Futurama

Fan Fiction

Futurama: Universe of Malice, Part 18
By Kenneth White

Chapter 18 - Nightmares of Prophesy?

Darkness was broken by vehement light, and the sound of a distant, but deep and wreathing, voice.

"YOU!" it echoed around him. Amazing considering there were no surrounding entities for sound to reverberate off. This Fry didn't see until his eyes adjusted to the glare, and he slowly rose to his feet from the hard surface he lay upon.

"Yeargh!"

Fry jumped with a scream, almost toppling over as he saw that what he stood upon was only just large enough to hold him. As he steadied himself, he looked around.

"Wow!"

The exclamation of awe was nothing more than a whispering breath. The bright, pearly-white horizon stretched endlessly around him, a vast blanket of apricot pink cloud encompassing everything both below and above it. A refreshingly cool breeze whispered across Fry's left cheek and rustled his hair slightly, accompanied by a soothing and tranquil whistle that seemed to sing from the peachy clouds themselves. For a brief moment, Fry forgot he was standing on such a small area and just took a moment to relax in the calming surrounding. Then, the lack of logic came to him.

"Wait?" he said to himself. "Where am I? Why am I here? What happened?"

He looked down, examining his support. It seemed to be a tall, thin rocky tor, not unalike some of the ones on Delphine, though coloured a reddish brown rather than dull grey. It appeared to disappear down into the flossy clouds beneath.

"YOU!"

The voice suddenly echoed around Fry again, causing him to almost topple off the edge. He steadied himself, sighing with relief, and looked around nervously. Turning to examine the area, he caught a glimpse of something familiar in the distance.

"Guys?!" he yelled.

Waving back at him in the distance stood Leela, Bender, Amy, Alesia and Zoidberg. They also appeared to be standing upon a tall rock platform, one that could just hold them. He couldn't help but notice though how Bender was back in his normal body, which seemed strange.

"Do you know how we got here?!" he yelled across at them. There came no response, just blank stares and continuous waving. Before he could ask anything further though, the structure they stood upon began to slowly lower into the clouds.

"No, wait! Come back!!"

Fry's plea didn't stop them from sinking away, and in less than a minute, they disappeared completely from his sight. He looked concerned.

"Okay," he said to himself in a defeated sigh. "This has to be a dream... It must be!"

Fry felt a sudden jerk underneath him, causing him to scream and attempt to steady himself. He gazed downwards in shock as the platform began to break away. Despite all efforts to regain balance, he eventually fell from the unstable structure, and began to plummet into the clouds. Just before his vision became a whirring fog though, he did hear the voice another time.

"YOU!!"

"YEEEEEEEEAAARRGH!!!"

Gravity pulled Fry through the misty haze as he screamed, the gelid wind burning his face and eyes as it tore across his body. Fry felt the speed and chill would kill him before he ever reached the ground... assuming there was a ground. But then, Fry began to slow. His rocketing descent became more of a float, but his vision was still hampered by the cloud.

"YOU!!"

The voice boomed around him again amongst the fog. If this wasn't scary enough for Fry, a distant and constant sound wafted up from below. A sound that froze Fry's blood. A sound he had heard before. A sound, which was getting closer.

"Oh, please God, NO!!" Fry shuddered.

The mist began to slowly clear, the sound became a roar, and Fry's plea blared into a scream. A searing tangerine radiance burned against his form, and hellish flames of fear shone in his eyes. A blistering wind of pure pain tore across his skin, as for the second time in the past few days, Fry found himself staring into the demonic mouth of the planet-devouring leviathan. It screeched at him from below, the metal surface around the mouth shining with the vile red reflection of its own pestilent flare.

Fry held his hands out as he began to be pulled down into the mouth, yelling at the top of his lungs and watching his own hands slowly burn away right in front of his eyes. Then, everything became a blinding white-hot before only darkness returned, and a final noise echoed into his mind.

"YOU!!!"

 

 

CLANK!

Fry rolled over to the sound, and the heat around him diminished somewhat.

"Wake up!" a strange voice said to him. "You almos' burnt yourself!"

Fry slowly let his eyelids part from each other and looked across from the lying down position he now realized he was in. It looked like somebody was leaning against a wall not too far from him.

"You dang near rolled into that energy field, man!" the stranger said to him, his voice sounding a bit like that of a jazz musician's.

Fry blinked a bit and let the voice's owner come into focus. It turned out to be a thin, rusty coloured robot. His dimly glowing optics were half closed and his mouth flashed when he spoke. He seemed somewhat friendly, and he wasn't leaning against the wall, he was in a sitting position with his thin arms hanging from a set of wall manacles.

"You were lucky my foot kicking the floor woke you up, man! You were gonna get yourself a nasty tan if I hadn't."

The robot flicked his head to Fry's right as he spoke. Fry looked and saw a glowing red transparent force field covering up a large opening. It looked like he was in a cell. The robot's lazy eyes opened a bit more for a brief second and he made an impressed sound.

"Looks like some of your friends are startin' to stir too," he remarked.

Fry turned his head to see Leela on her hand and knees, the other hand grasping her forehead, and Zoidberg sitting up with a groaning whoop. Fry smiled and crawled over towards them.

"Are you guys alright?" he asked them.

Leela opened her eye and looked at him. She smiled and nodded, but then grimaced again.

"What happened? Where are we?"

"Looks like we're in a cell of some kind," Fry said, indicating the energy-sealed exit. "Where, I don't know?"

"You're on the ship of a pirate known as Captain Peck," the chained up robot said simply from behind Fry. Amy, Alesia and Nibbler were stirring now too. Bender's eyes flicked on with life as well.

"That's right, now I remember!" Leela said, standing up. "We came under attack by those stupid pirates! The last thing I remember is the tractor beam grabbing our ship, and then... darkness..."

"They must have used some kind of sleep ray on us?" Fry speculated.

"But sleep rays don't exist," Leela stated.

"Oh, what about nap rays?" Fry queried.

"No," Leela stated.

"Slumber rays?"

"Nope."

"How about hibernation rays?"

"No," she said shaking her head. "Although I've heard of experimental Sandman rays..."

Fry looked past Leela towards the others.

"You guys all alright?" he asked them. A series of mumbled affirmatives came as the response.

"We have to find a way out of here!" Leela said firmly. "I'm getting kind of sick of being captured all the damn time!"

"You and me both, sister!" Zoidberg huffed.

"I know!" Fry said. "Bender can bend the bars!"

"You idiot!" said Leela. "This cell doesn't even have bars! It's sealed by that energy shield"

"Well... he can bend the shield then," Fry suggested. Leela rolled her eye and sighed.

"In either case, if you haven't noticed... I'm not currently in my handsome, bending body any more, Fry!" Bender corrected.

Leela looked at her arm and groaned.

"Great! They took my wrist thingy again!"

"Well, it's not as if they'd let you keep it!" Fry snorted. "I mean... it is a tool that can be used for escaping sometimes!"

Leela was about to respond, but the sound of approaching footsteps stopped her. From behind the orange flux, two pirates appeared. One a blue-skinned alien, the other definitely human. And both with nasty swords. The human one spoke in a thick, haughty accent like that of an English aristocrat, which suited his equally haughty stance, his nose slightly upwards as he stood as if at attention.

"Captain Peck would like to see you all now," he said from behind thin beard as the other pirate disabled the beam. "Chop, chop now!"

A little wave from the tip of his sword encouraged them to leave and walk towards the right. Nibbler tried to leave with them, only to be kicked back into the cell by the blue pirate.

"Not you, runt!" he growled as Nibbler squealed with a backwards tumble. Leela flinched and gasped, but did nothing more. The snooty pirate began to lead them up some metal stairs while the other activated the shield once again, sealing in Nibbler and the chained up robot again. Not that the latter of the two could easily escape.

As they were coaxed up the stairs, Fry, who was at the back of the group, spoke: "This ship looks different than the one Alesia and I were on before..."

"Most possible," the pirate said. "We have quite a few ships at our disposal. You were probably aboard Captain Peck's standard battleship, the one she is usually in when we pillage the Avanzino Galaxy. This is her special warship, which is far larger, tougher and more armed. It is only used for special and slash or dangerous missions external to the galaxy."

"What's so special that it's being used for now?" Fry asked him. "She didn't just come to get Alesia and I because we escaped earlier, did she?"

"You'll find out soon enough," the pirate uttered simply.

The stairs ended, and in front of them was a large, but primitive, platform elevator. It basically consisted of a fairly thick plate of steel or iron big enough for them all to stand on. As they did, they could see grooves in the walls on either side, disappearing up into the vertical passageway above them. In these grooves were thick metal chains attached to the lift. When everybody was on, the blue pirate pulled a large, ungainly lever on the wall nearby, and with a modest creaking of chains, scraping of metal and turning of cogs, they ascended. The human pirate turned to them all.

"Oh, and one last thing before you meet the Captain..." he said, sounding as if it was an important detail he had nearly forgotten. "She's quite... uh... large in some ways..."

Everybody just stared at him for a while. Leela broke it with a clueless "Huh?!"

"Well..." he continued, then gave his throat a sound clearing. "Let's just say she has certain... anatomical features that are quite... ample. Very ample... Huge in fact!"

"Really?" Fry said, cocking an eyebrow, before quickly looking sceptical again. "Wait... is she grossly overweight?"

Leela rolled her eye, while Alesia looked a little miffed. The pirate just looked shocked.

"Goodness, no!" he responded. "She's has quite an attractive figure! She's just half human, and the other species she is part of naturally has these rather larger than humanly normal... body parts..."

"Why are you telling us this?" Leela asked while Fry nodded simply, a frown still on her face.

"Well, basically these immense body structures of hers can often cause others to gawp, or stare or make inappropriate comments about her," he explained. "Which can lead to unpleasantness for the offenders. So don't say or do anything you may regret."

"I dunno," said Fry rubbing his chin. "I mean... if her punishment is squeezing the offender to death between these... large objects... then it may just be a death worth taking into consideration..."

Fry got a swift slap on the cheek, which surprised both him and Leela because she wasn't the one to dispense it, Alesia had.

Fry smiled at her nervously. "Sorry... I was just kidding around..."

She just stared up at him angrily, but before any words could pass her lips, the lift began to slow, and the humanoid pirate spoke.

"We're almost there... when we reach the top, just walk straight ahead down the corridor until you come to some double doors."

The lift halted, revealing a long passageway lined with different doors. This part of the vessel looked more like the internal rooms of a pirate ship, with dark brown wood, circular porthole windows in the dense wooden doors, thick rope for handrails along the walls and hard brown floorboards. The slaves began to walk ahead as they had been instructed.

"I'm really, really sorry!" Fry whispered to Alesia, who was still looking rather annoyed. "I didn't mean to be so..."

"Immature?" she finished his sentence.

"Yeah," he sighed. "I shouldn't be such a... Um..."

"Guy?" Alesia said, finishing his sentence again. He just nodded.

They stopped at the double doors, and the human pirate walked past them and up to the doors, then turned to face them.

"She is in here, so one last warning... try not to stare or anything, and definitely avoid any crude comments!"

He opened the doors and led the captured crew into a large, roundish room. This seemed to resemble the same room Fry and Alesia were brought to when they met Commander Sebastian on the other ship, though the empty throne in the centre of the room was larger and not as damaged. On a smaller throne beside it sat a familiar foe, Commander Sebastian. Lieutenant Tommassello stood before him, speaking to him. She turned and he smiled and stood up.

"Excellent!" he growled. "I shall inform the Captain of your arrival!"

He walked away, making for an opened doorway at the back of the room, while Lieutenant Tommassello approached the prisoners with a hard stare on her face. She looked at the two pirates who had led them in.

"Excellent work, Lieutenant Eade, Ensign Cooper," she said before drawing her sword and glaring down at the captives. "Kneel, pigs!!"

Instructions from somebody with a sword weren't usually disputed, and this case was no exception. With in the next few seconds of being on their knees, the group saw Commander Sebastian emerge from the doorway once again. He strode to a spot right beside the throne and made the announcement.

"Presenting, Captain Peck! Scourge of the Avanzino Galaxy!"

All eyes focused on the door as a figure emerged, and there were obvious eye bulges from the submissive prisoners.

"Eeep!" Zoidberg couldn't help but utter. "They're huge!"

"Yowza!" Bender said.

"They're the biggest ones I've ever seen!" Amy gasped. "Far bigger than mine!"

"My God!" Leela added with a gasp.

"Oh my!" Alesia exclaimed.

