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Author Topic: A Different View  (Read 3707 times)
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Space Pope
« on: 09-22-2007 03:30 »
« Last Edit on: 11-30-2007 23:00 »

A Different View

An accident or experiment gone awry in the Professor's lab (I know, cliché) turns Fry in to a woman, and now the newly minted Philippa Fry must spend the next year of her life learning how to deal with her new identity, her all-too-suddenly altered relationship with Leela, and the wider consequences that the accident wrought on the galaxy as a vicious alien race makes its move to crush the DOOP once and for all. Faced with this existential threat the Planet Express crew must make a decision that could change the course of history, and Phillipa and Leela must both choose between feelings for each other that they can barely acknowledge or the fate of the entire human race.


Believe it or not, this is not your classic "gender swap and now the bloke has feelings" fic. Rather this story uses the gender swap as a means to an end instead of making it the entire focus of the fic. Without wanting to sound like a pretentious twat (which is a guarantee that I will sound like a pretentious twat), I wanted to explore how the dynamics of the various relationships would be changed by this sort of sudden, rather fundamental alteration. I realise this goes beyond the usual fare but if you stick with it I think you'll be rewarded.

Dedicated to all you other great writers.

And feedback is always appreciated...        :)

Incidentally, if you don't want to wait for the entire fic to be serialised, or if you want to read it offline or elsewhere, you can download the full story here.


Coming Soon...
All previews rated M, for "May Be A Lie"

Parallel Lives

The door to apartment One I was open when they reached it, and dark within. Leela gingerly pushed the door a little way and peered into the gloom. “Hello?”
She pushed the door a little further and crept in to the room, keeping as quiet as she could in the pervading darkness. Fry followed after, nervously peering into the black. He stopped just beyond the threshold and wrapped his arms around himself. “This isn’t right,” he said quietly, and then peered into the room. He lifted his arm to the wall and felt about for a light-switch. “Why is it so dark in here?”
“I like it that way,” Leela said. And then: “That wasn’t me!”
There was a yell and a loud thump as someone fell to the floor. Fry finally found the lightswitch and slapped it hard, casting the entire room in a bright, unnatural glare that revealed Leela leaning over the prone form of her alter-self. The apartment was as spartan and austere as Leela’s apartment back home but, in contrast to the rest of the world outside, somehow shabbier and less pristine. The ParaLeela herself lay in a heap on the floor, her skin pallid and grey, her muscle-tone almost non-existent, as if she never did anything more demanding than lifting her own weight. Her hair was an almost identical colour to Leela’s, though paler, greyer, like everything else in the world.
She was weeping quietly.
Leela knelt down next to her counterpart and lifted her up onto her knee. “Are you okay?”
“Do I look okay,” altLeela retorted, anger swelling in her voice. She shielded her eye against the brightness of the room and groaned. “Turn the damn light off. I don’t deserve to see it.”
“Now what’s that supposed to mean,” Leela said, propping the other woman upright. She waved Fry over; he knelt down beside them and tried to look supportive, but only managed a pained grimace. Fortunately neither woman noticed. Leela stroked back a strand of the altLeela’s greasy hair and then wiped her fingers on her shirt.
The altLeela inched her eye open and glared at Leela. “You don’t know?”
“Know what?” Leela and Fry both leaned forward, but not too close. Fry had to resist the urge to cover up his mouth and nose. This alternate of Leela stank to high heaven and obviously hadn’t changed her clothes in weeks. She looked away and let out a melancholy giggle.
“You’ve spent your whole life wondering where your species are, haven’t you?”
“Well, yes but-”
“I found out, you know,” altLeela persisted, ignoring Leela’s attempt to speak. She levered herself from Leela’s arms and crawled away across the floor toward a discarded liquor bottle. “I found out where I came from,” she said, uncorking the bottle. Leela gasped as her twin took a deep swig of the liquor. She leaped to her feet and was at altLeela’s side in three strides just as she was settling herself in to the corner of the room.
Leela snatched the bottle from her counterpart. The other Leela looked up at her in confusion and then seemed to resign herself to the lack of alcohol. “You’re just my imagination anyway,” she said, and let her arms flop to the floor. Leela tossed the bottle away and knelt down by her counterpart.
“I know where I came from too,” she said quietly, taking altLeela’s hand. She patted it a couple of times. “It’s not so bad once you get used to the idea.”
“How the hell could you get used to being a... a...”
“Mutant,” Leela finished. She wiped a tear from altLeela’s face and smiled at her.
“I’m a mutant...”
Leela smiled and nodded. “See? It’s not so hard. Besides, if you’ve found that out then you’ve met our parents as well. That has to make up for something, right?”
“I never met my parents,” the other said, her face downcast. She tried to push Leela away but failed, a combination of lack of exercise and alcohol robbing her of all her strength. Leela smiled slightly.
“Well in that case we could go and-”
“I killed them,” she said quietly.


Space Pope
« Reply #1 on: 09-24-2007 10:02 »
« Last Edit on: 11-22-2007 23:00 »

this post is a lie
Sine Wave

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #2 on: 09-24-2007 20:58 »

Different... is an understatement. It was a very good story, I read it all tonight, but, the end just left me feeling sickly. It's probably because I'm coming down with something, and the shipper in me, but other than that it was a very compelling and quite voluminous story.

Space Pope
« Reply #3 on: 09-25-2007 13:23 »

I have to admit, sickly wasn't quite the reaction I'd hoped for...  ;) hope you get over whatever it is you're coming down with.

Delivery Boy
« Reply #4 on: 09-26-2007 12:43 »
« Last Edit on: 09-26-2007 12:43 »

It was certainly 'a different view'. Both the shippy and logical parts of my brain can't see it happening in the show, but it was quite well written and an interesting read. I wouldn't call the ending 'sickly' but never the less it didn't quite sit well with me. I do agree with all of Sine Wave's other comments, though.

I did like the way you stayed well away from the usual gender-change stories, particularly the way you wrote Fry as actually being female, as opposed to a man in a woman's body and doing the whole
thing you mentioned on the other site.

Most of the characters were in character most of the time, but something didn't... I dunno... didn't feel... right. I think it has to do with the general difference in style between you and the Futurama writers. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it did separate this from cannon in my head quite significantly, as opposed to some other fics which you can barely tell appart from it. For various reasons I don't have the time to be more specific right now (sorry about that), but I doubt I could anyway, as I'm not a particularly talented reviewer.
Perhaps someone else could?

One thing which just springs to mind, though:
Then the light came tearing back so suddenly that Fry couldn’t help but cry out in sheer terror ... The cry faded to nothing at the sight of Leela returning to lean over again ... she was afraid. Sudden realisation of the wrongness of everything. Sensations changed, different heat and cool, different weight and balance in limbs and body. The voice. It was wrong too.
“What...” Fry shook in horror at the voice, so terribly high and soft, despite the roughness of days of sleep and dryness. Eyes suddenly filling with tears as a horrible fear settled. “What... happened?”
Such brilliant description!

Over all, a very nice, unique fic and I enjoyed it, despite the clichéd topic. But... yeah... Not something I can put into words. Sorry about not being more specific.     :hmpf:

Space Pope
« Reply #5 on: 09-26-2007 16:49 »

Hi, thanks for the kind words.  :)

I think the issue you have might just be difference in style. I didn't consciously try to be different, but at the same time I didn't specifically force myself to work to a style similar to the show. I am a little envious of writers who can do that so flawlessly.  :) Something to work on, methinks.

Delivery Boy
« Reply #6 on: 09-27-2007 09:53 »

Not being a writer, it's hard for me to be accurate about stuff like this, but I immagine emulating a style would be incredibly difficult. I mention the style thing because it was a fan fic based in a world written in a particular style. For straight fiction, your style is very good as it has plenty of very good description, but not so much that it gets boring!  :p

Bending Unit
« Reply #7 on: 09-28-2007 14:00 »
« Last Edit on: 09-28-2007 14:00 »

I liked this; turning a well-known character to the opposite gender is a well-used idea, but this did a great job with it - well-written, and a good story. Dealing with how Leela and Fry dealt with each other after the change, especially when Fry figured out what her feelings were, was very well done. Even when the Professor was explaining something really technical, he wasn't out of character, which I liked. All in all, a damn good effort. And like a good story, it leaves you wanting more.

Kudos!   :)

Space Pope
« Reply #8 on: 10-27-2007 07:42 »
« Last Edit on: 10-27-2007 07:42 »

A Different View

Graham Dawson


Chapter One - The Deadliest Species (part one)

Blackness, like space.


That was important. Something about stars. And flying. What happened?

Some sort of explosion. A loud crunch and a flash of light.

Light. A scintillating line of it, spreading across the blackness. Eyes opening...

Breathing. A gasp. Blurred figures leaning over the light, black on white, moving shadows blurred...

A hospital room. What happened?

"Fry? You're awake?" A voice speaking out of the darkened light. Familiar, friendly, welcome. A name. "Fry?"

Darkness again. Then light. A hint of purple.

"Fry, I don't quite know how to put this, but there was a bit of an accident. You... you..." a paling shadow leans forward, light-rimmed and filled with a glowing white orb. "Something happened.

"No, don't move. You've lost a lot of weight, the doctors don't quite know what... how to explain it, but they wouldn't would they?

"You're perfectly healthy as far as they can tell, apart from some minor neural trauma. I bet you have a hell of a headache...

"Just lie still for now. You need to rest." The shadow seemed to smile, filling out into a familiar face even as it faded from view.

Darkness again. Sounds and strange lights. Dreams.

Nightmares. A strange, twisted tower of metal and flesh and bone exploding with brilliant blue-white energy. A sense of substance shifting, of the body flying backwards and dissolving. Pain and terror.


Fry woke with a start in a darkened room and for a blind moment squirmed about in panic, overcome by a momentary sense of falling, which passed away into the darkness and was gone.

The bed was strange. Slightly upright, caged by metal guards at each side. Machines blipped and warbled in the twilight, casting tiny flares of red and amber and green across the pillow. The darkness was less than it originally seemed, characteristic of a hospital. Slivers of light cracked between gaps in blinds, slipped under the door, casting odd shadows as people moved past outside in the eternal daylight of their work-world.

Something moved, and Fry tensed with unaccustomed terror. A familiar figure sat hunched in the far corner of the room, curled up on a hard-looking armchair. Fry sat up a little, rustling the bed, and disturbing the sleeping guest. She snorted and looked up, eye bleary from lack of sleep and puffy from something else.

Leela blinked and rubbed her eye. "Oh. You're awake again," she said, pushing herself out of the chair. There was a moment of worry in her eye as Fry's mouth opened. "Don't try to talk, they've put some sort of tube down your throat to help you breath."

A memory. Crunching bone, but not from any impact. Fry sat up further, pulling the sheets up high, and peered at Leela with a quizzical expression. Leela frowned, regarding the sheets and the bed, refusing to meet Fry's look.

She turned and looked away. "Fry, something happened. There was an explosion in the Professor's lab. Do you remember taking him a package?" Fry nodded eagerly. The memory was strong, recent, unblurred. After that... Leela was looking at him again, and seemed to nod at the frown that played across Fry's face. She came and sat on the bed.

"He was working on some new machine, nobody knows quite what it was for, but when it exploded it..." she looked down, not quite meeting Fry's gaze again. "You were changed by the blast. Some sort of, well, nobody's quite sure what it was. An energy beam, maybe something to do with a matter transporter he was working on the other week."


You were changed... Fry felt the blackness closing in again, scrabbled at the tracheal tube that burrowed through skin to tortured lungs, suddenly so short of air. There was a distant cry; Leela trying to stop the action, trying to, to suffocate... changed. What did it mean?


Darkness again for so very long, punctured by moments of bright colour and sound. Is this what a coma feels like? Then the light came tearing back so suddenly that Fry couldn't help but cry out in sheer terror. The tracheal tube was gone, replaced by a soothingly cool bandage, and the machines were silent now. The cry faded to nothing at the sight of Leela returning to lean over again, to comfort and care. Her eye was... she was afraid. Sudden realisation of the wrongness of everything. Sensations changed, different heat and cool, different weight and balance in limbs and body.

The voice. It was wrong too.

"What..." Fry shook in horror at the voice, so terribly high and soft, despite the roughness of days of sleep and dryness. Eyes suddenly filling with tears as a horrible fear settled. "What... happened?"

"You were changed," Leela said stubbornly, refusing to meet Fry's gaze again. Fry reached out to grab her arm and felt that wrongness again, the subtle redistribution of mass and muscle. The vague fear within began to solidify.

"What am I?"

"You're..." Leela stepped back. "The professor thinks his machine somehow tied in to a parallel universe and pulled aspects of it into this one. Changes. Minor things, a proton off course here, a butterfly changing colour there. Little things... but growing larger the closer to the explosion they were.

"That's the only explanation he has, that the explosion pulled the changes from some parallel universe where everything was almost identical, except..."

Fry pushed upright and stared at her, fear and shame starting to mix in equal measure. "Go on." That wrong voice again.

Leela looked down, one hand fiddling with her elbow as she toed the floor with her boot. "You... you're a woman, Fry. You were changed into a woman."

"Oh. Kinky," Fry said. Then she fainted.


Please be a bad dream please be a bad dream...


Fry opened his eyes again, blinking against the harsh-lit ceiling of the hospital room. There was nobody else around, and the machines were still silent. A picture-window opposite the bed let in a shaft of late-morning sun and a view out over New New York harbour, which looked mercifully unchanged. Liberty stood off to the side, maintaining her eternal vigil as she stared across the Atlantic.

Nobody around. Fry grimaced, feeling around the bed and noticing the strange ways his body had changed. Not a dream then. Gentle probing and prodding revealed everything was in approximately the right place, though some bits felt a lot softer than they had. Others felt firmer too. Still others were just gone. Fry let out a pained sigh and gave in, lifting up the sheets. A whimper escaped his... her...

"Awww crap, why did this have to happen to me?" That wrong voice again, resonating inside as if Fry had some distorted version of his-or-her mother crawling around his-or-her brain. Fry peered under the sheets again. There was an odd sensation, an itching at the back of the brain that seemed to be pulling mind and flesh in different directions. "Whatever happens I'm going to need a hell of a lot of counselling after this. Perhaps I'll end up with some nice looking g..." the thought froze on Fry's lips. As a man, women had always been the prime motivator, the first thought on waking and last before going to sleep, at least for him. Suddenly he realised that women held no attraction at all beyond a vague aesthetic appreciation. Fry thought about Amy, tried picturing her naked and could only think about how annoyingly smooth and perfect her skin was. He thought about Leela... something stirred, vague feelings of desire and longing that seemed to fall away even as they rose up, yet without ever quite disappearing.

I almost said guy!

Fry whimpered and pulled the sheets up over his-or-her head. This isn't fair he wanted to scream, but... she didn't care. She suddenly realised that she was perfectly normal to think that way. Confused, relieved and still a little scared, Fry lowered the sheets from... her... head. Memories and thought-patterns that were used to operating as he rebelled at the sudden mental pronoun change and Fry shuddered, unable to really cope with anything. For brief moments the his'n'her identity was completely lost as Fry's mind stumbled and fell flat on its back out of sheer confusion at what had happened. He fell down to the bed, slipping gratefully through the mass of pillows and into a semi-oblivion as mind and will dissolved and were remade.

She sat up. She. Fry looked down, examined her hands and arms carefully, turning them this way and that. Beautiful hands, long-fingered and dexterous, so much more capable in so many ways than before. She could try the holophoner again...

... a moment of ambiguity as desire rose unbidden, tempered by strange associations of companionship and jealousy...

Fry shook her head, shifting the discontinuity of her thoughts and trying to concentrate on now. So.

A woman.

Curiosity took her. She pulled away the sheets, wondering how she would react, and looked down. A blue-green hospital gown greeted her, bulging in odd-yet-right places and not in others. She ran her hands down her legs as she sat forward, felt weight in new places shift ever so slightly, but nothing more. Normal. Another moment of discontinuity as thoughts censored themselves before they could become conscious. Fry shuffled forward and slipped off the end of the bed. There had to be a mirror somewhere.

There was. A three-quarter-length mirror was pinned to the wall by a small closet opposite the door. Fry stood in front of it, turning this way and that, though she tried to ignore her face. Wasn't it about now that all the weird sexy stuff started? She vaguely remembered being attached to Amy and having control of an arm, but...

She pulled the gown tight, trying to get a better idea of her figure. It wasn't too bad considering how he'd treated himself in the past; perky. Petite maybe. Her hips weren't too narrow, her waist wasn't too wide and her breasts weren't the huge, overstuffed back-breakers he'd always fantasised about before. Before. Already memories were self-editing, swapping male and female in her mind, changing the substance of events to match her new self-identity. But nothing, no sense that she should be enjoying this self-examination. Not in the way he would have thought.

Discontinuity again. Fry pinched the bridge of her nose and tried to concentrate on the present. Evidently thinking about the past was too confusing, especially for her. "Still got the brains," she said sadly. At least she wasn't blonde, otherwise she'd have to apply for a stereotype permit.

Finally she allowed herself to look at her face. Her hair was still short, though her long stay in the hospital had left it completely un-styled. It made her look a little boyish, confusingly so, as otherwise her face was quite a picture. Her nose seemed the same, though fortunately suitably feminised, so that it made her characterful rather than ugly. Nothing a quick nose-job wouldn't fix.

The thought came unbidden, and Fry gasped in surprise at her own mental behaviour. Was she really so shallow? She remembered Bender's brief transformation and his behaviour, still essentially male despite everything else. Appealing to his own male ego. A manbot trapped in a fembot's body. Is that what I'll be like? Already she was having doubts. She looked at her hands again, wondering... she was still herself, still Fry, but she was different. Completely different. But would she go that way? Could she live with herself as some sort of parody?

Fry growled at herself in the mirror and, with sudden resolution, yanked at her gown until the straps tore from each other. She tossed it on the floor and glared defiantly at the mirror.

Nothing. She was completely naked, but all she felt was a slight sense of embarrassed shame. Suddenly she shivered; a gust of air had crossed the room, and the light had changed every so slightly. Fry's terror returned and she looked over her shoulder in the mirror.

"Leela?!" Fry ducked and slapped both hands over her crotch. Then realised that wasn't enough and quickly tried to shift her arms, confused. Then...

Leela had her eye closed, her face bright pink. "The autodoc said you were up and about. You, uh... you're..."

"It isn't what you think," Fry said, grabbing her gown from the floor and trying to pull it on again. "Really, it isn't. I know it sounds weird." Success! She jumped back into the bed and pulled the sheets up to her chin. "I wasn't ‘enjoying the view' or any other sarcastic thing you might want to think like that. I... I had to know something. You can open your eye now. I'm decent."

Leela contrived to pull open half her eyelid and peered sideways at Fry. "I should have knocked. If I'd know you were-"

"I wasn't! Whatever you think, I wasn't. I thought I might, y'know, but... Leela, what's happened to me? I tried thinking about Amy and all I got was jealous!"

Leela's face closed up, though she didn't frown or obviously get annoyed. Then Fry realised that she'd actually noticed it; she felt sick to her stomach. It must have shown on her face, too, because suddenly Leela's expression softened. She dropped a small bag on the side unit and sat down on the bed, taking Fry's hand in her own.

"You're probably having hormonal problems," Leela said with an encouraging smile.

"That's not funny, Leela."

"I wasn't joking." Leela patted Fry's hand and smiled again, though a little sorrow flickered behind her eyes. "Your body changed in an instant, but humanoid hormones take weeks to move through their cycles. You're still feeling the effects of that change."

"Is that why I suddenly feel like I want to rip everyone's head off and scream a lot?"

"Uhh... possibly," Leela said. She shuffled down the bed an inch or so before continuing. "The thing is, you have to know that I'm here for you. Amy is here for you... well she was, last time I saw her she was chatting up a doctor, but I'm sure she's really concerned."

"Hah. As if..." Fry frowned, trying to lock down her feelings again. The brief moment of rage and fear had subsided, leaving her with a quiet sort of determination. "Leela, I think... I'm... remember Bender getting a sex change?"

"I do," Leela said, suddenly a little colder. She peered at him. "You're not saying-"

"No. That's the thing, I actually agree with you now. He was... was..." Fry struggled for a word that wasn't insulting. Damn brain. "Wrong, y'know? But I remember thinking he was absolutely right to be that way, which is exactly how I would think. Only now I don't."

"That must be confusing." Leela's face was a picture of sympathy, though tinged with something else. Triumph? Was she gloating? Fry decided to ignore it for now, but she filed the thought away in her mind to stew over later.


Much later, after discovering the box of chocolates in Leela's bag and spending a few hours discussing the finer points of Amy's relationships -

How could she chat up doctors when she was still with Kif?

Gotta be force of habit...

- Fry felt like she was finally coming to terms with the changes the Professor's explosion had wrought. Or at least that's what she was telling herself as the afterglow of the chocolate faded, leaving her in twilight again as night fell. Leela finally left, giving her a friendly peck on the cheek as she went; Fry touched the dry-damp spot with a curious finger after the door shut and was suddenly filled with a terrible sense of loss. Her eyes filled up with momentary tears, that she managed to banish long enough to feel a victory. Fry turned and peered into the bag Leela had left. There was a small book, a potted plant, some underwear (some of which must have been Leela's because it was far too big) and a picture of Leela, Fry and the rest of the crew standing on the Perdido docks on Crozubon Three to watch the sunrise just a few weeks ago, which Fry picked it up and stared at for what seemed like several hours. Then she cried herself to sleep.


The hospital insisted on putting her in a wheelchair, though everyone said she was perfectly healthy. The doctor had been very condescending about it for some reason that Fry just couldn't fathom, and which she was reluctant to put down to anything. Getting into feminism after just a few weeks of being a woman was too much to even consider. Besides... and it felt strangely liberating to think it, he was kind of hot.

