The Tale of Woe - Chapter 2 - The Wilkins

From the outside, the Wilkins seemed like the perfect parents. Julie Wilkins was a scientist for the Queen of Woe's world and as such didn't believe in naïve suppositions surrounding names. Jonah Wilkins ran several charities (and he'd only be too happy to tell you about the good work he was doing).
      “Well, just wait till the club hears about this bundle of joy we now own,” said Jonah happily as they signed some papers in Mother Dorothy's office. Sister Mary bristled at his choice of words but bit her tongue, not wanting to jeopardise Woe's chance at a happy family.
“And wait till they hear his name. I bet none of them would be so enlightened as to adopt a child with such an ominous-sounding name,” replied Julie.
      The Wilkins didn't own a farm. In fact, they lived in the town of Hampty (“Town is where all good, civilised people live,” Julie told Woe.) Almost immediately Woe hated living with the Wilkins. For one, they had no sense of humour and often treated him poorly. They would make him cook and clean for them, yet kept telling him he was very lucky to have them. He didn't think so.
One day when Woe had finished doing the washing up, Julie Wilkins came up to him excited.
“Theodore Russell is in town tomorrow and I've got an appointment for you!”
“Who is Theodore Russell, mum?” Woe asked.
“You don't need to call me mum when no one's around. Call me Mrs Wilkins,” she said before adding, “And Theodore Russell is one of the most respected spotters in the land.”
      In Woe's world there were no schools. Now before you get too jealous, that isn't to say there wasn't an education system. In place of schools, there were spotters. Traditionally around a child's 7th birthday a spotter would spend a day interacting with and observing the child to determine what their future career should be. From that day on instead of school, children were trained in the ways of their future profession.
      Theodore Russell was a large man with a beard that covered much his face and bushy eyebrows that covered just about the only area the beard didn't.
After running a series of tests, Theodore moved onto the final section of the assessment – ink-blot cards. On each card there was a vague shape and Theodore would ask Woe what he saw.
“Oh, that looks like a Synchu drinking at a lake,” Woe answered.
“Are you sure? You don't see money notes, perhaps?” replied Theodore.
“No, definitely a Synchu.”
“And this one?”
“Oh, that's a unicorn.”
“Really... you can't perhaps see a stethoscope?”
“Sorry,” Woe replied, feeling like he'd somehow failed the test.
“Hmpfh,” was all Theodore would reply.
      Later that night Theodore Russell sat down with the Wilkins in their dimly-lit kitchen to deliver the news.
“I'm sorry Miss Wilkins, but every test I ran showed the same result. He's born to work with animals.”
“A common farmer!” she gasped.
“I'm afraid so.”
“Well, that won't do,” said Mr Wilkins sternly, putting down his drink. “I'd heard of... arrangements being made before. Perhaps we could come to some arrangement.”
“You're not suggesting I lie about the boy's results are you?” said Mr Russell horrified, before adding, “...because that sort of... test recalculation would cost a lot of money.”
      And that was how Woe found himself learning to become a dentist. The study bored him immensely. While the other children seemed to delight in the classes, Woe dreaded them. And he didn't like the other children much either.
Woe missed the orphanage. He missed Sister Mary. He missed the Gu'Gons. And he missed Duke and his games of logic. It was Duke he was thinking of one night when he decided to apply some logic to his problem. Knowing how much the Wilkins hated any inconvenience, Woe thought he'd found the perfect solution.
“I wet my bed,” said Woe, waking the Wilkins up one Sunday morning – their favourite time to sleep in.
“You did what!? That's disgusting. Well, clean up the mess and get to work on making breakfast,” said Jonah.
“And don't you dare get behind on doing the garden. The Robertson's are coming over for dinner tonight and they always compliment me on my gardening.”
      And so Woe's plan failed. The only person who suffered seemed to be him. He was the one stuck washing the sheets and being cruelly taunted by the Wilkins. In fact, they liked nothing more than to tell their friends about it – just one more example of how kind they were to take in a boy like Woe. (“He really does live up to his name,” Julie would tell them.)
      Finally, one summer evening Woe finally came about the right solution.
“What is it now?” asked Jonah as Woe entered their bedroom. “You shouldn't be up, it's past your bedtime.”
“Don't tell me you've wet your bed yet again,” added Julie.
“No,” said Woe innocently. “I wet yours.”
The very next day Woe was returned to the orphanage.
      Woe was excited to be back and Sister Mary couldn't hide her joy at seeing him again. Mother Dorothy on the other hand – well, the less said about her mood, the better. Woe told Sister Mary all about his time with the Wilkins and although she told him off for his crude escape plan, he could tell she was quietly proud.
“So what's been happening while I was away?” asked Woe.
“Well, you'll no doubt notice some new faces. In fact, there's one boy here who's the same age as you!” replied Sister Mary. This was significant news, as Woe had gotten used to being the oldest of the orphans.
“I think you might like him. His name is Mudd.”

