For a while now, we’ve been following Josh Henry’s fan fiction tale, “The Quest for the Two Guys From Andromeda.” On this page, you can find the man’s own story notes for each chapter.
About a year or so ago, I had a dream where several online friends of mine were on a boat that was captained by Tawmis. We were on a quest to find something, but I don’t recall now what it was. It was a random collection of people, all of which I knew, but not everyone else knew each other. Serena was leading the group, wherever we were going.
As a result of the dream, I thought it might be fun to write some sort of story related to the dream. After some crazy events went down in the community that directly affected several of the people who were in the dream, as well as the Space Quest community as a whole, I came up with the idea of everyone banding together to rescue the Two Guys from Andromeda.
When I originally started writing it, my plan was to try to include EVERYONE from the Sierra adventure online community, or at least the people who seemed to be most active. I soon realized, though, just HOW expansive the community actually was, and with over 60 different forums spread out over 15 years of community, I soon came to realize that such an ambition was impossible. About the time I was writing chapter 4 I decided to reel myself back in and attempt to limit it to only people I knew in the community, which is still a rather large group, as I’ve been involved in the Sierra community at varying capacities since 1999.
As far as major influences in my writing, besides obviously playing several different Sierra adventure games, I had also started listening to the Space Quest Historian podcast, and this no doubt began to influence the way that my story was going, due to the hilariousness of characters such as Pete Toleman and Chuck Clusterbluck. The fact that Troels and Serena themselves had fictionally inserted themselves into all of this as well made it even more inspirational, and the story began to take shape. I really didn’t have an idea as to how I was going to publish it, but then Troels started featuring fan fiction on his show and asked if I would be willing to record myself for the podcast, releasing each chapter with the podcast. I agreed to do so, despite my personal belief that I sound horrible being recorded, and that my capacity for doing voices (especially for people that I really haven’t heard) is somewhat limited. Nevertheless, my story began to reach a somewhat larger audience.
I recorded this disclaimer as well, but it bears repeating here in these notes:
Disclaimer: This work is a work of fiction, and although I use mostly all real people in this story, it is meant to be in good taste and any negative or misleading representation of a person is not in any way indicative of that person’s real life personality. These are fictionalized representations of each of these people, and therefore are not meant to be insulting or misconstrued as an attack. There is a bit of parody in this work, and it is meant to be written with good taste. Several people in the Sierra adventure game community are thrown in for random cameos. This story was inspired by a dream I had, although I have taken it in a somewhat different direction. Hope you enjoy!
The point of these story notes are to provide a little bit of background to each chapter, whether it be to random cameos and shoutouts to people in the community, or little Easter Eggs that I put in the stories for attentive listeners. I hope you enjoy the story, and these notes.
Please note that due to the nature of these notes, there will more than likely be spoilers, so I don’t recommend reading about a chapter you haven’t heard yet.
Chapter 1 (The Quest Begins) – I actually did begin writing this story on a Tuesday morning, funnily enough. I had the day off from work, and it seemed as good a day as any to start writing. When you have 3 small kids, finding time to be alone to write is always precious, so you take advantage of it when you can. The “Book of Faces Messenger System” is an obvious reference to the Facebook Messenger app for smart devices. As far as the “Sierra Collector’s Guild,” the people featured in it actually do represent a Facebook chat that I started of Sierra Collectors a couple of years ago. It’s mostly for us to share new auctions or to let other people know that we’re bidding on a specific item, in the hopes of avoiding bidding wars and driving the prices way up. The Yosemite Asteroid Belt is a reference to the obvious former location of Sierra’s headquarters near Yosemite National Park.
