Futurama

Fan Fiction

Futurama: Universe of Malice, Part 3
By Kenneth White

Chapter 3: Suspicious Cargo

Unaware of the destruction happening elsewhere, the planet Earth was tranquil; at least from any external threats. As usual, though, it was ripe with its own problems: crime, famine, corruption and violence. The Earth's problems may seem less destructive than what happened to the planet Cimmerian earlier, but in some ways, they were far more damaging.

This didn't concern Philip J. Fry, who simply sat at a window-side seat in the Planet Express building, staring out at the pelting rain outside. His chin cupped in his left hand and his elbow resting on the window sill, Fry groaned as he stared at the pelting rain that tapped against the glass.

"I'm so bored. We haven't had a delivery for three days!"

Behind him, Bender Bending Rodriguez sat on a tattered couch watching the TV, a beer grasped between his metal fingers and a cigar between his metallic teeth. A rumble sounded outside as he watched the screen, ignoring Fry's comment. It was another episode of the animated comedy The Simpsons, and Homer could be seen talking to Bart.

"Don't worry, boy. We'll catch Sideshow Leprechaun next time, and we'll chop off his wang."

Homer screamed loudly for no reason and Bart replied, "You're right, Dad. Let's go home."

Bart whistled and a rainbow-coloured dragon walked over to them. It spoke: "Hello chaps. Ready to go home, are we?"

The two Simpsons climbed onto his back and the dragon flew into the horizon. A sunflower with a large smiley face flew up to the camera riding a rocket.

"And I thought my trip to the moon was gay!"

The sunflower rode away and the screen turned black, except for writing in large yellow letters that said 'Executive Producer: Mike Scully IX'.

Bender switched off the TV with the remote and sighed. "And I thought Mike Scully VIII was bad!"

He got up from the couch, leaving behind a large Bender-shaped groove in the piece of furniture. Taking another swig of his beer, he walked over to Fry and looked out the window. He removed the cigar from his mouth. "Still rainin', huh?"

As he replaced the cigar between his teeth, the sky outside flashed and Fry turned towards him.

"Yeah," the delivery boy stated simply, his voice awash with boredom. "It's been like that for hours."

And it showed. The rain wasn't overly heavy, but the street was completely wet. There was a large puddle just across the road where one of the drains was blocked, and downspouts spewed water onto the pavement. There was nobody walking down the street, and the traffic was sparse.

Bender and Fry turned to the sound of a sliding door. Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth walked through, with bureaucrat Hermes Conrad following behind him.

"Good news everyone! We ha--"

He cut himself around and looked around the room.

"Where are Leela and Zoidberg?!"

"Leela's training in the gym, and I think Zoidberg's outside in the rain," Fry replied.

The Professor frowned. "Then hurry up and get them! I have an important announcement to make."

Amy Wong walked into the room wearing her standard pink tracksuit and rubbing her hair with a towel.

"What is it, Professor?"

"Who the hell are you?!"

"It's me, Amy."

The Professor stared at her blankly. "....A-whuh?"

"The rich girl with the same blood as you, mon," answered Hermes.

Farnsworth's face brightened with realisation. "Oh... Oh, yes of course!"

 

Meanwhile, in the gym, Turanga Leela slammed her foot into the side of a large sack that hung from the ceiling by a rope. She then stepped back, a look of determination on her face as she stared at the target, moving on the spot like a boxer. With a yell, she delivered two more kicks to the side, followed by a large roundhouse kick that sent the heavy sack spinning around to her right. As it swing back, she launched into it with her fists, pounding it a dozen times in the middle, then giving another large kick with her left leg.

She stopped, leaving the sack swaying slowly in the middle of the room. She panted heavily, bent over slightly and supporting herself with her hands on her bent knees and droplets of sweat glistened from her skin. Her gaze left the floor as she heard a knock at the door. The knock echoed around the otherwise quiet room, being as the door was metal. The only other sound was the patter of rain of the roof outside.

"Come in."

The door opened and Fry walked in.

"Hey there, Leela. The Professor has an announcement to make and he wants you there for it."

Leela smiled and stood up straight, making her way over to a small wooden bench attached to the wall that was behind her.

"Thanks, Fry. Tell the Professor I'll be there in a minute."

Fry nodded and left the room, closing the door behind him. The metallic clang echoed around the room as Leela picked up a towel from the bench and wiped her brow with it.