Then her mind had rebelled, and she'd spent the next few hours lolling mindlessly in the chair as she was wheeled back to the Planet Express building. Leela and Zoidberg had accompanied her. Zoidberg had managed the discharge, claiming to be her personal physician. They had wanted to keep her in for another week for "observation", but Fry had told Leela that she couldn't spend another day in the hospital.

She was in her right mind again by the time they reached the Planet Express Building, and Fry was glad they'd had the wheelchair when she realised how long she'd been insensate. But, with a determined grimace, she pulled herself from the chair and made her way up the stairs to the employee lounge under her own power, where she collapsed in the couch with a relieved sigh. Her hand reached instinctively for the beers that she knew were propped in a cooler by the side of the couch and she was just finishing the first when Leela came into the room.

"I see some things never change," she said, a wry grin playing across her features. Fry stared at Leela, then at her beer, feeling something but not quite understanding what it was. Perhaps she was just feeling the alcohol. It had been a while.

"I am who I am, Leela," Fry replied after opening another beer.

"I can see that." Leela put her hand on her hip. "Well I guess I'd hoped your change would be more fundamental."

"More fundamental than changing a chromo... sow... mee?" Fry grimaced at her lack of knowledge. "That thing with the genes on it. I can't change who I am Leela, you know that already. Just because I'm different doesn't mean I'm not the same. Or... something."

Leela tittered behind her hand and rolled her eye at Fry. She gave Leela a look. "Okay," Leela eventually said. "You just sit there and get used to being in the real world again. I have to-" Leela was interrupted by the door crashing open. Bender burst into the room, waving a sombrero and a box of cigars.

"Hey there squishy crewmates, I'm back! Did you miss me? Did you miss good old Bender, who was away from you for so long?" He stuffed a cigar into Leela's mouth and lit it before she could protest. "Finest Cuban cigars from New Mexico City! A gift from your pal Bender, who you certainly haven't forgotten during his absence!"

Leela pulled the cigar from her mouth and stubbed it out on Bender's head. "I take it you enjoyed your trip to Tijuana?"

"Did I? Did I!" Bender leaned forward sadly, dropping his ‘gifts' and souvenirs. "I hated it... everything's so different now. They're making cars. Cars! How can I live with myself knowing the place of my birth makes mindless automatons?"

"You'll get over it," Fry said. Bender turned his head very slowly and stared at Fry.

"What..." he leaned toward Leela. "Who's the chick wearing Fry's coat, sitting in Fry's seat and drinking Fry's beer?"

"Bender, I would have preferred a better time to tell you this... there was an accident."

"You mean Fry's dead? I call his locker!" Bender wound up as if to run from the room until Leela put a calming hand on his chestplate. "What?"

"If you'd let me finish." Leela's exasperation was enough to even give Bender pause. "What I was going to say is, that is Fry."

Bender turned to look at Fry again, managing a fairly good approximation of confusion on his otherwise immobile face. He zoomed his eyes in to get a better view. "Are you cracked in the head Leela?" he said after a moment. "I mean, that's a girl. A fembag, or whatever you walking sausages call it. I'm pretty sure Fry's a guy."

Leela let out an exasperated sigh. She grabbed Bender's arm and dragged him to the other side of the room. "Look, there was an accident in the Professor's lab, something zapped Fry and turned him into a girl. If you want details you can ask the Professor later. Right now he, uh, that is she needs some time to adjust."

"I get it. You want understanding and discretion. Well that's easy, I'm twenty-two percent discrete circuits!" Bender thumped his chestplate, sending something rattling around his insides until a few stray chips and components dropped out of his crotchplate. "Ahh... better make that twenty-one point nine percent."

"Just be nice, okay? She still needs to get used to herself."

"Well, I'll try," Bender said, lighting up a cigar. "It might not be easy though. I had us booked in to see a mud-wrestling competition this evening." He paused and blew smoke. Leela stared at him aghast, and tried to splutter a reply. "Oh don't worry your stupid bulgy head, it's all robot."


"I can deal with it Leela. Jeez, you'd think you guys didn't trust me to be mature and responsible." Bender wandered off, leaving Leela with a bemused look on her face. He paused beside Fry, looked her up and down and pulled a beer out of his compartment. "So Fry, want to go out and ogle some hot..."

Fry looked at him, perplexed. She mouthed out what Bender had been saying under her breath and then stared at him again. "No."


Leela stared across the room at the suddenly icy scene and slapped her forehead. "D'oh..."

Bender casually wandered back across the room, heading toward the kitchen. He paused beside Leela. "Well, I blew it again, good old Bender." He seemed to think about what had just passed for a moment. "See ya." And with that he pushed through the kitchen door.

Fry sat up a little, staring at her beer. She looked at Leela. "This stuff tastes like piss. Got any import?"

Professor Farnsworth bumbled across his upstairs lab, which seemed curiously untouched by whatever had happened, and paused by an almost comically oversized computer. He poked a few buttons and mumbled to himself.

Fry watched him from the doorway, afraid to enter the room as vague half-memories tugged at her mind. She watched him pottering between arcane machinery and strange substances in jars and on trays, checking a retort here or a screen there. Finally he stopped and looked at the door.

"Ahh, Fry, you're back in one piece again," he said, shuffling over to the door. Fry tried not to cower back; she almost succeeded. "Hmm, I see you've had a few changes. You remind me of my own dear sister when she was your age, hm'yes. Men would flock for thousands of miles to woo her but she had none of it." Farnsworth stared at Fry again. "Where was I?"

"You weren't, Professor, you'd only said hello."

Farnsworth adjusted his glasses and peered at Fry again. "I had? Well, now. I expect you want to know if you can be changed back, yes?"

"It had crossed my mind." Fry had preferred not to think about it too much. Right now she wasn't quite in a state to make any life-changing decisions, and if she did think about it she might end up... no, stop it Fry, later!

"I'm afraid the process is a little opaque at the moment. Uh..." Farnsworth took out a strange scanning device and began running it over Fry. "The changes are not even at a quantum level. They're at the level of the very fabric of the universe itself, an a material scientists have spent the best part of a thousand years trying to analyse without success. I don't quite understand how it occurred but the accident seems to have swapped aspects of two universes with each other. Presumably some parallel version of me is trying to figure out why you've turned into a man." With that he snapped the machine shut. "It might take years to calculate a way to reverse the change."

"You're saying I'm stuck this way?" Fry looked up at the high windows and blinked away a tear.

"Oh my yes." He adjusted his glasses again and peered at her. "I'm sorry Fry, but the only way I could help is to find out how to measure something that can't be measured."

Fry felt a sudden urge to make a very crude joke. She turned away, shoulders slumped as she sighed. "Thanks for telling me, Professor. Everyone else has tried to be so nice about all of this, but you told me what I needed to hear instead of what I wanted to hear."

Farnsworth looked up from his readouts again. "Wah? Was I talking again?"

"Uh... you... never mind. Thank you Professor."

"Any time miss..."

"It's me Professor. Fry."

"Oh yes. Well, run along Miss Fry, you have a job to do I expect."

Fry nodded and slunk from the room, defeat dragging her shoulders and head toward the floor.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #9 on: 10-27-2007 18:25 »

women held no attraction at all

Hmmm... This doesn't bode well for my pervasive lesbian fantasies. But at an academic level though I'm interested in how you go about tackling the warring concepts of the intellect versus programmed biological drives in the determination of sexuality.
Some people would argue that we're really all bisexual underneath the social conditioning.

Perdido docks on Crozubon Three

Ooooooh, a China Mieville fan? I love his work.

This is shaping up rather nifty-like.

Space Pope
« Reply #10 on: 10-27-2007 18:32 »

I remember when I thought China Mieville was a woman...

Anyway I hope you'll be pleasantly surprised by what comes next. But that's later. I going sleepy now.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #11 on: 10-27-2007 22:35 »

Actually quite a thuggish looking fellow, Mr. Mieville. Looks like someone who'd mug you in broad daylight and probably cut you a little bit so you'd have a few facial scars to remember him by.
Robo D Rulz!!

Bending Unit
« Reply #12 on: 10-28-2007 00:26 »

I must say I like where this fan-fic is going, good writing and an interesting plot idea.

Please, keep it coming Archonix.  :)

Space Pope
« Reply #13 on: 10-28-2007 07:03 »

Chapter One - The Deadliest Species (part two)

Darkness again, but infinitely deeper than night. In the black void between stars something stirred, some stray atom on a course not quite what it would have followed, careening onward as its path diverged from that which should have been...


The starship drifted in the black depths of interstellar space, cast in a deep shadow that was relieved only by its navigation beacons and a few lit ports and windows. Bright floodlights picked out the registration serial DP1792, and the name emblazoned on its basking-shark-like hull. Nimbus.

Off her port-side, some thousands of kilometres distant, a smaller and more agile looking craft coasted to a relative halt facing the Nimbus. Antennae were deployed, smaller craft ejected from both ships in defensive formations. An invisible barrier, a boundary of influence, was established between the two ships as the crews of frigates and corvettes eyed each other across the vast nothing of space.

Formalities dealt with, the ships began to communicate. Carrier signals breached the void, taking routine traffic that slowly built as relationships were established, until finally a video link was opened.

Lieutenant Kroker stared at the figure that appeared on the screen and tried not to cower behind the command chair. The one race his people truly feared, apart from Humans (and that almost entirely because of his captain) were here, facing them, scant kilometres away. A pair of blank-faced slave-crew stood behind the creature.

"I've never seen one so close before," he whispered, and instantly realised his mistake. The Ruklisk on the screen glowered at him through a tangle of impractical spikes and leather, but said nothing. "Uhh... your excellency, most, uh... high... his captainness is, ah, still making his way up to the command deck. I'm sorry for the delay."

"You dare insult us with this display of... of tardiness, you, pathetic green slimething! Find him or I-" the creature was interrupted by the loud clang of the command deck door sliding open. Zapp Branigan, the famed Captain of lore, meandered on to the deck and tugged at his uniform as he sat down.

"Darn belt always getting stuck on the handle. Kif, make a note to the quartermaster, I want all the handles on the heads replaced with something less grabby, and none of your objections this time mister!"



"The screen, sir..." Kif pointed at the Ruklisk was glaring in almost apoplectic rage. What was visible of his mouth seemed to be drawn back in an animalistic rictus, exposing mandibles and impossibly shaped teeth.

Zapp started, grabbed the arms of his chair. He leaned forward to look at the screen. "What in the hell is that thing?"

"Excuse me sir, but that is the Most Excellent Captain-Hunter-Slayer "Die Slowly and Scream While You Do It" of the Ruklisk ship Slagged-brain-juices, sir. He commands the entire Ruklisk second fleet."

"Oh. Oh really. An impressive name." Zapp rubbed his chin, a thoughtful look gracing his allegedly noble features. "This is part of that negotiation we're supposed to be out here for, is it?"

"Yes, sir." Kif risked a glance at the screen. The Ruklisk's spines had folded back, showing his full all-too-hideous face that consisted almost entirely of eyes and mouth, held together by a cadaverous looking stretch of bone and chitin. He seemed perplexed.

"I see. Well this should be easy enough I suppose. What is it you want? And make it snappy, I intend to be at the liberation bombardment on Erabask Three by oh six hundred."

The Ruklisk couldn't frown, but he managed to get the expression across in other ways. "You humans are reputed to be soft and... caring, like that Amphibiosan koslety you have cowering under your arm. You have surprised us, Captain Zapp Brannigan of the Nimbus. You may well be Braw Nichan, as your name suggests."

Zapp leaned toward Kif and raised his eyebrows. Kif sighed. "It means ‘The one who will kill indiscriminately for the fun of it' sir. It's a high compliment in their language."

"Excellent!" Zapp leaned forward. "I declare these negotiations to be started. You will visit our ship, and we can discuss terms."

"Pathetic human, I visit you with hatred!" The screen blanked out. Zapp blinked at the sudden departure of the image and turned to look at Kif again.

"Did I say something wrong?"

"Actually sir, it pains me to say it, but you are perfect to negotiate with these people. He complemented you again."

"This just gets better and better. You see Kif, one day you'll learn that a captain has to be able to adapt himself to any situation. It's obvious High Command chose me for this mission for that precise reason."

Kif sighed again, and thought about the various ways he could disabuse Brannigan of that particular opinion. Bats featured heavily. And a mace. He looked down at the floor. "I... yes, sir."

"Make preparations for the meeting," Brannigan said, standing up. He looked around the command deck with what he probably thought was a commanding air. "Oh and Kif? I'll be taking a bath in fifteen minutes. See everything is in order will you?"


Interstellar space is vast and empty, with an average of about five atoms of hydrogen per cubic light-year, so far apart that they might never come in contact with another particle before the end of the universe itself. Of course, averages being what they are, and the universe being what it is, the universal average can be completely unrelated to the local conditions, so that a single volume of space could have a vast cloud of hydrogen dense enough to allow interactions to take place in days rather than millenia. Rare, but not unknown.

In such a cloud a single atom moving in a particular direction can set off a chain reaction, scattering more atoms, until a wave is formed, casting forth more hydrogen at its crest. Chaos being what it is, the wave could dissipate or it could strengthen entirely through Brownian motions. Rarer still. But when a single atom has suddenly strayed from its course for no reason, the rare might suddenly become commonplace...


Zapp stepped out of his bath and waited for Lieutenant Kroker to wrap a towel around his waist. The little creature seemed to be scared of his very manly nature, presumably because he was so very pathetic, but that didn't worry Zapp; he knew what he was amazing, and it was right that the wimpiest and most pathetic of his crew acknowledged that. It put them in their place.

"Kif, remind me when our guests are arriving."

"Half an hour sir," the green-skinned alien said, slouching his shoulders even further at the sound of Zapp's voice. "The Captain-Hunter-Slayer will arrive first to ritually slaughter several of the crew, and then his delegation will follow on a second shuttle.

"Ahh, leading from the front, an admirable trait."

"Like you'd know sir..."

"What was that?" Zapp growled as he leaned over his Lieutenant. If it had been an insult it was an unaccustomed show of spine. Kif cowered and seemed to collapse in on himself.

"Nothing, sir. I was just clearing my throat." Kif sighed heavily. "You may be glad to know that the Ruklisk have made allowance for the fact that our crews don't like to die without reason, so they'll forgo the ritual slaughter when the Captain arrives this time. They are under the impression that it's an accounting thing."

"Accounting? What are they, bankers?"

"Actually sir..."

"Never mind, bring out my dress uniform, the one with the extra medals. We shall await them on the command deck."


The strange plasmatic wave had travelled for almost a month before it reached the same volume of space as the Nimbus and the Ruklisk vessel, just motes against the black canvas of space from the perspective of the wavefront. It carried on, exotic and dangerous, by sheer chance aimed directly at the DOOP starship.


"The first Ruklisk vessel is aboard now, sir," an ensign called from the comms console. Zapp nodded, stern and commanding for perhaps the first time in his life. He turned to leave the command deck and made his way down to the main hangar.


Outrigger engines on any craft are always vulnerable, protruding well beyond the bulk of the ship and dangerously close to whatever shielding that ship might have. Sometimes they have their own shields, but what use are they when they're switched off?

The hydrogen cloud had coalesced into a plasma now, hot and fast, trailing a faintly glowing string of quarks and strange matter in its wake. The Nimbus loomed across its trajectory, her starboard engine straddling the plasma-sphere's path like a closed gate.


Zapp and Kiff entered the hangar bay adjunct just before the Captain-Hunter-Slayer, who was waving a ceremonial slaughtering knife at the nervous guards and laughing maniacally. A small diplomatic corps team stood off to one side of the room. Cowered, more like. Only Zapp seemed undeterred by the mad alien and his weapon. He squared his shoulders and walked toward the Ruklisk, raising his DOOP ceremonial sword in salute.

The Ruklisk's eyes glinted. "So, human, do you know of the game of klatikh?"

Zapp's stride faltered. He glanced toward the diplomats, who seemed even more worried at the mention of the word. "Kla...tick?"

"It is best rendered as ‘The game where two combatants poke each other with sharp things until one gives up and runs away to die,' Kif offered from behind a chair. His hands tightened their grip on the back of the seat.

"Ahh." Zapp's sword wobbled. Sweat began to bead his brow.

"What is the matter, human. Are you not Braw Nichan?"


An ashen-faced ensign noticed the plasma wave only a moment before it impacted the engine. He didn't even have time to sound general quarters. The super-heated elemental gas splashed against the hull of the Nimbus, swinging her gently to port, doing very little visible damage but sending spears of high-energy radiation down into the engine's core. The mechanisms reacted, performing the mechanical equivalent of a tickly cough. A burp of thrust knocked the ship into a small spin, for which the Nimbus' guidance computers took almost a second to compensate before she steadied again. A hundred systems suffered minor malfunctions that cascaded through the ship. Life support vented odorous but non-toxic gas into the galley, all the lights on deck seventeen went out, whilst those on deck eleven turned a lurid pink. Deck five suddenly smelled of elderberries. The ship's artificial gravity fluttered for a moment....


The deck lurched beneath their feet, sending the guards staggering. Kif leapt for the floor, whilst the Ruklisk, quadrupedal, stayed rock-steady against the shifting gravity field. Zapp waved his arms around wildly to try and maintain his balance. He slipped forward, his sword-hand dipping. The blade impacted just below the Ruklisk's heart, piercing his secondary lungs and spleen. A gout of bright orange blood shot across Zapp's face and he cried out in terror. The diplomatic corps ran screaming from the room.

For a moment there was silence. Then the general quarters alarm sounded, prompting the guards to suddenly decide they were needed elsewhere. They abandoned the room and ran for their duty posts.

Kif risked a peek. Zapp was still poised in a classic striking pose, the sword embedded up to half its length in what passed for the Ruklisk's chest. Orange ichor and strange fluids dripped from the wound.

The Ruklisk began to laugh. He continued laughing as he pulled the sword from his chest and tossed it aside. "You win, human. You win! A killing blow so early. You are truly Braw Nichan! We concede to all of your demands on the condition that we are allowed to maintain a presence around Eridani.

"You fight well, Braw Nichan," the Ruklisk said, his voice gurgling a little as fluid began to fill his lungs. He patted a clawed, grasping hand against Zapp's shoulder. Zapp was slowly pulling himself back to a normal stance, though his face was a mask of terror and shock, and paled at the alien touch. "You send back your diplomats, and I send our negotiators. They will sort details."

Still laughing, the Captain-Hunter-Slayer turned, retrieved the sword and passed it back to a shivering Zapp, along with his knife. "You keep this knife, Braw Nichan. You remember your victory. And mine, as I go to my honourable death." He turned and stomped from the adjunct, trailing blood across the floor, and returned to his ship, which departed a moment later.

Zapp stared at the blood on his hands and whimpered.

"Sir?" Kif stood up, dusting himself down. He tugged at Zapp's sleeve. "Sir, are you sure that was wise?"

"I... stabbed... it..."

"Sir, the Eridani system-"

"I won!" Zapp tossed the sword aside and held out the Ruklisk knife, a terrible curved blade, devoid of any decoration. A killing blade. "I won us a victory, and I didn't even have to send men to die for it?"

"Yes, it's something of a first," Kif said before an exaggerated sigh. He tried to catch Zapp's eye. "But sir, it might not be the victory-"

"I got us our concessions didn't I? What's at Eridani anyway? Just a colony planet and a few gas mines, it's nothing!"

"It gives them a strategic base less than thirty light-years from earth sir."

"Nonsense, they didn't talk about a base, just a ‘presence'." Zapp held up the knife again. "I think I'll get this framed. Kif, call out the carpenter."

"We don't have one sir. Now, Erid-"

"No carpenter? But this is a man-o-war!" Zapp gripped the knife's handle. He looked at the orange mes on the floor. "There has to be at least one member of this crew that can turn a lathe. Find him, and get him to make me a frame for this gift."

"I..." Kif knew better than to argue. He could probably find a presentation box in the stores somewhere. "I'll see what I can do sir. But please, listen to me. The Ruklisk-"

"Are now our allies, Lieutenant. Don't you see what we have won today? Our implacable foe, brought low by the great and humble Captain of the Nimbus. Ohh they might give me more medals for this one Kif. A promotion even. Commodore Brannigan..." Zapp drifted off across the room, oblivious to the gore dripping down his front. "No, Admiral Zapp Brannigan at your service sir. Why yes, I was responsible for the negotiations with the Ruklisk. Your daughter you say?"

Kif had known far all his life in a low-level sort of way. Daily terror at the thought of Zapp going over the edge and actually becoming even less competent than he already was haunted him, but that was nothing compared to what he felt now. He glanced at the deck, making a note to have a yeoman clean it up, and made his way up to the command deck, his heart now dreading the brave new future.

Fate, he mused, was a capricious creature. If the ship hadn't suffered its apparent malfunction, Zapp would probably be nursing a few scratches, or might even be seriously wounded and blessedly unable to command anything for a few weeks. The Ruklisk would probably be drawing back to prepare for another century of cold war. Now they were allies? Kif had a hard time believing it would last.


Night in New New York was bright and dark at the same time, or a darkness enhanced by the studding of garish advertising and signage that cluttered the streets at every level, enticing pedestrians with porn, booze, book-reading festivals - oddly popular these days - and religion of every stroke. Fry wandered past it all, trying to make sense of her newly re-arranged priorities. The lustre everything had held for the old Fry seemed to pale and wash away as she came close to her old haunts. The bars she hung out in had a different feel to them. Men, and a few women, looked at her in a different way as she entered and left. Once or twice she tried wiggling her hips our pouting a little to see what the reaction would be, but after the first few jeers and cat-calls it became boring, and more than a little disturbing in some cases. She didn't bother advertising herself after that.

