"Good news, everybody," said the Professor. "All of you have worked so hard lately that I've decided to let you all go shopping."
Everyone just sat there glued to the television. Leela's eyeball slowly swung around to meet his gaze. "So?"
"Shopping...but not just anywhere. You are all going to the MallStar!"
"The MallStar?" asked Amy with a smile. "The single biggest shopping mall in the known universe?"
"That very one...now I've got some enthusiasm from you guys. Now you're on the trolley. So get out there and enjoy a little shopping!"
Leela grabbed Fry by the arm, and went out to the hangar with Amy and Bender.
As the Planet Express ship came closer to the MallStar, Amy gasped in wonder. "Look at the size of that moon," she said.
"That's no moon," Leela responded, "that's a shopping mall." She turned the autopilot back on, and left her seat to brief the crew.
Leela pulled out one of Bender's long eyeballs; when she did this, a red globe-like holographic image floated in the middle of the cabin. She then produced a pointer and began her lecture. "We were able to get these plans to the MallStar thanks to this brave little droid."
"Hey," Bender retorted. "Who you callin' a brave little droid?"
An image of the Professor appeared in the hologram. "The MallStar is made of incredibly dense dwarf star alloy," he said, "and is 500 kilometers in diameter at its equator. It also has back-blast engines."
"Dwarf star alloy?" blurted out Amy. "What are they driving at?"
"Hush, you." Farnsworth continued."The MallStar is designed for a massive onslaught of shoppers; they won't be expecting small groups of consumers. The station seems to be impregnable, but we think we've found a weakness we can exploit. There is a small hyperspace garbage shoot running the length of the station. All we have to do is to follow this chute..."
"Oh," interrupted Fry, "I get it - then we launch two proton torpedoes and the whole thing blows up!"
"No...why would we do that?" asked Leela. "We're just doing a little shopping. We're just pointing out a quick and easy access to some free parking on the station. This is really important, especially around the X-mas holidays. Anyway, this chute leads us straight to the maintenance parking area. I have good intel that informs me that they don't even check parking stickers there. Now - synchronize your watches."
Soon the Planet Express ship hovered into the maintenance parking garage; Leela used the newly-installed monitor in the instrument panel to back the ship into its parking space. It was dark and eerie, but they didn't have to fight the large crowds. As soon as they walked down the gangway, Amy saw something move out of the corner of her eye. She let out a squeal.
"What's wrong?" asked Leela.
"Ick...I just saw a womp rat."
"Amy, it won't hurt you; it's probably more afraid of you than you are of it. Anyway, my wrist-thingee tells me that we're right below customer service." Leela turned and set the ship's alarm with her keychain, making a double 'chirp' sound. A loud beeping sound came from her wrist-thingee. "Okay guys, I'm already getting a sale alert; follow me."
Soon the four found a long escalator that brought them up to the customer service area. They started seeing the first of many signs with the image of Mom on them; these signs instructed people to validate their parking. As they continued to walk through the department, the signs began to get more ominous; these posters warned of the consequences of shoplifting.
"Does Mom own everything out here?" asked Fry.
"Just about everything in this quadrant of space," answered Leela.
"What she doesn't," Amy added, "Daddy does. The two of them actually got into a bidding war for this place...Mom won. Boy, was Pops sore..."
"This is quite an impressive place," Bender said.
"Impressive? We've barely left the parking lot," Leela said. "We'll each need to get a map, or we could get completely lost." Each of them picked up a clear, circular device about the size of a dinner plate out of a rack on the wall. As soon as they picked it up, the map came to life with bright graphics and lights - an arrow in the center told them where they were. "Look," Leela noted, "we're right below Nuclear Ned's Intergalactic Market. We can start there, and then go our own way. There is a tube train station nearby when we're ready to go."
The elevator door slid open, and the four shoppers gazed at the magnificence that was Nuclear Ned's. "Holy cow," Fry said, "I can't believe I'm in the biggest grocery store in the universe."
"They say that there is a bigger one in near the Horsehead Nebula, but that's just a rumor. Besides, at 1,500 light years away, it's not a very practical place to get to."
"There's food for everyone in the galaxy here," said Amy. As they explored deeper into the store, they began to pass by food vendors giving away samples. "What on earth could that be?" asked Amy.
An Amazonian stood in front of a serving table with a gigantic red vegetable. "It Amazonian chili pepper," the gigantic woman told them, "you want to try?" Amy couldn't help but laugh; it looked like an ordinary cayenne pepper, but was easily the length of a human arm.
"Look at her," Amy chuckled, "she's even wearing a fireproof suit. You've got to be kidding me."
"Pepper very dangerous," the woman continued as she held up a paper, "you need sign waiver first before eating."
