Futurama

Fan Fiction

Futurama: Universe of Malice, Part 21
By Kenneth White

Chapter 21 - Immortal Pain

Through the window it all seemed too beautiful and serene, looking down from the Nimbus across the endless stretch of sparkling water as the afternoon sun began to head towards the western horizon in the far distance, changing from a blazing white into a dull orange. But to Captain Ditte, standing there from his office, the sight didn't feel serene. It felt like death itself, burning his very soul like the sun he gazed upon. How can you make a decision when you know there isn't a right one? If two wrongs don't make a right, so why does there have to be a 'right' choice? The whole thing seemed rhetorical, because there was no satisfactory answer. Logic said the choice that had to be made was the one that would either benefit the most people or the one that would hurt the least. But that by no means made it right. Who was mortal man, or any mortal being for that matter, to make the decision? Was there any race out there with the moral wisdom to seriously make a decision? Ditte wasn't a religious man, but he always felt there was something out there: a supreme being that could be considered as being a god, by definition. Right now, he was wondering what God would decide. Surely if an all-knowing deity was out there, it would know what to do?

"Captain."

Surely, it would know. It was just beyond the comprehension of the human mind that there really could be a 'right' in all of this wrong, just as it was beyond it to fully understand infinity. But then, right and wrong are never set in stone. They are always something subjective, usually based on moral judgments made by, yet again, mortals.

"Captain."

Weren't right and wrong supposed to be one of those things that are complete opposites that rely on each other to exist? For example, for there to be good, didn't there also need to be evil? For there to be light, must not darkness also exist? Well, as far as Ditte could tell, this was not the case. Because this was a situation where wrong existed with the absence of right. Where evil existed with no good. Where darkness existed with no light. The positive factor in the so-called relationship was non-existent, and replaced with basic priority. Basic in principle, complicated in execution.

"Captain!"

Ditte startled out of musing and back into the real world. He turned back to see Lieutenant Fitzgerald standing in the doorway, looking both weary and impatient at the same time. This combined with a look of sympathy for his captain.

"Oh, sorry, Lieutenant... What is it?"

"My apologies, sir... But all evacuees are aboard now and we're ready to take the gem."

"Very well," Ditte nodded, managing to keep his voice free from emotion yet make it sound reluctant all the same. "Proceed."

Fitzgerald nodded and left, the door sliding closed again. Ditte sighed and turned back to the ocean below.

"These gems better be worth it, that's all I can say!" he growled to nobody.

If there was one thing he was proud of, it was that he had a conscience about it all. Any other captain could just blame the inadequacies of the Hydros people for this. They could say that they were idiots for not having alternatives or back-ups for the power, relying on the crystal too much. Ditte knew that was petty though. He always prided himself on not being the politician and bureaucrat most of the others of the DOOP were. Not that it usually helped. It often just meant he'd be arguing with the powers that be, then obeying orders he opposed because he believed that loyalty was important. Funnily enough, this helped him advance faster than probably every other DOOP captain to date, save for Zapp Brannigan, who was probably the most extreme politician and bureaucrat of them all, though admittedly the least brilliant. And it made him wonder: was the DOOP really a place for somebody with morals?

Outside the ship, a DOOP officer operated some controls to retract the light amplification device from the crystal, a huge lens almost like a magnifying glass. As soon as it slid away and turned on its side, the bright beam from it to the crystal vanished, as did the ones from the jewel into the water below, ceasing all power. Then, the jewel itself was brought down in the claws that held it, released from them and into the hands of Kif Kroker. He sighed as he looked at the item, a flawless shape and gossamer sapphire colour. Amazing how it didn't feel warm at all to touch considering how long it had been blasting pure heat into those large pools nearby to boil them.

"Shall we go, sir?" the ensign who had operated the machinery asked.

"Yes," Kif nodded, and he looked towards the rather unhappy looking plant workers who were looking at them.

"I'm sorry," he said simply. There wasn't much more he could say, and they didn't really acknowledge his apology anyway, just continuing to stare at them with fixed scowls.

Kif and the ensign just walked away, stepping outside and onto the lift platform that reached down from the Nimbus above to the edge of the floating plant, just outside the entrance to the main device. As soon as they did, it lifted them up and away, back to be taken inside the ship again. Kif looked down, seeing the workers had followed them outside, just to stare at them as they left like a herd of curious farm animals.

Moments later, the DOOP ship Nimbus blasted away into the distance, off to leave the inhabitants of Hydros to certain death. As the sun began to disappear, Hewson stood upon his balcony and stared up at the sky to see the distant streak of the large ship disappear. With tears in his large, round eyes, he watched it disappear into the darkening sky, and then the approaching shadow as if the departing ship had dropped a bomb of pure darkness just before they vanished.

"Murderers!" he whispered as the sun left and the darkness came. A tear dropped from the tip of his upper lip. "Murderers..."

Tink!

The tear hit the floor at his feet, a small, glassy pearl of ice. Its owner was now but a frosty statue upon a dark city. One that had become a floating tomb.


Chris grunted, swinging her large gun back over her shoulder and clipping it to her back again. It was getting heavy to just carry around now, and in the dull metal corridor they were wandering through, she couldn't foresee any imminent danger.

"How much further to go?" she growled. "We've been wandering through or climbing down these passages for hours on end."

Madcap pulled back his sleeve and checked something on his mechanised arm.

"Twenty-one hours and seventeen minutes since we touched down on the surface, to be precise."

"Waugh!" Chris exclaimed.

"Fine, we'll rest up for a while then," said Dawson, stopping on the spot. "We've got five hours to sleep, eat and do whatever else you want to do."

He chucked his pack down against the wall, then lay down with his head and shoulders resting against it. The others all threw their packs down and sat as well. Chris grabbed a bottle of water, while Boris produced a can with a picture of a cat's face on it.

Chris stopped drinking. "What, you're eating cat food now, Boris?" she asked.

"Not for cat... From cat," he stated simply.

"Waugh!" Chris exclaimed again. "That's sick, man!"

"Since when did anything sicken you?" Dawson asked.

"I happen to like cats, okay?!" she argued back gruffly.

"So does Boris," Dawson stated, pointing at the Russian.

"I meant as pets, not as a meal," Chris huffed. "They're so cute, and soft, and cuddly, and..."

Everybody was staring at her. She suddenly looked and sounded rough.

"And they can scratch your eyes out in a flash!"

Boris chuckled a bit and turned to Madcap, shaking the can back and forth. The bald man sighed and his manic grin was replaced by an annoyed pout.

"Can't you people bring your own things?" he grumbled as he reached for his belt. "I'm not a friggin toolbox!"

He clipped a metal piece into his arm that looked exactly like a can-opener. Then, the can was fixed onto it, and it whirred into life, turning the tin container around. When it was done, he handed the now opened can back to Boris and removed the attachment, grumbling as he looked at it.

"Awww! It's covered in cat food now!"

Boris ignored him and simply tipped his head and the can back, letting a gelatinous brown block the exact shape of its container slowly slide from it into his opened mouth. When it finally all disappeared, he wiped his mouth and moustache with his left arm, and hurled the can into the darkness they had come from with his right. It disappeared... at first.

Tink... tink... tink...

Everybody watched as the can emerged again, flipping over along the ground. As it passed by Dawson, his hair began to move, and his gaze left the can and focussed on where it had come from. Everybody else did too as the odd breeze touched them.

"I don't like that," said Dawson simply. "A wind in here... it doesn't feel right."

It felt even worse and the twirling can changed it action, instead shooting into the darkness like a bullet. And then the stronger gusts hit the others too.

"Backpacks on!" yelled Dawson over the buffeting flow of air.

Everybody struggled to pull them on, but eventually did. Chris pushed against it to reach Dawson.

"What do we do now?!" she asked loudly. Then, the blast was too much, knocking all four of them from their feet and sending them through the tunnels at an awesome velocity, and making Dawson scream his reply as he was shot into the distance with his comrades.

"BRAAAAAAAAAACE!!!"


It had better work. For the sake of those back on Hydros, it had better damn well work! That one object, a small blue jewel, had make Ditte feel guilty over the deaths of millions upon millions of innocent lives. If it didn't work, he'd damn near take his own... not that it would make up for the injustice. Not by a long-shot.

"Captain," the voice of a female called.

Maybe he wasn't cut out to command the Nimbus? Captain Brannigan would have done that mission with no worries or feelings of guilt at all. He'd just go and take it, and to hell with who suffered. That was why Zapp was good for the DOOP: he got the job done with no problems. It was probably his only positive attribute, that he would consider his mission as paramount and keep at it until he had achieved victory, not caring about the costs along the way.

"Captain."

It may have been his only positive attribute all right, but for the DOOP, it was a major one that seemed to make up for his many other flaws. Results were always the key for them, never how it was done. Perhaps the DOOP's flagship wasn't for him after all, since it usually took care of the primary missions? Perhaps DOOP overall wasn't for him?

"Captain!"

