Futurama

Fan Fiction

Futurama: Universe of Malice, Part 14
By Kenneth White

Chapter 14 - Escape from Consternation

It was about 80 million years ago when it happened. Like Earth, the planet Graz faced a mass, asteroid induced extinction of its primitive life forms. And also like Earth, that asteroid was as old as time itself and contained one of the gems.

As millions more years passed, Graz began to evolve and grow again. Despite the initial damage, the planet became a diverse system. There were plains, jungles, deserts, beaches, mountains, canyons, oceans and woodlands. But what made Graz stand out from most planets wasn't its varied climates and landforms. No, what made it special was the richness of its minerals. The ground was filled with billions upon billions of crystals, awaiting anybody that was willing to dig for them. Some were as small as a grain of sand on a beach, others were bright, titanic structures that reached up into the sky like beautiful natural skyscrapers.

So it only made sense that once intelligent life had evolved over time that the gems would become a valuable source of trade, wealth and possession. Then as more years passed, it was no surprise that Graz became known as "The Mining Planet" throughout its solar system. Crystals were mined, bought and sold there. Rich aliens from all over the universe would come to Graz and set up a mining business themselves, hiring one of the three major races as miners. Thus, the excavation of precious stones became the planet's major commodity.

There was, at least for a start, war between the three races. The Garg were the strongest of them. They were large, naturally muscular, green-skinned creatures that resembled orcs or trolls. However, their brute strength was, as usual in these cases, counteracted by their small brains. The Mallies were the smallest of the races. Strange, hooded figures, their most impressive talent was not their ability to communicate telepathically or the fact that they had seven different languages of their own, but the neat ability to teleport anywhere within eyeshot. This helped them avoid danger and return to places quickly, although it could physically drain them to death if used too much, too often. Finally, there was the K'Targ. Lanky, pink-skinned individuals with long noses and beady eyes, they were efficient workers and shrewd dealers.

It was in the Earth year of 2955 that the wars pretty much came to a halt, or at least resulted in no more than the odd scuffle. This was the year that the planet's richest native, none other than the leader of the K'Targ, decided to end the unpleasantness. Creating a treaty between his people and the other races, he set up a massive, neutral mining facility where he would oversee everything. He, along with two high-ranked members of the Garg and Mallies, were now in charge of all crystal buying and selling, as well as mining equipment, labour and mining sites. The name of the K'Targ who started it all was Lord Suikkanen.

Then, just over ten years after this was started, there was an odd disturbance. Every gem that came into the facility had to be individually weighted, checked, measured and valued, due to the fact that the ways the rocks could be found was so diverse. But this time a very strange gem arrived. It was red, an almost perfect diamond shape, and when checked for purity with a special laser, it enhanced the beam and created a strange, seemingly impenetrable red shield around it. Further tests revealed that it was composed of an element not found on the planet otherwise, or at least not previously. This rare object interested Lord Suikkanen, and he purchased the item for himself immediately. He had no idea that in about forty years time, others would come looking for the crystal.


"Keep moving slave!!"

Leela grunted as, once again, a Seismic Rifle barrel prodded her in the back. Its owner, one of two Seilarchs accompanying her, Fry, Amy, Zoidberg and Alesia through the dark corridor spoke again.

"The auction begins in less than ten minutes and we've still got to process you all and then pick up two other groups! Move!!"

"Where are Bender and Scruffy?!" asked Fry rather bravely, his voice showing a smidge of emotion to it.

"I assume you mean your deceased friends?" the other Seilarch growled.

"Yeah!" Fry said. "Where have you put them?!"

"Their remains are currently in storage in a place we call the Corpse Lab. That's all you need to know!"

"Where is this lab?" Fry queried next. He felt he was pushing his luck now.

"Silence!!" the Seilarch screeched. "I said no more questions!!"

It poked Fry in the back of the head roughly with the snout of the gun.

"Ow!" Fry exclaimed, rubbing the back of his head. "No you didn't! You said 'that's all you need to know.'"

Fry was prodded in the head again.

"Silence!! We'll tolerate no smart-ass remarks from you, slave!!"

The group was lead to room with only a single table and some filing cabinets. Behind the table stood another Seilarch, and on the table were various pieces of paper and other office-like equipment. Amy was pushed forward first, and the desk Seilarch spoke.

"Sssspeciessssss?" he queried with a deep hiss.

"Uh..... human..." Amy said reluctantly.

"Put your handsssss face down on the dessssk!" it commanded.

Amy did, and she promptly received two hard stamps on each one. Now the back of both of them had a dark letter 'H' on them. She was pulled away and Alesia was next.

"Sssspeciessssss?" the stamper asked her.

"H-h-human..." she stuttered.

She put her hands down like Amy did, and also received two stamps, again a large 'H' in dark ink. Zoidberg was next.

"Sssspeciesssssss?"

"Human," said Zoidberg cheerfully. He got a strange glance from the stamper, then received a nasty prod in the back with a rifle.

"Oof!" he exclaimed. "What?! Can't you take a joke?!"

"SSSSPECIESSSSSSS?!!" came a mean, demanding hiss.

"All right... fine..." sighed Zoidberg, rolling his eyes. "Decapodian."

Zoidberg put out his claws, and got a strange glance shot at him again. The pincers were then stamped with a letter 'D' mark. Fry was next.

"Uh... human..." he said before the question could be asked.

"Put out your handssss!" ordered the Seilarch.

"No!" said Fry, sounding scared. "Keep that stamp away from me!"

"Aw, come on, Fry!" said Leela from behind him, almost impatiently. "It's just a hand stamp!"

"But I don't like getting my hand stamped," whimpered Fry.

"Fine! We'll do it the hard way then!" the desk Seilarch said.

"Wha--?" Fry exclaimed, turning around. He didn't have much time to react as in a flash the stamp was thrust towards his face. It slammed him just above his eyes in the center of his face, and he winced and looked up. There was now a dark letter 'H' on his forehead. He groaned and was pulled aside.

"Sssspeciesssssss?" Leela was asked.

"Human," she replied. She was shot a glance not unlike the ones Zoidberg had received earlier.

"I'm not joking," she said in her defence. "But I am a mutant human."

"Ah," said the Seilarch. "Very well then... Handsssss!"

Leela did and received two stamps. She looked at them.

"F? What does 'F' stand for?!" she queried.

"Freak!" sneered the Seilarch.

This time Leela was the mean glance dispenser, but she and the others were moved along before she got a good chance to do anything else.

As they were lead through another dark corridor, Fry leant towards Leela and whispered to her, "We have to get out of here before we get sold into slavery as servants!"

"I have an idea," she whispered back. "I'll plead a case that you, Zoidberg, Amy and I all get sold as a group or not at all. Then, later on, we can hopefully escape together to the ship."

"That could work," nodded Fry quietly. "But, wait... what about Alesia?"

"She's on her own," Leela muttered, almost bitterly.

"What do you have against her?" Fry asked back, not knowing whether to be angry at Leela or just pity her.

"Let's just say I don't trust her," she responded.

"SILENCE!!"

Leela was given another swift jab in the spine from the Seilarch behind her. She felt like taking a swing at him, but knew better. It wasn't long before they stopped outside a darkened cell with humming green energy bars across it to stop whatever was contained within it from escaping. A guard standing near the cell took a key card and swiped it through a panel on the wall nearby. The bars faded away, as did the humming, and one of the Seilarch pointed its gun towards the shadowed end of the cell.

"Come out, you two!" it hissed. "It'ssssss time to be ssssoold!"

Out of the shadows came a groan, then two large hulking forms lumbered towards them. The creatures somewhat resembled hairless gorillas, with a stony grey skin, huge yellow eyes and a squashed in nose, though they had no ears. Both looking at least two and a half metres in height, they both had manacles around their thick wrists and looked very muscular. They wore a rough, black shirt with no arms, a thick belt with large rusty buckles on them, thick, baggy looking trousers and worn, faded brown boots that looked very hardy and thick. And they both ducked out of the cell and stood beside the group, the first one glanced down towards them with a mean glare.

"Let'ssss go!" one of their captors said, prodding one of the large newcomers with the rifle butt. Then, they were all walking again. The large creature closest to the crew looked down towards Leela, then suddenly looked surprised and continued to stare at her. This scared Leela, though she didn't let it show, choosing to return her glarer a nasty glance in return. After only a few seconds, the thuggish beast turned to the other and spoke. What he said though was beyond Leela's understanding.

"Crau alustuh alustuh, watayna. Haruska crau. Maitooba ewolda balin baruka delphine grau, alustuh."

"Quiet!" the Seilarch directly behind him ordered, giving the beast a nasty jab in the back. The other one replied to his friend.

"Gon, ewolda grau. Ewolda ho haruska ka delphine."

"I said shut up!" the guard yelled, dispensing an even more violent jab. It didn't seem to hurt the big guy much though. There was silence for a while, until a corner was turned and the group entered a passageway with small windows on the right hand side of the wall, up near the ceiling.

"Karonta!" the furthest of the grey-skinned brutes said to the other.

"Gon?" it replied. It sounded like a question, as if somebody were to say 'Huh?'

"Ewolda! Ewolda sao!"

