DISASTER ON RORI!
Colfax, planet Rori
Twenty thousand are either dead or missing and another one hundred thousand are injured following a series of explosions on the farming planet Rori today. The DOOP Departments of Agriculture and Internal Security and the DOOP Military Police are investigating. There have been numerous reports of an increase in pirate activity in the sector over the last few weeks….
Galactic News Service, August 24, 3006 00:15 Eastern Daylight Time (Earth equivalent)
“Good news, everyone!,” the Professor shouted as he walked into the kitchen. He frowned as he noticed that none of the crew was at the table for the morning meeting. Looking at his watch, he saw that it was 4:30 AM. He’d been up for hours already, and he couldn’t understand why none of those lazy, good for nothing kids were at work yet.
He wandered toward the lounge where he found Fry snoring away where he had passed out hours earlier after “winning” a drinking contest against the toaster. Shaking his head and making a “Tsk”-ing sound, he shuffled across the room and grabbed his new invention, the Finglonger. Swinging wildly, he found his aim and whacked his uncle on the head.
“OW!,” Fry yelled, still half asleep. “Damn it, Bender, that hurt.” He tried to roll over and go back to sleep, but the Professor kept hitting him.
“Wake up, you turtle-brained waste of xenon.”
“Aww, it’s still dark out,” Fry whined. “Do I have to?”
“Yes, damn it. I’ve got good news.”
Fry groaned. His head was pounding, his mouth was dry, and now his nephew had some suicidal mission for the crew. Sighing, he said, “What’s the-.”
“Good news, everyone,” the Professor said, interrupting him. “There’s been a horrible farming accident on the planet Rori. Thousands dead and injured. The living envy the dead. On my, yes.”
“That sounds horrible,” Fry said yawning. “What part do I care about again?
“The money part, you ignoramus,” the Professor snapped. “I need you to go to this address and pick up the cargo and a passenger to transport to Rori. You need to be ready to leave as soon as possible.”
“Why do I have to go again?”
“Because you’re the delivery boy,” the Professor thundered. “Now quit your jibba-jabba and get out of here.”
Grumbling, Fry pulled his coat on as he headed to the landing bay to get the hover dolly.
The sun was still thinking about coming up as Fry led the hover dolly toward the address that the Professor had given him. Wishing he had been able to talk Hermes into buying the guidance package for the new hover dolly, Fry trudged through the predawn streets to the Temple District, wishing he was anywhere but here.
No, he thought. There’s one place I’d rather be than any other. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out his keys and just stared at one of them. The purple one.
A few months ago, Leela had given him a key to her apartment. Just in case, she said. Whatever. All it meant now was that when she had dates, he had to go over and walk Nibbler. Or comfort her with booze after a bad date. He was getting into her apartment, but if she wasn’t there, what was the point? And if they were drinking, and one of them would pass out, nothing would happen anyway. So, again, what was the point? He sighed, slid the key back into his pocket, and pulled out the piece of paper the Professor gave him. Double checking the address, he nodded. He was here.
The building was a small, two-story blue brick structure with figure eights on the old fashioned wooden doors. Looking around, he saw symbols of a few religions, but the only ones he recognized were the one for Robotology and Oprahism. He had no idea what this wacko cult of 8 worshippers believed, and he didn’t really care. His job was to collect the package and the passenger and get them loaded onto the ship. He reached out and rang the bell.
After a few minutes, a sleepy young girl in a light blue robe opened a hatch almost at his eye level. “Yes?,” she asked.
“I’m from Planet Express,” he replied. “You have a package and a passenger for me to pick up.”
“Just a minute,” she said, sliding the hatch shut.
Fry sat down on the dolly. Just a quick rest, he though. He woke with a start, a woman gently shaking him.
“Excuse me,” she said in a soft, musical voice. “Are you here for the delivery?”
Sleep still in his eyes, Fry looked into the face of an angel.
From what he could see of her, she was the single most beautiful woman that he had ever seen. She was wearing a full habit that covered her from head to toe, except for a small oval around her face. The material was dark brown and black, and her skirt was cut to the knees to aid in walking. Through the slit, he could see she was wearing pants of the same color and knee-high boots of soft leather. The gloves on her hands stretched up into her sleeves, stopping who knew where. But it was her face that drew him in. Her skin was olive green, and her bottom lip and what he could see of her chin were tattooed black. Her lower lip was completely black, and her chin had interlocking figure eights. But it was her eyes… They were a bright sapphire blue, brighter and bluer than anything natural had any right to be.
She was so exotic looking. So beautiful. He was in love.
“I, uh, buh, huh?,” he stammered.
She smiled and repeated. “You are from Planet Express? You are here to pick up a passenger and some packages?”
“Yes,” he croaked. “Philip J. Fry, at your service, uh, Sister…”
“Jadzia,” she said smiling. “I am Sister Jadzia of the Order of Myslaxa. It is a pleasure to meet you, Philip Fry.”
“Just call me Fry,” he said, sticking his hand out. “Everyone does.”
She cocked her head sideways and blinked at him a few times before it dawned on her what he was doing. Smiling and nodding her head, she shook his hand. Fry felt some small surge of electricity when she touched him and tried to keep the joy off of his face.
“It would not be proper to do so, Philip Fry. Most beings that I have met like to be called by their full names.”
“You haven’t met too many humans, have you?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I have only been on Earth for a few days. I spent most of my life at our convent on Ossus.”
“That’s very interesting,” he said, and for the first time in his life, he meant it. He just stared at her. She had a lilting accent that he had never heard before. He loved it. She could read the phone book and he wouldn’t care.
Taking her hand back, she said “Should not we get going?”
“What? Oh, yeah. The delivery. Where’s the stuff?”
Her head was pounding and it felt like there was broken glass under her eye. She hadn’t even showered or put her contact in before she left. She smelled like a mixture of the perfume she wore on last night’s botched date and the cheap whiskey that she drank herself blind on when she got home.
