Futurama

Fan Fiction

Stranger In A Strange Land, part 9
By La Belle Leela

Part 9

Hell IS a bad place to be.”

(Planet Express Delivery Ship, Somewhere near the Omicronian System - 08/12/3008, 1415 hours NNY time)

The Planet Express Ship approached the outer rim of The Omicronian System of planets. In the distance, a large, white space vessel could be seen holding position. The video screen above the ship’s center console flashed to life. A red-uniformed DOOP officer appeared on screen.

This is Lieutenant Evans of the DOOP Command vessel Nimbus. Please state your name, and your intentions.” Leela promptly answered, “Captain Turanga Leela, of The Planet Express Delivery Co, I’m bringing a Miss Amy Wong aboard for official visitation with Lt. Kroker.

The Lieutenant looked away for a moment, then looked back into the screen.

I’m sorry, but Lt. Kroker isn’t on the bridge at the moment, however, you are cleared to approach, and dock inside Hangar Bay #2.

Leela skillfully maneuvered the ship inside the cavernous hangar bay, landing the ship with a gentle thump. As much as Leela hated The Nimbus’s commander, Zapp Brannigan, she was doing this side trip for Amy. Lt. Evans and a welcoming party were waiting for them as they disembarked.

Where’s my Kiffieee?” squealed Amy. “I’m terribly sorry Miss Wong, Lt. Kroker had to called away on a special assignment with Capt. Brannigan this morning.” said Lt. Evans. Amy was shocked, “but,,,he knew I was coming to see him today. Did he say where he was going?” Lt. Evans replied, “I’m sorry, the nature of the mission is highly classified, and I’ve been ordered to be silent about it.

Amy, looking very upset, climbed the forward stairs back into the Planet Express Ship. The other crewmembers started walking back to the ship as well. Leela stopped, walked back to the Lieutenant, and looking very furious, began to give Lt. Evans a piece of her mind.

That stupid, fat jerk! He knew we were coming today! Doesn’t he know how much this visit means to Kif and Amy? Zapp’s always gotta make life hell for everyone but himself!

Leela walked back up the stairs of the ship, making a mental note to beat the snot out of Zapp, next time their paths should cross. Leela made a fast departure out of the Nimbus’s hangar bay. Back in the crew rest area, Fry and Bender were doing their best to cheer Amy up. Up on the flight deck, Leela was still fuming.

Dave, I think I should have just let you shoot that big, fat jerk when you had the chance to!” Dave just laughed, Leela laughed even harder, visualizing Dave putting a nice big .45 slug in Zapp’s ass for the hell of it. “Well, I certainly needed the laugh Dave, I mean, it could have been worse.

The flight deck of The Planet Express ship was quiet. The silence broken only by the random clicks and beeps from the instruments. The steady rhythmic hum from the ship’s dark matter engines was monotonous enough to let anyone drift off to sleep. Dave sat quietly, staring out of the ship’s big front windshield. The endless expanse of outer space unfolded like some otherworldly acid-trip daydream.

Dave let his thoughts wander back to the time he spent with his father in the 20th century. He had to remind himself that it was the year 3008, and perhaps this was the second chance he spent so many desperate nights praying for. He still held some hope that Professor Farnsworth could fix his matter transporter, and he could return to the 21st Century.

Dave jolted upright in his seat, Leela’s voice had startled him.

“Soooo, Dave,,,you’ve been kinda quiet , what’s on your mind?” She asked casually.

Meh,,,just thinking back, about some good times I had with family back in the 20th. Dad & I used to go fishing almost everyday in the summer.” Dave giggled a bit as he continued, “This one time, we went to this graduation party, Dad got really hammered drunk, I had to help him walk back to the motel that night!”

Leela just muttered a small “Hmmph” She didn’t seem amused much for some reason. Dave replied, “What kind of crazy stuff did you do with your parents?”

“Sorry Dave, I didn’t. Until a few years ago, I thought my parents didn’t exist.”

Dave immediately recalled Fry telling him about Leela’s ordeal down in the sewers, about how she nearly killed the answer to her greatest mystery.

“I’m really sorry Leela, I should have remembered that.” Dave answered meekly.

“Awww, forget about it!” she sighed, and returned to typing information into a computer bank at the rear of the flight deck.

Dave returned to gazing out of the window, cursing himself in thought for potentially re-opening Leela’s deepest emotional scar.

He stood up, walked over to Leela, trying not to get in her way. “Is there anything I can help you with before we land?”

No, I think I’ve got everything under control for now Dave.”Leela answered politely. “Why don’t you go back, and see what Fry and Bender are up to?” Dave smiled, stepped between Leela, and a instrument console, he put his hand on her shoulder momentarily, as kind of a silent apology for not remembering about her parents.

Dave exited the flight deck through the sliding door, almost getting crushed by Bender, as he ran down the corridor, laughing maniacally, and swinging a twisted up wet bath towel at Fry. Amy was doubled over with laughter, as Fry, clad only in his underpants, slapped his own wet towel against Bender’s rear end with a loud, metallic “pop”.

Leela could hear the ruckus from her Captain’s chair on the flight deck. “Ohhh lord, they’re at it again! Well, at least they cheered Amy up.” She thought.

Dave decided to join in on the fun. He snuck around behind Bender, got down on all fours, motioning to Fry to make Bender walk backwards. Fry swung his towel menacingly at Bender. Just like the prank was planned, Bender backed up, tripped over Dave, and fell screaming onto his back. Fry, Amy, and Dave nearly laughed themselves silly, as Bender hollered, and cursed at the trio while trying to right himself.

The image of Zuban-5 came into view on the main computer screen. The monitor over Leela’s head was flashing an incoming message. The screen displayed landing instructions, telling Leela to approach, and land on the planet’s Eastern Hemisphere Receiving facility. Having his fill of Bender & Fry‘s shenanigans, Dave had rejoined Leela on the flight deck.

“That’s strange, we usually go to the Western Hemisphere Facility to deliver stuff to Zuban-5. The Eastern side is a volcanic wasteland, with few inhabitants.” Leela remarked.

Dave had an uneasy feeling. He removed, and inspected his firearm, making sure it functioned normally. He inspected all of the pistol’s magazines, he made sure he could see seven copper bullet noses peeking out of the holes in the magazine’s sides.

Leela noticed his activity, “What is it Dave?” she asked. “I dunno Leela, I’ve got a funny feeling about where we’re going, as if something bad’s gonna happen.”he replied.

“Fry, Bender! Knock off the grab-ass! Get buckled in, we’re landing!”Leela shouted over the ship’s intercom.

