Whoo! Who wants a 4000 word update. Anyone? Anyone?
Now, I'm honestly scared about this part, because this is the contreversial part I've been going on about forever. Much is revealed. So, if you hate it, that's okay, but try to be gentle about telling me, if you would. It's not always an easy thing to show your work off to others. I'd be nice to you!
Becky: I'm not surprised anyone would ask to use that beautiful picture. What talent you have! (I did enjoy strecthing my french muscles a bit there.) Thank you for the compliment, it's very kind of you, and you always are.
Tom35: Wow! Thank you, you flatter me. It's so lovely to see how many people are posting in this thread. I hope you enjoy this next part.
Procyon: Congrats on the promotion! And it's so nice to see say what now finding love. She's a keeper!
NIC2001: Tu es tellement gentille, merci! If you ever finish your fiction, I'd love to see it, french or english. (I love getting the chance to practise.) You don't sound like an old man at all. (I'm 24 after all!)Your son sounds adorable!
say what now: Bravo, mon amie! You were definately runner up for PEELentine (actually, there's quite a crowd of you), Futurama Nerd and Nerd-o-rama (who I sooo didn't mean to leave out. Sorry, doll) beat you to it. Ah, it's good to be popular... with nerds, apparently.
Will you still love me if you hate this? (Puppy dog eyes)
Nerd-o-rama: My dear PEELentine who is a highly valued critical reader and a nice all around guy. Doped up Hermes was surprisingly challenging. Now if he was weepy drunk Hermes, that I could fly through.
It's your reaction that I am more concerned about than anyone else's. But I've got you til Valentine's day and hopefully I'll win you back by then.
“Good luck, sir.” The amusement was clearly evident in her voice.
“Thank you, Melissa. You’re enjoying this far too much.” His face was stony, but there was a glint of laughter in his eyes. She openly grinned at his discomfiture.
“It’s not everyday I see you taken down by someone only a foot high.”
“That’s without the massive robot body, Mel.” She laughed openly this time and Andrew returned to the matter at hand. “Put me through.”
The female agent quickly tapped in the code that went through Nixon’s secret priority communication line, which allowed them to contact him at any time. Heavy snoring came over the speakers.
“Mr. President, sir!” Andrew clipped the words smartly and with one enormous snort, Nixon woke.
“Hmm? What? Who dares disturb me during my conquering of Hollywood? Prepare to face the wrath of Nixon! Arroo!” The sleepy eyed president howled before he realized what was happening.
“It’s Agent Orange, sir, with news of the mutant!” He snapped out the introduction precisely, like a drill sergeant just out of finishing school. The Earthican President preferred to receive important information in that fashion and the agents indulged him if they knew what was good for them.
“Ah, yes, Orange. Very well, what’s the 411?”
“We interrogated one of the prisoners, the head accountant for the Planet Express Delivery Service. He revealed the rough location of the mutant, sir. It’s in the New New York sewer system with the other scum. We have put together a map of the approximate area where we expect the mutant to be.” He nodded sharply towards Melissa. “Sending it to you now sir.”
Nixon nodded approvingly, as much as he was able to. “Very good, man. They’ll be a top secret commendation in this for you. I know that Brannigan the Blunderer is not an easy obstacle to overcome.” The president looked around, puzzled. “Where is he, anyway?”
“He’s practicing his skills as a captain, sir.” Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as Melissa ducked her head in amusement.
“He could use it.” Nixon muttered. “ It’s high time we taught those twisted hulks of humanity who’s in control of this planet, above, on, and under the surface. Richard M. Nixon!”
“What? ‘However’?” The president frowned suspiciously at him. “If there’s been some sort of screw up you’ll regret ever hearing the handsome, powerful name of Richard M. Nixon!”
“Sir, are we certain of the identity of the mutant? Conrad identified another crew member as the Planet Express mutant, namely one Turanga Leela. We’ve identified her as the one eyed woman who assisted in the escape of Philip Fry.”
“But that makes no sense! We’ve already identified Fry as the test subject for the MMCD.” His voice lowered dangerously. “Unless someone’s been trying to make a McGovern out of me. What’s the location of the other possible mutant?”
“In the sewers, with Fry and Farnsworth.”
Nixon smiled deviously. “Then there’s no problem. We’ll go down into the sewers and capture them both. As I’ve always said, catch ‘em all and let Nixon sort them out. We’ll test them. The one that’s not a mutant will be executed; the mutant will be used to develop a working MMCD. And when I get my hands on that crooked scientist, he’s gonna envy them both.”
