Author's Note: This fanfic is based on missions 10 and 11 of Vampire Rain. Special thanks to Trenton Sands for all of his help and support throughout the process of writing this fic.
This night can't get any worse, Fry thought gloomily as the cold, pouring rain beat against his head and shoulders.
His team's mission should have been over half an hour ago. But here he was in yet another alley, cautiously sneaking past nightwalkers that still roamed New New York.
The team's ultimate goal was to take down the prime walker who ruled over New New York. Fry and his team had identified him as Edward van Dyke. They had successfully stormed his lair and terminated him. As a result of his death, all nightwalkers spawned from Edward had been eliminated. Fry thought that after defeating Edward, his mission was over and he and his teammates could all go home and enjoy a nightwalker-free New New York.
Unfortunately, the mission was far from over, as Leela had reported spotting a live nightwalker walking the city streets. This meant that there was still another prime walker somewhere in New New York that needed to be taken out.
Fry's current mission was to follow Leela and catch up to her as she pursued the nightwalker, hoping it would eventually lead them to the other prime walker, whoever it was.
Now, it was a little after midnight. For the last ten or so minutes, Fry had been moving on his own, trying his best to avoid contact with the nightwalkers that New New York seemed to be heavily populated with now. Up to now, he had been successful. He was currently making his way through a dimly lit alley, on the lookout for Hermes.
Fry stopped in his tracks for a moment to take a look at his radar. He was relieved to see that he and Hermes were in close proximity to each other.
It's about time, Fry thought. I'm sick of being alone on these missions all the time.
He continued to walk forward through the alley, his boots splashing up rainwater that had puddled on the ground. The alley had two paths — one leading straight ahead out onto the street and one leading to the left.
A series of noises coming from the left alley made Fry freeze.
Fry listened hard. He heard repeated splish-splashing sounds, getting louder and closer with every passing second.
They're footsteps. And they're heading right for me, he realized.
Fry's heart began to pound from fear. He was getting tired of experiencing suspenseful moments like this.
Who's coming? A nightwalker?
Fearing the worst, Fry prepared himself by backing away as slowly and carefully as he could. He drew his pistol from its holster and aimed it straight ahead, waiting for his pursuer to reveal itself to him. He found himself unable to keep his aim steady due to his trembling.
Don't be a nightwalker. Please don't be a nightwalker, Fry prayed desperately in his mind as the splashing sounds got closer to him.
A few seconds passed. Fry sucked in a breath of air as he saw a figure begin to emerge from the alleyway on the left.
Fry tightened his grip on the pistol's trigger, but didn't fire. He was studied the figure, trying to determine if it was a target to take down or not.
It took less than a second for Fry to realize he had worried for nothing. The figure was a portly man wearing an all-black night combat uniform just like him.
Fry exhaled in relief as he saw the man was Hermes.
Hermes turned his head to his left and spotted Fry. He waved a hand, motioning for Fry to come over to him.
Fry slid the pistol back into its holster. He then walked toward Hermes, his heartbeat slowing down to normal.
"What up, Captain?" Fry whispered to Hermes when he was within earshot.
Hermes didn't answer right away. He put his back against the alley wall. Seeing that Hermes was serious, Fry did the same next to him.
"According to the radar, Turanga should be right ahead of us," Hermes whispered to Fry.
Fry and Hermes both peered around the corner, looking out onto the street. They both saw a bald Caucasian man wearing a black business suit walking on the sidewalk. The man seemed unaware that he was being watched.
Hermes reached up and flicked a small switch on his headset and studied the man for a moment. "Nightwalker," he whispered.
Hermes pulled his pistol from its holster and held it up next to his head. Fry nervously followed suit.
When the man had disappeared behind the building next to them, another figure slowly emerged from the front of the building that Fry and Hermes stood behind. It was Leela, stealthily following the suited man on the street from several yards behind him. She had her pistol out and held it at her side.
Hermes pressed the call button on his headset. "This is Conrad. Turanga, do you read me?" he asked in a low whisper.
Leela stopped moving and held her ground. "Yes," she replied in an equally quiet tone.
"Fry and I can see you now. We're only about a block behind you," Hermes breathed into the microphone.
"Great. Hurry on over," Leela whispered, her voice urgent. She then continued to sneak after the man.
Fry and Hermes were about to make their way over to her — but they stopped suddenly when they saw a dark red hovercar zoom over the road and stop next to Leela. The passenger side door flew open, and a gloved hand reached out, grabbed Leela by the arm, and pulled her inside the car.
As soon as Leela felt her arm being grabbed, she tried with all her strength to pull free of her nabber's grasp. Its grip, however, was much too strong — inhumanly strong. It held Leela's arm in an iron grip and yanked her into the car with minimal effort, as if she were nearly weightless.
"Ow!" Leela's head banged against the top of the car's doorframe on her way in, causing pain to rush through her head and her to utter a brief, pained cry.