To the surprise of everybody, the two beasts effortlessly broke the chains on their shackles as if they were made of paper. The shocked guard right behind them that had been doing most of the poking gasped, but was swiftly sent sailing through the air and sliding across the ground before he could do much else, as he was delivered a nasty uppercut. As the deliverer of the blow retrieved the weapon that his victim had dropped, the other Seilarch, who was leading the procession of prisoners, turned and fired a blue bolt from his gun past the crew towards them. However, the other grey giant saw it coming, and unfortunately for a certain nearby cyclops, she was used as a living shield.

"LEELA!!" Fry called as the bolt slammed into her. The beast let go of her, causing her to drop to the ground like a stringless puppet, while his friend with the Seismic Rifle took down the Seilarch shooter. As it slid across the ground, Fry, Amy, Zoidberg and Alesia just looked at their motionless friend on the ground. Amy shook her head woefully.

"First Bender, then Scruffy, and now Leela!" she said in sad disbelief. Fry's expression suddenly changed to anger, and he lost all sense of rationality.

"You MONSTERS!!" Fry yelled, rushing towards the one that had got Leela shot. He was quickly and easily dismissed with a simple swing of the arm from his target, but was luckily only sent sliding across the ground a few feet. Amy stooped and checked Leela's neck pulse. She sighed in relief.

"Thank God! She's only stunned!" she said back to the others. The Seilarch with the gun turned to his friend and spoke angrily to him.

"Blunta! Gor ton won ark haruska!"

He shot the Seilarch that had been uppercut earlier, finishing off what the punch had started. The other grunted.

"Karonta ig arklars wonn!"

He turned towards Leela and Amy, then pushed the Martian girl aside roughly and picked up Leela's body, slinging it over his large shoulder. Fry got up from the ground, still looking miffed.

"Leave her alone!" he barked at them. "What are you doing with her?!"

He was just given a loud growl in response before the lummox turned to his friend with the weapon.

"Ewolda sao."

"Gon," came the reply. This was immediately followed up with the wall to his left being blasted by the Seismic Rifle. A massive hole was created as the room filled with the sound of cracking stone, as well as dust and rubble. The gun wielding one then leap out of the hole, and his friend followed. Taking Leela with him.

"NO!" Fry yelled, running to the freshly made opening. "Bring her back!!"

As he looked through the hole, he immediately jumped back a little. Through the grey wafting dust, he could see that they were a few hundred metres high in the air. He could make out the two large figures sliding down the steep, curved outer edge of the building towards a thick causeway below. The others joined Fry at watching them make it to the raised road and start to run away.

"Come on!" said Fry with determination. "We need to get Leela back!"

"You don't expect us to slide down there after them do you?!" said Amy. "Besides, they're HUGE! Even if we do catch up with the, how exactly will we get Leela back?!"

"I dunno, but we have to try!" said Fry bravely. There was a moment of silence as he just perched in the hole with a determined look on his face, not moving.

"Uh... what are you waiting for?" asked Amy after a while. Fry's expression suddenly changed from valiant to terrified.

"I'm too scared to jump!" he said quickly.

"Oy!" Zoidberg remarked, and he prodded Fry, sending him screaming off the edge and skimming against the outside wall in a sitting position. The surface was surprisingly smooth, which made for minimum friction burns, but maximum speed. Zoidberg leapt out next, whooping and lying belly first. Alesia stepped out to the edge and looked down. The wind whistled around her face, blowing her long hair and making her brush it out of her eyes. She looked back at Amy nervously.

"I-I don't know if I can?" she said.

"Look, either you go, or I'll push you out," said Amy, not trying to be mean but in an obvious hurry. Alesia sighed and eased herself out and down the edge of the building. Amy was right behind her. Fry hit the ground first of course, then turned and screamed as he was slammed into by Zoidberg. Fry pulled himself out from under the smelly lobster, then looked around swiftly.

"Which way did they go?!" he asked.

"That way!" said Zoidberg, still lying on the ground and pointing with his left claw into the distance. Fry saw the two figures running away in the distance, but suddenly heard a screaming sound from above. Before he could react, he was slammed into by Alesia. When he opened his eyes, he found that he was lying on the ground with her on top of him. She smiled slightly, breathing heavily.

"That wasn't so bad!" she said.

They both picked themselves up, and no sooner did they than Fry was careened into again by Amy. Fry groaned and pulled himself to his feet again. Amy stood up, rubbing her rear-end with a painful expression.

"Dame yaru n datta ne!" she exclaimed. "I hope that didn't misshape my cute butt?!"

"No time to find out," said Fry, already rushing off in the direction Leela's captors went. "This way! Quick!"

"Wait!" called out Zoidberg, holding a small, square object up in his claw as Amy ran past him in pursuit. "You dropped this!"

"No time!" Fry called back, not even really looking at what Zoidberg was holding. Zoidberg shrugged and dropped the object, then joined the chase. There, on the dusty road, lay a single black floppy disk.

Meanwhile, the two monsters they were after had a good head start on them.

"Where are we going, Alusta?" the one carrying Leela asked in their language.

"To our ship," the other replied in native tongue. "Alusta saw ship when we slid down building."

"How?" came a question in their language.

"Lots of ships in one spot. Must be shipyard."

They stopped and suddenly turned a corner. They still didn't know that they were being chased though. As they ran, Amy managed to catch up with Fry.

"Fry!" she panted as they ran. "We're running through a main street, but I don't see any Seilarch! Where are they all?"

"Don't... know.....! Don't... care.....!" Fry puffed in response. "Must... save... Leela...!"

They made it to the intersection where the kidnappers turned and stopped. While Fry leant against a wall to catch his breath, Amy pointed into the distance.

"That way!" she yelled. "Come on!"

Fry took a deep breath and started off again in the direction Amy pointed. A few seconds later Zoidberg and Alesia stopped at the same point, looked left, then right, and then took off again as well. As Amy looked in the direction she and the others were running, she saw the hairless gorilla-like men suddenly turn to their right and disappear behind a building. Then, she suddenly noticed what the building was.

"Hey!" she exclaimed. "They went into the ship selling place we found you and Alesia in!"

"Oh no!" Fry exclaimed between breaths. "They're... going to... escape... in a... ship!!"

They finally made it to the shipyard and stopped. Fry fell to his knees and panted hard, while Amy was breathing heavily too, but obviously not as exhausted as him. She was more fit that Fry, so it made sense.

"They must be somewhere amongst the ships?" she hypothesised. "Probably trying to find one to steal."

"What... are the... chances... they'll... even find... one... they can... fly?!" Fry wheezed.

Zoidberg and Alesia arrived on the scene, both also panting fairly hard.

"Where... are they?" Zoidberg asked.

"Amongst the ships somewhere," Amy answered. "We think... But Fry doesn't think they'll even know how to fly them anyway so they--"

Amy's speech was cut off by a deafening blast and everybody whirled their heads towards the shipyard. From near the centre of the rows of different ships, a tall, rocky shaded, needle-like ship blasted up into the air slowly. As it ascended, the three rocket engines propelling it left behind a white cloud of vapour and the speed of it increased. Fry looked into the sky with despair. He got to his feet, only to purposefully lower himself to his knees and yell into the sky.

"NOOOOOOOOOO.....!!!"

As the ship blast straight into the air, leaving nothing but three white streams of cloud, Fry stopped and lowered his head in defeat. Zoidberg clapped his claws.

"Brilliant!" he said. "Calculon would be soooooo proud!"

Fry suddenly stood up again.

"We can steal a ship too!" he said.

Everybody made sounds of shock and disapproval.

"We'll steal a ship and follow them!" Fry proposed, a hint of madness in his voice. "Then we'll get Leela back!"

Amy slapped him across the face twice.

"Snap out of it, Fry!" she said angrily. "We're not going to steal a ship and go after her!"

"Amy's right," nodded Zoidberg. "We need to stop and evaluate our situation first."

Fry stopped rubbing his cheek where Amy had slapped him and sighed.

"You're right..." he said. "I wasn't thinking... I mean, I wasn't thinking more so than usual."

"What are we going to do now then?" asked Amy quietly.

"Well..." said Fry, rubbing his chin. "We'll need a new Captain for starters. And since I was the next in command as delivery boy, I propose it be myself."

"Okay," said Zoidberg. "But remember, as the ship's doctor I can relieve you if I think you are unfit to command..."

"I'll buy you a bucket of rancid shrimp when we get back to Earth if you don't," Fry said.

"Sold!" Zoidberg quipped with a huge smile.

"Well, what are we going to do now then... Captain...?" Amy said, almost sounding a little sarcastic.

"Well first of all," Fry said. "I think we should head back to the ship and tell that stupid Baron what happened. When we do, we'll make a deal with the Baron that we'll get his gem for him if he promises to let us search for Leela afterwards. We can get a change of clothes while we're at it. I dunno about you guys, but I've been wearing these for days!"

"What about Alesia?" asked Amy.

"She's coming with us," Fry answered with determination. That was at least one decision he was certain about.

"Speaking of which, where is the long-haired human female?" Zoidberg shrugged.

Fry and Amy whirled around, looking to see if they could see her. She wasn't anywhere within sight range, but something nearby caught Fry's eyes.

"I think I know," he said, looking in the direction of an open gate leading to an alleyway.

Sure enough, Alesia was in there, looking sadly at her damaged PTV. She sighed laboriously, then turned as she heard a high-pitched creak behind her. Fry stepped through the gate and smiled warmly.

"Hi," he said.

