Chapter 6: Five quarters

The decks of The Love Crusader were quiet, only the gentle hum of the engines could be heard as the ship moved ever closer to Super-Sunny-Happy-Bright-Fun Land. Feeling too on edge to sleep after the encounter with the lions, Jupiter walked the ship looking for something to eat. He was nearly at the kitchen when he saw a thin line of light creeping out from under the door to Liberty's quarters. He knocked on the door.

Walking into the room, he was surprised to see the decoration work Liberty had done.
“Wouldn't it have been easier to just move your bed into the gym?” he asked her, as she worked up a sweat on the treadmill.
“Moving all this equipment was part of workout. Don't worry, I'll move it back when I'm finished,” she said without breaking stride.
“I wasn't worried, but aren't you tired?”
“Of course I'm tired. Do you always ask such stupid questions?”
Jupiter raised his hands up defensively, “Sorry, I'll leave you to it.”
“No I'm sorry,” Liberty said as she pressed the stop button on the treadmill and grabbed her water bottle and towel. “I can get a bit grumpy during workouts. Spot me while I do some weights?”

Jupiter followed her over to the bench as she loaded it up with every available weight and began to lift.
“Why don't you take it a bit easier?”
“Why don't you walk up to Google, put a gun to his head and pull the trigger?”
“I hate making a mess.”
“Do you treat everything as joke?”
“Do you take everything so seriously? What's wrong with a little fun once in a while?”
“Fun gets people killed. Do you know anything of responsibility?” she gasped though deep breaths as she pushed the weight up one last time. “Okay, help me with this,” she added as she strained to put the weight back in its rack above the bench.
“I'm trying,” said Jupiter as he struggled to help. “It's heavy.”
“They're called weights for a reason!”

Finally, they got the weight back in place and Liberty sat up on the bench, patting her neck and arms dry with the towel as Jupiter watched on. “You know, fun may get you killed – but so can stress. You need to relax more.”
Liberty took a sip from her water bottle. “He was only seven when we were assigned to him, you know. He was just a kid, Google. Still is really,” she said as she got up and walked over to the quarter's main viewing window. “Hell, Justice and I were barely adults ourselves back then. And all of a sudden, we're being asked to protect this kid who was still dealing with the trauma of losing his parents. This kid who would wake up crying in the middle of the night, every night. And can you imagine the pressure on him... he's told he's supposed to save the world – he's just a scared little boy who misses his mum and dad. How is it fair? How is any of it fair? He needed guardians as much as he needed guards. We practically raised him. So you want to know why I push myself so hard?”
She turned and looked over at Jupiter, “I'm the best bodyguard in the world, but I don't know if even I'm good enough to save him from Mykur. So, please, tell me again about this fun I should be having.”
Jupiter paused, not quite sure what to say.
“I guess I... Whoa! What... What are you doing?” he said, caught off-guard as Liberty started to remove her singlet.
“What? Do you not shower after a workout? If you're so prudish about the human body perhaps you should leave.”
“Uh yeah, well I was heading to the kitchen anyway. I'll catch you in the morning,” said Jupiter as he turned for the door while trying to look without looking like he was looking.

Backing out of the doorway, he almost stumbled right into Abe, who simply shook his head at Jupiter.
“It's going to be Belle all over again.”
“It's not going to be anything like Belle,” Jupiter said as he followed Abe down the hallway. “And I thought we agreed never to mention her.”
“No, I made you promise never to mention her. I'm free to do what I like,” Abe countered as he entered his quarters.
Abe's room had more plants than the rest of the ship combined and a distinct lack of bed – instead Abe preferred a hammock. Next to the hammock was a work desk, where he wrote his books. Abe walked over to the desk, and poured himself a scotch.
“Helps me sleep,” he said to Jupiter.
“Mind if I pour myself a drink?”
“Go for it,” said Abe as he dunked a banana into his scotch.
“And, just for the record, Liberty's nothing like Belle,” said Jupiter.
“I knew you'd bring up Belle!”
“You brought her up first! I'm worried about you Abe. I think you've been drinking too much scotch lately.”
“Perhaps you're right,” said Abe quietly. “Pass over the vodka?”
Jupiter handed it over as Abe continued, “I just think... You need to keep a clear head. I'm scared, Jupe. This isn't a typical situation. In helping Google, we're going against Mykur - we're going up against almost half of the Intergalactic council. We need to be careful. We can't afford...”
Jupiter took the bottle of Vodka back off Abe and headed for the door.
“I get it Abe. And don't worry, it'll be fine. We get enough money and we get gone. Same as always. I've got no interest in being a hero. Not anymore.”

Making his way from Abe's quarters back into the hall, Jupiter was caught by surprise when the door to the library swished open.
“Oh, hi,” said Justice looking up from his book. “Sorry, I must've forgotten to turn off the door's automatic open function.”
“What are you doing up?” asked Jupiter as he entered the room. “Wait, let me guess, reading up on defense strategies? You guys never rest, do you?”
“Actually I was just enjoying some of the classic texts Abe has in his library. He has all the greats. Some of the ancient words are fascinating. Tell me, what's a Quidditch?”
“No idea.”
“Thank the force,” said Justice. “I thought it was just me.”
“The force... so you're...”
“Yes. I'm a Jedi, like my father before me.”

A long, long time ago someone had mischievously updated the entry on the Star Wars wikipedia entry, changing the listed genre from science-fiction to documentary. The change went unnoticed and was further entrenched many years later when an Intergalactic Video Database officer followed the wikipedia classifications unquestioningly. Over the centuries, the Star Wars films again found popularity. With many people believing they were watching real life events, the Jedi religion soon began to find favour around the galaxy. Perhaps most surprisingly, out of all religions, it resulted in the least violence and war – even when taking into account the dark side fundamentalists.

