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Author Topic: Soon to be rendered obsolete - Futurama: The Fifth Season  (Read 4147 times)
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PCC Fred

Space Pope
« on: 01-09-2006 18:36 »
« Last Edit on: 03-01-2006 00:00 »

NOTE: Since TLZ's fanfic section is down at the moment, I've decided to re-post the first three installments on PEEL.  You'll find Parts 1,2 and 3 near the bottom of this page.

Okay, I'm putting my money where my mouth is.  For those who haven't read the first three parts, they can be found here.

And now here's the first few pages of Part 4.  It's still only a draft version, and comments and constructive criticism are welcome.

Episode Four - "Pieces of Amy"

*     *     *

Lucy Moon whistled happily as she walked the last quarter mile of her journey to work.  To date she'd only been working at Planet Express for three weeks, but so far it was a huge improvement over the lowly supplies job she'd had at the hospital.  Last week she'd joined the crew for her first trip into space since she'd been unfrozen, delivering heat lamps to Titan.  She still remembered the feeling of wonder she'd had when the ship's orbit took it around the side of Saturn facing away from the Sun, and she'd seen the planet in crescent, casting a shadow over its rings.

Then there were her co-workers.  At the hospital they'd mostly been cocky doctors and hassled nurses, none of whom gave Lucy the time of day.  Her Planet Express co-workers were a much livelier bunch.  Amy had made her feel welcome from the moment she started working there, while Bender was a great guy to hang out and watch TV with.  Angie seemed a little uptight at times, but Lucy figured it was because as ship captain she was in a greater position of responsibility, especially in light of the recent upsurge in raider activity.  And then there was Philip.  Lucy couldn't believe how much he'd changed from the sixteen-year old nerd who spent most of his free time down the arcade.  Granted, he still had his flaws, he was still lazy, TV obsessed, and prone to bouts of extreme idiocy.  But at the same time he'd always been very sweet and likeable, and now he also seemed a lot more confident and sure of himself than he used to be.  It was just a shame that he was so taken with that Leela woman, otherwise Lucy might've asked him out herself.  Oh well...

When Lucy arrived at the Planet Express building she saw that the sliding door was stuck open.  Entering the lobby, she watched as a man she hadn't seen before set up a stepladder next to the door, then climbed up and began poking at the door mechanism with a screwdriver.  He had a thick moustache, and wore a dark blue boiler suit and a brown cap.

"Hi," said Lucy.  "I'm Lucy Moon... You work here?"

"Uh-huh," replied the man, his attention still fixed on the door.  "Scruffy.  The janitor."  Scruffy tapped the glass of the jammed door.  "Door's broke."

Lucy watched Scruffy continue to struggle with the mechanism.  "Maybe there's a penny stuck in there," she suggested helpfully.

Scruffy turned his head to look at her, a frown on his face.  "Why a penny?"

Lucy shrugged.  "I don't know."

Scruffy's frown deepened.  "You stick a penny in there?" he said accusingly, indicating the mechanism with his screwdriver.

Lucy began to worry.  Why did this guy think she'd deliberately jammed the door?  "I'm just making small talk!" she said defensively.

Scruffy pointed the screwdriver directly at Lucy.  "Scruffy finds a penny in there, he's taking you down."  With that, Scruffy turned back to the door and started working on the mechanism again.  Lucy crept away to the safety of the elevator.  Okay, so maybe ALL her co-workers weren't that great...

*     *     *

Lucy entered the conference room to find Fry, Bender, Amy and Angela sitting round the table, waiting for the morning staff meeting to begin.  Bender and Fry were arguing over the results of the weekend's football games.  Actually 'arguing' wasn't quite the word.  Bender had placed Fry in a headlock and the delivery boy's face was turning purple.  "Admit it Fry, the Packers suck!  Brett Favre XVI is the worst quarterback since Brett Favre XV!"

Angela was asleep, her head and arms resting on the table, while Amy watched her, a concerned look on her face.  Lucy sat down next to Amy.  "Is she okay?" she asked.

"I don't know.  She hasn't been getting a lot of sleep recently.  Says she's having nightmares and stuff, and waking up in the middle of the night."

"Has she told you what these nightmares are about?"

Amy shook her head.  "We tried asking her a couple of weeks ago, but she refused to tell us."

"It sounds like something personal she doesn't want to discuss with her friends.  But maybe I should ask her about it later on.  I mean, I know a couple of therapists she could talk to.  At the very least I might be able to give her something to help her sleep."

Lucy and Amy continued to watch as Angela's slumber became increasingly fitful, and she started muttering in her sleep.  Suddenly she woke up with a startled cry, causing the other four to jump, and Bender to release his hold on Fry.  Briefly disoriented, Angela looked around for a couple of moments before remembering where she was.

Amy placed a hand on Angela's shoulder.  "Angie, you okay?"

"Y-yeah," stammered Angela, her heart still racing.

"Was it another nightmare?" Amy added.  Angela nodded her head in reply, just as the Professor and Hermes walked in.  In his hands Hermes held an extremely large jewellery box.

"Good news, everyone!" announced Farnsworth.  "You'll be making a delivery to the planet Securisphere, the most well-protected planet in the known universe!"  Farnsworth pressed a few buttons on the console set into the table.  The lights dimmed, and above the middle of the table appeared a transparent hologram of a large silver ball.  At the centre of the ball was a smaller sphere that shone a bright yellow.

"As you can see," began Farnsworth, "the Securisphere is, in fact not a planet, but rather a gigantic Dyson Sphere."

"Hey!" yelled Lucy indignantly, "Tyson fears no-one!"  Seeing the puzzled looks on her co-workers faces, Lucy sunk down in her chair and grinned sheepishly.

Farnsworth looked annoyed at having being interrupted.  "I said DYSON SPHERE, moron!"

"Oh."  Lucy giggled nervously.  "I guess that'll teach me to wash my ears out."

Angela tried to get the conversation back on track.  "Professor, what IS a Dyson Sphere?"

"I'm glad you asked that.  A Dyson Sphere is-"

Fry cut across the Professor.  "A Dyson Sphere is a massive metal sphere built around a star.  The inside surface of the sphere can be used to live on, with the star itself providing an unending source of light, heat and power."  For a few moments everyone sat in silence and stared at Fry in disbelief.

Hermes was the first one to find his voice.  "How in de name of Ja do you know dat?"

"It was on that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  You know, the one where that ship's crashed on the outside of a Dyson Sphere and they find Scotty inside a transporter beam."  Fry sat back smugly.  "Now that's edutainment!"

Lucy pondered Fry's explanation.  "So what, this Dyson Sphere's like the Death Star, or something?"

Fry held his hands up.  "No, they're totally different!"

Amy cut in.  "Is it anything like the Near-Death Star?"

"No!  The Death Star and the Near-Death Star are both the size of a small moon, but-"

"Ahem!"  Farnsworth cleared his throat and glared at Fry, displeased to have his thunder stolen.  "As I was saying, this particular sphere was built to provide a secure environment for the galaxy's most priceless treasures."  Farsnworth's tone lightened as he began to describe the wonders inside the Sphere.  "Van Gogh's paintings, the Crown Jewels of Betelgeuse VII, the Xyphon Pearls, the complete DVD collection of Home Improvement, all of these are safely stored inside the Secruisphere.  The hull of the Sphere consists almost entirely of Tri-Dolomite, the toughest substance known to exist.  Nothing - lasers, phasers, even Fry's early morning breath - can cut through it."

Farnsworth pressed another button, and the hologram focused in on one particular section of the sphere, where a small opening had begun to appear.  "The only way in or out of the Sphere is through this hatch.  Only ships that have registered their I. D. with the Sphere's controllers, along with the purpose of their mission, will be granted access inside.  Once you enter, the hatch is closed.  You conduct your business inside the Sphere, then you have to be granted clearance before you can leave again."

Farnsworth pressed a final button, the hologram vanished, and the lights returned to normal.  "And that, everyone, is what a Dyson Sphere is.  Thank you for your time."  The Professor stood up and began to leave the room, leaving the others looking at each other, confused.

"Professor," called Angela.  "What about the mission?"

Farnsworth stopped in his tracks.  "The wha?"

"The mission!  To the Sphere?"

"Oh yes, the mission!"  Farnsworth returned to the table and sat down again.  He took the jewellery box off Hermes and opened it for everyone to see.  Inside was a large green gem that sparkled in the light, drawing 'ooh's and 'aah's from the assembled crew.  "This is what you'll be delivering to the Securisphere.  The priceless Quantum Gemerald!"

"It's beautiful!" remarked Amy.

Angela was mystified.  "Hold on a minute, wasn't the Quantum Gemerald stolen from the Museum of Natural History last year by those superheroes turned evil?"  Fry blushed and tried to look nonchalant.  Bender just sat there, silently recalling the memory of his biggest ever heist.

"Oh my, yes," replied Farnsworth.  "However somebody anonymously sent the police a tip-off that the New Justice Team had handed the Gemerald to the Zookeeper, along with a map showing the location of his secret hideout.  After the military carpet bombed his hideout for ten days, he surrendered and they were able to recover the Gemerald."  Fry wondered who'd tipped off the police.  He'd thought about doing it, but had been distracted by the All My Circuits marathon on TV.  And there was no way Bender would've done it.  Must've been Leela.  Good for her!

"After the Gemerald was returned," continued Farnsworth, "it was decided that it was too risky to keep it in the Museum.  So they've arranged for it to be stored in the Securisphere, and you're to deliver it today."

"What about raiders?" asked Angela.  "We've come under attack from them three times in the last month."

Farnsworth smiled.  "Not to worry.  I've made plans for just such an eventuality."  He began tapping buttons on the console.  Again the lights dimmed, and another hologram appeared.  This one was of the Planet Express ship.  Attached to the top of the ship was a large black gun, similar in appearance to a large laser cannon, but with several scanning devices and electronic boxes added on.

Farnsworth indicated the cannon.  "After the last attack I began designing an anti-raider weapon.  It's tied in to the ship's sensors, you see.  When the sensors detect a raider vessel approaching, it immediately activates the weapon, which targets the vessel, then fires a short, high yield laser pulse."  A triangular raider ship appeared in the holographic field.  Within a second the cannon had directed itself at the raider.  A short burst of light emanated from the cannon, and the raider ship blinked and disappeared from the image, drawing murmurs of approval from the crew.

"That's great if there's just one or two ships," said Fry.  "But a couple of weeks ago we ran into a whole fleet!"

"That's no problem.  Since the cannon is tied into the sensors, it reacts instantaneously to any raider ship.  And the recharge on the cannon is less than two seconds.  Observe."  Around fifteen raider ships now appeared in the hologram.  The cannon moved quickly, systematically picking off raider ships, one every couple of seconds.  "As you can see, the cannon is able to defeat large numbers of raider ships.  I estimate that you could face as many as twenty-five ships at once and still come away unscathed!"

"That's brilliant, Professor," said Angela, now smiling.  "I just hope we don't have to put that to the test."

"Don't worry.  Nothing can go wrong!"  Farnsworth closed the box and handed it to Angela, along with a small plastic card.

Angela examined the card.  Printed on it was the company name and address, along with an itinerary of the mission.  "Do we need this to get clearance to enter the Sphere?" she asked.

"Oh my, no!  That's all been taken care of by the museum.  No, THIS is to get you through Wiseman's new security checkpoint for cargo vessels!  The bill was passed two days ago."

"Oh."  Angela sighed as she examined the card.  Since being swept into office on a wave of global paranoia two weeks ago, Wiseman had made sweeping changes, all in the name of 'global security'.  Within days of his inauguration Wiseman had withdrawn Earth from the DOOP, and placed Earth's military space fleet - previously under DOOP command - under his direct control.  In addition, he was using the money previously earmarked for DOOP contributions to tighten security at Earth's spaceports to frightening amounts.  This had the effect of dramatically cutting alien immigration, but it had also had the side effect of damaging Earth's tourist industry, as alien tourists were dissuaded from visiting by the increased and intimidating security.  So far Wiseman hadn't acted on his threat to detain aliens who'd served in Earth's military.  However Angela silently believed it was just a matter of time, although she hadn't wanted to say anything for fear of upsetting Amy.

Satisfied that everything had been dealt with, Farnsworth stood up.  "There you go then.  Lift-off is in half an hour."  Farnsworth left the table, followed by Hermes and the crew.  As Lucy left the conference room a movement caught the corner of her eye.  She turned her head to see Scruffy, holding a penny in his right hand, and glowering darkly at her.  Lucy gulped, and trotted off quickly in the direction of her office.

*     *     *
Nasty Pasty

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #1 on: 01-09-2006 20:00 »

Wow, very nicely done Fred. Very nice.

Great to have you back.  :)
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #2 on: 01-09-2006 23:55 »

Great Fred.  Good to see some fics continuing while Leandro works out the scripting problems.

So we're going two installments without a visit to or from Leela?

I'm having Leela withdrawl!   :hmpf:

Bending Unit
« Reply #3 on: 01-10-2006 12:02 »

Wow, that's good!
But I agree with Ralph - more Leela!  :p

Space Pope
« Reply #4 on: 01-10-2006 12:44 »

I loved the bit with Scruffy. It's really coming around.

But if I don't see any Leela action I'm afraid I'm going to have to pull out my riot-in-a-box.
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #5 on: 01-11-2006 10:37 »

Originally posted by Ralph Snart:
So we're going two installments without a visit to or from Leela?

Technically it's one and one-sixth installments.  "Pieces of Amy" has a looong way to go yet.  And you never know, a certain one-eyed mutant might put in an appearance (and I'm not talking about Xander!)  ;)
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #6 on: 01-13-2006 06:40 »
« Last Edit on: 01-13-2006 06:40 »

Next segment...

*     *     *

Fry waited until everyone else had left the room, then went over to the videophone and picked up the receiver.  He had arranged to go over to Leela's house during his lunch break, but now he wouldn't be able to thanks to this latest mission.  Fry muttered to himself as he punched in Leela's number.  He was becoming annoyed by the number of times he'd arrange to meet Leela, only to have it fall through because the Professor decided to spring a surprise mission on the crew.  Today was especially aggravating as Fry had a surprise for Leela, and he'd hoped to tell her in person.

After dialling the number, Fry watched as the Sewercom logo flashed up on the screen.  A few seconds later it was replaced by the image of Leela, sitting in her parents' living room.  Fry opened his mouth to speak, but stopped when he saw Leela was attaching a cable from the videophone to her speech/text translator.  The translator had trouble picking up sounds from the receiver, so it was easier to plug it directly into the videophone system.  Once she'd finished, Leela gave him the thumbs up and looked up at the screen.  "Hi.  Couldn't wait till lunch break, huh?"

Fry nervously rubbed the back of his neck.  "Er, yeah.  About that.  Look, the Professor's sending us on this mission that's gonna take up most of the day.  I-I won't be able to meet you for lunch.  Sorry."

The disappointed look on Leela's face made Fry's heart sink.  "You're kidding.  Again?  That's the third time this week!"

"I know!  I'm really sorry I can't make it.  But I can make it up to you!"

"You can?  ...How?" asked Leela suspiciously.

"I was gonna tell you this over lunch, but I guess now is as good a time as any.  After paying Amy's fine I still had some money left over from my lottery win.  I've got a reservation at Elzar's for tonight, and I was hoping you'd join me for dinner.  You know, just the two of us."  Fry put on his best puppy-dog expression.  "So will you come?  Please?"

A look of uncertainty crossed Leela's face.  "I dunno," she said hesitantly.  "Thanks for the invite, but I don't know if I'm ready to come back up to the surface yet."

Fry groaned.  "Come on Leela, you've got to return sometime, it might as well be tonight!  You've got the translator now, so you won't have any problems talking with people.  And I'll be there to keep you company."

Leela thought about what Fry had said.  She DID want to go with him, but for some reason the thought of returning to the surface just freaked her out.  In some ways it still felt to her like there was nothing left for her up there, now that whatsername - Alesia?  ANGELA! - had her job, and the lease on her apartment had run out.  On the other hand both Fry and her parents had spent weeks trying to persuade her to return, even if it was just to visit everyone at Planet Express.  And she knew how disappointed Fry would be if she turned her down.

"Okay," she said eventually, "I'll go with you."

Fry smiled.  "That's great!  I'll pick you up around seven."

"I can't wait."  Leela returned Fry's smile.  "So what's the mission?"

"The Professor wants us to deliver that Quantum Gemerald thingy to some place called the Securisphere."

Leela looked mystified.  "The Quantum Gemerald?  I thought the Zookeeper still had it."

"Nope.  The police got your tip off, arrested him, and got the Gemerald back."

Now Leela was really puzzled.  "MY tip off?  Fry, I didn't give them any tip off.  For one thing we never actually found out where his hideout was.  And I'd be too scared of what the Zookeeper might do to my parents.  As far as I was concerned our involvement ended when we handed him the Gemerald."

A voice behind Fry piped up.  "You handed him the WHAT?"  Fry jumped, then spun round to see Angela standing over by the door.  "How long have you been standing there?" he enquired defensively.

"I just came back to get my jacket.  But long enough to hear what you just said."  Angela walked over to the videophone and sat down next to Fry.  "How could you two have given the Zookeeper the Gemerald?" she asked, puzzled.  "The New Justice Team stole it in front of everyone in broad daylight!"

Angela looked at Fry, then at Leela, neither of whom were forthcoming with any answers.  Then she remembered that Clobberella was a cyclops, and the pieces fell into place.  "Wait a minute... Were you guys the New Justice Team?"

"That's right!" said Fry proudly.  He sat back and waited for Angela to tell them how impressed she was.

"I can't believe the two of you!  You pass yourselves off as superheroes, then steal a priceless gem and hand it over to one of the world's most notorious villains!  Don't you realise that you guys were role models to kids everywhere?"

Leela's eye narrowed.  "Let me guess.  You must be Angela," she said icily.

"I am, but that's not the issue.  Why did you steal the Gemerald in the first place?"

Leela gritted her teeth, and resisted the urge to tell Angela where she could stick the Gemerald.  "The Zookeeper abducted my parents!  If I didn't steal the Gemerald he was going to feed them to his mutant piranhas!"

"How on Earth did he know they were YOUR parents?  I thought superheroes were supposed to keep their identities secret."  Angela saw Leela flinch at her last comment, while the other side of the room suddenly fascinated Fry.  "You DID keep your identity secret, didn't you?"

Leela cursed under her breath.  Somehow she'd managed to talk herself into a corner.  "Never you mind!" she said, a bit too abruptly for her own liking.  "Anyway, it doesn't matter.  The Museum got the Gemerald back, the Zookeeper's in prison, everybody's happy.  Now why don't you get back to whatever you're supposed to be doing, and let Fry and me finish our conversation."

"With pleasure," said Angela huffily.  She left the room shaking her head, leaving Fry and Leela alone again.

"Wow, what a self-righteous bitch!" snapped Leela after Angela left the room.

Fry tried to cool things down.  "Actually she's really quite nice... at least when she's not being preachy."

"Yeah.  And I'm sure that steel rod up her ass is just to help her posture."  Fry and Leela both burst into laughter at the joke.  As he laughed, Fry wondered what Leela would say if she knew Amy had made virtually the same joke about her a couple of years ago.

"There's one thing I don't understand," commented Leela after the laughter subsided.  "If neither of us tipped off the police, and Bender didn't, then who did?"

Fry thought about it.  "Was it your parents?  They're the only other ones who knew what was going on.  Maybe the Zookeeper held them prisoner in his hideout before meeting up with us."

Leela shrugged.  "Maybe.  I guess it must've been them."

Just then Bender's voice crackled over the intercom.  "Hey Fry, get your ass down to the ship!  Angie wants us to start the pre-launch checks, and she's really on my case!"

Fry sighed.  "Duty calls.  I guess I've gotta go."

Leela smiled.  "Okay.  See you at seven."

"See you."  Fry put down the receiver, and the screen turned blank.  As soon as it did, he leapt off the seat and pumped the air with his fist.  "Yes!  She's going out with me!"  After doing a victory lap of the conference room, Fry stopped to catch his breath for a couple of minutes, then headed for the hangar bay.

*     *     *

Two hours later, the Planet Express ship had lifted off and was on course for the Securisphere.  At his seat in the control room, Fry was busy working out how long they'd be in space.  "Okay.  We lifted off at quarter to ten, it'll take three and a half hours to get there, and three and a half back, and the delivery itself will take about an hour getting in and out of the Sphere.  That means we'll be back on Earth by-" Fry did a quick mental calculation.  "-Quarter to nineteen!  Oh God, I'll be nearly twelve hours late!"

Behind him, Cubert laughed obnoxiously.  "Moron.  First of all, there's no such thing as 'quarter to nineteen'.  It's quarter to seven in the evening.  Secondly, you're out by an hour.  We'll actually be back by a quarter to SIX.  Idiot!"

Bender groaned.  "Who keeps inviting this brat along, anyway?"

Fry sighed with relief.  "Who cares?  I'll be back in plenty of time for my date!"

"As long as nothing goes wrong," murmured Amy.

Fry snorted.  "Jeez Amy, stop being so pese... pesa... stop being so gloomy!  The museum's arranged everything with the Securisphere, we've got a security pass to get back to Earth, and we've got the Professor's new laser thingy to deal with raiders!  What could possibly go wrong?"

"How about that?" said Bender, pointing at the cockpit window.  Everyone turned to follow his finger.  Outside they could see around a dozen vessels converging on their position.

Angela turned to Fry.  "Are those what I think they are?"

Fry looked at his sensor readout.  "Crap!  It's raiders!  Thirteen of them!"

Cubert rolled his eyes.  "Wow, who didn't see THAT coming?"

Angela flipped a few switches on her control panel.  "Okay, let's see if the Professor's weapon works.  Bender, input the activation sequence!"

Bender typed a lengthy series of numbers into his console.  A green light came on to indicate that the code had been validated.  "Activation sequence inputted!"

"Amy, transfer engine power to the weapon!"

Amy hit a few buttons on her console, and everyone felt the ship slow down as power to the engines diminished.  "Power transferred!"

"Activate laser!"  Angela looked around the control room.  No one was doing anything.  "I said activate laser!"

Lucy leaned over Angela's chair and pointed at the control console.  Angela followed Lucy's finger and saw a big red button marked ACTIVATE LASER.  Angela blushed.  "Just testing."  Angela pressed the button.  There was a sound like a huge generator starting up, and the lights in the control room flickered and dimmed.  Outside, the massive laser began to move.

Fry continued to study his readout.  "The laser's targeting the nearest vessel.  It-" He was cut off when a blinding light from outside filled the control room.  When it faded, the raider ship had disappeared from the readout.  "Target destroyed!  Laser targeting the next-" Again a blinding flash cut him off, again the raider ship in question vanished off the sensors.

Amy was astonished.  "Wow, it's actually working!  And we didn't need to fine tune it, or hit it with a wrench, or anything!"  For the next few minutes the crew continued to watch as one by one, the raider ships were all wiped out.  After destroying the final one, the laser returned to its original position, cut its motors, and the lights in the control room returned to normal.

"All raider ships destroyed!" announced Fry happily.  "And we didn't even take one hit!"  Amy, Bender and Lucy cheered the news.

"That's great," said Angela as she resumed course for the Securisphere.  "And we've hardly lost any time.  If we-" She was cut off by a sudden urgent beeping from Fry's console.  "What's going on?" she asked.

Fry looked at the readout again.  "There's another ship approaching, at high speed."

"Is it another raider?"

"I don't think so.  It's the wrong shape."

Angela slowed the ship to a crawl.  "We'll wait for it to get closer."  The crew watched as the ship closed in on them.  At first it was only a speck in the window, but as it moved closer they could make out more and more details.  Soon it became all too clear what the ship was.  Its shape was similar to that of an old Earth galleon, complete with sails and everything.  The only major differences were the protective bubble over the upper deck, and the bristling lasers positioned all along the hull.

Angela became tense.  "Uh oh, It's space pirates!  Let's get out of here!"  She increased power to the engines, and the Planet Express ship shot into the distance, pursued by the pirate vessel. Angela looked over at Fry.  "How far away is it?"