“Stupid Fry,” she grumbled. “Never there when I need him. He knew I had a date last night, and instead of going out and getting some good stuff and being there for me like he always, he passes out trying to out drink the toaster. I could have told that idiot that he’d never win. That stupid toaster does nothing all day but drink. And then his stupid nephew! Calling me at 5 AM, expecting me to come to work on the weekend when I’m still three-quarters in the bag.”
When a passing lizard pushing a food cart of some kind looked at her strange, she realized she’d been talking to herself. Blinking, she realized she looked like hell, smelled like cheap whiskey, and was talking to herself. To hide her embarrassment, she snarled at the lizard, “What are you lookin’ at, tongue boy? You never seen an angry Cyclops before? Now get out of here before I decide I don’t like the way you’re lookin’ at me!” As the lizard scrambled away, Leela felt both better and worse at the same time.
Soon, she was unlocking the front door of the Planet Express office. Her head still pounding, she headed into the hanger. Fry wasn’t back yet, but that didn’t surprise her. He was probably lazing he way to pick up point or lazing his way back, having no concern for the passenger, the package, or his co-workers, as usual. Sighing in irritation, she headed to the elevator. They were supposed to leave as soon as Fry got back with the passenger, but unless she got some strong coffee into her right now, they weren’t going anywhere.
The only thing that made her feel better about this delivery was that it was apparently some humanitarian trip. She had heard something about some explosions on the planet Rori last night, but since she had been out on another lousy date with another jerk and then she tried to hunt drown Fry, she didn’t know many of the details. When he called, the Professor said something about a lucrative payday and a huge tax write off, but no details about what they would be doing or what they should expect.
Leela was finishing up the pre-flight checklist half an hour later when Bender walked onto the bridge.
“Hey, Big Boots,” he said loudly. “How was your date last night? And by date, I mean public embarrassment.”
“Blow it out your oil hole, Bender,” she said. “I’m not in the mood.”
“That’s not what you were saying last night before you left,” he replied. “But, I see it went as well as usually. Where’s Fry?”
“How the hell should I know?,” she said. She was starting to feel a stabbing pain in her eye. This day just kept getting better and better.
“What do you mean you don’t know?,” Bender asked as he sat at his station and pulled out a cigar. “Didn’t you go crying to him like you usually do when you crash and burn with a guy who isn’t him?”
“No,” she said through gritted teeth. “That jerk passed out in the lounge trying to out drink the toaster. And it has nothing to do with any guy I date not being him. He’s just not my type, ok.”
“Sure, Leela,” Bender said. “Whatever you say. Wait, if you don’t know where he is, and I don’t know where he is, where the hell is he?”
“I told you, how the hell should I know where he is?,” Leela replied. “But if he doesn’t get his ass here soon, I’ll…”
She was cut off as the door opened. Fry was standing there with a short, green skinned woman dressed like a nun of some kind. “Hey guys,” he said. “The packages are secured in the hold. This is our passenger, Sister Jadzia of the Order of Mistakes. I think.”
“Myslaxa,” she said. “It is a pleasure to meet you Mr. Bender and Captain Turanga Leela. I will try and stay out of your way for the duration of our trip to Rori.
Her voice was beautiful and musical. Her accent, green skin, and bright blue eyes made her seem beautiful beyond words. Leela hated her.
“Sit down on the couch, Sister,” Leela said abruptly. “And you,” she said turning to face Fry, fury plain on her face, “what took you so long? You knew we were in a hurry. Now sit down, shut up, and strap in. We’re leaving. Now!.”
Leela hadn’t really been that mad at Fry. Oh, he had irritated her by being late, and her hangover wasn’t helping matters, either. But that wasn’t what set her off. It was the way he was looking at the Sister.
It was the way he usually looked at her.
DISASTER ON RORI: UPDATE!!!
Colfax, planet Rori
Intergalactic aid has started to come to Rori. However, several deliveries of the much needed medical and technical supplies have been stalled by attacks by the Feeorin Pirates. DOOP Secretary General Kon-drat has ordered a task force led by the DOOP’s flagship, the Nimbus, to help deal with these pirates and protect the ships ferrying the much needed supplies…
Galactic News Service, August 24, 3006 20:30 Eastern Daylight Time (Earth equivalent)
By the time they reached Saturn, Leela was setting the auto-pilot. Half way to Neptune, Leela stood up and started walking off the bridge. She grabbed Fry by the shoulder and said, “Come on, Fry. We’re going to have a little chat.”
“What is wrong, Captain Turanga Leela?,” Jadzia asked.
“Don’t worry about it, Sister,” she said, pushing Fry out the door ahead of her. “It’s just a little captain-crew discussion. Nothing to worry about.” The door quickly slide shut behind them.
“She’s going to yell at him.”
“For what, Mr. Bender?,” the Sister asked puzzled. “Philip Fry has done nothing wrong since I have been with him. He has been a perfect gentleman.”
“Knowing the eyeball, that’s probably the problem.” Bender shrugged and took a drink from his martini. “She’s probably just mad that he was passed out drunk last night when she needed him. And that he made her wait this morning. And that he’s an insensitive jerk. Meh. Those two fight like they’ve been married for years.”
“Are they involved in a romantic relationship?”
Bender laughed for several minutes before he answered. “No,” he said finally. “Fry’s been borderline stalking Leela for the last three years, but she doesn’t give him the time of day. In fact, she has actively tried to discourage him by dating other guys, asking him to walk her pet, and then crying on his shoulder after her dates inevitably go bad. Basically, treating him badly in the hope he’ll leave her alone.”
“Why would Philip Fry put up with this treatment? And why would Turanga Leela do that to a person who feels that way about her?”
“Ya got me, Sister. I have no idea why you organ sacks do half the things you do.”
“What the hell was that for, Leela?,” Fry said as he fell onto her bed.
“Where the hell were you last night?”