"I hope it's something good," she said to herself. "I hate bad surprises."

 

In the meantime, Bender was outside the Planet Express building searching around. The rain tinkled off his metal body with a crisp tone and his feet sloshed through the water that had built up in different sizes puddles around the building. His eyes scanned the area as he turned his head and mumbled to himself, "Where is that stupid lobster?!"

Suddenly, his audio receptors picked up the sound of crashing metal. It was a familiar sound, the sound of a garbage can being overturned. Bender ambled around the corner to the front of the building where the trashcans were located, and as he suspected, there was Doctor Zoidberg beside them. The crustacean doctor was wearing his striped bathing suit, lounging in a deck chair with one of the garbage can's lids on his stomach. On the lid were various pieces of food waste. Zoidberg clutched a fungus encrusted sandwich between his pincers and with a look of joy on his face, announced to anybody that was in ear shot, "Aaaaaaah, there's nothing like a mouldy sandwich on a rainy day."

Opening his mouth and closing his eyes, the Decapodian prepared to devour his find, only to have it swatted away by a robotic hand. As the sandwich sloshed into a puddle, Zoidberg looked up at the source of the interruption, a look of hurt sadness evident in his eyes. Bender glared down at him.

"Hey crab-freak! The Professor wants you inside right away!"

Before waiting for a response, Bender simply turned around and walked back around the corner. Zoidberg's head dropped as if all the muscles in his neck suddenly ceased to work and he let out a sad moan. Then throwing the lid back into the can and getting up from his chair, he slumped his shoulders and trudged into the building.

 

Inside, everybody sat around the large table they frequently used for such occasions. The Professor stood up and addressed them all: "Alright, now that you're all here, I have a special announcement to make. We have a package to deliver!"

The others all spoke in agreement. It was about time they got another delivery, in their minds.

"It's a special delivery to Wellington in New Zealand. To a place called the Beehive, where you'll deliver the package to a group of disgusting, manipulative creatures!"

"What are they?" Fry interjected. "Lawyers?"

"Worse!" Farnsworth replied. "Politicians! You'll be delivering it to Prime Minister Lomu in person upon arrival."

He turned to Hermes.

"Load the crate please, Hermes."

Hermes nodded, rose from the table and disappeared through a door that leads to behind the building. In a few seconds, he appeared again with a large wooden crate upon the hover dolly, which he pushed towards the ship. As he began to load it into the ship, the Professor turned back towards the others.

"There's also a package there that we have to bring back."

Leela asked the inevitable question: "Where's that one getting delivered to?"

"We don't know yet. We've been given instructions to bring it here and wait for further instructions."

The group looked at each other in question. None of them could understand why a package would not have a destination until further notice.

Leela didn't like the sound of it at all. "Who organised this delivery, Professor?"

"I don't know who they were. They made the order by phone."

Leela made a noise of scepticism and stood up. Hermes had finished the loading now.

"Well, we may as well get going. Bender, Fry, Zoidberg. Let's go."

The other three got up and followed Leela into the ship. Leela took her place in the captain's seat and Bender and Fry sat down at their usual seats. Zoidberg took a seat at the back of the cockpit.

Fry turned to Leela. "You've got a bad feeling about this, don't you, Leela?"

She simply nodded, not even looking at Fry and she pressed and pulled the right series of buttons and levers in order to get the ship into the air. As the roof above them slid open, the rain pelted down on the ship. Leela turned the window wipers on as the water began to fall onto the windscreen of the ship. Another series of button pushes turned on the dark-matter engines at the rear of the ship. They burnt with a bright blue glow, hissing with power as the ship began to rise from the ground. With a creak, the weight was released from the landing gear, and in one smooth movement, the Planet Express ship sailed vertically out of the building. There it sat stationary, just a few metres above the building. As the doors below closed again, stopping the pelting rain from entering the building, the sky around the city of New New York flashed with electricity, and the landing gear disappeared into the large green delivery ship. Then, turning towards where the main part of the city was, the star ship shot off away from its home.

Bender leant back on his chair and lit up another cigar. Zoidberg looked out of a nearby window as the sky around them rumbled. The water ran across the outside layer of glass as the Decapodian stared at the buildings below and the vehicles that flitted to and fro. Leela weaved the ship around some of the taller buildings before pulling the ship up into the clouds. There, all was grey. It wasn't long though, and it all cleared as the ship pulled above the clouds and made its way to the planet's upper atmosphere before levelling out and heading to the southern regions of Earth.

