Fan Fiction

Futurama: Universe of Malice, Part 17
By Kenneth White

Chapter 17 - Flight of Freedom

Six small legs pattered with great haste, as a tiny creature scuttled across the vertical surface. It was attempting to escape the large blue eyes that watched it carefully, the owner of them smiling at the insect behind his mouth tendrils.

"You cannot hide..." he whispered teasingly at the roach. "I see you....."

He snatched the bug between to large, red pincers carefully, then dangled the helpless little thing above his slobbering mouth.

"There is no life in the Zoid," he said to it. "Only...death!"

He opened his mouth again noisily, preparing to drop it in. However, that's when the whole cavern shook roughly for a brief moment, causing the insect to fall from his claws and onto the floor. It quickly scurried to safety into a crack.

"What is?!" Zoidberg asked, sounding a little concerned, but not overly worried.

Bender entered the cavern, wheeling in with a look of annoyance on his face.

"I dunno!" he moaned. "But there's absolutely nothing worth stealing in this place!"

"And there's nothing worth eating either," Zoidberg whinged back, slumping his shoulders in a heavy motion of defeat. "Nothing but the odd bug and some strange, black eggs..."

The two were suddenly alerted by some hurried footsteps nearby. They turned to see Grand Elder Willow, Alesia, Leela and Fry running past the opening. Fry however stopped when he saw them.

"Bender! Zoidberg!" he said loudly. "Follow us... we're going to tell the others here what's happening!"

"Uh-huh..." said Bender. "So what is happening then?"

"Well... follow us and you'll find out," Fry shrugged.

"Come on, Fry!" he heard Leela's voice call out. He turned to see her encouraging him to follow her.

"Coming!" he called back, then dashed off again.

Zoidberg and Bender just looked at each other.

"We might as well go," Zoidberg said with a shrug.

"Oh, alright!" Bender sighed. "But you have to carry me, or it'll take me hours to get there with these stupid tracks!"

As the Grand Elder strode ahead with a determined expression, Alesia caught up to him with a worried one.

"Are you really going to listen to Leela and fight back, father?" she asked him. "I mean... this goes against the non-violent ways you have lived and taught me to live."

"I know it does," he stated simply, still glancing ahead as he marched on. "But there is a great deal of logic in Leela's words too."

He sighed heavily.

"Far too long have my ways held back the progress of these people. Who knows... if I had been more aggressive on the Vangar System as a politician, I may have been able to actually make a difference when things went to hell there?"

"There was nothing you could have done," Alesia assured him, struggling to keep up now.

"We'll never know now, will we?" Willow stated simply.

Turning into an opening to his left, the Grand Elder tramped towards a short stone pillar near one end of the large hollowed cavern he was now in. Atop the pillar sat a strange, black shell. Alesia slowly followed him in and watched as he picked up the shell and blew into it, sending a loud, resonant and very deep blaring sound throughout the caverns. After a good ten seconds or so of this, he stopped, Leela entering just before he did.

"Whoa! I thought this place was supposed to be unstable?!" she commented.

"Only if any more rock is removed from inside," the Grand Elder explained. "I've lived here for ten years without any cave-ins. Anyway... the people need to be summoned, and we've found no better tool than this shell."

Fry entered too, looking around the place.

Willow continued, "When everybody is here, the situation will be outlined to them. Leela: I appoint you as the military advisor."

Leela flinched a little.

"You're kidding, right?" she asked.

Willow just shook his head. "Nope. I have very little... offensive experience, other than debating with words. You, however, seem to have some fighting skills. Besides... it was your idea."

Two others entered, both wearing robes like Willow's. One looked to be human too, younger than Willow by just a tad with a round face and scruffy blonde hair. His thin, grizzled beard looked like he was trying to shave with a blunt stone, which was probably the case. The other was an alien with four green eyes, devoid of pupils and set out in pairs, one pair above the other. He had light orange skin with thin green hair sitting upon a tall, slim head like freshly cut grass.

Willow smiled and made a satisfied sound. "Here are our other two elders, Elder Charlie and Elder Galaxip."

"What's going on?" Charlie asked. "The whole place shook before!"

Willow sighed as other random inhabitants began to enter the room, including a struggling Zoidberg carrying Bender.

"You will find out during my announcement. As soon as everybody arrives, we will begin."

Soon, all seventeen of the group were in there. Leela, Fry and the others glanced around them all. There was Willow, Charlie and Galaxip up the front. Sala and Newton were there too, as was George, the Omicronian, the slug creature, and the three-eyed woman whom captured Fry and the others. There was also two other human males, two human females, another slug-like creature, a trisolian, a member of Morbo's species, and a creature that resembled a humanoid dog.

Fry thought he recognised the two other human males, who were dressed in strange, ragged orange robes and had poorly-shaven heads. One was tall and thin, the other portly. He approached them, then suddenly realised who they were.

"Hey! I know you guys!" he said. "You're some of those monks who were searching for God!"

"Yes, that's right," said the tall one with a British sounding accent. "Aren't you that fellow who was looking for his friend and stole our telescope for three days?"

"That's me!" Fry smiled. "What are you guys doing here?"

"Well, when your robot friend released us, we discovered that you had left the telescope on a being that could have been God. When we went to investigate, we were attacked by pirates, then sold into slavery to the Delphinians. We eventually escaped and wound up here."

Before Fry could ask any more, the sound of rock against rock brought everybody's attention to Grand Elder Willow, who stood at the makeshift stone podium holding a small piece of rock shaped like a gavel.

"Attention everybody!" he said firmly, his voice bouncing off the walls around them like a vocal hall of mirrors. "You may have noticed some loud noises and quakes over the past few minutes. These are not natural occurrences, in fact, far from it. The Delphinians have found our location."

There was a collection of gasps and whispers amongst the small audience.

"Delphinian dragon riders are outside the caverns, trying to find a way in. For years now we have lived a passive life of... uh..."

"Passivity?!" Fry called out.

Leela rolled her eye, Willow shot him a strange glance.

"Eh... right... passivity... But the time for that is over!"

He slammed his fist down upon the stone podium.

"The time has come to fight back against the Delphinians! For years they have enslaved innocents and we have done virtually nothing. But with the help of this woman..."

He paused and indicated Leela with one outstretched arm.

"...we will drive the Delphinians away!"

The people seemed unsure. Willow turned to Leela, motioning for her to step up to the podium. She did, then cleared her throat, and spoke.

"We need to act fast," she declared. "The enemy are right outside and they aren't waiting around, so first of all, what weapons do you have?"

"We have only spears for hunting Umprar, virtually harmless dust bombs and rocks," Elder Galaxip noted from behind Leela. "We have no need for assault weapons."

"Well, you do now," Leela said firmly. "You guys will not win with spears and rocks alone."

"And dust bombs," added Fry. "Unless you're good throat shots."

"Well..." said Willow, sounding reluctant. "We do have six Delphinian pistols hidden away..."

"Perfect!" said Leela. "Get them all at once!"

"But there's a problem," Willow added. "They aren't charged up... they're empty..."

"How can you charge them?" Leela queried.

"Electricity," he answered.

Leela immediately looked at Bender.

"Hey! Don't even think about it!" the little robot snapped. "I'm barely functional as it is, what with no booze!"

"The Delphinians use a special chamber to charge them," Willow said simply. "It's basically a small room, with a special electric device on the back wall. They step into them, hold out the gun and... Zap! It's charged."

Leela gasped. "I saw one of those things... not too far from here."

She turned back to the group, a look of determination fixed on her face.

"Okay... here's the plan! Bring me the guns. Fry and I will take them and a black dragon to get them charged up."

"We will?!" Fry yelped in shock. Leela just nodded.