"About five hundred metres, but it's still closing.  We need to go faster!"

"We're already at full speed!  How long before they're within weapons range?"  Angela's question was answered as a couple of blasts rocked the ship.

"Why don't we use the Professor's laser?" asked Amy.

"The power drain's too big!  If we use it again we might stall the engines!"

"It won't make any difference!  They're catching up with us anyway!"

Angela nodded.  "You're right.  Bender, input activation sequence."  Fry, Cubert and Lucy watched as the other three went through the laser operation procedure again.  This time the ship ground to a halt when Amy transferred power to the weapon.  Angela spun the ship around to face the pirate ship, now large in the window.  "Firing laser!" she yelled, and pressed the button.  Nothing happened.  Angela pressed it several more times.  Still no success.

"Erm, Angie..." Angela looked up at Fry, who was pointing at a message on his sensor screen: COMMAND INVALID.  TARGET IS NOT A RAIDER SHIP.

"Damn that Farnsworth!" yelled Angela.  "Amy, get us moving again!"  Amy began to transfer power back to the engines, but before she could finish her task, laser fire from the pirates tore into the ship.  It rocked violently, and Amy was sent hurtling towards Bender's seat.  She cracked her head on the console, and slumped to the ground, unconscious.  The crew sat stunned for a moment, before Lucy came to her senses and kneeled down to examine Amy's injury.

Angela forced her gaze away from the injured engineer, and looked over at Bender.  "Can we use regular lasers?" she asked.

Bender studied his console readout.  "Nope.  That idiot Professor took them all offline when he installed his piece of junk."

Suddenly everything went quiet.  "Hey, the lasers have stopped!" yelled Fry.  "Does that mean they've given up?"

Angela watched as the galleon moved alongside their ship.  "I don't think so.  It looks like they're preparing to board us!  Bender, break out the blaster pistols!"  Bender stood up, opened an overhead locker, and pulled out four holsters.  He passed three around to Fry, Angela and Lucy, then tied the final one round his 'waist'.  Lucy and Fry carried Amy away from the door, while Angela ushered Cubert behind her.

For several minutes the crew waited in silence, before a loud metallic clang reverberated through the ship, indicating that the pirate ship had docked.  Another minute passed, before the control room door slid open, and three pirates entered.  One was well built and wore a red bandanna round his head; another had an eye-patch and a goatee beard.  The third was distinctly taller than the others, wore a lot of expensive jewellery on his fingers and around his neck, and had an air of authority about him.  Obviously the captain, thought Angela.  All three were armed with old style cutlasses and modern blaster pistols.

The leader took two steps forward from his compatriots, and began flicking his cutlass around in a complex and bewildering series of parries and thrusts.  Angela looked at Fry and Lucy, and could see from their faces that his party tricks had them mesmerised.  Angela wasn't about to be intimidated.  Coolly she drew her blaster, aimed it at the pirate, and pulled the trigger.

A pathetic stream of water shot out of the barrel, landing in a small puddle on the floor, a good six feet short of its intended target.  For a moment everyone stared at the puddle in silence.  Then the pirate leader came to his senses, drew his own blaster, and pointed it at Angela's head.  "Drop your weapons.  All of you!"  Her hand shaking, Angela let go of her 'blaster', while the others untied their holsters and dropped them at the feet of the pirate.  Cubert examined the blaster Angela had dropped.  "So that's where my water pistol got to!" he exclaimed.

*     *     *
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #7 on: 01-13-2006 07:58 »

(From "I Second That Emotion" )

Bender: "I'm feeling nosey and opinionated."

Everybody:  "That's Leela!"

Fantastic, you have a mirror-image of Leela's personality; somebody for Leela to intensely dislike.  It'll be kinda funny to see how Leela and Angela get along (or not) if your story allows them to meet face-to-face...

Good installment.  Now my Leela craving is satisfied - for now.   :cool:
Nasty Pasty

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #8 on: 01-13-2006 10:54 »

Very nice section Fred.  :)

Bending Unit
« Reply #9 on: 01-13-2006 11:43 »

Wow, that was cool!
"Alesia" - heheheh  :)
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #10 on: 01-16-2006 06:20 »

Thanks for the comments, guys.  Here's the third slice.  :)

*     *     *

Down in the sewers, Nibbler lay curled up on Leela's bed, watching with quiet satisfaction as the young cyclops rummaged through her wardrobe, looking for the perfect dress to wear for her date.  It had taken several years, but things finally seemed to be going right between the Mighty One and Leela.  Of course, there'd been various obstacles along the way, such as the various romances the two of them had had with other people.  Fry's various brief encounters hadn't concerned Nibbler too much, with the exception of that time he'd been forced to sabotage Fry and Michelle's attempt to freeze themselves until the year Four Thousand.

Leela on the other hand, was a different story.  She hadn't been in as many relationships as Fry during the past five years, but when she was in one, she went into it heart and soul, fully committed.  She and Adlai had gone so far as to consider adopting a child, while she'd even been willing to marry the abusive Alcazar when she thought the survival of her race depended on it.  On those occasions Nibbler had wondered whether Leela really was the 'Other' spoken of in the Third Prophecy.  But over the past year she'd warmed to Fry considerably, especially since she'd woken up from her coma.

Other romances besides, there'd been other complications, several of which had occurred since Leela found her true parents.  The incident with the Zookeeper was one such example, and that was all down to Leela revealing her superhero identity to her parents because she didn't want them to think she was ashamed of them.  If the police had somehow discovered Leela and Fry were involved in stealing the Gemerald (and knowing Leela's father's tendency to gossip it wasn't out of the question), both would've been imprisoned, and there would've been little Nibbler could've done about it.  So instead he sent the police the tip off and the map, hoping that once they had the Zookeeper and the Gemerald, catching the New Justice Team wouldn't be a priority anymore.

Then most recently Leela lost her hearing, and her captaincy.  This created no end of problems.  Leela was becoming depressed and out of touch with what was happening on the surface, and her relationship with Fry was suffering badly due to a combination of his inability to learn sign language and Leela's impatience with him.  There was also the problem of Leela's absence leaving Fry unprotected during Planet Express's often hazardous missions.  Fortunately the replacement captain - what was her name?  Aurora?  ANGELA! - had a good head on her shoulders, and was doing an adequate job keeping Fry from harm.  And since Fry got Leela the speech/text translator their relationship had improved again, which in turn had lifted Leela's flagging spirits.

"So what do you think, Nibbler?  The black one or the pink one?"  Nibbler looked up.  Leela stood next to the bed, holding two dresses in front of her.  One was the long black formal dress she'd worn to Fry's opera, the other the short pink dress she'd worn when she and Fry had kissed following her break up with Chaz.  Nibbler gibbered and grunted unintelligibly.  The pink one!

"I think we'll wear pink tonight," remarked Leela.  She laid the black dress down carefully on the bed, then took the hangar off the pink dress.  "If Fry wants an eyeful of cleavage, he's gonna have to work for it."

*     *     *

The Planet Express ship hung dead in space, the pirate ship still docked, while the pirates used a couple of one man pods to tow the laser cannon from one ship to the other.  The pirates had searched the ship from end to end, but besides the cannon and the Gemerald had found little of value.  In the control room the captain and the bandanna-wearing pirate were still holding the crew prisoner.  The latter approached Lucy, who was looking after the still dazed Amy.  When she saw the pirate approach she tried to back away, but found her way blocked by a console.  The pirate drew his cutlass, and sliced it through the air a couple times, dangerously close to Lucy.  The top two buttons of her blouse popped open, exposing her bra and an ample portion of cleavage.

Despite the situation, Fry couldn't help but be impressed.  "Wow!  How did you do that?  OW!" he yelled, as Angela kicked him in the shin.

"It's all in the wrist," said the pirate.  "Watch."  He flicked his cutlass a few more times, and the remaining buttons popped off Lucy's blouse.  The pirate swung his cutlass one more time, and the front of Lucy's bra burst open, leaving nothing to the imagination.  Lucy squealed and held one arm across her breasts, glaring at both the pirate and Fry.

The pirate with the goatee entered the control room and went up to the captain.  "The anti-raider cannon's on board, Captain Vans.  We're installing it right now.  And the Gemerald's safely stashed away in the hold."

"Good work, Seth."  Vans surveyed the control room.  His eyes came to rest on Bender.  "You might be worth something on the black market.  People are always looking for extra servants."

Bender crossed his arms and stared back at Vans.  "Bite my shiny metal ass!  Anyone who tries taking me gets their arms and legs removed.  I did Ultimate Robot Fighting, you know!"

"Violence won't be necessary, I assure you."  Vans reached into his pocket and pulled out a remote immobiliser.  He pressed a button on it and Bender suddenly seized up, the lights in his eyes and mouth fading.  Vans signalled to the bandanna-wearing pirate.  "Douglas, take the robot to our ship and put him in the hold."

Angela took a step towards Vans.  "Hey!  You can't just abduct my-" She cut herself off as Vans pointed his cutlass directly at her throat.  "Douglas," he instructed calmly, "the robot."

"Aye, captain."  Douglas walked over to the prone Bender, and picked him up effortlessly, drawing gasps of astonishment from the Planet Express crew.  Douglas tucked Bender under one arm and indicated Lucy with the other.  "All right if I take the wench as well?"

Vans nodded.  "Go ahead.  I've seen the looks the crew has been giving each other recently.  You could all do with some female company."  Douglas grabbed Lucy, and ignoring her protests tucked her under his other arm, before leaving the control room.

Seth walked over to Amy.  "I think I'll take you along while we're at it.  You look like you know how to have a good time."  He moved to grab Amy's arms, but each time she slapped his hands away.  Losing patience, Seth swung his arm in a vicious backhanded slap that caught Amy square across the face.  Her head spinning, there was little Amy could do as he slung her over his shoulders and marched out of the control room.

Vans turned to Angela.  "It seems our business here is concluded.  I suggest you don't try to follow us.  Our sensors have a much longer range than yours, and without the anti-raider cannon you're no match for us."

"You won't get away with this!" yelled Angela as Vans turned to leave the room.  "The space police won't stop looking until they find the Gemerald!"  Vans waved a dismissive hand as he stepped through the door.  Angela's voice began to quaver.  "Doesn't anyone want to abduct ME?"

Vans paused for a moment, and laughed.  "Are you kidding?  Have you seen yourself in a mirror lately?"  Without another word Vans left the room.  The door shut behind him, leaving Angela shaking with fury.  About half a minute later, the ship rattled as the pirate vessel disconnected, and Angela watched through the cockpit window as it flew off into the distance.

Fry's head popped up from a box he'd been rummaging through.  "Hey, a sword!  We've finally got a weapon!"  He looked round and saw that only Angela and Cubert were there.  "Where'd everybody go?"

Angela furiously grabbed Fry, and pulled him so close to her their noses were practically touching.  "You know where you can stick that sword, Fry.  Here's a hint - it's the same place they stuck my steel rod!"  Angela stormed out of the control room, while a speechless Fry watched her exit.

Cubert had watched the whole incident, slack-jawed.  "Wow.  You really pissed her off this time."  Cubert took a step back, half expecting Fry to lunge for him.

Instead, Fry continued to stare at the door.  "You're right," he said softly.  "I'd better go and apologise.  You try and fix the engines, I know you know how."  Fry left the room, and this time it was Cubert who was left speechless.

*     *     *

Angela was furiously pacing up and down the length of her quarters when there came a knock at her door.  "Go away!" she yelled angrily.  The person didn't go away. Instead the door slid open and Fry walked in.

Angela stared at him in disbelief.  "I said 'go away'!  How the hell did you manage to get in here without my permission, anyway?"

"The security lock doesn't work.  Bender deactivated it so I could look through Leela's underp- I mean, because it was a fire hazard."  Fry sat down on Angela's sofa.  "Look, I came to apologise."

Angela stopped pacing and glared at him, arms crossed.  "Do you even know what you're apologising for?"

"Yeah, that steel rod crack.  Although it wasn't me who said it, it was Leela.  In fact, I was actually trying to defend you!"  Fry's tone became harsher as he realised he hadn't done anything wrong.  "Wait a minute, I've got nothing to be sorry for!  None of that would have even happened if you hadn't been listening in on our conversation!  And in the control room just now, I was trying to find a weapon to fight the pirates, and all you did was jump down my throat!  Shouldn't you be apologising to me?"

Angela was silent for a moment, as she desperately tried to think of a way to shift the blame back to Fry.  "You-you were ogling Lucy's boobs!"

"So were half the people in the control room!"

Angela knew she was beaten.  She sat down next to Fry.  "You're right.  I'm sorry I went off at you like that.  It's just that I'm having a really crappy time at the moment, what with these nightmares and all."

"Yeah.  And with what Captain Vans said to you just now."

Angela's head dropped.  "And with what Vans said to me just now," she said in a low voice.

Fry moved closer to Angela and put his arm around her shoulders.  "Look, who cares what that guy thinks?  You shouldn't let it get to you."

"I can't help it," said Angela, a lump beginning to form in her throat.  She pulled back her hair so that Fry could see the full extent of the scars running down the right side of her face.  "I've had to live with this ever since I was a kid.  The Orphanarium was the worst.  I had six years of snot-nosed kids picking on me and calling me 'Scar Face'."  Bitterness began to tinge Angela's voice.  "Then there were all those times adoption agencies sent couples to the Orphanarium looking for kids to adopt.  I kept hoping against hope that one of them would take pity on me and take me away from that place.  But no, they all went for little Betty Blonde Bitch because 'she has such a pretty little face', while old Scar Face Angela gets pushed off to one side."

Fry silently listened; trying to think of something - anything - he could say to ease Angela's pain.  The irony was that Leela had told him similar stories about her experiences as a child.  In many ways Leela and Angela were much alike.  If they could put this morning's argument behind them they might actually end up being good friends.
Angela continued with her story.  "As soon as I was old enough I left the Oprhanarium.  I moved to New New York and I got that delivery girl job at Mom's.  Thirteen years I spent there, and in that time do you know how many times I was asked out on a date?"

"Two hundred and eleven?" asked Fry hopefully.  Like anything else, it's either really large or really small.

"None.  No I tell a lie.  One.  One of the girls set me up on a blind date with this guy.  Probably told him I had 'inner beauty' or some such crap.  Of course, when he actually sees me for the first time he realises that I'm lacking in the 'outer beauty' department, and that was the end of that."  Angela's voice tightened.  "And now I find out that I'm not even good enough for a bunch of sex-starved pirates.  It just makes... makes me so... so..." The end of Angela's sentence broke off as she began sobbing pitifully, her head in her hands.  For several minutes they sat there, the silence broken only by the sound of Angela crying.  Fry began to feel uncomfortable, but he stayed with her, his arm still round her shoulders.

"I'm sorry, Fry" gasped Angela, as the sobs began to subside.  "I'm not normally like this.  I guess that guy got to me more than I thought."

"It's all right, Angie.  Everyone goes through a rough patch sometimes.  Leela went through one after she lost her hearing.  And I went through one too.  It was called the Nineteen-nineties."

Angela looked up at Fry, her eyes red and her face tear-stained, but with her lips curving into a slight smile.  "Thanks, Fry."

The two of them sat in silence for several more minutes while Angela regained her composure.  Finally she stood up.  "Well, I guess we'd better figure out how to save the others and get the Gemerald back."

"How?  They must be light-years away by now!"

"Don't worry, I have a plan.  It's time to see if that brat Cubert can put his money where his mouth is.  Follow me!"

*     *     *
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #11 on: 01-16-2006 07:18 »
« Last Edit on: 01-16-2006 07:18 »

"If Fry wants an eyeful of cleavage, he's gonna have to work for it."

Good one.  However, we know that Fry is too scared of Leela's temper to even attempt to get a sight of any cleavage unless Leela lets him...

Good update.  Good parallels between Angela and Leela's lives.  Of course they are too much alike to ever get along.

I really like the part that Angie is still smarting over the 'steel rod' crack that Leela (of all people) made.

I give this installment the second highest grade possible - an A+ (the A++ will have to wait until Leela is Captain again).


added edit:  Man, is Leela going to be pissed that Fry is not going to pick her up for their 'date'.

Bending Unit
« Reply #12 on: 01-16-2006 11:50 »

Great update! This is really getting interesting. I liked Nibbler's PoV amd the whole part with Fry and Angela etc. was really well written. I hope the next part won't be too long! (As in time, that is. As far as length goes, the longer the better!)

Space Pope
« Reply #13 on: 01-16-2006 14:59 »

Angela was a real bitch when talking with Leela. However I did like it. Good job. I kept thinking that you were misspelling laser with blaster.

Urban Legend
« Reply #14 on: 01-17-2006 02:17 »

Yeah i don't like Angela. She's too bitchy and self righteous. Lucy seems ok though.

I'm disappointed that Leela seems to have been demoted from series star to bit player. It's like she's not even a main character anymore. And now Zoidberg's gone it's almost like everyone's being replaced one at a time.
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #15 on: 01-17-2006 07:35 »

Fred has foreshadowed that Angela is going to die at some point.  That's the great thing aobut fanfics, they can take any direction.

Maybe Fred has a plan where Leela comes saving the day later on.  This is only half way through part 4; he's done some good work on building up Angela's background to make her a sympathic character - she has gone through a lot of the same trials and tribuations as Leela.  Of course Angela and Leela will never get along - both are alpha-dominant type personalities.  Leela does have a few moderating factors:  She's just found her parents and wants to blend in with them, and she cares a lot about Fry (more than she cares to realize).  Angela does not have these factors so in a lot of ways, she doesn't have anything to live for, where Leela does.

I still would like to see a face-to-face meeting of One-eye and Scar-face. 

Bender:  "Taking all bets"  Leela the winner by round three." 
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #16 on: 01-18-2006 06:15 »

I have a plan.  But unless you want to build an IKEA bookcase it's not much use...  :(

Here's part four of... um, part four.

*     *     *

"Okay, guys.  I think I've figured out a way to sneak on board the pirate ship, get our crew and the Gemerald, and escape.  Now the pirate ship's got about fifteen minutes head start on us, and judging from their last known heading their destination appears to be the Mas Mosely spaceport, a well-known wretched hive of scum and villainy.  It's likely that they'll try to sell the Gemerald once they get there, so we'll have to make our move before they arrive.  Now the first problem is actually catching them up.  Cubert, did you manage to fix the engines?"

The three remaining crewmembers sat in the control room, Angela at the navigational console, Fry at his sensor grid, and Cubert at Amy's engineering console, smiling smugly.  "Engines fixed, Captain.  And now that dumb laser's been disconnected, we'll be able to provide more power to the engines, so the pirate ship won't be able to out run us again."

"Good.  Now we need to figure out a way to sneak up on the pirate ship without them detecting us."

Fry snapped his fingers.  "I know!  What we need is something to make ourselves invisible."

"Invisible?  But that's IMPOSSIBLE!" scoffed Cubert.  "Look around, you moron.  This is the real world, not some magic fairy story elf land!"

"You smug bastard!" yelled Fry, leaping up from his seat.  "I'll kill you!"  Fry lunged at Cubert, who fell off his seat with a squeal, cracking his head on the floor.

Angela quickly dashed over and checked Cubert's head.  "Fry!  That was totally irresponsible!  Luckily he doesn't seem too badly hurt."  Fry sat back in his seat, muttering under his breath.  Yeah, right.  How come when Amy injures Cubert it's funny and cool, but when I do it it's 'totally irresponsible'?

What does 'irresponsible' mean, anyway?

Cubert groaned and opened his eyes.  "He's coming around!" exclaimed Angela.  "Cubert, are you okay?"

Cubert suddenly sat up quickly, a triumphant smile on his face.  "Better than okay.  I've just figured out that we can use the ship's navigational deflector beam to make ourselves invisible and sneak up on the pirate ship!"

Angela scratched her head.  "But I thought the beam was only used for deflecting space dust and small objects out of our flight path at high speeds."

"Normally, yes.  But we can alter the frequency of the beam, so it also deflects light rays and sensor beams around the ship.  They won't be able to see us coming, and we won't appear on their sensors!"

"I've got to admit, it sounds impressive.  But can you actually do it?"

Cubert quickly tapped some buttons on the console, and sat back, the smug expression back on his face.  "It's done."

"Great!" Happier now, Angela sat back down at her console and fired up the engines.  "Now let's go and knock the Jolly out of their Roger."  She pushed the throttle to maximum, the engines burst into life, and the ship was finally on the move again.

On the other side of the control room, Fry was looking round, bewildered.  "Navi-what?"

*     *     *

Even with their new found speed advantage, it took the Planet Express ship nearly two hours to catch up with the pirates.  On the positive side, Cubert's modifications to the deflector beam seemed to be working, as they'd managed to creep up alongside the pirates without being noticed.  Fry had made a sensor scan of the interior of the galleon, and now the three of them were studying the schematic.

Angela pointed at one of the larger rooms on the ship.  "This is the ship's hold.  The Gemerald will be there, and probably so will Bender.  Fry, once we're on board I want you to go down to the hold, re-activate Bender, and find the Gemerald.  Then get back to the ship as quickly as possible."


Angela sighed.  "It means turn him on."  Fry and Cubert snickered at the unintentional double entendre.  "I mean SWITCH him on!  For crying out loud!"

Diverting their attention back to the schematic, Angela pointed at a series of small rooms on one of the upper decks.  "These are the crew quarters.  Amy and Lucy were most likely taken here.  I'll find them and bring them back to the ship."  Lord, let them be all right.

"What about the anti-raider cannon?" asked Fry.

"We'll have to leave it.  We don't have the manpower or resources to move it from one ship to the other."

Fry banged his fist against the palm of his other hand.  "To hell with manpower and resources!  Why don't we just use the winch-magnet thingy to yank it off their ship?"

Cubert snorted.  "You IDIOT!  Don't you realise that if you get it wrong, you'll tear a gaping hole in their hull and depressurise their ship?"

Fry and Angela stared at each for a long moment.

"So it's settled," said Angela finally.  "We use the winch-magnet to grab the cannon.  Cubert, you stay on board and protect the ship until we get back.  Fry, do we have any blasters left?"

Fry looked in the overhead locker.  "Just two."

"You and Cubert take them."  Angela picked up the sword Fry had discarded earlier.  "I'll use this."

Fry pouted.  "Aw!  Why can't I use the sword?"

"Because I took basic sword-fighting as part of my captaincy training and actually know how to use one.  Besides, I don't want you decapitating someone trying to cut their bra open."

"HEY!" yelled Fry indignantly.  "How'd you know that's what I wanted the sword for?"

*     *     *

In the control room of the pirate ship, Captain Vans paced up and down impatiently, while several pirates sat at various consoles.

"Fernandez!" snapped Vans.  "How long until we reach Mas Mosely?"

"One hour and thirty-five minutes," replied Fernandez, a reasonably well built man in his mid-twenties.  "Five minutes less than when you last asked."

Vans scowled, and turned to another pirate.  "Any sign of pursuit, Tanner?"

Tanner, a sixteen year-old kid who'd joined the crew after running away from home, glanced at his sensor readouts.  "Still nothing, Captain.  It's been over two hours.  I think it's safe to say that no-one's-" He was cut off when the ship shook slightly, knocking Vans off his feet, and a clanging sound went echoing throughout.

"What was that?" exclaimed Vans as he stood up again.

"I dunno," replied Fernandez.  "It sounded like something striking the ship."

Vans spun to face Tanner.  "I thought you said we weren't being pursued!"

Tanner continued to watch the readouts, a confused look on his face.  "We're not!  There's nothing showing up on the instruments!"

While Vans and his crew continued to puzzle over what had happened, on the Planet Express ship Angela rubbed her hands with satisfaction.  "Docking complete."

Fry pumped the air with his fist excitedly.  "Brilliant!  And they still can't detect us!"

