Fan Fiction

Futurama: Universe of Malice, Part 6
By Kenneth White

Chapter 6 - Mysterious Cosmos

Yes, the Rabbish race had every reason to be sceptical regarding their suspiciously unencountered enemies.

While the Rabbish had been researching the counter for the Merak, they were unaware of what was happening. The powerful Merak became too advanced, too quick. Over the years, artificial intelligence changed from a means of making life easier to an outright threat. The Merakian leader was on his deathbed only two years after the victory against the Rabbish, dying from old age. In a last futile attempt to cheat death, he had his mind implanted into a specially designed computer. Things looked fine, until the computer's programming began to corrupt his mind. Soon it was no longer him in control, and the machine completely took reign of his body and psyche. It became known as The Machine. Utilising this perfect merge of artificial intelligence combined with the mental attributes of an intelligent living being, this computer began to slowly create more like it: an army of robotic slaves with genuine intelligence. The Merakians were unaware that they were slowly being phased out until it was too late. Robots that were previously just machines, made to make life simple for the Merak people, became machines of death. It wasn't long until the Merakians were extinct.

The clueless Rabbish also didn't discover what was going on until there was nothing they could do. One otherwise normal day, not many months after all research on the crystals had been completed, a horde of merciless robots invaded the Rabbish lands. Completely helpless and taken off guard by the attack, the Rabbish inhabits were getting wiped out in no time at all. Giant machines of destruction almost a kilometre high stomped through the land, while swarms of smaller battle droids streamed around them. The robots now had a simple plan: take over the entire planet.

At the centre of the Rabbish community, the race's chief stood ground with the fully charged sceptre. They had managed to harness the energy during a lightning storm just a few months beforehand. When the largest machine came into view, the Chief pressed the button and released the power within the staff.

A bright bolt of energy tore through the air. Unfortunately, the Rabbish elder couldn't control the beam. The sceptre flew out of his grasp, exploding right underneath them and causing the devastating effect known as The Big Bang. The enormous explosion rippled throughout the universe, taking out all but a few of the more durable planets and their inhabitants. The Rabbish had destroyed themselves, yet the robots lived on.

While all the robots on the surface were decimated, a large colony of them were deep under the ground on the other side of the planet, unharmed, when the chunk of the planet was simply shot into deep space, pushed away by the giant shock wave. When the chunk finally stopped moving and found a resting spot, they abandoned it and found a fresh, uninhabited and fully healthy world. They continued their intentions of making this planet theirs; technically it already was, they were all that lived on it. But The Machine wasn't satisfied, he wanted to destroy all organic substances on the planet, leaving only metal, only them.

Over the following millions of years, they slowly covered the planet in metal, completely. Once that was done, millions more years were spent filling the planet with metal also and pumping all of the organic material out of it. Only the planet's molten core remained untouched, to be used as a power source for the robots. Robots were sent to other planets to mine ore when theirs ran out. More and more robots were built.

The Machine now was the planet, and it was he. A monster of metal, larger than Neptune. However, this monster planet was low on energy, and he knew it. All those millions of years of development had taken a toll, and the planet's core was going to run low. In a last ditch effort, using all its remaining energy, the monster planet created energy-gathering panels to collect solar rays. Then, for billions of years, it would lay dormant, slowly gathering energy. Once fully powered, The Machine would roam the universe devouring all the planets it could, using them for energy.

Then it came, The Machine's power was at 100%. The sleeper has awoken. The year was 3005.

6:00am, GMT

Kif slammed his hand down upon the buzzing alarm clock to silence it as it hit 6am. He would be leaving in two hours, on his way back to the Earth orbital base. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, Kif sat on the edge of the bed with a groan, then downed the last of the water in his bedside glass. Placing the glass back on the table, he turned to look out of the window behind him. There, the planet of Ghak could be seen, slowly rotating through space like a small leaf on a calm pond. Kif got to his feet and walked out the door. As it slid behind him, he saw several DOOP officers running quickly past him and down the hall. They looked concerned about something. Kif thought he might as well follow them.

Kif's path lead him to the Central Command deck. There, amongst many other DOOP officers, he found Admiral French and Lieutenant Commander Raker. They were looking at Ghak, and there appeared to be a little tension in the air.

Kif approached French and Raker. "What's going on?"

The two officers turned to face Kif. Their faces showed concern.

Raker spoke first: "We've got ourselves a bit of a situation here, Kif. It appears that the monster's made quite an effect on this solar system."

"How so?" Kif asked.

"To put it simply," started the Admiral, "Ghak's orbit is changing as we speak. It's slowly drifting further from the sun because the loss of planets is messing everything up."

"Is that really such a big deal?" asked Kif. "Ghak doesn't even have any inhabitants."

"That's true," said French, "but other planets do. Take the planet of Xeron, for example. Like Earth, it was positioned perfectly from the sun and provided the optimal conditions for the most diverse forms of life. But its orbit will no doubt be changing too, and that will affect the atmosphere and the life on the planet. How much the orbit will change, we don't know. Hopefully not enough to cause any damage."

There was a long moment of silence.

Kif broke it: "Does this effect our plans to go to Earth Orbital Base, sir?"

"No," replied the Admiral without much thought. "We have our top men working here on the problem, and what we have to do there is far more critical. You two should head over to Eleven Backwards and grab something to eat before we go. We might actually head off early if we can."

Kif and Raker nodded and made their way out of the room. Raker stopped and spoke, not to Kif, but into the area around them: "Computer! Take us to Eleven Backwards."

