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Author Topic: Parallel Lives (a saga in so many parts)  (Read 17528 times)
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Space Pope
« Reply #240 on: 06-10-2008 11:49 »

Hubert Farnsworth leaned back from his position, hunched over the screen of one of the many consoles arrayed around the laboratory, and listened to the almost symphonic ripple of cracks and crunches down his spine. The pain was marginal, which meant that most of it probably wasn’t caused by his vertebrae being crushed this time. Probably. Anyway he could just get another round of nanofibre injections to deal with that. He turned away to examine his subjects.

Apart from the quiet hum of the scanners and the warbling of the various devices that kept the two Leela’s from waking up, the lab was virtually silent. Farnsworth paused in his examination to look at the medical equipment. For some reason he felt a twinge of guilt for lying to his ancestor, even if he was from another universe. Then again he was from another universe, which meant he wasn’t, strictly speaking, Farnsworth’s ancestor. In theory he should be guilt-free! And yet...

The scanner caught his eye, emitting a series of coded flashes designed for the sole purpose of attracting his attention. He shuffled over to the machine and leaned over the terminal again, ignoring another series of crackling shocks in his spine. The scans were complete, with anomalies.

“Anomalies,” he muttered, glancing back at the pair, slumbering in their beds the way Farnsworth wished he were. He brought up a more detailed reading of the purple Leela’s hair, the one he’d designated Leela P for some reason. “Yes... remarkable.”

A loud clatter from the warehouse next door derailed Farnsworth’s thought path. He turned off the screen, grumbling as he shuffled across the lab to the warehouse entrance. Farnsworth pushed open the door and peered into the twilight gloom of the larger space.

“Hello? Is anybody there?” He pawed at the wall, trying to find a switch to activate the security systems. “I should warn you about my killbots. There’s a long list of disclaimers you need to know about, apparently, but I seem to have forgotten them. Not to worry, though,” he added, as he moved carefully around the doorway toward a security cabinet. “I’ll just tell Hermes you knew. It’s not like they could really find out from your charred remains, oh my, no indeed.”

He paused at the sound of a metallic click two... three rows of shelves away. The Professor smiled to himself and reached up to pull a plasma rifle – one he’d designed specifically for the elderly and infirm – from the cabinet and quietly cocked the mechanism.

Perhaps it was the unusual nature of the boxes, or perhaps he’d finally lost his marbles, a possibility that constantly dogged the Professor’s mind – he stifled a quiet chuckle over the thought. Whatever the reason, Hubert found himself at something of a loss. Normally he knew broadly what to expect with even his most disturbing experiments, but not now. The scan’s results had unnerved him just a little. The connection between Leela and-

Something rattled ahead. Farnsworth could hear heavy footsteps. He raised the rifle.

“Who’s there?”

The footsteps stopped. Farnsworth’s grip tightened on the rifle’s padded grip (pine scented, slightly ruffled texture, hypo-allergenic for dry skin) and he hugged the rifle a little closer to his body, aiming it at about upper chest height. “Don’t make me try and remember what I said to repeat myself! Who are you?”

“Scruffy,” a rough, monotonal voice called out. “The Janitor.”

“Oh. Oh my.”

Farnsworth lowered the rifle as the janitor stepped into view with his hands half-heartedly raised over his head. He shrugged at Farnsworth. “The boxes needed supervisin.”

“What? They’re boxes you great lumbering broom-pusher! Never mind that, I need you to look after these two in here while I work out a way to get them back to their apartment.”

“Babysittin ain’t in Scruffy’s contract,” Scruffy muttered as he followed the Professor back into the lab. Farnsworth glared at him and wondered why he hadn’t fired the man yet. He made a mental note to do so in the morning.

“You can say you’re supervising them for all I care, just sit here with them until I come back.”

Scruffy grunted acknowledgement before slouching into a nearby chair. He pulled down his cap and put his feet up before the astonished Professor.

“What on space earth are you doing here, anyway?”

“Overtime,” Scruffy replied from underneath his lowered cap. He smacked his lips a few times and settled back into the chair. I’m definitely going to fire him tomorrow, Farnsworth thought. Whatever his name is!

Satisfied, at least, that his charges wouldn’t be lonely, Farnsworth started the long trek back up to the surface and his regular lab. Perhaps some sort of taxi service operated this late? No... he’d have to arrange something a little more appropriate. Hermes was usually still awake around now, he could come in and take them. He had a car of some sort didn’t he? With that sorted, Farnsworth began plotting out how best to explain the situation to the two of them. Some sort of recording, perhaps.


It was dark. Always a good sign. Leela pushed the box lid up a fraction and almost immediately hit another shelf, but that was okay. She’d dealt with that situation more times than she could count. A quick shove at behind the box propelled the it out onto the floor whilst she ducked back inside. A moment later she was crawling out onto the floor of the storeroom.

No, this was different. She looked around, wondering at the size of what was obviously a large industrial warehouse, with row after row of shelving barely even filled by the paraboxes. At the far end of her row a machine was moving from one box to another, its collection of manipulators and probes moving to extend around each parabox as it lifted the lid.

She took a step toward the machine and then heard footsteps beyond it. Her gun was out in moments, the oily, metallic click as she drew back the hammer echoing around the primitive steel shelving racks. Then the idiot professor shouted something from behind her. The footsteps paused. Leela backed away into a gap between the shelves, crouching down in the shadows and tucking the pistol under her jacket as the footsteps continued toward her box.

It was just the janitor. Scruffy. For a moment she thought about shooting him but, then, he’d never done anything bad to her, or anything at all that she could remember. He’d been a creep, but she’d always liked him for the way he’d treated her after the accident.

Anyway, the momentary reverie had distracted her long enough to lose her chance. Scruffy picked up the box, stared at it for a moment, looked around himself and then carefully replaced it on the shelves. The Professor shouted again and Scruffy, apparently bored with being threatened with death, meandered past her hiding place to the end of the shelves to reveal himself. Leela strained to hear the muttered conversation between the Janitor and the Professor but they were just too far away. Then there was a little quiet as they walked from the warehouse before, finally, the lights went out.

Leela slowly eased herself from between the shelving and took a moment to examine her surroundings. It was almost pitch black in the warehouse. A faint, blue-grey light filtered in through gaps near the roof, supplemented by a warm glow from the doors. The air felt terribly still and dull. There was no sound either, not even the sigh of wind blowing through the unsealed roof. Dead silence. Almost like home, she thought. Curious.

Keeping her gun ready, Leela crept cautiously to the end of the row. She paused a moment, straining to hear out any would-be ambusher and then eased her head around the corner, letting her peripheral vision take in the scene. Deserted. She holstered the gun and stepped out.

Her eye might make her stand out but, as she’d discovered a long time ago, it gave her excellent peripheral and night vision, not to mention the ability to see a little more into the red than most people. Fry’s hair and coat had always stuck out like warning beacons in the dead of space. It should have been a hint... she shook her head at the thought as she crept up to the safety-glass window embedded in the thick double doors.

The room beyond was flooded with bright artificial light and filled with laboratory equipment. She could just make out Scruffy’s fat boots perched on a workbench as he slept his night away, and beyond that a bed with-

Purple! It was her! Leela didn’t know how, but she knew it was her, the bitch who’d screwed up her fun in two universes now. Without thinking she pulled out the gun again, ready to burst through the door and put a bullet in her sist-

“No...! No, not sister,” she muttered, feeling a familiar pressure behind her eye. “Not sister...”

Leela backed away from the light, grasping at the sides of her head to try and dull the pain. When she looked back again Scruffy had stood up and was making his way around the workbench toward the door. For a terrifying moment she thought he’d heard her mumbling, but then he turned off to one side and just stood there, staring at an old poster or notice of some sort pasted to the side of a cabinet. A moment later he returned to his seat and settled back out of sight. Even through the thick fire door she could hear his snoring... she wondered how it didn’t wake up the other one.

She slipped away from the door and looked around her warehouse again. There had to be other exits. She crept back down the length of the shelves until she reached the far end, where a broad, doorless exit opened up onto... darkness, broken only by dim, regularly spaced columns of light in the distance. Leela looked up and saw more faint, motionless lights illuminating tiny spots of sliver-thin metal pipework and impossibly distant walkways and structural beams. Right then the oppressive stillness made sense. She was underground, quite a way down, too, if the background warmth was any indicator. Almost level with the old sewers at the very least.

“Different,” she muttered, staring around. An image hanging in the air – no, no a mural on a wall, made unreal by its inconceivable size, a beast with a crown around it’s neck and the inscription Ambulans Iubare carved beneath. The song came to her then; the one he’d always been singing.

He wasn’t here. He was dead, long dead more than likely. Leela almost returned to the boxes there and then to look for another more entertaining universe but, on the threshold of the warehouse, she paused and frowned. The other one was here, with his purple pal. Perhaps trapping them in another universe hadn’t been such a great plan after all? It was enough to elicit a wry chuckle. Then again, another chance to take him out was... pleasing.

Leela skipped along the ersatz streets of the underground maze she found herself in, humming quietly as she looked for a way up to the surface. After a couple of blocks she slowed down, realising that the surface might not be the best way out. They’d have monitors and security systems in place up there, all sorts of ways to find her and make life inconvenient. She scanned around a little bit until she found what she was after and knelt down to lever a manhole cover out of the ground.

The rank smell of the sewers drifted up past her, strangely stale and attenuated through lack of use. Leela took one final look around the twilight cavern city, slid her feet into the manhole and dropped down into the darkness.
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #241 on: 06-10-2008 12:26 »

I'm going to assume that the Leela that came out of the box is Evila.

The Evil Professor wants the two unconscious Leela back in one's apartment.  Is he programming them for a Lesbian affair?

I suppose that Leela/Evila is sneaking into the sewers to find and kill this universe's Leela's parents?

Why don't I shut up and wait for the next installment?

Urban Legend
« Reply #242 on: 06-10-2008 14:13 »

Intersting.  I wonder why Evila is having such a hard time hurting her otherselves.  That's something that Leela is going to be able to use to her advantage.  Whatever the case, having Evila running loose in this universe with both Leelas out cold is a recipe for trouble.

not to mention the ability to see a little more into the red than most people

hmm, the physics of Leela's eye hadn't occured to me.  I guess she would be able to resolve things that were half the size of the smallest objects a normal person could see, and things would appear 4 times as bright to her as they do to us, assuming the rods and cones in her eye work the same as they do in ours.  The ability to see further into the red would have to be a mutation, though; having a bigger eye wouldn't assure that by itself I dont think.  Bah, now look what you've done.  You've got me rambling on about physics again!


Space Pope
« Reply #243 on: 06-10-2008 14:33 »

You'll have plenty of physics to correct me on in about two updates from now.  wink

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #244 on: 06-10-2008 16:13 »

I was wondering when Evila was going to show up.

Space Pope
« Reply #245 on: 06-10-2008 17:06 »

Bah! Who cares about physics? I was starting to wonder when she was going to show up too. I hope that Purple Leela will realize that Evila is afraid of hurting her otherselves because that will be andvantage. But I guess Evila killing Fry's is hurting the other Leela's in some way. Great up date can;t wait for more.

