is brought to you by Ezekiel’s human flavored breakfast cereal,
the only cereal made with the taste of authentic free range human.
Ezekiel’s human flavored cereal: it’s tragically
Part 1: A Dangerous Cargo
was another normal morning, or at least, as normal a morning as a man
that lives in a robot’s closet ever sees. Phillip J. Fry awoke
with a start to the sound of loud, off-key singing. He looked at the
clock on his wall and groaned. “4am. That stupid robot is
singing at 4am.” Fry flopped back down on the bed with a groan,
red hair smashing up against his face. The young man tossed and
turned in the hope that he could somehow block out the noise and
eventually get back to sleep. It wasn’t working.
Fry gave up and struggled to extricate himself from his blankets,
which had a death grip on his legs. Tripping over some unknown
article of food left over from who knows when, he worked his way over
to the light switch, which, in a shower of sparks, informed him that
the owls had gotten into the building’s wiring again. They
tended to do that during the winter. Fry thought it had something to
do with them hunting out warm roosting places.
Fry had woken up in the year 3000 from his millennium-long cryogenic
sleep, he had expected a cliché futuristic utopia, only to
find that technology was just as unreliable as ever. That had been
quite a day, the still-groggy redhead thought to himself. Fry was
originally from the 20th century, but in a freak accident he had
fallen into a cryogenic freezer tube in the very first moments of the
new millennium. The next time he took a breath was 1000 years in the
future. For most people such an occurrence would have been a
nightmare, but Fry soon realized that it was his one big chance to
get a fresh start; to make something of himself.
I did make something of myself” Fry thought to himself. “I’ve
got a low paying job as an interplanetary delivery boy. I rent my own
room from a crazed, egotistical bending robot. I even have a few
normal friends!” Being Fry, the irony of everything he had just
said passed approximately forty-six feet over his head.
by this point found his clothes, and having properly put most of them
on, the delivery boy worked his way to the door. The loud singing
coming from the adjacent room had stopped a few moments before, so
when Fry opened the door he was not surprised to find that Bender was
no longer there. There was still four and a half hours or so until
the start of work. “Good old Bender,” Fry thought to
himself, “not even 5am and already out on the town trolling for
Fry was by this point completely awake. “I guess I’ll
head on down to Planet Express. I can watch television for awhile and
then clean myself up in the chemical burn shower.” After
ducking back into his room to snag a jacket and the remains of a
donut he had spied lying under a chair, the red head took one look
around the apartment for things his robotic roommate had stolen from
him during the night, and headed out the door.
Leela was used to getting a full night’s sleep, and this last
night had been no exception. At exactly 8:07 the alarm clock robot
next to her bed activated. The sudden noise invariably startled the
sleeping woman, resulting in a savage blow aimed at the poor
mechanical thing. This new alarmbot was a tad smarter than its
unfortunate predecessors however. As soon as it sent out its alarm
pulse it hurtled itself under the bed, with only milliseconds to
Leela had been
Fry’s second friend, and first enemy. During the hapless
defrostee’s first few hours of life in the 31st century it had
been Leela’s job to implant him with his career chip, a process
that included a needle the size of a large ice-cream cone. Needless
to say, the idea hadn’t gone over that well with Fry. In fact,
Leela spent a good deal of her New Year’s Eve afternoon chasing
Fry through the streets of New New York. Eventually she did manage to
catch up to him, but surprised herself by being unable to complete
the implantation. Turanga Leela’s life had changed irrevocably
at that moment. In a sudden epiphany she had seen the injustice of
forcing someone to embrace a career that he detested. Instead of
installing Fry’s chip, she removed her own; a crime punishable
by death. Jobless and penniless, Leela, Fry and Bender (the robot ha
become fast friends with Fry while the redhead was being chased
through New Manhattan), had played the one card they had: Fry’s
one living relative, Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth.
had taken them in and given them jobs as the crew for his
interplanetary delivery business. This had promoted Leela from the
belittling job of cryogenics councilor to pilot of an intergalactic
spaceship. It had also made her financially well off enough to buy
her own apartment, not to mention an endless supply of replacement
The first thing
Leela saw this particular morning was her pet Nibbler flying at her
face at what seemed like a significant fraction of the speed of
light. He had gotten off the bed at some point during the night, and
having sensed his companion stirring, wanted back up. Now, Nibbler
could not actually fly, although he was a rather good jumper. Neither
was he particularly close to Leela’s face. Leela had never been
very good with depth perception for a blatantly obvious reason. The
first thing anyone ever noticed about Leela was her face, or more
accurately, her eye. Where you would usually expect to see two eyes
separated by the bridge of a nose was one large elliptical orb. It
wasn’t at all unattractive mind you, but also definitely not
normal. It was also very sensitive, and Leela started to hold up her
arms in protection, only to find Nibbler inexplicably 3 feet away at
the end of her bed. Leela had been abandoned at an orphanage as a
baby, and had grown up with the assumption that she was an alien. It
had not been until just recently that she had discovered her true
haired cyclops was actually a human mutant, a class of beings that
were not tolerated well by society. Leela had to be very careful to
hide her nature from the public
She sighed. Her
eye was a constant source of anxiety for her. Everyone she happened
across either stared at it or pointedly ignored it, which was just as
bad. “In fact”, her mind silently said to itself, “The
only person I’ve ever met who doesn’t mind my eye is
Fry.” Ever since their first meeting Fry and Leela had been
good friends. No, ‘friends’ isn’t quite the right
word, thought the cyclops. She knew that Fry had vastly deep feelings
for her. “Love?” she wondered idly to herself as she slid
out of bed. Unfortunately, Fry’s feelings for her were the only
aspect of the delivery boy’s mind that could be described as
‘vast’. Most of the time Fry was dull, and sometimes he
was a down right idiot. “And he’s so childlike. I love
his boyish charm, but I can’t stand his childishness.”
“Oh well“, she sighed. “It’s too early to be
thinking about this.”
The cyclops pushed her thoughts down and away from herself. It only
took five minutes to get ready for the day. She took a quick shower
and forced her violet hair into its customary ponytail. Nibbler was
familiar with the morning routine and waited patiently by the door
for the ‘its time to go out’ signal. As soon as Leela
shoved a foot into one of her large black boots however, the fuzzy
3-eyed creature went into a frenzy. “I’m coming Nibbler,
sit still for a minute will you?” said Leela. Cute little
gibberish noises were the only answer she got. Boots on, Leela walked
briskly over to the door, snatched up the leash that was hanging from
the brass doorknob, and smiled down at her furry black and white
friend. “Who wants a walk?” she asked. Nibbler made it
pretty obvious what the answer to that question was. In one fluid
motion, oddly accurate for a woman who couldn’t judge a foot
from a furlong, Leela had the leash attached to the fuzzy creature’s
collar. Warbling with glee, Nibbler waited for his moment, and when
Leela had the door open sufficiently, he went barreling off down the
hallway. Or at least, he tried to go barreling off down the hallway.
The leash stopped him after the first couple of feet. Laughing at her
pet, Leela bent down and cooed: “Aww poor schnoockums hurt
himself on his mean leash. I’ll tell you what, you adorable
thing, on the way to work we’ll stop by the ham stall and…”
The rest of Leela’s statement died in her throat as she was
forcibly dragged out the door by her ecstatic pet, who had understood
the word ‘ham’ and would not stop running until he had
humans, what do they make these things for anyway?” Bender B.
Rodriquez had not been having a very good day so far. In fact, it
down right blew. “All I wanted was to loot a business or two,
and maybe mug a few orphans before work. Is that really too much to
ask?” Sitting next to a human toilet as he was doing at the
moment, flushing hundreds of dollars in merchandise was definitely
not part of his plan for the day. He had woken up to his meat-bag
roommate Fry snoring. Fry was his best friend true, but the snoring
thing really got under the bending robot’s nerves. Well,
technically robots don’t have nerves, but still, if Bender had
had nerves, snoring would have gotten under them. With his sleep
simulator deactivated, Bender decided to go out for an early morning
walk, by which he meant pulling a few heists. The robot got his
burglar’s kit in order while singing quietly to himself.
great? B-e-n-der!”“Who’s awesome?
B-e-n-der!”“Who’s better than you?
B-e-n-d-e-r!”“Oh! Yeah! Bender!!”He had
gotten about halfway down πth
Street before he found a target. It was a small two storey brick
building. The darkened sign read “Qzork’s Friendly
Appliance Co.” It sold your standard ware: televisions,
microwaves, carbon nanotube circuitry for various computerized
gadgets. More importantly, however, was what it didn’t have: a
good security system.
It was easy
enough to get in. Then again, Bender was an expert at such things.
The door was obviously a Ronco, which any amateur knew was prone to
resonant oscillations. Grabbing the doorknob with both hands, the
robot started to vibrate at a frequency of 359 megahertz. One of many
things within a quarter mile to fall apart was the shop’s
locked door. Stage one complete, Bender walked through the opening
and began to whistle calmly to himself. He strutted through the store
to the beat of the little tune, pilfering as he went.
Bender was too
distracted by his own greatness to notice the brown form meander out
from between two shelves. A small mewing noise alerted the self
absorbed manbot “Huh?” he muttered as he looked down
toward the source of the noise. A shaggy tabby cat was staring
quizzically up into the glass cylinders that served as Bender’s
eyes. “Aww how cute”, said Bender, as he reached down to
touch the cat. The adorable little creature purred and leaned toward
the robot’s outstretched hand. Then it bit him. HARD. More
startled than injured, Bender let out a loud girlish squeal and
started to flail about the room. “Get offa me you stupid
mammal! Get offa me!” He wailed as his arm sailed through the
air, pulling the cat around with it. Things crashed to the ground as
he careened around the dark room, desperate to get this thing off of
him. Eventually Bender happened to crash into the checkout counter,
sending bits of wood, plastic, and cash register flying amidst curses
and unhappy cat noises. At this point the tabby decided this just
plain wasn’t worth his trouble and let go with a hiss. Before
the disoriented manbot could recover his dignity, his assailant was
janitor in the adjacent building was calling the cops. Sal had been a
janitor at this particular place for only a week, but he knew enough
to realize that the noises he was hearing through the wall should not
be coming from a closed appliance store at 5:30 in the morning.
Bender got up
and brushed himself off. “Stupid jerk” he complained at
the long-vanished cat. “If I caught him robbing my owner’s
store in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t have bit him on
the hand.” Bender was too distracted by his unjust treatment to
notice the sirens that had been steadily getting closer, and so he
was completely oblivious of officers URL and Smitty of the NNYPD who
were walking from their hover squad car to the hole that had once
been a shop window. “Freeze Baby, Oh yeah”, Ordered URL.
arms pin wheeled in alarm. Smitty eased himself over the window pane
laser at the ready. “Alright punk, turn around. We don’t
want any trouble.” The grey robot turned obligingly, but
instead of putting up his hands and surrendering, Bender made a break
for it. He pushed Smitty out of his way and ran through the open
doorway. URL was too surprised to remember the laser pistol holstered
to his waist.
For the next
hour and a half Smitty and URL chased Bender through the city. At
first Bender had tried to simply outrun his pursuers, but that had
proven impossible Who would have thought a scrawny guy like Smitty
had such endurance?. A different tactic was in order. The robot
ducked into a bakery that had just opened for business. After
barreling past the startled shopkeeper, Bender made straight for the
bathroom. Unlike humans, robots are not all different in appearance..
If he could get rid of the few items he had managed to swipe before
his bout with the deranged tabby, Bender could simply walk away from
this heist-gone-wrong. The cops would have no way to prove he was the
robot they’d found at the scene.
himself about the unfairness of it all, the manbot opened his chest
cavity and pulled out the swag. One by one he flushed high-priced
electronic gizmos down the toilet. “I don’t have any idea
what this toilet thing is for, but that hole is too small to flush
anything I can think of. Good thing I didn’t have time to swipe
Finally the last of the loot was down the crapper. Done with his
task, the robot swaggered haughtily out of the bakery, leaving behind
a very confused baker to wonder what a bending robot would possibly
be doing in a bathroom.
ham stall was about a half mile run from Leela’s apartment.
Nibbler nearly got there fast enough for the people he passed to
experience a sonic boom. Leela couldn’t remember if she’d
run behind her pet or been dragged, but if the bruises on her butt
and legs were any sign, it probably wasn’t the prior. Knowing
that her pet wouldn’t settle down until he had his treat, Leela
dusted herself off and walked up to the man behind the counter. The
large man gave her a grin and asked, “You mentioned ha…
err… that word again didn’t you?” “Yes.
You’d think I would have learned by now”, replied the
cyclops with a sigh.
ahead and give me a medium.” “You want cheese on
that?” was the response. “huh, what? Uhh no that’s
ok” said Leela, more than a little confusedThe man
laughed and started to hand her a raw dripping chunk of meat. Before
Leela had a chance to accept it however, Nibbler jumped up and locked
his teeth around the squishy red mass. It was gone in one swallow.
few minutes later Leela and her pet arrived at Planet Express. First
assuring that the security system was off, Leela walked through the
door. She took off her coat and threw it onto the couch in the
lounge. She let Nibbler go. He could he trusted to take care of
himself during the day.
she was walking through the building she caught the sound of gurgling
and bits of a song. “gggarrrgle-king on sunsh-garrgllle”
sang a disembodied voice. “Well, Fry’s here.” Leela
thought to herself. “Bender must have forced him out early this
morning.” Sure enough, the chemical burn shower was occupied.
The cyclops could see the outline of a body with Fry’s haircut.
The hair was always a dead giveaway.
walked out of the room to give the delivery boy some privacy.
Silently she hoped that Fry wouldn’t try and dry his hair with
the spaceship’s rockets again. The radiation was bad for him
true, but Leela was thinking about the hours of engine calibration
that it would cause. The cyclops shuddered.
set off to look for Professor Farnsworth, who was bound to be
sleeping somewhere in the building. Captain Leela liked to find out
the destination of the day’s package as early as possible so
she had as long as possible to come up with a flight plan. The
professor always provided a flight plan of his own, but the old
genius tended to try anything to cut down on gas expenditures during
flight. Invariably this led to flying through quadrants of space like
“the nebula of despair”, or the “zone of no return”
in order to save a quarter on dark matter fuel.
Leela found the professor asleep in the smelloscope room, bent over
his universal translator. The translator could understand any form of
verbal communication. Unfortunately, for some reason its ancient
inventor couldn’t discern, it only gave output in an
incomprehensible dead language. It looked like Farnsworth had been up
late working on his invention, so Leela decided not to awaken him.
Professor Farnsworth was famous for having an awful temper if not
allowed a full night’s sleep. It would be better to let someone
else wake him up. Leela closed the smelloscope room’s door and
headed back down to the meeting room.
this point, Fry had finished his shower and started on breakfast. If
there was one thing the future had that Fry was glad of, it had to be
Bachelor Chow. It tasted suspiciously like dog food, but somehow Fry
just couldn’t get enough of it. Hermes, the staff accountant,
didn’t much like Fry eating the stuff in the building what with
it attracting owls, but, as Fry thought to himself smugly “Hermes
isn’t here is he?” That was a mistake. Fry had never been
good at thinking, but trying to think and eat at the same time was
just too much processing for his mind to handle. The cereal spoon in
Fry’s left hand slipped from his grasp and fell to the table.
Instinctively, the delivery boy snatched at the rogue silverware,
missing the spoon but managing to knock the bowl containing his
cerealesque breakfast over onto his lap.
course, this was the precise moment that Hermes walked through the
door. “Fry mon, wot did I tell ya about eatin that stuff in
here? Clean yourself off and git your butt into the meeting room.
“Hermes yelled in his thick Jamaican accent.
Hermes” said the guilty party
“I said git!”
Fry walked into the meeting room there were only two other people
present. The professor’s engineering student Amy Wong sat
hunched over to Fry’s left. Amy’s parents were some of
the wealthiest humans on the planet and owned an entire hemisphere of
Mars. Leela was sitting to Fry’s right. The meeting room had
always been Fry’s favorite part of the Planet Express building.
It was on the second storey, overlooking the sleek Planet Express
Rocket ship. The employees sat around a rather unremarkable green
table. Imbedded in that table, however, was a hologram projector
right out of Star Trek.
giant yellow green ball was currently displayed over the table. Leela
and Amy were staring intently at the image of a distant planet,
completely mesmerized by the shifting yellow clouds of
sulfur-dioxide. Fry sat down next to Leela and waited for Hermes to
fetch the professor.
Some time later
Farnsworth shuffled into the room with Hermes in tow. “Good
news everyone!” the old man announced. This was immediately
met with a collective groan. The professor had some unusual ideas
about what could be considered ‘good’.
continued. “Our government has instituted a tax on doomsday
devices. Now, I have several dozen instruments that could conceivably
bring about the apocalypse, and I can’t afford to pay the tax.
Therefore I am cutting all of your salaries.”
professor,” Leela spoke up, “wouldn’t it make more
sense to have us ship some of your extra devices off planet? That way
the government can’t tax you for having them”
Oh ok if you want. Either that or cutting your pay. It doesn’t
matter to me. What do you think Fry?”
for a moment. Leela never ceased to be amazed at the delivery boy’s
stupidity. “Hmm, it’s tempting,” said Fry, “but
I vote we move the doom-thingies. After the last time you cut our
salaries I didn’t have enough money to pay Bender my rent so he
made me give him my spleen.”
you’ll get it back when I get my money,” interjected the
thought you couldn’t live without your spl…”
off Amy’s statement before it could be completed. “Anywho,
since we’ve decided not to keep the devices on Earth, you’ll
have to deliver them… here.” The professor gestured to
the rotating hologram before him. The sulfur planet shimmered and was
replaced by an orb of striking greens and blues. Wherever the crew
was headed, it was definitely habitable. “The planet’s
name is Isat 6, the public storage planet. It’s way on the
other side of the universe in an area of rather shallow space-time,
so it will take awhile to get there. Plan on a week each way.
Amy spoke up
again. “But professor, is all of this safe? Some of those
machines of yours look pretty volatile.”
you’re right,” agreed the professor. Amy, you’d
better go along and make sure nothing gets damaged.”
a bit more worried about us getting damaged,” grumbled Leela.
the briefing was over, Hermes stood up and addressed the group.
“Alright people, you heard da professor. Fry, you go find
Zoidberg and tell ‘im to get his lazy ass in here. I think he’s
out eating garbage behind da pizza place across da street. Amy, you
help da professor load his death rays while Leela gets the ship
you going to be doing Hermes?,” Fry asked. He wasn’t
being smart, he was genuinely curious.
“I ‘ave to requisition da professor some permits for da
devices he doesn’t want to git rid of. Then I ‘ave to
stamp dem, collate dem, lose dem, find dem again, notify the bureau
of requisitions of my intent to send dem, and den finally send dem in
several days late. Ahh the cycle of bureaucracy…”
The robot member
of the PE crew finally got to work about half an hour after the staff
meeting. He had had no trouble with the police since he had flushed
the loot. Smitty and URL had lost track of their suspect when he
ducked into the bakery. Dumping his loot had been unnecessary after
all. There was really no particular reason that Bender wasn’t
at work on time. It just never occurred to him to not be ‘fashionably
Fry was sitting
in the employee lounge watching cartoons, and from the two empty beer
bottles sitting next to him, had been doing so for quite awhile. The
delivery boy had found Zoidberg almost immediately after the meeting
had broken up. Planet Express’s alien doctor had indeed been
digging in the garbage. The man-sized lobster creature had never made
any money in his profession mainly due to his complete incompetence.
Once back at the PE building Fry had tried to make himself useful,
but just managed to get in the way. Finally he’d given up and
plopped down on the couch.
where is everybody?” asked Bender.
“Leela’s in the ship. She ran out of things to do to keep
herself busy so now she’s watching the autopilot’s hard
drive defragment. Amy and the professor are loading the ship, and
Zoidberg’s around here somewhere. What have you been up to all
nothing.” Bender flopped down on the couch next to his friend.
His body fit snuggly into an indentation the size and shape of his
body. It was pretty obvious the robot did a great deal of sitting on
The robot didn’t
have long to relax however. Leela came strolling through the door
with her hands on her hips. “Are you guys going to sit here on
your asses all day?”
by walking behind the couch, gripping it near the bottom with both
hands, and heaving upward. The robot and the delivery boy went
tumbling across the floor. “Come on you bums, we have a job to
Leela and Bender into the hanger. The Planet Express Ship never
failed to take his breath away. It had always been a secret dream of
his to be an astronaut back in the 20th century, but he had never had
the grades or the stamina. Every time he saw the ship’s sleek
green body it was like witnessing one of his dreams materialize in
front of him. Fry only wished that his jaded coworkers could
understand his feelings about the machine. To them it was just
another boring tool.
Farnsworth were resting on the ship’s cargo elevator, which
descended out of the vehicle’s undercarriage. Several large
wooden crates occupied most of the elevator. Large hazard labels
adorned the crates like ornaments. An eerie green glow emanated from
a crack in one of the crates; another one emitted a low hum.
everything ready Amy?”
captain, we’re all set.”
Fry smiled when
he heard Amy’s voice. He had always liked the native Martian.
The two of them had even started dating at one point, but the
relationship quickly fizzled out when Amy had started to cramp what
Fry generously considered his ‘style’.
Fry shook his
head to clear it. He could daydream about past romance during the
up and shuffled over to face Fry and Leela. “Now, I want you to
take good care of my precious inventions. If anything is damaged it
will be coming out of Zoidberg’s pay, got it?” There were
no objections. “And Bender, you stay out of those crates. There
isn’t anything worth stealing in there, and if you were to
accidentally set something off you could destroy an entire galaxy
cluster. Now you’d better get going. The HOV lane between Mars
and Jupiter changes direction in an hour, so if you don’t hurry
you’ll end up stuck in beltway traffic.” With that he
turned around and shuffled off.
over to the cargo elevator and hit the button to raise it. The rest
of the crew boarded the ship. Zoidberg appeared out of nowhere and
gave a dejected look at the delivery boy, who was probably the
closest thing the doctor had to a friend. “Why didn’t
anybody tell Zoidberg that we were about to take off?” asked
the crustacean. “I dunno, maybe they didn’t want you to
come.” shrugged the red head. Zoidberg visibly slumped. “Aww…”
he moaned. Fry couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor
creature, so he pushed the elevator button again. Zoidberg climbed
onto the descending platform with a warble of joy.
The captain of
the Planet Express Ship went through her preflight. Normally the
process only took a few seconds but a long trip such as the one they
were about to embark on required combing over every subsystem in the
ship. It could take days for a tow truck to reach the PE ship if she
were to break down in intergalactic space. Spending several days on a
drifting ship in the middle of nowhere was not an idea Leela
relished, even if she happened to be stranded amongst friends.
complete, Leela took one last look around to make sure nothing, and
no-one, was forgotten. Nibbler had figured out that a mission was
underway long ago and was currently curled up on Leela’s bunk.
Fry had just boarded the ship a moment ago and had joined Amy on the
bridge. Bender was in the crew cabin. That took care of people. The
ship’s stores were also in order, although the supply of olives
was low again. All in all, good enough. The single open crate in the
cargo bay containing a certain red lobster went unnoticed. Leela
returned to the bridge and sat in her chair. She gave Fry a nod. Her
friend had always enjoyed doing what he called the ‘countdown’.
Counting backwards from 10 seemed to be an ancient 20th century
ritual of some kind, but what it was supposed to represent was a
mystery to the purple haired captain.
Leela put the
ship into gear and a low hum gradually permeated the cabin
The hangar doors
above the ship opened, exposing the bright January sky.
started to pick up speed. The low humming became a dull roar. The air
began to vibrate with expectant energy.
The delivery ship surged into the waiting void.
Part 2: Pursuit
It was still there. Fry watched the bright speck of light shift
lazily against the stellar background. Amy had first spotted the
white dot, or the Snark as its discoverer had termed it, as Leela was
piloting their ship through the Kuiper Belt. At first everyone had
assumed they were only seeing the nucleus of a particularly
reflective comet. It had the same grayish color through a small
telescope and was drifting in a stable orbit that would take it
around the sun once every few hundred years. But then it had started
to move. As the Planet Express ship left the solar system, the point
of light had followed them. It had been tailing them for almost four
days now, and Fry was worried.
isn’t right” he though to himself. “We should be
doing something about this.” The delivery boy slumped his
shoulders and rested his chin on his hands. He was in the laser
turret, which was mounted on top of the ship’s hull and reached
by a long ladder. The Planet Express ship was designed for speed and
cargo capacity rather than for fighting and so it did not boast a
large armament. Still, the ship was not defenseless. The turret that
Fry currently occupied contained a medium range neon-cadmium laser.
It could cause some serious damage up close, but had a rather awful
rate of fire. The ship’s only other defensive option lay in the
two class-B torpedo tubes mounted under the bridge. Unfortunately the
ship only had three torpedoes.