"Eh... they're alright... I guess," shrugged Fry simply. "But I've definitely seen them far bigger! One time, I found this video under my brother Yancy's bed with Pamela Anderson and Carmen Elektraaaaoowwwww!!"

"Silence!" a strong female voice uttered, as Fry took a nasty slap to the face, causing his sentence to form into an exclamation of pain. "You dare make fun of Captain Peck?!!"

"Sorry!" he said, rubbing his cheek. "But I'm just telling the truth. Now... your ears on the other hand... now those are big!"

"Shut up!!" the voice ordered again, then Fry took a slap to the other cheek.

"Yea'ouch!"

Captain Peck stepped back and regarded them, as they did her. She was a fairly tall woman, with long chocolate coloured hair and a mean stare from the eye not hidden behind a patch. She had a thin nose and blood red lips on a slim round head, which sat upon a thin neck attached to an attractive, athletic body. Her forearms had brown leather armguards with thick gold plates, her right upper arm wrapped in a golden spiral armlet, while a cutlass was held in the hand at the other end of it. Her upper, well-endowed body was clothed in a short, tight black tank top that revealed her midriff, showing a golden stud in her navel. A thick black belt with a golden buckle held a pair of rough blue trousers upon her hips, fairly tight above the knees, but baggy below them and covered in patches. The legs of the pants were turned up slightly upon reaching a pair of thick brown boots half way between her knee and ankle, and wrapped with a thick golden buckle. But as Fry had noted, the ! most distinguishing feature was her extremely large, round ears, which looked like a pair of wings jutting out from the side of her head, with several studs as big as grapes and rings the size of bracelets in them. It was only now that Fry realised the mistake he had made, and Lieutenant Eade leaned in towards his Captain.

"Ma'am, it may interest you to know that the scruffy, red-haired fellow you just slapped made some rather nasty remarks earlier... something about you squeezing him to death with your ears."

Captain Peck sneered at Fry and slapped him again.

"Ow!" he exclaimed. "Hey, it was a misunderstanding! I thought he was talking about your breasts!"

Fry got another slap from the Captain.

"Ow!!"

And then another from Alesia, who was kneeling beside him.

"Hey! Ouch! Man... I said I was sorry!"

"Look... we all love to slap Fry," started Leela, "but can we cut to the chase and get to the point of why we're being captured?"

"Certainly," said Captain Peck simply. "You're all here because of this..."

She pulled something out of the pocked in her trousers. It was the green gem.

"It's just a pretty rock... so what?!" Leela huffed.

"Don't play stupid with me!" Captain Peck yelled. "I know what this is! Now what I want to know is where you're going with it?!"

There was nothing but silence from the captives. Peck sighed.

"Perhaps Sebastian here could be more convincing?"

The Commander grinned from ear to ear, holding up both his claws and wandering over to them.

"I've learnt the spots on a human to stab these things to maximise pain while prolonging life!" he growled, squatting in front of them. "There's one in the side of the stomach here that's most effective..."

He held his left claw just a few millimetres from the side of Alesia's abdomen.

"That's enough, Commander," Captain Peck said. He turned to her and grunted, then stood up and walked back to his seat. The Captain continued, "There is also going through the mind probe." She warned, "Very few come through that experience with their minds intact!"

Fry was about to say something and opened his mouth, but stopped when Captain Peck looked directly at him.

"And before you object and tell me about what happened with you and your pretty long-haired friend earlier, we know you had blanked your minds before we tried the machine."

This shut Fry up, but not Leela.

"Wait a minute! How exactly did you find us?! And how do you know about the so-called power of the gem?!"

"Simple," Captain Peck said, taking a seat in her throne. "We overheard you talking about it on Verrone Five just before you escaped and placed a tracking device on your ship. We arrived at Delphine when you were just leaving by the look of it."

"Why'd it take you so long to find us then?" Bender queried.

"Well... we needed to sort out some business at home regarding the Seilarch," Peck replied. "Well... that and we took a little detour to pick somebody up..."

"Who?!" Leela asked angrily.

Captain Peck smirked, then turned her head towards the door she had come through earlier.

"That's your cue?!" she called. So sooner did she, when a strange-shaped figure entered the room and took a stance beside the Captain. Zoidberg, Amy, Bender and Leela all gasped.

"You!!" Leela said with an angry gasp. "You bastard! You sold us out!!"

The large green grin of Don Pardini turned into a scowl behind the transparent dome around his head and his tentacles waved randomly in anger.

"Silence!" he growled. "What I do with the information given to me is my business!"

"I knew Don Pardini here was an expert on gems, so I went to see him so that I could get more information on these powerful items," Captain Peck sneered, patting the dome around the Don. "He kindly informed me about you... which I thankfully already know about thanks to overhearing what was said on Verrone Five... and we came looking for you."

"What was it, Pardini?!" Leela growled. "How did she pay you off?! Free slaves?! A few chests of golden plunder?!"

"Oh no!" smiled Don Pardini widely. "Nothing like that at all!"

He opened a hatch on the front of his dome and put one of his large tentacles around Captain Peck's shoulder. She leaned in towards him, putting her face as far inside the dome's opening as her ears would allow, and they both began to passionately kiss, Pardini wrapping more tentacles around her body as they did. The entire crew began to make noises and comments of cringing and disgust as they observed the act, Bender yelling "OH MY GOD!!" and Amy saying "Spleecch!" amongst them. The kiss eventually stopped after what seemed like far too long.

"That was disgusting!" added Fry.

"Silence!!" came a deep yell, and Fry was promptly slapped by a long, green tentacle.

"Don Pardini and I have been an item for a while now," Captain Peck said with an almost friendly smile. "We actually met before he mutated in Argentina on Earth."

"It's not often we get to work together," he added with a nod, closing the dome hatch.

"So!" Captain Peck said forcefully, her mean streak returning. "We are very interested as to where you're heading next! We think you may be after some more of these things?"

"Don't tell them, guys!" Fry whispered. He soon took another slap from Pardini.

"Silence human!"

"What do you mean by 'human?''" Fry asked, rubbing the left side of his face, which was pretty damn red now. "Your girlfriend is partly human herself!"

"He actually used to be human himself too..." added Bender.

Pardini slapped Fry again.

"Silence, purebred human!" he yelled.

"Better," Fry smiled weakly.

"Enough of this!" Captain Peck yelled, standing up. "You have five seconds to tell me where you're going, or either your minds are mine or you'll find Sebastian's hooks in you... your choice!! Five..."

Everybody looked at Leela. After all, she was generally the boss. She looked rather conflicted.

"Four..."

"Don't do it, Leela!" Zoidberg whispered.

"Three..."

"Make up a place!" Bender suggested.

"Two..."

Leela looked towards the pirate Captain with a narrowed eye of contempt.

"One..."

"Laplace!" Leela blurted out. "We're going to the planet Laplace..."

There was a long silence, everybody looking at a frustrated Leela.

"Why?" Captain Peck asked.

"We're going to talk to an expert scientist called Professor Smatt."

"Ah, yes!" Pardini's face lit up. "Professor Smatt! He should definitely know at least a little more about the gems."

"We know that somebody else killed your boss, Baron Steinmann, and took his gem and staff piece," noted Captain Peck. "We'll be interested to find out who that was."

Don Pardini whispered something to Captain Peck and she nodded. He turned his head almost completely around.

"Sin! Cos! Tan!" he yelled. Three mutated male humans, all with the same mutation of a nose on their forehead and dressed in black suits with their names on and masks arrived from a doorway. They also held pirate swords.

"Take them to the galley to peel potatoes while we decide what to do with them!" Don Pardini told them.

"Sí!" they all said simultaneously, then walked over to the crew.

"Very good," Peck said with an evil grin. "Eade!" she called.

"Yes, Captain," the lieutenant answered in his poncy tone.

"You may return to your post, but expect a decision from me soon regarding the fate of these... wannabe heroes!"

"Yes, Ma'am!"

"Tommassello!" Peck called. The fellow female pirate responded.

"Yes, Captain?"

"Go to the bridge and set course for Laplace!"

"Aye aye, Captain!"

The crew were exiled from the room before they could observe anything else, and swiftly lead back down the hallway. However, instead of getting back on the lift, they turned left down another passageway, then were pushed through two swinging doors into a tall, square room. On one side of the room were sacks of potatoes, on the other was a big wide chute, and in the middle were some strange machines on a table.

"Here we go!" said Sin gruffly. "The potato peeling room. Get working until we say otherwise!"

"We'll be just outside the door," added Tan. And with that, they left.

"Well... we might as well get started. What are we supposed to peel the potatoes with?" Fry asked with a shrug.

"These machines," sighed Leela, pointing at the appliances lined up along the long bench in the centre of the room. "Peelomatic three-thousands."

"That's not so bad," Fry smiled.

"Are you kidding?!" Leela burst. "It's horrible!!"

"Yeah, pure torture!" whined Amy.

"What the hell are you talking about?!" Fry stammered. "It's so simple..."

He walked over and picked up a potato lying on the floor, then walked back to one of the machines.

"See... you just put it in the top..."

He demonstrated, the machine making a loud scraping noise afterwards.

"And within seconds it comes out the bottom!"

In about ten seconds of him popping it in, the potato came out the other end, fully peeled. Fry smiled at his friends who all wore shocked expressions, except for Alesia who just seemed clueless.

"I saw an old infomercial with Ron Popeil's Head advertise them once," he noted.

"I can't believe you did that!" said Amy with a shudder.

"Yeah!" Bender snorted. "We have to use these primitive Peelomatic three-thousands instead of the much faster Peelomatic four-thousands!!"

"It's so labour intensive!!!" Zoidberg yelled, followed by a high-pitched scream.

"Now... now..." Leela said, trying to calm the others down. "Let's be sensible here! After all... we all know Fry is used to primitive technology."

There was mumbles of agreement between Amy, Zoidberg and Bender. Fry just rolled his eyes.

"Man! Back in the twentieth century, I had to use a knife!"

They all screamed. Leela quickly walked over toe Fry and shook him.

"There's no need to tell horror stories to make us work!" she said to him. "We'll start peeling..."

"He's worse than the pirates and slave drivers!" added Zoidberg with a quick snort.

"... perhaps we can try to think of a way out of this place while we're at it?" Leela continued. "If only we knew where they put the ship?!"


"There's a ship!" Zapp yelled excitedly. "In not to shabby'a shape either!"

He and Baldur had been walking for ages now, and Zapp was exhausted. They had only come across the conveyor belts again in the past ten minutes or so, and for the first time, there was a partially intact ship on one of them. It looked like a DOOP fighter.

"About damn time!!" Baldur snorted. "Stand back!"

Baldur shot a small blast of energy into the side of the ship from his hand, knocking it from the conveyor and onto the flat metallic surface just beyond it.

"We don't need to damage it any more than it already is!" Zapp scorned.

"If you've got any better ideas, I'd like to hear them!!" Baldur yelled back. "Well... I really wouldn't, but... you know what I mean!"

"How about gently lifting it off?" Zapp suggested, moving his hands as if to pick something up and place it elsewhere.

"Lifting?!" Baldur repeated. "Bah! I don't do lifting! Weaklings, like you, do lifting... I, do blasting!"

"Fine!" said Zapp dryly, making his way towards the dislodged craft. "But I'll blame you if the bulkhead, or bilge pump, or something else is destroyed..."

Baldur snorted and watched him go, then responded after a good five seconds.

"Blame me for anything, and I'll blast you!"

Zapp ignored the threat. In fact, by this time he had gotten so used to them, he just kind of blocked them out. He examined the craft, then slammed his palm into a red button on it. The canopy opened, and Zapp screamed like a girl.

"What's wrong now?!" Baldur snorted before wandering over. Zapp just pointed inside the opened cockpit, and when Baldur glanced in he smiled.

"Well... well... What do we have here?" he said.

"A dead fighter pilot!" said Zapp. "A dead DOOP fighter pilot with a twisted head!"

"To the negative thinker... Yes," said Baldur.

"Uh-huh..." Zapp answered sceptically. "And to the positivistical thinker?"

"Fresh meat," Baldur smiled. Zapp jumped.

"What?! You can't eat him!"

"I can eat whatever I want!" Baldur growled back.

"But he's a soldier of the DOOP!" Zapp said. "And all DOOP soldiers get to die with meaningless dignity!"

"That's fine," shrugged Baldur. "Doesn't mean after he's dead he can't be a snack. I'd have killed and eaten you, except for one thing..."

"What's that?" asked Zapp nervously.