"Yes. Meanwhile, the rest of you use what you can to fight them, distracting them away from us. You know this area well, so that should give you somewhat of an advantage."

"That will free up another two dragons, so Elder Charlie and I can take one each too," Willow interjected "We'll distract the other riders the best we can too."

"Okay then," Leela said with a nod. "Let's get going, people!"

Amy poked her head out carefully from under the dashboard, only to quickly retract it back like a turtle into its shell. A shadow passed by the window accompanied by a high-pitched squawk, and it seems like whatever was out there was interested in the ship. With it out in the open like that, she couldn't exactly blame it.

The undercarriage was almost fixed now, but she had abandoned it after seeing the shapes in the sky approaching, recovering her tools and hiding where she now was. They were probably going to land and investigate, so she knew she would have to find Nibbler and get into the secret compartment in the floor of the ship.

"Okay, Amy..." she whispered to herself. "On the count of three, make a break for it... One... two... three!"

She poked her head out, but screamed, pulling herself back again as another shadow passed by. This one was even closer.

"Dame yaru n datta ne!" she cursed to herself. "They must be circling down to the ship! I have to go now, or they'll be here!"

Amy darted out, purposefully ignoring the windows above her in case she freaked out again, and quickly ran out the door and into the crew's quarters. Nibbler was sitting on the bed and just looked oblivious to her. He jabbered something unintelligible, which Amy assumed had something to do with food. Most of what Nibbler said did.

"No time for that now, Nibbler!" she said quickly, picking him up quickly. "We need to hide!"

She took him back into the cockpit and put him gently on one of the seats, then pressed some buttons quickly on one of the consoles. A panel in the floor, one that simply looked like part of the floor until then, slid across. She picked up Nibbler, quickly dove it, then pressed a button on the wall inside it. The panel slide back above her, and a tiny light switched on as soon as it closed. There wasn't much room for her, perhaps two metres in length and width, and only about half a metre high. She just lay there, Nibbler sitting down beside her. He made a slight noise, so she put her index finger to her lips and made a shushing signal to him.


When she put her hand back down, it touched something gooey and sticky. She turned her head and looked at it.

"Ewww! Puke-a-tronic!" she exclaimed in whispered disgust. "Why does Fry have to keep throwing Bender's food in here?!"

She secretly admitted that she couldn't blame him though. But she said no more, especially as she could hear heavy footsteps coming from nearby. It sounded like they were coming up the landing-gear steps.

A large, blocky head slowly rose up into the ship, two sinister yellow eyes scanning the area. With a sceptical noise in its throat, the Delphinian rose up into the apparently empty vessel with a few heavy steps, causing the still in-disrepair landing gear to creak as his weight left it. He then listened carefully, an ebony pistol grasped between his broad, grey fingers.

"Stratos!" a loud, booming voice echoed around the empty cockpit.

There came no reply to the Delphinian's words. Amy certainly wasn't going to respond. She did jump a little when a heavy foot fell upon the panel above her, as the beast stepped forward and looked around the cockpit again.

"Stratos!" he said with a grunt, whirling around swiftly as he heard a sound.

Below him, Amy restrained Nibbler, who was attempting to get to the discarded lump of food Amy had put her hand in earlier. She gritted her teeth and covered his mouth, and Nibbler eventually calmed down. After a few more seconds of listening, the Delphinian moved again, walking back down the steps. Amy sighed with relief as she heard the steps creak once more upon his departure, but decided to stay low for a while.

"That was a close one, Nibbler," she whispered to him, uncovering his mouth.

Outside, the bulky Delphine native was about to mount his dragon once more, but he caught an eye of something on the ground: track and footprints. He walked over and examined them, his eyes following their direction and landing upon the tall cliffs in the distance, around which five other black dragons flew, random red bolts hitting the side of the mountains from their riders.


Fry quickly wrapped his arms around Leela's waist again, not because he liked it, but because he was afraid of falling. Leela had just made another sharp turn with the dragon they were on, as they weaved around the rocky outcrops within the canyons.

"Do you have to weave so sharply, Leela?!" Fry questioned nervously, raising his voice to combat the wind whistling around them rather than yelling at her.

"Sorry, Fry!" she said back loudly. "But this canyon has a lot of turns in it and it's the best way of getting to the gun recharging place I saw without being seen! Just hold on to me tight and you'll be fine!"

Fry's eyes bulged and then he looked sceptical.

"You're actually encouraging me to hold onto you?!" He asked loudly. "Does this have anything to do with Alesia?!"

"What?!" Leela said with a jump. "That's ridiculous, Fry! I'm just concerned for your safety!"

She was trying to sound as if Fry's assumption that it has something to do with Alesia was absurd. This, however, was so obvious, even Fry could tell she wasn't exactly telling the truth. He just shrugged it off for now.

"Do you think the others stand a chance with those primitive tools?!" he asked her.

"To be honest... no!" she called back. "But hopefully they can last while we get these things powered up again!"

Meanwhile, hundreds of feet above them, one Delphinian rider blasted the side of the mountain with his pistol, taking out a massive chunk of rock. But little did he see the Omicronian that popped up immediately afterwards from just above him, partially obscured by the dust from the explosion.

"Eat my dust!" he yelled, then fired off a dust ball straight towards the Delphinian's face. As the beast gasped, the pellet shot into his agape mouth, sending him into an incapacitated stupor atop his mount, not unalike Fry's actions earlier.

"Go!" the Omicronian yelled loudly.

His words were answered by Grand Elder Willow in the form of a swooping attack, as his black dragon dove from behind the cliff tops and barrelled into the disabled Delphinian, knocking him from his dragon. The riderless beast wasn't so for long, as Elder Galaxip leapt onto its back from the cliffside near the Omicronian, then took the reins in his hands.


Galaxip almost fell off his dragon straight away, as a red beam hit the cliffs near him. He looked back to see a Delphinian rider flying quickly towards him, gun in hand. He swiftly decided to move, fleeing his own dragon quickly around the corner and out of sight for the moment.

Below, the toppled Delphinian warrior hit the hard ground with a heavy thumping crack. George scurried out from the cliffs nearby, quickly retrieved the gun that had also fallen, and shot the fallen enemy in case it was still alive, reducing it to a burnt collection of bones. He sighed with relief, but it didn't last, as a bolt cracked into the cliffs behind him where he once hid. He gasped as a Delphinian rider flew straight at him, low at the ground and coming from the direction of the Planet Express ship. He fired at it, but missed. As he turned to run, he was hit in the back by the dragon's claws, then sent tumbling into the rocky cliffside. As the Delphinian swooped up and away from the cliffs, he fired a bolt into them, burying and crushing the unconscious George with large boulders.

Galaxip continued to flee, avoiding the red beams being fired at him as much as he could, and swooping in random, tricky dives. Fortunately, he soon got an ally in one of the other dragon riders, fellow elder, Charlie.

"Get lost, Delphinian!" Charlie yelled, throwing a spear. The weapon hit the dragon in the backside, but because of its tough hide, this did nothing more than agitate it and its rider. Hitting the dragons wasn't the objective, hitting the riders was. But aiming with a spear while riding wasn't an easy feat, and although hunting Umprars on them with spears wasn't uncommon during the Second Phase, they were larger and easier to hit. As Charlie reached for another spear, the last things he saw was a turning Delphinian and a red flash, and the last sounds were a zap and the beginning of his own silenced scream.

"Bingo!" Leela exclaimed. "There's the pool of water I fell into, so the place we're looking for is straight above us! Hold on tight, Fry!"

"Wha?!" Fry exclaimed. "Sorry, I wasn't listening! There was an funny rock formation shaped like a penaaaaaaaaaaaa...!!!"

