Fan Fiction

Stranger In A Strange Land, part 12
By La Belle Leela

Chapter 12

The Court Martial of Zapp Brannigan, Part One.”

(D.O.O.P. Central Administration Facility, 09/15/3008 - 0800 NNY time)

The day for Zapp Brannigan’s court-martial had arrived. Leela, Fry, Dave, Bender, and Amy were scheduled to testify that morning. The case against Brannigan was strong, no chance he’d get away with his usual slap on the hand punishment. He’d crossed the line with the Zuban-5 incident, and there would be serious repercussions he‘d have to pay for.

The Planet Express employees assembled at the curb, as Dave secured his truck. Leela and Amy, both looked sharp as always in their business suit/miniskirt attire. Both Dave and Fry wore suits, everyone nervously anticipating the pre-trial procedures.

Amy spotted Kif across the courtyard, whispered something to Leela, and went to his side. The remaining foursome stood around, making small conversation. Dave smiling, and complimenting Leela on her appearance, as usual. Fry and Bender checking the “Space Vegas” odds on the trial’s outcome.

Dave had done something similar to this before. He’d testified at a USN Judge Advocate General inquiry for the defense of the crew of one of his squadron’s F-14s, when they ejected after the aircraft suffered catastrophic engine failure.

(Courtroom 6-A, 09/15/3008 - 0915 NNY time)

“All Riiiiise, Military Judge, Adm. Robert T. Johnson presiding, This General Court-Martial will come to order!” A large, barrel-chested MP barked. A tall, wiry man, with a sharp looking crew cut climbed into his seat behind the bench.

The Judge cleared his throat. “This trial is to hear testimony today, under Article 32 of the DOOP Uniform Code of Justice. The accused stands charged with violations of Articles 81, 85, 88, 89, and most seriously, Articles 92, 93, AND Article 94!” The Judge said venomously, as his stare burned into where Zapp Brannigan was seated. “Further charges of violating Article 104, aiding a known enemy may be imposed at a later date, pending the outcome of this Court-Martial.”

Dave and The Planet Express employees sat still, as they listened to the growing list of Zapp’s charges. Bender satisfied himself with his boredom simulator, and checking the Vegas odds again, but upping the ante, by betting on him getting the death penalty.

The lead prosecutor began by addressing the jury, and presenting the memory card that contained Bender’s downloaded testimony from the Zuban-5 delivery.

A large plasma-screen monitor unfolded at the front of the Judge’s bench. The prosecutor inserted the memory card into the side of the screen, where it began to play immediately.

The footage of Bender’s memory started as the Planet Express ship descended towards the huge landing pad. The prosecutor paused the video, as he pointed out to the jury how Bender’s optical sensor showed Brannigan’s large, white DOOP shuttlecraft parked on the pad in front of New Robot Hell.

He then forwarded the recording to the mountain opening up, and the Robot Devil’s minions assaulting, and then imprisoning the crew. Several members of the jury gasped in horror. One woman juror nearly fainted after hearing the language Bender used, upon being struck with the electrostatic weapon.

The recording fast-forwarded to the part where they were standing on the rocky alcove, about the time Brannigan walked out to greet them. “Looks like that Article 104 charge will come in handy!” Dave whispered to Leela.

Having finished with the robot’s video evidence, the prosecutor called David K. Murphy to the witness stand. Dave stood up, stared nervously at his co-workers, but Leela smiled at him, giving his hand a squeeze, and whispered “Good luck!” as he shuffled up to the bench.

After being sworn in, Dave was asked to give his testimony in great detail, to which he didn’t disappoint. Brannigan’s face grew tight, getting a shade more red, as Dave gave riveting details describing the battle which ensued.

“At this point, I’d like to show the jury Mr. Bender’s memory footage of that escalation.”

“Objection!” screamed Brannigan’s attorney, a slick, 1980s cliché of a lawyer. “This is irrelevant, He’s stalling!”

“Over-ruled, I’ll allow it. Prosecution, you better be going somewhere with this.” The judge spat.

The video display showed the hellacious fire-fight, as Bender, Dave, Fry, and Leela were fighting their way towards the exit. Everyone in the courtroom gasped when the Planet Express ship came crashing through the mountain, to aid the DOOP Marines, and their co-workers.