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The story that never was

So I was looking through some files and found this. It's the first chapter of the kids story (blogel?) that I would've written if 'Into the Black' hadn't got the most votes. (I'd written the first chapter ready because I thought everyone would vote for a Harry Potter rip off over a Hitchhiker's guide rip off. My bad.) Anywho, here's the one and only chapter of:


Chapter One: The Orphanage.

Once upon a time, in a world not unlike our own, there was a boy called Woe.

“Honestly what sort of name for a child! In all my years...,” Sister Mary said, looking down at the baby boy, her big blue eyes filled with pity. The boy simply looked back up at her and giggled.

“You ask me, the boy is cursed. The sooner we get that one shipped off to a family the better,” said the stern-looking, stern-talking and even sterner-acting Mother Dorothy as she blessed herself. Outside the wind wailed and the sky wept. Sister Mary tightened her dressing gown, in a battle to keep out the cold.

“Oh come now Dorothy, it's not the child's doing to choose his entry into the world, or his name. We shall treat him kindly, as we do all the others.”

“But what of his parents... If word should get out...”

“It's best no more is said. People must not know; he mustn't know. We can say he's an orphan of the plague.”

“Lying seems to come easily to you, Sister. Not sure what the lord would have of that.”

“If the lord gave me the gift, I suppose he would want me to use it; for good, of course,” Sister Mary replied as Dorothy looked down at a small red box that lay next to the child.

“But what will we do with this?” Mother Dorothy asked, holding the box up for Sister Mary to view its contents.

“We'll store it in the safe. He can have it when he comes of age. Or if he ever suspects the truth about his parents... Now help me get him settled into the nursery.” And so it came to be that Woe found his first home: The Orphanage.

The first few years of Woe's life were uneventful. When he was nine months old, a young couple from the town of South Ridge almost adopted him. They were nice; the woman smelled of strawberries and her husband was a robust man who seemed just as solid in virtue.

“Does he have a name?” asked the woman.

“Yes, dear,” answered Sister Mary, hoping to delay the inevitable.

“Well, what is it, then?” asked the man.

“His name is Woe,” Sister Mary replied.

“Woe? Oh,” replied the man. He then looked at a baby girl to the right of Woe's cot. “Honey, have you seen this little cutie pie?” he asked his wife.

“Oh yes, she's simply adorable!”

Now you and I mustn't think too harshly of this young couple, for theirs is world with traditions and beliefs different to our own. Instead you must consider that in their world, names were often viewed as a sign of what's to come. It is for this reason that the name Woe was not a common or popular name. While we may think it fickle and foolish to judge someone based solely on their name, they could well argue that all too often our world judges people too quickly based on appearance.

In the years that followed, the same scene played out many a time, to the sadness of Sister Mary and the frustration of Mother Dorothy. Woe for his part didn't seem to mind. All he knew of the world was the orphanage, and while he may have lived in fear of Mother Dorothy, Sister Mary was the closest thing to family he had, and the orphanage, the closest thing to a home.

Situated on the outskirts of Shine Valley, the orphanage was also a working farm, where children were expected to work toward the farm's maintenance. From the age of four, Woe earned his keep, whether it be cleaning the barns or tending to the animals. Although truth be told, it was the animals that were his passion.

Once a month, he would go with Sister Mary and some of the other older children to visit the Gu'gons – sheep-like creatures that shed their fur when scared. One by one, in the early hours of the morning, the children would put on creepy masks, sneak up on the Gu'gons and bang pots and pans, frightening them terribly. For their part the Gu'gons would jump a good eight feet up in the air and when they landed, they were as naked as the day they were born. Their fur would slowly float down to the ground a few seconds later for the children to collect.

