When I was young, there were three sides to the galaxy; a triangle flying between the stars, snapping up each newly discovered planet and classifying it as one (and always one, as there was no overlap) of the three sides, without variation or pause. On one side, on the top side, were the rabbits. Fast, handsome, intelligent, and in charge of the galaxy. The rabbits had been brought up on a little primitive planet called Carrotus, and after a few thousand years, someone took pity on their then-pathetic little species and donated the secret of space travel. The rest you all learned in History 101 - rabbits took instantly to the stars, becoming the Galactic Rabbits, and applying their monarchical system to everyone, everywhere. Every known planet in the galaxy was marked with those little white signs displaying rabbits upon them, a constant reminder of the inescapable power they held and hold over everyone else.

On the second side, there were the turtles, my own race. Other than developing space travel without outside assistance, we turtles never did anything even remotely noteworthy, preferring to remain a slow, yet steady, species. Visiting rabbits from Carrotus would stare at us, and make jokes about our purple shells, which we dived into at the sight of danger. Rabbits always laughed at danger, and if they got killed, it didn't matter, because there were so many of them.

On the third side, of course, was the rest of the galaxy, each creature unique or generic in its own fashion, but never quite strong enough in my mind to make the triangle into a square or diamond. Sometimes, in the dead of the night, I wish some species had come out and made a name for itself, even rivaling the rabbits - a square may be pushed, and may topple over, but a triangle may neither fall nor sag, remaining always in a state of perpetual discomfort. If I were king, I'd have brought a new shape into the galaxy, a circle, in which everyone is present and everyone is equal. A round table, if you will.

When I was young, there were no thoughts of dissatisfaction - this was the way things were, and had always been, and always would be. At least, that's what I thought, until I picked up the July 2688 edition of "Which Scientist" and saw a turtle face smiling broadly up at me. "Brilliant Shellian scientist," read the headline, "discovers revolutionary new method of preserving meat indefinitely". From that day forward, I knew if that one took the chances given, turtles could be just as good, or better, than the domineering galactic rabbits. I redoubled my studies, determined to learn everything I could, as much as possible, to show those furry miracles.

At the age of 16, I was accepted into a very exclusive school for promising young minds. Besides me, there were some seven odd rabbits, a Desertian lizard, and a lisping penguin from the planet Nippius who always had to be kept cold. They were all surprised to see me in the school, and made "fun" of my being a turtle - especially two rabbits, one named Curly for his fur, and the other Athena for I don't know what. They would wait until no teachers were in sight, and then Curly would hold me against the wall while Athena used those powerful rabbit hind legs of hers to "test the density" of my shell. I briefly attempted taking a martial arts class at the local dojo, to help defend myself, but turtles are not made to be flexible, and there were certain references to copyright laws which I didn't quite understand at the time.

Bruised and angered, I finally graduated, along with the lizard, the penguin, and half the rabbits, not including Curly and Athena. Somehow, the two of them had finally been caught in the act the month before after sabotaging my life sized model of a nuclear reactor to make it blow bubbles in offensive patterns. In the jobless period that always follows graduation, I became room-mated with an elderly rat who liked to be called "Gramma", and was overly protective about practically everything. A few months later, she moved out, having found a job at some place called the "Intergalactic Repneck Bar", and telling me I could have anything she left behind. While in the midst of the ensuing raid, I found The Book.

On the outside, The Book looked innocent enough - a yellow, jacket-less affair with the words "Aesop's Fables" printed on the cover. I had heard of it before, after Athena's automated arm failed to reach some grapes growing up above, but had never actually read The Book until now. The contents changed my life forever.

There in the table of contents, bold as brass, was a marker reading "The Tortoise and the Hare". Intrigued, I flipped to the corresponding page, and read a tale of egotism and honesty, spite and self acceptance, speed and steadfastedness, bravado and brains. Every word was the truest of the true - this what was happening, in the galaxy right then, with rabbits proudly in charge and turtles plodding along behind, as it had been since the days of my youth and for however long before that. And all we had to do, as The Book said, was wait until the rabbits made one little mistake, take hold, and never ever let go.

Until that time, I began using my technical skill to gain little victories, small skirmishes which sometimes made the news, but were never enough to truly make me a noticed threat. "Shellian Terrorist," they called me, and my first victims were Curly and Athena, who had both dropped out of school after Athena was discovered to be pregnant, and were now living together in a small shack on Muckamo. Two Doofusguards busted in the door one day, and left three minutes later, job done. I'm not sure if anyone even noticed their demise.

The big chance did not come for quite a while, until 2705, when the rabbit princess Eva Earlong attended a dinner and ball on the nearby planet of Slugion. I broke in sometime during the festivities, accompanied by my most trusted Schwarzenguard, Tuf, and quickly captured the rabbit in front of everyone, even taking a few moments to pose for the TV cameras. It was a truly glorious moment, and I shot at a few guests before the three of us made our departure. When we reached home base on planet Medivo, I gave the signal, and my agents around the galaxy began launching attacks on whatever authority there was to be found, until within no time at all, about three quarters of the known galaxy was in my grasp. "What do you want from me?" demanded the princess, when I swept in to inform her of my conquests.