“What do you care? You were out with Miles,” Fry said mockingly. “Are you mad that I didn’t walk Nibbler? He’s got a litter box. Big deal if I missed one steamer. I guess you’ll have to carry it to the office instead of me.”
“That’s one reason,” she said evasively. “I needed you last night and you weren’t there.”
“You needed me? You needed me? Where have you been when I needed you?”
“I’ve been there for you plenty of times. Every time your stupid butt gets into trouble, who’s there to pull it out of the fire? Me, that’s who.”
“I’ve only been on fire once, and I got myself out of that, thank you very much.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about and you know it. Tri-Sol,” she said, ticking the times off on her fingers, “Wormulon, Shperon 1, the day we met, and the moon just to name five. Shall I continue?”
He stared at her stone faced. This is what she wanted, eh? Fine. “My stopping you from killing your parents, my making a deal with the Robot Devil to show the world how wonderful you are and how much I love you, how I’ve loved you pretty much since we’ve met, how I’ve never lied to you, how I never hurt you, how you divorced me after thinking I tricked you into marrying me,” he replied, his voice getting louder with every item. “How you’ve dated so many guys and I was there to pick you up, every time. How you constantly reject me for not being perfect, when all you do is date and sleep with jerks who end up dumping you. How I moved the damn stars for you, and you blew it up!”
“What are you talking about, Fry? When did you move the stars?”
“During the time skips,” he said bitterly. “I was backing up the ship while you were setting the timer. I saw it seconds before you turned it into a black hole.”
“Fine, Leela. Believe what you want.” Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his keys. Sliding the purple one off, he threw it at her. “And you can have this back. From now on, we’re co-workers. If this is how you treat loyal friends, then to hell with you.” Pushing past her, he stormed out of her cabin, tears in his eyes.
She stared at the key at her feet, wondering if she felt happy or not that she had finally gotten her way.
This day had gone from bad to worse, and it wasn’t over yet.
Her teeth and jaw were aching from holding in the long string of curses. First a bad date, then having to come to work with a hangover, then having to “break-up” with Fry, and now THIS. Filling the view screen was the last sight that she ever wanted to see: the Nimbus, flagship of the DOOP, and her jackass captain, Zapp Brannigan.
The call light had been blinking for several minutes. She knew who it was. Everyone knew who it was. As soon as she saw the Nimbus, she started counting slowly, just to calm herself down before answering the call she knew would come. She was on 273 and didn’t think she’d get any calmer any time soon. What the hell, she thought, reaching up to answer the video phone.
“Hello, Zapp,” she said, barely hiding her irritation.
“Planet Express delivery ship,” a voice that was NOT Zapp Brannigan said. It was harsh and accented. And female. “We’ve been trying to reach you for several minutes. Is there something wrong with your communication equipment?”
Leela stared open mouthed at the lizard creature that was on the other end of the call. An English lizard woman? She was wearing the proper uniform for a DOOP Captain, but where was the jackass? “Uh, negative, Nimbus,” she said, collecting herself as quickly as possible. “We were having an, uh, internal discussion. By the way, can I ask what happened to Captain Brannigan?”
“Fleet Admiral Brannigan,” it said, “has transferred his flag to the heavy cruiser Rand Ecliptic. I am Captain Morgan Grolsh. And now, Captain Turanga, since we have all the pleasantries out of the way, what are you doing in this system?”
“Delivering medical supplies and myself,” the priestess said. Leela nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard her voice. She hadn’t heard her sneak up on her. One more reason to hate the woman.
“And you are,” the Captain asked.
“I am Sister Jadzia of the Order of Myslaxa, Captain Morgan Grolsh,” she said with a bow. “My Order was contacted by the president of SandiCorp. They are a rather large food growing conglomerate on the north-.”
“Yes, I am familiar with your Order and SandiCorp,” the Captain snapped impatiently. “Do you have the proper code clearance?”
“What code clearance?,” Leela and the Sister said at the same time.
“The code clearance you need to transmit for me not to order your vapourization. Now, since it looks like you don’t have the code clearance, we’re going to have to take you ship aboard and go over it with a fine-toothed comb. Just to make sure you aren’t smugglers.”
“Smugglers,” Leela said indignantly. “Look in our file and you’ll see-.”
“That you’ve bent the law to the breaking point time and again, prompting my predecessor to lock you and your crew up repeatedly. Captain Turanga, you and your crew are a menace to the space lanes. I’m going to bring you aboard and give you all a thorough inspection. Oh, and, Captain, I don’t like meaty humanoid females like Fleet Admiral Brannigan. I won’t be as nice as he was the first time you two met. Nimbus out.”
“That Limey reptilian bitch,” Leela swore. “Who the hell does she think she is? I don’t believe I’m going to say this, but I think I’d rather have Zapp back.”
“That would be convenient. You could just sleep with him again and get us out of this,” Bender said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hide some contraband.”
“What does this mean?,” Sister Jadzia asked.
“It means,” Leela said, “that the DOOP is going to bring us onto the Nimbus and inspect everything on our ship. Then, when they’re satisfied that we’re not hiding something, they’ll let us go.”
“But we are not hiding anything, Turanga Leela. We said we were delivering medical supplies, and we are delivering medical supplies. When will we be able to go down to the planet’s surface?”
“When they’re satisfied.” Oh yeah, she thought. This is a great day.
“How much longer will this take? I’ve still got a delivery to make.” She was impatient. Leela hated the English, with their sophisticated sounding accents and snotty attitudes. They think they’re better than everyone else on Earth, she thought, when we New New Yorkers obviously are. This stupid overgrown gecko was putting her far behind schedule. The faster they got to the planet, the faster that stupid green-skinned nun got off her ship and the faster her life could return to normal.
“Oh, Captain Turanga, you have no idea how much trouble you’re in, do you?”
“What are you talking about, Grolsh? We’re clean. Well, except for Bender.”
