Commander Carmichael hated his job. He was only third in command of the DOOP’s flagship, even though he outranked Kroker. But, Lt. Kroker was Brannigan’s boy, so he got the first officer job, while Carmichael, a decorated officer that had transferred to this ship, specifically because it was the flagship and the posting should benefit his career, was sitting here, wasting away in what was essentially a middle management job. When this little waste of DOOP resources was over, he was getting off this tub. Sitting there, he felt the ship start to vibrate, like the engines were powering up to leave orbit.
“Helm,” he said turning forward.
“Sir,” the man said, frantically pushing buttons.
“What’s going on?”
“Unknown, sir. The engines seem to have powered up on their own. I’m attempting to override, but the console is not responding.”
“Engineering,” Carmichael said. “What the hell is going on down there?” When there was no response, he yelled again, “Engineering, report.” When there still was no response, he looked over to the Tactical station. “Oliver, take a security detail down to Engineering and find out what’s going on down there.”
“Sir,” Oliver replied, saluting.
“Commander,” the Com Officer said. “We’re getting a strange report from Cargo Bay 3.”
“Meaning,” Carmichael said, rubbing his temples. This really wasn’t his day.
“Sir,” the Com Officer said, hesitantly, “it appears the robots are revolting.”
“I know they are, but we just have to put up with them. So what?"
“No, sir, you don’t understand. It appears that they’re literally revolting. Security and medical teams have been requested. Wait,” he said, touching his hand to the ear piece he was wearing. “Sir, I’m getting another report, this time from Security. They’re been getting calls from all over the ship about assaults from robots.”
“Tell Security to shoot to disable if possible, but to kill if not. I want this situation, and this ship, stopped, and I want it stopped now!”
“Amy,” a voice said. Kif’s, she thought. But he was dead, wasn’t he? She rode his skin down the hill. He had to be dead. Why doesn’t Kif being dead hurt more, she wondered.
“Amy,” the voice said again. It still sounded like Kif. But since he was dead, that must mean she was either dead or going crazy. Then the shaking started. It felt too soft, she guessed, to be Zapp. Then again, she didn’t think he’d ever touched her, so who knew. The shaking and the Kif-sounding voice were becoming more insistent. The only way to solve it was to open her eyes and tell Zapp, or whoever, to knock it off.
She had to blink a few times because of the light. Yeah, it was daylight when…, she thought. When she could finally see, she started and tried to slide away. “You’re…you’re…you…,” she stammered.
“Take it easy, my love,” Kif said, trying to comfort her. “Everything’s ok. For now, anyway.”
“Everything is not ok. You’re dead,” Amy said finally. “I rode your skin down the hill and crashed it into a tree. Then you oozed out of that robot. This isn’t real! You’re dead,” she yelled.
“This is real, Amy. I can shed my skin sometimes. And, when I have to do it in a hurry, I’m temporarily an ooze until I can either get my skin to regenerate or I can get back into my old skin.”
“It was pretty gross,” Zapp said from somewhere to her right. “I watched him just peel himself apart and had to vomit. I wanted Kif to peel off his uniform, but that was not at all what I had in mind.”
“What,” Amy asked as Kif sighed. “So, that robot…”
“Dealt with for now,” Kif said as he helped her to her feet.
“And my gun?”
“Still in one piece, I think,” he said as he handed it to her. Checking it, she seemed satisfied that it was still operational. She thanked him with a kiss on the cheek that turned him a few shades of red, and turned Zapp a couple of shades of green.
“What do we do now,” Zapp asked, trying to slip between Kif and Amy.
Turning back toward their campsite, she said, “We find Leela and Fry and try to avoid any robot troubles. Kif, lead the way.” When he was a good distance ahead of them, Amy said to Zapp without even looking at him, “Look, bitch. That’s my man. You keep this up and I’ll make you sorry you took your helmet off. Kif, wait up,” she yelled and left Zapp alone.
“HI-YA,” Leela screamed as she flipped the power switch that fed the control panel. “There,” she said as she wiped her hands on each other. “That should hold them for a while.”