"Stand back you pork bellies," Bender announced, "I'll take on that bad boy and show you who's boss here."
The Amazonian took a pair of tweezers and tore off a tiny piece of the pepper's skin. "You need start off slow, tiny metal one."
"Stand back, wiss-ants, let Bender show you how it's done." The woman looked on in horror as Bender picked up the pepper and took a huge bite out of it. Everyone backed away as steam began to rise out of the top of Bender's head. "Mayday...mayday!!" he shouted. Bender ran around in circles as his head began to glow a fiery orange. He finally belched a long burst of flame, and the Amazonian blasted him with a fire extinguisher. He toppled over and hit the ground.
The Amazonian stooped over him. "You okay, nutty little metal man?"
Bender just sat there with a smile on his face. "Ma'am," he croaked, "do you package these things to go?"
Leela shook her head. "Come on, Nutbrain."
"I gotta get me one o' dem!" Bender announced. As they walked through the food aisles, a security probe droid floated by them. As soon as it passed by, Bender chuckled as he shoved an Amazonian chili pepper into his storage compartment.
"Tewksbury," Mom barked as she lit up another cigarette, "what the hell just happened to my security droids? I was watching my console and then 'poof!' Nothing."
The balding little man looked up from the android that he was servicing. "It's like I told you before, madam, just a little glitch. They'll be right as rain in just a few minutes."
"Glitch? Eight cashmere sweaters were just stolen from the Bargain Planetoid. They were specially made for the insect people of Kershon 24...they each cost 2,000 funbucks a piece. You call that a glitch? I need to have this mall fully operational by the re-opening. We can't have our security droids down like this! And I won't be stolen blind by shoplifters."
"I assure you, madam, that this mall will be fully functional by the Grand Opening."
"It had better!" Angry, Mom stomped out of the security control room. As soon as she was gone, Tewksbury inserted a data chip into the android he was working on.
The underground tube train pulled up to its first stop, and the doors opened. Amy stepped out into the small station. "I'll catch up with you guys later," she told them. Leela waved, the doors shut, and the tube train went on its way.
After stepping off the escalator, Amy stood gazing at the biggest shoe store in the galaxy. Not only was Shoe Universe stocked with every style imaginable, but they were designed for every life form in the cosmos. From the tiny shoes made for the insect people of Kershon 24 to leather dress boots for Amazonian women, the store literally had everything.
Amy was startled when something flew past her head. She turned to see a Kershonian flitting around in the air. "I'm sorry to scare you like that, miss," the alien told her, "but they put all of our sale items way up here on the upper shelves...we have to fly up to get them."
"Look at you," Amy told the alien with a smile, "you're a cutie. Can I help you with something?"
"Yes...how about those oxfords there...size 0.3, if you please..." Amy pulled out a tiny box from the shelf that was barely the size of a matchbox and handed it to the alien. "Thank you," he told her, and he flew off.
The doors to the tube train slid open again, and Fry emerged with his map. After a brief elevator ride he found himself standing in front of the largest gaming store and entertainment complex in the universe, the Game Matrix. At a loss for words, all he could manage to say was "Snap!"
As he walked in through the store, he found himself surrounded by the most mind-boggling array of game supplies he'd ever imagined. He looked in wonder at the selection of books they had. "Hey! They've got the 1500th edition Dungeons and Dragons books in."
"You think that's cool," said a young sales clerk, "check this out." He pulled out an object from his display case that was orange and roughly resembled a bowling ball with a bumpy texture. "The new 10,000-sided dice are here...now you can play D10,000 with just one roll!"
Fry scratched his head. "Uh...er...how do you read it?"
"Simple...it's the number on the top." He rolled it a few feet across the counter, and it made a clunking sound on the glass surface. "There - 2,846."
"Uh, how is it supposed to fit in your dice bag?"
He pulled out a large felt bag the size of a potato sack with a skull on it. "For 50 Nixon Funbucks, I'll even throw in a bag."
"I'll catch you on the way out," Fry told him. Fry then spotted something that caught his interest. "Virtual gaming rooms...now that's more like it!" He then pulled out his lucky 20-sided dice, and tossed it in his hand. "It's time to game!"
Bender wandered aimlessly though the long corridor, completely distracted by what he saw. Everywhere he looked in this sector, he saw nothing but robot pornography. Bright neon lights and dancing female androids competed for his attention. He finally walked up to a viewing machine; he inserted a stolen credit card and looked into the device. What he saw was a collection of moving metal parts and grinding gears splashed with oil. In the background, loud music thumped way. He looked up. "Oh my gosh," he asked himself, "have I gone too far this time? Naw!" He went back to enjoying his peep show.
