Futurama

Fan Fiction

Futurama: Universe of Malice, Part 13
By Kenneth White

Chapter 13 - The Final Fight

Fry stepped out of the haze, and entered the battlefield he had been destined to fight on.

"Hello?" He called loudly, but cautiously, his voice echoing around the walls nearby.

He stood in a long, thin passageway that looked like part of a maze. It appeared to end about fifty metres ahead of him, but there were some other openings along the walls that appeared to lead to more passages. The ceiling was a rough, grey stone and the walls and floors were paved, slimy-green brick. Thin fluorescent lights illuminated the area slightly, but the whole place was quite dark and damp in general, with a thin, wafting mist.

"Is anybody around here?"

As he waited for a response, he heard footsteps from nearby, getting closer. He decided to hug the wall and duck, his gun ready to fire.

"Is that you, Fry?" a familiar female voice said from around the corner of the nearest opening in the wall, only a few feet away to his right.

"Amy?" Fry replied, his caution and fear subsiding. Sure enough, Amy stepped around the corner with a smile on her face and a Razor weapon in her hands.

"Amy!" he repeated. "Boy, am I glad to see y--"

She put her hand over his mouth before he could finish.

"Quiet!" she whispered. "They'll hear you!" She removed her hand from his mouth. "If you need to talk to me, or anybody, use your headset," she instructed. "If the enemy discover your position, they'll take you by surprise and shoot you!"

"Okay," Fry whispered back. "Where are the others?"

"We all arrived in different, random locations," she replied. "Check your scanner display."

"My wha-?"

Amy reached over to Fry's headset and flipped a small, green square attachment in front of his left eye. He could see right through it, it being mostly transparent, but there were also displays on it.

"The circle with the red dots shows where the others are, but only on our team. The long bar along the bottom shows you the weapons you have, and top displays ammo and body armour damage."

"How do you know so much about these things?" Fry asked, clearly awed.

"I've used them before. My parents once went to a HUGE electronics expo to look for the latest computer technology for their buggalo farm. While they were looking around, I came across these things being used for a virtual shooting game and played around. Who knew that they'd be used for REAL shooting competitions?!"

"Ah," said Fry. "I see you got a new gun fast."

"Yeah, I spawned just around the corner and it was just sitting nearby."

"Neat! Should we stick together and watch each other's backs or split up, you think?"

"Let's stick together for a while," she smiled. "Besides, I want to hear the gossip regarding you and this Alesia!"

"Not much to tell," shrugged Fry. "What do you want to know?"

"Well.... what happened basically? Back there when we found you?"

"Well, we kind of grew attached to each other when our minds were gone. When I restored mine, I basically told her I didn't know anything about her disturbing past, and that I couldn't love her any more because of Leela."

"What?!" Amy exclaimed.

"Quiet!" Fry hushed. "They could hear us!!"

"Fry!," Amy whispered angrily. "How could you be so insensitive?!!"

"Huh?"

"She was clearly already very upset about everything, and then you just go and dump her?! She needed somebody to comfort her, and you just make things worse!"

"But I can't go pretending to love her when I love Leela instead," Fry explained. "I did what I thought was the right thing. I told her the truth."

"It could have waited!" Amy said. "And what do you mean by 'pretending' to love her?"

Fry sighed.

"You're right about that. I DID love her........ I still do I guess.... but.... it's complicated..."

"I think you owe her an apology still," Amy said. "Then you can work out the rest later."

"Yeah. Do you know which one of these red dots she is?"

"No idea," shrugged Amy. "But you can do that later. I'd say, concentrate on the task at hand first! Come on. If we go back to the place where I found the Razor, there'll probably a new one."

 

In the meantime, others were wandering around the maze arena. As Bender wandered through a long, thin passageway, he spoke to himself with confidence.

"Now just remember what your system's programming says about mazes," he said. "Just go straight ahead and keep making only left turns, until you come across a giant, grey 3D shape, in which case, you have to walk on the ceiling and make right turns instead. And most importantly, always be weary of giant rats."

It was then that the robot came across a strange room. There were eight ways in and out of it, and in the centre was a strange, octagon shaped platform. On the platform, which was only about as high as a single step, there was a weapon: a Flak-Blaster.

"Heeeheeee!" Bender exclaimed. "Jackpot!"

Looking around cautiously, he quickly scampered towards the object. After a final glance around, he picked it up and examined it.

"Ah, a fine piece of weaponry, I must say!" he announced to nobody. "Think I'll store you in here for later."

He opened his chest compartment and placed it inside. He then began to whistle to himself as he chose a random exit of the room and walked into the unchartered passageway.

THONK!!!

Bender whirled around as he heard a noise behind him, yelling in fright. There was nobody there, but something had changed. There was a large, thick octagonal block on top of the platform that had been the resting spot of the Flak-Blaster Bender retrieved earlier.

"What the?" Bender wondered.

As he stepped forward to take a closer look, the block quickly ascended into the ceiling above the platform, disappearing almost completely.

"Whoa!" Bender said. "Good thing I wasn't under there when that happened! Oh well, back to where I was--"

THONK!!!

Bender whirled around to see the block had once again slammed down upon the platform. It was then that he noticed something loose under his feet. Looking down, he saw that he was standing on top of a large button. He got off of it, and the block zoomed back up into ceiling.

"Ohhhhh!" said Bender with realization. "It's a button activated trap!"

Bender then had a thought. He laughed evilly to himself and opened his chest cavity door again. Taking out the Flak-Blaster, he ran over to the platform and placed it back where it lay previously.

"I have a feeling that you'll do more damage just by sitting here," Bender said to the weapon.

He then ran quickly back to the corridor with the button. There, he watched, and waited.

It wasn't long, just under a minute in fact, before footsteps were heard. Then, one of the squat, blue-skinned enemies appeared from another corridor. Sure enough, it almost instantly made it's way straight towards the Flak-Blaster that lay in the centre of the room. As it stood upon the platform and picked up the weapon, Bender suddenly appeared and called over to him.

"Hey!" the robot yelled. "How about a game of squash?!!"

Before the little guy could react, Bender stomped on the button with his right foot. The unfortunate victim didn't even have time to gasp, as he was transformed into a thick, red paste by the impact of the trap above with a squelching crunch. As a crimson spray shot across the floor, Bender simply laughed loudly. He felt no sympathy or remorse, for he was just a heartless machine. He didn't know whom he had killed, and he didn't care. The virtually undamaged Flak-Blaster rolled across the floor with a metallic clatter, resting at his feet. He picked it up, then removed the small, severed blue arm that was still grasping onto the handle of it. It was tossed aside like an unwanted toy, with absolutely no regard for the fact that it was once part of a living being.

"Man, this is great!" exclaimed Bender, watching as the thick block ascended back into the ceiling, dripping with blood and small meaty pieces, spattering onto the red mince below. "It combines by love of violence, weapons and randomly killing an inferior meat-based life form, with the thrill of competition! And it's completely legal!!"

Bender then walked off, spinning the newly acquired weapon on his finger and whistling a random tune, leaving the scene of carnage behind him. Unaware that only a few steps away was another member of the blue team. And he was about to come across the grim sight.

 

Leela jumped at the sound of the scream that echoed through the acoustic passageways around her. The shriek came from nearby, or at least it sounded like it did. And it didn't sound like it belonged to anybody she knew. It did cause her to raise her Gamma Gun in caution though.

"Okay, Leela!" she whispered to herself. "You can do this. All you have to do is kill a group of small, innocent creatures that are being forced into this just like you. It's not that hard to do. Just remember, your survival and the survival of your friends depends on it...."

The cyclops slowly began to sneak towards where the sound came from, walking as quietly as she could, which was difficult due to the large, metal boots she wore. When she got to the edge of the corridor, she peered around the corner. There, kneeling in a pool of blood and facing towards the crushed remains of what was once an intelligent, sentient being, was one of the small, blue men. He was sobbing and holding something in his hands.

"My God!" whispered Leela, her face saddened by the scene. "What HAPPENED here?"

As she slowly took another step forward to enter the room, both she and the creature were startled.

THONK!!!

Leela jumped, and the small creature squealed as a large block slammed down right in front of him, spraying him with his former comrade's blood. As the block ascended from where it had came, Leela suddenly noticed that she had stepped on a switch on the floor.

"Whoops!" she said.

As soon as the exclamation of error had passed her lips, the small creature whirled around with surprise. Leela could now see that he was holding a tiny, severed arm, and his blood-soaked expression of alarm soon turned to anger.

"You!" he yelled, pointing accusingly at Leela. "You did this to my friend!!"

"No!" said Leela in defence. "You've got it all wrong! He was like that when I got here!!"

"I'm sure!!" the creature said in sarcastic rage. "And I bet just then you weren't trying to squash me too?!!"

He swiftly whipped out a large Rocket Launcher from behind his back, pointing it at Leela.