Bending Unit
« Reply #246 on: 06-11-2008 15:31 »

Originally posted by soylentOrange:

 hmm, the physics of Leela's eye hadn't occured to me.  I guess she would be able to resolve things that were half the size of the smallest objects a normal person could see, and things would appear 4 times as bright to her as they do to us, assuming the rods and cones in her eye work the same as they do in ours.  The ability to see further into the red would have to be a mutation, though; having a bigger eye wouldn't assure that by itself I dont think.  Bah, now look what you've done.  You've got me rambling on about physics again!

Well, it would be Futurama fandom without obsessive physics talk, would it?  I agree with the better resolution--probably helps make up for her lack of depth perception.  But one thing that always bothered me--where is her tear duct?

Oh, yeah, the story  wink  Excellent as usual, and expanding a bit too--I'm thinking there are now 3-4 distinct subplots going on, with seven characters involved, and it's really impressive that it reads as easily as it does.  I am wondering about Farnsworth's motives here, and if there is more than meets the eye(s).

Anyway, great to see Evila again.  Yeah, backstory time!
La Belle Leela

Starship Captain
« Reply #247 on: 06-11-2008 20:48 »

Good stuff Arch!  big grin

« Reply #248 on: 06-17-2008 16:25 »

Another huge fan.  I'm loving this, it's so complicated yet easy to understand, great plots, love the character development.  Why don't you write the next Futurama movie!

Space Pope
« Reply #249 on: 06-17-2008 19:31 »

It was many, many hours later when Amy, Fry and Yancy finally stumbled out of O’Grady’s and onto the street, clutching at each other and laughing as they tried to remain upright. By turns they managed to make their way to the end of the block, leaning against each other in a sort of semi-mobile pyramid shape until they reached a local tube-stop.

Fry blearily focused on the tube-stop and tried to walk through what looked like the entrance, only to bounce off the wall.

“Dammit, one of these doors must be the way in,” he muttered. Amy giggled, hiccuped and fell on her rear whilst Yancy tried sighting his finger at the right entrance.

“I think it’s that one,” he said, pointing at Fry’s head. For some reason they all found this incredibly funny and fell about laughing on the pavement.

Eventually Fry managed to pull himself upright against the travel-tube entrance wall, still giggling to himself as he fingered the grey plascrete. Yancy was stumbling toward him with Amy wrapped around his waist, muttering something about the last time he’d been this drunk. He stopped at the door and guilelessly peered at Fry through a drunken haze.

“You’re my bestest brother, Phil...”

“I’m your only brother, Yancy.”

“Yeah, and that’s what makes whoops!” He fell over, dragging Amy with him. They landed in a laughing a heap at Fry’s feet. “That’s what makes you the best!”

Yancy crawled into the tube, muttered a destination and disappeared with a loud woosh. Too late Fry realised he had no idea where Yancy lived.


The cool air was starting to clear Fry’s head a little. He knew he’d have a hangover to beat all in the morning, even with a detox, but it had been worth it to see his brother loosen up for once in his life.

“Hey. Hey help me up.” Amy held out her hands to Fry. He obliged, after tripping over her twice, and she gave him a leery wink. “Wanna go hit the town?”

Fry looked Amy up and down, pondering. For some reason he looked over his shoulder. Who had he been expecting there? Not that it mattered much, he had something a lot more fun to stare at right in front of him.

“Sooo?” She made a sweet face at him, or at least attempted to, though the drink added a sweaty slackness to her smile. Fry knew he probably looked just as drunk but he didn’t quite care.

“I dunno... I should really make sure Yancy gets home.” He stared up at the tube. “Wherever that is.”

“Oh, I know where it is, we went to his place when we did it.” Amy slapped her hands over her mouth with an exaggerated cry of alarm. “Oops!”

Fry shook his head. Maybe he could go over to Leela’s instead, at least he knew where that was. Probably. He could sort of remember the way if only the pavement would stop making him want to fall over.

“I’ll just-”

“No, no let me take you!”

Amy lurched at him and tripped. She flung her arms out at him as she fell and ended up sprawled down Fry’s front with her hands wrapped around the back of his neck. Fry staggered under the sudden – though minimal – extra weight and almost fell over. He pulled her up very gently.

Amy giggled and hiccuped again. “You know, we could always just head back to my place...”

“I dunno...” Fry swallowed and tried not to think about the guilt he knew he should be feeling. Why did life keep doing this to him? “Yancy seemed a little-”

She shushed Fry and put a finger to his mouth; the touch of her skin on his lips felt like an electric shock. Then she kissed him.

Fry wanted to say he’d tried to resist but it would have been a lie, as he responded to her as soon as her arms wrapped around his neck. After a moment that felt as long as life and seemed far too short they broke apart, Amy gasping slightly, Fry swaying as the mix of alcohol, shock and arousal fought for dominance in his already stultified brain. Her skin was flushed, from more than just the drink now, and her eyes were wide with passion and desire. Fry could barely resist the sight. By mutual consent, arms wrapped around each other, they stumbled toward the travel tube and were almost at the entrance when they heard the loud thloop of an arriving traveller.

Yancy’s inert form flopped out of the exit and landed at their feet. He peered up at Fry in confusion.

“Phil? What are all these stars doing in my bedroom?”

Amy giggled again. The mood was broken. They let go of each other so that Fry could kneel down by his brother and pull him to a sitting position. Yancy threw an arm around Fry’s shoulder and grinned.

“You’re still the bestest brother, Phil, you know that? I always said... well I didn’t say...”

“Why don’t you save it for... oh. I guess he’s asleep.”

Yancy’s head rolled forward and he started snoring loudly. Amy shrugged. “Robot Arms Apartments. It’s on-”

“Yeah, I know, I live there in my universe.” Figures he’d end up staying with Bender, Fry thought. “Thanks, Amy.”

Fry hefted Yancy to his feet and dragged him into the tube entrance. He waited a moment as Amy stood before him, sadness clouding her face.

“Want me to come along and help?”

“Probably best if you just... uh... head home, I guess.”

“Right. I guess I’ll see you around.”

“Yeah.” Fry stepped into the tube and muttered his destination. He felt the sudden whoosh as the tube’s anti-gravity system kicked in, and the stomach-dropping lurch as they accelerated up into the tube network. For a brief moment he had the sight of Amy’s downcast face looking up at him as she waved goodbye, then the tube rolled them over and away, putting her out of sight.

But not out of mind.


Tunnels, it was always tunnels and she was running down them and splashing through the muck and grime to escape, and always more tunnels, and arms reaching for her, taking her legs and holding her hair, pulling her back...

And more tunnels as she escaped from the things the arms that wrapped around her and tugged at her body that felt so tired as she tried to escape, down another tunnel and never knowing the way out of the darkness and the despair as she tried to get away from the things behind her the secret things she didn’t know and they knew and if anyone found out she’d die...

More tunnels and if she stopped they’d catch her and if she looked everyone’d know and she’d be dead or sent back to the tunnels and the grime and the dirt and never seeing the sun and stars...

And then a wall, and a door, and the things behind her, the secrets and the lies and the terrible truths and she had to stop and turn to see the arms and the hoods and the people that had the secrets and if they knew...

The gun. Where had it come from? She held it up and saw light reflecting in sheer surface and smelled the bitter acrid smoke and it felt right to point it at the secrets, the murderers of her life, the knowledge that shouldn’t be...

They were there and calling her name and they had her stuff and saw who she was and photographs and trinkets and everything and THEY WERE THERE...

And he was there and talking nonsense and pulling back the hoods and showing the secrets...

You are a mutant.

They are your parents.

This is your home.

And more tunnels as she ran from the secrets and the lies and how could they do this to her how could they take her life like this she couldn’t face them and the gun pulling heavy at her arm and hand.



They had to go.

He had to go.

And the look on his face, pleading and terrified. And the looks on their faces. And the gun, the saving gun, the secret in the tunnels that had set her free spoke to them and they fell to their faces at its words and cried their bloody tears to her feet.

Abominations! Lies!

They all had to go! Every... last... one...

And the gun spoke.


Leela’s eye snapped open, wide, taking in the dark ceiling of her bedroom, the faint light inching beneath the blinds, the dryness of her mouth. She squeezed her eye shut again as a raging headache announced itself. God... what did I drink last night?

“What a nightmare,” she muttered, pressing a cool hand to her forehead. She looked around the room again, weighing up. Had it all been a dream? Here, in the pleasant twilight of her bedroom it felt like it could have been. But it all seemed so real... and that last part, it just didn’t-

She was suddenly overcome by a terrible nausea as the headache re-asserted its presence behind her eye. Leela stumbled to the bathroom, almost crawling by the time she reached the pan and was just about in place when her stomach gave an almighty heave. That she hadn’t eaten much in the last day or so became clearly obvious, but for a minute or so her body refused to believe what her eye told it, preferring to rack her with a series of painful dry-heaves that finally brought up a dribble of bile.

Leela sprawled out on the floor with a quiet groan, holding her head in both hands in a vain attempt to ease the pounding behind her eye. Each time she opened it the walls seemed to be filled with riotous, distorted colour that only made the nausea return with a vengeance, so she kept it shut until, finally, the headache began to fade, leaving behind a faint sense of emptiness like an unfilled void. It felt like heaven.

So. Obviously she was ill and, to judge from the lack of food in her stomach, it had been at least a couple of days. Leela ran a hand across her forehead, searching for any sign of a lingering fever, wondering just what would have knocked her out so completely for so long. And why hadn’t anyone been round to leave her flowers or take her to the hospital? Ingrates. All the time spent ferrying their useless asses from one side of the universe to-

The door clicked and swung open, interrupting Leela’s inner rant. She looked up. She saw herself. She put her head in her hands. “So much for just a dream...”

“What are you doing on the floor?”

“Deluding myself,” Leela answered. She stood up, ignoring another wave of nausea, and staggered toward her counterpart. Brown hair. Strange how it suited her. “I feel like crap.”

“You look like crap.”

“Gee, thanks...”

“Don’t expect sympathy from me,” she said, nevertheless taking hold of Leela’s arm to guide her back to the bed. “If you hadn’t turned up I wouldn’t have ended up stuck in that crazy idiot’s lab all night. I missed a report. I might get fired.”

“You and I both know we’re the only person in that place who ever did any work.”

“That’s not how Ipgee sees it.”

“Well it’s not... oh, forget it.” Leela sat down before her legs could buckle under the strain of standing. She had to eat. Later. “You don’t think I’m a clone any more?”

“No. Professor Farnsworth was kind enough to leave us a message.”

The Paraleela pointed at a cheap, oversized holoprojector stood on the far side of the room. Even as she watched the projection matrix began to glow and the machine hummed quietly to itself.

“Oh, there’s more,” she said. “What a surprise.”

“Hey, now, don’t be so-” was all Leela could manage before the holoprojector screamed into life. There was a flash of random static and a loud squealing that settled down after a few seconds, then an image of the Professor’s lab appeared, super-imposing itself over the room and the far wall. Professor Farnsworth seemed to walk out of the wall toward them, muttering under his breath and staring at a spot just below and to the left of Leela’s head.

