!!" asked Bender.
"There's a gun turret behind us, there is!" said Zoidberg looking out one of the back windows.
"And there's more where that came from!" said Leela grimly as she saw more popping out of the tree tops."
As Leela swerved the ship to try and avoid the blasts, Amy pointed into the distance.
"I think I can see the city over on the horizon there!" she said.
The ship suddenly rocked.
"We've got bigger problems!" said Leela. "Our engines have been hit. We're running at only forty percent power. We won't be able to maintain altitude much longer."
"We don't need to!" said the Baron. "We can land soon anyway!"
"Yes, but we NEED to able to take off again afterwards!" she responded.
One of the guns hit the ship at the rear again. It started to smoke and lose even more altitude.
"We're going down!!!" yelled Leela. "All engine power is gone, and we're out of control!!! Strap yourselves in!!!"
As everybody did, the large green ship's nose dipped into the treetops. Then, with a loud thunk, the ship spun over upside down and disappeared below, into the jungle. Upside down and rear-end first, it tore through the thinner vegetation, then hit a thick tree branch that sent it reeling back upright. Finally, it hit the ground, the loosened landing gear creaking with stress as it slid along the jungle floor. As resistance and friction took hold, the disabled vessel was brought to a halt.
"That wasn't so bad," noted Bender with a cheery smile.
"It's nothing compared to what would happen to you if a Seilarch actually found you!" said the Baron, unstrapping himself and standing. "Which is why you should all be very careful when you all venture into the city."
"We're ALL going in?!" gasped Amy.
"That's right," Steinmann nodded.
"And let me guess," said Leela angrily. "You're staying here?!
"Very good, Captain Leela," said the Baron patronizingly. "And the sooner you leave, the sooner you can be finished and back!"
He and his lackeys all aimed their weapons at the crew. Zoidberg squealed.
"You know..." he said. "I'm actually almost starting to HATE this man!"
"What guarantee do you have that we'll come back?!" said Leela, almost as a threat.
The Baron laughed.
"We have the only means of leaving this planet! Do you REALLY think you can just hire a craft of Verrone Five?! Plus, we have this..."
He knelt down and picked up a small cage. In the cage was Nibbler. Leela gasped.
"We've got your little friend here," Steinmann smirked. "I found him and put him in here earlier. I noticed how attached you were to the little fellow."
"She's the only one," said Bender obnoxiously. "In fact, I'm seriously considering not coming back here if you ARE going to kill him. Do these Seilarch guys hate robots as much as the more meat and flesh-bag style life forms?"
Leela stomped on Bender's foot.
"I don't think they're a big fan of robots either," said the Baron. "Now quit stalling and get going!! We'll be here waiting for you. In fact, we're going to be kind and try and get this ship repaired. And remember, the gem is located somewhere in a large, black palace. Shouldn't be hard to miss. You have twenty four Earth hours to return."
"What the hell?!!"
Those were the first words to escape Angela's lips as the door swung open to reveal...... nothing. Nothing but a small empty platform, and a very, very long drop.
She took a couple of steps onto the platform, then tentatively looked over the edge. There was no way anybody could have survived a fall from that height.
"Humph!" she exclaimed, brushing aside some strands of jet-black hair that had blown across her face. "They must have jumped after all. I guess they really didn't want to be caught."
She sheathed her sword, turned, and walked back through the door, pulling it shut behind her. But as it swung closed, two figures, hanging onto the exterior side of the door let go, their feet safe on the small platform and their fingers safe from getting caught. Fry and Alesia breathed sighs of relief.
"That was close!" said Fry, leaning against the door. "I'm surprised we pulled that off."
"Me too," breathed Alesia. "I don't know how much longer I could have held onto that door, hanging out above nothingness."
"I'll tell you something though," said Fry. "It was lucky that it wasn't Carver who came after us!"
"What do you mean?" asked Alesia.
"Well, if it was, I would have kicked that pervert off the edge!!"
"Fry!!" Alesia said in shock.
"I just hated the way he treated you, Alesia! It was wrong!"