Although Collector (Andrew Branscom) is not in any way a “leader” of the chat, his screen name seemed perfect for the story for him to be the head of such a group. Since he also has the title of “The Grand Poobah” at his home of the Sierra Help Pages forums, I went ahead and included that as well. The others featured are Brandon Klassen, Brad Herbert, Eriq Chang, Mike Maracek (cpages2), Scott Rashleigh, Christopher Ray (Cray412), Paskarl Gnislew, Stephen Emond (Commander Falcon), and Justin Paulsen (JP). For people who had numbers in their screenname (such as Brad with the name bradvr4), I decided to make them androids, just for fun, as well as to explain the reasons why they would have the numbers in their names in the first place. I also chose to take Rudy Marchant’s Sierra Chest and turn it into an actual chest which contains all of the knowledge of everything related to Sierra. 🙂 The “Space Pope” is first referenced in this chapter as well. Since Chris Pope was already called that by the majority of the Space Quest community, it seemed appropriate to carry that title over into my story. He will play a much larger role in Chapter 4.
The “Sierra Graphical Exchange Group” is in reference of Brandon’s Sierra Museum and Art of Sierra projects. As a side note, I have since completed all of the Space Quest games, although at the time I started writing this story, I still hadn’t completed Space Quests IV-VI. Since Tawmis Logue identifies himself as the “Grand Poobah’s Servant” on the Sierra Help Pages, I decided to carry that over into the story as well, and thus you have a reason for him to be piloting the ship in the first place. Serena, already with the title of the “Hero of the Adventure Game Revival Movement”, of course would be the one to lead the group on the mission.
This chapter in and of itself is fairly short, and doesn’t have tons of references, so that’s it! 🙂
Chapter 2 (Encounter at Starpoint) – The title and space station are both a play on the title “Encounter at Farpoint,” the pilot episode to my favorite Star Trek show, The Next Generation. The layout and inspiration for Starpoint Station, though, are directly inspired by the Galaxy Galleria Mall from Space Quest IV. In my made-up map of the universe that this takes place in, Starpoint Station is at the edge of the Andromedan sector, which is supposed to represent the Space Quest community. The stores inside the mall are all based on various electronic stores (GameGo for GameStop, Electronics Bouquet for Electronics Boutique, and Baggages for Babbage’s). Radio Shock, besides being an obvious knock-off of Radio Shack, is also a reference to the store that appeared in the original version of Space Quest IV, before the store was replaced due to copyright reasons with Hz. So Good in the later versions of the game). Anyone who has played Space Quest III or IV should be familiar with Monolith Burger, a reference in and of itself to McDonalds. Astro Chicken, of course, refers to the game from Space Quest III, but I also wanted to reference the idea of arcades disappearing in America. Video game arcades used to be quite common in the 80’s and 90’s, but in the current day of mobile and online gaming, they are slowly going extinct. The broken-down arcade games in the corner of Monolith Burger reference that. The Skate-O-Rama is also in the mall in SQIV, so I thought it would be fun to include here as well.
The Vivendi Conglomerate is in reference to Vivendi, the company that took over Sierra from Havas in 2000. Many people see Vivendi as what really put the last nail in Sierra’s coffin, as the last development studios that were still around from the original Sierra days (including Sierra’s corporate offices in Seattle) were all closed by Vivendi in the early 2000’s. The Sierra logo soon became just a tag that Vivendi would slap on games in an effort to try to get them to sell, capitalizing off the popularity of the name itself. The Activision Expanse refers to Sierra’s newest owner, Activision-Blizzard, which I named due to the huge size of the company itself. I started writing this story before the announcement that Activision had revived the Sierra brand, so there is no reference to that in this story. “Time-line wise,” this story takes place in late 2013, so references to things such as the GK1 Remake and Quest for Infamy still being worked on are chronologically accurate, despite the fact that both of those games have been/will be released in the timeline of the story. The GOG Network is an obvious reference to the website www.gog.com, and the Phoenix Republic is in reference to Phoenix Online Studios. I make a very brief reference to Mrs. Holmes (Jane Jensen) and Emperor Cesar (Cesar Bittar), but both of them will have much more focus in a later chapter in the story.