A friendly beep echoed around them, then a flashing red and yellow arrow appeared on the corridor wall nearby. A friendly female voice was heard: "Please follow the arrows marked along the corridor walls."

Kif's eyes followed the arrow to see that many others like it were visible in the direction it pointed, lining the wall to their right. Raker began to follow them, so Kif did also.

"I like it here," Raker said simply. "A friendly, peaceful DOOP station, not like Earth. Wouldn't you say, Kif?"

"I know what you mean," answered Kroker. "Although to be honest, I spent very little time there."

"That's right. You were on the Nimbus most of the time, it was usually in deep space."

"Yes. And it was hardly a peaceful or friendly ship to be on."

There was a short silence as they continued to walk. They made a left turn and Raker spoke again: "I don't want to sound disrespectful or sound like I don't think you deserve this, but... how did you get to become first officer at the rank of lieutenant?"

Kif sighed.

"Apart from Captain Zapp, the only superior officers to me on the Nimbus were a Commander and a Lieutenant Commander. The Commander left because he didn't agree with Zapp's methods. He managed to get onto another ship. The Lieutenant Commander was killed in one of Zapp's many suicidal plans."

Kif sighed again.

"In fact, it was the killbot incident in the Octillion system that got him. He led the final wave of men into the killbots and died for his efforts. I was bumped up to first officer after that."

Kif's eyes narrowed and his voice grew bitter.

"And to think Zapp got a medal for that!"

Raker didn't respond. They were near the end of the arrows anyway. As they entered the marked door that lead to Eleven Backwards, the arrows disappeared. Before them stood a darkened, but friendly room. The lights were dimmed to a nice relaxing lumination and many tables and chair occupied the area, between which various attractive potted plants were strewn. A long bar sat at the left side of the room, behind which a dark-skinned woman with a large purple hat stood serving drinks to a DOOP ensign. Raker and Kif approached the bar and waited. The woman approached them with a friendly smile.

"Hello gentlemen, what can I get for you?"

"What would you recommend as far as a good hearty breakfast goes?" Raker asked in a friendly, jocular manner.

The woman laughed a little.

"Two dsar eggs, some strips of flig bacon, a scoop of Hardassian beans and a glass of Trisolian juice to wash it down."

"Sounds great," smiled Raker. "Two orders, please."

"Sure thing," she smiled back. "I'll have it for you in a couple of minutes. Take a seat."

"Thanks," nodded Raker, before turning to take a nearby table seat. Kif across from him.

"So," said Raker taking an orange from the fruit bowl in the middle of the circular table. "Why didn't you get killed by the killbots?"

Kif sighed.

"Well", he answered reluctantly. "I was also in the final wave. I was lucky enough that the killbots reached their limit and shut down before they got to me."

Raker nodded as he ripped the last of the peel from the orange.

"No wonder why Zapp has had more soldiers under his command in DOOP history than any other Captain. I just thought he was popular."

He put the whole orange in his mouth, then seconds later pulled out a small orbicular skeleton and placed it beside him. It basically resembles a little spinal column and rib cage. Kif blinked at it.

"Oh," Raker laughed. "I'm guessing you've never had an Uropian orange before?"

Kif shook his head. Raker held out the fruit bowl.

"Uropian fruit is a delicacy. You want a banana?"

Kif just stared at the bowl for a few seconds.

"Uh... no thanks."

Raker shrugged and replaced the bowl to the table's centre.

Kif spoke next: "Any ideas what's going to happen back at the Earth base?"

Raker leant back on the chair before replying. His eyes were focussed on the ceiling rather than at Kif.

"Well. I would think that we're going to try and do something about this menace. But unless they start trying to find those gems, we don't have a chance."

"What about some of those planet destroying lasers used in the Cypher galaxy for people's amusement?" asked Kif. "Surely they could do some damage to it?"

Raker just shook his head, his eyes still looking up. "Nope. Wouldn't even scratch it."

There was a short silence as Kif thought.

He spoke again: "What about a doomsday device, like those ones owned by mad scientists? My girlfriend works for this nut named Farnsworth who has all sorts of strange devices like that."

"Nope," repeated Bill, his pupils finally turning in Kif's direction. "The most powerful ones would destroy everything BUT the beast."

The woman approached, carrying two large plates. She placed them in front of the two officers. They both smiled and thanked her.

"You two aren't from around here, are you?" she asked.

"No," replied Raker. "We're from the Earth base. We met with an unfortunate accident on the planet Cimmerian."

Raker poked his fork into one of the blue-yoked eggs as the woman nodded.

"Yes, I've heard about that. Terrible tragedy. You two must be Bill Raker and Kif Kroker then, the two survivors?"

Raker finished taking a mouthful of juice and nodded, placing the glass back on the table and taking his knife and fork again. He replied after swallowing the juice and resumed applying the eating utensils to his meal. Kif was still poking at the azure vitellus on his plate.

"That's right. And you are?"

"Oh, I haven't introduced myself have I?" she laughed. "People around her call me Guinean."

"Well," said Raker after swallowing a mouthful of egg and purple bacon. "You sure know how to make a good breakfast."

"Thank you", Guinean said with a satisfied smile. "Your friend doesn't say much."

"He just lost his ship," answered Raker in a more serious tone as he scooped up some beans.

"Oh," said Guinean with a look of concern. "I'm so sorry."

"It's alright," Kif replied. "The important thing is that we're alive."

"That's true," she nodded. "What ship were you on?"

"The Nimbus," replied Kif before shoving a fork full of egg into his mouth.

Guinean looked shocked.