"Now you will pay for your cruelty, you one-eyed bitch!!!"

With a resonant blast, a small missile shot out of the weapon towards her. Leela didn't think twice about what to do, diving with all her strength into the nearest passageway. The rocket exploded against the wall behind her, only a dozen or so feet away from her. Leela quickly got to her feet again, readying her weapon as she quickly whipped around a nearby corner, then hugged the wall and waited. Breathing heavily, she now looked angry herself.

'I may not have killed his friend,' she thought to herself, 'but NOBODY calls me a one-eyed bitch!'

The azure alien stepped into the corridor Leela had dived into, and began to load up some rockets into the barrel. Leela heard them loading up, suspecting that he was using the grenade function to bounce them around the corner to the passageway she was in. Leela decided to take the chance that it was loading up the full amount, and darted out of her hiding spot.

"Gotcha!" she yelled, using the primary trigger and sending a collection of small green energy orbs straight into the target's chest.

The creature was sent backwards through the air, still holding his weapon and loading grenades. As soon as he hit the ground and stopped, lying on his back with his weapon facing vertically, the final grenade loaded. With a sharp burst, a volley of six timed rockets sprayed straight up into the air, only to hit the roof and rain down around him, clattering with a high-pitched, metallic tinkle. With a look of shock on its face, the creature started to scream, only to find its cries drowned by the series of loud explosions around it. Leela turned her face away over her right shoulder, closing her eye and holding her free hand across the left side of her face, as the other end of the passageway rang with bright flashes and volatile rumbles. When it had ceased, she slowly looked towards the area of destruction.

"Oh God...." she exclaimed with a gasp.

There wasn't much left of her adversary. Much like the scene in the room right next door, it was just a pool of blood and obliterated body parts. Thick scarlet liquid ran down the walls and dripped from the roof also, with the only clearly recognizable object being the weapon that had caused the carnage. As she looked at the macabre mess, Leela's expression of sadness changed to one of determination.

'No!' she thought to herself. 'You can let this get to you! If you're going to survive, you MUST be strong and leave your compassion and mercy behind you! You must be strong! You must be brave! You must survive! If only for your friends!'

With those thoughts in mind, she approached the area, and claimed the spoils of her victory: the Rocket Launcher.

 

"Spluh!!" exclaimed Amy, stopping suddenly.

"What is it?" asked Fry.

"Apparently two of the enemy have already been killed?!"

"What?!" exclaimed Fry. "That was fast! I wonder who it was?"

"Probably Bender," Amy said dryly. "He'd have no problems being a killing machine!"

"I guess you're right," shrugged Fry.

"Maybe we should split up now?" suggested Amy. "We'll cover more ground, and be less of a target."

"Good point," Fry nodded. "I'll take this left passage, and you keep going straight ahead."

"Okay," said Amy. "See you later. And be careful."

"You too," smiled Fry, walking into the aisle he had chosen. "Bye."

But as Fry walked into it, he suddenly remembered something the Sielarch that had captured them had said.

"The public prefer to see aliens die in style," Fry said to himself, repeating the sentence. "What public?"

What Fry, and all the others, didn't know, was that while the ceiling looked like thick, solid stone to them, on the other side it was actually surprisingly thin and transparent. There, from above, hundreds of the cruel Sielarch sat in a massive circular room, all standing in many rows that resembled a huge stadium, while the huge arena below was clearly visible. They could see everything that happened through the see-through roof, the whole battlefield looking like a vast maze with confused inhabitants. A few small structures were higher than the roof, such as the large octagonal trap block, and a few other strange objects. The beasts were clearly enjoying the show, while the innocent puppets wandered below, unaware of their tormenters' gazes.

Fry stepped around a corner, only to quickly zoom back to where he was with a gasp. At the other end of the next corridor was one of the enemy. And Fry didn't know what to do.

'"Okay, calm down!" Fry whispered, breathing heavily. "All you have to do is kill him. How hard can it be? It's just like a video game...."

Fry replaced his Supporter with the Razor.

"Here goes...." he said, closing his eyes.

Fry leapt around the corner and let-rip with the weapon, sending a cluster of razor-sharp discs randomly towards the target. The small creature was alerted by the sound of a few discs hitting the walls en route to him, ricocheting around between the left and right passageways with a crisp 'tink' sound, but still maintaining their selected course. It turned and gasped at the sight, then dived into the passageway to it's right and lay flat.

"Uh oh!!" Fry exclaimed as he saw what was about to happen.

As the discs rained into the wall horizontally with a crisp rattle of metal, they returned to whence they had come. Fry screamed and turned to exit back around the corner to safety, only to hit a wall where there was no wall before.

"Okay!!!" he breathed to himself nervously. "No need to panic!! You're only going to DIE, that's all!!"

Fry quickly sidestepped as the first disc whizzed by him, only to have a second slice across his left upper arm. As he winced in reaction, he managed to just dodge the rest of them, bar one that hit his Razor weapon straight out of his hand. The weapon hit the wall, then clattered across the floor several feet away in front of him. But as he went to retrieve it, he suddenly noticed that another had picked it up. The very creature that he had shot at earlier. And to make matters worse, it also held a rocket launcher. Giving him a nervous smile, the creature trained its weapon on Fry, who had no place to go. It was a dead end behind him. Literally.


"So that's it!" Professor Farnsworth exclaimed looking at his computer screen with surprise in the darkness. "It's all beginning to make sense now."

"You've found something out?" asked Hermes.

"Yes," smiled Farnsworth. "According to this, the reason that my Electro Quantum Moon Destroyer exploded was nothing more than a simple power surge! Remarkable!

"Okay," Hermes nodded. "But do you have anyting related to what you were supposed to be looking for?"

"Actually, I do. It appears that, as I suspected, the planet devouring monster and the kidnapping of our ship and crew are related after all."

"Interesting. How?"

"Well, it appears that the monster is related to an ancient legend. In fact, THE ancient legend. From millions and billions of years ago, before the universe was even created. Apparently there was a war between an ancient race and some indestructible robots. Robots which could only be stopped by four powerful jewels encased within a special staff."

"Why were de robots indestructible?" Hermes queried.

"Because they were apparently made of an extremely tough metal. In any case, somehow the staff and jewels were sent hurling through space after a failed attempt to destroy the robots, and then somehow the whole planet was made metallic and turned into the monster that's eating planets today."

"Wait a minute," Hermes said. "If dis staff could destroy the robots, why did it fail? And why did it take so long for this monsta' to start terrorizing planets?"

"How the hell should I know?!" barked Farnsworth. "I just read the legend, I didn't make it up! It's very complicated!"

"Well, den how does it relate to de crew being abducted?"

"Oh, now THAT is simple! You see--"

"Dad!!"

Cubert suddenly burst into the room in a panic.

"Dad!! There's something on the news about the monster!"

The Professor and Jamaican both gasped. Cubert quickly flicked on a nearby television screen. There, Morbo and Linda appeared with a 'Breaking News' alert.

"For those of you that conveniently just joined us," said Linda.

"Yes. MOST conveniently!" added Morbo. Linda laughed.

"Anyway, for those who just tuned in, we are preparing to speak once again live with DOOP's Glab regarding the recent universal threat. Apparently, a recent strike attack was called on the monster several hours ago involving the DOOP, as well as various other representatives from other major worlds."

"Reports suggest that the pathetic attempts from the puny human onslaught were unsuccessful," Morbo contributed. "This suggests that Earth is once again doomed to destruction, making it the fiftieth time in the past ten years."

"That's quite a feat," Linda said.

"Yes. Morbo wholeheartedly celebrates this magnificent milestone. May this possible holocaust against the Earth be more successful than the previous forty-nine!"

Linda chuckled mindlessly, then suddenly stopped and put her hand up to her ear.

"I've just been notified that Glab is ready to address the Earth now. We now cross live to DOOP Headquarters to hear her speech."

The image of the two newscasters was replaced by that of Glab, standing at a podium. She began to speak.

"People of Earth. You are now most surely aware that a recent strike against the monster was instigated. This was made up of over one hundred ships from various different planets and galaxies. Unfortunately, the strike failed. The planet devouring threat still exists. Planet wrecking laser cannons didn't even scratch it, nor did an internal explosion, suggesting that this thing is indestructible. We've run out of options, and there is no conceivable way to destroy this entity, so although it is at least two weeks away from Earth in travel distance and, as far as we know, isn't even making it's way towards us yet, I strongly recommend that all inhabitants of Earth prepare to fear the worst. From this day forth, scientists will be working on planetary defences and evacuation methods will be prepared. Now, Doctor Ogden Wernstrom will describe what an attack on Earth will be like."

Glab stepped aside and Wernstrom took her place at the podium, greeted by a loud applause.

"Wernstrom!!!" yelled Farnsworth at the screen as he appeared.

