She had needed this. She sat in her tidy little campsite, fire blazing as Saturn rose over the horizon. Her family and friends had subjected her to six months of well-intended torture. Every other day, one of the nine of them would call and see if she was alright. Bender, Cubert, and Nibbler had only called once each, just to let her know that if she needed anything, she could always call. She was thankful they had other things to occupy themselves, but the other Originals...
At least River, who was her best friend and closest thing to an actual sister, and who called her almost every day after her dad died, hadn’t called that much after November, when she really started to show. They had last seen each other at Xmas, and it was all Kyrie could do not to cry. That was another reason she had to get out of communications range this week. River was due any day now. There actually had been a message on her wrist-a-majigger from Eva before she left that River’s water had broken and the other Originals were all going to try and get to the hospital. She’d be expected to go, too. Maybe tomorrow.
Her campsite would have pleased her mom. There was a place for everything and everything was in its place. And the remains of the case of beer chilling in the cold, terraformed lake would have made her father proud. She sat drinking her beer and sighed sadly. She missed them both so much. She lived on base, and the walls of her apartment were paper thin. There were no secrets there. Even surrounded by friends, she was so lonely at times that she wanted to cry.
This was the first time that she had been truly alone since he died. She hadn’t told anyone where she was going when she left Demos. No one, except Steve, her 1-X robot and occasional co-pilot, knew she was here, and he was ten miles away, sitting contentedly in his socket in her Eta-2. She was the only person around for miles. Lake Xanadu was a tourist destination, true, but at this was off-peak season, and there had been no other ships in the parking lot when she landed this morning. She resisted the urge to get her wrist-a-majigger and call Steve so they could stay in a real hotel, just to be around people again.
She stood, rubbing her lower abdominals, thinking of River as she finished her beer. Angrily, she hurled the bottle at the nearest tree where it shattered into a pile of brown glass. Stupid war, she thought. You took so much from me and gave me back nothing. She threw more wood onto the fire as she went to the lake to get another beer.
February 15, 3027 – Lake Xanadu National Park – Titan, 0345 local time
She woke from a blessedly dreamless sleep. She had been having nightmares during the last six months. They were nameless and faceless things that kept waking her up at the oddest times. She’d get three or four hours, and then wake screaming, her sheets twisted and soaked with sweat. She’d be lucky to maybe get an hour more after that. But this time was different.
She had been sleeping soundly when something woke her. She thought she had heard her father say “Wake up, K.” She’d thought she’d heard it before, just like when she used to hear her mom’s voice after she died, always before something big was about to happen. And it usually proved to be accurate. Her psychiatrist had said that it was just her mind playing tricks on her, trying to soothe the grief she felt from losing her mother. That was right before she stopped seeing him.
She heard a twig snap and a grunt. Something was there. She carefully slid her arm up to reach under her pillow and pulled out the blaster that she kept there. She’d slept with a gun under her pillow since she was 6 years old, and it was a habit that died hard. Better to be safe than sorry, her mother always said. Grabbing the gun, her hand still under the pillow, she carefully rolled onto her back, her eye open a slit to watch the door flap on the tent. In the fading light of the fire, she saw a monstrous shape waddle into view. It had a large body and a small head with a large tentacle ending in a round orb on the end of it.
Sighing, she put the gun away. Stupid guinea pig, she thought. She sat up, saying, “Throw some more wood on the fire, Nibbler. I’ll be out in a minute.”
The shape stopped and turned in the direction of the tent. “How did you know?,” the familiar voice asked.
“Little birdie told me,” she said, reaching for her clothes.
“I thought I ate that bird,” he said to himself as he walked over to the remains of the wood pile she built yesterday afternoon.
Nibbler was sitting on a rock, throwing sticks into the fire when she came out. Before she left, she’d stopped at the storage locker where she kept the few things of her parents that she still had and grabbed one of her dad’s old coats. It was warm, broken-in, and still smelled like him. It was a small comfort, since his house had been made an historic landmark.
“We need you, Kyrie,” Nibbler said without preamble.
“Do you remember what I told you about your father being the Mighty One? How he protected the Universe in its hours of need? Well, we need you to carry on for him.”
“You do know that I’m on vacation, right?”
“I am aware of that,” he said. “I merely thought that the fate of the Universe and the integrity of the space-time continuum were more important than you lying around lakeside getting drunk for a few days. What is all of creation, all that is, was, and ever will be, worth compared to your being able to stone yourself blind on intoxicants?”
“I wasn’t just going to lie around getting drunk,” she said, purposefully ignoring the pile of broken glass at the base of the tree. After setting up her camp yesterday morning, that’s exactly what she did. She’d been angrily chucking empty bottles at the tree all day and night, brooding about everything that had been taken from her.
“Hmmm,” Nibbler grunted, his eyestalk looking at the pile of broken glass.
“What do you need me to do,” she said, sighing in defeat. He was right. All of creation was worth more than one life. She just wished that it would stop being the lives of members of her family.
“There have been several disturbances in the time-space continuum in the last few weeks. We have been able to localize them to two distinct points. We were able to eliminate one of them three days ago. We need you to eliminate the other.”
“The source is your cousin Cubert. He’s somehow gotten his hands on a time machine called a time-vortex manipulator. It allows one person to travel anywhere and any when in the entire Universe.”