Fry had been the
first to notice that the ‘comet’ was not behaving as a
mindless ball of rock would be expected to. He had mentioned it to
Leela, but the captain had simply shrugged and said: “The
ship’s computer probably got the orbit wrong. Don’t worry
about it Fry”. Leela had always known more than Fry about
practically everything, so Fry had taken her advice and forgotten
about the icy dirtball entirely.
When Fry woke up
on the first ‘morning’ of their trip he put on his
clothes, took his shower, and joined Leela on the bridge. The captain
had been awake since takeoff almost a day beforehand. Normally an
interstellar vehicle would be controlled by the autopilot for most of
the trip, but the PE ship’s autopilot was an infamous drunk. No
one trusted it behind the controls unless it was an absolute
Fry felt sorry
for Leela. Since he had nothing to do anyway he might as well be
piloting the ship. “Hey Leela, why don’t you take a
break? I can handle the ship for awhile. I’ve been practicing.”
Leela started. Presumably she had been dozing off and had not heard
Fry enter. She turned around to look at the delivery boy.
The cyclops gave
Fry a skeptical look. “Are you sure? The last time I let you
take the controls you piloted us right into that flock of
the woman that crashes into half a dozen billboard signs a week”,
thought the red head. Of course, he would never have dared to say it
aloud. “I’ll be good, I promise. Please Leela? You look
like you need some sleep. There’s no reason for you to torture
yourself in the pilot seat for the whole week. If you don’t
want me to drive, at least let me get Amy in here. She can fly the
ship as good as you can.”
“Maybe you’re right. I am a little tired.” In fact
she looked like she was about to collapse. “Thanks for trying
to look out for me.” Leela stood up with a stretch and squeezed
Fry’s hand. “I’ll be in my room if you need me”.
Then she was gone.
Fry slid into
the chair that had been occupied by his captain. Leela’s scent
still clung to the air near the console. As Fry went through a quick
system check he thought about his recently departed friend. “She’s
so great.”, he thought to himself. “If only I could
express my true feelings for her.” In fact, Fry had been
successful in showing Leela how he felt toward her on several
occasions. One time he had been infested by intelligent tapeworms
that had overhauled his entire nervous system. Leela had fallen in
love with the new him, but Fry had soon realized that she was really
in love with what the worms had made of him, and he had disposed of
the parasites. Another time Fry had made a deal with the robotic
version of the devil to win Leela’s heart. Fry had been
practicing the holophoner since soon after he had moved in with
Bender. The delivery boy and beelzebot had literally exchanged hands.
With the new robotic hands Fry was able to express the incredible
music talent that his slow hands had kept bottled up inside of him.
During the following months it had finally dawned on Leela that there
was more to her friend than met the eye. Unfortunately for Fry, the
robot devil had not been so happy with their trade, and had forced
the delivery boy to take back his horrible hands. Fry was
understandably devastated. He expected Leela’s new affection
for him to immediately evaporate. To the red head’s surprise,
however, it hadn’t. Leela by no means felt as deeply for Fry as
Fry felt for her, but it was a start, and there was hope.
The next few
hours passed quickly. Fry loved being alone on the bridge. Only alone
could he truly appreciate the silent majesty of the universe that he
was sailing through. The delivery boy daydreamed while monitoring the
controls. There really isn’t much to piloting a spaceship. The
truth is that space is BIG. It is so unbelievably, mind-numbingly big
that the chances of hitting anything are too small to express with
words. The main concern for the pilot is monitoring the engines and
the ship’s trajectory. The ship could easily meander off course
if the dark matter engines were to fail. Even worse, power could be
lost. Without power there is no life-support or communications. That
is the other consequence of the vastness of space. The chances of
coming across a ship that has drifted off course and cannot send out
a distress signal are depressingly slim. A pilot then is more a
damage control officer than anything else. He must be ready to
respond to a crisis aboard his own ship and fix it before it gets out
Suddenly Fry was
aware of another presence in the room. Fry whirled his head around to
see Amy smiling at his from over his shoulder.
watcha doin?” asked the intern. “Oh Hi Amy. I’m
flying the ship. Leela looked tired so I gave her a break a few hours
ago”, said Fry.
Amy fidgeted. After a few moments of awkward silence Amy asked:
the ship tried to send us a message yet?”
confused. “What ship?”, he asked.
said “You haven’t seen it? Its been following us all
In a sudden leap
of insight that was rare for the red head, Fry realized what she was
talking about. “You mean that comet that I said looked like it
was following us yesterday? Leela said not to worry about it.”
its not really a comet. Comets either orbit a star or move in a
straight line between stars. The thing that’s behind us is
following us. It must be a ship”
we’ve been turning upward for the past hour, and that thing
behind us has been turning with us.”
That bit of
information gave Fry a scare. He had had a bad premonition about the
thing when he had thought it was a comet. Now that Amy had told him
it was a ship, that premonition was back more insistent than ever.
wrong Fry? You don’t look so good.” There was a hint of
worry in Amy’s question.
its nothing. I just need to go check something. Will you fly the ship
wait for an answer. He had to see their stalker for himself.
At first Fry
didn’t see what he was looking for. The only rear facing window
on board the Planet Express Ship was the laser turret bubble, and Fry
had rushed straight there. The delivery boy had spent several minutes
scanning the space behind his ship, but there was nothing there.
“Maybe the ship isn’t behind us anymore”, he
muttered. He swung around in his seat to look over the bow of the
ship, and gasped. A huge cloud of interstellar gas and dust swept
into his view. Somewhere on the other side of the cloud was a bright
star, for the dust was lit throughout with reds and yellows.
Filaments of atomic hydrogen spread out from the cloud in all
directions like smoke in a breeze. As Fry sat mesmerized by this view
he saw that the ship’s upward turn was taking it on a course
through the nebula. In a matter of seconds, the outer bands of dust
enveloped the ship like a terrestrial cloud would swallow an
airplane. A low whisper filled the ship as trillions of charged
particles slid across the smooth hull. For the next minute Fry could
see nothing but a dim brownish murk outside his window.
Slowly the light
began to increase and the haze grew thinner. A bright circle appeared
near the bow of the ship and the delivery boy turned just in time to
prevent his eyes from being blinded by a brilliant white star. Fry
was too awestruck to move for a long time.. Thoughts of the sheer
beauty of what he had just seen drove everything else out of his
mind, and finally he began to head back down the ladder. While on the
top rung however, he happened to take one last look at the nebula
that had so moved him, and his spirits suddenly fell through the
floor. Between himself and the nebula was a bright white dot.
grey vessel had been following the Planet Express Ship all along. The
reason that Fry had not seen it was very simple, no light had been
reflecting off of the Snark for Fry’s eyes to see. When the
nebula had been in front of the PE ship it had blocked most of the
light coming from the nearby stars on the other side. If Fry had
stopped to think about it he would have realized that someone on the
Snark looking back at Fry would not have been able to see him either.
There simply wasn’t any light. When both ships had cleared the
nebula however, the light from the nearby stars was no longer blocked
out, and the presence of the ship that was following Fry and his
friends was revealed in a burst of reflected electromagnetic
radiation. “And” thought, Fry, “If this thing is as
bad as I think it is, we just lost our one good chance to get away
from it when we left that nebula.”
been in her quarters since Fry had relieved her and so was oblivious
to the nebula and Fry’s reactions to it. She was sitting at her
desk calmly writing in her diary when the delivery boy burst into her
room. More annoyed than surprised, Leela turned to face her friend
and asked dryly, “Don’t you ever knock?” Fry looked
confused. There was obviously something bothering him.
irritation was replaced by worry. “What is it Fry. Is
following us!” exclaimed Fry
Leela would have
had no way of knowing about their pursuer. The PE spaceship did have
radar, but it generally only sent out pulses in the forward direction
as an attempt at energy saving. The only way an object that was
following the ship could be spotted was visually, and, having assumed
the Snark was just a ball of ice, Leela had not seen a reason to
comet I saw yesterday! Only its not a comet it’s a spaceship
and its been following us since yesterday and I saw it through the
window a minute ago and its so bright and close and…”
Fry was left gasping for breath.
Fry.” Leela said gently. “That comet you saw yesterday is
still back there? Hmm, it must be a ship then. And you said it’s
close to us?”
“That is a
like it Leela. There’s something about that ship that just
gives me the shivers. Its up to no good, I know it is.”
go overreacting. Maybe they’re just going to the same place we
are. Still, if it’ll make you feel better I’ll call them
on the vidphone, ok?”
The red head
Fry and Leela
worked their way through the ship to the bridge. Amy was still at the
controls, and Bender was sitting on the couch at the bow. Putting on
her most convincing air of command, Leela walked over to the video
phone near the pilot’s seat. She set the transmitter for all
bands, all frequencies and began to speak.
the Earthican space ship Planet Express Ship to the vessel that is
positioned…” She paused and looked at the radar screen,
which Amy had switched to rear-sweep only a second ago. “…
180 million miles to our stern. Please identify yourself.”
The only answer
again. “This is the Earthican space ship Planet Express Ship to
the vessel that is following us. Please identify yourself”
Still, there was
Express Ship’s captain tried several more times to reach the
ship, but the response was always the hiss of interstellar space.
Whatever this thing was that had followed them from Earth, it had no
intention of talking to them.
dinner was tense. Fry, Leela and Bender ate their meals without
saying a word. Each of them was thinking about their friend the
Snark. Even Bender was relatively subdued. After 20 minutes of
silence Fry had had enough. “So what are we going to do about
it?” he asked. Leela sighed.
know”, she said. “It hasn’t done anything yet, and
we don’t know what it wants. Maybe it will just go away”
Fry rolled his eyes and replied angrily: “But what if it
doesn’t ‘just go away’? It could be waiting for a
chance to catch us by surprise.”
Leela sat back
and crossed her arms. “But what would you have me do about it?
We’re flying through a channel of normal space between clusters
of giant stars. If we change course now and try to loose it we’ll
end up flying into a well of space-time. Time will slow down so much
that when we finally make it home hundreds of years could have
passed. None of us can afford to pay three hundred years of
Fry just stared
blankly at Leela. He hadn’t understood a word she had just
said. “So, umm, that’s bad right?”
The cyclops just
ignored that. “What do you think Bender? What should we do
about this?” asked the captain, gesturing in the robot’s
Bender took on a
haughty air: “I was wondering if you were going to ask for my
opinion. Stupid humans, always ignoring the robots. I don’t see
the problem. Don’t we have several hundred pounds worth of
doomsday device onboard? If they start shooting at us or whatever, we
can launch one of the professor’s little toys at them.”
Bender pictured the resulting explosion to himself. “Hehehehehe.”
Suddenly a high
pitched warble was heard throughout the ship. Several seconds later
Dr. John Zoidberg came running into the room amidst a string of odd
Leela jumped to
her feet at the sounds, but immediately relaxed when she saw the red
lobster in the doorway. “Dr Zoidberg?! What the heck are you
doing here? I thought we left you, I mean, I thought you stayed back
on Earth?”, asked the cyclops, adrenaline still coursing
Zoidberg came on this mission, no thanks to you!”, responded
the space-crab. He waved a claw at Leela, Bender, and Amy. Leela
noticed that Fry wasn’t singled out, but let it slide.
Fry asked: “So
what’s wrong Dr. Zoidberg? Why all the screaming?”
The red alien
paused for a minute to think. All of the commotion had pushed
everything out of his head. “Well, it’s a long story, but
since you’re all sitting here with Zoidberg standing in the
only escape route, I’ll tell it anyway”
in on what everyone present could tell would be an unnecessarily
longwinded speech aimed at keeping it’s speaker at the center
of attention for as long as possible. “After my good friend Fry
let me climb on board the ship, I hid in the cargo bay. I knew that
anybody saw me for the first few hours that you’d turn around
and leave me behind. All was well for…”
Bender cut him
off before it could continue any longer. “Shut up you stupid
lobster. We don’t want to hear your damned story.”
The dejected red creature sighed and started to walk mournfully out
Zoidberg!”, cried Amy, “Why were you screaming just now?”
up when he realized he was still the center of attention. “Well,
I haven’t eaten any real food in two weeks, so I was digging in
one of those food crates that are in the cargo hold and…”
The monologue was cut off before it could continue further with a
loud “WHAT?!” from Fry, Leela, and Bender.
Leela gave the
doctor a disgusted look. “You idiot! Those aren’t food
crates, those are weapons of mass destruction!” A confused
“Huh?” was all she got from Zoidberg.
rolled her eye. “We’re carrying a shipment of the
professor’s doomsday devices. They’re extremely
Well then that would explain this.” The lobster reached into
his lab coat and brought out a large biohazard sign. He had ripped it
off of one of the crates.
By this point,
the robotic member of the crew was thoroughly tired of this
discussion: “If you don’t tell us why you were screaming
in the next sentence you speak, I am going to shove this fork up your
crustacean ass.” Zoidberg squealed. There was no doubt as to
the sincerity of the robot’s threat.
please don’t hurt Zoidberg!”, the alien pleaded. “I
was eating out of a crate, when this thing made a horrible noise and
Leela and Amy
exchanged glances, and Amy said icily: “So you broke one of the
professors doomsday devices?”
cringed, but nodded. Then Leela spoke up, following Amy’s train
of thought. “And this device, which has the ability to vaporize
a significant chunk of the universe, has been sitting, for the past
few minutes, damaged in the cargo bay next to other devices that
could also destroy significant chunks of the universe?” Again
the lobster nodded.
The whole crew
stared at each other while this information sank in. Then, as one,
they all jumped up and bolted out of the room.
Amy was the only
one of the group that knew enough about Farnsworth’s inventions
to assess the damage. The rest of the crew had to wait nervously
while the engineering intern looked over the broken piece of
machinery. After a quick inspection Amy stood up and chucked. The
tension in the room evaporated. “Its ok,” she said.
“Zoidberg didn’t do any real harm. He broke some wires
and the short circuit zapped him. Its not going to explode or
said Leela. “But can you fix it?”
shrugged. “I dunno, maybe. I’ll have to call the
professor to make sure I have all the tools I need.”
Leela nodded and
started to dress down the guilty lobster for causing such a panic.
Amy headed off to the bridge to call Farnsworth. It was not long
however, before the intern was back.
asked the cyclops, “what did the professor say? Can you fix
puzzled. “I don’t know. I cant get ahold of him. Every
time I try and call him I keep getting this weird noise.”
particularly worried. Amy was known for being a bit absentminded at
times and probably didn’t have the vidphone set right. The
cyclops gestured to Amy to follow her up to the bridge. The rest of
the crew, sans Zoidberg, followed the two women.
Leela watched as
Amy placed the call. As far as the PE ship’s captain could tell
Amy was doing everything right, but instead of the normal ring tone,
a high pitched squeal blasted out of the speaker. All of the humans
covered their ears, and Bender turned down his volume. Fry dashed
over to the machine and turned it off. The audile assault immediately
died away, leaving echoes in the crew’s ears.
Fry cried out in
a pained voice: “What the hell was that?!”
PE captain visibly slumped. She walked over to the pilot’s seat
and slowly eased herself into it. The cyclops held her face in her
hands for a moment. When she finally looked up at her crew there were
deep lines of worry in her face. “That, my friends, is a the
noise a vidphone makes when it is being jammed. I’m afraid out
friend the Snark doesn’t want us making any phone calls.”
thought about all that had happened in the past four days from his
perch in the laser turret.. With his head resting in his hands, the
delivery boy watched The Snark transit one of the stars in the binary
system the ships were passing through. For a moment the white spark
disappeared into the glare of the much brighter star. Leela had not
been able to get a transmission through to Earth since the
communications blackout had been discovered. It had been decided that
the Planet Express ship would stay on course and keep the same speed
so as to not alarm their pursuers. Leela no longer thought it was
likely that the vessel that was following them was indifferent. She
hoped that by keeping constant course and speed that the Planet
Express crew could get closer to their destination without forcing
the Snark’s hand.. If Leela could get the PE ship within a
dozen or so parsecs of a populated star system she could make a break
for it. The professor’s ship had engines that could outrun
almost anything, but only over short distances.
Fry had not been
satisfied with the solution. There were too many ‘iffs’
in it. Everything would work out ok IF the Planet Express ship could
get close enough to an inhabited planet, and IF the Snark didn’t
attack them and IF they could outrun their pursuers. The delivery boy
new that there wasn’t really much of a choice. They couldn’t
run and they couldn’t attack without provocation, and, he
reminded himself, whatever was behind them could probably beat them
in a fight anyway. Still, waiting felt too much like not doing
Sitting in the
bubble dome staring into space was just making Fry feel worse. There
just simply wasn’t anything that he could do, and he knew it.
The delivery boy got up with a sigh, banging his head on the low
ceiling in the process. He slid down the ladder and headed for his
bunk. Maybe some sleep would help clear his mind.
Fry awoke to the
sound of klaxons. Either Bender had burned something in the microwave
and set off the alarm again or they were under attack. It was the
latter. The delivery boy rushed onto the bridge. The rest of the crew
was already there, and they were all staring out the front window.
One star, a red supergiant by the looks of it, dominated the view. It
took Fry a moment to discern what everyone was looking at, but at
last he spotted the swarm of tiny motes emerging from the star’s
limb. A small fleet of vessels had been hiding behind the star,
waiting for the PE ship to blunder into their trap. The vessel that
had been stalking Fry and his friends for so long had been a threat
after all. Its job had been to monitor the PE ship until it could be
sure of its course. Then it had radioed ahead to its friends, who had
picked a suitable star system along the flight path and lain in
anything that could be done. Leela throttled back the engines and
waited for some sort of communication from her adversary. The Planet
Express ship might be able to fend off one of these attackers, but
the three dozen blips that appeared on radar represented more than
could be dealt with.
The cyclops did
not have long to wait. The vidphone switched on with a click. The
head and shoulders of a caucasian human male appeared on the screen.
is Ivan”, said the man. A jagged looking scar ran down the left
side of his face. It moved as he spoke.
carrying a cargo that is of great interest to me. You are surrounded
and outgunned. If you power down your ship and surrender the cargo to
me, then I will let you live.”
Express crewmembers looked at each other. Ivan was talking about the
professor’s doomsday devices of course. Suddenly the thoughts
of what could happen if such things were to fall into the wrong hands
raced through their minds.
Leela made a
decision and she made it fast. Any man that would surround a civilian
vessel and demand it hand over its cargo on pain of death could NOT
be allowed to get his hands on the professor’s stash.
Ivan, we are preparing to surrender. We will power down the ship and
await further instructions.” Replied Leela as sincerely as
captain switched off the monitor before Ivan could respond. Fry
started to say something, but Leela cut him off.
people, this is what is going to happen. Amy and Bender, I want you
to man the torpedo tubes. Fry, you go man the turret. Keep it powered
down until I give the signal. Zoidberg… “
to jump up and down and clap his hands. “Hurray, I’m
get out of everybody’s way,” Leela continued.
The lobster sighed.
became a swirl of motion as everyone hurried to do their part.
Zoidberg followed them mournfully out the door.
Leela got ready.
Her plan was to let the attackers close in. When they had gotten near
enough Leela would spring a little trap of her own. The neon-cadmium
laser would be a most devastating weapon if the attackers got within
a few miles of it, and Fry would be able to take several of the out
before… well best not to think about that last part.
Fry found himself in the laser turret, only this time there was more
than a distant point of light to greet his eyes. Fry could see the
enemy ships clearly now. Each ship was vaguely reminiscent of a grey
stingray, with a large bulbous bridge riding at the bow. Two vertical
stabilizers extruded from a long barb that served as a tail. Two
barrels protruded from the leading edges of each wing. The delivery
boy could just barely make out human figures aboard the vessel if he
squinted hard enough.
face appeared on the monitor by his left hand. “Fry, I’m
going to power up the dark matter reactors in 30 seconds. The people
on those ships will be able to see you as soon as the lights come on
in the turret. Start shooting as soon as you have power.” Said
the captain. Leela was trying as hard as she could to mask the
tension she felt, but Fry had known his cyclops captain for long
enough to recognize that, under the cool exterior, Leela was just as
terrified as he was. That was comforting in a strange sort of way. It
is easier to deal with a difficult situation when you know that
someone else is as scared as you are.
understand”, Fry whispered. “Leela, if we don’t get
through this, I… I just want you to know….”
alright Fry, I know” Leela smiled.
The lights came
on. The Planet Express ship hurtled forward and down, hoping to throw
its adversaries of balance. A pulsing throb filled the turret, and
Fry put his hands around the joystick. He fired.
The first ship
exploded in a burst of radioactive sleet, and cheers rang through the
PE ship. It did not take long for the enemy fleet to recover. The
stingray vessels began to back away from their suddenly ferocious
prey. If they could get far enough, Fry’s weapon would have
little affect on them and they could shoot down their prey at their
leisure. Leela did not intend to let that happen.
Bolts of death
crisscrossed the void, coming dangerously close to hitting their
mark. A grey form appeared in Leela’s view. She rolled to port,
narrowly avoiding a collision. As the stingray passed underneath her
ship Leela rolled 180 degrees, bringing the laser to bear. The blip
of light on her radar representing the enemy ship fizzled and went
out. Fry was doing well.
It was all Fry
could do to keep breathing. The sky tilted crazily overhead as Leela
pulled the ship through complicated evasive maneuvers. Red tracer
fire and newly formed nebulae lit up the battlefield. If he had not
been fighting for his life Fry would have been impressed by the
beauty of it all. The green PE ship shuddered under him. It had taken
a glancing hit. A black streak ran its way down one green flank. If a
shot like that were to intersect with the turret bubble… Fry
Ship after ship
gave up its crew to the cold vacuum of space. The commander of the
stingray fleet had not counted on the tenacity of this tiny little
mote that had dared to resist him. He ordered his remaining ships to
break off and withdraw at full speed. His opponent had been
aggressively engaging his ships in order to keep them close. It was
time to put a stop to that.
keep up the attack any longer. Her ship had sustained damage and
could no longer keep up with her assailants. The engines began to
sputter and then finally died with a mournful ‘whump’.
The once proud spaceship was now nothing more than a projectile
obeying Newton’s first law. Leela watched helplessly as her
enemy passed beyond her range. They had never really had a chance,
but now the proof of it was laughing in her face. Still, they had
done rather well. She had seen at least nine separate fireballs light
up the sky. Through the front window she could see the remains of one
of her foes, its scorched carcass still venting fuel forlornly into
space. Leela shook her head to clear it. There was still one thing
left to do. Leela’s plan was about to enter its final stage.
Fry felt the
engines cut out. The Planet Express ship began to drift through
space. Leela’s face again appeared on the monitor, but did not
show the signs of defeat that the delivery boy had expected. “Fry,
come on down to the bridge. You’ve done everything that you can
from up there.”
Fry, Leela, and
Zoidberg stood on the bridge and watched the two ships approach. This
time there was no escape. The dark matter reactor had detected a
coolant leak and shut itself down. Without power the laser was
useless and ship could go nowhere. The attackers came on slowly, and
with weapons bared. They had been fooled once and were not about to
let it happen again. The first ship took up station a few hundred
yards in front of the bow. The second one moved toward the stern.
Leela sighed. She had hoped to get rid of both opponents. One would
have to do.
activated the vidphone one more time. “Bender, can you hear
me?” she asked. Bender’s face appeared on the screen. He
gave his captain a thumbs up. “Ok then. Do it.” “You
got it, chump” came the answer. Leela looked at her friends and
gave them a wink. “You might want to put on your seatbelts.”
A port in the
Planet Express Ship’s green underbelly slid open. Bender pushed
the long cylindrical object out the hole and watched it sail away
from him. Once he was certain it was headed in the right direction he
closed the port and knocked on the hatch in front of him. The hatch
slid open. Bender nodded at Amy and the two of them braced themselves
as best they could.
Leela had come
to the decision that the stingray ships were too maneuverable to be
taken in by one of the PE ship’s outdated torpedoes, so she had
held them in reserve, counting on her enemies equating a powerless
ship with a defenseless one. A torpedo could not be fired without
power for a simple reason. There were two doors in the torpedo tube.
One door would close when a torpedo was loaded into the tube, and
then the other would open a short time later. This served to keep the
ship pressurized during the process. The first door could be opened
manually, but to open the second one would spell certain death to
anyone that required an atmosphere to live. Bender however, did not
fit into that category.
While the laser
battle had been going on about them, Amy and Bender had been loading
the tube per Leela’s instructions. When they had finally
wrestled the blunt weapon into its place Bender had crawled into the
tube with it, and Amy shut the inner door. Then they had waited.
floated through space for what seemed an eternity. Bender had aimed
well. The deadly projectile would pass too far beneath the enemy
ship’s bridge to be spotted visually, and no other windows
adorned the hull. The other enemy ship’s view was blocked by
the hull of the Planet Express Ship itself. Since the torpedo was
small and powered-down it would not be picked up by any save the most
powerful sensors. The Planet Express crew, however, could plainly see
the weapon glide toward its hapless target.
