Futurama

Fan Fiction

Double Jeopardy
By Ramon_51

This Fan Fiction takes place shortly after The Recruit. Fry heads to Mars on vacation while Leela begins her operational life as Agent Solo of the GIA and has her first real mission.


Altair Five, City of Cunaxa, Muggword District

A lone man hurries down an empty street that evokes images of some of the seedier districts from his home town, New-New York. He has reason for his haste. Another figure, clad in dark clothes, is obviously following him.

The lone man ducks into an alley and sprints though to another street. Pausing, he hears the rapid footfalls of someone running behind him. He breaks into a run, heading down the side street, looking for a place of refuge, an open door, anything! The rapidly closing sound of his pursuer lets him know that in a moment, his pursuer will catch up with him.

Nowhere to go! The fleeing man decides to stand and fight. He pivots and points his right arm in the direction of his pursuer. Just as he is ready to press a button on his Mark XII Wristamajigy, his pursuer apparently vanishes into the darkness. Puzzled, he lowers his arm.

After standing still for a few moments, he turns to walk down the street. He does not see his pursuer quietly rise from behind a nearby trash bin. Nor does he see him silently ready his garrote. With three quick steps, the pursuer closes the distance between them. His garrote slips quickly around the neck of his victim. In a few seconds, it is over. As the killer removes his garrote from around the victim’s neck he says, “Sleep well, Agent Ares.” The assassin then walks away, laughing softly to himself.


Interior, Planet Express Building, at the conference table

As usual, Hermes was at the head of the table, ready to start the meeting. Everyone else had barely settled in when he began, “Okay people, dis’ is only going to be a short meetin’. Fry is heading out for vacation tomorrow, so we have hired a temporary replacement.”

“I’m going on vacation to Mars…the Planet of Love.”

Leela observed, somewhat tartly, “That would be Venus.”

Fry, oblivious as usual replied, “Yeah…whatever.”

Hermes continued, “As I was sayin’. We’ve got a new delivery boy. He should be here in a few minutes. Item two is a notice to all Planet Express employees. The Earthican Government has made all Civilian Space Craft…including the Planet Express Ship…part of the Civilian Reserve Aerospace Support Squadrons. Dot means dot if dey’ have a war, we get to go.”

Bender spoke up immediately, “Hey! I’m a coward…I mean a conscientious objector!”

“I have a draft deferment because I’m still in school.” Amy chimed in.

Fry said, with some heat, “No more war for me!”

“Shut up, all of you!” the Professor interjected angrily, “You sound like a bunch of no good hippies!”

“Great Jah’s dreadlocks, settle down!” Hermes nearly shouted, “Besides, t’ings is peaceful right now. After all, how much worse could a war be than da’ usual missions you go on?”

“That’s true,” Amy said.

Bender added his two cents with a fervent, “Damn straight!”

Rolling his eyes at the ceiling in despair, Hermes once more tried to get control of the meeting, “Anyway, let’s get back to business. Item three, because of our client requirements, Amy will now fly on every mission as a co-pilot and astronavigator. Also, Zoidberg will go as da’ Ship’s doctor.”

“Hooray, Zoidberg is useful!”

The Professor whispered to Zoidberg, “Make sure you bring back as much of Amy’s blood and body parts if something bad happens.”

“Sure.”

Amy indignantly said, “Hey! I plan to keep living!”

“Ah, here comes our new delivery boy,” said Hermes in a happy voice.

Leela barely stifled a gasp when she saw the new delivery boy…Agent Beethoven from Safe House 451! Leela fought to control her reaction. She knew that Beethoven had recently been awarded Double X status…a licensed assassin.

Beethoven briskly walked up to the conference table.

Hermes continued, “Everybody, dis’ is Eric Mann. He’ll be with us for da’ next week. Eric, dis’ is da’ Professor...our boss, Captain Leela, Amy, Bender, and Fry…who you’ll be fillin’ in for dis’ week. Oh, and dis’ is Zoidberg…our resident stinkin’ lobster.”

Leela said, in a friendly manner, “Hello.”

Amy smiled and simply said, “Hi Eric.”

Bender responded with, “Hey, meat bag.”

The Professor, true to form, instead of merely greeting Eric asked, “What is your blood type?”

Eric replied with a smile, “Hello everyone.” He paused and looking somewhat confused, answered the Professor, “My blood type is O Negative.”

The Professor whispered to Zoidberg, “He’ll do in a pinch.”

Summing up, Hermes said, “OK people, we have to deliver a load of dark matter to Altair Five tomorrow. Seems dat’ somebody…dat’ would be me…has figured out how to turn a profit on Nibbler. Leela, here’s da’ bill of lading.”

Hermes handed it to Leela. He continued, “Once you get to Altair Five, you’ll have to wait for three days to pick up a load of Duranium Ore for delivery to Urectum on your way home. We booked you into da’ Motel 62 in Cunaxa right next to da’ spaceport. Any questions?”

Everyone nods, “No.”

“Good, let’s go to work loading that dark matter.”

Everyone rose from the table. With the exception of Hermes and the Professor, they headed for the Ship.


Interior of Leela’s Apartment

Leela lay in the bubble bath, soaking her tired muscles. Who would have thought that loading dark matter could be so exhausting? Of course, Bender’s perennial shirking of any work didn’t make it any easier. Leela sighed and extended her right leg from the water. She inspected it and decided that her legs were too fat to be really attractive.