Wernstrom cleared his throat and spoke: "Greetings. From what we know about the threat, an attack on Earth would be very devastating. A blast over a mile in diameter will hit the planet, tearing through it within seconds, and ripping it apart completely. Reports suggest that the blast would hit the United States first, therefore, American residents will be evacuated first if this thing DOES attack Earth."

"Excuse me!" called a voice from below the podium.

"Yes?" nodded Wernstrom.

"Scoop Chan," the reporter announced. "Sir, what is your basis for thinking America will be the initial target?"

"Because ninety-five percent of all alien attacks hit the States first, as America is always the most clearly seen nation from space."

"What about reports that legendary DOOP Captain and Earth General, Zapp Brannigan has been reported MIA, presumed dead?!" called out a female reporter.

Wernstrom shot a glance over at Glab. She stood up and approached the podium.

"Yes, I'm afraid the reports are true," she sighed. This was followed by a large collective gasp from the audience before Glab continued. "The Captain slash General was on the planet Cimmerian, attacked several days ago now. There were only two survivors as a result from the attack, so Captain Brannigan IS presumed dead. A large funeral ceremony will be held on DOOP's Earth Orbital Base for him and all those lost in this tragedy in a few days time."

"Who were the survivors?" asked a coloured reporter in an Indian accent.

"Two Lieutenant Commanders, Bill Raker and Kif Kroker."

"How did they survive the attack?" Scoop Chang enquired.

"They were extremely fortunate, that's all I can say about that," Glab said.

Hermes, the Professor and Cubert just watched with their jaws open.

"Sweet Iguana of Havana!" exclaimed Hermes. "Zapp Brannigan is dead!"

"Indeed," nodded the Professor. "But at least he won't bug Amy any more. And Leela will be pleased that her small, green boyfriend is alright."

"Uhhh..... Zapp annoyed LEELA, and Kif is going out with AMY."

"Well, in either case, we should try to contact them," the Professor grumbled, shuffling slowly towards his computer again. "They'll want to hear the bad news."

Professor Farnsworth tapped away at the keyboard and prepared to contact the ship.

"If you can contact de ship, how come you haven't contacted dem earlier?" asked Hermes.

"You know," the Professor said, pausing for a while and looking Hermes. "The thought never crossed my mind."

The Professor continued to try and get through to his ship.

 

Meanwhile, many, many light-years away, a communications screen lowered from the ceiling in the dark interior of the Planet Express ship. On the monitor flashed 'INCOMING CALL' accompanied by an annoying, repetitive beeping sound. Then, out of the blue in the darkness, a long, thin object was swung swiftly towards the source of the sound. It struck just above the monitor, slicing effortlessly through the arm and wires that held up the screen, causing it to drop to the floor and cease it's flashing and beeping. Then, there was silence.


Fry was cornered, with only a Supporter in hand, while the creature in front of him had a Rocket Launcher and was only standing five metres away. It was nervous, shaking just a little, but Fry knew that it was still in enough control so that if he dared jump at the creature, it would still be able to accurately blast him with a rocket. And it wasn't shaking with fear of death. It was shaking because it really didn't want to kill Fry any more than Fry wanted to be killed. It was a creature that was simply put in the same predicament as Fry was, and it was only fighting to survive. With a look of forced determination, the creature spoke.

"Look! I don't want to kill you, any more than you do. But I'm doing this insure the survival of my friends, just like you are! So, I'm going to make you go as quickly and painlessly as possible, okay?!"

He pressed a button and with a whirr and a click, a rocket loaded in.

"A cluster of six rockets! You won't feel a thing"

A second rocket loaded.

Leela had just appeared behind the creature at the end of the corridor. Unfortunately, this was several hundred metres away, and as she spotted what was happening at her opposite end, she knew there was no way she'd be able to get off a shot before the creature. She only had a Flak-Blaster, a Rocket Launcher, a Supporter and a Gamma Gun. The only weapons that had a possible chance were either a Seismic or Sniper Rifle. As a tear ran down her cheek, knowing that there was nothing she could do, something in front of her appeared. Only about seven metres ahead of her, a Sniper Rifle had spawned. This was her chance.

A third rocket loaded.

Despite the fact that what happened next went like a flash, to Leela it all happened in slow motion. She sprinted and dove at the newly spawned rifle, one hand grasping it, the other landing firmly on the ground. Her feet flew back over her and she pushed herself into a somersault with the free hand, whilst picking up the rifle with the other. She continued to turn in the air, her face now ascending back upright, while her feet began to travel back down.

A forth rocket clicked into place.

As her feet touched the ground, Leela pulled the rifle forward with one arm, aiming it as best she could at the enemy's head. Without even trying to use the scope, she squeezed the trigger as soon as she was back on her feet.

Two sounds were heard. One: the click of the fifth rocket from the Rocket Launcher. The second, a crisp echoing shot from the snout of Leela's rifle. This was soon followed by a third sound, that could be best described as a splut accompanied by a whirr, with a light crunch to it. It was the sound of the sniper bullet piercing through the back of the creature's neck and then shooting out the other side, almost dead in the centre. The creature's eyes widened, and it's tongue was thrown out of it's mouth, as a thick spray of crimson blood ejected from the exit wound and hit the walls and floor with a dull splat. Some of it sprayed on Fry, who had rushed forward to grab the still lethal Rocket Launcher that was falling from the victim's grasp. Grasping hold of it, Fry was now kneeling before the creature, with the Rocket Launcher facing it. When it dropped, it had spun 180 degrees before Fry had collected it. Fry could only stare as the creature stumbled backwards, clasping ! its throat and making desperate choking sounds. It looked down at him, blood still squirting from between its fingers onto the ground. Its eyes were awash with tears of fear and pain. Fry could only stare. Unable to move.

Whirr. Click. The final rocket had loaded.

Then, with a deafening, echoing whoosh, the six rockets flew forward. They didn't stay in one piece for long though. The dying creature was so close in proximity that they almost instantly shot into him. Fry was thrown backwards, as an explosion of fire, blood and body parts sent him reeling back into the behind wall he was cowering against only moments earlier. He was then pelted by various chunky gibs, bits of flesh and a small shower of blood.

Leela had to dive to the floor and lie flat, as a stray rocket streaked down the corridor at her. She lay on the ground, her arms over her head until she heard the rocket explode harmlessly behind her. Then, gradually, she got to her feet, and sighed in relief.

Fry slowly got up at the other end, using the wall at his back to help pull himself up. He looked at the floor and walls in front of him. They were covered in scorch marks, blood and body parts. The thick red liquid ran down the walls, and a leg, one of the only recognizable pieces left, twitched in a crimson pool on the ground. Fry stooped to pick up bloody eyeball that lay at his feet. A tear rolled down his left eye as he looked at it, making a clear river down his bloodstained cheek. He sank to his knees and sobbed, his head down and eyes closed. He didn't look up until he heard the slushy footsteps that approached him. He stared up into Leela's eye, saw that she too was crying. She offered him her hand. He took it, and stood up facing her.

"Why?"

His question was so simple, and yet so hard to find an answer for. She smiled as best she could, and placed her right arm gently on his shoulder.

"Because we have to," she simply stated. "It's us or them"

"But they don't want to do this any more than we do!" Fry argued back, his expression and voice how filled with anger.

Leela didn't answer with words. She just nodded before picking up the blood soaked Rocket Launcher. It dripped with an echoing loneliness into the pools at their feet. She chucked it to Fry, who caught it more as a reflex than as a choice.

"Here!" Leela said, her voice now filled with determination. "You'll need this!"

Without saying anything else, or even pausing for a response from Fry, she simply walked away, ejecting the empty shell from her rifle and loading in a new one. Then she disappeared around a corner. Fry just sighed, then made his way in the opposite direction.


While the battle continued inside, something was happening outside.

In the centre of the city of Consternation lay the Black Palace. The titanic black structure made the other large buildings look like dwarfs in comparison, like a queen on a chessboard surrounded by pawns. It wasn't just tall, but was wide as well, and the reason behind its namesake was definitely apparent in the structure's jet-black exterior. At the bottom of the steps was a large door, and in front of that door stood two Sielarch guards. Both held Seismic Rifles and looked alert. One suddenly swung its head around, as if frightened.

"What isssss it?!" asked the other.

"I don't know?" it replied with a snarl. "I thought I heard something?!"

As soon as it looked away a second time, something streaked right past the other guard at an amazing speed, almost invisible to the eye. When the nervous guard glanced back at his friend, he noticed a strange look on his face.

"What's with the face?!" it queried. "You see something?!"

The other guard just stood there. Jaw open with a fixed stare.

"Stop fooling around!!" the first guard grunted.

He punched his frozen friend in the chest lightly, but as soon as he did he screeched in shock, as the top half of his fellow guard split away from the bottom half. It fell to the ground with a clatter, leaving the legs, tail and lower stomach just standing there like a camera tripod stand.