After a little while, it dived down so that the blue ocean of the Pacific was seen. The sapphire liquid below glistened from the clear sky above as the delivery ship levelled again and sped above the watery surface. Within moments, the land appeared, and Leela slowed the ship. Ahead the bottom of the country's northern island appeared, with a small city visible at the western edge. Leela brought the ship to a halt, leaving it flying stationary above the centre of the city below. Flying vehicles and other ships could be seen amongst other activity in the area. It was a busy place, but nowhere near as busy as New New York was.

Leela turned to Fry and Bender. "Okay, we're here. Now we have to look for a place called 'The Beehive' like the Professor said. So lets all look."

Bender and Fry nodded before both heading out of the cockpit and into the cargo bay of the ship. When there, Bender lowered the cargo platform, which Fry stood on. A good distance above the city, Fry peered over the edge. As he surveyed the buildings below him, the strong wind ruffled his orange hair and whistled around him. His red jacket whipped against him in the strong gusts. Fry's eyes caught a glance of a building that just had to be it.

He yelled up into the ship above, "Found it, Bender! Haul me back up!"

Bender saluted and turned the crank that brought the platform back into the ship, and Fry with it. After giving Leela the position of the building, the Planet Express ship descended down towards its destination and landed comfortably in a large parking lot beside it, the landing gear creaking as it dropped down and took the weight of the ship. The building was shaped like a natural beehive and was several storeys high. People in suits walked around the area, some entering the building, some leaving. Leela, Fry and Bender departed their ship and entered the building. After finding their destination, the crew entered the large office where the Prime Minister was supposed to be located. Leela approached the being that sat at the large wooden desk at the end of the room, while Fry and Bender pushed in the crate on the hover dolly.

She spoke: "Greetings, Mister Prime Minister, I'm Captain Leela of Planet Express. We're here to deliver this crate." She indicated the mentioned item on the dolly behind her.

"Baaaaaaaaaa!"

Leela blinked at the response.

Fry whispered aside to Bender, "I knew there were a lot of sheep here, but isn't having one for a Prime Minister going a little too far?"

Bender shrugged.

"I dunno. I hear the Australians have a weasel for theirs."

Fry shook his head. "Naw. That's just how people describe him."

The sheep sitting at the desk bleated again. Then, the door through which the crew had entered opened behind them. A finely dressed man entered the room, with a large jar in his hands. Inside the jar was the head of a dark-skinned man. The writing at the base of the jar said 'Jonah Lomu' in bold letters.

Jonah smiled in the direction of the desk. "Thanks for covering for me, Flossy!"

The sheep bleated and hopped off the chair at Lomu's response, then sat beside the desk. The man holding the jar walked over and placed it on the desktop.

Jonah smiled towards the three Planet Express crew members.

"So, what are you people here for?"

"Uh.... we're here to deliver this crate, sir," Leela stated.

"Excellent!" the Prime Minister beamed. "It is finally here! Just place it over there in the corner."

Bender and Fry moved the crate to where Jonah indicated, while he got his assistant to sign the paper. Just then, the doors burst open and another well-dressed man, also holding a head in a jar, walked in. The look on the head's face wasn't a happy one, and bold letters on the base of the jar read 'Sam Neill'

"Lomu! What the hell are you doing?! You can't change Saint Patrick's Day to Saint FITZpatrick's Day! The public won't stand for it!"

When Sam had finished talking Fry approached him. "Sam Neill! Wow! I remember you from Jurassic Park. What are you doing here?"

Sam sighed. "I'm the leader of the Horizon Party. That means I'm against Lomu's party."

"Whatchoo doing here, Neill?!" Lomu retorted. "You tryin' to stop me changin' this country for the better again?!"

"You can't change a national holiday like that just to accommodate the rugby nuts that follow you!"

"Why not? There's a reason that the Rugby Party is in power, and that I'm the PM. The people of this country love rugby so much, they don't care about changes like that! In fact, they embrace them!"

Lomu's assistant puts down a phone he is holding and talks to his leader, "Sir, the All Blacks just lost to Australia again."

"Damn it!" the Prime Minister yelled. "Declare war on Australia again, then! Ready the sheep catapults!!"

Flossy jumped in shock, then ran out a door at the back of the room.