Of course, this chapter also officially introduces Serena Nelson, the Hero of the Adventure Game Revival Movement. Her look, although never explicitly stated, is inspired by her character from the game Quest for Infamy, which was her avatar on Facebook at the time I started writing the story. Her avatar seemed to be rather heroic, so it fit perfectly for her role in the story. I knew when I originally crafted the story that Serena was going to be one of the central characters, so I wanted to try to introduce her early on in order to give sufficient time to develop her character. In many ways, (although this was not necessarily my intention when I began writing, but clearly my subconscious moved in this direction), the story from this point pretty much takes the role of a Sherlock Holmes mystery, with myself as a Doctor Watson character, and Serena as Holmes. As you will see in later chapters, a lot of the action will specifically focus around Serena (and the Space Quest Historian, once he’s introduced), and although my character is ever present, the influence that I have is fairly minimal as a whole to the overall plot.
I make reference to “saving the game” in this chapter as well. Many of the older Sierra games were notorious about needing numerous save games to make it through the story. If you died, you could restore to an earlier save and continue on from that point. Since I would have androids travelling with the party pretty much at all times, it seemed fun to make some sort of reference to saving, as the point of the story is that it’s supposed to be a piece of meta-fiction and the characters will at times break the 4th wall.
The chapter ends with us running away from two hooded figures who chase us into the middle of the Skate-O-Rama, which, if anyone has played Space Quest IV WITHOUT the timer bug fix, will understand my character’s extreme concern about entering it… 😉 More to come in Chapter 3! 🙂
Chapter 3 (Departing for Andromeda) – Originally, I was not planning on coming up with fun titles for each of the chapters, and did not really decide to do that until I started writing Chapter 5. By that point, I had already recorded chapter 1 for the podcast, and I really couldn’t think of anything clever for the titles of chapters 3 or 4, but, then again, I really didn’t give either too much thought. I will probably sometime in the future go back and revise those chapter names, but for now, they stand. Any ideas are welcome (and will get you credit in these notes! 🙂 )
So, this chapter introduces most of the principal characters in the story. I didn’t want to draw out the Skate-O-Rama scene too much, as the whole point of the group is to avoid drawing too much attention to themselves, and, of course, the pursuers were hardly villains in any way. So, we end up meeting Stephen Alexander (also known as Blackthorne and one of the heads of the game company Infamous Quests) and Jenny Pattison (aka Estirdalin, or, as I have her for the purposes of this story, Estir Dalin). I originally wasn’t sure if I would have Jenny travel with us the whole journey, as there was already quite a large cast planned, but as you can see in later chapters, I ended up including her. Plus, she’s just an awesome person in general, and I thought she deserved a bigger role in the story. The Ia galaxy is representative of Infamous Adventures (which is what Infamous Quests used to be called. Blackthorne’s mention of “hamburgers in my face” is a particular nod to a comic that he and Jenny shared a while back, comparing Europeans and Americans and their perceptions of one another (You can find the comic here, but strong language warning: http://theoatmeal.com/pl/minor_differences4/accents)
Docking Bay 94 is of course a reference to Star Wars: A New Hope, which is the docking bay that the Millennium Falcon was docked in on Tatooine. The inspiration for Tawmis’ ship is two-fold. Since Tawmis himself often cosplays as a pirate, I knew I wanted to use a traditional sailing-style ship. His pirate voice is also inspired by his yearly participation in “Talk Like A Pirate Day.” I have no idea what he sounds like in real life, but I like to think that he talks like a pirate all the time. 😉 The idea for how it could travel through space came from the Disney movie Treasure Planet, a sadly often-overlooked movie, and one of my favorites. Peg Leg Bones Brady is a reference to Nelson Miguel, whose screenname sounded a lot like a pirate name, so I decided to make him the main pilot for Tawmis’ ship. After the introduction of Tawmis and Nelson, we meet Say Mistage, who always refers to Saturday as “Sayturday”, and who has several friends (including Serena) who call each other “frand” as opposed to friend. Since Say is the Social Media Manager for Phoenix Online, she seemed like the perfect person to represent that group (plus, like Blackthorne, she was in my original dream that inspired this whole story to begin with).
