Futurama

Fan Fiction

Futurama: Universe of Malice, Part 9
By Kenneth White

Chapter 9 - Blackout

Somewhere near the centre of the known universe, far from Earth and the beast, lay Planet Eternium. It was here that a small pink spacecraft descended upon the equally pink surface of the planet, landing softly outside the structure known as the Hall of Forever. As the doors to the great hall opened, a tiny cloaked traveller entered, facing the many rows of tiny hooded figures seated around the darkened room. One of them spoke from behind its hood, a strong voice that indicated that he was perhaps the leader of them.

"Welcome, Ambassador Tibbles. We have been waiting for your arrival."

The ambassador lowered his hood to reveal two large eyes and a third one on a stalk. He looked virtually identical to Nibbler, which was no coincidence, as he was of the same species.

"Thank you."

"Do you have good news?" another hooded figure to the right of the one that spoke earlier said in a feminine voice.

"If you can call the news good?" the newcomer said. "I thought it was best that I came and discussed it here."

"What is it then?" the dominant male Nibblonian asked.

"The Machine has awoken!" stated Tibbles simply.

The room was then filled with an innate jabbering amongst the hooded little figures. It was silenced by the dominant male.

"How long has it been like this?!"

"At least two days," Tibbles said. "I followed it and saw the destruction of two planets."

"We knew this was coming," sighed the female Nibblonian.

"However," stated the male, "we do have a chance. If the Ancient Staff of Power can be found, then--"

"But the staff and the jewels could be anywhere," butted in another Nibblonian.

"Plus it didn't even work the first time," another stated.

"That was only because the wielder of the staff couldn't control its power!" the dominant male snapped.

"There's more..." said the ambassador. All attention focussed on him.

"After scanning the device from afar, I manage to decipher that it senses living things around it in a unique way that is familiar to us. Because of it's mass, it can sense where planets are hundreds of light years away by detecting any life that they give off. It determines this by scanning for delta brain waves."

There was a dramatic silence, as all the Nibblonians looked at each other.

"Of course!" the dominant female said. "It all makes sense! What better way to scan for life than to detect the delta waves?!"

"Exactly!" said the dominant male. "Which means we still have a slim chance if we use The Mighty One!"

"Yes," Ambassador Tibbles nodded. "The Earth being known as Fry may be able to destroy it if he held the Staff of Power. There is still the matter of finding the staff and the gems."

"And the fact that he probably wouldn't be strong enough to wield them either," added the female.

"In either case," said the male, "we must make contact with Lord Nibbler of Earth."

The others all jabbered in agreement.

"There's more still," said the ambassador. "I was not alone in observing the beast. The Lone One was also there."

The Nibblonians gasped.

"He was there?" the dominant male asked.

"There he was!" Tibbles stated.

"He may be a problem," stated the female. "But he can be dealt with later."

The other Nibblonians all uttered in agreement.

"Excuse me," said Tibbles. "But it has been a long trip and I require food and rest. I'm so hungry I could eat a horse."

"The chef has one prepared for you in the dining area," noted the female.

"Ooh!" the ambassador said, then quickly bolted through a door.

 

Meanwhile, on the Planet Express ship, Nibbler was woken by the sound of beeping coming from the locker he was originally found in. He was inside the crew quarters, sleeping on Leela's lap. She, Bender, Zoidberg and Scruffy were all sleeping in the dark room. Amy was piloting the ship now, to give Leela some rest. None of the others were woken up because the beeping wasn't audible to their ears. Only Nibbler's super-sensitive hearing could pick it up. The small creature looked around and then scampered over to the locker. He opened it then bounded up to a shelf near the top. Once again checking his surroundings, he closed the locker door, then quietly removed a panel at the back of the locker. He reached inside at took out the source of the sound; a small hand-held device not dissimilar to that of a cell phone. Pushing a flashing button on the front of it, he put it up to the side of his face and spoke into it.

"Ambassador Nibbler of Earth speaking."

He listened to some jabbering on the other end for a while before speaking back.

"I'm afraid that I'm in a bit of a situation here," he whispered. "And the Mighty One is not here."

He listened some more.

"I am no longer on Earth. The people whom I stay with were captured, and the one called Fry has been sold into slavery in the process. We are currently in a ship travelling to the Avanzino galaxy."

He listened to more jabbering, a look of surprise on his face.

"Why was I not informed about this staff?!" he asked.

A short reply came.

"Why do I need to know?! Because the human that captured us is looking for the same objects!"

Nibbler listened some more.

"Yes, he plans to use the items to control this monster, which, might I add, I was ALSO not informed about!"

Nibbler rolled his eyes as the reply came.

"I think that as protector and overseer of the Mighty One, I need to be informed about ANYTHING that may have to do with him!"

Nibbler listened.

"That's a poor excuse!"

More jabbering replies followed.

"It shall be difficult, but I'll try my best. Circumstances aren't in my favour!"

Nibbler listened again.

"Okay, like I said, I shall endeavour to do so. But don't expect any miracles. Ambassador Nibbler out."

With those words, Nibbler pressed a button and threw the device back inside the hole, then replaced the panel. He slowly opened the locker door, peered out, then leapt back outside, closing the locker door behind him. He then ran over to Leela and pulled on her leg, jabbering loudly. She woke up, rubbing her eye and yawning.

"What is it Nibbler?" she asked. "If you're hungry, there's not much I can give you."

Nibbler continued to yammer loudly, this time indicating something behind Leela. She turned to see that Nibbler was pointing at a photo of Fry pinned to the message board that was located in the room. The photo showed Fry with the head cast of Star Trek, a picture they had taken just after returning from Omega 3. Leela sighed, taking the picture from the board and looking at it.

"I know, Nibbler. I miss Fry too," she said. "I wish I knew where he was, and if he's okay?"


He slowly opened his eyes, his vision starting to clear. The sound of chirping and the rustling of wind passing through tree leaves was all that could be heard. The surface he was lying on wasn't very flat, and was kind of damp. It was soft though, and green. When his vision had cleared, he could see that he was lying on some kind of thick green moss. The surrounding environment seemed to consist of many tree trunks, bushes and branches. The air was warm and humid, and as he turned over onto his back, he sensed a pain in both it and his neck. Sitting up, the orange haired delivery boy looked around.

'Where am I?' he thought to himself, rubbing the back of his neck.

It was a jungle of some sort, and Fry was sitting upon a massive branch, which joined to an even bigger tree trunk quite a few feet away. He peered over the edge to see that it was a fair way to the bottom. Above him the top of the trees almost covered the sky, with a few beams of light passing through the gaps there were, dimming the amount of light in the jungle. He also noticed an arm draped over one of the large branches above him.

Standing up, wincing slightly from the pain, Fry made his way over to the large trunk of the tree and began to climb up as best he could. When he made it up to the next branch, he climbed onto it and carefully walked over to where the motionless figure of Alesia lay. Her eyes were closed and she lay on her back, her clothing a little torn in places, just like his. Luckily she was still breathing. Fry gently shook her, hoping she was alright.

"Wake up," he coaxed. "Are you okay?"

She seemed to startle and opened her eyes slowly. Her azure irises looked into his and she acknowledged him with a slight smile.

"I'm fine," she said. She sounded exhausted. Fry just sighed in relief and leant against the tree trunk, closing his eyes and resting for a moment.

"Good," he sighed happily, also sounding worn out.

'I wonder where we are,' he thought, 'and who I am?'



Yes, the delivery boy had little recollection of his past. The earliest thing he could remember is being woken up by a slap to the face. He found himself chained to a cold metal wall in a dark cell, with two humanoid guards in front of him. One was male, one was female, and both held guns. They both wore the outfits of pirates, the female having an eye patch, black tank top and rough baggy trousers and the male wearing a red bandana, no shirt and similar baggy trousers. This was when he could first recall seeing the pretty, longhaired girl he was now with. She was also chained to the wall and was unconscious. He didn't know who she was, or who he was, but he did feel that there was something missing in his life. A whole blank area that needed filling. And he figured that he must have known her.

She was also woken and they were taken to another pirate. This one had hooks for both his hands and was tall and strong looking. They were thrown to their knees in front of him, their hands tied together behind their backs.

"Who are you?!" he bellowed.

The amnesia stricken delivery boy looked at the woman beside him, and she looked back. He could tell from that look that she had no idea what to say.

"I....I don't know..." he answered simply. "WE don't know."

"What?!" yelled the tall pirate, slamming his hook into the arm of the throne he sat upon. "How can you NOT KNOW?!! ANSWER ME!!!"

"We just don't know!" Fry stated.

"Don't talk crap!!" yelled their captor. "What are you doing here?!!"

"We don't know!" yelled Fry desperately.

"Answer the question!" said the female guard from behind him, kicking him in the back of the head.

"We don't know!" growled Fry, turned back to her and wincing a bit.

"My patience is wearing thin, boy!!" yelled the large pirate. "We are the followers of the fearsome Captain Peck. Scourge of the Avanzino galaxy! You don't want me to have to send for the Captain. She is less lenient that I am! Now, WHO are you?! WHY are you here?! WHERE are you GOING?!!"

