Blame It On The Brain, part 3
Chapter 8: Pressed between the pages of my mind…
members of Planet Express that could be accounted for (being himself,
the Professor, Amy, and the janitor whose name he couldn’t
recall) present around the conference table, Hermes undertook the sad
duty of informing them of Fry’s death by apparent suicide.
so,” he said in closing, “once again we farewell another
of our crew, may he rest in eternal unpaid leave.” Hermes set
Fry’s time card alight, and the team watched it burn in silent
could this happen?” Amy sobbed at length. “He was always
so full of life…” The young intern buried her face in
her hands and cried.
boy was like a son to Scruffy,” Scruffy said, laying a
comforting hand on Amy’s shoulder. “Best we remember all
the good times we had – like when Fry and Potsie were desperate
to join the best frat on campus, but first they had to survive the
initiation rites… Me and the Fonz tried to talk them out of
it, but they stayed on…”
the Professor snapped suddenly, surging to his feet with a
painful-sounding crunch of ancient joints.
had enough of this claptrap and bunkum!” the old man said,
shuffling away slowly. “Something’s not right here, and
I’m going to find out what! What time of death is listed on
that coroner’s report?”
Hermes consulted the sheet of paper. “Ten thirty-four AM,
yesterday,” he said.
The Professor touched a wall panel and the giant projection screen
illuminated after a series of static flickers (the city was still
recovering from the unexplained blackouts and electronic malfunctions
from the night before). Manipulating the controls, Farnsworth brought
up the building’s surveillance camera system and backtracked to
the previous morning. Eventually, he froze the image on a shot of Fry
and Bender walking into the room to see Farnsworth.
the Professor said triumphantly. “They came to borrow a gun
from me! I remember it clearly, just like I remember everything!”
about it?” Hermes asked.
about what?” Farnsworth looked suddenly confused, glancing
around the room as though unsure what he was doing there. He looked
at the projection screen in a bewildered daze.
up slowly, her eyes fixed on the screen. “The time,” she
said, pointing. Hermes and Scruffy looked, and noted the time logged
on the surveillance feed was 11:15 AM.”
Stork of Ankh-Morpork, it says he was here after he died,”
Hermes said uncertainly, and then reasoned: “Of course…
it could just be human error.”
error didn’t make Leela, Bender, and Doctor Zoidberg disappear
off the face of the Earth and the entire city black out,” Amy
Wong is right,” Farnsworth said. “There are too many
coincidental coincidences for all this to be a coincidence.”
Fry is really alive?” Hermes asked in a dazed state.
that way,” Amy said.
Sweet Cockrell of Rivendell!” Hermes cried, slumping face-down
on the desk in anguish.
wrong?” Amy asked in confusion. “Aren’t you happy?”
the bureaucrat shouted. “I already submitted his death notice,
mon! I’ll have to make an amendment through the central
bureaucracy to reinstate him as a living person – I’ll
look like a damn sexy fool! …Unless…” He stopped
and looked up with a smile creeping across his face. “I could
always just leave him officially dead, register him as a legal
zombie, and lower his pay to a post-mortem rate… yessss, that
could work in our favour…”
man workin’,” Scruffy muttered quietly.
we be trying to find out what’s happened to Fry and the
others?” Amy said.
I’m sure an answer will come calling sooner or later,”
moment, the building’s intercom buzzed, and the wall screen
changed to show an external view of the entrance door, where a group
of figures waited. One of them was instantly recognisable.
Zombie Jesus,” Farnsworth muttered, cringing. “What the
hell does she want?”
glared impatiently up at the security camera.
the stormwater pipe had opened out onto the mouldering ruins of Old
New York, the ancient city lying dank and shadowed beneath the
supporting plate of the upper metropolis. Driving out of the drainage
ditch, Fry gunned the V8 along eerily familiar streets as weird
misshapen creatures skittered off into the darkness on either side.
Bender said, at last breaking the long silence. “That was a
whole lotta fun – do we know what the hell it was about yet?”
stared down at Nibbler where he sat next to the gear shift.
she said hesitantly.
the creature acknowledged, blinking three sets of eyes at her.
this time,” she said in a horrified kind of wonder. “You
were pretending to be… just an animal.”
am an animal,” Nibbler reasoned stoically.
you’re intelligent!” Leela snapped in exasperation. “I
mean, my God! All the secrets I told you when I thought you couldn’t
understand… I got undressed in front of you!”
Fry muttered, steering down a side street and noting the low fuel
not funny,” Leela complained. “Nibbler, you deceived us
that, I apologise,” Nibbler said, inclining his head sincerely.
“However the importance of my mission necessitated subterfuge –
the stakes were far too high for…”
Fry interrupted suddenly. “What mission? What stakes? I feel
like I almost remember, but it’s just out of reach, like that
itchy thing growing between my shoulder-blades that I can’t get
at… Tell me what’s going on!”
memory has, again by necessity, been blanked,” Nibbler told
him. “And Leela’s was similarly affected, although by a
different source. I shall now restore your memories – prepare
slowed the car to a stop and turned it off. He noticed they were
close to that same place where, on the day he first met her, Leela
had removed her own career chip, and an intimate moment had passed
between them. Silence descended, and he looked across at her
be a nasty can of worms,” he said. “You sure you want to
snorted. “I’ve already been blown up several times since
yesterday,” she replied. “I think the can is well and
are the worms?!” Zoidberg asked hungrily from the back seat,
and Bender cuffed him.
held out her hand to Fry. “Ready?” she asked.
no,” Fry said, taking her hand. “So how do we…?”
third eye resonated suddenly with esoteric energies. Calling it
telepathy would be like calling a thermonuclear reaction ‘a
little bit warm’. Brutally, like the deadly unfurling
razor-sharp petals on the Venusian Slasher Flower, memories assaulted
the minds of Fry and Leela, while Bender and Zoidberg too felt some
of the psionic backwash.
Brainspawn’s first attack on humanity. Leela remembered
travelling to Nibbler’s homeworld, and the desperate,
last-chance gambit that saw Fry defeating the menace and saving the
remembered the final showdown when he, as the Mighty One, infiltrated
the Brainspawn Infosphere where he finally learned the truth of how
and why he was brought to the future, and then banished the
Brainspawn from the Universe forever…
return,” he murmured, slowly recovering from the memory
onslaught. “You said we’d sent them to a dimension of no
return – but they’re coming back, aren’t they?
That’s what this is about, isn’t it? The nightmare’s
nodded gravely. “Certain parties opened a way, and now our
best-laid plans lie in tatters.”
the hell happened?” Bender said, shaking his head in confusion.
“I just remembered flying brains and me acting like an idiot
for some reason.”
good,” Zoidberg said. “I thought it was just me.”
He then lost interest and began gnawing on the upholstery.
restarted the car and drove onward, deep in thought. The fuel gauge
was well into the red before Leela finally came out of her reverie
and glanced at Fry in quiet wonder.
she said quietly. “You saved the whole world.”
Universe too,” he said with offhand nonchalance. He turned into
a cracked, litter-strewn driveway even as the engine began to
splutter thirstily. “Looks like it might have been for
nothing,” he added, switching off the Mustang.
me everything,” Leela said. “I want to know.”
go inside first,” Fry said.
climbed out of the car and walked inside the dilapidated ruin of the
old Fry homestead.