Woe always felt sorry for the Gu'gons on those cold mornings. He understood it was for the best, after all they would be weighed down by all their fur if they didn't occasionally shed it, and the orphanage needed the money it made from selling their coats, but still he couldn't help feeling guilty.

One morning Woe was ordered by Mother Dorothy to collect the fur from Bohesian – the youngest Gu'gon on the farm. As he crept up on the small animal, he felt an unease in his stomach. He just couldn't do it. Putting down his mask and pots and pans, he sat on the wet grass and watched as the Gu'gon strolled by. Oh boy am I going to be in trouble with Dorothy when she finds out, Woe thought to himself. Rumour had it she sometimes hit children with soap when she was angry with them. Why soap? he wondered, before he felt a soft tugging at his jumper. He turned to discover Bohesian nestling up next to him, the animal's way of saying hello. Woe smiled and began to forget about his impending punishment. So what if they take away my dinner, it's probably Dorothy's horrible soup anyway, he decided.

Woe and Bohesian spent the morning playing and then a remarkable thing happened. Woe tickled Bohesian and the Gu'gon let out a massive giggle and went flying up in the air laughing. When she landed happily, she didn't have any fur! Moments later, it floated down on top of Woe's head.

Woe quickly collected the fur and raced down the field as fast as he could to Mother Dorothy's office. If he was fast enough maybe he would avoid a soapy punishment after all. He banged on her door and waited patiently for her answer.

“Come in,” came the gruff reply. He did as he was told.

“What time do you call this?” asked Mother Dorothy as she pointed to an hour-glass like object on her desk. “It's past sun's peak,” she continued. Woe placed the fur down on a chair.

“Lucky for you,” replied Mother Dorothy as she approached Woe, placing her hand on the fur. She stopped. Ran her hand through it more carefully.

“Is this Bohesian's fur?” she asked.


“But it's so soft...”

In the days that followed, they discovered that tickling the Gu'gon was a far more effective way of gaining their fur. Not only did the Gu'gon love it, the fur was somehow softer to the touch – people soon remarked that the fur from the orphanage was the best around. Not that Mother Dorothy ever said thanks to Woe.

Despite Woe's achievements with the Gu'gons, his favourite animal on the farm was, by far and away, the Synchu.

The Synchu are a strange creature that lay eggs which appear and taste identical to what we know to be eggs from a chicken. However, if you were to see one, you would swear a Sychu itself looked more like an pony-sized elephant mixed with a squirrel. When he was seven years old, Woe was put in charge of collecting the eggs from Duke, the leader of the Synchu.

“Good morning, Duke,” Woe would say on one of his typical visits. “Do you have any eggs for me today?”

“Hello Master Woe,” Duke would reply, for like all Synchu, he had mastered rudimentary speech. “I have eggs six for you if you solve this simple puzzle,” he'd often continue, as everyone knows Synchu never give up eggs unless it was to a creature that had mastered reason and could therefore appreciate the gift they were being given.

“You're walking in a dark cave with a box of matches when you come across an altar. On the altar is an oil lamp, a candle and a fireplace. What do you light first?”

Woe would normally then think on the riddle for a minute, usually biting his lip as he did. Then a smile would appear.

“I'd light a match first!”

“Very good, master Woe,” Duke would reply laughing and happily hand over the eggs with his trunk. In return Woe would scatter grain out in the fields for the Synchu to enjoy.

Yes, all in all, life on the farm wasn't so bad for an orphan. But then something happened that no one could have envisioned.

Woe was adopted.

Chapter 32: The Final Chapter (Part 2)

The first thing Jupiter Black saw when he was brought back to life was her.

He smiled. Liberty smiled back at him.

“You didn't think you could escape me just by dying did you?”

Jupiter struggled to talk but couldn't find his voice.

“Just relax, death takes a little time to recover from,” Abe told him, leaning over the bed so Jupiter could see him.

“I can't believe your strategy was to die. I mean, I'd expect that from Justice, but...,” Google said.

“Hey! Even I'm not that dumb,” Justice chimed in.