There was a moment of silence. The red-haired prisoner spoke, slowly and clearly.

"We.... Don't.... Know!"

The large pirate growled loudly, then pointed at the female guard with his left hook.

"GO GET THE CAPTAIN!!!!"

The guard nodded and ran through an exit nearby. She walked down a long corridor then stopped at an old wooden door, knocking on it.

"Enter!" said a commanding female voice, muffled from behind the wooden barrier. The guard did.

The room was almost completely dark, save for a very dull glow emanating from the passage where the guard had come from. The guard was about to reach for the light switch when the voice spoke.

"Leave the lights off!"

The guard retracted her arm. A shadowed figure appeared poised in the middle of the room. The shape of the figure wasn't very clear, as only the legs touched the light. The rest was obstructed in complete darkness.

"What is it, Lieutenant Tommassello?!" the figure ordered.

"We are interrogating the prisoners, but they won't talk. Commander Sebastian sent me to get you, Captain."

"Is that so?" said the voice. "Then I think you know what to do then?"

"The machine, Captain?" Tommassello asked.

"Yes," said the figure. "Probe their minds! That way no details are left untold."

"Yes, Captain," the lieutenant replied with a bow.

She left the room, returning it to darkness.

"Nobody gets past Captain Peck," the voice said vindictively in the darkness. "Nobody!"

Tommassello returned to the room where their prisoners were.

"Commander Sebastian," she said, "Captain Peck has ordered than the prisoners be hooked up to the machine."

Sebastian smiled from ear to ear, his yellow and black teeth showing.

"Excellent!" he growled. "Take them away! And inform me of the results."

Fry and Alesia were then dragged away by the guards to a strange machine. It was tall and looked like an old metal boiler. Helmets were put on their heads, which were then in turn attached to the machine via thick cables. When it was switched on the sensations were strange. It felt like there was a tingling between the skull and the outside of the head. It didn't seem to affect them much otherwise though. The pirates monitoring it looked disappointed and a little shocked. The comments they made suggested that they weren't getting the results they wanted. After about ten minutes, they were unhooked and dragged back to Commander Sebastian.

"Well?" he asked.

"The results were unsuccessful, sir," stated a stone-faced Tommassello.

"WHAT?!" he bellowed, standing up and causing his claws to rip off the wooden arms of the throne by mistake. "EXPLAIN!!"

"It appears they are telling the truth, Commander," she said. "They have no memory prior to when we captured them. Nothing. Either that or they're blocking it somehow."

Sebastian growled loudly and thrust his right claw into the back of the already damaged throne.

"Should I inform the Captain, sir?" Tommassello asked.

"Yes!" the Commander growled, tearing a large hole in the fabric of the chair as he removed the claw.

Tommassello nodded and went to the Captain's door. She knocked and after hearing the okay from the other side opened it. Once again it was dark.

"What is now, Tommassello?" asked the Captain.

"Captain. It appears the prisoners have no memory."

"What?!"

"Yes, ma'am. They have no prior recollection before we captured them. The machine gave us no extra info."

There was a moment of silence. What sounded like a sword being sheathed came from the hidden figure of the Captain.

"We'll take them back home," she said. "Perhaps we can deal with them there."

"Yes, Captain," said Tommassello with a slight bow. She then closed the door.

"Hmmmmmmmmm...." said the Captain to herself. "What could they be hiding and how could they be hiding it?"

Tommassello returned and spoke to the Commander.

"The Captain has ordered that we return home and deal with them there, Sir."

"Very well," Sebastian snarled. "Take them back to their cell until then."

The two guards returned their prisoners back to the cell they were in earlier, though this time they didn't chain them up. They were roughly thrown inside and the metal barred door was closed and locked behind them. Fry picked himself off the ground slightly and leant back against the wall with a sigh. He then looked at the unknown girl.

"You have no idea who you are either, do you?"

She shook her head, looking at him with scared and confused eyes.

"And you don't know who I am or why we're here either I s'pose?"

Another shake of the head was her reply. Fry sighed again, closing his eyes.

"Oh, this is SO confusing!" he said. "I don't know what's going on!"

There was a long pause as Fry looked at the long-haired girl.

"But....." he started, trailing off a little. "But, I feel as if I definitely know you. There's something about you that seems...... familiar?"

"I know what you mean," she replied. "I feel as if I know you too."

She paused, looking at the ground.

"Perhaps, we're very close friends," she added.

Fry smiled at her.

"Yeah, perhaps we are?" he replied. "There's definitely something about you that's in my head, or something. It's hard to explain."

It was then that his eyes caught some writing on a cardboard box sitting on a shelf in the room outside the cell. The words said "Prisoner's Possessions" in large black lettering. Fry pointed at it.

"Look at that box," he said. "It must have our stuff in it!"

"Perhaps if we get it, it will contain some things that will give us more information about ourselves," Alesia said.

"Yeah," said Fry. But then his face dropped. "But how are we going to get it and get out of here?"

There was a moment of silence. Fry suddenly perked up and looked at Alesia.

"Your hair!" he said.

"Pardon?" she asked.

"Your hair!" he repeated. "Do you have any hair clips in it?"

"I don't know?" she said, running her fingers through it and searching. After only a few seconds her hands stopped searching abruptly. She then removed her hands and held a small hair clip in her left palm out to Fry.

"Here you go," she said.

Fry took it with a smile, then rushed to the door. Putting the clip in the lock, he began to jiggle it around inside.

"I have no idea how to do this," he said. "But let's just hope it works."

After quite a bit more awkward poking around, there was a click. Fry chuckled and pushed the door open gently, it swinging away easily.

"Voila!" he said, his arms inviting Alesia to leave. She hopped up and exited the cell, then Fry followed. Walking quietly over to the box, Alesia peered inside. The box contained a wallet, pocketknife, yoyo, necklace, a small key, and a strange tubular device that had a small screen and some buttons on it. Fry came over and looked inside.

"Wow! I wonder what's yours and what's mine," he said.

Alesia reached in and opened the wallet. She held it out to Fry.

"Look," she said. "This must be yours."

Fry gasped at the contents. There was a lot of junk, but the most interesting things were a plastic card with his picture on it and the name PHILIP J. FRY, and a photograph of a robot, a female cyclops and him.

"Huh?" he said, clearly intrigued. "So my name is Philip J. Fry, huh? I wonder who the robot and the one-eyed girl are in this photo?"

"Maybe they're friends of yours?" Alesia answered, examining the tubular device. She jumped a little as it opened.

"Perhaps," Fry said, concentrating on the figures in the picture. "They really DO seem familiar. Just like you do. I wonder if they're friends of yours too?"

Alesia examined the photo herself, carefully.

"I...... I don't know," she said. "I don't get anything from them though."

It was then she clipped the device onto her arm.

"Oh, this must be some sort of arm computer," she said. "I wonder if it's yours or mine?"

As if to answer her question, some writing appeared on the small screen in the device. It said 'Please identify yourself via fingerprint scan' and a tiny square panel was revealed.

"Try it out," Fry said. Alesia did, placing her index finger on the panel and after a few seconds more writing appeared, and the panel was covered up again. The writing said 'Identification Verified. Welcome Alesia.'

"Guess it is mine," she said, smiling a little at Fry.

"This is probably yours too then," Fry said, picking up the necklace. Alesia took it in her hand and examined it. It was silver and there was a tiny crescent moon pendant attached to it. As she looked at it, a tear ran down her face. She wiped it away with a finger.

"What's the matter?" Fry asked, putting his arm on her shoulder.

"I don't know," she said, clearly distraught. "I just feel a great sadness from this pendant."

"Don't worry," said Fry, holding her shoulders. "I'm sure it's nothing too bad. Are you going to wear it?"

"Yes," she said. "I feel that I should, for some reason."

As she was about to, Fry stopped her.

"Here, let me," he said, taking it from her. She smiled and turned around. Fry moved her long hair aside and clipped it together behind her neck. She turned back to him.

"Thank you," she smiled.

"No problem," he said. "But I still feel weirded out."

"I know what you mean," she replied, adjusting the jewellery. "It's so confusing. And we still have to escape."

As Fry picked up the rest of the objects and put them in his pocket, not knowing if they were all his but holding on to them until they found out, the room began to get brighter. Fry turned towards a small round window behind him, seeing that it was the source of the increased illumination. He then slowly walked over to it and looked outside.

"We're descending down on a planet!" he said. "If we can find a way out of the ship, we can escape."

"We'd better hurry then," Alesia said, "or we'll reach wherever they're taking us to before we can!"

Fry nodded and then spotted something on the wall. He chuckled to himself as he took the several sets of pirate clothes hanging up on wall hooks.

"I think I have an idea," he said.

It was only a couple of minutes later that a large pirate walking through a corridor saw them.

"Hey! You two! Halt!"

He drew his sword and pointed it at them. They were both holding piles of pirate clothes, stacked up high enough to obscure their faces.

"Where are you two going?!" he said.

