Futurama: Universe of Malice, Part 16
By Kenneth White
Chapter 16 - Eonian Enemy
Leela took a long drink from her cup. The cool, refreshing liquid was soothing to her dry throat as she gulped it down. She sighed with satisfaction, lowering the container from her lips, but soon took on a look of annoyance and impatience, directed at the man in black that stood before her.
"Okay," she stated simply. "I want to know what's going on, right now! What is the deal with this 'Haruska' that everybody keeps talking about?!"
Grand Elder Willow snorted with contempt.
"Don't you feign ignorance, cyclops! You know exactly what you are."
Leela was getting annoyed.
"Look... all I know is that I've been shot, brought here, been forced to mine rock, shot at some more, seen somebody die right in front of me horribly, been shot at yet again, nearly crushed with a boulder, been attacked by a water beast, almost killed by a giant cat-bear thing, and nearly fell off a cliff onto some jagged rocks! I don't need any more nasty surprises, okay?!!"
The Grand Elder's expression softened somewhat, and he seemed to study Leela's face intently. He made a noise of thought and rubbed his chin.
"For some reason... I suspect you are telling the truth," he stated. "Are you honestly telling us, you don't know what Haruska is?"
"Yes, damn it!" Leela snapped with impatience. "I keep hearing that word, but have no idea what it means?"
"Yes, Grand Elder Willow," entreated Newton. "Please, tell us what it is."
Willow made another noise in his throat. Newton's mother interjected with serious concern.
"Why don't the rest of us know about this if it is so important and dangerous to us? I thought the people here were told all?"
"There are some things that we didn't really think would matter. But then again... we never expected the cyclops to ever really show up..."
He trailed off and looked at Leela. Her eye was full of questions, and he could see this.
"It would probably best if I showed you what Haruska is," he stated. "But now is not the right time."
"Why not?" Leela queried. Her tone displayed vexation.
"For one thing, you need to rest up," Willow stated simply. "And more importantly, we cannot go to the place to be shown until it is safe. We will wait until the second phase."
"Second phase?" Leela asked.
"Yes," nodded Willow. "You see, there is no darkness or night on this planet. The Delphinians sleep during the slightly dimmer time of the day, which will arrive in about two hours time. That is when the temple will be safe."
"Temple?" Leela asked.
"Yes, the Delphinians have a special temple, but I will say no more. You will have to wait for now."
Leela groaned. The Grand Elder turned towards the door.
"I must go now," he said. "I must make sure there is no evidence of your presence."
Then, he simply left. Newton's mother stood up.
"I'll go get those clothes for you now," she smiled.
"Thank you," Leela smiled as she walked away. Newton took a seat beside her again and she gave him a smile.
"So, what is your name?" he asked her. "And what planet are you from?"
"I'm called Leela, and I'm from Earth," Leela responded. "You're from Amphibios
9, aren't you?"
"Yes," Newton nodded. "How did you know?"
"Oh, my friend Amy's boyfriend is from there."
"Grand Elder Willow was from Earth too originally," Newton told her. "But he lived in another galaxy when he was captured and brought here."
"How long has he been here?" Leela queried before taking another drink.
Newton shrugged. "I don't know. He's been here for a long time. I've only been
here just over a two months."
"I'm sorry," Leela said.
"It's not too bad. A bit dangerous, but pretty safe in here."
"How can you live in here without being caught?"
"It's an abandoned mine. Apparently the Delphinians abandoned it when it became too unstable to mine any more. But it's safe to just live in."
"I see..." Leela said sceptically.
"How did you escape from the Delphinians?" Newton asked.
"By mine cart," Leela answered.
Newton nodded and pointed up. "The tracks run right above us... and those stupid
Delphinians have no idea where we are."
"Don't they search for slaves when they escape?"
"Not really," Newton said, shaking his head.
"But they're apparently interested in you," said his mother's voice from the entrance. She walked in, holding something black in her arms. She placed it on Leela's lap.
"Here you go. It should keep you warm."
"Thank you," Leela said, picking it up. It was a soft and slightly furry shirt. A basic design of clothing with neck and torso holes, and two arms holes at either side, the object was made of the hide of the huge cat-like beast that had almost killed her earlier.
"It'll be a while before you can take off those bandages and move around though," the green woman said simply. "You've got quite a few days of healing time ahead of you."
"But I need to go to the temple tonight," Leela stated firmly.
"I'll tell Elder Willow you need your rest. He'll understand."
"No!" Leela declared. "I need to find out what Haruska is!"
The cyclops put down her cup and attempted to pull on the shirt, but her back resisted with a wave of pain.
Leela froze there, sitting up with the shirt sitting on her head. After a while,
she removed it and put it back on her lap. Her faced showed embarrassed disappointment.
Newton's mother shook her head making a 'tut-tut' noise with her tongue. "See,
you can't even put on a shirt, let alone go out to some temple."
"I wish Zoidberg was here!" she huffed. "He could have me fixed in no time."
"Who's Zoidberg?" Newton asked.
"The staff doctor from the delivery company I work for."
"Sorry, but our medical capabilities are slim at best," noted Newton's mother. "We don't even have any doctors amongst us."
"How many of you are there?" Leela questioned. "Mrs... uh...?"
"Call me Sala," she replied. "There's only seventeen of us that have managed to escape. We're governed by Grand Elder Willow, who was the first to escape. There are another two elders and the rest of us are random escapees."
"It must be hard for you? Food and water must be hard to come by?"
"There's luckily a pool of water inside these caves, but we need to hunt for food. The beast the Delphinians call the 'Umprar' provides us with our food and clothing."
"I see. I have some friends that may or may not be held captive in the mines... I'm not sure. Is there any way of finding out?"
Sala shook her head.
"Sorry, but we don't go back there."
"Don't go back? I though you were supposed to be resisting the Delphinians and help free the slaves?"
"Then how can you if you don't go back?"
"By watching the area and helping any escapees. That's how we helped you."
Leela just stared for a moment, flabbergasted.
"Wait a minute... How can you help free slaves if you're not actually doing anything? Why don't you go and try and kick their butts now an then or something?"
"Grand Elder Willow doesn't believe violence or force is the answer. He strives for peace."
"What?!! That's stupid! If you want to actually make a difference, you need to do more than just bring in those that managed to escape! No wonder why this group of yours is considered a myth to most of the people in there... You don't do anything!"
"Look, if you want to question our methods, do so to the Grand Elder. He's the one who decides them, not me."
"You're right. I'm sorry. But I will have a talk to him when he returns about this. You people need to take action if you really want your freedom."
Leela yawned loudly. She was feeling sleepy.
"Boy, I'm feeling a bit tired," she said. "I should probably get some sleep
before your Grand Elder returns."
Sala smiled and spoke to Newton, "Come on, Newton. Let's let her get some rest."
Newton followed his mother out and Leela slid down under the covers some more, slowly as the friction and pressure hurt her back. She turned onto her side, it being far more comfortable, and closed her eye. She just hoped that her friends were okay. Wherever they were.
"There it is," Amy announced proudly. "The planet Delphine."
Fry stood up and walked over beside her, looking out at the large grey sphere below.
"Man, it looks just like one large ball of rock!" Fry exclaimed.
"That's because it pretty much is," Alesia noted. "Little surface water, even less vegetation and lots and lots of stone and rock."
"That's not important," said Fry. "Amy, land the ship."
"Uh... where?" she asked.
"On the surface," said Fry fragrantly.
"Yes, but where on the surface?"
"Preferably where Leela is," Fry suggested.
"Buh!" Amy exclaimed. "And how would I know that?!"
"I dunno!" Fry said impatiently. "Doesn't this ship have some sort of auto-Leela-finder thing?!"
"Damn! Then how will we know where she is? It could take months to search for her on that rock!"
"Does this ship have a life form scanner?" Alesia asked Amy.
"Well... yeah. But it has limited range. This isn't a battle cruiser like the DOOP ships or anything. We need to search quadrant by quadrant, and that takes almost an hour each one. Besides, how could we know who was Leela, and who was somebody else?"
"Can't it be defined and limited to certain species?" Alesia queried.
"Yeah, that could work!" Amy said excitedly.
Fry smiled at Alesia. "Man, you sound like you've got more ideas than idea-storage-space!"
"Leela should be the only mutant humanoid down there," Amy said. "But it could still take hours even then."
"Well, hurry it up then," ordered Fry. "The sooner we get started, the sooner we can find her."
Amy pressed and pulled various buttons and levers.
"There," she said, standing up. "The ship is scanning now. We've probably got a few more hours to kill now, so what should we do?"
Fry shrugged, but felt a tug on his pants. He looked down to see Bender at his feet.
"Fry! Amy!" he said urgently. "I've had enough of this stupid body! Please, put me back where I belong?!!"
"How? Your body is basically dead, isn't it?" Fry asked.
"If Amy can fix it, and you can find me a new laser-core compatible with a bending unit, then I'll be fine."
Fry looked at Amy.
"Can you fix him?" he asked her.
"I can try," Amy said nervously. "I can't guarantee anything, but... I'll give it a shot."
"Thank you, cute girl from Mars!" Bender said in adoration.
"Well, let's go then," Fry said. "Do you want to come, Alesia?"
