The crew spent a few minutes making sure the ship was on track and pursuit had indeed been shaken. Amy found concentrating on the controls difficult, however. Ghud, Fry’s gone, she thought. She blinked back a tear. The sweet twentieth century man had been a friend for a long time and it was painful for Amy to imagine him not being around anymore.
It was more painful, of course, for someone else. “Poor Leela,” Amy whispered to herself as her hands ran through a systems checklist almost automatically. She didn’t know what to do! Gleesh, Amy, she thought to herself, anything would be better than nothing. She suddenly stood up. “I’d better go check on - ” she said.
“I’ll go with you,” Kif immediately interjected.
Everyone was surprised when the Professor spoke up. “No, my little green friend, I’ll go with Ms. Wong.”
The two left the bridge, and the others took up uncomfortable stations.
“Go away,” Leela said listlessly as Amy and the Professor hit the door chime.
“Leela, you shouldn’t be alone,” Amy said insistently.
“Screw off,” Leela said again without any emotion in her voice.
“Leela, I’m going to need your help to calibrate this chip-hunting sensor to find my uncle,” the Professor said.
Amy shot him a vicious look.
“Are you trying to piss me off?” Leela said, anger returning to her voice. The door slid open and the cyclops stepped out into the hall. Her hair was a rat’s nest of tangles, and her eye was puffy and red.
The professor held up a blinking gadget. “Oh my, no. But if you could hold off on your temper tantrum for a moment, I can tell you Fry is alive and we might just be able to find him.”
Leela studied the old scientist, trying to determine whether he was off his medication. Amy held her breath as the starship captain leaned forward, both arms out.
Leela wrapped her arms around the Professor and hugged him tight. “Thank you,” she breathed into his ear. The old man blushed slightly.
Leela straightened up and said, “So what’s next?”
Fry felt like he fell for a long time, but actually it was only three point three seconds. He hit the water hard, but the Farnsworth Personal Force Field absorbed most of the killing blow – and Fry didn’t remember any of it, being knocked unconscious. It was sheer luck that the detonation of the hydrogen implosion core caught the force-field bubble he was in like a leaf and flung him even further out to safety; otherwise he would have sunk deeper into the water and drowned, or been incinerated by the high-pressure steam blast from the explosion. Even with the field protecting him, he still suffered some grievous injuries.
He floated for a while on a bubble of energy formed by the FPFF, dead to the world. After while the power cell in the forcefield belt ran out, and he floated in the sea. After even more time passed, the hot sun beating on his face woke him up.
Fry opened his salt-crusted eyes. “Whaa?” he said.
“So you’re finally awake,” said the pirate looming over him.
Pirate? Fry tried to sit up. He immediately tipped over. “Oof.”
The pirate looked at him critically. He was dressed rather stereotypically, with a bandanna on his greasy hair, a large iron hoop through his left ear, and a crusty lace-trimmed greatcoat over his bulky frame. Twin sabers were thrust through his belt, and tucked into a breast pocket was a modern-looking laser pistol.
“Gonna live?” the pirate asked him conversationally.
Fry tried to rise up, but the rocking of the wooden deck he was on did not help. Wooden deck? He paused, propping himself up by his arms. “Don’t see that I have a choice, really,” he said, almost to himself. Suddenly he noticed an odd feeling in his right hand. With some more thought, Fry realized he could not feel his right hand.
Fry looked down and saw his right hand was gone, replaced by a wooden, whittled hook grafted onto his wrist. “Oh,” he said. “That’s kinda cool!”
The pirate let out a hearty bellow. “I like the cut of your jib, matey. What’s your moniker?”
Fry coughed up some seawater, and managed to stand. “My what?”
“Your name, man! Your name! I be Smiling Pratt, captain of this here sloop Betty Sue.” The pirate gestured around him.
“Oh. I’m Fry. Pleased to meet you,” Fry said. He took in the small circle of crewman around him, all dressed in odds-and-ends but none as flamboyant as Pratt. “So…you’re pirates, huh?”
“Why yes, Fry! And we’re on a mission to make a little booty,” Pratt said. “I think you’d be a good addition to our crew. Whadda you say?”
Quite an introduction, Fry thought to himself. Hmm, what would Leela do here? “My other choice is…?”
“We’d be happy to put you back in the sea,” the pirate captain said cheerfully.