"Don't celebrate too soon.  Deflector beam or no, they'll be able to detect us once we open the airlocks between the two ships.  We'll have to be quick."  Angela turned to Cubert.  "I'll signal you to open the airlocks once Fry and I are down there.  Wait until we're in the pirate ship, then close the doors again, and don't open them until we return.  And keep your blaster with you.  If any pirates manage to get on board, shoot first, ask questions later.  Got it?"

Cubert gulped, then nodded.  Angela picked up her sword, then headed out of the control room.  "Come on, Fry!"  With a last anxious glance at Cubert, Fry followed her out of the control room.  They hurried down a short corridor to the elevator, dropped down a level, and then another short corridor brought them to the airlock.

Angela pressed the intercom button by the airlock door.  "Cubert, we're in position.  Open the doors!"  Cubert signalled his acknowledgement and opened the Planet Express ship's airlock, followed soon after by the airlock of the pirate ship.

Up in the pirate ship's control room, the intruder alarm suddenly sounded, taking everyone by surprise, not least Vans.  "What was that?" he yelled.

Tanner glanced at the internal sensors, and his eyes grew wide with alarm.  "We have two intruders near airlock three!"

Vans was dumfounded.  "WHAT?!  Where did they come from?"

"I-I don't know.  The internal sensors say there's a ship docked with us, but the external sensors still read nothing there!"

Vans turned to Fernandez.  "Fernandez, take some men and see what's going on down there!"

"Yes, Captain."  Fernandez stood up from his console and snapped his fingers at two men who were manning low priority stations.  Glad to be given something more interesting to do, they stood up and followed Fernandez as he left the control room in search of the intruders.

As Fry and Angela cautiously made their way down the corridor, in the distance they heard the sound of the airlocks closing behind them.  Ahead of them, the corridor split in three, one going left, another right, and the third straight ahead.  Angela indicated the corridor to their left.  "Okay, Fry.  That corridor leads to the hold.  Follow it until you reach a staircase, then go down to the bottom level."

"Can't I use the elevator?"

"Better not to.  They probably know we're on board by now.  If we take the elevator it'll make it easier for them to trap us.  Now go!"

Fry took one last look to make sure the coast was clear, then he darted off down the corridor.  Angela took the right-hand corridor, in search of the staircase that ascended to the crew quarters.

It didn't take Fry long to find the staircase, and he started descending.  Halfway down the staircase levelled out, turned one hundred and eighty degrees, then went down the rest of the way.  Fry stopped where the stairs turned, and took the opportunity to look out over the hold.  Most if it was filled with gold bullion, but in one corner sat a huge pile of gems of various shapes and sizes, some of which were set in rings, crowns, and various other pieces of jewellery.  On top of the pile sat the box containing the Gemerald, and laying on the floor next to it was the deactivated Bender.  Fry scanned the room again to see how many people were guarding it.  All he saw was one pirate casually sitting against a wall reading a magazine, his cutlass on the floor next to him.  I guess not many people try to raid their hold.  Fry decided to make his move while he was still on the stairs.  He drew his blaster, aimed it at the pirate, and pulled the trigger.

The shot struck the wall, a good metre wide of the pirate, who jumped up in alarm.  He looked the see where the shot had come from, and spotted Fry on the staircase.  The pirate drew his blaster and fired, the shot harmlessly striking the banister in front of Fry.  For a couple of minutes the duo traded fire.  The pirate was a sitting duck, but Fry's poor aim meant he kept missing the target.  The pirate had much better aim, but the banister and the stairs themselves were giving Fry better protection.

Finally one of Fry's shots struck the pirate in the shoulder, and he dropped to the ground, unconscious.  Fry ran down the rest of the stairs, disarmed the pirate, then ran over to reactivate Bender.  Opening his chest compartment, Fry saw a big red button marked RESET.  He pressed it, and Bender's internal mechanism sprang to life.  A second later his eyes and mouth lit up, and he levered himself to a sitting position.

"Bender?  You okay?"

"Yeah.  Damn that Vans!  I oughta-" Seeing the treasures all around him, Bender broke off.  He took a moment to take in the entire room.  "Wow.  Did we die and go to heaven?"

"Nope.  We're in the hold of the pirate ship.  Now come on, we've got to get back to the ship!"

Bender wasn't listening.  He rubbed his hands gleefully, and began cramming gold bars into his chest cavity.  Fry began getting impatient.  "C'mon Bender, get a move on!"

"Just a minute!"  Bender crammed the final available space of his chest compartment with gold and jewels, then picked up the Gemerald box.  "Okay.  Cheese it!"  Fry dashed off up the stairs, all too glad to be getting out of there.  Bender followed, the contents of his chest rattling loudly with every step.

The two of them climbed the stairs, then ran down the corridor towards the junction where Fry and Angela had split up.  Fry turned right, towards the ship.  Bender stopped him and handed him the Gemerald.  "Here, take this!" Bender turned left and started off down the corridor.

"Where are you going?" called Fry.  "The ship's this way!"

"I've had an idea!  I'll catch you up later!"  Bender scampered down the corridor, turned a corner, and was gone.  Shrugging, Fry set off back to the ship.

*     *     *
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #17 on: 01-18-2006 07:18 »

Originally posted by PCC Fred:

I have a plan. But unless you want to build an IKEA bookcase it's not much use...

Ah, the epitome of Sweedish Crap... 

Good update.  My only qualm is Fry would be a better shot than you made him out to be.  He has over a decade of video game experience to hone his marksmanship skill.  He often manned the laser turret of the PE ship and was very accurate with his markmanship.

Other than that, I enjoyed the update

Bending Unit
« Reply #18 on: 01-18-2006 11:54 »

Yeah, I agree with what Ralph said about Fry's shooting. He always seems pretty good at it in the show. But, yeah, apart from that, it was good.

This is the real world, not some magic fairy story elf land!

I like that line. And Fry's response.  :)
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #19 on: 01-19-2006 07:04 »
« Last Edit on: 01-19-2006 07:04 »

Originally posted by Ralph Snart:
Good update.  My only qualm is Fry would be a better shot than you made him out to be.  He has over a decade of video game experience to hone his marksmanship skill.  He often manned the laser turret of the PE ship and was very accurate with his markmanship.

I see your point, but don't forget that he was crap at the wideo game in the pilot, and in "A Big Piece of Garbage" hw requires two attempts to push a button just a few inches away.  And it's possible that the turret of the PE ship has some kind of computer assisted targeting, whereas the blaster's just point and shoot.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.  Once I've finished posting this chapter, I'll try and answer some of the stuff concerning Leela, Angie and Zoidberg.

[EDIT]Wideo game?  "Now say 'nuclear wessels!'  'NO!'[/EDIT]
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #20 on: 01-20-2006 09:19 »

Part Five.  Doug really likes this part of the story.  I can't imagine why...  ;)

*     *     *

Several decks above, Angela was making her way carefully along the crew quarters deck.  Fortunately most of the pirates were on duty, which meant that the deck was all but deserted.  She'd tried the doors to all the quarters she'd been past, but most of them were locked, and the ones she'd peered inside were empty.

A large thump sounded from several doors further ahead.  Angela ran towards the sound, but this door was also locked.  From inside she heard several more thumps, and a cry of pain that was unmistakably Amy.

"AMY!  I'LL SAVE YOU!"  Angela tried the door again, but it wouldn't budge.  She took a few steps back, then barged the door with her shoulder.  It gave slightly, but not enough.  All the while she could hear various bangs, thumps and cries from inside the room.  She tried the door again, still no luck.

She was running up for the third attempt when the door suddenly swung open.  She ran straight into the room, tripped over something on the floor and fell down.  Clutching her knee, she turned round, and saw a furious Seth lying hog-tied on the floor.  Blood was streaming from his nose, and from a cut above his right eye.  Debris from broken furniture and pottery littered the floor, along with Seth's blood stained cutlass.  Looking up, Angela saw Amy standing by the door.  She seemed mostly unharmed, except for a bruise on her forehead, and where blood was seeping through her sleeve from a cut on her arm.  "Hi, Angie."

Angela stood up and brushed herself off.  "Hi.  What the hell happened here?  How'd you manage to overpower a guy twice your size?"

"Leela and I used to practise hand-to-hand combat for just such an emergency.  After four years fighting against her, this was nothing!"

"I'm impressed.  You'll have to show me your moves sometime."  Angela examined the injury to Amy's arm.  There was a deep cut there, and it was starting to bleed badly.  "We'd better get this bandaged.  Take off your top."

Amy suspiciously eyed Seth, who was loudly grinding his teeth.  "In front of him?"

"For heaven's sake, Amy!  I'm not asking for a striptease, I just want to fix up your arm!  Now sit down!"

Amy sat down on the edge of Seth's bed, unzipped her jacket and slipped the injured arm from its sleeve.  All the while she kept her gaze focussed on the pirate, who was glowering furiously back at her.  Angela tore a strip off a blanket on the bed and tied it tightly around the wound.  "There.  That should slow the bleeding down until we get back to the ship."

"Thanks."  Amy jumped off the bed, and straightened out her jacket.  "Have you found Lucy?" she asked, looking out into the corridor.

"Not yet."  Angela picked up Seth's blaster and tossed it to Amy, then headed for the door.  "We'd better move.  Come on!"

"Just a moment!"  Amy kneeled down so her face was inches from Seth's, and smirked at him.  "You're right.  I DID have a good time."  Amy stood up and followed Angela out of the room.

Seth's rage was fuelled by the humiliation of his predicament.  "YOU BITCH!  WHEN I GET OUT OF THIS I'LL FIND YOU AND TEAR YOUR HEAD OFF!"

Halfway out the door, Amy paused to turn and wave.  "Buh-bye!"  Amy shut the door behind her, leaving Seth howling with rage and fury.  Nobody noticed the small plastic card lying on the floor a few feet away.

"Are you sure it was a good idea to antagonise him like that?" asked Angela as the two of them continued down the corridor.

Amy wasn't concerned.  "Smeh, what's he gonna do?  Anyway, where are Fry and the others?"

"If they paid any attention to me they should all be back at the ship by now."

Amy looked askance at Angela.  "In other words, they're in big trouble."

"I know.  We'll help them out when we get back.  Right now we've got to find Lucy, she's in the most danger."

Angela and Amy continued trying doors.  Soon Amy came to one that was unlocked.  She carefully pushed it open, and she and Angela peered inside.  What they saw made their jaws drop.  Douglas was lying in bed, sound asleep, the blanket covering him up to his waist.  His left hand was up behind his head, while his right arm was wrapped around Lucy, who was snuggled up to him, her head resting on his chest, a contented smile on her face.

Angela and Amy glanced at each other.  Amy was trying not to laugh, while Angela just rolled her eyes.  She raised her fist to her mouth and coughed loudly.  Both Douglas and Lucy woke with a start, and for a few moments they just lay there in bed, with all four people in the room staring at each other, no one quite sure what to say.

Angela was the first to find her voice.  "Doesn't anyone need rescuing round here?"

Lucy groaned and rubbed her eyes.  "What are you guys doing here?"

"We're here to save you!" announced Amy brightly.

Lucy was still not totally with it.  "Save me?"

"Yeah!  From this awful, harrowing..." Amy looked at Douglas more closely and a dreamy look crossed her face.  "...handsome, well-toned, muscular ordeal!"

Angela groaned loudly.  "Well, at least you're safe.  I guess that's the important thing.  Now get out of bed and make it quick!  We've got to get back to the ship, Vans is bound to know we're here by now."  She looked at Douglas, who was half sitting up in the bed now, still trying to cover his modesty.  "What about you?  Aren't you going to try and stop us escaping?"

"I would, but I'm not exactly decent under here.  Have you ever tried sword fighting naked?  One guy tried it a couple of years ago, and cut off his-"

Angela hastily interrupted him.  "NEVER MIND!"  Her gaze returned to Lucy.  "Now get a move on.  We don't have much time!"

"All right, all right!  Just gimme a minute to get some clothes on, won't you?"

With a final shake of the head Angela stepped out into the corridor, closely followed by Amy.  For a minute they waited outside, Angela anxiously glancing up and down the corridor, hoping that the pirates wouldn't choose that particular moment to make an appearance.

The door opened, and Lucy emerged from Douglas's quarters.  "Don't laugh.  I had to borrow this from Douglas to replace my blouse."  Amy glanced at her, and sniggered.  The shirt was several sizes too big for her.  It completely swamped her, reaching down almost to her knees, while the sleeves kept coming down over her hands, despite her best efforts to roll them up to a more comfortable position.

Angela shushed the both of them.  "Right, Can we get out of here now?" she hissed.  She began to stride back down the corridor to the stairs, followed by Lucy, then Amy.

*     *     *

Fry cursed as he peered round the corner of the corridor.  Three pirates stood by the airlock, blocking his route to the ship.  They'd removed a panel from the wall and two of them were tinkering with the mechanism, trying to override Cubert's lockout, while the third kept watch.

"How's it going?" the lookout asked the other two.

One of them looked up from the exposed panel.  "Almost done, Fernandez."

Clutching the blaster in his hand, Fry briefly wondered whether he should try to take out the pirates.  But with Bender who-knows-where and the others still not back, a three against one fight would be a short one.

Fry's dilemma was solved when he heard footsteps from behind, and he turned to see Angela, Amy and Lucy running down the corridor towards him.  "What's the situation?" asked Angela as the three crouched down next to Fry.

"I've got the Gemerald," said Fry, indicating the box, "but Bender went off for some reason.  And we've got pirates trying to open the airlock."

Angela popped her head round the corner, and a quick glance confirmed what Fry had told her.  She ducked back again, and turned to the others.  "Looks like they're almost finished.  We'll have to be quick.  Fry, give me your blaster."  Fry passed it over, and Angela leaned round the corner again.  She took aim at one of the pirates working at the mechanism, and fired.  He fell to the ground, while the other pirate jumped back in surprise.  Fernandez quickly drew his blaster, and fired back, blowing a chunk out of the wall next to Angela's head.  The other pirate now drew his blaster, and the two of them peppered the corridor with shots, causing Angela to quickly duck behind the wall.

In the pirates' control room, Tanner signalled for Vans' attention.  "What is it now?" demanded Vans, clearly angry that their latest heist wasn't as straightforward as it should've been.

"I'm getting reports of a firefight down by the airlock.  One of our men is down."

Vans sighed loudly.  "That's it.  I'm going down there.  If you need a job doing properly, do it yourself.  Tanner, you stay here and monitor what's going on.  And if Seth or Douglas deign to make an appearance, tell them to get their asses down there too."

Vans stormed out, while Tanner breathed a small sigh of relief that at least he could get some peace now.  His attention returned to his readouts, and he became so engrossed in them that he failed to notice another figure enter the room.  A moment later a hard metallic fist caught him across the chin, and everything went dark.

Down by the airlock, the crew were pinned behind the corner by the relentless fire coming from the two pirates.  Angela looked back up the corridor.  "I wonder if there's a way to get to the airlock from the other side?"

Amy's attention was still fixed on the pirates.  "Hm?"

Angela stood up.  "Amy, keep shooting, draw their fire.  I'm going to see if there's a way round, to come at the airlock from the other corridor."  Angela left the group and started back up the corridor, taking the first left at every turn and junction she could.  Finally she turned a corner and saw the airlock, and the backs of the pirates as they continued to shoot in the direction of Amy and the others.  Carefully Angela took aim at the back of one of the pirates.  It didn't feel right to be shooting him in the back, but right now she didn't have much choice.  The shot hit its mark, and Fernandez fell to the ground.  Startled, the third pirate spun to face Angela, and was consequently shot by Amy.

Angela activated her wrist communicator.  "Cubert, we're here.  Open the airlock!"  Almost immediately the doors opened.  Amy emerged from her hiding place and sprinted towards the ship, followed by Lucy.  Fry lagged behind.

"Fry!" yelled Angela.  "Hurry up!"

"I'm waiting for Bender!"

"There's no time!  We've got to go now!"

Fry crossed his arms.  "I'm not going without Bender!"  Just then a door slid open further along the corridor.  Fry turned, expecting to see Bender running towards them.  Instead, he saw Vans pounding down the corridor.  Angela saw him draw his blaster, and suddenly it seemed as if everything was happening in slow motion.  Angela's feet started to move, and then she was running full pelt, covering the yards that separated her and Fry.  Vans raised his blaster, and aimed it squarely at Fry's head, while the delivery boy just stood there, frozen in fear.  Angela put her hands out, and shoved Fry to the floor just as Vans fired.  The shot caught the taller Angela in the shoulder, and with a yell of pain she fell to the ground, clutching her injured arm.  She looked up to see Vans now pointing the blaster at HER head, and she heard a series of short beeps as he increased the shot power to maximum.  Angela shut her eyes, waiting for the end.

*     *     *

Bending Unit
« Reply #21 on: 01-20-2006 11:49 »

Ooh, tense stuff!  :D Keep it going!
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #22 on: 01-23-2006 07:44 »

Hi, sorry it's taken me a while to respond to your comments.  It's just been one of those weeks.  Anyways...

@Ralph - I have the outline of a plan, but it's an outline that allows for a lot of wiggle room, at least in the early stages.  Episodes One and Three are based on the plan, Two and Four I came up with either off the top of my head, or after conversations with Doug.

That being said, I might try to wrap up the raider stuff quicker than I originally intended.  In the grand scheme of things they're not THAT crucial to the plot, and writing endless 'raider attack' scenes is beginning to piss me off.

@Spacedal - Glad you like the Scruffy scene.  It's actually based on JD and the janitor's first meeting in 'Scrubs'.  ('Based on' sounds so much better than 'ripping off', doesn't it?)

@Venus - Zoidberg's departure was planned from a very early stage.  Originally I was planning a spin-off story for him, but I ended up running short on both time and ideas.  However I have a couple of ideas for including him in the 5th season, one based on the spin-off, the other a totally different scenario.  One way or another, Zoidy WILL be back.

@Arkan - Thanks for your comments about the Nibbler PoV scene.  I was worried it was going to get a lot of critisicm, either because people didn't agree with what I said in it, or because they just didn't like a scene written from Nibbler's perspective.

The same thing goes for the Fry/Angie scene.  I get the feeling I could've done a better job of it, but unlike George Lucas I'm not going to spend forever and a day tweaking it, otherwise it'll lose its spontaneity.

Which brings us to the hot topics of conversation - Leela and Angie.

First of all, I'm sorry Leela hasn't done much so far.  I didn't intend to use her a little as I have, but I got so caught up in developing the storyline in general and Angie in particular that Leela's story kinda got pushed into the background.  Which is a shame because there's a lot of potential story in her current situation, such as developing her relationship with her parents and Fry, and whether or not she'd ever forgive Bender.  I've got an idea for a story involving Leela and her parents.  It's vaguely based on sometihng I read in Venus's fic, but it's a pretty off-the-wall idea.

(great story BTW Venus, I've still got a few chapters to catch up on but I'll post a full review when I'm done)

And sorry if Angie's come off as bitchy in places during this latest episode.  It wasn't entirely intentional, although I did want her and Leela to get off on the wrong foot.  In the first three episodes Angie was coming across as being perfect and always right, no matter what the situation.  So I tried to create a scenario in which her moralising rubbed the other characters up the wrong way.

Posted by Ralph
Leela does have a few moderating factors: She's just found her parents and wants to blend in with them, and she cares a lot about Fry (more than she cares to realize). Angela does not have these factors so in a lot of ways, she doesn't have anything to live for, where Leela does.

Therein lies the difference between the two.  Angie reminds me of Leela from the early episodes, before she found her parents, and when she and Fry were still at arm's length.  But in Angela's case we know she'll never see her parents again, and right now I'm at a loss as to who she might eventually have a relationship with.

One thing I have to disagree with though Ralph - I can see Leela and Angie possibly becoming friends.  They'll probably have a lot of clashes, especially if Leela returns to PE and one has to be the other's subordinate, but at the same time I can also see them empathising with each other because they've led similar lives, with Leela possibly feeling sorry for Angela because she doesn't have the special people in her life that Leela now has.
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #23 on: 01-25-2006 18:14 »

And here's the final part of "Pieces of Amy".  Once again, comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

*     *     *

There was the sound of a blaster shot, but the end never came.  After a few seconds Angela opened her eyes, to see Vans running away from her, shots at his heels.  Looking back towards the airlock, she saw Amy firing wildly in Vans' general direction.  Vans dived through a door, and almost crashed into Bender, who was running the other way, back towards the airlock.  The last thing Angela remembered was being lifted off the floor by Bender and carried towards the ship, before the pain overcame her and she drifted into unconsciousness.

*     *     *

Cubert already had the engine fired up and ticking over by the time Fry, Bender and Amy piled into the control room.  Cubert was about to move over for Amy, but she motioned for him to stay where he was, and instead took the wheel.  Fry dumped the Gemerald box on the floor and took his station.

Cubert looked around.  "Where are the others?"

Bender waved a hand in the direction of the door.  "Angie got shot.  Lucy's treating her in sickbay."

Genuine concern registered on Cubert's face.  "Oh, God!  Is she okay?  What happened?"

Fry's head was buried in his hands, still not quite able to believe what had just happened.  "She saved my life.  She took a shot for me!"

Cubert raised an eyebrow.  "After the bust-up you two had earlier?  Why'd she do that?"

Bender shrugged, and pulled out a bottle of beer.  "Beats me.  The only shot I'd take for any of you guys would be tequila."

Amy piped up.  "Will you guys cut it out?  We're supposed to be escaping here!  Disengaging airlocks!"  A shudder was felt through the ship as it disconnected from the pirate galleon.  Amy gradually applied the power, and the ship began to move away.

Back on the pirate ship, Vans stormed into the control room to find Tanner picking himself up off the floor, a bruise starting to appear on his chin.  "What the hell happened here?" boomed Vans.

"I-I dunno.  I was just watching the readouts, then there was this shadow, next thing I know I'm on the floor."

Vans sighed.  "Just get back to your station!"

Tanner returned to the sensors.  "The good news is, just before I got knocked out I think I figured out a way to cut through their sensor interference."

This brought a rare smile to Vans' face.  "Good work!  Where are they?"

Tanner hit a few controls.  "They've detached themselves from our vessel, and they're moving away, picking up speed."

"Take the helm, go after them!"

"Yes, Captain!"  Tanner quickly went over to the helm, and moved to fire up the engine.  A puzzled look appeared on his face as he noticed something was amiss.

Vans saw the same look.  "Did you hear me?  I said get after them!"

"We're not going anywhere!"  Tanner continued to stare at the helm.  "Someone's stolen the bloody ignition key!"

In the Planet Express control room, Bender whistled happily as his twirled the key in question around his finger.  Amy brought the ship round in a huge arc, and started to fly over the pirate ship.  "Cubert, activate winch!"

The ship's cargo bay doors opened, and the magnetic winch lowered.  After years playing arcade games, Cubert was just as adept at using the winch as Amy or Angela, and it took him less than five seconds to grab the laser cannon.  Amy moved the PE ship away, and the cannon tore away from the pirate ship, sending debris flying in all directions, and causing emergency doors to slam down to prevent the entire ship from decompressing.  Amy waited until Cubert had the cannon safely aboard and the doors closed, then flew off at full speed, leaving the pirates stranded.

*     *     *

Several hours later, the delivery to the Securisphere was complete, and the Planet Express ship was well on its way home, Cubert at the wheel.  In sickbay Lucy was putting a fresh bandage on Amy's wound, while Fry, Bender and Angela sat on the bed, Angela's arm in a sling.

Lucy finished tying Amy's bandage and cut off the excess.  "There you go, all done!  It's not fantastic, but it'll do until we get back to Earth."

"Thanks, Lucy."  Amy looked over at Angela and Fry.  "And thanks to you guys as well.  If you hadn't come after us I don't know what we'd have done."

Angela recalled the memory of Seth tied up and helpless in his quarters, and smiled.  "Somehow I think you'd have managed.  Besides, I ought to be thanking YOU.  If you hadn't chased off Vans I'd have been dead for sure."

"You're the real hero here, Angie."  This time it was Fry who spoke up.  "You took that shot for me!  And after I said all those things about you too."