The stingray was
caught completely off guard. The torpedo’s sensors registered
the collision with its target. The change in momentum was deemed
Express Ship’s cabin lit up with the birth of a ferocious new
star. A chain reaction tore through the enemy vessel as the shockwave
from the torpedo’s fusion warhead passed through the ship’s
delicate innards. Small gouts of flame escaped from the hull like
living things. The bridge lost its pressure in a flash. Shards of
glass, furniture, electronics, and biological remnants rushed into
the waiting vacuum. The doomed ship shuddered one last time and
finally succumbed to its fate. It’s existence ended in a
massive fireball, which suddenly vanished into blackness, deprived of
its oxygen. All of this had taken less than five seconds, and had
been completely silent.
triggered by the stingray’s explosion hit before Fry and his
companions could even register their victory. The bow of the Planet
Express ship was flung sideways in a manner that a blernsball would
be familiar with after recently coming into contact with a bat. Leela
had just enough time to worry that the torque would rip the ship
apart before she lost consciousness.
It was several
hours later when Leela awoke. She opened her eye but couldn’t
see anything more than a grayish blob for awhile. Having been knocked
around many times before, the cyclops knew the routine and waited as
her vision slowly returned. A particularly close blur of grey
coalesced into Fry, who was leaning over her. Something had torn a
gash down his left cheek, and minor scrapes crisscrossed his
forehead. The cyclops suddenly realized that he had been calling her
name for quite some time.
Leela could feel
her strength returning and tried to speak. “Unghhh, Fry? Where
are we?” Fry looked visibly relieved. He turned his face to
speak to someone out of Leela’s field of view. “Hey
everybody! She’s awake!”
herself up on one elbow and looked around her. She was in the PE
ship’s laundry room. The rest of the crew was also there. Amy
had a nasty looking bloody patch on the left leg of her pink sweat
suit, and a dark welt in the middle of her forehead. Nibbler was
curled up asleep in the corner. He looked uninjured. Bender, being
made of a metal alloy, had survived basically unharmed, though you
wouldn’t know it by his complaining. The lobster member of the
crew was also unharmed due to his hard outer shell. The one eyed
captain looked herself over. She had faired better than she felt.
There were some minor scratches and a bruise or two, but she would be
asked Leela, what happened? Why are we in the laundry room?”
Amy was the one to respond. “We all blacked out when that
missile thing exploded. When I woke up, we were all in here.”
Leela got up off the floor and sat down on the edge of a washing
machine next to Bender. She was relieved that everyone had passed
out. It would have been too embarrassing to have been the only one to
woke me up as that other bad guy was docking with us,” said
Fry. “We didn’t have a chance to do anything before all
these guys with laser pistols came running onto the bridge. They made
us carry you and Amy into the laundry room and then they locked us in
here.” Bender crossed his arms and pouted. “I thought we
could take ‘em,” complained the robot, “but Fry
wouldn’t let me use Zoidberg as a shield” Zoidberg
grumbled in the background.
Leela rolled her
eye at the robot. He was always trying to use one of his crewmates as
a shield for something or other. “Well, the important thing is
that nobody is hurt,” remarked the cyclops. In cases like this
it was a good idea to take the optimistic stance and concentrate on
the future rather than the past. Pessimism has its place, but it also
tends to get you killed. The PE captain forced her thoughts toward
what was going to happen to them next, and that depended on their
captor. “Has Ivan been in here yet?”, asked Leela..Fry
was puzzled. “No, why would he be? He just wants the
professor’s stuff. We aren’t important to him.” Amy
broke in before Leela could explain it to him. “Spluh,”
said the intern. “He’s a stereotypical science fiction
bad guy. Don’t you know how this works Fry? We fight him, he
takes us prisoner, and then he comes to our cell and gloats.”
Fry nodded his comprehension. “Ok, and then what?”, he
asked. Leela and Amy looked at each other and frowned. The cyclopes
whispered: “And then he kills us.”
Express crew was therefore not surprised when Ivan paid them a visit
a short time later.
The laundry room
door opened with its characteristic creak. It had needed oil for
months, but no one had ever gotten around to it. Mean looking pulse
rifles appeared in the opening, followed by meaner looking men. Two
of the soldiers walked into the room and took up position flanking
the door. Ivan entered the room a moment later. The scar was a dead
giveaway to his identity.
of you is the captain?”, demanded Ivan.
Leela stood up
and glared at her captor. One of the soldiers fidgeted with his
weapon. “My name is Leela. This is Fry, Amy, Bender, and
Zoidberg. I’m the captain and I demand that you get off my
ship. I sent out a distress signal before you attacked, and a fleet
of DOOP ships will be here in minutes.” DOOP, or the Democratic
Order Of Planets, was the largest interstellar government in
existence. It also had the most powerful navy.
The scarred man
just chuckled. “Don’t waste your breath captain. I’ve
had your radio jammed for days. There isn’t anyone coming to
your rescue.” Ivan strolled over to the room’s single
table. He lowered himself into a sitting position. “I must
say,” he continued, “I am very impressed. You cost me ten
ships and over thirty crewmen. If I wasn’t so sure you would
say no I’d ask all of you to join my organization.
exactly is your organization?” The cyclops was having trouble
focusing on her opponent. The scar was so damned distracting.
say I specialize in the transportation and sale of devices that
certain military institutions would find immensely interesting.”
an arms dealer?”, asked Fry.
Ivan turned to
face the new voice, and nodded affirmation. “Exactly.”
further. “And you want the stuff in our cargo bay so that you
can sell it?”
right! People will pay a pretty penny for what that professor friend
of yours has built over the years.”
Express crew let out a collective gasp.
her captor. “But Ivan, those inventions are too powerful to be
trusted in the hands of any military. Billions of people could be
killed if even one were to be used!” Leela paused for a moment.
“Hey, how did you know about the professor’s doomsday
“Its not my problem how the weapons are used. I just deliver
them, their future owners decide whether or not to use them. As far
as how I knew about them, every arms dealer in the universe knows
about them. Farnsworth mentions them every time he makes a public
speech. He’s always flaunting them in front of people”
“Yep that’s the professor for you. He loves his weapons
of mass destruction.”
Fry to shut up. “So what are you going to do with us?”,
asked the cyclops. “You cant keep us locked up in our own
laundry room forever.”
exactly right Leela,” replied Ivan. “Originally I was
just going to let you go. I must say you have earned my respect after
the impressive bit of captaining you pulled earlier. It would sorrow
me to put such a worthy opponent to death. Unfortunately for you
however, my men are demanding they get their revenge for the ships
you destroyed. I think I have come up with a rather clever
compromise. My ship’s crew will finish unloading your cargo bay
and then set the timers on the two warheads you still have onboard
this ship. If you are as clever a captain as I suspect, you will
escape from this room and disarm the torpedoes. If not”, the
man shrugged, “the nuclear warheads will vaporize your bodies
into clouds of gas.” Ivan stood up and left his captives to
digest his last statement.
around her for something to use. Ivan had only been gone for a minute
and she was already looking for a way to escape. She felt certain
that her crew would find a way out of their makeshift cell before the
bombs went off, but Leela had no intention of waiting long enough for
the warheads to be set. That arrogant bastard Ivan had invaded her
ship, injured her crew, and was making off with her cargo. That was
unacceptable. Leela would not be satisfied unless she had the
satisfaction of kicking her strutting captor in the genitals before
But how were
they supposed to get out of the room? The door was locked from the
outside, and was much too strong to break down. Leela’s eye
scanned the room. “Lets see”, she thought to herself,
“table, stool, laundry basket, dirty clothing, mechanical
washing unit, detergent, dryer, more dirty clothing…”
The one-eyed captain grinned. “That’s it!”
not!”, Bender added helpfully.
him. “When Ivan walked into the room the door slid open
“spluh. So what?”
door to open automatically the ship must have normal power again. The
lights work on emergency power, but the doors have to be opened
asked Fry, too slow to catch on.
deviously. “You’ll see. Bender, I want you to move that
dryer out from the wall.”
“Ok you’re the boss.” What was really meant by
the expression was “I’m bored with this conversation and
I’m only doing this because I’m too lazy to argue with
you worthless sacks of meat.”
sauntered over to the machine and gave it a tug. Wires ripped from
the walls. Several sparks escaped from the back of the dryer.
said Leela, “now pull on that red wire. Careful, its live.”
have to be told. He knew a live electrical wire when he saw it. The
robot pulled on the wire with both hands. It came away from the wall
in foot-long sections. A dark gash was left in the drywall where the
wire had once been.
Bender to stop after a good ten feet of wire was sitting on the
floor. “Alright good that’ll do it. Everybody except
Bender back away to the other side of the room. Bender, I want you to
jam that wire into the door control mechanism when I give you the
whatever you say big boots”
Leela gave the
signal as soon as everyone was a safe distance away. Bender jammed
the live wire into the control panel, generating a current of a few
thousand amps. Sparks flew from the control panel in all direction,
and the lights flickered for a moment. The door opened with a whoosh
and Leela seized her moment. There were two guards standing in the
hall outside the room. The first guard was never even aware that
anything had happened. The second guard had just enough time to see a
blur of motion reduce his companion to a heap before he was rendered
unconscious by a karate chop to the side of the head.
Leela’s arm before she could continue down the hall in her
destructive frenzy. “Wait Leela, don’t do this. You’ll
just get yourself hurt. Its not worth it.”
slumped. “I know Fry. It’s just, I cant let Ivan get
away. Not after he hurt you and the others.”
getting yourself hurt isn’t going to fix that. Why don’t
we sneak onto Ivan’s ship? That way when he gets to his home
planet or whatever we can call the DOOP and tell them where he is. We
might not be strong enough to beat up all of these guys, but the DOOP
captain gave her friend a long look. “You know what Fry?
You’re right. Amy and Zoidberg gasped. “Alright
everybody,” continued Leela, “new plan. Amy and Zoidberg,
I want you two to wait here until Ivan leaves, then head down to the
torpedo bay and stop the timers. You should have plenty of time since
you wont have to break out of here first. Go straight home as soon as
all of the ships are gone and tell the professor what happened. Oh,
and Amy? Take care of Nibbler for me. As for Bender, Fry, and me,
we’re going to try and sneak aboard Ivan’s ship.
Time was of the
essence, so the friends said quick goodbyes to each other and went
their separate ways. Amy and Zoidberg went back into the laundry room
to wait. Bender and Fry followed their captain down the hall toward
the cargo bay.
The trio met no
more guards until they had come to the bay itself. Two lightly armed
men were carrying a crate through the hatch. What looked like a sort
of elastic tube was connecting the two ships. Fry, Leela, and Bender
ducked back around the corner and peered into the room.
no good. We’ll be spotted as soon as we enter that tube.”
didn’t that idiot lobster open a crate awhile back?”
yeah! Maybe we could climb in there and hide.”
That might work. We’ll let those soldiers carry us through the
tube, and we can hide out in the crate until the coast is clear.”
The two men that
had been carrying the box reappeared before the three friends had a
chance to look for the crate. Thirty seconds later the men
disappeared into the tube with another crate.
Fry, Leela and
Bender rushed into the room to look for the crate. They only had a
few seconds before the two soldiers came back for the next crate.
Bender was the first to come across what they were looking for. He
gestured to his crewmates and jumped into the box. Amy had emptied
this particular crate after Zoidberg had broken its contents. The
device was currently sitting in the storage closet in several pieces.
Fry and Leela managed to squeeze themselves into the crate, but it
was by no means a comfortable fit. Bender used his extending arms to
reach out of the crate and grab the lid. He carefully moved it into
minutes the two humans and the robot were aware of nothing save heavy
breathing and two loud heartbeats. Then there was the sensation of
motion. Leela realized with sudden terror that the soldiers were
using the PE ship’s magnetic winch to raise the heavy crate. If
Fry and Leela had been its only contents this would not have been a
problem, but Bender’s presence made it a catastrophe. Magnets
invariably screwed up Bender’s inhibition unit. In the past
Bender had started to sing bad folk music when his inhibition chip
malfunctioned. Singing would give away their position. Something had
to be done, and fast.
the robot and shoved his face into Fry’s stomach. Fry was just
about to blow the trio’s cover with an angry remark when a
poorly done rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Mercy Seat”
made it to his ears. Just enough noise was escaping into the crate’s
interior for Fry to hear, and to understand why Leela had done what
The men loading
the crate remained oblivious to the singing robot and his companions.
One of the soldiers operated the winch while the other pushed a hover
dolly into the bay.
you think’s inside it?” Asked hover dolly guard.
says its some kinda big bomb” replied his companion.
whatever it is, its sure heavy.”
The crate was slowly lowered onto the dolly. The soldier operating
the winch turned off the electromagnet and joined his friend by the
crate. Both men got behind the dolly and began to push. The dolly
passed through the cargo bay of the Planet Express ship, into the
tunnel, and finally into the belly of the other vessel. Fry, Leela,
and Bender were now stowaways on the ship of a dangerous criminal,
cut off from everyone they had ever known.
Part 3: Talora
Bender was not a
happy robot. He had been stuck in this stupid container, barely large
enough for his ego let alone his body and those of two humans, for
hours. The small space didn’t bother him so much; his
apartment was only a few cubic meters in volume after all. Then
again, he didn’t have to share those few cubic meters with two
whiny mammals. Every ten minutes it was “I’m hungry”
or “There’s no air in here”, or “Bender get
off my larynx, you’re strangling me to death.”
Things had been
relatively quiet after he and his human friends had stolen aboard
this ship. The two crewmen who had unwittingly assisted the three
stowaways had simply put down their crate and moved on to the next
one none the wiser. The tube linking the two ships had been withdrawn
when all of the crates had been transferred over to their new owners’
vessel. Fry, Leela, and Bender had watched a portal in the ships hull
through a crack in their crate as the Planet Express ship shrank away
into the distance. They could only hope that Amy and Zoidberg would
be able to defuse the warheads.
There had been
one minor flaw in Leela’s plan. Now that they were on the enemy
ship, there was nowhere to hide. There was always at least one
crewman stationed in the ship’s cargo hold, and leaving the
crate without getting caught would be impossible. The three stowaways
would just have to wait in their box and hope that a bored crewman
would not become curious as to what was inside.
for the robot and his two companions, they had a long flight ahead of
them. At least Bender had had the foresight to bring along some extra
beer. Robots, unlike humans, require alcohol to survive. The chemical
energy powers their systems and keeps them rational. Ironically, a
robot that has not had enough to drink behaves in much the same way
as a human that has had far too much. As Bender sat with his back to
one wall of his temporary prison he grabbed another spare beer from
his chest cabinet. It occurred to him that this represented yet
another reason why robots are superior to humans.
meat-sacks. How do they expect to survive without any way to store
stuff for later? They’d just better not think they’re
getting their greasy hands on my precious booze stash.”
dropped two feet with a jarring thud. The ships engines ceased their
roar, and the sound of airbrakes could be heard through the hull.
Leela tried to extricate herself from Bender’s legs and pressed
her face up against the one crack in their prison’s wall. She
could see blue sky through the ship’s porthole. Fry, Leela, and
Bender were once again on the surface of a planet. But which one?
stowaways presently found themselves being loaded onto another hover
dolly. Fry and Leela had plenty of warning this time to make sure
Bender remained unheard. One by one the crates were hauled out of the
bay, down a ramp, and into glaring sunshine. Leela had been worried
that the surface of whatever planet they were being transported to
would be inhospitable. It would have been painfully ironic to come
all this way only to die from atmospheric poisoning. The cyclops took
a tentative breath. “Hmm,” she thought, “I’m
not dead. That’s a good sign I guess. The wristo-majig I wear
on my arm reads 73% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 6% trace gases. Looks
habitable to me.” Actually, it was downright pleasant. The
temperature was about 25 degrees Celsius, there was a light breeze,
and the distinct smell of the ocean was in the air. It was almost
like they’d flown all the way across the universe only to find
that they’d landed in San Diego.
their progress as best she could through the little crack. She was
hoping to spot something she could use as a landmark in case they
needed to get back to the landing site in a hurry. No such luck, the
view was just too limited. The close up image of the crate wall was
combining with the distant surroundings to confuse her eye. Leela
cursed her lack of depth perception for what must have been the
If Leela had had
a convenient window to look through she would have seen a sprawling
metropolis. Skyscrapers towered on either side of a busy two lane
road. Ground traffic whizzed by at breakneck speed, while flying
vehicles arced over the rooftops. Pedestrian transport tubes twisted
in and out of the cityscape like demented snakes. It was actually
much the same scene as you might expect in a Terran city of the time
period. This planet was definitely not Earth, however. In fact, it
technically wasn’t even really a planet. Hanging over the city
like an offer of imminent doom was the silhouette of a monstrous
brownish-red gas giant. The three stowaways were on a moon.
The crates were
loaded into a hover-truck and driven through about a quarter mile of
city. Finally they were unloaded and hauled into a giant warehouse by
burly, rough looking men that the three stowaways had not seen
before, and then left alone.
It was dark in
the warehouse, as there were no windows and the door was shut.
Nothing had moved or made a sound for hours. Now was the time to act.
Bender pushed upward with all of his might. The crate’s lid
flew twenty feet in the air and landed ten feet away with a clang.
The three stowaways were out and running before any would-be
assailant could have a chance to react.
behind the cover of a pile of boxes. The sounds from their escape
faded into echoes. The building was utterly quiet; no one had
detected them. With alarm, the delivery boy discovered that his legs
were shaking like twigs in an earthquake. It was no wonder either, as
the poor man had lost circulation in them hours before. There was a
whisper in the darkness “Psst. Fry. Where are you?”
Fry tried to
respond as quietly as possible, but it still seemed painfully loud in
the silent building. “Over here Leela.” the delivery boy
waved. Leela caught the movement and vectored in on him.
see anybody?”, asked a Leela shaped silhouette
chumps, there’s nobody home.” Fry and Leela jumped
halfway out of their clothes. Bender had suddenly congealed out of
the darkness to Fry’s right.
for the robot to quiet down. “Shut up you idiot, she whispered
through clenched teeth, “How do you know?”
his eyes and then pointed at them. “Umm hello? Infrared eyes?”
right…” Leela blinked. “Ok then Mr.
I’m-So-Superior-To-Everyone, use those eyes of yours to find a
door. We shouldn’t stay here any longer than we have to.”
fine, but if we come across any cats in this spooky place, its every
man for himself.” That got an odd look from Fry and Leela, but
they both decided it would be better not to inquire.
off into the inky blackness. Fry and Leela followed close behind..
The robot had no trouble seeing in the dark, but the two humans had
to whisper to each other now and then to keep track of each other.
Fry lost Bender entirely on two occasions, but the manbot always came
back to collect him. It was fairly obvious that Bender didn’t
want to be alone in this place in the dark, a fact that clashed with
everything Fry knew about his roommate. The delivery boy again
wondered what a cat could have possibly done to have this affect on
eventually found the door. The crew was relieved to find that the
locking mechanism, a simple deadbolt, was on their side of the door
and would not need to be forced. The last thing they wanted was to
leave evidence of someone trying to escape the warehouse. Leela was
pretty sure Ivan would fill in the blanks and be on the stowaways’
his head out the door. A quick scan of the surroundings yielded a
quiet street corner. Even though it was ostensibly the middle of the
night, light reflected from the monstrous planet hanging in the night
sky yielded enough to see by. It probably never got darker on this
side of the planet than it did on Earth at dusk. The robot signaled
all clear to his fellows. Fry, Leela, and Bender dashed out of the
warehouse and took off down the street. They wanted to be as far from
the scene as possible just in case they had been spotted.
Leela came to a
halt after about a quarter mile and waited for her fellows to catch
up. There had been no shouts; no signs of pursuit whatsoever.
Fry came to a
stop next to his captain and leaned on a handy light pole. “We…
That’ll show that jerk Ivan,” agreed Bender. He and Fry
gave each other a high-five, but Leela still looked worried. The
cyclops gestured to her companions to keep walking. “Now hold
on you two,” she warned, “this isn’t over yet.
We’re still stuck on some alien dirtball in the middle of
who-knows-where with no way to get home. Also, a crazed lunatic has
hold of almost every explosive thing the professor ever made.”
crashed down on the robot and the delivery boy. Fry was the first to
speak. “Oh yeah.... Hey I have an idea, why don’t we go
back to the warehouse and smash all of stuff in the crates? Then Ivan
can’t sell them to anybody”
Leela sighed and
shook her head. “I already thought of that. Amy’s the
only one that knows how Farnsworth’s things work. If we go in
there and bash them up they might explode. I guess I probably should
have taken that into account before I sent Amy home…”
professor knows! Why don’t we just find a phone somewhere and
our cover when Ivan’s picks up the transmission? Don’t be
confused. “Why would Ivan be listening? It’s not like he
knows we’re here.”
not the only threat to him Fry. We probably rank somewhere in the
‘minor nuisance that can be squashed under a boot heel whenever
the hell I feel like it’ range. Ivan will be listening in on
every phone call that he can pick up, just in case someone else is
plotting something against him. If my hunch that this planet is
Ivan’s home base is true, then I’m sure that every
satellite flying overhead has been bugged.”
saying that Ivan’s got some guy sitting around listening to a
million phone calls all at the same time? Yeah, Riiiight…”
The delivery boy rolled his eyes.
be stupider than usual, Fry. Its easy to build a computer program
that listens in to a bunch of conversations at once and picks out key
words and phone numbers. The FBI could even do it back in the stupid
ages, uhh, I mean back in the 20th century. Trust me, if I call the
professor, Ivan will know about it.”
Hermes, or Amy, or your parents. Its not like Ivan would know their
phone numbers or their names.”
a phone call to Earth from the planet Ivan is currently on, plus
someone saying ‘Hi Leela’, is gonna start a little red
light blinking on somebody’s desk. We might not be that big a
threat, but Ivan’s still going to be watching out for us.”
The delivery boy scratched his head. “uhh then should we tell
That got a
forceful shake of the head from Leela. “No. no cops. For all we
know, this whole planet could belong to Ivan. The police might work
don’t we just steal them?” Of course that would be
yeah!”, exclaimed Fry. “But, how? The boxes are too heavy
to carry, and we’d need some sort of giant pickup truck to hold
what part of ‘Bender is a robot’ are you not getting?
I’ve got superhuman strength.“ Bender walked over to the
curb and picked up a parked hovercar, managing to get it over his
about the idea for a moment while Bender twirled the car in circles
over his head, and couldn’t come up with any particular flaw in
the plan. “Hmm, you know, that could actually work. All we have
to do is find a hovertruck that will carry everything.” The
cyclops paused as something dawned on her. “But wait a minute,
how are we going to get the doomsday devices off this planet? We
don’t have a ship.”
“So? The whole point was to get the professor’s stuff
away from Earth so he wouldn’t have to pay taxes on it, right?
Maybe we can find a place on this planet to hide it.”
need to do,” added Bender, “is find someplace dirty and
uninhabitable where no one would ever want to go, you know, like New
Jersey. There’s probably a place like that on this planet
must be,” reasoned the cyclops. “Where else would the
people that live here dump their trash? Anyway, the important thing
is that we have a plan.”
do we do now? Walking the streets isn’t helping much” Fry
neglected to add that he was about five minutes from collapse. His
body was worn out from hunger, fear, and long periods of forced
inactivity, and was currently engaged in an all out rebellion against
Luckily, Fry was
not the only one to feel this way. Leela gave a loud yawn and said:
“Its too late to worry about doing anything tonight. Lets get
some food and some rest; We’ll worry about this in the
There was no complaint.
Fry woke up the
next morning to the discovery that he couldn’t move. The three
friends had rented a motel room for the night. Unfortunately the only
one they could find had two beds; a number, Bender had explained to
Fry, that is one less than the number of people that needed to sleep
in the room. The delivery boy had been forced to share a bed with
Bender, but had been knocked onto the floor within half an hour. The
hard concrete surface combined with the aftereffects of a day in a
tiny little box were enough to send his muscles into all out revolt.
They screamed their hatred at him as he slowly tried to sit up. This
feat accomplished, he proceeded to attempt standing, but immediately
fell back onto his ass with a wince of pain. “Better to wait a
minute”, he thought.
from the motel room’s tiny bathroom a moment later. “Sleep
well?”, she asked. “Umm, yeah I guess so”, Fry lied
bravely. He didn’t want to seem like a wuss in front of his
captain. Leela walked to his side and looked down at him. “Uh-huh.
Sure you did. That’s why your back looks like a pretzel.”
She bent down and placed one hand on each of his shoulders. “What
are…” the delivery boy began, but his words were cut
off. Something happened involving Leela’s hands, Fry’s
spine, and a loud resounding ‘Crack’. “Better?”
asked the cyclops. Fry once again experimented with standing, leaning
on Leela for support. He was amazed to find that all of the pain was
gone. “Wow, thanks Leela. That’s much better.”
problem”, his friend laughed.
into the room just in time to miss everything that had just
transpired, but early enough to still see Fry’s arm around
Leela’s waist. “Hello, what’s this?” he
Fry’s arm away as fast as possible. “Umm nothing,”
she insisted, “Nothing at all.”