"Hello," she smiled back briefly. She was always happier when he was around, if only a little.

"Are you going to be able to get it going again?" Fry asked her.

She just sighed again. "I don't think so. It looks badly damaged. I just thought I'd rescue what I could from inside it while we were here."

She walked over to it and got inside. As she shuffled around in there, Fry spoke from outside.

"We've decided to let you come with us anyway... I assumed you'd want to?"

"Thank you," she replied, sticking her head out the side and smiling. "I'd love that."

"The only thing is, you'll have to put up with this Baron jerk!" Fry muttered as she resumed searching the vehicle. "But I'm sure we can somehow get rid of him. That means we won't be able to take you home for a while though."

"That's fine," she said, stepping out of the vehicle. "I'm in no hurry to get back."

She wandered over to Fry, holding some folded material and a small computerised device.

"All I found that was worth retrieving was a clean dress and my PTV's removable computer console."

"Come on then," smiled Fry. "We'd better head back to the ship."

"Hey, have you noticed that there's none of those horrible creatures around?" she asked him. "Where are they all?!"

"Yeah, Amy was wondering the very same question," Fry said. "Maybe they're all busy?"


"WHERE IS IT?!!"

The Seilarch King was angry, and he had a good reason to be. So many of his kind had been slaughtered by some strange force. And what's more, it was demanding to see him.

"It'sssss in the throne room now, sssssire," one of his followers said. "And demanding to sssssee you."

The King responded with a hiss of musing, like a vile purring of hate deep in its throat.

"Very well! But I will go alone!"

"Are you sssssure that'sssss wissssse, sssssire?!"

"Yes," the ruler snapped. "Now get out of my way!"

He pushed the doubter aside and stormed through the double doors and into the throne room. As he slammed the doors closed again with his tail, he walked through the dark, circular place. His feet made echoing clicks on the smooth, hard floor below. There were no windows at all, the only light coming from the gothic style candle chandelier that hung from the high ceiling by thick chains. The room didn't have much in it apart from some large, black cloth banners hung around the walls, a few devilish carvings on some of the tall pillars and, of course, the huge throne at the end of the room that somewhat resembled a demonic gargoyle with a flat surface to sit on. Because of the sparse surroundings, the King was left wondering exactly where his seeker was hiding.

"Where are you?!" he bellowed, his voice reverberating around the walls. "Show yourself!!"

There was a dull thud from behind him, causing him to whirl around instantly. There, lying on the ground in the darkness, was a shadowy lump. The King just stood still and stared as the lump suddenly took form, rising in height as whatever it was squatting there stood up straight. It appeared to be a rather humanoid form, with two legs and what looked like two arms at either side. It appeared to be holding a long, thin object in one hand, and the shape of its head was unclear. Several things were spiking up, though whether they were horns, hair or something else was unclear. What little light there was suddenly glinted off the object it held as it moved. Finally, the creature spoke with a bitter, no-nonsense rasp.

"Are you the king that I seek?!"

"Yes," the Seilarch ruler answered, not even a hint of fear or uncertainty in his equally sinister voice. The shadow growled with what sounded like satisfaction.

"You have something I want!" it responded. "Give it to me!"

The Seilarch King didn't know whether to be angered or impressed with the audacity of this new foe.

"What is it that I possess that you wish to take?" he asked back.

"Your staff!" it said, pointing towards the item that the king held. "Or more precisely, the gem at the end of it!"

"The Emerald of Light?!" the King said in shock. "You killed dozens of Seilarch just to take this jewel?!!"

"They attacked, I simply reacted," the phantomy being said. "At least in most cases. Others were either in my way or refused to cooperate! Now, give me the gem!"

The King growled angrily.

"Come and get it!" he challenged.

"Have it your way then!"

The figure moved slowly at first, appearing to take on a stance of readiness. Then, it was suddenly gone, whooshing towards and past the King in a black blur. Before the royal alien could make sense of what happened, he heard a voice behind him.

"Thanks for the staff!"

He whirled around to see the shadow sitting in his throne, holding his staff in one hand. It spoke again.

"You can have this back, by the way..."

It threw something on the floor in front of the king. As he analysed the object carefully, he realised it was a Seilarch arm. He swiftly looked to his right to see that it was in fact his own right arm, as the appendage was no longer attached to his body. Screeching loudly, the King prepared to charge his attacker, only to see it was no longer there. The doors behind him burst open as the very Seilarch who had cautioned him earlier rushed in.

"Sssssire! Are you okay?!"

As the King looked back at his concerned comrade, he saw a dark streak dart out of the room through the opened doors.


"Here it is," said Amy, stepping through the jungle undergrowth and pointing at the ship. Fry whistled.

"Man! What happened to her?!"

"A case of laser guns versus the ship's engines," said Zoidberg dryly. "They get along as well as a human and oxygen."

"Uh... humans breath oxygen, Zoidberg," said Fry.

"I-I don't mean to alarm you all," said Alesia, looking more than a little concerned. "But what's that running down the steps?"

She pointed at the front landing gear that doubled as the ship's main entrance, which was still dug into the soft forest soil. But the unusual substance on the steps leading into the ship wasn't the mud, dirt and leaves: it was the thick read liquid running down them.

"Somebody please tell me that's ketchup," said Fry nervously. "Because if that's what I think it is, I've seen enough of it to want to not want to know what it is?!"

"Okay, here's an idea," said Amy skittishly. "We all play Rock-Paper-Scissors and whoever loses goes in to see?"

"Okay then," Fry replied reluctantly. "That sounds fair... I guess..."

The three crew members all faced each other and started.

"On three," said Fry. "One... two... three!

They all played their option. Amy commented on the result.

"Fry and I chose rocks, and you chose scissors, Zoidberg. You're going in."

"What?!!" the lobster exclaimed. "That wasn't scissors, it was paper!!"

"Looks like scissors to me," said Fry.

"Of course they do!" yelled Zoidberg angrily. "They're claws!! They always look like scissors!!"

"Stop being a sore loser, Zoidberg!" said Amy with a huff. "Hurry up and check out the ship!"

Zoidberg growled angrily, his mouth tentacles rippling in annoyance.

"Fine!" he huffed in defeat. "But the next time one of you two gets injured, don't expect it to be of the same professional standards that it normally is!"

The Decapodian doctor approached the steps cautiously, then carefully stepped onto them. He slowly made his way up each step, his sandals clanking with each one, then stopped at where the trail of crimson fluid ended. He took out an electronic device from his pocket and scanned it. He gasped.

"I can't believe it!" he exclaimed. "This substance is completely foreign to me!"

The others all looked at each other in surprise. Zoidberg continued.

"I have no idea what it is?! It contains erythrocytes, leukocytes, opsonins and plasma!"

"Oh, then I guess we have nothing to worry about?" Fry said with a smile.

"You're wrong," said Alesia, rather calmly. "It's blood."

The three others yelled simultaneously in shock.

"Explain?" asked Fry.

"Okay," Alesia said simply. "Erythrocytes are the red blood cells, leukocytes the white ones, opsonins are blood antibodies and plasma is the liquid that houses them."

"How do you know so much things about stuff and things?" Fry asked, clearly impressed.

"When you live alone for ten years with nowhere to go and nothing much to do, you need a way to spend your spare time," she replied. "Though maybe you should be more concerned that your good doctor didn't?"

Zoidberg chuckled nervously as Amy and Fry gave him mean stares.

"I'll just go and check out the ship now, shall I?"

He ascended the rest of the stairs, then the others heard a high-pitched scream. Zoidberg ran halfway down the stairs again and yelled back at the others.

"The Baron and his men! They're all DEAD!!!"

Fry was the second one of them to enter the ship, recoiling instantly. Amy popped her head up, only to go pale and make gagging sounds. She ran past Alesia, down the steps, her mouth straining to hold something back. Alesia stepped inside, her face saddening at the sight.

"What happened here?!" she asked, instinctively standing beside Fry.

On the ground of the cockpit lay the murdered bodies of Baron Steinmann, Marc and Andrew. The floor and some of the instruments were soaked in their blood, and several had been damaged also. Fry looked carefully at Steinmann's corpse.

"Looks like he was stabbed in the chest by something?" he said. "A sword or large dagger by the look of it."

Amy returned, looking rather pallid. She slowly got into the ship, shuddering a little.

"Wh-what happened?" she said with a frightened whimper.

"Looks like somebody got to the Baron and took him out," mused Fry. "But why?"

His eyes suddenly bugged out as he exhaled in a gasp of realisation.

"Zoidberg! Amy! Check the place for the gem and the trident!"

His two crewmates knew what Fry was getting at, and immediately both searched the area with him. After a couple of minutes of frantic searching, Fry sighed.

"Anything, guys?"

"Nope," Amy said.

"Zilch," Zoidberg added.

"Okay then," Fry said. "Amy, check the crew quarters, Leela's room and the laundry brig in case they're there. I'll check the rest of the rooms. Zoidberg, put the bodies in the freezing chambers and hose the deck down."

The lobster and Chinese girl acknowledged Fry's orders and got to it. Alesia approached him.

"Can I do anything?" she asked.

"Just wait there for now," Fry suggested. "I'll be back in a few minutes."