"Time-vortex what? Are you off your nut?,” she asked. “You want me to steal a time machine and kill Cubert?”
“It must be done,” he said grimly. “It is either that or you extract him from the facility that he is being held in and allow us to manipulate his brain, removing the offensive data. If it is allowed to survive, it could be a disaster.”
“If you had the ability to travel in time, back to the past, what would you do? Would you use it for scientific research? See the pyramids while they were still being built in Egypt? Visit with Oprah before her deification? Watch the games at the Coliseum in Rome?
“Or would you change history? Bring laser weapons to World War I? Send a robot back in time to rampage across France with Napoleon? Save your parents? How would things change if any of those events were allowed to happen? The present, as we know it, would cease to exist!”
“How could saving them be a bad thing?,” she asked quietly, staring at the fire.
“I sympathize, Kyrie. I really do. I miss Leela and Fry every day. She was wonderful to me all those years, and your father was the Mighty One. How often do you meet, let alone befriend, a living prophecy? But everyone has a destiny, child. Fry and Leela were meant to die when they did and how they did.”
“How is that fair, to them or me? Don’t I get a choice? I didn’t have a childhood. Nibbler, I’ve been fighting and killing since I was 4 years old. You know what that’s been like for me. You were there all those years and know all about my issues. I’ve lost track of the number of people I’ve killed over the years, Nibbler. Why would destiny or God or whoever do that to a child?”
She was crying, now. “Nibbler, I’ve never have a chance at a normal life. I can barely look my best friend in the eye, all because she’s pregnant and I never can be. Do you know how that tears me up inside every day? She’s been my best friend since I was 4 years old. I love her more than almost anyone I’ve ever known, and I can barely stand to be in the same room with her anymore, let alone speak to her. How the hell do you explain how that’s right and just? Who the hell gave anyone the right to make those decisions for me? And now you’re asking me to kill my only blood relative? Do you have any idea what you’re asking me to do?”
“Yes, I do. Trust me, Kyrie, I sympathize. But the only other way to stop the Universe from collapsing would be to destroy the entire facility.” He paused for a long time, staring into the fire. “It’s a DOOP Experimental Weapon base, Kyrie. The bunker in South Dakota was hardened against nuclear blasts. Many Confederate soldiers, and Ohm himself, survived the initial blast, but not the legion of DOOP Radiation Troopers that entered the base almost immediately after the explosion. The blast actually did very little damage to the interior of the base. DOOP RadTroopers killed everyone they found. They were able to get into the bunker and remove most of the projects that the Confederates were working on, including the space-rotation bomb.”
“What’s a space-rotation bomb?”
“The bomb is basically a Universal Dooms Day Device. You type in an arming code, then a detonation code, wait a period of time, and then nothing.”
“Nothing. Ever. Anywhere in the Universe. Forever. In theory, a space-rotation bomb will rip a hole in the fabric of reality and destroy the entire Universe.”
“Why would someone build something like that?”
“I really do not know, Kyrie. A threat, maybe. Do what I want or else.”
“And why hasn’t the DOOP destroyed that monstrosity?”
“Either they cannot or they want to keep it, just in case. Do what I want or else.”
They sat in silence until the first rays of the sun started poking up over the horizon. “They betrayed us,” she said suddenly. “They knew it was a trap when the sent us in and then tried to kill us with the bomb. They knew that was a hardened target, and the bomb would be ineffective, and they sent us in anyway. We were a decoy. They died for nothing. My parents and the other fifty-three girls, my friends, they all died for nothing.” Looking over at him, she said angrily, “How do I know you’re not lying? Not trying to use me, like you did my parents?”
Nibbler smiled and threw another stick into the fire. It would be a shame blanking her memory after this was all done. “You don’t, Kyrie. You just have to trust me.”
She had to talk to Cubert. She couldn’t kill him without talking to him. But she had to see Bender first. As a military governor, Bender should have access to the classified files on the Battle of South Dakota. She had to see them before confronting Tatia. She wouldn’t have known at the time, but as their commander now, she would have access to the files. She knew that she’d never get them from her, Fry’s daughter or not. But Bender would let her see them. Then she’d confront Tatia and then she’d deal with Cubert.
Rubbing her temples, she committed herself. She’d never had reason to doubt her friends or her government before, but if even half of what Nibbler had told her was true, she had to do something. Between time-vortex manipulator and the space-rotation bomb, the whole Universe just became a much more dangerous place. And if Tatia and Cubert knew about it and couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do anything, she was running out of people she could trust. And it was starting with one of her father’s best friends and her own family.
There were only two people she knew, absolutely, positively, she could trust: Bender and River. She had to get to the hospital and talk to her. Then off to the Quandrit System to see Bender.
“Put the fire out if you want to, Nibbler. I’m going to call Steve and get moving. Time and bombs wait for no woman.”
She heard River singing softly when she walked to the door. She knew the song right away. It was her, Their, she corrected herself, father’s favorite, and one he would sing badly as often as he could.
“I'm walking on sunshine, wooah. I'm walking on sunshine, woooah. I'm walking on sunshine, woooah. And don't it feel good!”
Looking in, she saw her friend sitting in a chair, rocking a little bundle. Elizabeth Leela Suun was born last night, healthy and happy. Taking a deep breath, Kyrie knocked on the door and stuck her head around.
