I suppose that means I should stop writing this – oh, who am I kidding? I’m having way too much fun! Thank you for everyone for reading and commenting!
“Attention cyborgs,” Fry said into Leela’s wrist-thingy. He looked up at Leela. “Can they hear me?”
“Cambrien can receive you, and I assume she can relay it from there.”
“Oh, okay.” Fry leaned down again. “This is Philip J. Fry, of the Planet Express ship.”
“I am receiving you, Philip J. Fry,” Cambrien’s tinny voice came out of the speaker. “Have you disabled the EMP bomb?”
“No. And I don’t intend to.”
“What do you mean?” Cambrien’s voice didn’t change, but Leela thought she could detect tension.
“Halt the attacks by the duke’s ships. Pull them back to dock. I need to speak to the Pirate Brethren, and then we’ll talk about disabling the bomb.” Fry said.
“I assume you are attempting to blackmail us with the EMP bomb. How do we know you have the trigger password? Why should we believe you are any more willing than your Normal friends to kill everyone on this world?”
Fry smiled, more to himself than the invisible cyborg. “Because I’m a pirate,” he said. Fry hobbled over to the bomb, and typed in ‘Matei Pavel.’
“Trigger activated,” the bomb said in a calm Amphibosian voice. “One Hundred and Eighty seconds to detonation. One Hundred and Seventy-Nine seconds to detonation. One Hundred and – ”
“FRY!” Leela screamed.
“Trust me, Leela!” Fry yelled back.
A crash sounded from above decks. Suddenly Amy’s voice was shouting through Leela’s communicator. “Diu lan! She’s on her way!”
Leela and Fry barely had time to get their weapons up when Cambrien came smashing through the timbered ceiling of the powder room, showering fragments and dust on them.
Fry swung his electro-matter-edged sword at the cyborg. In a flash, she caught his wrist and tossed him aside like a sack of potatoes. Good God! Fry had a second to think before he slammed against the wall. She’s faster than anything I’ve ever seen!
Leela was faster. The mutant drove the heel of her right boot directly into Cambrien’s forehead with a powerful kick, sending the cyborg stumbling back. Leela landed on her feet and kicked again into Cambrien’s chin with a shouted “Hi-YAH!”, a hit that would have sent a purely organic foe to the floor.
The cyborg shook off Leela’s kicks, however, and swung with a shattering blow. Leela dove out of the way barely in time, hearing the smash of wood by her head where Cambrien had driven her fist through the reinforced bulkhead.
The two kicked and punched at each other in a flurry of moves. Leela landed hits several times, but barely seemed to slow the cyborg down. The more powerful strikes from Cambrien came within millimeters of landing on Leela, but she dodged each of them with lethal grace.
Finally, Cambrien’s elbow drove into Leela’s gut, doubling her over. The cyborg then caught Leela by the throat with one hand, and drew back her other fist to pummel the mutant spaceship captain. Oh man, Leela thought dazedly, this wang chungs!
There was a sudden sharp ozone smell and the crack of shorting electrical circuits. Cambrien’s emerald implant went dull, and the cyborg fell over, releasing her titanium grip on Leela’s throat.
Behind the fallen cyborg, Amy stood with a two-foot long prod which still shedding sparks; Kif was behind her gingerly holding a laser rifle. Leela got up, rubbing her neck and with a question in her eye. “Something the Professor whipped up,” Amy explained. “I high-tailed it down here as quick as I could.” Leela nodded curtly. “Thanks – I’m not sure I had much more in me; better turn that off around all this gunpowder, though.” Amy complied.
“Thanks for the help, Fry,” Leela said half-sarcastically as she turned around. “Fry?” she asked again with a worried voice when there was no response.
“You seemed to be doing okay,” Fry finally said as he unfolded himself from where he had dropped near the bulkhead.
Leela grinned at him and then ran over to the bomb as she heard it say, “Ninety-Four seconds to detonation…” Leela toggled the device back to standby, and sighed.