The Planet Express Ship descended through Zuban-5’s grey, cloudy atmosphere, revealing a barren landscape that was as grey, and lifeless as the sky. If the mountains hadn’t been such a foreboding, ominous black color, Leela could have easily suffered from vertigo. She followed the GPS coordinates displayed on her overhead monitor. It was pointing her towards a desolate, jagged mountain in the distance. She flew around the summit, and noticed a large landing pad on the east side of it. Leela saw a large white DOOP shuttlecraft, with several small red colored fighter escorts parked alongside.

The Planet Express Ship touched down with it’s usual “chuff” from the airbrake, and powered down. Fry grabbed the package, Dave, Leela, and Bender followed him, as they descended the ship’s forward stairs. The landing pad was deserted, not even the DOOP ship had security personnel standing guard. A solitary path let towards the enormous mountain. A huge stone monument was carved out of the mountain’s side, Dave noted how it strangely resembled the Ancient Egyptian temple of Ramses II, both in design, and size.

A rusty, weather-beaten sign indicated “ALL DELIVERIES HERE” with a large black arrow pointing in the direction of the huge carved stone edifice in the mountain. The distance from the pad to the mountain couldn’t have been more than ½ a mile, but seemed to go on forever, due to the size of the surroundings. When Fry & the group reached the carving at the end of the path, Leela spoke.

“Well, it ends here, but where’s the door?”

No sooner had Leela spoken those words, the huge stone wall split, and began to open. Smoke, and dust poured out of the opening, blinding, and choking them. When the smoke began to let up, they could see they weren’t alone. Dozens of small, red metal robots swarmed out of the fissure. One took aim with an electrostatic weapon, and fired it at Bender, rendering him immobile.

The dozens of robots jumped on the rest of the crew. All of the small, red-colored robots had beady little yellow eyes, horns atop their heads, and long, whip like pointy tails. Fry didn’t put up much of a struggle, and was quickly pinned to the ground by three of the demonic robots. Dave managed to put his big, steel-toed boots to good use, he felt the front of his left boot connect with a robot’s head, and heard a satisfying crunch. Five of the robots all jumped on Dave’s back. The weight of them forced Dave to his knees. One robot picked another one up, and used him as a high-tech club to smash Dave over the head, dropping him to the ground, like a sack of Space Potatoes.

Leela was fighting like a pro! Her Arcturan Kung-Fu skills were seriously being tested. More demon robots streamed out of the smoking hole in the mountain. A swarm of at least twenty robots all pounced on Leela simultaneously, overwhelming her. The robot demons made sure the Planet Express crew were secured with strange, glowing blue wrist restraints, and positioned them all up into a kneeling position. Out of the smoke, a much taller, bigger version of the demon robots emerged from the opening. Fry and Leela shrieked in shock, as they could see they were in the company of the one & only Beel-Z-Bot,,,The Robot Devil himself!

“Welllll, looks like everyone’s here for the fun! AAAAH, HAHAHAHAHA!”The Robot Devil said, cackling madly. “Fry, Bender, Welcome! Oh, and a special welcome to you too Miss Leela!”Leela tried to stand up, but was forced back by several guards. “What the HELL do you want from us?” barked Leela. “AH HAHHA! Later my dear, if I tell you now, it’ll ruin the surprise! Heeheehee!” The Robot Devil replied.

The small robot demons motioned to the Planet Express crew to get up. Two of the small robots poked Dave, he stirred, and slowly sat up. He felt something trickling down the back of his head. He ran his hand through his hair, seeing it was bloody after being struck from behind by the marauding robots.

The Robot Devil pointed at Dave, “Don’t let that one out of your sight! And no rough stuff, I need him alive! he ordered.

Dave got up on one knee, one of the robot demons slapped a pair of the glowing restraints on his wrists. They all began to follow The Robot Devil down the path into the mountain from which he came. The path snaked, and twisted inside the mountains cavernous interior. The heat inside the mountain was incredible, and their human captives struggled to wipe the sweat away, as it seared their eyes. The procession stopped at an overlook.

“I bid you all welcome, to The NEW ROBOT HELL!” bellowed The Robot Devil, as gigantic columns of flame erupted on his command.

“New Robot Hell? What happened to the old Robot Hell?” asked Fry.

The Robot Devil gave a haggard sigh “Old Robot Hell got slapped with an eviction notice! It’s alright,,,New Robot Hell has sooooo much more to offer, for example, REAL MOLTEN LAVA! AHHH HAHAHAHA!” he replied, with his yellow robot eyes twisted upward in glee.

With their prisoners back in tow, The Robot Devil led the procession down the twisting, rocky path to a small landing that stuck out from a deep, rocky alcove.

“Alright, now tell us, what the hell do you want? What could you possible accomplish by taking us captive?” Leela yelled.

The Robot Devil looked rather annoyed. “My dear, it’s not what I want, well,,,at least not yet anyway,,,,it’s what “he” wants! Nahh hahaha!” and with that sentence, a door at the back of the alcove opened, and out onto the landing, flanked by two DOOP guards, stepped Zapp Brannigan.

“It won’t do any of you any good to struggle, escape is quite few-teel (futile) Zapp said, while his guards charged their plasma rifles.

Zapp continued “What my red metal friend here is doing is helping me reclaim something, by something, I mean somebody,,,and by that I mean you Leela.”

Zapp leered disgustingly in Leela’s direction as she retorted angrily.

“You sick son of a bitch! You made a deal with the Robot Devil? For me?Zapp countered immediately “That’s right sweetness, you’ll finally be mine,,,forever!” he said with his usual ear to ear grin.

Zapp studied his captives for a moment. “Guards! Release her, and have her dressed more sexilously for me,,,or not at all! Then place her in my quarters!”

Two demon robot guards hoisted Leela to her feet, and led her away. Leela could see both Dave, and Fry were both seething with anger at the sight of this.

“Wait! What are you gonna do with my crew?” Leela exclaimed, as she struggled with the robot guards.

“Ahhhh yes, your crew, let’s see now. Brannigan walked over to the guards holding Dave and Fry. Zapp recoiled a little when he looked at Dave, but then realizing he was restrained, Zapp’s cockiness re-emerged.

“Sooo, Mr “Unknown”, we meet again!” One of the robots holding Dave beeped, then spoke “Captain, the prisoner was carrying these.” The robot handed Brannigan Dave’s .45 pistol, and some of his extra magazines. “Ohhh hooo, not so tough without you ancient, metaly, blasty-thingy are you!”Zapp said.

Dave was unfazed by Zapp. “And I see you’re not so tough,,,,well, who am I trying to kid, you’re not tough at all!” The alcove filled with laughter. Fry, Leela, Bender, and half the robot guards began laughing hysterically.