The final person to be introduced in the group of adventurers is Jessie Carnahan, aka jrmbear, who is an old friend of mine from the Sierra Planet/Sierra Nebula forums from the late 90’s. She and I are still fairly close, and since she was also in my original dream, I definitely wanted to include her, even though I don’t think any of the other principle characters in the story actually know her (which, if you don’t, you totally should! She’s an incredible person! 🙂 )
We board the ship, which allows me to slip in a reference to audiodane (Dane Walther), whose Sierra Planet title is “a member of Sir Tawmis’ scurvy crew,” so it seemed appropriate to make him the first mate.
Well, that’s all the notes for chapter 3! Next chapter is a huge one, where we introduce a large amount of the Space Quest community as we arrive on Andromeda!
Chapter 4 (Meeting with the Space Pope) – Again, like chapter 3, there’s no fun or clever title pun for this chapter, but like Chapter 3, I would definitely love anyone’s inspiration. This chapter is full of various references to the community, so I’d better get started on listing them all. Chapter 4 starts with a conversation between Jessie, Serena, and my character, where I mention Reno (Ric Carnahan, who really is a big Quest for Glory fan and who met Jessie through the Sierra community, and now they’re actually married). Reno will play a much larger role in the story in a few chapters later, but I wanted to explain why he was missing. I also reference Lori and Corey Cole, creators of the Quest for Glory games (and it seemed appropriate to throw in a joke reference to Mixed-Up Mother Goose by calling Corey “Ole King Cole). Gloriana really is the setting of the Quest for Glory games, and the name change to Heroiana is in reference to the fan game Hero 6, (as opposed to Quest for Glory VI, which changed names MANY years ago to avoid any repercussions from Sierra/Vivendi. I also mention Josh Koss (aka King Orion) as the ruler of the Quest for Glory community.
Chris Campbell (MrKidd-02) makes a cameo here as the Space Pope’s personal android. The Space Pope’s office itself was inspired by the Supreme Chancellor’s office from the Star Wars prequel trilogy, although much larger to accommodate the various desks of his staff and assistants. The detective Luck A. China referred here (who makes an appearance in the following chapter) refers to Space Quest fan Alan Luckachina. I make a reference to Kevin Wallace (and the general name of the Wilco Web, turning them into the Andromedan intelligence agency). The Janitorial Times was the name of the official Space Quest forums on Sierra’s website once upon a time, and the Subspace Channel is the name of the forums on the Virtual Broomcloset, the oldest running Sierra fan site in existence. Cassara Radio was the former screenname of Joe Cassara, who has narrated other fanfics for the Space Quest Historian podcast in season 1.
Mr. Allen is, of course, Ken Allen, the former Sierra composer and composer for SpaceVenture. The Decaffeinated Jedi is Jess Morrissette, aka Professor Jess, reoccurring contributor to this podcast and the proprietor of the Virtual Broomcloset. PCJ-1 is Patrick Johnston, aka pcjtulsa, who is often referred to as a robot, so I couldn’t help but make him into one (plus, he’s interning under the Two Guys for SpaceVenture, so it seemed appropriate to make him be their android).
Next to be introduced is Troels Pleimert, who really needs no introduction, whose character is inspired by the Space Quest Historian logo itself. Bill Grig is actually the fictional main character of Mike Haley’s game series Space Ruckus, but he actually used to use Bill Grig as his screenname back in the day, so I decided to use the character to represent Mike in this story. Also, although I mistakenly referred to him having a blue beanie, Mike corrected me and told me that it was actually a visor, which I have since corrected in the written text. The team of Andromedans who assist us are none other than Frederik Olsen (Frede), whose avatar on the SpaceQuest.Net forums really did use to be a black-and-white picture of Albert Einstein and who really was one of the project heads (and music composer) for Vohaul Strikes Back; Brandon Blume (Musically Inspired), who, if you listened to the last season of the podcast, will know composed his metal medley of Space Quest IV music, A Greatly Exaggerated Tale of Adventure (which in and of itself is a reference to the opening of Space Quest IV); and Jess Beebe (Akril), an old friend of mine who is active both on the Sierra Planet and SpaceQuest.Net forums, and who really is an amazing artist of very few words.
