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About the Author

Generally, life has two sides, a positive and a

On the negative side, throughout my life there have been
people who used every opportunity to abuse, belittle and
denigrate me emotionally, physically and psychologically.
However, without their continual efforts to make my life
utterly miserable, I would not be the person I am today and
this book probably would never have been written, so I
now offer them my sincere thanks.
On the positive side I am now in the happiest retirement a
man could wish for. Why? Well apart from the fact that I
have had a very full and enriched life, theres one other
factor. I just happen to have a wonderfully enduring
friendship with a woman who is my foremost love. She is
my best friend Joy Hill with whom I am able to share
everything and discuss anything. And when you are a chap
who is naturally curious and analytical, having a kindred
spirit to talk about stuff is a real blessing.
I hope everyone enjoys reading Ruby and the Luminarian
Cross as much as I enjoyed writing it.

This story is dedicated to the memory of my beloved
brother Denis Hopkins (8/5/1953 26/3/2007) who, after
working with me on No Game For Amateurs in 1990-3
would have absolutely loved to have worked with me on
this project 20 years later.

Lloyd Hopkins





Copyright Lloyd Hopkins (2015)

The right of Lloyd Hopkins to be identified as author of this work
has been asserted by him in accordance with section 77 and 78 of
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the
Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this
publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims
for damages.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British
ISBN 9781785543739 (Paperback)
ISBN 9781785543746 (Hardback)
First Published (2015)
Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd.
25 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
E14 5LQ

Printed and bound in Great Britain

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following
Austin Macauley staff: Vinh Tran, Lily Ryan, Hayley
Knight and Gemma Cox who have always given willingly
of their time and friendly, professional assistance. But in
particular I would like to express special gratitude to three
people who have been integral to both the growth of the
story and its ultimate presentation. Firstly there is
absolutely no doubt in my mind that without my best friend
Joy Hills penchant for historical accuracy, brilliant
imagination and extraordinary, spontaneous creative input,
there wouldnt have been any foundation on which to build
this story. Secondly there is Anne Howard (also on AMs
staff) who wrote the authors report in which she offered
some really good advice. Her remarks were so unexpected
and encouraging that Joy and I were both greatly impressed
and inspired. Anne may have written just a few sentences
but they had an incredibly positive effect on us. We read
them over and over again and with each reading, our minds
went into a frenzy of creativity. So much so that the story
grew with new characters I had hitherto never imagined.
Thirdly, Greg Carter for his brilliant artistry with the cover
And finally I wish to acknowledge the Australian War
Memorial (Canberra, ACT) for producing its daily radio
segments entitled Diary of an ANZAC in
commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the landing at

Gallipoli. As I listened to those segments I was not only

reminded of my own military service (U654368 Cpl LH
Hopkins RNZASC 1964-1975) but they also inspired me to
give the story a radical makeover which culminated in the
story having a completely different conclusion.

Part one
About being psychopathic

You cant possibly be serious? Ive never heard anything so

preposterous in all my life. What absolute nonsense to
suggest that smart phone technology could have been
responsible! Professor of Sociology Ingrid Bjornstein yelled
as she stormed out of Luminarias prestigious Sumakartra
universitys common room where her colleagues from
various faculties were enjoying afternoon tea.
Although almost all the academic staff had a different
opinion about what actually caused the demise of the
Druggonian Empire on the planet Februallis, its a pretty fair
bet that Diablo Alvatorre, a much feared figure within
Luminarias organised crime, had a hand in it. And contrary
to Ingrids opinion, he did use the phenomenon known as
social media as an integral tool in his master plan to
eventually conquer the universe. Not only was he a criminal
mastermind with delusions of grandeur but he was also
ranked third on Rogets Wealthiest List. Of all the magazines
purporting to be the most prestigious, RWL was regarded as
the most reliable when it came to assessing the wealth of
individuals within the Luminarian population. His plan,
which in later years proved to be extraordinarily successful,
relied on the practically universal acceptance of smart-phone