“Ohhh, a comedian eh?” Zapp said angrily. “Stand him up!”he ordered to the guards holding Dave. “I’ve got some jokes of my own, and now that I have a captive audience,”Zapp swung his fist upward, slamming it into Dave’s midsection, knocking the wind out of him. Dave stood back up after a moment. “That was a good one eh? What, you don’t think so? Well, how about this old chestnut!” Zapp landed another punch to Dave’s gut.

“THAT’S ENOUGH ZAPP!!!” Leela shouted, her voice cracking with anger. The DOOP guards loosened their grip on Dave’s arms, letting him fall to his knees, as he caught his breath. Zapp kneeled down, looking Dave in the eyes,

“It’s not worth the trouble, don’t even think about it. Leela is mine now!” Zapp hissed, as Dave continued to stare at the floor, his breathing returned to normal. When Zapp finished his sentence, Dave spoke up in a low, gravely voice, with a slight giggle. “Ohhhh, now I get the joke!” and with that, Dave slammed his head upward into Zapp’s face. Brannigan staggered back, his mouth streaming blood from Dave’s savage head-butt. “GET HIM OUTTA MY SIGHT!” Zapp bellowed to his guards.

The two dim-witted guards approached Dave and Fry to take them to their cells. The Robot Devil’s minions may have restrained Dave’s arms, but his legs were free. A friend of Dave’s father, a fellow serviceman, and retired Navy Seal had taught Dave self-defense at a young age. Dave knew as the Seals trained, that you don’t just fight, you fight to win, at all costs!

As soon as the first guard got within range, Dave swiftly brought his right leg straight up, planting the steel-toed, size 12 boot square into the guard’s groin! Everyone in the cave let out a simultaneous groan. The DOOP guard collapsed to the ground, coughing and retching.

“Oooh, geez Dave!, did you have to give that dude a shot in the pills like that?” said Fry.

Hey, Fry, when you learn how to fight from a Navy Seal, you use every chance you can. I saw my opportunity, and I took it!” Dave replied smugly.

Leela was having difficulty trying to talk, as she was laughing so hard.“So Zapp, you gonna show Dave how tough you are again?”Brannigan was incensed “I SAID GET EM’ TO THE CELLS DAMMIT!” he yelled, still dabbing blood from his mouth.

Back on the Planet Express Ship, Amy lounged in one of the ship’s hammocks back in the crew rest compartment. She lamented how much she missed Kif, how long it had been since they last saw each other in person. Amy’s train of though was interrupted by a loud beeping sound from the flight deck. She ran to answer it. “Ohmygosh, that’s Leela’s wrist Lo-jackamajigger thingy!”she gasped. Amy tried to call Leela on the two-way, and was getting increasingly nervous with each reply of only dead air.

Amy ran down the ship’s stairwell. She saw the DOOP ship parked at the other end of the pad. Seeing no guards posted outside only made Amy frantically run faster to the ship. “Helloooo, is anyone on board?” Amy yelled as she reached the top of the ship’s boarding ramp. A muffled shout nearby caught her attention. Amy ran, turned a corner, and shrieked with joy. “KIFFF!”

The small green-skinned DOOP officer was tied up to a chair, mouth gagged with what looked like a dirty gym sock. Amy quickly untied Kif, and pulled off the gag. Kif was breathing hard, not from lack of oxygen, but from finally being freed of the fetid sock gag.

“Amy! Dearest! How ever did you find me?” Kif asked excitedly.

“Leela’s wrist lo-jackamathingy went off. When I couldn’t get in contact with her, I ran over here to find some help. Why were you tied up Kiffie?”

Kif shook his head in disgust. “Capt Brannigan is hell-bent on getting to Leela at all costs, that’s why he sought the aid of The Robot Devil. I told Zapp I wanted nothing to do with his idiotic plan, and I threatened to report this to DOOP high command. So he tied me up here to keep me out of the way until he returned with Leela.”

Kif stood up, free from his bondage, he and Amy embraced. They hadn’t seen each other in a long time, perhaps, a little too long, as Amy hugged Kif a bit too hard. “Oooh! Uhh, Amy, too tight! Too tight!” came his muffled voice from Amy’s shoulder. “Sploops! Sorry, forgot about the fluid-filled bladders n’ stuff!”she said with a giggle, as she kissed him on the lips.

Kif straightened up. “We have to save Leela, and the others!”he said with a stern, determined look on his face, and a new air of authority in his voice. Amy ran back to the Planet Express ship to gather any weapons she could find, while Kif sent a priority alert to DOOP high command, and the security detachment aboard the Nimbus.

Meanwhile, back inside the holding cells of New Robot Hell, Dave, Fry, and Bender were still sweating it out, literally. Fry, and Bender were sitting on a pile of rocky rubble, while Dave paced back and forth anxiously. The bars of the holding cell were constructed out of the same blue glowing energy beams that their hand cuffs were made of.

“If only these were metal bars, you could bend us the hell outta here Bender!” Fry lamented. “You know it buddy! But, what are ya gonna do?” ,The robot lazily replied. Bender’s attention had turned to Dave’s frantic pacing. “’Da hell are you getting so worked up about meat bag?” he shouted.

Dave was searching the cell. His eyes scanned over the ceiling, the walls, all the corners of the rocky ediface that made up the small cell.

“Fry, Bender, those bars have to be getting power from somewhere. A cable, a wire bundle, some kind of conduit supplying power to them. If we find it, we can cut it, and escape!

A few moments of awkward silence passed. Dave had a nagging thought on his mind ever since they were captured. He stopped his search momentarily, and turned to his cellmates.

“What the hell does that knob-shine Brannigan want with Leela? Why would he go through all this trouble to get her? Dave said, then went back to his search for the power supply.

Fry didn’t wait long to give his reply. “Um, well, it kinda started 8 years ago. We were sent on a mission to rescue the remaining animal population on Virgon-6, a planet that was about to explode. Anyway, Brannigan’s ship was on patrol around the planet, barring anyone from landing on the surface.” Fry dropped his gaze to the floor, his voice fell a few octaves as well.

“Leela really loves animals, it’s one of her better qualities. Anyway, long story short, Zapp seduced her, tricked her into believing that the patrol duty had made him lonely, and depressed, and well, being the caring person that Leela is, well, she,,,you know,,,sorta wound up in bed with the idiot!”

Dave was speechless, “So, that dirty bastard just used her?,,,like some object of conquest? A notch on his bedpost? Dave yelled, now visibly upset. “And now he thinks of her as a piece of property, something that’s rightfully his?”Dave was furious. His pace quickened, he was feeling the beast rising up inside him. “Ahhh, calm down skin-tube!”muttered Bender.