"No thanks," she said. "I think I'll just stay here."
Fry nodded and followed the other two out of the room. Alesia stared out of the window at the planet being scanned below. The only sound was the ship's engines and Zoidberg's snoring, as the lobster slept on the floor noisily.
Amy pulled the sheet away from Bender's body. Fry shuddered at the sight of the black, lifeless metal corpse.
"What's the matter, meatbag?" Bender asked him.
"I-It just brings back bad memories from the tournament," Fry sighed, his voice clearly distressed. "After you went offline, I thought I had l-lost you forever..."
A small tear ran down Fry's cheek.
Bender looked up at him with a sad gaze. "You mean... you cared about me that
much?" he asked Fry.
Fry simply nodded down at his robot friend sadly.
Bender regarded his woeful expression for a while.
"AAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!" the little robot cackled. "You big wuss, Fry! Hahahaha!
Man... You fleshwads and your emotions crack me up!!"
Amy opened up the chest cavity door on the body carefully. Bender suddenly became excited.
"Oooh! Amy! See what actually survived the attack! I want to salvage as much of my stuff as I can."
"Okay," Amy said. She peered in, then reached inside the opening carefully.
"Anything?" Bender asked.
"Yeah, your camera looks fine," she responded, taking out the purple object and placing it on the table. "As well as this key..."
She looked at the tag on the key. It said 'Calculon's House' on it. She put it on the table nearby with the camera.
"What else... a wrench... This pur-- Hey!! This is my purse!"
"Hehehe... sorry!" Bender chuckled.
Amy placed the wrench down and put her purse in her pocket, then continued
to search. She pulled out something else.
"Ah, that's the portable stereo I stole from some chump a fortnight ago," Bender said. "Looks like it held up okay."
"Yeah," Amy nodded before looking into Bender again. Fry examined the small CD player and chuckled.
"Looks just like the one that disappeared from my flat two weeks ago," he said. "It even has a crack in the clear plastic bit on the disc lid."
"We have three robot music CD's here," Amy said, taking them out and reading them out as she flipped through them. "Johnny Cash-Register, CAT-5 Stevens, and Gloria Exhaust-fan... the rest looks pretty beat up."
"Man, I'm surprised even those things held up!" Fry said with shock. "And what's the wrench for?"
"I need it to tighten my nuts now an then," Bender explained simply. Fry snorted and broke into laughter. Bender just rolled his eyes.
"Oh, real mature, Fry!" he said sarcastically.
"Spluh!" Amy exclaimed, looking more closely with a small flashlight. "This isn't going to be easy! I wouldn't know where to begin!"
"Awww... man!" Bender groaned.
"Sorry," she shrugged. "But you're a complicated piece of machinery, and there's no manual for you."
"Could we search for one using the computer?" Fry asked.
"Well, the monitor is basically fixed, but we still need a glass screen before we can use it."
"Hey, I wonder if any of the windows on the ship would fit it?" Fry suggested.
"Well... I personally have no problem with that," said Bender. "But... uh... don't you guys need oxygen and stuff? In other words... Fry, you're an idiot!"
"Well, it looks like we won't be able to fix either you or the screen for a while yet then," Amy said.
"Well... I might as well go and prod Zoidberg for a while until we've found
Leela," Bender said, turning around and heading for the door.
Fry was about to follow him when he felt a hand of his shoulder. He turned
"Uh... Fry," said Amy. "Could I talk to you for a second?"
"Sure," shrugged Fry. "Why?"
"Well... it's about Alesia. Are you totally sure we can trust her? I mean... she said herself that she didn't want us to find Leela initially. How do we know she didn't lead us on a wild goose chase?"
"I believe her," Fry stated. "She was just jealous, that's all. But she understands now and is trying to be helpful, even though she probably doesn't want to. Like that time I took my ex-girlfriend Michelle to see a movie about giant spiders. She was scared of insects, but still pretended to like the film, even though she really didn't. Although she screamed a lot, and spilled her soda on my lap, and my pants got all sticky. But she didn't leave! She stayed there with me. Of course, that may have also been because she had sat on some chewing gum, and was too embarrassed to leave. We had to wait an extra ten minutes after the movie had finished so that nobody could see the gum stuck to her butt. But this is exactly like that."
"What, so you're saying Alesia is helpful because she's got gum stuck to her butt?" Amy said, scratching her head.
"Yeah," Fry smiled. "Wait... no... What I mean is, Alesia's afraid of spiders, so she'll..."
Fry trailed off and scratched his head too.
"Uh... what were we talking about again?"
Unknown to them both, Alesia was about to enter the room to see what was going on. However, she hesitated when she heard what Amy said next, staying out of sight just to the side of the entranceway.
"I was wondering if you think Alesia is trustworthy?" Amy explained.
"Oh! Yeah... yeah, I trust her. I don't think she'd do anything that'd risk her losing me again."
Alesia smiled to herself. Then, she continued to listen, leaning against the wall.
"Do you mind if I axe you what it is you see in her?" Amy queried honestly.
"Huh?" Fry said.
"Oh, don't get me wrong!" Amy said quickly. "She seems really nice and all, and I suppose she's... fairly cute, but... what is it that drew her to you? I mean, you've almost avoided interest in anybody who wasn't Leela for the past three years, as if it was Leela or nobody for you, and now suddenly this! I'm just curious."
Fry sighed with a huge smile.
"I don't really know. I mean, a lot of the time I'm only interested in girls purely because of their looks, but... there's something more here. She's not just pretty, she seems so... I dunno... kind, sweet and gentle. She's like this mystical princess from another dimension or something. And she's so fragile too. It's like she really depends on me to be there for her and care, which is really cute. And she accepts me for who I am, and looks past my stupidity, dumbness and sub-par intelligence"
Alesia blushed outside.
"Awwwwwww..." Amy said with a cute grin. "That's soooo sweet!"
"She's not like Leela at all, is she?" she noted.
"Yeah," Fry chuckled. Then his face suddenly looked shocked.
"Oh my God!" he exclaimed. "That's it!"
"Huh?" asked Amy.
"Don't you see?" he said. "That's why I like Alesia so much.... because she's not like Leela! Or rather, she has the things I want Leela to be more of! I want Leela to be gentler. I want Leela to be more fragile and depend on me. And I want Leela to accept me for what I am."
Fry buried his face in his hands.
"It's like she's the missing link to my perfect Leela or something?!" he said.
"But if Leela was all those things... she wouldn't be Leela," Amy said.
"But she can be," said Fry. "Leela can be gentle, fragile, dependent and accepting with regards to me. There's just one thing getting in the way..."
"What?" Amy asked.
"Leela doesn't love me," Fry sighed. "Or at least not in the way or to the extent that I love her."
Fry groaned, pulling on his hair a bit.
"It's so hard! I love Leela. I mean I really, really love Leela! But she's been pushing me away all this time, and now I'm actually in a position where I can be with somebody who has all the missing attributes I want to see in her... but it's not her, it's somebody else!"
He looked up at Amy. She looked concerned for him.
Outside the room, Alesia's heartbeat had quickened.
"Oh, Amy!" he sighed. "What can I do?! I don't want to leave Leela... but... how much longer can I put up with being pushed aside by her? And... can I really let this opportunity pass me by?"
There was an awkward silence for a while. Amy broke it.
"I can't make that decision for you, Fry. That's up to you."
She stood up.
"I'm going to get some sleep," she said, changing to a more cheery tone. "Wake me up if the scanner finds anything, okay?"
Alesia jumped a little. She decided that it was probably good to leave now, and made her way quickly into the nearest doorway, which happened to be the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
"Yeah," Fry responded to Amy's question in a heavy sigh. "I will."
Amy left the room, closing the door and leaving Fry alone. It suited him fine, as he wanted some time to think by himself for a while.
Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Alesia looked at her reflection in the mirror. She couldn't believe what she had heard. She didn't know that Leela hadn't totally reciprocated feelings back to Fry. Fry loved Leela, but Leela didn't totally love him back. In fact, she had turned away Fry's advances. Something in her told her that this was something she could use to her advantage. But something else told her that she couldn't risk losing Fry again in the process. As long as she took the advice Fry gave her, she should be fine.
"Taking Leela away from me isn't the answer. You have to prove your love of me... not your hate of her," she whispered to her mirrored image, repeating Fry's words exactly.
And that's what she needed to do. She needed to prove that she could give him the love that Leela hadn't shown him. Her key wasn't getting rid of the competition... it was simply beating it.
Lieutenant Commander Kif Kroker stepped onto the dusty surface of the dark
planet, right behind Bill Raker and Captain Ditte. Before them stood a massive
metal structure, tall, wide and strong looking. Only the pale light from the stars
and close moon in the sky lighted the rusty coloured structure. The area seemed
quite secluded for the building, sitting in the middle of some large dirt plains
that stretched for miles. The most unique thing was that the whole place seemed
to sing with strange, eerie sounds. Atmospheric hums, hisses and chimes that echoed
around them with no visible source. They were kind of spooky, but melodic and
beautiful at the same time, sometimes feeling like the sky was hissing, the ground
was rumbling, or giant insects were calling each other. Kif was also awed by the
two titanic red crystals that pointed into the sky on either side of the structure.
