conference room was silent – apart from the sound of the
police, that was, even muffled by walls and distance as they were.
Emergency lights flickered through the tall hangar windows, casting
strange, twisted silhouettes across the walls and over the ship's
mirror-finish hull, from which a second layer of spun light flitted
over the giant hangar doors in the ceiling. The only other notable
sound was Phil's ragged breathing, punctuated by the occasional sobs
that escaped his lips as he clawed at Blue's shoulders.
stink of cigarettes and gun smoke drifted behind everything. Fry and
Leela took in the scene without words until their twins looked up at
them, one with desperation and the other with a strange, blank
Phil raised his hand and pointed toward the far end of the conference
room. Leela glanced over at the sealed door – the one Amy had
retreated through yesterday in their own universe – and then
back down at Phil.
voice faded away as Phil's eyes dropped back to his wife's corpse.
There wasn't much to say. Leela looked down at Morgan's lifeless body
and swallowed hard. In all her life, she'd been around danger many
times, and seen death on more than one occasion, but never anything
quite so visceral and primitive. She glanced at Fry, for once wishing
he'd been wrong about something.
knelt down alongside Phil, putting herself between him and the mortal
remains of his wife. She took his hand and looked at Blue, who nodded
slightly, before they both stood up, bringing Phil upright with them.
whimpered again but didn't resist as the pair walked him to the steps
and then down. The destination wasn't particularly important as long
as they got him – and them – away from the body. Fry
followed behind and deftly stepped past Phil when he collapsed back
onto the steps.
leaned against the staircase and stared up at the flickering ceiling
with his hands in his pockets. Leela looked at her counterpart again
and took a deep breath. She was about to speak when Phil looked up.
want that key...” He ran a hand through his ragged hair and
stood to look at Leela. “She's dead because of you.”
not fair,” Fry yelled as he stabbed an angry finger at Phil.
“We saved your life! Kinda...”
right, you know.” Blue put a hand on Phil's shoulder but he
shrugged it off. She self consciously pinched at her thumb as she
continued. “She wanted to kill you. If they hadn't found us
first you'd be dead by now.”
turned part-way to look up at the empty space. He scrubbed an arm
across his face to catch the tears before they got too far down his
least Morgan would still be alive.”
put her hands around Phil's shoulders again, and leaned her head
against the back of his neck once it was clear he wasn't going to
push her away. Phil shook his head and closed his eyes.
really loved her, didn't you,” Leela said.
did. Sometimes I wondered about how things might have been.
This isn't really how I wanted to find out.”
reached out for Phil but hesitated at the last moment as his hand
wrapped around Blue's arm. She backed off, leaving them for a moment,
until a high-pitched whine of feedback echoed through the building,
followed by an adenoidal voice on a loudspeaker.
is the New New York Police Department, we have you surrounded.”
that's just perfect,”
Leela muttered. Phil and Blue both looked around nervously as the
voice continued talking, looking for some way to escape the trap they
found themselves in.
all flinched at the muffled crack of a pistol being fired, Phil and
Fry especially; something about the sound seemed to reach into some
memory or fear that Leela had never seen before. Fry had
instinctively grabbed her arm.
told you she-”
right! I get it, you were right, I'm wrong. Fine...” Leela
glanced around the hangar again. The door was still firmly locked, as
if that would have changed since the last time she checked. Without
knowing why, Leela looked up at the ship and watched the lights
flicker against its shimmery skin. “Fry...”
loud crash cut Leela off before she could continue. They looked
around at the sound of falling glass; a barrage of gas grenades flew
through the shattered north windows of the hangar and cracked against
the floor, spinning as they vented their contents. The gas didn't
seem to be rising too well and hugged close to a foot off the ground,
but it wouldn't stay that way for long.
and Blue's eyes met. “Hazmat suits?”
two still working, locker six.” Blue pointed toward the back of
Phil on the ship.”
nodded and wrapped her arms under Phil's shoulders. She heaved him to
his feet and toward the ship before he could protest, whilst Leela
grabbed Fry and dragged him into the lab area.
I don't want to sound like an idiot-”
hazmat suits, four people. Do the math.”
paused and actually started counting on his fingers, much to Leela's
chagrin. She grabbed his arm and yanked him past a workbench and into
the supply closet. Leela slammed the door and then moved along the
room to the correct storage locker.
wanting to waste time she kicked the lock off its pins and yanked the
lid from the locker. Leela dug around in the suit parts until she
found a pair of fully charged rebreathers and masks. She tossed the
masks to Fry, then quickly strapped the first tank around her
she finished securing the other tank to Fry Leela noticed another,
smaller locker by the door. In their universe she'd used it to store
some of the many plasma and laser weapons they'd 'acquired' on their
deliveries to the more hostile worlds, or at least those that hadn't
remained on the ship or been used as power sources in the Professor's
experiments. With no idea how events had affected that behaviour in
this world Leela mouthed a silent prayer to serendipity, lifted the
lid and was rewarded with the sight of a dozen neatly stored pistols
and spare charges.