"The Nimbus!" she repeated. "Zapp Brannigan's ship?!"

Kif nodded.

"My God! I can't believe we've lost such a great ship. And a great Captain too!"

Kif paused, the glass of juice just a few centimetres away from being drunk from. After some seconds, he placed it back on the table. He rose, his face trying to hide his anger, but doing a rather ineffective job.

"If you'll excuse me," he said, leaving the table and half of his meal. He walked out the same door he had come through minutes earlier.

Guinean looked at Raker with bewilderment.

He swallowed the contents in his mouth and spoke: "Talking about Zapp is a sensitive issue for Kif."

"So I see," she said, her glance moving back to the door.

On the other side, an angry Kif leant against the corridor wall. He punched it three times. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a vase sitting on a pedestal. He picked it up and raised it above his head, then slammed it down on the ground. The vase shattered into hundreds of pieces with an eruption of sound not dissimilar to breaking glass, with one shard snicking his left cheek.

Two talking ensigns looked in his direction. After an awkward silence, one of them whispered into his collar, "Security to Eleven Backwards."

Raker and Guinean, having heard the crash, stepped outside to see Kif and the broken vase. Kif put his left hand up to his cheek, touching it with his index finger and then looking at it. A dark red stain appeared on the gloved fingertip. Two security officers appeared from around a corner, immediately grabbing Kif. Kroker struggled, but the two officers were too big and strong. Raker just stood and watched with a sigh.

"I'm sorry about that," said Guinean to him.

"It's not your fault. It was bound to happen at some point."

He sighed.

"Probably better that it was sooner, rather than later."

A small cleaning robot appeared and started to sweep up the shards of porcelain as Raker and Guinean disappeared back into Eleven Backwards.

All Philip J. Fry could see was black. It wasn't that it was dark, as he could see himself clearly, but it was like he was standing in the midst of an endless black abyss.

He called out: "Hello! I anybody here?!"

He waited for a response. There was only silence.

Fry sighed, hanging his head low. Then, perked back up. In the distance, he could see something. It looked like a bright area of light. Fry began to run over to it. As he got closer, he began to slowly see what it was. At first, it looked like a row of strange, white capsules, but as he got even closer, he could see that they were really the same kind of capsules that he himself was frozen in. There were ten of them, but when Fry finally reached them, he was shocked at what he saw.

In the first four capsules were the people he knew from his past. His father, then his mother, then brother, Yancey, and finally his dog, Seymour. They were all frozen inside, staring out at him with looks of suspended shock on their faces. In the other six were his friends from the present, but only the ones from the ship. Leela, then Bender, Amy, Zoidberg, Scruffy and Nibbler. Fry looked scared.

"What's going on here?!" he asked with shock, looking at what stood before him.

As if to answer his question, the ground began to shake. Fry's glance moved to the first capsule as he noticed its movement. The container that held his frozen dad began to wobble, and then suddenly disappeared into the ground. The next three did the same, in order along the row. When all four were gone, the holes they made closed up and the shaking stopped.

Fry jumped backwards with shock as Leela's capsule shot into the air without warning. No sooner had it disappeared, when Bender's followed suit. Then Amy's, then Zoidberg's, then Scruffy's and finally Nibbler's.

But before the tube containing Nibbler made it very far, it exploded abruptly. When the smoke had cleared, a small metal ball appeared in its place. The ball did not stay small, though, it grew in mass until it was as large as a planet. All Fry could do was cower in its might. He was confused and scared. He didn't know what was happening to him. The next thing he knew, a bright light appeared from the middle of gigantic metal monster.

"Wake up!"

A large metal hand smacked against Fry's cheek. Fry opened his eyes and winced at the brightness. Right there was Joey Mousepad, leaning over him with a torch in his other hand. The light was shining right in Fry's face, and behind Joey stood Clamps and the Don-bot. Fry was still inside the dark trunk which the Robot Mafia had shoved him in for transportation to their friend who wanted the human slave. Fry groaned and pushed the torch aside.

"Hey! Do you mind pointing that thing at something else?!"

"Come on!" ordered the Don-bot. "We have to deliver you to your new master."

Fry was suddenly heaved out of the darkness by Joey and placed on the soft ground outside the Mafia space vehicle. Before he could even do anything, Joey whipped a piece black cloth over his eyes.

"Sorry about the blindfold," Fry heard the Don-bot's voice say. "But we can't let you know where we're going. The blindfold will be removed upon arrival."

Fry then felt his hands being tied behind his back and then his body being lifted over Joey's shoulder, followed by the movement as the group walked towards their destination.

The door slid open and in walked Admiral French and Lieutenant Commander Raker. Both had serious expressions on their faces as they looked down at Kif Kroker, who was sitting on the edge of a bench inside a small cell. The thin, flickering energy between the cell and the room outside it disappeared as French pressed a button. Kif looked up.

"Well Kroker," said French in a less than impressed tone. "It seems you caused a little disturbance outside of Eleven Backwards earlier."

"I'm sorry, sir," replied Kif. "It won't happen again."

"Don't worry," said the Admiral. "Raker has informed me of your troubles concerning Brannigan. You won't be punished, but I am assigning you to talk with the ship's councillor when we leave in twenty minutes. It'll be a long trip to Earth Orbital Base, so you may as well spend it trying to sort this out."

The little green officer managed a smile. "Thank you, sir."

"No problem," smiled French back. "You've been through a lot, and it's all perfectly understandable. Now look sharp, you have five minutes to get to the ship. It's in docking bay 4A."

With that, he turned and left. Kif stood up.