He had never seen precious stones as large as that. Lieutenant Fitzgerald hopped
out behind him, holding a huge gun as usual.
"Man, this place is barren!" he said gruffly. "Why'd they put the mining facility here?"
"I did some research on the way here," said Raker simply. "This is good neutral ground. Nothing around, the place has been mined out completely, and it's out in the open, meaning no chance of sneak attacks against it."
He looked skyward at the top of the structure.
"It's basically a fortress anyway. Good luck robbing this place!"
"Let's go, men!" Captain Ditte ordered. "Lord Suikkanen is expecting us."
The Captain ascended the staircase towards the large, thick double doors. They looked bronze and had elegant carving on them. Raker, Kif, Fitzgerald and Ensign McGinley followed him. When they made it to the top, Ditte clanged it with the giant doorknocker three times. A small door opened within the door and out poked a robotic eye on a flexible metallic stalk. It regarded them all, then a robotic voice spoke.
"Who are you?"
"I am Captain Ditte of the DOOP ship, The Nimbus. We are here to talk with Lord Suikkanen."
"Of course," the voice replied. "Please enter."
The eye retracted and small door closed with a sharp click. Then, the two large doors slowly creaked open, swinging into the building. As they did, a strange robot walked over to them. It had thin arms and legs, but no head. Instead, it had the same stalk-eye that had looked at them earlier.
"Right this way," it said, a panel on its body lighting up as it spoke. It turned and walked through the dark main area towards some more doors at the back. The DOOP officers followed.
"This place is amazing!" Kif said, looking around.
There were many exits to other places and strange aliens around. Some had mining equipment such as drills and explosives, others had gems of varying sizes or were just wandering around. Kif watched a transaction under way as he passed by.
"How about this gem?" a tall, lanky K'Targ said from behind a nearby desk to his customer, a large, golden coloured robot that resembled half lazy Roman, and half couch. The K'Targ held a green jewel between his pink fingers.
"A green gem!" Hedonism Bot said in shock. "How repulsively absurd! My dear fellow, I suspect only a precious stone the tint of ripened grapes would be worthy of the honour of being mounted onto my backrest!"
"A purple gem?" the K'Targ said flatly.
"Don't sound so droll!" Hedonism Bot quipped with a chuckle before dropping
a bunch of grapes into his open mouth. "Purple is the majestic colour of royalty
and refinement! Now how would you like to be paid? Cash, credits or quatloos?"
He turned to a shirtless, dark-skinned man beside him.
"Jombie! Fetch my wallet with most haste!"
The man silently rolled his eyes and lifted the bowl of grapes on his master's stomach, picked up the leather object they were sitting on, and put it in one of Hedonism Bot's hands.
The doors ahead of the DOOP slid aside as the robot approached them, and they wandered into the room they were led to. Then, the doors closed again behind them, and the robot took its place just to them left of them, standing like a guard.
"Welcome, members of the DOOP!" a cheerful voice said. It belonged to Lord Suikkanen, who sat behind a large wooden desk in a large room filled with books and jewels behind glass cases. "How can I help you?"
"We need some information on a jewel recently stolen from you by a creature called Outlaw."
"Outlaw?" Suikkanen repeated. "Was he a mask wearing creature with a cloak?"
"That's him," Raker said from behind Ditte.
"We shall discuss that soon, but I'd like you to come with me now. You've arrived at just the right time..."
He stood up and pressed a button on his desk. One of the bookcases slid aside to reveal a hollow chamber in the wall. In this chamber was what looked like a glowing cloud of pinkish energy, swirling in one spot.
"What's that?" asked Captain Ditte sceptically.
"A special transportation device," Suikkanen smiled. "It leads to my other office located about two-hundred miles away to the east. The sun will be rising there soon, and is quite a sight, so I'd like you all to appreciate the beauty of our planet before we get down to business."
The officers all looked at each other. Ditte shrugged.
"Alright then. Let's go, men."
"Excellent!" Suikkanen said. "Follow me!"
He stepped into it and disappeared. Ditte, Raker, Kif, Fitzgerald and McGinley followed suit. On the other side of the transportation, they found themselves in an almost identical office.
"This place looks the same," noted Fitzgerald flatly.
"Well, I did try to design them the same. This is my private office, for when I want to get away from the bustle of the mining facility. The main difference is this..."
He pulled some curtains aside to reveal a large window and porch. The windows
slid aside and he walked out onto the veranda. The DOOP followed, and looked upon
the sight. It was dark, but still very nice. There was a large grassy plain stretching
out before and below them, and a forest of trees on either side. A babbling stream
flowed directly below them too, and hills could be seen in the distant horizon,
with a faint orange glow around their tops. The most impressive thing though,
was the very large, spear-like crystal structures that were sprouting out of the
ground at random locations, in the field, out of the trees and in the distance.
Kif whistled in awe. "This place is very beautiful, Lord Suikkanen!" he said.
"Thank you," he chuckled in response. "But you haven't seen anything yet! Because... here comes the sun!"
The K'Targ pointed towards the glow in the distance, and all eyes gazed there. The glow became more and more intense, as the bright haze on the horizon slowly became a sphere. Then, in a quick wave, the whole area was lit up, and jaws on everybody dropped as the crystals before them sparkled and reflected different colours across the area. The meadow, encrusted with small pink flowers that were obscured in the darkness earlier, was a vast area of beauty, as the semi-transparent structures beamed rainbows across it.
"Stunning!" Raker exclaimed. "Absolutely stunning!"
"Isn't it though?" Suikkanen smiled proudly, almost as if he had actually created the spectacle himself. "I never get tired of seeing it."
"I can see why!" Kif said. He wished Amy were here to see this with him. Perhaps one day he could bring her here.
"Well, we could stay here for hours I'm sure, but that won't get anything done," Ditte said.
"Yes, too true," smiled the K'Targ. "Let's go back into the office, shall we?"
He wandered in and sat at his desk. The others followed, standing before him just like they had in his other office.
"Now... about this Outlaw fellow... what do you want to know?"
"We need to know where you found this jewel," Raker said. He placed
the ruby on the table.
Suikkanen smiled with glee, reaching out for it. "Good heavens! You've found
my stolen gem!"
Captain Ditte grabbed the gem away, causing the large K'Targ's expression to turn into an annoyed pout.
"Sorry, sir... but it's our gem now. This jewel has been commandeered by the DOOP for reasons we can't disclose."
A sly smile came across Suikkanen's face.
"I know why," he said with a snigger. "You need it to stop that planet eating menace, don't you?"
All the DOOP members were taken aback, especially Raker. After exchanging some concerned glances, Kif was the next officer to speak.
"How did you know?!" he asked. Suikkanen chuckled, standing up from the desk.
"Regarding the gems... as a gem enthusiast, it would be hardly appropriate if I didn't know about the legendary Jewels of Power! As for the beast... well... news does travel, you know..."
He picked out a book from one of the bookcases nearby and began wandering back to the table.
"I suspected that it may have been one of them from the start, but I wasn't quite sure... at least not until a few minutes ago..."
He placed the book on the table, sat down and began flipping through it.
"When we came in, you mean?" Raker asked.
"Oh, no... a few minutes before you arrived," Suikkanen smiled, glancing up for a second before returning to scanning the pages.
"Before we arrived?" Kif asked, his face showing confusion.
"Yes... It may surprise you to know that another came here searching for it too... shortly after you landed on the surface. He was quite the insisting fellow."
He stopped turning pages and smiled.
"Yes... here we are!" he said.
"Who was this other person?" Ditte asked forcefully, not really caring about the book's contents. "Tell us!"
"I'm sorry, I didn't get a good look at him. It was dark and he snuck inside, hiding in the shadows. He had a very... uh... cold voice, if you get what I mean. Sent shivers down my spine!"
"What did you tell him?" Raker interjected.
"That he should go to the place where most criminals go in the universe if he wants to find who took it," Suikkanen smiled. "But now, here you all are with it!"
"Great!" said Ditte bitterly. "We've got somebody else after these things!"
"What does the book say about the legend?" Raker asked Lord Suikkanen politely.
"Not much is known," he replied. "Just a war between some race of creatures and some horrible, invincible robots. The four gems were mounted in a special staff made of the same indestructible material, but when used, the bearer wasn't strong enough to wield it, and it destroyed their race. That's about it really."
"Do you know where we may be able to find any more of these things?" Raker queried. Suikkanen smiled.
"Ahhh... now that's something I didn't tell the shadowy fellow," he said. "Research indicates that there exists a special and valuable crystal on the planet of Hydros. Myself and some others believe this may be the Sapphire of Utopia."
"The blue gem," Raker stated.
"Oh, good! You know your colours," Suikkanen quipped sarcastically.
"Thank you for your help, Lord Suikkanen," Captain Ditte said with a bow. "I assure you that we shall return your gem to you as our mission is complete."
"Much appreciated, Captain," the K'Targ smiled. "And good luck with your mission."
The DOOP members all saluted as they stepped back through the portal and into the mining facility office. Then, they left the room, the robot following them.
"We appreciate your master's help," Ditte told it. "If you need anything from the DOOP for this mining facility, please don't hesitate to axe."
