The Archives of the Heroes: Series One - Foundation.

This is the story of two brothers growing up in our Universe. They manage to find themselves all kinds of trouble and adventures while travelling from galaxy to galaxy with their father.
Or, in some cases, by themselves.


9. Episode Chapter Eight: In which a day-trip turns into an intergalactic excursion.


Strongh glared at those in the front seats, first his father, then his new tutor.

'I don't need a babysitter.' He muttered again, folding his arms across his chest.

'He's not a babysitter.' Liart hissed for the millionth time. 'He's more of a bodyguard.'

'That's just a fancy word for babysitter, and I don't need one! I'm not a baby!'

'Could have fooled me.' Was all Jaliq said in reply.

Truth be told, Liart had not taken well to his new tutor either. His name was Glesi Dein, and he was certainly not the stereotypical RaJuno. The man was short, with a big nose and small eyes. He had olive skin and was disturbingly hairy, though he had no hair on his head. To make matters worse he insisted on wearing white suits - white suits! - with ridiculously pointy white dress shoes, and odd looking white hats. And as for his red shirts - Liart thought they could have used a few more buttons.

Jaliq did not particularly like the man either. For one thing, he had learned that the boys understood RaJuno, and insisted on speaking the language to them, cutting him out of the conversation entirely. For another, the man seemed to be quite disagreeable, and Jaliq sensed that he had a short temper. Still, he would have to do for now. It wasn't easy finding such a tutor on short notice, and - while his reviews weren't brilliant - they weren't terrible either.

'Where are we going?' Liart asked brightly, trying to lighten the mood.

'Neuron, in the Brain-Way Galaxy.'

'Aren't the Neurons incredibly pliable? What if they turn evil again while we're there?'

Jaliq shrugged. 'They just turned good again. Chances are they'll stay that way for a month at least. We should be fine.'

Liart did not seem reassured by this at all, though he said nothing further on the matter.

'Those Neurons are all idiots.' Glesi muttered - though even his muttering was loud. 'Can't think for themselves. Worse than the Ai - at least they don't have any say in the matter. Ruled by Tretātorix one minute and RaJuno the next.... no, the Neurons are fools.'

Jaliq frowned. 'Perhaps some less critical teaching would be more appropriate.'

Glesi frowned too, though he grinned smugly shortly after. 'Fine. Not all Neurons are idiots. Just all the ones I know.'

'How many's that?' Liart asked, a little testily. Jaliq glared at him, though he had nearly asked the same thing.

'Ten.' The man answered. 'Ten idiots.'

'Gee, that's a few.' Liart continued, avoiding his father's gaze. 'I guess you should know. How many people are there on Neuron?'

Glesi shrugged. Then, suddenly, he turned around. 'Don't get smart with me, kid. Unlike them Neurons I'm not a total idiot.'

Liart screwed up his nose. 'Do you deliberately talk like that?'

'Like what?'

'Like some-one who just got out of Alcatraz.'

Jaliq's eyes flared with anger, though the tutor did not seemed to understand what Liart was referring to.

'Explain yourself, kid. What's Alcatraz?'

'A prison.' Strongh explained. 'A mean one. It was on an island.'

Glesi was clearly a little slow, for he didn't seem to understand the insult at all.

'I still don't getcha, kid. But if you're smart-talking again, you'd better stop it.'

Liart nodded. 'I'll stop smart-talking in a way obvious to Trojans.'

Glesi frowned. 'What are you talking about?'

'I was just acknowledging your command.'

'Oh. Well... good.'

Jaliq, however, understood exactly what his son meant. Gritting his teeth, he said (as sweetly as possible), 'Some of us in the car aren't Trojans, Liart, so you'd better stop with your wooden horses.'

Liart did not seemed to be worried by his father's threat - which was unusual - but stopped being smart anyway.

Strongh smiled smugly, for he too understood what was going on.

'Glesi,' he began abruptly.

'Mr. Dein.' Jaliq corrected, making the man laugh.

'Call me Glesi.' He said cheerfully. 'Mr. Dein is for dweebs.'

Strongh smiled at his father's defeat and continued speaking. 'Can you speak Zraiatormmaein?'

'Yup. Sure can. I can speak lots of languages!'

'What about English?'

The man scoffed. 'That's an Earth language! I refuse to learn such scummy languages.'

Strongh nodded and settled back in his seat. Then, turning to his brother, he began rattling away in English.

'You don't like him either?'