Onespawn observed the Nibblonian fleet at the extremity of sensor
range, it redoubled efforts to gain full control of the ship’s
systems. Brezhnev possessed a range of armaments, from argon
lasers to railguns and kinetic missiles – all fitted by Momcorp
for ‘self defence’ purposes. At the same time, the
Brainspawn continued to adapt itself, boosting its own mental
capacity further and strengthening internal membrane structures
within its increasingly massive form.
could not be certain when it had first became aware of the resonance
– it was like white noise at first, an imperceptible background
hum that slipped around consciousness and built slowly in the
recesses of thought. Gradually, the sense of intrinsic vibration had
become stronger, and Onespawn realized it originated from within
itself – exotic, indefinable molecules phasing in and out of
existence, which had never been present before.
strange quantum flux gave Onespawn pause for thought as the Brezhnev
passed through a fiery nebula. It was almost as if some strange force
was acting against the changes Onespawn was making within itself,
attempting to snap back like fourth-dimensional elastic.
creature sent one of its sub-minds off to investigate that
phenomenon, its main attention turned back to the Nibblonian fleet,
which had begun to approach in waves…
Nibblonian race had described Philip J. Fry as a child of destiny –
the long-prophesised ‘Mighty One’ destined to forever end
the threat of the Brainspawn. Fry himself was born in the 20th
Century, an age before the time was ripe for the final confrontation,
and the unique circumstanced through which the paradox of his
self-genesis could be played out.
to serve the function of the Mighty One, for him to even become
the Mighty One by becoming his own grandfather, Fry had to be
preserved for the future. It was for that reason Nibbler lured him
into the cryogenic module; and for a thousand years he slept, watched
over by the Nibblonians who arranged a beautiful one-eyed guardian to
be there for him when he awoke.
the tale of the Brainspawn’s defeat, Nibbler occasionally
interrupting with a new fact or clarification. He described his
daring raid on the Infosphere (for no one else had borne witness to
that) and the detonation of the quantum interface bomb.
Bender listened closely to the convoluted story of Fry’s life
while Zoidberg foraged in the kitchen for fossilized tins of ancient
baked beans. They sat on the crumbling thousand-year-old remains of
the Fry family’s lounge setting.
amazing,” Leela said when Fry had finished. “Almost too
much to wrap my mind around…”
the world’s stupidest chump is the only one who can save us
all?” Bender said. “Well I feel a whole lot better.”
it going to be?” Fry asked Nibbler, ignoring the robot.
“Another quantity interweb bomb?”
fear that option is now a dead end,” Nibbler said, sounding
worried. “Since one Brainspawn has now returned, the path has
been opened and soon the rest will learn how to make the journey.”
you mean there’s only one of them here now?” Leela raised
one half of her single eyebrow. “That doesn’t seem like
such a big threat.”
is no longer an ordinary Brainspawn,” Nibbler said sternly.
“For the first time, a single member of the species has become
separated from the collective, and that means it will put aside
long-held attachments to the sanctity of Brainspawn organic purity in
the interest of preserving itself as an independent entity.”
Leela, and Bender stared blankly at the little creature.
thought for a moment, and simplified: “Because it is alone, cut
off from the rest of its kind, it will now begin to change itself
into something more powerful and deadly than the Universe has ever
seen. A true monster without precedent.”
that’s bad…?” Fry glanced around at the others for
confirmation, and then nodded. “Right. Bad.”
than a thousand gallons of sun-ripened mayonnaise,” Nibbler
said. And not only for the obvious reasons.” He looked
do you mean?” Leela pressed.
your science has not yet achieved full realization of it, the
creation of this Universe was, in effect, a ‘Mass-Inversion
Event’,” Nibbler said. “In basic terms, it was a
point at which spontaneous quantum field collapse produced an equal
and opposite reflection of all that existed beforehand. And under
normal circumstances, at the birth of a Universe, all that should
have existed is nothingness, and that nothingness would then have
been inverted into somethingness – that is, the physical
did happen,” Leela said.
Nibbler nodded. “But something else happened as well –
because my people, the Nibblonian race, actually existed before the
dawn of the Universe…”
sweet Colonel Sanders!” Fry exclaimed in realization. “The
Nibblonians were inverted as well! You mean to tell me that…?”
Nibbler said sadly.
Nibbler said again.
Brainspawn are actually Nibblonians!?”
dark reflection,” Nibbler said. “Or perhaps it is we are
a retro-active preflection of them. In any case, they are our
equal and opposite, spawned spontaneously in the Big Bang as the
inverse reaction to our presence before the dawn of time.”
all along,” Leela said, “you and your people…
you’ve been fighting against yourselves.”
picked up a splintered piece of floorboard and waddled to a dirty
section of floor where he began to scrawl a rough diagram in the
dust. As Fry and the others moved over to watch, he continued:
the Nibblonian and the Brainspawn races, being one and the same and
sharing a unique bond with the fabric of the Universe from the time
of the Big Bang, are tied inexorably to the fabric of spacetime, and
to each other.” He drew a line of arrows from a picture of a
Nibblonian, through a stylized ‘big bang’ explosion and
on to a Brainspawn and an amorphous ‘common garden-variety
pictures,” Fry commented.
you,” Nibbler said. He then scrawled a secondary line off to
one side and drew a rough stylized picture of a spiky-haired person,
which he labelled as ‘temporal paradox’.
Fry,” Bender said helpfully.
Nibbler said. “The Mighty One is the only other being that
shares the same connection to the fabric of the Universe as the
Nibblonians and the Brainspawn, due to the fact that his is his own
Grandfather and so in essence results from a similar spontaneous
coughed uncomfortably and Leela looked away.
such,” Nibbler went on, “the three facets, being the
Mighty One, the Nibblonians, and the Brainspawn, represent an
Existential Trinity – inexorably tied to one another and to the
Bender said. “I’ve never been less interested in anything
in my life…”
does all that actually mean?” Leela said uncomfortably.
paused and scratched under his chin with a hind leg. “My own
people and the Brainspawn were present, and an intrinsic part
of the Universe’s dawn,” he said. “And as such we
are in and of ourselves active reflections of each other… so
if one facet of the whole brings about an alteration of its state,
then that change will be felt by the other facets – including
the Mighty One who now shares our manifest nature.”
course…” Fry said, and then shook his head. “No
wait, the other thing – huh!?”
sighed. “The changes the returned Brainspawn is making within
itself will be reflected in the Nibblonians, and in you yourself.
Behold – it has begun already…” Nibbler lifted up
his cape to show his dark furred back. A mottled discolouration
marred the alien’s flesh, purple and grey, like scar tissue or
some kind of fungal infection. It seemed to writhe imperceptibly.
others gasped in horror.
Fry exclaimed. “That’s happening to you just because one
Brainspawn is evolving?”
concealed the cosmic stigma with his cape again. “Affirmative,”
he said. “The two races are connected – that is why
neither has ever attempted to destroy the other – for to
destroy one side, the other would perish also.”
mean you… your people have allowed the Brainspawn to continue
to exist down through the ages… because if you wiped them out
then you too would be obliterated?” Leela asked.
inclined his head with a sense of shame. “The quantum interface
bomb was a means by which the threat could have been eliminated
without actually killing the Brainspawn race… but alas…”
those civilizations… destroyed,” Fry said.
has passed is past,” Nibbler said. “Now these alterations
are reflected within us, the ultimate consequence of which is
impossible to say… we may die, or become slaves.”
“And it’s going to happen to me too!?” Fry asked,
suddenly mortified. “Just because of the… past…
made a vague gesture at Fry’s torso, and the Mighty One
gingerly lifted up his shirt to expose his stomach.
it is,” he murmured, staring at the mottled stain across his
flesh. “That wasn’t there a few hours ago… how
fast will it spread?”
to say,” Nibbler replied. “But if this new Brainspawn
continues its adaptation, unpleasantness is certain to ensue.”
knelt by Fry, inspecting the stigma that marked his pale skin.
can treat this,” she said with a touch of panic in her voice.
“Trial some different antibiotics, nanites… parasite
worms… on both of you…”
affliction is not medical in nature,” Nibbler told her softly.