"Doesn't mean we'll do it," said Fitzgerald. "But axe anyway..."
"Quiet, Lieutenant," warned Ditte firmly.
The exit opened and they left the building, a deep clang sounding behind them as the doors closed again. It was still dark in this part of the planet, and the eerie, melodic song of the strange world returned.
"We'll head to the ship and make for Hydros at once," Ditte said as they trotted down the stairs towards the shuttlecraft at the foot of the building. But as soon as he stepped onto the ground, he was stopped by a hand on his shoulder.
"Wait!" Raker said quickly.
"What is it, Lieutenant Commander?" Ditte asked impatiently.
"Something's not right..." Raker responded. "I have this bad feeling..."
Everybody paused quietly. The only sounds were coming from the planet, or at least as far as they could tell. Then, in a flash, Raker whipped out his small laser pistol and shot a blast into the opening of the shuttle, making everybody jump with shock. As the blast flashed upon contact within the transport device, Ditte was about to yell Raker's name, only pausing as they all saw a dark flash leap out of the craft high into the air. The eyes of the DOOP soldiers watched it as it appeared to spin in the air swiftly, before landing on the soil about ten metres away from them in a crouched position. As it raised up onto its feet, the darkness and the fact that the only just now rising sun was at its back obscured all details except its basic shape: humanoid looking, two legs and two arms, several strange points sticking out the top of it, and no clue as to the shape of its head. It held something long and pointed in its right hand, a black silhouette like the rest of it that!
looked a bit like a sword.
"Who are you?!" asked Ditte forcefully. "Why were you in our shuttlecraft?!"
A purring hiss came as the initial response, and as the sun peeked over the hills behind it, it followed it up with a direct statement.
"You have something I want! Give it to me... or DIE!!!"
"We've got it! I-I-I mean we've got her!!" Zoidberg yelled happily.
"What do I care?" Bender said. "Go tell Amy and Fry, they're the ones who are interested."
"You go tell them then," Zoidberg smiled. "I'll land the ship at the right place."
"You land the ship?!" Bender chortled. "Oh, that's rich! Next thing you'll be wanting to be 'Refrigerator Guard' or something?!"
"Fry let me be guard that cake he made for Leela last Valentines Day," Zoidberg defended. "It was a very responsible job, it was!"
"Question?" Bender said quickly.
"Did you eat the cake, Zoidberg?"
Zoidberg paused for a while.
"Well... 'eat' is such a strong word! A word that gets used far too often against Zoidberg, in my hungr-- I mean, humble opinion..."
Bender rolled his eyes and wheeled out the door to get the others, while Zoidberg took the controls in his claws, and pushed them forward to descend towards the surface.
"And as space hero, Doctor Captain John Zoidberg rooms down to the surface of the planet, he sneers with contempt at all the creatures below him!" the lobster narrated.
Zoidberg noticed that the land began to get quote close now.
"Whoops! Better slow this ship down and land..."
Zoidberg pulled the ship up again to level it out. Just then, Amy, Fry and Alesia walked in. Amy gasped, running over to him.
"Zoidberg!! What are you doing?!!"
"I'm flying the ship," the lobster smiled. "Now I just need to find the place where the radar says she is..."
"Uhhh... maybe you should give the controls to Amy...?" Fry said nervously.
"No, I'm good," he said. "Just give me directions to go."
"Uhhh... O-Okay..." Amy stuttered, looking at the radar screen. "Head left slightly."
Zoidberg turned the ship left, surprisingly smoothly.
"Now straighten out!" Amy said anxiously.
"Relax! Zoidberg is in control!" the Decapodian consoled calmly.
"Almost there..." Amy told him. "Aaannnnnnnnnd..... stop!"
Zoidberg brought the craft to a halt.
Amy smiled at him. "Not too bad, Zoidberg. You did better than I thought."
"Hooray! Now all I need to do is the landing."
Zoidberg lowered the undercarriage and brought the ship down. Rather quickly.
"Isn't this a little fast, Zoidberg?" Fry asked nervously, holding onto a chair for support.
"Relax, there's still a good few hundred metres le--"
Zoidberg was silenced as the ship suddenly stopped and shook violently, a loud clattering crunch echoing around them as the whole ship jarred. When it stopped, everybody picked themselves up carefully.
"Is everybody alright?" Fry asked with an uncomfortable wheeze.
Everybody made groans of discomfort and assurance. Amy, holding her head, walked over to Zoidberg angrily.
"You idiot! You crashed the ship!"
"I don't understand?!" Zoidberg said. "The altimeter said there was a good number of metres before we hit?!"
"Spluh!!" Amy yelled. "The altimeter is in feet, not metres!"
She pointed at the device angrily. Zoidberg looked at it.
"Damn American made ships!" he said angrily. "Convert to the metric system, dammit!!"
Fry wandered over and looked at the radar.
"Well... Leela's only about a mile away by the look of it," he said. "We better go look for her."
"I'll stay with the ship if that's okay?" Amy said. "After all, I'll need to go over it and check for damage."
She gave Zoidberg a nasty glare.
"Well... let's go then," Fry suggested. "The sooner we get going, the sooner we find her."
"Wait a minute," said Amy. "I'll just give you something to help you with..."
She picked up what looked like a small, rectangular yellow piece of plastic and slotted it into a gap just below the radar, then pressed some buttons.
"Working!" a robotic female voice said from the console, accompanied by some clicking sounds not unlike a typewriter and flashes from the lights lining the computer. When it stopped, Amy took out the yellow object and handed it to Fry.
"I've downloaded the radar stuff onto this cartridge. You can slot it into Leela's wrist thingy and have a portable version."
"Thanks," Fry said, taking it. He picked up Leela's wrist computer, clasped it onto his arm and inserted the cartridge. A radar like the one on the ship's console appeared on the small display. Fry chuckled.
"Neat! Okay, let's go!"
Fry picked up Bender, and Zoidberg and Alesia followed him out of the cockpit, walking down the partially bent staircase on the landing gear, and stepping onto the dusty stone surface.
"Whoa," said Fry, rather unremarkably as he put Bender down on the ground. "This place is drab. It reminds me of that show we watched last year, 'Survivor: Neutral Planet.'"
"Oh, boo hoo!" said Bender. "Why do you humans always want every planet to be lush green trees, crystal blue oceans and purple mountains majesty?!"
"Purple mountains?" Fry said. "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard! Mountains aren't purple... except on Purpleopolis of course..."
"Enough talk, there's a Leela to find!" Zoidberg said.
"The crab guy's right," said Fry. "Let's go find Leela!"
He checked the radar and pointed into the distance.
"The signal's coming from near those rocky mountains over there."
"You mean the ones that look like stony hills?" Bender asked.
"Exactly!" Fry smiled. "Let's go already. Leela isn't going to find herself."
"If she could, she probably wouldn't be lost," added Zoidberg casually.
They began to walk towards the rocky structures at a casual pace. There wasn't much else around them other than more rocks, dusty plains and the odd canyon.
"So... what do you know about this place, Alesia?" Fry asked. This was the first time he'd spoken to her since He and Amy had gone to look at Bender's body earlier.
"Not much," she said flatly. "I only know that it's inhabited by the Delphinians really."
"Oh, yeah... those guys," Fry said. "We probably should have brought some kind of weapons to fend them off in case we came across any of them? But we should be fine... Leela's not too far away."
"What if we have to spring her from a cage or cell or some kind of crap like that?" Bender asked.
"We'll use your blowtorch then," Fry said.
"But I haven't filled it with fuel yet."
"D'oh!" Fry exclaimed, slapping his forehead.
About ten minutes more silent walking found them at the bottom edge of the rocky structure. Fry checked the radar again.
"Aww, man! She must be on the other side?!" he exclaimed. "This stupid thing says she's still a good distance further!"
"We should call out for her, maybe?" Zoidberg suggested with a shrug.
"Couldn't hurt," Fry shrugged. "LEEEEE-LAAAAAA!!!"
As Fry called out, a small rock fell on his head from above.
"Oww! That hurt!" he said, rubbing his skull.
"There's a large crevice to the right side of the mountain," Alesia noted.
"So I don't think we could get around there easily... it'd be dangerous."
"Yeah, and it's never-ending on the left," Bender added. "It could take us ages to get there!"
Fry sighed. "We should just head back to the ship and fly onto the other side!"
"Wait!" Zoidberg's voice said from behind a boulder. "I've found something!"
The others walked, and wheeled, over to where the voice came from. There they found Zoidberg trying to move a large rock away from the rocky structure's edge.
"There's a hole behind this rock, there is!" he said. "Help me move it!"
Alesia and Fry both began pushing the rock, and slowly but surely, it moved aside, revealing a large cave entrance. Alesia examined the rock they had moved.
"It looks like it was put here on purpose... like a door or something..."
"I wonder where it leads?" Fry said. "Hopefully to Leela or the other side... or both... Hey! There are torches on the walls in the distance!"
Fry took a step inside, and noticed a strange shadow in the distance of something humanoid.
"Leela?!" he called towards it.
Instead of an answer, Fry heard a whooshing sound, and something flew towards him and into his mouth. He stumbled backwards, coughing and choking out sprays of grey powder as he did.