She reached over and picked up a hand mirror. She held it in front of her face, examining each feature in turn. She thought “If I got a nose job, maybe men might find me more attractive.” Then she decided, “No one will love me…until I love myself.” At that point the negative emotions began to mob her, like a flock of crows attacking an owl.

Her mind conjured up images from the past, images of loneliness, humiliation, and fear. “One-eye! One-eye!” “You’ll die an old maid!” “Who could love you, you are a freak!” “Even your parents didn’t love you, Big Nose!” The worst images were what Fry said after her last refusal to go on a date, “I just can’t figure you out Leela…and I’m done trying.” That, and Fry dancing with Virginia at the inauguration of DOOP headquarters.

She shook her head as though to clear the thoughts away. Silently, tears began to fall from her eye. Just as she felt herself slipping into a deep depression, the doorbell rang. Leela rose from her bath and quickly toweled off. She put on her green bathrobe before going to the door. Peering through the eyehole, she saw her Neptunian girlfriend, Agent Pisces, dressed in an exterminator’s outfit. Startled but pleased, she opened the door.

Pisces spoke in a crisp, professional manner, “Good evening Miss, I’ve come to check your apartment for bugs.”

“OK. Come on in.”

Pisces entered the apartment and put down her satchel. She put the index finger of her upper right hand over her lips to signal Leela to be quiet. Then, Pisces removed a series of small, spider like robots that proceed to methodically clamber across every square inch of Leela’s apartment. All the time, they emitted a series of beeps and clicks. After about five minutes, all of the mechanical spiders climbed back into the satchel.

Pisces looked at her Wristamajigy, “Good, your apartment is clean.” She turned and embraced Leela. “So, how are you?”

“Great!” Leela said, unconvincingly. “What are you doing here?”

“Like I said, I came to sweep for bugs” raised an eyebrow in an ironic expression “…of the electronic variety” and changed her expression to one of mystery as she lowered her voice and said, “…and to install the new DreamWeaver Mark VI.”

Leela looked puzzled, “What’s that?”

Pisces smiled, reached into her bag, and pulled out a small rectangular black plastic box. “This is the DreamWeaver. It allows you to receive mission briefings and training while you sleep. We’ll be installing them in your ship as well. You know what The Kraken says!”

Both said in unison, “No wasted dreams in here!” Then they both laughed.

Pisces said with a smile, “It is good to see you laugh.” She paused and looked into Leela’s eye, noticing the tell-tale redness, “You don’t laugh much, do you?”

Leela looked down and said, “Not lately, Pi.”

In a concerned voice, Pisces continued, “Do pardon my intruding, but it looks as though you’ve been crying. What’s wrong?”

Leela said, with a hint of stubbornness, “Nothing.”

With a touch of resignation, Pisces replied, “Well, if you ever want to talk, I’m available.”

“Thanks, Pi.”

“By the by, you don’t have to use my code name any more.” Pisces said brightly, “We aren’t at Safe House 451, you know. My real name is Penelope Kew. My family and friends call me Penny.”

Looking surprised, Leela said, “Then your father is…?”

“Right, Dr. Archibald Kew, the head of S&T.”

Leela started laughing, “I just find it hard to think of you as a Penelope.”

“I find it hard to think of you as Turanga Leela instead of Agent Solo.” Lowering her voice slightly, “I’ve read your dossier, you know. What a difficult but remarkable life you have led.”

Leela’s face suddenly lost its smile. She lowered her head into her hands and began to sob. Her shoulders shook and the tears coursed down her cheeks. Penny was briefly taken aback, but quickly embraced her friend.

“I’m frightfully sorry, Leela.” Penny said with feeling, “Go ahead and cry. It helps. I’m your friend and I’m here for you.”

After several minutes, Leela cried herself out. She looked at Penny and smiled. “Excuse me for a minute, but I need to wash my face.” Leela went into the bathroom and washed her face. Returning, she sat on the sofa.

Leela gestured to a spot next to her on the sofa, “Have a seat, Penny.”

Gently, Penny said, “Right, do you want to talk about it?”

“You’ve read my dossier, so you know most of my past. But what you may not know is I’ve had an admirer named Fry,” Leela said with some emotion.

Penny nodded in agreement and asked, “Fry? The chap who was cryogenically frozen for 1,000 years?”

Leela spoke with increasing emotion, “Yes. He has sworn that he loved me for the past five years. I kept putting him off, mostly because of his immaturity. But I always felt closer to him than any other man. Now, I realize that I was afraid to let him close to me, because I feared he wouldn’t love me any more if he knew what I was really like.” She paused as if to maintain control, her lip trembling, “Now, he’s gone off to Mars to meet with another woman. I’m sure it’s over between us…finally. And it’s all my fault!”

Once again, Leela dissolved into a shower of tears.

Penny once again hugged Leela, patting her back, “There, there! It will be alright! Who knows, this bird on Mars may show him the gate. No harm, no foul...eh?”

“No, he’s gone.” Leela said with dull resignation in her voice as she gently pulled away from Penny, “I’ll just have to build my life without him.”

“Listen; why not come round to Daddy and my flat when you get back from Altair Five?” Penny ventured brightly, “We’ll have a dinner party. Daddy does love to entertain and he most especially wants to thank you for helping his “Little Penny” through initial training.” In a pleading tone, she said, “Do say you’ll come, please.”

Sniffling, Leela responded, “Sure, why not?”