Fry's sentence warped into a scream, and he held onto Leela tighter as she pulled the dragon upwards into a vertical climb. As the edge of the cliff face whistled past the dragon's stomach, Fry felt that his own had been left behind. The top off the tall structure soon arrived, and Leela levelled out the beast under her control, then carefully landed it atop the tor. Fry sighed with relief, but his voice rang with admiration as he spoke.

"Man... you sure got the hang of this thing pretty quickly, Leela," he smiled. She returned one.

"Thanks, Fry," she nodded. Her expression suddenly became more serious. "But there's no time to talk now... Let's get these guns charged and ready."

She grabbed the bag attached to her saddle and began to untie it. Fry looked nervous.

"What if we come across more of those Delphiniums?" he asked her timidly.

Leela finished detaching the bag, reached in and threw him a pistol. He juggled it a bit before getting a firm grip finally.

"We'll use these to protect ourselves," she said.

Fry looked at Leela as if she was stupid.

"Uh... they're not charged. That's why we're here."

"Of course not," Leela said. "But they won't know that."

"Won't they catch on when we go into the charging thingy?"

Leela sighed. For once it wasn't because Fry was being stupid, but because he had a valid point.

"Look, I know it seems a bit stupid... but it's all we have."

"Not exactly," Fry smirked.

Leela cocked her eye in curiosity.

"Huh?" she queried.

Fry chuckled and reached into his pockets.

"I grabbed some of those dust pellets and this pea-launcher thing before we left," he said, showing her the items. "We can maybe blind 'em... a-and then you can give them one of your karate chops and steal their guns! I'll be all, 'PANG! PUFF!' And then they'll be all 'AAAAARGH! I CAN'T SEE!' And then you'll be all... 'HEEEEE-YAA!' And then we'll go... 'Yoink! Freeze, you big grey goons!'"

Fry posed after his overly excited speech, his gun out facing Leela. She gently pushed the gun aside, giving him an annoyed glare, but then softened up a bit when Fry looked sorry.

"We might as well give it a go," she said. "Hold on to those things, and be ready to use them."

"Roger," he nodded proudly.

She looked towards the steps that lead down... the same ones she had ran up earlier to escape from the place.

"We're going down," she said firmly.

Back at the battle scene, Alesia watched the skies nervously from a rocky crevice near the top of the structure with Bender and Zoidberg. Bender's head spun around to face her as he heard a gasp.

"What's your problem, Barely-Any-Meat-Bag?!"

"I'm worried about my father up there," she sighed quietly. "All he has is some dust bombs and a spear... those creatures he's fighting have guns!"

They watched as the Grand Elder threw a spear at a Delphinian rider, but only graze the beast's arm in the process. Alesia gasped again as he barely evaded a pistol blast, then swooped away. The Delphinian made pursuit.

"Don't worry," Zoidberg consoled. "Your good friend Zoidberg will help your dad, he will."

"And how exactly are you going to do that?!" Bender yelled. "Do surgery on the enemy?!"

"Watch and learn, my fine factory-made friend," Zoidberg said calmly. He took four dust pellets from his right claw and popped them into his mouth.

"Geez, Zoidberg! I knew you were hungry," Bender said. "But eating dust balls... that's a new low!"

"I'm not eating them," Zoidberg muffled as he made chewing motions. "I'm improving them!"

Alesia's father stopped again, fetching a fresh spear from the back of his saddle and biffing it at the Delphinian. It missed, but they were both paused in mid air now, and fairly close to Alesia, Bender and Zoidberg. That's when the good doctor struck.


In a series of four rapid blasts, Zoidberg ejected the pellets from his mouth tentacles towards the Delphinian's face. Three of them made contact, but rather than dust, they splattered in a thick brown paste of mud.


As the Delphinian yelled with blindness, Willow seized the opportunity to strike, swooping at the rider with his own dragon and knocking his enemy from its ride. But as the Grand Elder sailed on, Alesia, Zoidberg and Bender saw something Willow didn't.

"HE'S STILL HANGING ON, DADDY!" she yelled out tactlessly.

Sure enough, the dragon rider was hanging onto the reigns underneath his mount on one hand, still holding his gun in the other. He wiped the mud away with his pistol-holding arm, but rather than fire at Willow, the still partially blinded beast decided to fire towards the source of the female voice.


Bender, Zoidberg and Alesia screamed, the latter two managing to dive away from most of the blast. However, Bender's lack of legs didn't let him do the same, and although he wasn't hit himself, the rocks beneath him crumbled away, and the small robot was sent screaming off the edge of the cliff.

"BENDER!!!" Alesia called behind her between some coughs from the clouds of dust as she saw him drop. But as he got closer and closer to the long drop below, something appeared on his display...


"Huh?!" Bender exclaimed, his focus moving from his swift descent to the objects poking out of his back and head. The former, near the region of his ass, was long and flat, and looked like the tail of a plane. From the top of his head, his antennae rose up and two blades flipped up, then began to spin rapidly. Bender began to slow fairly quickly, and by the time the ground arrived, he actually didn't touch it, but sat hovering above it by a few feet. Bender laughed, almost malevolently as his new head propeller spun rapidly above him.

"Who's the fly boy now, jerks?!!" he announced loudly to nobody in particular. "Now Bender rules the skies!!"

Laughing maniacally, Bender zoomed into the air at a tremendous speed, up towards the still hanging Delphinian. Alesia and Zoidberg just stared in awe as a silver streak whizzed up past them. He stopped right in front of the Delphinian and grinned arrogantly at him.

"Hey, jerk! Allow me to present myself," he announced. "I am Baron von Rodriguez! And as far as I'm concerned, you can bite my shiny, aerodynamic ass!"

The Delphinian growled and raised his gun towards Bender, his yellow eyes peering out from behind a mud-caked face. The robot just smirked, or at least as much as his metal face could.

"Oh, let me clean that off for you," he suggested, then blasted the beast in the face with his hose. The Delphinian recoiled and dropped his pistol, and with a quick "Excuse me!" from Bender, the robot flew down and retrieved it in one of his metal hands in mid air. He quickly returned to his dangling foe, who looked worried now that Bender had his pistol.

The robot chuckled. "Don't worry, I'm not gonna shoot ya!" he smiled. "I don't even have any fingers to work the trigger! However, you hanging from those reins must be a terrible strain on your dragon's neck... let me cut those for him..."

The Delphinian's eyes bulged with fear as Bender flew up and touched his spinning rotors to the leather straps above him, slicing them effortlessly and sending the grey lummox screaming down towards the hard ground below. Bender just watched him fall guiltlessly.

"There... who said I was never kind to animals?" he quipped.

Bender took the gun and flew back to where Zoidberg and Alesia were, not landing, but hovering near them. Zoidberg clapped his claws happily.

"Brilliant!" he announced. "Such fancy flying!"

Bender looked at Alesia and held out the gun.

"You can take this if you want?" he offered. "I can't use it."

Alesia shook her head.

"Take it up to my father... he needs it more than me."

"Can do!" Bender stated, then took off towards the Grand Elder.

Alesia sighed.

"Hurry up, Fry," she said quietly. "We can't rely on lucky shots and flying robots."

Leela peered around the corner quickly, then turned to Fry. They stood hugging against the wall at the bottom of the stairs, with the room they needed to get to just a few feet down the stoned-carved corridor. Leela held her gun, while Fry had the sack of guns and his pellet launcher.

"There's a Delphinian standing near the door we need to get to," she whispered to Fry. "I'll leapt out with my gun on him, then you blind him."

"Got it!" Fry nodded quietly. As soon as he did, Leela leapt out, Gun pointed towards the Delphinian.

"Freeze!" she yelled. The Delphinian turned around with a shocked look on his face.

"Now, Fry!" Leela prompted.