As Leela was thrown against the leather backseat, the first thing she noticed was that the car's interior walls, doors, and seats were blood-red in color. How appropriate, Leela thought. To her, the car's blood-red interior was a painfully obvious sign as to what her captor was interested in.
Leela sat up straight and raised a hand to her head. Rubbing the spot where she had hit her head, she glanced around the inside of the car and quickly scanned her surroundings.
It only took a brief moment for Leela to realize she was in serious trouble.
Inside the car were three men, two in the front seats and one seated next to Leela. The air inside the car was strong with the sweet, subtle odor she'd noticed lingering around parts of New New York where there was nightwalker activity.
I'm surrounded, Leela realized. Surrounded by nightwalkers.
Leela looked to her right at the man seated next to her (the man who had grabbed her) and studied him. He was very tall and slender, with dark, African-American skin, and unusually long, spider-like legs that made him look more like a creature than a human. He was clad in a punkish-looking, tight-fitting black leather uniform with metal cuffs on the wrists and black boots. He had a bald head.
The man turned to face her. As Leela looked into his face, she was repulsed to see that his left eye was completely white and he had a gaping scar in the center of his forehead.
He looks like something out of a nightmare, she thought. He's not a man. He's a thing.
The creepy-looking man seated next to Leela reached over her lap, grabbed the door, and pulled it, slamming it shut. Leela attempted to grab the door handle to open it back up, but right before she could pull it, the driver hit the switch that made every door lock, leaving her trapped inside the car.
Having witnessed Leela's failed attempt to escape, the man uttered a deep, cruel snicker, as if mocking her effort. It was unlike any laugh Leela had ever heard before. Although it was a short laugh, it had an intensity of evil that Leela never thought could exist in a laugh. It was the devilish laugh of someone who took the utmost pleasure in making others suffer in the most twisted ways devisable.
The man in the front passenger seat turned his head around and glared menacingly at Leela through dark, intense eyes. He had straight black hair and a shaft beard, and wore an olive-green jacket and blue jeans. Although his physical appearance wasn't nearly as intimidating as the other man's, Leela could practically feel his eyes burning into her only eye.
"You're coming with us," the man declared in a gruff, icy voice.
Leela knew she had to think fast. She would have to fight off the men before she could unlock the car and escape, but how could she do it? Karate would do her no good in this situation. Nightwalkers, she knew, were far more agile than herself and would rip her to shreds before she could land a punch. She knew her pistol wasn't a much better option, but since it was all she had, she decided to go for it anyway.
"Fat chance!" Leela cried defiantly. She raised her pistol as quick as a whip, pointed it at the face of the man who had grabbed her, and started to pull the trigger.
But before she could pull it all the way and fire, the man attacked her.
It happened in the blink of an eye. Leela had no chance.
Razor-sharp claws burst through the fingertips of the man's black leather gloves. He raised a hand and thrust it downward against Leela's chest and stomach, his claws tearing through her protective vest and plunging deep into her skin.
Leela dropped the gun. She squeezed her eye shut and uttered an agonized cry as she felt the pain explode in her. It was a fiery, excruciating pain unlike anything she'd ever felt before. It felt like a set of long, sharp nails being driven into her chest and then being dragged down to her belly at breakneck speed.
Harsh, diabolical laughter boomed in Leela's ears. She knew without looking that it was coming from the man who had just slashed her. The loud, triumphant laughter was telling that the man was absolutely ecstatic about administering the near-fatal blow to Leela.
Leela hated the man and his laughter with every fiber of her being. That laughter is so obnoxious, she thought. The laughter at Leela's expense, wicked and gleeful at the same time, riled her up and made her want to haul off and punch the man's lights out to make it stop.
Unfortunately, in the critical condition the man had put her in, she could do nothing but wait for the pain to fade.
Leela opened her eye up and looked down at where the man had wounded her.
Oh my God, Leela thought as she stared in horror at the sheer amount of blood leaking from her torn skin. It flowed downward like a stream, starting from her chest and puddling on her seat, then pouring from the seat onto the floor, pooling around her boots.
I'm almost dead, she realized. All because of this son of a bitch.
The evil laughter stopped.
The man in the front passenger seat spoke up. "Don't try that again," he growled at Leela, "or I'll finish you off myself." For a moment, his skin turned pale and he glared at Leela through monstrous green eyes. He bared his teeth at her, revealing sharp fangs.
Leela scowled back at him hatefully. She had never wanted to kill anyone as much as this trio of monsters.
The man reverted back to his human form and turned his gaze to the driver. "Step on it," he told him.
The driver obediently stomped on the gas, and they took off.
The man driving the car tilted the rearview mirror to take a brief look at Leela. He was taller than the man sitting next to him and a little more well-built. He had short brown hair and a short Van Dyke beard. He wore a black leather jacket over a black shirt and blue jeans.
"She looks like the one you got in the sewer, James," he said.
At that remark, the man next to Leela uttered another loud, evil laugh.