Ditte clicked into reality at Sheana's third, more urgent call. He stopped looking at the jewel and whirled around, looking slightly bewildered but still alert. His mind had been away like that for the past two hours of travelling since they had left Hydros.

"Yes, Lieutenant?"

"Sir, the Contrail is approaching us from the starboard bow," she explained, pointing ahead at the main screen.

Ditte looked across, and there was a ship that looked like the old Nimbus. However, it was facing upside down to them. There was a triple bleep from Sheana's console.

"Incoming message, Captain," she informed.

"On screen," Ditte nodded. A thin-faced DOOP officer with a flat, greasy haircut, pointed ears and three rank pips appeared. He was wearing the old style uniform and had a joint between his fingers. His eyes were yellow with dark bags under them.

"Commander S. Pot here," he said in a plain, boring voice. "We've come to pick up the evacuees."

"Two questions first, Commander," said Ditte. "First of all, where is your captain?"

"Dave's not here, man," he replied dully.

"I don't want Dave, I want your captain."

"He is our captain," came a simple reply. "Captain Dave. He is currently sleeping, sir."

"Okay, very well. Secondly: Why is your ship upside down, Commander?" Ditte asked.

"What? You must be using some form of humour, Captain," he replied seriously. "For it is your ship that is upside down."

"I'm afraid not... this ship is tuned correctly to the universal direction of 'up' while travelling in space. I think your ship is in the error."

"That is possible," Pot replied in his boring tone. "After all, I am illogically high."

"How is it illogical?" Ditte queried. "You have a joint between your fingers."

Pot lifted up his hand, simply cocking an eyebrow as he looked at it with no other change of facial expression.

"Whoa," he stated emotionlessly, not even raising his voice a little. "So I have. Fascinating..."

"Your ship, Commander..."

"Yes. I will check now," Pot replied. He looked at an instrument, his eyebrow cocking again.

"It appears you are right, Captain," he answered simply. "Fascinating... I shall make corrections now."

"Excellent," Ditte nodded. "We shall prepare for ship to ship transfer of the people."

"Illogical, Captain," stated Pot. "As our ship transfer system is malfunctioning after a recent battle. We will have to use shuttlecraft."

"It will take a while... but okay."

"Very well," nodded Pot from the other end. "Peace out."

Pot held up his joint-free hand, palm facing the screen. His index finger and middle finger were touching, and his pinkie finger was spread away from them. He suddenly looked at his hand and jumped, just a little.

"Wait... I am in error," he stated emotionlessly. He then changed it so that only his index and middle finger were up to make a 'peace sign' with his hand. Then, his image disappeared.

Ditte turned to Kif. "Let's go, Kif," he said. "Time to transfer these Hydrozoans."

"But, sir," Kif objected. "Transferring by shuttle will take far too long! We'll miss out rendezvous at Glaciatus with the Planet Express ship."

"Sorry, Kif," Ditte sighed. "But this has to be done. We can't afford to endanger these people any longer with our mission. We'll be late I know, but we'll still get there. And when we have this jewel, I'm sure they won't leave before meeting us."

Ditte turned and left through the rear bridge doors. Kif sighed heavily, then followed where the captain had gone.


SLURP!

Leela was woken by a wet slap to the face and a strange and familiar sound. She opened her eyes to see Nibbler sitting on her, slurping her face. She sat up in her bed a bit higher and picked him up off her stomach.

"Hi there, Schnookums! How are you?" she said in cutesy speak. Nibbler jabbered about something, a partially sad expression on his face. Leela frowned.

"Awwwww..." she cooed. "You still haven't been fed, have you?"

Nibbler shook his head with a whine. Leela smiled sweetly.

"Awww... you're so cute when you're hungry," she smiled. "I'll get Bender to fetch you something."

She tried to move around, grunting. After a good five seconds she sighed and stopped.

"Damn, still paralysed!"

There was a creaking from across the room, and Leela looked up to see her door opening. Alesia stepped in.

"Oh, you're awake," she said. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Uhhh... Yeah, actually," Leela said reluctantly, sounding either sceptical of Alesia or just reluctant to ask her for help. "Could you please tell Bender to feed Nibbler something?"

"Sure," she smiled, then began to close the door.

"And Alesia!" Leela called, sounding serious about something. Alesia stopped closing the door and paused.

"Yes?"

"That conversation we had before I fell asleep didn't happen, okay?"

"Uh... sure," Alesia said. And the door closed again. Leela sighed.

"Well, I wonder how close we are to Glaciatus?" she asked Nibbler. She looked at her clock radio to see the time. The digital display said 19:13.

"I might as well listen to the radio to pass the time," she shrugged. "Wonder if there are any stations out here?"

Leela reached over and flicked a switch on the clock radio. A friendly, confident and slightly cocky voice boomed through the speakers.

"All right, this is your talk radio show Confabulation Compartment, with me, Wolzal. Let's go to the interstellar communications device! Hello, caller... You're on Confabulation Compartment..."

"Hey, yuh ever had human?" A rustic, yokel voice replied. "That's some good eatin'!"

"Naw," Wolzal's voice answered, followed by a snort, "I really can't say I have..."

"Well, yuh ought'ta try it some time," the caller's voice suggested. "I tell yuh man... it's good eatin'! Human. Omicronian. Even Neutral meat. Cooks up pretty good..."

"Uhhh..." Wolzal exclaimed after a pause. "Do you have anything else to say, errr..?"

"Decapodians. Decapodians are good too. Sometimes they come with pearls inside. Trisolians! Trisolians are not so good... They're real watery... Y'know what I mean?"

"Uhhh... Actually, I can't say that I do," Wolzal answered. "Um... bu-but I know one place I probably would eat well at, and that's Earth in two days time in the Milky Way galaxy. The Democratic Order of Planets will be holding a special funeral for those who have lost their lives recently while trying to oppose some new threat to the universe, along with a special dinner to honour their legendary captain and five star general to Earth, Zapp Brannigan, who unfortunately lost his life to it. It will be held outside the White House in Washington D.C. and hosted by the President of Earth himself, Al Gore's head..."

"That idiot would get a heroes farewell!" Leela snorted.

"Okay, we have more calls coming through," Wolzal continued. "Line four, you're on the air..."

"Avanzino Galaxy male reproductive organs rule!" an obnoxious and deep voice yelled quickly.

"Ah, that's lovely... thanks," Wolzal said sarcastically as he cut off the caller. Leela switched off the radio too.

"We must be close now, Nibbler," she said as she stroked his fur. "That annoying caller told us we're in the right galaxy obviously."

The door opened and Alesia face poked around the corner.

"Bender says he has something for Nibbler," she said. Nibbler perked up and ran out the door. Alesia turned from watching him to Leela as the cyclops spoke.

"Do you know how far to go to Glaciatus?"

"Just over an hour and a half apparently," Alesia answered. "Is there anything else you want?"

"No, that's all," Leela said forwardly.

"Sure? You're not hungry or anything? I can get you some food."

"Okay!" Leela growled suddenly. "What's the deal?!"

"Huh?"

"Why are you being so nice to me? Are you trying to get on my good side in an attempt to let my guard down?"

"No, like I said before, I want us to make up. I'm trying to stop being self-centered and possessive and actually help people. I want to be like I used to be, and stop being so jealous regarding Fry."

"So you're not up to something?"

"Nope," Alesia said, shaking her head. "I don't expect you to fully trust me, but at least give me a chance. So are you hungry or not?"

"Well..."

"I'll even make something for you myself if you don't want to eat Bender's food."

"Okay then," Leela said reluctantly. Alesia smiled.

"Alright. I should have something ready in a few minutes."

Alesia closed the door and wandered into the cockpit. There, Amy and Fry spoke with Elod, while Zoidberg waited at the chess board.

"It's still your move, Alesia," the doctor called as she wander past towards the galley door.

"I'm just going to get Leela something and I'll be right back," she said, then disappeared through the door.

Meanwhile, Fry asked Elod a question: "So, if this staff thing can destroy this huge beast and all... surely it has one hell of a kick on it?"

"I would say so, yes," nodded Elod. "Which is why I have a special object in my ship to help me with that."

"What is it?" Amy enquired.

"A special suit that increases my strength tenfold."

"Wow! You'll be twice as strong then!" Fry commented.

"Will it be enough?" Amy asked.

"I hope so," Elod answered, gazing out at the stars. "Boy do I hope so."


It was the year 2982 that the National Archaeological Museum of Athens was to be shut down, being bought out by MomCorp to set up another robot building facility for Mom's Friendly Robot Company. Priceless artifacts had to be sold, including a certain assortment of items discovered in the 2300's along with the lost city of Atlantis. These trinkets went up for auction, and for no small price either. One item in particular was a strange trident.

"Okay, do I have an opening bid for this item?" the auctioneer asked with a thick, Greek accent. "The Trident of Atlantis, from the ancient sunken city itself. One of the few surviving artifacts from it, and it may very well have a very important object for the Atlantides. Some scientists suggest it may have belonged to their organised crime leader of the sea, Posse Don."