But then again, its doesn’t concern me, Bender.” The
robot didn’t buy it. He had watched from the beginning as the
relationship between Leela and Fry blossomed, and knew there was much
more there than either human admitted to him. Besides, it was much
more fun to assume scandal.
Fry tried to
change the subject. “So, uhh, what have you been up to Bender?”
worked. With the center of attention now placed on himself, the robot
completely forgot about the embarrassing moment he had just
figured we’d need some money, so I went out and got us all
Fry and Leela exclaimed in unison.
just kidding. I did get us some money though.”
reached into his chest cabinet and pulled out a wad of cash. Neither
human wanted to question where Bender had gotten that much dough that
fast. It would be safer to just take it and not think twice.
continued the robot, “and I found a nice rental place where we
can get a hovertruck.”
believe how helpful the robot was being. The idea that he had gone
out to look for a rental place all of his own accord just didn’t
sit right with the woman. “And then to offer us money…”,
Leela pondered. “That’s got to be a first. Usually he’s
stealing it from us. He must be trying to get on my good side, just
in case I’m still pissed enough to carry out some of those
threats I made back when he tried to steal Fry’s wallet while
we were in the crate.” Whatever the reason, she was grateful
for the help.
then.” The PE captain stood up. She had made a plan, and now it
was time to carry it out. “Good job Bender. We can use some of
the money you, uhh, ‘procured’ to rent a truck.”
want to PAY for the truck?” The robot was genuinely surprised.
It had never occurred to him that anyone would suggest that. What
could possibly be the reason? He shrugged. “Uhh, I guess that
going to pay for it! I refuse to be part of any stealing“
Leela’s eye couldn’t help but dart to the wad of cash
that still resided in Bender’s hand, “… that I
can’t pretend didn’t happen”
Bender blew a
raspberry. “Sheesh, calm down chump. Its not like we’d
really be stealing it anyway. We’d leave it on the side of the
road when we were done with it. There’s a chance the owners
would find it someday.”
a minute.” Fry had been listening intently to the exchange of
words between his captain and his roommate, and thought he saw a flaw
in what Leela and Bender were planning. Usually when this happened it
turned out that he was simply too dumb to understand some nuance, and
Leela always let him know in a condescending voice. Thus, it had
taken this long for him to build up the courage to speak up. “Are
we talking about doing this now? Wont there be people around to stop
us? I don’t think Ivan is just going to let us barge in and
walk away with all of those crates while he just stands there.”
The delivery boy was relieved when Leela didn’t roll her eye.
not.” The cyclops’ eye narrowed in advance of the coming
scheme. “That’s why we’re going to break in
The rest of the
day was spent in preparation. Fry was worried about the possibility
that the weapons would be gone by the time that he and his friends
were ready to retrieve them. Leela couldn’t prove to herself
that the delivery boy didn’t have a point, so she sent him off
to watch over the warehouse. If any trouble were to arise, he could
contact Leela and Bender with the small wrist communicator they had
bought for him in one of the many shops lining the city streets.
Leela could then pick up any transmissions that the delivery boy sent
on her own wrist com while she and Bender were elsewhere.
Leela and Bender
had no trouble procuring a hover-truck. The man behind the service
counter was a little leery of renting to someone with one eye, and at
one point Bender almost had to step in and volunteer to be classified
as the driver. Before he had a chance, however, the man made a
comment about cyclops drivers being worse than female drivers. Leela
made a disgusted sound and slapped the man’s glasses off of his
face. The man bent over to pick up his shattered lenses. “Well,
I guess that proves you have depth perception. You can drive.”
Several minutes later, Leela and her robotic companion were out the
door. “You meant to knock that guy’s head off didn’t
you?” asked Bender. Leela nodded.
wasn’t much else to be done until nightfall. Leela guessed that
left another eight hours until dark, based on how fast the planet’s
sun was moving across the sky. Whatever planet they were on had much
the same rotational period as Earth.
The cyclops and
the robot spent the remainder of the day wandering though the city.
Leela now sported a pair of sunglasses and a blernsball cap.
Purple-haired cyclopes are not exactly a very common sight; Disguise
was a must.
It was really
very relaxing for the PE captain to finally get a chance to not be in
charge. Events would work themselves out when the time was right, but
for now Leela could pretend that she was simply on vacation on
another world. She planned to waste some time, view a couple of
tourist attractions, and not think about anything else for awhile.
The only thing she hoped to accomplish before nightfall was finding
out the name of the planet they were on. That way when she eventually
contacted their friends back on Earth, she tell them where to find
the three lost members of their crew. Suddenly thoughts of her
coworkers flooded through the cyclops’ mind. Leela had not had
much of a chance to think about anyone but herself, Fry, and Bender
since being marooned on this stupid dirt ball. “For all I know,
Amy and Nibbler are dead.” She though miserably to herself. A
solitary tear trickled down her left cheek. But no, now was not the
time. There was absolutely nothing that she could do for Amy or her
pet -oh and Zoidberg either- right now. “My responsibility is
to the two friends are right here with me”, she said to
herself. Not for the first time it occurred to her how lucky she was
to have such friends. Leela knew that Bender had come along mainly
because Fry had, but Fry had come simply because Leela had asked him
too. No, that wasn’t quite it, the PE captain realized. Fry
would have come even if Leela had forbidden it. “He’s
always watching out for me, and I’m so cold to him.” Some
massive, unnamable emotion moved deep inside the woman. For the
briefest of moments the barriers that Leela had put up over the years
to keep her emotions at bay came crashing down, exposing her true
feelings to her conscious mind. The stunned woman had only a moment
to interpret this new part of herself before it was yanked away from
her again, but that moment had been enough. Leela suddenly discovered
that she was crying
a certain downtown warehouse, a certain Phillip J. Fry awoke with a
start. He had been watching the building for hours now with nothing
to report. There had been some activity, but not much. Wiping the
sleep from his eyes Fry peered out of his hiding spot in a dumpster
across the street. The warehouse door stood open. The entire building
had been emptied while Fry was dozing off. Crying out in alarm, Fry
reached for the communicator and jammed in Leela’s number. The
captain’s face appeared on screen after just two rings.
The warehouse, its empty!”
It took a moment
for Leela to comprehend what her friend was saying. Her mind had been
far off in a distant place and was having trouble switching tracks.
“What, what do you… oh ok…. Wait, WHAT?!”
Reality crashed home.
“I know, I
know. I’m really sorry Leela. I fell asleep, and when I woke up
everything was gone.”
practically exploded. “You fell asleep?! You idiot! How could
you let that happen?! You had one job! One! Cant I trust you to do
Fry felt like he
had been slapped. He’d never seen Leela act this way after he
screwed up, and he screwed up often
hold on, that’s not fair.” The delivery boy tried in vain
to defend himself. “I was the one that suggested we watch the
warehouse anyway. If I hadn’t said anything, we wouldn’t
even know the crates were gone until we tried to steal them tonight.”
disembodied voice came over the communicator. “Yeah, come on
Leela. Fry screws up all the time. What are you so upset about?”
face took on a haggard look. She knew she couldn’t explain it
The cyclops let
out a sigh. It almost seemed to Fry that she was shrinking in on
herself. After a few moments of quiet, Leela spoke up again. “I-
I’m sorry Fry. I didn’t mean that. Its just, I’m
just under so much stress, and nothing has been working out right,
and you’re all counting on me to fix this and…”,
she sighed, “I guess the important thing is that we’re
all still ok. How long were you asleep Fry?”
maybe an hour.”
then we might still have a chance. Fry? Hail a cab and meet us at the
spaceport. That we saw this morning. It’s the only place
anywhere near here that you could park a spaceship, so that’s
where Ivan will be. That is, if he hasn’t left already.”
was a sprawling mass of low lying buildings and concrete runways. The
only thing that kept Fry from thinking he had returned to the 20th
century and ended up at LaGuardia International Airport was, of
course, the lack of jumbo jet aircraft. Instead, house sized vehicles
of every shape and description flew overhead. Fry could see the
Earthican flag emblazoned on the wings of some of the larger ships.
It took the
three friends no time at all to find Ivan’s ship. The
distinctive stingray shape stood out starkly against the other ships,
which were mainly of the traditional Roy-Rogers design.
still here.” Fry had a profound ability to state the obvious.
remarked Bender, “but so what? The crates aren’t”
weren’t. From their position on the tarmac, Fry, Leela, and
Bender could see into the ship’s hold. It was completely empty.
Fry walked a dozen paces over to a tall spaceport employee, Neptunian
by the looks of it, who was busy sorting luggage.
excuse me”, said the redhead. The alien grunted and continued
his sorting. Fry continued anyway: “Do you know, is that ship
over there supposed to take off today?” Sensing that this
stranger was not going to go away, the Neptunian looked up at the
delivery boy and asked “What ship?” Fry pointed. The
purple alien’s demeanor changed immediately. He stood up
straight, and crossed his arms; all four of them.
Ivan’s ship. What business do you have with it?” Leela
jumped into the conversation before Fry could give anything away.
“We’re, uhh, acquaintances of Ivan’s. His ship was
carrying some cargo that we’re interested in, but we noticed
that its gone. Do you know what happened to it?” The cyclops
hoped she sounded less suspicious than she felt. The Neptunian’s
eyes narrowed. “Are you friends of Ivan’s?” Leela
had to think that one over. Something told her that to give the wrong
answer would be very, very bad. She looked long and hard at the alien
standing not five feet away, hoping for a clue. Nothing. “Oh
well,” she thought, “if I say the wrong thing I can
always beat him up later.”
The PE captain
decided to tell the truth. It was easier than making up some
complicated lie. “No, we aren’t his friends. He stole out
cargo, wrecked ours ship, and tried to kill us, and we plan on making
him pay for it.” Fry and Bender looked at their captain. They
hadn’t expected such a direct response..
looked at Leela for a long time. His gaze bored into the cyclops like
he could see directly into her soul. It creeped the hell out of her.
Leela was just getting to the point where she was too uncomfortable
to care whether the Neptunian could help her or not, and was mulling
over various ways to beat the tar out of him, when the alien smiled.
“Alright, good enough.” He said. “There’s
something about you that says I can trust you. The Neptunian looked
around him quickly. “Ok, I cant talk for long without raising
suspicion but I’ll do my best. The truth is, you picked the
right person to talk to. My name is Izar. I’m part of the
resistance group here on Talora”
Leela thought for a moment to herself. The name seemed familiar.
about a three day flight from Earth isn’t it?” she asked
minute,” demanded Bender. “You said you’re in a
resistance group? You’re fighting some sort of war?”
“That’s right. Ivan has started a campaign of
blackmail and murder against our government. Most of the ranking
politicians are on his payroll now. The police, secret service, and
the military are all under his direct command. It’s only a
matter of time before he controls the entire planet.”
Fry nudged his
captain. “Good call on not telling the cops about the
professor’s stuff Leela.”
Izar raised an
eyebrow. “What stuff?”
The existence of
the doomsday weapons could not be admitted at all costs. Leela would
have to give away just enough that Izar didn’t suspect that she
was hiding something dangerous if she wanted Izar to trust her. “Fry
means the cargo that Ivan’s ship was carrying,” explained
the PE captain. “He stole it from us, and well… lets
just say that having it fall into the wrong hands would be a very bad
thing for everybody. We have to get it back, but its not at the
warehouse where we lat saw it, and it isn’t here. Do you have
any idea what could have happened to it?”
The alien looked
pensive. “I might. When Ivan lands here he usually empties his
ship into a warehouse as fast as he can. The imports inspector is
under Ivan’s sway, but Ivan doesn’t have quite enough
power yet that the inspector can just neglect to search his ship at
all. Ivan usually gets two or three hours to clear his ship, but
that’s it. Once the stuff is in the warehouse, Ivan usually
brings in a fleet of small aircraft to haul it to his compound. I’d
guess that’s where your cargo is.”
Fry asked nervously. He suddenly did not like the direction that this
particular conversation was turning.
three hundred miles due East of here. If you want to get your things
back, that’s where I’d go.”
Leela cut right
to the chase. “Ok, so how do we get in?”
Izar laughed and
shook his head. “You don’t. Ivan owns everything within
200 miles of his fortress, and he shoots down anything he doesn’t
recognize once it enters his land. You could probably make it to
within fifty miles before you were detected if you went by ground
car, but then you’d have to walk the rest of the way, through
was aware of two men in dark jackets and sunglasses standing some
distance off. They were currently attempting to look as inconspicuous
as possible, and failing miserably. The Neptunian began to fidget.
better leave before we cause you trouble,” said Leela. Her tone
became a little more urgent. “One last question. Would your
resistance help us? If we don’t get this cargo back, well, like
I said, it could be really bad for everybody.”
answer was firm. “I’m sorry, but no. There aren’t
enough of us yet to take any risks. We can’t afford to be
discovered until we can be sure that we have a chance of challenging
Ivan successfully. You have about two weeks before Ivan leaves Talora
again, so if you do plan to do something, you’ll have to do it
acknowledged the alien with a smile and a nod. The cyclops found
herself admiring this unexpected ally. She was confident that he
would one day prove a valuable asset to his people. “I
understand. Thank you for helping us.”
nothing of it. I hope to see you all again under better
circumstances.” Izar gave the PE captain a small salute,
disguised as a scratch of the forehead so as to not interest the two
men in suits.
conspirators did not want to draw any more attention, so Fry Leela,
and Bender walked away without another word. Fry wanted to shake this
brave alien’s hand, but to do so might alert someone that there
was more than an idle conversation taking place here.
Izar went back
to his sorting, trying as hard as he could to be as nonchalant as
possible. The Neptunian finished his chore and headed to a nearby
ship to fetch another load. He disappeared into the cargo hold. The
two men in black jackets and sunglasses walked slowly over to the
ship that the purple alien had just disappeared into. Without a word
they walked up the ramp and into the vessel’s cargo bay. There
was a flash. The two men walked out again.
Men in suits had
tailed Fry, Bender, and their captain from the spaceport. It had only
been by using the city’s pedestrian tube system that they had
thrown the men off of their trail. Over and over they jumped into the
tubes at random. It was actually the most fun Fry had had in weeks.
He loved the sensation as suction hurtled him through the clear
plastic tubes, sending him twisting and diving over the urban
landscape at breakneck speed.
When Leela was
finally satisfied that there was no longer anyone following them, she
gestured for her friends to follow her into a restaurant.
It was early
evening by this point, and the place was almost empty. A green scaly
creature was sitting at the bar staring dejectedly into a cold mug,
and two signoids were standing by a pool table arguing over
something, but the building was otherwise deserted. Fry assumed there
were employees somewhere in the back room.
The three main
Planet Express crewmembers slid into a booth near the back of the
room. A small humanoid robot immediately appeared to take their
order, and was gone.
Fry asked, “what are we going to do now?”
“I vote we
go kick that Ivan guy’s ass,” Bender immediately
Leela shook her
head. “We can’t! From what Izar said, we won’t even
be able to get near Ivan’s compound before we get blown to
Fry tried again, “then what do you think we should do Leela?”
exploded. “I don’t know ok?! We cant take back the
professor’s things by force. We cant get close enough to steal
them. There’s no one here that can help us. What do you want me
to do, pull some magic plan out of nowhere and save the day
Fry and his
roommate exchanged glances. That had been exactly what they were
hoping Leela would do. That’s what the cyclops always
silence around the table for the next few minutes while Fry, Leela,
and Bender thought things over to themselves. The same droid that
placed their orders came by, dropped off some nondescript food, and
vanished again. Leela began absentmindedly picking at it with her
In a bizarre
twist, Fry was the one to come up with an idea. “Hey wait a
minute. Didn’t Izar say we would be ok if we walked?”
Bender and Leela
just stared at him.
Fry ignored the
looks and continued. “Why don’t we just walk to Ivan’s
Leela sighed for
the thousandth time since she had left Earth. “Fry, the base is
three hundred miles away. We cant walk that far.”
The delivery boy
shook his head. His friend was missing the point. “But we don’t
have to walk that far. We rented a truck right? Izar said we could
get within fifty miles if we took a car remember? Why don’t we
just drive the truck as far as it’ll go, and then just walk the
rest of the way?”
unconvinced. “That’s a nice idea Fry, but it still leaves
us with a fifty mile walk, you’re out of shape, and none of us
have any experience with desert survival. It would take days to walk
that far through rough desert if it’s as bad as Izar made it
“Yep, your right, it probably will take days, but Izar said
that Ivan won’t be leaving Talora for at least two weeks!”
That little bit
of reasoning was enough to cause the starship captain to sit up
straight in her chair. “I… I forgot about that. Geez
Fry, you might actually have had a good idea!”.
Bender gasped in
the background. “That makes two in three days!”
start now we would have plenty of time to get to Ivan compound and
kick his ass before he left. This could actually work…”
said Bender in an attempt at mimicking a throat-clearing noise. “I
hate to ruin your parade, but how are you two meatbags going to live
in the desert for a week? Don’t you need food and water or
Leela turned to
look at the manbot. “Your stomach closet thing is waterproof
right Bender?” the manbot cautiously nodded assent, not liking
the direction this conversation was headed. “If we filled you
up with water, that would give Fry and me more than enough to drink.”
Leela and I could get some backpacks and carry food and stuff. It’ll
be just like those days when I was in Webelos, before I was kicked
out for eating firewood.”
his arms and rolled his eyes. “Suurreee, make the robot carry
sixty pounds of water that he doesn’t even need. Do it yourself
skinbags. That is, do it yourself unless there’s something in
it for me, Bender.” The offended expression vanished from the
robot’s face. He didn’t really care about the weight; it
was insignificant to him. What really mattered was whether or not
there was a profit to be gleaned.
two companions each reached into there pockets with a grumble, and
pulled out whatever money happened to be there. Bender snatched it
before the two humans could think twice. It disappeared into his
chest cabinet faster than the eye could follow.
friends had wasted no time. From the restaurant they had gone
straight to a nearby mall to search for the few items that they
needed. They would be packing light; nothing more than food, water, a
couple of tents, and a few odds and ends for cooking and personal
hygiene. It was then a simple matter of jumping in the truck they had
rented for the day and heading out of the city. When the vehicle ran
out of gas, or could go no further, it would be left on the side of
the road. Leela tried not to think about her unwillingness to do
exactly that when Bender had suggested it back in the hotel.
The trip itself
was an excellent chance for the PE crew to unwind. They had been
tense for so long that it was getting to the point that they couldn’t
remember being any other way. The simple pleasure of watching the
scenery go by with the knowledge that no one was following them with
murder on their minds was a nice change of pace.
while Fry rode shotgun. There were only two seats in the hovertruck,
so Bender rode in the bed of the vehicle. He could talk to his
friends through an open window in the back of the truck’s cab.
All signs of
civilization vanished abruptly as soon as the truck passed the city’s
outer perimeter. On the left Fry could see an ocean, complete with
sparkling white sandy beaches. On his right was a range of impressive
looking mountains. The gas giant took up a significant fraction of
the sky overhead. Although it was at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit at
sea level, some of the taller mountains still sparkled with freshly
fallen snow. Between the sea and the mountains the land was fairly
temperate, and palm trees mingled with strange looking alien
vegetation. There were no roads. Evidently the Talorans didn’t
come out this way very often. The hovertruck could only hover a meter
or so off the ground. Leela had to spend an inordinate amount of time
just trying to find an eastward route that didn’t abruptly end
with the truck bottomed out on some stump or boulder. It was quickly
becoming apparent that this was going to be a long ride.
building up overhead as the day wore on, and the gas giant hanging
overhead disappeared from view. By the time the three travelers were
deep into the foothills, the sky was a depressing gray. It started
to rain, and Leela was suddenly glad that she had picked the truck
with the closed in cab. Eventually the lousy seeing conditions
combined with a setting sun were more than Leela could handle. After
an especially loud yawn she pulled into a little secluded clearing
and stopped the truck. It settled to the ground with a low hiss.
Tents were pitched and dinner was nuked, literally. Even though the
cloud cover presented the only likely chance that the three travelers
would have for an undetectable campfire, the wetness quickly forced
everyone into their tents, and the rhythmic plop of rain on canvas
soon lured them to sleep.
The alarm in
Leela’s wristamajig woke the trio reluctantly back into
consciousness. Leela didn’t even remember falling asleep to
begin with. It was raining harder than the night before, and Fry
wondered why they hadn’t simply slept in the truck. Now all of
their gear was wet. “Oh well,” thought Fry, “might
as well enjoy the water while we have it.”
climbed higher, and rain switched to snow. Soon Fry, Leela, and
Bender found themselves immersed in a thick cloud layer. This was
both a blessing and a curse. Nobody with ill intentions in mind would
see them in the pea soup fog. Then again, there was also the very
real possibility of being surprised by some inconveniently placed
chasm. Fry just hoped that his captain knew what the heck she was
calls later Bender noticed a change in the ambient light. “Hey,
I think its clearing up”, he remarked. Fry had just enough time
to nod his head before the truck blasted through the clouds and into
It was only a
short drive further to the top of the pass. Two peaks rose up another
ten thousand feet on either side. The land beyond the mountains was
basically as Leela had pictured it from the start. A rugged brown
wasteland stretched all the way to the curving horizon. A gleam of
metal could be seen in the far distance; Presumably it was their
destination. The distant landscape shimmered as if it were being seen
through a body of water. Although it was below freezing outside her
window, the cyclops had no doubt that it was blistering hot where she
The drive down
into the desert was uneventful. The mountains gradually sloped down
into dusty flatlands intermingled with boulders and dry riverbeds.
Fry became so bored with the inactivity that he began experimenting
with the power window. He played with it for half an hour before it
finally shorted out. Unfortunately his head was stuck between the
sill and the glass at the time, and Leela had to stop the car and
pull him out.
Leela had only
been driving through flat desert for an hour before the ground became
impassible for their vehicle. Jagged rocks poked up out of the ground
every dozen feet or so and threatened to tear the guts out of the PE
crew’s transport. It was time to get out and walk. Still, the
GPS built into the truck said that they had come more than 250 miles;
just about what Izar had predicted would be possible. The cyclops
landed the hovertruck in a sandy area relatively devoid of rocks and
jumped out. Fry bolted out after her, ecstatic to be doing something
again. Bender emerged from the rear of the vehicle with an armload of
friends loaded their packs and set off in a general eastward
direction. Leela took one last look at the truck she had ‘borrowed’,
and hoped silently that its owners would eventually see it again.
Four days were
followed by four nights, and still the three travelers had seen no
sign of their destination. The days had been hot and cruel; the
nights cold and uncomfortable. Fry and Leela were sore, hungry, and
thoroughly sick of their metal companion. Bender had taken this hike
as a chance to prove once and for all his superiority to all things
flesh and blood. While the two humans toiled through the forbidding
terrain Bender provided a nonstop soundtrack, humming and singing
nonsensically to himself. That, combined with the lack of palatable
food, was enough to make the hike seem more like a death march to the
robot’s friends. Also, the constant sound of water sloshing
around in the robot’s chest cabinet was beginning to make Fry
wish he was dead. At one point Leela had become so sick of dehydrated
meat-byproduct that she had gone out hunting, but was only able to
zap a couple of lizards with her neutron wrist laser. They tasted
like old gym socks.
The worst part
had been that they couldn’t build a fire. There wasn’t
enough wood lying around, and they couldn’t be sure a fire
wouldn’t be spotted by their enemies even if they could get a
blaze going. Now, on the fourth night since the trio had abandoned
their truck, Leela and Fry hunched over the one heat source they had:
a small camp stove. Bender had been sent off on a little
reconnaissance mission. It would be good to let him vent some excess
energy away from the campsite.
stopped warming his hands over the tiny flame and looked up at his
violet-haired captain. He asked: “So Leela, how far do you
think we’ve gone?” Leela looked up and stared blankly at
him until she came back from whatever remote mental plane she had
been lost in. “Wha…” she started, and then woke up
all the way. “Oh. Uhh, well, lets find out.” She fiddled
with some buttons on her wrist band. “According to this thing I
wear on my wrist, we’ve traveled 315 miles since we left the
city.” Fry cocked his head sideways and asked: “But
didn’t Izar say that Ivan only lived 300 miles from the city?”
Leela nodded. “Yeah, but we haven’t walked in a straight
line, and we’re probably a bit north or south of where we want
to be. If I had to guess, Id say Ivan is…” Bender, who
had wandered into the campsite during his companions’
conversation, broke in to finish his captain’s remark. “…
exactly two miles in that direction.” The robot pointed off
toward the southwest. Fry and Leela shifted their gazes to look at
the robot. “Are you sure?” asked Leela. The robot snorted
derisively. “Well, its either him or some other stupid human
with a giant death fortress and a million cronies.” The PE
captain looked startled. “And you said he’s only two
miles away? Were you spotted? They might come after us!” “Nah
I wouldn’t worry about that,” the robot assured his
captain, “I was as silent as a fox. They never knew I was
there.” Bender attempted to demonstrate his stalking prowess,
but tripped over a small rock and fell head over heels with a crash.