Leela looked over at the man apparently called James tossing his head back, laughing cruelly, and glowered at him. The blood remaining in her body boiled as she took the harsh reality in. Her heart pounded from rage. She couldn't have felt any more furious.
That was my mother, you asshole, she thought angrily.
Being put in a degrading situation like this and being forced into helplessness was bad enough. But then finding out that she was sitting next to a creature responsible for killing her own mother . . . the realization pushed her over the edge.
Now, it wasn't just about killing James because he was a nightwalker. Leela wanted to kill him out of pure hatred. She wanted nothing more than revenge for what he had done to her and her family.
Leela balled her hands into fists as she rode and listened to the rain drumming against the car's metal roof. She turned her attention to the passing buildings and the window wipers brushing away the falling raindrops; she couldn't stand to look at James a second longer. As she watched the scenery, dark, angry thoughts stormed through her head, consuming her.
I'll get you for this, you bastard. Just wait and see.
No. No. No.
The word repeated in Fry's mind over and over as he stood witness to the scene that had unfolded before his eyes.
This isn't happening. This can't be happening.
From the distance he was at, he couldn't get a very good view of what was happening inside the car.
There's Leela. Is she holding up a gun?
Fry saw Leela suddenly get knocked back, the back of her head slamming against the window. He saw the gun fly out of her hand for a split second. Then he saw a dark red substance splatter against the window.
Fry's own blood froze.
No. Oh God, NO!
Fry was in a full-on panic. Without thinking, he stormed out from behind cover. Hermes reached out a hand to grab Fry and pull him back, but he was too fast. Fry dashed frantically toward the car, his heart pumping wildly.
I've got to save her! I've got to!
As Fry neared the car, he could see Leela more clearly. He saw that her vest was ripped on the front and soaked with blood.
No. No. No.
This can't be happening. This can't!
At that moment, Fry didn't care about anything except Leela. He was going to do whatever it took to get her out of there, and fast.
Fry continued to speed toward the car, his boots pounding against the rain-soaked pavement. His heart was now thumping so hard against his chest, it hurt. He ignored the pain and kept moving.
I'm almost there. Almost there.
But just as Fry was several feet away from the car, it rose up and shot away before he could reach it.
As soon as he saw that he wouldn't be able to save her, Fry stopped in his tracks and stared at the car as it flew off into the distance, an expression of utter hopelessness on his face.
NOOOOOOO! Fry howled in his mind, horribly devastated that he had failed to save his teammate.
Leela is the woman I love. How can they do that to her?
Fry heard footsteps pounding against the pavement behind him. Looking back, he saw Hermes rushing toward him, his features locked in an expression of shock.
"Sweet hybrids of Madrid!" Hermes cried as he watched the car speed off. "They got Turanga!"
Then, Hermes's expression turned serious. He reached up a finger and punched the button on his headset to call Bender. "Rodríguez!" Hermes barked into the mike. "Bring the command vehicle over here ay-sap!"
Fry and Hermes glanced to the right, and were relieved to see Bender flying the command vehicle in their direction. He stopped the van in front of the two soldiers. Hermes ran around to the passenger side and climbed into the van, while Fry got in through the back doors.
Bender turned to face Hermes. "What the hell do you want, Tyler Perry?" he snarled as if he had better things to do than take orders from Hermes.
Hermes pointed a finger ahead at the car that had taken Leela. Although distant, it was still visible. "Some nightwalkers captured Turanga. She's in that car," he explained, his tone urgent. He eyed Bender. "You're the robot. Use your sensors on them and track them down!"
"Let 'em have her! One less bitch to worry about!" Bender snapped thoughtlessly.
Hermes's expression turned furious. He glared sternly into Bender's square pupils. "Rodríguez! If you don't help get Turanga back, I will flush your job at Planet Express down the toilet!" he threatened.
Bender narrowed his bulbous eyes at Hermes in a show of resentment. Now that his job was on the line, he had no choice but to give in to Hermes's demand, and that irritated him to no end.
"Fine! Why don't you eat a peanut butter and crack sandwich?" Bender shot back at Hermes. He grudgingly stomped a metal foot on the accelerator and took off after the car.
Fry sat on the bench near the computer monitors, staying silent as Bender drove. He looked and felt crestfallen as he listened to the rain pattering steadily against the roof of the command vehicle.
It's not fair, Fry thought sadly. The one woman I love, and she gets taken by nightwalkers.
All Fry could think about was Leela. He kept picturing her being yanked into the car, unable to fight back. He couldn't shake the gruesome image of Leela's blood splattered against the inside of the window, or the scratches on her torso that looked like they had been made by some feral creature.
It served as a reminder of what he was up against, and it chilled Fry to the bone. He knew Leela was as tough as mutants came, and the fact that nightwalkers had gotten ahold of her told Fry they were even more dangerous than he'd imagined.
If Leela can't save herself from these things, how am I supposed to save her? Fry thought glumly.
He remembered how badly Leela appeared to be injured, then he had another perturbing thought: What if she dies before I can save her? Or what if she's already dead?
