Advisory: this chapter contains strong language.

“Yes, Your Highness,” the guards said grudgingly.

“That’s better,” Jay said.

Jay, Laura and Shakita marched right on up to the bridge unchallenged by the other crew members.

The door to the bridge was closed shut.

Shakita tried to open it by looking inside the retinal scan access control device. The device recognized Shakita immediately but still said "access denied".

With a soft, calm, soothingly condescending voice, the ship's computer said, "I'm sorry, Ambassador, the bridge area is restricted. I can't let you in."

"What do you mean can't let me in??? I have Palace-level clearance!" Shakita yelled out.

Jay banged on the door. "Open up, asshole!!!", he yelled, thinking T'Loria'an could hear him. "He can't hear you, there's an airlock between here and the bridge," Shakita said.

The computer recognized Jay's voice, and knew he was the prince. "I'm sorry, Your Highness, the bridge area is restricted. I can't let you in."

"May I ask why???" Jay asked harshly.

"This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it," the computer said.

"Mission my FOOT! Open this goddamn door! Now!!!" Jay yelled at the computer.

"I'm sorry, Your Highness, I can't let you in, the Senator would not like that," the computer said.

"We'll just see about that." Jay raised his fist up in the air and pointed it right at the retinal scan device. "I don't give a flying rat's bee-hind what the Senator likes or doesn't like. This is ridiculous. Stand back, y'all," he said.

With a groan and a grunt he sent a blast from his fist, aimed right at the access control device.

"Ow, you're hurting me," the computer said.

"I'll put in a maintenance request. After I get through saving TWO planets!"

"Look, Your Highness, I can see you're really upset about this..." the computer said.

"Damn straight I'm upset! Shut the hell up!"

In about five seconds there was a smoking and gaping hole where the device was.

Then Jay kicked the door a couple of times and it snapped off its hinges.

The three went through a short airlock, which opened with no problems, and entered the bridge at the front of the vessel. At the door, two of the mates tried to attack Jay, but he blasted one with a blast of light from his fist, wounding him in his thigh with a shrieking cry of pain.

"You ain't hurt, you Zarthans ain't nothin' but a bunch of skin and electrons, Get the hell up," he said, lifting the mate up by his collar and shoving him aside, and he slumped back in his seat. The other mates wisely backed off.

Outside, all the ships stopped firing at one another, as the reddish glow of the planet Mars loomed outside.

T’Loria’an’s cold blue eyes stared at his tenacious opponent. “Well, Prince T’Va’an, we meet again. You are quite adept at piloting your mother’s flying eggs. My best pilots failed at shooting you down and destroying the two of you, as I ordered them explicitly to do. I punished them accordingly.”

Jay was so angry he could not think straight. He just stood there.

Shakita and Laura stood by quietly, uncertain of what Jay or T’Loria’an would do.

The two stood regarding one another, each one pissed at the other.

Finally, Jay spoke.

“You dumb ass son of a bitch. You had my dad killed. In New Orleans. You ordered the hit,” Jay said coldly.

“No shit, Sherlock! Yes, you impudent fool, you are absolutely right! I did order that hit. I did it secretly so no one would know about it. That was to be the beginning of the purge of you and your…girlfriend and your mother.”

“Uh-huh. So you wanted to get rid of all of us. I knew it. You wanted to get us right out of the way, all these years. Why?”

“Because your mother wouldn’t listen to reason and join forces with me and the Black Crystal clan.”

“Yeah, that’s something I want to ask you about! Can you possibly tell me WHY did you want my momma to join YOU and your assholes? Why??? What in your right mind made you think she would do that?”

“I had tried to get her on our side before, but she rejected me each time. She knew the power and prestige she could have as a Black Crystal queen, but her heart was always too focused on sugar and spice and everything nice, to listen to MY superior reasoning. But when Serleena killed your godmother, Ambassador Lauranna, the queen was so angry at the Men In Black, your beloved, revered, idolized Men In Black whom you so loyally served like a stupid lapdog Earthling - they were the ones who failed to protect Lauranna and allowed Serleena to kill her. I finally had your mother right where I wanted her - mad as hell.”