"We'll just be going now," said Leela with a forced smile.

The three crewmembers backed out of the office, sighing with relief as they made it outside.

Fry was the first to speak: "Man, what a weird country!"

A man came screaming down the hall, a look of panic on his face.

"The All Blacks lost!!! Yaaaaaah!!!"

He ran past the three observers and dove through a window at the end of the corridor.

"I dunno. Reminds me of home," replied Bender.

As the crew walked down the steps from the entrance heading back to their ship, a man wearing a dark grey suit ran up to them. He had a simple haircut and wore round, dark rimmed glasses.

"Hey! Wait!"

The robot, cyclops and delivery boy all stopped and turned. The man stopped and caught his breath.

Leela questioned him: "Can we help you?"

"I think so. Are you Planet Express?"

"Who wants to know?!" answered Bender, before taking a puff from his cigar.

"I'm Dave, an assistant to the Prime Minister. There's a package that he forgot to give you that he needs delivered tomorrow. If you'll just come this way?"

Leela, Fry and Bender followed Dave around the side of the building to find a large wooden crate standing about two metres tall and about one and a half metres in width.

Leela examined the large white sticker on the side of the side of the box, reading it aloud, "To Mister Mark Patsy , 235 Underdunk Drive, Seattle. Hmmm..... Why does this have to be delivered tomorrow? Why not now?"

"Because it is very valuable and Mister Patsy won't be there today. He will be expecting the package tomorrow, and will pay you on delivery."

Fry and Bender loaded the crate onto the dolly while Leela nodded and pulled out a clipboard. She handed it to Dave, along with a pen. "Sign here, please."

"I'll use my own pen if you don't mind? It's kind of a personal thing."

Leela shrugged and withdrew the pen as Dave signed and the crate was taken towards the ship. When the signature was done, Leela saluted and headed back towards the ship. Dave clicked the pen and replaced it into his shirt pocket with a smile. He watched as Leela and the crate disappeared into the ship before chuckling to himself and walking back into the building behind him.

Inside the ship, Leela, Fry and Bender headed for their seats. Leela tossed the clipboard onto a desk before taking her seat, unaware that the signature that was once there had now disappeared.

As Bender and Fry also took their seats, Zoidberg spoke: "Did you get to meet the Prime Minister?"

"Yeah," Bender answered. "And he runs a country of sports nuts! Honestly, I can't believe a country is so obsessed with a single sport!"

"Quiet!" snapped Fry. "The Blernsball is on!"

Bender gasped, then quickly opened the door on his chest, fishing out a giant foam hand, some pennants with 'NNYC' on them, a bag of popcorn, a giant foam cowboy hat and an air horn. He has a blast on the horn.

"Yes! Go New New York!"

The ship began to take off, and as the ship's altitude grew, a large oval shaped ball could be seen being freshly mounted on the Beehive's roof. Once at a decent height, the ship blasted off at full speed into the sky, en route back home.


Back at the Planet Express building, Hermes manned the entrance controls as the PE Ship hovered above. The rain was still pouring outside the ship. He called into the microphone on his headset, "Planet Express Ship, you are clear to land."

"Roger," called Leela's voice through the headphones, as the skylight doors opened and the ship descended into its home once again. As the engine's lazuline flames of energy withered to nothingness and the ship fell silent, Leela and Zoidberg walked down the stairs of the forward landing gear, while Fry, Bender and the dolly with crate were lowered down on the cargo bay lift to the ground. The Professor and Amy walked over to meet the crew.

"How did it go?" Amy chirped.

"Fine," Leela replied. "Plus, we've got the package you said we would. It's to be delivered tomorrow. Payment on arrival."

"That's good news," smiled the Professor.

Bender and Fry pushed the dolly and crate over to the group.

"I wonder what's inside?" Fry queried. "It sounds like from what that Dave guy said that it's valuable."

"Let's shake it and hear what it sounds like," suggested Bender.

"No!" yelled Leela. "It's probably valuable. We might break it."

Bender slumped his shoulders. "Awwww...."

"Well, whatever it is, put it over in the corner there. We can worry about that when it comes to delivering it tomorrow."

"And make sure you put it upright," added Leela, indicating the arrow on the container.

"Pfft! I think I KNOW how to put a crate somewhere!" said Fry.

He and Bender took the crate away. A bolt of lighting flashed nearby, making the others jump.