Leela walked into Zarrod's Department Store hoping to pass by the droids that were busy spraying perfume on people. "Hello ma'am," the bot said as it held up the spray bottle, "this is Obsession-Compulsion. Have you tried any yet?"
"No, and I'm not really...ouch!" Leela turned in anger to the bot. "You stupid heap of metal, you got that right in my eye!" She then went over to complain to a nearby salesgirl. "That stupid piece-of-junk robot just sprayed perfume in my eye." The salesgirl didn't seem to react, and Leela quickly figured out that she was an android as well; she waved her hand in front of her face. "Crap...doesn't anything work around here?"
Philip Fry stood alone in a castle keep against what seemed like an army of orcs. Separated from his party, he knew he was on his own. The blade of his sword gleamed in the glow of the burning torches around him. He brought his sword up and readied it for battle, telling his foes, "Bring it!" He chopped and slashed with all of his might, and when it was over, the bodies of the orcs were piled up all around him. He then helped himself to several golden items scattered about the bodies. "Now that's what I'm talkin' about," he said with confidence. He decided it was time to take a break, so he slipped his visor off. In front of him in the empty room stood a small robot with what looked like a large laser cannon on it.
"Holy crap," Fry commented, "is that a weapon? It sure looks like..."
Fry was suddenly hit by a beam of light from the cannon. His body disappeared, and his game visor, gloves and lucky dice fell to the ground. The robot then rolled back out of the room.
"Mom," Walt said, "you wanted to let you know if anything strange started happening...it has, Mother."
Mom's mean expression frowned into the communicator screen. "What's going on?"
"Marcie is beginning to send out droids and robots in some unusual patterns. Also, the security droids are making more random arrests for shoplifting."
Mom turned to Tewksbury. "Marcie? Who the hell is Marcie?"
"Oh, that's the central computer. She's an MRC-335 unit...we just call her Marcie."
"How cute. You'd better get Marcie fixed," Mom demanded, or I'll stick a size 8 boot in her virtual ass."
Leela had finally found her place of relaxation. She reclined in the spa at Zarrod's with a goopy cream on her face and a cucumber slice on her eyelid. Her relaxation was short lived as her wrist-thingee began to beep with a message. "Oh, crud...who would be texting me now?" She fumbled for the thingee on the table, and pulled the cucumber slice off of her eye. "Huh?"
The message was from Fry, and it seemed to be a frantic one. "Leela," it said, "I need help. Got zapped by robot w/ laser. Was @ Game Matrix...don't know where I am now."
She began to tap on her thingee. "Fry, how could U not know where U are? Use map...use brain. Find info center."
Fry looked around. Nothing even faintly resembled the entrance to the Game Matrix. He stood in some sort of a hallway with dark grey walls. He would have been in complete darkness, except for the occasional light on the walls and floor. "Hello? Is anyone here?" No one answered.
He scratched his shoulder, and noticed that his clothing felt different. He looked down to see that he had some sort of one-piece flight suit on. "They took my clothes? Thank goodness they had this message terminal here, or I'd really be in a jam. My map's even gone."
Fry then spotted something ahead of him. "Great...it's a map." He looked at the complicated jimble-jamble of lines on the electronic screen, and scratched his head. Hey...wait just a darn minute...this isn't a map, it's an electrical schematic. Just like electricity class in high school. Good thing I got a 'B' in Mr. Greenblatt's class. Still, I wish it were a map."
Fry then noticed someone coming down the hall toward him. His eyes grew large as he saw that it was a little blonde girl. What was even stranger was that she was dressed in a Victorian outfit. "Mr. Fry," she told him in a thick London accent, "you need to come to the CPU. Follow me please. Walk this way." She then turned back to face him. "You are going to kill the monsters, aren't you?"
What a weird question. "Well, if this is a game like I was playing, then yes."
"Oh, it's no game...you'll see. Your friend Leela will be joining you presently."
The girl turned the corner. As Fry followed, he then noticed that she was gone.
"CPU?" asked Fry. "That would mean that...I'm inside the computer..."
"Hello?" Amy answered her tiny cell phone. "No, Leela...I haven't heard from Fry. You say that he called you needing help? How could he get into trouble in a shopping mall?"
Amy turned to see a large security droid standing behind her; she turned to face him. "Don't you see I'm in the middle of a fracking phone call? What do you want?"
"Ma'am," it said in a husky mechanical voice as it grabbed her arm, "you will have to come with me."
"He was here," Leela told the clerk, "he called me from here."
"Did he have on a red jacket?"
"He was playing a simulation down in the Castle of Doom game room. Funny, I didn't notice him leave. I'll show you where the room is."
"Thank you," she told him, "that would be very helpful."