The video continued for a few minutes. The jury watched as they could see Dave and Leela carrying Fry towards the exit. Just as they reached the exit, they could see two lasers hit Dave, dropping him to the ground. The camera in Bender’s eye focused on three individuals, as his head whipped around to see who fired the shots.

Shouts of anger, and outrage began to pepper the courtroom, as the Judge furiously slammed his gavel down repeatedly, calling for order.

Bender’s eye-camera focused closer on the three figures. Two DOOP Marines were bringing Zapp Brannigan up the path towards the exit. Brannigan managed to break free of their grip, snatching a plasma pistol from one Marine’s holster, his face screwed up in pain & anger, as he took aim, firing the two shots that seriously wounded Dave.

The courtroom fell silent. “No further questions your honor.” said the prosecutor.

“Defense, your witness.” The Judge said, as the video continued to roll, showing Zapp being tackled by the two Marines. “Ooof! You men tackle good! A bit too much Greco-Roman style, but I like it!” the audio played, as Brannigan’s voice trailed off.

Brannigan’s attorney whispered something in his ear before approaching the witness stand. “Counsel! Your witness! We haven’t got all day!” The Judge roared.

“Mister Murphy, tell me, what do you do for a living?”

Remembering the career chip that irritated his flesh under the skin of his left hand, Dave felt slightly relieved. “I’m an interim maintenance man, I do odd jobs for Professor Farnsworth.”

The attorney flinched a little, not expecting to hear that from Dave. Brannigan had assured him that Dave was an ‘Unknown’, someone with no background, no career chip, nothing.

“I seeeee. Would you mind holding out your hand please?” The attorney stammered, as he pulled a scanner from his briefcase.

Dave’s mind reeled. Luckily, Leela remembered to remove the ersatz career chip beforehand.

The little device beeped, then spit out a paper ticket. “Hmmm, Strange. It seems you‘re either dead, or you have NO permanent career chip!” He said, becoming increasingly hostile.

The courtroom was filled with gasps and whispering. Eyes of complete strangers bored into Dave’s face, he felt like he was a bug under a microscope.

“Mister Murphy, please tell the court how you came to be employed at Planet Express?” Dave was in a corner now. He had to think of something quick. He quickly glanced at his friends in the crowd. Leela and Amy were grimacing, teeth clenched, with fingers crossed for luck.

Dave looked the attorney in the eyes, exhaled slowly, and gave him the whole truth.

“It’s all very strange. I came here from the 21st century three months ago.” Louder gasps erupted from the crowd of people before him. “Here, I’ll show you your honor.” Dave said, as he extricated his Florida driver’s license from his black leather wallet, then handing it to the nearest MP.

“I, , , see. Well now, Just how in Cheech’s Ghost did you manage to travel across one thousand years time, and sit before court today?” Judge Johnson asked tersely.

“Your Honor, as my license says, I was born in the year 1978. I am a 30-year old male resident of the State of Florida. I was driving home late one night after work, when my truck was swallowed by this weird blue light. Next thing I know, I slam into a brick wall going 70 miles per hour, and get knocked unconscious by the airbag, and two tons of stone wall!”

The Judge looked at Dave in awe, as did nearly everybody in the courtroom. “Please, continue sir.” The Judge asked.

“Later that night, I found out I was in a place called Planet Express. The employees you see seated here today, they were kind and gracious enough to give me medical attention, repair my truck, and provide me with a place to stay. I found out the next day, I was brought here by a machine of Professor Farnsworth’s invention, that had malfunctioned.”

Zapp’s attorney replied “That’s all well and good, but are you aware that we still have laws in the future? You have to be implanted with a chip in order to have a job, have a home, have a life in general!”

Brannigan jumped out of his seat yelling, “And you also can’t viciously attack an innocent, 25-star General either!”

Judge Johnson slammed his gavel twice, “One more outburst, and the defendant will be held in contempt! Control your client counsel, I’m not gonna remind you again!”

Zapp’s attorney continued to cross-examine Dave for most of the morning.

“Since you arrived at Planet Express, do you regularly fly on deliveries?”

“Not at first. After a few weeks, I recovered enough, and got curious enough about The Professor’s space ship. His crew invited me to ride along, to experience space travel for the first time. Had I known it would be illegal for me to go, I wouldn’t have flown.”

“I see, and tell the court about your alleged striking of General Brannigan on June 4 of this year.”