“Up for company,” she said as cheerfully as she could.
River’s face lit up at the sound of Kyrie’s voice. “Anytime for you, K. Come in, come in. I know how hard this is for you,” she said, holding the baby close as she rocked.
“I’d go anywhere for you, River, you know that,” she said, holding her arms out. “Can I hold her?”
“You sure?” When Kyrie nodded, River gently handed her over. “Remember, support her head. She doesn’t have much neck strength yet.”
Kyrie nodded and held little Leela close, watching her little face and feeling her little fingers wrap around her index finger. Tears in her eye, Kyrie rocked the baby, humming softly to her. She was warm and smelled so good. The powder or lotion or whatever they used made Kyrie feel safe and secure. Held over feelings of childhood, her psychiatrist would have said. She hated that guy.
“I’m sorry,” Kyrie said. “I’m so sorry for how I’ve acted since November. You’re my best friend. I should have been here with you.”
“There’s nothing to forgive, K. You needed some time and space. I know that this hasn’t been easy for you, and I didn’t want to… I guess, flaunt anything in your face. First, Father walked me down the aisle but he won’t be there for you, and now I have a baby and you won’t. That may not mean much to the others, but I knew what it would mean to you. You’re my best friend, and I didn’t want to hurt you.”
She smiled weakly. “Thanks, River. Where’s Dave,” she asked, looking around for River’s husband. She’d been in the small room for a few minutes already and checked every spot big enough for him visually. It’s not like he’s hiding, idiot, she thought.
“He had to go to the spaceport. There’s some emergency VIP inspection or something. I told him to go and that we’ll be fine. After all, I’m in the hospital I work at. It’s not like I’m not going to be taken care of,” she said with a laugh.
“Where’s everyone else?”
“They were all here last night. They said they were coming back later today, though. They were all staying at Aluce 1, so this spaceport emergency must be keeping them, too. ” Aluce 1 was a space station that the DOOP had built in 3024 as the first (or last, depending on how you looked at it) line defense between Earth and the moon.
“Good, good,” she said, nodding her head, distractedly. She trusted River, but how many of the others could she trust? “I need to talk to you about something serious,” she said, handing little Leela back to her mother. She'd never be Elizabeth to her, always Leela. She walked to the door and closed it and pulled the blinds shut before she sat back down.
Pulling close, she asked, “How long before they come back for her?”
“Ten or fifteen minutes. Why?”
She quickly explained everything Nibbler had told her, in purely general terms. She didn’t want anything to happen to River if she got caught. Plausible deniability was a wonderful thing, Kyrie thought grimly. River sat in stunned silence as she explained the time machine and then in horror as she described the raid on Interior after the explosion.
“They set us up,” River whispered to herself. She knew River was brilliant and could draw her own conclusions, even from generalities. She didn’t need to tell her that that was her opinion, too. “All those people, just to get inside that base and get God-knows what.”
They sat in silence as the nurses came and took the baby back to the nursery and checked Rivers vitals. One nurse noted that her blood pressure was up, and she should probably relax a little, looking pointedly at Kyrie, implying heavily that River should be left alone. The Daughters ignored her. Kyrie did help her into her bed, though. The nurse was right, River did need to rest. No sense doing more harm to her body than had to be, since she was still recovering from giving birth.
When she was sure that no one was around, she leaned in close and said, “I don’t know how much she knows, River.” Implicating your commander and friend in a massive government and military cover-up was never a good idea, especially when who knew if anyone was listening.
Grimly, River said, “If she didn’t before, and I don’t think she did, she may know now. The now question is what are you going to do?”
“What’s right. I’m going to talk to a friend and get some information. Then I may talk to her or not. Either way, I'll have to deal with him.”
“I can’t believe this. If even half of what you said was true…”
“I know. You don’t know how glad I am that I can talk to you about this, River. I would go crazy if I didn’t have you,” she said, hugging her friend. “I’m going to go. You need to rest and I have some things I need to do. Make sure that you tell everyone that I was here and that I’m ok. They keep calling and calling and won’t leave me alone. I’ll call in a few days when I’ve got some things straightened out.
"Don’t," River said. "Come to our place and see me. You can’t be too careful."
"Good idea," she said, giving her friend a kiss before walking away. "I missed you," she said at the door.
"I missed you, too," River said, smiling. "Now get out of here before we get all mushy and people start asking if I’m going to I leave my husband for you."
As she headed into space, she marveled at the lack of traffic over the city. On any other day, the sky lanes would be packed with normal rush hour traffic. As she headed out over the Atlantic, she flew past a gigantic space cruise ship heading inbound. Ships like that had slowly started coming back to Earth in the last few years. The war had thinned out some of the population of Earth and there were some newly reestablished wild areas, like the new parks in southern Africa and Antarctica.
She cranked the music player (something else she had taken from her father’s storage; he had decent enough taste in music, even if it was all classical) and hit the thrusters. The fighter nearly stood up as the engines roared and pushed her out of the atmosphere and into space. Because of the roar of the music and the engines, and her heading outbound from New New York, she didn’t see or hear the explosions as the cruise ship slammed into the spaceport.
As she left the atmosphere, Kyrie saw a contact on her scanner. Stupid customs, she thought as she turned the music off and switched over to the military band.
