After he and Pratt had tumbled to the deck, someone had been knocked over onto Fry, driving the breath out of him. As he gathered his strength and pushed an unconscious pirate off of him, he staggered to his feet just in time to see the Planet Express ship's bulk come to a blazing stop and hover over the deck of the Matei Pavel. The front landing stairs swung down, and a purple-haired woman with one eye came bounding down.
“Fry!” Leela yelled.
Her pony-tail streaming behind her, and her muscular legs flying, Fry thought she was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen.
“Leela, look out!” Fry shouted.
Leela spun through the air and knocked out the first pirate lunging at her with a sword. The second swung his blade over her head as she ducked, and then fell to the ground after two swift punches to his stomach and face.
Leela straightened up and ran over to Fry's side. “Fry, thank god you're okay!” She grabbed him around the waist.
“Leela – I'm so happy to see you,” Fry said, tears in his eyes as he wrapped his arms around her.
“Ow!” she said, pulling away. “Fry, my god – your hand!” She took his arm in her hands, staring at his hook. “You poor thing!” Leela had known Fry had lost his hand, but her whole life had been lived in a society able to quickly and easily re-grow body parts; she had no concept of permanent disfigurement like this.
“Oh, it’s not that bad!” Fry said. “Kinda cool, actually. I just have to remember which hand to use to scratch.”
Despite her concern at his injury, Leela laughed and hugged him tighter. “Oh, Fry. I've missed you so.”
“Me too. I mean, I've missed you; I can't really miss myself, can -”
Fry's run-on sentence was interrupted by Levar throwing himself at Leela from behind.
The three tumbled to the ground, Levar jumping up quickly and waving a sword. His clothing was singed from the missile’s backblast, and his skin had dirt and char on it, but he seemed unhurt.
Levar brandished the sword at Fry. “You treacherous cur! After all the Cap’n did for you! After saving you!” He growled. “I knew you were no good, softie.”
Fry held Leela. Her eye was closed, and she was unconscious. He looked up at Levar with fury in his eyes. “You hurt her, you bastard!”
Levar laughed mirthlessly. “Oh, I'll be doing more than that as payback, softie. And you'll be watching it.” He advanced on the pair.
Fry reached into Leela's boot and pulled out her hidden laser pistol. He pointed it at Levar. “Stop right there. Drop the sword.”
The pirate looked long and hard at Fry. The twentieth-century man was pale, and his hand shook slightly as he pointed the weapon. “You don't have the stones, softie,” Levar said dismissively.
“Try me,” Fry said. His hand trembled, but his eyes were steady.
Levar narrowed his eyes. He tossed his sword from hand to hand. “Can you shoot that thing?” he asked.
“Too many years of video games,” Fry said. His voice cracked a bit. “Put the sword down.”
“Okay,” Levar said. He feinted, and charged at Fry and Leela.
The first blast caught Levar in the chest. The next, a fraction of a second later, blew off part of his head.
The third blast, from a heavy weapon, set Levar’s corpse on fire. It slumped, mangled and bloody, at Fry's feet.
Fry looked up. Bender was on the landing leg, Zuban cigar lit in his mouth, laser rifle in his manipulators. “What?” the robot growled. “You still owe me fifty bucks!”
“Thanks, old buddy.” Fry put his right arm under Leela's shoulders, and lifted her to her feet. Although other pirates were watching the pair with angry eyes, no one wanted to chance the metal man with the heavy rifle standing over them.
Fry half-carried, half-dragged Leela to the foot of the ladder. She groaned, and her eye fluttered open. “Did somebody get the number of that bus?” she whispered.
“Thank god you're okay, Leela,” Fry said, a smile breaking out on his face.
Leela shook herself, and pulled away from Fry. “Thanks for the help,” she said. She noticed the chaos around them, and Bender standing above them. “Bender, are you...covering us?”
“What? Of course not! What kind of robot do you take me for? I'm just – trying to decide where to loot. Yeah! Those pirates got treasure, ya know.” Bender seemed embarrassed.
Amy's voice came over the loudspeaker from the ship. “We have a battle to intervene in, folks!”
Fry turned to Leela. “Which reminds me – WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!” Fry shouted. “Why are you helping those cyborgs? Aren’t they the bad guys? Aren’t us pirates the good guys?”
“We don’t have a choice, Fry!” Leela shouted back, feeling defensive.
“Oh,” Fry said. Fry thought for a second. He ran his good hand over Leela’s head. “Is it mind-control? Hypnosis? I can’t find any implants or anything. It’s hypnosis, isn’t it? Do you want my tinfoil hat?”
Leela knocked his hand away, irritated. “Fry, you idiot! It’s nothing like that! There’s a gamma ray burst bearing down on this planet, remember? The Professor has a plan to build a space shield to save the whole world, but only the cyborgs have the industrial base to implement it!” Leela struggled to control the disgust gnawing at her.