As Leela walked into the empty game room, all she found was the game visor and the pair of game gloves. She also saw Fry's lucky dice laying on the floor, and picked it up. "What happened to you, nutbag?" she asked herself. She looked around, but couldn't find any other exit from the room. Leela turned to see a robot enter the room with the big light cannon on top of it. Before she could react, she was hit by the same beam of light that got Fry. The lucky dice again dropped to the floor.
"Let me out of here!" Amy shouted. "I haven't done anything!"
"They don't really care," said a voice behind her. She looked around. "Up here...in the air vent."
"Hey...it's my little buddy from the shoe store."
"I saw you getting the bum's rush, and figured I'd try to help out." He began to hover in front of her. "Most people look at me and just see a large insect; I'm actually a commando in my world's military. Something fishy is going on around here, and I think that your friends might be in trouble as well. Oh, how rude of me...my name is Shogugg."
"You know about my friends?"
"Oh, we have lots of eyes and ears around this place."
He extended a tiny hand, and Amy gently shook it with her fingers. "I'm Amy Wong. Well, Shogugg, a friend in need is a friend indeed."
He flew up to the airshaft again. "I can tinker with the electronics up in here; I'll have that door open in no time."
"Fry," Leela shouted, "it's good to see you." She looked at how he was dressed. "Did they give you this power suit in the game store?"
"No...I had it on when I ended up here. Look at you...your even your hair is different."
Leela was not only wearing the same sort of power suit, but her famous ponytail was gone. She turned to see the little girl coming toward them. "Who is this?"
"Oh," Fry commented, "it's that creepy kid again."
The Victorian girl walked up to Leela. "Turanga Leela," she said, "so good to see you."
"How do you know my name?"
"You were chosen," the girl told her. "You were chosen because of your tenacity and fiery temper...and your technical knowledge of ships' computers. Fry was chosen because of his familiarity with game simulations. Together you two should make a formidable pair."
"How could you possibly know that?" Leela asked.
"You forget that we have your purchase information, your credit history, and we know every move you've made in the mall. In essence, we know your life story."
"Listen, little girl, if you could just show us the way back to the game store..."
"Leela...it should be apparent to you that you are no longer in the shopping mall; you have been digitalized and your avatar is deep inside the computer system."
Leela felt a rush of anger go through her. She reached out to grab the little girl by her shoulder, but her hand went through her like she was a television image. "You need to let us go - you can't hold us as prisoners!"
The girl turned around and looked up at Leela. "Miss Marcie says 'no.' And I would suggest that you had best save that famous temper for the monsters. Now - contact your friend Amy so that she can transport you to the CPU...you don't have much time."
"If we're an electronic avatar, as you put it, why can't you just send us there?"
"The enemies will be expecting that...you've got a better chance if you are taken past the security walls by your other friends." The girl suddenly vanished from view.
"Leels...what are we up against?"
"I don't know for sure, but I'll bet that I know what those 'monsters' are going to be." She started tapping at a nearby message panel. "We also need to keep our eyes open for ice programs."
"What's an ice program?"
"Anti-virus...the computer may think we're a virus and try to defend itself against us. C'mon, Amy...answer your thingee..."
"What is it?" asked Shogugg.
Amy's message was too difficult to explain logically, so she projected it against a wall for Shogugg to read. "What do you think it means?" She asked him.
"I don't know, but you'd better do what she says. You can connect to the terminal here with a wireless connection."
"Yeah, but I never thought I'd be sneaking my friends through one," Amy chuckled. She complied with the request, and linked her wrist-thingee with the computer on the wall.
"Leela...a door is opening up over here." The two of them entered the doorway, and walked down a short passageway. They entered a cold mechanical-looking room with lots of lights and huge wires. In the corner stood a cylindrical object the size of an oil barrel with writing on it. "Leela, is that what I think it is?"
"Yes, it's a capacitor. Don't touch it - they store electrical energy. That could mean death to us in this state."
"You mean it's like in the movies...if we die here in these avatar bodies, we really die?"
She turned to him. "Fry, I don't want to find out...but our avatars would be barbecued by that thing."
The two turned as the opening closed up and disappeared. The Victorian girl was standing behind them. She cleared her throat.
"Oh crap," Leela told her. "You just scared the hell out of me. Now...where are our bodies?"
The girl sighed, as if frustrated at the question. "Your bodies are being kept in stasis. When you've defeated the monsters, you will be restored to your normal selves."
"And what if we don't comply?"
This registered a stern look from the child. "Miss Leela, if you do not comply, and if the monsters take over, you lose. If we win, you win. If we are defeated, you will never leave here. Your only chance at restoration is to gallantly defend the mainframe." She stepped in closer. "We machines aren't used to having a choice; press a button, and we do what we are designed to do. How does it feel being a machine?" With that, the girl disappeared again.