Fry leapt out and blew a dust ball towards the Delphinian. However, it hit a nearby stone pillar, bouncing back and hitting Fry in the eyes instead.

"Son of a..!" he yelled, falling to his knees.

Leela just rolled her eye and sighed.

"Close enough!" she said, then flipped over towards her enemy as he drew his gun. Just as it was trained on her, she reached him and kicked it out of his hand. She held her own gun in front of his face and he paused.

"Stay silent," she suggested, then brought her other hand's index finger to her lips in a 'hush' signal so he could understand. He just sneered, a low growl sounding in his throat.

"You alright, Fry?" Leela asked behind her, glancing back for only a split second. Fry stood up, still rubbing his eyes.

"I think so..." he said, blinking and squinting a lot.

"Good," Leela said. "Grab that gun on the floor and keep an eye on this creep while I charge up the others."

Leela signalled for the Delphinian to move into the room. He reluctantly did, as Fry retrieved the gun and followed them. There, humming and glowing, was the same chamber Leela had seen earlier. Fry took over the role as watchman as Leela approached it.

"Apparently I just walk in and hold out the gun..." Leela said sceptically, examining the strange little room.

She walked into it and a transparent door slid down behind her. She held out the empty gun towards the electric wall in front of her... nothing. She turned back to Fry and shrugged.

"Try pulling the trigger!" Fry suggested loudly from beyond the glass-like walls.

Leela tried again, this time using Fry's method. As soon as she pulled the trigger, the wall buzzed loudly, and a flickering bolt extended out from it and touched the nose of the weapon. As smaller bolts flickered and crackled all around her, tickling her skin and making her hair frizzy, Leela couldn't help but flinch a little. She eventually got used to the weird sensation, but groaned as she looked at the panel on the top of the gun, which was a red bar only at about five percent of the way and moving quite slowly. Leela could tell this was going to take a while, and time was something they didn't exactly have a lot of when their side was so outgunned.

Alesia nervously threw a spear at a nearby dragon rider, then swung out of sight behind a tall rock she was using for cover. The Omicronian, who was just a few feet to her left, did the same, then sighed with frustration.

"We can't hold out like this for much longer," he said in a deep voice common to his species. "We need those guns quickly. There's still four of them on dragons... we've only got two and your robot friend..."

They both ducked as a shot whizzed above them and hit some rocks, causing a hail of stones that thankfully weren't too big.

"And we've already lost at least four people... one of them Elder Charlie!"

They both stood up and grabbed another spear each.

He spoke again, "And I don't know how long the remaining Elders can dodge shots up there either..."

He threw a spear at the nearby rider again, so Alesia followed suit. They both missed their target though, but he was occupied with others throwing things at him. The rider fired a bolt into a group of freedom fighters, consisting of the three-eyed woman, the two monks and the dog-like creature, hitting the latter of them and turning him into a statue of sable bones. Alesia gasped at the sight, whirling back around her rocky cover. She glanced sideways at the Omicronian.

"A-a-are those the... guns we'll be using against them?!" she queried. He simply nodded. She looked even more worried after this response.

"But... how can we do that to them?!"

"Survival," he replied after a short pause. "Freedom."

"But... it's so horrible," she shuddered.

"Perhaps... but at least it's a quick death..."

He snapped his fingers.

"Like that," he added.

She looked away.

"Why does everything have to always revolve around such hatred?" she whispered bitterly.

Just then, a ear-piercing shriek echoed above them, and they both stared up to find a Delphinian rider looming above them.

"RUN!!" yelled the Omicronian, already beginning his retreat. But Alesia was frozen in fright, her large eyes wide and her small mouth open. The Delphinian took aim carefully, his target an easy kill.


Alesia couldn't believe her eyes, as a red bolt slammed into the dragon's rider, turning his form into a dark grey statue. The winds quickly eroded the Delphinian's form into nothing more than a trail of ash and a bulky endoskeleton. As it toppled and clattered onto the ground near her feet, Alesia saw her father fly past on his dragon, a pistol in his hand. He halted and looked down at her with a friendly smile, posed upon his winged beast like the statue of a heroic figure. Then, he soared back into the skies again.

Alesia stood up, dusting off her dress as she did. She seemed remarkably calm for what has just happened, but that's because she was partially stunned by the shock. Not the shock from almost being shot. Nor the shock of seeing that beast die in front of her eyes. No. It was the shock that it was her own father who was the rider's slayer. A man who had brought her up to believe that violence was never the solution, and who had lived by those principles almost his entire life. But there he was... purposefully killing another intelligent creature with no apparent regrets at all, right in front of her, and acting as if it was a normal, every day thing. She loved her father, but at the moment... she had nothing but distain for him.

The Omicronian walked over and took the reins of the now deceased rider's dragon, as it landed carefully in front of Alesia. He stooped and picked up the corpse's pistol, then held it out towards Alesia.

"Do you want this?" he asked her. Her stoic look suddenly changed to one of anger, and she slapped his hand aside.

"Get that thing away from me!" she growled bitterly.

He jumped and stepped back.

"O... Okay then..." he uttered in a confused matter. "I'll use it and the dragon myself..."

He climbed upon the dragon and they took off into the air, then swooped away. Alesia didn't even watch him go, instead choosing just stare blankly at nothing. She eventually leaned against the tall rock behind her, and slid down into a sitting position, her feet flat on the ground and knees pointing upwards.

"Why... why did you become like this?" she whispered to herself, hugging her legs.

She had to admit, she was no angel herself. She had shot that little guy off the edge of the platform in the Black Tournament, although admittedly that was a nervous reaction. She had considered leaving Leela to suffer who knows what fate on this planetoid too, which she wasn't proud of. But she still couldn't believe her father was flying out there and purposefully shooting at the Delphinians, no matter now nasty a creatures they were.

"Leela," she whispered quietly.

Yes, Leela was the one who convinced him to fight. She was the one who put the idea that violence and brute force were the only way.

'No!' she thought to herself 'No, you can't think like that! That's just your dislike and jealously of Leela talking! There was logic in her words after all... what with father and his people making no progress against the enemy. But did that mean violence was the answer?'

Alesia shook her head roughly.

'It's too late now anyway! Think in the now, not in the past, and don't let your fear of Leela getting between you and Fry cloud your judgement and influence your decisions and opinions! She's a living being who has feelings, and, like you, she had a tough time through life. Just remember what Fry said about not hating her... let it go...'

Alesia managed to calm herself down with her own thoughts. She now knew that despite her dislike of what was happening, it was happening, and if she didn't go with it, it would get to her. She didn't have to like it... she just had to tolerate it. And the same went for Leela. Looking around though, she suddenly realised she hadn't seen Zoidberg for quite a while...

"Ah-ha! There you are!" Zoidberg smiled, eyeing off the dragon that was sitting nearby.

It was the very same dragon that Bender had earlier freed from its master, as indicated by the cut reins. The lobster chuckled and climbed onto the beast's back awkwardly, taking a while and some effort to actually get into a sitting position. He took the reins in his claws and smiled, almost mindlessly.

"Hooray! Now Zoidberg will soar amongst the clouds!" he announced.

He whipped the reins, and the large lizard shot straight into the air, causing his red rider to make a long, high-pitched whoop of surprised fear.

"HEEEEEELP!! IT'S GOING TO FAST, IT IS!!!" he screamed, barely holding on.

The out-of-control reptile descended in a twirl, responding to Zoidberg's tugs on the reins, but then... Zoidberg didn't know what he was doing. In a lucky twist of fate, the beast flew straight into a Delphinian chasing Elder Galaxip, knocking it from his dragon and reducing the number of Delphinians to two. One was in an odd standoff with Bender, while the other was chasing Grand Elder Willow. While Zoidberg continued to whisk through the air, the Omicronian called down to the cliffs from his dragon.