“Ahh, now this should have activated when both of you are awake,” the projection said, looking around the room, or appearing to, before it returned to peering at empty space, giving Leela the odd urge to shuffle over until it was looking at her. “There is something more I need to explain, but it required both of you to be here. Now Leela... the one with the purple hair, that is. So far my scanners have not been able to find a universe that matches your quantum resonance signature-”

“Great,” she muttered. The projection continued speaking.

“However I have discovered something quite remarkable, yes. Quite remarkable...” Farnsworth wandered back through the wall and out of range of the view, though his voice was still audible. “I would like to perform more scans at some point, however I can tell you, uh...”

He came back again, clutching a computer notepad, which he peered at before speaking. “Yes. Yes it is quite remarkable. There appears to be some sort of multi-dimensional interface between you and the previous universes you have visited, and evidently between you and your counterpart here, a sort of quantum entanglement on a massive scale. I’m not even sure how it could possibly work. All I can assume is that there is some sort of mechanism that allows your constituent quanta to become entangled as you enter a parallel universe, which allows for all sorts of spooky actions at a distance if I’m correct. Beyond that...”

Farnsworth placed the notepad on a workbench and fixed the air above Leela’s head with a steady, presumably portent gaze. “I would hope you two will volunteer for a few more tests. Leela, the purple one, you know some version of me well enough to be able to convince Leela, that is, the brown one, that she’s safe undergoing any, eyuh, procedures I happen to come up with. I shall, uh, see you later.”

The hologram deactivated, leaving the room strangely dim and bare after the riotous colour of the cheap projection.

“No,” Leela said, before her counterpart could ask the obvious question. “He’s as mad as a Gundark and about as safe as shooting yourself in the face with a plasma rifle.”

“And you work for him?”

“Beats defrosting idiots for a living.”

The Paraleela rolled her eye and turned away. “We’re going to have to think of something to call each other. I can see things getting very confused.”

“Last universe we were in, I ended up calling you- her, Blue half the time.” Her counterpart gave Leela an odd look as they moved into the kitchen. “The hair.”

“I guess makes you Purple. I’m not really sure I want to be Brown, though. Coffee?”

Leela nodded. Talking to herself never seemed so strange. No wait, normal. Or... she stopped the thought before it started another headache. “I don’t particularly want to be Purple either. That pilot, Veklerov was it? He keeps calling you-”

“Hell no, we’re not using that!” She took a prim sip of her drink. “I’m not using anything that man came up with.”

“Well... then what?”

“How about Neena?”


“My middle name.” Leela’s counterpart looked pensive as she stirred her coffee. “It was on the note my parents left with me at the Orphanarium. I guess they just couldn’t decide which one to use.”

“I never had a middle name.” Leela sighed. Obviously this version of herself hadn’t met her parents, but she wasn’t sure whether this was a good or bad thing now. Leela could still remember life before she’d found them, always wondering if she was alone but, in some sense, not wanting to find out because if the possibility of disappointment. It had been eating her up inside in a way she hadn’t even realised until she found them. on the other hand, some things had been a lot easier. “It’s a nice name.”

“I use it sometimes when I‘m dating. You know, just for a bit of variety, get outside myself now and then.”

“That must be nice.”

Neena. At least it gave her a means to separate them without resorting to looking at a colour chart. What would you call that shade? Merovingian Steel? She looked up at her counterp- at Neena, and smiled.

“It’s mostly for their benefit anyway,” Neena said, waving her hand toward the wall. Leela had a strange urge to glance over her shoulder, almost as if she expected to see a crowd of watchers. Of course that was stupid, she meant their friends.

“I guess. Should I let them know?”

“Yeah, if you’re heading over there.”

“I might be.”

They sat in silence  again, each contemplating their private thoughts as they finished their drinks. Leela even managed to squeeze down a piece of toast without feeling ill.

“I’d better get to work,” Neena said, standing up. She stared at Leela for a moment and then shook her head. “I still need to assess Mr Fry, so... I guess I’ll see you later?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

They moved into the bare living room again, Leela fingering her clothes with mild distaste as she remembered how long it was since she’d changed. Neena noticed her discomfort and smiled, though tightly, as if she was uncomfortable with what she was thinking.

“You can borrow some of mine. Ours. I... whatever. Just make sure you put them in the laundry when you’re done.”

“As if I wouldn’t.” Leela grinned. “Thanks.”

Neena nodded, slipping on her cryogenics jacket as she moved toward the door. She paused with her hand on the door-handle, frowning. “You know, whatever that Professor hit us with gave me a hell of a weird dream...”

She stared at Leela for a moment and then slipped out. A second later she returned to switch the light back on and apologise. Then she was gone.

Leela sat down in the single seat and stared at the blank TV screen, trying to clear up her confused mind. A dream. It had to be a coincidence, just the sedatives messing with their minds, nothing more. Though, what had the Professor said about a link? Was he talking telepathy now? Oh but that was just fantasy and hubris, the man could get rapturously excited about a bowel movement.

She tapped her fingers against the chair arm as her mind slowly wound back to normal. Where was Fry? Hopefully he’d gone home with his brother and not that... that Amy. Not because she was Amy, Leela reasoned to herself, because she didn’t care about that, but because getting tangled up in a parallel universe was not a good idea. She’d seen the tragedies. She’d seen how torn up Fry had been after dating that robot – entirely against her advice, too. She’d even, at the insistence of William Shatner’s head, seen the episode of Star Trek where Kirk went back in time through some sort of smoke ring and ended up having to kill the woman he fell in love with. Of course Shatner had been talking about his supreme acting skill the whole time but she’d got the point, which was that men were stupid and kept doing stupid things.

And Fry was a man, which meant she’d have to protect him from himself if they were going to get home in one piece. He had an incredible ability to get himself and everyone around him dragged into the most dangerous situations imaginable. The last few days were definite proof of that. Somehow it had to be his fault. But, no... that still wasn’t fair. It wasn’t his fault.

She looked around the blank room, clean now – in fact it had never been mess now, which felt strange in and of itself. The place was intimately familiar but it wasn’t home, not really. On top of everything there was something was gnawing at her mind, giving her strange thoughts. It was stress. That was it. Stress over being so trapped. The dream had to be part of that. The gun was obviously her fear about ‘Evila’, or whomever and the ending was just her blaming Fry for being stuck here. But, what about her parents? Did she blame them too? No that didn’t work.

“Just a crazy dream,” she muttered, heading back to the bedroom. Perhaps she’d feel better after a shower and a change of clothes.

Yet, the dreamy image of that gun kept coming back to her as she’d raised it toward Fry’s face and he’d pleaded, not for his own life, but for the lives of her parents, all the while pitying her for what she’d become. And she’d hated him for it.

Bending Unit
« Reply #250 on: 06-17-2008 20:32 »

[obligatory platitudes about the insanely complex storyline and Arch's brilliantine writing skills]


DOOP Secretary
« Reply #251 on: 06-17-2008 23:25 »

Ah, so we finally see the reason for Evila's madness. And telepathy too huh? As if it wasn't confusing and complex enough already. Nice job!
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #252 on: 06-17-2008 23:58 »

Pretty damned good and progressing well.  I have to admit that I thought that Yancy would try to score with Leela so he could hurt Phil, but you went another direction.

And we still have Evila, crazy as Hell and armed to the teeth, lurking in the sewers...

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #253 on: 06-18-2008 00:31 »

I've never been so happy not knowing where I was going.  smile

Space Pope
« Reply #254 on: 06-18-2008 06:53 »

Don't worry folks, a lot of people are going to do a lot of very stupid things before this plot has run its course. And then everything will be sweetness and light.

 big grin

Space Pope
« Reply #255 on: 06-18-2008 14:13 »

Woah  we see more into Evila's madness and there is telepathy. So complicated yet amazing. Keep it up. Yay for the future stupidity. Amazing.

Space Pope
« Reply #256 on: 06-20-2008 16:10 »

Well this is as good a place as any to say it. I'll be away for a week, starting tomorrow, so no more updates for a little while.  smile
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #257 on: 06-20-2008 16:52 »

If you're going on vacation, enjoy yourself.

If it's a business trip, then much success.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #258 on: 06-20-2008 18:20 »

And vice-versa from me.

Space Pope
« Reply #259 on: 06-20-2008 20:01 »

Have fun Arch. The story is worth the wait.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #260 on: 06-20-2008 22:45 »

Well at least I won't be missing as much while I'm in Germany if Archonix is gone too.

Space Pope
« Reply #261 on: 06-28-2008 15:48 »
« Last Edit on: 06-29-2008 00:00 »

I'm back! Oh boy, I needed that break... though I didn't get as much writing done as I'd hoped thanks to a slight accident with the most up-to-date copy of the story right before I left. I spent most of my time rebuilding the last 20 pages of the fic. Ech. But it has a good side! There's a scene that felt like one huge infodump - imagine several pages of almost pure dialogue telling a big lump of back-story - and now, after being forced to re-write it from scratch, it feels a lot better. A lot better.

Anyway, none of that matters to this particular bit since it's miles and miles away...

Did I mention this was going to be a long plot?   big grin


Fry woke to the feeling of someone pawing through his pockets; never a good sign. Had he made it home last night? Well whatever he was laying on seemed fairly soft and warm, which meant either he was on the couch or lying in a garbage bin again.

He peeled open a gummy eye, marvelling at just how light his hangover actually felt, and looked around. He was on the couch in his- in Yancy’s apartment, and standing over him...


The grey bending unit paused for a fraction of a second as his positronic mind attempted to work out a suitable reaction. He yelled in surprise, milling his arms around as he leapt back and away from the couch. Fry sat up and his wallet, so very nearly teased from his pocket, fell to the floor with a quiet thump. Bender watched with a greedy, confused stare as Fry leaned down to pick it up.

“That’s my name, skintube.” Bender pulled out a cigar, which he clamped in his mouth and lit, a little confidence returning to his posture. “Question is, how do you know it?”

“I’m from a parallel universe where you’re my friend.”

“That so?” Bender blew a smoke ring around Fry’s face and stared at him for a moment, gauging Fry’s reaction. “If you’re my friend, what’s my favourite colour?”

Fry smiled, pulled a dollar bill from his wallet and waved it in front of Bender’s face. The robot’s eyes followed the note back and forth until Bender shook his head and looked away with a synthesised growl.

“All right, maybe there’s something to this,” he said, stepping away from the couch. “Lets say you are my friend, and you ain’t the stiff... so, what are you, like, his nephew or something?”

“You mean Yancy?”

“Sure, whatever. His uncle maybe?”

“I’m his brother,” Fry said, slipping his wallet into a safer pocket. It already felt a lot lighter than yesterday. How many cocktails had Amy managed to drink?

“Brother, huh?” Bender gave him a wary examination, then looked away with the robot equivalent of a shrug. “I never really understood the way you walking giblet bags relate to each other. Anyway, I guess I should say thanks for bringing him home last night. Rent’s due,” he added, as if to prove his lack of concern, as he walked away. Good old Bender, Fry thought.

Fry found himself alone in the apartment, mostly familiar and strangely different. For one thing there weren’t any stains on the walls, which were also painted a nice shade of blue. And there was even a carpet. Why did everyone have carpets? Fry lowered his feet to the soft pile and experimentally wiggled his toes into it.