"What's going on?!!!" the living Sielarch growled loudly. "Who's out there?!!!"

Then, he saw something out the corner of his eye. As quick as he could, he swung his tail towards the area he had seen something, only to find that half way through the swipe, the tail end of the appendage suddenly broke away. As the bottom half of his tail flew through the air, he squealed in pain and withdrew the rest of it.

"WHAT ARE YOU?!!" it screamed. "SHOW YOURSELF!!"

A shadow suddenly fell over him, and the last thing he did before his death was look up and scream.


Alesia sighed heavily as she turned yet another corner, only to be met with another long, empty room. She wearily leant her back against the wall behind her.

"Why do I even bother?" she asked herself, slumping down into a sitting position.

She was cold, confused and afraid. Like the room she had just discovered, she was empty inside. Unlike her other teammates, who she hadn't even seen any sign of since her arrival, there was nothing for her to fight for. No reason to bother. And part of her really didn't care at all.

"Why?" she asked herself, examining the small pistol clasped in her hand. "Why care?"

She tossed the Supporter down the long corridor with an uncaring flick. The small weapon bounced off the floor, its barrel making a sharp click upon contact with the rough stone. It spun over, making a similar sound as its handle made contact next, bouncing also. Finally, the discarded object slid across the ground with a lonely scraping sound, then lay still. Then, there was only silence.

Alesia rested her arms across her bent knees, then just buried her face in them. The ground was cold to sit on, and the fact that her thighs and backside were almost completely bare didn't help. Once again, though her body found it uncomfortable, her mind didn't really give a damn.

'I'm so sick of the pain and hurt,' she thought to herself. 'So tired of it.'

She looked across at the gun again.

'Would anybody really care if I just....... ended it all...... here and now....?' she wondered.

The weapon continued to be her focus, as for a long period her mind was blank. The object was supposed to be for killing. It was meant to be a cruel instrument of pain. Or was it instead, a release from pain? She stood up slowly, her eyes not blinking. All they focussed on was the very item that could very well end her suffering. Forever. If she chose to. She wandered slowly towards it, then stooped and retrieved it once again.

"Hold it right there!" said an unknown voice.

Alesia looked up and across the corridor. There, with a Sludge Gun trained on her, stood a short, blue-skinned man. He looked nervous, though still well composed.

"Leave the gun where it is?" he said.

"Fine," responded Alesia with no hesitation and even less emotion, dropping the pistol back on the floor again and standing up again. "Just go ahead and kill me."

Her adversary was taken aback.

"What?!" he said.

"I said, just kill me," Alesia said. "I was about to anyway. There's no reason for me to live."

"Wh-what about your friends?" the creature asked, not letting its guard down in case of a trap.

"Friends?" Alesia mimicked, almost sarcastically. "I have no friends....."

There was an awkward silence, then Alesia shot the alien a determined glance.

"So let's just get this over with then!"

"Okay then....." came a nervous response, and the small man walked closer and began charging up the gun. "I'll hit you with all the sludge I can. That way the pain will be over quickly."

"Yes," Alesia nodded. "The pain will be over soon....."

The gun was soon fully charged, and the toxic load of deadly goop burst from the end of the gun. As soon as it did, time slowed for Alesia. She just watched as the giant, wobbling ball of green paste sailed slowly through the air towards her. It was only a few feet from her when she was distracted by another noise. One that she had only just realised was there. Then, everything sped up again.

"...OOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"

Alesia was struck in the side hard and sent hurtling sideways. But it wasn't the Sludge Gun's ejected ammo, but a much more solid force. She had no idea what had hit her until she had hit the ground and started rolling. Somebody else had dived and her and was now rolling with her away from where she was standing earlier. That someone was Fry.

When they had both stopped, Alesia was on her back, and Fry was on top of her. They both looked to their right to see the thick green bubble explode, and as it did, it shot hundreds of smaller green blobs of varying sizes in all directions. Fry instinctively shielded Alesia, copping four blobs on his back. They ate through the back of his armour, the two largest blobs making it right through and burning his skin a bit too.

"Yeow!!" Fry remarked, as the acid-like substance stopped eating at him.

As gaseous green cloud wafted up from his back, Fry rolled off Alesia and glared at the little blue man. The azure enemy looked shocked, but quickly took on a threatening pose and pointed his gun at the two humans.

"I'll just have to kill you both now!" it said.

Fry screamed, but as his attacker pulled the trigger, he suddenly looked worried.

"Aaargh! Out of juice!!" it said.

Fry suddenly smiled. "And now you're out of luck!" he said.

As the small creature gasped, Fry whipped out his Rocket Launcher and lobbed off a quick grenade at him. It bounced twice towards the target before exploding just in front of him. The blast singed the skin off the face of its victim, then threw him backwards into the air until his skull slammed into the wall behind him, making a cringe worthy cracking sound. Finally, the fatally injured body flopped to the ground in a small heap. The weapon he held previously clattered around his static form. Fry sighed with relief, but then glanced back towards Alesia with an angry glare. She still looked pale and shocked at the carnage she had just witnessed.

"What the hell were you doing?!" he asked her in shock.

"What did you just do?!!" she asked back, even more shocked.

"I stopped us from becoming mice meat, that's what!" Fry defended. "Now tell me why you were going to LET him kill you!"

"Like you even care!" she said, sitting up on her knees.

"The hell I don't!" Fry argued back, sitting up also to raise above her slightly.

"All you worry about is your friends and that cyclops girl," she said angrily. "You don't have any room in your life for me! Nobody does! So why should I keep living in a world where nobody cares about me?!"

"I care about you!" Fry retorted in angry haste.

"Prove it!" she yelled back.

Without hesitation, Fry grabbed her face in his hands and pulled her towards him, leaning in himself. Then, he gave her the most potent kiss he had ever given anybody before. Alesia was taken completely off guard, as his mouth enveloped her own, but then she gave into it, closing her eyes and leaning back submissively. She soon found herself lying on her back, her kisser on top of her, running his hands through her hair. Then, he broke the emotional action, and stared into her large, blue eyes.

"I can't deny it, Alesia," he said quietly. "I... I still love you....."

She smiled back weakly.

"So... so I see," came her near-breathless reply.

"I'm so sorry," Fry sighed. "I was being selfish and thoughtless before. You needed somebody to be there for you and care, but instead.... I pushed you away and rejected you.... I... I just thought that the best thing to do was tell the truth.... but.... it.. it could have waited."

Alesia smiled endearingly at Fry, her eyes sad, yet happy at the same time.

"You were already facing a barrage of troubles, and... well.... I added more bananas to the fire."

Fry stood up, offering her a hand. She took it and he pulled her up also.

"But, we can work out everything later," he said. "For now, let's just concentrate of getting out of this place alive!"

"I can do that," said Alesia. "Though I don't know whether I'd ever be able to kill another....?"

"Just think of it as self defence," consoled Fry. "Or trying to keep yourself from being killed. I don't like it either, but if we're all going to get out of here we HAVE to do this."

"Why?" she queried.

"I asked Leela the very same question," Fry said. "It's basically just a matter of die, or be died."

"Don't you mean 'kill, or be killed?'"

"Same thing," Fry said. "Now we'd better get going. I'll go this way, and you go through there."

"Can't I come with you?" Alesia pleaded. Fry shook his head.

"It's best that we split up, or both of us are one big target."

"But--" came a protest.

"You'll be fine," Fry smiled, patting her shoulder. "If you want, you can even AVOID battles as much as you can and leave it to the rest of us."

"Okay then," she sighed in defeat. "Just promise me you'll be careful?"

"I will. As long as YOU promise me to not pull any suicides?"

"Okay" she nodded. "I won't."

Returning a smile to her, Fry walked into the passageway he had designated himself. But as he did, he couldn't help but wonder whether that would be the last time he saw her? Or anybody for that matter.


High above the arena, near the centre of the maze so that almost everything could be seen, on Sielarch in particular sat on a large throne. He didn't look much different to the others, other than a dark metal band around his elongated head, but he was the most powerful of the Sielarch. He was the king.

"SIRE! SIRE!!"

The King's attention was shifted from the arena to the calls from another Sielarch scrabbling towards him up one of the aisles.

"What is it now?!!" the dark ruler boomed.

"Sire!" the panicked creature said, stopping at his King's feet. "There's trouble near the palace entrance!!"

"What kind of trouble?"

"Somebody has got inside and is slaughtering all the guards, sir!" the messenger gasped.

"WHAT?!!" the King said in shock.

"It's an alien, that we know for sure. What he looks like though, we don't know!"

"WHY NOT?!!"

"Because he moves swiftly and deadly!" hissed the news-bearer. "He is but a blur to the eyes, and kills in a blink of them!"

The King growled deep in his throat.

"The fight can continue without me I suppose," he snarled, standing from his thrown. "We have more pressing matters to deal with I see."