"Oh my!" said the Professor, clutching his chest. "The weather sounds really rough out there. I hope you people all have umbrellas or cars to get home with? There's no taxis or busses running today, you know?"

Leela, Hermes and Zoidberg shook their heads.

"I think I might stay here tonight," said Leela with a shrug. "If that's okay with you, Professor?"

"Me too," said Amy. "The rain'll ruin my hair!"

"I thought you had a car?" questioned Leela.

"Guh! I mean it'll ruin my hair walking from here to the car!"

Leela shook her head as Fry and Bender returned.

"Why don't we all stay here tonight?" Fry suggested.

Bender nodded.

"Yeah! Could be fun!"

Everybody nodded in agreement.

Bender spoke: "Great. But we'll need some food supplies, so everybody hand over five bucks and I'll grab us some food from across the street."

Everybody reluctantly handed over some cash to Bender, except for Amy who couldn't find any in her purse.

She groaned, "I don't have any change on me. How about I give you my credit card and PIN number?"

Bender's eyes widened. "Okay!"

Amy pulled out a small plastic card and held it out to Bender, but Leela slapped it out of her hand. Amy yelped and Leela mumbled under her breath, "Moron!"

She tossed Bender another five bucks.

"I'll pay for Amy."

Bender took the money and laughed, then flipped through the notes. Suddenly, his attitude turned sour.

"Hey! Who's trying to hawk off Monopoly money as real dosh?!"

Doctor Zoidberg groaned, "Its the closest thing I get to income. And I found it at a bus station!" He starts crying.

This didn't effect Bender's stance, though: "Then lobster boy gets nothing!"

The doctor bawled even louder, burying his face in his claws.

Leela sighed, rolling her eye and handing Bender another five dollars. "I'll pay for him too. Now get going!"

Bender saluted and walked away. Professor Farnsworth turned and walked off also.

"Where are you going, Professor?" asked Fry.

"Oh, just off to finish working on Quetzalcoatl. Once he's finished, I'll show that Academy of Science what a giant, robotic flying serpent can do!! Ehh... with titanium plated scales as sharp as razors! Ooh... uh... and venom as potent as strychnine!" He disappeared into his office, the door sliding behind him.

Fry sat down on the couch and flicked on the TV. "Gather around everybody! All My Circuits is on!"

"All right!"

Bender launched himself over the back of the couch and landed beside Fry. He pulled two beers out of his chest, ripped off the lids with his mouth and handed one to Fry.

Leela walked up with her arms crossed and an angry look on her face. "Weren't you supposed to be off getting food?!"

"Oh, yeah. Here you go."

He tossed her a small plastic packet. She caught it in one hand and examined it.

"Roasted Peanuts?! Bender! This isn't enough for a meal!"

"What's the problem, there's one for each of you?!" he argued. "Oh, except for Zoidberg. I ate his one."

Zoidberg slumped his shoulders and groaned.

"Just get the stuff!" ordered Leela, with the hint of a moan in her voice.

Bender threw his arms up in defeat. "Okay, Okay! Jeez!"

He got up from the couch and headed back outside. Leela sat down in the robot's former spot.

Calculon appeared on the TV set with Monique. He had his arms on her shoulders as he spoke to her: "My dearest Monique. I'm afraid I've got some bad news to tell you."

The fembot actress gasped, "What is it, Calculon?"

"I have been called away on a most urgent mission. I'll be gone for at least six months, and I'm not sure if I'll make it back alive."

"Oh no! Calculon!!"

She hugged the golden robot, and he held her closely.

"Don't worry, Monique. Everything will be just fine."

As he spoke, the camera panned over to the left to reveal Calcuclon's half-brother hiding amongst some bushes. A sign near the bushes says 'Do not hide conspicuously in the bushes' in large letters. The hiding robot's eyes flash red in unison with the sound of a backing truck. Dramatic music plays for a few seconds as this happens. Then, from behind Calculon's half-brother, the back of a truck appears and runs the robot over. It stops and the rear panel of the truck falls down, crushing the sign and forming a ramp. Calculon and Monique whirl around with shocked expressions to find five black ninja holding various weapons. The ninja's all pose threateningly and wait as a sixth robot walks out the back of the truck. As it steps into the light, the figure is revealed to be almost identical in appearance to Calculon; the only difference is a black metal goatee and moustache. It also wears a black cape and its eyes glow reddish.