"Fifty dollars," a young looking Alkazar in his insect-like form said roughly. "It'll go well in one of the ancient statues I use to lure my freaks."

"Don't be absurd," snorted the auctioneer. "This is a rare and valuable item!"

"Sixty then?" Alkazar shrugged.

"Fifty thousand," a man called from a desk nearby. He was holding a phone.

"We have fifty thousand from the Colonel of Atlanta on the phone," said the auctioneer. "Do I hear a hundred thousand?"

"Five hundred thousand dollars," called a dark-haired man with a thin beard and tinted glasses from near the front.

"One million!" a rich-looking female Decapodian yelled quickly.

"Twelve quatloos!" a glowing red brain sitting in a case said in a high-pitched voice.

"Two million," the dark-haired man called again.

"Two goats, a chicken, and my second daughter's betrothal in marriage," a rough looking man in sandals said in a strange accent.

"Twenty quatloos!" the red brain said.

"Okay, make that three goats instead of two," the poorly looking man said.

"He's got me beat!" the brain whined in frustration.

"Three million," the bearded man added. She smirked and turned to the poorly man. "I hope you have a forth goat?"

"I don't," he groaned.

"Well do I have any more bids?" the auctioneer announced. "Currently at three million dollars..."

Silence.

"Going once..."

Nothing.

"Going twice..."

Still nothing.

"Final chance to pick up this item before it goes..."

So quiet, you could hear it if a fly in a sealed jar with a silencer in its rear-end had broken-wind. And then... BLAM!

"Sold!" the auctioneer said as the hammer came down. "To Mister..?"

"Cruz," said the buyer with a smile. "John Cruz."


"Here we are," announced Amy cheerfully. "Glaciatus. Average surface temperature, minus five degrees Celsius!"

"Man, that's cold!" Fry commented. "Do we even know where to land?"

"Always try the largest settlement," said Elod. "Most of the time, that's where what you're looking for will be."

"Roger," said Amy. "Fry, can you tell Zoidberg to give Leela the anti-paralysis shot now?"

"Sure," Fry smiled, then got up and left.

Elod spoke, "She won't try and kill me, I hope."

"You never can tell with Leela," Amy said seriously after a small chuckle.

The ship zoomed down to the snowy surface, searching the area for settlements. Meanwhile, Zoidberg wandered into Leela's room with Fry and a large injection. Leela moaned loudly.

"What the hell is that?!"

"This'll get your legs working again it will," Zoidberg said simply. Leela sneered.

"Why is the antidote needle always five times as big as the first one?"

"There's no medical reason for that actually," said Zoidberg. "We doctors just like big needles."

"Well, let's get this over with then," Leela sighed, holding her arm out.

"Nonononono... not the arm," Zoidberg said, shaking his head. "It's a cheek injection."

"My cheek?!" Leela stammered. "Well, okay then... Just be careful not to poke out my eye..."

She leaned her face forward and faced her right cheek towards him, closing her eye. Zoidberg shook his head.

"No, your other cheek," Zoidberg said. Leela turned her face the other way. Zoidberg shook his head again.

"Not that one either," he said. "One of your buttocks cheeks."

"What?!!" Leela jumped.

"That's where the paralysis takes effect, so turn over and I'll jam this thing in your behindis," Zoidberg said. Leela rolled her eye with frustration and turned over, while Fry stood up.

"I'd better go then..." he said simply. "Give Leela some privacy."

"Wait, Fry," Leela said. "I want to talk to yoooOWW!!"

And the needle went in. Zoidberg smiled.

"There we go," he said as he pulled it out again, then turned to Fry. "Wait, Fry... You'll need to rub Leela's legs until the feeling comes back."

"Huh?" Fry said. Leela frowned.

"No he doesn't," she said.

Zoidberg shook his head.

"Yes he does. You need to get the circumcision going in them manually or it might not work properly. And I can't do it with these claws."

"Don't you mean circulation?" Leela corrected.

"Whatever. I don't have time to learn all the human anatomy terms," Zoidberg shrugged. "It took me long enough to learn humans have four fingers and a thumb on each hand."

Leela groaned.

Zoidberg continued, "Look, I could always get Alesia to come and--"

"No! Fry is fine!" Leela said quickly.

"Wonderful!" Zoidberg smiled. "Now to grab my jacket."

"So we've arrived then?" asked Leela as Fry began to awkwardly rub one of her legs.

Zoidberg nodded.

"Yes. That's why you're getting unparalysed now. See you later."

After the door closed behind the doctor, there was an awkward silence.

"Have you been avoiding me, Fry?" Leela asked.

"Huh?"

"This is the first time you've been in here since I was brought here," she said. "Unless you were in my underwear drawers while I was asleep?"

"No," Fry answered simply.

"Okay, I'm going to be forward and put this simply," Leela said. "Despite what you said before I was stabbed, you said you still consider me a friend. If that's the case, please stop being so cold towards me."

Fry was surprised. Leela didn't raise her voice, or even sound angry. She was looking genuinely sad about it all. He sighed.

"I'm sorry," Fry said with a smile. "You're right, I have been kind of icy towards you. I'm still mad at you for rejecting me and all. But I should be over that now, so I should also just get back to being your friend."

"Thanks Fry," she smiled. "So now that we've cleared that up, could you rub more than just the back of my left knee."

"Huh?" Fry startled "Oh, sorry..."

"Rub them all over," Leela said.

"Uh... how high?" Fry asked nervously.

"Up to my thighs, but not too high," she said.

"You sure?"

"Fry, as a friend, I'm axing you to rub my thighs in a strictly platonic way," she stated. He smiled back.

"And speaking of being friendly... What's with Alesia being all nicey nice? She's been going out of her way to help me. She even brought me this really nice salad about an hour ago."

"Oh, that... She's just trying to be her old self again. She realised how selfish, uncaring and petty she had been lately over this all. Once she did, she scared herself and wanted to make up for it. Especially to you."

"I see..."

"She seems really happy now actually," Fry smiled. "She's been getting on well with the others... played against Zoidberg at chess a few times... helped Bender with the cooking... Showed Amy how to read star maps really well. It's made her really happy, and she isn't worried about me or you or anything."

"Be careful, Fry... It could just be a ploy."

"Jeez! Aren't you ever going to give her a break?" Fry groaned.

"Look, I still don't fully trust her. And it's going to take a lot for that to change. But I promised her I was going to try and treat her nicely at least."

"Well... it's a start I guess," Fry grumbled. He still didn't sound that happy.

"Hey, I'm starting to get some feeling in them now," Leela smiled.

"Really?" Fry smiled.

"Yeah, you're good at this," she answered. "It's like you rub things often, or something..."

Fry laughed nervously, his pupils darting back and forth. Leela motioned for him to stop, and he did.

"I think they're almost back now," she said. She turned over onto her back again and sat up, moving her left leg slowly and rubbing it herself.

"I'm fine from here," she smiled. "Thanks, Fry. Could you grab my jacket before you leave?"

"Sure," he said. He walked over the coat hanger near the door and grabbed her green captain's jacket, then handed it to her.

"Thanks You can go back to the others now. I'll be there in five minutes."



Less than five minutes later, the Planet Express ship touched down in an open area in the largest of the villages they could find. All the places seemed to be fairly small on the planet, and fairly primitive too. No signs of much technology, with all the villages consisting of small wooden, stone or clay houses with thatched roofs, and this one was no exception as Leela, Fry, Zoidberg, Bender, Alesia and Elod all wandered down to the snowy surface and looked around. It looked like a scene from a 20th Century Xmas display, or even a bit like the village of the Neptunians outside Santa's death fortress if it was a happy place. Aside from Bender and Elod, the others all wore warm jackets. Leela turned straight to Elod.

"Let's get two things clear between us," she said, sounding forceful but not angry. "Firstly, I'm in charge again now. And secondly, we're not going to kill anybody or take it by force. Got that?"

"As you wish," he answered.

"Good," said Leela. "Well, let's g--"

She looked around.

"Where's Amy?"

"Sorry I'm late!" Amy's voice rang from behind them. "I just had to put on my jacket."

She ran down the stairs and stood there, her jacket having no arms at all as well as being very low cut at the collar to reveal some cleavage, showing that she wasn't wearing her pink sweatshirt, not to mention being figure hugging. It was bright red with a belt around the waist, a golden buckle on the front that, knowing Amy, was real gold.

"Another buy at Laplace, Amy?" Leela wondered with a slight huff.

Amy nodded, a cute smile on her face.

"Uh-huh... And how exactly does that protect you from the cold?" Leela asked her dryly.

"I 'unno," she shrugged. "But it's cute, isn't it?"

Amy suddenly stopped smiling and rubbed her bare arms.

"Boy! It's cold out here, huh?"

Leela rolled her eye and sighed.

"Okay, let's go people," she ordered.

Fry posed the obvious question: "Where exactly are we going?"

"Around the village. Look out for any churches or temples or other religious buildings that could have a sacred candle holder."

