Fan Fiction

Stranger In A Strange Land, part 13
By La Belle Leela

Chapter 13

The Court-Martial of Zapp Brannigan, Part II

(O’Zorgnax’s Pub, 09/16/3008 - 1900 hours NNY time)

Fry stared blankly into his beer mug. He’d been trying to put his past attempts with Leela behind him, but sometimes, they would rush to the front of his mind. Even though he’d been seeing Lt. Jeannie Sims, a legal assistant with the DOOP, even thinking about her wasn’t enough to get his mind on something else.

“Ehhh buddy! How’s it hangin’?” said Bender, as he planted his metal posterior in the adjacent seat to Fry’s left.

“Meh, I’ve been better. I still think about her Bender. Even though I know she’s happy again, I still want to keep trying.”

Bender clanked back another 40oz of Olde Fortran, belched and stared off. “Yeahh, well, trying’s the first step towards failure. That’s what ol’ Bender says!” as he lit up a huge stogie.

The bartender furiously scrubbed at a stubborn stain on the bar top. “Nnnngh! Corrosion resistant steel, my ass!” He muttered angrily under his breath.

“Heyyy, I know what ya mean buddy!” said Bender, as he thumped his fist against his undercarriage. “I’ve got one of those too!”

Fry sensed somebody sit down to his right, but didn’t look. “Can a young, single lady buy a stranger a drink?” cooed a female voice in Fry’s ear. He spun around in his chair, seeing it was Jeannie who sat beside him.

“Heyyy, what are you doing here? This is a cool surprise!” Fry said, sounding much happier all of the sudden.

“Fry, I wanted to know if you were free tonight. There’s a star imploding near Corona Borealis, wanna go check it out?”

“BUTT OUT LADY! C’mon Fry, let’s hit the Squid Fights down at the docks! We‘ll have a good ol‘ time!” Bender shouted, giving Jeannie an evil stare.

“Aww, sorry Bender. Normally I’d be there with you at the fights like I always do when I‘m upset, but I’m not feeling so down anymore. You understand, right?”

Bender looked at the stained floor for a moment, then back up at Fry & Jeannie.

“Sure, , , of course I do. I guess, , , it‘s nothing a night full of binge drinking & rippin‘ stuff off can‘t fix!” He said glumly.

“There ya go! I knew you’d understand!” Fry said enthusiastically, as he paid his tab, and left arm in arm with Jeannie.

Bender stayed at the pub, watching Fry, as he disappeared from view. “*sigh* Where’s a suicide booth when ya need it?” he moaned, as he exited.

(Planet Express - 09/19/3008, 0900 hours NNY time)

“So what’d you two do this weekend?” Amy said, in the general direction of where Leela and Dave were sitting. Everyone slumped over the conference table in their seats, as was the normal activity before a Monday morning meeting.

Leela turned her head towards Amy, answering nonchalantly, “Oh, dinner at my folks Friday night, that was nice. We had a nice long walk around the sewers, which gave us time to talk, you know, about stuff.”

“How did you like the sewers n’ junk Dave?” Amy said.

Finishing a swig of coffee, he said “It’s different, of course, Old New York, it’s regular New York to me, just like it is to Fry. What amazes me is how the people down there can thrive in their own society, with little influence from the aboveground world!” he said, as he tapped his finger on the table.

Leela smiled. She loved how Dave never called them “Mutants”. Morris & Munda were also glad to hear this, when they asked him about his thoughts, and how he’d reacted the first time he met the subterranean dwellers.

“It’s a damn shame. They don’t deserve to be treated like that.” Dave said, as he took another swig of his coffee. “I mean, they’re humans, same as us, and just because they have a little extra this, or an out of proportion that, , , It’s just, sad! Turning to the others at the table, he asked, “Would they get treated like that if they were from another planet?”

Leela straightened up in her seat. “No, they probably wouldn’t,. I know it’s a sad existence for them, but they’ve been exiled down there for hundreds of years. Problem is, there hasn’t been any political movement, or civic action to help them. Most of them dislike us, just as much as our society hates and fears them.”

Dave tried to put his thoughts about the mutants behind him, as Hermes entered the room to start the meeting.