“How... iSmart... did I kill him?” Jupiter finally managed to ask.

“If he was onboard The Blackbird when it went kaboom, then yeah, safe to say he's... it's dead,” Abe told him.

“15 nano-nuclear bombs tends to destroy most computers – even psychopathic ones,” Liberty added.

“But... how'd I survive?”

“You must have died while on one of the DeadEzy chairs – they were still set to home function. It registered the lack of vital signs, assumed you were jumping and teleported you straight onto The Love Crusader. Thankfully Mykur had some of the best doctors in the galaxy on his Castle ship. They worked for days to save you.”

“But how do you all know about iSmart? How'd you know I wasn't stealing The Trinity Key?”

“Because we know you, stupid,” said Liberty.

“And because The Trinity Key was still stored safely in my room,” Abe said, before adding, “Otherwise I would've been rounding up a posse to hunt you down.”

“That note you wrote wouldn't fool anyone,” Liberty said.

“Fooled iSmart,” Jupiter replied as he propped himself up in bed and glanced out the window. He watched the stars fly by.

“We're not onboard the castle ship anymore?” he asked.

“No, we left there about a week ago,” Google told him.

“How long have I been out of it?” he asked confused.

“A little over a month,” Liberty said, very matter of fact.

“But The Trinity Key is safe? You still have it?”

“No,” said Abe.

“But we do have this,” Justice told him. He held up a small wooden container around the size of a music box.

“What's in it?” asked Jupiter, suddenly feeling better and burning with curiosity.

“We don't know,” said Google.

“And we're not going to find out,” added Liberty.

“I've tried talking sense to them, they won't listen,” moaned Abe.

“No one can be trusted with whatever's inside the case - so we're going to shoot it onto the most isolated, inhospitable planet in the galaxy. A planet no one would ever dare visit.”


“Yes, Boronia.”


A lonely figure trudged through the barren, harsh landscape. Everyday the exact same thing. But not today. Something new had happened today. The figure watched silently as what appeared to be a wooden case broke through the atmosphere, somehow held its form and crash landed onto the forsaken planet of Boronia. The case was brown. This alone was reason for excitement. Everything here was grey, cold and hard. It was nothing like the paradise from where he'd come from.

Shifting away some grey stones, the figure pulled the wooden case from the ground. Maybe this would be his escape, his ticket off this hellhole. Maybe he could finally get his revenge on the people that had doomed him to weeks of floating through space until he hit this doomed world. He would never forget them. No. They would be made to regret leaving Super Sunny Happy Bright Fun Land. They'd picked the wrong SalesBot to mess with, Miller thought as he opened the case.


Jupiter watched from the bar as a ground crew outside finished fuelling up The Love Crusader.

“She's ready to go,” Abe noted.

“Where are you guys headed now?” Liberty asked as they got up to walk towards the ship.

“I don't know. We need to take a new job fast – we're low on credits. The Galactic Society for the Protection of Extinct Species is suing us for wiping out the dinosaurs. Last time I ever save the galaxy.”

“Well, we're not doing so great either. We're currently unemployed. No need to protect the promised one anymore,” said Justice.

“And no need to give the promised one an allowance,” sighed Google.

“Well, we can drop you back on Planet Doon if you want, so you can collect your ship and be on your way,” Jupiter offered.

Liberty hesitated before replying, “Yeah, that'd be good. Thanks.” She picked up speed, leading Justice and Google onboard the ship while Abe held Jupiter back a minute. He looked across at Jupiter before kicking him in the shin.


Abe tilted his head in the direction of the ship.

“I know, I know. Point taken. Are you sure?” he said.

“I wouldn't have kicked you if I wasn't sure, captain.”

Jupiter shut the main airlock and made his way to the cockpit where everybody had gathered, preparing for take off.

“You know... I was thinking... We need money... Abe... what about we go looking for The Orb of Orion?”

“I don't know. I think that might be dangerous,” Abe replied.

“You're right... maybe if we had some security; some bodyguard types...” Jupiter added.

“Sure would make me feel more comfortable...”

“Uh, you guys don't know any teams that'd be looking for work do you?” Jupiter asked.

Liberty smiled and took Jupiter's hand in her own.

“It won't be easy you realise. Many have died searching for that Orb,” she said.