Smiling like the Neptunian Mona Lisa, Penny said enigmatically, “Why not, indeed?”


Daytime on a crowded street in downtown Cunaxa

Agent Axel walked slowly across the Muggword Memorial Bridge over the Cunaxa River. It was a bright, sunny day in early spring. The Altarian Bouquet Trees that lined the bridge were in full bloom perfuming the air with their scent. Wildly colored birds sang, chirped, and flitted to and fro between the trees, creating a symphony of color, smell, and sound. “A great day to be alive,” thought Agent Axel.

He was on his way to a face-to-face meeting with one of DOOPs top Altarian agents, code named PROSPERO. PROSPERO had vital information on both the loss of Agent Ares and the movement of illegal arms shipments in the sector. It was so sensitive that he could only communicate it to his handler face-to-face. So, Axel was making an exception to the normal rules.

Axel was on Altair 5 under official cover as the Second Secretary for Protocol at the DOOP Embassy. This allowed him to travel freely throughout Cunaxa and its suburbs. One unfortunate side effect of having official cover was that it had made Axel a bit careless. As a result, he did not notice that he was being tailed.

His tail was a man of medium height, wearing dark but nondescript clothing. He also had a slight limp and used a cane. Moving surprisingly fast for a man with a limp, the man closed the distance to Axel on the center span of the bridge. Once he was directly behind Axel, the man lifted his cane from the ground. If there had been anyone close by, they would have heard a barely indistinguishable, “Snick.”

With a rapid, darting motion, the man struck Axel in the right calf with the end of his cane. As he passed, he mumbled, “Goodbye, Agent Axel.” The man then jumped into a cab that appeared if as on cue.

At first, Agent Axel had felt nothing…just pressure. After the man departed, Axel felt a burning sensation in his calf. Then his leg, followed by his entire body began to go numb. Before darkness overtook him, he managed to send an emergency transmission over his Wristamajigy. When Agent Gold found him, he was unconscious. Four hours later, Axel was dead without having ever regained consciousness.


Excerpt from “DNA and Cross Speciation Throughout the Galaxy” by Zhao Halva, University of Mars Press, 2900.

A fascinating by-product of Cygnian DNA is the production by the females of a pheromone that activates the bonding instinct in the male”

Curiously, the Cygnian female pheromone acts as a super-pheromone on human males exposed to it. In extreme cases (.001%), it has been known to cause temporary unconsciousness in the human male subject.”

Release of the pheromone is entirely voluntary on the part of the female, so in a very real sense, it can be said that Cygnian females are dominant in their choice of a mate.”

However, this is not to say that the male is utterly defenseless. Social protocol mandates that the male show at least some sign of interest.”

When interested in a female, Cygnian males involuntarily emit a pheromone that highlights female awareness. For Cygnian females, this creates a release, no release scenario.”

The Cygnian male pheromone has an effect on human females similar to that of the female pheromone on human males.”

While Cygnian human cross breeding is rare, it is primarily due to a lack of interest on the part of the Cygnian side of the equation.”


Exterior of Mars University Campus

Fry walked slowly under the entrance sign to Mars University. “Knowledge Brings Fear” it proudly proclaimed. He thought for a second, “If that was true, I wouldn’t be afraid of anything.” But here he was, scared to death.

He had only met Virginia GunZ once, at the inauguration of the new DOOP Headquarters. He was on the rebound from Leela…as always. Things had seemed to be clicking right after he had written his Opera, but he had pushed too hard, too fast. Leela had backed away again, leaving him lonely and desperate. Then came the State Dinner at DOOP Headquarters where he had danced with Virginia.

The smell of her long, blonde hair had been absolutely intoxicating. That and the feel of her warm, soft body close to his made him feel light headed. When he noticed that her skin seemed to shimmer with a silver color, her aroma seemed to become even more enticing. Unsure of himself, he mumbled an excuse, and unsteadily led her from the dance floor.

As they sat, he began to make conversation. At first, he felt like he had peanut butter in his mouth, but no matter what he said…no matter how stupid it was…she found it fascinating. She was the perfect listener, gently coaxing him along as he told the story of the Brain Spawn attack. Heck, no one had even believed him before!

She seemed interested in everything about him. She even listened with rapt attention to the story about his fossilized dog, Seymour. Best of all, when he poured his heart out to her about his love for Leela, she didn’t tune him out. Instead, she seemed to genuinely empathize with him. Nor did she show any hostility toward Leela. Instead, she had observed that Leela might be frightened of commitment.

He had hated for the evening to end. Before he left, he had gotten her email address and had promised to come and see her on Mars. Every night, he had danced with her in his dreams. And here he was at her dormitory! Screwing up his courage, he walked up to the door and pressed the button to the intercom.

A voice from the intercom spoke, “Who is it?”

Fry replied nervously, “It’s Fry.”

The voice asked, “Fry? Who are you here to see?”

Still nervous, Fry replied, “I’m here to see Virginia GunZ, please.”

The voice said, “One minute.” Fry could hear a muffled voice in the background, “Ginny, it’s some guy named Fry.”

Fry stood nervously, trying to whistle his favorite tune, but his mouth was so dry, and he couldn’t manage a sound. There was a sound of rapidly approaching footfalls from the other side of the door. It swung open to reveal Virginia, smiling a radiant smile of pure joy. She looked so beautiful! Fry felt as though his breath was taken away.