“Mr. Rodriquez is the least of your worries, Captain. You’re partially correct, though. Your delivery boy and your passenger are clean. Your ‘cook’ is currently trying to fool my inspectors into believing that there’s no contraband on your ship. It is well known that his record is kilometers long. And your record, Captain, while not as long, is much more sordid.”
“My record? What in the name of Steve Martin are you talking about?”
“Let’s take a look, shall we,” Captain Grolsh hissed. She picked up a thick file and slammed it down onto the desk. “Leela, Turanga,” she began. “Captain and pilot of the Planet Express delivery ship. Accused of trespassing in restricted space, namely Virgon 6, Spheron 1, and Omega 3. Accused of assaulting a DOOP officer, namely then Captain Zapp Brannigan. Bribery of a DOOP officer, namely then Captain Zapp Brannigan.”
Looking up from the file to stare at her, Grolsh said, “Then Captain Brannigan arrested you for trespassing in the Virgon System. You slept with him. You were released. Exchanging something that one person values for something another values. That’s bribery. Now, where was I? Oh yes, desertion and dereliction of duty during the ‘Omicronian incident.’ Impersonation of a DOOP soldier during the war with the brain balls. Mail fraud against the Central Bureaucracy.”
“You claimed to be delivering a bending unit to the Central Bureaucracy. That unit was Mr. Rodriguez. You were searching for a disc that contained his brain, if the paperwork is to be believed. And, since they stamped it five times, it is to be believed. Oh here are my favorites: trafficking of the unborn and genocide.”
“The ‘Popplers incident,’ Ms. Turanga. You remember. You stole millions of Omicronian young and sold them as food to “Fishy” Joe Gelman.”
“The Omicronians got over that,” Leela said. “And why aren’t you going after ‘Fishy’ Joe for that, too?”
“Mr. Gelman has already paid a hefty fine, Captain. And he named you personally as his supplier. But you were never prosecuted by the DOOP. Apparently, Fleet Admiral Brannigan was protecting you. But now that I’ve got you, I’m going to make sure that the book is thrown at you and Mr. Rodriguez.”
Tapping her claw in a button, Captain Grolsh called the guards to take Leela away.
The lounge was dark, because she said she needed it dark for her meditation. That was fine by him. There was more than enough star light coming in through the large windows for him to see by. He had moved some tables for her, just so she could have enough space to pray. Their guard stayed by the door, bored by the whole proceeding.
Fry stood nearby, watching her. Sister Jadzia sat on the floor with her eyes closed, her legs crossed, ankles over her knees, and her hands resting on her ankles. She wore a small disc on a platinum chain with the infinity symbol on it hung from her neck. It was softly glowing blue as she chanted.
“Why the number 8?,” he had asked when she pulled it out of a pouch on her belt before she started
“It’s not an 8, Philip Fry,” she said, placing it around her neck. “It is the Lemniscate. It is my goddess’ symbol. It means that She is a being without constraint. We Myslaxians believe that She is the Life Mother. She is a healer and creator. She is present in all things that can create life. Thus, She is everywhere and in living everything. She is infinite.”
That was almost an hour ago, and Fry was still trying to wrap his head around the whole concept. Then the light switch clicked. They believed that Myslaxa was like the Force. That old guy and that Muppet had said that it surrounded us, penetrated us, and bound the galaxy together. When it came down to it, that’s what Jadzia believed that Myslaxa did. She wasn’t a nun of some wacko religion, she was a Jedi. Smiling at his ingenious understanding, he felt better. Jadzia will be impressed, he thought, watching her pray.
Her words started to come faster now, and he actually heard, but couldn’t understand, what she was saying. She was repeating the same thing over and over. It was a rhythmic chant that set his heart racing and gave him a strange feeling in his stomach and chest. He was getting excited. The feeling spread to his arms and legs, making them bounce restlessly. Suddenly, his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he involuntarily went to his hands and knees and started to crawl toward her, drawn by her chanting and by a feeling, a force, he couldn’t resist. Her eyes did the same, as she too went to all fours and began to crawl. All the while, the symbol hanging around her neck began to pulse the blue light in time with her chanting. With their heart beats.
When they reached each other, they knelt up straight and embraced. Fry’s hands roamed all over the Sister’s back, and she did the same to him. They rubbed their faces against each other’s faces, necks, shoulders, and chests, all the while, their hearts and Jadzia’s symbol beating out the same rhythm. Then their lips met.
It had been accidental, but it happened. They kissed like he had never kissed a woman before. It felt like they were becoming one. His body felt electrified, her blissful sensations coursing through him, and his through her. Their souls felt like they were touching.
Then, with a bright flash of blue light, they were back where they had started. Jadzia opened her eyes and stood up, stretching with a smile on her face, like she had just woken from a deep and restful sleep, where she had the most wonderful dream. Fry yawned, his lips still tingling, wondering if he had dreamt all of that.
“Hey, Leela,” Bender said as the guard turned the force field on.
“Hey Bender,” she said, rubbing her arms where the guards had been holding her. “What are you in for?”
“Bribery and smuggling. Apparently, it’s illegal to transport genetically engineered livestock without a permit. This new DOOP Captain has apparently forced some discipline on the troops, because, apparently, it’s illegal to bribe them when they find the illegal stuff you’re smuggling. Oh, and that’s on you, too. What’s gotten you in here?”
“Genocide. That whole Poppler thing. Apparently, if I were rich and paid a fine, there’d be no problems.”
“Don’t know. Don’t care, either,” she said, not looking at him. “He’s on his own.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
She sat in silence for a few minutes. Finally, she told him what happened between them earlier. “He threw my key at me. He said he doesn’t want to be my friend anymore. We’re just co-workers, he said.”
“Oh. Oh? What does ‘Oh’ mean?”
“Nothing. Just oh.”
“Out with it, lunchbox,” she said threateningly. “You’re computing something, and I want to know what it is.”
“Just that you’ve treated him like crap, even after he’s done all sorts of romantic things for you. He whines all the time about how he loves you and how he wishes you’d just give him a chance to prove it, and how much he hates when you go out with jerks and they treat you like a chump.”