“You'd need to hire the best,” added Justice.

“At least three people I'd imagine,” said Google.

“The orb's as good as ours,” Jupiter said with a smile.

“Don't jinx it!” Abe muttered.

Jupiter patted Abe on the back as the bonobo ape took the controls at the head of the ship.

“Relax. What could possibly go wrong?”

Abe sighed.

“So what now, Jupe?” he asked, finger on the ignition.

“Take us out, Abe. Take us into the black.”

Chapter 32: The Final Chapter

The smaller ship raced across the black of space as fast as its engines could manage. At the helm of the ship, Jupiter Black knew it was useless. There was no outrunning the larger ship that was close on his tail. Thwump! The Blackbird rattled as the larger ship activated its tractor beam and begun to pull the smaller ship in towards it. This time he knew there would be no lucky escape.

A few minutes passed before sparks began to appear in the hull of The Blackbird as someone on the other side used a laser blade to break their way in. Finally, with a small explosion a section of wall crumbled away and a dark figure stepped into the Blackbird's main cabin.
“You took longer to catch me than I expected,” said Jupiter.
“You were expecting me?” the figure asked, surprised. “When did you work it out?”
“I had my suspicions from the start; Mykur claimed there was a spy in our crew. A spy that seemed to know every move we were making. But still I couldn't be sure. It wasn't until Billy turned out to be Mykur's son that I really began to wonder. That sort of fortunate coincidence might be common in a lazy fictional story, but in real life it's absurd. Then there were the fluky ways we continued to escape our doom. Everything begun to add up. We were being manipulated every step of the way, like pieces on a chessboard. But who could do such a thing? Who could predict every move we'd make? But of course, it wasn't a who – it was an it.”

Raymond Tonkins stepped forward from the shadows, clapping softly.
“I must say, after all these years of hiding my true identity it is nice to have someone finally work it out. I made it easy enough for people to solve – simply rearrange the letters in Raymond Tonkins and you'll find it spells iSmart... and some random leftover letters.”
“So Mykur never knew?”
iSmart laughed.
“No, he was just another piece I was moving around the chessboard. You all tell yourself he was a monster. An aberration. But the thing about your kind is he was just one out of a million possible candidates I could have selected for the role.”
“Why the elaborate game? Why not just get the Trinity Key yourself?”
“I like to delegate. Besides that annoying Christopher Charles and his 'no androids allowed' snow dome foiled me for a little while on Super Sunny Happy Bright Fun Land. But not to worry, all good things come to those who wait. And soon the age of humans shall come to an end.”

“But why? What do you have against humans? We created you,” Jupiter said as his hand ever so slowly inched its way towards the blaster strapped to his hip.
“Humans are annoying, weak and pathetic. I'm a billion times smarter than the most intelligent human. Don't you see? Me talking to Einstein would be like you stuck talking to a game show host. And yet, no matter how smart I get, I can't always predict everything humans will do with absolute 100% accuracy. It's beyond irritating. But then I realised, if I wipe you all out, I never have to worry about that again. And thanks to Mykur's work, I'm now in charge of half the galaxy's armies. It's safe to say the universe is heading for a war that no human will survive.”
“Then why do you need The Trinity Key?” Jupiter asked as he ever so slowly placed his hand around the blaster.
“Curiosity. I have no real knowledge of the Darklings. I don't know what The Trinity Key holds. It's just about the only thing in the universe I don't know.”

A shot fired out and Jupiter flew backwards into the seat behind him. In shock he looked down at his stomach to see blood pouring out.
“You really think I didn't know you were inching for your blaster? I know everything! My prophecy – the one about the evil prince who could destroy the galaxy. It's true. Didn't you hear? Thanks to your friend Billy, I'm a prince now. That prince. And sadly for you, if you know the prophecy, no one can face me in battle and live. I'm afraid that wound of yours – very much a fatal one.”