“…please respond. Again, unknown star fighter, you are in restricted space. Please identify yourself immediately, or you will be considered hostile.”
What the hell?, she thought. “Unknown contact,” she responded. “This is DOOP Eta-2 1138, Lt. Kyrie Fry, 501st Legion piloting. Who is this?”
“Lt. Fry, this is Lt. Jacobs, Third Fleet.” One of the brand new Howlrunner fighters appeared on her screen. They were fast, but her older Eta-2 was faster. But the Howlrunner was more heavily armed and armored than her ship, though.
“What can I do for you, Lieutenant?,” she asked, checking their relative positions. She could outrun him if she had to.
“You are ordered back to active duty, Lt. Fry. All leaves have been cancelled. There’s been an incident at the New New York’s spaceport.”
“What are you talking about, Jacobs? I just left there and there was nothing wrong.”
“Half the city’s on fire, Fry. Turn around and see for yourself.”
Sighing in irritation, she banked and turned the ship 180 degrees. And there it was. A huge black cloud was rising from the east coast of the continent. RIVER! I’ve got to go back, she thought, her hands reaching for the controls on their own. No. I have other things that need to be done.
"All DOOP personnel have been ordered to report to the DSD Invincible for assignment."
“Negative on the Invincible, Jacobs. I’m going to head to Aluce-1.”
“Negative that, Fry. Invincible is closer.”
“But my command structure and commanding officer are both on Aluce-1, Jacobs. I’m going there.”
“Then I’ll escort you.”
“Fine,” she said, shutting off the external coms. “Idiot. Steve,” she said over the internal com. “Set course for the Quandrit System. I want to burn past Aluce-1 and head to deep space.”
“Ma’am, we’ve been ordered off leave and are to rendezvous with command. That would be a violation of our orders.”
“Steve, do you like space?”
“If you don’t do what I tell you, you’ll be floating here for a long time. Set the course, please.”
She shook her head in irritation. Going to have to have them remove his Patriotism circuitry, she thought. Either that or a memory wipe. An accident like this always made people jumpy, and that was the last thing she needed. She was going to ask a military governor to commit treason and allow her access to files above her clearance so she could find out if she had been set up ten years ago. And then she was going to enter a secure DOOP facility and kill her cousin. Yeah, this was going to be great.
As they closed on Aluce-1, the Howlrunner peeled away and she adjusted her course to look like she was on a landing approach. Suddenly, she changed course to blow past the station and opened up her engines full. The Howlrunner, already heading in the other direction, was slow to react. She was able to gain a large lead that she continued to open up as she approached Mars. By the time she hit the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, she’d lost her pursuit.
Eight hours later, she was in the Quandrit System, sitting in a prison cell aboard the DSD Relentless. Obviously, Lt. Jacobs had reported her to the Invincible and they sent out a general alert. She had called Bender before they pulled her aboard, and he had said he was on his way, but that was two hours ago. So, instead of trying to save the universe, she sat cooling her heels and trying not to worry about her best friend and her child.
Her force shield door deactivated and a guard stuck his head in. “On your feet, Lieutenant,” he said, ushering her out. Standing there were a DOOP Naval Lieutenant and two G-series robots, Bender’s personal bodyguards. Never trust an organic life form to deal with a situation with cold logic, he had said once. The only way to impartially kill humans is to use robots.
“She’s all yours, G-3,” the Lieutenant said. Turning to Kyrie, he said, “I don’t want to see you on this ship ever again, Lieutenant. Do we understand each other? You women shouldn’t even be allowed in the service. You’re too emotional.”
“Oh, gosh yes, sir. Never again, sir. Cross my heart,” she mocked, crossing her heart. “Let’s go, boys, before Is gets us in big trouble again, wit my silly, womanly ways, since I can’t control myself,” she said, laughing hysterically. As they were walking away, Kyrie stopped and said over her shoulder, “By the way lieutenant, where did you serve during the war? Me, I was on the front lines for most of the time since I was about 6 years old. I got two Purple Hearts and three commendations for valor. What about you?” As the three of them started heading for the docking bay, the lieutenant and guard stared at her in disbelief.
Sitting in the bay was a shiny, Foghat gray shuttle that Bender used when he travelled with organics. Otherwise, he used a ship, the Extortionist, that had no atmosphere generators. They had been replaced by coolers and a humidor for his and the robot crew’s enjoyment. G-3 escorted her to the small lounge while G-2 went forward to pilot the shuttle to the rendezvous with Bender. The lounge had a small selection of old magazines, mostly robot porn, and a few non-alcoholic beverages, mostly Red and Blue Slurm. She stayed strapped in until they linked with Bender’s ship. G-2 may be a good pilot, but he was more concerned with speed than with the comfort of his organic passenger.
The airlock door hissed as it cycled open, revealing G-1, followed by Bender. G-1 looked around, just to make sure that she was the only one in the room and that she was no threat, then he allowed Bender in. She thought it was G-1, but it really could have been any of the G-series that Bender had on staff. They all looked the same to her. Beer in one hand, cigar in the other, he came forward and hugged her.
“Hey, Bender,” she said. “Thanks for getting me out of there.”
“No problem, Little Boots. I’ll just take it off what I owe your dad. What’s so important that you had to get me out of a meeting with Calculon? You know he’s my ticket to getting my story onto the big screen. He’s going to get me an Oscar.”
