Chapter 21: Dead ends

The story so far:

Our heroes have split up in their efforts to find the fabled Trinity Key and stop the evil Prince Mykur. Liberty and Jupiter have travelled to Mars where they're under attack, having failed to stop a kill order being placed on all their heads. Meanwhile, Google, Abe and Justice are on the water world of Atlantis where they hope to find the second piece of the Trinity Key.

And so far, if this story was a map of the world, there would be no country named Cher-topia.

Now, the story continues...


They're adopted you idiot!” Belle yelled at Jupiter through the barrier that now separated them.

Well how was I supposed to know! You could've mentioned that!”

Oh I'm sorry, I was a little busy trying to get you NOT KILLED!”

Well that's working out just great isn't it!”

Harvard tapped Belle lightly on the arm.

Uh, where's Billy?”

Your parents took him to the clinic for observation, he's still having trouble... Oh no!" A look of horror appeared on Belle's face as she started to shake slightly.

"What is it?" Harvard asked as he rested his hands on her shoulders.

"The clinic's on Fforde street. We're locked off from him!”

It's ok. Stay with me, baby. We'll work something out. We can handle this.”

We... we can't get to him,” she said as her eyes started to fill with tears. “If the army...”

Wait!” said Jupiter. “Fforde street! We can reach that from our side!”

He's right!” said Harvard.

But then what? You're blocked off from any exits,” Belle said.

Not necessarily,” Harvard replied. “There's an emergency exit under the holo-theatre left over from the war days. It may still be operational. There's a lever hidden under one of the front row seats in the main cinema.”

I know the place! We can escape out there before the army take hold. We'll get him out. He'll be ok, Belle. You have my word.”

Please Jupiter! You've got to,” Belle begged.

Hey, how hard can one kid be?” said Liberty.

Belle and Harvard glanced at each other but said nothing. Off in the distance explosions could be heard.

Hurry!” screamed Belle

Don't worry,” Jupiter said. “You can count on me.”


Abe looked down at his bloody fist as he prepared to dive out of the hole in the stingray.

Good thing blood doesn't attract sharks,” he muttered.

Google went to say something but a look by Justice stopped him dead.

Yeah, good thing,” he said instead.

You do know how to swim, don't you?” asked Justice.

Of course!” Abe lied. “You think just because I'm an ape I can't swim? Typical human!”

Ok, well here goes,” Justice said as he grabbed the edges of the torn roof and pulled himself up, out into the dark water. Abe followed Justice and Google out, the chill from the water feeling like a thousand tiny bites on his body, but he was more worried about gigantic bites, keeping a constant lookout for any sign of the Megalodon. The seaport entrance was only twenty feet away, but it seemed forever away as the three swam as fast as they could manage towards it. Behind them, the waterlogged stingray sunk silently to the bottom of the ocean.

Justice and Google reached the entrance first as Abe struggled, flailing his arms and legs everywhere. All he could think of was all the times he'd arrogantly mocked humans obsession with being able to stay buoyant and move about underwater – swinging between trees was a far more practical skill. In between his panicked thoughts he watched as Justice and Google gripped a wheel attached to the seaport's airlock entrance. With all their might they strained to turn the wheel – an exercise that proved far easier when Justice realised Google was pushing the wheel the wrong direction. With effort they forced the door open wide enough for Google to slip inside before Justice turned back for Abe. What he saw when he glanced back didn't look very promising.

Abe was now staring face to shark face with a white pointer. The shark slowly circled Abe, like a cat waiting to pounce – most likely only hesitating because it was momentarily confused by the unusual sight of an ape underwater. Eventually deciding that sharks can't afford to be fussy eaters, it swung into attack position swimming at pace straight for Abe. Shutting his eyes, Abe prepared himself for a sharp end that never came, because at the last minute the Megalodon roared down from overhead snacking on the bite-sized white pointer. The rush of water as the Megalodon swooped by propelled Abe into Justice's path, who grabbed hold of him around the waist and raced them both to the seaport entrance, into the airlock.