“First thing I do when I get home,” he muttered. A carpet would be way better than picking composite splinters out of his feet every morning. Then again, it’d need cleaning.

He wandered around the apartment, taking in the way his brother lived. Everything was clean, in a way Fry could only dream of managing – if he ever could be bothered to dream about such things when he had more pressing issues to worry about, like where his next beer would be coming from. There were a few personal belongings on a shelf opposite the window. Photographs from Monument Beach and a few other tourist spots, along with a few mementos, a certificate of survival from the Deathball arena – Fry wondered how his brother had got roped into that – a few other bits of junk that presumably had some meaning to Yancy, and then a small blue box that Fry couldn’t resist picking up. Fry stared at the box in his hands for a moment, then opened it.

An expensive looking diamond glittered atop a narrow gold band, resting on a deep black velvet interior. It looked like it cost more than Fry had earned in his entire life and probably more than Yancy could have afforded without a huge loan. The stone was mesmerising, and chilling. He’d known at some level that Yancy was going to propose around the Millennium celebrations but he’d not really thought about it until this moment. Fry held the ring up to the light, turning it this way and that to catch the glittering sunlight reflections from its surface, and thought hard about the past, and Laura.

He, Philip J Fry, had married her in this universe. Accord to what he could remember of Yancy’s rambling the night before, they’d gone on to found the largest investment company in history, had several children and ended up virtually ruling the world at the head of a massive financial empire. His eldest son had been the first man on Mars. His next had been the commander of the first permanent moon colony. Philip Frys had been famous in almost every generation for nearly a thousand years, in the sciences, and the forefront of space exploration, in wars and peace...

A hand descended on the box, snapping it shut and snatching it from Fry’s grip before he could react. He turned to find Yancy glaring distrustfully at him, nursing the ring close to one shoulder. He looked like he was nursing the hangover from hell, too.

“I’m surprised Bender hasn’t stolen it,” Fry said, trying to lighten Yancy’s mood. Yancy just turned away, snapping the box open again to stare at the ring.

“He did. Twice. First time I bought it back from the pawn shop. Second time I took a blowtorch to his head until he gave it back.”

“Oh. I guess he got the picture then, huh?”

“No...” Yancy carefully placed the ring-box back in its place on the shelf, before quietly pressing the lid shut again. “Eventually the Professor used some sort of empathy chip on him so he’d learn what it meant to me. I guess it worked. He’s only tried stealing my blood since then.”

Yancy remained where he was, hand resting on the box, eyes closed, almost as if at prayer. Fry chewed his lip, trying to think, unsure of how to live up to the almost mythical figure he’d become in this world. The room suddenly felt very warm and close.


“I’m late for work,” Yancy muttered, turning away. He didn’t look at Fry. “Guess Leela will be trying to get into my head again.”

“Yeah, what is that,” Fry asked, following his brother across the room. Yancy shrugged, then headed toward the kitchen – and what a kitchen! – where a pot of coffee was quietly perking. Old-fashioned coffee too by the smell of things. Fry wondered where he’d got it.

Yancy stared at Fry from behind his coffee. “About two months after I got here the cryogenics lab figured I was depressed and started an intervention to-”

“What’s an intervention?”

Yancy’s stare took on a slightly disgusted cast. He put his cup down and leaned back a little. “It’s what they do if they think your career is making you suicidal. I’m surprised they didn’t start one for you the minute you arrived.”

“So they intervent you and-”

“Intervene,” Yancy said, scowling. “How the hell you managed to do what you did back then...”


Yancy put his head in his hands, a reminder of the hangover he was obviously still suffering. The hard spirits had been the problem – Fry wasn’t sure where they’d come from, and didn’t remember ordering them, but Yancy had seemed quite keen to drink as much of the stuff as possible. He decided it might be better to stay quiet for a little while and not mention that his own hangover was virtually gone already.

Maybe it’d turn up later, he thought, watching Yancy grimace. Funny, he’d been getting a headache all day yesterday but it was gone now. “You okay?”


“Want a detox pill?”

“I can’t, I’m allergic or something, I always feel like crap when I take one.”

“That’s usually a sign it’s working,” Fry said.

Yancy sighed and shook his head. “A thousand years of scientific progress and yet you can’t even get a simple aspirin.”

  “All right, so this intervention...”

“Long story short, they’re supposed to monitor and assess me for a few weeks to see if my career is really as suitable as the machine said it was. They said it’d take about three months.” He grabbed his coffee and took a deep draught. “That was four years ago.”

“So your Leela’s been coming around every week for the last four years?”

Yancy nodded. “She keeps finding excuses to get it extended so she can keep coming back. If I didn’t know better I’d say it was because of Vek.”

“The pilot guy? He was asking me about Leela when we first arrived.”

“They had a thing a few years back. Didn’t last long. She hates his guts now.”

“You two never...?”

Yancy seemed to turn even paler than he already was. “You’re kidding, right? Me and some bug-eyed alien?”


“For all I know she might have an ovipositor and- wait...” Yancy shook his head and blinked. “What? She’s not an alien?”

“She... uh... in my universe she’s a mutant. I dunno.” He shrugged. That usually covered it with Yancy and it seemed to work this time, too. Yancy gave Fry a skeptical look. “Anyway she’s not that bad! She’s just a little... spiky.”

For a little while they sat in silence while Fry mentally berated himself for letting out the ‘dirty’ secret. Of course nobody would know in this universe. There’d be no reason for Leela to go into the sewers, no reason to go chasing other mutants. All he could hope was that Yancy didn’t mention it again.

“Hell, I’m still late for work.”

Yancy tossed his near-empty cup into the waste processor and dashed from the kitchen, grumbling, leaving Fry alone for a moment. Fry looked around, tapped his fingers on the worktop a few times while he waited and then quickly grabbed a pile of cookies from under the counter before turning to chase after Yancy.

He caught up with Yancy by the door. Fry waited, stuffing cookies into his pockets as his brother struggled into his coat and shoes at the same time. “Are you gonna help me or something?”

“I’unno,” Fry said, shrugging, a cookie half way to his mouth. Yancy snorted at the sight but seemed content to let Fry follow him to work, so he did.

The city seemed brighter than usual as they stepped out onto the sidewalk, though that was probably just Fry’s memory of the last universe playing tricks on him. Nevertheless, he spent a fair amount of time just soaking up the sun, even walking with his eyes closed for a while, until Yancy suddenly grabbed him and yanked him back from the edge of the sidewalk. Fry opened his eyes to see a garbage truck speeding past inches before his face.

He rubbed his arm after Yancy let go. “Thanks, bro...”

“You should watch where you’re going,” Yancy replied with a brief frown. Fry could almost see the thoughts winding through his head and figured talking back would only cement the impression. At least this time.

Fry couldn’t help but think that Yancy was trying to work out how he’d survived so well in the future. He’d said as much already, but it was annoying to realise that his brother thought so little of him even, even now. On the other hand he wasn’t saying anything about it, which was a pleasant change from the usual carping he remembered.

The lights changed, letting them cross the street unmolested by the passing traffic. Further along the road Fry saw their destimation, a  graffiti-encrusted tube stop, next to a small row of suicide booths that had seen better days. Fry watched as Yancy paused by the booths, staring at them with a vaguely worried frown before he stepped up to the tube.

“Yancy, wait...”


“Look, about that detox thing, you really oughta try them again.” Fry smiled, trying to put his brother at ease. “I felt like crap the first time I used one, it’s normal.”

“Oh... I don’t know...”

“Better that than having a hangover all day, right?” He punched Yancy’s shoulder. Yancy just looked at him disdainfully, but then gave a tight nod. “Great! There’s convenience store down the road, we’ll get some there.”

“You’re sure this will work?”

“Hey, what could go wrong?”


“You had to say it, didn’t you!”

Fry sat in the short corridor outside the Planet Express staff bathroom, one foot up on the wall, trying not to listen to Yancy’s pitiful retching on the other side of the wall. He sighed.

“How many times can I say I’m sorry?”

“Not enough!”

Fry sighed again as Yancy resumed his all-too-noisy evacuations. The pill had kicked in just as they’d reached Planet Express. That had been almost an hour ago. He stood up and paced the corridor a few times, wondering if this was how an expectant father felt... but no, they’d probably have something good to look forward to. All he had was Yancy. Angry, ill, Yancy.

He looked up and waved at Amy as she came down the corridor. “Hey.”

“Hey yourself. What’s up?”

“Oh...” Fry pointed a thumb over his shoulder at the bathroom door. “Yancy.”

“Hangover, huh?” Amy consciously stayed away from the door, though Yancy had quietened down a bit now. “Let me guess, you got him to take a detox pill, right?”

“Yeah, how’d you know?”

“On our one and only official date he got a tiny bit drunk.” Amy leaned against the wall, smiling just a little as she thought back. Fry wasn’t sure if he wanted to hear about his brothers dates with Amy. Or... date. Singular. That was good wasn’t it? “Next morning he took one of those pills and ended up on the pan for the rest of the day.”

“Oh. Now I feel terrible.”

“I’m sure he feels worse,” Amy said with another grin. She stepped away from the wall and turned back the way she’d come. “Catch you later, huh?”

“Sure... Amy, wait a moment.” Fry jogged down the corridor, conscious of leaving Yancy behind. It’d only take a moment. Amy waited for him at the end of the corridor. He suddenly realised she was wearing pink. “Uh... look, I’m gonna be around for a while now, I guess, so I was wondering if you wanted to go out again tonight. Just a drink or... y’know. Stuff.”

“I’d love to, Phil, but I already have plans tonight.”

“Oh...” Such was life. Fry’s only consolation was that she actually looked crestfallen. Perhaps it was for the best anyway. Leela would kill him if she found out he’d asked Amy on a date. “Well.”

“Oh, you don’t understand, it’s not that I don’t want to. It’s a company thing, something to do with Seymour and Butes I guess, but the Professor is going to some sort of conference and then we’re all going out to a meal afterwards.” She smiled coyly and took his hand. “You can come with me to that, if you like... and then maybe after we could head back O’Grady’s and start over where we left off last night.”

She let go of his hand, winked and turned away, leaving Fry a little confused. As usual. No, a little more than usual. It took a moment to settle in, then he felt as if he’d have to join Yancy on the toilet as a spurt of adrenaline suddenly decamped to his stomach.

“I heard that, you know.”

Yancy’s voice had a strange, echoing quality to it from the various walls and vents it was bouncing off to reach Fry’s ears.

“Does it matter?”

The door slid open. Yancy tottered out, pale-faced, leaning on the door-frame for support as he looked down at his brother.

“Just be careful with her, Phil. She’s the only friend I’ve got in this god-awful place.”


“Yes, Amy!” Yancy slumped down on the floor beside Fry with a grimace and a sigh. He didn’t seem able to work up any anger toward Fry. Weird. “I don’t want to see her get hurt.”

“You think I’m going to hurt her?”

“Not on purpose, but you can be such a screw-up-”

“I don’t have to listen to this.” Fry made to stand up, but Yancy grabbed his arm and pulled him down again. “Yancy, come on.”

