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Continue To The Next Chapter - Chapter 2

THE TROUBLE WITH TERNI

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER ONE

TIME : April 2, 2014 8:00 A.M.
PLACE : Deep Space

A lonely ship slowly passed through the emptiness of space. It looked like an ordinary family class spaceship made for carrying up to six people on multi-day journeys across the galaxy, in fact it was a family class spaceship, but inside something more important than family vacation plans was going on.

The ship belonged to M.W.G.D. (Milky Way Galaxy Defense). It was used whenever they didn't want to arouse suspicion and there was no need to hurry. This was one of those times. In fact, inside the ship was Shawn Cobalt, the leader of M.W.G.D., and his four friends from Earth. Shawn himself had come from Earth but that was a long time ago. His current responcibilities covered the entire galaxy, so he felt like he really didn't have a home planet anymore even though he would proudly say that he was born on Earth.

Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa had joined M.W.G.D. much later than Shawn did, but they were known throughout the galaxy as heroes. The news of how they had saved the king and queen of Triax from the Rulers troops about two weeks earlier was still fresh in most peoples minds. None of them were used to their newly found fame. Even Lisa, who had been a millionaire was nowhere near as famous when she had been on Earth.

Shawn was well aware that his friends needed a break, so he told them to dress casually. All of them complied. Peter had on a pair of green shorts and a white T-shirt with some red lettering on it. He got the shirt back on Earth when he participated in the Hunger Walk of 2009. It was something he had been frequently involved in before joining M.W.G.D. and he was always proud to show he had helped out. Hank was originally going to wear blue jeans, but when Shawn told him that the planet they were going to sometimes had temperatures exceeding 40 C (104 F), Hank decided to wear shorts instead. He put on plain white shorts and a light blue T-shirt without any writting on it. Linda had decided to wear red and looked like a jogger just before starting on a long run. Only Lisa had something fancy on, a bright yellow designer tennis outfit complete with a short skirt that made her look like a high school cheerleader and some jogging shoes that had obviously never been worn before, but for her anything that didn't cost over a thousand dollars was considered "casual". Unlike the others, Shawn was wearing his uniform, a navy blue, military style outfit with a badge on the left shirt pocket indicating he was the leader of M.W.G.D. However, Shawn was going to be inside most of the time and didn't need to worry about the weather as much as the others did.

Shawn turned his attention to the matters at hand. "What is our E.T.A., Peter?" he asked. "Peter? PETER!"

Peter snapped to alertness. He had been daydreaming about going back to Earth and the question had caught him completely off guard. "Sorry, sir," Peter apologized. "but I'm getting tired of going from planet to planet sneaking around on some secret mission, stopping the bad guys from taking over the universe, filling out some long, boring paperwork, and then leaving before we ever really get to know anybody. Just once I'd like to stay on a planet for more than a month. I'd like to meet someone that has nothing whatsoever to do with M.W.G.D."

One thing Shawn greatly respected about Peter was his honesty. If something was troubling him, he would come right out and say it without any exaggerations or putting the blame on anybody else if at all possible. The others turned to Shawn as if to say that Peter had described the way they all felt.

Shawn understood this before Peter ever opened his mouth. "That is why were going to Terni," explained Shawn. "It is like Disney World, the Caribean, and the Smithsonian rolled into one. Experts have called it the best vacation spot in the galaxy."

Shawn went on to tell the story of Farlos Ristochae, more commonly known as Mr. Terni, and how he had risen from being as ordinary billionaire to become the richest man in the galaxy. He currently had a bank account with eighteen digits in it, the first multiquadrillionaire. However, in spite of all his wealth, there was one thing he couldn't seem to do. He could not get the love of his life to marry him.

One day, Farlos suddenly had an idea for a grand scale proposal. He found a small desert planet that was owned by just a few people and payed them ten times what the property was worth. Then, he went to work building the largest amusement park the galaxy had ever seen. With all the building contractors and construction crews he was able to hire, the park was finished in less than a week. Fortunately for Farlos, the planet still didn't have a name, so he named both the amusement park and the entire planet after the love of his life, Terni.