“Irie people. We gotta biiiig order dis’ morning’. 600 tons of concrete mix for Gambino-4, and this big, oversized, custom-made couch for Omicron Persei-8.” Professor Farnsworth walked in on the meeting, nothing out of the ordinary, but only that he was wearing nothing!

“Oh lorrrd! Professor, did you, forget something this morning?” Leela said, her face turning a little red, as she held a hand up to one side of it.

“Wooh! Eugh-ohh myyy, hee hee! I guess I did!” he said, after opening the refrigerator. “I guess my mind’s been elsewhere this morning! Eugh-byeeeee!” he said, as he shuffled back to his lab.

With the meeting adjourned, Leela and Amy set to making the ship ready for flight. “Fry, Bender, you guys load the cargo, while we prep the ship.” she said, with her voice trailing off, as she & Amy climbed the stairwell-landing gear.

With the Planet Express crew off on their delivery, There wasn’t much for Dave to do in the headquarters building. After moving a few more of The Professor’s inventions over to the new Lab/Warehouse, he had some time to perform some much-needed maintenance on his truck.

The new warehouse was spacious. Even with most of Farnsworth’s antiquated inventions there, plenty of open floor space remained. The lower level, under the massive retractable concrete slab, stood bare.

A few hours later, Leela, and the crew returned from the day’s deliveries. Fry nearly plowed Amy into a wall, as he rushed to the phone, to call Jeannie.

“Hey big-boots. I don’t get it. What’s that female flesh-pile got that I ain’t got?” Bender said to Leela.

“Benderrrr, you’re just upset that Fry’s spending more time with his girlfriend than you, aren’t you.” She said, sympathetically.

“Yeahhhh. Ever since the trial, he’s been going ga-ga over that perky little sausage link!”

“You should be happy for him. I mean, he’s happy whenever you go out with some random Fem-bot right?”

“Yeah, but he knows that’s just to fill a cyclical temporary emotional void that’s been programmed into me. Well, guess I’ll go stalk Calculon. That usually makes me feel better. Mmmmm, Cal-cu-lonnnnn! Hee hee, ‘scuse me!” he said dreamily, as he clanked away, donning a ski mask & running out of the building.

Leela excused herself, and went outside. The early afternoon sky was turning a clear, deep blue, following the passage of a cold front.

Walking in through the Planet Express warehouse’s side door, Leela could hear some unfamiliar music echoing from the main deck.

Dave had his truck powered and hovering at idle. His iPod connected to the stereo interface device, and booming out the heavy, grinding sound of “Here to Stay” by the 20th century metal band Korn.

He was oblivious to Leela’s presence. Dave moved from under the truck’s rear bed electronics bay, to the huge, gleaming blue powder-coated steel tool box, a complete assortment of Arclight-brand tools that The Professor graciously let him use whenever he needed to.

She snickered under her breath. “Perfect! Payback time!” she thought, as she slinked along the warehouse wall, stealthily, just as Phnog had taught her to do.

Over the sound of the hover truck’s idling power plant, there was little chance he’d have heard the sound of someone about to pounce on him.

Reaching for a 11/32 socket and a torque wrench, Dave thought he saw a fleeting shadow out of the corner of his eye. The hair on his neck stood up, as if he knew someone was coming up behind him. He quickly put the torque wrench in his striking hand, and slowly began to look around, as he bent down in a crouched position.

Before he could even react, he felt a pair of rock-hard knees slam him chest-first onto the cold concrete floor, by someone who obviously knew how to take a person down.

Rolling onto his back to gain a better defensive posture, Dave swung his left hand upward across his chest, tightly gripping the heavy steel torque wrench.

“WHAT THE HELL?” Dave screamed, as he dropped the torque wrench. A split second earlier, and it would have slammed home into his attacker’s face, before he saw it was Leela who jumped on him.

She just cracked a little smile “Gotcha!” she whispered, as she leaned down, & gave him an apologetic kiss.

“Ohhh, I get it.” He said, nodding his head with a laugh, “Payback for the little joke I pulled last week, heh! Guess I had it coming!” Dave said while getting up, and brushing himself off.

Leela was about to say something before being interrupted by her wrist assistant thingy. “Eeugh, hello? Blast, how do you work this thing?”

