“Flurb, I can’t believe they’re still arguing,” Amy groused as she descended the gangway steps to the hangar floor. Fry just grunted as he followed her down. Something was digging at his gut, like he couldn’t quite settle down. Like Amy had suddenly gotten a little more relaxed for some reason, which he couldn’t understand. And like she was more hostile toward Leela and friendlier at the same time.
“I guess it’s-”
There was a crack, followed by another, and a loud zip of a bullet tearing the air apart over their heads. Fry gibbered and ducked with his arms wrapped over his head. Another crack. Amy screeched and spun to one side as if someone had tugged at her shoulder. She fell to the floor, her face more surprised than anything else, then screamed again in sheer terror as the pain finally overwhelmed her shock.
“Wa chi ao!” Her hand pressed against her shoulder and came away bloody. “I’m bleeding!”
Fry grabbed Amy’s shirt and dragged her behind the landing gear, ignoring Leela’s angry yelling and Veklerov’s surprisingly high-pitched anguish as they leapt from the gangway. Leela landed right behind him and grabbed Amy’s uninjured arm, speeding up their escape.
“I know, dammit!” She tugged Amy’s top apart, revealing a ragged wound across the top of her shoulder. Leela pulled off her shirt, ignoring Veklerov’s highly ill-timed leer, and quickly tore a strip off. “Hold her, here.”
She grabbed Fry’s hand and pressed it against Amy’s neck, just above the wound. He pressed his fingers against the wound, grimacing at Amy’s pained response. She grabbed his arm with her free hand.
“Phil, it hurts!”
“Oh don’t start,” Leela growled as she passed her improvised bandage under Amy’s arm. “I swear, if you come out with the ‘I’m going to die’ crap I’ll shoot myself.”
Amy screeched again as Leela pulled the bandage tight. She pressed a larger pad of her shirt against Amy’s shoulder and continued binding until the wound was completely covered, though not absolutely sealed. Then she sat back and pulled her knees up to her chest, and just stared into the distance. Fry pulled off his jacket and laid it under Amy’s head because he didn’t know what else to do, and because it seemed like it might help. He knelt beside her, though his attention was focused on Leela.
“Is she going to die?” His voice was shaking, but there wasn’t anything he could do about that. Leela glanced back at him and shook her head.
“No. But she needs to get to a hospital.”
“You’re damn right I- oohh... ai yah tien ah!” Amy flopped back against Fry’s jacket, whimpering against the pain in her shoulder.
Leela rolled her eye. “It’s a flesh wound. Stay still and it won’t hurt so much,” she said, touching Fry’s arm. He looked at her automatically, for the re-assurance her presence had always given him.
“How did she find us?”
“It’s not her. It’s Neena.”
“What?” Fry and Veklerov’s voices were raised in unison. They stared at each other.
“Sirochka, shooting at us? Impossible, she doesn’t have the...” Vek’s rant and bravado faded under Leela’s angry glare. She dismissed him with a contemptuous snort. “All right, I suppose she might have a few reasons. Where is she?”
“She’s at the back of the lab with the Professor. I think he has his scanners out again.”
“The decrepit fossil is probably too busy enjoying the show to realise he’s in any danger,” Veklerov grumbled. He leaned past his side of the gangway to peer at the lab, to be met by the sound of another shot being fired. A bullet whined off the concrete by his leg. “Oof, what the hell kind of a canon is that?”
“Three-fifty-seven Colt Python two, satin silver finish, nine inch barrel, composite... carbon...” Leela blinked, her mouth hanging open around the last syllable, her eye staring into the distance. She turned to Fry just as he turned to look at her.
“How do you know all that?”
“I have no idea...” she stared at her hands, sticky with the remnant of Amy’s blood, then up at the ship, though it seemed as if she was staring through it at something much further away. “It was just there. In my head.”
She shook herself, suddenly clenching both fists as she turned to stare at Fry. “She’s trying to kill you.”
“No kidding. I think I noticed that, Leela.” He reached out to touch Amy’s face, tracing a finger across her pale cheek, beaded with sweat as she tried to hide her pain. She smiled at him. “What did I do to deserve this?”
Leela didn’t answer. She was staring up at the ship again, her eye narrowed in thought. Fry risked a glance around the landing gear, just enough to see Neena lurking at the back of the lab with her shoulders hunched and tense. She spotted him and raised her gun but he managed to duck away before she could take aim. It didn’t stop her firing. The bullet smacked into the landing gear with a sound like an egg cracking.
“I’m getting a really weird déjà vu here,” he muttered, stroking Amy’s hair again. Leela shivered, rubbing her arms as the cool air of the hanger blew against her bare back. Normally he might have offered her his coat by now.