“Who else is going to build a space-based shield, Fry?” Leela gestured to encompass the wooden sailing ship around them. “Your pirates?”
“But…Leela,” Fry said quietly, “they hurt children.”
Leela thought her heart would break at his words and the look of disappointment in his eyes. “I know, Fry,” she said, a tear forming in her eye. “But what can we do? I’ve thought long and hard about this and I don’t know what else to do!” She started sobbing as her inner conflict finally erupted.
Fry wrapped his arms around her again. Leela lay her head on his shoulder and sniffled. Fry said quietly in her ear, “You’ll think of something, Leela. You always do. I trust you. And we’ll deal with this – together.”
Leela smiled and looked into Fry’s eyes. “Thank you, my sweet goofbag.” She kissed him, took a deep breath, and then broke free. Putting her hands on her hips, she said, “I guess first thing’s first. Do you know where the EMP bomb is?”
Fry nodded. “Two decks under our feet.”
“Oh your god!” Bender wailed from his spot on the landing stairs. “You mean I'm standing over it?”
“Come on! We've got to disarm it,” Leela said.
Fry looked at her, and nodded. “Follow me.”
Leela must have been feeling better, Fry thought, because any pirate in their way was summarily dispatched by a roundhouse kick or flurry of punches. The pair quickly reached the entry, and dropped through the hatch into the main hold.
The merchantman's double-sized hold was crammed with trading metal ingots, but Fry led them deftly through the shadow-dappled space toward the rear where the more tightly constructed powder room was. As they moved to that door, a pirate launched himself at Leela from a hidden space between two chests.
She caught his neck in one hand, pivoted on one foot, and slammed the hapless assailant’s head into a bulkhead. Dropping his nerveless body to the floor, she asked Fry, “Are we there yet?”
Fry grinned at her and opened up the door to the powder room, then stepped in with Leela close behind him.
In the center of the powder room the two saw the dull camo bulk of the EMP bomb, its covering tarp pulled off and pooled on the floor next to it. Standing over the bomb, fiddling at the control panel, was Pratt.
“Freeze!” Leela shouted, pointing her laser pistol two-handed at the pirate captain. Fry didn’t remember when she had taken it back from him.
Pratt turned a bright, sardonic smile on her. “Ah, you must be Fry’s lassie! A pretty one he has himself, if you don’t mind me saying, even with but a single eye.” His grin vanished. “I wouldn’t think you’d be working for those metal devils, though.”
“Move away from the bomb,” Leela commanded.
“Why don’t you put away your gun, dear?” Pratt asked. “I don’t think you want to be shooting that off in here.” He waved around him at the barrels of gunpowder and explosives.
Leela’s eye narrowed, her hands lowering slightly. “I don’t need a gun to stop you.”
“Leela,” Fry implored. “Let me try.” He stepped forward, hands out. “Captain Pratt, listen to me. This is hard to believe, but there’s….a wave. A wave of fire, headed this way – toward your world, from the stars.” Fry started talking faster as he was more sure of himself. “It won’t get here today, and it won’t get here tomorrow, but in a little more than eight years it will get here and it will burn every…living…thing. Everywhere!”
Fry took another step forward, trying not to startle the pirate. “My friends have a plan to shield this world from this fire, but they need the tools and the machines the Masters have. If the Masters die today, everything in the whole world – men, women and children, animals and plants – will die in eight years.”
Pratt looked at Fry with something like amazement. “Fire from space? A shield? What kind of story is this?”
“You don’t believe me, do you?” Fry said sadly. He looked down at his feet.
The three stood for a few seconds in a tableau. Leela held her breath, looking at Fry and the pirate captain.
“Yes,” Pratt said tiredly, “You know what? I do believe you, boy.”
The pirate captain turned back to the bomb. “I just don’t care.”
Fry froze for a moment in shock, and then dove at Pratt. The man knocked him to the ground with a cuff across his back.
Leela started to move, but Fry shouted, “NO! Leela, he’s my problem.” She stopped in place, pistol still half-raised, unsure what to do.
Fry got to his feet and said, “It doesn’t have to be about revenge, Captain. I know you want to hurt them because of your family. I know - ”
Pratt turned to him, face mottled with rage. “You know, eh? Eh, boy? You don’t know anything.” He pointed at Leela. “Come back and talk to me after they’ve gutted your sweetie like a lab rat, taking her one eye out of her flensed skull like some sort of prize. Then you’ll know.”
Pratt took a deep breath, and the smirk returned to his face. “No, boy, we won’t be talkin’ this one out. Come and stop me if you can.” Pratt drew out a curved cutlass which gleamed in the little light in the hold. Fry realized with a start that it was made of metal.
Pratt nodded at Fry’s recognition. “I made this one myself, boy. Took six weeks hammering on metal I pulled out of one of those devil’s spines, but it worked.” He pointed the tip at Fry and said, “Let’s see if you learned anything from me, boy.”
Fry stood, his hands empty. “I don’t have a sword.”