Liart smiled brightly, though allowed his eyes to express his anger and dislike of the man. 'No. He's smelly, loud, and cross. I hate him.'

Jaliq attempted to snap at his children while smiling. 'Liart, I've told you before what a strong word hate is - do not use it. And you're both being very rude. If you don't start behaving better, you'll both be punished.'

'How?' Liart asked. 'Is cloning possible? If so, I know how you'll punish us.'

Jaliq was furious now, and it began to seep through his smiling face. 'Liart, this was your idea. Don't turn on me all of a sudden!'

'I didn't pick this wacko!' Liart cried, losing his friendly persona. Glesi did not notice though, as the boy was directly behind him.

'Watch your tongue!' Jaliq shot back, no longer smiling. 'Why are you being so rude all of a sudden?'

'Because I h... think our new tutor is horrible! I can't stand him! He smells, and he's stupid. He didn't even know about Troy and the wooden horse!'

As he spoke, Jaliq began to wonder whether or not the boy was about to cry. Then again, he thought, he could be trying to manipulate him. You could never tell with Liart.

'Stop this right now.' He scolded, glaring at his sons fiercely. As an afterthought he added, 'Strongh, thank you for shutting up. Liart, I'll give you one more chance before punishing you.'

Liart sighed. Then, still speaking English, he muttered, 'I'm sick of all this palaver.'

Jaliq frowned. 'Don't tell me you're tired of this bother. You're the one who started it.'

Liart was not pleased with his father's answer, but he stayed silent anyway. Then, with his arms folded across his chest, he started out the window and watched starts, comets, and life-less planet pass at light-speed.


Their tutor slept constantly, and did not teach them much at all. Strongh had soon worked out that he could use this to his advantage.

'Come on,' he said to his brother one afternoon, speaking over the man's snores, 'I'm going out.'

Liart sighed. 'No, Strongh. We have to at least try to be good.'

'Father will never know. Even if Glesi wakes up before we're home do you think he'll tell father?'

Liart buried his head in the book he was reading and sighed. 'No.'

'Exactly! So let's go, come on.'

'Where are we going?'

'It's a surprise.'

'Oh, last time you said that to me it involved a lion.'

Strongh smiled. 'Not this time, brother. This time no revenge is involved whatsoever.'

'I'm not coming.'

Strongh only shrugged. 'Suit yourself. I can go without you. But, of course, if anything does happen to me, you'll have to live with it for the rest of your life.'

'I'm still not coming.' Liart repeated, not even believing himself.

Strongh shrugged, and began to leave. 'If you don't come, I'll tell Glesi about Leo.'

Liart panicked immediately, and jumped up. 'I'll get my shoes.'

Strongh smiled as his brother ran out of the room. He was far too good at this for some-one who couldn't read people. Liart was just far too predictable.

He doubted that would ever change.


Strongh asked around for a Lysa station, until they had finally reached one. He then sat his little brother down by a pillar, told him to wait, and went and bought two tickets to wherever it was they were going.

Could they be going to Quixas? Liart was afraid of this. Still, how could that be possible? Why would the Lysa station bother selling tickets to Quixas, the evil planet? Liart shuddered, as he remembered he was on the most fickle planet in the known universe. An easy ticket to Quixas was all too likely.

Liart looked around the station while he waited for his brother, taking in his surrounding and fidgeting nervously. He earnestly read the information regarding Zraiatormma, hoping beyond hope that his brother was leading them there. But by the time Strongh had returned, Liart had given up on the hope that they were going to Zraiatormma, and was ready to confront his brother.

'Strongh!' He cried. 'We can't go to Quixas! It's dangerous, and father won't allow it.'

Strongh rolled his eyes. 'What, do you think I'm an idiot? Of course we're not going to Quixas. Now come on, or we'll miss our ride.'

Liart frowned. 'I can tell you're lying, Strongh. You can't lie.'

'No, but you can. If anything goes wrong, just tell father a story.'

'Father can tell when I'm lying.'

'Only because you let him. If you really didn't want him to know he'd never be able to tell. Like last time, in the Lysa. He couldn't tell whether you were crying to upset him or not. Which one was it, Liart? Even I couldn't tell that time.'

Liart frowned. 'I don't want to practice lying, Strongh.'

'Why not? It doesn't mean you have to lie all the time. But if you can lie... think of all the good things you could do! Liart, haven't you ever heard of a white lie?'

'The colour of the lie does not change the fact that it is a lie.'

'Okay, then. How come you practice manipulation?' He rubbed his eyes and began mocking his brother's voice. 'Oh, father. I hate our tutor. Boo-hoo.' How is that any different to lying?'