The sunlight caused her long blonde tresses to appear to shimmer, just as her skin was shimmering. Her red sun dress with its bright floral pattern just made her seem even more attractive. All he could do was stand there, slack jawed…robbed of the powers of speech, thought, and movement.

Virginia laughed as she spoke, “I’m so happy to see you! Are you going to stand there and just stare, or can I have a hug?”

Fry nodded weakly without speaking. He stepped forward on trembling knees and embraced Virginia. Her aroma curled its tendrils throughout his soul. He held her like a drowning man holds onto a life preserver. They stood there for some minutes before speaking.

Fry said in a voice shaking with emotion, “I missed you.”

With equal emotion, Virginia replied, “I missed you, too.” She looked him in the eyes, “How have you been?”

Fry mumbled, “Great…well…not so great...I mean, OK.” He paused before continuing with feeling, “But everything is great now that I’m with you.”

Virginia looked surprised and said gently, “I sense there is a story behind what you just said. Why not come up to my room and tell me all about it?”

“OK. I’d love to.”

Fry held the door for Virginia and they walked down the hallway to her room.


Interior of the Planet Express Ship, approaching Altair Five

Leela sat in the pilot’s chair. She had engaged the autopilot on the initial approach in order to have more time to think. What should she do about her crew? She had been granted authority to recruit them as support agents, as well as having been given an operations fund to do so.

She remembered the pitch on recruiting agents she had received at Safe House 451 from a retired GIA Agent code named SUVAROV. She had liked the acronym he used to describe the motivations that led people into espionage.

Suvarov had stood at the writing board and written the word “M.I.C.E.” “This, ladies and gentlemen is all you need to remember about the motivations of the agents you recruit. It is an acronym that stands for Money, Ideology, Compromise, and Ego. It has been useful for as long as there have been intelligence operations. It will continue to be so.”

Bender was easy. Money was his key…along with a control unit to his patriotism chip. Amy was a blend of money and ego. She was always short of cash because her parents kept her on a tight financial leash. There was also a subtle facet of Amy’s ego that needed recognition and adventure.

Zoidberg could be recruited with a pail of stinking fish heads, so he wasn’t a problem at all. And she did want him on the team. The DreamWeaver installed in his cabin had wrought a change in him. The Decapodian brain was able to process DreamWeaver signals at roughly 20 times the speed of that of a human. So, he had been received the equivalent of 60 days of first aid and medical training during the trip.

It was really amusing to watch the good doctor scuttling around the cabin, telling everyone he could corner about the wonders of the human body. “Only one heart, but such a heart!” he would say. As the only other crewman without an assigned station during normal operations, Eric suffered especially from Doctor Zoidberg’s medical monologues.

Nothing Eric did could deter the torrent of words. “A pity I can’t simply cook and eat him,” Eric had muttered to Leela. Thinking about how frustrated poor Eric was, she laughed softly to herself.

She returned to the problem of filling out her support agent staff. Fry…what should she do about Fry? He was such an enigma at times. He’d probably do it just because Bender was doing it. “That’s the approach,” she thought, “use Bender to recruit Fry.”

She started a bit when a voice issued from the control panel, “This is Altair Five Planetary Defense Control, Ship approaching with IFF Squawk 10011001, Identify.”

Leela responded briskly, “Altair Five Planetary Defense Control, this is Planet Express Ship, Galactic Registry India Mike Charlie Romeo Zulu Yankee-Romeo Uniform One Two, destination Dock One Seven One, Cunaxa Commercial Spaceport. Request landing instructions.”

After a short pause, the controller answered, “Planet Express Ship, you are cleared for landing. Come to an approach vector of One-One-Niner degrees. Use glide slope Charlie X-Ray Three Five Zero Niner on entering atmosphere. Ceiling and visibility are unlimited, winds from North-North East at Five kilometers per hour. At three kilometers AGL1 you are cleared for VFR2 approach at discretion.”

Leela responded in her command voice, “WILCO Control.” She turned in her seat, “Take your places everyone. Prepare for landing.” Everyone moved to their assigned stations as Leela maneuvered the ship toward the planet.


Interior, Virginia GunZ dormitory room, Mars University

“This place is sure a lot nicer than the financial aid dorms,” Fry said…and immediately thought, “What a boneheaded thing to say.”

Virginia smiled, “One of my sorority sisters in Kappa Kappa Wong lives in the financial aid dorms. It has made me a little more grateful for this place. When I first moved in, I thought it was a dump. I complained to my brother, but he just said that I’d have to deal with it.”

Fry responded, “Man, Ginny, you have it made! You have a nice big bed, a work station, computer, a microwave, a refrigerator, a plasma TV and a lazy boy. What else could you want?”

“Why don’t you sit in the lazy boy? I’ll sit on the bed. Then we can talk.” Virginia said, gesturing toward the overstuffed arm chair.

“Couldn’t we both sit on the bed?” Fry asked, giving his best boyish grin.

Virginia flashed silver for a second, “No, my brother visits me often and I don’t think he would understand.”

“I thought your brother was a rich guy ambassador for DOOP?”

“He still teaches here at the University and he has a class in session.”

“Come on, Ginny,” Fry said in his most sincere voice, “Nothing will happen.”

“I don’t know, Fry.” Virginia looked doubtful, biting her lip.

“Please, Ginny, I just want to hold you. I’ve missed you so much.” He gave her a soulful look.

“Okay, you can sit on the bed with me. I’ve wanted to hold you too.”