"But you didn't say-" Angela was cut off as Fry gave her a big hug, taking care to avoid her injured arm.  "Thanks, Angie."

Bender let out an agonised cry that silenced the room.  "Alright, enough of this inspiring camaraderie!  It's sickening!  I think we're all forgetting the important thing here, which is that I came away with THIS!"  Bender opened his chest compartment, allowing everyone to see the treasures he'd taken from the pirates' hold.

Angela's jaw dropped in astonishment.  "Wow Bender, that's fantastic!"

Bender hadn't expected Angela to be so excited by the news.  "It is?"

"Yes!  Not only have we dropped off the Gemerald at the Sphere, but now we'll also be able to return the gold and jewels to their rightful owners!"

Bender realised he'd just made a huge mistake by bragging about his exploits.  "Rightful owners?"

"Of course!  Fry, help Bender unload that stuff in the hold.  We can keep it there until we get home and hand it over to the authorities."

The cry that Bender let out as Fry led him out of the room easily beat his effort of a few seconds earlier.  As the two of them walked down the corridor to the hold, Bender was muttering out loud.  "Stupid Angie and her 'principles'!  What's with these religious types, anyway?  I bet you LEELA would never have-"

"LEELA!"  Fry stopped suddenly, frozen in shock as he remembered their date.  He turned and sprinted back towards the control room.  Smiling, Bender turned and headed for his quarters, wondering how to explain the treasure's 'disappearance' to Angela.

*     *     *

Leela sat in her parents' living room, her gaze alternating between the front door, and the clock on the wall.  Ten minutes past seven.  Paranoid thoughts were just starting to run through her mind.  Is this some kind of stupid joke Fry and Bender have cooked up between them?  No, Fry wouldn't do something like that anymore.  Would he?

Next to her on the sofa, Morris and Munda were counting up their scores at the end of a board game.

"So how much do you have?" asked Munda.

Morris finished tallying up his money.  "Seven thousand, five hundred and seventy dollars, two thousand, eight hundred and forty-five dollars in title deeds, sixteen houses, six hotels, and a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card.  You?"

"The same." Munda sighed and threw the notepad down on the table.  "That's our seventh draw in a row.  I think I'm starting to figure out why someone threw this Communist-rules Monopoly in the sewer."

"Well I like it," said Morris happily as he tidied away the contents.  "Everybody wins!  But if you insist..." Morris put the box down on the floor and picked another up.  "How about Communist Cluedo?" He began laying out the board and pieces.  "Who do you want to be?  Miss Scarlet?  Professor Crimson?  Colonel Maroon?"

A red light began flashing on their videophone, accompanied by a beeping sound.  Although Leela's translator couldn't pick up the beeping sound, the flashing caught her attention, and she got to the phone just before Munda, who was hoping to save herself from the clutches of yet another dire board game.  Leela picked up the receiver, and plugged in her translator while the Sewercom logo appeared on the screen.  Soon the image switched to Fry.  The fact he was still sitting in the control room of the ship gave Leela a clue that this wasn't good news.  The look of utter dejection on his face clinched it.

"Fry?  Is everything all right?"

"We got attacked by pirates," said Fry sadly.

"Oh, God!  Is everyone okay?"

"We're fine.  Angie got shot, and Amy hurt her arm, but Lucy says they'll be okay.  But we're gonna be a few hours late getting home."  Fry struggled to get out the last sentence.  "I won't be able to make it tonight."

"Oh."  Leela's heart sank further, but she tried to put a brave face on it.  No point making him feel worse than he already is.  "Don't worry, Fry.  It wasn't your fault.  We can go out another time."

At Leela's last comment, a slight smile appeared on Fry's face.  "Thanks, Leela.  I'll give Elzar's a call, see if I can make another reservation.  And if I get up early tomorrow, I can come down and meet you for breakfast before work."

Leela smiled.  "That'd be great.  I'll see you then."  Fry and Leela said their goodbyes, then hung up.  No sooner was the connection cut than the smile fell from Leela's face.  She trudged sadly out of the room and went upstairs to her bedroom.

Nibbler looked up curiously as she entered, wondering why she hadn't left yet.  Then he caught the sad expression on her face and realised things hadn't gone according to plan.  Leela unclipped her earrings, placed them on her dresser along with her pearl necklace, then she sat down on the side of the bed, and tried hard not to let the disappointment she felt turn to tears.

Nibbler climbed up on the bed, scampered over to Leela, then nestled in her lap.  Seeing the furry little object sitting there helped ease her sadness, and a smile crossed her lips.  She picked him up and cradled him in her arms.  "Who's a fuzzy lickle cutie?"  Nibbler chattered excitedly in response.  I might not be able to solve all the problems facing the Mighty One and Leela, but at least I know how to lift her spirits.  And with the time of the Third Prophecy approaching, even the small things can make a difference.

"Ooh!  Someone's done a poopie!"

*     *     *

On the Planet Express ship, everyone watched as Earth loomed large in the cockpit window.  No matter how many times Fry saw it, its beauty never diminished, and he found himself wishing Leela was there to share it with him, like she had been before in the lunar lander.

Two huge Earth cruisers broke from their orbits and descended on the ship.  "Looks like the welcoming committee's here," commented Amy.  "Angie, I'll need that security card."

Angela reached into her jeans pocket.  "Sure.  It's... uh oh."  Her hand moved to her other jeans pocket, then to the pockets on her jacket.  "I can't seem to find it!  Oh Lord, it must have fallen out somewhere on the pirate ship!"

Amy began to worry.  "But without clearance, we won't be able to get past the checkpoint!"

Fry looked from one to the other.  "What does it mean?"

"It means we're boned," said Bender dryly.

Angela watched the ships approach.  "Any ideas?"

Inspiration struck Amy.  "I know!  We'll call Kif!  His security clearance is high enough that he should be able to get us through.  And he's not far away either!  Luckily the Nimbus is in drydock for refitting."

Amy pressed a button, and the ship's videophone dropped down from the ceiling.  Quickly she dialled Kif's number, and waited while the system placed her on hold.  About fifteen seconds later Kif's face appeared, lighting up when he saw her.  "Amy!  What a pleasant surprise!  How was your trip to the Securisphere?"

"Actually it didn't go so well.  We got attacked by space pirates-"

"Oh, dear!"

"-and now we've lost our security clearance card!  Kif sweetie, do you think you could contact the patrol ships and ask them to, you know, just let us through?"

An uncertain look crossed Kif's face.  "I'd like to help, really I would.  But ever since Earth left the DOOP Wiseman's put pressure on the fleet commanders to lean on alien crew members.  We're having to toe the line a lot more than usual."

On another day Amy might have paid more attention to what Kif was saying.  But right now she was tired, sore, and all she'd had to eat that day was Bender's Hypnotoad in the Hole.  It had tasted vile, but for some reason she'd felt compelled to keep eating it.

"Kif, you know I wouldn't ask you if it wasn't an emergency.  But without clearance we won't be able to return to Earth, and I won't be able to get my arm treated.  Look!"  Amy rolled up her sleeve, and showed Kif the bloody bandage around her injury.

It had the desired effect.  "Good gracious!  Well in that case of course I'll signal the patrol vessels.  They should contact you in a couple of minutes."

"Thanks, Kiffy."  Amy blew a kiss at the screen, and chuckled as Kif's camouflage reflex activated, the alien turning virtually invisible just before the screen cut off.  Amy sat back.  "Now we wait."

Everyone sat back and waited for a signal from the patrol vessels.  One minute passed, which soon became two, then three.  Lucy began to get jittery.  "Do you think he's called them yet?"

"He must have by now," said Amy as she stared out the window.  Everyone fell quiet again, as another minute passed.

The silence was shattered by the videophone beeping.  Amy picked up the receiver, and on screen appeared the image of a man in his mid-forties, wearing an Earth fleet uniform.  "This is the patrol vessel Amiga.  Permission granted to dock at Planet Express headquarters.  Have a safe journey."  The man hung up before Amy had a chance to thank him, and cheers erupted from the entire crew as the ship flew past the patrol vessels and set course for New New York.

*     *     *

"What time is it?" asked Fry as the crew disembarked in Planet Express's hangar bay.  Farnsworth was already in bed and Hermes had gone home, leaving the building's automated systems to help guide their landing.

Angela checked her watch.  "About eleven o'clock."

As soon as he was off the ship, Cubert darted for the nearest set of stairs.  "I'm off to bed.  G'night!"

"Cubert!" called Angela.  Cubert stopped halfway up the stairs and turned to face her.  "You did a good job today."

And to everyone's surprise Cubert smiled, a smile free of his usual smugness and contempt.  "Thanks, Angie."  Then he ran up the rest of the stairs and was gone.

Bender looked around.  "What the hell was that?"

Fry shrugged, and walked over to the videophone.  "I'm calling a cab.  Bender, are you coming?"

"Might's well.  Wiseman's alien curfews are killing the night life round here."

Amy turned to Angela and Lucy.  "What about us?  Both of your apartments are on my way home, we can all share a cab."

"Not so fast," interrupted Lucy.  "You two have a date with my office so I can treat those injuries properly.  We'll call a cab when I'm done."

Half an hour later, Fry and Bender had left, and the cab for the three women sat outside the building, honking its horn.  As soon as Lucy gave them the all clear, Amy and Angela dashed out of her office.  "Lucy, are you coming?" called Amy over her shoulder.

"Just a minute."  Lucy packed away a few loose folders, wondering how that Zoidberg guy had made such a mess of his medical notes.  She turned off her office light, and quickly trotted downstairs.  As she walked through the lobby to the main door, she saw Scruffy sweeping the floor.  He muttered something unintelligible as she walked past.

Lucy turned her head.  "What did you say?"

And walked smack into the door.

As Lucy lay on the floor, dazed and clutching her nose, a familiar gruff voice said, "Door's broke again."


*     *     *
commie detector

Starship Captain
« Reply #24 on: 01-25-2006 23:10 »

very good story line.... characters seem well.... in character... great work!

« Reply #25 on: 01-26-2006 10:08 »

i cant read it. it only reminds me of tragic story of the Fox corp. ruining great shows and canceling them before their time. its enough to make a guy cry.

Urban Legend
« Reply #26 on: 01-26-2006 10:52 »

Okay, i'm sure i'm missing something really obvious, but why is this story called 'Pieces of Amy?'

Bending Unit
« Reply #27 on: 01-26-2006 11:43 »

I thought it was like 'Pieces of Me'. Isn't that a song or something? Oh, I don't know.

Anyway, I liked it. It was really well written, just like all the other parts, and I especially liked the line
"Beats me. The only shot I'd take for any of you guys would be tequila."

Is the next installment coming any time soon?
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #28 on: 01-26-2006 19:06 »

Originally posted by Venus:
Okay, i'm sure i'm missing something really obvious, but why is this story called 'Pieces of Amy?'

I was thinking along the lines of that old pirate cliche 'Pieces of Eight'.  Plus at one point Amy had a more prominent role in the story.

@Arkan - I wrote about seven pages of Episode Five in December, but since then I've come down with a serious case of writer's block.  So it might be a while.  :(
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #29 on: 01-26-2006 20:26 »
« Last Edit on: 01-26-2006 20:26 »

forgive the lowercase - i'm typing one-handed.

the story is evolving well.  slow and steady wins the race.  some of the best fics takes several chapters to get the characters and settings correct. you have chosen to take a slow approach to development that will pay off.

i like that you've made leela more 'human' than most fics do - she's an intricate character that most writers tend to make almost schizophrenic.  she may have a lot of emotional baggage, and she may be borderline mentally ill at times, but she's still human with a lot of angst, sadness and anger.  you are portraying a 'helpless' leela appropriately.

also, you are portraying fry as something more than a moron; at least he knows leela is hurting and is trying his best to help her.

a class act of a story.

Urban Legend
« Reply #30 on: 01-27-2006 15:47 »

Wow!That's really good.I usually don't care for Fanfic,but that was relly good.Keep it up.

Space Pope
« Reply #31 on: 01-29-2006 01:21 »

Originally posted by Arkan:
I thought it was like 'Pieces of Me'. Isn't that a song or something? Oh, I don't know.

Anyway, I liked it. It was really well written, just like all the other parts, and I especially liked the line
 Is the next installment coming any time soon?

That's that Ashlee Simpson song but I thought it was the Katie Holmes movie 'Pieces of April'. They both work.
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #32 on: 02-03-2006 09:06 »

Originally posted by PCC Fred:
I've got an idea for a story involving Leela and her parents.  It's vaguely based on sometihng I read in Venus's fic, but it's a pretty off-the-wall idea.

I had a brainwave this morning.  I've finally figured out a way to include Leela in the story more, and more importantly, get her back onto the PE ship.

Venus, during your fic you mention that Munda loves cooking.  Would it be okay with you if I picked up on that?

Urban Legend
« Reply #33 on: 02-03-2006 14:20 »

You can take whatever character elements from my story that you want.
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #34 on: 02-03-2006 20:07 »

Thanks Venus.
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #35 on: 02-28-2006 05:25 »

Still working on Part 5, I've very nearly reached the second page.  :(

In the meantime, I'm posting the first few chapters in this thread, since TLZ's fanfic section is down at the moment.

*     *     *

Episode One - "Angela"

As the crowd filed out of the Metropolitan House of Opera, Fry's heart sank.  Thanks to the machinations of the Robot Devil, what should've been the greatest night of his life had turned into yet another horrible failure.  His opera had been a total disaster, humiliating him in front of America's elite, humiliating him in front of his friends, and worst of all, humiliating him in front of Leela.  Brushing a balled-up program aside, he sat down and stared at his holophoner.  He'd spent three years trying to learn to play it, and even after all that practise he could hardly string together half a dozen notes.  Bender was right, he thought to himself.  I'm never going to be any good, so why bother trying?  Fry placed the holophoner on the ground, got up, and started to walk off the stage, his head hanging in shame.  Just then a familiar voice interrupted him.

"Please don't stop playing, Fry."  Fry turned in surprise, and stared out across the deserted hall.  Amidst the rows of empty seats Fry saw a lone figure - Leela.  "I want to hear how it ends."

Fry's face brightened.  She believes in me!  He went back to his seat, picked up the holophoner, and resumed playing.  A simple tune started playing, and a holographic image began to form, coalescing into an image of Fry and Leela.  They came together, held hands, and lightly kissed each other on the lips, before walking off into the distance, hands still joined.  Fry was astonished.  Usually when he tried to play, the "tune" barely qualified as music and the images were freaky and disturbing.  But this time, although the images were crude and the tune basic, somehow it felt right.

Fry finished playing, and looked across at Leela, to find her silently making her way through the row of seats to the aisle.  For a moment Fry's heart froze.  Please don't walk out on me please don't walk out on me please don't walk out on me...  But when Leela reached the aisle, she turned and started making her way towards the stage.  Fry watched her as she approached.  She looked absolutely stunning.  Even those ugly mechanical ears the Robot Devil had fitted weren't enough to obscure her beauty.

Leela reached the stage, climbed the steps, and walked up to Fry.  For a few moments they just stared at each other.  Fry saw Leela's face beaming, and he couldn't help but break into a huge grin.  Leela placed her hands lightly on his shoulders, and moved in for the kiss.  She was interrupted when a metal hand tapped her on the shoulder.  Great Bender, way to spoil the moment, she thought as she turned to face him.

"Bender, what the f..." Leela stopped in her tracks.  Instead of Bender, she found herself facing a livid Calculon.

"Now that Beezlebot has returned to his fortress of damnation, I demand you return my ears IMMEDITAELY!"


Amy tore along the streets of New New York in her brand new Beta-Romeo, oblivious to the ocean of honking horns and shaking fists she'd left in her wake.  In her mind she was reliving the vacation Kif had taken her on the previous week, to the ski resort on Triton.  She smiled to herself as she remembered how Kif had been goaded into attempting a dangerous ski jump by that hunky, long haired ski instructor, and she winced as she recalled Kif's subsequent fifty foot "descent".  Fortunately he didn't have any bones to break, but he did puncture several bladders, and had spent the remainder of the holiday bandaged up...  Amy sighed dreamily, as a Honda swerved to avoid her, knocked over a garbage can, and exploded in a fiery inferno.

Amy arrived at the Planet Express building and parked her car, hitting a fire hydrant and crushing Cubert's hoverbike in the process.  Whistling happily, she got out of the car and entered the building.  Wanting to let Hermes know she'd arrived, Amy headed straight for his office, only to find the door locked.  Amy read the flashing digital display next to the door.  DO NOT DISTURB.  JOB INTERVIEW IN PROGRESS.

I guess Hermes is having trouble finding a new ship captain, thought Amy as she made her way upstairs to the employee lounge.  She entered the room to find Fry and Bender sitting at opposite ends of the table.

"Now watch me again meatbag, and this time stop staring at Scruffy's porno mag!"

"But I'm bored!  We've been at this for ages!"

"Hey, YOU'RE the one who asked me to teach you, so stop your yammering and pay attention!"

With a heavy sigh, Fry sat back and watched Bender make a bunch of weird gestures with his hands.  Getting Bender to teach him sign language had seemed like a good idea at the time, but Fry's near inability to pick up things like this was making Bender's job almost impossible.

"Right, are you ready?  Here we go.  'How... are... you... today?'" said Bender, punctuating each word with a sign gesture.  "There, now you try."

"'How... are... you... today?'" said Fry, attempting to mimic Bender's gestures as he went.  "How was that?"

"It depends.  What's brickbat lingerie?"  Fry groaned and buried his head in his hands.  Amy took the opportunity to butt in.

"Hi guys!  Have a good week?"

"No", said Fry and Bender in unison.

"I've been trying to teach this moron sign language", explained Bender.  "Two weeks of my life I'll never get back and he hasn't learned a damn thing!"

"Two weeks?" said Amy incredulously.  "And you haven't learned anything?"

Fry shook his head sadly.  "I'm visiting Leela tonight, and I was hoping to have learned a few phrases.  As it is, the only way I'll be able to talk to her is by using the electronic notepad."

"Well Bender knows sign language, why don't you take him with you so he can sign for you?"

Fry sighed.  "That's not a great idea.  Leela still blames Bender for deafening her.  Right now she doesn't want to see him."

Bender chuckled.  "That crazy bitch.  Imagine thinking it was MY fault!  Must be her time of the month or something."

Fry frowned.  "Of course it's your fault!  You blasted her with an air-horn from two feet away!"

"Hey, I would never have gotten that air-horn if you hadn't made that deal with the Robot Devil!  Everyone knows you can't trust him!  So in a way, isn't this really YOUR fault?"

"But YOU'RE the one who suggested I make a deal with him in the first place!"
"I'm also the one who told you to give up playing that crappy holophoner before you embarrassed yourself!  But you weren't listening then, were you?"

"Cheers, great to know I can count on my best friend for support."  Fry's voice dripped with sarcasm.

Amy could see the situation turning ugly.  "Cool down guys, this isn't helping."

"Face it Fry, you stank!"

"I would've picked it up eventually!"

"The way you're picking up sign language?"

"Maybe it's not me.  Maybe you're a lousy teacher!"

"Guys!  I said stop it!"

"Oh yeah?  Then how come I managed to teach Amy, Hermes and the Professor basic sign language inside of a week?  Face it Fry, you're the dumbest guy who ever lived!"

"Oh yeah?  Wanna take this outside?"

"Bring it on, skintube!"

"I'm gonna kick your shiny metal ass right round the building!"

"I said SHUT THE FLUCK UP!"  Fry and Bender broke off and stared at Amy, open jawed.

"Look," said Amy more calmly, "You guys obviously need a break.  So let's get some drinks, sit down on the couch, and I can tell you all about my vacation."

The idea didn't appeal to either Fry or Bender.  "Aw, do we have to?"  "Sounds boring".

Amy sighed and rolled her eyes.  "Gleesh, alright!  We'll get some drinks, sit down on the couch and watch some mindless drivel on the TV!  Satisfied?"

"Yay!"  Fry and Bender rushed over to the couch, followed by Amy.  Bender produced three bottles of beer from his chest cavity and handed them around.  Amy switched on the TV to find Morbo in the middle of a news report.

"Police have given up the search for Earth President Richard Nixon following his abduction by the Robot Devil last month.  They believe he has been taken to Robot Hell, but the officers are all too scared to go there and find out.  As a consequence of Nixon's disappearance, Vice-President Tim Backer has used his emergency powers to call for a fresh presidential election.  Morbo can only hope that the new President of Earth will show the same warmongering spirit and callous disregard for human life that made President Nixon a role model to children everywhere.  BWA HA HA HA!"

"Ha ha ha!  Since the announcement, two candidates have put themselves up for election.  The first is Vice-President Backer, who vows to continue the progress Nixon has made with increasing the profile of Earth amongst the members of DOOP.  He promises huge increases in government spending in all areas, whilst providing tax cuts for the working man.  The other candidate is Earthican Nationalist Jack Wiseman, who believes that many of Earth recent problems have been the result of alien influences."

The image on the screen changed to that of Wiseman, who was being interviewed by a journalist.  Wiseman was about five and a half feet tall, with a fairly stout build.  He was almost totally bald, and wore a pair of spectacles with circular lenses.

"...For centuries now, we've been giving huge breaks to alien immigrants, allowing them to take jobs away from Earthicans, buy houses meant for Earthicans, and use health and education facilities paid for by Earthican taxpayers.  Every year billions of taxpayers' money goes to subsidise the DOOP.  And what have we had in return?  Years of systematic attacks launched by the regime of Omicron Persei VIII.  Native Martian terrorists attacking our business interests on Mars.  And worst of all, an outrageous attempt by the Decapodians to conquer our homeworld, after we lawfully convicted one of THEM for desecrating OUR flag during a national holiday!"

"That reminds me," said Amy, "Has anyone seen Zoidberg today?"  Fry and Bender shrugged, and then all three returned their attention to Wiseman.

"Well I say it's time for Earthicans to rise up and tell these outsiders, 'We're not taking this any more!'  If you elect me as your president, I promise to take swift and decisive actions to protect our borders!  Alien immigration will be halted!  Alien spies in our military will be dishonorably discharged!  We will retract our membership of the DOOP, which will vastly increase the amount of money available for government spending!"

"Can you believe this guy?" asked Amy.  "What a bigot!"

"I shouldn't worry," said Fry, pointing at the TV screen.  "Look at that opinion poll.  Eighty percent in favour of Backer!  Humans know a good choice when they see one.  Like in the nineteen-nineties, the Democrats had won two terms, and were all set for a third when I was frozen."

Amy exchanged glances with Bender.  "Er, sure Fry, whatever you say."

Their discussion was interrupted by the sound of the door opening and they turned to see Hermes enter the employee lounge.  Behind him, a dark-haired woman walked in.  Amy studied the newcomer.  She was slightly taller than Amy, and had a very slender build.  Amy couldn't tell how cute she looked because her long hair obscured most of her face.

"People," began Hermes, "I'd like you to meet Planet Express's newest employee.  Dis is Angela Hanson, our new starship captain."

Amy jumped off the couch and went over to greet the new arrival, wearing a friendly smile.  "Hi Angela, welcome on b..." and stopped short.  Now she was closer she could see that one side of Angela's face was heavily scarred.  For a brief moment Amy's smile froze, before she pulled herself together.  "Welcome on board."

If Angela had spotted Amy's stumble then she'd chosen to ignore it.  "Thanks Amy.  It's great to be here."

Hermes took this opportunity to slip away.  "Now if you kids will excuse me, I have to tidy me office and robot-proof the door.  There's an inspector from the Central Bureaucracy arrivin' tomorrow, and I don't want a repeat of what happened last time!"

"What was that about?" asked Angela as Hermes left the room.

"Just something that happened a couple of years ago."  Amy directed Angela over to the couch.  "Here, come and meet everyone.  This is Fry..."

Angela and Fry greeted each other.  Like Amy, Fry was slightly unnerved to see Angela's face, but did his best to hide it.

"...And this is Bender."

Angela reached forward, hand outstretched.  "Hi, Bender."

