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Author Topic: A Different View  (Read 2041 times)
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DOOP Secretary
« Reply #40 on: 11-26-2007 07:50 »
« Last Edit on: 11-26-2007 07:50 by coldangel_1 »

a note to the shippers: please don't kill me. I'm too ugly to die.

Oh, I'm sharpening my machete. Frankly, after this effort, I don't know how you can have the gall to show your face in the shipper thread.
You aren't one of us, Arch.
You're an outsider.

EDIT: Shitarsecockwhore, I accidentally knocked it onto a new page, sorry.

Space Pope
« Reply #41 on: 11-26-2007 08:52 »

It happens. People are smart enough to realise there's a previous page and a lot of recent updates so they'll read it IF THEY KNOW WHAT'S GOOD FOR THEM. Oh wait, that last bit was meant to be in my head...

Don't you worry though, I may be an outsider but I know what sells around here. You shippers may well enjoy my next fic.  smile

Space Pope
« Reply #42 on: 11-29-2007 04:57 »
« Last Edit on: 11-29-2007 04:57 »

Just a short one today. Go read the previous page of the thread if you think there's a sudden gap somewhere or if nothing makes any sense.

Also, previous message to shippers still stands. I'm really not evil, I'm just born that way.


Twenty-eight hours. It wasn't their longest trip, or the furthest they'd flown, but on those trips Fry hadn't been trying to avoid anyone. Now she wasn't sure if there was anyone on the ship she could even talk to. Bender was still trying to work out whether he wanted to accept her, Hermes wasn't talking, LaBarbara was talking too much and Leela was... busy. About an hour after take-off she'd put Amy in charge - Amy! - and disappeared into the bowels of the ship with Samuel for what she claimed was going to be a tour.

"Yeah right," Fry muttered. She stared at the wall of her cabin - adorned by a poster of some hunk Amy was lusting over, plus a few pictures of Kif and some other flotsam. Amy was probably the only person she could talk to and conversations with her were usually quite limited, as she'd found out during the first few days of sharing her cabin. What had seemed cute and familiar to Fry as a man was just boring and repetitive to Fry as a woman. "To hell with it."

She stood up from the bed and crept out into the corridor. Empty. Fry walked toward the flight deck, her stockinged feet silent on the composite decking, and paused at the entrance. Amy was slouched in the captain's chair with her feet up on the control column, snoring. Beyond her, Bender was still lounging on the couch, though the haze of cigar smoke was gone and a bottle of cheap liquor was propped up on the arm.

Fry crept around the edge of the flight deck until she could see Bender a little better. He was reading what seemed to be another "how to talk to women" instruction manual. Fry shook her head and smiled at the thought of Bender actually trying to learn something. Perhaps he wasn't such a bad friend. She edged back out of the flight deck and padded along the corridor, looking for somewhere quiet that wasn't her cabin.

She passed down through the galley, paused for a moment and wondered if she should get herself a snack, but then decided against it. It would only end up on her- Fry shook her head to try and clear the thought out. She quickly left the galley, returned to the top deck and carried on toward the aft, where there were a few nooks and crannies to be found in the engineering spaces.

Just before the 'brain' room Fry found a small access panel open. She peered in; a short crawlspace lead into a larger chamber right up against the inner hull. It seemed quiet enough, so Fry crawled in and shuffled along until she was able to stand almost upright.

The chamber was quite long, taking in a fair portion of the ship's aft section. Further along Fry could see more access ports. She stooped along the chamber, looking for somewhere to curl up for a while.

Suddenly Fry heard voices echoing from an access hatch up ahead. The hatch was unsealed and left partly open, letting a sliver of light shine down into the crawlspace. Fry edged toward the hatch and peered through the gap left at its edge. Her stomach bucked; she could see part of Leela's cabin; the voice was Samuel's. Fry shuffled into a more comfortable position, her heart racing even as she tried not to think about what she was doing. She put her head back against the bulkhead and listened.

"You still haven't told me what's between you and Philippa," Samuel said, his voice sounding a little sleepy. There was a rustling of bedsheets and a momentary silence that Fry's mind filled with all sorts of disturbing mental images. She bit her knuckle again in an effort to keep silent.

"That's... it's a long story," Leela eventually said. More rustling, and then a thump as someone got out of bed and started pacing. A shadow passed across the hatch.

Samuel's turn again. "We have plenty of time, you know," he said.

"There are a lot of things we could do with that time," Leela replied with a husky voice. Fry tried to think about something, anything else. Pancakes pancakes pancakes... and coffee... damnit!

"Give me a break, Leela, I'm worn out..."

"Ohh... poor Sam." More sheets rustled, and then another lengthy silence followed. "All right, even if I tried to explain everything you wouldn't believe me. I still don't understand all of it myself."

"Try me. Come on Leela, seriously, I'm all ears."

"You're all something," Leela said. Samuel chuckled. More silence. Fry almost imagined she could hear-

"You love her, don't you," Samuel said suddenly. The sheets rustled again and someone, presumably Leela, suddenly paced to the far side of the cabin. "Oh come on Leela, it's obvious that there's something between you two. You're more than just friends."

"It's complicated."

"Complicated? This ship is complicated. The Espresso machine in my shop is complicated. This..." A second set of feet thumped against the deck. "Leela, I'm sorry, I didn't mean-"

"No, it's ok. It's fine. It's just difficult to explain."

"It's all right. If you don't want to talk about it, I'll understand," Samuel said. "After all, who am I to judge?"
"You're a good man," Leela replied. She let out a sigh, and the bed creaked as they both sat down again. "The truth is, I did have feelings for Fry, and she had feelings for me at one time, after a fashion... I... I sort of blew it. Something changed, I can't really say what. I didn't know how I felt. I still don't know now but she was... oh, it's too complicated."

"She seems to have gotten over it pretty well," Samuel said.

"Yes, she does." There was doubt in Leela’s voice, which gave Fry a moment to pause. "She's a good friend. In fact she's the best friend I've ever had, always so quick to forgive me and forget mistakes I've made, but I only noticed recently. These last few months have been the best of my life in a lot of ways. I feel... free, around her, like I can tell her things that I can't tell anyone else."

"Even me?"

"Hey, some things man was not meant to know," Leela replied playfully. More silence. "Wow, how did you know about that..."

"Lucky guess."

"Ahh..." Leela giggled and the bed creaked again.

"Sooo, did you two ever-"

"That's really none of your business."

"Oh. Well. Are you ever going to explain this to me or will I just end up with the word 'complicated' tattooed on my forehead?"

"I might do that anyway," Leela said. "Or perhaps down here... hey, I thought you said you were worn out!"

Fry shuffled out of the crawlspace and moved as far down the chamber as she could, her palms sweaty and her heart still racing. She hunched up at the far end of the chamber, near to where she had originally crawled in. Best friend? Best friend had always been part of what she'd wanted 'before', though not all. As far as Fry knew, Leela had never talked about her like that before. A tear trickled down her cheek but she ignored it, preferring to concentrate on the warm feeling just underneath her breast, where the void still lurked.

Fry crawled out of the access and sealed it up. She dusted herself down, looked about to see if anyone had seen her, and then crept back to her cabin.

For a while she just sat on the bed with her chin resting on her hands as she stared at the wall. A faint smile would brush her lips every now and then. Eventually, though, the boredom set in. Fry looked around the cabin; her eyes came to rest on the dress hanging in the half-open closet, still wrapped in plastic. Taunting her.

Fry walked up to the dress and looked at it. The plain white material shimmered as she lifted it, like silk, but somehow lighter and with more intensity. She peeled back the plastic and lifted the dress from its hook, then carried it over to the mirror, where she wrapped the airy cloth over her front and posed a few times. For once Amy had let sense override her random shopping urge. The dress was perfect.

Space Pope
« Reply #43 on: 12-03-2007 16:11 »



"Papa Echo Sierra zero zero one, Eridani Orbiter Control, you are cleared for pre-entry orbit at level one three two zero azimuth delta fifteen."

"Copy," Leela said, concentrating on her readouts. "Level one three two zero. Estimate perigee in... fifteen minutes."

"Copy papa echo, set transponder to niner zero seven two and contact entry control on seven seven five point five, good day."

"Copy, niner zero seven two, goodbye," Leela said, snapping her fingers at Fry, who quickly dialled in the transponder code and new contact frequency. "Damned Eridanis, always so uptight about following the rules," she muttered, before activating the comms again. "Hello entry control, this is Papa Echo Sierra zero zero one on alpha delta, uh, fifteen, level ahh... one three two zero perigee zulu thirteen, requesting vectors for entry to Fort Baker spaceport, over."

"Hello Papa Echo Sierra this is entry control, level one three two acknowledged, please maintain your present orbit and await instructions."

"Dammit. I mean, copy that." Leela turned off the comms and set the autopilot to stabilise their orbit. She twisted sideways in her seat and glared at the planet over Fry's shoulder. Fry sat back in her seat and smiled at Leela until the other woman noticed. "What?"

"Oh, nothing," Fry said, still smiling. She turned back to her console. "Looks like you gave Samuel a very thorough tour of the ship considering the amount of time you took."

Leela swallowed and looked away. "Well, it's got a lot of interesting features," she said, blushing slightly. She looked up at Amy who just shrugged, then back at Fry, who was smiling again. "You seem to be in a very good mood."

"Oh yes, most definitely," Fry said, widening her smile a touch. Maybe a little too much. She put her arms over the back of her chair and spun it a little. "Wouldn't you be? I'm going to what promises to be a great party on another world with my best friends. Why wouldn't I be happy?"

"When you put it like that..." Leela rubbed her nose thoughtfully, her earlier moment of embarrassment forgotten. "It's just a bit sudden. When we left you seemed about ready to jump out of an airlock, especially when Samuel came on board."

Fry shrugged. "I prefer being in a good mood," she said. She sat a little more upright and smiled again. "I was jealous of you two, in fact I think I still am jealous, but I'm happy for you as well. If I can't be happy for my best friend..."

Leela gave Fry a quizzical look. "That's good to hear, Phi, but it's still a little odd. Normally you're only this happy when you're about to do something stupid."

"Like jumping out of an airlock?" Fry winked at Leela. "I'm just happy," she said glancing at Amy and then back Leela. They both looked at her with doubtful expressions. "Really!"

Leela shrugged and turned back to her console. "Be that as it may... oh what the hey, if you're happy then you're happy. What the hell is keeping these people?"

"You know," Amy said, "we could always try and use your connections to get our slot bumped up."

"You mean call Zapp? No way!" Leela folded her arms. "I wouldn't call that self-impressed blowhard for help if I was stuck in a hole and he had the only rope in existence."

Leela nodded, satisfied that she'd made her point, just as the comms crackled to life again.

"Papa Echo Sierra zero zero one please adjust orbit to holding level two two zero zero, delta zero and acknowledge when complete. Estimated holding time eight hours. Over."

Amy and Fry stared at Leela. She put her hands up. "All right..."


"Leela. So, we meet again. The game is a on the other foot." Zapp's face filled the viewscreen as he leaned forward and smiled benevolently. Leela folded her arms and glared at him. "To what do I owe this highly arousing pleasure?"

"You understand this is purely a business call," Leela said, maintaining her glare. Zapp raised an eyebrow and then tilted his glass in acknowledgement.

"It's certainly a very erotic business call," he said.

"Cram it Captain. You're going to call up Entry control and tell them to give us a priority landing slot."

"And in return?"

Leela lowered her head for a moment, resting an hand on her forehead. She let out a frustrated sigh. "You don't get anything, Zapp. If we're stuck up here for the next eight hours we'll miss the conference."

"Ahh, tut tut Leela, every fair turn deserves another scratch on the back! This is business after all... spend the evening with me."


"Half the evening," Zapp persisted, putting his drink down.

"No." Leela's voice remained firm. Zapp walked toward he viewer, an almost anguished expression on his face. He seemed about ready to plead with Leela, but at the last moment he looked aside. Leela cocked her head. "Emotional blackmail won't work twice, Zapp," she added.

"Oh. Well." Zapp's composure returned almost instantly. "How about one dance?"

"I wouldn't even consider it."

"Then I'm afraid you're in orbit for the next eight hours," Zapp replied formally. "Good evening Captain." He leaned forward to switch off the viewer.

"Oh, hell, wait!" Leela glanced at Fry and Amy. "All right, one dance. But you don't touch me anywhere except the hip, shoulder and hand or I'll have your balls as earings. Got me?"

"I... why yes," Zapp said, a leering smile creasing his lips. He gave Leela a mock salute. "I shall see you within the hour."

The screen blanked out. Fry let out the breath she'd been holding for most of the conversation. Some distant memory had twinged at her in oddly familiar ways after Leela's last threat. She'd almost felt sorry for Zapp.

"What are you going to tell Samuel?" Amy asked, glancing toward the back of the flight deck. Leela shrugged.

"Something. He'll understand, and hopefully this is the worst that will happen on this trip." She strapped herself in, waiting for the radio call. "Fry, go let everyone know we'll be landing soon," she said.

"Gotcha," Fry said with a cheery smile. She turned to leave, but Leela grabbed her arm and pulled her close enough to whisper.

"Samuel isn't in his cabin. I was, uh... showing him my diary."

"Sure you were," Fry said with a wide smile. She patted Leela's arm. "I won't tell anyone."


"Though it was pretty obvious really," Fry added as she reached the flight-deck door. Leela scowled at her and tried to get up, but her seatbelt yanked her back into her seat.

"Don't push your luck," she growled at Fry.


Fort Baker Spaceport was barely worth of the name, consisting of a pair of landing pads with two huge hangars behind them and a few auxiliary buildings a short distance away. Snow sputtered across the sky and drifted up against buildings as the evening drew in, but otherwise failed to make an impression on the landscape thanks to the constant easterly wind that blew across the tundra to the east. The Planet Express ship wobbled slightly as Leela fought against the wind, but settled down perfectly on the pad. She was towed into the hangar almost before her engines were shut down.

Several ships were arrayed across the hangar floor, mostly the transports of visiting dignitaries not quite important enough to warrant a landing slot and welcome at Fort Abel in the Eridani capital. The crew surveyed the ships as they were towed into place near the back of the hangar, wondering who they belonged to. Leela peered at the wall directly ahead before completing her final shut-down.

"All right, time to leave," she said to the assembled crowd. She glanced around the bridge as the crew and their passengers trooped out, then slipped the keys out of the control column and dropped them in her pocket.

A loading bot was waiting for them at the foot of the gangway. "Come on, hurry up people, I don't have all day," it yelled, flapping an irritated crane arm at them. "Bags go in the back, heavier gear goes in the middle and no riding!"

Bender and Fry looked at each other and quickly lifted their feet from the bot's deck. Fry chuckled and pinched at her arm. Hermes cleared his throat.

"Now listen up you lackadaisical laggards," he said, pulling a clipboard from his ever-present briefcase as the bot slithered away. He consulted the papers on the board for a moment. "Our cars will be arriving in precisely ninety seven seconds which gives me just enough time to tell you the followin details. We're stayin in the same hotel that is hostin the conference, thanks to your Captain Brannigan, Leela, and we have passes for the after-conference dinner only, which means no wanderin around the city and no tryin to sneak out of the dining room or into other parts of the building. Especially you two," he added, pointing at Leela and Samuel, who both gasped and tried not to look guilty. Hermes looked up at the sound. "Oh. I meant you two."

Hermes shifted his accusing finger to Bender and Zoidberg. Bender threw up his hands in disgust. "Oh come on, what fun is a place like this if I can't rifle through other people's belongings?"

"You aren't here to have fun! And Zoidberg, I had to promise you'd stay away from the kitchens before I could even requisition the forms to apply for the permission to inquire about extending your visa, so you make sure you stay in plain sight at all times, you hear me? No kitchens, and no rummaging in the garbage."

"Aw..." Zoidberg slouched and made a sad bribbling noise.

There was a loud tooting outside, accompanied by the sound of a pair of hovercars pulling to a noisy stop. Hermes looked at his watch. "Ooh right on time. I love this place," he said with a distant smile. LaBarbara rolled her eyes.

A pair of limousines were waiting for them outside. Amy almost squeaked with joy at the luxury of their interiors and pushed her way to the front of the group, where she leaped into the first limo and spread herself out on one of the seats. "Wow, this is incredible," she said, fingering a bottle of what turned out to be a local and very expensive sparkling wine.

"I'm sure you get this all the time when you're at home," Leela said, climbing in opposite Amy. She cuddled up to Samuel as he sat down. Fry consciously looked away, glancing out of the door, where Bender was protesting at having to sit in the same car as Zoidberg. Their car pulled away a moment later.

"I don't get this sort of thing back home, mom and dad are pretty spartan when it comes to cars," Amy said, peering into cupboards and hatches. "Neat, a Ninplaybox three-thousand!"

"Ooh, let me see that," Fry said, pushing herself along the seat. "Does it have Space Invaders?"

"I... I don't think so," Amy said, poking at the controls with an unsteady finger. Fry grimaced and sat back.

"Man, I forgot, you don't have that any more..." She put her arms over the back of the seat and sighed sadly. "It's strange what you miss most," she added with a slight shrug. Leela gave Fry an odd look.

Samuel sat forward a little and peered at the Ninplaybox. "Space Invaders. Isn't that an old videogame?"

"Yeah, I was one of the top scorers on it when I left the twentieth century," Fry replied. She closed her eyes and thought back to when she would spend hours on the arcade machine in Pannuci's. "I used to be a hotshot at that game, played it all the time when I wasn't on deliveries. One time I got my name on every single score slot, until some punk kid tried to beat my top score. I showed him a thing or two... of course then Mr Pannuci turned off the power and wiped it all."

"I thought most twentieth century women weren't into that sort of thing."

"Oh I wasn't a..." Fry's eyes snapped open. She tried to hide her sudden acute embarrassment behind a cough. "That is, I was-"

"Philippa wasn't an average woman," Leela said, putting a hand on Samuel's shoulder. She wrinkled her brow and tried to look pleading. "It's..."

"Let me guess," Samuel said, slumping back in his seat. "Complicated, right?"

Leela nodded. "Uh-huh..."

Samuel shrugged and leaned his head back. He took a deep breath, let it out and smiled a little. "A riddle inside a mystery wrapped in an enigma," he said quietly, then glanced out of the window. "Oh, I never thought I'd see one of those in my lifetime."

They had pulled up at a checkpoint manned by a nervous pair of local militia who were being watched over by a hulking Ruklisk. The terror stood a little apart from the militia, paying little heed to the humans as it watched the passing vehicles. Now and then it would shift an insectile leg or shuffle its spiky bulk as it craned its torso for a better view of the road. The alien's spines were slowly wafting up and down around its face and neck, concealing part of its face from view every so often, apparently a sign of agitation and boredom. He flicked a clawed hand at the car and grunted something unintelligible to the senior militiaman. The militiaman nodded and waved the car through the checkpoint.

"And Zapp stabbed one of those things?" Leela peered through the back window at the receding checkpoint. "He's braver than I thought..."

"As long as you don't get any ideas," Samuel said, taking Leela's hand with both his own. They smiled at each other. Fry managed to suppress her almost involuntary urge to make a retching noise. "He can have his dance if he wants it, but you're saving the last for me."

"Glech, come off it you two! All this sweetness is making my teeth rot."

"Oh, but when you're flinging yourself at Lieutenant Kroker it's all okay?" Leela frowned at Amy, but mixed it with a wicked smile. Amy primped her hair and looked away. "Not that you'll get much of a chance," Leela added, a look of doubt creeping on to her features as she looked out at the city. Ruklisk occupiers seemed to be standing on every other street-corner, whilst very few of the locals seemed to be out. Those that were on the streets were either pressed against the walls, too timid to even cross the streets, or had a strange glazed look in their eyes as they plodded about their business.