Not everything about her had changed. Book-reading still didn't appeal, as much as she tried to force herself to consider it, and the bars, despite all the new problems, were still a good place to hang out and get drunk.

Fry found she missed some of the other entertainment, but in an abstract sort of way. A distant, nostalgic way, like you'd miss an old book or an worn out pair of pants. They held almost no attraction at all now.

She wandered the streets of the city until the night was deep and the crowds began to thin out. An address rested in her pocket, a large warehouse near the docks. With a bravado she didn't quite feel, perhaps some sort of hormonal remnant filtering out of her body, Fry stepped across the street to the warehouse entrance.

A burly man in a rough coat leaned on the wall by the door, sharing a cigarette with a low class hookerbot. They straightened up as Fry approached. The man pulled at his coat and winked at her. "What do yous want in this part of town lady," he said with a cheeky, and somewhat leery smile.

"I'm here for the bout," Fry said, glancing at the hookerbot, who seemed to be holding her arms in a peculiar fashion. She took out the scrap of paper and held it up in front of the man's nose. "Bender Rodriguez's party."

"Rodriguez you says? Good robot family, don't knows whats they would be doing in heres." The man scratched his nose and looked over the paper, pausing now and then to run his finger along the bigger words. He nodded at the hookerbot and stepped aside, pulling the warehouse door open a fraction. Darkness filled the void behind the door. "Enjoys your visit miss," he said, waving Fry inside. The door closed, plunging Fry into a darkness so deep she could almost believe she was back in her coma again. But then another door cracked open, casting a bright yellow light in the gloom, and accompanied by a loud, continuous roar and the sound of revving engines.

Fry edged toward the light and the door, which opened on to a huge arena pit sunk into the floor of the warehouse. Tiers of seats lined the pit and crawled up the walls of the arena thirty high or more, and were filled to the top with people of all shapes and sizes, mostly robots, with humans and then a few of the more exotic aliens in amongst them. In the central pit a pair of battle-bots, modified to have a superficial resemblance to the female form, scrambled across a slick of oil almost three feet deep to grapple clumsily for the crowd.

Fry spotted Bender almost instantly, standing up about half way up the tiered seats, right on the centre-line of the pit itself, where presumably he could get the best view. She briefly wondered how he'd managed to score such good seats, then realised she probably didn't want to know.

Fry pushed and jostled through the crowd, conscious of the body she was still getting used to in some ways. She got close to Bender and saw he was surrounded by hookerbots and hangers-on - somehow, he was making it big tonight. She didn't know how, or why, but he was. This worried Fry for some reason. She always remembered him as being a bit of an ambitious loser. Perhaps he was just having a run of good luck.

"Fry!" Bender waved to her, gold rings glinting on his fingers. It was like him to be so ostentatious whenever he got the chance. Fry pushed her way past the last of the crowd and stumbled to a halt beside Bender. "You made it then?"

"No, you're just imagining I'm here," Fry said sarcastically. She suddenly felt very tired. Bender motioned for her to an upholstered seat to his right, before clunking down in his own seat. He took out a cigar.

"Mind if I smoke?"

"Go right ahead." Fry frowned. "Wait, you've never asked before."

"You've never been a woman before," Bender replied. He leaned back and blew a few smoke-rings. "So what do we call you now? Just out of interest you understand, I mean, you'll have to get new birth certificates and everything so it all has to be in order..."

Fry folded her arms and glared at him. "You are not going to get anywhere near my papers, Bender, I have a credit rating to think about. It was bad enough when you faked the Professor's social security details to get that car."

"Yeah, well-"

"Which you then proceeded to lose in the bay!"

"But... but it was fun!" Bender whined. He sagged, or did the best robot equivalent, and shook his head. "Fry, you've changed. And not just in the interesting physical way either. You're... different."

Fry realised how tense she had become and tried to let herself relax. Man. She was fast turning into a real bitch. "I'm sorry Bender, it's... hard, adjusting to all of this. You're right, it was fun."

They sat back and watched the muddy pit for a while. The battle-bots clashed again, grunting with anachronistically feminine voices as gouts of oily mud shot into the air. Somewhere under the stands, outside the arena, Fry could hear powerful engines revving and robot voices shouting to each other over the noise. The silence between them lengthened as the battle was fought to something like a stalemate.

"Philippa," she said eventually. Fry turned to look at Bender, who seemed to be unusually interested in his cigar. "I mean, it's practically the same name anyway."

"Easy enough to change I guess," Bender said. He drew on the stub of his cigar and then tossed it into the ring, before pulling a new one from his chest compartment and lighting it in a single fluid motion. "Philippa J Fry. Kinda neat."

"H'yeah..." Fry smiled at the name. It felt adventurous, but safe at the same time.

"You just decided that now huh? I suppose Leela didn't have anything to do with it?"

"Nothing." Newly minted Philippa Fry shook her head and stared at the pit. Leela. She was... "Bender-"

"Quiet, they're starting the next round." Bender sat back as the two fembattlebots advanced on each other again, now holding large overstuffed pillows. "Oh man this is the best bit. They hit each other with those giant pillows, and the feathers go everywhere!"

"That's... great."

"Come on Fry, even humans enjoy this bit. You used to love it!"

Fry peered at her feet and cast her mind back to him. He had enjoyed it. Now, she found it amusing, but distantly so. Weren't women supposed to be the emotional ones? "I... can't..."

"Fry, you have changed." Bender stubbed out his cigar and swallowed it. He gave Fry a worried look. "You aren't going to tell me it's degrading to watch this are you? I'd hate that."

"I wasn't," Fry said. She put her hand on Bender's stumpy claw and smiled at him. "I just don't know if I'll enjoy it as much as I used to."

Bender coughed up his cigar and lit up again with a loud sigh. "That's so sad. Go for it baby, hit her again!" The crowd roared their approval as a torrent of feathers shot across the arena, burying one of the combatants in an implausibly fluffy pile. The feathers stuck fast to the slick coating of oil on both battlebots.

Fry giggled to herself at the sight of the robots, which were now trying to hold on to each other for support on the slippery ground. She turned to Bender again. "Oh, it's not so bad surely? Having a female friend has to have some advantages?"

"The only advantages I can see would be if I could film you and Amy making out." Bender turned his head very slowly toward Fry. "People pay a lot of money for that sort of thing."

Fry gaped at Bender. The old Fry would have jumped at the chance - though Bender wouldn't have wanted to film that. Now? "Absolutely not!" The force of her own reply shocked her; but it was nothing to what she said next. "I'm not a lesbian."

Bender's eyes rattled in their sockets. "The Fry I know would never have missed an opportunity to make out with a girl like Amy. You... you are Fry, aren't you?"

Fry nodded mutely. Even when she'd felt a momentary crush on the doctor outside the hospital she'd figured it was just a thing - she'd had similar feelings for almost an entire hour in high-school once, thanks to raging hormones and the mistaken swapping of a Dr Pepper for a Coke - but this was something completely different. I'm not attracted to women at all! The change was more profound than she'd thought. She was a woman. Not a man in a woman's body. Not a freak. A woman, and memories be damned.

Bender watched her impassively, smoke trailing from the seam of his mouth as he neglected to exhale. Fry couldn't lock down her feelings again. Something welled up inside her, a strange sort of fearful dread of what she had become and what she had lost. "Oh god... I think... I think I'm going to cry..."

"What, now?" Bender stood up in a panic. He grabbed Fry by her collar and dragged her from the stalls. "I'm not letting a woman-friend of mine be seen crying in public. Think of the damage to my reputation!"

"What reputation?" Fry sniffed, rubbing her watery eyes as she almost flew over the seats, trailing behind Bender like a cometary tail. Bender turned and seemed to grimace at her.

"Cutting remarks too. This is worse than I thought."

Fry sobbed without knowing why, though by the time they reached the arena doors she felt a little better. Perhaps some fresh air would help. Bender kicked the door aside and unceremoniously deposited Fry in the twilight of the reception area. He turned back to the arena.

"Wait, Bender." Fry stood up and put a hand on Bender's shoulder. He turned his head to look at Fry, eyes just a little sad. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine... Fry. Fine." Bender turned and sighed. He looked Fry in the face. "But I think I've lost my best friend."

Fry shivered at the look on Bender's face. What little there was of it anyway. She screwed up her eyes. "You haven't lost me Bender, I'm just a little further away."


"Try me again in a few months." Fry patted Bender's shoulder. Then, without thinking, she leapt forward and wrapped a quick hug around Bender's neck. The robot jerked back in surprise and yelled something incoherent, but then seemed to relent. He hesitantly patted Fry on the back a couple of times. Fry pushed back from the hug and swallowed, trying not to let a tear out. "You'll be okay?"

"I... bah." Bender waved an arm and pulled away from Fry. He pushed back through the door and paused on the threshold, where the light gleamed off his polished skin, surrounding him in a vague golden halo. Bender gave Fry one last look and then pulled the door behind him, casting Fry back into the darkness.

"That could have gone better," Fry muttered to the shadows. She slouched from the room, gave the doorman and his hookerbot friend a casual wave as she left the build and made her way out into the night.


Leela heard the bell, but her bed was so warm and soft she didn't want to bother answering. Then the bell rang again, and finally someone started pounding on the door, lurching her from a really nice advertisement where she... huh. Gone.

With a grimace Leela crawled across the bed and glared at the clock. "Three in the morning? Who in hell..." She pulled on a nightgown and stumbled through the half-lit apartment to the door, which rattled under another pounding. "I'm coming, I'm coming, hold your damn buggalo!"

Leela peered through the peeper. A woman stood outside, red hair trailing and wet from rain. "Fry?"

"Leela, you have to let me in, I didn't know where else to go!" Fry wailed. She pressed her hands against the door and peering into the peeper from the other side.

"Fry what..." Leela unlocked the door and yanked it open. She ushered the distraught woman inside. "What happened to you. You're soaked!"

"I know, it's been raining since two," Fry said. She sniffled and sat down; Leela shuddered at the thought of what all that water would do to her brand new couch. "I think I fell out with Bender, and I've been wandering around the streets since midnight because I don't want to go home and find him mad at me..."

"Oh honey..." Leela sat down next to Fry and pulled her into a hug. Fry sniffled and nervously tugged at her hair. "You don't need to worry about Bender. He's probably forgotten about it already."


"I've learned that things we might take really seriously are like water off a duck's back for some men, especially a manbot like Bender." Leela said, stroking Fry's head. Water puttered and dripped on to the couch and her pants. Better get a towel... "Most men are like that really, they don't seem to care, or their priorities are just different. Well you should know, you used to be one."

Fry raised her eyebrows stared at Leela for a moment, then put her head in her hands. Leela let out a sigh; it probably wasn't the best time to remind her about that, she realised, just a little too late. "I'm sorry Fry-"

"Philippa." Fry looked up, and tears were in her eyes again. "I'm not Fry, not the way I was. Bender said it tonight, I have changed, and a lot more than I thought. Leela..."

She didn't break down in tears, which Leela would have only found embarrassing, but the poor woman did curl up against Leela's shoulder, keening into her nightgown and wiping her eyes occasionally. Leela patted Fry's shoulder and rocked her back and forth a few times, but eventually she had to do something; her gown was getting soaked. "I'm sorry F... Philippa. I have to get a towel. In fact you should probably get out of these wet things."

Fry tensed up. "I can't do that!"


"I... because we're gonna have sex!" she wailed. Fry threw herself on to the couch and curled up into a tight ball, shivering, whilst Leela stood by and stared at her friend. She reached out to touch Fry's shoulder but Fry shied away from the touch and wailed loudly. Leela shrugged and wandered off to find a towel.

When she returned Fry was still wrapped up in a sniffling huddle on the couch, completely ruining the upholstry. Leela grimaced. "Come on, you have to get dry or you'll catch your death."

"But we-"

"Damnit, Fry, stop that!" Leela threw the towel over the huddled woman and sat down. "What on earth gave you the idea that I'd even be interested in- oh no, no I didn't mean it like that!" She sat back as Fry started bawling. After a minute or two she pulled a box of tissues out from behind the couch and started handing them over. By the third she was resting her chin on one hand, staring at the wall as she tried to blank out the wretched snivelling. She wondered if this was how men... no. That wasn't really fair. Fry was not in the best frame of mind.

Eventually they were faced with a pile of tissues large enough to qualify for their own height marker. Fry stared dejectedly at the pile, her eyes puffy and red, sniffing occasionally. Leela rubbed her back a few times and peered into the empty box. "This is what I get for splashing out on triple quilt..." she dropped the empty box on the floor and turned to Fry. "Now what's this rubbish about us having sex?"

Fry blinked her eyes and looked at Leela as if she'd only just noticed she were there. "Oh, that. Well... it's kind of embarrassing." Fry pinched her finger and twisted at the end as if it would open. "There's a lot of films, uh, porn films, where a girl goes to see her friend, and somehow she gets wet, and then the friend gets her to change out of her clothes and then they..." she glanced over her shoulder at the bedroom. "I couldn't do that. I'm not..."

"Well it's not likely even if you could and were. Fry, this is me you're talking about. If it was likely before, it..." she paused, running the sentence through her head, but there was no way to put it that wouldn't result in using up another box of triple quilt. She sighed. "Look, you need to get out of those wet clothes and you probably need a shower to warm up. There's some clean robes in the bathroom." Leela stood up, taking Fry's arm and guiding her up as well. She gently propelled her toward the bathroom. "I'll make us some coffee and then we can talk."

"About what?" Fry paused in pulling off her coat and looked at Leela.

"Everything. This is going to be a whole new experience for you." Leela smiled and would have winked but for her single eye. She rubbed her chin and yawned. "I guess I won't be getting any sleep now anyway, so we might as well make use of the time."

Fry sort-of smiled and slipped into the bathroom. Leela waited until she could hear the sound of running water before she moved again. She yawned, stretched, and then glared at the water-stained couch for a moment. "I sure hope that thing won't show up when it's dry..." The towel she had brought in was a little damp but it brought out the worst of the water, reducing the stain from horrendous to merely intolerable. Leela grimaced.

Fry - Philippa - seemed to be a walking sack of neuroses and emotional baggage, and just a step away from a nervous breakdown which, given the circumstances, probably wasn't too surprising. Leela threw the towel into the laundry basket and meandered toward the kitchen, trying not to let sleep trip her up.

Sex. What a stupid thing to think about. Maybe if "she" had been a "he", but then she still was he, at least in memory... Leela frowned. She didn't like the implications of that particular thought, so put it out of her mind as she began making the coffee. Still, it might be prudent to see if there was a way to turn Fry back.

Fry spent a long time in the shower, even singing at one point in a wobbly mezzo-soprano that never quite managed to be pitch-perfect. She eventually emerged looking much calmer - and warmer - wearing an old blue robe that was far too big for her. Leela felt a pang of jealousy as she realised that Fry had a slightly better figure than her, or at least a slimmer one. She dropped an extra lump of sugar into Fry's coffee before placing it on the coffee table.

Fry slumped down on the now-dry couch and groaned in relief. "That is so much better," she said, eyes closed and a big smile on her face. She pulled the robe a little tighter before grabbing the coffee Leela had left for her. "I'm sorry about what I said before, Leela. It was stupid."

"It was fear talking. I know I've said it before but you're still getting used to yourself. I can't imagine what it would be like to have a bunch of male memories in my head, but I bet it wouldn't be pretty."

"No. It isn't." Fry took a sip of her coffee and grimaced. "Did you put extra sugar in this?"

"Certainly not," Leela said, looking away for a moment. She managed to keep her blush hidden, but it was probably a good idea to change the subject. "So what happened with Bender? You said you'd upset him."

Fry sat back, wrapping her hands around the coffee. Slender hands, Leela noticed, with long fingers that she could only dream of having. She forced herself to look at Fry's face.

"Bender. He said he'd lost his best friend. Do you think he meant me?"

"He could have meant his last bottle of booze for all you know, Philippa." Leela paused to see Fry's reaction. She smiled at hearing the name. Leela smiled too before going on. "He's worried about losing a friend but you can prove he doesn't have to worry about it. And he wouldn't be that worried anyway. He's a man. No, he's a manbot. He's also Bender."

"But he seemed so vulnerable."

"Fry... Philippa." Leela shook her head and stared at her coffee while she ordered her thoughts. "One thing you'll have to learn now is that a lot of men will seem vulnerable when they're actually hiding emotions they don't want to acknowledge. Bender... Bender is trying to come to terms with this as much as you are, and he's doing it the only way he knows, by putting it out of his mind. If that means pretending he's lost his friend for a bit then that's how he'll do it.

"You just have to let him work through it for a bit. Don't try and hurry it up either. I made that mistake so many times with men and look where it got me."

"Oh I don't know, you seem to be doing all right," Fry said, looking around the apartment, which had been spruced up quite a bit since the last time she'd been there. She fingered the robe. "You have a lot of clothes. All I have is a few shirts and a pair of pants that barely fit any more. You've got a reasonably nice home, friends, a good job..." she shrugged and drank more coffee. "And you have parents who are actually around to talk to. What do I have?"

Leela swallowed and looked into Fry's eyes. She touched her hand. "You have me."

Fry smiled, though it was a little sad. She put the coffee down and took Leela's hand. "A few weeks ago I would have done anything to hear you say that."

"I know. For what it's worth, and for all it's different, I'm saying it now."

"Thanks Leela. That means a lot." Fry retrieved her coffee and sat back in the couch with a contented smile. "I never imagined it could be like this. Talking, I mean, without having to try and convince you I was worth talking to."

Leela raised her eyebrow. "Fry, you were always worth... well okay sometimes I had a little trouble relating to you, but you never hid your emotions from me. I appreciated that more than I let on. Not even Sean wore his heart on his sleeve like you do. Did. Um..."

"There, now you know how I feel all the time these days. It's so confusing." Fry glanced into her cup and put it down empty. She wrapped her arms around herself as if she was cold. "There are times when I almost feel like I'm in a dream and about to wake up, and everything will be back to normal, and there are times when I think that all the old me was just a dream, and that this is normal. Leela..." she closed her eyes and swallowed a few times. "I... I don't know what to do."

"Come here," Leela said, shifting over to sit next to Fry. She put her arms around Fry's shoulder and squeezed a little. "You shouldn't think about things like that. Right now you just need to get some rest. Tomorrow we'll go and talk to the Professor about this."

"I already tried that, he said it would take years to work it out." Fry sighed sadly. "Years? The way he talked about it, I'll never be able to go back."

That might not be such a bad thing. Leela banished the traitorous thought from her mind. "There's always a way, Fry. You just need to use a woman's touch."

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #14 on: 10-28-2007 17:22 »

If you'll indulge me in being a bastard for a moment...

five atoms of hydrogen per cubic light-year

The Interstellar Medium (ISM) actually contains millions of particles per cubic meter(!!). 90% hydrogen and 10% helium, as well as other trace elements... and this is about as empty as space gets, surprisingly.

smelled of elderberries

I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries!  :D

they didn't talk about a base, just a ‘presence'

Ha. Just like the Americans in Saudi Arabia, Diego Garcia, Kadena & Misawa, Afghanistan, Iraq...........

This is coming along nicely. But curse your lack of lesbianism!  :)
Robo D Rulz!!

Bending Unit
« Reply #15 on: 10-28-2007 23:11 »

Personally, I thought Zapp was a little out of character in a few parts here. He just seemed rather brave and........competent at his job. But the rest of the time, you got him spot on.  :)

"No, Admiral Zapp Brannigan at your service sir. Why yes, I was responsible for the negotiations with the Ruklisk. Your daughter you say?"  :laff:   :laff:

You've really got a good fic coming along here, please keep it up.  :D

Space Pope
« Reply #16 on: 10-29-2007 03:53 »

Yeah, well Zapp's a hard character to do. I keep thinking Shatner, and I quite liked Kirk... I just have to remind myself that he's like all the bad bits of Kirk without any of the redeeming features. Still hard.

If you'll indulge me in being a bastard for a moment...

Bastid! You make me ashamed of my lack of knowledge! *disembowls self*

It sounds better though, don't it?  :D

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #17 on: 10-29-2007 05:19 »

It does.
I had a similar technical gaffe in Blame it on the Brain with the use of Argon lasers as offensive weapons.

Space Pope
« Reply #18 on: 10-29-2007 05:32 »

I remember that one.

Perhaps after the speed of light was increased they went around and spring-cleaned the galaxy...  :)

Space Pope
« Reply #19 on: 10-31-2007 09:40 »
« Last Edit on: 10-31-2007 09:40 »

$hopping - or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Credit


"Absolutely not, there's no way I can do that. None!"

Leela balled her hands on the conference table and leaned toward Farnsworth with an ugly glare. "You have a responsibility to do the right thing, Professor. If you can't do it then-"

"I'm telling you it's impossible." Farnsworth swatted at the box in front of him, knocking it over. Pills flew everywhere. "I don't care what that quack says, I'm not putting those things up there! I refuse!"

"Your funeral," Leela said, rolling her eye. She glanced to her side, where Doctor Zoidberg was clicking his claws together and quietly crooning in his native language. Her gaze returned to Farnsworth. "The alternative is having Zoidberg here give them to you intravenously."

Farnsworth gulped hard. He began gathering up the pills, his hand firmly gripped around the box. "All right, but I warn you the results won't be pretty." He started pushing pills up his nose. Leela grimaced. It was only fortunate they weren't suppositories; The Professor would probably have started with them there and then.

"Well now that's out of the way, we can talk about Fry's predicament."