Bender shook Angela's hand.  "Hey, Angie.  What's with the scars?"

Amy flinched.  "BENDER!"

Angela bit her lip.  "It's okay, Amy."  She sat down on the couch, between Fry and Bender.  "I was involved in a hovercar accident when I was a child.  My parents and I were driving to church when some idiot in a sports car came hurtling round a bend on the wrong side of the road.  My dad swerved to try and avoid him, lost control and our car rolled down an embankment.  My parents were killed outright."

Any suddenly felt a pang of guilt about her journey to work that morning.  "That's awful.  It's amazing you survived."

"Yeah, I guess I was lucky," said Angela sadly.  "Someone dragged me from the car just before the fuel tank ignited and the thing burst into flames."

For a moment an awkward silence filled the room.  Finally Fry spoke up.

"So what happened to you after that?"

"I spent a few weeks in hospital, then I was sent to a local Orphanarium.  I left when I was sixteen and got a job at Mom's Friendly Delivery Company.  Started out as a junior delivery girl and worked my way up to ship captain.  I ended up working there for thirteen years."

"Why did you leave?" asked Amy.

Angela thought for a few moments before answering.  "I guess I just wanted a change of scene.  Mom's is great and all, and the pay's good, but you know how cold and impersonal these huge conglomerates can be.  I've heard people talk about how great the atmospheres are in these small companies, so I thought I'd try it for myself."

"Well you've come to the right place," said Bender.  "Planet Express is like one big happy family."

Cubert entered the room, rolling his eyes when he saw the four of them sitting on the couch.

"Wow, another action packed day in the life of Planet Express.  Don't you guys have any real jobs?"

Bender flicked a cigar stump at Cubert.  "Piss off, greaseball."

Unperturbed, Cubert turned his attention to Angela.  "I see you found another freak to replace One-Eye."

Angela self-consciously raised her hand to her cheek.  Cubert looked at Bender.

"Let's hope you don't deafen her and destroy her life too."

Fry, Bender and Amy glared at Cubert angrily, and Amy had to put an arm out to stop Fry lunging at Cubert.  Gritting her teeth, she got off the couch.  "Cubert honey, Mr. Conrad wants to see you downstairs to discuss your college application forms."

"But I don't start college for another four years!"

"Yes, but you know how much Hermes likes application forms.  You'll find him in his office.  Downstairs."

With a melodramatic sigh, Cubert exited the lounge, followed by Amy.  Seconds later there was a muffled cry, followed by a series of thuds that gradually faded into the distance.  Amy reentered the lounge, dusting her hands and smiling grimly.  "Now where were we?"

Angela looked at Bender.  "Something about one big happy family?"

Bender lit up another cigar.  "Yeah, and we all know what families are like."

"What was that brat talking about when he mentioned you destroying someone's life?" asked Angela.  Amy, Fry and Bender all glanced at each other uneasily.  Angela realised she'd hit on a touchy subject.  "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked."

Amy sighed.  "It's all right.  You couldn't know.  Cubert was talking about Leela, our previous captain.  She got permanently deafened when one of Bender's practical jokes backfired.  Deaf people aren't allowed to fly spaceships, so the DOOP stripped her of her captaincy."

"I'm sorry", said Angela sympathetically.  "I guess it must be weird for you guys having me here instead of her."

"Don't worry about it.  It's not like it was YOUR fault."  Amy glared at Bender, who remained unmoved.

Just then the Professor's voice sounded over the intercom.  "Good news, everyone.  I want you all to report to my laboratory so I can tell you about your next highly dangerous and potentially lethal mission."

With groans and audible muttering, Fry and Bender got off the couch and headed for the door, followed by Amy and Angela.  Angela looked nervous.  "Highly dangerous and potentially lethal?  He was exaggerating, wasn't he?"

"Of course," replied Amy.  "That's Professor Farnsworth, always kidding around."

*     *     *

"I hope you've all made wills, because this is quite possibly the most dangerous mission I've ever sent you on.  One of you is almost certain to be killed!"

The crew exchanged uneasy looks.  Finally Angela asked, "Where are you sending us?"

"The Neutral Colony of Sirius IX."  The relief in the room was palpable.

"What are we delivering?" asked Amy.  "Nothing arrived here today."

"Actually it's not a delivery.  I want you to pick up some freeze-dried supernova for me."

Fry was confused.  "Freeze-dried what?"


"What's it for?"

"Allow me to explain.  Next week is the Academy of Inventors' Annual Symposium.  As you know, each year every inventor presents an invention, and the best one wins the Academy prize.  Last year my Death Clock didn't go down too well, so this year I've come up with an invention that'll show those young whippersnappers who's boss!"

The Professor guided the crew over to his workbench.  On it was a Gameboy sized instrument with the back removed, and microchips and wires scattered everywhere.  "Now, do you remember a couple of years ago, that time machine I started work on?"

Amy and Fry's faces were blank.

"Let's say we do," said Bender.  "What about it?"

"Back then I wasn't able to finish the machine because nobody knew how to make time travel possible.  But after that accident that sent us back to nineteen forty-seven, I studied the ship's telemetry and realised that time travel IS possible.  All you need to do is microwave a piece of metal and harness the mighty power of the stars themselves!"

The Professor indicated the unfinished device on the workbench.  "As you can see, I've almost finished my prototype.  With it I'll be sure to win the Academy prize!  I've fitted a mini-microwave, but I need the freeze-dried supernova to power the reaction.  That's why I need you to pick some up."

"You can count on us, Professor," said Angela.

The Professor looked up at Angela and squinted.  "Did you dye your hair, Leela?"

"I'm not Leela."

"Oh."  The Professor turned away, waving a dismissive hand in her direction.  "Then take off that stupid human suit Zoidberg, and get going!  Your medical expertise could be the difference between life and death on this mission!"

*     *     *

"God, that was the most boring mission ever!"  Amy buried her head in her hands, barely able to stay awake.

"Tell me about it," said Bender.  "I couldn't find anything there worth stealing.  Curse those filthy Neutrals!"

Angela sat at the controls of the Planet Express ship, keeping one eye on the jar of freeze-dried supernova.  She noticed the empty seat off to her left.  "Where's Fry?"

"He's asleep in his quarters," explained Bender.  "I guess the 'excitement' was too much for him."

"Well can you go and fetch him?  He's supposed to be manning the long-range sensors."

"Aw, do I have to?"

Angela spun round and gave Bender a look that he knew only too well from the number of times that he'd seen it on Leela's face.  Muttering to himself he got up and left the control room.

"Amy, while we're waiting, can you check the long-range sensors?  I want to know if there's any toll booths we need to go around."

"Sure."  Amy went over to Fry's station and studied the readouts.  A look of concern crossed her face.  "I don't want you to worry, but there's a ship closing on us at high speed."

"What kind of ship?"

"I dunno.  It's small, probably only a one or two-man ship.  Triangular in shape, and heavily armed."

"Oh God, it's a raider ship!"  Angela's grip on the steering wheel tightened.  "Evasive action!"

Before Angela could do anything a series of small explosions rocked the ship, causing it to lurch to one side.  Amy grabbed a seat to stop her from being thrown across the room.  Angela turned the wheel hard, steering the ship out of the path of the weapons fire.

"I don't get it!" said Amy.  "We're not carrying anything valuable, why are they attacking us?"

Bender ran back into the control room.  "Fry's trapped!"

Angela began to look anxious.  "What do you mean, trapped?"

"Just before I got to his quarters, there were a load of explosions and the emergency doors dropped down!"

Amy was even more worried than Angela.  "That must mean the hull's about to breach somewhere in that section.  Fry'll be killed!  We've got to get him out!"

Angela turned to Amy.  "But if we open the doors and the hull breaches, we'll all die!  Besides, we've still got to deal with those raiders outside."  Angela pondered the situation for a brief moment, then came to a decision.  "Bender, man the weapons."

"Yes, Captain."  Bender climbed the short ladder to the gunner's position.

"Amy, you take the wheel.  I'll see if I can reach Fry."  Angela shot out the door while Amy slipped into her seat.

Angela ran down the short corridor, trying to keep her balance as the ship was rocked from side to side.  Soon she found her way blocked by the emergency door.  She struck the override button on the wall, but nothing happened.  Muttering, she opened a panel next to the button and began hotwiring the door.  A few seconds later the door slid open.  Angela ran through and sprinted to Fry's quarters.

Forcing the door, she entered to see Fry lying unconscious on the floor, a gash on his head indicating where he'd been struck by falling metal.  Angela grabbed Fry under his arms, and dragged him out of his quarters and back towards the emergency door.  After what seemed like an age she dragged Fry clear of the affected area of ship, and hot-wired the door mechanism again, slamming it shut.  Seconds later a huge explosion rocked the ship, and Angela looked out a porthole to see the contents of Fry's quarters floating in space.

In the control room, Amy was struggling to keep the ship clear of the onslaught of weapons fire.  She called up to Bender.  "Can you see him?"

"He keeps flying underneath us!  I can't get a clear shot!"

"I've got an idea!  Hold on!"  Amy pulled the wheel right back, sending the ship into a huge aerial loop.  In the corridor, Angela and Fry were hurled all over the place.  The sudden movement took the raider ship by surprise, and it failed to keep its position underneath the Planet Express ship.  Bender suddenly found the raider ship directly in his sights, and fired.  The first salvo disabled the weapons, and the second destroyed its engines.

"I've got it!" Bender yelled down at Amy.  "Now let's get out of here before anyone comes looking for it!"

Amy applied maximum thrust, and the ship blasted off into the distance, leaving the crippled raider vessel floating in space.

"We did it!" exclaimed Amy as Bender climbed back down.  The door opened, and the two of them turned to see Angela standing in the doorway.  She looked disheveled; there was a mark on her right arm, and a cut underneath her left eye.  Behind her they could see Fry slumped against the wall of the corridor.  Angela looked at Amy, who grinned sheepishly.  Angela smiled and gave her a thumbs-up.  "Nice work."

*     *     *

The rest of the journey passed without incident, and the ship soon arrived back on Earth.  Fry was taken to a local hospital so his head injury could be checked out.  Amy, Angela and Bender went upstairs to the Professor's laboratory, Bender holding the jar of freeze-dried supernova.  They found Farnsworth working at his workbench.  The time machine had been placed to one side, and he was fiddling with another invention.

"Professor!" yelled Amy.  "We've got the freeze-dried supernova you wanted!"

The Professor looked up.  "The wha?"

"The freeze-dried supernova!  You know, for your time machine!"

"Oh yes, that!  Actually you needn't have bothered.  I've decided to give up work on it"

"WHAT?!" gasped the three crewmembers in unison.

"While you were gone I decided to watch the Back to the Future trilogy, and it made me realise that time travel is too dangerous an endeavour for us mere mortals to be meddling with.  So I suppose you made that trip for nothing."

Amy and Angela simply stared at the Professor, slack-jawed.  Bender was livid.  "But what about the Symposium?  The time machine was supposed to be your prize-winning invention!"

"I know it was.  But not to worry, because I've come up with a NEW invention, one that'll make me the darling of the scientific community for decades to come!"  The Professor held up the device he'd been working on when they entered.  "Behold, my mighty Death Clock!"

Throwing her hands up in defeat, Amy walked out uttering a string of Chinese oaths, followed by Bender, who was holding the jar so tightly it was beginning to crack.  Angela looked at the Death Clock with wide-eyed enthusiasm.  "That's amazing!  How does it work?"

"You know," said Amy, as she and Bender walked down the stairs.  "I'm sure there's someone we should be calling to tell them Fry's in hospital."

Bender drained one beer bottle, dropped it on the floor, and immediately produced another from his chest cavity.  "Can't think who."

*     *     *

Down in the sewers, Leela lay curled up on her bed, sulking.  Out of the corner of her eye she saw the door open, and looked up expectantly.  "Fry?"  Her face fell when she saw that it was her mother, holding two mugs of cocoa.  "Oh Mom, it's you.  Any word from Fry?"

Munda shook her head.  Sitting down on the side of the bed, she handed one of the mugs to Leela.

"He said he'd be here," said Leela, a mixture of anger and disappointment in her voice.  "Where is he?"

*     *     *

Amy and Bender were watching TV when Angela came downstairs from the laboratory.

"So, what did you think of the Professor's Death Clock?" asked Amy sarcastically.

"It doesn't work properly.  Said I only had six weeks to live."  Angela barely suppressed a giggle.

Amy laughed.  "Oh Angie, that's terrible!  Oh well, it's been nice knowing you!"

Bender joined in the laughter.  "Hey, someone better tell Hermes he'll need to hire another captain!"

Eventually the laughter died down, and the two of them composed themselves.  Angela joined them on the couch.  "So what's on the TV?"

"We're waiting for a news report." explained Amy.  "Apparently something huge broke while we were on our way back."

The three of them waited for the commercial break to finish, and soon they were staring at the scowling face of Morbo.

"Human-hunting season started early today.  An Earthican delivery ship came under attack just outside the Sirius system."

The picture switched to a grainy image of two ships battling in space.  The image quality was poor, but one of the ships was unmistakably the Planet Express vessel.  Amy and Angela exchanged glances.  "Uh oh."

"As this video footage clearly indicates, the raider ship was on the verge of a glorious victory until the Earth ship used a clearly illegal manoeuvre to ambush the raiders."  The image showed the Planet Express ship launched into a tight loop, then firing on the raider ship as it completed the loop.

"Unfortunately there were no casualties, except for a minor head injury to one of the puny humans.  Morbo commiserates the raiders and wishes them better luck in the future.  BWA HA HA!"

"Ha ha ha!  This heinous attack has come to the attention of both presidential candidates.  We now go live to the headquarters of the Earthican Nationalists, where Jack Wiseman is about to give his comments on the attack."

The picture switched to an image of Wiseman standing at a podium.  "Today's horrific attack on our kind only goes to prove what I've been saying all along.  Aliens are not to be trusted!  My thoughts go out to that heroic boy lying in hospital, and I'm sure all of us wish him a speedy recovery.  Fellow Earthicans, I promise you that if you vote me into office, attacks of this kind with be dealt with in a swift and decisive fashion!  Humans will no longer be the whipping boys of the galaxy!  We will show these outsiders that we're a force to be reckoned with!"

Amy turned to the others.  "This can't be good."

"Don't worry," said Angela.  "Earth is much better off if we work in cooperation with alien races, and I'm sure most people have the common sense to see that."

The image on the screen returned to Linda.  "In the wake of today's attack, Jack Wiseman's comments are beginning to strike a chord with Earth's voters.  Latest opinion polls show his popularity rising in leaps and bounds, up to forty-one percent now from eighteen percent just two days ago.  Wiseman's comments have even managed to strike a chord with this particular voter.  Together we can propel Jack Wiseman into office and rid the Earth of the alien scourge that has afflicted us for centuries.  Ha ha ha!"

"BWA HA HA... wha?"

Bender switched off the TV.  Amy and Angela stared at the blank screen.

"What was that about common sense, Angie?" asked Amy.

Angela was stunned.  "Crap."

*     *     *
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #36 on: 03-01-2006 06:50 »

Episode Two - "Deaf Like Me"

*     *     *

The following morning Amy arrived at the hospital to pick Fry up.  She parked her car by the main entrance, beeped the horn loudly and waited.  A few moments later the doors slid open and Fry emerged, his holdall slung over his shoulder.  He still had a plaster where he'd hit his head, but other than that he looked none the worse for wear.  Fry threw the holdall in the back and climbed into the passenger seat.

"Thanks for picking me up, Amy."

"No problem."  Amy started the car again and drove away from the entrance.

"What did Leela say when you told her I was in the hospital?"  Amy didn't answer, but she clenched the steering wheel tighter.  "You did tell her, didn't you?" asked Fry.

Amy blushed.  "Er, I guess I forgot.  Sorry!"

Fry sighed.  "Great.  She's probably pissed that I didn't turn up last night.  You'd better drop me off when we get there so I can explain what happened.  How come you forgot?"

"We got caught up watching the election coverage on TV."  Briefly Amy explained to Fry how Wiseman had used the attack on the Planet Express ship to further his election campaign.  Fry groaned loudly when he heard how Wiseman had mentioned him during his rhetoric.

"-And the worst part is that it's working!  His popularity's gone up twenty percent since then!"  Amy shook her head sadly.  "Why are people so moronic?"

Fry was still angry.  "That bastard!  I'm gonna rip his guts out!"

As they talked Amy drove around the car park's one-way system, and they soon came to the junction onto the main road.  Amy brought the car to a halt and waited for a gap in the traffic.

Fry pointed at a white car approaching from the left.  "There's a gap after this guy."

"Someone's coming the other way."  Amy indicated a car approaching from their right.

"You can get out in front of him.  He's miles away!"

"Hey!  Who's doing the driving, you or me?"  Fry didn't answer, instead he watched aghast as the gap disappeared.

A couple of minutes later, they were STILL waiting at the junction, and a queue of cars was beginning to build up behind them.  Finally a large gap in the traffic opened up, and Amy cautiously edged her car out of the junction and onto the main road, where she trundled along at a modest speed.  Fry watched as car after car overtook them, several drivers hurling abuse at Amy.

"Is everything all right?" he asked.  "I mean, no offence, but you're usually a more-" What's another word for "psychotic"?  "-ASSERTIVE driver than this."

Amy looked at Fry, a fake grin plastered on her face.  "Nothing's wrong.  I'm fine!"

Fry watched a cyclist pass them.  "Amy, you're driving like the Professor!"  Suddenly a thought popped into Fry's head.  "Is this anything to do with Angie?"

Amy flinched, almost sending the car into a nearby fruit stand.  "Yes," she finally admitted.

Bingo, thought Fry.  "Don't tell me.  After hearing what happened to Angie, you're scared of being involved in an accident yourself, which is why you're driving so slowly.  Amy, relax!  Just because Angie was involved in a serious accident doesn't mean it going to happen to you, so you shouldn't let it get to you like this!"  Fry sat back smugly, satisfied that his years of watching "Frasier" hadn't gone to waste.

"I was almost involved in one yesterday," said Amy quietly.

Fry's face fell.  "What?  What happened?"

"I was driving down Fifty-Third Avenue yesterday, doing about sixty, when a car comes towards me and has to swerve to avoid a collision.  I didn't think much about it at the time, but after hearing about Angie's accident, I keep thinking that the same thing could've happened to me!  I could've been killed!"

"Wow," said Fry, "No wonder you're so cautious today.  But I still wouldn't worry so much.  Nobody got hurt, and you'll know to be more careful in future.  Right?"

A half smile appeared on Amy's lips.  "You're right.  Thanks, Fry."


They continued driving for a few more minutes, before Amy pulled up near a manhole cover.  "Here's your stop.  Leave the holdall in the back, I'll take it to work once I've picked up Angie."

"Thanks."  Fry got out of the car, and pulled out a small lump of metal.  Fry gave it a quick shake, and it extended into a crowbar, which Fry used to open the manhole cover.  Amy drove off, leaving Fry climbing down the hole.

*     *     *

Fifteen minutes later, Fry approached the Turanga household with some trepidation.  He was worried that Leela was going to be angry with him for not turning up last night.  He was even more worried that he still hadn't learned any sign language.  For the last couple of weeks he'd been using the Professor's electronic notepad to type written messages for Leela.  The problem was that his stupid fingers made typing difficult, as he kept hitting several keys at once, making his messages difficult to read.

Arriving at the house, Fry knocked on the door and waited for someone to answer.  After a few moments the door opened and Fry found himself face to face with Morris.  From the glare he gave Fry it was clear that he wasn't happy with him.

"Where were you yesterday?  Leela was really upset when you didn't turn up."

Fry indicated the plaster on his head.  "I got injured during a mission and spent the night in hospital."

"Couldn't you have at least phoned?"

"I asked Amy to, but she forgot.  Sorry."

Morris's expression softened, and he moved aside to allow Fry into the house.  "In that case come in.  Leela's upstairs in her room.  Watch out though, she's not in a good mood after yesterday.  You know how she can get."

"Yeah."  Losing her captaincy had had a dramatic effect on Leela.  She seemed to have lost all interest in her life above ground.  Besides trips to the hospital for tests, she hadn't left her parents' home, and even then she spent most of her time alone in her room.  Fry went upstairs, and opened the door of Leela's room.  He found Leela lying on the bed as usual, while Munda was next to the bed, trying to coax Leela into getting up and about.  Since Munda wasn't able to use sign language, she was communicating with her daughter using a deck of flashcards.  She rummaged through the deck and produced a picture of a knife, fork and plate.

"Not hungry", said Leela sullenly.  Munda rummaged though the deck again, and this time produced a picture of a glass with a bendy straw sticking out.  Leela was just as disinterested.  "Not thirsty."  Munda sighed, and began searching the flashcards for something else.

"Hi, Mrs. Turanga."  Munda turned and saw Fry standing in the doorway.  "Sorry I didn't show up yesterday, I got injured on a mission."  Fry pointed to the plaster again.

"Oh, hello Fry!  Come in!  I'll get out of your way."  Munda took the flashcards and left the bedroom, leaving Fry alone with Leela, who had rolled onto her side and was now staring out of the window.  Fry went over to her bed and placed a hand on her shoulder to grab her attention.  Leela rolled over again so that she was now facing Fry.  She sat up on the bed when she saw him, but if she was delighted to see him then she was hiding it well.  Fry began typing into the electronic notepad.  After a couple of minutes he turned it round so Leela could see what he'd written.

>hi lela

Leela glared at Fry, who grinned nervously before typing out another message.

>how r u

"Still deaf.  What did you expect?  And where the hell were you yesterday?"

Wow, Morris wasn't kidding.  Fry began typing out an explanation of what had happened on the mission to Sirius IX.  Two minutes passed.  Three.  Leela began to get impatient.  "Come on Fry!"  Fry began typing faster, hammering at the keys.

Finally he finished and handed the notepad over to Leela.  She stared at it blankly for a while.  She could make out the odd word here and there, but for the most part it looked like gibberish.  Eventually she gave up and handed the notepad back to Fry.  "I don't understand what you're saying!"

Fry bit his lip, trying to keep calm.  He began typing again.

>yor the 1 who told me 2 type fastr

"You should try making sense as well!"

By now Fry was starting to get annoyed.  Leela didn't have to be this mean to him.

>this woud b easier if u'd let me brink bonder along 2 sign 4 me

"WHAT?  You want to bring Bender here?  After what he did?  I never want to see that bastard ever again!  Fry, what the hell are you thinking?"

Fry had had enough.  Angrily he typed a message out on the pad, threw it on Leela's bed, and turned to walk out.  Leela read the message.

>i was only triing 2 help.  Butt if that's how u fel then fine.  go fyck yorself

With a sigh, Leela realised that Fry was right.  She HAD been treating him badly.  He'd come to visit her every day since she moved into her parents' house, and he'd taken her to all her hospital appointments.  All she'd given him in return was a load of verbal abuse whenever he turned up.

"Fry, wait!"  Fry stopped in the doorway, his back still turned to her.  "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be so rude to you.  Please, I want to know what happened to you yesterday."

After a moment Fry turned round to face Leela, who was now sitting on the side of the bed.  Fry sat down next to her, and picked up the notepad.  After a minute he handed it over to Leela.

>wil u give me time 2 tipe it out proppely?

Leela nodded, and once again Fry started typing out his explanation, while Leela waited patiently.  After about ten minutes he finished and handed the notepad back to Leela.  Another several minutes passed while Leela read through what Fry had written.  Soon she came to the part where Angela rescued Fry from his quarters.

"This Angie sounds too good to be true.  Did she really go to all that trouble just to save your life?"  Fry smiled and nodded.  Taking the notepad off Leela, he added an extra line.

>shes a fantastik captin

"Yeah, that's great," said Leela sadly.  Fry's face fell when he realised he'd said the wrong thing.  Maybe Leela was right about him finishing his stories one sentence earlier.

>I'm sory.  I didn't mean 2 upsett u

"It's not your fault Fry.  It's just that-" Leela paused for a second, struggling to say what she was thinking.  "It's just that it's hard for me to see Planet Express carrying on without me like nothing's happened."

