Fan Fiction

Blame It On The Brain, part 5
By coldangel_1

Chapter 15: From Eternium With Love

Onespawn pursued the fleeing spacecraft with a vengeance, calling forth powerful blasts of energy from within itself and sending them lancing across the void in spectacular crimson bolts. The destruction of the Brezhnev had stripped it of its nanites for the time being, until it could produce more, and the power needed to reassemble itself had left it weakened. But the changes Onespawn had wrought within itself remained intact, as did the mysterious quantum flux that seemed to grow even stronger now.

The Momship darted around in three dimensions, jack-knifing to avoid the devastating psychoplasmic discharges that lit up space like a Freedom Day parade. Everyone onboard was thrown about violently each time one of the blasts erupted nearby.

“Sweet chimpanzee of Tokyo-Three!” Hermes said, clinging to a console. “We canna take much more of this, mon!”

Mom picked herself up out of Scruffy’s lap and gave the janitor a perfunctory slap just in case he’d been having any lewd thoughts.

“Can’t you shake the damn thing?” she bellowed at the Helmsman.

“I’m trying!” Gary Helm replied as he swung the control column hard over. “It’s matching us move-for-move. I don’t know what it uses for propulsion, but from the Gs its pulling on some of those turns, I’d say it could fly rings around us.”

Another close explosion lifted them from their feet, and Mom found herself in Scruffy’s lap once again. This time she punched him in the stomach.

“Scruffy’s a punchin’ bag fer angry women,” he grunted. “An’ he finds it strangely arousin’.”

“We need a diversion,” Mom said. “Something to throw the bastard off our ass!”

“I have an idea!” Amy piped-up, and Mom waved her away irritably.

“Perhaps some kind of genetically-engineered albino gorilla fired at the creature…?” Farnsworth mumbled.

Amy raised her hand. “We could lure it to…”

“Quiet, you little tart!” Mom snapped. “Smart people are talking!”

De bu, chao ah lian, Li lao bu ho ang moh lang kan ka seh li zi pu bor kia!” Amy muttered darkly. The ship took a direct hit, and fountains of sparks erupted from the bridge consoles.

“I thought I ordered non-exploding consoles installed!” Mom shouted.

“But there was a sale on these ones…” the Helmsman replied.

“Guh!” Amy spat, and pushed past Mom to a navigation console unaffected by the pyrotechnics. Hammering in a set of coordinates, she brought the display up on the main system screen, highlighted in yellow.

Mom stopped yelling at her subordinates and looked up at the screen; it showed a specific star system.

“Omicron Persei…” she said slowly, her eyes widening. “Of course! The stupid little strumpet is onto something – Helm! Plot a course for Omicron Persei Eight!”

“Yes ma’am,” Helm replied.

The Momship banked toward Galactic North and Onespawn followed, furiously firing psychoplasmic energy balls after the vessel as it went.

Terminal Precept, the storehouse of the Lance of Fate, was collapsing.

Leela made it to the ledge with Fry right behind her. He covered the last few feet in a flying leap as the slender strip of stone bridge splintered and fell away into the dark abyss.

“Make haste!” Nibbler shouted unnecessarily, and Leela snatched him up by his cape as, together, the group ran back through the dark passage. Boulders crashed down around them and a tremendous crackling roar filled the air as great slabs of rock fractured.

Bender made it to the stairs first and was struck by several rolling stones, which gathered no moss as they bounced off his metal casing.

“Oh, it’s gonna take ages to buff those scratches out!” he lamented.

“There’ll be time for buffing later,” Leela shouted. “Right now we’ve gotta polish… I mean RUN!”

They ascended the stairs at a mad dash, dodging rocks that fell toward them almost unseen in the gloom.

“Why?” Fry puffed. “Why is it… that everywhere we go… things always collapse on top of us?”

At length, they stumbled up over the top of the staircase, pursued by a cloud of dust, and lay panting on the floor of the hall of forever.

“Well that was enjoyable,” Leela grumbled sarcastically. “How about for our next outing we visit the caldera of an active volcano?” They ground was still rumbling beneath them, and cracks suddenly spiderwebbed across the marble floor.

“It’s not over!” Nibbler shouted.

“Cheese it again!” Bender added.

As wide fissures opened up in the floor and chunks of pastel-coloured roof crashed down, the friends bolted and leapt through the gauntlet and burst out through the doors into the Eternium evening. Behind them, the hall of forever imploded with a huge crash into a pile of rubble and then began to subside in a massive sinkhole.

Fry, Leela, Bender, and Nibbler stood watching the great collapsed mess of masonry settle into the wide pit.

“Four billion years,” Nibbler said sadly. “Four billion years the hall of forever stood…”

“Easy come, easy go,” Bender said indifferently.

Fry glanced at Leela, and reached up to gently wipe a smudge of dust from her cheek. She looked at him and smiled, and a quiet moment of inexplicable tension passed between them.

“You look beautiful, even when you’re covered in grime,” Fry said awkwardly.

“Oh… Fry…” Leela blushed.

Fry scratched his head and looked at the ground. “Hey Leela…” he began hesitantly. “I know you keep saying you only want friendship with me, and maybe that really is all we could be… but I was thinking… since we really seem to be on the knife edge this time around, and the Universe might actually end… if we somehow do manage to survive, why don’t you and I…”

“Oh my God!” Leela shouted suddenly, cutting him off. Her eye went wide in horrified disbelief.

No, no – I wasn’t going to say that,” Fry clarified hurriedly. “I just meant dinner, not the other thing… unless you wanted to afterward, but that isn’t what I was driving at… not that I wouldn’t love to…”

“No, Fry – look!” Leela pointed behind him, and he turned to look. Out over the horizon a swarm of objects filled the sky, gradually growing larger as they approached, and resolving into terrifyingly familiar shapes.

“The Brainspawn,” Nibbler said, bearing his fangs. “They come to prevent us taking the Lance.”

Fry looked at the ancient weapon still clutched in his hand; its shimmering field of temporal displacement momentarily reflected his own face. “I could use it against them now,” he said.

“Negative,” Nibbler replied. “For the Lance to fully recombine the entire Brainspawn race, it must strike at the prime brain in the collective hierarchy, that its effects may be linked down to all the others.”

“The Big Brain,” Leela said, remembering. “That was the controlling brain Fry fought in the library years ago.”

“Under normal circumstances, yes,” Nibbler said, glaring up at the approaching horde. “But now a new Brainspawn has ascended to become more powerful than the Big Brain, or any other of the vile creatures. It is now the prime.”

“…You mean ‘Onespawn’,” Fry said in realization.

“I hate to interrupt this expositional narrative,” Bender said, “but perhaps we ought to be in the process of cheesing it once again?”

The friends turned and ran toward the Planet Express ship as the swarm of brains descended on them. They boarded the ship in a disorganized clatter of feet, and Leela hurried to the bridge where she set about hammering buttons.

“I’ll take care of the start-up and pre-flight system preps for you, Fry,” she said as unseen machines hummed into life. “You could manage takeoff with the programmed steps; after that it’s all just…”

“Huh?” Fry said, looking confused. “Me?”

“Yes Fry,” Leela said, turning away from the console and taking him by the shoulders. “Once the Brainspawn are close enough to affect us with their stupefaction ray, you’ll be the only one who… make… Leela feel all warm and cuddly inside!”

“You make a good point,” Fry said, nodding. “Wait… what?”

“…Duh…” Leela grinned vacantly and reached up to tousle Fry’s hair. “Orange!” she giggled.

Bender gasped in mortification back at the rear of the cabin. “Ogod ogod ogod!” he cried, clutching at the sides of his head. “Where are my ears? Where are my ears?!

“Uh oh,” Fry said. He glanced out the window and saw the swarm of brains much nearer now, projecting long tendrils of blue stupidifiying energy down towards the ship. He quickly jumped into the pilot seat, laying the Lance of Fate on the floor beside him, and hit the landing gear button. The ship’s feet retracted, and it fell down hard on its belly with a crash.

