Futurama

Fan Fiction

Ghost of Xmas Past, Part 5
By MC

 

WARNING: The following portion depicts violence toward a fictional character who is a 12-year-old girl. She has been portrayed as very mature in some ways, but very innocent in others. Be forwarned, this violence is for dramatic effect only, and this author does not condone or endorse this behavior against children in any form, from anyone. The fact that the persons committing this violence are obviously psychotic cannot be expressed forcefully enough. If you are disturbed by such things, please don't read any further. If you have a problem with the situation that I have briefly described above, and want to know what's happend in this part before reading the rest of this chapter, please e-mail me directly. I can give you the short version. I will not be offended if you think I have gone too far. Don't say you haven't been warned.


Everything hurt. His head felt like someone had stabbed him thorough the eye with a spike and left it there, sticking out the base of his skull. His back and his right side felt almost as bad. He opened his eyes and shut them immediately, regretting it as they brought a fresh agony to his skull.

He thought back on what he could remember and tried to figure out what happened. He was going to tell them he was retiring from the Protectors when his tour ended this winter, but he got interrupted by some arvetii in stolen Mandado armor. There was a fire fight and Jeffery died. What an ass that guy was. He wanted me out of the way so badly that he tried to sell us out to a bounty hunter. Bender killed his and Vyr severely wounded hers. Vyr. "Vyr," he croaked, sitting up and instantly regretting it. His lower back felt like broken glass was between his vertebrae and his side burned with every breath. His head spun and he felt like throwing up as he collapsed back onto something soft.

He heard several people enter his room and somewhat recognized two of them by smell: the one that smelled of antiseptic was likely a nurse or doctor, and the one that smelled like a cookie was Fred. Why Fred and another doctor, he wondered. Then, Mmm… cookies, he thought as his attention wandered. Another person, at least he thought there was one more, smelled like cigarettes and coffee. Opening his eyes, very slowly and carefully this time, his vision swam for a minute and then everything cleared. He was in a hospital bed. Fred and a doctor were checking the instruments and writing readings down on a chart. The other person was wearing a brown overcoat, a battered hat, and had something gold glinting on his chest. Great, he thought. Someone called the cops.

"Mr. Fry," the doctor asked coming over to him. "Can you hear me?"

"What happened," Fred, he said instead. "Where am I?"

"Taco Bellevue, Fry," she said. "When we were attacked at the restaurant, you were hit by flying debris. You got thrown out the window to the alley below. I'm surprised that you weren't hurt more than you are. Fry," she began, "I'm sorry, but they took Leela and Vyr."

"What happened," he asked again, suddenly seeing two of her.

"Concussion, four broken ribs, fractured skull, and three cracked vertebrae," the doctor said, checking the chart again. "We want to keep you here for observation."

"The hell you are," he said, struggling to rise. "I've got things to do. People need me."

"Yous ain't going anywhere, pal," the third person said. "Detective O'Leary, NNYPD. I've got three dead bodies in the morgue downstairs, and two of you Mandados in the middle of it."

"Don't forget the two women that were kidnapped," Fred added, checking the chart against one of the machines at Fry's bedside.

"They ain't my concern right now. And who're you?," the detective asked.

"I'm Doctor Scott," she replied. "I'm Mr. Fry's personal physician."

"Well, since you ain't his lawyer, shut up and get out. Dis is between me and him."

"My lawyer is one of your dead bodies," he said, through gritted teeth. "And Dr. Scott and I will be leaving now. You can't keep me here against my will."

"The hell I can't," the detective said, pulling out his handcuffs. I've got three bodies and witnesses that say you were shooting up a restaurant. I've got questions and you've got the answers. And you're going to give them to me, or else."

"Or else what," detective, said a synthesized voice from the doorway.

"Stay out of this, tin head," he replied. "Dis is my…," he trailed off, seeing a fully armed and armored Mandado commando flanked by two armed DOOP Special Forces troopers.

"Mr. Fry and Dr. Scott will be coming with us."

Fred smiled, recognizing the two troopers. Fry's mind reeled. He was in two places at the same time: here in bed and there in the doorway, in his armor, rescuing himself. This was worse than that movie he saw about that drug trip when he was on that drug trip.

The Mandado said, "Mr. Fry had registered with the DOOP on 14 June 3013. There should be no issue with his status. Until Mr. Fry retains new counsel, he's off limits to you. Now, they're coming with us. You can either do this the easy way. Or… well, you know the rest."

"Are you going to let him do this," the detective asked the DOOP soldiers.

"Pretty much," the short one on the right said. She, Fry thought. She's not right. Why is he a 'she'?

"He'll be made available to you soon, Detective," said the Mandado. "Trooper Mars, Trooper Reynolds, please escort Mr. Fry and Dr. Scott out of here."

"You ain't goin' nowhere," Leary began, but he was soon face to face with two DOOP positron rifles. He relented, but wasn't happy about it. Trooper Mars kept his (Her?) rifle trained on the detective as Fred and Trooper Reynolds helped Fry get out of bed.

Fry struggled into a wheel chair and said, "Thank you Advocate…."

"Rodriguez," the Mandado said.

"Thank you, Advocate Rodriguez," he said. "Detective, I'll contact my local police station as soon as I've retained new counsel. Then you can interview me. Doctor," he said, with a nod.

****

The two troopers escorted them outside, where Fry promptly threw up in the street. Fred and Trooper 'Mars' helped him into the back seat as the Mandado and Trooper Reynolds got into the front.

"Thanks for the help, guys," he said.

"No worries, boss," Steve said, ditching his helmet as he drove away.

"Why you, Bender?," he asked, leaning on Trooper 'Mars,' who had also taken off her helmet.

"Too small," Amy said.

"Too sick," Steve said. "How the hell do you wear that thing and not get sick?"

"You get used to it," Fry said, trying to get comfortable. "What happened to our friend?"

"The Mandado, Kama he said his name was, left the system shortly after he left the restaurant," Steve said.

"Fake Mandado," Fry corrected. "Kama means 'ass' in Mando'a. No Mandado in his right mind would call himself Kama."

"Whatever," Steve said. "He took the girls and said you'd know where to find him."

"I can find Vyr," he said. He paused for a few minutes, while he waited for his headache to subside some. "Did anyone call Leela's parents?"

"Yeah," Amy said." Morris said they'd take care of Renee until we got back. We are going, aren't we?"

"Oh, yes," Fry said, sipping back into unconsciousness.

****

Everything hurt. And she was very cold. Her mouth throbbed, and a quick search with her tongue revealed three cracked teeth. Her hips, shoulders, and back ached, and there was something cold on her wrists and ankles.

She opened her eye and closed it immediately from the light that filled the room. She tried to remember what happened to see if it would give a clue as to where she was. She was tanked at dinner. Jeffery was acting like an ass. Poor Jeffery. She wondered why she didn't feel so bad about his dying. He betrayed them, but he was her husband and the father of her child. Sure he had been a jerk, but that wasn't a good enough reason to not care that he was dead, was it? That armored dope came in and his goons started shooting everything up. Vyr killed that guy, and then Fry went out the window. Fry. "Fry," she croaked.