Leela's eye began to water, and she sniffed loudly.  Fry edged up closer to her, and put an arm around her shoulders.

"Oh, Fry" said Leela, her throat beginning to tighten.  "What happened?  Just a couple of months ago I was on top of the world!  I had a great job, I'd finally found my parents, and things between you and me were going great.  Then that walking tin can deafened me, I've been stripped of my captaincy, and the only way I can talk to you and my parents is though this piece of crap," she finished, indicating the notepad.

For a few moments Fry was taken aback, not quite sure what to say.  He hadn't seen Leela this upset since that night a year ago, just before she found her parents.  Finally he picked up the notepad and began typing again.

>leela, I kno things seem bad riht now, but weel find a way 2 get yor hearin back.  Until then, yur parentd and me r always heer 4 u

Leela read Fry's message, then looked up at Fry, a smile breaking through the tears.  Smiling back, Fry leaned across and brushed a tear from Leela's face, then she put her arms around him in a fond embrace.  Raising her head to Fry's ear, Leela whispered, "Thank you."

*     *     *

Above the surface, Amy sat in her car, watching the front doors of the nearby Keaton Towers apartment block and beeping the horn impatiently.  She'd been sitting there for quarter of an hour, and Angie still hadn't appeared.  She was just about to get her cellphone out and call when the doors burst open, and Angela ran out, wearing a dark sweater and faded jeans.  She had a slice of toast clenched between her teeth, and was struggling to put on her jacket.  One arm was in its sleeve, while the other sleeve flapped about in the air.  Amy giggled at the comical scene.

"Having fun?" she asked sweetly, as Angela finally negotiated her other arm into the sleeve and began munching the toast.

Angela sat down in the passenger seat.  "Don't ask.  I've had a crappy morning."

"What's happened?" asked Amy as they drove off.

"I was having this wild nightmare, and I slept through my alarm."

"What was it about?"

Angela paused a moment before answering, "Spiders."

Amy shivered at the thought.  "Yeah.  They're creepy."

The two of them sat in silence for a few minutes, while they headed for Planet Express.  Soon Amy turned up Fifty-Third Avenue.

"Did you hear about the accident here yesterday?" asked Angela.  Amy didn't reply, so Angela continued.  "This family are coming down the street when suddenly some idiot tears round the corner, way over the speed limit.  The family have to swerve out of the way, they crash and the car catches fire.  So now all three of them are in hospital, and by all accounts their kid's in a pretty bad way.  The worst part is that the bastard who caused them to swerve didn't even stop!  If it weren't for the fact it's happened to me, I wouldn't have believed anyone could be so thoughtless.  What do you think, Amy?"

Angela suddenly realised that Amy had gone very quiet.  "Amy, are you okay?"

"Yeah," said Amy, her voice subdued.  "Yeah, I'm fine."  Angela looked worriedly at her friend.  She didn't seem fine.  If anything, she looked on the verge of tears.

The two of them sat in silence until they pulled up at the Planet Express building.  Angela got out of the car and headed for the door, before realising that Amy wasn't following her.  Turning round, she saw Amy still sitting in the car.

"Amy, are you sure you're okay?"

"Honestly, I'm fine!"  Amy flashed Angela a clearly forced grin.  "I'll meet you upstairs in a minute."

Angela shrugged.  "Okay."  She turned and went inside the building.  As soon as she was out of sight Amy got out her cellphone and called the hospital.  A moment later the receptionist answered.

"New New York General Hospital, how may I help you?"

"Er, hi.  I wanted to check on the condition of one of your patients.  They were injured in the accident on Fifty-Third Avenue."

"What's the patient's name?"

Amy realised Angela hadn't told her the victim's name.  "Um, I don't know."  Crap!

The voice on the other end grew suspicious.  "You don't know?  How are you related to the patient?"

Amy couldn't think of anything else to say.  "We're not related.  I just-"

The receptionist cut her off.  "I'm sorry miss, but it's against our policy to divulge patient information over the phone."

"But-" began Amy, before the receptionist hung up and she was left listening to the dial tone.  Muttering under her breath, Amy put the phone away and got out of the car.

*     *     *

Angela entered the lounge to find Bender and Fry sitting on the couch, next to the sleeping Professor.  Fry looked utterly miserable, and Bender was doing his best to try and cheer him up.

"Look on the bright side, meatbag!  Having a deaf girlfriend has all sorts of advantages!  You can play music as loud as you want, you can burp and fart without her nagging you, and when your relationship goes stale she won't be able to hear you boinking cheap trash in the next room!"

Shooting Bender an icy glare, Angela sat down next to Fry.  "What's wrong?"

"It's Leela," said Fry.  "She's still upset over losing her hearing.  And it doesn't help that I don't know sign language.  I've spent the last couple of weeks talking to her using an electronic notepad.  The problem is I'm no good at typing, which means my messages all come out wrong.  Then today I suggested I bring Bender along to sign for me, and she went ballistic!"

"That's lucky," retorted Bender.  "Saved me the trouble of refusing to help you."

Angela ignored Bender.  "So basically Fry, the problem with the notepad is that you're not good at typing, so mistakes creep into your messages.  Is that right?"

Fry nodded.  "Yeah."

Angela pondered for a moment.  "What you need is some way for what you want to say to appear on the notepad without you having to type it out.  I wonder if you could fit the notepad with some kind of speech recognition unit.  That way it could record your speech and convert it directly into text."

"Is that possible?" asked Fry.

"Let's find out.  Professor!"  Angela nudged the Professor, who gradually came to.  "Duh-eh-wha?"  Once he was fully awake, Angela briefly explained Fry's problem, and the solution she'd come up with.

"-So is it possible to convert an electronic notepad to detect speech?" she finished.

"Of course!  As a matter of fact I invented a device just like that many years ago.  It's called a Speech/Text Translator."

"That's great!" said Fry happily.  "So can you rig one up for me?"

"Oh my, no!"

Fry's joy quickly turned to dismay.  "Why not?"

"I was working for Mom when I invented it, which means that Mom's Friendly Medical Supplies owns the patent.  You'll have to get one from the local hospital."

"You're going to the hospital?"  Everyone turned to see Amy standing in the doorway.  "I'm on my way down there, I can give you a lift if you want."

*     *     *

Once they arrived at the hospital, Fry went straight to the receptionist, while Amy stood in line behind him.  The receptionist recognised Fry from earlier that day.

"Crap, I thought we'd got rid of you.  I-I-I mean, how can I help you?"

"Hi, I've got a friend who's deaf and I'm looking for one of those text translator thingies.  Who do I talk to about getting one?"

"That'll be the medical officer in charge of supplies.  If you'll take a seat in the waiting area, she'll see you in a few minutes."

"Thanks." Fry went to sit down, and Amy walked up to the receptionist.

"Hi, I wanted to see how one of your patients is doing.  They were injured in a car accident on Fifty-Third Avenue yesterday."

"Are you any relation of the patient?"

"Yes, I'm the patient's-cousin!"

The receptionist scrolled through a list of names on the computer.  "Ah yes, here we are.  Joey Peters.  He's on Ward Six, on the second floor."

"Thanks very much," said Amy.  Leaving the receptionist, she walked over to Fry.  "I'm just going to ask someone about-um-more cuteness reduction surgery!  I'll be back soon."

Leaving Fry in the waiting area, Amy quickly headed up the stairs to the second floor.  Following the signs on the walls, she walked down the corridor until the reached Ward Six.  She pushed open the doors and looked around.  Her eyes fell on a child asleep in bed, hooked up to an IV and several monitors.  He was heavily bandaged, and the skin Amy could see was red raw.  Next to the bed sat two adults, who Amy guessed were the parents.  The father had his arm in a sling, and the mother's face was bruised.  Both appeared to have suffered minor burns.  Amy looked at the identity card hanging at the foot of the bed, and her face fell.


Oh God, what have I done?  Tears starting to trickle down her face, Amy backed out of the ward, before she turned and ran.  She ran through the corridor, down the stairs, and kept running until she reached her car.  She got in, rested her head on the steering wheel, and began to sob loudly.

*     *     *

"Mr. Fry, Doctor Moon will see you now."  The receptionist pointed down a corridor.  "Second door on your left."

Fry put down the issue of Cosmo he'd been leafing through and followed the receptionist's directions.  Soon he came to a door marked DR. L. MOON, SUPPLIES.  Fry knocked on the door, and a moment later a woman's voice said, "Come in."

She sounds familiar, thought Fry as he entered the office.  Sitting behind the desk was an attractive blonde woman.  A woman Fry recognised.



For a few moments Fry and Lucy stared at each other in stunned silence.  Finally Lucy stepped round the desk and gave Fry a big hug.  "Philip, it's great to see you again!  How long has it been?"

"Must be twelve years, since we graduated from high school."  Fry smiled.  "Or should that be a thousand and ten?"

Lucy laughed at Fry's joke, then asked, "How did you get here?"

"A friend drove me."

Releasing Fry from the hug, Lucy gave him a playful punch in the shoulder.  "Idiot.  I mean how did you get to the Thirty-First Century?"

"Oh!  It was an accident.  I fell into one of those cryo-freezer-jiggies on New Year's Eve, nineteen ninety-nine.  What about you?"

"I was terminally ill with Moon's Disease."

"What's Moon's Disease?"

"Exactly!  The doctors had never seen it before, which it why they named it after me.  My family arranged for me to be frozen for a thousand years, in the hopes that a cure would be found.  I was frozen in two thousand and three, and woke up last year.  After they cured me, they assigned me to work in medicine, and here I am.  Pretty ironic, huh?"

Fry scratched his chin.  "Or is it just a coincidence?  Ah, who cares?"  Fry turned his attention back to Lucy.  "What's it like, working in supplies?"

"It's so dull!  'Miss Moon, Ward Thirteen needs more tongue depressors.'  'Miss Moon, we're out of bedpans.'  'Miss Moon, the bio-metric sensors on the third floor have failed and declared a dozen patients clinically dead.'  I went through med. school for this?  It sucks!  To be honest I'm looking round to see if any other hospitals have better jobs going."  Lucy paused to take a deep breath.  "What about you, Philip?  Where are you working?"

"I'm working as a delivery boy at Planet Express, a package delivery firm about a mile east of here."

"Is it any more interesting than this job?"

"It's brilliant!  I get to travel in a spaceship, and meet all sorts of weird aliens.  There was this one time these guys made me their emperor!"

Lucy smiled.  "Sounds like fun.  I wouldn't mind a job like that."  She went back round the desk and sat down.  "Anyway, back to business.  What is it you're looking for?"

"It's a speech/text translator.  A friend of mine was recently deafened after an accident."

Lucy began typing away at the computer on her desk, and a minute later a list of items appeared on the display.  "Yes, we have some in inventory.  They're pretty expensive though."

"How much?"

"One hundred thousand dollars."

"WHAT?!" exclaimed Fry.

Lucy shrugged.  "I'm sorry.  Ever since President McNeal allowed Momcorp to gain a monopoly on medical supplies, prices have skyrocketed.  Does your friend have any medical insurance?"

"No," Fry replied sadly.  "Even if she was still working for Planet Express, Hermes cancelled her medical insurance to pay for a shipment of popcorn she destroyed."

Lucy looked at Fry sympathetically.  "Like I said, I'm sorry.  We do have some cheaper options though.  For a hundred dollars you can buy an electronic notepad."

Fry let out an agonised groan.  "Thanks Lucy, but I don't think that'll help.  I guess I'll just have to find some way to raise the money."

*     *     *

Bender was astonished.  "HOW much?"

"One hundred thousand dollars."  Fry sat down heavily on the sofa and buried his head in his hands.

"Wow, with that much money you could dump Leela and buy yourself a fully-operational girlfriend!"

Ignoring Bender, Angela asked Fry, "Is there anyone you can borrow the money off?"

Fry shook his head.  "I don't think so.  The only person I know with enough money is Amy, and she blew her allowance on her new car.  I guess I'll have to find the money myself."

"How much do you have right now?" inquired Angela.  Fry reached into his sock and pulled out a crinkled nine-dollar bill.

Angela stared at the coughing, choking face of George Dubya that emblazoned the bill.  "Nine dollars?  Is that all?"

"I used to have ten, but we tied one to a fishing line to lure Zoidberg into his annual bath."

"Oh.  Ew!"  Angela's face wrinkled up in disgust.  "By the way, I haven't met this Zoidberg guy yet.  Any idea where he is?"

"I dunno," replied Bender.  "The last time I saw him, he was in a Dumpster discussing French cuisine with Jacques Chirac's head."

"Er, guys!  Anybody want to help me figure out how to turn nine dollars into a hundred thousand?"

Angela and Bender returned their attention to Fry.  "Do you have any ideas?" asked Angela.

"I suppose I could set up a high-stakes poker game and hustle some unsuspecting fools."

"Are you any good at poker?"

Fry slapped himself on the forehead.  "Damn!  I knew there was a catch somewhere!"  Suddenly an idea struck him.  "I know!  What about the stock market?"

Angela considered it for a moment.  "Actually that's not a bad idea.  Okay, you don't have much to begin investing with, but place it in a solid firm like Momcorp and you'll soon be making money hand over fist.  Come on, let's set up an account!"

The three of them went though to the conference room, and used the internet link to set up an online account.  Soon they were studying a list of firms.

Angela pondered some of the major industries on the list.  "Momcorp's stock rises nearly every day.  Trouble is a single share now costs over seventy dollars.  There's Sweet Dreams Inc., the subliminal advertising place, but their shares haven't done so well since it was claimed that beaming subliminal advertisements into dreams causes people's heads to explode."

"That's a load of crap," observed Bender, as he drank a bottle of beer.  "It's almost as dumb as when they claimed alcohol increases violent tendencies."  Bender finished the bottle and hurled it at Fry, who ducked and watched the bottle crash through a monitor.

Angela continued studying the stocks.  "How about this medical company, Black Healthcare Facilities?  They haven't been around long, but their stocks have been rising consistently for several weeks now.  And the good news is that their shares are still cheap enough that you can buy a couple with your nine dollars, Fry."

Fry waved a hand at Angela.  "Forget about that.  Look at these guys!"

Angela followed Fry's glance.  "Manchester Buccaneers Sports Concern?  Fry, their shares are only worth one cent each!"

"Exactly!  With all those other stocks I'll only be able to buy one or two shares, but with the Bucs I can buy hundreds, which means in a couple of weeks' time I'll be much better off!"

"But Fry, that's not how shares wo-"

Angela's protest trailed off, as Fry was already punching keys.  "Four dollars gets me four hundred shares."  Fry fed the nine-dollar bill into a slot on the computer bank, which deducted four dollars from the bill's value.

"Why not just use all your money and get nine hundred?" asked Bender.

"According to this the company only has four hundred shares."  Fry pulled the bill out of the slot and glanced at the screen again.  "What does 'controlling interest' mean?"

Angela sighed.  "It means you've bought the company's entire stock!  Oh Lord, that makes you the owner!"

Fry's jaw dropped.  "I own a sports team?  Great!"

"Do you even know what sport they play?"

"Sure I do!  It's the one with the ball and the stupid rules, isn't it?"

Bender gave Fry a slap on the back that left Fry gasping for air.  "Congratulations, skintube!  You've got your own sporting empire!  Now let's go celebrate, I know where Hermes keeps the good champagne!"

Fry and Bender headed into the lounge, leaving an astonished Angela sitting alone.  "Hello?  What about the hundred thousand dollars we're meant to be raising?  Hello?"

*     *     *

A few hours later everyone was packing up to go home.  Angela was going to the locker room to pick up her jacket when she heard a soft sniffling sound.  Peering round the door she saw Amy sitting on a bench in the locker room, her head in her hands.  She looked up as Angela entered the room.

"Amy?  I was wondering where you were.  Are you ready to-" Angela broke off when she saw the wet streaks down Amy's face.  "Amy, what's wrong?"

"That accident.  The kid that got injured." said Amy softly.  "I went to visit him when I was at the hospital with Fry.  He really looked a mess."  The memory brought on a fresh wave of emotion, and more tears began to flow.

Angela sat down next to Amy and put an arm around her shoulders.  "Yeah, I know.  It sucks.  But I was listening to the news earlier, it sounds like he's going to be okay."  Angela paused as a thought struck her.  "How did you manage to visit him?  I thought hospital security only let in relatives of patients."

"I told them I was his cousin."

"Why?  Why was it so important that you see him?"

Amy gulped.  "I-I had to see how he was."

Angela raised an eyebrow.  "Why?"  Amy opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out, and she promptly closed it again.

"Come on Amy," said Angela.  "What's going on?  You've been acting weird all day!"

After what seemed like an age, Amy began to speak.  "I dunno how to tell you this.  The person who caused the accident-" She broke off, unable to continue.

"Do you know who it is?" asked Angela suspiciously.  Amy nodded.  "Why haven't you told the police?"

Amy's voice was almost a whisper.  "It was me."

For a moment Angela just sat there, not believing what she'd just heard.  "What?"

Amy looked up at Angela.  "I caused the accident.  I was coming to work yesterday, and my mind was still on my vacation.  I was driving too fast, not paying attention to the road, and they swerved off the road to avoid me.  Even worse, my mind was so caught up I didn't even notice they'd crashed, which is why I drove off."

Angela pulled away from Amy, and stood up.  "I don't believe it."  Her shock turned to anger, and her voice took on a harsher tone.  "How could you be so irresponsible?  Not only do you cause an accident by driving stupidly, but then you drive off without checking to see if they're okay!  What if any of them had been killed?  Did you even think about that?"

Angrily, Angela grabbed her jacket out of the locker and slammed the door shut with a bang.  "I'd credited you with more sense.  Turns out you're no better than the guy who caused my accident."  Angela turned her back on Amy and started walking out of the room.

"You're right."

Amy's words stopped Angela in her tracks, and she turned round to face Amy again.

"I shouldn't have driven off afterwards.  Like I said, I wasn't paying attention.  The worst part is that this morning I was counting my lucky stars for having AVOIDED a serious accident.  I never thought that they might've crashed trying to avoid me.  Then after you told me about the accident I felt guilty, so I went to the hospital to see how the kid was.  I thought that if I saw he was okay, then I wouldn't feel so bad anymore.  But now the image of him lying there is stuck in my head, and all I can think about is that what's happened to him is my fault.  What do I do?"

Angela sat back down.  "There's only one thing you can do," she said, more calmly, "and I think we both know what it is."

Amy nodded.  "Go to the police.  I know I should.  But I'm scared.  Would they send me to prison?"

"I don't know," answered Angela.  "Maybe.  Nobody was killed, so maybe they'd let you off with a fine.  But at least you'd know you'd be doing the right thing.  The police never found who caused my accident, so I never got any closure.  If you turn yourself in, then at least it'll be the end of the story, for both you and the family."

*     *     *

The following morning, Bender was sitting in the lounge idly flicking through the TV channels when Fry entered the room.

"Hey Bender, turn over to the business news, will ya?  I want to see how my investment's doing!"

Bender flicked onto Bloomborg TV, where a nondescript man in a smart suit was speaking.

"Citizens of Manchester have reacted angrily to Philip J. Fry's take-over of the Buccaneers sports franchise.  As you may recall, Fry was responsible for the collapse of the Momcorp take-over of Planet Express three years ago that resulted in a galactic collapse of share values.  True to form, the news of Fry's take-over has sent Buccaneer shares spiralling, to a new low of minus one cents a share."

A chill went down Fry's spine.  "This can't be good, can it?"

Bender was perplexed.  "How the hell can a share be worth minus one cents?"

Fry hurriedly pulled the five-dollar bill out of his sock.  "I think I'd better sell off these shares before anything bad happens."

Fry and Bender rushed through to the conference room, where Hermes was setting up the morning staff meeting.  Fry sat down at the computer bank, fed the bill into the slot, and called up his brokerage account details.  He pressed a few keys, and a "SHARES SOLD" sign flashed up on the screen.

Fry breathed a sigh of relief, and pulled the bill out of the slot.  "There, that's done.  Good thing we saw that report, otherwise-" Fry broke off as he stared at the bill, dumbfounded.  "What the hell?  It says here it's a ONE-DOLLAR bill!  HERMES!"

Hermes looked up from the agenda he was writing out.  "What's de matter now?  Did someone beat your Tetris high score again?"

"No!  This stupid computer's crapped out!  It just stole four dollars off me!"

Hermes walked over to the computer bank.  "What were you doing at de time?"

Fry quickly explained about his need to raise money, buying the shares and their subsequent collapse.  "So when I went to sell the shares, it took four dollars off me instead of giving me money back!"

"How much did ya say de shares were worth when you sold them?"

"Minus one cents each."

For a moment Hermes just stared at Fry.  Then he burst out laughing, leaning on the table to stop himself falling down.

Fry watched Hermes' outburst with a feeling of dread.  "What?"

Finally Hermes composed himself and he cleared his throat.  "The value of your shares sunk so low you had to pay someone to take them off your hands!"

Fry stared blankly at Hermes.

"Don't you get it?  When you sell shares, the value of de share is what you get paid.  In dis case, de value is less than zero, so you're being paid a negative number, which is de same as you paying them!"

Fry stared blankly at Hermes.

"Didn't you ever do negative numbers at school?"

Fry stared blankly at Hermes.

"Oh, never mind."  Hermes returned to preparing for the meeting.

"So you've got one dollar," said Bender.  "Cheer up!  I can still set you up in a high-stakes game of poker.  I just have to round up some of the local bums."

"Don't bother," retorted Fry.  "I know just what I'm going to do with this dollar.  Something I should've done a long time ago."

*     *     *

"One Instant Lotto ticket, please!"

"That'll be one dollar."

Fry handed the bill over to the shop assistant, who tore a ticket off a roll and passed it to Fry.  Fry left the shop and sat down on the kerb.  Silently he scratched and sniffed the first square.  One liberty bell.  So far, so good.  He moved on to the second.  Two liberty bells.  He moved on to the third, then hesitated, his finger poised over the square.  If this failed, his chances of helping Leela were at an end.  Well, at least until next payday.  Still, he'd already bought the ticket, so there was no point worrying about that now.  Fry scratched the final square, and inhaled deeply.

"LIBERTY BELL!  I WIN!  I WIN!"  Fry jumped up and punched the air with his fist.  He ran back inside the store and showed the ticket to the assistant.  After checking the ticket, the assistant took a bill out of the register, fed it into a slot next to the roll of Lotto tickets, and punched a few keys.  He removed the bill and handed it over to Fry, who simply stared at it.  One hundred thousand dollars!

Thanking the assistant, Fry ran out of the store, and all the way back to Planet Express.  He burst into the lounge to find Bender there, watching TV and drinking beer.

"Bender, the ticket won!  I got the money!"

At the sound of the word "money" Bender's attention left the TV and turned to Fry.  "That's great!  You'll be able to buy that speech thingy for Leela!  Or twenty-five thousand crappy sports teams!  This calls for a celebration!"  Bender pulled a bottle of champagne and two glasses out of his chest cavity.  He was in the middle of pouring when Hermes entered the room, looking disgruntled and holding a lengthy sheet of paper.

"Have you seen dis month's phone bill?  It's though de roof with all these long distance calls to de Nimbus!  Where in Amarillo is Amy?"

Bender looked up.  "Oh, that reminds me.  We got a call from Angie earlier.  Amy's turned herself in to the cops."

Fry almost dropped the champagne glass.  "What?  What for?"

"Turns out she's the one who caused that car crash the other day.  Angie wants us to get down to the station as soon as possible."

Fry put the glass down on the table and turned to leave.  "Come on.  We're better leave now."  Bender followed him out the door, pausing only to drain Fry's glass.

*     *     *

When they arrived at the station they found Angela sitting alone near the front desk.  She stood up as soon as she saw Fry and Bender enter, and went over to them.  "What took you guys so long?"

"Sorry, it was my fault," said Fry.  "Where's Amy?"

