Fan Fiction

Ten Years Gone, part 6 – NO QUARTER

Close the door, put out the light.
No, they won't be home tonight…
They choose the path where no-one goes.
They hold no quarter…
Walking side by side with death
The devil mocks their every step…
To build a dream for me and you
They choose the path where no-one goes.
They hold no quarter, They ask no quarter.

Jones/Page/Plant 1972
No Quarter – Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy

The world weighs on my shoulders
But what am I to do?
You sometimes drive me crazy
But I worry about you
I know it makes no difference
To what you're going through
But I see the tip of the iceberg
And I worry about you...

Peart, 1984

Distant Early Warning - Rush Grace Under Pressure

Over Praxis 3, June 19, 3002, 1020 EDT, Earth-relative

Leela’s hands twitched as she stood with Kyrie and Bender on the trap door in the cargo bay, waiting for the drop.  Amy was doing well getting them past all the incoming fire, and Fry was being just as effective in clearing the way of fighters of the Praxis Defense Forces, but she’d much rather be at the controls than just standing here waiting.

Kyrie had her usually pre-combat nerves mixing with pride and love.  Amy was flying flawlessly, sliding effortlessly between the incoming lasers like they were miles apart instead of just yards. And over their com, she could hear her father, whooping and singing along badly with an all-Rush playlist that he found somewhere on the internet, while he thundered away on the guns, clearing them a path and keeping the Praxians off their backs. She smiled, remembering that he did the exact same thing in 3015 when they ran the gauntlet through the Confed ships to get the Daughters to Earth.

But this time, he had an advantage. Kyrie and Amy had spent some of last night reprogramming the ship’s tactical computer, giving Fry the ideal kill location for these early prototypes of the soon to be standard Confederate star fighter.  Fry would have made ‘Ace’ shortly after they entered the system.

Bender, impatiently tapping his foot, just wanted to kill some humans.

“Fry,” Amy said over the intercom, “clear us a path to the planet.”

“Can do,” he replied calmly, firing away. “‘Daughter of the Great Enchantress, Sister to the boy inside of me'.”

Kyrie smiled heard him singing as he tried to hit a note he had never been able to, and would never be able to, hit. But, lucky for everyone on the ship, he was as good on the turret as he was bad at singing.  All those years playing video games had paid off, he told her once.

“Two minutes to drop zone,” Amy said over the intercom.

“So, tell me again why we’re jumping out of a perfectly good spaceship,” Bender asked, charging his gun.

“Because if we land, the ship’ll get torn to shreds,” Leela said, snapping the power pack into her brand new EE-3 that Amy had gotten her. Kyrie’s right, she thought. This thing is fantastic.

“And I for one want to live as long as possible,” Kyrie said. “And that means having a getaway car. And that means, in about a minute, you’re going to jump and run for cover.”

“Awww….,” Bender said. “Can’t I just roll around a little bit? Running might make me sweat.”

“Bender, you’re a robot. You can’t sweat.”

The hatch suddenly opening and the wind blew away any reply from Bender. Taking her cue, Kyrie started to lower the winch down, carrying the three of them out of the ship.  This area of Praxis 3 had rolling hills and fields as far as the eye could see. Barely visible in the distance was the PMC facility around Shaft 411. Kyrie experienced a strange and frightening sense of déjà vu as she watched the countryside roll by: this was how South Dakota looked ten years ago, before…

The ship started to get rocked by more and more fire as Amy slowed down for the drop. They were no more than fifteen feet above the ground when Kyrie said it was time.

“Time to go, Bender,” Leela said, dropping to the ground and rolling behind the cover of some rocks.

“I don’t wanna,” he wailed, wrapping his legs around the cable. “You can’t make me.”

“Wanna bet?,” Kyrie asked. When Bender still refused to let go, she began, “01101111..”

“Fine,” he said sullenly. “I’ll do it.” He let go and just fell, making a small crater when he landed.

Shaking her head, Kyrie let go, landing gracefully and rolling behind cover. “All right, xin ai,” she said over the com. “We’re clear. Get out of here. Take good care of my baby, daddy,” she said, checking the power pack on her carbine. “You’ll know when we’re ready to go.”

“Will do, K,” he said.  “’My counterpart, my foolish heart…,’” he sung as Amy flew out over the plains and away from Shaft 411.

“You too, Amy,” Leela said.  “If that ship’s wrecked, you’re gonna get it.”

“Love you too, dear,” Fry said. “’Complicate me, elevate me,’” he continued singing until they were out of range.

Checking the map of Praxis 3 that Nibbler had gotten, she headed off toward their rendezvous point.

“Whatever you’re going to do Amy, do it fast,” Fry said, no longer singing along with the ghost of Geddy Lee.  The Praxians had quickly figured out he had no fire arc with the guns on the lower part of the ship, and only the torpedoes for the front.  Amy had flown upside-down for the last stretch just so that he could take out the three fighters that had risen from the mine.  “I’m pretty much out of tricks up here, and we’re down to our last few torpedoes.”

Amy gripped the wheel and scanned the instruments. Shields were down to 20% and fuel was running low. They were in trouble.  Then, the scanner lit up, showing five more craft heading their way, and one of them was very big.  “Incoming, Fry,” she said as the ship shuddered.  The cruiser, the tactical computer identified her as the Prometheus, began raining fire down on them from orbit.  “Shields are down,” Amy said. “Next hit we’re gonna really feel.”

“Then find us somewhere to hide,” Fry snapped. “I can’t even take the paint off of that thing from here, and I really don’t want to go back up into space right now.”

“I’m working on it,” she replied calmly. Suddenly, there were seven ships as two more small craft started coming up from somewhere aft of the cruiser. Fry was stunned when they engaged the cruiser at point-blank range.

“Amy?,” he asked, confusion in his voice.

“I see it and don’t care right now, Fry. Whoever they are, they’re apparently on our side. You deal with those fighters and I’ll take care of hiding us.” 

“Right,” he said, pouring fire into the closest of what the targeting computer identified as Juggernaut-class heavy fighters. The four fighters were quickly reduced to two as Fry destroyed one with the guns and launched the last two torpedoes into the second.

Amy was flying them at breakneck speed through a river-carved canyon, flying back towards the mine. The canyon was filled with various outcroppings and small buttes that split the river until the tributaries rejoined further downstream. Amy had to suddenly propel them sideways as one of the Juggernauts blew a part of a butte off. As she scrapped the belly of the ship along the canyon wall, the small mountain of bright red-orange sandstone crashed through where the ship was just a split-second before.  That was too close, she thought as she spun the ship through an opening in a nearby butte, sliding through it as if threading a needle. The Juggernaut pilot, not as skilled, mistimed his entrance and crashed into the wall.  His companion continued to fire on the ship until Fry was able to blow a section of the canyon wall into him, knocking out his right wing and spiraling him into the river.

As she piloted them over the falls, Amy flew the ship low over the ocean, but quickly brought it to a standstill.  Sitting waiting for them were two little used Praxian Surface Navy battleships, their big guns already getting their range.

They heard sonic boom after sonic boom as they walked toward the mine, and at least a dozen lesser explosions. Leela kept looking worriedly in the direction of the explosions.

Kyrie was coming back to where Leela and Bender waited while she scouted ahead.  Seeing where she was looking, Kyrie said, “Don’t worry about explosions, mom. It’s when you stop hearing them that you worry.”

“That means they’re dead,” Bender said from where he was seated on a rock. “And we’re boned.”

“Thanks, Bender,” Leela said, a plainly fake smile on her face. “That’s really helpful.” Changing the subject, she looked at Kyrie and asked, “What did you find?”

“Guard post with three guards.  They won’t be bothering us,” she said in a very business-like manner. 

“I see,” Leela said, making a face. 

“Mom,” Kyrie said looking her right in the eye, “now isn’t the time to get all squeamish about all of this.  You had plenty of time to offer objections to this plan.”

“I know, honey. I just don’t want to kill people who don’t really need killing. Not if there’s a way around it.”

“There is no other way, mom. If we fail, the universe ends. It’s that simple. We do this thoroughly, or everyone dies.”

Taking a deep breath, Leela asked, “What do we now?”

“Nibbler is supposed to meet us over this next ridge in about,” checking the clock on her wrist-a-majigger, “ten minutes. We get there, wait for him for fifteen minutes, and then we go, with or without him.”

“Good. I can use the rest. My feet are killing me,” Bender said, his foot cup in one hand as he rubbed it with the other.

“Bender,” Kyrie said staring at him incredulously, “it’s only been two miles. How can your feet be hurting?”

“Honey, if you weighed a quarter ton, your feet would be hurting too after two miles.”

“But Bender,” Leela said, “you don’t weigh a quarter ton. You’re three hundred, tops.”

“Not with this damn bomb stuffed inside me I don’t,” he said, opening his casing to reveal a lava lamp, with a viscous orange fluid circulating through it. “Oh, wait,” he said reaching in and tossing the lamp against a tree. Rummaging around inside himself, he finally said, “Ah-ha!,” and pulled out a device that looked like a metallic softball with a single red button on it. Ominously, he said, “Behold: the Boom-inator.”

“The Boom-inator?,” Kyrie said doubtfully. “What the hell kind of name is ‘Boom-inator’?”

“Don’t ask me,” Bender said.  “I didn’t invent the thing.”

“You know how it works though, right?”

“Sure. Push this do-hicky,” he said pointing at the red button, “and throw it at the thing you want to make go boom.”

“How long do we have before it goes ‘Boom’?,” Leela asked. “What’s the blast radius?”

“Got me,” Bender said, putting it back in his chest and bending over to screw his foot cup back on.

“Didn’t you ask?,” Kyrie said, starting to worry.

“Nope. That’s Bender’s way, baby: don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“I don’t believe this,” Kyrie fumed. “We’re trying to collapse a mine, and you have no idea how the bomb really works or how much damage it’ll do.”

“Hey,” Bender snapped back. “You said, ‘Bender, get me a dooms day device from the Professor.’ I did that. If you wanted instructions, you should have asked him yourself!”

“Damn it, Bender,” Leela said. “This was important. You only had to do one thing and you screwed it up. Now we’re all boned. You’ve boned the universe, Bender.”

“Meh. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Well, let’s go home. If we hurry, we can catch the ‘Best of Calculon’s Evil Twins’ All My Circuits marathon.”

Teetering on the edge of either killing Bender or giving up, Kyrie’s training won out.  Picking her pack up and sliding it back onto her shoulders, she said, with as much authority as she could manage given the situation, “Move out. Nibbler’s probably already waiting for us already.”

“Damn it, Fry, can’t you do something to stop those guys,” Amy yelled. 

“They’re coming in too fast!,” he yelled back at her, turning the turret back and forth, trying to spray lasers in every direction at once. “I can’t get a lock on them.”

The Praxians were flying circles around the ship. Their smaller, more nimble atmospheric fighters were driving Fry and Amy back toward the Prometheus's field of fire. It was either that or crash into the planes and risk damaging their only means of escape. 

The two naval cruisers had hit the ship hard, doing a good deal of damage, despite not being able to pierce the ships armored hull. They’d forced Amy to keep flying long after passing the limit on fuel usage that she and Leela had figured that they needed to escape Praxian space.

“We’re gonna be boned really good, really soon,” she said, checking the scanner. “We’re about to reenter the optimal firing cone for that cruiser up there, and shields are still off-line. Our friends up there didn’t do us any favors and…” She hesitated as her scanner stopped registering the cruiser as a threat. Their friends in space had done them a big favor, after all.

“Amy,” Fry yelled. “Get us the hell out of that thing’s path. It’s coming down right on top of us!”

“Already on our way out,” she said as she turned and headed to the closest edge of where the computer had projected the impact crater to be.

From where he was sitting in the turret, Fry had a fine view of the Prometheus’s unscheduled, and uncontrolled, landing. She was a flaming wreck as she fell into the atmosphere.  Whoever their two friends were, they had thoroughly destroyed the cruiser. Some small, detached part of his brain wondered what had happened to her crew.  That small part hoped that not too many had been killed and that they had reached the escape pods in time. His scanner, however, didn’t register very many of the small craft. He fired off a few more shots at the planes, more for effect than anything. His heart just wasn’t in it anymore.

Amy had been able to ease the ship into the cave that Nibbler had picked out as being big enough to hide the ship for however long it would take for the strike team to do their portion of the mission, and then she put most of the ship’s systems on stand-by.  She sat looking at the fuel gauge and spoke a few curses in both Mandarin and Martian, sometimes mixing the two languages together in mid-sentence. They had less than a quarter of a tank left. Not nearly enough to get them out of the reach of the Praxian Defense Force. Especially if she had to go full open on the way out just like she had to on the way in. They were boned.

She pushed the internal intercom and said, "How’s it look down there, Fry?"

Fry was in the engine room trying to fix the shield generator. She and Leela had spent most of yesterday and last night showing him what to do and how to repair it, since if something went wrong, they’d be needed to fix the engines. Surprisingly, Fry was a quick study with the technology, and he seemed to have a pretty firm grasp of the generator. It helped that the manual was in a binder nearby and it had nice pictures of what everything should look like. Fry liked that part.

A few seconds later, Fry’s voice came over the loud speaker. “We’re boned,” he said matter of factly.  “As best as I can tell, the shield generator overloaded when that cruiser hit us and we don’t have the parts I need to fix what’s wrong. And, to make things that much more interesting, I can see daylight down here.”

