Chuck Clusterbluck Strikes Back
We made it back to Tawmis’ ship and were soon on our way to the Crazy Comet Café, located on the edge of the Sierra Nebula, just at the boundaries of the Heroiana Sector. The Crazy Comet Café used to be a major hang out for Sierra people…you could often find King Graham, Laura Bow, and even Roger Wilco there from time to time. It definitely wasn’t like that anymore, though…The Vivendi Conglomerate had prevented the Sierra characters from leaving Vivendi space, and as such, the clientele at the Crazy Comet Café had slowed considerably. As the ship prepared to dock at the interstellar café, I noticed something interesting. A large new addition was attached to the far side of the café, as if it had recently been largely expanded.
“What is that?” I asked our group.
“That looks like the Rocket Bar…” the Historian responded.
“Wait, you mean the main off-topic forum from Spacequest.net?” Serena asked.
“That’s it,” the Historian replied. “But how did it get here? Let me see if Frede has anything to say about this.” He walked off, pulling out his communicator and contacting our team back on Andromeda.
Tawmis approached Serena and told her we had been given clearance to dock. She nodded and turned towards our group. “Feel free for everyone to get off. Spread out and see what you can learn. It’s not that big of a place, so try to stay a bit conspicuous if you can.”
Several conversations began as our group decided how they wanted to split up. Blackthorne, Estir, and Say decided to stick together. Tawmis was already planning on relaxing with his crew at the Rocket Bar for a bit. I asked Bill, Brad, and Jessie to come with me. Serena said she would wait with Chrono for the Historian.
As we exited Tawmis’ ship, Blackthrone’s group and Tawmis’ group headed down a moving sidewalk in the direction of the Rocket Bar. My group headed towards the Crazy Comet Café. As we made our way down the hall, I heard Serena call us from behind.
I turned around to find her, the Historian, and Chrono coming behind us. “Apparently none of our team knows about the Rocket Bar going missing,” the Historian said, “But it was done quite purposefully when no one working for the Space Pope was there.”
“Ummm….I think I may have an idea as to why it’s here…” Jessie said from ahead of us.
We turned towards her and made our way to the doors going into the café. Outside were a number of different periodicals and newspapers, and in the dead center was a huge stack of Galactic Inquirer magazines. The headline stood out to anyone entering the restaurant: “The Truth About the Two Guys’ Disappearance: A Chuck Clusterbluck Exclusive!” A slightly smaller (but still easily readable) text below said: “Selena Nielsen and the Joel: Heroes or Kidnappers?”
Serena and the Historian quickly picked up copies, the rest of us looking over their shoulders to read.
“Dear faithful readers: Chuck Clusterbluck here with an incredibly exclusive story that I couldn’t help but share. As many of you know, the Two Guys from Andromeda, famous software developers, were mysteriously kidnapped from their homes a few nights ago. No one seems to know who might be behind it, but after risking life and limb, I’m here today to tell you the TRUTH behind this horrible travesty.
“The Space Pope, chief Social Media Architect for the Two Guys, has hired a group of bloodthirsty pirates and mercenaries to “supposedly” rescue them. But little does anyone know that they’re being led by one of the most evil beings in the entire galaxy: The Joel!”
A picture of the Space Quest Historian was here in the article.
“That’s right, my dear, faithful readers. This Joel has been known to steal numerous things throughout his life, including important broadcasts and other vital communications from various different companies. Rumor has it that he’s facing a lawsuit from the Priapic Empire due to his evil ways, and who knows what is going to happen next?
“To further throw things off, he has allied with Selena Nielsen, the self-acclaimed ‘Hero of the Adventure Game Revival Movement.’ Well, I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I haven’t seen much of a revival lately. Ms. Nielsen herself is also deeply entrenched in problems relating to her involvement with Priapic, including damaging the health of Emperor Peter Toleman himself.”
A picture of Serena was here, taken outside the Space Pope’s office the other day. “What?” Serena said. “I haven’t done anything to ‘Petie-Pie’s’ health!”
The article continued: “To further prove my point, exclusive footage was found as Selena’s team (which is led by a PIRATE captain, no less, and consisting of scoundrels like the evil Blackthorne Rogue of the Ia galaxy) shows the pirate ship murdering an innocent field creature in their attempt to destroy a large portion of the Two Guys’ apartment and remove any incriminating evidence.”
The next picture showed Tawmis’ ship firing on what should have been the Labion Root Monster, but instead the photo had been obviously edited to remove the monster and show a small, innocent bunny instead.
“This unprovoked and merciless attack cost over two billion buckazoids in damage, and led to the revelation that even Andromedan chief detective Luck A. China may have been bought off by the Space Pope and the Joel.
“This party is considered armed and highly dangerous! Use extreme caution in their presence. Any information that can be used to find them should be reported immediately to the local authorities. Only together can we help to bring these horrible kidnappers into the light and rescue the Two Guys from the horrible plans that these evil thieves have! Once again, this article is brought to you by everyone’s favorite reporter, Chuck Clusterbluck. Signing off.” Chuck’s face was smiling at the end of the article.
“Well, this complicates things,” Serena said.
“Leave it to Chuck to blow things way out of proportion and outright lie to sell a story,” the Historian added.
“So, do you think that he may be behind the Rocket Bar being moved here?” Brad asked.
“I’d definitely bet on it,” the Historian replied.
“If that’s the case,” I said, “I don’t think you guys should stick around here. Perhaps you should lie low on the ship?”
“That’s a good idea, Josh,” Serena replied. “The Historian, Chrono, and I will wait on the ship. Jessie, will you please go to the Rocket Bar and make sure Tawmis and Blackthorne are aware of this? Even if their pictures weren’t shown, I don’t think it’s a good idea for them to be around, considering they’re both fairly well known throughout the community.”