Fry disappeared through a door at the back of the room, so Alesia just took a seat and waited, watching Zoidberg as he picked up the bodies of Marc and Andrew and hauled them away. She decided she might as well do something, so she turned on the nearby tap and began to hose away the blood. Despite remaining calm on the outside, seeing all that red liquid wash away made her shudder inside. I didn't matter how often you saw things like this, no matter how often you experienced death, it just never got any easier. If anything, it got worse. Zoidberg returned for the Baron's body, giving Alesia a friendly grin.

"Thanks for helping, human female."

"That's fine. And please, call me Alesia," she suggested.

Zoidberg smiled back and picked up the cadaver, then left the room with it. Alesia got rid of the last of the blood with the hose. But even though the floor now seemed clean, she didn't feel clean. And that wasn't just because she was wearing grubby, torn old clothing. Zoidberg soon came back, then Fry eventually returned, and Amy did as well.

"Anything?" Fry asked her.

"Nothing," Amy sighed.

"Great! Scruffy and Bender are dead, Leela's missing, we find our ship filled with the dead bodies of the Baron and his cronies and the gem and trident are missing!"

"Speaking of which, you've taken Bender's death pretty well," Amy added. "It's almost as if you don't miss him at all?!"

"I do," Fry sighed. "But he's not dead as long as I've got this..."

Fry reached into his pocket, but suddenly screamed. He then frantically began checking all his other pockets, panic plastered on his face.

"What's wrong?!" asked Amy.

"Bender's disk!" Fry yelled. "The disk with Bender's brain on it! I had it, but now it's gone!!"

"Uhh..." Zoidberg said nervously, raising a claw. "That disk didn't happen to be a small plastic square thing about this big, did it?"

"Yes!" Fry said, perking up. "You know where it is?!"

"Uh... kinda," the doctor shrugged. "You dropped it when we were chasing those large guys earlier."

"WHAT?!!" Fry yelled. "You DID pick it up for me, right?!"

"Yes... but the I dropped it again when you said it wasn't important."

Fry just sat there with a fixed expression of despair. Alesia wandered over to him and held out a dusty piece of square plastic to him.

"Here," she said. "I picked it up after Zoidberg left it on the ground. I remember you saying what it was after the tournament."

Fry took the diskette, tears forming in his eyes. He stood up and sniffed loudly.

"Thank you so much!" he said. "I can't believe I almost lost this! I would never have forgiven myself if it got lost or destroyed! God! I can't believe how stupid was!! From now on, I'm keeping this with me constantly. I'm not going to lose it again. The life of my best friend depends on it."

"What are we going to do now then?" asked Amy.

"First of all, you can repair the engines."

"Me?!!" Amy jumped.

"Yeah. Aren't you supposed to be an engineer or something?"

"Guh! Engineering student! I don't know how the Professor's dark matter engines even work!"

"Well... do what you can then..."

Amy shrugged and left the cockpit.

"Uh... excuse me, Captain Fry, but... what about Nibbler?" Zoidberg asked.

"Huh?"

"Nibbler was on the ship too, but where he is, I do not know?"

There was suddenly a familiar noise from a nearby glove compartment behind Alesia.

Fry got up and tried to open it, but it wouldn't budge.

"Didn't somebody check this thing when we were searching the ship earlier?" Fry asked.

"I tried," said Zoidberg. "But it was locked, so I didn't bother checking it."

Fry pulled the keys from the ignition, which were luckily still there. Finding the right one, he inserted it in the door and turned it. It burst open and Fry found himself on his back with Nibbler jumping on his chest jabbering loudly.

Alesia cooed. "Awwwww... he's so adorable!"

"Annoying is more like it!" corrected Fry, grasping Nibbler between his hands and standing up. "But at least he's alright, or Leela would have been pretty mad!"

He placed Nibbler on a nearby chair. He just sat there and began nibbling at his leg.

"Anyway, here's what I plan to do. Once the ship is repaired, we're going to find and attack the Corpse Lab to get our fallen friendses bodies back. Then, we'll go and find Leela."

"What about the guy who killed the Baron and stole the gem and trident?" Zoidberg asked.

"Who cares?" said Fry. "We're free from the Baron now. We don't need to keep up his jewel-finding crusade."

"But if what the Baron said is true," argued Zoidberg. "Then whoever took the items and murdered him is probably some other evil force trying to rule the universe, am I right?"

"So... you're saying we should try and collect the gems ourselves, just to stop other evil forces from getting their hands on them?"

"Not only that, but we could be heroes and use them to destroy this planet eating menace and actually save the universe in the process!"

"Hmmmm... I dunno... it sounds kind of difficult, dangerous, and a little cliched..." Fry said. His expression suddenly brightened. "I love it! Let's do it! What do you think, Alesia?"

"I think I know where to start," she said simply, showing no enthusiasm at all, yet being encouraging. "Remember when the tournament finished early because there was a so-called disturbance in the Black Palace?"

"Uh-huh..." Fry nodded.

"Isn't that where the Emerald of Light is supposed to be located?"

Fry's face brightened. "Hey, yeah! You're right!"

"Of course," said Zoidberg. "That disturbance will most likely be whoever attacked the Baron trying to find the green jewel!"

"Exactly," Alesia said. "And I'll bet that's where all the Seilarch are."

"We'd better hurry though," Fry said. "It happened ages ago, whoever it is may have found it by now? We need to get to it before him, and if we find him, we may be able to get back the pieces he took from the Baron too?"

Fry suddenly called out loudly behind him.

"AMY!!"

"Be right there?!" came her response from a distance. There was a sound of scuffling, and she soon entered the room, holding a wrench with her face covered in grease.

"We're going to the Black Palace to get the green jewel. How long will ship repairs be?"

"I don't know!" she exclaimed in shock. "If it wasn't for the Professor's blueprints down here, I wouldn't even have a clue as to what I'm doing. But somebody got started on them before the slaughter, so it shouldn't take too long."

"Okay. You stay here and repair the ship. The rest of us will go."

Fry sighed.

"I sure wish Bender or Scruffy were here to help out........ or Leela...."

"If you could find an unused robot shell, you could put Bender's disk in and he could help us," suggested Zoidberg.

"Yeah," Fry sighed. "But where am I...."

He trailed off and a huge smile came to his face.

"Of course! Zoidberg! Alesia! Will you two be fine to head to the Black Palace alone?"

"I... I guess so?" said Alesia reluctantly.

"Great! I just need to head somewhere first, then I'll meet up with you! But first, we'll need some putty and circuit board chips in case the Seilarch are back on the streets."


Somewhere below the city of New Jersey, The Robot Devil hosted a poker game with some of his friends.

"I raise five," said Nixon, pushing forward a bunch of chips with the tiny robotic arm attached to his jar.

As the others mused over their cards, the Devil himself spoke.

"So, Nixon... the universe is still doomed, huh?"

"Apparently so," the former presidential head growled. "All efforts from the DOOP were useless."

"I raise ten," said the head of Bill Gates, floating in a jar mounted on a golden robotic body. A Microsoft logo adorned the chest on the chassis of the automaton. As he began to push a pile of chips forward with the robot's left arm, it suddenly stopped, making a buzzing sound. He growled and began hitting it with his right arm.

"Damn thing locked up again!"

After a third hit, the arm functioned again and placed the chips where they were supposed to be.

"Say, Bill," said Nixon. "Where's your old friend Steve Jobs? I haven't see him at one of our poker games for a while."

"Oh! There was an... uh... unfortunate accident at the Head Museum recently..."

Gates' head began to think back to a few weeks earlier. There, his head sat on a shelf in the Head Museum next to the head of Steve Jobs. Jobs was talking on a phone that was sitting upright inside his jar.

"Thank you. Bye," he said into it. He then spoke to a well-dressed man standby nearby. "You can take the phone away now, Jeeves."

"My name is Bob," said the man.

"Of course it is," said Jobs sarcastically as the phone was removed.

"What was that all about?!" Bill Gates queried.

"Oh, I was just talking to a VERY important client about a new, revolutionary piece of hardware."

"What is it?" Gates asked.

"Oh, I'm not going to say. But I will tell you this: it will be on the Apple Mac first!!"

As Steve laughed, Bill Gates growled angrily. Then, after checking nobody was around, he made his jar jump towards Job's one, nudging his shelf mate and making him fall to the ground below. After a crash was heard, Bill Gates began to laugh with a nerdy cackle of malevolence. When he opened his eyes, he found a table of poker buddies all staring strangely at him. He let the laugh die down, then cleared his throat.

"In any case," Gates continued. "I have a new piece of software for you, Beelzebot."

"Oh," said the Robot Devil, less than enthusiastically. "What have you got THIS time?"

"Oh, it's a very simple database program to help you keep track of your hell-bound robots. I call it, Microsoft Ex-Hell 3006."

"I don't know..." the Robot Devil mused, rubbing his pointy metal chin. "I'm a tad sceptical..."

"I say give it a go!" encouraged Santa Claus from across the table. "After all, Mister Gates here is responsible for my Naughty List Database. It works like a dream!"

"I'll think about it," the Devil said. "And I bet fifteen."

As he pushed his chips forward, a small, robot demon sitting to his left pushed a single chip forward with a mindless grin. The Robot Devil sighed.

"I don't know why I bring you along, Doug?! You've got to be able to keep up with the betting."

Doug just lowered his head with a sad gaze. Santa pushed forward some chips.

"Okay, I'm calling!" he boomed. "Let's see your cards, Gates!"

