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: Parallel Lives (a saga in so many parts)  (Read 24633 times)
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Urban Legend
« #400 : 11-23-2008 21:43 »

And closer and closer our intrepid heroes creep to terrible disaster...

Delivery Boy
« #401 : 11-24-2008 05:09 »

YAHOO! Here they go again...
I liked the classic Professor. And Neena's deja-wu is running me crazy after playing Max Payne 2.

Space Pope
« #402 : 11-24-2008 19:06 »

Yay update. Must finish catching up. Stupid migraine keeping me from focusing.

DOOP Secretary
« #403 : 11-25-2008 20:33 »

“Why would he try to send me in the wrong direction?”

50 bucks says it was Fry's ID that Evila left down there.

Urban Legend
« #404 : 11-26-2008 01:58 »

@Frisco: or that Neena isn't headed where she thinks she's headed.  Who knows what twisted thoughts are leaking from Evila's head to hers? 

I'm a little confused.  Neena is starting to act like Evila, but does that mean that Evila will start to take on some of the personality traits of her parallel selves?  E.g., will she be as quick to try and shoot Fry in the face?  And what about Leela?  She doesn't seem to be acting like Evila.  Is the entanglement effect somehow damped by distance?

Space Pope
« #405 : 11-30-2008 21:25 »

I'm going to torture you with little tiny teeny pieces...


Hermes knelt down in front of the fridge for what seemed like the hundredth time that day, carefully listing and sorting the contents into a neat set of piles graded for consistency, texture and colour. There was definitely something missing. Half of his jerked pork supply, for one thing, as well as twelve slices of bread, four pickles and six point five portions of the gellatinated non-dairy Gouda flavoured calcium-enriched cheese-style paste. He’d accounted for the food eaten by their new guests and potential employees – the tax breaks from that potential employment more than offset that little loss as long as they didn’t become actual employees – but there was still a discrepancy.

He piled the food back into the fridge, making a note to find some way of rationing the remainder to maintain the current food budget. Then he returned to his office, his mind racing gleefully through the number of forms he’d have to fill in to record the unidentified possible theft. It would give him a chance to try out the new stamping technique he’d read about in Bureaucrat’s Monthly for April 2998. It had just been delivered that morning.

As he passed by the hangar he noticed a drift of tobacco smoke in the air. He stopped to look into the hanger. “Bender? You in there, ya useless machine?”

No answer. Hermes shrugged and carried on his way, oblivious to the eye staring down at him from the hangar roof.


Stars drifted past the window of the tiny, cramped guest cabin Leela had been assigned for the trip. It was opposite the one Fry was in – the one he was sharing with Amy, where they were probably... she turned over in a hammock barely large enough to accommodate her, physically acting out the mental effort to put those thoughts from her mind. The hammock rocked back and forth as the ship manoeuvred, swinging her up and away from the bulkhead and then toward it again, just close enough that she feared thumping against it if she didn’t pay attention.

The result was that she couldn’t rest, as much as she needed to. Nor could she work out how Fry managed to sleep in such horrid quarters. Perhaps she should see her way to getting his cabin upgraded a bit when they got back. Assuming they ever did.

Leela rolled onto her other side and stared at the door. Why Amy? Why now? She flipped herself out of the hammock and stood up, ignoring the irregular sway of Vek’s manoeuvring as they came in to land, and made her way out of the cabin and into the corridor.

It was cramped, like the rest of the ship, narrower, and shorter, ending against a truncated medical bay that also included the laundry facilities. No passengers on this ship. Fewer liabilities, more cargo space, yet they still had just two tiny tiny little packages in the cargo bay. Some things just never changed, she thought, shaking her head at the madness of it all.

She soon found herself in the galley. There was no separate mess for the crew, they either ate in the galley or their cabins, which couldn’t be too good for crew cohesion. On the other hand, having to spend any length of time with Vek... she grabbed herself a cup of the ship’s gut-rotting preprocessed freeze-dried non-baconated coffee-style beverage and sat down facing the door.

Almost on cue, Amy entered, humming a tune to herself. The song died in her mouth when she saw Leela and a frown creased across her pleasing features. “Oh. It’s you.”

“Yes.” Leela stared into her cup and then at Amy again. The intern seemed to put whatever she was thinking to one side for the moment as she resumed her short journey around the galley, for her own refreshment.

Leela tried to put her own thoughts in order again but the presence of Amy kept overwhelming her. She tried to ignore her but she was humming again, and when she passed close by Leela could smell-


“Laa laa can’t hear you!” Amy rattled her cup against the machine and started singing a noisy and annoying song.

“Come on, Amy, how long have we been...”

The words caught in Leela’s throat. For a blessed moment she’d forgotten they were in a different world, with different people who only looked like their friends. Amy slowly put down her cup and turned to look at Leela.

“I’m not your friend, Leela.”

“In my universe we’re best friends,” Leela said, reasoning that a little bit of truth-stretching wouldn’t hurt right now. “We talk about our problems, we don’t hide them from each other.”

“What’s to talk about? Why should I talk to someone who treats Phil the way you do?”

Phil, Leela noted. Not Fry. Did he have anything to say about that? “We’re under a lot of strain right now.”

“Yeah? Well maybe when you’re gone that won’t be a problem for us.”

The ship rocked and swayed forward in the silence following Amy’s outburst, then shook violently as it came to a halt, just enough to rattle the plates in the galley. Leela tried to absorb what Amy had said, tried to fashion an understanding that her mind simply refused to comprehend.

“When I’m... Us? What? Amy, what are you talking about?”

“Oh, didn’t he tell you? Well I guess he’s just returning the favour!” Amy grabbed her drink and stormed out of the galley before Leela could even understand what she’d just heard.

The door opened again. Leela looked up, hoping for Amy back to her usual happy self, or even Fry in a sour mood would have done, because bitter Fry was better than none at all but, no. It was Veklerov. He closed the door and stood across the table from her, half-smiling. Leela was heartened to see him recoil slightly when she glared at his face, but then he rallied quickly and grinned as he sat down.

“So, Sirochka, how are we now? Headache going away, hmm?”

“I told you to stop-”

“Calling you that, yes, I know,” Veklerov said, nodding. He pulled out a sealed packet of cigarettes and offered them toward Leela until he was sure she didn’t want one. With a shrug he pulled the packet back and tapped a cigarette out.

“I didn’t know you smoked,” Leela said once the filter was in his mouth. Veklerov paused, frowning at the question, and examined his lighter.

“Twice a day,” he said after he’d lit up. Veklerov snapped the lighter shut and slipped it back into his jacket. “It is a bad habit but I keep it up anyway. It helps to maintain a particular image when dealing with certain clients... and sometimes I admit I enjoy it, too.”

He leaned back and took the cigarette from his mouth, trailing a line of smoke through the air as he held it up in front of his face, turning it so that the narrow gold band around the filter revealed a small crest, the same stylised dog’s head she’d seen everywhere in this universe. Leela found herself watching the smoke and sniffing with just a hint of familiarity creeping into her mind. The smoke that would normally have her in a coughing fit by now seemed only mildly irritating at worst.

“Sure you don’t want one,” Veklerov asked, a little bemused at her attention. “You seem interested, if nothing else.”

“I don’t smoke.”

“You used... ahh but, Neena used to, of course, when she was younger.” He smiled again, and a little broader still when he saw Leela’s reaction to that revelation, and tucked the cigarette back between is lips. “This is like the drink, isn’t it? The one she liked and you never heard of before?”

“I think I’d rather forget,” Leela replied, resisting the urge to rub her forehead as the hangover made itself felt again. She lifted her cup to take another sip of the coffee only to find it was already empty. “She never told me.”

“We all have our secrets,” Veklerov said with another more knowing smile. He looked away to finish his cigarette; with his feet up on the table and one arm bent behind his head he looked more like an idle playboy than a pilot. “She told me so the first time we met,” he added. “It wouldn’t surprise me if she’s the one that stole those two packets from my locker this morning.”

“I’m... she’s not a thief.”

“Well someone took them.”

Leela closed her eye. The headache was asserting itself again but she’d had no idea where to look for a cure on this ship. When she opened it again she found herself looking into Veklerov’s lazy stare.

“You have the most wonderful eye,” he said. Leela just snorted, which seemed to surprise him even more. “I mean it!”

“As much you meant it last time, I’m sure.”

“I... see. Well, we’re making our delivery now. You can go along if you like,” he said, with a coy tilt of his head. “Or we can stay behind to, ah, work out the timing of this little competition.”

“I’m ready whenever you are,” Leela replied tartly. Vek’s only response was to take another drag on his cigarette. He stood, with the little white stick hanging from one corner of his grinning mouth, and left the galley without another word. Leela sat back then, her mind racing. She’d never seen him smoking before. Nobody had ever mentioned it. Maybe Amy could tell her? Maybe, if she could convince her to listen instead of just ignoring her. And what was that about Fry?