Originally, I had Frede’s group accompany us on the trip, but then I realized that it would be too challenging to try to balance all of the characters and make sure each of them got exposure on the various worlds that I was planning on visiting, so I ended up regulating them to the side to assist. So, in a sense, they do get repeatedly referenced throughout the story, but it makes the main cast a bit more manageable. Lots of people name dropped in a fairly small amount of space, and with so many more communities to come, we’ve barely scratched the surface of all the characters focused in this story!
Chapter 5 (Looking for Clues (In Several Wrong Places)) – The title for chapter 5 is a direct reference to Leisure Suit Larry 2 (Looking for Love (In Several Wrong Places)). This chapter is definitely more of an action packed chapter, but there are some important characters that get introduced, and we get the first glimpse of the villain (even if we don’t see who it is) at the end of the chapter.
The large number of reporters that assails Serena’s team as they depart references Anatoly Shaskin (Dos Nostalgic) as well as Alistair Gillett (Spikey), who is owner of Sierra Music Central (here called Andromedan Music Radio). The most important person, though, and the focus of the first 1/3 of this chapter, is Chuck Clusterbluck, a fictional character created by a team led by Tom King for the podcast, who really is a sensationalist reporter who often misquotes things in order to get the truth. For the purposes of this story, which you’ll really see in Chapters 8 and 9, I was inspired by fictional characters such as Rita Skeeter from the Harry Potter books, mangling the truth in order to create a better-selling story. He constantly refers to Troels as Joel, so I thought it seemed appropriate to constantly get Serena’s name wrong as well (showing that he really doesn’t care about anyone on the team and is really just looking to get a good scoop). The transmissions that he accuses the Historian of stealing is again a direct reference to Season 1 of the podcast, where Troels was supposedly hijacking his frequency using an old Ham radio that he received for Christmas. Needless to say, despite his hasty retreat, we’ll definitely be seeing more of good old Chuck before the story’s over.
I also realized in Chapter 4 that I have two glaring omissions to the Space Quest community that I had intended to include in that chapter: Liz Calkins (Jeysie) and Justin McMenamin (Irishmile). I decided to include them as the agents of the Pope’s Secret Service, and it worked well to transition the characters from the Space Pope’s office to the Two Guys’ office. Once our team arrives at the Two Guys’ office, I of course mention Ace Hardway, the main character of SpaceVenture, who sadly is still incomplete as a result of the game not being finished. The Labion Root Monster is one of the most dreaded scourges of Space Quest II, although its one line of dialog (“I am Root!”) is a reference to the reoccurring line of Groot (“I am Groot!”) from the movie Guardians of the Galaxy (which I HIGHLY recommend that you see if you haven’t seen already…it’s a FANASTIC movie!) Savvy listeners may have noticed that I very specifically mentioned that the monster very purposefully did not attack Serena. That is something quite notable, and you shouldn’t seem surprised if there’s more of that in the future of the story.
Chapter 5 ends with a direct reference to the former page design for Sierra Planet (and it’s former name, Kimmie’s RWA Fansite). The rainbow teddy bear (Keshet) really IS the logo for Sierra Planet (Seriously – go to www.sierraplanet.com and look at the image on the tab). You’ll see it in all of its glory in Chapter 6!