“Heard you loud n’ clear Professor.” Leela drolly answered.

“Ohh goody. I need everyone back here, I have some good news!”

As they started to walk together, she looked over at Dave again, regaining her train of thought.

“I had a great time the other night. I still can’t remember how I got from the couch to my bed that night, I really must have been wasted.” Leela said, talking down to the ground as they walked.

“That’s easy, I carried you there. Passed out or not, you certainly didn’t look very comfortable on the sofa.” Dave replied, hearing Leela gasp as he told her.

“By your gasp, I take it you’re not too happy with my decision?” he said, as he looked at her.

Leela stopped, with an unhappy look on her face, she answered.

“No, , , it’s just, sometimes, I wish I didn’t over-do it on the hooch. It was very sweet of you, none of my dates has ever treated me with the kindness and respect you’ve given me. Leela said, as she hugged Dave in the fading light of the warehouse’s hangar bay.

He returned her embrace just as tightly, gently running a hand through the purple bangs of her hair. He noticed her eye looking glassy with the reflection of the sunlight from the bay windows. “You okay?” he whispered.

“Yeah, I don’t mean to get all emotional.” she said, with a shaky little giggle.

“Leela, you don’t have to be ashamed to show me how you feel. You’re a strong woman, that’s what I admire about you! Besides, keeping it inside only makes it ten times worse when it finally breaks out of you.” Dave said.

“Yeah, , , ooh! We better get going! The Professor’s expecting us!” Leela exclaimed, as she glanced at her wrist.

“So, I thought maybe we could do something on Sunday night. I read about a concert over at the MHOP. Some of the best Neptunian opera singers are performing, they’re even going to do stuff from the 20th!” she said, as they resumed their trek across the hangar bay.

Smiling, he answered, “I can’t say no to that Leela. I’d love to go!” as they walked out of the warehouse, and over to the Planet Express office.

(Planet Express Headquarters - 09/19/3008, 1800 hours NNY time)

Hermes had everyone gathered on the hangar deck, when Dave and Leela walked in.

Whattup guys, over here!” Fry shouted, calling their attention to a spot in front of the huge, green spaceship. No sooner than they arrived, Amy walked into the hangar, a huge smile plastered across her cute face.

“What’s going on Amy? You certainly look happy.” Leela exclaimed.

Everyone was stunned to see Kif Kroker enter, following Amy. Kif was dressed sharply, as always, in his DOOP Class-A uniform.

“Oooh, I’m just so excited! Amy, dearest, why don’t you tell them!” Kif squeaked.

“My Kiffie’s getting promoted! They’re having a huge ceremony, n’ stuff this Saturday night! We’re all invited!!!” Amy shouted, her happiness causing her to hop in place excitedly.

The room broke out in cheers of joy. Zoidberg shouted loudly “Mazel-Tov! Hoorayy!” Kif resumed speaking when the cheering subsided.

“Because of our actions last month, and The Nimbus getting a more competent captain, I’m moving up the chain of command. I will be the new Executive Officer!”

(Planet Express Headquarters - 09/21/3008, 1100 NNY time)

The weekly 9am presentation by Hermes every Wednesday, went by exceedingly long as usual. The employees lined up afterwards for coffee, to shake off their bureaucrat-induced sleepiness.

Fry shouted from the lounge that Zapp Brannigan’s court-martial had moved on to the sentencing phase, and it was being televised live on The Judicial Channel.

As the Planet Express crew watched, Cambots zig-zagged around the court room, giving everyone in front of a TV screen, a view of everything going on.

Silence hovered in the lounge, as everyone waited for the verdict to be read.

“What kinda punishment do ya think he’ll get?” said Fry.

Dave turned to face him. “Whatever it is, I hope he doesn’t see freedom for the rest of his damned life!” He said bitterly, while he involuntarily rubbed one of the round scars on his back, through his work shirt.

The TV was replaying the testimonial highlights. They watched as it showed Leela speaking about how Zapp kept pursuing her throughout the years. She described how he had ranted at her on Zuban-5, about how she would always belong to him, and how nothing, or nobody would ever keep him away from her.