"Yes, yes, the poor dear..." Farnsworth smiled over at Fry, then sneezed. A pill ricocheted off the table and bounced off Zoidberg's shell. He looked up and made a questioning noise but Leela quieted him with a raised hand.

"Professor, Fry says you told him it would take years to figure out what happened."

"Oh yes. Centuries! I'd probably be dead long before I even worked out the basic theory. There's no point in even starting now."

"What if you don't need to work out the details though?" Leela paused to watch Farnsworth's reaction; nothing. His face was blank though, frankly, that wasn't unusual. "Why not just work out enough to re-create the conditions of the accident."

"What? That would be preposterous! It would mean adjusting the inverter coils on the matter transporter, re-aligning the grid matrix, not to mention cleaning the cheese off the planck delimiter arm..." Farnsworth seemed to go blank again, which was often the look he took on when he was thinking hard. "The possibility of intersecting the same universe is fairly small but that can be increased by allowing for our relative motion through the universe and adjusting the targeting bus... Leela!" Farnsworth stood up and gasped. More pills rattled from his nose. "You might actually have figured it out!"


"H'yes, it's just a matter of getting the same situation and then letting it reverse itself. It's so simple only a dunderhead would think of it!"

Leela frowned. "Gee, thanks."

"Oh you're welcome," Farnsworth said with an idiot smile. He resumed pushing pills up his nose.

Fry slowly sat up, her face a mixture of hope and fear. "How long will it take?"

"Oh, several months, possibly even a year, there's so much to do. But it can be done! I shall begin at once!"

Fry and Leela high-fived and then hugged until Fry pulled back. "This means I have to spend the next year as a woman."

"You'll survive. Just stick with me," Leela said, stroking her elbow. "And don't get any silly ideas again."

"On my honour as a woman," Fry said, and then burst out laughing. She turned to the Professor with a wide grin. "So when are you starting?"

"Oh right now," Farnsworth said. He grunted, and sweat beaded his brow. "Or I would if I could move my legs. I told you those pills would be trouble."

Zoidberg stood up and put a claw to his chest. "Don't worry, I have what we doctors call a contingency for this." He walked across the room and grabbed an upright trolley from the wall, which he then slid across to Farnsworth. The professor grumbled as Zoidberg shoved the trolley under his feet.

"Ow! Watch it you imbecilic homaridae!"

"Just tell me which way is the lab and I should have you there in six to eight weeks," Zoidberg said, wheeling the Professor from the room. Fry watched them leave, then turned back to Leela with a smile.

"Thanks Leela, I owe you one."

"It's nothing, Fry." Leela paused and smiled. "Philippa."

Fry's smile faltered for a second. "I chose that name when I was sure I would be this way forever."

"You want to stop using it?" Leela tugged at her own elbow nervously. "If I offended you I'm-"

"No no, it's okay. It's fine, I like it. I am a woman right now, I might as well be myself." Fry took Leela's hands in her own and smiled again. "Perhaps we should give everyone the news."

"News travels in this place faster than we could spread it," Leela replied, glancing over her shoulder. Almost on cue the door opened and Hermes emerged, carrying his customary briefcase, a grim expression on his face.

"What's hanging Hermes," Fry said with a smile. Hermes drew up short and stared at Fry in surprise.

"Great mother of all that's green and snaky, you are a woman! I thought that cracked lobster creature was just rambling insane... This is wonderful news!"

"It... it is?" Fry asked, taken aback. She put her hands on her hips. "What's going on?"

"Oh nothing, just the possibility of a huge tax relief for hiring a new female employee. They have a quota now you know."

Leela gaped. "What, that's ridiculous!" She and Fry stared at each other.

"Not at all. By the way, Fry, you're fired. Also, you're hired again. Welcome to the team!" Hermes flipped open his briefcase and held several pieces of paper. "Sign this please, and this resignation letter, and finally this waiver for benefit to you from any potential tax breaks related to your employment that Planet Express might gain."

Fry examined the letter first, taking her time to read it carefully. "This thing says I'm leaving the company because of Irre...con...sile... that thing, differences. What differences?"

"You're employed as a man but you don't have man tings in your pants! That different enough?"

"Does it count if I'm still wearing boxer shorts?"

"Ooh." Leela took Fry's arm and moved her aside a little, ignoring Hermes' protest. "Are those really as comfortable as everyone says they are?"

"Well, when you're a guy they tend to ride up a bit and strangle-"

"Ladies, please!" Hermes rattled  his fingers on the briefcase impatiently. Fry and Leela simultaneously let out a plaintive groan and then giggled at the coincidence. They turned to face Hermes; Fry sat down and looked over the papers again. "Everyting in order there?"

"Oh. I suppose it is. What the hell, I think I might even get paid a bit more." She signed the contract and the letter, ignoring the waiver much to Hermes' chagrin. He gave them both a pained smile as he neatly folded the waiver and slipped it into his pocket, then returned the other papers to the briefcase.

"Ladies." He closed the briefcase and carried on his way back to his office. Leela stifled a laugh and sat down with Fry.

Fry glanced at the door as it closed behind Hermes. "That was-"

"A coincidence," Leela finished. She screwed up her face for a moment as she thought, then: "I always had you down as more of a briefs guy."

"Oh." Fry looked around the room just in case someone was listening. "I was, mostly, but sometimes you just have to hang a little loose y'know? But then they crawl up and get all twisted at the back, and you just have to start adjusting them and then everyone's looking at you... they don't seem to be doing that now, though," she added thoughtfully, and stood up. Fry tapped a finger against her mouth as they made their way to the lounge. "Crawling up I mean. Not that I think people are looking at me or anything," she added quickly. "Still, I think I'm going to need some new clothes. These pants are far too long and until this morning I'd been wearing the same bra for nearly three days."

"Clothes? Oh no, that's definitely not my job. I'm moral support, emotional support, mental support... if it has support in it, that's my job. But not clothes."

"I'll come to you if I need a girdle then," Fry said.

"Hey!" Fry ran ahead of Leela's swipe and stuck out her tongue. Leela glared. "I'll have you know I... oh what's the use. Lets go see Amy before we kill each other."

As she and Leela passed through the door, Fry and Bender saw each other at almost the same moment. The robot turned, seemed to do a double take and leaped from his place on the couch. "Fry, you're here!"

He ran forward and grabbed Fry by the shoulders, rocking her back and forth. "You're here, I'm so glad! I thought I'd lost you!"

"I'm glad to see-"

"Never mind that, I have a guy I'm talking to who wants to buy ovaries. You have ovaries, right? Being a woman and all?" Fry's jaw dropped; she tried to reply but only managed to gurgle. Bender seemed to notice something was wrong. "If it's a problem for you, they're offering thirty grand a pop."

Leela interjected her arm between them. "No Bender."


"No!" Bender sagged again. He gave Fry a pleading look, and for a moment Fry felt herself wondering...

"Aww..." Bender turned and slumped back toward the couch, muttering just loud enough to be heard. "It's not like you're going to be using them any time soon anyway. Stupid female solidarity..."

Leela took Fry's arm again and lead her toward the back of the room. "I hope you weren't thinking about actually doing that," she said quietly. Fry shook her head.

"No. Well. Thirty thousand dollars wouldn't be so bad, would it? It's only one ovary."

"Would you have sold your testicles when you were a man?" Leela pouted and thought about the question for a second. "Actually don't answer, I'm not sure I could take it. Come on, Amy must be around here somewhere."

They left Bender mumbling on the couch. He turned to watch them leave, a frown crushing his eyes in darkness.


Fry remembered Amy's shopping sprees from when they were dating, and the almost casual way she would throw money at clothes and shoes and accoutrements that she almost never wore. It was a shame that the two of them weren't the same size or the whole trip wouldn't have been needed. They weren't, though; she'd checked her measurements against what she remembered of Amy's and, incidentally, wasn't so jealous of her any more.

Leela was tagging along, of course. Moral support seemed to be a full-time job. Amy had seemed a little cold when they arrived, declaring rather haughtily that Fry looked scruffy and poor, which was technically true - she'd never said it before though, or, if she had, Fry had never noticed. She tried to put it out of her mind. Fortunately Amy was too shallow to hold any real malice toward people and by the time they reached fifth avenue the three of them were happily chatting away. She almost felt normal. Almost. The feeling might have been easier to maintain if her pants weren't wide enough to fall down at the slightest provocation. The belt she had borrowed from Leela was only doing so much.

Fifth avenue. She remembered the street from old New York; it as very different. Wider, taller, like so much in this city, and cleaner. A lot cleaner. But, apart from that and the row of trees down the centre of the road that made it resemble a Parisian boulevard, it felt similar enough. Shops were the thing. Saks still had a huge department store there, though now it fought for dominance against Virgin/Ia Fashion and Food, Uptown Slob and the ‘Momcorp General Apparel and Home Boutique'. For some reason it made Fry feel a little proud to see Saks still standing after so long, even though she'd never once been in the place.

They stopped in the shade of a tree and looked up at the glowing signs.

"So," Amy said after a moment. "Where do you want to go first?"

"Oh wherever you want, Amy. I'm kinda new at this." Fry looked up and down the avenue. The retail behemoths stood astride rows of smaller shops that jostled for position along the avenue frontage, selling everything from cheap clothes to electronics to games. Fry felt a distant longing.

"Mom's is out," Amy said, dragging Fry back to earth. She reflexively looked up at the big Mom logo hovering before a grand gothic-iron tower. Didn't seem very inviting anyway. "And Saks is where I go when I want to really splurge, so that's out right now too... so that only really leaves Virgin Aya."

"I thought it was ‘Ear'," Leela said, staring at the sign. "Can't they just pick a name you can pronounce?"

"Gleesh! That's why I don't come shopping with you any more, Leela. You're always so farbeld picky about things!" Amy popped on a pair of shades and stalked toward Virgin/Ia in a huff. She grabbed Fry's arm, dragging her along in her wake. "Keep up with me if you want, Leela, but don't expect me to talk for at least five minutes!"

Fry shrugged at Leela as best she could and stumbled to keep up with Amy. She looked over her shoulder; Leela was following, but a little distance behind. Perhaps she knew something Fry didn't. "What are we getting first?"

"Underwear," Amy stated, maybe a little harshly. She paused at the doors and started counting off on her fingers. "Then we'll get you some pants, a few blouses, maybe a nice coat, some hats, a few pairs of shoes, some dresses, you need dresses if you're going out in the evening."


"Skirts, sarongs, ghuptchas, dancing shoes, ball shoes, boots, riding trousers."

"Look I really appr-"

"Nightdresses, shifts, pyjamas, you'll need slippers too, and some swimwear-"

"Hold it, no way, I'm not spending all my money on clothes. I'm only going to be like this for a year at most and you're talking about enough clothes to last me a lifetime! I'll get some underwear and some pants that actually fit me... ok and maybe some shoes. And pyjamas." Fry paused and shook her head. "But that's it, nothing else."

"Damnit, you're as bad as Leela. Why can't I have someone who'll just go shopping with me?" She glared at Fry, then at Leela as she in turn arrived at the doors. "You people and your credit limits!"

Amy stormed through the door, grumbling in chinese as she disappeared into the depths of the store.

"So," Leela said after a moment. "Now you know."


Leela leaned on the door. "Don't worry about it, five minutes in there and she'll be right as rain again. We can catch her up once she's hit the beachwear department."

Fry nodded slowly. She'd never understood it before and it seemed that she didn't quite understand it now. "So... you aren't going to spend a fortune on clothes too, are you?"

Leela just laughed and opened the door. "Come on, Philippa, time to learn what a woman does in here."


It turned out that mostly they argued, or at least Amy and Leela did. They were arguing by the time they reached the underwear and hosiery department, where Fry reckoned there were enough different species of women's underthings to keep a taxonomist busy for years. Or she would if she'd known what taxonomist meant; instead she just stared at the rows of flimsy garments in near-terror at the extreme volume of choice, and then turned to Leela and Amy for help. After another long argument the two managed to settle on fitting her with some fairly run-of-the-mill garments that were actually quite comfortable - though, Fry reasoned, that was probably because they were designed for her body now. She didn't tell her companions about the time she'd tried on her girlfriend's bra in college, not least because the thought made her brain hurt now.

With that sorted they made their way to the clothes that didn't embarrass her, though she did notice Leela make a quick detour into the menswear department from whence she returned looking faintly embarrassed with herself, clutching a tightly wrapped packet. Fry could guess what was in it. Amy just looked mystified. Leela laughed nervously when she asked but didn't tell.

Pants, shorts, shoes, a few accessories - she gave in and bought a plain looking swimsuit, reasoning she'd have to swim at some point - and then Fry was suddenly incredibly bored with it all, especially the constant shouting over which exact style they had to pick, what colour matched her skin and how skanky something made her look. She had what she wanted, but Amy seemed to want to keep going, moving from rack to rack like some sort of predator, while Leela seemed content to follow on behind offering sage criticism and derision. After a while Fry decided she'd had enough; she paused at the end of a row of leatherette dresses that probably had enough material between them to cover a single small woman and waited for Amy and Leela to move out of sight.

She quickly bolted for the elevators. Fortunately she had managed to keep all her purchases separate from the others and had them bagged up and paid for in no time, after which Fry skipped into a booth to change into something a little fresher. She was soon back out on the street, roaming up and down the boutiques and shops that seemed to go on without end.

Fry came to a stop outside a gaming store. Every kind of electronic entertainment was arrayed behind the great glass window. She pressed her face up to the glass and peered into the slightly dim interior, where shelf after shelf was filled with games of all sorts, and comic books, and just about everything else she'd ever dreamed about owning when she was a kid. Only better.

She trailed her hand along the window as she entered the shop and paused just beyond the threshold, adjusting to the atmosphere. Certain kinds of shop have certain kinds of smell and this one smelled right. She wandered down an aisle of shelved holding what looked like every comic book ever printed. A few of them seemed to be reprints of titles from the twentieth century; they held up well next to the more contemporary books. Fry fingered one of them for a moment and let memories slide around her mind...

A loud, nasal and somewhat arrogant voice broke her reverie. "Hey, can't you read the sign?"

Fry turned to the counter near the back of the shop. A fat, balding Neptunian in a faded blue shirt stood behind the counter, staring at Fry with barely concealed contempt. He pointed at a prominent sign on the back wall.

"No flashbacks in the store," Fry read slowly. "Oh. I'm sorry, it's just been so long since I saw some of these things."

"Oh really." The proprietor folded two of his arms and leaned forward to examine. "And if I were to ask how long, I expect you would tell me a hundred years! I cannot believe such lies would be promulgated within hearing-range of my perfectly preserved merchandise."

Fry wandered over to the counter, trailing her bags just off the floor. They were getting heavy. "Actually it's just over a thousand," she said, not quite leaning on the counter. The Neptunian seemed nonplussed but at the same time apparently pleased that she wasn't grubbying up his glass. Even if it was incorruptiglass. "I was frozen in the twentieth century."

"You're a Cryonaut?"

"If that's what they're calling it now, I guess so."

"This is... oh my, I hear about them, but I've never had one in my shop before. I cannot imagine... you were alive during the first golden age! Can I ask, did you ever meet Mr Stanley Comic?"

Fry frowned, trying to place the name. She looked down at the books again, spotting a copy of the single edition New Justice Team. She giggled at the way they'd drawn Leela and the muscle-bound idiot that was meant to be her. Or him. She couldn't quite make the connection with that parody of male virtue. It was actually relieving... oh yes! "You mean Stan Lee? Guy who invented Spider Man?"

"Yes, Stanley Co... wait, are you saying that we have his name wrong? This cannot be!"

"Don't sweat it, I get names wrong all the time. Even my own." Which was true, she did now. Philip or Philippa? Perhaps she should have picked something else. "No I didn't meet him, but I would have loved to if I'd had the chance. Probably. Comic-books were more of a hobby than an obsession. I was more into games."

The Neptunian looked her up and down. "Such a shame, you seemed for a moment as if you had potential. Still, you may be able to help me with something. I have a few editions in my vault that need to be identified, but I cannot for the life of me place their provenance."

"Well, sure." Fry smiled at the Neptunian, who gestured toward the back of the store with one arm.


Fry shivered in the vault. "Right. I understand why you keep it cool in here, but do we have to be in our underwear?"

"It is necessary to prevent a static fire," the Neptunian said matter-of-factly. He ran his fingers along shelved of neatly packed first editions and rare books. Fry watched him, hands wrapped around her shoulders against the chill air. "Also, I find it refreshing compared to that overheated steambath you call an atmosphere."

"Just don't get any ideas," she said. The Neptunian turned to her with a haughty stare.

"Miss Fry, to have any ideas regarding you I would need to see at least an extra pair of arms. Though, I have to admit, your skin is turning a rather charming shade. Now..." He held up a pair of books in slim plastic envelopes. "What can you tell me about these? I do not recognise the style and the plotting seems incredibly overblown and illogical. For the record, they turned up in a dig in Alabama."

Fry looked at the books. They were ancient, crudely printed on crinkled cheap pulp that was almost black at the edges, badly drawn, consisting of a dozen or so tiny strips originally printed for the palm-sized books that Fry remembered being shoved into her face more times than she could count. "Oh lord, will that man never leave me in peace?"

"You recognise them?"

"Oh yeah, I guess they made a compilation of the damn things after I left. My advice? Shoot them into the sun."


Ka-klunk. Not much off a cliffhanger but such is life...    :)

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #20 on: 10-31-2007 16:18 »

I can't imagine wearing anything but boxer shorts.

Bending Unit
« Reply #21 on: 11-02-2007 05:18 »

Hey Archonix,

I finally finished your story, and have quite a few thoughts on it.  But many of them are about the story as a whole, so I'll defer once the entire thing is posted.

I will say that the shopping trip was one of my favorite sections-you caught the Phillipa, Amy, Leela dynamic well.  I did think the comic book scene was a little lumpy in terms of plot, but I did like the implied Simpsons comic book guy/Neptunian crossover!

And boxer shorts--meh, not for the athletic lifestyle  ;)

And you're teasing me about the 'cliffhanger' bit, aren't you?

Space Pope
« Reply #22 on: 11-03-2007 15:48 »
« Last Edit on: 11-03-2007 15:48 »

I wouldn't tease about such things. Much...  ;) seriously though, the cliffhanger thing, it was just a big coinkydink. I actually like them, I just didn't write this story with them in mind.

I should also check my own threads once in a while.  :D Well thanks for the comments, I'm looking forward to what you have to say about it.

Anyways, on with the show.


Oculus Ex Inferni

Leela and Amy eventually found Fry slumped in a bench outside a grubby-looking comic-book store, sucking on an ice-cream and watching life pass by along Fifth avenue. She had several bags on top of the Virgin/Ia-branded carry-bags, and a couple of plain cardboard boxes. Fry waved to them as they approached and then returned to her ice-cream with relish. Amy gawped at the extra purchases.

"Fry, what's this? You bought things without me?"

Fry shrugged and continued licking her ice-cream. "I saw a few things I wanted," she said and turned to look at the shop. The Neptunian owner waved at her from the window; Fry waved back and winked. "Nice man."

"Fry, please tell me you didn't do anything stupid." Leela sat down next to her friend and pulled the ice-cream away for a moment. "You were just shopping right?"

"Well, I did help him sort a few of his comic-books." She glanced at the pile of goods next to her, which Amy had started to finger through. "Apart from that all I did was buy a lot of stuff from him. It's weird, normally when I go out I'll buy one or two things and then go home again. Now, I got a new games console, you see, so I had to have a few games to go with it. Then I figured I'd better get an extra set of game-pads and a wheel, because there's a racing game in there, and then I thought I should get the little three-dee goggle attachment that went with it, and after that I sort of got a bit carried away. I hope Bender doesn't mind getting a new home theatre system tomorrow..."

They stared at him. Leela rubbed her face and blinked. "My god," she said eventually, staring at the pile of tat. "I hate to say it, Fry, Philippa even, but you're more like Amy than you realise."

"I hope that was a compliment," Amy said. She pulled a box from one bag and peered at it. "Is this the new eOdel player? They aren't out for another month! How did you get it?"

"In there," Fry said, pointing over her shoulder with her thumb. "You go to all these designer places that don't buy in new gadgets until they're actually released, so they can hike up the prices for brainless, uh..." Fry's voice trailed off as Amy stared at him. Fortunately she seemed more interested in getting her hands on the eOdel than being insulted. "Places like..." she looked over her shoulder at the sign above the shop. "Places like Mandroid's Cellar here tend to have pre-release stock for real nerds to drool over. All I had to do was prance around in my underwear for half an hour."

"Fry!" Leela and Amy both cried in unison together.

"Have you no shame?" Leela added.

"Yeah, he's, like, forty or something," Amy said a moment later, peering at the window. "Though his nose is kinda cute..."

Fry looked genuinely hurt. She blinked a few times, looking between Amy and Leela as if she didn't know what to say. "It's not like you think. He was in his underwear as well-"

"That isn't better Fry." Leela folded her arms. "I can't believe you. You said you were different, but you're just like Bender was. I... Fry, how could you!"

"Leela, just lis-"

"No, this.... ugh!" Leela stood up and would have walked away if Amy hadn't caught her arm. "What?"

"Leela, wait."

They both turned to look back at Fry. Her lower lip was quivering. She sniffed. Leela closed her eye and sighed loudly. "I can act too you know."

"But all he wanted was help with his comic-book collection," Fry wailed. She put her head in her hands and sobbed. "All I wanted to do was help, I didn't think you'd be mad at me for that! I'm not like Bender. I'm not- going- to- auugh-"

Amy and Leela looked at each other again, eyebrows raised. They turned away from Fry and Amy grimaces. "Quite a bawler isn't she?"