Fry came and stood next to her. She turned her eye on him. “So is this going according to your plan?”
“Nope,” he cheerfully said. “I thought I’d do a little better in the fight, to be honest.”
Leela rolled her eye.
Fry gave Kif the trigger code and asked him to stand guard over the bomb. They then dragged Cambrien’s nerveless body up topside, and discovered the battle was over. The harbor patrol ships were making sail for the wharfs along the dock-front, and in the air Cyberian raiders circled, but carefully kept their distance from the pirate flotilla.
“I think they’re taking you seriously,” Leela told Fry with some amazement.
“Good,” he said. “Now I need to address the pirates.”
“Here,” Leela said, fiddling with her wrist-thingy. She detached a small round pebble. “I’ve slaved this microphone to the Planet Express’ exterior loudspeakers.” She handed the mike to Fry. “It should carry your voice.”
Fry took the little black object from Leela and looked at it like it was venomous Venusian crawler. He looked up at the pirates of the Matei Pavel, who mobbed the rigging and decks of the ship to stare at him, and Leela and Bender at the foot of the landing stairs of the Planet Express ship. He saw, beyond them, pirate ships maneuvering around and more crews watching the action on Smilin’ Pratt’s ship. His stomach fluttered in fear.
He also saw Leela smiling at him in encouragement, and he drew the strength he needed from her beautiful face.
“Fellow pirates!” Fry said loudly, and then winced as feedback shrieked. He coughed, and tried again. “Sorry – fellow pirates. My name is Fry; some of you know me.” Fry waved to a few of the Matei Pavel’s crew. “You also know that the Captain…Captain Pratt trusted me.” He looked down at his feet and then looked up again. “I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was a good idea. But he left something important in my hands, and I think that we pirates need to talk about it. I ask you for two simple things – first, a meeting of the Pirate Brethren. Right here, on this ship, at fifteen bells. Second, listen to me. Just give me a chance. After the Pirate Council meets, we can start again. But please listen to me.”
Fry took a deep breath, and stared out into the pirates. They started to cheer.
Leela put her hand on his back and rubbed it gently. “Maybe this is going to work.”
He turned and put his arms around her waist. “We’ve got two hours until fifteen bells. What do you want to do until then?”
Leela smiled, put her arms around his neck and leaned in, whispering in his ear, “You could really use a bath, you know.”
“I’m walking on sunshine, oh oh, and hmmm hmmm!” Fry sang off-key from the shower in the captain’s cabin.
Leela sat cross-legged on her bed, listening to Fry sing and smiling to herself. Whatever happens, I’ll always have times like this, she thought to herself. Fry was such an open, honest person. He wasn’t…complicated. What you see is what you get. But what you get is special.
Not for the first time, Leela mentally kicked herself for hesitating for so long. What was I thinking? I’m happier now than – well, ever. I have my ship, my Fry and I know my parents. In fact, my only regret is that I haven’t gotten to tell them about Fry; they always liked him.
Leela blushed as she thought about the ‘girl talk’ she had with her mother after the dinner where Fry had stopped a hallucinating, rampaging Bender. Turanga Munda had been quite explicit about what her daughter should do with the twentieth-century man…
Fry came out of the shower, towel wrapped around himself awkwardly. “You know, this hook thing isn’t as easy to use as you would think,” he said, trying to keep the towel from slipping down with one hook while holding his clothes in his hand.
Leela laughed, harder than she had in weeks. “I told you the Professor had the handcrafter gear set up in his lab. Let’s get you a new hand.”
Fry shook his head. “I want to have the hook for the Pirate Council meeting; that way maybe they’ll think of me as one of their own.”
Leela stood up and grabbed him around the waist. “Good thinking, Fry.” She reddened slightly when she realized she hadn’t been able to keep a note of surprise from her voice.