Leela just shook her head, not even slightly convinced.
worry Leela,” added Fry, “I’m sure Bender didn’t
give us away. Lets just do what we did when the crates disappeared.
We’ll just sit here and think of a plan. Tomorrow we can worry
down at her lap. “Yeah you’re right, if we’d been
discovered we’d all be dead by now. Lets just hang out here for
the night and tackle this tomorrow. It’s not like the base will
‘disappear’ like those crates if we sit here tonight.
Leela had meant that last statement as a joke, but the word disappear
had come out with a level of venom that surprised the delivery boy,
as well as herself.
minute Leela,” said Fry. “You don’t still blame me
for loosing the crates right? I mean, I fell asleep from boredom
after staring at a building for three hours. It could have happened
to anybody.” Leela’s body was a little more tense than a
week in the desert could vouch for, and Fry realized that this
conversation was going to end badly.
Fry was not
disappointed. Leela’s eye rose to meet his, and the cyclops
glared at him. “Yeah, except it didn’t happen to
‘anybody.’ It happened to you. This sort of thing
always happens with you! You had one job. One! And you blew it, just
like you always do.”
you mean, ‘always do’? I don’t screw up all the
laughed. “Give me a break Fry! When was the last time we went
on a mission that didn’t involve you getting someone injured,
or the shipment vaporized, or the professor sued?”
think of a bunch of times. Like, there was that one mission that…
umm… uhh… Oh, I know! Wait, no… Uhh…
Well, I cant think of any, but its not always me that gets us in
trouble! Remember that time you got stung by space bees and almost
died? Or the time that the robot mafia took over our ship? Those
weren’t my fault!
face was bright red with anger by this point. “But almost every
other problem that pops up is your fault,” the cyclops shot
back, “and the disappearing crates were just more of the same!”
The delivery boy
was becoming angry in his own turn. “Well then why did you
trust me with them huh? You could have made Bender do it, or done it
yourself. Right Bender?”
stuck on his back after his recent fall, shook his head and held out
his arms as if to fend off an attack. “Uh-Uh no way. I’m
not getting involved in this. You two can kill each other, but Bender
is neutral.” The robot hastily rolled back in forth until he
could maneuver onto his stomach. Once in this position, he jumped to
his feet and jogged off toward the tents. He had no intention of
becoming entangled in what promised to become World War IV.
ask Bender to fight your battles Fry. Come to think of it, that’s
your problem. You can’t ever take responsibility for anything.
You always try and blame everything on me or Bender.”
like I even can take responsibility with you around Leela. You
always take control over everything. You don’t let Bender or me
do anything on our own, or even make suggestions. If you’d take
my advice once in awhile, the professor’s stuff would never
have been stolen because we would have turned around before it was
too late. If you had listened to me when I told you I had a bad
feeling about the Snark, we might have been done with this stupid
delivery and back home already!”
That’s not fair! I couldn’t just turn the ship around
because of some ‘bad feeling’ you had!”
boy’s response was simple. “Why?”
want to hear any more of what Fry had to say. She stood up and
scowled at the delivery boy, and then walked to her tent. Fry called
after her, but the cyclops didn’t pay any attention. Fry
watched his captain until she disappeared behind a canvass curtain,
then turned back to the tiny stove that was sitting by his feet. He
turned off the little instrument, got up with a sigh, and walked
dejectedly back to his tent
from her tent before anyone else, three hours before sun-up. She had
not been able to get any sleep, and had spent the whole night
thinking about the argument she had had with Fry. She was still angry
at the delivery boy, but vowed to keep that emotion buried. There
would be time for that if they survived the next twenty four hours.
The cyclops just hoped that Fry would do the same. Leela had
everything packed by the time Fry crawled out from his tent. Bender
emerged from Fry’s tent a short time later, already humming.
The PE captain caught Fry’s eye, and the delivery boy smiled.
Good, then things would be ok for now.
The trio packed
everything up and hid their backpacks in a crevasse between two large
boulders. Carrying bulky camping gear into battle was a suicidal
idea, but throwing it away was equally as stupid. Whether by fault of
Fry or otherwise, the PE crew was used to running for their lives. If
today were to become just one more such occasion, the gear could be
easily found again.
Bender led his
companions to the compound he had spotted the night before. Leela
kept her eye out for any sign of guards hidden in the boulder strewn
landscape, but no one could be seen. Everything was quiet except for
the call of a few night insects.
The two humans
and the robot topped a steep slope and suddenly found themselves at
their destination. Leela lay down on her stomach and gestured for her
friends to do the same. With everyone safely hidden from view, Leela
wormed her way over the top pf the hill and gazed at what lay beyond.
A hundred yards ahead was their target. The ‘compound’
was little more than a dozen rundown buildings surrounding a hangar.
Squatting in the hangar’s open doorway was the silhouette of
one of the now familiar stingray ships. A couple of heavily armed
guards patrolled the perimeter. So much for the ‘giant death
fortress’ and ‘millions of cronies’ that Bender had
attested to the night before. This was going to be easy.
One of the
guards passed within fifty feet of the PE crew’s hiding place,
and Leela took the opportunity. She waited for the bored looking man
to completely pass by and then slowly crept up on him from behind.
The man sensed that something was amiss at the last minute. He didn’t
even have time to turn around before he was unconscious. Fry and
Bender ran up to help Leela drag the injured man out of sight. A
nearby dumpster made a convenient body disposal unit. It would be no
good letting one of his friends see him lying on the ground. Fry
grabbed the man’s laser. The idea was to not kill anyone, but
it was always a good idea to have a backup plan.
Leela waited for
the other guard to pass by, and quickly made sure he met the same
fate as his compatriot. She used her wrist laser to fuse the lid of
the dumpster shut so that the guards wouldn’t be a problem when
they woke up again. Now it was time to hunt for the doomsday
devices. The PE crew made a quick search of the complex. They came
across no obvious surveillance, but hadn’t expected any.
Technology was deeply engrained into the lifestyle of the people of
the 31st century. It would not occur to Ivan that invaders would
approach his base without the aid of some kind of flying machinery.
There were probably surface to air missiles hidden somewhere in the
area for unlucky vehicles that happened nearby, but no need was seen
for defenses or surveillance on the ground. What the three friends
had expected to see however, was some sign of their missing
cargo, but it was nowhere to be found. Building after building turned
up empty and deserted. The entire base was a ghost town. The only
sign that Fry, Leela, and Bender had come to the right place was the
stingray shaped starship crouched in the hanger.
There had to be
something that they were missing. Leela refused to believe that they
had spent five grueling days slogging through the desert, only to
come up against a dead end. She waved Fry and Bender over from their
search through a bunch of empty cardboard boxes. What they expected
to find in them, Leela had no idea. “Fry, Bender, let's go
through all the buildings again. Double check every nook and cranny,
make sure we didn’t miss anything.” The delivery boy
nodded and he and the robot followed his captain from structure to
structure. At first, nothing turned up, but just as Fry, Leela, and
Bender were giving up hope they got a break. Fry was walking across a
throw rug in one of the empty buildings and tripped over a raised
area hidden underneath. When Bender slid away the carpeting a manhole
became visible. There was something underground. The delivery boy
slid the cover off of the new found hole in the floor, and the three
friends found themselves looking into some kind of shaft. A ladder
disappeared into the gloom after the first few feet. A faint light
could just barely be seen at what Leela assumed to be the bottom of
the shaft. Fry caught Leela’s eye and gave her a questioning
look. Leela replied with a nod and sat down on the edge. She rolled
over on her stomach and slid into the hole until her boots made
contact with the ladder’s top rung. She started descending, and
was soon nothing more than a vague shadow. Bender started down next.
That just left Fry. The delivery boy stared down into the depths and
gulped. He waited a few moments for Bender to get a little farther
down the ladder, and slid into the hole. Leela looked up just in time
to see the delivery boy haul the manhole cover back into place. The
dim light of dawn went out with a clang.
When Fry reached
the end of the ladder he found himself in a square room slightly
larger than a broom closet. A metal door and a faint florescent light
were the only signs that the delivery boy had not wandered into some
abandoned well. Fry flattened himself against the wall opposite the
ladder so that his friends had a little room to stand.
When all three
of them were safely on the ground, Leela worked her way to the door
and started turning the wheel attached to its surface. The lock
popped open with an audible thunk, and Fry leaned out into the space
beyond. A lit corridor led in both directions from the PE crew’s
current location. There were two green arrows painted on the wall
facing Fry. One pointed to the left and was accompanied by the words
‘Armory and Storeroom”. The other arrow pointed out the
location of the kitchen and dormitories.
Fry signaled the
all clear to his companions. Leela took the lead at this point and
started off in the direction of the storeroom. Bender followed, with
the delivery boy taking up the rear with his confiscated laser at the
Leela led her
friends down twisting corridors, always following the green arrows
toward their destination. Fry found himself getting disoriented after
only a few minutes. He just hoped that they wouldn’t miss any
turns on the way back out. From time to time Fry thought he heard
voices down adjacent hallways, but he and his friends were lucky
enough to only find one person directly in their path of travel.
Fortunately Leela had seen the man’s shadow before he had been
able to walk around a corner and spot them. Fry, Leela, and Bender
had dashed into a nearby abandoned room to avoid detection.
corridor passed by at regular intervals. Fry began to wonder if they
had been going in circles, but eventually the delivery boy and his
companions reached the end of the arrows. Small red letters painted
on an ordinary wooden door read ‘storeroom.’ Leela pushed
open the door and a broad smile broke out on her face. She had found
friends went from box to box examining the contents. Every one of the
professor’s doomsday devices lay untouched in their packaging.
Best of all, a way existed to get them out of the compound. The roof
of the storeroom was in actuality two monstrous doors. When opened, a
starship could land in the storeroom just as if it were a terrestrial
garage. There was currently a small one man ship occupying the far
corner of the room.
I think we should…”, Fry began, but he was cut off
before he could finish his thought. The sound of footsteps could be
heard outside in the hallway.
Fry, Leela, and
Bender bolted for the shelter of some boxes that were lying in the
corner. They were just in time. Six men walked into the room just
seconds after Bender’s head disappeared behind cover. Four of
the men brandished pulse rifles. The other two carried holstered
laspistols and were in the process of having some sort of argument.
One of the arguers wore a green jacket and was unfamiliar. The other
one was Ivan.
The cyclops was
certain that she had once again been caught in a trap, but the men
seemed completely oblivious to the fact that they had company. Ivan
and green jacket walked over to the spaceship and continued their
verbal battle. The other four men gave each other bored expressions
and sat down on the crates.
over her options. There were two things that she could do. The first
and most agreeable option was to grab Fry’s laser gun and start
blasting. Unfortunately the chances of knocking out all six men
before someone managed to pick her off were practically nil. With one
gun the PE crew just didn’t have much of a chance. Leela had
her wrist laser true, but it wasn’t powerful enough to
seriously injure anything much larger than the desert lizards she had
zapped with it earlier. The only viable option then was to wait the
situation out. Hopefully the men would simply go away before
detecting the cyclops and her friends.
impossible, so the mutant, the human, and the robot sat and waited
for their adversaries to walk out the door. It was working too. The
four guards were finding the argument between their boss and his
underling to be quite entertaining, and so they never got bored
enough to wander around the storeroom. Fry tried to hear what Ivan
and green jacket were saying to each other, but all he could make out
from his position was something about needing more potatoes. “Wow,
we’re going to get through this,” thought the delivery
boy. “All we have to do is not make any noise for the next few
minutes and…” Fry’s winced as his thought was
drowned out by the hiss of static, and then a loud female voice.
anyone there? Hello? If anyone can hear this please…”
whirled around to find the source of the voice. It was Leela’s
wristamajig. The cyclops was desperately swatting at it, and
eventually managed to get it to shut up. It was, of course, much too
late. Within moments Fry found himself eye to eye with the business
end of a pulserifle.
again Leela found herself locked in a small room with her two closest
friends, only this time she was shackled to a wall. Ivan stood three
feet away, gun in hand.
let me get this straight,” said Ivan. “You three followed
me all the way to Talora from where I marooned your ship in deep
space, discovered the location of my hideout, and walked 60 miles
through the desert to get here, and then invaded my compound with the
hopes of getting back your cargo?” Bender spoke up. “That’s
right, and we would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for
your meddling guards.” Leela rolled her eye and nodded
affirmative to Ivan’s question. She figured it would be smart
not to clarify how she had followed Ivan to Talora. If she was lucky
enough she might be able to bluff her way into making Ivan think she
had backup of some kind.
ignored the robot and concentrated on Leela. It occurred to Fry that
he had done the same thing during the last occasion that they had
met. In fact, Ivan had ignored the rest of the PE crew as well, only
acknowledging their existence when asked a direct question. “Why
is Leela so important?”, Fry wondered to himself. “Is it
just because she’s captain?” Not that Fry minded being
ignored by this particular maniac.
was very brave of you, Leela.” Ivan was saying. “But it
was also incredibly foolish. How did you ever expect to get away?
Even if you had managed to steal a ship, I would have shot you down
before you made it a quarter mile.” That thought had of course
occurred to Leela on many occasions. She had hoped that by flying
vertically at max speed she would be out of Talora’s atmosphere
before any defenses could catch up with her. Once she was in space
Leela was confident that she could handle anything short of an entire
fleet of ships.
continued his monologue. “Now here you are, strapped to a wall
in the middle of an army of my men, with no hope of escape. Oh, and
don’t think I’ll be a good sport and just let you go
again. You three have proven to be quite an irritant to me.”
piped in from somewhere to Leela’s left, but head restraints
prevented the cyclops from turning her head far enough to see him.
“What are you going to do with us?”, asked the delivery
boy nervously. As soon as he said it he realized he didn’t
really want to know the answer.
turned to look directly at the delivery boy. “Why, its quite
simple,” replied Ivan. “The three of you will be led up
to the surface at dawn tomorrow. Once there, I will shoot each one of
you in the head. Leela, you will be the last to die so you can watch
what happens to your friends.”
the two human captives were terrified, Bender was closer to
incredulous. “Hey chump,” addressed the robot to his
captor, “how do you expect to kill me with a gun?” I’m
a robot, not some pile of meat like these two chumps” Bender
tried to gesture toward his two friends but then remembered he was
riveted to a wall.. Shooting me in the head isn’t gonna do much
more than hurt slightly.”
scarred man chuckled. “Oh don’t worry my metal friend.
I’m sure I can plug you full of enough holes that it does more
than ‘hurt slightly’.” Bender scoffed. “Oh
please, like that’s even possible.” Ivan smiled
mirthlessly: “Well, we’ll just have to wait and see wont
seemed like an eternity passed before the next dawn arrived. The
three captives remained strapped to the wall for the duration of
their imprisonment, and they were not allowed to speak to each other.
Fry had been meaning to apologize to Leela for the way he had acted
the night before, but had not had a chance. Now, as he was being led
up a ladder into early morning sunlight, he realized with despair
that he was never going to have the chance.
Leela, and Bender were led one after the other to the side of the
empty buildings that the three friends had first seen when stumbling
upon Ivan’s base. Men with laser guns motioned for the trio to
line up with their backs facing the wall. Ivan stepped out from the
throng of armed cronies armed with an antique projectile weapon in
his right hand. The scarred man looked at each one of the PE
crewmembers once in the eyes.
three have dared to confront me after I honored you by saving your
lives. In doing so, you have earned my respect, as well as my
contempt. Leela, you have proven to be a worthy adversary. As such,
you cannot be allowed to live. But first, you will be forced to
endure the worst thing a captain could imagine: watching as the lives
of your friends and crew are extinguished in front of your eyes.
Err, eye. Err, whatever.”
was desperate. “Please…. Please don’t do this.
just laughed. The scarred man raised his weapon and pointed it at
Fry. This was the end, and Fry knew it. The delivery boy watched
Ivan’s finger close around the trigger. Everything happened in
slow motion. Ivan’s finger squeezed. There was a bang. A tiny
glistening cylinder of incarnate death accelerated through the
barrel, propelled by a puff of expanding gas. The bullet flew through
the air at several times the speed of sound. Fry felt something solid
hit him in the chest, and an irresistible force hurtled the poor
delivery boy to the ground. Darkness began to close in, cutting Fry
off from the world. “Leela, I…” He started to
speak, but his body could no longer form the words. It was shutting
down. Somewhere far away somebody was screaming. Fry was sinking…
Amy fired. The
little figures on the ground fizzled and sparked. The intern hurtled
vicious insults at her foes in Cantonese as she blasted them with the
ship’s laser. Hermes rolled the ship to the right to give his
gunner a better shot at a couple of men who were busy assembling an
air defense weapon. Red bolts of death from the Planet Express ship
cut the half finished gun to pieces. A moment later the hangar came
back into view. The intern was relieved to see that Leela and Bender
had dragged the fallen Fry into the shelter of a building. It looked
like they were going to be ok.
Fry awoke to the
sensation of Leela slapping him repeatedly in the face. “Wake
up damn it!”, she was yelling. “We don’t have time
boy’s memories came back in an instant, and Fry surged to his
feet. “What, what’s going on? Why am I still alive?”
He was standing in a small, empty building with his two companions,
each of whom brandished laser rifles.
showed up at the last second,” explained Bender. “She
used the professor’s spaceship to blow a hole in the dirt
twenty feet from that Ivan guy, right as he was shooting you. You
lucked out buddy. The shockwave from the laser blast knocked off
Ivan’s aim. He missed ya. Leela and me dragged your body into
this shack here while all the bad guys were concentrating on shooting
at Amy. Oh, and we picked up these babies from a couple of dead guys
that didn’t need ‘em anymore.” The robot showed off
that explains why I’m not dead. But wait, then why did I feel
hurriedly. “You got knocked over by the shockwave and hit your
head. Now we need to stop talking and get out of here. We’re
still fighting Ivan.” As if to prove the point, a laser beam
blasted away a chunk of wall not two feet from Fry’s head.
Leela, in a casual motion, dropped the man standing in the doorway.
are we going?” asked Fry. “Its probably safer in here.”
probably is safe in here Fry. That is, until someone finds out we’re
in here and decides to blow us into tiny pieces of squishy goo. Now,
stupid comments aside, this is what we’re going to do. First,
we’ll make our way into the desert. Once we’re far enough
away I’ll use my wristamajig to call Amy and tell her where we
are. Then we can get out of this awful place. Now take this.”
Leela handed Fry the lasgun that had fallen by the body in the
doorway. “You ready?” Asked the cyclops. Fry nodded. It
appeared that he didn’t have much choice. Leela gave her two
friends a long look, and ran out the door. Fry and Bender were right
Fry jumped from
the safety of the building. A near miss zipped over his head, nearly
singing his hair. The delivery boy’s instincts twisted his body
around and fired his weapon before Fry was even conscious of it. One
of Ivan’s men fell to the ground surprised. There was no time
to pause and think about the death. Two men and a woman raced around
the corner to aid their fallen comrade, and Fry took off, shooting
randomly in the direction that the lasers were coming from. Leela,
only a handful of paces in front of Fry, turned and picked off one of
the men with a crack shot. Bender was now in front. He led the party
through the war zone. Amy had done a fantastic job of blowing holes
in things. In fact, she was still doing a fantastic job of blowing
holes in things. As Fry and his companions ran they could clearly
make out the Planet Express ship flying back and forth while it
picked out targets at its leisure. Why there were no surface to air
missiles being fired at the invading spacecraft, Fry had no idea. “I
just hope that Amy can tell the difference between us and the bad
guys from that far away.” Thought the delivery boy.
Fry zigged and
zagged. Lasers and plasma pulses came at him from all directions. A
searing line of photons came close enough for Fry to feel the heated
air. Periodic explosions were a constant reminder of an angered young
Martian flying somewhere overhead. A figure appeared in his line of
sight, and Fry squeezed the trigger. Two men emerged from a door to
Leela’s right. One of Leela’s fists connected with the
first man’s forehead. A blur of motion, which Fry assumed was
Leela’s other fist, connected with the second man’s
chest. He went down with a plop.
Fry followed Bender behind a corner. Leela was once again in the
lead. Someone opened fire at them from a jagged hole in a shack up
ahead. Bender let out a harsh laugh and pulled the trigger. The
incoming fire ceased abruptly. The spaceship hanger that the three
friends had seen when they first arrived at Ivan’s compound was
currently to their right. The hanger doors were still open, just like
the day before. As Leela, Bender, and Fry ran by the open doorway,
things got suddenly worse. A lone figure with a weapon that looked
like a mini radar dish stepped out of the hangar’s shadow just
as the two humans and the robots ran by. The man smiled cruelly and
aimed the weapon at Bender’s back. An electromagnetic pulse
crackled through the air and struck the poor unsuspecting robot with
a direct hit. Completely paralyzed, Bender tipped forward and crashed
into Fry. The delivery boy ended up facedown in the dirt with his
legs pinned down by the bulky robot. Leela turned to assist her
fallen friends, but a blow to the head sent her to the ground like a
load of bricks. Ivan laughed.
madman bent over and scooped Leela up in his arms. Fry tried to reach
his lasgun, but it had flown out of his hand as he fell and was now
beyond his reach. He could only watch helplessly as his captain was
carried into the hanger and into the starship that rested there.
Bender twitched. It wasn’t much, but it was enough. The shift
in mass gave Fry the leverage he needed. Apologizing to his metal
friend, Fry shoved the robot. Bender rolled just enough for Fry to
extricate himself. The delivery boy ran toward the ship as fast as he
could. He almost made it. The ship powered up and blasted out of the
hangar. It raced skyward and was gone.
immediately that Leela was beyond his help, so he returned to the
side of his fallen robot companion. The delivery boy held his
position as long as he could, but it would be just a matter of time
before he was surrounded and overwhelmed. It was just getting to the
point where Fry would be forced to retreat when a large shadow fell
across him. The Planet Express ship hurtled down out of the air and
landed not five feet away. Zoidberg and Amy jumped off the loading
elevator before it could reach the ground. “Quick Fry, help
roll the robut over here and lets get out of here!”, yelled the
lobster. Fry took a couple of last minute potshots and then helped
the alien and the intern roll the incapacitated Bender onto the
elevator. “Drive you idiot, drive!” the professor yelled
from somewhere deep in the bowels of the ship. Fry felt the
acceleration as the nimble craft launched skyward.
disk filled the view screen a short time later. Fry watched the orb
float slowly by from the couch on the bridge of the Planet Express
ship. Amy, Hermes, Professor Farnsworth, and Zoidberg were there with
him. The professor was busy punching away at buttons on one of the
Amy sat down
next to the delivery boy and took his hand. “Don’t worry
Fry. I’m sure the professor will find out where they went,”
assured the intern. Farnsworth’s voice broke in from behind the
couch to add: “You’re absolutely right Amy. All ships
leave a trail of charged particles in their wakes. All I have to do
is find the right trail, and we’ll know exactly where they’re
going.” Fry’s heart left the pit it had been resting in.
There was hope!
is it gonna take?”, Fry wanted to know. The professor’s
voice answered in a huff. “How should I know? What am I, some
kind of genius? Of course I am, who suggested otherwise?! Anyway,
It’ll take as long as it takes.”
Fry’s shoulders slumped, and he sank deeper into the couch. A
few moments of quiet passed until Fry’s slow mind realized that
his current situation didn’t quite make sense. He turned to Amy
and asked: “Hey, how did you guys get here anyway? I thought
the Planet Express ship’s engines got all broken in that space
wasn’t easy. Zoidberg and I managed to stop the timers on the
torpedoes before they blew up, but we were stuck floating in space
for awhile. Finally the vidphone started working again and I could
get through to the professor. He told me how to fix the engines when
I explained what happened.” “The secret was duct tape!”,
interrupted Zoidberg. “Shut up ya spineless crawdad and let ta
woman finish!” That was Hermes of course. “Anyway,”
the intern continued after shooting the lobster an irritated look, “I
didn’t have the right tools to fix up the ship all the way, but
I got the engines patched up enough to get us back to Earth. Some of
the cardboard in the dark matter reactor was so bent up that I…
well you probably don’t care about the technical stuff. Anyway,
the professor fixed up the ship all the way as soon as we got home.
We headed back out to rescue you as soon as we could.”
did you know where to look?”
looked up his home planet on mapquest. The professor picked up the
frequency of Leela’s wrist thingy when you three were in that
storage room you were talking about, and then again after you left
the bunker you were being held prisoner in. That’s how we found
you. If you’d been in the storage room a minute longer we could
have pinpointed your location a lot sooner.”
was it you guys that called Leela’s wrist thingy?”
broke in: “Yes. I had Amy call Leela when we first got to the
planet. That purple-haired ninny hung up on her before we could get a
fix on your location.”
kinda hiding from a bunch of guys with laser guns at the time”
that’s no excuse for rudeness,” huffed Farnsworth.