'I don't want to lie, Strongh!' Liart cried angrily. 'And that includes manipulation.'

Strongh smiled, surprisingly satisfied. 'Good. That's what I was looking for. Don't tell me you're not predictable - you're like the only person I can read. Anyhow, don't lie. If anyone asks, we went to Quixas, and I forced you. No issues there. Always tell the truth, Liart, because you're right. The colour of the lie does not change the fact that it is a lie. Now let's go.'

By this point Liart was so confused that he simply followed his brother.

'You know,' he muttered eventually, 'doing that makes you as bad as me.'

Strongh smiled smugly. 'I learned from the best.'

Quixas was only in the galaxy next door to the Brain-Way, and - as Neuron was on the edge of this galaxy - it was not a long trip.

There weren't any other people on the Lysa, aside from the driver, who seemed surprised that anyone wanted to visit the planet.

'Generally I only get business when Neuron goes evil.' He explained. 'So this - this is weird.'

Strongh only smiled brightly back at the man, and Liart sunk into his chair.

The man sped away quickly once they had reached the planet, promising to return in four hours, as per the schedule.

The earth was black on Quixas, and the sea was some-how red. Not a bright red, but a dark, menacing red.

'Algae.' Liart muttered, trying to calm his nerves. 'And the black soil - most fertile in the universe. It's a shame they don't use it.'

They were on the shore at the moment, facing a huge, grey castle.

'Where do you think it ends?' Liart asked, repulsed by the entire planet.

Strongh's eyes were shining, filled with wonderment and admiration. 'It doesn't really.' He answered, fascinated. 'Haven't you heard? The Quixaseux learn war all day, and their planet is almost entirely taken up by this one, huge castle. The rest of it is either mud or boot camps. Liart, don't you think this is strangely beautiful?'

Liart's eyes widened as he stared back and forth between his brother and the hulking castle. The sky was black, as it supposedly always was on Quixas, though the boys could still see. It was rumoured that - during night time - the planet became so dark it would suffocate any-one other than the Quixaseux.

'No.' He replied honestly. 'It's revolting.'

Strongh shrugged, and began walking forward.

'Where are we going, Strongh?'

'We have four hours. We should probably do something.'

'Please don't tell me we're going in that castle.'

Strongh clicked his tongue. 'Now, now. You told me not to lie.'

Liart quivered, but followed his brother in spite of his fear.

Strongh walked boldly to the massive, black-wood door, where he grasped the fierce looking knocker and knocked.

'Strongh!' Liart cried immediately, terrified.

Strongh glared at his brother, silencing him, and the door opened.

Liart gasped at once when he saw the person, unlike anything he had been expecting. Every-one knew that Quixaseu men were usually incredibly tall, even if they weren't they were amazingly muscular. Even the most unfit Quixaseu looked like an amateur body-builder - it was just the way their bodies were built. They couldn't help it.

What no-one knew, though, was what a Quixaseu woman looked like. Most people explained this problem away with the theoretical explanation that the Quixaseux were misogynists, and oppressed their women. Besides, they thought, they probably looked like the men: fierce.

But as Liart looked at the person at the door, he began to form different opinions.

The woman looked healthy and vibrant. Opinionated too, like she could and would say anything at any given time. She seemed strong, but not abnormally like the men, and she was not frighteningly tall either. Her face was small, her eyes were a warm, coffee colour, her skin was smooth and a shade lighter than her eyes, and her jet black hair fell in ringlets to her thighs. 

She did not look evil or fierce, in a long, elegant Renaissance-style dress, though it was red, black, and gold. She wore spectacular jewellery, always keeping with red rubies and gold, though occasionally she wore black diamonds too.

She was stunning.

'Hello.' She greeted the boys, speaking Quixaseu - one of the few languages Strongh had bothered to learn. Her voice was gentle and quiet, quite out of step with the determined look in her eyes. 'Can I help you?'

Liart was frozen to the spot, but Strongh seemed quite comfortable.

'Don't you get sick of black, red, and gold?' Was the first thing he asked.

The woman smiled - she had dimples. 'We have other colours, of course. But these are my favourites, especially as they represent our planet.'

Strongh seemed satisfied by this answer, and abruptly walked inside the building. Liart followed, though he froze as soon as he had entered.

The building was beautiful - even Liart thought so now.

There were too many women around for Liart's liking, but - as the woman had said - they wore other colours. In fact, red, black, and gold were scarce inside the building.

