Here it is! This part features the strangest joke I have ever attempted. So run away now!
Gorky:Ah, I understand now, and I'm glad you've forgiven me for the other thing too! I'm kinda like Fry, you know, he likes eight spoons of sugar in his coffee, and I like eight spoons of sugar in my fanfics.
say what now: You will never guess. (Well, I seriously doubt it anyway. heeheeheehee)
Futurama Nerd: Well, if you find yourself in Nova Scotia one day, drop me a line. I'e always wanted someone to take a bullet for me.
Oh, and PJ: Thanks for the guess, I'm gonna email you back soon!
“Aiiiiieeeee! We’re all gonna die!” Leela watched through a narrowed eye as the panicking redhead splashed through the water tugging on his hair helplessly. There wasn’t much point in trying to intervene. Eventually, Fry would tire himself out and she’d be able to talk to him like an adult. Until then, Leela leaned against the rock face, arms folded. She was the living picture of a calmness she didn’t feel.
When his well-thought-out plan for escape failed, Fry stopped his frantic pacing and turned to plan B. “Leela! Save us!”
For a second she did not reply, waiting to make sure she had his full attention. She was mildly surprised when Fry did not axe again, instead merely pleading with his eyes.
Satisfied that he was listening, Leela gave him a little bit of empty reassurance. “Relax, Fry. For one thing, panicking won’t do us any good, and for another, the water’s not even waist high.”
‘There’ll be plenty of time for panic later if we can’t get out of here.’ Leela thought grimly. In truth, she was as worried as Fry was. She didn’t understand the rising water, and it deeply troubled her. The cyclops hadn’t forgotten the reason that Fry was stuck in this place. Her inability to wake him up had brought guilt rushing back, along with torrents of bitter recrimination. Leela had to get them out of that cavern, had to save Fry, had to wake up and comfort her parents. She was a seething cauldron of emotion, but Leela refused to show her anxiety. To admit fear was to give it power. Certainly, it wouldn’t do Fry any good, no more than if he gave in to his own fear.
The violet-haired woman shook her head firmly, irritation, bourn out of that repressed fear, surged up within her. “Just shut up and let me think, will you?” she snapped at him heatedly.
“Fine, fine,” he replied, holding his hands up in a placating gesture. Silence, but for the steady trickle of water running over rock, reigned for a few minutes. That was as long as it took for Fry, his fear temporarily surrendered to Leela’s judgment, to get bored.
To alleviate the tedium, the delivery boy moved to the far opposite of Leela and began probing at it experimentally. The rock face was cold and smooth, made slick by the moisture in the air. There was no trace of moss on the uneven stone; it was utterly lifeless.
In the excitement of seeing Leela, Fry had forgotten that he had not been alone. What had become of his mother and cousin? For that matter, what had happened to his dad, and Bender? And what was with that brain guy? He glanced at Leela. Her eye was shut and she was obviously deep in thought. It struck Fry that she looked sad, and he cringed unseen at her weary expression.
As if she felt his gaze, Leela’s round eye snapped open and Fry quickly looked away.
“Fry? Did you see anyone when you were walking around before?”
Grateful for her question, which spared him from interrupting her, he eagerly replied, “Yeah! A bunch of people! And Bender! And this brain guy, from that time you don’t remember. And dad and mom and my cousin, just before the lights went out.” Deliberately, he left out the angry man. “Man, I haven’t thought of her since I came to the future.”
“Katy?” came the simple question.
“Yeah, how did- oh! You saw them too?!” he cried in a rare flash of insight.
“I saw Katy. She said she was your cousin- for real.” Leela put significance on her last two words. Fry blinked in confusion.
“For real? Well, I guess so. What makes a real cousin real? There are Care Bear cousins, right? Are there cousins in law? And what about those other things, second cousins. What are they, like twins?” he babbled incoherently, casting a desperate look at her.
“Never mind, Fry.” Leela rescued him from his own tangled thoughts easily. Unfortunately, it was much harder to rescue him from this prison. She stared at him suspiciously and he felt her solitary eye boring into him. “What else did you see?”
“Uh, well-” he was reluctant to bring up the man that had attacked him, or seemed to. He rubbed his head thoughtfully and knew Leela had seen the gesture. After a beat, she growled at him impatiently, surprising him with the intensity of her interest. “I heard some noises, screams,” he clarified when she prompted him with a raised eyebrow. “And then this guy came out of nowhere and attacked me with… something.”