“Sorry,” Fry grunted, thumbing the antigravs and easing back on the control column. With jerky motions, the Planet Express ship lunged up into the air. The Brainspawn followed close behind and began clustering around the little green freighter, bumping against the hull and shoving it with telekinetic impulses.

Nibbler made a muffled choking sound as he caught the stalk of his third eye and tried to swallow it.

“I want what he’s eating!” Leela sulked.

Fry paused with his hand on the dark matter lever and glanced at the Brainspawn in the rear view mirror.

“You’re about to suffer severe brain-damage,” he drawled in his best action-hero voice, and then grimaced when he realized the others were too stupid to appreciate his wit. He pushed the lever down and the PE ship shot forward, its main drive exhaust blowing numerous Brainspawn to pieces.

The full dark matter burn within the constraints of an atmosphere set off a cacophony of load warnings as the ship’s outer skin heated up and began to ablate from the massive friction. Then it flew free of Eternium’s atmosphere, and Fry located the terminus of the spiderhole in a distant elliptical orbit of the system’s star. He plotted a course toward it, taking them into the lee of an irregular moonlet.

Gradually, the other three returned to their senses and looked around in confusion.

“Me… feeling… a bit better in… capacity for abstract postulation,” Leela said slowly. “Fry – you did it!”

“Yeah, and I told the Brainspawn: ‘you’re about to suffer severe br…’”

“So we’re home free?” Bender interrupted.

“Not quite,” Nibbler said, pointing to the forward screen. Ahead in space, a hazy cloud was growing, separating into individual objects as the distance closed. Swimming into stark clarity…

“Oh, you gotta be bendin’ me…” Bender muttered.

The other half of the Brainspawn horde was poised between them and the spiderhole.

“No problem,” Fry said with grim determination. “I’ll just brawn my way through these brains and we’ll…”

He was cut off by the crackle of the communications system coming to life, Fiona appeared through static interference and glowered at them all.

“Lord Nibbler!” she commanded. “Instruct your pet humans to turn their ship around, or we will be forced to fire upon you.”

As if on cue, long-range sensors chimed, indicating a mass of small contacts emerging from behind the heavily-cratered moonlet. The Nibblonian second fleet began to close on them from behind.

“Caught between the Nibblonians and the Brainspawn,” Fry muttered. “What would MacGyver do?” Struck with sudden inspiration, he pulled a paperclip, a shoelace, and a bottletop out of his pocket and stared at them for a moment. “Damn,” he said. “If only I had a cigarette lighter.”

Nibbler stared sadly up at Fiona’s image

“I cannot comply,” he said. “What must be, must be.”

“Do not be a fool,” Fiona said. “We can annihilate you utterly – you know this.”

“Better to die in the pursuit of what is right than live under the shadow of what is wrong,” Nibbler replied.

“Uh…” Bender raised a hand. “I, for one, do not share that opinion.”

Fiona looked conflicted. “I do not wish to do this,” she said. “Please turn back now – return the lance. I do not want to destroy you…”

“Do it,” Nibbler said. “Shoot us down, and then ask yourself - of what worth are all our yesterdays if we, in the hour of our final reckoning, discard that last shining inch of ourselves that defines us – our honour and our cause, the small fragile thing that is more important than anything in this Universe we’ve sworn to protect? To embrace the vile, the tainted…?” Nibbler had riled himself to a near-religious fervour, and he continued, clenching his paws into little fists: “What would we tell those who have gone before us?” he said. “Those, whose toil prepared our path, guided us to this moment in time when the strength of our will and the substance of our being are called upon one last time… what would we tell them?”

Fiona stared at him over the comm. link, her face awash with unknowable emotion. Finally, she sighed. “We would tell them how ashamed we are,” she admitted.

“Farewell,” Nibbler said. The link went dead. Leela and Bender glanced at each other, and Fry looked bewildered.

“So… what just happened?” he asked. “Is she going to blow us up?”

“We shall know soon enough,” Nibbler replied grimly.

The pursuing Nibblonian fleet drew closer as the Planet Express ship continued on toward the Brainspawn blockade. Hundreds of little saucer-shaped ships deployed their weapons systems in preparation, moving in for the kill.

“Maybe someone should man the laser cannon,” Leela said uncertainly.

“There would be little point,” Nibbler replied.

Still, the fleet came on, and still no shots were fired. A dense atmosphere of tense expectation filled the cabin as all four of them watched the radar monitor.

“What the hell are they waiting for?” Bender muttered.

Suddenly, the fleet decreased speed and began to fall back, and the four friends breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“Thankyou,” Nibbler said quietly. Perhaps Fiona would still follow her own course, but for now she was willing to allow Nibbler some rein to follow his… maybe only as a last-ditch ace in the hole, but it was something at least.

“We aren't outta the mangroves yet,” Fry noted, pointing at the Brainspawn ahead. The brains were apparently undaunted by the Nibblonians’ change of heart, and closed ranks in front of the PE ship, projecting a dense field of stupidity.

“Okay guys, time for a little brainstorming,” he said with a grin. Nobody laughed, and he looked around to see Leela clutching a drooling Nibbler like a teddy-bear and sucking her thumb, while Bender tried (with limited success) to climb inside his own chest compartment. The others were again afflicted with total idiocy.

“Aw nuts,” Fry muttered, turning back to the control column. “All my best material and nobody to dig it…” He piloted the ship right into the midst of the Brainspawn, slamming heedlessly into scores of bloated pink blobs. The Brainspawn responded by buffeting the PE ship with telekinetic pulses, attempting to throw it offcourse, but Fry smoothly adjusted the controls the way Leela had been teaching him and weaved through the onslaught.

As he flew on toward the looming purple maelstrom of the interdimensional spiderhole, the Brainspawn matched pace, swarming around the ship and buffeting it.

“Quit it!” Fry said through clenched teeth as he and the others were thrown left and right.

“Bouncy ride!” Nibbler squealed with delight, kicking his legs.

Weeeeeeeeee!” Leela seconded.

Vast spiderwebs of negative matter shot past on all sides, and the event horizon approached, shimmering and shifting.

Leela suddenly snuggled up alongside Fry, resting her head in the crook of his neck. “Me love Fry,” she said.

Despite the desperate situation and the vast cataclysmic rift in spacetime that loomed seconds away, Fry momentarily broke his concentration to look at her in surprise.

“You what?”

Then they hit the spiderhole, and everything stretched beyond the point of comprehension, before snapping back violently. The ship hurtled through the Einstein-Rosen Bridge, tumbling end-over end with Fry struggling frantically to right the trajectory and prevent the little vessel slamming into the deadly edge of the interdimensional tunnel.

The Brainspawn followed, nudging the PE ship, trying to knock it into the negative matter. Fry responded by broadsiding the ship into a group of the creatures and sending them flashing into radioactive doom when they impacted the edge of the spiderhole.

“Don’t strain your brain,” Fry muttered. He looked ahead, and saw for a brief instant a colossal shape move against the surface of the spiderhole’s wall. Then it was gone, phasing out of visibility, but the image of multiple legs hundreds of thousand of miles long gave him the ghost of an idea. He steered the ship toward the side of the swirling tunnel of energy, with the Brainspawn close behind, and switched on the ship’s high-beam headlights.

Forked bolts of esoteric energy stabbed out from the wall of the spiderhole as the PE ship flew dangerously close by. The powerful headlights stirred up random disturbances in the torrents of negative energy, until something finally appeared in front of the ship, roused by the commotion. It reared into existence, larger than the mind could fathom – its cluster of multi-faceted eyes rising up like a planet…

The maker of the spiderhole was agitated.

Fry pulled the ship up, soaring over the giant interdimensional arachnid’s moon-sized head. The pursuing Brainspawn hesitated, suddenly finding themselves facing one of the mightiest creatures in any Universe.