"I suppose we'd better get going," said Raker.

Kif nodded. "You're right. But I should really go an apologise to Guinean before we do."

"Good idea," said Raker. "I'll meet you at the ship."

Kif nodded, and Raker left. The green Lieutenant Commander sighed again.

"I think I need a strong drink before I go anyway," he uttered to himself.

Then, he too left the room, making his way back to Eleven Backwards.

As the blindfold was removed from his eyes, the first thing Fry's eyes saw was the large, dark room he was in. Everything was cold and blue, save for a single long strip of mauve carpet that lead to a throne. And on the throne, sat a rather large creature. He had a garish smile a mile wide, bright pink skin and a dark moustache. Apart from three strange lumps on the forehead and the bright skin, he looked almost human. He leaned in his chair indolently, dressed almost like a king in bright rose clothing. On either side of him stood two identical expressionless females. Both had the same pink skin, but were rather svelte and fetching. A direct contrast to that of the figure that slugged between them. Joey was to Fry's left, and Clamps to the right. He couldn't see the Don-bot though.


Fry was poked in the middle of the back. Now he knew where the Don-bot was. Then, the loaf on the throne stood and approached, trying to walk with dignity, yet waddling slightly.

"Ah! Don-bot! I see you have a human slave for me!"

His cheerful, haughty voice sounded excited. The Don-bot walked over and shook the creature's hand.

"It is good to see you again, Grand Chief Losth. And, yes, as promised, we have a human slave for you."

"So I see," said Losth, examining Fry. After circling him, he whispered to the Don-bot closely, "A shame you couldn't get me a more..... feminine specimen. You know how I feel about....." He paused and licked his lips with a fat purple tongue. "Earthling females?"

"I'm sorry, but my supplier wasn't willing to part with the females."

The Grand Chief pouted.

"Yes. A shame that. Oh well, he'll still be able to take care of other tasks... I guess."

"Good," said the Don-bot, patting Losth on the shoulder. "The boys and I must be off now. And we'll keep a look out for some more... maiden-like samples for you."

"Excellent!" Losth beamed, his large smile returning. "I'll look forward to it."

And with that, the metal goons disappeared out the door from behind Fry. Fry turned back to his new master.

"Well, my boy," smiled the Grand Chief. "I'm sure you'll find here most interesting."

"Yeah," started Fry dubiously. "Where IS this place?"

"Why, you're in the Vangar System of course! Not that it matters, you won't really see anything outside these walls."

"Oh," said Fry, clearly frustrated. "What kind of slave AM I then?"

"Boy, you're the questioner, aren't you? Well, if you were a female slave, I'd have you to provide certain... services for me. Being as you're not, I'll have to assign you to one of the other tasks I need fulfilling. I'm not in the mood to do it now, so in the meantime, you can go to your cell."

He looked at the two girls and clapped his hands.

"Girls!" he called loudly. "Take him to an empty cell."

"At once, Grand Chief," the girls droned in obviously mechanical voices. Fry could now tell that they were actually robots made to look like attractive members of Losth's species. They approached him and each took one of his arms in a firm lock, then lead them through a door to the left of the throne.

Kif stepped through the doors into the docking tube that would give him access to the ship, and from what he could see through the glass panels, it was quite a ship. The Corona looked almost like the Nimbus, with subtle differences: it was slightly smaller, but looked a little sleeker, which meant it was one of the newer ships. As Kif walked down the long, red-carpeted pathway towards the entrance to the ship, he could see small hovering platforms and ships working around it, making final adjustments here and there. Kif entered the ship and immediately made his way to a jet-lift. He stepped in and a DOOP ensign also entered.

"Bridge," ordered Kif to the computer.

"Engineering," said the ensign.

The lift bleeped, the doors closed and it whirred with movement. The first stop was engineering, where the ensign departed. The lift whirred into life again and arrived at the bridge. Kif stepped out and surveyed the area. It was very similar to that of the Nimbus in here, too. The seats and computers looked a little more comfortable, but the basic layout was the same. The captain's seat in the middle, with the helm control in front, the security and weapons systems behind, and the science terminals to the right. The large screen at the front used for viewing course and contacting ships was identical, and displayed the stars slowly darting past them behind the ship.

Kif turned to Admiral French, who was in the captain's seat. "I didn't know we were underway already?" he said.

"Huh?" the Admiral said before realising the screen ahead. "Oh, the stars. Sorry, it's on the 'Flying Through Space' screensaver."

He moved the trackball on his armrest and the screen flicked to inside the docking back in the Orbital Station.

The Admiral laughed.

"Confused you there did I, Lieutenant Commander?"

Kif smiled and nodded.

"These things are great. I once confused your own Admiral Gordon with this one."

He pressed a button and stars appeared again, but this time they were moving to the left.

The Admiral laughed.

"He thought the ship was travelling sideways! You should have seen the look in his face when he found out!"

Kif chuckled a bit. He COULD imagine what Admiral Gordon's face would have been like.

"Here's a favourite of mine," French continued. "Used it on Captain Anderson once."

He pressed another button and the screen changed back to the docking port. Then, from the edges of the screen, large bug-like aliens appeared, crawling on the screen. They looked like they were chewing on it.

The Admiral laughed.

"The poor fool thought he was under attack by giant space bugs!"

Kif laughed out loud. It was the first time he'd laughed this much in a long, long time.

The Admiral turned it off, just as the door behind Kif opened and Raker stepped through.

"Good morning, Admiral. Lieutenant Commander," the bearded officer said with a cheery smile. "All systems are ready to go, and we can leave as soon as you're ready."