“Did you recognize him?” Leela axed, eye wide.
Fry tried valiantly to picture his face clearly, but it was no use. “Sorry, Leela. It was so dark and so fast. I was scared… Uh,, that is, if I wasn’t such a brave guy, I would have been scared.” he quickly tried to cover, eyes darting nervously.
Leela rolled her eye. “Oh, get real Fry. Remember that time at the public pool?
Fry laughed in chagrin. “It looked like a spider.” Suddenly he snickered in amusement. “Remember the sign? ‘Community P___’. Heh heh, pee.”
“Uh, Fry, mortal peril here?”
“Huh? Oh yeah, right. You should relax more, Leela. I’m sure you’re gonna find some way to save us, like always. Just sit back and let it happen.” He stretched and started to sigh, when Leela leaned forward and grabbed his arm.
“Don’t you dare!”
“What?” the delivery boy feigned
“This water better not get warmer.” Fry had the grace to look at little embarrassed. “After all, this is your brain.” Leela gestured around the cavern before tapping him lightly on the forehead.
“Good point.” Fry acknowledged. Leela pulled them back to more important matters.
“Katy seems different, at least, different from all those other women that are running around in your head.”
Fry grinned sheepishly. “It’s a little crowded in here, isn’t it?”
Leela nodded, smiling. “So, what do you remember about her?” The redhead rubbed his hands together, brow furrowed in thought.
“Well, you know, we grew up together. I haven’t thought about this is so long.” Fry shook his head. He still wasn’t feeling quite right. Life outside his own head seemed blurry and very far away. “I think… I think we kinda went through some things.” He lost himself in the past. When Leela spoke, it startled him.
“What sorts of things?” Her concern gaze felt suddenly invasive, and Fry looked away. Memories came in fits and flashes, and they disturbed him in their vagueness. Katy was… scared? Crying? Or was that him? He didn’t know and so tried to gloss over it.
“Oh, nothing major, you know. Kid stuff. I don’t really remember, and anyway, none of it really matters now.”
“But maybe it does matter, Fry. Tell me about Katy, and maybe we can figure out more about that man. I think they’re connected somehow.”
“Stay away from my daughter,” Fry sighed.
“What?” Leela jumped on his words.
“That’s what he said-”
They were plunged into thick darkness and the sound of rushing water filled their ears. “Oh, not again.” Fry squeaked.
“What did you do?” Leela demanded.
“Nothing, I swear!” Fry tried to move forward and yelped as he tripped. Leela reached forward to where the water was being splashed around and hauled Fry to his feet. He clung to her, gasping and sputtering, trying to speak.
“Quiet, she hissed. Leaned up against her, Fry could feel her heart pounding through her wet tank top, but he was too frightened to care.
“Found you again, kid.” Once more, the dark voice came out of the darkness. “I told you that you couldn’t get away from me. But you just never listen, do you.” The deep-throated murmur came from straight behind them, all the more menacing for the velvet in his tone.
Fry moaned in dismay. They spun around. Leela tried to confront the man, though she could not see him. Something brushed by her, and she tried to track the noiseless movement.
“Who are you? Answer me!” she called, challenging the black air.
A cruel laugh was the only reply.
“This is the greatest injustice to ever fall down upon the noble name of Brannigan. Captain. Zapp. Captain Zapp Brannigan, that is.” The agent standing guard in place of the DOOP officer couldn’t resist briefly tossing off a mocking salute before returning to his watch. Brannigan had spent the last few minutes railing against his captivity.
“This is very, very bad.” Hermes said quietly to Amy.
“What’s that, soldier?” Zapp demanded,
staring into the Jamaican’s eyes. Hermes countered it with the fiery stare of a legendary limbo champion.
“I’m not a soldier, man. I’m a bureaucrat. Hermes Conrad, grade 35.”
“I’m not interested in your frivolities.” Brannigan waved his hands wildly at their surroundings. “Look where you’ve gotten me. I lost my ship, my command, my first officer. Oh, Kif! Why have you betrayed me?!” He bellowed dramatically at the sky.
Infuriated, Amy grabbed Zapp by the shoulders and started bellowing at him. “My Kiffy did not betray you! He wouldn’t!” Her voice dropped dramatically. “Nobody got you into this but you and, and” she searched for words, “you’re a bad captain!”
