Chapter 19: Deeper and deeper

Jupiter and Liberty stood at the front of what appeared to be a typical courtroom. However, instead of a judge's seat there was a large screen display. To either side of the display were two balconies and behind Liberty and Jupiter, audience seating ascended five stories high in a semi-circular arc. So, on second thought, it didn't look much like a typical courtroom at all.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Jupiter asked.

“No reason,” Liberty said with a sly grin.

“Did you poisoned me?”

“Will you just relax already,” she replied. “How does this Federation thing work anyway?”

“Our lawyer will come out on the left balcony and plead our case, while another lawyer will argue against us on the right balcony.”

“And then the judge decides?”

“No – we got rid of judges centuries ago in favour of a more democratic process. The worm decides.”

“Some sort of genetically-engineered smart worm?”

Jupiter laughed.

“No, everyone in the audience has a dial. As the lawyers make their arguments, the audience move the dial according to which side is winning in their view. On screen the audience's overall opinion is represented by a line that swings up and down according to the whims of the crowd. We call the line, the worm. Then, at the end of the arguments, if the worm is more up than down, we win.”

Liberty thought it over as people started filing into the seats behind them. Eventually the auditorium filled and conversation started to hush in anticipation of the lawyers arrival. Liberty examined the crowd.

“The Federation is a strange mix of people.”

“Oh they're just a random selection of Malacandrians – no one can know for sure who the Federation will consist of on any given day. Less chance of bribery this way.”

“Well, I guess it makes sense – also with this system the results should be less influenced by one person's bias. I wonder why more planets haven't adopted the system.”

“Well, it does have some drawbacks,” Jupiter replied.

Before he could explain those drawbacks, the lights went out and music filled the auditorium as a booming voice cried out, “Please welcome the representative for the negative team, Wyatt Wilbur.” A spotlight focused in on the right balcony as Wyatt entered, waving happily to the crowd. The Federation clapped his entrance enthusiastically. Then, the spotlight swung around to the balcony on the left.

“And, keep the applause going for the representative for the affirmative team, Harvard Black.”


“Arrrrrrggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” Abe screamed as the stingray splashed down into the ocean, bobbling a couple of times on the water's surface before sinking under. Down below the wild waves, Atlantis suddenly seemed calm, peaceful.

“Are we dead yet?” asked Abe.

“Open your eyes,” Justice said gently.

Abe opened one eye and set sight on the underwater city.

The capital city sparkled in the distance, hundreds of miles away. One of the most expensive terraforming operations ever attempted, Atlantis was to be the galaxy's biggest, most over the top casino. Despite costing over 12 billion trillion gatesian trillion billion million credits – the owners of the casino expected to turn a profit on their opening night where they invited the galaxy's richest and most famous people. Unfortunately for them, in what was assumed at the time to be some sort of computer glitch, almost all of the machines paid out jackpots nonstop. Like the fabled island itself, the company behind Atlantis sunk without a trace in a single day and night of misfortune.

“Head up a bit, I want to be closer to the surface in case this thing starts to leak,” Abe instructed Justice.

Justice gripped the controls then looked across at Abe nervously.

“It's not responding. We're sinking.”


“Why do I just keep getting deeper and deeper in trouble when you're around?” Liberty asked as she turned her attention to Harvard Black, who looked more movie star than lawyer.

“Relax, this is probably the best thing that could happen. Everyone knows my history with Belle, the fact that Harvard is representing us suggests our cause is worthy of everyone's support no matter what they think of us. Plus, he's actually a good guy,” Jupiter yelled to Liberty over the crowds cheering.

“Is he your brother?”

“No, Black is a pretty common surname.”

The balconies that the two lawyers stood on slowly descended and Harvard made his way over to Jupiter and Liberty.

“Anything I should know before I get back up there to present our case?” Harvard asked.

“Just that the outcome could determine the fate of the entire universe. If you can delay the kill order, we could save the galaxy from Mykur,” Liberty replied.

“Oh good, no pressure then,” Harvard laughed. “Jupiter anything you want to add? Perhaps that assassins will shoot me dead if I say the word 'um'?”

Jupiter shook his head.

“Well, wish me luck,” Harvard said with a smile as he returned to the balcony, which rose back up into the air with him on-board. The crowd grew as silent as mute mimes as they awaited his speech.

“Federation, I stand before you now to implore you to... Federation, I beg that you... I'm sorry, I've lost my train of thought,” Harvard said as he put his hand to his head as if unable to go on.

“Deeper and deeper,” muttered Liberty.

“I'm sorry, I'm just a little distracted today,” Harvard told the crowd. “I just can't remember ever seeing the Federation look as attractive as they do today! You're all so damn good looking!”

The crowd went ballastic as the worm shot up in favor of Jupiter and Liberty.


“Argh,” Justice said under his breath.

“Arrgghhhhh,” gasped Google.

“Arrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” screamed Abe.

“Welcome to Atlantis,” said a voice from the Stingray's cockpit monitor. “Sit back, enjoy the tour and leave the driving to us.”