"Excellent. All systems go. Prepare to depart base. Set course for Earth Orbital Base."

"Aye Admiral," replied the ensign working the helm control.

Outside the ship, the small craft headed away and the clamps holding the ship unlocked. The engines came online and she slowly began to move forward. It cleared the exit of the stellar haven and turned to port to head for Earth Orbital Base OR01.

The helmsman worked the controls as Raker sat on one side of the Admiral and Kif on the other. Then, he turned towards them with a look of concern.

"Admiral! I believe there may be an overheating problem. It appears the screen is melting!"

He pointed to the view screen, and from the top down, it looked like the screen was slowly melting.

The Admiral chuckled in his seat.

"I love that setting!"

He pressed a button on his armrest, and the view returned to normal: stars sailing past the ship. This time though, it was real.

Fry was thrown, roughly, into the back wall, and then the metal gate clanged shut behind him. The two robotic females disappeared, leaving Fry alone in a dank, empty cell. And very empty at that. The small cell only comprised of a single bench and a rather dirty looking bucket. However, unlike the dark blue metallic surfaces in the throne room he was in earlier, this dungeon was made of rough, flaxen bricks. Fry sat on the bench and rubbed his nose, the object that had hit the wall. A pale beam of light shone on his face from a window high on the back wall. Through the bars, Fry could see a dark blue sky dotted with small twinkling stars. He sighed to himself.

"I wish Bender was here. He could bend those bars."

Reaching into his back pocket, Fry pulled out his trusty Swiss Army knife. He flicked out the blade and began to slowly carve into the brick beside him: "FRY WAS HE...."

As he tried to make an 'R', a large chunk of material came out of the bricks, spattering on the hard ground below. Fry rubbed where the chunk came from with his finger and smiled. Making sure nobody was around by looking through the bars in both directions and listening carefully, Fry stood on the bench up to where the bars were. Then, he began chipping away at the stone near where the bars were with his blade.

"Hopefully," he whispered to himself, "these bars don't go too deep."

And he was right. After only digging out about 2 centimetres of brick from the bottom on the left-most bar, Fry found the end of it. He could then easily just pull the bar out of the brick above, it crumbling away easily. Placing it on the windowsill, he worked at the next bar, then the next, then the next, until all five bars were gone. Fry smiled to himself and replaced his knife to his pocket, before pulling himself out the window. After a slightly tight squeeze, he pushed himself out to freedom and landed face first on the dusty ground.


Fry's eyes widened.

"Funny." he said to himself, "my face doesn't usually make that sound when it hits the ground?"

Back inside, Grand Chief Losth rushed through the door with his two female androids close behind. All he saw in the cell were some clods of brick and some still moving metal bars. One rolled under the metal barred gate and stopped as it hit his shoe. He didn't look happy.

"The human has escaped!" he yelled. "Find him!!!"

The two females nodded and left with much haste. Fry had heard this outside, and thought it may be a good time to get as far as he could, as quickly as he could. Before he could even look around, the two pink robots appeared from out of a door only a few metres away.


Fry screamed before running quickly in the opposite direction and around a corner. The robots made chase. Fry didn't even look where he was going, and apart from ducking around the odd building corner, he just ran and ran and ran.

The doors slid aside, Kif entered the room he had been told to report to. It appeared very calm and friendly, with relaxing dim lighting and a few potted plants. Just like Eleven Backwards, except quieter.

"Councillor?" Kif called out, obviously wondering if anybody was around.

With that, a slender woman appeared from a doorless entrance on the left side of the room. She had curly, dark hair and large dark eyes, and a friendly grin appeared on her dark red lips. Her nose was biggish, but not fat, and her uniform was cut lower than the standard DOOP one, revealing a hint of cleavage. She appeared to be human, but Kif was told she wasn't; well, not fully. She approached him and shook his hand.

"You must be Lieutenant Commander Kif Kroker," she said.

"Yes," Kif nodded. "Pleased to meet you, Miss...."

"Troy. Ship's Councillor D'Anna Troy. That's spelt T-R-O-Y."

"Interesting," Kif replied. "Why did you need to tell me how your name was spelt?"

"I don't want to be confused with anybody else," she replied simply.

"I see," said Kif, a little unsure.

"Anyway," D'Anna said, "let's get started. Have a seat."

"Thank you," said Kif, sitting down. "I've heard that the reason you're the councillor is because you're half Alphazork. Does that mean you can read my mind?"

She laughed. "Not exactly. But I can tell when you're lying. I'm like a living polygraph."

"Ah," replied Kif. He then chuckled. "Do you make a 'beep' sound when people lie."

"Yes," she answered right away without hesitation, a dead serious expression and tone.

"Oh," said Kif. He had meant it as a joke.

D'Anna suddenly smiled. "Got you!" she laughed. "I was just kidding. I had you going there for a second didn't I?"

Kif waved his hand. "Not for a second."

"BEEP!" D'Anna said seriously. "You lied."

Fry stopped running and turned around, panting heavily. It appeared that he had lost his pursuers. Breathing a heavy sigh of relief, Fry leaned against a cold, hard metallic wall beside him. Surveying the area, he finally began to take in his surroundings.

The air was thin, and the gravity was slightly lighter than Earth's, yet Fry could breath easily. He was in a small street with strange buildings huddled on either side. These structures looked well-built, almost armoured, but the overall feeling was one of dilapidation and neglect. The ground resembled the surface of an asteroid, with a dusty soil and small craters. An unhealthy smell pervaded the air, and the entrances to the dwellings seemed to be very heavily armed, as if the local population were living in fear of something. One thing was for sure, if there were any inhabitants, they didn't want to show themselves.