The Star Spider. Kumonga. Anansi the Trickster. The Weaver. Tsuchigumo. It had many names in many places, but no legend could ever do justice to a creature of such immense terrible majesty. As the little green spaceship flew the length of the creature’s vast abdomen and away behind it, the giant spider regarded the tiny swarm of flying brains and decided it didn’t like them.

Raising its world-sized form up into the centre of the Einstein-Rosen Bridge, it angled gargantuan spinnerets at the Brainspawn and fired million-mile-long strands of negative matter webbing. Each of the brains struck by the strands erupted into bursts of pure energy that filled the spiderhole with incandescent light. The survivors turned and fled they way they had come.

The Planet Express ship burst from the spiderhole terminus and fell almost instantly into the maw of the second. After an intermittent time, it emerged once again into real space, and Fry burnt dark matter at a rapid rate to put as much distance as he could between the ship and whatever might be following. A sheen of nervous perspiration covered his face.

The others had returned to their standard level of intelligence and were looking out the windows for signs of pursuit.

“Looks like you got us through,” Leela said to Fry. “Good work.”

“It was a no-brainer,” Fry replied, naturally. Leela chuckled, and he sighed in relief.

Chapter 16: Spit and Wishes

Jerry, Elaine and Kramer were seated in their usual booth in the coffee shop when George appeared, looking even more downbeat than usual.

“Hey Georgie!” Kramer said.

Jerry and Elaine offered their greetings as George slumped down silently next to Elaine.

“What’s the matter?” Jerry asked across the table.

George shook his head and slowly responded: “My mother caught me…”

“‘Caught’ you? Doing what?”

“You know…” The others gave him blank stares, and he continued reluctantly. “I was alone…”

Elaine made a surprised face. “You mean…!?”


Kramer laughed. “She caught you?”

Lrrr nudged the television with one massive webbed foot to try to improve the ancient reception, and settled back to watch.

“I’ve seen this rerun too many times,” Ndnd declared, folding her tree-trunk arms.

“It’s a classic,” Lrrr rumbled menacingly. You’ll watch it again and you’ll ENJOY it!”

George continued his story. “…First she screams, ‘George, what are you doing?! My God!’ And it looked like she was gonna faint - she started clutching the wall, trying to hang onto it.”

“Man,” Kramer said reflectively.

“I didn't know whether to try and keep her from falling, or zip up.”

“What did you do?” Jerry asked in fascination.

“I zipped up!” George replied.

Lrrr leaned close to Ndnd and muttered: “As the most powerful of them, I do not understand why the one called Kramer does not merely seize control of Manhattan Island in a brutal bloodbath and declare it a breakaway fortress-state.”

“Perhaps he is concealing his true ambition until a time of his choosing,” Ndnd suggested. “The same way you try to conceal that gut of yours.”

Lrrr growled. “Well you…” he said, trying to think of a biting comeback. “…Shut up.”

At that moment a palace servant entered the chamber and bowed low.

“Your Excellencies of Divine and Immaculate Wisdom, whose Grace and Valour are an Eternal…”

“Yes, yes!” Lrrr snapped irritably. “What cataclysm could warrant interrupting NBC’s primetime lineup?”

“Forgive me!” the servant grovelled. “The long-range defensive array has tracked two large objects entering the system on course for our Great and Magnificent homeworld.”

“Ohhhhhhh wonderful!” Lrrr growled, pushing himself to his feet and stomping over to the entrance. “My one night of free time, ruined!”

He cast one final glance at the TV where Jerry, George, and Kramer were watching the naked woman in the apartment block across the street, and then with a sigh he stomped out.

“Get some milk and bread on the way back!” Ndnd called out.

The Momship…

…Bloodied, beaten… with great scorched rends torn in its hull plating, struggled on its erratic course toward the eight planet of Omicron Persei. Behind it, glowing with livid fury, came Onespawn. The gargantuan brain had resorted to projecting occasional waves of quantum reality displacement that rippled across the void in expanding spheres of weird unreal energy.

One such wave passed through the Momship, making the vessel and everyone onboard twist and bulge into crazy distorted shapes. Then reality snapped back again and they returned to normal.

“Oh, that doesn’t bode well,” Farnsworth said, looking somewhat mortified by the distortion.

“What does it mean?” Mom asked.

“It means that Wernstrom… Wernstrom was telling the truth,” the Professor replied. “With the ability to directly interfere with quantum states, the creature has the potential to literally unmake the Universe!”

Another wave passed through them, and Mom was suddenly joined by seven duplicates of herself which looked at each other in bewilderment before fusing back together into one very confused whole.

“…Really?” she said uncertainly, as the unreal resonances faded. “Well perhaps the Omicronians will have better luck blasting the damn thing – here they come!” She pointed out the main screen, where an armada of massive city-killer ships had departed Omicron Persei VIII’s orbit and were moving on an intercept course.

“How do we know they won’t blow us up too?” Hermes asked quietly.

“Established literary convention?” Scruffy offered.

A broadwave transmission was picked up by the ship’s communication system, and Lrrr appeared onscreen, slightly out of frame.

“Insolent slime!” he bellowed. “I am Lrrr, ruler of Omicron Persei Eight, addressing those fools who dare to attack the homeworld of the Omicronians!” He paused to hurriedly adjust the camera so that his face was centred, but it fell over and he resorted to holding it steady by hand. “…Lousy piece of crap webcam,” he muttered, and then continued in his commanding roar. “Hear me now! You have ten seconds to surrender and be destroyed – or we will destroy you!”

The message ended, and the Helmsman went pale, going rigid at the controls as he calculated velocities and trajectories.

“This is going to take some serious kutzpa,” Helm said.

On the bridge of the Omicronian command vessel, Lrrr watched the Momship approaching.

“Bastard’s not even changing course,” he muttered in amusement to an aide. “Open fire!”

Magnetic launchers on all the frontline saucer ships opened up simultaneously, hurling ultravelocity kinetic harpoons across the void at near-lightspeed. The Momship’s sensors picked up the mass of relativistic projectiles eating up the distance between them at a frightening rate.

Bu hau!” Amy said, wringing her hands in fright.

“Wait for it,” Mom said through gritted teeth as the deadly harpoons drew dangerously near. “Wait…”

At the last moment, Helm banked hard, pulling more Gs than the ship’s structural specifications allowed for. The superstructure groaned and creaked in metal anguish, but the big ship managed to corkscrew away from the path of the kinetic harpoons, which flashed past and continued on…

…to slam into Onespawn’s unexpecting flank.

A brilliant explosion lit up space.

Fry and Nibbler flickered briefly.

It was almost unnoticeable, just a passing of out-of-focus translucence, and then they were solid again, looking around in confusion. On the floor, the Lance of Fate flared suddenly bright, and pulsed with quiet power.

“What was that?” Fry wondered, getting up from the command chair.

“Onespawn flexing its muscle again,” Nibbler replied.

“It hardly affected you at all this time,” Leela said hopefully. “Do you think it’s becoming less powerful?”

“Quite the opposite,” Nibbler said grimly. “Only now we are now protected by the temporal-morphic field of the Lance.”

“Well that’s handy,” Fry said. He picked up the Lance and noticed that the deck beneath where it had lain was now a rough patch of unprocessed iron ore, looking like it was freshly-dug from the quarry. Slowly it transformed, progressing back through the process of smelting and refinement to solidify to its normal state of smooth steel.

“Cool,” Fry said quietly. “I could turn yoghurt back into milk…”

“Impressive,” Bender said. “No wait – the other thing, mind-numbing. I’m gonna shut down for a while – any of you losers tries to wake me, I’ll hit you with a bottle.” With that, he went still and closed his eye shield.