“But Bender, you already have three.”
“Yeah, but I stole those from Tom Hanks. That one will be mine. It’ll have Bender Bending Rodriguez engraved on it and everything, not just written in permanent marker.” He had a faraway look in his eyes as he dreamed. Shrugging his shoulders, he said, “So anyway, what can I do for you meatbag?”
“I need a favor. I need you to commit treason and show me some classified records about the Battle of South Dakota.”
“Who said who with the what now?” He looked at her funny as she proceeded to tell him what Nibbler had told her. When she finished, he shook his head and said, “Leela should have let me cook that little runt on Vergon 6 twenty-seven years ago. He’s been nothing but trouble.”
“Will you help me, Bender? It’s important.”
“I shouldn’t, you know. But,” he said, sitting down, “since when have I ever done what I was supposed to? If I did, I’d never have met your father. I’ll help, but there’s something that you may not know, Kyrie. There’s been an incident in New New York.”
“I knew that,” she said irritably. “There was some big explosion or something. I kind of saw it before I left Earth, which was part of the reason you had to bail me out of prison.”
“A ship crashed into the spaceport. The fires are raging uncontrolled across the city. Tens of thousands are dead, maybe more than a hundred thousand.”
“No cruise ship could do that much damage,” she said quietly, thinking back to the ship she passed on her way out of orbit.
“It was the new DOOP Mobile Command Headquarters. They mocked up to look like a Universal Express cruise ship, so that they could fly it almost anywhere without drawing attention to it. Almost the entire DOOP Security Council was on board, and President Jerkwad, too. I’ve heard rumors that it wasn’t an accident, but sabotage.”
She sat stunned. “Who would do something like that?”
“Sir,” a harsh mechanical voice said as G-1 suddenly came to life. “There’s a transmission incoming for Lt. Fry, priority one on channel 212. There is a time lapse of approximately eight standard Earth hours.”
“212,” she said, stunned. It was the Daughters private channel, only used in extreme emergencies. They hadn’t used it since the war, though. It could conceivably take eight hours for the message to reach me, she though, depending on how many times it had to be rerouted to avoid getting intercepted. It must be something big to have taken this long. “Put it up here, G-1,” she said, walking over to the console.
Tatia appeared on screen, a well appointed stateroom could be seen over her shoulder, and there was a large gash over her right eye. “Lt. Fry, by the time you get this, there’s a good possibility that we’ll already be dead.
“We were picked up by the DMHQ at Aluce-1 an hour ago. As soon as we reached the LaGrange Point, we were ambushed from within. The progressive elements of the DOOP have been betrayed by the hardcore members of the DOOP military. Commandos have captured this ship and are going to crash it into New New York to get rid of members of the Security Council that they are opposed to. President Brannigan is already dead, along with a large portion of the Security Council. We’ve been fighting them to a standstill; we out number them, but they have better weapons. We’re very likely going to die soon, too, but we’re going to try and save the civilians on the ground. I’ve got the all of the Originals here but you and River, plus about 200 more regulars. We’ll show them who their Mommies are.
“Unfortunately, with where the hospital is, and how big of an impact that this thing is going to create, River will likely be dead by the time you get this, too. You’re the only one left, Kyrie. So, Daughter, these are your final orders. You are to go to Lake Geneva, WI and find and eliminate, if you deem it necessary, Professor Cubert J. Farnsworth. He’s in a DOOP Special Weapons base there. There are some projects there that he’s been working on that must be destroyed. You must determine if Cubert is still loyal to you and deal with him accordingly. If he is, the two of you need to destroy as many of the special weapons as possible. If he isn’t, he must be eliminated. I’m sorry Kyrie. Your cousin may be too dangerous to the continued existence of the Universe to leave alive.
“If you need help, use command code Theta-Gamma-1729. That will get you past any security point in the DOOP, as long as they haven’t remembered to change them. I’m guessing that that code might not be as effective as you or I hope it will be. But remember this code above all others. This is one I KNOW that they won’t have been able to change: Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. That’s the arming code for a horrible weapon that I shouldn’t even be telling you exists, but at this point, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore. If you ever see that on a device, the Universe is going to end. It cannot be disarmed and other than time travel or a parallel universe, there is no escape.
“Just remember, Kyrie, I love you and am so proud of you. We all are, and so are your parents. Give ‘em hell, Little Sister.” With that, she looked over her shoulder and keyed off them transmission.
They both sat there stunned. The entire Universe was coming apart at the seams. The DOOP, which had stood for so long for peace and freedom was vanishing, and was being replaced by thugs that would kill how many tens of thousands of their own people just to get rid of a few they didn’t like. She knew then that they had truly been betrayed ten years ago. She didn’t need to see the records. If they’d do this to Zapp, the Security Council, and how many thousand New New Yorkers, she knew, without question, that they’d do it to 60 young women and girls. People didn’t matter as long as a goal was reached and someone else could be blamed. The fallen would become unwitting martyrs for the cause. Just like her mother did.
“Bender,” she said, finally, “I think we should get out of here. Fast.”
“Way ahead of you, sausage link. G-1, tell G-2 to get the ships ready to split. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but we’re going to try and lead the Relentless away from her.” Turning to Kyrie he said, “You and I need to go opposite ways. You need to find the overgrown mole and kick his ass. We’ll cover your escape.”
