Planet 107: Star Crossed Lovers
It didn't look like Maximus would be able to steal any of the treasure after all. It was heavily guarded by at least a dozen galactic guardian teams including Atomic Betty. He returned to his ship to plan a strategy. There was no way he going to let such an opportunity pass him by. It wasn't all about the treasure but what it represented. It was a peace offering between two kingdoms and if anything at all was missing, then it would not be accepted.
As he headed back to his ship, Maximus thought he stepped on something. The small planet in between the two that were at war was covered in a dense forest. He looked to the ground and in the bright light of the three medium sized moons he saw something shiny. "Minimus what's that on the ground?"
Minimus, who always followed Maximus in all his missions of evil, dug a little and pulled out the shiny object. He cleaned it a up a bit before handing it to Maximus. "It looks like a ring your evilness."
After Minimus gave him the ring, they continued walking back to the ship while Maximus examined it. "It looks like it might be valuable." The ring was designed for a woman, possibly an engagement ring and the jewel appeared to shine in different colors depending on the light. Once inside in the brighter light of the ship, Maximus noticed an inscription. "Alpha," he read the name. He didn't know why, but the name sounded familiar. "Minimus did you do some research on the cause of this war?"
"Yes, your evilness, a long time ago, two star crossed lovers one from each of the planets that are at war now, ran away together. I couldn't find a clear story and there are many versions of this legend, but apparently they all agree on a few things. A young woman died and her family blamed it on the family of her lover. I believe she was a princess by the name of Alka, Alria or Alpha, that last one is the one used most often in the legends."
"This ring must be a part of the treasure. How careless that they lost it and now I have it. Without this, the peace offering will be incomplete and the war will continue!" Maximus laughed evilly. It looked as if this was a lot easier then he planned. "Let's go back to the lair. By tomorrow this war will be all over the news and I'll be enjoying the show." It was late when they returned to the lair. Maximus placed the ring on a shelf in his room and went to sleep.
xoxox xox xoxox
Just as Maximus expected, when the next day came and the peace offering was found to be incomplete, the war continued worse then ever. Maximus sat in his bed watching the early morning news. After doing something this evil, he could take a break and be a little lazy for the next few days. They said Atomic Betty would be searching for the missing ring. She would never find it. She wasn't even aware that he was on that planet, let alone that he took it. After the news changed the subject, he turned off the TV and decided to go back to sleep until lunch time.
He rolled on his side so he was facing a wall with the shelf where he had left the ring. Then he noticed something out of place. The ring was there alright, but there was something else next to it. He got up, walked over to the shelf and looked at the new item. It looked like a very old piece of plastic more or less in the shape of a body with a burnt piece of cloth wrapped around it. It was some sort of old burnt doll, but what was that doing there?
Maximus didn't put it there and no one had been inside his room, unless Minimus snuck in at night while he was sleeping and put that ugly thing there to play a weird joke on him. "Minimus!"
Minimus came running. "You called your evilness?"
"Could you tell me what that is doing there?" Maximus pointed at the shelf where the doll used to be, without looking in that direction. He was still looking at Minimus when the sidekick looked confused. "Well?"
"It's the ring you found yesterday," Minimus finally answered. How could Maximus forget about it so soon? Yesterday he gave a speech about how the missing ring will cause a war and now he didn't even remember it. That made no sense, even for him.
"Not that. I'm talking about that ugly, hey where did it go?" Maximus picked up the ring and stared at the empty space on the shelf. The doll that was there before was no where to be found. "You're playing a joke on me," he glared daggers at Minimus.
"No and I don't understand what you're talking about your evilness," Minimus was thinking that Maximus had finally lost it. Maximus simply hit him on the head and kicked him out.
Once Minimus was gone, Maximus locked the door. He placed the ring on a small table beside his bed and went back to sleep. Soon he started to have a strange dream almost immediately after falling asleep. "Don't let them forget. I waited for this moment too long. Help me tell them the truth, only then I can go with him. Guide them to the truth."
He was in a dark garden with many flowers and a fountain at the end of the path. It was night time and there were two large moons in the sky and a small one, less then half the size of the other two. Standing in front of the fountain was a ghostly woman wearing an elegant dress and a tiara. The light red of her dress became transparent at the bottom of the skirt and she appeared to have no feet. She just floated a few feet from the ground. "They tried to forget, they tried to erase it. Only the blood of the one and only witness of our union can help me now. Give the ring to one from that blood line and things will slowly be solved.