“Phil, just listen to me for a moment.”

Yancy grimaced and held onto his stomach for a minute before speaking. It was enough time to let Fry calm himself down just a little. Enough that he didn’t feel like punching his brother in the face any more. Fry waited for Yancy to compose himself again. His brother seemed determined to hold back whatever was battling away in his stomach, long enough to deliver whatever advice he had in mind. He looked Fry in the face and even tried to smile.

“On the way home you started babbling about the ‘last time’ you were with Amy, and how you’d dumped her and ended up crying on her shoulder or something.” Yancy gave Fry a steady gaze for a moment or so before going on. Fry could almost feel Yancy’s eyes burrowing into his mind. “Like I said, she’s the only friend I really have around here, and she stayed my friend even after... even after I acted like an ass toward her. Whatever you do, just... don’t hurt her.”

Fry couldn’t think of anything to say. He watched, almost in shock, as Yancy hauled himself upright and stumbled back into the bathroom, locking the door behind him. Yancy would never have admitted something like that in the old days, not even if the world depended on it. Fry couldn’t quite believe...

He stood up, listening. Yancy was quiet now, though it was likely that wouldn’t last for long. Fry didn’t want to wait around for that, though, so he set off down the corridor toward the employee lounge, where he could at least entertain himself with the television. Fry idly wondered if the All My Circuits plot would be the same here as at home. Then again, it wasn’t exactly creative television, so it probably wouldn’t make much difference if he saw things out of order. Fry whistled to himself, feeling happy for the first time in days. Not even the thought of Leela’s stressed grumbling could get him down now.

It was odd, but having Yancy around felt right, somehow. His brother was overbearing, rude and opinionated but having him there made Fry feel at home, really at home, for the first time in nearly seven years. If he had to be stuck anywhere, he thought, there were far worse places he could have ended up. Fry smiled to himself, whistling a little louder as he rounded the corner to the employee lounge.

He didn’t notice the odd creaking noise from a vent near the floor, nor see the single eye glaring malice at him from behind the grille. And if he heard the laugh, well... it was an old, owl-infested building with walls about as thick as paper. Odd sounds could come from anywhere.

God help me...

« Reply #262 on: 06-29-2008 07:38 »

Wow, once again really good and i'm loving the interaction between Fry and Yancy, it's interesting to see the brotherly relationship even though it's not what it used to be i'm sure.  Hope you had a good break, keep it up!

Bending Unit
« Reply #263 on: 06-29-2008 11:00 »

I'm glad you got to break away, and I certainly hop you didn't feel like you HAD to work on this while you were away. Sure glad you did, though.

Nice Deathball reference - good to see you're working in recently revealed future attributes into this enchanting tome.  smile

Space Pope
« Reply #264 on: 06-29-2008 11:13 »


Space Pope
« Reply #265 on: 06-30-2008 01:06 »

Great sotry. I like the Fry/Yancey interactions. I agree about the Deathball reference. Yancey and Amy are friends that is a good development. Pity he wont be around much longer. Love the story so far Arch.
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #266 on: 06-30-2008 10:55 »

Good update.  Just when I was sure we weren't going to see anything from Chesty McNag-Nag or her para-clones, Evila is stalking Fry from the sewers...

One question - if Evila finds out the professor has been doing experiments on the Para-Leelas, how would she react?  She obviously wants to kill all the Fry's and torment all the Leela's, but just to sit and watch Farnsworth use them as test subjects? 

She's psycho enough to want to torment the para-Leela's herself and NOBODY else has the right.

Space Pope
« Reply #267 on: 06-30-2008 13:11 »

Managed to catch up with this. Nice use of 4th-wall breakage - or almost? - when Neena and Leela are discussing what to call each other. The Professor seems to be darker in this universe somehow; I don't know. And there's definitely a headache theme going on.

And the gun, the saving gun, the secret in the tunnels that had set her free spoke to them and they fell to their faces at its words and cried their bloody tears to her feet.

That's quite an impactful piece of description, I like the image of the gun "speaking" to them.

And on a side note, I'm in accord with what you said on your site about the Yivo storyline working better if the character had perhaps been made more sinister. The whole proposal/"heaven" angle annoyed me to no end, and Leela capitulated far too brusquely. (Though it's the same kind of bluntness they used in the first one with Nibbler revealing himself far too easily, as well). Subtlety in short supply again.

Urban Legend
« Reply #268 on: 07-01-2008 01:20 »

Originally posted by Ralph Snart:Chesty McNag-Nag

Hmm, did Bender use that one, or is it a Ralph Snart Original(tm)?

Oh yeah, nice update, Arch. Any idea how many universe-hops Fry and Leela will eventually do?
Officer 1BDI

Starship Captain
« Reply #269 on: 07-01-2008 01:25 »

Originally posted by El-Man:
 Hmm, did Bender use that one, or is it a Ralph Snart Original(tm)?

It's from the movie: Bender calls Leela that when they're first introduced to Colleen.  Admittingly, Ralph was the first person I thought of when I heard that line.

Nice use of 4th-wall breakage - or almost? - when Neena and Leela are discussing what to call each other.

I think I'm the only reader so far who's had to have that joke pointed out to her by someone else.   roll eyes

Space Pope
« Reply #270 on: 07-01-2008 04:21 »
« Last Edit on: 07-01-2008 04:21 »

And on a side note, I'm in accord with what you said on your site about the Yivo storyline working better if the character had perhaps been made more sinister.

Yeah. This splitting up into episodes breaks the flow something awful. I reckon the films would be a lot better if they weren't doing that.

Originally posted by Officer 1BDI:
 I think I'm the only reader so far who's had to have that joke pointed out to her by someone else.     roll eyes

Oh, don't worry about that. I've been waiting for someone to notice the incredibly subtle reference in there to The Timeships as well. Nothing so far. I guess it was way too subtle.   smile

Space Pope
« Reply #271 on: 07-06-2008 21:06 »
« Last Edit on: 07-06-2008 21:06 »

On sounds...


They could, for example, emanate from the laboratory, where the Professor was conducting his latest pointlessly complicated and needlessly explosive experiments, much to the chagrin of those seated at the conference table.

Leela had entered after Fry and consciously sat herself on the far side of the table from him. Or possibly Veklerov. Whatever the reason, she refused to look in Fry’s direction, keeping her eye fixed on the centre of the table. Right now that suited Fry just fine, since it meant he wouldn’t have to try and explain his mind to her, or listen to her explaining how wrong he was all the time.

Veklerov, who had spent the last few minutes reading, with his feet up on the table, sat back with a grunt. He lowered his feet to the floor, threw his notepad on the table and turned to Fry.

“What have you done to my delivery boy?”

“I...” Fry paused as another series of explosions echoed around the building. “I sort of got him ill.”

“It was a detox pill,” Amy added, touching Fry’s arm and smiling. Veklerov shook his head.

“That was a stupid thing to do, wasn’t it?”

“Hey it’s not like he knew,” she exclaimed, wrapping a protective arm around Fry.

Fry glanced guiltily at Leela, but she seemed to have her mind elsewhere. She looked at Fry without seeming to see him, then let her gaze linger on Amy for a moment before turning back to stare at the table. Fry couldn’t figure it out, it was almost like she was turning into-

“Blue,” he muttered. Leela started. She stared at Fry, at the way Amy was holding onto him and seemed to grow just a little smaller at the sight, almost crestfallen. Fry could see that crease in her forehead again but he wasn’t sure what to do to appease her, stay or move. Either would be taken as an admission of some wrong.

Leela abruptly turned to look at Veklerov. “Fry has the same career chip. He’ll be able to take over for this trip.”

“Ahh kakogo chyorta, what the hell...” Veklerov made a note on his pad and tossed it to the table again.

“I’ll go and-” he and Leela both said, standing. They looked at each other, Leela looking faintly embarrassed, Veklerov wearing a smug smile. After a moment Leela slumped back into her seat.

“I shall go and prep the ship. Come along, Philip Fry, time to play among the stars.”

Veklerov’s smile widened a little as he descended toward the hangar floor, whistling to himself. A moment later Leela lowered her head to the table.

“I hate this place...”

Fry finally shrugged Amy’s hand from his arm and started to move toward Leela but, before he could reach her, she stood up, deliberately looking away from Fry as she walked back to the employee lounge. A moment later Amy got up and followed her with a concerned expression on her face. He wondered what she would do in there. Fry didn’t particularly want to be around for that explosion.

“Boy!” Veklerov’s voice echoed up from the hangar, jolting Fry’s attention away from the women in his life. He walked down to the hangar floor.

Veklerov was waiting by ship’s gangway, staring at his watch. “You’re making us late.”

“Does it matter?”

“Matters to me! Get inside and make sure package is secured,” he growled, before stalking off to walk around the ship. Fry rolled his eyes and started up the ladder.

Inside, the ship was similar to the one at home, though some things – as always – were different. There was more clutter, more open panelling and visible ductwork, as if someone had been slowly modifying the interior and forgotten to put the bulkhead panels back in place. The ship felt closer and narrower too, with conduits and cables snaking along the walls in some places, and odd – though secured – piles of equipment sitting in the companionways.

Fry reached the cargo bay and finally found out why. It was huge, far bigger than the one they had at home. It took up two decks, squeezing everything else on deck two into the spaces normally taken up by the galley and part of the rec room. There was a half-sized cargo lift secured at around the same level as deck two, with another half-lift pushed right up against the ceiling.

And all that space for the package, a tiny cardboard box wrapped in brown paper which he eventually spotted resting in the middle of the deck. Fry shook his head as he leaned down to examine the package. It wasn’t ticking and it didn’t seem to have any sign of being dangerous or volatile but, just to be safe, he dragged a webbing net over it and tied it securely to the deck.

He was just examining a safety notice pinned haphazardly to the forward bulkhead when Yancy stumbled into the cargo bay. He took a surprised double-take when he saw Fry.

“What are you doing here?”

“I could ask the same sort of question. Um. Thing.”

“Great, here one day and you’re already stealing my life from me. Again.” Yancy leaned over the package. “Huh, looks like I don’t have much to worry about after all.”

Fry leaned forward to watch Yancy as he knelt down over the package and started adjusting the webbing. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“This, here,” Yancy said, pointing at the straps. “You forgot to plug in the conforming web.”

“The what?”

Yancy sat back, holding up a plug attached to the webbing. He pushed it into a socket inside the strapping ring on the deck. The webbing twitched and rapidly tightened up, conforming itself to the shape of the package.

“That,” he said, standing up.

“We don’t have anything like that back home.”

Yancy didn’t manage any more reply than a raised eyebrow before the main airlock sealed shut behind them. The cargo bay filled with a loud hiss of venting air as the ship sealed and pressurised, preparing for take-off. Yancy’s face paled at the sound. He stumbled toward the airlock and thumped his hand against the release, moaning quietly when he realised it was sealed and locked.


“I knew I should have stayed in the bathroom. Oh god...” Yancy slumped down on the floor, holding his head with one hand and his stomach with the other. He groaned when Fry tried to help him up again. “I need to get out of here!”

“We’d better go up and tell the scary Russian to let you off.”

