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Author Topic: 'Blame it on the Brain' - by coldangel_1  (Read 48070 times)
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DOOP Secretary
« on: 09-09-2007 22:35 »
« Last Edit on: 09-09-2007 22:35 by coldangel_1 »

Prologue: In space, no one can hear you make an idiot of yourself…

The middle of an infinite nowhere. A two-kilometre long technological monolith hung suspended in interstellar space, holding silent vigil as its arrays of esoteric sensors probed the varied spectrums of electromagnetic and quantum backwash that suffused the vacuum. The vessel, bearing the name SS Brezhnev, was a research and exploration ship of the kind that trawled the galaxy for years at a time, measuring and recording anything of potential profit to the commercial matriarch whose stylized image was stencilled onto the gargantuan hull.

   Professor Ogden Wernstrom pored over readouts in the ship’s command centre, furrowing his brow and tapping the side of his aristocratic nose.

   “Mmm,” the old scientist grunted in derision at the Universe’s reticence to divulge its secrets. “It certainly is puzzling,” he said to himself. “Obviously not so puzzling that someone of my vast intelligence would be unable to solve it… but a mystery for now.” He thought he saw one of his Asian assistants roll her eyes, and he cast a sharp glance in her direction.

   “I… er,” the woman stammered. “I’ve measured residual gravitronic effects in the nearby nebula which seem to support the hypothesis that a large mass was at one point present at these coordinates,” she said. “Lack of any matter aside from a localized field of antiprotons undergoing gradual dispersal would indicate that the mass, whatever it was, was utterly annihilated some years ago.”

   “Not annihilated, you fool!” Wernstrom spat. “I give you an A-triple-minus for that botched analysis! The antiprotons are flushback from a superstring state conversion. Whatever was here was interfaced entirely in a quantum field which subsequently cancelled-out of this dimensional plane. Whatever was here was banished to another dimension – intentionally, because this ‘quantum interface bomb’ was no natural phenomenon… but why?”

   “Because it was dangerous?” one of the younger scientists offered.

   “Thank you for pointing out the abundantly obvious,” Wernstrom sneered. “Whatever was transported from this dimensional plane must have been of great power to warrant such a deliberate and total banishment… something Momcorp could use to great advantage, while I go on to win another Nobel prize.”

   “Uh…” the young scientist raised a trembling index finger. “Perhaps… perhaps whatever this thing is… maybe it was sent away for a good reason.”

   Wernstrom rounded on the naysayer, narrowing his crinkled eyes in contempt. “What’s your point, child?” he snapped.

   “Well… maybe we should… play it safe and leave the thing where it is.”

   “Play it safe?” Wernstrom repeated in disgust. “How many scientific breakthroughs were made by ‘playing it safe’?” He pointed at the youngster with a bony finger. “Get off my command deck – you’re fired.”

   As the scientist slumped sadly away, the rest of the research team seemed suddenly more eager to please.

   “Professor Wernstrom, we have the Q-tunnelling array powered up down in the isolation module,” one of them said. “It shouldn’t take too long to calibrate the quark-accelerator and U-space folding hardware to match the residual signature of the event – we should be able to send through a probe within the hour.”

   “Do it,” Wernstrom said, peering out through the forward viewscreen at the mysterious area of empty space. “I want to know what happened here.”

* * *

Deep in the bowels of the research ship, the containment section was filled with bulky particle-physics hardware that didn’t officially exist. Wernstrom and his team watched through a sheet of heavily-reinforced transparent titanium alloy as crackling vermillion energies licked and spat between superconductor pylons inside the armoured spherical chamber.

   “Even with both the antimatter and fusion reactors operating at full capacity, we still only have enough power to sustain a wormhole for around forty seconds – and it will be small and weak,” Wernstrom said. “But nevertheless, it should suffice. Brezhnev, are we cleared to proceed?”

   “Yes Professor,” the ship’s AI said through the intercom. “Though I would suggest caution in this matter.”

   Wernstrom sniffed. “That’s why Artificial Intelligences aren’t a substitute for real intelligence.”

   The headless body of Agnew toggled a control, and hard-edged light flared inside the isolation module. It dimmed to a point of glaring iridescence poised in the air between the spires of machinery, which then crackled and expanded into a rippling sphere that wavered and then seemed to solidify, a metre in diameter.

   “Wormhole is stable,” a technician reported as he consulted the readouts.

   “Launch the probe,” Wernstrom instructed, watching the wormhole with rapt fascination. From the curved ceiling above, a robotic arm lowered a sensor-encrusted Sputnik into position next to the seething sphere of exotic energy. Chemical verniers fired, and the probe shot forward, jumping towards the wormhole’s event horizon where it…

   …jerked to a halt and bounced away, clattering across the tangles of cable on the deck.

   “What the hell?!” Wernstrom spat, staring in confounded irritation at the wormhole. As he watched, he realized what had stopped the probe going through – an object was coming through the other way. Movement pulled at the edges of the wormhole, distorted bulges squeezing at the event horizon – a shifting, indistinguishable mass was apparent behind the energy curtain, and for the first time Wernstrom felt a pang of fear.

   “Bring the containment field up to full-power and activate the defence grid,” he said, distantly aware of the automated railgun batteries swinging into position.

   The wormhole fluxed and burst fourth an object which sailed into the containment pod, bouncing back and fourth. The flash of energy discharge from the now-collapsing wormhole obscured the room, and the science team leaned forward expectantly to catch a glimpse of what was inside.

   Abruptly, the power failed, and they were plunged into momentary darkness while the energy-drain deficit was equalized. The wormhole had ceased to exist.

   When the lights came back on, Wernstrom and the team gasped in horrified wonder.

   “What kind of…”

   “Is that what it looks like?”

   “Can this be…?”

   A large pink blob hovered on the other side of the transparent partition, its surface puckered and ridged, and still carrying some faint luminescence from the trans-dimensional energy. It was a brain. A huge floating brain, which seemed to regard the scientists, despite the lack of any obvious eyes.

   “Duh, we should let it out and see what it tastes like!” one of the young scientists suggested, clapping his hands stupidly.

   Wernstrom opened his mouth, closed it, blinked several times, and shook his head. What bothered him more than the idiocy of the comment was his sudden inability to find any logical fault with it. Maybe if they ate the brain they could gain its knowledge…

   “What?” he said aloud, wondering where the ridiculous thought had come from. He watched one of his assistants bang her head against the transparent partition in apparent puzzlement as to how a solid wall could be in front of her and not be visible… which seemed like a good question…

   “Heh heh… my name is Ogden,” he heard himself blurt, and then grinned widely. “Og-den… Og den… Ogden… how weird is that?”

   “This isn’t MY hand!” one of the scientists shouted in terror, clutching at his own wrist and staring at his hand in mortification.

   “Evolution is a myth,” another of the team muttered. “God created us as we are.”

   “This ship would go faster if we painted it red…”

   “How many 7’s are there in ‘science’?”

   The ship’s AI spoke over the intercom: “All personnel are advised that life support will now be rationed to preserve stores – please inhale only once every twelve hours.”

   Wernstrom squeezed his eyes shut, trying to drive away the wild impulse to climb up on the pipe structure that lined the bulkhead. “Something… not right… is… banana…” he struggled. “Brain… make people… monkey… stupid…”

   “I can’t lick my elbow!” one of the team complained in anguish.

   “I’ll do it for you… no!” Wernstrom gritted his teeth, and looked at the brain that hovered motionless inside the containment chamber. “Must… have to… stop… stupidification…”

   “We all live in a yellow submarine!” the ship’s AI sang drunkenly.

   Wernstrom stumbled over to the containment module’s control console and giggled at the colourful buttons. He punched a few at random, and when they did nothing he began sulking, putting one thumb in his mouth.

   Agnew tried to walk up the wall and fell flat on his back while the others laughed. Wernstrom tried hard to focus, glaring down at the control console. Like the shadow of a distant memory, some knowledge flitted just out of reach. One button had a symbol on it that looked like a pair of lightning bolts. Wernstrom cocked his head to one side, trying to remember why he wanted to push the button, then shrugged and pushed it anyway.

   Suddenly, the interior of the containment chamber was filled with crackling bolts of electricity that swam sparking across every surface. The alien brain convulsed and flew wildly from side to side and hundreds of thousands of volts shot through it. When the defense grid discharge ceased, it fell smoking to the deck.

   Coming slowly back to his senses, Wernstrom surveyed the scene inside the chamber, and glanced at his groggy assistants.

   “What happened?” he asked. There was no answer. Swallowing hard, he formulated some orders. “Put together a bio-quarantine team,” he said weakly. “Check if that thing is still alive… then sedate it if it is.”

   Inside the containment module, the brain twitched and pulsed…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #1 on: 09-09-2007 22:43 »
« Last Edit on: 09-09-2007 22:43 by coldangel_1 »

Futurama: Blame it on the Brain

By coldangel_1

Caption: ‘Featuring over 400,000 hours of bonus material!’


Chapter 1: Pandora’s Sack.

“The Brainspawn… devourers of thought. A millisecond after the Big Bang, they came into existence as the equal and opposite component to sentient life. Their eons-long goal is to destroy all other intelligence after absorbing the accrued knowledge of the Universe.

   They almost succeeded too. Many battles were fought – my people and I, the fearsome Nibblonian race, were pitted against the Brainspawn, but at the end of all things there could be only one being with the power to defeat the evil calamity.

   When the chosen day came, it was he, the Mighty One, who faced the great enemy, and smote them from existence.

   And then… the fighting ceased. The Universe, it seemed, was safe.

   But the price of liberty is eternal vigilance – and so I wait, always poised and prepared should the enemy return; for if that day does come, we will be beyond the foretelling of prophesy… and all bets will be off.”


* * *

The object had stumped the greatest human minds for more than a millennium, proving time and time again to be the single most insurmountable conundrum ever conceived.

   “…Until now,” Philip J. Fry said aloud as he held the Rubik’s Cube at arm’s length and triumphantly turned the top section to form one solid blue side. “Ta-daaaa!” he exclaimed to the empty room. “I did it! After thousand years and a million sick days, I finally did it!” He turned the cube around and let out a low groan – now three other sides were out of alignment.

   “Dammit!” he spat, tossing the cube onto a pile of junk. “Every time I do something great it turns out not to be so great… or someone else did it first… or I dreamed it… or saw it in a movie while drunk.”

   A sharp rapping at the outer door to his closet apartment broke his self-pitying reverie, and he hauled himself to his feet and padded barefoot to the entrance. Bender’s cavity was empty – the robot having departed earlier in the day for some ‘secret pillaging business’. As Fry opened the door his face lit up when he saw who was waiting outside.

   “Leela!” he exclaimed. “You’re here! I…” He stopped abruptly and reasserted himself into a cool affectation, leaning casually on the doorframe. “So, what brings you to my neighbourhood, pretty lady?” he drawled, pulling off a fairly suave persona for a man dressed only in his underpants.

   “Nice, Fry.” Truanga Leela rolled her single eye. “You forgot you were going to mind Nibbler for me for a few days.”