"There's a house over there with 'Starbucks' on it," said Bender pointing back over his shoulder. "How about there?"

"I don't think so somehow," Leela answered.

The group stopped as another came over to them. They were all quite short, about waist-height, grass-green skin and bright blue clothes that looked thick and warm. Large round noses sat below beady eyes and above bucked teeth. They either had yellow hair or no hair too, and all wore woollen hats. The one at the front of the group had thick glasses, a cane and looked quite a bit older than the others.

"Who are you strangers?" he asked with a high-pitched, but elderly, voice. "Why are you here?"

"He's either Papa Smurf or Professor Farnsworth if he were an elf," Fry whispered aside with a chuckle.

Leela ignored him and spoke, "We're travellers from Earth looking for some special, ancient objects. We believe you might have one of them. We believe you guys use it as a special candle holder."

A collective gasp rang from the group of natives.

"Yes, we possess said item," the elder said. "It has been a sacred religious object for our people for centuries. Why do you seek it?"

"We seek to destroy an ancient evil before it lays waste to the entire universe."

"Seems noble enough," the elder said, rubbing his chin. "Of course, I'm just assuming you're telling the truth, with no proof whatsoever. Follow me."

The crew followed the elder towards a tallish building not too far away. He opened the large wooden doors, then motioned the others in. They all had to duck to prevent banging their heads on the doorframe. Luckily the ceiling inside the building was tall, as they wandered down an aisle between rows of benches. At the end of this, the elder stopped and pointed up at a dusty metal object mounted on the wall. It was golden, with three cups which held partially melted and unlit candles.

"There it is," he said simply. "However, because of what it is... I can't let you just take it away."

"I'm sure we can come to some sort of agreement," Leela nodded.

BOOM!

An explosion outside, followed by high-pitched screams and yells.

"I thought I turned off my booze still before we left the ship?" said Bender, scratching his metal head.

Everybody rushed out the door and gasped, Fry hitting his head on the door frame first.

"Pirates!" yelled the elder.

"Sure enough, Captain Peck's large ship descended down towards them, random cannons firing down upon the village.

"Crud! How'd they find us so fast?!" Leela remarked.

"If you can get rid of these pirates, we'll give you the candle-holder!" the elder pleaded. "They've plagued us in this galaxy for years now!"

"You'd give it to us just for that?" Bender asked.

"Yes, I said it was sacred to us for centuries, but not which centuries it was sacred during," the elder explained. "This planet hasn't been religious for more than seventy years now."

"Okay, we'll help you then," nodded Leela. "We just have to get to our weapons..."

Peck's ship landed on the snow before them, about a two dozen feet away.

"Too bad they just landed between us and our ship then," Bender said.

Boarding planks flipped down upon the surface from the deck of the ship, and the energy dome around the top half disappeared. Leela turned to the others.

"Run!"

The group all dove behind the nearest building as pirates began to emerge on the deck of the ship. A familiar, gruff voice growled out loudly.

"We know you're here, Captain Leela!" Sebastian called. "And when we find you and your friends... you're going to regret messing with us!!"

"We're boned!" noted Bender. Leela turned around to face the native elder.

"Do you have weapons of any kind?" she whispered to him. He nodded.

"Not as such, but this is a sword shop we're hiding behind," he said, pointing up at a hanging sign above them that indicated this.

Leela smiled. "Good enough."

"Come on out, or we'll decimate this harmless village until we find you!" Sebastian yelled from the summit of one of the boarding planks.

"He we are!" Leela called back. All pirate heads turned right to see her and the others running out of the door of a nearby building, each with a sword in one of their hands.

Sebastian grinned. "You expect those swords to match up against our guns?"

"Screw the guns!" Leela yelled up at him. "Let's finish this once and for all, with old fashioned, hand-to-hand combat! Using swords!"

Sebastian laughed, his claws on his hips.

"I like a challenge!" he growled happily. "So be it. This is decided here and now!"

He turned around.

"Guns overboard. me hearties, and draw your swords. It's swashbuckling time!"

As a hail of pistols flew from the boat onto the snow below, Leela yelled up at him again, "How did you find us so fast, Sebastian?! The last you would have heard, we were going to Graz, not here!"

"Easy," he growled. "The tracking device."

Leela gasped, while Sebastian chuckled.

"You idiots forgot to remove it!"

Leela glowered at the pirate Commander, and the last of the guns fell on the ground. Sebastian shot Leela a nasty grin.

"That's all the guns then. What do you say about that?" he asked. Leela smirked up at him.

"Just this.... YAAAAAAAAAA!!!"

Leela charged towards the ship, with Bender and Elod right behind her. Amy, Zoidberg and Fry joined in soon afterwards, and finally Alesia went along with it too. Leela charged up the plank towards Sebastian, who waited with his hooks. She pulled back her sword, ready to strike, then did... but with her foot. Launching with a nasty spear-kick, Leela caught Sebastian off guard with her sword-ploy, her boot stabbing him in the gut and sending him backwards and down a hole in the deck for one of the cargo holds. She landed on her feet again, then quickly began skirmishing with another pirate, while the others ran up onto the ship as well, engaging in their own battles.

"You can do better than that!" Leela yelled at her opponent.

"No I can't!" he answered nervously. "I'm a nameless minion!"

"Fine!" Leela said, then she quickly knocked the sword out of his hands. He screamed, while Leela readied herself.

"HEEEEE-YA!"

Leela leapt in the air and gave him a swift roundhouse kick to the cheek. He flew into the same cargo hold Sebastian was knocked into, knocking the Commander, who had just about crawled back out again, back down. Another pirate charged Leela from behind in an attempt at surprise, but she just rolled her eye and sighed.

"Ohhh... minions..."

She ducked and spun around with a leg sweep, tripping up the pirate. Switching her sword to her left hand, she then picked him up by the collar and biffed him over the edge of the boat with just her right.

"Is this the best you can muster, Peck?" she snorted as she flicked her sword back to her stronger hand. The sound of a heavy stomp came from behind and Leela whirled around.

"I think you've advanced to level two," said a cocky female voice. There stood Lieutenant Tommassello with a devious smirk, and a sword ready. She posed for battle, and Leela smirked back.

"This is more like it," she said, then rushed in to clash with the pirate lieutenant. Meanwhile, Bender and Elod battled near each other, both being more ruthless when it came to taking on their opponents. Elod stabbed his latest attacker in the stomach with no signs of remorse, letting him drop to the deck.

"This is too easy," he snorted.

Bender chuckled as he traded blows with another pirate. "I'll say," he agreed, then turned to his opponent again. "Hey, moron! You shoes're untied."

"I'm not falling for that!" he growled at Bender.

"Fine then..." Bender replied, and he flicked his sword quickly at the pirate, taking off both of his hands in the process. The pirate screamed, looking at the bloody stumps.

"Not as if you could have tied them again anyway," Bender quipped.

Zoidberg and Amy fought nearby too. Amy's opponent seemed to enjoy fighting her a lot, spending more effort in admiring her outfit than actually fighting much.

"If you prefer, we could fight without the weapons," he smirked. "Do some wrestling."

"Jerk!" Amy said, and she swiped her sword violently at him, slicing him across the chest, but only causing a small scratch.

"Two can play at that game!" he said, and he took a swipe at her chest, slicing off the top button on her jacket. The front of it opened up a bit to reveal more cleavage. He grinned while Amy screamed.

"You bastard!" she yelled, and stepped forward to and gave him a hard slap to the cheek with her hand. He dropped his sword, but as he stooped to pick it up, Amy drew her foot back and delivered a kick to his chin. Either it was made of glass, or the force from it causing his head to fly back and down onto to deck knocked him cold. Amy grunted and gave him a final kick.

"Why are all men breast obsessed jerks?!" she huffed to Zoidberg, who was fighting another pirate awkwardly. "Is there a medical reason?!"

"Well... not all men are obsessed with female mammary glands, Amy," he said so blandly, anybody not watching wouldn't know he was fighting. "Only the male ones. And by the way, Amy... human eyes: like salt water or hate salt water?"

"I'd say hate," she answered.

"Wonderful," he said, then swiftly turned around and shot a jet from one of his tendrils into his adversary's eyes. The pirate stumbled jack, letting his weapon go. Zoidberg grabbed him as he staggered.

"What are you doing?" Amy asked.

"Bender taught me this sleeper hold you can use to immobilise an enemy without killing them," he smiled. "Good for legal reasons apparently. There's a pressure point on his neck here somewhere..."

Zoidberg squeezed the pirate's throat. He fell instantly to the ground, bleeding heavily and making choking sounds.

Amy gasped.

"Zoidberg! You slit his throat!" she said in shock.

"No, it's just a sleeper hold," Zoidberg said, dismissing Amy's accusation.

"Then how come he's bleeding everywhere and drowning in his own blood?" she asked, pointing down at where the gurgling sounds where coming from.

"Uh... that's a side effect..."

The noises stopped.

