flew up out of the parabox with a loud yelp, swinging his arms for
balance as he swept into the air, and almost immediately hit the
ceiling. He seemed to hang in the air for just long enough to wonder
if perhaps all those old cartoons had been true before he plummeted
toward the floor, to land in a painful heap at the foot of the
box stood atop the shelves again, tilted toward the ground –
and Fry – in a worrying satire of their previous journey. Fry
barely had time to even laugh at the repeated events before Leela
came flying out straight at him, sort of like that dream he kept
having only much, much faster. He whimpered and closed his eyes.
wasn't quite as painful this time.
Fry,” Leela muttered as she lifted herself up from his prone
form. Fry tried to give what he hoped was a comforting reply but
which came out as more of a wheezing cough. He flopped over onto his
side. It was easier than trying to stay upright. For some reason the
gun lying on the floor next to his head was incredibly fascinating.
along the way Leela must have removed his rebreather and mask, though
he couldn't really recall when. Had he been asleep? It seemed likely,
sleep was one of his favourite occupations after all. He sat up at
the sound of Bender's clunking footsteps and smiled. “Home at
last... hey Bender.”
Bender looked down at his friend with a robot's best attempt at
puzzlement gracing his otherwise immobile features. “You've
been gone since yesterday. Not that I'm worried about you or
anything,” he added just a little too quickly.
smiled as he pushed himself to his feet. Bender, good old Bender,
always there to lend a friendly laugh and a helping gripper. Well...
maybe just the laugh.
you seen Leela?”
sure, she was on the ship bossing everyone around like she always
does. If you axe me she needs to chill out a bit.”
had a hard life,” Fry said quietly. He put his hands in his
pockets and then turned to Bender with a frown. Something had changed
about him. “Oh, hey, you got your head fixed already? That was
my what? Are you huffing altair baccy or something, Fry?”
mind,” Fry said, smiling to hide his confusion. Maybe Bender
just decided he didn't want to keep the memory of being shot in the
face. Fry sometimes wished he could do that, erase a few memories,
maybe even replace them with something else. It'd make things easier.
He winced as another twinge of pain washed through his head.
all right, Fry?”
I just bumped my head.”
long as you don't collapse and leave me to load the ship all by
myself. That's what big boots told me to tell you, by the way. To
load the ship.”
Normally Fry would have complained about it but not today, when he
could see just how great his life really was for him right now. Even
his worst days hadn't been so bad, really, and at least he had
friends. Even if they did wail on him now and then, he thought as he
glanced at Bender. The ever-present cigar was back in place as the
robot wandered along the boxes, tapping each one in turn. Fry looked
at the paraboxes piled high around him and the smile he wore shrunk
just a little, replaced by an eager determination to get the boxes as
far away from himself as possible. Without another word, and much to
Bender's confusion, Fry started dragging boxes to the loader as fast
as he was physically able.
buddy, you're making even less sense than normal and
you're working. You
sure you're all right?”
looked up at the re-assuring clatter of the hangar doors as they
slowly drew back to reveal a crisp blue sky. For a while she simply
stood basking in the bright heat of the sun with her eye closed,
letting the warmth – so powerful compared to the dull world
they'd left behinds – soak into her skin as if she were some
sort of lizard basking on a rock. It was comforting enough that she
almost managed to forget the last two days. Almost.
doors screeched to to a halt at the end of their tracks, rocking
slightly as they settled into place, snapping Leela out of her
reverie. She looked around and up at the ship where Fry was,
surprisingly, already unloading a large pile of boxes onto the cargo
lift. She waved to him before walking up to the conference room to
find the others, hoping she'd catch Hermes in a good enough mood to
keep her job.
enough Hermes wasn't there, even though she'd know him to sit waiting
for days on end to complete paperwork in the past. On the bright side
the map was waiting on the table, neatly folded with a printed set of
instructions for inputting its coordinates into the ship's computer,
which meant they probably hadn't been fired yet. Leela scribbled a
note to Hermes and stuck it to the conference table in front of his
usual seat before returning to the hangar, where Fry had just
finished loading the cargo lift.
thousand, give or take,” Fry said, wiping his hands together.
trips. It looks like each one is about three days out and back
again.” Leela held the map up to the light and examined it in
more detail, twisting it this way and that to see how sure her
calculations were. “Well... could be worse, I guess.”