"I hate to ask a stupid question, but did anyone actually think about what was going to happen to Eridani when the Ruklisk take over?" Leela looked around the car. Nobody answered. She turned back to watch the streets, where a small group of locals were trailing behind a Ruklisk like tame animals, all of them wearing the same turgid look on their faces. "Zapp, what have you got us into?"

Space Pope
« Reply #44 on: 12-07-2007 16:47 »

Someone tell me if these updates are too frequent.  wink

Fry sat on her bed and watched the wall. It was an interesting wall. For starters it wasn't Amy, and it wasn't naked. She twiddled her thumbs and traced a pattern from the floor to the ceiling.

"Come on Phi, it's not like you haven't seen it before," Amy said from somewhere over Fry's shoulder. Fry shrugged.

"Different circumstances," she said.

"But you're a woman now!"

"I didn't particularly like seeing naked men when I was a man," Fry replied, closing her eyes as Amy skipped into view. She risked a look. "Oh, underwear at last..."

"I can't help it if I'm a free spirit," Amy said, lifting a gown from one of her bags. She hugged it to her chest and spun around. "What do you think? Green or blue?"

"Uh... purple," Fry said, pointing at the hem of a dress that was hanging from another bag. She shrugged. "I like purple."

"Well, I'll try it, but I was leaning toward the green myself," Amy said. She pulled a few more dresses out and laid them on her bed, then stood and stared at them. Fry turned and looked at her dress, once again hanging in its plastic cover. She sighed.

Leela peeked around the door and frowned. "You two had better hurry up or we'll be late."

"Oh keep your hair on," Amy said. She closed her eyes and started to ip dip the dresses on her bed. Leela scowled at her and then looked at Fry.

"Surely you can't be having trouble deciding too," she said with a wry smile. Fry shrugged and stared at the dress again, then looked at Leela.

"To be honest, it's a little odd."

"You've been wearing women's clothes for six months, how is this any different?" Leela walked over and sat down next to Fry, resplendent in a long black ballgown that glittered and sparkled like the night sky. She put her arm around Fry's shoulder and squeezed her a little. "Still, if you need help with anything..."

Fry looked at Leela, wondering if now was a good time to mention the decisions she was going to make. There were so many things... then a thought crossed Fry's mind. "Actually there is something you can do," she said, and gave Leela a nervous smile.


Bender tip-toed down the hall, moving from doorway to doorway the way he imagined soldiers and criminals did when they wanted to remain hidden. He reached the end of the hall and laughed quietly to himself as he started to probe at the the door he found there.

After a moment the lock clicked and the door slid open. Bender peered in expectantly, his eyes scanning around for anything valuable. "Aw... crud. Another bust. Doesn't anyone have anything worth stealing around here?"

He turned from the room, making sure the door closed before he left, and made his way further down the corridor. "Perhaps there's something on the ground floor... ooh, they have safes in these places!" Laughing, Bender made his way to the elevators and took a car to the lobby. A concierge behind the desk gave him a haughty stare.

"Robots are not allowed out without an accompanying owner," he said sternly, pointing at Bender. "Do you have an owner?"

"No, but I wasn't planning on going outside either," Bender replied. He walked over to the front desk and leaned on it. "Have you got safe around here? My... 'owner', thinks I need to be put in secure storage for a bit. I'm very valuable to him. I mean her."

The concierge looked down his nose at Bender as if not quite able to tolerate Bender's presence. He consulted a small book, which he then tucked into his waistband just inside his jacket, and smiled briefly and formally at Bender. "This way."

Bender followed the concierge into a room toward the back of the hotel. A large safe door filled most of one wall. A row of eight combination locks were equally spaced across the door, though the concierge didn't seem to bother with them when he opened it. He simply slipped a key into a slot hidden behind one of the locks, twisted it twice and then pulled on the door-handle.

The safe door swung back silently. Air gusted past as the pressure equalised and Bender couldn't help rubbing his hands together with almost undignified glee. He glanced at the concierge. "So I just go in there, right?"

"Indeed. When will your owner wish to retrieve you?"

"Oh you can just come and let me out in about, oh, eight hours," Bender said, shuffling forward. He almost skipped across the vault's threshold and paused inside. Bright lights bathed the safe, which was painted a stark white inside, lined by hundreds of compartments and drawers. Larger items were piled here and there on the floor. Bender laughed quietly and crept forward.

He was just opening the first drawer when he realised that the safe door hadn't been closed. He turned and looked over his shoulder. "Hey, what's the-"

A loud, alien growl echoed through the safe and Bender's voice faded. He crept back toward the door and peered around it; a pair of Ruklisk were standing over the cowering concierge, who seemed to be pleading.

"Please, I will do anything, just... just let me go."

One of the Ruklisk reached out and grabbed the concierge by his neck, lifting him from the floor. "You think we would let a perfectly useful slave go running away?"

"But I'm too-"

"It doesn't matter what you are now, Hu-mawn," the second Ruklisk said, fluffing its spines menacingly. Leather creaked as the creature reached back and plucked one of its spines from its back, with barely a gasp of pain. "These creatures make such squishy slaves," it continued, eyeing the spine. It took out a knife and started whittling the end until a spit of bright green fluid began to ooze from it.

"They are not as squishy as the koslety in charge of their Democratic Order of Planets." The first Ruklisk laughed and held up the concierge again. "Do you have family, hu-mawn? Friends?" The concierge nodded. "Well say goodbye to them. I would say they might miss you, but by now they probably don't even know who you are."

The concierge struggled against the grip around his neck, legs flailing uselessly as he tried to wriggle from the Ruklisk's grasp to no avail. The second Ruklisk held up the spine and peered at it with satisfaction. He glanced at the first Ruklisk, who turned the concierge around and held him so that he was leaning forward. The second Ruklisk held the spine up and quickly stabbed it into the back of the Concierge's head. The man shrieked in pain and fell limp. Then he shrieked again as the spine's poison began to leech under his skin, turning veins and arteries around the back of his head a lurid, necrid green. The Ruklisk dropped him to the floor.

"This is the part I always love," he said, taking out his knife. He started to trim his claws while the concierge writhed on the floor, foaming at the mouth. After a while the man's thrashing died down and he lay still. The Ruklisk examined his nails and put the knife away. "Wake up, slave."

The concierge opened his eyes and sat up. His eyes were glazed and unblinking, his face slack and devoid of emotion. He pushed himself up and stood a little unsteadily, then slowly turned to face the Ruklisk. The alien pair seemed satisfied with this and turned to leave.

"Isn't it so convenient that these slave species always put themselves at our mercy," one said. The other grunted in agreement.

Bender tried to back into the safe. He almost made it, but tripped over a group of statues that clattered to the floor with a horrendous clanging noise.

"Eeep..." Bender scrabbled at the floor and tried to find somewhere to hide, but it was too late. One of the Ruklisk peered around the door and saw him. Bender sat up and looked back at the alien. "Uh... hi?"

The Ruklisk didn't bother answering but simply raised a gun and fired at Bender, blowing him apart.


The bathroom was cool and surprisingly dry, and quite spacious, though Fry had chosen it simply because she was about to do something that needed no distractions, which in turn meant getting away from Amy. She leaned over the sink and stared at the mirror.

Leela drew out her lipstick and held it out to Fry. "Now I don't know what experience you have with these things, and frankly if it's more than a year old I don't want to know." She lifted the cap and twisted until the applicator appeared. "Hold it close to your mouth and then move it slowly out from the middle."

Fry took the lipstick and stared at it for a moment. It was a hot pink, which looked quite attractive on Leela but might not work for her, though obviously she wouldn't know unless she tried. With great care she held the applicator near her bottom lip and pouted. Her hand hovered for a moment. "I'm not sure I can do this."

"Oh give it here," Leela said, grabbing the gloss. She lifted Fry's face and looked at it. "Your lips are quite thin, perhaps we can just plump them up a bit," she said as she waved the gloss over Fry's mouth. Fry felt a momentary greasy sensation as the gloss was layered on, which disappeared as it cured and bonded. "There, now make a kissy face again."

Fry pressed her lips together and then licked at the gloss. It felt almost invisible. She looked in the mirror. Leela had done a surprisingly good job, filling out her lips just a little without exaggerating them. Fry turned her head this way and that, admiring the way the gloss brightened up her face without making her look slutty. "Wow, look at me."

"If you want I can put on a little foundation and-"

"No, no this is fine," Fry said, touching her cheeks for a second. She licked her lips again. "I figured I should make an effort but I don't want to go overboard."

"Sensible girl." Leela dropped the gloss back in her bag. "Now, go get changed so we can hit the party. I think Amy will be done by now."

Fry nodded. She put her hand on the door handle, then paused and turned to look at Leela again. "Thanks, Leela. You're the best friend I could have right now."

Leela blushed and smiled.


Fry stood in front of a full-length mirror and admired herself again. The dress was more than perfect, it made her look good, even if she did say so herself. She twisted this way and that, making sure she wasn't snagged or wrinkled in an embarrassing way, even though she knew Amy was behind her somewhere, fuming at Fry for taking so long to change. Leela had gone off with Samuel several minutes ago and Amy was eager to get into the party. Fry didn't care. She was enjoying the moment.

"All right, you've seen yourself some more, now can we go?" Amy stalked over to the door and pulled it open a little too violently. "I'm missing all the fun!"

Fry sighed and looked heavenward. She gave herself one last look in the mirror and blew herself a kiss. "Why didn't you just go ahead and leave me?" Fry said as she joined Amy in the corridor and they started to walk toward the elevators.

"And miss the chance to see everyone drooling over you like idiots? Imagine how they'd feel if they knew," Amy said with a salacious grin. She smoothed down her own dress - orange, Fry noted - and grinned again. "This party is going to be so much fun. And I'll finally get to see Kiffy! Isn't that great?"

"Yeah. Great," Fry said, examining her nails. Perhaps she should have coloured them. She glanced at Amy's fingers and saw she was even wearing some sort of extensions. They paused in front of the elevators and waited for a car to arrive. "I'm not sure I like the idea of people drooling over me. It's making me nervous," she said.

"Oh. I wouldn't know about that," Amy said brightly. Fry looked at her.

"You must have been nervous at your first party though?"

"Nope!" Amy smiled at Fry again and hopped into the elevator as soon as the doors slid open. Fry followed her cautiously, reasoning that something that cheerful had to be dangerous.

It had to be attitude, she realised as the elevator began its slow descent to the ballroom where the after-conference party was being held. Amy assumed that everyone liked her, and so more often than not they did. She was shallow, but not in the vindictive sort of way, which meant she just didn't notice when people thought badly of her. Fry wondered if she could ever manage to be like that. Before she'd just not cared what people thought but now, changed, she had become very conscious of other people's attitudes toward her. It permeated everything she did.

Being a woman was so complicated!

The elevator came to rest and opened at the head of a long, banking set of stairs that widened out on to the floor of a huge ballroom. Here and there a diplomatic Ruklisk stood by a wall or in a corner, ignoring the assembled species that thronged the ballroom floor as they swept their rolling black eyes over the assembly. A small orchestra was just completing the final segue of Strawberry Fields to polite applause from the few guests who had actually deigned to dance. Fry spotted Hermes and LaBarbara near the orchestra chatting to a strange looking alien - obviously trying to get a lead on a contract. All work and no play. She crept forward and started down the stairs, keeping close to the rail.

Amy suddenly ran past her, waving her arm in the air and staring at a knot of diplomats near  a buffet table. "Kiffy!"

The Amphibiosan detached himself from the crowd and ran across the ballroom, meeting Amy just as she reached the bottom step. They flew into a hug. "Oh Amy," Kif said, almost smiling. "I've missed you so..."

"Poor little Kif," Amy replied, stroking Kif's head. She swept the slender alien up in another hug and spun him around. "Kif, I want you to meet someone," she said as she put him down. Fry was just reaching the foot of the stairs, grumbling under her breath about how stupid her shoes were. She kicked her heels against the floor.

"I don't know how the hell you walk in these things," she grumbled, staring at her feet. Her calves were already starting to ache from the unaccustomed position. "I swear I will never make a joke about high heels again..." Fry looked up and found Kif and Amy staring at him. Amy raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. She turned to Kif.

"Kif, this is Philippa. She's-"

"A cousin," Fry said, and then screwed up her face to think. "Hubert Farnsworth's, um, cousin. Uh... a hundred and twenty times removed or something."

Kif looked Fry up and down with a vaguely confused air, then peered closely at her face. "You look a lot like Amy's ex," he said slowly, then seemed to snap out of whatever stupor he was in. "Uh, excuse me, I've been on tour with Captain Brannigan for the last eight months. You tend to lose social skills."

"That's okay," Fry said. She leaned against the stair-rail and lifted one of her legs in the air with a pained sigh, twisting her ankle to relieve the pressure on her calf. "Oh man, it's like being a giant Barbie doll..."

Kif watched her with puzzled fascination until Amy noticed and batted him on the shoulder. He swayed under the impact but didn't seem particularly pained. "Ah, excuse me. Sorry Amy. I should get back to-"

"Lieutenant!" Zapp's voice echoed across the ballroom. Kif started trembling and looked wildly about, trying to find Brannigan; Fry spotted him making a bee-line for their little coterie, a determined look on his face. "Kif, you're supposed to be attending to me while I entertain these fine people," he said as he drew close. Zapp clamped a hand on Kif's shoulder and turned him around. "Why are you cowering over here like some kind of- why, hello, what's this?"

Fry realised this sudden change of attitude was aimed at her. She put her foot down and looked up at Zapp. The captain was sweating slightly and seemed a little the worse for drink but, under all that flab, he did almost seem handsome. Something about his personality was-

"So, apart from being very erotic what do you do for a living?" Zapp wiggled his eyebrows and Fry saw him tucking a little brown book into his pocket. She groaned as Zapp gave an ostentatious bow with a flourish of his hand, and then took Fry's hand and kissed it. Fry shuddered.

"Please don't do that."

"Oh but I must," Zapp said, licking a knuckle. Fry squeaked and pulled her hand back. She suddenly had to lean further back as Zapp cast himself toward her, leering and grasping for her shoulders. There was a stink of cheap spirits on his breath, mixed with expensive wine and too much greasy food. Fry gagged and almost stumbled backwards under the onslaught.

"You're almost as erotic as Leela... say, where is Leela?" Zapp straightened up and looked around the room.

"Probably hiding!" Fry said, pushing Zapp away. She backed up, ready to fend off Zapp's advances again but he wasn't interested any more.

The overbearing idiot grabbed Kif's shoulder again and pulled him up so his head was at Zapp's height. "Kif, I have to find her. She promised me a dance, and if I can time it right I might be able to convince her to take a look at my royal suite."

Kif sighed and let himself hang limp. It was easier. "Is that a euphemism, sir?"

"A youfer-what?"

"Never mind, sir..." Kif peered over his shoulder at Amy. "I don't suppose you know where Leela has gone?"

Amy shrugged and looked around the room. "I guess she's probably beating up some head of state to get a contract out of them somewhere," she said, eyeing Zapp's arm and hefting her purse. Kif saw the motions and quickly shook his head to warn her off.

"Sir, perhaps you should try the buffet," he said, pointing to the far side of the room. Zapp nodded thoughtfully.

"Good thinking, Lieutenant. The way to a man's bed is through his stomach. If she wants me, she'll be there." Zapp put Kif down - dropped him, more accurately - and straightened his uniform. He swayed slightly as he walked off toward the buffet.

Fry sighed and sat down on the stair. "I don't know how he ever managed to convince Leela to sleep with him," she said, massaging her ankles. Amy looked up from her place at Kif's side and shrugged. "He's an idiot. An ugly idiot."

"Yeah, well Leela has a bit of a soft-spot for idiots." she said.

"I was an idiot and I never noticed that before." Fry's brow crinkled as she tried to figure out what she'd just said. It felt like she should be having one of those epiphany things right now but all she could think about was getting drunk. "Forget it, I'm going to get something to eat," she said, standing up. Fry looked down at her feet and frowned, then quickly pulled her shoes off. "I really don't know how you manage in these things."

Amy shrugged again. "You get used to it I guess," she said, helping Kif to his feet. She put her arm around the alien's slim shoulders and gave him a quick cuddle. "If you try hard enough you can get used to anything."

Kif smiled at Amy, the genuine smile that Fry had never seen him use around anyone else. She tied her shoes together and, giving the pair a final glance, slung the shoes around her neck and wandered over to the buffet table. Of course she was careful to avoid Brannigan, who was at the far end of the table stuffing a handful of canapés into his mouth. Fry loaded up a plate with snacks - what the hell, one night wouldn't ruin her figure, would it? - and meandered across the floor until she found an empty table. She sat down at toyed with her food, then sat back to watch the crowds moving about.

A flash of purple bobbed through the throng toward her and Leela finally emerged, trailing Samuel behind her like a lost puppy. They sat down next to Fry; Samuel stole a few items from Fry's plate. "Turnabout is fair play," he said with a wink. Fry shrugged.

"This place is giving me the creeps," Leela said as she glanced over her shoulder. "Have you seen the number of guards they have around here?"

"I hadn't really noticed," Fry said, rubbing her hand. Even though it made absolutely no sense she was sure she could still feel Zapp's tongue on it. She shivered. "Zapp’s looking for you by the buffet."

"I saw, that's why we haven't eaten yet," Leela replied, looking at Samuel, who smiled briefly before stealing some more of Fry's food. He didn't wink this time. "Have you seen Bender or Zoidberg since you got here?"

"Nope. I haven't seen them since we got to our rooms." Fry said, turning to look at the buffet. Normally the Decapodian would have been hovering, for want of a better word, around the largest supply of food in the room like an overgrown red fly. Perhaps that was why he was missing. "I guess they didn't want him hogging the buffet. I hope we're not eating him."

"I wouldn't mind so much if Zapp had the decency to go missing with them," Leela said, glaring at the man who, it seemed, was still managing to entertain a small group of dignitaries. The laughed and applauded as he finished some embellished tale with a flourish of his arms. Leela growled. "I'm going to find Bender. In case that idiot asks, tell him I died or something."

"My lips are sealed," Fry said around a half-eaten scotch egg. Leela screwed up her face at Fry's lack of manners but didn't say anything. She stood up and turned to Samuel.


"Not like I have anything better to do," he said with a smile. Sam paused half way through standing and leaned toward Fry. "Thanks for the food."

They made a beeline for the doors at the far end of the ballroom and were swallowed up in the crowd. Fry sat back in her seat and resumed watching the crowds. There seemed to be a small commotion as someone made their way through the gathering toward a podium set up opposite the stairs. A security team started to move up around the podium, gently ushering people away from it until there was a respectable distance. Then, to rising applause, President Glab made her way up to the podium, followed by Zapp and an arrogant looking Ruklisk of some indeterminate but high rank. She held out her hands for silence.

"My good friends, we reach, tonight, a culmination of a process that has brought peace to our galaxy after a century of hostility. Thanks to the efforts of our gallant Captain Brannigan, we have finally ended our cold war with the Ruklisk." Glab held up a glass, which was quickly filled by a waiter. She inclined her head to the man and held the glass higher. "To peace," she said, taking a large swill from the glass. The gathering joined her toast with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Glab put down her glass - obviously not her first of the night, as she swayed just a little - and looked out at the gathered leaders. She smiled benevolently. "Thanks to the efforts of our diplomatic teams the Democratic Order of Planets can now welcome the Ruklisk as equals. This new era of peace means that we no longer need to maintain our fleet at its current level. Last week I authorised the decommissioning of ninety-five percent of the fleet. Those ships not already docked are returning to their home ports even as we speak."