“Yeah, I might turn in too, Fry said, tucking the Lance of Fate under one arm and heading for the door. “Don’t let me sleep through the end of the Universe.” He left Leela and Nibbler alone on the bridge, with the exclusion of Bender’s immobile form.

Leela sat down, deep in thought, and remained so for several minutes before turning to regard Nibbler contemplatively.

“If Fry uses the Lance of Fate against Onespawn,” she said, “then it and the entire Brainspawn race will be absorbed and fused with the Nibblonians, correct?”

“That is so,” Nibbler replied.

“But then what happens to Fry?” Leela asked. “He’s connected to you all, and he’ll be at the centre of the storm… so what will become of him?” She looked worried, and stared at Nibbler imploringly, hoping for a dismissive laugh, or a waving-away of such silly concerns.

Instead, Nibbler looked away uncomfortably. “I do not know,” he confessed.

Leela blinked in surprise, and then felt a slight stab of unreasoning anger. “You don’t know?” she said in disbelief. “You know every damn thing else – why not that?”

“Leela…” Nibbler met her gaze levelly. “The great fracture that gave rise to the Brainspawn and Nibblonians as separate races also pulled the fabric of reality taut and thin… in some places glued together. Our actions and fates are often not our own… surely you have felt it? Times when your course seems directed by the hand of some failed unoriginal writer, when events resemble something familiar you cannot define…? The borders that bound our Universe are weakened; other Universes are pressing against this one, pushing us this way and that into the shape of other worlds and other people… and to be completely honest with you…” He lowered his voice. “It’s really all held together by spit and wishes these days, because nobody has ever taken responsibility for setting it right. I am consistently amazed when tomorrow even manages to follow today; so as for what will happen to Fry, I won’t even hazard a guess.”

Leela stared at him blankly. She was too tired for metaphysics, quantum physics, or even regular physics – her eye was red-rimmed and her patience was short.

“All things will come to an end,” Nibbler went on. “At one point, Fry will be the lynchpin upon which the future turns. What happens after that may depend, to some extent, on him… and that’s all I can say.”

“Could he die?” Leela said.

“It’s possible.”

Leela leaned back and ran her fingers through her purple hair. “Does he know?” she asked quietly, tiredly.

“He suspects, I think,” Nibbler said.

“And we have no choice…” Leela closed her eye, and a single tear escaped the lid, spilling down her cheek.

In his cabin, Fry stood naked before the mirror and looked upon the dark stigma that had spread around his torso and begun to creep down both legs. The sense of impending inevitability hung heavy upon him, as dark as the swirling marks on his skin.

The Lance of Fate, leaning against the wall, seemed to resonate in sympathy. He looked at it and sighed, rolling onto his hammock and staring at the ceiling.

“How much time do we have left?” he murmured to the Universe in general.

On the bridge, Leela drifted into an uneasy sleep, wracked by disturbing dreams. Nibbler adjusted the ship’s autopilot course to take them toward their appointment with finality.

His three eyes were set hard in determination.

Onespawn tumbled end-over-end, superheated plasma radiating from the enormous wound in its frontal lobe where the relativistic harpoons had struck. Gathering its fragmented thought processes, it righted itself and turned to face the Omicronian armada.

Insufferable carbon-based vermin

It propelled itself forward into the midst of the advancing Omicronian warships and expanded its stupefaction field. The big saucer ships began to fly erratically and fire off random bursts from their weapons systems.

Damaged and weakened, Onespawn did not linger to enact vengeance. It needed time to heal, to replenish energy and further strengthen itself. While the alien battleships flew about like gigantic Frisbees with death-rays crashing into one another, Onespawn left the area at high speed.

The human vessel it had pursued was apparently gone.

Apparently, but not.

The Momship, having escaped the immediate vicinity of Omicronian wrath and Onespawn’s fury, now ran silent and distant, keeping pace with the wounded brain as it sought safety somewhere away from the warlike aliens.

“It’s running scared,” Mom said, standing on the bridge of the ship. “Readings indicate the energistic displacement surrounding it has dropped significantly – those impacts have weakened it.”

“If it bleeds,” Scruffy said, “we can kill it.”

“No, no, no,” the Helmsman said. “We’re flying on a wing and a prayer here. The ship’s all banged up to hell, and none of you really have any idea how much fight that thing has left in it.”

“Shut your filthy spamhole!” Mom snapped. “This is the best chance we’ve had yet – we can’t afford not to use this opportunity to cram a nuke right up that thing’s…” she paused. “Where do you cram things up a brain?”

“The Medulla Oblongata,” Hermes said.

“Perhaps some prudence would serve us well at this point,” Farnsworth said. “By observing the ‘Onespawn’ from a distance, you might delay our pointless deaths long enough for me to figure out a way to actually do some good.”

“You think you have something, you senile idiot?” Mom said.

“Yes, but it isn’t contagious so don’t get all Howard Hughes about it.”

“Something to do with Onespawn?” Mom gritted her teeth.

“Not at all, and I resent the implication,” Farnsworth said. “I do, however, have an idea about Onespawn that may prove useful, oh my yes…”

“And that is?” Mom asked.

“Yes,” Farnsworth replied. “It is.” He wandered away muttering to himself and Mom was left looking bewildered.

At length, she turned to one of her underlings. “Maintain this distance, dammit,” she said. “We’ll play it safe and see what time avails us.”

At the terminus of the spiderhole the combined Nibblonian/Brainspawn attack force finally emerged, and then diverged, the Brainspawn separating to avoid the screeching thoughts of their counterparts.

On the bridge of the Nibblonian command vessel, Fiona gazed out into space contemplatively.

“We have a course laid in for the enemy’s location,” a navigator informed her, with a bitter edge to his voice.

“Proceed,” she said. “With any luck we should be able to prevent the Mighty One’s interference and end this affair in a way that preserves the status-quo.”

Agreed!” the Big Brain’s voice said over the communications link. “We shall face this shared threat together if we must, but after that – all deals are off.”

The two races moved, for the first time, as one toward a common goal. Travelling at enhanced lightspeed, they zeroed in on the destination that spacetime distortions marked out in their unique senses as the focal point of a tremendous knot in reality.

...They went together to confront Onespawn.

Chapter 17: Gone with the Solar Wind

Despite the physical exhaustion, Fry was unable to sleep. Strange thoughts and imaginings kept flickering in his mind like a pilot light, never extinguishing; which was an unfamiliar state for a man to whom the old Buddhist ideal of emptying one’s mind of conscious thought normally came as naturally as breathing.

The vision of Leela’s skeleton featured prominently – although mortality was no mystery to him, the image still caused a sharp-edged sliver of terror to stab into his soul. He couldn’t imagine a world without Leela; her strength and beauty were Universal constants, like gravity and shoddy service in fast-food restaurants.

Such maudlin thoughts were of a variety he could usually shake off, drink away, or encase in a sarcophagus of stupidness. But things felt different now; more real, more serious – the violence and angst of the past few days had been unlike any of his previous episodes… escapades? There was a distinct sense that time was limited… he felt it in his marrow, and in the cosmic stigma that slowly consumed him. Finality, completion; The End of All Things. How much time was left for him to right the wrongs in his life before it all became academic? Days? Hours?

Rolling from the hammock, he donned clothes and padded out of the room, down the hall, and onto the bridge. Bender still stood in a dormant inactive state, while Nibbler had disappeared somewhere. Fry walked forward to look at the stars, but paused when he noticed Leela asleep in the command chair, making small whimpering sounds as her eyelid trembled – some bad dream was being painted across the canvas of her mind, and he almost considered waking her, but she had been exhausted and needed to rest.

Leela… she was so beautiful, so amazing. What were the odds that he could fall through a thousand years of empty time and awaken in a presence of a Goddess such as her?

He reached down and brushed a few errant strands of purple hair from her face, and she seemed to relax at his touch, sighing contentedly.