“What ails us is an echo of force reverberating through
fourth-dimensional spacetime – no medicine will sever the ties
that bind us.”
has to be something!” Leela looked at Fry desperately, and Fry
found himself taken aback by the emotion in her eye.
the Professor will know what to do,” Bender offered, and for
once sounded genuinely concerned.
already know what to do,” Nibbler said in a low tone that was
almost a growl. “Although a great sacrifice will have to be
We could sacrifice Zoidberg,” Bender said. Fry and Leela nodded
in eager agreement.
someone want me?” Zoidberg asked, poking his head into the
the low drone of antigravity engines became audible, and the Planet
Express comrades moved to an empty window frame to look out on the
dreary ruined city. Half a mile away, small flying objects could be
seen trawling slowly back and fourth, with searchlights scanning the
ground below them.
drones,” Leela said. “They must have tracked us down
we have to move,” Fry said. “The car’s outta juice,
so we’ll be hoofing it.”
to where?” Bender asked. “We can’t be running
around down here forever – the Universe is in peril and my
collection of vintage pornography will eventually fall into unworthy
know who can help us return to the surface unseen,” Leela said.
Together they left the house and jogged quietly away into the gloom.
Chapter 9: A Night at the Space Opera
The first wave of
Nibblonian saucer-shaped ‘Cuddle Bug’ ships soared across
the bow of the Brezhnev, deploying scores of kinetic harpoons
from their centreline munitions dispensers. Great rends appeared in
the hull of the monolithic research vessel as the projectiles
impacted at relativistic velocities and converted to hard radiation,
spewing geysers of billowing gas and superheated plasma out into the
onslaught continued, and Brezhnev shuddered beneath the
monumental impacts, losing thousands of cubic tons of its mass in a
matter of seconds.
inside the battered ship, Onespawn responded by expanding its
stupidification field, and suddenly the first wave attackers began to
veer randomly off-course as their Nibblonian pilots became afflicted
by sudden stupidity. They slammed into the hull of the massive
Brezhnev, and into each other; they fired salvos of missiles
at their own ships; and many attempted to land on a nearby sun.
second and third waves of Nibblonian attackers held back at standoff
range, unwilling to enter the idiocy zone that surrounded the SS
Brezhnev. Instead they deployed long-range weapons –
powerful Phased-Antimatter-Array missiles and near-lightspeed
coilguns that fired love-heart shaped iron slugs across the void and
into the subverted research cruiser’s flanks.
ignored the peppering coilgun strikes and instead focused on
intercepting the PAA missiles that streaked toward the ship.
Long-unused weapons systems, now finally under the Brainspawn’s
control, deployed smoothly from recesses in the massive ship’s
hull, swinging around to draw bead on the approaching projectiles.
outside became an incandescent maelstrom of warring energies, as the
Brezhnev’s argon lasers stabbed across the void and
struck the PAA missiles one by one. They detonated in starbursts of
exotic radiation, purple and red, any one of which could have caused
mass-extinctions on an inhabited world.
Nibblonian fleet was buffeted by the blasts from their own weapon
systems exploding. Onboard the command vessel, the presiding leader
of the Nibblonian people issued rapid commands and reviewed incoming
Cuddle Bug squadrons deploy to defensive perimeter formation codename
snuggle-fluff,” Ken said. “Engage attack scenario
Alpha-Bravo-Pookums!” He nearly lost his footing as a
burst of projectiles from the Brezhnev’s railguns
slammed into the ship.
the Nibblonians on the pink cushioned bridge worked with grim
determination, acutely aware of the consequence of failure. Many of
them displayed visible marks of cosmic stigma, including Ken himself
whose entire left arm was covered by the dark affliction.
the comm. screen activated with random amorphous coloured shapes, and
a booming voice echoed through the audio system.
you’ve resorted at last to an open display of force?” the
Brainspawn said disdainfully across the communication band. “No
longer hiding behind feeble forlorn theology and the red jacket of
your dim-witted Messiah?”
his fangs in an angry snarl. “Your machinations cannot be
allowed to continue,” he said. “Every change you make
within yourself destabilizes the Universe further and edges both our
races toward final and utter obliteration!”
mistaken me for an entity to whom such concerns warrant even a
moment’s consideration,” Onespawn replied. “I am no
longer Brainspawn – I am Onespawn, and I will be the death of
communication link terminated.
bravado, Onespawn knew. Though the Brezhnev’s armaments
might hold up for a while, augmented by Onespawn’s psionic
attack, the Nibblonian forces were technologically superior and would
eventually obliterate the larger vessel.
to be some other avenue…
desperation, Onespawn looked to the weird quantum flux that it had
detected within itself. The Nibblonian commander’s words began
to make some vague sense as the exotic resonance continued.
Onespawn applied psionic energy to the fluxing quantum particles, and
in response an inconceivable ripple of unreality radiated outward
from the Brainspawn. Space and time seemed to buckle briefly in
filled the communication waves, and Ken, the Nibblonian leader
appeared on a viewscreen near Onespawn’s temporal lobe.
are you doing?” the little alien bellowed. “You can’t
do that! The fabric of the Universe…”
Onespawn said. Again, the creature applied energy to the quantum
structure inside itself, only stronger this time. Reality bucked and
writhed as the wave rippled outward, swamping the Nibblonian fleet.
the Universe snapped back into shape (albeit somewhat overstretched
and threadbare in places), the Nibblonians in the immediate vicinity,
with their intrinsic ties to the fabric of spacetime, were no more…
pastel-coloured ships hung silently in the void, empty of all life.
Brezhnev lumbered onward toward Earth, unopposed.
led the way slowly through the pungent stench of the New New York
sewer system, Fry and Nibbler suddenly cried out in searing pain and
fell together to the damp slimy ground.
Jeez!” Fry moaned as every molecule of his being seemed to
whiplash in spastic agitation. “Knew I… shouldn’t
have eaten… that mushroom…”
Nibbler growled. “Not this… not yet…!”
What’s happening to you?” Leela pushed past Bender and
Zoidberg to crouch beside the two writhing figures. She placed a hand
on Fry’s shoulder and then drew back sharply when a crack of
static electricity burnt her fingers. She gasped in alarm when both
Fry and Nibbler seemed to vanish briefly, and then flicker in and out
of existence like a poorly-tuned television.
strange attack ceased, and the two of them solidified once more and
slowly got to their feet.
Fry said. “Did everything just taste incredibly painful?”
happened?” Leela asked. “It looked like you were fading
away into nothingness.”
fungus can do that,” Zoidberg offered.
looked down at Nibbler for some explanation, and the little alien
appeared worried almost to the point of panic.
soon,” he said to himself. “It’s progressing too
was the Brainspawn?” Fry asked.
its connection to spacetime as a weapon, affirmative,” Nibbler
said. “The Universe just took a tremendous beating, and several
thousand of my people met their end. The enemy now understands the
power it wields, and the cosmos will tremble at its might…”
his nose absently, no longer listening, and noticed the dark stain of
stigma forming on his wrist. He hurriedly lowered his hand before
on,” he said. “Let’s keep moving.”
picked up Nibbler and led the way onward through the tunnel systems,
which eventually opened out onto a ramshackle subterranean village
beneath the city’s surface. Accumulated deitrus had been drawn
together and piled into haphazard structures, arranged around the
fetid drainage canals and central mutagenic lake. Thin shafts of
sunlight filtered down from grilles and ducts in the plate above,
penetrating the gloomy murk below.
reached the settlement of the sewer mutants.
the eyes and sensor stalks of the various mutated humanoids observed
the outsiders from a distance, lurking in shadow. Then a lone voice
darkness, scores of mutant children with extra limbs and misshapen
bodies rushed out to cluster around Leela, making delighted whooping,
hissing, and squawking sounds.
Leela! Tell us stories of the Surface!”
you here to free us from the sewers?”
does the sun look like?”