"Isn't this the exact reason you no longer take human neck pulses," Amy said.

Zoidberg suddenly looked angry. "You want me to test it on you too?!!" he yelled, clacking his claws menacingly. Amy backed away nervously.

"No! No! I'm alriiieeek!"

She jumped and turned around as something poked her in the butt. She was expecting a sword, but the object near her bottom was a pirate's hand. He smiled nervously and guiltily up at her and she frowned.

"BAKA!" she yelled, swinging her sword around and lopping off the outstretched hand. The pirate screamed and Amy suddenly gasped and looked shocked.

"Oh no! I am so sorry!" she said.

"No, I had it coming," he sighed. "Now if you'll excuse me... I'm off to sick bay..."

As he scurried away, Leela continued to fight Tommassello. The pirate lieutenant swished her sword, catching Leela's arm to give her a nasty scratch. Leela yelped at first, but then sneered.

"Not bad. But how about this!"

She spun her foot around, kicking the sword from her opponents hand. A look of surprise also morphed into a sneer on the pirate's face too, even without a weapon.

"So it's martial-swordplay then, is it?"

She did a swift flipping kick, catching Leela on the hand to disarm her too and landing on her feet again gracefully. Leela smiled.

"No problems. HEEE-YA!"

She dealt out a roundhouse kick, but Tommassello ducked and did a leg sweep, tripping Leela up. The cyclops swiftly flipped backwards and onto her feet again to avoid a second blow, then returned one to he pirate to make contact and send her sailing across into a cabin wall. Tommassello stood up and smiled, then charged Leela. As the pirate dove, Leela rolled back, her foot catching her opponent's stomach to flip her backwards over her and into the distance. Tommassello quickly recovered, and with her sword again no less. She charged Leela with it, and the cyclops rolled aside, gaining a sword of her own again along the way, and using it to quickly block and incoming strike.

"This is good," said Leela as the swords locked. "I like challenge!"

She pushed Tommassello back, and they continued to swordfight. As Leela backed up, she bumped backs with Fry, who was fighting another pirate himself.

"Leela!" Fry said between short, fast breaths. "I haven't seen Captain Peck... I wonder... why she isn't here?"

"I know," Leela called. "And I don't--"

She ducked as Tommassello's sword swished past where her neck would have been.

"And I don't like it!" she finished.

"FRY!!" a loud voice boomed above the clashing of weapons.

Everybody's attention turned to the owner of the voice, Commander Sebastian, who was standing high at the top of the stairs near the entrance to the bridge. Fry gasped, especially when he saw that the pirate commander was not alone.

"It'd stop what you're doing RIGHT now!!" he suggested. For there, in his grasp, was Alesia. His right claw was positioned at her upper stomach region, while his left was poking slightly into the centre of her chest.

"Let her go!!" yelled Fry.

"Not yet!" yelled Sebastian back. "If you want to get her alive, I suggest you and all your friends drop your weapons, and give us the items we want!"

"We can't give them the staff pieces now, Fry!" said Leela. "Not when we've come this far!"

"If you don't," said the Commander. "I'll carve a big smiley face across her neck!"

Sebastian demonstrated by motioning his left claw back and forth, just inches from Alesia's throat.

"Leela!" Fry yelled. "Stun Alesia!"

"Don't be stupid, Fry... Firstly, I don't have my gun. And secondly, they won't fall for that again. Especially when you've just yelled it out loud."

Fry groaned with frustration.

"Okay!!" he called desperately, dropping his sword. "We'll comply!!"

"Fry!!" said Leela.

"Shut up, Leela!" Fry snapped back in a rather uncommon display of hostility towards his captain. "Everybody...... Drop your weapons!"

Leela, Amy, Bender, Zoidberg and Elod all, reluctantly, complied.

"Bender," directed Fry. "Give them the staff bits."

Grumbling disapproval, Bender twisted the combination on his torso door and opened it. He took out the red, green, and orange gems, and the part of the staff they had acquired. He handed them to the pirate he was fighting, who then in turn walked over to the Commander with the stuff.

"Take them to the captain," he ordered.

The pirate nodded and left.

"Okay, we've done what you asked us to!" Fry said angrily. "Now give back Alesia!"

"Very well," said Sebastian. "She's all yours..."

No sooner had the pirate finished his sentence, when he jerked his right claw violently back and up. Alesia's eyes widened and she yelped in pain as the sharp metal device perforated her stomach, sliding into her abdomen with no problems.

"NO!!!" Fry yelled, fear and pain in his eyes.

Before Fry could even move, Sebastian thrust his left claw back as well, pulling the incisive hook effortlessly into the centre of her chest, causing her to cry in pain once again. As Fry sprinted towards the scene, the others all just looked in shock and disbelief.

"Here you go!" Sebastian said sadistically. He then removed his claws from his victim, letting her drop like a rag doll to the ground and tumble ungainly down the steps at his feet, leaving behind a random trail of blood. Everybody, even most of the pirates, had tears in their eyes at the sight.

"Oh, no..." Leela whispered woefully. "No....."

Alesia's body came to a halt at the feet of the stairs, just as Fry got to her. Tears running down his face, he quickly turned her over and looked at her. Taking off his jacket instantly, he pressed down with it as firmly as he could on the wounds.

"ZOIDBERG!!!" he yelled, his voice partially obscured by his sobbing and stunned state.

As Zoidberg began to make his way towards the scene, Fry looked back down at Alesia. She slowly opened her eyes and looked back.

"Fry," she whispered back, her voice barely audible.

As her eyes closed again, Fry's pained expression of anguish changed to one of rage. He looked up at Sebastian. The cocky pirate stood there with an evil smirk, then slowly licked the dark, crimson liquid from one of his blood-coated claws. Even after the malicious act of inhuman carnage, he still taunted Fry mercilessly.

"You lying, cold-hearted BASTARD!!!" Fry growled, his eyes burning with fury.

"I may be a cold hearted bastard!" said Sebastian. "But I never lied. I said I would return her to you alive. I didn't specify how long she'd stay that way though, did I?"

Zoidberg arrived and stooped to pick her up.

"Let's get her to the medical bay!" Fry sobbed at the doctor.

As Fry and the crustacean doctor departed swiftly with Alesia's body, Amy approached him.

"No, Fry!" she said. "Leave it to Zoidberg!"

"B-B-But Alesia... I-I have to be with her now!" Fry protested.

"I know you Fry... you'll just get in the way and do more harm than good," she told him. "Leave it to Zoidberg to take care of. He'll have enough trouble with it without you in his way."

"But... she needs me there!" Fry choked. "I need to be with her!"

He tried to get past, making desperate grunts and reaching towards her in Zoidberg's arms, but Amy physically blocked him. She pushed him back and gave him a look that just said 'No.'

"Leave it, Fry... You can go to her when Zoidberg has stabilised her," Amy said. "It'll up her chances."

Fry sighed in defeat and nodded, then yelled out to Zoidberg, who was almost in the ship.

"Do what you can! Please! Save her, Zoidberg!!!"

"I'll do my best," called Zoidberg sadly, his eyes also awash with sympathetic tears. Sebastian just chuckled as the doctor ran into the ship.

"I'll give her this," he stated. "She takes after her mother."

Fry turned around slowly, a look of angry confusion on his face.

"What do you mean by that?!!" he yelled. "ANSWER ME!!!"

"What I mean," hissed Sebastian. "Is that I've seen her and her mother before. A long time ago..."

He paused and grinned evilly for a moment, directing it straight at Fry. He held up his hooks.

"Let's just say, her mother's blood glazed these hooks as well!"

Fry's eyes flared with pure rage, and his teeth almost cracked under the pressure of his own rage-clasped jaws.

"I'd have killed her too," Sebastian continued. "But... I thought it might be interesting to see how she coped with it all."

As the pirate commander broke into a devilish cackle, Fry picked up a stray sword from the ground and glared at Sebastian.

"You're.... not..... going.... to.... get.... away.... with.... this!!!" he said between angry sobs.

As Fry approached the commander, two other pirates blocked his way, each holding a sword.

"Let him past!" a commanding, feminine voice called.

Everybody looked across to Sebastian's far right to see Captain Peck standing at the door to the bridge. She looked angry, and Fry could swear he saw tears in her eye too.

"Commander Sebastian induced this act of cruelty," she said. "And it's up to him to face up to the consequences of his act!"

As the two pirates stepped aside, Peck glared at her first officer.

"Isn't it, you cold-blooded bastard?!"

"Captain......?" Sebastian questioned with disbelief.

"I do NOT condone such acts of foul cruelty aboard my ship, Commander!" she explained. "When a member of my crew does something like this, they, and they ALONE, must face up to what's coming to them!"

"Fine!" Sebastian grunted. "I can take this wimp on by myself anyway! I don't NEED anybody's help! He'll be impaled on these hooks, just like she was!"

Fry snorted angrily, almost like a charging bull.

"I've had my body mangled in a car crash, my head, nose and all my limbs removed, and had a lead pipe and giant bee stinger go right through me!!! Do you REALLY think your stupid hooks are going to stop me?!!"