Yancy bit his lip and nodded as Fry hauled him to his feet. With great care they made their way up the ladders to the flight deck. Fry briefly took in the truncated crew spaces on deck two as they passed by, wondering how anyone could live with being so cramped together.

“Oh, there you are.” Veklerov turned in his seat and stared at Fry, then at Yancy as he emerged, swaying, from the steps. “And Yanchovich! I thought you were making govno eh? Feeling better now? No? Oh well, no matter, you go sit by scanners, brother go sit out of way and... what?”

“I think he needs to see a doctor or something,” Fry said, glancing at Yancy. Veklerov laughed and slapped his knee.

“Doctor! No chance, we’re late already. He can go lie down or take a crap or whatever he wants when we’re in space.”



He turned his back to them, humming a loud, tuneless song as he powered up the ship. Fry and Yancy shared a look and then skittered for the seats either side of Veklerov.

There was more, Fry noticed as he sat down. At some level he’d always know that either he or Bender was essentially useless on most trips, but it was made obvious here, with the radio and scanner consoles incorporated into a single unit. The other console was little more than a remote terminal and writing desk. It even had a little poise lamp folded away above it.

Fry stared around the bridge, taking in the changes, the efficiencies, not to mention the open clutter that Leela would never have tolerated. He didn’t have much time to appreciate the differences though. There was a familiar rumble as the ship lifted up on its launch ramp, engines whining, preparing for launch. A warning light caught Fry’s eye as it began to flash on the overhead display.

“Is that meant to be flashing?”

“Is number three fuel injector, no problem. Ignore it!”

Fry watched the final launch countdown and tried not to think about exploding engines. The injectors were important, weren’t they? He glanced across at Yancy, who was gripping the arms of his seat, breathing heavily, and wondered if perhaps his brother had more reasons than normal to worry. Then again, their own ship hadn’t exactly been the best maintained what with Hermes’ constant refusal to budget for anything but new paint-jobs.

“Rock and roll,” Veklerov muttered. He jammed the throttle up to the stops. The ship leaped from its cradle.

Fry grunted in surprise. The g-forces were incredible, almost as if someone had turned down the gravity generator. He felt his body crushing into the seat and could hear things rattling as the ship shook. Then the light began to shift; they were spinning. Veklerov let out a whoop as he rolled and looped the ship through the air.

Then suddenly it was over. The atmosphere receded, the stars faded into view and the ship flattened its course away from the earth. Fry let out a huge sigh and slumped forward in his seat.

“I’ll never complain about Leela’s flying again,” he muttered. Yancy snorted something at him, probably an insult of some sort, but he couldn’t hear it. By the time Fry turned to ask what it was Yancy was up and out of his seat, face pallid but determined as he staggered toward the Head.

The ship was quiet now, just the quiet, regular tick of the main computer letting Fry know it was even alive. Veklerov was poring over his console, making more notes into another notepad while he adjusted the computer. Then he sighed and leaned back with his eyes closed.

“So you think Siroch- that Leela flies better than me, eh?” Veklerov shook his head with a wry grin. “Never saw her as the flying type, she doesn’t have the yajtza for this sort of thing. No adventure.”

He stood up and paced around the bridge, finally settling on one of the consoles. “Tell me about your Leela, then. She has more adventure in her, does she?”

“I guess...”

“You two aren’t lovers?”

“What kind of...” Fry paused. He could answer, but he wasn’t sure where this line was going. The guilt he felt gave him some idea, though... was he jealous? Of Leela? “No. No, we aren’t.”


Veklerov returned to the pilot’s seat and activated the autopilot, then returned to his perch. He stared at Fry for a while, not speaking. Just staring. Was he trying to work something out? Oh crap, was he some sort of telepath, trying to read his mind? Fry tried to think about things that would scare him off until he remembered that telepaths didn’t exist.

He tried smiling at Vek to put him at ease, but the pilot just continued staring at him. “What?”

“What what?”

“You’re staring at me,” Fry prompted. Veklerov just shrugged and nodded. “Can you stop?”

“Of course I can,” he said, still staring. Fry grunted and spun his seat away from Veklerov’s gaze, but he could still feel it, somehow, burning into his back like a laser. He turned back. Veklerov grinned.

“Where are we going anyway?”

“Ceti Alpha. Some sort of worm infestation, we’re taking a new pesticide sample.” He finally turned away, picking at a loose seam on the console to his left. “Should be about ninety minutes each way. So would you be jealous if I took her?”


“Your Leela. I assume since you two aren’t making the beast of the backs...”

The stare remained as Vek’s voice drifted away and Fry couldn’t think of anything to say. Was he jealous? What sort of question was that? “We won’t be here for very long.”

“You are an optimist if you think the Professor will actually find you a way home. No you are here for good, my friend,” Vek said, leaning forward just a little, his face serious. “And I see from your face that you have reasons to be happy from this.”

“I dunno.”

“Oh you do. A Russian always believes everyone is waiting with a knife behind his back, so a Russian always watches everyone. I have watched you, my friend. You, too, are seeking a second chance to-”

Veklerov bit back on what he was saying as Yancy re-entered the bridge, looking much relieved, if a little queasy. He slumped down in his seat with a plaintive sigh. “If I ever go near one of those pills again I swear I’ll just shoot myself.”

Fry couldn’t help chuckling, which earned him a dirty look from Yancy but nothing more. The pause gave Fry a moment to think, to try and process what he’d learned in the last few minutes. Second chances. He stole another glance at Yancy, pondering. Second chances... Fry had always looked up to Yancy in a way. He’d been rude and overbearing and he’d tried to steal just about every novel idea Fry had come up with, but he was the older brother. There was something about that, a mystical idea of goal to be achieved. Something to aim at.

The thought elicited another chuckle and another dirty look from Yancy. A second chance? Maybe.

A motion in the forward port caught Fry’s eye. “Hey look, it’s Mars. I went to university there.”

“You went to university?” Yancy’s voice almost dripped with sarcasm. Nevertheless he stood up and walked over to Fry’s side. “I can’t really imagine you in a university.”

“Eh, I was only there for a few weeks before I dropped out.”


Fry walked down to peer out of the window at the passing planet. From up here it looked almost as barren as it always had in the past. Dead. There was almost no sign of the seemingly endless tropical forests that surrounded the university, though perhaps they were on some other side of the planet.

After a moment he noticed Yancy stood beside him. “You know, in my universe, it was my nephew that landed on Mars.”

“Your...” Yancy took on a thoughtful look, whilst Fry leaned his forehead against the window. “I see.”

“Yancy, have you ever realised how lucky we are?”

“If you could call this luck...”

“Think about it though. That’s Mars down there. We’re on a spaceship, we’re further from earth than anyone from our time and we got here in three minutes!”

“Just another ball of rock,” Yancy muttered, staring at the planet through half-lidded eyes. He turned away for a moment. “Nothing special about it.”

He turned back again, narrowing his eyes at Fry and then at the planet. “So you’re saying my... my son did it?”

“Well, yeah.”

“I had a son...” Yancy bit his lip. Silence. “Where?”

“Oh I dunno. I wasn’t really... elis... planatia... something or other. Near that big olympic mountain.”

“Olympus Mons?”

“Yeah, that one. Right there.” Fry pointed toward the barely visible peak of the mountain. “When I found out about it I went and looked up some of the history. There was this book, The First Man on Mars, with a story about it. I didn’t get most of it because I was playing with the little rocket on page three-”

“You learned about it from a pop-up book?”

“The librarian said it was the only thing they had at my level...” Fry frowned. Why did people always think he was so dumb? “Anyway, after he landed they started a city there. It’s called Yancy.”

“After my son?”

“No, after you. You named your kid Philip.”

Yancy stared at the planet. He didn’t speak, or move for a while, he just stared. “Why would I do that?”

Fry shrugged his shoulders and tried not to think about the implied insult in the question. He probably didn’t mean it. For a while Yancy continued to stare at the planet as it passed by.

“In your universe, did I do what you did in mine?”


“I didn’t.” Yancy shook his head, shut his eyes as he leaned against the window and let out a bitter sigh. “I knew it. I was just as much of a loser then as I am now.”

He turned away and left the bridge again. Fry made to follow, but then paused near the door and turned back, unsure of what he would even say to his brother. After a moment he returned to his seat to stare at the console.

Fry was rudely jerked out of his melancholy by Veklerov’s hand clamping down on his shoulder.

“What now?”

“Second chances, my friend, is what I was speaking of. Your Leela, to me, she is the second chance I always craved.” He spun Fry’s seat around to face him and leaned against the console. “You say you won’t be here long but that could change. I am a miracle worker!”

“Why not work a miracle on your own Leela then?”

“Jealous?” He waved a dismissive hand and muttered something in Russian, something Fry really didn’t like the sound of. “Pah, she has no taste, no adventure. She only cares about being safe. You head off to cabin now. I’ll tell you when we land.”

Fry folded his arms, refusing to move from his seat though he wasn’t sure why. “I’m not jealous. Leela can do whatever she wants!”

“Ah, then you won’t mind if I take her to my-”

“Leaving!” Fry shot up from the seat and sprinted for the door. He stopped in the corridor beyond, breathing heavily. Why did he care anyway? He leaned back around the door and stared at Veklerov. “You know what happened to the last guy who talked about Leela like that?”

“No. What?”

“Well... actually she slept with him. But she really hated him afterwards.”

Veklerov just laughed.
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #272 on: 07-07-2008 19:23 »

I commented on Esso's thread that seeing two of my current favorite fics updated on the same day warmed the cockles of my heart.  Now I have warm cockles.

Okay, you've thrown in a few swerves but I do have the feeling that we're not going to like this Ruskie.

Maybe he'll eat a bullet from our little deranged turtle-dove?  That's really the only gripe - no Evila.

I've gotten attached to our favorite mentally ill para-Leela (they're ALL mentally ill, Evila not only admits it, she basks in its glory.)

Starship Captain
« Reply #273 on: 07-07-2008 22:35 »

Epic story. Cant wait see how Leela handles this Amy.

I wonder if fry could bring himself to shoot Evila, something makes me want him to be the guy to hit back for all the other Fry's in the multiverse!

Urban Legend
« Reply #274 on: 07-07-2008 23:50 »

fantastic as always, Archonix.  I really like the interplay between Yancy and Fry, and how they're both jealous of each other.  This Veklerof guy is turning out to be a real slimeball.  I see a major ass kicking in his future.

Space Pope
« Reply #275 on: 07-08-2008 12:23 »

It wouldn't be much of a spoiler to say that there are several.

« Reply #276 on: 07-11-2008 11:16 »

Originally posted by Archonix:
On sounds...

He leaned back around the door and stared at Veklerov. “You know what happened to the last guy who talked about Leela like that?”

“No. What?”

“Well... actually she slept with him. But she really hated him afterwards.”

Veklerov just laughed.


  big grin   big grin   big grin .

Again I love the interaction between Fry and Yancy, hope to hear a bit more from Leela in the next one, feeling really bad for her right now.