"We're taking these clothes to the laundry room," a muffled Fry stated from behind the pile of clothes.

"Really?!" said the pirate. "Then why are you going the wrong way then?!"

"We are?" said Fry. "I.... I guess these clothes have been restricting our view a bit then."

"Yes, they obviously have been!" growled the pirate. "The laundry room is behind you, then turn left, then right, then right again, then left, then straight ahead. It's the right beside the bike docking port."

"The bike docking port?" asked Fry.

"Yes," said the pirate. "The docking port where the rocket bikes enter and exit the ship. The only place that's always opened up for entry and exit."

"I see," said Fry. "So if two prisoners posing as laundry people were to try and escape, it would be the best place to go to then?"

Alesia would have kicked Fry if she wasn't afraid of dropping the clothes.

"Oh, definitely!" said the pirate. "That's where I'd go. Of course, they'd have to steal a bike and escape from the ship without being detected, which would be highly unlikely."

"But still possible?" questioned Fry positively.

"Oh, yes," said the pirate. "Still possible."

"Well, we'd best be off then," said Fry. "So it's left, right, left, right, straight ahead?"

"No! Left, right, right, left, straight ahead!"

"Okay, thanks."

Fry and Alesia then back down the corridor, not turning around. The pirate scratched his head.

"Strange people!" he said to himself.

Fry and Alesia had then turned the corner and walked as quickly as they could towards the laundry room. They entered and dropped the clothes, only to come face to face with another muscular pirate. He was ironing some laundry, complaining about creases, and looked up at the newcomers.

"Who are you?!" he asked, slamming the iron down upon his ironing board.

"Uhhh..... laundry people," said Fry with a nervous smile.

"No you're not!" said the pirate. "You're intruders!"

As he advanced on them, Alesia began to hide behind Fry as they backed up. Fry suddenly took something from his pocket.

"Take this!" he yelled. With that, the yoyo he had picked up earlier spun out from his hand and hit the pirate on the nose. The pirate stumbled back into the ironing board, knocking it over. As he continued to fall, the hot iron did too, and it happened to hit the ground just before him, just under him, and facing upwards. This caused the pirates rear end to land on the hot metal, and he flew into the air and hit his head on a shelf of clothes above, knocking himself unconscious and causing piles of clothing to bury him.

"Wow!" said Alesia. "Nice job."

"Thanks," said Fry. "Although I did actually plan to throw the KNIFE at him."

Fry and Alesia then left the room carefully and peered into the entrance next door.

Sure enough, the room had several wheelless bikes around and had a large opening that, according to the way the cloud was travelling, indicated that it was on the starboard side of the ship. A light blue shimmer indicated at atmospheric pressure energy force field, used to let material pass in and out, while keeping the pressure and air still inside. Three pirates stood around the place. Two appeared to be in a slanging match of simply saying "Aaaaaaarrrrrrr!!!" at each other. The third one was examining a bike and appeared to be more alien that the rather humanoid pirates they had come across so far. He had blue skin and three eyes, with a rather reptilian face.

"What are we going to do now?" Alesia whispered to Fry.

"I don't know!" Fry whispered back.

No sooner had Fry finished his sentence when the place turned red and the corridor echoed with a blaring siren sound. The voice of Commander Sebastian blared throughout the ship.

"Attention, all personnel! Two prisoners have escaped their cell. All crew begin searching for a young, orange-haired humanoid male and a young, long-haired humanoid female!"

Fry gulped.

"I wouldn't want to be me right now, whoever it is I am. But I can't help being who I am. Whoever that may be. Becau--"

Fry was silenced by Alesia pulling him back against the wall. The three pirates that were in the room suddenly marched out and went down the corridor in the opposite direction to which Fry and Alesia had come. The two smiled at each other, then quickly ducked into the now unguarded room.

"Hey!" said the blue-skinned, three eyed pirate to the other two. "Shouldn't one of us have stayed behind to actually guard that room?"

The other two suddenly stopped and looked at each other.

"It IS the only real escape from here, isn't it?" one of them noted.

"Yes," said the other. "But if they tried to escape, they would have to escape without being detected, which would be highly unlikely."

"But still possible?" said the three-eyed one.

"Oh, yes," said the first one. "Still possible."

There was a small silence, then the three of them raced back to the docking port. When they entered, they stopped to see the two escapees on one of the bikes. Fry was controlling it, and Alesia sat behind him with her arms around his waist. The dark-blue, sleek looking rocket bike activated, glowing a cobalt colour underneath and turning on display monitors on the dashboard. With an increasing hum, it levitated in the air slightly, and Fry waved to the pirates.

"So long, suckers!"

With those words, the bike took off, flying around the room a few times before leaving the ship through the docking port opening. As the bike sped through the thin clouds, avoiding the lasers being shot at them from the pirate ship's many guns, the three pirates each also grabbed bikes each and took off out of the docking facility. Fry and Alesia had managed to hide themselves amongst the clouds, but had now descended below them and could see the surface below. Most of it was a blanket of green treetops, with the odd meandering blue streaks of a river or stream. In the distance, some mountains could be seen, and an ocean could be seen in another direction.

"I think we lost them!!" Fry yelled back at Alesia, the strong wind still drowning a lot of his voice as it ruffled both of their hair. It was then that Fry looked into the clouds to see the three other bikes in pursuit.

"Then again, maybe not!! Hang On!!"

Swerving to avoid some laser fire, Fry then brought the bike into a steep dive, turning to the left and upside down before up righting at a new altitude. It didn't really help much, as the two pirates dove down in response and took a few shots at them. The sound of whizzing energy bolts echoed around them, as red laser shots flicked by. Fry attempted to swerve a few more, but ended up getting the bike blasted directly in the engine. The controls died, and the smoking craft took a deep dive into the thick, dark vegetation below.



So that was how they got here. And they still didn't even know where they were or who they were. She was Alesia, and he was Philip J. Fry. That's all they really knew.

"So what do we do now?" Alesia asked.

Fry just sighed deeply. "I don't know. If we knew where we were and who we were, I might have some idea."

There was an awkward moment of silence. Alesia pulled back her sleeve.

"Perhaps this thing can help?"

She pushed various buttons and played around with it.

"Anything?" asked Fry wearily, still leaning against the tree trunk, his eyes half closed.

"Not really. There's something in here about a Personal Transport Vehicle, and various security things, but...... wait! What's this flashing in the corner?"

She selected the flashing red light bulb in the top corner of the display. This caused a panel on the top of the device to slide across and a green beam of light shot out. Fry was suddenly interested, as was Alesia, as what they both saw was a hologram of her. They both watched intently as the hologram began to speak.

"Hello," it said in an impassive tone. "I suppose you are wondering why you are looking at a hologram of yourself. Well, if you've stumbled across this message, it means that you most likely have no recollection of what is going on. All will be revealed to you, all that is required is that you reach your Personal Transport Vehicle."

The hologram of her was then replaced by that of a rotating image of the vehicle that the hologram spoke of. The voice still continued to speak.

"If you're lucky, it will be nearby, but if not, then you will have to seek it, or you will never get back your past."

There was a pause and the hologram switched back to her, who looked quite sad.

"Although, that may not be such a bad thing. There is a lot of pain in your past and you may not want to get it back. It's up to you. In either case, your computer will have a radar to detect the location of your vehicle, assuming it's within range. It also has various security features for the PTV, so getting possession of it again should not be a problem. Like I said, though, I can't strongly recommend you do this. There is so much sorrow, so much loneliness. The decision is up to you. Goodbye."

And with that the hologram disappeared. Alesia looked at Fry, a tear running down her cheek.

"I.... I'm scared," she said. Fry hugged her, stroking her hair as she put her head on his shoulder.

"What is the pain in my past?" she sniffled.

"I don't know," said Fry simply. "I wish I could help you."

"I don't know what to do?" she sobbed. "Do I try and discover my past, only to be hurt, or do I do nothing, and live my life clouded and in doubt?"

"It's up to you," Fry said. "I can't make your decisions for you. This is something you have to work out for yourself."

The embrace ended there, and Alesia just knelt there, wiping away her tears.

"We've got nothing else to go by," she said. "So we might as well try to find this PTV. Perhaps by the time we have, I'll have made a decision?"

She activated the arm computer again and looked around for the radar. After a while, she found it, but there was nothing on the screen.

"Perhaps it's out of range," she said.

"Can you increase it?" Fry asked.

She pressed some buttons, and after finding out which one zoomed out and gave a wider range of distance, she found a blip on it.

"Here it is. It's slowly moving away though."

"Judging by the scale of that thing, it's miles and miles away!" Fry exclaimed, looking at the display. "We'd never catch it on foot."

"It would have to stop sometime."

"Yeah, probably. Well, we might as well get going now then. The sooner we make way for it, the sooner we'll find it."

Alesia nodded, and the two began to carefully climb down the tree, making it to the ground, and the disappearing into the thick jungle bushes below.


"So we're in agreement," Dr. Wernstrom said, standing before the others. "We all send in a fleet of battle craft to destroy the monster."