Not hearing an answer, she risked opening her eye again, slowly this time. The room was covered, floor, walls and ceiling in mirrors, and a single white light bore down from overhead. As she started to get used to the glare, she saw that she wasn't alone. Vyr was hanging from the ceiling, chains on her wrists, lekku, and ankles, holding her suspended about 6 inches off the floor. And the girl was almost completely naked, with just a few S&M-style straps covering her privates and breasts. Looking down, she say that she was dressed (Or undressed, she thought disgustedly) the same way. "Vyr," she said. "Vyr, honey? Can you hear me?"

"Leela," she replied weakly, turning her head toward the sound. She immediately gasped as the tension on her lekku pulled them tight. Turning her head back straight, she said, "I can't turn my head without blacking out, Leela. What happened? Where are we?"

"You're nowhere, girl," a disembodied voice said. Suddenly, a wall opened and two figures walked in: one was the armored Mandado, and the other was dressed heat to foot in a black cloak. The figure pulled the hood back and opened the front of the robe. She was dressed in a very revealing skin-tight red dress that barely contained her figure. Sitting on her ample bosom was a pink star sapphire. The dress and the gem, Vyr's gift from Fry, weren't what drew Leela's eye, though. She was a blue-skinned ryll, and looked disturbingly familiar. The eyes, Leela decided. She knew where she had seen them before. Vyr's were a beautiful shade of sky blue, with an open, caring face. This woman's were a shade of blue that was colder than the vacuum, and her face showed the same contempt for warmth.

"What," the woman said, coming up to Vyr and caressing her face with her hand. "No kind words for mommy, Vyr?" When the girl didn't respond, the woman slapped her hard. "Well?"

"You're not my mother," she said, spitting purple blood at her.

"Of course I am, child. What," she said, grabbing one of her lekku and twisting hard, "you don't see the family resemblance? You mother," she said twisting her lekku hard enough for tears to form in Vyr's eyes, "isn't some one-eyed freak, billionaire bimbo heiress, or some armored warrior woman. She's me," she hissed, as Vyr wailed.

"Stop it," Leela said. "You're hurting her. She's just a child."

"She's woman enough, freak," the armored man said, rubbing his leg where Vyr had stabbed him.

"Kama is one to hold a grudge," the ryll said, finally letting go of Vyr, who was gasping in pain. "Oh, where are my manners?," she said, walking over to Leela. "You can call me Mistress Anyanka. You'll both be mine for the rest of your lives. The sooner that you get used to calling me Mistress, the better things will go for you, freak." She started running her hands all over Leela, who resisted the urge to struggle or throw up. The woman was treating her like a piece of meat, and Leela was feeling violated.

"You'll both serve me in one my houses. Vyr, being such a bad girl, having run away from her duty eight years ago, but still very young and pretty will serve the highest paying customers for a short time, and then she'll join you, freak. Being a cow, already flabby and unattractive," she said, slapping Leela hard on her belly with one hand and then on the backs of her thighs with the other, "you will serve the common men who come to us for pleasure. Some of them appreciate a meaty woman," she said with an evil laugh.

"He'll come for us," Vyr said through the tears. "Buir will come and kill you for this."

She walked behind Vyr and started spanking her, shouting as she did. "Your. Father. Is. Dead. That. Bastard. Killed. Him." Vyr took it all silently.

Good for her, Leela thought. "And he deserved it," she said instead. "He tried to trade her to pay a debt."

"You think that what it was about, freak," she said, coming over and grabbing some of the skin on her stomach. As she twisted it, she said, "He was delivering her to me because she failed her fate test and came up 'engineer' instead of 'dancer.' You know what a dancer is worth out here? Millions. You know what a female ryll engineer is worth out here? NOTHING!," she thundered. "Her destiny was to work as a prostitute out here, and that human ruined it, by showing her something that she didn't deserve." She was foaming at the mouth and it took all Leela could to not head butt her. It wouldn't help, she decided.

The woman leaned close and kissed Leela hard. The more she struggled against it, the harder the woman pressed, eventually biting Leela's lip and drawing blood. She pulled Leela's lip out with her teeth, and let go, some blood splashing on Leela's face.

Wiping the blood off, an evil smile on her face, the woman turned to leave. "You'll be put on display, to tantalize the crowd some, until your great love rides to the rescue. Then we'll break him by forcing him to watch the two of you…work a crowd," she said, laughing maniacally as she and Kama left the room.

"He'll come, Leela," Vyr said. "Buir will come. Aliit ori'shya tal'din. Family is more than blood. He's my father, and that thing isn't my mother. She may have given birth to me, but she IS NOT my mother."

"This woman is nuts," Leela said. "He better get here soon. If he doesn't, we may be in serious trouble."

****

Kama. What an idiot, calling himself ass. Probably thought the name sounded tough, but had no idea what it meant. Whoever he really was, he was right: he did know where to find him. Or at least, he knew where to find Vyr. The star sapphire that he had given her had a long-range transmitter hidden in the setting. He had a general direction and could narrow it down to a sector from Earth. The Tarpas Sector had a few dozen habitable planets. Once they were closer, he'd be able to pin it down to a few planetary systems. Then he'd get 13th and 24th century on someone's ass.

He was back in his armor and feeling a little better. Fred had gotten him some pain killers when they got back to the Planet Express building, and they were already kicking in. His vision was still occasionally hazy, but it would clear quickly enough. His head still pounded and his back and side were on fire, but there was nothing for it. There was work to do.

He walked into the hanger and staggered down the steps, nearly falling on the last one. Fred and Amy rushed to his side and started to fuss over him.

"This is a very bad idea, Fry," Fred said. "You should be in bed and not trying to kill yourself. We should leave this to the professionals."

"I am the professionals," he protested. "Besides, it's going to take us some time to get where we're going, and I can sleep on the ship. I should be fine by then."

"If it's going to take time," Amy asked, "why are you wearing your armor?"

"Getting used to the weight again and building my strength. Its liable to get messy where we're going, and I'm going to need this."

"Whatever," Fred said. "You should still be in bed."

"Is the Actiss loaded?," he asked.

"Yes. Thanks to me, Bender. So, why are we taking the Planet Express ship and not your new ship?"

"Cargo capacity, Bender. Besides, we all wouldn't fit in the Rover. Let's move people. Business is waiting," he said staggering away toward the ship.

****

Twelve hours later, Fry and Amy were standing outside the cargo bay. Bender was already in the Actiss, adjusting Vyr seat so that he could fit. Through the open door, Fry could hear him complain about how humans never considered robots when they built anything.

The Planet Express ship had been designed, primarily, for speed, and she hadn't disappointed. They were only twelve hours out from Earth, but Fry had been able trace the transmitter to a specific planetary system: the Tapan System. He had a strong suspicion about which planet they were on.