Leela, Is it true that you can grant wishes?”
appeared taken aback, and tried to move past the youngsters, but they
continued to mob her, so she awkwardly attempted to answer their
questions and smiled uncertainly at their enthusiasm.
the others skirted the little gathering and watched in bemusement
from one side as Leela was forced to sit, holding two of the smaller
children in her arms. The almost maternalistic scene evoked some odd
yearning in Fry that he couldn’t quite place, and he found
himself thinking back to the time between unrecallable times when he
had been briefly married to her…
Nibbler remarked from the ground.
somewhere behind them appeared a mutant with two noses and a forehead
like a cliff face.
friend Leela has become something of a legend to many in our
community since we learned who she is,” Dwayne said, startling
Fry, Bender, and Zoidberg, who had been watching Leela and her fans.
they do seem to love her,” Fry said.
is the only mutant to have ever escaped the sewers and made a life
for herself on the Surface,” Dwayne explained. “They see
her as beacon of hope and salvation – not unlike the Christ of
our ancient myths. Through her, many hope we will one day ascend to
the upper world and claim our place among the Surface-dwellers…”
chance buddy,” Bender muttered, striking a match on Dwayne’s
massive forehead and lighting a cigar. “Folk as ugly as you
belong where folk as beautiful as me don’t have to see ‘em.”
glared. “Beauty is a matter of perspective,” he retorted
indignantly. “Perhaps to us it is you who appear ugly.”
Bender replied. “I don’t have two noses, weirdo.”
right Dwayne,” Vyolet snorted, the reptilian female appearing
alongside Dwayne with a cigarette jutting from the corner of her
mouth. “Accept it, we’re hideous.” She blew a cloud
of smoke from her gills, and Dwayne looked crestfallen.
Morris and Munda made their way forward, and Leela gently excised
herself from the press of mutant children to run to them. Arms and
tentacles encircled her warmly as she embraced her parents.
Dad,” she said. “It’s so good to see you.”
of course it’s good to see you too, sweetheart,” Munda
said, cupping Leela’s face between her tentacles.
but why the sudden unexpected visit?” Morris added. “Is
like you’ve been hit by a garbage skip,” Munda said.
“Still beautiful of course, but… are you bleeding?”
glanced down at her grimy, beaten appearance. There were numerous
abrasions she’d sustained in the past twenty-four hours that
she hadn’t even noticed yet. She looked across to Fry where he
stood with the others, and he gave her a helpless shrug.
a long story,” she told her parents.
always is,” Munda replied with patient understanding. “Why
don’t you and your friends come on home and get yourselves
group made their way along the rickety gangways of Mutant Town,
Zoidberg was stopped by the Supreme Mutant, a man with an extra arm
growing out the side of his head.
Lord,” Raoul said in horror as he stared at the Doctor. “You
poor unfortunate being…”
made a confused gurgle in the back of his throat and blinked at the
are the most horribly mutated person I’ve ever seen,”
Raoul went on. “Even more disgusting than him.” He
pointed at a mutant that appeared to be comprised of a single leg
with a face on it.
Zoidberg scuttled dejectedly away after the others.
Professor and his employees were sequestered on the hangar floor
while Mom’s security personnel scoured Planet Express
headquarters. They sat in a circle, covered by a squad of armed men.
The corporate Matriarch herself stood nearby with Larry and waited.
At length, one of the task leaders hurried up to her.
completed a full search of the compound,” he reported. “No
sign of the Mighty One or the Nibblonian – they aren’t
Mom glared at Professor Farnsworth. “Where are they?” she
got to his feet and adjusted his glasses. “More to the point,”
he said distractedly, “where am I?”
cheng!” Amy muttered in frustration.
prodded Farnsworth in the chest with a bony finger. “Listen
stud, if you think your sex appeal will get you out of this, you’re
sorely mistaken,” she said. “I want Fry and that little
three-eyed creature – tell me where they are before I get
should have known you were behind this!” Farnsworth snapped,
passing back into lucidity. “You conniving seductive harpy!
What kind of evil scheme are you trying to enact?”
your own cod-sniffing business!” Mom said, turning her back on
snapped shut his handheld communicator and leaned close to Mom.
“We’re still unable to contact the Brezhnev,”
he said quietly. “I think the Nibblonian may have been telling
nodded tiredly. “These fools don’t know anything,”
she said, glancing over her shoulder at Farnsworth and his deadbeat
friends. “But still – Hubert’s expertise could come
in handy if we’re really facing a threat. We need to be able to
contain this as quickly as possible.”
about the quantum interface weapon?” Larry asked. “Or the
She slapped him. “You think we can still make money from this!?
My building is half demolished, my two favourite sons are dead, and
we may well have unleashed a force of death and destruction upon the
damned Galaxy – the best we can hope for is that we come out of
this without being blamed!”
rubbed his cheek, looking forlorn. “So what now?” he
up Farnsworth and his morons,” Mom said. “We can’t
find Fry and his racoon so we’ll just have to confront the damn
brain thing ourselves. Make sure Hubert has full access to our data
access?” Larry repeated incredulously. “But… not
even I have that level of…”
up!” Mom snarled.
security personnel prodded the Professor and the others toward the
doors, Hermes Conrad held out a sheaf of papers toward Mom.
is da standard kidnapping and ransom statement to be lodged with the
central bureaucracy in the event you intend to hold us unlawfully for
any given period of time,” he said. “The forms must be
submitted with at least three weeks’ notice, and…”
pulled out her PPK and put three bullets through the papers, causing
Hermes to drop them in fright.
Jaguar of Dagobah,” he said weakly. “…Discharging
of a firearm on company property… I have to submit an incident
gotta find Scruffy a new job,” Scruffy muttered to himself as a
security grunt pushed him out through the hangar door. “Somethin’
less excitin’, where folk remembers yer name…”
it!” Larry snapped.
Hermes, Amy, and Scruffy, were all led into a waiting shuttlecraft
that was boarded by Mom and her henchmen. It lifted off and blasted
away into the morning sky.
10: A Sewer Too Far
beneath the city’s supporting plate was stagnant, hanging in
heavy unmoving strata, so the distinct chemical trail of a fossil
fuel-powered internal combustion vehicle was simple enough to track.
Robot 1-X Ultima found the abandoned Ford Mustang well before the
other security drones got to it, and observed it for a moment, parked
in front of a ruined house.
nobody around. The only infrared signatures were too small to be
humanoid. Arbitrarily, Ultima selected a cluster bomb from its
weapons carousel and launched it. The house and car were instantly
engulfed in a blanket of fire, disintegrating into spinning flaming
the enemy no ground to go to…
particle filters detected pheromone traces, and after a few quick
scans a trail of footprints could be seen. One set wore boots (the
primary target’s size), another was barefoot, the third were
circular robot feet, and the fourth were sandals of some kind.
set off in the direction they had gone.
the dank putrid squalor of the sewer slums, the Turanga cottage
managed to maintain a sense of homely comfort and security. Even the
omnipresent stench seemed lessened within its haphazard walls.
explained the situation to her parents as best she could, keeping to
the important facts while skirting around concepts that she herself
had little understanding of. For their part, Morris and Munda did
their best to keep up, despite the gaps in comprehension that
resulted from a life lived in the dark underground caverns. They sat
on their mouldy sofa while Leela recounted the tale.
points got through: Universe in peril from an evil alien threat, and
Fry the only one who could defeat it, with an evil corporation hot in
his trail to divine some esoteric secrets.
a fascinating story…” Munda said with uncertainty,
glancing at Nibbler who sat on the floor licking himself.
do believe me, right?” Leela asked.
course we do, dear,” Munda replied. “Why, after some of
the other adventures you’ve had, this one seems almost
laughed heartily. “I’ll go see if your boyfriend needs
anything else,” he said, climbing to his feet.
