Futurama

Fan Fiction

Married With Childsren, part 6
By Ramon_51

100 East 123rd Street, Apartment 1I, July 3, 3004, 0915 (9:15 a.m.)

Everyone was clustered around Amy’s HDTV watching the news about the terrorist attack near the 5th District Courthouse. Fry, Leela and Sally had come over to visit with Amy just before the attack had taken place. To their surprise, Inez was there as well.

‘Good Morning New-New York’ had been playing on Amy’s TV when Fry, Leela, and Sally entered. Amy was about to turn it off when one of the announcers breathlessly announced the terrorist attack. They had sat, mesmerized, waiting for definite news.

From somewhere off camera someone handed the announcer, a dark haired woman in her early thirties, a bulletin. As she scanned it, her eyes widened in shock and disbelief. Clearing her throat, she said, “We interrupt this newscast for a special bulletin. Mayor C. Randall Poopenmeyer has declared a state of emergency. He has announced that a special unit of Model X-02 Peace Enforcement Robots will begin the removal of all Mutants from above the surface followed by a strict enforcement of the quarantine measures of the Mutant Edicts. The mayor is scheduled to make a speech in five minutes to further explain his position. Stay tuned…”

They all sat in stunned silence as the announcer droned on. Finally Inez piped up, “Crazy Gwei Lo! They always doing stupid stuff.”

In a lame attempt to break the tension, Inez turned to Amy, “You know why there are so many Gwei Lo?”

Amy shook her head.

“Because somebody got to buy retail!”

Both Amy and Leela laughed politely, while Fry said, “I don’t get it.”

Before Inez could explain the joke to Fry, the announcer said, “We take you now live to the Mayor’s office.” The scene switched to the familiar backdrop of the Mayor’s office, with Poopenmeyer seated behind his desk. Something about him seemed odd…almost as if he was excessively tired or distracted. When he read from the statement on his desk, it was in a slow, measured monotone.

“A gang of mutant terrorists aided by human sympathizers have once again attacked New-New York. This latest attack near the 5th District Courthouse has brought the death toll over the past month to over five hundred. As a result, I am declaring martial law. Special Action Squads of X-02 Peace Enforcer Robots have already begun raids across the City to root out the mutant threat from among us. Anyone who aids or abets these traitors will be treated as one of them. Any mutants who resist arrest will be shot. All mutants will return to the sewers at once. A strict quarantine of the sewers will be enforced. That is all.”

The scene changed back to the announcer, whose shock was written all over her face. “We have just heard Mayor C. Randall Poopenmeyer…”

Amy hit the mute button, “Leela, do you think they’ll come looking for you?”

Leela looked uncertain, “I don’t know Amy. But I think Fry, Sally and I need to leave New-New York as soon as possible.”

Amy looked concerned, “Where will you go?”

Fry seemed to be thinking. Then his face brightened as he spoke up, “Kershaw invited us down to his place in Charleston.”

Leela looked surprised, “When did that happen?”

“He invited us at the wedding. We were at the bar and he told me that we could drop in any time for any reason at all.”

Leela looked doubtful for a moment before her face took on a look of grim resolution, “Let’s pack a few things and head south. But I’m not sure our Hover Harley will make it, there are bound to be roadblocks.”

Inez broke in, “I get you out of here…not problem. No roadblock gonna stop my Hovercaddy. And for sure no cop car gonna catch it.”

They conferred for a few moments before deciding to meet on the roof parking garage in five minutes. As they headed out the door, Sally asked Fry, “Why does the Mayor hate mutants, Daddy?”

Briefly, Fry struggled with an answer. Then he remembered that Sally was only six years old. He looked her full in the face and answered sincerely, “Because C. Randal Poopenmeyer is a big dummy.”

Aboard the Nimbus, High Earth Orbit, July 3, 0917 (9:17 a.m.)

Lieutenant Mulberry Sellers was standing watch when Zapp Brannigan stepped out of the turbo lift onto the bridge. They had been waiting in synchronous orbit with Manhattan below them for thirty minutes.

Sellers had wondered, “Why don’t we just go back to the South Port Naval Station and just dock?” However, he wasn’t one to question Captain Brannigan…or any other superior…so he had simply parked the Nimbus and waited for further orders.

“Lieutenant Sellers,” Brannigan asked, “are we at the right coordinates?”

“Aye-aye Sir! We are directly above Manhattan as per your orders, sir!”

Zapp gave a malicious grin, “Lieutenant Sellers, I just received an Ultra-top Secret communication from the DOOP High Command. The Cargo Ship Reliant has been hijacked by mutant terrorists and turned into a weapon of mass destruction. She is carrying a load of turbidium that the terrorists plan to use to destroy Manhattan.”

“Oh my goodness!” Sellers exclaimed.

“Our job, Lieutenant, is to destroy the Reliant before she can hit Manhattan.”

“Aye-aye Sir!”

“At her present course and speed, she should be within range of our laser in 43 minutes. As soon as she is within range, open fire. Is that clear?”

“Aye-aye Sir!”

Zapp grinned again, “When we succeed Lieutenant, we will have saved millions of DOOP citizens from certain death. And, we will have earned a medal or two. Keep a close watch! I’m going up to the observation deck to watch the fun.” He stepped into the turbo lift, laughing wickedly. Before the doors closed he said, “Shoot to kill…is that understood?”

“Aye-aye Sir! We shoot to kill.”

100 East 123rd Street, Apartment, the Rooftop Garage, July 3, 3004, 9:20 (9:20 a.m.)

When Fry, Leela, and Sally arrived on the rooftop, Inez was already at the wheel of the Hovercaddy. Amy was standing by the open trunk, her hand on the trunk lid. Fry tossed their bags into the trunk while Leela and Sally climbed into the back seat. After Amy slammed the trunk closed, Fry got into the back, sitting behind Inez. Amy climbed into the front seat.

Inez twisted around to look at Fry, Leela, and Sally, “You all need to keep low until we get out of city. I put blankets in back that you can get under.”

Fry and Leela nodded in agreement. Leela spoke up, “Inez, are you sure that you can get past roadblocks without any trouble?”

Inez laughed, “You not worry, Leo pay for me to go to three different evasive driving courses. He worry that someone try to kidnap me, so he want me to be able to drive like hell.” She gave a wicked grin as she patted the console, “This car got special features that I’m just dying to try out.” Her grin changed to a look of confidence, “Besides, Leo got enough money so we can bribe our way out of anything.”