Fry sat next to Virginia on the bed. They embraced for a few minutes without speaking. Fry could feel himself stirring in ways that could only lead in one direction. Virginia found herself torn. True to her Cygnian heritage, she had no experience in physical love. She had never even kissed a man on the lips, save for her close relatives. All she knew of physical love came out of sex education classes, Cosmo, and gossip sessions with her sorority sisters.

Based on that scanty knowledge, she had originally planned to seduce Fry, knowing he would be inextricably bound to her. But now, she was having second thoughts. Not because she did not care for him, but because she found that she really, really cared. Before, she had simply been wildly infatuated with the man who defeated the Brain Spawn. Now, she needed him…Phillip J. Fry…boyish, carefree, and gentle, but honestly, without deception.

Virginia spoke first, “Fry, what are you thinking?”

Fry responded before he could control his tongue, “How I’d love to make love to you, Ginny.” He stiffened as he was sure he had just destroyed whatever chance he had with Virginia. “Crud, I am such an idiot,” he thought. He was absolutely bowled over by Virginia’s response.

Virginia faced him and said, “I’ve wanted to make love you as well, but I need to tell you…”

Surprising even himself, Fry stifled her response with a kiss. Virginia felt all of her plans, all of her resistance, and all of her reservations vanish as their lips touched. She kissed him back, gently but passionately.

Fry took his hands and gently cupped her face. He looked into her eyes and said, “Ginny, I want you” before he kissed her again. She felt dizzy and weak. “Oh Fry” was all that she could say between their kisses.

Fry began gently exploring the outline of Virginia’s body with his caresses. She knew it was wrong, but seemed to have lost any will of her own. It almost seemed as though she was detached from her own body. She simply wanted Fry as her man…and she would do anything to get him. She knew Fry was unbuttoning the straps of her sun dress, but could not summon up the will to resist. “Fry, I love you.”

At that moment, there was a quick knock on the door. “Ginny, it’s me” she heard the voice of her brother Ray announce just as the door began to open. “Oh no!” she thought, “I didn’t lock the door.” Before she could move away from Fry or straighten her clothing, she heard her brother’s voice sounding like the crack of a whip, “What is going on here?”


Motel 62, Cunaxa Spaceport

The Planet Express crew piled off the hoverbus and trudged into the motel. Leela was in the lead, followed by Amy, Bender, Zoidberg, and Eric. Each was carrying an identical black duffle bag. Leela observed as they entered that the motel seemed to be in pretty good shape, on the outside at any rate.

They went through the usual process of getting checked in and headed for their rooms. In accordance with her training, Leela made sure that all rooms were on the second floor, away from the elevators and stairwells, and away from the street.

When Leela got to her room, she unpacked her duffle. Once her personal gear was put away, she took out a pair of electronic search spiders and activated them. Once they swept the room, she relaxed a bit after packing them away in their box.

“Time to get to work,” she thought. She activated the dial up touch screen on her Wristamjigy. She pulled an ear jack from the unit and placed it into her ear. Hearing a dial tone, she punched in a series of numbers. The ring tone sounded three times before Eric answered, “Hello?”

“Is your room to your satisfaction?” asked Leela. She used this phrase to let Eric know that it was safe to talk on her end, and they were on an encrypted link. “Great! I even have ice.” Eric replied. This meant that things were secure on his end as well.

“Eric, I’m going to patch us in to Agent Gold. She’ll give us a situation update.” Leela punched some additional buttons and a ring tone sounded five times before a woman’s voice answered. “DOOP Embassy, how may I direct your call?”

“Second Secretary for Public Information, please.” Leela responded.

“May I ask who is calling, please?”

“Miss Leela Solo from Universal News”

“One moment, please.”

After a brief pause, a woman’s voice came on the line, “Second Secretary for Public Information, how may I help you, Miss Solo?”

“Yes, I’m calling on behalf of Mr. Silver. He said you are an amateur musician.”

‘Yes, I play flute. And your instrument is?”

“I play the zither, but not very well.”

Having exchanged the sign and countersign, they got down to business. Laurel spoke with quiet authority, “The Blue Moon Café at the Western end of the Muggword River Bridge in one hour. I’ll be there wearing a red dress and reading a book…the Lonely Galaxy Guide to Altair Five…bona fides in accordance with protocol seven, got it?”

“Right,” Leela answered and hung up. “Eric, are you still on the line?”

“Yes, Leela, I have nothing else planned for the morning.”

“Good, I’ll meet you in the lobby in ten minutes.”

Leela took the jack out of her ear and checked the map to ensure she remembered her tail detection route. The café was close, so it would be fairly easy to run a thorough check. She knew Eric was in his room, checking his precious weapons for the umpteenth time.

He had shown them to her with such pride. He had a pistol and a rifle, both of which were maglev accelerators. “No sound and no signature,” he had said almost lovingly.

Ugh! How could someone love weapons? Still, she knew that two agents had been assassinated in the past month. So she accepted Eric and his weapons as a necessary evil. Once she had her equipment arranged just as she wanted it, she left for the lobby.

The Blue Moon Café, Cunaxa, Altair Five

Laurel Hill sat at a two-seat table by the sidewalk, sipping a Rigellian latte as he watched Leela cross the street. She recognized Leela from the photo in her dossier. She also knew that Leela was a protégé of the Director.

Leela approached the table, pausing for a moment before she asked, “Is this seat taken?”

