A Past With No Future, Part 5
By Kenneth White
Chapter 5: Days of Clandestine and Ruses
"What can I get you?"
The voice that asked the question was a pleasant one. The one that responded wasn't.
"Information," Leela barked to the bartender. "How many ways out of here are there?"
"Uh... aside from the main one, only a fire exit," the robot answered after a brief stammer. "And an alarm will activate if the fire exit is used."
"Did you see anybody leave this place in the last couple of minutes with an unconscious girl with reddish hair in a ponytail?"
"It happens all the time," shrugged the bartender. "But if you mean that girl you entered with who kicked that guy's ass earlier..."
He paused and indicated the large, leather-clad cad being taken away on a stretcher by two robots out the door.
"...then, yes, they left the building just over a minute ago."
"Thanks," Leela nodded, then turned towards the guys. "Let's go."
Bursting though the doors into the open air, Leela, Fry and Bender looked in all directions for any signs of Athena. There were none.
"Okay," Leela stated. "We'll split up and search. I'll head left, Bender can head right, and Fry can check the spaceport area. If neither of you sees a thing within five minutes, we'll rendezvous at the ship and do an aerial search. Got it?"
The two guys nodded without a word.
"Good," Leela answered, before turning to go. "And be careful. This place is just as likely to have you in some sort of trouble before you can get Athena out of hers."
And with that advice, Leela dashed off. Fry made a snort of sarcastic disgust soon after.
"Jeez, she thinks we're babies or something!" he muttered to Bender. "Talk about worrying too much. This place isn't that bad... I mean, look there."
Fry pointed at the two robots loading the unconscious guy on the stretcher into a white hover van with a large red cross on the side.
"They have an ambulance on stand-by if anybody gets hurt."
The two robots finished loading him in, then closed the rear doors to reveal the words 'RED PLUS: DOG AND ORPHAN MEAT SUPPLIES' painted across them. Fry laughed nervously, and quickly sprinted off towards the spaceport.
June 22nd, 2984
A purple streak tore through the void of space towards the rose tinted world of Planet Eternium, as a craft from billions of light years away reached its destination. Despite the distance it had just travelled, the small ship was by no means foreign to this world.
Below, within the structure known as The Hall of Forever, several of the Nibblonian inhabitants were interrupted just moments later. They were beings of mousy stature shrouded in cloaks of mousy hue, gathered in a semicircle of light at the heart of otherwise dark surroundings.
"Excuse my intrusion, elders," the intruder apologised, clearly short of breath. "But Ambassador Wuffy of Olympus Five has arrived. Along with The Mighty One."
All within the darkened room gasped and jabbered, save for a lone Nibblonian at the centre of the group who remained unmoved. Once things had quietened, he gave a slow nod of the head and spoke.
"Yes. I have been expecting this arrival."
More gasps surrounded him, and the female Nibblonian directly to his left spoke directly to him.
"Yes, Fiona," Elder Ken nodded. "I was contacted several days ago about this. There has apparently been an incident afar."
"Here he comes," the Nibblonian at the door informed.
The hooded Ambassador Wuffy appeared in the doorway a few seconds later, followed closely by a set of legs and a dull thud. Wuffy grumbled and turned around, scooting out the door again and forcing his associate to duck so that he could actually make it inside. After that was taken care of, he stood before the Nibblonian council, with a silent and vacantly-staring Fry behind him.
"Welcome Wuffy," Ken said with a solemn nod. "Ambassador of Olympus Five."
"Welcome acknowledged," Wuffy answered, sliding his hood from his head to reveal that he was missing his left eye. "I just wish my arrival could be on better terms."
"What is this tragedy that has befallen The Mighty One?" Fiona interjected.
"I'm afraid to say that our prediction of she that was supposed to be The Other was incorrect," Wuffy answered with laboured breath. "She that was known as Sibella Alexander is not the correct human female."
"But," said one Nibblonian, followed by a long pause. "We were sure she was the one! Her rare brain disease gave her the necessary mesencephalon compatibility factors in order for their offspring to be perfect for our cause."
"Or so we thought," Wuffy answered. "However, the new offspring she has just borne do not meet those criteria."