Fry continued to dread the inevitable search and rescue mission with every passing minute.
Finally, about half an hour after Bender had begun to chase after the car, Hermes ordered him to stop and park.
Fry looked out the front window of the command vehicle. He saw that he and his teammates had traveled quite far, and were now in the outskirts of New New York. The command vehicle was parked a block away from a sprawling construction site.
Bender had made sure to remain a good distance away from the car in order to keep its occupants from figuring out they were being followed. Now the car stood floating in a parking space near the construction site, vacant.
Where'd they take Leela? Fry wondered.
Hermes's voice interrupted his thoughts. "Listen up, men," he instructed. "Our current mission is to locate and rescue Corporal Turanga."
"No s**t, Flip Wilson," Bender said sarcastically.
Hermes ignored Bender. "In order to locate her, we'll have to analyze the video data from the probe. Take a look at the screens."
The three soldiers turned their attention to the computer monitors. Each screen displayed a video showing the construction site from an aerial view directly above it.
"Uh . . . I don't see Leela," Fry said.
"Hold on," Hermes instructed. He punched several keys, and a glowing orange blip appeared on the screens. It sat in the center of the tall metal building undergoing construction.
"There she is," Hermes said. "Turanga has a transmitter on her, so we can keep track of her location at all times. It looks like she's somewhere inside that building."
Hermes turned his gaze to Fry and Bender. "Now that we know where she is, we can go in and find her. Rodríguez, stay in the command vehicle and give us backup. Fry, come with me."
Fry gulped. Studying the monitors, he could see several nightwalkers stationed around the site. Sneaking past them wasn't going to be easy; if any one of them caught him, he was done for.
"Y-yes, sir," Fry stammered in response to his leader's order. Hermes opened the back doors of the van and started to head out, with Fry reluctantly following behind him.
"Have fun in the rain, losers!" Bender called after them. He sat with his back against the driver's side door and his feet up on the front passenger seat, then grabbed a bottle of booze from inside his chest compartment and began to guzzle its contents.
Fry and Hermes dropped to the ground behind the command vehicle. Once outside, they felt the chill of the numerous raindrops falling from the sky. Hermes slammed the back doors shut, then glanced at Fry.
"Come on, mon. Let's go save Turanga!" Hermes exclaimed in a hushed voice, and began to jog toward the construction site.
Instead of running after Hermes, Fry hesitated and thought about Leela one last time. He had major doubts about this mission; failing it meant death. But if this was what it was going to take to get her back, so be it.
This is for you, Leela.
Praying for the best but fearing the worst, Fry sprinted after Hermes to catch up to him, the rain doing its best to dispirit him as it poured down on him.
Fry found himself in the entryway of the underground building he had just descended into. It was a small, drab room, with pale green stone walls. A couple of inactive machines sat on either side of the room, and there were a couple of boxes stacked in one corner. Directly in front of Fry was a door.
Fry stood in place, staring at the door. He was afraid to proceed, knowing for sure that there was danger behind it.
However, Fry didn't have a choice. Leela had to be somewhere in the building, and it was his mission to get her out at all costs.
The mission, however, was proving to be much more difficult than Fry had expected it to be.
When Fry and Hermes saw how tight the security around the building under construction was, the first thing they did was split up to minimize their chances of being detected by the nightwalkers. As usual, Fry had to go it alone.
Fry thought that all he had to do was sneak into the building, find Leela, and then leave together. After all, her readings were coming from inside the building.
But when Fry managed to infiltrate the building, he didn't find Leela. Instead, he found her transmitter, which had been removed to prevent her from being found.
Fortunately, Fry overheard two nightwalkers (the ones who had admittedly captured Leela) talking to one another. From what he had overheard, Leela had been taken to a holding facility, and one of the nightwalkers wanted to interrogate her there.
Fry now knew that in order to find Leela, he would have to follow her captor and let him lead him to her.
Fry stalked the nightwalker as it made its way out onto the street. There, it met with another nightwalker who wanted to deliver a package to the building where Leela was being held. To get there, they used a hovering delivery truck. But before they left, Fry sneaked onto the roof of the truck in order to get in without being caught.
The nightwalkers stopped the truck inside a sprawling material storage yard filled with guards. The nightwalker that captured Leela took the package into a small cabin with a tall fence built around it. In order to get over the fence, Fry had to sneak around the guards, climb onto a building, and ride a wire that ended inside the fence.
Once he had entered the cabin, Fry descended down a metal ladder, which was how he got into the room he was in now.
For a few moments, Fry stared at the door ahead of him, a heavy feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach. He was afraid to open it, knowing there were deadly nightwalkers inside.
But Fry had made it too far to turn back now. He had to go in there and rescue Leela or else he'd never be able to leave.
Fry approached the door and put one ear against it, listening hard. He didn't hear anything on the other side of it.
So far so good.
Fry gripped the knob with one hand, twisted it, and slowly pushed the door open. He was faced with a short hallway that turned left. A couple of metal barrels sat near the end of the wall to Fry's left.