In accordance with security protocols Laurel replied, “That depends, do you have a match?”

“No, I use a lighter. They are better.”

“True, until they go wrong.” Then Laurel motioned to Leela to sit down.

A waiter was instantly at Leela’s elbow. In an unctuous voice he asked, “What is Madame’s pleasure?”

“Blue Moon Coffee…black.”

“Very good, Madame,” the waiter hurried off.

Laurel waited until the waiter was out of earshot before she began speaking, “Okay…you are here as Leela Solo for Universal News. I’m granting you an “off the record” interview. Got it?”

“Check. I have all the required documents to backstop my cover story.”

“Good. Let me brief you on the mission…” Laurel paused as the waiter returned with the coffee.

“Will that be all Madame?”

“Yes, thank you.”

After a short pause, Laurel explained that Agent PROSPERO, a highly placed Altarian source, had learned of arms smuggling to Annam 5 by the agents of the Xoran. This arms smuggling included weapons and equipment specifically prohibited by the Omicronian Pact. PROPSERO had indicated that he knew where a large shipment of arms was located. Unfortunately, his controller, Agent Axel had been assassinated.

“As a matter of fact, we haven’t been doing too well lately. Two of our agents have been assassinated in the past month,” Laurel observed in a sad tone.

Leela’s eye narrowed as she asked, “I only heard the details about Axel. What happened to the other agent?”

“Agent Ares was garroted,” she replied while pulling a face, “nasty business.”

Laurel slid a small envelope across the table. Leela took it and placed it in her jacket pocket. When it was safely tucked away, Leela asked, “This is the mission briefing, I assume?”

“That and more. It also contains contact plans for PROSPERO. You need to try to establish if PROSPERO has been turned and is now working for the Xoran. At any rate, you need to help us find and destroy that arms shipment. Otherwise, the Omicronians may get involved in the war.”

“Wouldn’t they come down on the Xoran?”

Laurel sighed, “I wish it was that simple. You know how tradition bound the Omicronians are, their philosophy is to ‘kill them all and let the gods sort them out.’ So, we would catch at least some of the blowback from this mess.”

“Okay,” Leela said with a wry smile on her face, “Do you have any other cheerful observations for me?”

“Just be careful! We need a live agent, not a body bag stuffer.”

Leela nodded as she rose from the table, “I’ll contact you in accordance with schedule six alpha.”

“Very well,” Laurel replied.

Within a moment, Leela had crossed the street and was lost from view. Laurel looked down and thought, “She’s good!” Smiling she added, “She even left me the check to pay!”

Exterior, Dormitory Building, Mars University

The scene in Ginny’s dorm room had not been pretty. At first Fry thought he would have to fight Ray. What had confused Fry was Ray saying over and over, “Ginny, how could you? He is defenseless!”

“I’ve been described as a lot of things, but defenseless is a first,” Fry mused as he sat on a bench, waiting for Ray.

The sound of doors opening caused Fry to look up. Ray was striding over, but the angry look was gone from his face. When he got to the bench he sat down next to Fry.

“Look Ray, it wasn’t Ginny’s fault,” Fry began.

Ray cut him off, “Fry, you don’t understand about Cygnian pheromones, do you?”

“What?”

Looking grim, Ray replied, “Cygnian females produce a chemical that attracts men much as a flower attracts bees with its smell. When I entered the room, I could smell it…and I recognized the smell.”

“What does that have to do with me?”

“Fry, my sister violated every Cygnian tradition by releasing her pheromones on a human. You have no natural defenses against it at all.”

“We didn’t do anything.”

Ray’s face softened, “I know. If you had physically made love, you would have been bound to her…permanently.”

“But I want to be bound to her,” Fry blurted out.

Ray shook his head, “Fry, I respect you for your defeat of the Brain Spawn. However, my sister is still legally my ward. That means that I am responsible for her.”

“But she’s twenty-one! How can she be your ward?”

“Cygnians don’t reach the legal age of consent until they are twenty five.”

Fry frowned, “That is so bogus!”

“Bogus it may be, but I must ask you to promise me that you will not see her any more without my knowledge…at least until she is of legal age.”

Fry felt frustration and bitterness rise up in his heart. First he spent five years wooing Leela to no effect, now the one woman who showed genuine interest in him was out of his reach for another four years! “Damn it!” he thought, “It just isn’t fair.”

The emotions showing on Fry’s face caused Ray to take pity on him. He patted Fry’s shoulder, “I’m not saying you can’t see her. I just don’t want either of you making a stupid mistake. Do you understand?”

Fry nodded in affirmation, afraid that his voice would betray him.

Glancing at his watch, Ray rose. “Fry, I have a class in five minutes.” Ray extended his hand, “Come to my apartment here on campus for dinner. Ginny will be there.”

Fry rose to take Ray’s hand, “I’ll be there, too.”

“See you at six?”

“I’ll be there.”

The Muggword Café, Victory Plaza, Cunaxa, Altair 5

Leela and Eric cautiously approached the meeting with Agent PROSPERO from different directions along separate routes. Four hours before the meeting, Eric made his way to a second floor balcony of a room across the street that had a view of the meeting site. One hour prior to the meeting, Leela went to a kiosk down the block from the café where she kept the meeting site under observation before she moved in.

As she sat down at a table in the café, she felt like a staked goat – bait for a tiger. She was acutely conscious that two other agents died recently at the hands of an unknown assassin (or assassins). The phrase “three is a charm” flitted through her mind.