“Spluh-oh! Here come the waterworks!” Amy said, as she watched the screen, now showing Leela on the verge of tears.

“He, , ,he just doesn’t stop! He won’t leave me alone, my ship always gets boarded for some stupid excuse, just to harass me, and my crew!”

A lawyer’s voice off screen asked if she ever had to resort to physical violence to get rid of him,

“That doesn’t work! Zapp’s such a degenerate, he derives pleasure from getting beaten by me. I was so relieved when Dave, , ,uh, I mean, Mr. Murphy, roughed him up. That was the only time I’ve seen him get the message through his thick skull about leaving me alone. I guess it didn’t last too long.

After a brief commercial for Shiz Variable-flavor soft drink, they showed a highlight featuring Fry’s testimony. The defense attorney asked him to give his description of the battle to escape from New Robot Hell.

“Well,,, it was like, all, KAPOW! BWOOOSH! KAPAAOWWWW! Lasers going everywhere! Really noisy and scary! Then I got shot in the leg. I told Dave n’ Leela to get out, not to worry about me, but he started pulling me over to some cover. Then I saw him get hit, as Leela dragged me out of the cave. I’d be dead if wasn’t for my friends.”

Leela cracked a smile as she watched the image of Fry on screen, wildly throwing his arms around. The Cambots began to show the MPs escorting the Judge into the court room. Everyone in the court room sat down again, as Judge Johnson began the final session.

Turning to the jury, he spoke. “Mister Foreman, has the jury reached a decision?”

A meek, balding man in his early 40s stood, and answered. “Yes, , ,yes we have, your honor.” With that, he cleared his throat, and opened a folded piece of paper.

“On the charge of Dereliction of Duty, we find the Defendant, guilty!”

“On the charge of Conduct Unbecoming, we find the Defendant, guilty!”

“On the charge of Aiding The Enemy, we find the Defendant, not guilty!”

A trio of red-colored space ships flew over the Planet Express building, at an extremely high rate of speed, and making a good amount of noise.

Fry’s head was on a swivel as he tried to watch both the space ships, and the TV at the same time. “Hey,,, those ships look kinda familiar.”

After the noisy vessels passed, the Judge’s voice could be heard coming from the TV again.

“It is with great sadness, that I have to do what must be done. To uphold the laws, and regulations every service member of the DOOP, from the newest Private, up to the highest ranking officer, must abide by.

“Mister Brannigan. You of all people are the one we all look up to. You are supposed to be a shining example of the positive things the DOOP stands for. A 25-star General is the pinnacle of leadership! Yet, when you unabashedly abuse your power, and make others suffer for your own, personal gain, then you, by all means, deserve the recommendations I hand down today!”

“The Defendant will stand for sentencing!” The MP barked.

Judge Johnson scribbled something on a electronic tablet, before facing the crowd again.

“Zapp Brannigan, you are hereby dishonorably discharged from The Democratic Order Of Planets. You will be immediately remanded to the Adak Alaska Federal Penitentiary, to a term of no less than eighty years! Twenty for each guilty charge, to be served concurrently! The jury is excused, Court-Martial is hereby adjourned!” Judge Johnson said bitterly, as he slammed the gavel home, effectively ending Brannigan’s career.

(DOOP Central Command Complex - 09/21/3008, 1143 NNY time)

Outside in the court yards, people stopped in their tracks, as they watched those same red spacecraft that overflew Planet Express now made a fast, low approach towards the DOOP complex, in a line-abreast formation.

Back inside the court house, the electro-restraint hand cuffs had just been placed on Zapp Brannigan’s wrists, when the strange space vessels opened fire.

The remaining people in the court room instantly dove for cover under tables, or fled the room. Staccato explosions from the ships’ plasma cannons rent the air, echoing down the hall, as dozens of DOOP sentries ran to the sound of battle.

The two burly MPs shoved Brannigan under the Judge’s bench, both arming themselves, looking for an escape route, and keeping an eye on their prisoner.

The sounds of the battle outside subsided. Shouts, and sporadic phazer fire were getting louder in the hall. Whoever attacked the DOOP complex was now inside the court house, and they were getting closer by the minute.