"Now that I know your personality... It'd feel really disturbing!"

"Can't we just concentrate on finding a way out of here?" Zapp smiled nervously. "This place is starting to really mess with my head! I mean... there have been moments where I haven't been thinking about sex! It really scares me!"

"Fine!" Baldur snorted. "I'll just take him out and store him over there for later..."

Baldur grabbed the body with one hand and flicked it over his shoulder. It flew ungainly through the air and hit the ground with a nasty crunch, then slid a little while.

"Besides..." the stout warrior continued. "I don't have any juice to wash it down with... what's the point of a nice hunk of roasted meat without a glass of fresh juice?!"

"Eh... right! Right!" Zapp said nervously, his eyes flicking back and forth. "So... any ideas how to fix this thing?"

"What?!" yelled Baldur. "I thought you knew how to fix things?!!"

"No way! I only know how to captain them..."

"You mean 'command' them?"

"No, I haven't been a commander for years now... I captain ships now."

"Well, I only know how to destroy ships!" Baldur snorted. Zapp sighed.

"Well then... looks like we'll both have to take a crack at it then. It can't be too hard to do..."

Zapp examined the ship, then saw something on the outside of it.

"How about we look under this panel near the engines?" he suggested, pointing at the object. "First we'll need to find a screwdriver to pry if o--"

Zapp cut himself off as Baldur simply ripped it off with one hand and threw it aside. As it rattled across the metal ground, Zapp shot Baldur a sour glare.

"You'd better hope the ship doesn't need that panel to stay air-tight!"

"Don't care!" shrugged Baldur. "If need be, I can always use the helmet from that dead guy!"

"Then what will I wear?"

"I don't care!" Baldur snorted. "That's your problem! Besides... the circuit board behind that panel is fried!"

"Really?" Zapp said in disbelief before turning towards the revealed circuitry. "How can you tell?"

Baldur shot a small energy bolt past Zapp's nose and into the circuit cards and chips, burning them all and causing a large puff of black smoke.

"Call it a hunch," he sneered with an evil snigger.

Zapp wiped the black soot from his face and glared at Baldur. "Dammit! How the hell are we supposed to escape if you keep doing stuff like that?!"

"Shut up, fool!" Baldur snapped back. "Any idiot can see that the engines are completely screwed anyway! We'll need to find another ship!"


"So it's agreed then?" Leela said firmly, popping another potato into her machine. "We all just hold tight until we get to Laplace, then we escape."

Everybody nodded, simultaneously putting potatoes into their machines too.

"Wait..." said Zoidberg. "What are the logical reasons for that decision?"

Leela sighed.

"Because we're going there anyway, we have no idea where the ship is and there's no way we'd be able to outrun or outgun 'em if we did manage to escape... we only just went over this!"

"I know," nodded Zoidberg. "But my mind was billions of miles away and I wanted you to reiterate in order to get me up to speed."

"Okay then," Leela nodded firmly. "In the meantime... I guess we just peel these potatoes until we get there with these horrible machines!"

"Bah! I can peel potatoes more efficiently than these things!" Zoidberg snorted, clacking his claws together swiftly. "Observe!"

He grasped a potato between his pincers carefully, then flicked it into his mouth. He made some swift movements with chewing sounds, then spat put the peel on the ground, all in only about five seconds.

"See... much more efficient," he said proudly.

"Yeah, but where's the potato?" Fry asked.

"Oh... Now all the questions and accusations begin, do they?!" the lobster growled.

"Won't we need to figure out an escape plan so that we're ready when we do get there?" Fry queried Leela, ignoring Zoidberg. "That way, we'll be ready when we get there."

"Perhaps... but we may get put somewhere else between now and then," Leela mused, rubbing her chin. "There wouldn't be much point in planning an escape from this room if we're going to be somewhere else... like back in the cell with Nibbler. Whom, by the way Bender, we're not leaving behind!"

"Would it help if I told you I filled up the gas cylinder in my blowtorch before we were captured?" Bender asked.

"Definitely!" smiled Leela.

"Yeah!" Fry added. "We can use it to melt the bars if we're back in the cell!"

"Oh..." Bender responded. "Well... too bad, 'cause I really didn't!"

He started laughing, while everybody else just groaned.

"We'll think of something when the time comes," Leela said.

The door behind them all opened swiftly, and in stepped Lieutenant Eade with Sin, Cos and Tan.

"The Captain has decided your fate," he stated dryly. "You are to be sold as slaves on Laplace when we get there, while your ship will also be sold. In the meantime, Sin, Cos and Tan will return you to your cell."

"How much travel time until we reach Laplace?" Leela asked gruffly.

"Eight hours and twenty seven minutes."


The Slug People of Limacidae 7 never suspected to come under attack, and had little defences when they did. Their world was a vast purple landscape with pink skies and green water, which made for a very strange environment. It suited the squishy inhabitants fairly well though... until a massive salt shaker in the form of a planet-devouring monstrosity arrived to their world.

It towered above them in the horizon, resembling a massive purple sun with a glowing red belly of fire behind their solferino atmosphere. The planet began to shake, as Tyrian purple palm trees with wide emerald leaves were torn from the soil and large maroon rocks fell about them, the latter sometimes squashing the odd blue or green slug fleeing for cover.

But there was no cover from a beast like this. A cave a billion miles deep wouldn't spare even the hardiest being from the wrath of this metal monster. On other planets, mountains and cliffs said to be carved by the gods themselves were reduced to a fine sand in seconds, and infinite oceans were drained of all life and substance. The vegetation was eroded to nothing before finally being torn to shreds. Certainly, few had seen such carnage first hand and survived to tell the tale. This was one of the oldest existing creations, around since before time itself. And the way it was going, it planned to last longer than time itself too. It was the alpha and the omega.

One thing that seemed to go through the minds of many of those attacked by it was wondering whether this was a god of some kind. If a god qualifies as an immortal being, controlling some part of the world or some aspect of life via great force, then this thing could be considered as such. There is no requirement in that definition that says that the being must be pure of heart, or even have a heart. Common is the notion that gods can incur great wrath. It may also be taken into consideration that a god must be something worshipped, which certainly was the case when it came to some of the last second prayers uttered up towards it from its victims before they were reduced to nothing. Literally, ashes to ashes... dust to dust...

But there was one large factor that goes against the theory... and that is that this beast wasn't a giver of life. In fact, quite the opposite. It was a taker of life. It only foreseeable goal was to eliminate all life in the universe. Certainly if gods did exist and this thing was a form of them... it would be the devil itself.

In either case, it wasn't long before the finally chunks of the planet were devoured, and this possible deity of death continued on its voyage. But though it seemed all-powerful, was it all seeing? All knowing? Did it know of he who observed its actions from afar? Did it sense his fear? Did it hear... his scream?


"YEEEEEEEEAAAARRRGHHH!!!!"

Fry sat up with a sudden jerk as he screamed, breathing heavily as beads of sweat ran down his face. The room was dark, with nothing but a pale blue light from a small window above and the orange glow from the shield for illumination.

"Are you okay, Fry?!" a friendly female voice consoled. Fry turned his head as he felt an arm around his shoulder to see a single eye staring at him with concern from behind a fringe of violet hair.

"Yeah..." he breathed. "I'm fine, Leela... Just a nightmare..."

"Okay then," she smiled. "It's time to get up anyway. We'll be arriving at Laplace in less than twenty minutes."

She moved away from him and began to wake the others. Fry just sat there, the final word he heard in that awful vision still echoing through his mind... haunting it like his brain was possessed by a scary spirit.

"You!" he whispered, saying the word out loud in a whisper as if he would understand it more that way.

"You, what?" Bender asked him, wheeling up beside him.

"Huh?" Fry muttered, his mind still away. He then snapped back to reality. "Oh... n-nothing, Bender. I was just talking to myself."

"Well don't!" Bender said, annoyed for no real reason. Leela stood before everybody.

"Okay! We're all awake?"

There was a collection of tired mumbles from everybody. None of them had had much opportunity to get much sleep over the past few days, so waking up after only about six hours of rest on a cold, hard surface had made them a bit cranky and sore. Especially Alesia, who was rubbing her back where Leela had prodded her. She suspected that Leela had poked her really hard on purpose.

"Good!" Leela said firmly. "Now I spent most of the time since we were brought back here thinking of how to escape."

"That, and you made cutesy noises at Nibbler," Bender added.

"Yeeees..." Leela admitted. "But anyway, I've thought of something."

"Ooh! Let me guess!" Fry said excitedly. "Does it involve you posing as Don Pardini's boot polisher and then getting some kind of ironic revenge?!"

Leela frowned.

"Fry... firstly, Don Pardini clearly doesn't wear boots. Secondly, no! And thirdly, you're an idiot!"

Fry hung his head with embarrassment. Leela continued.

"Now, my plan is this. We escape this cell, then we find some pirate clothes and mingle with the pirates until they land. Then, we rush to Professor Smatt's place before the pirates can and speak with him. We tell him who we are, and get him to convince the pirates to give him the gem so that he can check it out. He tells them it's a fake, and they leave."

There was an odd silence amongst the crew. Amy cleared her throat and dared to speak.

"No offense, Leela... but that's pretty stupid and far-fetched!"

"Yeah," nodded Fry. "And you usually come up with good plans too... but that has so many problems with it!"

"Hey, I'm tired and grumpy, okay?!" Leela huffed back. "It's been hard to think! I haven't had any real sleep for days, I haven't had a shower for ages, this stupid Umprar shirt is itchy and... things have really been getting on my nerves lately!"

She slumped down into a sitting position. Fry looked sympathetic.

"It's not that bad, Leela," he smiled. "In fact... the latter half is pretty good. But there's problems like... how we actually get out of here... where we find some pirate clothes without getting caught... how we mingle unnoticed... how we leave the ship before the landing party... how we get to Smatt first... how we get our ship back..."

"Yes, I know... you can stop now," Leela sighed. "But we've got less than fifteen minutes to work that out now."

"I couldn't help but overhear," said a voice from behind Leela. Everybody's attention went to the chained up robot.

"Yes?" Leela asked. "What is it?"

"Well... I may be able to help you out," he said. "I'm CAT-Scan Crothers, and the laundry room is down the corridor to the left and seven doors down on the right. Not only are there clothes there, but there's a hover bike port right next door. From there, you can exit from the ship undetected as soon as you arrive at the planet, which'll give you a head start."

"Great!" smiled Fry. "That takes care of most of the problems! But what about escaping this place in the first place."

"That's even easier, man!" CAT-Scan chuckled. "See that poster behind you of the famous female pirate, Raquel Welcher..."

Everybody turned to regard the poster, which showed an attractive woman wearing animal skins and holding two sacks of money while standing on a beaten up man.

"Another robot that used to be in here named Tandy Mainframe dug a tunnel behind it and escaped," CAT-Scan continued, making everybody gasp in shock. Amy crawled over and gently pulled the picture back and looked behind it.

"He's right," she noted. "It leads straight into an air duct by the look of it... we could crawl through it no problems. Except maybe Zoidberg..."

"Hey! I'm not fat!" Zoidberg argued in defence. "I'm just too short for my weight range..."

"How'd he manage that?!" Leela asked Crothers in awe. The robot chuckled.

"He had a special drill piece he hid inside his holed-out user manual."

"Let's go now then," said Fry, shaking Leela's shoulder. "Time is of the incense."

Amy had already crawled in and Zoidberg was lifting Zoidberg into the hole. Leela nodded at Fry, then turned back to CAT-Scan.

"You want to escape with us?" she asked him. He shook his head.

"Thanks man, but I'm supposed to be a captive," he chuckled. "It's all I'm programmed to do."

"Oh... okay then..." Leela said. "Well, thanks anyway."

And with those words of farewell, she crawled into the hole with the others.

"Where are we crawling?" she whispered to Fry, who was right in front of her.

"I dunno... Amy's leading the way."

"Well, we'd better hurry... I don't want them to find out we're missing anytime soon!" Leela noted. "Tell Amy to get out at the nearest clear duct hatch."

"Roger," nodded Fry. "Alesia... tell Amy to get out at the nearest clear duct hatch."

A few seconds later, Amy got the message.

"What?!"

"You heard me," said Bender. "Zoidberg said to get out at the nearest clear duck hat. It's a message from Leela."

"Well... I'll just look out the air duct hatches as we go along until we find a clear one then," she sighed. "I hope they haven't found out that we've escaped ye--"

Amy cut her speech short as a loud voice boomed from the other side of the wall.

