Meanwhile back at Planet Express...
Leela and Amy are sitting on the couch watching tv with Willy seated between them. Willy is still trying to get used to life in the thirty-first century.
Bender walks in, guzzles down a beer, and belches flame as young Willy looks on in astonishment.
"A robot that drinks beer?!" he says. "My friends and family are not going to believe this! Nobody is going to believe this!"
"You better believe it you four-eyed shorty!" said Bender.
"Bender!" Leela says harshly. "Don't talk to Willy that way!"
"Bite my shiny metal ass you one-eyed freak!"
Leela's face flushes with anger at this insult.
"One eye?" Willy turns to Leela and stares at her single eye. "Are you a cyclops or something like I've read in stories?"
Leela cools down as she turns to him. "I used to think I was an alien. But that was before I found out I was actually a mutant. You know what a mutant is, do you?"
"I think so," said Willy. "You know, my friend Deadeye also has one eye, but he used to have two. How he lost the other eye I'll never know."
"So what did people call him before then?" asked Amy with a giggle. Leela glares at her pathetic attempt to make a joke.
"That's not funny Amy," said Leela. "Willy certainly doesn't need you or Bender poking fun at him or his friends."
"You're nice," said Willy. "You remind me of Jenny."
"Who's Jenny?" asked Leela.
"Jenny is one of my friends in the Anniverse," Willy says. "All I can say is I have never known a more caring person in my life. She's basically the heart and soul of the crew."
Amy snickers. "Your girlfriend?"
Willy is shocked. He shakes his head. "What? No! Look it would never work out. Besides, I'm a human! She's a cat!"
Amy grins. "Hey Leela, what are your thoughts on bestiality?"
"Amy, shut up!" Leela snaps.
"And for that matter, I'm only a little boy," Willy goes on.
"So she's a pedophile too!" Amy replies with glee, clapping her hands. "My my my, you sure have strange tastes in friends."
"Alright Amy, that's enough!" Leela shouts angrily. "One more remark like that and I'm going to kick your - " she stops in mid-sentence and claps one hand over her mouth, realizing she's in the presence of a little boy.
"I think the word you're looking for is 'ass'!" said Bender.
"Bender, don't use that language around Willy," says Leela, "He's only a boy!"
"Whatever!" snorts Bender as he walks away.
"I don't think I like Bender," said Willy. "He's nothing at all like Blinky."
"Who is Blinky?" asked Amy. "Another robot?"
"Exactly," said Willy nodding. "He's much more scientific and efficient for a robot who has free will. Usually, robots are like computers, they're supposed to do what they are programmed to do."
"Tell us about the rest of your friends," said Leela, "and don't bother to comment Amy."
"Well, there's Bucky. He's the greatest hero in the anniverse. Then there's Bruiser, what he lacks in brains, he more than makes up with in brawn."
"Whereas Fry is severely lacking in both!" said Amy.
"Amy, what did I just say?" Leela says through clenched teeth.
"Well you have to admit it is true," said Amy. When her defense fails to soften Leela's face, she quickly stands and leaves the room.
Willy's stomach begins to growl. "I'm getting kind of hungry and thirsty," he said. "What have you got to eat and drink here in the thirty-first century?"
Leela turns off the tv with the remote. "Come on, I'll fix you up a snack and a drink."
She leads him to the kitchen and opens the fridge. "For drinks, we have water, soda, and Slurm."
"What the heck is Slurm?" asked Willy.
"Trust me," said Leela. "You don't want to know."
"Is it disgusting?" asked Willy.
"Not according to Fry," said Leela. "It's his favorite drink. Even more than soda. And believe me, back in the twentieth century where he came from, he used to drink a hundred cans of coke a week!"
"A hundred cans?" Willy exclaims in shock.
"That's right," said Leela. "At least until his third heart attack."
"Three heart attacks?" asked Willy.
"Not bad for a guy who back then was only twenty-five when he was cyrogenetically frozen!"
Willy ponders this impossible fact for a few moments before speaking. "Nobody is definately going to believe this! So what exactly is Slurm anyway? Why does Fry enjoy it so much?"
"I don't think you want to know," Leela struggles to maintain her composure. The memory of walking into that room in the Slurm factory still haunted her to this day to find out what Slurm truly was. "Here at Planet Express, we are the only people on the planet who know what the secret and only ingredient really is."
"Well I'm afraid to ask, but I'm morbidly curious," said Willy.
"Argh!" Leela groans, throwing her hands up in exasperation. "Okay you win! It's actually slug excrement! There, you happy now little boy?"
Willy stares wide-eyed at her in horror. He's not sure whether to vomit or faint. "Ugh! I'll have a soda!"
"Good choice! Now for food, all there is to eat in here is this leftover sandwich."
"What's on it?" asked Willy.
"Nevermind," said Leela giving Willy a soda. "It looks like someone took a bite out of it already."
"I'm still hungry," said Willy as he opens the can and drinks.
"Well," said Leela, "how about I take you out for lunch so you can see for yourself how much cuisine hasn't changed since the twentieth century?"
Over in the Anniverse, Fry sits in the co-pilot seat of the Righteous Indignation, alone in the cockpit of the ship. He spends the time twidling his thumbs while staring out at the passing stars of the galaxy.
Finally, he hears the sounds of someone climbing the ladder up into the cockpit. Moments later, Jenny seats herself into the pilot seat and presses the button to deactivate the auto-pilot as she takes the controls once more.
"The others have updated me on what they have learned from interogotiating you," she says. "And I must say that I have never met anyone who has suffered so much hardship in life such as yourself."
"Flattery will get you nowhere," said Fry.