“Escape in what, Bender? My ship is still onboard the Relentless.”
“In the cargo bay is an Eta-3. State of the art and fully loaded. G-4 has been loading your stuff since we docked, just in case.”
Suddenly, the ships shook violently. G-1 said, “Sir, G-2 is reporting that the Relentless is firing on us. She’s launched a squadron of Howlrunners, sir. Approximately 5 minutes to intercept.”
“Time to go, Little Boots,” Bender said, hugging her.
“Goodbye, Bender,” she said. “Thanks for everything.” I won’t cry, damn it, she thought. I don’t have time now.
“Good Luck, sausage link,” he said, shutting the door to the cargo bay. Turning to G-1, he said. “As soon as she’s free, tell G-2 to try and keep the Howlrunners off her back. We’re going after the Relentless.”
She was pulling away from Bender’s ships and saw the dots closing. G-2 moved the shuttle to intercept them, buying her a few more minutes, and the Extortionist moved to engage the Relentless. She set the course and opened the engines up full, purposefully not looking back. Her father’s oldest friend was giving his life for her, just like he promised him six months ago.
“I won’t cry,” she repeated softly over and over. The Howlrunners overtook and destroyed her escort, but they weren’t going to catch her. She commed Bender just before she got out of scanner range to say goodbye again, but all she heard was him screaming “Hey, jerkwads, bite my shiny metal-,” before it cut off. She cried for most of her trip back to Earth.
February 16, 3027 – Devil’s Tower National Park – near Hulett, Wyoming - Sunset
She sat on the top of Devils Tower, watching what could be the last sunset that this tiny little planet ever saw.
She had cried herself out during the trip, and sat on the nose of the fighter, enjoying the cold breeze as much as she could. Everyone was gone now. Bender had given his life so she could escape and deal with Cubert. Tatia and the other Originals had given theirs to try and save the people of New New York. River and little Leela had given theirs by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The DOOP had turned on itself, brother killing brother. And, here she was, sitting alone, trying to care about the rest of the Universe, while hers was falling down around her ears.
She had listened to the news radio stations as she slid the stealth fighter back into Earth’s atmosphere. Tatia and the Daughters were being blamed for crashing the ship into New New York, and starting the rebellion. And, she herself was being blamed for killing Bender and the damage that he had done to Relentless. There was no chance that she’d be able to charm and bluff her way into the bunker now. She’d have to use stealth and, when that failed, brute force.
She had retrieved some equipment that she had stored at her father’s house. The guard wouldn’t be permanently damaged, she thought grimly. He had secretly kept most of her mom’s equipment, telling the Auditor General’s office that she had been wearing it when she died. The AG’s office, not wanting to burden him anymore than they had to, took his word for it. Her mom’s gear was a little big, but not to the point of getting in her way. She felt it was a fitting tribute for her. Plus, the helmet and eyepiece would work for her better than anything else she would find, since it was designed for a cyclops.
She stared east, toward the Great Lakes and the DOOP base in Lake Geneva, WI, knowing that while her days on this world may be numbered, but she’d do her duty. It was all she had left.
February 17, 3027 – DOOP Experimental Weapon Base – near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin – 0015
She lay on a small ridge approximately 300 yards from a normal two-story farm house with a small barn and silo, DXR-6 disruptor rifle set up to snipe anyone in her way. The trip in had been too easy. She had landed, undetected as best as she could tell, south of Burlington and walked the 10 miles or so cross-country. The clear and still mostly frozen ground allowed her to make good time. There was, however, almost no cover at this time of the year. She kept low and in as many shadows as she could find, her wrist-a-majigger leading her in a straight line to her target. She had encountered no visible sensors or other security measures on the trip. For an experimental weapons base, this place had the worst security she had ever seen.
From her position, she saw a couple of things that she would consider to be out of the ordinary for a farm house. There were several large military-style hovertrucks parked near the barn and a man chopping wood for the fireplace that she could see burning in the house. The problem was that the man was searing short sleeves and it was well below freezing. Also, it was after midnight. The farmer should have been in bed long ago.
Suddenly, the lights in the yard went out. Looking though the scope of the DXR, she could still see two red lights floating in the air, following the path of the farmer. Human replica robot, she thought. Bit expensive, but that’s not my problem, is it? Lining up the sight, she waited for the HRR to walk back into her field of fire. The HRR took its time stacking the wood it had cut earlier. She waited for several painfully long minutes before it crossed back into range. She watched through the scope as the top half of its body disintegrated a nanosecond after she pulled the trigger. Quickly scanning the yard, she saw no other targets, and nothing to indicate that anyone noticed the HRR fall apart. Leaving the effective, but bulky, DXR there, she grabbed her old EE-3 carbine rifle and started to run toward the house.
She had loved this gun from the time she started using it when she was 7. It was light weight, but packed a punch considerably stronger than the now standard issue DOOP E-11 rifles or the old DC-15 positron rifles that the DOOP had used for years. The only trade off with those guns was the smaller power pack. But, while the DC-15 or E-11 could get off more shots, her EE-3 could do more damage. She had been allowed to keep it after the Daughters were issued E-11s three years ago. Tatia had told the AGs office that the weapon had been destroyed and even went as far as showing them the documentation saying so. Of course, the document had been fabricated, but it was stamped by the Grade 20 Bureaucrat whom Tatia was dating at the time, and the AGs office didn’t question it. Kyrie had given it to her father to store for her, just in case. He knew what it meant to her and had kept if clean for the last three years. According to the journal he kept, it had been cleaned the day before he died.