Space Pope
« Reply #277 on: 07-11-2008 14:25 »

Great update. It only took me 5 days after it was put up to actually read it though. I'm getting lazy.  Veklerof is defiantly getting to show more of his spleaseball-ness the more we get to know him. No that's not really a spoiler just an obvious conclusion. The Fry Yancey stuff is great the mutual jealousy is well done.

Space Pope
« Reply #278 on: 07-13-2008 18:41 »

You wanted Evila? here she comes...

She was lost. Or temporarily misplaced. Leela stared at the wall of the tunnel, trying to recognise the markings and graffiti left by countless mutants over the years that would tell her whether it was familiar or not. The underground works of this universe had cut a vast swathe right through the sewer network and the old city, re-arranging them, making the unfamiliar and new. It was... pleasing, in its way, a novel experience. But frustrating.

It didn’t matter too much, she could almost smell the mutants and their hovels, even over the stink of effluent. But, right now, she was lost, deep in the tunnels. She hated it. It was the nightmare returning again for just a brief moment, but long enough to shake her, to bring up images of the past, of what had driven her to-

Leela splashed along another narrow tunnel in a near daze as she tried to thrust the demons from her mind, the haunting memories of what happened in tunnels like these. She almost didn’t notice the passage widen out into the vast, open space of the lake – not glowing this time, it seemed – and the mutant village beyond. They’d be here somewhere. They generally were.

She stood on the threshold of the tunnel for a moment, taking in the view. This, at least, was almost the same, or similar enough. The object she was after would be nearby and the place where she wanted to take it was nearer still. Leela backed into her tunnel and backtracked to a side-passage, smaller and leading deeper into the tunnels. She knew where she was going now. Down another tunnel, to the left... it was darker, this far into the sewers, and barely travelled even by the mutants. The first time she’d been here had been during an attempt to escape and it was only chance that had let her find the dank, unvisited maintenance room, deserted and undisturbed for centuries.

There it was again. The door, slightly ajar and rusted into place, just wide enough for her to slip through. Inside was pitch-black, to the point that even her superior vision was almost useless. Almost, but not quite. The locker was here, and the abandoned mannequin-like robot slumped in the corner, with just a few crumbling circuits where its face had been. And then the sealed box. She’d been desperate for a weapon, anything to fend off the mutants hunting her. She’d smashed the box open with the sort of blind optimism-

- a crunch as the fragile container struck the floor and fell open -

And there it was, as it had been before. The metal was a little dull, but untarnished despite being centuries old, the seal on the case having kept the weapon and its ammo perfectly preserved. A three-fifty-seven Colt Python II, satin silver finish, nine inch barrel, composite carbon grip. A workhorse gun, the ‘premier American revolver’, the old advertising literature had said. She’d looked it up on the internet.

Leela carefully lifted the weapon from its protective casing and took out her own for comparison. They were identical of course, apart from the grip, where she could see the same motif that kept turning up in this universe, of the stylised dog and crown. He’s been very busy, that boy, she mused, slipping her own gun back into its holster. She pulled the packaged ammo from the case and stared at it. It’d probably still work. Hers had, after all.

With the gun pushed into her belt and the ammo safely tucked into a spare pocket, Leela made her way back out into the sewers. There weren’t any mutants chasing her so she could take her time. About now they’d probably be out, scavenging like rats or some other vermin. Leela felt herself sneering and fought a moment to bring her face under control.

The town was ahead again, mostly deserted, but as she always remembered it, a ramshackle collection of buildings assembled from garbage and off-casts. What she wouldn’t give for a few gallons of gasoline and a match. She strode down the centre of the main street, ignoring the half-curious stares of the few mutants stood around as irrelevant; she let her confidence tell them she belonged here, and they believed it, because they didn’t know how to think otherwise. Who would come into the sewers?

She reached the house, a slum-house, fit for nothing but beggars. It was empty and peaceful, undisturbed. A home for someone. She looked up at it with unconcealed disgust, then pushed open the door and stepped inside. It was the same as always. The same trinkets, scraps of her life plastered across the walls, mementos plucked from the waste, images stolen from any vantage point they could find as they stalked her. She paid enough attention to notice none of them were in colour in this universe, leaving her twin pale-faced and grey-haired, but no more than that. Leela settled herself behind the door.

There wasn’t long to wait. They came through the door an hour later, bickering at each other about some meaningless bone of contention, she letting he know exactly how she felt about it and he simply taking it with that vague, tolerant smile, reminding Leela of her torment. She cocked the new pistol as the door swung shut. The oily triple-click of the mechanism seemed to bring its own unique silence to the room, capturing their attention as surely as if she’d shouted out their names. Both of them turned, hands – or whatever – slowly rising in the air. He frowned, she just looked shocked.

“Hello, mother.”

“L... Leela?” She looked mystified as well. Maybe they’d just got back from spying on her sister here and couldn’t figure out how she’d changed so fast. “What...?”

“You shouldn’t be here.”

“Oh. I’m not,” Leela said. She pulled out a fresh cigarette and a lighter, enjoying the disapproving looks they couldn’t quite manage to hide as she lit it and took a deep drag. “I’m out there somewhere. Enjoying the sun.”

“I don’t understand...” Her moth- she twisted her brow in confusion as she looked up and down. The other one just stared at her; it seemed now it was his turn to be in shock.

“This isn’t how I expected...” he began. Leela shook her head and raised the gun just a fraction. “What are you doing?”

“Exactly what you wanted me to do,” Leela said as she moved toward them.

It was ironic, she thought afterwards, that they had always valued their privacy. The soundproofing meant that anyone outside would have heard nothing more than a quiet thump. Maybe they would have seen a flash, but they’d have assumed it was just one of those things and moved on.

Leela held up the still-smoking pistol and stared at it, watched the smoke rising from the barrel toward the ceiling. She inhaled the smell of it, savouring the acrid stench before tossing the gun to the floor beside the woman. What was left of her. The coup de grace was simple enough; a driver’s license with his face on it, for some reason she’d always carried it around with her. Perhaps this had been why. Leela delicately placed the card in a convenient hand and closed the fingers around it. She threw a couple of the spare ammo packs on the floor for flavour and stood back to admire her handiwork. Then she took a final drag on the cigarette and tossed it away.

The final touch was a notice, quickly scrawled on a piece of cardboard and attached to the door, telling everyone that the inhabitants were on an extended sight-seeing tour of the New Baltimore sewers and wouldn’t be back for some time. It’d keep out the idiot locals. They valued privacy. All of them. Except hers.


The ship thumped down, skidding slightly on its feet as it hit the bare concrete of the hangar. Before the engines had even fully shut down Fry was stumbling down the gangway, grunting as he tried to reach the bottom before his legs gave out. He flopped onto his hands as knees the moment he reached the hangar floor, moaning in sheer delight at the thought of solid ground, though he stopped short at actually kissing it. He was joined a moment later by Yancy who, it seemed, was coping a little better than Fry this time. He squatted down next to his brother.

“I thought you enjoyed this sort of thing.”

“Not like that!” Fry got to his knees and stared over his shoulder at the ship, unsure of how to feel about it now. He saw Veklerov emerge from the airlock and look at him for a moment before starting down the gangway. “Is he completely insane?”


“It felt like the gravity generator was turned off half the time.”

Veklerov reached the bottom of the step. The pilot shot Fry an odd look as he passed by. “You act like all this is unusual, Philip Fry.”

“Well, yeah, when Leela flies we rarely even feel it most of the time. What’s that Star Tr- um... thing... the inertial dampeners, that’s it, they take care of it. Maybe yours are broken or something?”

“I turn them down to safety threshold, makes flying more fun,” he said over his shoulder. Fry and Yancy shared an uncomprehending look as Veklerov’s words sank in. Then Yancy suddenly growled and got up to chase after pilot. He grabbed Veklerov’s shoulder outside the locker room and spun him around.

“You mean to tell me you’ve made my job into a hellish nightmare on purpose? You... you bastard,” he screamed, winding back his arm, hand locking into a fist. Fry caught him before he could strike, wrapping his arms around Yancy’s shoulders and tugging him away from Veklerov.

“Come on-”

“Let go of me!” Yancy struggled and squirmed against Fry’s grip, though not hard enough to actually escape, Fry noticed. “I’ll kill him!”


Fry braced himself and pulled Yancy away. He’d never seen his brother so upset as this before. Never. Not Yancy, who always dismissed things he didn’t like with a sneer or just plain pretended they weren’t happening. Passive-aggressive was more his style. Fry glared at Veklerov with an unaccustomed bubbling in his gut, until the pilot held up his hands and wandered away, muttering to himself in Russian.

Somehow they ended up in the lounge, which seemed deserted. Yancy slumped down on the sofa next to Fry and stared at the television. He didn’t seem inclined to turn it on.

“This place is insane,” he muttered. Fry couldn’t help but agree, though Yancy just snorted when he did. They sat in silence, watching the blank screen together for a while as the distant explosions of the Professor’s experiments began to rock the building again.

“Some things are the same,” Fry said as the last ear-splitting bangs rolled away to distant thunder. Yancy just rolled his eyes, though the comment seemed to ease his mood a little. He sat back and stared at the ceiling.

“I guess Leela isn’t as uptight in your universe as she is in mine or you wouldn’t be so hot on her.”

“Oh she can be, when she wants to be,” Fry muttered, reaching behind the couch for a beer and not finding any in his usual hiding spot. Of course, it wasn’t his hiding spot in this universe. He sighed. “There’s times when she can be really caring, and times when she’s the best friend I ever had... and then there’s times when she’s just on my ass for no reason at all, like I’m the screw-up all the time. Or I’m doing something she doesn’t think I should be doing. It’s like she’s mom, only... bossier and younger. And mom wouldn’t have kissed me like that.”

“At least that means she cares, right?”

“Only when it gives her a chance to screw around with my life.”

Yancy twisted his hands together. “Oh,” he said. And then again. “Oh.”

“That’s what it feels like, right now,” Fry finished. He closed his eyes. “I don’t know, Yancy, sometimes it just feels like I’m chasing a shadow.”

He would have said more but the door swung open before his mouth could. They both looked up at the same time and saw Leela, brown-haired and frowning a little more than usual, even for her. She stared at Fry, then at Yancy, who closed his eyes.

“Oh,” he said again, with more feeling. “Well I guess we’d better get this over with. Usual office?”

“Yes. And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t treat this as such a chore, Mr Fry,” Leela added, with the inflection of someone going through a very familiar routine. She shrugged off her coat and threw it on the couch, an action that seemed oddly familiar to Fry for some reason. “If you were more cooperative this situation could be resolved much faster.”

“Whatever you say,” Yancy said, standing up. “See you later, Phil.”

“Actually I’d like your brother to sit in on this session. It might be useful.”

“Oh. Well... this way.”

Yancy lead them both to a spare room next to Hermes’ office. Fry had only been in the room once before. He remembered the way Amy had sat on the table, one leg propped on a chair, the other foot firmply planted on the table-top, and felt his face turning bright pink. It was obviou enough for Leela to notice and give him a strange look.

“Are you feeling all right?”

“Just a memory.” Fry stared at the floor until he could dump the remembrance. Ironic, perhaps.

“Well, never mind that.” Leela sat down at the table and started emptying her case, laying a recorder, some files and a blank piece of paper in front of her. She paused a moment to rub her temples.