"You're right," she replied. "But there's no need to be vindictive about it. Just let it go."
"But he should pay for what he did!" Fry yelled.
"Yes, he should. But with death?"
Fry just looked at her with saddened eyes.
"More violence doesn't solve anything," she said. "It just creates more violence, and more. Let it go, Fry."
She placed a hand on his crossed arms.
Fry smiled warmly.
"Then you're a much stronger person than I," he said. "You're right, I wasn't thinking. My judgement was clouded with rage. But it's in the past, and that can't be changed. But what's important is the now, and what the future holds. So let's go and find that PTV!"
"Oh, right!" said Alesia, like she'd been shocked. "I'd completely forgot about it!"
She checked her arm computer.
"Oh my!" she said in surprise
"What is it?" Fry asked.
"The signal is less than a mile away," she replied. "It must be here, in the city. If we say that the front of this platform is the north, then it's to the west."
"That's great!" exclaimed Fry. "Let's get going then!"
He opened the door carefully and peered out. Angela was no longer there. He signalled to Alesia it was all right, then the two began to carefully walk across the rickety platform. Everything went fine until Fry stepped on the bottom step, just before getting off of it. The step broke and Fry fell against the metal structure. It held up, but made a terrible noise.
"Hey! What you doin'?!"
They turned their heads to see the stout, overall wearing man they saw Angela talking to earlier.
"Sorry," said Fry, picking himself up. "We're just about to leave."
Fry reached for the exit door, but the man spoke again.
"Hey! Where you goin'?"
Fry paused and looked back at the man.
"You can't go out there! The Sielarch'll catch you," the man said.
"Well..." said Fry. "Where CAN we go? We can't get out up there."
Fry indicated the door they had come from up the stairs.
"You been up there?!" he asked in his bounderish way. "It's not safe!"
"Yeah, we kinda found that out ourselves, thanks," Fry said, almost sarcastically.
"Yeah, well, don't come running to me for pity if you fall and break your legs! Hey! You two must be those people that young pirate lass was looking for?!"
"Yeah, that's right," said Fry. "You aren't going to tell her, are you?"
"Naw!" he replied. "What do I care?!"
"Who are you anyway?" Fry queried. "How come you live here, amongst the Seilarch?"
"Oh, Gubbins is the name," he said, smiling cheerfully. "And as for me being so content here and all, it's because I'm forced to be. I'm a slave."
"A slave?" asked Alesia. "But you're free to roam around here, and nobody is watching you?"
"More like a servant then," Gubbins said. "Follow me. I'll show you round me workshop."
Gubbins lead the two into his room next door, which was filled with different power tools and other mechanised equipment. One whole wall was just filled with screens and buttons, and the floor at one end of the room was just littered with junk.
"I was captured years ago, when I was a young man, then forced to fight for my life in the Black Tournament. The team I was on won, so those of us on it were allowed to survive and work here as servants to the Seilarch. It's not really any different than a standard job on Earth really. Except for this thing."
He removed his hat and pointed at what looked like a circuit board and chip embedded in his forehead.
"Blecch!" exclaimed Fry. "What IS that?!"
"It's a control chip," he replied, replacing his hat. "All aliens that work here have one. If we try to escape or disobey, they Seilarch can activate it, and--"
"Oooh! Let me guess!" interrupted Fry. "They activate it, and it explodes, blowing your brains out?!!"
"No," said Gubbins. "It gives you a nasty headache. There's nothing worse than a headache! When you've got a sore arm or leg, why, you just stop using it. But when you've got a sore head.... well.... you can't just cut it off or stop thinking, can ya?!"
"Uh-wha?" asked Fry. "Sorry, I wasn't listening. I was entranced by this laser lathe thing. It just keeps going around and around!"
Alesia just shook her head, but there was a slight smile on her lips.
"We need to search for a Personal Transport Vehicle we know is nearby, over in that direction somewhere," Alesia told Gubbins, pointing in its direction. "Is there any way we can get there without drawing any attention to ourselves?"
"The only way I'd say that were possible is if you both had chips in your heads like mine. But you probably don't want those?"