“Huh?” said Abe.

Justice laughed.

“It's an override system. It's must've taken control of the 'ray. It's going to lead us straight to the casino.”

“There are hundreds of things to see and do during your stay at Atlantis,” the monitor continued as it displayed corresponding images on-screen. “Feeling lucky? Why not try your hand at some high stakes poker in Plato's Poker Pit. Or, if relaxation is more your game, book some time with Henri Merk, the universe's most famous masseuse. Thanks to four successful arm transplants, his six hands will work wonders on your tired and aching muscles. However, if you're looking for entertainment for the whole family, look no further than Zoo City. Located to the north of Socrates' Spa Villa, Zoo City is home to six distinct zoos. Discover what zoos where like in the middle ages or for something more modern, visit our Celebrity Zoo, where clones of all your favourite celebrities are only too happy to smile for photos and autographs.”

“I'm starting to think this could actually be a lot of fun,” Google said happily.

Abe shot him a look so dirty it wouldn't even be allowed in a X-rated film.

“Oh, look over there,” Justice said, pointing to his right.

“Speaking of zoos,” said the voice from the monitor. “We're now approaching our galaxy-famous Aquatic Zoo. Home to sharks, whales, dolphins, turtles, and well, just about every aquatic creature you could hope to see – from the friendly to the deadly. But don't worry, they're all keep in place by an invisible barrier.”

“Check out the shark,” Google said as it approached the vessel. “Is that a white pointer?”

“Shark?” said Abe, his voice shaking.

“Relax, there's an invisible shield protecting us,” Google said as the shark brushed up against the submersible.

“Looks like the barriers are down,” Justice pointed out.

“You just had to keep talking didn't you,” Abe moaned.


“And that's why we should help out the lovable scoundrel Jupiter Black and the sexy but deadly Liberty Forall. Let's hear it for our crazy rebels who dare defy Mykur!” Harvard yelled to the applause of the crowd. “Come on people I can't hear you,” he added, cupping his ear. “Let's hear it for them.”

A bigger roar.

“Now just the boys in the crowd.”

A manly roar.

“I don't know – girls do you think you can do better?”

A higher-pitched roar.

“Oh no, look out boys, the girls are making us look bad. Let's try it again.”

A bass-laden roar filled the auditorium.

“Now everyone altogether!”

The biggest roar of the lot.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case,” he concluded as the worm went rocketing to the top.

“It's looking good,” Jupiter told Liberty as the applause gradually started to die down.

“Are you sure? He didn't even mention most of the reasons why they should help us.”

“I did tell you the system has some weaknesses.”

“Well, I don't care, as long as we win,” Liberty said with a bemused smile.

“Now please welcome the presenter for the negative, Wyatt Wilbur,” a booming voice cried out.

Wyatt Wilbur stepped forward to polite applause from a crowd already won over by Harvard.

“Like you I want to applaud Jupiter and Liberty,” he began. “Who wouldn't? We all hate Mykur right? Come on, let's boo him everybody. Booooooooo. Come on, join in,” Wyatt urged the crowd.

“Look at him, he's rattled. He's on the ropes,” Jupiter told Liberty.

“However I know something shocking. Something you don't know,” continued Wyatt. “I ask you all to turn your attention to the centre screen.”

The graphic of the worm was removed and the screen went black.

“What you are about to see and hear was recorded at the Southland entrance on our visitors arrival.”

The screen come to life with footage of Jupiter and Liberty just after they'd disembarked from the Blackbird. It began to play and the crowd gasped as they heard Liberty say, “Are you sure the Martians' hideout is here?”

That's right people, you heard her correctly. She called us Martians! What we have here is an Earthling sympathiser,” bellowed Wyatt to the crowd as a chorus of angry booing broke out.

Harvard attempted to over-rule the footage but was drowned out by a dance remix featuring backing vocals of Liberty saying “Are you sure the Martians' hideout is here?” as Wyatt did a little jig up on his balcony.

The worm dived south as a chant of “Hang them!” began.


“Will you relax Abe, it's not as bad as you think,” said Google.

“Don't say anything! Don't say one more word,” yelled Abe.

“But it's not bad - if you'd just calm down. There's no way a shark could do any damage to a vessel this size,” continued Google.

“Oh, he just had to keep on talking didn't he,” Abe complained to Justice.

“We hope you enjoyed our Zoo of Aquatic Creatures. But, don't worry, the fun's not over yet. Thanks to the latest in genetic manipulation, we're pleased to now welcome you to the galaxy's first and only Zoo of Mythical Aquatic Creatures!”

Dramatic music filled the stingray.

“First up - the Kraken!”

2 Response to Chapter 19: Deeper and deeper

  1. Dale says:

    Loved the worm as a replacement for judges. And the dance remix/jig done by Wyatt. Lol, still laughing about that. :)

  2. Jimzip says:

    Hahahaha. Oh I've been gone too long.
    God I have no idea how you manage to come up with the backstories for some of these places, but Atlantis is hilarious.

    Onward & Upward!

    Jimzip :D