Absence Makes the Heart Go Crazy
The rest of our trip on Andromeda was fairly uneventful. Frede’s team had attempted to get a scan on the escaping ship; however, it had cloaked itself before they were successful. We had compared notes with Detective Luck A. China, but after a thorough exploration of the Two Guys’ apartment and office, we were without any other clues besides the flyer from Sierra Planet.
Our group of adventurers were now back on Tawmis’ ship, with the new additions of the Space Quest Historian, Bill Grig, and the Historian’s android, Chrono-2012. Detective Luck A. China did not have the jurisdiction to explore outside of Andromeda without getting permission from the Andromedan government, which is why I suspected the Space Pope had chosen a group of fans who could move freely from world to world in the Sierra Community galaxy and weren’t blocked by government red tape.
We were now on our way to Sierra Planet. I sighed, standing on the deck of the ship, watching the stars fly by and wondering what would be waiting for us when we arrived. It had been a long time since I had hung out there for an extended period. I had popped in for brief visits, but it had been my home for several years and was once one of the main hubs of the King’s Quest community.
“Everything all right?” A voice said behind me. I turned to see Bill standing there, his characteristic blue beanie visor pulled up far in the front of his face, almost to the point where you really couldn’t see his eyes.
“Just thinking about old memories,” I replied. “I used to live on Sierra Planet, so it’s something like returning to an old home.”
“Are you excited about going back?” he asked me.
“I don’t know if ‘excited’ is the word that I would use,” I said. “Curious, though, definitely. I don’t think anyone from Sierra Planet would have taken the Two Guys, but if whoever DID do it is on their way there, I want to make sure that my friends are safe.”
“That’s understandable,” he replied. “I hope we find the answers soon. I don’t want to have to wait too much longer to play SpaceVenture!”
I looked up at the stars, realizing that we had to be soon arriving as I recognized several of the constellations. Sure enough, Serena’s voice came over the loudspeaker requesting everyone to meet on the center of the deck. Bill and I walked over, the rest of our group joining us.
Serena came out of the captain’s study a few moments later with Tawmis and Jessie. “We will soon be arriving at Sierra Planet,” she said. “Due to what happened last time, I don’t want to risk the safety of everyone going all at once. We have therefore discussed it, and a group of us will go down and meet with the Sierra Planet Queen. The rest of you will stay up here in case we have another incident like on Andromeda. With Tawmis’ ship ready and in orbit around Sierra Planet, if the villain attempts to attack us with any more creatures or tries to escape again, we’ll have some backup ready immediately.”
“What about if there’s another jamming signal?” Blackthorne asked. “After all, that was the problem last time.”
“Arrr, last time we weren’t expecting that to happen,” Tawmis said. “Serena has some sort of special subspace communicator that shouldn’t be blocked by a jamming signal.”
“I didn’t think it would be necessary on Andromeda,” Serena added, “But I am definitely taking it with us here just in case.”
“Well, you guys have fun bowing and curtseying for all the lords and ladies of court,” the Space Quest Historian said.
“Actually, we selected you to accompany me to the planet,” Serena told him.
“What?!” the Historian said. “I don’t know anything about any King’s Quest games. You know I haven’t really played any of them.”
“Actually, Sierra Planet is for all Roberta Williams games, not just King’s Quest,” I pointed out. “You’ve played Phantasmagoria, right?”
“Yeah, but still, unless you’re going to be talking about bad acting and over the top plots in a horrible game, I don’t think I’ll be of much help,” the Historian argued.
“But out of all of us, you’re the one who knew the Two Guys the best,” Jessie said. “I’m sure the Queen would love to hear from an actual representative from Andromeda.”
“Come on, Historian, it’ll be fun,” Serena said. “Besides, at the very least you can make fun of all of the King’s Quest inspired atmosphere.”
“Well, as long as I don’t have to deal with any annoying talking owls, I guess it’s all right,” the Historian replied. “But you’re coming with us, Chrono!” he added, looking over to his personal android.
“Yes sir,” Chrono replied.
“Great!” Serena said. “So, the Historian and Chrono-2012, Princess Jessie, and I will all be going. Josh and Estir, I would like you both to accompany us as well.”
Estir and I nodded. I had figured Serena had wanted me to come along with my background, but I knew I would need to make sure she was aware of what my presence meant for this mission.
“The rest of you will stay here and monitor us through the subspace communicator. At the first sign of any trouble, if we’re unable to use normal communicators, we’ll signal you through it,” Serena said to everyone else. “We have no idea if something might attack us down there, so we want to be prepared this time. Any questions?”
No one could think of anything, so the meeting broke up. Audio Dane came up to Tawmis and informed him that we had arrived in the Sierra Nebula sector, where Sierra Planet was located.
“Serena,” I said, pulling her aside as we started to prepare to depart in a shuttlecraft. “I just wanted to let you know. Queen Kat of Sierra Planet and I…we’ve had some…history.”
“How so?” Serena asked.
“Well, we were in a relationship a long time ago. We’re still friends, but I just wanted to make you aware of that before we arrived.”
“Ah, I had no idea,” Serena said. “I’ll definitely keep that in mind. Thanks, Josh.”