Fry supposed that if Leela were in his place now she wouldn’t be as uncertain as him – she wouldn’t stand around waiting for events to pull her in one direction or another. She would take charge of her destiny… something Fry was rarely able to do. Hell, he had trouble taking charge of his shoelaces (unfortunately a thousand years in the future Velcro was still considered dorky).

He turned away and walked over to the forward viewscreen, where he stood with his hands in his pockets, gazing out at the cosmos. Stars that might have witnessed the birth and death of billions of souls within their warm embrace fled past the little ship in the blink of an eye; incandescent multicoloured nebula drifted by, tens of old-light years long, where suns and worlds were being created; icy comets, immense tumbling asteroids, and… and a million other things Fry had no name for. The idea that he might have the ability to save it all could so easily have inflated his ego to a celestial size, and at another time being ‘the most important person in the Universe’ had seemed like the greatest thing ever.

…But now… now he was only frightened. And where had that fear come from? That biting sense of realism had never afflicted him before… it was as if he’d jumped from a sitcom into a drama, and was still struggling to keep up.

Leela had woken soundlessly and watched Fry now, as he looked out at the stars. Her lips were dry as she thought of a thousand different things she wanted to say and none of the words with which to say them. The conversation she’d had with Nibbler kept playing back in her mind again and again – the thought of Fry’s ultimate fate made her skin crawl. She’d had a nightmare of a life without him once while in a coma, and the utter pointlessness of that world caused such despair… she couldn’t take it. Their shared history seemed to flow through her mind, all the times they’d spent together, all the hardships and all the warmth… and his face, always there with a lopsided grin and some stupid beautiful comment to make everything seem alright.

I don’t deserve him…

She’d kept him at arm’s length, but he’d stayed with her regardless. How could she spurn that kind of devotion time and time again, and still keep him in her life? It must have been torture for him…

Am I so heartless? she wondered. No… I’ve needed him, just like he needs me… only I’ve never been able to admit it, not like him.

Of course, that was the difference between them, she decided. Fry wasn’t afraid to open himself wide to the slings and arrows of the world. That blameless honesty that kept him coming back again and again after all the rejections… Leela envied it. She envied his strength.

She stood quietly and walked over to him, still unsure of what to say.

“Leela,” Fry said in surprise when she appeared beside him. “I’m sorry, did I wake you?”

“No,” Leela said, taking in the view through the screen. “Sure is beautiful,” she said softly. “I fly through space all the time, but I never really see it, you know? I don’t stop and really look at it… it’s just something that passes me by.”

Fry gave a vague nod, not really understanding.

“But you do see it, don’t you?” Leela went on, still staring out into the stars. “You see things that other people have taught themselves to ignore, to push aside because there’s always something else to do. You see everything the way it is, with eyes wide open… and here’s me, with only one eye – seems fitting that I’ve only ever seen half the picture.”

“Leela…” Fry looked concerned. “I… I don’t really know what you’re talking about,” he said. “Did I do something wrong? Is this about what I left in the washbasin? Because I was going to clean…”

“Do you know what’s going to happen when we get to Onespawn?”


“Fry.” Leela turned to face him seriously. “Philip,” she said, for perhaps the first time ever. “I don’t want you to pass me by like all that space out there… I don’t… want to have lost you without ever choosing to see you for what you are…”

Fry was taken aback more by the unprecedented outpouring of emotion than the taboo usage of his given name. In the half-light, he could see moisture glistening in Leela’s eye.

“Hey,” he said, gently taking her by the shoulders. “It’s okay… you’re not gonna lose me. You couldn’t if you wanted to – I’m like a bad case of head-lice: you think I’m gone, but then the eggs hatch and there’s more of me crawling around in there.” He made a creepy-crawly with his hand and rustled Leela’s hair playfully to try to cheer her up.

Leela’s bottom lip trembled, and suddenly she was pressed against him, burying her face in his shoulder and sobbing quietly.

“Please Fry,” she sobbed. “Please don’t die. I couldn’t take that… not again.”

“I…” Fry wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. He could have told her again that it would all be okay, that he’d be fine and they would all go home happily… but he didn’t know that. And he didn’t want to lie, not to her.

“I wish you weren’t the Mighty One,” Leela said, her words muffled by his shoulder. “I wish you were just my Fry, the silly funny Philip Fry who I love… not the hope of the Universe, just mine…”

“I wish that too…”

Leela looked up to meet his gaze, her tear-streaked face inches from his. “I know this is something we have no choice in,” she said in a husky voice. “And I’ll go along with you, every step of the way… but I…” She pulled away and stood with her back to him, trembling slightly.

“It’s alright Leela,” Fry said. “Really…”

“It’s not alright,” she replied. “I’ve treated you badly. We’re not just friends, Fry. We’re more than that. A lot more.”

“I know.”

She turned back to regard him. “I didn’t want us to go into… whatever we’re about to go into… without telling you I love you.” Leela straightened as if a great weight had been lifted from her. “I do love you,” she said. “With all my heart.”

Fry was lost for words, but he didn’t need any. Leela took hold of his jacket and pulled him close, planting her lips against his.

Hardly believing what was happening, Fry returned the kiss, holding her close. At the back of the cabin Nibbler watched silently from his nest in Bender’s chest cabinet. With a satisfied nod, he gently shut the door, giving the two humans their privacy.

“…Leela,” Fry said when they finally broke contact. “I love you so much, I always have… but if this is about me maybe dying… I mean, if you just feel obliged… like that time we thought Zoidberg was dying so we stopped throwing darts at him for a while…”

“It’s not about obligation,” she whispered. “I want this. And besides – I’m not going to let you do anything alone. We’ll fight together, Fry. And if it’s gotta be that way, we’ll die together.” She kissed him again to stifle the protest that rose on his tongue.

“I brushed you off so many times,” she continued when she pulled away. “It’s because… romance to me has always meant a long chain of disappointment and heartache, nothing like the connection I share with you. It’s so different… something pure and wonderful, so I was always terrified at the idea of changing it, of making you another lover who will hurt me, haunt me…”

“I won’t,” Fry said. “I would never…”

“I know,” Leela said. “I see you now, as you are. And I’m sorry.”

Fry pulled her back toward him and kissed her hungrily, losing himself in her scent, the softness of her lips, the contours of her body pressed against his… In the midst of a nightmare, a dream had come true – and nothing was going to interrupt this moment… except the sudden urgent chiming of the communications system.

Bender awoke with a start at the loud call alert, opening his eye shield to see Fry and Leela looking a little flustered and red-faced at the other end of the cabin.

“Aren’t one of you morons gonna answer that?” he said, waving at the comm. console that was flashing red.

“Right… right,” Leela said, adjusting her hair and winking at Fry (her single eye made the process of winking somewhat redundant and wasted on the observer, a fact she’d never actually realized). She made her way to the comm. console and keyed the incoming call onto the main screen.

As the screen came to life, the three of them gasped in unison, and Nibbler poked his head out of Bender’s chest compartment to hiss angrily.

“Well well, fancy meeting you bastards out here,” Mom said, glaring down at them.

Onespawn moved through tumbling great mountains of rock and ore.

The asteroid field was vast, and with the new nanomachines being produced within itself, the creature absorbed and converted the abundant raw matter at a rapid pace, using the new mass to repair the damage it had sustained and further boost its strength and capabilities.

Fury resonated from the giant brain in waves as it seethed still, over the pestering attacks it had suffered through. Death had never held any great fear for the creature before, but with its newfound ascendance to individuality and overlordship, it finally had something to lose. External threats instilled a much greater terror than they ever had before when it had been part of the collective.

And now there were other causes for concern…

Echoing across the cosmos like the quantum equivalent of distant thunder on an open plain, the return of the Brainspawn had caused Onespawn to pause and shudder. The questing minds of its fellows probed tentatively across the void; searching, pushing… Onespawn repelled them, unwilling to be subsumed back into the hierarchy, but knew that they would soon attack in force to prevent further dissolution of their quantum structure by Onespawn’s alterations.