“They holed us,” Amy said flatly. Leela’s going to kill me, she thought. She just started cursing in Martian and Mandarin again. She was so distracted by the problems that they were having, she didn’t hear the proximity alarm beeping.

“Are we there yet?”

“No, Bender,” Kyrie said emphatically for the fifth time in almost as many minutes.  “A few more minutes.”

“You said that a few minutes ago,” he complained.

“Damn it, Bender,” she yelled.  “You’ve already screwed this operation up enough. Shut up, follow orders, and keep moving. We’ll get there when we get there, so quit your bitching!”

“K,” Leela said suddenly raising her rifle, “do you hear anything?”

“No,” she said, still angry. “Just an annoying robot. Why?”

“Because I don’t hear anything. We’re in a forest. There should be some sort of wildlife noise. Bugs, animals, birds, something. I don’t hear any of that.”

Silently, Kyrie cursed herself. Bender had been distracting her. He had been making a lot of noise that was all. Nothing to worry about. She brought up her EE-3, looking around for anything. She heard the twig snap and yelled, “Cover!,” just in time. The forest around them erupted in a hail of lasers. Leela and Kyrie leapt off to the sides of the path. Bender just stood, caught flat-footed, taking round after round in the body. With a distorted electronic scream, he finally fell.

Leela and Kyrie returned fire as best as they could and killed a couple of the hidden troopers.  But they were quickly surrounded. Two dozen camouflaged troopers collected the two of them and put them on hover trucks, headed for their base.  The troopers kicked Bender off to the side of the path, leaving him for dead.

“You could have called,” Fry said angrily. “You guys nearly gave me another heart attack.”

“We’re sorry, Your Mighty-ness,” one of the Nibblonians said. Ken, Fry thought he said his name was.  “We tried to raise you, but some mineral in the walls of this cave is blocking our transmissions.”

Felicia, the other Nibblonian, came scampering back up the ramp. “Sir,” she said to Ken, panting. “We’ve lost contact with Lord Nibbler. His Hamster-class assault ship must have been disabled.”

Blaka,” he swore, spitting on the deck afterward. “Those Hamster-class ships have always been garbage.”  Turning to Fry and Amy, he explained, “He was supposed to meet Leela, Bender, and Kyrie.”

“Yes, thank you, Ken.  I do remember the plan,” Fry said. “What do we do about it?”

“I’m not exactly sure there is anything we can do, Mighty One,” Felicia said.

“Why do you keep calling him that?,” Amy asked.

“Because he is the Mighty One,” Felicia replied simply, as if that should be explanation enough.

“Fry is the Mighty One, Ms. Wong,” Ken said, a little more patiently.  “He’s decreed by prophecy to be the one to save the universe.”

“How?,” Amy asked. Fry? The Mighty One? Are these adorable, overgrown gophers off their nuts?

“I don’t know,” Ken replied. “The prophecy is kind of vague on that point. It is only that he will do it.”

“All it really means to us right now is that, since apparently I haven’t done it yet,” he looked over at Ken questioningly. When he nodded, Fry continued, “We’re going to get out of this somehow. I think. I hope.”

“What are you planning, Mighty One,” Ken asked, slightly worriedly.

“Ken, how good are you at starship repair? Oh and how much will the two of you have to eat to refill our dark matter tanks?”

“Again,” the man said, rapidly losing his patience.  “Who sent you? Why are you here? What is your mission?”

Her face already a bruised and bloody mess, Kyrie regarded the man with a well trained lack of emotion and said, for the fifth time since the interrogation began, “Fry, Kyrie T. Second Lieutenant, Quadrono Regiment, 501st Legion.  Identification number KTF- 110308.”

From the other side of the one-way mirror, two men watched impassively.  One was dressed in the blood red and black leathers of a Praxian Security Force officer, while the man next to him was dressed in an extremely well tailored suit, made from the finest materials to be had in this part of the galaxy.  The officer looked like a typical career military man, with a no-nonsense demeanor, close-cut graying black hair, and dark brown eyes that seemed to looking everywhere at once for any potential threat.  The well dressed man had a fair complexion, neatly trimmed blond hair, and warm open face. His eyes were blue-green like an ocean.  And they could be as open and inviting as the water on a calm day, or as dark and forbidding as any storm-ravaged sea. At the moment, they seemed calm, but the officer knew that with this man, appearances were quite often deceiving.

“Anything yet, Colonel?,” the man in the suit asked.

“No sir, Minister Ohm,” Colonel Carter replied. “The redhead is obviously military of some kind and the purple haired one obviously isn’t.”

“How do you know that, Colonel?,” Dangrid Ohm asked calmly, stepping over to see the purple haired one, who had identified herself as one Captain Turanga Leea, taking another punch to the face.

“This one is obviously furious at being imprisoned and interrogated. Most reputable militaries train that out of their Special Forces commandoes.  It helps to keep them clear headed after they’ve been captured. The Lieutenant is calm, cool, and collected, giving us only her name, rank, unit, and serial number, while this one wants to tear this moon apart with her bare hands, and has repeatedly threatened to do so.”

“I agree,” Ohm said. “All very unprofessional. Recommendations, Colonel?”

“Kill them both. It’s going to be hard enough to distract the press, the Minister of Defense, and the President after the loss of Prometheus, but having these two around might lead to too many questions that have…uncomfortable answers.  You still have to be elected President, sir.”

“A mere formality, Clark,” Ohm said, patting his friend on the shoulder. “The people are firmly on my side.  My ascension is assured.  That was a fine speech that you delivered against me last week. Very convincing.”

“Thank you, sir,” the Colonel said smiling.  “Lt. Gibbons wrote it. She’s very good at that sort of thing.”

“It’s too bad she transferred to our embassy on Earth,” Ohm said. “She’s a very patriotic Praxian, for a Neptunian, that is.”

“Yes, sir. Her mother lives on Earth and is in very ill health. I’m sure that when she dies, Lt. Gibbons will return.”

Nodding, Ohm said, “You know, Carter, this tragedy may be a blessing in disguise.” 

“How so, sir?”

“We can start playing our hand with a genuine enemy. Laying out that the destruction of the Prometheus is the first in a string of violent attacks by radical elements, all sponsored by the DOOP.  And with an obviously military trained commando, we can easily blame them. Our secession will be the will of an outraged people. They’ll never know who was really behind the attacks. President Vandrich, and the DOOP which he so strongly supports, will be vilified, making my landslide all the greater. Don’t kill them.  Not yet,” he said with an oily smile.   “They still can be very useful.  I have to go and be outraged at this tragedy.”  Turning to leave, Ohm said, “Carry on, Carter. Oh, and Colonel, ask Major Dawkins to arrange some DOOP-sponsored atrocities.”

“Yes, sir.”

It was dark, and then it wasn’t. His CPU, not damaged during the assault, had finally rebooted.

Scanning for local life forms, the CPU encountered a problem. There were four distinct sets of life forms in range of his scan: one insect (giant ants to be precise), one animal (a breed of six-legged hunting cats), one plant (a semi-sentient breed of tree), and one unknown (diminutive humanoid, but bearing signs of high technology). Scanning deep in the registry files, the CPU found Bender’s core objectives: 1) Find alcohol; 2) Bend; 3) Steal; and 4) Cheese it! In nanoseconds, it decided that as fun as the semi-sentient tree would be, it’s best bet for survival would with the unknown humanoid. Loading up it’s human languages files and his humanoid task list, the CPU completed rebooting.

Sitting up, Bender moaned. “Where the hell am I?,” he asked to no one in particular.

“You’re lying in a ditch on a moon, parsecs away from anyplace that you would find to be interesting,” a familiar voice said.

“Oh, it’s you,” he said flatly, looking at Nibbler. “Where are the other two?”

“They have likely been taken by the Praxian Security Forces,” he said. “There are tracks everywhere, and yours is the only body I’ve found.”

Looking him over, Bender decided that he looked like crap. The little creature’s clothes were singed and torn in a number of places, and some of the fur on his head was missing.  “What the hell happened to you?”

“My ship was hit while we were destroying the cruiser that was trying to kill Fry and the Wong girl.  I had to crash land several miles from here.  I’ve been scampering for the last two hours trying to reach the rendezvous point. Apparently, I was too late.”

“Obviously,” Bender said, opening his chest to assess the damage to his possessions. On the plus side, his cigar collection didn’t seem to be damaged, and the Boom-inator still seemed to be intact. On the other hand… “Oh no! No God, NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! My life is over,” he wailed, dropping to his knees

“What’s your problem, robot?”

“My booze. My precious, precious booze! Those bastards destroyed it all.” Head in hands, Bender wept inconsolably.

“Calm down,” Nibbler said contemptuously. “We have bigger problems.”

“What could be more important than not having the sweet, sweet taste of fermented barley, hops, and metal shavings? Or the harsh burn of cheap hooch? What, I ask you?”

“There are two humanoid creatures approaching from the southeast,” Nibbler replied, raising his small rifle. “Can you scan that way and determine who they are?”

“I could,” Bender said. “But that would take a lot of power that I don’t really have to spare.” Coughing, he held out his hand.  Growling in irritation, Nibbler scampered up a tree, which moaned in response. Ignoring the semi-sentient tree and the greedy robot, he leapt from branch to branch, heading southeast to try and intercept the approaching creatures.

When it became obvious that he wasn’t going to get paid, Bender resumed crying over his lost booze.

They crept along in the direction of where the rendezvous point was supposed to be. It had been a long five miles over very unforgiving terrain. The good thing, though, was that now they were on a road that ran near the rendezvous point, and it was faster going.

“I’m just not an outdoors person, Fry,” she said for what had to be the two hundredth time since they started. “This is really messing up my hair and nails.”

He wasn’t an outdoorsy- type, either. The closest he’d ever been to a farm was when he grew mushrooms on his bathmat. He’d camped out a few times, but that was for concert tickets.  But, he could live with some sticks and brambles in his hair if it meant knowing Leela and Kyrie were safe.

“Amy,” he said, having lost his patience with her, “could you complain a little louder? I don’t think they heard you in the mine.”

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, Fry,” she began, before yelping as a laser blast hit the ground at her feet.

Guessing the general area where the blast came from, Fry returned fire, hitting a tree. There were two voices. One seemed to be the tree, moaning in pain, and the other was a bit more familiar.

“Cease firing, Mighty One.” Nibbler dropped out of the tree and scampered over to them. “Why are you firing at random into the wilderness, Fry?”

“Someone shot at Amy,” he said.

“Uh, no,” she said sheepishly. “I think I shot at myself. The safety was off and I must have pulled the trigger accidentally. Sorry.”

Fry and Nibbler just looked at each other and turned to stare at her. Shaking his head, Nibbler said, “What are the two of you doing here? You’re supposed to be hiding out in a cave, waiting for us to call.”

“We ran into some complications,” Fry said.

“They holed us,” Amy said simply. “Plus, we wasted too much fuel to escape. Ken and Felicia are taking care of both of those problems right now.”

Sighing in irritation, Nibbler said, “They better not eat all of my hams. But why are you here? Why aren’t you helping them?”

“The ship doesn’t run on human poop,” Fry said, staring at Nibbler. “Just dark matter.”

“No, Fry.  He means why aren’t we helping with the repairs.”

“Oh. Because Felicia said you lost contact. We came looking for you guys.”

“Very noble of you, Mighty One,” Nibbler said. “But, if it weren’t for the current situation, it would be very foolish.  We’ve run into complications, too.”

“What’s wrong?,” Amy asked anxiously.  “What happened to Kyrie?”

“I believe that she and Leela have been captured by the Praxians.” 

Amy gasped and buried her head on his shoulder, tears of worry already evident on her face. Fry’s face grew dark and still. Quietly, he asked, “Where’s Bender?”

“Up ahead,” Nibbler said motioning down the road. “They appear to have been ambushed. He took enough laser blasts to deactivate him for the last several hours. He finally rebooted just after my arrival.” 

“Let’s go,” Fry said, his voice unnaturally quiet.

Bender was still crying when Fry, Amy, and Nibbler walked into the scene of the ambush.  Grabbing him by the antenna, Fry pulled him upright.

“Bender,” he said, his voice still very quiet. “What happened here? What happened to Leela and Kyrie?”

“My booze was shot to hell,” he sobbed, “that’s what happened.”

Taking a deep breath, Fry put his hands on the robot’s shoulders and turned him around. “Bender, what happened to my family?”

“Fry, maybe your ears are dirty. I said all my booze was destroyed.”

Fry closed his eyes and took another deep breath. Opening Bender’s case, Fry pulled out his cigar collection and threw it on the ground. Turning, he fired a burst into it from his rifle. Turning back to Bender, he said, his voice still eerily quiet, “Bender, what happened to my family?”

“What the hell is wrong with you, Fry? You know how long it took me to find some of those cigars?”

“One last time, Bender,” Fry said, ignoring the robot. “What happened to my family?”

“I have no idea,” Bender said, eyeing his best friend warily. “I got shot to hell and, and, and then everything went black.”  His squishy CPU’s obviously crashed, Bender thought, backing away from Fry.

“Fry, calm down,” Amy said. “We’ll find them.”

“How far is the mine from here,” Fry said, looking into the distance in the general direction of the mine.