The room erupted, with some delegates yelling their disgust, whilst the rest either cheered, congratulated each other or tried to calm everyone down. Around the edges of the room the Ruklisk shifted on their feet and looked at each other. Zapp looked up at Glab, his face paling as he clenched his fists. He set his jaw and frowned at the floor. Glab, unable to find a gavel, started banging her fist on the podium for order with little effect. "Be quiet! All of you!"

Eventually the crowd settled down, with one or two leaders sporting minor injuries, including a few bite marks. Glab held out her hands. "The DOOP council are in the process of finding a new purpose for the remaining ships. Our militarism was a necessary response to the threats we faced in the last century, but that threat no longer exists. Now we are truly an organisation of peace, and to that end I am promoting Zapp Branigan to the rank of Ambassador General. The Ambassador will now give his thoughts on what we have achieved.

"I give you Zapp Brannigan."

Brannigan rose from his seat, wobbling and sweating profusely, shaken but unbowed. He pulled himself upright and walked up to the podium to a smattering of applause, lead by President Glab, and put his hand out to quiet them. "Thank you, thank you all. You know, I often say that history is made by putting the right man in the right place and letting, uh... history do the talking." There as an uncomfortable silence. Zapp scratched his side and peered at the crowd. He tapped the mike in front of him. "Is this thing on? Today, I come to you not as a Captain, or an officer, but as a man. A man with needs, a man with desires. A ship. A crew. A woman at my side..."

Zapp gripped the sides of the podium and bowed his head. "I come to you as a man with victory in his hands, carrying the torch of peace through the dark valley of the shadow of war. I am not, by nature, a violent man but I always pull through when the chips are falling like flies to the slaughter. The loss of my fleet is a hard blow to my staying the course, however.

"I have prepared a few words of verse to commemorate this event..." Zapp reached into his pocket and pulled out a thick wad of paper. Fry put her head in her hands. It was going to be a long, long night.

Space Pope
« Reply #45 on: 12-11-2007 06:01 »

"Leela, I'm not sure we're meant to be out here."

"Oh hush, what's the-" Leela's voice cut off as Samuel put a hand over his mouth. He gave her a stern look.

"Don't ever say that. Please?" He glanced up and down the narrow hallway they were in before letting Leela's mouth free again. "I've seen too many people screwed over by that one phrase."

Leela licked her lips and shrugged. "If you want." She looked back along the hallway at the ballroom doors, which were a surprising distance away, then looked in the direction they had been heading. A few service doors were dotted along one wall, and near the far end of the hallway stood a broad emergency exit by a door to the kitchens. The crashbars had been almost bent off their hinges. "I think I know where Zoidberg is."

"Good, that means we can spend a little time not finding him yet," Samuel said with a salacious grin, wrapping both his arms around Leela's body and pulling her off her feet for a moment. She playfully slapped at him and laughed as Samuel bowled her into a darkened closet. "Now this is more like it!"

"Oh Sam, Sam, now really isn't the time," Leela said, reluctantly fending off Samuel's advances. He backed off with a hurt expression on his face and Leela's heart skipped a beat. But no, she had to be strong. Just for a few hours. "We have to find Zoidberg."


"Hermes will have our heads if we lose him," Leela said, narrowing her eye a little to make a point. It seemed to work. She straightened out her dress and turned to the door, then paused. "Oh what the hell," she said before flinging herself at Samuel. They landed on the floor with a loud thump. Samuel groaned.

"I think I fell on a broom."


The emergency exit was still closed when they reached it, but it had definitely been opened with extreme force at some point. Leela knelt down to examine it in more detail. "Looks like he might have been here," she said, straightening up.

"How can you tell?"

Leela pointed at the mangled crash-bars. "All the scraps of food hanging from it. He didn't do the damage to the doors though."

"Ah." Samuel gingerly pushed on the door. It swung open with barely any protest. "Ladies first?"

"Why thank you," Leela said, striding out into the alley behind the hotel. It was fairly mundane as alleys went, dark and musty from lack of use, and lined with massive grey bins full of kitchen waste. A pale shaft of ruddy moonlight shone from the tiny sliver of sky high above the alley.

Leela turned to the nearest bin and looked it over. The lid had been thrown back and the contents ransacked. Just about anything organic had been eaten. "Wow. He must have been hungry."

Samuel put an arm around Leela's waist and peered into the gloom. "Don't you ever worry about him going insane and eating everyone?"

"I doubt he'd have the courage to try," Leela replied. Nevertheless she tensed herself up a little and started looking for weapons, just in case. She paused and held up her wrist computer, pointing it down the alley like a torch. "Three bins down."

"I want one of those."

"They're government issue. Technically I shouldn't have this any more but they've never actually bothered to ask for it back," Leela said, leading Samuel down the alley as she counted off the bins. The sound of ravenous consumption began to percolate through the air as they neared the third. "I expect the forms are still winging their way through the central bureaucracy, which means my great grandchildren will probably get the request to return it. Doctor Zoidberg?"

Leela stepped up to the bin and put her hand on the lid. The omnivorous growling within quietened down and then stopped completely. "Doctor?"

The lid raised up a little and Zoidberg peeked out. "Oh, so they threw you out as well did they? Well you can come and join Zoidberg's party!"

Leela grimaced and held her nose. "No thanks, we're just making sure you're still around." She pushed the lid right back and peered into the bin, then wished she hadn't. "You aren't supposed to be out here Doc," she said as she turned away. Samuel backed off as well, waving his hand in front of his face.

"But there's so much food just going to waste out here. And look, I found a giant soup flask!" Zoidberg held up a large metal container with wires hanging from it. He turned it this way and that, prodding at the casing with a claw. "I've not found a way to open it yet, and the shell looks a little damaged but it seems to be sound. I'm making myself some soup for the journey home."

Leela looked at the container. "Oh my god... Zoidberg, you idiot, that isn't a soup flask."

"It's not?" Zoidberg peered at the container. "It's a coffee urn maybe?"

"No!" Leela grabbed the container and turned it around. A door was set into the side, with a hole blasted through it. "It's Bender!"

"Ohh... that would explain why the coffee grinder kept sassing me." Zoidberg held up Bender's head, still stuffed with used coffee grinds. Bender rolled his eyes and spat out a pile of second-hand filter paper.

"You'd be sassing people too if you'd been blown apart by evil aliens and thrown in the trash!"

Leela took Bender's head from Zoidberg and peered at him critically. "I assume you're talking about the 'allies' Zapp gave us?"

"Oh, is that what they were? All I know is, they're big and ugly and they shot me when I was quietly robbing the hotel safe." Bender's rolled his eyes upward and peered at the sky. He seemed to think for a moment. "Oh yeah, and they said something about you all being slaves. I thought that was quite funny until they blew my head off."

Leela handed Bender's head to Samuel and reached into the bin to search for more of his parts.

"What are you doing?"

"We have to warn everyone," Leela said, pulling out part of a leg. "And we need as much of Bender as we can find as evidence."

Zoidberg clambered out of the bin holding Bender's body and an arm. "Does this mean the party's over?"

"If we get there in time it means you'll have helped to save the universe."

"Zoidberg would be a hero?"

Leela paused and looked at Zoidberg. He was smiling, which was a singularly disgusting sight, but strangely endearing in its own way. "As unlikely as it seems..."


"Hey, quit waving my arms like that," Bender said from beneath Samuel's armpit. Samuel patted Bender's scalp and shushed him. "Hey, watch it or I'll start biting."

"There's gratitude for you," Samuel said, holding Bender by his antenna and shaking him around. "Hmm. What marque are you?"

Bender frowned at him, since he couldn't really do much else. "Why do you care?"

"I used to run a small robot repair company in Nebraska. If you're a Unit twenty-five or under I can probably put you back together."

"Oh. Well in that case I'm a twenty-two. And I meant it about the biting thing."

Samuel smiled and held Bender up to his face. "If you're a twenty-two, you don't have teeth."

"That's never stopped me before," Bender said with a proud air that was only slightly marred by his lack of a body. Samuel twisted Bender's head around and peered into the base. "Hey where'd you go? Ooh... nice ass Leela," Bender added, then laughed until Samuel tweaked something inside his head. There was a flash of sparks. "Ow!"

Leela withdrew her arms from the bin and tried to shake the worst of the garbage off. She looked at the pile of parts that Zoidberg was holding. "I think that's everything. We'd better get back inside before someone sees us. Come on Zoidberg, hup hup!"

"All right, all right, I'm going already..."

"Now, Bender, you have to tell us everything that happened," Leela said as they closed the emergency exit. She looked up and down the hallway and then glared at Bender. Sometimes it felt like her eye was made for glaring. "No skimping on details."

Bender glared back. "Okay. The temperature was a balmy twenty-"

"Not that much detail you, you... just tell us the part about slaves." Leela lead the group toward the ballroom. Bender sighed irritably.

"You humans can never make up your minds, no wonder Fry can't figure out what he wants. Okay." He sighed again. The group paused by the ballroom door. "The aliens are using some sort of weird mind-control drug to turn everyone into zombies or something, and they kept calling you all 'slave species' and laughing about how you always put yourselves at their mercy."

"Drugs can be counter-acted though," Leela said, trying to re-assure herself. "And if we tell everyone they won't be able to use them."

"Oh I don't know, the way they stabbed that guy in the back of the head with it looked pretty permanent to me," Bender said. He coughed. "Man, I need a cigar."

"So you're saying that they let themselves be talked into this gathering so they could bring everyone here?" Samuel cast a fearful glance back down the corridor. "Surely they wouldn't be able to convince the entire DOOP to just lay down and let them take over."

"They don't need to! They've got the entire Democratic Order of Planets in one place, and they have this entire planet under their control already. That idiot has us laid out on a platter for them!"

"Well when you put it that way..."

Leela pushed the doors open and stepped into the ballroom, quickly looking about. The entire room was silent, every delegate staring blankly in the same direction. A few were drooling. "Oh no, we're too late!"

"What the... Leela?" Zapp turned toward Leela's voice. He stumbled from the podium and lurched toward Leela with a determined expression on his face. The assembly began to look around, muttering as they slowly woke from their boredom. "Leela!"

"Oh lord..." Leela turned to Samuel and Zoidberg. "You two, stay here and keep Bender safe. I'm going to get Philippa and Amy. Then we need to find some way of telling everyone what happened."

"Twenty-twos have a video projector built into their left eye," Samuel said, turning Benders head this way and that. "I'm pretty sure this one is still working too."

"Great. Bender, can you play back what you saw?"

"I can, as long as you don't ask me to do a commentary. I hate those."

Leela shook her head. "All we need is the scary bit." She ran off into the crowd.

Zoidberg looked at Samuel and smiled his hideous smile. "So do I get to be the hero now?"


Leela battled her way through the madding crowd. The delegates were starting to get restless at the sudden interruption of their 'entertainment' and a few fights had already broken out between some of the more belligerent species. Leela ignored the surprised queries that were thrown at her in a dozen tongues and made a bee-line for Fry, still sat at her table near the back of the room. She looked around as she reached the table, trying to spot Amy. "Phi, have you seen Amy anywhere?"

"Last I heard she was going back up to our room with Kif. I didn't really want to know that," she added, making a face. Hermes and LaBarbara arrived a moment later - Hermes huffing from the exertion. He leaned on the table.

"What in the name of Niven is going on here?" he gasped. LaBarabra rubbed his back and scowled at Leela.

"Shame on you woman, for making my man exert himself so."

"I can't explain," Leela said, turning to face them. Hermes flopped down on a chair, still gasping. "You need to go with Philippa and get back to the ship. Phi, you need to find Amy."


"Don't argue. Go find her and tell her to get the ship over here as fast as possible." Fry seemed about ready to talk back, so Leela simply hauled her out of her seat and stood her up. "Just do it!"

"Okay, okay, jeeze..." Fry grabbed her plate and slipped through the crowd to the main stairway, stuffing food into her mouth as she went. Leela shook her head - the girl would need to go on a diet soon if she didn't cut that out. "What an odd thing..." she looked at Hermes.

"Don't just stand there, we need to get out of here!"

"Great snakes of Apophis, mon... more running..." Hermes levered himself up, supported by LaBarbara. They staggered after Fry.

Leela looked back across the room to where Samuel was standing. He waved to her with Bender's arm and smiled. Leela smiled back and then started pushing back through the crowd to the podium, where Zapp was now leaning against the stage with a confused look on his face. Hah, he couldn't keep up with a damned planet if he was standing on it. The thought brought a grin to Leela's face, but it faded when she looked at the Ruklisk around the room. They seemed to have tensed up, and some even had their hands on their weapons.

"Brannigan," she called out as she reached the podium. Zapp looked at her in shock. He pointed a wobbly finger at her.

"You promised me a dance, missy."

"Now isn't the time!" She grabbed Zapp's arm and dragged him toward Samuel. Zapp made what he probably thought was a seductive growl and leaned toward her, then suddenly leaned back with a disgusted look on his face. Leela sniffed at herself. "Oh yeah."

"You smell like garbage!"

"Perhaps I've just been around you too long," Leela shot back. She pointed at Bender. "These allies of yours did that to our robot because of something he saw."

"So? I've trashed robots before now, for lots of reasons." Zapp put his hands on his hips. "Forget about that, how about I take you upstairs and give you an erotic bath..." he raised an eyebrow at Leela and tried to purr. It was actually a fairly good imitation.

Leela tapped her foot. "How about I punch you and then get on that podium and tell everyone to get off the planet as fast as possible."

"I prefer my idea," Zapp said, folding his arms and looked out across the room. Leela shook her head.

"Look, you moron, the Ruklisk are going to invade and enslave our entire species unless I warn these people to leave."

"You can't be sure of that, for all you know this robot could have fallen from a window and tried to cover it up by lying." Zapp retorted, dismissing the wreckage of bender with a wave of his hand.

"Hey, I have a huge hole where my heart would have been!"

Zapp's shoulders sagged for a moment. "Don't we all?" But then he straightened up again and put out his hands in an almost protective gesture. "Even so, I can't let you go up there spreading rumours like this."

"I warned you. Samuel, cover your eyes. This won't be pretty." Leela leaned back a little as Samuel lifted Bender's head up to cover his face.

"Oh wow, ring-side seats!"

"Shut up!" Leela tapped Zapp's chest to get his attention again. When he looked down she wound back her fist and slugged him right on the chin, knocking Zapp to the floor. He landed with a loud yell that silenced the room. She punched Zapp in the face again for good measure, then stood up, shaking her hand to relieve the tension. Leela grabbed Bender's head and jumped up on to the stage. She held the robot up. "Everyone listen to me. The Ruklisk are not our allies! This robot saw something they were doing and they blasted him apart for it!"

"Get down from there," Glab shouted, trying to grab Leela's arm. Leela elbowed the Grand Councilwoman in the face and marched over to the podium. A guard tried to tackle her but she casually flipped over him, using Bender's head as a club to beat him to the ground as she passed by. The other guards backed off a little and waited while Leela reached the podium, where she flipped Bender's head over and propped him up facing the wall.

"Someone arrest that madwoman!" Glab screamed, levering herself up from the floor.

"I'm not mad you stupid-" Leela ducked as one of the DOOP guards in front of the stage fired at her. "I'm trying to save your lives you idiots!"

"Arrest her!" There was another shot. A trio of DOOP soldiers were making their way from the far side of the room, whilst others were already surrounding the stage. The delegates were already crowding toward the exits, shouting at each other. More fights broke out on the floor. Leela held up Bender's head again, pointing him toward the wall.

"Hey stop putting me in the line of fire!"

"Bender, just play the damn video!"

"Oh. Right." Bender's eye lit up and started projecting an image on the wall. It quickly resolved into the interior of the hotel safe.

"Hey," someone shouted. "That's my stuff!"

"Skip this bit," Leela said. Bender grunted and the video skipped forward until his encounter with the aliens. The bulk of the door was in the way, so that only the concierge's arm and one of the Ruklisk was visible.

"Please, I'll do anything..."

The room fell silent as the video played out, apart from the occasional cough and a few mutterings that rose in volume as the Ruklisk attacked the concierge, until finally the delegates were shouting and pushing as the stampede for the exits began.

The Ruklisk drew their weapons but were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of retreating people. They fired into the air, calling to each other in their guttural language as they tried to stem the flow. One or two were pulling prepared spines from their belts and crouching to grab at passing escapees. Leela grabbed a rifle from a nearby soldier, took aim at the closest Ruklisk, and fired. Its head exploded with a satisfying bang. "Well how about that..."

Leela tucked Bender under her arm, jumped from the stage and pushed through the crowd toward Samuel. She held up her wrist computer. "Amy, if you aren't on your way here right now you are so going to get bitched at tomorrow," she yelled over the noise. The radio crackled.

"Three minutes!" Leela nodded and lowered the radio. She picked up another rifle from the floor and threw it to Samuel.

"You ever-"

"Never in my life," Samuel said, peering down the rifle's sights. He aimed at the nearest Rukilisk and let off a shot that missed the creature by several feet before blasting a light fitting from the wall. Leela grinned and shot the Ruklisk, and then the DOOP guards seemed to have got the idea as well and were trying to lay down enough fire to cover the fleeing civilians. Around them the screaming renewed as the Ruklisk started firing indiscriminately into the crowd. A stray shot smacked into the wall beside Leela's head, spraying her with plaster. She blinked.

"We'd better get somewhere a little more defensible," she said, looking around. She glanced around the room but nowhere seemed particularly safe. "Or just out of here altogether."

Leela pushed the doors open and grabbed Samuel's arm. Then suddenly someone grabbed her elbow. It was Zapp, sporting a huge black eye, on his knees, and Leela felt a strange thrill at the sight. "Leela, I need to get out of here. Take me with you! I'll... I'll give up the dance, I'll try to be... you always get out of this sort of thing. Help me!"

Leela looked down at Zapp with barely concealed contempt. She shrugged her arm out of his grasp. "Sorry Zapp, you got us into this. You get out of it yourself."

"Wait! I didn't... how could I know?" Zapp grabbed the hem of Leela's dress and started sobbing on her feet. Leela sighed and ducked just in time to dodge another shot. She looked at Samuel.

"He has a point, you know," he said, putting a hand on Leela's shoulder. "If it makes you feel better I really don't think he's much of a threat to our relationship."

"He's a walking disaster area!" Leela slung her rifle over her shoulder and grabbed Zapp's arm. "Okay, come on, but you run like the coward you are or I'll shoot you."

Zapp clambered to his knees, tears of what might have been joy running down his face. "Thank you!"

"Amy, meet us around the back of the hotel " Leela said to her wrist. She picked up Bender's head and tossed it to Samuel, then took some of Bender's parts and shoved them into Zapp's waiting arms. She brandished her rifle. "Lets roll."

Leela took up a covering position as the others escaped into the corridor, firing at any Ruklisk that even looked like it was coming near. The ballroom was almost deserted now as the majority had escaped, with just a few DOOP soldiers left battling the Ruklisk. They were losing. Already several had been turned by whatever compound the Ruklisk used on their victims, siding with the aliens against their former comrades. They moved slowly, without passion, but they were merciless and efficient, dispatching the remaining soldiers with terrifying accuracy.

A plasma bolt smacked into the wall beside Leela. She ducked and turned to find the target. It was Glab, a spine still protruding from her head, clutching a plasma pistol in her slender hands. Behind her the guard Leela had assaulted was lying across the still-twitching corpse of a Ruklisk, a knife thrust to the hilt in his chest.

The councilwoman stared at Leela with a vacant expression and tried to fire the pistol again, only to find it had been completely drained. Without even looking down she threw the pistol aside and picked up a plasma rifle. Leela took aim and was about to fire when a pair of plasma bolts cracked into the wall beside her, chewing deep holes in the plaster as they dissipated their energy into the wall. She ducked and backed away, keeping her eye on Glab, who seemed to be struggling with the weight of the rifle. Everyone else was either escaped, dead or turned now. Leela fired a few shots in the general direction of the remaining Ruklisk and then retreated, kicking the door closed behind her.