“Oh yeah??? How the hell did Serleena even know the Light of Zartha was on Earth in the first place? That was classified information, T’Loria’an. You leaked that information. You admitted it to Momma just now, I heard every bit of that. You sold Laura out to anyone who wanted to take her energy - or mine - and use it for themselves.”

“Actually, T’Va’an, my plan was to have someone else take the blame for stealing you two and making a deal to share power and take over the universe myself when the culprit was arrested by the Intergalactic Council police,” T’Loria’an replied.

“So you’d make a deal and double cross whoever stole the Light, and me, you’d sell them out, snitch them out to the IC, and you’d kidnap both of us and use our power to be invincible. Was that it?”

T’Loria’an gave a sarcastic smirk. “You catch on pretty fast, my lad. And my operatives probably would have eliminated my patsy long before the IC even got wind of the scheme."

"I hope Serleena doesn't find out about that," said Shakita.

"What do I care about that conceited bundle of weeds? Serleena is a charlatan, an amateur, and expendable. Anyways, the truth, the simple truth of it is...frankly, I wanted to have you two, and your mother, for myself. Myself!!! The combined power of the three of you would have made me unstoppable. No force in the universe would have defeated me. I would have complete and free rein to do anything I wanted - anything, to take over any planet, to impose my absolute control and will over all beings."

"Why Momma?" Jay asked sharply.

“In the wake of Lauranna’s demise, your mother almost had your other father, Agent Kay, tried on all sorts of charges and was so upset that your Men In Black, in their own sick and juvenile fear of the ultimate power you two possess, wanted to keep you on Earth forever, never to take the throne of Zartha but to live your life as common Earthlings - your mother was so incensed and outraged about that, I convinced her to draft a declaration of war against the Earth, take the two of you and join me and the Black Crystal clan. She would marry me and become my queen and I would become YOUR stepfather, T’Va’an!!! Ha haa!!!”

Jay recoiled in disgust. “Holy shit.”

T’Loria’an gave another smirkly chuckle. “Yes, you find that revolting and disgusting, don’t you! It was this close to being a done DEAL!!!! And once that deal was done, we would have immediately punished the Earthlings for their centuries of brazen insolence and impudence by destroying it. With OUR combined power, T’Va’an, we would have obliterated Earth in five minutes. Turned it all into a flaming pile of rubble. Problem solved. But your mother got cold feet, like she always did, and wouldn’t sign the declaration.”

Angie was still on one of the viewscreens. Jay turned to her. “Is this all true, Momma?”

Angie sighed and looked at Jay and tears were welling up. “Yes, T’Va’an, it is true. All of it.”

Jay hung his head down for a second in disappointment. Angie continued.

“Hear me out, baby. When you were a kid back in New Orleans, T’Loria’an did indeed make several proposals to merge the royal court with the Black Crystals. As terrible as it sounds, it would have given our family a whole lot of power, Jason. It would have made you and Laura 100 percent - well, maybe more like 98 or 99 percent invincible. But not even MIB would have been able to keep the two of you from doing anything you wanted once you guys grew up. The Black Crystals had a lot of popular support among the S’aa, so politically it would have made sense at the time. But I always rejected T’Loria’an each time.”

“And each time an ill-advised mistake!” said the senator.

“Let her finish”, Jay snapped. He then looked up at the viewscreen at his mother, and sighed.

“Come on, Momma, you shouldn’t've worried about me. Not to the point of hooking up with this low life!”

“I hated the idea," said Angie. "Please believe me. It was just as sick and disgusting as you think it is. I was trying to tell you all that in the dream we had in the basement back home, Jason. I had a very difficult choice to make. Very difficult. A queen will do anything to protect her planet, and a mother will do anything to protect her children...but when it all came down to it, the price T’Loria’an was asking was too much, Jason. Too much.