Leela protested, reddening slightly. “You know he isn’t
sure honey,” Munda chuckled. “That’s what you tell
pulled a helpless face and slumped down beside her mother, who coiled
a protective tentacle around her shoulders.
adjoining room Fry finished lacing up a pair of worn out old
sneakers. Walking through the sewers barefoot had left a
disconcerting assortment of cuts on the soles of his feet – and
even Fry was dubious about open wounds being immersed in sewer
fit okay?” Morris asked upon entering the room.
great,” Fry said. “Thanks for letting me borrow them.”
don’t mention it,” Morris said, and Fry tried not to
stare at his vertically-oriented mouth. Morris might have been
smiling, but it was difficult to tell. “Can’t have the
saviour of the Universe tromping around with no shoes,” he
added, casting a glance at Bender and Zoidberg who appeared to be
arm-wrestling in one corner.
grunted uncomfortably. “So, Leela told you guys everything?”
abouts, what parts of it we could understand.” Morris turned
serious. “Take a walk with me, Philip,” he said.
Fry followed Morris out of the house and up one of the boardwalks.
Wanting to impress Leela’s father, he made an effort not to
slouch and politely refrained from screwing his nose up at the
pervasive stink. After a few moments silence, Morris produced a large
hip flask and passed it to Fry, who nearly choked after taking a
right here in Mutant Town,” Morris said with a chuckle, taking
back the flask. “Over ninety percent alcohol by volume, and the
extra ten percent you probably don’t want to know about.”
very lively,” Fry rasped, trying to swallow the fire that
seemed to be burning a line down his throat.
situation you’re in,” Morris said abruptly, “I want
to know what kind of danger you’re leading my Leela into.”
silent for a moment as the two of them walked side-by-side, carefully
measuring his response. “I don’t know what I’m
walking into,” he admitted finally. “But I do know that I
didn’t start this thing, and I’m not leading Leela
anywhere – she’s with me because she chose to be. I would
give anything for her to be safe at home, but you try telling her
nodded. “I see,” he said evenly.
not sure you do, sir,” Fry said. “Leela and I are
friends, and we’ve stood by each other through a lot of ups and
downs – we’ve been to the very brink of doom and back
again, and we’ve always done it together, because together
we’re stronger than we are alone.”
suddenly clapped a hand on Fry’s back, almost making him
stumble into the mutagenic canal.
admire your honesty, Philip,” he said, pausing to look up at a
grille set in the cavern ceiling hundreds of feet above. “I
won’t pretend I like the idea of my Leela getting involved in
some cosmic war, but I suppose you’re right – she’s
been living her own life up to now and she knows how to look after
herself. I just want you to promise me…”
don’t even have to say it,” Fry said. “I’d
die before I ever let anything hurt Leela.” He paused for a
moment, and added: “Of course, she’s the one who usually
ends up saving me, but my sentiment remains valid!”
heh,” Morris chuckled. “You really have it bad for her,
don’t you lad?”
what?” Fry made a show of looking confused. “I… I
don’t know what you mean.”
it’s fine,” Morris said. “She could do a lot worse…
like him for example.” He pointed at the leg-mutant
standing across the canal, who sighed and hopped away.
Fry shrugged and looked uncomfortably at the ground. “She’s
not interested in me,” he said with a dejected edge to his
voice. “I couldn’t even finish her opera. She deserves
someone who can provide for her; someone successful who knows how to
use chopsticks and doesn’t wipe his mouth on expensive
tapestries at stupid rich parties…”
just someone who loves her would suffice?” Morris
stared at Morris, and the mutant shrugged.
finds it difficult to trust,” he went on, “in people or
in feelings, and I suppose that’s partly our fault. The way she
grew up, never having anyone to depend upon but herself… and
then you came along, defrosted into her life and suddenly she had
friends, people who loved her, a family. She’s afraid to change
anything because she thinks she might lose it all. But she needs you
more than she lets on, and cares about you more than she’ll
admit… In truth, you’re really all that her mother and I
ever hear about. Just be patient with her.”
are you telling me this?” Fry asked stupidly.
“Munda and I are quite fond of you, Philip,” Morris
explained. “You reunited us with our daughter… prevented
her from killing us, and as you said – you’ve been a dear
friend to her. What I mean to say is… you have our blessing.”
blinked in surprise. “I, uh…Thank you sir,” he
managed at last, slightly stunned.
if you do manage to break through that shell of hers you’ll…
uh… play safe… won’t you?”
stared blankly for a moment, and then his eyes widened.
God, of course!”
I would always…”
wanted to make sure…”
don’t even need to…”
mean, not that it’s any of my business…”
stared at each other in very awkward silence for a few long moments,
and both were relieved when Raoul and Vyolet came running up to
strange flying robot has been spotted in the Eastern tunnels,”
the three-armed mutant leader said breathlessly. “Our perimeter
foragers report that it looks like some kind of armed attacker –
probably chasing Leela and her friends.” He cast a meaningful
look at Fry, but Fry wasn’t ready to launch into any
long-winded explanation; instead he returned Raoul’s stare
after us,” he confirmed. “Don’t ask me why, just
understand that we have to leave. Trust me.”
glanced at Morris, who nodded almost imperceptibly, and then back to
he said at last. “We will buy you time, as best we can. Go
Fry said. He and Morris turned and sprinted back toward the Turanga
her mother looked up in surprise when Fry and Morris burst in puffing
found us… coming… escape!” Fry gasped, trying to
catch his breath.
tracked us all the way down here!?” Leela exclaimed in
disbelief, surging to her feet.
we’re boned!” Bender said, hopping around in fright.
“That beautiful wonderful 1-X robot will kill us all!”
lead you out,” Morris said. “The rest of the mutants down
here will do what they can, now hurry!”
they all rushed out of the house and off down the length of Mutant
Town’s main ‘boulevard’, past Martin Luther Thing
Junior High (repaired since the last time Fry and Leela had seen it)
and Stenchy’s Café.
noticed many adult mutants marshalling with primitive weapons in
hastily-assembled militia units on the banks of the lake and secreted
they’re gonna fight it?” he said in amazement.
people aren’t exactly pushovers,” Munda replied.
right,” Morris said proudly. “Final Solution robots from
the government’s Genetic Purity Bureau tried to exterminate us
back in 2980, but we gave them what for! Man, those were the days…”
this is different,” Leela said desperately. “The thing
that’s after us is a full military droid – they can’t
beat it with their sticks and stones! People will die!”
Don’t write these brave subterranean warriors off so easily,
Leela,” Bender chided, and then in a low whisper added: “If
they wanna kill themselves for us, I say we let ‘em…”
Leela stopped, and Nibbler walked into the back of her left boot with
a grunt and a muttered curse.
they’re going to fight,” Leela said, “then I’ll
fight with them.”
if Leela fights, then so will I!” Fry added. “Of course…
I won’t fight as well as she does, but it’s the thought
be cheering for you both from several miles away,” Bender said
Munda said, laying a tentacle on her daughter’s hand. “Haven’t
you and your friends got a more important task right now?”
Nibbler snapped impatiently from the ground.
looked uncertain. “But…”
Morris pointed, and Leela looked: across the lake, in the worship
cavern where once had stood an unexploded nuclear bomb, there was now
a different religious icon standing on the great stone altar.
It was a
twelve-foot-tall statue of a one-eyed woman, with flowing hair and a
given these people a gift,” Morris went on as Leela gaped in
horrified astonishment at her own likeness. “The greatest gift
that a subjugated people can ever receive – hope, an
inspiration, a reason to keep going; to fight, to die… and to
this is wrong,” Leela whispered in shock.
say,” Bender added, casting a critical eye at the statue. “They
left off all your cellulite.” Fry kicked him in the ass.
looked at her parents, aghast. “How could you let them do
this?” she asked. “I’m not some messiah… I’m
just me…” She pointed at Fry. “He saved the whole
Universe, and nobody built a statue of him!”
did, however, release a line of action figures,” Nibbler said
quietly, and Fry looked at him in surprise.
it’s not so much about you, sweetie,” Munda told her
daughter. “Maybe it’s about them, about what they need.