“Completely in self-defense. Mr. Brannigan put his hands on me in a manner I deemed to be hostile.” Dave answered calmly.

“You didn’t assault him due to comments he made towards your Captain, a Miss Turanga Leela?”

“No, His comments upset me very much. Captain Leela is good woman, and an excellent pilot. She didn’t deserve to harassed like that, but I did not attack him for his vulgarity.” Dave answered firmly.

“Mister Murphy, may I remind you you’re under oath. You’re certain you did not fly into a violent rage, and strike General Brannigan, a decorated war hero, with a blunt metallic object, all because of some minor, off-color comment?”

OBJECTION!” The prosecutor yelled, “Defense is badgering the witness!”

“Sustained, knock it off counselor!” barked The Judge.

Dave breathed a heavy sigh before giving his answer.

“My memory is still hazy from the collision. The only people I remember are those that I work with. I admit that even though we’re co-workers, Miss Turanga and I have become close in the past few months. General Brannigan’s comments that day, however lewd, and inappropriate they may have been, did not anger me to the point of attacking him. He put his hands on me in a way I felt was hostile, and I defended myself.”

“What did General Brannigan try to arrest you for Mr. Murphy?”

“Mr. Brannigan was convinced that I was a stowaway.” Dave replied.

Correct sir, as is compliant with DOOP law, stowing away is considered unlawful, , , under most circumstances. Did you, or your Captain explain to General Brannigan why you were not listed on the manifest?”

“Yes sir. To which Mr. Brannigan began to accuse Ms. Turanga of sneaking around on him with another man. They began to argue, and he decided to arrest me out of spite.”

When Dave’s testimony was finished, Judge Johnson ordered that court-martial be adjourned until 9am the following morning.

That evening, Dave and the others all sat around a corner booth at O’Zorgnax’s. Only small talk was exchanged. Everyone sat back in their seats, trying to forget about the day as best as they could.

Dave’s fate was now in question. Would they imprison him? Would equally harsh penalties befall his friends at Planet Express, or could they force Farnsworth to return him to 2008, possible putting the entire known universe in peril from the Nibblonian Prophecy.

(D.O.O.P. Central Administration Facility, 09/15/3008 - 0900 NNY time)

The large MP called the court’s attention with his booming “ALL RIIISE”. It seemed strange, as both the prosecution, and defense personnel were absent. Judge Johnson began the day’s proceedings, he announced that he had a special matter to attend to before the court-martial resumed.

The Judge looked over at the mostly empty section where the Planet Express employees were seated.

“I’d like to ask if Mr. David K. Murphy would please stand before the court.”

Dave was shocked, Fry, Leela, Amy, and Bender all looked at him in horror as he stood up. A million thoughts raced through his head. Was this where they would drag him away? Incarceration? Or worse, tear him away from his new friends.

Dave instinctively stood at attention in front of the bench. The Judge looked deep in thought as he studied Dave’s posture for a moment, noticing his hands were at his sides, thumbs along the seams of his trousers, and he stared straight ahead into nothing.

“Mister Murphy, I have a question. Would you happen to be former military?”

“Yes your Honor, I proudly served with the United States Navy, 2000 to 2001.” he proudly answered.

“Why so short son?”

“Your Honor, I was severely injured in a training accident during a pre-deployment work-up before my first cruise, and was medically discharged at 100%.”

“Hell, that’s a damn shame son! I come from a long line of Navy men & women in my family as well.” The Judge replied, in a little calmer voice, as he leaned back in his chair a bit.

“I’d also like to express my gratitude for your testimony yesterday. I understand you’re in a little bit of a situation. Your actions on Zuban-5 were remarkable! Any normal civilian would have high-tailed it outta there, if they managed to escaped. Yet, you stayed, at great personal risk to rescue your co-workers, and your captain! Can you tell me what made you do that?”

Dave braced his stance even tighter, as he replied. “HONOR!, , , Sir, I am a Navy man, and I always will be. My friends needed help, and I was prepared, if necessary, to give my life that day, just to save theirs.”

Judge Johnson nodded his head in agreement. “Yes, I recall you pulling Mr. Fry to safety when he was initially wounded.”

“Mister Murphy, at this time, I would like to make it known to you, and the court that as a Judiciary Official, and an Admiral, It is within my authority, and with my gratitude, that I would like to grant you full citizenship, with all the rights and privileges that go with it!”