"FRY!!" Alesia said with alarm, rushing to his side as he tripped backwards over a rock, stumbling onto the ground. He sat up and she held him, still coughing up ashy dust.
"Are you alright?!!" she queried. He coughed some more and eventually managed to wheeze some words out.
"Dust! Shot in mouth!" he gagged.
"Fry! Open up!" Bender said quickly.
Fry turned towards Bender, his mouth opening as he began to try and ask why. As soon as he did, Bender shot a blast of water from the hose inside his torso straight into Fry's throat. After about three seconds of this, Bender stopped, and Fry began to splutter up water. Alesia patted his back firmly to help him.
"Thanks Bender!" he croaked after finishing. "Man... my throat hasn't felt that dry since you tricked me into thinking that bag of cement was powdered sugar!!"
Bender chuckled, but stopped when he heard whooping sounds from Zoidberg behind him. Zoidberg ran away from the entrance as small round things flew out of the cave towards him.
"What's happening?!" Alesia asked.
The answer came in the form of a large net, which fell on top of all of them from above. It was pulled tight and they were trapped. They all initially struggled, but stopped when several shadows covered them. Looking up, they saw four roughly dressed individuals. A male human and slug-like creature stood right before them, while on the cliffs above stood a thin Omicronian and a female creature with three eyes and no ears.
"Who are you?!" asked the human. "Why are you here?! You are not escaped slaves, are you?!"
"N-No...!" Fry quivered. "W-W-Where looking for somebody! A... a cyclops!"
Their four captors all gasped and looked at each other.
"You came for the cyclops?!" the Omicronian asked in surprise.
"Yeah, you know where she is?" Fry asked excitedly.
"That is not for you to know!" the human snapped. "I suspect you are Delphinian spy-slaves, sent to trick us into handing over the cyclops to them. We shall take you to our Grand Elder! He will know what do to with you!"
"Give me the jewel! NOW!!"
Captain Ditte sneered at the silhouette before them. The light would hit it soon.
"Who are you?!" Raker responded forcefully. "We're not giving you the jewel until you reveal yourself and your intentions!"
"Very well," it responded. "The light will reach this spot in seconds, and while I prefer to remain elusive, I will not evade it."
Then, the sun rose above the mountains completely, shining across the plains towards them, and the stranger's features were revealed. A humanoid figure like its shape had suggested, this creature wore tall black boots, billowy trousers and a white shirt. A strange, thick belt with a golden buckle wrapped around its waist, while a thick, blue jacket covered his arms and shoulders, opened up at the front with a large, upturned collar that brushed against its cheeks. And indeed, the object held was a shiny, elegant sword. The sunlight flashed off its flawless, silver blade. But these were just the clothes and tools of the mysterious stranger. His physical details were quite different.
"Wha... what sort of creature are you?" asked Raker, looking at its face. He had seen a lot of creatures in his years of service, but although this stranger wasn't really that strange or weird looking, Raker could sense something about it... something he couldn't put his finger on.
He stood tall, with a confident stance of dominance. His ears were slightly
pointed at the tips, and his pale blue skin almost seemed to glow. His nose was
small, and pointed, his mouth, a confident smirk of contempt, and his thick, green
hair jutted up and out in tall, bladelike spikes. But after regarding all this,
Raker realised what it was that scared him about this being: his eyes. His large,
narrow, penetrating grey eyes. The rest of him looked youthful, like a human in
their mid-twenties, all but for those eyes of his. They looked like wizened portals
to other worlds that had seen and experienced millions of things through all eternity.
He had never seen eyes so deep and focussed, it was as if he was staring into
the eyes of a deity. An evil deity. They felt so cold and vile. And when the being
answered his question, he understood why.
"Who am I," he repeated. "I am the last of my breed, a breed wiped out long ago by the very tool we created to try an ensure our survival. When what legends call The Staff of Power was activated, it destroyed everybody! Every one of my species...! Only I remained..."
Raker felt a dark chill as it paused, then looked directly at him.
"I am, the final Rabbish!"
Raker frowned, shaking off the feeling of malice he was getting from the being.
"Impossible!" he yelled. "You can't be what you claim! That species was destroyed billions of years ago!"
"Yes," the Rabbish hissed back. "And only I remained."
"No way! How could you live for this long?!" Raker argued. "The legend took place billions of years ago!"
"Fool! Don't preach what you don't know! Our race was immortal. We could live forever, we just never got the chance."
"Then how did you survive?" Kif asked nervously.
"I wasn't on the planet," he responded. "I was far away when the disaster happened. And when it did, I had to live the rest of my life alone. I had nobody of my own species to be with!"
He paused with a growl.
"And now, I discover the evil I thought was destroyed with my people has returned! So I must collect the gems and the staff once again to rid the universe of this menace, once and or all!!"
He sneered towards the DOOP officers.
"I will use any means to procure these objects. I already have two of them!"
He put his hand into his jacket pocket and showed the group the orange and green stones. They all jumped a little in surprise.
"As well as part of the staff. And these were not obtained through friendly means. Their owners resisted, so I used force to get them. Don't make the same mistake! Give me the red gem you have! NOW!!!"
Raker stepped forward confidently.
"No!" he declared. "This beast is too much of a threat to gamble on the chance that you might destroy it! We don't know your intentions for sure, so the DOOP will not give in to your demands!! In fact, we suggest that you hand over the objects you already have to us instead!"
Raker held out the Ruby of Utopia in one hand.
"If you want this... come and get it yourself!"
The rest of the officers looked worried. The Rabbish sneered and growled.
"You made a big mistake!" he yelled. "It shall be your last!!!"
The DOOP soldiers only got to see the Rabbish get into a quick attack stance before he became a black smear, flashing towards them in a split-second. There was a cry of pain, and then the Rabbish was standing where he was before, only this time there was a third gem in his hand... a red one. And his once clean sword now shined with the liquid shine of blood. A second cry followed, and Raker dropped to his knees.
"Bill!!" Kif yelled urgently, rushing to his fallen comrade's side. Bill was clutching his stomach with both arms, it dripping blood onto the dusty soil. He gave Kif a weak smile, but then coughed violently, thick gouts of blood ejecting from his throat.
"You BASTARD!!!" Lieutenant Fitzgerald yelled, raising his gun and firing towards the Rabbish. The being dismissed the shot in a swift flick of the wrist, reflecting it into the ground with the blade of his sword. The only damage it did was scorching some of the blood on its blade. Fitzgerald growled.
"Deflect THIS then!!!" he yelled. He launched a series of rapid shots, randomly aimed at different places, but all towards the Rabbish. With amazing skill and accuracy, every one of them was similarly rendered harmless in a flurry of swipes from his sword arm. Fitzgerald didn't stop.
"Enough of this!!" the Rabbish said impatiently.
The very next laser bolt was swiftly deflected straight into Fitzgerald's gun, sending it flying backwards out of his hands. The only damage done was a collection scorch marks on the ground around the Rabbish. As Raker spluttered up some more blood, Kif gave the Rabbish a mean glance.
"You heartless monster!!"
"Be thankful I decided not to kill you all," the Rabbish sneered down at the
green officer. He glanced up at all the others. "Give up your quest now, soldiers
of the DOOP," he stated. "It would be unwise to cross me again!"
And then, in the blink of an eye, he was gone. Ditte immediately spoke into his communicator.
"Nimbus! This is Captain Ditte! We are returning immediately with an officer in critical condition, send a medical team to the shuttle bay immediately! Ditte out!"
"Kif!" a weak voice said. Kif turned to Bill.
"Kif... you must continue to find the last gem before the Rabbish does! Do not give up! Go to Hydros and retrieve it!"
"No, you'll be fine, Bill!" Kif consoled. "There's a medical team waiting for you in the Nimbus!"
"Too late!" Bill wheezed. "Get the gem! Get the geeee..."
Raker trailed off, collapsing onto his front completely.
"Bill, no!!" Kif yelled. Fitzgerald wandered over and took a reading with a strange device.
"He's dead, Kif," the Lieutenant stated simply. Kif groaned lamentably, while Ditte used the communicator again.
"Cancel that order on the medical team, Ensign," he sighed sadly into it.
"What are your orders, Captain?" Ensign McGinley asked him.
"We'll head back to the ship, then go back to Earth Orbital Base where a proper funeral can be held for Lieutenant Commander Raker," Ditte sighed.
"No!" said Kif quickly. "We need to keep going to Hydros! We need to get the last gem before the Rabbish does!"
"I'm sorry, Kif, but I'm in charge, and I say that without Raker, there is no longer a mission. We'll head back to base as I ordered."
"Sir, please?!" Kif pleaded. "Raker wanted us to keep going! He said so before he... died! The least we can do is honour his last wish!"
The Captain sighed.
"We'll contact Glab when we get back and see what she says, okay Lieutenant Commander? It's all I can do."
"Thank you, sir!" Kif nodded.
"Fitzgerald! McGinley! Pick up the Lieutenant Commander's body and bring it into the shuttle. We leave at once."
"Ow! Could you try to drag my ass over less sharp rocks, please?!" a miffed Fry remarked through the net to his captors.
"Silence!!" the Omicronian yelled down at him.