He charged Sebastian wildly, fuelled on pure rage and hate. As he ran up the stairs, he swung his sword wildly at Sebastian. The Commander caught it in his right claw, hooking Fry's sword so that it jammed. He then kicked the struggling delivery boy in the stomach, sending him falling down the stairs as he let go of the sword, and covering him in even more of Alesia's blood than he already was. The sight was not pretty for the onlookers, and when Fry got to his feet again, he looked at the blood all over him, then became conflicted as to whether he should go insanely mad or just break down and cry.

"He's going to get himself killed!" Leela worried. "He's emotionally distressed, can't think straight, and is completely overpowered!"

"Perhaps," said Elod. "But perhaps he'll get pushed far enough to turn that into a strength."

Leela glanced sideways at the Rabbish and he returned the gaze.

"It can happen. Believe me... I know," Elod added.

Fry screamed with rage and charged at Sebastian again, no weapon at all.

"Fry!" Leela called as the rest all just gasped. Fry got to the muscular pirate commander, but was knocked aside like a children's toy with a backhand swipe from his claw. This meant Fry wasn't skewered, but the thick, rounded back edge of the claw still cracked into his jaw very painfully. Hey just lay on the ground for a while and Sebastian chuckled evilly.

"Get up, Fry!" called Leela.

"You're pathetic!" Sebastian snorted. "You couldn't even beat an egg!"

Fry rose onto his hands and knees, spitting out a dislodged tooth and a quart of blood, this time his own. He gave Sebastian a mean glance and the pirate smiled.

"Still got some fight in you then, boy!" he snickered. "That's what I like to see! I don't want you to be just another useless plaything like your woman was!"

Fry's eyes flared up.

"She was nothing better than a pin-cushion," Sebastian added.

Fry's eyes did more than flare up now... They erupted. Time slowed for him, everything was clear. Fry got to his feet in a flash and faced his adversary, his face suddenly a confident glower of menace towards his enemy.

Elod smiled at the scene. "He's there," he stated quietly, then came a louder call. "FRY!!"

Fry turned his head slowly, his anger still evident as he stared across at Elod. The immortal being flicked his sword into the air, sending it flipping above the cargo hold towards Fry. To everybody else it happened in a flash. To Fry, it was slow and clear, allowing him to grasp the handle effortlessly with one hand and hold into it. The rest of the crew jumped in shock.

"How did a klutz like Fry catch that?!" Bender said, his eyes zoomed out of their metal sockets.

"Fry has gotten to a point few reach," Elod stated. "Mainly because few get insanely angry enough to make it there for the right reasons."

Fry examined the sword. The flawless blade seemed to sing as he moved it around.

"Why?" Leela asked Elod. "What's happened to him?"

"Fry has reached to a mental state where he is so blind with rage, it has pushed him to pure clarity of thought."

Fry glared back at Sebastian with determination, slowly readying his sword.

"Make a person angry, and you'll push them straight into defeat," Elod stated, looking back at Fry. "Push them too far..."

Fry paused as it ready to pounce upon his enemy.

"...And you'll make them undefeatable."

"YAAAAAAA!!!"

Fry charged at Sebastian with fantastic speed, forcing the pirate to jump back in surprise. He still copped a nasty cut across the chest, which caused the pirate to roar.

"You little bastard! I'll SHOW YOU!!!"

He swung at Fry with his right claw, but the delivery boy dismissed it effortlessly with the blade of his sword. While Sebastian was in shock, Fry took this opportunity to attack.

"YAAAAAA!!!"

Sebastian tried to hook the sword like before. Unlike before though, the blade sliced right through the metal claw, sending the sharp point of it tinkling across the wooden deck. This made Sebastian even more shocked, Fry just stared at him and spoke slowly.

"You killed Alesia's mother!" he accused. "You are directly responsible for making her life a living HELL!"

He swung the sword again, lopping off Sebastian's left hook this time, but this time from where flesh and bone were.

"YEEEEAARRGHH!!!" the pirate screamed, stumbling backwards.

Fry's friends couldn't believe what he was doing. Leela turned to Elod as she watched Fry slowly approached the retreating Sebastian.

"Is there a too far for pushing them too far?!"

"Sometimes it's hard for them to stop until they've achieved their goal," Elod stated. "And Fry hasn't achieved it yet."

"Killing Sebastian!" Leela gasped.

Fry spoke to the commander again, "You are the reason the last ten years of her life have been lonely, sad and tragic! You are the one that POISONED HER LIFE!!"

He drew the sword back as far as possible and swing it low, slicing it through both of his legs at about shin level like a razor through melted butter. The damage wasn't even evident until Sebastian went to take a step back and his left foot stayed where it was. He fell ungainly to the ground, blood seeping from the long footless stumps. He stared up at Fry, fear and pain in his eyes. His attacker rose the sword above his head, a precursor for the final kill.

"Now you'll pay for your cruelty!!"

Fry swung his arms down.

"FRY!"

A voice from behind, along with something hampering his movement. Fry turned his head to see Leela's face right over his shoulder. Her arms were wrapped around his in a desperate attempt to stop him dealing the killing blow. His eyes still looked to be burning, but they softened as they gazed at a worried Leela's one

"Don't do it, Fry!" she pleaded. "Think of Alesia! She wouldn't want this..."

"Alesia..."

Fry looked at the cowering Sebastian, whimpering on the ground in a puddle of crimson and missing appendages. His expression relented. His grip on the sword loosened, just a bit.

"Let it go, Fry," Leela said. Fry's mind flashed back. Back to when they stood upon that platform in Consternation having just eluded pirate Angela Zool. And the words Alesia had said to him when he threatened to kick Carver off the edge if it was him instead...

"More violence doesn't solve anything. It just creates more violence, and more. Let it go, Fry... I have."

Fry looked back at Leela and he gave her a small smile.

"You can let go now, Leela... I-I'm fine now."

She loosened her grip at first, then let go completely. Fry lowered the sword and just held it, sighing as he glanced down at what he had done to Sebastian. Then, the sound of clapping. He and Leela turned.

"Well done," said Captain Peck. "Very noble of you, Mister Fry. Something I admire and Sebastian sorely lacks."

She looked down at the once mighty commander.

"Somebody get that... thing down to sickbay and out of my sight!" she uttered. Several pirate minions rushed to him with a stretcher and began to sort it all out. She turned back to Fry and Leela.

"I may be a ruthless pirate, but I always thought the most important thing in battle was honour. That may surprise you, and I admit that dirty tactics are often uses by my crew and myself. But Sebastian's actions went too far I feel. Nonetheless..."

She flicked her sword blade to Fry's throat and held it there.

"I'm afraid I'm going to have to axe you to disarm and become my prisoners. We'll be taking the items, thanks."

Fry dropped his sword reluctantly with a frown.

"You have won your battle against Commander Sebastian... But I'm afraid we are going to win the war."

SHEEEEOOOOOOOO.... CRACK!!!

Heads turned, particularly the pirate captain's, as an explosion tore into the back of the ship, sending splinter shrapnel and the odd pirate flying. Leela quickly grabbed the sword Fry had dropped, the weight making her wonder how Fry held it so effortlessly, and knocked Peck's sword away from Fry's neck. The two clashed swords, while everybody else looked up, Amy smiling the most out of the ones that knew what it was.

"The Nimbus!" she exclaimed. She narrowed her eyes and examined it more closely. "I... I think?"

Just like she said, the Nimbus was descending down upon them from the sky. On the bridge, Captain Ditte and Kif stood issuing orders.

"Avoid hitting the centre of the ship, Fitzgerald," Kif said. "Concentrate on the front and rear."

"Yes, sir," Fitzgerald said, and he fired off another shot. It made contact at the front of the ship, sending more pirates and debris flying. Leela and Captain Peck got their swords in a lock again.

"Surrender... Peck!" Leela said. "It's... over!"

"Not... yet!" Peck replied, pushing Leela back and breaking the locked swords.

"Leela! Let's get off of here!" called Amy from the main deck. She, Bender and Elod were already making a run for the nearest boarding plank. Other pirates were retreating into the ship. Fry was mysteriously gone though.

"Your crew is deserting you, Captain!" Leela sneered as the swords met again. "They're pulling your ship out!"

"Yes," Peck answered. "Out with the gems aboard it!"

"You can't outrun or outgun the Nimbus!" Leela countered. "They'll hunt you down!"

Below deck, a blood-soaked Fry with a rusty sword, eye-patch and a bandana sneaked around the corridors amongst the panicking pirates. He moved swiftly, as if he knew exactly where he was going. Then, he opened a door, and there they were upon a large desk: the staff pieces.

"Gotcha!" he whispered with relief.

He grabbed them and ran as quickly as he could from the room, through the corridors and onto the deck again. There, he saw Leela still fighting with Peck. And now, the ship was starting to rise from the ground.

SHEEEEOOOOOO.... CRACK!!!