He invited the press, many great foreign diplomats, and of course Terni to attend the grand opening of his new amusement park. He planned to reveal its name and make his proposal at the same time. Everything went according to plan. All the people he had invited were there plus thousands of curious spectators knowing how rich he was and expecting the best vacation of their lives. They were not disappointed. Farlos offered free admission on the first day to celebrate its grand opening.

However, when he made his proposal, Terni reluctantly turned him down.

"I love you very much," she explained. "but I feel like your trying to buy me. I know you don't mean to, but you become to involved with showing of f to the press that you forget to tell people how you really feel inside. You need to trust people more, open up, and tell others how you feel about subjects other than fame and fortune."

Farlos was deeply saddened by Terni's rejection, but he knew it wasn't a true rejection. All she wanted was some time for Farlos to change and show his true colors. In fact, she was the first to enter the new amusement park that beared her name to the delight of the press and others in the crowd. It was at that moment that Farlos knew why he loved Terni. She was the only person he had ever met who loved him and not the fact that he was rich. At that moment, Farlos made a promise to himself that he would live the way he wanted to and not the way others expected him to.

Being the first person to officially own his own planet gave him a tremendous advantage and he wanted to use that advantage to the best of his ability. First, he sold all the property he had on other planets and concentrated on Terni. Next, he went to work designing a series of buildings, each containing the lifestyles and features of a particular planet. He even designed one special building with the best of all the worlds in it which became his new home.

Meanwhile, he had been seeing Terni frequently. She had noticed the change in him and was pleased. Two years to the day after Farlos's first proposal, he invited Terni to his home and proposed again. This time she accepted.

Their wedding was the social event of year. People came from everywhere to see it. It was even covered by a few T.V. stations. Most people remembered when Terni turned him down and were glad to see that everything had worked out and they were both happy.

After their honeymoon, Farlos or Mr. Terni as he had been affectionately named by the general public, had some new problems to worry about. People began to like it on Terni so much that they wanted to live there. He had to set up his own form of government creating the first economic monarchy on a planetary scale. In other words, he was the head of the government simply because he owned the entire planet.

In the thirty years since, he has continued to build new and exciting things on Terni. There is a building for almost every planet that has sent visitors to Terni and it has become an important place for diplomatic negotiations. Being a neutral site, two disputing parties will often send a representative to Terni to try and settle their disagreements while enjoying Terni's hospitable environment. Normally, some sort of cooperation was established.

"He has tried to remain as neutral as possible so people would agree to come to Terni and try and settle their conflicts peacefully," Shawn continued. "but he couldn't afford to be neutral when it came to the Ruler. Inside his home, he has established a secret M.W.G.D. base and he use to work with X all the time assisting in any way he possibly could from financial assistance to adding his own suggestions to the plans being discussed."

X was the former leader of M.W.G.D. before Shawn assumed command. He was believed to have been killed about a year back, but no remains were ever found. The others wondered what had really happened to him.

"Has the Ruler ever tried to attack Terni?" asked Lisa.

"No," replied Shawn. "The Ruler knows that in spite of being a small planet, Terni is well equipped for defending itself and its location is close enough to some of the larger planets that help would arrive oefore Terni had been conquered and even the Ruler can't fight the entire galaxy at once. Terni has yet to be attacked."

"I don't like the way you said that last sentence," complained Peter. He had known Shawn long enough to know that he was taking them to Terni for something other than a vacation.

"Relax, Peter," encouraged Shawn. "My mission is on a much smaller scale than a planetary invasion. Now what is our E.T.A.?"

"We should arrive on Terni in about 45 minutes," Peter answered. This time he had been paying attention.

"What are we going to do when we get there?" demanded Hank.

"You'll see," Shawn declared being secretive as usual. "but I promise you plenty of vacation time."

TIME : 8:45 A.M.
PLACE : The official Welcome Center of Terni

As soon as they entered the Welcome Center, Shawn and the others were greeted by a rich looking elderly could that all of them knew could only be Farlos and Terni Ristochae. Farlos looked at Shawn's badge and knew he was the new leader of M.W.G.D..