A collective gasp echoed around the hall.
"She has already given birth to his offspring?" a Nibblonian asked.
"Verily," Wuffy nodded. "Twins, in fact. Both female and male. And neither have the correct brain-wave patterns."
There was a long silence. Wuffy eventually broke it himself.
"That is why I have brought The Mighty One back here. I placed him in a subconscious trance before hand as a precaution. I wanted to address the council for our next decision."
"What of the female and her children?" Fiona queried.
"I didn't know what to do about them," came Wuffy's answer, along with a shake of the head. "So I simply got The Mighty One to write an apologetic farewell note and swiftly departed with him."
"If she was not The Other as you say," Ken stated with all firmness. "Then we have wasted much time. We must immediately put the matter back of course."
"Ambassador Nibbler?" Fiona asked. Ken's head bobbed up and down.
"Indeed," and then his focus returned to Wuffy. "Ambassador Wuffy. You must immediately return The Mighty One to Earth, where upon Ambassador Nibbler will once again assume control where he left off after you switched places on Olympus Five. Inform him en route and have him perform a complete mind wipe of everything since his premature defrostation. He must then be frozen once more until the thousand years is up or we have determined the identity of the real Other."
"Acknowledged," Wuffy said. "I shall take him there immediately."
"That's not all," Ken said. "Once that has been taken care of, you will have an additional responsibility. You must somehow take the one known as Sibella Alexander and her offspring away from Olympus Five. They must be taken somewhere where they will never be able to reach The Mighty One again. Take them to a sector of space where movement restrictions are extreme and watch over them. You are no longer Ambassador of Olympus Five. You are now Ambassador of the Alexanders."
"Thank cod you're here!"
The heads of Fry, Leela, Bender and Amy all turned towards the main door where Zoidberg had appeared, panting and looking rather dishevelled. They had all been sitting in the Planet Express ship's cockpit, planning their next move after not having found Athena.
"How'd you know we were back here?" Bender asked the crustacean.
"I didn't," Zoidberg responded between heavy breaths. "But I saw something, I did!"
"Just let me get a fork from the kitchen and I'll fix that problem," Bender stated.
"Does it have anything to do with Athena?" Leela asked quickly. Zoidberg's head wobbled up and down, his mouth-tendrils frapping with a jellied wiggle.
"Outside, looking for Fry and the robit, I was," he narrated, a claw manoeuvred to his right. "And then I saw two individuals running in my direction, with Athena in the clutches of the second one. I leapt out and tried to stop them, but I was knocked to the ground and hi-"
Zoidberg was cut mid-sentence as Leela barged through him, sending him down as she ran off the ship calling back, "Show us where, Zoidberg! Quickly!"
Two minutes (and three tramplings for Zoidberg) later, the five crewmembers found themselves crouched by some crates at one of the asteroid's spaceport edges. A large ship appeared before them, curvy with a shiny gloss of royal sapphire pearl and the name 'WARTHORN' printed on the side in plain white block lettering. It looked like a stately cross between a blimp and a wheel-deficient Corvette Stingray, and it sat there hovering off the edge of the asteroid, a long wooden boarding plank the only visible connection between the two. Nearby a large sign stood with 'Port Manteau' written on it.
"That's the one," Zoidberg whispered. "I saw them take her aboard it while I was searching that shipping container for Fry and Bender."
He indicated a large crate labelled 'Laser Bream' on the side.
"How are we going to get inside though?" Fry queried, a careful point of the finger to indicate two guards at the top of the plank: two tan-skinned beings with long white beards, horned helmets and muscles to boot.
"Well, I could try the whole wander-up-and-kick-their-asses approach," Leela suggested. "But I think something more stealthy would be better."
"Okay," Fry said forwardly as he pointed ahead. "I think I've worked out a plan. Leela, you walk over to the far end and climb that wall. Bender, you block any intruders just before the wall..."
"But doesn't the wall stop them anyway?" Bender interjected.
"Yeah, but I plan for you to self-destruct and take it out later," Fry added. "Zoidberg, you use your claws to dig through this wall. And by that time, Leela will be able to float down with an umbrella and kick some ass while the rest of us make it inside safely."