"THE PRISONERS HAVE ESCAPED! ALERT CAPTAIN PECK!!"

 

 

Knock, knock, knock!

There were some strange shuffling sounds from behind the door to the Captain's room as soon as Lieutenant Tommassello knocked upon it. After a good five or more seconds of this, Captain Peck called from behind it, sounding a little annoyed and nervous.

"Who is it?!"

"Lieutenant Tommassello, Captain! I need to see you about something!"

There was a pause and some more shuffling, followed by an annoyed grunt.

"It'd better be important, Lieutenant?!" came Peck's response.

"It is, ma'am!"

Another groan of annoyance, and more shuffling.

"Enter then! Just don't turn on--"

Click!

"...the Light!" she sighed to complete her sentence.

"Captain, I'm afraid the p--"

Her announcement cut itself short as she looked around. The Captain was sitting up in the left side of her king-size bed, holding the edge of the sheets across her chest, which made sense since it appeared she was only wearing her eye patch at the moment. However, the odd thing wasn't that, but the fact that to her right was a massive dome-shaped bulge in the covers, almost two metres in height. The Captain's visible eye darted across at it quickly, then looked back at the Lieutenant.

"It's a very lumpy bed..." she smiled nervously. "Go on, Lieutenant."

"Uh... right..." Tommassello said. "Uh... anyway, it seems that the--"

"Eeep!"

Tommassello stopped talking again, as her Captain made a suddenly jump and squeal, her cheeks going red.

"Stopit!" she grumbled quietly, her voice aimed towards the strange bulge, before she regarded Tommassello again with a serious look. "Go on, Lieutenant."

"Uh... as I was saying, Captain... the pris--"

"Eeep! .... Isaidstopit!" came another squeal and quiet mumble. She gave a forced smile up at the Lieutenant.

"Don't mind me... I've just got the hiccups, that's all... go on..."

"Right..." Tommassello said, one eyebrow lifting sceptically. "Regarding the prisoners, Captain... it seems..."

She trailed off as a long, green tentacle suddenly slid out from under the covers at the foot of the left side of the bed and just sat there. Captain Peck became impatient as Tommassello just looked at it, not seeing it herself.

"Yes, Lieutenant..." she encouraged. The tentacle retracted again, and the Lieutenant jumped back into reality as it did.

"Oh, sorry Captain!" she apologised. "Anyway... the prisoners, Captain. It appears they've escaped."

This announcement was followed immediately by two sounds: An exclamation of "What?!!" and a gasp. The gasp came from the Captain, while the "What?!!" came from the odd gibbosity to her right. Peck suddenly looked angry and jerked her leg under the sheets towards the lump as she made a quiet yell.

"Quiet you!!"

There was a sound similar to that of somebody punching an empty glass jar, and the Captain immediately grimaced with a small cry of pain and started rubbing her right foot through the covers.

"I want everybody on the ship to do a ship wide search, Lieutenant!" she ordered, her voice still a little pained. "And I want them alive! Go now!"

"Yes, Captain," the Lieutenant responded, then she stepped back out the room and began to close the door.

"And Lieutenant!" the Captain yelled quickly, causing the officer to stop and listen.

"Yes, Captain?"

"If you tell anybody, and I mean anybody, of what you saw here..."

The Captain made a throat slitting motion with her right hand accompanied by an appropriate sound effect.

Tommassello nodded. "Yes, Captain," she said nervously, then the door closed.

 

 

Meanwhile, Amy peered out of another grate carefully.

"All right!" she exclaimed quietly. "It's actually the laundry room!"

She carefully opened up the hatch and peered around. It was definitely empty, and fairly dark too. She slipped and tumbled out with a squeal. Bender followed, rolling out and off the edge.

"Oww! My back!" a high-pitched exclamation followed.

"Sorry," Bender said simply, then rolled off the Chinese girl's back and onto the floor. Zoidberg's head popped out.

"About time!" he breathed heavily. "It's quite a squeeze in there, it is!"

He pulled himself out, then Nibbler and Alesia came out, followed by Fry and finally Leela. However, two passing pirates outside heard something.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"Whose in there?! Come out now!"

Everybody gasped. "We're trapped!" added Fry.

Leela looked around quickly, then saw something.

"Quickly! Into this chute before they find us!"

"Why does a laundry room have a garbage chute?" Fry queried, lifting up Bender to put him in.

"I dunno," Leela shrugged. "A place where they put their beyond repair, dirty clothes?"

"Well... I hope they at least wash them first," Fry cringed before letting go of Bender. There was a rattling sound as the little robot fell. Fry leapt in after him, followed by Zoidberg, Amy, and Alesia. Leela threw Nibbler down, then finally jumped in herself.

CRASH!!

The door burst open, and two cutthroat pirates stormed in. One growled, then spoke into a hand-held device.

"Captain Peck! Commander Sebastian! They've jumped into the garbage chute!"

Meanwhile, Fry left the chute's exit and landed in the dark, murky garbage pile below head first with a nasty splash. He emerged from the brown, grubby water, spitting and spluttering. Then, he looked around.

"Bender?! BENDER?!!" he called.

"I'm down here!" an angry voice said. Fry looked down to see him in a pile of discarded pirate underwear.

"YEEWWWWW!" Fry cringed. "So that's why they have a chute there!"

Zoidberg slashed down in front of Fry, quickly popping up again.

"Hooray! It's just like the water slide in New Jersey!"

A screaming Amy splashed down beside Zoidberg. She popped her head up and uttered "Splecch!" but was immediately landed on by Alesia. They both emerged a second time.

"Whoops... sorry!" Alesia smiled nervously.

Nibbler sploshed down between them, then as soon as he popped up, Leela landed on top of him. They both soon emerged as well.

"Now what do we do?!" Amy asked.

"We need to find a way out of here," Leela answered, looking around. "There must be some way the garbage gets dumped?"

"Yeah," said Fry. "Like opening up and shooting it out into the void of space!"

"They won't dump garbage into space," Amy snorted. "It's against the law."

"Yeah, like pirates are real law abiding!" Bender said, rolling his eyes.

"No hurry," Zoidberg said calmly. "There appears to be a few items of food in here anyway!"

He picked up an extremely mouldy submarine sandwich and gobbled it up. Everybody cringed.

"You disgust me, Zoidberg!" snorted Bender as he removed the last piece of discarded underpants from his head. He suddenly saw something and perked up.

"All right! Old robot porn videos from the 2950's!"

He picked up a few and looked at the covers.

"Circuitry from Slut... Technostripper... CyberOrgy... Hookers Omi--"

CEEEE-RRREEEEAAAAK!

"Bender... please tell me that was you that made that noise?" asked Fry nervously.

"Well... I could tell you it was me, buuuut, I'd be lying if I did..."

 

 

Meanwhile, in a dark room filled with displays and monitor banks, a pirate turned his head nervously.

"Are you sure you want to do this, Captain?"

"Yes, do it!" snapped Captain Peck cruelly. "They've bothered me enough already, and I have no further need for them."

"Yes, ma'am," the pirate nodded, and he began to slowly pull at a lever on his console.

 

 

CREEEEAAAAAK!!

"What's happening?!" a panicked Amy uttered.

"Uh-oh! I think I might know?" gulped Fry. "Anybody else seen 'Star Wars' here?"

"No," said Leela.

"Nope," said Amy.

"No," came Alesia's response.

"Nadda," said Bender.

"Which one?" asked Zoidberg.

"The first one," Fry replied.

"Which first one is that?" Zoidberg questioned. "Is it the good first one made, with the old man fighting the guy in black, or the bad first one chronologically, with that annoying alien with the jiggily-mouth and the human child with no facial expressions?"

"The first one of the first ones that was really the forth one!" said Fry quickly. "The one where they fall in the garbage chute, and then get crushed by the trash compactor!"

Everybody screamed.

"What do we do then?!" Amy squealed.

"Help me find a long, thick metal pole!" Fry ordered. "Then, we wedge it between the walls to stop them closing in on us!"

Everybody looked around carefully amongst the garbage.

"Here's one!" said Leela. "Give me a hand with it!"

Everybody grabbed a hold of the long tubular piece of metal and carefully wedged it between the walls. It was slightly longer than the span, so it took a bit of force to wedge it in there. Once they did, everybody leaned against the bar exhaustedly.

"So Fry," Leela panted. "This is what saved them in the movie?"

"Nope," Fry smiled. "In the movie it ended up breaking eventually, and they got one of the gay droids to turn it off at the computer console."

Everybody screamed again.

"Fry, you idiot!" yelled Leela. "How does that help us?!"

"It bides us some time to think of a real solution," Fry smiled. "Besides, like I said... it'll stop them from crushing us so quickly and--"

CEEEE-REEEEAAAAKKKK!!!!

The loud sound of moving metal was accompanied by a swift jerk below them, as and the garbage disappeared from under their feet, leaving everybody just screaming and holding onto the metal bar wedged between the walls. Everybody looked down, watching as the mass ball of wasted flew down below them, descending towards the ocean and coastal landmass thousands of feet below. They had arrived at the planet Laplace, but were several thousand feet above it, their feet dangling over nothingness. The wind buffeted them roughly, Alesia in particular being handicapped by her long hair.

"Well... at least the bar saved us," sighed Leela. "For the moment..."

"See... my idea saved our lives anyway," Fry smiled. "Just goes to show you that all the best ideas are the ones blatantly ripped from movies, TV and video games, then claimed as your own."

"Well... I know I've asked this a lot," Amy started. "But... now what do we do?"

"Just hang here until we land I guess," Fry said, shrugging as much as his arms would let him.

"I don't think I can hang on that long?" Alesia whimpered, finally shaking the hair from her face.

SQUEAK!

Everybody looked up as they heard a sound and felt a jerk. The bar was beginning to slowly slide down each side of the walls, bowing in the middle as it did, and making everybody gasp.

"There's no time!" Leela said. "We need to find a safe way down or lose some weight!"

"I can prod Alesia off if you like?" Bender suggested.

"What?!!" burst Fry. "No!! Why her?!!"

"She said she had tired arms anyway," Bender stated.

"Hooray!" the Decapodian doctor yelled. "For once it's not Zoidberg!"

"Wait!" said Fry "Bender, you can fly us off!"

Everybody suddenly smiled and looked at Bender.

"Aww, crap!" he groaned. "Alright, fine! But I can't guarantee I can hold you all!"

"That's a chance we'll have to take!" Leela said sternly. "The bar will drop in only a few seconds!"

The little robot activated his head propeller and let go of the bar, then hovered over to Zoidberg, who clamped onto Bender's tracks with his claws. Nibbler leapt onto Zoidberg's shoulder, and Amy grabbed hold of Zoidberg's feet. Alesia grabbed hold of Amy's legs, and Fry took hold of hers. By this point, Bender was looking very strained.

"YEEEARGH!"

The bar fell and Leela let go of it and screamed, just managing to grasp onto Fry's legs as she did, and making everybody jerk violently and gasp under the sudden tension. Bender, a look of pure strain on his face, began to descend rather quickly, and everybody began to yell in fright again.

"Can you go a bit slower, Bender!!" Amy screamed up at him.

"This is as slow as I can go!!" he yelled back with a forced voice. "I'm actually trying to fly up!!"

"We're going to crash!" Zoidberg screamed.

"Bender!! Can to try to get us to at least land on the land?!" Leela called skywards. "Try to follow the pirate ship if you can!!"

"That's what I'm trying to do now!!" He groaned with frustration. "But you're all too damn heavy!!"

"Take the fifties robot porno videos out of your chest compartment then!!" Fry suggested.

"NEVER!!" Bender screamed back. "I'd rather drop you all!!"

"Zoidberg, dump the tapes!!" Fry called.

The Decapodian nodded, then reached up with one of his mouth tendrils and opened the door on Bender's chest.

"Hey! Whaddaya think you're doing?!!" the robot yelled. "Don't make me drop you guys!!"

The tapes tumbled out and began to fall below, a good twenty or more of them. Bender cried as they fell.

"NOOOooooooo!!!"

Their dropping velocity began to slow a bit, making everybody smile and sigh with relief. It was still fairly fast, but slow enough to be bearable.

Leela looked down and spoke: "Look, there's a coastal city down there?! It looks like that's where Captain Peck is going too! It's probably where Professor Smatt lives!"

"Too bad we didn't get an exact address before we left!" Fry sighed loudly.

"Actually, I wrote it down on a piece of paper!" Leela called up to him.

"Great! Where's the paper?!"

"I put it down my top for safekeeping!"

"I'll get it for you!" Fry said with a downward wink.