"All right, I can't act that well," Leela muttered, casting an embarrassed glance over her shoulder. People were staring. It seemed there were still a few things this newly minted girl needed to know about how to behave. "Perhaps it really was innocent."

"We all make mistakes Leela," Amy said, giving her friend a pointed look. Leela sighed again and turned around.

"Philippa..." The name seemed to shock Fry out of her mope. She looked up at Leela, eyes red but not too watery, and swallowed. "I'm sorry for shouting at you."

Fry managed a wan smile. She rubbed her eyes and sat a little more upright. "It's-" she choked, swallowed. "It's okay Leela, I guess I should have thought about it first."

Leela and Amy pushed the bags to one side and sat down on either side of Fry. "I sometimes get that way too, you know," Amy said. She looked at Leela and winked. "It's because you're so impulsive and carefree. Some people don't quite understand that."

Fry looked up at Amy. "I don't know, I never bought five-thousand dollars worth of stuff before. Is this how it is for you all the time?"

Amy nodded, but Leela shook her head. "Not everyone is a stereotype, Philippa. Some people are-"

"Frumpy!" Amy leaped up from the bench cackling. Unfortunately, as she turned her foot caught in one of Fry's bags and she tripped, landing on her butt. "Ai!"

"Serves you right for interrupting," Leela said with a triumphant smile. She turned back to Fry. "Now Philippa, about now is where I suppose I should tell you to be more sensible and stop being so impulsive, but I'm not going to."

"You're not?" Amy and Fry both asked in unison. Amy pulled herself up off the floor.

"You're not going to be your usual stuck-in-the-mud killjoy self?" Amy looked around. "Fry, you stay here while I look for the real Leela."

Amy made a show of looking behind the benches before stalking off toward a tree, which she rounded several times before turning to look back at Leela and Fry, hands on her hips.

"I don't understand," Fry said as Amy returned. "Am I doing it wrong or something?"

"I can't tell you what to do, Philippa. Well I can, when we're at work or you're doing something stupid or life-threatening, but apart from that." She squeezed Fry's hand and then patted it gently. "You're your own woman. If you want to get a discount by ‘prancing' then, I suppose, it's up to you. Just don't expect me to get involved."

Fry frowned. "If that's what you think..." she made a show of drying her eyes on her shirt. "Oh I'm such a wreck, I'm no good at this. How will I survive a whole year?"

"The same way we all do," Leela said. Amy perked up.

"Oh you mean she'll get a trust-fund too?"

Leela let her eye rest on Amy until the younger girl shied away. She leaned across Fry and grabbed one of the bags. "Okay, we might as well get you home. It's getting late. Amy?"

"Hn?" Amy was standing a short distance away, looking up at the sky. She suddenly pointed up. "Wuh de tyen ah!"

Leela looked up. A gobbet of orange-pink light was moving across the sky at an alarming speed. "Too bright to be a ship, too slow to be an asteroid..." she glanced around the sky. "Look there's another one."

They watched the strange objects hurtling across the sky until they faded to nothing near the visible horizon. Fry clutched at her massed bags with a strange feeling growing in her gut. Something about the light felt familiar.

"We'd better get back, this has to have made the news," Leela said. She grabbed a pile of bags. "Come on, we'll call a cab."


They reached the Robot Arms in record time thanks to a little creative driving by their Cab-bot, and despite a detour to drop off Amy's oversized pile of shopping. Fry even left him a tip.

Inside, they found Bender clutching a beer on the couch, surfing channels and mumbling occasionally about deliveries. He didn't turn when they closed the door.

"What's up losers?" Bender intoned, taking another draught of his beer. He looked up at the clatter of bags and boxes dropping to the floor, patted his chest compartment and winked at Leela. "Hey, want me to help you with that?"

"No I'm good," Leela said, shuffling a few bags closer to the wall and placing her own modest purchases on top of the pile. Amy sat down on a box and glared at Bender.

"What about you Fry, want a hand with your junk? Oh wait that's right, you don't have any now!" Bender laughed out loud until he saw Fry's faint look of confused disgust. He looked at Fry again. "You see, because you're not a man any more, and junk is... and... aaww come on Fry, it's funny!"

"I don't get it."

"That's probably because you've spent so much time with Sir Grumps-a-lot there," Bender retorted, waving his beer at Leela. She rolled her eye and folded her arms. "Come on Fry, you always used to laugh at my crap jokes. What's wrong with you?"

"Nothing," Fry said. "Well, everything. I'm sorry, Bender, I really am. I don't want to lose our friendship but I'm in a really weird place right now. I just need a little space. Time to... to adjust, you know?"

"Time to adjust, huh?" Bender stood up. He threw his unfinished beer into his chest and faced Fry head-on. "A little space, huh? That's women's talk for quitting and leaving, Fry. That what you're doing? Quitting and leaving?"

"No! I'm not doing that at all, I just, you just need to back off a little, that's all."

"Oh I need to back off. I need to give you a little space!"

"Pretty much," Fry said. Leela closed her eye and put a hand to her face. This was not good. For the second time that day she found herself standing between the pair of them.

"Look," she said, glaring at Fry and Bender in turn. "You two are going about this completely the wrong way. Bender, Philippa isn't going to disappear and stop being your friend just because she's a she. And Philippa, you need to remember that Bender is your friend. Your relationship is going to be very different from here on in, now shut up and let me watch the television."

Leela grabbed the remote and dropped on to the couch with a grunt, where she changed channels until some sort of news program appeared. Bender went and stood next to Fry, and they both watched her for a while.

"Wow," Bender said eventually. "She's in a real ballbreaker mood today."

"I wouldn't know about that," Fry said. She elbowed Bender and smiled. Bender laughed a little bit. "I know it'll sound like soppy girl stuff to you, Bender, but I do love being around you, and I do find your jokes funny. It's just hard."

"Yeah. Maybe." Bender looked at his fingertips. "Anyway, I got a note about a TV delivery coming tomorrow morning. You know anything about that?"

"Weelll, I may have slightly ordered a fifteen foot plasmatron."

"Oh. Oh." Bender looked around the apartment. "Right. Fifteen feet you say? Well. I..." He suddenly threw his arms around Fry, who yeeked in shock. "Fry, you're the best girlfriend a guy could ever have!"

Fry half-shrugged and tried to untangle herself from Bender's arms. "Thanks, I think."

"Don't mention it," Bender said. He pulled out a cigar and sat himself down on the couch next to Leela. "So what's so important about the TV then?"

Leela pointed as a ‘breaking news' graphic appeared on the screen. "This. Now quiet."

Fry sat down next to Leela and stared at the screen as the music played out. Then half of the pair she'd come to associate with just about every major news and entertainment program appeared on screen, grimacing at the camera. She moved over a little to let Amy sit next to her, forcing Leela to shuffle over as well. Leela grumbled, but kept her eye fixed on the screen.

"Good afternoon Puny Humans," the great green alien intoned solemnly. "Pathetic specimens of humanity infesting Earth settlement New New York City were panicked into a stampede after lights appeared in the sky above their chaotic and ill-planned conurbation. We now go live to Fifth Avenue, where puny female co-host Linda has the latest update. Linda?"

The view changed to fifth avenue, right outside the Mandroid's Cellar. Linda was standing in front of a camera, holding a comically oversized microphone and peering at something below the frame. "So I said of course I'd love to see their new swimming pool but- what? Oh!" She quickly adjusted her hair and looked into the camera. "Thank you Morbo. I'm standing here on Fifth Avenue where the first eye-witnesses appear to have seen what happened." Linda paused for a moment as a still-frame from a handheld camera was flashed up, showing Fry, Leela and Amy from an angle that put the camera inside the Mandroid's Cellar. Amy and Leela glared at Fry. She grinned nervously and tried to sink into the seat.

"The women pictured were unavailable for comment, having left the scene shortly after the events, however several other witnesses claimed that bright orange lights appeared in the sky heading east, only to disappear moments later. City authorities have not yet released any comment, though an official at the Earth Orbital Space Command Centre has told Sqrt2 News that the apparent objects were not space-craft and not any known natural phenomenon. From Fifth Avenue, New New York City for Sqrt2 News. Morbo?"

"Thank you, Linda." Morbo appeared on the screen again, shuffling paper. He looked at the camera. "With news of the DOOP's successful negotiations with the Ruklisk still fresh in their feeble minds, some commentators have speculated that today's events may have been the end result of a power-play by the Ruklisk prior to their sudden acquiescence in the face of the uncompromising stance of superior human specimen Captain Zapp Brannigan of the Starship Nimbus. Other commentators believe this may be part of a larger attempt by that honourable race to terrify the pathetic species that infests this planet into paranoid catatonia in order to soften them up for a full-blown invasion. Morbo finds that this statement ignores the potential for humans to scare themselves witless with nothing more advanced than shadow puppets.

"The DOOP leadership have announced a press conference tomorrow morning where they are expected to reveal the terms of the new treaty with the Ruklisk. Morbo hopes abject surrender was amongst them, as it would prepare this world for my people's inevitable victory in the coming war of conquest. YOU WILL ALL PERISH! This is Morbo for Sqrt2 News."

Leela turned off the TV and stared at the blank screen for a moment. Then she stood up. "That wasn't as helpful as I'd hoped."

"This is network television Leela," Amy said,. "If you expected them to actually be informative you're dumber than I am."

Amy nodded in triumph, then suddenly realised what she said. She mouthed a silent ‘oh' and sat back on the couch, trying to avoid everyone's gaze.

Fry looked up at Leela; hell, it was something she'd done ever since she'd arrived here, why break the habit now? "What are we going to do?"

"Nothing," Leela said. Her voice sounded a little distant. She looked down at Fry. "I'm going home. Are you going to be all right tonight?"

Fry nodded and tried to smile. It almost worked. She touched her hair as she thought about what to say next. It needed styling or something. At least it was clean. "I'll be fine I think. Maybe we could get together after work tomorrow for coffee."

"I'd like that," Leela said. She looked at Amy. "How about you?"

"I can't, I have a big sorority party to go to uptown tomorrow night. You can come if you want." Amy smiled hopefully, but Leela shook her head. "Fry?"

"I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that," Fry said sadly. She thought about how the old Fry would have reacted to such an invitation and groaned inwardly. So many odd memories that needed excising. Odd thought to have, too... "Thanks for taking me shopping today. I enjoyed it. A lot."

"Oh. Oh! Perhaps," Amy asked shyly, "you can come with me again some time?"

Fry glanced at Leela, who shrugged and looked away. "Sure, I'd like that."

"Great! We can hit all my favourite shops! I could take you for a manicure!" Amy jumped up from her seat and skipped - skipped - toward the door. She paused by the pile of shopping. "Fry, you have to get me one of those eOdels! I will do anything, just get me one. Please?"

Bender sat up. "Anything?"

"Not now Bender." Fry batted Bender's arm away from her head and grinned at Amy. "Have mine, I can get another one."

"You mean it? Thanks Fry!" She reached into the pile and plucked the miniature music player from the depths of the shopping pile. Amy hugged the box to her chest and spun around a couple of times. "You're the best!"

The door hissed and Amy was gone. Leela walked over to the shopping and retrieved her own meagre selection. "That was very sweet of you Philippa," she said as Fry joined her by the door. "Are you sure you know what you're doing, saying you'll go shopping with her?"

"Not really, but if she's paying who am I to argue?"

Leela shouldered her bags and took Fry's hand. "It was nice. You're a good friend, Philippa." She gave her a quick hug and squeezed her hands. "I'd better get home, I have to feed Nibbler before he eats the neighbour's cat again."

Leela stepped back and looked Fry up and down. "You're making a great woman, you know that?" She followed Amy out of the apartment, leaving Fry alone with her thoughts.

And Bender's.

"You know what I think," the robot said after a moment. Fry waited the obligatory half-second that Bender allowed as a sop to anyone who might want to interrupt. "I think you should get yourself some fancy hosiery and-"

"Don't push your luck Bender."

"It was just an idea..." Fry heard Bender stand up and clump toward his room. "Oh, oh you could-"

"Does it involve you using me to make money in some sort of exploitative mantrap on the internet?" Fry turned around and glared at Bender. "Because if it does I'm probably not interested."


"Goodnight Bender." Fry turned to her room, then paused. She looked back at the forlorn robot, suddenly feeling guilty. "If it makes you feel better, someone needs to be home when the new TV arrives." When Bender didn't move, Fry edged a little closer. "I bought us sports cable?"


Space Pope
« Reply #23 on: 11-07-2007 10:59 »

I'm curious, is it simply that the posts are too long? Too close together? Or am I just scaring people away with purple prose? Is it possible that the feminine pronoun immediately before the word "Fry" makes people nervous? Who is that handsome masked man?

All these questions and more will be answered in a parallel universe. Meanwhile, in this reality, I keep posting.


What's a few crumbs between friends?

The next morning saw Fry stumbling into work almost an hour late. She practically crawled up the stairs to the lounge and collapsed on the couch with a groan. Fry closed her eyes as soon as she hit the cushions and didn't even notice when Leela entered the room.

"Wow, are you okay? You look like hell," Leela said, pulling Fry upright. Fry groaned again. "What's the matter?"

Fry slumped in the seat, shielding her eyes from the sunlight streaming through the window. "I didn't sleep very well last night. Every time I rolled over these damn things would... Leela how do you cope with it?"

"I suppose you sort of get used to it," Leela said slowly. "To be honest I never thought about it before. Let me guess, you kept rolling on to your front."

Fry shut her eyes and slowly nodded her head. She flopped back on the couch and spread her arms out with a plaintive sigh. "I never thought I'd miss being able to do that."

"Want some coffee?"

Fry nodded. "Oh yes. Strong as you got. In fact just bring me the raw coffee and a spoon."

"You're in luck, I found some Turkish espresso in the back of a cupboard this morning. Besides," Leela added as she walked away. "It looks like we're not going to be doing much in the way of deliveries today. Business has been pretty slow recently."

The kitchen door closed behind Leela just moments before the hangar door opened, admitting Professor Farnsworth. He shuffled in and paused at the threshold.

"Good news ev-" Farnsworth grimaced and peered around the room. His gaze rested on Fry. "Oh."

"Sorry Professor, just me right now," Fry said. She opened her eyes and looked at him. "Leela will be back in a few minutes if that helps."

"It doesn't help at all!" Farnsworth slowly turned himself around and shuffled out of the room, mumbling to himself. Fry cast a tired gaze toward the door and then let her head loll back against the couch. She laid an arm over her eyes to block out the light.

Her relief was short lived.

"Hey, wake up lazybones, your coffee's getting cold." Leela poked Fry until she sat upright again.

"Thanks." Fry managed to pull herself upright. She took the cup Leela proffered and immersed her head in the thick steam rising from the coffee's surface. "Oh I needed that," she said after a moment, keeping her eyes closed. She took a deep breath of the steam. Her eyes snapped open. "Wow this stuff is strong."

"Yes. Be careful with it, you don't want to overdose on caffeine before this afternoon, remember?"

"I think I might have already." Fry looked into the coffee. After a moment of thought she put it down on the table and stood up. "The Professor was in a moment ago. I think he has some sort of announcement to make."

"Perhaps we've got a job," Leela said with a smile. She rubbed her hands together with glee. "An actual job. It's been so long since I flew that I've almost forgotten how. Come on, he's probably in his lab."

Fry grimaced. She wasn't so sure about going up to the lab again. Last time she'd not been able to get up to the door without her heart fluttering. She hung back a moment. "I think we'd better check the conference room first," she said quietly. Leela gave her a gentle look and then nodded.

"Okay, you check the conference room, I'll take the lab. One of us should find him."

"Oh. Yes, that would work. I-" Fry was interrupted by a PA speaker crackling to life. Feedback whistled around the building. "When did that get installed?"

"Beats me," Leela said. They looked up at the ceiling as the PA crackled again. Professor Farnsworth's echoed after it.

"Attention employees, this is an announcement, h'yes." There was a pause and more feedback. Farnsworth's voice was stilted and monotonous, as if he was reading from a script. "Good news. Everyone. Due to. The lack. Of. Gainf-"

"Oh gimme that you silly old mon, mon," Hermes's voice cut in. He coughed into the speaker a few times. "Good morning employees, due to the continuin dearth of available work we are no longer goin to pay you to be here sitting on your idle buttocks, until and unless you can supply the appropriate Bureaucrat Non-functional Employment License. All pay is therefore suspended until an order comes in. Of course we will expect you to remain on duty for as long as required to maintain a speedy response time in such an eventuality. Please have a productive and pleasant day."

"I could have said it better," Farnsworth said, before the speaker cut off. There was a moment of silence as the two women contemplated what they'd heard.

"I guess we're getting that coffee early then," Leela said, heading for the door. "There's that nice place across the road, or we could try somewhere else."

"I think some other place would be best. That one across the road has... memories." Fry glanced at the coffee shop as they exited the building. Last time he'd been there had been the first time she'd been able to tell Leela how she really felt. It was strange. She knew in her head that she had loved Leela, but now she couldn't muster it. The feelings were there but, filtered through her new mind, were radically different, as if what had been a sort of lustful pursuit had turned into something completely different.

Fry realised she'd stopped walking and jogged to catch up with Leela, who had paused at the street corner. She smiled at Fry again. "Come on lazy bones, I thought all that Turkish grunge would have had you bouncing off the walls by now."

Fry managed to muster a half-hearted laugh. Leela peered at her and tutted. "You really didn't sleep at all last night, did you."

"Not a wink. I think it's the familiarity of my room back home," Fry said as they crossed the road. There was surprisingly little traffic around. "It's like it;'s my room, but it's not my room, if you see what I mean. It's a man's room, I wasn't really comfortable in it any more, and that's on top of... well." She glanced down and the grinned nervously. "Don't make any jokes."

"Wouldn't dream of it," Leela said. They came to a small coffee bar in a side-street called ‘Maxine's', with a pair of steel tables on the pavement outside, and several overstuffed couches behind the windows. A few bookish patrons slumbering in the deep folds of upholstery barely acknowledged Fry and Leela as they entered the bar, though a slim attendant waved to them from behind the counter.

"What can I get you lovely ladies," he said as they approached. He paused at the sight of Leela's eye and raised an eyebrow. "Hey aren't you the one that-"

Leela glared at the young man. "If this is about Brannigan..."

"Oh. Oh no, no, whatever that might be, I have no idea." The attendant fiddled with his cups nervously. "No, you were the woman that opera a few weeks back was about, weren't you?"

"Why yes, I was as a matter of fact," Leela said, softening remarkably fast. She smiled at the young man. He straightened up and smiled back.

"You're a lucky woman, having someone write an entire opera for you. And the tragedy of it all too... some of my patrons were talking about it for weeks afterwards. Is it true he's disappeared?"

Fry and Leela glanced at each other. "Something like that," Leela said after a moment. She looked at Fry again and her eye seemed to mirror Fry's own thoughts. The attendant cleared his throat and looked expectantly at the pair.

"So what'll it be?"

"Two regular coffees, ooh, and a vanilla danish," Leela added. Fry felt compelled to look under the counter at the delights. She shouldn't... should she? "Oh go on, treat yourself," Leela said playfully.

"Well, if you say so, better make it two," Fry said, giving Leela a wan smile. Leela paid the attendant, accompanying it with another smile and they moved off to a far corner of the bar.

"Who knew a place like this could still exist," Leela said as they sat down. Fry felt herself sinking into the deep cushions and tried to shuffle around so that she didn't completely disappear. Leela gave a quiet laugh at her apparent discomfort. "The pain of having such a cute little butt," she said with an evil smile.

"I'm not going to dignify that with a response," Fry replied. She wiggled about again, found herself a comfortable spot and sat back just as the attendant brought out their coffee and danish.

"Back in a second," he said, departing with the tray, only to return a moment later with a large steaming pot of coffee. "It's not often we get anyone famous in here, no matter how fleeting it might have been, so... refills on the house. My treat."

"Well thank you very much, uh..." Leela peered at the attendant's name-badge. "Samuel Happy To Help."

"Just Sam will do," the man said with a grin. He neatened up their table a little and then retreated behind the counter again, where he picked up a book and began to read.

Fry picked up her coffee and sniffed at it. "Oh, that's not bad." She took a small sip and then peered at the Danish, hunger flashing through her belly, chased by a strange sort of shame. Leela was already attacking hers with gusto. "You know, right after I found out what had happened I promised myself I wouldn't act like a stereotype."

"Eating a few pastries isn't a stereotype, Philippa," Leela said. She brushed a crumb from her lip. "Some women are ice-cream munching sugar addicts, just like some men are beer-swilling idiots. It's just the way things are."

"I guess." Fry ignored the possibly unconscious jibe. She fingered the pastry and then tasted it. "Doesn't taste so bad," she said, before taking another bite.

"You're just paranoid because you're still remembering how you used to look at women," Leela said, before polishing off her pastry. She washed it down with some coffee and then daintily dabbed her lips with a napkin. "You've got to relax a little, be yourself."

"Myself. I'm not too clear on what that is now," Fry responded sadly. She looked up at Leela; that look was in her eye again and Fry wondered if she had it too. She felt it. A sort of distant loss that grew more remote every time she thought about it. Perhaps Leela was going the same way? Perhaps...

"You said it yourself, you are what you are. Just relax and let your heart do the thinking for a bit. Don't let those memories dictate to you. They're not the sum of your existence. Well they are the sum of your existence, but they're not everything you can be."

Fry nodded and looked down. Had she really finished off that entire pastry without noticing? Incredible. She looked over at Samuel. "Hey, excuse me, have you got any cookies in this place?"

Samuel smiled and nodded. "I have a large selection, miss. I'll bring you out a few samples."

"Samples," Leela said, leaning close to Fry. "Philippa, you sly minx, getting us free biscuits!"