Abe collapsed to the ground, coughing up water.

Ok, that was insanely lucky,” Justice said laughing.

Well then you've come to the right place,” Google said as he swung open a door at the other end of the airlock, revealing the most opulent casino ever created.

Welcome to Atlantis.”


Liberty and Jupiter arrived to find the good doctor looking less than good. Collapsed against the front door of his clinic, he had laser blast wounds to his stomach and shoulders. Groggily he raised his blaster as they approached.

Jupe... Jupiter is that you?” he said, squinting.

It's me, Doctor Cole.”

Oh thank god, I thought they were coming back. Did Belle...? You've got to get the boy – I hid him in the basement to keep him safe.”

It's ok, we're going to get you both to safety,” Jupiter said, kneeling down to look the doctor in the eye. Then to Liberty, “Apply pressure to his wounds while I get Billy.”

As if on cue the doctor coughed. “Don't worry about me, it's too late. Just get the boy. You've got it get him out of here.”

Don't say that doc, you're going to be fine,” Jupiter said.

I'm a doctor – pretty sure I'm not going to be fine.”

Well then we'll get a second opinion,” Jupiter said as he rushed into the clinic, taking the steps down to the basement three at a time.

At the bottom of the stairs he found a meek-looking seven year old boy with dirt-blonde hair, milky, light-brown-coloured skin and bright-blue eyes.

Hi!” said the boy happily.

Billy – I'm here to take you to safety. It's okay, your mum and dad - Belle and Harvard sent me.”

Oh, I like them,” Billy replied.

Yes, they're swell. Now let's get moving.”

Wait, there's something important I need to tell you!”

And with that the boy fell promptly into a deep sleep.

Oh great, you couldn't do that at the top of the stairs,” Jupiter moaned as he picked up the boy and started the trek back upstairs.

Outside he found Liberty. One look told him that the doctor's diagnosis had been accurate.

Come, we need to get out of here,” he said with a sigh.


Inside, the casino was dark; just the emergency lights giving hint to the extravagant interior. Justice felt his way over to a circuit breaker near the entrance and fired the electricity grid back up. All three shielded their eyes as the now brilliant light from thousands of chandeliers revealed elegant marble walkways, towering arches and an almost infinite sea of poker machines and roulette wheels. At odds with the stunning vista was a dank, musky smell.

Does anyone else smell wet dog?” asked Google.

Abe shot him a dirty look as he went about shaking dry his fur.

I had no idea this place was so massive,” Justice finally said, almost in awe.

Well, it was one of the biggest terraforming operations ever carried out,” Google said.

How the hell are we supposed to find the second piece of the key down here?” Abe asked. “This place is the size of a city. Bigger!”

Was there anything that stood out about Atlantis when you read up about it?”

Not really. Basically, it was just a disaster. Got bankrupted in one night when some of the big rollers got on a lucky streak.”

A lucky streak... with what?” Justice asked.

I don't know – gambling I assumed,” Google replied.

But what type?”

What are you thinking?” asked Abe.

Justice raced off down the aisles of poker machines.

Spread out!” he called back to the others.

What's going on?” yelled Abe.

Just trust me. Take out any money you have and play the poker machine in front of you,” Justice said, his voice echoing around the casino.

He fumbled around his pocket for some coins, grasped some and clumsily shoved them into the machine, pulling down the lever. Cherries, bars, rainbows, the number seven, stars and more went flashing before his eyes.

Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.

Cherry, Rainbow, Seven, Star” he muttered to himself. “What do you get?” he called out to Google.

Bar, Seven, Cherry, Rainbow,” Google yelled back.


Cherry, Seven, Cherry, Bar,” he responded. “What's going on?”

This way!” Justice called out, running towards Abe.

He flew right by the confused bonobo before skidding to a stop about 100 metres later. Coins in the slot.

Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.