Fry ignored that
last remark. After all, the senile old scientist would probably
forget the whole conversation in ten minutes anyway.
The delivery boy
turned to address Amy again. “But that still doesn’t
explain why no one shot at you while you were flying over Ivan’s
base. Some alien guy told Leela that anything that Ivan didn’t
like would get blown up before it could even get close.”
Amy and Hermes
exchanged glances. They hadn’t come across any defenses of any
kind during their approach. “Umm, maybe the alien that told you
guys that didn’t know what he was talking about,” guessed
Amy. In reality, the Planet Express ship had been quite lucky. There
were scores of defenses hidden amongst the boulders surrounding the
base, but they all were manned by humans. Ivan, in his limitless
arrogance, had decreed that all of his men would watch the execution
of the Planet Express crew. Nobody shot at the approaching vessel
because there was no one monitoring the skies. Amy had managed to
destroy the power grid by the time Ivan’s men had manned the
defenses, so the compound had been entirely helpless.
Before Fry could
ask any more questions, the professor stood up. “Huzzah!”,
yelled the old man, raising his arms over his head.
Fry jumped up
off the couch to face Farnsworth. “What? Did you find
something?! Please say you found something!”
find out where Leela went?”
The old man scratched his head confusedly.
tried again. “Leela! Did you find out anything about what
happened to Leela?!”
right. Yes, I found out what happened to that purple-haired friend of
yours.” Farnsworth gestured for Fry to walk over to him and
look at the monitor that the scientist was standing over. “See
that line there?” A wrinkly finger traced out an arc on the
screen. The red head nodded ascent. “This represents the path
that Ivan’s ship took when it left orbit,” explained the
can go after her!” An expression of hope erupted on the
delivery boy’s face, but the professor didn’t respond
quite in the manner that Fry expected.
suppose it is technically possible, but we don’t have enough
spaceships to do that.
Now it was Fry’s
turn to be confused. “Huh? We have a spaceship right here. We
need more of them?”
only need one, but this one can’t go off looking for people
that got themselves kidnapped. First we have to rescue my precious
inventions.” Once I finish calibrating the lasers to fire
through the ceiling of that hanger you were blabbering about earlier,
we’re going right back down to the planet.”
completely forgotten about the doomsday devices. “But Leela…”,
about it mon. Leela is only one person. If da professor’s
doodads fall into da wrong hands, millions of people could die. Den
again, come da tink of it, dat many deaths would mean mountins of
paperwork. Sweet Hen of Lisbon, think of the requisitions! It would
be a bureaucrat’s heaven!” The Jamaican sighed. “But
no, as great as it would be, its not worth it.”
cant just desert her!”
worry,” Farnsworth assured, “We’ll look for Leela
when we get back the doomsday devices and they’re safely in
knows what will happen if we wait that long! Ivan might hurt her!
You can’t just abandon her like this!”
“I can do
whatever I want. This is my spaceship.” Farnsworth said this in
a tone to suggest that this was the end of the debate, but Fry was
far from finished.
By this point,
Fry’s face was contorted with rage. To his knowledge, he had
never in his life been so furious. How could they even consider doing
anything other than going after Leela? Fry needed to find someone
that would support him. Farnsworth and Hermes had already made their
opinions clear. Zoidberg’s support was meaningless. Bender
still lay mute and immobile in the cargo bay. That left Amy. “Amy,
you agree with me right?”
The intern was
still sitting on the couch near the bow of the ship. She had been
facing forward and gazing out the bow window while the argument was
going on, trying to sort out her own emotions on the matter. Many
people could die if somebody got the idea into his head to use the
professor’s weapons before the PE crew managed to save Leela.
Yet, to let Ivan get away with his captive could very well be a death
sentence. It was a hard choice. Amy found herself envying Hermes, who
solved any problem with simple economics. If they saved Leela,
millions of lives could be lost. Millions of lives are more valuable
than one, and that’s that. “If only it were that simple…”
Oh, yes Fry I’m listening.” No more time to ponder
morals. Fry needed an answer now. The intern turned around to face
the angered red head. “I’m sorry Fry, but Hermes is
Fry started to
protest, but a quick re-scan of his friends’ faces revealed
that the argument was a lost cause. “You guys would actually do
that to Leela? Just write her off, like she’s worth less than a
wad of used gum?! This is unbelievable!”
that’s not fair…” Amy tried to reason with the
enraged redhead, but Fry wasn’t having any of it. He stomped
off the bridge with a snort of disgust.
Some time later,
Amy found the delivery boy pacing back and forth in his tiny
bunkroom. Fry crossed his arms and glared at the woman. “What
do you want?”, he demanded. The intern sighed heavily. “The
professor’s finished modifying our laser to burn through the
storage hanger’s roof. We’re going to need to get
everything on board as fast as we can once we land. I was kinda
hoping you would help.”
on Fry’s face didn’t change for a long time but
eventually Fry was overwhelmed by the situation, and he sat down
heavily on his bunk with a sigh of defeat. “Alright, I’ll
help, but you promise me that we’ll go look for Leela as soon
as we can ok?” The intern’s face brightened, and she
nodded enthusiastically. “You bet,” she said
Once again the
Planet Express ship found itself over Ivan’s compound, but this
time the crew was not looking for a fight. Not a shot was fired as
the green rocket ship descended. The power was still out then.
Without any sensors up and running, no one from the base could see
Amy, being the
best pilot of the group, was at the controls. It only took a moment
to find what she was looking for. Two adjacent metal slabs marked the
hangar roof. The intern slid the ship gracefully into position, and
with a nod from the professor, gave Fry the ok to begin firing. The
ship’s laser went to work.
Minutes went by,
and nothing seemed to be happening. The professor muttered angrily
and fiddled with some controls, but still there was no effect. Amy
was just about to ask the professor if something was wrong, when
Farnsworth let out a loud ‘huzzah!’ of victory, and the
hangar door metal began to glow. It went from red to yellow, and then
white. Globules of liquid metal boiled into vapor, and the doors
began to sag. In a few moments the crack between the two doors was
wide enough to fly through. Amy gently nudged the ship into the
hangar bay below.
There was no one
in the hangar to meet them. Amy landed the ship in the center of the
room. The cargo elevator came down, and the entire PE crew bolted out
of the bowels of the ship. Well, almost all of the crew anyway.
Farnsworth’s maximum speed was more of a ‘shuffle’
than a ‘bolt’, and Bender still lay immobile in the
ship’s cargo bay. Every once in awhile the robot’s voice
would come back, and a string of curses aimed at his coworkers would
fill the room. The professor had not had time to fix him yet, and
Bender was furious for this schism between the robot’s
priorities and that of his fellows.
Hermes ran to barricade the door before anyone barged in on them. All
that could be done was to push a few heavy boxes in front of the
door. It would only be a temporary barrier, but it would hold for a
few minutes in an emergency. So far the PE crew had made very little
noise. It would be quite possible to get away without anyone ever
being aware of them.
Amy, Fry, and
the professor started to load the ship with the doomsday devices, and
Zoidberg and the Jamaican accountant came over to help once their job
was finished. Fry was trying desperately to concentrate on what he
was doing, but anger still seethed in him immediately below the
surface. He hated himself for not being able to help his captain. No
matter what logic he used, the whole situation smacked of just
leaving Leela to die.
The hover dolly
that Fry was pushing stopped with a jolt. The delivery boy’s
mind had been elsewhere, and he hadn’t been paying attention to
where he was going. Now the dolly was stuck in a narrow space between
two boxes. Grumbling to himself, Fry yanked at the obstinate dolly,
and it jarred loose. Fry looked around for an easy path back to the
Planet Express ship’s elevator, but his eyes found something
much better. He laughed, and started to run. “Why didn’t
I think of this earlier?”
Amy heard Fry’s
laugh and turned to look for him. He was standing a dozen paces away
with a wide grin on his face. As she watched, the delivery boy took
off running, jumping over and between the boxes that were in his way.
With a chill in her spine, the intern realized that Fry was headed
for the dart shaped fighter sitting in the corner. Amy saw Fry’s
plan in a flash, and sprang after him before he could implement it.
Unfortunately for the intern, Fry had too much of a head start. He
was already in the cockpit before she reached him.
wait! Don’t do this!”
“I have to
Amy. I cant just leave Leela like this. I… I love her.”
protests died in her throat as her mouth shut with a click. “Oh.”
was all she could manage to say. How could she possibly argue with
that? The intern took a long look at her red headed friend. Fry’s
face was the essence of determination. He was going, and there was no
way that she was going to dissuade him.
The other crew
members began to file up one by one, attracted by the shouting. A low
hum announced that the little ship’s engine was waking up.
“Great muskrat of Adirondack! Fry mon, wot do think your
doin?”, demanded Hermes.
going after Leela. The professor said we need another ship; Well I
found one, and nobody’s going to stop me.” Fry said this
as a statement of fact, beyond compromise.
you red headed dope,” yelled Farnsworth. “If you go off
by yourself, nobody will be able to help you when you screw up.”
you always assume I’m going to screw up?” No one bothered
to supply the obvious answer, but the professor moved in to interfere
with the angry redhead’s takeoff.
surprise, Amy stepped in front of Farnsworth to block his way. “Let
him go,” she said simply.
incredulous. “Are you mad woman? He’ll get himself
Amy started to
explain, but stopped. Explaining why she had changed her mind would
be pointless. The others would just dismiss what Fry had said to her
as irrelevant. The intern, however, could now see a depth to the
delivery boy that had not been there before. “Or has it always
been there, only I never bothered to look?”, she wondered.
Either way, she knew with conviction that the feelings playing across
her friend’s face were in no manner irrelevant. He would be
able to take care of himself, Amy was certain of it.
professor’s path blocked, and the others standing around
staring quizzically at Amy, Fry took his chance. The cockpit canopy
closed with a snick, ending any possibility of verbal debate. Fry
reached out and eased the throttle forward. A roar replaced the
engine’s low hum, causing Fry’s coworkers to hit the
deck. The little needle ship rose off the ground and pivoted 180
degrees, then floated forward into a shaft of sunlight. It reared
back to face the sky, and Fry pushed the throttle forward all the
way. A four dimensional sphere of warped space-time sprang into
existence behind the ship, and the silver dart leapt into the sky.
Amy stood up, and brushed herself off. She turned to look at the hole
in the ceiling that her friend had vanished into. “Good luck,”
Part 4: Hope
little ship was fast. Stars shot by the view screen at a fearsome
rate. The delivery boy watched them morosely from the tiny window
above his bunk. Stars had an almost hypnotic affect when they moved
across the sky, much the same way a campfire does. The little points
of light would pop into view as a glaring blue. As they moved astern,
they would gradually change color until they faded into infrared and
Fry’s eyes could no longer see them. It was relaxing really,
getting caught up in the endless pattern. Flash, violet, indigo,
blue, green, yellow, white, orange, red, gone. Over and over again…
Fry sat up with a start, banging his head into the ceiling for his
trouble. The delivery boy cursed whoever had designed this
spacecraft, which Fry had nicknamed the Minnow, for the 17th time
that day. A miserable little bunk, along with a toilet and a shower
that seemed no larger than a standard kitchen sink, was crammed into
a crevasse at the rear of the ship’s cockpit as if in an
The delivery boy
squirmed his way back into the pilot’s seat. It was time to
make sure he was on course again. A few pokes and twists of various
knobs and dials brought up the now familiar charged particle
detection screen. Fry had spent the last 24 hours doing little more
than stare blankly at this screen. It had been easy to find the
beginning of the trail that Ivan’s ship had left behind, since
Farnsworth had shown him where to look. The hard part had proven to
stay on the trail once he had found it. Ivan had flown a very
complicated path, ostensibly to shake off pursuit, and Fry had to
check the detector every few minutes to keep from wandering off the
screen showed that the ship had moved to the edge of the particle
trail. Fry pushed the stick downward and to the left. The stars
twirled slightly overhead, and the ship settled into its new course.
The redhead watched the screen for a few moments to make sure he
hadn’t over-corrected. Satisfied, he leaned back in his chair
and tried to stretch. There wasn’t nearly enough room to do so
experienced a maelstrom of different emotions since leaving Talora.
At first he had simply been angry. Well, actually that would be
incorrect. First he was terrified, and then he was angry. The
delivery boy had flown spaceships before, but nothing like the
high-powered, weapon encrusted, and incredibly agile Minnow. It was a
long, nerve wracking time before Fry was confident he could fly the
ship without accidentally killing himself.
When the terror
finally did wear off, it was quickly replaced with anger; anger at
himself, Leela, Ivan, Zoidberg, and basically the entire universe in
general. When that emotion had boiled away it had been replaced with
fear. “What if I find her, and its already too late?” he
thought to himself over and over again. Fry felt so helpless. Even
though he was racing to Leela’s rescue, he had no way of
helping her right at that moment, and the knowledge ate away at him
with a thousand tiny teeth. That train of thought led straight into a
well of depression, and he wallowed there until thoughts of his
beloved cyclops helped him climb back out again. Fry smiled when he
realized that Leela, albeit without her knowledge or actually having
physically done anything, was once again helping him overcome an
obstacle that threatened to overwhelm him. The delivery boy silently
resolved that he was going to save his captain, even if it was the
last thing he ever did.
he wondered aloud. That was the best thing about being so utterly
alone, he realized, no one could give you strange looks for having a
conversation with yourself.
Not for the
first time, Fry found himself envying the intelligence and wit of his
cyclops captain. “Leela would know what to do. Leela always
knows what to do.” Suddenly enraged, the delivery boy slammed
his fist into a bulkhead. “This isn’t fair! I should be
the one that Ivan captured, not her! How am I supposed to rescue
Leela when I can’t even think? All I’m good at is being a
true of course. Although Fry was indeed very good at being a hostage,
or anything else that required nothing more than taking up space,
there was also one other thing in which he excelled: being there when
his friends needed him most. Leela very rarely needed help of any
kind, but Fry could always be counted on to come to the rescue at
just the right moment. The delivery boy had saved Leela from a deadly
space bee at one point. He had jumped in front of his captain at the
last second and taken the stinger for her. The monstrous needle went
right through him and unloaded its poison into Leela anyway. The
cyclops spent 14 days in a coma, but ultimately survived because her
body did not have to deal with a horrendous physical wound in
addition to the poison. Fry never left her side for a moment, even
though the doctors said that Leela would never wake up.
A couple of
years before that, Fry had saved Leela from an unhappy marriage to
the shape-shifting conman Alkazar. The alien had preyed upon Leela’s
one weakness, a burning desire to discover her origins. He concocted
an elaborate ruse to convince Leela that he and the PE captain were
the last surviving members of a grand alien race. She had agreed to
marry him in order to keep this fictional species going. If Fry had
not risked his neck to uncover the truth, Leela would have been
destined for an eternity of unhappiness.Memories of these two
events flitted through the delivery boy’s mind. On both
occasions he had done exactly the right thing at exactly the right
time. He had not needed to think things through, and there had been
no time even if he had had the desire to. “Come to think of
it,” realized the red head, “if I had stopped to think
about what I was doing, I might not have done it. If I had taken a
moment to plan what I was going to do, Leela would have been stung
before I could get in front of her, and she’d be dead. If I had
stopped to wonder if it was right to spy on Alcazar, I might have
decided it wasn’t any of my business, and Leela would be
married to that jerk.”
it!” The realization came like a smack in the face. “The
only time I ever do anything right is when my heart tells me what to
do, not my head.”
the only chance I’m going to have of saving Leela is by
following what my heart tells me.”
Fry cleared his
mind and tried to ask himself what his heart was telling him to do.
Two answers popped into his consciousness. Step one: get to his
captain’s side at all costs. Step two: Rescue Leela, and god
help Ivan if he had dared to hurt her.
Leela awoke with
a start from a horrible nightmare. The cyclops half dragged herself
into a sitting position and opened her eye. Everything was black.
Leela put a hand up to her face and touched her eye to confirm that
yes, it was open. Wherever she was, the lights were out. Leela forced
the inherent phobia of the person with one eye out of her head. She
was not going to consider the other option, the one where she was
The PE captain
reached for her wristband with her left hand. It was gone. “Well,
I’m not getting any light that way,” she muttered. Now
wide awake, Leela slowly climbed to her feet. Her head didn’t
hit a ceiling. Extending her hands out in front of her, the cyclops
began walking. She came across a wall in a half dozen steps. What
followed was a bump-and-go exploration of what turned out to be a
small square room. Leela realized how ridiculous she must look with
her arms out, walking around pseudo-randomly like some sort of
confused zombie. Good thing Fry wasn’t around to see.
take long to explore every square inch of the compartment. Confident
that she had made a thorough search of the area, worked her way over
to a corner and sat down. The little room was empty save for a low
bench and what felt like a toilet. A couple of creases in the wall
might have been the outline of a door. The PE captain was in a prison
cell of some kind, probably in the brig of one of Ivan’s
The last thing
Leela remembered was running by the hanger back on Talora. She had
heard a crackling noise and a thud, and had turned around just in
time to see three things. One: Bender facedown in the dirt, immobile
or dead. Two: Fry facedown in the dirt, struggling to get his legs
out from under the heavy robot. Three: A scarred figure smiling
wickedly as it aimed a punch in her direction. She had not had enough
time to react.
Leela sat in the
corner staring into space for a long time while she mulled over the
events of the past week in her head. So many screw-ups.. “If
only I’d listened to Fry from the very beginning, this would
have never happened. Now I’ll probably never see him or anyone
else I care about ever again.” The cyclops remembered the
argument in the desert she had had with the delivery boy. She wanted
to apologize to him for being such a jerk, but now she wasn’t
going to get that chance. “He must hate me now” a cold
jolt of electricity shot up her spine as she completed the thought:
“if he’s still alive.”
A cool wetness
on her cheeks alerted the woman to the fact that she was crying. She
sat there for a moment, quietly sobbing to herself. At last, gaining
partial control over her emotions again, she looked up and wiped away
a tear. She began to speak aloud, as if someone was there to hear
her. “I’m so sorry Fry.”, she said. “I should
have done so many things differently. You’ve always been there
for me, and I just took you for granted. I never even got to tell you
how much I care about you, and now I might never get the chance.”
Leela had never felt so helpless. She had always been the one with
the means and ability to save the day, but now she was in desperate
need of someone to save her. It seemed certain that her two
best friends were either dead or captured, and no one was likely to
find her even if they came looking. “At least Amy made it out
ok,” muttered Leela. “I guess I didn’t manage to
get all of my friends killed.” Somehow the familiar feel
of sarcasm made life a little more bearable.
no delusions. The Planet Express crew’s first priority would be
the doomsday devices; the professor would insist on it. Even if
someone did come looking for her, it would be after Ivan had hidden
her away somewhere out of reach. “I might as well accept that
Ivan won. But why did he kidnap me? What could he possibly want?”
one hundred ninety two bottles of Slurm on the wall, Eight thousand
one hundred ninety two bottles of Slurm! Take one down, pass it
around, Eight thousand one hundred ninety one bottles of Slurm on the
wall!” Fry sang to himself to pass the time. A young main
sequence star accompanied by a light sprinkling of planets, floated
into the delivery boy’s field of view, and a light blinked on
the console ahead of him. The ship’s computer informed Fry that
the particle trail he had been following intersected the planet.. The
red head had found his destination.
Fry pushed the throttle forward as far as it would go. A tiny green
dot in the ship’s path blossomed until a bright disk filled the
viewscreen. Fry put his ship into orbit and checked the particle
detector. The trail ended in low orbit. “Well that doesn’t
make sense,” thought the redhead. “How could the trail
just stop like that?” As if on cue, the answer appeared from
beyond the planet’s limb.
on the bridge of his flagship, the Drakos, and admired the view of
the planet below. He had always particularly liked this world,
Gillegyn 5, for reasons he didn’t quite understand. As often
happened, the scarred man’s reverie was interrupted as soon as
it began. One of the bridge officers scurried over to his side,
urgency plastered all over her face.
asked the woman nervously.
Ivan gave her an
irritated look. He had been thinking deeply and was not in the mood
for interruptions. Not that he ever really was of course. “This
woman had better have a good reason for bothering me, for her sake”,
he thought to himself.
it Lieutenant Carter?”
we’ve detected a ship orbiting the planet with us. The
identification signal lists it as one of ours.”
thank you lieutenant.” Ivan dismissed her with a half-hearted
but sir, something doesn’t seem right, if you don’t mind
my saying so. We weren’t expecting any ships to meet us here,
and according to the identification signal… Well sir, the
incoming ship’s has been identified as your personal space
That got Ivan’s
attention. He whirled to face the officer on watch. “Lieutenant
commander Michaels, scan the incoming ship for weapons charge
Michaels pressed some buttons on his console. His eyes grew wide.
“Captain! I’m detecting multiple weapons active on that
ship! My guess is whoever’s flying that thing will be in range
in 30 seconds!”
Lieutenant Carter, sound battle stations! Raise shields and charge
weapons. Prepare to engage. Fire all batteries on my command!”
The lieutenant hurried away to carry out her orders. Red lights and
sirens came alive throughout the Drakos.
fighter can only hold one person, so whoever this is, he or she is
alone. Its probably that idiot redhead,” thought Ivan. “He
seems just the type to come galloping to the rescue by himself. It’s
a pity he didn’t bring all of his friends with him to be
exterminated at once, but no matter. The others will come when this
cretin doesn’t report back to them. Still, I was hoping for
more time to perfect my plan. Vaporizing my enemies in space is most
un-gratifying. On the other hand, being rid of him will be quite a
relief. I only wish that he could live long enough to see me torture
his beloved captain to death”
are you talking to?” An ensign stood a few feet away, eyeing
his captain quizzically.
“Shut up and fire!” , roared Ivan.
clearly see his adversary now. Its engines were just now finishing
their power-up. The reason the particle trail had ended a few hundred
miles from the planet surface was quite simple. The ship producing
the particles had shut off its engines so that it could enter a
stable orbit. Now the engines were being powered up again, probably
for an attack run.
It was not the
same ship that the delivery boy had seen Ivan escape Talora in. The
scarred fugitive had merely used his little shuttle to escape to a
nearby star system. Once there, he had docked with his flagship, The
Drakos, which had then led Fry on a cat and mouse chase across the
galaxy. The Drakos was bigger than anything Fry had yet seen in
Ivan’s arsenal. Much bigger. It still had the standard
stingray design, but on a scale that dwarfed Ivan’s other
ships. It measured over a quarter mile in length, and had a wingspan
of over half that long. There were at least a dozen decks. Even more
impressive was the armament. Fifteen laser canon opened fire on the
Minnow simultaneously. Six were mounted on turrets on each wing,
three above and three below, and the other three were positioned
under the bridge. Fry almost shouted “cool!” at the sight
of all those guns, until he remembered how very, very bad they
were for his health.
Fry had started
to charge his weapons as a precaution the moment the Drakos came into
view. He would only learn much later that the technology existed to
detect weapons preparing to fire, and that this had been how he had
announced his hostility to his unsuspecting foe.
The delivery boy
was now faced with two choices. He could stay and fight, or run away
with the proverbial tail between his legs. The first option would
almost certainly end in either The Minnow or The Drakos exploding in
a ball of nuclear fusion, killing either himself, or Leela if she was
being held prisoner onboard the other ship. There was no way in hell
that Fry was going to choose that option. The Minnow screeched into
a U-turn and kicked into high boost. Fry gritted his teeth as the
high gees pressed him hard against the seat.
scattered off of the aft shield. The rear facing radar showed Ivan
steadily gaining on the Minnow. Whatever fantastic engine propelled
the Minnow through space, there was an even better one on the Drakos.
Running would be impossible.
In what the red
head hoped was a daring and unexpected maneuver, Fry jammed the stick
upward and to port. The sky tilted overhead at an impossible rate,
and the surprised redhead was shoved deep into the side of his seat.
By the time Fry’s mind had registered just how agile his
spacecraft was, the Drakos was already in the field of view. This
time the sight of fifteen separate laser cannon firing in his
direction terrified the poor delivery boy, until he remembered his
mission. Somewhere on that ship was the woman he loved, and no amount
of firepower was going to deter him. That said, Fry reminded himself
that destroying the Drakos was not an option. He would have to figure
out to disable it… somehow.
A tone signaled
that the Minnow had attained weapons lock. Fry pressed the triggers
on his joystick. The result was fearsome.
A veritable wave
of death and destruction arced away from The Minnow. Railguns
clattered, lasers pulsed, and microwave emitters sent cracks and pops
reverberating through the hull. Although remarkably fast when flying
a straight course, Ivan’s ship could not alter its trajectory
very well once it got moving. The Drakos was meant for escaping from
the authorities, not for dogfights with nimble fighter craft. The
full force of Fry’s barrage struck the Drakos’ shields
before it could even start its turn. The enormous stingray was
momentarily hidden by an orange glow as the shields absorbed millions
of terajoules of energy. A moment later the Drakos came back into
view. It was entirely unscathed.
laser batteries returned fire. Fry pitched and rolled in an effort to
throw off his adversaries’ aim, all the while trying to set up
for another good shot. He didn’t have the chance. The two ships
closed at a breakneck pace. The Minnow hurtled under the left wing of
The Drakos, with only a hundred meters to spare.