"I just want you to know that I'm really sorry for all that you've endured back in the twentieth century," Jenny goes on. "I just can't imagine what it was like for you. A whole life of feeling rejected by everyone you were supposed to be close to. Friends. Family. A girlfriend. Still, things must have improved greatly for you in the thirty-first century."
"And here comes the lecture," Fry told himself.
His prediction came true. "I agree with Bucky and Bruiser that what you did was very foolish," said Jenny. There was no harshness or anger in her voice. Perhaps she was just so compassionate Fry told himself that any negative feelings are foreign to her. "Your friends and this Leela you've become enamoured with, they were more than just your co-workers, they were like family to you, everything you've lacked in the twentieth century, a place where you belonged, with people who actually cared about you...and you threw it all away."
"Ouch," Fry's conscience tormented him. He knew she was right.
"You may never get the chance to fill such an empty emotional void ever again," Jenny gently scolded him.
"Look," Fry finally spoke up, "I couldn't help it. Besides, it's not like I was really truly valued there. The professor even said so himself that I was the most incompetent assistant he ever had. Basically, I got tired of feeling underappreciated. Life truly hasn't changed much for me since I was thawed out."
"Fry..." Jenny starts to argue, but he won't let her.
"Think about it, I'm a college dropout who made his living as a pizza delivery boy. When I was young, I once had a dream that I would make a difference in the world and win the respect of my family. That dream's dead since they are gone now. In the thirty-first century, nobody even cares about my achievements. Nobody even remembers the time I saved the Earth from an army of invading brains."
"Brains?" asked Jenny.
"I know, it's pretty complicated. Sometimes I don't even understand it myself. They sapped the intelligence out of everyone. I was the only person unaffected. Yet even when I saved the day, I was nothing more than an unsung hero. Nobody even knows I did it after their memories before the invasion were restored."
"Nobody?" asked Jenny.
"Nobody!" Fry says crossing his arms. "Recently, a new game at the arcade reignited my dream of being a real hero and finally winning the respect I deserve. Yet I couldn't even get past the first level! How pathetic is that?"
"Fry, you mustn't be so hard on yourself," said Jenny. "I'm sure people appreciated you for your other qualities. We all have our special talents. You know that I can use magic for one thing."
"That's true," said Fry. "But still, what makes me special? Nothing that's what?"
"I doubt it," said Jenny. "One day, you'll have the chance to prove otherwise to everyone in life who ever doubted you, yourself most of all. And I believe that day is coming very soon."
"You think so?" asked Fry, his hopes rising. "Can an artificer really see the future?"
"No," said Jenny. "And I know this Fry, even if your family is gone, you can still be someone they can be proud of. Bucky knows this. So does Bruiser. And so do I."
"Yes, I've heard about what happened to Bucky's father and brothers as well as Bruce's brother." The last part of her last statement kindles curiousity within him. "Hey, that reminds me." He turns to face her and decides to take Bucky's suggestion. "what's your story?"
Jenny sighs and lowers her head slightly with her eyes closed. "It still pains me to think about it," she said. A hint of a tear drips down from one eye. She opens her eyes again. "When I was very young, my parents disappeared. No one really knows where but they all believe the worst has happened. You can only imagine my grief and sorrow when the High Artificer told me that my parents were never coming home and that I would never see them alive again."
"I'm sorry," Fry sympathizes. Deep down, he is also envious. At least Jenny herself had been loved by her parents.
"Thank you, I appreciate that," said Jenny with a slight hint of a smile curving her lips. She dabs at her wet eyes glistening with tears and tries to remain strong. "I never saw my parents again and I've long come to accept that they were killed. In a way, the crew of this ship are more than just my closest friends, they are like family to me. We are all like family to each other. But if I knew my parents were still alive out there, I would go look for them. Even if I didn't know where to begin, I would search for them. And I wouldn't rest until I did find them. All this if they were still alive. It's the same with Bruiser. When his brother Bruce disappeared into an alternate dimension because of the Photon Accelerator, he's never given up hope that he will see his brother again."
"I wish my parents had done the same," said Fry. "They never even bothered to look for me as it was considered a waste of tax-payers money."
"If they didn't care enough to look for you, then you can't really consider them family," said Jenny. "Real family and friends would search for their loved ones."
She turns to Fry and stares intently at him. "I know this Fry: if your friends truly do value and appreciate you, they will come looking for you. I hope they do. Willy's return depends on it. I'd hate to think how his family would feel if they never saw him again."
As much as Fry regrets stepping into the Anniverse, he still has his doubts that his co-workers will come look for him. If only the professor could (and would) fix the Photon Accelerator.
"No one would come looking for Zoidberg if he was here," he thought to himself. "Well, maybe I would."
Far in the distance, a large grey sphere is seen. From a distance, it was difficult to determine its exact appearance from space. Even further away was another moon almost directly in front of the sun far behind it.
Jenny reaches up and presses a button. "Bucky, we're approaching the Divordium moon. Stand by for touchdown."
"Roger that Jenny," Bucky's voice replies.
As the moon comes closer, Fry sees that it is similar in appearance to the moon he had seen in Earth's night sky, but with fewer craters covering its surface. One of them appeared to be much larger than the others. Jenny pilots the Righteous Indignation down towards the surface.
The ship touches down within the large crate Fry saw from space. Outside the windows, he sees what looks like a large facility building. The sky is dark with crimson colored clouds. A large round black object blocks out the sun completely, though rays of sunlight shine all around it.
"Come along Fry," said Jenny as she rises from the pilot seat. "It's time for mission debriefing."
A twinge of excitement courses through Fry's body. "I'm coming!"
To Be Continued ...