"Well," Fry said to himself. "I may as well try and find out more about this place if I hope to get off of it."

Fry looked around, coming up with the idea that perhaps if he found a tall structure, he may just be able to get to the top of it and survey the whole area. He may be able to spot something that could help him out, be it a spaceport or whatever. Fry smiled when his eyes caught something in the distance, not too far away.

"Bingo!" he said to himself.

In the distance was a tall, blue spiral structure that reached up several stories into the air. The same diameter from bottom to top, there was a visible platform at the peak of the object. Fry didn't know what it was, or what it did, but he could see that it was clearly the tallest construction in the general area.

Deciding there was no time to waste, Fry ran towards it at a fast, but casual, pace. The thin air and gravity made travel a breeze, and Fry discovered that he could actually jump a fair distance too. When he reached the base of the object, the towering spiral structure seemed even taller and more magnificent. Whatever it was made of, it was semi-transparent and seemed to have a slight glow to it. It was clearly a splendid piece of architecture, held in place only by where the thick sapphire coil dug firmly in the ground.

Fry noticed a computer console nearby and approached it. There was a screen, a keypad and a large flat panel. Fry didn't understand anything on the screen or the keys. Looking back towards the tall cerulean helix, Fry could tell that climbing it would be darn near impossible.

He sighed. "How the hell am I supposed to get up there?! There HAS to be a way. Maybe this computer thing can help me?"

Fry began to randomly hit some keys on it, and although some symbols on the screen changed from time to time, Fry couldn't understand what was going on. Fry leaned on the console in frustration, groaning in defeat. However, he didn't realise that he had rested his left hand on the dark, shiny panel beside the keypad. Fry jumped as he felt a strange tingling around his palm, but he didn't remove it. Watching it intently, he watched as a bluish-white glow emitted from the panel. As the chromatic energy wrapped around his hand, it began to travel up his arm, wrapping around it like the spiral structure that stood nearby. Then, with a blinding flash, the luminescence hit Fry right between the eyes.

Fry shook his head. He didn't know what had happened, but all he could see was a white haze. Rubbing his eyes, his vision began to clear.

He groaned and leaned on the console. "Man, what happened to me?"

Shaking his head again, he looked at the computer screen in front of him. Suddenly, he gasped as his eyes scanned the display. He could now understand everything, even the symbols on the keyboard. They hadn't changed in appearance to him, but they were instantly translated in his mind. Fry smiled as he read the information in front of him.

"Citizens, remember to adhere to all curfew times or extreme action may be taken against you. Wow, I can understand this even better than I understand most English!"

With the option of going back to a main menu or continuing to another news story, Fry hit the key that would take him back to the menu. A new array of options was now in front of him.

He read them aloud, "About System, Local News, Rules, Activate Coil, Advertisements."

Fry pressed the forth choice. The computer beeped, and Fry turned his head to see a glowing mass of blue energy appear in the middle of the spiral just above the ground. It was about the size of an average human being and it shimmered and rippled, almost like a liquid. Fry approached it.

"Hmmmm, guess I just step into this thing?"

Fry stepped into the energy, letting it surround him.

He chuckled. "Hey! This tickles."

Then, in an abrupt explosion of light and energy, everything around Fry burst out. Fry was in awe as everything around him glittered in an aqua and violet shimmer. Fry was slowly levitated vertically through the spiral's centre, as thin waves of pink, purple and blue light swam around him. The coils of the spiral glowed a dark, but bright-blue, and small sparkles floated and glittered around. Fry just stared up above him in awe as the speckles of stars that surrounded the system he was on enhanced the beauty. After what seemed like forever, but was really only about a minute, Fry reached the top, floating up through a hole in the platform that adorned the top of the helix. Fry leaned on the convenient safety rail around the edge of the flat surface, and took in what surrounded him.

From where he was standing, Fry could see that he was indeed on an asteroid floating amongst a cluster of other asteroids in space. The strange, turquoise atmosphere appeared to be in permanent night, as bright stars could be seen twinkling all around, as well as a distant red sun. Through the hazy glow of the alien atmosphere, many other asteroids of various sizes could be seen. These mostly crowded with the same strange alien dwellings that Fry saw earlier. Small lights were on in many of the buildings and small spacecraft could be seen flitting to and fro. The asteroids, of which Fry could count six, were all joined together via what appeared to be retractable metallic service viaducts. It was amazing that there was sufficient oxygen and a cool, but relatively mild, temperature considering how things looked. There was no vegetation or water anywhere on the dark, purple-toned asteroids, and the stars didn't move around to suggest orbit, yet the small system had an atmosphere that would resemble a large planet.

"Wow! This place is amazing. I've seen some spectacular sights since I've been frozen, but this is impressive."

Watching the craft that flew by, Fry tried to see if there was a common destination to which they were all going to. Unfortunately, they all appeared to be going to different places. Fry sighed. Perhaps he should look for other clues. He tried, but it seemed that no matter where he looked, everything appeared pretty much the same; all the same armoured blue buildings.

"Maybe I should ask one of the people here? It can't hurt to try."

Fry turned and carefully stepped back into the hole. As he had hoped, the bright energy that was still there sent him slowly and safely down to the surface again. As soon as his feet had touched the ground, the energy around him disappeared, and the huge spiral structure stopped glowing. Fry looked around. He thought that going for some of the few houses that didn't have large weapons grafted above the doors would be a good idea. Walking along down the street further, he came across what looked like a rather harmless entrance. Wandering up, he pressed the button on the panel beside the door.