"Wait a minute!" butted in an elderly female voice from nearby. "I didn't get a chance to place my... Whaddayacallit....? Bet yet!"

"Who are you?!" asked the Robot Devil with surprise.

"Shut up, you'll get your turn!" snapped Hattie at the evil robot. "Now I get to place a bet, same as everybody else does!"

"But I called him out!" said Santa angrily, turning to face the old woman sitting beside him.

"Quiet!" she yelled, hitting Santa with an umbrella. "And another thing, it's too hot down here! I vote that we all continue the game around at my place. Then we can all take turns brushing my cat."

"Shut up!" yelled the Devil.

A small phone sitting on the table near Nixon then rang. Nixon grabbed it with his tiny arm.

"Just a sec guys. I have a call."

He put the phone against the glass, as close to his ear as he could.

"Hello, Nixon here...... What?! You want me for another meeting regarding Earth defences against that monster?!"

He listened at the voice on the other end.

"Why are you speaking to me, I'm not even the President any more?! Go and speak to that sissy Gore!"

"This IS Al Gore!" said the voice from the other end. Nixon suddenly looked shocked.

"Oh! Sorry... sir... I thought you were a robotic phone message. Uh... why do you want MY help with this?"

"Well, I'm an expert on preventing disasters and you're an expert on creating them," said Gore with a smirk from his end. "I thought it might be good for us to meet together on this and cover all bases on the subject. I'll get back to you on a time and place, assuming you're in?"

"Arr-Rooo!" Nixon growled. "Very well! I look forward to arguing with you!"

Nixon got off the phone and spoke.

"Looks like the bigwigs are already sorting out plans to defend Earth against this monster thing. Like it'll do any good..."

"So this thing is indestructible, huh?" the Robot Devil queried.

"Apparently so," growled Nixon. "Its shell is as tough as the toughest thing in the universe!"

"Too bad you can't attack it from the inside," suggested Bill Gates.

"By gum, that could work!" gasped Nixon.

"But that ship was detonated inside it, and THAT didn't work," noted Santa.

"You're right," sighed Nixon. He suddenly perked up again. "Unless...."

Nixon whistled loudly and a man with dark glasses in a suit walked over to him.

"Ah, Secretary of Transportation. Take me back to my ship. We need to go to the DOOP again!"

"Why do you care about destroying this machine to save billions of lives so much, Nixon?!" asked the Robot Devil with shock.

"It's very simple," said Nixon. "I loathe having an enemy out there I can't beat! And this one is staring me in the face and destroying the universe, like a stoned hippie that blows hooch smoke in my face and is destroying American values! Well, no more! Nixon's going to stop this metal menace, or give up trying!"

Then, Nixon and his carrier disappeared through the door, leaving the others to continue their game.


"This must be it?" said Zoidberg as he stood before the doors of the enormous Black Palace with Alesia. The doors were opened, and there was nothing to really stop them from entering it. Both of them had chips attached to their foreheads with putty.

"We might as well go in then," Alesia said nervously.

They were about to enter when they heard a roar from above them. As they looked up, they could make out a sleek, black spacecraft streaking across the sky directly overhead. It was quickly followed by several more ships in pursuit, shooting laser beams as they chased it out of sight.

"What was that all about?" Alesia pondered. "Wait a minute! That ship! The small black one... Fry and I saw it a few days ago!"

"Huh?"

"Yeah, it flew overhead of us when we were in the jungle. And now it's leaving again."

"The jewel thief perhaps?" Zoidberg wondered.

"I don't know, but let's get this over with. This place gives me the creeps!"

They walked into the building to find a long, dark hallway. The place seemed deserted, so they kept going. Turning their first corner made Alesia jump and squeal. They had come across a group of several massacred Seilarch bodies lying on the floor.

"My God!" Alesia gasped. "Wh-what could have done this?!"

"Probably the same thing that slaughtered the men in the ship."

"Yeah, I know that," Alesia said. "But what exactly is it?! The Seilarch are fast, strong, intelligent and deadly killing machines. What force could have.... butchered them so easily?!"

"Trusssst me, you wouldn't want to know!" a hiss echoed around the room. Alesia and Zoidberg whirled around to see a Seilarch standing behind them. They were scared, but Alesia could help but feel something different about this Seilarch. It slowly walked towards them, a strange expression on its face. Alesia was thinking this would be a good time for Fry to come back.


"Hello?" Fry called, poking his head around the metal door. "Anybody here?"

Fry heard footsteps, and within moments, a familiar figure appeared at the other end of the room. The look on its face changed from a grumpy scowl to a surprised grin.

"Hello there, lad!" a surprised Gubbins said cheerily. "What you doing 'ere?!"

Fry entered the building and walked over to the maintenance main.

"Hi there, Mister Gubbins," Fry greeted. "Do you mind if I ask another favour of you?"

"Depends what it is?" he chuckled back. "Shoot!"

"You wouldn't happen to have any old robots that work but are short of a brain?"

Gubbins rubbed his chin in thought, the skin around his podgy nose squeezing into a series of wrinkles.

"Hmmmmm... I dunno. I'll take a look in me workshop. Follow me."

Gubbins waddled into the workshop Fry had entered earlier and examined the large pile of junk on the ground where he had got Fry a discarded robot shell from earlier.

"So, what you been up to then, lad?" he asked.

"Eh... nothing much. Running from danger, finding murdered bodies, jumping off buildings, losing friends... Oh! And I was in that Black Tournament you mentioned!"

"Cripes!" Gubbins remarked, turning to Fry with shock. "And you survived?!"

"Yeah... though a couple of my friends didn't," Fry sighed. "That's why I'm here. One of my friends was a robot and he was... permanently deactivated. I managed to get his brain, and was hoping that I could put it in another robot."

"Could I have a squiz at the disk, lad?" Gubbins asked. Fry recoiled.

"What?!! No way! You're not going to take a leak on my friend's brain!"

Gubbins chuckled a little.

"No, I meant, could I have a look at the disk...?"

"Oh!" Fry exclaimed. "Yeah... sure..."

He took the disk out of the pocket in his jacket that didn't have a hole in it and handed it to Gubbins. He had learnt to put it in a better place after the last mistake. Gubbins blew the fawn coloured dust away and examined it.

"Hmmm... What kind of robot was this friend of yers?"

"He was a bending unit," Fry answered, sighing a little. He was starting to realise that there was a chance this wouldn't even work. He hoped to God that the disk hadn't been damaged. That would have been worse. It would be bad enough if it simply wasn't possible. But if it was because he had damaged the disk, he wouldn't be able to live with himself. Gubbins handed the square plastic object back to him.

"I think I may have something out back," he smiled. "It belongs to one of them nasty beasts who wanted it fixed, but I'll tell 'im it was beyond repair and let you 'ave it."

Fry's face lit up. "Wow! Really?!!"

"Sure," Gubbins chuckled. "Dunno if the disk will fit, but might as well try.

Gubbins walked over to a door at the far side of the room and opened it. He flicked on a switch inside the room, giving him some illumination, then disappeared behind the door. He appeared again, carrying a small robot. He placed it on the floor in front of Fry with a grunt, suggesting that the little thing was heavy.

"There we go," the maintenance man said.

Fry examined it as Gubbins turned off the light and closed the door. It was about knee height and had a small, round head with an antennae on the top, what looked like valve taps on either side of its head and the usual robot mouth and eyes, though they were unlit at present. There was a door on the front of its body and it ran on tracks instead of legs. It had two thin arms, each of which had a two-fingered hand, but no elbow joints. Fry whistled an impressed sound.

"It's kind of cute," he smiled with a chuckle. "What kind of robot is it?"

"It's a basic toolbot," smiled Gubbins.

"Can it do much?"

"Well, most of its functions are inside. It has a dustpan and brush, a mop, and a hose. There's a welding torch built into its right hand too."

"Well... what are we waiting for?!" Fry quipped. "Let's try him out!"

Gubbins nodded, then took a screwdriver from his belt and turned a small screw in the back of the robot's head. A small panel flipped up, revealing a thin slot. Fry carefully slid the disk into it and Gubbins turned the screw again, closing the panel. The mechanic swiftly smacked his hand on the antennae, making it click down and back up again. There was a whirring sound, and the robot's eyes and teeth began to slowly brighten up. Inside the body, displays appeared.

BOOTING UP SYSTEM
NEW BODY DETECTED
LOADING NEW HARDWARE
............
NEW HARDWARE LOADED
SYSTEMS AT 100%
ACTIVATING VISUAL DISPLAY
ACTIVATING AUDIO COMPONENTS

Then, the sight of two sets of feet appeared to the robotic unit. It groaned loudly.

"Urgh! What happened?!"

"Bender?!!" Fry exclaimed. "Is that really you?!!"

The head on the small robot swivelled up to look at the faces of Fry and Gubbins. The eyes darted between the two humans with a look of uncertainty.

"F...Fry?" came a response. "Wha..... what happened? Why am I back online?"

"I retrieved your brain and put it in a new robot after you got damaged," Fry smiled. "It's so good to have you back!"

"New robot?!" Bender exclaimed. He examined his body as best he could, then started wiggling both arms. He gasped. "What the hell am I?!!" he yelled. "What's with this squat form and these unflexible little arms?!"

"You're a toolbot," Fry explained. Bender just stared at him for a while.

"....... What?!!"