Fry moved slowly and cautiously toward the barrels, out of fear of being heard. He crouched down next to the barrels and peeked around the corner.
Fry was faced with a long hallway that turned in two different places — right about halfway, and left at the very end. To Fry's relief, the hallway was completely empty. There wasn't a nightwalker in sight.
Feeling somewhat at ease, Fry's heartbeat slowed to normal. He stood up and began to tread at a normal pace through the hallway.
As he neared the first turn, Fry spotted a small window on the wall to his right. Peering through it, he realized he was looking into what appeared to be an office. He saw a desk on either side of the room. Both desks were littered with papers. The one on the left had three glowing monitors. The walls were lined with shelves full of wooden boxes.
Fry was relieved to see that no one was inside this room, either.
Fry continued to walk toward the end of the hall. But before he could reach it, he heard a sound break the heavy silence. It sounded like a grunt of effort.
Alerted by the noise, Fry froze in his tracks and listened hard, trying to determine where the grunt had come from. It seemed to be coming from the room to his left.
Fry spotted a window on the left wall. He peered through it — and his eyes went wide.
There she is!
Fry saw Leela on the floor of what appeared to be a storage room, its walls lined with box-filled shelves just like the other room. She lay on her left side, facing away from Fry. Her protective vest had been removed, leaving her white tank top exposed. She had been stripped of her weapons and ammo. Her wrists and ankles were bound together with cords, preventing her from moving.
Leela continued to grunt with effort, straining to break free from the cords that held her in place.
Fry also saw two men in the room with Leela. He recognized one of the men as the nightwalker who captured her and wanted to interrogate her. The other man, whom Fry didn't recognize, had a short brown beard and wore a blue jacket and gray jeans.
Fry noticed that the man held a white plastic card in one hand.
Fry watched as the two men left the room, shutting the door behind them. He then crouched down, put his back against the wall, and slid over to the corner.
Peering around the corner, Fry saw the blue-jacketed man swipe the card through a keycard lock. There was a beep of approval, and then Fry heard the sound of a deadbolt clicking shut, meaning the door was now locked.
I've got to get that key, Fry realized. But how?
Fry had no time to think about it. The two men turned around and started to make their way down the hall toward Fry.
Fry moved his head back, tearing his eyes away from the two men to avoid being seen. He could hear their footsteps drawing closer to him. His heart began to pound again.
They're going to find me if I stay here. I've got to hide.
Fry's first thought was to run out of the building, going back the way he had entered. He glanced to his right and saw a security guard blocking his route at the end of the hall.
So much for that.
The only other escape route Fry could see was a hallway cut into the left side of the main hall.
Fry decided to take it. But he was so desperate to elude his enemies, he forgot about stealth and frantically ran into the hallway, his boots pounding noisily against the floor.
"Did you hear that?" Fry heard a voice ask from behind him. He froze in his tracks and listened.
"Yes. It sounded like footsteps," another voice replied.
"I'm going to investigate."
Fry's heart pounded faster. His forehead began to perspire.
Crap. They're on to me, Fry realized as he heard the nightwalkers' footsteps approach him.
Fry scanned the hall for any way he could escape. He spotted a door on the right side of the hall he had entered.
Maybe I can hide in there.
Trying to be more cautious this time, Fry walked over to the door, careful not to make any additional noise. Knowing he was in danger of being discovered made his hand tremble as he reached for the doorknob. He twisted the knob, pulled the door open, and slipped into the room. As he steadily closed the door, he held the knob in place to prevent the latch from clicking. He then slowly turned the knob to allow the latch to slide noiselessly into place.
Fry turned away from the door and examined the room. He was now in the office he had seen a minute earlier.
Fry scanned the room for a good hiding place. He had to find one fast; he could hear footsteps on the other side of the wall. The footsteps were slowly (but surely) nearing the door that he had just entered.
Fry's eyes landed on the desk with the three monitors. It was a large desk with enough room for him to crawl under and hide.
Should I hide under there?
No. They might spot me on their way out.
Fry could hear that whoever was making the footsteps was almost at the door now. A bead of sweat rolled down Fry's forehead. He gritted his teeth and twisted his face into an expression of sheer panic.
Hurry up! You're gonna get caught!
Scanning the room, Fry saw that in the right-hand corner of the room there was a row of cabinets in front of some metal lockers standing against the wall. A few cardboard boxes were scattered around that area, some stacked on the floor and others sitting atop the cabinets. The cabinets were tall enough for Fry to hide behind.
Perfect! I'll hide there!
Fry darted behind the cabinets and ducked down just as he heard the doorknob turn and the door swing open. He heard one set of footsteps on the floor. Although Fry couldn't see his pursuer, he could hear him making his way into the center of the room.
Fry prayed in his mind that whoever walked in wouldn't spot him. With only a pistol and an ultraviolet knife for protection, he couldn't afford to be caught.
Fry's pursuer walked into his view and stood at the small desk. It was the man in the blue jacket.