Andrew nodded, “And what are our orders, Mr. President?”
“Stay on the Nimbus for now, and keep an eye on Brannigan. I don’t want those prisoners getting loose and I know I can’t count on him to hold them forever.”
The agent grinned, “Don’t worry, sir. I won’t let Captain Brannigan get out of sight of the brig. Nimbus out.”
Behind him, Melissa laughed as she cut off their signal.
Leela pushed away from Fry, prepared to defend them both against the threatening presence. With a wicked, heartless smile, he turned his attention towards the cyclops. Unintimidated, or at least, giving a good impression of being unintimidated, Leela stepped forward, steely determination in her eye.
At long last, she could see the man clearly, and he wouldn’t have been a candidate for the Mr. Universe pageant, even if humans weren’t automatically disqualified. His dark eyes glowered at her from under a heavy brow and brown hair. His nose was bulbous and didn’t quite seem to mesh with the rest of his face, but all that would have been forgivable if it wasn’t for the disturbing way hatred twisted his features. He was a walking mass of ill contained physical, or perhaps metaphysical, violence, and there was a spark of irrationality in his cold stare.
Her ears registered a strangled moan from Fry but she had no time to question it as the man bolted towards her, a wave of cold darkness preceding him. When he got into range, the martial artist launched a flying kick towards him. A crushing impact slammed into her side and Leela crashed painfully to the ground.
Before she could process what was happening, Fry was dragging her off the ground, yelling desperately.
“Run! Run, now! C’mon Leela, fast!” The cyclops struggled to gather her long legs under her as Fry pulled her along, just ahead of the brute chasing them. The sheer, startling strength of his grip was enough to leave bruises on her arm. After a few seconds, she managed to get to her feet. Wrenching her arm back, she tried to free herself from his death grip and was again astonished when he didn’t release her.
Instead, he glanced back, allowing her a brief glimpse of the somber dismay in his eyes. There was no escape from the enclosed cavern and they could not run forever. Even Fry knew that, she realized, but that did not slow his pace.
“Fry! Let go! I can take this guy!” Recognizing the futility of their flight, Leela fought with the wild-eyed delivery boy, but carefully, not wanting to hurt him.
“No, no Leela, you can’t. You can’t!” His voice was shrill, a fact Leela knew would have embarrassed him if he’d had time for such things. Frustration and irritation warred madly within her; it did not help matters that her pride was stung by his unbelief in her ability to subdue the attacker.
“There’s no where to go!” With one fierce shove, Leela freed herself from him, but the push tipped him off balance and he fell in an ungainly heap, his kicking legs tangling with hers and tripping the cyclops.
They scrambled back to their feet, but the man was on her before Leela could offer any defense. Dark fog seemed to rush up to meet her as her attacker swung a hard fist towards her head.
Strangely, the cyclops felt no sharp impact. Instead, liquid ice raced up through her, closely followed by laughing dizziness. Strength left her legs, and she slipped to the floor, helplessly aware of Fry’s supporting her. Though her body was enveloped in a strange languidness, her mind was all too alert, angrily demanding some sort of response from her rebellious limbs.
“Leela? Oh no, don’t do this, Leela.” There was a strange quietness in his voice that she had heard only rarely and could not name. Sorrow, she thought, if she had to call it anything. ‘He thinks I’m dying,’ she realized, nearly laughing at the ridiculous idea. ‘I’m fine,’ she tried to reassure him, even as she listened for the enemy’s location, but her lips only twitched slightly and the message did not reach Fry. The world sank swiftly, disorienting her until she realized Fry had edged out from behind the cyclops in order to protect her.
“You are not getting any closer to her,” the redhead declared, a quaver belying the commanding tone he’d affected.
“I don’t have to,” came the cruelly amused response. “That thing isn’t even a bystander in this anyway. The man, who had merely watched Leela’s collapse in mild satisfaction, shifted slightly and folded his arms across his barrel chest, causing Fry to jump skittishly.
Leela managed a slight twitch of her own; her motor control was returning, but slowly, far too slowly to be of help to Fry, standing between her and the monster. She couldn’t even move her legs back to stop them from getting in the redhead’s way.
With an incoherent stream of curses, the man apparently tired of simply threatening Fry for the pleasure of his terror, and moved towards his new target.
Edging back instinctively, Fry kicked Leela, and flinched in apology. She barely felt the impact, focused on watching the confrontation. She could almost see defiance rise up inside her friend as he gasped and shuddered in alarm before spitting out a venomous attack. “I know you! I know who you are now! And I am not going to let you hurt another person, real or not!”