"Yes! Hurry up!" growled Lrrr, his chin in his hand as he lent his elbow on the desk with boredom. "We've been here for hours!"

"WEEEEERRRNNNNNSTROOOMM!!!!!"

The loud voice came from the doorway, and there in it stood Professor Farnsworth, Hermes Conrad and Cubert. The Professor looked angry and held a strange looking device with a long antennae sticking out of it.

"Professor Hubert Farnsworth?!" said Glab, rising in surprise. "What are you doing here?!"

"Quiet you!" yelled Farnsworth. "I'm here to deal with Wernstrom, not you!"

"Well then," said Wernstrom condescendingly. "How are things going, Grandpa?"

"Shut up, Wernstrom! I didn't come here to argue with you!!"

"But you just said--"

"Don't listen to Wernstrom!" the Professor yelled. "He's up to something!"

"How did you even know Doctor Wernstrom was here?" asked Al Gore's Head.

"With this Wernstrometer," the Professor answered "It can detect any negative Wernstrom activities. By which I mean ALL Wernstrom activities!"

As he glared at Wernstrom, the younger scientist snorted with contempt.

"You still using that pathetic device? The last time I recall you using it, you blamed me for causing the Teddy Bears Picnic in Central Park."

"Well somebody did!" Farnsworth argued.

"Wait, what's so bad about a Teddy Bears Picnic?" asked the Decapodian Ambassador, Zork.

"Oh, don't let those cuddly bears fool you!" the Professor exclaimed. "They're pure evil!"

"Okay, I think we've heard just about enough from you!" declared Wernstrom. "Guards!!"

"You always were an old fool of a bastard, Hubie!" Mom added as two large DOOP ensigns approached Farnsworth.

"Wait! Nooooo!" the Professor yelled as they grabbed his arms. "You haven't won yet, Wernstrom!! WEEEERRRRNNNNSTRRRROOOOMMM!!!!!"

He was then dragged out of the room, kicking and rambling angrily like a very, very old man. Cubert and Hermes just looked at each other.

"We'll just go now," Hermes announced before backing up.

"Incidentally, I am in NO way related to the old man who was just ejected from here," Cubert noted before also leaving.

"Anyway, we're in agreement to assemble a large fleet and rendezvous at the location of the monster in twenty-four hours time," said Glab simply. "Does anybody have any final statements?"

"Well, I don't really agree with the solution one-hundred percent," added Al Gore's Head. "I prefer to preserve rather than destroy. But I think we're running out of options. Despite my earlier objections that this thing may just be a living thing, not intending to destroy but just trying to feed, I think that we must go ahead with the strike force."

"I'm afraid I'd have to agree," nodded 'Bubblegum' Tate.

"The decision is already made!" said Inez Wong. "Let's stop talking and just destroy the thing!"

"Very well," said Glab. "The decision is final. Tomorrow, all members of this alliance will got to war with the threat addressed."

She signalled the end of discussion with a loud bang on the desk from her gavel.


Fry stopped wading through the thick undergrowth for a second and looked back.

"Are you okay?" he called back.

"I'm fine, Philip!" Alesia called back, clearly quite far back. "This dress keeps getting caught up in the vegetation!"

"Philip?!" Fry said with surprise.

"Yes," said Alesia, finally catching up. "It is your name isn't it?"

"Well, I guess," he shrugged. "But.... It just doesn't sound...... right."

"Oh," Alesia said. "What about Phil?"

"Hmmmmm.... no. Not really."

"Okay. Philly perhaps?"

"No," Fry said, laughing a little at how lame it sounded.

"Philbert then?"

"No, they all sound wrong. Maybe the wallet will reveal more?"

Fry flipped through some things in the wallet. There wasn't much to give him a clue, except a single piece of torn paper.

"Ah, here we go. A note that has 'Fry, I owe you ten dollars, signed Zoidberg' written on it. I don't know who this 'Zoidberg' is, but he owes me money and called me by my last name."

"Fry," Alesia said.

"Yeah," he nodded. "It already sounds more natural. Anyway, what are you going to do about your dress?"

"I don't know," she said, holding her dress up slightly. "Wait! What's this?"

Examining the dress, she found it was joint strangely just above her knees. Pulling on it in the right manner made it unclip a bit. She continued to detach the bottom half off the dress, until it came off completely, leaving her with a much shorter dress that was just above her knees in height.

"There we go," she said, knotting the piece she had removed around her waist. "Much better."

"Can't say I disagree," winked Fry. Alesia blushed a little. Fry then squinted as some orange light hit his face, coming from behind Alesia. The sun had just moved slightly and was poking through a large gap in the leaf tops.

"It's starting to get darker," he said. "Perhaps we should look for some shelter and a place to rest and keep warm?"

"Good idea," Alesia nodded. "Who knows WHAT is living on this planet?"

The two continued to walk through the jungle, Alesia now managing to easily keep up with Fry.

"Is there any reason you're leading us this way?" she asked him after a while.

"Not really. I just thought we should choose a direction and stick by it until we came across something. Like a river or something. Besides, this was the general direction of the PTV, wasn't it?"

"Yeah, it was," she nodded. "Maybe one of us should climb one of these massive trees and see if we can spot anything?"

"Good idea," Fry said, stopping. "Okay, go ahead. I'll wait down here."

Alesia was caught a little off guard by his response.

"Oh.," she said. "Oka-"

Fry laughed out loud.

"I was just kidding!" he said. "I'll do it. You wait down here."

Alesia chuckled too. Fry began to awkwardly ascend a nearby tree trunk, clambering up the lower branches. After about ten of minutes or so, he managed to get up to a decent enough height. He poked his head up through the thick foliage at the peak of the tree and looked around. The sky had almost turned completely orange on one side, as he could see the sun just about to go behind the mountains on the horizon. Two moons could be seen, one quite far away like Earth's moon, the other was quite close, looking large and its movement was quite noticeable. Because a lot of the trees were of similar height to the one he was on, it was hard to make out any distinguishable landscape features. However, there did appear to be some tall rocky cliffs about two miles away, in which there might be an empty cave. There also appeared to be a small waterfall running down the side of the rock face. Fry could also just make out the ocean in the far distance that he had seen earlier from the sky. He smiled and began to descend the natural ladder. Getting down was quicker, so it wasn't long until he had reached the bottom. Alesia was still there waiting.

"What did you see?" she asked.

"There are some cliffs a couple of miles or so from here, so maybe they have a cave for shelter. It also has a waterfall running down it, so we're good for water. I could see the ocean in the distance, so perhaps we should head over there?"

"Sounds good," she nodded. "Oh, and if the river from the waterfall leads to the ocean, we can simply follow it."

"Yeah, that's true. Looks like we may have water and shelter sorted out, so now all we need is food. We'd better go now before it gets too dark. The sun was close to disappearing behind the mountains."

She nodded and followed him. She felt slightly better about her situation now. Still. That critical decision she had to make still nagged in the back of her mind. It would be a decision that would change her life forever, and she was no closer to choosing which path to take.


"Enter!"

Kif Kroker opened the door and stepped into the large room in which Captain Ditte sat, looking at a computer screen situated on his desk. He approached the Captain, his face looking a little concerned about something.

"Yes, what is it First Officer?" Ditte asked.

"First Officer?" Kif questioned.

"Yes. You and Lieutenant Commander Raker may both be of the same rank, but this IS the Nimbus, and this IS your ship. So you are number two on this ship. All others are number three or less. Except for me of course."

"Okay, sir," he said.

"Now. What is it you want to speak with me about, Lieutenant Commander?"

"Oh, yes, of course," Kif said. "Uh.... sir. Um.... where exactly are we going?"

"Well, we're searching for these so-called jewels that can save the universe," the Captain answered. "Not that I believe in these things, but orders are orders. Raker has suggested that we go to where he got his one."

"The pawn shop in the Gero Quadrant?" Kif questioned.

"Exactly," Ditte nodded. "Even though I am in charge of this ship, Raker is serving as somewhat of an advisor. I just hope he leads us to the right places and we're not going on a wild goose chase."

"When are we scheduled for arrival?" Kif asked.

"Shouldn't be much more than five or six hours away now."

"Okay. Are outgoing messages allowed, sir?"

"No restrictions have been given by DOOP, so I assume so," the Captain shrugged. "As long as you don't leak any information regarding what's going on."

"Good. That's all. Thank you, sir."

He saluted his superior, and Ditte saluted back. He then left the room and made his way to his new quarters. They were now slightly larger than his previous pad in the original Nimbus. Still, this made it feel somewhat empty. Or maybe it was because he no longer had the images of Amy pinned around his walls and ceiling. He sighed.

"Maybe I should give Amy a call to pass the time. I haven't spoken to her for a long time."

Kif sat at the new desk he had and activated the videophone built in to his computer there. Kif rang the Planet Express number, but after more than twenty rings, there was still no answer.

"Maybe she's at her parent's place?" Kif wondered.

He tried there too. Also no answer. He sighed again.

"She could be on the ship I suppose?"

Kif tried it.