It could prepare for such an eventuality, but one unexpected element gave even greater cause for concern. From the moment the Mighty One had laid his hands upon the Lance of Fate the gentle ripple of temporal waves had lapped on the shore of reality, almost imperceptibly, but it did not escape the creature’s notice.

Never would Onespawn have expected the Nibblonians to forsake their manifest selves and deploy that final, unthinkable trump card.

Or perhaps they hadn’t… Perhaps the orange-haired fool was acting of his own volition. Whatever the case, the Lance was nearby now, Onespawn could sense it… and so it hastened to prepare itself.

The Momship and the Planet Express ship converged and cruised side-by-side, a long distance away from where the damaged Onespawn lumbered through an asteroid field, consuming mass to replenish itself.

“So,” Mom said into the communications monitor when the facts had been ascertained, “while I’ve been here trying to kill this damn monster, you idiots were out joyriding through the Universe in search of some stupid magic weapon?”

“Hey!” the cyclops woman snapped through the short-wave communications link. “Don’t try to make out like this mess is anyone’s fault but yours!”

“Go to hell, eyeball!” Mom snapped.

“Oh, a reference to my prominent mutation?” Leela said. “How very creative of you. While you’re exercising that brilliant streak, maybe you could dream up a way to get at Onespawn without it blasting us.”

“I’ve got Farnsworth working on that, you wench!” Mom snarled.

“You have the Professor?!” Leela said, aghast.

Mom cut off the comm. link abruptly and strode forward to stare out at the asteroid field where the gargantuan brain formed a discernible knot of mass amid the planetary debris.

“It’s waiting for us,” she murmured. “Damn thing just wants us to make a move…”

Off to one side, Amy, Hermes, and Scruffy sat together, feeling like spare pawns in a chess set.

“Why do they call it ‘it’,” Amy wondered absently.

“Wot you talkin’ ‘bout, Miss Wong?” Hermes grunted miserably.

“This giant brain thing… they keep saying ‘it’.”


“Well… maybe it’s a boy, or a girl. Why ‘it’?”

Scruffy grunted. “Brains ain’t got no genitals,” he said. “Maybe if it were a flyin’ crotch we’d know better what to call it.”

“Flying crotches are extinct, mon,” Hermes reminded him.

Meanwhile in the Momship’s extensive workshop, Professor Farnsworth finished the final components in his creation and stepped back to admire it. The simple elegance and splendour of the machine was something to behold. At that moment, he considered it his single greatest accomplishment.

It was a reverse-microwave oven. It had one purpose – to take a prepared meal and un­-cook it, reducing it back to a cold raw state.

Usefulness in the current situation: zero to nil.

“Now that’s finished with,” he muttered to himself, “I’d better start dealing with this ‘Onespawn’ problem I suppose…” He tapped away at a computer keyboard for a few moments and then stood back. “There, done.”

Fry, Leela, Bender, and Nibbler looked out through the scuffed chainglass windows of the Planet Express ship to where the great enemy sat in wait, out in the slowly drifting mass of gigantic rocks.

“So what now?” Leela asked, glancing down at Nibbler. “How do we get to it?”

“I am not entirely certain,” Nibbler said. “This part has always been… theoretical.”

“Oh you’re just a useless little ball of crap!” Bender lifted a foot to stomp on Nibbler, but Leela pushed him over.

“Well, we’ve got to think of something,” she said, putting her hands on her hips. “There must be some way we can get through the stupefaction ray and…”

“There is another problem in this arena…” Nibbler said. “In practicality…”

Fry stopped listening. As his friends continued examining the lack of options, he slipped quietly away, leaving the bridge and walking through the ship’s corridors, ducking into his cabin as he went to retrieve the Lance. Leela’s words about fighting and dying together came back to him, and he thought about her plunging herself into danger… by his side, because they always stuck together, always… But…

“…Not this time,” he said to himself. He would face this danger alone. After all, he was the only one who could. Leela didn’t have to risk herself – he could end it, finally and completely…

He walked into the ship’s airlock chamber and hurriedly struggled into one of the worn and scratched utility spacesuits that was hanging on a rack. He clipped on the bulky manoeuvring harnesses, and tied the Lance of Fate to one of the equipment loops with a length of tether before finally fitting the bubble helmet over his head and sealing it in place. The suit’s autonomous systems came online, recycled air pumping around the helmet, temperature dispersal tubes cooling his body, and electromuscle bands massaging his circulatory system to maintain good bloodflow in zero-G.

With a bulky gloved hand, he turned the manual controls on the inner door of the airlock, letting himself inside the narrow passage and shutting it behind him, before moving to the outer door and pushing it open. The autotint on the suit’s helmet darkened to protect his eyes from the glare of nearby stars, allowing him to look out on the sprawling majesty of space.

He stepped out of the airlock, and exited the effective zone of the ship’s gravity pump. Sudden intense vertigo threatened to overtake him as it always did in sudden freefall, but he slowed his breathing as Leela had taught him, and turned to focus on the grimy dented hull of the ship as a solid reference point in three dimensions. When his pulse slowed, he burped the manoeuvring jets to align himself in a headfirst trajectory toward the asteroid field in the distance.

“Well,” he said to himself. “Here goes…”

Thumbing the control thrusters up to full-power, he shot away on a column of chemical flame toward Onespawn, the Lance of Fate strapped to his side and a gleam in his eye that could have been heroic resolution but was probably just feverish terror.

Chapter 18: The Spawn Identity

As Farnsworth hurried onto the bridge of the Momship, everyone present turned to look at him expectantly, as though waiting for him to perform some miraculous conjuring trick.

“Have you come up with a way to deal with this thing?” Mom asked.

“Oh my no,” Farnsworth said. “I've been too busy coming up with a way to deal with this thing. Now get out of my way, dammit!”

Mom looked around at the others - nobody was standing in the old man's way.

“That's better!” he snapped, striding forward to hunch over the communications station. “I had the idea while I was on the toilet. Earlier I monitored the creature’s brainwave patterns and noticed how fluid they are – how susceptible to external influence… like how a weak bladder can be triggered by the sound of running water… oh yes…”

Mom said nothing, waiting for him to get to the point.

“We can tell it a story…” Farnsworth said, still inspecting the communications console. “…And in so doing, trap it within the mental realm of fantasy.”

“Dat’s a pile o’ rotten sugar cane!” Hermes snapped from the back of the cabin. “Don’t waste everyone’s time you crazy old fool!”

“Shut up!” Mom said. “Farnsworth – explain it properly.”

“Oh, it’s quite simple really. Fiction can form the basis of a self-sustaining internal delusion in the creature – it’s been done before, apparently. By using the recorded brain pattern readings of a comatose person from the ship’s database as the carrier signal, I’ve adjusted the communications array to project a story directly into Onespawn’s mind.”

“A story?” Mom repeated. “You mean that literally? ‘Once upon a time,’ that sort of thing?”

“Bizarrely, yes!” Farnsworth said. “As focused on destruction as the Brainspawn are, your team’s initial studies as well as my own observations have shown the creature to be remarkably tied to convention in their thought processes – a structured narrative is something that can’t be ignored… oh my no, especially not when it’s a talented writer with compelling subject-matter.”

“So… we write a story… and the creature will be trapped within its confines?” The Professor nodded and smiled in a manner most senile, and Mom shook her head in incredulity – reality, it seemed, was far stranger than fiction.

“Someone had better start writing it quickly!” Amy said, pointing toward the viewscreen. “Whoever that is won’t stand a chance unless we distract the brain.”

Out in space, they could see a small space-suited figure rocket away from the nearby Planet Express ship and down toward the asteroid field where Onespawn lay in wait.