"I said, you're a to--"

"I heard you!!" Bender yelled, cutting Fry off mid-sentence. "It was a rhetorical statement of disgust!!"

He suddenly gasped.

"Yeargh!! I can't feel my legs!!"

"You don't have legs."

"WHAT?!!"

"Yeah, you've got tracks instead."

"Tracks?!!"

This was followed by a quick series of incomprehensible groans of disapproval and shock.

"How dare you give me this dinky little form!" he yelled. "I'll kill you, you bastard!!"

Bender drove towards Fry with his arms pointing up towards him. He hit Fry's feet and just sat there, his tracks turning but unable to actually go anywhere as he made little angry exclamations and desperately reached up towards Fry's face. After about five seconds of this he released a large groan of defeat and stopped.

"Awww, jeez! I can't even strangle you!!"

"Hey!" said Fry, starting to get a bit ticked off at Bender's behaviour. "You should be grateful you're even alive at all!"

"That's a matter of opinion!" the little robot huffed, turning away and crossing his arms as much as he could with the elbowless rods.

"Awww, come on... that body probably has a bunch of neat tools?"

"What?!! You mean this stupid dustpan and brush?!!" he yelled sarcastically, the two objects poking out of his chest as he demonstrated. "And a mop and hose?!!"

"Your right hand doubles as a blow torch too," Gubbins added.

"Good!" Bender said. "I can use it to burn this loser!"

He indicated Fry and his hand sparked a couple of times. He growled.

"But it's out of gas..." Gubbins added. Bender growled again, but it morphed into a whimper. He closed his eyes and cried out loudly.

"I can't do anything!!!" he wailed. "This body is useless!!"

He sniffed loudly. "I need a beer!!"

"Beer?!" Gubbins said. "Oh, you can forget that."

"Huh?" Bender remarked.

"That body isn't equipped for alcoholic fuelling. In fact, it'll damage it. You'll just 'ave to stick to good ol' fashioned oil. I'll go get you some and top you up now."

Bender waited loudly and Gubbins left, then turned to Fry.

"For the love of God, Fry!!! Take me back to that arena and get me killed again!!!" Please?!!"

"Sorry, Bender," Fry said, shaking his head. "We've got more important things to deal with. Leela's been kidnapped by some weird aliens for one thing."

"What's that thing on your head?" Bender asked.

"Huh? Oh... it's just a chip attached with putty to make it look like I'm a slave."

He pulled it off and demonstrated: "See?"

"Okay, but now there's a letter 'H' on your head as well," the robot noted.

"Oh, that's the human species identification stamp," Gubbins said as he returned with a container of oil. "Though they usually put it 'em your hands. Hard to get those stamps off too... takes a strong solvent."

As Gubbins began to top Bender up, Fry gave his friend a reassuring smile.

"Don't worry, Bender. We're going to get your body back from the Seilarch soon. Then we'll repair it and you'll be as good as new."

"Good, because I don't know how long I can take being in this thing!"

"But first, we need to meet up with Zoidberg and Alesia in the palace. I hope they didn't run into any problems?"


Zoidberg and Alesia were backed into a wall, and the Seilarch was getting closer. Alesia suddenly noticed something strange on the Seilarch. Green liquid dripping out of its stomach, where one the monster's hands was placed. It was hurt.

"The creature's injured," whispered aside to Zoidberg. "Maybe we can get past it?"

The beast suddenly launched itself at them. Zoidberg and Alesia chose to dive aside, causing the beast to slam into the wall. They looked on as it simply groaned, lying on the floor and clearly in discomfort. Zoidberg stood up and pointed to a set of doors in the distance.

"Quickly! We can escape through here, we can!"

Alesia just looked at the loathsome beast that lay there, writhing on the ground in pain. She turned to Zoidberg, her face expressionless.

"No," she said.

Zoidberg flinched in shock as he saw Alesia approach the Seilarch. She knelt before it, looking into its eyes. They narrowed in contempt as it hissed at her.

"We can help you," she consoled. "But you need to tell us what we want to know."

It snorted.

"Help from alien ssssslavesssss?!" it growled. "Never!!"

"Look, we're after the same thing that hurt you... assuming that it was after the stone your species possess called the Emerald of Light?"

"Get losssst!!" it screeched. "The last thing I want to sssssee before I die issssn't a group of sssssmelly foreignersssss!!"

"Fine," she responded. "We'll find out for ourselves and leave you here."

She stood up, turned and walked towards Zoidberg.

"Wait!"

She turned back to the source of the plea. The creature was holding out one of its thin, dark arms towards her.

"I'll talk! I'll tell you what you want to know!"

She walked back over to it and knelt beside the beast.

"Could you please bring your medical kit over?" she asked Zoidberg. The lobster slowly approached them, his face drenched with uncertainty.

"Now..." Alesia said. "Just tell us what happened?"

"Very well," it snorted. "Basssssically, sssssome sssssort of mysssssteriousssss force entered the palace in sssssearch of the emerald! After killing many guardsssss, it attacked our king, ssssstole his ssssstaff!"

Alesia ripped off the left arm of her clothing. She was running out of things to use as wound cleaners and bandages. She spoke as she carefully wiped the olive fluid away from the wound.

"Why did he take the King's staff?"

"Becaussssse, the emerald is mounted on the end of the ssssstaff!"

It paused, then managed a small, malevolent grin.

"Or ssssso it thought!"

"What do you mean?" Alesia queried. Zoidberg had applied some anaesthetic and was examining the wound. The Decapodian's face looked fairly puzzled by everything though.

"It wasssssn't the real jewel," it responded. "It isssss merely a forgery for deception! The real item isssss found in a sssssafe, locked within the King'sssss private chambersssss!"

Zoidberg stood up quickly.

"We've got the information we want! Let's go!"

"No!," Alesia barked. "We promised we'd help him, so that's what we're going to do!"

"Awwww..." Zoidberg groaned.

"Yeaargh!! What a mess!"

Alesia and Zoidberg turned to see Fry looking at the mass of Seilarch bodies strewn about the ground. He noticed them too.

"Hi guys!" he said with a cheery grin. The grin disappeared though and he yelled in fright.

"What the hell are you doing?!! That Seilarch is still alive!!"

"Yeah," Alesia nodded simply. "It gave us the information we needed about the gem, so in return, we're helping him out."

"What?!! Are you crazy?!! These things are evil, cruel, heartless beasts!!!"

"They're living creatures all the same," she responded.

"Look, Alesia, I'm all for your... non-killing policy, but after the tournament and all..... aren't you feeling just a little hatred for these creatures?"

She nodded.

"I hate them," she agreed. "In fact, I despise them... them and everything they stand for and do."

"Then why?"

"Because if I don't, would I be any better than them? Should I just stand back and let this creature die... this horrible, EVIL creature die... just because it did me, and many others, great injustice?"

"Are you saying that this... THING should get away for what it's done with no penalty?!! That is an injustice in and of and around and on itself!!"

"No, but that doesn't mean it should pay for it with death," she argued back.

She sighed.

"Look, I've had to deal with pain all my life. It's not an easy thing to put up with."

"Then can I ask you how you feel about whoever killed your mother ten years ago?" Fry said. Alesia's defences went down and her face sank.

"Wh... what?"

"What would you do if you came across those that murdered your mother? What if you found them injured and pleading for help? Would you help them, even after knowing what they did?"

Fry had hit a nerve. He knew, he was sorry, but he didn't regret it. He had a point to make, and it may have been nasty, but he wanted to see Alesia's reactions to the question he posed. After some thought and a few tears, she responded quietly with surprisingly little emotion in her voice at all.

"I... I don't know?"

"I lost one, almost two friends to these things!" Fry said. "I almost lost you too... and Leela... and Amy and Bender! We could have all died because of the cruel intentions and practices of these beasts!"

"Almost two?" Zoidberg interrupted. "So you managed to get a robot shell for Bender?"

"Yeah," Fry said, his expression brightening a little. Then he looked confused.

"I wonder where he is? He should be here?"

Fry disappeared and Alesia turned back to the monster she and Zoidberg were tending to. She wiped a tear away with her remaining sleeve, her face a mix between sadness and anger. She wasn't mad at what Fry had said. No, she was mad at herself. Mad and disappointed, because deep in her heart, there was an answer to Fry's question. An answer that scared and haunted her, for it went against the very principles that she had been so firm in practicing and preaching her whole life. And the worst thing of all was that even after that argument with him, she had no plans of changing it.

"Bender?! Bender?!" Fry called, stepping out of the main entrance. He heard a strange series of disgruntled curses from below him. There was Bender at the bottom of the steps, lying awkwardly on his back with his tracks in the air, turning around and not doing any more than fanning the air around him.

"Bender!"

Fry ran down the stairs and turned Bender back onto his tracks.

"Bender, what happened to you?"

"You idiot, Fry! You left me behind! I tried to climb these stupid steps, but I fell down and got stuck on my back!"

"Sorry," Fry said. "Here, I'll carry you."

He bent down and hoisted Bender into his arms awkwardly.

"Man, you're heavy!" he said. "Come on... the others are waiting on us."

When he got back, he saw the Seilarch now standing on its feet. It looked like Zoidberg and Alesia had finished. He was now wondering what the creature would do, and wished he had a gun, if only for reassurance. The Seilarch looked at the girl and lobster that had helped it. His eyes narrowed and he turned away. Without words, the tall creature slowly walked towards Fry. When it got to him, it leaned in close and hissed in the ginger-haired man's face.