“And how glad I am that he finally told you to shove it.”
“You heard me. He’s my best friend, and you’ve treated him like he was Zoidberg, no matter what he does. He just wanted you to like him, and you used him and dumped on him almost every chance you got. I know he’s annoying at times, but when it all comes down to it, Fry’s OK for an organ sack.
“When I start killing all humans, he’s probably the only one that I’m not going to kill. Or at least I’ll do it quickly so he doesn’t suffer. But not you. You’ve treated him like a chump, and I don’t like it, Leela. You’re eventual death will be slow and painful.”
“You ingrate. After everything I’ve done for you?”
“Getting you out of Robot Hell.”
“Try again, Big Boots. I got YOU out of Robot Hell. And by making me sin my way out of that crappy religion, you were the one who sent me there in the first place.”
“Uh…,”she began, but stopped when the ship shook and the lights went out.
“Cheese it,” Bender yelled, running through the now open cell door. Surprised, the guard fell in a heap as Bender punched him in the head. The bright white emergency lighting turned on and distantly Leela heard the Red Alert sirens going off.
“Come on, Bender,” she said turning right. “The hanger bay is this way. We’ve got to get off of this tub.”
“What about Fry and what’s her name?”
“They’re on their own, Bender. Anything that can force a ship this size to lose power, even for a few minutes, can cause enough damage to kill us all. Besides, there’s nothing we can do for Fry if we’re dead. I’m sorry Bender. We have to leave him. We’ll come back and rescue him later”
He just glared at her. “I hate it when you’re right, you know that? Good bye, meat bag,” he said tearing up. “I’ll miss you.”
Grabbing the guard’s rifle, Leela led them toward the hanger deck.
They had almost no warning. One second Fry was walking toward the bar to get the two of them a drink, and the next he was holding tight to the bar rail as the air in the lounge was being sucked out into the vacuum. Jadzia, he was happy to see, was holding onto a railing herself. Their guard wasn’t so lucky. Fry could see him floating away into the void. They did have a more serious problem, though.
The wreckage of the small starfighter that had caused the window to be blown out in the first place was still sitting partially in the frame, stopping the blast door from coming down and sealing the breach. While it wasn’t as bad as right after the initial impact, air was still flowing out at an alarming rate. Fry was pretty sure that this wouldn’t end well if he didn’t act fast. Looking around, he saw what they needed. When the lounge was breached, the escape pods powered up. Taking as deep a breath as he could, he let go of the bar rail.
The air was flowing out faster than he had anticipated. Jadzia’s eyes went wide as Fry sailed over her head and slammed into a pillar, driving the air from his lungs. Black spots filling his vision, Fry took another breath and started to crawl toward the rail. But he was starting to get worried. The hurricane-like flow of air had slowed down considerably. Even his foggy mind told him that that was a very bad sign. It meant that there was starting to be little difference between the air in the lounge and the vacuum outside. They had to get to the escape pod and get there fast.
Risking it, he pushed off the floor and half jumped, half floated to the rail that Jadzia was holding on to. As he reached her, her grip failed and she floated gently into his arms. The spots were filling his vision more and more, and his lungs were screaming for air. Holding the now unconscious priestess in his arms, Fry jumped again, hoping he’d be conscious long enough to save her. He was teetering on the edge of unconsciousness as they cleared the bar. He had just enough left to drop Jadzia into the pod before he fell on top of her. Reaching blindly, he started hitting buttons on the control panel. He hit the big red one as he lost consciousness. The explosive charge blew the escape pod away from the Nimbus.
The whine of the Planet Express engines was drowned out by the sounds of explosions as the pirate corvettes and fighters hammered the Nimbus. Surprisingly, the forward landing bay was empty of both ground personnel and ships. The Nimbus must be in real trouble, Leela thought. Good. It’d serve that lizard right.
“Punch it, Leela,” Bender said running onto the bridge. “That force field should be coming down any second now.”
Leela lifted the ship off the ground when she saw the bay door control panel spark and explode. As soon as the shield dropped, she flew fast out of the bay, heading for deep space. The scene before he shocked her. The Nimbus was surrounded by three pirate corvettes. She’d been watching the shipping news and knew by the markings that the ships belonged to the Feeorin Pirates. Where the group had hid three ships that size was beyond her.
She didn’t know much about ships that size, but she guessed that even with a skeleton crew, they needed somewhere around 25 well-trained people to run it, even slaved with robots. Add to that the pilots for the fighters that she saw flying around, and the raiders that she knew pirate ships carried, and she’d guess that there were at least 50 or so people on each of those ships. And they must be very confident and very well trained if they thought they could take out the Nimbus. Or very stupid.
Lasers from the Nimbus and the corvettes flooded space. And what wasn’t filled with lasers was filled with fighters and debris, as all four ships had apparently launched everything they had at each other.
“Bender, get up top and try and clear us a way out of this mess.”
“Screw you, eyeball,” he said, getting up and walking off the bridge. “You left Fry to die. What do I care if you get fried? As long as the ship doesn’t explode, I’ll be fine.”
“Damn it, Bender, you know why I did that,” she yelled over her shoulder. But she was greeted by the sound of the bridge door sliding shut.
“Stupid robot,” she muttered. “Damn you Fry for making me do this. If only you’d have listened to me years ago, I wouldn’t be having this problem. We’d all be on this ship and flying for our lives like usual. Instead, I have to do something I’m already regretting.”
Spinning the wheel, Leela brought the ship about and started to head back toward the Nimbus.
Fry took a deep breath and started coughing. His vision swam for a few seconds before he recognized Jadzia’s beautiful and concerned face. She pulled a small vial of something that smelled horrible away from him and stuck it back into an open medkit on the floor next to her. He looked around and saw they were in a dark tube, spinning through space. The occasional flash of laser fire could be seen through the cockpit of their tiny cabin. It slowly dawned on him what had happened. He’d gotten them to the escape pod. He’d saved them. He’d saved HER. I’m a hero, he thought. WHAAA-HOOOOO!