The others had already reached the far end of the corridor and were waiting by the emergency exit. Leela hugged the rifle close to her body and sprinted after them. The ballroom door crunched as something crashed into it, then exploded in a hail of splinters and gunfire. Leela screamed as something hit her shoulder and she stumbled. She rolled on to her side, her arm flailing uselessly as she tried to bring the rifle to bear on the aliens pouring down the corridor. The gun fell from her grasp and skittered up against the wall. Leela heard Samuel's yell and suddenly he was beside her, grabbing her arms and pulling her along the floor.

"Sam, no," Leela stammered, suddenly feeling very weak. She tried to free her arm from Samuel's grasp. "You have to-"

"Shut up, I'm not leaving you," Samuel yelled over the noise. Leela lifted her head and tried to focus on the advancing horde. Plasma and Ruklisk bullets crashed into the walls and floor around them.

"Idiot... the gun..." Leela kicked out with her feet, trying to lift her weight and nearly blacked out from the pain. A shadow fell across her, a Ruklisk, up close and personal. It snarled something unintelligible and drew out a wickedly long curved knife. There was a shout, and suddenly the creature's head exploded in a shower of orange gore. Leela glanced up; Samuel was still holding her and was struggling to haul her upright. She looked to where the rifle had fallen. Zapp was kneeling, holding the rifle more professionally than Leela would have given him credit. He fired down the corridor in short bursts.

With a final thrust of her legs Leela managed to get upright. Samuel had dragged her almost all the way to the doors, with Zapp retreating just behind them, pausing now and then to fire at the aliens and their slaves who had taken cover at the far end of the corridor.

They stumbled into the alley just as the Ship came crashing to a halt at the far end, its lights casting stark shadows over the bins and piles of garbage. Zoidberg was already half way up the steps when Leela and Samuel reached them. There was a crash from the far end of the alley; Leela looked over her shoulder and saw the clearing smoke of an explosion. The Ruklisk weren't being subtle any more.

Zapp came running past. "Coming through!" He ran up the stairs, flinging his plasma rifle to Hermes who came part way down the steps, brandishing the gun, and peered along the alleyway.

"Great ghosts of the Sargasso! You better hurry yourselves up, I'm leaving!" He let off a single shot at the Ruklisk, turned and retreated into the ship. The ship began to lift off even as Leela and Samuel were still clambering up the stairs. They flopped down onto the deck as the hatch closed. Samuel punched a switch on the comms panel by the hatch. "Amy, we're on board."


Fry was standing at the far exit, still in her dress. She squeaked in shock when she saw Leela's tattered clothing and her injuries. "Leela, what happened!"

"I think I got shot." Leela rolled on to her back and stared at the ceiling, prompting a stab of pain across her shoulder. She grunted and closed her eye. Someone lifted up her head and cradled it in their lap, started stoking her hair gently and Leela smiled. "Philip...?"

She opened her eye. Samuel was looking down at her with a sad smile. He lifted his hand to her forehead. "We'd better get you seen to," he said.

Space Pope
« Reply #46 on: 12-15-2007 06:02 »
« Last Edit on: 01-08-2008 00:00 »

Fry sat in the corner of the medical bay and watched Leela as she slept, the silent sleep of anaesthesia, breathing so slowly that it almost seemed as if she was dead. The lights had been turned down until the room was filled with little more than a twilight, reducing any contrast to virtually nothing, so that only the constant beeping of the monitors Zoidberg had attached to Leela showed she was still alive. Leela's wounds had been severe but not life-threatening, mostly surface damage, very spectacular and showy. Doctor Zoidberg had applied knowledge from a medical training program that had been installed with the medical bay and then tossed it aside as he grew into the role of actually saving someone's life. Leela might have a faint scar, a patch of slightly mottled skin but otherwise there'd be no evidence of the wound, yet if the shot had hit just an inch lower she might have lost her arm. Zoidberg could be quite competent if he put his mind to it.

There was possibly a little irony in the criticism, as it had been applied to Fry many times in her own life, often in very hurtful ways. She put her chin on her hands and stared at Leela for a long time, watching her breath, watching her peaceful face the way she'd never had the chance to do before. It was... gratifying. And yet the possibility that she might be somehow responsible for all of this meant that Fry couldn't quite settle down. So she watched, and waited.

At some point she must have dozed off, because Samuel suddenly seemed to appear by the bed. Fry felt her heart thump when she saw him leaning over Leela the way he did. She swallowed and tried to look away, but the sight kept drawing her back. It could have been her. Him. She sighed. That her confusion could still appear after so long was almost depressing.

Unfortunately, or perhaps not, Samuel had heard her. He looked up. "Ahh, welcome back. You were asleep," he said, letting go of Leela's hand and straightening up. He sat down next to Fry. "Nice to see someone care for Leela this much."

"Someone has to," Fry said, rubbing her eyes. She was tired, more tired than she'd realised, but that wouldn't stop her. "I've done it before. I once sat with Leela while she was in a coma for two weeks. She's saved my life so many times now, I can't even begin to pay back what I owe her."

"I'm surprised that Brannigan character isn't here."

"Oh, Amy had him locked up in the laundry room, not that he'd want to be here anyway," Fry said with a quiet chuckle. The thought that Zapp would actually care was too funny.

Samuel nodded and leaned back, wrapping his arms across his chest. He watched Leela for a while without saying anything, then: "Saved your life a lot, huh?"

"Yeah." Fry yawned and stretched, trying to counter the fatigue dragging at her eyes. "More times than I can count since I got here. She can be uptight and mean, and she even kicked me in the... well," Fry shook her head. "Lets just say she kicked me. I think I may have deserved it."

Samuel chuckled to himself and shook his head as he leaned forward. Fry looked at him and frowned. "What?"

"Oh. Nothing. It's just... this 'friendship' thing. Even an idiot could see there's more to it."

"I don't know, I can be pretty dumb sometimes," Fry said with a shrug. She looked away so that Samuel wouldn't be able to see the confusion in her eyes. Her feelings for Leela were something she hadn't been able to address even in her most private moments. Amy had been easy. Well, Amy was always easy... but the divorce and manipulation of feeling had been simple. With Leela, at first it had seemed the same. Feelings changed. Situations were different. But now, seeing her like this, Fry suddenly realised with a sickening lurch that she didn't know. The emptiness she had felt wasn't an simple lack of feeling but a void, a place where a feeling ought to be but wasn't. She found herself biting her knuckle again and quickly pressed her hand to her thigh.

"I'm right, there's more to it, isn't there?"

"I..." Fry looked at Samuel. He had wonderfully deep brown eyes, eyes she could stare into for hours if given the chance. She looked away again. "I don't know. It's-"

"Complicated?" Fry bit her lip and nodded. Samuel just shrugged. "All this complication, it's hard to see how I fit into things."

"Oh it's pretty obvious how you fit into things," Fry said, only realising how that sounded after she'd finished. She covered her mouth. "Sorry."

"I think I got what you meant," Samuel said, and smiled. He leaned back again and stretched his legs out. "She has feelings for you. You have feelings for her. Neither of you can admit it to yourselves or to each other, so you're deceiving yourselves. That isn't complicated. It's weird, considering where I am in this ménage-a-trois right now, but not complicated at all."

"The curse of my whimsical gender," Fry said sadly. Samuel frowned. He stood up and walked over to the bed, where he looked down at Leela again. Fry watched him from her seat, peering against the fog of fatigue that kept drawing down on her mind. "What I'm trying to say is, you make her happy. I suppose that makes me happy."

Samuel nodded. He took Leela's hand and stroked it. "I think I have things figured out." He turned to look at Fry. "You two spent hours in my cafe, talking about all sorts of weird crap that didn't make any sense to me. I've see what that crazy scientist you call your boss gets up to. Sometimes we hear the explosions right up at my apartment block. See the creatures he lets out in the river now and then...

"I've got a group of regulars who are fascinated with that place. After the opera they went nuts trying to find out everything they could about you people. Newspaper cuttings, rumours on the internet, it's a bit creepy actually, how far they'll go to get their information. When you two started visiting they went completely insane about it. I've made more money from them in the last six months than I've ever made in my entire life."

Fry swallowed. She wasn't tired now, not in the slightest. Adrenaline had surged into her veins as Samuel spoke. She twisted her neck to try and relieve the sudden tension. "So, so what?"

"I remember the story you told just now. The captain who was attacked by giant space bees and spent two weeks in a coma they said she'd never wake from."

"Yeah. I sat and talked to her every day."

"A man sat and talked to her every day. They span it as a love story."

"A love story? Oh I wish it had been... a..." Fry felt her heart freeze. He knew! She stood up and turned to leave. "I'd better-"

Samuel reached out and took hold of her arm. "Wait."

"Why?" Fry tried to pry Samuel's hand from her arm but he was a little too insistent, and she was tired. "Let go of me."

"I'm sorry." Samuel let her go, but it was obvious he didn't want her to leave. Fry waited for him to speak again. "So. You used to be Philip Fry, the man who wrote that opera and then disappeared when it was a flop. You got changed somehow. I don't know how, I don't even care how, but I expect that 'Professor' of yours was involved somewhere."

Fry nodded, an almost imperceptible motion, but somehow more profound than the revelation to the crew. She sat down again. "I guess you think I'm some sort of freak now."

"We can't help being who we are," Samuel said, leaning against the bed. Leela stirred slightly at his presence, but otherwise didn't move. Samuel stroked her arm very gently. "I love this woman, and I'm pretty sure she loves me. I'm also sure she loves you too."

"You mean loved."

"When you're around a bunch of literature nerds you very quickly learn to be careful with your words," Samuel said, staring at Fry. He didn't look away. Fry felt a strange tingling under her chest, that heat she had felt before, surrounding the void, as if something was burning within her heart.

"Oh. Oh hell." Fry tried to find something to look at. She bit her lip and took a deep breath, trying to ignore the sudden insistent beating of her heart, though it felt like her chest was about to explode from it. "And I thought things were complicated before."

Samuel let a wry smile grace his lips. "Tell me about it."

They sat in silence for a moment, each thinking their own thoughts. Fry looked at Leela again, watched her stirring a little as the anaesthetic started to wear off. She was probably starting to dream now, and for a few minutes Fry wondered what she would be dreaming about. She turned her gaze back to Samuel again. "What do you want to do?"

"She's proud," Samuel said, ignoring the question. He walked to the far wall and stared at a medical diagram. "She couldn't admit her feelings about you before, there's not a chance in hell she'll be able to do it now." Samuel turned and looked at Fry again, a strange smile on his face. "And, on one level that's good for me. But... on another level, it means she'll never be completely mine."

"She never would have been anyway."

"I know." Samuel leaned on the counter. He stared at the floor and sighed. "I don't know what to do either."

"I don't think it's your decision," Fry said, standing up. She looked at Leela again with a faint smile. "You know, I think I do love her still. Enough to want her to be happy."

Fry put her hands together and looked at Samuel again. She smiled, even as every fibre of her being screamed at her to throw the man out. She ignored the voice and turned to walk out of the door.


Leela could feel herself waking up. That absolute darkness always scared her a little, always brought back tenuous images of being trapped in deep tunnels with no escape - held in long, loving arms, but trapped all the same. Probably some sort of genetic memory. She tried to focus on her last conscious moment, which had involved a great deal of pain. Leela peeled open her eye and stared at the ceiling of the medical bay. More vague memories flitted through her mind, half-remembered dreams and snatches of conversation. Sedation sucked. She took a deep breath, trying to clear her head. Her shoulder itched and felt hot and tingly, but apart from that everything seemed normal.

Someone took her hand. A shadowy figure leaned over. Leela blinked back cobwebs and tried to focus. "Fr... Samuel?"

"Hi," Samuel said. Leela levered herself upright and pulled him into a hug.


Fry sat in the galley, nursing a cup of coffee with a little extra oomph from Bender's quarters. Sleep hadn't come, despite her exhaustion. She stared at the wall, sipping her coffee now and then, her face blank.

"So hey," Bender said from his pile in the corner of the room. "You look a little down over there sweetcakes."

"Don't call me that," Fry said automatically. She shook her head and blinked as she realised who was speaking. "I mean, yeah. Sorry."

"All those feminine emotions and things huh?"

"That sort of thing." Fry put her coffee down and reached for the malt liquor she'd 'liberated' for her coffee. She'd barely touched spirits since the change. They got her drunk too fast.

"Hey, go easy on that stuff," Bender said, concern tingeing his voice. Fry tried not to sneer at him too much before downing a another slug of the drink. "I'm serious, Fry, you fembags aren't designed for that sort of thing."

"So it's not because I'm stealing your precious fuel then?"

"Aw, hell no, right now my power draw is almost zero without all those servos and things to keep moving. I could last for another week at least. I'm telling you because it's the truth."

Fry put the bottle down and peered at it, then at Bender. "I don't believe you."

"Fine. Be that way." Bender rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. After a moment he looked down at the parts he was laying on. "Uh... Could you fold my arms for me so I can be in a bad mood?"

"Can't be bothered," Fry said. That liquor was even stronger than she'd thought. She poured a measure in to her cup, stared at it, drank it and then peered at Bender's heads. Perhaps he was right. It didn't help that she was so immensely tired. "What do you care anyway, tin man? Hah. Tin man. What a raff... laugh... to hell with you!"

"I hate to say I told you so. No, actually I love it." Fry lurched out of her chair and stumbled across the floor to Bender's pile. She stared down at him, cheeks flushed and wobbling under the unaccustomed volume of alcohol. Bender would have shivered if he had a body. And if he could feel cold. Instead all he could do was look up as Fry leaned over and lifted him up to her face level. "Hi."

Fry wobbled a little but seemed to be recovering from the initial liquor shock. She peered at Bender. "What would you care about me?"

"Believe it or not, Fry, I'm your friend. I think being blown to pieces sort of brought home to me that you have to hold on to the friends you've got otherwise you end up in a heap on the floor."

"Didn't help you much then," Fry said. She giggled and prodded Bender's parts with her toe. Bender looked to one side and grunted.

"I'm still working on the metaphor."

"It's not like you have anything else to do down there," Fry replied, but she was smiling now. She held Bender up above her head and looked up at him. "Am I really your friend?"

"If I say yes will you put me down? I'm getting vertigo."

Fry giggled again and tucked Bender under her arm. "You're cute when you're scared," she said as she meandered toward the crew cabins.

"Hey I'm not scared! Or cute!"

"Hush," Fry said as she opened her cabin door. Amy was still on the flight deck, so the cabin was empty as Fry sauntered in. She propped Bender up on the dresser and sat down on the bed.

"Nice pad," Bender said as he looked around the room. His gaze settled on Fry again. She still had the whisky bottle gripped in her hand, though she didn't seem to notice it any more. "You're really hitting that stuff hard, Fry."

"Yep! I'm drowning my sorrels..."


"Whatever!" Fry stared at the bottle in her hand and frowned at it. She put it on a bedside table. "I'm very drunk aren't I."

Bender rolled his eyes. "Oh, you noticed? And I thought you were dumb before!" He laughed at his little joke and at the same time watched Fry to see how she'd react. She didn't. There wasn't any anger or annoyance, or even an 'I don't care'. She just didn't notice him. "Oh boy. Fry..."

Fry staggered to her feet and wobbled at Bender. It seemed about all she could do. "What do you care about me? You said I wasn't your friend, now you're pretending so you can get me into bed or something."

"Jeeze! Fry, that's disgusting!"

"Then stop looking at my ass!"

"I'm not looking at your- Oh for god's sake Fry!" Bender snapped his eyeshield shut before Fry could properly heave out of her clothes. He listened to the crazed woman as she stumped about the cabin. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

"You've seen me naked before," Fry said. Her voice was slurred now.

"I didn't like it much then either," he replied. Bender couldn't hear any sign she was drinking more. He tried to adjust his internal sensors to check if Fry had put something on yet. No such luck. "Fry, don't make me do that 'reaching out' thing. I hate that. Just tell me what's wrong so you can fix it and put me back with the rest of me."

"I left my nice pants at the hotel," Fry said with a sad voice. She picked up Bender and hugged him, and Bender was suddenly very glad he didn't have any tactile sensors active in his head. His inertial guidance system told him he was moving back toward the bed, which was confirmed when the bed creaked as Fry sat down. It was more of a bunk, really, set into the wall. Amy's bunk was on top. It sure beat the hammock Bender was still using.

"Sure you haven't got another set somewhere? I know you skinnies always seem to be wearing the same stuff but you've got an entire wardrobe full of clothes over there. It can't all be Amy's."

Fry put Bender down on the bunk and walked off in the direction of the closet. Bender let his sensors creep out again; it didn't count as looking if he wasn't using his eyes. Fry had mercifully put on some underwear and was in the process of pulling on one of the many pairs of jeans she always wore. At least, Bender assumed it was one of many. He didn't have to worry about hygiene as such, but the thought of all that organic matter being layered into a small piece of cloth made him generate sensations that could be a fairly close approximation of nausea. He waited for Fry to find a blouse before opening his eyeshield again.

Fry pulled a small bottle of Flushers Detox Pills from under the bed. She popped two and grimaced. "Ugh. I hate these things..."

"So. What's the matter with you," Bender said, reciting the phrase verbatim from the book he'd memorised. Fry picked him up again and rested him on her lap. The detox was already kicking in. Her skin was flushed and damp. She looked him in the eyes and tried to smile.

"It's Leela. She loves me."

"Great, more emotions."

"I love her too," Fry continued, looking away. Bender's eyes widened in surprise. Calculon would have been proud, he thought, then ran a quick check on his memory retrieval subsystem to make sure it wasn't malfunctioning.

"You said you weren't a-"

"I know! It's all so confusing. I mean..." Fry stood up and started pacing back and forth, never taking her eyes off Bender. She lifted him up. "I love her, but at the same time I don't. It's weird."

"What you mean is, you're not sexually attracted to her," Bender said. He paused for a few milliseconds as he tried to figure out where the thought had come from. All those books seemed to be affecting his thought routines.

"Sometimes I think, back then, that's all love was for me," Fry said quietly, still pacing. She turned and walked past the table to look out into space. The stars moved imperceptibly, nothing like the way they'd scooted past in Star Trek - in some ways the routine of space travel had always been a bit of a disappointment. She looked down at Bender again. "I thought I was a pretty enlightened man. I thought I was pursuing her because of some sort of pure love, but now it seems like all I really wanted to do was screw her brains out. Now I don't want to do that, but I still love her in some way that seems like the purity I was after before. Only it isn't. So much for enlightenment."

Bender sighed. This was the bit he always hated about women, especially human women. They talked about things instead of just getting themselves down to a repair shop for a quick fix. "Why not just go and tell her that instead of moping about it?"

"You'd think it would be easy," Fry said. She put Bender down on the table and sat down next to him. Bender dearly wished he could escape back to his comfortable pile in the galley. At least then he might have a chance of pulling himself together again.

"It's easy. You just walk into her cabin, get down on your knees and say 'Leela, I am hot for you'. Works every time."

Fry gave Bender a pitying look. She took a deep breath and stared out of the window again, a wistful look in her eyes. Bender rattled his mouth slot and tried to think of something else to say that wouldn't seem insulting. That in itself was an odd sensation. The idea that he should care. "Stupid books..."


"Oh. Nothing." Bender looked down at the table. When he looked up again Fry was leaning over by her bunk, picking up the whisky bottle again. She stared at it, but didn't drink anything. Bender rolled his eyes and looked away, trying to find something else- Wait... "Fry, what's that in your back pocket?"