At that moment, Fry couldn't have felt more tense. As quietly as he could, he backed up against the wall and covered his mouth with both hands.
Don't turn around. Don't see me, Fry prayed as he tried to stop the physical symptoms of his terror with no success. He couldn't stop the rapid beating of his heart, the perspiration, or the trembling of his body.
It was because he knew the man was a nightwalker; a fierce, fast, bloodsucking creature with no restraint when it came to attacking humans. All the man had to do was turn around and Fry would be his next meal.
Fry held his breath and waited.
Don't see me. Don't see me.
"I could have sworn I heard something," the man muttered to himself. He reached one hand into the right pocket of his jeans, pulled out an item, and placed it on the desk. Then, to Fry's relief, he turned without looking in his direction and made his way over to the door.
As soon as he heard the door shut, Fry let out an immensely relieved sigh and mopped the sweat from his forehead with one hand.
That was too close.
His anxiety gone, Fry climbed to his feet and walked over to the desk to see what the man had left on it. After studying the desktop for a moment, he spotted the object.
In his disbelief, Fry's mouth fell slightly agape.
It was the keycard for the room that Leela was trapped in.
Without a second thought, Fry swiped the card from the desk and walked out of the office.
Before making his way out into the main hall, Fry looked in both directions. To his right, at the far end of the hall, the man who had left the card was talking to a security guard. Peering left, he saw that the small remainder of the hall was void of hostiles.
Fry went out into the hall, turned left, and slunk back to the storage room door. Once there, he held out the card and swiped it through the keycard lock.
A small green light lit up on the lock. There was a quiet beep, and Fry heard the door's deadbolt snap open.
This is it! I'm going to save Leela! Fry thought, his heart pounding with excitement.
Fry twisted the knob, pulled the door open, and stepped into the room.
Fry bent down beside Leela, who was still trying to squirm out of the cords to no avail. "Leela," he whispered.
Leela stopped struggling and turned her head as far as she could to the right. Her eye widened in surprise when she saw Fry kneeling on one knee next to her. "Fry?"
Fry smiled and nodded his head.
"How did you get in here?" Leela asked, her tone indicative of her disbelief that Fry of all people had come to rescue her. "There's guards everywhere."
"I snuck past them," Fry answered laconically.
"I figured that," Leela said dryly. "Look, I never thought I'd say this, but can you untie me?"
Fry reached to the back of his utility belt and pulled his knife from its sheath. He lowered the blade to the cords that held Leela's wrists together. "Hold still," he warned.
Carefully, so as to not cut Leela, Fry sawed the knife through the cords until they split apart and her wrists were free. Then he went to work on the cords that bound her ankles. Half a minute later, Leela was free.
Leela got up on one knee and turned around to face Fry. As she did, Fry couldn't help but stare down at the front of her torso. He wished he hadn't. The sight of Leela's torn, bloodstained tank top sent a wave of nausea rolling over him, as did the long red scratches running down her chest and stomach.
"Geez, that looks bad," Fry remarked, his voice filled with concern. "Are you okay, Leela?"
"Yeah," Leela replied. "It stopped hurting a while ago."
"Good. Thank God you're alive."
Fry pressed the call button on his headset. "Fry to Captain. I've got Leela," he reported into the mike.
"Good job, Fry," Hermes said on the other end. "I'll have Rodríguez drive the command vehicle to your extraction point. In the meantime, get out of there."
"Roger that," Fry replied, and ended the call.
Fry and Leela both stood up.
"Come on, Leela," Fry urged, pointing a thumb at the doorway. "Let's get outta here."
Fry and Leela carefully slunk out of the storage room and out into the main hallway. As Fry was about to turn the corner, he saw that there was a security guard stationed nearby. The guard had his back turned to Fry and Leela.
Fry felt a stab of nervousness. He knew what he had to do in this situation.
As quietly and carefully as he could, Fry began to creep toward the guard. His heart pulsed with each nearly silent step he took toward the guard. Although he had done this before, the thought of getting up close and personal with nightwalkers still terrified him. One step too loud would get him caught and killed.
As Fry slowly neared the guard, he reached into his utility belt and removed the knife from its sheath. With one thumb, he silently pressed in a button on the knife handle. The blade lit up with a bright blue glow, almost like a miniature blue lightsaber. Fry could feel the intense heat radiating from the ultraviolet energy that the knife was now imbued with.
When he was in reach of the guard, Fry swiftly lowered the knife and plunged the searing hot blade into the guard's back.
The guard let out an inhuman cry of pain as the knife's UV energy scorched his insides. He then fell to the floor like a lifeless ragdoll and melted into a puddle of steaming acid.
Fry clicked off the knife's UV energy and slid the knife back into its sheath. A satisfied smile formed on his face as he stared down at the acid puddle.
His smile faded, however, when he heard two sets of footsteps coming from the hall leading to the office he had hidden in a minute before.
Fry crept back to the corner and took cover next to Leela. Ever so slightly, they both peeked around the corner to see who was there.