“A mile, maybe two,” Nibbler said. “We were going to us an abandoned shaft to get inside.”

“We still have a job to do, people.  Let’s move,” Fry said, shouldering his rifle and walking down the road.

The three of them just stood there looking at each other and at Fry’s back, wondering if he had finally snapped.

Half an hour later, they arrived at the supposedly abandoned mine shaft. Sitting on ridge overlooking the tunnel mouth, Fry and Nibbler watched as several hover jeeps roared out, all bearing heavily armed soldiers, all wearing blood red and black body armor. One jeep also bore a blond man in an expensive looking grey suit.

“That’s Ohm,” Nibbler said. “We’re lucky that he’s here. We can do this in one trip and get out of here.”

“What do you think,” Fry said, his eyes never leaving the tunnel. Four guards, he thought. Could be worse.

“That we’d never catch him now,” Nibbler said, “unless we can steal some hover cycles and the four of us overpower ten Praxian Special Forces commandoes, and then quickly kill Ohm and escape before reinforcements arrive.”

“What if it’s just you and Amy?,” Fry asked, getting an idea. “Hit and run tactics.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?,” Nibbler asked, staring at him.  “You and the robot are going to go in and blow up the base and the Wong girl and I are going to kill Ohm?”

“She has a name, Nibbler,” Fry said, his voice showing real emotion for the first time since he heard Leela and Kyrie had been taken prisoner. “She’s Amy not ‘the Wong girl.’”

“Fine, Nibbler said. “Amy. But, Fry, she nearly shot herself in the foot. How is she going to be able to help me get to Ohm?”

“You’re the genius, Nibbler. You can work something out.  Since we don’t have any better ideas,” he said, standing up, “that’s what we’re going to go with. If you need back up, call Ken and Felicia.” Walking down the slope, he called over Amy and Bender and explained the plan. Of course, they both objected, but when he asked them if they had any better ideas, Amy admitted she didn’t.

“I’ve got a better idea,” Bender said. “Let’s cheese it while the cheesing’s good.”

“Bender,” Fry said walking over to him, “Leela and Kyrie are in a lot of trouble right now. And we’re the only ones who can do anything about it. So, you either come with me, or I go in by myself.”

“Fine,” Bender said. “I can’t let you go inside that thing and kill yourself.  It’s gonna cost you, though,” he added, raising his hand.  Fry just glared at him until he dropped it.

Amy came over and kissed him on the cheek. “Be careful, Fry,” she said. Then with a smile on her face, she added, “K and I want to make you a grandfather before your thirty.” That, finally, brought a smile to his face.

He looked at her, and he could see, other than her obvious beauty, why K loved her. She really was more than the shallow person she pretended to be. She actually cared about all of them. He reached out and hugged her tight, whispering that they’d get K and Leela out of this.

“Take care of my other daughter, Nibbler,” he said, a stupid grin on his face. Walking back up the hill, he said over his shoulder, “Head back at the ship when you’re done, but make sure to lose the heat first.  If we’re not back by midnight…”

“Leave,” Nibbler said. “Got it.”

“No, jerkbag,” Bender said, turning his head to face them, an alarmed look on his face, “Keep waiting.”

Private Rhode stood there, wondering what he had ever done to deserve this. He was standing guard on a tunnel. Granted, that tunnel led to one of the biggest military secrets in the last five centuries, but to him, standing at this end, it was still a tunnel.  He turned from the mouth and headed back down to his post.  Minister Ohm and his security detail had just left, so he wasn’t expecting much of anything to happen. Not that anything ever happened on this rock.

Suddenly, staggering out of the bushes along the side of the road was a young woman. Her clothes were ripped and dirty, and she looked very dazed. He’d heard some of the explosions, and felt the impact when something big crashed a few hours back, but being a lowly enlisted man on guard duty far away from any action anywhere, no one had bothered to tell him what had happened. Momentarily stunned to see anyone, Rhode froze, allowing the woman to come closer. When she was within ten feet of him, Rhode finally snapped out of it. “Freeze,” he said, raising his weapon.

“Uhm,” she said, swaying.  “Could you help me? I’m a little lost,” she said as she started falling over. Rhode, forgetting his training, leapt forward to catch her.  A small dark shape darted into the tunnel behind them.

“Ventriss,” he said into his helmet com. “This is Private Rhode at Gate 4.  We’ve got an injured civilian here." He paused and then said, "Yes, I said that this is Private Rhode.” He was quiet for a few seconds before saying, “Very funny, Ventriss. You know how many times I’ve heard that joke since I made Private? Just get a medic and an MP up here fast.” After a few more seconds, he said, “I realize that you’re busy, but this is supposed to be a secure facility, and I’ve got a civilian here in a restricted area and nothing to do with her.” A few seconds later, he said, “That’s not helpful, Ventriss.  Just get here as soon as you can, alright? Rhode out.” Turning back to the girl, he said, “Easy, miss. Everything’s going to be alright.”

“That’s what you think,” a man’s voice said a second before everything went black.

“Did you have to hit him that hard?,” Amy asked as she stood up and dusted herself off. Good thing I’ve got three more of these outfits on the ship, she thought looking down at herself and shaking her head.

“Yep,” Fry said, disarming the man and dragging him back into the tunnel mouth. Private Rhode, he thought, a smirk on his face.  Comparing his equipment to the unconscious soldier, Fry decided to take some of it.

Roaring out of the tunnel was Nibbler on a combat hover cycle. “The weapons are all primed,” he said to Amy as she climbed on. “You just drive and I’ll handle the rest.”

“You two going to be OK,” Fry asked as he pulled on the red and black leather armored jacket.

“Oh, yeah,” Amy said sarcastically. “The two of us, on a hover cycle, going against three hover jeeps full of Praxian Special Forces troops, probably with air support. No problem.”

“Hey, they probably won’t have air support. I blew most of them up, remember?”

“That doesn’t make me feel any better, Fry,” she said.  “Good luck.”

“You too,” he said as they roared away after Ohm’s convoy.

Fry just stared after them, hoping he knew what he was doing.

They caught up to the convoy much more quickly than Amy would have liked.  She hoped that Nibbler had some sort of plan. The strafing run idea wasn’t the best, but it was the only thing they had. They’d get one, maybe two good passes before they’d have to break off and try and hide somewhere for a while before they could try it again. And by then, they’d have reinforced the convoy, or Ohm will have escaped, or they would just burn the forest from orbit, or any one of a hundred other things that she didn’t want to think of.

“Here goes everything,” she murmured as they approached the rear hover jeep.

“Firing rockets,” Nibbler said.  The hover cycle shook slightly as their two dumb mini-rockets fired. They exploded at the head of the convoy, destroying the lead jeep and overturning Ohm’s. The trailing jeep swerved to avoid the wrecks, but it took repeated blasts from the laser cannon mounted on the belly of the hover cycle.  The lasers cut two of the soldiers in half as Amy raced past, including the driver. There was an explosion behind them as the hover jeep slammed into a tree.

“Circle back,” Nibbler yelled. “We can finish this here.”

Amy nodded and brought the hover cycle around for a second pass. She surveyed the carnage and was surprised. There was very little blood for there being sixteen dead people down there. Something’s not right here, she thought as she brought the hover cycle to a stop over the wreckage of the lead jeep.

“What are you doing?,” Nibbler yelled. “You have to keep moving or we’re going to get killed!”

“Then why isn’t anyone shooting at us?,” she asked.

“What?,” he yelled and finally started looking around. Seeing something shiny off to their right, he yelled, “Land over there.”

Getting off the hover cycle, they drew their weapons and went to investigate. On the ground, they dodged around the flaming wreckage and headed carefully to where Nibbler saw the gleaming object. Looking down, she saw something disturbing.  “Nibbler,” she yelled before he reached the object.

Turning around, he saw what she had in her hand: Ohm’s head.  It was cleanly decapitated, except for the few loose wires hanging down from the neck.  Looking around, he saw that the majority of the “bodies” were non-sentient robots, their wiring exposed by the rocket blasts.  A further search of the wreckage revealed that there were only three actually humans in the convoy: the hover jeep drivers.

“A decoy,” he said, disgusted with himself for not seeing an obvious ruse. “We have to get back there. Fry and Bender are in trouble.”

“And do what?,” Amy asked.  “I’m sure they’ve reinforced that gate by now.”

“Then we need to get back to the ship,” Nibbler said, his hand rubbing his chin. “We’ll get Ken and Felicia.  They have a Marmot-class fighter. Between this and that, we should be able to do some damage. And, unless things get really tight, they won’t have to abandon the Marmot once we enter the base.” Nodding, he said, “Let’s go.”

“You just want to make sure they didn’t eat all of your hams,” Amy said, turning the hover cycle toward the cave.

“Damn right,” Nibbler said.

Kyrie sat, still handcuffed to her chair.  For the last two hours, they tried to interrogate her, but all she’d done was frustrate them. She looked like hell, she knew, but she looked much worse than she felt.  Maybe a broken nose, she thought. Not the first, and, hopefully, not the last, either.  If this was the best they had, she could take it all day long. But, the problem was that she knew that this wasn’t the best they had. Just the best they had available.  If she wanted to get out of this, she had to think fast.

The door opened and a nervous looking soldier walked in, quickly followed by a severe looking young man in a lab coat pushing a cart with a white cloth over the top of it.  He looks familiar, she thought. His coat flapped so she could see the name embroidered on the left breast: J. Richards.

“Mehhhh, what’s up, Doc?,” she slurred, over-emphasizing her injuries. “It’ll be a pleasure to kill you again. Or would it be for the first time. I get so confused sometimes. What with my being a girl and all. Or maybe it’s just the concussion talking.”

Richards looked up and stared hard at her. “Whatever you’re talking about, I’m sure you’re going to tell me all about it,” he said pulling back the cloth to reveal rows of loaded syringes and other surgical implements.

Swaying a little, she cautiously eyed the soldier. Pistol and stun baton, and starting to look real nervous. That can be useful. “Oooo…,” she said, eyeing the instruments. “You gonna fix my nose, Doc? I think that other guy broke it. Can you look at maybe a boob job, too? They’re too big. No one’s ever really looked me in the eye since I was 12. Then again, maybe it’s just the whole cyclops thing.”

He just glared at her as the soldier shuffled nervously.  “Girl, I’m going to make you suffer until you beg to tell me everything you know. And then you’ll beg me to kill you. And maybe I will. Eventually.”  Eyeing her chest, “I think I’ll start there.”

“Every man’s always looking at my chest. Do you know how annoying that is?,” she said standing up and swinging the chair toward the soldier, hitting him hard in the shoulder and slamming him into the wall. Turning back, she swung a wobbly kick towards Richard’s head, grazing him as he tried to duck. Buying herself a few seconds, she spun the chair over her head and smashed it down hard on the soldier, knocking him out.

She spun back to Richards barely in time as he tried to plunge a syringe into her shoulder. She raised the chair and blocked his first two tries at stabbing her.  Finally, she trapped his forearm in the rungs on the back. She maneuvered him around so that the cart was between them.  With a wicked look in her eye, she brought his arm down on the cart, but brought the chair down hard on her side. There were several loud cracks and a scream. Richards’ left forearm was shattered, and so was the chair. Freed from the chair but still cuffed, Kyrie quickly disarmed the unconscious soldier.

Sick of listening to Richards screaming, Kyrie activated the stun baton and hit him in the side of the head, dropping him like a stone.  “That’ll teach ya not to look a woman in the eye, jerkbag,” she said as she carefully opened the door and crept out to find her mother.

Fry fired his rifle blindly over the console, hoping to hit anything, while Bender worked as fast as he could at the computer terminal. Everything had gone well for a while, until they realized that they had no idea where they were going.  That’s when Bender decided to ask what he thought was a maintenance robot for directions. The security drone wasn’t amused.

“How’s it going Bender?,” he said, poking his head up quickly to see if he actually hit anything.

“It’d be better if you stop bugging me, meatbag,” Bender said. If he had teeth, he’d be grinding them right now. Between Fry’s constant questions and pressures to hurry, and the network’s stubborn refusal to give him anything useful, Bender was getting very frustrated and angry. “I really need a smoke,” he said irritably, turning his head toward Fry. “Oh, wait.”

“Quit your whining, Bender.  I’ll get you some good Zubans if we survive this,” he said firing down the hall again, this time hitting an advancing trooper in the chest, dropping him and forcing his squad mates to take cover again. They might get desperate soon and just start chucking grenades, he thought. Maybe they just don’t want to wreck the furniture.

“Got a map,” Bender said as Fry popped over the console again to shoot at the advancing troopers. “We’re close to an elevator that’ll get us down to the prison level.”

“No elevators unless you can lock their security out. They’ll just shut our elevator down or override it and drop us all the way to the bottom and kill us.”

“What do you mean ‘us’, mammal?,” Bender asked. “I’ll probably survive a drop of forty stories. I’d just be covered in all your squishy insides.”

“Whatever, Bender. Unless you can override their security, no elevators.”

“Blah, blah, blah,” Bender said, going back to work on the security system. “Why didn’t that kid of yours update my hacking software when she was updating everything else?”

“Because,” he said, standing up and hitting another soldier in the chest, throwing him back down the hall, “she knew you’d use it to start robbing banks. Whatever you’re doing Bender, do it faster. I’m running out of charge on this pack, and I think they’re going to start throwing grenades any time now.”