He reached down beside his throne and picked up an object from the ground. It was long, thin, and tubular, with a shiny, blackish-silver colouring. It was his sceptre. And on the end of it sat a large, glowing green jewel.


Amy carefully poked her head around another corner to check the area. Once again, there was nothing there. Just another empty corridor. Amy sighed and began to make her way down it, weapon poised in readiness. As she looked around nervously, her left hand rubbed her right arm rapidly and she shivered a little. It was cold and damp, and she couldn't wait to get out of the place. She realised the fact that her battle costume beared a lot of her skin was the main reason for the chill, but she took solace in the fact it made her look cute. Even if there was nobody around to notice. She couldn't wait to get back to the ship where she could get a warm shower and fix her hair.

Clink!

Amy had to put her thoughts on hold, as she heard a sound from behind her. She turned her head.

"Aaaaaaaaaie!!!"

With that high pitched scream, she ducked quickly, as a thin Razor-disc flew over her head, then disappeared around the next corner.

'Where'd that come from?' she thought, eyeing off all the openings it could have shot out of.

Rattatattatatta......!

Amy gasped as another disc appeared from an opening just a few metres away, this time ricocheting off the walls towards her. Though the disc was whizzing between the two corridor walls at a fantastic speed, it was taking a while to get to her because of the angle it had been fired at. For example, it would hit each wall about five times before travelling a metre in distance towards her. She turned to run away from it, not realising that there was a slippery patch of water on the floor.

"Aye-Yiiiiiiiiii....!!!"

Amy's feet slipped out from under her, and she crashed into her back. It was a blessing in disguise, as the deadly disc travelled harmlessly above her. Amy had had just about enough of this, and thankfully she now knew which corridor her enemy was hiding in. Rolling onto her stomach, she swiftly fired a barrage shots from her own Razor into the entrance of her unseen adversary. The unfortunate individual was caught completely off guard, as one shot hit the target's left leg, just above the foot, cutting through it with ease. The little guy squealed and hopped backwards on his remaining foot, while the other just lay on the floor creating a growing red puddle. A second one hit his upper weapon arm, making the appendage and the object it held drop to the floor, leaving behind a fountainous stump at his shoulder. Finally, a third disc hit his throat, dealing the killing blow as his head popped off with a upward shot of liquid, like a champagne cork being discharged out of a bottle. Then, the torso simply fell ungracefully to the ground, while the remaining shots disappeared through several openings along the walls.

Amy stepped around the corner, peering tentatively into the passageway. She gasped at the sight, a few tears welling up in her eyes.

"Oh my God!!" she exclaimed. "The poor little guy!!"

Then, on Amy's eye display, a small '1' appeared next to an outline of a skull. The realisation suddenly hit her like a tonne of bricks: SHE had killed him.

"Oh God!!" she exclaimed, stumbling back against the wall. Her legs went like jelly and her stomach felt as if there was a small black hole inside it. "What have I done?! I... I-I've killed an intelligent being!! I-I'm a murderer!!"

Amy was engrossed in culpability; too much, in fact. Her mind was dead to her surroundings, and she didn't even hear the sound of Razor discs heading towards her. She also didn't realise that they were in fact the remaining discs from her previous onslaught, which had in fact travelled back through another corridor. She didn't realise anything, until it was too late.

 

Leela gasped, flicking her head behind her in a flash and causing her ponytail to flick around into her face, then swing back to rest against her shoulder. As she tossed it back behind her, she realised she knew the scream that had startled her. She had heard it before. And that scared her.

"Amy," she whispered worriedly.

Putting all attempts at stealth aside, Leela about-faced and began to run hastily in the bearing of the cry. As her boots clanked against the stone ground loudly, almost like a train on tracks, the same thought just kept running through her mind.

'Please let her be alright!'

When she came to approximately where she thought the scream was from, she slowed, and began to check passages and openings for any signs of Amy. As time passed with no result, Leela began to get frustrated. She wasn't sure that this was even the spot, as the walls were excellent deceivers as far as echoing and manipulating sounds went. Then, her eyes caught something lying on the ground at the entrance to another corridor. She walked over and picked up the thin, metallic object. It had blood on it.

"A Razor disc...." she uttered.

Then, a weak voice came.

"Leeeeela.....! Heeeeeelllpp........!"

Leela glanced down the corridor, her face suddenly saddening with dismay and horror.

"Oh God....!" she uttered in quivering breath.

There, halfway down the corridor, lay Amy on her stomach, surrounded by several scarlet pools. Beside her rested her left arm and leg. They weren't attached to her body, instead just lying in the bloody pools. Eyes saturated with pain-filled tears, Amy reached out with her attached arm, pleading at her mutant friend.

"Leeeelaaaa.....!" came an even more desperate call.

Then, the Chinese girl's head dropped to the ground, as consciousness left her.


A lone Sielarch guard looked around in fright. It was unnatural for his species to experience fear, if fact, they usually dealt it out. But then again, few Sielarch had witnessed scenes such as this. Around him, scattered about the floor of the large hallway he stood in, lay the still corpses of five other guards. He was nervous and alone. But not completely alone.

"Where is the jewel?!!"

The guard whipped around and looked up to where the raspy, cold voice appeared to come from. There, lurking atop a thick support beam in the shadows of the high ceiling, a lone figure was perched. Apart from the outline of a head and body, nothing could be made out clearly.

"W-What do you mean?!!" the guard queried nervously.

There was a snarl from the darkness above. In a dark flash, the guard soon found himself lying on his back.

"WHERE IS THE JEWEL?!! THE GREEN GEM!!"

The voice was more demanding and came from another obscured support beam. The guard carefully got to his feet.

"The Emerald of Light?" it queried.

"Yes.......!" the voice growled. "Where is the Emerald of Light?!"

"The K-King has it," the guard answered.

"Excellent.....," a raspy reply came. "And where is the King?"

"He's on his way here."

"Even better!"

The figure disappeared through a nearby opened doorway in a shady burst, leaving the guard the only other survivor of a deadly conflict.


Bender scraped across the rough floor, sparking a little before finally sliding to a halt. Sitting up, a large scorch mark on his chassis that resembled a grey sun in shape, Bender lifted his Flak-Blaster and shot in the direction he had slid from. His small, aqua adversary, holding a Seismic Rifle, dived behind one of the eight think pillars in the room. The cluster of glowing orange metal shards flew into the gap he once stood, bouncing harmlessly against the far back wall and onto the ground, where their glow subsided. Bender growled and stood up.

"Where are you now?!" he uttered.

He attempted to sneak around another pillar himself, but it's hard to be stealthy when you're a robot.

'Curse these metal feet!' Bender thought to himself. Then he suddenly remembered something: at a close range, hot flak could bounce.

"Heheheheheheheeeee!" Bender chuckled, then he blasted a charge of scalding metal fragments against the wall at an angle. There was a small yell, and then the blue man stumbled back out into the open, grasping hold of a bloody arm. Bender jumped out from behind the pillar behind him.

"Don't worry, I've got your back!" the robot said.

Bender shot his enemy in the back at almost point-blank range. The wounded creature jolted a bit, an emotionless gaze on his face. He put his hand down to his stomach, then looked at his palm. It didn't take a genius to work out that getting shot in the back and then finding blood on your front was not a good thing. After looking at the shiny red hand, he simply collapsed in a heap on the ground. Bender stepped over him and retrieved the weapon that he had dropped.

"Ah, another destructive trinket," the robot said, examining the rifle. "Might as well add it to the pile."

Opening his chest cavity door, Bender placed the rifle inside between a Sludge Gun and a Sniper Rifle, then closed it again. Wandering into another room next door, Bender found this one different than most. It appeared to be slightly taller and wider, but the most noticeable difference was a strange looking chamber inside it. Built against the right side wall, there was an entrance into it, and also two windows on either side. Below each window was a large button, and on the roof was a strange pipe sticking up vertically. Inside the small room, a Rocket Launcher sat, as well as two ammo packs for it.

"Another trap, methinks," said Bender, rubbing his metal chin. Or at least where a chin would be if he had one. "But what kind I wonder....?"

The bending unit wandered over and pushed the button. Two doors on the entrance of the room slammed together, and there was a strange sound, like that of a vacuum cleaner. Steam began to shoot out of the pipe at the top as the sound built up in intensity. Then, the doors shot open, the button flicked back out, and the sound wound down to silence again.

"I think I know EXACTLY what this is," said Bender to himself with an evil smile. "And I know JUST how to use it..."

 

It wasn't long before another wandering blue team member stumbled across the room. He had followed the bloody footprints that lead from the corpse of his deceased teammate next door. As he looked tentatively into the small room, he saw an armless Bender, lying on the floor. Bender screamed when he looked across at him.

"No! Have mercy!!" the robot pleaded. "I lost my arms in a battle!"

"So it was YOU who killed my friend?!!" said his adversary in anger.