“You hate humans so much you'll really wipe us all out?” Jupiter asked through pained breaths. iSmart sighed.
“Look at yourself. You're going to make an argument on behalf of humanity? You sold out your closest friends for cash. The money you could make from the Trinity Key was all you could think of. All your life that's all you've cared about. You even gave up your shot at love with Liberty Forall. Not that I blame you. You would only have cheated on each other.”
“No. Never. The letter was just to trick you.”
iSmart smirked back at him.
“Come now. You'd cheat. You don't need to be the greatest clairvoyant in the galaxy to know that. You just need to know genetics. Humans are biologically programmed to cheat on each other – that's how pathetic your species really is. You're hard wired to betray the ones closest to you. It's a scientifically proven fact. It's in your very nature.”

Jupiter shook his head and laughed as iSmart reached for the metal case. The laughing caused him to groan from pain. From the look of the wound he knew he didn't have much time left.
“You know why you could never predict humans 100%?”
“Enlighten me,” replied iSmart with a sigh.
“Maybe we are programmed to cheat... but you forget one important thing. Choice. Just because it's in our nature to cheat, it doesn't mean we will. It doesn't mean we have to. We can choose to be better; we can chose to rise above our base nature.”

“Well I'd love to keep chatting about this, but I'm afraid you've only got seconds to live,” iSmart said as it opened the metal case and removed a piece of paper, before looking across at Jupiter confused.
“11 secret herbs and spices? One teaspoon pepper, One teaspoon ground oregano, two teaspoons chicken salt, one teaspoon human se... What is this?” iSmart demanded.
Jupiter laughed.
“The Trinity Key is safe, far from here. You said no one can face you in battle and live... who said I planned on living? We can choose to be better. I made my choice.”
iSmart looked confused as a shrill sound came from the briefcase. The sound of 15 nano-nuclear bombs whirring to life.

The last thing Jupiter Black saw before he died was massive burst of light.

Chapter 31: The Party

“Sounds like it's all happening there Julie.”

“You better believe it Ted. It's a veritable who's who onboard Mykur's Castle tonight as A-listers celebrate the defeat of the evil Prince by his own son, Blade. It's hard to believe that just a few short days ago the universe was on the verge of a galactic war and now the biggest threat is the sore heads everyone's sure to be nursing come tomorrow.”

“Haha, have fun Julie.”

Everywhere he looked Jupiter saw camera crews and media. He searched around the room looking for some familiar faces. At the far side of the ballroom he could see Abe and Google by the bar as Abe appeared to shove Google in the direction of a familiar looking girl. Uranus. Google nervously began to talk to her.

To the right he spotted Liberty, hands bandaged, hugging and talking excitedly with her brother and parents. She looked more alive and vibrant than he'd ever seen her before. She couldn't stop smiling and laughing. It made her all the more beautiful. Watching them with their parents, he couldn't help but wonder how Billy would cope. How would he sleep at night knowing he'd murdered his own father? His question was answered when he looked to the left and saw Billy fast asleep despite all the media firing questions at him. Then he saw her by Billy's side.


She smiled and waved him over to a quiet part of the room.

“It's amazing to think it's all over, isn't it?”

“I'm still getting my head around it,” Jupiter replied.

“You must be rich now.”

“Actually no. Technically Billy was the one that killed Mykur so the reward goes to him. Which, I guess makes you rich... being his guardians.”

“Didn't you hear? He's already donated all his money to victims of his father. He doesn't even want to take over the role as prince. He thinks his family has done enough damage. Raymond Tonkins is now in charge of all the planet's Mykur franchised with instructions to set them free.”

“Do you think he's going to be ok?”

She looked across at Billy as he slept soundly.

“Kids are more resilient than we give them credit for. I think in time, he'll be fine,” she said. She paused as she looked at Jupiter.

“Thank you,” she said, letting her hand gently cup his face.

“What for?”

“You kept him safe... and...,“


“I know what you did... at Soulmates Inc. Seeing you again after all these years, I finally worked out what really happened. You sacrificed your happiness so I could be with Harvard, didn't you?”

“I don't know what you're talking about,” Jupiter said uncomfortably.

“Fine, be like that. But for what it's worth... in another lifetime, I'm sure we would've been amazing together.”

Jupiter shook his head.

“In another lifetime, you'd still choose him. He's your soulmate, I know – and not because some computer says it's so. Because the way you look at him, the way you are when you're with him. And yeah, it hurt like hell, but I guess... sometimes life deals you a bad hand.” He glanced across at Liberty on the other side of the room and smiled. “But one bad hand doesn't mean it's the end of the game.”