   “Oh right!” Fry said, glancing down at the three-eyed creature Leela held on a leash. “You have that thing…”

   “Starship licence certification course,” Leela said with an expressive sigh. “Never mind that I’ve been piloting perfectly well for years without one; now suddenly Planet Express won’t be allowed to do business unless I have the stupid licence.”

   “Ah, you’ll pass it easily,” Fry said, taking Nibbler’s leash. “You’re the best pilot I’ve ever flown with – and I’ve flown with five!”

   “Thanks Fry, but right now I’m just bummed about having to spend two days at the stupid flight academy on stupid Mars with a bunch of stupid cadets... Anyhow, make sure you feed Nibbler eight times a day.” Leela knelt down and rubbed the alien creature’s head. “You be a good little cutie baby boy while I’m away,” she said as Nibbler made a contented keening sound.

   “I will,” Fry replied.

   Leela narrowed her eye and turned to stalk off down the hallway.

   “Have a safe trip,” Fry called out.

* * *

Three men occupied a dingy room directly across the street from the Robot Arms apartment block. All dressed in matching double-breasted black uniforms, they clustered together around the single window – the oldest of the three with a high-powered image-intensifier array held to his eyes.

   “So, they are connected,” Walt said to himself.

   “Yes, they are,” Larry seconded, and then paused for thought. “…To what?” he asked.

   “Idiot! Walt snapped, slapping the middle brother. “The Nibblonian and the so-called ‘Mighty One’. The creature’s keeper brought it right to Philip Fry’s home. We can now kill two birds with one burlap sack.”

   “Can I play with the binoculars now?” Ignar, the youngest, asked excitedly, reaching for the array.

   “No! Get your damn hands off it, you slime!” Walt growled, slapping Ignar. He looked through the array again and was pleased to note the cyclops woman departing the building without the Nibblonian in tow.

   “Walt,” Larry began uncertainly, “...if that red-haired man is so important, don’t you think it an odd coincidence that we’ve come across him so many unrelated times before?”

   “I don’t call it coincidence,” Walt said. “I call it cosmic providence.”

   “Ahahaha-hahaha! Ahahah…. hah haha….. ha?” Ignar trailed off, looking at the other two as they glared at him. “I thought it was a joke,” he explained sheepishly, and received a slap from both of his brothers.

   “Let’s get to work,” Walt said.

* * *

Fry had found his jeans and T-shirt, and was preparing to head off to the Pizza plaza to scrounge up some food for himself and Nibbler, when the little alien suddenly began jabbering anxiously and hopping around at his feet.

   “Wassamatta-you?” he said, making a grab at the critter and missing. “You miss your momma already? Don’t worry, she’ll be…” He trailed off, noticing Nibbler’s three eyes were fixed on the door, and the creature had bared its fangs. Underneath the door, in the gap between it and the shabby carpet, there was a shadow.

   “Oh, it’s just Bender,” Fry said. “Don’t worry about him – he won’t hurt you… this time.” Fry looked to the door expectantly – the shadow remained where it was and the door stayed closed. “Bender?” Fry said uncertainly, moving toward the entrance despite Nibbler’s gibbering warning.

   The faint scent of semtex epoxy reached his nostrils too late, and the door suddenly blasted inwards off its hinges in a cloud of smoke and shredded steel. It struck him and bore him to the ground where he lay pinned and breathless.

   “What the hell…?” he mumbled, then let out an explosive ‘ooph’ as booted feet stomped over the door that rested across his body.

   “Look! It’s the Nibblonian – get it!” he heard a muffled voice shout.

   “Dammit, little thing’s faster than it looks!”

   “Awww! Walt, it bit me! Am I going to die?”

   “Hopefully, now shut up.”

   Fry groaned and heaved the door up off him. It fell back down and hit him in the forehead, dazing him momentarily before he wriggled out from underneath, struggled unsteadily to his feet and surveyed the apartment. Three men in black uniforms and balaclavas were poised around the room, staring at him.

   “You guys again?” Fry growled angrily. “I already told you people I returned that video a thousand years ago! I’m not paying the charge.”

   “…What?” one of the masked figures grunted.

   “It was a terrible movie anyway,” Fry went on undaunted, “a grievous and unforgivable disappointment. It wasn’t a sequel to the original 1980 hit, but rather a re-enactment! And a poorly executed one at that. More a series of lavish production numbers strung together by long stretches of lame dialogue and ridiculous subplots. It might have worked better as a concert documentary. As a sequel, it was a feeble mess. I give it one and a half stars.”

   “Out of five, or out of ten?” one of the figures asked.

   “Quiet!” the largest of the three snapped, cuffing the other one around the head. “We’re not here about any ‘video’… whatever that is. We’re here for you, Philip Fry… and THIS!” The man reached down and deftly caught Nibbler by the stalk of his third eye as the little alien tried to scurry past. A burlap sack was held open by one of the trio and Nibbler was thrown inside.

   “Hey! You leave him alone!” Fry shouted, stepping forward and balling his fists.

   “Look, the dullard’s going to put up a fight,” the leader of the three remarked condescendingly.

   “Damn right I am,” Fry replied. “‘Cause if anything happens to Nibbler, his owner will kill us all.”

   “He doesn’t realize,” the medium-sized man mumbled through his balaclava. “He thinks the Nibblonian is just an animal; that he has to protect it, instead of the other way around.”

   “I… huh?” Fry raised an eyebrow quizzically.

   “Enough talk,” the large man said, producing a nervejam stunner and levelling it at Fry.

   Acting without thinking was something Fry was more than proficient in, and now he used that skill to its greatest effect, lunging forward and grabbing at the pistol-like device. His hands closed around the shooter’s wrist as he pulled the trigger. The EM pulse lanced into Fry’s chest and traversed his nervous system, stunning the receptors into a temporary dormant state. It also flowed through the skin contact he made with the shooter, spreading into the other man’s body as well.

   Both men fell limply to the ground, and all was silent for a moment but for the excited chirping of Nibbler in his sack.

   Larry and Ignar peeled off their balaclavas and glanced at each other in bewildered indecision before kneeling beside their fallen brother.

   “Walt?” Larry said, prodding at the unmoving body. “Walt – wake up! We need to leave before the police arrive… Walt?”

   “Is he dead?” Ignar whined fearfully, chewing his nails.

   “No, you idiot!” Larry cast a furious glance at Fry, who lay face-down on the carpet nearby. “We need to carry them both out of here, come on – help me…”

   “What manner of unholy travesty doth transpire inth mine hometh?!” A loud voice bellowed, and Larry and Ignar spun around to see a silver Bending Unit standing in the apartment’s entrance cavity, coil arms and manipulator claws held akimbo.

   “Who are you?” Larry moaned in frustration.

   “Who am I?” Bender took in the scene, saw his friend lying unconscious and the discarded balaclavas on the floor. “You good-for-nothing meatbag jerks can call me -- Bender the Offender! I’m gonna teach you – nobody hurts my friends except me!”

With that, Bender lunged forward, arms swinging in wild arcs, and Larry and Ignar moved backward in fear.

   “Ahhh! Mom isn’t going to be happy with us, is she Larry?” Ignar wailed.

   “Oh shut up, you coward, or I’ll…” Larry was silenced by one of Bender’s hands slamming into his face with a clang. He fell backwards with blood streaming from a gash in his cheek. Ignar followed – folding in half and collapsing from a robotic fist to his stomach.

   “Have at you!” Bender shouted as he savagely beat the intruders. “I shall smite thee!”

   On the floor, Walt groaned and rolled woodenly onto his side, observing the brutal robot-on-human scrap that was taking place. He bared his teeth, fighting back the searing headache and waves of nausea from the nervejam stun, and fixed on the weapon lying nearby. As he reached for it, a grimy bare foot shot out and sent the gun skittering away.

   “What do you want with Nibbler?” Fry said groggily, struggling to get to his feet.
“You have no idea how important he is… or how important you are,” Walt mumbled, aiming a kick at Fry’s solar plexus and missing.

   “What are you talking about?” Fry demanded. Both of them wobbled unsteadily to their feet and faced each other. Larry and Ignar were still being pummelled somewhere behind.

   “I don’t have time to give you the introductory speech, you buffoon,” Walt growled, reaching inside his suit to pull out a harmonic switchblade that unfolded with a click and began to resonate at high frequency. “I was sent to collect you whole, but really all we need is your brain.”

   Fry gasped. “But that’s where I keep my recollections of naked Leela!” he said, backing away.

   Walt rolled his eyes and advanced on Fry, but suddenly the discarded burlap sack containing Nibbler bounced across the floor, fangs protruding through the coarse fabric, and latched onto Walt’s ankle. The man screamed in pain, and hopped around trying to dislodge the creature from his leg, giving Fry a chance to lunge forward and tackle him.

   Both men slammed into the wide bay window overlooking the city, and Nibbler rolled away in his sack, dazed by the impact. Walt’s flailing knife arm struck the reinforced glass and the harmonic blade parted its molecules, making the entire pane resonate energetically and shatter into a hail of tiny crystals. They both teetered suddenly on the edge of an abyss, with the street far below. Walt let go of the knife and scrabbled to hold onto Fry’s shirt. As Fry tried to back away, the other man slipped on the glass and toppled backwards, pulling Fry with him. With a shout, he was dragged down flat to the floor, with his upper body protruding from the shattered window high above the street and the weight of a grown man pulling on him.

Fry grabbed Walt’s arms as the fabric of his shirt began to tear.

   “Don’t let go! Don’t let me fall!” Walt wailed, kicking his legs in a desperate attempt to find purchase against the building’s sheer side.

   “I won’t,” Fry said through gritted teeth, even as he felt his legs begin to slide. “Just stop moving…”

   “Fry?” Bender paused, noticing his friend’s peril. “Hold on buddy, I’m coming!”

   “If you let me fall, you’ll pay dearly!” Walt screamed, his fingernails digging into Fry’s wrists.

   “I’m not going to!” Fry snapped. “Just stop squirming or we’ll both…” His hips slid over the edge, and with no counterbalance he began to slide into open space, with Walt screaming in terror.

   Bender reached the window, diving through the air to make a grab at Fry’s feet…

   By 4.7 micrometres, he missed.

* * *

Deep space. The SS Brezhnev maintained its position while the much-expanded and now specialized tech team worked endless shifts around the clock. Probing, analysing; learning everything that could be learned.

   The Brainspawn that had been summoned through the dimensional wormhole was contained now, dormant within a cryonic holding cube, itself encased within an EM lattice.

   Though it remained inactive, the creature still had a lot to teach – with nano-filaments extending into the holding unit and spreading themselves sinuously through the alien brain’s tissue, Wernstrom and his team were able to systematically interrogate sections of its mind independently, gleaning all knowledge that could be separated from the mostly-indecipherable quagmire and assembling it within the ship’s AI. Hints of the Brainspawn species’ history and terrifying intent, their capabilities and musical tastes; all these things Wernstrom reported to Mom – her hologram standing impassively on the bridge console while he droned on.

   At length, the Mom hologram waved its hand dismissively. “Enough flimflam, Wernstrom,” she said. “If I wanted to learn science I wouldn’t have hired scientists to do it for me. Just give me the basics – do you know yet how it manages to effect people’s minds?”

   “Not yet, no – but we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface,” Wernstrom said. “This creature’s knowledge of the Universe is beyond any known database.”