“Well, that’ll teach you to be more prepared,” Pratt said evilly, taking a step forward.
“Hey meatbag! You can borrow mine!” Bender said. The robot had followed them down the hold, curiosity about what riches awaited overcoming his caution. Disgusted at the “treasure,” Bender came to watch the fight.
Fry, Leela and Pratt all turned to look at the robot, Pratt with revulsion clearly on his face. Bender opened his chest door and pulled out a pink-edged sword, which he slid across the floor to Fry. “Careful with that, sweatsock! It’s lined with electromatter.”
Fry picked up the sword and looked at it. “Matter’s bad-ass grandmother!” he said in wonder.
“Ha Ha Ha Ha!” Bender laughed. “You’re going to get yours now, Grubby the Pirate! Electro-matter’ll cut through anything!”
“Good,” Pratt said grimly. “Then after I kill Fry, I’ll use it to cut out your filthy metal tongue.” He charged Fry. Pratt swung low at Fry’s legs.
Fry parried the blow and spun about, slamming his fist into Pratt’s side. The pirate captain leaped away, wheezing and smiling. “Nice move, boy.”
Leela was amazed – she hadn’t seen Fry move so fast since he had been infested with parasitic worms.
Pratt said, “How about this one?” and sliced toward Fry.
Fry blocked the blade short of his head, but dropped with a scream of pain as Pratt kicked the side of his left knee.
“Fry!” Leela shouted.
Pratt raised his sword and swung overhand down on Fry’s head. Leela brought up her laser pistol. Don’t miss, Leela, she thought desperately. Don’t miss. Her arms seemed to be moving through molasses.
Fry leaped forward from his crouch and drove his head into Pratt’s stomach, knocking the pirate captain back. Fry’s sword swept up in an arc, and Pratt’s sword clattered to the floor - along with two of his fingers.
Fry stood over Pratt, sword pointing at his chest, leaning heavily on his right leg and breathing hard. The pirate was on the floor, his back up against a box of shot. Pratt’s left hand was in his lap, clutching his mangled right.
“Yield, Captain!” Fry said hoarsely.
Pratt smiled up at him. “You learned good, boy.” He coughed and grimaced. “Real good.” His expression changed. “But I’ll never yield.” Pratt looked curiously at Fry’s electro-matter sword. “That really is as sharp as the metal man says.” He seemed to come to a decision.
“Here,” Pratt said, “let me solve one problem for you.” Pratt put his palms down, gathered himself and thrust up.
Fry stared in horror as Pratt impaled himself on his sword, driving the electro-matter-edged blade into his chest. Pratt howled in pain, but did not relent.
Fry dropped the sword and stepped back, falling as his knee went out. The sword remained jabbed through Pratt, the hilt sticking obscenely out of the pirate captain’s dirty laced greatcoat.
Leela ran to Fry’s side, putting a hand on his shoulder as they watched Pratt die.
The pirate captain smiled one last time, gurgled up blood and said, “It’s all yours, now, Fry. Do the right thing. Remember the ship!” His mouth went slack and his eyes went dull.
“Oh my god,” was all Fry could say, staring at the body.
“I’m sorry, Fry,” Leela said to him. She pulled his head against her chest. “I’m so sorry. You tried.”
“I tried,” Fry mumbled back, still staring at Pratt’s corpse.
“Hey, skintubes, we still got this thing to deal with,” Bender said, pointing a thumb at the EMP bomb.
Leela gave Fry a squeeze, and moved over to the bomb’s control panel. She used the comm on her wrist-thing to raise Kif on the ship. “I’m at the device; it says it’s a DOOP Planet Scale EMP bomb.”
“Roger. Tell me, Leela, is the device set to standby?” Kif asked.
Leela looked at the control panel. “Oh Lord! It says it’s armed, and is asking for the trigger code.”
“Alright.” Kif racked his memory. “If you tell it to go to standby, it should do that and de-arm itself without needing a code.”
Leela started to input instructions when a long groan from Fry caused her to twirl around.
The red-head had propped himself to his feet. Although he looked unsteady, there was a fierce cast to his face and determination shown in his eyes. “Damn them,” Fry said with cold fury in his voice. “Damn them!”
Leela had never seen Fry so angry. “Fry, what do – ”
“Step away from the bomb, Leela,” Fry said.
“Fry, I – ”
“I said step away from it,” Fry said, hobbling forward. With a bone-chilling yank, Fry pulled his sword from Pratt’s chest. Blood dripped from the blade onto the rough wooden timbers of the deck as he advanced.
Leela was still before the bomb, unsure of what was going on. Fry stopped in front of her. “I have an idea, Leela. Trust me.”
Leela frowned, but then nodded. “I trust you, Fry,” she said. Her heart swelled as he flashed her his goofy smile.
“Oh, trust me, he says! I knew I didn’t need to look around for a suicide booth,” Bender said tiredly as he sat down. “You two are doing a fine job with getting us killed!”