“Of course,” Jessie said, heading towards the Rocket Bar.
“You guys,” Serena said, “Please try to gather whatever information that you can here, but don’t draw any attention to yourselves!”
“You got it!” I said. Serena, Chrono, and the Historian retreated back towards the ship, leaving just me, Brad, and Bill. “Well, let’s see what we can find out,” I said.
We walked into the bustle of the café. Although it was not as busy as I once remembered it, there were still quite a few people that I recognized in the crowd. “Let’s split up and see what sort of info we can find,” Bill suggested. I agreed and we went off in different directions. I walked around, waving to Bastion, the dragon bartender. The café was owned by Heroman, Kat’s older brother and one-time head of the Quest for Glory and Arcanum forums long ago. He wasn’t there at the moment, but Bastion always made sure to keep the café safe in his absence. Looking around, I saw several famous game developers, including Agustín Scratches of the Sencscape Galaxy, Jack Houston of the Warbird Republic, and Resulka of the ReVenture Quadrant. Fester Blatz, the great intergalactic salesman, looked like he was trying to sell something to a rather disinterested Darth Helmet, and the android waitress Luv-2-Dance was making her way through the crowd dropping off complimentary quiche at different tables. A hand waved me down at a table, and I looked over to see Mako Thunderbird, Psychic, and Quest Collector, all friends of mine.
“Hey fellas!” I said, taking the fourth seat at the table. “How are things going here?”
“Not bad, not bad,” Psychic said. Psychic was a member of the Sierra Collector’s Guild, but he hadn’t been able to make it to the meeting where I was chosen for this trip. “What brings you here?”
“Well, I’ve got to keep things quiet, but I’ve been looking for anything strange or out of the ordinary here lately,” I said.
“You mean like a whole other bar just randomly attaching itself to this one?” Mako asked.
“Well, yes, that is definitely unusual,” I replied, “Although I don’t think it’s related to what I’m looking for.”
“What’re ya looking for?” Quest Collector asked.
“A suspicious man who might have come here for a drink,” I replied. “Probably someone who you wouldn’t normally see around here…”
“Is this related to your task that you’re working on?” Psychic asked.
“Umm…I don’t think I can really answer that question,” I said, blushing slightly. I was a horrible liar.
“Well, I personally haven’t seen anything, but there have been a lot of new people around here,” Mako said.
“Well, keep an eye out for me, will you, guys? Anything you hear about any unusual business,” I asked them.
“Of course,” Quest Collector said. “But be careful, okay? I can’t really put my finger on it, but somethin’ seems rather off lately.”
“I will!” I replied. “Thanks, guys. Talk to you later!”
I got up and looked around, walking towards the bar in an attempt to look like I was just getting a drink. A tap of my shoulder caused me to turn around to find my friend, Stickman Ninja. “Hey Stickman!” I said. “How are you doing?”
“Good, good,” he replied. “Fender sent me over. She needs to talk to you urgently.” Fender Benter was another good friend of mine, and Stickman’s girlfriend.
He led me over to a booth in the corner, where the great and mysterious oracle, Fender Benter, sat quietly.
“Hey Fender!” I said with a smile. “Is everything all right?”
“No, Josh,” she replied, her eyes looking sharply into my own. “There is a great darkness that surrounds your quest.”
“Do you know who’s behind this?” I asked quietly.
“His face is hidden in shadow,” she replied, “But I can tell you that he has a dark plan for your group. But there are other dangers, much closer to you at the moment, that you must face.”
“Wait, what do you mean? You mean the Rocket Bar appearance?”
“Look around you, Josh. Take a look at what you see, or rather, what you don’t see.”
I looked around the café. It still looked mostly the same, but then I realized something. I saw neither Bill nor Brad anywhere. I also realized that Jessie had never made her way here from the Rocket Bar. I turned back to Fender. “What’s going on? Where are they?”
“They have been swallowed by the danger that is close at hand,” Fender responded. “It lies here, even now, waiting to stop your quest before you can continue any further.” She nodded in the direction of some dark guards who stood in the corner on the far side of the café.
“What? Who is it? What’s going on?”
“There’s no time!” Fender said. “Return to the ship! Rally your allies. You may yet still be able to save the quest from being stopped. I can provide a distraction for you.”
Fender got up and nodded to Stickman. He took out a smoke bomb and threw it into the middle of the restaurant, creating a rather effective smoke screen the clouded the majority of the restaurant.
“Go quickly,” Fender said. “And good luck!”
I nodded and hugged the walls, making my way to the door and out back down the corridors to the docking area.
I turned the corner and saw several guards walking down the corridor towards the ship, led by Chuck Clusterbluck.
“I knew they’d come here!” Chuck said. “Probably wasting more taxpayer dollars on getting drunk instead of doing anything productive!” A guard came from the direction of the ship. “Well?” Chuck asked.
“There was no one on board the ship. It appears to have been abandoned,” the guard said.
“Well, I’m pretty sure we’ve rounded up all of them except for Sabrina and the Joel,” Chuck said. “Don’t know where they’re hiding, but they’ve got to be around here somewhere.”
“Sir,” another guard said. “We’ve just received word that some sort of smoke bomb was set off in the café.”
“That sounds like the Joel’s work!” Chuck said. “Let’s get him!”
I quickly ran back, diving into a pitch black room on the side of the hallway. Judging from the small size and the chemical smell, I was pretty sure I was in a janitor’s closet. Roger Wilco would be so proud of me right now!
I heard Chuck and his guards walk past me in the direction of the café. They had fortunately not seen or heard me, but now I realized I was alone, with most of my friends captured. But where were Serena and the Historian? And what would become of the rest of our adventurers? Before I could think further, a hand covered my mouth and pulled me further into the darkness…