Leela was still pondering the question when she entered the bridge. Fry was at his usual seat by the radio, though Amy was nowhere to be seen now. Leela perched on the auxiliary station opposite and turned to watch Fry. She’d never had the chance to just watch him at his job before. Normally she was too busy piloting or thinking about manoeuvres and routes to notice, but he seemed to be pretty good at what he did. What little that was. Maybe she should have appreciated him a little more from time to time... but, then, she had, hadn’t she? There had been times when she’d done things for him too. Hadn’t there?

Fry turned toward her, half-smiling until his eyes found Leela. He stopped with a visible jump and stared at her, blinking furiously. Then he scowled back at his console. Leela tried not to roll her eye as she turned to survey the bridge. There was Veklerov, calmly examining the control column and apparently ignoring most of it.

He looked up and smiled at Leela. “You have met Wormulons before, I assume?”

“More often than I’d have liked,” Leela replied with a grimace. There was no sign of the Slurm factory outside. Perhaps they weren’t on the same planet. If Vek drank the foul gunk it might be worth telling him how it was made.

“Strange creatures,” was all Veklerov had to add to the thought. He completed whatever check-list he was running through and sat back with a sigh. “So, Philip Fry, now you come into your own eh?”

“I guess,” Fry muttered. He spun around in his seat, pausing a moment to look at Leela again before he stood up. Leela tried to think of something to say, something that might re-assure him or bring him back, or just get him to explain what was going on but the words failed her. She stared, mute, at Fry until he turned away with another, darker frown and walked off the bridge. The hatch clanged shut.

“So, you and me, alone again Sirochka,” Veklerov said as the sound reverberated away in the too-dry atmosphere of the bridge. He smiled until Leela’s silence seemed to sink into his mind. “It is no matter, you two will be leaving soon.”

“I don’t know...”

“Oh, you think you will stay?” Veklerov chuckled and shook his head. He hauled himself from the seat and walked over to sit by Leela’s console. “I wish I could believe it.”

“No you don’t. Besides,” she said, turning a fraction away from Veklerov so she didn’t have to look straight at him. Veklerov leaned forward to keep her face in view. “I was talking about Fry.”

“Philip is staying? How interesting... and you would just leave him?”

“No! I need... he...”

Leela stopped. Of course she didn’t need Fry, she could travel home by herself if she wanted. It wasn’t a problem. She’d been alone for most of her life, what was one more universe of loneliness? She had a hard time imagining that journey, nonetheless.

“I would not force you to leave, were I him.”


Vek stood up again. For once he wasn’t wearing the annoying smile Leela had come to associate with the man and, in fact, his entire posture had changed. He looked almost defeated in some way.

“I would not force you to leave,” he repeated, firmer than before. Leela turned to face him, tried to work out where this side of the man had come from. “He doesn’t know what he’s giving up.”

“You’re just saying that.”

“Leela, I am a broken man, I have a much wrong about me, but I’m no liar. I meant what I said before.” He lifted his hands a little, palms up, as if offering something to her. “I mean it now.”

“All that crap you span to Neena about her eye...”

“I meant all of that,” he said, crouching before her, almost kneeling at her feet. He took hold of Leela’s hand. For some reason, she didn’t immediately shake it free again.


“I’m getting older, Leela, and, in this profession...” he paused and stared out of the window at the brightening grey-green sky of the world outside. “Chasing around space is a job for the young.”

“What are you saying?”

“Just that I’m slowing down, that I’m not as quick to react as I should be. Pretty soon I’ll have to quit, or I’ll get people killed, and then what will I have? No ship, no life...”

“But, you’re barely even forty, that’s no age,” Leela exclaimed, with just a moment’s thought on how fast that boundary was rolling toward her. “Vek you’re not making any sense, I could- I mean you could fly for another eighty years.”

“As the captain of a garbage scow or a cruise liner, perhaps,” Vek replied with a shake of his head. He righted himself and paced across the bridge to the far windows, where he stood, legs apart, arms folded behind his back as he stared out over the dull scenery. “And what a life that would be eh? Flying the same damn route every month, entertaining old women and stupid fat men in private dinners, growing fat and old without any excitement to look forward to.”

“Well, when you put it that way...”

Leela walked over to Veklerov’s side and put a hand on his shoulder. He looked at her with a weak smile.

“You’re saying this whole angry Russian thing, it’s just an act?”

“Maybe. You’re right,” he said, turning back to face Leela. “To reject a man like me for the way I’ve behaved, you are right. I have not been a good man. But I woulacdn’t be so stupid to give someone like you up. Not twice. Not again,” he repeated, reaching out to take Leela’s hand.
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« #406 : 11-30-2008 22:20 »
« : 11-30-2008 22:30 »

Oh Good God, is Leela going to be stupid enough to fall for Vek's latest lame way to carve another notch into his raygun?  The thing between all the Leela's legs must have a red cape with a huge "S" hanging out of them.

And Evila stealing Vek's cigarettes.  Now we know she's truly evil!  The next thing we'll find out is that she's stealing Bender's booze.

Amy has spunk.  Her cutting Leela off and letting her know that they aren't friends is making Leela realize just how marginalized she really is.  Of course Leela's pride won't let her tell
Fry that she's been a bitch towards him for a very long time.  She'll never be able to admit any wrongdoing on her part to Fry.

And once again, another great chapter.  I think it's better to give us shorter chapters than to give long chapters like your previous story (The "Fry turns into a woman" story).  For some reason my attention starts to fade after reading anything for a long period of time.  Alzheimer's kicking in, I guess...

BTW, Arch, did you get the pic that I e-mailed to you a few days ago?

P.S.  It's a bitch to type with a cat in your lap, contantly tapping you with his cold nose, demanding attention.

Bending Unit
« #407 : 12-01-2008 01:52 »
« : 12-01-2008 01:55 »

Oh Good God, is Leela going to be stupid enough to fall for Vek's latest lame way to carve another notch into his raygun?  The thing between all the Leela's legs must have a red cape with a huge "S" hanging out of them.

Waitaminute...Superman? Or Supersucker? (no pun intended) And does that mean that the guy's thing is...all righty, not going there. 0_0

Amy has spunk.  Her cutting Leela off and letting her know that they aren't friends is making Leela realize just how marginalized she really is.  Of course Leela's pride won't let her tell
Fry that she's been a bitch towards him for a very long time.  She'll never be able to admit any wrongdoing on her part to Fry.

Possibly; Leela does have a lot of pride, and very thick walls of defence (except, apparently, against The Sympathy Sucker Play by The Wrong Sort of Man), but I don't think she never would. She'd only do it if she could save face, not look weak, and do it on her terms. Which means she probably wouldn't do it very often. As for Amy; it's nice that someone is actually sticking up for Fry, and not insulting him at the same time. Something Leela has done, once or twice. :/


Starship Captain
« #408 : 12-01-2008 02:09 »
« : 12-02-2008 02:51 »

Amy's got some fire to her! Fry is lucky to have her. It seems like Amy really does care about him, which would make it worse if he pulls another repeat of his last relationship with her. Not like Fry to intentionally hurt anyone, so I'm sure he really would be happy staying with her. Unless some sort of event were to require prompt exit from this universe... the sort of event that is running around the PE hanger smoking Vek's cigarettes now.

Leela better engage the brain / mouth combo around Fry soon, or shes lost him to this universe for good! If she manages to get suckered in same way Neena did AFTER being told about it. She deserves to hike it back to her universe back alone.

It is a difficult situation when Leela won't admit any fault with Fry, because it really does make her seem like a pretty big bitch towards him. Unless Leela gets her mind made up Fry really doesn't have any reason to choose following her over staying with Amy. Unless not getting shot becomes part of the following Leela choice...

Its going to be a problem for the movie too... how do you erase 5+ years of using someone as an emotional punching bag? "Really sorry about that last 8 years Fry, really did like that Opera deal by the way... so anyway want to go see a movie?" Somehow "Sorry" doesn't seem to cut it...

Great update! Does smaller updates mean more frequent?  :)

DOOP Secretary
« #409 : 12-02-2008 01:30 »
« : 12-02-2008 01:32 »

The level of impending doom in this story seems directly related to the number of updates in it.

If you've enjoyed the story so far, support the author by voting Archonix/Frisco for Corrupt Despot 2008!  :evillaugh:

Space Pope
« #410 : 12-02-2008 02:43 »

Frick 2 or 3 more updates. Must catch up....

Urban Legend
« #411 : 12-02-2008 05:03 »

this story is just made of win.  Your characterization of Leela in this section in particular is just splendid. 