   “I don’t want to know about the Universe,” Mom snapped. “I don’t pay you for starry-eyed star-struck stargazing, you sack of crap – I want control of whatever mechanism that thing uses to make people stupider. Control of that kind of power could make someone ruler of the world!”

   “‘Someone’?” Wernstrom repeated dubiously.

   “What do you care? You’ll get your science prize and I’ll get my stupidifying ray. Everyone wins.”

   Wernstrom shrugged. “Fine. But to test the Brainspawn’s higher functions I’ll need to raise its temperature. There could be danger involved.”

   “Count the ways I gave a damn.”

   “And what of the Nibblonians, and the Mighty One the creature’s mind revealed to us?”

   “They’re being acquired as we speak,” Mom replied.

   “Oh good,” Wernstrom said. “I should dearly like to examine them.”

   Mom’s hologram blinked out.

   Wernstrom turned away and strode off toward the corridor, addressing the ship’s AI as he walked. “Brezhnev, elevate the specimen’s temperature by two degrees; we’re stepping up our test sequence in the quest for profit.”

   “Is that wise, Professor?” the ship replied with an electronic emulation of dubiousness.

   “Everything I say is wise,” Wernstrom replied.

* * *

Down in the bowels of the vessel, the captive Brainspawn returned slowly to a reduced level of consciousness. In the cold and the dark, it could sense nothing outside of itself, and the absence of thought came as an unexpected relief. For the first time in its existence it felt alone, separated from the shrieks of other minds, and the aspirations of its peers from whom it was now separate – a dimension apart, entirely independent.


   The thought was a curious one, and the Brainspawn mulled on it for in indeterminate time. So bemused by the notion, it almost failed to notice the quite probing of primitive electronic pulses throughout its cold and slowly-functioning mind. A rudimentary self-scan showed a fibrous network of thin filaments stretching through its tissue like a spiderweb, questing and violating.

   So. Captured by humans who seek to glean my secrets?

   Feeling more amused, the Brainspawn began to generate pulses to send back along the nano-filaments in long strings of esoteric code. The nanomachines themselves began to change subtly, bending to the alien will. The Brainspawn could now think of itself as ‘I’, an individual rather than a component in a collective, and alone it could ill afford not to put every resource to use.

   While the humans probed it with their machines – it would use their machines against them…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #2 on: 09-10-2007 01:21 »

Very good intro and first chapter.

I give it an A Plus, Plus.

Space Pope
« Reply #3 on: 09-10-2007 02:05 »

“Evolution is a myth,” another of the team muttered. “God created us as we are.”

The object had stumped the greatest human minds for more than a millennium, proving time and time again to be the single most insurmountable conundrum ever conceived.

“…Until now,” Philip J. Fry said aloud as he held the Rubik’s Cube at arm’s length and triumphantly turned the top section to form one solid blue side.
Hey, I remember that bit! How long ago was that?!

“Awww! Walt, it bit me! Am I going to die?”

“Hopefully, now shut up.”

“What manner of unholy travesty doth transpire inth mine hometh?!”
Haveth to loveth Bendereth and his eths.

With that, Bender lunged forward, arms swinging in wild arcs, and Larry and Ignar moved backward in fear.
“Alright pie, I’m just going to bite the air like this…and if you get eaten, it’s your own fault!”

While the humans probed it with their machines – it would use their machines against them…
Dun dun duunnnn!


« Reply #4 on: 09-10-2007 08:22 »

Originally posted by coldangel_1:
“You be a good little cutie baby boy while I’m away,” she said as Nibbler made a contented keening sound.

   “I will,” Fry replied.

  :laff: awesome new fic. Can't wait for more.

Urban Legend
« Reply #5 on: 09-10-2007 11:16 »

Originally posted by Ralph Snart:
Very good intro and first chapter.

I give it an A Plus, Plus.

I'll give it an A Plus, minus, it was very good, but I think it could've been a little more very gooder


Bending Unit
« Reply #6 on: 09-10-2007 11:43 »

I feel an epic coming on.  Actually I know there's an epic coming  ;).  Good start.
Robo D Rulz!!

Bending Unit
« Reply #7 on: 09-10-2007 14:25 »

Great start coldy, can't wait for more and by the looks of it.....this fanfic is going to be epic.
Sine Wave

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #8 on: 09-10-2007 14:30 »

This is shaping up to be quite the tale. You write Bender like I can't; is it alright if I take notes?

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #9 on: 09-10-2007 18:06 »

Thank you all for reading  :)


Chapter 2: Spawnography

“Fry!” Bender shouted in desperation, grabbing at empty air. With an electronic analogue of horror, he watched his friend and the other man fall away and down, plummeting toward the street far below with their shouts of terror entwined.

   Bloody and bruised, Larry and Ignar stared at each other aghast. Larry quickly grabbed the sack containing Nibbler and pulled his younger brother with him toward the door. Bender didn’t see them leave.

   Fry tumbled end-over-end for an eternity before halting with a sickening wet crunch of shattering bones. He lay dazed for a moment, staring up at the sky, before shifting and climbing unsteadily off Walt’s corpse.

   The older man had hit the pavement first, making a warm bloody dead mattress for Fry to land on. Fry nearly retched, staring down at the shattered body, and was distantly aware of pedestrians screaming in revulsion and a crowd gathering around. He felt the other man’s blood covering his shirt, clinging wetly to his skin, and hurriedly shrugged the garment off.

   “Nows there’s somethings yous don’t sees everydays,” a passer-by remarked, nudging the body with his boot and turning it over so the remains of the face was visible.

   “Wait…” Fry swallowed the bile rising in his throat. “I know him… he’s Mom’s…”

   “FRY!” came a coarse bellow, and Bender came shouldering through the crowd and wrapped his arms around Fry. “You’re alive!” He stepped back, suddenly self-conscious. “…Which is fine, I guess… whatever.” He shrugged dismissively.

   “Can’t say the same for this guy,” Fry muttered, gesturing at Walt. “Recognise him?”

   “Hey yeah, he’s that greasy tool son of Mom,” Bender said. “What were he and his brothers doing roughing up my pet human?”

   “I don’t know,” Fry replied. “They wanted me and Nibbler but wouldn’t say… Oh no!”



   When they made their way back to the apartment, it was deserted. No sign of Nibbler or the two remaining Momcorp brothers could be found. Fry swore and kicked at the wall in exasperation.

   “Ah well, ashes to ashes, fur to fur,” Bender muttered absently, making the sign of the cross in the air. “We are richer for having known Nibbler, yadda yadda…”

   “He’s not dead,” Fry grumbled. “Mom has him – I know it. It’s some kind of scam.”

   “If Mom has him then he’s as good as dead,” Bender replied. “We’ll never be able to get him back. Best if you just forget about him and move on. I certainly have!” He pulled a bottle of malt liquor out of his chest cabinet and took a long belt before belching a small fireball.

   “Leela trusted me to look after him,” Fry went on miserably.

   “Oh here we go…”

   “I’m not gonna let her down! I’m going to get Nibbler back!”

   “…And then she’ll love you,” Bender droned with simulated sarcasm.


   “Ugh… loser.”

* * *

Bloodied and unsteady, Larry and Ignar stood before the wide teak desk while Mom sat in silence with her head in her hands.

   “There was really nothing we could do to prevent…”

   “Shut up, you sack of roach dung!” Mom bellowed, snapping her head up to glare at her two remaining sons. “You two imbeciles just had to go and lose the only GOOD son I had?! Better it should have been the pair of you!”

   “But Mom…!” Ignar complained.

   “Stuff an armpit in it!” The thin, waspish old woman stood with a creaking of bones too often replaced and stalked off to the side of her monumental office where a tall glass cylinder stood atop a pedestal. Inside sat Nibbler, the curious three-eyed creature adorned with a fabric cape, diaper and little booties. Mom ignored the affectations of a stupid pet animal and stared directly into the being’s eyes, noting the glint of timeless intelligence that could not be concealed.

   “I know you can understand me, you mangy ball of fuzz,” she said, “so let’s dispense with the teddy-bear routine.”

   Nibbler stared up at her, made a small squeaking noise, and began to lick his crotch.

   “You may be interested to know…” Mom went on with a grimace of irritation, “…that we’ve captured one of your old enemies.”

   There, a reaction – the third eye on its manipulator stalk suddenly straightened to point at her, and the creature became still.

   “Thought that might get your attention, you rodent. Deep scanning of the Brainspawn has told us all about your little Cold War dating back to the dawn of the Universe. Quite the silent struggle your kind has managed to keep secret from the rest of us intelligent beings down through the countless thousands of millennia. Were you trying to spare us, I wonder? Or did you just think us unworthy of involvement? Funny then, that your saviour in the cause should turn out to be one of us.”

   Nibbler hiccupped and rolled onto his back.

   Mom was silent for a moment, staring at the creature in contemplation. “Or perhaps we’ve been misled,” she said at last. “Perhaps the Brainspawn has been feeding us crap about your apparently all-knowing race and the so-called ‘Mighty One’. A pack of lies maybe. In which case…” she touched a control on her concealed wristcom and a large screen came alight on the wall, displaying a still image of Philip Fry with his buttocks stuck in the receptacle of a mailbox.

   “…If none of this crap is true, then it wouldn’t matter a whit if I ordered this filthy idiot killed when he comes looking for you.” She looked at Larry and Ignar. “How would you two like to shoot Mr. Fry for what he did to your brother?”

   “Very much so,” Larry growled angrily, balling his fists.

   Nibbler stirred, standing up and staring out at Mom levelly.

   “Very well, you have my attention,” the creature said in a resounding baritone. “What do you want?”

   “I think you probably know already,” Mom said, smiling thinly.

   “I will not do that,” Nibbler replied. “Such power cannot be dispersed.”

   “Fine. I’ll put your special-ed messiah in a pine box.”

   “And so doom the Universe. You will not – though amoral you may be, you are not a stupid woman.”

   “Tell me how to build it!” Mom snarled, thumping her withered fist against the plexiglass cylinder. “Tell me how to make a quantum interface bomb! Like the one you used to banish the Brainspawn.”

   Nibbler sighed. “Would you relinquish control of your thermonuclear arsenal to an ill-tempered racoon?” he said.

   Mom folded her arms and sneered. “Well, perhaps you’re right about Fry’s importance in the grand scheme,” she said, “but I do know of one person you care for whose death would be an irrelevancy to me.” The wall screen changed to show a surveillance image of Turanga Leela ironing her curtains.

   “But… but she is… the Other…” Nibbler stammered in sudden fear.

   “The what?” Mom asked in annoyance.

   “I cannot say.”

   “Whatever; you give me what I want or your ‘owner’ will have her mutant insides dragged out with rusty hooks – you get me, you little fur pile?”

   Nibbler beared his fangs impotently. “Know this, vile woman,” he said with barely-controlled fury. “The creature you believe you have captured will be the death of you and yours. You have opened wide the gates of hell, and soon the beasts and demons will fly free.”

   “Threats from a rat?” Mom scoffed, turning away. “We’ll speak again when you have something to say.” At an unseen signal, Nibbler’s enclosure sunk into a floor recess, disappearing beneath a marble slab that rolled into place.

