Chapter 16: Double trouble

Previously on INTO THE BLACK

The gang has split up! Jupiter and Liberty are headed to Mars to meet with the Malacandra, an underground organisation that might be able to prevent a kill order being placed on their heads. Meanwhile, Abe and the others are on their way to Atlantis to find the second piece of the Trinity Key, but first they'll need a vehicle capable of travelling underwater.

And, so far, if this story was Super Mario Bros. a Toad would have probably told you several times, "Thank you Mario! But our Cher is in another chapter."

Now we rejoin the action...

It wasn't named after the chocolate you know.”

Huh?” Liberty asked as she rubbed her forehead, slowly recovering from the drugged bacon.

Mars – a lot of people think it was named after the chocolate bar, but it wasn't.”


I'm just saying - lot of locals get touchy about it is all.”

Jupiter tried not to dwell on the point as Liberty glanced around the cockpit of the Blackbird, trying to regain her bearings.

How do you know this Belle anyway? Are you sure she can be trusted?” Liberty asked, breaking the silence.

Well I know she'd do just about anything to see Mykur defeated. She was against him before it was even the popular thing.”

So what's with your clothing then?”

What about it?”

It's all blaster-resistant.”

Let's just say, Belle and I, we have... history,” Jupiter replied as he piloted the shuttle down toward the surface of Mars.

History?” She looked across at Jupiter suspiciously. “Now's the time to disclose any information that's pertinent to the mission.”

Girls and their gossip... Fine. Belle and I used to work together once, as treasure hunters, along with Abe.”

And that's everything.”

And we were engaged.”

Bad breakup?”

You could say that?”

What would you say?”

I'd say I ran off with our ship a day before the wedding without saying goodbye.”

Liberty unbuckled her seatbelt and made her way out of the cockpit towards the back of the ship.

Where are you going?” Jupiter called out.

To get my blaster-resistant clothes.”


You know, I don't need this! If I wanted to, I could be writing for CSI: Pluto City! But oh no, I just had to join up with Jupiter and see the galaxy,” Abe muttered to Justice.

You have to admit, it is a little exciting – the chance to save the universe,” Justice countered as he examined a cockpit monitor on-board The Love Crusader.

Exciting!? Brushing my teeth when the low-battery light is flashing, that's exciting. This... this is a prolonged heart attack.”

Computer bring up section C2S8 on screen,” Justice instructed.

You found something?” asked Abe.

Maybe... look at this. It's a small planet, only has a couple of populated cities, but it's half covered in water. Odds are they'll have some water vessels.”

Has potential. What's it called?”

That's the odd part – it doesn't have a name, per se,” replied Justice.


Its name is a smiley face emoticon.”

You've got to be kidding me.”

Apparently it was founded by a group of theologians who believed the world would be better if everyone just learned to always look on the bright side.”

We're flying to a planet of morons,” Abe muttered.

Could be worse, at least they sound friendly.”

Abe shot Justice a look, before jumping up from his seat and heading for the cockpit door.

Where are you going?” Justice asked.

To get my blaster-resistant clothes.”


You sure you're prepared?”

I went out with her for three years, I'm capable of talking to her for a few minutes without anything going wrong.”

Just try not to say anything stupid.” She paused, then added, “Stupider than normal I mean.”

Jupiter lowered Blackbird closer to the surface as the barren Mars landscape became visible through the cockpit window.

There,” said Jupiter pointing out to the north. “There it is.”

The Valles Marineris,” said Liberty, in awe of the canyon that stretched out before them.

Largest canyon in the solar system,” said Jupiter proudly as he guided them closer towards it.

I always thought Mars was a hole, but this is...”

Suddenly below the ship, massive explosions shot up into the air.

They're attacking! Quick, load up the missles. This heap of junk does have missiles, doesn't it?” Liberty asked as she scanned the cockpit walls looking for launch codes.

Jupiter laughed and put an arm across to calm her.

Relax, it's just the geysers. Look.”

Liberty pushed Jupiter's hand away and stared out as the surface continued to erupt sand and mud up into the sky.

You know, it's actually quite beautiful up close,” Liberty admitted as the ship dropped down past the surface and into the canyon.


Justice, Abe and Google stepped down the front ramp of The Love Crusader and onto the surface of :-). Outside, the sun was shinning and the weather humid as a light breeze gently swayed the leaves of nearby palm trees. Finding it uncomfortably warm, Abe pressed on the buttons on his pants, turning them into shorts as he gazed out at the tropical wonderland. The Space port was conveniently located right by the beach, offering prime views of everyone enjoying themselves: surfing, sailing or just eating ice cream by the shore.