Once again the
Minnow executed a 180 degree turn. Now Fry was in a position to fire
upon the Drakos’ engines, and possibly disable the vessel
without destroying it.
wing mounted laser turrets swiveled in place. They had been placed
above and below the wing so that they could face astern and address
the aft blind-spot problem that plagued the smaller stingray ships.
advantage of the few seconds that he had been given while the enemy
ship’s weapons tried to reacquire their lock on him. He opened
up with everything the Minnow had, but still it made no difference.
The shields kept absorbing everything that he dished out.
In a matter of
moments The Minnow was back in the sights of the Drakos’
gunners. Fry had to break off his attack and dodge. A few lucky shots
scored direct hits on the Minnow’s shields. A flashing message
on the ship’s HUD informed the redhead that his shields had
been cut to 73%. Fry gulped. “Those lasers pack a punch!”
fire was becoming too accurate. Fry had to throw off the gunners’
aim again somehow. A little light bulb clicked on in the delivery
boy’s normally slow brain. He pressed the throttle forward and
shot past his quarry in a matter of moments. He then waited a moment
and threw his ship into another turn, firing at his target as soon as
his weapons came to bear. Fry was no longer worried about destroying
the Drakos. The stingray’s shields were too damn strong to fail
all at once. The Minnow would have to pound the shields with
everything she had until they showed some sign of weakening.
throttle at maximum, Fry was now able to fly around his quarry faster
than its defenses could track him. Shot after shot impacted the
enemy’s shields. There was still no visible effect, but the
redhead knew that there was a limit to the amount of energy that any
shield could absorb. That shield would fail, even if it took all day.
enough is enough,” said a disgruntled cyclops, as the room
reeled around her.. Leela had stoically accepted being locked up in a
little room for hours on end, but this new business was just too
much. Until recently, her captivity had been relatively quiet. The
lights had gone on a few hours after Leela had first discovered that
she had been captured. They alternated off and on at regular
intervals to allow for some sleep time. Food appeared from a slot in
the wall every few hours. All in all she was being treated fairly
Then all of the
sudden a siren had gone off. The overhead light turned from
yellow-white to blood red. Leela could just barely make out voices
yelling on the other side of the cell wall. A few moments later these
sounds were accompanied by a dull roar and muffled thumps. Every once
in awhile the room would shudder violently, throwing Leela off
balance. It was pretty obvious that there was a battle of some kind
going on. “I wonder who Ivan is trying to kill this time?”
A hundred feet
away on the Drakos’ bridge, Ivan was also becoming very
idiots!”, he shouted at his gunners over the intercom, “Shoot
him down or I’ll throw each and every one of you out the
airlock, and replace you with someone competent!”
arms dealer paced his bridge. What he had once dismissed as a
harmless insect had turned out to have quite a stinger. The Drakos’
shields were at 82% and falling at a slow, but steady pace. If his
ship were to loose its shields, Ivan had no doubt that his private
fighter, in the hands of the infuriating redhead, would be able to
convert the Drakos quite effectively into its component atoms.
It had been
quite a surprise for Ivan to see the little needle ship turn to face
him. “I never thought for a moment that that kid would have the
guts to fight me without his captain around. What does he expect to
accomplish anyway? If he brings my shields down and destroys my ship,
he also kills Leela. If he somehow disables and disarms me, how does
he expect to rescue his captain? He wont make it very far if he tries
to board my ship by himself.” The scarred man toyed with the
idea of letting his own shields down just so he could have the
satisfaction of shooting Fry in the face as he came bounding out of
the airlock. “No, I cant risk it. Better to kill him now than
take the chance of faking shield collapse, only to end up blown to
bits when that fool gets trigger-happy and does something stupid.”
you talking to me?” The same ensign from earlier was once again
standing a few feet away with that quizzical look.
dammit! Now get back to your station!”
Ivan turned to
lieutenant Carter, who was busy rerouting power from non-critical
systems to the shields. A wise move. Almost any problem on a
spaceship could easily be remedied by rerouting power.
to fire missile tubes one through six on my mark.”
Carter gave a crisp salute and began fiercely pressing buttons at her
console. Ivan watched her work. “She is a fine officer,”
thought Ivan. “When this is over I will have to remember to
give her a promotion.”
A few moments
passed. Lieutenant Carter finished her frantic button pushing and
raised her eyes to look at her captain. Ivan gestured her to wait.
Fry’s ship buzzed about like some giant nuclear powered gnat.
“That’s it my spiky-haired chum,” muttered the
scarred man, “just a little farther to starboard and…”
Ivan brought his fist down on the arm of his captain’s chair.
“Mark!”, he roared.
carrying kryptonium warheads shot out of the Drakos’ missile
tubes. The timing had been excellent. One moment Fry had been flying
about practically unchallenged, and then the next half a dozen blips
had appeared on radar, closing rapidly from the stern. Instinct took
over before the delivery boy could process this new information. He
dodged and weaved for a good five seconds before the nature of these
new objects occurred to him.
A new wave of
adrenaline coursed through the delivery boy’s veins. He tried
every flying technique that Leela had taught him in an effort to get
away from the incoming warheads, but the missiles matched him
maneuver for maneuver. The strain on the Minnow’s hull sent
creaks and groans coursing through the little ship as it was pushed
to its limits. Fry prayed desperately to whatever god would listen
that his ship wouldn’t fly apart before he could rescue his
Instead of a
divine miracle, Fry found himself facing another problem. His erratic
evasive maneuvers had carried him away from the Drakos for long
enough that the laser turrets had locked on to him again. Now he had
to worry about the Minnow and the missiles being hit. If one of those
things was detonated by a stray shot it would be almost as bad as
being hit directly.
There was only
one thing left to do, a little trick that Leela had shown him during
a run in with the Tyranids of The Hive Planet. It was just a matter
of time before the missiles caught up to him. Fry sent his ship into
one last body-wrenching turn and pointed the Minnow’s bow
straight at the Drakos’ stern. He pressed down on the triggers
and sent one last, continuous wave of firepower crashing against the
Drakos’ shields. The delivery boy did not even attempt to dodge
the incoming fire. Fry needed every iota of engine power to propel
him forward. If a few shots splashed against his shields before he
reached the Drakos, well it wasn’t important. Fry doubted it
would much matter how strong his shields were when those warheads
take long for Ivan to figure out what Fry had planned. The gunners
were ordered to divert their fire from the incoming ship to the
missiles that followed behind. All twelve wing-lasers sent volley
after volley at the missiles that had just recently been an assurance
of victory, but it was pointless. The warheads were too small and
fast to hit save by sheer luck.
every muscle tensed. His entire body was drenched in sweat. The
Drakos was getting steadily closer. The missiles narrowed in from
behind. Lasers flashed by in all directions. Time slowed to a
veritable standstill. The missiles drew to within a kilometer. A
klaxon blared its warning of imminent collision. The Drakos’
hull came closer, closer. “Now!”, shouted every fiber of
Fry’s being. The delivery boy threw the engine into full
reverse and pulled up on the stick so hard that it felt like it would
snap. The Minnow turned slowly, so slowly. Six warheads vectored in
for the kill. Overhead, the Drakos’ hull closed to within 40
meters. 30. 25. Impact!. Everything disappeared in an orange glare.
The Minnow skipped off of the Drakos’ shields like a stone on
the surface of a pond. Six kryptonium warheads collided with the
shield half a moment later.
was pushed into his seat by a force the likes of which the delivery
boy had not imagined possible. Ivan’s shields absorbed most of
the energy from the explosion, but buckled before the warheads’
effects could be completely nullified. A much diminished, but still
dangerous, shockwave tore into the Drakos and the Minnow. The entire
tail section of the stingray, including the engines, split off from
the main body and spun away crazily.
Up became left.
Leela momentarily found herself airborne, until a nearby wall had a
chance to remind her that her species couldn’t fly. A new
vibration started to coarse through the deck, one much larger than
could be explained by the throb of any engine. It became impossible
for the cyclops to stand. Leela allowed herself to fall to the
ground. She curled into a ball with her head between her knees and
her hands on the back of her neck. If Ivan’s ship was doing
what she thought it was doing, it would be a good idea to be in the
most protective posture possible. The PE captain reminded herself
that it wasn’t an uncontrolled re-entry that would kill you, it
was the sudden stop at the end.
The delivery boy
fought to control his mortally injured craft, but there was no
response. The almost-forgotten planet loomed larger and larger. Soon
Fry could hear the whoosh of air as the Minnow entered the atmosphere
for one final flight. A red glow appeared around the falling ship,
soon building to a white-hot inferno. The ground was closing in. The
ship was still unresponsive. A calm, computerized voice began to
speak over the ship’s comm. “This is Mike, your personal
bail-out assistant. If you would like to eject, please pull the
handle located under the front of your seat. Thank you.” A
small red handle popped out from the deck. Fry lunged at it.
A loud ‘whoomp’
filled the cockpit as dozens of small explosive bolts went off
simultaneously throughout the Minnow. An airtight bulkhead slammed
shut just inches behind the pilot’s seat. Somewhere under Fry’s
feet a rocket fired, propelling the cockpit away from the doomed
Minnow. Drag fins deployed to slow the careening escape pod. Sensors
waited for the flames of re-entry to die down, and finally signaled
for the release of the parachute. There was a terrific jolt, and Fry
breathed a sigh of relief to see the ground approaching at a much
more reasonable rate. In the distance the delivery boy could see a
small explosion as his faithful Minnow found its final resting place.
Overhead and to the rear, an angry plume of smoke marked the re-entry
of a much larger vessel. Ivan’s ship had also succumbed to the
seductive pull of gravity.
The infuriatingly calm synthesized voice of Mike began speaking
again, “In case of a water landing, your seat cushion can be
used as a floatation device. Please keep your seatbelt fastened and
your tray table in the upright position until the vehicle comes to a
Part 5: Retribution
escape pod came to rest in the boughs of what looked remarkably like
a terrestrial oak. A hiss of air filled the cockpit, and the canopy
popped free. Mike, who had been cheerily instructing the poor
delivery boy on the escape pod’s safety features ever since the
Minnow’s cockpit had been jettisoned, informed Fry that the air
was breathable. “It has been a pleasure serving you, and we
hope to see you again. Thanks for choosing Ivanair.” Fry
scurried out of the craft as fast as he could, desperate to get away
from the maddening computerized voice.
It was a long
way down to solid ground. Fry spent a couple of tense minutes
climbing through foliage and shimmying down the trunk. About five
feet off the ground he lost his grip, and suddenly found himself
falling through the air. He landed on his ass. Fry stood up and
brushed himself off. A quick check of his body yielded no injuries.
“Like Leela always says, any landing you can walk away from is
a good one.” The redhead stretched his stiff muscles and took
one last look at the remains of the craft that had ferried him
halfway across the galaxy.
A few minutes
later Fry was running through the forest in, so he hoped, the
direction of Ivan’s crashed ship. A dense hardwood forest
blocked any good view of the sky, but Fry thought he could see a
plume of smoke through tiny gaps in the canopy. Before long, the
panting redhead came across a broad clearing. With the trees gone,
Fry could see a little more of the world he had been cast onto. A
range of small mountains, little more than glorified hills really,
reared their heads a few miles ahead. Two columns of smoke rose
skyward, a small one to Fry’s left, and a large one straight
ahead on the other side of the mountains. The smaller, and closer,
plume was probably from the Minnow. The other one could only be from
Ivan’s ship, or an unbelievably coincidental forest fire.
“Well, I’d better get going,” Fry exclaimed with a
cheerfulness that he didn’t feel. He started running again,
straight for the big smoke column.
wild forest is not an easy thing to do, especially when you’re
clumsy and out of shape. Fry was only able to run a half mile before
lack of stamina, coupled with nature’s tendency to place tree
limbs at the height of the human nose, forced him to slow to a walk.
To make matters worse, the sun started to go down six hours after the
crash. An exhausted, not to mention scratched and bruised, Fry
finally had to stop for the night when the darkness sent him
blundering straight into a mass of brambles. This particular planet
had no moon, and the starlight was feeble at best. There was no way
Fry was going to get to Ivan’s ship before he became hopelessly
lost in the dark.
This was the
first time that Fry had ever had to spend a night in the woods alone.
The closest thing he had ever come to roughing it was the trip
through the desert on Talora, and even then there were tents and hot
meals. “Ok, I can do this. All I have to do is remember what
they taught me in Webelos. First, make a shelter.” Fry could
just barely make out a couple of boulders that formed a tiny cave
between them. “Ok check. How about water?” A quick search
of the makeshift campsite yielded a face-plant in the dirt courteous
of a badly placed tree root, but no water. “Nope, no water.
Next up, food.” Fry looked around him. He couldn’t see
more than a dozen paces in any direction, and there was no way he was
going to go wandering away from his ‘shelter’. “Ooh!
I’ve got it!” The redhead reached down and picked up a
short stick. “It’ll be just like the old Webelos days,
before they kicked me out.” Fry put the hunk of wood in his
mouth and bit down. He chewed for a moment, grimaced, and spit the
stuff out. “Oh man, yuck! That’s not oak, its maple!”
.One cold and
lonely night later, the delivery boy emerged from between his two
boulders and yawned. Fry was cold, sore in places he didn’t
know existed, and ravishingly hungry. “Yep, that’s a
typical campout for ya,” thought Fry as he tried to stretch out
the kinks in his spine.
With the sun up,
Fry continued his hike. A bush covered in tiny spherical red berries
came into view after a few minutes. “Alright! Food!” The
starving redhead rushed over to stuff his face, but paused before he
could shove the tiny fruit into his mouth. “Wait, what was that
rhyme I used to know? Red berries fuel your cells, blue berries ring
funeral bells? Or was it, blue berries are good on bread, red ones
will kill you dead? Hmm…” Fry pondered for a moment,
then shrugged. “Oh well. Down the hatch!”
walking again. The ground became steeper and more treacherous. By the
time Fry reached the summit of the mountain, he was climbing on all
fours and wheezing loudly. A few feet from the top he took a moment
to catch his breath. Long experience told Fry that cresting a
mountain peak on an unknown planet nearly always resulted in a sight
that led to a collective gasp from everyone present. He knew that if
that happened now while he was out of breath, he would end up passed
out on the ground.
delivery boy was breathing a bit more easily he stood up and climbed
the last dozen or so feet. As expected, he gasped loudly.
Fry had had a
good idea as to what he would find below him. In the best case
scenario, Ivan’s ship would be badly damaged, at worst it would
be a smoldering crater. Reality was somewhere in between. The
stingray shape was completely gone now. The entire front quarter of
the ship had buckled in on itself like some gigantic aluminum can
crushed underfoot. Pieces of debris littered the ground all around
the crash site. One wing lay upside-down a quarter-mile away. An ugly
hole near the rear of what was left of the main ship still belched a
thin streamer of foul black smoke. Fry could just barely make out
people in brown uniforms running to and fro.
A sigh of relief
escaped from the redhead. People had survived the crash. That meant
there was hope that he could still rescue Leela.
ponytailed missile flung itself at the door for the hundredth time.
Leela’s kick connected squarely with the target. The door still
refused to give way. ”Ugh! I am so sick of this! I want out of
here dammit!” The frustrated PE captain gave up her futile
assault and paced her tiny room.
The crash had
been spectacular. Even though Leela hated him or her with a passion
at the moment, she couldn’t help but respect the skill of
whomever had been driving this godforsaken ship. Somehow the pilot
had used the aerodynamic properties of the vessel to create some
lift, preventing the spaceship from crashing into the ground at a
deadly speed. Still, when the impact had come it had been a doosy.
The ship’s bow crumpled in a fraction of a second. All
personnel that had not been able to heed Ivan’s order to
retreat into the center of the ship were crushed instantly. Leela had
been thrown about her cell like an action figure in a washing
machine. Luckily she had been in a protective body position, or
things would have gotten very ugly. Leela only wished that the toilet
had not been there with her. A layer of dirty water now coated every
surface of the room.
appeared an hour or so after the crash. What Leela had rightly
guessed was a door creaked open with a shower of sparks. The scarred
arms dealer walked into the room and pointed a very ugly weapon at
the cyclops. He was obviously not a very happy person at the moment.
Cuts and scrapes crisscrossed his face, there was a second degree
burn on his right hand, and a purple bruise across his face, neck,
and presumably chest, marked the precise instant when a restraint had
saved his life.
survived the crash did you? Alright then, you purple-haired
pain-in-the-ass, listen up. You’re red-headed friend has proven
to be a bigger problem than I gave him credit for. Luckily the little
trick he used to knock us out of the sky also did the same number on
him. If he managed to eject before the impact killed him, he’ll
most likely do the stupid thing and walk straight here.”
here?!” Leela was astonished, partly to hear that not only had
Fry survived, but also come to her rescue. Mostly however, she was
astonished that Ivan would have any reason to let her know. “Wait,
why are you telling me this?”
my dear. As soon as my scouts spot Fry, I’ll have you led out
into the open and tied to a tree. You’re a smart woman, you’d
have realized I was using you as bait, and who was being baited. This
way however, I got to see your expression when I told you that your
dear friend was still alive. That will make the expression you make
upon seeing Fry blown to bits so much more delectable. I told you
once before that you would watch your shipmates gunned down in front
of you. Unfortunately there was no time on Talora for me to carry out
my promise without ending up dead myself. That is why I dragged you
halfway across the galaxy, you see. Now I have another chance to get
my revenge. I was hoping that your whole crew would be involved, but
Fry will have to do.”
Ivan laughed and
walked out of the room. The door closed behind him with a creak.
Ever since Ivan
had left Leela had been trying to escape. She knew full well that her
slow-minded friend would fall for Ivan’s trick, and she had to
escape before the trap could be set. “If it wasn’t for
this damned invincible door…”
As if on queue,
the door creaked open again. Two burly men swaggered in armed to the
teeth. Leela was still in midair when thug one raised a weapon and
shot her square in the neck. A tiny dart injected its toxic cargo
into her bloodstream. The PE captain’s suddenly unresponsive
body collided with her target.
Thug One spent
the next several seconds cursing as he tried to extricate himself
from his assailant. Thug Two just stood there and laughed at his
companion, not even attempting to help. When Thug One could finally
stand again, he walked over to the limp woman and gave her a savage
kick in the side. Dignity restored, he nodded to his still-chuckling
buddy. Thug Two bent down and grabbed the fallen woman around the
waist. He tossed her over his shoulder and followed Thug One out the
A short distance
away, Fry lay concealed behind a large boulder. So far, he didn’t
think he had been spotted. No one was shooting at him anyway, which
was a pleasant change of pace. Still, he couldn’t get any
closer without blowing his cover.
Fry spent a few
minutes trying to figure out what to do next. If he went barging in
there right now he’d just end up shot. “What would Leela
do?”, Fry wondered. “If she was here she’d come up
with some perfect plan that would save the day.” Of course, if
Leela were there with him then the whole situation would be moot.
“Maybe if I wait until after dark I can sneak in before anyone
sees me. Then I just have to search a gigantic crashed ship that I’ve
never seen before for a person that’s probably being held under
boy’s thoughts trailed off as he became aware of what, or more
accurately who, was being led out of the wrecked spacecraft. It was
As the ecstatic
redhead watched, two of Ivan’s men tied the cyclops to a tree,
and then proceeded to turn around and re-enter the ship. Every other
crewmember that was at the crash site followed them in to the smoking
hulk a minute later.
Ivan had been
accurate in his prediction of Fry’s response. The delivery boy
leaped out of his hiding place without even a second thought and ran
pell-mell down the mountainside toward his drugged captain. He made
it almost halfway there before laser blasts drove him back into
cover. At first Fry assumed he had been spotted, but another blast
never came near him. Instead, a volley of laser fire pelted the crash
site. It continued for a few seconds, and then ceased abruptly. When
the dust cleared Fry was relieved to see that no stray shot had come
close to Leela’s tree.
A moment later a
familiar ship descended from above. The hovering vessel was a bright
white, with two engines on fins at the bottom and docking stations on
small arms on either side. A large white and black grate gave the
impression of a ridiculous grin across the bow. Bold black letters
painted on the ship’s flanks proclaimed its name: Nimbus.
Fry groaned. “Oh
Geez. Not here. Not now. Please god, not…”
A loud booming
voice rolled out from under the ship’s belly. “Hello-a.
My name is Zapp Brannigan, captain of the DOOP ship Nimbus. You are
all under arrest for violation of B-10.8-1, Brannigan’s law.
You are trespassing on a forbidden world-a. If you don’t leave
this planet immediately, I will have to put you under arrest. You
have 15 seconds before I open fire. “Umm sir?”, enquired
a weak voice. Lieutenant Kif Kroker addressed his captain aboard the
Nimbus. Unbeknownst to either DOOP officer, Zapp had accidentally
turned up the gain on his loudspeaker, thereby transmitting their
conversation to everyone within a five mile radius.
it Kif, old friend?”
you going to arrest them if you blast them into vapor?”
glad you asked. See, life is like a box of chocolates, you can’t
count your chickens before they hatch.”
absolutely no sense whatsoever.”
Brannigan put on
a mysterious air. “Didn’t it? Or did it make all the
sense in the world?”
Kif just sighed
returned to Leela just in time to see one of Ivan’s men throw
the still-limp cyclops over his shoulder and hurry back toward the
relative safety of his ship. Brannigan was too busy proving his
stupidity in front of his first officer to notice what was going on.
The delivery boy jumped up and once again started running, but it was
too late. Leela’s purple hair disappeared behind a closing
hatch before Fry was close enough to do anything.
Before Fry had a
chance to decide what to do next, Zapp made the decision for him.
“You there, with the red hair,” boomed Brannigan’s
disembodied voice, “the penalty for standing on the planet’s
surface is death-a. You have damaged Gillegyn’s fragile
ecosystem with your very presence. Now I will execute you in the most
nature-friendly manner imaginable-a: with my main laser cannon!”
On the bridge of the nimbus, Kif Kroker let out another patent sigh.
A yellow line of
death chased Fry, who screamed all the while, to the shelter of some
obscuring trees. The redhead dove to the side a split second before
the laser could turn him into cooked hamburger.
the rest of you have fifteen seconds to leave the planet, starting
now.” There was silence for exactly the amount of time Zapp had
specified. “Very well. Since you refuse to leave, you give me
no other option but to send wave after wave of my own men at you.”
“But sir,” Kif broke in, “wasn’t the plan to
use the lasers?” “Why, yes it was-a, but I like this new
plan a lot better.”
next was a sight familiar to Fry, who had once been pressed into
service under the command of the intolerable Brannigan. Zapp was fond
of the element of surprise, only he had gotten the meaning of the
phrase confused somehow. The giant Nimbus descended to hover eight
feet off the ground in a small clearing devoid of rubble, about three
hundred yards from the crash site. Giant doors flew open on the
bottom of the white ship, sending fifty or so unsuspecting troops
falling onto the battlefield. The Nimbus then proceeded to fly away
from the battle, ostensibly to watch from the safety of orbit.
The fifty DOOP
soldiers wasted no time getting ready. They broke up into five
separate squads and dashed for whatever cover they could find. At the
same time, the remains of the Drakos began to swarm with defenders. A
lucky shot from one of Ivan’s men caught a DOOP soldier in the
side moments before the man reached safety behind a piece of
picked up in intensity very quickly. The DOOP soldiers, although
slightly more numerous, were also slightly outgunned. Evidently some
of Ivan’s private weapons stash had survived re-entry. Whatever
the case, this fight was showing signs of being a real meat-grinder.
Fry was now in a very serious situation. Between him and the ship was
a small army of men that wouldn’t think twice before shooting
him. Meanwhile, another small army that wouldn’t think twice
before shooting him was slowly, but steadily, closing in. If he
didn’t do something soon, he could easily end up caught in the
crossfire. Then again, if he tried to stand up and leave the cover of
the low bushes he was crouching in, the delivery boy would be cut
down before he could take two steps. One of Ivan’s people
walked within a few feet of the delivery boy’s hiding place.
The woman caught sight of Fry and leveled her rifle, but was picked
off by a DOOP soldier before she could shoot. Fry trembled for a few
moments at this latest close call. When the soldier had moved off,
Fry scrambled out of his shelter and picked up the woman’s
small pistol, which had fallen from her hand. He made it back to his
bushes before anyone spotted him. “Now if someone wants to
shoot me, at least I can shoot back,” muttered Fry darkly
passed. Things exploded and vaporized all around the poor delivery
boy until so little cover remained that Fry was forced to leave his
hiding spot. What followed was a blur of motion and raw instinct. Fry
ran forward, ducking just in time to avoid a projectile of some kind.