"Not really," said Alesia shaking her head.
"Wait!" said Fry. "Could you make it so it just LOOKED like we had them in our heads?"
Gubbins rubbed his chin.
"Stop that!" said Fry, swatting Gubbins' hand away.
"Sorry," Gubbins replied. "I don't usually rub other peoples chins. Anyway, I suppose it could be done."
He wandered over to the pile of junk and pulled what appeared to be a small, broken robot apart.
"Some of the circuit boards in here look a bit like them," he said. "Unless somebody was actually LOOKING for fake chips, you wouldn't know the difference. I'll just cut these up, and we'll try it out."
"Thank you so much," said Alesia.
"No problem, ma'am," Gubbins replied, putting a circuit board under a machine. "Glad to be of help."
"I hope this works," said Fry to Alesia, while Gubbins cut the circuits. "The sooner we can get to that PTV, the sooner we can get out of here!"
"Yeah," said Alesia. She looked a little unsure.
"What's wrong?" asked Fry. She sighed.
"Oh. Nothing," she replied, smiling. Fry could tell the smile was forced. "I'm fine."
"Sure?" he asked sceptically.
"Yes. I'm fine. Trust me," she said.
Fry gave her an uncertain look himself, until Gubbins spoke.
"There we go!" he said. "Come 'ere you two!"
The two travellers walked over to him.
"Kneel down, please," he instructed. They did. He pushed one of the pieces against Alesia's head first, then took some pasty stuff from a container and begun applying it around the chip.
"Luckily this putty I have is coloured very similar to your skin," he said. "Although you have such pale skin. It better suits your red-headed friend here."
He finished Alesia's and worked on Fry's. After a few seconds, he was done.
"There we go!" he said. "Seamless!"
"Thanks!" said Fry happily. "I suppose we're going to have to act naturally? Whatever THAT is?!"
"Just act nervous and broken," Gubbins replied.
"That won't he that hard," Alesia noted with a weak smile. "Thanks again."
"No problems. And if yer plannin' to fly away in that vehicle of yours, I'd suggest heading over the sea. There's less guns there."
"Okay," she nodded. "Goodbye then."
"Bye Mister Gubbins," said Fry.
"Farewell, and good luck," Gubbins smiled, watching the two leave his workshop and make towards the door. Fry slowly opened it, peering outside.
"Looks clear," he whispered. "Let's go!"
They both tentatively stepped outside the large building and walked around. It was eerily quiet, with a lonely and almost morbid breeze blowing. Or perhaps it was only that way because of the scene. The corpse of what was formerly Pirate Ensign Allan lay behind one of the metal crates. His left arm lay several feet further away. Fry stooped and picked up the laser gun that lay near it and put it in his jacket.
"This might be handy," he said to Alesia, who was just looking around in shock.
"This is awful!" she said.
They walked some more, then saw another familiar face. But even though the eyes on that face were wide open, and staring straight at Fry and Alesia, they couldn't see back. Lying on her back, in a pool of her own blood, was Pirate Ensign Angela Zool, dark smoke rising from a crater in her chest. Alesia just turned away, but Fry, with a stern look on his face, slowly walked towards the body. When he had reached it, he stopped, looking at it. Alesia stared across at him.
"Wh-what are you going to do?" she asked, not sure what was on Fry's mind.
Fry looked back at her for a brief second, then glanced back at the body, not saying a word. He stooped, then, his right hand outstretched towards the remains of the pirate.
"She may have been a nasty, cutthroat pirate," he said.
He gently closed her eyes with his fingers.
"But she did have a sense of moral decency."
He sighed, then stood back up.
"And she didn't deserve to die this way."
He glanced back at Alesia.
Alesia smiled sadly, but proudly, a single tear running down her cheek. Fry walked back towards her.
"I suppose we should get going," he sighed.
"Yeah," she sniffed.
"I don't know a lot," Fry said. "I don't know who I am. I don't know who you are. And I don't know the way the universe works. But there's one thing I do know."
He gazed back at Angela's lifeless form.
"It is a universe of malice."