Don’t take it away from them.”
gazed around, and noticed many of the mutant militia were looking
back at her, with hope and adoration shining accusingly in their
eyes. She inclined her head helplessly and groaned.
need to leave Earth,” Nibbler said. “Where is your ship?”
sure,” Leela muttered. “After the EMP it would have
crash-landed somewhere near the City centre.”
that’s our destination,” Morris said. “Come on.”
Vyolet, and Dwayne watched from a nearby rooftop as the Turangas and
their weird friends disappeared into a side tunnel. Leela stopped
once to look back at the underground settlement, and the mutants
waved at her merrily. Then she too vanished.
she’s safely away now,” Vyolet said, with a snort and a
cloud of smoke. “And the young ones have been taken to the
north cavern. When’s this badass robot gonna show up?”
speak too soon, my dear,” Raoul said. “Behold!” The
third arm on the side of his head lifted a notched and rust-pitted
old talwar sword and pointed it at the other end of the cavern.
There, a battered military droid had flown in through a side tunnel
and now hovered, scanning back and fourth.
seem so dangerous,” Vyolet said, taking up a serrated spear.
“The thing looks like it’s been through the fires of
Hades – check out that battle damage.”
yet it survives,” Dwayne noted quietly. “Let’s not
lifted a bugle fashioned from copper pipes and blew a single forlorn
note that echoed across the cavern.
Battle of Mutant Town had begun.
firearms possessed by the mutant militia were mostly ancient
projectile weapons liberated from the ruins of Old New York, with a
few low-grade lasers augmenting the meagre arsenal. All of them were
employed simultaneously from rooftop sniping roosts, and Robot 1-X
Ultima found itself suddenly buffeted by a hail of bullets and weak
wheeled in the air, identifying multiple hostile targets amid the
litter of sewer debris. As it prepared to fire on the guerrilla
positions, a secondary detachment of attackers appeared on the cavern
floor below and hurled (actually hurled, with their arms!)
long spike-tipped objects at Ultima.
spears clattered harmlessly off the robot’s flanks, and Ultima
targeted a group of mutant fighters on the edge of a glowing green
canal, blasting them under a railgun deluge. The survivors scurried
back to the relative safety of the shanties.
fired its last salvo of loitering missiles that soared up into the
air and they began circling above like birds of prey – waiting
for a target to present itself. But the mutants were like ghosts –
generations of hiding in the shadows had bred into them an ability to
move unseen, coming and going like the wind and vanishing into dark
forgotten places as quickly as they had appeared. Adding to the
difficulty was the all-pervasive humidity and background radiation of
the sewers that was degrading infrared returns.
frustration, Ultima fired a pair of phasers that reduced a row of
houses to smouldering ashes.
from on high: Some mutant militia had scaled the ceiling of the
cavern and were now toppling boulders from rickety catwalks above.
darted left and right, dodging most of the falling rocks until one
slammed into its head and bore it downwards toward the mutagenic
lake. With a tremendous splash, the robot disappeared into the green
ripples crossed the lake of toxic slime, mutants emerged slowly from
their hidden positions and began to cheer. Raoul, Vyolet, and Dwayne
looked on from their rooftop.
easy… that wasn’t enough to kill it,” Dwayne said
in a worried voice. Then he shouted at the top of his lungs: “Stay
concealed! It’s a ruse! The thing is playing possum so it can…”
suddenly exploded upward out of the lake with guns firing, raking
into the now-exposed ranks of mutant militia fighters with its
lasers. The loitering missiles began to stab down, blowing mutant
bodies apart even as they fled for cover.
watched his people being butchered, he gave a roar of fury and
grabbed hold of a rope tied loosely nearby. With swords held in his
two other hands, he swung out into the middle of the cavern, high
above the lake, and flew headlong at the hovering robot. Hefting
their own weapons, Dwayne and Vyolet took up the other two ropes and
found itself suddenly assaulted by three mutated figures swinging
past and around it, and landing ineffectual blows against its flanks
with blunt handheld weapons. Every time the robot turned to track
one, another would strike at it; like annoying mosquitoes, the three
enemies kept darting just out of reach.
damaged war drone retreated slightly to a standoff position where it
might more easily pick off the swinging attackers.
the three mutant friends let go of their ropes and fell together
toward the lake. At the same moment, Ultima opened up with its twin
gatling guns and Raoul cried out as an armour-piercing round burst
through his abdomen in a messy explosion of gore. He and the others
splashed down into the green lake and disappeared from view.
either side of the cavern, two huge old boilers were cut loose from
their moorings and swung outward from the walls on roof cables. With
ponderous inertia, the great rusty iron blocks closed the distance
between each other. Ultima noticed the trap too late, and the two
heavy boilers slammed together with the robot between them.
of the impact was great enough to crack Ultima’s external
casing and completely crush several servomotors. Sensor lenses were
broken, another micropile ruptured, and a number of weapons systems
were now inoperative. Coolant began leaking from the machine and it
flew off wildly away from the dented boobytrap, unable to adjust its
suddenly misaligned gyroscopes in time. It slammed down near the wide
cistern entrance to the deep subterranean sub-sewer, rolled in the
mud, and accidentally fired off a barrage of high-explosive flack
shells when a short-circuit tripped the firing mechanism. A large
section of roof collapsed down on Ultima, exposing the glare of
daylight from the upper city.
edge of the mutagenic lake, Dwayne and Vyolet pulled Raoul out of the
murky slime between them. A dark red stain marred the surface of the
we g…get it?” Raoul stammered, clutching the bullet
wound in his stomach.
sweetie, we got it,” Vyolet said, biting her green scaled lip.
She exchanged a glance with Dwayne, who lowered his eyes. The
large-calibre anti-aircraft round had done considerable damage, and
the colour of the blood indicated liver-shot. They both knew what
good,” Raoul said weakly, as a slight spasm ran through his
body. “I… think I’ll be okay… it doesn’t
really hurt as much as…” He went limp, and the other two
stared down at their dead leader in anguish.
Vyolet sobbed. With a shaking hand, she gently closed Raoul’s
eyelids. There was no jubilation now, as the mutants began to gather
the sound of shifting masonry echoed across the cavern. The pile of
rubble that had buried Ultima was now moving.
must be joking?!” Vyolet exclaimed, wiping tears from her
can’t still be alive…” Dwayne muttered. “Nothing’s
wrong. Boosted by a now-unsteady sputtering ion thruster, Ultima
burst up from out of the debris and wobbled drunkenly, smoke wafting
from rends in its armour.
Dwayne, the leg mutant mumbled something determined and heroic, but
his words were garbled by the cutlass he held in his teeth.
a deep rumble filled the cavern, which had nothing to do with Ultima,
and the earth shook beneath the mutants’ feet.
terrible creature from the dark depths of the earth had been roused
by the concussive explosions. Whether spawned by nature or by the
corrupting toxic overflow of civilization was unknown. What was known
was that it had a heart of sinister purpose, cloaked in shadow, and
terror went before it. It was a demon of the ancient world.
the creature rose up behind Ultima, clambering out of the sub-sewer
and looming above, sinuous green flanks and hooked claws dripping
with fetid water and luminescent algae.
Chupanibre let out a tremendous, earth-shaking roar, and Ultima
turned to behold the new threat.
back!” Dwayne shouted. He and Vyolet carried Raoul’s
body as the surviving mutants fled the impending clash of titans.
from below flexed its huge talons and advanced.
deployed its close-combat blades and moved in gleefully…
Chapter 11: Starship Bloopers
crump of distant ordinance discharges faded gradually (mercifully) as
Leela’s parents led the little group onwards through the
confusing maze of pipes and tunnels. Leela looked back occasionally,
uncertain and worried, and Fry tried to reassure her.
know what they’re doing,” he said.