“Philip Fry, I’m so pleased that you are not dead. I am very glad that saved my life. Thank you,” she said, putting her hand on the side of Fry’s cheek, a large smile on her face.
“No problem, Sister,” he said. “Anything for a friend.” Inside, he was doing every victory dance he could think of. He didn’t think that this could get any better, all things considered.
He crawled to his feet and moved to the pilot’s chair. Scanning the controls, he found they had very few options. The pilot really couldn’t do anything but radio for help and plot the course for the nearest habitable planet. Hitting a few buttons, Fry plotted a course for the closest planet, Rori’s moon, Tasia. They would be there in less than an hour, giving him plenty of time to call for help and tell Jadzia how great he was. He saved her life. That had to count for something, didn’t it?
“Philip Fry, what are you doing up there? You have just recovered from a serious injury. Oxygen deprivation and vacuum exposure are not things to be taken lightly.”
“Don’t worry, Sister. I just set us on a course to the closest habitable planet. Rori’s moon, Tasia. We’ll be there in a little bit. I’m going to try and call for help.”
“Be careful, Philip Fry,” she said, putting her hand on his arm. “There is apparently some sort of space battle being fought all around us. We may not get rescued by anyone friendly to our cause.”
“Don’t worry, Jadzia,” he said, patting her hand gently. Her hand through the glove was warm and this close she smelled wonderful. The smell of her tickled a memory of that…dream he had had in the lounge. It was the only thing he could think of. He had fallen asleep and dreamt all of those things. But if that was what happened, why did he feel that same excitement in his chest when she touched his arm? “I’ll be careful.”
Turning on the communications device, Fry started to scan the various frequencies. He passed by the various military channels, despite what the escape pod’s computer wanted. It took Fry several minutes to deactivate the auto-select feature, because the pod kept trying to raise the Nimbus. Eventually, he heard a familiar voice: Bender’s. A few months back, Bender had changed the ship’s message from a generic “Please Hold,” to Bender singing the praises of, who else, himself.
Who’s the hero now, Leela?, he thought. Hitting the call button, Fry said into the mic, “Planet Express ship, this is escape pod…uh, 1. We need a pick up. Over.” Getting no response, he instructed the pod to repeat it until they got a response. Turning around, he smiled at Jadzia. “See. No problems. Now we just wait until…”
He was cut off by a laser blast that shook the pod, throwing them both to the ground, Fry on top of her. Face to face, Fry had to fight hard not to kiss her, like he did in that dream. They stared deeply into each other’s eyes for a few seconds, before slowly (but much more quickly than he wanted) Fry got off of her and sat back down in the pilot’s chair. Looking at the controls, Fry suddenly had the realization that he had no idea what he was doing. Getting the ship to track to the closest planet and turning on the radio was one thing. Flying an unfamiliar ship while being shot at was something completely different. Gotta do something, he thought. Gotta save her life again. She’ll be really impressed by that.
“Escape pod 1,” a familiar voice said. Leela, he thought. “Fry, is that you?”
“Leela. I’m glad you remembered us.”
“Don’t you start, Fry,” she snapped. “It’s bad enough I had to deal with Bender. I don’t need you piling on.”
“Are you going to rescue us Leela or just whine while I’m being shot at?”
“Fine,” she said. He really meant it, she thought. He doesn’t want me anymore. She was still unsure how she felt about that. “Stay on this channel. I’ll be right there. You got maneuvering thrusters on that thing, Fry.”
She’s finally severed It, he thought. It wasn’t what she said, but how she said it. She doesn’t care, just like she’s always said. It hurt a lot more than he thought it would. “I’ve got limited control, Captain. The computer has us set on course for Tasia.”
“Which one’s that?,” she asked, making adjustments. Over the internal comms, she said, “Bender get up here. Fry’s in trouble.”
“The green one straight ahead of me, Captain. I told you, we’re locked on target for it.”
“No need to get snippy, Fry. I’ve got three green ones on my screen and I don’t know which little blip is you. I’m trying to track you now.” The bridge door opened and Bender walked in. “’Bout time you got here,” she said. “Get on your station and try and track Fry’s escape pod.”
“Yes, but not for much longer if we don’t do something about it.”
“Hold on, Fry,” he said over the emergency channel. “You best buddy Bender’s coming to rescue you!”
Grinding her teeth in irritation, Leela turned the ship toward Tasia and started pouring on the speed.
“Captain, we’re reading something big coming toward us. What is it?”
Looking at the scanner, Leela gasped. One of the corvettes had broken off from the Nimbus. It was badly damaged, but still space-worthy, and more than a match for an unarmed escape pod and the Planet Express ship. Her captain was wisely taking her out of the fight, but he must have detected the escape pod, too. Prisoners were always valuable. If there was no ransom, there was always slavery.
“Hang on, Fry. There’s a big ship turning you way. We’re going to try and distract them. Bender, get topside and start shooting.” He surprised her by not even asking for money first. Taking her ship against a small capital ship was something that Leela had never wanted to do. But, she thought, love makes you do stupid things sometimes. She blinked, stunned. Where had that come from? Shaking it off and filing it away for later, Leela flew between the escape pod and the corvette, allowing Bender to get a few well placed shots off.
“That got their attention, Bender,” she yelled as the corvette opened fire on them. “Just keep ‘em busy until I can swing us back around to collect the pod.”
“Can do,” he yelled back.
“Hang on, Fry,” she said over the channel. “We’re coming back your way.”
“Make it fast, Leela,” he said, voice edging on panic. “We’ve been hit a few times, and we’re losing power.”
“Just hang on, Fry,” she said desperately. “I’m coming.”
Tasia was starting to fill the short range scanner now. But so were two of the corvette’s fighters. Escaping from battle with the DOOP, the fighters were running back home while they still had one. Spotting Fry’s pod, the fighters flew in fast and strafed it, causing a shower of electrical sparks to fly from it.