“They won’t throw grenades, Fry,” Bender said. “That’d cause too much overpressure in a space this small. End up killing themselves in the process. They’ll use gas. It’s much cleaner. It’ll be worse for Big Boots and your mini-meatbag. If they’re still alive, that is.”

Growling, Fry got out from behind the cover and fired a few random shots down the hall.  A trooper popped out of hiding, and Fry shot him in the face. Fry walked calmly down the hall, stepping from side to side as he did to avoiding fire from the remaining trooper. He quickly found himself at point blank range. Swinging the butt of his rifle into the troopers face, Fry knocked him back onto the ground. He pounced on trooper and punched him repeatedly in the face. He was still punching him when Bender walked up behind him.

“Um, I think you got him, Fry,” the robot said as he put his hand on Fry’s shoulder. The troopers face looked like hamburger, and a small detached portion of Fry’s mind told him that his hand might be broken, too.

“Thanks, Bender,” Fry said, using that odd voice again.  “I really needed that.” He opened and closed his right hand. It hurt, he noted numbly, but everything still felt whole.

“Uh, any time?,” Bender said, confusion and worry evident on his face and in his voice.

“You lock out the elevator?,” Fry asked very calmly and business-like.

“No, but I found something better. The cell block is only two levels down and there’s a stairway over there that leads to that level.”

“Can we access the prison from where it leads?”  We’ll need more weapons, Fry thought looking at the dead troopers.

“After a little constructive deconstruction we can,” the robot said. “Oh, we’re going to loot while we’re here?,” he asked, seeing Fry take stuff off of the bodies.

“Only what we absolutely need, Bender. Weapons, ammo, keys, things like that. No swag.”

“But I need swag,” he replied.  “It helps define who I am.”  When Fry didn’t budge on his position, Bender said, “You’re no fun anymore, Fry.”

The gun beeped in her hand as she emptied the charge. Cursing in Neptunian and Martian, she threw it down and readied the stun baton. For what good it’ll do me, Kyrie thought grimly.

She had snuck out of her interrogation room, closing the door behind her and trapping the unconscious trooper and the would-be Butcher of Fantoma inside.  She hadn’t seen anyone or anything as she stalked the halls. After a long and convoluted route, she came to the sentry robot standing in front of another interrogation room. Taking a guess that there wouldn’t be too many other high profile prisoners in custody at the moment, Kyrie figured that Leela was inside and attempted to rescue her. That was when the sentry started firing at her.

The pistol wasn’t strong enough to take the paint of the robot, but her choices were either keep firing, hoping for a lucky shot, or close with the stun baton. Not looking forward to going handcuffed into melee combat with a robot, Kyrie kept firing until she discharged the whole clip. She did get one lucky shot in and took out the loudspeaker.  It had been blaring “Intruder alert!” over and over.  The sentry kept coming, however, firing the whole way.

Readying the baton, Kyrie took a deep breath and leapt around the corner at the robot. It raised a gun-arm and easily deflected her into a wall. Seeing stars, Kyrie unsteadily rose to her feet, ready to meet the robot again, knowing she wouldn’t survive too many more shots like that.

Then the world exploded in concrete and smoke. The wall behind the robot suddenly exploded, and there was the sound of two blaster rifles firing steadily into the robot. And from the sound of it, she knew that they were more than capable of hurting the sentry robot. As the robot’s head exploded, she heard familiar voices.

“I told you that it was too much, Bender.”

“What do you know about breaking and entering, Fry?,” the robot replied. “It was exactly 0.0995 grams less than what should have collapsed that wall like that. They obviously used substandard materials when they built this place. I’ll have to write a letter of complaint when we get out of here.”

“Uh, guys,” she said, realizing that the sentry robot had fallen mostly on her, “could you help me up?”

“K,” her father yelled, turning in her direction. “You’re alive! Bender, get over here and help me.” The three of them managed to roll the robot off of her. His cheek and one of his eyebrows twitched when he got a good look at her, but he quickly recovered and hugged her tight.  His voice cracking, he said, “I thought I’d lost you.”

Thinking back again to the days after South Dakota when they had very nearly lost each other, and remembering his words there, she said, “I’m fine daddy. Nothing permanent. Besides, it’s not like it’s the first time someone’s broken my nose.”

“You know where your mom is?”

Feeling a chilling sense of déjà vu coming over her, Kyrie pointed over her shoulder where the door was and said, “In there, I think. It’s the only other guarded door that I’ve found down here.”

“Well, let’s not keep her waiting, shall we?,” he said, tossing her his EE-3 and readying one of the spare rifles he’d collected from one of the dead troopers upstairs. “Hey Bender, he said as they walked over. Can you do something about those cuffs?

“Is the Space Pope reptilian?” The robot said going to work on Kyrie’s restraints.

Fry walked carefully over to the door and released the lock, opening the door. It hit him right in the chest as it swung open, knocking him back. Leela leapt out with a scream and kicked him right between the eyes, dropping him to the floor.

“Alright, you bastards,” she said angrily, landing in a combat stance and looking around quickly for another target. “Which one of you walking corpses is next?”

“Hey Leela,” Fry coughed, groaning on the floor. “Glad to see that you’re OK.”

Col. Carter sat in his office, conducting the traditional Praxian music that was playing over the radio. The Praxian Military Orchestra was playing at a reception for the Merchant Princes of the Bonadan system, their soon to be ally in secession, on Praxis. It was being billed to the public as an alliance for the expansion of mining in a near-by asteroid field. But, Minister Ohm was using it to sign the final agreements for the soon to be born Confederacy of United Planets. Six more months, Carter thought, his eyes closed and a smile on his face as he led the phantom orchestra through a rousing overture.

The door chime brought him back to the present and wiped the smile from his face. “I thought I told you I didn’t want to be disturbed,” Carter yelled, turning off the radio. 

“I’m sorry, sir,” the young woman said, opening the door. “There’s been several incidents that I thought you should be notified about, sir.” 

“What kind of incidents, Lieutenant Stein?”  I’m going to have to reprimand her, again, he thought as he glared at her.  Maybe I can just kill her and be done with it.

“Sir, we’ve lost contact with the dummy motorcade. Security is checking it out, but the preliminary report is that it was attacked and destroyed by one of our combat hover cycles.  And I’ve received unconfirmed reports of a series of weapons discharges at check point Alpha-4 North.”

She put her hand to her ear, touching the device implanted there.  She nodded a few times and spoke into her sleeve.  Looking up at Carter she said, “Sir, I’ve just received word that there’s been a disturbance in Cell Block 4.  According to a security drone, there’s some structural damage between Block 4 and the Archives, the prisoners have escaped, Dr. Richards has been seriously injured, and we’ve lost a sentry-bot. Sir, who was being held in Cell Block 4?”

“No one you need to worry about, Lieutenant,” he said, making his voice light as if nothing important had happened. Now I’m going to have to kill her, he thought impassively.  With a smile, he said, “Thank you for notifying me, Stein. Please put the base on Red Alert and have Major Girdun meet me in the Command Room.” Returning her salute, he stood up and watched her leave. Pity, he thought as he checked the charge on his laser pistol. She was very good at her job. Unfortunately, she was too good.

The lights went out and then came back up red as the alarms started to blare.

“I’d hoped it would have taken them longer to realize we were gone,” Kyrie said as she looked up and down the hallway outside the Archives Room. They’d dumped over a heavy desk and used it to block the doorway and to provide themselves with a little cover when the assault started.

Thanks to Bender’s map, they had found the central chamber of the Archives. After taking care of the guards, they were all re-armed and Bender was by all outward appearances, sitting peacefully in a chair in front of the main computer terminal. He was actually fighting a tough battle with the main computer about access codes for restricted portions of the facility.  And now with the Red Alert declared, the main computer had gotten stronger. I really miss my wrist-a-majigger right now, she thought, watching the robot.

“Here they come,” Leela said from where she was sitting watching the security monitors.  They had decided that Kyrie, with her years of experience, and Fry, with his good depth perception, would man the front door, while Leela would continue to monitor the security cameras. As soon as he got the information they needed, Bender would provide the escape.

Kyrie leaned back out the door way and fired a quick burst toward her right, stopping the rushing troopers and forcing them to take cover. Fry, standing over her left shoulder, looked to his left and saw nothing. Turning to his right, he fired and hit a trooper that stuck his head out from around the corner where they were hiding. Quickly, he ducked back as the fallen trooper’s friends returned fire.

Looking up at him, K smiled. “You know,” she said popping out to fire at the Praxians, “the last time you and I were in the field together, it was in a situation like this.” 

“Really,” he said, ducking down as plaster chunks rained down from where his head had just been. “How’d that work out?

“It was South Dakota, dad,” she said, the smile gone from her face.

They were pinned down at the entrance to the Generator Plant of the Confederates bunker in Interior, South Dakota.  Captain and Private Fry, father and daughter, one high and one low, were each firing through the sheets of rain at the on-coming Confed Commandoes. The Generator Plant had been their secondary target.  They had originally tried for the Fuel Depot, but Confed Commandoes were waiting there for them. They had been in a running gun battle pretty much ever since.

He had split the squad in half, keeping Kyrie, Ava and Eva Dwight, Sasha and Vera with him while Tatia led the rest of the squad into the complex to set the bomb. Snipers had killed Sasha and Vera before the twins, each armed with a gyroscope-mounted Z-6 Rotary Cannon, had destroyed the portion of the Fuel Depot that the gunners were using as cover. The fires there were raging out of control there and were illuminating the night brighter than the flashes of lightning that were also striking in the area.  The occasional fuel tank explosion could be heard over the rolling thunder and the roar of Confederate fighters trying to shoot down Leela and the rest of their air cover.

The assault on the base had gone to hell from the word go, just like the Fry’s had feared it would. Of the five squads of Daughters that were involved, they could only verify that their group and part of the air support had survived: her mother and her wingman, a Space Lizard they all called Buttons, because no one could pronounce her real name. No one else had answered Vera’s repeated radio calls before she had been cut down.

 “River, report,” he yelled over his headset as he fired another burst from his A295.  For a reason known only to him, he called it ‘Betsy.’ Kyrie never did find out why. The blast cut a fully armored Commando in half.  He was targeting another and firing even before the first’s body hit the ground.

This is River, Father,” a voice said over the channel. “We had to move to the alternate position. Our first choice was too heavily guarded. We lost Elise and Maria when we arrived at the first location.  I did what I could for the Sisters, Father, but it wasn’t enough.”

Not your fault, River,” he said, grinding his teeth as he said it. “How are the rest of you holding up?”

We’re the Daughters, sir,” she replied. They could hear the resolve in her voice. “It’ll take more than this to shake the four of us. Even if we’re the last ones left, this base is going up in flames.”

Eight, Kyrie thought. They had come in with twelve. Four more of her Sisters were dead. They were her teachers and her friends, and now they were gone. I will not cry, she thought angrily as she continued to fire at the Commandoes, cutting down every Commando that she could.

Has the device being planted?,” Fry asked as he ducked down as a grenade exploded on the other side of their cover, leaving his ears ringing.

Yes, Father,” River said.  “Tatia is setting the timer right now. The Confeds have some automated defenses in here, but Kendra and Saba are clearing us a path.”

Right,” he said. “Tatia, get out here as fast as you can. We’ve got less than 10 minutes to bug out.”

We’re already on our way out, sir,” Tatia said over the com.  “All right, ladies, everybody out of the pool,” Kyrie heard her say before she closed the connection.

K. Find us a way out of here,” he said. “Ava, leave the Z-6 and go with K.  Eva, you’re with me. We’ve got to hold here until Tatia and the rest get out. Let’s move, people,” he said as he started helping Ava out of the Z-6’s harness and started to get into it himself.

Yes sir,” Kyrie said smiling. It was the first time he had sent her ahead to scout them a path.  She wouldn't let him down. Nodding, he put his weapon down and picked up Ava’s mini-gun, and he and Eva started unloading a heavy stream of lasers in the direction of the Commandoes.

If that ten year old girl had known that he was trying to keep her out of the way for the really heavy fighting that was going to come, or that in a few minutes, he would order Tatia to carry her out and abandon him, she wouldn’t have been smiling.

He tapped her on the shoulder and showed her a plasma grenade. Nodding her head, she fired another burst down the hall and ducked. He pulled the pin and chucked it down the hall. There were shouts of ‘Grenade!’ coming from the troopers, followed by a searing heat and a blast of wind as the plasma grenade ignited the air surrounding it into a firestorm.  Fry ducked back quickly as the blast of flame shot down the corridor toward their position.

With a ringing still in his ears, Fry stuck his head out from behind the cover and promptly threw up.  There were body parts everywhere, and several of the troopers were screaming in agony, from injuries that they received in the initial explosion or from the burns from the fire afterward. Climbing past him and over the cover, Kyrie calmly walked down the hall and put the survivors out of their misery. 

“How,” he asked, gagging on the stench and nearly throwing up again, “how could you do this for a living?”

“It’s the only life I’ve known since I was six years old, dad,” she said evenly. There was no emotion in her voice.  She could have been discussing any of a thousand mundane things.  She was a DOOP Special Forces Commando; killing without emotion was her business, and she was very good at it.  “That’s part of why we’re here, remember? So that no child has to grow up the way I did.” She just stared hard at her father until he turned away and threw up again. From across the room, Kyrie heard her mother throwing up, too. Some of the monitors had apparently survived the blast. 