Even Fry could take a hint – if it was blunt enough.
“Crewman Fry reporting for duty!” Fry said, saluting. Luckily he used his left hand, so that he didn’t gouge out an eye.
Over the next few days, Fry learned the basics of crewing of a sailing ship. He also ran up and down lines, lifted barrels and hauled pulleys with the other men, which exhausted him but also started to give him some endurance.
Learning to handle his hook was a challenge, too. Fry was told when the crew had hauled him out of the water, he had been missing his right hand – apparently lost in the blast. Luckily, his wound had seared shut and he had not lost much blood. The ship’s barber had sown the hook on – a procedure he had much experience with – and Fry was little worse for wear. Other, he thought, than how I scratch.
After two days of salt pork, hard tack and watered rum (all of which was better than Bender’s cooking), he looked up one day from where he was practicing a knot to see Pratt studying him.
“Ahoy, there, Fry.”
“Captain.” Fry saluted. “What up?”
“Fry, we haven’t talked about where we’re sailing or what we’re doing.”
“Well, we’ll be making a raid tomorrow.”
“Like, on a ship?”
“Indeed. We’re chasing a merchantman now, loaded with valuable trading metal.”
“Are you going to – hurt anyone?” Fry asked.
“No one who ain’t deserve it, boy.” The man guffawed and, seeing the look on Fry’s face, said, “Naw, we’ll be real careful. The merchant sailors don’t put up a fight if they know we won’t hurt ‘em.”
“Ah,” Fry said. He thought for a long moment. “I suppose that makes sense.” He changed the subject. “Look, Captain, when we make landfall, I do have to look for my friends.”
Pratt rubbed his chin and looked at Fry. “Shouldn’t they have come looking for you?”
Fry didn’t say anything. They are! I know it! he thought.
“You’re not like the rest of us, here, Fry,” Pratt said finally.
“Whadda you mean, Cap’n?”
Pratt smiled ferociously at him, living up to his nickname. “You still have hope.” The pirate left him alone for the rest of the day.
That night, Fry lay back on the deck and stared at the unfamiliar stars of the inky black sky. I’m going to find you, he thought to himself. I think about you every minute. I’m coming, Leela.
The Planet Express ship raced over the waves, as they followed the directional guide from the Professor’s chip tracker.
“Oh, now no one’s complaining that I put trackers in everyone’s career chips,” the scientist snickered.
Amy pointed to sandy beach on the island they were rapidly approaching, and to the line of jungle that marched across it. “In those trees somewhere, according to this thing.”
Oh, god, let him be okay, Leela thought to herself as she dropped the ship for a quick landing in a clearing away from the beach, between a thatch of giant palm-analogues. I swear I’ll be nicer if he’s okay. I’ll stop swearing, god, if he’s okay -
She throttled down the engines and dashed for the door, Amy right on her heels.
“The camouflage netting, you nincompoops!” the Professor shouted.
Kif put a hand on his shoulder. “Hermes and I will get it, Professor.”
Bender was already down the steps and plodding across the ground toward the jungle. Leela raced past him, heading for the trees. Amy followed her, scanner aloft and a laser rifle strapped across her back. “Leela, wait for me!”
Leela ignored her and dove into the thickness of the vegetation.
Amy swept the sensor around, looking at the display. Satisfying herself, she drew an arrow in the ground and moved some distance to her right, checking the reading again.
“Whatcha doing, meatbag?” Bender asked. He looked at Amy, and then looked at where Leela was ripping through the plants and trees.
“Triangulation,” Amy said. “It’s a trick Kif taught me.”
Bender laughed. “Maybe you’re smarter than we thought – and not even on your back!”
Amy scowled at the robot, drew another arrow and moved again.
“FRY!” Leela called from the jungle. “WHERE ARE YOU?”
“Bender, make yourself useful and stay with Leela,” Amy said.
“What, are you crazy? She’s gone nuts – you’re more likely to find Fry.”
Amy looked at the manbot with surprise. “Are you worried about him?”
“What? Sure – you worry about your fish, don’t you? Plus, he still owes me fifty bucks from our chuggin contest yesterday – he forfeited, you know.”
Amy shook her head. “Spleesh, Bender, you’re a real friend.”
“Don’t forget it. Hey, maybe I’ll have that engraved on the inside of my door…”
Amy ignored the robot’s monologue, and drew another arrow. Eyeballing the intersection of the arrows, she started walking into the jungle.