She turned around in her seat and backed out of the parking spot. Keeping it legal, Inez eased the Hovercaddy into traffic. She headed west on 123rd Street toward the Avenue of the Americas, keeping with traffic yet allowing herself room to maneuver.

She needed it – a lot sooner than she had expected. Before they had gotten to the Avenue of the Americas, a cop car pulled across the road forming a roadblock. Both Amy and Inez fired off a simultaneous barrage of Cantonese curses when they realized that they would have to run a roadblock this early in the game. Inez followed this with a short burst of Cantonese to Amy.

Amy looked into the back, “Get under the blankets and please keep quiet. Mom told me that she’s going to try and bluff her way through.”

The Hovercaddy pulled up to the roadblock, which was manned by two human cops and a pair of X-02 Peace Enforcer Robots. A human and an X-02 approached Inez on the driver’s side, while the other pair kept the car covered with drawn weapons.

“Your papers, please,” the X-02 said in a mechanical monotone.

Inez handed them over without comment.

The human cop took the papers from the X-02 and examined them closely. “Ma’am, would you step out of the car please?”

In a polite tone, Inez asked, “Why…what I do?”

“Ma’am, we’re searching for mutants. Would you…”

Before he could finish Inez shot back in a shrill voice, “You dumb flatfoot! You know who I am? I am Inez Wong…wife of Leo Wong. I not get out of car! You move roadblock now or my husband make it plenty miserable for you!”

The human cop spoke up nervously, “Ma’am, I’m sorry but I have my orders.”

The X-02 said, “This conversation is over. Get out of the car or we will fire.”

No sooner did the X-02 say “fire” than Inez snatched her papers back from the surprised human cop and slammed down on the accelerator while simultaneously hitting the lift jets. She shot over and beyond the roadblock before the humans could react. Both X-02’s got off a few shots, but their lasers merely bounced off the heavily armored Hovercaddy.

For the next few moments Inez showed the NNYPD what a professionally trained driver could do on the streets of New-New York.

Inez threaded expertly through the heavy downtown traffic like she was on a Sunday drive in the country.

Meanwhile, Fry, Leela, and Sally were tossed around like popcorn in the back seat. Fry peeked over the front seat before ducking back down under the blankets. Leela asked, “How’s she doing?”

Fry merely replied, “Better than I could.”

For some reason this struck Leela as unbearably funny and she began to laugh. Sally, unsure of why Leela was laughing, decided to join in.

The cop cars tailing the Hovercaddy were trying to close the distance or box her in, but Inez eluded them every time. But they finally seemed to have her boxed in.

“Suspect vehicle is headed toward the East River,” one of the pursuing cars radioed. “There’s no hover bridge there. We’ve got her.”

So they thought.

The human cops gaped in surprise as Inez roared to the end of the street…and kept on going.

In the back seat, Leela had peeked out from under the blanket as she heard the engine accelerate. She saw the “River Ahead” warning signs flash by as the Hovercaddy flew past them. “Oh my God,” Leela thought, “We’re all going to drown!”

Just as the Hovercaddy reached the peak of its arc above the river, Inez deftly punched a series of buttons. Within less than two seconds, the Hovercaddy was converted into a submersible.

Disappearing beneath the surface of the East River, the Hovercaddy seemed lost to its pursuers. “Better call for a dive team,” one of the pursuit units radioed to the dispatcher. “That Hovercaddy is probably stuck in the muddy river bottom.”

Meanwhile, Inez was piloting the “sunken” Hovercaddy toward the Atlantic Ocean. In a loud voice she said, “You round eyes can come out from under blanket now. Next stop…Charleston!”

Aboard the Resilient, July 3, 0945 (9:45 a.m.)

Brad paused to wipe the sweat from his face. It had taken a lot longer than he expected to figure out the wiring on the booby-trap. Even now he wasn’t 100% certain he had it right. Still, time was running out and he had to make a decision.

Sarah stood by, watching intently as Brad laid out his tools, “So mate, you think you’ve got it figured out?”

A smile flickered across Brad’s face, “Near as damn it, but we’ll know in a few moments.”

“Should I tell XT to get ready to disengage the two control units?”

“No, that might set off the booby-trap.” He paused as if considering something. Then he shook his head, “Tell XT to monitor the current in the A-6 power circuit. When I’ve succeeded in pulling this thing’s teeth, the power should fluctuate momentarily. Then he can disengage the control units.”

Sarah nodded before heading for the bridge to fill XT in on the situation.

“Back to work,” Brad thought. He worked slowly, deliberately as he snipped through wires and disabled circuits. All the while, the green light that signified that the booby trap was armed glared at him like an evil eye.

Each time he completed an action, he paused to wipe sweat from his face and to take a few deep breaths. “Damn,” he muttered, “it’s been a while.”

The green light continued to glare mockingly at him as if to say, “I can still kill you.”

When he took his next short break, he found his thoughts going wandering to the last time he had seen Katrina. She had dropped him off at the Planet Express building after he had spent a wonderful night at her place.

Brad had given her a respectable peck on the cheek as the hovercar slid to a halt. Before he could turn away, Katrina had surprised him by taking his head in her hands and kissing him fiercely. In an emotion choked voice she had said, “Ya vas lyobloo” as their lips parted.

“What’s this?” Brad had said in a tone of surprise. “I love you too. Why so emotional, Katrina?”

Her eyes had a far-away look in them as she answered, “You are going into great danger…beware my love.”

At the time he had laughed it off, reassuring Katrina that this was a simple milk run…nothing to get worked up about. She had refused to be reassured and kept insisting that he was going into great danger.

Now as he prepared to cut the last of two wires, he realized that Katrina had been right. But how did she know?

“Time to figure that out after I finish with this thing,” he said quietly.

Snip!

Only one wire remained.

Snip!

The green light flickered, then went out.

Brad breathed a sigh of relief. As he stood up to stretch his cramped limbs, XT’s voice came over the intercom, “Allah hu Akbar! We have control of the ship again my brother!”

“Then I suggest we get to Syria Planitia Naval Yards as quickly as we can.” Brad replied, “This turbidium isn’t getting any more stable sitting in our hold.”

Sarah cut in, “We’re on our way, flat out like a lizard drinking!”

Howeird Johnson’s, I-952, July 3, 1000 (10:15 a.m.)