Aboard the Planet Express ship, a half-asleep Amy at the controls suddenly perked up as the videophone lowered from the ceiling beside her. But before she answered the call, she nervously looked across at Baron Steinmann, who sat watching her with a laser pistol in his hand.

"Go ahead and answer it," he said with a nod. "But don't say anything. If you have to, make some things up."

"Okay," she said nervously. She then answered the phone. Kif's face appeared on the display.

"Oh, hello, Amy!" he beamed.

"Kif?!!" she exclaimed, surprised at who it was.

"I'm relieved I got hold of you!" Kif said, grinning happily. "I tried your work and your parents place, with no answer from either. I was worried about you."

"There's no need to worry, Kif," she consoled, still a little nervous. "I'm fine. How are you?"

"Oh, Amy!" he said, burying his forehead in one of his hands. "Things haven't been going so good. In fact, they've been going terribly! I can't say too much, but the DOOP has got quite a situation on its hands at the moment!"

Amy gasped and looked worried. At least she didn't have to fake looking happy any more.

"Oh my God! What happened?!" she queried.

"Oh, where to start?" Kif said, looking down and shaking his head. "Well, the planet I was stationed on with Zapp was....... attacked by something. It ended up destroying the Nimbus and killing Zapp."

Amy gasped.

"That's horrible! Well..... I mean, I know Captain Brannigan annoyed you, but..... you still wouldn't wish THAT on him!"

"That's true," Kif said. "I just wanted to get AWAY from Zapp, not see him killed."

"So, where are you now then?"

"Oh, I have a new ship and a new captain now. The ship is actually called the Nimbus as well. We're currently on a mission related to the attack now. But don't worry! We're actually keeping well away from the threat. Other officers of the DOOP are attempting to take care of the problem directly."

"That's a relief," sighed Amy.

"So, what are you doing?" Kif asked. "You don't usually fly the ship, do you?"

"Oh, we've been travelling a while so I'm giving Leela a rest," she answered. "It's a big and long delivery."

"What are you delivering and where to?"

"Uhhhh..... we're going to Verrone Five to deliver, uhhh....."

She looked back at the Baron. He simply motioned his hand in a circular motion, indicating that she should hurry up. She noticed the trident leaning against the wall near him.

"Forks!" she blurted out, spinning her head back around to face the screen. "We're delivering forks to Verrone Five."

"Oh. Okay," Kif said. "I guess forks are important, even to the brutal residents of Verrone Five. Just be careful!"

"Don't worry, I will."

Amy turned her head as she heard a noise coming from the Baron's direction. He was making noises in his throat and then signalled to cut off the transmission by using the cut-throat action.

"Oh, I've got to go, Kif," Amy said. "The ship is just approaching the planet now. Wish I could talk longer."

"Oh. Okay," Kif sighed. "Goodbye then. I love you."

"Bye. Love you too," Amy smiled. The picture then disappeared at Kif's end as Amy switched off the videophone at hers. Kif sighed again.

"Now what will I do to pass the time?" he pondered to himself. "Maybe I should just get some sleep?"

So the Nimbus continued the travel on towards its destination, unaware that it wasn't the only ship searching for the rare items that were sought after.


Two hours later

Fry and Alesia had been wandering for a while now, pushing their way through the think jungle vegetation. It was actually fairly dark now, and the trees weren't as thick or tall. This was the very reason why Fry suddenly crouched and pulled Alesia down.

"DUCK!" he yelled.

The two lay, silent and concealed within some thick, grass-like plant. It had been fairly silent until this point, with the only noises being the ambience of the jungle and their own rustling as they travelled. But now the familiar sound of a flying vehicle could be heard. As they hid there the sound got closer, and closer, then a beam of light shot across the sky, it finally touching an area of the jungle only a few dozen feet away from them. They continued to stay completely still, and it wasn't long until the beam moved away and the sound of airborne engines began to diminish. They finally decided to stand up again, after being sure that the flying threat had gone on it's way.

"Searchlights!" Fry said. "They must be looking for us."

"Why do they even care about finding us?" Alesia asked him. "What have we got that they want?"

"Whatever it is, we lost it when we lost out minds," Fry noted. Then, he suddenly perked up.

"What is it?" Alesia asked quietly.

Fry shushed her. "Listen."

She did. After a few seconds, she smiled at him.

"Trickling water!" she said.

"Yeah," Fry smiled. "We must be close."

He began to run through the bushes towards the sound.

"This way!" he called back to her. She followed, and after about a minute they burst through some thick bushes and came across a clearing. Both of their jaws dropped at the sight. There before their eyes was a grassy area with only a few trees dotted around. The cliffs were to their right, reaching up quite high, and running down the side of it was the waterfall that Fry had spotted earlier. It ran into a beautiful deep pool, which then eventually flowed out into a large stream that disappeared into the jungle to the left of them. Only the fact that it was now quite dark made it less than spectacular.

"It's beautiful!" Alesia noted.

"And it's almost too perfect," Fry said. "Look!"

He pointed up at the cliffs near the waterfall. Only about five or six metres up was a small cave. It appeared easily accessible, and was dug into the rock enough to keep them sheltered, while being shallow enough to see that there was nothing living in it already.

"I'll grab some firewood and we can make ourselves a fire to keep warm," Fry said, indicating the forest nearby.

"Wait!" Alesia said, grabbing his arm to stop him. "What about the pirates searching for us?!"

"Yeah, good point," Fry agreed. "Damn!"

"Well, what will we do then?"

Fry thought for a moment.

"I'd suggest reattaching that piece of dress and finding a flat spot in the cave to sleep on. I'll see if I can find you something soft you can lie on."

As Alesia began to clip her dress addition back on, Fry looked around. The darkness made it difficult to see, and if it weren't for the light reflected by the moons it would be near pitch black now. Fry did manage to spot a nearby bush that appeared to have a lot of vegetation though.

"Bingo!" he said, and he began to reach in and tear off the branches, one by one. When he felt he had enough, he picked then all up and returned to the cave, where Alesia sat waiting.

"It's starting to get colder," she stated.

"Yeah," Fry agreed, dropping the piles of heavily foliated branches on the ground. "I found these, they look pretty soft. I hope there's enough of them for you?"

"Thank you," Alesia responded with a warm smile. "You're so kind to me."

"It's the least I can do," Fry said, arranging the branches on the ground. "I mean, you've still got that decision to make and all."

Alesia's face saddened. Fry instantly winced and cursed himself under his breath.

"I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have bro--"

"It's okay," Alesia interjected dolefully. "You didn't remind me of it. It's been constantly nagging me in the back of my head."

She sighed.

"So I take it you haven't reached a decision yet?" Fry asked, finishing arranging the branches. She just shook her head lamentably.

"Well, maybe you should get some sleep then," he suggested, indicating the new makeshift bed he had prepared for her. She managed a weak smile.

"Thank you," she said quietly and slowly, her voice sounding very angelic behind the sadness. Fry smiled.

"We can get going in the morning," Fry said as she crawled onto it. "Whenever that is on this planet?!"

She made a sound of agreement as she curled up and attempted to sleep. Fry smiled, then crawled over to another area of the cave, using the rest of the branches to make a leafy bed for himself. Leaning against the rock wall and curling up, he closed his eyes too. After a few minutes he heard a strange sound. Opening his eyes, he saw Alesia shivering slightly. Without much thought, he removed his red jacket and placed it over her. Smiling again as she began stop shaking, he then returned to his spot and attempted to sleep once again.


2 hours later

Kif was awoken by a bleeping sound.

"Lieutenant Commander Kroker, please report to the bridge immediately," a familiar voice said. It was Captain Ditte.

Kif, wearing his pyjamas and sleeping hat, leant out of his bed and pressed a button on the control panel on the wall nearby. "Aye, Captain," he said. "I'll be there in two minutes."

Sure enough, about two minutes later the main doors to the bridge slid apart and in walked Kif. Captain Ditte and Lieutenant Commander Raker both turned their focus from the large screen ahead towards him. They both sat in the large set of chairs located in the centre of the bridge, one chair being free and on the screen at the front of the bridge was the brown surface of a planet. Other DOOP officers were situated at control panels around the bridge, Kif only recognising one of them; Lieutenant Fitzgerald, who stood at the controls located above and behind the captain.

"Take a seat, Kif," said Ditte with a smile. Kif nodded and sat in the spare seat beside the captain.

"Where are we, sir?" Kif asked.

"This is Cthulhu 4, where I got the gem from," Raker stated simply. "Hopefully the dealer, Shoggoth, can shed some light on where the others ones are."

"We're just about to send a party down," said Captain Ditte. "You, Raker, Lieutenant Fitzgerald, Ensign McGinley and Ensign Trotter will take a shuttle to the surface."

The appropriate officers all stood up and began to make their way out of the bridge.

"How many guns can we take?" Fitzgerald queried to the captain.

"Standard laser pistols," Ditte answered.

"Aw, can't I take one of the BIG ones?" Fitzgerald pleaded.

Ditte thought about it.

"Okay then, just in case."

"Yes!!" Fitzgerald said, shaking his fist with glee before leaving where the others had gone.