“Look, I’ll feel bad about this later, right now we gotta get the hell outta this place guys!” Dave said with a renewed sense of determination.

While Dave, and the crew searched for an escape, Zapp’s guards led Leela down a long rocky tunnel to a set of tacky, velour covered double doors. “Where are you jerks taking me?” she demanded.

Relax eyeball!, Captain’s got special plans for you.” the lead guard barked. The guards flung open the doors, Brannigan’s voice rang out orders, “That’ll be all men! I can handle this from here, leave us!” Zapp was facing a full length mirror over in the corner, admiring himself in his usual, narcissistic fashion. Leela looked around the room. Everything was covered in velour fabric. Several velour portraits of Brannigan in victorious poses hung on the walls, each one looking more ridiculous that the next.

“This is just a temporary hide-a-away of mine, my sweet, sweet, piece of-”Leela interjected him before he could finish his sentence “Oh kayyyy, I get it!”Brannigan walked away from the mirror, grasped two champagne flutes, and strolled over to a small chiller next to the bed. He walked back over to Leela, held out one of the glasses “Some sham-pag-an? My dear?”Leela took the glass, and immediately threw it’s contents into Brannigan’s face.“Let me go you bastard!”she growled.

Back down in the holding cell, Dave succeeded in finding a small cable buried against the rocks in a corner of the dank, sweltering prison.“Awright! I found a wire! Bender, c’mere and break it, so we can get the hell outt here!” Dave yelled excitedly.

Just as Dave had expected, Bender snapped the cable, the electric blue cell bars flickered, and died. Dave turned to Bender, and Fry. “We need to watch out for guards. If you see, or hear something, stop!”he whispered. Bender proceeded to dig around inside his chest cabinet, removing a parabolic microphone, and fumbling with the cord, plugged it into a jack on the side of his head.

Bender’s mouth began to crackle with static. He pointed the microphone’s dish in several directions. Two voices began to filter through the noise. They could distinctly pick out a heated debate going on, the voices belonging to Leela, and Zapp Brannigan.

“Bender, you found her! Quick, clean that up.” said Fry. Dave, and Fry listened intently to the argument Bender was picking up, probably traveling through a nearby ventilation shaft.

“You jerk, do you actually think by keeping me hostage, I’m just going to swoon all over you? Leela yelled,

That’s the general idea my dear, yes!”retorted Zapp,

“You’re crazier than I though Zapp! I-” Leela was promptly interrupted,

Honey, there isn’t any man alive, other than me who deserves you! We were practically made for each other!” Zapp yelled, sounding more smug with each ridiculous, mangled sentence.

“EEUGHHH! Just a thought of you is almost enough to make me physically ill, you idiot! You’re the absolute lowest of the low Brannigan! There are plenty more guys in this galaxy better that you!” Leela exclaimed, her voice booming.

“Ohh reeeally, who would they be Leela? That weak, idiotic delivery boy Fry? C’mon, who else? perhaps that dark-haired stranger, the “Unknown”?” Zapp began, when he too was interrupted.

Leela was absolutely furious! She screamed so loud, Bender’s mouth-speaker almost blew out.

“HIS NAME IS DAVE!!! AND HE IS A THOUSAND TIMES OVER, A FAR BETTER MAN THAN YOU WILL EVER! BE!!!”She snarled at Brannigan.

Dave, and Fry looked at each other, both of their eyes were wide, they had never heard, or even seen Leela this angry, ever. Fry noticed Dave was smiling a little, and mouthing the words “ohmygod”obviously shocked. He wondered if it was just the heat of the argument, or if she really did feel that way about him. He made a mental note to ask Leela about it, if they made it out alive.

By now, Dave, Fry, and Bender were running towards the rocky alcove they were standing in hours earlier. They remembered watching the guards take Leela through them. The stifling cavern was strangely devoid of the small demon robot sentries.

Two small robot demons stood idly near the double doors. Dave instructed Fry & Bender to take out one, while he would deal with the other one. Dave remembered the robot’s head he smashed outside the cavern, that seemed to be the demon robot’s weakest point.

Dave crouched along a low rock wall, waiting until Fry & Bender jumped the robot closest to them, then he would make his move on the second one. As soon as the first demon robot looked away, Fry jumped on him. Bender grabbed the small robot’s legs, holding it down, while Fry jumped savagely on it’s head, smashing it to pieces. Dave grabbed the second robot, brutally slamming it’s head into the rocks, stunning it. He placed his right foot on the robot’s torso, and with all his might, pulled it’s menacing little horned head clean off!

Dave and Fry tossed the remains of the robots into the nearest magma pit, trying to cover their tracks, as not to alert any more guards to their breakout.

They silently opened one of the doors, no guards posted on the other side. The trio slid through the door, walking silently, looking down the corridor anxiously for a sign of where Leela could be. At the end of the corridor was another set of double doors, these covered with velour. “Bingo!” said Fry.

As they came closer to the doors, scuffling and fighting could be heard on the other side. Dave, Fry and Bender burst through the doors without hesitation.

Zapp’s two DOOP guards were trying to reign in Leela. Both had wrist restraints at the ready. One ducked as Leela hurled a metal end table at him. Over in the corner, Zapp sat in a recliner, calmly drinking a glass of champagne, his face plastered with his usual moronic grin.

Dave saw his .45 lying on the one table Leela hadn’t thrown at the guards yet. He grabbed it, yanked the slide back, chambering the first of seven lethal 165 grain Hydra-Shok rounds. Dave pointed the pistol at the ceiling, and squeezed the trigger.

Satisfied that his weapon worked properly, and now becoming the center of attention in the suddenly silent bedroom, all eyes were on Dave. The DOOP guards near Leela now became Dave’s next targets.

“HANDS! REACH FOR THE CEILING, BOTH OF YOU, DO IT NOW!!!”Dave screamed at the bewildered guards. “Fry, Bender, put the cuffs on ‘em.” Bender’s eyes gleamed menacingly at the thought of getting to maybe doing a bit of smacking the guards around. “Ooooh, oooh, Dave,,,if they get outta line, can I rough em’ up a bit?”Bender asked, giggling as he talked. “Bender, if they so much as let out a whisper, you have my blessing to do just that!” Dave said, as he kept the pistol’s muzzle aimed at the larger guard’s crew-cut head.

When the DOOP guards were tied, and gagged, Dave turned his attention to Leela, who was aiming one of the plasma rifles, taken from the now incapacitated guards, at Zapp. “You okay Leela?” he asked. “I’ll be okay when this scumbag’s been dealt with!” she hissed, while continuing to stare down the barrel at a cowering Zapp Brannigan.