"Hey, if he gives them to us free it'll be because of you, not me. You're the famous one."

"You wrote the opera," Leela said. Fry cast her eyes down at the table and sighed, to which Leela replied by putting her hand on Fry's. "I'm sorry."

"It's all right. I'd hoped the ending would..." Fry looked up at Leela again, right into her eye this time. "I've told you a thousand times how I felt. Now I'm finally in a position where we can really relate to you and I don't feel it any more. At least, not in the same way."

Leela's smile faltered for a moment and she blinked hard a few times. Then the smile returned, a little broader. "We'll always have danish," she said brightly.

Fry returned the smile. "There's more than that, Leela. For the first time in my life I can talk to you as an equal. I'm happy. I thought I'd lost my shot at it, but I got another in exchange, and if I have to spend a year like this then it'll be the best year of my life."

Fry slipped her hand out from under Leela's and then placed it on top. Leela sniffled. "That's the sweetest, saddest, most beautiful thing I've ever heard."

"Me too," Samuel said, sliding a plate of cookies on to their table. He stood back a little. Both women stared at him. "What?"

"Can't you see we're having a moment here?" Leela said. She gave Samuel a stern look but he just stared right back at her, and then smiled again.

"On the house," he said. He winked at Fry and then turned to walk away.

"What are you doing," Fry said, nudging Leela's arm. Hard. Leela grimaced and rubbed her biceps.

"Should it matter?"

"It matters enough if we want to keep coming to this place," Fry whispered, though loud enough to get her emotions across. "Besides, he's..."

Leela raised her eyebrow, and then her eye widened; a singular sight. She put her hand to her mouth and gasped. "Philippa, what are you saying?"

"He's... cute," Fry eventually managed. She blushed. Leela put her other hand to her mouth to stifle a laugh. "Oh come on, can't a girl make an observation?"

"A girl can, for sure," Leela said in between quiet chuckles. She managed to pause long enough to pour herself a fresh cup of coffee, over which she peered at Fry, who turned red again. "It's healthy and completely normal to say it. He is cute," Leela observed, glancing at the counter. "I wouldn't argue with that for a moment. It's just... you."

"I'm embarrassed enough without you reminding me," Fry said, stirring her coffee absently as she looked toward Samuel again. She suddenly realised what she was doing and decided to search through the cookies. Eventually, after retrieving something tasty, she risked another look at Leela. She was looking at the counter as well, a slightly dreamy look on her face, and Fry felt an odd stab of jealousy. Not for Leela though, which was odd. She looked at Samuel again. "Damn. My first real crush and I'm already competing? This is too far out."

Leela looked at her. Then they both burst out laughing.

Space Pope
« Reply #24 on: 11-12-2007 07:32 »



Time passed, punctuated by a few strange happenings that resulted from the changes wrought by the accident. A tweak in the earth's magnetic field sent a dozen or so birds flying into a volcano. A few stray particles of air sent swirling from their correct course caused a  hurricane to form on the Great Lakes three months later, in Andalusia the very surprised-looking face of Cliff Richards appeared on a thousand tortillas, and the orbit of Mars was changed such that in several centuries it would be almost half a degree warmer on average. A single misplaced worker caused an ant-colony on the coast of Peru to gain sentience and begin formulating the conquest of the colony next door, only to be wiped out a week later by a freak wave sixteen meters high and three wide, caused by a microscopic eddy current off the coast of Japan that had suddenly turned in the wrong direction. After that things generally died down; so much change was simply lost in the noise and so much more would never have any impact in less than a million years.

Planet Express started to pick up jobs again soon after, mostly long-distance courier work, which pleased Leela no end as it allowed her to indulge in a little racing in the deeps, and it pleased Fry because it got her out of the world now and then. In between drops they spent a lot of their time at Maxine's, passing the afternoons in idle chatter with each other and the regular patrons, who seemed enamoured with them both to varying degrees. Fry spent a few days flirting with Samuel until it became clear that he only had eyes for Leela, and it seemed that Leela, free of any latent concern for Fry's potential feelings toward her, was starting to fall for his blandishments too.

Fry spent that week in a jealous huff but eventually realised that she would have had a hard time of it if things had gone the other way; some aspects of her new sexuality remained uncomfortable to think about. Instead she busied herself with the day-to-day of her job and minimal social life, and  she even consented to a few shopping trips with Amy for form's sake, incidentally amassing a rather large collection of fancy clothes that Fry figured she'd probably never wear. But what the hell, Amy was paying for them.

The one problem she faced was Bender. Whilst everyone else had accepted the change, or at least grown used to it enough to not notice any more, Bender seemed to hold a very specific sort of grudge against it. Fry tried to find ways to restore their friendship without breaking Leela's admonition to not ‘hurry him up' but it seemed, as the weeks turned into months, that there was a barrier between them that had never existed before, and eventually she gave up. For his part, Bender at least maintained a sort of formal acknowledgement of her existence but nothing more. No more trips to the pits and bars, no more crazy schemes and late-night parties.

Fry knew she should feel bad about it but she just couldn't muster the feelings. She was, as she explained to Leela and Amy on the last day of their latest jaunt, having too much fun.


"Well perhaps you could try getting your own place," Leela said after a moment's thought. The ship was drifting along in a high earth orbit while they waited for a landing slot, and the three of them were sat in the galley with their now obligatory cups of coffee, passing the time. "It's not like you two really even see each other outside of work any more."

"I really don't know about that though," Fry said. She screwed up her face as she thought. Decisions were so hard. "I mean, he's my friend, I owe it to him to at least try."

"It's obvious he doesn't want you as a friend any more," Leela replied. She touched Fry's arm and gave her a comforting smile. "Sometimes you just have to acknowledge these things and, as the men say, ‘move on'."

Fry frowned into her coffee. "It was never like that. I'm sure it wasn't."

"You moved on pretty fast after we split up," Amy said with what might have been a frown or just hard concentration. It was hard to tell sometimes. "And so did I, come to think of it."

"Face it Phi, you two aren't working." The communications alarm bleeped. Leela made a face and stood up. "That'll be our landing slot. At least think about it, okay?"

"Okay," Fry said, staring at her hands on the table. She waited for Leela to leave before standing up herself. "I guess we'd better go with her."

"Wait." Amy put her hand on Fry's and motioned her to sit down again. "Look, Fry, I know you're upset about Bender but Leela's right, you're just not working together any more."

"I can't just move out though. He's my friend! It wouldn't be fair to him."

"What about you, Phi? You should be thinking about yourself now and then. I do," Amy said with a pout. "A lot."

"Yes, but you're-"

"Just like you, remember? Not that I'd be the first to listen to Leela when she's in that sort mood but she's right, Phi, we're very similar. You just have a few more issues than me is all."

"But it's such a nice apartment..." She looked up. Amy gave her a sympathetic smile. "I... it would... look, he's my friend. I can't just decide to up and leave after nearly six years of living with him. I know that our interests aren't so much the same any more-"

"Guh! Phi, they couldn't be more different! He's a guy, he does guy things that most women wouldn't be seen dead doing, and now neither would you."

"That's not fair Amy. There are lots of women who like the things I used to... like... ah." Fry twiddled her fingers and glanced around the galley as if it would somehow pass on the conversation to Bender. "I'll talk to him tomorrow," she said sadly.

Fry pushed back from the table and left the galley. She paused at the ladder and looked back at Amy. "He was the first person I met here who was nice to me. I think he even liked me. How would you feel if you had to leave someone like that?"

"Oh Phi..." Amy stepped over to Fry and put an arm around her shoulders. "Everyone likes me."


The entered the bridge to find Leela swearing at a blank viewscreen. She thumped the control column and almost growled at Fry when she came near. "What do you want?"

Fry put her hands up and backed away. "Uh... just... visiting?" She looked out of the windows at earth; their orbit seemed to have changed but it wasn't any lower. "I take it we're not going home yet."

"Hell no, that fat, arrogant son of a..." Leela closed her eye and sighed. "We're being held in place until the Nimbus and her escort have made some sort of victory pass over New New York and Washington. They said it'll only take a few minutes, though I expect Zapp will managed to screw it up anyway, but the time it takes to get everyone organised afterwards means we're stuck up here for another half hour."

"That big ship flying over New New York? I wish I could see that..." Fry said, a wistful expression fleeting across her face. She walked over to the windows and peered out into space, where she could see they were just passing over the Arabian Steppe, glowing pale grey-green in early morning light. She turned and looked at Leela. "I'm going to have a talk with Bender soon, but I need to find a place to stay before I do."

Leela smiled a broad smile. "There might be an apartment in my building you could-"

"Oh, no. No offence, Leela, but I need something a little more... airy." Fry sighed and rubbed her eyes, wondering where all her emotion had gone. It felt wrong talking about this so calmly. "And I need a little time first."

"Weell... okay, it's not something to rush in to," Leela replied. She glanced at the chronometer and then at the view screen again. "I could-"

Leela's sentence was interrupted by the viewscreen as it suddenly burst into life. The oversized visage of Zapp Brannigan appeared out of the fizzling static and contrived by some strange miracle to appear even more smug and unbearable than usual.


"Leela," Zapp noddeed. He backed away from the camera and stuck a pose by his command chair. "Right now I am passing over the White House at this ship's maximum allowed speed in an atmosphere. It is a very tense and difficult manoeuvre that requires a great deal of concentration by all involved in its operation. You may then wonder why I'm calling you at this particular moment."

Leela glared at the screen. "Maybe your crew have managed to contrive a situation where you can't screw up, and so you're bored?"

"Ahhh, Leela, the games we play..." Zapp glanced around his command deck with a shifty eye before going on. "I am due to be honoured at a diplomatic function that will be the culmination of my latest grand strategy to protect the earth, yadda yadda and so on, and I will need a certain sexy female to accompany me."

"Forget it Zapp, we've been there already."

"You've been to Eridani?" Zapp looked puzzled until Kif whispered something in his ear. "Ahh, the wit of the woman. So we are at a stalemate, you and I. No matter, I shall have Kif here assign me some other beautiful female for the evening."

On the edge of the screen Kif's shoulder's slumped and he sighed. Leela rolled her eye. "So, I guess this is goodbye then. Not a moment too soon either."

Zapp straightened up and looked suitably anguished. "Leela, wait." He walked toward the monitor again. "I have one more suggestion before you leave."

Leela sighed and folded her arms. "Go on. And this better be good."

"I have discretion to invite a certain number of guests to the par-" he paused and smiled. "Conference, I should say. I want to invite you and some of your more photogenic friends. It would be beneficial for all involved."

Leela frowned and was about to tell Zapp to take a hike when Amy touched her shoulder. "Leela, can we go? Please? I've not been to a decent party for nearly a month."

"Oh I don't know..." she turned from the screen and killed the audio. "Amy, this is Zapp we're talking about. He'll do something stupid and then try to get me into bed."

"Again," Amy added, leaping back in case Leela lashed out at her. Leela growled at Amy, who stuck out her tongue. "Come on Leela, it'll be fun!"

"Yeah," Fry added, stepping forward to support Amy. "At the very least it would give us something to do for a few days, and I bet the Professor would love rubbing shoulders with all those rich and powerful people. Besides, what's the worst that could happen?"

"Oh I know exactly what." Leela looked a the screen; Zapp was conversing with one of his crew about something. Probably ordering himself a new velour shower cap, Leela thought bitterly. "Well... against my better judgement, perhaps."

Amy cheered. Leela turned back to the viewscreen and activated the sound again. "Okay Zapp, we're coming, but I reserve the right to bring a date who isn't you."

Zapp's face fell, but he rallied magnificently. "I accept the challenge of besting your... ‘date'. I shall see you in one week on Eridani Prime, and then the contest shall begin anew."

The screen blanked out before Leela could get a retort in. She scowled at the screen, then turned on Amy. "You got me into this. If anything goes wrong..."

"Nothing will go wrong, Leela," Amy said with an evil smile. "We have Philippa to run interference for you now."

"What?" Fry put her hands up protectively and backed away. "Oh no, no way, I am not going anywhere near him, not in a million years."

Leela looked over at Fry with a thoughtful look. "He doesn't know what happened to you..."

"You could play a cousin or a long-lost sister," Amy said with a cheerful, almost vacant grin on her face. She pinched Fry's cheek. "Come on, it'll be fun. You can just talk man-talk or something."

Fry batted Amy's hand away, frowned and shook her head. "No way."

"We'll talk about this later," Leela said, fiddling with the ship's controls. She powered up the engines and started altering their orbit. "At least all that talking passed the time. I don't think I could have stood being up here another minute."

Fry sat down at the communications console and stared out of the window, her mind racing. Buying dresses had been one thing, but she'd never actually expected to wear them. The planet tilted as Leela manoeuvred the ship for re-entry, giving Fry a brief glimpse of passing continents and distance orbiting craft jostling for space in the relatively crowded shipping lanes above Earth. Suddenly the Nimbus appeared in the distance, rising up from the atmosphere over the Atlantic like a giant grinning shark. She was easy enough to stop; the bevy of support craft following in her wake left a glittering trail through the tenuous air, pointing almost directly toward them. "Leela?"

"Yuh-huh? I'm a bit busy right now Phi," Leela said, her eye concentrated on a guidance screen.

"I think we need to go a different direction," she said, warily eyeing the DOOP ship, which was coming awfully close now. The fear in her voice must have got to Amy, who followed Fry's gaze and gasped.

"Bun tyen-shung duh ee-dway-ro!" Leela turned at glared at Amy, who put her hands over her mouth and tried to smile apologetically at the same time. "Sorry..."

"Damn that idiot," Leela said as she realised what was happening. She overrode the landing computer and turned the ship ssharply to port. The computers blared course warnings at her as they moved to avoid the Nimbus, and then started to warble a constant re-entry warning. "This is going to be very interesting..."

Amy grabbed hold of her seat. "Define interesting."

The Planet Express ship bucked and started to tumble as the Nimbus roared past, setting off a flurry of fresh alarms as the sudden shift in attitude was miss-matched by the gravity generator. Amy swore again as she was tossed across the cabin. Fry managed to hold on to her seat, but felt bile rising in her throat as the gravity within the ship shifted and twisted, sending her into momentary free-fall.

The moment passed. Leela managed to right the ship, though they were several miles off their course already. She grumbled and set about returning them to the correct heading. Fry pulled herself from her seat and went over to Amy, who lay groaning on the deck near the rear bulkhead. "Amy? Are you all right?"

"Oh... never better," she replied faintly, before pushing herself up. Amy hissed in pain when she moved. "Ai yah, I think I broke something!"

"Might be a fingernail," Fry said, putting an arm under Amy's back. She lifted the young woman to a sitting position. "Come on, you probably just pulled a muscle or something. It'll help if you walk it off."

Amy grimaced as she was pulled upright. She staggered over to the communications console chair with Fry's help and sat heavily down.

"I won't ask what you called Zapp, much as I'd like to join in," Leela said, making a few adjustments to their course. Earth filled the windows now as they descended across the Atlantic. She turned from the console and looked at Amy. "How-"

The comms console beeped. Amy peered at it. "Huh. Nimbus calling."

"Unless it's an abject apology I don't want to know." Leela turned back to her console, her eye concentrated on the readouts and she tried to right their course again. Amy shrugged and activated the comms.

"Amy? Are you there?"

"Kif!" Amy sat up in her seat, then hissed again and grabbed her side. She muttered something under her breath and then spoke up. "Kif, what the hell was that?"

"Oh Amy, my love, I'm so sorry. Did you get hurt? I'll-"

Amy grimaced at Kif's emotional display. "Kif, please, I'm fine." She rolled her eyes at Fry before going on. "What was going on over there?"

"Amy, it was horrible. Zapp kept demanding we make a pass at Leela. I think he's gone completely mad." There was a pause. "Again."

"And you want me to go distract that guy?" Fry shook her head. "No way. I'm not-"

"Quiet!" Amy turned back to the console. "Kiffy, why aren't you on visual, I haven't seen you for months!"

"I'm sorry Amy, most of our visual comms are still out of action after that plasma bolt hit us and we've not laid into drydock to get them repaired yet. The Captain had us spend all our time jerry-rigging a working visual on the bridge so he could pose for diplomats."

Leela glanced over her shoulder. "Plasma bolt?" She looked at Amy and Fry. "Like the ones we saw over fifth avenue that time?"

"I, uh, if, if you say so," Kif replied cautiously. "It hit the main engines and sent a shockwave through the ship's gravity system, so that Zapp ended up stabbing the lead Ruklisk negotiator. Don't believe him when he says it was bravery and skill that won the negotiations. It was a complete accident, but he's been unbearable ever since."

"Aww, poor kiffy..." Leela coughed loudly. Amy turned and glared at her. "Come on, you've been in love before haven't you?"

Leela looked over her shoulder at Amy. "Not like that," she retorted.

Space Pope
« Reply #25 on: 11-17-2007 17:47 »

More! No title this time because I'm too tired to make one up...  :)


The ship made landfall without further incident, not counting Fry's unfortunate reaction to a stale Twinky she found in the galley, and fairly soon the whole Planet Express staff were gathered in the conference room.

The room was tense; normally a post-mission debrief would only involve Leela and Hermes, sorting out the accounts and getting stories straight for when the clients inevitably called to complain about broken packages and the like, whilst everyone went home early to get some well-deserved rest. The resentment at being kept behind was almost palpable.

On top of that, Fry found herself sat directly opposite Bender with the entire expanse of the table between them. Bender didn't look at her as she sat down, preferring to stare at the ceiling with his eyeshield half lowered as he smoked one of the cigars Fry could no longer stand to be around.

The Professor shuffled in and sat down in his chair at the head of the table. He gave everyone a meaningful look. "You may be wondering why I called you all here today," he said after a moment. "I realise that you all want to go home and enjoy yourselves in the fleshpots and such, but Leela has brought something important to my attention. The peace treaty gathering on Eridani Prime," he said, adjusting his glasses. "The heads of almost every major world in the Democratic Order of Planets will be there and I want a piece of that action!"

"Why not just spam them like everyone else does," Bender asked. "I could set it up for you. I'd only ask for a sixty percent cut."

"That's preposterous in the extreme because I have no idea what you're talking about," Farnsworth said. He wiped his brow. "And I certainly haven't tried it already either."

"Professor..." Leela leaned forward a little. "I don't like it. Zapp-"

"Oh that wonderful captain Brannigan, h'yes, he'll be there won't he? We need an in, Leela. Something that will get us a more steady income."

"Aye, nothing is more steady and dependable than a government contract," Hermes added, patting his briefcase.

Leela gave Hermes a puzzled look. "But aren't we already getting a lot of work? I don't remember flying this much since, well, ever."

"My projections are never wrong," Hermes said. He pressed a few buttons on the console in front of him, activating the main display screen, where a graph appeared. "Based on our current income and expenditure we seem to be doing fine," he said. A few more buttons were pressed and the graph expanded to include a sudden precipitous fall. "However, that doesn't factor in the reductions that will be comin' in the economy by the end of the year thanks to Captain Brannigan's shenanigans."


"Yep. The Democratic Order of Planets is ‘administratively reorganisin' their entire fleet now that the cold war is over, and that means a lot of service contracts lapsin', a lot of ex sailors lookin' for work and a lot of people who don't need parts deliverin' any more. Taking that into account we'll be bankrupt in eight to ten months at the very latest. That means you lot will be out of work." He turned to face the team, his face deadly serious. "Permanently."

Fry looked over at Bender, now fully attentive. The robot turned to look back at her and spoke. "How about downsizing? Getting rid of unnecessary burdens and such."

"Oh we thought about that," Farnsworth said. "The mayor's office and the I.N.S. both said that Zoidberg was our responsibility whether we wanted him or not."

"That means he's an employee, and as long as he's an employee we have to pay him a wage." Hermes glanced down at his papers. "Even if it is just fifty cents a week..."

Zoidberg's eyes widened. "I'm getting a raise? Hooray!"

"Don't be stupid you spineless caneswaggler!" Hermes adjusted his glasses and peered at the papers again. "Everyone else on the team has to be here otherwise we don't function."

"You mean," Amy said after a moment's thought, "you're saying that after all these years of holding ‘expendable' above our heads, we're all actually necessary employees?"

Hermes glared at Amy, not for the first time, but with extra passion now. "Yes," he admitted, making a pained face. He shuffled the papers. "And unless we have some sort of government contract you'll all be unemployed necessary employees too."

Farnsworth cleared his throat as Hermes sat down. "That's where you come in, Leela. And the rest of you. We need to get one of those heads of state to agree to pay us lots of money. I don't know how you'll do it. You can sleep with them for all I care, but you are all going to that function, and that's final."

There was a general grumbling as everyone stood to leave - except Amy and Zoidberg, who both seemed to be quite happy in their own ways. Leela glared at the young intern's back as she left but managed to hold back her ire though, if Amy had seen her eye, she might have had a fairly good idea of what Leela wanted to say.

Fry stayed in her seat, watching Bender. The robot was still puffing away on his cheroot, the apparent picture of perfect contentment. He took out the cigar and examined it.

"So, you coming home tonight?" He refused to look at Fry when he spoke. In the background Leela paused and turned to listen.

"I... I'm not sure that's any of your business, Bender," Fry said. She stayed in her seat. Bender, for his part, also refused to move. "But if you must know I was thinking about crashing with Amy."

"Okay then." Bender stubbed out the cigar on his own hand and dropped it into his compartment. "You've been doing that sort of thing a lot recently, Fry. Always hanging out with ‘the girls' or crashing somewhere, or just not turning up. I'm starting to wonder if you even live with me any more." He paused and tapped a finger against his chinplate. It made an annoying metallic clink with every beat. "On the other hand you're still paying half the rent so what do I care?"