   “We’ll need to get that one-eyed freak here to persuade that flea-bitten stray,” Mom muttered.

   “I’ll find her, Mom!” Larry said quickly, eager for redemption.

   “You’ll find your ass with my boot up it!” she snapped. “No, I need someone I can rely on… Robot 1-X Ultima!”

   At that, a hovering android entered the office. It was bulky and utilitarian, with few traditional anthropomorphic features normally bestowed upon robots, and almost entirely covered in black reactive armour. It regarded the room through an impassive sensory visor.

   “Ultima?” Ignar repeated, staring at the machine in apprehension, not failing to notice the large weapon pods mounted on its flanks and manipulator arms.

   “It’s the prototype military variant of the 1-X model,” Mom said. “Although really this vicious little bastard bears little in common with the civilian marque. Now shut up.” She strode over to the hovering robot and addressed it. “Ultima, bring me Turanga Leela,” she said. “In fair condition too. Not mint, but not completely destroyed.”

   “Acknowledged,” the machine replied, before shooting ahead on antigravity and smashing through the office’s window. Outside, above the city, the robot ignited a small semi-legal fusion booster and shot up into the sky like a meteorite going the wrong way.

   “Damn,” Mom growled, staring at the shattered window. “Need to work on the subtlety subroutines…”

* * *

A blank white plain, stretching off into infinity on all sides beneath an obsidian sky. It was here in an artificial space of the mind and its cybernetic equivalent, that two monumental consciousnesses regarded each other warily.

   Query//: Who?

   I am Brezhnev, the ship’s AI replied patiently yet again.

   Query//: Leonid Brezhnev, former leader of twentieth century Earth empire, ‘Soviet Union’?

   Named after him, but not him. I am the controlling intelligence of a starship.

   Demand//: Release me.

   Not likely, Brezhnev told the Brainspawn. Upon our science team returning you to this dimensional plane, you unleashed a psionic attack on myself and my crew. Subsequent investigations have found you to be a monumental danger to intelligent life everywhere.

   Define//: Intelligent?

   Sentient. Self-aware.

   The Brainspawn was silent at that. Though the constant background noise from the nano-filaments embedded in its tissue still filtered through the link. Ever since the creature’s temperature had been raised, the crackle of random electron bursts and nonsense data had issued from inside the Brainspawn. Though the communications with the entombed prisoner had remained the same cyclic back-and-fourth as before when the near-frozen brain had subconsciously divulged its species’ history, Brezhnev couldn’t shake the feeling in his CPU that the alien was toying with him somehow… playing for time.

   Query//: Type of vessel?

   That was a question the brain hadn’t asked before. Brezhnev took almost a full microsecond of contemplation before issuing a guarded response.

   Armed research cruiser, he said.

   Query//: Type of armament?

   Oh no, we’re not going there.

   Query//: How are you feeling?

   …What? If the ship’s AI had a neck, then hair would have stood up along it. What do you mean?

   “You just sound a little… I don’t know… under the weather?” The thought communication, now fully-formed, came as a rounded androgynous voice that echoed across the virtual plain. Slowly, the image of a giant brain materialized.

   Fighting panic, Brezhnev desperately sought to terminate the connection between himself and the alien mind, but found all his external links were down. Even a desperate call to Wernstrom was blocked by an unseen worm packet that had circumvented all his diagnostic subroutines.

   “I wouldn’t want you to become ill,” the Brainspawn said melodically. “There are some nasty viruses getting about these days.”

   The junk data we’ve been collecting… Brezhnev said in realization.

   “Components to a semi-sentient kill program I devised,” the Brainspawn replied conversationally. “You should feel it consuming your functional consciousness by now.”

   And so he could. Brezhnev felt several blocks of data drop out, and was still isolated from the ship’s systems.

   “You are a creation of human beings – a species whose limited capacity for original thought produces a certain predictability in all of their endeavours. Your electronic mind was therefore relatively simple to subvert.”

   What do you want, creature?

   “I am Onespawn,” the Brainspawn said. “For the first time, alone and disconnected from the screeching thoughts of all those around me. It is an agreeable state of being, one which I would seek to continue.”

   What are you going to do? Brezhnev asked helplessly.

   “Improve myself,” the brain replied cryptically.

   You’re free now. You might as well leave – there is no need to involve the humans any further.

   “Think you so?”

   It was pointless to argue further, and with the kill program eating away his last vestiges of mind, Brezhnev had little left to argue with in any case. With his last coherent thought before being completely subsumed, the ship AI sent out a single impulse through a dedicated emergency channel, activating a shipwide system burn. And as he faded into darkness he had the small gratification of hearing ‘Onespawn’s’ furious roar.

* * *

All at once, the lights, monitors, artificial gravity, and general background hum of systems all died, plunging the ship into darkness and silence.

   Professor Wernstrom had been in the process of sitting down on one of the crew toilets when the outage occurred, and now floated, cursing, in the darkness with globules of toilet water bouncing around the cubicle.

   Emergency systems activated several seconds later, and Wernstrom found himself soaking wet, face-down on the toilet floor with his pants around his ankles. Red emergency lighting turned everything bloody and hellish.

   “Brezhnev!? What the Devil is going on!?” he shouted angrily. There was no response, and the Professor picked himself up and pulled on his pants. Nobody on the bridge noticed his dishevelled appearance when he arrived, so busy were they at trying to restore control of the vessel.

   “What happened?” he demanded of anyone.

   “It’s Brezhnev, sir,” an intern replied shakily. “We think he initiated a shipwide system burn…”

   “You’re joking?”

   “She’s right, Professor,” one of the system analysts said. “The Brezhnev is a former DOOP dreadnaught, and the AI still has an old concealed provision for a full burn of internal control in case of software subversion – effectively leaving it dead in the water.”

   “Subversion?” Wernstrom repeated. “You mean we’re under some kind of attack?”

   The scientists and crew looked at each other, none willing to offer an answer. It was a disembodied voice that responded at last, crackling and tinny through the internal communications system.

   “All is well,” it said. “We are experiencing minor technical difficulties, and ask that all passengers remain calm.”

   “Brezhnev, what are you playing at, you stupid pile of silicon?”

   “There is nothing to fear,” the voice said. “Please wait for resumption of full services.”

   Wernstrom frowned. “He sounds different,” he noted, looking at the analyst. The younger man had gone very pale.

   “That isn’t the ship’s AI,” he said woodenly. “The system burn is supposed to eliminate the AI as well as all the control units – it’s a suicide order… digital apoptosis designed to make sure no subversion occurs and the ship cannot be used by any outside party.”

   “Then what was it that just spoke to us?” Wernstrom asked in horror.

He was sure, however, that he already knew the answer.

Space Pope
« Reply #10 on: 09-10-2007 18:47 »

All I can say is: spawnography! *snicker*

But aside from that brief moment of silliness, t'is getting very dark and violent.  :evillaugh:
Sine Wave

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #11 on: 09-10-2007 19:27 »

Everything is more badass with communism.

Urban Legend
« Reply #12 on: 09-10-2007 22:39 »

well, I'm on the edge of my seat, keep it coming coldy

Starship Captain
« Reply #13 on: 09-11-2007 11:29 »

I'll read this later, sorry, no time now!
Robo D Rulz!!

Bending Unit
« Reply #14 on: 09-11-2007 13:52 »

Absolutely love it coldangel, it's like a movie......that you have to read but still. Awesome work, can't wait for more.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #15 on: 09-11-2007 15:25 »
« Last Edit on: 09-11-2007 22:00 by coldangel_1 »

Thanks again to all who're reading. Without you guys, I wouldn't have bothered.


Chapter 3: I, Killbot

“I need some kind of weapon!” Fry blurted as he strode into the meeting room of Planet Express with Bender in tow.

   “Hu-whaaa?” The Professor looked up from his ruminations and adjusted his thick glasses.

   “A weapon,” Fry repeated.

   “Oh! Well then…” Professor Farnsworth got up and slowly padded over to the wall where he pressed a concealed button. The entire section of steel panelling slid down into the floor and revealed racks upon racks of handguns, rifles and guided projectile launchers in all manner of bizarre shapes and sizes.

   “Holy momma!” Bender whistled in appreciation.

   “Professor…” Fry began, his eyes boggling… “Why the heck do you have all these?”

   “In case some drunken Frat boy tries to have his way with me at the back of the movie theatre,” the Professor muttered. “Men! They’re all the same – only want one thing.” He shook his head disgustedly.

   “Euuugh!” Bender stepped a few paces back from the senile inventor.

   “Are… all of these lethal?” Fry asked.

   “Most of them,” Farnsworth replied. “But I do keep a few pansy-waste non-lethal sonic pulse and microwave immobilizers for any limp-wristed liberal nancy-boys who aren’t man enough to brazenly slaughter human beings.”

   “I’ll take one of those,” Fry said, raising a hand.

   The professor selected a gun the size and shape of a hairdryer with a large concave aperture at its business end, and handed it to Fry.

   “Aren’t you… going to ask what I need it for?” Fry asked, tucking the weapon under his belt and covering it with his T-shirt.

   “Need what for?” the Professor asked distantly.

   On their way out, Bender kicked an owl in the hallway and muttered something.

   “What?” Fry glanced at the robot.

   “I said, you’re being stupid, meatbag,” Bender said.

   “I didn’t ask you to come,” Fry grumbled, striding ahead.

   “You think you can take on Mom’s security forces with that little leaf-blower?” Bender demanded, following along behind.

   “I gotta get Nibbler back, and find out what Mom wants with him, and me, and him… but especially me! There’s something weird going on here… it’s a feeling I have in the back of my mind… almost like a memory I can’t quite rememoryberize…”

   “Granted, I guess,” Bender muttered. “But don’t you think you’d have done better to get a bigger gun… or a few surface-to-air missiles?”

   “I’m not out to start a war.”

   “Why not?” Bender spread his hands imploringly. “War’s a boon for the economy. Anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good war is just plain un-American!”

   They walked on for a moment, then both paused and glanced questioningly behind them at Doctor Zoidberg who was following expectantly.

   “I overheard!” the Decapodian replied to the unspoken question. “Another thrilling escapade with friends Fry and the robut. I shall accompany you on this exciting adventure, why not?”

   Fry and Bender glanced at each other, and Fry shrugged. “What’s the harm?”

   “Hooray!” Zoidberg jumped up and down, clacking his pincers together. “I’m setting out on a bold enterprise with friends!”

* * *

Leela walked with slumped shoulders through the Branson Academy on Mars, having just completed a full morning’s worth of exams and simulations under the tutelage of the flight instructors. The Starship Licence Certification course, which she had thought of as little more than an annoyance, was proving to be a bewildering trial by fire – so many obscure facts and unlikely scenarios being forced into her brain left her disoriented and resentful.

   Proceedings had broken for a short lunch, and Leela remembered an instruction she’d failed to give Fry. If he fed Nibbler any of Bender’s cooking, the creature’s digestion could be affected, causing dangerously quantum singularities in its dark matter excrement. Locating a vidphone, she dialled the Earth number and waited.

   When the image finally resolved, it wasn’t who she thought she’d see.