"You remember the plan? Head to Tapan VI and hide out until we get back. It will probably take a few days, so don't worry if we're not there. Fred's right. We need some more professional help, and I know just who to get."

"I'm afraid, Phil. Afraid for Vyr. Afraid for Leela. For you."

"Don't worry, Aim," he said, caressing her cheek. "Vyr's well trained, and Leela's a survivor. Knowing the two of them, they've probably escaped already. And besides, I've got Bender with me. What could possibly go wrong?"

"Phil. I…," she began.

"I know, Aim," he said, pulling her to him. "I know." They stood there for a few minutes. Finally, Fry kissed her forehead and let her go. "I'll be back in a few days," he said and kissed her again. He turned and entered the bay, pulling his helmet on and purposely not looking back.

Climbing into the Actiss, Fry powered it up and said to Bender, "Comfortable?"

"No," he replied. "How the hell am I supposed to refill my booze? This ship is dry."

"Sorry Bender," he replied. Man, he loved that new ship smell. "We don't have room for a cooler." Amy had pumped out the air and started opening the door. Man, he hoped that Bender had put the ship in straight, or this was going to be a real short trip.

Fry eased the ship out of the bay and away from the Planet Express ship. "Alright," he said over the radio. "We're clear. See you in a few days."

"Good luck," Amy replied, as they rocketed away. Fry and Bender took off as fast as he could in the opposite direction.

"Why are we doing this again," Bender asked, nursing his beer. Nursing. Him, a mighty robot reduced to nursing a beer to make it last longer. The indignity of it all. Stupid Fry and his stupid ship. The man didn't have the decency to put in a cooler so he could keep his beer cold. Lousy human.

"Fred was right. We need some help. I've got some friends who owe me a favor or two, and they'll do this for Vyr."

"Well, what's the plan when we get to Tapan?"

"Every robots dream: kill all humans."

"What," he said, turning his head around to look at the back of Fry's helmet. "Did my audio receivers malfunction, or did you say kill all humans?"

"Well, you can kill every one that gets in our way. How's that?"

"YEE-HAW! This is going to be fun on the bun!"

****

After flying for several hours, Fry placed a call.

"Hey, Sareena. It's Fry." Pause. "Yeah, listen, I need a favor. Vyr's in trouble and I need to get the band back together for a one-night only performance." Pause. "Great, great. Yes. Meet me at Gideon. And Sareena, bring your guitars." Pause. "Yes, that was a 20th Century reference and I know that you don't get it, so I'll translate: show up at Gideon and bring every gun you have. Is that better?" Pause. "Right, see you there."

"Jeez," he said, plotting course to Gideon, "you'd think she'd have seen that movie at some point. It's only been out for a thousand years."

****

Leela had been embarrassed before, humiliated, even. Both, dozens of times. Hell, half the time it was both. But this was beyond them. She felt violated.

Anyanka had strung the two of them up on a stage over and behind a bar, where everything in there could see, and could come up and inspect, them. The room itself was fairly plain: there was a large old-style wooden bar; a large floor with tables that, from her position, looked like they had seen better days; a stage at either side of the floor and cages in the corners of the room, where the other slave girls danced in various states of dress. Since they had been there most of the day, Leela had noticed that as the day grew on, the girls wore less and less, either having lost their clothes to over-amorous audience members, or through design to get more tips. Either way, the place was starting to make Leela sick.

Anyanka would point things out to Vyr, holding her head so that she was forced to watch how some of the more forward scum treated some of the girls. Many times, they wouldn't even wait for an open room, doing his business with the poor woman there in the middle of the floor, surrounded by a cheering crowd. Vyr had thrown up several times already, and Leela didn't know how much longer the girl would last. She kept repeating, over and over, like a mantra, "Buir is coming for me. I can endure. Buir is coming." He better get his ass here soon, Leela thought.

Sometime in the early evening, Kama came up to her. He began rubbing her all over. It was familiar to the way that Jeffery used to touch her. Or Fry. But it was much, much worse. It was almost possessive. Like she was his private property, and he wanted everyone to know it.

"I'll be first," he said laughing and slapping her on her backside. "When the pipsqueak gets here, he'll see me and you together. Or maybe," he said, a wicked tinge to the synthesized voice, "I'll take the girl first. What do you think will hurt him more?"

"When I get out of her," Leela said more calmly than she felt, "I'll kill you. It'll be much quicker than you deserve, but you'll still be dead."

"Big talk from a piece of meat," he said, slapping her backside and laughing again.

"We don't make threats," Vyr said. "We make promises."

"Shut it, slut," he said backhanding her. She spit purple blood onto the floor at his feet and smiled, blood dripping down her chin.

"I should kill you," he said, grasping her chin.

"Enough, Kama," Anyanka said coming up behind the women. "Their time will come soon enough."

****

They sat in orbit of Tapan VI. They'd been there for almost two days. She knew that Fry had said it may take time, but this was ridiculous. She hated waiting at the best of times, and this was torture. The scanner had said Vyr and Leela were on Tapan IV. And so was…

No, she refused to think about it now, since there was nothing that she could do about it. His daughter (Mine too, damn it! She called me Buira!) sat trapped somewhere on that planet, and the remains of her fonfonru were there, too. She wanted to rush to both of them, either of them, but she didn't dare. Even if they weren't waiting for Fry, she didn't think she could manage the courage needed to actually do the job.

"Kiffy…," she said, her voice cracking. When this is done, she thought, I'll go to him. I'll take whatever protection that I'll need and find the Nimbus. I'll beg his forgiveness for my cowardice and seek his blessings for Fry. They had been friendly, she knew, so she didn't think he'd mind too much.

"Incoming," a voice said, pulling her back to reality. Steve, she thought. He was doing her job, watching the scanners. "Two minutes to intercept."

"Powering shields and engines," she replied after wiping her eyes. "Just in case."

"Powering weapons," he said. "Just in case."

Thirty seconds later, the video phone rang and a familiar face appeared.

"I heard you missed us. We're back! Everything secure?"

"What kept you?," she asked, smiling.

" Fry," a large voice said. A helmetless, giant pig-man in olive green Mandado armor walked into the camera, crouching down to see through the link. "Is that you're girlfriend?," he asked. "I don't know much about women, but she looks much too pretty for you."

"Give the guy a break, will ya Gruumsh?," said a man's voice from behind them. He was a large and very handsome man in blue Mandado commando armor. "We know you know nothing about women. I think our boy's done well for himself, and you should be happy for him."

"My better half," Gruumsh shrugged. "Still, it's nice to meet you. He's told us a lot about you in the last two days."

"Wouldn't shut up, you mean," Bender added from somewhere off camera. "Can get to business, here? After two days of teasing, I'm starting to feel a little 'kill-all-humans' here. Uh, not you guys though," he added quickly.

"Why not," added an older sounding woman's voice from off camera. "What's the plan, Fry."

"WE KILL ALL HUMANS," Bender yelled, sliding into the frame, posing dramatically. When everyone just stared at him, he looked around and said, "What?"