Dave stood next to Leela, speaking very quietly. “Leela, remember before, when you stopped me from doing this? Don’t do it! Let the DOOP deal with him. Leela, please don’t do this.”Leela still kept her sights firmly on Zapp. “Don’t you get it Dave? He’ll never quit, I won’t be safe, not until he’s dead!” Leela‘s arms were beginning to shake, her voice was quivering. After what felt like an eternity, Leela slowly lowered the rifle. Tears were rolling out of the corner of her eye, she took a few steps back, letting the rifle clatter to the floor. “You’re right Dave, death is too good for him, I want him to rot in a stockade for the rest of his days!”Dave pulled her in close, holding her head against his shoulder in a long embrace, and whispered in her ear, “He’ll never harm you. I swear to you Leela, as long as I live, I won’t let him do anything to upset you ever again!”

“Brave-oh, brave-oh! If they gave awards for being a sissy, you’d get them all!” said Zapp, as he clapped his hands in mock applause. “You forget, I’m a DOOP 25-star General Captain! I hold all the cards. No charges will stick to me, I won’t set one foot in a courtroom! And look around, you forgot that you’re still trapped, deep inside New Robot Hell. You think The Robot Devil’s just gonna let you all walk out of here?”

Zapp’s gloating was short lived. An enormous explosion rippled through the cavern, distracting everyone long enough to enable Zapp to push an emergency alarm button on the wall. “Hahahaha! Now every guard in this place will be after you all!” he shouted, as he reached for a phazer pistol on the floor. Dave, reacting instantly, shot Zapp in his left foot, dropping him to the floor, yelling in agony.

Leela scooped up the plasma rifle, her leadership instincts kicked back into high-gear. “Let’s go guys, we can still fight our way out!” The intrepid Planet Express crew burst through the velour-covered doors. The Robot Devil could be heard shouting orders through the doors at the other end of the corridor, as they got closer to it.

Leela karate-kicked the doors open, an epic battle was unfolding before their eyes. Several squads of DOOP Marines were engaging the heaving masses of robot demons. Two squads of Earthican Marines met Leela, and the crew on the alcove platform, as they all dove for cover.

“You must be Turanga Leela, My name is Lieutenant Hathcock, DOOP Security Detachment: Nimbus. My men are here under orders to rescue you, and your crew, and arrest Zapp Brannigan!” The camouflaged officer hollered over the din of battle. “Sgt. Peterson’s men are going after Brannigan, have you seen him?”Leela shouted back to the Lieutenant, “Down that hallway, look for the red velour doors, he’s wounded, but armed, so be careful sir!”The Lt. shouted orders to his sergeant, who took off running down the corridor with one squad.

Lt. Hathcock’s remaining squad provided covering fire, as Leela, Dave, Fry, and Bender made for the huge, gaping hole where the entrance to New Robot Hell had been.

As they reached the rocky overlook that they first saw New Robot Hell from, more Marines were shooting it out with what looked like several hundred little robot demons. They were everywhere, demons crawled over huge boulders, up & down the rocky walls, all concentrating their laser fire on the Marines. All of the sudden, they heard a shrill, high pitched voice yell “STOP THEM, KILL THEM ALL!”The Robot Devil had spotted Leela, and crew as they were moving towards the safety of the exit.

Laser rounds burst all around them, as they dove for cover. “C’mon Bender, you gotta have some kinda weapon in that chest of yours?”Fry shouted. Bender rummaged through his chest cabinet, finally pulling out two puny-looking phazer pistols. “They’ll have to do! C’mon guys, start blasting already!”yelled Leela.

The foursome began firing wildly at the massive robot army bearing down on them. Leela was dropping robots left and right. For someone with only one eye, she had damn good aim. Every other round she fired was a head shot! The rounds from Dave’s .45 were punching fist-sized holes in any robot that stood between them, and freedom.“We have to keep moving! GO GO GO!” shouted Dave.

The crew was only about 50 yards from the exit, yet the laser fire never let up in intensity. The Marines were doing their best to draw the robot’s fire, but they were losing men, which lessened the Planet Express’s crew chance of escape.

A loud rush of air, and shrill whistle rang out. A huge green object came crashing through the gaping hole in the mountainside. “Who’s flying my ship?” exclaimed Leela. The battered, green Planet Express Ship was now maneuvering in tight circles inside the cavern. Laser, and missile fire destroying The Robot Devil’s minions by the score! The ship flew closer to where Leela, and her crew were covering. Leela managed to peek up at the ship’s cockpit windows. “IT’S AMY! AMY AND KIF!”She yelled in triumph!

Only 20 feet remained between the crew, and the exit. Dave, and Leela covered Fry and Bender as they ran flat-out for the exit. Suddenly, a laser shot grazed Fry’s left leg, he fell to the ground clutching it in pain. “Cover me Leela! Hang on Fry! I’ll get ya!” shouted Dave, as he started low-crawling towards him. “Don’t worry about me! You & Leela get outta here!” Dave flipped Fry over on his stomach, grabbing his jacket collar, he started to pull Fry to the exit. “Special Forces never leave their comrades behind Phil, and I don’t leave my friends behind! WE WILL ALL GO HOME!”

Thanks to Amy & Kif’s daring action, the battle was turned in favor of the DOOP Marines. More robot demons fell, they were finally being forced back. Piles of burning metal that used to be robots were lying everywhere, the acrid smoke of burning electrical components filled the upper level of the cavern. Leela grabbed onto Fry’s left arm, as he was struggling to stand, and limp out under his own power.

Daylight finally greeted the weary Planet Express crew, as they sprinted out of the colossal hole that was punched out of the mountain for the assault on New Robot Hell.

“Okay, I think I can make it to the ship from here guys.” said Fry, as he was still being pulled by Leela, even though they exited the mountain a good 100ft ago. Leela stopped running, she bent at the waist, hands on her knees, trying to catch her breath. Fry rolled up his singed trouser leg, wincing as he saw the blackened flesh where the laser shot had grazed him.

Leela had recovered, stood back up, and started to say something. “Great job guys! Thanks for the help back there Dav--Dave?” She didn’t notice that it was only her who pulled Fry clear of the exit. She didn’t see Dave get hit right before their miraculous escape. Leela’s gaze turned back the way they just ran from.“Oh God, no, please no!” The sound barely escaping her lips, as she broke into a furious run back towards the smoking hole, where Dave laid motionless.

When Dave grabbed Fry’s jacket, he didn’t see Leela grab Fry’s arm, and run out with them. Just as they made it out, Dave felt two searing bolts pierce his body. He went limp, fell down, and lost conciousness instantly.