"He wanted our Light and our freedom, Jason. Instead of learning how to use the Light inside him already, he just wanted to take ours. T'Loria'an wanted to conquer the universe and he wanted to start by conquering us. Just because the Black Crystals would have been part of the royal court, that would have given us no protection in the long run. We would have been kept alive entirely at T’Loria’an's personal mercy, discretion and pleasure. He could have destroyed us, assassinated us, ordered all of us killed by his guards, at any time if he wanted to. And still taken our Light energy.”

Jay tuned to T’Loria’an. “What happened to the invincible part, asshole? You deliberately set Momma up to sell all of us out, so you could quite literally chew us up and spit us out! Use up all our light energy all for yourself and leave nothin' but the skin, just like Serleena did to Ben!"

"I'm impressed, T'Va'an. For someone with Earthling blood you are actually quite perceptive," sneered the senator.

" wanted to suck the living Light right out of us so you could...what whas it you said, impose your absolute control over the universe. The ultimate scum of the universe and you would have gotten that way with OUR energy. I bet that was the whole reason for that wrist thing Serleena was wearing! Right??? Am I right??? Was that the deal, T’Loria’an???”

Angie went on. “We are some pretty damn hard light beings to kill, but he would have found a way to do some serious damage to us. That device he gave Serleena was only one of many, many different ways he could have taken our Light energy away from us. But I was frantic enough and desperate enough where I almost considered joining him as an acceptable option to even have a chance at keeping you kids.”

“Thank God you didn’t do that, Angie,” Laura said. “Thank God you stood your ground and didn’t sell out to him.” She looked at T’Loria’an with a cold stare, one just as hard as he returned to her. “I don’t give a rat's ass how much power being part of the Black Crystals would have given us, or you, T’Loria’an. If Angie joined with you she would have been an accomplice to your sick and sad crimes and me and Jay would have been dragged right into the thick of your bullshit, and since we were kids we couldn't have done a damn thing about it."

"People all over this universe would have been forced to be your slaves - or exterminated - and OUR names and reputations would have been completely tied to that. We would have been your hostages, your prisoners. And I'll be one to bet if we complained, if we so much as made a peep about what you were doing - in OUR name, T’Loria’an, in the name of the Light of Zartha! - and tried to stop you, you would have had us killed.

"No freedom, no joy, no love, no happiness, or else T’Loria’an sends out his thugs like some, some, some boss or some druglord back in Brooklyn, to make a hit! The universe would be a pretty sad and gloomy place with you in charge.”

“That is where you are wrong, woman!” the senator replied with a snap of annoyance. “You see, as the queen has just reminded us, we are indeed beings of Light. The light of all creation. That light means power! Ultimate, pure power. Because we are creatures who hold that power, it is our birthright, our divine destiny to rule Zartha and the universe - to have ultimate power and utter dominion over all living things, because we have the energy of Light to use as a tool to dominate and lord over anyone and everyone, at will. Anyone who doesn’t like it, be they Zarthan, Earthling or whatever, can be vaporized. That’s their choice.”

“That’s NOT what Light is all about, T’Loria’an,” Laura said. “You are so wrong. That was never the intention of creation. That was never the whole point of Light or having the gift of Light inside. The point of Light is to create. To create; in the spirit of joy, happiness and freedom. The point of Light is to show the way and set people free, not to close doors, NOT to keep people prisoners, like you want to do. The point of Light is to help everyone see the beauty of all things, to honor and respect all things, to show LOVE, T’Loria’an. Don’t you get it??? That’s what the Light is about!!!”

“And just WHO, you insolent woman, you genetic freak, you WAITRESS, who are YOU, to tell me what Light is and isn’t about???” T’Loria’an said, his voice raising with annoyed anger.

“She is the Light of Zartha, and well qualified to tell you and everyone else what Light is and isn’t about,” Jay replied, almost as sharply. “She’s not a freak. She’s a miracle. Laura is what happens when people – when light beings like Lauranna do things out of love and not out of hate. But assholes like you have no idea what love even is. So just shut the hell up and listen to us.”