"Forget it, Fry!" Leela frowned.

"That place looks beautiful," smiled Fry, regarding the city, which was even closer now. "Like a coastal paradise in Greece or Italy!"

Indeed, the sight of the city was a spectacle to behold from above. The coast was lined with many houses and large, elegant buildings, whose layout had seemed to be taken into much consideration, as the many pearly houses overlooked a sparkling ocean. Most notable was the amount of large trees, bushes and other vegetation around the buildings too, which made it look truly stunning.

"Okay everybody!" Leela called. "Brace for impact!"

She let go when only about three feet from the ground, as did all the others after her until Bender finally landed as well. They had touched down in the middle of a quiet street, paved with red bricks. Upon dusting themselves off, they all gathered together in a circle.

"Well, here we are," Leela smiled. "And there's no time to waste!"

She put her hand down her Umprar skin shirt and pulled out a small piece of paper, then read it out loud. "Two seven five, Elles Road."

"Cool," said Fry. "Now all we need to do if find one of those 'You are here, this is confusing because we printed the map upside down' signs that show you where all the McDonald's are."

"We'll just ask directions," said Leela. She began looking around, then approached a local on the side of the street playing with some marbles. He was really short body-wise, but had a large forehead and fairly large, round ears, otherwise looking pretty much humanoid.

"Hey kid, can you help us out with some directions?" she asked him.

"Kid?!" he blurted out with a really deep voice that sounded like he'd bee smoking cigarettes non-stop for fifty years. "I ain't no kid! I'm forty years old!!"

"Oh, sorry!" said Leela defensively. "It's just... with the marbles..."

"What?!!" he yelled. "Is there a reason why a grown man can't play marbles with himself, on the side of the road now!! Huh?!!"

"Sorry!" Leela said again. "We just need some directions... Do you know where Elles Road is?"

"I might..." he said rubbing his chin. "What's in it for me if I do?"

"How about a wowwypop?" sniggered Fry.

"What?!" the guy said, in awe and not anger. "You have lollipops?!"

"Uh... sorry... no..." answered Fry who wasn't expecting that kind of positive response from the little gruff man with the large head.

"Awwwww..." he groaned. "What about a balloon? You have any balloons?!"

"Sorry," Leela frowned. "No balloons."

"Wait!" said Bender, opening his chest. "There's one porno video left in my chest!"

He handed it to the little guy, who read the title.

"The Tower of the Seductive Cyborgs.... Okay, deal! Elles Road is at the top of that hill over there. Just walk to the end of this road thatta way, then follow the main road it joins to towards the hill until you see the sign... you can't miss it!"

"Thanks," smiled Leela. "Okay guys, just to make sure everybody is clear... We're going to go to Professor Smatt, get him to stop the pirates and give him the gem, then try to find out where they're selling our ship. Then we get the gem, any information, and get the hell out of here. Are they any questions?"

Fry raised his arm. Leela nodded at him.

"Can we stop for ice cream along the way?"

"Stop being stupid, Fry! This is serious!"

"I was being serious," Fry whined. "I want some ice cream!"

Leela rolled her eye.

"Let's just go! We've wasted enough time as it is! And remember... keep an eye out for pirates"

Leela lead the way and the others followed her. Fry decided to walk beside Alesia and talk with her.

"You've been awfully quiet lately," he whispered to her.

"I'm not a very talkative person," she shrugged, not intending to really whisper but her quiet voice doing so naturally. "Besides... there's been a lot on my mind lately..."

"Oh," said Fry simply. "You want to talk about it, I mean, maybe I can help?"

"No, that's fine," she smiled. "Thanks anyway though."

"That's cool," he answered. "If you ever want to talk, just say so though."

"One question though. Is Leela always this... bossy?"

Fry chuckled.

"Yeah, whenever she gets her mind set on something important she is. She's cool though, just a little... strong-willed and motivated. She relaxes a lot more when things aren't so serious."

"I see," Alesia answered, her face emotionless.

About ten minutes of walking later found the crew standing before a large metal gate, behind which sat a large white mansion with an elegant garden. Gold letters read '275' on the gate.

"This looks like the place," shrugged Leela. She pressed a large red button on the inside wall that the left gate was attached to.

A strange voice crackled through the other side, "Yes? Who is it?"

"Are you Professor Smatt?" Leela asked.

"Yes... who are you?"

"Before we can answer that, can you tell us if there are any pirates at your house?"

There was a pause filled with only the slight crackle of static for a moment.

"Pirates? No, there's no pirates here..."

"Good," Leela replied. "I'm Leela, Captain of the Planet Express ship... Professor Farnsworth referred us to you regarding some powerful gems."

"Ah, yes!" the voice said with understanding. "He contacted me and said you'd be here. Come in, come in!"

The gate swung open by itself, granting them access. Upon approaching the door, it opened as well, behind it standing a friendly little man who looked somewhat like the guy who had given them directions earlier. He wore a long, white lab coat that appeared to be a few sizes too large, as it dragged along the floor behind him like a large wedding dress. He had a tall forehead that made his otherwise short form the height of an average human, and round, outward jutting ears. The arms of a pair of small, round spectacles were sitting upon them, also perched on the tip of his round, podgy nose. He motioned for the crew to enter with one hand.

"Welcome! Welcome! Please come in!"

"I'm afraid we can't stay long, Professor," Leela stated forwardly. "We know a group of pirates are coming to look for you."

"Oh my!" the Professor gasped. "Wha... what do they want?!"

"The same thing we want, but we've worked out a plan for them," Leela stated. "When they come, they'll have a green gem and be asking for information regarding it... a gem they stole from us."

"I see... and what exactly do you want me to do?"

"We want to you look at it, then evaluate it and pretend it's a fake. Hopefully, they'll give it to you that way."

"Then what?" he asked.

"Tell them something to get rid of them... anything! A fake location of the 'real' gem... another person to talk too... anything! We'll return later and collect it and get the real info from you."

"Where are you going?"

"We need to find our ship again. They're apparently going to sell if off here for cash. You wouldn't know where they might do that, do you?"

Smatt rubbed his chin in thought.

"There's a large intergalactic ship warehouse near the centre of the city called 'Trader Blob's Discount Ship Emporium' that's a likely choice. Try there first."

"Thanks, it shouldn't be hard to see their massive pirate ship nearby it either," Fry chuckled.

Amy suddenly squealed, pointing out the window.

"The pirates are just outside the gate now!"

Leela's head whirled back to the Professor in a swish of purple hair.

"Is there a back way out we can take right now?!"

"Yes," the Professor said, flipping a thumb over his shoulder. "It's out the back."

"Thanks," Leela smiled, then switching to serious again as she looked at the others. "Let's go!"

The crew scurried out the room just as the buzzer sounded. Smatt wandered over and pressed a button near his door.

"Yes?" he asked.

"Professor Smatt... this is Captain Peck! Scourge of the Avanz... I mean, noble captain of the good ship 'Avanzino Scourge!' We request entry to discuss matters concerning a special gem we have... procured..."

"Certainly!" Smatt invited. "Come on in!"

The doors swung open, and Smatt opened his door to greet the newcomers in similar fashion to his greeting the Planet Express crew. The members of the party were Captain Peck, Don Pardini, Commander Sebastian, Lieutenant Tommassello and Lieutenant Eade. They walked, or slithered, in through the door, stone cold looks on their faces.

"What can I do for you people?" the Professor smiled.

"Let's cut to the chase, Professor!" Captain Peck snapped, whirling back around to face him. "We're bloodthirsty pirates who stole a gem, and we want to know about it!"

"Yes... I suspect that you might have been pirates by that get-up you're wearing," Smatt said plainly. "Except of course for the green tentacled fellow..."

"Silence, puny... uh... Laplaceling!" the Don growled. "Or you'll meet these tentacles first hand! You don't know where these things have been!"

"I do..." Lieutenant Tommassello mumbled into her chest.

Captain Peck whirled around and shot her a sneer. "What was that, Lieutenant?" she growled.

"Nothing, Captain!" Tommassello blurted quickly and defensively.

"Follow me," said Smatt. "We might as well head into my office."

The pirates followed him into a room filled with bookcases and weird contraptions all around the walls, even covering up the large window that faced onto the large front lawn and garden outside. The main feature of the room was an elegant old desk and chair in the centre of the room, which was far too large for the Professor, yet he climbed into the chair anyway.

"Man! What's with all the crap?!" growled Sebastian.

"Oh, I collect useless junk for no good reason," smiled the Professor.

"Why?" Sebastian asked.

"Oh... no reason," Smatt grinned. "Now... what's this gem you brought me? To be honest they aren't really my... forte, but I'll see what I can do."

Captain Peck reached into her pocket, then roughly tossed the jewel on the Professor's desk, not really caring that it made a nasty chip in the flawlessly smooth surface. Normally Smatt would have objected greatly to his mistreatment, of not for his eyes bulging out of his head and focussing only on the gem as soon as it had appeared.

"My God!" he breathed. "Can it be... One of the legendary jewels of power?!"

He picked it up and examined it closely. The light seemed to dance off and out of its perfect surface. Another awed breath eased out of the Professor's lips.

"I thought it was just a legend... but..."

He trailed off, suddenly remembering what Leela had told him. He glanced up at the pirates, who all stood there, watching him impatiently. He calmed himself down.

"But... we must test to see!" he declared.

The short-bodied scientist leapt from his chair and waddled over to a strange machine that looked like a microwave. He opened the door on it, placed the gem carefully in the centre, closed the door, and activated the machine. A few seconds of whirring and beeping later, and a bunch of figures were printed out on a small roll of paper. Smatt examined them, making a negative noise in his throat.

"Hmmmm... I'm sorry, but I'm afraid this is a fake, Captain."

"What?!" she jumped. "Are you entirely sure?"

"Oh, most definitely... It's definitely a nice jewel.. very well cut... good size and all. But it definitely holds no special properties whatsoever. This thing definitely is not a legendary jewel of power."

He opened the door and took it out, wandering back over to his desk with a sigh.

"A shame, I admit... but then again, it is just a legend..."

He leapt back into his chair and sat at his desk, taking off his glasses and giving them a clean with a plain looking handkerchief.

Thud!

The Professor jumped at the sound, looking forward and going red as he looked at the cleavage at his eye level, belonging to a certain Captain who was leaning forward menacingly on his desk. His eyes wandered up and soon wish they hadn't, the horrible glare of Captain Peck's angry face being really quite unpleasant, despite her good looks.

"I don't believe you!" she sneered.

"Wh-wh-why not?" Smatt stuttered.

"For one thing, Professor," she growled, his title being used as if she suspected it to be fraudulent. "How do you explain the constant glow from the centre of the jewel?!"

"Th-that effect can be easily faked," he smiled nervously. "I've seen kids toys that glow like that. Trust me... the gem is nothing but that... a rock. If you want some money for it though, I'd be happy to pay you for it. It may not be a jewel of power, but it is certainly a--"

"DO YOU TAKE ME FOR A FOOL, PROFESSOR?!!" Captain Peck yelled at him, her anger reaching a new peak. Smatt shuddered in his chair as she pointed accusingly at him.

"The instant I sold you this jewel, you would take it for yourself and seek to possess the others in an attempt at global domination and ultimate power!"

"Th-at's absurd!" Smatt frowned. "I am a scientist! I seek neither wealth or power... only knowledge!"

"Yes... how many Nobel Prize winners have said that?!" Peck quipped with a roll of her unpatched eye. "You seek the same things as any intelligent being would!"

"Fine then!" Smatt said. "You can take your fake gem and try to use it! You'll only be disappointed!"

She smirked, then leaned in close to him again, her face only inches from his own.

"No Professor... we know this gem is real, and you're going to exactly as I tell you! You are going to help us... You will do whatever research you need to find us the location of at least one of the other gems, preferably more..."

"B-b-but that would take hours!" Smatt objected. "Tomorrow minimum!"

"Fine... you have a maximum time of eighteen hours to give us some information!"

The Professor gasped.

"When we return then, we expect results! Or Commander Sebastian here will do some... carving in your skin..."

The Commander stepped up with a nasty grin of malevolence, then put one of his two hooks to the surface of Smatt's table. Smatt cringed as he pulled the hook mercilessly across the surface, putting a huge groove from one side of the table to the other. He laughed and walked away, as did the others, except for the Captain who just sneered down at Smatt with contempt. She leant down and snatched the jewel from the table.

"See you tomorrow, Professor," she hissed before departing the room.