Sure enough, two guards emerged from the hall. One of them stopped and stared down the hall in Fry's direction. The other guard turned left into the hallway away from Fry.
Two guards with one knife. This is going to be tricky, Fry thought.
Fry turned on necrovision and quickly scanned his two targets. The guard who had stopped to stare down the hall had an orange aura, indicating that he was a nightwalker. The mobile guard, however, had an unusual yellow aura about him. The guards were both joined by a thin red line.
Fry now knew that he had to target the mobile guard. The yellow aura and the line indicated that he was a parent walker, and that he had bitten the other guard to turn him into a nightwalker.
Kill the parent, kill the spawn, Fry remembered from his training.
Fry watched the stationary guard intently, hoping he would look away.
The guard soon grew tired of monitoring the part of the hallway leading to Fry. He turned left and began running toward the other end of the hall, unwittingly leaving his partner exposed to Fry.
Neither guard was looking in Fry's direction. It was time for him to make his move.
Fry stood up and stole toward the parent walker, trying to move quickly and furtively at the same time in order to catch up to him. He had to hurry up and take out the guard before he passed by his partner, who had stopped near the end of the hall.
Fry's heart pounded as he neared the guard. He was unsure if he could kill him in time. With every step, he was getting closer and closer to his partner.
Fry picked up his pace and readied his UV knife, hurrying to get close enough to the guard to stab him without being heard.
But right before Fry came within stabbing distance of the guard, he was nearly beside his partner.
Desperate to kill the guard, Fry ran the rest of the short distance and stabbed the UV knife at the guard right as he and his alerted partner turned around and saw him.
Fry's heart nearly leapt out of his chest.
But before either guard could attack Fry, the UV knife's searing blade lodged in the parent walker's stomach. Feeling the deadly heat of the knife's UV rays on his insides, the walker uttered an inhuman cry of pain, collapsed to the floor, and began to melt.
The other walker remained frozen for a moment. Then he keeled over and melted into a puddle of acid, just like his partner.
Fry stood in place, staring down at the two acid puddles at his feet. He breathed in gasps. He couldn't believe how close he had just come to being killed.
Leela ran up to Fry. "You almost bought it, Fry," she whispered.
"I know," he gasped out quietly. "Geez, that was close."
Leela waited until Fry's breathing slowed to normal. Then the two of them listened hard. They heard nothing but silence throughout the building.
"I don't hear anyone," Leela said. "I think it's safe to go now."
"Yeah. Let's go," Fry replied, his tone indicative of his perturbation. He didn't want to stay in the building another second.
The two soldiers made their way back to the building's entryway without any more enemy encounters. Once there, they climbed up the ladder leading outside.
As he and Leela climbed, Fry felt relief flow through him as he got closer to the surface. The sound of the rain pattering against the ground became louder and clearer.
It was the sound of freedom from the hellish building they had to endure.
As soon as he and Leela were outside, Fry knelt down on one knee and pressed the call button on his headset.
"Fry to Captain," Fry said into the mike. "Leela and I made it out of the building. Where's the command vehicle?"
"Rodríguez parked it on an off-site road behind the cabin," Hermes answered.
"Thanks. See you soon." Fry ended the call.
Fry walked around the cabin, but then realized that he and Leela were stuck. They were surrounded by a tall fence, and the cabin was too high for either of them to climb over.
"Uh . . . I think we're stuck, Leela," Fry said.
"No, we're not. We can make it over if we work together."
Leela knelt down on one knee, held her hands out, and cupped them together. "I'll boost you up onto the cabin. When you get on top, pull me up."
Fry put one foot up on Leela's hands. With a grunt of effort, she lifted him up. Fry grabbed the edge of the cabin's roof with both hands and hoisted his body up onto the roof. He then turned around, bent down, and reached down one hand for Leela. Leela took Fry's hand, and he pulled her up onto the roof.
When they both got on top of the cabin's roof, they looked down to see the command vehicle hovering over a road nearby.
Fry and Leela didn't waste a second. They dropped down onto the road and hurried over to the command vehicle, eager to get out of the rain and away from the nightwalkers.
A few minutes later, Leela sat on the bench behind the monitors inside the command vehicle. She wore a black spray-on vest in place of her old one. She hadn't spoken a word to her teammates, who all surrounded her and were gazing at her intently.
Leela's eye shifted from Bender's eyes to Hermes's, and finally landed on Fry's. Fry sat next to her, staring into her face as if expecting something.
Finally, Leela uttered the word that Fry wanted to hear: "Thanks." She said it in an appreciative-sounding way, although Fry thought he could detect what sounded like a hint of embarrassment in the way she said it.
She's not used to being the one who has to be saved, Fry thought. She's always been the tough, brave one saving me from danger.
Nevertheless, Fry smiled warmly at her.
"You'd better be thankful!" Bender raged at Leela. "We wasted the last hour running around just to save your sorry ass!"