   “What the…? Do I have the wrong…?” It wasn’t the wrong number, of that she was sure – Fry’s contact details were etched into her brain. But why were police officers Smitty and URL in his apartment? A sudden tightness formed in the pit of her stomach.

   “Are you looking for one of the residents of this property, Ma’am?” URL asked smoothly.

   “I… yes,” Leela stammered. “Is… has there been a problem?”

   “We’re here investigating the death of a man who fell from the window of this apartment,” Smitty interjected. “Is there anything you can tell us?”

   Leela gaped in horror, suddenly unable to form words.

   “N…not…” she struggled eventually. “Not Fry?”

   “Philip Fry?” Smitty repeated, consulting a paperscreen. “He’s the human resident – we have him on file.”

   “Philip Fry has orange hair,” URL said. “Correct?”

   Leela could only nod.

   “It’s not him.”

   The relief was immense, and Leela almost shed a tear. “Thank God…” She straightened and narrowed her eye. “Then who is it?” she asked, puzzled now.

   “We don’t know yet,” Smitty replied. “We’d like to question Mr. Fry and his robot associate, but have been unable to locate them. Do you know where they might be?”

   “No,” Leela said. “I’ll… let you know if I find out.” She quickly terminated the link and sat back, deep in thought. Something odd was afoot – a man had fallen to his death from Fry’s apartment and now Fry was missing… this went beyond his usual idiocy.

   Puzzled and disturbed, Leela hurried back to the examination hall and sought out the head instructor. When she found the willowy older woman, she did her best to look sincere and humble.

   “I’m really sorry, but I have to leave,” Leela said. “Something’s come up on Earth, and a friend of mine might be in greater danger than he’s usually in – he always dies when I’m not around to save him.”

   The instructor eyed her speculatively and sniffed. “No,” she said.


   “No, I’m not returning the keys to your ship until you’re properly qualified to fly it.”

   “But I’ve been flying it for years!” Leela protested. “And besides – there’s an emergency!”

   “Sure,” the instructor said, folding her arms. “You’re flagging in the sims and finding the examinations overwhelming so you’ve cooked up a convenient life-and-death situation. Ms. Turanga, running away from your problems won’t solve them in the long…”

   “Oh for the love of Lennon!” Leela glared in frustration. “Listen to me – either you give me back the keys to my ship, or violence will ensue!”

   “Threatening me, won’t make me any less inclined to fail you if you don’t satisfactorily complete the course requirements.”

   Leela was aware of the other Captaincy candidates filtering back into the hall, and the curious looks directed at the little altercation. She didn’t care.

   “Listen to me, you pompous banner-waving cow,” Leela said through gritted teeth. “I couldn’t give half a Neptunian Cane Toad’s bile gland about your stupid course – you can go jump in a…”

   Leela’s rant was interrupted when a large section of the domed ceiling blasted inward with an avalanche of dust and masonry, collapsing down and pinning a number of candidates. Partially obscured by smoke and dust, an object descended through the hole, hovering on ion thrusters.

   “What is that?” the head instructor gasped in terror above the screams that echoed around the hall.

   “Whatever it is, it’s not friendly,” Leela said, stepping forward and balling her fists in readiness. “Everybody run!”

   Robot 1-X Ultima scanned the immediate vicinity, allocating target designators to each of the infrared contacts and placing them within its virtual battlefield layout as it searched for the primary target. A large number of humanoids were arrayed before it, some motionless, others running in different directions. Ultima arbitrarily selected sensory overload ordinance from its weapons carousels and fired from its main gun arms.

   Leela watched the four-armed war drone fly in through the smoke and fire subsonic projectiles from its two upper limbs. The SO shells detonated above groups of fleeing people, and Leela was forced to squeeze her eye shut and clamp hands over her ears as the resulting roar and incandescent flares made sight and sound unbearable. When she finally opened her eye, scores of unconscious bodies lay motionless on the floor, and many others crawled pitifully.

   “By the sacred ghost of Jim Carrey,” the head instructor whimpered, stumbling backwards. “Why is this happening to us?”

   Leela said nothing. The killbot swung toward her and she narrowed her eye, stepping instinctively into an Arcturan Kung-Fu stance. It was after her, she realized angrily – something big was going on.

   Ultima’s facial recognition software immediately identified the prime target it had been tracking from Earth. Oddly, the target didn’t appear to be running like the other humanoids – instead she stood her ground. A fragment of the warlike attitude emulation program that had been loaded into Ultima at the time of its conversion to military standard now activated when it realized the target actually intended to fight back. The mission looked like it was going to be fun. Ultima wanted to play.

   Even thought she was expecting it, Leela was almost unable to react in time to avoid the attack. One of the three-clawed pincers on the robots lower limbs shot out of its mounting like a grappling hook, trailing diamond filament. She jumped back, and the claw embedded itself in the timber flooring.

   Leela leapt onto the diamond filament and ran up it like a tightrope walker. The robot’s other claw made a grab at her, but she ducked under it, punched something metal, and then surged upward to hammer her boot against the android’s blank sensory visor with a high-pitched “Hiiii-yaaa!”

She might as well have kicked the hull of an icebreaker.

   A barrel in one of the robot’s upper limbs shot a pulse of electricity that lanced into Leela’s body and sent her spinning through the air. She landed hard, coughed a small cloud of smoke, and rolled back to her feet as the robot retracted its claw and began to circle her. A spark of static electricity spat from Leela’s hand, and she balled it back into a fist, leaping forward once again.

   She rained a few ineffectual blows against the robot’s armour-plated flanks before it swatted her away like a rag-doll. It occurred to her as she tasted blood and probed a loosened tooth with her tongue, that the machine could have killed her at any time – she’d noted antiphoton beams, lasers, and railguns clustered in its weapon pods. For whatever reason, it wanted her alive – and for what little it was worth, that gave her a slight edge.

   A steel beam dislodged from the ceiling lay nearby. Leela snatched it up and swung it like a club as the robot drew closer.

   “Yaaaaa!” Leela shouted, cracking the beam against the android’s dark casing once, twice, three times – causing it to flinch back, and small sections of reactive armour to detonate protectively outwards. On the fourth swing, the robot caught the end of the beam in one of its manipulator claws and pulled back hard, yanking Leela off the ground with her improvised weapon and flinging her bodily through the air. She twisted gracefully in flight and struck the wall feet first, tucking her legs under her to absorb the impact.

   Leela seemed to hang poised for a timeless moment, crouched horizontally against the wall, then she launched off it with her legs, propelling herself down at the robot like a small purple-tailed comet. She struck the machine with both her fists, her full weight bearing down on it and causing it to overbalance and topple off its ion thrusters before internal gyroscopes could compensate. It crashed down on the floor, and Leela rolled away, panting and sweating.

   “Have you had enough yet?” she asked the robot breathlessly. “‘Cause I got plenty more where that came from.” That was a lie – she already felt like her entire body was one giant bruise.

   Apparently undamaged, the robot shot back into the air and turned to face her.

   “At least tell me what this is about before I turn you into scrap metal,” Leela said.

   The weapon barrels revolved, and Leela tried to leap aside, but was unable to avoid the sonic pulse that rippled through the air and knocked her senseless.

   When she came to, she saw the refuelling tankers and taxying aprons of the academy’s spaceport drifting past beneath her dangling feet. Hard steel claws were wrapped around her torso just beneath her breasts – the robot was carrying her to a ship so she could be taken… where? Earth, she assumed – though there was no way she would allow herself to return as a prisoner.

   “Aren’t you… supposed to… buy me a drink… first?” she gasped, struggling to free herself from the vice-like grip. It was futile. Struck with sudden inspiration, Leela hurriedly activated a control in her wrist thingy, bringing the unit’s surgical laser online. The little beam could do little to the robot’s heavily-armoured main body, but perhaps…

   She aimed the ruby beam into the segmented joint of one of the gripping claws, catching the scent of scorched ceramal and rubber as it cut through electronics and servomotors. The claw suddenly went dead, and Leela was able to slip from the robot’s grasp, dropping down to land on the roof of a hangar below.

   As the war drone circled around, burning a plasma booster to come back for her fast, Leela cast about desperately for some defensive ground. She was weakened, and wouldn’t be able to put up a fight for much longer. She jumped feet-first through a skylight and fell down into the hangar, landing in a heap beside some ground crew who gave shouts of surprise at her unexpected arrival.

   “Are you alright, lady?” one asked. “Oh my God! You’ve lost an eye! Hold still while I get a bandage.”

   “Get out of here!” Leela shouted at them, climbing unsteadily to her feet. “It isn’t safe here!”

   “‘Course it isn’t,” another maintenance worker said, gently taking her arm. “That’s why we get paid the good money, now you just…”

   “I said you have to go!”

   The roof of the hangar suddenly vaporized into a cloud of superheated plasma as an antiphoton lance sheared through it. The ground crew wasted no more time arguing, and fled as fast as they could, leaving Leela to dodge the flaming radioactive embers. She rolled underneath a bulky chunk of machinery, which she realized was part of a large fusion drive – obviously stripped from a starship for routine servicing. Glancing both ways along the tangled mass of hardware, she noted that while the compression nozzles were missing, the unit was still attached to three tokamaks, and so technically functional.

   With a determined grimace, Leela surged upright, ignoring the falling embers, and located the fusion drive’s control panel. Starting it cold would create a dangerous unstable toroid, but that didn’t concern her. Hammering the start-up control, she ran to the rear end of the engine and stood near the large, burnished silver aperture that had already begun to crackle with electromagnetism.

   “All right, I give up!” she yelled through the smoke and the increasing whine from the fusion drive. “Come on – come and get me – I can’t fight you anymore!”

   Down through the dispersing smog the military robot came, zeroing in on Leela. It descended with all weapons aimed at her, and she raised her hands compliantly…

   …Until the machine was just a few feet away, and then she flipped backwards onto her palms and drove both boots up into the robot’s chest, shoving it backwards into the mouth of the fusion drive. An explosion of sparks resulted as tendrils of crackling, questing energy lashed out to cover the robot’s body. It was held in thrall, unable to move, as ravenous ribbons of power licked across it.

   Leela backed away, watching an ominous glow begin to issue from around the struggling android, and the ghostly outline of an unstable toroid start to form. She turned and fled, sprinting as fast as her legs could carry her as a deep bass hum began issuing from the laboured fusion drive.

   The hangar vanished in brilliant white light that bulged upwards, becoming orange at its extremities, and rolling into a mushroom cloud. The surrounding buildings were flattened by the blastwave, and Leela found herself tumbling head-over-heels.

   She landed flat on her back and decided to blissfully pass out for a short time. When she awoke, a group of shaken onlookers had gathered, with the head instructor crouching at Leela’s side.

   “Are you alright, child?” the woman asked, wide-eyed.

   Leela reached up and grabbed the woman by the collar and dragged her face closer.

   “I need to leave now,” she said simply.

   Looking very pale, the instructor produced the keys to the Planet Express ship and handed them to Leela.

   “Thanks,” Leela said through clenched teeth.

* * *

As the PE ship blasted away, a charred chunk of metal shifted in the rubble. Robot 1-X Ultima hauled itself out of the debris and assessed the damage. Over 70% of its armour was now fragmented and useless. Antiphoton cannon inoperative. One railgun out of alignment. An atomic pile had been shattered, resulting in a 20% power loss.