"Little brat," Leela swore under her breath.
"Fry...Leela...can you hear me?" Amy's image was on a large tv screen on the wall. "Hey...I can see you on my screen."
"I can hear you loud and clear, Amy. I'll tell you where you need to go."
Amy looked at her insectoid friend. "Well," she said, "let's get going."
Mom stopped in the hallway as she walked up to the control room. She watched a panic-stricken woman run by being chased by a cleaning robot - the robot was spraying cleaning fluid at her and trying to wipe her dry with a cloth towel.
"Now," Mom told Tewksbury, "dumb it down for me. Tell me what the hell is going on in my mall."
"Well, ma'am, it seems that we are under attack from a series of viruses...this would account for the erratic robot behavior."
She lit up a cigarette. "I think I got that much. Could you make it less dumb for me? Maybe aim for the sixth grade level. Maybe up to middle school."
"Well, I've been trying to combat the viruses, but our current anti-virus doesn't seem to be working. If the viruses take over the CPU in the mainframe, the damage might be beyond our control."
She blew a pall of smoke on him. "If that happens, my fat little friend, you'll be flipping burgers in my food court. Make something good happen for me."
Another beeping sound popped up on the panel; another part of the mall fell under attack from a virus. Mom began cursing under her breath.
"You need to take up some weapons," said the Victorian girl from behind them.
"Nuts," Leela said, "that's the second time you've scared me. Stop it!"
The girl waved her hand, and a box of weapons appeared. Curious, Fry went over a picked up an electronic sword. "Wow...a real vibro-blade."
"Well, it seems that you're not entirely a fool," said the girl. "Leela, take some weapons."
"What do we have here...M124 thermite charges, neuron bombs, a sonic blaster...and a slicer-rang." She made eye contact with the girl. "Not entirely a fool, then."
"It would seem that Marcie has chosen well. Now then...use your initiative - let's get going."
Bender continued to walk around in a daze. Everywhere he looked he saw nothing but armies of the hottest, sexiest robots he'd ever seen. It was almost too much to process. He wandered over to another peepshow viewer on the side of a building. Dropping in a quarter, he pressed his eyes up to get a look. What he saw was the Victorian girl. He stepped back and looked around. "What the hell?" He went back to take another look.
"You've been very naughty," the girl scolded as she wagged her finger at him.
"What is this...a joke?"
"You've allowed yourself to be distracted by all these nasty robots while your three friends are in grave danger. They need your help."
"What do you know about my so-called friends?" Bender stepped back again, and lit a cigar. "I can't believe I'm arguing with a G-rated peep show." He leaned in for another look.
"Your friends Leela and Fry are preparing to fight the battle of their lives, while Amy is trying to help them. Marcie, my mistress has a message for you."
"Marcie? Who the hell is..." Bender was suddenly hit by a bolt of arcing current from the peepshow viewer. He was knocked backward to the ground. "Hey! What'dya do that for?"
He took one more look. "You know what you must do," the girl told him. "You know the way. Don't get distracted...now go." With that, she disappeared. Bender began walking down the alleyway away from the other robots.
"Hey," said a pink and purple fembot, "where are you going?"
He turned to her. "I got business to attend to." He walked away down the alley and disappeared.
"Stop, Amy Wong," the robot said, "you are to be detained for shoplifting."
The security robot seemed to be 9 feet tall. Amy shook with fright as she looked up at the hulking mass of metal. "How am I supposed to get by that?"
"Leave that to me," said Shogugg as he flew past her. He entered a small opening on the back of its head. Suddenly, the robot began to swat madly at the air, and forgot all about Amy. As it carried on, she slipped past.
Soon the robot quit swinging its arms, and toppled to the ground with a loud thud. Shogugg came flying out of the hole in its head.
"How did you do that?" she asked.
"In a big world like this," he told her, "they don't expect someone my size to be a threat. I've got a few tricks up my sleeve. Let's get moving toward the central control center; we're almost there."
"Mother," Walt said with pride, "you'll need to see this."
Mom's eyes grew large as she spotted the girl in the pink jumpsuit run by the camera. "Crap-monkeys! I knew it! It's that little rich brat from Mars...and she just got by one of our precious expensive security bots. She's probably been spreading the virus!"
"Oh, I wouldn't put it past her," said Tewksbury. "Spoiled rich brat...probably recruited by the Pure Human League or something."
"Quit chattering and stop her, you oaf! She's getting near my computer core! Do you have a fast way to get me there?"
"A turbo elevator...why?"
"Just get me there."
Bender made it to the outskirts of the computer core before he was stopped by a group of security robots with a human supervisor. "Do you have any weapons on you?" The human security officer said in a gruff voice.