'Why are there so many women here?' Strongh asked, a little disappointedly.

Their guide laughed. 'This is the women's wing.'

'So you're all stuck here?'

'No. We prefer it here during the day, when the men are all training. You will notice there are children in this wing also.'

'Are you oppressed like everyone thinks?'

'Not as a general rule. Most of us are treated very well. Especially me.'

'Why? Who are you?'

'I am queen of Quixas. My name is Lily.'

'How old are you?'

'Twenty six.'

'So you have kids?'

'If by kids you mean baby goats, then the answer is yes. We eat them for dinner. If by kids you mean children, your answer is still yes. I have one child...' her voice trailed off, and she saddened. 'But I do not know what happened to him. He was kidnapped by an enemy a long time ago now. I only hope he is all right.'

Strongh was completely unsympathetic, as he asked, 'so can we meet the king?'

Liart finally spoke now. 'Strongh!' He cried. 'That would be foolish!'

Lily laughed. 'Of course you can meet the king! It would not be foolish at all. Come with me.'

The boys followed the woman down a long hall, and took a seemingly endless walk to the king's throne room.

As soon as the boys had entered the throne room, they were aware that they were looking at the stereotypical Quixaseu. Liart couldn't think of any words to describe the man, and so he settled for the simplest explanation.

The king was terrifying.

He had a square jaw, covered by a short, well-groomed beard, and his short blond hair was neatly parted. He had an angular nose, which gave him a regal, empirical look, like a Caesar. He had blue eyes, the colour of the sky (though not the Quixaseu sky), and was quite handsome, really. But he was unusually strong, even for a Quixaseu, and tall - too tall. He was dressed in heavy armour, though it did not trouble him at all, and wore a long, red cape. He had long, black-leather gloves which went up to his elbows, and black-leather boots that went to his knees. He did not appear to be armed, but the boys both got the distinct impression that he could kill them easily anyway.

The man stepped down from his throne and approached the two boys, glaring as he came. He eyed Liart briefly, hatefully, but gazed at Strongh for ages. Then, slowly, he smiled at the boy.

'Strongh.' He said, and Strongh was not sure how he knew this. 'My name is Swiftwar.'

Liart shuddered at this name - swift war. Even in Quixaseu its meaning was terrible: Vicious.

Swiftwar gently stroked Strongh's cheek, and the boy clenched his jaw defiantly.

'What are you doing?' He asked.

Swiftwar seemed curious. 'You dare question the king?'

Strongh nodded impatiently.

'I should think I had a better reason to ask you the same question.'

'We're visiting your planet.' Strongh explained simply. 'I want to know why you haven't started any wars lately. For a century at least.'

Swiftwar smiled. 'That's easily answered. We have no reason to fight with anyone in the Scatorian universe - or rather, we cannot get away with warring so easily. You see, the Scatorian Universe is a chain of peace treaties, and (while we are strong enough to fight many galaxies at once) we would be fools to do so. You see, we spend our lives training for war or fighting at war. We do not farm, and so we have a peace treaty with the Oceanian Galaxy. As you may know, they are a galaxy of farmers and workmen. They give us our food, and in turn we do not harm them. We also do not protect them.' He winked. 'This is where things get a little complicated.

'The Oceanian Galaxy is a developing galaxy, and many of its inhabitants are constantly paranoid about attack. And so they have a peace treaty with Zraiatormma. Therefore, we cannot attack Zraiatormma or the Oceanian Galaxy. But of course, Zraiatormma has peace treaties with every 'good' planet in the universe, which means we cannot fight with any planet without breaking our peace treaty with the Oceanian Galaxy and cutting off our food supply. Then there are planets like Neuron, which complicate matters further. These planets have no peace treaties, and so - at a glance - it could be assumed that we could attack them. However, some interfering planets see it as their duty to keep other planets free of Quixaseu - Zraiatormma included. Thus, attacking these planets would still result in a massive war, and the removal of our food supply. And so there is peace.'

Strongh only frowned at the conclusion of this speech. 'So you train for war, but you never war? That's stupid. Anyway, I've noticed that, concessionally in history, there have been revolutionary leaders that turned out to be Quixaseu. How is it possible that they got into the country if Quixaseux aren't allowed anywhere?'

Swiftwar smiled. 'The answer to that question answers your previous one. Quixaseu have - abilities.' He looked towards Liart slyly. 'And science, which may interest you.'

Liart finally stammered, 'how do you know?'