The man snagged Fry by the throat in a flash of movement and pulled the redhead towards his face. “You’re just a nothing kid, what do you think you can do anyway?” His voice dripped with contempt.
“He can change someone’s life forever.” The gentle feminine voice answered when the strangling delivery boy couldn’t. With an enormous effort, Leela managed to lift her head towards Katy, whose voice held utter conviction and no trace of fear. She smiled warmly at her cousin, still thrashing weakly in his captor’s grasp. “I’ve always wanted to return the favour,” she sighed.
Fry clawed desperately at the meaty hand clutching his throat, and suddenly the man let go. He fell heavily into the water and tipped his head up, mouth wide and nostrils flaring; his every hope in life had narrowed down to sucking oxygen into starving lungs.
Leela watched in stillness as Katy shrank from a confident women to a weeping girl under the man’s cruel gaze. If it were possible, the rage and madness burned even hotter in his menacing form. Punching the young teen under the chin, he growled furiously, “You worthless little burden, I brought you into this world and I can take you out again.” Then, quicker than sight, the two of them disappeared, Katy’s choked sob echoing after her.
Leela’s paralysis left her immediately, and she quickly stood and waded over to where Fry was shivering violently in the cold water. His frantic gasping alarmed her, and she knelt in front of him, calling softly. “Fry? Are you all right?”
However, he did not respond, eyes, cast downwards refusing to meet her worried gaze. “You need to answer me if you can. I don’t like the sound of your breathing.” Every bit of first aid training she’d ever had was running systemically through her brain. She touched him lightly on the neck where faint bruises had already started to appear. Finally, she got a reaction.
“Geez, Leela, I’m fine! Leave me alone.” Fry snapped at her and Leela quickly withdrew her hand. His breathing began slowing after the outburst. She waited patiently, watching him carefully, until he looked at met her eyes, grimacing. “Sorry.”
“No problem.” When he made no more effort to speak, she tried to draw him out. “You said you knew him. Do you?” Perhaps it had merely been a desperate attempt to unbalance the man.
But Fry gave the lie to that thought. “Yeah, well, I did know him. A thousand years ago, he was my uncle.” He shivered again, and Leela wished she could get them out of the cold water. Instead, she moved beside him, wrapping an arm around his shoulders to warm him as well as for emotional support. It was an odd, and a shaking experience to see the generally optimistic delivery boy so uneasy.
“I’ve got nothing but time, want to tell me about it? Maybe it will help us get out of here.” She smiled weakly, “Not that wandering through your brain has been anything but the greatest experience of my life.” Fry laughed lightly, and Leela took some comfort in that. After a minute, he began to speak, starting from the easiest point, Katy.
“We were close. I was closer to her than Yancy in some ways, ‘cause we didn’t argue so much. After her mom died, her dad, my uncle, kinda fell apart. Before that, he was a nice regular guy, but he started hitting the bottle, and then, he started hitting her.” Fry ducked his head sadly.
“We used to meet up outside school every morning. She wanted to make sure I was going, and I wanted to make sure she was okay.” He smiled at the memory. “Dad didn’t think much of school. After all, what’s the point of learning to spell when we were gonna be living in bunkers in a few years anyway?”
Fry grew solemn. “Things got worse, she’d have this scared look in her eyes, and she’d be trying not to cry. She stopped talking about home. Then, one day, she wasn’t there.”
Twelve-year-old Philip J. Fry waited anxiously under the beat up, rusted slide. The first bell had already rang and he had ducked out of sight to avoid the duty teacher. Katy was never this late.
Katy never missed school, even when she was sick. She didn’t like being home too long. The second bell rang and he closed his eyes, wondering about what to do. Finally the anxiety became too much for him and he decided to skip school. There were things in life more important that school. Dad had taught him that. 'We look after our own.'
Fry waited for a few moments until he was certain he wouldn’t be spotted before racing out of the schoolyard. He sped along the streets as fast as he could until a fierce cramp in his side forced him to slow down. But Fry didn’t stop. Gasping for air, and feeling the blood pounding in his ears, he walked to the tiny house where Katy lived.
It was nearly as run down as his own, and not nearly as large. He stepped up onto the porch and tried to peer in the windows. The little redhead boy tried to avoid his uncle whenever he could. There was an unreasoning anger in his eyes now, and Fry did not want to provoke it.