"If it wasssssn't for your friendsssss... I'd gut you here right now!!"

Fry smiled back nervously and the creature continued on its way. Zoidberg pointed at the robot in Fry's arms.

"That's Bender?!" he chuckled. "Hohohohohoho! Oy, that's rich!!"

"Bite my shiny metal ass!!" Bender barked.

"Yeah right!" laughed Zoidberg. "Don't flatter yourself, dust buster."

"Dust buster?!!" Bender yelled. "Fry! Put me down so that I can kick his ass!!"

"I'm afraid you'd need legs to do that," Zoidberg smirked. "Also, you have to be able to actually reach my ass!"

Zoidberg held his stomach and burst into laughter. Bender growled.

"Grrrr! I'll run over your toes then!!"

"Oh, you'd have to catch me first," Zoidberg said snidely. "And I can run faster than two miles an hour, so I should be safe."

Zoidberg chortled again, making Bender even angrier. He wobbled around in Fry's arms, reaching out to Zoidberg as if trying to grab him.

"Whoa! Settle down, guys!" said Fry. "You can both hassle and kill each other when we get back to the ship. We've got a gem to find."

"Oh, he's just jealous because the foot's on the other claw now," Zoidberg noted. "Or should I say, the tracks are on the other claw?! Hohohohohoh...! Oh, Zoidberg, you're on FIRE today!!"

Fry just shook his head.

Alesia approached him and spoke: "Apparently the jewel is still here and the intruder nabbed a fake. It's supposed to be somewhere in the King's private chambers in a safe."

"Great!" Fry smiled. "Let's go get it then!"

It wasn't long before the group made their way to the King's chambers. It was up many flights of stairs but not hard to find, considering there was a golden plaque on the doors to it. They went inside, but they couldn't see any gem.

"He said it was in a safe somewhere," said Zoidberg.

"If I had my old body I could break into the safe!" Bender mumbled into his chassis.

"Man, there aren't even any paintings, posters, flags or banners in here to check behind!" Fry whined.

Alesia examined a strange carving in one corner of the room of a Seilarch. She got an idea and pulled down of one of its arms. Sure enough, the arm moved, and everybody whirled around, hearing a sound from the back wall. A panel had opened and behind it was a small door. Fry gasped.

"That must be it!"

He walked over and opened the door carefully, then reached inside and pulled something out.

"Have you got it?" Alesia asked.

Fry turned around with a strange look on his face. In his hand was what looked like a small, fluffy plush toy of a cartoonishly cute Seilarch in bright pink. The others were dumbfounded.

"I'm not even going to try and work out why this is in here!" Fry noted.

He threw it aside and they all kept looking.

"This is getting frustrating!" Fry moaned. "How do we even know that thing was telling the truth?"

Just then, Zoidberg stood up from examining the bottom of the statue, hitting his head on the carving's arm. It clicked back up, but then ascended further. Once again, a noise from the back wall made everybody turn. And again, a panel slid aside to reveal a little door.

"This time!" Fry said, walking over to it an opening it. He reached in and pulled something out. Looking at it he groaned again.

"Awwwww, man! he groaned. "It's just another freakin' toy!"

He showed everybody. It was exactly like the other one except this one was bright blue. He was about to throw it down when he felt something on it.

"Wait... it has a switch on the back of it!"

He flicked the switch....... nothing happened.

"Nothing!" he commented.

"Wait," Alesia said. She bent down and picked up the other one. As she suspected, it had a switch too. She flicked it.

CREAK!!

A panel, between the other two, slid up and revealed a safe in the wall. The wheel on the safe then turned by itself and opened up. There, in the centre of the safe, sat a large, glowing emerald on a shiny black cushion. Everybody in the room was captivated by the mystical, golden, jade aura around jewel. It glowed from the inside naturally, and it was stunning. It was real. And most importantly, it was theirs.


Meanwhile, billions of light-years away, it was early morning on the western hemisphere of the planet Thar. Two teenage creatures dressed in school uniforms walked through the calm suburban area of their town on their way to school. Both were male and carried backpacks. They had three eyes and no ears, but were otherwise rather humanoid in appearance. It was a calm, sunny morning and they were walking at a casual pace.

"Do your chemistry homework last night?" one asked the other.

"Naw," he smirked back. "I'll do it tonight."

"But it's due today," his friend said.

"What?!! Awww... man!"

"Yeah. Strike up another 'F' for you."

"Shut up!"

As they reached the end of another block, they were suddenly blocked by a young female member of their species who darted in front of them with a cheeky grin on her face. She also wore a school uniform, pretty much the same, but instead of long grey pants she had a short, maroon skirt.

"Hi guys!" she chirped. "Mind if I walk to school with you?!"

"Hi Mandy," they both said simultaneously in monotone. It was pretty clear that they were less than enthusiastic to see her.

"Did you guys both do your homework?" she asked cheerily as they began to walk again.

"I did. Greg didn't," one replied.

"Naughty, naughty, Greg!" she said, waving her finger back and forth obnoxiously in front of his face.

"I suspect he was... uh... 'studying' with Susan last night," smirked the other guy.

"Shut up, Jeff!" Greg said, nudging friend in the ribs.

"You're going out with Susan?!" Mandy said in surprise. "No offence, but she's a real bitch! I mean... she actually had the nerve to call me 'annoying' can you believe that?!"

The two males glanced at each other with a knowing look and rolled their eyes. It was at this moment when the earth below them shook roughly. After a few seconds it stopped, leaving the three students all looking at each other.

"What was that?!" Jeff asked.

A cool, and surprisingly strong, breeze suddenly blew past them.

"That's really weird!" Mandy commented. "It's like an earthquake or something?"

The ground shook again, even more so this time. And for longer. In fact, all three had problems keeping their balance.

"Okay, this is seriously freaking me out, man!" yelled Greg.

Another strong gust of wind blew past. Mandy screamed as her skirt was blown up and quickly pushed it back down. The two guys went red in the face.

"Perverts!" she accused. They just whistled innocently, stopping when the whole ground shook for a third time. This time, it just kept going though.

"What are we going to do?!!" Jeff yelled over the rumbling.

"Let's go run under that large tree in the park with all the pinecones on it for shelter!!" Greg yelled back.

"You're an idiot!!" Jeff responded. Mandy screamed and pointed into the distance. The two guys gulped as they saw what she was indicating. The mountains in the distance, just where the sun was rising from, were completely red. And just then, all the buildings could be seen becoming red also, and it was getting closer. They all screamed as it hit them, expecting to be dead upon impact. As they opened their eyes, they just saw everything in a red tint.

"What's going on?!!" Greg yelled.

"How would we know?!!" Jeff screamed back. "Quit asking such pointless..."

He trailed off as the red disappeared, ascending into the sky and turning it a light pinkish purple.

"I think it's aliens?!!" Greg said.

"Please!" Jeff scoffed loudly. "You think that those cream-filled cakes with the glowing green stuff inside are made by aliens!!"

Mandy screamed again. She was pointing again too. And, yes, towards the mountains again.

"Wha... what's th-th-that?!!" she screeched.

A dark shadow fell over the mountains and crept towards them. As it got closer, something massive on the horizon began to appear, slowly blocking the sun as it rose. The shadow whisked across them, dropping the temperature considerably and making what was an 8:30am morning seem like a 6:30pm night. The whole area rumbled around them, and the wind grew stronger. It blew Mandy's skirt around a few times, but she didn't care, and nor did the guys. Their gazes were transfixed on the massive object rising from the horizon into the sky. Their hearts were pounding, their throats were dry. They were like zombies, just staring into the distance as if their very souls had been ripped out of them. And just when they thought it couldn't get any scarier, their eyes bulged in dreaded awe as the mouth of the beast could be seen. It burned inside with the red-hot glow that rivalled a sun. It was like starting into a burning smelting furnace, only this furnace was several miles in diamete! r. And the roar it made was incredible. The three students had never heard such a sound before, it hurt the holes in the side of their heads that they listened through. Jeff was the first one to snap out of his state of wonderment and speak.

"YOU DON'T THINK THAT THING IS GOING TO EAT THE ENTIRE PLANET DO YOU?!!"

The others didn't respond. They didn't have time as they watched the monster object's mouth point downwards and shoot a thick purple beam down towards the surface. It hit the ground somewhere between the mountains and the furthest building they could see, creating a massive pinkish red cloud that burst up into the sky.

"HOLY CRAP!!!" Greg exclaimed as he watched the blast. As the cloud bellowed upwards, they could make out several streams of reddish cloud bursting away from the impact area and sailing in random directions across the sky. At first they wondered what it was, but soon found out, as two of them came towards them. All three jaws dropped as a colossal chunk of spinning earth roared about a mile overhead, leaving behind a thick tail of red cloud. They turned and watched it tumble into the distance, all nine eyes collectively almost popping out of their sockets. All three swiftly spin around as they hear a crash, being shocked to another level as they saw a massive piece of earth the size of a cruise ship crash into a house in the distance.

"RUN!!!" yelled Jeff.

They took off, sprinting awkwardly across the shaking ground. Several more randomly sized fragments of land smashed behind and around them. All three screamed as a shadow loomed over them. The last thing each of them saw was a ball of dirt the size of a large house hurtling towards them.