Bender let out a short laugh and walked from the room whistling to himself. Fry watched him go; she felt like running after him, pulling him back, begging to have his friendship back but it wouldn't have worked. She sighed and looked down at the table.

Leela put her hand on Fry's shoulder. "It's hard, I know, but you'll get over it." Fry nodded sadly but kept her head low. It felt right. She didn't deserve to see anything. Leela rubbed her shoulder and sat down in the next seat. "I found some apartments we can look at for you next week if you're-"

"No. I'm sorry Leela, it's too soon to think about that right now. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to talk to you about it, right now I'm just not... not in the mood."

"Oh, I understand. I'm sorry Phi."

Fry finally looked up to see the rather unedifying sight of Professor Farnsworth shuffling toward them. "Hi Professor."

"Miss Fry. Leela." Farnsworth stopped by the table and smiled at them. "Ahh, don't you worry your pretty heads about that contract balderdash, it's really so simple even Zoidberg could do it. I just like to have a certain amount of, eyuh, redundancy in the system, yes. That's right."

"So in that case..." Leela put her hands on her hips. "You don't need me to go."

"Not as such, but it would help. Besides, the possibility of your attachment to that nice coffee-shop owner down the block would be wonderful leverage to use against your, uh, potential suitors?"

"What? How do you know about Samuel?"

"Ohh, that doesn't matter," Farnsworth said, waving Leela away with one hand. A tiny remote television slipped out of his cuff and wrapped itself around his palm, where it began showing a pale green image of Maxine's interior on a slim screen. "Ahh, I wondered where that went..."

Farnsworth slipped the device off his hand. Ignoring Leela's spluttered protest he turned to Fry and put a hand on her shoulder. "Miss Fry, You may be glad to hear that I'm very close to a solution to your, ah, problem. I have to run a few experiments over the next day or so but I believe I may well have enough information to reverse the process that made you what you are."

"That was a lot faster than I thought it would be," Fry said, giving the table a thoughtful stare. So soon... just when she was getting used to the way things were. "How soon can you do it?"

"Oh, two weeks, perhaps three at the most. It's not a particularly delicate operation, apart from the timing of the events. I've performed one or two small-scale transitions already with several elemental atoms. They're up in the lab if you want to have a look."

"I'm not sure that's such a good idea," Fry said. Leela put a hand on Fry's other shoulder.

"Come on Phi, you'll have to get over this fear of the lab some time or you'll never be able to get through this."

"Yes. Besides, my lab isn't the least bit scary," Farnsworth added, looking at the ceiling. "Well, uh, except for that singularity I accidentally created in the corner... but at least it makes the garbage easy to dispose of, h'yes." Farnsworth turned and peered at Fry as if he'd never seen her before.

Fry shifted under the glassy gaze of those thick-lensed eyes, which might have been trying to tell her something, or might just be completely blank from a stroke. She looked up at Leela. "I really don't know..."

"Come on Fry, what's the worst that can happen?"

Farnsworth slapped his face. "Oh lord, you just had to say it didn't you..." he turned and started the long trek to his lab, muttering about paradoxes and narratavium.

"What? Professor..." Leela sighed. She took Fry's shoulder again. "Come on, we'd better follow him before he forgets what he was going to do again."

Fry pushed herself from the chair and shook her arms trying to relieve the tension she could feel building up in her back. She smoothed down her shirt, tapped a toe against the ground and looked at Leela. "Okay, lets get this over with."

They followed Farnsworth up the stairs to his lab. Near the top of the staircase Fry suddenly hesitated and bit her lip.

"Philippa, what's-"

"That glow up there," Fry said, pointing. "I saw that last time. When it happened."

Leela looked up to the lab door. An orange light cast out of the door and on to the wall, picking out details with odd shadows. "That's probably just some weird lights or something. Come on, stop being a baby about this Phi."

"No, Leela, I really don't have a good feeling about this. It's like there's some sort of, of feeling in my stomach..." she looked past Leela's head at the light. "That light scares the crap out of me and I don't know why."

"Well-" Leela's sentence was cut off by a huge, sucking, roaring sound from the lab. She threw herself across Fry with a wordless yell, knocking her backwards so that they both fell back down the stairs to the landing just as a huge girder slammed through the wall. Fry hit the floor hard enough to knock the air from her lungs. She choked, took a deep breath and then let out a ragged scream.

When that didn't change anything Fry opened her eyes and tried to sit up. Leela's motionless body lay across her, surprisingly heavy given her size. Fry keened and tried to push Leela off but only managed to squirm a little way along the floor.

Leela grunted and suddenly woke with a yell. She glanced around, then down at Fry, and then up the stairs. "Oh hell." She clambered to her knees and pulled Fry up to a sitting position. Fry patted over herself to check everything was still working. She followed Leela's gaze up the stairs. A small patch of of the girder sputtered with pale blue flames as exotic chemicals from the lab burned away at the galvanising paint. Leela sat down next to Fry and whistled. "If you ever get one of those feelings again you make sure you tell me straight away, Phi. That was close."

Too close, Fry thought. She suddenly realised that the voice of the thought was female. What an odd thing to think about. "Oh, the Professor!" Fry shot to her feet and ran up the ruined stairs, clambering over the girder before she even thought about it. Leela was a step behind her when Fry reached the door to the lab.

The place was not wrecked, exactly. A blast mark marred the floor near the centre of the lab, a ragged hole had been punched in the roof and there were several girders embedded in the floor and wall but the room was largely intact, though the Smelloscope was smashed. Farnsworth stood near the far wall staring up at the sky, where a bright orange ball of flame was receding toward the horizon, already well on its way out into space. A chunk of masonry fell from the edge of the gap and crashed to the floor.

Leela gasped when she saw the mess, and then yelped when she saw what had caused it. "Fry!"

Fry glanced at Leela, wondering why she used that name now of all times. She quickly walked across the lab to the Professor, carefully skirting the blast mark and the more obviously dangerous equipment. "Professor?"

"Wah? Oh..." Farnsworth looked away from the plasma ball, now a barely noticeable dot in the sky. He adjusted his glasses. "Oh, it's you."

"What on earth was that... that thing?" Fry pointed at the sky. She looked back over the lab. "What did you do?"

Farnsworth turned and looked around his lab, seeming not to notice the destruction. "Well. That was an apparent side-effect of the universal matrix transition," he said.

"The... wha?"

"Universal... that doesn't matter! The point is, it's caused by the same thing that caused you to turn into a highly attractive woman. I hadn't quite thought about the full effects of what I was doing, but it seems that when the transition occurred a number of atomic nuclei were thrown on to new and slightly erratic courses." Farnsworth adjusted his glasses again. He peered up at the hole and tutted sadly. "It'll take a long time to get that fixed..."

Leela leaned on a bench, glancing up at the sky now and then. "That looked like the ones we saw over Fifth Avenue," she said, giving Fry a meaningful look.

Farnsworth suddenly turned to face Leela. "What? When? When did you see that?"

"Oh..." Leela thought for a moment. She pushed off from the bench and started to pace toward the hole. "A few days after Fry got out of the hospital. We were shopping with Amy."

"How many did you see?"

"Two," Fry said. She shoved her hands in her pockets. Farnsworth rubbed his chin, a frown creasing his already-creased brow. "Is it important?"

"Not as much as you'd think, but it does raise interesting questions. I had hoped the effect wasn't so widespread."

Fry looked at her shoes and sighed. She swung her leg back and forth. "Wait a minute. Didn't Kif say something about a plasma ball hitting the Nimbus?"

"Why yes, he did," Leela said. She folded her arms and looked up at the sky. "From what he said, that idiot captain would probably have screwed up those negotiations if he hadn't been knocked off balance by the blast."

"You're saying that this thing changed history or something?"

Farnsworth nodded slowly. "Yes... in a manner of speaking it did just that for millions of atoms, but most of those are so isolated that it wouldn't make a difference on a universal scale. However..." Farnsworth wandered over to a table where a few magnetic containment jars rested on a thick metal plate. He stared at the for a long time. "In the right circumstances, a sudden non-predictable change of direction by a single atom could caused a positive feedback wave that would result in a macroscopic events. Most of the changes would still not have any effect beyond being very pretty," he added, looking up at the gap again. The plasma ball was long gone now. "But if they were to happen at the right spot, as it appears to have with the Nimbus, the effects would be very profound. Our immediate history has been irreparably altered by this accident. Who knows what might have happened otherwise?"

"Well, that's all very interesting, Professor, but it doesn't seem to make much different to Philippa's condition." Leela glanced at Fry again, trying to re-assure her. "Sorry for talking for you like this Phi."

"Oh it's not a problem. I..." Fry shook her head and smiled. Farnsworth, for his part, just looked at them vacantly. Fry looked around the lab, marvelling at how little equipment was actually damaged. "I guess we saw the changed atoms right there. Is there a chance that could happen to me?"

"Oh my yes," Farnsworth said. Fry swallowed. "But it's so remote that it isn't worth worrying your pretty little head about."

Fry grumbled something about sexism and turned to leave. She was almost at the door when Farnsworth spoke again.

"Miss Fry, there is one thing that I haven't mentioned yet." Fry turned, glanced across the room at Leela again and then looked at the Professor. Farnsworth worried at a pile of papers and books on a workbench, eventually drawing out a few scraps of slightly singed paper. "It's probably nothing, but there's a few oddities that have been thrown up by my calculations. They're the only reason I haven't tried a large-scale experiment yet."

"What is it?" Fry watched the Professor leafing through his notes with a strange worry squirming around in her guts. Leela stood nearby, her face a picture of sympathy.

"I don't really know," Farnsworth said eventually. He put the papers down. "All my simulations work perfectly. The transitions to and from the alternate universal matrix work without any incident at an atomic scale," he said, glancing at the hole again. "Almost... there's a lot of uncertainty involved when you get above anything the size of a carbon atom. If it wasn't for that I would have been able to switch you back several weeks ago."

"If it's about risk, Professor, I'd be willing to take it," Fry said, looking at Leela again. Leela looked back, uncertainty creasing her brow for a moment. Then she looked away.

"Ohh, I was quite happy to risk your life already, Miss Fry, the problem is risking everyone else's as well. I have to be certain of that before I try and I won't be certain until next week. Now come along, go find me some nice men to clean up this lab."

Leela grimaced and shook her head. "Come on Phi, lets go get some coffee," she said, grabbing Fry as she walked past.

"Bye Professor," Fry managed to call before she was pulled through the door.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #26 on: 11-18-2007 07:19 »
« Last Edit on: 11-18-2007 07:19 by coldangel_1 »

Is it possible that the feminine pronoun immediately before the word "Fry" makes people nervous?

Yes maybe a little, but more so this sort of thing:

She knew in her head that she had loved Leela, but now she couldn't muster it.

I mean, I respect that you want to buck the trend of the (disturbingly prevalent) gender-swap genre of fanfic, but I really can't see that a person would stop loving someone due to a spontaneous gender switch, that one's strongest emotions could be so dependent upon simple hormonal chemistry. If two people love each other then one would hope that such connection is related more to who they are, rather than what. You've an opportunity to show love transcending the petty artiface of human phisicality and biology, that we are more than just the sum of our varied chemical reactions.
Sure, Fry and Leela seem buddy-buddy, but would that really be it? C'mon - let them have a kiss.
That isn't only my desire to see girl-on-girl action talking, I assure you. There is some genuine metaphysical and romantic inclination...
But this is, of course, your affair.

A single misplaced worker caused an ant-colony on the coast of Peru to gain sentience

I love it when this happens.

"Define interesting."

Oh God, oh God, we're all going to die.

Still reading. I'm enjoying all the quantum uncertainty and butterfly effects.
The coffee shop owner will die by my hand.

Space Pope
« Reply #27 on: 11-18-2007 08:04 »
« Last Edit on: 11-18-2007 08:04 »

Originally posted by coldangel_1:
  Oh God, oh God, we're all going to die.


Sure, Fry and Leela seem buddy-buddy, but would that really be it? C'mon - let them have a kiss.

Silence! You may be disappointed or you may not be. I am saying no more than that.

All right I'll say a little more. Sometimes it can take time to work through emotions.

Still reading. I'm enjoying all the quantum uncertainty and butterfly effects.
The coffee shop owner will die by my hand.

You'll hate him more than that by the end.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #28 on: 11-18-2007 10:41 »

I want Fry to stay a girl and keep this deep friendship with Leela forever. Friendship, you understand. None of that cheap lesbian crap.


Space Pope
« Reply #29 on: 11-18-2007 11:18 »

Great, now I have conflicting desires to satisfy!

Oh cruel fate, that you should mock me so!

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #30 on: 11-18-2007 16:30 »


Space Pope
« Reply #31 on: 11-21-2007 08:32 »

"So tell me, Philippa... what on earth is going on?"

They were sat at their usual table in Maxine's, by the window, in a pair of comfy chairs that Samuel insisted they use whenever they came in. Fry looked out of the window at the occasional passing traffic and the gritty water of the Hudson river in the distance. She sighed. "I don't think I want to turn back."

"What? Fry... Phi..." Leela put her coffee down and leaned forward. "You don't?"

Fry shrugged and picked at her customary danish with a forlorn expression. "I do want to change back, but... I... I like this, our friendship. I'd be worried about losing it again."

"Oh, Philippa, that's sweet. I think we could probably keep it up if you're willing to try," Leela said, picking up her coffee again. "What about Bender?"

"Well, what about him?" Fry put her coffee down and folded her arms. "He's boorish and rude and, and loud, and he smokes those damn cigars even when he knows I hate them. He never made an effort to be my friend."

Leela blinked at Fry's outburst. She leaned back and thought about it for a moment, as a strange worry began to manifest. "Oh lord. I screwed up," she said at least. Leela leaned forward again and took Fry's hand. "I really screwed up didn't I?"

"What are you talking about?"

"My advice. I told you to back off and let him work it out himself, but I didn't think about how you'd respond to his reactions... I'm sorry Phi. I think it was my fault."

"But he reacted exactly how you said he would whenever I tried to make up."

"Yes, but after your change you weren't used to the way men react any more," Leela said with a sad smile. "You said it yourself, your mind and body are completely different. What you remember doing in a given situation wouldn't apply now, because you think differently."

Fry nodded slowly. "Yeah, that's true. Actually I have a lot of trouble remembering how I used to act... well except for the more memorable moments," she added after a moment of thought. "It's all so... grey. Like I don't care about it any more."

"So that means that you wouldn't be able to communicate with him properly," Leela finished. She glanced over at the counter. Samuel waved to her. "Men communicate with women very differently to the way they communicate with each other. The problem is, Bender still can't see you as a woman, which means you'll have to either convince him to see you that way or try and ride things out until you change back."

"If I ever do," Fry said. She looked out of the window and sighed again. "There's so much going through my mind right now, Leela. So many things I wanted to say to people that I've never been able to say before because it would have sounded weird, or because I just didn't think about it. I can say them now because they don't sound weird."

"So you're smarter? I knew it!"

Fry's eyebrows creased together. "I wish..." she rattled her fingers on the table and smiled again. "I see some things more clearly than I used to but I'm not smarter. I can just say things that I couldn't before."

Leela twisted her empty cup around the table and fiddled with the handle. "There are some things you can't say now."

Fry blinked in surprise. This was about as close as she'd ever heard Leela come to admitting she had feelings for... but she couldn't, could she? The man she might have loved wasn't here. Fry put her hand out and gently touched Leela's arm. She smiled when Leela looked up.

A shadow fell across the table. "Not interrupting another moment, am I?" Samuel leaned forward and retrieved Leela's cup, giving her a wink as he straightened up. "I'll just get you a refill."

"Thanks Sam," Leela said with a coquettish grin. She fluttered her eyelid just a tiny little bit; Samuel grinned nervously and turned to leave. "Oh Samuel, wait a moment."

"Anything for you," he said, turning back. Leela patted the arm of her chair, motioning Samuel to sit down. He took a seat and smiled at the pair. "All right, what conspiracy are you beautiful creatures dragging me into?"

"Oh, nothing like that," Leela said. Fry thought she sounded a little flustered, but said nothing while Leela made eye at Samuel. For his part, the young man just sat and looked affable. "I, uh, that is we have been invited to a diplomatic function on Eridani. Movers and shakers and all that sort of thing," Leela said, her voice growing smaller. "And I sorta need a date."

"Why not take Philippa here? You two seem to make such a nice couple." Samuel smiled at Fry and then winked. Fry felt herself turning pink. Crap.

Leela let out an uncharacteristic giggle. "Oh you..."

"Well if you're going to let a catch like that go to waste..." Samuel stood up and gave Leela a florid bow. "My lady, I would be honoured to accompany you. When do we leave?"

"It's in a week."

"Ahh, great, then I have enough time find a temp to manage the cash register while I'm gone." Samuel picked up Leela's cup and smiled at her as he stepped back from the table. "Thank you. This means more to me than you realise."

"Oh you might not thank me once we're there," Leela said, and then grimaced as if letting out some sort of terrible secret. "You probably know about Zapp."

"The infamous Captain Brannigan? I heard something about a website, but do go on."

Leela bit back on the angry reply that rose in her mind. "He has it in his head that that I'm only bringing a date along to make him jealous. Don't be surprised if he tries to challenge you to some sort of testosterone match before the evening is out."

"Ahh that's nothing I can't handle. Why, only last week I had to put down Theo over there for trying to argue that Shakespeare's plays were really written by Jeffrey Archer. That was pretty, uh... harrowing..." Samuel's boast faded under Leela's pitying gaze. "Not good enough, huh?"

Leela smiled and shook her head. "You're a far better man than he is, but remember this guy commands a starship. He could vaporise you from orbit if he wanted."

Samuel tutted and tapped his chin. He looked around the shop at the assembled regulars, most of whom had apparently swapped books in the last fortnight. There was a strange, strained silence over them that seemed to collectively lean toward their table. One even had his book upside down. "I do hope you aren't trying to discourage me," he said, and the smiled again. "Never mind, I'll find myself an armoured tux and we'll see how things go."

"Great," Leela said. She and Fry stood up. "See you tomorrow then?"

"Ah yes, chocolate and blueberry cookie day," Samuel said with a wry grin. Leela twisted her fingers together.

"Am I really that predictable?"

"Oh yes, that's what I love about you two. It makes my accounts so much easier." Samuel pulled a tray from a nearby table and started cleaning up their plates. "I'll see you," he said as he walked away. Leela watched him go, her cheeks ever so slightly flushed.

"I never thought I'd see that," Fry said, putting on her coat.


"You. Fluttering like a little girl." They stepped out and made their way to the door, which Fry opened in what would have been a gallant gesture at one time. "I mean, I'd always hoped to see you acting that way toward me, though, god knows if I would have actually noticed it back then."

"I was not ‘fluttering'," Leela retorted. "Much..."

"Face it Leela, you were this far from tearing his clothes off there and then. Why don't you two just-"

"Phi, I appreciate the gesture but, really, it's a little weird." Leela pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. "What I mean is-"

"What you mean is that you still sometimes see me as the old Fry, too," Fry said. She put her hands behind her head as they walked, enjoying the sun on her face. "Don't worry about it. Even if you don't get used to me this way at least we're together, sorta. If it makes you happy to be with Sam then you don't need to worry about my feelings. I can live with it."

"But Philippa, what about the Professor turning you back? From what he's saying it'll just be a couple of weeks from now," Leela said. She took Fry's arm and pulled her close to the wall. "When you change back you'll be a man again. Even if we're good friends, all your old feelings will be back. What if... I... and, that is, if we..."

Fry turned away and looked up at the sky. "I don't think about it," she said eventually, turning her gaze to the planet express building down the street. "You know me, Leela. If I went around thinking about the future in that sort of detail I'd go crazy. I'd be you."

"So I'm crazy am I?"

"Well..." Fry shuffled her feet. "Okay, bad example."

"A minute before you were talking about how you didn't want to change back," Leela said. Fry sighed again.

"That was now talking. What I have now feels pretty good for me. I might change my mind again in five minutes." She turned back to Leela and put on a goofy half-smile. Leela just clutched at her bag, watching Fry's face.

"I wish I could be that impulsive, just once," she said quietly.

"Asking Sam out on a date is pretty impulsive for you," Fry replied. She glanced back down the block to Maxine's, where an old couple were sitting on one of the pavement tables arguing over something. Her face softened for a moment. "That could have been us," she said, with just a hint of longing.

"It could still be in some parallel universe." Leela nodded at the thought, but then humphed and shook her head. "Nah. I wouldn't be caught dead in paisley."


Everything looks crystal-clear in space. The lack of any intervening haze of to bestow objects with a strange, almost terrifying clarity at distances that the human mind almost can't comprehend, yet even those distances are witheringly small compared to the vast gulfs of interstellar space. Entire planets can be lost, flung out from their parent systems to wander dark and cold between stars, rarely found except by chance encounters.

Commander Sethi Powall of the DOOP light corvette Arcturus had never discovered a Wanderer before. They were rare, hard to find and tended to be flung from systems rich in heavy metals and exotic elements, which made them valuable, and made a discoverer... if not famous, then at least noteworthy. And rich. The DOOP paid a handsome discovery fee to any DOOP crew lucky enough to stumble across a Wanderer and Powall was quietly adding up how much of it would be left over once he'd bought himself that moon he had his eye on. Quite a lot, it seemed.

He glanced out of the Arcturus's main observation deck at the distant black mass, only visible by the stars it occluded, and then at the faint orange speck that had attracted his ship here in the first place. It was another one of the strange flares that had been reported all over Orion's Arm for a few weeks before disappearing into the deeps. His standing orders were to pursue and catalogue any unknown phenomena of that description but, frankly, the draw of the Wanderer was just too much. The entire crew were quietly celebrating - or not so quietly for some of those off duty. He'd have to care for a few hangovers next duty shift.