"And another thing..." Fry whined. "Why are always told 'be quiet' or 'shut up' or 'silence' when we're captured by nasty thugs? What's wrong with talking while being dragged in a net through some dark passageways?"
"I said 'Silence!!'"
"Yeah, I heard you. And now because I've spoken some more... We're going to get hit or poked, aren't we? That's the standard drill right?"
"Shut up, Fry!" Zoidberg snapped. "I don't like getting hit!"
"No, we are a non-violent group of thugs," noted the three-eyed female. "That's why we used harmless dust pellets and a net, rather than weapons."
"Hey, those dust pellets hurt when they're shot into the back of your throat!" Fry corrected.
"My apologies," the human said. "They're designed to simply irritate the eyes to stop escape."
"What non-violent things are you going to do with us then?!" Zoidberg asked, sounding terrified.
"You'll find out, as soon as we go through here," the human answered.
The group were dragged into a fairly wide cavern, pulled into the middle of it and left there in the nets. The room was dimly lit with more torches and candles, and a humanoid man sat at what looked like a rudimentary table created with various rocks, his head down out of view. The human approached him.
"Grand Elder," he whispered to the man. "We have found some intruders outside. We suspect that they are Delphinian spies sent here to get the cyclops. They know of her."
Grand Elder Willow looked up, and as he did, Fry felt Alesia jump. He looked at her, seeing that she was peering through the holes in the net at this man with what looked like fear. It concerned him.
"Release them from the net, George," Willow ordered. "Let's have a look at them."
"F...Father?" a weak voice said, as the one he called George turned to approach the net. Fry's eyes bulged in confusion, as it was Alesia's voice.
"Who are you talking to?" Fry whispered to her. "Is he a priest or something?"
She ignored him, poking her arm through one of the holes towards Grand Elder Willow as if to reach for him.
"Father!" she said louder.
Willow jumped a little, then examined the net carefully.
"What?! Who calls me that?!" he said demandingly. "Get rid of that net now, George!"
George quickly jogged to it and began to loosen it from the group. He pulled it down from around them, until they were all just sitting on it. Alesia immediately stood up, her eyes fixed on the Grand Elder and full of tears.
"Father!" she said, her voice choking up. "It's me... Alesia!"
Willow jumped, then squinted, studying her face with a confused look at first. Then, he flinched again, and his eyes widened with realisation and happiness. A large smile formed on his previously serious face.
"A... Alesia!" he exclaimed. "Is... is that really you?!"
She just nodded, and he responded with laugh of disbelief and joy before slowly approaching her.
"My little Alesia!" he said. "I thought I'd lost you forever!"
He opened his arms and she immediately dove into them. Fry stood up, still clearly taking it all in by the frozen look on his face. The hug between the reunited family members finished and Willow looked down at his daughter happily.
"My God... You've grown so much! How long has it been?"
"Ten long, lonely years," Alesia stated sadly.
"Far too long," Willow said shaking his head. "But what... I mean.... how did you get here?! Why are you here?!"
"We're looking for a cyclops named Leela," Fry said from behind them suddenly joining the conversation. "She's a friend of ours who was taken to this planet, and we know she's with you. Can we please see her?"
"Yes, of course," Willow said. "I was about to go get her so that we could travel to the temple. Come with me."
"Father?" Alesia said. She seemed like she was objecting to his sudden withdrawal.
"There'll be time for us to catch up and bond later, Alesia," he smiled at her. "But this situation with your cyclops friend is very important."
As Willow turned towards the door, George blocked him respectfully but firmly.
"Can we trust them, Grand Elder?" he asked quietly.
"I trust my own daughter and her friends," Willow said simply. George nodded and stood aside. Willow left the room, with Alesia, Fry, Zoidberg and Bender in tow. As they walked, Fry noticed Alesia looking down. He took her hand in his gently, causing her to look up at him with a smile that was betrayed by the look in her eyes.
"Are you okay?" he asked her.
"I'm fine," she responded quietly. "I guess I was just expecting my father to want to welcome me for a bit longer... that's all..."
She managed a small chuckle.
"Although, he always did put business first... So typical of him."
Willow heard this from just ahead of them. He made a somewhat knowing and heart-warming smirk at the comment as he walked on.
"That's the spirit!" Fry stated. "You should be happy that you found your dad."
"You're right," she smiled. "I am happy. Thank you."
She kissed his cheek quickly.
Willow spoke: "You may be interested to know that your friend was badly hurt
when we found her."
"But she's alright, right?" Fry asked with concern.
"Yes, she's stable enough. Just some nasty deep cuts down her back. We have only the most basic medical capabilities here, so all we can do it bandage her. I just hope she's well enough to come with me to the temple."
"Well, Zoidberg here's a doctor," said Fry. "In fact, he's treated Leela before. He could probably patch her up?"
"That would be most beneficial," Willow said simply with a nod. He soon stopped and turned when a hole in the wall appeared to his left.
"She's in here," he stated. "You can go in first if you like?"
"Thanks, sir," Fry smiled, not hesitating to zoom past him into the room. Zoidberg and Bender followed at a more casual pace, while Alesia stayed outside and just looked up at her father's face with a smile.
"Don't you want to see your friend?" he asked her with a smile.
"She's not really my friend as such," Alesia replied, almost bitterly. She perked up immediately though. "I'd rather spend time with you. I've missed you so much."
As she hugged him again, Fry slowly walked over to Leela's sleeping form. He smiled warmly, squatting down beside the bed near her face.
"Awwww... she looks so sweet sleeping there," he said.
"Awwww..." Bender said as well. "Let's poke her with a stick!"
"No!" said Fry, firmly but quietly, so as not to startle Leela.
"How about I use my hose on her then?" Bender suggested cheekily, his front door opening.
"No, the old fashioned way," Fry declared. He gently pressed her nostrils closed with his thumb and forefinger, and she soon startled awake.
She jumped with shock, then recoiled as it hurt her back.
"Fry?!!" she exclaimed, rubbing her eye to both clear the sleep and make sure she was really seeing him. "Is that you?!"
"Yeah. And Bender and Zoidberg are here too! Amy's back at the ship, and Alesia's just outside talking with her dad, and--"
"Wait, slow down Fry!" she said, sitting up slowly. "You're going too fast!"
"Sorry," he chuckled. "We're just so happy to see you're okay!"
"How did you find me? Did you escape the Delphinians too?" she asked him, reaching for the glass of water beside her bed.
"No. You were taken alone. It's a long story, but basically we escaped the Seilarch too, got the green gem, fled the planet, and came here for you."
"What?" Leela replied. "How did you know where I was?"
"Alesia knew where the guys that took you came from, so we came here, then did a mutant search so to speak and... bingo!"
"Okay..." Leela said. "Who's the robot?"
"What, don't you recognize me?!" Bender snorted.
Leela recognized the voice and the attitude. "Bender?!" she blurted out, followed
by a slight giggle. "Is that you in there?!"
"Yeah, Fry found me this stupid little shell! That's why I look like this!"
"It's good to see you again, Bender. No matter the form you're in," Leela smiled, then she turned back to Fry.
"So Amy's with the ship and Alesia is... Wait! Did you say Alesia was talking with her dad?! When did he come along?"
"Actually, I've been here all along," Willow said with a friendly smile as he stepped into the room.
"Grand Elder Willow?" Leela said in shock. "You're Alesia's father?"
"Yes, that's right. Are you ready to go to the temple?"
"Uh-huh," she nodded determinedly. "Even if my back is a little sore."
"We heard you had an accident," said Fry. "Something about your back? Doctor Zoidberg can fix you up before you go."
"That'd be great," she smiled.
"Here, let me take those bandages off for you," Fry suggested, partially genuine but also partially suggestive. Leela frowned and slapped Fry's hands away.
"Forget it, Fry!" she said. She wasn't the only one frowning, though Alesia did feel a bit better after seeing Leela shoo Fry away.
"Let's give Leela some privacy," Grand Elder Willow suggested, turning to the exit. Fry, Alesia and Bender followed him. They stopped outside, just around the corner of the opening.
"The temple we are going to is a few miles to the east," he said to Fry in particular. "So we'll be riding on black dragons there. The less of us the better, but you're welcome to come too if you like?"
"Sure!" Fry smiled. Alesia instantly spoke up.
"What about me?"
"Are you sure you'll be okay?" Willow asked her.
"Yes," she said. "I'm not a little girl any more."
He smiled warmly.
"I know... I just wish I could have been there for you when you were growing up into the woman you've become."
"And that I could be with your mother too..."
Alesia felt a little ill in the stomach. She still hadn't told him about her mother's death. If he asked about her, she would tell. But she didn't have the willpower to bring it up herself.
Back inside the room, Zoidberg sealed up the final gash on Leela's back with his laser. She lay face down on the bed topless, the sheets of the bed covering her from the hips down.
"There we go, Leela!" Zoidberg said happily. "Good as new!"
"Thanks, Zoidberg," she said, crawling out of the sheets with her left arm crossed across her chest for modesty, and wearing just some pink underpants. "It feels better already."
She turned her back to Zoidberg as he packed up his medical gear, then picked up the Umprar skin shirt and swiftly pulled it on.