Swiftwar only turned away mysteriously. 'The Quixaseu have the ability to convince the mind that they are seeing something, or someone, else. Observe.'

The man took a step back, and suddenly disappeared. In his place stood Jaliq.

Liart panicked at once. 'How do you know what our father looks like!?' He cried angrily, the boldest he had felt all day.

Jaliq smiled - yes, it was his smile. 'I have my ways, child.'

It was his voice too.

Strongh was amazed, enthralled. 'How do you do that!?'

On the flip-side, Liart was eyeing the man as if he would kill him. Slowly, under Liart's burning gaze, Jaliq's eyes disappeared and were replaced by Swiftwar's. Liart smiled, looking menacing, which surprised everyone present.

'It doesn't always work, does it?' He asked.

Swiftwar scowled. 'Not always. Tell me, what can you see?'

'You're still Jaliq.' Liart affirmed. 'But you have Swiftwar's eyes.'

The man smiled again. 'Then your mind is boggled. You know the truth, but your mind still cannot overcome my power. Strongh, what do you see?'

Strongh frowned, and then shrugged. 'Jaliq.'

Swiftwar seemed pleased, and stopped creating his false image. 'Now, for your next question, the Quixaseux have science on their side. You could learn this just as easily. How should I explain this?' He hesitated. There are pathways through space - through galaxies. Some people cannot learn to cross them, whereas some - who dedicate years and hours of their lives to the study - can. We can travel across the universe in seconds. Perhaps you have heard of the various Universes blocked off from the Scatorian Universe?'

The boys nodded. 'No-one has ever explored them though.'

'Yes, they do not see the point. After all, they only open once every twenty-five years or so. Anyway, there are bridges into their universes too. We can cross them. Which is why we do not attempt to war with this universe: we rule another.'

The effect of these words upon the two boys was profound. Strongh shuddered and swayed, steadying himself on his brother. Liart paled and froze, his eyes widening in awe and wonderment.

'I don't believe it.' He breathed. 'It's impossible.'

Swiftwar raised an eyebrow. Then, suddenly, in an instant, he turned to dust... and reappeared behind Liart.

'Do you believe now?' He hissed.

'No.' Liart replied firmly. 'I don't believe you can go some-where you can't even picture.'

Swiftwar's eyes filled with rage, offended by Liart's blatant disbelief. 'You don't have to picture anything, because there are bridges. And – after years of study – you can learn where these bridges will take you.'

'That's all nonsense. Otherwise you'd never be captured – and we all know you can be.'

'They're bridges, fool!' Swiftwar cried, losing patience. 'They're not everywhere! That's why it's so hard to capture us – you have to know the science of Astronomical Itineraries yourself.'

'So you're telling me there aren't bridges everywhere?'

'Yes. That's exactly what I'm telling you... and the scientific term is itinerary.'

'No, I imagine it would be in Latin or Greek.'

Swiftwar scowled. 'You're right, of course. The real scientific term is Astronomiae Pontes – Astronomical Bridges.'

Liart seemed to have lost all fear, and turned around to face the man behind him. 'So then, if there really are such things Astronomiae Pontes, show me. Prove it.'

Strongh watched the King closely, convinced he would not relent. Thus, he was greatly surprised when the man roared angrily, and momentarily disappeared. He reappeared seconds later, with Galileo in his hand.

Liart trembled at once. 'You got... Gal- Gal... ileo! How do you know where we live?!'

'I told you, changeling. You learn to find the right bridge. In my case, I found the bridge that led me to your house.'

'But there must be thousands of Itineraries! How can you possibly find the right one?'

'Are you deaf?! I've told you before: it's all in the science!'

Liart was not sure whether to shake and collapse in fear, or stand in awe of the amazing science.

'Could I learn?' He asked.

'I have also said that before.' Swiftwar replied. 'When I said anyone (with years of dedication) could learn the science.' He spoke with his teeth clenched, as if he were attempting to be patient. If this were the case, however, he was failing bitterly. 'Now watch as I demonstrate another of our brilliant abilities.'

Having said this, he flung Galileo to the far side of the room, where the toy disappeared into nothingness. Strongh's eyes widened in horror, and Liart paled.

'What have you done to him?!' He cried, trying not to sound as upset as he was.

'Sent him to who knows where.' Swiftwar replied. 'As a punishment for your total ignorance. Learn to listen, boy.'

Strangely enough, at the point where Liart should have feared the king most he became the bravest.

'No!' He cried. 'Surely you could find him! Can't you follow people through bridges? It can't be totally random!'