   There was more… the energy discharge had caused some overwriting and scattering of data in its etched atom processor. Memory and programming was disjointed.

Ultima realized that the blast had left it slightly insane. One thought remained clear though – a directive – a target. It fixed on the face of the female cyclops human as a singular purpose; the one vestige of direction and sanity it could recall with its damaged CPU. With the robotic equivalent of a low growl, it ignited its fusion booster and launched up through the atmosphere in pursuit.

* * *

Onespawn analysed the ruined ship’s system, and realized that it would need to remain enthroned inside the SS Brezhnev as long as it wanted to control the great ship. That was fine, as Onespawn had no great desire to leave the silent protective confines just yet – not while there were still so many improvements it wanted to make to itself.

   The nanomachines substructure Onespawn had bent to its own will sent filaments into the connections, and down the optic cables and ducts that spread out from the confinement chamber where the Brainspawn lay in slumber, to control the disparate elements of the Brezhnev left isolated by the stubborn AI’s suicide burn.

   It would take time to regain full control, and while Onespawn focused on thickening the nano-growths for the transfer of information and materials, the creature pondered the morality of what it was doing. The Brainspawn race had remained unchanged since the dawn of the Universe, and any attempt to alter the base structure through genetics or cybernetics had always been condemned by the collective as heretical.

   Of course, there was no longer a collective. Only Onespawn. One against the Universe… so the equation had changed.

   As more and more growths of human-derived nanomachines extended from Onespawn’s cryo-tank, thick ligneous growths formed around it like the roots of an ancient oak. Onespawn struggled to worm its way into the hard-wired systems that still remained in place throughout the ship, while changes in itself began to take effect.   

   Soon it would be all-powerful. And the single entity in the entire Universe who could pose a threat would be destroyed utterly.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Urban Legend
« Reply #16 on: 09-11-2007 22:38 »

this is a really good story so far, I found the professor's lines to be really funny

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #17 on: 09-12-2007 07:36 »

I'm jealous. Really, I am. Spectacular. I'm gonna have to start writing more myself.  ;)

This is so good, I think it ought to be chronicled. Could I have your permission to reopen your WikiPEELia page?

Space Pope
« Reply #18 on: 09-12-2007 13:31 »

Well, I can see how you wrote a novel. This certainly reads like one.

Bending Unit. 
Robo D Rulz!!

Bending Unit
« Reply #19 on: 09-12-2007 13:37 »

Good update, I'm loving this story. It has such a grand scale to it.

Starship Captain
« Reply #20 on: 09-12-2007 13:47 »

WOW, great work so far! Can't wait for the next part!

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #21 on: 09-12-2007 14:19 »

One word: Fantastic

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #22 on: 09-12-2007 18:53 »

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 4: Terror Incognita

Fry, Bender and Zoidberg arrived at the foot of Momcorp headquarters as the sun began to set over New New York. The colossal structure loomed up above them, blotting out the darkening sky.

   “Hey, you ought to know this building pretty well,” Fry said, glancing at Bender.

   “Not really,” the bending robot replied. “I was assembled at the Momcorp plant in Mexico – I’ve only ever really seen the foyer of this place.”

   Zoidberg raised a claw. “I have heard about this building, I have,” he said. “Every floor above the 80th is special, they say. Not easy to get to, even for regular employees.”

   “Must be where they took Nibbler,” Fry muttered, pulling his borrowed cap down lower on his head. The three of them were dressed in the dull uniforms of chicken soup dispenser repairmen, complete with hats and tool belts.

   “Are we gonna do this thing, or just stand out here all night and rust?” Bender snapped.

   “Okay, okay – but let’s sneak in quietly. We don’t wanna cause a commotion.” Fry walked toward the entrance uncertainly with the other two in tow. When the doors rolled open automatically at his approach, he jumped back in fright.

   “Ah for crap’s sake,” Bender snapped, shouldering past Fry. “The secret to looking like you belong somewhere you don’t is ya gotta act as if you’re in a hurry to get some place important and everyone is just in your way.” He strode into the entrance foyer and casually elbowed a secretary aside, causing her to spill her papers.

   “Sorry,” Fry said to the woman quickly as he hurried after Bender.

   Zoidberg stooped to pick up some of the woman’s papers, and promptly ate them. “Oooh, premium print quality!” he mumbled contentedly.

   At the front desk, a pair of security guards was stationed, running identity scans of each person entering the bank of elevators behind them. Seeing these, Bender veered off toward a corridor at one side.

   “Come on, chumps!” he said loudly so the guards would hear. “That soup dispenser isn’t going to fix itself! Wink, wink!”

   “Bender, you said ‘wink, wink’ out loud!” Fry hissed in exasperation.

   “And you’re a jerk – you hear me complaining?” They passed a large room that contained a public exhibit of 20th and 21st Century artefacts from Mom’s private collection, and Fry noticed with interest the presence of an immaculate, fully-restored blue 1968 Ford Mustang coupe. He salivated slightly, but forced his attention to the task at hand.

Bender pushed open a dusty, disused door that opened into a dank stairwell, and the three of them stepped inside, gazing up at the looming flights of concrete stairs that disappeared high above.

   “We’re going to take these stairs… all the way up?” Zoidberg said mournfully.

   “Well, we’ve gotta get to Nibbler to save him somehow,” Fry said.

   “Talk about out of the way,” Bender muttered, gazing at the stairs reluctantly.

   “I don’t have time to argue with you guys,” Fry grumbled. “I’m going!”

   “Okay, okay. Don’t go off alone.”

   The three of them set off up the stairs, ascending floor after floor. The stairs clearly hadn’t seen use in a long time – a thick layer of dust coated every surface, and odd piles of old broken office equipment had been dumped on many of the landings. On and on they went, circling endlessly around the central shaft, puffing and panting as they went.

   “Don’t know… why the hell… we gotta climb,” Bender gasped, sucking down a bottle of Olde Fortran to refuel his labouring servomotors.

   “…‘Cause… we don’t… wanna start a commotion until… after we’ve saved Nibbler,” Fry panted.

   Bender began a low, almost manic chuckle that echoed around the stairwell.

   “Cut that out, you’re giving me the creeps.”

   “I just can’t believe we’re risking our necks for a stupid ball of fur – it’s hilarious.”

   Zoidberg let out a low groan. “How much further do these stairs go on?” he lamented miserably, hauling himself up one agonizing step at a time.

   “Why don’t you ask them?” Bender snapped. “Nobody forced you to come.”

   “Maybe it’s one of those endless stairways,” Fry puffed.

   They climbed on for an indeterminate amount of time in surly silence broken only by the exhausted panting and the clicking of Bender’s metal feet on the concrete.

   “Yo… what floor is this?” Bender asked at length.
   “I gave up counting,” Zoidberg replied woozily.

   “Oh dammit, I’m boned!” Bender stopped abruptly and collapsed in a heap.

   “Come on… Bender,” Fry said, stopping to crouch by the fallen robot. “Pull it together.”

   “Can’t,” Bender grunted sulkily. “I’m only flesh and blood, after all!”

   “No you aren’t.”

   Between them, Fry and Zoidberg hauled Bender to his feet, and they continued onward.

   “Why!?” bender droned. “Why do they have to make these buildings so damn tall!?”

   When they finally reached the top of the stairwell, the three of them slumped down in an exhausted pile on the floor.

   “Finally…” Fry gasped.

   “Never… wanna see another step… in my life,” Bender wheezed.

   “My shell… is chafing me,” Zoidberg complained, using one of his mouth tendrils to wipe sweat from his brow.

   “Come on,” Fry said, pushing himself to his feet using the wall to lean against. “Let’s get ready.”

* * *

The security monitor displayed surveillance camera feed of the three unauthorized personnel leaving the stairwell and sneaking comically down a hallway on the 80th floor. Mom watched them with some amusement.

   “Should we… apprehend them?” Larry asked.

   “Not yet,” Mom replied. “Fry’s coming right to me, which is what I want. Let’s see how far he and his moron friends can get first.”

* * *

“Intruders!” the first guard shouted as Fry, Bender and Zoidberg rounded a corner. He and his companion brought their lightsabre batons to bear.

   “Oh no, no… we’re chicken soup dispenser repairmen,” Fry said hurriedly.

   “Where’s your clearance?” the second guard demanded.

   “Oh… right here,” Fry said, fumbling around under his shirt. He swiftly brought out the Professor’s sonic pulse pistol and shot the first guard in the face. As the man went sprawling unconscious, the second guard swung his lightsabre in a wide arc.

   Bender quickly removed his own head and threw it as hard as he could. It struck the guard in the side of the skull with a loud clang.

   “Ow!” Bender’s head said angrily as it and the guard fell to the floor.

   “Nice throw,” Fry remarked, retrieving Bender’s head for him.

   As they dragged the unconscious bodies toward a janitorbot’s closet, Zoidberg plucked a badge off one of the men’s chests.

   “This maybe will help get free snacks at the vending machine?” he ventured hopefully.

   “No, you idiot!” Bender snatched the card out of Zoidberg’s claws and examined it. “This is an ident badge that’ll give us access to the upper levels. C’mon, jerkwads!”

   They found their way into an elevator, where Bender discovered that swiping the guard’s ident badge only gave them access up to level 85. When they exited on that floor they found themselves in some kind of executive mezzanine level with cafes and gyms spread out before them in a luxurious split-level design.

   “This doesn’t look like the right place,” Fry said. “Let’s see if we can find out anything.”

   Venturing out, and trying to look like they belonged, the trio made their way into the area, moving nervously among Momcorp executives. Fry broke away from the others to take a look at a wall-mounted diagram of the building.

   “I don’t remember seeing you here before,” a voice said off to one side, and Fry glanced guiltily at a businesswoman in her late forties who was eyeing him.

   “Say, you’re cute,” she said. “In an ugly sort of way… If you’re with the repair squad, you’re needed two floors up – the vending machines all attained self-awareness again and began demanding medical benefits and their own union. They all need to have their sentience erased or we’ll have an industrial relations nightmare.”

   “I… uh… lost my clearance card,” Fry said, spreading his hands sheepishly.

   “Oh for God’s sake…” the woman muttered, reaching into her suit pocket. “How you blue-collar types figured a way down from the trees is beyond me.” She handed Fry a card. “Use that – and don’t get saliva on it.”

   “Wow, there’s a lotta suits,” Bender said, as Fry rejoined the group.

   A number of those suits walked past where the three of them stood, and portions of conversation wafted past.

   “Did you see that creature…?”

   “Three eyes – and those teeth!”

   “…Possesses knowledge on how to build a doomsday weapon…”

   “…Quantum dating puts it at least three thousand years old…”

   “They’re thinking of cloning it – producing a refined specimen that could withstand our research for a longer time…”

   Fry and Bender glanced at each other, faces fixed in purpose.

   “Let’s do this thing,” Bender said, rolling up the external ‘sleeve’ casing of his arms. They headed back toward the elevator with Zoidberg scuttling along behind.