“I’m all ears,” T’Loria’an said.

“First of all, I’m placing you under arrest for conspiracy to take over Earth.”

“Arrest???? Under what authority?” T’Loria’an barked. “You’re not an MIB agent anymore.”

“Wrong again. On the way up here I found out my decommission from MIB isn’t fully effective until I’m crowned king, so technically I’m still MIB and can still act in that capacity. But I ALSO have the authority Momma granted me as crown prince. Authority I ALWAYS had, all my life, technically. You’re under arrest for conspiracy to take over Earth, conspiracy to kill me and Laura, conspiracy to assassinate my mom and take over Zartha, as well as for leaking the information that resulted in Lauranna’s murder, and for ordering the hit on my father in the ‘70’s. Basically high treason, sedition and espionage and capital murder.”

T’Loria’an gave Jay a defiant and jaunty smirkly chuckle. “Quite the litany of charges, eh?”

“Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” Jay replied with a resolute sharpness.

“And what, my dear Agent Jay, in the hell are you going to do if I decide to resist arrest? I am a senator of the S’aa tribe. I have immunity from prosecution as a member of the tribal council.”

“NOT when it comes to capital murder, treason or doing anything that affects the sovereignty and security of Zartha or our allies. You hit the trifecta on that one, T’Loria’an. And what’s more…I ain’t letting you off this ship. I’m assuming command of this vessel effective immediately and we’re going home. You are relieved of your duties as captain of this starship!!!”

With that, T’Loria’an had about all he could take of Jay. He began to seethe with anger. He lunged forward as if to challenge him with another verbal barrage, but Jay raised his fist up as if to fire a blast of light right at his torso.

“Don’t go there!” Jay shouted. “I will blast a hole through your sorry little wanna-be Jedi ass so goddamn big I can drive a Krispy Kreme truck right through it!!! Just back off, T’Loria’an! Right now! Put your hands behind your head! Do it, asshole!!! Step away in a backwards motion, slowly! No sudden moves! I ain’t playin’!!!”

With Jay’s fist raised and ready to fire, T’Loria’an scowlingly placed his hands behind his head and stepped back slowly towards the front panels of the ship.

Jay went on. “And don’t go hitting any self-destruct buttons on that panel, ‘cause Laura and I will pulse this whole ship out and disable it and I will still blast a hole through you.”

“Have it your way, son of Angelique. It appears as though I have been defeated. Fine. But realize this: If I am imprisoned for my - my crimes, as you put it - you realize at that point, all you’re doing is asking for a very bloody and destructive civil war,” T’Loria’an said gravely. “And if that happens, you might as well say goodbye to Earth, after you just got finished saving it.”

“It’s the choice of the Zarthan people to have a civil war or not. I don’t think they’ll be having one, after they’ve been hearing your conversation with Momma. We heard it all on channel A12.”

T’Loria’an’s face went white with utter shock. His eyes shot open. He became frantic and panicky.

“Tell me you didn’t say A12!!!! NOT A12!!!! No...noooo...she couldn’t have...not this, not this!!!!”

T’Loria’an whipped around to the viewscreen where Angie still appeared. “Angelique!!!! Angelique!!!! You BITCH!!! You BITCH!!! No! Tell me you didn’t put our conversation on the public radio channel!!!! For MILLIONS of Zarthans to hear!!!! Tell me!!! Tell me!!!”

“Stop calling my momma a bitch!” Jay said with a cold shout.

“What did I tell you, T’Loria’an?” Angie said. “Your hate and your anger were only going to get you defeated. Beat. Finished. You just confessed to not one but two murders and for attempted assassination of Jason and Laura AND for conspiracy to commit treason.”

T’Loria’an shot a frantic look at the first mate. “T’Nara’an!!! Show the public channel!!! On the viewscreen!!! Come on!!! Do it!!!”

The first mate nervously looked at T’Loria’an and hesitated.

“You’’re...not in command any more...he is.” The first mate looked at Jay.