"Yes. But look what he did to ME?!!" said Bender, watching as his enemy took a few steps into the room. "My arms are gone!!!"

Bender suddenly smiled.

Oh, wait! There's one at the window!"

The short alien whirled his head towards the left side window to see a robotic hand waving at him. Then, another below it pressed the large button, making the doors slam shut, and the room start to hum.

"No!!!" the little man gasped, then he started firing a constant stream of green plasma energy at the window with his Gamma Gun. The window was far too strong though, and the firing stopped as the slim blue man slowly began to expand into a fatter blue man. As his eyes began to bug out of his fattening face, he gave Bender a glance of anger, fear and confusion. Bender just stood back up and laughed.

"Pressure won't affect me, meat-sack! I'm made of metal!"

Then, there was a violent explosion, bits and pieces of the pressurised creature sent in all directions, including against Bender, who was pelted with blood and various other body parts and contents. He calmly just stood there as the doors opened up again, two rubber-wipers screeching across his eyes to remove the crimson film that had coated them. He didn't, however, see that somebody was watching from the right window.

Bender wandered out of the door, both arms reattached and holding his new Rocket Launcher. But he wasn't the only one that had such a weapon.

"You cruel metal bastard!!!"

Bender's head whirled around, but didn't have much time to look at who was standing atop the pressure chamber before he was blasted directly in the back by a rocket. The force sent him reeling into the air and through a doorway to another room. He slid halfway across the thin corridor, a large dent in his back. He stood up with a groan, then turned around, only to cop a rocket in the middle of his chest and be sent flying again. At the end of the passageway it widened, and there was a safety rail with steps leading down on either side to a lower level. Bender's head hit the rail, stopping him. He landed straight on his back and just groaned lamentably, a large indentation in his front to match the other one.

"Ohhhhhhh....! What did I DO to deserve this?!!"

As he lay there, Bender heard a light set of footsteps approach him. Then, a small figure appeared in front of him, holding a Rocket Launcher

"You sadistic junk heap!" it said. "I followed a path of carnage and murder, and it lead to you!! I witnessed what you did to my friend, and saw the results of what you have done to my other friends! And now, it's time for you to pay the price!"

"Bite my dented metal ass! It'll take more than rockets to stop me!"

"You're probably right," answered his attacked. "So let's try a variety of weapons."

He whipped out a Razor and began to rapidly pelt Bender with the shots, making many dents in his body. Bender just yelled, taking the shots as best he could.

"You'll never puncture by metal body!!" Bender yelled back when the shots had stopped. "It's too strong!"

"Then what about your big mouth?" queried his attacker.

"Huh?!" Bender exclaimed.

Aiming his Razor carefully, the blue midget fired a single disc towards Bender's face. It smashed through his robot teeth, shattering them effortlessly, then bounced around randomly inside Bender, who was making various sounds of hurt and discomfort. Finally, the sound of the disc rapping around in Bender stopped, and the sharp edge of it protruded out of his left side, where his stomach would be if he had one. Bender squealed, then opened his door and took the disc out from the inside.

"You short blue bastard!!" he called back. "How dare you break my teeth and damage some of my insides!!"

"How dare you mutilate my friends!!" he called back. "And now that I've damaged you're casing on the outside from the inside, I can take you down!"

"Uh oh!!" Bender exclaimed, looking at the fracture in his chassis that the disc had created and realising it made him vulnerable. He was suddenly hit in the spot by a blue bolt, sending him backwards slightly and opening up the split in the metal more. He looked across to see his assailant with a Seismic Rifle.

"No!!"

Another powerful shot hit the damaged area, this time creating a small explosion and sending shards of his own metal breaking away with an unhealthy crumpling rumble of stressed metal.

"Fall! FALL!!" the creature called, blasting Bender again with two quick shots. Both hit his side again, the first forcing him back against the rail, and the second actually knocking him over it. He fell into the lower level with a nasty clatter, the impact causing bits of burning debris to fall from the smoking hole in him. His optics flashed with warning signs.

INTERNAL COMPONENTS HEAVILY DAMAGED! POWER AT 46% AND DROPPING. BATTERY LEAK.

Bender groaned, forcing himself to sit up against the back wall. His attacker appeared, walking to the edge of the railing above him.

"Prepare to be permanently deactivated. For once, YOU are caught in a trap!" he stated.

Bender looked around.

"Behind, in front, and on either side of you are four strange domes mounted into the walls. They are currently charged up with high-powered, electromagnetic electricity, and when I step on this button, they will blast you. A biological creature would be fried to a crisp, but I have a feeling that the electromagnetic properties will wreak havoc on you too!"

Sure enough, there were four strange, humming devices on either side of him, glowing with a bright blue. He didn't like where this was going.

"Goodbye, robot!" came a cry. Then, there was a large blast and loud buzzing, as the button was stepped on and thick blue bolts were sent into Bender from in front, behind and either side of him. The experience was terrible, as it felt like he was being pulled in all directions by a powerful force, like he was a small toy wanted by four bratty kids at once. Plus, Bender began to involuntarily sing.

"WAR!! HUH!! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?!!!" he uttered in a vibrating style over the buzzing. "ABOSLUTELY NOTHING!! SAY IT AGAIN!!!"

Bender's screens began to flash read, his visuals breaking up with static also.

INTERNAL COMPONENTS CRITICAL!! POWER AT 32% AND DROPPING. CRITICAL BATTERY LEAK. HEAVY ACID DAMAGE. SYSTEMS CRITICAL. DESTRUCTION INEVITABLE!!!


Scruffy swung around a corner, letting a cluster of green orbs fly past. He soon swung back, firing a shot with his Sniper Rifle down the corridor towards his enemy. As the shot hit the wall right beside him, he screamed, then rose his weapon back towards Scruffy and pulled the trigger.

Whirr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-rrrrr....

The barrel spun, but nothing came out. He was out of power. Cursing under his breath, the blue team member ran around the corner into another room, so that he would have time to change weapons. He ran in though and suddenly came to a halt, looking around the place. He was standing atop a narrow platform, and below it was a massive spinning fan. Below the fan was a glowing green liquid that looked nothing like water. Fortunately, there was another way out at the opposite end of the room.

"Scruffy better reload his weapon," the janitor said, ejecting the empty golden shell onto the ground and loading up the rifle again. He wandered around the corner carefully, but there was nobody there. Scruffy made a gruff sound of thought in his throat.

"Must have kept on running?" he speculated to himself.

With his weapon readied, Scruffy carefully walked across the platform. He peered over the edge as he did.

"Whoa! Scruffy thinks that's a huge fan!!"

Scruffy was only just over half way across to the other side when he heard a dull thud behind him, and the nervous voice of an mentally unstable creature.

"Hold it right there!!"

Scruffy turned to find his prey standing there, a Flak-Blaster trained on him. Now HE had become the prey. However, the little guy was clearly distraught: shaking and twitching, he certainly didn't look like he was in much control.

"D-Drop the weapon, man!!" he said to Scruffy. "Do it or I'll shoot!! I MEAN it!!!"

"Scruffy can't," he replied from behind his bushy grey beard. "Scruffy needs to win this tournament."

Scruffy moved his Sniper Rifle towards his enemy slightly, hoping to turn the tables on him. It didn't work....

"YEEEAAAAAARRRRGGHHH!!!!"

With a nervous yelled, the blue team member squeezed the trigger and sent a flock of flak into Scruffy's chest. Scruffy twitched and just stood there, a low groan escaping from his mouth and apparently taking all the colour from his face in the process. He lost his grasp of his weapon, gravity taking control of it and sending it clattering and snapping on the fan below, as it's previous owner stumbled backwards. At this moment, Alesia just happened to walk in from the passage behind the shooter, who was just gasping with his eyes bugged out in shock.

"Oh crap!! What have I done?!!" he said.

"Oh God!" Alesia exclaimed under her breath from a distance.

As Scruffy held his shredded stomach, he lost control of his legs, and stumbled off the edge of the platform.

"Noooo!!!" Alesia called stepping forward. Her voice alerted Scruffy, who managed to just grasp onto the edge of the platform with his left hand. It also caused the wreck of a blue team member to swing around towards her. When Alesia saw the Flak-Blaster swing towards her, she reacted without thinking.

"Aaaaaaah!!!"

With a scream, Alesia squeezed her eyes as well as the trigger on her Seismic Rifle. A bright blue beam shot straight into her rival's stomach. The thick padding he wore around his body stopped the shot from doing too much damage, but it didn't stop the force behind the blast sending him sailing up and away from the platform. Alesia just looked down in shock at what she had done, as she watched him fall slowly towards the fan below, screaming. She quickly turned her head away though, as a nasty whirring crunch echoed around the room from beneath.

"Oh dear!" she said. "What have I done?!"

"You reacted..!" Scruffy told her in a strained voice. "Instinct.... Now could you give Scruffy a little help?!"