****

It had been nearly three days, and they were still here being tortured. They were three days with little food or sleep. The only water they got was when one of the staff sprayed them with a hose to clean them. Vyr kept chanting to herself, over and over. Leela had thought the girl had snapped. She was near her breaking point, too. I'll never see my little girl again, she thought. She'll grow up a bitter orphan, just like I did. Well, at least she'll have my parents. I wonder if anyone even bothered to tell them about Jeffery. God, Fry, where are you?

The morning regulars were just coming in. It was a heavier crowd than the last two days. They were edgy, too. There had been several attacks on the dancers, but the crowd seemed to be angry than supportive. Something was building, and it would break soon.

Kama had just come up for the start of his daily ogling and verbal abuse. Anyanka would arrive sometime after her breakfast and start in on Vyr. It had gotten boring after a few hours on the first day. Leela ignored him as best as she could while he droned on and on about all the things he would do to her or to Vyr, or to both. This sick bastard, she thought as he rambled on and on about something involving a car battery and a bucket of water, really needs to be a foot or so shorter. Right at the shoulders would be a great place to start.

Leela raised her head, looking toward the roof. So did a number of the older spacers down on the floor, as well as Vyr. Something's coming, she thought. Suddenly, the building started to shake. Leela could hear the sounds of distant explosions and then a familiar roar filled the bar. She smiled and looked over at Vyr.

"You're dead, jerkwad," she said to Kama. "That was the Planet Express ship. Here it comes."

"Ke nu jurkad sha Mando'ade," Vyr said. With a smile, she added "Ib'tuur jatne tuur ash'ad kyr'amur." Don't mess with Mandado's. Today is a good day for someone else to die.

"What did I tell you about that gutter tongue?," he raged, backhanding Vyr. He grabbed her lekku and pulled hard. "I should kill you."

"Kama," Anyanka commanded. "Take them both downstairs. These fools will slow the heroes down enough to let us prepare a proper welcome." She walked over to him and kicked him in the leg near where Vyr had stabbed him. "And if you ever do that again, you imbecile, I'll kill you myself."

As they were led to the elevator that would take them to the basement, Vyr, her blood running out of her mouth, smiled, remembering something that she had seen in a movie that buir had made her sit through once. The man who had said it had been a killer and thug, but it still resonated with her:

"Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."

She smiled, knowing that vengeance was coming.

****

The six of them stood at the open floor of the cargo bay, watching the countryside fly by.

"We all know the plan, Fry," the man in the blue armor, Carter, said. He had a large broadsword in his left hand and his blaster rifle in his right. His husband, the giant Gruumsh, had a massive mace, holding it easily in one hand, and a modified shotgun style blaster in his other. Fry shook his head, wondering how those two giants found each other. There's someone for everyone, I guess, he thought.

They were joined by another married couple. Zidane was a sniper and expert marksman. He was dressed in all black armor and carried, among other ranged weapons, a special sniper rifle that could fire "invisible" blaster bolts. It was hideously expensive and could only take a 4 round clip, but it was incredibly effective. His wife was the team's leader. Sareena, with her red commando armor, was in her early 50's but still moved like she was half that. She was a popular commander with the regular commando's, since she wouldn't ask them to do anything that she wouldn't do, and she was usually one of the first to head into a breach. She also had been one of Fry's earliest teachers, supporters, and friends.

"C'mon, c'mon," Bender said, holding a DOOP positron rifle. "Let's go. I want to kill all humans."

"How come I'm not afraid?," Fry asked, watching the building rushing up fast. For all of his experience as a Journeyman Protector, this was his first true combat drop. He'd upheld the law and brought in criminals, but this was something he had no experience in.

"Fear accompanies the possibility of death," Gruumsh said. "Calm shepherds its certainty." With a look at Carter, he jumped out of the hatch and ignited his jet pack, heading for the target.

"Oh, your God," Bender said suddenly, a pile of bricks collecting below him. "What the hell am I doing here with you people? I'm going to get killed."

"Let's go, beskar'ad," Sareena said, pushing Bender out and following him with a laugh. Zidane silently followed his wife.

"She's fine, Fry," Carter said. "You've trained her well. She's a survivor. Is he going to be ok?"

"Who, Bender? Sure. A little 'kill all humans', a little bending, a little looting, and he'll be fine." Rolling his neck and hearing a few cracks, Fry said, "Let's play." He looked around and he was alone in the bay. "Aww," he said. What good was it to sound and look cool if no one was around to appreciate it? "What the hell," he said, leaping into the morning light.

****

Bender saw the guards on the roof fall, but didn't see any flash indicated blaster fire. He was glad that Fry's friends were on his side. These guys were dangerous, and not in the roguish, alcoholic robot way, either.

Sareena had grabbed him and slowed his fall so that he wouldn't crash through the roof. They all touched down and silently took up positions. They stared at each other for a few minutes, and Bender realized what was going on. They were talking over a secure com line, and they hadn't let him in. Typical humans, not caring about the robot. Of course, he didn't have a transmitter or receiver in his head, but that wasn't the point. Lousy humans.

Gruumsh set a charge on the door and everyone backed away. When it blew, he threw in a flash grenade and leapt in after it had detonated and blinded any unprotected goons that were present. Cater, sword in hand, waded in after him.

Fry grabbed Bender and said, "We're next, buddy. Remember, only kill the humans that are in our way. Let the rest go. They're probably either staff or slaves."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," he replied. "Look, I don't tell you how to kill humans, do I? So don't tell me how to enforce my 6th directive."

"Ready," Fry said as the order was given over the com.

"As I'll ever be," Bender said, charging his gun.

As they charged through, the battle was done. Gruumsh looked at Carter and Fry silently, and then pointed at Bender. Fry nodded as the two commando's headed further downstairs.

"Bender," Fry said. "We're going to clear out this floor. Remember, only the bad guys."

"Let's rock," Bender said. "Hey. Wait a minute, he said. Where are those other two?"

"Oh, they're around," he said, laughing.

Most of the floor was deserted. It was made up of small rooms that held not much more that small beds and they reeked of sweat and other bodily fluids. Fry started to get angry as the room's uses had become apparent. Someone wanted to do this to his little girl. Oh, yes, he thought. 13th and 24th century on someone's asses.

Back to back, Fry and Bender checked the last hallway. As they kicked the first two open, Bender said, "Don't move." There was nothing in his room but a cowering Neptunian.

Fry replied, "No, by all means, move." He had a pantless goon and a screaming, furry alien female of some kind. The man's hand went for his gun next to the bed. One shot, one kill, Fry thought as he pulled the trigger. "Sorry about the mess," he said to the girl as he walked out. The next two rooms were empty.

As they approached the last two, two armed men came out, using their women as human shields, and aiming pistols at Fry and Bender.

"Nowhere to go, boys," Fry said. "Put 'em down and you can still walk out of here."

"Yer yella," one of them said, taking a wild shot at Fry. "You won't try nuttin while we got these whores with us."