Leela reached Dave, she threw herself to the ground, checking to see what happened to him. She smelled burnt flesh, Two ragged holes in Dave’s back showed her where the laser bolts had found their mark. Leela started to frantically call out for a medic. She ran her hands through his matted, sweat-drenched hair, and lightly caressed his face. The sweat on her fingers made little tracks in the soot, and larger dots appeared as tears began to roll off Leela’s nose.

“Please, please, be okay, you’ve come too far to die here Dave!”Leela whispered to Dave softly between sobs. Fry, and Bender stood beside her, both stone-faced in shock. Two DOOP medics came to Dave’s aid. After checking his vitals, the lead medic, who identified himself as Colonel Pierce, spoke to Leela, as he worked to stabilize Dave.

He’s alive! Barely, we have to get him to triage NOW! Move it Corporal!”He yelled to the other medic, who prepared a stretcher, and transfusion bag.

The medics double-timed back to their transport ship, Leela ran right alongside them. Dave began to regain conciousness. The painkillers had already began to take effect, but his mind was still sharp. His vision was fuzzy, and he was rolling his eyes frantically, trying to see what was gong on.

Dave managed to turn his head to the left a little, he saw Leela jogging alongside the litter.

Le-L-Leela!”She immediately shouted to the medics “He’s trying to talk! What do I do?”Corporal Elias instructed Leela to hold Dave’s hand, keep him awake, tell him everything’s going to be ok.

Dave was looking right into Leela’s eye. Through the incredible pain that wracked his body, he still managed to give her a smile. Leela tried to smile back, as she kept telling him he was going to be fine.

The DOOP transport ship was parked on the pad beside the other DOOP ship that had been used by Brannigan. Amy and Kif had finished shutting down the Planet Express ship, and were now running to the large, white transport to reunite with their co-workers, their friends!

The two medics placed Dave’s stretcher down inside a triage area that had been set up for the wounded, and injured Marines, now marching out of the mountain, having victoriously smashed The Robot Devil’s army.

Kif and Amy found Leela, Fry, and Bender beside the DOOP ship’s triage area. Fry, Bender, Amy, and Kif rejoiced in each other’s company. Leela, however, remained silent. She stood silently, watching the Medical staff treat Dave’s wounds. The doctors had cut his black t-shirt off, revealing the ghastly laser bolt wounds, one on each side of his lower back area. Another doctor mixed a pink-colored gel-like compound, and began pouring it into Dave’s wounds. When he was finished, dressings, and surgical bandages covered the damage.

Leela walked back to the group. She told Amy, and Kif how grateful she was. That if it hadn’t been for their heroics, they might have all been killed, or re-captured.

While this discussion was going on, a group of several DOOP officers approached the Planet Express employees.

Leela instantly recognized one of the officials as Lt. Evans, from The Nimbus. Kif snapped to attention, with a salute, which the Colonel, leading the group, promptly returned.

Lt. Kif Kroker I presume?” Kif immediately answered loudly “Aye Sir!” and stood proudly at attention. “Lieutenant, that was some damn good work you did to come to the aid of my Marines! Hell, we’d have gotten our asses handed to us if it hadn’t been for you, and Miss,,,” The Colonel paused, looking at Amy. “Amy Wong! Colonel Sir!” she answered, just as loud, and proud as Kif had done.

The group continued to be interviewed by The Colonel, while on the far side of the pad, they could see several DOOP Military Police personnel escorting a limping Zapp Brannigan, arms cuffed behind him, to a waiting vessel.

Leela excused herself from the group, and walked back to the triage area. She found Dave’s stretcher moved over to a covered shelter. He was sedated, lying on his back again, with his eyes closed. Leela could see his chest rise and fall, and breathed a sigh of relief that he was alive.

She got the attention of a tall Neptunian nurse, “Is it okay if I see my crewmember?” The nurse opened the shelter’s screened door flap, Leela walked over to where Dave was recovering. Leela sat down beside him, she grasped ahold of his right hand, closed her eye, and offered a silent prayer.

When she opened her eye again, Dave had awakened, and was looking at her. He inhaled deeply, and started to speak very slow, and quietly.

“Leela! You’re okay!, you guys made it out. Is Phil alright?”

“He’s fine Dave.” She said with a sniffle, as she tried to fight back an emotional upwelling.

They sat together, hands clasped together in silence for a few minutes, when Dave found the energy to talk again. He coughed to clear his throat, and his eyes began to water up.

“Leela? Did you really mean what you said to Zapp? About me being a thousand times over, a better person that him?”

Leela noticed his eyes, and grabbed a gauze pad, gently wiping them dry. She leaned over, closer, so she could be heard as clear as possible.

“Yes Dave, yes I did! I meant every word of it!” She couldn’t hold it back anymore, her face was contorted, as she placed a hand over her mouth to control her sobbing. “I did, oh lord yes, I meant every word of it!” she cried as she put her head down on the blanket covering Dave’s chest. His one free hand caressed her left bicep. Leela felt the emotional brick wall she’d built up inside herself, had finally come crashing down.

Dave continued to hold onto Leela’s hand. He began coughing again, his breathing became labored. She began to panic, “Nurse! NURSE! Somebody, help us!”

Several nurses, and a staff doctor came running. Leela stood back to let them work. Dave’s eyes were starting to roll back in his head.“Miss, you’ll have to leave” said one of the nurses.

Dave began to yell through the ragged coughing fits “NO, Leela, I’m okay, I won’t leave you! I won’t, I’ll never!,,,Please! Don‘t go!” as the doctor administered several injections through an IV in his left hand, while three other doctors had to hold him down.

Two medics managed to calm Leela down enough to convince her that Dave was just having a side effect from one of the trans-dermal nanoprobe patches on his wounds. Fry, Amy, and Bender had found Leela sitting beside the triage shelter, sipping coffee.

Fry kneeled down beside Leela. “You okay?” Leela sighed a little “yeah” and dried the corners of her eye with the blanket draped over her shoulders.

“Is he gonna pull through?” Fry asked. Leela told her friends Dave might be touch and go for a while. He was going to be evacuated to a hospital vessel with the Marines, but Leela decided, he would be going home with them!

When Dave stabilized enough to be transported, Leela instructed Amy, and Fry to clear a space on the flight deck of The Planet Express ship, so the life support computer in Dave’s stretcher could be plugged into the ship’s power ports.

With their precious human cargo loaded, sedated, and secured for the voyage home, Leela, Fry, Amy, and Bender joined Kif, and Lt. Evans outside on the pad. Kif explained that since Zapp’s arrest, he would be placed as the interim commander of The Nimbus. Lt. Evans expressed his pleasure of finally having a competent, and able commander in charge for once.