Swiftwar smiled a little. 'Yes, you're right, of course. Well done. But in a few minutes that particular bridge will probably move, unless I know exactly which one I used.'

'You do!' Strongh cried, stepping in for his brother. 'Give him back the bear!'

His Queen frowned, and took the side of the two boys. 'That was cruel, my lord. Be so kind as to give the boy's belonging back to him.'

'I don't wish to. Besides, is he not eight years old? He can live without the stupid plaything. Now, come. If you so desire I will show you the Galaxy of Nero.'

Liart bravely did not cry, as he realised that is beloved bear was indeed gone forever, and distracted himself by asking, 'named after the infamous Roman Emperor, Nero, who fiddled while Rome burned?'

Swiftwar smiled, the happiest he had been for a while. 'But of course. Such cruelty is considered a virtue in Quixas. Emotions and sympathies tie you down. There are times where you must not feel at all.' He eyed Liart meaningfully, as if to say: 'your silly toy only demonstrates the point'.

The King turned towards his throne, and the boys took the opportunity to quickly thank Queen Lily. Then, dutifully, they followed the king at a distance.

'It is in the Bloachar Universe.' He continued. 'Named after our brilliant King who nearly conquered it in its entirety. What he did not manage to conquer, King Nameis did.' He paused, allowing the two to take in the information. Then, turning around unexpectedly, he said, 'hold my hand - unless you wish to lose yourself in the bridges of Universes known and unknown.'

Liart gulped. 'Do you have a name for that, too?'

Swiftwar seemed pleased with this question, and answered happily. 'Mondus Notum et Ignotum.'

Liart, however, was not pleased with his answer. 'That's just Worlds Known and Unknown in Latin! Don't you have a shorter term?'

The King seemed genuinely impressed now. 'Of course we do. Would you like to guess what that term is?'

Liart thought for a moment. Then, rather confidently, he replied, 'Multismondus.'

The King beamed back at the bright young boy, and cried, 'Very close! It is in fact Multimondus. The 's' sounded a little clumsy, and besides, English speakers are fond of removing Latin suffixes. We thought we'd make it easier for them by removing it ourselves.'

'Not that they know it exists.' Strongh put in, growing a little impatient. The King took the hint, and grasped the boys' hands a little tighter.

'Let's go.'

It was a strange feeling – hardly a feeling at all. One minute they were perfectly together and in control of their being, and the next they were riding on a sort of wave, following as it pleased. It did not feel like drowning – they could breathe easily, and the air seemed fresher than ever – and it did not feel like burning – their skin felt cool, smooth, and healthy. It was more like sticking your head out the window while travelling in a car – not a Lysa, for that could result in suffocation.

They paused momentarily, from some strange spot in the Heavens that (up until this point) they could only have imagined. Then, under the instruction of the King, they gazed down upon the Bloachar Universe. He turned right, and they followed, beholding the Scatorian Universe. The boys could just back out their own Galaxy, and the Commetian Galaxy just behind it.

'Wow.' Liart breathed, observing where the two Universes met. 'So the Bloachar Universe touches your Galaxy perfectly – no wonder no-one knows it's there. With the exception of your people, of course.' He added as an afterthought.

'They know.' Swiftwar corrected him. 'But they do not care to learn more. After all, it is connected to the Black Galaxy. But I dare say they do not realise the extent of our interaction with this Universe. How could they? They do not believe it is possible to access their Universe unless twenty-five years has passed.'

He finished his speech and turned back to the Bloachar Universe. 'There are 9 Galaxies in this Universe... they keep us very busy. They are like the French I suppose – always starting revolutions. Though I suppose you would say they were perfectly righteous in doing so. After all, as everyone says, who would want to be ruled by the Quixaseux?' Then, distractedly, he turned to Strongh. 'We are not really that bad, child. Remember that. It is a blessing to see even one young person who seems to recognise this truth already.'

Liart was not pleased by the way Strongh responded to the Quixaseu, and hotly cried, 'Let him alone! You are evil, therefore, by the law of logic alone, you cannot be good.'

The King only clicked his tongue and shook his head in reply to this. 'You have sorely misunderstood and oversimplified everything. Is there not evil even in the Pure Way Galaxy? But come, I did not bring you here to argue with you over the nature of man's nature. Let me continue with the tour.'