Justice laughed and pumped his fist.

What is it?” asked Abe.

Cherry, Cherry, Cherry, Seven,” he said

You need four cherries to win,” Abe replied.

We're already winning,” Justice said as he went racing off further west, deeper into the casino.

Abe shot Google a look.

I think he may have gone insane. If it turns out we need to eat someone to survive, I nominate him.”

Google laughed. “I think I know what's going on,” he said as he raced after Justice.

They found Justice perched nervously in front of a machine – his hand holding a coin over the slot, ready to be dropped in.

Can someone fill me in on what's going on?”

Super-Sunny-Happy-Bright-Fun Land. The key messed with the gravity suppressor...”

You think something similar happened here,” said Abe, getting up to speed.

Exactly. I'm thinking the lucky streak was caused by the key interfering with the machines. I think the closer we get to the key, the more the machines will pay jackpots.”

Crap! It's just too bad the machines have already been bled dry,” Abe said. The others looked at him. “But... you know, it's good about maybe finding the key. That's good.”


Carrying the boy, Jupiter and Liberty rushed through the city streets to the old holo-theatre. What few soldiers they encountered along the way were easily dispatched by Liberty. They raced up the steps to the museum just as a public annoucement played over the city's loudspeakers.

This is Commander Watson of the Mykurian Army. Your planet is now officially under our rule. If you surrender peacefully, no harm will come to you.”

Some disagreement over the wording of the sentence could be heard faintly in the background.

Fine, fine. No harm will probably come to you,” the Commander added before muttering, “Who let a lawyer into the room?”

The PA system went dead.

Inside the holo-theatre Jupiter and Liberty followed Harvard's instructions, searching the front row seats for some sort of lever, while Billy slept peacefully. Without warning, they were surrounded by soldiers in all directions.

Prepare to pack your bags, you're on a one way trip to deadville,” growled the lead soldier.

A disco's worth of laser beams exploded from Liberty's blaster as she shot up the theatre. Finally she relaxed her grip on the trigger as little spot fires burnt quietly around the outskirts.

Relax Lib, it's just a holo-film: Soldiers of death. This theatre has surround vision,” Jupiter said trying to clam her.

Oh, I know. I just really hated that movie,” she replied casually as the theatre's sprinkler system kicked in and she placed her gun back in its holster.


A small entranceway opened up at the front of the theatre.

Bingo,” said Jupiter, getting up from the seat he was under.

Let's get off this planet already,” Liberty said as she raced over to grab Billy. Jupiter was first into the underground passageway, then Billy as Liberty lowered him down before making her own way into the passage.

Down below was a dark, ancient path that looked to be cut out of the rock of Mars itself. Jupiter and Liberty turned up the lighting options on their clothes and carefully followed the trail as it wound its way up and around towards the surface. After about 500 metres the tempreature had plummeted to near freezing levels. Gradually the cave got more and more cramped until finally the path ended, completely blocked by a wall of rocks.

Jupiter searched for a control panel but there was none to be found.

I think this must be a natural cave-in,” he finally said as he ran his hand through his hair.

You mean... there's no way out?” Liberty asked.

And there's an army headed this way. That's about the size of it,” Jupiter added.


Justice lead the others west to the epicentre of the jackpot circle. That was when they saw it. A massive twenty metre hole in the middle of the gaming room floor.

That must be where the key...” said Justice.

Then that means...” said Google.

Someone beat us to it,” finished Abe.

1 Response to Chapter 21: Dead ends

  1. Jimzip says:

    Nooooooooo!!!!! Darnit. That was such a fast paced chapter, I was ready for some reward. Rewaaaaard!!

    Hehehe. I would like a lighting option on my clothing btw, I don't know how it would look or work, but I bet it's cool. Also, surround vision should be patented promptly, before Hollywood gets their dirty mitts on it. The days of holographic cinema will be soooo darned cool...

    Forward and Loftier!

    Jimzip :D