Within minutes a small shuttle shot out of the bottom of the Nimbus and sped down towards the surface below, piloted by Ensign McGinley. After entering the atmosphere, it shot across the sky above the surface, Raker pointing out where the shuttle had to go. The sky was a smoky crimson, and gigantic, partially arc shaped pieces of rock curved up miles into the sky at random locations. The shuttle finally landed just outside a dreary looking village, puffing up billows of dun dust. The hatch on the port side of the shuttle opened and the five uniformed men stepped out onto the surface. Fitzgerald held a large laser gun, while the others just had the standard ones. Raker pointed to the village.

"That's where Shoggoth lives. He somehow manages to get a wide array of rare collectables from around the universe. If he can tell us where he got the gem, we may be able to link it back to an original source."

"Or end up on a wild goose chase," said Fitzgerald.

"Perhaps," nodded Raker. "But we won't know until we find out. Follow me. I'm pretty sure Shoggoth will still be in the same place as usual."

"Okay, set guns to kill," said Fitzgerald.

"No! Stun will do!" ordered Raker. "Follow me"

They did. Fitzgerald mumbled something about guns into his chest. After wandering through the dusty main street, passing by many strange looking creatures, Raker stopped before an old wooden stall. Sitting on the bench and in a glass-covered case built into it were many strange and different items. Behind it was a strange blue blob creature that somewhat resembled a giant brain slug. It spoke to another strange creature, a bat-like creature with long legs that was about the height of a human. It was holding a strange book in it's wing claws.

"Thank you for the trade, Byakhee," the blob creature said. "Come back again soon."

Raker approached the creature with a smirk on his face, while the others just watched. Lieutenant Fitzgerald trained his gun on the creature. It looked nervous.

"Hello, Shoggoth," said Raker. "How's business?"

"Good," the blue blob replied, his eyes wandering towards Fitzgerald's gun. "It good to see you again, Lieutenant."

"Lieutenant Commander now, actually," Raker corrected, tapping the gold pins on his collar. "Now, let's get to the point of why we're here: do you have any other gems like the one you sold me, about the same size, but different colours?"

"No," said Shoggoth, shaking what is probably his head and making a squelchy rippling sound. "That was the only one I've seen. I do have other, smaller precious stones though."

"Okay then, next question," Raker said. "Where did you get the stone you gave me?"

"I'll tell you," said Shoggoth. "For a price."

"How's this for a deal: You tell us where you got it, and Lieutenant Fitzgerald won't shoot you?" Raker suggested.

"Uh, sir..." Kif butted in. "Do we have to take such an.... offensive stance?"

"I know what I'm doing, Kif," Raker said. he then turned back to the shady blob. "So, how about it?"

Shoggoth let out a blubbery sigh.

"Fine then! I got it from a bounty hunter known simply as Outlaw."

"Where could we find this outlaw, Outlaw?" Raker queried.

"I have no idea, he travels everywhere. That's where I get most of my things from."

"Does he meet you here at any regular times?"

"No. Completely random every visit. He could come tomorrow, he could come in five months time. Who knows? The only place I could think of would be Scoria."

"Scoria?" Raker questioned.

"Yes, it's an almost unknown city found on the planet of Suborner 9, located at the edge of this galaxy. It's basically where all the scum of this and surrounding galaxies go, so if he were there it wouldn't surprise me. That's all I can tell you."

"Very good," Raker said, turning to leave. "Catch you later, Shoggoth."

With their new information, the DOOP soldiers headed back to the shuttle. Their next destination, the Nimbus. And after that, Scoria.


"Stop! Must..... have...... rest....."

Those were the final words Zapp Brannigan uttered before collapsing on his face. Baldur stopped.

"Weakling! Get moving!"

"Can't......" Zapp uttered. "We've been walking ever since we fell down that hole and all it's been is one huge metal hallway. My feet are killing me, and I need some sleep!"

"Fine!!" Baldur growled, plonking himself down on the hard ground. "I give up! Have your stupid rest!!"

There was a moment of silence before Zapp spoke.

"So, you seem pretty strong and powerful. Why haven't you and your race taken over the whole universe?"

"For somebody trying to sleep you make a lot of noise!!" Baldur accused.

"I'm just trying to get bored to sleep. So, why haven't you?"

Baldur paused, but thought he might as well answer the question.

"We tried to once. We were the most powerful beings in the universe! We were conquering planet after planet! Nothing could stop us! But then our people got to one planet and caught a virus there. The entire population was almost wiped out!"

"Then why'd you survive?" Zapp asked. "Were you somewhere else?"

"No. I wasn't born yet. You see, any females who were pregnant at the time got infected, but their children would become immune to it. They would usually die giving birth, but the offspring would survive. There ended up being only a small handful of us left because of it, so we were brought up by the natives and never warred against everybody again. I ended up marrying one of them eventually."

"Ah," Zapp said, cocking an eyebrow. "So you have a woman. How is she? Sextacular, I'll bet?"

"I HAD a woman," Baldur corrected, not seeming to care about Zapp's sexist comment. "She and my child were most likely killed by this stupid beast!"

He banged the walls of the creature, making a dull echo sound through the hallway. Without even reacting much, he simply put his fist to his mouth.

"Ow," he said with little emotion.

Zapp yawned. "That's interesting. I think I'll just get some sleep now."

Zapp turned over and drifted off. Baldur snorted at him.

"Weak fool!" he uttered. Then, he just sat there with his arms crossed. Waiting and thinking.


9 hours later

Fry opened his eyes. The rays of morning sunlight were shining on his face, and he felt comfortable and warm just lying there. The only sound that could be heard were birds twittering and the trickling of water. Fry then looked down and realised why he was so comfy. Despite having gone to sleep quite cold without a jacket, that jacket was now draped over him. And it wasn't the only thing. Sleeping quietly, snuggled against him with one arm around him and the jacket over her too, lay Alesia. Fry didn't know what to think, but he decided that he might as well wake her. He gently rocked her and said her name.

"Alesia....... Alesia...... Wake up."

She slowly stirred, opening her large eyes slowly and brushing a strand of her long hair out of her face. She looked up at Fry and smiled.

"Good morning," she said wearily.

"Uh..... yeah," Fry said, his face a little red. "Morning."

"Sleep well?" she asked.

"Yeah, I slept fine," he answered. "Maybe because at some point last night you came over here and....... well....."

"Oh, I'm sorry if it made you uncomfortable!" she said, putting her hand across her mouth and sitting up, blushing a bit now too. "But I woke up after a while and saw you over here in the corner shivering. I saw that you had put your jacket on me, so I was about to put it over you when I realised that if I....... y'know...."

"Snuggled against me?" Fry asked.

"Yeah," she said, blushing even more. "That we could keep each other warm with our combined body heat."

"Well.... I guess that makes sense," Fry shrugged, sitting up a little. She suddenly looked a little shocked.

"What's this?!" she asked, touching a large bulge that had suddenly risen from the jacket covering Fry. She poked it and Fry yelped.

"Yeow! Don't touch that!" he said. He then reached under the jacket and pulled out a dagger.

"I wonder how this got here?" he said. "It poked into my stomach a it when you poked it."

"Oh, sorry," she said.

"Hmmmm.... looks like one of those pirate daggers. It must have gotten into my jacket pocket somehow."

Fry help up his jacket, and sure enough there was a large hole in it's left pocket.

"Did anything fall out of the pocket?" she asked.

"No, I put everything else in the right pocket," he said, reaching into the pocket that was still fine. "Yeah, everything else is still here."

He stood up and pulled the jacket on.

"Man, I need a drink. And that water down there looks really refreshing."

He started to leave the cave, but Alesia pulled him back in.

"Listen!" she said before he could ask why. He did, and heard something getting closer. Hiding in the cave and peering out, they both saw a small shiny black spacecraft suddenly zoom from overhead and shoot across the sky, leaving a trail of temporary blue light streaks. With it's speed, it didn't take long before it was out of sight.

"That was close," Fry said. "Thanks."

"Yeah, but I don't think it was looking for us," Alesia hypothesised. "It was going way too fast."

"I think you're right. In either case, I'm still thirsty and I'm STILL going to get a drink."

Fry trotted down to the water, kneeling before it. He put his hands in and pulled up water to his mouth, slurping loudly. Alesia slowly walked down to where he was and waited for him to finish. After a few more mouthfuls, Fry wiped his sleeve across his mouth. He look in the water and laughed.

"I think I've found us some breakfast. Look."

She wandered over to the water and looked into it where Fry pointed. It was crystal clear, making it easy to see what he was indicating.

"Fish," she said.

"Yeah," Fry smiled.

"But how will we catch them?" she asked.

Fry thought, confusion evident on his face as he mused the situation. After a while he perked up.

"I know!"

He took the yoyo and pocketknife from his pocket and picked up the dagger that was lying in the grass beside him. He pulled some of the string from the yoyo out and cut it off with the knife.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"I've figured it out. See, we can tie the pocketknife onto a stick using the yoyo string and make a spear out of it. I'll do the same with the dagger and then we'll both have spears to fish with."