"She's on the phone.  Her hearing's next week, but since she's already confessed it shouldn't take long.  Problem is bail's been sat at ten thousand dollars.  I can't afford it, and like you said, Amy spent all her money on her car and her vacation.  She's calling her parents to ask them to pay up.  Wait, here she comes now."

Fry and Bender turned in the direction Angela was indicating to see Amy walking towards them, accompanied by an officer.  From the expression on Amy's face it was clear that the conversation hadn't gone well.

"So, how much cash are your folks sending over?" asked Bender.  Fry and Angela exchanged uneasy looks.

"They're not," said Amy, a note of panic in her voice.  "They said I'd been irresponsible, and started going on about stuff like me running out on Kif when he was about to give birth, and when I let Zoidberg drive my last car.  They think I need to learn a lesson, so they've refused to send me any money."

She looked at Fry and Bender.  "Guys, I know this is a lot to ask, but do either of you have the money?"

"I'm cleaned out," replied Bender.  "Last time I play poker with 'Five Aces' Pete.  You know, I'm fairly sure he cheats somehow, but I can't put my finger on it."

All eyes turned to Fry.  "Have you got anything?" asked Amy.

Fry paused momentarily before answering.  "Nope.  Sorry.  I just blew my last dollar on a Lotto ticket."

A sick feeling began to form in the pit of Amy's stomach as realisation struck her.  The officer placed a firm hand on Amy's arm.  "Please come along, miss."  Fry and Angela watched helplessly as Amy was led away.  She turned her head to look back at them and they could see her starting to cry again.  Finally Amy and the officer disappeared round a corner.

Angela sighed.  "I guess there's nothing more we can do here.  We might as well get back to Planet Express and let Hermes what's going on."

As the three of them left the station, Bender gave Fry a hearty slap on the back.  "Congratulations, meatbag.  I never knew you had it in you!  I was worried you were going to waste your money helping Amy, instead of leaving her to rot while you get the translator for Leela!"

Angela overheard Bender's comments.  "What?  Fry, I thought you said you didn't have any money!"

"Er-um-well-" Fry stammered, unable to think what to say.

Bender cut across him.  "No money?  Are you kidding?  Fry won a hundred thousand on the Lotto!"

Angela turned to face Fry, who was glowering at Bender.  "How could you?" she snapped.  "Amy needed your help in there and you let her down!  I know how much you want that translator, but can't it wait another month or two?"

Fry decided to stand his ground.  "No it can't.  You don't have any idea how miserable Leela's been recently.  At the moment she can't even talk properly with either me or her parents!  She needs that translator!"

"Fry, I'm not saying it isn't difficult, but right now Amy needs your help more."

"Why?  She's only going to be in jail a week until the hearing.  After that they'll probably let her off with a driving ban and a slap on the wrist."

"Okay, let's say they do give her a slap on the wrist.  Say with a fine.  We already know her parents won't help her, and none of the rest of us has any money.  If you don't help she could end up going to prison!"

For a moment Fry pondered over what Angela said.  Then he dismissed it with a wave of his hand.  "No!  Look, I'm really sorry that Amy's in trouble, but at the end of the day it's her own fault for causing that accident in the first place.  What happened to Leela was an accident, and she doesn't deserve to suffer for it."

Angela sighed.  "Fry, no-one's denying that it's Amy's fault she's in this mess.  I was as pissed as you when I found out she'd caused that accident.  But she's trying to make amends for it and she needs our support.  Please, if you're not going to bail her out now, at least hold on to the money until the hearing."

For a few moments Fry said nothing.  He pulled out the bill from his pocket and stared at it, unsure what to do.  He desperately wanted to just go to the hospital and pick up the translator.  But Angela was right, Amy needed their help, and right now he was the only one in a position to give it.  His mind wandered back to the car accident he and Amy had been involved in several years ago, when he'd ended up stitched to Amy's shoulder.  If it hadn't been for her, he'd probably have died on the spot.  Dammit, I guess I have my answer.

Fry sighed and placed the bill back in his pocket.  "Okay, I'll hold on to it for now.  We'll see what happens in the hearing.  Jeez, who died and made you Alan Alda?"

"Thanks, Fry."  Angela gave Fry a quick hug, then trotted off in the direction of Planet Express.

Bender gave Fry a hard punch in the shoulder that made him wince.  "Damn you and your conscience!  I knew it was too good to be true!"  Bender walked off after Angela.

*     *     *

A week later the Planet Express crew were in court for Amy's hearing, and everything was proceeding as expected.  Amy had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and injuring other road users, and the judge was about to deliver her sentence.  Amy glanced briefly to her left.  She saw the child's parents glaring furiously at her, and her gaze dropped ashamedly to the floor.

Fry sat in the second row from the front, between Bender and Angela, nervously fingering the hundred thousand dollars in his pocket.  Bender saw Fry's hand twitching in his pocket.  "Jeez Fry, can't you wait till we get home?"

"And so," the judge was saying, "your driving license will be revoked, and you will be banned from driving any land vehicles for a period of two years."  A few murmurs filtered through the crowd, while up front Amy crossed her fingers and hoped that was all she'd receive.

"Ordinarily, you'd be looking at some serious jail time for this, but since your family own this judge, this courtroom, and several key politicians, the prison sentence will be quashed-"

The room was filled with louder murmurs and a few gasps.  Fry breathed a sigh of relief.  She's gonna get off!  I can get Leela the translator!

The judge banged his gavel hard.  "SILENCE!  As I was saying, the prison sentence will be quashed, so long as Miss Wong pay a ninety thousand dollar fine."


Amy turned to her parents, who were sitting in the front row.  "Mom!  Dad!" she hissed.  "Help me!"

"Sorry Amy," said Leo, "but you have to learn to take responsibility for your actions!"

"Besides," interrupted Inez, "You can find a good man in prison, much better than squishy alien."

"But mom, it's an all-female prison!  The closest they have to a man is that Ukrainian swimmer who was thrown out of the Olympics for doping offences!"

"Yeah?  Well you should hook up with her.  With all that testosterone in her system she MUST be able to father grandchild!"

Amy turned back round, her eyes downcast.  "I can't-I can't pay the fine, Your Honour."

Fry felt a sudden elbow in the midriff.  He turned to see Angela looking at him expectantly.  "Fry, what are you going to do?" she hissed urgently.

Fry's fingers again went to the bill in his pocket.  "I don't know," he said uncertainly.

"Fry, she's gonna go to jail!"

"I know, I know!"

"Miss Wong," said the judge, "Since you are unable to pay the fine, I have no choice but to-"

"WAIT!"  All the eyes in the room turned to Fry, who stood up, waving the bill frantically.  "Your Honour, I can pay the fine."

"Very well.  Please approach the bench."

Fry edged past Angela and the Professor, then walked down the aisle to the front of the court.  He handed the bill to the judge, who examined it briefly, before entering it in a slot on the table.  A moment later, he removed the bill again and handed it back to Fry, who stared sadly at the phrase TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.

The judge turned to Amy.  "Miss Wong, you're free to go."

People began to leave the courtroom, while quiet conversation started amongst those who remained.  Only Fry and Amy were silent, Amy as she sadly watched the parents walk out, and Fry as he continued to stare at the bill.

*     *     *

"I can't believe it!  I was so close!"

Fry sat despondently in the lounge at Planet Express, Angela and Bender sitting either side of him.

"It's your own fault," said Bender gruffly.  "No good deed goes unpunished!"

"Don't listen to him," said Angela.  "You did the right thing."

Fry wasn't going to be consoled.  "Yeah, but the right thing isn't gonna get Leela her translator, is it?"  He buried his head in his hands, lost in thought, and failed to hear the door open and shut.


Fry looked up and saw Amy standing over him.  "Oh, hi."

"Look, Angie told me how much trouble you'd gone to to get that money, so I felt like I owed you a favour."  Amy handed Fry a rectangular package.  "Hope you like it."

"Thanks," said Fry flatly.  He tore the wrapping off the package and his face lit up.  Inside was a box, labelled MOMCORP SPEECH/TEXT TRANSLATOR.

Fry jumped up and hugged Amy.  "It's fantastic!  Thank you!  But where did you get the money from?"

"I sold my car.  Now I can't drive there wasn't any point hanging on to it."

"Thanks.  I really appreciate it.  I've gotta go and show Leela!"  Fry let go of Amy and ran out of the room.

Bender rose up off the sofa.  "All's well that ends well.  This calls for a celebration!"

Angela smiled.  "Hermes just bought a new bottle of champagne to replace the one you drank yesterday, hasn't he?"

"Damn straight!"  Bender followed Fry out the door.

Amy sat down heavily next to Angela, who looked across and saw that she still looked a little glum.

"Amy," she began, "That was a nice thing you did for Fry.  And I'm proud of you for having the guts to turn yourself in."

"Please don't be proud of me.  I feel like crap.  If I hadn't been so stupid, I wouldn't have had to turn myself in to the police in the first place, and Fry wouldn't have had to save my ass in court."  Amy sighed.  "And that kid would be up and about now, instead of being stuck in hospital."

Angela sighed.  "Amy, look.  You made a mistake.  All of us do at some point or other.  The two important things are that you admit to your mistake, and that you try to learn from it.  By going to the police you admitted your mistake, both to yourself and to everyone else.  In the long run it'll make you feel much better than if you'd kept it a secret and let it eat away at you.  As for learning from the mistake, eventually you'll be able to drive again, and you'll know not to drive so recklessly."

Although Amy still wasn't smiling, she seemed a little happier.  "Yeah, I guess you're right.  Thanks."

Angela stood up.  "Now let's see if Bender's got any of that champagne left."

Amy followed Angela off the sofa, and the two of them headed for the door.

*     *     *

"So what do you think of it, Leela?"

Leela smiled with delight as Fry's words flashed up on the translator's display.  "Fry, it's wonderful!  Thank you!"  Leela leaned across and kissed Fry on the cheek, causing him to blush.  "But how were you able to afford this?"

"It's an interesting story.  It all started when Amy was driving me from the gwmoph mif mf"

Leela looked up from the translator, the smile still on her face.  "Fry, it doesn't work when your mouth's full of cake."

*     *     *

Hermes surveyed his office with pride.  He'd spent nearly two weeks getting his office ready for the upcoming inspection, and everything was just so.  All that remained was to shred a small stack of documents that were sitting on his desk.  He lifted the stack, and was just about to shred it when he spotted a letter that had been hiding at the bottom.

Placing the papers off to one side, Hermes sat down and opened the letter.  For a few moments Hermes stared at it in disbelief.  Then he threw the letter in the air in celebration, and spun wildly on his swivel chair, sweeping the papers off his desk as he went.  "I don't believe it!  It's finally happened!  YES!"

Eventually Hermes calmed down and brought the chair to a halt.  Then he got up and went around the room, recovering the scattered papers and placing them in the correct numerical order.  Then he ran the whole lot through the shredder.

*     *     *
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #37 on: 03-01-2006 08:10 »

Episode Three - "Earthican Idiot"

*     *     *

Amy put down her coffee cup and looked across the conference table at Fry and Bender.  "Do either of you have any idea why we're here?"

Fry shrugged.  "Not a clue.  All Hermes told us is that there was to be an emergency staff meeting and that we had to get here right away."

Bender was idly picking at the label of his beer bottle when an idea struck him.  "Hey, do you think the Professor kicked off during the night?"

Amy reacted with horror to the suggestion.  "Bender!  That's a horrible thing to say!"

Fry was equally shocked.  "Yeah!  We all know that when he dies he's arranged to have his consciousness transferred to Cubert's body!"

Bender snapped his fingers.  "You're right.  You'd think I'd remember something like that, considering I came up with the plan in the first place."

Their conversation was interrupted when the door opened, and they turned to see Angela enter the room.  There were dark shadows under her eyes and her hair was tangled.  She sat down next to Bender, rested her head in her hands and moaned loudly.  "Anybody got any paracetamol?  Codeine?  Morphine?  Please?"

"Bender's got some cyanide if you want it."

"I need that for tonight's dinner!  Damn, I just gave away my secret recipe!"

"What's wrong, Angie?" asked Amy.

"I had another nightmare.  I got woken out of it by Hermes' call and now I have a headache."

Amy produced a bottle of paracetamol from her handbag and slid it across the table to Angela.  "Another nightmare?  What was it about this time?  Spiders again?"

"No, it was-" Angela broke off in mid-sentence.  "I-I don't want to talk about it."

Amy's anxiety grew.  "Angie, you've had nightmares nearly every day this week!  What's wrong?"

"I said I don't want to talk about it!  It's private!" Angela snapped.  "I'm sorry," she said more calmly, "It's just that I don't like talking about my dreams with other people."

Amy sighed.  "Okay.  Just remember that we're here if you ever want to talk."

Bender pointed at Amy and Fry.  "Make that 'they're here'.  Human dreams have bored me ever since Fry told me about his gold bikini fantasy."

"Bender!" hissed Fry.  "I asked you never to mention it to anyone!"

Amy smirked.  "Why does every guy have the gold bikini fantasy?  All right, who was it?  Leela?  Me?  Michelle?"

"Er, well-"

"Fry was wearing it," finished Bender smoothly.  Fry's face flushed with anger and embarrassment, while Angela snickered and spat out the mouthful of water she'd just taken and Amy doubled up with laughter.

"Oh, Fry," said Amy once she'd recovered, tears streaming from her eyes, "what the hell were you doing in a gold bikini?"

Fry scowled angrily and Bender.  "It wasn't my fault.  It was that day the subliminal advertising place screwed up and sent the wrong dreams to the wrong people."

"SUUURE, Fry," said Amy in a mock sarcastic tone that infuriated Fry even further.

However he never got a chance to respond, as Hermes and the Professor entered the room at that moment.  The people in the room all turned to look at them.  The Professor looked somewhat serious, but Hermes was clearly deliriously happy.  In his hand he held an open envelope.  The two of them sat down in their usual seats.

"Bad news, every-" the Professor began, but he was interrupted by Hermes.

"GOOD news, everyone!  Fantastic news!  Zoidberg's gone!"

"WHAT?!" cried Amy and Fry in unison.

"I discovered dis letter from him sittin' in my office.  Look!"  Hermes handed the letter to Bender on his right, who read it, then passed it around for the others to see.

"Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I resign from Planet Express.  My failure to help Leela has made me realise you guys were right all along - I AM a hopeless doctor.  So I'm leaving New New York to try and find my place in the world, somewhere where I can be useful and get a hot meal maybe.  I hope Leela gets her hearing back and wish all of you the best in the future.


John Zoidberg, M. D."

For a few moments a stunned silence filled the room.  Finally Hermes spoke.

"I'll begin placin' advertisements for a new staff doctor dis afternoon."  Hermes rubbed his hands with glee.  "Dis is de best day ever!  Not only do I get rid of dat stinkin' lobster, but soon I'll have piles of application forms to verify!"  Hermes got up from the table and almost skipped out of the room, singing "Happy Days are here Again."

Bender stood up.  "Well I'm not going to stand for this!  I'm going to search for him!"

Fry was amazed.  "Wow, I didn't know you liked him that much."

"I don't!  But if he's gone, who'll I enter in next year's pet show?"

*     *     *

"I can't believe Zoidberg's really gone!"  Fry sat disconsolately on the couch, with Amy and Angela sitting either side of him.  "He was like a brother to me!"

Amy put a comforting arm around Fry.  "I know.  We're all going to miss him terribly."  Just then Bender entered the room.  "Did you find him?" asked Amy hopefully.

"I checked his office, all I could find were some notes he scribbled down a fortnight ago.  Then I looked at his appointment book but the last fourteen days were all blank.  Finally I asked around all the local hobos and garbage truck drivers.  Nobody's seen him in two weeks.  All of which makes his sudden disappearance all the more startling."

Bender opened his chest cavity and pulled out a chef's hat and an apron with a picture of a lobster on it.  "Fifteen bucks and now I'll never get a chance to use you.  I guess that bisque I was planning will have to be skunk after all."  Bender dumped the hat and apron in the trash.

The Professor entered the room.  "Good news, everyone!  In order to take your mind of Zoidberg's disappearance I've arranged for Planet Express to participate in some charity work."

Bender punched the air with his hand.  "That's great!  I love charity work!"

Angela raised an eyebrow.  "Really?  No offense, but you don't strike me as being the charitable type."

"That's just my work persona.  I'm really charitable!  A couple of years ago I put together a charity rock concert to help broken robots!"

Suddenly realisation struck Angela.  "Hold on, weren't you the robot that pretended to be broken to get everyone's sympathy, then made off with the proceeds from the concert?"

Bender sat back and crossed his arms.  "I like to think of it as 'creating awareness'," he said defensively.

Angela rolled her eyes.  "What'll we be doing, Professor?" she asked.

"You'll be delivering vitally needed aid to the planet Gideon IV.  Fifty years ago the planet used to be a paradise.  The atmosphere was totally free of disease, which meant that the death rate there was a fraction that of other planets at a similar rate of development.  As a result there was a population explosion that resulted in the population doubling from five to ten billion over a period of forty years.  This led to mass overcrowding and starvation.

"Gideon's finest scientific minds were called in, and their ultimate solution was to import diseases from other planets in order to reduce the population to manageable levels.  Unfortunately because these people had never suffered any diseases before, they had no immunities.  So now these diseases are running out of control, and threaten the entire population.  Earth has promised to send food and medicine, and a number of delivery companies - including us - have been asked to deliver the supplies.  You'll be leaving as soon as the ship's loaded."

"Sounds simple enough," said Bender.  "So why do I think there's a catch?"

"Don't be silly.  There's no catch!  Now you'd better prepare for launch.  Cubert will meet you on board."  The room was filled with loud groans from Fry, Bender and Amy.

"Not Cubert!" said Angela.  "Professor, why does he have to come with us?"

"Because he's on holiday for the next week and I don't want him under my feet!"  The Professor turned to leave the room.  "Besides, I figured you could use an extra hand when you're flying through the raider infested space between here and Gideon IV."

Angela became even more antagonised.  "What?  You never said anything about any raiders!"

The Professor disappeared through the doorway.  "Enjoy the trip.  I'll see any survivors when you return!"

*     *     *

A few hours later, the Planet Express ship was on course for Gideon IV.  Fry, Amy, Angela and Cubert sat around the dining table.  Angela was reading a newspaper article concerning the upcoming election.  A few minutes later she set the paper down in disgust.

"Can you believe it?  Wiseman's popularity went up another three points.  Right now they're saying it's too close to call.  I just don't get it!  What kind of moron would support a maniac like that?"

Cubert had picked up Angela's discarded newspaper and was reading the same article.  "All right!  Wiseman's up another three points!"

Angela shook her head.  "Never mind."  She picked up the napkin in front of her and began folding it into a swan.  "So, what's Bender's cooking like?"

Amy and Fry "um"ed and "er"ed, fidgeting in their seats.  "It's-an experience," Fry said finally.

"On a totally unrelated note," said Amy, "Did Hermes make you sign that sonic diarrhea waver?"

Angela nodded.  "Why?"

Amy smiled innocently.  "Oh, no reason."

"Dinner's served!"  The galley door opened and smoke billowed into the dining room.  Bender emerged from the smoke carrying a tray with four plates on.  He went around the table, placing the plates in front of the crewmembers.  Fry examined his meal closely.  Along with some brown lettuce leaves and stale bread buns, the plate was filled with a thick brown liquid, with a few lumps floating in it.  Fry took a tentative mouthful, and immediately spat it out into his hankie.  Amy fought a wave of nausea as she watched the brown liquid bubble evilly on her plate, and wished she hadn't made that crack about diarrhea.  Cubert simply stared at his in shock.

"Oh Lord and Guardian, we give thanks for this meal that you have provided-" Fry, Amy and Cubert turned their heads towards Angela, who was sitting with her hands clasped and her head bowed in prayer.

"-And we ask you to bless everyone at this table, Amen."  Angela looked up to see everyone staring at her.  "What?"

Cubert rolled his eyes and sighed theatrically.  "Great, just what this company needs.  A religious nut!"

Amy gave Cubert a sharp kick under the table that made him wince loudly.  "What religion do you follow, Angie?  Oprahism?  Voodoo?  Maradonaism?"

Angela removed a chain from around her neck, and passed it to Fry and Amy to look at.  On the end of the chain was a medallion, which had an image of a dove etched on one side.  "The Order of the White Guardian."

Fry had never heard of that religion before, and judging from the look on Amy's face, neither had she.  "So what's it about?" he asked.  "Crazy legends?  Stupid rules?  You know, the usual?"

"Nothing like that.  You see, according to the Order's sacred text-"

Cubert could barely contain his laughter.  "You've gotta be kidding!  You've got a sacred text?"  Another pair of kicks from Fry and Amy shut him up, and Angela continued.

"According to the Order's sacred text, the universe is held in balance by various opposing forces of equal strength.  Two Guardians control these forces.  One - the White Guardian - represents forces such as good, creation, hope and order, while the Black Guardian represents evil, destruction, despair and chaos.  Since the powers of the two Guardians are equal and opposite, the various forces they control are held in equilibrium, and thus the universal balance is maintained."

Cubert couldn't stand it any longer.  "But that's PREPOSTEROUS!  All-powerful beings controlling the forces of good and evil.  That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!  Besides," he continued smugly, "Your religion and your 'Guardians' are OBVIOUSLY derived from the White and Black Guardians from the Doctor Who 'Key to Time' series of the nineteen-seventies."

Amy couldn't stand Cubert any longer.  "Cubert honey, we were having some problems with the plumbing during the last mission.  Can you come and help me fix it?"

Cubert sighed heavily and got off his chair.  "Jeez, you guys are TOTALLY useless.  If it wasn't for me this entire company would fall apart."

Cubert followed Amy into the bathroom.  Moments later Fry and Angela heard screams, splashing, and the sound of repeated flushing.  The bathroom door opened, and Amy emerged, drying her hands on a towel.  "It's worse than I thought.  Toilet's blocked.  For the rest of the mission anyone who has to go does it out an airlock."  Amy sat back down.

Fry was still thinking about the discussion.  "Is your religion really based on a TV show?" he asked Angela.

Angela shrugged.  "It's not a big thing.  Nowadays most religions are based on TV shows."

"It's true!" added Amy.  "You already know about the 'Star Trek' religion, Oprahism's based on Oprah's talk show, Catholicism's based on 'Babylon Five', the list is endless!"  A thought stuck her.  "Which just leaves one question - why would you want to give thanks for THIS food?"  Amy indicated the congealing brown scum on everyone's plates.

"Hoi!" yelled Bender.  "I'm still in the room, remember?"

"I always give thanks for the food I eat," replied Angela.  "Besides, prayer's probably the best thing for this meal.  What on Earth is this supposed to be, anyway?"

"It's a Sloppy Joey," replied a seething Bender.

"Don't you mean a Sloppy Joe?" asked Fry.

"Sloppy Joe.  That's what I said.  On a totally unrelated note, if the head museum calls asking where Matt Le Blanc's head is, I don't know nothing.  Okay?"  Bender went back into the galley and closed the door, blocking out the sounds of clattering cutlery and vomiting.

*     *     *

Hermes held back a sigh as he leafed through the pile of application forms on his desk, looking for the one that belonged to the interviewee in front of him.  An afternoon conducting job interviews had sounded good at the time, but it was rapidly turning into a tortuous experience.  So far he'd interviewed no fewer than eight applicants for Zoidberg's job, but not one of them had been suitable.  Considering who it was they'd be replacing, Hermes was shocked that it was this difficult to find someone.

Finally Hermes found the correct form and quickly glanced through it.  He was amazed.  The applicant had first class degrees from no fewer than a dozen planets, and had named some of the galaxy's top scientific minds as references.  Hermes looked up at the applicant, a tall man with a short hair cut, wearing a battered leather jacket over a dark red top.

"Your academic record is truly exceptional, Doctor Eccleston.  You're easily de most qualified person I've interviewed today."  Another part of the form caught Hermes' eye.  "I see here you've listed your address as 'No Fixed Abode.'"

"I travel around a lot," explained Eccleston.  "That's the story of my life.  One minute I'm here, the next-" Eccleston snapped his fingers- "BING!  I'm gone."