“Uh, Leela,” Fry said as he looked at the robots. “That won’t hold them for a while. Those guys over there are still all powering up.”
Looking across the room, Leela saw that she’d only turned the power off for roughly half of the robots. “Aw, Judas Priest,” she muttered. The other half were still powering up and, as best as she could tell, would be activated soon. They had to get out of here, fast, and going back wasn’t an option. That left only one way to go. “Come on, Fry,” she said, taking his hand and pulling him down a set of stair to the floor below them. “We’ve got to get out of here.”
“Then why are we running toward where those other robots are still powering up?”
“Because it’s safer running toward where there might be a gun pointing at you than where you know there is a gun pointing at you.”
“There’s s security robot behind us that’s trying to kill us. There’s probably not one on the other side of this room.”
“Oh. Well why didn’t you say that in the first place instead of your rambling about whatever you were rambling about?”
“Just shut up and run, Fry.”
“THE HUMANS WILL BE,” the robot yelled until Leela brought her foot down on it from behind, crushing it against the floor.
“Why would you let that thing keep talking,” she said as she walked over to Sylvester. “That voice was one of the most annoying things that I’ve ever heard.”
“I reprogrammed it to be a much more pleasing sound,” he said, not looking up from his work. “When the system reset, it restored the original programming. Next time I’m just going to rewrite the entire system with the programming from my ship.”
“So, while we’re on the subject…what are you?”
Smiling, he said, “Just a traveler. I like to tinker with things.” After placing a few other parts into the machine, he added, “Or, I’m the destroyer of worlds. A god of deceit, if you will, that leaves every world I land on in ashes. It all depends on who you ask, and when you ask them.”
“So, you’re like a scientist or a doctor, or something?”
Chuckling, he said, “A doctor? Yes, I’m something like that.”
“Why are you doing this? Rebuilding humanity and all of that.”
“Because I like your species. On a whole, you’re all stupid brutes that usually don’t know when to leave well enough alone. But, I’ve been here many times over the years, and you’ve always shown me something, even at my age and all that I’ve seen, that gives me a warm feeling.”
“So, we’re like a puppy to you, or something?”
“That’s a bit of an oversimplification, don’t you think? Hand me those parts there,” he said motioning with his left hand to the table behind her. “No, it’s more of a paternal relationship. I see so much potential for greatness in your species that I can’t let your own stupidity get in the way.”
“So, you feel sorry for us? Yeah, that’s a great reason to hit the reset button on us especially after we broke the world.”
“It’s more than that. The human race is a bunch of wonderful little contradictions. You’re so full of life, yet all you want to do is destroy each other. You, typically, love your home, but can’t wait to get out among the stars.”
“Yeah, we’re just a wonderful little mess. But that still doesn’t explain it. Why are you doing this?”
He was silent for a few minutes as he examined the rifle he had built. Snapping the power pack into place, he turned to face her. “I lived here with my granddaughter for a long time before the Tirolians came. She loved this planet. We were gone when the wars started and I didn’t get back here until after the resistance had poisoned the planet. There was nothing I could do at that point except deal with the Tirolians and then try and rebuild after the firestorm ended. I wasn’t here when your people needed me. I’m making up to them and my granddaughter for it by bringing it all back. But I’m going to make a few corrections this time.”
“You’re not God, Sylvester.”
“No, but I’m the closest thing that your species has. Here,” he said handing her the finished weapon. “This one’s done. Test it on anything that comes this way. I’m going to put together another one and then we can really go to work.”
“Kiffy, run,” Zapp yelled. Kif was already running back to where Zapp and Amy were waiting, with a pair of wolves nipping at his heels.
They had been following the tank robot’s path for almost an hour before they found the ruins of a town. Based off of the scan they had performed yesterday, Fry and Leela were nearby, or at least they were supposed to be nearby. Leela’s wristamajigger had stopped transmitting her position near here. Kif, being stupid and brave, volunteered to scout ahead and see if he could find any trace of them. Instead, the wolves found him.