"He's right, Bender," Fry said, his guns not lowering. "Can't hurt the women."

"Ya see, Ler? I told ya-." He was cut off as the left side of his head blew off. His buddy, Ler had less than a second to register what happened before Bender put a shot between his eyes.

"How in the name of Billy Carter did you do that, Fry? I know how I did it, but your HUD shouldn't be that accurate."

Fry spun the pistols so that the grips were visible. "Smartlink," he said, showing a small chip in the grip. "They link up with the suit and the HUD. I can hit every target every time, no matter where. And I can hit the same spot again and again. Ain't technology great?" He looked at the girls, huddled together for safety on the floor in the middle of the hallway. "You two should get out of here," he said. "It's going to get a lot worse before it gets any better."

****

Fry and Bender reached the top of the stairs overlooking the bar area. Looking down, they saw Carter and Gruumsh, back to back, fighting the crowd. They were winning, but the crowd was getting closer, and Fry saw that they'd soon overrun his friends.

"Let's go, Bender. More human killing." Fry leapt over the banister and ignited his jet pack. He flew around his friends and unleashed a blast from the flame thrower on his right arm. The blast bought his friends a little more room, and they opened a space for him next to them. Fry pulled his guns and began firing into the crowd.

Seeing random shots flying everywhere, Bender said, "No way I'm going down there. A robot can get killed doing that." Then he heard glass breaking. The random shots were hitting the liquor bottles behind the bar. Yelling "SACRILAGE!," Bender leapt over the railing and flew to protect the most important thing to him: free booze.

The wall of goons kept coming. Fry killed one with almost every shot, but they just kept coming. Eyeing the numbers counting down on his HUD, he knew that his guns were just about empty. Suddenly, he heard two clicks. "Empty," he said over the com.

"Hold fast," someone whispered over the com.

The doors blew open, and a large portion of the back of the crowd went with them. Zidane and Sareena came in and opened fire on the crowd. The surprise was all Fry, Carter and Gruumsh needed. Reloading quickly, Fry opened up again, and Carter and Gruumsh waded into the crowd.

"Grenade," Sareena yelled, firing up the stairs at one of the women that Fry had saved earlier. The Neptunian fell head over heels, but tossed the grenade before she did. The shock wave took down many of the remaining goons, but it also knocked down Fry, Sareena, and Zidane.

His head ringing and his vision blurred, Fry got up on all fours. He heard something large walking nearby, and saw a blurry mass of olive green coming closer. When the table smashed across his back, he knew that it wasn't Gruumsh. An Omicronian picked him up by the throat. Saying "Puny human," he threw Fry across the room and through the bar, where Bender promptly shot him.

****

The elevator shook as they descended. It was getting hairy upstairs. Kama had the security camera feed going in his camera. He could see three of those Mandados and they were quickly wiping out the first wave of goons. Oh well, he thought. They were paid to die and delay, and that was what they were doing. The heroes were wasting ammo and energy on worthless goons, and they'd be spent by the time the real action started.

Without turning around, the girl said, "You're dead, arvetii. True Mandados are coming for you. Buir will kill you and Anyanka both."

"What did I tell you about talking, girl," he said, raising his right arm and slamming it down onto Leela's left shoulder. There was a loud crack and something that sounded like a watermelon hitting the ground hard. Leela fell screaming in a heap, her right arm cradling her left. "She's just as good broken as whole, girl. From what I've seen, she can still do this kind of work either way. This will be over soon, and you two can get on with the lives that you both deserve."

They rode on in silence, broken only by Leela's occasional sobs. I had a natural child birth without painkillers, she thought, I can take this. Still, Leela huddled, protecting her arm while Vyr protected her.

****

His right shoulder was on fire. The armor had protected him some, but even it wasn't strong enough to fully protect from a point-blank positron rifle shot. There already was a hole in his shoulder. At least the laser cauterized the wound so I won't bleed to death, he thought.

"Damn it, Bender. That hurt."

"I'm sorry Fry," he said. "I thought you were one of them."

"They don't come crashing through the bar." He wobbled as he got up, his vision still not 100% clear.

"Well, I can't be too careful with all this shooting and all this booze." There was a crash of broken glass overhead, and Bender quickly turned his head to drink down the brown liquor that was draining out of the bottom of a bottle over him.

The Omicronian walked confidently over to the bar. Seeing Fry's pistol, he sneered. "Those couldn't take the paint of my car, human. Oh please," he said in mock horror, "don't shoot me. I might be ticklish. Tell you what, human. I'll give you a free shot with that. Just remember that that armor won't protect you when I rip your arms and legs off. The last thing-." He gasped as Fry emptied the right one into him, peppering him with fist sized holes all over his chest. He was genuinely surprised to see green blood pouring out of himself right before he fell backwards.

Fry braced himself on the bar and tired to stay there. He didn't hear any action going on around him, so he risked a look up. All the goons were down, and he and his friends were still standing. They'd won round one. Smiling as he took off his helmet, Fry turned and threw up behind the bar.

"Eeeewww….," Bender said. "I was drinking that."

****

Fry was helmeted again and his shoulder field dressed to avoid any further damage. He hoped. They were all looting the bodies, looking for whatever weapons and ammo they could find. This fight had taken a lot out of them, and they knew that worse was to come. "Hey Bender," he yelled. "This guy's got a few gold teeth." Fry and the Mandados were looking for weapons. Bender was looking for swag.

Sareena knelt down next to him, putting a hand on his good shoulder to steady him. "How are you, Fry?"

"Right as rain, boss lady," he lied.

"Yeah, you looked perfect as you were throwing up all over the bar," Carter said. "Why are you doing this, man? You're going to get yourself, and maybe us, killed. You're no good to them dead, Fry."

"They need me," he said. "In the old days, Leela was always there for me when I needed her. Now, she needs me. I've got to be there for her. I'll be fine," he said, getting up. "A little adrenaline is a wonderful thing. C'mon, guys. We're almost done here."

Sighing, Gruumsh said, "If you die, vod'ika, you know who Vyr's going to blame, right? Me."

"It's always the man's fault, Gruumsh," Fry said, cracking his neck. That trip through the bar hadn't done his bad back any favors. "No offence, Carter."

"None taken, vod'ika," he said, patting him on his good shoulder. "He tells me that all the time," motioning to Gruumsh. "It's always my fault because I'm a man."

"Damn right it's always a man's fault," Sareena said. "Alright, my ad'ike, let's get moving."

The three of them said "Yes, buira," as they headed toward the elevator, where Zidane was beginning to place the charges to blow the door.

"Excuse me," Bender said, elbowing his way up to the elevator. "There hasn't been nearly enough bending on this trip." Digging his fingers into the seam, he pulled. "You see, opening doors, like many of the things that you humans do, is just a primitive, degenerate form of bending. See. The doors are open, and they're bent." Wiping his hands together, he turned and walked away, saying, "And then Bender kept looting."

"You're not coming?," Carter asked.