Alesia gasped, putting all guilty thoughts aside for a moment so that she could pull Scruffy back up. It wasn't easy, as he was a heavy fellow, and she wasn't that strong. But with some perseverance and willpower, she managed to pull him up onto the platform. As Scruffy lay there on his stomach, Alesia knelt for a while to get her breath back. Then, she turned the janitor over onto his back, only to recoil almost immediately.

"Oh no....." she said.

"Scruffy's not going to make it, is he?"

"I don't know," she responded, examining Scruffy's chest and stomach region. "You've lost a lot of blood, and unless we get you to a doctor quickly... I... I don't know...."

 

"You won't last much longer, robot!" Bender's blue-skinned tormentor said over the buzzing. "I'm not usually a vindictive creature, but what you did to my team-mates and friends was cruel and twisted! And you must pay for it! Besides..... you're just a machine anyway!!!"

"BUT LORD KNOWS, THERE'S GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY!!" Bender yelled.

"No! This is your fate.... Oh, I see, you were still just singing..."

Bender could tell this was the end. The gaping hole in him had stretched apart, creating a long vertical crack that had almost tore his left side apart from the rest of him. Bits and pieces of his internal components had been sucked out of him and strewn about the floor or stuck to the magnetically charged domes. Unless somebody could stop the torture soon, he would permanently go offline. Fortunately, somebody else arrived on the scene.

"Bender?!! BENDER!!!"

Bender and the blue man both turned to see Fry had entered the room at the top of the stairs to Bender's right.

"What the?!!" Bender's attacker exclaimed.

Fry noticed the button that he was standing on. The little guy swung his Seismic Rifle towards Fry.

"I'll take you out too if I have to!!"

Fry screamed and dived into the passageway he had emerged from as a blue beam flew at him and hit the wall nearby.

"If you hide there, you'll never save your friend!!" Fry heard a voice say.

"I have to save Bender!" Fry said to himself. "But how?!! I'd need to be some sort of movie action guy to..... wait! That's it!! I just hope it works"

"You're friend isn't going to save you after all, robot!"

"Guess again!!" called Fry's voice from behind the wall.

"What?!!"

Unexpectedly and suddenly, Fry came diving out of the passageway, a Supporter in each hand. Firing off shots as rapidly as he could, the determined delivery boy glided through the air and towards the deadly beams below. All the while, the surprised little blue guy began to get pelted with the small bullets from Fry's pistols, each of them hitting him in random spots. Some pierced through his body armour, others hit his legs and arms, and some missed, simply making tiny holes in the wall behind. In any case, one important bullet hit him between the eyes, and sent him stumbling backwards. Just as Fry finished shooting and was about to hit the fatal rays of electricity, the button flicked back up, the magnetic electricity disabled, and Fry collided with the ground, face first, tumbling across the ground and into the back wall. Bender's mangled body dropped in a messy clatter, and all his internal parts that were stuck to the magnetic domes rained onto the ground. Then, there! was only silence. Save for a heavy breathing sound from Fry.

"Ohhhhhhh....!"

The groan came from Bender. Fry didn't have time to lay around, so he quickly scrambled over to his fallen friend.

"Bender! BENDER!!! Are you alright?!"

Bender groaned again, and looked at Fry. His optic display had been damaged, with nasty static and loss of colour hampering his vision. His display showed various figures, none of which were very promising.

"Fry!" he wheezed. "I'm dying!"

"Come on, Bender!" Fry said urgently. "You can't die!! I've seen you get through similar scrapes! I mean, you've been flattened, torn apart by a can opener, melted by electricity, had an axe in the back, taken a bomb to the insides, been thrown from the ship and shattered upon impact, and worst of all, become a fembot!"

"Fry!" Bender said in a strained voice. "I'm not as invincible as I may seem. Yes, I've been heavily damaged in the past, but none of those times my essential components were fatally damaged like they are now."

"We can fix them!" said Fry with desperation.

"There's not enough time, Fry!" Bender said. "My laser-core, my primary life-force, will extinguish any moment now...... t-th-t-there's nothing you can do....!"

"Bender, you CAN'T die! I won't let you!!"

"Fry," Bender smiled weakly. "You always have, and always shall be my friend..... so make sure I get the large funeral I deserve..."

"No Bender...!" sniffled Fry. "Because you're not going to die!!"

"It's too late," Bender said. "Goodbye.... Meat-bag...."

With those words, the glow to Bender's eyes began to flicker away. First fast, then slowly, until all light escaped from them. As a trail of yellow smoke began to rise from Bender's mouth, his head fell lifelessly to his right, and his silver body slowly changed to a deathly black. A tear running down Fry's cheek, the human reached over to his robot friend's face, and pulled down the metal visor over his inanimate eyes.

"I'm going to miss you, Bender," he sniffled. "For a robot, you were more human than you probably liked to think."

 

"Amy! Say something!!"

Amy looked up into Leela's worried face wearily.

"Leela?" she said weakly.

"Thank Zombie Jesus you're okay!" Leela exclaimed in relief.

Leela was walking through one of the passageways holding the injured Amy in her arms. Amy's right arm was looped around Leela's neck, and she also carried Amy's severed left arm and leg.

"We'll be out of here soon, Amy," she said. "My visual says there's only one of the enemy left."

Amy gave her friend a weak smile. Leela suddenly looked worried and stopped.

"Oh my God!" she said. "Somebody is gone!!!"

"Gone?" asked Amy quietly.

"Yes. Somebody's no longer on the scanner. And another is beginning to give off a weak signal...... but..... it's not you..... Somebody else must be close to death!"

 

Scruffy closed his eyes.

"No! Don't you die on me!!" Alesia said, pulling Scruffy onto her lap and cradling his head in her arms. "Wake up!"

Scruffy slowly opened his eyes and gasped up into Alesia's face.

"Are you an angel?" he queried.

"No!" said Alesia. "You're not dead yet, so stay with me here!!"

Scruffy shook his head slowly.

"Scruffy's gonna die the way he lived," he replied.

"No!" Alesia said. "Don't go!!"

Alesia held Scruffy close, droplets forming in her eyes. She barely knew this man, but she knew he was a friend of Fry's. But the reason she was starting to cry wasn't because of Scruffy as such. It was because it reminded her of when she was only twelve and her own mother died in her arms. Then, Scruffy's eyes slowly closed again, and his head slumped to one side. His breathing and heartbeat stopped. The janitor died there and then, in Alesia's arms.

"Nooooo...!" she said in an emotional choking burst. She felt as if she had let Scruffy down, just like she felt she had let her mother down back on that fateful day. And that really hurt inside.

 

"They're gone...." said Leela simply, closing her eye as a salty wet stream ran down from it. She didn't know who they were, but she just knew she had lost two people she knew. She looked down at Amy's face. Her friend's eyes were closed.

"No you don't!" said Leela angrily. "We're NOT going to lose you too!!"

She gave Amy a shake, then breathed a sigh of relief when the girl stirred.

"Stay with me here, Amy!" Leela said. "Keep talking to me, okay! I'm going to see if I can find out who is still alive!"

Leela attempted to flick a button on her-eye scanner, but it was difficult. Amy pressed it for her with the hand that was around Leela's neck.

"Thanks," smiled Leela briefly.

"No problem," rasped Amy. Leela then spoke into her microphone.

"Come in, Red Team. This is Leela. Please tell me your state! Over!"

There was a crackle of silence before Fry responded.

"Leela, this is Fry! I'm fine, but..... Bender's.... gone..."

"What?!!" exclaimed Leela. "You mean he's..."

"Yeah. Permanently deactivated. In that big mainframe in the sky."

"This is Alesia," came another timid response. "I'm fine, but..... we've lost Scruffy."

Leela gasped.

"What happened to him?!"

"H-He took a lethal shot to the stomach... Th-there was nothing I could do.."

Leela was about to respond, when another voice chimed in.

"Hello? Hello? Is this working? It's me, Zoidberg!"

"Zoidberg?!!" said Leela in surprise. "Where have you been?!"

"I don't know, I haven't seen anything or anyone!!" the crustacean replied. "I've just been wandering around this stupid maze in circles!!"

"Zoidberg, we'll need you fast!! Amy's been badly hurt!!"

"I won't be able to help her until I get out of here," Zoidberg replied. "All my medical equipment is with my clothes in the locker room, it is!"

"Then we have to find that last blue team member, and fast!!" Leela ordered.

"Faster than you'd like!!" chirped in a voice that wasn't over the speaker.

Leela gasped to see the last blue man standing in front of her and Amy, holding a Rocket Launcher.

"I'm not a fighter, but nor am I going down without resistance!!" he yelled.

Leela and Amy both just screamed as a rocket suddenly blasted straight towards them. Then, everything went blue.