Leela still had one nagging question for Kif, and Amy. How did they manage to organize the rescue mission in the first place?

Amy explained how it all happened.

“I was hangin’ out back in the crew rest bunk, when I heard Leela’s wrist-thingy start beeping over the ship’s radio. I tried to call her, but when I got no response, I thought something bad happened. So I ran over to that DOOP transport to get help. That’s where I found Kiffie all tied up. Kif told me about Zapp Brannigan’s plan, and sent an emergency message to The Nimbus for help, then we went back to our ship to gather weapons. Lt. Evans, and the Marines landed about an hour later.

The Marines all formed up, and started assaulting the entrance. They blew that huge hole in the mountain, that’s when all the little demon robots attacked. It was Kif’s idea to use our ship to help out, since the DOOP transports were too large to fit through the opening in the mountain.

Leela profusely thanked Lt. Evans for saving the lives of her crew. She then inquired about Zapp’s fate would likely be.

Lt. Evans couldn’t say much, but did say Zapp would be facing multiple charges of derelection of duty, conduct unbecoming, and unauthorized absence. The charges he couldn’t list were probably enough to put Zapp in prison for the next 30 to 75 years. Even if he wasn’t found guilty, it was safe to say that his career with The Democratic Order Of Planets was most certainly over.

The crews exchanged good-byes, Amy walked Kif back to his ship, exchanging a series of long hugs, and kisses, until they parted. Amy stood on the pad watching, until Kif’s ship was out of sight.

The sunset on Zuban-5 that evening was magnificent. Leela piloted the ship through the planet’s upper atmosphere at breakneck speed. When she reached the familiar confines of outer space, Leela asked Fry to take over the helm for a while, which he did excitedly.

Leela sat down beside Dave’s stretcher, He was sleeping now. The slow, rhythmic beep from the life support computer indicated all his vitals were good. She smiled as she inspected his blanket, making sure he was tucked in securely.

With Fry steering the ship on course for Earth, Bender keeping himself amused with a 12-pack of Olde Fortran, and Amy checking her e-mail, Leela retired to her quarters. The steaming hot shower felt good as it washed all the soot, sweat, & dirt from the hell that had transpired earlier, down the drain.

Now dressed in her satin burgundy pajamas, Leela pulled her matching silk robe on, and pulled her long, beautiful purple hair back into her usual ponytail. Sitting down in front of her video phone, she called ahead to Planet Express to let Professor Farnsworth know that Dave had been seriously injured, and would need immediate medical care upon arrival.

“Ohh myyy! Well, I think I’ll be able to prepare my facilities in time to begin treatment. He’ll be fine, as long as Dr Zoidberg doesn’t touch him! The Professor said with a little grin. Farnsworth stepped out of view, as he started to end transmission, Leela could hear him yelling at Zoidberg. “Get the hell away from those organs! They’re not food! Well, not yet anyway.”

Leela stretched out in her bunk, a long nap was just what she needed after this mission. She couldn’t fall asleep right away, her mind was still playing back the terrible events of the day. She sat upright, and looked out the porthole as the vastness of space flew by. Leela needed to tell someone about how she was feeling. She jumped out of bed, sat back in front of her video screen communicator, and flipped on a small table lamp.

The SewerCom prompt appeared on the screen, Leela typed in her information, and as the screen flickered, a dingy, yet tidy living room appeared. “Morris,,,It’s Leela!” said Munda, excited to see her daughter’s face in the receiver.

“Hiii Mom, hi Dad!” Leela said softly, wearing a big grin, as she always did when she saw her parents. “It’s great to see you sweetieookums! You look beautiful as always!” said Morris. “Awww, thanks Dad. I was kinda hoping to talk to Mom in private for a bit. Do you mind Dad?” Morris stood up from his recliner, “Not at all dear.” as he walked out of the room. Munda glanced in the direction Morris left, making sure he was out of earshot.

“What’s wrong dear? You didn’t get stood up again did you?”

“Ohh, no, no Mom, it’s not that. I just,,,I just wanted to tell you that I love you guys. We nearly got blasted into oblivion today, again,,, you know,,,same ol’ song & dance.”

“Leelaaa, come on, what’s bothering you? I promise, your father isn’t here.”

“(sigh!) Okayyy. Mom. Two months ago, one of Professor Farnsworth’s inventions malfunctioned. It accidentally brought this guy here to 3008 from the year 2008. I know it sounds crazy, because you know Fry’s also from the 20th century, but it’s true. Munda continued to listen intently.

Two weeks ago, I was out shopping, and these two muggers tried to jump me on my way home. If he hadn’t been there to help me, I don’t know what might have happened to me. Munda muttered a silent “oh dear” and covered her mouth with one of her tentacles.

“Then, today, we were taken prisoner on Zuban-5. He rallied with my friends, and rescued me! It was awesome!” Leela’s smile faded as fast as it appeared. “but then, he got shot twice as he was helping us escape, and pulling Fry out of danger. Mom, I literally fell to pieces when I was talking to him, as the doctors were patching him up. I,,,I think I really love him!

“Awwww, that’s sweet dear, but take things slow, be careful. It pains me really bad whenever someone breaks your heart honey! You’re a wonderful woman Leela, you deserve to be with a man who will love you for who you are.”

“Thanks Mom! I suppose I get that from you, right?”

“Wellll, I suppose you’ve got a point honey. Your father loved me at first sight, and told me his love became even stronger as he got to know me better.

Leela beamed as she heard her mother say that. “Awwww”

“Well, he did talk me out of killing someone. Only one other person’s ever done that for me. I think I’ll give him a chance!”

Munda smiled back at her daughter. “Are those new Pjs dear? They look good with your hair.”

“If things go well with this guy, I’d really love to introduce him to you and Dad. I think you’d really like him.”

“Well, I’d be honored to meet a man who would risk his life twice for my only daughter.” came the sound of Morris’s voice from off screen. Munda looked cross, as she glared in the direction his voice traveled from.

“Daaaaaad? You said you wouldn’t listen in!” replied Leela.“Well, thanks Mom, thanks Dad, I’m glad we could talk. I’m gonna get some rest now, we’ll talk later, goodnight.”

“Goodnight Leela, we love you very much! Take care!” said Leela’s parents in unison, as the screen flickered off.

Leela flicked off the small light on the desk. She removed her silk robe, draping it over a chair, and crawled back into her bunk. Leela lay still, as the ambient starlight cast a faint glow through the porthole. Before she fell asleep, she paged Fry over the intercom, asking him to only disturb her if something went wrong with the ship, or if Dave was in any danger.

Amy periodically checked on Dave, making sure his medical readout still showed his vital signs were stabilized, and he wasn’t having difficulty breathing.