“Vek you’re not making any sense, I could- I mean you could fly for another eighty years.”
  She just has to comfort anyone that shows even a little hint of weakness.  It's like, since she can't overcome her own insecurities, she has to compensate by trying to fix everyone else's.  It makes her easy prey for the likes of people like Zapp and Vek who know how to manipulate that weakness.

Delivery Boy
« #412 : 12-02-2008 05:41 »

I'm scared about Leela. How long can she keep defending herself from Vek?

Watch out,
Evila is around!
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« #413 : 12-02-2008 05:44 »
« : 12-02-2008 05:48 »

this story is just made of win.  Your characterization of Leela in this section in particular is just splendid. 

“Vek you’re not making any sense, I could- I mean you could fly for another eighty years.”
  She just has to comfort anyone that shows even a little hint of weakness.  It's like, since she can't overcome her own insecurities, she has to compensate by trying to fix everyone else's.  It makes her easy prey for the likes of people like Zapp and Vek who know how to manipulate that weakness.

And yet, she treats the only person who gives a rat's ass about her like crap.

Sorry, the Ralphster still has precious little sympathy for Leela.  Let her get used again, then cry a river to Fry about it.  I hope he tells her to hike it back home on her own.

Space Pope
« #414 : 12-02-2008 22:35 »

Teeeny tiny little pieces...

There may be a long pause before the next update, though. It's all written. I'm just in a great deal of pain right now and using the computer is a chore. Which sucks.


They were lost. Yancy could see that even in the dank twilight of these sewers. They were lost and they’d been lost for quite some time. Neena kept tramping along, not caring where she went as long as she kept going forward, leaving Yancy to trail in her wake through the pestilent stinking tunnels.

“Neena, come on, we’ve been walking through these tunnels for hours. Face it.”


“We’re lost.”

“We are not lost, Yancy. I know where I am.” She paused under a narrow tube and looked up. A tiny, pale pinprick of light managed to shine out of it, though it looked like it was probably a very long pipe. “I  know where I am,” she insisted, walking forward.

“Neena...” Yancy jogged a few stops to catch up and grabbed her hand. She rounded on him with an almost inhuman snarl, her fist held at the side of her head so that it seemed she was about to hit him with her elbow. Then she froze, for just a moment, just long enough for Yancy to speak. “Why won’t you let us go back and try Phil’s directions?”

“They’re wrong,” she insisted. “They’re wrong, they would have taken us away. He didn’t want me to find them, he wanted me to... to walk into a trap. He wanted to trick me.”

“What? Neena, you’re not making sense. Why would Phil want to trap you?”

“I don’t know! Maybe he’s insane. Yeah that could be it, he’s insane, they’re both insane. It’d explain a lot.”

She stopped again, uncertainty clouding her face, hands clenching and unclenching, making fists that she pressed against her thighs in frustration. She rounded on Yancy as he approached her and grabbed his shirt.

“What are you doing here?”

“Neena, you asked me to come.” Yancy put a hand over hers. “You wanted me here. When you met your parents, remember?”

“I...” she let go very slowly and backed away a step. “Yeah. Yeah, when I meet them. Yeah...”

She turned to walk away again, down the slope of the tunnel to an intersection, where she hesitated for a moment before plunging into the dark of a side-tunnel. Yancy hurried to catch up to the cyclops before she disappeared completely. He had no idea of the way out of the sewers now and didn’t fancy his chances  of lasting long without Neena around. Even if she was going crazy.

The tunnel was dark, but it seemed drier and less used than most. Yancy slopped up from the slimy floor onto a short set of stairs and a platform that wound past a half-open door, stuck in place. He could see Neena at the far end of the tunnel, stood rock-still, her head turning left and right.

Yancy made sure his approach was loud, just so Neena wouldn’t be shocked when he arrived at her side again. She didn’t seem to acknowledge him though, barely turning to look at Yancy before she shot off down another tunnel. They stopped again in the middle of another intersection and this time Neena turned to watch Yancy approaching.

“I hate to sound petulant but are we done yet?”

“No,” Neena said. She wrapped her arms around her front as if she was cold, though in that coat it didn’t seem likely. “I need a cigarette.”

There was a moment, a pause as the atmosphere of the tunnel seemed to change around them. Yancy felt rather than heard the motion behind him. He turned.

“It would not be wise,” a voice said from the shadows. The shape was... odd, and odder still as the man stepped into the light. Yancy managed the stifle the scream in his throat but he couldn’t hide his gut-wrenching horror as the figure became clear. Despite the pallid skin and obvious bad hygiene it was roughly a man, as long as you saw him from the one side. Except he had turned as he moved, revealing an arm protruding from the side of his head.

“What do you mean, wise?” Neena stepped past Yancy and stood in front of the... person. “Are you one of the mutants?”

“Just that with all the methane in these older tunnels, smoking is not a good idea. We tend to discourage it,” the man said, frowning as he examined Neena’s face. He tilted his head to one side and scratched it with that hideously placed arm, his other two clasped before his front. “And yes, I am what you would call a mutant. We all are.”

Neena backed away a little, confusion and doubt mixing with just a hint of disgust on her face as other mutants emerged from the shadows of the tunnel, a mumming, near-silent crowd of hideous shapes, limbs and eyes and mouths, their few recognisable faces carrying expressions of fear and mistrust that matched Neena’s own.

They gathered in a tight circle around the pair, with the three-armed one standing free of the wall of bizarre bodies. He looked around.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Yancy muttered. Neena didn’t respond. She was staring around the crowd, her eye bouncing from face to face with increasing desperation.

“Whom do you seek,” the three-armed man asked gently, directing his attention to Neena. She focused on his face without really looking at him. “We are many, but we know one another well.”

“I’m looking for... they’d be maybe about my height, older...” Neena’s shoulders dropped a little. “They’ll have one eye. I don’t know their names.”

“Oh, those two.” Another mutant, apparently female though it was hard to tell. She had an unlit cigarette in her mouth which she kept rolling from side to side, pausing occasionally to suck at it.

“You know them,” Neena asked, watching the cigarette move back and forth. The mutant nodded.

“Yeah. They’re the loons.”

“The sky watchers, some call them,” a third mutant chimed up. He had a guitar slung over his back and a forehead that, to Yancy’s eye, looked like it could crush a small mammal. And two noses, which probably explained the permanently disgusted look on his face.

Neena’s hands twitched. She tore her gaze from the female and her cigarette and focused on the guitar player. “Sky watchers?”

“They spend their lives creeping around the grates and gutters taking pictures of things on the surface,” the woman said. Her pig-like nose wrinkled as she laughed, snorting, and pulled the cigarette from her mouth. It was odd, but Yancy actually found her face somewhat endearing, as long as he ignored the gills and randomly scaled skin. Perhaps it was her superficial resemblance to the Planet Express secretary. The familiarity seemed comforting. “Kept talking about wanting a better life for someone.”

“But we are the sons of the nightsoil! What better life could they have than ours,” the guitarist asked, holding his arms out. The mutant woman turned a disdainful eye toward him.

Please, Dwayne, have you seen your life lately?” She snorted, her laughter cynical now as Dwayne’s face fell. Behind them the other mutants began to disperse and wander back into the darkness. “And you can cram that sexist ‘sons of the shit’ talk as well. Just ignore him,” she said, moving in front of the mutant Dwayne. “I’m Vyolet.”

“Ne... Leela,” Neena said, almost holding out her hand. Vyolet gave the half-raised arm a puzzled look and then seemed to dismiss it. She looked over at Yancy and gave what was probably a mutant’s idea of a seductive smile.

“And what’s your name, handsome?”

“Um... Yancy.” He held out his hand but received the same puzzled look. The mutant examined his hand curiously until he put down again. “I never met a mutant before.”

“You can imagine we don’t get out much,” the three-armed mutant said. He held out his hand for Yancy to take. “Raoul. Most of us don’t like to touch strangers.”

“Why, are you worried you’ll get some sort of disease?”

“Oh no,” the mutant said, his face solemn. “Quite the other way around.”

Yancy waited until Raoul had turned away before frantically wiping his hand on his pants. He watched Neena until she seemed to come to life again, her face set hard as she turned to pursue the mutants. He followed Raoul and Neena down the tunnel until they reached another junction to a broader, brighter passage.

Behind him Vyolet pulled out yet another cigarette and a lighter. “You’d think they would have offered me a light,” she muttered. “First packet of cigarettes I’ve found in nearly a month.”

“You’re the only one that insists on using those things.”

“Oh please, Dwayne, it’s just a harmless habit. It’s not like you have to worry about the smell down here,” the female said as she held up a lighter. There was a quit whump as the air seemed to explode around their heads. Vyolet blinked in surprise, her face blackened by the soot left from the ignited methane pocket. She turned to glare at Dwayne. “Not a word.”