Dave held his stance, trying hard, but failing to hide the grin spreading across his face. He heard Leela and Amy whispering excitedly at the back of the courtroom.

The Judge had officially swore Dave in a official, living, breathing Earthican citizen shortly after 9:30 that morning!

When he finished, he thanked everyone for doing their part in giving their testimony, assuring them that justice would be served. Judge Johnson rapped his gavel twice, as he dismissed the Planet Express crew.

They all rushed to Dave’s side, furiously congratulating him. “WOOOOO! BEER PARTY AT THE OFFICE! EHHEHEH HEH!” Bender loudly exclaimed.

They exited the busy court house, amongst the throngs of people coming and going. Everyone stopped next to the large pole mounted in the concrete in front of the DOOP complex. An enormous Earthican flag waved in the morning breeze. Dave looked up at it, thirteen stripes, and the planet Earth on a blue background. He felt a little strange, but exhilarated none the less. He let his gaze fall back down, his eyes laid upon Leela’s face, smiling at him as usual, as she placed an arm around his waist, pulling them together. “This is for you *kiss* I’m happy for you!” She said, as they kissed again.

“Eh, meat bags, let’s go! We got beer to consume! Chop-chop!” Bender shouted, as he climbed into the backseat of the hover-truck.

“But Bender, the liquor store isn’t open yet.” Fry exclaimed.

“Ohhhh, it will be when we get there, It will be!” Bender said, as he thumped his chest triumphantly.

(Planet Express building, 09/16/3008 - 1300 hours NNY time)

One by one, the hung over Planet Express trudged into the office through the front door. Fry, Dave, Amy, and Leela all slumped on, or around the couch the TV lounge, as they tried to shake off the after effects of yesterdays booze-soaked party celebrating Dave’s receipt of Earthican citizenship.

Hermes entered the lounge. He gave his presentation while moving around the room, trying to avoid the empty bottles being launched at him, a vain effort to shut him up.

“Uhhh, no way am I flying with this migraine!” Leela moaned, as she repositioned a cold hand towel across her closed eyelid, after firing an half-empty bottle of Jeremiah Weed XIV whiskey in his direction.

“Relax people. ‘dere’s no mission today. Da professor’s buyin’ some property across da street, and as da bureaucrat assigned to Planet Express, ‘dat means a whole tonna paperwork will ‘ave to be done mon. I’m so excited, I jus’ had to tell da lot of yeh!” Hermes said, with his voice going an octave higher, right along with his enthusiasm for paperwork.

The door from the hangar swished open, as Professor Farnsworth shuffled into the lounge.

“Ahhh, my intrepid crew! I see Hermes has broken the good news!”

The others just groaned listlessly, as Farnsworth paused.

“Eugh-yes. I’ve purchased the abandoned vacant lot across the street! All these years in the same building has left me short of free space to build the many, many experiments my cavernous brain still has careening madly around inside it. So, I’m having a storage facility built to house my numerous scientific creations!”

And with those words, a tremendous explosion rang out, followed by sharp, staccato vibrations they all felt through the floor.

As they all ran out the front door, and around the corner, they could see a team of robot laborers pounding steel girders into the bare earth. Other robots welded I-beams, mixed concrete, and laid pre-formed steel re-bar into the foundation, now rapidly taking shape.

“Euugh-yes! Let me show you!” Farnsworth said, as he began crossing the street full of busy, rush hour traffic.

Hover-cars and trucks careened wildly to avoid The Professor, as he marched straight across from the Planet Express building, to his new warehouse under construction. An angry cab driver shouted his discontent. “GET HOME BASTARD MAN!” as he laid on the horn.

The warehouse’s concrete floor had already set, and three of it’s four walls were standing when the Planet Express crew walked in to observe.

Dave marveled at the speed of the building’s progress. Amazed that the robots could do in one afternoon, what would take a vast army of human contractors at least a month to do in his time.

Fry, Dave, and Bender spent the better part of an hour goofing around, and getting in the way of the worker robots, prompting the foreman to yell angrily in their general direction every few minutes. The building now had a completed sliding roof, just like the Planet Express building, except there was an identical door in the floor, right below it that led to a cavernous underground laboratory, and heavy equipment storage deck.

Professor Farnsworth strolled around the nearly completed building with Leela, and Amy in tow. They paused as Farnsworth led them to a darkened area at the rear of the warehouse.