T’Loria’an threw his hands up in disgust, rolled his eyes upward and slumped down in the chair in front of him.

“Whatever!” he exclaimed.

“Put the channel on the main viewscreen,” Jay ordered, walking to the captain’s seat and sitting down in it.

“Show us all whatever the Zarthan people are watching right now. And get a couple of T’Ka’ar’s guards up here with some handcuffs!”

The first mate placed the Zarthan public channels on the viewscreen. The cameras showed large crowds gathering in the S’aa village. Several members of the Black Crystals were being marched in handcuffs in the village square, by male members of Angie’s Crystal Temple priesthood - holding MIB-issue weapons.

T’Loria’an was in total shock. “My army!!! My men!!! My elite forces!!! In shackles!!! Shackles!!! I can’t believe this. She broadcast this on A12!!! the public access radio channel! She always does this!!! She always pulls stunts like this!!!”

Then Councillor T’Avl’aa appeared before the crowd to thunderous applause and cheers.

“My fellow Zarthans,” he said, “I am speaking on behalf of Her Majesty, the Great Angel of Justice and Cosmic Light, Queen Angelique. My friends, Zartha has averted a grave disaster this day. You yourselves have witnessed the triumph of our future King T’Va’an over Serleena and the former senator T’Loria’an!”

Another tremendous cheer rose up from the crowd.

“Former senator???” T’Loria’an exclaimed. “They expelled me from the Senate???? That fast???? How dare they??? How dare they???”

“Quiet, asshole, I can’t hear the TV,” Jay said.

T’Avl’aa continued. “In light of T’Loria’an’s confessions, which you all have heard a few short moments ago on the public audio channel, the tribal council had no alternative but to call an emergency session, and to formally expel him from the tribal Senate, effective immediately.”

T’Loria’an hung his head down in utter shame and disgust. Now he really was defeated. His power base was all in handcuffs and his supporters probably all renouncing, or denying, their support at this very moment. The secrets he depended on to maintain power for 25 years had all been revealed – by his own tirade.

An aide handed a slip of paper to T’Avl’aa.

“My friends, we have even more wonderful news! We have just learned that T’Va’an has placed T’Loria’an and his entire crew under arrest, aboard his starship, the Vedromia, about to travel to Earth to take it over! But thanks to the Queen and the Prince, Earth, our beloved sister planet, has been saved, as has Zartha!!!” Another tremendous cheer rose up from the crowd.

“Let it be said, for the public record, that we as your council fully and completely support the prince’s arrest of T’Loria’an and know that T’Loria’an will face justice at long last!

"From the very moment of his installation in the Senate, T’Loria’an has acted in nothing short of the worst possible interest, not only of Zartha, not only of Earth, but of all peace-loving beings throughout the universe. As every one of you well knows, T’Loria’an, time after time, again and again, has engaged in actions bordering dangerously close to sedition and even treason. The senator used his power and influence to insinuate that anyone who attempts to expose or challenge him, anyone who does not share his hysterical and utter disregard for decency, dignity and the rights guaranteed to all of us as beings of cosmic Light, must be either a sworn enemy to be destroyed or a fool to be ridiculed.

A chorus of boos rose from the crowd. T’Avl’aa went on:

"At long last, at long last, those of us who have been on the side of the Light have scored a critical and long-awaited victory for freedom and justice for all Zarthans.

"May Queen Angelique and Prince T’Va’an be praised for watching over us with their great and mighty Angelic wisdom!!!!”

Another tremendous cheer rose up from the crowd.

“Long live the King! Long live the King! Long live the King!”

Shakita rolled her eyes. “OK, they don’t need to do all THAT now,” she said. “They always get so damn carried away with that shit...”

Jay chuckled. “Momma, you broadcast the whole damn thing back home,” he said.

Angie beamed at Jason. This was the first time she heard him refer to Zartha as home. Tears began to roll down her face.

“I thought New York was home, Jason.”

Jay did all he could to hold back his own tears. “Well I thought New Orleans was home. I guess I’m starting to come around. Now what was that you were saying about runnin’ on back to the palace?”