Calculon gasps and then looks angrily at him. "Calcultron!! I thought I destroyed you long ago?!"

Calcultron cackled evilly.

"Yes, you WOULD think that, wouldn't you?!"

Monique questioned with concern, "Calculon, who is this?"

"He is my evil clone!" Calculon answered bitterly.

Calcultron cackled again, "That's right! And now to destroy you!!!"

Calcultron laughed as evilly as he could as the ninjas lunged at Calculon.

Outside, Bender had just stepped out of the 7นน store. As the door slid behind him with a chime, Bender's eyes widened as he saw a bolt of lightning flash across the sky, sparking and crackling as it touched the Planet Express building's television antennae. Gasping at the sight, Bender dropped the two plastic bags of food he was carrying and sank to his knees in the middle of the street. He cried up into the dark sky as the rain poured down, the deep water running across the road streaming across his metallic legs and taking one of the dropped bags with it, while the other bag's handles got caught on Bender's right leg. As three more flashes of lightning surrounded the area, Bender continued to call into the clouds in pain. "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

Inside, the others just stared at the television set, which now had a gaping hole in the middle of it. Bits of glass and melted plastic were scattered across the floor before the device, and small puffs of black smoke trailed from the large hole.

"Aw jeez! Now what are we going to do to pass the time?!" groaned Fry.

Leela stood up. "I don't know. Do we have any board games or something around here?"

She started looking through some nearby cupboards.

Doctor Zoidberg pointed at a closet behind them before making his way over there. "I think there are some in here?" He opened the door and shuffled around inside, then turned around with four game boxes in his claws. He smiled as he waddled back over to the couch. "Here we are. We can play Trivial Pursuit, 3000 Edition. Or how about Pluto, or Backgamma? Or finally, my personal favourite, Snakes and Lobsters. Hmmm?"

Fry grabbed the top box and chuckled confidently. "Lets play Trivial Pursuit. I was an ace at this game back in the 20th Century. It's the one where you collect the cheese and make the cool contraption with all the ramps, right?"

Leela made an unsure sound. "Not exactly. We'll show you how its played as soon as Bender arrives."

Just then, the entrance door opened and in ran a very wet Bender holding some very wet bags of food.

"Sorry I'm late, but I had to chase the food down the street. Hope you like soggy potato chips." He held up a bag of chips.

Fry snorted, "That's not how you spell potato! It's supposed to have an 'E' on the end! P-O-T-A-T-O-E. Potato!"

The door on Bender's front opened. Inside was the head of a man in a jar. In bold letters at the base of the jar the name 'Dan Quayle' was written. It spoke: "That's what I said!"

Bender glared angrily at Dan Quayle's head. "Hey! I thought I told you to shut up!!"

Bender slammed the door shut and then gasped as he noticed the TV. "Oh my God! Its even WORSE than I thought it would be!!"

Leela sighed, "I know, but life goes on. Come help us teach Fry to play Trivial Pursuit."

Bender's attitude suddenly changed as he perked up, dropping the bags yet again before he trotted over to the others. "Oooh! My favourite!"

"Okay," Leela stated simply. "First, we have to choose teams. I propose humans verses non-humans."

Everybody nodded in agreement. Leela opened the box and took out the board, unfolding it. On the board was a pentagon shape made up of moving spaces, including a centre spot. Leela placed two playing pieces on this area. She sat back and continued, "Okay, Fry, roll the dice."

Fry did as he was told, getting a six. He moved his team's playing piece onto a yellow wedge.

Leela picked a card from a box and read it out, "Okay. What year did scientists change space so that it was possible to hear you scream?"

Leela then pressed a button on the board and a hologram shot out of the centre, glowing blue against the skin, or metal, of those sitting around it. In the hologram appeared five vehicles. Four of them were in a line, each with a year on them. The fifth was sitting behind the others in the centre. Three beeps sounded and the four lined up vehicles took off, disappearing.

"Quick Fry!" snapped Amy. "Use the joystick!"

Startled, Fry jumped, then noticed the joystick in front of him that was plugged into the board. He picked it up and pressed the stick forward. This caused the final holographic vehicle's speed to grow, and as Fry kept control of it, the other four could soon be seen in the distance.

Hermes spoke: "Okay! Keep dat car steady until we can work out de answer. Any ideas, Amy?"

Amy shrugged.