Fry's awe was probably understandable, even after all this time. He
picked up one of the pistols and held it out at arms length. “I
didn't know about these...”
and a good thing too,” Leela said, snatching the pistol from
Fry's grip. She pushed a fresh charge into the breech; the pistol's
capacitors whined as it soaked up the charge's power and a string of
tiny lights flicked on along its spine. She grabbed a pair of fresh
charges and dropped them in her pocket, checked the pistol was in
order and looked up at Fry.
to go,” she said, securing her mask over her face.
the closet the gas was creeping along the floor like a bad special
effect. Fry and Leela paused just beyond the door and looked down at
the milky-white gas as it seeped around their feet and into the
don't get it,” Fry muttered a the strode toward the hangar, his
voice filtered through the mask’s crackly speaker system. “The
gas is down there, our heads are up here... what do they want us to
do, lie down?”
the plan.” Leela paused by another workbench and looked around.
The hangar seemed to be empty now, filled with the gas. Blue and Phil
were safely ensconced in the ship and Evila – if she was even
here – was nowhere to be seen.
a binary reactive gas,” she said as she continued toward the
hangar, gun held high. “I saw them installing a system like
this in the cryogenics lab years ago, in case the hundred clones in
room six turned out to be evil or something. They pump the first one
in, wait for it to spread out and then drop in the catalyst to... oh
lord, what are they doing now?”
pointed at the ship. Phil was struggling down the gangway, shouting
something and gesturing wildly as Blue tried to hold him back by one
arm. To Leela's left Fry yelled and took a step forward. Distracted
by the noise, Phil looked around the hangar in confusion and suddenly
fell off balance. He slipped down the stairs, pulling Blue with him
just as Evila's pistol cracked again, the report echoing around the
hangar. A bullet whined off the steps where Phil's head had been just
a moment earlier.
thinking Leela aimed her weapon up through the ceiling at about where
she figured Evila would be stood. The roof exploded in a shower of
sparkling composite flakes and shattered concrete that flew a short
arc over the hangar and rained down around Phil and Blue's prone
forms as Leela ran toward them.
pistol spoke again and another bullet ricocheted off the gangway.
Then another shot and Fry or Phil – she couldn't tell –
let out an agonised shriek that rang in her ears. Leela turned back
toward the end of the hangar and saw Evila, hair unkempt and ragged,
grinning madly at her as she aimed the pistol toward them.
smile faltered when Leela brought her own gun to bear on the cracked
gonna kill me, sister?”
might.” Leela reached out toward Blue, knowing almost
instinctively where she was, and grabbed her shoulder. “Phil?”
fine,” Phil grunted, though he didn't sound it. Leela stepped
away from him a little, keeping the gun trained on Evila as she went.
fell on something spiky but I'm okay. It's only a bit spiky.”
smiled despite herself. She stepped in between Fry and Evila. “Your
shrugged and pouted but didn't change her stance. She waved the gun
toward Phil a little, then back at Leela and scratched her head,
trying to work out what to do next. Leela carefully swapped her gun
from one hand to the other and reached into her pocket for a spare
was about then that the police decided to conclude their proceedings.
There was a quiet whoosh
as a single, much larger gas cylinder was fired through one of the
shattered windows. The device thumped to the floor in front of the
ship and cracked open, releasing a puff of pale yellow gas.
Leela grabbed her mask and pressed it close to her face. The smoky
gas along the floor wavered around the cylinder and then suddenly
leapt into the air in in an expanding wave that spread out from where
the cylinder had landed. Evila let off a final shot at them before
she disappeared behind the gas, laughing madly.
thickening smoke curled around Leela, surrounding her in an
impenetrable white wall. She stuffed the gun into her belt and groped
her way over to to the bottom of the ship's gangway where Phil and
Blue sat coughing in the thickening air.
you two get onto the ship and get out of here. I mean it this time.”
I need to get Morgan-”
buts! The gas takes a few minutes to activate, but once it does you
two will be out cold and your lives will be over.
Get out of here. You can sort out the paperwork later.”
reached out for Blue again and held her arm. “You be careful,
Blue touched Leela's hand. Leela took hold of her arm her again and
pressed the tag from her pocket into Blue's hand. She looked at the
tag, almost smiling as she looked at it, and turned to walk up the
gangway before stopping again to look over her shoulder.
we ever see you again?”
god knows. Knowing our luck we'll end up back here in a week.”