Zapp’s eyes grew big as tears gathered in them. “That’s mean.” he whimpered, before bursting into tears and wailing like a 250 pound baby.
The display shocked Amy into silence but the bawling continued. It was earsplitting and Hermes shot Amy a poisonous glance as Brannigan draped a meaty arm over the bureaucrat. “Now look what you’ve done,” he muttered to her, not caring whether or not Zapp heard him.
With an apologetic flinch for the effect her words had had on the ‘erstwhile’ captain, Amy tried to undo the damage. “There, there,” she comforted awkwardly through gritted teeth, “Maybe you just need more practice.
“I’ve been a DOOP captain for years, wah!” he sobbed melodramatically on Hermes’ shoulder.
“Uh, well, maybe you should consider another career.” she offered hopefully.
“But I wanna be a captain!” he squealed, causing even the guard to clamp his hands over his ears.
Pushed to his limits, Hermes cried, “Calm down! You’re a good captain,” he lied unconvincingly, “Tell him Amy!” When she hesitated, thinking of the horror stories Kif had told her, Hermes repeated, “Tell him now!” A tearful Brannigan looked expectantly at her, breath hitching.
“Oh, all right. You’re a good captain, Captain.” Amy forced out unhappily.
In an instant, his squalling disappeared as though it had never been. “You’re right about that, missy. Nobody out captains Captain Zapp Brannigan!” he cried triumphantly.
A mocking clap drew their attention to the agents standing outside the cell. The head agent was grinning at them, clearly amused. “Bravo,” he said simply. “Nice to know that if we ever need a show we can count on you, Brannigan.” His beleaguered cellmates were almost happy to see the agent.
The captain launched into an angry tirade. “Now see here!” He didn’t get far, however. The head agent held up a stern hand, holding a sterner weapon.
“I do see; I did see, and now I’m going to find out everything I need to know. Take him,” he said coolly, indicating Hermes.
Before the prisoners could protest, not that it would have done them any good, one of the agents dropped the force field while two others held lasers to prevent escape. Two more took hold of Hermes arms, and, ignoring Amy’s dismayed gasp dragged him out of the cell.
“I’ll have your rank for this!” came Zapp’s bellow. Andrew merely laughed.
“Fine with me, captain, as technically I don’t have a rank. One of the benefits of being a member of a secret government agency.”
The force field went back up, and the agents left Amy and the Zapper alone in the cell, with the guard continuing to watch over them. Amy mournfully watched them leave. When she turned back, Brannigan was openly admiring the engineering student.
“Well, now that I’ve gotten us a little privacy-”
“If you try anything, I’ll… I’ll tell Leela about the video and let her eviscerate you.” Amy threatened. “Or better still, emasculate you,” she added poisonously.
“I-” he began authoritatively, “have no idea what that means. No matter! I realize it’s going to be hard for you to keep your hands off me, but the situation is dire and we have no time for a lusty romp now.”
Amy sighed in exasperation. Still, at least she had managed to keep the romantic at bay for the moment. Zapp was frowning as he peered closely at the walls. “Is this lipstick?” he asked, gingerly touching it. He turned a suspicious glance at her. “What exactly have you been doing in here anyway with that other guy and not me?”
Hermes Conrad felt sick. He wasn’t sure what they were going to do to him, but he hoped it wouldn’t involve taxation… or cattle prods. He was restrained on a bed in the medical bay, and there were agents and crewmembers everywhere. Several of the crewmembers cast him apologetic expressions, for all the use it was to Hermes. The laser pointed at his head had convinced him not to struggle earlier, and now even if he wanted to fight back, there was no hope of escape.
Despite knowing that, Hermes thrashed wildly when he saw they were going to inject him with something. ‘Not good. Not good!’ his survival instinct was screaming at him. “Can’t we just talk about this? Do you have any kids? I do! A boy, who’s every bit as anal retentive as his old man. Twelve years old. Needs a father! I’m sure I have a picture somewhere-”
“Take it easy, now. You don’t want to be too worked up when you’re pumped full of this stuff,” the interrogation expect said calmly as he rolled up Hermes’ sleeve. “Stress can do all sorts of nasty things to you.” He chuckled lightly. “There was this one guy… well, you should have seen what we found during the autopsy.”