Inez steered the Hovercaddy out of the water as soon as she hit the New Jersey shore. They streaked south toward Charleston along the coastal hoverway, passing swiftly through New Jersey and across Delaware. As they traveled Inez spoke on her cell phone in rapid-fire Cantonese.

Amy turned to Fry and Leela and silently mouthed the words, “That’s my Dad.”

Inez closed her phone with a resounding ‘snap.’ With a trace of glee in her voice she announced, “It all gonna be fixed soon. Leo said no problem.”

Leela leaned forward, “Thank you, Inez. Fry and I will always be in your debt.”

Inez smiled, “Not to worry, it make me feel good to see my driving training really work.”

Amy had laughed first, followed by everyone else in the car. The car became quiet again. Soon after, they passed over the Chesapeake Bay hoverbridge.

Once they crossed the bridge Sally spoke up, “Mommy…I really have to go.”

“Can’t you hold it for a little while?” Leela had asked.

“I’ll try Mommy.” Sally responded doubtfully.

Five minutes passed before Sally began to squirm, “I’m sorry Mommy, but I really, really have to go.”

Leela asked, “Inez, is it safe for us to stop?”

Inez smiled, “Sure, I not want to get my seats cleaned.”

They pulled into the Howeird Johnson’s Restaurant and Emporium just inside the North Carolina line. The interior was what one would expect of a Howeird Johnson’s. One side held the restaurant, while the other sold trinkets and had a variety of amusements for both children and adults.

After the initial rush to the bathroom, Inez had announced, “We stay for a while for some coffee. Let little girl play games and stretch legs.”

Sally turned to Fry and said, “Daddy can you win me a stuffed animal?”

Fry nodded, “I’ll try.”

Hand-in-hand they strolled over to the claw machine.

Leela, Inez and Amy sat down at a booth where they ordered drinks. Leela and Inez both ordered Neptunian Blue Moon coffee, while Amy ordered a Soylent Cola. They sat quietly, watching Fry pit his skill against the claw machine.

Twenty quarters later, Fry had failed to nab a single animal. Amy said to Inez and Leela while sliding from the booth, “Excuse me, but I think my expert hands are needed elsewhere.”

Amy joined Fry and Sally. Soon the stuffed animals were dropping into the chute at the rate of one per quarter.

Leela broke the silence, “Inez…I appreciate all you have done…but why did you put yourself at risk for us?”

Inez paused for a long moment before she spoke. At first Leela had trouble understanding what she said, “Why do I help you? When Leo and I first married, we not have much money. We work hard, but many people not like us because we are Chinese. Then Leo inherit Wong family fortune when his Uncle and whole family die in hovercar accident.”

“Oh, that’s terrible!”

Inez nodded, “All of sudden, we have all kind of friends. Lotsa money attract lotsa leeches.” Her voice quavered slightly, “Everyone always asking us for something…except you and Fry.”

“That must be terrible.”

“Yes. You have been a good friend to my Amy. You set good example, get married and start family right away. Maybe she and green squishy man do the same.”

“I’m sure Amy and Kif will get married.”

Inez looked doubtful, “Maybe. I wanted to have lots of kids, but even with fertility drugs, Leo and I only have Amy.” Tears formed in her eyes, “But I sometimes doubt I ever see grandchildren.”

Leela reached out impulsively and took Inez’ hand, “Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll have a whole houseful of grandsons and granddaughters.”

“I sure hope so. Leo and I are both the last of our line. If Amy not have children, both our families will die out.”

“Well, Kif had some children with Amy.”

“Yeah, yeah, but they got DNA from you…not Amy.”

“Well, according to Kif…”

“I know. Kif say Amy his marshmallow or something like that so babies are hers. Sorry, I not buying that.”

Leela laughed when Inez said ‘marshmallow’ instead of ‘Smizmar,’ “I’m sure they will have children. But we have to get Kif cleared of the charges against him.”

“Leo already working on that.” Inez smiled, “Soon Kif can come out of hiding. I know my Leo. He big pain sometimes, but he always get the job done.”

Amy, Fry, and Sally approached the table, laughing and joking. Each was carrying an armload of stuffed animals.

Inez patted Leela’s hand, “We talk more later, Leela. You help me to remember what ancient Chinese proverb say,

If you want happiness for an hour – take a nap. If you want happiness for a day – go fishing. If you want happiness for a month – get married. If you want happiness for a year – inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime – help someone else.”

Before Leela could respond, Sally called out, “Mommy! Look at all the stuffed animals Aunt Amy won for me! Do you want some of them?”

Inez spoke up as she rose from the booth, “We divide up loot later. Now we head to Charleston.”

Aboard the Nimbus, High Earth Orbit, July 3, 1015

When the Resilient did not appear on time, Zapp Brannigan went to a communications panel, “Bridge, this is the Captain. Have you picked up the incoming terrorist vessel yet?”

Lieutenant Sellers responded, “Negative Captain, we have detected no incoming vessels other than regularly scheduled traffic.”

“Start scanning along the line from Earth to Pollux 6. Look for traces of any recent explosions.”

“Explosions, sir?”

“Just do it!” Zapp snapped. He had a gnawing feeling that something was wrong. He paced the observation deck for several minutes, chewing on his lower lip.

“Sir?”

“Yes, Sellers, what is it?”

“Sir, there are no anomalies indicating an explosion within a 15 degree arc of the line you indicated.”

Zapp thought for a moment, “Sellers, scan the approaches to the Syria Planitia Naval Yard. Are there any inbound freighters or civilian cargo ships?”

“Aye-aye, sir!”

After a brief silence, Sellers voice came over the intercom, “Sir, there are four ships approaching the Yard. The first is the Rose of Altair out of Cunaxa; the second is the Icarus out of Luna City; the third is the Resilient out of…”

Zapp cut Sellers off, “The Resilient! What’s our time to close to effective weapons range?”

After a quick check of his readout Sellers responded, “At maximum speed…twenty minutes.”

“Make it so, Lieutenant!”

“Sir, they will have docked by then.”

“What?” Zapp almost screamed, “How did you miss them?”

“Sir, I followed your orders to the…”

“Shut up, you incompetent moron!” Zapp’s mind raced. Then he decided on a course of action. Time to start damage control! “Lieutenant, come to the observation deck at once!”

“Aye-aye sir!”