"Fry," Leela stated with dry annoyance. "Have you been using the ship's console to play Lemmings again?"
"No..." Fry eventually said after a long pause, his eyes darting back and forth. Bender stood up.
"Just leave it to me," the robot said with an air of assurance.
Opening his chest compartment, Bender twiddled his fingers before producing a blue cap with a badge on the front, a clipboard with paper, a pen and a glittery yellow calculator.
"Isn't that Hermes' pen and calculator?" Leela frowned.
"No," Bender defended.
"Yes it is," said Fry. "That's Hermes' golden calculator. And what would a robot need a golden calculator for anyway?"
"Uhh... I need it to, uh... divide the time it takes Leela to look inside and realize, that real guys go for real down-to-Mars girls."
"Well spluh!" Amy noted.
"Look, I'm trying to save your daughter's spongy, fleshy ass," Bender stated. "So just let me do this thing."
"Wait, Bender! Hermes' pen is..." Leela called, but he was already on his way. "...magnetic."
All they could do now is watch and wait as Bender ambled up the plank, hat on head and clipboard in hand.
"He'll be fine," whispered Fry. "So long as he keeps it away from his head."
By that point there was no turning back for Bender, for he had reached the plank's summit and was approached by the first guard.
"Halt! Who goes there?!"
"Can't you see?" Bender asked in a fake British accent, pointing to the badge on his hat. "Port inspect'ah."
"Sorry. Routine guard call when somebody approaches who isn't part of the crew," the guard answered.
"S'alright," Bender answered, looking at his clipboard. "Jus' a routine inspection is all. When you scheduled fer depart'cha?"
Bender tapped the pen to the side of his head absent mindedly, and it clacked onto it. He immediately thought the worst.
"As soon as the last two players arrive," the second guard said, stepping forward before giving Bender a suspicious look. "So how'd you get here anyway? We regularly stop here and I don't recall any inspectors before?"
"Well... I..." Bender started, and then there was a buzz. "On a warm Summer's evening. On a train bound for nowhere."
"So you just dropped in and got the job then? Who hired you?"
"I... uh," a buzz, "I met up with a gambler. We were both too tired to sleep."
"Oh, you mean Gambling Garry over at Boba Bet's place?" the second guard smiled. "I heard he got a top job at the port here somehow. He work with you?"
"Well... you see," another buzz, "We took turns a starin' out the window at the darkness."
"Sounds like Garry, alright," the first guard chuckled. "Well, go on through then."
Bender walked past them and into the ship, where he immediately swiped at the pen with a hand to dislodge it, sending it scattering across the floor of the long corridor he now stood in.
"Lousy, metal-clinging, hell-spawn device!" he muttered. "Now to find that stupid girl. Why I'm even doing this, I don't know?"
With that, a small Bender with a white gown, wings and a halo above his head suddenly appeared on Bender's right shoulder.
"You're doing it because you're helping your friends selflessly," the small Bender answered. "Without expecting anything in return."
"Shut up!" Bender yelled at it. "I thought I had you removed from my hardware, you stupid conscience hologram!"
"I was reinstalled with your latest upgrade," it answered.
"Well, buzz off!" Bender growled, pressing a button on the side of his head to make the hologram flicker away.
A careful amble down the perennial, blue-walled hallway led Bender past a sign indicating the bridge. Further travel brought him to that very area of the ship. Aside from the main screen ahead, many consoles littered the bridge in strangely random areas, attended by bearded individuals that looked as much like each other as a set of bowling pins. In a large chair on the right side of the room sat one particular individual who looked even bigger and hairier than the rest. A lanky, purple-skinned alien talking to him stopped upon seeing Bender enter, then pointed in the robot's direction, which saw the seated behemoth regarding him.
"Yo!" Bender responded casually.
"What are you doing on my bridge?"
"Jus' a routine port inspect'ah doing a routine inspection," came Bender's answer, his English accent returning. "Nuffin' ti' worry about. Unless, of course, you got somefing ti' hoide?"
"What?!" the hairy Captain barked. "I didn't authorize that!"