“Hello friends,” a rotund, bearded-man called out to them happily as he made his way over. “Welcome to...,” he pointed up at his smiling face.

“Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here on colon, dash, parenthesis,” replied Abe stiffly.

“It looks wonderful, like a mix of ancient Hawaii and the Caribbean,” said Google.

“Too true, friend. Now come, I'll show you to the vehicle you enquired about. I'm sure you'll just love it. We'll travel by golf cart. For some reason travelling by golf carts always makes life fun! Don't you agree, friend?”

Abe stared blankly ahead as the bearded man went skipping ahead, whistling as he did.

“Can we shoot him?” Abe asked Justice, who just laughed.


The Blackbird touched down softly on the canyon surface and a few seconds later the side hatch swung open. Jupiter stepped out, breathing in the air.

“Ah, don't you just love summer.”

“You must be kidding!” said Liberty shivering as she wrapped the hood on her wool parka tightly to keep out as much wind as possible. “It must be minus ten degrees out here.”

“Like I said, summer. They never did get around to properly terraforming this place. If you think this is cold, you should visit in winter.”

Liberty surveyed the landscape around her.

“There's nothing but rocks as far as the eye can see. Are you sure the Martian hideout is here?”

For Cruise's sake Libby! Lower your voice, if they hear you calling them... Only a Martian can call us Martians.”

I don't see the big deal.”

Trust me, you don't want these people to mistake you for an Earthling.”

But we were all Earthlings originally.”

Before Jupiter could repsond the ground began to shake.



The bearded man, who'd they now come to know as Sunny, stood proudly in front of a red submersible, shaped like a giant stingray.

There's no way I'm paying 5000 credits for that. It's probably not even water proof,” said Abe, crossing his arms.

Trust me friend, this ship is a bargain. Besides, a bit of water never hurt anyone.”

Yes, I've heard drowning just kind of tickles,” Abe replied dryly.

I've thrown in the petrol for free. You won't get a better deal in this solar system.”

But the petrol tank's half empty,” Abe complained.

No, I think you'll find it's half full.”

Half empty!”

Half full!”

Isn't it both?” asked Google, a little confused.

Abe and Sunny both turned to stare at him like he was an idiot.

We'll take it,” said Justice suddenly.


Relax Abe, it's not your money I'm using.”

See, I knew things would work out fine,” said Sunny, just as a giant shadow crossed over the entire planet.

What's going on?” asked Abe nervously. He looked up to see a giant spaceship, bigger than the planet :-) itself now hovered overhead, blocking out the sun.

Oh, that? Well Mykur's army said they'd blow our planet into a billion pieces if we didn't join with him, but we just find him so pessimistic.”

All of a sudden, the entire planet's windows vibrated as a booming voice came down from the ship's loudspeakers.

Citizens of... Um, how do you pronounce... citizens of... this planet: prepare to feel the might of Mykur.”

With that, the ship opened its 10,000 missile bays – all of them now pointed at the planet.

Don't worry, I'm sure everything will work out just fine,” said Sunny happily.


Liberty worked hard to keep her balance as the rumbling continued, while Jupiter simply lay flat on the ground, resting. When it finally stopped, he pointed to an area where the recent movement had cleared an entranceway to a ramp leading underground.

Of course, where else would an underground organisation be?” Liberty said to herself.

As they made their way down the ramp, the air became warmer, more mechanical. After about 75 metres, the rumbling began again. Liberty fought back the feeling of claustrophobia as she turned to watch the entrance close up with rocks once more. Another 400 metres down and the tunnel began to grow wider until Liberty and Jupiter finally reached a giant metal door that stood 50 metres high.

What now?” asked Liberty.

As if in response, an ear-splitting screech filled the underground cavern as the massive door lifted, sending a cloud of dust up into the air with it. When the dust finally settled, it revealed a lone woman, who somehow had a much bigger presence than her slender body would suggest.

Well hello, Jupiter, it's been a while,” said Belle, coolly.

2 Response to Chapter 16: Double trouble

  1. Dale says:

    I'm digging the new look!

    You handled the splitting up very well, and I was once again very impressed by your space-themed jokes (especially "Marsquake" and "CSI: Pluto City" lol)

    Very good entry. :)

  2. Jimzip says:

    HAHAHHA! Oh my God, you've found my dream planet!

    Great chapter, I love the repetition of blaster suits, the well-tied location jumps, the Martian racism, and of course - golf carts...

    I've been absent for a little bit, but I'm catching up now, and I hope we'll see more of :-) .

    Jimzip :D