Sellers raced to the observation deck, afraid of Zapp’s wrath if he took one second more than necessary. He scrambled up the ladder and stood at attention before his Captain.

Before Sellers could salute, Zapp spoke in measured tones, “Lieutenant, I want you to personally prepare my shuttlecraft for departure. I want no logs kept of my departure or return, is that clear?”

“Yes sir, no logs.”

“Good, if anyone asks, I have the Rigellian Flu and am confined to my cabin. Is that clear?”

“Yes sir.”

“That is all Sellers. I want to be gone in ten minutes.”

“Aye-aye, sir!” Sellers said as he slid down the ladder to ready the shuttle.

Alone on the observation deck Zapp muttered, “Yes. It’s time for a little damage control.”

Dockmaster’s Office, Syria Planitia Naval Yards, July 3, 1045 hours

Sarah strode into the dockmaster’s office with Brad, CosmicF and XT trailing in her wake. Her face reflected her determination to find out why the Resilient had been hijacked.

The dockmaster, a middle-aged, balding Naval Captain took one look at Sarah and thought, “Here’s a lady who means business.”

Sarah stopped before the dockmaster’s desk, which sat in the middle of the sparsely furnished office. As the dockmaster drew breath to speak, Sarah pre-empted him, “Captain, I’d like to report a hijacking.”

Alarmed, the dockmaster rose to his feet, “A hijacking? Where? Who?”

“My ship was hijacked about two parsecs from here by some DOOP Navy types. They tried to turn her into a flying bomb. She’s loaded with turbidium, you see.”

The dockmaster looked stunned. “Go on,” was all he managed to say.

In as few words as possible, Sarah related the story of their hijacking, escape from their bonds, and regaining control of the Resilient. Then she handed him a data disk with the registry numbers of the craft that had intercepted them.

“Incredible,” the dockmaster said as he sat down behind his desk. “One moment,” he added as he began tapping on the keyboard of his computer.

Several moments later he looked at Sarah in obvious confusion, “Miss, I don’t doubt your word…but there is no record of a Major Wellington of the DOOP Marines.”

“No Major Wellington,” Sarah said with evident surprise, “then who in the bloody hell intercepted us?”

“I’ve not a clue.”

“What about the registry numbers of the mongrels who hijacked us?”

“I’m sorry to say but their registry numbers are from decommissioned craft. Also, they don’t match the types of craft you mentioned.”

XT spoke up, “These are very deep waters, Sarah. It seems that we were hijacked by a very cunning group of villains.”

Brad added, “I’d like to get them in my sights for a nanosecond.”

CosmicF nodded in agreement.

Sarah face seemed frozen in an angry mask, “Cunning they may be, but I swear that I’ll find them if it takes ten years.” Her voice shook with anger, “No one takes my ship and gets away with it.”

The dockmaster interrupted, “I’ll help you in any way that I can, but first we have to unload your turbidium. The docks are closed until we’ve got your cargo clear. Once we’re done, I’ll give you a computer terminal with access to DOOPNAV net and let you investigate to your heart’s content.”

Sarah turned to Brad, CosmicF and XT, “Well…we’ll never get to heaven if we don’t die. That turbidium won’t unload itself.”

Without further discussion everyone headed for the Resilient to begin the delicate task of unloading the highly volatile turbidium.

The Oaks, Outside Charleston, South Carolina, July 3, 1100 (11 a.m.)

Finding the Kershaw family estate had not been as easy as they had thought. It was slightly north-northeast of Charleston, on the sea. There were no high-speed roads to it, only narrow country lanes lined with ancient Live Oak and Weeping Willow trees. Purple wisteria and Spanish Moss draped themselves across the limbs that projected over the road.

Many times it had seemed like they were driving through a living tunnel as the branches from the trees lining the roads actually blocked out direct sunlight. They had rolled the windows down as the Hovercaddy crept along the narrow road so they could smell the fragrance of the many wildflowers that carpeted the occasional fields they would cross.

Amy broke the silence in the car by exclaiming as she pointed, “Look Mom, there’s the sign to The Oaks.”

Everyone looked in the direction Amy had pointed. Sure enough, there was a large, whitewashed sign with black letters proclaiming,

The Oaks

J.B., C.T., & R.V. Kershaw, Proprietors

Deo Vindice

Inez turned right and headed up the narrow road that led in the direction of the sea. Five miles later, they rounded a bend and saw The Oaks. Surrounded by green fields, it was a large white three storied mansion house, complete with porches on all three levels and massive columns in the front.

Off to one side, a cluster of what seemed to be smaller dwellings and outbuildings stood. They were also whitewashed, almost glaringly so. In a field near one of the outbuildings stood a corral which held a dozen or so horses and ponies of various sizes.

Sally called out excitedly from the rear seat, “Mommy! Look at the horses!” Smiling, Sally turned to Leela and said, “Mommy, can I go riding?”

“We’ll see, sweetie,” Leela temporized. She loved animals, but for some reason just couldn’t bring herself to really trust horses. She’d ridden a few times, but there was something about horses…she just couldn’t put her finger on it.

As they drew closer to the mansion house, they could see two men sitting in rocking chairs on the ground floor porch. Both had what appeared to be some sort of long barreled weapon across their laps.

Inez turned slightly to look at Leela, “You sure they expecting us?”

“I spoke to one of J.B.’s brothers – Richard – when we stopped in Charleston for directions. I’m sure it’s okay,” she said with more confidence than she felt.

Inez stopped the Hovercaddy directly in front of the stairs leading onto the porch. Both men rose and approached the vehicle after first leaning their weapons against the wall. It was easy to see that both were related to J.B. and to each other.

The first to approach was obviously the older of the two. He wore a white suit with a black bow-tie. He had a huge white handlebar moustache that matched his snowy hair. Behind him and slightly to the left walked a somewhat younger clean-shaven man who had pepper and salt hair. He also wore a white linen suit without a bow-tie.

Everyone piled out of the car except for Leela and Sally. Leela was actually changing Sally’s dress to make her more ‘presentable.’

Inez and Fry were closest to the approaching men. Fry stuck out his hand, “Hi, I’m Fry. Joe Kershaw said we could come and visit?”

The older man shook Fry’s Hand. In a deep South Carolina accent he said, “I am pleased to make you acquaintance, sir. J.B. advised us of your pending arrival. My name is Charles Tazewell Kershaw. Please call me Taz.” He gestured to the other man, “This is my baby brother, “Richard Varner Kershaw. We call him Varney.”