Closing her eye, Kyrie leaned up against the door frame and felt her shoulders sag. She hated this. She wished that she could feel like they did again, but the war had begun to sear it out of her when she was six. It was a horrible scar that had her in therapy until she was eighteen, when she had gotten sick of the patronizing psychiatrist and told him to do some things to himself that are anatomically impossible for the human species. 

River felt like her parents did, which is part of the reason why she left the Army when the war ended and tried to heal the wounds it left behind.  But she knew River had her demons, too. Kyrie remembered the nights that she had spent consoling River while she cried after having waking up screaming from a dream about some half-remembered horror. And there were nights when River had done the same for her.  She put her hand on her father’s back and rubbed it in understanding.

She looked up and saw Leela staring at her.  Her mother’s face was white and there was a slight sheen of sweat on it. She had seen it all: the blast, the bodies, and Kyrie calmly and methodically executing the survivors.  Kyrie, like she had done with her father, calmly stared her down until, like Fry, Leela turned away and threw up again. Bowing her head again, Kyrie wished that she could feel that way again.

“I got something,” Bender said, breaking the silence. When no one responded, he looked around and said, “What? Did somebody die or something?”

Kyrie calmly walked past her mother and stood behind the robot. “What have you got, Bender?,” she asked. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her parents embracing and holding each other up. She missed Amy. Dad and Bender had said she was fine, but she still wished that she was here right now. She needed to feel something, anything, and her parents wouldn’t do.

“See this map,” Bender said pulling the facility’s schematic up on terminal. “See this big black area that’s drawing a whole lot of power but has no information listed for it? That’s our target. That’s got to be the Special Ops Research area.”

“Good work, Bender. You still got the Boom-inator?”

“Of course,” he said.

“Good.”  Looking at her parents, she said, “Are you two going to be able to make it?”

 “We’ll be fine, K,” Fry said, wiping his mouth.

“Just give us a few minutes and we’ll be ready,” Leela added.

Nodding, she said, “I’m going to scout ahead. Be ready to leave when I get back. Bender, upload that map to mom’s wrist-a-majigger.” She jumped over their make-shift barricade and didn’t look back.

“They’re proving to be much more of a nuisance than we anticipated, Minister,” Carter said into the video phone from a private office off the Command Room.  “The prisoners have evaded several of our ambush checkpoints, hacked into our computer mainframe, and killed many of our troopers. They seem to know exactly where they’re going and are intent on getting there by any possible means.”

“This is troubling, Colonel,” Ohm said. His voice and face remained neutral, but his eyes betrayed his true feelings: he was livid. “When I left you, you assured me that everything was in good hands.  I’m very disappointed in you, Andrew.”

“I’m sorry sir, but-.” Carter was cut off as a single laser pistol blast blew the right side of his head off. Coming in from the Command Room was Major Girdun, a tall Neptunian who was fiercely loyal to Ohm. He pushed the Colonel’s corpse out of the chair and sat down.

“Ah, Marcus,” Ohm said. “Your timing is impeccable, as usual.”

“Thank you, sir. It’s unfortunate what happened to the Colonel, isn’t it? His own aid gunning him down like that. It’s a pity that I was too late to assist him, but at least I was there to arrest Lt. Stein for his murder. It’s too bad, though, that she was killed while resisting arrest.”

“I see. Yes,” Ohm said, “that is unfortunate.  Make sure that her service record shows that and have her posthumously discharged dishonorably. Say, aren’t you are the next in line for command of the installation, Marcus?”

“Yes I am, Minister,” he replied, smiling.

“Well, Major, or should I say Colonel Girdun, what are you going to do about the current situation?”

“I’m going to treat them like you would any bug infestation, Minister. I’m going to exterminate them.”

“Don’t fail me, Colonel,” Ohm said, cutting off the transmission.

Private Rhode couldn’t imagine this day getting worse. First, he let pity get the better of him. Instead of just shooting the girl, like his orders said, he tried to help her. And all that got him was knocked unconscious and put on report for dereliction of duty. Only the Red Alert inside the base had kept him out of the stockade.  With, if rumor was to be believed, several squads of DOOP Special Forces Commandoes on the loose in the facility, there was no one that could be wasted on coming to arrest him and take over his duties.

Allegedly, the intruders were running roughshod all over the inside of the base. Add to that the theft of a combat hover cycle and the destruction of the Minister’s convoy (he knew he would be blamed for both of them), and Rhode was seriously considering a transfer to Praxis 6.  It was a planet full of farmers where nothing ever happened. Most people thought it was boring, but it was starting to appeal to Rhode. He’d had his fill of excitement.

The sun was just starting to set as Rhode heard the whine of an approaching hover cycle.  After the destruction of the convoy, there had been a number of hover cycles out on recon patrol, looking for the assailants, so Rhode didn’t think much of it.  Rhode turned around to wave at the approaching trooper, but was shocked at what he saw. Sitting in the saddle was the girl he tried to help earlier, and alongside her was a small saucer-shaped craft piloted by two tiny creatures.

Rhode leapt for cover as the hover cycle approached. I’m not going to fall for that again, he thought, raising his weapon. Suddenly there was a bright flash of white light which left Rhode temporarily dazed. When he returned to his senses, Rhode saw the hover cycle parked nearby, but no sign of the driver.  The jerk must have had his high beams on and blinded me, he thought.  Yeah, he drove right at me with his high beams on. That’d explain why I’m in this bush.  I’ll have to report him for that. And then request that transfer.

They’re trying to kill you. This is the only way, he kept thinking to himself over and over. It was the only way he was going to survive this trip with any of his sanity or humanity left intact. Fry kept up the stream of lasers as best as he could, but it was starting to get harder and harder to ignore the screams of the dying soldiers. Looking at Leela, he saw her turning her head and closing her eye as she fired down the hall at the entrenched Parxians. 

Kyrie and Bender, on the other hand, were having no problems killing the troopers. She was taking it as seriously as a life or death situation should be taken; Bender was having fun, laughing at the poor meatbags as he cut them down. It’s the only life she’s ever known, he thought grimly as he purposely missed a trooper that was fleeing down the hall. Kyrie and Bender didn’t miss him, though. He fell, spinning first in one direction, and then back around the other as the two shots hit one after the other.

Their way clear for the moment, Kyrie, Leela, and Bender rested and reloaded as Fry scouted ahead. Kyrie had done most of the scouting, but with the two hours of the Praxians beating her, she needed a break every so often.  He didn’t look at the floor until he passed the ambush point where the soldiers had made their stand. 

They were theoretically getting closer to the Research Labs, but all these white halls looked the same to him.  It was like the Praxians had taken decorating advice from a hospital administrator.  The walls, floor, and ceiling were all white. The Fry’s, in their black armored jumpsuits and multi-colored hair, stood out painfully in the empty corridors. Even Bender’s Foghat gray paint stood out like a stain in this pristine underground world they were stumbling through. Kyrie said pretty much all the Confed bases looked like this. It’s just another reason to stop them, he thought looking around at another section of blank wall. 

Hearing a noise in the direction he was going, he flattened himself against the wall. His hand sliding over the sensor was enough to open the door, as suddenly he was falling backwards into the darkness. The door slid shut in front of him as he fell into the closet. Standing up, he immediately fell back down, unconscious after his head slammed into a metal shelf.

“Something’s wrong.  He’s been gone too long,” Leela said as she angrily paced up and down the hallway.

“Mom,” Kyrie said, “it’s barley been five minutes. Dad’s smart enough not to get himself in over his head.”  Bender fell to the floor and started to laugh, rolling around and pounding his fist on the floor as he did.

Leela stared at her. “Your father, maybe,” she said, “but not Fry.  Your Fry sounds very smart and capable.  One time, my Fry tried to chew his own arms off so he could stick his head into a sewer to drink some Slurm.  He is more than capable of getting lost in a closet.”

“If you put him in a round room and told him to sit in the corner,” Bender panted, “his head would explode.”  He fell back down, laughing harder.

Kyrie shook her head at the two of them and turned to look down the hallway where her father had gone.  She knew that this Philip J. Fry was not even close to the Philip J. Fry that had died almost seven months ago in her own time line. That Fry would have gone about this the same way she was: no remorse for the fallen Praxians, and no pity either. This Fry was too soft.  Then again, this Fry hadn’t lived through the war and he didn’t have anywhere near the responsibility that her father had had. Still, couldn’t, and wouldn’t, think of him as anything other than her father.

Kyrie looked up when she thought she heard a noise. “Bender,” she said, “shut up and listen.”

“Listen to what, K,” Leela said, stopping her pacing.

“Shhh,” Kyrie said, holding her hand out. “There it is again. That clicking noise.  Didn’t you two hear that?,” she said reaching for her gun.

“I didn’t hear anything,” Leela said, also reaching for her gun.

“Me neither,” Bender said nervously, charging his positron rifle.

A smoking black tube was suddenly among them. The smoke was thick and dark green. “Coma gas,” Kyrie yelled, quickly regretting it as she started choking. She and Leela quickly succumbed to the gas and fell, but Bender, immune to it, stood there firing as fast as he could.  There were muffled screams from down the hall as he hit several of the troopers.  Suddenly, blue blasts started firing toward him from both directions. He was hit a few times, and blue and white energy quickly raced over his body as the ion blasters forced his systems to overload and shut down.

Striding into the cloud, wearing sealed armor, a trooper looked at the three bodies and nodded. Speaking into his helmet transmitter, he said, “Colonel Gurdin? This is Recon Commander Riley. We’ve got the females and the robot sir. What should we do with them?” After nodding a few times, he said “Acknowledged.” Motioning to four other similarly armored troopers, he said, “The Colonel wants these three brought to the lab. He said that Minister Ohm is coming and wants to deal with them personally.”

The troopers saluted and started dragging the captives toward the lab.

“Are you sure this is the right way, Nibbler?,” Amy asked as they crept down the hall. They had been going in and out of rooms and down so many identical halls and blank stairwells that she was thoroughly lost.

“Of course,” he said confidently from his perch on her shoulder. “Ken and Felicia have the map and, according to what I’ve seen, they’re leading us straight to the lab.  And, fortunately for us, Fry, Leela, Kyrie and the robot are distracting all of the guards.”

“I hope xin ai is ok,” Amy said. “Fry and Leela, too,” she added quickly.

“The girl,” he said, “despite her many faults, seems very competent when it comes to warfare.  With her around, I’m sure that Fry and Leela are in good hands.”

The Marmot-class ship floated back into view, with Ken and Felicia apparently having a very heated argument from inside. They floated in front of Amy and Nibbler, still arguing inside, for a few minutes before Nibbler cleared his throat and got their attention.

“I’m sorry, Lord Nibbler,” they both said on top of the other, leading to them glaring hard at each other.

“You’ve found something,” Nibbler said, his tone indicating he wouldn’t tolerate any nonsense right now.

“Yes, Lord Nibbler,” Ken said. “There’s a ventilation shaft up ahead.  It’s part of the ductwork that services the research lab,” he said before being cut off by Felicia.

“But it is too small for the continued use of this ship,” she said angrily glaring at Ken. “He advocates using the ductwork to reach the lab, but I think that losing this unit’s firepower would be a grave mistake.”

Nodding sagely, Nibbler said, “You both have valid points, so we’ll compromise. Amy and I will infiltrate through the ductwork and the two of you will find another entrance and still use the Marmot.”

“Yes, Lord Nibbler,” they said, although it was clear that neither was happy about it.

“And, the next time I see you two younglings acting so unprofessionally, you’ll be transferred back to solo field work in the deepest parts of space that I can find. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, Lord Nibbler,” they both replied meekly.

“Good,” he said.  “We’ll maintain com silence unless absolutely necessary. Dismissed.”

As the Marmot flew back down the hallway, Nibbler could see that they were arguing again. Shaking his head, he looked over at Amy and said, “Shall we?”

Everything was black and his head was throbbing. Just another Sunday morning with Bender, he thought groggily as he groped around for his pants, like he did every bleary Sunday morning. Finding himself laying in a puddle of water, his mind began to process information.  It was dark and his head hurt. So far, just like any early Sunday morning. He was wet. But again, that wasn’t unlike some Sunday mornings.  But this was a different kind of wet. It was cold and smelled like soap and dirty mop water.  Now that’s odd, he thought. We don’t own a mop.

Standing up slowly and carefully, he felt around on the walls, trying to find the light switch. Metal shelves, mops, a five-gallon bucket of something, a robot of some kind…ah, there it is. Flipping the switch, he looked around and discovered he was standing in a janitor’s closet. Plus, he was wearing an armored red and black leather jacket and a black armored body suit instead of his regular clothes. When he saw the rifle on the floor, it all came back to him. Feeling around the top of his head, he found a little blood on his fingers from where he had hit the metal shelving unit. “Stupid shelf,” he said glaring at it.

Grabbing his rifle, Fry cautiously opened the door and edged his way out into the hallway. Looking up and down, he saw nothing but a maintenance robot fixing the damage that he and his family had caused earlier. Not knowing how long he’d been out, Fry carefully walked toward the robot.