"I hope that was the doorbell," he said to himself as he waited. "And why am I talking to myself?"

The door opened with a creak and Fry jumped as he saw a large, four-eyed beast. It looked muscular and angry. Fry cleared his throat.

"Hello. Hey, I was.... uh... wondering if you could te-"

The creature interrupted Fry with a loud, obnoxious, almost roar-like series of grunts and screeches, while simultaneously shaking its fist in the air. It them slammed the door shut in Fry's face.

"I'm guessing he doesn't want to talk. Unless I need to speak in the same language as was on that console. Oh man! I can understand it in writing, but speaking it! That's another matter."

Fry made his way along another few houses, and after passing six more heavily armed entrances, he came across another relatively safe looking house. He pressed the button beside the door.

"Hopefully this one's a bit friendlier."

The door opened partly, and Fry could make out an eye peering back. A soft, feminine voice spoke, fear apparent in the owner's voice. Unfortunately, Fry couldn't understand what was said, although it sounded nice.

He replied, trying to sound as submissive and calm as he could so as not to startle the inhabitant, "I'm sorry, I don't understand your language. I was wondering if you could help me?"

Fry noticed the eye blink as he waited for a response and then the door opened up more. Fry couldn't help but blush as he saw standing before him a beautiful young female, which appeared to be human. She had large blue eyes, a small nose, long brown hair that draped over her back and shoulders, and wore what looked like a long white robe. A petite, attractive figure was evident, judging from the subtle curves of the clothing around her body, and her small pink lips looked emotionless. She stared at Fry, as if she was studying him.

She spoke, her voice more gentle this time: "You speak the language of the crimson troops."

Fry understood that.

"Y-Yes, I guess. It's good to find somebody that also speaks the.... uh.... crimson troop language."

"You probably don't call it that," she said. "It's just known as that here because of the crimson uniformed men that speak the language. I am fluent in it myself because my father taught it to me."

Fry thought for a few seconds.

"Ah, you must mean the DOOP?"

She nodded. "Yes, I think that's what they are called. But, please, come in quickly before anybody sees you!"

Fry yelped as she pulled him into her house, surprised how such a delicate looking girl could have that amount of strength. Perhaps the gravity and thin air helped. As she closed the door behind them, Fry looked around her home. It could be best described as quaint. A simple, little home, that didn't fit in with the bulky exterior. It wasn't very large either, with just a kitchen and dining area, although another two doors lead somewhere else.

She made her way to the kitchen, her face still expressionless as she spoke: "Please, sit down. Would you like something to drink?"

"Yes, please," said Fry as he sat down at the table. "This is a nice little place you have here."

For the first time, the girl's lips managed a smile, if only for a split second.

"Thank you," she said while preparing some sort of hot beverage. "It's not ideal, but it does the job. It's the only place I can be that keeps my mind of what's going on outside."

"Yeah, about that," Fry replied, "what IS going on around here? What with the curfew times and the armoured houses, and the weapons on the doorsteps."

"This isn't exactly the safest system in the universe", she replied. "Criminal activities and a corrupt government make this a rather sordid place. And it doesn't help that your neighbours will quite happily sell whatever they can about you to the authorities."

She poured the steaming liquid into two cups and sat down with Fry at the table, placing one in front of him.

"Thanks. But how come your house isn't protected, and why do you live here?"

Fry took a sip of the warm green liquid. It was sweet, and kind of tangy. He didn't know what it was, but he liked it.

The girl sighed. "Well, my door is almost impossible to get through for one thing. I made sure it was more secure and stronger than normal. I can't have weapons at my entrance because I actually want people to come here."

"Really. Why?"

"I provide safety for those who are unfortunate enough to have come here unwillingly. Then I try to organise safe passage for them out of the system."

Fry smiled.

"Looks like I came to the right place. I need to get out of here and get back to my ship."

"Why are you here?"

"I was sold for information to the Robot Mafia, who then in turn sold me to a slave driver here. I managed to escape. Oh, by the way, my name is Fry."

He extended his right hand. The girl blinked, put down her cup and took his hand in hers. She managed to smile again for a brief second.

"My name is Alesia."

"Pleased to meet you. I don't want to sound demanding, but, is there any way you could help me?"

Alesia thought.

"It's easy to help those who need to get to a home planet, but getting to a ship is another matter."

"Yeah, I expected as much. If only there was a way I could find out where my ship is going, or pinpoint where they were."

Fry took another sip of drink, while Alesia's large blue eyes looked up at the ceiling in thought while she also drank. She lowered the cup from her lips and spoke.

"Any clues as to where it was going? There must be something you knew. What was the information that was traded for you?"

Fry's face brightened with realisation.

"Of course! The Mafia told them the location of a contact that might know about the gems, I'm sure of it! They already have the orange gem."

Alesia turned her head to one side in question. "Gems?"

"Yeah. There are these gems that this Baron guy is looking for. We have one of them. They hold some kind of special power, and that's all that I know."

Alesia's face lit up, as much as it could anyway.

"Perhaps they seek the Emerald of Light?"

Fry leaned forward.

"The what?"

"The Emerald of Light," she repeated. "How large was this gem? The one they already had?"

Fry put his cup down and held his two index fingers apart from each other at about six inches in length.

"About this long."

He brought his fingers closer to about half of what they were before.

"And this wide. Shaped kind of like a diamond."

Alesia nodded.

"Yes, that's about the size of the Emerald. Perhaps that's one of the gems this baron person is after? The Emerald of Light apparently has a special power."