"Nope. I'll play rear guard. There's lots of stuff up here that I want, and I don't want any of them floozies from upstairs walking off with it. This is my crap. I looted it fair and square."

"Leave him, Carter," Sareena said. "The five of us will be enough."

Zidane jumped into the shaft with rest following. They ignited their packs and floated down into the darkness.

****

As Fry, Sareena, and Zidane stood on the roof of the elevator car, Gruumsh and Carter were up the shaft, setting charges on the wall. Zidane had completed his scans of the area outside. "There are approximately 35 separate heat signatures out there," he said. "There are two groups of two and two groups of about 15 each, one on this side of the room and one on the other."

"Great," Fry said, putting his hand to the brow of his helmet out of habit. His whole body ached. His back and side were like fire, and his skull and shoulder throbbed with every beat of his heart. Not far now, he thought. I can rest soon.

"Are you sure you want to do this, Fry," Sareena asked. "Even through the suit, you don't look well. Let us deal with it."

"No, buira," he said straightening some. I'll be fine. "I'll go first. They seem to want me. You two stay in the car for back up when I give the signal. Kill everyone when I call."

"Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!," Gruumsh said from above.

The three of them dropped down into the car, Sareena and Zidane taking up positions on either side of the door. "Enough, Gruumsh," she said. Patting Fry on the back of his good shoulder, she said, "We'll be here waiting, ad."

The doors opened into a room approximately 50 feet across and 40 feet wide. In the center of the room was a small force field cage. Through the translucent field, he saw a smear of blue over a smaller smear of purple. There was a dais at the far side of the room, with a blue female ryll sitting in a throne, Kama at her side. A balcony ran across the room over the throne, and soldiers ran out, each armed with a blaster rifle. He heard a noise above and behind him, but he didn't turn, thinking it was Zidane's second group of 15 or so heat signatures.

The woman sitting on the throne said, "Welcome to your nightmare, Fry. You've took something from me, I'm taking it back and taking revenge. Fitting, no?"

Ignoring her, he walked closer to the cage. Over the com, he said, "Begin countdown at 10." Stepping closer, he said, "Now." To the room, he said, "How's it going, ad?"

"She's nuts, buir. Leela's hurt and this di'kut's going to kill-," she was cut off by a blaster shot coming from behind him. She had been hit with a glancing blow to the right side of her chest and spun away from Leela. She cried in pain from the hit, and again as she was shocked when she hit the far wall.

"10, 9, 8, 7," Sareena counted out slowly. Fry looked around and picked his target.

"Enough of that, girl," Anyanka said. "My men will start shooting the prisoners if you don't surrender, Fry. Your two great loves, killed before your eyes. You may like that better than what I have in store for them," she said, laughing.

"6, 5, 4, 3," Sareena continued.

"Before they die, though, they'll both be mine," Kama said, laughing evilly. "I do love aliens and meaty women."

"2, 1, 0," Sareena said.

"EXTERMINATE!," Fry yelled, leaning down to fire a rocket from his jet pack. He had targeted the center of the balcony over the throne. It hit square in the center, blowing a hole in the railing and the wall behind it, killing some goons in the process. Sareena and Zidane ran from the elevator and began firing on the survivors. The wall behind and above him exploded open as Gruumsh and Carter blew it open and laid into the men up there.

"NO!," Anyanka shrieked, rising from the throne. "You're supposed to be dying! This isn't what's supposed to happen! Kill them! KILL THEM ALL!" She edged away from the throne toward a wall hanging behind her to her left.

A survivor on the far side tried to line up a shot into the cage, but Fry dropped him with a single shot to the face. Technology's great, he thought regretfully as he looked for a new target. A shot echoed behind him and was followed by two screams. A soldier had fired into the cage, hitting Leela in the leg, but he himself was thrown over the railing by Carter. He landed a few yards from Fry with a splat.

Kama ignited his jet boots and flew straight at Fry. He clipped the side of his head with a shoulder, knocking Fry down, and turned to make a second pass. Spinning to face him, Fry's vision wavered. Refusing to clear, he fired wildly in the direction of the gold streak. He heard the man grunting in pain as he passed overhead and crashed into the cage. Turning again, Fry shook his head. His vision cleared and he was surprised by what he saw. He had blown the man's right arm off at the elbow. Instead of a bloody stump, though, there was cybernetics sparking and smoking.

As Fry tried to steady himself for the next round with Kama, Carter said over the secure com, "The woman's gone, Fry. She left during the fire fight."

"Roger. Call Amy and let her know that she may have company soon. Tell her dead or alive."

"Roger."

Seeing the tide quickly turning against him, Kama reached into a pouch on his belt and pulled out a grenade. He looked at Fry and said, "What'll it be, hairball? Kill the bad guy or save the freaks?" He armed the grenade and tossed it over the top of the wall and into the cage. "Tick-tock, hero," he said laughing as he ignited his boots again.

****

She rode her private elevator to her private hanger, and fumed. That idiot Kama, she thought. This is his fault. All he had to do was bring me Fry and the girl. He let his little brain do all his thinking and brought the freak along. And because of that, all of my planning is ruined.

Her ship was always ready, whenever she wanted it. She'd contact one of her marauders when she was out in space and then she'd start again. No finesse next time, though. She'd show up in New New York and bomb his home from the air. No clean fight, no chance for his survival, just kill him.

As she flew into the late morning sun, she saw a shadow coming over the top of her ship. The proximity alarms started going off and her ship shuddered as the cannon fire started to track her. It was that stupid Martian and that stupid delivery ship. This was all she needed. She pushed her ship for all it was worth, desperately trying to reach space.

****

Amy pushed hard on the wheel, forcing the other ship back into the atmosphere. She had cut off her escape and Steve was quickly hitting her solidly. Her shields would be down soon and then she'd be dust.

Carter had said dead or alive, but Amy thought that this one deserved death. Carter had said that they thought she was the one behind Vyr's (and Leela's, but she wasn't that important at the moment) kidnapping. If they had flushed her out from the bar, then things were going better than they hoped. This woman may have been a good pilot and had a decent ship, but Amy was better, and so was her ship. Plus, this lady had poked a mother dragon, and was soon going to find out what a mistake that was.

"She's under us, Amy," Steve said over the com. "She's out of my field of fire."

"She wants to play that way, eh?," she said. "Steve, strap in and track her. Let me know when she's directly under us."

"What are you planning Amy?," he asked, suddenly sounding very worried.

"Just do it. Fred?" She said over the ship's com. "Strap in. We're going to be doing some unconventional maneuvers."

"Unconventional?," she asked. "Why do I get the feeling that Fry and Leela won't like this."

"Stuff Fry and Leela," she said. "I'll handle them. Just strap in! That's an order, doctor."

"She's under us, Amy," Steve said.

"One negative Z drop coming right up," she said, dropping the ship right on top of her.

****

"That idiot," Anyanka yelled. "She'll kill us both!"

Alarms were going off all over the ship. Hoping that her ships were close enough, she hit the emergency beacon. Nothing happened. She hit the button again and again, but still nothing happened. She screamed in frustration. That Martian idiot had taken them out with her little stunt.