“Leela, I-,” Fry said, but was cut off in a burst of static. Bender fired into the same space, destroying both of the fighters. There was a large explosion and debris everywhere, but no trace of the escape pod.
Leela’s heart stopped. She started scanning all frequencies, looking for any life signs. She kept repeating his name, over and over, begging him to respond. No one answered. She fell out of her chair.
Fry was dead.
She killed him by not trying to save him before they left the Nimbus. He loved her, and she pushed him away, abandoning him in the end, to save herself. She realized too late what her thought meant before. Love makes you do stupid things sometimes. She loved him. She had loved him for a long time, but never admitted it, even to herself, and certainly not to him. And now it was too late. He was dead. The only man that ever truly loved her was dead, and it was her fault.
She pounded the deck, screaming incoherently and sobbing, wishing she was dead.
For the first time in the three days since the ambush at Tasia, Captain Morgan Grolsh was able to sit. She had three day’s worth of paperwork to get through, and was looking forward to being off her feet for a while. The After-action report had finally made its way to her desk. Sipping her tea, she skimmed the summary: 248 dead or missing; 456 wounded; 14 fighters destroyed, but 10 pilots recovered; one escape pod lost; 22 enemy fighters destroyed; 12 torpedoes fired… Hang on, she thought. One escape pod lost? She blinked a few times, wondering. Flipping to the appropriate section of the report, she read:
Escape pod B1729-42 launched 22:39 24 August 3006 (ship time)
Pod Location: Forward Lounge, deck 6
Notes: Pod release automatically authorized by Central Computer based upon catastrophic failure of window 4, due to failure of blast window FL6-4 to completely deploy due to crash wreckage.
Life signs in pod: 2
Life sign analysis: Human: 1; near-human (Mirialan): 1
Current Status: Unknown; no wreckage found and/or rescue beacon not activated
End of report
One human, one near-human, she thought, tapping her claw on the desk. “That delivery boy and the priestess,” she said softly. “Very interesting.” She set the report off to the side and began going through the rest of her paperwork.
She was running through the smoke-filled halls of the Nimbus, staggering as explosions and weapons fire rocked the ship. The sounds of the space battle and the dying were everywhere. The Nimbus was in chaos, but she knew exactly where she was going: the VIP Lounge on Deck 6. She didn’t know how she knew, but that didn’t matter. They were there. HE was there. If she hurried, she could save him this time and tell him that she loved him. It was an unrealistic hope, but that was all she had left.
She came to a sudden stop as the deck collapsed in front of her. She pounded her left hand against the wall in frustration, but quickly pulled away as it started to burn. There must have been a fire raging out of control on the other side of the bulkhead. The ways forward and left blocked, she backtracked to a smoky corridor that she had bypassed earlier. She knew that she was running out of time, so she ran harder, knocking the walking wounded out of her way as she did. After what seemed an eternity, she found the door. Taking a deep breath and praying, she slapped the control button.
The scene inside was a different as she could have imagined. They weren’t in the VIP lounge on deck 6, they were in Zapp’s bedroom. Wall to wall velour and the richest-looking decorations that could be found across the galaxy greeted her. Then she saw the familiar heart-shaped bed at the front of the room and her heart stopped.
The Sister was on top of Fry, her naked and tattooed back to the door, and she was having the time of her life.
Jadzia turned her head and saw the look on Leela’s face. Smiling wickedly, she moaned, “Oh, please, do not stop, Philip Fry. Captain Turanga Leela has just arrived, and you know how much she likes to watch.”
“Yes, Sister,” Fry said, but his voice sounded odd. Mechanical, almost. Like he did when he thought he was a robot.
Laughing evilly, Jadzia said, “I am so sorry, Turanga Leela. You had your chance. Philip Fry is mine now. Until I tire of him, that is. Then I will likely kill him. And it is all thanks to you.” With that, her eyes flared a bright blue, and she slapped her hand down onto a large red button. The area around the bed closed into an escape pod that launched the pair to safety away from the dying Nimbus.
But the wall didn’t close behind them as they launched. Leela screamed in panic as she shot out into space, knowing that no one aboard Nimbus would be able to save her and she would be dead as soon as she tried to breathe.
She screamed as she sat up in bed. She was soaked with sweat and alcohol. Bleary-eyed, she looked over at her clock. 3:45 AM. About the time he died, she thought and started to cry again involuntarily. It had only been three days since he died, but it seemed like a lifetime to her. It was the same nightmare, every night: stumbling through the halls of the Nimbus, only to be greeted by the site of the two of them in bed together. Then they’d escape and leave her to die in the void. Just like she left him.
She got out of bed and staggered to the bathroom. Looking at herself in the mirror, she cringed. She looked like hell. She hadn’t showered in four days, since her disaster with Miles, and it was starting to show. Her hair was greasy and hung lifelessly around her face. She hadn’t left her apartment in three days and she hadn’t even bothered to brush out the tangles. Her face was a mess, too. Her nose was red and constantly running, and her eye was puffy and swollen. Three days of crying almost non-stop will do that to you, she thought, wiping her face and nose with her hand. She was going to have to shower soon, though. Today they were holding a memorial service for him.
Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last, Leela wished she was dead. And also not for the first time, she had to seriously resist the urge to do something about it.
Hours later, they all gathered in the backyard of a small, ruined house in Brooklyn, Old New York, to remember their friend. They were planning to each say a few words there and then take a capsule containing something that meant something to them about Fry and bury it in the backyard of his parents’ house. Leela would be making one additional trip, though: she was going to go to the ruins of Cypress Hills Cemetery and apologize to Fry’s parents for killing him. He had found where they had been buried a few weeks back, but hadn’t gotten the chance to visit them, and now, because of her, he never would.
Leela sat with her parents, avoiding her co-workers. They had all said how it wasn’t her fault and how she did the right thing, especially Hermes and the Professor. Bender still hadn’t said a word to her. She didn’t expect him to speak to her again. Not that I blame him, she thought, crying silently. I killed his best friend.