"Not your decision, I'm 'fraid," Bender stated, looking around the room as if to survey it as he jotted random notes down with his finger-pen. "Won' take long though... 'specially if you answer a few questions."
"Yeah," Bender nodded. "Jus' vague ones... not too specific. Got any drugs aboard?"
"What 'bout smuggled weapons?"
"Smuggled animals, plants, fruits or vegetables?"
"Last one... any kidnapped individuals of the genus Homo sapiens sapiens sapiens, female species at twenty years of age with maroon 'air in ponytail form?"
Two large, bearded men approached Bender from either side menacingly.
"So... I take that as a yes?" Bender queried.
Back outside, the other four crewmembers watched and waited impatiently.
"What's taking Bender so long?" Leela grumbled.
"What do you mean?" Fry answered, somewhat shocked. "He's only been in there a couple of minutes and that ship is freaking huge!"
"I know," Leela sighed. "I just always have to ask that when I'm impatient. I'm just worried about Athena."
Her look of worry switched to one of mild anger towards Fry.
"Which is something you should be doing more than me."
"Hey, just because I don't keep going on about it doesn't mean I'm not worried," Fry defended. "What do I look like... a female?"
"The ship's leaving," Zoidberg said in a casual nature.
"Shut up, Zoidberg!" twinned both Fry and Leela's voices. Zoidberg groaned.
"The ship is leaving, guys," Amy echoed.
"What?!" Fry and Leela's voices chimed in unison.
As indicated, the shiny blue ship's engines roared into life, and it made a gradual departure from the port's edge.
"Why didn't you say something, Zoidberg?!" Fry grunted, slapping the Decapodian across the face with a flashing, brightly-coloured fish.
"But, I..." and the lobster trailed off for a moment. "Are you going to eat that?"
"Yes!" Fry grumbled, and he took a massive bite out of the side of the raw aquatic creature. Zoidberg moaned again.
"Come on," Leela ordered as she stood up. "If we hurry we can follow them and use the ship's radar to hone in on Bender's homing device."
"Bender has a built-in homing device?" Fry queried as he and the others followed Leela back.
"If by 'built-in' you mean that I put it inside his head after the incident at the casino earlier in case he tried to pull a stunt like that again," Leela answered. "Then, yes."
June 25th, 2984
A swift scan of the room revealed nobody present, aside from the frozen individuals along the right wall. It was amazing what a call over the intercom announcing free bagels at lunchtime could do for a supposedly strictly guarded place. Being a Nibblonian, Nibbler would personally prefer free beagles to eat, but there was no accounting for taste. Especially where humans were concerned.
"Here we are, my friend," he said, retracting out of the room slightly to lead Fry inside. "Here to undo the mistakes we made here about sixteen months ago."
Nibbler's tiny hand left Fry's, leaving him just standing there expressionlessly as the Nibblonian inspected the cryogenic chambers. Fry's was still there, but unfortunately filled with the body of another individual. Nibbler gave an annoyed snort, but quickly turned towards Fry and stared intently at him. After just a few moments, Fry took a couple of steps forward, reached up with his left arm, and turned the dial on the chamber door.
As the frosty vapour hissed into the room from within the capsule, the lone figure's complexion warmed and his eyes opened. He had a stocky, muscular build, blackish grey hair and a drowsy, dopey look that stemmed beyond his sudden awakening.
"Welcome to the future," Nibbler said to him in words drenched with impatience. "Whoever you are. Please vacate the capsule to allow my associate here to replace you."
"Uhhh... yo!" the capsule's inhabitant eventually managed with a crooked smile. "I'm... uh... wait, I know this! I'm... uh... Oh yeah! I'm Sly Stallone," a chuckle, "Cool, you're a talking... uh... talking guinea pig.... or something."
"Yes, it's not uncommon here in the future," Nibbler stated. "Now please vacate so that you can be replaced."
"Uhhh... sure," Stallone answered, stumbling out. "Yo, what time is it?"
"Twenty eight fifty nine," Nibbler answered, leading Fry into the chamber. "We let you out early."
"Wait... I'm in the future?!" Stallone stammered. "I just thought this was a tanning bed."