Powall had returned to contemplating his moon when the comms crackled. "Commander? Bridge, we just got a reading from the Wanderer."

"What?" Powall sat up. "What sort of reading?"

"Some sort of infra-red spike. It wasn't there before."

"I'll be right up." Powall looked longingly at the Wanderer and then left the observation deck for the bridge.

"Ok, tell me what we've got," he said as he entered the bridge. The lieutenant on duty, a Neptunian woman who's name Powall had never been able to remember, shooed an ensign away from the main sensor display and brought up a replay of the last 30 minutes.

"Looks like several heat spots sitting on the surface," she said, pointing to the display, which altered to bring the relevant area of the Wanderer's surface into a plan view. "They aren't moving and they haven't changed intensity, but our preliminary scans showed that this body was completely inert."

"So... you're saying someone else got here first?"

"It's one option, sir," the lieutenant said, folding two of her arms. She manipulated the display with the other two. Powall tried not to grimace. "There's also the possibility of micrometeorite impacts, previously unrecorded seismic activity or more of those flares."

"I see." Powall stared at the display. "Take us to stand-by alert anyway, just in case. And make sure our discovery claim has been sent, I don't want some fraznick prospector stealing our moons, er, money."

"Already done, sir," the lieutenant said. She turned to the ensign, now stood on the far side of the cramped bridge, and repeated Powall's order before turning back to the display. "If I might venture an opinion..."

"Go ahead."

"Perhaps it would be wise to retreat to a standard remote observation orbit." The Neptunian fixed Powall with a stare. Powall tried to look into her pale blue eyes and gave up, looking away. He could never intimidate blueskins no matter how hard he tried. It didn't help that they reminded him of Vishnu, which brought up all sorts of bitter childhood memories of his Swamij beating the knowledge of the five forms into his head.

"I shall consider it, Lieutenant. For now-"

"Sir!" Another ensign turned from the weapons console. "Sir, multiple contacts, directly ahead!"

Powall strolled over to the command chair and sat down, bringing up an auxiliary display. "Identity?"

"Unknown sir, computer is currently classifying as heavy assault cruiser, equivalent to Argo class."

"Holy hells... intentions?"

"Apparently hostile sir..." the ensign tapped away at his console, his skin turning pale as he examined the readouts. "Uh... very hostile sir. Very very hostile. Weapons are armed, gun-ports open, shields raised and they appear to be moving to flank us."

"Get us out of here, now!" Powall turned to the Neptunian lieutenant. "Get a message to high command, hostile craft detected-"

"Sir, we have an ID on the craft," the ensign said, turning again. "They're Ruklisk sir."

"What? Aren't we-" An alarm sounded, warning of incoming fire. "Evasive action. Aren't we at peace with those sons of Shiva now?"

"Aye." The ship bucked as it sought to flee the closing Ruklisk cruisers. Their firing was a little erratic, missing the ship by thousands of metres, but one shot was true and crashed against the shields, ringing the little ship's hull like a bell. Powall winced. This wasn't good.

"We're deep inside DOOP territory, what the hell are the Ruklisk doing here?"

"Hiding," the lieutenant said, pointing at the wanderer. "We're about eleven light-years beyond Eridani sir, and moving toward earth at about point seven C relative. The chances of them finding this right before we did are astronomically small, they've probably been tailing this rock for the last century."

"Oh... right-" Powall winced as another shot crashed home, shaking the bridge and setting a dozen alarms squawking. They weren't going to survive many more like that.

"Engines hit sir, shields holding," someone shouted. Powall groaned.

"Tell me we have comms!"

"Stand by... minimal comms sir." Another impact. Somewhere below the deck Powall could hear a rending explosion and a strange, ear-piercing shriek as part of the lower deck started to decompress. "We've lost all propulsion sir. Port-side shields have collapsed, multiple breaches on decks four and five."

"Mahesha take them!"

"Perhaps we should abandon ship sir," the Lieutenant said, turning to look at Powall.

"No Lieutenant, we won't be doing that," Powall said, looking out at the closing cruisers, still tiny dots against the dark star-field. The bridge shook under another barrage from the nearest cruiser. "The Ruklisk like to take prisoners."

Something about the way he said it must have hit home, as a withering reply died in the Lieutenant's throat. She blinked and looked away. "I see."

"Engage the self destruct systems and then let the bastards have everything we've got," Powall said, turning to the weapon's officer. The ensign swallowed and nodded. "And get a message out, tell them them our situation, attach our last sensor sweep of the wanderer and start transmitting our status in real-time." The lieutenant nodded, pushing the comms officer away to carry out the order personally.

"I've set the message to repeat once it's completed," the lieutenant said as she turned back to Powell. She braced two of her arms against the console as the Arcturus shuddered under another barrage. "Our FTL comms are gone."

"Real space... it could take months for anyone to even notice the signal," Powall said quietly. He looked about the bridge, already devastated by the assault and noticed that his vision was starting to tunnel slightly. The ship must have vented most of its atmosphere already. His crew worked frantically to manoeuvre their crippled ship away from the attacking Ruklisk but they were starting to flag in the thinning air. "I just hope they get it in time. Weapons, target the nearest ship and let them have it."

"Firing all weapons sir," the weapons officer said. Powall sat back and thought about his moon as wave after wave of weapons-fire streaked toward the closest Ruklisk vessel. It was unlikely they'd even make a dent on such a massive ship but at least they'd die relatively painlessly.

"Incoming!" someone shouted. There was a momentary shudder as the impact started, and then Powall knew nothing more.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #32 on: 11-21-2007 16:27 »

<<Leela made eye at Samuel>>

Ha. Clever.  :)

Great space battle.

<<"Real space... it could take months for anyone to even notice the signal,">>

Scientists increased the speed of light in 2208.

It's cool. Coming along smartly.

Space Pope
« Reply #33 on: 11-21-2007 16:31 »

That's why it's months and not years. :P

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #34 on: 11-21-2007 17:03 »

Yeah, okay. I'll give you that one.
Plus extra points for mentioning relative motion of planetary bodies.

Space Pope
« Reply #35 on: 11-21-2007 18:10 »

Only nine hundred more points and I'll be able to buy the other half of my Gender Bender tutu!

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #36 on: 11-23-2007 08:28 »

Nine hundred points if Fry decides not to change back.


Space Pope
« Reply #37 on: 11-25-2007 09:50 »

Disclaimer: the views expressed within this post are not necessarily the views of the author and may be subject to change without warning in perpetuity and for any reason. No detail about the author's opinions on canon or non-canon relationships between the characters within the Televisual Entertainment Program known by the name Futurama may be drawn from the contents herein unless otherwise stated elsewhere as the opinions held by the author. This Disclaimer will self-destruct in ten seconds.


The week passed by at an agonising snails-pace, with very little work to fill the time. Fry moped about in Bender's closet, watching TV, playing a few games and trying to figure out how she could get back into Bender's good books. There didn't seem to be much chance of it though; twice, now, she'd found her stuff dumped by the door, although both times Bender had either forgotten to change the lock-code - or couldn't be bothered - and he didn't seem to care when she moved herself back in. Perhaps it was the rent that held him back. Or perhaps he was trying to find a way of reaching out to her.

Nah. Definitely the rent thing.

With the lack of work came a lack of pay, though Fry didn't have as much trouble as the others thanks to the tax rebate that she got for being a woman in what used to be a man's job. Hermes had eaten his waiver the day he found out about that and then spent the entire afternoon locked in his office trying to calculate how much the damaged paper would be worth as a tax write-off. Of course Amy didn't have problems either, thanks to her parents, and Zoidberg didn't seem to notice the sudden lack of income. Leela was probably having a hard time of it but, Fry realised, she would be too proud to admit she was having a problem until the debt collectors were knocking down her door. Although she did sell her couch again.

Fry's biggest concern was Professor Farnsworth. The Professor spent all his time in his lab where, mixed in amongst the usual background buzz of small explosions and strange chemical smells, was a strange sensation that struck Fry whenever she was in the building. A sort of tickling sense of wrongness that fizzled at the base of her spine and wouldn't go away, and which seemed to amplify whenever the Professor was experimenting with the universal matrix or whatever it was he'd called it. With the tension she had at home, Fry was spending more and more of her time at work, lounging around and waiting for something to happen.

For the whole week, virtually nothing did. The company had enough of a surplus to keep the bills paid and the ship maintained, which was a stupidly easy job while they weren't crashing it every few days. Apart from that work was non-existent.

Fry was getting adept at guessing when Farnsworth was experimenting on her predicament. Toward the end of the week he spent nearly all his spare time on the problem, apparently quite enjoying the challenge of altering the very fabric of the universe.

The day before they were due to leave he seemed to spend most of the morning repeating the same experiment over and over again. Shortly after lunch Farnsworth quite suddenly turned up in the employee lounge and handed Fry a note. "Look after this for me" was all he said before returning to the lab. An hour later he came into the room holding a similar piece of paper and then looked around, his gaze abruptly resting on the clock. With a slightly more confused expression than he normally wore he turned and retreated from the room, mumbling under his breath. Fry looked at the folded note and, for once, managed to overcome her latent curiosity. She pocketed the paper and opened another beer.

The sun was low when the others started to arrive. Normally Fry would have gone home by then but she just couldn't deal with the prospect of facing Bender on what was rapidly becoming his turf. She'd packed a few necessities that morning and stashed them on the ship, along with an evening gown and some other formal wear that Amy had picked out for her.

The door rattled as someone entered. Fry stood up, dropped her empty beer behind the couch and smoothed down her shirt as the lounge door opened. It was Hermes. He looked at Fry, seemed about to say something and then turned away.

"Well hi, Hermes," Fry said under her breath. "Nice to see you too."

Hermes' shoulders tensed but, otherwise, he didn't respond. LaBarbara entered a moment later and made a beeline for Fry.

"Goodness, is that really you, Fry?"

"Last time I checked," Fry stuttered as LaBarbara swept her up in a great big hug that lasted just a little too long to be comfortable. Fry squirmed her grasp. "Ah-heh, it's nice to see you too."

"You sure have changed. When that husband of mine told me what happened, I didn't see to believe it, but here we are!" LaBarbara leaned closed to fry. "So, how you enjoyin your time as a woman? You had yoursel any fun yet?"

Fry swallowed and let out a nervous giggle. Fortunately Amy's arrival gave her the escape she needed. Fry harried LaBarbara over to Amy and then shot over to the far side of the room, putting the table between them and herself.

Leela arrived a moment later.  She shrugged at Fry's quizzical expression and headed straight for the ship, shortly followed by everyone but Fry herself. Then Bender arrived, sporting a cigar that was, surprisingly, unlit. He strolled across the lounge and sat opposite Fry.

"Hey Bender."

"Fry." Bender sat back, chewing on his cigar with whatever passed for teeth in that mouth of his. He took out the stoogie and stared at it. "These things don't look so cool when they aren't lit."

"No," Fry said. She took a deep breath, expecting Bender to light up and blow smoke in her face like he always did. Nothing happened. "Bender? Are you okay?"

Bender laid the cigar on the table and stared at it. "As a robot I don't usually feel much in the way of emotion. I could light this thing up and then set your hair on fire with it and all I'd think about was how incredibly funny you looked."

"You aren't doing it though," Fry replied. She touched her hair. She'd got quite proud of her recent styling attempts, it wouldn't put her in the best of moods if she lost it all. "I hope?"

"Sometimes I do feel emotions," Bender continued, picking up the cigar again, turning it this way and that. "I don't like the ones I'm feeling right now. They're distracting me from my work."

"Bender you don't have any work," Fry said, folding her arms. "How can you be distracted from doing nothing?"

"Hey, I never tell you how to feel emotions!" Bender sighed and put the cigar away. "Fry, I can't live with you this way. I can't have any fun. When you were a guy I didn't think twice about bringing a few fembots home for a... awww!" Bender's hands crashed down on the table. "See? I can't even talk to you about it any more!"

"Why? It's not like you ever had that problem around Leela and Amy," Fry retorted. She pushed her chair back just in case Bender did something more destructive to the table. Bender peered at her, then folded his arms and looked away.

"That's because they've always been women, and they don't live with me." He stood up and paced for a moment. "All my memories record you as a man, and now you're not. It's wrong."

"'Does not compute' huh?" Fry laughed at her own joke until she noticed Bender wasn't laughing with her. In fact he was glaring. "Okay, not funny. Look, Bender, if it makes you feel better you can pretend I'm someone else, or I can move out or something."

"I don't know about that," Bender said.

"What, the rent? Bender..."

Bender turned to look at Fry, and for the first time she saw the emotions he was feeling, however badly the were expressed. Bender sighed. "Fry, if it was just about rent I would have got some other steaksock to pay and thrown you out weeks ago."

"You did try to throw me out a few times," Fry pointed out. She stood up and moved around the table until she was near the door. Bender followed her a few steps.

"That? Uhh..." Bender's fingers tapped out something in binary as he thought. "Spring cleaning?"

Fry rolled her eyes. "Har."

"Look, I'm really trying to reach out here Fry. I got a book on how to talk to women and everything!" He reached into his chest compartment and pulled out a tattered book as proof. Fry took the book and skimmed through the pages, though none of it seemed particularly ground-breaking. She passed it back. "I can do this," Bender said, closing his chest compartment again. "I even used that phrase. 'Reach Out'. Easy!"

"The thing is, you might not have to for much longer," Fry said. She felt a strange tingle in her neck and glanced up at the ceiling; was the Professor was doing the same experiment again?

"So you're telling me-"

"This time next week I'll probably be a guy again."

"Oh." Bender looked away. Fry tried to catch his eye again, walking around until she was in front of his face, but he kept turning away until his head was facing backwards.

"What's the matter, I thought you'd be happy?"

"Yeah. I think my emotion circuits must be faulty or something," Bender said, letting out another sigh. "It certainly can't be because I'm getting used to the way things are now."

"You... want me to stay like this?"

Bender suddenly turned and looked at Fry. "Hell no! I want my friend back!"

Fry shook her head and smiled. "I am your friend, Bender." She glanced at the clock and noticed the time. "Oh hell, come on, we'd better hurry or they'll leave us behind."

"Great, you go and I'll sell all your girly stuff on e-bay." Bender laughed until Fry hit him with a chair. "Ow..."

Bender stumbled forward and whacked his head on the table, sending a spray of sparks into the air as he dislodged some vital piece of equipment. Fry closed her eyes and let out a frustrated sigh. She dragged the concussed robot out to the hangar, where Leela was waiting at the bottom of the ship's gangway, tapping her foot. She tapped her wristamajig and glared at Fry.

"I'm sorry!"

"We're going to be late. What were you doing anyway," she added, looking down at Bender. "Or do I want to know?"

Fry shook Bender's arm, which promptly fell out of its socket. "Probably not. Can you help me get him up the stairs?"

Leela hooked her arm under Bender and lifted him upright. "Ugh, I forgot how heavy robots could be. Zoidberg!"

The decapodian appeared at the stop of the gangway and peered down at Leela with  a pleasant expression. "Hello."

"Zoidberg, be a dear and drag Bender up the stairs for us will you?"

"Oh, so now I'm a lifter why not..." Zoidberg seemed to almost dribble down the gangway. He looked at Bender. "Hmm, this robot is seriously ill. Tell me Bender, have you punched yourself in the head recently?"

"No," Bender replied.

"Perhaps you should then!" Zoidberg grabbed Bender's legs and started hauling him up the steps. "So are we going anywhere interesting for our holidays this year, hmm? I expect we're going somewhere with lots of sandy beaches. Zoidberg loves sandy beaches, so many different kinds of free food... And we're going! You're so kind."

Half way up the stairs Bender grabbed hold of the rail and suddenly pulled himself upright. "If I walk the rest of the way will you stop talking?"

"Do I still get to join you on the beach?"

"No!" Bender stormed up the stairs and into the ship, trailed by a sad looking Zoidberg.

"I guess the Professor isn't coming," Leela said as they climbed the steps. Fry paused near the top and looked back across the hangar.

"Guess not," she said, before entering the ship. Fry followed Leela up to the flight deck and took a seat by the communications console.

Amy was at her now usual place by the engineering console, and Bender was lounging on the observation couch at the front of deck in a thick pall of cigar smoke that the atmospheric scrubbers were only just managing to filter out of the air. The others were sequestered in their cabins, safely out of the way. Leela sat herself down in the captain's chair and stared at the front windows. "Well, we'd better get this show on the road."

"What about Samuel?"

"Oh, we're picking him up on the way," Leela said as the ship's engines wound up to full power. They lifted out of the hangar and turned west, drifting along a few hundred feet above the Hudson river until they reached an apartment block on the river-bank. Leela set the ship down in a park just beyond the apartments. "I'll be right back," she said, before running from the ship.

Bender blew a smoke-ring toward the ceiling. "Feh. Show-off."

Fry couldn't help but agree.


The apartment block was fairly typical for the district. Low rent, but not minimal, and quite well appointed. Leela was about to press the buzzer for Samuel's apartment when he appeared at the lobby door. "Leela!"

"Hi Sam." Leela grinned and took Samuel's hands in her own. "It's nice to see you. Are you all packed?"

"Got everything I need right here," Samuel said, holding up a hold-all. "I figure we aren't going to be there long enough to justify more than a couple of days worth of underwear."

"That's... nice, Sam. Very nice." Leela looked to one side for a moment, then beamed at Samuel. "Come on, we're in the park."

"Yes, I saw the landing lights." They walked down the road toward the park entrance hand in hand, both smiling private smiles. "So, what's the deal with Philippa then?"

"Hm?" Leela stopped in her tracks. "What about her?"

"Oh, you two seem to be very close," Samuel said shortly. He hefted the hold-all to a more secure position before continuing. "First time you came into the shop I thought you were a... well..."

"What, a couple?" Leela laughed, and Samuel couldn't help but smile again. He let out a laugh of his own and shook his head.

"Crazy isn't it?" They walked on a little distance in a companionable silence, until Samuel spoke again. "Still, you two are awfully close, and you talk about some weird stuff. If I didn't know better I'd almost think Philippa used to be-"

"If I were to explain it I'd have to understand it myself," Leela said quietly. She looked at Samuel, her eye betraying a hint of confused longing. "It's complicated, lets put it that way."

"Complicated. Got you." Samuel paused at the park gates and looked up at the dark bulk of the Planet Express ship towering over them. "So this is your ship is it?"

"Well I fly her a lot," Leela said with a modest shrug. She took Samuel's hand and lead him toward the gangway. "I can give you a tour if you want."

"No, no, I've seen ships before," Samuel said, trailing behind Leela. He pulled back as they reached the bottom of the steps, pulling Leela around to face him. "The ship isn't what I'm interested in."

"Oh. Uhh..." Leela looked up into Samuel's eyes and smiled. "I suppose not."

They stood there for a while, just looking at each other. Then Samuel looked up at the darkening sky; a few stars were starting to appear. "Incredible really. I've been on a few journeys out there but I never looked at the stars before. You get to look at them all the time."

"Yeah..." Leela didn't bother looking up at the sky. She stared at Samuel with rapt attention until he looked back at her again and smiled. Leela turned pink and looked at the floor. "We... we should probably get going," she said, feeling strangely awkward.

"In a moment," Samuel replied. He brushed his hand against Leela's face. "You know, I think I fell in love with you the moment you walked through my door," he said. Leela coughed and looked away, trying to hide her blushing cheeks.


"No, don't say anything," Samuel said as he gently turned Leela's face back toward him. "Whatever happens later, whatever you're thinking, it doesn't matter. This moment is everything."

Leela bit her lip and nodded a tiny nod. She closed her eye.

Fry watched them kiss from the shelter of the gangway, glad that the shadows of the hatch were hiding her face. She felt light-headed as she watched, her stomach fluttering with unaccustomed jealousy and loss. She bit down on her knuckle to muffle a quiet sob as they kissed more passionately, yet there was no passion to her sadness. Fry backed away before their kiss broke, unable to watch, unable to face the final, inevitable conclusion of her change. There was no insane jealousy, no anger at another touching Leela, being close to her in the ways she had once desired. There was nothing but a void, a sudden emptiness would have overwhelmed her but for a single spark of something that might have been love, that let Fry see beyond herself for just a moment.

It was obvious to her now. Leela was free of a burden she had carried ever since they had met. The burden he had been for her all those years. A brief smile played across Fry's face as she retreated to her cabin, even as the tears started to well up in her eyes.


In the twilight of the employee lounge Professor Farnsworth paused and stared at the note in his hand, momentarily wondering why he'd come down with it, and then at the clock. He grumbled and put the note on the table, then returned to his lab.


In the twilight of the employee lounge Professor Farnsworth paused and stared at the note in his hand, momentarily wondering why he'd come down with it, and then at the clock. He grumbled and put the note on the table, then returned to his lab. A chance gust of air lifted the note and carried it to the edge of the table, where it teetered for a moment before flopping to the floor.


In the twilight of the employee lounge Professor Farnsworth paused and stared at the note in his hand, momentarily wondering why he'd come down with it, then at the clock. He was about to put the note on the table when he saw another piece of paper lying on the floor next to it, folded up the same way as the one he held. Farnsworth grumbled and picked up the note. He unfolded it carefully and read the note it contained.

"Oh," he mumbled, looking up at the ceiling. "Oh my..."

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #38 on: 11-25-2007 17:11 »

Oooh, time-loop, eh?

And I do hope Fry's not considering what I think he's considering...

Space Pope
« Reply #39 on: 11-26-2007 04:59 »
« Last Edit on: 11-26-2007 04:59 »

Nah. Whatever it is probably hasn't even crossed Fry's mind.

Whatever it is.

What is it?

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