“What’s this room for?” Amy said, as she snapped on a flashlight’s power switch. Farnsworth stumbled around for a minute, before finding the wall switch.

“Ahhh, there we go!” He said, as the overhead lights revealed a spacious, split-level 2 room apartment. “This will be the living quarters for the building’s caretaker, eughh, of course, I have to find a caretaker first.” Farnsworth mumbled.

“What about that guy with the funny smell and the weird mustache, isn’t he your caretaker?” said Amy.

“Ohhh yes! Scruffy I think he’s called. Yes, he does a fine job for me, but I can’t have him running both buildings, he’s overworked enough as is!”

Always the quick thinker, Leela spoke up. “What about Dave?”

“WHOOO?” Farnsworth yelled.

“You know, the new guy you hired, the guy who’s been hanging around for the last three months, *sigh*, THE GUY WHO’S TRUCK YOU BROKE!” She yelled into his hearing aid, as Farnsworth kept giving her the deer in the headlights look.

“Hmmm, interesting. As my Captain, I should be valuing your opinion, but to hell with that! I choose ZOIDBERG!” He gleefully yelled, with both arms raised. “Now, where is that Decapodian dumb-ass?”

Leela could only sigh heavily, and lay her face in the palm of her hand in disgust. “I’ll be out in the hangar bay, before I put somebody through a wall!” Leela said, as she left the room.

Leela’s face was illuminated by the newly installed overhead lighting in the hangar, now being tuned on for the very first time. A worker droid finished spot welding the last seam on a ventilator duct, as Sal, the construction foreman handed her the invoice paperwork, and gave his standard, droll thank-you speech. “Thank youse for choosing Hoffa Constructo-matic. We realize youse have a choice of “3 hours, or it’s free” building services, and hope youse chooses us for future building needs.”

“GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!” came the Professor’s voice echoing through the cavernous, empty warehouse.

“I need somebody to look after my new storage facility.” He said, as he shuffled over to where Fry, Bender, Amy, Leela and Dave were standing. He very gingerly put his outstretched right hand up on Dave’s shoulder.

“I was trying to think of somebody responsible to look after my research warehouse. Why Zoidberg’s name popped into my head I have no idea why, but I was hoping you’d help a doddering, old mad scientist take care of his many inventions.”

Dave was awestruck. Until today, he’d only been asked to be a temp, a fill-in, if Fry wasn’t able to deliver a package.

“Eugh-yes! I wanted to ask if you’d like the job of keeping the place in order, killing owls, help in plotting against Wernstrom, eugh-so on & so forth.”

“Well, , , I do have a permanent career chip now, that means I’d have a regular job, and I can find a place to live also!” Dave said excitedly

Leela interrupted, “You won’t have to. There’s a complete two-bedroom suite build into the back of this place!” she said, with a smile.

Dave didn’t have to think long. He strolled around the empty hangar bay, lost in thought for a few seconds. “Okay! Professor, , , I’ll do it! Only on one condition, if I can still be the back up delivery guy & go on missions every now & then!”

“I don’t see why not! Okay, you’ve got a deal!” Farnsworth said, as he glanced down at his watch. “Ohhh myyy, it’s nearly six. I have somewhere to be!”

“SIX? Ohh lord! I totally forgot!” said Leela, as she smacked her hand against her forehead. Turning her attention to Dave, she sheepishly asked him, “Uhhhh, you aren’t by any chance doing something tonight are you?” He shook his head a steady “no”. “Well, I kinda told my parents we’d come down for dinner tonight. Sorry.” she said, giggling nervously a little.

He just stared back. Of course he had nothing to do that night, nor any other night for the last three months, but he couldn’t resist having some fun with her dilemma.

“Welllll, I don’t knowww, it’s kinda short notice and alllll.” he said, glancing at his wrist-thingy, trying his best not to crack a smile.

He made it look like he was searching his wrist-thingy’s date book, dragging the scene out a little longer, before long he could tell she was waiting on his answer, on pins & needles!

Dave’s face drooped, “Oh, you know,,,,” Leela couldn’t stand it anymore. She playfully back hand slapped his arm. “OW! Okay okay! Yes, I’d love to go with you & see your folks!” Leela’s face brightened up immediately. “Oh, you snake! You like joke around huh? Okay, I owe ya one now bub!” She said, as she looked in his eyes, smiling.