The other mutant just shrugged. They both started after the retreating trio, lost in their thoughts.

“I saw her before,” Vyolet said after a moment. “Down here.”


“Yeah, she’s the one that dropped my cigarettes.” She lit a fresh cigarette, holding safely away from her face to prevent a repeat of the previous butt’s fate, and took a deep drag.

“Why would she pretend she’s never been down here? Surface dwellers are weird.” He scratched his side, eyes idling over the floor of the tunnel in case anything interesting floated by. “They all look alike to me.”

“She’s the first one you’ve met, Dwayne.”


The mutant town nestled along one edge of a large effluent lake. At first Yancy had mistaken it for the piled up detritus it seemed to resemble, though after realising it was Raoul’s apparent destination he’d paid a little closer attention and noticed the first window. As they came closer the shapes of buildings became clear, though it was equally clear that their primary building material was-

“Crap, I dropped my lighter in the lake!”

“I’ll get it,” Yancy said, his mind not really on the world around him any more. He backtracked to Vyolet’s side and leaned down to reach into the murky water. A hand grabbed his shoulder and roughly dragged him away from the lake side. Yancy looked up to find Raoul and Vyolet glaring down at him.


“Don’t touch the water,” Raoul said with an angry shake of his head. “It’s mutagenic.”

“That means it’ll make you like us,” Vyolet added as if explanation were needed.

“Oh. Right.” Yancy dusted himself down as he stood up. “I guess I appreciate the warning.”

Vyolet shrugged and pulled another lighter from her pocket. “Most of our visitors tend to have arrived by falling into it from the surface, so we don’t normally need to mention it.”


“You two are the first surface dwellers we’ve had down here in living memory,” Raoul said once they were on their way again. “At least, the first that haven’t had to become part of our society, such as it is,” he added, watching Neena’s back with a curious tilt of his head. Yancy shuddered at the way his arm flopped about when he wasn’t using it, like some enormous, pendulous... arm.

The town was much larger than Yancy anticipated, large enough to have its own economy of sorts. There were shops and restaurants, at least one school, and in the distance a building shaped a lot like an old church. He didn’t want to think about what the brickwork was made from.

“How long have you been down here for,” he asked after they wandered the streets for a few minutes. Raoul shrugged, looking around and frowning at some private thought.

“Some say nearly twelve hundred years. Most of us are descended from the inhabitants of the old city who survived the first Great Burial in the early twenty-second century. Our historical records were mostly lost in the great flush twenty-eight twenty-six but I understand some of our archaeologists have found the remains of the earliest mutant settlements in the ruins of the old city.”

“But... but I was alive a thousand years ago, there was no way mutants could have existed back then. Even the alligators were a myth.”

“The tunnels conceal many things,” Raoul said, turning his gaze toward Neena again. He stopped. “You know, I haven’t told your friend which roads to take for the last ten minutes yet we’re almost at the home of the ones she claims are her parents. Are you sure she’s never been here before?”

“Positive,” Yancy replied. He looked around. Some of the local mutants were giving him and Leela odd, curious glances as they went about their business. “She wouldn’t lie to me.”

“Yet here we are.”

Raoul pointed down the short street to a small house, one that wouldn’t have looked out of place in downstate New Jersey if it hadn’t been so clean, with a neat little square of odd growths that he assumed was a garden. Neena was stood in front of the door, one hand on her hip, the other teasing at her tailed hair with a regular twisting motion.

“Neena?” He paused next to her and examined a crudely scrawled sign attached to the door. “Baltimore, huh, does that mean they’re not here?”

“I don’t know,” Neena muttered. She picked up the sign and tossed it to one side before pressing her hand against the door. There she stood, just long enough for Yancy to get a little uncomfortable. He touched Neena’s arm.

“Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” she said, seeming to resolve whatever inner conflict she’d faced. She pushed the door open and then paused again on the darkened threshold. Raoul cleared his throat.

“We do generally guard our privacy...”

“I’m their daughter,” Neena said. Raoul shrugged again at the explanation. “They wouldn’t mind me going in there, they’re my parents!”

“Very well.”

“Yancy, stay here until I call you, okay?”

Yancy nodded and tried to smile. He backed away a little with his hands in his pockets and slouched against the wall where, to his vague surprise, eh found Vyolet and Dwayne watching him.

“Hi handsome... want a cigarette?”

“I don’t smoke.”

“Oh. How about a date?”

Yancy found himself chuckling at the incongruity of the whole situation, until he saw Vyolet’s hurt expression. She looked away.

“Oh come on, you can’t think...”

“We all have our dreams,” Vyolet sniffed.

“Yeah, well my dreams-”

Neena screamed. Yancy was at the door of the building without a thought but, when he was there, he stopped, suddenly terrified of his own reaction. The interior was dark and unknown. Anything that could make Neena scream had to be more than a match for him. But then he felt someone poking his ribs.

“Get in there or get out of the way,” Vyolet urged, Raoul right behind her, his expression grim.

Yancy nodded and stepped through the door into a dimly lit hallway. Several of the rooms were open and lit by naked light-bulbs, a trail of slimy dirt tracked through them and up, then down the stairs. A strange, sickly-familiar stink pervaded everything, alien even to the all-too-human stench of the sewers. Yancy’s eye’s twitched.

He moved left, drawn by the sound of Neena’s quiet sobbing. The room was fastidiously clean in general but here the smell grew stronger. It wasn’t even masked by the mutants as they crowded around the door to look in.

“Oh, Blast,” Raoul muttered.

Urban Legend
« #415 : 12-02-2008 23:13 »


Great update as always, Archonix.

Hope you feel better soon.
Officer 1BDI

Starship Captain
« #416 : 12-02-2008 23:37 »

I'm just in a great deal of pain right now and using the computer is a chore
Oi, that reeks.  =(  I hope you recover soon, Arch.

Bending Unit
« #417 : 12-03-2008 00:46 »

She just has to comfort anyone that shows even a little hint of weakness.  It's like, since she can't overcome her own insecurities, she has to compensate by trying to fix everyone else's.  It makes her easy prey for the likes of people like Zapp and Vek who know how to manipulate that weakness.

And yet, she treats the only person who gives a rat's ass about her like crap.

And that, sadly, is the response to which there is no answer. :/

In other news, another chapter! And that sound is the fecal matter hitting the air displacement device. Looks like Neena's not only got quantum entanglement on her back, but the loss of her parents as well. It just keeps getting worse for her. Poor kid.

Get well soon, Archonix; fics can wait, health cannot! :D

Urban Legend
« #418 : 12-03-2008 02:05 »

m just in a great deal of pain right now and using the computer is a chore.
  stop being in pain or I'll hurt you!.  Seriously though, no reason to torture yourself over a fanfic.  We can wait.

So next time (I presume) we find out whose ID Evila left with the bodies.  The three choices I can think of are Fry, Yancy (not likely), or her own (which everyone will assume is either Neena's or Leela's).  God Atheismo help Fry if Neena finds his ID with her parents' bodies.

DOOP Secretary
« #419 : 12-03-2008 04:06 »

God Atheismo help Fry if Neena finds his ID with her parents' bodies.

That's where my money is. Especially since Neena seems to think that Fry is conspiring against her now.
Officer 1BDI

Starship Captain
« #420 : 12-03-2008 05:42 »
« : 12-03-2008 05:50 »

The three choices I can think of *snip* or her own (which everyone will assume is either Neena's or Leela's).

If she did use her own ID, wouldn't they notice the different hair color?
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« #421 : 12-03-2008 06:26 »

The last I heard was Arch cut a finger last week.  Is this the injury he speaks of?

Great chapter.  It would be ironic if she were to blame Fry for the murder of her parents and Leela comes to his rescue, considering the bad blood and hurt feelings between Leela and Fry.

And in the dark corners of the sewers, Evila is laughing her insane ass off.

Urban Legend
« #422 : 12-03-2008 06:36 »

f she did use her own ID, wouldn't they notice the different hair color?

 Ohh, umm, yeah...  (SO no function beer well without)

Bending Unit
« #423 : 12-03-2008 06:48 »

How can I stand waiting for this epic to come to its conclusion?

(Watches pretty ball bounce).

Hope you feel better, arch.
Starship Captain
« #424 : 12-03-2008 14:52 »
« : 12-03-2008 19:17 »

nm, sorry - misunderstood point under discussion :hmpf:

« #425 : 12-03-2008 19:53 »

This is definitely finding a place in my top ten fanfic list. Hope the pain is only temporary…

Starship Captain
« #426 : 12-03-2008 20:08 »

Well, this can only turn out great right? Oh, no. The other one.... Start running Fry.