Fry continued to dodge holographic obstacles as he kept chase.

Hermes thought aloud, "Lets see.... Well, it wasn't as early as 2120, so that scratches that one. And 2932 is far too late...... Hmmmm..... Just choose 2251, mon."

Fry nodded and sped up. He passed 2120, and then passed 2615. As he began to chase 2251, a pleasant female voice sounded from the board, "You are in pursuit of twenty two fifty one."

Fry steadied the car and pressed the large red fire button on the top of the joystick's handle. As the hologram bullets slammed into the vehicle, it exploded. The female voice sounded again, "Congratulations. You have destroyed vehicle twenty two fifty one. Your choice was........ Correct!"

Fry and his team cheered loudly. Hermes stood up and headed towards the ship.

"Where are you going, Hermes?" asked Amy.

"I'm gonna get me precious beef jerky supply. I keep it in a special, secret place."

His cheerful tone changed as he snapped the last four words: "So nobody follow me!"

The others all shrugged and turned back to the board as Hermes whistled "Jammin'" and headed around the back of the ship. After quickly looking back to see if anybody had followed him, he knelt down in front of a large blue toolbox that sat on the ground. Flipping open the lid, Hermes carefully lifted out the shelf of tools within and placed them down quietly. There, underneath where the tool shelf had been, were several packets of dark brown beef jerky. Hermes smacked his lips as he reached for the salty snacks. Taking them firmly in his grasp, he threw them aside in preparedness for replacing the tools.

Crack!

Hermes looked back at where the jerky had landed. Jerky didn't usually sound like that when you dropped it. He shrugged and turned, putting the tools back where they were. He closed the lid.

Crack!

The same sound again. Hermes looked behind him and noticed some pieces of broken wood on the floor near the jerky. With the sound of splintering wood, more chunks of wood landed. Hermes jumped back and stood up with a gasp, staring at where the pieces had come from. In the front of the crate were three small holes. The wood had also been forced outwards slightly. Hermes watched and waited.

CRACK!!

Hermes' heart skipped a beat as he saw a large three-pronged fork burst through the crate, changing the three smaller holes into one large one. The three points looked sharp and golden, and Hermes wasn't going near them. They withdrew, then quickly smashed through another area of the crate.

CRACK!!

After the prong disappeared again, a large hand reached around the side of the crate, grasping the edge of it. With all its might, the hand pulled the right side of the crate's lid off with a single swift movement. Hermes could just stand and watch as three men stepped out of the now opened crate. One was a large, heavy built guy, he still had the broken container lid around his arm. The second was holding the golden trident, and was thinner and shorter, he wore thick glasses and a white lab coat. The third man was tall and slim, and from what Hermes could gather must be in charge, he had a large nose, clean haircut and a small brown beard that circles around his lips. He carried a laser gun in his hand and looked directly at Hermes. He spoke: "Don't move!"

His voice sounded educated and was foreign. Hermes couldn't tell what the accent of his was, but he knew it wasn't English, despite the fact he sounded somewhat similar to somebody from that region. The voice was harsh, and gravelly, while also being commanding. Hermes didn't listen to the command though. He turned and ran.

As he ran around the other side of the ship screaming, the others all turned to look at him. He got about half way to them before the man with the gun stepped around the side of the ship, took aim and fired. Hermes fell as the blue laser smacked him in the back. The others gasped, many of them calling their fallen comrade's name.

As they began to rush over, the shooter raised his weapon again. "Stay where you are!"

The crew all stopped in their tracks. The other two men now came into their sight as they stepped from behind the ship. They were also holding guns now. The guy on the left still held the golden trident, too.

Zoidberg inched forward slowly and non-threateningly, with his claws in the air. "Let me help him! I'm a Doctor!"

Hermes lifted his head up from the ground with a shudder and a groan. A small trail of black smoke rose from his back as he looked at Zoidberg in the same way he usually does. "I've got better chance of surviving if you leave me alone, you shrimp eating quack!"

Zoidberg gasped and looked back at the men. "We have to help him quickly! He thinks I'm a duck now!"

The man in charge thought for a few seconds. He nodded. "Okay. You may take him to your sick bay. Move!"

Zoidberg nodded and ran up to Hermes. He carefully lifted him onto one shoulder and made his way to the sick bay. He consoled his workmate, "Don't worry, my good friend. Zoidberg'll fix you up."