When things cleared again, Leela found herself in a completely different room, still holding Amy, and still facing the final blue member. But there was no longer a rocket, or even a Rocket Launcher. Then, others began to appear, all of them arriving in a blue shimmer. First Zoidberg, then Alesia holding Scruffy and finally Fry and Bender's body. Then she realised they were all back in the same place they were before they had gone into the arena. Though this time, there were no Sielarch around.

"What the hell happened?!" Fry inquired.

"I don't know!" said Leela, turning to Zoidberg. "But that can wait! Zoidberg! Take Amy and do what you can! Quickly!!"

Zoidberg took Amy and began to scuttle as quickly as he could towards the male changing rooms.

"Don't worry, she'll be back together in no time!!" he called back before disappearing. Fry wandered over to Leela, who was now sadly looking at the cadavers of Scruffy and Bender. She sighed sadly.

"We knew when we entered this that there was probably no way to come out of this without losses..." she said to him. "When you enter a fight you MUST be prepared to lose some along the way."

She closed her eye and sighed loudly.

"But you can never be prepared for how much it hurts when you do."

Fry put an arm around Leela's shoulders, and she embraced him and began to cry on his shoulder. Alesia stood up from Scruffy's side and watched the scene. She didn't react in the slightest. She was like a statue that had stood for a million years.

"I'm the only one..." a quiet voice said from nearby. Everybody's glance moved to the little blue soldier who had fallen to his knees.

"I'm the only survivor of my race!" he wept.

"But why?" asked Fry. "I don't want to seem mean or anything, but.... I thought that the fight didn't end until an ENTIRE team was wiped out?!"

"Brilliant deduction!!!" an evil voice hissed from behind them. Everybody whirled around to see a Sielarch standing there.

Leela growled at him. "What's the deal, you slithery bastard!!!" she yelled. "You PUT us in this horrible game, now tell us what's going on!!"

"Quite ssssimple!!" it replied. "There hasss been a disssturbance at the Black Palace!"

"The Black Palace!" whispered Leela.

The Sielarch continued, "That'ssss why the match was finissshed early. It was sssstrikingly clear who wasss going to win anyway!"

"S-s-so what happens now?" asked Fry nervously.

"You may all clean up, tend to your injuriessss, and change into your regular clothing," it replied. "Then you ssshall be all become sssslavessss!"

"What?!!" exclaimed Leela angrily. "I thought the winners were set free?!!"

"Free to live!" came the response. "Not free to go where you pleassse! There will be a sssslave auction for you and thossse from the lassst three tournamentsss in an hour!! If you're lucky, you MAY get a sssssympathetic massster!!"

With that, the tall, black creature turned, and made it's way back down a long corridor.

"I've already been a slave on seven other planets since I came to the future," said Fry to Leela and Alesia. "And those other times were big disappointments, so I have a feeling this one will be too."

"I can't believe they're dead," said Leela, kneeling before Scruffy and Bender.

"There's nothing we can do about Scruffy," said Fry sadly, "but I think we can bring Bender back."

"How?" asked Leela in surprise. Fry suddenly held out a small plastic diskette.

"After Bender passed on, I took this out of the back of his head," Fry replied, waving the item around.

"The disk with Bender's brain on it!" smiled Leela.

"Yeah," said Fry. "Hopefully it'll still work if we put it into another Bending robot, then we'll have Bender back!"

"It's worth a try," said Leela, but then her face suddenly saddened. "But don't get too confident, Fry. There's also the high possibility that it won't work either. I don't want you getting too hyped-up on false hope. You may have to accept that Bender's gone."

"I'm not going to accept it until I find it acceptable!!" Fry replied with determination. "As long as I have this disk, and I haven't tested out my theory, then there's still hope!"

Leela gave Fry a bittersweet smile. He may not have been the sharpest tool in the hardware store, but he thought with his heart, and she had to admire that.

"Well, I suppose we might as well get cleaned up," said Leela with a sigh. "Can you tell me how Amy is going when you get to your changing rooms, Fry?"

"Sure," nodded Fry, tapping the microphone on his headset. "I'll tell you over these things."

"Thanks," smiled Leela, as Fry disappeared around the corner.

Fry continued to walk down the corridor, entering the male changing room's door when he got to it. There, he saw Zoidberg attaching Amy's left leg with his medical laser.

"There, good as new!" the doctor said before turning towards the door. "Oh, hello there, Fry!"

"Wad up?" said Fry, walking over to the bench Amy lay on. "How's she going?"

"She'll be fine," smiled Zoidberg. "Her limbs are reattached and she'll have full feeling in them in no-time. But she lost a lot of blood, so she'll need to rest a bit before I recommend any major activity."

"Wow!" said Fry. "I can't believe it!"

"It wasn't that bad," said Amy in a raspy whisper.

"No, I was amazed that you actually attached her arm and leg at the right spots!"

"Hey!" argued Zoidberg. "I'm an expert on humans, remember?!! Anyway, how are YOU, Fry? Anything you need help with? Perhaps an infected gonad that needs removing?"

"Uh.... no, I'm good," said Fry quickly. "Just a small cut on my arm and some acid burns on my back. No biggie."

"Excellent then!" said Zoidberg. "Then you'll be healthy enough to give Amy some much needed blood?"

"What?!!" said Fry, backing off slightly.

"Come on, Fry," said Zoidberg. "She'll need it if she's going to be able to move around any time soon!"

"But... you don't even know if it's the same blood type?!!" argued Fry.

"True," said Zoidberg. "But being as you're related to the Professor, who DOES have the same blood type as Amy, there's a good chance you do. I'll just have to test it first."

"Geez, Zoidberg! What's with all this good doctoring lately?!!" Fry asked with surprise. "Did you whang your head in there or something?!!"

 

As red liquid swirled down the hole at her feet, Leela was happy to get it out of her hair, and as far as she was concerned, she never wanted to see blood again.

Showering in the stall next door was Alesia. Leela had been thankful that there was more than one stall, as after that awkward kiss earlier, she didn't really want to expose herself too much to Alesia. She didn't trust her, though that was one of the furthest things from her mind at the moment. After an experience like the Black Tournament, it was impossible to think about anything else. And she just wanted to wash every single droplet of blood away. It wasn't just the physical feel of it, but a lot of it was mental. When she thought about what it was, what it REALLY was, she just felt so disgusted and dirty.

Alesia turned off her shower and grabbed a towel that was hanging over the edge of her stall. As she dried her hair, Leela turned away and snorted quietly.

'I'll bet now that her PTV is wrecked, Fry is going to invite her to come with us?!' she thought to herself angrily. 'That is if we ever manage to get back to the ship. And that's assuming it's even fixed. I wish we could have taken some of those weapons with us so that we could jump the Baron and take control of the ship again.'

Leela turned back towards Alesia, who has disappeared out of sight behind the barrier between them.

'I don't even know what Fry sees in her," she thought. 'So she has a pretty face, big deal! She whines and cries all the time though! She's just an over-feminine softy! She's got no strength to her!'

Alesia's head popped back into view, then she exited the stall with her towel wrapped tightly around her body, then walked out of sight.

'But enough about her. I need to think of a way to get us all out of here and back to the ship! But how?!'

Leela attempted to think of something, but there was nothing. Alesia appeared again, this time wearing her old clothes.

"I'll just go ahead without you," she told Leela simply.

"Fine with me," said Leela, a little huffy in her response. Alesia just nodded simply, then turned and left the room. Leela's attention suddenly focussed on a sound from nearby.

"Leela! You there?"

It was Fry's voice through her headset, which she had perched on the top of her stall door. She picked it up and spoke into it.

"Yeah, I'm here. What is it?"

"Amy's going to be fine. I just gave her a quick blood donation, so I'm feeling a little woozy.... but she'll be strong enough to walk by herself soon."

"Good. Thanks, Fry," Leela replied.

As soon as the communication ceased, Leela turned off the shower, and suddenly broke down into tears. She just leaned against the door of the stall and let it all out. There was nobody else around, and that's what she needed. She needed to just be alone to express the grief and sorrow. The emotional aftermath of what the Black Tournament had done to her. It wasn't just because she had lost two close friends. It wasn't just because she had been coated in blood and had gone through the most difficult experience in her life. Those were certainly factors, but the main reason she broke down was because she had taken other lives. Could she justify her butchering of other beings in the argument of self-defence and self-preservation? Could she justify it in trying to save her friends? Not in her mind. No matter how she looked at it, she had slaughtered and help slaughter innocent, intelligent life forms. And that was something she knew that she would have to live with for the rest of her life, and nothing could compensate for what she had done.

Would she and her friends have survived if she didn't act like she had? Probably not? Did that make her feel any better? Not by a long shot.....


Dedicated to Futurama, the very reason this story exists. You may be gone from our television screens, but you will survive in our hearts and minds, and in the work of those who refuse to let you die. May you live a long life in the artistic and literary work of those that stick by you......

R.I.P. FUTURAMA
28th March, 1999 - 10th August, 2003

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