Now with any kind of luck, Neena took a long way around Fry's directions to get to the same spot, so she can't say he tricked her. But shes not in the mood for much thinking now anyway. Yancy gets to deal with a full blown Leela crazysplosion, and hopefully will handle it well enough to prevent his brother from being chased by TWO gun wielding cyclops. It's up to Fry to keep that number from hitting 3 when he finally talks to his... our... the real... purple one... ?

Hehe by the end of this he could have a whole rainbow of psycho one-eyed women after him! The trick is to keep the number of them who want to shoot him <= to the number who want to marry him.

Great work as always, quite worthy of its permanent home on the HD.

Take it easy with the constant injuring yourself... we all want the cheese in the mousetrap, but it just isn't worth it. Whatever you've done to yourself hope it heals up soon!

Urban Legend
« #427 : 12-03-2008 20:11 »

@Marcus: actually, I think your point was fairly valid.  Leela's tendency to treat Fry like crap just isn't realistic anymore.  It's been, what, almost nine years (as far as events in the show are concerned) since Fry unfroze.  Leela's lonely, insecure, and vulnerable, and Fry is the only person around that always does right by her.  In reality, there's just no way that they wouldn't have gotten together by this point.  The writers are preventing that from happening because it will change the dynamic of the show.

Starship Captain
« #428 : 12-03-2008 20:23 »

^ I am quite interested to see how the writers are going to make up for 8 years of Leela more or less giving Fry the emotional equivalent of a kick to the balls every few weeks.

Short of something very inappropriate for family television, its going to be hard to make it seem genuine.
Starship Captain
« #429 : 12-03-2008 20:39 »

@Marcus: actually, I think your point was fairly valid.  Leela's tendency to treat Fry like crap just isn't realistic anymore.  It's been, what, almost nine years (as far as events in the show are concerned) since Fry unfroze.  Leela's lonely, insecure, and vulnerable, and Fry is the only person around that always does right by her.  In reality, there's just no way that they wouldn't have gotten together by this point.  The writers are preventing that from happening because it will change the dynamic of the show.
Thanks - that's my exact point! There's not a lot of internal logic to the show's Leela/Fry bit now; it's going in circles purely due to the writers having limited room-for-maneuvre with it, not any in-world reasoning. And I deleted post because I was suddenly worried that people would think I was talking about Archonix's writing rather than the show's writers'.
Officer 1BDI

Starship Captain
« #430 : 12-04-2008 00:23 »
« : 12-04-2008 00:24 »

FWIW I thought you were talking about the writing staff as well, Marcus.

And I also agree with pretty much everything you said, which is one of the many reasons I love this story so much; this is one of few fanfics out right now that seems to genuinely address the fucked up relationship these two have.

Bending Unit
« #431 : 12-04-2008 02:04 »

And I also agree with pretty much everything you said, which is one of the many reasons I love this story so much; this is one of few fanfics out right now that seems to genuinely address the fucked up relationship these two have.

I agree with that as well; this and 'Broken Record' really get to the heart of what goes on between the two, and how much damage it's wreaking on both of them.

Space Pope
« #432 : 12-04-2008 10:33 »

SILENCE! I concur!

Right, I'm still ill, but I can sit up without feeling like my head is going to explode. Some sort of minute flu, no painkillers could shift it. strangely enough nothing was coming out of my nose...

One of the things I love about fanfic is that it can be completely unfazed by the dynamics of the show. We aren't show writers, so who cares? On the other hand one of the things I have about fanfic is that so many writers take this as an excuse to just dump everything and sort of say "hey, they're together now and have baybeez and you can't complain cos it's faanfic! kthxbai!!"

I should warn everyone that things can get a lot worse before they get better. Both of then are going to learn a lot about each other and themselves (at least, as I understand these things) but I'll try not to get so absolutely dire and angsty in future. :)
Sine Wave

Liquid Emperor
« #433 : 12-04-2008 18:18 »

One of the things I love about fanfic is that it can be completely unfazed by the dynamics of the show. We aren't show writers, so who cares?

People who enjoyed the show? Unless you 're meaning something else by dynamics than I think you're meaning.

Starship Captain
« #434 : 12-04-2008 18:18 »

Well, head not exploding is a good start, but still you don't have to push it!

On the other hand one of the things I have about fanfic is that so many writers take this as an excuse to just dump everything and sort of say "hey, they're together now and have baybeez and you can't complain cos it's faanfic! kthxbai!!"

Hate that too, best fan fics can take what the show left, and make it better. At the same time staying true to the characters everyone grew attached to.

Is it bad that I actually like some fanfics characterization better than the most recent material from the official writers?

Dire is fine, makes for a better story. Nobody wants to read a happy go lucky, everything goes great all the time fairy tale, it gets boring! As long as there is a goal and hope, however slim, of reaching it, then people will read on! Plus it makes it so much better when things do work out!

104,830 words, broke 100,000 released! WOOOO HOOOO! Get better first, then keep it coming!

So DXC said he wanted to make a movie... just saying... I'd watch it.

Space Pope
« #435 : 12-04-2008 19:40 »

Movie eh? Oh stop, you're making me blush. :D

One of the things I love about fanfic is that it can be completely unfazed by the dynamics of the show. We aren't show writers, so who cares?

People who enjoyed the show? Unless you 're meaning something else by dynamics than I think you're meaning.

More along the lines of, the show writers have to think about how pairing off/altering/killing characters will alter those dynamics, whereas we don't.

So apparently I had the flu. This is the first time I've ever had the flu. I seem to be going downhill again this evening so perhaps I'll just be in bed again for the next couple of days.

Delivery Boy
« #436 : 12-06-2008 11:23 »

Somebody around here told that this story with ID is a ticking bomb. I tryied to defuse it and found out that IT IS NOT THE TICKING BOMB, BUT REMOTE CONTROLED COLLAIDER!!!!

While reading this update my heart was about to break my chest. And we still don't know who's ID is there! Arch, you are making such an intrigue!

And I hope you'll recover soon.

Space Pope
« #437 : 12-06-2008 18:21 »

It is revealing of the soul of a man to see that which he predicts most accurately in the lives of others. - Fique Senkh Ooan (1282 - 1337)

And it's a long one this time. No convenient break point.


Fry stumbled along a rock-strewn path, sweat pouring down his face from the exertion of running. He stopped by a big boulder to catch his breath, cursing the way fate always did this to him. A laser-bolt smacked into the far side of the rock, forcing Fry onward before he even had a chance to catch his breath.

Normally he had a fairly good idea of what he’d done to screw up a delivery and get them in trouble. Sometimes it was Leela’s fault. Sometimes the clients didn’t like their package and decided to shoot the messenger – literally in some cases. Sometimes he just... screwed up. This time he didn’t have a clue, but he hadn’t had the time to try and find out either given the way they’d decided to just start shooting at him. So he’d run.

He saw Amy up ahead, staring down the hill at him. She’d been keeping a watch, she said. And she’d brought a gun, the same slow-charging laser rifle that another version of her had tried to kill Fry with. She was staring down at him now, aiming along the narrow gulley he’d run up. The laser fired, sizzled over his head and hit something behind him. The gurgling scream of a Wormulon told him this Amy was a better shot.

“Phil, come on already!”

She ran down the gulley to him, discarding the rifle as she grabbed both his arms and hauled him back up the slope. The ship was on the far side of the hill, sitting on a plain landing pad, little more than a slab of concrete with a homing beacon at one side of it. Laser fire skimmed the crest of the hill as they stumbled down the far side, gasping for breath in the dusty air, leaning on each other for support.

They reached the landing pad just before the first of the Wormulons crested the hill, screaming imprecations and insults as it fired its laser rifle into the air. Laser bolts began to burn the concrete around the ship as more of the worms joined their companion, taking more careful aim than the first. Fry almost stopped when he realised the ship was still silent. Wouldn’t it be powering up for their quick escape by now?

He didn’t stop though, preferring life to death as he blundered up the gangway, his hand slapping at the airlock control as soon as he was aboard. The hull resounded to the sound of laser bolts, and now plasma weapons, hitting its outer skin. It was strong enough to withstand the hand-held weapons but who knew how long before they brought in something stronger?

“We have to get out of here,” Amy said. Fry nodded, still panting for breath, and started climbing up the ladder to the top deck.

They bridge was empty when they reached it, worn out and not really capable of thinking straight. Amy stumbled to the scanner seat and sat down with a  sigh, ignoring the ineffectual flashes of laser against the bridge windows. After a moment of silence she looked around the bridge with a worried frown.

“I guess this explains why nobody bothered helping.”