The others watched as Zoidberg closed the door behind him, the look of fear still and confusion still apparent on their faces. The man in authority casually walked over and took a seat, sitting in it with legs crossed. The other two stood behind him, their guns still drawn. Fry glanced at the trident, obviously curious about it.

The leader spoke: "Now that you know that I'm not going to take any crap from you, we may as well proceed."

The crew looked puzzled.

The man continued, "Well, I suppose we should introduce ourselves. This is Andrew and Marc, and I am Baron Steinmann. You are, I am guessing, the Planet Express crew?"

They all nodded.

Leela was the first to speak, "What do you want?"

The Baron chortled, "Ah, the inevitable question has arose. What I want, my dear, is the services of your ship and your help."

"Then why didn't you just ask instead of shooting Hermes?!" Leela's voice shook with anger.

Steinmann simply laughed, "Because this is no mere mission. I'd seriously doubt whether you'd help a person try to gain complete universal domination."

The others stared at each other questioningly.

This time Leela laughed, "What are you, a comic book villain?"

Steinmann sneered. He spoke in a bitter tone, "Far from it!"

There was an awkward silence.

The Baron resumed, "Anyway, I want you all in the ship. Except for the old man, you're a waste of space. You can stay behind."

He looked around the group then directed his voice at Bender, "You! Is the ship fuelled?!"

"Uhh... yes. But it's not full."

"Then fill it up!"

Bender hesitated. Steinmann aimed his weapon.

"Now!!"

Bender scampered over to the dark matter, while Steinmann directed his attention back to the others. "The rest of you, get aboard. Who's the capta... no, let me guess...... the cyclops."

"Yes. I'm captain," Leela replied simply.

"Good. You're flying. The rest of you just find a seat and shut up. I'll call on you when you're needed."

He turned to his two helpers. "Keep an eye on them."

They nodded in response.

As the crew made their way to the ship, the door to the sick bay opened. Doctor Zoidberg stepped out. "Hermes'll be fine. He just needs to rest for a week or so."

Steinmann glared at Zoidberg. "You! You're coming too!"

"But, who'll look after Hermes?"

"The old man can take care of that!" snapped the Baron, indicating Farnsworth. "We may need a doctor with us. Move!"

Zoidberg quickly scuttled on with the others. Looking behind him, Baron walked on to the ship also. Then, within a few seconds, the ship lifted from the ground and disappeared into the storm clouds above. Hobbling over to where the ship once stood, Farnsworth looked up into the sky. Raindrops dropped into his face and ran down the wrinkles in his skin as he stared into the dark abyss above. He wasn't sure what exactly just happened, but he knew it wasn't good. Sighing, he dropped his head down and closed the roof doors.


Meanwhile, light years away, the planet Xeron lay. On one side of the planet, the evening was near. The sky was a dark blue, and faded into yellow at the west horizon. The leafless trees were but a black silhouette against the navy sky. In that area, a small alien child played in the grassy field outside her home. She threw a small pink ball across the yard, and a small furry creature, not unlike a dog, chased after it with a high-pitched call. As the cute little animal picked up the ball in its mouth and returned it, the little girl giggled. A door opened in the nearby house and a tall figure stood in the doorway with a friendly grin. A female adult of the same species, it was the girl's mother.

The little girl waved at her. "Hi mommy!" she called in her home planet's language.

As her mother walked over, the small animal made it back with the ball and sat there, wagging its tail. The child laughed and patted it.

Her mother spoke: "It's time to come inside. Bring in Loppy and come and have some food."

She reached down and took her daughter's hand and they made their way in.

The girl turned. "Come on, Loppy!"

The little creature trotted over with a happy squeak with its tiny little legs. As the mother smiled at the sight, her eyes caught something in the sky. She bent down and put an arm around her little girl, just as Loppy made it back. She pointed at the sky. "Look, honey. It's the first star of the evening. On some planets, you make a wish on the first star out, and it comes true. Are you going to make a wish?"

The little girl thought about it. "Okay," she nodded. "I wish that we'll always be happy."

The mother smiled and hugged her daughter again. "Awwww, that's a nice wish. Now we'd better get inside, or the food'll get cold. Come on."

The two entered the building, with their pet close behind. They both knew that life was good to them. What they didn't know was what they had pointed at and wished on was no star. And there was no way that it was going to make them happy.

 

To be continued

Buddies