"What?" Fry turned around and tried to look at her own rear. She twisted around twice before she realised what she was doing. Fry put the bottle down and reached into her pocket, where she found a folded piece of paper hanging out at a funny angle. She pulled the paper out and unfolded it. "Oh, it's that note the Professor told me to look after," she said, staring at the paper. She scratched her head. "'The matrix field has reset' is all it says. Doesn't make much sense..."

"Probably wasn't meant for you anyway," Bender said. He looked around the room, or at least what he could see of it from his vantage point. "Look, can I go back to my pile now? All this talking is great but Leela's new 'boyfriend' said he was going to fix me up later."

"Sam." Fry sat down at the table again. She flattened out the note with her hands, stretching the creases out of it as best she could, and stared at the words. "Resetting itself? What does that mean?"

"Perhaps his experiment-" Bender almost bounced off the table as Fry suddenly leapt to her feet. She ran for the door, then skidded to a halt and returned to grab Bender. "What's going on?"

"No time to explain," Fry said, tucking Bender under her arm as she ran.

"Leela," Fry shouted as she ran into the medical bay. The bed was empty. Zoidberg shuffled over from the far corner, where a crude bed was half way through being assembled, and looked at Fry. "Where's Leela?"

"Discharged herself she did. I told her she needed to rest but nobody listens to Zoidberg." The Decapodian sighed and clacked his claws together, a sad staccato that echoed around the room. "Some day people will listen to Zoidberg."

"I'm sure she appreciated it, doc," Fry said, edging back to the door. She turned and ran toward Leela's cabin. In the galley she paused and propped Bender back on the pile of his parts. "I'll come back and get you in a moment," she said as she left.

"Great! Bring booze!"

Space Pope
« Reply #47 on: 12-15-2007 06:10 »
« Last Edit on: 12-15-2007 06:10 »


Space Pope
« Reply #48 on: 12-19-2007 20:50 »

Le sigh...


Leela's door only slid open a fraction and her single great eye peered out of the twilight.

"Oh. Hi Leela."

"Phi, I'm sort of in the middle of something here," Leela said with just a hint of anger in her voice. She moved herself across the gap - she was wearing a sheet. Fry swallowed.

"Right, well, this is kind of naked. I mean important. I need you to come up to the bridge, like, right now. I need to call the Professor and I need everyone there when I do."

"Have you been drinking? Fry-"

"I took a detox, Leela, I swear I'm sober. I found this note in my pants." Fry threaded the now-wrinkled paper through to Leela's waiting hand. She unfolded the note and scanned over it.

"That doesn't explain anything, Phi," Leela said as she passed the note back. She glanced over her shoulder into the darkness of the room. "Look, whatever this is..."

"Please. Leela, if you've ever trusted me before, trust me now. I need you there."

Leela narrowed her eye a little. She stepped back. "All right, but I'm warning you, if this turns out to be a waste of time..."

"I know, I know, I swear this will have a point."

"Wait there." The door closed again. Fry leaned against the opposite bulkhead and waited. She even whistled to herself, but couldn't keep the mood for it for long. Up ahead she could hear Amy shouting something on the bridge but couldn't quite make out what it was. She straightened up and looked down the corridor.

"All right," Leela said as she walked out of her cabin. Samuel crept out right after her. He jumped, surprised when he saw Fry.

"Aw, Leela, you said-"

"No I didn't! It doesn't matter anyway, everyone's figured it out by now," Leela said, grabbing Samuel's hand. She looked at Fry, her eye narrowing warily. "Lets go."


Amy glared across the bridge at Zapp, one hand resting on the control panel, the other held out as if she could shield herself from Zapp's presence. "I don't care how you got out of the laundry room, you are not taking over this ship."

"Oh but I must," Zapp said with an ingratiating smile. He took a step toward Amy. "There are greater things at stake than simply getting your crew home. I have to get to my ship."

"You don't have a ship!" Amy put her hands on her hips and raised an eyebrow at Zapp. "I heard you promoted to Ambassador General. That's not a military rank."

"I always have a ship!"

"Actually, sir..." Kif held up his hand, though he stayed well out of Zapp's grabbing range. "Strictly speaking Amy is correct. Your rank precludes you from holding any military position."

"All the more reason why I need this ship!"

"No." Amy took a step forward, hands raised protectively against the overbearing General's bulk.

Zapp clenched his hands and narrowed his eyes at Amy. The young intern quailed slightly under the gaze but didn't retreat. "Now listen to me you little-"

"My my," Leela said as she entered the bridge, cutting off Zapp's threat before it could form. "Seems like every time you're on my ship you try and steal it from me."

Zapp stepped back in surprise as Fry and Samuel sauntered behind Leela, holding various parts of Bender. He seemed to struggle for words. "Leela! You're alive?"

Leela took her seat behind the controls. "Like you'd care. Amy, scanners. Phi, you get on the radio."

Zapp took a step toward Leela, his brow creased. He held out his hands to her. "Leela..."

"Not now Zapp," Leela replied. She leaned over her controls and peered at them. "Amy, how many times have I told you about putting your feet on the dashboard?"

"Leela, listen to me." Zapp grabbed her arm. Without even thinking Leela turned and punched the inside of his elbow. Zapp howled in pain as his arm folded and he pitched toward the deck, where he landed face-first with a nasty crunch.

Leela rolled Zapp on to his back with her foot and glared down at him. Zapp's nose was bloodied from the impact. He looked up at her with a terrified expression. "Don't you ever touch me again."

Zapp let off a fractional nod. He rolled over and, nursing his injured arm, pushed on to his knees and then stumbled toward the observation couch. Leela finished re-setting the controls to her own preference and turned to look at Fry. "Okay Philippa, time to make that call."


"Well yes, it's very simple really," Professor Farnsworth said once they had finally managed to reach him. He was wearing his nightcap and apparently little else, though fortunately the lights in his bedroom were too dim to really be sure. "The truth of the matter is, I had worked out how to transfer elements of the universal matrix quite a while ago, but certain anomalies kept turning up in the results."

"The fireballs," Fry said, leaning forward. Farnsworth nodded.

"That's certainly the prettiest part of it, yes, but there was more."

Fry unfolded the paper she was holding and held it up to the screen. "You left a note."

"Yes. Yes, I did. Many times, apparently. Many times." Farnsworth lifted up a similar piece of paper. The same note was written on it. "I found out that the universal matrix transfer creates a closed time continuum, sort of a miniature universe that has no outer boundary and sticks over the top of our own universe, something like a fridge magnet."

Bender, now sitting on Fry's lap, piped up. "That why I've been wanting to sing the Dixie Chicks' entire back catalogue all this time?"

"No, you stupid robot, it's a metaphor."

"Wow, jeeze, I was only trying to lighten the mood..." Fry stroked Bender's scalp-plate, though she knew it wouldn't have any effect on the robot. She looked around the bridge, took in everyone's faces as she worked up the courage to ask her next questions.

"What does it mean?"

"Oh well, it's simple really. The small-scale experiments I've run created alternative reality matrices that were about thirty feet across. Resetting them produced a condition where, within the matrix area, I had no longer performed the experiment, which meant that my notes to myself kept disappearing. It was only blind luck that my last one fell on the floor and outside the range of the matrix transfer effect." Farnsworth peered at the paper he was holding as if he'd never seen it before. He let go of it and then watched it drop to the floor with a strange, thoughtful expression. "The area affected seems to be some factor of the number of bosons, or perhaps the initial volume, altered by the transfer. The accident that created our current reality matrix had an effect about twenty thousand light-years across, most of which was caused by your change, Fry."

Fry swallowed and looked down at the floor. It almost felt as if she was responsible somehow. She looked up again, wanting to ask more, but her mouth was dry. Leela turned to look at Fry. She asked the question Fry didn't want to. "What will happen when you change Fry back?"

"The same volume of space will be reset, give or take a few dozen light-years. It will return to a state very similar to the one it would have held if the matrix transfer hadn't happened."

Leela looked at Samuel. "You mean we'll forget everything?"

"Oh my no," Farnsworth said with a broad smile. Leela relaxed a little. "You won't forget it because there won't be anything to forget. You'll never have experienced it in the first place."

The bridge was silent as everyone absorbed the full impact of the Professor's revelation. Fry looked at Leela again. She was holding Samuel's hand, and Fry felt something snag in her heart at the sight. She couldn't take that away from Leela. Not now. "We can't do it," she said.

Amy gasped. "Fry... Phi, you can't be serious."

"Yeah Fry," Bender said in a low voice. "Last week you said I didn't have to make an effort because you'd be changed back to your old self."

Leela turned an accusing eye on Fry. Fry swallowed and looked around the bridge again.

"I... I can't do it. Not if it means losing everything I've experienced over the last few months. Leela, I made real friends in you and Amy. I've learned things. Now I'll have to give it up and be the man you barely tolerate? I can't do that. I can't lose all of this."

There was a shuffling noise from the front of the bridge as Zapp pushed himself out of the couch. He walked toward them, still nursing his injured arm and sporting a trickle of blood on his uniform. "There's more to it than just you," Zapp said, frowning at Fry. He seemed unsure of what Fry meant, but for obvious reasons that had never stopped him before. "There's the problem of my reputation. And the Ruklisk."

"Oh lord, the flare..." Leela looked at the Professor, who seemed to have retreated out of range of the screen. "Professor, would this reset prevent those fireballs?"

"Of course it would. It would reset everything."

"So the flare that hit the Nimbus..."

Farnsworth re-appeared on the screen, sporting his usual coat, though he was still wearing the nightcap. "Do you only have one ear to match that eye or something? None of it would have happened!"

Zapp's grin was triumphant. He punched a fist into his hand "This is perfect! I would retain my ship and the aliens wouldn't be embarrassing me with their behaviour."

"Oh of course, because the great Zapp Brannigan being embarrassed is just too much for the human race to bear," Leela said. She gave Zapp a disgusted look and shook her head, but then she turned to look at Fry, and her face softened. "Still, the idiot's right. If we do this, we won't be facing an alien invasion."

"We don't know that for sure," Fry said, holding Bender's head defensively. Bender rolled his eyes.

"Hey, keep me out of this," he said. Fry tilted him a little to one side and glared at the robot.

Leela stood up and walked toward Fry. She held out her hands. "Come on Phi, this isn't helping. Give me Bender's head and come sit down. We'll talk about this, okay?"

Fry swallowed and lowered Bender's head a little. She looked at Leela, and then slowly handed Bender over.

"That's right," Leela said, putting Bender to one side. She held out her hand again. Fry took it, flinching with nerves when Leela started to draw her forward again. She lead Fry to the scanners console and sat her down.

"There's another signal coming in," Amy said. She walked over to the Communications console. "Wow, it's on every channel." Amy sat down and activated the communication screen. An image of the Grand Councilwoman Glab appeared, flanked by two Ruklisk holding oversized plasma rifles. Her face had a familiar, emotionless look as she spoke in a near-monotone.

"-der of the Democratic Order of Planets, all commercial interstellar fleet activity is hereby suspended until further notice, all interplanetary fleet activity is likewise suspended. Martial law is being declared on the primary DOOP homeworlds. This message will repeat for the next five hours. This is Grand Councilwoman Glab, President of the Democratic Order of Planets. In the last few hours there have been several reports of violent exchanges on the Ruklisk Colony of Eridani. I am here to clarify up those rumours.

"Several hours ago, a group of terrorists invaded the final signing ceremony of our peace accords with the Ruklisk and attempted to assassinate the DOOP high council. Many civilians and innocent bystanders were injured or killed by their attempt.

"Please ignore the rumours that have sprung up regarding these events. The Ruklisk and the Democratic Order of Planets are cooperating to bring the perpetrators of this act of terrorism to justice. We are issuing a formal arrest warrant for the following suspects. Turanga Leela, Earthican, former Lieutenant Kif Kroker, Amphibiosan, former Ambassador General Zapp Branningan, Earthican, Samuel Maxine, Earthican, Amy Wong, Martian. These criminals must be apprehended immediately.

"The Ruklisk fleet will move into DOOP space in order to facilitate the search for the terrorists. By order of the Democratic Order of Planets, all commercial interstellar fleet activity is hereby suspended until further notice, all interplan-"

Leela cut the power to the main viewer and slumped back in her chair. "Well poop."

"Oh we're boned," Bender said, then laughed. "And by 'we' I mean 'you', since I wasn't on that list. Nice knowing you guys. Anyone got a cigar?"

"Perhaps you didn't notice that we're all on the same ship together," Leela said, turning to glare at Bender. The robot looked away. "If they come after us right now, you're as dead as we are."

"Oh. Yeah, I forgot about that." Bender glanced out at the stars. "Don't suppose you could drop me off somewhere? I hear Alpha Centuri is quite nice this time of year."

Leela ignored the plea, concentrating on her controls. She turned to look at Fry again. "Look, the choice is simple. You can stay the way you are and end up like that..." Leela waved her arm at the blank screen. "Or you can go through with this and save the entire galaxy. You won't be the only one giving something up, Phi," Leela said as she took Samuel's hand again. Samuel smiled uncertainly. "This last year has been a wonderful time for us, but we can't think about ourselves when the fate of half the galaxy is at stake. If you really want to call yourself my friend you should think about that."


"No buts. Besides, whatever happens, we need to get to earth before we can even think about attempting to fix this and that won't be easy with the DOOP chasing us." Leela turned to look at Kif. He cowered, a reflex learned from countless years with Zapp, then slowly brought himself upright again and smoothed down his clothing and gave Leela his full attention. "Is there any way we can prove that message was faked?"

"If we had any evidence, we could get close to one of our ships and try to broadcast it to them before they blow us up," Kif replied, looking around the bridge. He clenched his hands together. "I don't really see what we can use, though."

"We do have evidence," Leela said, looking at Bender, now back on Fry's knee again. Bender sighed sadly.

"I guess Alpha Centuri's out then, huh?"

"Yep." Leela picked up Bender. She looked at Fry and tried to give her a re-assuring smile. Fry just stared at her knees, her face blank and unmoving, and probably with good reason, Leela realised. It was almost too much for her to bear. Leela looked away before she had to chance to say something stupid.

There was a loud stomping as someone clambered up the steps on to the Bridge. Hermes paused at the top, panting. He looked at the assembled crew. "Me and wife were just watching the news when I saw a message saying all of you has theselves set up as criminals," he gasped, leaning over to catch his breath. "What in the name of the great Marley is goin on up here?"

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #49 on: 12-21-2007 08:38 »

No! Fry can't go back! Not after all she's been through! Please, no, cruel fate!


Liquid Emperor
« Reply #50 on: 12-22-2007 10:43 »

No no no! You can't change Fry back! She makes a good woman *begs* Don't change her back!

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #51 on: 12-22-2007 18:18 »

Oh you strange strange people...

Space Pope
« Reply #52 on: 12-22-2007 20:57 »

I think they're fun.  smile

Space Pope
« Reply #53 on: 12-26-2007 06:48 »

May as well do another update while I'm sober.  smile


The Nimbus rested in the deeps at the head of a small flotilla of ships, drifting at less than a eighth of the speed of light along a course that would take it toward Earth in about eleven centuries if they didn't do anything. Of course, they would eventually, her new captain mused. This was just a routine check stop on their assigned patrol route.

Captain Arnk felt a certain amount of pride in his role, occupying the seat so recently vacated by the buffoon Brannigan. The Nimbus had needed so much care and attention. Her crew had one of the highest turnovers in the fleet, and one of the highest attrition rates amongst the noncoms Arnk had ever seen on a peace-time battlecruiser. He had fixed that. He had fixed a lot of things. Nimbus had gone from being the most accident-prone flagship in history to a ship that actually deserved the name.

He paced the spacious bridge of the Nimbus, admiring the sheer volume they had given to the command deck. Every other class of ship cramped their senior officers into a tiny compartment with barely enough room to move in the case of some ships. The Frankfurt, his last command, hadn't even had a chair for the captain. For most officers that would be a hardship; for him, it had been easy. All he had to do was inflate his leg reservoirs until they were rock solid and then forget about them for the next fourteen hours.

He settled into the command chair, which still bore the marks of Brannigan's frankly huge buttocks, and idly wondered if the fleet would ever get around to standardising the fleet uniform. Trousers were the only thing he missed from his last command... but yes, this certainly was the crowning moment of his career. Even the last proclamation of the Grand Council couldn't dampen his spirits and, besides, it had the added bonus of allowing the crew a chance to hunt down their oldest enemy and most implacable foe: Zapp Brannigan himself.

Though, frankly, he couldn't quite fathom that Lieutenant Kroker would be involved. Arnk knew Kroker's family. He was a good, professional officer who simply got lumbered with a bad commander. Arnk wasn't sure how Kroker fit, but he kept his doubts private from the crew. It wouldn't be seemly for a senior officer to question direct orders.

The communications officer turned to Arnk and spoke, snapping him out of his reverie. "Incoming message, sir."

"Lets have it," Arnk said, leaning back. Hopefully it'd be an order rescinding the Ruklisk presence. He didn't like having even one of their cruisers in amongst his fleet. "Well?"

"Sorry sir, it's..." the communications officer tapped a few controls. "Odd. It's a realspace transmission. Low bandwidth, text only, heavily encrypted as well. I'll have to reel back the encryption key passbook until I get a match. Could take a few minutes."


"One eleven oh ninety. The header dates it about a week ago."

"Thank you comms," Arnk said before turning to his executive officer. "Project that location and find out if we had any ships in that area."

"Right away sir."

Arnk sat back in his chair again and smiled as his XO busied himself on the far side of the bridge. A happy crew was an effective crew.

It was rare for his species to smile. In fact it wasn't even a natural expression for them but, like many Amphibiosans, he'd picked up the habit from being around the Boneys for so long, since they expected to see emotions like that on the face so often. A habit picked up was hard to put down again but he didn't mind; it let the crew know how he felt. Quite soon his XO returned holding a slim message screen.

"What have you got," Arnk said, taking the screen when it was offered.

"Light corvette Arcturus reported a possible contact with a Wanderer in that area but never confirmed a claim. They've not been heard from since and were marked as lost on tour."

Arnk nodded. 'Lost on tour' was a euphemism for a deserting crew. It had become quite common in the last few years as various ships had stumbled across paradise worlds or El Dorado rocks on the fringes of various solar systems. The choice between handing over the claim to a DOOP hierarchy increasingly dominated by people like Brannigan or simply taking the claim and disappearing on to the black market with it was not a tough one for some crews. It tended to be smaller ships that went L.O.T. most often, though there was the one notable case of that entire battle fleet disappearing to Nymphine Six. Arnk perused the screen for a moment, taking in the details. "All right, mark it as a possible emergency contact and run up a few projections for a rescue mission. We can send the Dillinger if anything firms up."

"Yes sir," the XO said, taking back the screen.

"Very well." Arnk stood up and paced around the bridge again, pausing now and then to examine a console readout. Everything seemed to be running smoothly. If only that damned Ruklisk ship wasn't tailing him everywhere. One to shoot up to the Ruperts, perhaps. He paused back at his command chair and turned to the XO. "I think that's enough time here. Prep us for our next-"

"Blackbreak, blackbreak, incoming contact sir," the scanners officer said. She started tracking down the contact before Arnk could even order her to. Professional to a tee. "Small craft incoming, k-five kliks. Some sort of customised courier transport, computer has designated uniform charlie nine seven."


"Seems like a long parabola toward Terra," the officer said as she activated another set of detailed scanners. "Civilian. Single engine. They're coasting, so it's not a hundred percent, but the signature matches the fugitive ship."