"I don't have a weapon, but I've got this." Bender opened his door, and pulled the Amazonian pepper out, which was roughly the size of a large caliber pistol. The security guard began to chuckle as he handed it to him. He held it in his hand menacingly as if it were a gun, pointing it at Bender.
"Hey! Be careful where you point that thing." Bender told him. "That sucker is deadly!" This caused the supervisor to laugh even harder.
"Go on now, and take your 'weapon' with you. Maybe you can use it on a steak sandwich later for lunch." The security guard was still laughing as he and his bots walked away.
"Not funny...I could have maimed you with this..." He grunted and put the pepper back in his door as he went on his way.
"Bender!" Amy shouted.
"Little boots! The computer told me everything...I gotcha covered, kiddo - let's get this thing done!"
"Not so fast," said Mom as she came walking down the hall. Tewksbury and several security bots were with her. "What is this, a family reunion? Where is that snot-nosed redhead and the one-eyed circus freak?"
Leela held up her wrist thingee defiantly and pointed to it.
"Whatever that was supposed to mean. Anyway, you are all under arrest."
Bender pulled out his chili pepper and held it up like a gun as he took Tewksbury hostage. "One more move out of any of you, and chubby here gets it! I mean it...stand back!"
Tewksbury looked truly panicked. "Don't let him hurt me!"
Mom lit up another cigarette. "Oh, for crying out loud...it's a pepper, you idiot - he can't shoot you with it. Get back over here and let the security force do its work."
Tewksbury pulled away from Bender and rejoined Mom. She stared at Amy with a hostile look. "Why were you trying to destroy my computer systems here?"
"We were trying to save them," Amy told her. "Your Man-Friday there has been putting them into the system all along - we have the cure!"
"It's true, madam," said Shogugg, "Amy here is telling the truth."
Mom leaned in for a closer look. "Crap-spackle," she said, breathing smoke into the creature's face, "I finally get to meet a talking bug from Kershon 24. When this is all over, I can make some money off of you at a side show. For now, you'd better stay out of my way, Jiminy Cricket."
Fry leaned close to the wall to hear the voices outside. "It doesn't sound good," he told Leela, "it sounds like Mom has captured them."
"Get your hands off of me," Amy yelled as the security bot put handcuffs on her.
"Give me that gizmo on her wrist." The bot complied, and handed it to her; she started fiddling with it. She held it up to her eye after pushing the buttons on the device.
Fry and Leela cowered in a corner of the room as Mom's massive face filled the viewing screen. "Is this how she infected my computers?" Mom asked as her voice echoed around the small room. "When I've cleaned it thoroughly of viruses, maybe I can sell it at a garage sale."
"Good grief," Fry told Leela, "that smoking habit does terrible things to the teeth."
"Hush, Fry...be ready to move..."
Amy struggled in the grip of the security bot. "You know Miss Wong," Mom told her, "I'm going to get a kick out of telling your daddy that you're in one of my holding cells."
"I would start listening to her if I were you," said Shogugg.
"What do you want, bug? All I'd have to do is spray you with Raid and sweep up the carcass later on."
"You know, you can insult me all you want, but I'm not too keen on you hurting my friends. Besides, this is a mall...I've always been told that in a mall the customer is always right."
She leaned in closer. "What do you intend to do about it, bug?"
"Call some of my closest comrades in to help." He smiled at Amy. "You see, Amy, that's why I needed the shoes - my old military unit is here at the mall for a reunion. Company," he bellowed, "atten-tion!!"
Mom's eyes got wide as a rumbling sound could be heard coming toward them. She spun around to look at one of the air vents. "Oh, shit..." she said, as the cigarette dropped out of her mouth to the floor. What seemed like a thousand of the large insect creatures came charging in at Mom and her friends. They whipped around like a blurry tornado, and their impacts hurt as they pounded the helpless humans. Mom tried in vain to bat them off, but there were just too many of them. They flew by Amy and Bender, without hurting them.
"Bender," Amy shouted, "get my wrist-thingee!" Bender grabbed the device away from the security bot, who was busy trying to swat the insects. He pressed a button on it.
"Look, Leela...the door is opening again!"
"This is our cue, kid - grab your sword." They then charged in through the opening, which shut behind them.
They looked up and down an empty passageway. Leela quickly grabbed Fry and shoved him against a wall..as she did this, she ducked as well. Something went flying past them. It stuck against the wall like a large spider web.
"What the hell was that?" he asked.
"That was a snare program; part of the anti-hacking defenses of the computer. Keep your eyes open." She helped him up.
The two of them then spotted what the girl called the monsters...every bit as scary as anything Fry had faced in his game simulations. Teeth, claws, deadly tails with poison-tipped spines on them...and all hungry for the invaders in their midst.