“Careful on the wet floor, human,” it said as it turned its head to face him. “I hate filling out accident paperwork as much as you organics do.  Say, you don’t look too good. You should see a doctor.”

“Yeah,” he replied. “I’m trying to find one.  I wanged my head and I can’t remember where I’m at.”

“Sub-level 1, hallway Beta 6,” it said looking more closely at him. “Say, I don’t recognize you. Are you sure you’re supposed to be here?”

“Sure,” he lied. “I wouldn’t be here right now if I wasn’t supposed to be here, would I? I’m here all the time. At least I think I am. I’m pretty sure, anyway. Where did you say the doctor’s lab was again? I think I might have one of those concussive brain injuries, or something.”

“Meh,” it said shrugging its shoulders and turning back to fixing the wall.  “All you organ sacks look the same to me. The lab’s down that way,” it said gesturing in the direction that Fry was originally scouting.  “The docs in there will fix you right up. By the way, if you’re not supposed to be here, try not to let them kill you. Oh, and please don’t tell them I saw you. They’ll deactivate me, and then nothing will get done.  I’ve still got to clean up the area down the hall where the troopers took those invaders down, and I’ve got a lot of clean up to do there already. You know how hard it is to get blood out of the little cracks in this cheap tile they installed in here?”

His heart leapt into his throat.  Somehow, he managed to keep his voice calm and asked, “So, did they kill them?”

“Naw,” it said pulling off the putty knife attachment and setting a heat gun in its place. “They took ‘em all down to the lab. You’ll probably see them there. Oh, damn it,” it said suddenly. “I sure hope they don’t kill them there. I’m already overworked. I don’t need one more hassle.” 

“Well, I won’t keep you,” Fry said walking carefully on the wet floor. “Thanks for all the help.”

“Not at all,” it said as it waved off-handedly at him. “Stupid git,” it muttered as Fry walked out of earshot.

Everything was dark and her head throbbed. The gas had left a funny taste in her mouth. She’d never wanted a drink of anything so much in her life.  I wonder where they’ve taken us, Kyrie thought, still woozy as the gas was wearing off. I wonder if I’ll ever see dad again. Or  xin ai. I miss River. A sharp, hard slap across her face brought her back to reality somewhat.

“Wakey, wakey, little girl,” a man’s voice said. It sounded velvety smooth, but it was laced with Tonka-tuff steel, like the hand that slapped her. She felt someone grab her chin and pull her head back to where it she thought it was supposed to be usually. It too was soft to the touch, but it squeezed her chin hard. Again, velvet covering Tonka-tuff steel.

“Leave her alone jerk bag,” Bender yelled. She heard someone, probably her mother, struggling with whatever bonds that they had restrained them with.

“If you have any control over your friends, Lieutenant Fry,” the voice said, “you better start using it. I only need one of you alive for my plan to work. The other two of you are expendable.”

Opening her eye carefully, she discovered she was looking straight into the face of the Devil himself. Staring at her was the one man who she hated more anyone, Cubert and Jonas Richards included: Dangrid Ohm.

“At ease you two,” she croaked. Or at least that’s what she hoped she said. The disgusting residue from the gas in her mouth made it hard for her to tell. She thought she heard them settle down, so she guessed that they understood her. Either that or they had heard and understood Ohm’s threat.

“That’s better,” he said. He leaned down and put his hands on the arms of the chair she was cuffed to and brought them nose to nose. “Now,” he said calmly, “you’re going to tell me exactly who you are and what you’re doing here, Lieutenant, or I’m going to execute your mother. And, if my scientists are right, that’ll put a quick end to you, too. Isn’t that right, my time traveling friend?”

She was able to hold in the gasp, but her eye widening in shock was all the confirmation that Ohm needed. “Don’t look so surprised,” he said. “It was a simple matter of DNA analysis. You’re half of her, thus you’re her daughter. According to our tests, you’re somewhere in your late teens or twenties, and she’s nearly thirty.  Much too young for you to be that old.  Therefore, you must have come back in time.  Now, what I want to know is why.”

Her heart was racing and her mind was a blank. She was terrified. They were all going to die, and it would be all her fault.  She saw a red blinking light out of the corner of her eye in the vicinity of where she thought Bender’s head was, but she ignored it. She didn’t have time for whatever else was going on. The man she had sworn to kill was literally breathing down her neck. “Simple,” she said as calmly as she could manage. “I came back to kill you.” He voice didn’t even quiver. Tatia would have been proud.

Not even blinking, Ohm said, “So the war the war will be a success then. I win, and you’ve come back to change that.”

For the first time in a very long time, Kyrie laughed. She threw her head back and laughed maniacally. She was shaking and crying as she did and her chair would have fallen over if Gurdin hadn’t grabbed the back and held it still. She was gasping for breath, and every time she looked at Ohm’s face, she just kept laughing harder. In the small part of her mind that wasn’t bordering on manic insanity, she hoped that she wouldn’t wet her pants, which just helped set the crazy part of her mind off more.

After several minutes, Ohm demanded, “What is so funny, Lieutenant Fry.”

“You,” Kyrie panted, tears rolling uncontrollably down her face, “you really think you win? You think you’ll win this little game you’re playing with so many trillions of lives?  You, you, you,” she said, gasping air, trying to catch her breath, “you conquer half the galaxy only to die on your knees in a crappy bunker after a bunch of homeless teenage girls nearly wipe out your entire army. We kick your ass so badly your kids would have been walking with their asses up somewhere near their shoulder blades,” she said and started laughing as hard as ever. “If, if you could have had any after the DOOP got done with you, that is,” she panted out breathlessly, her sides hurting.

After a few more minutes of laughing, she calmed down enough to say, “Your Confederacy of United Planets falls apart after your death.” Giggling a little more, she said, “They suck so bad, the DOOP Buffoon-in-Chief, Zapp Brannigan, defeats the remains of your armada and barely loses any fighters and no capital ships. With you dead, there is no Confederacy, there is no war, and there is no space-rotation bomb.” Oh, crap, she thought, groaning inwardly. I should have listened to what mom always told dad about stopping my stories one sentence early.

“So,” he said finally getting the answer he wanted. “You want the bomb. Is that it? Is that’s what’s caused all of this,” he said. When she didn’t answer, he held his hand out to Gurdin. When Gurdin put his pistol in Ohm’s hand, he replied, “Thank you, Marcus. Now, Lieutenant,” he said moving back a step, “you’ve made my decision all the easier. Thank you.” He raised his arm, turned, and fired two shots, hitting Leela in the chest with both.

After cautiously creeping for a few stretches of hall way, Fry decided to do what he did every time he went on a delivery to an area where he’d be prone to drawing the attention (in a bad way) of every being there: act like he belonged. No matter how out of place you actually are, he found that if you acted like you belonged there, there was a pretty good chance that people would accept that you belonged there and wouldn’t think twice about you. So, walking straight and tall, rifle slung over his shoulder, Philip J. Fry, delivery boy and reluctant invading vigilante, walked into one of the most secret rooms in this half of the galaxy. He acted like he belonged there and gave the appropriate head nods and salutes to the guard, whom, seeing what he thought was just another officer, let him in.

“What’s up, Doc?, he asked cheerfully to the bored-looking blonde woman in a doctors coat leaning up against a counter. She was looking through a clipboard filled with paperwork, not actually reading any of it, and didn’t look happy about it.  She looked very much like she would like to be somewhere else actually doing something, instead of cooling her heels in the waiting room.

“You know this place,” she said, barely looking up from her clipboard.  “An officer or a dignitary walks into the lab and all the real work stops, just so they can have a tour. Those idiots don’t appreciate how much their little visits effect the quality and quantity of the work that we do here.” She looked up at him and asked, “Do I know you?”

“Probably not,” he said. “It’s a big base. You can’t know everybody. Captain Philip J. Fry,” he said smiling and sticking his hand out.

“Dr. Amanda Graza,” she said smiling, taking his hand and shaking it. “So, Captain, what can I do for you?”

“I’m looking for somebody,” he said cryptically. “Three somebodies, actually.”

“Oh,” she said somewhat hopefully, then she said, “Oh, oh,” her eyes going wide. “You’re one of them.”  He looked at her and tapped the tip of his nose. Mulling it over for a few minutes, she said, “I should report you, you know. There are six troopers within screaming distance, and Minister Ohm and Colonel Gurdin , too.”

“But you’re not going to report me, are you Doctor?”

She was silent for a few seconds and then said, “No, I’m not. Truth be told, I’m getting a little sick of this place, and I’m starting to worry that the projects we’re working on are going to be abused. I mean, six months ago they fed us this story about how a new ultra-powerful laser that we’re developing would be used for mining. The problem is that you’d need one hell of a power source to fire it. Like a power source that you would find on a star destroyer or a military-grade space station. No mining company, I don’t care how big, has access to a military-grade power plant. In the wrong hands, that thing could destroy a planet.  I think we’re making weapons here, Captain. Terrible, terrible weapons.”

He looked at her for a few seconds before he leaned in and said softly, “You are, Doctor.  In that room there’s a terrible weapon that will destroy the universe. Those three people that the guards took in there are my family.  I need to save them and destroy that weapon.”

She leaned in close and whispered, “You mean the space-rotation device, don’t you?” When he nodded, she let out a heavy sigh, her shoulders dropping considerably.  “I knew that that thing wasn’t going to be used to re-establish stable orbits for rogue planets after a massive solar catastrophe. It just sounded too made up to be true. The physics were going to be all wrong for it. I can’t believe that we were all so naive.”

Picking up her clipboard, she shuffled through the papers until she got to the one she was looking for. “Here Captain, or whoever you are. Take this and put this code into the machine. It’ll wipe the memory of that unit, deleting the detonation code. There’s one other prototype stored in a large black cabinet on the west side of the lab. The code will work on that machine, too.  Other than what’s in Dr. Conrad’s computer, those are the only places where there’s information for building another one.” 

“Where is this computer,” he asked, putting the code into his pocket.

“Next to the black cabinet. It’s not hooked up to the network, so there’s no way to access it from any other computer in the base.  Just smash the hard drive.  That should be enough.”

“What about Dr. Conrad?,” he asked. “If it’s in his computer, it might be in his head, too.”

“Not likely,” she replied. “Conrad only wrote part of the code. We all wrote part of it, just in case. Only I know the detonation sequence, and how to remove it, since that was the part of the unit I worked on.” Seeing him reaching for his gun, she raised her hands to stop him. “I know how to activate the detonation system, but I don’t know what kind of power source you need or how to even set up the hardware.  I never had access to the schematics or anything like that. No single one of us had that data. By themselves, any of the codes are useless. We in the lab designed it that way on purpose so they had to keep all of us.”

“That’s good to know, Doctor Graza,” he said. “All the data on that machine needs to be destroyed, and I’d really hate to have to kill you, Doctor.  I think that you should find a ship and get out of here. Fast.”

“Yeah,” she said, putting her clipboard back down, “I think you’re right, Captain. Oh, here,” she said giving him her access card, “You’ll need this for the door. Thank you, Captain,” she said patting him on the arm, “and good luck.”

“You too, Doctor,” he said as he watched her walk out of the lab, and hopefully save her own life.

Looking down at the two dead guards, Fry shook his head at the waste. He hated killing, and if he never touched a gun again after they got out of here, it would be too soon. He could rationalize it away in the ship’s turret, when you never actually saw the person you killed, but right up here in person was something different.  If he had anything left in his stomach, he probably would have thrown up again.

Using Dr. Graza’s card, he was able to access the lab.  The front part of the lab was empty. He imagined, based on what Dr. Graza had said, all the techs had been removed from the lab because of them bringing Leela, Kyrie, and Bender here. As he headed toward the back of the lab, he passed a large black cabinet with a computer next to it on a table.

“Dr. Conrad, I presume,” he said quietly. Sliding Dr. Graza’s card through the reader, the light turned from red to green and the lock beeped and opened. Sitting on the shelf was a machine that looked like an old word processor that his brother Yancy had. There were three red lights on the front, and Fry guessed that that meant the machine wasn’t turned on. Flipping the only switch he found, Fry was pleasantly surprised when two of the lights turned green and the third turned blue. 

The main command menu came up right away and he typed in Graza’s code. After it asked him three times if he really wanted to delete the detonation code and then reformat the main computer drive, it seemed satisfied that he really did want to delete the programming.  The machine beeped cheerfully that all data had been erased and it was reformatting.  Satisfied that one of the two prototypes was destroyed, Fry started looking for the other one.

Hearing a woman’s laughter, Fry crept further into the lab.  Peering around a corner behind an armored Praxian trooper, he saw four Praxian Special Forces troopers, Bender, Leela, Kyrie, and who he thought was that Ohm guy. He was looming menacingly over K, trying to be intimidating, but he was failing miserably. Kyrie was trying to talk and laughing like a maniac at the same time.

Finally, he heard Kyrie say to him, “Your Confederacy of United Planets falls apart after your death.”  She kept talking and laughing, but he wasn’t listening to her.  He was trying to think of a way to get rid of the troopers without killing anybody.  Sadly not finding anything, he looked up and saw a grenade on the belt of the trooper.  Looking into the lab, guessed that the blast radius would be small enough.  He hoped.  Carefully pulling the pin out, he slid away from the trooper and behind some cabinets.