"Excellent, well done." Arnk returned to his chair, another smile on his face. It was strange how satisfying the expression could be. He turned to look at the main screen where the projected target appeared against a two-dimensional tactical view as a red dot a few hundred thousand kilometres off the starboard bow. The green splatter of his fleet was marred by the presence of a blue 'neutral friendly' icon. Arnk stared at the icon for a moment. "Inform the fleet to stand by. Oh, and XO, have our Ruklisk friend go investigate that wanderer possible. I don't want them interfering."

"Aye sir," the XO said, before repeating the order to the communications officer. The Nimbus got under way, moving toward the small craft racing across the deeps. Arnk stared at the screen.

"Why haven't they jumped?"


"They're bound to have seen us by now, why haven't they jumped away?"

"Perhaps their engines are damaged," the XO said with a shrug. He looked away. "Between you and me, sir, if Zapp is on board that thing it's highly likely that he's dumped their fuel by accident or something equally stupid."

"Hmm. I'll keep that in mind," Arnk said, settling into his command chair again. He looked around the bridge. "How's our Ruklisk friend taking his new assignment?"

The scanners officer adjusted her screens to check. "They're moving off sir, but slowly."

"Indeed? Comms?"

"Static sir. They complained when I passed on the order, said it wasn't worth the trouble."

Arnk rubbed his mouth absently. It was another habit he'd picked up from his last XO, Lieutenant Milezir, a rather proud woman with too many arms. They'd lost touch after his promotion. Hadn't she transferred to a corvette recently? "Well never mind. Call the ship, have them heave to. And prep the forward canons for a shot across their bow."

"Aye sir."


Amy looked up from her console. "They've seen us," she said.

Leela's smile was grim. She re-settled herself in her seat and looked at Fry, who was back at the communications console with Bender's head. "Are you ready?"

"As I'll ever be," Fry said sadly.

"Everyone not needed here had better get back to their cabins and strap in," Leela said as she prepped the main engine. "This might get very bumpy very fast."

"Got a signal," Fry said. She propped Bender's head up on the console. Leela nodded to receive the message.

"Unidentified craft, this is the DOOP starship Nimbus. You are in violation of the commercial space flight ban. Heave to and prepare to be taken under escort."

"The Nimbus? Good job Zapp is locked up in the laundry again," Leela muttered as she reduced power. The gargantuan starship moved alongside without firing which was a refreshing change. "Well, lets give this a shot... Nimbus, this is the private courier ship Planet Express, we will comply with your request. Please prepare to receive a video transmission."

"Bender, that's your cue," Fry said quietly. She plugged a lead into Bender's head and flicked the transmit switch.


"What the hell is this?" Arnk got out of his chair as the video of Bender's memories began to play on his screen. The bridge fell silent as the Ruklisk treachery played out. Arnk slipped back into his chair, his eyes growing wider with each moment until the screen went blank again. "Was that what I think it was?"

"It could be fake, sir," the XO said. He didn't look convinced.

"Yes, and it could be the real thing." Arnk rubbed his face again, pondering the final frozen image on the screen. He knew they were real. He'd seen documentaries of what the Ruklisk had done to the colonies they'd overrun, but there was still every chance... he wouldn't be able to judge until they could examine the video. "We can't take their word for it. Bring their ship into the docking bay and prepare a boarding party."

"Aye sir."

Arnk nodded and turned to his communications officer. "Anything from the Ruklisk?"

"No sir."

"Still on course," the scanners officer added, looking up from her console. "They've slowed down a mite, though. Almost like they don't want to get up to jump speed."

Arnk blinked and rubbed his eyes. None of it made sense. "What about that message?"

The communications officer hesitated and then started manipulating his terminal again. "I'm sorry, sir, I left it in the rush. It seems to have just completed something."

"Read it back."

"Aye." The communications officer brought the text up on his screen. "It says... 'Claim staked on wanderer, under attack, three... three Ruklisk cruisers. Activating self destruct.' That's all the computers have managed to decode so far, sir."

Arnk stood up and pointed at his XO. "Erl arshe argoya moy eyul- dammit, signal Argo and Ulysses, get that damned alien ship out of my fleet! NOW!"

"Aye sir," the XO said. Arnk closed his eyes, glad that the officer hadn't reacted to him going 'native'. The XO turned to relay the order but was interrupted by scanners.

"Sir, the Ruklisk just jumped. They're... wait, another contact, bearing seven seven oh two thirteen. They're back again sir, on an intercept course for the transport."

"Target them. Relay to the transport, message received and understood, proceed with extreme haste." Arnk tugged at his uniform. "Get that ship out of my sky, commander."


Everyone ducked when the first shots rattled past the ship. Everyone, that is, apart from Leela. She simply slammed the engines to full power and began to dive - relative to the Nimbus at least - away from the battle. She barely acknowledged the message that Fry passed on from the Nimbus, or the screamed warnings from Amy about incoming missiles. She was flying again. In her element. At the ship's top speed they were still eight hours from Earth but that wouldn't matter unless she could put a distance between the ship and the Ruklisk.

A flurry of missiles shot past on the starboard and exploded harmlessly in the vacuum. Leela didn't even notice once they were off her tail.

Suddenly they were in the clear. The Ruklisk ship fell behind under the constant barrage from the Nimbus and her fleet. Leela accelerated and the ship automatically prepared itself to jump. She hated this part. The momentary disconnect as they 'passed' the old light barrier without actually breaking it, the instant of nausea that the others never believed she felt, and then the stars were slowly passing by rather than just decorating a distant celestial sphere.

"Are they following us?"

"No." Amy extended her scans out to maximum range and looked around for any pursuit. "The Nimbus is starting to move in our direction but I can't see any other ships."

Leela loosened her grip on the wheel as the ship settled to its top speed and squeezed her eye shut until the nausea had passed. She activated the autopilot, turned out of her seat and walked over to Fry. "Right. We two are going to have a little talk."

Fry followed Leela out of the bridge, toward Leela's cabin. She paused outside the door. "What do you want to talk about?"

"Come on in and I'll tell you," Leela said. She leaned on her desk. Fry reluctantly entered the cabin and stood near the door as it closed, watching Leela, wide eyed with something that might have been fear. Leela closed her eye and bowed her head.

"You can't make me do it," Fry said, taking a step forward. Leela looked up at her again, apparently shocked at Fry's voice. She shook her head.

"You're right, I can't. You have to choose to do it."

"You're asking me to give up everything," Fry said quietly. She shuffled across the room and sat down on Leela's bed. "You don't realise what all of this means to me."

"I know what it means to me."

Fry closed her eyes, let her mind wander back over the last few months. She remembered the bitter fear she'd felt when she found out what had happened, then the joy when there was a chance of getting her own life back, but in the time since then she'd felt less sure about it. Some where along the way she'd started to enjoy herself. Life had a cruel way of forcing decisions. "Leela, you once told me that I should think with my heart."

"I wasn't talking about saving the whole of civilisation back then," Leela replied. She pushed up from the desk and started to pace about her cabin, clenching and unclenching her fists. Fry had never seen her this agitated before, no matter how things had been screwed up. It scared her. "I'm not just asking you to give up something, I'm going to lose a lot too. I'll lose Sam, just when I was starting to think I..." Leela paused and turned to look at Fry. Her eye was getting damp. "Damn it all Fry, you know what this man means to me now. If I can give that up... can't you stop being selfish for long enough t-"

"Selfish? You think I'm only doing this just for me?"

"Why else would you?"

Fry stood up and advanced toward Leela. She grabbed her by the shoulders. "Don't you see, it's because I want you to be happy! You say you love him? How can you force me to take that choice away from you?"


"Don't call me that," Fry muttered. Leela threw up her arms in disgust and turned away from Fry. "Leela, come on, this isn't just about me any more."

"Oh, it certainly is," Leela said, making her disgust plain. She almost sneered at she spoke. "You don't want to make any choices in your life. Well, you're in luck, because when the time comes I will gladly kick you into that explosion, or whatever it is, myself!"


Leela rounded on Fry, her fist almost raised in anger. Her arm shivered under the tension, and then turned into a finger pointing straight at Fry's face. "No! Don't try to weasel out of this. You think you're my friend? Would a friend make this sort of choice?"

Fry closed her eyes again and rubbed her temples. She was getting a headache. This really wasn't going how she'd hoped. "Leela..."

"Whatever excuse it is this time, I don't want to hear it. You-"

"I still love you," Fry said, looking up. Leela's mouth dropped open. She turned away. "I thought I didn't. I thought maybe I was just confused or... or something. I tried to pretend it wasn't there, but I still love you."

They stared at each other for what felt like an eternity, and Fry almost wondered if she'd managed to change Leela's mind. But then Leela spoke, and her voice was terribly calm. "You mean, all this time, when you said you were somehow different, you've been lying to me?"

"No! I mean yes. Maybe. I've been lying to myself." Fry held up her hands and looked at them as if seeing them for the first time. She'd never got around to trying the Holophoner again. Now she never would. "I realise now, I couldn't stop loving you no matter what happened. Sure, it's not the same as it was before, but it's still there."

Leela's jaw worked slowly as she mouthed out Fry's last words. She looked over her shoulder at him, her eye narrow and fierce. "I don't see how this is relevant."

"But don't you see? If I love you then how can I take away the one thing that would make your life complete? I can't take Sam away from you any more than I could take away my own legs."

Leela's face softened a little, and she shifted her weight a little in that way she had when she was starting to listen. Fry saw that she might be convincing her and pressed on. "Sam spoke to me while you were in the medbay. He said he'd figured it out. He also said you felt the same."

Fry realised it was a mistake the moment the words formed on her tongue. Leela's mouth turned down and her eye narrowed again. She clenched her jaw and walked over to the door before turning back to look at Fry. "I knew it. You don't care about Sam, or anyone else, you just care about getting close enough to me to fulfil some pathetic fantasy. I should have known better than to trust you."


"No, get out! Just get out of here," Leela shouted. Her fist smacked against the door control, which breeped loudly before activating the door. She looked away and closed her eye again, squeezing out a tear that caught on her lashes. "Don't ever say that to me again. Don't even think it around me. Just go."

Fry's shoulders slumped. She lowered her head and slowly walked out of the room with her hands in her pockets. Leela waited for the door to close, then leaned her back against it and sank down to the floor, limbs shivering as she bit down on her emotions. She slammed her balled hand against the wall, then put her head back and just screamed. There were no words, no message, just bitter anger that stretched out until the scream faded to heaving sobs that racked her entire body.

Leela eventually came to on the floor on a foetal position. Her hair was a mess, her eye felt like it was full of sand and one of her arms was completely numb. She pushed herself upright.

Fry wasn't outside. Leela tip-toed down the corridor to Samuel's cabin and timidly knocked on the door, which slid open a moment later. Samuel looked into her eye. "I heard shouting but-"

"Hush," Leela said, putting a finger to his lips. She pushed him back into the cabin. "We have four hours left. I think it's time we got to know each other."

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #54 on: 12-26-2007 08:28 »

Just when I was climbing out of my depression...

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #55 on: 12-26-2007 15:36 »

*screams for a very long time, in a high pitched wail of fustration*

Damn you damn you damn you, a nice chapter and then you go and gaaaaaah!

Space Pope
« Reply #56 on: 12-26-2007 16:41 »


Wait, what?

Bending Unit
« Reply #57 on: 12-27-2007 07:54 »

Lookn' good; how's Parallel Lives coming along?

'Naked ladies, naked ladies, naked ladies, naked ladies!'

- Justice Snoop Dogg, Into the Wild Green Yonder

Space Pope
« Reply #58 on: 12-27-2007 08:22 »
« Last Edit on: 12-27-2007 08:22 »

Oh, very well. I've nearly finished the first episode, though it's a bit longer than I wanted it to be so I'm going to have to edit it down... I'll start posting it a couple of weeks after a different view is completed.

Hopefully people will actually enjoy that one...

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #59 on: 12-28-2007 08:02 »

We enjoy this one...with Fry as a GIRL...and being SENSATIVE...and without Leela flipping out...yeah like that   big grin

This message was brought to you by the mistress, bow down and be grateful

Space Pope
« Reply #60 on: 12-28-2007 12:32 »

I seee... I'll try not to disappoint in future.  smile

Bending Unit
« Reply #61 on: 12-29-2007 18:15 »

Originally posted by Archonix:
Oh, very well. I've nearly finished the first episode, though it's a bit longer than I wanted it to be so I'm going to have to edit it down... I'll start posting it a couple of weeks after a different view is completed.

Hopefully people will actually enjoy that one...

I'm looking forward to it! Having read all of 'Different View', I'll say that if it's anything like that, it'll be great.  smile

'Naked ladies, naked ladies, naked ladies, naked ladies!'

- Justice Snoop Dogg, Into the Wild Green Yonder

Space Pope
« Reply #62 on: 01-01-2008 16:06 »

Coldy might disagree with you on that...  wink

Anyway, on with the show.


Three ships. They'd lost three ships. Arnk wasn't smiling any more. He looked about the bridge of the Nimbus, marveling at how it seemed so undamaged despite the pounding they'd taken but, then, that wasn't surprising given how deep they were within the ship's superstructure.

Three ships.

"We're coming up on them now, sir," the scanner's officer said quietly. She was meant to go off duty an hour ago. Most of the bridge crew were over-staying, leaving the night shift to mill around the bridge or act as back-ups.


"Undamaged and flying free," scanners said, focusing on the Planet Express ship. Arnk nodded. They would be reaching earth in just under an hour. He glanced at the tactical display, which showed his escorts trailing behind in a ragged line. The Nimbus easily outclassed them in speed and endurance. Beyond that, he knew, lay the wrecks of the three doomed ships and the Ruklisk cruiser. The Finnigan had been left behind to monitor for any more real-space signals from the Arcturus, but he didn't expect to see much. The computers were still trying to decode the signal they'd received; interference from the corvette's apparent destruction had scrambled it.

Arnk turned to his XO. Contact them. I need to know what they're up to."

"Perhaps they just wanted to go home, sir," the XO said. Arnk nodded, but didn't rescind his order. The XO sighed and passed it on. "Sir, why are we pushing so hard to get to earth?"

"If you hadn't noticed, commander, the Ruklisk are invading."

"Aye sir, but they're still deploying from Eridani. Apart from one or two ships they don't be near earth for another day at least."

Arnk shook his head and pointed at the tactical display. "The Arcturus wasn't blown up by someone's imagination, commander. Whatever hit them was well inside our space a long time before the peace treaty was signed. If that was the Ruklisk and not just a scam by a L.O.T. crew I want to know how many they are, how far they've got and if there are more like them."

It was the XO's turn to nod. He turned to look at the tactical display with his hands behind his back.

"We have contact," the comms officer said. Arnk stood up.

"Main screen."

"Aye sir. Main screen." The tactical display blanked out and then resolved to an image of the Planet Express ship's bridge. A young red-haired woman looked up with a hint of surprise on her face, eyes red and a little puffy, from what Arnk didn’t care to guess.

"Oh, hi there," she said, glancing over at the empty pilot's chair. "Uh... Leela's not here right now."

"I assume that would be your captain?"

"That's right. I'm Fr... Philippa. Philippa Fry. I guess I'm third in command."

"As far as I'm aware, a ship of your class normally only has a crew of three or four at most," Arnk replied, pacing toward the screen a little. He waved his hand as if to dismiss the thought. "I really need to speak to your captain."

"I'll-" Fry was interrupted as another, younger woman peeped on to the screen.

"I could get Kif, he'll be able to talk to these people," she said, before smiling at Arnk. "Ooh, another one..."

"Anyone with command experience will do," Arnk said, forcing a smile onto his face. Both women blushed slightly. He hadn't realised he was that attractive. The younger woman skipped – how odd – out of the bridge, returning a moment later with a rather wary looking Lieutenant Kroker in tow. "Ahh, Lieutenant, how nice to see you again."

"Captain," Kif said, bowing his head a little. The lieutenant shuffled his feet. "I'm told you wish to speak to me."

"Yes, Lieutenant. I am not specifically authorised to do so, however I feel I must convey my apologies to yourself and the others named as terrorists by the Order. I am revoking that status as of now."

"That's very kind of you sir. If that's all, I really should be going. I have to make sure Zapp is fed and watered again."

"Forget about him, Lieutenant," Arnk said, with a generous wave of his hands. He stepped toward the screen again.

"Gladly, sir." Kif almost seemed relieved. Or perhaps terrified. Arnk suddenly realised how accustomed he had grown to the Boney way of showing emotions.

"Eurila ullamphioia," Arnk said, reverting to his native language. «Lieutenant, you look like you have something more you want to say.»

«Possibly I do, sir. The humans on this ship believe they have a way to undo Brannigan's 'mishandling' of the negotiations.» Kif glanced briefly at Amy, who watched him with a wary eye, before going on. «It's a rather involved story, but the summary is that this red-haired one was part of some sort of accident that apparently altered the course of events enough to affect the outcome of the negotiations. They believe that reversing the accident will restore the original course of events and prevent the Ruklisk from gaining a foothold, amongst other things.»

«Interesting, Lieutenant, very interesting...» Arnk made a passable impression of rubbing his chin, though he knew only the humans might appreciate it. «And yet there is a possibility... but I will get back to you on that.» Arnk paused, his thoughts occupied by the remaining strength of his fleet. How likely would the others be to turn against the hierarchy? He didn't want to contemplate the direction such questions inevitably lead. "We will accompany you to earth in order to prevent your destruction at the hands of their planetary defence system." Arnk's sudden reversion to standard seemed to surprise the two women on the screen, not to mention his own crew. The red-haired one – Philippa? Such strange names these humans had – stared at him with intense suspicion, but he shrugged it off. "Keep me informed of your progress, Lieutenant."

"Thank you, sir," Kif said. He turned and stepped out of view. Fry gave Arnk another suspicious glare. She seemed to be quite sad about something, Arnk realised, but strangely determined as well. Perhaps it was just the strain of the last few days.

"You still want to talk to Leela? I don't think I'll be able to get her before we're ready to land."

"No, this will be fine," Arnk said. He paused before signalling the XO to turn off the screen. "One more thing, miss Fry. I believe you have Zapp Brannigan on board?"

"Yeah, he's locked in the laundry again," Fry said, smiling briefly. She glanced over her shoulder, as if expecting someone to enter the bridge. "He's not very happy right now."

"Excellent. When you land, please feel free to shoot him for us," Arnk said. He steepled his hands and smiled again. "If what I have just heard is correct, it may not matter, but it would be very satisfying to to me, personally, if that could be achieved. Nothing fatal, just a knee or a toe will do."

"Right..." Fry turned and looked at the dark-haired one, then switched off the screen. Arnk smiled and returned to his seat, where his XO gave him an odd look.


"Oh. Nothing, sir. Just..." The XO's voice faded off. He waved his hand toward the blank screen.

"I doubt they'll actually do it," Arnk said, still smiling. "But a man can dream. Any progress on that message yet?"


Fry didn't turn when Leela returned to the bridge, or even acknowledge her, which suited Leela just fine right then. She settled down into her chair and buckled up. The autopilot flashed up a few routine messages and then informed her of the communication between the ship and the Nimbus. "Did I miss anything?"

"We've got an escort," Amy said, pointing out of the window. A great distance off Leela could see a glittering trail moving along with them. "Kif managed to talk the captain of the Nimbus in to escorting us to earth."

"How nice of him," Leela replied, turning off the autopilot. She glanced out of the window at the blue point in space that was Earth. Even at this distance she thought she could see a vague hint of clouds and continents. "Well, we have about fifteen minutes, assuming they don't try and shoot us down the minute we try to land."

Fry seemed like she was about to say something, but then thought better of it. She turned back to her console and stared out at earth. They passed the time in silence, watching Earth grow larger in the front window until they passed through Luna's orbit, and through the orbits of the the three Orbital Cities that danced around the world in complex criss-crossing paths. Nimbus and her fleet hung back in high orbit, sending a pair of assault fighters to accompany them down to the ground. If the defence systems were going to fire, it would have been then.