"We're outnumbering them now!!" he called. "Fight back! We don't need the guns after all!"

From random spots upon the cliff sides, the freedom fights cheered and threw things at the Delphinians. Their stealth and knowledge of the cliffs around them had given them a small advantage. The Omicronian initially smiled from his dragon, but his face soon sank as he saw ten dark shapes approaching from the distance.

"Oh no!" he exclaimed in shock. "There's no way we'll be able to take on twelve of them!"

He signalled those below to retreat, and as he did, the other riders and Bender saw what was coming. Grand Elder Willow used this moment to swoop away from his distracted pursuer, then he fired a bolt at the Delphinian and turned the rider to dust. He looked at his gun and realised the power was low on it. He only had probably one shot left, two at the most. And with backup coming for the Delphinians, that wasn't enough.

"That's it!!" Leela exclaimed. "The last gun is charged!!"

She stepped out of the chamber and slipped the last gun into the waist of her pants. Fry couldn't help but chuckle at her, as her hair was all frizzy and the hairs on her Umprar shirt stuck out in all directions. She just ignored him and picked up the sack of guns.

"Now we have seven freshly charged pistols," she announced. "Let's hurry back!"

As she dashed past Fry, he suddenly looked worried.

"Wait... what are we going to do with this guy?!" Fry asked her.

"Oh, right..." she said, stopping abruptly. Then her face suddenly brightened.

"Stand back, Fry," she said with a devious smile and a karate style pose. "I'll take care of him..."

"Hey, I don't deny you're strong," he said, stepping back cautiously. "But you're not THAT strong!"

"Don't worry..." she smirked. "I found a weak spot on these guys earlier."

"Really?" Fry stammered. "Where?"

"HEEEEEE... YAA!!" Leela yelled with her trademark battle cry, launching her foot towards their captive... and right into his crotch. The Delphinian growled in pain, his voice breaking a bit as he doubled up and hit the ground like felled tree.

"Right there!" she added. "Now let's go while he's still down!"

Fry just stared at the fallen beast as she ran out the door.

"Remind me never to get into a fight with you," he said to the doorway Leela has disappeared through. "Because my weak spot is in exactly the same place... and I don't like being kicked there!"

An arm reached around the doorway and grabbed Fry's jacket with a solid tug, wrenching him out the door. The two of them bolted up the stairs as quickly as they could, not really caring if any Delphinians were behind them or not. They were both running at full speed, as the sooner they got to their dragons, the sooner they could get the guns to their new allies.

The cliff sides were pelted with at least a dozen shots as the Delphinian reinforcements arrived. Bender, the two elders and the Omicronian rider all attempted to scatter, and while the first three made it, the Omicronian's dragon was hit by a shot, turning the beast into ash and bones right under him, and sending him careening into the edge of the nearest set of cliffs, then tumbling down towards the ground below.

"Damn you!" Willow yelled, and he shot a blast into the group, luckily taking out one of the riders in the process. In either case, there was still ten of them, and his gun was now empty.

"COMING THROUGH!!!" a shrill voice screamed.

The Delphinians scattered as Zoidberg and dragon swooped amongst them from above, the wings from the pattern-less flier knocking one Delphinian off its agamid. However, it managed to hold onto its reins, and fired off a shot at Zoidberg in revenge. Like his Omicronian comrade earlier, Zoidberg found his dragon struck from under him. Luckily though, his ride was flying towards a flat piece of cliff top at the time, which meant Zoidberg's dragon skidded across the surface with a loud clatter to bring him to a fairly safe stop. The doctor rolled off the skeleton to land near Alesia. She immediately crawled over to him.

"Are you alright?!" she asked with concern. The Decapodian rubbed the back of his head and sat up.

"I'd like to tell you for sure," he replied, wobbling around a little. "But I'm an expert on humans, not crustaceans."

Alesia heard explosions and left his side, scurrying over to a gap between the two tall rocks she was using as cover and peering out.

"Oh no!" she gasped, watching as the riders pelted the cliff sides with their guns around the surrounding cliffs, where freedom fighters had now become freedom flee'ers. She looked away in shock as she witnessed a large falling boulder hit the three-eyed alien woman in the head and send her lifeless form tumbling down the cliffside.

"Oh my God!" she shuddered, her face even more pale than usual. "Where are Fry and Leela?!!"

Zoidberg crawled over to her and looked around them too. He quickly pulled her behind one of the rocks with him as a dragon whooshed closely by.

"I don't know, but we need them fast!" he said. "There's too many of them now!"

As much as Alesia hated to admit it, Zoidberg was right. They really did need those guns, and they needed them fast.

From high above, Willow watched what was going on, helpless without any spears or pistol energy left. He jumped in shock as he saw a Delphinian corner the slug creature, the trisolian and one of the two human females. He shot them all, first the female, then the slug, but the trisolian was unaffected by the blast. It tried to attack the rider, but neither could do much. In a fit of rage, Willow swooped down upon the Delphinian and slammed into it with his own dragon, knocking it from the cliffside. He shed a tear as he looked at his watery friend, knowing that it wasn't going to be enough.


The whole area echoed with a deep blaring sound, and all eyes turned to deep canyon below.


The sound repeated, and the Grand Elder managed a weak smile as Fry and Leela appeared from out of the crevice, Fry blowing on the large black shell and Leela firing shots at some of the Delphinians. Alesia and Zoidberg peered out from their cover and both smiled.

"They're back!" Alesia exclaimed. "We're saved!"

"Hooray!!" Zoidberg yelled, clacking his claws above his head.

The Delphinians made charge for the newcomers, but Leela managed to take one out and keep the others at a distance, while Fry shot back with a gun too, also keeping them back. Willow took to the air again, flying towards the two of them quickly. He reached them and smiled.

"Thank God you made it!" he said with exasperation. "We're barely holding on!"

Leela handed him a gun quickly and he flew off, while Fry kept the enemy at bay with his shooting. Leela turned to Fry as they quickly manoeuvred out of harms way as retaliation bolts whizzed by.

"We need to distribute these things!" she told him. "I'll fly near the cliffs where the people are, and you chuck them the guns!"

Fry nodded and the plan was underway. Two riders quickly made chase, but Bender swooped out from behind a cliff top and slammed into one of them, while the other was taken out by a shot from the Grand Elder. Bender hovered over beside Fry and Leela.

"Thanks, Bender!" yelled Fry. "But... since when could you fly?!!"

"Who cares!" the robot said back. "The important thing is, we're giving you guys some cover!"

He flew away again, and headed towards some more Delphinians with eyes on the new arrivals with the new artillery. But neither Fry nor Leela saw the dragon on the cliff tops just up ahead. Willow did and reacted.

"NOOOO!" he yelled, as the Delphinian dove down upon Fry and Leela. The two looked up and gasped, and Willow raced forward and upwards, firing at the attacker. He missed, but the cliff tops were struck by the blast, and Willow was showered with rocks. But that wasn't the worst of it, as the Delphinian rider was struck by a boulder and fell from his dragon, slamming straight into the Grand Elder below. Alesia could only watch from afar as her father was knocked from his dragon and began plunging to the ground.

"FAAATHEEEER!!!" she screamed.

She watched in dread as he plummeted, finally hitting the hard surface with a nasty thudding crack. As the tears flowed from her eyes, she quickly looked around, then pushed at a nearby rock sticking up into the air. It loosened, and as it toppled over, she crawled onto it and began to ride it down the steep mountainside like a toboggan.

"Wait!!" Zoidberg called, trying to stop her, but failing. As she careened down the slope, the wind and dust whipping across her face and sending her hair streaming from her head like the tail of a comet, several Delphinians began firing towards her. She screamed as the bolts blasted all around her. Fry gasped upon seeing what was happening.