“Not if I can help it,” she muttered under her breath as she sat waiting for PROSPERO.

Across the street, Eric was conducting a brick-by-brick examination of the buildings across the street. Something about a warehouse that was slightly offset from the plaza made the hair on the back of his neck raise up. He used the scope on his rifle to get an accurate reading on the distance to a window that seemed carelessly ajar. He programmed the data for a shot into his rifle.

Eric smiled. If any bad guy showed up to take a shot from that window, he’d get a .50 caliber maglev surprise!

Meanwhile, Leela sat reading a paper. Just as she reached the sports section, PROSPERO arrived. He was a tall humanoid with slightly greenish skin and very dark hair and eyes. He radiated nervousness as he approached the table.

Once they had exchanged bona fides, PROSPERO sat down. He looked about quickly before saying, “The weapons cache is in the Tri-Star district. The address is 112 Rigel Avenue. It’s got an alarm system and a 24 hour guard force.”

Leela nodded.

As they conversed, Eric kept slowly sweeping the area with his trained eyes. He caught some movement in the window he had noticed earlier, so he raised his maglev rifle. As his scope focused in on the dark well of the window, he saw the characteristic energy signature of a maglev being fired.

The round struck Agent PROSPERO in the head, causing a messy explosion which sprayed flesh and body fluids all around. Leela immediately dove beneath the table, pulling her pistol as she rolled.

Behind and above her, Eric fired. The shooter in the window threw up his hands, tumbling backwards and dropping his weapon.

By now people realized that something bad was going on. A woman who had been splashed by some of PROSPERO’s body fluids began to scream.

Even as she had rolled, Leela saw the shooter throwing up his hands. She also knew that assassins didn’t always work alone. So she kept low, crawling over to PROSPERO’s body. What met her eye shocked her.

His head was visibly growing back!

Within seconds, a new head had formed. PROSPERO blinked his new eyes and muttered, “God, I hate that! You have no idea how much that stings!”

Leela felt a wave of relief, “Can you make it out of here on your own?”

He smiled, “I’m a little weak, but I’m sure that I can. Re-growing a head takes a lot out of you.”

“I’ll bet.”

Her Wristamajigy began to chirp. When she answered it using her ear jack, she heard Eric’s voice, “Solo, this is Beethoven. Everything is clear. Get the hell out of there. Use alternate plan Bravo for rendezvous. I’ll cover you.”

“WILCO, Beethoven.” She pulled the jack from her hear before darting across the street, headed for the rendezvous.

Arms Warehouse at 112 Rigel Avenue, Tri-Star district, Cunaxa, Altair 5.

Altair had gone to rest and the First Moon had not yet risen. The Tri-Star district had seen better days. Most of the buildings were dilapidated and the street lighting was chancy at best. It was pitch black on Rigel Avenue. Leela stood in the darkness outside the warehouse at 112, examining one of the doors.

“I wish Penny were here,” Leela breathed to herself, “She’d know how to disarm these alarms.” She was certain that both the doors and the windows were alarmed, making her wish she had paid more attention during the breaking and entering classes. Still, she’d have to try.

She noted the two armed guards inside, who prowled incessantly around the closely-packed piles of crates marked “Farm Machinery.” Both were Tall, blue-skinned humanoids with no visible body hair. They were dressed in black uniforms and were armed with MP-12 laser submachine guns. From the way they carried their weapons, it looked as if they knew how to use them.

Leela withdrew across the street to the abandoned warehouse where Eric had set up to cover her. She took the long way into the building, checking carefully to make sure she wasn’t followed. When she got within sight of Eric, she could see that he was slowly sweeping the ground on the opposite side off the street with the telescopic sight mounted on his .50 Caliber Maglev.

She lay down quietly and whispered, “Anything?”

Eric replied quietly, “Nothing new. The guards are very regular in their coverage…no gaps that I can see. It means we’ll have to take care of them both if they catch wind of what we’re doing. Are the charges ready?”

Leela nodded, “Yes. I have enough T-4 in this backpack to take out a city block.”

“Good.”

Leela laughed softly, “Do you know they marked the crates as farm machinery? How dumb can they be?”

Eric smiled as he shook his head, “Yes, I saw. Who would bother to put armed guards on crates of farm machinery?”

After a brief pause Leela rose to a kneeling position, “Well, Eric it looks as if we may have to do some shooting when we enter. I’m not sure that I know how to disarm the alarm system.”

“Kurat!3” Eric said with some vehemence. He didn’t like close quarter shoot-outs.

Leela understood the emotion behind Eric’s words, if not the language. It flashed through her mind that Eric’s rules of engagement were to shoot unarmed opponents in the back from a distance with a suppressed weapon.

The first time he told her his rules; Leela had protested that it sounded awfully unfair. Eric had responded in an icy tone, “It’s all very well to talk about rules in an academic environment. The cold reality is that even the best shooter can get killed by an unlucky shot during a melee. Our job is to kill, not be killed.”

Back in the present, she nodded, “Okay. Change of plan. You cover me from here. I’ll give the alarm system one more try. No sense in making a lot of fuss if we don’t have to. If I can’t disarm the alarms, I’ll breach the door with an explosive charge when one of the guards passes close by. Hopefully the door will take him out. I’ll toss in the gas grenades. If you have to, drop the other guard. I’ll set the charges and you can cover my withdrawal.”