Hermes swallowed hard. Before he could say anything else, something cold touched his arm. In a painless hiss, the drug rushed through his system. Although he knew it was impossible, the bureaucrat could swear he felt it surge icily upwards into his brain. Abruptly, the ice melted and warmth suffused through the bureaucrat. On some level, he was aware that he was singing calypso with a goofy smile on his face, but he was far to relaxed to care. The thought amused him however, and he giggled.
“How do you feel?” came the echoing voice, interrupting his merriment.
Hermes tried to think about that. “I feel like sugarcane in a green snake field,” he replied, then frowned. That wasn’t quite right, was it?
“Is he under?”
“And how?” the second voice was amused. Hermes felt a little put out by that and tried to regain control of the situation like the control freak he was.
“This is no time for jokes people, that smelly freak tore up my office again. Somebody let the guinea pigs in there. I’m looking at you Bender.” He blinked, disoriented and attempted to figure out which of the two faces was the robot.
“Is that our guy?”
“Could be. Hey, listen up.” One of the figures reached out and tilted Hermes head towards him. “Who tore up your office?”
“That idiot red guy. I’d like to see him clam baked!” The groggy man tried to sit up, thrusting his fist into the air, but the rest of his muscles were not inclined to cooperate and he slumped back down bonelessly.
“Whoa. He’s pretty worked up for a guy flooded with Sodium Pentathol2: the new generation.”
“Must really hate the mutant. I wonder why.” More questions penetrated Hermes drug induced haze. “So you hate this guy?”
“Oh, I have for years.” Hermes replied conversationally, feeling almost chipper.
“What’d he do to you?” The dark-skinned man scowled.
“Not to me, to LaBarbara.”
“My wife, my beautiful, legally bound wife.” Hermes eyes narrowed in fury. “One look at Zoidberg and she’s having dreams about him!”
“Dreams?” questioned one.
“Zoidberg?” came the other, suspicion and wariness in the question. Hermes nodded vigourously, his head threatening to bob off his not-so-elegant Carribbean shoulders.
“Let me tell you something: there is nothing quite so humiliating as having your wife scream out someone else’s name at an intimate moment, particularly when it’s a hideous stinking crab monster!” His voice went higher and his accent grew stronger, “Oh, husband, you’re bein’ foolish, not that that’s unusual. I can’t be ‘held responsible for my dreams.’
The interrogators were no longer listening to his babble. “Look, tell us about the mutant.”
“Yes, Planet Express has a mutant on staff. Tell me about him.”
For a moment, Hermes was quiet, confusion written on his expressive face. “Him? Oh! The mutant. She’s alright, the best captain we’ve had in a good long while. We have an almost 65 percent success rate for deliveries now that she’s in command. That’s up from 24.”
There was cautious astonishment in the voice now. “She? We had that the mutant was a male in his mid twenties.” Hushed, alarmed conversation bubbled around him, too fast for Hermes to follow in his addled state.
“What about Philip Fry? He’s a member of the crew, isn’t he?”
“Officially, yes.” Hermes shrugged.
“Tell me about him.” Now they were finally getting somewhere.
“He’s a lazy, shiftless, clumsy burden, but he’s from the twentieth century, so he’s not in the union.”
“Where is he now?”
“In the sewers, with the mutants.” he replied easily, unconcerned about anything beyond LaBarbara’s continued faithfulness.
The agents continued to question Hermes, ferreting out information on the crew. It turned out that the bureaucrat did not know their exact current location, but he did know the general area where the New New York mutants congregated. In his loose-lipped state, Conrad gave up the location without much effort from his questioners.
Leaving Hermes to recover from the drugs, Andrew had a quick conversation with the doctor before heading back up to the bridge.
“Not quite what we wanted, but we have enough to report to the president. He’s going to want to know that the delivery boy is not our mutant.” Andrew shook his head at his own blindness. “I should have guessed that it was the cyclops we should have been looking at all along.”
“Maybe, but, in all fairness sir, you’ve seen the Planet Express personnel files. They don’t exactly boast the traditional space crew. How could you pick one freak out from the others?”
Andrew smiled ruefully, conceding the point. “Look after him, and get him back to the bridge when he can walk on his own.” As he left the bay, the man reflected on just how he was going to break the news to Nixon, and more importantly, how Nixon was going to react.
And miles to go before I sleep...