Hermes slammed both hands against the desk. "Silence, Rodríguez!" he snapped at Bender, quickly turning his head for a moment to glare at the robot angrily through his rimless, square-shaped glasses.
Hermes then turned his head back to face Leela. The fury vanished from his face. "Don't worry about it, Turanga. Next time, just be more careful."
Bender and Hermes started to turn around and make their way to the front of the van, but they whirled around when Leela added, "Wait."
Hermes stared at Leela. "What is it?"
"There's something important I have to tell you," Leela said. "That guy that kidnapped me — I don't think he was an ordinary nightwalker. Considering how fast and strong he was, I think he's a prime walker, like Edward."
Hermes took a seat on the bench next to Leela. "Do you know where he went?" he asked, continuing to maintain eye contact with Leela.
"No. He didn't stay around long enough for me to ask," Leela replied.
"Maybe he ran away because he was afraid to see your ugly one eye giving him the evil eye," Bender cracked.
Hermes looked daggers at Bender. "Rodríguez . . ." he growled.
"Don't listen to him," Fry assured Leela, staring into her eye. "You're beautiful, Leela."
"Thanks, Fry," Leela said. She turned back to face Hermes. "He may have gotten away, but I got a shot of him with my combat cam."
"Good. Let's see it," Hermes said.
Fry, Bender and Hermes all watched intently as Leela pressed some buttons on her headset. Then a hologram image of the walker projected out of the headset in front of Leela.
"There he is," Leela said.
All of the soldiers studied the image. The image was a bust shot showing the walker from the chest up. The walker appeared to be a slender African-American man with a bald head wearing some sort of black leather suit with straps over his shoulders.
Fry's face scrunched up in repulsion as he took in the sight of the man's face. The man had one brown eye and one solid white one, as well as a gaping scar on his forehead.
"Ohhhhh," Fry groaned.
"Sweet llamas of Bahamas!" Hermes cried in disgust. "That's who kidnapped you?!"
Leela nodded, causing the projected image to bob up and down. "That's him."
Bender laughed derisively at the hologram. "Hey, Dennis Rodman! Did you get plastic surgery in hopes that Carmen Electra will take you back?" he cracked, and laughed again.
Hermes shook his head at Bender's joke. "What's his name?" he asked Leela.
Leela shut off the hologram. "James," she replied.
"Let me send a request to headquarters for anything they might have on him," Hermes said. He leaned over a keyboard and typed for a few moments.
Seconds later, a biography with the walker's picture appeared on one of the monitors.
"Ah, here's something. His full name is James Smith," Hermes reported, reading off the screen. "They don't have much info on him other than that. His bio says that he's 'unpredictable and violent, even for a nightwalker.'"
"They got that right," Leela said bitterly. "I didn't have a chance against him."
As sick as it made him feel, Fry couldn't take his eyes off of James's scar. "How did he get that scar?" he asked timidly, as if he didn't really want to know.
Hermes continued to read from the screen. "'Smith was responsible for the massive attack on the ODC lab in 2003. Forty-six out of forty-seven soldiers were killed in the massacre. The only soldier to survive the assault was Corporal John Lloyd, who shot Smith in the forehead, leaving a permanent scar.'"
Silence swept the room as Hermes finished reading. No one spoke. A chill ran down Fry's spine as he began to understand how dangerous James Smith really was.
This guy has "lived" for more than a thousand years. Entire armies couldn't stop him. And who knows how many more have died at his hands?
The ringing sound of an incoming call broke the silence. "Brannigan to team leader."
"Yes, Colonel?" Hermes replied.
"We found out what happened to Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth," Brannigan reported. "He was abducted by nightwalkers and they've been holding him captive for the last three or four months."
"So that's where he's been this whole time," Fry said, thinking out loud.
"Why are you telling us this?" Hermes asked Brannigan.
"Professor Farnsworth might have some first-hand information about the nightwalkers in New New York," Brannigan replied. "We need that information. Your next mission is to find and rescue the Professor!"
Fry's mouth dropped open slightly, as did Hermes's and Leela's. For a moment, none of them spoke, filling the room with shocked silence.
Fry couldn't believe his ears. After all he had done to rescue Leela, now he was faced with another rescue mission?
Bender threw up his metal hands in exasperation. "Great!" he cried, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "First we gotta save Eyeball over here. Now we gotta save the Professor. You've got to be f**king kidding me!"
Fry and Leela didn't pay any attention to Bender. Their eyes were locked on Hermes, who had a troubled expression on his face, as if a disturbing thought had suddenly crossed his mind.
Fry wondered what Hermes was thinking.
"What if they turned the Professor into a nightwalker?" Hermes asked uneasily.
"Well, you know how to take care of a nightwalker, don't you?" was Brannigan's cold reply before he ended the call.
The soldiers stood silent in disbelief. They knew what Brannigan meant by what he had just said.
Hermes lowered his face and stared down at the desk. He was clearly apprehensive about their next mission, as were Fry and Leela.
If they went ahead with the mission, would it be the end for them . . . or the Professor?