Varney and Fry shook hands.

“A pleasure, sir,” Varney said.

Amy had stepped around the hood of the Hovercaddy to stand at her mother’s side. Taz bowed slightly in their direction, “Forgive my manners, but I have neglected you lovely ladies. Allow me to introduce myself…”

Amy blurted out, “I heard, you’re Taz and that’s Varney. This is my mom Inez Wong and I’m Amy.”

Taz chuckled, “Well, well you certainly do come to the point.” He shook hands with both women before saying, “But is there not another lady in your party?”

At that moment Leela emerged from the car. She stepped around with Sally in tow. Smiling, she stuck out her hand, “Hi! I’m Leela Fry and this is our daughter, Sally.”

Taz and Varney’s reaction when they caught sight of Leela surprised everyone. Both men seemed stunned. Varney visibly turned pale.

Taz recovered his composure first, “A very real pleasure, Ma’am.” He extended his hand, “Welcome to The Oaks. Please treat it as your home.” Taz looked down at Sally, “You are most welcome too, Miss Sally.”

Varney shook Leela’s hand as well, “A pleasure.” Varney kneeled to look Sally in the face. He gazed at her searchingly for a few seconds before he spoke, “So Miss Sally, do you like horses?”

“Oh, I love horses!” she exclaimed.

“After you’ve settled in, perhaps your mother will allow you to visit our horse barn?” Varney glanced in Leela’s direction. Leela nodded.

Taz abruptly called out, “Pompey…Prometheus, come and welcome our guests.”

Two huge Irish Wolfhounds bounded out from beneath the porch where they had lain, unseen. Their sudden appearance made Fry, Amy, and Inez nervous.

The two dogs ignored everyone in favor of Leela and Sally, who they approached with their massive tails wagging. Fry was ready to step between them and his wife and daughter when Varney said, “Don’t worry Fry, their tails are wagging.”

Both dogs sniffed at Leela and Sally for a moment before they began to lick their hands.

“Seems they like both of you,” Taz ventured.

Fry responded, “I’m glad of that.”

Taz nodded, “Let me get our butler Zeeves to show you your rooms.”

Inez spoke up, “Amy and I are just gonna freshen up. Then we heading for Savannah Spaceport. My Leo say we need to catch first thing smoking to Mars.”

Amy whined, “Mom, I want to stay.”

Inez shook her head vigorously, “No. Your father say he can fix everything when we get home to Mars. Then he help clear up stuff for your green squishy man, too.”

Amy quietly responded, “Okay Mom.” More than anything, she wanted to see Kif again.

Taz pulled a fob from his pocket and pressed the large red button in its center. In a few seconds a Butlerbot came onto the porch. In a melodious English accent it asked, “You rang, sir?”

“Yes, Zeeves.” He indicated Leela, Fry and Sally, “Please see our guests to their rooms. These ladies,” he gestured toward Amy and Inez, “will not be staying. However, they require a place to freshen up.”

“Very good sir. Ladies….Sir, please follow me.” Everyone save Taz and Varney headed across the porch and into the house.

Once the porch was clear, Taz turned to Varney, “I suppose you noticed?”

“Indeed I did.”

“Most remarkable that J.B. didn’t mention it.”

“You know J.B.”

“Indeed I do. Well, let’s go make our guests comfortable.”

Both men turned and entered the house in silence.

An Abandoned Warehouse in New Jersey, July 3, 1200 (Noon)

The three men stood silently in the dark interior of the rat infested building, waiting for their boss. Together the men were the top echelon of the terrorist organization that Zapp Brannigan had put together.

Zapp had chosen each man carefully. They were hard working, loyal, and secretive. All hated mutants. More importantly, they carried Zapp’s orders to the rest of the organization without ever mentioning his name. No one in the rank-and-file of the organization knew that Zapp existed. Without the three, there was no hard link between Zapp and the terrorist acts that had taken place over the past few weeks.

None of them were much to look at. In fact, that was their strength. Each man could blend into a crowd without much effort. If Sarah had been there, she would have recognized the man in the center as “Major Wellington.” The man on his right was slightly heavyset, with very dark hair. The man on the left was slightly taller and more slender. All wore dark, conservative clothing.

The men were conversing in low tones when Zapp’s voice issued from the darkness, “So, gentlemen! I bet you are wondering why I called you all here.”

‘Wellington’ spoke up first, “It had crossed my mind.”

The others chimed in with, “Yeah.”

Zapp stepped from the darkness into the shadows, “Because of unforeseen events, my plan is spiraling out of control. It seems that the Resilient got away. I wanted to see what we can do to salvage this mess.”

All three men relaxed a bit. If he wanted to salvage things, he needed them as his agents. It meant they wouldn’t meet the fate of some of the others who had failed Zapp.

They talked for over an hour without coming up with any definite plans. Zapp had seemed unconcerned about the lack of progress. Instead, Zapp had said, “We’ll let things cool down a bit. We’ll meet in a month. I want everyone in the organization to lie low until after our next meeting…understood?”

Everyone nodded in agreement.

Then Zapp produced a flask from his pocket. He grinned, “A toast to seal our success…to our inevitable victory!” He took a loud, gulping drink before passing it on to the next man.

Each man took a swig in turn. Zapp took the flask and put it in his pocket. Still smiling, he turned on his heel. As he departed into the darkness he called over his shoulder, “Remember…lie low for at least a month!”

Once in the darkness, Zapp reached into his pocket. He pulled out a pill, swallowing it immediately. As he entered his hovercar in the alley, he allowed himself a chuckle. Within a few hours, all three of his henchmen would collapse mysteriously from massive heart attacks. He had used Decapodian poison…absolutely unfamiliar to Earth toxicologists. He had taken the only measure certain to keep his secret safe. They deserved to die…the blundering fools!

As his hovercar sped to the area where he had parked his shuttle craft, Zapp said out loud, “Time for some new henchmen.”

Within minutes he was back on the way to the Nimbus, plotting his next attempt.

The Oaks, Outside Charleston, South Carolina, July 3, 1300 (1 p.m.)

Leela, Fry, and Sally stood outside the mansion house, waving at the receding form of Inez’s Hovercaddy. When the car disappeared in the distance, Leela turned to Fry, “Well, what do we do next?”

Fry shrugged his shoulders, “I dunno. I guess we wait to hear from J.B.”