Nibbler rolled his eyes as the confused action star stumbled out the room, then prepared to close the door on Fry's chamber.
"And now, my mindless friend," he stated. "I release you from your hypnosis."
Fry's eyes flashed wide, causing him to look in all directions like a confused cheetah.
"What the... wh-where am I?"
He glanced down at Nibbler.
"Oh, Pluto!" he sighed with semi-relief. "Now there's somebody I recognise. Hey, wait... your eye is fixed."
"Farewell, Mighty One," Nibbler answered. "Return to the slumber from which you were not meant to yet wake."
"What?! What are you talking about?! In fact, why are you talking at all? You can talk now?"
"That matters not," Nibbler said. "Not for now at least."
"Wait!" Fry screamed, taking another look around. "This is that freezer tube again! What are you doing?!"
"I am not doing anything. Merely undoing things."
"What do you mean?" Fry queried, calmer now, but sadder too. "Why?"
"Because I must," Nibbler said. "You are destined for another life and not this one. You were woken early. I am sorry. The fault lies with my associates and me. Not you."
"B-b-but... what about Sibella?"
"You were not meant to be."
"But... I... I love Sibella," came Fry's choked response, followed by anger. "How can you do this to me?!"
"I do so not out of choice, but out of necessity," Nibbler sighed.
"But... I can't live without her! How can you expect me to just carry on later like it never happened?!"
"Because I will be blanking your memory. You will have no recollection of her or any of your life since your unfreezing last year."
"So... everything about her will just be... gone?"
"It is required that you think your second awakening will be your only awakening. It will also erase any feelings of sadness or loss, since as far as you'll be concerned, there will be none."
"Maybe," Fry sniffled. "But that doesn't make it right."
"No. No it doesn't," Nibbler agreed.
"And what of Sibella's mind?" Fry managed after a strong sniff.
"She will be taken care of," Nibbler answered. "Her mind will unfortunately not be blanked given the circumstances, but we shall take care of her."
As Fry just closed his eyes and quietly sobbed to himself, Nibbler turned around and walked over to a nearby vending machine. His stalk-eye flashed at it and a can of beer popped out. Taking it, he waddled back over to Fry and held it up.
"Take this," he said.
"It'll take more than a beer to make me feel better," Fry answered as he took it.
"It's actually merely a prop," Nibbler answered with quite the amount of guilt in his voice. "You were holding one upon your initial cryogenic suspension."
"Oh," Fry whimpered. Nibbler tried to return as warm a smile as he could.
"Deepest apologies, Fry," he stated. "Now look into my eyes, and all shall be no more."
"Wait! Before you fire and I forget, I just need to be assured of one thing."
"That Sibella knows that I love her and always will," Fry whimpered. "I don't know what you've organised with her about all this... but... I don't want her to hate me, or think that I hated her."
"Don't worry," Nibbler smiled. "We'll make sure your permanent leave is handled as best for her as possible."
"Good. Go ahead then..."
And that was his final words before seeing only a closing door, and a bright flash.
"Wakey, wakey, my dear."
Athena's eyelashes flickered apart as consciousness, and sight, returned to her. The first thing she felt, aside from a throbbing headache, was intense pressure on her wrists and ankles. And the first thing she saw was a hideous smiling face. Crooked yellow teeth grinned from beyond a wispy forest of white facial hair.
"Welcome," it hissed. "Glad to see you're with us for training. After all, you have to be prepared before the arrival at our next destination."
The face moved aside, and for a moment all Athena could see was a greenish blur. Once her vision had sharpened, she could see a bunch of bearded ruffians running around what looked a lot like a large artificial football or soccer pitch. She also realised she was chained up on a slight angle by both her arms and legs.
"I am Coach Warthorn, and welcome to the main training area of the Sagittarius Villains!" her captor announced with pride. "The roughest, toughest team in the Savage All-Star Football League."
"Savage All-Star Football League?" she repeated woozily.
"Yes," Warthorn stated. "We're on our way to Sinsinnati to take on the Libra Conspiracy, Capricorn Demons and Aquarius Dinomutants."
He turned back to her with a devilish grin.
"And you, my dear, are going to be our new Quarterback."