Maximus woke up out of breath at the edge of his bed. A little more and he would fall off, which was very unusual considering how big it was. Usually he had enough space to move around in his sleep without coming close to the edge. His pillows where tossed around the bed and some on the floor. His plushie had somehow landed all the way on his desk and in front of it was another pillow on the floor.
The blanket was in a knot around him. He looked to the table where he placed the ring, but it wasn't there. Wait, he felt something in the palm of his hand. He was holding that strange ring. A cold chill ran down his spine. He couldn't get that dream out of his head. He shook his head and tried to convince himself it was only a dream. He placed the ring inside a drawer and picked up his plushie hugging it.
"It was just a dream and nothing more." He told himself. He placed the plushie on a chair and went off to change out of his pajamas. He didn't feel like sleeping in anymore and he would get Minimus to pick up this mess later.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the Galactic Guardians Head Quarters, Admiral Degill paced around his office. "That ring was the most important part of the treasure. From what I've learned so far, princess Alpha was wearing it when she was found, but her mother threw it into a lake and refused to bury her daughter's dead body with that ring. Just before the princess's funeral, they saw her wearing that ring and didn't know how she got it. Her father held on to it while she was buried and ordered it to be destroyed later since they blamed the man who gave it to her for her death. This was such a tragic event it was forced into forgetfulness and it turned into a legend a lot faster then it normally happens with such stories. Now the war continues, even if only two generations later they didn't know why they fought. They want that ring back, maybe as proof of the past or to erase it completely." Degill had tried to talk to the current rulers of both kingdoms but it was no use. Without the peace offering being complete, there would be no peace.
Betty, Sparky and X-5 looked at each other, as if trying to find an answer in the other. They didn't know what could have happened to the ring. The treasures were kept safe by the galactic guardians and they haven't seen anyone who wasn't either a galactic guardian or a royal guard in the area. "We'll start an investigation and find out what happened to that ring." Betty was determined.
"I'll leave the investigation to you, Atomic Betty. We're all counting on you," Admiral Degill dismissed them. They saluted and left.
xoxox xox xoxox
Their first step in this investigation was to find out who was transporting the ring to the small planet in between the two kingdoms. They examined the profile they were given by the royal guards and the guard assigned for this task appeared to be trustworthy, but they wouldn't know unless they interviewed him. He looked nervous and worried, which made him look suspicious during the interview. "Tell us the truth," Atomic Betty insisted. "If you are as you say innocent then you have nothing to fear."
"I saw her," The guard was full of fear. "I saw the ghost of princess Alpha. She said that the past couldn't be forgotten without the truth being revealed and told me that she would rather have the ring be lost than destroyed or locked way and forgotten along with the injustice of the past. I was terrified of the ghost, it's nothing like fighting dragons and thieves. I dropped the ring on the ground and closed the small chest where it was, then the ghost disappeared. I brought the empty chest into the room where all the treasure of the peace offering would be kept. The ring must be on the ground somewhere, but the ghost might be guarding it."
"That sounds scary," Sparky shivered.
"It sounds illogical," X-5 reasoned. "I don't believe him. What about you captain?"
"If this story was true, then someone must have found the ring already. The royal family sent enough guards to cover the entire planet. If you dropped it there it should have been found, unless someone stole it, but who and why?" Betty didn't quite believe the man's story, but she had to admit if he was lying, he was a great actor. "I'll leave this as it is for now and save judgment for later. Let's ask the guards who are in the search."
xoxox xox xoxox
No one knew anything about the ring. They claimed that they haven't found anything at all. The one transporting the ring was the primary suspect, but it didn't make any sense when compared to his loyal background. If he did see something, ghost or not, that made him drop the ring, then that made the entire search team, which was quite numerous, suspects too. She didn't like the sound of this possibility, but it could have been someone in the galactic guardians. Then again, a thief could have created the ghost illusion with a hologram and stolen the ring, but no one was seen there and sadly there were many thieves in that galaxy.
Another point was that this conflict had been on the news a lot lately and it could be seen by the super villains as an opportunity to gain a more evil reputation. If that was the case, then it should make it easier, since professional super villains tend to announce their crimes. Then again, whoever stole it might be keeping it a secret to affect the kingdoms by keeping them at war. The trail was unclear and there were too many suspects. If only there was a way to eliminate the possibilities and come up with the culprit or find a new lead. This was one of those missions where they would have to play detectives.
xoxox xox xoxox
It had been three days since the investigation started and no real clues were found. There were too many suspects, too many possibilities. Meanwhile, Maximus was getting impatient. Even if it wasn't too long ago that the war was restarted, he wanted to announce that he caused it and get the credit. "Minimus, go find that ring from the basement."