He peered through the cloudy glass but could make out nothing. He was about to tap on the door, when it occurred to him to try the backdoor. When he rounded the corner, he spotted Katy, curled up under the dilapidated deck, much as he had been, waiting for her at school. She didn’t acknowledge his presence.
Perhaps she hadn’t noticed him yet. “Katy, hi. Uh, you’re late.” She didn’t look at him, but the smallest whimper escaped her. Sick with worry now, Fry approached, trying to look her in the eyes, but she ducked away from him, scurrying in animal-like terror.
He dropped to his hands and knees and crawled in after her. “Katy? Katy, please, it’s Phil. What’s wrong?” He choked a little, desperately fighting back tears in his fear for her. He was far too old for crying. The lattice prevented her from moving farther, and Fry touched her shoulder gently.
“Katy?” She shivered violently, and turned to face him, but she would not meet his eyes. A large multicoloured bruise spread under her left eye. “Oh, Katy.” He breathed, feeling sick and panicky. He was in over his head. He didn’t know what to say or do, but Katy did. She started to cry, but it was noiseless, and altogether unnatural. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and bit his lip.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Was it, was it?” Fry trailed off, unable to force the words out. ‘Did your dad beat you up?’ just sounded so awful. Eventually she calmed a bit, and wiped her wet face.
“Sorry ‘bout that, Philip.” She whispered, gulping air to try to regain control.
Fry felt dizzy, and then he felt mad. In sudden fury, he jumped to his feet and instantly regretted it as his head cracked against a wooden beam supporting the porch. He yelped and collapsed to the dirt, clutching his head.
Wincing sympathetically, Katy urged him out from their hiding place. “Easy, now. Let me see.” Reluctantly, he allowed his distraught cousin to look over his head. “That’ll be a nice bump.” She said softly, eerily calm, face still wet with tears. Her gentle fingers soothed some of the hurt away and he sighed in relief.
Fry reached up and took her wrists, finally, she looked him in the eyes, and each felt sorrow for the misery they saw. “Katy-”
She shook her head and flashed him a patently false smile. “I’m fine, really. I- I tripped. You know how hard it is to get down the stairs with a laundry basket.” She laughed weakly.
He glared at her, frustrated and agitated. “You didn’t trip, Katy. You gonna start lying to me now?” His voice dropped, heavy with emotion. “Uncle Alec hit you.” Just saying it aloud made it suddenly all too real for the twelve-year old and he squeezed his eyes shut in useless denial.
The teenager sighed. “It’s not his fault. He was drinking too much. It’s no big deal, Phil.”
“It is a big deal!” He stood up, cautiously this time and began pacing back and forth. “Katy, you have to tell someone.”
“I did. I told you.”
“Someone who can actually do something!” She smiled at him affectionately, through her watery eyes.
“You make me feel better.” Katy said softly, and Fry tipped his head back, trying to prevent tears from spilling over. “You can’t tell anyone, Phil. Promise me you won’t tell.” He shook his head violently.
“Don’t ask me that!” he cried angrily, even as he puzzled over who he actually ought to tell. Mom wouldn’t pay attention, thinking he was telling stories. Yancy wouldn’t take it seriously unless it was right in front of him. Dad, well, maybe he could tell dad, but he was a little afraid of his reaction. Yancy Senior was often unpredictable.
What was he going to do?
“I am asking.” She said calmly, pleading with him.
“I didn’t promise not to tell, but I never did work up the nerve,” Fry said regretfully. “I started walking to school with her, and spending as much time with her as I could. I didn’t know what else to do, Leela.”
The cyclops groped helplessly for words. It had never occurred to her that the easygoing, almost perpetually cheerful delivery boy could have faced such a nightmare. Not for the first time, she reflected on the distance between Fry’s time and her own. For her, the twentieth century was ancient history, a mysterious time that was largely forgotten. For Fry, it was yesterday, and it was real and it was home.
“You didn’t- I never-” she sighed. “No one should have to go through that.” She reached over to him and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. He smiled at her and she felt something inside her leap. Leela mercilessly quashed the feeling. Now was not the time, and she doubted there would ever really be a time. “So, what happened? She said you saved her.”
His smile faded, taking on a wistful quality. “I tried to.”
It was dark, cold and clear and the skies would have been full of stars if the city’s light pollution hadn’t obscured them. Fry and Katy lay on their backs on the shriveled grass behind Fry’s house, staring up at the sky, imagining what the stars would look like. “I’m going to be up there someday.” The red-haired boy declared boldly, though in truth he knew it was never going to happen.