“It must be Fry, that stupid prehistoric Neanderthal,” Farnsworth muttered. “He’s going to get himself killed, and I’ll have to hire a real delivery boy who’ll demand payment above minimum wage, dammit!”

“Well – help him!” Mom snapped. “Write something, you stupid old bastard!”

Farnsworth looked down at the comm. station’s illuminated keypad and hesitated, wracking his brain for an opening line.

“Uhh…” he scratched his head and looked around for inspiration. Writer’s block suddenly gummed-up his brain.

“Come on – what are you waiting for?”

“Shut up!” he snapped. “I can’t write with the burden of deadlines weighing me down! You’re just like those insufferable publishing executives at Macmillan – always crushing my creative spirit…”

Abruptly, Scruffy stood up and walked over, shoving Farnsworth out of the way.

“This is Scruffy’s time to shine,” the janitor grunted, sitting down at the comm. station and smoothing his moustache with theatrical flourish. “Maybe Scruffy’s novel’s sittin’ unpublished in a dusty desk draw – but he can still write twice as good as any of the hacks out in the market today.” He began to type rapidly, hammering the keys at a blinding pace and speaking as he wrote as though dictating to himself:

“In the beginnin’, there was Hollywood,” he said. “And the God of glamour and pretence saw that it was good, and the spirit o’ phoniness floated over the boulevards and palm trees.

“It was a town where anyone could be anyone, where opportunity shimmered like a false dawn on every hopeful’s horizon; where everyone knew that they would make it. Even a giant brain like me…”

But Onespawn had so far only managed to pick up a few low-paying jobs as an extra or bit part in cheap B-grade science-fiction films. It was hard for a floating brain to avoid being typecast, and try as it might, Onespawn couldn’t seem to find itself any roles besides the generic alien monster villain.

Just once, it would be nice to land a speaking role in an intellectual drama, or a romance… even a comedy. But no, it was always the evil space brain… which Onespawn considered to be a somewhat racist depiction.

Nevertheless, there was rent to be paid, and electricity, and the telephone bills.

Onespawn sighed to itself as it sweltered beneath the lights of the sound-stage and the layers of makeup. The Hollywood dream had become a Hollywood nightmare. The director, a generic British blowhard, was shouting at the set designers to add more blinking lights to the foam and plywood starship bridge while the actors and sound crew took time out for a surreptitious cigarette, disguised by the wafting emanations of the smoke machine.

Finally the dispute ended, and the director bellowed: “Places!”

Onespawn floated to his position at the centre of the ‘hull breech’ in the set wall, behind which a black curtain was dappled with sequins that looked nothing like deep space.

“Alright, we all know what we’re supposed to do here,” the director said. “Let’s just try to get this right the first time through.”

“Um…” Onespawn wobbled nervously. “What’s my motivation?”

“Oh for pity’s sake…” the pompous Brit looked about ready to throw a tantrum. “You’re an evil space brain and you want to kill everyone with your mind-exploding death-beam, alright? It’s not bloody rocket-science!”

“But… what are my lines? I haven’t been given a script.”

The director glared. “‘Argg!’ ‘Rarrr!’ ‘I will destroy you all!’... Think you can manage that, genius?”

Onespawn inclined its frontal lobe in miserable acknowledgement, and waited while the square-jawed hero and scantily-clad silicon-breasted heroine got into position.

Some small doubt ate at the creature’s mind… the feeling that it was supposed to be somewhere else… doing something else. Perhaps it should have finished College and gone for that position as head lecturer of apocalyptic studies instead of falling for the fantasy of showbiz glitz and garbage.

…Or maybe it was something else?

As Onespawn played the part of the mindless space monster, it tried to remember…

In a zero-gravity vacuum there is no force to act against acceleration, a fact which Fry had consistently failed to acknowledge or understand during his years of space travel. He applied far too much thrust with the manoeuvring harness and found himself shooting at breakneck speed toward a looming maze of asteroids – any one of which meant a very sudden crushing death if he rammed into them.

Cursing his own unmitigated idiocy, he swerved hard around a number of vast tumbling walls of rock, trying to bleed off as much speed as he could before…

Crap… One huge iron asteroid rolled into his path, and there was no way he could possibly avoid its dark cratered surface. He gritted his teeth for the inevitable impact, but suddenly a second asteroid impacted the first, sending them both twirling away like hundred-thousand ton billiard balls.

And he was in the clear, hurtling toward an even larger shape looming beyond. Fry decelerated as he approached Onespawn, and gaped as the giant brain grew consistently larger, expanding to fill his entire field of vision like a vast plain of puckered pink and grey tissue. He came to a stop a few feet away from the surface, and the creature seemed to fill half the Universe.

“Anyone home?” Fry said, gripping the Lance of Fate in his gloved hand and holding it at the ready. Onespawn was motionless, and appeared inactive, which seemed unusual. For some reason Fry couldn’t believe it would be this easy.

Lost in thought, he gave a small cry of fright when his suit’s radio squawked into life.

Fry!?” Leela’s anxious voice echoed in the speakers. “Fry – where are you? You’re not onboard the ship – what are you doing?”

He lifted his left arm and activated the wrist-mounted telecom unit, and Leela’s face appeared on the little screen.

“Hey Leela,” he said. “I’m just taking care of some business. You don’t need to worry.”

Leela’s eye went wide. “Oh my God,” she said. “Fry, you can’t! Stop – come back…”

“It’s okay Leela,” Fry said. “I won’t let this thing be the death of you. I know what I have to do.”

Leela began to shout at him, but he switched off the communications link. Swallowing hard, he slowly raised the Lance, levelling it while trying not to send himself into a spin. The tip of the blade pointed at Onespawn, and seemed to shimmer and crackle with expectant energy.

“Time to end this,” Fry said through clenched teeth.

He slammed the manoeuvring rockets forward, and stuck the Lance of Fate into Onespawn’s flesh. The blade pierced the alien tissue, and the wall of brain matter quivered and pulsed with weird power…

Something jolted Onespawn.

It paused in mid-attack, and the director screamed “Cut!” and began cursing the incompetence of floating brains. It didn’t care… there was something wrong.

A resonance filled Onespawn, and it shuddered, finally casting aside the fantasy. Hollywood crumbled around it, folding away into nothingness.

A trick!

It found itself back in space, with the Lance of Fate buried in its side.

On the bridge of the Momship, the communications console exploded in sparks from a massive power feedback, sending Scruffy sprawling to the deck.

“I was just getting’ into the swing o’ the main plot,” he muttered irritably as Hermes helped him to his feet. “Scruffy was in the zone…”

“What the hell happened?” Mom said.

“It seems the creature has found its way out of the mental realm,” Professor Farnsworth said.

“Oh no,” Amy said. “What about Fry?”

With a concussive burst of telekinetic energy, Fry and the Lance were slammed away from Onespawn, tumbling off into space. In a dazed state, Fry righted his spin and looked back at the gargantuan brain. Onespawn was in a state of flux, rippling and fading in and out of reality. Bolts of energy lanced out, lighting up space.

“Come on, come on!” Fry muttered.

Slowly, the creature re-solidified, and the crackling energy dispersed. It appeared unharmed, and turned its massive lobes to regard Fry in what he sensed was sneering amusement.

“…It didn’t work,” he said to himself. “What went wrong?” He reactivated the communication link, and Leela’s worried face looked at him accusingly, before being replaced by Nibbler’s.

“Come back, you idiot!” Nibbler said.

“I don’t understand,” Fry replied. “I used the Lance against it… but nothing happened.”

“The Lance draws its true power from direct contact with you!” Nibbler said.

“Yeah… so?”

“So? So? Are you in direct contact with it? Are you?”

“Of course I am. I’m holding it right in my…” He looked down to where he gripped the shaft of the Lance in his bulky… “…Gloves…Oh… I see.”

“Fry!” Leela pushed Nibbler aside. “You have to come back. Please just…” Her voice faded out and the screen went dark as the signal was interrupted by an external jamming pulse.