After a few minutes, all was silent. The two MPs stuck their heads up to see what was happening, when the huge oaken doors of the court room forced open, hard enough to rip them from their hinges!

Sharp metallic clinking noises echoed across the room. One MP took another look, he was stunned to see seven demonic looking robots, all heavily armed with plasma, and EMP rifles, marching into the room.

“GENERAL BRANNIGAN, WE ARE HERE TO SECURE YOUR RELEASE!” the lead robot screeched in a tinny voice.

The DOOP guards stood up with Brannigan from behind the bench. Both had their phazer pistols at the ready.

All seven of the robots charged their weapons simultaneously in response. The DOOP guards reluctantly lowered their weapons, as Zapp’s familiar sleazy smile returned to his face.

The lead robot prostrated itself before Brannigan. “General, Our leader, The Robot Devil has sent us to free you!”

Turning to the guards, “I’ll take those boys, and those cuff keys too!” Brannigan said, as the guards handed him their pistols, and key ring for the restraints on Zapp’s wrists.

“Good work! I knew my clanky compadre wouldn’t leave me to rot in prison!” Zapp said, as he strolled towards the exit, flanked by the robot minions.

(Planet Express Headquarters - 09/21/3008, Ten minutes earlier)

“YESSSSS!” shouted everybody in the TV lounge, as Zapp Brannigan’s fate was read by the Judge. Hugs, and high-fives were exchanged between Dave, Leela, and Fry. “What, no love for Zoidy?” said Zoidberg, followed immediately by someone throwing him a sandwich, which he caught, and devoured in mid-air.

The Cambots cut away to Linda and Morbo, who were talking excitedly about something ominous happening at The DOOP Complex.

Everyone in the lounge sat back down on the couch to watch, as cameras now picked up the images of those red painted space ships, laying down a gauntlet of laser fire, peppering the complex with explosions.

The watched as one of the ships landed, and several red-colored robots battle their way inside the court house.

“Hey, those bots look familiar! But where?” said Bender, as he stroked his imaginary chin.

“Ohmygod! Those are the robots from Robot Hell!” exclaimed Leela, who shot up off the couch in shock, pointing at the TV. “I also recognized those ships. They were the ones parked next to the DOOP shuttlecraft on Zuban-5!”

“Why would they attack the DOOP? Why today?” Fry asked.

“THAT’S WHY, LOOK!” shouted Leela angrily, pointing again, as the Cambots showed the robot soldiers re-emerge from the court house, escorting Brannigan.

Thick black smoke could be seen out of the large panoramic window in the TV lounge. The robot-commanded ships now made their escape. The Planet Express crew could only watch in disbelief, as those ships flew by again, with several DOOP interceptors in hot pursuit.

Running out onto the balcony outside of The Professor’s quarters, they watched the battle in the skies overhead.

The dogfight twisted and turned for only a few minutes, as the robots were trying desperately to escape to the safety of outer orbit. The DOOP interceptors managed to break up the formation, following one, as it flew up the East River.

Two of the interceptors promptly dispatched it with a heavy burst of laser cannon fire, sending it spiraling down, thankfully into an unoccupied building.

By the time the interceptors formed back up, they were too late. The robot ships had reached the safety of Earth’s upper atmosphere, and began their jump to hyper-speed.

Back on Earth, Fry, Leela and Dave sat for the next few hours in front of the TV, waiting for updates on the daring mid-day attack, and liberation of Zapp Brannigan.

The ship that was shot down didn’t contain any human remains, much to everyone’s dismay. A senior DOOP official was explaining on TV that Zapp was now Fugitive Enemy No 1. A large bounty had been placed for his capture, this time dead or alive!

Leela stood up, and walked over to the window, as she stared out at the New New York sky twinkling in the chilly night air.

“What’s going to happen now? That bastard’s out on the loose again!” she thought. Her despair lasting only long enough until she rubbed the small golden tag around her neck between her slender fingers.

“He said he’d never let him hurt me again, , , ,I believe in him!” a slowly spreading smile indicated, as she looked over at Dave, giving Fry a detailed explanation of how to properly clean a pistol.

“We’ll be just fine guys. Might be nice to get that bounty money too!” Leela said enthusiastically, as she closed the curtains.