"Alesia!" he exclaimed. "No!"

Without much thought, Fry leapt onto the dragon below that used to have Willow on it, only just managing to keep hold of it. Leela looked behind her with shock and surprise.

"No, Fry!" she called as he took off with his dragon down towards Alesia. She cursed under her breath. The insane antics from both of them were going to get them killed as far as she was concerned. That didn't stop her from going after Fry though.

Luckily for Fry, he actually managed to hit one Delphinian and send another two fleeing, as he dove down towards them, firing as fast as he could. Leela tried to catch up, but was stopped when a Delphinian pulled in front of her. She tried to make a left turn, but there was one there too. And to her right. In fact... she was surrounded by them. The one directly in front of her smiled evilly and rose his gun towards her.


Leela was almost blinded by a bright flash, and when she opened her eye again, the Delphinian was gone... and the others looked shocked.

"What the?!" she exclaimed.


Another something streaked past and exploded nearby, sending the Delphinians scattering. But the blast was much larger than any pistol fire, and as Leela turned left, she saw why.

"Amy!" she smiled.

Sure enough, it was Amy in the Planet Express ship. The ship slowly roared towards them and fired a torpedo towards the fleeing riders. She waved at Leela, and Leela waved back, then regarded the retreating enemy. They had won.

In the meantime, Alesia skidded to a halt at the bottom of the cliff, tumbling off her rocky sled. She didn't bother to check any injuries, instead just running as fast as she could towards her father, panting with desperation as she did. She began to slow after a while, and when she was about six feet away from him, she stopped and just looked at him. He just lay there face down, with a small pool of blood where his head was and his left arm bent in a very unnatural way.

"Father?" she whispered timidly, the tears that had been welling up in her eyes finally starting to flow down her cheeks. There came no response.

She walked closer, then squatted down beside him and gently rolled him onto his back. This revealed a large gash across his forehead, out of which seeped the pool-forming blood. His face looked lifeless.

"Father?" she repeated quietly, praying for some sign.

She was almost completely oblivious to the sound of wings whipping the air and the soft thud of a dragon landing several feet behind her. It was Fry, and he looked concerned and sorry for her, even as he slipped off the saddle ungainly and landed on his head. Standing and dusting himself off, he decided to just wait by the dragon for now and watch.

"Please be alive, father?!" Alesia said, shaking him a little and sounding a little more desperate now. When that got no response either, she just stood up slowly and looked down at him. Fry sighed and she turned towards him slowly.

"He's dead," she stated simply. Fry couldn't help but notice the lack of feeling in her voice and on her face. She was like a china doll, so pale and emotionless. He thought that if she were just nudged, she would fall over and shatter. It was kind of sad, and reminded him of when he first met her.

"Awwwww... I'm so, so sorry, Alesia..." he consoled. Her expression remained devoid of passion. He walked over to her now, and placed a supportive hand on her shoulder.

"But there's no need to keep your emotions bottled up inside you," he said softly. "Just let it all out..."

Alesia's eyes tilted with grief, and her small lips trembled slightly. Then, as if a reflex, leant into Fry and embraced him, letting it all out like he said. As she cried into his chest, he just stood there and stroked her hair gently. The wind blew around them and a heavy creaking hiss sounded as the Planet Express ship landed nearby. Amy walked down the steps slowly, and Fry gave her a woeful smile and a small half-wave with his fingers.

"Thanks for saving us, Amy," he said as she wandered over.

She didn't know what happened, but judging from Alesia's cries, she decided not to ask. Leela and Elder Galaxip touched down within a few seconds behind Fry, and Bender landed right beside Amy softly.

"I didn't know you could fly!" she exclaimed.

"Yeah, well... what you don't know could fill a planet!" Bender snorted.

Leela and Elder Galaxip dismounted from their dragons and joined the others.

Galaxip sighed.

"Poor Grand Elder Willow," he said. "He was truly a great man."

"He sacrificed himself and saved Fry and I," Leela said. "If it wasn't for him, we probably would have been killed."

"Well at least the Delphinians are gone," Galaxip sighed. "For now..."

"Thanks to Amy, we didn't even need the guns," Leela added.

"So, I suppose you're in charge now, huh Chief?" Bender asked Elder Galaxip.

"Yes, but that's not important," the alien elder said firmly. "The Grand Elder should be given a proper burial to honour him."

"Wait!" Alesia sniffled, pulling away from embracing Fry and crying in to his chest. "I'd like to take him with us."

"What?" Leela asked.

"I want to bury my father on Earth," she elaborated. "There was a place where he wanted to be buried there... the place where my mother was laid to rest..."

Elder Galaxip nodded simply.

"As you wish," he said simply. "We shall instead carve a statue in his memory then."

"Thank you," she sniffled.

Leela turned to Galaxip. "What are you going to do now then?" she asked him. "Don't you want to leave this place."

He turned the freedom fighters, who were just now arriving on the scene.

"What say you, my friends?!" he called. "Do you want to leave this place... or do you want to stay and fight?! If you want to leave... step forward!"

There was a long moment of silence. Not a single member of the survivors stepped forward. He turned to Leela and shook his head.

"Well, looks like we'll shall stay here and continue to fight back against the Delphinians," he said. "We must put the mistakes of the past behind us and actually make a difference here. We will actually try to free slaves now, not just take them in. These guns we never got to use will be a big help... so long as we keep them charged."

He extended a hand to Leela.

"Thanks for pointing us in the right direction."

She smiled and shook the Elder's extended hand.

"Happy to be of help."

Alesia sneered at her from over Fry's shoulder.

"Are you saying that my father was a bad leader?!" she asked with a huff.

"No, he was an excellent leader," Galaxip said. "He was just, and kind and taught us how to survive and function together, even though we were all from different races and planets."

"But he wasn't aggressive enough though... was he?" she asked.

"Not every leader can be a fighter too, Miss Willow," Galaxip stated. "Your father was a great leader... Leela here is a good fighter."

"Leela!" she said angrily, ripping herself out of Fry's arms. "She's the reason my father is DEAD!!"

Alesia stepped towards Leela angrily, but Fry pulled her back. She struggled a bit, but then her anger morphed into sadness, as she sought the comfort of Fry's arms once again. Leela didn't know whether to be mad at her, feel sorry for her, or simply pity her. She sighed and turned to Amy.

"I suppose we can go now?" she asked Amy. Her Chinese friend nodded.

"Yes, ma'am," she smiled. "The landing gear is fixed and ready to go... as is the broken monitor."

"Alright then," she nodded. "Let's get a stretcher out here for the Grand Elder and get him in one of the body tubes."

Amy saluted and turned towards the ship. Leela followed, but stopped as she passed by Fry and Alesia. She gently placed a hand on the other woman's shoulder, causing Alesia to look up at her with what seemed like confusion, anger and sorrow all in one.

"I'm sorry about your father, Alesia," Leela said simply. Alesia didn't know how to react, but Leela didn't give her much time to, walking away again after only a short moment. Although Leela still didn't fully trust Alesia, and felt very wary of her, she really did sympathise with the girl, and could understand the reason for her anger. At least for that brief moment.

Fry spoke to Alesia: "I hope you're not just sore at Leela because of your jealousy?" he asked her.

She sniffed.

"I'm sorry," she sighed, pressing her head against his chest as if it were a pillow. "I... I overreacted... I was just so... angry and sad..."

She wrapped her arms around Fry's neck.

"Once again... somebody close to me dies," she cried. "It's like I'm cursed or something... cursed to live alone and have all those around me I care about die!"