"That's a good idea," Alesia said.

"Here," said Fry, handing her the freshly made spear with the pocketknife end on it. "You try and catch something, while I try and get a fire started to cook them on."

She took the spear, while Fry rushed away. Alesia soon found that the deed was a lot harder than the idea, with getting a fish proving quite taxing. While Fry gathered a bunch of dry sticks together on the grassy knoll, Alesia once again took off the bottom part of her dress, as well as her shoes, so that she could comfortably sit on the bank with her feet dangling in the water. More stabs, and little luck continued, while Fry began to rub two sticks together as fast as he could to get them lit. Alesia turned back to him.

"Maybe you should use some more string from the yoyo and use that technique where you drill one piece of wood into the other and move it with the string?"

"Yeah, good idea," said Fry, looking at the pile of wood with frustration. "Can you pass the knife, please?"

"Sure," she replied, but then suddenly looked at the water with surprise. "Oh, there's a big one! Just a sec....."

She drew back her arm and lunged at the fish with the spear. Unfortunately she had lunged too much, losing her balance and sending her splashing into the water.

"Alesia!!"

Fry gasped, not knowing whether she could swim or not. Then again, he didn't know if he could either. He was about to rush to the water's edge when Alesia's head popped back up, spluttering and spitting out water. Her face was almost completely plastered with her long hair, which she then moved aside a bit with her fingers so that she could see. Fry's look of concern suddenly warped into a huge grin. He laughed out loud comically, pointing at her.

"It's not funny!" she said. This was the first time he could recall her being angry, but he still couldn't stop laughing. She threw the spear onto the grass, slowly crawled out of the water and stood up.

"Oh! Look at me!" she said. "I'm completely soaked!"

Fry looked at her and his laughing began to slow. He cocked an eyebrow and his cheeks went bright red. With a sheepish grin he cleared his throat loudly and pointed at her.

"You.... uh..... might want to.... uh...."

"What?" she asked, wondering what he was talking about.

Fry cleared his throat again and pointed at her more urgently, still bright red. Alesia finally looked down and realised what he meant. The water had not just soaked her dress, but it had also made it cling to her slender figure. Not only that, but the now skin-tight garment was also partially transparent. Alesia gasped, her cheeks turning rose with embarrassment and she quickly covered her chest with her arms and hands. This was followed by an awkward silence. Fry broke it.

"Look.... I'll just give you my jacket," he said, removing it and chucking it down near her. "And you've still got that piece of dress there."

He pointed at the piece of cloth she had detached in order to fish.

"And then I'll leave you to get changed out of those wet clothes and into those."

He picked up the bundle of sticks and looked around.

"There. I'll go behind those bushes over there and try and get this fire going. Then we can dry your clothes off, okay?"

Alesia managed a nervous grin.

"Th-thanks," she said. Fry, now looking a little shamed, picked up the spear, turned and took the sticks where he said he would. He threw the pile down, removed the knife from the stick, sat down, and began to work on making the fire.

'Man, that was embarrassing!' he thought to himself, shaking his head. 'Then again, it certainly was pleasing to the eye.'

Fry shook the provocative grin from his face and slapped himself.

'No Fry! Get that out of your head!' he thought. 'Concentrate on getting this fire going and trying to find some answers, and NOT on arousing daydreams.'

Fry took a deep breath. 'Keep focussing on the task at hand. Fire, escape, answers. Fire, escape, answers. Fire, escape, answers. There, I think my thoughts are cleaner now.'

Fry's mind went blank for the next few seconds.

'I'll bet if I peer over the bush now, she'll be naked.'

Fry's eyes widened, shocked and angered by what his mind had conjured up.

'No! No! NO!!' he thought, taking one of the larger sticks and smacking himself in the head with it.

"OW!"

Alesia had just pulled on Fry's jacket when she heard the thud, crack and expression of pain from behind the bushes where Fry was. She looked back perplexedly as she zipped the jacket up. Already wearing the dry piece of dress too, she called over to Fry's direction.

"You can come out now," she said. Fry peeked his head over the bush, still trying to get the fire going as he did.

"Okay!" he smiled, calling back. As he turned back he suddenly realised that the wood was finally starting to smoke. With a little more effort, and the help of some paper receipts found in his wallet, Fry eventually got the fire going. He then propped up two tall sticks in the ground either side of the fire, attaching the last piece of yoyo string to each of them so that it hung above the fire.

"I've made a makeshift clothes line," he told Alesia. "You can hang your clothes above the fire and they should be dry soon."

"Thanks," she said, picking up her wet clothes that lay on the grass. Fry pointed at her neck.

"Good to see you didn't lose your necklace," he said.

"Yeah," she said, not really sounding that sure. "It's obviously something very important to me."

There was a short silence before Alesia's expression suddenly changed.

"You know," she said. "I just realised that until you mentioned the necklace, I had completely forgotten about the decision I have to make since I woke up this morning."

She began to place the clothes neatly on the line.

"Maybe I should search for some other source of food then?" Fry said. "There's probably some kind of fruit or nuts or something in this place?"

Alesia nodded. "Okay," she said.

Fry turned and walked into the jungle, following the river and looking around for anything that could be considered as food. He noticed something on a nearby tree.

"All right, walnuts!" he said picking one off the ground.

He tried to open it with his hands, trying to pry it open at the seam. But to no avail. So, out came the pocketknife again. Wedging the tip of the blade between the two sections he struggled to pry it apart. After a lot of struggling, it finally popped open.

"Gotcha!" he exclaimed. "Hey! This nut looks screwed up!"

Looking side he didn't find a nut, but instead found a strange purple, jelly-like substance. He was about to poke it when it suddenly moved, morphing partially upright and forming what looked like a mouth and tiny red eyes. The amorphous thing then hissed at Fry menacingly. Fry recoiled with a squeal, dropping the object that was obviously NOT a nut at all. The object then closed up again and lay still.

"Okay!" said Fry to himself, breathing heavily. "Be careful! What looks like food here may not be food at all!"

He wandered on, then came across something that had to be food: apricot-like fruit hanging from a tree.

"If this isn't food, I'll eat my shoe," he said to himself. "Seriously, I'm running out of options here!"

Taking one of the pieces of fruit from the tree, he tentatively took a small bite. The fruit was sweet and juicy, and Fry gobbled down the rest of it in a flash. Ejecting the large pip from his mouth, he began to grab more and fill up his t-shirt with them. When he had as much as he could carry, he made his way back to the waterfall.

Alesia sat at the edge of the water, looking into it. She sighed heavily as she stared at her reflection.

"What is the pain on your past?" she asked her mirrored self. It didn't respond. She sighed again.

"What is the pain in MY past?" she said quietly, turning her face away. She closed her eyes, trying to stop thinking about her dilemma, a single tear running down from her left eye and dripping into the water, making circular ripples in the otherwise tranquil pool. She heard some rustling in the bushes to the south.

"Fry?" she called, wondering if it was him. There was no response, just more rustling. She slowly reached over for the dagger that lay on the grass nearby.

"Who's there?" she said in a shaky voice, standing up. Something burst through the shaking bushes. Luckily it was Fry, carrying a shirt full of fruit. She sighed with relief.

"I've got food!" he announced happily. "Try some, it's great!"

He jogged over and knelt down, dumping the load of provisions on the ground. He handed one to Alesia.

"What are they?" she asked.

"I dunno, but they're fruit!" Fry exclaimed before taking a huge bite out of one. "They're kind of like apricots or peaches."

"How do you know they're not poisonous?" she queried.

"I 'unno," he shrugged, muffled behind a mouth full of chewed up fruit. "But they taste fantastic."

Alesia shrugged and took a small bite. Not expecting it to be so juicy, she flinched a little as some juice dribbled down her chin.

"Yeah, they're quite juicy," Fry chuckled. "Also there's a large stone in it."

She wiped the juice away with a finger, then smiled as she chewed.

"Mmmmmmmm... you're right, these are delicious," she nodded.

"Yeah. I brought us loads because I have no idea when the last time we ate was!"

The next few moments were silent as the two of them just ate. Fry seemed to ravage them, while Alesia took smaller, sensible bites. It wasn't long before all the fruit was gone.

"Boy! That was good food," said Fry, holding his now slightly bulging stomach. Alesia giggled, pointing at his face.

"Your mouth is completely covered in juice," she said.

"You're right," he said. "So are my hands. Better wash off I guess."

He walked over to the pool or water and washed his stuck hands, then sloshed some onto his face. Alesia knelt beside him and washed her hands and face also, though much more gently than him.

"Don't fall in again," he warned her with a friendly smirk. "We're out of dry clothes to give you."

She smiled, then thought for a second.

"They're probably dry now anyway."

She began to make her way over to the fire.

"Good," Fry said, shaking the water off his hands and standing up. "As soon as they are we can get going."

She ran her fingers through the clothes.

"They are," she called over. "Though they smell like smoke now. Stay there, I'll get changed behind this bush."