technology. His aim was to use it to help spread contempt

and rebellion throughout the millions of Druggonians who
were disgruntled and disaffected with their government. If
his idea worked, most of the population would take to
methamphetamine use without the slightest compunction and
those that didnt would migrate to Luminaria.
And work it did because at one stage, health authorities
believed there were twenty million addicts who were
overdosing and dying at a rate of about five hundred a day...a
phenomenal number that almost overwhelmed the extensive
hospital system. But when Diablo got frustrated that the
deaths and migrations werent emptying the planet quick
enough, he ordered his chemists to drastically increase the
methamphetamines toxicity level. When the resultant
increase in the death toll meant the drug scourge was
spiralling out of control and the medical staff were
screaming that the health system was at the point of collapse,
Diablo smiled contentedly because his plan was unfolding
quite satisfactorily. And from the reports he received of the
continuous activity at the numerous interstellar airports, it
was clear that those of the population not caught up in the
drug culture and could migrate, were doing so and left in
their millions until there were only two groups left. The
druggos and those who volunteered to stay behind to help
wherever they could. But it wasnt long before those carers
also realised the situation was hopeless and they too
migrated. When the last druggo was cremated, the
remaining officials dissolved the parliament, closed down
everything that had made the empire function and left on
one-way tickets to Luminaria.
When Druggonia was finally abandoned, Diablo and his
few trusted henchmen made their move. He declared the
planet terra nullius, renamed it Alvatorre, installed
himself as President and with almost obsessive vigour, set
about creating his empire. First on his list was the mining
venture that was destined to more than quadruple his
personal wealth. Then, when every gram of the mineral

recalcitrite had been extracted and his engineers declared

there was no threat of the planet imploding, the mining
contractors departed for their homes. Then with a huge sense
of achievement, he began spreading the word to
neighbouring planets that his empire was ready for
settlement. Almost all of those who had migrated to
Luminaria, but most importantly those in the public service
on whom Diablo would come to rely on to make his empire
function, duly returned to their homes to carry on their lives
and occupations as if theyd never left. And they were quite
nonplussed about the fact that Diablo had invited five
thousand misfits, miscreants and mercenaries to form his
defence brigade and armed them with a formidable array of
state-of-the-art weapons. He then let the rest of the
neighbouring planets underworld kingpins know that he was
in control and could defend his realm should any of them
think about challenging his autocracy. It meant nothing to
him that his so-called army was composed almost entirely of
hapless thugs who were little more than obsequious
sycophants. But he was cautiously optimistic that the
professionals amongst them would be competent enough to
train the unskilled.
Now, as a quiet achiever by most criminal standards, his
goal was to use any and all means possible to one day make
his new home not only rival Luminaria but to surpass it in
every way. He had the financial resources, the patience and
the ambition. Oh, and he made it quite clear that he didnt
suffer fools gladly. If anyone on his payroll messed up, they
paid with their life.
And to add icing to his cake, he would make absolutely
certain that every being in the universe knew his name. In his
mind at least, he was a major player...whatever the game.
But some years before he could even think about mining,
his plan had just started and was slowly bearing fruit.
Although still in its early days, drug use within the empire
had begun its transformation. Where it began as a disgusting
habit among a subculture of assorted dropouts and losers, it

gradually became a socially acceptable activity that for the

vast majority of the population was as normal as breathing.
And two excellent examples of those who happily and
willingly conformed to the status quo were Borga Plaskin
and his wife Thenki. They were typical of their generation in
that they were in their early twenties, happily self-employed
in their industrial cleaning jobs and pretty much carefree. As
long as they had a roof over their heads, food in the
cupboard and drugs when they wanted them well, pretty
much nothing else mattered. And whats more, they had no
idea nor the least concern, that the methamphetamines they
regularly took could be contaminated with any of a variety of
poisons to hasten their demise. Or that their consumption
might have a detrimental effect on any children they hoped
to have. Like most other young folk, they began with the
occasional experiment in their early teenage years and
whenever someone had a party to celebrate their birthday or
engagement, that was all the excuse they needed to really
binge out. And after that, it was just a matter of continual
taking over the next few years. By the time most were in
their adulthood, for a few the novelty had passed but for
everyone else, it was simply a matter of keep-on keeping
on. After all, almost everyone took drugs and it was
considered by their peers to be grossly impolite not to
indulge when one attended any social occasion. Of course,
none of them had the slightest idea how the drugs were
made, what the ingredients were or indeed if they were doing
themselves any long-term neurological damage. Any
conversation by medical authorities that suggested taking
drugs during pregnancy resulted in deformed babies or that
cancerous tumours may well form on the brain after a few
years of even occasional use, .was met with contempt!
Nevertheless, apart from the aged, the infirm and the
children, .the general population were regular users and any
invitation to have a party where thered be drugs of every
description laid-out like platters of finger-food...were
happily accepted.