Sally piped up, “We could go look at the house like Mr. Taz wanted us to.”

Leela turned to Fry, “What do you think?”

Fry stood with his hand on his chin, “I don’t know…”

Sally took his hand and looked up at him, “Please, Daddy?”

Fry grinned, “Sure Pumpkin, we can go.”

They walked toward the house together with Sally in the lead, followed by Fry and Leela. Pompey and Prometheus, the two huge Irish Wolfhounds, frisked along beside Sally. Leela put her hand on Fry’s shoulder affectionately, “You like being called Daddy, don’t you?”

Fry reached out and took Leela’s hand. “I like it almost as much as I enjoy being called your husband.”

“Aww! That’s so sweet,” she said followed by a kiss on the cheek. “That’s a deposit for tonight,” she said with a wink.

When they entered the foyer of the house a few moments later, Zeeves approached them, “Sir, Madame, would you be so kind as to accompany me to the drawing room? Mr. Tazewell is waiting to show you the mansion.”

Leela smiled, “Lead the way Zeeves. Come on Sally, let’s go see the house.”

The drawing room stood just off of the foyer. It was a large, airy room that was tastefully furnished in earth tones. A huge fireplace dominated the room. Taz was seated in a large overstuffed armchair close to it.

Zeeves approached with Fry, Leela, and Sally close in his wake. The dogs were following Sally along as well. Zeeves halted the cavalcade a few paces away, “Your guests, Sir.”

“Thank you, Zeeves. That will be all.”

Zeeves left wordlessly.

Taz smiled as he stood up, “Let me show you the ancestral home of the Kershaw’s.” Taz stepped forward, extending his hand, “Will you take my hand Miss Sally?”

Sally took his hand with a smile, “Thank you Mister Taz.”

Leela grinned. Sally was already becoming a Southern Belle and they had only been in Charleston for a few hours!

They strolled through the house, with Taz acting as their tour guide. It didn’t take long for Leela to realize that the Kershaws had been a very wealthy family for a very long time. The house seemed full of artifacts, almost like a museum.

“Taz,” Leela asked, “J.B. said both Varney and you are widowers. Do you live here all alone?”

Taz smiled sadly, “No my dear, we are not alone. We have our memories to keep us company.” Then he flashed a quick smile, “And every now and then, we have charming visitors such as you all.”

Fry gave a short laugh, “I’ve been called a lot of things, but I believe this is a first for charming.”

After a tour of the ground floor, the spent thirty minutes touring the second floor that was mostly sleeping quarters. That done, they ascended to the third floor. Emerging from the stairwell, they found themselves in a gallery that was lined from floor to ceilings with paintings.

Taz took them down the long rows, explaining which ones were likenesses of some of the more famous or in one case, infamous members of the family.

Sally seemed excited, “So one of your ancestors was a Space Pirate?”

Taz chuckled, “I’m afraid so, Miss Sally. You’ll have to get Varney to tell you the story. It has all sorts of curses, double crosses, and ghosts. However, I’m not much of a storyteller.”

Sally’s eyes widened at the mention of the word ‘ghosts’ followed by an audible ‘gulp.’ Sensing her distress, both Prometheus and Pompey began to lick her face.

“Quit it you guys!” Sally protested.

When the two dogs were sure Sally was OK, the party continued on to the end of the gallery, where the most recent portraits hung. Sally pointed, “Why does that one picture have curtains covering it?”

“It is a portrait of my dear departed mother, Eula Mae Barnwell. She died not long after Varney turned three.” His face took on a look of sadness, “We keep it covered and only uncover it on special occasions.”

Fry, Leela and Sally were all curious to see the portrait, but instead Leela asked, “What kind of special occasions?”

Taz looked enigmatically at Leela, “I think now is such a time.” He reached up for the pull cord. A sudden yank, and the portrait was revealed in all it’s glory.

For a moment Fry, Leela and Sally stood there speechless. Fry’s jaw looked as if it would hit the floor. Leela’s eye seemed ready to pop out. The silence was profound. Then Sally blurted out, “Mommy, she looks just like you…with two eyes!”

The Oaks, Outside Charleston, South Carolina, July 3, 1300 (3 p.m.)

Everyone was seated near the drawing room fireplace, except for Sally. She was out on the front lawn, playing with Prometheus and Pompey. Her occasional squeal of delight penetrated into the room, causing the adults to pause in their conversation and smile.

Fry sat next to Leela on a couch, while Varney and Taz sat opposite them in overstuffed arm chairs. From the look on her face, it was obvious that Leela was a bit skeptical.

“So let me get this straight.” Leela said with a look of attention, “You believe that I’m somehow related to the Kershaw family?”

Fry spoke up, “Gosh Leela, I don’t see how you can doubt it. Look at that picture! Eula matches you nearly perfectly.”

“I know Fry, but I know so little about my family. I mean, I’ve never even met my Grandmother. She’s a bit of a recluse. I mean, she didn’t even come to our wedding.”

Varney leaned forward, “Have you ever seen a picture of her?”

“No. My mother was going to prepare a family album for me, but I haven’t gotten it yet.”

Varney stood and walked over to a cabinet that stood opposite the fireplace. He reached inside, pulling out a photograph. With a slight smile on his lips, he handed it to Leela, “Do you recognize this person?”

“Goodness, it looks like Sally! Who is it?”

“That lady is my brother J.B.’s lost love, Flora. She came here from New-New York years ago. My brother fell in love with her on sight.”

“I remember,” Leela exclaimed, “J.B. told me about it!” Her brow furrowed, “But why didn’t he recognize the resemblance when he met Sally at our wedding?”

Taz spoke up, “Our brother is a brilliant lawyer, but he sometimes overlooks the obvious.”

Fry shook his head, “Boy, I thought I was clueless. Even I can see the resemblance.”

“Stop putting yourself down, Fry.”

“Sorry.”

Leela reached out, giving Fry’s hand an affectionate squeeze. Then she turned her attention to the photograph. After a moment of deliberation, Leela said, “As soon as this mutant scare blows over, I’ve got a lot of questions for my family. But it seems that I’m at least part Kershaw somehow.”

Varney smiled, “Welcome to the family my dear.”

Aboard the Resilient, Enroute to Earth, July 3, 1900 (7 p.m.)