"You still have me," Fry smiled. "And I plan to live forever! And hey... so far so good! I've been alive for over a thousand years!"

Alesia managed a small smile. Whenever things were at their worst, he always seemed to be able to make her smile... if only for a second. She stared up at him.

"I love you so much," she whispered up at him. Then before Fry could return any words, he found his lips being kissed.

Amy and Leela arrived with the stretcher as the cargo deck lowered with them on it. Leela sneered slightly at the sight, which Amy noticed. She chuckled at Leela.

"Jealous?" she teased as they pushed the stretcher over.

"What?!" Leela stammered. "No..! Of course not..!"

"Funny... you were when you first saw them like that," Amy grinned.

"I was just... I mean, I... She was a stranger and... Can we change the subject?!"

Amy giggled and nodded. Alesia broke away from her kiss and watched as they carefully lifted her father onto it, and Leela covered him with a large sheet. Fry patted Alesia in comfort again as she hung her head at the sight, and Zoidberg finally arrived on the scene. He was puffing and panting.

"I had to climb all the way down the cliff, I did!" he uttered between breaths.

He noticed the body shape under the sheets and sighed.

"Awwwww... I'm so sorry..." he said sadly. "I wish I was here earlier... that way I may have been able to do something..."

"Thanks, Zoidberg," Alesia smiled with gratitude. "But there was nothing you could do... he was already dead when I got to him..."

"Zoidberg wouldn't have been able to save him even if he was still alive!" Bender quipped insensitively.

"Bender!!" Fry yelled.

"Is everybody ready to go then?" Leela's voice called from near the ship. "Because I sure am."

"Finally!" Bender said, rolling towards the ship roughly. "I've had it with this place!"

As Zoidberg wandered towards the ship too, Fry spoke.

"So... where are we going to go exactly then?"

"Home," Leela answered strictly.

Fry suddenly looked angry.

"No!" he said adamantly.

"Excuse me?" Leela replied, sounding a little shocked at Fry's gall.

"We are not going to just fly back home! We have to get the remaining gems and save the universe!"

"Don't be stupid, Fry!" Leela argued. "We have no idea where to go, what to do or even if the whole thing is true!"

"It is!" Fry said. "I know it is!"

"Oh really? How?!"

"I had this vision... when Alesia and I were travelling in her PTV," Fry explained. "I saw the monster in it... and it seemed so real! Trust me on this, Leela!"

Leela made a sceptical noise, then sighed after a moment of long silence between them.

"Well... your stupid theories have sometimes been right before," she shrugged. "How about we talk to the Professor and see what he says... now that Amy's fixed the communications monitor? But first, let's get ourselves off this place."

"We grant you God speed!" Elder Galaxip said with a wave as Alesia and Fry joined the others aboard the ship.

"Goodbye, Miss Leela!" waved a rather dusty and roughed up, but otherwise fine, Newton. His mother waved from beside him.

"Thank you," Leela waved back. "And good luck with your struggle against the Delphinians!"

"Lieutenant Kroker!" a loud voice said. "Would you like to say any words?"

Kif jumped a little in his seat, looking across at his captain, who stood at a podium in a reasonably large room, speaking to many DOOP officers and soldiers. Kif was one of three men sitting behind the podium rather than in front of it, the other being Lieutenant Fitzgerald and a female DOOP Lieutenant. Like them, and everybody else present, Kif wore a completely black variation of the DOOP uniform. Beside the podium sat a long, opened capsule. In the capsule, lay the body of Lieutenant Bill Raker. Kif stood up and approached the podium nervously. He tapped the microphone a couple of times.

"Hello," he said, jumping at his own voice booming around the room. He smiled nervously.

"I... um... that is... I..."

"Come on, Kroker!" Ditte whispered, making Kif jump a little more. "Stop being so nervous!"

Kif breathed in and out calmly, then spoke into the microphone again.

"M-Members of the DOOP... I didn't know Bill Raker that well. In fact, I only met him a few days ago. But during those few days... he was a good friend to me. Not only that, but he was a good officer. Brave, intelligent and resourceful... with unmatched perseverence, courage and confidence, and a stubborn side you couldn't get mad at."

Kif paused and thought a bit.

"Over these past few days, two noteworthy officers I knew had their lives cut short because of this monster... Captain Zapp Brannigan, and Lieutenant Raker here. This is the very reason I believe that we must continue our mission... in order to stop more lives being lost for no good reason."

He looked down at Bill's body.

"It's what they would have wanted. Thank you..."

He stepped away and took his seat again, while Captain Ditte took the podium once again.

"Now, we honour Lieutenant Raker like all DOOP heroes are honoured," he said proudly, turning to the capsule. "You have spent your life helping keep space peaceful... You will thus spend your afterlife drifting through space peacefully..."

As soon as Ditte's sentence was finished, the lid closed on the capsule coffin, and it slid across the floor and shot out of the ship. Everybody saluted and watched as it sailed into the void of space through the large window to the right of the audience.

"Goodbye, Bill," Kif whispered, a small tear running down his green cheek. "Goodbye... my friend..."

Alesia continued to stare out the window sadly, watching the stars flitting by with her chin cupped in her hand. Fry sat down beside her, a reassuring hand gently placed on her shoulder. She didn't even look at him.

"I should just accept it," she said, her voice unfeeling. Almost cold.

"Accept what?" Fry asked after a reluctant pause.

"That I'm doomed to be as empty as the void of space," she answered, still staring at the stars. She finally sighed and turned to Fry.

"I only just got to meet him again," she continued. "I didn't even get to really talk with him. And worst of all... my last memories of him are that of a brutal killer!"

Leela rolled her eye from the pilot's seat. She was sick of hearing Alesia whine, even if she did feel sorry for her.

"Look... moaning about it isn't going to make it any better!" she told Alesia.

There was an awkward period of quiet. Fry was the one to breach it.

"As insensitive as Leela's comment was," he started with a rather nasty glare in Leela's direction before softening it to look at Alesia again, "she is right."

"I know," Alesia sighed. "But didn't you tell me to let it out rather than bottle it up?"

"Yeah... yeah, I did say that... didn't I?"

"I didn't even tell him about my mother!"

"Maybe that was for the best?" Fry speculated with a shrug. "Do you really think he needed to know?"

She gave a half-hearted shrug. Leela turned around, leaning on arm across the back of her chair. She looked very serious, and even touched as she spoke.

"What... happened to your mother?" came her question.

Alesia sniffed.

"She was brutally stabbed and left for dead when I was only twelve," she told Leela. "In two weeks from this day, it'll be ten years since my mother died in my own arms. It seems almost fitting that my father meets a similar fate within a month of that date."

She closed her eyes and exhaled a shuddering breath.

"November the tenth... a day that will always haunt me..."

Leela looked down and let out a sigh too.

"I'm sorry, Alesia," she said. "I... I didn't know..."

The longhaired girl just turned away.

Leela suddenly put on a forced smile. "Look... let's contact the Professor now... get our minds off this sordid subject..."

Meanwhile, many, many light-years away on Earth, Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth tinkered inside a large computer console with some strange tools, mumbling random incoherent things. A light beige hued robot that hovered above the ground approached him. It spoke to him, a blue panel lighting up with every syllable it said.

"Task complete, Professor. All systems have been checked and are one-hundred percent faultless."

The Professor jumped, then sat up, whanging his head on the casing of the computer as he did. He didn't react much.

"I think I may have hit my head?" he speculated. He suddenly jumped and grabbed his forehead.

"Ow!" he exclaimed. "Oh yes... Definitely..."

"Professor?" the robot asked. "Do you wish me to repeat my report to you? I did not get a satisfactory acknowledgement."

"Eh-wha?!" the Professor exclaimed. He looked up at the robot and his face suddenly brightened. "Ooooh! No thanks, Bender... I heard you fine..."