"Here it is then," Leela announced. "Trader Blob's Discount Ship Emporium."

"Guh! We know!" snorted Amy. "We just walked all the way here!"

"Uh... yeah..." said Leela simply. "Well... we might as well walk in then."

As they wandered through the first set of sliding doors that led to a small lobby, Fry caught up with Leela and spoke to her: "Uh, Leela... How are we going to even afford do get the ship back?"

"I dunno," she shrugged. "Something'll come up..."

DINGDINGDINGDINGDINGDINGDING!!

The entire crew jumped with surprise, as they walked through the second set of doors and the sound of bells and whistles rang around them, along with balloons and confetti raining down upon them.

"What is?!" Zoidberg wondered. Suddenly, a large-foreheaded man with slicked-back, greasy looking blond hair and a massive and very cheesy grin slide across. He had a microphone and wore an ugly striped suit that appeared to have every bright colour in existence in it. He wasn't as short as most of the members of his species, putting an arm around Leela's shoulder as her arrived on the scene.

"Congratulations my friends!" he yelled. "You six people are all this stores, ONE MILLIONTH CUSTOMERS!!!"

"How can we all be your one millionth customer?" Leela asked.

"You all walked in, in a row," he answered flatly, his enthusiasm returning as he continued. "Now, as reward for this stupendous occasion, you all win one-hundred THOUSAND trasns! Plus, seven nights accommodation at the fantastic Sheridan Hotel!"

Everybody's jaws were dropped, save for Bender's of course. Leela managed to utter a response first.

"You're joking, right?!" she spluttered.

"I wish I was, you're costing me a lot of money," he replied with a sotto voce, his voice picking up again afterwards. "But this is one hundred percent TRUE! Congratulations!"

He handed each of them an envelope each, his cheesy grin fixed to his face. Everybody opened their envelopes and looked at the signed cheque and hotel tickets.

"All right!" said Fry. "Now we can afford to pay for the ship!"

"Exactly," nodded Leela. She turned to the prize giver. "If you'll excuse us, we need to find a ship."

"You're talking to the right guy then," he smiled happily. "I'm Lee Snatz, the top salesman here at Trader Blob's!"

"Good," smiled Leela. "We're actually looking for a very specific ship... a green delivery one that you probably purchased not too long ago from some pirates?"

"What?!" Snatz blurted out. "Are you accusing me of dealing with outlaws?!"

Leela was about to speak, but he pulled her head down to his level and quickly whispered to her.

"Ixnay on the iratespay!"

He let go of her and resumed speaking loudly.

"But I think I may have just the ship to suit your needs! If you'll follow me..."

The group followed the salesman through the large building filled with ships of various shapes and sizes. Everybody's face brightened as the Planet Express ship came into view.

"Yes, that's the one," Leela smiled as they stopped before it. Snatz smiled.

"Excellent!" he beamed. "And it'll only cost you three-hundred thousand trasns."

"No problem," said Leela. "We've got double that between us, so--"

"Hold it!" said a gruff, but high-pitched voice. "I'm interested in buying this ship fer meself!"

Everybody turned to see a strange looking robot. He had a cylindrical body with thick metal legs and even thicker arms, which had small anchors welded to them. His mouth was partially hidden by a thick, round metal chin and a metal pipe protruded from it. One of his two eyes was out and he had a metal cap that resembled a sailor's hat with a small antennae sticking out the top. His body was blue and on his chest was the word 'iPop' in white lettering.

"So you want to guy this ship too?" smiled Snatz greedily. The robot nodded.

"Aye! And I be willin' to pay three-hundred and fifty thousand."

"Oh no you don't!" said Leela determinedly. "Four-hundred thousand!"

"Four-hundred and twenty five thousand!" countered iPop.

"Four-hundred and fifty thousand!" Leela retorted. iPop growled and sneered at Leela.

"Five-hundred thousand!"

"Five-hundred and fifty thousand!"

"Leela!" Fry whispered. "We'd like some money left for ourselves afterwards you know!"

"Quiet Fry! I know what I'm doing!" she snapped. iPop examined a display on his chest.

"Five-hundred and sixty thousand!" he added.

"Seventy!"

"Eighty!"

"Ninety!" Leela yelled. iPop growled again.

"Ninety one!" he said reluctantly.

"Ninety two!" Leela countered. iPop groaned.

"Ninety three," came his strained bid.

"Five-hundred and ninety four thousand!" Leela said firmly, staring straight at the robot. iPop growled loudly, a high-pitched honk blaring out his pipe, and his arms drooped in defeat.

"Fine! You win! I can't beat that!"

"Sold then!" yelled Snatz happily. The crew all cheered and handed over their cheques.

"Wait here," Snatz said. "I'll get the keys and your change."

"Well, we've got the ship back, guys," Leela smiled as Snatz walked away.

"And we all still get a thousand trasns left to spend!" Zoidberg added.

"Not that we'll get to spend it though," Leela said. Everybody else gasped.

"What?!" said Amy. "You mean we're going to leave without going on a shopping spree?!"

"Yes," Leela said firmly. "We're going to go see Professor Smatt, get the gem and info and then get out of here."

"What about the free luxury hotel tickets?" whined Fry. Leela shook her head.

"Sorry guys... no time." she enforced. Everybody groaned again, just as Snatz returned.

"Here's the keys," he said, handing them to Leela. "And one thousand trasns for each of you."

He distributed the thousand trasn notes, though nobody took them with much enthusiasm. Leela made her way onto the ship, the others following. She examined the cockpit before taking her seat at the controls.

"Looks like they left everything how it was," she noted. "Everybody take a seat and buckle up, we're flying straight to the Professor's place. I'd just better check that those pirates are gone."

Leela pressed some buttons on the control panel as everybody took their seats, various bleeps and boops sounding from it as she did.

"I'm performing a ten mile ship scan now," she narrated. "They don't appear to be around us anywhere... they're either gone or out of range."

"Let's hope it's both and get going," Fry suggested, sounding impatient. Leela nodded.

"Okay, we're off then."

The Planet Express ship lifted off the display pad it was on and blasted out through the starship exit port in the ceiling. In no time they were at Professor Smatt's home, and Leela carefully landed the ship on the lawn outside. They disembarked the ship to be greeted by a rather shaken Smatt.

"What's wrong, Professor?" asked Fry. "You look like you've seen the ghost of Zombie Jesus!"

"The p-pirates," Smatt uttered. "They came and... and... threatened me!"

"What happened exactly?" Leela asked.

"Come inside and I'll tell you everything," Smatt said, motioning them to follow.

Two minutes later, the group had been fully informed of the circumstances.

"That's horrible!" said Fry as soon as the Professor was done.

"Oh, it won't be so bad," Smatt smiled weakly. "I'll just have to do exactly what they say... that's all..."

"No! You can't give up, Professor!" Leela said firmly. "We'll help you out."

"How?" Smatt asked. "I've only got until ten o'clock tomorrow morning until they come and get me!"

"Easy. You simply give them exactly what they want," she answered.

"You must be nuts and bolts!" Bender said. "How exactly does that help us?!"

"It helps because we actually give them fake information that they think is legit," Leela said. "As well as swapping the real gem with a fake one."

"I dunno, Leela," said Fry sceptically. "The whole 'fake gem thing' didn't work when the Professor was supposed to claim the gem was fake originally... how will it work any better this time?"

"Good point," Leela sighed.

"What if you broke it?" Alesia suggested.

"Broke the gem?" Smatt asked. "Impossible!"

"No, I mean break a fake one," Alesia explained. "Switch the gems, and before they can have a look at the fake one, break it, thus 'proving' that it's not real."

As much as Leela hated to admit it, Alesia may have been onto something.

"It just might work," she nodded seriously. "We just need to find a fake glass gem that's exactly the same size..."

"We could probably buy one in town," Amy chirped in. "Or get one made there?"

"This isn't just some excuse to go shopping, is it?" Leela smirked. Amy just smiled sheepishly back.

"Look, can we hurry up and decide something?!" Bender snorted. "I'm starting to run low on power here!"

"Don't worry, Bender," Fry consoled. "We'll buy you some good, smooth, rich, functional robot oil while we're looking."

"YEAARRK!" Bender growled. "I don't want oil! I want booze, and I want it now! And I want out of this stupid, dinky body!!"

"Excuse him," Leela smiled at Smatt embarrassedly. "He's just a little cranky since his old bending body got fatally damaged."

"Really?" said Smatt, rubbing his chin. "What happened to it?"

"His apple core got wasted," explained Fry.

"Laser core, you idiot!" Bender growled. Smatt made an interested sound.

"Do you still have the body?" he asked.

"Yeah, it's back in the ship," Leela shrugged, thumbing a finger behind her. "Though it's pretty beaten up. Why?"

"Oh, it's just that I could fix him for you," the Professor smiled. Bender gasped.

"Really?!"

"Yes," Smatt nodded simply, then he turned back to Leela. "Tell you what... you go into the town and find a suitable fake gem to get rid of those pirates and I'll get you the research you need and have your friend fixed. I have a few spare laser cores out back."

He turned to Bender.

"You'll need to spend the next few hours here, my friend."

"That's fine," said Bender. "I'm kind of sick of hanging around these jerks all the time anyway."

"The job will take a while," Smatt told the others. "Probably most of the night. Can you meet me here tomorrow at nine in the morning... one hour before the pirates arrive?"

"Sure," Leela nodded.

"Excellent," Professor Smatt said. "We'll formalise a plan then for those pirates and your friend should be ready. All I need is the bending unit body."

"Okay, which one of you guys is going to bring that in?" Leela said, turning towards Fry, Amy, Alesia and Zoidberg.

"I know!" said Fry quickly. "Let's play rock, scissors, paper for it! That way we all ha--"

"Ohh, I'll just go and get it then!!" Zoidberg grumbled, turning around with a deep sigh and heading towards the door. Fry chuckled to himself, then suddenly gasped with a happy grin.

"Hey! Now that we need to stay the night, we can use those hotel voucher tickets tonight!"

"We don't need to," said Leela simply. "We can just stay in the ship."

"Aw, come on, Captain..." Fry whined.

"Yeah, please, Leela?" Amy pleaded. "We haven't had a decent sleep for days, the food has been sub-par and we've been rushing all over the place! Wouldn't it be nice to have a long, hot bath and then sleep in a soft, comfy, fresh bed for once?"

Amy stood there in the moment, her arms hugging her chest and a look of pure comfort on her face as she mimicked being curled up in a soft bed. Leela tugged at her sweaty, Umprar shirt.

"Well... that would be nice... I guess..."

She looked back at the others, hopeful glances on the faces of Amy and Fry. Even Alesia, who was generally pretty expressionless, looked a little hopeful. Leela caved.

"Oh, all right then," she said, like a mother to some kids pleading to go to an amusement park. "I think we've earned a bit of luxury."

Everybody cheered and danced a bit.

"Well, let's go then!" announced Fry. "The sooner we get this fake jewel, the sooner we can live in luxury!"

They all rushed out the door and towards the ship, passing Zoidberg on the way, who was pushing the stretcher with Bender's sheet-covered body towards the house.

"What is?!" he remarked as they ran up the stairs and the ship almost instantly took off and headed away. Smatt came out and joined him.

"Follow me to my workshop... you can put the body there," the Professor suggested. Zoidberg's eyes were still on the slowly leaving ship.

"Where are they going without me?" he asked. "Because they went without me!"

"Oh... off to shop and then stay at the luxurious Sheridan Hotel."

"NOOOOOOOOOO!!!" Zoidberg screamed towards the departing space vehicle.

Meanwhile, in the ship, Leela steered it slowly above the buildings, following them along the parallel coastline. She read her hotel ticket as she steered.

"We'll leave the ship at the hotel and then walk from there into town," she announced. "It's supposed to be overlooking the ocean where there's an island called Phatt Island atop a large hill."

"There's an island out there," said Fry, pointing out one of the left windows at the ocean. There was a small, but tall, island just off the coast covered with vegetation. "That could be it?"

"If it is," Leela said. "Then that means the hotel should be right.... there?"

She put down her pamphlet and pointed out to the right. There, on top of a large hill covered with beautiful, tropical vegetation, was a large white building. It was several stories tall, covered with balconies and had a large entrance with Grecian style pillars. Everybody gasped at the sight.

"It's beautiful!" said Amy in awe.

"Wow! It looks just like the house a South American drug baron would have if he was married to like fifty women who each had their own room!" added Fry.

"Looks like there's parking on the other side," said Leela as they flew above it. "We'll land here and then go quickly before our eyes force us to go inside."