Chapter 6 (Absence Makes the Heart Go Crazy) – The title for chapter 6 is a pun on the subtitle for King’s Quest V, Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder, which itself is a reference to the quote “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” which is attributed to the 19th century poet Thomas Bayly in his poem “Isle of Beauty.”This chapter brings us to Sierra Planet, based on the website of the same name (http://www.sierraplanet.com), which was originally Kimmie’s RWA Fan site back in the late 90’s, one of the earliest (if not the oldest) Roberta Williams fansite on the internet. The website was a huge part of my community in my early years of being involved in the Sierra adventure online community, so I knew I wanted it to feature in the plot of the story as well. While the forums are no longer in existence, sadly, there is a Facebook group for anyone’s who’s interested: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/sierraplanet/
So, on to the cameos and references: The earliest one introduces Travis Conley, who, due to the 2012 that used to be in his old Twitter handle, I made as an android assistant to Troels’ character (he still has a number in his handle, so it really wouldn’t have changed anyways). With Travis joining our group, the main party of adventurers is complete. Everyone else will generally be focused on a specific world, and while they may temporarily join our party for whatever adventures that we might face, they won’t be traveling on Tawmis’ ship as part of the main party.
To my knowledge, Phantasmagoria actually is the only Roberta Williams game that Troels has really played, but I knew when I first crafted the story that I wanted him to play a central part in the King’s Quest inspired world, simply BECAUSE of his overall avoidance of the series. 🙂
Jessie, as the representative of Sierra Planet, would of course be included along with me and Serena, and then I added Estir because I had already had Blackthorne be one of the main action characters on Andromeda, and I wanted to allow her character to have some influence in the story.
Kat Riley (whose screenname is actually Kat2, due to another Kat that used to post on the old Sierra forums) and I were in an online relationship (and even met twice) back when I was in high school and my freshman year at college, and she and I are still friends today. I inspired the Sierra Planet world to look like an amalgam of multiple King’s Quest worlds, because we used to roleplay on Messenger and on the forums/Yahoo Clubs as if the worlds were real, so it made sense to treat it like that. Core members of the Sierra Planet community were really close to one another, to the point that there was an elaborate family tree that we connected ourselves all to one another. Although I didn’t include everyone from the Sierra Planet family in this chapter, there are quite a few people who made up the central part of the community (most of the others will appear later in the Quest for Glory chapter, as there was a lot of bleed-over from that community into the Sierra Planet community as well).
Hermann Gunnar Sigurðsson (Askre) is the castle werewolf (his longtime avatar has always been a werewolf, and so we always trusted him to guard the castle). Lady Abigail, Sister Susan, and Duchess Tomato were the titles that Abigail Kessler, Susan Eder, and Katrina Moncure went by back in the days of the Sierra Planet heyday, so it seems fun to use them in those titles. I also make reference to Anthony Nguyen (Ugarte) and April Leebody (Mademoiselle Meena) who will both be referenced again when we eventually make it to Heroiana, as while they were very much a part of the Sierra Planet community, they were also very active in the Quest for Glory forums as well. Ron Kidron (Templeton) was one of the former admins of Sierra Planet, and he has since disappeared. Kimmie Huynh was the founder of Sierra Planet, and a former moderator of several official Sierra forums in the late 90’s/early 2000’s.
The next Sierra Planet people to be referenced are Kristy Sharpe (Von Pookie), who is one of the current site moderators (and thus serves as Kat’s advisor); Nancy Spicer (Rini); and Richard Lauder (Sir Kiwi). Last, but certainly not least, the trio of princesses, who along with Kat and Jessie, started the Sierra Planet family so long ago: Kristin Pitak (Princess Kristin), Desirae Sanders (Desa), and Audrey Livesey (HorseLover).
The chapter ends with us going off to New Tamir, a reference to the land that the game King’s Quest IV takes place in. Although I mention a lot of the problems that Rosella faces in KQIV, our party actually ends up not having to deal with any of them, but that’s due to another situation entirely… 🙂
Chapter 7 (Sometimes it Wise to Think Forward) – The title for this chapter is a reference to the original King’s Quest I, where the hint “Sometimes it’s wise to think backwards” is an obscure reference to the “guess the gnome’s name” puzzle (which requires you to use a backwards alphabet to spell the name Rumplestiltskin). This chapter is fairly short, mainly because I was sick when I was writing it, but still trying to meet the deadline for the podcast. While it could probably use an overhaul if I ever decide to go back and revise the plot after I’m finished, for the time being, the chapter stands well enough as it is. I accomplished the main point that I wanted to do, which was to poke fun at one of the more absurd King’s Quest puzzles while still allowing the plot to move forward to the next destination for Chapter 8.