“Are you all right,” Yancy asked, leaning toward her a little.

“I’m fine, it’s just a little headache. Nothing serious,” she said, massaging her forehead with the ball of her palm. “Both of you, sit down please.”

They sat facing her across the table, Fry a little off to one side, whilst Yancy sat square on, obviously used to some sort of routine in the interviews. Leela examined her paper for a moment before placing them in a careful pile beside the recording machine.

“Before we get started, I have to tell you that, until your brother and his ‘friend’ leave again I’d like you to refer to me as Neena.”


“The other one didn’t want to be called ‘purple’. Besides,” Le- Neena grinned briefly before her customary frown returned. She reached for the recorder. “I’ve used this name before. Intervention subject one zero five Echo Romeo, Fry, Yancy J. Correlate archive and date. Okay...” Neena shuffled the papers and cleared her throat. “Routine stuff first. Since we last spoke have there been any changes in your demeanour or attitude toward work?”


“Any alterations in your work practice, terms of employment or working routine?”

Yancy glanced at Fry and rolled his eyes at Neena. “No...”

“Any incidents that have significantly altered your perception of your workplace, employers or co-workers?”

“No. Wait, yes.”

Neena’s pen halted its scratching against her notepad. She looked up at Yancy with a curious expression. “This is different. All right, when did this happen?”

“I suppose it could have started when Phil got me sick with that detox pill-”

“Hey come on, how was I supposed... uh...” Fry quailed under the combined stares of Neena and Yancy. “Sorry.”

“Detox pill?” Neena prompted, making another quick note.

“Yeah, I think I’m allergic to them and I got ill, which meant they had to temp Phil for the delivery boy on the last mission,” Yancy continued, rattling his fingers against the table. “So first I figure out that Phil likes his version of this job more than I do-”

“For the record, subject is speaking of his brother from... elsewhere.” Neena rolled her eye toward the ceiling. “See new notes and file on Farnsworth, Hubert J for details. Sorry, carry on.”

“Right. Okay.” Yancy too a moment to compose himself after the interruption. “Right, so Phil turns out to enjoy this work even though it doesn’t seem any different, then I find out that Vek has-”

The recorder clicked off. Fry realised he’d had his eyes closed while Yancy was talking – god knew why. He opened them to find Neena gripping the recorder very tightly with one hand, the other wrapped around her pen like it was a dagger.

Neena glanced at Fry, then down at her hand around the recording machine with a narrowed eye. After a moment’s hesitation she very slowly peeled her fingers away from the machine. She sat back, trying to appear calm and aloof but the tension in her face was obvious. “What did the idiot do now?”

“He told me he, uh, shouldn’t you be recording this?”

“I want to hear what he did to you first. We can make an official recording later.”

Yancy fidgeted in his seat, glancing at Fry a few times before he spoke again. “It was... well, Phil was telling me that he enjoyed flying with his version of you and I couldn’t quite figure it out. I hate flying.”

“With Veklerov? I’m not surprised.”

“Right. Anyway, just now I found out that he’s been turning the... inert...” He turned to Fry, pleading.

“Inertial dampeners. Star- uh... television told me.”

“Those things. He said he’d had them turned down to their minimum safety level, like it’s fine to just make my life a living hell so he can have a bit of ‘adventure’ or something.”

“I see.” Neena made another note. “How did that make you feel?”

“Well, angry I guess. I sort of shouted at him.”

“You nearly beat him up,” Fry said. “I had to hold you back or you’d have probably, I dunno, killed him. Or tried to.”

Neena wrinkled her brow and wrote something else down on her notepad whilst muttering under her breath. She reached for the recorder again to turn it on but Yancy reached out to stop her. He glanced at Fry again, then gave Neena a long, careful look. “Look... I feel kind of bad about the way I’ve acted toward you all this time. We’re having some sort of celebration dinner this evening, maybe you want to come along?”

“Will Vek be there?”

“Yes, but you’d be with... me...” Yancy swallowed and looked away. “That wasn’t meant to sound like that. I mean it’s not a date or anything, I just-”

“Sounds like a date to me.”

“Me too,” Fry added, to his instant regret. Neena and Yancy both shot him another bitter look.

“It’s not a date. If it were a date I’d be paying for it rather than the company. I just figure... I don’t know what I figure, but... I guess, I guess I owe you for trying to help me all this time. So, you want to come?”

“Pick me up at six,” Neena said, brushing Yancy’s hand away. She took a moment to compose herself, then turned on the recorder again. “Interview continues. Now as you were saying, Mr Fry?”


They left the office an hour later, with the interview concluded and a little light chit-chat to round off the visit. Fry couldn’t quite work out what had happened; from the moment the tape machine had turned back on Yancy had been different, as if he’d realised something, as if the entire interview, which he’d been moping about for the whole day, was suddenly just a formality to be dealt with. He seemed... he seemed happy. Yancy was never happy.

And that was another thing. Fry hadn’t seen Leela since they got back, nor could he find Veklerov, which made him just a little suspicious. Not that he cared. She could do what she wanted... even so, he’d walked around the entire building trying to find her and even taken another look in the Professor’s huge underground lab though, after arriving and remembering just how large the complex was, he’d thought better of the idea.

The Professor had disappeared while they were in the interview and Hermes wasn’t in his office. He’d left a note, though, telling everyone that they were at some sort of a conference and would be arriving at the restaurant. Zoidberg still hadn’t turned up either. Even the secretary had disappeared for the day.

“Not invited,” Neena said, staring at the empty reception.

“What makes you so sure?”

Neena pointed at a large notice pasted across the wall, inviting Hermes to perform various acts on his own self. Fry hoped the parts written in Neptunian weren’t as bad as the parts written in English. There wasn’t much else to be said after that, so they let Neena out and waved her off a moment later. Fry leaned against the wall, soaking up the afternoon sun while Yancy locked the front door. Yancy still looked pale but, if he was suffering any after-effects from the morning’s trouble, he wasn’t showing it.

“So now what?”

“We go home for a few hours. I might just go and lie down.”

“We could go for a drink.”

“No,” Yancy said, pocketing his keycard. And that was that.

They made their way back to the apartment in silence, with Yancy seemingly lost in his thoughts as he walked – though not lost enough to imitate Fry’s earlier near-miss. The thoughtfulness remained right up to the lobby door, when Yancy suddenly stopped and turned to look at Fry.

“You said she was a mutant?”

“Uh... yeah. In my universe.”

“I thought they were a myth, you know, an urban legend, like the alligators.”

“Oh the alligators are real too. The little ones keep coming up the drains and swimming around in the toilet.”

Yancy nodded, then shook his head to distract the thought. “Anyway, so you’re saying she’s not an alien? She’s human?”

“I guess... why does it matter? What’s wrong with aliens?”

“Like you have to ask,” Yancy said as they watched a gelatinous green blob squirm past on the far side of the road. A vague silhouette of some smaller alien twitched in the Blob’s interior. “I saw Alien too, you know, and Battlestar Galactica. All that laying eggs in people and weird diseases and stuff, it creeps me out just thinking about it. And the number of times I’ve nearly been eaten by aliens and monsters on supposedly routine package deliveries... I thought that advert was a joke until it happened in real life.” He pushed open the lobby door and headed toward the elevators with Fry trailing behind almost as an afterthought. “But if she’s a mutant, then she’s probably just a bit of a funny shape or something. She’s not going to suck my brains out of my ears or implant her young in my skull or anything creepy like that.”

“No, she’ll just boss you around and treat you like crap all the time.”

“I wouldn’t have figured you for the bitter type, Phil. Besides, the way you stare at her all the time kinda makes me wonder if you really mean all that.”

“Well... maybe I stare at her so I can see her coming!”

“Nice try,” Yancy said as the elevator door opened.

They stepped inside, silent again as the elevator ascended, Fry refusing to look Yancy in the eye. He’d forgotten what it was like to have his brother taunting him about his girlfriends all- “No, no she’s not my girlfriend!”

“Phil, I never said-”

“I know! Just stop thinking it!”

Yancy laughed and shook his head, which was scary. So scary, in fact, that Fry almost felt the urge to hit the emergency button and try to escape. Maybe he’d already got some sort of alien in his head. But the he saw that dreamy look on Yancy’s face, the one Fry knew he got when he was thinking about Lee- “Dammit!”

Yancy stared at him, eyebrows raised somewhere out of sight as he tried to work out what Fry was doing. “Are you feeling okay?”

“My brain is ganging up on me again. Maybe I need to lie down as well.”

Yancy shrugged and turned to face the door, which opened as if on cue, ejecting them into the seemingly endless corridor of their floor. When they reached the apartment it seemed quiet, unsurprising once they found out Bender wasn’t home. Fry flopped down on the couch and turned on the television without speaking. Yancy retreated to his bedroom, leaving Fry alone with nothing but the droning of daytime television to keep him company.

Leela – he knew the name she wanted, but he couldn’t really think of her as anything else yet – had said yes to Yancy without even an argument. A single question and a single answer and Yancy got the one thing Fry had been after for years. Last time he’d had to write an entire opera just to catch her interest and then, afterwards, things had gone right back to normal again, as if nothing had ever happened.

Every so often there’d be a hint or a lead, but either he’d screw up and say something stupid or it would just end up going nowhere. It wasn’t fair!

There weren’t any beers in the fridge. That wasn’t fair either. And there wasn’t any sign of Calculon on All My Circuits, and that wasn’t fair either! Fry grumbled around the apartment, pacing between the door and the window on the so-very-soft carpet as he tried to work out how so many universes could be so cruel to him. He wondered if he should phone Leela, but somehow he figured that would just make her mad.

Eventually Yancy came out and shouted at him for making so much noise. Fry hadn’t known he was making any, until he thought about it and realised that stomping around the room and muttering things could probably be called noisy. He wanted to be mad at Yancy for pointing it out but it wasn’t his fault Leela was being a jerk. Fry settled back into the couch to watch the television, beerless, almost friendless and bored. And then he fell asleep, and stayed asleep until Yancy shook him awake again, pointing at his watch and complaining about the time, and how they had to go and pick up Neena before it was too late, and how Fry was always such a lazy slob. Fry didn’t want to see Leela right then. It would be painful. Unfortunately Yancy had managed to get him into a spare suit before he was really awake and, after all that effort, it seemed a waste to fall asleep on the couch again.

So he followed, wondering if he’d regret it, and trying to keep his mind on the moment he’d get back home, or on the end of his opera, or... anything other than the present. Because the present hurt.
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #279 on: 07-13-2008 19:07 »

Yay!  Evila's back and she killed Neena's parents.  I'm going to assume that Neena doesn't know her heratige at this point, but Leela does.

Evila is so unappologetically evil that she's in a class all her own.

So we see Fry, Yancy, Neena, Evila and the mean Ruskie, but no Purple Pumpkin, Miss-Painfully -Single Leela to be seen.

I like the way that Fry is realizing that Leela takes a lot of her frustrations out on him.  It looks like a lot of bad feelings are going to surface over the next few episodes.

God Bless Ya, Arch.  You've given me something to live for - the next chapter.
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