“Yeah,” Fry muttered, turning from the bridge, worry creeping into his mind as he ran the short distance to the captain’s cabin. What if they’d taken her while he was gone?No that wouldn’t have happened, there’d be more mess for one thing. She was probably asleep. Sometimes she worked so hard she forgot to rest. More than once he’d found Leela slumped asleep in the pilot’s seat.

He ran up against the door and yanked it open. “Leela, wake up, we need-”

Two thoughts ran through Fry’s mind at that moment. The first was that this wasn’t Leela’s cabin. It was too messy, and smelled just a little bit, of stale underwear and cheap alcohol. The second was that the bed seemed a bit lumpy.

Someone mumbled from across the dimly lit cabin. There were clothes scattered across the floor, familiar and foreign at the same time. Fry stepped over the piled garments until he was at the side of the bed, looking down on Leela’s sleeping face. He wanted to reach out and touch it, to stroke her hair and whisper sweet nothings to her, but he had never been able to think of anything to say, and if he touched her in most circumstances the least he could expect was a broken finger.

And there were other reasons not to, now. He let out the breath he hadn’t realised he was holding, letting her name whisper through his lips at the very end and she woke, instantly, her eye searching about for a moment until it came to rest on Fry’s face. She smiled in the moment Fry knew too well, when memory was lost and the mind operated on its most basic, honest level, and then he saw her memory returning. Leela’s brow rose slightly and her eye, her beautiful eye, took on a pained brightness. She swallowed and turned her head very slowly to one side.

“Oh. God... not again...”

They stared at each other in silence until Leela shifted, pushing the covers aside as she slid out of the bed to put her head in her hands. It took a moment for Fry to realise what was going on, what he was seeing, but then a bright flush spread up his neck and face and he quickly looked away. “Leela...”

“What? Oh...” she let out a sigh but didn’t make any effort to move. “Why should it matter any more, Fry? I screwed up. I...” she glanced over her shoulder at Veklerov’s still-sleeping form and shuddered. “It’s like Zapp all over again. Hell it’s worse. This time I knew he was an arrogant dick before I slept with him.”

“I guess that shows tolerance,” Fry mumbled. Leela almost smiled at the crack. Almost. He picked up her top and held it out with one hand held over his eyes.

“What’s that noise,” Leela asked once she was a little more decent. She cocked her ear to an irregular thudding noise somewhere outside the ship. Vek was still asleep. Snoring. Leela took in the sights of the dimly lit cabin and sighed.

“The Wormulons attacked me, that’s why we’re back so... so early.”

“They did what? Fry why didn’t you-” Leela clamped her mouth shut and glanced over at Veklerov again. “Never mind. Come on, we’d better get out of this mess.”

Leela strode across the cabin, pausing to grab her boots and wristimajig before she left. Fry looked around the room, refusing to lay his eyes on Veklerov’s prone form. The man started to snore.

“What about-”

“Forget him,” Leela growled.


Fry meekly followed Leela back to the bridge, where they found Amy sat in the pilot’s seat with her feet up on the dash. She turned to look at Leela with an odd, haughty stare that didn’t suit her.

“Having fun?”

“No,” Leela shot back. She sat down at the spare console to pull her boots on, glancing out at the nearby ridge as she did so. A line of baying, yelling Wormulons stared back at her, occasionally firing their weapons at the ship, or in the air, or even into the ground, but only rarely at the ship itself.

“What the hell is going on,” she asked, turning to look at Fry and Amy. The both shrugged.

“All I know is, they started chasing me for no reason.” Fry stared out at the creatures lining up around the valley. “They were asking me questions and then they suddenly started just yelling and throwing rocks at me. More than usual. They really hurt...”

“They were pretty mad,” Amy added. She looked at her feet. “I kinda shot one, too...”

Leela turned sharply to stare at Amy, unable to hide her surprise at the young interns admission. “You shot one of them? Great! Now we’re going to be charged with murder!”

“No, he’s still alive, see?” She pointed out of the window at two very small Wormulons who were supporting a standard sized rifle between them. Leela stared at the diminutive pair for a moment before shaking her head and looking around the valley again.

Something caught her eye toward the end of the valley, a glint of sunlight on metal. “Oh lord, they’re sending in tanks. Fry what the hell did you say?

“I just told them our names!”

Amy sprang from her seat on Fry’s reply. When she spoke, her voice was shaking. “Even Vek’s name?”

Fry nodded dumbly. “What’s wrong with that?”

There was a thud. The bridge door slid open, admitting Veklerov in a hastily donned pair of pants. Leela’s eye widened as simultaneous thoughts of desire and disgust clashed in her hind-brain. She looked away.

“It’s a grave insult in their language,” Veklerov said, pulling on a coat over his bare chest. “I don’t know what. I think it’s to do with parentage, but my name drives them crazy.”

“Perhaps they knew it by reputation,” Leela grumbled, sotto voce, running her hands across the controls as she tried to remember the start-up sequence. She pushed the throttles to their stops before the ship had even fully finished powering up, blasting them from the launch pad and into the cloudless sky.

A single shot from the approaching tanks whistled harmlessly past the ship as they ascended. Leela felt herself relaxing after the sudden tension, enough to sit back and loosen her grip on the control column.

“You’ve turned up the gravity pumps,” Veklerov said, his voice studiously neutral. He was frowning at the console. Leela shrugged.

“I like a smooth ride.”

“I like the excitement...”

“I get plenty of ‘excitement’ just flying the damn ship without having to introduce more.” Leela looked away and rolled her eye. “If you didn’t want me to change the setting you shouldn’t have shown me where they were.”

The ship lurched to port and seemed to rear up and back. It leapt forward again, engines coughing and straining, then losing power, then roaring to life again. A klaxon horn blared somewhere deep inside the ship and the panel before her lit up like a Christmas tree, dials spinning and waving as the familiar whine of the bridge machinery wound down to a low gurgle and then disappeared altogether.

The engines cut out.

For a few seconds their velocity kept them arcing up on a long parabolic curve, the sound of tenuously thin mesospheric air whistling past the outer hull suddenly very loud in the silent bridge but, eventually, gravity began to assert itself. The ship began to fall belly first toward the planet.

“Well this is fun,” Veklerov said, grabbing hold of the back of the pilot’s chair. He grinned at Leela as they began to free-fall. “Want me to-”


Leela ran her mind back over the start-up sequence she had tried before, testing every step to see which she had missed. Of course! She stabbed a finger at the toggle marked ‘primary matrix interlock’. Nothing happened. With a nervous titter she tried the switch again, flipping it back and forth until the toggle broke off in her fingers with a loud snap.

She held up the broken switch and stared at it with a dazed, giddy sensation in her gut that wasn’t entirely due to the ship’s free-fall. Veklerov sighed and took the scrap of metal from her unresisting hand. He held it up to the light and then let it drop very slowly to the floor.

“Oh boy,” he said as his feet rose from the deck. “I hate microgravity.”

“Is that where the planet is really small? Ow...” Fry pushed himself away from a piece of equipment mounted on the ceiling and drifted across the bridge. “Remember the last time this happened, Leela? It was kinda fun, at least when the autopilot wasn’t trying to kill us.”

Amy let out a damp burp and slapped both hands over her mouth.

“Do it below decks,” Veklerov yelled, shoving a pale-looking Amy across the bridge to the access ladder. He grabbed the back of Leela’s seat with both hands and span himself around to face the console again. “Try restarting the engines.”

“You think I haven’t been doing that for the last...” another jab at another button that elicited a loud beep. A steaming cup of coffee rose up from the top of the console and then drifted off across the bridge, trailing perfectly shaped brown liquid spheres behind it.

Leela and Vek stared at each other.

“I always wondered if there was drinks dispenser up here. Look, I know this ship-”


“I know it better than you, let me get it started again before we die!” He reached out to touch the console, grimacing. “Zacroy rot, Amy, you got your bootprints all over this thing!”

Leela hiccuped and felt a twinge of bile in her throat. The freefall was starting to get to her, despite her normally stout constitution. She pulled at her buckles to tighten them and returned her gaze to the control column. “I’m not letting you use this as some sort of proof you’re better than me, Vek.”

“Better, who cares about better, we’re going to die!”

“Just so we’re clear,” she said before unbuckling from the seat. Leela pushed off from the control column and let herself drift toward the ceiling . Another careful push with her feet sent her back to the floor near a spare seat. She strapped herself in and turned to look at Fry.

He was holding onto his seat, oblivious to the apparent danger, watching a glob of coffee sail through the air with a vague interest. It had always surprised Leela how well the kid had taken to space. He enjoyed free-fall when most modern people could barely stand a fast moving elevator, which was something she’d never had a problem with either, come to think of it, and time and again he’d shown her the excitement outside the safe confines of her life.