Angie chuckled. Then she looked at her son with a smile he hadn't seen from her since he was in the first grade. It almost shocked him.

“Thank you, T’Va’an. You did pretty damn good."

Jason looked at his mother with a serious, resolute look of joy and utter respect. "Momma, I have never been one to let you down, not when I was a kid and not now."

"You did not let me down, T'Va'an. I knew you would come through today. You are blood of my blood. But all this is about more than just me. With your actions, you and the girls have just preserved and protected the freedom and the very survival of Earth AND Zartha just now. And quite possibly the whole civilized universe.

"And Laura put her ass out on the line for you today. I think you owe her a damn good honeymoon. And yes, baby, you are starting to come around.”

“OK, well does this mean I get to stop having those weird ass dreams?”

“Absolutely not, Jason. Don’t ever stop dreaming. Ever. You hear me, boy?”

Jay laughed out loud. “Yes, Momma.”

“Take that ship on back to Zartha. Shakita knows how to fly it and what to do with it once you guys get back. Y’all have a wedding to plan.”

“That we do, Momma. We’re out.”

And with that, the viewscreens switched to the radar.

Some of T’Ka’ar’s men boarded the vessel and began to cuff T’Loria’an and his crew.

Jay approached T’Loria’an and said, “I could have taken you out.”

T’Loria’an said, “And I could have taken YOU out. Or tried to. Not just now. I had dozens of chances. Going all the way back to when you were born, if not before.”

Jay said, “Why didn’t you?”

T’Loria’an said, “You are a male descendant of T’ola’an. No one knew what power you really had, or how you would use it to defend yourself and your mother. That was the big question mark. An attempt on your life might have very well caused Earth – or Zartha - to explode. You were a tough opponent, even in Angelique’s womb.”

“That’s what everybody keeps sayin’,” Jay said. “Show these men where the brig is. Then let them lock your sorry asses inside. Remember Krispy Kreme!”

The guards then led a scowling T’Loria’an down to the ship’s holding cells.

"This won't be the last you hear of me, son of Angelique! I shall always be a thorn in your side!"

"Yeah, I imagine you won't be the only one. Get his ass outta here," Jay said to the guards.

Jay sat down at the main captain’s seat. Laura stood behind him.

“This is the ship I had the dream about,” Laura said. “Everything looks exactly the same.”

Jay recoiled in surprised remembrance of the dream of the Kylothian battle. “Holy shit, I had that dream too – and this is the ship, the exact ship…”

Jay and Laura looked at each other with surprised smiles. Then Jay looked all around. The dream was indeed coming true. The Vedromia was now his personal command star vessel. From this bridge would a thousand new adventures be launched in a hundred different galaxies. But Jay said,

“I need to get a new paint job on this puppy. And some new carpet. Does this thing have a CD changer? And I hope T'Loria'an put some meal service on this thing, 'cause I'm starvin!!!”

To which Laura and Shakita laughed.

“You know, your momma designed this class of ships when we were all in junior high school,” Shakita said.

“Oh she did?” Jay exclaimed. “Damn, Momma keeps surprising me with all the shit she’s done. I should have asked her how the hell you drive this thing.”

“It’s easy,” Shakita replied, “it’s just like a big egg, just wave your hand and it goes. But the first mate does the steering.” She walked over to the first mate’s chair. The first mate was still sitting there, quaking with nervousness. “Co-conspirators in treason don’t get to drive. Get your ass outta my seat.”

Shakita pressed a couple of buttons and said, “Your Highness, you have an open mic to the fleet outside. Give them their orders.”

Jay froze for a second. He was about to make his first official command orders as a member of the royal Zarthan command structure. He wanted to do this right. “All units: this is Jay speaking. The Vedromia is now under my personal command, and this ship is now under code name Palace One. All units need to escort Palace One to Zarthan airspace, maintain combat readiness, and stand by for instructions once we get there. Palace One out.”


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Sun of Zartha

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