Leela downed the ship in a spare space, and as they exited the ship, they were greeted by a snooty looking, large-fore headed creature wearing a tuxedo.

"Excuse me, are you all occupants of this hotel?" he asked.

"We are indeed," said Leela, showing him her ticket. "We're just going to park our ship here for now while we do some shopping downtown."

"Very good, ma'am," the parking attendant bowed. He waddled away and Leela turned to Fry, Amy and Alesia.

"Okay then. We'd best split up if we want to get this done quickly," she announced. Amy's face brightened.

"You're right, Leela. How about you and Fry go one way, and Alesia and I will take another?"

"Sounds good to me," Leela nodded. "We'll meet you back here at six o'clock."

She turned to Fry. "Let's go, Fry."

Fry saluted and they left. As soon as they were out of sight, Amy giggled.

"Yes!" she chuckled. "Now we can do some real shopping!"

She turned to Alesia.

"Sorry that I split you away from Fry, but you were the only one who I'd have even a slim chance of going along with this. Leela's too serious and boring to go along with it!"

"That's... okay..." Alesia said sceptically. "But, we should really be looking for a suitable fake like the others."

"Oh, they'll find one themselves in to time," Amy dismissed. "It's time for a girl's trip to the malls!"

"I don't know..." Alesia said.

"Oh, come on..." Amy encouraged. "We'll go and get your hair done, and get you some sassy new clothes..."

She nudged Alesia gently with one elbow and gave her a wink.

"I'm sure Fry will like that... am I right?"

Strange how that almost instantly seemed to sway Alesia's mind. But there was still one issue.

"Wait... why are you being so trusting of me?" she asked Amy. The Chinese girl shrugged.

"Fry seems to trust you, and he's usually pretty good at judging people," she said. "Besides, you seem really nice. Plus, I generally think Leela's too critical of Fry. She's kind of rough on the poor guy."

Alesia thought for a moment. Her better judgment lost as a thought entered her mind.

"Alright," she smiled. "Let's go then."

Meanwhile, a small figure watched their departure from inside the ship. Nodding with an affirmative squeak, Nibbler scurried out of the cockpit and towards the crew's quarters. Into the cabinet he rushed, retrieving his communications device with haste.

"This is Nibbler, Ambassador of Earth and Watcher of The Mighty One... do you read me?"

A positive response.

"Ah, Fiona!" Nibbler smiled. "It is good to speak with you again. Though I must wonder, where is Ken?"

"He is already on his mission, Operation Hugglesnoosh," the female Nibblonian replied, standing before a large monitor and wearing her dark, hooded robe. "He is currently observing the ship known as 'Nimbus' as we speak."

"Ah, then I have excellent news," Nibbler said. "The crew here are aware that that very ship is after the same artifacts. They are friendly towards each other, thus alliance is likely."

"Well done, Lord Nibbler!" Fiona said. "That will save us some time... Time I'm afraid we're already short on."

"Yes," Nibbler sighed. "About six days too short..."

Fiona nodded, then another transmission arrived on her screen, splitting it into two images, Nibbler on the right and another Nibblonian on the left.

"Ken," Fiona said. "What news?"

"A transmission I've received indicates the Nimbus will arrive at Hydros in exactly ten hours," Ken responded. "They're already working on clearance with the natives now, so once they arrive there should be no problems."

"Excellent," nodded Fiona. "Let's hope they manage to get it with no problems... the sake of the entire universe depends on these items coming together once again."


6:11pm, West North-Eastern South Laplace Time

"Be careful with that, Fry!" Leela warned as Fry almost tripped on a brick title at the entrance to the hotel.

"Sorry, but it's getting darker now," he smiled nervously. "I hope the others aren't waiting on us... we're ten minutes late."

Leela saw them standing at the entrance by some pillars. Amy waved down at them.

"Sorry we're late," said Leela as she walked up the stairs. "But we found this place that could make extra fragile glass gems, and Fry dropped three of them on the way here."

Leela looked carefully and Alesia and Amy and her eye narrowed.

"What's with the bags?" she asked them, then turned to Amy "And the eye-shadow, lipstick and that new shirt?"

"What, this old thing?!" Amy dismissed unconvincingly, pointing out the white t-shirt she now wore with a heart-shaped hole where her stomach is to reveal her navel and a diamond-shaped hole on her chest to reveal some cleavage. "I was wearing this under my pink sweat suit top all the time!"

"Did you get your hair done too, Alesia?" Fry asked, examining her slightly altered hairstyle that seemed to make it seem even longer that before and ten times as silky. "Because I like it."

"Maybe..." she said nervously.

"You two went shopping, didn't you?!" Leela accused.

"Nuh-uh!" Amy retorted.

"Did you get me any presents?" Fry asked Alesia, looking at the large paper bag she had. She removed it from his view, hiding it behind the back of her legs.

"Maybe..." she repeated. "No peeking..."

Fry moaned, while Leela sighed.

"You two are lucky we managed to get something, or I'd call off this hotel stay and we'd be in the ship again."

"Let's just forget it and get something to eat!" Fry announced with a smile. "I'll bet they have a five star quality restaurant in this place!"

Fry rushed in, with Amy and Alesia following without hesitation. Leela followed at a more casual place. She found Fry leaning on the front desk in the lobby, talking cheesily suave to the desk clerk.

"Hey there," he beamed. "Could you please show us where the rooms for me and these three beautiful ladies are?"

He put his tickets on the desk, and Amy and Alesia followed suit. Leela finally added hers to the pile and the clerk examined them.

"Very well," he said, grabbing some different coloured keys from the hooks behind him. "The bellboy will show you to your rooms."

He dinged the bell on his desk twice and another squat, tall-headed man appeared, this time wearing a bright red suit with gold buttons and a little red cap. Fry spoke to the desk clerk.

"We won't be needing a bellboy, sir," he said simply. "As you can see, we're not carrying any bells."

"Bellboys carry luggage, sir," said the clerk dryly.

"Oh... well, we don't have any luggage either," Fry responded.

"Very good, sir," the clerk replied, then he nodded down at the bellboy. The bellboy nodded violently, dislodging the cap from his head and took off his little red jacket, throwing it on the desk and revealing a t-shirt underneath that had 'No, I'm Not Compensating for Anything!' written on it. The clerk handed him the keys.

"Follow me," he said in a high-pitched, elfish tone, and he began waddling up the nearest staircase. The group followed him, and several flights of steps and hallways later, he finally stopped in front of a door.

"This is the Cardinal Room," he said as he opened the door with one of the keys. "For the one-eyed lady."

"Was it called that because a cardinal stayed here one?" Fry asked.

"No, it's called that because the key coloured like that," he answered, handing Leela a bright red key. "All the rooms here are colour coded."

"Wouldn't that get confusing?" Leela asked him.

"Yeah," added Fry. "I mean, you could mix up cardinal with red, or cherry, or crimson, or ruby or turquoise..."

"Never happened," he said moving along to the next door. "This here is the Navy Room, for the girl with the revealingly teasing top."

He winked at Amy, making her cringe.

Fry spoke: "Was it called that because a naval officer stayed here?"

"No, I told you... it's just colour coded!" the bellboy retorted.

"Oh... right..." said Fry. "Sorry, I forgot."

"Moving along," the bellboy continued. "This next room is for you, my red-haired friend. The Amber Room."

"Oh, named after Amber somebody no doubt," Fry smiled. The bellboy growled.

"NO! It's just colour coded, okay?!!" he screamed. "Colour! Coded!! And your long-haired friend's room next door isn't called the Heather Room because somebody named Heather stayed there either!!"

"Okay, take it easy!" Fry said.

"Well, I don't know about the rest of you," said Leela, turning towards her room. "But I'm going to go take a long due shower. Should we meet in the restaurant in half an hour?"

Everybody nodded and made sounds of approval, then walked to their separate rooms. Everybody was equally awed at how nice they were. A large dresser, queen-sized four-poster beds, a large chandelier, a balcony, an elegant dresser and a private bathroom. Alesia, like everybody else, went almost straight to the bathroom. She began to run a bath, then wandered over the large closet in the main room. Opening it she examined the contents.

"Long dressing gown... short dressing gown... evening dresses... towels... bathrobe..."

It turns out they were all spray cans. She picked up the one labelled 'Towel' and the one with 'White Evening Dress' as well.

"Excellent," she whispered, then walked back into the bathroom with them.

 

 

Eighteen minutes later

Leela reached out from behind the shower door and grabbed her 'Towel' can. After the sound of spraying, she stepped out wrapped in a thick towel. Humming a random tune, she walked over to the mirror and picked up the hairdryer sitting on the bathroom counter.

Click!

Leela whirled her head around, as the noise wasn't from her switching on the hair drier. It came from behind her.

"Who's there?!" she asked forcefully. There came no answer. Leela growled, putting the drying appliance down again and walking towards the door. She gasped and her eye narrowed when she saw who was standing there.

"Don't you knock?!" she growled.

"Sorry," Alesia answered, standing there in a long, white evening dress. "But I was afraid you'd slam the door in my face if I did."

"Probably true," she grumbled. "What the hell do you want?!"

"I've come to speak with you," Alesia replied simply.

"About what?!" Leela asked impatiently, crossing her arms.

"About Fry," came the straightforward answer. "I need to know one simple thing."

"What's that?"

"Do you love him?"

"What?!" Leela blurted. "That's a stupid question!"

"Well... do you?"

"That's none of your business!" Leela snapped.

"Sorry, but I'm afraid it is, because I do love him... and for whatever reason it is that you don't like me, you're just going to have to live with that."

"The reason I don't like you is because I don't trust you!" Leela gnarled. "It has nothing to do with Fry!"

"Prove it," Alesia challenged.

"I don't need to prove anything to the likes of you!"

Alesia paused.

"You're jealous!" she accused simply. Leela jumped.

"Don't be stupid!"

"You are! You were jealous when you saw us kissing and you've been jealous ever since!"

"I'd shut your mouth if I were you!" came a warning.

"Look, Fry told me not to hate you, but to show him that I love him. But I don't hate you... so far I just pity you. But all I want to know is what your feelings towards Fry really are?"

Leela breathed to calm herself down.

"Okay... Look... I admit that Fry is sweet and all, but he's just too much of an immature, childish, dimwit!"

Alesia paused, then, for the first time, she became the dispenser of glares.

"I didn't know your depth perception problems extended to your subjectivity..."

"What the hell did you say?!" Leela growled, the rage building up inside her. "I'd strongly suggest you leave before I do something I won't regret!"

"I'm not going anywhere until I get what I want!" came a stubborn yell. "How can you be so blind and not see Fry for what he really is! He's a sweet, kind, gentle man, and you treat him like a piece of dirt! He may not be the sharpest upstairs, but he thinks with his heart! Something you seem to be incapable of!"

Leela growled again, her fists shaking. Alesia continued.

"I can't understand how Fry continues to seek your love after all the years of rejection you've given him?!"

"You know nothing about anything!" Leela snapped. "How the hell could you?! You were never there!!"

"I've seen more than enough," Alesia answered. "I see a bitter cyclops with high standards who can't see the wonderful man who has been right in front of her eyes for more than five years! It only took me a few hours to see Fry for who he really is... and I love him for it... every part of him. His warm heart... His cheesy smile... His goofy antics... The way that even after being in the thirty first century for this long, he still refers to it as the future... everything!"

Leela had seemed to have calmed down a bit, if only by a little. Alesia paused and looked into her adversary's eye.

"You know... I suspect that deep down, somewhere in there... you really do have at least some feelings for Fry. He probably senses them too... it may be why he hasn't given up on you. Perhaps they're something from the past... perhaps they're something you're keeping locked away, deep inside you and refuse to let them out... I don't know. But I do know this... You have had long enough to release whatever they are and show him some affection... so your time is up, because I'm going to show Fry the love and affection he deserves."

She turned towards the door.

"I may not know what your feelings are regarding him... but I know you've screwed with his emotions for too long now, and that's enough for me."

She walked out the room and closed the door, leaving Leela standing there with glare of pure hatred on her face.

"HEEEEE-YAAAAA!!!"

Leela slammed her fist into the closed closet doors beside her, smashing them into a spray of wooden chunks and splinters, then turned and stomped into bathroom again.

 

 

Five minutes later

"Hi Leela," Amy said happily, as her cyclops friend walked over to their dining table in the magnificent, candle lit hotel restaurant. Alesia was already there, wearing that white evening dress, while Amy had opted for a bright red one. Leela had a long black dress, which she'd purposefully picked to contrast Alesia's white. She took the seat on the other side of Amy, which was as far away from Alesia without going to another table.