Katy smiled, still staring at the sky. “Philip J. Fry, space hero.” Delight flooded Fry, and gratitude. His cousin was wonderful about such things, dreamy, impossible things. She never laughed, or rolled her eyes like his teachers, or tried to steal it from him like Yancy, or told him, “Now son, between the minefield and the secret satellites and the cancer causing beam they’ve got set up in the Hubble, the only thing there’ll be in outer space is killer robots.” Nope, she just imagined it with him.
The chilly air was numbing his fingers, but he ignored it. “Yeah, that’s it, space hero! And you’ll be there too, just like Uhura!” Katy laughed and nodded.
“Think of all the great adventures we’re going to have.” An almost inaudible quaver entered her voice as her mood shifted. “And all the endings will be happy.” Anxious thoughts threatened to intrude and Fry tried to lighten her mood a bit.
“Don’t be silly, Katy. There aren’t going to be any happy endings.” She turned to face him then, surprised, before he continued, “No endings at all, just new beginnings.”
Katy turned her face again to the sky, but not before he saw her smile. “I suppose we could let Yancy come along too, as long as he had to stay on the Klingon’s Bird-of-Prey. I’m sure we’d get around to rescuing him eventually.” They laughed together then, bursts of hilarity cutting through the air.
As they calmed, Katy pulled herself up to a sitting position. “You’re a good friend.” When he shifted uncomfortably, she jabbed him in the ribs with a finger. “C’mon, lazy. It’s too cold to stay out here.”
Fry swatted her hand away and reluctantly hauled himself up. Playfully, the teenager attempted to poke him again, but he made no attempt to defend himself. Feeling his sudden tension she tried to make eye contact, questioning him silently, but he was not looking at her. If it had not been so dark, Katy would have seen Fry bleach of all colour. As it was, she did not miss the terrible alarm in his young eyes.
Fry tried to speak, but his throat had tightened and breathing was hard enough. Mirrored fright welled up in his cousin, and she turned slowly, to see a dark figure staggering towards them at a dizzying speed.
“Katy!” her father bellowed, spewing vile curses, uncontrolled rage in the cry. The girl did not wait to hear more, spinning to shove her stunned cousin towards the house.
“Run!” she shrieked, finding her voice before Fry could. He stumbled back, legs slow to react. He would have tripped altogether if Katy had not started dragging him forward.
Fry started moving before his mind began to function again. He was suddenly vividly aware of the trembling in his cousin’s arm, and the way her voice was catching with sobs. He could not see tears, but he heard them with strange clarity.
The violent monster was nearly on them as they reached the rickety stairs and something in the terrified twelve year old gave way.
With hysterical fury, Fry wrenched his arm free of Katy’s shuddering grasp, and turned back to face her insensible father. She yelled something, but the determined boy did not listen. In that moment, he crushed fear away from his thoughts, protecting his treasured cousin was all that mattered.
With a scream of defiance, bourn out of every TV hero he had ever seen, Philip Fry launched himself into the massive man, trying to push him away. However, even with his momentum, he bounced off the man’s chest and crashed to the ground. Agonizing pain flared in his wrists and elbows, and Katy’s father turned cold eyes towards the helpless child who was always getting between him and his daughter.
Fry got up and took a swing at him, aiming for the crotch since he could not reach the behemoth’s face. Heartlessly, the angry man deflected the blow and grabbed Fry by the neck, swinging him nearly off the ground before releasing the choking child. Weeping hysterically, Katy latched onto his arm, trying to protect her younger cousin, but her father was now determined that the interfering little punk would suffer.
“Katy, run!” Fry gasped past his abused throat. Without even looking at her, the enraged man shoved her off his arm and advanced menacingly on the boy who was struggling to his feet. Frantic, Katy decided she couldn’t help Fry this way. Blocked from the porch, she raced around to the front door, desperately looking for help.
Despite his predicament, Fry felt a wave of relief when she disappeared. At least Katy was safe. He didn’t have more than a second to relax before her father grabbed a twisted hunk of metal from the junk pile. “I am going to teach you a lesson,” he growled as Fry scrambled away from him.
After what seemed like centuries, the frightened kid managed to get his legs under him. He started to run but only managed a few steps before a solid arm seized him and dragged him back. A painful kick sent Fry to the ground again, knocking the wind out of him.
Tears streaming down his face, he stared despairingly up at his uncle, but found no rationality there. With a murderous expression, he raised the makeshift weapon over his shoulder. Too young to watch death coming, Fry squeezed his eyes shut before the universe exploded into pain, then darkness.