“Well I’m not going to sit here until she gets bored enough to come over and kill us all,” Veklerov grunted. He stood up, holding his hand out past the landing gear. “Sirochka? Lets talk, da?”
Another shot whined through the air, barely missing the tips of his fingers. Veklerov stumbled back, grabbing his fingers in reflex as the shockwave of the passing bullet shattered their tips. His foot slammed against Amy’s shoulder and he tripped over awkwardly, sprawling on the floor, dragging Fry along with him.
It happened so fast that Fry was unable to react before he found himself face down on the concrete, pinned down by the weight of a swearing Russian and disturbingly vulnerable. Amy was streaming out an almost unbroken string of Martian invective to match Veklerov’s, the combined words mixing in odd ways in Fry’s ears.
He turned his head, realising he was in full view of Neena. She stared at him from the back of the lab, her gun pointed almost right at his face. Neena’s face seemed to be twitching almost constantly, every tiny tick visible on her pale skin as she stared at him. All Fry could do was blink and try to look non-threatening – not hard given his predicament.
Finally, perhaps sensing his vulnerable state, Veklerov rolled off Fry and hustled back under the landing gear. Fry lay still. Waiting, watching Neena’s face.
“Fry, what are you doing?”
Leela’s voice. Close by, so it had to be his Leela. She was staring at him, inching her arm toward his pants. Fry shrugged, but couldn’t quite put words to the thoughts moving through his mind. If he’d known better he might have called it kismet, the idea that he couldn’t fight fate, but all he could really think was that he couldn’t be bothered trying any more. The floor felt dreadfully cold.
A bullet dug into the hangar floor behind Fry’s head. He sat up, his heart suddenly pounding as the reality of the situation returned to him; at the same time, Leela was leaping out in front of him with her arms held up, yelling at herself to stop. It seemed to work.
She landed on the floor with a grunt, the concrete scraping her arm and side. Fry could see Neena’s surprise – perhaps at the sight of Leela without her top, leaping about the hangar. Perhaps at the thought she’d actually defend Fry. Neena lowered her gun and tilted her head to one side before taking a cautious step toward them.
Leela pushed herself upright, wincing at the sting of her grazed shoulder. She stared at Neena, defying her to shoot again.
“Leela, get out of the way.”
“No.” Leela moved further out from the landing gear, keeping her body between Fry and the gun. She wrapped her arms around her body against he chilly air in the hangar and shivered, though perhaps not entirely due to the cold. “Why are you doing this? Where did you get that gun?”
Neena didn’t answer. She stared blankly at the pistol in her hand, turning it back and forth a few times. Then she looked up, determination returning to her face.
“Ask your friend. Yeah,” she said, sneering, every muscle in her body tightening. “Ask Philip where it came from.”
“What are you-”
“Ask him, dammit!”
Neena stumbled from the lab, ignoring Farnsworth’s anguished cry as she left his finely calibrated scanning fields in disarray. She held the gun out, her hand weaving from side to side as she staggered across the concrete, her skin pale and taut, with the first signs of a bruise-dark ring forming under her eye. Leela stood up as she approached and stepped forward, grabbing the gun before she could bring it to bear on Fry.
Veklerov, sensing his opportunity, scrabbled to his feet and up the gangway to safety. The airlock door slammed shut and hissed its seal a moment later.
“Get out of my way!”
Neena stared at Leela as if betrayed, her eye bloodshot and red-rimmed. Her hand went limp as Leela pulled the pistol from her grip before tossing away across the floor. The smell of the sewers was all over her; even from Fry’s position it was obvious, stinking up the place with a backwash of sulphur and cloying, bitter damp air. He closed his eyes and sighed. Leela turned her suspicious eye toward Fry.
“You told her?”
“I was just trying to help...” Fry looked up at Leela again, trying not to plead. “She wanted me to tell her how to find them, so I did.”
“Fry, I was...” she paused, frowning. “No, that... that’s not right, if she’d met them she’d be-”
“He lied! He never wanted me to find them!” Neena struggled out of Leela’s grasp and lurched toward Fry, reaching out to grab him. She was yanked back by Leela’s hand on her coat. “He never wanted me to see the truth!”
“Neena, you’re not making any sense. What truth?”
“He killed them!” Neena collapsed to her knees, clawing at Leela’s arms. She began to wail. “He killed them!”
Yancy felt this new dark Leela tense as soon as Neena emerged from the lab.
“Brown,” she muttered, confusion entering her voice. “Brown hair. Neena... kshaami chaahti hu ba hen...”