Growling angrily, Anyanka broke away from the Planet Express ship, he windscreen cracking as she did. Realizing that she wouldn't get into space in this, she shot forward to land on the plains. Checking the charge on the blaster pistol that she kept in the ship, she took off her heels and came up with a new plan. If she couldn't escape in her own ship, she'd kill them and take theirs. Smiling grimly, she touched down near a long, wide trench and left what was left of her ship.

****

Not even considering going after the fake Mandado, Fry ignited his jet pack and leapt over the cage wall and threw the grenade as far as he could over the wall. He dragged Vyr over and lay down on top of her and Leela. Leela grunted in pain as he did, but it was either that or…

Zidane lined up a shot with his rifle. That chakaar in gold was right in his sights…

Kama was climbing over the railing to the balcony. Things were out of hand and he had to get out of her quickly. He had one leg over the rail and was balancing on one foot when he felt the blaster shot bit into his hip. The leg already sore from getting stabbed three days ago buckled and …

The grenade went off, sending a shock wave across the open room.

The blast took out the few remaining soldiers on the balconies. Kama, his hip shot and his handhold gone, fell the two stories to the floor. He landed with a sickening thud. He was still alive, though, and began wailing in pain, his legs bent at unnatural angles. The blast had also taken out the controls for the force cage, so Fry and the women were free, if deafened. He looked up carefully. Again, like upstairs, only his friends were stirring. They had won round two.

****

"She's down, Amy," Steve said.

She flew over the landing site and banked around so that Steve could get a clean shot at her. From this height, the terrain looked a lot different. You could see for miles. What she saw, though, shocked her. Someone had gouged a trench half a mile long and at least 500 yards wide. The trench ended at a single mountain that dwarfed the relatively flat countryside that it surrounded. It was almost as if something had crashed…

She gasped, really looking at what she saw. She had found the Nimbus. And Steve was lining up a shot into it.

"NO!," she yelled, jerking the ship away from the fleeing woman. Steve cursed over the com, wondering what was going on. Amy sat the ship down near the end of the trench and ran from the bridge, Vyr's rifle in her hand. She yelled, "I'll handle this myself. Cover me," as she ran for the ramp.

****

The woman in black fled into the trench, and the would-be gunslinger followed.

Amy raised the rifle and fired several shots. There weren't close, but the woman still jumped and ran for cover. Amy ran after, firing as best as she could. The woman turned and fired several shots at Amy and then jumped behind a small piece of hull plating.

Amy charged and began firing at the cover, but it held. She needed to end this quickly. The woman rose and fired again, clipping Amy's foot. As she spun from the shot, she came to rest behind her own small piece of hull. Shots thundered into the wall behind her, but it still held. She looked up, thanking the DOOP for building a ship that could resist small arms fire and stared. She was staring back at herself. Her wedding picture, faded and partially mold covered from two years in the weather, was stuck to the wall. As shots slammed into the other side, she wiped away more of the dirt. There were more pictures of her and some pictures of the two of them. She was stunned. Of all the things to survive the wreck of the Nimbus, she was hiding behind Kif's wall. He was watching over her still, saving her from beyond the grave. Tears in her eyes, she said, "Thank you, Kif."

The shots stopped, and Amy rose to return fire. She fired a few times and then stopped, but didn't get back behind cover. When the woman popped up to return fire, Amy shot. She hit the blaster, and it exploded in the woman's hand, taking her right hand and forearm with it. While the woman screamed in pain, Amy carefully came around her cover, watching for any movement.

As she approached the cover, she saw her target, her left hand holding the ruined stump of her right arm. There was something familiar about her.

"Well," the ryll woman hissed. "Kill me. You and that bastard have already taken everything from me, you might as well kill me."

"Who are you?," Amy asked.

"I'm her mother, idiot," she shouted. "You two stole my baby from me. You denied her her true calling. She was mine. She should still be mine. You showed her things she didn't deserve. She's a failure, and you're rewarding her."

"You're Vyr's mother," Amy said.

"God, you're dense. What do you think I just said, idiot? God, Kama should have taken you instead of the cyclops. You're not smart enough to be anything but a whore," she said, flicking her left arm out. A knife suddenly appeared in her hand from up her sleeve. She took a wild swing at Amy, who dodged it easily. Amy raised the rifle and fired, hitting the woman in the face, finally dropping her.

Something sparkled on the woman. Looking down, she saw Vyr's necklace. Removing it from the dead woman, Amy walked back to Kif's wall, sat down and cried.

****

Fry staggered toward where Kama lay. Leela had somehow gotten to her feet and was at his side. Kama's one good arm and his cybernetic one weren't moving, and he was moaning in pain. Fry reached down and pulled off the helmet. The face was heavily scarred, but the familiar sneer remained. His body couldn't move, but the hate was easily visible in his eyes.

Zapp Brannigan had survived the wreck of the Nimbus.

"What," Leela said, her voice strained from the pain in her ruined shoulder. "No more declarations of your love, Zapp?"

"Whose grave did you rob to get that armor, Brannigan?," he yelled angrily. "You didn't earn that armor! You never earned anything in your miserable life! You're no one. You're a joke, Brannigan! You're-." He was cut off by a single pistol shot. He looked over at Leela, one of his guns smoking in her hand. He looked down, and half of Brannigan's head was missing.

"I told you I'd kill you, you sick bastard," she said with almost no emotion in her voice.

"Leela," he said, reaching out to her.

"Fry," she said pushing him away with her good arm. "Please, don't touch me. Not right now. Not like this. Please," she was looking at him, pleading. He nodded, taking his gun back and walking over to Vyr.

"How's it, ad?," he said, kneeling down next to her. Sareena had covered her with a coat that she found on one of the goons and was dressing the injury in her shoulder.

"I'm cold and in a lot of pain, buir. I hope that Amy isn't mad about that dress. I really loved that dress."

"I think she'll be ok with it, blueberry," he said, smiling. "C'mon," he said, standing up. "Let's get out of here."

****

When she had finished crying, she sat in silence for a long time in front of his wall. She wasn't sure where the rest of him was, but she was willing to bet that it was buried somewhere in the heart of that mountain. Finally, she spoke.

"Hello, Kiffy. I'm sorry that's it's taken me so long to come. I didn't think I could face it. They told me you were dead, but I must have thought that if I never came and saw it myself, that it never happened. That one day, you'd come back to me.

"I've been to Amphibos. There was a nice ceremony for you. The babies are growing. Well, the ones that I could find were. They responded to me, Kif. They knew me. Our babies recognized their mommy. Your parents were nice to me, but I don't know if they ever accepted me. I didn't feel very welcome.

"I have a confession, Kif. I've been so afraid for the last two years. I didn't leave the house except for when I absolutely had to. I never see any of my old friends anymore, and I can't tell you the last time I was on Mars. Mom and dad are constantly bugging me about getting remarried and popping out some grandchildren. I thought that I shouldn't be happy. Why should I be happy when you're dead? I stopped living when I heard you died. Why should I?