She threw her back up against the side of the house, keeping a careful eye on the remains of the HRR, just in case. Still, there was no sign of any movement or alert. What the hell is going on here, she thought, carefully sliding toward the back porch. As soon as she stepped onto the deck, she felt a burning sting hit the back of her left thigh. Tumbling down behind what little cover the railing provided, she scanned the night, looking for the source of the shot. Through the scope, she saw it. A small sentry robot that had been stationed somewhere out of her sight, hiding behind the chunks of wood that the HRR had been chopping. It must have figured something was wrong when the HRR didn’t report a few minutes ago.
Aiming through the scope, she fired, lighting the night up with green light as she reduced the wood pile to burning splinters. She tracked the sentry as it scooted between the hovertrucks and returned fire. She moved quickly as the sentry destroyed her cover and started to pepper the back of the house.
Running off the porch, she slid to a stop behind a hedge. She reached for a grenade from on her belt and rose, turning to find the sentry floating in her face, laser pointed right at her. It looked like some sort of demented mechanical chicken.
“Hands up,” it squawked mechanically. Raising her hands, Kyrie quickly reversed direction and slammed the butt of her carbine into the sentry’s ‘face,’ knocking it to the ground. A quick shot destroyed it.
“Well, so much for stealth,” she said, walking back to the porch, half expecting it to be filled with guards.
It was thankfully empty, but she didn’t count on her luck holding out for long. Trying the back door, she actually found it unlocked. It opened into a small country kitchen, a small table with four chairs sitting over in the corner. It wouldn’t be out of place in any small farming community anywhere on the planet. She heard a fan going somewhere in another room, and guessed it might be from the fire place, blowing the heat into the house. She snuck down the hall to a doorway, EE-3 leading the way, looking for any target. As she entered the threshold of two open French doors, a man rose from the chair facing the fireplace. He was surprised as she was. He recovered quickly, but she was faster. She fired, putting a burst of three shots right into his chest, throwing him to the ground.
She carefully entered the room and stepped around the chair, moving to cover the man if he tried anything. As she stepped around, she found the man wearing his pajamas. Quickly searching him, she was relieved to find out that he actually was a DOOP sergeant, and just not some poor farmer that she had ambushed and murdered.
“Sorry, Sergeant,” she said to the corpse. “It happens sometimes.”
She conducted a quick search of the rest of the house and found some passkeys that she thought might come in handy later. Apparently the Sergeant and his family lived here, since she found signs of children and a wife. Only a little sorry for making her a widow, Kyrie headed outside to look at the barn.
When she opened the doors, she found a sick and disturbing sight. Four DOOP Special Forces troopers had been beheaded, their still helmeted heads not far from their bodies. She found one of them pinned to the barn wall, a wood axe buried in the center of his chest. Suddenly, she didn’t feel so bad about killing the man in the house or destroying the HRR outside. Inside a small room at the back of the barn she found a set of stainless steel elevator doors. To the side there was a pad that required passkey access. Smiling, she thought, This is more like I expected.
After trying several of the keys she found, the door opened. She stepped inside and found only one button. Going down, she thought, pushing the button. The doors slid shut and locked in an ominous fashion. The car started to descend slowly at first, but it suddenly dropped like a stone.
She flew from a standing position and slammed into the ceiling of the car. She heard a screeching as the breaks engaged and she slammed to the floor. She heard a crack as she landed and her left wrist was hurting. She thought she felt and heard bones grinding together as she started to roll her hand around. Stopping halfway, she assumed that it was either broken of sprained very badly. “This is one of the last things I need,” she said as she reached for the medkit in her pack.
By the time the car stopped and the door opened, she had her wrist-a-majigger off and her left wrist wrapped. Aiming one handed, she walked into a blank white hallway. No cover, she thought looking around.
An automated turret dropped from the ceiling and started tracking her. With nowhere to hide in a four foot wide hallway, she closed her eye and waited for the end. The guns whirred to life, and she knew it would be over quickly. After a few seconds, when nothing happened, she opened her eye and saw that while the guns had been deployed and they were still locked on her, they hadn’t fired. Oh, the chambers were spinning and the energy blasts that should have been firing should have torn her to shreds, but nothing had happened. After several more seconds, the guns stopped and retreated back into the ceiling.
Not sure what she was to make of it, she shrugged her shoulders and walked down the hall to the simple wooden door at the end of the hallway. Should be Cubert’s lab, she though. It would be all over soon enough.
She walked into his lab, knowing that one of them, likely both, would die here. She had taken a huge risk coming here, but it had to be done. He was working on things that could end the lives of every being in the Universe, and something had to be done about it.
He was sitting at a desk, his back to the door, singing, badly, some song in a language that she had never heard before. Probably something he’s making up as he goes along, she thought. She heard him typing, followed by a contented sigh and an ominous beeping.