"Hmmm... quite comfy," she remarked, then flexed her back some more. "And the back pain is pretty much gone."
"Glad to be of help," Zoidberg smiled. "I'll go and wait outside with the others."
"Okay," Leela said as she grabbed her black pants from the back of the nearby chair. Zoidberg waddled out the room, joining the others.
"Her back is fixed and she's just getting changed," he said. "So... what's new then?"
"Leela, Alesia, the Grand Elder and I are going to a mysterious temple on dragons!" Fry said excitedly.
"Really?" he said. "Can I come?"
"Sorry, you'll have to stay here and keep an eye on Bender," Fry answered.
"Awwwww..." Zoidberg groaned.
"Make sure he doesn't steal anything," Fry noted. He then turned to Bender.
"And make sure Zoidberg doesn't eat anything," he told the robot.
Leela emerged from the entrance. Her eye narrowed upon seeing Alesia, but she decided not to act further in present company. Instead, she attempted to sound as cheerful as she should.
"Okay, I'm ready to go," she beamed.
"Very good," smiled Willow. "This way."
Leela, Alesia and Fry followed him. Fry waved back to Bender and Zoidberg.
"Bye guys! Remember what I told you both!" he called.
"We will!" they both responded simultaneously, waving back. As soon as the group had disappeared from sight, Bender spoke to Zoidberg.
"So, I'll keep quiet about you eating stuff if you keep quiet about me stealing stuff... okay?"
"Deal!" the lobster said immediately.
As they both left in different directions, one sniggering evilly and the other
whooping, Fry sped up to walk beside the Grand Elder and spoke to him: "So...
what are these 'Black Dragons' were' riding then?"
"They're dragons from this planet," Willow answered. "The ones we will be using were trained for riding by the Delphinians, but left here when the mine was abandoned. We use them for reconnaissance missions above the known mines to see if we can spot any possible escapees, but need to be careful of Delphinians on them too... especially considering they're usually armed too."
"How can you afford to take care of them?" Leela asked. "I thought you could only just feed and care for yourselves?"
"They aide us in bringing down Umprar for food and clothes, so pay for themselves. They themselves only eat the poisonous slugs that are deadly to most of us anyway."
They came to a long, spiralling slope walked up it. When they made it to the top, there was another large hollowed out cavern area, but this one had four large winged lizards with black, scaly skin. They had four legs, long pointed tails and an equally long neck, on the end of which was a narrow, pointed head. One of them screeched like a giant raptor as Willow approached. He patted its head.
"We'll take only two of them. I'm sure one of you will be able to handle controlling one?"
"I will," nodded Leela confidently.
"Good," Willow said. "You and the young man can go on one, Alesia will ride with me. If you three can move that large round boulder aside, I'll harness these guys up."
He pointed to a rock leaning against the wall behind them.
"You heard the man," Leela said. "Let's go."
Leela, Fry and Alesia began pushing the boulder slowly, but surely, across, revealing a large hole behind it to the outside world. Fry peered over the edge. The drop was further than the ground the ship was on, as there was a deep canyon around this area of the rocky hill they were in.
"Are you sure this is safe, Mister Grand Alesia's Dad?" he asked nervously.
"Perfectly safe," Willow said as he finished putting a bridle on the second dragon's face. "I'd be more worried about Delphinians if I were you."
Fry turned back then suddenly smiled.
"Look, we can see the ship from here."
"What?!" the Grand Elder said. We wandered over, leading one of the dragons and looked out. He gasped.
"Oh my God! It's sitting right out in the open!" he exclaimed, then turned to Fry. "You said somebody was still in there?!"
"Yeah," Fry nodded.
"Contact them if you can and tell them to move that ship out of sight! It will alert the Delphinians for sure!"
"Okay then," Fry nodded. He pulled back his sleeve and Leela instantly spoke.
"Hey! That's my wrist computer!"
"Oh... yeah... I'll give it back once I've told Amy to--"
Fry cut himself off as Leela grabbed his arm and took it from him. She clipped it onto her own arm.
"I'll take it from here," she said to Fry, then spoke into the device. "Hello, Amy? Do you read?"
There was some crackling and after a while Amy's voice rang through.
"Leela?! Is that you?!"
"Yeah, it's me. I'm here with the others, it's a long story. We need to you move the ship out of sight, ASAP!"
"No can do, Captain. The landing gear really took a beating when Zoidberg landed the ship. If I take off and land again, it'll probably do more damage than before. I'm having enough trouble fixing it by myself now!"
"Damn!" Leela sighed. "I wish there was a way we could disguise it."
"Oooh!" said Fry. "What if we got lots of other ships to land around it? That way it'd just look like a shipyard."
"Stop being an idiot, Fry!" Leela said.
Alesia got annoyed. "Leave Fry alone! He's just trying to help!" she defended.
Leela sneered, but did nothing else. She didn't want to anger Alesia's father,
especially at this time. She spoke to Amy again, "Well... then just try to work
quickly and move as soon as you're finished fixing it. If anybody arrives, hide
in the secret compartment and try to make it look like the ship was abandoned."
"Roger!" Amy's voice rang back.
Leela switched it off.
"That's all we can do I suppose," she shrugged.
Willow sighed. "Very well then. Let's go."
The two dragons and four passengers sailed out of the hole and into the air,
Willow and Alesia's one leading. It was quite dim outside now, but it could hardly
be considered dark. It was as if there was an upcoming thunderstorm and dark clouds
were blocking the sun, but the sky was clear and there was no sun to block. Leela
could see why it was called 'The Second Phase' rather than night.
As her dragon followed the other, she turned back to Fry, who was holding onto
"Fry! I don't mind you holding onto my waist on this thing... but my waist
isn't at chest height!"
"Oh... Sorry..." he remarked, going red in the face and lowering his arms.
"So how did you guys get rid of the Baron then?!" she asked him loudly over the wind.
"Oh, that was easy!" Fry said back. "He was dead!"
"Yeah... found him that way when we got back to the ship! And get this... the gem and the trident were stolen!"
"So somebody else wants to rule the universe I guess?!" she speculated. "Oh well... we can go home after this then!"
"No! We're going to keep going!" said Fry.
"What?!" Leela yelled. "Why?!"
"Save the universe style stuff," Fry said. "Plus, we have the green gem too. We found it!"
"You're not serious?!" Leela said loudly, in a whine of disbelief.
"Aw, come on Leela!" Fry said. "Being space heroes is cool!"
"But this gem quest is dangerous, Fry! We've already lost Scruffy and we almost lost Bender and Amy too!"
Willow and Alesia's dragon began to descend down towards a large rocky tor below. Leela and Fry's one followed.
"We'll talk about this later, Fry!" she said back at him "Looks like we're going down!"
The dive down became quite fast and steep, but when ground got close, the dragon landed flawlessly on it, with a relatively smooth landing. Willow got down and helped his daughter off, while Leela got down and Fry fell off. Before them, in the mountainside, was a large entrance. It looked like it had been carved rather than being a natural cave.
"This is it," Willow announced "The Delphinian's Temple of Watayna."
"Looks like a cave," Fry said, dusting himself off as he got to his feet.
"Come, we shall enter," Willow said, directed mostly at Leela. "But what you see inside may shock and scare you!"
"Don't worry, I can handle it!" Leela said confidently.
Willow led the way and the others followed. It was dark for a while, almost pitch black, until they saw a glow in the distance. It was a corner, and this glow came from the left. Willow walked into the corner then turned.
"Just to the left is the statue of Watayna. You may want to go in first, Leela?"
"Okay," she said with a shrug. She walked past him and into a large room, lit up brilliantly by many torches on the walls. It was carved out of the stone mountain, with a flawlessly smooth rock ceiling and floor, and the same went for the walls. More impressive than this though was the massive stone statue at the far end. it had to be ten metres tall, and Leela gasped at it, as did Fry and Alesia as they also walked in.
"My God!!" Leela exclaimed. "It only has one eye!!"
"That is Watayna," Willow said simply, walking in to join them. "A one-eyed demon from this planet. He is what the Delphinian legends believe to be the source of the problems here for them. According to their beliefs, this demon is the reason that they starve and live on a barren planet filled with dangerous creatures. If it weren't for their mining, they'd barely survive. They believe that unless he is happy, he will keep the planet like this and punish them."
"Okay, so this demon has only one eye!" Leela said, clearly dismayed and, yes, even scared by it all. "What does that have to do with me and whatever Haruska is?! Do they think I'm this demon?!"
"No, you are what the demon is holding," Willow replied, pointing upwards towards one of the statues hands. In it, grasped between its fingers tightly, was a small, one-eyed female.
"Oh my God!" Leela gasped. "She looks almost exactly like me!!"
"That female cyclops, within the demon's grasp," said the Grand Elder, "is Haruska."
"Man, I haven't been this confused since that delivery we made to Noun 9!" said Fry.
"What happened there?" Alesia asked him.
"They only spoke using nouns," Fry explained.
"That must have been hard for you all?" Alesia said.
"You'd better believe it. Especially the guide we had with us. He kept on saying 'Fry brick head! Fry brick head!' It was impossible to understand! And then I got hit in the head by a brick..."