Words suddenly echoed boomingly in his head: “So… the ‘Mighty One’, I presume?” Onespawn said, its psychic voice heavy with disdain.

Fry looked up at the monstrous creature that loomed before him, glowing blue.

“Yeah,” he grunted resignedly. “So what?”

“Perhaps not so mighty after all. Your stupidity has undone you, as it always would – now you will die, and so too will die the final hope this fraudulent Universe has.”

Fry glared through his helmet. “Maybe I am finished,” he said. “But even if I do die here, my friends won’t give up – they’ll find some way to stop you.”

“Given sufficient time, I almost believe they could,” Onespawn rumbled. “But with you gone, time will be my servant, and their master.”

Fry looked down at the seal of his glove, and began to unfasten the binders that held it in place.

“There’s one thing that I wanna know before you kill me,” he said, playing for time.

“And that is?”

“Well… the Brainspawn wanted to learn everything there is to know, and then destroy the Universe so that no new information would arise… but you don’t seem interested in learning anything at all – why do you want to destroy everything?”

Onespawn, not expecting a half-intelligent question from the idiotic human, allowed itself a small chuckle. “You don’t know?” it asked.

“No.” Fry said. “It doesn’t make any sense… your vendetta has no purpose. None!”

Onespawn laughed a harsh laugh that rolled across space. “This Universe,” it said. “This ‘reality’, whatever you want to call it… it isn’t real. I expanded the capacity of my mind and saw beyond the stage; all that we are and all that we know is a fabrication, written and animated to fit the whims of Gods or Fate or the Audience. The Universe is a veil pulled across the eyes of fools like you… eyes that now have colour, where before they were white circles with dots… or did you not notice the change that has been wrought? I suppose you think you always had five fingers on your hands? Hahaha.”

Fry frowned and stared at the glove he was still trying to unfasten. Five fingers were encased in the flexible material. Five… that was right, wasn’t it? The echoes of memory bounced through his mind… didn’t he once have fewer fingers?

“I… don’t get it…” he said. “Did you do something to us?”

“Not I. This reality is a weak façade being pulled and twisted by trans-universal forces beyond its bounds. I will destroy it, and then I will ascend to confront those forces responsible for the puppeteering, those Groenings and Cohens and Coldangels, and take their power for myself.”

“You’re insane,” Fry said. “You’re out of your damn gigantic mind! And I won’t let you draw the rest of existence into your self-destructive delusion. I’m gonna put a stop to this right now, even if it kills me, which it almost certainly will!”

He hyperventilated rapidly, sucking in several gallons of air before expelling it all, emptying his lungs as best he could. Shrugging awkwardly within the suit, he uncoupled the final seal on his right glove, and with a ferocious blast of escaping air it blew off, sending Fry on a wild tumble.

The deafening roar of atmosphere exiting the suit lasted only seconds, then there was silence but for the hissing from his eardrums as fluid and air began boiling from the pores of his skin. Hie eyeballs bulged and his temples pulsed, vision blurring as pressure inside his skull threatened to explode him from the inside.

Focus, he told himself as his chest muscles jerked at his ribcage, demanding he draw breath that wasn’t there to be drawn. I may only have seconds… better make ‘em count.

His exposed hand moved to the Lance of Fate where it spun on its tether. His skin was already blistering and leaking crimson droplets when he gripped the weapon. A surge of energy flowed through it from the contact, and it gleamed with otherworldly light.

Just gotta make it… he thought, wavering on the edge of consciousness.

“You won’t,” Onespawn said. “But I do admire the effort.

Go to the devil you bastard, Fry thought, gritting his teeth to keep his swelling tongue from poking out. He nudged the manoeuvring thrusters forward and began the final approach toward the giant brain, holding the Lance out in front of him.

A fist of telekinetic energy slammed him aside, throwing him through the void to bounce painfully off an asteroid and tumble limply.

“Good try,” Onespawn told the dying man. “Now you can die.”

Blackness enveloped him.

Fry!” Leela shouted in horror at the magnified image on the monitor. “No!” She spooled up the ship’s engines instantly and angled down toward the asteroid field. “No, no, no!”

“We got some unpleasantries coming up on our ass!” Bender announced. The radar showed a vast fleet of ships arriving behind them. Leela didn’t care, she kept on-course, piloting the ship toward Onespawn and Fry’s lifeless floating form.

The Nibblonian second fleet, which had appeared behind, opened fire, unleashing a devastating torrent of directed energy and smart missiles that shot toward the Planet Express ship…

…and passed it by, stabbing down into the asteroid field to slam into Onespawn in vast cataclysmic explosions.

From another direction, the Brainspawn horde appeared, flying down into the now-incandescently irradiated asteroids to surround Onespawn. They projected an intense field of psionic energy at their massive cousin, shrouding it in light.

Leela ignored it all, steering around the asteroids, not even flinching when the great rocks scraped against the ship’s hull. Up ahead, the figure spun slowly through space, trailing a small cloud of water and oxygen that still issued from the open wrist cuff of the spacesuit.

With tense, hurried motions, Leela banked the ship into a belly-first attitude and activated the Giraffe-catching net. With a mechanical clunk, the big semiorganic expanding net deployed from the ship’s cargo bay, flying out and wrapping around Fry’s immobile body, and then reeling him back in.

Leela then slammed down the accelerator and the ship zoomed away from the tremendous battle that was taking place behind…

As the constellation of Brainspawn kept Onespawn in thrall with their combined psionic assault, the Nibblonians maintained their bombardment, blasting away vast chunks of viscera from the abomination’s flanks. Columns of blood fountained out and crystallized in great crimson arcs.

Onespawn’s consciousness was being forced into a small pocket of the mind by the other Brainspawn, their brusque assault battering at its sense of identity and control. It roared in fury and tried to force them back, but they only increased the power of their invasive mental projections.

Changing tact, Onespawn appeared to capitulate, dropping its defences and allowing the others to enter its mind. Then, when the psychic channel was wide open, it activated a dormant mental subroutine it had been keeping in store… the complex pulse sequence would be called a virus if it were in a computer – and was, in effect, the organic equivalent to the subversion program Onespawn had used to seize control of Brezhnev. The Brainspawn weren’t expecting it…

With a single combined howl, they spasmed and ceased their attack, their consciousnesses burning out and being replaced by Onespawn’s. All at once, they came under Onespawn’s direct control.

Now, you insufferable Nibblonian filth… Onespawn thought savagely, directing its new minions to turn. Let’s see how you run…

The Nibblonian fleet saw what was coming. The cloud of Brainspawn with which they had formed such a shaky alliance was now speeding towards them. The ships ceased their bombardment and began a rapid retreat, flying into deep space away from the subverted brains.

Onespawn made to follow, but suddenly the heavens were filled by a different fleet; vast city-killer attack saucers dropped out of hyperspace and hung poised at the maximum attack range. The Omicronian armada had tracked the intruders to its system and was looking to settle up.

A broadwave communication was sent out.

Lrrr, leader of the Omicron Persei VIII, addressed Onespawn: “Enemies of the Omicronian people!” he bellowed, bringing up a green scaled fist to wave at his webcam. “Did you think you could fly into our territory, make fools of our mighty fleet, and escape the consequences?! Prepare to be made an example of!”

As the ships opened fire. Onespawn, wounded and weakened, deployed two score of his new minions to run interference against the persistent alien attackers. It then fell back amid the asteroids, using them for cover, and hurling the odd one out at the armada with telekinesis, where it would slam explosively into the great warships.

The Momship flew out of the line of fire, putting as much distance between it and the space battle as possible.

Onespawn didn’t have the time or the energy to be dealing with such petty trivialities. It needed to regroup, to summon the necessary power to make its next move. It could no longer sense the Mighty One… but would take no chances; it would go the final battleground and begin preparations for the erasure of everything.

The end was near.