He pointed at the various Galaxies as he mentioned them, naming each by name easily. 'That is the Nebudchanezer Galaxy – named after the great Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. The spelling of the galaxy is different, however. That is the Ekks Galaxy – Ekk was the general that helped King Bloachar conquer the Universe – and that one, next to it, is the Bloachar Galaxy. Next to that one is the Skrayna Galaxy – that was Bloachar's wife. He loved her very much...' here he turned looked down, as if he were ashamed. '… too much. It killed him in the end.'

Liart made a mental note to read up on that when he got home.

'That's the Nameis Galaxy – he finished conquering this Universe – and that's the Shawll Galaxy. He was the general that helped him, of course. And the Fetla Galaxy, named after Nameis' bride, whom he also loved very much. Ironically enough, he killed the former king, Bloachar, by threatening his wife, and was killed in the same way by my great grandfather, Nebudchanezer – named after the galaxy and the king. Oh, and of course, that is the Victoria Galaxy...'

'Victoria!?' Strongh cried. 'Surely not named after the exalted English Queen?!'

Swiftwar seemed amused. 'Why not? She had a brilliant empire. Besides, her name means victory. It is a very fitting title. And there, in between the Victoria Galaxy and the Nameis Galaxy, lies the Nero Galaxy. It is the only galaxy in this Universe that has one planet – Jeem. That is where I shall take you now.'

Liart was amazed by all he saw, whereas Strongh seemed a little bored.

'How many Universes do you suppose there are?' He asked breathlessly.

The King only shrugged. 'We haven't a clue. At any rate, this Universe is enough to keep us occupied for now. Like I said, they love to revolt.  But in the future we aim to find another Universe and conquer it, too. That is our motto: Vincere Notum et Ignotum Mundos. Perhaps you have seen it written before? VNIM? Yes, yes, Strongh, don't make faces like that. I know it is more Latin, but we found it necessary. After all, the Romans had a huge empire drawn together by the motto, SPQR: Senātus Populusque Rōmānus. The Senate and the People of Rome. So we thought we'd steal their brilliant idea, and came up with our own motto. To Overcome the Known and Unknown Worlds. Brilliant, don't you think?'

Then, having realised he had gone off on a tangent, the King coughed awkwardly, and took the boys' hands once more. 'Let's keep moving.'

They were moving again, though how fast neither of them (not even the King) could say, until they stopped smoothly, just as they had before.

'Welcome to Jeem.' Swiftwar announced, letting go of the boys' hands. 'Nero Galaxy, Bloachar Universe. Do you have any questions?'

Liart nodded, and Swiftwar smiled.

'Good! Now let's go.'

Even Strongh was dismayed by this reply. 'But we just arrived!'

'Too bad. We have to go – I have business I must attend to. Come, or would you rather be left behind on this planet?'

The boys instantly grabbed onto the man's hand, and he led them back to his castle.

Queen Lily was not present when they returned to the throne room, and Swiftwar seemed to know why.

'It is hard to keep track of time when one travels like that.' He began. 'It has nearly been four hours since we left.'

'Four hours!?' Strongh cried. 'Wouldn't it be faster by Lysa?'

To this, the King burst out laughing, and even Liart suppressed a smile.

'No.' Was all the kind younger brother said in reply. 'It would not be.'

Swiftwar soon stopped laughing, and sat down on his throne. 'You must be gone.' He instructed them. 'I have a meeting.'

'Yes, sir.' Liart replied, is fear having gone completely. 'But before we leave, allow me to ask one question: if I wished to learn the science of Astronomiae Pontes, could I find such a teacher?'

The King was amused. 'Yes.' He answered favourably. 'Of course you could. But they would be Quixaseu, without a doubt. I do not know of anyone that is not from our planet that can master the science. They have either never heard of it, or they are too impatient to pursue it. But if you so wish, then all the best! I doubt you will get very far.'

The King waved his hand, and the boys took the hint. Strongh left with a spring his step, whereas Liart left feeling a little dismayed. 

The two went straight to the place where their driver had promised to meet them, and did not have long to wait by the time they got there. The journey back to Neuron was quiet, as the driver dared not ask what they had been up to, and the boys did not dare to speak of what they had done. They felt relieved to be out of the man's company when they finally reached the Lysa station, and began the walk home feeling safe (though only after they had carefully discarded their tickets). But, of course, they had not avoided the worst yet.

The two reached their apartment block within fifteen minutes, and took the stairs to the fifth floor (as Liart had still not overcome his fear of lifts). Then, cautiously, Strongh unlocked the door to their apartment (number 406), and pushed the door open – slowly.

No-one was in sight.