By the way, could I borrow your shower?”
sure, you deserve a break once in a while. But go get Bender first so
we can get this over with as quickly as possible.”
gave Fry a bright smile and activated the cargo lift, which quickly
ascended into the belly of the ship. Fry turned away, ready to
retrace his steps to the storeroom when Bender emerged, carrying one
of the boxes above his head. He trotted over to Fry and thrust the
box into his face.
you wanna sneak into this universe and loot it a bit?”
asked me that yesterday.”
did?” Bender gave the box a puzzled glance then watched Fry's
retreating back as he walked toward the ship. He shook his head as he
made his way back to the storeroom, a single question stuck in an
annoying loop around his mind.
found Leela wandering around the flight deck, rubbing her head with
one hand while she lifted up various loose panels with the other. He
sat down at his console and listened to Leela's muttering for a
while, until it got boring and he had to say something.
keys. I could have sworn I'd put them in the ship before we left.”
Amy has them,” Fry said, pointing out at the conference area.
Leela looked across the bridge at him, then at the conference area,
where Amy had settled into a seat facing the ship with her arms
folded across her chest.
guess she could have
tidied up while we were away,” she said, slowly rubbing her
chin. Amy couldn't see them inside the ship, that much was obvious,
but she was staring intently at the cockpit. For
some reason she didn't look happy at all.
making her way off the bridge Leela gave it one last look, not quite
sure why she felt so out of place.
stood up the moment Leela reached the top of the stairs, advancing
toward her with undisguised resentment. She held out the ship's keys,
dangling them at arms length in front of Leela's face.
Leela said, reaching for the keys. Amy snatched them out of reach.
“What's got into you?”
You know exactly what's wrong, Leela!”
I don't,” Leela said as she slid into one of the seats. Fry
wandered past her and leaned on the rail. Amy stared at Leela with a
look of pure disbelief. She held up the keys as she sat down opposite
Leela; they clattered to the table's top a moment later.
playing games, Leela. You just can't stand that I might be able to
fly the ship as well as you. That's why you came back early, isn't
Amy, I don't know what-”
you know how much influence it takes to get a honeymoon suite at the
Vatican Hilton? Do you know how many favours I had to pull in for
you? I had to fill in forms!
and Fry shared a look. Complete confusion was normal for Fry but now
Leela thought she might have an idea of how he felt. “Amy...
what are you talking about?”
what honeymoon suite?” Fry finally sat down. If anything his
confusion had only grown deeper. “Did I miss, like, a memo or
yah, I can't believe
stormed off at the head of a trail of Martian expletives that only
cut off when the door slid gently closed behind her. And for some
reason that caught Leela's attention, more than anything else, as
being incredibly wrong. She looked around the conference area as she
tried to work out what was going on until her eye came to rest on the
deep red surface of the conference table. Deep, burgundy red.
looked at Leela with a curious expression but, before he could say
anything, the far slid open again and Amy returned, still muttering
her constant stream of invective as she lead Hermes and Professor
Farnsworth toward the conference table. Normally the sight of Hermes
approaching with the expression he wore now meant there would be a
need to clean ink from at least three fingers and one other appendage
before the hour was up but, then, normally he would have been
carrying an attaché case rather than a vicious looking laser
rifle. Farnsworth pulled a pistol from his pocket as they approached,
moving with more speed than his decrepit frame would suggest.
had Leela in his sights before she could even stand up. Hermes
levelled his rifle at Fry.
now I just got off the phone wid the nice people at the Vatican
Hilton and they said you two was quite firmly established in the
honeymoon suite. Yet here you are.”
held up his hand. “This whole honeymoon suite thing...”
Fry,” Leela muttered, easing herself out of her seat. She tried
to smile at Hermes but it was hard; the gun made her nervous.
“Look... this has all been a terrible misunderstanding.”
right about that,” Hermes said as he pressed his thumb against
the rifle's safety catch. The gun whined as its capacitors started to
charge. “Be careful, mon, they could be dangerous.”
held a scanning device up with his free hand and approached them
warily. He waved the device over Leela's frame, all the while keeping
the pistol pointed at her head.
true. Their quantum signature is out of sync with ours.”
were trying to steal the ship,” Amy said, pointing at Leela. “I
say we blow the tyen-sah duh uh-muo back to hell!”
blanched. She didn't need a translator program to figure that one
you... you, doo gway... whatever you are!”
whining of Hermes's rifle faded into the ultrasonic at about the same
time as a green light started to flash on its butt. The bureaucrat
glanced at his gun.