When Thenki became pregnant in her twenty-fifth year,

she was terrified that the medical authoritys warning may
eventuate. But to her great relief, her pregnancy was one of
her most pleasant experiences. She looked absolutely
radiant, was the envy of all her girlfriends and the
subsequent delivery was effortless. Shevik was born a
healthy little boy and they and their friends had every reason
to rejoice with another party. He was normal in every way
and much to his parents relief, during his formative years,
he showed no sign of any untoward mental or physical
behaviour. If anything, there were numerous indications of a
superior intellectual capacity. Whenever they went out as a
family, everyone remarked that he was simply a delightful
child. Medical science had warned them that a normal child
was unlikely due to their drug use and so they were prepared
for the worst. But with Shevik they had beaten the odds and
duly expressed a big sigh of relief.
With that success, Thenki was only too happy to have
another child to add to their very happy family.
But falling pregnant with Gorghan during Sheviks
eighth year was an entirely different experience. Almost
from the moment she conceived, Thenkis health became an
absolute nightmare with bouts of abdominal pain occurring
so fiercely that they made her double-up in pain as she
vomited. Her paediatrician was understandably quite worried
and recommended a termination. But after a brief discussion,
she and Borga agreed to proceed to full term. To her friends
she confided that the only thing that she reckoned kept her
going was her occasional use of methamphetamines, the use
of which she kept secret even from Borga. If hed known,
hed probably have gone berserk. Although a regular user
himself, even the worst addict was aware there were times
when one refrained. And as difficult as periodic abstinence
may be, pregnancy was widely accepted as just such an
occasion. Then, when the time came for the delivery, Thenki
spent 72 hours under the watchful eyes of a specialist team
of paediatricians. They urged her to have a caesarean section

but she was determined to have a natural birth. And that was
mainly because there was considerable status amongst their
friends who had all enjoyed natural births. And it was vitally
important to her that she not be regarded as outside the status
When Gorghans head began to emerge, it was on the
cards hed be deformed in some way although such
apprehensions werent evident from the multiple imaging
scans Thenki had undergone. Thus there was a big sigh of
relief when Gorghan appeared normal, well physically
anyway. But when Borga compared the two pregnancies, he
couldnt quell his gut feeling that Gorghan was going to
develop quite differently to his older brother.
Will my worst fears be realised...will this child be a
little monster? He quietly asked the leading paediatrician.
Im sorry, medical science cant give you any advice on
that score, only time will tell, she advised.
And much to Borgas heartache, Gorghans true colours
didnt take all that long to manifest themselves. Whereas
Shevki was quiet, studious, well mannered, kind, caring and
considerate, Gorghan was loud, had a spine-chilling laugh
that most of the familys friends found ghoulish. When he
was at his most diabolical, hed use the front yard to set all
manner of traps in the hope of capturing anything that flew
or walked. Then he would sit on the front porch and wait
impatiently for one or more of them to snare something. And
when they did, hed laugh as he sprang back into life and ran
to the trap. Whatever hed caught would then meet a slow
and extremely painful death. If he caught a mouse, hed first
go to the kitchen, get an aerosol can of insect killer and spray
the mouses eyes and laugh as it screamed and squirmed in
pain. Then hed get a pair of scissors from his mums sewing
kit, cut off each leg just below the knee then place the rodent
on the floor and laugh as it tried to move around. After a
minute or so of that, hed then go to his fathers tool box and
return with a blow torch and burn its eyes to a crisp...and
when it was dead he tossed it in the rubbish bin. He also got

huge pleasure from capturing all sorts of flying bugs, pulling

their wings off and then watched as they tried to move about
before stomping on them.
Now oddly enough that behaviour was regarded as being
within the parameters of normal. The first real sign that he
had quite serious neurological issues was during his first day
at school when their class was outside enjoying their lunch
break. Gorghan noticed a small rodent moving awkwardly
under the bushes that grew along the edge of the playground.
Sensing another opportunity to inflict some horrible pain, he
went quietly to investigate. As he looked at the furry little
chap staring back at him, it seemed that it had been in a fight
because it was having difficulty using its hind legs as they
were being dragged instead of walking normally. Then he
also noticed a shiny aerosol can of the kind he had seen his
mother use, so he picked it up and put it in his pocket. Then
he gently picked up the rodent and looked into its beady little
eyes. It was at that moment that some of the other children
noticed what he was doing, left their games and gathered
around him.
Gorghan smiled at his gathering audience and felt great
that something he was doing attracted the rest of the class.
This was indeed a pleasant surprise because most of them
regarded him as a bit of an idiot because he showed no
interest whatsoever for the school work. And to add to his
strangeness, for no apparent reason, he often laughed in a
crazy sort of way during a lesson.
However, on this occasion, some of the children were
intrigued and looked on enviously as they would also have
liked to have held the rodent just to see what it felt like.
Then when their teacher, Miss Kransky noticed how
quiet the playground had become, she looked out the
window to see Gorghan holding something that seemed to
fascinate the class. Leaving her lunch, she stood up and
walked outside.

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