The moment passed. The gun jammed tighter against Yancy’s throat, almost choking him, but her eye was fixed on the scene playing out below. “No. No! She can’t... kill them you stupid-”
She pushed Yancy away. A frustrated yell escaped her lips and she turned away from him. “Want something right, you gotta do it yourself,” she growled, caressing the gun in her hands before aiming it down at the hangar floor. It took a moment for Yancy to realise what she meant until he spied Phil sitting on the floor, quite plainly visible beneath the ship. Amy was lying next to him, her shirt soaked deep crimson.
A nervous rage overwhelmed Yancy as the reality of the situation sank in; a sort of anguished protectiveness he’d never experienced toward his brother before, more powerful than he really appreciated. It dragged his foot forward, and then the other and before Yancy could think he was running back at this new dark Leela, hands outstretched toward her. A belligerent yell escaped his lips. He grabbed her arms just as her finger squeezed the trigger, throwing her aim off. The bullet thudded into the floor just past Amy’s head.
“What the hell!” Leela, or whatever she was, turned and punched Yancy in the gut then whacked him across the side of his head with the butt of her pistol. “You idiot! You’re as bad as he was, always getting in my way!”
Yancy choked on bile and spat, unable to respond, or to resist when this Leela grabbed his jacket and pulled him upright. Somehow he managed to duck the fist aimed at his face. Somehow. Without thought his hands swung up, one grabbing her hair, the other landing against her half-open eye with a disgusting squelch.
She screamed. Yancy had never heard Leela scream before. It terrified him, that anything could be so heart-rending. But then she shouted the most vile profanity he’d ever heard as she lost her footing. Leela shouted out, angry and terrified. Her hand locked around Yancy’s collar and he followed her over the rail.
A shot rang out and they froze as white-hot chips of concrete flew into the air behind Amy’s head. She wailed pitifully and tried to grab at the fresh cut the debris tore across the side of her face.
Later Fry would remember two things happening. First, the simultaneous, shrill scream of both Leelas as they both reacted to some invisible force against their eye. Second, the sound of his brother shouting. He looked up at the gantry in time to see yet another Leela, dressed all in black, dragging Yancy from an overhead walkway as they both fell to the floor. They landed in an oversized equipment locker with a muffled crash.
Ignoring everything, Fry leaped toward the locker, his gait awkward from fear and cramped legs as he lurched to his feet.
He reached he locker after a seconds that seemed like an eternity, breathing far harder than the moment of exertion would have suggested. Fry flung back the lid that had collapsed down on the locker and thrust his arms inside.
Yancy lay sprawled on top of the other Leela, the one he’d mentally nicknamed Evila; both lay on the mess of pressure suits, work overalls and the rags and ruins of various hazardous materials suits that the Professor evidently hadn’t found time to get rid of. He groaned.
“No, Yancy, don’t move,” Fry said, pressing his hands down on his brother’s back. Yancy grunted and hissed a pained breath through his teeth, but ignored Fry’s insistent pressure and pushed himself to his hands and knees.
“That better be the last of them,” he muttered, staring at the unconscious woman beneath him. Her lips parted as she took a deep breath, though her eye remained resolutely closed. “I think she’s out cold.”
Fry helped Yancy pull himself from the locker, where he crumpled to the floor and pawed weakly at Fry’s arm. “I just fell seventy feet.”
“Yeah, but...” Fry stared at the ParaLeela laid out in the bottom of the locker. She was still breathing, but barely. It sounded almost as if she was singing. He looked over his shoulder at Leela and Neena, both still rubbing moisture from their eyes and blinking as if they’d each got an eyeful of grit. He waved his hand at the woman; Yancy shrugged.
“I followed her up from the sewers,” he said, backing away from the locker. Yancy looked tired, as if the weight of the world were finally catching up to him. “She was following Neena.”
“She wants to kill me. She’s following me and trying to shoot me. I don’t get it.”
“It’s not just you.” Yancy leaned closer to Fry as they moved back toward the ship, lowering his voice. “We-”
The sound of a gun being cocked shocked them both into silence. They looked down at the unconscious ParaLeela, expecting to see her suddenly awake. She was still out. Then Amy gave a feeble moan, calling out Fry’s name in a way that tore at his heart. He’d promised Yancy he wouldn’t let her get hurt.
Fry slowly turned to look at the ship. Amy was still on the floor, staring fearfully up, though her fevered gaze kept flicking toward Fry and Yancy. Behind her, Neena stood. Her arm was around Leela’s neck, the other holding the pistol against Leela’s temple. She shifted her stance, a reaction to Yancy as he took a step toward her. The gun shivered in her hands.