“Hello, cousin,” he said, not bothering to look at her. “I was wondering when you’d get here. I’ve been following your progress via the security cameras,” he said, motioning blindly to his left, where a bank of monitors showed all the places she had been. “It’s too bad that you destroyed my HRR. He was the best security that I had. Oh, and you’re welcome for my overriding the elevator and the turret in the hall. But that wasn’t a very nice thing you did to poor Sergeant Jacobs, though. He was nice enough and he had a wife and three kids, you know. Now who’ll provide for them?”
“Asks the man who just activated a Universal dooms day device,” she said.
“Hmm,” he shrugged, finally turning to face her. He looked completely mad to her. “I’m actually glad you came, Kyrie. I wanted to see you again before the universe ended. Just to gloat at someone, if nothing else.”
“You know what this thing will create, don’t you?,” she said, pointing to the bomb. The phrase ‘Things fall apart. The center cannot hold,’ blazing in green letters on the small black screen, with a timer counting down from 1000 next to it. “A monumental black hole. A swirling headstone marking the spot where we used to live and play and slaughter the innocent.”
“I fail to see the relevance,” he said, getting up and walking over to his work table to stuff a few items into a bag sitting on top of it.
“Are you out of your mind, Cubert?,” she asked, grabbing him by the shoulder and turning him to face her. “This thing will kill everything EVERYWHERE!”
“Yes, it will, won’t it? No matter. I’ve finally perfected the time-vortex manipulator. I can go to any when in the Universe. See, I’m gambling that the past will still exist, since the bomb won’t detonate until today. No reason to think otherwise. I’m planning on living out my life as a genius sometime back when I would be appreciated. Not like now. Why, I could go back and correct Da Vinci,” he said, smiling wistfully. “So many good ideas ruined by a poor choice of materials.”
“What the hell happened to you, Cubert? You used to be nice. Irritating, but still nice. You used to make all those toys for me.”
“The war happened, Kyrie,” he said, a maniacal gleam in his eye. “The war came and everything was taken from me. I was forced to invent different toys. More and more ways for you stupid apes to kill each other. Then an opportunity to correct it all… materialized, you might say,” he said with a laugh.
“We captured a Confederate research vessel, and they had the prototype for this,” he said, holding up the manipulator. “Along with other things,” he grinned evilly. “Now, those are all hidden here. Pity. I’ll only be able to save some of them,” he said, patting the bag on the table. Shrugging his shoulders, he said, “Oh, well. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to go.”
“No, Cubert. You’re not going anywhere. Or any when,” she said, raising her EE-3.
He laughed and said, “What are you going to do with that, girl? You can’t stop me. You won’t shoot. You’re weak, like your father. When I first met him, he was a coward. It took that freak mother of yours and her overgrown guinea pig to put some backbone in him. You’re just like him.”
“Oh really,” she said, hitting the ‘Max Charge’ button with her thumb. “I think you’ll find I’m much more like ‘that freak mother of mine’. You’ve got no way to stop me from killing you, Cubert. You wasted your last chance when you activated the bomb.”
“Oh, I’ve got the only weapon I need: time,” he said arrogantly, tapping some numbers into the wristband.
“Time flies when you’re having fun,” she replied.
“And tide wait for no man.”
“I can’t seem to find the …”
“Parsley, sage, rosemary, and...,” she sang.
“Wounds all heels.” This was getting irritating. He had almost completed typing the co-ordinates into the manipulator. If she didn’t shoot him soon, he’d escape.
“Is up,” she said, firing her rifle, blowing a hole in the center of his chest and throwing him back against the workbench and then to the floor. “Sorry, Cubert,” she said, walking past his slumped over form. His face had an expression that looked like a mix of surprise and relief. She really hadn’t wanted to do that to him, but had no other choice. The present just couldn’t stay the way it was, and when the bomb went off, there would be no future. And now she was the only one who could do anything about it.
She thought about everything that she’d lost: her parents, Bender, all her Sisters, the DOOP itself, and now Cubert and the Universe. This couldn’t be allowed to stand. No one should suffer this much, not while one person could do something about it. And it started with going back in time and stopping the war, or, at the very least, stopping Ohm from creating the monstrosity that was beeping more and more ominously on the table. Nibbler won’t be happy, she thought. Oh, well. He can deal with it. The thought that, if she was successful, she might cease to exist had crossed her mind, but what was one life compared to all of creation?
She walked over to Cubert’s work bench and started picking though his tools and inventions. "One of the benefits of having a super-genius for a cousin," she said to herself as she pocketed his sonic screwdriver and a few other pieces, "he’s always got the best toys, even if he is a nut-job." Taking the time-vortex manipulator off him, she thought about something her father had said once when she was four or five.
She was sitting in his lap as he sat in the turret of the old Planet Express ship, watching the Earth be taken by the Confederacy. She asked if everyone had gotten away from the bad men, and he told her no. Some people had chosen to stay behind and fight them in secret. “The light of a single candle can keep back the darkness, baby. As long as one person fights, there’s hope.”
“I’m going to be more than a candle, daddy,” she said, carefully setting the time-space coordinates. At least Cubert had set them for Earth; she just had to change the date. “I’m going to be an Oprah damned supernova.” She missed him. But, if everything went right, she’d see him again soon.
She activated the devices and disappeared in a pillar of blue light.
The timer on the bomb was at 3 seconds.