Am I babbling? It’s mainly because there’re really not a lot of notes for this chapter. The gnome himself is actually a character who appears in King’s Quest V, as a small boy (if you presume his grandfather that he is with is the same gnome from King’s Quest I and III. I don’t believe the game ever explicitly states). Nevertheless, the inspiration for guessing the gnome’s name comes from the first King’s Quest game, but I decided to give it a bit of a twist inspired by the miniseries, The 10th Kingdom. There, the main characters meet a blind woodsman, who threatens to kill one of the characters unless they can guess his name. His name turns out to be Juliet, and so I decided that the gnome in my story would have a peculiar name as well. “Sam Hill” is an actual expression used in mainly southern America at times to show exasperation when attempting to figure something out. I reference Nidoking in the story (don’t know his real name), but he’s an online Twitter friend of mine who actually does have the gnome’s name from King’s Quest I memorized, which is pretty impressive. The Historian’s reference to Cloudland is what happens in the original King’s Quest game if you are unable to guess the gnome’s name.
The gnome’s line “He looked…like a man” is a reference to the “Miss Swan” sketches on Mad TV, a personal favorite of mine, and it seemed an appropriate little Easter Egg reference. The chapter ends with a reference to the Crazy Comet Café, which was the name of the former general chat forum on Sierra Planet, which is where we’re headed to next, in one of my all-time favorite chapters of the story so far, chapter 8! 🙂
Chapter 8 (Chuck Clusterbluck Strikes Back) – Chapter 8 is one of my favorite chapters in the story, mainly because for the first time the story progressed in a direction different from what I had originally intended. I had a basic story outline that I crafted when I originally started writing the story, and for the first seven chapters, didn’t really deviate from the basic plan of what each chapter was going to be. Due to a couple of changes as I started writing chapter 8, though, the direction that the story took was a wildly different one than I had originally intended for it.
First things first, though. The chapter title is a play on the subtitle for the fan game Space Quest: Vohaul Strikes Back, which is also a play on the 2nd Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. I had recently finished Vohaul Strikes Back shortly before beginning this chapter, so I thought it would be good to give the game a homage in the story. This chapter brings our adventurers to the roughly midpoint of the story: The Crazy Comet Café (CCC). As I mentioned in my story notes for chapter 7, the CCC was the main general chat forum on Sierra Planet before the forums were closed. I had intended this chapter to be a sort of intermission, a kind of relaxing halfway point between a world inspired by King’s Quest and world inspired by Quest for Glory (Heroiana). I had intended Chuck Clusterbluck’s article to be unnoticed by the group at first, and most of the trip to the CCC to be relaxed until the very end, when people would recognize Serena and Troels and try to capture them as the article mentioned. The party would escape to the ship and then head off to Heroiana.
I realized, however, that I had missed a golden opportunity back when the story was on Andromeda: mentioned the Rocket Bar (which is the general chat forum on SpaceQuest.Net). I originally was just going to mention it in a throwaway comment in chapter 4, but since that chapter had already been long recorded and aired, while I could change the text, I felt what few listeners I had deserved to have the Rocket Bar mentioned. Then I realized that I had an opportunity to use the Crazy Comet Café to sort of serve as a rallying point for various general chat forums from Sierra sites. Unfortunately, the other main sites I checked out didn’t have any clever restaurant themed names for their general chat forums, so I ended up just adding the Rocket Bar (plus, SQ.Net and Sierra Planet are the two forums I’ve been most active on, so it made sense to have those two be the focus of this chapter).