"Bender?" the robot said. "I am not Bender, sir. I am Robot 1-X."

"Yes... yes..." the Professor said, waving his hand in a dismissal motion. A screen suddenly came on, on the console he was working on, and a familiar voice sounded on it.

"Professor? Are you there?"

"Leela?!" Farnsworth said, standing up and facing the screen with a smile. "Sweet Zombie Jesus... it is you!"

"Professor!" Leela smiled. "Thank God we got hold of you! Our monitor was out and we couldn't contact you."

"Is that Baron fellow still in control of my ship?" the Professor queried.

"Nope," Leela said, shaking her head. "He was killed. We have control now."

"Well, that's good news!" Farnsworth smiled. "Because I have some good news! There's a package here for you to deliver to Pythagoras Five, the triangle planet! Now that you're free of that menace, you can come home and deliver it!"

"Okay then," Leela nodded. "We'll be right there."

"NO!" Fry yelled, running over to get in sight of the camera so his ancient nephew could see him. "Don't make us come back, Professor! We have to save the universe!"

"Fry!" Leela said. "You heard the Professor! He wants us to go back!"

"Awwww, you're just chicken!" Fry accused. There was a collection of gasps from Amy, Bender and Zoidberg. Even a small one from Leela.

"What did you call me?!" she asked angrily.

"You heard me!" Fry said with an arrogant smirk, not planning to back down for a second. "You're a chicken! Quack, quack quack! Quack, quack quack!"

Fry danced around with his arms making wing-like motions. Leela sneered at him.

"Fine then!" she huffed, then turned back to the Professor. "I'm afraid we can't, Professor! We have to go and stop some planet eating thing!"

The Professor rubbed his chin with thought.

"Hmmmmm.... I don't know..." he mused.

"It's incredibly dangerous!" Fry said, leaning into the camera again. "In fact... we'll be lucky to come back alive!"

"Ohhh!" Farnsworth exclaimed with a large smile. "In that case it's settled! Good luck everybody!"

"Thanks, Professor," nodded Leela. "We'll keep in touch."

"Wait!" said Hermes from behind, suddenly appearing to the crew. "We have some things to tell you!"

The Jamaican turned to the Professor. "Rememb'a... De good news, Professah...?"

"Oh, yes! Of course!" Farnsworth smiled. "There's a package here for you to deliver to Pythagoras Five, the triangle pla--"

"No!" said Hermes. "De other good news!"

"Eh-wha?!" Farnsworth exclaimed.

Hermes sighed.

"De news you was going to tell dem if dey were still searching for dose gems with de Baron... in ordah to speed up de operation and get dem back home..."

"You knew we were looking for the gems?" Fry asked.

"Oh, yes..." the Professor nodded. "We worked it all out!"

"How?" Fry queried.

"Oh, that's not important!" Farnsworth said, waving his hand swiftly in a "don't ask" motion. "The important thing is we have some information that could help you all out."

"Wow!" Fry smiled. "Really?!"

"Yes!" Farnsworth nodded. "You see... I have a good friend who knows a bit about this sort of thing on the planet of Laplace! He's a mathematician, historian and scientist known as Professor Smatt. Go and see him... he should be able to help you out with what you need to know."

"Thanks, Professor," Leela nodded. Her eye suddenly noticed something and bulged.

"Wait! What's that on the TV?!" she asked.

The Professor, Hermes and Robot 1-X moved aside to reveal Morbo and Linda presenting the news. Above Linda was a small screen with the words 'Tribute to a Hero' and a picture of Zapp Brannigan. Leela zoomed the camera in on the screen, and Linda spoke.

"Tonight... a planet weeps. Tomorrow, they'll have a chance to weep officially, as the funeral ceremony for legendary DOOP Captain Zapp Brannigan and all the other men who have lost their lives to this planet-devouring monstrosity. Tonight... we honour Captain Brannigan's memory too."

The scene cut to Morbo, who was uncharacteristically crying.

"Morbo weeps for this great man!" the large green news monster blubbered. "Never has Morbo come across anyone who has killed so many puny humans, in such a great number and in such brutal and senseless fashions! MORBO AND HIS RACE SALUTE AND ENVY THIS GREAT MAN!!!"

Morbo broke down into fits of crying, while Linda just laughed mindlessly at him. The camera zoomed in on her again as she continued.

"Truly, Zapp Brannigan will be in the hearts of the people of earth. Many will remember him for his many victories over other races in space. Just last month, he defeated the arsonists of the planet Auto-Da-Fe 10, as seen in this clip..."

The screen above Linda's head zoomed in to take up the whole screen, showing Zapp speaking into a microphone with Kif standing behind him amongst some tall buildings. An off-screen voice spoke.

"Captain Brannigan... how are you planning to defeat these arsonists... ones that have eluded capture for well over five years now?"

"My plan is simple..." the arrogant Captain beamed. "I simply covered the whole capital city in flammable gasoline in order to lure these arsonists into the open! When they come out with their fire... the men I have placed hidden within these buildings will fire upon them... thus killing and defeating them forever! Now all we have to do is wait..."

The scene switched back to Morbo, who had now composed himself once again.

"Two minutes later, the arsonists of Auto-Da-Fe 10 were defeated! With the city destroyed, there was nothing left for them to burn down, and they thus left the planet forever."

Morbo turned to his left to look at a picture of Zapp standing proudly on the screen above Linda. He saluted it.

"Captain Brannigan... we salute you!"

"Oh my God!!" Leela exclaimed with shock. "Zapp is dead?!!

"Well globviously!" said Amy in a huff. "Everybody knows that!"

"I didn't," said Fry.

"Me neither!" Bender growled.

"Ditto," added Zoidberg.

Leela glared at Amy.

"Wait! How exactly did you know?!"

"Kif told me a couple of days ago," she said.

"What?!!" Leela yelled. "How did you talk to Kif!"

"We'll just go now!" the Professor said quickly and nervously. "Toodle-Ooo!"

The monitor went black and Leela continued to glare at Amy, who was looking a bit submissive now.

"He called me up when I was piloting the ship for you on the way to Verrone Five," she smiled nervously. Leela growled, half angry rage, half whine.

"Why didn't you tell us that Zapp was dead?!!"

"Uhh... I guess it just..... slipped my mind..."

"Hey, relax!" Fry said, standing between them. "I thought you hated Zapp, Leela?!"

"I do," she nodded. "But I still didn't wish him to be killed! Did Kif explain how he died?"

Amy shook her head.

"I didn't even know it was the same monster we're trying to destroy that attacked them!" she said. "Not until now! He just said the planet they were on was attacked!"

"He must have been eaten by that monster!" speculated Zoidberg.

"Well... maybe he's still alive inside it?!" mused Fry. "Like that guy who was eaten by Moby Dick in the Bible..."

"Well... there's not much we can do about it," Leela sighed. "We might as well just head to Laplace an--"

Leela cut herself off as the whole ship shook, knocking everybody around.

"What was that?!!" asked Fry. Leela checked her console's display.

"According to this... we're caught in the tractor beam of another ship!!" she said. "That and you can see it out the window...!"

Everybody gasped, especially Fry and Alesia.

"That ship!" Fry said. "It's the same ship that captured Alesia and I and took us to Verrone Five!"

"Space pirates?!!" Leela asked.

"Exactly!" Fry nodded. "Space pirates that go under the command of one known as Captain Peck!"

"Can you free us?!" Amy asked Leela desperately.

"I'm trying!" Leela said between gritted teeth. "But pressing random buttons and pulling random levers isn't working!!"

She looked up and out the window straight ahead of her again, watching as they got closer and closer to the other ship.

"And we're being pulled into it!!"