"I didn't expect you to come!" he exclaimed. He had worked with Shawn before, but he figured that the leader of M.W.G.D. would have other things to do.

"After all you have done for us, any request you make is given top priority," Shawn explained in a friendly tone of voice. "These are my friends Linda, Hank, Peter, and Lisa. All of them work for M.W.G.D. and will be at your service."

After everyone had had a proper introduction, Terni added, "And we are at your service. You shall receive free admission to any part of the planet you want to go to and you will receive free food and lodging at our most luxurious hotel. Shawn knows where to go and if you ever need anything, just ask us directly. We will give it to you if it is humanly possible."

"Do you have a hundred quadrillion credits I can borrow?" said Peter jokingly.

He had made such jokes with Lisa, but compared to Farlos and Terni, Lisa was a poor starving beggar.

"I see you have a sense of humor," Farlos remarked. "There is never enough humor in the world."

"Thank you," smiled Peter.

He didn't expect such a positive reaction to one of his one liners. Sometimes, people were even offended by his side comments. He could normally tell who could take a joke and who couldn't, but he wasn't always right.

"I'll need one of you to help me with my assignment," Shawn requested. "The rest of you are free to take the day off."

Peter was the one who normally volunteered for everything, but this time he wanted a vacation and wasn't about to let anything prevent that. After a long silence, Linda volunteered.

"Thank you," Shawn began. "Now just follow me."

Shawn and Linda walked off to right followed closely by Farlos and Terni. Peter, Lisa, and Hank were left alone to do as they pleased.

"Now where would you like to go?" wondered Peter with a hint of sarcasm in his voice. He already knew the answer, but he wanted to see what their reaction would be.

"The amusement park!" shouted Lisa and Hank at the same time like a pair of over-excited children.

TIME : 9:00 A.M.
PLACE : The center of the Terni Amusement Park

Peter, Hank, and Lisa looked around at all the sights and sounds that were there to see. It was similar to some of the amusement parks on Earth with the same types of rides and scenery. The only difference was the technology on Terni was much more advanced. There were things that Earth people had never even heard about. There were hologram rooms with pictures taken all over the galaxy and a jetpack section for people wanted to practice various sports involving the use of a jetpack.

"Let's go on the Galactic Peril," suggested Hank.

"That's a great idea!" agreed Lisa.

Peter was not quite as enthusiastic. The Galactic Peril was a roller coaster ride and Peter didn't care too much for roller coasters no matter how fancy they were. Hank saw that Peter wanted to go elsewhere.

"I'll tell you what. Why don't we each go our separate ways and regroup here at noon?" Hank advised them. "That way we'll each be able to do what we want to do."

Peter and Lisa agreed that it was the best way to handle things. They probably would have separated anyway, but it would have been much harder to regroup without a proper place and time.

With that taken care of, Hank and Lisa set off to wait in line for the Galactic Peril. Peter, on the other hand, looked for something quiet where the lines were not quite as long. Unknown to him, he was being followed. Someone was following him, waiting for him to stop at one of the attractions so they could get acquainted.

At last, Peter saw something he was interested in. It was a small dome shaped room labeled Hologram Thought Projection. Peter could tell that Terni was the place to go for holograms. However, none of the other places claimed to be able to project your own thoughts. Surprisingly, the lines for this particular attraction were not that long. Peter guessed that this was because it was one of the older attractions and most people had already seen it.

The stranger who had been following him got in line behind him, but Peter didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, yet. A short time later, Peter and the stranger were inside the room. It looked sort of like a planetarium only each chair contained a pair of headphones and several small electrodes which would placed on the forehead when they were instructed to do so.

Peter sat down in one of the chairs and put on the earphones. Some soft music was playing. Almost immediately, a young woman came over and sat down next to him. She smiled at Peter as if she knew him from somewhere.

"Hi," she said in a soothing, melodious voice. "My name is Detrina and I have a feeling that we're going to be the best of friends."

It was the stranger who had been following him.

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