Morris would stop to ascend a ladder up to a manhole cover, checking
on their position and looking for the Planet Express ship. After the
fifth or sixth time, he returned down with a vertical grin on his
up there,” he said. “Sticking out the side of a Burger
Queen, but it seems intact.”
you say ‘burger’?” Zoidberg salivated and ascended
the ladder three rungs at a time.
thanks muties,” Bender said. “I don’t care what
anyone says – you guys are Homo Superior.” With that, he
set off climbing after Zoidberg.
thankyou for everything,” Fry said.
you mention it, Philip,” Munda said, kissing him on the cheek.
what we talked about,” Morris added, shaking Fry’s hand.
will sir.” Fry climbed up the ladder, leaving Leela alone with
her parents. There was a long silence as Leela stared at them, her
face a conflicted mass of warring emotions and unasked questions.
other mutants,” she said quietly, “they believe I’m
going to somehow liberate them from the sewers. Is that what you
and Munda glanced at each other uncertainly.
you don’t have to do anything for us,” Morris said.
right,” Munda added. “We’re already so proud of
you hope, don’t you?” Leela pressed. Her parents said
nothing. “You deserve so much better than this, all of you…
all of us,” she sighed. “If there was something I
could do to bring about change,” she said, “then I would…
but what? I’m just one person… I don’t know how…”
just do whatever your heart tells you, Leela,” Munda said.
watched her parents for a long moment and finally came to a decision.
right,” she said, nodding in affirmation. “When I return,
I’ll find a way – things will change, I’ll see to
hugged and kissed her parents, and they watched her disappear up
through the manhole. Together, Morris and Munda shrank back into the
shadows and vanished.
Bender, and Zoidberg were peering cautiously around a street corner
when Leela rejoined them.
the hold-up?” she asked, following their gazes to where the
Planet Express ship sat at an odd angle, lodged into the side of a
fast-food restaurant. Hamburger patties and Freedom Fries had spilled
Bender explained, pointing at the police holograms that marked off
the area, and the patrol hovercar parked indiscreetly up the street.
like they’re waiting for us,” Leela said in frustration.
“Dammit – we won’t make it; we’d need time
for Bender to get the ship running again.”
Zoidberg dragged his eyes away from the foodstuff spilled on the road
and glanced back and fourth between his friends. His mind ticked
we’re boned again?” Bender groused.
we could hijack another ship from somewhere,” Leela said
need, no need!” Zoidberg said with regal self-importance,
stepping in front of the others with his claws on his hips. “The
robut is needed to fix the ship, the cyclops female to fly it, and
friend Fry must save the Universe for some reason – that leaves
only me, brave Doctor Zoidberg to distract the police long enough for
my dear friends to make good their escape!”
you’ll be captured!” Fry argued.
wait,” Leela said. “They don’t want him –
nobody does. They’d just let him go once they figure out we’re
plan,” Nibbler said distantly from Fry’s shoulder.
are you sure about this?” Fry asked, taking the Decapodian by
now, Fry – you would do the same for me,” Zoidberg said.
stared blankly at him for a prolonged moment. “Yes,” he
said woodenly, straight-faced. “Yes I would.”
you, Zoidberg,” Leela said, giving the lobster an impatient
push. “You’re a true friend. Goodbye.”
drop the soap!” Bender added.
edged around the corner and glanced up the street to where the patrol
car still sat in wait. “Alright,” he muttered. “Zoidberg
and URL watched through the window of their car as a red lobster
waddled slowly across the street toward the crashed green spaceship.
The alien paused to eat some of the uncooked hamburger patties off
the road before continuing on.
like something’s finally happening,” URL droned
languidly. “Aww yeah.”
one of the fugitives Momcorp tagged,” Smitty said, consulting
his info screen. “Guess we’d better beat him until he
tells us where his friends are.”
for some old-school abuse of power.” URL switched on the sirens
and drove the hovercar forward.
wail of klaxons, Zoidberg broke into a hasty scuttle, whooping in
fright as he went racing away from the PE ship and down a side alley.
Patrol car 718 followed and disappeared from sight.
brave lobster,” Leela said. “Come on – now’s
our chance!” Together, she and the others dashed across the
ship’s electrical systems down, it took Bender’s strength
to operate the manual release on the emergency access door. Then they
were all inside, the ship dark and quiet, and the deck slanted at an
Leela said. “Can you pull the same trick you did with the
Mustang and get us operational?”
managed to shrug, despite the lack of mobile shoulders. “I
guess,” he said. “Of course, this bird’s a lot more
complicated than that gas-guzzling contraption.”
I need are engines and manual control. We can repair the other
systems once we’re away.”
narrowed his eye shutters. “Of course, we’re gonna have
to talk about money,” he said.
about I take off your head and stick it somewhere your arms can’t
reach?” Leela replied automatically.
alright,” the robot growled, stomping away toward the engine
room and muttering homicidally to himself.
Fry made their way to the bridge, where Leela set about replacing
burnt-out fuses in the control console. Nibbler hopped up onto the
navigator’s station, and without anything else to do, began
licking himself noisily.
even worse than we feared,” Fry said from one side. “The
coffee machine isn’t working.”
just have to rough-it,” Leela replied, sitting down in the
command chair to wait for Bender to degauss the engine components.
“Just out of curiosity, Fry, what did you talk about with my
Fry began to blush a deep pink. “Um… y’know…
just guy stuff.”
stared at him fixedly.
Fry conjured at last. “We discussed geopolitics, as he and I
both often do.”
sighed. “You don’t even know what that is, Fry.”
I do,” Fry said confidently. “It’s like when
mountains and gorges argue with one another.”
let out an expressive groan.
don’t have to lie to me, Fry,” Leela said, turning her
attention back to the console. “I know my parents have some
strange ideas about you and I, but they’re just old romantics
eager to see me settle down. Don’t take any notice of that
Fry looked at his feet dejectedly. “…Okay.”
just can’t manage to convince them that we’re only
That must be annoying,” Fry muttered gloomily as he walked
silly, don’t you think?” Leela glanced up from the
console and looked around for Fry, but he’d left the bridge.
“What’s his problem?” she wondered aloud.
groaned again, louder, and buried his face in his paws. Leela was
about to comment when the ship shuddered suddenly and the lights
flickered on and off. The low drone of power returned, and running
displays on the control console gleamed.
we’re alive again,” Leela said, and then into the
shipwide intercom: “Everyone strap yourselves in.”
impulse thrusters came online, Leela backed the PE ship out of the
ruined Burger Queen, dislodging rubble from the nose section. The
little green freight ship hovered for a moment before Leela tilted it
to a diagonal inclination, with its main engine nozzles pointing at
tremendous blast of exotic energy, the Dark Matter engines flared
into life, and the Universe shifted position around the stationary
though being held down on the pavement by Smitty and URL, managed to
twist his neck and watch the ship soaring off into the sky.
my friends!” he warbled happily. “To freedom!”
up, you slimeball!” Smitty snarled, whacking the lobster over
the head with his lightsabre baton.
URL droned, watching the ship grow smaller. “Looks like the
fugitives pulled a fast one on us stupid cops. Ohh yeah.”
manhole cover suddenly flew upward from the ground and clattered down
right next to URL.
the hell,” the robot cop muttered.
of the manhole, an unrecognisable shape clambered on twisted limbs.
The battered metal object was covered in deep claw marks and viscous
green blood. With its ion thrusters no longer operative, Ultima had
to drag itself along with its forelimbs.
that a robot?” Smitty said, looking at the blackened mass of
it used to be,” URL replied.
looked on in silent terror.
noted the Planet Express ship passing just out of visual range and
surveyed the short list of systems that were still operational.