“Yancy, don’t come any closer.” Her eye widened a fraction. “Just give me a clear shot.”
“No. He didn’t do it.” Another step. Neena’s hand shifted on the pistol’s grip, her nerves increasing as he moved toward her.
“Of course he did it! He never wanted me to find them!” The gun waved away, swinging through the air, its narrow muzzle a dark, glaring malevolent eye. “He drew that map so I’d get lost and never find their bodies. So they’d be recycled!”
“That’s not true,” Fry yelled back at her. The gun suddenly seemed to focus on him, shivering again as if it were living thing. “Leela, tell her!”
“Shut up shut up shut up! All of you!” She pressed her hand to the side of her head, oblivious to the gun for a moment, her eye squeezed tight shut. “He showed them up. They were liars! But he left the clues, you’ve got them Yancy,” she said, opening her eye again. “You’ve got the clue!”
Yancy’s hand tightened around something in his jacket pocket. He nodded. “I have it.”
“That’s the proof he was there!”
“Phil, have you got some ID on you?”
“Um, yeah, it’s in my wallet.”
“Can you show it to Neena?”
Very carefully, watching Neena for any reaction, Fry pulled his wallet from his pocket and flipped it open. He took out the little ID card they’d issued to him when he arrived and stared at it for a moment. “Wait, why am I doing this?”
Yancy didn’t reply. He held Neena’s gaze, reaching out to her with his free hand as he moved toward her. “You gave me this,” he said, holding up the card from his pocket. It was identical to the one in Fry’s hand, though a little more damaged from handling. Neena stared at it, then at the card in Fry’s hand, her eye bouncing back and forth between the two amidst a ferocious bout of blinking. She frowned and licked her lips.
“No no, no that’s a trick, it’s a lie,” she said, half-smiling as her mind raced over the possibilities. “It’s a copy or, or...”
The gun wavered. Yancy slipped the card back into his pocket. He took another step toward Neena, so that his outstretched arm was almost close enough to touch her. “Leela...”
He froze. They all froze, suddenly entranced by the quiet screech of the ship’s cargo lift as it descended to the floor, bearing Veklerov and a collapsible stretcher from the medical bay. He took in the scene before him as the lift crunched against the hangar floor.
The distraction was enough for Leela. She drove her elbow into Neena’s gut, pushing her off balance. Then she leaped and spun, aiming a swift kick at Neena’s head but the other cyclops rallied faster than Leela could attack and ducked out of the way. In the tumult Neena backed onto the cargo lift, gun waving back and forth, an angry screech escaping her lips. She brought the gun to bear on Fry once more.
He was getting used to the sight now, the vicious anger in the eye, the empty blackness of the barrel. Something blurred in Fry’s vision just as the gun went off. Something that yanked it out of the way, though he ducked from instinct, falling to his knees before he could really comprehend what had happened. It was only after he’d hit the ground that he realised who the blur had been
He looked up. Yancy was kneeling at Neena’s feet, as if in supplication, hen hand gripped on her upper arm. The other was concealed between his body and Neena’s, holding the gun and her arm against his abdomen. She stared at him, her face blank. The gun dropped from between them, smoke trailing from its muzzle. Yancy slipped a little further to the ground.
Yancy let go of Neena’s arms and carefully lowered himself to the ground, rolling onto his back. Neena stood over him with her hands pressed against her mouth.
“Oh, no,” she whispered.
Fry knelt down beside his brother. His heart felt terribly cold, in a way completely different to the experience he’d had on the ship before. He could feel odd shivers in his back and neck. “Yan?”
“It’s okay, Phil...”
“No it’s not! Don’t say stuff like that, I-”
“No, Phil, I mean it’s okay. I think it missed the important bits.” Yancy twisted, grunted, grabbing his side. He pulled his shirt up with a grimace and peered at the wound, a bright red crease diagonally down his side that just clipped across the top of his hip, weeping blood into his clothing at a fairly impressive rate. “God, that hurts...”
He looked up at Neena, his expression unreadable as hers. Neena seemed to have retreated into herself, into some private, terrible place. Her eye was locked on the floor just beyond Yancy and her hands were still pressed against her trembling mouth, knuckles almost glowing white from the tension in her fists.
Fry heard a sound behind him, from the locker, but when he turned to look there was nothing there. Something told him she would be gone, again. Long gone, hiding in another universe already no doubt. Leela seemed less accepting of it and made her way over to the locker. She peered inside, an oddly disappointed expression on her face as she fished out a slightly torn shirt to cover herself with. She turned to look at Fry, sorrow and a hint of anger clouding her features.
Fry turned away from her and looked down at Yancy. Then at Amy. She lay very still.