Fry glanced in Dave’s direction as well. He felt the dull ache in his leg where a laser bolt could have very well taken it completely off. Fry remembered what Dave said about not leaving him behind. He made a mental note about buying beers for the both of them when they got home.

As Dave slept, his mind was dwelling on Leela. The memory of the night he came to her rescue in the rain-slicked alley kept replaying. He remembered how it felt to hold her, how her hair smelled, how perfect, and beautiful her face was. He dreamed that they were together, walking arm in arm along a country road in early autumn. Huge fields of wheat grew on both sides of the road. They walked slowly, admiring the setting sun against the high cirrus clouds, and the deep cobalt blue sky overhead, as the clouds took on a pink hue. An old Queensryche song was also playing in his head. Dave hadn’t felt this happy in years. He wished this dream would never end.

(On approach to Earth, 08/13/3008 - 0900 NNY time)

Fry began to slow the ship down as it entered the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The flight deck door slid open, and Leela walked out, dressed in her usual attire. She kneeled down beside Dave, who had begun to stir, as the bumps of re-entry had shaken the ship.

Fry, capture the fastest GPS approach to New New York, we have to get Dave to the Professor as quickly as possible.” said Leela.

“Already took care of it Leela. We’ll be home in 10 minutes, and The Professor will be waiting.”

She turned her attention back to Dave. Looking at his medical computer, she saw that his breathing was normal, temperature normal, but his heart rate was getting a little high. That could have meant trouble, or more likely it meant that his eyes were open, and he was gazing at Leela again.

“Hi there! You’re looking better.” she said to Dave, with a big smile. “We’ll be landing in about 10 minutes, then The Professor will fix you up, good as new!”

Dave was very weak, but managed to give her a big smile. “Thank you so much Leela! I couldn’t ask for anything more! Amy, Fry, Bender, you guys too! Thanks to all of you, we’re all gonna make it home!”

The big, green delivery ship came to rest with a thump inside the Planet Express building. Fry, and Leela carried Dave off the ship, and straight to The Professor’s lab, where he was waiting.

Two hours later, Farnsworth had everyone gathered back in his lab. A large muslin sheet hung as a partition, concealing his latest creation.

“Good news everyone! Our time-traveling friend, Dave, is recovering nicely. I managed to convert the Clone-O-Matic machine I used to create my clone, Cubert, into The Heal-O-Matic! Enabling Dave’s wounds to be healed 50% faster, than if he were to be treated by traditional methods,,,or Zoidberg!”

Farnsworth pulled back the sheet revealing the large, cylindrical tank filled with a strange, green liquid. Inside, Dave’s body floated weightlessly. He was dressed only in a pair of black boxer-briefs. He appeared to be sleeping, as he did not move when the sheet was pulled back. Tiny probes floated around Dave’s body, and two larger ones were perched on his back, waving their mechanical arms from side to side rapidly. Farnsworth explained how the probes were generating new skin cells, and weaving them across the two perforations on Dave’s back, where the lasers had hit him.

“How long is he gonna be in there?” asked Fry. Farnsworth directed their attention to a large screen that displayed an overhead view of a human form. Dave’s vitals were displayed on both sides. Red symbols marked where the probes were working. “Not much longer, two days should do it.” Zoidberg stood idly in the corner of the room. “Hooray!, then maybe I can have my home back?”,QUIET YOU!” shouted Farnsworth.

No deliveries were scheduled for the entire week, a rare occasion, even for the normally slow summer. Fry, and Leela constantly checked in on Dave’s progress. Farnsworth had given him a powerful sedative, one that would keep him in a state of dreamless sleep for 72 hours, while the healer probes repaired his injuries.

Farnsworth explained that his sedative would let Dave experience no dreams, preventing him from waking up in the event of a nightmare, or flashback. Nevertheless, The Planet Express employees would make attempts to talk to Dave, as if there might be a slight chance he could hear them.

Bender would mostly drink, and poke fun at him. Zoidberg kept trying new stand-up material, clearly an effort in futility. Fry would pull the TV into the lab every few hours, along with a chair, to keep Dave company. The most heartfelt display was by Leela. One night, after everyone else had gone home, she stayed behind. She pulled open the heavy drapes covering the balcony doors, letting the moonlight filter into the lab, illuminating a small area of the floor in front of theHeal-O-Matic tank, as she sang a very beautiful, operatic ballad for him.

(Planet Express Building, 08/15/3008 - 1315 NNY time)

Most of the Planet Express employees were gathered at the large round conference table overlooking the hangar area. Hermes had taken advantage of the slow work week to give what seemed like a never-ending series of diatribes about how they all had to improve the company’s efficiency, and what cutbacks were going to be put into effect. Bender tuned out Hermes as usual, Fry had his head down on the table, groaning with his mouth open. Leela was alternating between sipping coffee, and typing down information into her wrist computer. Zoidberg was the only one sitting, listening intently, probably just happy to be included in a group activity.

“GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!” shouted Farnsworth, as he stood in the doorway, connecting the conference area with the TV lounge. He continued to stand in the doorway, arms raised, but not saying anything.

“Uhhh, you were saying something Professor?” said Leela

“Eeuughwhaaa?, Oh Yes! I did!, Thank you Leela.” Replied Farnsworth, snapping out of his moment of senility.

Farnsworth didn’t say a word. He stepped to one side of the doorway, and everyone seated around the table went wide-eyed, and scrambled to their feet in amazement.

“And how is everyone this fine day?” said a very happy, very energetic Dave Murphy!

He strolled into the conference area, grasping The Professor’s shoulder, not squeezing too hard, but firm enough to show his gratitude.

Hooting, and hollering rang out all around. Dave had made a complete recovery. The Heal-O-Matic had done it’s job perfectly, though Dave would have two small scars to add to the other ones on his back.

Fry jokingly punched Dave in the arm, laughing a bit. “Thanks again or pulling me outta that hole!”

“Anytime Phil, Anytime!” Dave replied sincerely. Bender started to shadowbox playfully with Dave, both of them laughing. “Heyyy, you’re alright skin tube! A real credit to your species!”

Dave turned around, he saw who he’d been thinking about for the past 3 days. Leela was standing next to the table, arms folded behind her back, nudging the floor with the toe of her boot. “Ohhh, the hell with it!” She walked up to Dave, threw both arms around his neck, and hugged him harder than she ever hugged him before. She pulled back, looking at him. “I’m so happy you’re alive. You mean a lot to me Dave.” Leela brought her smiling face closer to his, then gently pressed her lips against his, in an embrace that felt like a bolt of lightning rushing through their very souls!

Buddies