“Good plan, Leela. Except that we should kill both of them.”

“No. No killing unless we have to. I’ll set the charges for a five minute delay. That should give us ample time to clear the area.”

“Check.”

Rising to her feet, Leela padded off into the darkness. Silently, she crossed the street to the doorway. Through a slight crack she could see the guard closest to the door pacing back-and-forth.

From her backpack she withdrew a roll of what looked like thick rolled up bubble gum. She carefully molded it around the door frame, paying special attention to the hinges and the lock.

That done, she carefully reached into her backpack to set the timers on the other charges for five minutes. As she did, she smiled. She was glad that the GIA Science and Technology folks had built the timers and not the Professor. With her luck, the Professor would have set them at 50 seconds.

Pausing to check the guard’s position, Leela inserted a silver fuse into the bubble gum close to the lock. With that done, she turned her attention back to the alarm system. A sudden flash of inspiration struck her. She scanned the circuit box with her Mark XIII GIA Issue Wristamajigy.

After a few seconds a box popped up, DO YOU WANT TO DEACTIVATE THIS DEVICE?

Leela punched in “YES.”

The Wristamajigy emitted an almost inaudible hum. Then text appeared on the screen, SYSTEM DEACTIVATED.

Smiling, Leela signaled across the street to Eric that the alarm was off. Then she set about using her mini-lock picking kit to open the door. In less than ten seconds she had silently unlocked the door.

Checking one last time for the guard’s position, she donned a respirator, put a gas grenade in each hand, and kicked the door open.

“Keep your eye on the ball, Leela,” she muttered to herself. Before either guard could react, she had beaned both of them, blernsball-like, with a grenade. They staggered from the force of the grenade hitting their noggins. Before they recovered their bearings the gas overcame them.

Leela charged through the door before the vapor even cleared. Both guards were twitching convincingly on the floor, their nervous systems short circuited by the gas. As Leela moved past both guards she kicked their weapons far away from their bodies. Satisfied she wouldn’t be back shot, she went to work.

Within sixty seconds, she set all of the charges. Then she grabbed both of the guards by their collars and dragged them a safe distance away from the building. “They’re surprisingly light for their size,” she reflected, “or maybe it’s the adrenaline.”

Running back to the entrance to the warehouse, Leela pulled out a key-fob sized initiator with a large red button in the center. She pressed the button and all of the charges emitted a beep. The countdown had begun.

Leela darted across the street, into the front of the abandoned warehouse, and out the rear into the alley. Eric was there, already revving up the hovercar. The trunk was open, so she threw her backpack and respirator into it and slammed it shut. Leela leaped into the passenger’s side seat and the hovercar sped away into the night.

Planet Express Ship, Earthbound

The Planet Express Ship was making it’s way back to Earth. The stop at Urectum to deliver their load of Duranium Ore had been uneventful. Amy was at the helm. Leela was in her cabin, waiting for a call from the GIA Director, Ray GunZ.

The video screen at her desk began to flash. “Incoming message,” the robotic voice intoned. Leela said crisply, “I’ll take it.”

The video screen filled with Ray’s smiling face. His green eyes seemed to twinkle, “Congratulations Agent Solo, your mission was a resounding success.”

“Thank you, Ray.”

“I’ve looked over your report. You are a very modest person.”

“Well,” Leela began to blush, “I really didn’t do anything that spectacular.”

“Nonsense! You showed remarkable courage and sound judgment.” He paused briefly, “I especially liked the restraint you showed in not killing those guards.”

She shook her head, “I don’t like killing.”

“Neither do I, though it is sometimes necessary.”

Leela nodded without responding.

After a brief silence, Ray resumed speaking, “Change of subject…Did you know that Fry has been trying to romance my sister, Virginia?”

Caught off guard Leela stammered, “N..No…I mean Yes, I know he went to Mars to see her.”

Ray’s eyes narrowed briefly as he took in Leela’s flustered behavior. He waited for a few seconds before he resumed, “Well, I think it’s just an infatuation on Ginny’s part. Fry seemed confused and torn when I spoke to him after dinner last night. I think he has another love and is on the rebound.”

Willing her suddenly wildly beating heart to slow down, Leela said in a controlled voice, “Fry has spent much of his life in a state of confusion.”

Ray gave a short bark of laughter, “Maybe so, but remember he is a hero to Cygnians everywhere.”

“If you say so.”

“Well, I hope that you won’t judge him too harshly. He was under the effect of Ginny’s pheromones, after all.”

“What?”

“Don’t you know about Cygnian pheromones?”

“No.”

For the next few minutes Ray filled Leela in about the effect of Cygnian pheromones on humans. Then he explained how Ginny had used them on Fry. He ended by saying, “So you see, I wouldn’t judge him too harshly.”

“I see.”

Ray shrugged, “Well there’s no permanent harm.” Squaring his shoulders, Ray looked Leela in the eye, “Well, these long distance calls cost the Agency money. You did a great job on Altair 5. I’ll see you at Headquarters after you return. Stay well, Solo.”

“You too, Ray.”

The screen went blank. Leela sat back in her chair. “So Fry was under the effect of pheromones, eh?” she said softly to herself. Smiling, she stood up and headed for the bridge softly whistling, “I’m walking on sunshine.”

THE END

Footnotes:

1AGL is an acronym for Above Ground Level.

2VFR is an acronym for Visual Flight Rules.

3The Devil! In Estonian

Buddies