Hermes sat forward in his chair.  "So, please explain why you're interested in dis job."

"Well, for one thing it's been a long time since I've been on Earth, and I'm planning to stick around for a while.  I haven't had cause to use my medical skills for some time, so it'll be a chance to get back in the swing of things.  As for this job specifically, I know I can useful here.  I saw the news report a few weeks ago about your ship coming under attack from raiders and a crewman being injured.  You need a doctor who's used to working in hazardous environments and who doesn't flinch in the face of danger.  Mr. Conrad, I am that doctor."  Eccleston smiled, a toothy smile that lit up the entire room, but with a hint of mania that sent a chill down Hermes' spine.

Hermes stood up and offered Eccleston his hand.  "Doctor Eccleston, I don't need to hear any more.  You're hired!"

Eccleston pumped Hermes' hand vigorously.  "That's brilliant!  When do I start?"

"As soon as possible.  There's a two week trial period, and if everything works out, you can sign a full time contract."

The smile faded from Ecclestone's face.  "Whoa.  Did you say full time?"

Hermes got an ugly feeling that his afternoon was about to get even longer.  "Is there a problem?"

"Well, it's just that- the offer's great and all, but when I said I was on Earth for a while, I wasn't thinking THAT long term.  I once got stuck in a job with the military for over five years.  By the end I couldn't leave quickly enough.  Now I'm only looking for a job that lasts about three months."

Once again Hermes found himself holding back that sigh.  "Well, I can't say I'm not disappointed, but if dat's how you feel, den it's better to know now."

Hermes showed Eccleston out of the office, then looked at the two remaining people sitting outside.  One was a slightly geeky looking guy in a pinstripe suit, the other a curvaceous blonde woman in a smart blouse and knee-length shirt.  Hermes turned to the man.  "Please come in, Doctor Tennant."

*     *     *

A day later the Planet Express ship was still some distance away from Gideon IV.  Now bored out of their wits, the crew had resorted to playing 'Geography'.

"'U' is for Utah," said Amy.  "'H'.  Angie?"

Angela thought for a moment.  "'H' is for Halifax.  'X'."  Angela smirked.  "Your turn, Cubert."

"'X' is for Xenia.  'A'."  Cubert smiled smugly.

"Hey!" whined Amy.  "We said place names, not sci-fi characters!"

Cubert crossed his arms.  "I said 'Xenia', not 'Xena'.  It's a place in Ohio.  Idiot."

Angela checked the computer.  A look of disappointment crossed her face.  "Dammit, he's right."

Cubert turned to Bender.  "Your turn, rustbucket.  'A'."

"'A' is for America.  'A'.  Amy?"

"'A' is for Afghanistan.  'N'.  Angie?"

"'N' is for New Mexico.  'O'.  Bender?"

"Hey!" whined Cubert.  "It's MY turn!"

Amy glared at Cubert.  "Do you want us to force feed you the rest of Bender's Sloppy Joe mix?"

Cubert shuddered.  "N-no."

Bender searched his memory bank for a suitable place name.  "'O' is for Omicron Persei VIII.  '8'.  Your turn, Fry.  Fry?"

Everyone turned to look at Fry, who was quietly reading some text on the electronic notepad.  Bender snatched the notepad off him and began scrolling through the text.  "So, what you readin' there, Fry?"

Fry snatched the notepad back off Bender and searched for his place.  "It's nothing.  Just a 'Star Trek' fanfic I downloaded off the Internet last week."

Bender shook his head.  "Just when you thought he couldn't sink any lower."

"Is it any good?" asked Angela.

"It's garbage!  The writer hasn't even used Spock once!  What kind of moron writes a fanfic based on a TV show, then leaves out the show's best character?"

Cubert opened his mouth to reply, but the blare of a loud klaxon cut off his words.  Everyone rushed to their stations in the control room.

"What is it?" asked Fry.

Amy studied her panel.  "It's a distress signal."

"Let's hear it," ordered Angela.  Amy pressed a couple of buttons, and a static filled message began playing over the speakers.

"Mayday, mayday, this - cargo vessel two-oh- heading for Gideon system - under attack - assist."

Angela quickly figured out the situation.  "It must be one of the other cargo vessels delivering supplies to Gideon IV.  Sounds like it's those damn raiders again.  What's their position, Fry?"

Fry examined the long-range sensors.  "About twelve parsecs to the right."

Angela pushed the ship to maximum speed and headed for the other vessel.  Fry continued to watch the sensors.  "Angie, what do the red dots mean?"

"They're raider ships.  How many are there?"

Fry looked on in abject horror.  "There's too many to count!"

From the back of the room, Angela heard Cubert's grating voice state "In other words, more than one."

Fry seethed.  "I mean it!  Amy, look at this!"

Amy went over to Fry's console and saw a number of red dots surrounding the green dot that represented the cargo ship.  "Angie, Fry's right.  There's dozens of them!"

"We're approaching the ship now," said Angela.  She looked up from the console, and gasped.  The others followed her gaze out of the cockpit windows.  They could see the enormous mile-long Momcorp vessel, several sections of it now ablaze.  A staggering number of triangular raider ships swarmed around it, firing incessantly.  As they watched a portion of the Momcorp vessel exploded as raider fire stuck a fuel line.

Bender looked at his panel.  "The computer says there's over a hundred raider ships."

Amy looked at Angela.  "What are we going to do?"  Angela said nothing; she simply stared through the window in astonishment.

Fry looked down at his panel again and gave a sharp cry.  "Several of the raider ships are breaking away from the main group and they're heading our way!"

Angela twisted the steering wheel hard right, sending the ship into a sharp U-turn.  "That's it, we're getting out of here."

Amy couldn't believe what she'd just heard.  "We're what?  Aren't we going to help that crew?"

"We can't!  There's too many of them!"

"You're not even going to try?"

Angela spun round to face Amy.  "No, we're not.  There's nothing we can do for them.  I'm putting us back on course for Gideon IV."  The crew stared speechlessly as Angela reset the course on her control panel.

Fry looked sadly at the sensor readout.  "That ship's not gonna last much longer.  It-" Suddenly a blinding light filled the control room, and moments later there were a series of soft thuds, as the Planet Express ship was hit by debris.  The room fell silent.  Amy continued to stare out of the window.  Fry looked at the empty space on his readout previously occupied by the Momcorp ship.  Even Cubert had been shocked into silence.

Finally Angela rose from her seat.  "I'm going to my quarters," she said softly.  "Amy, you're in charge till I get back."  Angela left the control room.  Amy took Angela seat at the controls, but seconds later she was up again, and heading out after Angela.

*     *     *

In her quarters, Angela fought back tears as she stared out of the tiny porthole lost in thought, her right hand clasped tightly around her medallion.  A knock at the door brought her back to reality.  She wiped her eyes, tucked the medallion back under her sweater, and took a deep breath.  "Come in."

The door opened and Amy walked in.  She walked over to where Angela was standing, and Angela saw the anger in her face.

"I can't believe you just let all those people die," said Amy angrily.  "And after all that stuff you told me about 'doing the right thing' after I caused that car accident!  Why didn't you try to help them?"

"You saw for yourself.  There were too many of them!  If we'd tried to intervene they'd just have destroyed us as well!"

"Fry and I were willing to take that risk!"

Angela struggled to keep calm.  "Well I wasn't!  And don't forget that I'm the captain of this ship, and it's my decision alone.  I'm sorry about what happened to the Momcorp ship, but at the end of the day it's my responsibility to protect THIS crew from danger."

Amy opened her mouth to say something back, but realising that Angela had a point, quickly shut it again.  For a few moments an awkward silence hung in the air.

"I'm sorry," said Amy finally.  She moved over to a seat and sat down.  "You're right.  It's just that sitting here watching while that ship was being d-destroyed."  Amy gulped hard, and a tear ran down her cheek.  "I felt so helpless."

Angela sat down next to Amy and placed a hand on her shoulder.  "We all felt that way.  But what happened wasn't our fault.  All we could do was save ourselves."  Amy nodded sadly.  For a couple of minutes they sat in silence, both thinking about the destroyed vessel.

This time Angela broke the silence.  "Wiseman's gonna have a field day with this."

Amy looked up.  "Hm?"

A note of disgust crept into Angela voice.  "'Alien raiders destroy Earth vessel on mission of mercy.'  I can almost hear his speech now."  Angela sighed.  "I just have this feeling that if Wiseman wins, we're all in big trouble."

*     *     *

The rest of the journey to Gideon IV passed without incident.  A few days later the Planet Express ship arrived back on Earth.  Amy, Fry, Angela and Cubert trudged somberly down the ramp.  A few moments later, Bender swaggered down the ramp, whistling happily.

Fry watched Bender in disbelief.  "Jeez Bender, show a little respect!  What are you so happy about, anyway?"

Bender lit a cigarette.  "Just celebrating a highly profitable mission!"

"I don't understand," said Amy.  "Profitable?  What did you get out of it?"

Bender opened his chest cavity and fished out several boxes of medical supplies.

"Where did you get those?" asked Angela suspiciously.  "Did you steal them from the aid supplies?"

Amy was shocked.  "How can you be so mean as to steal from charity?"

"Quite easily," retorted Bender.  "But actually I didn't steal them.  Gideon IV's Health Minister traded them to me."

"I don't get it."  Fry scratched his head in confusion.  "I thought they needed those supplies urgently.  Why are they just giving them away like that?"

"What DID you trade for them?" asked Angela.

"Their government asked for some small arms.  You know, laser pistols, stun grenades.  Something about exterminating the infidels on Gideon III."  Bender walked out of the room, leaving the others speechless.

*     *     *

So the mission was a complete waste of time," said Amy as she entered the lounge, followed by Fry and Angela.

Angela could barely contain her fury.  "And the worst part is that that crew died for nothing."

"Hey, guys!" yelled Bender.  "Come and meet the new doctor!"

Fry, Amy and Angela walked over to the couch, where Bender was sitting next to a blonde woman.  She turned her head as the three approached, and smiled broadly.  "Hi, Philip!"

"Lucy?  You're working here now?"

"Yep!  I said I was bored with my old job, and you told me how great it is working here.  So when I heard there was a vacancy, I applied straight away!  Isn't this great?  It'll be just like old times!"

"Old times?" wondered Amy aloud.

Fry remembered his manners.  "Sorry, I ought to introduce you.  Guys, this is Lucy Moon.  She was a friend of mine back at high school.  Lucy, this is Amy Wong and Angela Hanson."

Lucy shook the two girls' hands in turn.  Unlike Fry and Amy when they'd first met her, Lucy didn't seem too perturbed by Angela's scars.  Amy guessed that working in medicine, Lucy would have seen it all before.  After the introductions were over, Angela sat down and switched on the TV.  "We'd better see how much damage that incident's done."

The image showed Morbo and Linda hosting yet another election special.  Morbo looked furious beyond belief.  Linda on the other hand looked as cheerful as ever as she opened the report.

"Latest opinion polls suggest that sixty-seven percent of voters will vote for Jack Wiseman in next week's election.  Wiseman's popularity reached new heights this week in the wake of the raider attack that destroyed a Momcorp cargo vessel on a mission of mercy to Gideon IV.  Morbo?"

Morbo placed his papers down on the desk and stared directly at the camera.  Amy almost felt as if he were staring THROUGH the camera, directly at everyone in the room.  "FOOLS!  Why do you continue to pledge your loyalty to this pathetic human?  Jack Wiseman's anti-alien policies will destabilise the DOOP, plunge Earth into galactic conflict, and cost Morbo his cushy news anchor job!"

Angela put down the remote and headed for the door.  "I can't listen to this anymore.  I'm going across the road for a coffee.  Anyone want to join me?"

Fry followed Angela.  "Sounds good to me.  Maybe we can get some food too!  REAL food!"

Angela and Fry left the room, followed by Amy, Lucy and Bender.  In their rush they forgot to turn the TV off.  Linda carried on with the report.

"With Wiseman on the verge of victory it seems certain that we'll soon see some of his new security measures brought into operation, including the dismissal and incarceration of aliens serving in Earth's military.  Currently the highest-ranking alien is Kif Kroker, first mate on the Nimbus.  Will next week be a choker for Kroker?  Watch this space to find out.  Ha ha ha!"

*     *     *
PCC Fred

Space Pope
« Reply #38 on: 08-09-2006 06:05 »

Yep, it's finally here!

Episode Five - "Smile and the Whole World Smiles with You"
By Craig Williams

*      *      *


Alone in the bedroom of her apartment, Leela sat down at a small desk opposite her bed, and flipped over the cover sheet of an A5 notepad that lay on the wooden surface.  To the left of the pad was a steaming mug of coffee, and on the right a desk tidy filled with cheap biros that charities and companies insisted on including in their junk mail envelopes.  Many of them were from the various Orphanaria that regularly requested donations from her, and the majority of the rest came from the life insurance companies who helpfully suggested that Leela make provisions for her loved ones in the event something happened to her.

Spotting a lone pen advertising Sweet Dreams Inc., Leela plucked it from the desk tidy, and scribbled down four words at the top of the page:

'Dear Mom and Dad,'

It was a habit Leela had first picked up as a child in the Orphanarium.  Every so often she'd write an imaginary letter to her parents, letting them know how she was getting on.  Okay, in her heart of hearts she knew this was a pointless exercise.  Wherever her parents were, there was no way they would ever get to read this letter.  And yet - Leela looked up from her barely started letter and turned to stare out of the window, at a cloudless sky filled with stars - and yet she could never quite shake the feeling that somewhere, somehow her parents were watching over her.  After several minutes of silent contemplation, Leela's focus returned to her letter, and she began to write again.

'I started my first job today.  I'm a Fate Assignment Officer at a firm called Applied Cryogenics.'

Technically speaking, this wasn't exactly Leela's first ever job.  Previously she'd worked part-time at the counter of a small stationary shop, to help pay her way through college.  But her Applied Cryogenics job was the first one since she'd been given her Permanent Career Assignment, and was thus her first 'proper' job.

'AC is a place where people who were cryogenically frozen in the past are unfrozen and rehabilitated into modern day society.  My job there is to compile a biographical database on each person, which will then be used to determine what their Permanent Career Assignment (PCA) is.'

Leela recalled the day she'd received her own PCA with loathing.  She'd had her heart set on a career with the DOOP that would've meant spending most of her time in space, giving her the opportunity to search for her home planet.  Even a job delivering cargo or on a passenger liner might've been acceptable, as both went to far-flung areas of the universe.  But not this.  Not stuck on Earth handholding a bunch of dumb nobodies from God-knows-when.  Just to add insult to injury, her own Fate Assignment Officer had thought it a huge joke when she received the same PCA as him, and it was all Leela could do not to slap him across the face.

'The day began when I arrived at the building and met my co-workers for the first time...'

*      *      *

Leela stood outside the door of Applied Cryogenics, mentally preparing herself for what lay on the other side.  She straightened the jacket of her new uniform, taking a moment to study the cruelly ironic inscription on the uniform's badge, further evidence that the whole universe seemed to take perverse delight in tormenting her.


With a small sigh, Leela turned her attention back to the door.  In her mind she recalled a piece of advice some idiot had given her back at the Orphanarium.  Smile and the whole world smiles with you.  Bitter experience had taught Leela that it was a load of crap.  Most of the people she'd met in the intervening years seemed as miserable and joyless as she often felt.  Still, if all went to plan she'd be working with these people for a long time to come, so there'd be no harm in getting off on the right foot...  Taking a deep breath, Leela forced her lips into a smile, pushed open the door, and marched into the room.

There wasn't too much of interest to see inside.  One entire wall of the room was lined with what Leela realised were cryogenic tubes, inside each one a person waiting to be defrosted.  A window on the adjacent wall peered out over the New New York skyline, while the other two were dotted with various machines and storage cupboards.  In the centre of the room was a desk, on top of which were a computer, an electronic notepad, and a couple of mugs of coffee.  A dark-haired Asian man sat typing at the computer, while a taller man with thick glasses and a geeky haircut leaned on the back of the chair and looked over the first guy's shoulder.  Both looked up as Leela entered the room, and the geeky guy started speaking, in a loud, booming voice.


The smile froze on Leela's face.  What is he on about?  For several seconds she did nothing but stand there with her mouth half-open, unable to find any words in response.  Fortunately the other man came to her rescue.  Shooting the geeky guy a withering glare, he got off his seat and walked over to Leela, his hand outstretched.  "Hi, you must be Turanga Leela, the new employee.  I'm Lou, and this is Terry."  Leela gratefully shook the offered hand, then went to shake hands with Terry, gripping his hand so firmly he winced loudly.

Lou tried desperately not to smirk at Terry's discomfort.  "Did they tell you what you'd be doing here?" he asked Leela.

"Nothing detailed, just that I'd be assigning jobs to all the unfrozen people."

"Oh."  Lou gestured for her to join him by the computer.  "In that case I'd better fill you in.  Our computer database contains full biographical details of everyone frozen here - names and ages, academic qualifications, why they were frozen, that sort of thing.  There's a terminal like this one in your office down the hall, where you'll be able to access it all.  In addition, there's a device on this floor called a Probulator, which examines the physical and mental condition of the client.  You use it to determine if they have any injuries or illnesses that need treating, and also to build up a psychological profile of the client.  The profile is used to help assess their suitability for various lines of work, as well as making sure we don't release any unstable individuals into society."  Leela laughed inwardly at this last comment.  Release any more unstable individuals into society, you mean.

"Once all the relevant data's been compiled," continued Lou, "the computer determines the job where the client will be of most benefit to society, based on their academic achievement and psychological profile.  After that you download the job information into a career chip, implant it in the client's hand, and select for them a vacancy that matches their job description."

*      *      *

'I couldn't believe what I was hearing!  I mean, I've known for years how the Fate Assignment system works, but to hear it spelled out in such black and white terms...  Why can't people be allowed to choose the job they want, instead of being marshalled like sheep into the jobs where they'll be "of most benefit to society"?  You know what the employer's motto is here in New New York?  "You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do".  It makes me sick, especially now that I'm part of the system.

After Lou finished his explanation of how AC works, he showed me to my office, where I waited until the first "client" arrived...'

*      *      *

The one thing about working in AC was that Leela was hardly rushed off her feet.  According to Lou, an average week would see only two or three people unfrozen.  He and Terry spent the rest of the time monitoring and maintaining the cryo-tubes, but since Leela's job required a client to actually be up and about, she'd had nothing to do for most of the morning except drink coffee and flip through the records stored in the database.

She was interrupted by a loud bellow from outside the door.  "COME, your DESTINY AWAITS!"  The door slid open, revealing Terry and Lou standing next to an overweight man in his thirties, who was gazing up in awe at the sliding door.
"Leela," said Lou, "This is your first client, Eddie Bertoli.  Since this is your first time assessing a client, Terry and I will be supervising you."

Leela nodded, and put on the fake smile again.  "Hi, Eddie.  Come in."

Upon hearing his name, Eddie's attention was drawn from the door to Leela, and at the sight of her stopped dead, staring slack-jawed at her.  Leela began to feel uneasy, and the smile fell from her face.  "What's the matter?  Why are you looking at me like that?"

Eddie pointed at her.  "What happened to your face?"


"What's with the eye?"

Suddenly it clicked with Leela that Eddie had never seen an alien before.  With a sinking feeling it dawned on her that in all probability neither had most of the people in stasis, which meant this wouldn't be the last time she got asked this question.

"I'm an alien."

"Wow!  You mean, like from another planet?"

No, like from Los Angeles, you idiot!  "Yes."

"That is so cool!  Are you one of those aliens that's like, shed all your emotions?"

Only love, joy, happiness...  "No."  Leela tried to divert the conversation back on track.  "So, your file says you were frozen in Nineteen eighty-five."

"Yeah, that's right.  Doc said my heart's totally clogged up.  Said it was because I didn't exercise enough.  Shows how much doctors know.  I'm not lazy.  I exercised.  For God's sake, I WALKED to McDonald's every single day!  What more does that guy want?"  Leela threw a despairing glance over Eddie's shoulder at Terry, who gave her a 'keep calm' gesture.

A thought struck Eddie.  "Hey, you wouldn't by any chance know what happened to Sam and Diane, would you?"

"To who?"

"Sam and Diane!  C'mon, you MUST have heard of them!  Did they get married in the end?"

For a moment Leela's face was blank as she tossed the names about in her head.  Diane, Diane... sounds familiar... yes!  "Er, he married his mistress and became king of England, and she died in a car crash in Paris."

Eddie's face fell.  "Wow.  Heavy."

*      *      *

Leela's examination by her Fate Assignment Officer had taken about half an hour.  Leela's evaluation of Eddie took around twice that time, partly because of her inexperience in using the Probulator, but mostly because of the time wasted due to Eddie's line of conversation spearing off in random directions.  Even now, as Leela sat entering the final data into the computer, Eddie was still gabbling on.

"Maybe this won't be so bad.  I mean, I'm alive, once I've been to the hospital I'll be healthy, and I'll be livin' in the future!  The world of tomorrow!  It's gonna be great!"

Leela offered a noncommittal grunt in response, and continued to type, all the while wishing she were somewhere else.  At the bottom of a canyon maybe, or with her head in the macrowave...  Meanwhile, Eddie continued with his soliloquy.

"...Think of the possibilities!  No way am I gonna do some crummy job like flippin' burgers again!  This time around I'm gonna be someone who counts.  A doctor, maybe, or a radio talk show host.  Or a spaceship captain!  Yeah, that's it.  I'm gonna be a spaceship captain, fightin' aliens and rescuin' hot alien broads from mad scientists with goatee beards!"

Eddie's train of thought was broken when the computer emitted a harsh buzzing sound.  "What was that?" he asked.

Leela glanced at the job title on the screen.  "Your Permanent Career Assignment, captain" she said, spinning the screen round for Eddie to see.  Upon reading the job title his face fell almost to the floor.


"That's IT?" asked Eddie, shocked.  "THAT'S the job I'm best at?"

Leela nodded.  "If the computer says so, it is."

"The computer's wrong!  It has to be!"

Leela sighed.  "Computers are never wrong," she said, although from the tone of her voice it was clear she didn't believe it herself.

Eddie was exasperated.  "'Computers are never wrong?'  That's a load of crap!  Who the hell told you that?"  From behind him he heard a sharp tapping sound, and he turned to see Terry tapping a poster on the wall.  The picture on the poster was of a computer with a friendly face on the monitor.  The caption beneath the picture read: COMPUTERS ARE NEVER WRONG.

Eddie turned back to Leela, desperation now showing in his features.  "I don't wanna spend the rest of my life flippin' burgers and cleanin' grease traps!  I want somethin' that has a future to it.  Please, give me another job."

Despite how much Eddie had annoyed her that morning, looking into his face now Leela felt a pang of sympathy for the man.  She knew how disappointed she'd felt when she'd been assigned to Applied Cryogenics, even so at least she was in a job where there was some room for advancement.  But anything at a fast food outlet was a dead-end job.  She wanted to be able to give Eddie something with better prospects, but knew that his mediocre Twentieth Century education was nowhere near sufficient to get him into anything better.

She opened a draw in her desk and pulled out the career chip gun.  "I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do," she said, trying to sound firm.  Holding up the gun, she continued, "Now hold out your hand so I can implant your career chip."

All the wind taken out of his sails, Eddie could do nothing but dumbly hold out his hand.  He remained silent while Leela used the computer to find a suitable vacancy for him to fill, then Lou and Terry ushered him out of the office.

Leela watched him leave the room, his head down and his shoulders slumped.  "Welcome to the 'world of tomorrow'," she murmured bitterly to herself.

Her comment caught Terry's ear, and he stroked his chin thoughtfully.  "'Welcome to the world of tomorrow'.  Hmm... I could do something with that..."

*      *      *
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #39 on: 08-09-2006 09:51 »

A little bit of Leela background.  Always good.

Pretty nice update - It's amazing that after 3 years she hasn't ripped Terry's throat out...

"Shut up, Terry."
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