She took Blue's hand and squeezed it. “Go!”
ascended out of the rising gas toward Phil, already waiting at the
airlock. She turned one last time to look down at Leela and waved
sadly. Leela waved back and then the airlock door hissed shut.
time to go...”
about the key?” Fry grabbed Leela's arm and pointed through the
thickening mist at the wrecked conference room. “She's still
got it,” he said, raising his voice to be sure he was heard
through the mask.
she's long gone by now. Besides,” Leela added as she hefted the
pistol. “We don't need a key.”
grinned until an explosion in the near-distance, the sound of the
police making their messy entrance, spurred her into action and she
ran for the storeroom. The door was locked when they reached it,
though the message scrawled on its surface removed any hope that
Evila was trapped here.
you on the other side',” Fry read slowly. He looked at Leela on
confusion. “She's not waiting behind the door is she?”
find out.” Leela stood back and fired a blast at the door,
shredding it to splinters. She peered into an empty room.
storeroom was pretty much as they'd left it, though somewhat the
worse for the last few minutes action. A few of the boxes were
scuffed from the explosion but whatever material they were made from
seemed almost indestructible. None showed more than surface damage.
them the ship's engines spooled up, accompanied by the familiar clank
of the launch ramp levering itself upright. Leela turned to watch the
ship and smiled to herself as the umbilicals detached and fell to the
floor a moment before the main engines fired. The ship roared from
the hangar and disappeared into the pale afternoon sky.
held up her wristamijig and recalled the first scan she'd made of the
room to pinpoint their original entrance.
guided Fry back through the maze of shelves to their original box.
Evidently someone had been cleaning. The box stood upright on the top
shelf, its lid sealed, and a ladder leaned against the shelves a
short but convenient distance away. Leela stared at the ladder for a
second but then whatever suspicions she'd started to form were
overridden by another, much closer explosion as the police blundered
their way through the building.
grabbed the ladder without even being asked and clambered up it to
grab their box. He almost fell back in his haste to reach the floor.
Leela put a calming hand on his shoulder whilst she slipped the mask
from her face.
to get back home?”
held her wrist computer over the box's wide, inviting mouth and waved
it back and forth for a moment. “Seems to match. I think.”
With a joyous yell Fry dove into the box head first. Leela shook her
head at his understandable enthusiasm to get home. She gave the
storeroom one last look, glancing up at the ceiling as if she could
actually see the sky her twin had returned to. Whatever happened now,
she was on her own.
Not quite on her own.
gripped the plasma pistol in both hands and jumped into the box.
last tenuous layers of Earth's atmosphere faded behind the ship as it
rose up toward the heavens, rotating slowly along its axis to
maintain an even temperature across its hull. The sun shone bright
and undimmed by the clouds whilst the half-lit face of the moon
slowly drew toward them.
slipped the ship into autopilot and turned to watch her new companion
as he finished repairing the damage Morgan had done to their lives,
at least as far as he was able to. Some things, Leela thought sadly,
could never be fixed by filling in a few forms. She stood up and
pressed a re-assuring hand to Phil's shoulder while he worked. He
reached up to touch it only to shy away again as the memory of the
last few hours refreshed in his mind.
the last of it,” he said after a moment, shutting off the
screen as he turned away from it. Leela leaned against the console
and watched the stars as they slowly tracked past the far window,
with the rim of the earth forming a disconcerting border to the rear
of the ship. “I've called in an ambulance to take care of...
voice faded away. He swallowed and looked at his hands.
not your fault,” Phil replied, pensive, quiet. He sniffed and
blinked back a stray tear. “It's hard to say it, but I barely
knew her. Even after all this time, I... she was... never there.”
you must have loved her?”
do. I mean, I thought did... but I guess it just took me until now to
realise I was wrong.”
screwed his eyes up as he rubbed a hand across his face. He looked
very tired and small, so small that Leela had to resist the urge to
bundle him up in her arms.
I don't know. I doubt I'll be able to take back my old job.”
sat in silence for a while as the ship rolled itself into orbit
around the planet, with just to hum and tick of the instruments
running through their automated sequences for company. Leela
eventually walked over to the couch at the front of the flight deck.
Phil joined her a moment later and sat down with a loud sigh, all the
while watching the distant stars.
that the death satellite?”
Oh...” Phil watched the tiny mote as it drifted across their
path in the far distance. He leaned back and watched the construct
that probably still held the mortal soul of his nephew – funny
to think of the old man now. Was he even alive?
satellite drifted up past the north pole and was lost from sight.
Sudden realisation dawned as they both looked at each other.
you do realise you own the company now, right?”
always wondered where that second pay packet was coming from...”
he looked up at the ceiling bulkhead and smiled sadly. “Morgan
never told me about anything she'd done at the company, I figured
Hubert was still the owner. There's a lot she never told me...”
he wasn't, and he isn't. It's your company now, Phil. You can do
whatever you want with it.”
leaned back, giving Phil a cool glance as he shuffled around in his
seat. She smiled and, despite everything, Phil managed to smiled
need a pilot.”
in luck.” Leela stretched out on the couch and slid her hands
behind her head. “I think I might know one.”
smiled again and then briefly laughed, until a particularly bright
star caught his eye. He stared at it with watery eyes, lost in
whatever memory the star had brought back to him. Leela slipped from
the couch and made her way back to the pilot's seat, leaving Phil by
himself to stare at the bright depths.
miss her,” he said after a few minutes. And then: “It
what makes us human,” Leela answered quietly as she watched the
new sun rise over the distant horizon.