“Do you follow the original testament or the prequel testament?” Jupiter asked.
“Original testament. The prequel testament is revisionist rubbish. Midi-chlorians in our blood? Nonsense. The Force is all around us.”
“I don't know kid. I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. No mystical energy field controls my destiny. So is that why you signed up for the academy? The Force willed it?”
“No, my parents willed it. I'm not like Liberty – I wasn't born for this. I just couldn't say no.”
“You dedicate your life to saving the chosen one, simply because you couldn't say no?”
“Yes. I mean no. I dedicated my life to it, because someone has to. It's the right thing to do. It's just unfortunately for me, I'm the one for the job. And even then, it's only because my sister's the best and I'm the only one who can keep her in line.”
“Speaking of your sister... is she... well, sensible?”
“No, she likes guys as much as I do. Why?”
“No reason really. I should leave you to it, it's getting late.”
“Goodnight then.”

Jupiter walked out of the library and made his way towards his quarters when he heard talking in the cockpit. Listening quietly at the door he heard Google saying, “I'm Google Jones, The chosen one.” And again, this time in a slightly deeper voice, “I'm Google Jones, The chosen one.” And again. On the third attempt, his voice squeaked up slightly. Jupiter held back a laugh as Google sighed. “I'm Google Jones, the big fake,” he said despondently before turning around to discover Jupiter watching him.

“Sorry, I heard voices – What are doing?”
“Practicing my presentation skills. Liberty says it's not enough that I'm the chosen one, I also need to look and sound the part. Something about giving the public confidence.”
“Well, it's getting late kid. Why don't you grab some shut eye. If your tip-off is correct, we've got a big day ahead of us tomorrow.”
“I'm just going to stay up a bit later - until we're an hour clear of any jump points.”
Google looked down at his shoes, “She won't... well, no don't worry. It doesn't matter.”
“She won't what?”
Google sighed, as he continued to look down at the ground, avoiding eye contact. “She won't let me masturbate unless we're a safe distance away from any ships.” This time Jupiter couldn't hold back a laugh.
“I'm sorry... but what?”
Google mimicked Liberty's voice, “The prelactin released in orgasm reduces function temporarily in the cerebral cortex. It's an unacceptable risk. It could make all the difference in an unexpected battle.” He ran a hand through his hair in frustration, “So I'm stuck needing to be in an ambush-free safety zone. I mean, it's not enough that I've still got pimples because she won't let me risk the nano-chemicals in zit cream; or that I've got old-fashioned braces because she won't risk an allergic reaction to Straight&White. No. Thanks to Liberty I can't even get lucky with myself, let alone a woman. Tell me, what's the point of being the chosen one?”

Google paced the room and then in frustration kicked the couch lightly with his foot. “It's infuriating. Do you know how long it's been since I've been in a safety zone?” he said, his voice getting louder to match his frustration. Jupiter didn't respond. “Two weeks! Two very long weeks! I'm wetting the bed more than a toddler.”
“Uh, well, I wish there was something I could say but...” Jupiter burst out laughing again. “I'm sorry, but...,” he continued laughing.
“Come on, you've got to help me. Teach me about women. It's not like I can get any help from Liberty, she treats me like I'm still a kid, and Justice is too arty to be of any help. He just says to be yourself – like that works for anyone.”
Jupiter took a swig from his Vodka. “I'm sorry, but if there's one thing I shouldn't be giving you advice on, it's women.”
“Why? Are you arty?”
“No I'm not arty! Why does everyone keep asking me that lately? I just... speak to Abe, he's the one who writes romance novels. Maybe he can help you.”
“Perhaps I will. Thank you, Jupiter.”
“No problem. Now I'm going to bed,” Jupiter said as he headed towards the door. “Oh, and after two weeks, I doubt you need it... but the 'good' holograms are on the F Drive.”

The cockpit doors swished open and shut, and Jupiter made his way back down the hall, yawning as he opened the door to his own quarters, looking forward to finally getting some rest.

“Well, hello Jupiter. A pleasure to finally meet you,” said Prince Mykur.

4 Response to Chapter 6: Five quarters

  1. Luke says:

    Odd chapter that didn't really move the story forward. Basically, I just wanted to do a bit of a “character study” chapter. I've been busy writing a few other things lately so was in danger of forgetting who everyone was in this. Should get back into the main story next chapter.

  2. Dale says:

    Cool title anyhow. Would you say I was an 'arty' person? (Consider your response very carefully. :P)

    Enjoyed finding out more about Liberty through Google rather than Jupiter's convo with her.

    Still easy to read.

  3. Luke says:

    Nice observation. Looking back over both sections, I think the reason learning stuff from Google works better is that Liberty's dialogue is too forced and 'on the nose'. It's almost like a "Here's why I am why I am" speech and no one ever really does that.

    (Possibly the biggest flaw with the chapterin general is it tries to reveal character through words not actions - of course I did this to serve as a writing lesson for you all, *not* because I wrote 2000 words then realised the problem too late...) ;)

    And, you were to look up 'arty' in some magical future dictionary that had pictures instead of definitions, there'd probably be a picture of you.

  4. Jimzip says:

    Aw! That's sweet, in an 'I'm gonna puke' kinda way. ;p Hehe I kidd. I too loved the title here. And you're right, the chapter was a good window into their personalities but didn't really take us forward ... until the last sentence. X) Good that you pointed out the words v. actions rule too because I was going to say! (My word!)

    Oh and don't think I forgot about Into The Black just 'cause I haven't commented for an unforgivably long time. I've been watching the names tick over in my sidebar and am now playing catch-up!

    Jimzip :D