"Do I have to your evilness? I think it's cursed." In the last few days, strange things had happened in the lair, involving the ghost of a young woman and an old doll.
Everything always happened near the ring, so Maximus had moved it to the basement, but he would need to have it as proof that he was responsible for stealing it. "Go get it now!"
xoxox xox xoxox
Minimus knew that one way or another, he would end up getting that ring from the basement. He had no choice so he went to get it. "Hello, ghost lady?" He entered the basement area of the lair. "I don't mean to bother you, but the boss told me to give him the ring so he can announce that he stole it. He's the one who sent me so if you're going to curse anyone, it's his evilness' fault not mine." Everything appeared to be quiet. Maybe the ghost was sleeping, if ghosts even sleep.
Suddenly from behind a pile of old boxes, a little girl jumped out. "Hi!"
"Ah! Your evilness!" Minimus started running, but stopped at the door. It was just a little girl, not a ghost. He cautiously walked back to where she was. "How did you get in here?"
"Things are not what they appear to be. They need to understand," the little girl disappeared.
Now he was sure she really was a ghost, the ghost lady must have disguised herself. "Your evilness!" This time Minimus didn't stop until he was out of the basement. He closed the door and continued running.
"Minimus what is taking so long? You had better not lost that ring," Maximus had no intentions of going into the basement by himself, but Minimus was taking too long. Did he forget where he put the ring?
The sidekick came running and bumped into Maximus. "I saw, I saw... ow!"
Maximus hit him on the head. "Watch where you're going! What is it that you saw?"
"I saw a little girl and then she disappeared. She looked like the ghost lady from yesterday, only younger." Minimus stammered. "Do we have to keep that ring here your evilness?"
"No, I'll announce that I stole it today then hide it somewhere. Too many strange things have been happening around here." Maximus decided. "Go back in there and get it, I need to have it at my evil press conference as proof."
"But your evilness, I don't want to!" Minimus complained.
"Go!" Maximus opened the door and kicked Minimus into the basement. He closed the door, "don't come out without it."
"Your evilness, don't leave me trapped in here with the ghost!" Minimus tried to open the door, but it was no use. The only way out was to get that ring. He kept an eye out for the ghost and carefully walked to the place where he had left the ring. There was no sign of the ghost. He picked it up with the end of two fingers, not wanting to touch it too much. "I have it your evilness, open the door."
Maximus opened the door but he didn't take the ring Minimus was trying to give him. "You're my sidekick, it's your job to carry things for me."
"But I don't want to carry it!" Minimus switched to his angry face and complained. "I always have to do the hard stuff. What if the ghost kills me? Who's going to be your sidekick then?"
"Shut up and let's go, I don't want to be late."
xoxox xox xoxox
That is how Atomic Betty, Sparky and X-5 recovered the missing ring. The fact that Maximus had announced his crime on universal TV made it a lot easier to find. But it wasn't over yet, for the ghost appeared once again to tell the story of her past. When Betty held the ring, she instantly fell unconscious and Sparky and X-5 had to take her back to the Starcruiser. No one was sure what happened. She appeared to be in a semi-normal condition. She was just sleeping and didn't wake up.
"Where am I?" Sparky and X-5 were not there. She was at a palace it looked familiar yet different at the same time. She tried to talk to people, but soon realized they couldn't see or hear her, as if she wasn't even there. She didn't know how she got there or where she was, but maybe if she listened to what was happening around her, she could figure it out.
"Do you think it's a good idea to come here?" A young man asked.
"Of course, it's a costume party, no one will recognize us." Another man, just a little younger then the first replied.
"You always have a way of getting us into trouble cousin," the first man spoke.
"Lighten up Centauri, we'll be fine as long as we're not recognized." His cousin was no longer listening. Centauri stood at the top of the stairs, looking down beyond the dance floor. He smiled and she smiled back, Alpha. It was as if they were the only people in the entire palace, planet and universe at that moment. Centauri's cousin looked towards the lady that had him in a trance. "No, not her, she's the daughter of our family's enemies. Our kingdoms have never gotten along, but if we all mind our own business, then life will proceed in relative peace. If she recognizes you and alerts the guards, we're in trouble."
"I cannot call such an angel my enemy," Centauri voiced.