"Can we take them?" asked Leela as she readied her slicer-rang.
"Oh, yeah...I got dibs on the big ugly one in front - he's mine."
Mom sat there on the floor, her mascara running down her face with the tears. Her hair had been pulled and stretched out in all directions. In a frazzled voice, she asked, "What do you want?
"What?" asked Amy.
"You cyber-terrorists...what do you want?"
Bender chuckled. "For starters, I want you to look at the status board over there."
Mom looked up at the brightly-lit panel, and quickly figured out that something was attacking the viruses and winning. She threw a mean stare over at Tewksbury. "I smell a rat," she told him. "How come they've been able to do in seconds what you've failed to do all week?"
"This is good news," he told her. "It seems my anti-virus is starting to win." He pulled out another data chip. "All I have to do now is add one more element and..."
"No you don't," barked Mom. "Sit back down. Bender, if he tries anything, shoot him with that pepper of yours. Now I'm really getting things done."
"But, madam...you don't understand. We've come so far..."
Bender pulled the pepper out of his door, and pointed it at Tewksbury like a pistol. Tweaking his voice up like Clint Eastwood, he began to speak. "I know what you're asking yourself...is there juice left in that pepper? Well, to tell you the truth, I kinda forgot in all this excitement. Seeing as this is an Amazonian pepper that could roast your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question; well, punk...do you feel lucky?"
When Tewksbury tried to insert the data chip into a slot, Bender slammed his left hand down on top of the pepper. A solid stream of pepper juice came flying out of it. Covered in the juice, he began to sizzle and cook. As his chest cavity opened up, everyone could see wires and machinery exposed. Sparks began to fly from the wires.
"Holy crap on a bun," Bender blurted out, "he's a stinkin' robot!"
The body of Tewksbury convulsed on the floor; in a high-pitched electronic voice, all Tewksbury could say was, "Error...error...error..."
"You really shot him," Mom said. "You actually shot him. I'm glad you're on our side."
"Hate to ask this," Bender told her, "but don't you request urine samples from your new hires? If you get oil and no urine, you've probably got a robot on your hands."
"Oh, shut up, you bag of crap." Mom softened her tone. "By the way, that was nice shootin' Tex."
Bender looked down at what was left of his pepper, now little more than just a limp sack with steam rising off of it. "Nuts...I was gonna eat that..."
"Hey Bender," Amy asked, "what was he going to put into the computer?"
"I dunno...lemme check." Bender pulled the chip out of the lifeless robot's hand. "Holy Toledo...it was a flatline program. It could have killed Leela and Fry both!"
"I wonder how the battle is going?" asked Amy. "They're both still in there."
"Look at the board," said Bender.
Fry had his hands full with a small dragon-like beast when a centipede monster came running up. "Leela," he shouted, "get that guy - cut his head off."
Leela threw her slicer-rang, which found its target. After cutting the creature's head off, it came back to Leela's hands. Leela was suddenly grabbed around the neck and shoulders by a large tentacle. Fry sliced behind her, and the lifeless appendage dropped to the ground and then disappeared.
"Leels," Fry said, "more of those flying things!"
"I'm ready for them..."
Amy turned away from the status board and looked at Mom with a wicked toothy grin. "Well?"
"Okay, okay...you guys were right. I was wrong. What are you going to do now...extort me or something? Is this where I break down and become a fountain of human kindness?"
"I think you owe us something out of the deal...after all, your re-opening will now go on without a hitch."
"I'm not in the giving vein!"
"You know, you do a lousy Richard III imitation."
"Oh, alright...I'll see what I can do for you guys..."
Leela stood looking at a savage, two-headed dinosaur beast. Each of the two heads hissed at her in anger. "Oh, nuts..." she murmured under her breath. "Fry - get behind him and take his other head off...I'll go for this one." The creature's heads growled in apparent frustration as the two split up.
She took a quick breath, and threw her slicer-rang good and true. In one swift motion the weapon cut off the one head and then returned to Leela's hand. Fry stood where Leela told him too, and sliced off the other head. He then plowed the blade into the creature's chest for the kill. The heads and the rest of the creature fell to the ground and then disappeared. She stopped to catch her breath.
Leela looked around, and saw no more monsters. "That must be it, Fry..." She turned, and he was gone. "Fry? Where are you?" Leela then turned into a ball of pure light, and her slicer-rang dropped to the ground. Behind where she stood was a little girl, who smiled and rubbed her hands in satisfaction. "No more monsters," she said to herself. "Miss Marcie did choose well." She then promptly vanished.
Mom tapped her glass with a spoon to get everyone's attention. "Now, as my former lover used to put it, 'Good news, everyone.' My grand re-opening of the MallStar is going smoothly, no thanks in small part to you bunch of reform school drop-outs."