Sarah paced the deck of the bridge. Her beautiful face was frozen in a mask of concentration as her mind focused on recent events. XT and CosmicF had seen that look before, so they busied themselves with other tasks.

The process of unloading the turbidium at Syria Planitia had gone smoothly, she thought with some satisfaction. Once that was finished, she had searched the DOOP Department of Defense databases for any information on the craft that had hijacked the Resilient.

Everything pointed to the Nimbus. Although there was no ‘smoking gun’, Sarah knew in her heart-of-hearts that Zapp Brannigan lay at the bottom of the whole mess.

A smile flickered across her lips as she thought of bringing this mystery to James. James…what was she going to do about him? Could their long-distance relationship work? Sarah knew that she loved being with him, but she wasn’t sure if she could give up her life as a Space Captain for a more domestic role.

“Take a deep breath,” she muttered. After all, it was a bit premature to be thinking of permanent relationships. James hadn’t proposed anything permanent. In fact, he might just be content with the way things stood.

Forcing her mind back to the present, Sarah barked out, “XT is that bloody poofter Brannigan in range?”

XT smiled at Sarah’s slur on Brannigan’s sexuality, “Negative. I’ve been tracking the Nimbus closely. They departed the solar system over an hour ago.”

Sarah stiffened, “On what course?”

“They were headed on an azimuth for the Galaxy of Terror.”

“What could he want there?” she wondered out loud. Conscious that XT was awaiting further instructions, Sarah smiled, “Good work. Keep an eye peeled for that bugger. He’s up to no good, I’ll be bound.”

“Roger.”

With Brannigan out of the way for a short while, Sarah paused to consider the recent events on Earth and how they could be tied in to their hijacking. To be sure, it was a mystery of the first water.

Prohibition or no, Sarah was determined to visit her friends. “If Leela hasn’t gotten out of town, she’ll be held up with her rellies for certain,” Sarah thought. “Silly arsed prejudiced buggers,” she muttered aloud as she thought about the New-New York authorities and their attitude toward mutants.

“Besides, I’ve got a photo album to deliver,” she breathed with a smile.

The Oaks, Outside Charleston, South Carolina, July 4, 0100 (1 a.m.)

The roar of the hand grenade reverberated in Leela’s ears. When the smoke and dust began to settle, she stood up while shaking Fry off her back.

“What’s wrong with you, Fry? Why did you knock me down? What was that noise?”

She looked at Fry lying on the ground. He looked like he was asleep.

“Come on Fry, get up.” Leela bent over and shook him. She tried to get him on his feet, but she lost her grip and he flipped over onto his face. It was then that she saw the blood.

She tried to scream “Medic!” but no sound would issue from her throat.

Then she sat bolt upright in the bed. Bathed in sweat, she was trembling like a leaf. “A nightmare,” she thought, “it was all a nightmare.”

Glancing to her side, Leela could see Fry sprawled carelessly on top of the sheets. The moonlight streaming in through the window illuminated his features. He was snoring lightly, with a smile on his lips.

Swinging her legs off the side of the bed, Leela planted her feet gingerly on the floor. The dream had been so real! She couldn’t go back to sleep, but she didn’t want to awaken Fry with her tossing and turning. So, she pulled on her green silk robe and went to check on Sally.

A few steps brought her to the door to Sally’s room, which was on the same side of the hall as Fry and her room. She opened the door very cautiously. The sight that met her eye made her feel a bit more at ease.

Sally was lying loose limbed in the very center of the huge canopied bed. She was dwarfed by the forms of Prometheus and Pompey, who flanked her on either side. One of the hounds…she could not tell which one in the pale moonlight…lifted it’s massive head to gaze imperturbably in Leela’s direction. It was as if he were saying, “Your young one is safe with me. Go and rest.”

Leela withdrew silently. For a moment, she stood indecisive in the hallway. Then she turned and headed upstairs to the gallery. The stairway she took emerged right next to the portrait she wanted to see.

She was surprised that the curtains were drawn back and the light above the picture was on, illuminating Eula Mae Barnwell’s features. Leela stood there for some time, simply gazing at the picture. “No doubt about it,” Leela thought, “we are related in some manner.” The likeness was uncanny. Except for the two eyes, it was like looking in a mirror.

“What kind of person were you?” she whispered to the silence. “What sort of woman can leave such a gap in their family’s lives that they cannot bear to be reminded of their loss?”

Receiving no answer from the silence, Leela fell silent as well. She wondered how everyone would react if anything happened to her. Like a mob of crows attacking an owl, thoughts of her own death fluttered about her mind. Then, just as suddenly, they were gone.

“Fry loves me,” she found herself thinking, “and others love me too.” She thought about her family, both those who were her blood relations and those who had become like family…the whole crazy, dysfunctional, wonderful Planet Express crowd.

Reaching up and giving Eula a pat on the cheek, Leela turned on her heel and headed back downstairs. She padded silently into the bedroom, where Fry lay as she had left him. Shedding her robe, Leela crawled carefully into bed.

She placed her head gently on Fry’s chest. He stirred slightly but did not awaken. She lay there quietly, comforted by the touch of the man she loved. Soon the rhythmic beating of his heart lulled her to sleep.

New-New York Police Department Headquarters’, Commissioner’s Office Conference Room July 4, 1230 (12:30 p.m.)

Ramon sat at the head of the conference table, waiting for the rest of the staff to arrive. Floating in the air next to him was a pulsating green sphere of energy. It was an energy being who went by the name of M-5438. He was a cop from the Andromeda Galaxy who had often been to the Earth on liaison visits.

His high voice had initially annoyed Ramon, but he had gotten used to it. After working several cases together, they had become friends. They had even found a common interest, musical theater.

One-by-one the staff filed in. First to arrive were Sal and Lip, followed rapidly by Captain LeBlanc, Mike Wigglesworth, and Duncan Kriebel. Once they were all seated, Ramon spoke up, “This is M-5438, a cop from the Andromeda Galaxy. He’s tracking someone who might have a bearing on the mutant situation.”

Everyone looked expectantly at M-5438, who said in his high pitched voice, “Thank you Commissioner. Last month I was on the trail one of our most dangerous criminals…Z-6666. After over eleven hundred of your years in prison, he managed to escape. I tracked him to Tergon 5 before I lost him.”

Sal hooted with laughter, “Why would an energy being go to a pleasure planet?”

“We are able to meld with willing humanoid hosts. I’ve done it many times myself. We can experience your pains and pleasures…quite a novelty.”