He heard two shots fired, then he heard Kyrie scream, “MOM!,” followed immediately by Bender screaming, “LEELA!” His eyes widened in shock and horror as the grenade went off.

Amy really hated confined spaces. The access ports on the ship were one thing. Because of Leela’s and her constant care, they were clean, roomy enough to work in, and, thanks to the Professor’ own inability to get in and out of a confined space easily, she was usually able to have her feet touching the deck outside. But these ventilation ducts were something else entirely.  They were tight, dirty, and provided little room to maneuver. Luckily, there were no security measures to get past, just what seemed like miles of identical ductwork to navigate.

“Over here,” Nibbler whispered from a side duct that was even smaller than then one she was currently in. Sighing and stretching her arms out in front of her, Amy slithered into the duct. She stopped at a vent over two chairs, one containing a comatose Kyrie, and the other an angry Leela.  Off to the right wearing, if she was right, a robot command override device was Bender. She noticed the red light blinking on the tip of his antenna, and wondered if anyone else noticed that he was recording this whole situation, likely to blackmail any Praxian that survived. 

She watched, and Nibbler bristled, as a familiar looking blonde man walked into view and grabbed Kyrie’s chin. She was scared as she recognized him: Dangrid Ohm. If even half of the things that xin ai had told her were true, this man was a menace to the whole galaxy. She started to slide her gun forward to see if she had a clear shot at him. She had a partial shot, but she decided to wait until, and if, anything better came up.

They watched as he slapped Kyrie and then she started to laugh maniacally.  Then Ohm moved out of her line of sight, but a better target came into view: Bender. Refocusing her aim, she lined up the sights on the override device. Without the override, Bender would likely start killing humans, probably starting with the two on either side of him.

“As soon as you fire,” he whispered into her ear, “the grate will be open and I’ll pounce through and see what I can do.”

She nodded slightly, still keeping the right side of Bender’s chest in her line of fire. She had no idea what Bender or Nibbler would do, but she was hoping that it would be drastic, since as soon as she fired, she’d be a sitting duck for the two guards next to Bender, plus any other guard in the room.

She’d been concentrating so hard on what she was doing that she had missed most of what xin ai was saying to Ohm. She finally heard Kyrie say with a laugh, “Your Confederacy of United Planets falls apart after your death. They suck so bad, the DOOP Buffoon-in-Chief, Zapp Brannigan, defeats the remains of your armada and barely loses any fighters and no capital ships. With you dead, there is no Confederacy, there is no war, and there is no space-rotation bomb.” Then she heard Kyrie groan. Apparently stopping your stories one sentence too late is a genetic thing, Amy thought. She had missed xin ai, and now she needed her support, but Amy was stuck ten feet up in the air in an air duct while Kyrie was handcuffed to a chair in front of a mad man. 

“So,” Ohm said.  “You want the bomb. Is that it? Is that’s what’s caused all of this?” After a pause, he said, “Colonel? Thank you, Marcus. Now, Lieutenant, you’ve made my decision all the easier. Thank you.” He fired two shots, hitting Leela in the chest with both.

Shocked, Amy was stunned for a few seconds as Kryie screamed, “MOM!” and immediately afterward, Bender yelled, “LEELA!” As Leela’s chair hit the floor and the smell of burnt flesh, cloth, and ceramic started to fill the room, Amy gritted her teeth and fired, hit the restrainer squarely, and destroyed it.  Her satisfaction was short lived as something exploded and the duct work fell out from under her, dropping her into the lab.

There was smoke and wreckage everywhere, and small fires were burning all over the lab. The troopers at the door were dead and the blast had knocked Kyrie over and blew out a section of the ventilation system. Bender was running amok, having bent the two troopers that had been on either side of him. He was starting to head for the armored Neptunian that was quickly retreating and searching for a weapon to use against the irate robot.

Rising from the ground was a blonde man in a now soot-covered grey suit: Dangrid Ohm. Looking out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Kyrie and Leela weren’t moving, but based on what he remembered from the ‘Back to the Future’ movies, since Kyrie was still there, Leela was still alive.  Then he saw Amy and Nibbler rising from the duct work, and figured that they’d help Leela and Kyrie. Guessing he’d never get a better chance, Fry stepped back as far as he could and started running toward Ohm. Screaming “LEELAA!” as he ran, Fry leapt and he hit a flying clothesline on Ohm that would have done any pro wrestler proud. Ohm didn’t see him coming until it was too late and the two of them went down in a heap.

As they got back up to their knees, Fry grabbed him by the tie and punched him in the face. Pulling him back up by his tie, Fry repeated this two more times before Ohm swung back with the pistol, whacking Fry in the side of the head and knocking him down.

Ohm dragged himself to his feet and unsteadily pointed the gun at Fry. Spitting blood and one of his teeth out onto the floor, Ohm sneered down at Fry. “So,” he said, wiping the blood and froth bubbling from his lips, “you’re another one.  Well, one of the one-eyed cockroaches is dead, and you can join her.  We’ll take our time with that freak of a daughter of hers. Before we’re done, she’ll confess to everything, even things that we haven’t done yet and I’ll be king here. And my first act as king is to smite you,” he said pointing the pistol at Fry

The first thing she felt when she regained consciousness was a searing pain in her chest and a severe ringing in her ears. No, she thought, two searing pains. What the hell happened? Kyrie laughed, that bastard turned, and…that son of a bitch shot me! TWICE! I’ll kill him.

She opened her eye, and things weren’t any clearer. The chair she was handcuffed to was on its back, and there was smoke all over the room. Over the ringing in her ears, she barely heard what sounded remotely like an angry monster screaming her name and then someone grunting. Bender was screaming something, but again, because of the ringing in her ears, she couldn’t understand it.

Looking over to her left, she saw Kyrie looking her way, crying and poking her own leg, like she was making sure it was still solid.  Leela thought Kyrie was trying to say something, but she couldn’t make it out. When Kyrie saw her mother turn her head and nod, she visible sighed and smiled.  Leela figured she had been asking if she was OK. Her chest was really hurting and Leela wasn’t able to really take deep breaths, but she still silently thanked the makers of the body armor that she had been wearing. If she hadn’t been wearing it, she’d be dead.

Rocking the chair slightly, Leela was able to get it over onto its side and started to scoot over toward Kyrie. Not being able to take a deep breath was starting to get to her, but it beat not breathing.

Amy’s ears were ringing and her left leg felt like someone had stabbed her. Looking down, that was almost exactly what had happened.  One of the steel supports for the ductwork had become imbedded in the back of her left thigh, just behind the armor plate. Luckily, the piece was mostly stemming the blood flow. She only had the minimal rescue training needed to be a starship engineer, but even she knew that as soon as that hunk of metal was removed, she’d bleed like a stuck pig.  Rolling to her right, she started to drag her way to Kyrie, screaming her name with every painful lurch.

When Kyrie slowly turned her head toward her, Amy started crying. Someone had beaten xin ai pretty badly, breaking her nose and bruising her face, but Amy didn’t care. She was still beautiful, no matter what happened. Seeing her alive and mostly well brought a smile to her face. When they were close enough, Amy and Kyrie kissed quickly.

“Don’t get me wrong, xin ai," Kyrie asked over the sounds of crashing metal, "it’s not that I’m not ecstatic to see you, but why are you here?” Gurdin had found some sort of metal pipe and was dueling with Bender.  They were crashing and breaking equipment and experiments all over the lab. But Bender was quickly getting the upper hand.

“I’m rescuing you, silly,” Amy said smiling.

Looking Amy over as best as she could, Kyrie’s face became full of concern.  “Xin ai,” she said gravely, “your leg…”

“I know, baby,” Amy replied seriously. “I know.  I can still feel and move my foot, though. As long as that hunk of metal stays in, I should be OK.  For a little while, anyways. Hold still,” she said reaching into a pocket on the shoulder of her jumpsuit and pulling out Cubert’s sonic screwdriver. “Let me see if I can get this thing to work and get you out of here.”

“Where’d you get that?,” Kyrie asked stunned. “I’ve been looking for that for two weeks.  I thought Nibbler had destroyed it. Never mind where you got it,” she said as Amy started pushing buttons, cycling the frequencies up and down to get the locks on the hand cuffs to release. “I’ve never gotten that thing to do more than override automatic teller machines. It’ll never work.”

“That’s because you’re a grunt, xin ai,” Amy said with a smile. “A very beautiful grunt, but a grunt all the same. I, on the other hand, am a brilliant engineer. It won’t take much for me to get this to work.” After a few seconds of rotating the frequencies, the left cuff popped open. “See,” Amy said smiling. “I told you it’d work.  Now, let me at the other one,” she said, leaning her chest over Kyrie’s face. At any other time, Kyrie’d be enjoying it, but this wasn't the time or the place.

After a few seconds of the sonic assault, the right cuff popped open, freeing Kyrie.  “Should we keep these for the next time I’m naughty?,” she asked playfully as she helped Kyrie out of the chair.

Suddenly, Leela’s head popped up.  “If you don’t mind,” she grunting loudly and panting for breath.  She was pale, and her eye was cloudy and slightly unfocused.  “I’ve been shot here. If you two could wait a little while for your next date, I’d like to get out of here. And besides, don’t you already own handcuffs Amy?,” Leela asked smiling slightly, her head weaving groggily before it fell back to the ground with a thud.

As Ohm raised the pistol, Fry closed his eyes and waited for the end. I’m sorry K, he thought to himself. I’ll see you soon, Leela.

Suddenly, there was a scream as a Neptunian in Praxian Special Forces armor flew across the room, clipping Ohm’s shoulder before spiking into the wall like a dart. The body fell out of the hole in the wall and crumpled to the ground unmoving, a puddle of blood slowly spreading from where it landed. Across the room, Bender yelled, “And that’s why they call me Bender the Magnificent!”

Seeing his opening, Fry kicked Ohm hard in the side of his knee, dropping him. Sitting up, Fry grabbed him by the tie again and punched him until he dropped the gun. Angrily, Fry climbed up to his feet, still holding Ohm by the tie. Pulling Ohm to within inches of his face, Fry said, “You killed my Leela. She was my life, you bastard! You want to be king?,” he asked, eyes bulging out of his head and spit flying. “Well, I’ll crown you, you son of a bitch. In the name of King Philip of Brooklyn,” he said cocking back his fist, “arise Sir Loin of Beef,” he said punching him. Pulling Ohm back up and cocking his fist back again, he said, “Arise, Baron of Munchausen,” then punched Ohm again.  Again and again, the delivery boy from the Stupid Ages continued to ‘knight’ the would-be ruler of the galaxy: “Essence of Myrrh! Milk of Magnesia! King of Suede! Sultan of Swing! Sir Tifficate of Authenticity! Count Backwards from Ten! Three of Clubs! Ace of Spades!,” he said finally as Ohm fell to the ground unmoving, his face a shattered, bloody mess.

He was about to pull him up again when Bender grabbed his arm. “That’s enough Fry,” he said. “It’s over. He’s dead”

Fry tried to struggle free, his eyes wild. “He killed them, Bender. That piece of human garbage killed Leela and took my baby from me! He killed Leela and Kyrie! I’m not done with him yet, damn it!”

“No he didn’t, Fry,” Bender said. “They’re both hurt, Amy, too, but they’re still alive. But if you don’t get a hold of yourself, we’re all going to die. This place is falling apart after that Shady Sands Shuffle move you pulled with the grenade.”

“The what what what move?,” Fry said, confusion filling his face as the blood lust drained out of his eyes.

“Never mind,” Bender said. “I’ll explain it later when we’re not dying. We have to get out of here, Fry. Now.”

“Not without destroying the bomb, first, Bender,” he said, regaining a small measure of composure. “We’ve got a few minutes before the security gets here, so we can do that other thing that we came here for.” Looking around, all he saw was rubble. “It should be a grey box about yo big,” he said holding his hands about two feet apart, “by yo big,” he said holding his hands about a foot and a half apart, “by yo,” he said, holding them vertically about a foot apart. “It looks like a typewriter.”

“I’m a robot, Fry,” Bender said, throwing debris around. “Typewriters have been obsolete since before you were frozen a thousand years ago.  Like I know what a typewriter looks like.”

“It’s a gray box, Bender,” Kyrie said limping over to Fry, “about the size he showed you. Just find it and find it fast. We need to get out of here, but we need to fulfill the mission first.” She grabbed Fry and wrapped her arms around him. Shaking her head, she said, “You don’t know how glad I am to see you alive, dad. After you didn’t come back…”

Hugging her tight, he said, “I fell into a closet. Nearly got lost in there, too. Stupid shelf,” he muttered, shaking his head.  “You help Bender.  I’m going to check on your mom.”  Kyrie nodded and started the help Bender shove fallen debris out of the way. Stepping gingerly over the fallen debris, he came to Amy and Leela, burnt, bruised, and bloody, but still alive.

“How’s it going, kiddo,” he said to Amy as he squatted down next to Leela, brushing a few stray purple hairs out of her face. She was unconscious, but her breathing and pulse were both still strong and steady.  Damn it, he thought as his knees creaked and popped. Not getting any younger. The adrenaline having run out, his hand was starting to throb. Think it’s actually broken this time, he thought. Looking at Amy’s leg, he tried not to cringe.  The piece of steel sticking out of her leg looked very painful, and blood had started to seep out of the wound at both ends. He was no expert, but he didn’t think that that was a good thing.