"Then something happened. Fry came back and brought his daughter. You remember Fry, don't you? I never pictured him as being at all responsible for anything, even himself. But he's changed, Kif. He raised, by himself, an alien girl from a species that he'd never heard of because it was the right thing to do. He's matured, and I see what Leela saw in him all those years ago, and what I never saw, either. I love him, Kif. I want to live and love again. And I want to spend my life with him.

"He's not better than you. He's different, but just as good. I just want you to understand that I will always love you, my fonfonru. That will never change. But I want to live and love again. I hope you can understand."

The sun shone brightly down on her, filling her with the first real peace she'd had in two years. She knew he understood and approved.

****

They had regrouped at the crash site. The Mandados made sure that everything was secure, and then said their goodbyes, telling Vyr how much they were looking forward to seeing her again in the spring when she came for her tests. It was what she needed, as they improved her mood greatly. They were part of her true family, not that thing.

"Are you sure you won't reconsider, Philip," Sareena asked. "You were wonderful in there, despite the death wish. You could be promoted easily enough with my report from today." She was trying to talk him into becoming a Mandado commando after his time as a Journeyman Protector ended, but failing.

"No, Sareena. I'm done. My tour ends in the spring, and I'm retiring. I have a family business to run. Besides," he added softly, "I think I've lost my taste for it."

"It's better this way, then," she said smiling sadly. "You always were a gentle soul, Philip. Ke barjurir gar'ade, jagyc'ade kot'la a dalyc'ade kotla'shya." Train your sons to be strong but your daughters to be stronger. "You did well with her. You should be proud."

"I am, buira," he said smiling. "I am. "

"I'll miss you, ad," she said, hugging him tightly. "If you need anything, just call. The boys and I will come running."

"Ke'sush," he said, stepping back to salute his superior.

She returned it and smiled, saying, "Ni kar'tayli gar darasuum, ad." I love you, my son. "Get out of here, Fry. Take care of your family here. I'll watch them out there."

He smiled as he watched them depart, wondering when and if he would ever see them again.

****

Vyr sat on the wing of the Actiss. She had found some of Amy's clothes that had fit her well enough and she threw that other... stuff away. She had showered twice and still felt unclean. She didn't know how beings do that to each other and call it pleasure. She would have nightmares from the past three days, she knew.

She looked around, but hadn't seen Amy come back. She wanted to see buira, but she didn't know where she was. She knew that she and her father loved each other; he had told her that he loved her, but Amy was still hesitant. She still called her mother, though. She was confident it would happen. She realized that she knew almost nothing about her, but none of that mattered. Amy was buira, and nothing else was important. That other thing was nothing.

She wandered around the trench, finally hearing some singing. She walked closer, and heard Amy singing in what she assumed was Mandarin, holding something sparkly in her hands. Vyr didn't want to disturb her, but she desperately wanted her to hold her. She stood uncertain for a few seconds, listening to her sing. When she thought she had the melody, she joined in singing wordlessly. Amy looked up and her face lit up. Motioning Vyr over, she kept singing. She placed the star sapphire around her neck, where it belonged. Vyr's eyes exploded in tears as she fell into Amy's arms.

Amy sat there, holding Vyr while she cried until the afternoon gave way to night.

****

Fry sat at her bedside, holding her hand like he had years before. She was still recovering from the surgery that Fred had conducted to fix her shoulder. Her collarbone and the joint had been shattered, but Fred was confident that she would make a full recovery. She groaned and stirred as she rolled left onto her bad arm.

"Rest easy, Leela," he said with a smile. "You've had a busy day."

She opened her eye and saw that she was in her own bed on the ship. She closed it again and was quiet for a long time. So long that he thought she had gone back to sleep. "It was all real, wasn't it," she said.

"Yes," Fry said, "I'm afraid so. I am so sorry that all this happened to you, Leela."

She was quiet again. It was several minutes before she spoke again. "Philip," she said at last.

"Yes, Lee," he said, stroking her hand. It was the nickname he had given her years ago. Not very imaginative, but he still liked it. She did too, if she had told Jeffery about it.

"I love you. I have never stopped loving you. I will never stop loving you. That's why Renee and I will be leaving New New York as soon as I recover. It's not fair to you and Amy. I'd just be in the way, and seeing you everyday would just get my hopes up that you'd love me again."

They sat in silence for a few minutes longer, when he said, "You don't love me anymore, Leela. You love a memory of me. You love what I was. We're not those people anymore, Leela. And you're not going anywhere."

"But the old feelings are there, Fry. The butterflies in my stomach, my heart racing, the whole thing. I love you. And what do you mean, I'm not leaving. You can run away but I can't?"

"No, you can't. When I left, I had nothing. You have Renee. And what about your parents? You spend your whole life searching for them, and you run after a few years? How is that fair to them or to Renee."

"But," she said.

"Torunga Leela, would you shut up? Jeez, all you do is talk. Why don't you try listening for once, huh? I never told you why I came back, did I? Vyr was always bugging me to bring her here. I told her enough so that she knew you guys were my friends, but that was all. She wanted to know more. Finally, in May I said we'd come out on my next leave. You know what the truth is, though? What put me over the top? I missed you. You, Leela. Not Amy, not Bender, not even the Professor. You. I wanted to know that you were ok.

"What's happened between me and Amy these last two months was nothing like I envisioned. You were married, Leela. Happy. I wanted to be happy, too. I think I've earned it. And now I am happy, Leela. Amy loves me, even if she won't admit it. You want to know something, Leela?"

"Not really," she said, rolling right, tears in her eye.

"I love you. I've always loved you. And I will always love you. But I'm not in love with you, Leela. No fourth chances. You always said we were better as friends. You always were smarter than I was," he said, smiling sadly.

"You love me," she whispered, rolling back over.

"Always," he said, holding her hand to his cheek, tears in his eyes.

"Well," she said with a sad sigh, "that will have to be enough. I can't leave you to run this company into the ground. You still need a pilot?"

"Know any good ones," he asked, smiling.

"Yeah, but she's going to be going on a long vacation when we get back to Earth."

"I think that can be arranged," he said, laughing. "I have an in with the owner."

****

Everyone else was sleeping when she came back to their makeshift camp. He was sitting there, stirring a fire that he had made while he was waiting for her to come back. She stood there, staring at him, a broad smile on her face. She walked over, kissing him. She sat between his legs and put her head on his thing. "How you feeling, old man?"

"Old man? Humph," he said in mock indignation. "When 1,000 years old you reach, look as good you will not." They both laughed and he said, "I look good for my age, but I feel like crap. Did you find what you were looking for?"

She rose up to her knees and turned to face him, arms around his neck, "I love you, Philip J. Fry. I love you. I love you. I love you."

"I love you too, Amy Wong," he said, pulling her close with his right arm.

The kissed and held each other for a long time before they fell asleep in front of the fire.

Buddies