Men in green DOOP uniforms approached from the rear, zapping away
with their charged positron shooters. The delivery boy knew he
couldn’t shoot the soldiers. After all they were the good guys,
well under normal circumstances anyway. Fry altered course and took
off toward the only cover that was nearby, the tortured ruin of the
The DOOP was
gaining ground. Only a few men remained to defend the exterior of the
ship. They fell one by one as Fry ran. Only two defenders were left,
standing at the ship’s closed airlock. Fry shot at them wildly
as he ran toward a spot downhull. The two men were forced to take
shelter behind a makeshift, waist-high barricade that was propped up
in front of them.
Once at the
ship, Fry threw himself behind a giant twisted hunk of metal that lay
propped up against the Drakos’ outer skin. The two men that had
been chasing Fry broke off their pursuit to engage the men standing
at the airlock. Both DOOP soldiers were promptly cut down. Fry tried
to line up a shot on the two defenders, who were less than twenty
paces away, but the attempt was soon proven unnecessary. A compact
sphere of antimatter screamed through the air and smashed into the
airlock door. An intense flash of gamma ray nullification advertised
the destruction of not only the airlock, but the two men that had
been guarding it.
This was the
chance that Fry had been hoping for. Before whatever shred of logic
that he had could instruct him otherwise, the delivery boy bolted
from his hiding place and made a dash for the still-smoking hole in
the ship’s hull. DOOP weapons fire buried itself in the ground
and hull in an attempt to wipe Fry from existence, but failed. The
remaining soldiers were too far away to get a bead on him with small
arms, and antimatter cannons took far too long to reload. Fry made it
into the ship with relative ease.
The interior of
the Drakos was in a much better state than the outside. Bits of
miscellaneous rubble lay strewn hither and thither and the deck was
tilted at a slight angle, but most of the craft was more or less
intact. The only signs of the ongoing disaster were the flashing
emergency lights and the acrid smell of smoke mixed with fear and
Fry had expected
an unfriendly welcoming committee, but saw no signs of human life. He
supposed that whoever had been guarding the inside of the airlock had
succumbed to the same fate as their two comrades on the outside. It
would not be long, however, before this hallway became a raging
A small hatch
drew the redhead’s attention. The words “service tunnels”
were emblazoned on the hatch’s surface in red letters. Fry gave
it an experimental tug; it opened. Footfalls could now be heard
racing toward the compromised airlock. Outside the ship, voices could
be heard giving orders. Fry tucked his pistol into the inside pocket
of his tattered jacket, grabbed a pipe above the hatch, and used it
to swing himself feet-first through the hatch and into the space
beyond. Landing with an “Ow!”, the delivery boy reached
behind him and pulled the hatch closed, moments before Ivan’s
reinforcements ran into the corridor.
A long, dimly
lit crawlspace swung into view when Fry finally managed to get
himself turned around. Many colored stripes were painted on the
floor. Next to each stripe was painted a location in that stripe’s
color. Amidst the tangled rainbow was an orange stripe, marked
‘Brig’. “That’s probably where Leela will
be,” reasoned Fry. “If I use these tunnels, I’ll be
able to stay out of the fighting. Maybe I’ll even be able to
surprise the people who are guarding Leela.”
was a slow, uncomfortable trek through the guts of Ivan’s ship.
It seemed like an eternity before Fry found himself at his
destination. The tunnel that Fry had been using ended in a hatch
identical to the one he had used earlier. Fry put an ear up to the
cold metal surface to listen for the sounds of someone on the other
side. Everything seemed quiet. “I guess the coast is clear,”
muttered the delivery boy as he cautiously opened the hatch. Before
the hatch was even halfway open it was torn from his grasp. Half a
moment later Fry found himself faced with the familiar sight of a
laser rifle being leveled at his head.
“I’m boned,” sighed the poor redhead.
found himself in a small square room. On one side of the compartment
was a closed hatch, while the opposite end was open to an adjacent
corridor. Standing in the middle of the room was a tall human male
with a dark scar. Fry had finally come face to face with the man he
had chased all the way from Talora. Unfortunately, the crewman that
had captured him had been smart enough to search him for concealed
weapons. Fry’s pistol had been quickly confiscated.
redheaded friend, what brings you way out here to Gillegyn Five?”,
asked the scarred lunatic.
Fry fumbled for
a believable excuse. “Umm, well see, the thing is, I was on
this three hour tour right? And, well anyway, my ship, The Minnow,
got caught up in a solar storm…”
I know why you’re here, and I know it was you in the ship that
attacked me. I must say I applaud you for getting this far all by
yourself. Leela told me herself that she thought you were too stupid
to do anything on your own.”
doesn’t! And anyway, Leela wouldn’t say that. She’s
hard on me sometimes, but she’s too good a friend to say things
like that without me present.”
maybe so, but the fact remains that you still failed miserably in the
end. Lieutenant Carter? Bring in the woman”.
A tired and
bruised, yet still fiercely uncooperative, purple-haired cyclops was
half dragged into the compartment from her cell two doors down. The
neuro-repressor had worn off soon after Leela had been locked back up
in her tiny prison. The guards had had the foresight to leave the
hand and ankle cuffs on her. The furious woman emitted a continuous
string of curses, many of which Fry would have to look up later,
before she finally caught sight of her attempted-rescuer.
goofy grin was met with a look of joy mixed with disbelief. “Fry?
Is that really you? They told me that Zapp killed you.”
Leela, it’s really me! Zapp Brannigan is no match for my
boundless wit.” Several of the nearby guards couldn’t
repress a collective snicker.
you have no idea how good it is to see your face right now,”
Fry’s grin broadened.
you two, that’s enough catching up. I have precious little time
before The DOOP breaks through my defenses and I have to get to my
shuttle. I intend to use every last moment evening out the score.”
Ivan’s face gained a sinister quality. “You, crewman!
Drag Leela over there.” Ivan gestured to a spot on the side of
the room opposite Fry. “This time, I am doing this the short
and easy way. No more slipups. No more just-in-the-knick-of-time
rescues. This time I will have my revenge. You won’t distract
me into giving longwinded monologues about my superior cunning, for
my superior cunning will spot any attempt by you to stall for time.
You will not make a mockery of me, daring to defy me by continuing to
live. Yes, I will enjoy this execution more than any I have carried
out in a long time. In all my life, I have never come across a pair
of individuals that have caused me more trouble. Even the DOOP never
came close to loosing me a prized shipment and destroying my
flagship. Now I’m bankrupt, and possibly cornered, because of
your tiresome meddling.” An ensign checked his watch. “And
Laser fire broke
out all around. Several DOOP soldiers had heard a loud ranting voice
down a corridor and zeroed in on its location. Fry hit the deck
immediately, and was soon followed by Leela when the guards who had
been supporting her were each shot in the chest.
Carter and the one remaining guard returned fire, killing two of the
three soldiers. A positron beam hit the lieutenant directly in the
chest. Carter screamed and fell to the ground, sending her laser
pistol skittering across the room in the process. The remaining DOOP
soldier blasted the legs out from under Ivan’s sole remaining
man. Ivan shot the soldier in the head a fraction of a second later.
no! This is not going to happen again!” The scarred madman
stomped over to Fry, who was still laying face-up on the deck. “Fry,
you die now.” Ivan raised his weapon. Leela screamed.
Ivan pulled the trigger. Fry kicked him in the shin. HARD.
The kick threw
off Ivan’s aim. The shot went wide, missing the delivery boy by
mere inches. Fry rolled out of the way just in time to dodge the
follow up shot. Suddenly there was something cold and metallic
pressed up against his right hand. Fry rolled again and brought
Carter’s discarded laser pistol to bear. Ivan’s eyes grew
“I’ve always wanted to say this. “Hasta la vista,
baby!” “Why, you little son of a bi…”
Ivan never got a
chance to finish his sentence. A white-hot ball of plasma struck him
in the chest, and kept on going. The lifeless body fell to the ground
with a wet smack.
did it! I saved the day! Take that Ivan, you creepy jerk!” Fry
jumped around the room, firing wildly in celebration. Various wall
fixtures, light sources, and pieces of equipment vaporized
Listen to me!” Leela glared up at her rescuer after a random
shot singed the end of her ponytail. “First of all, stop
blasting everything in sight. I really don’t feel like dying at
the moment. Second, find the keys to these damned handcuffs before
someone else shows up and decides to mop the floor with us.”
sheepishly and lowered the pistol. “Uhh, yeah, sure thing
Leela.”The keys to Leela’s restraints were hidden
deep in one of Ivan’s trouser pockets. It was a good thing that
the plas-pistol had hit him in the chest rather than in his waist, or
there might have been no key for the delivery boy to find. Still, it
was a gruesome business rummaging around in a corpse’s pockets,
especially when said pockets were soggy with blood. Fry was more than
a little relieved when Leela’s restraints were off and he could
throw the gory key away.
experimented with standing up. The cuffs had cut off a lot of her
circulation, and the cyclops was annoyed to discover that both of her
legs were half asleep. She almost stumbled once before she got
control of herself, but she prevented her body from betraying its
temporary weakness through sheer will. It was already intolerable
enough that Fry had been the one to rescue her, rather than the other
way around. There was no way in hell that she was going to play the
helpless damsel in distress anymore. Now that she was back in action,
it was time that she take charge again.
now Leela?” Fry had come to the same conclusion as his captain.
He knew full well that he was no hero. Sure, he’d gotten lucky
a bunch of times and managed to save Leela’s ass for once, but
Leela was the born leader, not he. It would be best to let her be the
one to make the decisions from now on.
Leela, who was
leaning against the wall but hiding it by pretending to use it as
cover to look around the corner into the corridor beyond, turned to
her friend and gave him a warm smile. She had known Fry long enough
to be familiar with his thought process. In his own way he had just
told her that he still had confidence in her, even after seeing her
cuffed and helpless on the floor. She realized that being weak in his
eyes would be something she couldn’t deal with. She would feel
as though she had failed him.
replenished, Leela pushed these thoughts out of her head for the
moment. “Hmm…” The cyclops crossed her arms and
tried to think. Presently she said: “I’ve been
unconscious or locked up in a room by myself for awhile, so I don’t
really know what’s going on. The DOOP is here evidently…”
Leela glanced over at one of the fallen soldiers, then froze as the
ramifications sank in. “Oh god, please don’t tell me that
The delivery boy
grimaced. Leela and Zapp were not exactly the best of friends,
although the moronic captain of the Nimbus had not as yet caught on
to this fact. “Yeah, Zapp’s here.” Before Leela
could groan accordingly, Fry added: “but he doesn’t know
I’m here, or well, he knows some guy with red hair is here
because he tried to fry me with that giant laser thing on his ship,
but he didn’t get close enough to see who I was. That means he
doesn’t know you’re here either!’
god! I don’t know if I could restrain myself if I had to deal
with that windbag right now.”
shouldn’t we let the DOOP guys know we’re here? I didn’t
before because I didn’t want to take up a lot of time
explaining things to Zapp Brannigan while Ivan was deciding to kill
you, but now...” Fry shrugged.
There was a
noise. Leela jumped behind some equipment in a corner, dragging Fry
after her. Footsteps and coarse language approached from down the
hall, followed by the two men that they belonged to. Two hours later
the soldiers would wake up in the Nimbus brig to powerful headaches
and no recollection as to what had happened.
her boot from her target’s face, stood up, and brushed herself
off. “What were you saying Fry? Oh right, the DOOP. No, lets
not let them know we’re here unless we have to. This mission is
already a candidate for the biggest fiasco of my adult life, let’s
not seal the deal by getting Zapp involved ok?”
Fry nodded his
Ivan say something about a shuttle?”, continued Leela. “We
can use that to get out of here.”
Getting to the
shuttle bay was much harder than it had any right to be. It was in a
part of the ship that had not faired well during the crash landing.
The tormented ship’s support structure had been compromised to
the extent that many corridors and compartments, as well as all of
the servicing tunnels in the area, were inaccessible. To make matters
worse, a full scale boarding action was going on all over the ship.
Damage from high explosives was evident everywhere. Fry and Leela
spent many tense minutes trying to find a path through the rubble,
stopping every once in awhile to duck out of the way of the
occasional DOOP patrol. The DOOP was mopping up the last of the
resistance, which was making its last stand several decks away. Leela
knew that she needed to get to the shuttle bay before Ivan’s
men were completely overrun. Once the DOOP soldiers ran out of people
to shoot, they would start to comb the ship for survivors. If they
came across Fry and herself, they would either shoot first and ask
questions later or send them off to the Nimbus’ brig to deal
with Brannigan. She hoped they chose option one.
Leela was just
about frustrated enough to give up and take her chances with Zapp
when Fry disappeared from sight with a cry. He had been walking
across a fallen beam that bridged a hole in the deck when he lost his
balance. Soon he was lying on his ass, smiling up at an annoyed
cyclops from the deck below.
OW!” A few pieces of loose rubble rained down on him from
above. “Yeah, I think so.”
down into the hole and surveyed the surroundings. They were in a
compartment of some kind, though it was too damaged for its identity
to be discerned. One thing did gain Leela’s attention however.
Landing gear and part of an undercarriage were silhouetted behind
gaps in a partially collapsed bulkhead.
It was just a
short run to the shuttle’s airlock. “My god,”
thought Leela, “we’re actually going to make it out of
here without getting cau…”
there! Stop running and put your hands up-a!”
Why do I never learn?” Fry and Leela stopped in their tracks.
Leela did as the voice demanded, but hesitated to turn around. “Maybe
if I don’t look, he’ll just go away.” Not likely.
A moment later a
large male hand appeared on Leela’s right shoulder.
what have we here? Trying to escape, like rats from a burning wig?
Not while I, Zapp Brannigan am in charge!” Zapp took a step
back to look over his captives. From the rear they both seemed
somehow… familiar. He addressed the one with the purple hair.
“Say, you wouldn’t happen to be related to…”
The PE captain turned around to face him. A fire capable of igniting
a small star was burning in her eye.
Zapp was stunned. “No, it can’t be.” Zapp crossed
his arms and narrowed his eyes before addressing the woman again.
“What are you, some kind of Leela android? Who are you working
for?! What is your purpose!? What have you done with my buxxomy
A sigh emanated
from somewhere in the shadows behind Zapp. Kif Kroker’s green
form coalesced out of the darkness and walked up to his captain’s
side. “I’m sorry that we startled you captain Leela.”
Kif acknowledged Fry’s presence with a nod. “But, what
are you doing here? This is a forbidden planet, and we didn’t
see your ship.”
a very long story Kif, and I really don’t want to go into it
right now. Let’s just say we didn’t want to be here, and
in a couple of minutes we weren’t going to be here anymore. I
was really looking forward to that second part. Please, this has been
an awful week, can’t you just let us go?”
Leela, I don’t know. I guess we could let it go this time but…”
Zapp butted in
before his lieutenant could continue. “No! Interfering with
undeveloped worlds is a violation of Brannigan’s Law, which I
am sworn to protect! Since Kif and I both saw you here, I’m
afraid that I will have to put the both of you under arrest-a.”
A devious look
came into Leela’s face. “But you never saw us here,”
Leela continued under her breath, “or at least that’s
what you’ll think in a minute.”
Kif saw the
change in the cyclops’ stance and decided he would simply
forget the next ten seconds.
I’m afraid we did see you here, right Ki..?” A black boot
collided with Zapp’s face, the only feminine touch the man’s
mouth had seen in years. The DOOP captain practically melted under
the blow, transforming into a veritable puddle of velour goo and
sliding to the deck. Leela kept kicking him. There was a lot of rage
to work out, and she had learned through long practice that there was
no better way to dissipate excess rage than by damaging Zapp’s
body. It had somehow become… therapeutic.
had to pull his captain away. He enjoyed seeing Zapp get his ass
kicked as much as the next guy, but they still had escaping to do.
When Leela regained her composure she turned to Kif. The lieutenant
was staring off into a corner. He turned to face her when he noticed
worry captain Leela, I’ll tell the jackass he slipped and fell
or something.” He looked down at the limp form of his superior
officer. There was no readable expression on his face, but both Fry
and Leela knew that seeing Zapp unconscious on the floor was the
highlight of the lieutenant’s day.
Fry had a
question that had been bugging him during this whole conversation.
“Hey man, wait up. Why were you and Zapp here anyway? I mean, I
saw your ship fly away from here when I was outside.”
“Zapp came back down here to claim credit for the battle as
soon as it was obvious that we were winning. He was hiding down here
in the deserted hangar to wait for the shooting to stop. He was
sitting in the corner shaking when we heard voices in the next room,
and then we saw you two.”
A couple of
voices began to echo down a nearby corridor. Kif gestured for his two
friends to get moving. “You’d better go before someone
else sees you.”
“Yeah, we wouldn’t want Leela beating the crap out of any
more of your crew.”
Leela rolled her
Kif we’ll get out of here. Thanks for the help!” Leela
gave the squishy alien a quick hug. She and Fry turned and ran.
I said hi!”, Kif called meekly after them.
Soon Fry and
Leela were onboard their getaway ship. Leela slid into the pilot’s
seat while Fry stood nervously behind her. This ship was a bit bigger
than the Minnow, but there was still only one seat. Fry silently
prayed to whoever would listen that Leela didn’t have to put
the shuttle through any aerobatics. He’d been banged around
Leela powered up the ship and pointed its nose toward the hangar
door. Sitting around waiting for the door to open was a bad idea,
since it would give anyone on the other side ample opportunity to
blow the crap out of them before they could take off. Luckily there
was another way. Leela moved the joystick in a clockwise rotation and
fired one of the ship’s many lasers. Before Fry could ask what
she was doing, Leela jammed the throttle forward, sending the shuttle
crashing through the metal cutout she had just made, and a screaming
Fry hurtling backward through the length of the ship into the rear
bulkhead. A few wild bolts of small arms fire were all that
challenged the little ship as it arced away into the sky.
Part 6: Homeward Bound
Leela called the
professor as soon as they broke orbit. There were no signs of guilt
on his face. Either Farnsworth did not feel regret for abandoning her
to whatever fate Ivan had planned, or he simply didn’t remember
anything that had happened. It quickly became apparent that it was
the second case.
he enquired upon accepting the call. “Who is this?”
It’s Leela! It’s so good to see you again!”
There you are! We’ve been looking all over for you! Why aren’t
you at work today? There’s a package that need’s
delivering to the politically correct people of Liberalis 12!”
Fry, who had
been listening to the conversation from the rear of the ship, got up
and moved to a position right behind Leela. If he cocked his head
just right he could get it in the vidphone’s field of view.
he began, “Leela was kidnapped by Ivan, and I went to rescue
her. That was a few days ago now…”
Ivan. That guy that stole all of your doomsday devices and tried to
blow up your spaceship?”
be silly Fry. All of my doomsday devices are all perfectly safe. Why,
I was tinkering with the quantum matter wave disruptor just this
morning. Nothing wakes up the mad genius like the smell of tachyons
decaying in the morning, oh my yes…”
By this point
Farnsworth had become lost in musings of diabolical machines of death
and destruction. He wandered off camera before Fry or Leela had a
chance to regain his attention. Leela had just enough time to grumble
something about senile old men and start to hang up, when Amy
happened upon the scene.
professor, I think you left the vidphone on again!,” she yelled
from off screen. “Hmm, I wonder who he was talking t-“
She realized who was on the other end of the line. “Oh my gosh!
Fry! Leela! You’re ok?! We were so worried about you!”
god it’s good to see you again. Yeah, Fry and I are fine. Fry
managed to rescue me from Ivan.”
about that Leela. The professor wouldn’t let us come after you…
We wanted to, really we did, but by the time we had loaded up all of
the professor’s things there wasn’t a trail to follow
anymore. I’m really sorry.”
Leela smiled to
diffuse her friend’s tension. “It’s ok Amy, I
understand. The professor did the right thing anyway. Those weapons
could have killed millions of people, there wasn’t any other
thing you could have done.”
Amy was visibly
relieved. She had been worried that Leela would hate her forever.
“So, where are you now?”
in a shuttle headed for home. We’ll be back at Planet Express
in a day or so.” Damn it felt good to say that…
Do you need us to come out and meet you half way? It looks really
cramped in there.”
Fry and Leela
looked at each other, and then looked over their shoulders in unison.
It would be a cramped 24 hours. The two companions turned back
to the vidphone. “No, its alright,” responded Leela. “Fry
and I can handle it.”
if you say so. Umm, anyway, what happened to Ivan?” Amy was
almost certain she knew the answer, but she needed someone to tell
her for certain.
dead Amy. Fry…”
“I blasted him! I was all like, rolling around on the floor and
found this gun and I was like ‘hasta la vista baby!’ and
he was all like kapow! Zap! Squish!” Fry’s speech
disintegrated into a series of weird noises and bodily motions as he
tried to explain what had happened. He finally hit his head on an
extruding pipe and fell silent for a moment, finally retreating
toward the stern with embarrassment.
Amy laughed. It
was such a relief to see her two friends safe and acting like their
normal selves; Leela frosty and pretending to be as tough as granite,
Fry as composed as a six year old that had just been told he was
going to Luna Park for the weekend.
bothered Leela. “Amy, did the professor ever get his devices
back?” Farnsworth had just told her that yes, his devices were
safe, but that could just be an illusion brought on by senility. “Fry
told me that Farnsworth broke into the hangar on Talora to get them.”
“Oh yeah, everything’s all taken care of. We loaded all of the professor’s stuff into the ship and took off before anyone even knew we were there.”
“So then they really are back in the planet express building?”
wasn’t the whole reason for this awful mission to get them away
from the Planet Express building?”
yeah, funny story. The Society for Mad Scientists threatened to stop
supplying President Nixon with new doomsday weapons if they couldn’t
keep some for themselves, so Nixon threatened to rampage through the
Supreme Court until they declared the anti-doomsday law
unconstitutional. Doomsday devices are legal again.”
figures. Actually, I would have been surprised if something like that
hadn’t happened to us; it always does.” Leela sighed.
“Alright, well it’s been nice talking to you again Amy.
Here’s our flight plan so you know where to find us if there’s
a problem. I’ll see you in a little bit”
Leela moved to
break the connection, but Amy had one last thing to say.
Leela, there’s something else.”
Amy gestured for
Leela to turn the volume down so that Fry wouldn’t overhear.
“Did Fry tell you about how he rescued you?”
yet. We haven’t really had the time to sit down and talk. I can
probably guess though. You found him a ship and the professor somehow
figured out where I was and programmed the ship to bring Fry to me. I
still don’t know who helped him once he got to the planet
Amy was shaking
her head sadly. “Spleesh Leela, you never give him enough
credit. The professor figured out how to track you, but he wouldn’t
let Fry try to rescue you. You should have seen how furious Fry was.
We actually had to keep watch on the bridge the whole time he was
onboard because we were afraid he’d steal the ship! Then when
we were loading the professor’s doomsday devices onto the ship
I saw Fry go running for the little shuttle that was sitting in the
corner. By the time I got there he was already halfway through
powering it up. Leela, Fry stole a spaceship to come look for you.
Nobody helped him. We all tried to stop him. Everyone thought he’d
just get himself killed.”
Leela was flat
out speechless. She had had no idea…
Was all she managed.
well, Leela, Fry told me something just before he took off. He’s
said it before but I never really believed it for some reason. But,
geez Leela, you should have seen him! There was something in his
eyes. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“What did he say?”
“He said he loved you.”
Leela sat in the
pilot seat staring into deep space and mulling over Amy’s
words. Fry was breathing lightly in the background. The delivery boy
had told her that he loved her several times, it shouldn’t be
news. “Then why is it?”, she wondered. The first time she
had heard him say it, she had been flattered but hadn’t taken
him seriously. After all, this was Fry she was thinking about. The
only other time she had heard him say it was when he had been
infested with sentient tapeworms. It had been easy to blame them for
the delivery boy’s sudden deep, coherent emotions. Now Leela
wasn’t nearly so sure. Fry had stolen a spaceship he didn’t
know how to fly and chased Leela’s captor across the galaxy. It
was even likely that it was him that challenged Ivan in orbit around
Gyllegyn. Then he had broken into Ivan’s ship in the middle of
a small war to rescue her, all the while risking near certain death.
“And he did it without a second thought, just because I needed
him.” “He’d do it again too, even if I never thank
him.” If that didn’t sound like love, then Leela had no
idea what did.
weeks of stress, terror, and exhaustion began to catch up to PE
captain. Leela reached out and activated the autopilot. There was
nothing between their current location and home but deep space. The
ship could be trusted to fly itself for awhile.
and stood up. She could see Fry lying on his side, comatose on the
ship’s only soft horizontal surface. At first she started to
sit back down, thinking to sleep in the chair, but she paused halfway
through the motion. Not giving herself any chance to change her mind,
she walked the few steps to her sleeping comrade and sat down on the
edge of the bed. Being very careful not to startle him, Leela laid
down on her side. When she was sure he wouldn’t wake she rolled
over and snuggled up him. Before long an arm appeared around her
waist.. Leela smiled contentedly and surrendered to the drowsiness
that was slowly creeping up on her. A moment later she was asleep.