Happily, the robot brought its fusion booster online and ignited it.
thermonuclear explosion vaporized a section of road in incandescent
white fury, sending Zoidberg and the two police officers tumbling
head-over-heels through the air. Ultima shot upward in excited
anticipation, following the PE ship’s vapour trail.
the Earth’s layers of atmosphere fell away one by one. The
ionosphere was a brief crackle of static. Out into the void;
satellites whizzed past. There, directly ahead: the Dark Matter
drive, now ready to spool up to full power…
tried firing lasers, and found they were all damaged. The gatling
guns were jammed. All its missile reserves were spent. Railguns
weren’t receiving power. The severely-damaged war drone turned
in desperation to its antiphoton cannon, which had been out of
alignment since the battle on Mars. Theoretically it might still
fire, although the danger of blowback was great.
took the risk, targeting the Planet Express ship’s engines. It
fired, or tried to, and the particle accelerator mechanism in the
antiphoton cannon bucked violently and promptly exploded. Ultima was
thrown into an erratic spin, damaged components flying away from it
in a great arc. The robot’s systems went offline briefly, and
when it came back to consciousness the Planet Express ship was long
gone, and it was falling slowly into a Lunar orbit.
Ultima patiently set about devising a series of extensive self-repair
protocols. It would wait. The target would return in time; the
certainty of that fact burned bright in the robot’s fractured
Turanga Leela would return, and the hunt would resume… in
time. Ultima had all the time in the world.
passed after the prisoners were brought aboard Mom’s personal
interstellar frigate (shaped, oddly, like her head) in High Earth
Orbit. The Momship had departed the Sol system for destinations
unknown, and Professor Farnsworth was taken away to review secret
research data, leaving Hermes, Amy, and Scruffy to be shoved by
henchmen into a holding cell.
they waited, as the corporate matriarch’s ship’s engines
thrummed endlessly. There were no windows, no way to tell where they
were or how much time had passed; just the dull grey bulkhead stamped
with the logo of Mom’s Friendly Holding Cell Company.
monotony was painful. Without a single scrap of reading material
besides the labels on the cot blankets, all three of them were bored
had had enough.
time to take action.
he grunted, leaning close to Amy, “how’s about you get
nekkid fer us?”
to his solar plexus had him wheezing on the floor for a full minute,
after which he went and sat beside Hermes instead.
was less uptight about their bodies back in the twenty-nine
seventies,” he muttered grumpily. “Scruffy remembers
those days – peace and free love…”
decks up, Professor Farnsworth continued to read through volumes of
detailed scientific reports, emitting occasional grunts of “Oh
my…” and “…Fascinating.” He was
learning everything that Ogden Wernstrom’s team had discovered
from the Brainspawn.
attention was drawn inexorably to the section that described the role
and nature of the ‘Mighty One’.
merciful Zombie Jesus on a dollar bill!” he said in alarm.
“That idiot Fry is our only hope!?”
on the bridge, Mom paced the deck while Larry and the Helmsman looked
much further?” she snapped, glancing through the forward
to say, ma’am,” the Helmsman replied. “We’re
following the residual radiation trail from the point of last contact
as best we can, but there’s no way to tell how far it’s
gone… Although there is one thing…”
Mom rounded on the man, and he shrank back.
definitely headed back towards Earth,” he said.
looked out through the screen again, searching for the elusive
research vessel. “We can’t let it get there,” she
to the bridge whisked open and Professor Farnsworth shuffled in,
glaring at everyone through his two inch thick glasses.
is an outrage!” he bellowed. “You all should be ashamed
her hands on her hips and turned to meet his glare. “I don’t
care if you disapprove of what we’ve done, you old fool,”
she retorted. “Risks must be taken in the march of progress,
everyone knows that.”
Farnsworth repeated incredulously. “That’s how you
justify giving me a cabin without a bathroom? It’s disgraceful!
I had to relieve myself in an ashtray, dammit! It overflowed! I
demand a stateroom with full amenities!”
groaned in irritation. “Have you reviewed the research data
yet?” she asked, forcing some patience into her voice.
whuhh?” Farnsworth looked blank.
massaged her temples and ground her teeth. “The Brainspawn!”
change the subject!” Farnsworth snapped. “We’re
talking about the Brainspawn here, not your favourite shoe store –
get with the program, dammit!” He shuffled past her and sat
down in the ship’s command chair with an audible creak of
ancient bones grinding against replacement joints.
have you had any ideas?” Mom seethed.
Oh yes – Good News Everyone!” the Professor said.
“I have devised a mechanism that can shield a person’s
Delta brainwave, the wave that the creature feeds off, so that they
can approach without the Brainspawn being aware.” He produced a
dog-eared napkin covered in blotchy scrawlings and fed it into a
nearby computer console; a scratchy hand-drawn electronics diagram
appeared on the computer screen.
looks like a helmet,” Larry observed, looking at the diagram
with its circuits and valves.
helmet? Oh my, yes,” Farnsworth said. “It won’t
protect from the stupidification field if the Brainspawn becomes
aware of the wearer through some other means and strengthens said
field, but it should allow someone to get close, remaining relatively
invisible to the creature.”
Mom said. “Have the ship’s matter synthesizer whip a few
of them up.”
it yourself!” Farnsworth snapped angrily.
ma’am?” the Helmsman said suddenly.
Mom glared at the interruption.
your pardon,” the man said, “but we’re picking up
the ship on long-range scanners.”
on the bridge stared at the forward screen. Ahead lay a starfield; a
splatter pattern of light against black velvet. One distant point of
light was tagged with a yellow box graphic as it moved across the
Brezhnev had been found…
piloted the Planet Express ship onward through deep space for some
time before finally realizing she had absolutely no idea what their
destination was. As Bender joined her and Nibbler on the bridge she
shut down the Dark matter engine, leaving the ship to coast silently,
and turned to the little three-eyed alien.
are we going?” she asked simply. “Where is this monster
are not going to confront the creature yet,” Nibbler said. “We
are not yet equipped to face the beast. Our destination now is the
exact centre of the Universe.”
home planet?” Leela looked up as Fry entered, now wearing a
replacement red jacket from his cabin. For some reason, he appeared
subdued and downcast.
Nibbler said. “We must travel hither to Eternium, that we may
retrieve the one weapon powerful enough to end the threat of the
Brainspawn once and for all.”
it a Holy Hand-Grenade?” Bender asked.
more powerful still,” Nibbler replied.
Leela said, bringing a series of star-charts up on her console.
“Whatever the weapon is, it’ll take us a long time to
reach the centre of the Universe in this ship.”
necessarily.” Nibbler tapped on the nav-console he was using as
a seat and brought up the same charts. “If we make use of
sub-space spiderholes at these two locations…” He
highlighted coordinates on the touch-screen. “…We should
be able to cut the journey down from a decade to about a day.”
Fry asked in confusion. “Don’t you mean wormholes?”
these are made by planet-sized interdimensional spiders,”
Nibbler replied. “There are no interdimensional worms.”
punched in the coordinates and re-lit the main drive. The ship lunged
ahead on its new course, which took it away from any area of space
that was detailed in the map database. They were shooting onward into
the depths of uncharted territory.
be monsters’,” Leela said to herself, engaging the
autopilot, and the others stared at her. “It’s what
mariners used to write,” she explained sheepishly, “on
maps, when they reached the edge of what was known.”
grunted and stuffed his hands deep in his pockets. “That’s
because people are always afraid of the unknown,” he said
sulkily. “They prefer everything to be laid out, all simple and
predictable. Taking a chance on something new would be too scary, so
they just call it a monster and tell it they only like it as a
friend…” He trailed off. Leela was staring at him
with an unreadable expression.
those ancient mariners can bite my shiny metal ass,” Bender
said, completely missing the subtext.
turned away. “I’ll be in my hammock,” he said.
“Wake me when your stupid Universe needs saving.” With
that, he walked away, and Leela chewed her lip anxiously, wanting to
say something, but unsure of what.
and clunk of the bridge door opening and shutting seemed to echo with
Captain Yesterday’s problem?” Bender said.
am,” Leela replied guiltily.