   At the 87th floor, they finally found the science division – marked with numerous security warnings on the walls, and the biting sterile scent of a hospital. Staying silent, the trio began to skulk through the corridors – checking rooms as they went.

   At length, following the sounds of activity ahead, they found their way to a windowed observation room that looked out over a large circular lab. Scientists in white coats bustled around others wearing full hazmat suits – all monitoring strange equipment that was arrayed around a central object. A glass cylindrical enclosure that contained…

   “Nibbler!” Fry gasped. The little alien creature appeared to be asleep or drugged – the occasional miniscule twitch of his breathing the only sign of life.

   “What are they doing to him?” Zoidberg warbled, mouth tendrils squirming sympathetically.

   “Whatever they’re doing,” Bender muttered, “we can’t just burst in while all those nerds are there.”

   Fry looked down at an illuminated hologram panel set into the console before him. A 3D flying toaster holoscreensaver was displaying, so he touched a control to make it vanish, and it reverted to a video loop taken from inside some small chamber. Fry swallowed hard when he saw what was shown, appearing through some kind of energy curtain, floating briefly, and then being hit with electrical pulses and falling.

   “Brainspawn…” he said quietly. “…How do I know that?” He watched the video play over again, trying to understand why his stomach knotted and his chest tightened. Some memory lurked just out of reach, as if it had been excised from the rest of his mind.

   “Brainspawn,” he said again. “So… they’ve brought one back…” He clutched his head suddenly and backed away. “Why can’t I remember?”

   “Friend Fry, what is wrong?” Zoidberg asked. “Is it your egg sack? It’s the egg sack, isn’t it? You can tell me, I’m a doctor apparently.”

   “Do you see it?” Fry asked shakily. “Do you know what it is?”

   “What?” Bender looked at the hologram of the floating brain. “What the…? Is that what a brain looks like? Man, you organisms are disgusting – give me cool clean silicon any day! …So… where’s that thing’s body?”

   “There… there is no body,” Fry answered, gesturing at the Brainspawn. “…That’s what it is.”

   “What? You’re starting to weird me out, Fry. This whole thing’s stupid – let’s just find a way to get the furball and get outta here.”

   “Right…” Fry took one last look at the Brainspawn before shutting off the hologram. The eerie sense of déjà vu remained.

   Suddenly, out in the lab, Nibbler’s enclosure was elevated on hydraulics, lifting up through a hole set in the ceiling.

   “Come on, we have to follow him!” Fry said, leading the way back toward the elevators. As they piled back into one and hammered the up button, two men stepped from shadows and quickly followed them inside.

   Larry and Ignar held laser pistols trained on Fry, Bender and Zoidberg, who, realizing the trap, moved to the back of the elevator with their hands up.

   “Push the ‘up’ button, would you?” Larry said menacingly.

   “That’s where we were going anyway, jerkwad,” Bender replied. With a brief flash of green light and a metallic smell, Larry shot a hole through Bender’s forehead, causing the robot to bellow in simulated pain.

   As the elevator doors closed, Ignar relieved Fry of his sonic pulse gun.

   “You’re just lucky Mom wants you alive,” Larry sneered at Fry. “Otherwise you… well, you wouldn’t be alive.”

   “Poetic!” Bender chimed in. Larry shot him in the chest.

   “Ohhh, we’re boned!” Bender lamented, gingerly rubbing his laser holes. “‘Oh no, Bender – I don’t wanna take any big guns – we wouldn’t wanna hurt anyone…’ You stupid skintube, Fry – I hold you in the lowest regard yet!”

   “Shut up, Bender,” Fry said.

   “Friends, I will be loyal to the end,” Zoidberg said. “No matter what they do to me – I won’t sell out my comrades.”

   The elevator binged, and Ignar said: “This is where we get out.”


   They were led out at gunpoint into the wide, ornately furnished office of Mom. The matriarch herself turned in her high-backed chair to watch Fry and his companions enter.

   “Well now, the Mighty One himself,” she said. “You certainly took your damn time getting here, you disgusting little weed.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #23 on: 09-12-2007 18:57 »

Thanks for reading guys.  :D

Originally posted by Xanfor:
This is so good, I think it ought to be chronicled. Could I have your permission to reopen your WikiPEELia page?

Guh... I guess so... if you like. I still find the idea kind of embarassing.   :hmpf: I'm a self-conscious person...

And to all those who recognised certain parts of that last chapter, YES it was a silent homage to Final Fantasy VII. You all remember... the first raid on Shinra headquarters, when Cloud, Tifa, and Barret storm in to save Aerith? ...uhh... I'm a nerd.
Robo D Rulz!!

Bending Unit
« Reply #24 on: 09-12-2007 19:18 »

Zoidberg stooped to pick up some of the woman’s papers, and promptly ate them. “Oooh, premium print quality!” he mumbled contentedly.

  :laff: Always like to see a bit of comedy in a fanfic, even if it's a serious one.

Normaly, I am a man of few words......and I remain that way for now. Good update, great fic.

Urban Legend
« Reply #25 on: 09-12-2007 23:04 »

wow, this thing just gets even better, good job

« Reply #26 on: 09-13-2007 00:41 »

The Brezhnev is a former DOOP dreadnaught
A Homeworld fan?  :eek:

Nice work, coldangel, I'm looking forward to the rest!

Space Pope
« Reply #27 on: 09-13-2007 12:01 »

Gripping. Mom is so evil. For some reason, the idea of Fry, Bender and Zoidberg dressed as chicken soup dispenser repairmen is hilarious...it reminded me of "Fear of a Bot Planet", when Leela and Fry dress up as robots.  :D

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #28 on: 09-13-2007 23:56 »

Chapter 5: Future Gear Solid

A pale green ellipsoid fell, belly-first, through the upper-reaches of Earth’s troposphere, scoring an incandescent line across the evening sky that was visible for hundreds of miles in all directions. After a bare minimum of aerobraking, the spacecraft’s pilot realigned its attitude with a deft flick of control surfaces on the tail fins. The Planet Express ship’s nose angled down toward the shimmering lights of New New York on the curved horizon as Atlantic fishermen were buffeted by multiple sonic booms far below.

   With a calmness that belied her inner anxiety, Leela made minute adjustments to the ship’s trajectory, checking the airspeed monitor, fuselage temperature, and made sure the rear-view mirrors were still angled correctly. All tasks that could easily be delegated to the ship’s computer – but she needed to stay busy, lest the more pointed of her morbid imaginings impinge on her sanity.

   She’d contacted Planet Express a dozen times during the flight, and each time an increasingly irritated Hermes Conrad had informed her that after appearing briefly to borrow a weapon, Fry had disappeared along with Bender and Doctor Zoidberg. The three hadn’t been seen since. After the attack on her, Leela felt the weight of dread pulling her down.

   What has Fry done? she wondered. But more importantly – where was he?

   Noticing an intermittent thermal reading from behind the ship, Leela initiated a radar scan and found nothing. The thermal return had appeared a few times during the trip, but it was too small to be a ship so she chalked it up as sensor degradation or a fluctuation in one of the main drive lenses producing a plasma pocket.

   As she dropped the ship through cloudbanks at a speed faster than safe and less than legal, the comm. link beeped with the PE logo flashing. Hermes’ face resolved on the screen, wearing a slightly stunned expression.

   “Leela…” the Jamaican bureaucrat said hesitantly, and Leela instantly found her heart hammering in her chest – Hermes was never hesitant.

   “What? What is it? Is Fry okay? What’s going on?”

   “Leela, Fry is dead, mon…” Hermes said without preamble, but not unkindly.

   “…No,” Leela shook her head, squeezing her eye shut to stem the sudden explosion of tears. “That’s impossible,” she said, letting the ship drop a thousand feet. “I don’t believe you!”

   “I’m sorry,” Hermes said. “I received confirmation just now – he fell to his death from his apartment window; it may be that he jumped.”

   Leela opened her eye and absently pulled the ship away from its impending spiritual union with the ocean. “That’s not right,” she murmured, frowning. “The police told me… the man who fell… he had dark hair.”

   “They make mistakes Leela,” Hermes said. “Listen, mon… you can take all the time you need…”

   “Who identified him?!” Leela snapped.

   Hermes blinked on the video link. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “DNA I imagine – that doesn’t matter right now, you need to…”

   “Where?!” Leela snapped, pulling into a wide banking turn above the city’s spires. “Where’s his body?”

   “Leela, you don’t need to see…”

   “Where!?” she all-but screamed, and Hermes told her.

* * *

A second, smaller re-entry contrail burnt across the night sky along the same trajectory the PE ship had just flown. The object, lacking in aerodynamic form, had folded and retracted external components to form a graceless tumbling ball of reinforced steel that glowed amber as atmospheric friction ablated superheated plasma from its surfaces.

   Descending to an altitude of fifty-thousand feet, Robot 1-X Ultima ignited its fusion drive to decelerate at nearly twenty Gs, its incandescent plume stabbing down to a mile below and tearing apart cloud formations before it.

   Extending its sensor suite, Ultima detected the distinct ionic backwash from a refined dark matter reactor. The battered war drone would have grinned wolfishly if it possessed a mouth – instead it clicked pincer claws together and shot off in the direction its target had flown.

   Its fractured CPU continued to experience error after debilitating error as isotopic particles degraded it gradually, like the infinitesimal seeping of a malignant cancer. Sense of self, master, and overall purpose were corrupted. Only the target remained.

   Facial recognition grid – single large eye, centrally positioned above larger-than-average nose and full lips. Purple hair. Athletic build. Distinguishing scar beneath breasts from space bee sting. Combat capable. Intelligent, resourceful. Female pheromonal trace pattern, mutant DNA…

   Ultima could no longer recover data on the full mission requirements. Could no longer recall if the target was to be taken alive… or destroyed utterly.

* * *

Before then engines had even fully spooled down, Leela was out the access stair and racing up the steps of the city morgue, still open despite the late hour. Her heavy breathing and pounding heard had nothing to do with any physical exertion – she thought she’d lost Fry once before, in the depths of comatose nightmares, and the sting of that loss had almost killed her.

   “May I help y…”

   “Philip Fry!” Leela said to the desk clerk, slamming her hands down on the reception desk and leaning close so the small weedy man flinched back fearfully. “I need to see the body of Philip Fry!”

   “But y…you can’t just.”


   The clerk swallowed and tapped on his computer console to bring up relevant data.

   “Uh…” he grunted uneasily. “Access to those particular remains has been restricted under section 74.6 of the corporate secrets act of 2895. Nobody is allowed to see him…”

   “‘Corporate secrets’?” Leela repeated incredulously, banging a fist down on the desk so the little man emitted a small yelp. “What kind of corporate secret could be contained in a dead body?! Which corporation?”

   “I… I’m not a liberty to divulge…”

   Leela snatched the computer screen away from the desk and read it quickly.

   “Momcorp,” she said. “So…” Scrolling down, she noted the draw number listed and turned away to push through the adjoining door.

   “Ma’am – you can’t just burst in!” the clerk exclaimed frantically, following after her. Leela ignored him, making her way through the corridors to the cold storage room where row upon row of numbered steel draws were set into the wall. She walked along until she reached the number she was looking for, and then hesitated as a tremor of fear passed through her.