After perhaps fifty meters of hiking, and climbing over trunks and fallen rocks, she came to a pile of bones.
“Oh, ghud no,” she whispered. She bent down and began to push the bones with a stick. What she found caused her to leap back, hand to her mouth, and scream.
Leela was at her side in a moment, pistol out. “WHAT?! What is it?”
Amy pointed to the ground.
Leela stared for a moment, and then fell to her knees. She pressed her knuckles in her mouth.
Bender picked up the gory object. “Yep, a human hand. Right, it looks like.” His eyestalks zoomed in on the fingertips. “Well, look likes Fry’s fingerprints,” he said. “From what I can tell,” his voice caught, “with all the bite marks and everything!”
Leela, still on her knees, closed her eye and started making a strange snuffling sound. Amy knelt down next to Leela and wrapped her arms around her. “I’m so sorry, Leela, I’m so sorry,” Amy kept saying.
Leela’s moaning increased in volume until it exploded from her, and she shrieked at the sky “OH GOD NO! NO GOD NO, DON’T TAKE HIM FROM ME!” Leela then buried her face in Amy’s shoulder, sobbing.
After a few moments, Kif and Hermes came running, each carrying a laser pistol. “What’s wrong?” Kif said, looking around nervously. Amy quietly told him what they had found.
Bender stuck his grisly trophy in his chest compartment. “At least I’ll always have a memento of my favorite skintube.” He wiped a tear of motor oil from one eyestalk.
The group was frozen for a moment, unsure of what to do but wait for their Captain to come to grips with her grief. They all turned as the Professor shuffled into the clearing, finally catching up with Kif and Hermes.
“What’s all this now?” he asked.
“We found what’s left of Fry,” Bender said. “Just his hand.”
“His hand, you say?” The Professor went to Amy. “Amy, please give me the scanner.”
Puzzled, Amy moved her one arm from around the still-crying Leela, and handed the Professor the scanner.
“Oh my,” the old scientist said after a moment of scanning. “Yes, this device tracks Fry’s career chip, and its presently lodged inside Bender’s casing – along with Hermes’ watch.”
“Ye thieving worker bee of grand larceny!” Hermes said sadly, heart clearly not in it since their gruesome find.
“Oh, this is odd, though,” the Professor added.
“What is it?”
“This blinking light here clearly shows him alive,” the Professor said.
“What? We’re looking at his body parts,” Kif said.
Leela wailed again. “Sorry, Leela,” Kif said apologetically.
“Actually, Lt. Kroker, you’re looking at Fry’s left hand. According to the bio-sensor, which I tuned to Fry’s genetic code (thank you for that blood sample, Bender), the rest of him’s still alive somewhere on this planet. Without his chip, though, I can’t really get a direction on him.”
“How could ye possibly tell dat?” Hermes demanded.
“I’m the Professor, dammit!” the scientist said angrily.
Leela wiped her nose and looked up. “Please don’t joke about this, Professor. I don’t think I could take this…again.” Her voice cracked pitifully.
“Oh, this is no joke,” the Professor said. “However, I can’t get a fix on him with just this,” he added sadly. “We may have to wait until I can come up with something else.”
Leela stood up, wiping her pants. She took Amy’s hand and drew her up. Leela squeezed the Martian girl’s hand once. “Thank you, Amy,” she said softly.
Amy smiled and nodded.
Leela turned to the others, and put her hands on her hips. “Alright, we still need to top off our water tanks, and make sure we have enough food on hand.” She took a deep breath. “It’s hard to take, but we can’t do anything about Fry until the Professor figures out a way to track his location. Let’s get started on what we can deal with.”
She turned to Amy. “Can you supervise Bender in setting up the water desalinating equipment? We’ll need to run a hose down to the surf.”
“Hermes? You and LaBarbara should get a manifest of our supplies together so we know what to look for. Kif, you’re with me; we’re going to need Dr. Zoidberg, too.”
Amy looked at the starship captain in wonder. The best therapy for Leela, she thought, is to give her problems to deal with. I wish I could take command of a situation like her.
“What will we be doing, Captain?” Kif asked, taking Amy’s hand.
Leela cracked a wild grin. “Refilling the fuel tanks. Bender, fetch me my harpoon, please!”