We got into a shuttlecraft and departed from the ship, slowly getting closer to the Sierra Planet Castle. Jessie had already spoken to Kat about our arrival, so we would not be coming unannounced.
Within a few moments we landed outside of a castle, which resembled Castle Daventry from the Kings’ Quest games. Since Sierra Planet had been inspired by Roberta Williams’ game catalog, many of the planet’s locations had been taken directly from various games.
We were met at the castle gate by Askre, the werewolf guardian of the gates. “Hey Askre!” Jessie said. “We need to see my Mom.”
Askre looked at our group. “Josh!” he said, coming over and shaking my hand with his large furred paw. “It’s good to see you again! It’s been a long time!”
“Indeed it has, Askre. Indeed it has,” I replied. “Unfortunately, our task is of the utmost importance, and if we could speak to Kat as soon as possible, that would be great.”
“Of course,” Askre said, pulling the chain to open the portcullis at the gate. “Any friends of Josh and Jessie are welcome here!”
Jessie thanked him and we were soon ushered into the main courtyard around the castle. What had once been a busy bustle of people coming and going was much smaller now, the few quiet groups left pulled at my heartstrings. I saw Lady Abigail, Sister Susan, and Duchess Tomato chatting on one side of the courtyard. At one time you almost certainly would have seen Sir Templeton walking around on patrol. Ugarte and Mademoiselle Meena from Heroiana would often be spotted here, as well as Akril from Andromeda. But nowadays, the courtyard was a shade of what it had once been.
We made our way towards the castle in the center of the courtyard, passing a statue of a young woman. “Who’s that?” Estir asked.
“That’s Empress Kimmie, the founder and former ruler of Sierra Planet, and my aunt,” Jessie replied. “She retired several years ago and my mom, Queen Kat, took over.”
I looked at the statue, a new addition since I had lived here long ago. Kimmie had still been Empress at that time, although I had left shortly before her retirement. Kimmie was actually the one who started me collecting Sierra games in the first place, so if it hadn’t been for her, I would never have been invited to the Sierra Collector’s Guild.
We arrived at the castle and made our way past the guards. We were met by Von Pookie, one of Queen Kat’s advisors. “Please, follow me,” she said.
We made our way down the beautiful hall to an elegant throne room. There were several smaller groups of thrones around the large one in the center. I, of course, recognized everyone in the room: Lady Rini, Good Sir Kiwi, and Jessie’s sisters, Princesses Kristin, Desa, and HorseLover. Queen Kat II sat in the throne in the center.
“Jessie, you’re back!” Kristin said, getting up to give her sister a hug. Desa and HorseLover followed her and the four were soon engrossed in a hushed conversation. Jessie quieted her sisters and pulled away to stand next to Serena.
“Mom,” she said, “I’d like to introduce to you Serena Nelson, the Hero of the Adventure Game Revival Movement.”
Serena bowed and said, “It is a pleasure to meet you, your majesty.”
Kat smiled. “You don’t have to stand on such formality here, Serena,” she said. “Believe me, we’re a pretty laid back court.” Her eyes turned to her daughters, who all giggled nervously and returned to their seat.
“This is the Space Quest Historian from Andromeda, and his android, Chrono-2012,” Jessie said, “And this is Estir Dalin from the Ia Galaxy. And you know Josh, of course.”
“Hey Josh,” Kat said and she saw me. I could tell she was resisting the urge to run up and give me a hug.
“It’s always a pleasure to see you, Kat.” I replied with a smile. Due to the formalities of everything going on, as well as the large group of people, I knew this was neither the time nor the place for us to catch up and chat. Kat nodded, indicating she understood this as well.
“So, what can we help you with here on Sierra Planet?” Kat asked turning back to Serena.
“Well, as you no doubt know, the Two Guys from Andromeda have been mysteriously kidnapped,” Serena said. “We’ve been following them, and we found this flyer of evidence which showed us that they might be here.” She took out the flyer we had found on Andromeda and handed it to the Queen. Kat looked it over, a confused look on her face.
“We haven’t passed out these flyers in years,” she said. “Why would someone use this?”
“We’re not sure,” I said, “But who or whatever it is, they have a ship that can move pretty fast and cloak,” I told her.
A pensive look crossed her face. “You know, I had heard that there were reports of a strange spaceship that landed near New Tamir recently,” she said.
“New Tamir?” Estir asked.
“A lot of the world of Sierra Planet was recreated from Roberta Williams games,” I explained to them. “New Tamir was inspired by the world from King’s Quest IV. It’s similar, but not quite the same. We vacationed there once, quite a while ago.”
“I can arrange for a carriage to take you there immediately,” Queen Kat said.
“Thank you so much, your maj….er, I mean, Kat,” Serena responded.
Kat summoned Von Pookie to lead us to the carriage house. As we exited, the Historian, who hadn’t said much since we arrived, asked, “So, Tamir, eh? What sort of stuff could we possibly run into there?”
“Oh, nothing too much,” I said with a wry smile. “An ogre, winged goons, evil living trees, a trio of mostly blind witches, a troll, a haunted house…Oh, and zombies. Lots of zombies.”