"We're back!" called Fry, running up the stairs. "We got the gem!!"

He put Bender on the ground as Zoidberg and Alesia entered the cockpit too. They all ripped off the curcuit boards stuck to their heads and chucked them on the table. Amy arrived, covered in grease and looking exhausted.

"You're just in time," she said wearily. "The engine should be ready in less than half an hour, all going well."

Her eyelids flexed quickly as she looked at the robot sitting on the ground. A slight smile came to her face.

"It that Bender?!" she uttered, almost bursting into laugher midway through the question.

"Yeah," smiled Fry. Amy giggled quaintly.

"Oh, yeah! That's right!" Bender huffed. "Let's all just hassle Bender!! It's Fry's stupid fault! He gave me this lousy body!!"

Amy managed to suppress the chuckles.

"Awwww... I think it's kind of cute," she said sweetly.

"Ah! Just get back to fixing the ship!!"

Fry sat down with a satisfied sigh, then turned to Alesia. She looked tired and bedraggled. Her face was dirty, her clothes torn and smeared with dirt and blood, both human and Seilarch. She gave Fry a weak smile. He returned one.

"There's a shower just through there," he told her, jerking his head in the direction of the left door at the back of the cockpit. "You should clean yourself up and change into the clean clothes you retrieved earlier."

"Thanks," she smiled. "I think I will."

"There's some towels in the closet beside the shower. Just snatch some shampoo from Leela's room, I'm sure she won't mind."

Alesia made an unsure sound in her throat as she made her way to the door. She somehow sensed that if Leela was still here, she wouldn't have been as kind as Fry.

"Thank you. I will."

She disappeared and Fry sniffed his shirt, recoiling instantly.

"Blecch! I should really change my clothes too!"

"Yes. And take a shower too of course?" Zoidberg added.

"Uh... yeah..." Fry said, his eyes darting back and forth in rapid flashes. "A shower too..."

"So what exactly are we going to do now?" Bender asked.

"Well, first of all, we'll get yours and Scruffy's body back."

"Ah," Bender nodded. Fry had mentioned Scruffy's death on the way to the palace earlier.

"Then, we'll go and search for Leela," he concluded.

He sighed laboriously.

"If only we had some kind of clue as to where she was!"

He stood up with a groan.

"I need a drink," he announced. "I'm going to grab a Slurm."

"Ooh, grab me a beer while you're at it!" Bender requested.

"Uh-uh! Gubbins said that you can't intake beer in that body."

Bender growled in annoyance.

"Why do you always forget important things like wearing pants when you drop off packages to foreign dignitaries and flushing the toilet after you use it, but you never forget tiny, useless details like that?!"

Fry shrugged and left the room. He was about to head to the kitchen when he heard the most beautiful song coming from the bathroom. He didn't understand the words being sung, but the voice was enchanting and melodic. It was just what he needed to calm him down after the last few days of horror. He never knew Alesia had such a sweet singing voice. It was so nice, he didn't even return to the cockpit for a good five minutes.

"What took you so long?!" Bender asked impatiently as Fry ambled in with six cans of Slurm.

"I was just listening to Alesia singing," he said, cracking open a can of drink. He gulped down the cool, green liquid. It was smooth and refreshing and gone within seconds.

"What's the deal with you and that girl anyway?" Bender asked. "I thought you liked Leela and ended things with her?"

Fry just stared at Bender for a while.

"Man, it's so hard to take you seriously in that body, Bender," he said before opening another can.

"The robot's right though," said Zoidberg, saying the word 'robot' like he was making a frog noise. "After all... you only mate once."

"Actually humans can mate lots of times," Fry responded between mouthfuls of Slurm.

"But seriously, Fry," Bender said. "What's going on?"

Fry lowered the can and sighed.

"It's complicated. The truth is, I like them both a lot."

"But you can't jerk them both around," said a feminine voice from behind them. Amy had returned from the engine room. She sat down beside Fry. "Trust me, us women don't like that."

"I know!" Fry groaned. "But who do I choose: the woman I have loved for as long as my feeble brain can remember..... or Leela?!"

"I can't help you with that," Amy said. "But I can tell you that the engines are repaired and we're ready to go."

Everybody cheered. Fry finished off another can of drink.

"Man, all this drinking is making me thirsty!"

He tossed the can aside and immediately opened another.

"So this is the jewel, huh?" said Amy, picking up the emerald that sat on the table. "It's beautiful!"

"That's it alright," Fry nodded. "Now we just have to find the other two and get back the one that was taken from us."

 

Meanwhile, from outside, a rough looking man hid beneath the landing gear and listened. He had a rough beard and carried a sword. He turned to somebody behind him.

"Should we attack 'em now?" he asked.

"No!" said a strong female voice. "We'll let them go. I've heard enough about these gems anyway."

"But... Captain Peck--"

"I said that's enough, Lieutenant! We'll deal with these fools later. There are far MORE important matters to deal with at the moment. Such as attacking our enemies, the Seilarch, when they are at their weakest."

"As you command, Captain," bowed the pirate lieutenant.

"Don't get me wrong," Peck's voice uttered. "These mysterious gems interest me a great deal. But opportunities like this are rare, and we must use them to their full effect. The gems can wait... the destruction of the Seilarch can not."

 

Back inside the ship, Alesia stepped into the cockpit again. Fry's heart skipped a beat.

"Wow! You look beautiful!" he remarked.

Alesia blushed. Her skin was now clean, her long hair neat and silky, and she wore a brand new, long white dress. It reminded Fry of when he first met her.

"You're just saying that," she said coyly.

"No, seriously! You have this radiant aura about you... like a princess from a far off land... or something!"

"You always were so sweet," she smiled before leaning in and giving Fry a light kiss on the lips. Now it was Fry's turn to blush.

Bender just rolled his eyes. "Give me a break!" he muttered.

Fry struggled to move his focus from Alesia's captivating eyes and glanced over his shoulder at Amy.

"We might as well head away now," she said. "All engines go! Full speed ahead!"

"Aye aye, Captain Fry," Amy said with a cheery salute. She switched on the engines and they burst into life. Everybody aboard cheered.

"To the Corpse Lab!" Fry ordered.

As the ship rose into the air, brushing past the vegetation, Amy spoke.

"Uh... do we even know where it is?!"

"Yeah," said Fry, taking a seat. "I passed on the way to Gubbins. It's quite close to the building we slid down."

"We'll be there in no time then," Amy smiled.

The Planet Express ship blasted out of the treetops and zoomed between buildings and causeways into the sky.

Fry leant forward and pointed it out. "There she is," he said. "Set the ship above the roof, Amy. Zoidberg, help me with the grapple-gun in the cargo bay."

The two disappeared and Amy did as she was told. As the underside hatch opened on the ship, Fry and Zoidberg hooked the edge of the roof.

"Pull it off, Amy!" Fry yelled.

Amy carefully steered the ship so as to peel the roof off like a box lid. As she held it there, Zoidberg lowered Fry down on the crate magnet. Fry searched around the various covered bodies. He quickly found Bender's and Scruffy's lying on metal stretcher carts. Luckily the stretcher handlebars were higher than the corpses lying on them, which means in theory, Fry's plan would work. He wheeled them both under the magnet, climbed atop it, then instructed Zoidberg to switch it on. The stretchers, and Bender's torso, clanged to the underneath of the magnet, and within moments Fry and the bodies were inside the ship.

"We got 'em!" Fry yelled in triumph as he ran into the cockpit. "Now let's get off this stinking planet! Head over the ocean, there's less guns there."

"Yes, sir!" Amy grinned. She was happy that they were finally leaving that place. Dropping the roof back down, the ship's nose pointed towards the ocean and blasted off. As soon as the city was out of sight, Amy pulled it up into the clouds and in moments all they saw was stars.

"Where to now, Captain?" she asked, swivelling on her seat.

Fry's look of accomplishment vanished.

"I have no idea!" he said. "If only we had some idea of what those things were that took Leela?!"

He sighed.

"If the global info console and screen hadn't been damaged, we could search for something... but we've got nothing."

Nobody noticed the look on Alesia face as she thought to herself. Nobody knew she was being conflicted inside. She didn't know whether to tell them what she knew or not. Why should she help them find somebody who hadn't only been nothing but bitter and resentful to her since she met her, but was also her rival as far as Fry's affections went as well? She looked at Fry's look of despair, and her conscience won the internal struggle.

"I... I know what they are," she said simply. Everybody turned to her.

"Huh?" Fry said.

"The creatures that took Leela," she said. "I know what they are."

Fry's face brightened.

"You do?!"

She just nodded.

"Well what are they, already?" Zoidberg asked.

"They're called Delphinians," she stated matter-of-factly.

"What... so they're some kind of flower?" Fry asked.

She shook her head.

"No, just large aliens that deal in slave labour. I know because I've seen them in the Vangar System before. They come from a planet called Delphine. That's probably where they took Leela."

"Do you know the coordinates?" Fry questioned.

"Show me a star map and I'll show you them."

Amy did, and Alesia pointed out a planet two galaxies away.

"This is awesome!" Fry said. "Don't worry, Leela. We're coming to get you! Amy, set course for the planet Delphine! Now I'm going to try and get this stupid 'H' off my forehead!"

He shot Alesia a smile as he left, which she returned. Deep down though, she was regretting the decision already.

Buddies