Excitement... she stared at Veklerov and frowned. She did want excitement, otherwise why was she here? But Veklerov’s idea of ‘exciting’ was focused entirely on how much control he could take. Fry’s was...

The ship lurched as its main power came online and with it, the gravity systems, seeming to thrust the deck up beneath Leela’s feet. A loud yell below decks told them Amy had discovered the working gravity field, too. She crawled from the access ladder a moment later, one hand pressed over her eye as she muttered under her breath. Leela tried to keep her face straight as Amy made her way to the passenger couch and flopped down.

“Now that wasn’t so hard, was it,” Veklerov intoned as he manoeuvred the ship into a stable orbit. He glanced over his shoulder at Leela. “It is no shame to admit it, Leela.”

“Admit what?”

“That I am the better pilot. After all, who was it that saved us from this disaster?”

Leela’s jaw felt like it dropped almost to the deck. The bridge felt almost silent as the implied insult was absorbed amidst the quiet clicks and bleeps of overstressed equipment and the faint growl of the engines. Veklerov rolled his eyes at Leela’s silence.

“I suppose you aren’t denying it,” he muttered, evidently having hoped for something more substantial. Behind him Fry leaned over his console, staring at the plot.

“Um... guys?”

“You asshole,” Leela growled. She slapped the seat restraints away, glaring at Veklerov without respite. “You promised you weren’t going to use this-”

“I made no such promise!”


Leela trod the three steps to Veklerov’s side with leonine menace, the intensity of her anger reflected in her stance and posture as she very gently placed a hand each on the back of the pilot’s seat and the console. The composite seat creaked ominously under the pressure of her grip.

“A little ungracious aren’t we, Sirochka?”

“Call me that again if you’re tired of living. You tricked me!”

“I would say you tricked yourself,” Veklerov replied. He shrugged and turned away, tension drawing his shoulders toward the control column, as if guarding it. “You trick yourself all the time.”

“Oh that’s rich coming from-”

Is anyone going to listen to me!?

They all stopped to look at Fry, prompting a momentary flicker of worry on his face. Even Amy was looking at him. He stabbed a finger at the console.

“This thing is making noises.”

Veklerov relaxed back into his seat, glancing at Leela once or twice before clearing his throat. The silence that followed was very cold. He cleared his throat again and looked pointedly at Leela’s hand on the console. She waited just long enough to see him getting ready to clear his throat again before removing it.

“So,” Veklerov said once he’d settled in. “What do the scanners tell you, Philip?

“Well, there’s this green thingy here,” Fry replied, poking at the scanner screen. “And there’s these three red thingies moving toward the green thingy. Oh, and...” Fry paused to chuckle to himself. “I think we’re the green thingy.”

Veklerov and Leela turned to each other in shared confusion. “Does he do that a lot?”

“All the time. Fry, how long until they get here?”

“I’d say right about... now.” Fry looked up at the silence then down at the screen again. He frowned. “No, wait-”

A crackling blast rocked the ship and threw Leela to the floor. She landed awkwardly, for a moment blinded by the pain of her hip slamming against the deck, but still just able to see the three fighters that swung past the starboard, menacing silver darts with incongruous lattice-work arrays of weaponry wrapped around their midpoints.

She tried to stand but her leg refused to move, though it wasn’t obviously broken. Leela grit her teeth and hauled herself across the heaving deck to the auxiliary station. The ship rolled, bright constellations wheeling past the window as Vek manoeuvred them away from the fighters though, fortunately for Leela’s side, he hadn’t got around to turning the gravity pumps down again.

Another loud explosion as the fighters made another pass, this time accompanied by a stunted yell from Amy as she was thrown from the couch. She huddled down on the floor and curled up in a ball. Veklerov was still manoeuvring, now with one hand wrapped around one of the unidentified levers on the control yoke. Leela heard the grinding rumble of the main gun turret rotating and glanced at Fry. He shrugged back at her. Bender wasn’t on board, nor Yancy...

“You’re controlling the gun?”

“No distractions!” Vek’s jaw tensed, his eyes locked on the overhead screen which carried a view from the turret’s targeting array. He fired, sending a stream of plasma bolts toward one of the fighters and just missing it. “Dammit, that’s your fault!”

“My fault?” Leela looked at Fry again, taking in the fear in his eyes and wondering if she was showing the same. “Vek, you can’t control the ship and the guns at the same time!”

“Is easy, like fighter pilot, just bigger! Now leave me be so I can save your pretty bottom for another visit to my cabin.”

She stood up, ignoring the sharp stab of pain in her leg as she limped back to Vek’s side. “What did you say?”

“I save your ass, you reward me wi- aiep!

Leela dragged Veklerov from the seat, almost tearing the half-secured restraints from their mounts as she brought his face level with her own. He smiled nervously and glanced down at Leela’s arms and hands clamped firmly on the lapels of his jacket.

“Ah-heh, been working out have you?” He patted Leela’s arm and tried to smile again but her wordless glare seemed to unnerve him even more. The fighters zipped past the windows again, launching another withering volley toward the ship. “You are making it hard to defend ourselves...”

“No, I’m going to make it a lot easier,” she said, dragging Veklerov away from the control column. “Fry, you know what to do.”

“I...” he glanced up at the bridge ceiling, comprehension dawning on his face. “Right!”

Leela watched Fry leave before dropping Veklerov on the floor. “Now you, stay out of the way while I save us.”

“You... what are you trying to prove, Leela?” He lurched to Leela’s side as she strapped herself in. Leela ignored him. “This isn’t a game any more!”

“No, it isn’t.”

“But I was saving the ship!”

“You were saving your damned ego, Vek! You can’t control every single function on a ship this big and fly it and control the weapons at the same time!” She stabbed a finger at the controls, de-activating the manual settings on half a dozen systems. The ship seemed to shudder and leap as if released from a cage. “Fry?”


... and she was back in her element. The anxieties and fears of the last two weeks melted away as Leela focused her entire will into the flight, out-manoeuvring the fighters, presenting them with the smallest target whilst giving Fry the greatest opportunity to shoot back. The first of the fighters exploded in a riotous flash of orange and green, the second a few moments later.

“One left,” she muttered, bringing the ship around. It handled a differently with so much of its mass concentrated in the top of the hull. Rolling just a bit. Leela glanced up at the overhead display, still tuned to the gun’s targeting systems and grinned, feeling the strange, feral heat of pursuit as she closed in on the prey. The gun unleashed a final torrent of plasma, tearing the remaining fighter from the sky.

“Amy, scan the area, I want to know if they’re chasing us.”

“Yes... right...” Amy limped to the scanner console, giving Vek a quick and apologetic glance before she sat down. “Four ships leaving the surface, they won’t reach us for another ten minutes.”

“Plenty of time,” Leela replied. She pushed the engines to full power, drawing the planet and the fight away in mere moments as they rocketed out into deep space. Destination was unimportant for now.

Fry stumbled into the bridge nearly a minute later, flush-faced and breathing hard from the excitement of the battle. He  paused at the door to catch his breath only to be bowelled over by Amy, who leaped at him with an incoherent yell of delight. Leela turned away from the scene and tried not to sigh.

“Lonely at the top,” Veklerov repeated, quickly raising one eyebrow as that inanely annoying grin returned. “We could-”

“God, you never give up, do you.” Disgusted that she had ever fallen for him, Leela pushed Veklerov away and swivelled to face Amy and Fry. “When you two are quite finished, Fry, we need to talk.”

“Um, sure,” Fry said, extricating himself from Amy’s grasp for a moment. He rubbed the back of his head, face full of confusion and other things that were entirely understandable given where Amy’s hands were roving. He wrapped his arm around Amy and turned to leave.

“Fry, wait...”

Fry turned back. He seemed angry. “What?”

“I just... you did good.”

Fry stared at her blankly, then nodded once with just the twitch of a smile dragging at his mouth. He turned away again, a little slower this time. The door swished shut behind him, leaving Leela alone on the bridge. Or, almost alone.

Veklerov was leaning on the auxiliary console, arms folded across his chest, with an unusually dour expression on his face. He refused to look at Leela when she stood up.

“You can have your ship back now,” she said, keeping her voice neutral as she could manage. Veklerov stared at her as if he hadn’t realised she was there.

“Can I?” He looked away again, jaw tightening under a scowl that could have melted the paint from the bulkheads. “You’ve taken away the one thing I could control and changed it completely.”

“I realise things aren’t quite the same in this universe but you can’t expect to be able to control everything you interact with.”

“It’s easier!”

“Apparently not,” Leela replied archly. She folded her arms, mirroring Vek for just a moment. “I’m going back to my cabin.”