“Who you calling ‘kiddo,’ old man,” Amy said softly, a grimace on her face. “You’re not that much older than I am, Fry.”

“Yeah, but you and my daughter are going to make me a grandfather before I’m thirty, remember,” he said. “That lets me act like an old fart. How’s the leg?”

“Great,” she said weakly. “I’m going to dance a jig when we get out of here.” She closed her eyes and was quiet for a few minutes. When she opened them, Fry was gone, standing with Bender, Nibbler, and xin ai across the room arguing about something.

“We must do this now,” Nibbler was saying. “Since this is plugged into the network, we have no idea how many systems it’s in. We have to blow the whole base or we’ve done this for nothing.”

“We don’t know how the boom-inator works, Nibbler,” Fry said. “We can’t set it off. There has to be another way.”

“There’s another way,” Kyrie said softly. “I can stay. I give you guys a head start and then activate the boom-inator. I can tie it into the lab’s power supply, and from there, into the base’s reactors, blowing the whole thing.”

From where she was laying, Amy said, “NO!,” as loud as she could, but they didn’t hear her.

“The hell you are,” Fry yelled. “You’re not killing yourself over this. We’ve worked too hard and we‘ve all got too much to lose for you to do that.”

“Mighty One,” Nibbler said, “I believe that she’s right. As soon as Leela becomes pregnant with her, she becomes a time-paradox anomaly.”

“A who said who with the what now?,” he asked confused.

“Meaning she’s doomed. It may not be right away, but sooner rather than later, this Kyrie will die. It’s one of the Universes little quirks: it hates time travelers and goes out of its way to correct the damages as best as it can.  I’m sorry Fry, but she’s going to die anyway. Why not let her do it in a way that will serve and protect the universe?”

Fry swung hard, hitting Nibbler and swatting him across the room where he slammed into a storage cabinet. “You’re telling me,” he yelled angrily, “that I have to let my daughter kill herself, for the sake of the Universe?” He stalked across the room, looking for Nibbler.  “After everything she’s been through,” he said as he picked Nibbler up by his antenna when he finally found him in a drawer across the room, “the only way for this to end is for her to die? How the hell do you explain how that’s right and just? Who the hell gave anyone the right to make decisions like this for anyone else? How is that fair?”

“Life isn’t fair, dad,” Kyrie said, putting her hand on his arm and getting him to put Nibbler down. “It’s just life.  I knew that this was probably going to be a one-way trip. It’s not Nibbler’s fault. It’s just the way the universe works.

“But why you?,” he asked, tears starting to form in his eyes. “Why does it have to be you? Isn’t there another way?”

“Dad,” she said, smiling sadly, “I’m a paradox that needs correcting. Besides, we Fry’s are always the ones that the universe calls on when it needs to be saved. No one else can get the job done right.”

“But why,” he began, but then stopped as he took a hard right to the jaw, knocking him out cold.

“I’m sorry, dad," Kyrie said. "This is the only way, and we don’t have time to argue. Bender,” she said, “you guys have to get them out of here, and fast. Praxian security is going to coming down on this place like an avalanche any minute now. Hell, I’m surprised that they aren’t here yet.”

“Yo,” Bender said. “That’s because of me, Bender. I jacked myself into the computer that the other bomb prototype was hooked up to and I confused the network and rerouted all the guards. Oh, and if anyone want to know, there’s a small ship coming this way. “

“That will be Ken and Felicia,” Nibbler said, a sour look on his face. “I sent them to find another way into the lab, but they seem to have taken their time about it.”

“Well, they’re at that door other there.”

“Let them in, Bender,” Kyrie said.

The lock clicked and the door opened, revealing the Marmot and two very surprised Nibblonians. “Welcome to the party,” Nibbler said. “You two certainly took your time.”

“We’re sorry, Lord Nibbler,” Felicia said.

“We had difficulties getting around all of the guards. Apparently, the robots are chasing and shooting at all the non-robots. It’s turning into chaos out there.”

“Yo,” Bender said, blowing on the tips of his fingers and rubbing them on his chest.

“Bender,” Kyrie asked, “what did you do?”

“Just a little creative reprogramming, that’s all. It’ll cover our escape. Which we should be doing right now.”

“Yes, you should,” Kyrie said. “I’m sorry Bender, but you’ll have to carry mom, dad, and Amy.”

“The hell he is,” Amy said, dragging herself up by a chair and putting no weight on her left leg. “I’m not going anywhere. If you’re staying, then so am I.”

Xin ai,” Kyrie began.

“Don’t xin ai, me,” Amy said. “If you think I’m going to let you die here alone, just so you can correct a paradox, then you’ve got another thing coming.”

“But you’re supposed to exist, xin ai. I’m not. Well,” she said looking at her unconscious parents, “not yet, anyway. You have your whole life ahead of you. I’m going to die soon. Four years, tops.”

“I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” Amy said, grimacing at the pain in her leg. “Besides, I don’t think I’ll be getting anywhere very quickly. I can’t feel my leg anymore. “

“Bender can carry you out, Amy,” Kyrie said, walking over to where Amy was leaning, “and the Professor can clone you a new leg. You don’t have to die,” she said, tears in her eye as she caressed the side of Amy’s face.

“I can live with you for the little time you have left, or die a long, slow death alone.  I love you, Kyrie,” Amy said, caressing Kyrie’s face. “I won’t leave you to face the end alone.” She kissed Kyrie softly, and laid her head on her shoulder.

“Whatever you two chicks decide,” Bender said, “you need to do it fast. There are robots coming this way.”

Still holding Amy’s hand, Kyrie said, “Bender, take mom and dad, and get out of here.”

“There’s a hanger not too far from here,” Ken said as Bender bent over to pick up Leela. 

“Steal a ship and head for the Planet Express ship. Call me when you get there.”

“Can do, Little Boots,” Bender said, picking up Fry.

Kyrie walked over to Bender and kissed her parents goodbye. “I’m sorry, daddy,” she said, touching the side of Fry’s face. “It has to be this way.  I love you.”  Walking over to Leela, she said, “Bye, mom. I love you. I hope I’ve made you proud.” She walked around to Bender’s front, gave him a hug, and kissed the side of his head. “Goodbye, Uncle Bender,” she said. “This time, I get to save your life.”

“Aww,” Bender said. “I’ll miss you, Little Boots. You too, rich girl,” he said toward Amy, who had sat back down and didn’t hear him. “Say, what do we tell her parents?”

“Nothing,” Nibbler said. “Give me a minute.”

“Well,” Bender said as he walked out of the door opened the door to leave, “I ain’t waiting long, ya trouble making, starship fuel crapping, mutant guinea pig.” The Marmot followed him as he went, to provide cover against any rogue robots or Praxian security forces.

Nibbler scampered quickly into another part of the lab and came back with a large syringe. Amy screamed as he stabbed the needle into her. “She can be cloaned,” he said, “with this DNA and tissue sample. The Professor has a brain map on file for all of them, just in case.  It will be easy to restore her to prior self.”

“Just how prior, Nibbler,” Kyrie asked.

“She won’t even know you existed, or that she loved you.”

Kyrie nodded. “It’ll be better that way. What about everyone else?”

“You’ve left us with a large mess to clean up, Kyrie. It’ll be an easy fix, but it will take some time. We can blank their memories. You will never have existed.”

“Everyone but mom and dad,” she said. “I want someone to remember. I’m sure that they’ll be able to keep this secret.”

“But that will change the fu-,” he began, but stopped, realizing what he was saying and exactly what they had been doing here. Smiling, he said, “It shall be so.”

“Goodbye, Nibbler,” she said, hugging him. “I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused.”

“No you aren’t,” he said with a smile. “You’re as bad as your father.”

“Yeah, I guess I am,” she said. “Take care of them, Nibbler. Amy, too.”

“Always,” he said, closing the door behind him.

She magnetically locked all the doors to the lab, effectively sealing them in. After a little searching, she had finally found her wrist-a-majigger. Small favors, she thought as she linked it into the computer. The superior programming and Black ICE that she had access to easily overwhelmed the security protocols that Bender had put in to block his work.

Twenty minutes after they left, Bender called. They were on their way out of the system, and her parents had come around right after they left orbit. She could hear Leela screaming about mounting a rescue, but her father was silent and accepting. Leela begged and pleaded with Kyrie, but Fry just stood there, staring at her and smiling sadly.

“Mom, dad,” Kyrie said, “I’m sorry. This was really the only way.”

“We know, honey,” he said, as Leela buried her face in his shoulder and cried. He stood as straight as he could while he held Leela, who just sobbed and yelled how none of this was fair. Staring at her over the link, he saluted her. It was the only thing that he could think of.

She returned his salute, and then she smiled, knowing only one way to truly honor and salute him.  She raised her right hand up, palm out.  Splitting her middle and ring fingers to her index and her pinkie respectively, Kyrie said, “Long life and prosperity, Father.”

Smiling, tears in his eyes, Fry made the same gesture. “And you as well, Daughter.”

They stood looking at each other for a few seconds, and then Kyrie nodded and cut the link.

“How’s it going?,” Amy asked, her voice weak. The bleeding in Amy’s leg had gotten worse, but Kyrie did her best to make her comfortable. Amy had been right about one thing, though: she probably wouldn’t have lived much longer.

“Not long now, xin ai,” she replied as she squatted down next to her and taking Amy’s hand in her own. “Why Amy? Why did you stay? You could have lived and found someone else.”

“There would never be anyone like you, K,” she whispered. “I’ve been looking for something, for someone, for so long, and I never knew what it was. It was you. If you never came, I might have thought I would have been happy with Kif, but I would have always felt like I was missing something. You were who I was meant to be with. To death do us part,” she said with a smile.

“I love you, Amy Wong,” Kyrie said, cupping the back of Amy’s head with her hand

“I love you, Kyrie Fry,” Amy said, reaching out to pull Kyrie close.

As they kissed, their world turned white.

They sat alone on the bridge, waiting.  Nibbler had told Bender that he had found some hidden booze down below and wanted to take him to it. Fry and Leela knew that Nibbler was just going to delete Kyrie from his memory. The call had already gone out to the other Nibblonians. Operation: Magic Eraser had begun. Soon, almost all traces of Lt. Kyrie Fry’s existence would be wiped from the minds and data banks of every being in the universe that had encountered her.  Every being except the two of them.  Nibbler had told them that it was her last request. Only the two of them would remember.

They sat alone, watching what was left of Praxis 3 spray in all directions. It was a funeral pyre on a planetary scale for their daughter. They wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“No one but you and I will ever know what really happened here,” Leela said.  “No one will ever know how close we came to a universal cataclysm. Or who saved them.”

“It’s the way she would have wanted it, Leela,” he said, laying his head on top of hers. “She would have said she was just doing her job.” The sat together for a long time before he asked, “What do we do now?”

Drawing a shaky breath, Leela said, “For now, you and I mourn. In the next week or so, we start dating openly, just so we don’t scare everyone. They won’t remember any of this, so we have to take our time.” Snuggling closer, she said, “Then, in a year or two, we welcome Kyrie back.”

"If that’s what you want, Leela," he said, squeezing her tight, "then that’s what we’ll do."

They sat there together in silence for a long time, mourning their friend, who’s clone was ready to be grown, and their daughter who died four years before she was born.

Goodbye daughters of the revolution
Open your eyes and see your solution
Hallelujah come join the jubilee
Keep on runnin' through the gates of the city
To give up now would be such a pity
Don't you wanna see the ship go down with me?...
I've been restless, baby, I've been wild
Caught up in a fever dream
Well, come on and save me, child

C. Robinson/R. Robinson, 2007
Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution – The Black Crowes Warpaint

CODA – All of My Love

Yours is the cloth, mine is the hand that sews time
Hers is the force that lies within
Ours is the fire, all the warmth we can find
She is a feather in the wind

Jones/Plant 1979 (with apologies)

November 28, 3006 – Taco Bellevue Hospital, New New York, 0228 EST

“One more push, Mrs. Fry,” the doctor said.

Screaming every foul name she could think of, including some she had just made up, at the man standing next to her, Leela pushed with everything she had left, which, after 15 hours of labor, wasn’t much. Finally, when she thought her strength would give, she felt a rush of pressure being released and fell back exhausted.

“There we go,” the doctor said. “Very good, Leela. We’re all done. Mr. Fry, would you like to cut the cord?”  Smiling, he took the laser scalpel and sliced where the doctor pointed.

“What is it, Fry? What did we have?,” she mumbled.

“It’s a girl,” he said, his face beaming. “She looks just like her mommy, too,” he said as he handed her the tiny bundle.

Leela took the blanket wrapped figure and pushed back the area over her face.  Her head was barely covered by a fuzz of white hair and a single bright blue eye stared back at her. “Hello, beautiful,” Leela said, tears in her eye. “I’m your mommy.”  She held the baby to her breast, crying tears of joy.

After a few minutes, the nurse took the baby back from her so that she could be measured. Fry just stood there smiling as she screamed, her tiny hand wrapped around his little finger.  “It’s ok, little girl. Daddy’s here. Daddy won’t let anything bad happen.”

“Have you decided on a name, Mr. Fry,” the nurse asked from where she was filling in the chart.

“We were thinking Kyrie. Kyrie Turunga Fry.”

From his perch in the air duct, Nibbler smiled.