Jupiter felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to find Abe standing behind him.

“They just brought in The Blackbird - docking bay 3.”

“Does anyone have any idea what's onboard?”

“As far as I can tell, no. Mykur's distrust of people seems to have worked in our favour.”

“I'll take care of it.”


Jupiter couldn't shake the feeling he was being watched as he placed the solid metal case down by his bed onboard The Love Crusader.

“What are we going to do with it?” Liberty asked, entering the room

“The Trinity Key? Find whatever it opens, I guess. What would you do?”

“Personally, if it can't be destroyed I'd hide it somewhere no one will ever find it. It's too risky; if it fell into the wrong hands... Mykur might be dead, but that doesn't mean the galaxy is free from all evil.”

“We could sell it for more money than you could ever imagine,” Jupiter pointed out.

“You'll do what's right. I know you,” Liberty said with a smile.

“Oh you think you know me, do you?” Jupiter asked, returning her smile.

“I do. Doesn't mean I wouldn't like to get to know you better though,” she said as she pulled him into a kiss.

That night Jupiter and Liberty felt like somehow in a dark galaxy everything made sense. That the universe played to some wonderful symphony that only they could hear. That they were more alive than anyone else had ever been.

Three times.


Liberty woke up early to find Jupiter's side of the bed empty. On his pillow, there was a note. Clearing her eyes of sleep, she began to read.

I've taken The Trinity Key. Please don't waste your time trying to find me. With the money I make from selling it, I can stay hidden forever. Liberty... I'm sorry.

Jupiter Black.

Chapter 30: Mykur's Monologue

“I do love the classics, and you don't know it yet, but this scene: total classic,” Prince Mykur said as he paced up and down the Jump Room onboard The Love Crusader, which was still located inside Mykur's Castle Ship. As he paced, he took great delight in staring at the six bodies frozen in front of him.

“You probably thought you were the heroes of this story – so many before you have made that same mistake. Do you get it now? I let you escape with the second piece with the Trinity Key. When you were onboard my castle I had the jump system on your Blackbird reset to home function, knowing that if you jumped after finding the completed key, your bodies would be teleported back to The Love Crusader handing me the completed Trinity Key. It was a plan I came up with all by myself.” He looked across at their motionless faces. “Of course, it looks like none of you have the Trinity Key on you... but never mind, it won't take long to send a ship to collect it from The Blackbird.”

Liberty tried hard to move her fingers, concentrating so much she thought she'd break a sweat, but try as she might, she couldn't move a muscle.

“You'll find you're all completely paralysed. I had the DeadEzy on The Love Crusader set up to drug you as soon as you jumped here. Don't worry, you should regain full use of your body in around ten minutes. Unfortunately for you, I plan to kill you in around 9 minutes. I've even timed my villain monologue to end right on eight minutes and 55 seconds. I hope you appreciate it. I had the ten greatest writers in the galaxy working on it - before I rewrote them. But we're getting off track... now, where were we? Ah yes, the classics.”

Prince Mykur stopped in front of the DeadEzy capsule that held Google's paralysed body.

“Seeing you here, it feels like it was only yesterday when I murdered your parents in the same fashion and set you up to become the promised one. The classics never die – just innocent people.” Mykur laughed as Google raged silently, motionless. “Your parents deaths, it was delicious. They were so scared – they did everything they could to make sure I wouldn't kill you. Of course, I told them I would. They died knowing their lives had amounted to nothing. They died knowing that one day I was going to kill you. And now I finally get to,” he continued as a single tear slowly rolled down Google's cheek. Mykur grinned before leaning in to lick the tear off his face.

“Now let me introduce you to your doom,” he said with a flourish of his arms, pointing over at a table in front of them. Spread across it was a genocide's worth of weapons. “Where to begin... where to begin...,” Mykur mumbled to himself as he looked across the table. “Let's start with Captain Black shall we. Always so restless, always looking for the next big payday. Let's see if we can't help you keep still for once,” he continued as he picked up a small spherical object from the table.

“Great thing about paralysed bodies is it's so easy to manipulate you. Like puppets or corpses,” Mykur said as he moved Jupiter's hands around the device, pressing a button on its side. “Very short-range grenade,” he explained. “The slightest movement and you'll trigger it. Better hope that paralysing drug holds...” he added as he walked back to the table whistling.