“It’s okay, Leela,” Fry assured her. “Thinking isn’t my strong suite.”
“You’ve been doing okay so far,” she said, smiling.
“Thanks,” he said quietly. Fry looked into her eye for a long moment. Then, almost with one movement, they closed their eyes and leaned into each other and –
“Leela!” The communicator on her wrist squawked.
Fry let out a frustrated groan as Leela pulled away from him with a quick, apologetic look. She spoke into her wrist-thingy. “Leela here. What’s wrong, Hermes?”
“I dink the Pirate Council is gettin’ ready to start, Leela. Is Fry wid you?”
“Yeah,” she said with a glance at Fry. “It’s not supposed to be for another hour.”
Fry sighed. “Nobody said pirates were punctual.”
Fry pulled on his shirt, and hopping on one foot, started to put his shorts on. Leela hid a smirk behind one hand and turned around to give him some privacy.
“I think LaBarbara will sew the collar back on my red jacket; she offered – ”
Leela turned around as Fry was zipping up his jeans and put a finger on his lips. “Shh. I think you should wear this.” She pulled a velvet greatcoat from under her bed. “I caught Bender trying to sneak it out of the captain’s cabin aboard the Matei Pavel – I suppose it was Pratt’s. I…” She broke off, gathered her thoughts and spoke again. “I don’t know what happened between you two, Fry, but I think he would have wanted you to wear it.”
Leela handed him the greatcoat, holding her breath. Fry took it and studied it, a strange expression on his face. He looked up and smiled. “Thank you very much, Leela.” He shook it open, and with Leela’s help he put it on.
“That should impress the hell out of this Pirate Council,” she said finally, looking him over. Personally, I think it’s a little gaudy, she thought to herself, but when in New Mars Vegas…
Fry smoothed down the lace trim on his cuffs. “Interesting! Looks like something Liberace would have worn.”
“I remember his coat being more sparkly in the museum tour,” Leela said. “Well, this is what we got. It looks…good…on you.”
Fry struck a pose with his hook out. Leela suppressed a chuckle, shaking her head. “Come on, ham bone.” Her expression turned serious. “You haven’t told me what you plan to do at this meeting, Fry.”
“Convince the pirates to work with the cyborgs. Convince the cyborgs to work with the pirates. Reverse eight hundred years of history. Something like that.”
Anxiety gripped Leela. “Fry, do you think – ”
“I don’t know, Leela,” Fry said, anticipating her question. “But like you said, what other choice do we have?”
Run, Leela thought to herself. I should take him now and run. Some dark part of her said, There’s no reason for us to risk ourselves for these people. There’s no reason for me to risk *him* for these people. Take your happiness and run, Leela!
But I would never be able to look myself in the mirror again. She pushed the thoughts down, afraid that Fry would see them in her eye.
“Not many choices,” she finally said to him. “Not many at all.”
A quick visit to the medical lab – while Dr. Zoidberg was distracted diving for fish – fixed Fry and Leela’s injuriesand the two headed over to the Matei Pavel, which was tied to a bobbing Planet Express ship.
Five pirates sat in disheveled finery on the main deck, seats arranged in a semi-circle. A sixth seat was drawn up, but empty – Pratt’s seat, Fry surmised. Behind them, pirates from the Matei Pavel and beyond crowded on crates and barrels, and hung from rigging lines and netting. All eyes were focused on Fry – and Cambrien.
The cyborg was off to the side of the semi-circle, bound tightly and seated on a chair. Leela approached her and asked, “Comfy?”
Cambrien stared at her coolly. “What have you secured me with?”
“Diamondium thread,” Leela said. “Practically unbreakable. Although feel free to try.”
“Don’t try using that delta-wave thingy, either,” Fry added, “if you have one. I’m immune. Do relay what I’m about to say to the rest of the cyborgs, though.”
Fry turned to the assembled pirates, took a deep breath, and starting talking.