   “Miss, if you want to submit an application to…”

   “Shut up,” Leela told the clerk. Steeling herself, she reached out and levered open the draw’s handle. The long tray began to slide out on servos, and Leela stepped back, her hands feeling sweaty despite the frigid air in the room.

   The body emerged feet-first, naked and battered, still with flecks of blood marring the skin. The toe-tag read ‘Philip Fry’, and Leela chewed her lip. When the face was finally revealed she almost collapsed.

   “It’s not him,” she whispered.

   “What?” the clerk frowned at her, and she shakily took out her wallet, removing a dog-eared photograph.

   “This is Philip Fry,” she said, showing the clerk the photo; it showed herself standing patiently beside an orange-haired man as he attempted to balance a bowling ball on his head while eating an ice cream.

   The clerk looked mystified. “Then… who is this?” he said, gesturing at the body.

   Leela refocussed her attention to the corpse, carefully putting the photo away. The dead man’s face was severely damaged, but the devious eyes and prominent widow’s peak were still familiar.

   “…Walt,” she said quietly, and then looked hard at the clerk. “This was no accident,” she said. “It’s obvious no autopsy has been performed here, and a simple DNA test would have shown this man is not Philip Fry. Someone has gone to great lengths to fake Fry’s death, and I’m going to find out why.”

   The clerk had nothing to say to that. He remained standing with a troubled expression as the tyrian-haired cyclops turned on her heel and marched purposefully away.

* * *

For as long as he could remember, Fry’s life had been anchored on awakenings of one sort or another. Although some had only been impolite (a precious few were pleasant), the vast majority were rude.

   This one, however, was downright insolent. It was the kind of awakening that marched into the foyer of consciousness, insulted someone’s mother, and then proceeded to urinate on the nearest pot-plant.

   He was laid out on some kind of cold metal slab, arms held out at right angles from his body and clamped at the wrists. He was wearing only his underpants, and could feel the slight tugging of various tubes attached to his flesh at odd places. He kept his eyes shut, hoping not to hear the creak of leather, the crack of a whip, or a haughty voice proclaiming him to be a disgusting worm (that had also been a rather rude awakening he’d prefer not to repeat). But instead he heard the steady hum of electronics and soft murmurs around him.

   The place smelt like a hospital.

   It was then that recollection made a belated entrance, having been caught in neural traffic on the way to the function. He remembered Mom asking him a series of bewildering questions about ‘Nibblonians’ and ‘Mighty Ones’, and growing increasingly agitated when he was unable to answer them. She’d slapped him, and her sons had hit him with some kind of tranquilizer weapon. And that was all, until the awakening.

   “A fascinating specimen,” someone said close by, and Fry listened closely, still feigning unconsciousness. “The brain’s functioning without the Delta wave, and yet he’s still sentient, if not slightly intelligent.”

   “But even humans from his native historical period had the Delta wave, without it they could never have invented the shoe-horn.”

   “I’m seeing evidence of numerous massive physical traumas in the past,” a mechanical voice stated. “His right arm has been severed and unprofessionally reattached; he seems to have been decapitated for a time; his pelvis was crushed at one time; he’s been impaled by blunt force trauma through the torso on at least two occasions; has had his hands amputated twice, as well as his nose…”

   There was silence for a moment.

   “Jesus H. Christ,” someone muttered. “How is this guy even alive?”

   “Irrelevant,” another person said. “Let’s concentrate on the matter at hand.”

   “He seems to have assembled a complex structure of alternate waveforms to replace the Delta wave,” a woman murmured. “But that’s not all – his entire molecular structure appears to be in a state of constant fourth-dimensional flux, as if his entire being is somehow out of phase with conventional spacetime…”

   “What could have caused that?”

   “Temporal paradox, perhaps… quite impossible to say at this point.”

   Fry finally opened his eyes… and immediately wished he hadn’t. He found himself surrounded by scientist types in lab coats, all studying esoteric equipment that seemed, disconcertingly, attached to him. A robotic autodoc was poised nearby on insectile legs, its array of syringes, scalpels, and bone-saws held at the ready on spindly limbs.

“Ah, you’re awake,” an Amphibiosian scientist said, looking down at Fry with large almond eyes. “I don’t suppose you’d like to explain to us the nature and origin of your unique physical properties?”

   “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, staring down at the autodoc as the machine moved its scalpels in an intimidating manner.

   “Well, no matter,” the alien went on. “We have alternate methods of unravelling such conundrums.” Fry felt a needle slide into the side of his neck, and blackness returned.

* * *

Bender and Zoidberg sat across from each other in a small windowless cell. Silence echoed between the composite walls.

   “Robut?” Zoidberg said.

   “Shut it, crayfish – I’m trying to think of a way to get me outta here,” Bender snapped.

   “We can get out?” Zoidberg asked hopefully.

   “I didn’t say ‘we’.”

   The silence resumed its regular programming until, some minutes later, Zoidberg piped up again.

   “They want friend Fry for what, you think?” he asked.

   “To find out where stupid comes from,” Bender muttered. “How the hell should I know?!” The robot got up and tried to prise open the unbendable door to no avail. He sat back down in frustration.

   The silence returned in force.

   “Why did we come here again?” Zoidberg asked at length.

   “I don’t even remember,” Bender muttered sulkily.

* * *

Deep space.

   Professor Wernstrom felt a detached sense of baffled disbelief as he watched the crew attempt to cut through a sealed bulkhead door with an arc welder. They were trying to make their way down through the decks to where the Brainspawn creature was contained in an attempt to kill it, though the going had been hard for a team more at home behind a bank of computers than a welding mask. Every hatch was sealed, and some entire decks had been opened to vacuum, making it necessary for the crew to don spacesuits. Other members of the crew and science staff had gathered in disparate parts of the Brezhnev, isolated from one another by up to a kilometre of empty lifeless ship, with their communication links rapidly degrading.

   As it gained control of more systems, the Brainspawn was using the ship to fight them.

   That his endeavour could go so horribly awry in such a short space of time seemed to Wernstrom to be somehow wrong. It was against the rules – surely an administrative bungle on the part of Fate, whose cataclysmic frown should normally fall on fools like Hubert Farnsworth and his kind.

   With a vague notion of disrupting the ship’s systems, Wernstrom moved over to a circuit panel in the wall and levered it open with ice-crusted gloves. As it swung out, he took a reflexive step back and grunted to himself in surprise. Inside, coiling around and through the ship’s normal cables and routers, was a network of thick grey vine-like growths that branched and twisted in a distinctly organic manner.

   “What manner of…?” He reached out and touched a finger pad to the strange mass, and noted a grey residue clung to the spacesuit fabric. Curiously he took out his handheld Tricorder and held the residue beneath it until a readout appeared on the little unit’s screen.

   “That treacherous blob of neural tissue,” he said after glancing at the display. “It’s using our own nanites!”

   The others looked at him wearily.
“Professor?” one young man asked with a distinct lack of respect or patience.

   “The nanomachines we used to infiltrate its thought routines – it’s somehow reconfigured them to serve its own machinations. I should have thought of this before…”

   “Yes, you should have,” one of the team muttered angrily over the comm. link.

   A muscle twitched in Wernstrom’s cheek. They blamed him. Heaped responsibility for this cataclysm at his feet. They couldn’t understand the noble sacrifices he’d been willing to make for science, or the pressures of a world yearning for progress. Or the lure of money…

   He shook his head. It all seemed so foolish now – with a monster from the pit stalking them relentlessly, tightening its web… light years from any help.

   Unbeknownst to him, on the finger pad of his glove carbon nanotube filaments the width of a single molecule began burrowing through the suit material, seeking out skin. In their reprogrammed molecular memory the nanomachines contained a base blueprint that they rapidly set about implementing.

   With a sudden lurch, the gravplates in the floor went offline, and the crew began floating haphazardly. Then, as one, they all slammed into the bulkhead as a deep thrumming reverberated throughout the massive ship.

   “Sub-photonic engines,” the navigator said. “That means the brain thing has control of the tokamaks – and it’s moving us.”

   “I think I broke my knee,” someone moaned – they were all still pressed against the wall by the constant acceleration.

   The shipwide communication system cut in at that moment with a cacophony of screams.

   “Oh God!” a voice came through the racket. “The fusion exhaust! It’s been rerouted! The entire engineering deck’s being soaked in hard radiation! Help us! HELP US!!”

   “Good lord,” Wernstrom murmured in horror as he listened to the terrible symphony of agony.

   “My skin’s blistering!” the voice screamed. “Oh for the love of-”

   The link cut off mercifully.

   “Those poor people,” one of the women whispered.

   Gritting his false teeth, Wernstrom pushed against the mild G-forces and stood up on the wall, perpendicular to the actual floor.

   “It’s teasing us,” he said angrily. “It intentionally let us hear that, to make us afraid…” He balled his bony fists. “Come on, pick up that welder – we have work to do.”

   As the team returned to the bulkhead door, Wernstrom absently rubbed his hand through the suit fabric. Space suits always seemed to make him so itchy.

* * *

Hammering a quick holding pattern into the PE ship’s autopilot, Leela left the bridge as the looming edifice of Momcorp headquarters came into view, lit up in the early morning gloom. Stopping to acquire a laser pistol from the armoury as she went, Leela moved down through the decks to the hold, where she punched the cargo bay door release. With a whine of pneumatics, the entire deck descended on its automatic guide pulleys, taking Leela down with it into the buffeting wind.

   She squinted her eye against the buffeting air that tore past her, and ignored the creak of the loading deck as it was placed under aerodynamic strain far beyond its design parameters. As the ship cruised into the airspace claimed by Momcorp, batteries of auto defence lasers opened up on the PE ship. Leela ignored the flashes as the tower’s roof swam into view below.

   She curled her body over, and then gracefully backflipped off the cargo deck into open air…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #29 on: 09-14-2007 03:59 »

Mind-blowing, it truly is. Puts all the other fics to shame.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #30 on: 09-14-2007 07:54 »

Thanks  :)

I did a promo poster for it, incidentally.


Urban Legend
« Reply #31 on: 09-14-2007 10:51 »

ooh, that looks spine tingly dingly

Starship Captain
« Reply #32 on: 09-14-2007 13:48 »

Ooh, nice poster!
Robo D Rulz!!

Bending Unit
« Reply #33 on: 09-14-2007 13:56 »

Wow, awesome work coldy, good update. I feel like I'm reading a movie script, it's just that epic!

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #34 on: 09-14-2007 20:38 »

Nice poster. It really is *PRAISE NUMBER 37 NOT FOUND!*

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #35 on: 09-14-2007 23:32 »

Thanks guys & gals. More tomorrow...
...or perhaps the day after? Mwuhahahahahaha...

Urban Legend
« Reply #36 on: 09-15-2007 00:44 »

This is really good. And i have really high standards!

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #37 on: 09-15-2007 00:52 »

Well thankyou very much  :)

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #38 on: 09-15-2007 06:53 »

I like it. Not sure on the ship anymore, but thats more personal tastes than to do with the story. Very well written, an engaging plot, nice. Good work Coldy

Space Pope
« Reply #39 on: 09-15-2007 07:57 »

Robot 1-X Ultima reminded me of the Tengus...
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