Nothing. Leela let out the breath she didn't realise she'd been holding. "I guess we're in the clear," she said. Then one of the fighters exploded. "What the f- Amy!"

Amy grabbed on to her seat as Leela executed a perfectly timed corkscrew dive toward the atmosphere. The other fighter pulled into a steep loop and spun around defensively, only to be destroyed by a hail of canon fire. "I can't see it, I... wait, got it! Loa tyen yeh... they can't be here!"


"We have them," Arnk said over the comms. There was a momentary crackle as a maser struck the ship's hull, distorting the signal. "You had better make your escape fast. There are three more of their cruisers moving across Luna's orbit. We are going to engage them. Good luck."

Leela killed the comms and twisted the ship into a death-dive, bringing flaming plasma up over the hull as they hit the bulk of the atmosphere too fast and too steep. The sudden manoeuvres stretched the gravity generators to their limits again, sending momentary glitches through the system. Fry screamed as she lifted from her seat and flew across the bridge. She bounced off the rear bulkhead. Leela heard the sickening crunch as something in Fry's body gave way under the impact.

Almost there...

The Ruklisk were long gone, lost somewhere above the atmosphere, battling against the Nimbus and her fleet. Leela turned the ship, ignoring every protocol on atmospheric flight as she gunned the engine to its maximum thrust. New New York appeared in the distance, a coruscating chain of lights that reflected in the murk of the Atlantic and spread out along the coast. Home, for what it was worth. She flew toward the Planet Express building, their passage whipping a trail of spray almost a hundred feet in the air as the ship cut through the atmosphere at mach fifteen, trailing plasma and steam in its wake as the atmosphere was sliced into is constituent elements.

At the last minute Leela flipped the ship over. The hull creaked and groaned at the unaccustomed stresses, and somewhere deep in the ship something gave way with a resounding clang. They came to a halt barely yards from the building, giving Leela a small amount of room to right the ship before landing.

The minute the engines shut off Leela leaped from her seat and ran to Fry's prostrate form. She was still breathing, but barely. "Fry?"

"Mommy, why did the car fall over?" Fry said, opening her eyes. She looked up in to Leela's face and winced. "Ow. Right. Amy, I will never tease you about falling over ever again."

With great care Fry tried to move. She hissed in pain as she lifted her left leg. Leela reached out to it, but Fry batted her away. "I'm fine. It's just a sprain."


"Just leave it, Leela." Fry pulled herself upright and then yelped in pain as she tried to stand on her left foot. She hopped over to the ladder and began to climb down.

"Where are you going?"

Fry paused, her upper body still above the deck. She stared up at Leela, her eyes filled with a pain completely separate to the physical. "You made it perfectly clear where you wanted me to be, Leela," she said, before lowering herself down to the mid-deck. Leela leaned forward but Fry had already gone. "Amy, lock down the ship. And when you see Sam, tell him I'm in the Professor's lab."

"Right," Amy said. She stepped over to the pilot's chair and started shutting down the ship's systems. Leela climbed on to the ladder and followed Fry.

Leela caught up with Fry at the bottom of the airlock steps. She grabbed Fry's arm and pulled her to a halt. Fry shrugged off Leela's grip and limped toward the lab. "Phi, wait."


"Please!" Leela jogged to keep up with Fry and tried to catch her eye. It didn't work. "Fry, you can't blame me for this. I didn't choose this any more than you did!"

Fry stopped in mid-stride and glared at Leela, before turning up the stairs to the conference level. Professor Farnsworth was waiting at the top, poised with his arms a little spread like some benevolent deity. "Ahh, ladies, you're finally here. Everything is ready in the upstairs lab."

Fry nodded and began to follow Farnsworth toward the stairs. Leela hung back a little. She looked around the open hangar, desperate for something, anything that might give her some guidance. Nothing. With a sigh she followed Fry and the Professor.



The bridge rocked as a barrage of high energy weapons-fire slammed against the hull of the Nimbus, disrupting systems for a fraction of a second. Arnk was thrown from his chair and sprawled in a heap. He pushed himself upright. "Shields!"

"Holding," someone replied.

"Find out where that ship came from and return fire!" He climbed back into the chair just as another impact shook the room, less urgently this time, but more prolonged. Arnk looked up at the tactical display. A dozen red dots filled it now, swarming around earth, dwarfing his depleted fleet. Arnk had managed to convince the planetary defence grid to start targeting the Ruklisk only after they had started firing at the Lincoln Orbital, by which time it was probably too late for that station. Huge escape pods were racing for the atmosphere, chased by Ruklisk harvesters.

Arnk screwed up his eyes. There was a good reason his people had referred to them as the Abomination. How could the Order have been so willfully blind?

The combined strength of the defence grid and the fleet was beginning to even the odds now. Ruklisk ships were tumbling, burning, plummeting into the atmosphere of earth as their orbits decayed or venting atmospheric gasses threw them off course. There was a momentary pause as both sides sought new positions, trying to strengthen their advantages and deny the other the highest orbit. Another Ruklisk ship exploded under the almost constant barrage of munitions and weapons-fire from the defence grids.

Arnk turned to the communications officer. "Anything on that message yet?"

"A moment sir..." the officer switched from the backup weapons console to the comms. "Almost completed. Ninety eight percent restored, all plain text."

"Read it back to me."

The comms officer peered at his screen. "It starts off with a set of coordinates and the stake claim on the Wanderer, its designation, then, lets see..." the ship shivered as a distance-weakened maser played across its upper hull. "It's a sensor readout sir. Seems to be of the Wanderer itself."


"Aye," the scanners officer said, bringing up the message. She read what must have been little better than raw code like it was a book. "Seems to be a flash scan of the surface of the wanderer nearest to the ship. Extensive deposits of exotics, chrondrite, water ice... ahh, this is interesting," she said, tapping the screen. "There's a series of low level heat signatures. They were masked, then unmasked. Looks like a fairly extensive long-term colony base, several shipyards and facilities to support two, maybe three strategic interdiction fleets."

"Sounds like they'd been there for quite a while," Arnk said. He looked at the tactical display. They were facing a fleet about equal to Nimbus's support fleet. Two more of those roaming DOOP space. It wouldn't have mattered if the entire DOOP fleet had disappeared or not with that sort of firepower amongst the shipping lanes. "They were planning this for a long time. That wanderer must have entered our space over a century ago."

"Approximately two hundred and fifty years ago, sir."

Arnk rubbed his finger and thumb together. It helped him think. "At least we know about it while there's still a chance to deal with it, but... if Lieutenant Kroker's friends go through with their experiment..." Arnk stood up. "Get hold of-" An explosion. The bridge seemed to tip upside down. Arnk flew from before his chair and then landed on his XO.


Kif walked on to the bridge just as Amy was shutting down the last of the major systems. He watched her for a moment, smiling to himself at the sight of the young human working away, until she reached the communications console. "Amy, wait."

"Agh! Kif, you scared me!"

"I'm sorry Amy," Kif said, taking her hand. He stroked her arm with his other hand and smiled again. "Can you leave the radio on? I need to get in touch with captain Arnk."

Amy looked down at the console. It was the only system left before shutting off the main computer. She shrugged. "Sure, just remember to turn it off when you're done. Though... I guess it won't matter, really," she added, looking down at the floor. Kif smiled at her and put a hand to her cheek.

"Dearest Amy..." He sat down at the console. "It might be better if you wait outside. Military secrets, you know."

"Sure," Amy said. She clambered down the galley ladder and disappeared into the depths of the ship. Kif turned back to the radio and tuned into the Nimbus' last used frequency.

"Nimbus, this is Lieutenant Kroker calling, come in please." He waited a moment. Static, punctuated by the flare of high energy weapons fire. "Nimbus?"

"We're here, Lieutenant," a voice said. "The old man is in the medical bay. I'll patch you through."

A moment's silence. Kif waited, then: "Lieutenant Kroker, good to hear you survived."

"Thank you sir. I hope you aren't injured."

"Nothing a little rest and recreation won't cure, though I think my executive officer will be sore for a while," Arnk said lightly. He coughed and then went quiet, probably leaning away from the pickup. "It's a good job you called when you did. I'm afraid we have some unfortunate news. I'll have the bridge crew transmit the details down to you."

"Thank you, sir," Kif said. He waited again. The communications console made a few odd noises and then began to print out a hard-copy of a message. Kif read the lines that came out of the console, his eyes tracing each one in turn. If his skin could have turned pale at that point, it would have. "Oh no..."

Space Pope
« Reply #63 on: 01-04-2008 20:44 »

And so we plough on toward the inevitable climax.


"Now, miss Fry, you have to stand just here." Farnsworth manoeuvred Fry in front of a large parabolic dish that seemed to be rather brighter than it should have been under the lab lights. It almost glowed, a bright magnesium-white bowl. She screwed up her eyes a little. Leela stood in the background, watching the preparations with a blank expression. "Now then, yes... you need to, uh, just stand there and hold on to this carbon rod. I think that's what you were bringing up for me."

"I don't remember," Fry said quietly, her mind distant. She looked around the lab. "Is this going to hurt?"

"Oh my... I never really bothered to find out." Farnsworth adjusted his glasses and peered at a computer readout. "Not that it matters, of course. Any pain would be a temporary and essentially unknown state. A non-event even."

"That's very re-assuring," Fry said. She held up the carbon rod that Farnsworth had given her and looked at it. It didn't seem familiar, but then she wasn't really certain about a lot of the details of the accident.

"Now, that should be everything... all that's required is to wait about five minutes. Fortunately it'll take that long to power up the devices." Farnsworth pottered off behind the grey box attached to the dish and started to open hatches and pull levers. Fry turned to look at Leela while they waited.

"Got any last things you want to say?"

Leela bit her lip. "I... no," she said, closing her eye for a moment. She looked away. "Yes. I enjoyed it, for what it's worth."

"For what it's worth," Fry said. "It's not worth much at all now, is it? We won't remember."

"We won't, but at least we know now." Leela looked at Fry again, and even took a step forward until the Professor shouted at her. She pressed herself back against the wall. "Now is all that matters in the end."

Fry nodded.


Kif almost tripped over Amy on the airlock steps. He stumbled to a halt near the bottom and looked up to her, pleading. "Where did they go? I need to stop them!"

"Oh! Upstairs," Amy said, standing up. She ran down the steps and took Kif's hand. "I'll show you. Oh, but wait here a second."

Amy ran back up to the top of the steps. "Sam! Sam, Leela said she'd be in the lab!"

"Gotcha," Samuel said from somewhere within the ship. Amy smiled and ran back down the stairs. Kif gave her an exasperated look, to which Amy just shrugged.

"Why do you have to-"

"I can't explain, we just have to." Kif ran after Amy as she lead him up the stairs.


"That's one minute," Farnsworth said. He moved over to the far side of the lab. "Leela, you had better get somewhere a bit further away or you might be caught in the primary effect."

"In a second," Leela said. She stepped closer to Fry again. Fry almost smiled. "Look. I'm sorry. Maybe things will work out, I don't know, but... I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry too," Fry said. She didn't move toward Leela, just held out her hand for a second. "Here's to goodbyes..."

"Thirty seconds," Farnsworth said. Leela smiled briefly and stepped back. She moved around the lab until she was next to the Professor. "Fifteen..."

The door burst open. Kif ran over to the Professor, trailed by Amy and waving a sheet of paper. "You have to stop!"

"Wha? But I-"

"Stop the machine!"

"I can't! It's on automatic now, it'll activate in... five seconds. Four."

"No, you have to-"

"Leela, what's going on?"


"Activating," Farnsworth said. Almost whispered. The parabolic dish began to glow a bright orange, spreading out from the centre until the entire dish seemed to be an infinitely deep orange pit. A stream of energy erupted forth, engulfing Fry. She screamed.


Darkness. And then light. What happened?


Fry came to in a hospital bed. There was a moment of disorientation as memories slotted back into mind. An accident? Some sort of...

A figure leaned over and looked at her. "How are you feeling?" The voice was gruff, but familiar, the face...

"Lee... Lelan?" Fry said slowly, the word forming in her mind. The man leaning over her smiled slightly. His single eye blinked. "What..."

"We thought we'd lost you there. And..." The one called Lelan stepped back as a nurse came forward holding what looked like a bundle of cloth. Fry felt a sudden overwhelming longing as the bundle was placed into her arms. It began to cry.


The world ripped away, stealing a single gasp from Fry's lips before the light returned.


Sounds. Some sort of...


Darkness again, more profound than before. Fry tried to open his eyes and look around, wondering what had woken him. Leela lay in the bed next to him, breathing slowly, peacefully. He reached out to touch her shoulder. She squirmed under his fingers and rolled over, mumbling in her sleep. Fry rolled on to his back and looked up, smiling.

Right into the face of a Ruklisk.




Fry wandered across the ruined landscape that had been his home toward the crumbing and faded wall where the graves were. He knelt down by the largest and best kept, and wept over the simple marker that bore Leela's name.




Fry stood at the centre of a raging torrent of energy, sure she should be feeling agony, but feeling nothing. Her skin was numb. She peered out into what looked like the Professor's lab.

"Impressive, isn't it?"

"What?!" Fry looked around. A strange, yet familiar figure stood a little distance away in the ever-changing and yet never-changing torrent of light and power. The world shimmered a she turned... or he, or... Fry looked down. What passed for a body was little more than an androgynous silver lump, a parody of the human form. Fry whimpered with a voice that couldn't be heard. "What the hell is this?"

"Existence. Being. It's hard to explain, even in abstract terms," the other said. It was the same silvery figure, shiny and bright, yet strangely un-reflective. "I could go all Matrix on you and call it some sort of residual self image, but who in their right minds would imagine themselves as a reject from Lawnmower Man?"

Fry laughed despite... itself. There was a definite lack of the definite gendered pronoun in its mind now. A lack of anything defining. Little more than memory. "Who... what am I? And what are you? What was that?"

"I explained. Essence. The nature of the beast. That which is beneath. Id. Hypostasis. So many questions..." The other tilted its slender head to one side and seemed to regard Fry for a little while, despite having no eyes. "Your confusion is considerable, and understandable. Shall I start at the beginning?"

Fry nodded. "Please..."

"Very well. First, you are Fry. Philippa or Philip, right now that is unimportant. You are Fry. Keep hold of that thought."


The other nodded. Fry got the impression it was smiling, despite not having a mouth. "I am... well, until a few nanoseconds ago I was not. Now I am. I have no name." It held up a shiny hand before Fry could start talking. "It will make sense in a moment. What you experienced just now was, to invent a term, a reality wash. Multiple possible realities impinging on your conscious perception. Some of them are real, some are not. All of them are possible."

"You mean that one where I had a... a..." Fry's voice, whatever it was, faltered at the recollection of longing, so powerful and overwhelming, so similar and yet so completely different to the longing for Leela.

"That particular reality occurring in that fashion had a probability of some sixteen quadrillion to one, unless, of course, you suddenly desired it at this particular moment. In terms of the multiverse that's actually a very high probability." The creature turned away from Fry and walked a little way toward the dish. It reached out to touch it but then hesitated at the last moment as its fingers seemed to shimmer in the glowing haze. "I should tell you, Fry, right now you are experiencing something that no sentient being should ever be able to experience, the odds are so incredibly remote. At this moment you don't exist."

"I'm pretty sure I do," Fry said, refusing to look down in case even the slick, featureless body had disappeared. "I mean, I'm here, aren't I?"

"Strictly speaking?" Fry swallowed. The creature turned back again. "Your Professor was very nearly right when he described the circumstances of your accident. In the broad stroke, you experienced what he referred to as a reality matrix transfer. Elements of another universe were imposed upon your own, altering it at the fundamental level."

"I sort of switched off somewhere near the start when he tried to explain that."

"Indeed. Yet now you understand, after a fashion."

Fry closed its eyes... or at least tried to, felt muscles move, felt the eyelids close even, but sight remained. Nevertheless it provided a moment to think. "Hey... you're right, I do. I'm smarter!"

"Fractionally," the creature said with another one of its invisible smiles.  It held its hands together. "What your Professor wasn't able to deduce was that the universe that impinged on this one was brought into existence from the moment you desired it. Essentially, that change in state was a result of your innermost desires manifesting. The accident allowed what he termed the reality matrix to become infinitely flexible, at the same time as projecting your ego upon it."

"You're saying I wanted to be a woman?"


"Then I'm very confused," Fry said. The creature rocked its head back. It might have been a laugh. Images of the outside world melted across the slick surface of its face.

"Yes, I imagine you are. It's quite simple really. Your subconscious desired to be close to Leela, or closer than could be achieved as a male. Your culture and your experience of life has somehow impressed upon your ego that women will be necessarily closer to other women than men, no matter how intimate they become, and no matter what you consciously believe. Consequently your desire to be close to Leela expressed itself as a desire to be like Leela. And so you were."

Fry didn't particularly like where this was going but, at the same time, it seemed to make a lot of sense. At least to him. Or her. Or it. He looked out into the misty approximation of the lab, where Leela seemed to be on the verge of reaching toward the blast with her mouth open. "I was closer to her until I blew it. Again."

"Yes, you were doing quite well up to that point, but the fault does not lie entirely in your own hands. Leela's prejudices also played a part. As did sheer chance."

"Where do you fit into this?"

"Ahh, well that's the interesting thing, at least from my point of view," the creature said. "I am also a product of your desire. You created me and this momentary continuum because you sought guidance, something of a deus ex machina that would explain everything for you. I am actually one of the smartest creatures in the universe, and I will exist as long as you keep me here. But no longer."

"Wow, that's tough," Fry said, looking the figure up and down. The other shrugged – a strange motion when seen in a perfect mirror-shine. Fry looked about the never-moving yet ever-moving plasma that surrounded them, trying to think of something else to add. "Doesn't that make you sad?"

"I suppose, after a fashion. I do feel a certain regret that my entire existence will consist of answering your questions, but at the same time that is my entire reason for existing. While I do exist I have already experienced everything the universe has to offer, otherwise I would not be particularly wise, so I feel quite fulfilled. It's an odd paradox. I am fortunate I won't have to think about it for very long."

"Yeah but... jeez. That really sucks. I mean, really sucks. Can't I make you last longer?"

"I doubt your ego could entertain the idea," the figure said. It seemed to sigh. "The initial conditions that brought me into existence were a product of your subconscious. Conscious desires have little impact on the subconscious in such a short period of time. You could not, for example, simply conjure up large pile of money in this state, as much as you might consciously want it, unless your subconscious also wanted it."

"Dunno about that," Fry said, holding out its hands. A bowl of ice-cream appeared. "Hah. This was meant to be a beer."

"A better example I could not provide," the other said. It dipped a finger in the ice-cream and seemed to taste it. Plasmatic light swirled around the creature as it leaned forward to peer at the bowl. "Not bad. A little bland, perhaps. The conscious made a demand, in your case for something to treat yourself. The subconscious believed it should supply something based on that demand and upon recent experiences and your own prejudices. It is, in fact, being sexist."

The ice-cream disappeared as Fry's arms dropped to its side. Fry turned a slow circle, looking around the lab, until its vision rested on Kif waving his piece of paper. "That doesn't look good."

"It isn't. The Ruklisk are invading."

"I know that."

"Yes, but did you know that they were invading anyway?" Fry looked over at the creature. It shrugged. "Of course you didn't. If you haven't worked it out, the Ruklisk were always going to invade. The peace negotiations were a ruse designed to buy more time."