She turned, conscious of Veklerov’s eyes on her back as she walked from the bridge, waiting for him to say something to justify the anger she felt. For once, and annoyingly, he remained studiously silent. But that wasn’t it. Leela paused in the short gangway between the cabins, listening in the relative silence of the ship for the sound of, well, anything out of the ordinary but she couldn’t hear anything. The silence from Fry’s cabin was particularly telling. Nobody was that quiet unless they were having fun.

The thought was almost enough to maintain the anger she’d felt toward Fry. Almost, but not quite, with the memory of her own slip still fresh in her mind – and elsewhere, though it didn’t bear thinking about – Leela had a hard time justifying her hostility. The truth was, she needed the kid, and it looked increasingly likely that she’d lose him for good this time.

Leela backed up against her cabin door and stared at the opposite portal until she’d made up her mind. She reached across and knocked on the door. It was opened by Fry a moment later. He didn’t seen particularly pleased to see her, or in general, if she thought about it. There was no sign of Amy either. Fry stared at her, his face sullen and closed despite the momentary connection they’d had earlier.

“Still want to talk?”

“I guess...” he backed up into the cabin, giving Leela space to enter.

It was little different to the cabin he shared with Bender in their home universe. Maybe smaller, more cramped, but the feel was the same, something like a robot’s apartment, a place designed purely for rest and little else. It took Leela a moment to realise that the hammocks ruled out some of the more imaginative scenarios she’d been expecting to find. Did Amy have a cabin to herself here?


“Why are you leaving me behind?”

“Hmm?” It took a moment for the words to sink in. Leela frowned. “Fry, what are you talking about?”

“You, you said...” he faltered, confused. “Didn’t you leave a message on Yancy’s phone saying you were leaving me here?”

“I know I was pretty drunk last night but I doubt I did that. Fry, you actually believe I’d leave you here?”

She left a moment for Fry to answer. He remained silent, giving her all the answer she needed. Leela found herself looking for something to sit on. There was only the hammock and she didn’t trust that, not with Vek’s odd flying habits.

“As far as I’m concerned you were the one who was planning to stay.” With Amy, she didn’t add. And she didn’t have to, it was plain from the way his face turned pink. He glowered at the floor.

“I don’t get it, Leela. Everything you’ve said up to now has been like you wanted to get rid of me. You kept acting like I was in the way all the time and then when you were all over the Scottish guy I sorta got mad. And then that message came. I, I thought...”

Either Veklerov had left the gravity settings unchanged or he wasn’t controlling the ship yet. She leaned against the bulkhead and folded her arms, regarding Fry for a moment. He looked so utterly dejected, in a way she didn’t recall ever seeing before. Or maybe once or twice.

“Fry, I’m sorry if that’s the impression I gave you. It’s not true.”

“So why did you, y’know, do it?”

“What does that have to do with anything? It’s my life, I...” Fry stared at her with his wide-open face flinching at every word she said, as if each was a dart striking deep into his soul. She sighed. “I don’t know, all right? He tricked me. He tricked Neena and then he tricked me. All I wanted was someone who understands how I feel and it felt like he was giving me that.”

Fry blinked a few times, licked his lips and looked away without speaking. He flopped onto the lower hammock with an agility that she couldn’t entirely put down to practice, folding his hands behind his head and staring at the ceiling.

“I know, I know, welcome to your world,” Leela muttered. She was getting a little frustrated by the lack of a seat and Fry rocking back and forth, apparently contented to just lie there, didn’t help her mood in the slightest.

“You didn’t have to sleep with him.”

“No. Not that you should care.”

He sat up again, straddling the hammock so he could rest his arms on his knees. Fry stared at the wall. Perhaps it made a change from the ceiling. “I care...”

“Well stop it, it’s clouding your judgement.”

“Leela, I care. I do understand how you feel and I also know every time you go out with one of these rich power-mad control freaks you end up getting hurt. I don’t-” he closed his eyes in surrender and lay back in the hammock again. “What’s the use, you’ll just act like I’m being an idiot, same as always.”

“You’re not an idiot, Fry. I...” Leela’s voice disappeared in her throat. She could sense something, almost like a shockwave rushing toward her in some twisted set of dimensions locked away from her normal perception. She shivered.



It came like a simultaneous punch to her head and solar plexus, tearing away any sentient thought for a brief moment just long enough to be noticeable. All Leela could do was grab her head and wail as an inexplicable terror washed over her, stripping away all the barriers she’d built up around her most intimate fears. She closed her eye and screamed, her mind filled with images too horrific to bear, driving Leela to her knees. To pound the deck with clenched fists, as if that would drive out the demons birthing inside her skull.

Leela felt hands grabbing at her arms. Arms pulling her back into the darkness, the tunnels where the- the lies were hiding so she lashed out, trying to escape the creatures holding her and trying to steal her soul. Out of the corner of her eye Leela saw a flash of red. Her fist connected with something soft and yielding and she heard a swallowed yelp.

The terror left her as suddenly as it had arrived. Leela found herself lying on the floor, shivering terribly, her clothing soaked in cold sweat. Two pairs of feet opposite her face shuffled back and forth.

“She’s been like this for nearly ten minutes, I don’t know... she just yelled and punched me in the face and then went crazy.”

“Maybe she’s on her period.”

“Urgh! Why do women always...” Fry choked back his words as Leela opened her eye. She peered up at him through a disorienting haze, unable to properly see his face, only able to make out a vague red and pink blur where his head should be. “Leela! You’re awake?”

“Either that or I’m having the worst nightmare I ever remember,” she replied, feeling the soreness in her throat. Surely she hadn’t been screaming that much? But it hurt to talk, even so. “Help me up.”

They both grabbed her arms. Leela instinctively stiffened as they pulled her upright, remembering just for a moment the feeling of being dragged down by the monsters in her terror. She forced herself to relax.

The air felt cold and clammy and her hair was plastered to her skull, soaked with sweat. Every part of her body felt as if it had been pummelled by the pain monster, even her eye, which felt dry and puffy. She’d been crying, that much was obvious, but over what?

“Fry, what- oh!”

“Yeah.” Fry gingerly rubbed the livid bruise around his eye and shrugged. “It’s ok, you weren’t really thinking straight.”

“I’m sorry, Fry. You know I’d never do that on purpose.”

“Unless it was really important,” was Fry’s solemn reply. He fingered the bruise again whilst Amy examined Leela’s face.

“What happened?” The intern-cum-engineer was showing uncharacteristic concern for her, from Leela’s experience of this universe.

“If I knew...”

Leela swayed a little, overcome by a sudden dizzy spell. She looked around herself for a seat before remembering where she was. Amy and Fry, both taking the hint, grabbed one arm and walked her out of the room.

“Thank god the sickbay is on the same deck,” Leela muttered as they marched her down the corridor. She didn’t want to think about the pair of them manhandling her down the access ladders.

They manoeuvred her into an examination chair in the sickbay. Fry dutifully provided a very large glass of water and Amy managed to surprise her by completely forgetting the animosity she’d displayed earlier. It was almost like being home again.

“Home!” She sat up, spilling her water on the deck as her hands spasmed from another very brief flash of fear. “We have to get back, she’s...” Leela grabbed Fry’s arms and pulled him close. “We have to get home! Now!”
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« #438 : 12-06-2008 18:55 »


A guess.  Leela just got a flash that Evila has gone to Universe-A and is going to kill Munda-A and Morris-A?

And like a typical woman, Leela put out for a jerk who could care less about her and won't give Fry the time of day.  Except now that he's playing pelvic pinochle with Amy, she wants him back.

Anyway, great chapter.  Now get some rest and get over the Flu.

Urban Legend
« #439 : 12-06-2008 19:14 »
« : 12-06-2008 19:16 »

darnit, how am I supposed to get any work done if you keep updating like this?

Fry almost stopped when he realised the ship was still silent. Wouldn’t it be powering up for their quick escape by now?
  When I read that, I immediately knew what was coming.  What a predictable idiot Leela is.

“Well, there’s this green thingy here,” Fry replied, poking at the scanner screen. “And there’s these three red thingies moving toward the green thingy. Oh, and...” Fry paused to chuckle to himself. “I think we’re the green thingy.”
  This is one of the better Fry lines that I've ever seen in a fan fic.

This is one of the best updates yet.  I do have a couple of points of contention though.  First, Leela reacted rather well to waking up to finding Fry standing over her and Vek.  Also, Fry and Leela seemed to clear up the confusion over who-was-leaving-who-behind really quickly. 

I just... you did good.
It was good to actually see Leela giving Fry a compliment, and a little sad that something so small would stand out as one of the nicest things that Leela has said to him.

Ralph: I think that vision was supposed to correspond to the moment that Neena found her parents.  My guess is that Neena is now wiping the floor with a large cross section of the mutant populace, and Leela needs to get back and stop her before Neena goes all Terminator on everyone's asses.
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