Another bolt from the Nimbus slammed into the ship, taking out another chunk from the rear. Fry struggled to stay balanced, and called out.

"Look what I have, Captains!"

She and Leela both turned, one smiling and the other scowling as they saw what he held.

"NO!" yelled Peck.

Leela took this moment to knock Peck's sword from her hand. The again shocked pirate leader was then dealt a blow to the stomach from Leela's boot, and sent into the wall of a cabin.

"Ohhhh..." she groaned, her head down.

"Hey, Peck!" Leela called. "Here's your sword!"

Captain Peck looked up and gasped, as her weapon flew blade first towards her. It hit her left ear, pinning it and her to the wall behind her. Fry dived over the edge of the ship with the items, followed by Leela with Elod's sword. It was about five or six metres to the ground, but the snow made it slightly softer. The others rushed over to them as the pirate ship made a hasty retreat into the skies, smoking and dropping random pieces of wood and other burnt substances.

"All right!" said Bender. "You got the things back!"

"Are you guys okay?!" Amy asked with concern.

"I think so," breathed Leela. But before she could even check, the group was mobbed by the little green natives. They were all cheering and singing praises to the crew

"You saved us from the pirates!" said the elder amongst the chattering of joy. "You may take the item you seek as we agreed, but first... tonight we shall feast in your honour to celebrate!!"

All the Iffles cheered again loudly and danced around, and this made the others happy. Except for Leela, who couldn't help notice the absence of a certain delivery boy.

"Where's Fr--"

She stopped before even finishing, looking sadly in the direction of the Planet Express ship, and the trails of footprints and blood across the snow that lead to it. She remembered at one point Fry said to her that he thought nothing looked cooler than blood on snow; the way it resembled like glowing red dye almost. But today, it was probably instead the most horrific sight for him ever. Leela prayed, mostly for Fry's sake, that Alesia would be okay.




It was dark, and quiet. Just like when Leela had been in here not that long ago herself. The only sound was the beep of the heart monitor, uncomfortably slower than Leela's was. The only light was from the computer displays, a light above Alesia and the light from the open door behind him. Alesia was lying down on the same bench Leela had been on too, with Zoidberg examining her. He looked across at Fry sadly and approached, just as Fry tried to approach her too. The doctor stopped him.

"Out of the way, Zoidberg!" he said desperately. "I need to see her."

Fry..." the doctor said sadly. Fry stopped trying, simply because never in his life had he come across Zoidberg sounding and looking so sad.

"Wh-wh-what is it?" Fry asked him, beginning to fear the worst.

Zoidberg sighed, he actually still had teary eyes.

"Fry... I fear the wounds are... fatal..."

"Y-you mean you can't..."

Zoidberg shook his head.

"What?" Fry barely managed to get out. "No..."

Zoidberg nodded sadly, and help up a clipboard he carried with some notes on it.

"Heavy internal bleeding; punctured aorta and lung; damaged heart, portal vein and liver; several damaged stomach arter--"

"That's enough, Zoidberg!" Fry said with a large sniff. He couldn't bare to hear any more.

"Go to her now, Fry," Zoidberg blubbered.

Fry looked up at him with teary streams running through a blood-coated face.

"She has only a few minutes left... Savour them like I would a sandwich..."

Zoidberg grabbed a rag from his pocket and handed it to Fry. The delivery boy took it and wiped his face as he approached her, then ditched the bloodstained jacket as well. He knelt beside her as she lay there, it almost looked like she was already gone. She was so pale, even more than normal. Her body was mostly covered in a sheet, but it was slightly bloodstained too. Fry whispered in her ear gently.

"Alesia..."

Her eyes opened slowly and weakly, then gazed towards him. She gave him a weak smile. He tried to return one, but just felt tears flow and his face force itself into a sorrowing sag. Leela entered the room and stood near Zoidberg, who motioned for her to go no further, shaking his head. She looked sadly on while Fry spoke to Alesia.

"Don't leave me, Alesia... Please!" he whimpered. "Don't die... I love you!"

"I know," she whispered. "That's why I can't have you..."

"Wha... What?"

"Don't you see... as soon as I gain your love... I lose it."

"I will always love you," Fry sniffled. "Please, don't hurt me like this, Alesia!"

"I'm not trying to hurt you, Fry... But my time has come, and that can't be changed."

"But we're so close now, Alesia," Fry whined desperately. "Don't go... Please!"

"Sorry, but this world has rejected me... like an organ being rejected from the body it wasn't supposed to be put into. You were the exception."

"No, Alesia..." Fry sighed back. Bender, Amy and Elod arrived as well, sadly looking on.

"I see it now," she whispered. "It makes sense. Just when I was becoming happy, when I was making friends and finally got your love... my life is taken from me."

Tears ran down her cheeks and she looked up at the ceiling.

"And I've learnt the lessons of life," her weak whispering continued. "I-I see what life is now. Life is hurt. Life is pain, suffering and cruelty. And death..."

She looked back at Fry.

"Death is its release."

"No, Alesia!" Fry pleaded. "You can't give up! You have to fight it!"

"I can't win," she whispered. "And why should I? I'm going to a better place... free of pain and suffering..."

"Heaven?" Fry asked.

"No," she answered. "Nowhere. Non-existence."

"Alesia..."

"Don't cry for me, Fry," she said, taking his hand gently. "Now your choice has been made."

He looked at her with shock. She gave him an ironic smile.

"See... my passing is a blessing in disguise..."

"No!" he said firmly. "I don't want the choice made for me! I want you around! I want you alive. I want you...

Alesia smiled slightly again.

"Like I said, that is why I can't have you."

Alesia slowly put her hands behind her neck and unclasped the chain around her neck. She pulled it off, then grasped Fry's hands in her own.

"Take this," she said tearfully. "When the time is right, you give it to Leela."

She let go and Fry opened his hands. There under the light, the silver moon pendant glinted at him.

"I... I-I can't take this," he stammered.

"Please, Fry," she breathed in a quiet plea. "Let it be my final gift to you."

Fry nodded sadly, holding the item to his chest. Alesia smiled weakly.

"Some day she'll see, Fry. Some day she'll realise how lucky she is to have your adoration and love... like I did."

Alesia stopped smiling and suddenly winced. The heart monitor began to slow even more. Fry panicked.

"No! Please, for the love of God, NO!!!"

Alesia smiled weakly again, then grasped Fry's right hand and held it to her chest.

"Fry," she said, almost wheezing now, "it's time for me to leave this world... leave the pain and the suffering forever..."

She stared straight into his eyes, pressing his hand into her chest even more.

"I want you to feel my life being taken from me through the final beats in my poisoned heart... because the only reason it didn't stop long ago, was because of you. You are the only good thing not taken from me in this otherwise vile world."

The heart monitor slowed even more, the beats hitting Fry's palm got weaker.

"You were right... what you said... on Verrone Five..."

Slowed again... barely registering. Alesia's words were barely audible now, and Fry's hand could only just make out the pulses.

"This... is... a universe... of malice..."

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...

A high-pitched squeal and a flat line, as Alesia's eyes closed and her head slumped against the pillow. Fry no longer felt anything against his hand. Leela slumped her head in a sigh, as did Zoidberg after turning off the sound of the heart monitor. Even Bender looked sad, while Elod was expressionless.

"Oh no!" Amy uttered, tears in her eyes. "Poor Alesia... Poor Fry."

Fry sighed, fresh tears coursing down his cheeks as he looked at her lifeless face sadly, noticing the sad fact that it didn't look that different that when she was alive.

"No. You can't die, Alesia," he uttered, leaning forward. "Because I love you..."

He softly kissed her lips, gazing towards the heart monitor as he did. Nothing. He broke the kiss and sighed, crushed by his failed attempt to bring her back to him. Then, he finally let it all out, leaning across her and crying his heart out.

"Come on," Leela said sadly to the others. "I think Fry needs a moment alone."

They all left, leaving Fry by himself to exhale his pain. As they left the ship and walked back onto the snow, they heard a familiar voice.

"Why the long faces?"

Turning their heads, they saw Kif walking over with some DOOP officers. They were Captain Ditte, Lieutenants Sheana and Fitzgerald and Ensign McGinley. Amy managed to smile and ran over to them.

"Kiffy!" she said, hugging him tightly. "I've missed you so much!"

"I've missed you too," he said as the hug ended, but his face sank. "What happened?"

"We... lost somebody," said Leela sadly.

"Oh dear," Kif answered, then gasped. "It wasn't your friend Fry was it?!"

"No, but he wishes he was dead at the moment," Bender said.

"Bender!" scolded Leela, though more sadly than angrily.

"You didn't know her, Kif," Amy said as if to put any fears to rest. "She was very close to Fry though. I, for one, would call her a friend as well."

"I'm sorry," Kif said. "I know you all must be feeling bad. I too have lost friends recently."

He gave a glare in the direction of Elod. The Rabbish barely acknowledged it. Captain Ditte stepped forward though.