"Can't I zap them out of existence? I'm in this reality thingy, I should be able to-"

"I have little doubt that you could... if your subconscious really wanted it. Does it? Would you actually desire to wipe out an entire species?"

Fry thought, hard, looking deep inside. "No..."

"Whatever choice you have made, there is an extremely high probability that the Ruklisk will begin to overrun human space within the next sixty years, and in almost all cases you would have no knowledge of it occurring until it was too late."

"But... we're fighting them. We're fighting them now! I could just imagine us winning, couldn't I?"

"You could imagine them turning into little balls of fluff but it would make little difference. Conscious desire-"

"Has no impact on the subconscious, I get it already. So... now what?"

"The Ruklisk become immaterial to the choice your subconscious is making. You will chose a reality based upon your desires, whatever they may be."

"But I don't know what they are..."

"Nobody ever does," the creature said sadly. It's voice seemed quieter, distant. "Now, I cease to exist. You have your guidance. Your subconscious has already made its choice." The creature was already fading when Fry looked at it again. It held up a hand to say goodbye. "I would like to say it was fun while it lasted, but it's likely that would be a lie. Well, so long..."


The blast of energy hit Fry, tearing at body and mind like a fire-storm gale howling through a forest, destroying everything in its path. For a moment there was nothing but the sensation of white heat, and light, and then a feeling of being lifted and thrown. The crunching impact. A million potential voices cried out in identical terror.

The machine exploded.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #64 on: 01-04-2008 21:22 »

That was cool.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #65 on: 01-04-2008 21:46 »

I see them all... The sun and the moon; the day and night.... *sniff*

But why do they hurt?...

Space Pope
« Reply #66 on: 01-05-2008 06:16 »

Because you're allergic to sunlight!

I'm thinking I might just wait a couple of weeks before posting the next bit, just to keep all three of you on a nasty cliffhanger...

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #67 on: 01-09-2008 13:57 »

MEEEEEAAAAAN! We was Phillipa, we want girl Fry, we want yuri! Give us the yuri! *chants*

Space Pope
« Reply #68 on: 01-09-2008 15:52 »
« Last Edit on: 01-09-2008 15:52 »

I can't promise yuri... strange that I knew what that meant.

Anyway I can't promise that specific thing in this story. It has a very definite ending that a lot of people will absolutely hate whilst others will quite like it depending on what they wanted to see. I'm not saying who will hate it, or like it, or why they will do so, I just know they, whoever they are, will either enjoy or despise the end, one way or another.

Such is life.   smile

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #69 on: 01-09-2008 23:32 »
« Last Edit on: 01-10-2008 00:00 »

*The Bad Wolf turns jle1993 into dust*

*Turns to Archonix*

No yuri, please. Just Phillipa.


Space Pope
« Reply #70 on: 01-10-2008 05:21 »

Fry's eyes snapped open. A dark room. A hospital room. Dawn light glimmered through a gap in the cheap curtains that hung over the window. Machines bipped and warbled in the background. Fry groaned and flopped back on the pillow. Had it worked?

The questioning of the event, a voice said in Fry's mind, would not exist had you succeeded in the plan you carried. One thing has changed, though; you were not the only one with a desire for another's welfare. Consider it a final parting gift.

Fry groaned and sat up as memory of the voice faded. She held her head in her hands, nursing the pounding ache behind her eyes and groaned again.


"Oh, great." Fry took her hands from her chest and sighed. She reached out to touch the bedside lamp and squinted at the bright light it threw around the room. “I still have boobs.”

"And very nice they are too." Fry looked up in shock at the voice. Bender was sat in a chair on the far side of the room, smoking a cigar. It was herbal or something, supposedly aromatic. It still stank.


"In the flesh, baby," Bender said, thumping his chestplate. "Or not." He blew a smoke-ring, then stubbed out the cigar on his head and swallowed it. "You look like crap."

"I feel like crap." Fry stopped and looked Bender up and down. He sported a few shiny patches where some of his parts had been replaced but, otherwise, was quite normal. "Nice to see you walking about again."

"Yeah. That Sam guy is pretty handy with a soldering iron. I feel a hundred and ten percent." Bender hurked up the cigar again and held it out to examine it. There was a microchip embedded in the side. "Aww, I don't know where these things keep coming from but they'd better not be important."

"Very handy..." Fry giggled. She looked around the room but, apart from Bender, it was deserted. Her momentary joy faded away. "Where's Leela? I thought she'd be here."

"Yeah. Well... I think she went out to pee," Bender said, examining his cigar again. He held up a lighter to it and then seemed to think better of the idea. "She's been taking turns with that boyfriend of hers to watch over you."


"Yeah. They haven't been serious about it though. Every time I come in here they seem to get all angry and run off to a closet down the corridor. At least I think they get angry. Leela's face turns really red."

"Oh." There wasn't much else to say. Fry pulled her knees up to her chest and rested her chin on them as she entertained thoughts of what could have been while Bender returned to his spot by the window. He opened the curtains, and then the window itself, and leaned out to smoke his cigar. Fry blinked and smiled at the robot. It wasn't like him to be so considerate.

She turned on the TV and watched the news for a minute. It didn't make particularly pleasant viewing, with stories of a brewing war between the Democratic Order and the Ruklisk, and snatched tales of invading fleets appearing as if by magic in the middle of DOOP space. Fry grunted and switched it off.

The door opened. "All right Bender," Leela said as she came in. "You can go home and- oh. You're awake." Fry nodded. Leela walked around the end of the bed and stood leaning on the guard rail. She stared at Fry, her face an image of studious neutrality.

Bender turned from his window and took in the scene. "Ahh. You going to get angry again?"

"Ang... no," Leela said, frowning. Bender managed a fairly good approximation of a shrug and light-stepped from the room, humming to himself. The smell of cigars and alcohol faded after him. Leela turned around, leaning back in the guard as she looked out of the window. "So, here we are."

"Yep." Fry lowered her knees and leaned back in the bed a little, making herself comfortable. When Leela didn't speak again she crawled out from under the covers and knelt at the guard-rail beside her. "You're not saying much."

"That's because there's not much to say," Leela replied. She folded her arms. Fry raised her eyebrows and then frowned.

"Wow. I remember getting the silent treatment before but it never felt bad until now."

"Hah." Leela stood up and walked over to the window, where she looked out over the small portion of the city she could see. Fry shrugged and clambered from the bed, reasoning she should at least put on some underwear now.

"Did anyone bring my pyjamas?"

"Second drawer down," Leela said, turning around. She stared at Fry again, mouth working as she tried to form what she wanted to say. "Fry, how could you do this?"

Fry paused half way through pulling clothes from the drawer. "Do what?"

"This. Choose to be..." Leela sighed and sat down on the bed next to Fry. She put her hands between her knees and stared at them. "You know, if you'd done what you promised to do we wouldn't even be having this conversation."

Fry pulled on her pyjama pants and sat down next to Leela. "It worked out all right didn't it?"

"That's not the point," Leela replied, screwing up her face. She looked at Fry. "You based your decision on your feelings toward me. As far as you knew changing everything back was the better choice, but you didn't choose it."

"Leela, I didn't have a choice."

"You mean you didn't let yourself-"

"No." Fry stood up and walked across to the window. She leaned on the window-frame and started out at the city. "I don't really remember much of what happened. I know that I tried to change things, but it didn't work. I couldn't..." she turned around to look at Leela. "It wasn't a choice I could just make. No matter how much I understood what had to be done up here," she said, tapping her head, "I couldn't change how I felt in here."

Fry put her hand on her heart. Leela rocked her head to one side and peered at Fry, her cheeks colouring up slightly. She stood up. "I told you..."

"I know, Leela, and I'm sorry." Fry leaned back on the window and tucked her hands under her armpits. She closed her eyes. "All I can do is apologise. I've been apologising for how I felt for you ever since we met, why should now be any different?"

"That doesn't matter now, Fry," Leela said. She stood up and walked toward the door, then paused with her hand on the handle. "You could have got us all killed."

"If I’d changed things back they'd still be invading us, but we wouldn’t know!" She looked at her hands again. "And you wouldn't have been happy."

Leela suddenly punched the door, caving in the cheap wooden veneer. "Damnit..." She turned and glared at Fry. "It could have just as easily screwed up completely, Fry! Don't you get it? You can't make decisions like this based on your feelings!"

"Why not?"

"Because it's not safe! It's dangerous!"

"Oh like you're all so cold and logical all the time," Fry said, letting her arms drop again. She could feel her hands balling into fists and forced them to straighten out again. Leela massaged her knuckles, still glaring at Fry, but didn't say anything else so Fry carried on. "You just can't accept that I might actually be right about something."

"Now that's not fair."

"As if any of this is fair," Fry said, downcast. She looked up at Leela again. "Everything works out for the best but you don't want to see it that way. You're the one who made the mistake. You're the one taking your anger out on me for being right. How is that fair?"

Leela scowled at Fry. "You..." she sighed and turned away. "I don't feel like arguing with you right now, Fry."

"No. Of course you don't," Fry said quietly. She turned and looked out of the window, watched the traffic skim by far below and above. "I guess I'll be out of here in a few days. Maybe I'll see you at work."

"Maybe." Fry waited until the door had closed before she looked back at the room.  She fought the urge to run out into the corridor after Leela and concentrated on finding the rest of her pyjamas.


Dearest Diary,

It's me again. Who else would it be? Samuel, perhaps, who seems to have taken a great interest in reading everything I've written to you about him. I have a lot to say today, but I don't know how to say it, which is something that may surprise you. It surprised me.

First, the good news. Samuel proposed to two nights ago, after a wonderful dinner that he cooked for me himself. I'll get back to that in a moment though, because I want to go over the bad news too.

I have had an argument with Philippa. A big one. I think I just blew away any chance we have of fixing up our friendship after the last argument. I just hope she's able to see past the mistake I made. That's right, I made a mistake, and she called me on it. It hurts to hear someone point out when you're wrong and at the time I was so angry with her for making what I thought was a bad decision, without really thinking about why it was bad in the first place. The only reasons I had to think that way are moot now. She said it best; things worked out all right.

But I was still angry. I'm starting to realise part of the anger was at myself, for reasons that I can't even tell you right now, dear diary, because they hurt so much, and because I knew she was right. I don't like being wrong.

And yet, in the end, I'm glad I was, because this way I at least have Samuel. Dearest Sam, he's so sweet. He reminds me of Fry back when she was a he... which sounds weird now that I think about it. I'm going to put a lock on you before he gets a chance to see that.

Philippa once told me that she doesn't worry about the future because it would send her crazy, and that she only ever thinks about now. Samuel said the same thing as well once. That night I finally realised what that meant. I said yes.


Normality. It was a strange concept, the idea that this was normal, real, not some strange dream. Philippa watched the traffic far below snake its way past the  Robot Arms, her hands against the thick glass of the window. She looked up at the sky, at the waning moon still visible against the pale blue morning. It seemed to be a suitable metaphor for her own final transition. She turned away and looked back into what could now reasonably be called a living room. It had a carpet.

Bender was in her bedroom, painting. He was whistling. He had even picked wallpaper. Philippa tried to work out just when the robot had changed but she couldn't put her finger on the precise moment. Even the herbal cigars, supposedly better smelling, had all but disappeared.

The robot stopped and looked at her. Philippa smiled at her friend and gestured at the wall. "That looks very nice, Bender."

"Great. Hey, whatever the ladies want, huh?" Bender carried on whistling as he picked up a spry gun, then started to sing a little ditty. "Paintin the walls, pretty things gettin made... doo doo doo doo gonna get laid..."

Philippa laughed for the first time in days. Some things would never change. She bundled up all her old clothes from the bed and piled them into a bag. There was surprisingly little to put away. "Bender? I'll see you at work, okay?"

"Sure thing. Hey, there's a new version of the Ninplaybox out. If you go past that store again, flash the guy a little ass for one." Bender’s laughter echoed around the apartment until he resumed singing his playful song.

"Very funny, Bender." Philippa put on her coat – the only thing she was keeping from back then – and slipped out of the door.

She decided to walk to work. The weather was nice, the air was fresh, and frankly she couldn't afford the cab ride after all the money she'd spent on changing their apartment. Bender tolerated it. She knew he wouldn't be happy about some of the changes, but he tolerated it. That was the one difference about him and the least she could do was return the favour once in a while.

Philippa found herself in a park a few blocks from the Planet Express building. She'd been here before a few times, back when walking alone had been a therapy and not just something to do for a few hours. There were other people here now, taking in the view, enjoying the fresh air. An attitude of wonder and relief had come over New New York after the attempted invasion, though it had never got anywhere near the ground. Sometimes people just needed reminding of the moment.

She looked up at the sky. Somewhere up there the fleets were still patrolling, hunting down the remaining Ruklisk and their slaved minions. A sizeable portion of the Democratic Order had been subverted by the time the tide turned. Nobody knew if they would ever be turned back. Philippa didn't particularly want to think about it. She looked down again, casting her gaze around the park to take in the view of a world suddenly seen through new, fresh eyes. That was when she saw Leela.

She was sitting under a tree, reading a book with her little pet gerbil-thing Nibbler by her side. The creature looked up and gibbered when Philippa approached and for a moment it seemed to give her a strange, almost angry look that Philippa decided had to be her imagination. "Hi Leela."

"Oh. Hi." Leela carefully folded up her book – she'd been writing, not reading. It was a diary. She didn't look up at Philippa. "How are you?"

"Still female," Philippa said, pouting a little. Leela smiled in spite of herself. "Bender's painting."

"I heard about that." Leela sighed and looked up at the sky. She seemed to be thinking about something. "I guess you got the invitation?"

"I did. I'm surprised. Getting married after a few weeks of dating? That's not like you, Leela."

"I felt like being impulsive," Leela said. She picked at the grass and let it float away in the wind. "I've had two people tell me that the moment is what matters. Perhaps I should listen to them more..."

Philippa turned and sat down next to Leela. She stroked Nibbler's belly; the little creature kicked his leg and purred. "I'm surprised you sent me an invitation"

"It was Sam's idea," Leela replied. She picked up her diary and started to stand up.

"Leela, wait." Philippa stood up, facing Leela. The other woman refused to look at her. "I'm sorry, okay? I said things... I was confused. We were stressed, I was terrified of losing you again."

Leela peered at her. She fingered her diary, tapping out a tuneless tattoo on the leatherette binding, then suddenly grimaced. "Tell me it was jealousy or something," she said. "Or that you were trying to get Sam into bed, or drunk... anything. Tell me you didn't mean what you said."

Philippa shook her head. "It'd be a lie, Leela. I can't lie to you."

She reached out to touch Leela's arm. There was no flinch, no attempt to shrug her off. Leela licked her lips very slightly and looked at the floor. "Honesty is a rare commodity these days," she said. There was a moment of silence, then she looked up at Philippa again. "You really meant it?"

Philippa nodded. She took hold of Leela's free hand and held on to it with both her own. "I still do, and if that makes you uncomfortable, well, I can just go away. I'll join the navy, or move to another planet. I just want you to be happy."

"No..." Leela's eye was full of longing, but Philippa could see it she'd never admit to anything, not now. She nodded slowly and let go of Leela's hand, before turning away. This time it was Leela’s turn to touch her arm. "Phi, hold on a second."

Philippa paused. Leela's hand rested on her shoulder and gently pulled her back around. They stared at each other for a long time, just letting the world pass by, not caring. Alone in the universe for that one brief moment. She knew it was probably as close as she'd ever get, but it was enough.

For now.

"You want to maybe get some coffee later?" Leela dropped her hand to her side and smiled.

"I'd love to."

"Me too," Sam said, stepping out from behind the tree. He smiled and took Leela's hand. "I know this nice place down the road. The owner's an idiot but-"

Leela slapped Samuel's shoulder. "Quiet you. We were having a moment."

"I know," Samuel said. He looked back at the tree. "Actually I was waiting to see if it would turn into more than a moment, but then I realised we have to get downtown to pick out the rings."

He smiled at Philippa. "Would you like to join us?"

"Sure, if Leela doesn't mind," she said quietly, looking at Leela's eye. Leela nodded and then smiled.

"Why not?" She hooked her arms for them both and and grinned as they reciprocated. "Now this is more like it," she said as they walked out of the park and on to the streets of the city.


"Hey, what about Zapp?"

"What about him? He was... oh, crud. I'd better call Amy."

"At least he'll be able to tell us what velour tastes like."


[cue music: Perfect Day as performed by Kirsty MacColl since she sounds nice; roll credits]

Aaand that's the end. At least for now, though I am toying with the idea of a follow-on since there's a lot of loose ends I need to tie up. Can Sam and Leela really last? Is there a baby in someone's future? What happens to the DOOP now that almost its entire fleet has been destroyed? What does Bender want with a Ninplaybox anyway? Perhaps one day we'll find out...

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #71 on: 01-10-2008 08:10 »


Liquid Emperor
« Reply #72 on: 01-10-2008 11:29 »

They had a moment, I'm happy with that. I like the story...time to break open the new stamp...


Space Pope
« Reply #73 on: 01-11-2008 08:21 »

Cool, prizes and things. Well I'm glad you all enjoyed it. Looking back it's probably not the story I should have picked for my first ever foray into Futurama fanfic but, what the hey, you only live once right?

Delivery Boy
« Reply #74 on: 01-13-2008 22:32 »

What a great story. I was kinda iffy on the whole idea, but after 2 chapters I was sold. Your writing style is amazing. I can't wait to read your next fic.

Bending Unit
« Reply #75 on: 01-14-2008 02:04 »

Hi Archonix,

As I mentioned long ago, you write a great depressing story.  Seriously, you took an old idea and wrote it beautifully, so well that I was depressed for an entire day after reading the original manuscript.  I see you might have tried to brighten the ending a little since then, but I'd still say Fry sacrifices more for Leela in this story than any other I've read.  He sacrifices his identity, even his existence, for Leela, and no one will ever appreciate the magnitude of that effort.

Now, that said, you've hinted about a sequel, after parallel lives.  We'll be waiting...

Space Pope
« Reply #76 on: 01-14-2008 19:35 »

Thanks for the comments guys!

JN, what you said about depressing has been said to me by other people in other ways, too. A couple of people have told me that they had to pretend that Fry was a completely different person by the end of the story - though at least one of them was the übershipper or something. I can see your point, though; By the end of this story Fry essentially ceases to exist. Looking back I might not have written it quite that way had I realised I would end it this way but at the time it felt right. Fry often saves the world without getting any credit for it...

That, and a whole host of other issues, are things that I just didn't tie up at the end which is why I'm planning on writing more.

There will, in fact, be two sequels, though I'm only writing one. I don't know how but apparently I inspired someone enough to want to write a fanfic of my fanfic. I've seen the plot outline and a draft of the first chapter and I like where he's taking the concept since it promises to be much more light-hearted than my own ideas. The writer is, too. When or if it gets published I reckon it'll be quite entertaining.  smile

My very own sub-genre...  big grin

Bending Unit
« Reply #77 on: 01-15-2008 01:34 »

Originally posted by Archonix:
Thanks for the comments guys!

There will, in fact, be two sequels, though I'm only writing one. I don't know how but apparently I inspired someone enough to want to write a fanfic of my fanfic. I've seen the plot outline and a draft of the first chapter and I like where he's taking the concept since it promises to be much more light-hearted than my own ideas. The writer is, too. When or if it gets published I reckon it'll be quite entertaining.   smile

My very own sub-genre...   big grin

Neat!  You're the father (or is that mother?) of all whole new series.  I hope the second author will post in this thread too.

Space Pope
« Reply #78 on: 01-16-2008 06:09 »

Well that'll be up to him.  smile

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #79 on: 01-16-2008 16:31 »

I'm confused. I consider this the shippyest fanfic I've ever laid eyes on.

Why exactly is it depressing?
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