"So, why do they want me then?!" Leela asked Willow. "How do I... How does Haruska, fit into this legend?!"
"According to what I've heard, there are two things they could give the demon to satisfy it," Willow answered. He then pointed up at the other hand of the statue.
"One was a the power of lightning, so that he would have unlimited power!"
Sure enough, in that hand was a stone carving of a lightning bolt. Willow pointed back to the hand with Haruska in it.
"The other, was a living, one-eyed, virgin female mortal for him to eat."
"Eat?!" Fry exclaimed. "Why would he want to eat her? I'm no expert on legends, but whenever they involve sexy virgin offerings, they don't want to eat them, if you get my drift...?"
He made a wink-wink, nudge-nudge motion.
Willow shrugged. "I might have the translation wrong, but that's what it came
"Well they can forget it!" Leela said adamantly.
"Yeah," agreed Fry. "Leela's no virgin! She's slept with Zapp Brannigan, for crying out loud!"
"Shut up, Fry!" Leela said. "And another thing! If I was so important, why was I simply kept as a common slave?!"
"That I do not know," Willow said, shaking his head. "But you can now see why we were weary of you! If the Delphinians think you are Haruska, and that you can end the poverty on this planet, they will hunt you relentlessly!"
He grabbed her shoulders and looked into her eye.
"Now that you know this, you must flee the planet. For your sake as well as ours!"
"Well, there's no real reason to stay any more," she shrugged, turning to Fry. "We might as well head home as soon as the landing gear is fixed."
"Thank you," smiled Willow. "Let us leave immediately. The sooner we get back, the sooner you can leave."
"Wait, hold up!" said Fry. "Why don't you all come with us? There's plenty of room in the ship and you'd be off this rock in no time!"
"I don't know... I'd need some time to consider it..." Willow said.
"Besides, I'm sure Alesia would want you to go with her, right Alesia?" Fry added.
"Fry, have you considered that Alesia might want to stay here with her father
and no longer come with us?" Leela said huffily. Part of it was truth, part of
it was her way of showing she didn't want the girl around any more.
Fry looked at Alesia.
"Is that true, Alesia?" he asked her. "Would you rather stay here if your father did than come with us?"
Alesia looked torn. She gave the only honest answer she could: "I... I don't
know... I never really... really thought about it until now!"
"We can discuss these matters in the safety of the Caverns of Sanctuary," the Grand Elder stated matter-of-factly. "Let us go!"
He turned and left the room. The other three all looked at each other strangely, then followed him. And as they did, Alesia was hoping her father would decide to go with Fry, Leela and the others. That way, she wouldn't need to be torn between two hard decisions yet again.
"Captain Ditte?!" Glab said from surprise from her large office at DOOP Headquarters. "This is a surprise! Do you have news to report?"
"Yes, I'm afraid I do," Captain Ditte sighed from his chambers aboard the Nimbus. "There has been an unfortunate... occurrence..."
Two DOOP guards in his room carried a large red sheet over to his desk. He nodded and directed them to their right and the walked that way. They then took the sheet and covered up a large, heart-shaped bed with it. Ditte had been annoyed that they had decided to replicate a little too much when they made the second Nimbus, as the many Zapp Brannigan statues and pictures around the walls suggested.
"Occurrence?" Glab queried.
"Simply put, ma'am... Lieutenant Commander Raker was lost in the line of duty. It seems we aren't the only ones looking for these items."
"I see," Glab said simply after a short pause.
The two guards finished covering the bed, so flicked their hands up to their flat, red helmets in a salute to Captain Ditte and left.
"We also lost the gem we had in the process, so... basically I want to know whether to continue the mission or return to base?" Ditte asked. "Young Lieutenant Commander Kroker is keen on resuming the mission, but I'm rather dubious."
"I shall consult with the other Admirals as soon as I can, Captain," she said. "In the meantime, continue the mission. The fact is though, Captain, we've suffered great losses since you've been away as well. Over two thousand, four hundred lives were lost on an attack against the threat."
"What?!" Ditte jumped. "Excuse my insolence, ma'am, but... I thought there was to be no action taken until we returned?"
"The powers that be decided waiting was not an option," Glab stated firmly. "The longer we waited, the more innocent lives would be lost. We needed to act."
"Sorry to be so glib... but that action taken sounds like it got more people killed than standing aside would have done?"
"Dwelling on the past won't achieve anything, Captain," she answered. She sounded a little annoyed now.
"Perhaps so," nodded Ditte. "But I now also request that our mission be allowed to go ahead as well."
"You don't honestly believe in this legend, do you Captain?" she almost chuckled. "The only reason you're on it is because DOOP regulations decree that all possibilities, no matter how strange or unlikely, must be taken seriously in the event of a crisis."
"Perhaps so, ma'am. But something does tell me there's more to this legend that meets the eye, and we honestly have got nothing to lose."
"Except your lives, Captain," Glab stated seriously.
"If we don't destroy this thing... they're lost anyway."
Glab regarded the Captain for a while. She eventually nodded.
"As you wish. There will be no need for any deliberations with the others, your mission has been re-approved by me personally."
"Thank you, ma'am. Farewell, and good luck."
"Same to you," she nodded. "Oh, and Captain... if you pull this off, and these objects end up doing what Raker thought they did... I'll recommend you for Admiral."
"Yes, ma'am!" he smiled with a salute. She nodded, then disappeared from the screen. Ditte pressed a button on his computer.
"Lieutenant Commander Kroker, could you please report to me immediately. All other personnel, we're going to Hydros. Whoever's on helm... set course for it and take us out."
As the two dragons flapped through the air towards the opening below that would lead them home, Fry yawned loudly and rested his head on Leela's shoulder.
"Man, I'm tired!" he said loudly. "I could do with a rest!"
"We can sleep when the ship is fixed, Fry!" she said. "In the meantime, we're almost back!"
Leela's words were true, as within the next minute they swooped back into the hole and landed safely. Fry fell clumsily to the floor again, while the others got off more traditionally. But as Fry picked himself up, he glanced out towards the opening to the skies outside, and gasped.
"Uhh... guys!" he said urgently. "There are some things in the sky that are either getting bigger, or getting closer!"
Grand Elder Willow stopped removing the harness from his dragon and walked over to the opening. He gasped as well.
"Oh no! Delphinian dragon riders!!" he said before turning towards Leela. "They must be searching for you!"
"I thought you said they slept at this time?" Leela asked.
"Normally, yes!" Willow answered. "But when there is somebody as important to them as you on the loose, then they will no doubt be very desperate to claim you! We must get this rock in place before th--"
He was cut off as a red bolt streaked past them. Alesia squealed as it barely missed her and struck the dragon beside her. The beast was turned to ash and bones within seconds. Alesia began to shake, so Willow helped her up and held her.
"Too late!" Willow yelled. "They know where we are!"
"No! It's not over 'til it's over!!" Leela growled. She jumped up and began pushing on the rock.
"Help me with this, dammit?!!"
Fry was the first to aide Leela, then Willow and finally Alesia. They slowly
managed to get the hole covered, but not before a couple more bolts flew into
it. Luckily they both hit the back wall only, simply taking some chunks out of
Willow groaned. "We're finished now! I knew I should have used my better judgement
and cast you out as soon as I heard of your arrival!"
As he pointed at Leela angrily, Fry stood up and confronted the Grand Elder, not looking particularly happy himself.
"Hey! You can't blame Leela for this!" he yelled in Willows face. "She didn't know any better!"
"I'm not blaming her!" Willow said back. "I'm blaming myself for deciding to keep her here!"
"Oh, so you're saying you'd be better off if you kicked her out and left her to die when she was severely injured?!!" Fry retorted.
"ENOUGH!!" Leela yelled. "Playing the blame game isn't solving anything! What's done is done, so let's stop dwelling on the past and take action!! It's time to fight back!"
"Fight back?" Willow said. "But we don't believe in violence! Violence brings great evil and achieves nothing!"
"Achieves nothing?!" Leela said, almost as a joke. "How long have you been here?!"
"Ten years," Willow said.
"Ten years?!" Leela repeated. "You've been here ten years and have only managed to rescue sixteen people in that time?!"
"And you didn't even technically free them, did you?!" she continued loudly. "You just brought them in after they already escaped!!"
"Yes we did, but that's not--"
"Your non-violent ways haven't solved anything really, have they Grand Elder Willow?!" Leela summarised. "Ten years later, you're still on this rock, only just managing to feed and clothe yourselves! You're still cowering from the Delphinians, and you're nothing but a myth to those slaves still inside! You've done nothing, when you could be fighting back and trying to free more slaves, or find a way home! But instead you cower here, slaves to the elements and your own lack of progress, if not to the Delphinians!!"
There was a long, awkward silence. Leela sighed and softened her tone slightly.
"Look, I'm not saying violence is good... it isn't. It's horrible, nasty and always ends up hurting somebody. But sometimes brute force is required if you want to make progress. Otherwise, you'll constantly be on the defensive, and you'll be here, living this same dull life, until you die."
Grand Elder Willow saw the logic in Leela's words, and reluctantly spoke.
"So, what do you suggest then?"
"What I suggest," Leela said, "is that we fight back. To put it simply... we go to war."