"I am sorry to hear of your recent loss. Losing lives, especially pointlessly, is never an easy thing."

"Thank you," Leela nodded.

"So, you are the infamous Planet Express crew Kif has told me so much about," he said, shaking Leela's hand. "You must be Captain Turanga Leela?"

"That's right," she nodded.

"Captain Ditte of the Nimbus. Pleased to meet you."

"So, I suppose you guys plan to take our items from us for the DOOP now, huh?" she asked him.

"You don't waste time, do you Captain?" he answered. "But, no... that isn't so."

Leela's eye widened in surprise.

"That may have been Captain Brannigan's method, or, yes, the DOOP's way of doing things in general," he continued. "I choose to do things differently where possible."

"That's good to hear," Leela said with a nod.

"So what are you planning to do then?" Ditte asked with interest. "With these objects I mean."

"We're going to take them to Professor Farnsworth back on Earth," she explained. "He'll hopefully be able to analyse them and put them back together. Then we'll take it to the beast and kick some butt!"

"Not before the feast you don't!" said a recognisable voice.

Everybody turned to see a group of the Iffles, lead by the Elder. The Elder spoke again.

"Sunset will be soon, and we will hold a mighty feast in your honour in a few hours time, to which you are all welcome."

"Thank you," smiled Leela. "We'll all be there for sure."

"In the meantime," Ditte said. "Would you all join me on the Nimbus as our guests. I'd like to discuss all of this and share each others information, if that's okay?"

"Sure," said Leela with a nod. "Lead on."

"Should I go get Fry?" Bender asked.

"Let's leave him here," Leela said after a pause. "Give him some time to get over this. He just needs some space."


THUD!

Baldur was the first to finally stop, slamming into a surface, after being blown for miles upon miles. It was just his luck to be slammed into by Zapp soon afterwards. Then, they both dropped onto another surface, and groaned with pain.

"Get off me!" Baldur yelled, pushing Zapp off of him.

"Where are we?" Zapp said dizzily. "Being blown by that gust of air for so long and so far is really disorientating."

They lay upon another hard metal platform. In one direction it stretched a while and then seemed to drop off, beyond it just darkness. The opposite direction had a tall, curved wall that had stretched up as far as they could see with thick pipe-like objects sticking out of it. It lead endlessly in the remaining two compass directions, curving slightly to suggest the whole thing may have been circular.

"I'm not sure... but let's follow this strange structure around to see if we can find out. Hopefully we've been blown near a way out."

Baldur set off and Zapp got to his feet quickly.

"Great! More endless wandering," he said sarcastically. "How thrilling!"

"Shut up, or I'll thrill you!!"

Zapp just halted stared at him in shock, and Baldur stopped and suddenly slapped his forehead.

"Blast! That came out all wrong! I'm just used to insulting you with what you say, so ignore that!"

"Well..."

"Ignore it or I'll BLAST YOU!!!"

"Alright, alright!"

Baldur snorted and wandered on again, with Zapp following as usual.

"Well, we might as well do something to pass the time while we walk," Zapp suggested. "How about we sing a song?"

"No!" Baldur said. "You've already done that, I don't want to hear your warbling about being a Rocket Man or your screaming about some Mister Tambourine Man!"

"That jingle-jangling bastard scarred me for life!" Zapp sneered, punching his palm with his other hand.

"If you don't shut up, I'll give you a scar myself!"

"Okay, I won't sing those again. But you haven't heard my 'Leela in the Sky with Diamonds' yet."

Zapp sighed, hugging his chest.

"Ahhh... the girl with the kaleidoscope eye," he breathed with satisfaction.

"Shut up, or I'll throw you into the sky with diamonds!"

"Fine... I'll stop being annoying," Zapp groaned.

"You're going to kill yourself?" Baldur queried with a smirk.

Zapp just sighed, and they wandered on some more.


The voices were silenced in the small, but long, hall, as the Iffles' elder tapped his glass at the head of the long table he sat at. To his right, many fellow Iffles were seated, while on his left sat, in order, Captain Ditte, Leela, Elod, Bender, Zoidberg, Fry, Amy, Kif, Sheana, Fitzgerald and McGinley, then five more Iffles. The elder spoke.

"I'd like to propose a toast!" he said loudly. "To these brave strangers to rid us of the pirate menace! You have earned that candleholder my friends. Here here!"

Glasses all raised and the words "Here here!" were repeated by all, and the meal began.

Zoidberg was in heaven, and rushed to slop as much as he could onto his plate, while most of the others were more civilised. Elod seemed to just sit there though.

Amy spoke to Kif, "I've always liked a man in uniform," she said suggestively.

Kif made a strange sound.

"B-B-But I've a-always worn a uniform."

"Yeah, but I like your new uniform... Lieutenant Commander Kroker," she chuckled.

He smiled and made a sound as if he was briefly choking.

"Th-Thanks... But it's essentially the same as the old one."

"This one is much sexier," she said, running a finger across his chest playfully. "Do you like my jacket?"

Kif's noises increased as she leant closer.

"I... uh... um... g'ih... ooh... I... um... ooo..."

"Oh, stop talking so much and kiss me!" she said, wrapping her arms around his neck and her lips around his lipless beak.

Bender, meanwhile, happily passed dishes around... making sure to remove any silver serving utensils along the way.

Leela spoke with Captain Ditte, "Are you sure the DOOP will go along with this? I'm still sceptical about it all."

"Too bad if they don't... I'm doing it anyway."

"Huh?"

"I'm sick of the politics and bureaucracy of the DOOP," Captain Ditte frowned. "I'm doing what I think is right, not what they do."

"But that could cost you your rank as captain," Leela said.

"Then so be it," he said.

Leela nodded simply, then looked further down the table.

"Uh... if you'll excuse me, Captain," she said, then quickly got up and left the table.




Fry walked through the darkness alone, the soft snow crunching underneath his feet. His head was hung low, and he seemed to be ignoring the cold completely, despite not wearing a warm jacket. Small flakes of pearly snow floated gracefully around him, glinting slightly from the pale light from the large moon and surrounding stars above. Fry stopped walking as his feet came to the edge of a large pond, its edges iced over slightly, though a majority of it was still unfrozen. Fry looked into the tranquil water, disturbed only by the snowflakes that touched its surface, focussing on the reflection of the moon. He sighed heavily, closing his eyes and letting out a cloud of white steam from his mouth and nostrils, which soon disappeared into nothingness after but a few seconds. A tear rolled down his cheek, falling into the water below with a lonely dripping sound. He sobbed heavily.

"Why did you have to die?" he whispered in grief.

He continued to stare into the water, the only sounds the gentle whistle of the cold wind and the lonesome tinkle of the wind chimes that sang from the nearby temple. Fry's gentle sobbing joined the ambience, even more woeful because of a cold shiver. His skin felt like ice, but it still as hot as hell compared to his heart, and he didn't care. Lifting up his right hand, he opened it palm up, and looked at the silver crescent moon and chain that lay there.

"Why?" he asked nobody. "Why? She was so young... she was so kind and gentle..."

This sobs started again as he closed his hand, and a new sound was heard from behind. Fry stopped sobbing and just hung his head, as the sound of soft, regular crunching got closer. Finally, a presence beside him, and a weight on his shoulders.

"What are you doing out here without a jacket, Fry?" Leela's voice said with concern. "You'll freeze to death."

Fry lifted his head and looked at his shoulder to see she had put her jacket over him, then looked into Leela's worried eye. A tear ran down his eye and he whispered softly, but coldly.

"So what if I do?"

"Fry... Come inside. Please."

"No," he answered, his gaze looking out to darkness beyond the pond. Dark like the void in his heart. "I want to be alone."

"Please, Fry. Don't do this to yourself."

"I said, leave me alone!" he growled. "Just go away."

"Look, I know you miss Alesia, but you can't do this, Fry."

"What do you care?" he snorted. "You didn't even like her... In fact you hated her!"

He turned away from her, sniffing loudly. "You never even gave her a chance... so why should you care?"

"I care about you, Fry!" she argued. "I don't want to see you like this. You can't let this get to you. Life goes on."

"That's easy for you to say!" Fry accused. "You're not dead!"

"Fry, stop isolating yourself," she said, walking closer to him again. "I'm your friend, all the others in there are your friends. We're here to help you through this."

He felt a hand on his shoulder, and looked across to see Leela with tears in her eye as well.

"We care about you, Fry."

She put her hand on his other shoulder, turning him to face her and looking directly at him.

"We care about you a lot," she said, then, after a pause. "I care about you a lot."

To Fry's surprise, Leela leant forward and gave him a gentle kiss on the lips. It didn't last long, it wasn't that deep, and there was no passion in it at all. But Leela made sure there was some real emotion in it with its delicacy and warmth. When she broke it, she just smiled at him. His face was unchanged.

"Don't forget that, Fry," she added. Then, she slowly walked away, rubbing her bare arms and heading back to the lights in the distance where the others were.

Fry just watched her go, then hung his head again with a sigh.

Buddies