“Kiffy, drop,” Amy yelled as she aimed her gun at them. While she knew that the ionic disruptor worked on robots, she hoped that the wolves’ nervous systems, their “electrical systems”, worked in a similar enough way that the gun would affect them, too. Hoping for the best, as soon as Kif hit the ground, she fired. The blue-white beam wove through the air, hitting the lead wolf square in the face. Nothing seemed to happen for a few seconds before the wolf landed on top of Kif, twitching slightly, but other than that not moving.
The second wolf, not aware of what had happened to its companion, leapt at the next closest target: Zapp. The wolf and Zapp tumbled head over heels a few times before coming to rest with the wolf on his chest. It bit down hard onto Zapp’s upraised arm, shaking its head from side to side.
Amy raised the disruptor to fire again, but nothing happened. After pulling the trigger a couple of more times with the same non-result, Amy charged forward and swung the weapon like a club at the wolf’s head. And missing, hitting Zapp in the head instead, knocking him unconscious. It didn’t stop the wolf, however, from ripping a large chunk from his arm. Blood and flesh dripping from its jaw, the wolf looked up and growled at her. Alarmed, Amy took a few steps back as the wolf stepped toward her. Tensing its legs, it leapt at her, but was knocked off-course by a green blur hitting it in the side.
Kif and the wolf rolled several times before hitting a tree. Amy, with the benefit of not having a moving target this time, came over and struck the wolf in the side of the head, knocking it out cold, and shattering the disruptor in the process. Pulling Kif to his feet, she proceeded to kiss and fawn all over him for several minutes before suddenly stopping.
“Zapp,” she said as she pulled back from Kif. Letting him go, she rushed over to where Zapp was lying.
“What did the idiot do this time,” Kif asked as he turned to watch her run. His eyes went wide when he saw his commanding officer lying in a pool of blood. As he reached the two of them, Amy was turning away to throw up. Looking down at the remains of Zapp’s arm, he could see why. Reaching down, he checked and found Zapp still had a very weak pulse.
“Amy, we have to get him over there,” Kif said as he pointed toward the ruins of a small building. “There’s a metal door there, and I think it’s where Fry and Leela went.”
“How,” she began before throwing up again. “How do you know that?”
“The tank robot’s tracks end at a metal door that looks suspiciously like an elevator. And I saw a pair of human-sized boot prints. It has to be theirs. Maybe we’ll be able to find some help there. It’s the only chance he has.”
Nodding, Amy pulled off her shirt to use as a bandage for the remains of Zapp’s arm, hoping to stop the blood loss long enough to keep him alive until they could get help.
“Come on, Fry,” she yelled from the opened doorway, waving him on.
“Can’t…run…much….more…,” he said as he lurched across the room, holding his side.
“Come on, you big baby. It’s only been about five minutes. I can’t believe you’re this out of shape.”
He staggered through the door and fell down as she came in, locking it behind them. “I need to rest, Leela. I can’t take this anymore. How much longer do we have to do this?”
“No idea. But, my best guess is that we’ve been at this long enough. Sylvester and the other me should be doing whatever they were going to be doing by now. We can find a place to hide, and,” she said, smiling, “we can have a little alone time. Just the two of us.”
“But what about the other you? Don’t both of you want alone time with me?”
“Yes, but that’s what sharing is, Fry. I get my time, she gets her time. And right now, it’s my time,” she said as she started to unzip her jumpsuit.
“Leela,” he said sliding away from her, “what did I tell you before about making future plans? And I really can’t believe I’m going to say this, but we really shouldn’t do this right now.”
“Your pants,” she said as she pulled her arms out of the top of the jumpsuit. “Get rid of them.”
“Now,” she said as she started to pull the tank top she was wearing off. Just as she started, though, there was an explosion behind her, blowing the door in. Standing there was the security robot, pointing its gun arm at them.
“THE HUMANS WILL BE TERMINATED,” it said, locking on Leela.
“No,” Fry yelled, hitting Leela at the knees and dropping her to the floor.
Readjusting its aim, the robot repeated, “THE HUMANS WILL BE TERMINATED.” This time, Leela stood up and leapt at the robot. Lying face down on the ground, Fry missed her jump, but still saw some of the flash and heard the shot firing.
And he felt Leela land on top of him.