They bolted, Strongh closing the door behind him very quietly, ran to their rooms, and picked up the first book they found on their desk: A Brief History of the Scatorian Universe. Then, thinking it might look odd if they were reading the same book, Strongh grabbed another, titled: Science. Creative, he thought.

Glesi was still snoring in the lounge room, and the boys wondered if he'd been asleep the whole time. But either way, they were not too worried about him. All they feared was their father, though – to their joy – he did not seem to be home.

Suddenly, the wardrobe door swung open, creaking loudly as it went. The boys screamed at once, shamelessly, and took off, though it was no use; for as soon as they moved, the door was shut, and their father had them cornered. 

'Don't think Mr. Dein didn't notice you were gone.' Was the first thing he said. Oh! the anger was flashing in his eyes, ready to be unleashed on the two villains. 'He called me four hours ago and told me you were missing. Unfortunately he was not able to find you, as Neuron is one of the busiest planets in the Scatorian Universe. Where on earth have you been?'

Liart found the use of the Earthling phrase amusing, as did Strongh.

'Not on Earth.' The latter replied cheekily, though his eyes betrayed his remaining fear.

'Enough!' Jaliq cried, terrifying both his sons. 'Whose idea was this?'

Liart immediately pointed to Strongh, who pointed at himself.

'Right. Well, Liart, don't think for a moment this excludes you from punishment.'

Liart nodded.

Then, to his younger son: 'Where did you go?'

'Not far.'

Curses! What had possessed him? He glanced at Strongh out of the corner of his eye – yes, he was rolling his eyes.

'I mean very far.' He tried to correct himself.

'Well, which is it?!'

'Very far.'

'So you lied before?'

Liart was a little stuck now. The punishment for lying was sure to be worse than the punishment for leaving in the first place. And so, another lie to cover up the first.

'No. Just got confused.'

Jaliq eyed his son for a while, trying to tell whether or not he was lying, and decided he wasn't. But, after turning towards Strongh, he began to have second thoughts. Strongh seemed to believe Liart had been lying. So he turned back to Liart, and eyed him even more sternly. Then, with a flood of horror, there came the realisation that he could no longer tell if Liart was lying to him or not. And so, afraid, he put the issue aside.

'Did you visit another planet?'

Liart nodded.

'Zraiatormma?' Jaliq asked hopefully, prepared to forgive them for such a trip.

Liart could just make out Strongh's face in the corner of his eye. Oh yes, he knew what a position they were in. If they just said they had visited Zraiatormma, they would pass a whole heap of punishments that they could not otherwise avoid. There was only one problem though: Liart was not sure how long it took to go from Neuron to Zraiatormma, and so the lie would be difficult to pull off. And if Strongh was not with him, he would be punished for lying.

He studied his brother's face more carefully, until he became certain of what it said. Then, timidly, he answered his father's question.


His mind began racing, doing quick sums and calculations. He had to get everything right the first time. What had he seen at the Lysa station? He remembered eyeing the information on Zraiatormma very carefully. He felt a little relieved when he realised the trip to Zraiatormma was supposedly as long as the trip to Quixas.

Jaliq seemed almost happy to hear that his sons had been to their old home planet, and relaxed a little. Liart felt a bit bad because of this – his father obviously couldn't tell when he was lying any more, which meant he had improved; and that was probably not the best thing.

'Who did you visit?' Jaliq continued, now asking both Liart and Strongh. Liart replied first, trying to appear calm, though he was worried that Strongh would ruin the story somehow.

'No-one. The Lysa station stopped hours out of our home town, so we just had fun in the city.'

'The city?' Jaliq asked, a little surprised. 'You spent four hours in the city? How did you possibly fill in four hours!?'

Liart shrugged. 'I'm not sure, really. We just kind of – hung around. Had lunch...' Liart wished they had had lunch. He was starving. Actually, on second thought, he probably shouldn't have added that part. Now he and Strongh would have to skip lunch altogether. 'Not much lunch.' He added as an afterthought, attempting to fix the problem.

Jaliq – surprisingly – did not seem dubious at all, and eased. 'Right. Well, I suppose I can forgive you for that. But please, you must promise never to do it again.'

The boys nodded quickly, though it was obvious neither intended to keep the promise. Jaliq sighed at this, as he realised he was going to have to do something. Dumping his boys with a tutor clearly did not work. And so, hesitantly, he decided to announce to the boys an idea that had been forming in his mind for a long time, something he was sure that they would appreciate.

'I think... I think you should stay with me.'


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