Hermes walked up there first, holding a piece of paper. Fry’s time card, Leela thought through her tears. He pulled out a lighter that Fry had found in his parents’ house the last time he was here and had painstakingly restored it and given it to Hermes on Jamaican Independence Day last year. Hermes lit the paper on fire and held it as it burned. “Philip J. Fry,” he said, his voice full of emotion, “you’re fired.” As it got down to the end, Hermes threw it into the capsule and walked back by his wife and son. LeBarbara comforted him as he cried.
The Professor shuffled up next. “I’ve only known my uncle for these last six years,” he said, “but I have to say, he was by far the oldest member of my family. And now that he’s gone, I’m the oldest again,” he said as he started to cry.
Cubert sighed and walked forward, carrying a bag containing glass vials. “The idiot’s blood and tissue samples,” he said as he put it into the capsule. Muttering, he led his father back to their seats.
Zoidberg shuffled up next. “Fry was always good to me. He fed me scraps from the table, he did. And he never hit me like the rest of you do.” Pulling out a piece of paper, he said, “A poem, I have written in his honor. In my own ink, no less.” Clearing his throat of some miscellaneous debris, he began, “You olde time wonder with hair of red… Ouch!,” he said as a brick hit him in the head.
“We don’t want to hear your crappy poem, Zoidberg,” Bender said, grabbing another brick from the ruin of the Fry house. “Stick it in the tube and move along.” Sobbing and holding his head, Zoidberg did as he was told and wandered back to his seat.
Amy walked up next and put a small, cloth wrapped object into the capsule. “Philip Fry may not have been the best lover I’ve ever had,” she said, staring directly at Leela, “but he was one of the sweetest and most gentle people I’ve ever known. Goodbye, Philip. I love you and I’m going to miss you.”
So, she thought as she watched Amy walk to her seat out of the corner of her eye. Amy’s siding with Bender. Not too surprising, since she pretty much hates me. And after everything I’ve tried to do for her.
Bender patted her on the shoulder as they passed in the aisle. Putting a small box into the capsule, he turned the crowed and just stared at all of them. Finally, he said, “I’ve known many humans and humanoid-type aliens in my life. Most of you are jerkbags and complete wastes of booze. Especially you, Leela.
“But not Fry. Philip J. Fry was my first friend, and I loved him. Not in the way of the Ancient Greeks, but the way a robot loves a human who’s only dream since he was six years old was to have a robot for a best friend. Fry was my best, first, and only friend,” Bender said as he started to cry. “The rest of you jerks don’t come close to the person he was. Especially you, Leela.”
Stunned, Leela just sat there for a few seconds before her mother nudged her. When she finally got to the capsule, she just stared blankly at all of them for a few minutes. Blinking, she placed a framed picture of the two of them into the tube. It had been taken during the time skips a few years back. She had found it a few months ago while she was cleaning out a closet, but she had never shown it to anyone. They both looked so happy. I will not cry again, she swore to herself. Not yet.
“My best and truest friend is dead,” she said. “And I killed him. By not going back to save him, I killed him. He loved me and I let him die. He never knew how I really felt about him because I was too stupid and stubborn to admit it. Only now, when it’s too late, can I even say the words. I love you Philip J. Fry. I love you, and I killed you, and I wish I was dead.
“I’ll never know any happiness again without you in my life. You did everything for me and I pushed you away. You loved me for years, but I could never accept you. I looked for Mr. Right for so long, but I was looking right at him all the time. I’d give everything I have to be able to talk to you again for a few seconds. Just to tell you I love you, and how very sorry I am for being so stupid for so long.”
Leela closed the tube and carried it over to the hole Bender had dug earlier. Placing it gently into the hole, she picked up a handful of dirt and threw it down into the hole. “Goodbye, Phil,” she said, then turned and walked away.
Three hours later, he found her. She was sitting on the ground, leaning up against a headstone labeled ‘FRY.’ Her eye was puffy and bloodshot, her makeup a mess, and she had a bottle of some brown liquid in her hand.
Bender stood across the cemetery, trying to decide if he’d forgiven her for running out on Fry. Finally, he decided that it was a very robot thing to do. Sighing, he started to walk over to her. She looked up and cringed a little. He stuck his hand out toward the bottle. Reluctantly, she handed it over to him. Bender sat down, chugged the bottle, threw it away, and then pulled out another bottle. Opening it up, he poured out a little bit, and then handed it to Leela. She just looked at him, confused. He just kept staring at him until finally, it dawned on her. Pouring out some more of the bottle, she handed it back to Bender, and then hugged him. He held her for a long time while she cried.
Six Months Later, Half the Galaxy Away…
“Hot one today,” the bartender said looking at the man. He was the only customer in this early. The rest would start coming in later, but this customer was always in at the same time every day and usually gone at the same time, too. It’d been that way for the last six months.
“Yep,” he replied. “Gonna be hotter tomorrow.”
“Yep. Want another fellep?”
The man’s cheek twitched slightly, but he said, “Nah. Two’s my limit, you know that. I gotta get home. She’ll be waiting on me. She worries a lot, you know.” The man grabbed his hat and started to rise.
“You should bring her into town more often,” the bartender said. “The more people see her and interact with her, the less they’ll think of her as different. She really is a nice woman.”
“But she is different,” he replied cryptically. “She’s not like she was before…”
“I mean different from the rest of us. You fit in well enough, better than most of the people that live here, actually. But her,” he said shaking his head. “She’s a different animal all together. Why don’t you bring her by our place this weekend. Allison would love to have someone to talk to. Women folk need to stick together, whatever they look like.”
The man smiled and pushed his long red hair out of his eyes and put his hat on. “I’ll ask her,” he said. With a smirk, he said, “I’ll see you tomorrow Vidar.”
Shaking his head again, the bartender just smiled at his friend.