"Hi Amy," Leela smiled, not even looking at the third woman. "Fry shown up yet?"

"Nope," shrugged Amy. "And I thought we were supposed to be the ones that took a long time to get read--"

Amy stopped talking as Alesia, who was just drinking from a glass of red wine, made a spluttering, half-choking sound. She pointed behind them, and the two other women looked. Amy snickered while Leela just face-palmed.

"Oh, lord!"

Fry was at the entrance desk trying to get in. The only problem was, he couldn't get past the door clerk there, due to being dressed in an eye-catching, one-piece pair of pink bunny pyjamas, complete with floppy ears. Before the other two could do any more, Leela quickly stood up.

"I'll take care of this," she said, her glare directed squarely at Alesia. She wandered over to the situation.

"It's not my fault!" Fry argued. "It's your fault! Well... not you directly, but the fault of the hotel in general!"

"Uh... excuse me," said Leela. "But would it help if I said he was with me?"

"Not really," the clerk snorted.

"Okay... What if I said that I found these two-hundred trans on the floor and I'd like to hand them in to lost and found?"

"Then your friend is free to go," the clerk smiled, removing the rope blocking Fry's way in. "Because of your honesty, of course..."

Leela led Fry over to the table quickly. Amy chuckled again as soon as they got back.

"What's with the cute pyjamas, Fry?"

"Awww... stupid hotel room cans!" Fry grumbled. "The can said tuxedo, but it turned into this! It was too late before I realised that the use-by date on the can was three months out!"

"I think you look really handsome in them," said Alesia, giving Fry a wink. Leela growled quietly.

"Can we just order already?" she mumbled.

"Good idea," said Fry. Leela called a waiter over. He approached Fry first.

"What would you like this evening, sir?"

Fry mused over the menu.

"I think I'll have some kind of seafood," he said.

"How convenient," the waiter answered. "The seafood tank is right behind you."

"Yeah, I know," Fry smiled. "That's why I chose it... I don't like walking if I can help it."

He turned and looked into the tank.

"Hmmmmm... I think I'll have that large fish there?"

GAWMP!

"Uh... on second thought, I'll have the lobster that just ate that fish... A-and ate that one too... And that starfish... and that plastic diver figurine with the bubbles that go 'bloop bloop bloop!' and... hey! Wait a minute! Zoidberg?!!"

"Blibble?!"

"Hey! You! Get out of there!!" the waiter yelled.

Zoidberg leapt out of the tank, spilling water all over the place and whooping across a bunch of tabletops before finally running through the double exit doors, two hotel employees of some kind making chase with harpoons.

"I guess he found his way here after all?" Amy shrugged.

"You know that creature?!" the waiter asked.

"Nope!" came four, quick, simultaneous replies.

 

 

Three hours and twenty minutes later

Fry opened the door to his room, flicking on the light. He sighed happily, but wearily. They had been in the restaurant for most of the past few hours, mostly talking about what to do. Seems like the general consensus was that after all pieces were collected again, if possible, the logical solution was to take it to Professor Farnsworth for proper reconstruction. Still... the main concern was just getting past the pirates the next day. There were a lot of ideas thrown back and forth, even from Zoidberg who showed up an hour after his dramatic exit wearing a tuxedo. Leela and Alesia seemed to never agree on things, or at least rarely. This was generally normal, but seemed a little more aggressive tonight for some reason. Fry picked up his old clothes from the foot of his bed.

"You guys may be old," he said to them as he unzipped the pyjamas he was still wearing. "But you're better than stupid rabbit sleeping clothes."

He took it off, leaving him just in his underwear. That's when there was a knock on the door.

"Yaaaa!" Fry jumped with unexpected fright. "Just a second!"

He quickly pulled on his blue jeans, white t-shirt and red jacket, then opened the door.

"Alesia?" he asked. "What a pleasant surprise. Is there something wrong?"

Alesia stood there in the hallway, wrapped in a long, white negligee. Her arms were folded behind her back and she swayed a bit as she stared up and Fry, looking a bit nervous.

"N-no," she stuttered on her opening word. "I was just wondering if you'd like to come look at the moons above the ocean from my balcony? It's really beautiful and I wanted to share that with you."

"Yeah, okay... sure!" Fry smiled happily. "Let's go."

Alesia smiled and took his hand, as if guiding him to her room, though he knew where it was. As soon as they entered, Fry could see the balcony doors already open, a soft breeze blowing the long curtains around them. The light from them lit the room with a pale luminance, so Fry decided not to switch on the lights. Alesia closed the door behind her as Fry walked out onto it, then joined him.

"Wow!" Fry said. "Quite a sight!"

"Mmm-hmmmm," Alesia agreed, stopping beside him.

The whole place seemed to be bathed in permanent blue of different shades and blends, lit from the two large exceptions in the form of twin moons above the ocean and the billions of stars around them. Every building, tree and piece of land was in the calm blue of moonlit might, the gentle ocean mirroring the pearly discs in its surface as it made a soft, harmonic rustle and a cool offshore breeze blew across the faces of the two watchers.

"I'm happy that we can share this together," Alesia said, wrapping her arms around Fry.

"Yeah, this is really nice," he nodded. "And I'm usually into violence and action, rather than calm and... uh... not much action..."

Alesia giggled.

"You always say such silly things," she said. "I know Leela calls them 'stupid,' but I think they're sweet."

"Thanks," Fry chuckled. "That's a new one for sure!"

"Why do you let her put you down all the time?"

"She's my captain," Fry shrugged. "I have to put up with it."

"No you don't," Alesia argued, though with little aggression evident in her voice. "You don't have to put up with things that insult your intelligence and dignity."

Fry snorted.

"Well... she is right most of the time."

"That's no excuse for being mean" Alesia said, stepping back with her hands on her hips. "Besides, you have the rare gift of thinking with your heart. Others like Leela don't see it... but I do."

"Thanks," Fry said. "It's good to know that somebody doesn't think I'm a complete moron."

Alesia smiled, and then there was a moment of silence between. Alesia decided that this was the best time to act.

"I've got a present for you," Alesia told Fry, wandering over and picking up the shopping bag from earlier, then standing with it in front of him. He smiled.

"Oh, yeah. You went shopping earlier. What'd you get?"

"I'll show you," she said softly, stepping back to leave a good few feet between her and Fry. Fry was confused when she leant against the balcony handrail, lifted the shopping bag over the edge, and then dropped it. However, he found his jaw also dropping and things coming clearer, as she tugged at the knot on her robe, causing it to unravel and open, then slide down her shoulders to the ground. Beneath the robe she wore a skimpy, but loosely fitting chemise. It was a light violet, made of silky material and quite short, hanging into her by two thin straps draped over her shoulders. She smiled at him, her cheeks rosy with nervous excitement.

"Do you like it?" she asked him, her voice sounding as velvet as the look of her dress.

Fry was in silent awe, his eyes frozen in a glare of shock and pleasance. If there was any colour left in his face, he would be blushing too. She didn't just look sexy, she looked enigmatically stunning. The way the thin light from the clear, moonlit sky touched her seemed to create a magical glow around her. The slender curves of her figure were enhanced by the contrast between the pale luminance that touched her smooth, pale skin and glistened from her dress and hair, and the dark, shadowed areas where light failed to reach. After what seemed like forever to him, Fry finally managed to snap out of his frozen trance and speak.

"S-s-so what's is the... uh... present for me, exactly...?" he asked nervously. "T-the dress?"

Alesia giggled demurely.

"No," she said, her eyes half-closing in an alluring stare as she walked towards him slowly. "Your present is me. The dress is just something I bought to make the present more...... appealing..."

Fry gulped as she put her arms around his neck and pulled him close to her. As their lips were about to touch, Fry ducked out of her embrace, walking backwards through the door behind him nervously, surprising Alesia.

"W-whoa...! H-hey!" Fry said, his hands gesturing her to keep her distance. "Look, not that I don't like this or anything, because I'm usually the last guy to back away from a beautiful woman coming on to him, but... I still haven't really decided about you and Leela! I-I-I like you both and need some time to think about this before we.... go too far or anything..."

As he backed up, she slowly followed him, her suggestive eyes locked on him like an owl upon a field mouse. She spoke, her voice intentionally dulcet, with just a hint of spice to it.

"Come on, Fry," she purred. "Just think of this as my way of helping you decide. I asked you not to resist me when I first kissed you, and I know you enjoyed that. So, please don't resist me now. I promise... you won't regret it..."

Fry gulped, continued to back up as she slinked towards him. His willpower was slipping, and he had to get out of there. Hell, he was surprised he had lasted this long with this beautiful siren trying to seduce him. It was damn near working, but he had to have the self-will to resist it, no matter how tempting, because he wasn't ready for this. And then there was Leela. He didn't want to hurt Alesia's feeling though. But then again, she wasn't really acting like herself at the moment.

"I-I-I didn't know you were this..... racy?" Fry stammered. "You always seemed so... uh... straight laced."

"Straight laced isn't going to get me what I want," she lilted. "Sometimes it takes a little change of personality to achieve your desires."

As Fry took another few steps back, the back of his knee suddenly hit something, and he fell backwards. Luckily he landed with a light plunk on something soft. However, when he looked around and saw what it was, he realised he was in a very delicate position.

'Great!' he thought. 'I just had to fall on the damn bed!'

"Please, Fry," Alesia said, her face now partly pouting. "I love you. And I want to show you that."

"That's okay!" he said, his voice breaking mid-sentence. "I-I-I believe you! You don't have to do this!"

"But I want to," she answered.

Fry watched her, his heart pounding like a jackhammer. He suddenly yelped as she slowly slid the left strap down off her shoulder.

"Whoa there!" Fry said quickly with a nervous smile. "You only just showed me the dress... T-Th-There's no need to take it off so fast!"

Fry gulped as she let go of the strap, his eyes reflexively moving towards her now slightly more exposed cleavage. He noticed her put on another seductive look as her hand moved towards the right strap.

"Ar-A-Are you sure this is the breast idea... I-I-I mean, best! Best idea?!" Fry asked, his eyes roaming up and down her form despite his mind telling them to just focus on her face alone. "Legs... I mean let's discuss this... huh?"

She just smiled flirtatiously, then slowly began to slide the remaining strap off her right shoulder too.

"Look..." Fry responded. "Surely we can w--"

Fry cut himself off as his bottom jaw detached from the rest of his mouth. Alesia's satin sleepwear slid effortlessly down her lithe frame to the ground, leaving her standing there wearing only a pair of petite, light pink underpants with a small, carnation coloured bow on the front on them. However, she managed to leave a little to the imagination by allowing more than usual of the long hair that draped over her shoulders to modestly conceal most of her breasts. Fry could see she had done this on purpose as a tease to him. For somebody apparently so new to the art of seduction, she was doing one hell of a job. As she stepped out of the discarded garment on the floor towards him, her sapphire eyes in a dreamy glance of desire, Fry jumped, making a sound and gesture using his mouth that resembled taking a bite out of an invisible hamburger, only to have your jaw lock halfway through the process. He closed his eyes tightly.

'Come on, get a hold of yourself, Fry!' he thought. 'For once, think with your brain and not what most guys think with twenty-four seven! You have to go now, or you're not going to be able to leave at all!!'

Fry forced himself up from the bed onto his feet, opening his eyes. He immediately squealed to see her now right in front of him, only inches away. She was so close... so beautiful. He could now smell the sweet scent of the perfume she wore, it danced around and tickled his nose. His mind was telling him to run, but his legs wouldn't move, and his eyes were glued to her face. He shuddered nervously as he saw her tongue slide across her lips in anticipation.

"L-l-look... A-Alesia..." he started. "T-t-this is very... titillating and all... but... I just don't thiii....."

Fry speech trailed off, any remaining thin, threadlike defence he had left being broken, as Alesia leant forward and playfully licked the tip of his nose. He just stood there gawping as she giggled coyly, knowing now that she had him.

"This was your idea, Fry," she whispered, leaning in close slowly. "Instead of showing hate towards Leela..."

She stopped, millimetres away from him so that could feel her soft breath against his chin and almost taste her lips. "I'm going to show my love to you."

She raised her chin and her mouth touched his to gently suck on his upper lip. Then, she slowly slid her tongue along the underside of it and into his mouth to incite a passionate kiss, sliding off Fry's jacket as she did, and then lowering both of them onto the soft bed below.

Buddies