There was another problem, though, in that to my knowledge, with the exception of myself and Andrew Branscom, there was no shared community really between the two forums. So how could I explain what the Rocket Bar was doing way over here attached to the Crazy Comet Café? That’s when the inspiration hit me to take the story in a different direction, as well as provide some more story time for Chuck Cluserbluck (Tom King’s fictional character for the podcast, who first appeared in chapter 5). What if the Rocket Bar was more than just a clever name for a bar, but *literally* a bar in a rocket? Then it would theoretically be able to move through space at its own will. Whether that was the intention of the naming behind it or not, I have no idea, but it seemed like a clever way to integrate it into the chapter.
I decided to have Chuck “commandeer” the Rocket Bar in an attempt to track down our group himself and bring them to justice (and therefore get all the glory for tracking down these “supposed” criminals). I listened to Chuck’s bit again from episode 17 of the podcast, and used that as an inspiration for the Galactic Inquirer article. I wanted to use enough sensationalist journalism combined with a bit of truth and a whole lot of absurdity to try to do what he would do best: Write a story that sells that only has an ounce of truth in it.
As mentioned in Chapter 5, Chuck getting Serena’s name wrong resulted in the name “Selena Nielsen,” plus, since Chuck calls Troels “Joel,” I thought it would be good to include that in the article. I also make a throwaway comment about Serena’s and Troels’ effect on Pete Toleman (a fictional character portrayed by Gareth Millward for the podcast) and his Priapic Mountain Empire, which will later play a much larger role in the story. Serena also mentions Pete as “Petie-Pie”, her nickname that she often uses either when addressing him or mentioning him fondly.
So, now on to the cameos/special guest stars. Being set in a bar, it was easy to throw in a lot of random names that didn’t really fit into a specific community. The CCC was supposed to be run by Heroman (Eddie Heimbach), as he was the original moderator of the forum back in the day, and as such, he really did have a dragon avatar named Bastion who stood behind the counter and filled orders and guarded the forums while Heroman was off adventuring. Heroman used to be an official Sierra moderator like Kimmie, and was also very active in the Sierra Planet community once upon a time.
Agustín Cordes makes a cameo, his last name (Scatches) being based off the original adventure game that he created. The Senscape galaxy is named after his company, Senscape. Stacy Davidson makes an appearance as his fictional character, astronaut Jack Houston; and Natalie Juhasz (Resulka) appears representing her company ReVenture. Fester Blatz, everyone’s favorite salesman from Phleebhut in Space Quest III is trying (unsuccessfully) to sell something to YouTube Let’s Player and Sierra fan Darth Helmet (don’t know his real name), and Sierra Planet denizen Natalie Spear appears as an android based off of the number in her screenname, Luv2Dance. Since Troels had mentioned at the end of the previous podcast that he hoped the Crazy Comet Café served quiche, I decided it would be appropriate to throw in a quick reference to it.
My character gets pulled over by Ryan Worstell (Mako Thunderbird), Jukka Eronen (Psychic), and Jeffrey Huffine (Quest Collector), all good friends of mine. Jukka actually is a member of our Sierra Collectors’ Chat, although he wasn’t part of it when I started writing the story, so I chose to include him here instead. The last two main characters featured in the story are Stickman Ninja and Fender Benter, who are the amazing couple Nick Reilly and Cassie Benter, respectively. I wanted Cassie to have a special role in the story besides a throwaway cameo, and Nick’s screenname seemed perfect for the distraction that Josh would need to get out of the Crazy Comet Café. You’ll be seeing more of them in the next chapter. 🙂
With Chuck’s article now being at the front of the chapter, I decided to have the team slowly get picked off by Chuck’s security forces, as opposed to everyone doing their own thing and getting chased back to the ship at the end of the chapter. Although not explicitly stated in the story, if Cassie and Nick hadn’t taken Josh off to the corner to discuss with him what was going on, he would have ended up eventually getting captured too. Needless to say, the chapter ends on a cliffhanger, the first major cliffhanger ending since Chapter 2. This also sets up the action for Chapter 9, the chapter that I never planned on writing in my original draft, as we see what actually happened to Serena and Troels, as well as what will happen to the rest of the adventurers in the hands of Chuck Clusterbluck and his guards!