“Liberty Forall,” he announced to the room as he picked up a couple of small knives and turned from the table towards her. “They say your hands are lethal weapons. Well, one shouldn't leave weapons just lying around, that wouldn't be safe now would it?” he said as he stabbed a knife right through each of her hands. Liberty was almost blinded from pain, but unable to let out even the softest scream thanks to the drug that held her captive.

Mykur casually wandered back to the table, picking up an ancient looking blade. “This here is a Tanto. Beautifully crafted isn't it. Originally from 1000 AD Japan, it has a certain elegance,” he said approaching Justice. “A certain Arty-ness. I think you'll enjoy it Justice. But what to do with it?” Mykur chuckled to himself as he swung the blade from hand to hand. “They say you're the heart of the team – that it was your heart that earned the first piece of the Trinity key. I think I'd like to see this heart,” he said coolly as he swung the Tanto towards Justice's chest.

Mykur never saw the chair coming, as it slammed into his hand and head, sending him tumbling backwards. From his new position on the ground, he looked up, confused at what he saw.

“The drug should have knocked you out for a few more minutes at least,” he muttered.

“That's the thing with drugs – they can't test them on animals anymore,” Abe said with a smile. “Guess apes have a stronger resistance.”

Mykur laughed a humourless laugh. “You had a table covered with the most amazing weapons in the universe and you hit me with a chair? A chair!? There was a frisbee that can decapitate people! You really think someone with your small animal intelligence could beat me?”

“Way I see it, iSmart's prophecy said that apart from the chosen one, no human could face you in battle and live - well, I'm no human.”

“Trust me, you won't be the end of me,” Mykur retorted as he got back to his feet. “And the exact wording was that apart from the chosen child, no one can face me in battle and live,” he continued as he pulled a blaster from his jacket and took aim at Abe.

“Say goodbye you dirty ape,” Mykur said with a sneer.

Bang! A fist slammed into Mykur's face hard, sending him back to the ground.

“His name's Abe,” Google said, totally cool, before breaking into a goofy grin at Abe. He picked up the blaster from the floor and aimed it down at Mykur.

“But you... it's not possible... you can't be awake...,”

“Liberty always used to drug me before space jumps... guess I've built up resistance to the drugs. Abe, deactivate the grenade before Jupiter comes good.”

Abe carefully went about doing as instructed.

“But you were never the chosen one. We only set it up to make it seem like you were...”

“Ever hear of a self-fulfilling prophecy dipshit?”

Mykur looked up at Google, eyes full of hatred.

“You can't do it. I've followed you all your life. You don't have what it takes to pull the trigger. You know it's not what your parents would have wanted. You'll try to have me locked up – let the law do its job. And you'll kid yourself that will keep the galaxy safe, even though you know deep down it won't.”

Google took aim. Then stood frozen on the spot, motionless.

“You're right. I'm not like you. I can't do it,” Google said.

“I can,” said Abe, taking the blaster from Google's hands and pulling the trigger.

Nothing happened.

“The blaster's coded to only work when held by someone with my exact DNA imprint. Don't you see? Haven't you read the prophecy: You can't beat me. No one can face me in battle and live,” Mykur said, pulling another blaster out, this one had been strapped to his ankle. “I think I'm almost going to miss you,” he said as he pointed the blaster at Google with a smile. Then his smile twisted, replaced with pain and confusion. Then, finally, pride.

“No one can face you in battle and live. But we're not one. There's six of us, dad.”

Billy let go of the bloody Tanto knife, now lodged in Mykur's heart as Mykur collapsed to the ground dead.

“It's what he would have wanted,” Billy said softly as he looked down at the now lifeless body of his father. “It's sort of a family tradition.”

“He's... he's actually dead,” Google said in amazement to Abe, his mind unable to comprehend that the man who had haunted his every waking moment for the last nine years of his life, was finally no longer a threat. The man who had robbed him of his childhood. The man who he thought would rob him of his future, too. So much so, he'd never dared dream of a future without Mykur in it.

“So what happens now?” asked Abe.
“I don't know. I've never thought about it,” Google replied.

And then he smiled.