"Okay then," Fry said. He decided to just look into the water until she was done. It was just starting to clear up again after they had stirred it up. It was so clear, you could see straight to the bottom of the pool. Fish were still swimming about further out in the deeper areas. As he started at his reflection he couldn't help but feel a little envious of Alesia. Sure, she had a hard decision to make, and apparently a very troubled past, but at least she had a past. All Fry had was a photograph of him with a robot and a one-eyed woman to inform him about his life. He had nothing to go by. He didn't have much time to contemplate it before he saw Alesia's reflection standing behind his. As her turned to her she smiled down at him, wearing her old clothes again and holding his red jacket.

"Here's your jacket," she said, handing it to him. "Thanks for letting me borrow it."

"No problem," he said taking it and putting it on. "Well, we might as well out that fire and get going now. We'll follow the stream to what will hopefully be the ocean."


Knock! Knock! Knock!

Leela, Scruffy and Zoidberg were woken by a knock on the door. As they looked up from their sleeping state it opened and in walked Amy, who was lead by an armed Andrew. She yawned loudly and sat down.

"Okay, everybody up!" ordered Andrew. "You've all had your sleep, so you can get back to the cockpit now."

He indicated Leela.

"You can start piloting the ship again immediately."

Leela crossed her arms and looked angry.

"Sorry, but no!" she stated defiantly. "We haven't had a chance to eat anything at all since we left Earth. I'm not piloting the ship until you give us some food."

Andrew growled and aimed his laser at Leela's face.

"Go ahead," she said, unfazed by the hostility. "Shoot me. I'm sure that your boss will LOVE that!"

Andrew lowered his weapon with a cold sneer.

"Fine!" he said. "I'll see what I can do."

He left, closing the door and locking it again.

"Thanks, Leela!" said a tired Amy. "I'm starving!"

"It feels like I haven't eaten in a month," whined Zoidberg.

"Scruffy could sure go for a burger," Scruffy noted. He then looked around. "Hey! Where's Scruffy's magazine?!

"Uh, sorry," said Zoidberg. "But I was hungry, and I needed to have something to go with your hat."

Scruffy then just realised his hat was gone too.

"Scruffy suggests that we have lobster fer lunch."

Zoidberg squealed and recoiled as Scruffy approached him. But then the door opened again, and both stopped and moved their attention to he who entered. It was Bender, though Andrew was still standing in the hallway with his gun.

"Hey guys!" the robot said. "The Baron said that I can cook you guys up a meal. So you can all get your asses into the cockpit while I prepare something in the kitchen!"

The others, well aware of Bender's cooking, reluctantly followed, except for Zoidberg who clapped his claws together with joy. Amy yawned loudly again. They entered the cockpit where the Baron and Marc sat, except for Bender who went into the kitchen.

"Ah, so here are the hungry captives," the Baron noted. "You're lucky that I want you guys in optimum condition otherwise I wouldn't even consider feeding you. But I expect you to all perform your best when serving me, so feeding is required to keep you working well I guess."

He turned his gaze to Leela.

"You can fly the ship while you wait for your food."

"Can't the autopilot handle it?" she asked. "It's been piloting it for the past few minutes anyway? And all we're travelling through is empty space anyway!"

"Take the controls now, you stubborn, one-eyed freak!" the Baron yelled, aiming his gun at her. Leela's eye narrowed, and with a snarl she reluctantly obeyed. The others all sat down, not saying a word. In the meantime, Bender worked in the kitchen, mixing something in a bowl while watching an Elzar cooking video. The Neptunian chef demonstrated how to cook something, using all four of his arms, while Bender wore his chef's hat and an apron that had 'Fool of a Cook' on it.

"After you've mixed the batter just right, you want to add your four eggs."

Bender stopped mixing the bowl and followed Elzar's instructions, putting four eggs in the bowl. However, he didn't remove the shells, and after some more mixing, the eggs appeared to be a strange green colour, suggesting that they were rotten.

"Now, add two cups of premium grade flour," Elzar instructed.

Bender looked in the pantry behind him. He made a disappointed noise.

"Awwwwww crap! No flour!"

He looked around, rubbing his metal chin and thinking. He then spotted something on a nearby bench and chuckled to himself. The next moment he was tipping some yellow flowers out of a vase into the bowl.

"Flour. Flowers. They both sound the same, so they'll do," he said whimsically. "Dunno if there's two cups here, but it'll do."

"Now, you'll probably want to knock it up another notch, and what better way that to give it a blast from your spice weasel?!"

Elzar demonstrated by grabbing a spice weasel from below the counter and giving the mixture a blast of spice from its nose. "BAMM!" he added during the blast.

"Crap!" said Bender. "I don't have any spice weasels on the ship!"

He then heard a sound behind him and whirled around to see none other than little Nibbler sniffing the trash can.

"Hmmmmm..... I wonder..." he said to himself.

It wasn't long until everybody in the cockpit got a huge fright as Nibbler and Bender burst through the door from the kitchen and ran around. Nibbler was squealing loudly as Bender chased him. The Baron turned to Andrew.

"Put an end to this nonsense."

Andrew nodded and took aim, training the gun on Nibbler. But before he could fire, Leela suddenly leapt up from the pilot's seat and dealt out a powerful kick to Bender. The robot flew through the air and slid across the floor into the back wall of the cockpit. Nibbler ran behind Leela's feet, and as Andrew turned his gun to shoot Leela, the Baron put his hand on it in a signal to halt. This was followed by an odd silence, the only sound coming from a groaning Bender who lay on the floor. His chest cavity door now had a large dent in it too. After a little while longer, the Baron clapped.

"Bravo, Captain," he said, chuckling slightly. "Thank you for putting an end to that fiasco. Another few seconds and your little pet would have been fried to a crisp, so you were lucky."

Leela growled at the Baron, but then turned her attention to Bender again.

"What the hell were you doing chasing Nibbler like that?!" she roared.

Bender groaned again and slowly got to his feet.

"You were going to try and cook him, weren't you?!" she accused, memories from her earlier dream coming flooding back.

"No!" said Bender, angrily. "I didn't have any spice weasels on board, so I was wondering if Nibbler had the same abilities!"

"What?! That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!" Leela stated.

"Well it's true!" Bender yelled. "Now thanks to your actions, your meal won't get knocked up a notch! I hope you're happy, Leela?! You've stopped the others from having a truly fantastic meal!"

Bender then retrieved his hat and stormed back into the kitchen. Leela sighed and sat back down at the controls. Strangely, Zoidberg spoke next, and to the Baron.

"So, Mister Baron, sir," he said, as friendly and unhostile as possible. "Can you tell us what might have happened to our good friend, Fry?"

Leela sighed. She had been constantly worried about Fry since he had been taken away.

"I don't know, and I don't care!" Steinmann said coldly. "Whoever the Robot Mafia sold him to will have done with him as they wished. Let's just say that whatever he's going through won't be easy."


"Boy, moving through this stuff sure isn't easy!" Fry commented.

He and Alesia were now pushing their way through some thick bushes that grew near the water's edge. They wanted to keep sight of the stream they were following, hoping that it would lead them to the sea.

"How far do you think the ocean is?" Alesia asked.

"It looked pretty far," Fry answered. "I could only just see it from the top of that tree yesterday."

"I wonder if there's anything dangerous in these jungles?" Alesia pondered.

"Dunno," Fry shrugged. "But we haven't seen anything really nasty yet."

Fry suddenly smiled.

"Look, it gets clearer up ahead."

"Good," sighed Alesia. "I'm tired of walking through this thick vegetation."

They made it out of the vegetation and then everything was a lot easier. After a while though, Alesia stopped. Fry turned and stopped as well. She looked concerned.

"What is it?" Fry asked her.

"I thought I heard something!" she said.

They both listened.

"I don't hear anything," Fry said after a while. "Maybe it's just the wind, or tree dolphins."

"Tree dolphins?"

Fry just shrugged.

"I dunno. It was kind of random I know. But if there really ARE tree dolphins, I'm sure they'd be friendly."

"Why do you think there'd be tree dolphins living in a jungle? It wouldn't make any sense."

"Well, there are sea monkeys living in the sea, so what's so far-fetched about tree dolphins?"

Alesia just laughed.

"Sea monkeys?! You're kidding, right?"

"No," Fry said. "I don't really know much more, but I know they exist. My mind tells me that sea monkeys exist, but I don't know why because of the whole mind blanky thing."

Alesia began to chuckle again, but then suddenly looked shocked. She didn't say a word, but her eyes had grown huge and she looked really frightened. Fry turned to see what she was looking at, and his blood froze as well.

There, standing at the edge of one of the denser areas of jungle stood a fearsome looking creature. It had to be about three metres in height, with dark black skin on a thin, skeletal frame. It had a long, flat skull, pupil less black eyes, long bony legs and arms and was poised for attack. Its sharp fangs were bared, dripping with saliva, and two tall horns jutted out from its skull. The claws on both it's hands and feet looked like razors, and its long, knife-like tail had a formidable spike on it. From it's build, it was obviously very athletic and powerful, and from it's look, Fry and Alesia were its next target.



To be continued

Buddies