"Yeah? That sounds exactly like one of the gems. One of them was green, too. Where can I find this Emerald of Light?"

Alesia finished off another sip from her cup.

"It's located in the Avanzino system, on a planet called Verrone Five. I'd be careful though, as the planet's ruler owns the gem, and I don't think he'd be willing to give it up. It's an unfriendly planet owned by an even more unfriendly master."

"Wow! How do you know so much about these things?"

She smiled.

"When you live in a place like this, you pick things up."

Fry smiled back.

"Well, you've been more than enough help. What's the fastest way to get there? I want to arrive before the others, if I can."

Alesia looked at the ceiling again in thought, her mouth once again becoming a small expressionless line.

"There are no ships that go there from this place, or from any where else I know. Like I said, it's an unfriendly place. Your best bet is to find a closer planet that would allow you to hire a small shuttle craft."

Placing her cup on the table, she stood up and walked over to a computer console built into the wall nearby. After pressing a few keys, she turned back to Fry.

"There's a large space station called the Ellipse World. It should allow you to hire a craft to get to Verrone Five."

"Great. But how do I get there?"

Alesia turned again and pressed a few keys.

"The next ship due to go there doesn't leave for another two days."

Fry groaned.

"I can't wait that long. They could be been and gone by then."

Alesia turned back to Fry with an unsure look on her face.

"Well," she said, followed by a long pause, "I could take you?"

Fry looked at her. She had already helped him so much and then kept on giving.

"Thanks, but I can't ask you to do that? You're needed here. Besides, you've done enough for me."

She smiled affectionately.

"That's very kind, but it wouldn't take more than a few hours for me to get you there. I have quite a fast little ship."

"Well," replied Fry reluctantly. "If you're sure you don't mind?"

She shook her head.

"Not at all."

Fry finished the last of his drink, then heard a loud knock at the door. He looked at Alesia.

"That's probably the robots looking for me!"

Alesia indicated one of the doors.

"Hide in there! Quick!"

Fry quickly did as she told him. It turned out that the door simply covered a small closet. He closed the door behind him just as Alesia opened her front door a crack. There stood the two female robots outside.

"Greetings. We're looking for a human," said the robots in unison. "He is very dangerous. You haven't seen him have you?"

"No," said Alesia simply. "Humans aren't common in this system. I haven't seen any for several months now."

"Acknowledged," they said. "Then you won't mind if we do a routine search?"

"Yes. I do mind," she replied stubbornly. The robots could tell she wasn't going to cooperate. As the forward most one drew back to push her door open, she slammed it closed on them. Her metal fist did nothing more than make a loud clangour against the much stronger door.

"Let us in!" her muffled voice said from the outside, followed by another clang on the metal entrance. Alesia whirled around and opened the closet.

"We must hurry, your pursuers are just outside! Follow me."

She quickly opened the one other door and walked quickly through it. Fry followed her into a corridor that lead to three other doors; one on the left, one on the right, and another straight ahead. Alesia entered the right one, and Fry followed suit. After she had flicked on a light switch, Alesia lead Fry down a staircase to what looked like a small shuttle bay. There wasn't much down there except a small vehicle. It looked a bit like a hover car, but it was sleeker, suggesting that it was also capable of space travel. This shiny, steel blue ship must have been the one she mentioned earlier. The inside had comfy looking grey leather seats and a dashboard with many monitors and keypads on it. The strangest thing was that there was no glass cover over it, it was completely open-topped.

"This is my PTV," she said while pulling her sleeve back to reveal an arm computer, similar to that of Leela's. "It'll get us to the Ellipse World."

"PTV?" Fry questioned.

"Personal Transport Vehicle," she translated before pressing some keys on her arm, causing the shimmering security field around the craft to dematerialise. "They're like a cross between a standard hover car and a space ship. Hop in."

Seeing that there were no doors, Fry hopped over the edge and landed on the left seat. They were as comfy as they looked. As Fry found and clipped the seat belt, Alesia joined him in the right seat. She pressed a few buttons, and then entered some numbers on a keypad. The monitors and other display devices came to life, and above them a transparent blue field appeared. Fry could see this is what replaced the glass.

"This is an impressive little ship!" Fry stated with genuine awe.

"We'd better get going," she replied, almost as if to change the subject. "I don't know how much longer that door will stand. They are strong robots."

Alesia's fingers glided over the primary keypad, and the PTV powered up and slowly rose. The craft was facing a dark hole. Alesia pulled a lever, and the craft shot into the hole. They travelled along through the darkened tunnel at quite a speed, and after a dozen seconds or so, the PTV exited into space. Fry looked back to see that they had actually shot out of a crater on the edge of the giant, populated asteroid. He turned his head back towards Alesia.

"How long to the Ellipse World?"

Alesia pressed some buttons before leaning back in her seat and glancing back at Fry.

"About four hours."


There was a short moment of silence, then Fry spoke again: "Look, thanks again for helping me out with this. I've put you to so much trouble, and those robots could destroy your house and possessions."

She pressed a button on a keypad.

"Maybe not. I've just activated a house security device. If those robots are already inside or touch the building, they'll get quite a shock."

As the small PTV blasted into deep space, outside Alesia's house, two unmoving droids lay on the asteroid's dusty purple ground, while a blue shimmer surrounded the house. The door had no more than a few dents on it, and the fembots had been thrown a good five metres from the entrance.

While the Planet Express ship, the Corona, and the PTV were all in transit, as was the metal giant, floating on towards its next planetoid meal.