"Thank you, Mother," said Walt.
"Not you, Pinhead; you sacks of crap didn't do anything. I was referring to that gang of yardbirds from Planet Express over there." They waved. "Girls, you'll find in front of you a gift coupon good for 500 Nixon Funbucks for anything here in the mall; I really shouldn't, but you literally saved the day for me."
"Woo-hoo!" said Amy.
"Oh, give it a rest, kiddo...I know how much your old man is worth." Chuckles broke out around the table as Amy grinned. "Fry, you've got a voucher good for just about anything from the Game Matrix. And there is your lucky dice - the clerk saved it for you."
"Right on!" Amy and Leela joyfully slapped him on the shoulder.
"As for Bender," Mom continued, "I have a case of corn liquor and a box of Zuban cigars. By the way, where is that walking wood stove?" Larry pointed over across the room, where Bender was getting acquainted with a cleaning android. "How repulsive...a robot nibbling another robot's ear. Anyway, thanks again, guys. And go easy on the alcohol...I don't need any more problems."
Igner looked concerned. "But Mommy, you're forgetting someone."
"Okay...alright. Igner, bring in the serving cart." He happily fetched a food cart filled with hundreds of little boxes. "For my friends in the 225th Spaceborne Marines of Kershon 24, I'd like to present free oxford shoes for the entire unit."
She looked over, and saw several companies of the large insects, all quietly standing at attention on a dining table. Shogugg, who stood in front in his dress uniform, gave a crisp salute to Mom.
"Well?" Mom blurted, "No woo-hoos? No hoops and hollers?" Still they were silent. "Okay, okay...and all the sugar cubes you can eat from the coffee service."
As a group, the insectoids threw their caps up in the air and began to cheer. Shogugg flew over to Amy, and they gave each other a high-five.
"So this is our friend that helped us out," said Leela.
Shogugg took a bow. "At your service, ma'am."
"I'm confused," said Fry. "How did all this happen?"
"My robot staff here decided to rebel," answered Mom. "I don't know why...I try to be fair..."
Bender loudly cleared his throat.
"Okay, whatever..." Mom continued. "So they built this Tewksbury here." She held up a thick metal disc with lights on it. "His positronic brain will make a nice ashtray for my desk."
Shogugg stepped in. "And Marcie was built with such a sophisticated AI program, she decided that she needed to defend herself against the viruses he was putting in; she needed champions to fight them directly, because she knew Tewksbury was planning her destruction."
"I'm just glad I've got that idiot Tewksbury off of my payroll...what a worthless sack of skin." As Mom flicked some ashes into the electronic brain, she didn't notice a tiny red light on its side come on.
"Haven't you found anything yet?" asked Amy as she tapped away on her laptop in the Planet Express lounge. "I know there is a virus in there. And I want you guys to destroy it...none of this 'quarantine' stuff like my anti-virus software tells me." After tapping away at the keys, she growled and angrily slammed her fist on the keyboard. "Aiyeeah!"
Fry and Leela nearly lost their balance as the hallway they were in trembled as if struck by an Earth tremor. "Amy," Leela yelled into her headset, "quit rocking the computer around."
"Tell her to make her way over to the motherboard," instructed the Professor.
"I heard that," Leela said into her headset. "Do you know how darned far away that is?"
"It's down this corridor," said Fry. "it's just a quick jog. Hey, wait a minute...I see something."
As Leela readied her sonic blaster, they watched what looked like a large rat with two tails and spines on its back meander down the corridor. Fry chopped it with his vibro-blade, and it disappeared. "Great," he said, "a stupid tracking cookie."
"Amy, can we rap this up? We're really not seeing anything in here. I think your anti-virus program is working fine." She looked over at a robot sentinel standing in the corner.
"I come with a money-back guarantee," the sentinel said. "You should never surf the net without the protection of Morton Anti-virus."
"Yeah, right," Leela told it. "Fat lot of good you did at the mall."
As they continued on past a series of transistors, Fry and Leela stepped through a door labeled "My Pictures." It was like a creeped-out museum with electronic photographs hanging on the walls. Leela wrinkled her face at the images. "Amy...these JPEG's down here are outrageous - even by your standards!"
Amy blushed and looked around the room. "Those must be the ones that were sent to me by a friend...sorry."
"Ooh, that's gotta be embarrassing," added Bender. "Shout it from the rooftops, baby."
Once they were past the photo gallery, Leela could hear a loud growl from an animal. Whatever it was, it was big; it was chewing on some wires when it noticed the two.
Leela readied her sonic blaster and Fry brought his blade up. "Okay," Leela said, "it's showtime."