Everything appeared to move faster. The world was in fast forward. Betty saw the rest of the events of the ball unfold in seconds. They danced, looking into each other eyes beyond the masks they wore as if in a trance.
Then the scene changed. Betty didn't know why, but she knew that months had passed between the night of the ball and the time where she was now. She was in a forest near a lake. There was a woman hiding in a tree and another woman running towards the lake, Alpha. The woman in the tree threw a dagger at Alpha. The dagger had the symbol of Centauri's family in the handle. It reached its unsuspecting target and Alpha fell with blood spilling from her chest.
The dagger reached her heart and killed her. Centauri was coming to meet with her there, but he arrived too late. The killer had already escaped. He found his love dead with a dagger marked with his family symbol in her heart. Just as he held her in his arms and tried to remove the dagger, the guards found him and accused him of her death.
What they didn't know was that Alpha had seen the killer a second before she died. That woman hiding in the tree was her sister. Alpha was the oldest of three sisters and it was the second oldest that had killed her for the throne. She considered Alpha to be a traitor unworthy of becoming queen.
With the symbol of Centauri's family in the dagger, she knew he would be blamed. They would probably wait for him to come meet her and accuse him of her death. Alpha promised for her love that until his name was cleared, she would not rest. Her spirit held on to her engagement ring, a symbol of their love, so tightly, that when it left her body, that is where it stayed.
Alpha's fianc e, her parents and her youngest sister cried for her and blamed Centauri. They sentenced him to a cruel death and then the war began. Alpha's spirit haunted the one who killed her until her sister tried to draw her spirit out of the ring into a doll that was hers when she was little. This was to weaken her spirit by changing the item in which it resides. It had to be something familiar to her, that's why she chose Alpha's old doll. She thought the spell had been successful and burned the doll to destroy Alpha's wondering soul. But her love for Centauri was too strong and her spirit stayed in the engagement ring.
As time passed, they thought the princess had gone insane with sadness caused by the death of her older sister. She constantly spoke of the spirit of Alpha tormenting her morning, noon and night, but she never told the truth about her sister's death. She became obsessed with unsuccessful spells until she left the planet forever.
She wanted to escape Alpha's spirit. She would not be queen, but she would never reveal the truth. The third and youngest princess, who knew nothing of the true story of her sisters, assumed the throne after that, but she never let anyone call her queen, she would always be the princess and always think of her sister Alpha as the only rightful queen.
Betty was now at a garden at night. There was a fountain at the end of the path. She walked towards it and saw someone hiding behind it in the darkness. She was a galactic guardian in a purple uniform. She looked familiar. "Granny?" Betty was surprised. Could this be her grandmother's past self?
A guard could be seen at the other side of the path. "Someone's coming," the galactic guardian spoke.
"Centauri, you need to leave," Alpha and Centaury were hiding near by.
"I know, but first I have something to give you," he placed the ring on Alpha's finger. "Alpha, will you marry me?"
"Your grandmother was the only one who knew of our engagement, she helped us see each other and protected out secret." Betty turned around to face the ghost of Alpha. "You are her direct descendant so I know I can trust you. As I promised on that day, I will not rest until the truth is revealed. I do not want Centauri to be thought of as the one who killed me."
"How can I help?" Betty asked.
"My sister kept a journal where she wrote all her secrets. She left in such haste she didn't take it along and it's still hidden in her room. No one has been allowed in there since she left," the ghost of Alpha revealed.
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Betty woke up in the Starcruiser. Sparky was hugging her and crying because she wouldn't wake up, while X-5 repeated, sounding like he was in denial, that this was completely illogical because her vital signs were fine, so she had to wake up. "Sparky, X-5!"
"Chief, you're alive!" Sparky cheered.
"It is wonderful that you finally woke up captain," X-5 added.
"Don't worry, I'm alright and I know what happened years ago. It's about time the truth was revealed and with some help from the Galactic Council, the doors to the truth will finally be opened." Atomic Betty was right, because it took that much to allow her to go into that sealed room. The journal revealing what truly happened years ago was found and with that and the ring, peace finally returned to that galaxy.
xoxox xox xoxox
As Atomic Betty, Sparky and X-5 headed out of the palace to the Starcruiser, she looked to the sky and thought she saw two figures dancing in the air, flying higher and higher until they became shooting stars in the distance.
"Twas nothing that could come between the star crossed lovers' dance, as when Alpha and Centauri fell into each other's trance."
End of Planet 107
Disclaimer: I do not own Atomic Betty. Special thanks to Barry I. Grauman.