"You are merely a worthless pawn in my plan," I responded, smiling happily. "With their beloved princess in my clutches, the rabbits will surrender to me, and I will become king!" King. Even saying the word felt glorious - ruling above the rabbits, even ruling Carrotus, finally no longer forced to bow down before their stupid furry faces every day of every year of my life. "What do you have against rabbits?" she asked, allowing me to vent my frustration for the first time I could remember. I hardly knew where to begin with their condemnations.

"Their disgusting, vile attitudes!" I growled, and then, realizing that would mean nothing to her, brought in the main reason for my enlightenment. "Like the one in "The Tortoise and the Hare". What evil, maniacal creatures you all are!"

To emphasize the point, I included some maniacal laughter of my own, but the rabbit princess was no longer listening, instead choosing to make some snide remark about the "White Album" indicating she had understood nothing of what I had just said. Typical, really.

It was in this state of happiness and self-fulfillment that the news which I had alternatively hoped for and dreaded arrived. The Galactic Rabbits had decided not to play ball by surrendering Carrotus and their claim to the galaxy - instead, they were sending one rabbit against me, a small, green, naked affair named Jazz Jackrabbit. I had heard of Jazz once or twice before, usually in connection with some deed of "heroism" or other, though he never seemed to get involved with my acts of "terrorism". We met a few days later on the planet Diamondus, where my turtle goons were harvesting gems from the soil, and which Jazz was determined to reclaim for the Galactic Rabbits. A sensible exchange of words was attempted, but the green fool went off into some random sentiment about his mother, and clouds, and blackberries, until I lost interest and shot his handhold to dust. He survived the fall, of course, and so began our battle for the galaxy.

This battle lasted for what seemed an eternity, and it was in 2706 when I found that the rabbit had infiltrated the Turtle-Gunner Destroyers I had been building to destroy Carrotus. One of my masterpieces had already been destroyed by this one animal. Obviously there was a reason, after all, why rabbits had become the dominant species of the galaxy - they were simply so skilled in the military ways. I do not know what would have happened if Carrotus was a democracy when they gained space travel, but their militant behavior certainly paid off in the galaxy I know of.

None of my turtle troops - not even the enormously powerful Schwarzenguards, or the armored Armor-Doofi - seemed to work against the small, gun carrying furball. The only solution, as it seemed to me, was to build a better rabbit... bigger, stronger, faster, tougher, and working for me. I could build it. I had the technology. When Jazz returned from the second Turtle-Gunner Destroyer, looking for the Earlong girl, I had my enormous Rabbit Robot ready and waiting for him. And yet, with blaster in hand and courage in his eyes, he defeated even that - the memory of my goliath lying broken upon the ground still pains me to this day. The Rabbit Robot and the Battleships had all fallen, my mightiest weapons, and with them, my very dream itself. What was the use? Turtles could never be superior to rabbits when the rabbits were all like Jazz. Tired, dejected, I escaped before he could find me, and returned home to the small apartment wherein I had originally found The Book.

The apartment, however, was not as empty as I had left it a few years before. Reclined on the bed, waiting for me, was my younger sister, Dolores... though she always insisted upon being called Dell. Logically enough, Dell had heard of my actions, and typically, had come to aid me whether I wanted it or not. I was ready and willing to retire, to give up my dreams of conquest and galactic union, but Dell's energy had only just begun. We talked of rabbits, and turtles, and guns, and many other things, and by the time Dell was ready to go home, my anger and purpose had been rekindled. I kidnapped Eva once more, this time right from under Jazz's nose, in disguise as a Galactic Taxi driver, and went with her and Tuf to Decksta, a space station I had previously constructed and forgotten about.

And yet, after re-conquering several other planets, Jazz came to Decksta, and destroyed it. Enraged, I deported Eva to Holidaius, and retreated to the planet Lagunicus for my final showdown with Jazz. It was short and to the point - I was once more utterly defeated. And a few months later, when I crashed Jazz's wedding to Eva, and attempted to rewrite history so he had never been born, I failed again, this time at the hands of both Jazz and his younger brother.

Now here I am, in the deepest, darkest corner of hell itself, buried alive with my time machine under an enormous pile of rocks. I think of how I have led my life. It is true that I have failed, but I failed while fighting for a righteous and logical idea - the idea that all creatures are created Equal, and are thus endowed with certain unalienable rights, among those being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Turtles can never have these rights, can never be Equal, while rabbits continue to rule the galaxy as they have for as long as I can remember.

A sound from overhead breaks my concentration. It is a thin, piercing sound, accompanied by a blast of light and debris. A large opening has been created in the rocks above me. I climb out to meet my rescuer, my sister, once again returned without warning when I needed her most.

The war for freedom is not yet over. But before I can defeat the rabbits, I must first defeat Jazz, and Spaz, and any other random accomplices he can dredge up. And next time, be it through violence, or politics, or subversion, or any other form of warfare, I shall not be operating alone.

Devan Shell