Captain LeBlanc’s right eyebrow arched, “So, what does this have to do with us?”

This criminal likes to come to Earth and cause trouble. He’s been known by several names, Genghis Kahn, Jack the Ripper, and Adolf Hitler are but a few. He’s always managed to disassociate himself from the human host before their death. So he lives to cause more trouble.”

LeBlanc looked interested, “So, what makes you think he came here?”

“We tracked his energy signature to Tergon 5. Then his residual signature, which fades after prolonged merging with a material creature, pointed toward New-New York. When I heard news of the mutant situation here, I deduced he was here.”

Duncan raised his hand, “Does the host have any control over his actions?”

There was a brief pause, “Z-6666 directs and amplifies the evil impulses of his host. However, he does not completely control the host.”

Mike asked, “Is there any way to separate them?”

“Yes, but first we have to detect them.”

“So how do we do that?”

“I can show you how to construct a device to do it. Unfortunately, it is of very short range, just a few dozen feet. Also, it is line-of-sight.”

“Great,” Duncan moaned.

Ramon broke in, “What this all boils down to is that this cabron of an alien probably has a hand in stirring up the latest trouble here in New-New York. Let’s build this device so we can start the search. We’ve already got one prime suspect. So let’s get cracking.”

The Oaks, Outside Charleston, South Carolina, July 4, 1800 (6 p.m.)

J. B. paced back and forth on the hill overlooking the Oaks. He had parked his hovercar along the roadside, wanting to take a few moments to compose himself before seeing Leela and Sally. “What a fool I’ve been,” he said quietly to the open air.

In his mind, he had been a terrible fool. Why hadn’t he seen the resemblances? What had his grief done to his mind?

When Sarah had shown him the Turanga family album, it all became crystal clear to him. Flora hadn’t died! She had gone and hidden herself away, pregnant with their child. The black rage came over him, threatening to steal away his self-control. Damn his female relations for driving her away with their prejudice and sharp tongues!

As soon as he realized Flora was alive he sent word to her through Munda. His note was brief:

My Beloved Flora:

You are alive! I beg that you will allow me to see you. I curse the day when my ignorant relatives drove you away.

My love for you has not diminished in the slightest degree. No, it has grown. I long to hold you in my arms again and to pick up our lives where we left off.

All My Love,

Joseph

She sent a message back. It read:

My Dear Joseph,

I cannot see you at present, though I very much want to. Truly, I would rather perish than to cause you pain or shame. Once the current madness has passed, I will rush into your arms once again.

Please go see your descendants, Leela and Sally. They need your strength.

Know that my love for you is timeless. You are and always will be, my only love.

With All My Love,

Flora

He glanced toward the mansion, where he could see Varney and Sally sitting on the verandah side-by-side in a matched pair of rocking chairs, rocking in rhythm. Tears clouded his eyes as he thought of how he and Flora had rocked in those same chairs, so many years ago.

Using the back of his hand to roughly brush the tears away J.B. smiled briefly. He knew that Varney was probably telling Sally some story about the family. Family…Lord she looked like Flora! Only her hair was different, golden brown instead of brick red. “I wonder if she has a tail?” he muttered.

J.B. glanced at his Wristamajigy. He knew that they were waiting on him, but he needed a bit more time. Time…all that wasted time when he and Flora could have been together! “I’ll waste no more time,” he breathed savagely, “nor will I allow the opinion of others to sway me.”

“Let’s see,” he said in his courtroom voice, “As near as I can tell, Leela is my Great-Granddaughter and Sally is my Second Great Granddaughter. My own daughter has been dead these past twenty-nine years and my darling Flora is still alive, somewhere in a New-New York sewer.”

He turned towards the waiting hovercar. He got behind the wheel, buckled in, and started the engine. “It’s time I got to know my grandchildren,” he said to the surrounding trees. Then he sped down the hill, lighter in heart than he had been for seventy years.

James Martindale’s Apartment, 1202 East 49th Street, Apartment 404, July 5, 3004, 0530 (5:30 a.m.).Sarah had arrived at James’ apartment around nine in the evening on the 4th. She had not slept in almost 48 hours and was desperately tired. Still, she had to fill James in on all that had happened over the past two days. After telling her remarkable story, she had smiled and said, “Jimbo, do you mind terribly if I crawl into your bed for a bit of a nap? I don’t believe I can make it to my flat.”

James had returned her smile, “Go right ahead, I’ll be in later.”

“Lovely,” was all Sarah managed as she headed off for her nap.

Now James was looking at her still-sleeping form as he sat up in bed in the pre-dawn. The pieces of the puzzle that Sarah had provided absolutely convinced him that Brannigan was behind the entire mutant scare.

From what James had pieced together, Brannigan had profited mightily from attacking relatively harmless or powerless “enemies” of DOOP. He was always lurking in the background, jackal-like, waiting to pounce on such fearsome enemies as the retiree people of the Gandhi Nebula or the peace-lovers of Eden Seven.

James muttered, “What a piece of work!”

Normally, he would have gone after Brannigan right away. Unfortunately, several things kept him from doing so. First, Brannigan was not even in the Galaxy at the present. He was in the Galaxy of Terror, attacking a defenseless planet in order to take attention off the mutant “terrorist” incidents.

Next, all of the other criminals he had dealt with were just that…criminals. Zapp Brannigan still had the reputation, however undeserved, as DOOP’s greatest hero. Moving against someone like Zapp required absolute, iron-clad proof. If he gave Brannigan what he really deserved, he would have every cop in DOOP on his trail.

That didn’t bother him. He did worry about possible repercussions against Sarah. Brannigan had many powerful and unsavory friends who would have no scruples about using Sarah to hurt “the Red Shadow.”

“No,” he muttered fiercely, “I’ll not lose her.”

Sarah stirred slightly and murmured something indistinct as a smile flickered across her face. James touched her cheek softly, feeling a love for her that he had never thought could ever find it’s place in his heart again.

James made up his mind; he would build a case so good that even a really dumb jury would convict Brannigan. Then he would hand it over to New-New York’s Finest to make the arrest.

James slid quietly from the bed. Crossing the room, he entered the closet that led to his tesseract. He had a lot to do before Sarah would be safe. Just as he entered fourth dimensional space James said grimly, “Look out Zapp, the Red Shadow is closing in on you.”

Buddies