are they the same, Professor?”
they're evil all right,” Farnsworth exclaimed as he adjusted
the scanner. He held it toward Leela again. “The question is,
gway! Uh muo!”
have to test them,” Farnsworth continued, completely ignoring
Amy's outbursts. He tapped his cheek as he thought. “Perhaps
some combination of holy water and a cattle prod would suffice...”
settled it. Leela edged away from the table to give herself more
space, raising her hands at the same time to try and put the others
more at ease. She glanced at Amy; the young intern was staring hate
at Leela, repeating the same two words under her breath over and over
and clutching at some pendant around her neck. She'd never seen her
friend – or at least a facsimile of her friend – so
worked up over anything in her life.
Amy elbowed the Professor aside and tried to wrestle Hermes' gun from
his grasp. The simple wooden cross around her neck clunked against
the rifle's composite casing as they fought for possession of the
gun, with Amy screaming curses at Leela and Hermes and anyone else
she could name in the heat of her anger.
for god's sake, run!”
needn't have bothered. Fry had already bolted over the rail; Leela
heard his muffled yelp as he hit the floor at an awkward angle. At
about the same time Amy managed to wrest the gun from Hermes' grip
only to be thrown off balance by the sudden shift in momentum. The
gun fired of it's own accord when it hit the floor, blowing a huge
chunk out of the conference table and Leela, seeing an opportunity,
ducked away and vaulted over the rail.
found Fry hobbling toward the storerooms, too slow to make it before
Amy got her footing again. Leela grabbed his collar and practically
flung him over her shoulder as she belted for the door. A laser blast
sizzled past her ear as she reached the corner and cut a black burn
across the concrete floor. Flinging Fry inside, Leela turned at the
storeroom door to see Amy perched at the top of the stairs, eyes
almost aglow with righteous anger as she struggled with the
slow-charging gun. Amy swore and thumped her hand against the
weapon's casing in frustration when it refused to fire. Leela took
the opportunity to duck inside the room. She slammed the door closed
and ran into the store's interior.
tripped her and skittered across the floor whilst Leela managed to
stumble to a halt against the shelves. She looked back to see the gun
she had brought from the previous universe lying against a sealed
box, then looked around at the high-stacked shelves; almost all the
boxes were sealed shut, a fact she hadn't noticed before, prompting
the thought that perhaps her alternate here had been a little more
careful. Or perhaps the simple belief that all the other universes
were evil had been enough.
picked up the weapon and made her way back through the room, seeking
out Fry and a box to escape into. She found him cowering at the far
end of the room behind a stack of empty storage racks.
boned,” was all he could say. Leela was inclined to agree but
she forced the thought aside as she grabbed Fry's arm and dragged him
over to the next row of shelves. Why, she had no idea, but at least
she was doing something.
Unfortunately Amy picked that moment to turn up at the far end of the
room, waving the gun in the air. She spotted Leela right away and
aimed the gun at her without hesitating.
demon! You thought you could steal my soul but you were wrong!”
not-” Leela ducked as Amy fired again, knowing it was useless
if Amy was in any way a decent shot. She wasn't. The beam arced
harmlessly over Leela’s head, burning a hole in the far wall,
filling the room with a stink of burned paint and scorched composite.
a silent prayer of thanks to any gods that might be listening Leela
tightened her grip on Fry's arm, turned and ran down the length of
the nearest shelving stack for the far side of the storeroom. She
ducked to her left at the end and ran onward, Fry stumbling behind
like a puppy on too-short a leash.
ahead, she saw a shadow – please let it be someone
else! - and to her relief Bender
emerged carrying a box; crucially, a box with the lid off.
Leela yelled, triumphant, moments before a laser beam burned across
screamed, more in shock than pain, and let Fry tumble to the floor.
Ignoring the pain in her back Leela turned and let a shot rip back
down the corridor at Amy, who yelped in surprise and ducked back
behind the boxes, still swearing every other word. She lifted Fry up
by his coat and half turned toward Bender.
big boots, what's going on?”
Leela snapped. She grabbed Fry with both hands, her grip a little
awkward around his coat and the gun, and bodily hauled him through
the box before he could protest. “Get out of here Bender. Amy's
she's always nuts,” Bender muttered as he watched Leela's feet
disappear into the box. Without knowing why he did it, Bender slid
the box back onto a shelf and scampered from the store before Amy
could find him.